Monday, September 15, 2014

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 9/12/2014

"Shields and Brooks on Obama as reluctant warrior, sacrificing immigration reform before midterms" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2014

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SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including how lawmakers are reacting to President Obama’s airstrike plan against the Islamic State, the president’s decision to delay executive action on immigration reform and a planned visit to Iowa for Hillary Clinton.

BUSINESS - Why Did China Takeover Biggest U.S. Pork Producer?

"Who’s behind the Chinese takeover of world’s biggest pork producer?" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  One year ago this month, a Chinese company bought America’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods.  The $4.7 billion deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company to date.

Nathan Halverson from the Center for Investigative Reporting looks into the Chinese government’s role in the takeover.  This story was produced as part of the Food for 9 Billion series, a collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting and Homelands Productions, with broadcast partners the “PBS NewsHour,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace” and PRI’s “The World.”

NATHAN HALVERSON:  Pork pride is everywhere in Smithfield, Virginia.

This small town of 8,000 dubs itself the ham capital of the world.  Painted pigs line Main Street.  And at the taste of Smithfield Cafe, bacon graces nearly every plate.  The town’s museum even features the world’s oldest edible ham.  And some in town still produce ham as it was done generations ago.

MAN:  We are curing hams the same way it was done during colonial times, Jamestown, Williamsburg, right on up to now.

NATHAN HALVERSON:  The town is also home to the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods.  This factory processes more than 10,000 pigs a day.

MAN:  We have got boneless loins, bone-in loins, butts, back ribs, spareribs, neck bone, cushions.  We have got an assortment of everything.

NATHAN HALVERSON:  And this is going all over the country?

MAN:  All over the world.



"How will China feed its growing middle class?" PBS NewsHour 9/13/2014

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SUMMARY:  China consumes half of the world's pork.  And the country's growing middle class — bigger than the population of the United States — wants more meat.  Nathan Halverson of The Center for Investigative Reporting looks at how China plans to meet that demand.

LESTER BROWN, Author "Who Will Feed China":  China is roughly the same size as the United States.  The cropland area is similar.  The grain harvest is similar.  The difference is, in the U.S. we have 300 million people and there, they have 1.4 billion people.

AMERICORPS - 20th Anniverserary and More

"Bill Clinton celebrates 20 years of AmeriCorps, talks Islamic State strategy and midterm election outlook" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  They celebrated at the White House today, 20 years after a landmark law that enshrined a domestic version of the Peace Corps.

And the man who signed that law was on hand.

With the stroke of his pen, President Bill Clinton made the AmeriCorps national service program a reality in 1993.  A year later, the first class was officially sworn in.

BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States:  Would you all raise your right hand and repeat after me?  I will get things done for America.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  In the 20 years since, more than 900,000 participants have spent in excess of 1.2 billion hours working on projects across the U.S.  Today, that spirit of service was celebrated at the White House, as former President Clinton and hundreds of current and past AmeriCorps members joined President Obama to mark the anniversary.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  AmeriCorps has changed the life of our nation.  And now it’s up to us to make sure it continues, because we’re not just here to celebrate what’s already been achieved.  We’re here to rededicate ourselves to the work that lies ahead.

WOMAN:  Please raise your right hand.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  A new class of some 75,000 volunteers was sworn in today at the White House and around the country.  Members must be at least 17 years old and commit to volunteer for a year or two in exchange for a modest living allowance, as well as an education stipend.

Over the years, they have tutored and mentored children in underserved communities and helped rebuild after natural disasters.  Volunteers have also worked to combat hunger and on environmental conservation projects.

Matthew Little joined AmeriCorps shortly after its inception.  He worked with the service organization City Year at an inner-city school in Boston.

HEALTH - Are Doctor-Owned Outpatient Surgery Centers Safe?

"How doctor-owned outpatient medical centers differ from hospitals" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now; the rising use of outpatient medical centers for surgeries and other procedures.

It’s a corner of the American health care market that rarely gets public attention.  But after the death of comedian Joan Rivers, who suffered from complications at one facility in Manhattan, there are larger questions being asked about those centers, as their numbers are growing.  There are more than 5,000 of them performing a total of 23 million surgeries a year.

Hari Sreenivasan fills in the picture from our New York studios.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Joan Rivers first went to the Yorkville Endoscopy Center on August 28.  But she suffered complications and was rushed by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital that day.  She never regained consciousness and died September 4.  It is still not clear what went wrong or what procedure she was undergoing.

There are no allegations of wrongdoing.  But the facility is the subject of a state investigation.  It also announced the departure today of its medical director.  And there are questions being asked about similar facilities.

Shannon Pettypiece is covering this for Bloomberg News.  She joins me now.

AUTOMAKERS - Recall of 14 Milion for Exploding Airbags

"Automakers recall 14 million cars for exploding airbags" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2014

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JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  As with GM, the problems may date back a decade or more.  In this case, it’s the rupturing or explosion of air bags that injured drivers and are linked with two deaths.  The air bags are supplied by Takata Corporation.  Which makes them for automakers around the world.

Honda first began recalling a few thousand as early as 2009.  This year, recalls related to the air bags have grown dramatically and now exceed 14 million overall, six million of them by Honda, while Toyota, BMW, and Nissan have also recalled large numbers of cars.

David Shepardson of The Detroit News joins us once again.

Welcome back, David.

First, remind us what the problem is with the air bags.

DAVID SHEPARDSON, The Detroit News:  Sure.

These are air bags that are deploying in a frontal crash . And rather than just getting the pillow you see in a standard air bag, they are rupturing because of the high force, and in some cases sending shrapnel or pieces of metal, and causing serious injuries and, as you said, reports of two deaths.

JEFFREY BROWN:  As we reported here, it was found first a long time ago.  It has taken a long time to get to this number of recalls.  What’s — kind of quickly bring us up to date.  What’s been happening in that area?

DAVID SHEPARDSON:  Well, it’s been a real puzzle both for Honda and for regulators, in part because you had two different plants, one in Mexico, one in Washington State, that had two different issues with these air bag inflators that prompted, you know, starting with Honda to recall these vehicles.

Then it grew to almost a dozen worldwide.  In fact, the government is still deciding whether the recalls that have been done so far are enough.  And there may — still may be more vehicles to be recalled.  And that goes to the issue of, is — it’s hard to figure out exactly how many vehicles and which specific air bags should be covered by this.

AMERICA - Classified Pages of 9/11 Report

"Classified pages of a 9/11 report may implicate key U.S. ally" PBS NewsHour 9/11/2014

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

Jeffrey Brown has our story.

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

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

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

And he joins me now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

MICROSOFT - Trying to Purchase Popular Gaming Company

"Microsoft considers buying gaming gold mine Minecraft" PBS NewsHour 9/10/2014

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GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  There are new reports out of yet another tech giant, in this case Microsoft, trying to purchase a popular gaming company.  It’s part of an industry and market that you may not know about unless you are wise in the ways of Xbox and PlayStation.

Game sales in the U.S. topped $21 billion last year.  The industry often boasts that it earns far more than what Hollywood makes at the U.S. box office.  And more than 70 million people worldwide watch games played as e-sports over the Web or on TV.

Hari Sreenivasan has more from our New York studios about this potential deal and the wider phenomenon.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In the hit game “Minecraft,” players maneuver through a LEGO-like landscape to build whatever they can imagine or to battle monsters, as seen in this YouTube video by the game’s Swedish creator, Mojang.

WOMAN:  Yes, it’s very popular.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  With more than 50 million copies sold since 2011, “Minecraft” has even contributed to a trend of users simply watching others play online.

MAN: Why did I just do that?

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Now it’s being widely reported that Microsoft is in talks to buy Mojang for more than $2 billion.  The deal isn’t a certainty.

Markus Persson, who came up with “Minecraft,” has stressed the importance of smaller independent developers like Mojang.

MARKUS PERSSON, Game Developer, Mojang:  If you get a game from a big publisher, you kind of expect it to be something different, where, on the other hand, because the indy scene has grown so much and you kind of know where that is, you look at it with different eyes.  And you can actually explore new game ideas and concepts and even styles, which is really cool.

ISIL - Obama’s Address to the Nation

"Shields and Brooks on the president’s speech" PBS NewsHour 9/10/2014

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SUMMARY:  In a prime-time address Wednesday night, President Barack Obama tried to rally Americans to fight the Islamic State militant group operating out of Iraq and Syria.  Reaction to the president’s speech and policy ranged from support to skepticism to questions of a lack of specifics.  New York Times columnist David Brooks said it was a “clear, straightforward” speech, but asked, “What’s the next step?”  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields noted that the president laid out a “big set of promises,” but “made the case against [the Islamic State group] better than he made the case for his own action.”



"Analyzing potential challenges of fighting the Islamic State" PBS NewsHour 9/11/2014

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

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

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

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

Michèle Flournoy, you first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

EBOLA OUTBREAK - United State Offers Support

"U.S. offers support to fragile, West African health systems to combat Ebola" PBS NewsHour 9/9/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  In West Africa, doctors are fighting the world’s most deadly Ebola outbreak with makeshift hospitals, a handful of vehicles and a few brave volunteer health workers.  Meanwhile, terrified villagers and city-dwellers alike can only watch helplessly as their loved ones succumb to the disease.

Tonight’s episode of “Frontline” on PBS takes an intimate and harrowing look at all this on the ground in Sierra Leone. In the following scene, “Frontline” cameras travel with a group of health workers who go to remote villages, searching for Ebola’s victims.

NARRATOR:  They’re heading to a village where Ebola has already killed an old man.  Everyone they encounter, even those who look healthy, could be infectious.

The team used to wear protective clothing, but the suits terrified the villagers, who ran, hid and sometimes even attacked them.  Manjo now relies on keeping his distance from everyone he meets.

MANJO:  My name is Manjo, and this is Ishata (ph) from the World Health Organization.

NARRATOR:  A young woman is clearly unwell.

MANJO:  What’s wrong with you?

NARRATOR:  Kadiatu Jusu (ph) is 25 years old, the mother of four children.

WOMAN:  Do you have a fever?

WOMAN:  Yes, I have temperature, diarrhea and I’m vomiting.

NARRATOR:  Her husband, Fallah (ph), is a farmer.  He’s 35.0  It was his father who died two weeks ago.  Ishata Conteh (ph) can see Kadiatu is almost certainly infected.

COLORADO - Local Community Bands Fracking

"Colorado fracking fuels fight between state and local government over control" PBS NewsHour 9/8/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We just heard about how immigration may affect the coming election in a number of states, including Colorado.  Well, it turns out there is another issue that could have a significant impact in the state of Colorado, fracking.

Communities there are engaged in a battle with the state to get more control over oil and gas drilling.

Rocky Mountain PBS’ Dan Boyce reports from the town of Longmont.

KAYE FISSINGER:  I found out that they were going to be fracking all around Union Reservoir.

DAN BOYCE, Rocky Mountain PBS:  Seventy-year-old great grandmother Kaye Fissinger is a busy woman these days.  She’s been fighting for the last three years to protect the town she loves from fracking, the technique of pumping pressurized water deep underground to fracture rock and extract oil and natural gas.

KAYE FISSINGER:  So, we don’t have drilling and fracking yet here, and that’s because of the ban.

DAN BOYCE:  Fissinger was eager to show us this reservoir at the edge of Longmont, where companies have been trying to put in a series of gas wells.

KAYE FISSINGER:  There will be fracking all around here, where people play.

DAN BOYCE:  She’s worried it will soon look like so many other places along Colorado’s Front Range, with drill towers and wellheads cropping up next to homes at an unprecedented rate.

Activists like Fissinger in a handful of communities just north of Denver succeeded in keeping this boom away from their doorsteps by lobbying at the local level.  The Longmont City Council voted to restrict where wells could be built a couple of years ago.

A few months later, residents took it a step further, passing a ban on fracking altogether.  The state government immediately launched two lawsuits against Longmont for this, and it fired up a grassroots citizens movement for a statewide initiative to give local communities more control over fracking.

ISIL - The Campaign Against

"U.S. and allies prepare new campaign against Islamic State" PBS NewsHour 9/8/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now to the next phase for the United States and partners in going after the Islamic State group.  Many in the region and this county are anxiously awaiting more details as the president prepares for a national address Wednesday on his strategy in dealing with the militant group that has brought death and destruction to large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities.  We’re going shrink the territory that they control, and, ultimately, we’re going to defeat them.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The president outlined a multi-step campaign in a lengthy interview seen Sunday on NBC.  It elaborated on his statement last week in Estonia regarding the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  So, the bottom line is this: Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL, so that it is no longer a threat, not just to Iraq, but also to the region and to the United States.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  It was widely reported today that the president’s expanded air offensive could last years.  But in the NBC interview, he again made clear the effort won’t include combat troops.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  We’re not looking at sending in 100,000 American troops.  We are going to be, as part of an international coalition, carrying out airstrikes in support of work on the ground by Iraqi troops, Kurdish troops.  We are going to be helping to put together a plan for them, so that they can start retaking territory that ISIL had taken over.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Airstrikes have already been under way for four weeks, nearly 150 to date.  They have helped Kurdish forces, plus Iraqi troops and Iranian-backed Shiite militia push back the Sunni extremists of Islamic State.

Over the weekend, the air campaign reached into Anbar province, striking targets around Haditha dam.  The predominantly Sunni region west of Baghdad is largely under Islamic State control. It remained unclear if an expanded air war would extend into Syria.



"Can the Islamic State group be destroyed?" PBS NewsHour 9/8/2014

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SUMMARY:  President Obama announced a multi-step campaign to work with regional partners to destroy the Islamic State.  How realistic is that goal?  Judy Woodruff discusses the details and feasibility with Feisal Istrabadi of Indiana University, Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine.



"Senators debate the president’s power to launch fight against the Islamic State" PBS NewsHour 9/9/2014

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SUMMARY:  President Obama has consulted key lawmakers on his strategy against the Islamic State group and polls show the American public supports action.  But the president has not sought formal congressional approval for an expanded military campaign.  Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., join Gwen Ifill to offer their views on the possible mission against the militant group.

Monday, September 08, 2014

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 9/5/2014

"Shields and Brooks on Ukraine cease-fire, Gov. McDonnell’s guilty verdict" PBS NewsHour 9/5/2014

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SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s top news, including the Ukrainian cease-fire, ex- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s guilty verdict and the shifting Kansas Senate election.

UKRAIN - World War III Averted?

"Ukraine, Russian separatists reach tentative peace deal" PBS NewsHour 9/5/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This weeks NATO summit, dominated by the crisis in Ukraine and fears over the Islamic State group, came to a close today in Wales, just as a deal was finalized which could end the fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

Jeffrey Brown has the story.

PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine:  I give an order to chief of my military to declare a cease-fire in an half-an-hour’s time.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made the announcement outside the NATO summit in Wales shortly before 4:00 p.m./11:00 a.m. Eastern time.  He said his government had agreed to a framework for peace with Russian-backed separatists.

PETRO POROSHENKO:  This is a very important change not only for Ukraine, not only the region, for the whole world, about the security.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The agreement came following talks in Belarus today among representatives of Russia, Ukraine,the separatists, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.  A separatist leader, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, spoke after the deal was reached.

ALEKSANDR ZAKHARCHENKO, Prime Minister, Donetsk People’s Republic (through interpreter):  The cease-fire will allow us to save not only civilian lives, but also the lives of the people who took up arms in order to defend their land and ideals, their targets and their goals.



"Will the cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian separatists last?" PBS NewsHour 9/5/2014

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SUMMARY:  From the NATO summit, world leaders expressed their support for the ceasefire between Ukraine and Russian separatists.  However, previous peacemaking delays and further violence have given reason for doubt.  Jeffrey Brown speaks with Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago.

HEALTH - Dogs That Can Detect Cancer?

"Can dogs be trained to detect the smell of cancer?" PBS NewsHour 9/6/2014

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SUMMARY:  For the past few decades, researchers have been exploring the possibility that cancer, possibly created by the growth of tumors, actually has a particular odor -- and dogs can pick up on that smell.  Some doctors believe this area of research may lead to more efficient screening methods and cancer treatment procedures.  Special correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

EMILY SENAY (NewsHour):  You’ve seen them on the streets helping the blind, at airports and train stations sniffing for explosives and at the scene of earthquakes searching for survivors.  But ever since her family got a Doberman puppy, this 55 year old retired magazine editor from New York’s Staten Island believes there may be another way for dogs to save lives.

One night in the spring of 2011, a couple of weeks after getting a new puppy, Diane Papazian noticed her dog Troy behaving strangely.

DIANE PAPAZIAN:  So, he’s in bed with us, and he is in between my husband and myself, and– so, his head is right here.  And he is nuzzling up against my left side, and he keeps nuzzling, and he’s nuzzling, and he’s not stopping.  And I’m thinking, what in the heck is going on with this dog?  Cut it out, you know, that’s so annoying.  What are you doing?

And– he kept doing it persistently, like it wasn’t just once or twice, it was for a few minutes that he kept nuzzling.  So finally I said, what in the heck is he doing?  So, I started to itch, because I’m highly allergic, and that’s when I felt the lump.



Monday, September 01, 2014

HEATH - Evolution of the Human Diet

"Where’s the beef?  Uncovering the ancient paleolithic diet in modern cultures" PBS NewsHour 8/31/2014

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HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  By 2050, the planet will have 2 billion more people on it than it has now.  Just how to feed all of those people is a question being explored in the September issue of National Geographic magazine.  It’s all part of an eight-month series that begins by looking at the popular Paleo Diet, and what we think our ancestors ate may not actually be the case.

Earlier, I spoke with Ann Gibbons, author of part one, “The Evolution of Diet” and the book, "The First Human:  The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors."

So, in your reporting you discover that it’s not as much about man the hunter as it is woman the forager.  Explain that.

ANN GIBBONS, author:  Yeah, it’s really interesting.  So the Paleo diet as we know it today focuses on a lot of meat.  It assumes our ancestors were like Neanderthals or cave men going out and hunting and eating big slabs of bloody meat every day.

The reality when you go talk to anthropologists, and this is what I did for the National Geographic article in September.  I interviewed a lot of anthropologists and then I went to visit indigenous people and hunter-gatherers and people that are eating traditional diets.  The reality is when you see these people and what they eat – they don’t get that much meat.  And they don’t get that much meat because hunting is hard work.

While the men go out every day practically and hunt and spend many hours out, even with rifles today, often come back empty-handed.  And I saw this for myself with the Chimani foragers in the Amazon, and it was confirmed by anthropologists that I talked to.

And what they rely on are the plants, the fruits, the vegetables that the women and children gather.  This is known from studying many traditional people today and also from records in the fossil, records from looking at remnants of food, the plants, the fossils, the molecules that they ate.

HEALTH - New Heart Drug Promises Significant Improvement

"New drug may ‘change the foundation’ for treating heart failure" PBS NewsHour 8/31/2014

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HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  As we reported yesterday, an experimental heart drug developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, shows promising results.

The new drug currently referred to by its codename “L C Z 696″ may change the course of treatment and prolong the lives of patients suffering from heart failure.

The results of the study on the new drug are being presented this weekend in Spain at an international cardiology conference and were also published yesterday by The New England Journal of Medicine.

For some insight, we’re joined via Skype from Windham, New Hampshire by Clyde Yancy, he’s a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University.

So, Professor Yancy, there are millions of people around the world, who suffer from heart disease and heart failure, what’s so different about this drug and why does it work better than what’s available today?

CLYDE YANCY, Northwestern University:  Well Hari, thanks for your interest.  Those millions of people you talked about should be elated because there is a new therapy now.

It’s not just an additional therapy, but it is a significant improvement over what we already had.  This really is better and brings a lot of hope to a lot of people.

ISIS - Schoizophrenic on Social Media

"The duality and mission of ISIS on social media" PBS NewsHour 8/30/2014

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HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The Islamic State has entered our consciousness for multiple reasons.

Partly for the savagery they are willing to commit and also because of the savvy they display in spreading their message.

For some analysis yesterday I spoke with Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution and author of “Temptations of Power:  Islamists & Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East” and Philip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland and blogger at Hizballah Cavalcade, who studies Islamic extremism.

So, Shadi Hamid, compare these guys to al-Qaida.  It seems that we were almost better off getting these grainy video tapes from Osama bin Laden out of a cave compared to what we are seeing today.

SHADI HAMID, Brookings Institution:  So ISIS are quite advanced in their marketing and media strategy, they’ve been very active on Twitter and for those of us on the outside trying to follow them, you can actually engage with some of these people on Twitter.  And they’re actively tweeting about somewhat mundane things.

There was actually a Twitter mime, where ISIS fighters were eating jars of Nutella.  But on the other hand, you also see very savage things like beheadings.

So, there’s a kind of strange duality, a schizophrenia that they’re showing this dark, brutal side, but they’re also trying to show, at least as they might see it a more humane side to Western audiences.

And we’re not going to buy that as Americans, but for people who are potentially sympathetic or fence sitters, seeing those images can actually be appealing.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 8/29/2014

"Shields and Brooks on Islamic State as ‘cancer,’ Crist’s campaign" PBS
NewsHour
8/29/2014

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SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the week’s top news, including the threat of the Islamic State, the struggle to unify allies in the Mideast, the prospects of immigration reform and the Florida gubernatorial race.

MIDDLE EAST - Changing Alliances and Rifts

"U.S. faces changing alliances and rifts in Middle East as it seeks to form coalition" PBS NewsHour 8/29/2014

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JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  And joining us now to help us understand this new landscape of the Middle East is Steven Simon, a former senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2011 to 2012.   He’s now a senior fellow at the Middle East institute.  And Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya news channel.

Welcome to both of you.

Hisham, it’s a given.  The world has changed, right?  Help us first by laying out the camps, so to speak, that we face.

HISHAM MELHEM, Al Arabiya News:  As we know, the uprisings that began three-and-a-half years ago unfortunately have morphed into civil wars, Yemen, Libya and, worst of all, Syria.

Syria is the prototype place where it’s a proxy war for some regional powers.  The camps, so to speak, are the regime in Damascus, which is Alawi core Islam.  Alawi are an offshoot of Shia Islam, supported mainly by Iran, which is the major regional Shiite power, as well as by Hezbollah — Hezbollah is working for — essentially serving Iranian interests there — and also supported by militias from Iraq.

So you have the Shia coalition fighting to save the regime in Damascus.  And in that sense, Iran and Hezbollah are more important for the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s regime than Moscow.

On the other hand, you have the majority Syrians, who — happens to be Sunnis in case — in state of revolt against the regime.   They are supported by the Sunni powers in the region, from Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others.

WEST AFRICA - Ebola Crisis Update

"Ebola’s spread hastens preparations for vaccine testing" PBS NewsHour 8/28/2014

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GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Adding to the difficulty, a different strain of Ebola has appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing 13 deaths so far.

Here at home, the National Institutes of Health announced today it will start testing an experimental Ebola vaccine next week.

For more on that development, I’m joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH.  He will oversee those trials.

Dr. Fauci, thanks for joining us again.

What would trials like this look like?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:  Well, first of all, it’s an early phase one trial.

And by phase one, we mean this is the first time this vaccine has been put in humans.  So safety is paramount, so you take a very small number of people, 20 in total, three at a time, and you use the vaccine to determine if there are untoward effects, any inflammation, any idiosyncratic or hypersensitivity reactions, pain or anything that might be a red flag about safety.

And also you learn whether it induces the kind of response in a person that you would hope would be protective against Ebola infection.  The reason why we chose this vaccine is that it showed very favorable results in an animal model, a monkey model, in which it protected monkeys very well against a challenge with lethal Ebola.

So this is a first, because it’s the first time this has been in a human, in now what will be a series of steps to ultimately develop it to determine if, in fact, it is effective.



"Ebola outbreak started with funeral in Guinea, report finds" PBS NewsHour 8/29/2014

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Ebola virus has now reached a fifth country.  Officials announced a Guinean student in Senegal was confirmed to have the disease.  Meanwhile, a new report traces the deadly outbreak to a funeral in Guinea near the Sierra Leone border.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Stephen Gire of Harvard University about his on-the-ground experience in Sierra Leone and the latest on how the virus has spread.

UKRAIN - Crisis Update and Russia's 'Novorossiya'

"What’s driving Russia to raise the stakes in Ukraine?" PBS NewsHour 8/28/2014

Excerpt

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  For more on what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine, I’m joined by Andrew Kramer of The New York Times.  He joins us from Donetsk.

So, Andrew, you were visiting a town where the Russian troops were streaming in.  Describe that scene to us.

ANDREW KRAMER, The New York Times:  Yes, this was in the town of Novoazovsk on the Azov Sea.  And we were standing on the outside of the town speaking with Ukrainian soldiers who were retreating.

These soldiers were convinced they were fighting the Russians.  At least many of them were.  We didn’t see the troops coming in, but they were said to have come across the border from Russia into Ukraine.  It was a very chaotic scene.  And, in fact, a day later, that town was seized by the pro-Russian forces.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  You also spoke of locals in that area.  What did they think about what’s happening?

ANDREW KRAMER:  Well, people here who support the Russian cause are obviously cheered by this development.  The rebel organization had been on its last legs militarily in recent weeks.

The Ukrainian army was closing in on towns of Donetsk and Luhansk.  And now there’s been a reversal of fortunes, a turning of the tide here.  The separatists and, according to Ukrainian government, with the support of Russia, has moved across the Russian border and has now opened a new front in the south along the seashore with the cities of Novoazovsk and Mariupol as the objectives.

Now, a rebel commander I spoke with said the intention is to form a defensive triangle out of these two cities and Donetsk and hopefully force the Ukrainian government into settlement talks on more favorable terms.




"Sanctions ‘only pressure point the West has’ in Ukraine-Russia crisis" PBS NewsHour 8/30/2014

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  For more perspective about what options the United States and its Western allies have to deal with the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Nicholas Burns joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Massachusetts.  Burns is a former Under Secretary of State and now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
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HARI SREENIVASAN:  And what about this idea of Novorossiya, something that the Russians have said, ‘Sure, we’ll stop all of this if we can just go ahead and annex this portion of Ukraine back?’  It seems that whether we like it or not, they’ve already sent the troops in and are, in fact, taking over that part of Ukraine.

R. NICHOLAS BURNS:  Well, it’s a very unsettling and destabilizing concept that you’d say that, ‘We have a right as Russians to unite all Russians outside the borders of Russia.’  There are significant populations of Russians, of course, in Ukraine, but also in Moldova, in Belarus, in Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan.

Should we support the Russian government’s right to march into those countries, take over portions of those countries simply because ethnic Russians are living there?  This is an inexact comparison, of course, but that was essentially the philosophy of the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s, that they would unite the Germans living outside the German Reich.

It’s a very dangerous, destabilizing concept we vowed after the second World War we would not allow that kind of action in Europe.  And here it is with President Putin, with this Novorossiya, New Russia concept, which is dangerous.  And it needs to be opposed by the United States and the Western Europeans.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ARIZONA - The Chinese Spy Breach

"Intelligence Gap:  How a Chinese National Gained Access to Arizona’s Terror Center" by Ryan Gabrielson (ProPublica) and Andrew Becker (Center for Investigative Reporting), ProPublica 8/26/2014

Excerpt

The un-vetted computer engineer plugged into law enforcement networks and a database of 5 million Arizona drivers in a possible breach that was kept secret for years.

Lizhong Fan’s desk was among a crowd of cubicles at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center in Phoenix.  For five months in 2007, the Chinese national and computer programmer opened his laptop and enjoyed access to a wide range of sensitive information, including the Arizona driver’s license database, other law enforcement databases, and potentially a roster of intelligence analysts and investigators.

The facility had been set up by state and local authorities in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, and so, out of concerns about security, Fan had been assigned a team of minders to watch him nearly every moment inside the center.  Fan, hired as a contract employee specializing in facial recognition technology, was even accompanied to the bathroom.

However, no one stood in Fan’s way when he packed his equipment one day in early June 2007, then returned home to Beijing.

There’s a lot that remains mysterious about Fan’s brief tenure as a computer programmer at the Arizona counterterrorism center.  No one has explained why Arizona law enforcement officials gave a Chinese national access to such protected information.  Nor has anyone said whether Fan copied any of the potentially sensitive materials he had access to.

But the people responsible for hiring Fan say one thing is clear:  The privacy of as many as 5 million Arizona residents and other citizens has been exposed.  Fan, they said, was authorized to use the state’s driver’s license database as part of his work on a facial recognition technology.  He often took that material home, and they fear he took it back to China.

Under Arizona law, then-Gov. Janet Napolitano and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose agencies admitted Fan into the intelligence center, were required to disclose to the public any “unauthorized acquisition and access to unencrypted or unredacted computerized data” that includes names and other personal information.

To this day, they have not.

Terry Goddard, attorney general of Arizona in 2007, said Fan’s access and disappearance should have been reported to his office, but it was not.  Arizona law puts the attorney general in charge of enforcing disclosure.

The state was supposed to have scrubbed drivers' names and addresses from the license data.  State officials denied requests to discuss the extent of the data breach, including what personal information was in the files.

In fact, a review of records shows that David Hendershott, who was second-in-command at the sheriff’s office, moved aggressively to maintain silence, a silence that has now lasted some seven years.  Two weeks after Fan departed, Hendershott directed others in writing not to discuss Fan and the possible breach.  In an email to the outside contractor that had hired Fan, Hendershott wrote:  “Keep this between us and only us.”

Even among administrators at the Phoenix center, very few learned that the Chinese programmer had left the country or that their own personal information might have traveled with him.  Mikel Longman, the former criminal investigations chief at the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said he received no warning about the incident.

“That really is outrageous,” Longman said.  “Every Arizona resident who had a driver’s license or state-issued ID card and all that identifying stuff is potentially compromised.  That’s a huge breach.”

Napolitano, who went on to serve as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, did not reply to multiple interview requests.

Hendershott, Arpaio’s longtime chief deputy, hung up on a reporter when reached by telephone.  The sheriff’s office fired Hendershott in 2011 over an array of alleged misconduct.  And he in turn filed suit in 2012, saying his legitimate law enforcement work had been mischaracterized as abuses of power.  His suit was dismissed earlier this year.  Today, he sells real estate in west Phoenix.

Col. Robert Halliday, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety who formally oversaw the operations of the intelligence center at the time Fan worked there, also did not respond to repeated interview requests.

Current officials with a handful of agencies involved with the intelligence center offered a variety of reasons for declining to answer questions about Fan and the possible breach.

The public safety agency initially denied that any potential breach had happened, then said the matter was the subject of a confidential FBI investigation.  Later still, the department argued the case was a personnel matter, and thus the agency would not comment as a matter of policy.  The sheriff’s office said that during the time that Hendershott was still working for the agency, he never reported anything about Fan – his hiring, his work or his flight.

Seven years after the potential breach, then, it is still unclear how closely law enforcement looked into the incident or what steps, if any, it took as a result.  The FBI opened a probe shortly after Fan’s disappearance, according to records and a former federal investigator, but the bureau has never made its findings public.

Perryn Collier, spokesman for the FBI’s Phoenix office, said the bureau won’t comment on investigations involving Fan.

Chinese espionage has made news in recent months as federal investigators have revealed successful assaults by hackers against businesses and government.  Last March, homeland security officials in Washington discovered that cyber attackers later traced to China had accessed data on federal workers who’ve applied for top-secret clearance.  These electronic break-ins were conducted remotely, continents away from the servers holding the data.

How the Phoenix intelligence center found itself vulnerable to a serious security breach, however, was neither much of a technological feat nor, it seems, the result of masterful espionage.  Indeed, an investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica – built on more than 50 interviews and the examination of thousands of pages of federal investigative reports, criminal and civil court filings, internal correspondence and immigration records – shows the episode at the intelligence center came off rather easily.

John Lewis arrived as the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Phoenix division in the spring of 2006.  Lewis, now director of security for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay Area, had a vague recollection of a contractor or subcontractor working at the center.  But he said he did not specifically recall that the person was a foreign national, nor did he have any “immediate recollection” of a security breach.

“No one ever sat in my office and asked about having a foreign national inside the fusion center.  That’s nuts,” Lewis said, adding that if he had been asked, his response would have been, “Can we do a little bit better guys?”

The chance that Fan made off with a raft of sensitive material was made possible by a set of cozy relationships – among a tainted sheriff’s official, a dubious technology startup company and a woman who U.S. government officials think is a Chinese spy.

SURVEILLANCE - NSA's Secret 'Google'

"The Surveillance Engine:  How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google" by Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept 8/25/2014

Excerpt

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies.  Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.  Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications.  The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo.  A planning document from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members.  Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

“The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community,” noted a top-secret memo dated December 2007.  “This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC’s increasing need for communications metadata and NSA’s ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets.”

The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones.  Metadata reveals information about a communication — such as the “to” and “from” parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called — but not the content of the message or audio of the call.

Monday, August 25, 2014

U.S. - Change of Attitude on Syria?

Note, all that's happening today could possibly have been avoided if the U.S. and the West had taken firmer action (military strikes at the least) in Syria at the beginning of the civil war.  Then, hindsight is always 20-20.

"Shift in U.S. attitude over involvement in Syria after Foley execution" PBS NewsHour 8/24/2014

Excerpt

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Joining us now from Washington D.C. is Dion Nissenbaum of The Wall Street Journal.

It seems the pace of change here and the U.S. attitude in involvement in Syria or in airstrikes has changed dramatically just in the last 24-36 hours.

DION NISSENBAUM:  Yes there’s no question that the beheading of James Foley changed the calculus for the administration here and the rhetoric ramped up almost immediately.

You heard Secretary of State John Kerry saying that their wickedness, it has to be destroyed.  The pentagon is really escalating its efforts to identify targets inside Syria.

They’re looking at expanding the air campaign in Iraq.  I think militarily they could expand this fairly quickly.

I think what we need to see in the coming week is whether there’s the political will to move in this direction, and you’ll probably remember it was a year ago that we were having a similar conversation after president Assad was accused of the chemical weapons attack in Damascus that killed hundreds of people, and President Obama was seeking support for military strikes in Syria at that point as well.

UKRAINE - Russia Stepping Back From the Brink?

"What will shape the upcoming meeting between Poroshenko and Putin?" PBS NewsHour 8/23/2014

Excerpt

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  President Petro Poroshenko is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Tuesday for their first encounter since June.

For more, we’re joined by Steve Sestanovich, a senior fellow from the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. and author of the book “Maximalist:  America in the World from Truman to Obama.”

So, did Vladimir Putin win in the world or war of perception so to speak, or did he back down?

STEVE SESTANOVICH:  He certainly did something that was unexpected.  Yesterday, everybody was predicting that maybe we were finally going over the cliff to war that this time the Russians were serious about an invasion and all hell was going to break loose.

Today they are taking the troops back and Putin has not done the big thing that he seemed to be threatening, which was to make his troops, his men, his trucks a shield for the separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

And the same landscape is really there now that was there before this truck convoy story.

Putin has to figure out how to support the separatists, who are basically going down, without over involvement that will excite too much opposition from the West and embroil him in a big mess that he wants to stay out of.

OPINION - Marcus and Gerson 8/22/2014

"Marcus and Gerson on lessons from Ferguson, Islamic State threat" PBS NewsHour 8/22/2014

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Washington Post columnists Ruth Marcus and Michael Gerson join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s top news, including the legacy of mistrust that laid the groundwork for unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as the shifting U.S. stance on pursuing the Islamic State group after the murder of American journalist James Foley.



COMMENT:  If the U.S. sees the ISIS unfolding events a very dangerous (and they are) then the State Department needs to STOP allowing people from friendly nations from entering with out a visa and a full background check.  We should be treating ALL nations the same as far as who can enter the U.S.

OPINION - Islam/Muslims, a View on a Usenet Newsgroup

"Muslims And Critical Mass" by Neal Boortz, Newsgroup soc.culture.islam

My first stab at public speaking was at the Irvine Elementary School in Irvine, California.  My 8th grade teacher, Roy Henry, encouraged me to enter.   My speech on the atom and nuclear power brought me a second place behind some stupid girl.  Oh well.

I did learn one thing from that experience … the concept of critical mass.

Here’s your basic explanation.  You have a glob of weapons-grade uranium.  There’s enough radioactive material there to give off a good bit of radiation, but it’s less than a critical mass.  It will give off a specific amount of radiation for a very long time and it can most definitely hurt you, but the atomic reaction within your glob of uranium will remain under control.  Deadly .. but under control.

Now you come in with another hunk of uranium.  Again, it’s not a critical mass of uranium, so you’re just upping your exposure to radioactivity.  Somebody dares you to take the two globs of uranium and slam them together.  Uh oh … now you have gone from two sub-critical masses of uranium to one critical mass and the nuclear reaction is no longer controlled.  In fact … it’s very much OUT of control, and within a fraction of a fraction of a second the entire mass of uranium is turned into pure, raw energy.   It’s the old E=MC2 at work.  You’re now a vaporized crispy critter, as is pretty much everything within miles of you, and the landscape is scraped clean.  Why?  You just detonated an atomic bomb, that’s why.  Way to go, sport.  You just had to take that dare, didn’t you?

Where am I going with this?  To the wonderful, peaceful, gentle peaceful religion of Islam, that’s where.

Have you been watching this ISIS crowd in Iraq?  They are lopping the heads off of Christian children for being nothing more than Christian children.  These same bloodthirsty Islamic thugs stoned a woman to death in Syria last week for adultery.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the very man she committed the act of adultery with was right there throwing stones – such is the viciousness of this religion.  Would you like to see some pictures or videos of Muslims stoning women to death?  They’re on the Internet – go look.  Look at the frightened faces of these women as they’re buried up to their shoulders and these wonderful Muslim men gather around to kill them.  What an amazing religion!  And while you’re on the Internet maybe you can find pictures of these Muslim men mutilating the genitals of their young daughters.  After all, you certainly don’t want Muslim women feeling any sexual pleasure, do you?

Then there’s Hamas in Gaza.  I’m sure the fools who have been condemning Israel for fighting back against these Islamic murderers don’t want to hear this … but Israeli Defense Forces have now discovered a manual for Hamas killers telling them how to locate their rocket launching facilities near civilians, especially children, so that they can get their women (who are merely chattel) and children killed and blame Israel.  It works to a worrying extent … there are idiots all over the place who believe that Israel is the bad guy here.  As many people have commented, Hamas would kill all Israeli children if it could, but it can’t.  Israel COULD kill all Palestinian children in Gaza, but it won’t.

OK … so where does this critical mass thing come in?  You know individual Muslims, as do I.  Perhaps in a one-on-one situation you’ve found them to be engaging, intelligent and certainly not threatening.  I’m betting, though, that you’re experiences with Muslims have been in situations where they were decidedly in the minority.  Watching the reactions of Muslims in countries where they are in a decided minority, including the United States, gives you no real cause to worry.  Beheading aren’t likely.  But let those numbers increase – let their percentage of the population increase – and the danger increases, just as it will with larger globs of uranium.  Such is the case in France and Britain where Muslims have been demonstrating, sometimes rioting, as they protest.  The larger the numbers, the greater the chance for violence.  There were protests in the U.S. as well, though none were violent so far as I know.

There is, somewhere, a critical mass; a population percentage at which Muslims will cease all pretext at coexistence and tolerance will evaporate.  There is some number at which the Quran’s instructions that non-Muslims are to either be taxed, converted, or killed will get more serious consideration.  It’s happening in Iraq now to Christian populations besieged by the terrorist Islamic State.  Critical Mass.  These Christians have identifying marks on the doors outside their homes … if they don’t convert or pay the tax as instructed .. they literally lose their heads.

There’s something to be learned in the U.S. from what you haven’t seen.  That would be Muslims demonstrating against the killings of Christians, the stoning of women, and the genital mutilation of young Muslim women.  There are small and limited exceptions, to be sure, but in general Muslims don’t seem at all outraged at all at the behavior of Muslims worldwide.  That, my friends, should alarm you.  Why?  If Muslims who truly want to live in peace can’t or won’t speak out against the violence now … what is going to happen as Muslim numbers increase?  What happens when they reach the critical mass?  When the numbers are so great – and Muslim numbers are increasing faster than any other religion – that elections can be controlled and public reaction can be ignored – what happens then?

Muslim violence can be controlled now.   Those in a significant minority have this tendency to recognize their disadvantage and thus behave.  They’re below critical mass.  Do you want to sit back and wait to see what happens when that critical mass is ended?

Yes … I know that some of you are just itching to point out that pretty much all religions, including the Christian religion, can descend to violence and depravity in furtherance of their beliefs.  The Christian religion certainly has seen this.  But we’re not going to prevent what Muslims might become by pointing out what Christians or other religions once were.  And yes – there are Christians today who would gladly use force to compel others to live in accordance with their beliefs.  Though the numbers may be small, we need to be diligent in resisting their quest for power as well.

Islam is not a peaceful religion.  Christianity, by and large, is.  You certainly can’t find something in the Bible that suggests murdering people who don’t believe as you do.  This political correctness must be ended.  This threat has to be faced.  Let’s hope we in America don’t have to discover this first hand because we slept through the beginning of this crisis.

COLLEGES - Boosting Graduations

"Colleges emphasize student ‘stickiness’ to boost graduations" PBS NewsHour 8/22/2014

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In Tennessee, a disturbingly high dropout rate at public universities prompted the state to change how they fund schools, the more students graduate, the more a school gets paid.  Hari Sreenivasan reports on the rise of performance-based funding and innovations by schools to keep students invested.



Explore the future of higher education with Hari Sreenivasan (38:21)
PBS NewsHour

IRAQ - Kurdish Peshmerga Army vs ISIS Report

"Why Kurdish fighters lack the military might to thwart the Islamic State" PBS NewsHour 8/22/2014

Excerpts

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  Racing south on the highway between Iraq’s Kurdish capital, Irbil, and Baghdad, miles of open desert unfold, dotted by villages and towns.  But just a quarter of the way down, Iraq’s most vital commercial lifeline becomes the frontline.

The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has advanced to within 650 yards of the road.  Kurdish forces Colonel Wria Hasan took us to one of many well-manned Kurdish Peshmerga outposts guarding the new frontier to show us just how close the militants’ forbidding flag flew.

What keeps the ISIS forces from just moving across this road?

COL. WRIA HASAN, Peshmerga (through interpreter):  If they came closer, we could stop them, and we could move their way, but there are a lot Arabs living there.

MARGARET WARNER:  So you’re saying it will be a very bloody battle if you tried to advance that way?

COL. WRIA HASAN (through interpreter):  Yes it would be bloody, and many civilians would die.

MARGARET WARNER:  Colonel Hasan was escorting us in his armored SUV to the town of Jalawla, 100 miles northeast of Baghdad, in southern Diyala Province.  The province is now partly controlled by the Kurds since the Iraqi army collapsed before the Islamic extremists’ onslaught in mid-June.

We’d come to explore why, over the past month, the famed Peshmerga army, considered one of the best in the region, had also fallen back at several points along its internal frontier against the Islamist group.

General Mahmoud Sengawi commands this southern region, and on our way to the front, I asked him why he was now fighting to take back the strategically located town of Jalawla.
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GEN. HUSSEIN MANSOUR (through interpreter):  There, we have problems larger than weapons.  Arabs in those towns support ISIS.  Jalawla has always been a bastion of Baathist support.  There are 1,200 former high-ranking Baathist officers there.  It’s always been a bastion of terrorists, even when the Americans were here.

MARGARET WARNER:  To test that notion, we had Mohammed Mala Hassan, mayor of Khanaqin, where the Peshmerga are based, take us in his convoy of heavily armed men to meet one of the many Sunni Arabs he said have fled to Khanaqin from Jalawla.

Amer Yusef, a successful contractor, left with his family of 13 in June as the Islamic State began infiltrating Jalawla.  He has a decidedly negative view of the Islamist group.

He said it’s true some Sunnis are with them, but often the extremists are more brutal with Sunnis.

AMER YUSEF, Contractor: (through interpreter):  They are a terrorist organization that wants to harm us.  They have harmed most of the families who have stayed in the town.

MARGARET WARNER:  Many people say all Arabs here support the Islamic State.  Is that true?

AMER YUSEF (through interpreter):  I have a close friend who was a member of the municipality, my neighbor, and he is a Sunni Arab.  They killed him few days ago.  After taking him and his brother to their Sharia court, his brother said they killed them.

MARGARET WARNER:  The Islamic State says they’re doing all of this in the name of pure Islam.

AMER YUSEF (through interpreter):  No.  They everyone’s enemy.  Who are they killing the most?  Christians or Muslims?  They have killed mostly Muslims, both Sunnis and Shiites.

EDUCATION - Family Members as Summer Teachers

"Turning parents into teachers to fight the ‘summer slide’ in reading" PBS NewsHour 8/22/2014

Excerpt

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  As the new school year approaches, teachers have come to expect that many of their students will have forgotten some of what they learned earlier.  It’s called summer learning loss, and some teachers believe it’s inevitable.  Are they right?

Special correspondent for education John Merrow of Learning Matters reports.

SARAH PISANO, Springboard Teacher:  Everyone, turn to page three, please.

JOHN MERROW:  The traditional educator’s remedy for summer learning loss is more of the same, more hours and more days of classes and, of course, summer school.

SARAH PISANO:  Now we’re on page four.

JOHN MERROW:  But suppose there is another solution.

SARAH PISANO:  Good morning, Springboard families.  Please sign in.

JOHN MERROW:  What if schools enlisted family members as partners to help teach the children?  That’s what’s happening here at Russell Byers Charter School in Philadelphia.  For five weeks this summer, Sarah Pisano helps 6- and 7-year-olds get better at reading.

MIDDLE EAST - Hamas vs Israel, 'and the War Goes On'

"Israeli strikes kill members of Hamas leadership" PBS NewsHour 8/21/2014

Excerpt

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Following this week’s cease-fire collapse, there was heavy fighting again today between Israel and Hamas.  Members of the Palestinian group’s military leadership were among the casualties.  Hari is back with that.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Thousands marched through the streets of Gaza today in the funeral procession of three senior Hamas military commanders.  The men, identified as Mohamed Abu Shamala and Raed al-Attar, plus Mohammed Barhoum, were killed by a pre-dawn Israeli airstrike.  The militant group quickly decried the killing.

SAMI ABU ZUHRI, Hamas Spokesman (through interpreter):  The assassination of the al-Qassam leaders in Rafah is a big Israeli crime that will not succeed in breaking the will of our people.  And the occupation will pay the price, God willing.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting with U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa, hailed the intelligence behind the attack and vowed there’s more to come.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter):  I want to commend the excellent work of the operational and intelligence units of the Shin Bet security service.  We will continue to work together to reach the targets, to restore peace and security for an extended period to the citizens of Israel.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  A day earlier, an Israeli airstrike missed Mohammed Deif, the top Hamas commander, but his wife and infant son were killed.

Ordinary Gazans appealed today for an end to the aerial assault.

AMAL LADIYALI (through interpreter):  Every day, there are men, women, elderly people, and children getting killed, everybody.  They mock us by giving us a bit of food to distract us.  They are killing us and burying us at the same time.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Meanwhile, a mortar round fired from Gaza seriously wounded one man in Southern Israel today.  Overall, more than 100 rockets were fired, leaving Israelis within their reach to ponder staying or leaving.

LARRY BUTLER:  This is my home, and I will stay here.  And I just hope these people — maybe — it will all calm down.  It has to calm down.  It can’t get much worse.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  It was the June killing of three Israeli teenagers and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teen that sparked this conflict.  A top Hamas official has now acknowledged for the first time that his group kidnapped the Israeli teens.

There were also accusations about the collapse of peace talks in Egypt this week.  Officials of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, claimed the Gulf state of Qatar pressured Hamas to scuttle the effort.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

GLOBAL WARMING - Ground Giving Way in Frozen North

"Why in ‘remote, cold corners’ of the world, melting ground is giving way" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Finally tonight, new indications that the planet is warming, especially in the frozen north.  Scientists have been tracking Arctic thawing for decades, and they have seen a dramatic increase since 2000.

When holes opened up in the earth recently in Siberia, a wave of speculation was set off as to their cause.  Scientists now think warming is the culprit.

To help us understand all this, we welcome back Tom Wagner.  He directs studies of the polar regions for NASA.

And it’s good to have you on the program again.

TOM WAGNER, NASA:  Thanks for having me back.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, just for those folks who don’t follow the polar region so closely on a regular basis, like you do, remind us, what is the Arctic made out of and how are you seeing it change?

TOM WAGNER:  Yes, so the top of the Arctic is an ocean covered by sea ice, but all around it are the lands of Russia and Alaska and things.  And that’s frozen ground, ground like in your backyard, but it’s frozen solid.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And what have you been observing, you and other scientists, in terms of the change?

TOM WAGNER:  Well, in general, the Arctic has warming.

We know there’s been less sea ice.  We also know snow melts earlier and things like that.  But this recent story from Siberia took everybody by surprise, because literally holes the size of a football field just opened up in the ground.

JOURNALISM - Rembering James Foley

"In remembering James Foley, sobering lessons for protecting journalists" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2014

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GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Joining me now to talk about James Foley and the threat that reporters like him face covering conflicts today is Global Post co-founder and journalist Charles Sennott and Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the committee to protect journalists.

Charles Sennott, first of all, our condolences to you and your colleagues on the loss of James Foley.  What’s can you tell us about him and how he came to be held?

CHARLES SENNOTT, Co-Founder, Global Post:  Thanks, Gwen.

You know, the best way to start to describe who is James Foley is probably to start with the way his parents talked about him today.  Anyone who saw how much faith they have, how strong they are, they know where James came from.  And that’s really important to understanding him.

Jim had strong faith in himself, but his parents had tremendous faith in what he did as a journalist.  They understood that Jim wanted to do work that mattered.  He wanted to do work that made a difference.  They understood his motivations.  And they were unwaveringly supportive of it.

And that really is who Jim Foley was.  He was a courageous reporter who took great risks to bring the story home.

IRAQ - The Displaced, 'Iraq, Country of Monsters'

"Displaced Iraqis traumatized by Islamic State, betrayed by neighbors" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Other victims of the Islamic State in recent weeks include Christians and members of the Yazidi minority.  Most who were lucky enough to escape have flooded the Kurdish -controlled region in Northern Iraq with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Tonight, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner takes a close look at these newly internally displaced persons, or IDPs, and efforts to contain their suffering.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  A Boeing 747 touched down in the afternoon heat of Irbil today, carrying 100 tons of United Nations Refugee Agency aid, the first wave of fresh supplies since the U.N. last week announced a heightened level of emergency for Northeastern Iraq.

NED COLT, Spokesman, UN High Commissioner for Refugees:  It can’t be done overnight.  No one would suggest otherwise.  But now the system is up and running in a major way.  So, we’re not just getting materials in that we already have in stock, but we are bringing them in from around the world.

MARGARET WARNER:  The tents in this shipment will shelter at least 20,000 people, but that’s just a fraction of the estimated 1.25 million Iraqis who have fled into the country’s Kurdish region since the self-proclaimed Islamic State began its onslaught here eight months ago.

MAMMALS - Update on the New Species, Olinguito

"‘Crowd-sourced’ science sheds new light on new mammal, Olinguito" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  ..... Newly discovered by scientists and newly documented by the crowd.

Jeff is back to explain.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  It was an exceedingly rare discovery; a new species of mammal called the Olinguito, a small, furry, tree-welling member of the raccoon family, living in the forests of Colombia and Ecuador.

In the year since the announcement, the Olinguito has gone from literal unknown to being surprisingly well-documented through photos and videos shot by amateur naturalists, bird watchers, and others, a kind of crowd-sourced science.

Kristofer Helgen, a curator of mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History, was part of the original discovery team, and joins us once again for an update.

MISSOURI - Restoring Calm in Ferguson and Racial Devide

"What will it take to restore calm and justice in the Ferguson community?" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2014

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JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We take a closer look now at the situation in Ferguson, how the St. Louis, Missouri, area community is struggling to keep order and heal the divisions that continue to bring protesters out into the streets.

A short while ago, we spoke with USA Today reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who is in Ferguson.

Yamiche Alcindor, thank you for joining us again.

I want to start by asking you about reaction there to Governor Nixon’s decision to ended curfew and to call in the Missouri National Guard.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, USA Today:  The reaction here was really mixed.  I talked to a lot of people who were really happy to hear that the National Guard was coming in.  People say that the businesses here are losing so much money and people who live in this neighborhood are terrorized because every night there is tear gas and there’s gunshots in their neighborhoods.

However, some people are really upset.  I talked to one woman who said she feels like she’s in prison in her own neighborhood.  And there, people really thought, you know, this is just even more militarizing of our neighborhoods.  This is really the actual military.

And when the National Guard comes in, there is going to be soldiers walking down the street.  So I think people are kind of mixed, but I think the majority of people I talked to are worried because that they thought this might get out of hand.



"Public perceptions of Brown killing and protests reveal stark division by race" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2014

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SUMMARY:  To discuss the racial divide in reactions to the Ferguson protests, Judy Woodruff looks at data with Carroll Doherty of Pew Research Center.  Ronald Hampton, former executive director of the National Black Police Association, and Gil Alba, former detective of the New York City Police Department, discuss the prospects for reconciling the Ferguson community after such upheaval.



"Ferguson residents speak to town’s tragedy" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2014

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SUMMARY:  Amid protest and tension over the killing of Michael Brown, the residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are contemplating what the events in their community mean for them and the whole country.  Hari Sreenivasan offers an array of voices from Ferguson.

AFRICA - Photographer's View of Ebola Crisis

"Photographer documents effects of Ebola on daily life in Liberia" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2014

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JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  I spoke to John Moore, a photographer with Getty Images, a short time ago.  He witnessed the attack on the quarantine center and has been documenting the outbreak in Monrovia.

John Moore, thanks for joining us.

First, tell us more about the event.  Who was involved and why did they seem to be doing it?

JOHN MOORE, Getty Images:  Well, it was an angry crowd who had just driven away a burial team who had come to claim several bodies that were suspected of — people suspected of dying of Ebola.

And the crowd drove away the burial teams and the police and then marched on the isolation ward, the holding center for Ebola patients.  They pushed through the doors and told people that they really didn’t have Ebola after all, that they were sick of other causes, and that it was safe to come out.

There’s a lot of people who deny the existence of Ebola here.  They think that it’s a scheme, a hoax, a plot by the government to bring in international money.  And they pulled these people out of the ward.  And then I left the scene because it was getting difficult.

And afterwards this crowd looted the facility, taking soiled mattresses and contaminated medical equipment, and I assume spreading the disease much more in their community.