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The GOP's 2016 tech deficit

Reporters use laptop computers, iPads and ink and paper. | Getty

The GOP's 2016 tech deficit


Here’s an early reality check for Republican White House hopefuls: The party doesn’t have enough tech experts to staff up a wide-open primary campaign.

What the aspiring GOP candidates will need to mount a modern-day tech race are campaign veterans with a wide range of seasoned digital skill sets — for fighting TV admen over budgets, writing fundraising email copy that doesn’t go straight to the trash bin and in using data the right way to find potential donors and voters.

But that kind of tech savvy doesn’t just get made in a Harvard dorm room. It comes from live-fire experience in the latest election cycles.

So while Democrats contemplate a small field where much of President Barack Obama’s vaunted campaign tech capacity transfers to Hillary Clinton, the GOP is facing a different dilemma. The tech experts it does have are likely to be scattered into a dozen or more campaigns.

The Best Time to Buy an Airline Ticket

The Best Time to Buy an Airline Ticket

New data shows exactly what the best day to buy an airline ticket is. WSJ's Scott McCartney reveals the details on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero.

Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman. (YouTube/FCKH8)

Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman.

In the “F-Bombs for Feminism” video, little girls drop the F-word over and over again while “educating adults on sexism,” the company FCKH8 says in the description.

UC leaders consider limiting out-of-state enrollment

Janet Napolitano

UC leaders consider limiting out-of-state enrollment

The University of California is beginning to have second thoughts about its highly successful effort to bring more out-of-state students onto its campuses.

In a bid to boost revenue, the system five years ago began to aggressively recruit students from other parts of the country and from around the world. The significantly higher fees those students paid brought in about $400 million extra last year. But the effort stirred a backlash from California parents, who suspected that their children's admissions chances were being hurt.

UC officials have taken great pains to argue that qualified California students were not losing slots to those from New York or China. But the complaints from parents and state legislators recently prompted UC President Janet Napolitano and other system leaders to consider putting limits on out-of-state enrollment.

Any such retrenchment faces its own set of complications.

In 2009, a year into the recession that badly hurt higher education funding, a commission on the future of the University of California recommended recruiting outside students whose tuition — triple what state residents pay — would help offset cuts in tax revenue.

UC administrators not only heeded that advice, but they far exceeded expectations.

An unprecedented 20% of this year's freshman class across the system's nine undergraduate campuses are from outside California. That’s up from 6% in 2009 and 5.3% in 2004. At UCLA and UC Berkeley, that enrollment figure is about 30% of freshmen.

University officials insist that the growth in nonresidents has been accomplished mainly by increasing sizes of the incoming freshman classes. And they note that top public universities in other states enroll much higher percentages of nonresidents than UC does. But families of top-tier California high schoolers turned away from their first-choice campuses have their doubts. As do state lawmakers.

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Obama and the End of Greatness

Obama and the End of Greatness

By Jeff Shesol

In March of 1977, several weeks into the Carter Administration, “Saturday Night Live” featured a skit called “Ask President Carter.” The premise was a radio program, hosted by Walter Cronkite (Bill Murray), on which callers brought their problems to President Carter (Dan Aykroyd). After walking a postal worker through a highly technical repair to her letter-sorting machine (“There’s a three-digit setting there, where the post and the armature meet”), the President expertly talks a man down from an acid trip. “You did some orange sunshine, Peter,” Carter tells him. “Just remember you’re a living organism on this planet, and you’re very safe.… Relax, stay inside, and listen to some music, O.K.? Do you have any Allman Brothers?”

The real Carter, it turned out, wasn’t much like this—letter-sorting machines, maybe, but never the Allman Brothers. What the skit captures is the suspension of disbelief at the start of most Presidencies—that moment when a good number of Americans are able to convince themselves that we might be in the presence of a great man, and that his greatness will be manifest. That this is the man who has the answers. When it becomes clear that he doesn’t, we never quite forgive him for it.

This is where we stand right now with President Obama.

There are two years left in his tenure, but we are already in the process of writing him off. The Atlantic is calling him “our passé President”; at a rally in Maryland on Sunday, while Obama delivered a campaign speech, dozens of people drifted out of the auditorium. Yet he is still, of course, our President, and we still, on some level, expect heroics. Deep down, we don’t want Obama to appoint an “Ebola czar.” We want him to march into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, set some new protocols, and put this unpleasant business behind us. Instead, to quell our Ebola freak-out, Obama “hugged and kissed … a couple of the nurses” at a hospital in Atlanta, which, really, is an assignment Joe Biden could have taken.

We are a long way from the ideal Presidency—the kind on display for fourteen hours in “The Roosevelts,” Ken Burns’s new documentary, which aired last month on PBS. Granted, any President—Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore—given the Burns treatment would emerge a monument, but the greatness of Franklin Roosevelt (and, to a lesser extent, his cousin Theodore) is beyond serious question. “Who else among his twelve successors can compete?” asks Aaron David Miller in “The End of Greatness,” a thoughtful new book on Presidential performance. “In almost every category—including longevity, impact, wartime leadership, media mastery, durability of coalition, ensuring party control—F.D.R. seems to have cornered the market.”

By Miller’s reckoning—and he is hardly alone here—F.D.R. is the last “undeniably great president” this country has seen. “Our challenges today,” he argues, “are varied and diffused, our politics too broken and dysfunctional and unforgiving to be resolved by a single or a series of heroic presidential actions.” Though Miller thinks “acts of greatness in the presidency are still possible,” he insists that “we cannot have another giant”—and “seldom need one” at this stage in our national development. It is time, he concludes, for America to “get over the greatness thing” and “come to terms with the limits of a president’s capacity to fix things.”

The current President would most likely agree. Despite the grand hopes and hype of the 2008 campaign, this tempering of ambitions, this recognition—and acceptance—of the constraints on Presidential power has been a leitmotif of the Obama Presidency.

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Texas to pay athletes $10,000 apiece under new rules, AD says

Texas to pay athletes $10,000 apiece under new rules, AD says


The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in return for the right to use players' images.

The University of Texas will spend nearly $6 million a year to comply with a string of recent legal rulings requiring colleges to be more generous to their scholarship athletes.

That won’t break the bank, Athletic Director Steve Patterson said Tuesday at a forum on the fast-changing business of college sports. But even rich programs like UT’s will be forced to make tough choices in the future if momentum in the courts continues to push colleges to treat their players like employees or semi-pros, he said.

Chris Plonsky, director for women’s sports at Texas, said the school already employs 350 workers to coach and care for the students who play in Austin. The money for all of those jobs, she said, comes from just two sports, football and men’s basketball.

“If we begin to [further] remunerate the participants, that’s going to break that model,” Plonsky said.

Patterson said UT won’t have problems paying the extra $6 million to its players. That money will break down to about $10,000 for each player. The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the university’s use of his image.

Colleges will soon be asked to do even more, and they ought to prepare for that, some on the panels argued. Former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen of Maryland said colleges should brace for profound challenges to their business models in the near future.

“We’re in for a period of dynamic change,” said McMillen, an All-America basketball player for the University of Maryland who also played for the United States in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. “The system has to change. The money needs to be handled differently.”

Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

 Dashiell Bennett

A leaked autopsy report supports claims of a fight inside officer Darren Wilson's car.

A new report on Michael Brown's official autopsy results appears to support Officer Darren Wilson's version of the events on August 9, according to two medical experts.

The new analysis of the autopsy results was released on Wednesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which asked two independent experts who were not involved in the investigation—one of them, the St. Louis County Medical examiner—to review the available evidence.

Their report says that Brown was shot in the hand at very close range and his blood and other tissue were found both inside and outside the car. Wilson has reportedly told investigators that he fought with Brown inside his police SUV and that Brown attempted to take his gun.

St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham told the paper that the autopsy "does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.” The other expert, forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, went even further, saying that the wound on Brown's hand "supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun" and adding that another shot, which went through Brown's forearm, means Brown could not have facing Wilson with his hands up when he was shot, an apparent contradiction of the now iconic "hands up, don't shoot" posture adopted by protesters in Ferguson.

The official county autopsy and the private autopsies conducted on behalf of the families do not disagree on the number or wounds or their location. For example, both reports say that a shot to the top of Brown's head was likely fatal, but witnesses do not agree on whether he charging toward Wilson or was already on his way to the ground when he was hit. (A second story published in the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday says Wilson claims Brown kept charging him.)

This interpretation of the report seems to coincide with other reports about Wilson's statements to investigators and his testimony before the grand jury, which was recounted in The New York Times last Friday. The feeling among many observers of the case, including The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery, and The Root's Eric Guster, is that these recent leaks are meant to prime the public for an inevitable result: a grand jury investigation that ends with no charges being filed against Wilson.

Police officers are generally given the right to respond with lethal force once they feel their life is in danger, and the Times added the federal officials think a civil rights charge against Wilson is also unlikely, given the high standards needed to file one. No matter the reason, the leaks are bound to raise tension in Ferguson once again, which continues to see protests more than 70 days since Brown's shooting.

Massive UNC academic scandal for student-athletes

Massive UNC academic scandal for student-athletes

Wainstein probe implicates over 3,000 students in University of North Carolina academic scandal

As a University of North Carolina “shadow curriculum” lasting almost 20 years neared its end in November 2009, two counselors who advise student-athletes on academics gave a presentation to the football coaching staff.

In that presentation, detailed in a report released today after an eight-month investigation led by attorney and former Department of Justice official Kenneth Wainstein, a slide appeared on a screen, indicating what might change because of the retirement in 2009 of a sole secretary in a sole department.

That secretary, the slide indicated, had used her wide leeway in the African and Afro-American Studies Curriculum to forge a scheme for students in general but for student-athletes in high percentages, which had enabled the students to shore up grade-point averages and, in some cases, maintain athletic eligibility.

The slide noted that counselors from the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) had put athletes in “classes that met degree requirements in which:

- They didn’t go to class

- They didn’t take notes or have to stay awake

- They didn’t have to meet with professors

- They didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material.”

In closing, the slide warned in capital letters that because of the secretary’s retirement, “THESE NO LONGER EXIST,” indicating that an effective mechanism for keeping players academically eligible would subside. The North Carolina head football coach at the time, Butch Davis, denied in Wainstein’s report that he could remember the slide.

The new report, the third backed by the University of North Carolina ever since a cloud of possible academic fraud started forming in 2011 and has continued largely through the reporting of the Raleigh News & Observer, addresses a scandal during which Davis was fired in summer 2011, former basketball star Rashad McCants told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” about a trail of “paper courses” that had not educated him and alleged that head coach Roy Williams had offered to help him “swap” one course for another, and 11 former basketball players and Williams publicly had rebutted McCants’ claims. North Carolina’s revered men’s basketball program won NCAA titles in 2005 (with McCants) and 2009.

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David Carr: Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

Civilians, normal people who don’t think the toppling of a sitting American president with newspaper articles is one of humankind’s lasting achievements, will read encomiums to Ben Bradlee like this one and wonder: What’s the big deal?

After all, he didn’t report the Watergate story for his Washington Post, he picked the reporters. He didn’t write the articles, he edited them. But journalists are people who will go where they are pointed, and Mr. Bradlee generally pointed to important, consequential things. People who worked for him would go through walls to bring back those stories, some of which revealed the true course of American history and some of which actually altered it.

The newspaper business can be a grand endeavor, but most of the people who commit journalism would never be mistaken for larger than life. Journalists are bystanders who chronicle the exploits of people who actually do things.

But Ben Bradlee did things. He went to war, loved early and often, befriended and took on presidents, swore like a sailor, and partied like a movie star. Now that he is gone — he died Tuesday at the age of 93 at his home in Georgetown — it is tough to imagine a newspaperman ever playing the kind of outsize role that he once did in Washington. Newspapers, and people’s regard for them, have shrunk since he ran The Post.

He took over an also-ran newspaper and turned it into a battleship like the one on which he served in World War II. Once the newspaper he ran gained steam, there was only the relentless effort to beat the competition, to find and woo talent, to afflict those that The Post deemed worthy.

In the more than quarter-century he helped lead the newsroom, from 1965 to 1991, he doubled its staff and circulation, and multiplied its ambitions. He would have been a terrible newspaperman in the current context — buyouts, reduced print schedules, timidity about offending advertisers — but he was a perfect one for his time.

“I had a good seat,” he said to Alicia C. Shepard in a 1995 interview with The American Journalism Review. “I came along at the right time with the right job and I didn’t screw it up.”

Mr. Bradlee had the attention span of a gnat — stories of him walking away from a conversation he ceased to find interesting were common — but he was completely hypnotized by the chase of a good story.


By some estimations, including his own, his most enduring accomplishment had nothing to do with the Pentagon Papers or Watergate. After he became editor of the Post, he watched with envy as The New York Herald Tribune and magazines like Esquire and Playboy were using a different vocabulary, a so-called New Journalism, to expand the ways in which stories were told.

In 1969, he conjured Style, a hip, cheeky section of the newspaper that reflected the tumult of the times in a city where fashion and discourse were rived with a maddening sameness. The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar. He expanded the vernacular of newspapering, enabling real, actual writers to shake off the shackles of the hack and generate daily discourse that made people laugh, spill their coffee or throw The Post down in disgust.

He had nothing of the commoner about him, hosting and grilling much of the world’s elite at the Georgetown home he shared with Sally Quinn, a Post party reporter who became his third wife. But although he grew up in Boston, not even knowing anyone who was black, he managed to make a credible newspaper in a majority-black city. His efforts to cover the black community in deeper ways led to the returned Pulitzer Prize in the Janet Cooke affair, a big dent in a very shiny run.

Mr. Bradlee could be almost cartoonishly ambitious. Asked by Katharine Graham, the Post’s publisher, about his interest in the top job at the paper, he immediately replied that he would “give his left one” for the opportunity. He probably would have gotten along fine on the remaining testosterone.

A player of favorites and an admirer of bravado, he famously vetoed the hiring of a reporter who had already been vetted and all but hired, because “nothing clanks when he walks.”

Ben Bradlee clanked when he walked.

CDC enacts 21-day Ebola monitoring for all travelers from West Africa

U.S. Coast Guard Health Technician Nathan Wallenmeyer (left) and Customs and Border Protection supervisor Sam Ko conduct prescreening measures on a passenger arriving from Sierra Leone at O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 5 in Chicago. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention said Wednesday that 21-day Ebola monitoring will now be required for all travelers from West Africa, including visitors and returning Americans.

CDC enacts 21-day Ebola monitoring for all travelers from West Africa

 The Associated Press

CDC Director Tom Frieden said the program will begin Monday in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans.

U.S. health officials are significantly expanding the breath of vigilance for Ebola, saying that all travellers who come into America from Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for symptoms of illness for 21 days.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the program will begin Monday and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.

The program will start in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says state and local health officials will check daily for fever or other Ebola symptoms.

Passengers will get kits to help them track their temperature and will be told to inform health officials daily of their status.


The Democratic Panic

Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kay Hagan and Other Candidates Avoid Obama

After a few days of trying to ignore the question, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Georgia, acknowledged on Friday that she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. By this year’s standards, that’s pretty forthright, especially compared with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat running for the Senate in Kentucky, who refuses to discuss her presidential vote.

Only one Democratic Senate candidate this cycle has been willing to appear with the president on the stump: Gary Peters in Michigan. The others have spent months keeping their distance from Mr. Obama and some of his best policies. Even Ms. Nunn just started running a television ad complaining that an attack ad by her Republican opponent, David Perdue, featured a misleading photo of her and Mr. Obama. The photo was actually taken at an event honoring President George H.W. Bush, she said.

The panicky Democratic flight away from President Obama — and from some of the party’s most important positions — is not a surprise. Mr. Obama remains highly unpopular among white voters, particularly in Southern states where candidates like Ms. Nunn, Ms. Grimes and several others are struggling to establish leads. But one of the reasons for his unpopularity is that nervous members of his own party have done a poor job of defending his policies over the nearly six years of his presidency, allowing a Republican narrative of failure to take hold.

Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. Not a word of it is spoken on the campaign trail, where little credit is also given to the White House for months of promising economic news.

Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it. Though none support the Republican position of repeal, most talk about the need to “fix” the health law, as if it were a wreck alongside the road rather than a vehicle providing millions of people with health coverage.

“When I think about the health care law, frustrated, disappointed, you can put a lot of words toward it, but every day I work to try to fix it,” said Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, in a radio ad. (Mr. Begich voted for the law.) In a recent debate, Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat of North Carolina, talked mostly about the “common-sense fixes” she wants to make to the law.

Several Democratic candidates, including Ms. Hagan, Ms. Nunn, and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, quickly adopted the right-wing talking point that President Obama needs to impose a travel ban on all residents of African countries with Ebola cases, even though most public-health experts say such a ban would be ineffective and could make the situation worse.

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has fought loudly against the president’s energy policies, has scurried so far to the right that she even opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, though her leading Republican opponent supports it.

Many of these candidates are running in difficult political environments and are being careful about what they say or don’t say in hopes of preserving Democratic control of the Senate. They run the risk, though, of alienating important constituencies who prefer a party with a spine, especially black voters, who remain very supportive of Mr. Obama. By not standing firmly for their own policies, Democrats send a message to voters that the unending Republican criticism of the president is legitimate. There is much that is going right in this country, and there is still time for Democrats to say so.

How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

By Peter Nicholas

The ex-White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton nearly sank his presidency has emerged from seclusion and is tweeting, writing and delivering speeches. On Monday, she joined Twitter (@MonicaLewinsky) and put out her first 140-character message: “#HereWeGo.” A day later she had nearly 64,000 followers.

So, there’s an audience for what Ms. Lewinsky has to say.

Is this trouble for the Clintons? Could it complicate Hillary Clinton‘s likely presidential bid?

Yes — though not for reasons you might think.

It’s doubtful Ms. Lewinsky has salacious new stories to share about her dalliance with the ex-president in the mid-1990s. The Starr report covered that ground in unsparing detail.

But there’s another consideration. Ms. Lewinsky’s reappearance is a reminder of a deeply polarizing period in American politics. And that does Mrs. Clinton no favors as she girds for a possible campaign.

Polls already suggest Mrs. Clinton isn’t a unifying figure who can bridge the partisan divide that has bedeviled President Barack Obama.

Since stepping down as secretary of state last year, her approval ratings have fallen steadily. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that only 43% had a positive view of Mrs. Clinton, down 15 points from the end of her tenure at State. As of last month, only 14% of Republicans viewed her favorably compared with 72% of Democrats.

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Will Millennials Ever Become Homeowners?

Will Millennials Ever Become Homeowners?

 By Gillian B. White

Many cities and states are trying to entice first-time buyers—with mixed results.

The rap on Millennials is familiar: They’re broke, underemployed, and living in their parents' basements. They’re stalling when it comes to marriage and kids, and they have a general disdain for tradition. With that narrative it’s hard to imagine that many of them have the desire, let alone the means, to leave the nest and purchase homes of their own.

And it's partially true: Those in their late 20s and early 30s are definitely a bit behind earlier generations when it comes to shelling out for their first homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, among the under-35 crowd, who largely make up the first-time homebuyer market, homeownership is down to 36 percent from a high of 43 percent in 2005.  

But that’s not exactly the whole story. “Younger buyers have expressed a desire to enter the market, and as they get married, get better jobs and begin to settle down and have children, they will,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. More than ever, young Americans are taking their time and trying to gain their financial footing before putting down roots. And according to Humphries, that could create a new normal when it comes to home buying, pushing the average age of the first-time homebuyer from 31 to between 32 and 34 within the next few years.

So what's causing the delay? It seems that a mix of generational preferences and economic circumstances is responsible. Across the nation renting is actually about 38 percent more expensive than purchasing a home, according to Trulia, a real-estate search-and-analysis site. Right now rates on mortgages are low. Very low. And though home values are rising, properties in many places across the country have yet to return to their pre-recession prices. That means that the cost of buying in many areas is relatively affordable, which is especially important for first time buyers who won’t have the proceeds from property sales to finance their purchase.

Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

By Michael Tomasky

Hundreds of millions of untraceable donations are flowing to candidates, and at some point soon untraceable ‘dark money’ will likely overtake the system.

There is something obscene in looking at the raw numbers, is there not? More than $500 million being spent on House races, and north of $300 million on Senate contests. A half-billion dollars! In the House! Where, as of yesterday, the Cook Political Report was counting a mere 17 contests as toss-ups, with 19 others as vaguely competitive. [This paragraph originally said $300 billion, which was incorrect.]

But the gross (double entendre intended) amounts aren’t the money story of this campaign. The money story of this campaign is that undisclosed money is starting to overtake the system and overtake our politics, and that at the heart of this corruption sits a lie peddled to us by the Supreme Court when it handed down the Citizens United decision. Whether it did so naively or cynically, I honestly do not know. But let’s just say that if it was naïve, it was almost too naïve to believe, Steve.

Here’s the situation. Outside spending—that is, the spending not by candidates’ own committees—may possibly surpass total candidate spending, at least in the competitive races, for the first time. And of that outside spending, an increasing amount is the category they call “dark” money, which is money whose sources and donors don’t have to be disclosed. I mean, don’t have to be disclosed. At all. That’s because these aren’t SuperPACs, which at least do have to disclose their donor lists, but are 501c4 “social welfare” (!) groups that don’t have to file anything with the Federal Elections Commission.

You’ve heard a lot about how bad SuperPACs are, and they are, but they’re not even the main problem these days. Most SuperPAC money has to be disclosed. But social welfare money does not. This recent study by the Brennan Center tells the tale. It totaled up the outside money being spent in the nine most competitive Senate races and found that 33 percent of these outside dollars weren’t subject to disclosure requirements. This includes the aforementioned social welfare organizations along with trade associations, the 501c6’s, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is one of 2014’s biggest spenders, possibly spending more this cycle than it did even in the presidential year of 2012.

A further 23 percent is subject only to partial disclosure. So more than half of this outside money is now spread around behind either partial or total secrecy. That percentage is assuredly going to grow. Almost all of the Koch Brothers’ money—they earlier announced a goal of spending $300 million on these elections, just $100 million less than they spent in the presidential year of 2012—is dark, and if they succeed, others will surely follow their example.

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Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

So much for polls: “Walmart moms” in two states with hard-fought Senate elections say they’ll make up their minds the night before Election Day.

Senate races remain stubbornly tight in key states with a number of voters unable to make up their minds at least in ways that pollsters can measure. But two all-female focus groups in North Carolina and Louisiana offered clues about what voters are thinking far away from the D.C. bubble.

The women gathered around a table Monday night in Charlotte and in New Orleans are registered voters, but this election they’ve pretty much tuned out politics. It’s just too depressing when all the candidates do is bash each other. And world affairs are no comfort either, with Ebola surfacing as the latest scary thing.  

Better to put on blinders, they say, and focus on home and family.

The fact that Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana are women doesn’t much impress these voters, dubbed Walmart Moms for their shopping habits and having at least one child under 18 at home. When asked whether they would vote for Hagan or her challenger, Republican Thom Tillis, they resisted siding with either candidate. Asked if Hagan deserves reelection, not a single hand went up -- which is the same thing that happened when asked if she didn’t deserve reelection.

“All those ads and you don’t know one way or another?” the moderator pressed. Many millions have been spent on television ads in North Carolina, as groups on the right and left try to sway the electorate. 

When would they decide? “When it gets closer to the time,” one woman said. How would they decide? “Google it,” said another. When? “Probably the night before.”

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Operation Moonlight: “no legal or procedural justification”

Watchdog: 'No justification' for Operation Moonlight

By Susan Crabtree

An internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that the Secret Service erred in diverting members of a special White House unit to protect the assistant of the agency’s director at her home in La Plata, Md.

DHS Inspector General John Roth led an investigation into the agents' diversion, an assignment known within the Secret Service as Operation Moonlight, and found “no legal or procedural justification” for it and said the diversion amounted to a “serious lapse in judgment” on the part of top agency officials who ordered it.

An unnamed top official at the Secret Service ordered the members of the Secret Service’s Prowler unit, which is responsible for patrolling the White House perimeter, to leave their posts and travel to the southern Maryland town, a 50-minute drive from Washington.

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Nation’s Confidence Ebbs at a Steady Drip

Nation’s Confidence Ebbs at a Steady Drip

In taking office during two overseas wars and the Great Recession, President Obama set out to restore society’s frayed faith in its public institutions, saying that the question was not whether government was too big or small, “but whether it works.” Six years later, Americans seem more dubious than ever that it really does.

With every passing week or month, it seems, some government agency or another has had a misstep or has been caught up in scandals that have deeply eroded public confidence. The Internal Revenue Service targets political groups, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by children illegally crossing the Rio Grande, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers up poor service, and the Secret Service fails to guard the president and his White House.

Now public esteem for the long-respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has plummeted with the arrival of Ebola on American shores. A new CBS News poll found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the centers were doing a good job, down from 60 percent last year. In fact, of nine agencies tested, seven that were judged highly by a majority of Americans last year have now fallen below 50 percent. Only one, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was rated well by a majority, and that by just 51 percent.

The disenchantment stretches beyond individual agencies to the nation’s leadership. Heading into the last election that will directly influence his presidency, Mr. Obama remains at or near his lowest approval ratings, with his handling of various matters called into question by many voters. The only solace for him is that Congress, gripped by gridlock, is held in even lower regard, with its approval rating in single digits.

“As Bill Clinton used to say, most Americans start out thinking the federal government couldn’t run a two-car funeral,” said Bruce Reed, who was a top White House official under Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama. “Now they worry that one of the two cars should have been recalled and the other can’t go anywhere because Congress is still fighting over whether to fix the road.”

To be sure, it remains debatable whether government really is more dysfunctional than in the past. During war and depression, during the civil rights movement or the Watergate scandal or Hurricane Katrina, institutions struggled to meet public needs. But today’s disillusionment has been turbocharged by the relentless pace of the modern news media, the unforgiving glare of social media and the calculating efforts of partisans.

And it has come to shape the national debate leading to the midterm congressional elections to be held in less than two weeks. Republicans are trying to capitalize on the sour mood to argue that Mr. Obama and his party have proved that they cannot be trusted to govern, a case bolstered by continuing foreign policy crises in places like Syria and Ukraine. Democrats accuse the opposition of mindless obstructionism, deliberately sabotaging government, or at least tearing down belief in it, out of ideological fervor and political ambition.

“There’s a sense that things simply don’t work in Washington, and Congress, in particular, seems to be completely gridlocked,” Mr. Obama told donors in Chicago on Monday night. “And so all of this adds together to a sense on the part of folks that the institutions they rely on to apply common-sense decisions and to look out for working families across the country, that those institutions aren’t working the way they’re supposed to.”

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Ebola Fears Could Make People More Likely to Vote Conservative

Ebola Fears Could Make People More Likely to Vote Conservative

By Alice Robb

Nearly half of Americans admitted to pollsters that they believe they are “at risk” of contracting Ebola. The effects of the virus go beyond our collective psyche. According to The New Republic’s Brian Beutler, Republicans are gearing up to capitalize on voters’ fear of a massive Ebola outbreak in upcoming elections. And Republicans might benefit from the Ebola panic for another, more existential reason: A growing body of literature in psychology suggests that feelings of fear make people’s political outlook more conservative. 

Over the past few years, a number of experiments have begun to shed light on the relationship between emotion and political inclinations. “There’s empirical research that suggests that when people are primed with images of mortality — graveyards, hospitals, the elderly — this can move them to the right,” said John Hibbing, who directs the political physiology lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Some studies suggest that people who are already conservative may be extra-sensitive to these images.

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Does Fear Keep Us Safe?

Does Fear Keep Us Safe?

By Captain Tom Bunn, L.C.S.W.

Xenophobia is not just a phobia. It has grown to become a religion subscribed to by about half of us. To determine what makes us safe, we need to separate what makes sense from what is sheer phobia.

In the U.S. xenophobia is not just a phobia. It has grown to become a religion subscribed to by about half of us. Its anxiety-ridden adherents believe more - not less - fear is needed to ensure our safety. The more afraid people become, the more likely we are to make ourselves safe by closing our borders, arming ourselves, restricting voting, shrinking the government, and sending someone else's kid abroad to kill those we are afraid of.

Renee Zellweger Has A New Face

Renee Zellweger Has A New Face

In defense of Renee Zellweger: 22 thoughts about a startling new face

4. The shock that greeted a 45-year-old Oscar winner’s makeover indicated that our society has grave concerns about chasing a youthful look — likely through cosmetic surgery. The data suggests otherwise. Americans had more than 11 million cosmetic procedures in 2013, according to stats from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery — 12 percent more than in 2012, and six times more than in 1997. Let’s just hazard a guess that the number of per capita “procedures” is somewhat higher in Los Angeles than in the U.S. as a whole

Renee Zellweger in 2003 (Kim D. Johnson/AP)

8. But Frances McDormand is talking about it.  “Something happened culturally,” the proudly wrinkled actress, 57, recently raged to the New York Times. “No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face. . . [My husband] literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who’ve had work. I’m so full of fear and rage about what they’ve done.”

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What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?

Credit Photo illustrations by Zachary Scott for The New York Times.

What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?


Ellen Langer’s experiments have shown that mental attitudes might reverse some ravages of old age. Now she wants to test that same radical principle on cancer.

One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.

The subjects were in good health, but aging had left its mark. “This was before 75 was the new 55,” says Langer, who is 67 and the longest-serving professor of psychology at Harvard. Before arriving, the men were assessed on such measures as dexterity, grip strength, flexibility, hearing and vision, memory and cognition — probably the closest things the gerontologists of the time could come to the testable biomarkers of age. Langer predicted the numbers would be quite different after five days, when the subjects emerged from what was to be a fairly intense psychological intervention.

Langer had already undertaken a couple of studies involving elderly patients. In one, she found that nursing-home residents who had exhibited early stages of memory loss were able to do better on memory tests when they were given incentives to remember — showing that in many cases, indifference was being mistaken for brain deterioration. In another, now considered a classic of social psychology, Langer gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. She told one group that they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they could also make choices about their schedules during the day. She told the other group that the staff would care for the plants, and they were not given any choice in their schedules. Eighteen months later, twice as many subjects in the plant-caring, decision-making group were still alive than in the control group.

To Langer, this was evidence that the biomedical model of the day — that the mind and the body are on separate tracks — was wrongheaded. The belief was that “the only way to get sick is through the introduction of a pathogen, and the only way to get well is to get rid of it,” she said, when we met at her office in Cambridge in December. She came to think that what people needed to heal themselves was a psychological “prime” — something that triggered the body to take curative measures all by itself. Gathering the older men together in New Hampshire, for what she would later refer to as a counterclockwise study, would be a way to test this premise.

The men in the experimental group were told not merely to reminisce about this earlier era, but to inhabit it — to “make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago,” she told me. “We have good reason to believe that if you are successful at this,” Langer told the men, “you will feel as you did in 1959.” From the time they walked through the doors, they were treated as if they were younger. The men were told that they would have to take their belongings upstairs themselves, even if they had to do it one shirt at a time.

Each day, as they discussed sports (Johnny Unitas and Wilt Chamberlain) or “current” events (the first U.S. satellite launch) or dissected the movie they just watched (“Anatomy of a Murder,” with Jimmy Stewart), they spoke about these late-'50s artifacts and events in the present tense — one of Langer’s chief priming strategies. Nothing — no mirrors, no modern-day clothing, no photos except portraits of their much younger selves — spoiled the illusion that they had shaken off 22 years.

At the end of their stay, the men were tested again. On several measures, they outperformed a control group that came earlier to the monastery but didn’t imagine themselves back into the skin of their younger selves, though they were encouraged to reminisce. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller — just as Langer had guessed. Perhaps most improbable, their sight improved. Independent judges said they looked younger. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride.

The results were almost too good. They beggared belief. “It sounded like Lourdes,” Langer said. Though she and her students would write up the experiment for a chapter in a book for Oxford University Press called “Higher Stages of Human Development,” they left out a lot of the tantalizing color — like the spontaneous touch-football game that erupted between heretofore creaky seniors as they waited for the bus back to Cambridge. And Langer never sent it out to the journals. She suspected it would be rejected.

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George P. Bush looks to his future — and his dad's

George P. Bush is pictured. | AP Photo

George P. Bush looks to his future — and his dad's

The younger Bush is running for Texas land commissioner — his first run for office and probably not his last — but on the trail he’s just as likely to be asked about Jeb Bush’s potential presidential ambitions as his own political goals.

It’s an only-in-the-Bush-family dilemma that George P. handles with grace. In a series of interviews on a swing through Gulf Coast towns, he told POLITICO that his father will decide whether to run in 2016 “very shortly,” and that among the sacrifices he’s weighing is putting aside his lucrative business dealings, which reportedly range from chairing a private equity and consulting firm to giving well-paid speeches. Also key will be how others in the Bush clan, including Jeb Bush’s publicity-shy wife, Columba, ultimately come down, and whether Jeb Bush really wants to make such a serious time commitment, his son said.

“I think he’s assessing in his heart of hearts whether or not he can offer something to the Republican ticket,” George P. Bush said. “He’s got a great business, and he’d have to give that up as well. So there’s all kinds of considerations there, not to be taken lightly, and one that we’ll hear, I think a final conclusion on very — very shortly,” though after the Nov. 4 midterms.

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Benjamin C. Bradlee 1921-2014

Benjamin C. Bradlee  1921-2014

Ben Bradlee in his office in 1995. (Bill O'Leary/The Post)

Legendary editor transformed The Post

Ben Bradlee’s gift for leadership and zest for journalism — and life — made him the most celebrated editor of his era. He directed The Post’s coverage of Watergate, which resulted in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history.

Robert G. Kaiser

Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93.

From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily. He achieved that goal by combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines. His charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.

The most compelling story of Mr. Bradlee’s tenure, almost certainly the one of greatest consequence, was Watergate, a political scandal touched off by The Post’s reporting that ended in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history.

But Mr. Bradlee’s most important decision, made with Katharine Graham, The Post’s publisher, may have been to print stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration went to court to try to quash those stories, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the New York Times and The Post to publish them.

President Obama recalled Mr. Bradlee’s legacy on Tuesday night in a statement that said: “For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession — it was a public good vital to our democracy. A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told — stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standard he set — a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting — encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, we offer our thoughts and prayers to Ben’s family, and all who were fortunate to share in what truly was a good life.”

The Post’s circulation nearly doubled while Mr. Bradlee was in charge of the newsroom — first as managing editor and then as executive editor — as did the size of its newsroom staff. And he gave the paper ambition.

Mr. Bradlee stationed correspondents around the globe, opened bureaus across the Washington region and from coast to coast in the United States, and he created features and sections — most notably Style, one of his proudest inventions — that were widely copied by others.

During his tenure, a paper that had previously won just four Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was for reporting, won 17 more, including the Public Service award for the Watergate coverage.

“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald E. Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher of The Post and Mr. Brad­lee’s boss.

“So much of The Post is Ben,” Mrs. Graham said in 1994, three years after Mr. Bradlee retired as editor. “He created it as we know it today.”

Leonard Downie Jr., who succeeded Mr. Brad­lee as The Post’s executive editor in 1991, said, “Ben’s influence remained very much alive at The Washington Post long after he retired, distinguishing the newspaper and our newsroom as unique in journalism.” President Obama saluted Mr. Bradlee’s role at The Post when giving him the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2013: “He transformed that newspaper into one of the finest in the world.”


Mr. Bradlee’s friendship with Kennedy produced complex feelings that lasted for decades after the president’s 1963 assassination. Mr. Brad­lee knew reporters shouldn’t become close friends with politicians. At the same time, Mr. Bradlee loved bright, lively, charming people, and he had great confidence in his own ability to stay straight journalistically in all circumstances. “If I was had, so be it,” Mr. Bradlee wrote in his 1974 bestseller, “Conversations With Kennedy.”

Mr. Bradlee insisted that he never had an inkling that the president was carrying on with numerous other women, from Mafia molls to Mr. Bradlee’s sister-in-law, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Tony Bradlee’s sister. Mr. Bradlee acknowledged that this obliviousness seemed improbable, but no evidence ever emerged to challenge his protestations of ignorance.

This friendship was a journalistic boon to Mr. Bradlee, who received a stream of scoops from Kennedy and his entourage that made him a highly visible figure in the competitive world of Washington journalism. He became a certifiable member of the journalistic elite in a capital city where reporters were just starting to become more glamorous and prominent.

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ESPN Magazine: KOBE

ESPN Magazine: KOBE

by Henry Abbott

He is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Lakers' franchise. He is also destroying it from within.

From Wilt to Kareem to Shaq to Pau, they were the team that could always pull one more star out of the hat. But since the night of Fisher's explosive delight, the squad's most stunning trick has been in how completely and quickly it turned the NBA's show-pony franchise into a goat, ranked 28th in ESPN's most recent Future Power Rankings. Four years, five coaches, three early playoff flameouts, two key departed big men, one celebrated owner deceased. The Lakers have been in near free fall.

It would seem that the only connection fans have to the Lakers' title tradition is Bryant, the man who helped make the franchise one of the most popular brands in sports. Now 36, he's a lock to have his statue outside Staples Center someday. He's the reason celebrities line up 10 deep inside. He's also, say sources both in and around the Lakers' organization, the primary reason the team has fallen so mightily.

For years the Lakers lived by the Mamba. This is the story of how they're dying by him.


The story of the Lakers' losing Howard has been told as one of the big man chafing under Mike D'Antoni's offense. One Lakers source, though, says Howard's issue wasn't really with the offensive scheme but that "he saw one particular player play outside that scheme with carte blanche, with no accountability. These people who say Dwight couldn't handle the pressure of Los Angeles ... that's nonsense. LA was everything Dwight wanted. To be celebrated. To be among stars. To be among women of this caliber. To live, basically, in one big reality TV show. This was a perfect setting for him."

Bryant, who declined through a Lakers spokesman to comment for this story, playfully grumbles about today's youth and their newfangled ways, but there really is an element to his play that is from the past. By the old points-per-game measure, he was not just a perennial All-Star but one of the best players ever. But the league has changed around Bryant, and swiftly. The movement of people and the ball, 3s, rim attacks, coordinated defensive effort and generating open shots for teammates are what's winning now. Subsuming ego and glorifying teammates is a winning NBA strategy, and it's what D'Antoni and Nash attempted to bring to the Lakers.

After his first year with Bryant, Nash couldn't hide his disappointment when talking to Grantland's Zach Lowe: "I think it'd be nice to find a middle ground where he does his thing but the ball still can move for great parts of the game. ... But I knew it wasn't going to be the same. When you play with Kobe Bryant, the ball is gonna be with him most of the time."

Or it will be, at least, until he shoots it. Bryant has fired away for nearly two decades. He's fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, trailing only Kareem, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. He's also just a few weeks' play from setting an all-time league record for misses. "The problem is, he's just not as good as he thinks he is," says one source in the Lakers' inner circle. "He's just not as efficient as he thinks he is. If he had the other intangibles, like LeBron, or if he was any kind of different person, it would have been easy for us to attract talent, retain it and win."

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Eric Frein sightings: How 'wilderness ninja' has outfoxed 1,000 cops

Eric Frein sightings: How 'wilderness ninja' has outfoxed 1,000 cops

By Patrik Jonsson

Law enforcement officials are shifting the focus of the massive manhunt for Eric Frein following two sightings of the alleged sniper in northern Pennsylvania.

 Two fresh sightings of alleged sniper Eric Frein has resulted in more closed public schools in northern Pennsylvania and a shift in a massive manhunt to near where Mr. Frein went to high school – and where he was a member of the high school rifle team.

The pressing question of how a single man has outmaneuvered 1,000 trained law enforcement officers in the Pocono Mountains for over five weeks suggests that Frein has used a home-field advantage, long-term planning, and survival skills to resemble a “wilderness ninja,” a term some use to describe a rare breed of native scouts who can, in essence, morph into shadows.

But while true native scouts are bulwarks for good, Frein has “gone to the dark side,” says Shane Hobel, the founder of the Mountain Scout Survival School in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“This guy is on a totally different parallel [than a native scout] but it is a parallel,” says Mr. Hobel. “That makes him a dangerous individual, and the fact that he’s got sniper capability makes it even more dangerous.”

A self-taught survivalist and crack rifle shot, Frein is alleged to have killed one state trooper and wounded another in a brazen midnight ambush on a rural police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pa., on Sept. 12. 

Tom Brown, the legendary American tracker and founder of the Tracker School in Manahawkin, N.J., says that Frein likely planned the attack and escape for years. That’s corroborated, says Mr. Brown, by stories about Frein disappearing from work for weeks at a time, likely to prepare food caches and find hidden shelters. The fact that searchers have failed to spot Frein with heat-sensitive scanners suggests he may be hiding in caves.

After five weeks of searching, police have at times come titillatingly close to Frein, spotting him on several occasions and finding several camp spots, including one with a rifle, ammunition, and a diary that recount the shooting in cold-blooded terms.

Police insist they’re close to capturing Frein, believing that he is increasingly feeling stressed and cornered.

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The truth about evil

Hitler Youth

The truth about evil

John Gray

Our leaders talk a great deal about vanquishing evil. But their rhetoric reveals a failure to accept that cruelty is a basic human trait 

When Barack Obama vows to destroy Isis’s “brand of evil” and David Cameron declares that Isis is an “evil organisation” that must be obliterated, they are echoing Tony Blair’s judgment of Saddam Hussein: “But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail.

If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.

Ever since it was spun off from al-Qaida some 10 years ago, Isis has made clear its commitment to beheading apostates and unbelievers, enslaving women and wiping out communities that will not submit to its ultra-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In its carefully crafted internet videos, it has advertised these crimes itself. There has never been any doubt that Isis practises methodical savagery as an integral part of its strategy of war. This did not prevent an abortive attempt on the part of the American and British governments in August of last year to give military support to the Syrian rebels – a move that could have left Isis the most powerful force in the country. Isis became the prime enemy of western governments only when it took advantage of the anarchy these same governments had created when they broke the state of Iraq with their grandiose scheme of regime change.

Against this background, it would be easy to conclude that talk of evil in international conflicts is no more than a cynical technique for shaping public perceptions. That would be a mistake. Blair’s secret – which is the key to much in contemporary politics – is not cynicism. A cynic is someone who knowingly acts against what he or she knows to be true. Too morally stunted to be capable of the mendacity of which he is often accused, Blair thinks and acts on the premise that whatever furthers the triumph of what he believes to be good must be true. Imagining that he can deliver the Middle East and the world from evil, he cannot help having a delusional view of the impact of his policies.


No view of things could be more alien at the present time. Whatever their position on the political spectrum, almost all of those who govern us hold to some version of the melioristic liberalism that is the west’s default creed, which teaches that human civilisation is advancing – however falteringly – to a point at which the worst forms of human destructiveness can be left behind. According to this view, evil, if any such thing exists, is not an inbuilt human flaw, but a product of defective social institutions, which can over time be permanently improved.

Paradoxically, this belief in the evanescence of evil is what underlies the hysterical invocation of evil that has lately become so prominent. There are many bad and lamentable forces in the world today, but it is those that undermine the belief in human improvement that are demonised as “evil”. So what disturbs the west about Vladimir Putin, for example, is not so much the persecution of gay people over which he has presided, or the threat posed to Russia’s neighbours by his attempt to reassert its imperial power. It is the fact that he has no place in the liberal scheme of continuing human advance. As a result, the Russian leader can only be evil. When George W Bush looked into Putin’s eyes at a Moscow summit in May 2002, he reported, “I was able to get a sense of his soul”. When Joe Biden visited the Kremlin in 2011, he had a very different impression, telling Putin: “Mr Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” According to Biden, Putin smiled and replied, “We understand each other.” The religious language is telling: nine years earlier, Putin had been a pragmatic leader with whom the west could work; now he was a soulless devil.

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Did Obama just hand GOP a weapon to use against endangered Democrats?

Did Obama just hand GOP a weapon to use against endangered Democrats?

By Peter Grier

Obama said that it didn't hurt his feelings that some Democrats in red or swing states didn't want to campaign with him, because 'these are all folks who vote with me' – a point that GOP rivals have been making all along.
Obama appeared yesterday on Al Sharpton’s radio show. His primary purpose was to try and increase turnout and political excitement among Mr. Sharpton’s audience, which is minority-oriented. Obama said he understood the position of Democrats in red or swing states who don’t want him to show up for personal campaigning. That doesn’t hurt his feelings, said the president, because he understands how the world works and figures those folks are strong supporters anyway.

“The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me,” said Obama. “They have supported my agenda in Congress.”

Unique Considerations for Children Raised by Grandparents

Unique Considerations for Children Raised by Grandparents

By Angela Grippo, Ph.D.

Grandparents clearly are stepping up to help out in times of need.

Between 2008 and 2010, more than 5 million children in the United States lived with their grandparents (Murphey, Cooper, & Moore, 2012). About two-thirds of these households were multi-generational, where both the parent and grandparent lived in the home. The remaining one-third were custodial grandparent households, where the parent generation was absent (Vespa, Lewis, & Kreider, 2013).

Usually living in grandparent-headed households is better than the alternative. For example, children with single parents fared better academically and psychologically when living in multi-generational households compared to those living in single-parent-only households (DeLeire & Kalil, 2002). Similarly, children who live in custodial grandparent households, after being placed there by social services, do better than those who are placed in the regular foster care system (Brooks & Barth, 1998).

Other things such as age and culture are likely to influence how a child responds to living with a grandparent. Younger children need to feel loved and cared for, which grandparents can do well. However, adolescents who are figuring out who they are and how they fit into the world likely will start to wonder what it means to have their grandparents serving in a parental role. In addition, the expectation of how involved grandparents should be in taking care of grandchildren varies by culture.

How to Make Frequent Business Travel Healthier

How to Make Frequent Business Travel Healthier

By Michael Friedman, Ph.D.

Frequent business travel can be exciting and productive, but can also come with a substantial health cost. In order to ensure sustainability and long-term success, one's health and wellbeing must be a priority.

Third, think of the larger goals in your life, and what your health management will bring you. For example, if you are trying to manage your diabetes to live longer to see your loved ones, try to focus on that while traveling. This will not only provide motivation, but also increase your happiness in the moment.

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think.

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think.

When it comes to the outlets that the most conservative Americans get their news from, it's Fox News and everybody else.

And by everybody else, we mean mostly a bunch of other conservative-leaning media.

A new study from the Pew Research Center lays bare the increasing reliance on partisan and/or ideological news sources on the right and left, and both sides have trended in that direction. But when you compare the left to the right, it's clear which side is more interested in consuming news from sources with which it agrees politically.

Pew asked people which news sources they got their news from in the previous week. Among the most conservative Americans -- what Pew calls "consistent conservatives" -- five of the top six answers leaned to the right.

More than eight in 10 "consistent conservatives" said they had consumed news from Fox in the previous week (84 percent). Another 50 percent cited local news, while between 29 and 45 percent cited conservative commentators or their associated Web sites -- the radio shows of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Beck's news site, The Blaze.

On the left, MSNBC doesn't carry near the same weight as Fox with "consistent liberals." Just 38 percent say they had consumed news from the liberal-leaning cable news outlet. These Americans have more mainstream tastes, consuming news from NPR (53 percent), CNN (52 percent), local TV (39 percent), NBC News and PBS (37 percent apiece), the BBC (34 percent), ABC News and the New York Times (33 percent apiece).

The only other outlet approaching the kind of ideological, commentator-driven news of the Hannitys, the Becks and the Limbaughs on the left is the Daily Show, which 34 percent of "consistent liberals" cited as a news source they had tapped in in the past week. And while the Daily Show certainly has a liberal-leaning point of view, its express purpose is entertainment -- not news.

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When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S.

When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S.


Despite state and federal guidelines, Long Island districts are requiring documents that are often difficult for families to obtain, forcing immigrant children to stay at home.

Before dawn breaks and the morning light spills onto his bedroom floor, Carlos Garcia Lobo bounces out of bed, his eyes alight with anticipation, and asks his mother if he can go to school.

Each time, she replies to her 8-year-old son: Not yet.

Four months after fleeing Honduras with a 15-year-old cousin, Carlos has reached what his family said seemed like an impassable frontier. Like dozens of the roughly 2,500 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been released to relatives or other sponsors on Long Island so far this year, Carlos has been unable to register for school.

The impasse has baffled parents, who say their scant resources have proved no match for school district bureaucracies. Required by law to attend school, children are nevertheless stuck at home, despite unrelenting efforts by their parents and others to prove that they are eligible. Suffolk and Nassau Counties, on Long Island, rank third and fifth, respectively, in the United States, after counties centered on Houston and Los Angeles, in the number of unaccompanied minors they have absorbed so far this year; Miami-Dade County is fourth.

Many of the children are barred because their families cannot gather the documents that schools require to prove they are residents of the district or have guardianship — obstacles that contravene legal guidance on enrollment procedures the State Education Department issued in September. Concern over similar deterrents across the country prompted Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in May to chide districts for “raising barriers for undocumented children,” thereby violating a 1982 Supreme Court decision that guarantees their right to an education.

Driven from Honduras by gangs that brandished machetes and robbed his grandmother’s home, Carlos trekked to the border in June with his cousin and a guide, bumping along on buses “all day and night,” he recalled.

On July 10, Carlos joined his mother, Yeinni Lobo, who came to the United States when he was 11 months old. Since he arrived, Ms. Lobo says she has visited the local school office at least 10 times, toting a stack of immunization records. She provided her address, and the name of the fellow tenant who collects her rent, to show that she lived in the district, she said. But the school demanded a statement from the home’s absentee owner.

So as Carlos tries to decode the schoolwork his older cousins bring home, Ms. Lobo gets an education in red tape. She found her homeowner’s Bronx address on property records at a nearby courthouse. A letter she sent pleading for help soon dropped back through her mail slot, marked “Return to Sender.” Carlos’s official manila file folder is affixed with a neon green Post-it reading, “Waiting for owner’s affidavit.” Once, a school secretary suggested that Ms. Lobo fix the problem by moving to a different home. In the school parking lot, she says, she and other mothers cry over the lost weeks.

“They are not giving us a solution,” Ms. Lobo said. “I’m worried because he’s getting behind.”

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