Wednesday, March 25, 2015

VACCINE WARS - The Lie, Vaccines Cause Disorders

There is a war against vaccines that is putting our children in danger.

It is a war from parents who have no scientific evidence that vaccines cause disorders like Autism, their evidence is ONLY coincidental.

Example:  Autism presents during the same period that the triple-shot vaccine is given to children, so some parents make a connection.  But there is NO validated study that supports any connection between Autism and the triple-shot vaccine.  In fact there are studies that prove there is NO connection.

Suggest all who are concerned view the full documentary:

"The Vaccine War" Frontline 3/24/2015


There is also a mistaking idea that the diseases prevented by vaccinations are eradicated.  They are NOT.  The problem is parents who do not understand the medical science that viruses do not go away, they are still in the world and the diseases can come back, and WILL COME BACK if vaccinations are not given.

The younger generations have no experience with diseases that are prevented by vaccinations so they have no idea of the danger they are exposing their children, and children in they community, if they do not vaccinate.


Monday, March 23, 2015

SPORTS - Legalized Sport Gambling?

"Is legalizing sports gambling a mad idea?" PBS NewsHour 3/21/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Billions of dollars every year are wagered on the outcome of various sporting events, but except for bets made in Las Vegas and a few other states, they're all illegal.  Now, representatives from cash-strapped states and even the NBA commissioner are behind the push to legalize sports betting, which they say will yield economic benefits.  But plenty of opponents to the idea remain.  NewsHour's William Brangham reports.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Right now, millions of basketball fans in America are breaking the law… by betting on the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.  And it’s not just college hoops, it’s bets placed on any sport:  the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA. Billions of dollars every year are wagered, but — except for bets placed in person, in Las Vegas — they’re almost all illegal.

Chad Millman is the editor of ESPN the Magazine, which put NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — and his discussion of legalizing sports betting — on last month’s front cover.

Right now, outside of Las Vegas, it is illegal for me to place a bet on sports.  So how does one go about doing that?

CHAD MILLMAN, ESPN:  You call your bookie.  You go online.  A lot– there’s a lot of internet sites where you can make a bet.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Off-shore betting sites like this one, called Bovada, are a huge hub for betting on sports.  It’s illegal for Americans to use these sites, but they do.  Authorities have cracked down on these transactions, but they still continue.  Notice the website’s address — it’s bovada.lv — you might think that stands for ‘Las Vegas’?  No, it’s Latvia.

Because it’s a black market, it’s hard to know exactly how much money gets wagered illegally, but the Federal government estimated it ranges from 80 to 300 billion dollars — that’s billion with a 'b' — every year.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 3/20/2015

"Shields and Brooks on Netanyahu’s election provocation, human trafficking holdup" PBS NewsHour 3/20/2015

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including provocative pre-election comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the House Republicans’ budget priorities, the congressional standoff over the human trafficking bill, plus personal predictions for March Madness.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Let me turn you both to this country, to Congress.

Right now, the budget, Republicans — we now see, David, what the Republicans want to do with the budget.  Many of them are arguing we need to cut $5.5 trillion over the next 10 years, cutting Medicaid, cutting food stamps.  Democrats are screaming, this is way too much.  Do you see balance here?  What do you see?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Yes, this is sort of happening on two levels.

One is the grand vision level, what do you want, and the budget — the Republican budget in the House does have a grand vision.  They’re right to say we need massive changes to get the balance in budget.  Over the next 10 years, the national debt is rising significantly up to about 78 percent of GDP.  It’s very high, getting way higher the 10 out years.

So they do need to do things.  I think the Republican budget priorities are messed up.  I salute for the way they’re attacking some of the entitlement programs, but they are taking huge cuts, by pretending they’re just block-granting it to the states, out of Medicaid, from the least fortunate.

Then they’re taking huge cuts out of domestic discretionary spending, which is already at his historic lows.  And so I agree with the idea of cutting, but it should all be coming out of entitlements for the affluent and not out of domestic discretionary, which is welfare, education, all the stuff the government does, parks, FBI, and it shouldn’t be coming out of Medicaid.

So, I like their approach.  I just don’t like the priorities they demonstrate in the broad brush.  Let me just quickly on — the narrow thing is over where to cut defense.  And the Republicans are just hugely divided.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  I think they want to increase defense, Judy.  It’s part of the Republican creed.

And they — for the first time, understandably, they have a real advantage on national security.  And it’s measured in the polls.  We’re going into what they hope would be a national security election.  But it’s also part of what has been the consistent Republican position.

And they now are a more interventionist party than they have been at any time since George W. Bush left office.  But I — at the same time, you have got the deficit hawks who really are — it’s beyond — they have given a bad name to smoke and mirrors.  I mean, they are saying, we’re going to report — repeal the Affordable Care Act and we’re going to cut — we’re going to cut Medicare and Medicaid.

The Senate doesn’t do that, the Senate Republicans.  They voted for it when they were not in power, but they don’t include it as part of their agenda when they are in power.  So I think what we’re seeing is a lot of back and forth.  As long as Republicans won’t — won’t raise taxes and as long as Democrats won’t in any way make entitlements based on need, rather than just across the board, I really think that we’re doomed to this deadlock.
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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, the other story out of the Senate this week has to do with holding up the nomination, the confirmation vote on Loretta Lynch, the president’s choice to be attorney general.

In fact, the President, in an interview today with Huffington Post, said, don’t hold the attorney general nominee hostage for other reasons.  It’s the top law enforcement job.  He’s been arguing that they need to break the logjam.

But, Mark, the argument that Democrats are making is — or that Republicans are making is that we’re going to hold this up until you pass this human trafficking bill.  That’s now being held up by language over abortion.

Is there a real difference here, or is it just — is it pure politics?

MARK SHIELDS:  It’s the Senate at its worst.

The human trafficking bill was reported out unanimously.  The Hyde amendment, which has been in power — been in office for 40 years, Judy, prevents the use of public funds for abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

And it was on page four, page five of the bill.  It’s there.  And, finally, somebody at one of the pro-choice groups, ever vigilant, gets this language.  And it becomes a matter of faith for the Democrats.  You have to understand that Republicans are on lockstep on one issue.  They will not raise taxes.  Democrats are in lockstep on another issue, pro-choice in all cases on abortion.

So they have turned this in — human trafficking is lost.  Human trafficking is a human tragedy.  It’s an outrage against any decent people.  It’s — the victims are terribly, terribly treated, whether in sex trade or whatever.  This is a chance to get them back, to help them, to help local law enforcement do it.

And the Democrats are standing on one side, and the Republicans are playing games on the other.  Both sides are playing games.  They ought to pass the human trafficking immediately and they ought to confirm Loretta Lynch.

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes.  If we had a government that worked, the Republicans would say, OK, the attorney general has nothing to do with human trafficking.  We will let her go through.  And the Democrats would say, the Hyde amendment, it’s always been in these sorts of laws.  It has loopholes wide enough to drive a truck through.  It doesn’t have that much practical effect.  We will let that go through.

And both good things would get through.  But we don’t live in that country.

YEMEN - Escalating Violence

"Why violence is on the rise in Yemen" PBS NewsHour 3/20/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Yemen’s deadliest terror attack in decades left hundreds of casualties.  Judy Woodruff talks to Nabeel Khoury, a former State Department official in Yemen, about rising violence, ethnic tensions and power struggles in that country.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We want to take a closer look at today’s violence in Yemen and what it says about the state of that region.

Joining me now is Nabeel Khoury.  He had a career in the Foreign Service and was the deputy chief of mission in Yemen for the State Department from 2004 to 2007.

Welcome to the program.

NABEEL KHOURY, Former State Department Official in Yemen:  Happy to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, a terrible situation today.  Over a hundred and, what is it, 30 were killed, over 300 wounded, worst violence in decades.  How do you explain this?

NABEEL KHOURY:  Well, this attack was perpetrated against the Houthi in principal, who are in charge in Sanaa.

But, unfortunately, a soft target was chosen, meaning a mosque, where Zaidi Yemenis go.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Zaidi, a particular group.

NABEEL KHOURY:  Zaidism is a part of Shia Islam.  It broke off Shia Islam centuries ago.  But it’s closer to Shia Islam than it is to Sunni Islam.

PARENTING - Talking to African-American Sons

"How parents talk to their African-American sons about the police" PBS NewsHour 3/20/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As communities around the nation grapple with questions of race and police brutality, a New York Times short documentary asks parents of African-American boys what they say to their sons about how to respond if stopped by police.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Finally tonight, a special contribution to our series Race Today, where we have been exploring how different generations see the issues making headlines.

The conversation is a short film from the Op-Docs team at The New York Times.

Directors Geeta Gandbhir and Blair Foster spoke to parents of African-American boys about the conversation they have with their sons on how to respond when stopped by the police.

MAN:  There’s this unspoken code of white — of racism and white supremacy that says that my life doesn’t matter.

WOMAN:  You can put your hands up and say — and cooperate and say that I’m choking and still be killed and then there’s no repercussions.

WOMAN:  It’s maddening.  I get so frustrated and angry about having to prepare my kids for something that they’re not responsible for.

WOMAN:  And these are conversations that people of other races do not have to have with their children.

MAN:  The conversation with him was really just, look, you’re a beautiful young boy.

WOMAN:  Being African-American is a wonderful thing, it’s a wonderful blessing, you have come from great people, but it’s also a hard thing.

MAN:  In America, because of your skin color, as a black boy and as a black man, we are going to be dealing with a lot of danger.


"A Conversation With My Black Son" New York Times Op Docs

WHITE HOUSE - Keeping of Secrets

"Obama White House keeping more secrets than any before" PBS NewsHour 3/19/2015

My opinion?  President Obama has just run up against the reality of the post-9/11 world.  Some things made public mean our enemies get the same information, which is not good.  Then add all the talk about 'privacy' and so why wonder some redactions may be about privacy.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Despite a pledge to deliver the most open and transparent administration in U.S. history, some say that the Obama White House has fallen short on that promise, with harsh punishments for high-profile whistleblowers and a record number of Freedom of Information Act request denials.  Hari Sreenivasan learns more from Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Even before he was elected, President Obama promised his would be the most open and transparent administration ever.  He can claim credit for some progress on that front, including opening up Presidential records, declassifying some data, and pushing federal agencies to reveal more information to the public.

But, by other measures, many experts and journalists say the administration falls far short, including in its treatment of high-profile whistleblowers.

And a new Associated Press analysis says the administration has set a record for denying access to files or censoring them under the Freedom of Information Act.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The analysis looked at requests for information made to 100 federal agencies last year by citizens, journalists and businesses.  More than 700,000 requests were made.  The Associated Press said the administration either denied access to information or censored in 39 percent of those requests.  That’s more than 250,000 cases overall.

Sometimes, the denial was small, such as a phone number.  Sometimes, it was the majority of a document.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was pressed on the administration’s transparency.  His analysis was quite different.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:  Across the administration, we actually do have a lot to brag about when it comes to responsiveness to Freedom of Information Act requests.

And just today, the Justice Department did release records or metrics to fiscal year 2014.  The administration in fiscal year 2014 alone processed 647,142 FOIA requests, and over 91 percent of those requests resulted in the release of either some or all of the requested records.

FADING DREAM - Haves and Have-Nots

"What’s splitting a new generation of haves and have-nots" PBS NewsHour 3/19/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Political scientist Robert Putnam grew up in Port Clinton, Ohio, a town where, he says, both rich and poor children grew up together and had bright opportunities.  But in the past few decades, social mobility has declined and the haves and have-nots have become increasingly segregated.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman offers a look at what drove Putnam to write his new book, “Our Kids.”

DAVE BRICKNER (interviewee):  I am a little strong here, and I’m going to need a little elbow room.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  Dave Brickner, currently ranked 31st worldwide in the video golf betting game “Golden Tee.”

DAVE BRICKNER:  Whoa.

Brickner owns and runs this bar in Port Clinton, Ohio, to supplement his first job doing maintenance on Wendy’s restaurants in the northwest part of the state.

DAVE BRICKNER:  I’m working two jobs to make ends meet.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Jim Cornell is a carpenter.

JIM CORNELL:  There’s only part-time jobs for most people around here.

DAVE BRICKNER:  The haves and have-nots is — you’re definitely seeing it.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Rust Belt decline, growing inequality, a familiar tale, perhaps, but one getting a new twist from Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who grew up in Port Clinton, returned after decades away and was stunned by what he saw, the death of social mobility.

“My hometown was, in the 1950s, a passable embodiment of the American dream,” he writes in his new book, “Our Kids,” “a place that offered decent opportunity for all the kids in town, whatever their background,” including those who lived on the wrong side of the tracks.

BOOK - Poignant Memoir of Caretaking

"Memoir marks the moment when parent and child roles are reversed" PBS NewsHour 3/19/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  George Hodgman left a fast-paced life as an editor in Manhattan for small town Missouri to care for his elderly mother.  Judy Woodruff sits down with Hodgman to discuss his poignant memoir of caretaking, “Bettyville.”

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It is a memoir of a son and his mother at the twilight of her life, the son who returns from the fast track Manhattan life to the small town of Paris, Missouri. It’s about loss, but also about discovery.  It’s about struggle and courage, but ultimately it’s about love.

The it is “Bettyville” by George Hodgman, a former magazine and book editor at Simon & Schuster and Vanity Fair and Talk magazine.

George Hodgman, welcome to the program.

GEORGE HODGMAN, Author, “Bettyville”:  Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You spent years as an editor, but you had never written a book until this one.  Did that make it easier or harder?

GEORGE HODGMAN:  I think that I always, always wanted to write a book, and I had been carrying around little slivers.

And this emotional moment just had to allowed me to access everything.  And the editing, I learned a lot about what I should have been doing as an editor all these years when I became a writer.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  I want you to fold that in to coming home to Missouri, a place you left, maybe thinking you would never go back.

GEORGE HODGMAN:  I am surprised to find myself back, but I also am surprisingly happy there.

I had lived on my own and for myself in a lot of ways, and it’s nice to be in a different kind of community for a little while.  I have been around hard-driving, ambitious, kind of self-centered people.  And I’m enjoying a completely different kind of life.

I mean, it’s interesting, because my East Coast friends are — were so determined to get me back.  And they had such negative attitudes about this part of the country and, you know, religious fanatics and right-wingers and everything.  And it was a good lesson in learning that the stereotypes that I had sort of acquired were not always so accurate.

FEDERAL BUDGET - According to the GOP

"Trillion Dollar Fraudsters" by Paul Krugman, New York Times 3/20/2015

By now it’s a Republican Party tradition:  Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground.  Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks:  one on spending, one on revenue.  And that’s actually an understatement.  If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

You might be tempted to shrug this off, since these budgets will not, in fact, become law.  Or you might say that this is what all politicians do.  But it isn’t.  The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics.  And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum.

So, about those budgets:  both claim drastic reductions in federal spending.  Some of those spending reductions are specified:  There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies.  Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance.  But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security.  What form would these further cuts take?  We get no hint.

Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies.  That’s $1 trillion of revenue.  Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue.  How, exactly?  We are, again, given no hint.

And there’s more:  The budgets also claim large reductions in spending on other programs.  How would these be achieved?  You know the answer.

It’s very important to realize that this isn’t normal political behavior.  The George W. Bush administration was no slouch when it came to deceptive presentation of tax plans, but it was never this blatant.  And the Obama administration has been remarkably scrupulous in its fiscal pronouncements.

O.K., I can already hear the snickering, but it’s the simple truth.  Remember all the ridicule heaped on the spending projections in the Affordable Care Act?  Actual spending is coming in well below expectations, and the Congressional Budget Office has marked its forecast for the next decade down by 20 percent.  Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term?  Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year.  The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.

So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan.  It’s a modern Republican thing.  And the question we should ask is why.

One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible.  So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.

But I’m partial to a more cynical explanation.  Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements.  What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts.  And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do:  make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.

But this is, of course, not a policy direction the public would support if it were clearly explained.  So the budgets must be sold as courageous efforts to eliminate deficits and pay down debt — which means that they must include trillions in imaginary, unexplained savings.

Does this mean that all those politicians declaiming about the evils of budget deficits and their determination to end the scourge of debt were never sincere?  Yes, it does.

Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence.  But please try.  We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.

MISSISSIPPI - 'Jesus Take the Wheel Act'

"Mississippi House passes 'Jesus Take the Wheel Act'" by Jen Hayden, Daily KOS

Mississippi lawmakers are once again tackling the big issues in the state.  The highest poverty rate of any state in the country?  Hahahaha ... no.  The second-highest high school dropout rate in the country?  No, no.  The second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country?  Awww, hell no.

What is more pressing than extreme poverty?  Well, the Mississippi House did pass a bill (HB 132), nicknamed the "Jesus Take the Wheel Act", that would exempt churches from commercial driver's license requirements:

"This just allows small churches, some don't have people with commercial licenses at all, and they can pick a person to drive the bus," said state Rep. Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, who chairs the Transportation Committee which had passed the bill earlier in the session.

Current law requires CDL-certified drivers for any vehicle transporting more than 16 passengers, including the driver.  The bill would amend that law to exempt church buses designed to carry 30 passengers or less.

To be clear, we aren't talking about extended passenger vans.  Thirty-passenger buses, like the one pictured below, are much larger than vans and all other business and schools would still have to have a CDL license to operate such a vehicle.



Since the exemption would also include buses and large transport vehicles carry children to and from events, not everyone is happy about the exemption:

When contacted by The Clarion-Ledger, longtime CDL-certified driver Troy Coll of Hattiesburg called the measure potentially dangerous.

"I think this bill is trading the safety of everyone on the road for the convenience of those operating church vehicles," Coll said.  "Since the bill covers vehicles up to 30 passengers, we're not just talking vans with extra rows of seats – these are buses, with long frames and much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

POLITICS - Republican Obsession With Money

Republican actions (not words) prove that they are obsessed with money.

They refuse to pay for anything that costs too much (in their eyes) EXCEPT national defense and tax breaks for the top 1% high-income people.  Any program that would benefit the other 99% of the people are on the chopping block.  The 99% of 'the people' are not worth the cost.

"What House Republicans hope next year’s budget will look like" PBS Newshour 3/17/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  House Republicans revealed their 2016 budget plan, pushing for deep cuts to lower the deficit, while preserving defense spending.  What are the political calculations behind the proposal?  Political editor Lisa Desjardins joins Gwen Ifill for a look at the priorities fueling the GOP budget.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  A new budget plan released today by House Republicans reveals the yawning partisan chasm that still exists when it comes to taxes and spending, as the GOP pushes for deep cuts and a balanced budget, and Democrats say the budget needs to grow.  As always, the choices are not that simple.

Joining me with the story of the policies and priorities behind the budget debate is NewsHour political editor Lisa Desjardins.

Thank you for joining us again, Lisa.

And maybe you can explain this for us.  They’re talking about $5 trillion in savings in this proposed budget that the House leaders put out today.  What does that represent?

LISA DESJARDINS, Political Reporter & Editor:  Five trillion dollars in savings is over 10 years.  That represents two priorities for Republicans.

What they are choosing with this budget, let’s just put it simply, is they’re choosing to try to pay down the debt.  They would balance the budget in a remarkable nine years.  Usually, it’s 10 years.  And then the other priority they’re choosing here, Gwen, is defense.  Even as they’re paying down the deficit and the debt ultimately, they also are increasing spending for defense.

That’s a bit like trying to dig out a hole even as you’re putting more dirt in it.  It’s very ambitious.  Because those are their priorities, this would mean dramatic cuts for everyone else, for discretionary funding, which means most of government.  Very hard to see these cuts taking place without government layoffs, for example.

SPORTS - Technology to Prevent Brain Trauma

"Can a helmet sensor help prevent brain trauma in athletes?" PBS Newshour 3/17/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As we learn more about the effects of concussions and sports-related head trauma, parents, coaches and medical professionals are debating how to keep players safe.  Some are looking to technology, like a device worn under the helmet that shows the force of impact after a fall or collision.  Hari Sreenivasan reports as part of our Breakthroughs series.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Next, the risk of concussions in sports and trying to lower those odds.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland shocked the pro football world yesterday by announcing his decision to retire from the game after a strong rookie season.  Borland, who is 24 years old and was expected to earn more than a half-million dollars next season, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” he was concerned about head trauma from repeated hits.

CHRIS BORLAND, Former NFL Player:  It was just kind of the realization.  I had just started my professional career.  And am I going to go down this road?  Am I going to commit the prime of my life to something that could ultimately be detrimental to my health?  And that just kind of triggered my thinking and changed the way I viewed the risks.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Borland becomes the most prominent player to leave the game in his prime based on those risks.

But worries are also growing among many parents of younger athletes and kids playing sports.  It turns out researchers are looking into whether electronics can make sports safer.

Hari Sreenivasan reports on new innovations for brain safety on the playing field.  It’s part of our continuing series on Breakthroughs.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Contact sports like hockey can be brutal; 19-year-old Oliver Bech-Hansen describes getting hit so hard, he lost his memory.

OLIVER BECH-HANSEN:  I just couldn’t remember everything.  It took me a couple weeks before I finally — I slowly started remembering things that happened.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  As the spotlight on concussions and head trauma intensifies, parents, coaches, and medical professionals are debating how to keep players safe, and some are looking to technology.

The Jersey Wildcats, a league of 16-to-20-year-olds, have been experimenting with a head impact device donated by Reebok.  The device, called Checklight, is worn under the helmet and features an LED light on the back of the neck that flashes if a player takes a big blow.

COLLEGE - Stressing About Admissions

"Why families stress too much about college admissions" PBS Newshour 3/17/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The college admissions process can be riddled with anxiety and stress for high school seniors and their parents.  But in the book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” author and New York Times columnist Frank Bruni argues it doesn’t have to be this way.  Jeffrey Brown sits down with Bruni to discuss how the obsession with getting into the right school may not pay off.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Where did you go to college?  And more to the point, for many young people now awaiting decisions, where do you hope to go, and how much do you have riding on it?

A new book with the provocative title “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be” proposes that the whole college admissions process is out of whack and even that rejection can be a wonderful thing.

Its author is New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, who, for the record, attended the University of North Carolina.

So, madness, nonsense, those are just some of the words you use for what you see as a broken system.  What’s the brunt of the argument? What happened to our system?

FRANK BRUNI, Author, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be“:  What happened to our system is, we became brand-obsessed.  We became convinced, or at least parents did, that if their kids didn’t get into the right colleges, they wouldn’t have as bright futures, they wouldn’t make as much money.

We somehow bought that this moment in late March, early April, when you find out where you’re going to go to school, sets the whole trajectory for your life.  And it’s so untrue and it’s the source of so much unnecessary anxiety.  And that’s what I go into in the book.

MILLENNIALS - Student Debt to Retirement

"Between student debt and part-time work, what Millennials should do now to save for retirement" PBS Newshour 3/17/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As Baby Boomers approach retirement, the Millennial generation is getting its foothold in the workforce, and facing financial challenges making it hard to save for later years.  Judy Woodruff talks to Jen Mishory of Young Invincibles and David John of AARP about the different factors that have shaped each generation’s saving habits and how young Americans can meet their retirement goals.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This year, millennials, the group roughly 18 to 34 years old, will overtake baby boomers as the largest living generation in the country.  And even at the dawn of their careers, it turns out they are more worried about retirement than previous generations.  And perhaps they should be.

Here to help fill in the picture, Jen Mishory. She is executive director of Young Invincibles.  It’s a research and advocacy group for young adults.  And David John, he’s a senior policy adviser with AARP.  He also works on retirement issues at the Brookings Institution.

And we welcome both of you to the NewsHour.

DAVID JOHN, AARP:  Thank you.

JEN MISHORY, Young Invincibles:  Thanks so much for having us.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So we know today the average retirement age for men is 64.  For women, it’s 62.  And we also know that studies are showing that most millennials expect to retire, they say, by age 65, but they plan to keep on working while they’re in retirement.

Jen Mishory, how much are they thinking about retirement, this generation?

JEN MISHORY:  Yes, absolutely.

Young people are thinking about retirement today.  When young people, for example, have access to a retirement account, they are actually saving at relatively consistent rates.  The problem is we’re actually not seeing young people accessing things like retirement accounts at the same rate.

So only about half of workers have access to that kind of traditional retirement account.  Young people, 25 percent of young people are part-time workers, so you’re seeing just fewer and fewer young workers having access to those kinds of mechanisms to actually save and at the same time struggling with things like student debt, struggling coming out of this recession.

So we’re looking at a problem also around wealth accumulation.

CANCER - Training Immune Cells

"Experimental therapy trains immune cells to hunt and kill blood cancers" PBS Newshour 3/17/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  At the University of Pennsylvania, a research team has been working on an experimental treatment to kill leukemia with a patient's own immune system cells.  So far, the results have shown startling success.  Special correspondent Jackie Judd reports on the growing research on immunotherapy in fighting cancer.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now to a promising medical story in the continuing fight against cancer.  It’s about a big change in the world of oncology.

These days, there’s growing interest, better results and more pharmaceutical dollars to develop immunotherapy, or using one’s immune system to attack cancer cells.  It’s been a long road to get to this point.  For decades, researchers have tried to find a way to make this kind of treatment work for patients.  And now oncologists believe they are turning a corner.

Special correspondent Jackie Judd has our report about one intriguing approach in Philadelphia.

JACKIE JUDD (NewsHour):  This is your first look?

DR. CARL JUNE, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania:  Yes, it is.

JACKIE JUDD:  If buildings tell a story, the story here is one of progress.  Dr. Carl June leads the team responsible for a promising trial in which the body’s immune system is turned into a cancer-fighting weapon.

He and a once-small group of researchers began work in a closet-sized space, but soon will have two floors of what will be a state-of-the-art building at the University of Pennsylvania.

And this will be the largest group of people working on immunotherapy in an institution?

DR. CARL JUNE:  Oh, yes, we think by far it’s the largest group in the world.

JACKIE JUDD:  Here is why.  Since 2010, a group of children and adults suffering from leukemia and running out of treatment options have been in an experimental trial in which their immune system cells were genetically modified to kill cancer.  It is an approach other institutions are pursuing as well.  The first results at Penn startled even Dr. June.

SYRIA - War Rages On

"Can anything break the Syrian war stalemate?" PBS Newshour 3/16/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Since the start of Syria's war four years ago, more than 200,000 people have died and millions have been made homeless.  Two rounds of peace talks have already failed.  What can be done to bring an end to the war?  Judy Woodruff talks to Steven Heydemann of the United States Institute of Peace, Hisham Melhem of Al Arabiya News and former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  On Israel’s border, a morbid anniversary passes this week for a raging war which has claimed more than 200,000 lives, and has left millions homeless.

Four years in, and there’s no end in sight to the killing in Syria.  Just today, new government airstrikes hit a suburb of Damascus.  And Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted again he’s staying until his own countrymen decide otherwise.

PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria (through interpreter): Whether they say I remain or not, the Syrian people have the final say on this particular matter.  Anything that came from outside the borders was only words and interference that disappears after a while.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  That last was aimed at Secretary of State John Kerry.  Sunday, on CBS, he suggested any effort toward a transition in Syria would include Assad after all.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  I am convinced that, with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad.

QUESTION:  And you would be willing to negotiate with him?

JOHN KERRY:  Well, we have to negotiate in the end.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Kerry’s words raised eyebrows, but U.S. officials quickly insisted President Obama’s policy has not changed from this in 2012.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  President al-Assad has lost legitimacy.  He needs to step down.

JOBS - Home Care Workers Wages

"Why home care workers struggle with low wages" PBS Newshour 3/16/2015

Because money-before-people Republicans will block any attempt for fair wages.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  With most aging Americans wanting to stay in their own homes, the need for in-home caregivers is skyrocketing.  But unlike most other jobs, there's no federal guarantee that these workers get minimum wage or overtime.  Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports on the challenge of getting care that’s reasonably priced while still paying caretakers a living wage.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  We now turn to another in our occasional series on long-term care.

As Americans age, most prefer to stay in their own homes and get help when needed with the basics of daily living.  A nationwide campaign kicked off last week calling attention to the jobs and the wages of home care workers.

Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports.

OLA MAE JONES:  Good morning.

THERESA KING:  Good morning.

It’s a passion job, so it takes a lot of patience, a lot of kindness.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY (NewsHour):  In Long Beach, California, Theresa King cares for 88-year-old Ola Mae Jones, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

THERESA KING:  I’m cooking you some fish.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  From cooking, to cleaning, to comfort.

THERESA KING:  Don’t you love me, huh?

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  The job is physically demanding and emotionally draining.  King makes $9.70 cents an hour, almost exactly the average for the nation’s two million home care workers.

THERESA KING (singing):  I want to shout about it.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  About 90 percent are women.  Half are people of color.  Like King, many don’t work full-time and don’t get benefits.  She qualifies for food stamps and says, on her income, she can’t afford some basic necessities.

HUMOR - Outragious to Cute



Squeaker Than Toys
Screaming Frog

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TECHNOLOGY - Transparent Solar Cells

"A fully transparent solar cell that could make every window and screen a power source" by Sebastian Anthony, Extreme Tech

Researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell.  Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story.  According to Richard Lunt, who led the research, the team are confident that the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”


Scientifically, a transparent solar panel is something of an oxymoron.  Solar cells, specifically the photovoltaic kind, make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity).  If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium to strike the back of your eye.  This is why previous transparent solar cells have actually only been partially transparent — and, to add insult to injury, they usually they cast a colorful shadow too.

To get around this limitation, the Michigan State researchers use a slightly different technique for gathering sunlight.  Instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell (which is nigh impossible), they use a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC).  The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible).  This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.  [Research paper:  DOI: 10.1002/adom.201400103 - "Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators"]

If you look closely, you can see a couple of black strips along the edges of plastic block. Otherwise, though, the active organic material — and thus the bulk of the solar panel — is highly transparent.

Michigan’s TLSC currently has an efficiency of around 1%, but they think 5% should be possible.  Non-transparent luminescent concentrators (which bathe the room in colorful light) max out at around 7%.  On their own these aren’t huge figures, but on a larger scale — every window in a house or office block — the numbers quickly add up.  Likewise, while we’re probably not talking about a technology that can keep your smartphone or tablet running indefinitely, replacing your device’s display with a TLSC could net you a few more minutes or hours of usage on a single battery charge.

The researchers are confident that the technology can be scaled all the way from large industrial and commercial applications, down to consumer devices, while remaining “affordable.”  So far, one of the larger barriers to large-scale adoption of solar power is the intrusive and ugly nature of solar panels — obviously, if we can produce large amounts of solar power from sheets of glass and plastic that look like normal sheets of glass and plastic, then that would be big.

Monday, March 16, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Gerson 3/13/2015

"Shields and Gerson on Clinton’s email problem, Senate sabotage of Iran negotiations" PBS NewsHour 3/13/2015

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to concerns about her use of email, the letter sent by Republican senators to Iran’s leadership, and the fallout from a video capturing a racist chant at the University of Oklahoma.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s…Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

Mark, did she answer all the questions out there with her news conference this week?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  No, of course not, Judy.

The questions will keep coming and keep coming.  But there was one result of it that just hit me so hard.  And that is the great advice, beware of any national leader — and I don’t limit this to Secretary Clinton, by any means — but who doesn’t have close to him or her contemporary friends and confidants who can tell them when necessary they’re absolutely wrong and go to hell.

And very few Presidents — Jerry Ford did, to his everlasting credit.  He was an enormously emotionally secure man.  Ronald Reagan chose Jim Baker to be his chief of staff, who had run two campaigns against him, as examples of that sort of emotional security and stability.

I just ask Mrs. Clinton, who in your retinue, among your group of advisers, when you had the idea of having a personal computer e-mail service of your own, an individual one, who didn’t say, are you out of your “expletive deleted” mind?   This is politically indefensible and probably morally indefensible and may be legally problematic.

And I guess that is what really bothers me.  And I think that’s a question that persists even after all the details, whether the relevance or irrelevance of the e-mails turns out to be anything at all legally or substantively.  That is a real problem.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What about the questions?  Did she answer any of the questions?

MICHAEL GERSON, Washington Post:  Well, I think the proper word for the press conference, it was really brazen.  It was bold.  She went out there.  She had total control over her e-mails in a private server while she was serving in government.

She decided — she and her people decided what should be revealed and what should be eliminated.
-----
MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I think this is a question that is going to nag at Democrats.  Is this going to be — we’re seeing it right at the outset, that relations with the press are frosty, to the point of arctic, and that there is a sense, not simply from this, but that we’re going back into let’s go to the barricades.  It’s let’s circle the wagons.

There’s a certain mentality that way.  We’re not going to take anything.  And I think in a nation that is as polarized politically as we are, as acrimonious as it has become, I think this is really not the atmosphere that you want to create.  She is not the only person who has an e-mail problem, by any means.  Every candidate on the Republican side has an e-mail.

And they have made unilateral — Governor Bush made unilateral decisions on what was personal.  Governor Walker has persistent problems.  But I’m just talking about the approach.

And Michael’s seat 22 years ago sat David Gergen, who went over to the White House having worked for President Reagan, Bush and Ford to work for President Clinton. Whitewater was then the big thing.
-----
JUDY WOODRUFF:  Let’s talk about another — another story that was very much out there this week, the letter, Mark, 47 Republican senators sending a letter to the leadership in Iran saying, be careful, don’t sign a nuclear deal with the United States.

Was this — were they well-advised to sign this, to do this?

MARK SHIELDS:  A respected national columnist with impeccable conservative credentials wrote of this letter, “In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about Republicans’ capacity to govern.

And just by accident, Michael happens to be here, the author of those words.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SHIELDS:  I think he said it very well.

This, Judy, was more than a faux pas or a slip-up.  I think it is a reflection of Mitch McConnell in a really negative way, that his leadership is defective.  The fact that he didn’t even consult with the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of his own party, who opposed this and was trying to put together a bipartisan coalition of Democrats who had doubts and skepticism about the Iranian deal, that he just steamrolled it ahead and made it a matter of party loyalty and party unity, and essentially put us in a position where we’re at odds with our European allies, who are now doubting the United States and whether, in fact, we’re substantive, I mean, it just — whether we’re — we can be relied upon in this.

And to sabotage bipartisanship, it was done, effectively, in the Senate, and to sabotage the hopes of any kind of a deal to limit the nuclear building of the Iranians.
-----
On Iran nuclear deal

MARK SHIELDS:  Judy, just one point.  There are seven nations involved here.  I mean, this isn’t just the — Barack Obama and the Republican Senate Caucus.  This is France and Great Britain and Germany and China and Russia and the United States and Iran trying to come to a deal.

That is a remarkable achievement, if you can pull it off, with those seven countries all agreeing on inspections and a timetable.  That’s important.

TERRORISM - More on Boston Marathon Bombing

"Tsarnaev wrote about Boston Marathon killings while hidden in boat" PBS NewsHour 3/13/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In the second week of the Boston Marathon bombing trial, jurors heard emotional testimony from a victim who lost both legs and the FBI presented stitched-together surveillance video tracing the suspect’s path to and from the bombing.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Emily Rooney of WGBH about a note scrawled by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while he was hiding from authorities in a boat.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This was an eventful week in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is charged with the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013.  He’s facing 30 federal charges, 17 of which carry the death penalty.

Hari Sreenivasan in our New York studios has an update.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The week started off with testimony from victims and their families.  It also included revelations for the first time of a full message that a wounded Tsarnaev scrawled on a bullet-riddled boat just before he was caught by a manhunt.  And the trial showed off new surveillance video from the day of the attacks on Boylston Street.

Emily Rooney of WGBH-Boston has been covering the trial, joins me again tonight.

Is started out with some emotional testimony this week.  Who did you hear from?

EMILY ROONEY, WGBH News:  We did, Hari.

The person we heard from that really stuck out in everybody’s mind was a young woman named Jessica Kensky.  She came into court wearing a skirt.  You could see two stumps coming out from underneath the skirt.  It’s the first time that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev recognized anybody.  He’s been completely disengaged, doesn’t look to the witness box, which is only about eight feet to his right.

LEGACY - Architect Michael Graves

"From towers to teapots, architect Michael Graves left a colorful mark" PBS NewsHour 3/13/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Architect Michael Graves brought a whimsical, postmodern style to monumental buildings and even health care facilities.  But he also designed practical, popular household goods, including a famous whistling teapot.  To remember the architect, who died Thursday at the age of 80, Jeffrey Brown talks to Robert Ivy of the American Institute of Architects about how he left his mark.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Around the world and especially in this country, Michael Graves left his mark through buildings of color, ornament, and whimsy.

The municipal building in Portland, Oregon, the Humana Tower in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Disney Corporation’s headquarters in Burbank, California.

Yet he was known to many more for his smaller works, designing household goods like toasters, clocks and his famous whistling teakettle through a partnership with Target stores in the 1990s.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:  Michael Graves is a rare individual who finds equal wonder in things both large and small.

JEFFREY BROWN:  President Clinton awarded Graves the National Medal of the Arts in 1999.

At the time, Graves had designed the scaffolding for the Washington Monument’s renovation.

He spoke to Margaret Warner about that project and his broader interests.

MICHAEL GRAVES:  I have never thought that architecture is limited to, you know, making just buildings.  We came through a time in the 1950s where architects became specialists.  They were going to only do museums or only do, let’s say, office buildings.

But small things, as well as large things, interest me a whole lot.  And I don’t see why to — why I should stop at the moment we reach the door.


EXAMPLES:






WALL STREET - The Spooked Market

"Why good economic news spooked markets this week" PBS NewsHour 3/13/2015

Because Wall Street has a short attention span, worst that your 2yr old.  Duh, the market goes up and down, so don't panic.  They are also very short sighted, so even with all the warnings they failed to plan ahead on investments.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Anxiety over interest rates, the dollar and falling oil prices drove volatility in the financial markets this week; even good news seemed to upset investors. Judy Woodruff talks to Mark Vitner of Wells Fargo about what’s causing the turmoil and what it says about the global economy.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It was another tough day for the financial markets, capping a volatile week, one marked by anxiety over interest rates, the dollar, and falling oil prices, among other things.

More puzzling in some ways, there was good economic news earlier this week, and that still seemed to upset investors.  What’s happening here?  And does the volatility of recent weeks suggest the end of a bull market?

Well, Mark Vitner is a managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, and he joins me now.

So, Mark Vitner, how do you explain all this volatility and especially the downward move after this good news on jobs last week?

MARK VITNER, Wells Fargo:  Well, I think it’s really just part of the adjustment process.

We have had interest rates stuck at zero for eight years now, and the economy has improved to the point where the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates probably in June, but probably no later than September.  They’re almost definitely going up this year.

And that causes people to reassess how they position certain investments.  Companies that are interest-rate sensitive are now falling out of favor.  And we have got a lot else going on in the world that’s unnerving the markets.  The dollar has strengthened tremendously and has done it very fast.  And we have had this incredible slide in oil prices, which you would think is a good thing, but it’s got some people questioning why on earth are prices falling so far so fast.

EDUCATION & JOBS - Coding Academies

"Coding academies offer fast track to good jobs" PBS NewsHour 3/12/2015

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  Economics correspondent Paul Solman visits New York's Flatiron School, one of numerous coding bootcamps online and around the country that are designed to help graduates land jobs in a high-demand industry.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  What’s making this drone fly?  Not a remote-control gizmo, but computer code written by students at New York’s Flatiron School, one of numerous coding boot camps online and around the country designed to land their graduates gigs in perhaps the hottest field in America right now, Web development.

AVI FLOMBAUM, Co-Founder and Dean, Flatiron School:  I think that, if you program today, you’re a man that can see in a blind man’s world.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Programming is big right now, says Flatiron co-founder and dean Avi Flombaum, and it will be even bigger in the future, which growth in coding jobs forecast to be double that of job growth overall.

AVI FLOMBAUM:  There’s just such a demand for these kinds of skills that, if you are competent and you are passionate about this and you are a self-driven person, there are more opportunities than we can possibly fill.
-----
PAUL SOLMAN:  Twelve weeks of immersive coding, no experience required, at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000.  But, at the end, 99 percent of Flatiron graduates get jobs as developers, making, on average, $74,000 a year to start.
-----
GERALDINA GARCIA, Flatiron School Student:  I kind of got into the tech industry and realized how unimportant a college degree really is.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Garcia, who had majored in computer science, joins a growing chorus of those questioning the value of a degree from a traditional four-year university, especially if it means assuming debt.

COMMENT:  This has happened before, the big demand.  But there is a limit to jobs in this sector and the demand will fall as the limit is reached, and you will end with a plateau in demand.

SPORTS - Baseball's New Rules

"With new rules aimed at speeding up the game, MLB hopes to strike a sweet spot" PBS NewsHour 3/12/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The average length of a baseball game is three hours and two minutes, half an hour longer than in the 1980s, and officials are concerned the game is going on too long.  To speed up the sport, Major League Baseball is experimenting with new rules during spring training, including what happens in between innings and in the batter's box.  Hari Sreenivasan learns more from Mike Pesca of Slate's "The Gist."

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Baseball has always been, famously, a game played with few concerns about time and pacing.  With no time constraints to guide it, play goes on, until someone wins.  Well, spring training has begun and there are new rules this year intended to speed up the game.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Have you been to a baseball game any time in the past few years or even watched one on TV?  The average length is now three hours and two minutes.  That is about a half-hour longer than it was in the early ’80s.

And Major League Baseball is concerned about that.  With exhibition games under way in Arizona and Florida, the league is making some adjustments, including what happens between innings and in the batter’s box.

Mike Pesca joins us now.  He is the host of Slate’s daily news and discussion podcast “The Gist” and a contributor to NPR.

So, first of all, what are the changes that they’re trying to make?

MIKE PESCA, Slate’s “The Gist” podcast:  Well, one of them is just enforcing a rule that’s on the books.  The batter cannot step out of the batter’s box, always has to have a foot there.

And the reason is, if you watch a baseball game — and this is a recent trend — the batters adjust every piece of equipment, even when all they do is stand there and take a pitch.  Somehow, their batting gloves got loose during that.  And one of the things — it’s a few things.  It’s an affectation.  It’s a habit.  Sometimes, it’s trying to get in the head of the pitchers.

But here’s baseball saying, guys, stay in the batter’s box and get ready for the next pitch.  And another thing that they’re doing is, there’s not a clock during the game, but in between innings, it will be two minutes, 25 seconds, or in a nationally televised game, two minutes, 45 seconds between innings.  Things will be timed to that.

So, with 20 seconds remaining, they will start to announce that the batter is entering the box.  And then the pitcher will be ending his warmups before the inning starts.  So when you come back from commercial, the batter will be right there ready to receive the pitch, the pitcher will be ready to go.  This will speed things up a little, they hope.

POLICING - Repercussions of Ferguson

"Will events in Ferguson help define the future of American policing?" PBS NewsHour 3/12/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Hours after the chief of the embattled Ferguson Police Department resigned, two officers were shot from afar during a peaceful protest.  For reaction to the events and how they affect law enforcement, Judy Woodruff talks to Chuck Wexler of the Police of Executive Research Forum, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and Darrel Stephens of Major Cities Chiefs.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Late today, Saint Louis County police told the NewsHour that county and state police will take over security at any Ferguson protests tonight.

Now for a look at what this moment means for law enforcement officers in Ferguson and around the country, I’m joined by Cincinnati police chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who is in Atlanta for a law enforcement conference, by Chuck Wexler.  He’s the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.  And Darrel Stephens, he’s the executive director of the Major Cities’ Chiefs Association.

Welcome to all three of you.

Darrel Stephens, let me start with you.  You do represent tens of thousands of police officers across the country.  What is your reaction to what happened last night in Ferguson?

DARREL STEPHENS, Executive Director, Major Cities Chiefs Association:  Well, unfortunately, it’s another one of those tragic situations where police officers have been ambushed.  Police officers that were at a peaceful protest that were completely unaware that someone was waiting in the background to take a shot at them.

So it’s — it puts the police officers not only in the Saint Louis County area in a situation of being fearful when they hit the streets.  It has an impact throughout the country.  It’s something that they’re used to, something that they’re trained to respond to, but, nevertheless, it’s an increasing challenge for them to go out, do their job, police, and police effectively when they have this on their mind all the time.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Chief Blackwell, what were your thoughts when you heard about what happened?  And do you agree with Mr. Stephens that this kind of thing has an impact everywhere?

JEFFREY BLACKWELL, Chief, Cincinnati Police Department:  It absolutely does.  I agree with him wholeheartedly.

I think anything like this, what affects — I say it all the time — what affects us anywhere affects us everywhere in American policing.  And so this act of cowardly injustice committed against these police officers has those officers more on edge now today, at a time when we’re trying to increase collaboration and mend the fracture that is existing in that community.

It makes it hard to move forward when you have these type of activities taking place.


RACISM - University of Oklahoma

"Racist video by University of Oklahoma frat prompts protest, apologies and expulsions" PBS NewsHour 3/11/2015

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, the continuing fallout at the University of Oklahoma after members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were caught on camera singing racist epithets.

The video came out Saturday, and action was taken within 48 hours.  But the university, the national fraternity, and others are still the focus of many concerns.

It’s the chant that sparked outrage across the nation.

STUDENTS:  There will never be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) SAE.  You can hang them from a tree, but they will never sign with me.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The 10-second video triggered protests, and was quickly condemned by university president David Boren.

DAVID BOREN, President, University of Oklahoma:  This has broken my heart, that this could happen on our campus.  We have such a strong community. People respect each other.  This is not representative of our students.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  On Monday, the university closed its chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and members were forced to move out of the house by last night.

QUESTION:  Are you embarrassed?

STUDENT:  Extremely.  Can I say anything else?

STUDENT:  I’m very embarrassed.

QUESTION:  Do you have a place to go?

STUDENT:  Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Yesterday, two students who led the chant were expelled, but not officially identified.  Apologies quickly followed.

Nineteen-year-old Parker Rice of Dallas, Texas, said in a statement:  “I am deeply sorry for what I did.  This is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this.”

And the parents of 20-year-old Levi Pettit said, in their own statement, “He made a horrible mistake and will live with the consequences forever.”

The University of Oklahoma has indicated more people could face punishment after officials finish their investigation.

EDUCATION - Rebellion Against Common Core Tests

COMMENT:  The real problem with Common Core testing is HOW they are applied.  The results are linked to school funding, a VERY BIG mistake.  They should be used only so individual schools can compare how their school is doing state and nation wide.  School funding should have noting to do with it.

The other thing wrong is schools teaching to the test.  That makes the results of the test misleading if not false.  The test should be evaluating the NORMAL day to day education of students.

"Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test" PBS NewsHour 3/11/2015

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Rebellion is brewing against the Common Core educational standards. Testing for the new standards began in March, and some students have refused to take part.  Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports from New Jersey, where he talks to Common Core critics and supporters.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Testing for the Common Core learning standards in U.S. public schools began earlier this month.  And just as a rebellion is brewing against the Common Core, there are now protests building against the national tests associated with them.

Reports of students refusing to take the tests are coming in daily, and if those numbers keep building, it could endanger the goals of the standards themselves.

Our special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has the story from New Jersey.

STUDENT:  We’re live.  We’re live.

JOHN MERROW (NewsHour):  Something big is happening in New Jersey, and it’s being broadcast on YouTube.

STUDENT:  If you’re, like, following us on Twitter or Instagram, make sure you use the hashtag #OccupyNPS.

JOHN MERROW:  In Newark, high school students occupied the superintendent’s office for three days, one of their issues, the Common Core test.

STUDENT:  This is a pretty big deal.  We’re taking back our district.

TANAISA BROWN, Newark Students Union:  Politicians actually get very nervous when they see how many people are against one thing.  They have money power.  They have political power, but we have people power.

POLITICS - eMail Security MuckReads

Purely Republican partisan politics.

"Hillary Clinton’s Top Five Clashes Over Secrecy" by Jeff Gerth, ProPublica 3/13/2015

The latest flap over her private emails as secretary of state is far from the first time she’s been accused of lacking transparency.

Back in April of 2007, when she was campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination for the first time, then-Senator Hillary Clinton lashed out at the secrecy of the George W. Bush administration.

She told a New Hampshire audience that if elected she would implement a "plan to enhance accountability and transparency" and "to replace secrecy and mystery with openness."  One part of her plan:  "It's time our government went fully online as well."

She lost her White House bid.  But 20 months later, before Barack Obama took that job and she became secretary of state, she set up a private computer server registered to her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., to handle all her official, as well as private, emails for the next four years.  Her decision — a secret until earlier this month — impeded efforts by the press and others to review State Department actions.

Today it is Hillary Clinton's record of transparency that has come under fire.  At a press conference Tuesday, she acknowledged that in retrospect "it would've been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts."  She has asked the State Department to release her official emails, a process that could take months.

Few public figures have been as scrutinized as Hillary Clinton.  Sometimes her disclosures go beyond what is required, but she's also racked up a reputation for secrecy that at times has returned to haunt her.

Here are five examples covering the last two decades.  Some are drawn from a 2007 book I did, with Don Van Natta Jr., entitled "Her Way:  The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton."  (Little Brown & Co.)  Clinton's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

1) 1992:  The Commodity Trades

During Bill Clinton's first run for the White House, his campaign declined to release all of the couple's tax returns.  Later it emerged that the campaign had weighed requests from the press and decided not to do so, because a few of the returns showed Hillary Clinton's spectacular success in commodities trading, in which she made almost $100,000 from an initial investment of $1,000 in a matter of months for a return of almost 10,000 percent.  Hillary Clinton threatened a campaign lawyer who had access to the material with retribution if she released the data:  "You'll never work in Democratic politics again," the lawyer, Loretta Lynch, says Clinton told her.  It wasn't until 1994, as the New York Times prepared to publish an article detailing the trades, that the Clintons made public the returns.

2) 1993:  The Health Care Task Force

As First Lady, Clinton led a Presidential task force to overhaul the U.S. health care system.  The group, which produced a 1,342-page bill that failed to win approval, came under intense criticism from lawmakers and interest groups for meeting behind closed doors.  Several court challenges were brought in an attempt to open the process. Ultimately the courts provided a partial legal victory to the administration.  Clinton later wrote she didn't mind the criticism since she was "trying to do something important for people" but acknowledged the failure was partially the result of her "own missteps" in "trying to do too much, too fast."

3) 1994:  Records from the Rose Law Firm

U.S. investigators in 1994 subpoenaed the First Lady's billing records from her years at the Rose Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, documents that had been also sought by reporters.  A focus of their interest was her legal work for a failing savings and loan, but records of those billings weren't found.  Much later, Clinton's long-time assistant, Carolyn Huber, said she found in the White House residence an additional box of records that contained the billing memos.  They were turned over to the independent counsel in 1996.  Clinton testified she had no knowledge of how the records wound up where they did.

4) 2006:  The Energy Task Force

Late in her first term as U.S. senator from New York, Clinton set up an energy task force to help her work through the issue, deliver a major speech on the subject and prepare for a possible Presidential run, participants in the task force told us for the book.  They produced a 40-page report in April 2006.  The whole project, including the existence of the group, its members and its work product was a secret, designed, participants said, to encourage frank discussions of the issue.  The leader of the task force headed an investment firm with major holdings in the energy sector.  Senators routinely get input from outsiders and no law requires their disclosure, but a secret task force is unusual.

5) 2015:  The Family Foundation

The Clinton family foundation, now called the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, made disclosures that exceed the legal requirements.  Charities are not required to list donors, but as part of Clinton's selection as Secretary of State the foundation agreed to disclose the identity of contributors and restrict solicitations from foreign governments.  Still, the information on the foundation's website is less than full.  Donors are identified but not the exact amount of each donation or the date of those contributions.  Instead donations fall under ranges and are listed cumulatively.  The foundation did not announce that it started raising money from foreign governments after Hillary Clinton left office.  But last month the Wall Street Journal pieced together some new foreign donations after the foundation's web site was updated.  That article was the first in a spate of news accounts raising questions about foreign money coming into the Clinton network as she prepares a run for President.  The foundation has said donors are carefully vetted and their money goes to important charitable projects.


"Email Escapades MuckReads Edition:  Hillary is Just the Latest Politician to Avoid Official Email" by Leticia Miranda, ProPublica 3/13/2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been on the defensive ever since the New York Times first reported that she used a private email account for government business.  In light of the imbroglio, we decided to look at the email escapades of other politicos for this week's MuckReads:

Colin Powell relied on personal emails while secretary of state, Politico, March 2015

Since news of Clinton's use of private email for White House business broke, an aide to Colin Powell says he "might have occasionally used personal email addresses" to correspond with staff and officials during his tenure as Secretary of State.

Bush Advisers' Approach on E-Mail Draws Fire, The New York Times, April 2007

The Bush Administration admits that as many as 22 political advisers to the president, including Karl Rove, used their Republican National Committee email accounts for White House related business.  At the time, the RNC automatically purged emails after 30 days.  Later, a White House spokesperson reported that as many as 5 million emails could have been lost from the White House's official server.

Jeb Bush Owned Personal Email Server He Used as Governor, NBC News, March 2015

A Mar. 4, 2015 report from NBC News finds that between 1999 until early 2007 Jeb Bush used his own private email server for official business as Florida Governor.

Two ex-Walker aides charged with illegal campaigning, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 2012

Two former aides to Gov. Scott Walker, while he was Executive of Milwaukee County, used a private Internet network to conduct campaign work.  They are later charged with illegally campaigning on government time.

Trove of Palin E-Mails Draws Press to Alaska, The New York Times, June 2011

In 2011, Sarah Palin releases more than 24,000 pages of emails sent from a private account while she was Alaska governor, responding to public records requests made in 2008.  The emails reveal less-than scandalous details of her life including her early attempts to meet John McCain, a draft ghostwritten letter-to-the-editor in response to criticism against her and plans to see a controversial Christian pastor in Juno, Alaska.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya J. Scott Gration resigns over 'differences' with Washington, The Washington Post, June 2012

Scott Gration, US Ambassador to Kenya, resigns in Jun. 2012 just before the publication of an Office of Inspector General report that found he had "repeatedly violated diplomatic security protocols at the embassy" by using a private email account for official business, according to the Washington Post.

Christie administration may have violated public records law, The Record, January 2014

The Record releases a cache of emails sent from personal accounts between top Chris Christie aides that reveals their plan to create a traffic jam over the George Washington Bridge possibly as retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.

After Pledge of Sunlight, Gov. Cuomo Officials Keep Their Email in the Shadows, ProPublica, May 2014

ProPublica finds that top advisers to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conduct government business through personal email accounts including Howard Glaser.  ProPublica recently obtained emails from Glaser in which he touted his " significant, critical, and current input" on a deal that weakened rules to prevent misdeeds in the mortgage market.