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Historian And Author Of 'The Pacific' Hugh Ambrose Dead At 48

3 hours 46 min ago
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hugh Ambrose, who wrote the World War II history "The Pacific" after years of researching for his father, the renowned historian Stephen Ambrose, has died at age 48.

Ambrose died of cancer Saturday in Helena, sister Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs said Tuesday. Hugh Ambrose began research for "The Pacific" with his father, and he carried on after Stephen Ambrose's death in 2002.

That culminated in the book and a 2010 HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks that tells the story of the war's Pacific Theater through the eyes of individual Marines.

Ambrose began his career while he was in graduate school at the University of Montana in the mid-1990s by helping his father research books such as "Undaunted Courage," the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

He continued to conduct research for Stephen Ambrose's books, including "Nothing Like it in the World" and "Citizen Soldiers," and worked on the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" that was based on his father's book.

But Hugh Ambrose found his own success with the best-selling "The Pacific."

"His dad's legacy was important to him, but he definitely was a historian in his own right," his wife, Andrea Ambrose, said Tuesday.

Ambrose grew up in Louisiana, where his father was a professor at the University of New Orleans. He was on the board of directors and later the vice president of development for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which his father helped create.

He and his family moved to Helena after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. The Ambrose family had lived in Montana part time, and Hugh Ambrose had earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Montana.

Ambrose continued to work on "The Pacific" and raise money for the National World War II Museum after the move to Helena.

He was a trustee for Helena's Lewis and Clark Library, was on the board of the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts and was the father of two children.

"He was an amazing father and husband and friend, and just the most solid, honest person that I've ever met in my life," Andrea Ambrose said. "He was the kind of guy who just wanted to do the right thing."

A funeral Mass for Ambrose will be held Friday at Saint Mary Catholic Community in Helena.

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Categories: News Monitor

'Fox & Friends' Cohost Brian Kilmeade & Guest Host Scott Brown Flunk Manhood Test

3 hours 50 min ago
How many Fox News hosts does it take to change a tire? We may never know because on Tuesday's "Fox & Friends," two of the guys flunked this supposed test of manhood.

Cohost Brian Kilmeade and guest host Scott Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts, were given tests that for reasons never fully explained were supposed to demonstrate higher levels of testosterone.

The segment started off on a positive note as Kilmeade used his hormones to tie a necktie while Brown tied a knot, according to a clip posted online by Raw Story.

But things quickly went south when they were asked by former Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden, author of "Book of Man: A Navy SEAL's Guide to the Lost Art of Manhood," to perform the extra-manly task of changing a car tire. Kilmeade and Brown failed to put the car in park or use the emergency brake, and it rolled forward.

"Watch your feet, Elisabeth," Brown called out to co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who had been leaning on the car.

Then, the vehicle almost came off the jack. Eventually, the men gave up.

Perhaps trying to make them feel better, Van Orden gestured to passersby on the New York City street where the segment was taking place.

"If you talk to these people who are next to us out here in Manhattan, the vast majority of them don't know how to do this," he said.

Several of the people, off camera, apparently admitted they couldn't. But to be fair, they probably don't own cars: In Manhattan, just 23 percent of households have a motor vehicle.

Kilmeade, who has a history of making sexist comments (examples here, here, here and here), admitted he "kinda failed at the manhood thing."

"I'm a man in training, all right?" he said.

Kilmeade also joked about it on Twitter:

Tried to change tire & failed but proud to have dirty hands to show 4 it @ehasselbeck @foxandfriends @SenScottBrown pic.twitter.com/KniTDGZEpu

— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) May 26, 2015

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Dear Commander-in-Chief: A Route to an ISIS Rout

8 hours 30 min ago
Dear President Obama:

The humiliating ISIS victory at Ramadi is not just a tactical defeat for Iraq's beleaguered army and the coalition supporting it. Rather, ISIS's victory, however short-lived, is proof positive that the anti-ISIS coalition is inadequate to the task and warrants an overhaul. ISIS simply cannot be diminished based on the current battlefield and Washington political calculations. As you stated at the onset: degrading and defeating ISIS will take several years. But the longer it takes to defeat ISIS the greater the threat ISIS poses to the American homeland. That factor alone dictates going back to the drawing board.

The minimalist strategy you hoped would avoid a more costly U.S. military investment is not achieving the desired results. You and your staff are digging in heels and circling the wagons in defense of a gamble that has more wing and prayer to it than a fair well thought out plan that beneficially leverages American diplomatic and military capacities. Setbacks in this fight are going to happen. Just a few weeks ago, it appeared as if ISIS was on its heels. The fog of war is setting in so clarity of purpose is all the more vital.

The Iraqi military defeat at Ramadi proves that no amount of new arms is going to inject a will to fight. Ash Carter said as much over the weekend. Now, Baghdad and the entire U.S. calculation under-girding Iraq's capacity to prevail over ISIS is in jeopardy. If Iraq's military cannot carry the fight, then you deserve a viable Plan B. It is disappointing to read that the military commanders at CENTCOM (e.g., Marin Brig. General Thomas Weidley) are not leveling with you; asserting that the anti-ISIS strategy is "on track" in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Don't succumb to the proclivity of some military commanders to tell you and your staff what they believe you want to hear. It stands to reason that when by its own estimate the US Air Force acknowledges that 75% of all coalition planes return to base with unexpended ordinance because they cannot identify viable ISIS targets from the air this is not a way to run a railroad. Coalition sorties that only have a 25% success rate is not an air campaign that is "on track."

Perhaps an Iranian-directed Shiite militia counteroffensive will succeed retaking Ramadi, but it is obvious that a rampaging, deadly ingenious ISIS remains a formidable force - each battlefield success breeds more recruits and more American lone wolves. If you prefer holding fast to John Earnest's "tweak the strategy" adage call it what you will, but something has to give, PRONTO!

It is perfectly understandable that you hoped to close the book on Iraq and not be mired again in another war. But you have a Hobbesian choice now: invest more will in a better strategy now, or, by default or by design, empower delay to force a weaker hand later.

You have steadfastly resisted calls by your own Pentagon advisers to place a few more strategic boots on the ground when a very limited additional deployment of forward target spotters and seasoned U.S. battle advisers could have helped tip the balance and may have provided the very "steel backbone" to better lead Iraqi military troops into sustained battle. Semantic gyrations defining what are boots on the ground camouflages the urgency and dangers afoot. Do you take the chance risking limited military casualties now, or endure a devastating ISIS attack on Americans deployed in the rear. I realize this is not an "either or" proposition, but think about what you may confront if Baghdad is in greater danger. A Beirut-style Marine barracks bombing cannot be ruled out given Baghdad's exposed perimeter no matter how secure the Green Zone may be.

Now, we have the worst of all worlds. An untrustworthy sectarian throttled Shiite militia is all that stands between Ramadi and Baghdad. More and more Sunnis are grieving that the Iraqi central government abandoned them. Panic mode is about to set in as it did a summer ago when Baghdad was in ISIS's crosshairs. This is no time to equivocate or set up straw men to defend the indefensible.

What can you do to achieve the strategic goals you set for this coalition?

1. METO (Middle East Treaty Organization): A new Middle East security pact that is not an empty shell is essential. This is not our war and I agree with you it is not. It is first of all, Iraq's war, and second, a war of defense for the very existence of Sunni Arab states. ISIS has sprung limbs throughout the troubled region. However, the communique you approved at the recent Camp David Gulf Cooperation Council meeting was thin gruel when it came to what to do about ISIS. Broad statements do not translate into new facts on the ground. ISIS' threat to Sunni Arab states which have not fallen into the "failed" column (Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan and the GCC states) painfully know that if Iraq disintegrates it does so at their collective peril.

You should adopt two parallel tracks: 1) leveraging your pledge to provide an American defensive shield over GCC states with the recruitment of an inter-Arab division or three composed of troops from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States.

Not possible? You protested that it is too difficult to find effective partners. Can you be certain that every angle has been exhausted and that it is impossible to find those effective regional partners. American leadership produced an inter-Arab coalition to liberate Kuwait. Today, more than Kuwait is at risk. Arab leaders know that. An expeditionary force under a UN flag to push ISIS out of Anbar Province and Mosul has never had the type of full court press a viable coalition demands. American diplomacy has been half-hearted and inadequate to the task given the stakes. You were proud of the anti ISIS coalition that was formed, but it has not leaned sufficiently on Sunni Arab states to carry their weight.

Toward that end you should consider creating a new Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) that fulfills your Camp David commitments without absolving the Trans-Arab coalition of its duties and frontal obligations. If anyone on your staff trots out CENTO's failure (a cold war treaty organization focused on Middle East states to resist Soviet Middle East aspirations) tell them that was then and this is now. Call in some diplomatic cavalry to help your exhausted national security staff. American lives are at stake.

METO would have one goal: destroy ISIS and help restore peace and security to Iraq and Syria (including ridding Syria of Assad). The United States cannot and should not be saving Sunni Arab states when they refuse to save themselves, so the cost of further American involvement in ISIS has to be made conditional on the formation of a unified command structure that yields a fighting force that Iraq itself simply cannot muster.

Mr. President, you have valiantly tried to use an eyedropper to painstakingly calibrate the dose of U.S. military efforts to hold ISIS at bay, let alone to reverse its territorial gains. The patient is far too ill to resort to an eyedropper any longer.

2. IS ABADI THE ONLY KEY TO A SUNNI ALTERNATIVE AGAINST ISIS? As much as Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi is a significant improvement over his paranoid predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, Abadi appears to have been unwilling accomplice to your strategy of arming Sunni Arab tribesman to fight ISIS in Anbar Province. He has not been willing to ship urgent weapons to Sunni tribal leaders prepared to fight ISIS. His reticence is proving to be too damaging to the goals you set out. The fall of Ramadi may be his Waterloo. Sunni tribal leaders had pleaded for more arms from Baghdad and their appeals fell on deaf ears. Shiite sectarianism is trumping Iraqi sovereignty. What happens if Abadi is toppled before you can unveil a strategy that will buttress his standing? He is key to maintaining any Sunni alternative to ISIS, but any hope for reviving the Sahwat (Sunni Awakening) is diminishing by the hour. If the Coalition considers Iraq's sovereignty an overarching goal it is going to have to prove it, not merely assert it. Sunnis may have no alternative but to accept ISIS as their Sunni army if Shiite militias are the only force left standing between them and ISIS.

3. ISIS MAY BE A "CRIMINAL GANG AND DEATH CULT" BUT HAS THE EQUIVALENT OF TWO MILITARY DIVISIONS. Your Coalition commander, respected Major John Allen, has to make up his mind. Is he fighting, what he calls, a "criminal gang" or an actual death army on the march. Whether gang or army, ISIS's theological and political authority is fueled by the acquisition of territory and its capacity to assert its jihadi authority in large swaths of territory. So long as ISIS is able to waltz its forces back and from Raqqa, Syria to Mosul, Iraq, it casts a much wider spell on Sunnis recruits than one battlefield defeat or success. The Islamic state is not a mirage as long as it has this capacity to traverse this barren terrain unimpeded. Are there even drones spying on this area? A Sunni Arab force can turn the tables on ISIS via Jordan's northern border by barricading Syrian/Iraqi frontier access points without having to become mired in intra-Iraqi sectarian strife in eastern Anbar. ISIS military commanders are cunning, but they cannot risk forfeiting their "state's" territorial integrity. Ambushing does not require massive deployments. Cutting the Islamic state in two in a rear-guard action would compel ISIS forces into the open or succumb to having its "state" cut in two. The consequences to ISIS cannot be underestimated and may be the "backdoor route" for Arab forces to slice ISIS while the Iraqi army regroups, if it can ever regroup.

Mr. President, ISIS's sinister social media is taking the place of Al Qaeda's Anwar al Awlaki - the evil inspiration of homeland terrorism. Your resilient dedication to effective counter-terrorism initiatives can lend new impetus to a better anti-ISIS strategy. ISIS is a dogged dilemma placed on your doorstep. We can do better for us and for our allies. Just some ideas from a concerned citizen.

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Categories: News Monitor

Hawaii Governor Announces Support For Controversial Telescope

10 hours 25 min ago
Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced his support for building the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea on Tuesday, saying the project has the right to proceed.

“I do not doubt that they did more than any previous telescope project to be a good neighbor,” he said during a press conference at the Capitol.

Protests against the planned observatory on Mauna Kea, which is considered a sacred mountain by many Native Hawaiians, forced construction to come to a standstill last month after dozens of people were arrested blocking construction vehicles.

While he said the TMT has the right to proceed, Ige announced that he is asking the University of Hawaii to legally promise that this is the last area on Mauna Kea where a telescope could be built, as well as decommission at least one-fourth of the telescopes on the mountain by the time the TMT is built.

He will create a new Mauna Kea Cultural Council to advise the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and review all leases and lease renewals. He said support for the TMT will not be a prerequisite for serving on the council.

Ige also wants UH to return over 10,000 acres to the DLNR that aren’t being used for the observatories, and to substantially reduce its lease extension request.

“The University of Hawaii must do a better job in its stewardship of the mountain,” he said, adding that the state has in many ways failed Mauna Kea.

He said the university must be forthright in accepting the need to do a better job, as well as re-starting the environmental impact assessment for its application for a lease extension, including a full cultural impact analysis.

The governor said that the pursuit of science on the mountain has gotten in the way of the cultural experience, and the state must restore the balance.

“From my own personal experience on the mountain, with all the noise and crowding, I could not feel the same feeling that I felt on the summit 20 years ago,” Ige said of his recent visit to Mauna Kea.

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Skyping With The Enemy: I Went Undercover As A Jihadi Girlfriend

11 hours 22 min ago
When a French journalist posed online as a young woman interested in Isis, she was soon contacted by a fighter in Syria. He proposed marriage – but could she maintain a double life?

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Galapagos' Highest Volcano Erupts For First Time In More Than 30 Years

11 hours 23 min ago
The highest volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted early Monday for the first time in nearly 33 years, the archipelago's national park service reported.

Isabela Island's Wolf Volcano sent smoke more than six miles high and glowed orange with lava as it overflowed at 1:30 a.m., CNN reported.

The 5,800-foot volcano poses no threat to people, as it is 70 miles from the nearest human population in Puerto Villamil, the Galapagos National Park Service said in a press release translated by the Galapagos Conservancy.

The park service said there is no threat to the many unique species on the islands, where naturalist Charles Darwin first conceived of evolution in the 19th century.

"The world’s only population of pink land iguanas lives on the northwestern side of the volcano, sharing the habitat with yellow land iguanas and giant tortoises," the park service said. "This population is not expected to be affected at this time. The situation will be monitored in the area once the eruptive activity has subsided and is safe for Park rangers."

The most pressing threats to the Galapagos Islands' ecosystem are not natural phenomena like volcanoes, experts say.

"There are far more human-induced threats to the species of the Galapagos," Hugo Arnal, the World Wildlife Fund's director for Ecuador, told ABC News. Those concerns, the network reported, include "invasive species, overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and unsustainable tourism."

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Newport Folk Festival Celebrates 50 Years Since Bob Dylan Went Electric

11 hours 52 min ago
NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — This year's Newport Folk Festival plans to pay tribute to the moment when Bob Dylan made rock history by going electric 50 years ago.

The festival, noted for introducing performers who later became big stars, will have a secret lineup of musicians billed as '65 Revisited. Festival producer Jay Sweet said on Tuesday that nearly a dozen contemporary musicians are included in an "all-star lineup," but the audience won't know who they are until they take the stage to close the festival with a "massive" set celebrating Dylan's 1965 performance.

Dylan first appeared at Newport as a guest of Joan Baez in 1963. His three-song electric set two years later — including "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Maggie's Farm" — is widely viewed as one of the most pivotal moments in rock 'n' roll history. It marked Dylan's break with the folk movement and spurred others to go electric as well.

The Fender Stratocaster guitar Dylan played in the performance sold at auction in 2013 for nearly $1 million, the highest price paid for a guitar at auction.

Dylan is not playing at this year's festival, although Sweet said he's invited to play every year. If there's any year Dylan wouldn't come, it's Sweet's guess it would probably be this one.

"Having him back would be the least Newport way to celebrate it," he said.

Dylan last played Newport in 2002.

"Trying to recreate that moment is a fool's errand," Sweet said. "We're about the future, not about reliving the past."

But Sweet said without that moment, when Dylan struck out a new path for music, the Newport Folk Festival probably would not be celebrating its 56th anniversary this year.

"Every once in a while, you have to acknowledge, that allowed us to be here," he said.

The festival runs July 24-26. Tickets are sold out for the last two days, but a few are available for the first day. Other headliners include Roger Waters and The Decemberists.

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The Greek Crisis Needs Mediation Now, Not More Confrontation

11 hours 57 min ago
The latest meeting earlier in May of the eurozone's finance ministers in Brussels, anticipated by an increasingly frustrated audience worldwide, routinely marked five years of interminable talks getting nowhere since Friday 13, April 2010.

Reflected, too, in the fruitless discussions the Greek Prime Minister had with Angela Merkel and François Hollande last week in Riga, Latvia. All three officials in the end merely waving "Good Night" when anxiously asked to comment on what progress was made during their two-hour talks. A classic disappointment all around. From the moment the EU began implementing an unorthodox strict-austerity adjustment program for Greece after "securing" a total financial aid package of €240b from the IMF, the European Commission and the ECB.

Both sides have since displayed a remarkable lack of professionalism: ignoring internationally protected human rights standards first; and, second, turning also a blind eye to the grave financial and economic damage their poorly researched program, enforced by Greece's creditors, was bound to entail. Not to mention the inevitable opportunity costs created in the process.

As it happens, the enjoyment of fundamental human rights -- and more particularly the economic, social and cultural rights of the Greek people -- has been undermined as a result by violating existing obligations protected primarily by the Constitution of Greece, Article 2(1) postulating that "respect and protection of the value of the human being constitutes the primary obligation of the state."

Also abusing, however, standards set out in core international human rights treaties. Including the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that characteristically binds international financial institutions with a mandatory obligation. Namely, to ensure that their policies and activities respect established human rights standards by not adopting or promoting policies, or engage in practices, that put at risk the enjoyment of human rights. Nothing could have been clearer for the trio of lenders here to understand -- from day one.

Nonetheless, Europe's "blind austerity" program went ahead defiantly adopting successive deep spending cuts, drastically eliminating jobs in the public sector, coupled with consecutively compulsive increases in direct and indirect taxation -- prematurely emphasizing structural changes such as privatizations and labor market reforms with arbitrary cuts across the board of salaries and pensions. This bouquet of heavy even aggressive compulsion has directly contributed to a steadily collapsing aggregate effective demand in the Greek economy -- a growing insufficiency of which has been for years pushing the country deeper into merciless recession asymptotically converging at present to a 50% drop of GNP.

This anomaly is currently reflected in exponential rises in unemployment in Greece, especially of younger persons, along with steadily rising homelessness and spreading poverty now threatening a humanitarian crisis already compromising the social cohesion of a member-state of the European Union. So, one wonders, How is it possible that contemporary Europe should also remain indifferent even at the point where some 7,000 ordinary tax-paying citizens in the country, since that fateful day in April 2010, are known to have committed suicide in utter desperation?

The suggestion, recently put forward by Paul Krugman in the International New York Times, that "we live in an age of unacknowledged errors," seems instructive here. Considering that a likely profitable alternative policy, ceremoniously announced by the European Commission, back in 2011, was in the end quietly cast aside in favor of the controversial "bailout" adjustment program in question. Far more reasonable, the idea originally was to launch in lieu a series of mainly labor-intensive "pilot projects." Jointly promoted with the Greek government, but also designed to attract worldwide interest to invest in the infra-structure of the country. Correctly aiming to revive confidence, step by step, and gradually normalizing the financial and economic landscape in Greece: indeed a relatively small country easier to put back on track.

Driven, however, by the demonstrably poor direction subsequently chosen instead, the Eurogroup finance ministers, typically destitute of vision again in Brussels this month, were still pushing headlong for more structural reforms in Greece. With a view to modernizing public administration, liberalizing trade, "opening-up" regulated professions, further ensuring greater labor market flexibility, and so on. All these, needless to add, being desirable initiatives no doubt. But which, of course, would make sense only in different circumstances: more responsibly aiming to help Greece emerge faster from the crisis.

What should have already happened, first and foremost, precisely in order for the country to become capable to forge ahead with these and more reforms, was the scaling-down in real terms (though also as a moral imperative) of the country's bulging nearly unserviceable debt today. Adjusted downwards to reflect the massive damage incurred in financial, economic and human terms from the very day the so-called adjustment program for Greece emerged in April 2010.

Such a key rectification would naturally have established the remaining sovereign debt of Greece as €150b. A pivotal contribution, indeed, bound to create unparalleled enthusiasm in Greece for widespread reform. In remarkable contrast to today's obsessive stalemate with only bits and pieces of occasional progress made here and there. This figure is consistent with privately conducted professional estimates so far -- as, for example, from the Julius Bar and Mitsubishi banks -- in Europe and elsewhere. Significantly down, too, from the €350b level inaccurately presumed to be the case today.

And so, why not consider bringing this whole festering situation before a specially-convened European conference or synod to settle by arbitration this destabilizing issue? The United States is eminently poised today to offer its services and goodwill for mediation -- highly appropriate at this stage -- following the US Treasury Department's intensified and widely acknowledged efforts in recent months to dampen hostility and unnecessary confrontation between the two sides. Greece needs an honest break to get ahead: by completing ex post all known far-reaching structural reforms required to help transform its economy -- languishing in disarray for too long -- into an engine of progress. Securing in the end sustained economic growth serving best the rightful interests of the Greek people.

A just and realistic settlement will also help restore the reputation of Greece's creditors.

Nicos E. Devletoglou, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Athens, is author of the books Academia in Anarchy: An Economic Diagnosis (Basic Books) written jointly with Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics James Buchanan; and Consumer Behaviour: An Experiment in Analytical Economics (Harper and Row).

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Beloved Documentary Photographer Mary Ellen Mark Dies At 75

11 hours 57 min ago
NEW YORK (AP) — Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, called "a snake charmer of the soul" for her gift of capturing searing images of human vulnerability, has died at age 75.

She died Monday at a New York hospital after a long battle with a blood illness caused by bone marrow failure, her close friend Kelly Cutrone said. Mark's subjects ranged from runaway children and heroin addicts to celebrities and world leaders. She also pointed her lens at members of the Ku Klux Klan, a women's security ward in a mental institution and various celebrities.

Over the decades, "what resulted was, in fact, a lamentation: one of the most delicately shaded studies of vulnerability ever set on film," wrote the late Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes.

A collection of Mark photographs in a book titled "Streetwise" documents the life of Tiny Blackwell, a Seattle prostitute and drug addict Mark met in the 1980s when Tiny was 13. A new book on Blackwell photographed over decades is yet to be published, titled "Tiny: Streetwise Revisited."

The photographer chose Seattle "because it is known as 'America's most livable city,'" she wrote in the preface to her book on the subject. "By choosing America's ideal city we were making the point: 'If street kids exist in a city like Seattle then they can be found everywhere in America, and we are therefore facing a major social problem of runaways in this country.'"

Mark's work appeared in prominent publications including Life, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. She also published 18 books.

Her latest project, for CNN, was New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Mark was born and raised in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. In 1962, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of fine arts in art history and painting, followed by a master's in photojournalism.

Her work drew attention in the 1960s, when she photographed heroin addicts in London, steeping herself in the humanity of overlooked subjects.

"She was a snake charmer of the soul," said Cutrone, an author and publicist who considered Mark "like my divine mother and mentor." ''She had the ability and intuition to see inside people, to evoke their soul."

Mark, in her SoHo neighborhood, knew people in the street and in shops, Cutrone said.

"She talked to everybody," she said. "She was really connected."

Mark, a photographer's photographer, never really switched to digital cameras.

"I'm staying with film, and with silver prints, and no Photoshop," she told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2008. "That's the way I learned photography: You make your picture in the camera. Now, so much is made in the computer. ... I'm not anti-digital, I just think, for me, film works better."

Mark is survived by her husband, filmmaker Martin Bell, who directed the documentary "Streetwise" based on her images.

A New York memorial is planned for Sept. 10.

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Promoting WASH Through Traditional Leaders and Technology

11 hours 58 min ago

You always bring a gift when meeting with the traditional leaders or "chiefs" in Zambia. Typically the chiefs request foodstuffs for their people, things like cooking oil or maize. Occasionally a chief may request something different, such as a blanket. Chiefs in rural Zambia distribute these items among the poorer families in their tribes. There is a deep sense of responsibility among the chiefs for their people, and a strong sense of pride that chiefs feel as the quality of life of their people improves.



When we first started working in the WASH sector in Zambia, we were using mobile phones and cloud-based data aggregation to engage government workers. We worked through community volunteers and district environmental health technicians. Toilets were built and hand-washing stations were added as the technology empowered government employees to better understand and respond to the sanitation needs of the people under their responsibility. Little did we know, we had only scratched the surface.





"Why don't we work with traditional leaders in this program?" We don't remember who on the team asked the question, but it was likely a single voice for an idea that had been growing among the collective group. Rural Zambia is a very hierarchical society, and status matters. To operate in rural Zambia, health programs must get the blessing of the chiefs to operate in communities. We needed to understand how best to engage chiefs in order to achieve better outcomes in sanitation: more toilets being constructed and used in village settings.



Our first chiefdom orientation was with Chief Mumbwa, a man who had been driving a sanitation agenda among his constituents for years and was known for traveling house-to-house asking to inspect latrines. Chief Mumbwa lives humbly, as do most traditional leaders in Zambia, in a grass and mud hut with a thatched roof without power, but his presence commands attention and respect of the greatest world leaders. In our first chiefdom orientation we brought headmen from each village in the Mumbwa Chiefdom together and shared real-time sanitation data on their villages. They learned how many households each village had, how many of those households had latrines, and how many of those latrines were considered adequate (having a smooth cleanable floor, a lid to cover the hole to prevent flies from getting in and out, and a hand-washing station with soap or ash). The headmen looked at the data, looked each other in the eye, and talked with Chief Mumbwa. Empowered with knowledge of their own villages and those of their peers, a competition to become "open defecation free" was hatched. The village headmen wanted to be the first in Mumbwa Chiefdom to have open defecation free villages. And the chief made it clear that the village headmen would be held accountable if the chiefdom was not open defecation free within the next few months. The social pressure and level of engagement was remarkable.







The more chiefdom orientations we completed, the more a theme emerged: Chiefs wanted their chiefdoms to be open defecation free, and the data we were providing them was the empowering catalyst they needed to take action. We continued to work with the Government of the Republic of Zambia to put data at the fingertips of the chiefs using automated data feedback to a tablet computer. Now, chiefs throughout rural Zambia can push a button on a tablet and see how well their chiefdom is doing in WASH compared to the previous few months, and also compared to other chiefdoms in the area. Engaging chiefs in WASH activities was facilitated by the use of modern communications and revitalized our WASH efforts. Celebrating with the chiefs when their chiefdoms became open defecation free was just one of the perks of getting them engaged.



The success has been huge, both for people in rural villages and also in geographic scope. A few weeks ago, we celebrated open defecation free status for Chiengi District, one of the most remote districts in Zambia, tucked up along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chiengi District is the first district in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve such a status. And more districts throughout Zambia are following suit, ready to join Chiengi soon in being open defecation free.



Learn more about Akros at www.akros.com or follow them on Facebook.

This blog post is part of the "WASH and the MDGs: The Ripple Effect" blog series, in partnership with WASH Advocates, addressing the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to global development. To see all the other posts in the series, click here. To learn more about WASH, visit the WASH Advocates website, and for more information about the Millennium Development Goals, click here.

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Carly Fiorina Calls The Chinese Unimaginative Idea Thieves

12 hours 26 min ago
GOP presidential contender Carly Fiorina tells a reporter in a video that surfaced Tuesday that Americans shouldn't fear competition with China because its people lack creativity.

Fiorina, while speaking out against Common Core education standards with the Iowa politics blogger Caffeinated Thoughts in January, said the policy isn't the answer to concerns that American students are lagging behind China's.

“I’ve been doing business in China for decades, and I will tell you that yeah, the Chinese can take a test, but what they can’t do is innovate,” said Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO. “They’re not terribly imaginative. They’re not entrepreneurial. They don’t innovate. That’s why they’re stealing our intellectual property.”

The video was mostly unnoticed until Tuesday, when Buzzfeed shared it, along with an excerpt from Fiorina's 2015 book, Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey, in which she makes similar comments about the Chinese.

Proponents of Common Core argue that we must compete with the Chinese in subjects like math and science. I agree that we must compete, but we will not win by becoming more centralized and standardized in our education methods. Although the Chinese are a gifted people, innovation and entrepreneurship are not their strong suits. Their society, as well as their educational system, is too homogenized and controlled to encourage imagination and risk taking. Americans excel at such things , and we must continue to encourage them. A centralized bureaucracy in Washington shouldn’t be telling teachers how to teach or students how to learn. Our states have been described as “laboratories of democracy.” They are also laboratories of innovation.

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Mother Of Daughter Killed By Army Father Will Get $2 Million

12 hours 28 min ago
HONOLULU (AP) -- The U.S. government will pay an Atlanta woman $2 million for the Hawaii beating death of her 5-year-old daughter at the hands of a former soldier.

The settlement amount was announced Tuesday at a brief hearing in federal court in Honolulu.

Tarshia Williams filed the lawsuit against the government over the 2005 death of her daughter, Talia. The lawsuit, filed in Honolulu in 2008, claimed the military didn't report to the proper authorities that Talia's father and stepmother "abused and tortured" her throughout the seven months she lived in Army housing in Hawaii.

"I will never have complete closure because my daughter is gone," she said by phone after the hearing. "And all the abuse she went through, I will never get over that. My healing will never be complete."

In what was the first death penalty case to go to trial in the history of Hawaii's statehood, Naeem Williams was convicted of murder in his daughter's death and sentenced to life in prison without possibility for parole.

Talia's stepmother, Delilah Williams, testified against her husband as part of a deal with prosecutors for a 20-year sentence. She provided disturbing details of abuse that included withholding food for days at a time, keeping her out of school to hide from others the physical signs of beatings and whipping the child while she was duct-taped to a bed.

Talia died July 16, 2005, after prosecutors say her father dealt a blow so hard it left knuckle imprints on her chest.

The settlement brings some relief because it ends years of litigation and prevents Tarshia Williams from having to return to Hawaii for a nonjury trial that was scheduled for June, she said.

"I just been through it last year," she said of testifying at the murder trial and sitting through graphic accounts of what Talia suffered. "I don't have to go through all the things that happened to her all over again. It will always be in my mind. It will never go away."

At Naeem Williams' trial, she testified that the last time she saw Talia was when the child left South Carolina to live with her father in Hawaii. She said the last time she spoke to Talia was by telephone on July 2, 2005.

The settlement has been approved by the Justice Department and will be paid in about six to eight weeks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Helper said in court. He declined to comment after the hearing.

Tarshia Williams and her Honolulu attorneys want to work on federal legislation that that would require the military to directly report child abuse to state child protective services, said one of her attorneys, Mark Davis.

"We hope that what may come out of this case are some fundamental, systemic changes," Davis said. "There were so many opportunities that were missed to try to remove this child from this toxic environment."

A judge's 2010 ruling noted some of those missed opportunities, including one on June 29, 2005. "The military police responded to the Williams' home, but despite finding Talia, `naked and mute, in a room standing near feces on the floor' and thinking `something did not look right,' no reports were ever made to CPS," said the order by U.S. District Judge Alan Kay in allowing the lawsuit to move forward.

"She would be about 15 now," Tarshia Williams said. "She would be in high school."

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Obama Tweets Back To Girl's Awesome Letter About World Peace, Marriage Equality

12 hours 47 min ago
A 5-year-old has some suggestions for how to solve a couple of global issues, and the leader of the free world has responded.

Last week, Yasmeen, self described as “5 almost 6 years old,” took to writing a handwritten letter to President Obama advocating for world peace and marriage equality.

@POTUS A letter from my 5 year old niece. Right out of the mouths of babes! pic.twitter.com/Q8Sovz8eEL

— Dr Z (@DrFahmida) May 22, 2015


Please stop war for our world, instead have a meeting. Please give a speech to tell everyone they can marry who they want. Thank you," her message read.

On Friday, Yasmeen’s aunt tweeted a photo of the note to the POTUS Twitter handle, and that same day, the President replied.

“Tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn't agree more!” his tweet read.

.@DrFahmida tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn't agree more!

— President Obama (@POTUS) May 22, 2015


After launching his first Twitter account six years into his presidency, President Obama broke the Guinness world record on May 18 for the “fasted time to reach 1 million followers on Twitter.” As of Tuesday, he has racked up 2.44 million followers. However, he has just seven published tweets -- among them, his encouraging reply to Yasmeen.

This just goes to show, “please” and “thank you” still go a very long way.

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Will This Pakistani Businessman's 140-Foot Cross Bring Hope To The Country's Christians?

12 hours 49 min ago
A Pakistani businessman has big dreams for the 140-foot cross he’s building at the entrance of Karachi's largest Christian cemetery.

Parvez Henry Gill, 58, says the bulletproof concrete structure will be the tallest cross in Asia and a “sign" that God is everywhere.

His message is aimed at Pakistani Christians, who make up about 1.5 percent of the Muslim-majority country, although this figure could be higher. Gill's city, Karachi, is home to Pakistan's largest Christian population.

"God will protect you. Stay in your country. Don't be afraid," the businessman said, according to CBS.

Pakistan stands out as one of the countries in the world with the highest levels of religious restrictions -- imposed by both the government and by groups like the Taliban. The country's strict blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.

But interfaith activism has been growing in Pakistan, with Muslims joining in on human peace rings to protect churches.

Churches have been part of Pakistan's religious landscape for decades. In fact, Karachi's Governor's House is located just minutes away from Christian schools and cathedrals, according to Akbar Ahmed, a former ambassador from Pakistan to the U.K. and Ireland and the chair of Islamic studies at American University.

Ahmed said the majority of Pakistanis will see Gill's cross as reaffirming the inclusive nature of Pakistan. But some may see it as a provocation.

"They will say this a challenge to Islam and that it can only be met by destruction," Ahmed told HuffPost. "It's a smaller group, but it's the smaller groups that can inflict a lot of damage."

Christians and other religious minorities have been the victims of suicide bombings and mob attacks in recent years. In March, two bombs exploded near Pakistani churches in Lahore, leaving at least 14 dead and injuring many others.

As a result of the violence, many Christians have been fleeing Pakistan.


A Christian businessman is building a 140-foot cross in the middle of Karachi, home to Pakistan's largest Christian community. The cross is meant to make Pakistan's oppressed Christian minority hopeful about the future.

Gill says he hears about Christians moving away from their homes in Pakistan “every few weeks.”

He claims God spoke to him in a dream about four years ago and instructed him to do something to protect Pakistan's Christians.

Some Christians in the area are worried that the cross will become a security threat for a community that already feels as if it is under siege.

"This is a source of inspiration, no doubt. But the security threat which comes with it cannot be ignored," Nadia Gill, a Christian school teacher who isn’t related to Parvez Henry Gill, told CBS. "We are a community under threat. If God spoke to Mr. Gill, then maybe this cross will survive. But I still have my fears."

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Why Is The U.S. Desperate To OK Slavery In Malaysia?

13 hours 3 min ago
WASHINGTON -- On Friday night, in an impressive display of dysfunction, the U.S. Senate approved a controversial trade bill with a provision that the White House, Senate leadership and the author of the language himself wanted taken out.

The provision, which bars countries that engage in slavery from being part of major trade deals with the U.S., was written by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). At the insistence of the White House, Menendez agreed to modify his language to say that as long as a country is taking "concrete" steps toward reducing human trafficking and forced labor, it can be part of a trade deal. Under the original language, the country that would be excluded from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership pact is Malaysia.

But because the Senate is the Senate, it was unable to swap out the original language for the modification. (The chamber needed unanimous consent to make the legislative move, and an unknown senator or senators objected.) So the trade promotion authority bill that passed Friday includes the strong anti-slavery language, which the House will now work to take out to ensure that Malaysia (and, potentially, other countries in the future) can be part of the deal.

Observers are left with a deeper question: Why, in the year 2015, is the White House teaming up with Republican leaders essentially to defend the practice of slavery?

Understanding this is key to understanding why President Barack Obama has been pushing so aggressively for a trade deal that so many of his allies insist will harm American workers. It's about global power, geopolitics and pushing back against the rise of China. And that starts with Malaysia.

Unfortunately for Obama, Malaysia is a hub of human trafficking comparable, according to the State Department, to North Korea and Saudi Arabia. It falls in Tier 3, the lowest ranking a country can have in the State Department's annual human trafficking report, which gauges a country's actions against modern-day slavery.

But Malaysia also borders what is effectively China's jugular vein: the Strait of Malacca.

A century ago, U.S. foreign policy focused on the brand-new country of Panama. Wars were started, coups were plotted, deals were struck, all toward the end of controlling access to its just-completed canal. Today the Panama Canal is still a global trade "chokepoint" that shipping must pass through. Another chokepoint, equally if not more important, is the Strait of Malacca, which lies between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.



Unlike Senate Democrats and labor leaders, many experts on U.S.-China relations consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership essential. They argue that the deal, which the Obama administration is forging with 11 other Pacific nations, will show that Washington is not going to allow an expansionist Beijing to dominate the region with tactics ranging from bullying smaller nations to building island fortresses in disputed waters. A March 2015 report from the Council on Foreign Relations lists granting Obama trade promotion authority -- which will grease the skids for the TPP to pass Congress -- as the top way in which the legislators can ensure a smart U.S. response to China's rise.

Malaysia, and the Strait of Malacca, is the lynchpin of that kind of thinking.

That thin waterway links the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Through it last year passed 85 percent of China's imported oil, according to the latest U.S. Department of Defense estimates. Imports provide 60 percent of the oil that China's growing economy needs. (Note that the Defense Department is keeping this information.)

The U.S. Navy currently dominates this vital strait courtesy of warships that are based in Singapore (at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula) and tacitly welcomed by Malaysia. Both of those nations are perturbed and directly threatened by China's muscular actions in their neighborhood. In a sign of its concern, Malaysia has even offered to expand the American military footprint in the region by hosting U.S. Navy aircraft.

For the Malaysians, the worry is not simply the Strait of Malacca. It is the idea that China may become a hegemon in the South China Sea. Beijing's expansion there has directly infringed on waters claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan.

That region is already vital for global trade -- 60 percent of international commerce travels through it -- and potentially the future of energy because of its oil and gas deposits. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2010 that the U.S. had a national interest in maintaining free passage through the South China Sea. CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto revealed Tuesday that the U.S. may soon send aircraft and warships even closer to the contested islands being fortified by China.

By reaffirming ties to Malaysia through the TPP, the U.S. would secure its ability to pressure China -- and punish it for disruptive behavior in the South China Sea and elsewhere-- courtesy of the Strait of Malacca.

China has tried to diversify its supply of energy, through measures like building overland oil pipelines, including a pipeline to a Burmese port that lets ships bringing oil to China bypass the Strait of Malacca. But the just-released Pentagon report concludes that the strait and other sea lines will only become more important as China's energy demand grows.

All of this makes a TPP without Malaysia a TPP that is far less strategically valuable to the U.S. -- and that sends a much weaker signal to China.

Yet congressional opponents are sticking to their guns as they argue that Malaysia should not be included in the deal at all. While the modified language in the trade bill would require Malaysia (and other potential trade partners) to set forth plans to combat human trafficking, Democrats insist that isn’t enough. They argue that the U.S. has other leverage it should use: Malaysia would prefer to partner with the U.S., as China is more likely to make significant demands when it comes to control of the smaller nation, whereas the U.S. is largely content with control of shipping. That gives Malaysia an incentive to improve its record on human trafficking to become part of the TPP, rather than be pushed into China's arms.

“If nothing changes, Malaysia should not be in this agreement," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told The Huffington Post after the Senate passed the trade promotion bill on Friday night.

Brown added that “no country should get in with that designation,” referring to Malaysia's Tier 3 ranking. He said he plans to try to build momentum in the House against granting the president trade promotion authority and is hopeful that Republicans will be unable to tweak the anti-slavery language in the Senate bill.

If the House isn't able to modify the anti-slavery language and thereby secure the U.S.'s chance to sign a deal with Malaysia, Brown's goals could be accomplished -- and Obama's vision of a strong TPP and U.S. authority across the Pacific could be shattered.

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Why I'll Never Feel Ashamed to Be Indian-American

13 hours 14 min ago
"Think of the starving children in India before you waste the food on your plate," my friends' mothers would say to them. This was in the 1960s in New York City, where I lived as a child. It was really hurtful and made me feel inferior. So did the taunts by the bullies about my being a "Hindoo" and "cow worshiper." The only people who were treated worse than brown-skinned people were African Americans, who were called "Negros."

The United States has changed a lot over the decades. And as I got older, I outgrew this inferiority complex. But I had to work harder than others and think smarter. I had to focus on my strengths and advantages -- which included the depth of my culture, strong family values, and understanding of the world. I knew I would not get the same opportunities as my friends did, so I had to be better.

The taunts and negative attitudes made me stronger. They helped me develop a deeper sense of identity with India, the place of my birth. They brought me closer to my heritage and caused me to take pride in my roots. Most Indians who live abroad are also proud of their heritage; like me, they listen to Indian music, watch Bollywood films, savor Indian food, and maintain strong connections with family and friends back home.

That's why I was surprised to learn that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in Shanghai and Seoul that Indian expatriates are ashamed to have been born in India. This doesn't reflect the reality.

Modi is usually much more thoughtful and balanced, and I am sure that he knows better. Indeed, many of us of Indian origin see a lot of hope with him as the prime minister of India. After decades of incompetent government, endemic corruption, and being held back by the shackles of socialism and communism, India finally has a chance to reinvent itself. The hope is that he will lead this transformation -- without dividing India further along ethnic and religious lines.

What Indians -- everywhere -- have been ashamed of is India's inept government. Its leaders have focused on enriching themselves at the cost of bettering the country. They ruled in the same way as the British did: by dividing and conquering based on region and religion.

I know there are people who will disagree with me. Some Indian Americans go to extremes to disassociate themselves from their heritage, just as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal does. Others still feel a sense of inferiority and focus on the negatives. So I don't speak for everyone.

I do know that the groups of Indians whom I socialize with and meet during my travels generally share my perspectives. They are usually loyal to the country to which they migrated but maintain their cultural identity. They benefit, even in their adopted homes, from the depth of Indian culture. They teach their heritage and values to their children.

In many ways it is the second generation of Indian Americans who have the best of both worlds. In the United States we see them flourishing in almost every field, from the executive ranks of leading companies to the pinnacles of academia. You will find Indians in investment banks, at the helm of one in six Silicon Valley start-ups, in top positions in journalism, and in the most senior posts at the White House. We see young Indian-American faces everywhere, and they too carry with them the cultural values from India that they have assimilated and imbibed. You will often find them going back to India for vacation or to volunteer, in an effort to connect with their roots.

An example is my son, Tarun Wadhwa, an entrepreneur working in the area of clean-water technology. As a second-generation immigrant, he connects deeply with his Indian roots. Despite having achieved success as a writer and researcher and founding a cybersecurity-technology company in Silicon Valley, he gave up all these pursuits to work toward bringing a plasma-based water-sanitization technology that was developed in Chile to India. He believed he could better the lives of hundreds of millions of people by providing them with inexpensive clean water. Growing up, he saw the toll that drinking contaminated water takes on the poor in India. He worked hard to convince industrialists such as India's Ratan Tata, the United States' Richard Merkin, and Mexico's Ricardo Salinas to believe in his vision and invest in the Chilean company, AIC, so that it could get its technology into production.

As parents, my wife and I are glad that our children are giving back to India and taking our ties forward. But what we are most grateful for is that the United States allows immigrants like us to be loyal Americans yet take great pride in who we are.

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A New State of Mind in California

13 hours 21 min ago
California's state of mind, as much as its magnificent landscape, has always loomed large in the global imagination. And just when many were beginning to believe that the future of the Golden State had passed it by, California is breaking new ground again on many fronts.

California has long moved on from its clichés. We've gone from the hula hoop to the Hyperloop; from Midwestern migrants looking for opportunity in the sun to Latinos reaching for the middle class; from the military-industrial complex to the planet's digital network platform. Gov. Jerry Brown, once maligned as Governor Moonbeam, is arguably the most grounded politician in America today, responsibly rising to meet the challenge of expectations diminished by natural and fiscal constraints.

It is not so much each of these shifts on its own, but in their conjunction, that California is leading the way once again. These conjoined developments will redefine the California Dream and, in turn, widely impact how others approach their future.

Here are the three areas of transformation that matter most:

Climate change and governance.

Brown, an early apostle of ecology whose past administrations have done much to clean up air pollution as well as boost fuel efficiency and energy-saving appliance standards, has his feet firmly planted in the state's parched earth. Peering down the road with alarm, he sees "the shadow our future throws," as his friend and mentor Ivan Illich once put it. Brown simply says of drought and climate change that "we have to see it as it is" and adapt accordingly.

The fullness of time and the scarcity of water have matured Brown and his famous "era of limits" philosophy from the 1970s. By imposing mandatory limits on water use and announcing the most aggressive effort to cut carbon gas emissions in the country, Brown has busted the bubble of collective denial of everyone with a yard, a walnut orchard or an SUV who assumed boundless resources and the limitless capacity of nature to absorb the exhaust of industrialized desire.

Desiccated reservoirs, frequent and fierce wildfires, defrosted mountain peaks and brown lawns are lodged now in our awareness, a jarring contrast to that iconic image of suburban sprawl with swimming pools Ronald Reagan once so proudly showed Mikhail Gorbachev on a visit to California.

What is encouraging is that this shift in awareness was brought about by intelligent governance. Brown, the enfant terrible of the 1970s, has turned out to be the grown up in the room. Pronouncing that "fiscal responsibility is the predicate of democracy, not its enemy" he quickly balanced the budget, first through painful cuts and then a temporary tax increase. He further persuaded the public to approve the paradoxically named "Rainy Day Fund" as a reserve for fiscal emergencies. The governor's hallmark disposition of frugality as the wise use of fiscal and natural resources is -- for now -- stamped on Sacramento.

By imposing restraint on water use, greenhouse gas emissions and the budget, Brown has done the hardest -- but most essential -- thing in democratic political life: He has looked beyond the short-term horizon of immediate constituency pressures and the next election cycle to make tough decisions for the long-term good of the state.

"Rising to meet diminished expectations checked by natural and fiscal constraints is the mark of responsible leadership."



What makes Brown stand out is that he has simply done what is necessary -- a rare feat in the dysfunctional politics of today's democracies where pandering to organized interests and kicking the can down the road is the norm. His tenure stewardship will be the benchmark for future leadership.

A technological renaissance.

In California, limits don't stifle innovation but stimulate it. And California's hi-tech community is the ready and able incubator and midwife to take up the challenge.

In the same way Brown has taken on climate change through political regulation, Elon Musk has taken it on with technological innovation. His electric Tesla and ever-more durable batteries for storing energy chart the path toward the renewable energy infrastructure of the future.

We all know about how Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have transformed the way we communicate with each other. But what is most promising is the convergence of exponential technologies from artificial intelligence, 3-D manufacturing, infinite networks, the "Internet of things," regenerative medicine and biogenetics being born and developed in California today.

In Silicon Valley, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil have put it all together at their Singularity University. They grasp better than anyone how the convergence of this array of technologies can create entirely new possibilities of health, well-being and abundance.

Craig Venter, the pioneering cartographer of the human genome, is combining the computing power and falling costs of Big Data analysis with biology at his labs in La Jolla in order to read and write genetic code.

Fifteen years ago it cost $100 million to map a person's genome; now it costs $1,500. By learning to read and write genetic code, Venter and his colleagues will one day be able to correct defective genes that cause disease, rapidly decipher viruses, manufacture vaccines and turn carbon emissions into fuel.

"California has become like a gigantic Renaissance Florence for the knowledge and tech-driven economy shaping the whole world."



"Silicon Valley" is often used as the shorthand for labeling innovation in California. In truth, vibrant cross-pollination is happening across the state. California has become like a gigantic Renaissance Florence for the knowledge and tech-driven economy shaping the whole world.

Tax policy and new constituencies.

California will soon become the first minority majority state, with non-whites, mainly Latinos and Asians, outnumbering whites. In 2014, Latinos became the largest single ethnic group in the state, comprising 40 percent of the population.

This new demographic reality will redefine the California Dream no less than the scarcity of water, the lifestyle changes dictated by climate change and the benefits of tech revolution.

Above all, it will likely be felt in tax and spending policies. The Proposition 13 property tax revolt of 1978 still defines the fiscal framework of California. That revolt was sustained largely by an older, white middle class reasonably, at the time, seeking to protect their assets from a bloating state. The political constituency of California's future, however -- which is largely Latino, Asian and youthful -- is seeking to build their assets through upward mobility.

That changes the equation. For aspirational constituencies striving to reach the middle class the most important thing is an opportunity web and trampoline to boost their chances in life.

"For aspirational constituencies striving to reach the middle class the most important thing is an opportunity web and trampoline to boost their chances in life."



Even though California has one of the most progressive tax structures in the nation, inequality is rising and dashing aspirational hopes. Something more is needed as USC Professor Edward Kleinbard has articulated and former assembly speaker, now senator, Bob Hertzberg, has sponsored in legislation: namely, a new philosophy of governance that focuses on the overall progressive outcome that can be achieved through modernizing the tax code and investing in infrastructure and public higher education -- the key means of upward mobility. Such investments are inherently progressive in the distribution of their benefits and in the creation of new well-paying jobs.

Investment requires adequate resources. California's $2 trillion economy has shifted from being mainly agricultural and manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s, when the framework of today's tax system was set up, to one based on information and services, which now account for 80 percent of all economic activities in the state. Yet, the service economy in California is not taxed at all. If you buy a donut in a coffee shop, you pay a sales tax on goods. But if you buy a legal, financial or entertainment service you are not taxed.

To achieve a future for the new constituencies as promising as California's past. A tax system that responds to the aspirations of the new constituencies must sensibly be based on this real economy of the 21st century while ensuring that new revenue is invested in strengthening the ladder of mobility. That means, as Hertzberg has proposed based on the original recommendations of the Think Long Committee for California, rebalancing the fiscal formula by reducing income taxes across the board in a way that favors the middle class and small entrepreneurs while extending a sales tax on services.

In April, the state's Board of Equalization issued a report that concluded taxing California's service sector would generate as much as $122 billion in revenues, an amount greater than the entire general fund budget at present. After exempting sizable key areas such as education, health care and small businesses from any new tax (80 percent of California companies have less than 10 employees), Hertzberg expects to reap $10 billion annually in new revenues.

For the moment, the lobbyists of the status quo are lining up against Hertzberg's measure, Senate Bill 8, as would be expected. But sooner or later a policy that is wholly in the interests of the state's rising new constituencies will win out. Just as with water and climate change, the guardians of the past will have to face reality, "see it as it is" and adapt.

Together these transformations constitute a new state of mind fully capable of building a future for California as promising as its past.

This article also appears in the Sacramento Bee.

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Half Of Mozambique's Elephants Were Slaughtered By Poachers Over The Past 5 Years

13 hours 23 min ago
We've all heard the dire statistics about elephant poaching -- if current trends continue, there's a good chance we're looking at the end of an entire species. But apparently, poachers in Mozambique don't think that timeline is fast enough.

A startling new study shows 48 percent of elephants in the country -- some 9,700 animals -- have been slaughtered over the past five years.

"The numbers from Mozambique are depressing," James Deutsch, vice president of conservation strategy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The Huffington Post. "Many of us were shocked. We knew that poaching was continuing, but we didn’t know that it was so bad."

The recent data comes from the ongoing Great Elephant Census, an observation study meant to catalogue more than 90 percent of the world's pachyderms in 21 countries. The effort, which is funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's investment company, has already documented "unsustainable rates of killing" across swaths of the African continent.

Elephant ivory is still highly prized in some cultures, fetching upwards of $1,800 a pound, according to reports from The Guardian. Many wildlife experts have pointed to growing demand from a rising middle and upper class in China, who value the tusks as a status symbol. The country currently has a small legal ivory trade, but many conservationists say a majority of the wildlife product is imported illegally from poached animals.

“China is clearly driving the illegal ivory trade more than any other nation on earth,” an elephant expert told The New York Times in 2013.

The country banned all ivory imports for a year in February, but the news is still grim. Some scientists have warned that African elephants could go extinct by 2020 (yes, five years from now) if current trends continue.

Despite the sobering news out of Mozambique, Deutsch said the country has been receptive to the statistics and plans to take action. The country enacted a new law criminalizing wildlife poaching last year, and he said a newly elected government seems to sincerely care about stopping the poaching epidemic.

The government is up against heavily armed "organized gangs" that often venture into protected national parks from neighboring Tanzania. But Deutsch said the Wildlife Conservation Society is optimistic that on-the-ground relationships with local communities will be the "single most important" thing to help keep these animals safe.

"They really are treating this as a wake-up call," he said. "That's not to say it will be easy, but at least we have a unified team."

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What Has the U.S. Learned from Its Military History

13 hours 25 min ago
Ever since the American Revolutionary War, a startling statistic has emerged: the U.S. has not lost a single conventional war, but not won even a single guerrilla war. What can be learned from this experience?

Before arriving at the obvious answer, consider that the trillions of dollars that the U.S. spends on conventional weapons is largely neutralized in guerrilla wars by such cheap and homemade weapons as improvised explosive devices. Guerrilla opponents can employ, and have employed the most inhumane, barbarous tactics, which though very effective, especially in long and drawn out wars, cannot and should not be morally countered with similar tactics by any civilized country on earth.

Generals can be blamed for so often fighting the last war, as when in World War I they mindlessly ordered massive infantry and cavalry charges in the face of machine guns which mowed them down by the millions, or as the French generals did in the early phases of World War II when they relied on fixed defensive positions such as the Maginot Line, which German blitzkrieging tanks simply went around.

But politicians can and should be blamed for choosing the wrong kind of war for their generals to fight. In Gulf War I, the U.S. faced one of the largest conventional military forces in the world, but easily dispatched Saddam's forces in a manner of days with technologically advanced conventional weapons. Then having achieved its limited objective of expelling the invaders of Kuwait, American forces withdrew, victorious, intact and with only a relative handful of battlefield casualties. In Gulf War II, however, the U.S. insisted on staying and engaging in a protracted guerrilla war of the kind it has never won before, and probably never will. As in the closing days of the Vietnam War, Americans are treated to the horrifying spectacle of U.S. weapons being confiscated by victorious and ruthless guerrillas overrunning the hapless conventional indigenous forces that the U.S. purported to "train" in hopes of replacing withdrawing U.S. troops -- a delusive strategy which is working no better in Iraq today than President Richard Nixon's futile "Vietnamization" strategy.

No doubt, the politicians will yet again learn the wrong lessons from the previous war. After World War I, the "lesson" learned by British and American politicians was that those countries should never again be involved in a European war. This wrong lesson ultimately led to unpreparedness, Munich, and an ultimately unavoidable war against Fascism. After the Korean War, which preserved a democratic and prosperous South Korea, the politicians yet again learned the wrong lesson by failing to see the difference between conventional war in Korea and a guerrilla civil war in Vietnam -- another wrong lesson which yet again ultimately led to the disastrous defeat of the United States.

In the early 1960s when U.S. politicians, determined to contain communism, were faced with the choice of a five day conventional war against the imminent nuclear threat in Cuba, or a futile ten-year guerrilla war in Vietnam, they inevitably chose the latter based on the wrong lessons learned -- yet again, letting the enemy choose the battlefield.

Let us hope that history really doesn't repeat itself as we watch the spectacle now occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it probably already has.

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Categories: News Monitor

Six-Second Killer Tornado In Mexico Leaves Authorities Scrambling To Help

13 hours 33 min ago
Mexican federal and state officials visited Ciudad Acuña on Monday to help coordinate a response to a tornado that barreled through the border city, leaving at least 13 people dead and 200 injured.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto visited the 125,000-resident city, across the border from Texas, along with several cabinet ministers and Coahuila state Gov. Rubén Moreira Valdez. The Peña Nieto administration declared the city a disaster zone, allowing it to receive federal disaster funds.

Peña Nieto stopped several times to speak with people affected by the tornado, promising that he would return within the week to supervise reconstruction efforts.

The tornado, which lasted just six seconds, damaged more than 750 houses, flinging cars against many of them. A news release posted to the Coahuila state government’s website described the tornado as the most destructive Mexico has seen in a decade and said winds reached 137 mph.



People survey a destroyed car in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on May 25, 2015. A tornado ripped into a town in northern Mexico on Monday, killing at least 13 people and flattening hundreds of homes in a deadly six-second blast of carnage. (RAUL LLAMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

“There’s vehicles on top of houses, there’s people dead in the streets, it’s total chaos,” resident Rosario Ramírez told Mexican daily La Jornada.

Ciudad Acuña resident Natalia Saucedo told El Zócalo, a newspaper based in the state capital of Saltillo, that she was at home with her family when the walls of her house collapsed as the tornado swept through at just after 6 a.m.

"We were laying down when everything started moving and my husband was grabbing onto the door so that the wind didn't take him away," Saucedo said. "I was taking care of my kids as I watched the walls of the house fall. ... When everything was over, one of my children, who is 5 years old, was under a wall safe and sound, and with the help of the neighbors we pulled the other [child] out because a lot of debris had fallen on him."

Firefighters, Red Cross workers, state police and members of the military all participated in the response effort. Hospitals performed surgery on at least eight patients for injuries that included hip and leg fractures, according to the state government.

State authorities have set up three shelters for people who lost their homes, and are serving food to families at the municipal gymnasium.

Authorities discovered the body of an 8-month-old baby on Tuesday amid the ruins of destroyed houses. The mother had lost control over her child’s stroller as the tornado ravaged the city, according to The Associated Press. The announcement that the missing baby's body had been found caused confusion on Tuesday, with several outlets reporting the death toll had risen to 14. Local officials later said the child had already been included in death toll of 13.

Two other children, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, also died during the tornado.

Four members of the same family remain missing, though state authorities said they think the family may have traveled to another city before the tornado struck. Emergency responders continue to search damaged homes for other victims.



Damaged homes stand next to others that were razed when a powerful tornado touched down in Ciudad Acuna, northern Mexico, Monday, May 25, 2015. The tornado raged through the city on the U.S.-Mexico border Monday, destroying homes and flinging cars like matchsticks. At least 13 people were killed, authorities said. The twister hit a seven-block area, which Victor Zamora, interior secretary of the northern state of Coahuila, described as "devastated." (AP Photo)

In addition to the 13 deaths in Mexico, three people on the U.S. side of the border died during the tornado.

AP reported that the devastation has raised questions about why no early warning system has been put in place, though tornadoes are not common in Mexico. Ciudad Acuña Mayor Evaristo Lenin Pérez Rivera said the city did not receive any alert ahead of the disaster, beyond a warning for heavy rains in Coahuila state and the U.S. state of Texas, according to Mexican daily Excelsior.

Both Coahuila and the neighboring northern state of Nuevo León are experiencing heavy rain and flooding as part of the same weather system that has struck central Texas.

Heavy rains, flash floods and tornados battered Texas and Oklahoma over the weekend, leaving at least 11 people dead.

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Categories: News Monitor