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Paul makes big vow on black vote

Rand Paul is pictured. | Getty

Paul makes big vow on black vote

By MIKE ALLEN

Sen. Rand Paul tells POLITICO that the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 could capture one-third or more of the African-American vote by pushing criminal-justice reform, school choice and economic empowerment.

“If Republicans have a clue and do this and go out and ask every African-American for their vote, I think we can transform an election in one cycle,” the Kentucky Republican said in a phone interview Thursday as he was driven through New Hampshire in a rental car.

Paul — on the cover of the new issue of Time as “The Most Interesting Man in Politics” — met with black leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, last week; opened a “GOP engagement office” in an African-American area of Louisville in June; and spoke the next month to a National Urban League convention in Cincinnati.

“That doesn’t mean that we get to a majority of African-American votes in one cycle,” Paul continued, speaking between campaign stops in Plymouth and Salem. “But I think there is fully a third of the African-American vote that is open to much of the message, because much of what the Democrats has offered hasn’t worked.”

Exit polls showed the GOP’s share of the African-American vote in the past six presidential elections ranged from 4 percent for John McCain in 2008 to 12 percent for Bob Dole in 1996, according to the Roper Center. Mitt Romney got 6 percent in 2012.

When pressed on his ambitious goal, Paul upped the ante: “I don’t want to limit it to that. I don’t want to say there’s only a third open. … The reason I use the number ‘a third,’ is that when you do surveys of African-American voters, a third of them are conservative on a preponderance of the issues. So, there is upside potential.”

 
U.S. Air Force personnel put up a 25-bed hospital in Liberia.

In Liberia, U.S. Soldiers Race Ebola

Liberia was barely able to respond to the needs of its people before the outbreak of Ebola. Subsequently, the U.S. and other countries are essentially creating a health system from scratch on extreme deadlines.

American and Liberian soldiers hammer, saw and sweat in the afternoon sun here in a frenetic campaign to build the county’s first Ebola-treatment unit. Soon, the soldiers will have floodlights to work round-the-clock shifts.

The unfolding epidemic has killed more than 4,400 people, mostly in West Africa. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the Ebola-treatment centers are no exception. A month ago, President Barack Obama vowed to build 17 units. Soldiers have yet to complete one.

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Liberia’s health infrastructure was barely able to respond to the needs of its people before the outbreak. Ebola has since steamrolled it. As a result, the U.S. and other countries are essentially creating a health system from scratch on extreme deadlines.

The challenges are huge: Power outages and a lack of basic medical supplies are among them. Decrepit roads and heavy rains plague construction sites. Doctors and nurses were already in short supply because of years of low pay.

How fast the U.S. and international effort in West Africa comes together could determine whether the virus is largely contained in West Africa—or spreads more aggressively abroad. Cases have surfaced in the U.S., Spain and Germany. The World Health Organization said this week that there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of 2014. That followed its criticism that the international community was too slow to respond.

Now the U.S. and others fighting Ebola are bringing to West Africa the sophisticated facilities these countries have lacked.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research—a compound of World War II-era buildings and rusted cages that used to house chimpanzee test subjects. The bat-infested facility could only process 40 blood specimens a day and the electricity only worked intermittently.

 
Corporate Egg Freezing

What if electively freezing one’s eggs is not a means of empowerment but a surrender to corporate control?

Corporate Egg Freezing

By Rebecca Mead

Apple and Facebook’s offer might be the kind of employee benefit whose principal beneficiary is the company.

Deferring childbearing from one’s twenties or early thirties until one’s later thirties or forties certainly has its appeal for the woman with ambitions beyond motherhood. Lots of women have chanced it, even before egg freezing came along and supplied a possible, if not entirely reliable, form of counter-infertility insurance. Still, even with this tantalizing suggestion of reproductive liberty, it’s hard to figure out exactly how long to postpone. A woman might skip having children in her twenties or thirties in order to focus on her career, only to discover by her forties that its demands—not to mention the encroachment of middle age—make motherhood even less manageable than it appeared at twenty-five or thirty.

And it seems overly optimistic to hope that, with nature’s deadlines subverted, a woman’s decision about whether or when to bear children might become an entirely autonomous choice—hers alone to make, independent of cultural and professional pressures as well as biological ones. Might Apple and Facebook’s offers of egg freezing be, in fact, the kind of employee benefit whose principal beneficiary is the company? What if, rather than being a means of empowerment—whereby a young woman is no longer subject to anything so quaintly analog as the ticking of a biological clock—freezing one’s eggs is understood as a surrender to the larger, more invisibly pervasive force of corporate control?

Such skepticism is buttressed by a defining paradox of contemporary life, which is that while most of us have willingly surrendered a large measure of our privacy and even our decision-making to tech companies for the sake of convenience or pleasure, many of us remain queasily uncomfortable with the terms of the tradeoff. We may tolerate the disconcerting specificity of Facebook’s targeted ads as they appear alongside our friends’ latest photos; we may even, on occasion, find ourselves grateful for the suggestion, and make an online purchase with which we are afterward quite delighted. But we remain alive to the conviction that Facebook’s best interests and our own are unlikely to be in alignment. We feel ourselves to be uneasily balanced between submission and suspicion. The suggestion that such companies might, through an apparently generous employee benefit, obliquely engineer the reproductive choices of their employees is unsettling in its devil’s-bargain familiarity.

The inclusion of egg freezing as an employee benefit partakes of the techno-utopian fantasy on which companies like Facebook and Apple subsist—the conviction that there must be a solution to every problem, an answer to every question, a response to every need, if only the right algorithm can be found. But the difficulties that an American woman continues to face in her efforts to reconcile having a career with being a mother are more than faulty code to be debugged. Rather, they are vast and systemic: the limited availability of subsidized care for preschool children, the resistance of corporate culture to flexible or reduced hours for the parents of young children, the lack of federally mandated, paid family leave.
 
How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

In August, Tom Steyer and seven campaign advisers sat in a small conference room in Coral Gables, Fla., trying to figure out how to save the world. Steyer, who is 57, has a fortune of roughly $1.5 billion, and his advisers were among the most talented political operatives in the United States. Steyer is especially concerned about climate change, and his immediate goal, the object of discussion that day, was to replace the sitting governor of Florida, Rick Scott, a Republican who has questioned the very existence of anthropogenic climate change, with Charlie Crist, the previous governor, whose environmental views hew more closely to Steyer’s.

The lead Florida strategist, Nick Baldick, was running through the campaign numbers. “There’s a problem here,” he said, brandishing a printout. Two bars, blue and red, were labeled “Total Raised,” and the red Republican bar was notably longer. “It’s just ugly,” Baldick said, with a shake of his head: “$74 million to Crist’s $24 million. And they have $38 million cash on hand to his $15 million.”

In the spring, when Crist was riding a double-digit lead, Florida looked like a safe bet, but then Scott unleashed an $18 million ad campaign against Crist, painting him as a hack careerist who loves Obamacare and lays off teachers. Not only had Crist’s lead vanished, now he was losing in the key swing district of Tampa, winning by too little in Democrat-friendly West Palm and losing by too much in Republican-leaning Fort Myers. And as Baldick’s numbers showed, neither the state Democratic Party nor Crist could match the barrage.

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Steyer’s long-term goal was to build an organization called NextGen Climate Action, which could mirror and oppose the rival private interests who devoted their own fortunes to blocking any action on climate change. Chief among those rivals were Charles and David Koch, the brothers who run Koch Industries. Steyer was especially interested in enacting a cap-and-trade system, which would allow companies to buy or sell emission rights under a strict state or federal limit. The Koch brothers, meanwhile, have worked hard to prevent, among many other government interventions, the adoption of a cap-and-trade system, which they view as the ultimate in reckless government intervention.

If Steyer didn’t step in as a counterweight, he reasoned, no one else would; after all, no one else had so far. Steyer pledged to spend at least $50 million of his own fortune this election season by way of NextGen on behalf of Democrats or, perhaps more accurate, against Republicans, in Florida and six other states: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Most of the races were for the Senate, which Republicans are in a position to retake this fall. But the race that was closest to Steyer’s heart was here, in the state “most vulnerable to climate change,” as he put it; a crucial swing state where the Koch brothers had already spent millions to establish a political presence. Charlie Crist himself journeyed to NextGen’s San Francisco headquarters in June, to tell Steyer and many of these same strategists about sea-level rise in Miami, its troubling effects on drinking water and flood insurance and about the many ways in which he differed from Rick Scott. (“There couldn’t be a clearer choice,” Crist told me later. “I’m, like, the opposite of this guy.”)

Crist had been a Republican for most of his long career in Florida politics — as a state senator in 1992, as an education commissioner, as an attorney general — but after a single term as governor, during which he later claimed to have become increasingly alienated from a party that he described as “anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment,” he sought an independent U.S. Senate seat instead. He lost that bid to Marco Rubio, and in 2012 he announced (via Twitter) that he had registered as a Democrat. In November 2013 after an encouraging meeting with Steyer, he announced that he would seek the governor’s seat again. In his last turn as governor, Crist took climate change seriously; he pushed through a law that authorized the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to develop a cap-and-trade system. Scott and the Legislature dismantled the law, and Scott redirected the agency instead to “ensure that Florida leads the nation in new partnerships between government and industry.”

 
Southern Evangelicals Are Dwindling—and Taking Republican Votes With Them

Southern Evangelicals Are Dwindling—and Taking Republican Votes With Them

Demographic changes may help Democrats in the midterm elections.

By Robert P. Jones

White evangelical Protestants have remained a steadfast Republican constituency in both presidential and midterm congressional elections ever since the Reagan presidency, which marked what political scientists Merle and Earl Black dubbed “the great white switch.” In 2008 and 2012, roughly three-quarters of white born-again Christians supported GOP nominees John McCain (73 percent) and Mitt Romney (78 percent).  In the 2010 midterm election, similar numbers of white born-again Christians (77 percent) supported the GOP House candidate in their districts.

During the heady days of evangelical prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, white evangelical Protestant leaders frequently noted the decline of their more liberal mainline Protestant cousins, but now white evangelicals are seeing their own populations shrink. In recent years, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination in the country, has reported steady declines in membership and new baptisms. Since 2007, the number of white evangelical Protestants nationwide has slipped from 22 percent in 2007 to 18 percent today.

A look at generational differences demonstrates that this is only the beginnings of a major shift away from a robust white evangelical presence and influence in the country. While white evangelical Protestants constitute roughly three in 10 (29 percent) seniors (age 65 and older), they account for only one in 10 (10 percent) members of the Millennial generation (age 18-29). In the last few national elections, however, because of high levels of voter turnout, white evangelical Protestants have managed to maintain an outsized presence at the ballot box according to national exit polls, representing roughly one-quarter of voters.

But the fact that there are currently five Southern states—Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina— where polling shows that the Senate race margins are less than five percentage points indicates that 2014 may be the year that the underlying demographic trends finally exert enough force to make themselves felt. These changes are evident in analysis based on the American Values Atlas, a massive interactive online map of demographic and religious diversity in America based on 45,000 interviews conducted throughout 2013, created by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Social Science Research Solutions.

 
The Social Conservative Royal Rumble Is Brewing in Iowa

The Social Conservative Royal Rumble Is Brewing in Iowa

By Ben Jacobs

If Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee do throw in for 2016, they’ll have to top a growing horde of newcomers to win over their old caucus voters.

The two most crowded places in 2015 may be a subway car at rush hour and the stage at a Republican presidential debate. With the past two winners of the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, both making moves toward a campaign and other social conservatives, ranging from Ben Carson to Ted Cruz, thinking about running, things are already looking crowded.

On Wednesday, Santorum told Real Clear Politics that he is approaching the 2016 election “as if I’m running.” Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses and finished second in 2012 GOP primary, has never made a secret of the fact that he’s considering another bid for the nomination. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has stumped across the country this year for Republican candidates, including a significant number of visits to Iowa. He has also gone out of his way to endorse candidates in competitive primaries who backed him in 2012, most notably Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in a congressional primary and Prof. Sam Clovis in the Hawkeye State’s Senate primary.

At the same time, Huckabee is organizing a trip to Europe with a number of pastors from early primary states after Election Day. The trip, first reported in June by David Brody at CBN, will focus on the leadership of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II and feature stops in London, Krakow, and Los Angeles. Longtime Huckabee aide Hogan Gidley described the trip to The Daily Beast as “an outstanding political move” that allows the former Arkansas governor to display his “understanding of the world around us.”

 
Biden’s son discharged from Navy after positive cocaine test.

Biden’s son discharged from Navy after positive cocaine test.

Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, a source familiar with the matter confirmed Thursday.

The source spoke anonymously because no permission had been given to speak publicly about a personnel issue.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Biden was discharged earlier this year after failing a drug test in June 2013. A lawyer and former lobbyist, Biden was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2013. He applied for a commission into the reserve as a public affairs officer at age 42. Because of his age, Biden needed a waiver to apply. The Journal reported he needed a second waiver because of a drug-related charge when he was younger, a request that is not unusual.

"It was the honor of my life to serve in the US Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge," Hunter Biden said in a statement. "I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward."

Vice President Biden's office declined to comment.

 
Ebola challenges America’s ability to adapt

Ebola challenges America’s ability to adapt

In any health care setting, it is wise to listen to the nurses, who see all. Their reports from Dallas about the initial procedures used in treating Thomas Eric Duncan are appalling. Safety suits with exposed necklines left nurses to cover skin with tape. When tape is removed, it abrades the skin. One health expert I consulted described this practice in dealing with Ebola as “moronic.”

Proper protocols are now in place. But Ebola in America has been an exacting and brutal teacher.

First, we have seen that the infectiousness of Ebola increases as a patient grows sicker and the level of the virus spikes in his or her bloodstream. To the general public, this should provide some reassurance. When a patient begins to feel weak and achy at home, he or she is less likely to spread the disease. None of the people who lived in tight quarters with Duncan has (as of this writing) reported infection.

But for health workers treating very ill patients, the danger of infection is dramatically elevated. Any crack in a glove, any touching of the eye, might be enough. And when a patient’s viral load is sky-high, it is likely to be found even in his or her saliva and mucus. Theoretically, even a cough spraying sputum onto exposed skin might transmit the disease. A person in this condition would be too sick to walk the streets. The risk is to health-care workers who are not properly ­protected.

Second, we’ve learned that providing protection to health workers is a skill not possessed by every hospital. Reading a protocol off a Web site is one thing. Implementing a protocol, with perfection as the only acceptable standard, is another. It is the distance between reading a book on batting and taking a pitch in the major leagues. Most hospitals are poorly prepared to take very ill Ebola patients. This demands either the immediate deployment of federal Ebola “SWAT teams” when a case is reported or the careful transfer of patients to more competent facilities. The hurt feelings of local hospitals or mayors should matter not at all.

 
A wave for House Republicans?

A wave for House Republicans?

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner is pictured. | Getty

Republicans are taking their most aggressive steps yet to parlay a favorable national climate and growing cash advantage into a historic House majority.

Aiming to stretch the political map, two prominent conservative groups, American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund, on Friday will announce a joint $3 million investment in seven House races, including contests in deep blue districts that are just now starting to be seen as realistic targets for Republicans.

They’re not saying it’s a wave, at least not yet. But Republicans are encouraged by what they’re seeing in the homestretch of the House campaign and are determined not to let an opportunity pass.

The coming offensive will reach as far as President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii, where recent polling in one district has shown Republicans to be surprisingly competitive. It will also take them to a liberal northeastern Iowa seat where Democrats are suddenly on defense, and to an upstate New York district not long ago seen as safe for the president’s party. Obama carried each district in 2012, in most cases handily; in the Hawaii district, he won 70 percent of the vote.

Republicans, who currently hold a 17-seat majority, are driving deep onto enemy turf just as Democrats have gone on the retreat. A late cash infusion from GOP-aligned groups has forced Democrats to pull resources from top offensive targets in order to buttress besieged incumbents, putting them almost entirely on defense. Of the 28 races seen as most seriously in contention, all but seven are held by Democrats.

 
Ebola missteps have shattered trust in hospital system, lawmakers say

Ebola missteps have shattered trust in hospital system, lawmakers say

By TODD J. GILLMAN, MATTHEW WATKINS AND MICHAEL E. YOUNG

The head of the CDC and a top doctor from Presbyterian come under sharp questioning from a House subcommittee.

Fumbles by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas have demolished CDC assurances that any hospital in America could effectively deal with an Ebola case, said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., the subcommittee chairman.

“CDC and our public health system are in the middle of a fire. Job One is to put it out completely,” Murphy said.

The subcommittee’s top Democrat, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, echoed the concerns.

“It would be an understatement to say that the response to the first U.S.-based patient with Ebola has been mismanaged, causing risk to scores of additional people,” she said.

The questions on Capitol Hill about Presbyterian — and about U.S. hospitals in general — arose as Nina Pham, a Presbyterian nurse infected with the Ebola virus, was moved from Presbyterian to a National Institutes of Health clinic in Bethesda, Md. Pham, 26, was among those who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, who died of Ebola in the Dallas hospital on Oct. 8.

 
Clinton takes a shot at Romney

Clinton takes a shot at Romney

By JONATHAN TOPAZ

Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photos

Hillary Clinton on Thursday in Michigan took a veiled swipe at Mitt Romney as she criticized those who would have “let Detroit go bankrupt” following the financial crisis in 2008.

On the stump for Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters and gubernatorial hopeful Mark Schauer, Clinton said that the two stood up for Michigan in Congress.
“They could have lined up with those saying, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt. Let manufacturing just wither away,’” Clinton said at the event at Oakland University in Rochester. “They could have been on the side of those who were criticizing what they called Government Motors.”

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, wrote a November 2008 op-ed in The New York Times titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” arguing against the government bailout of the auto industry. “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye,” Romney said in his now-famous opening. Several critics of the bailout also derisively termed the emergency taxpayer ownership of GM in 2008 “Government Motors.”
 
As Dems sweat Iowa, Sen. Tom Harkin sits on millions

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin is pictured. | AP Photo

As Dems sweat Iowa, Sen. Tom Harkin sits on millions

By MANU RAJU and JOHN BRESNAHAN

Senate Democrats are pleading with donors to give to Rep. Bruce Braley’s campaign as they struggle to pull off a victory in Iowa and save their endangered majority.

But there’s one key player holding onto his campaign cash: Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.

Despite direct appeals from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats, Harkin has refused to transfer money from his $2.4 million campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to sources and campaign finance records.

Instead, the retiring Iowa senator has informed party leaders that he plans to use the campaign funds for a charitable contribution to an entity that bears his name: The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, according to sources close to discussions with the senator.

The issue has been the subject of multiple tense meetings. Reid first made a plea for money during a face-to-face meeting with Harkin in April, and again at another session in late summer when he was joined by Harkin and DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Harkin said no both times.

 
Report: Biden son failed Navy drug test
Report: Biden son failed Navy drug test

By NICK GASS

Joe Biden and Hunter Biden are shown. | AP Photo

The Navy Reserve discharged Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter earlier this year after he tested positive for cocaine, according to a Wall Street Journal report posted Thursday.

According to the report, Hunter Biden, 44, failed a drug test in June 2013 before his discharge in February. Biden, who needed a waiver to join the Navy at 43, reportedly needed another waiver because of a drug-related issue at an earlier age.

Biden, who held a part-time position as a public affairs ensign, expressed deep regret and embarrassment for his actions. He currently works as managing partner of an investment company.

“I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward,” he said in a statement.

The vice president’s office declined comment to The Wall Street Journal. It’s not clear whether Biden received an honorable discharge.

 
He Pushed Kansas to the Right. Kansas Is Pushing Back.

He Pushed Kansas to the Right. Kansas Is Pushing Back.

 

By TRIP GABRIEL

Kris W. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, has become a lightning rod on restrictive voting and illegal immigration and now faces a tough re-election fight.

In almost any other year, it would be hard to get much attention inside Kansas, let alone nationwide, in the race for Kansas secretary of state, by tradition a no-drama job that administers elections, handles business paperwork and publishes directories on government services.

Instead, as Supreme Court rulings reignite a national debate over voter ID and fraud, no candidate more defines this moment of politicized voting rules than Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, who has transformed an obscure office in a place far from the usual political battlegrounds, to become a lightning rod on restrictive voting and illegal immigration.

Mr. Kobach has been a major conservative voice on voter issues for years. He has helped states write strict laws requiring proof of citizenship, presided over the “Kansas project” — a national hunt for double registrations — and, most recently, tried to keep a Democratic candidate on the ballot with the potential to help Kansas’ endangered Republican senator, Pat Roberts.

An itinerant firebrand with a Yale law degree, baptized a “blood brother” by the heavy metal conservative Ted Nugent, Mr. Kobach was elected by a 22-point landslide in 2010.

Now he faces an unexpectedly tough re-election fight in deeply Republican Kansas, where many think the party may have gone too far. It is the same wave threatening to swamp Gov. Sam Brownback.

“They moved too far to the right,” said Marc White, a lawyer who came to a candidates’ forum last week in Topeka, the state capital, where Mr. Kobach spoke. “We’re a Republican state, don’t get me wrong. But you’re going to have a backlash to the more extreme policies.”

 
Dallas County opts against declaring Ebola emergency

Dallas County opts against declaring Ebola emergency

The Commissioners Court decided Thursday afternoon to rely on written agreements with 75 health care workers potentially exposed to the virus that they will avoid public transportation and “public places.”

Those agreements will be voluntarily signed, but if some workers don’t agree, the county can issue court orders.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the director of the National Institutes of Health and the chief clinical officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas spent much of the day defending the response to the country’s first Ebola case during testimony before a U.S. House committee Thursday.

 
Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

Ina Fassbender/Reuters

 Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers 

Tamar Jacoby

America rarely uses an apprenticeship model to teach young people a trade. Could such a system help the unemployed?

At last, unemployment is easing. But the latest low rate—hovering below 6 percent–obscures a deeper, longer-term problem: “skills mismatches” in the labor force, which will only worsen in years to come. According to the most recent figures, 9.3 million Americans are unemployed, but 4.8 million jobs stand empty because employers can’t find people to fill them. With new technology transforming work across a range of sectors, more and more businesses are struggling to find workers with the skills to man new machines and manage new processes.

One solution has enchanted employers, educators, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle: European-style apprenticeship. The Obama administration is about to announce $100 million worth of apprenticeship grants—and wants to spend another $6 billion over the next four years. Meanwhile, lawmakers as different as Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have expressed interest in the idea.

Americans should proceed with caution.

 ..........................

The U.S. has its own tradition of apprenticeship going back many years. But like most kinds of vocational education, it fell out of fashion in recent decades—a victim of our obsession with college and concern to avoid anything that resembles tracking. Today in America, fewer than 5 percent of young people train as apprentices, the overwhelming majority in the construction trades. In Germany, the number is closer to 60 percent—in fields as diverse as advanced manufacturing, IT, banking, and hospitality. And in Europe, what’s often called “dual training” is a highly respected career path.

"Dual training" captures the idea at the heart of every apprenticeship: Trainees split their days between classroom instruction at a vocational school and on-the-job time at a company. The theory they learn in class is reinforced by the practice at work. They also learn work habits and responsibility and, if all goes well, absorb the culture of the company. Trainees are paid for their time, including in class. The arrangement lasts for two to four years, depending on the sector. And both employer and employee generally hope it will lead to a permanent job—for employers, apprentices are a crucial talent pool.

The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.” So too at Bosch.

 
Is Leon Panetta's slam of Obama a boost for Hillary?

Leon Panetta backstabs his old boss, Obama

Is Leon Panetta's slam of Obama a boost for Hillary?

Did Leon Panetta really conspire with Bill and Hillary Clinton to undermine Barack Obama by writing a memoir that slams the president’s leadership skills and foreign policy acumen? That’s what political strategist Dick Morris claims.

“I think Hillary put him up to it,” Morris said in a recent interview on a radio talk show in New York.

As the man who famously allowed a call girl to listen in on his conversations with President Clinton back in the 1990s when he was a White House political advisor, Morris is an expert on this kind of inside-the-Beltway intrigue. He notoriously wrote a damning tell-all book about the Clintons after his relationship with the prostitute became public and he was expelled from the president’s inner circle.

Now, Panetta, who served as Obama’s secretary of Defense and CIA director, has written his own revealing book, “Worthy Fights.” While not as sensational as the Clinton book Morris penned, Panetta's volume does not make his ex-boss look good. Morris seems to have no doubt about why Panetta chose to critique the inner workings of the administration at this particular moment, rather than waiting until Obama leaves office.

“What Panetta is doing is a hit -- a contract killing -- for Hillary,” Morris said. “Panetta at core is a Clinton person, not an Obama person. By accurately and truthfully describing the deliberations in the [Obama] Cabinet, he makes Hillary look better, and he makes Obama look worse. ... And I think he’ll get his reward in heaven.”

 
Jerry-Jones Escapes

Jerry-Jones Escapes

By Robert Wilonsky

The lawsuit pitting Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones against a former stripper from Oklahoma is no more.

Two hearings scheduled for today in a lawsuit pitting former stripper Jana Weckerly against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have been canceled after the case was settled “per mediator,” according to a note posted on the Dallas County website. Attorneys for Weckerly, who accused Jones of sexually assaulting her at a local hotel in 2009, and Jones say the suit was dismissed by the judge.

“We are pleased with the Court’s Judgment against Ms. Weckerly,” says Levi McCathern II, the attorney representing the Cowboys and Jones, in a brief statement sent to The Dallas Morning News. “Ms. Weckerly’s allegations were false. This case is over.”

Thomas Bowers, Weckerly’s attorney, says he and his client “do not contest the Judgment as entered by the Court. Neither Jerry Jones nor the Cowboys organization has paid us any money.”

The 27-year-old Weckerly of Ardmore, Okla., had been seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The attorneys were to meet in court today to argue over McCathern’s motion to dismiss the suit. Jones’ attorney, who has denied Weckerly’s allegations from the beginning, filed documents last week trying to get the case thrown out. Jones’ latest filing said Weckerly’s suit should have been “time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.” The motion to dismiss notes that Weckerly claims the assault took place in June 2009, but she waited until September 2014 to file suit.

McCathern has called the lawsuit nothing short of extortion, and one of the hearings scheduled for today involved a motion for sanctions against Weckerly for filing the “frivolous pleading for the purpose of harassment.” Weckerly’s attorney had maintained she was paid off by Jones and the Cowboys to keep quiet about the alleged event.

 
Auctioning Off the Judicial System

Auctioning Off the Judicial System

The money flooding into elections for judges' seat shows how dangerous unregulated campaigns can be.

By Norm Ornstein

Every once in a while, David Brooks writes a column in The New York Times that makes one just cringe. That was the case with his "Don't Worry, Be Happy" treatment last week of the impact of Citizens United on our politics. By defining the impact narrowly—does either party gain from the Supreme Court ruling and the new Wild West of campaign financing?—and by cherry-picking the research on campaign finance, Brooks comes up with a benign conclusion: Citizens United will actually reduce the influence of money in elections, and, I quote, "The upshot is that we should all relax about campaign spending."

Without mentioning his good friend's name, E.J. Dionne destroyed that case in his own Washington Post column. But a broader critique is necessary. First, Citizens United—and its progeny, SpeechNow and McCutcheon—are not really about whether Republicans get a leg up on election outcomes. They are about a new regime of campaign spending that dramatically enhances corruption in politics and government by forcing lawmakers to spend more and more of their precious time making fundraising calls, raising money for their own campaigns and their parties, and getting insurance against a last-minute blitz of "independent" spending that trashes them when they have no time to raise money to defend themselves. It also gives added traction to extreme groups threatening lawmakers with primary devastation unless they toe the ideological line.

................................

Here is the reality: If judges fear multimillion-dollar campaigns against them, they will have to raise millions themselves, or quietly engineer campaigns by others to do so. Who will contribute, or lead those efforts? Of course, those who practice in front of the judges will, creating an unhealthy dynamic of gratitude and dependency. Worse, imagine what happens when judges are deciding cases in which the stakes are high, and well-heeled individuals or corporations will be helped or damaged by the rulings. The judges know that an adverse decision now will trigger a multimillion-dollar campaign against them the next time, both for retribution and to replace them with more friendly judges. Will that affect some rulings? Of course.

 
Michael Dukakis testifies in defense of Tsarnaev friend.

Former Governor Michael Dukakis

Michael Dukakis testifies in defense of Tsarnaev friend.

By Patricia Wen and Martin Finucane

An unusual witness testified Thursday in the trial of a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis said he and his wife were long-time family friends of Robel Phillipos’s mother. Dukakis even took Phillipos to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he said.

Dukakis testified in US District Court in Boston that several days after the Marathon bombing Phillipos’s mother said she was concerned about him, so he got Phillipos’s cellphone number and called him.

“He told me he was questioned for five hours by the FBI,” Dukakis said.

“Did you get the sense that he was confused?” defense attorney Derege Demissie asked.

“Yes,” said Dukakis.

 
Ebola Is a Disease That Punishes False Confidence

Ebola Is a Disease That Punishes False Confidence

By Benjamin Wallace-Wells

 The problems of certainty in the face of a deadly virus have been apparent over the past few days, with the news that two nurses at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas (Nina Pham and Amber Vinson) contracted the virus while caring for a Liberian patient with Ebola, Thomas Duncan. At each step there were errors to be regretted. Duncan was sent home when he was first admitted to the ER, even though he told a nurse interviewing him that he had recently arrived from the Ebola zone. He was cared for at his local hospital, rather than being transferred to one of the four major centers for Ebola response. Nurses within Presbyterian Hospital reported later that there was a great deal of confusion about exactly how to use the protective gear that they had been given to help keep the virus from spreading; the natural conclusion, though of course we don't know, is that this may have contributed to two nurses acquiring the virus. Vinson flew to Cleveland and back, even though she had been told not to, and a CDC officer who interviewed her before she got on her flight out of Dallas allowed her to go because her temperature was not very elevated — a test that is being applied even though there is scant reason to think temperature screening is effective. Vinson "should not have traveled," Freiden said, but if the CDC were less certain that the system would work then it could have explicitly banned her. "It's not that challenging," an exasperated Sanjay Gupta said on CNN, blaming the medical staff at Presbyterian Hospital for the spread of the virus. "We're talking about covering your skin. Cover your skin!"

..............................

The smart media has, for weeks, looked at this virus and reminded audiences of the comparatively low numbers of the infected and dead, compared to — for instance — the flu. We have looked with some horror at the inhumane conditions in which medical workers have had to labor in Sierra Leone and Liberia, deprived of basic equipment like hazmat suits and cleaning solutions, and suggested that the real story of Ebola was a resource story, and that in a country that had not only plenty of hazmat suits but also the Centers for Disease Control and the Massachusetts General Hospital and the best medical minds on the planet, the experience of the disease would be vastly different. Which, in the medium-term, will almost certainly be true. But in the first experience of a disease all of these great systems are pressured in ways that are hard to anticipate — the chance that the virus would first breach the United States in the Presbyterian Hospital ER was virtually zero, and yet it did. A contagion like this, as Freiden will likely be reminded today, begs for a little more human humility.

 
The Republican Election Hand Gets Better

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.)

The Republican Election Hand Gets Better

By Karl Rove

The GOP is gaining ground with fundraising, ad buys, undecided voters and independents.

Democrats and Republicans have placed very different tactical bets in this year’s Senate races. Republicans are betting that President Obama’s low job-approval rating (40% in Wednesday’s Gallup poll) rubs off on Democratic candidates. In midterm elections, candidates of the president’s party have historically ended up with vote totals close to his approval rating. For example, Democratic Senate candidates ran on average 3.7 points behind Mr. Obama’s job approval in 2010. GOP Senate candidates ran on average 1.3 points ahead of President George W. Bush ’s job approval in 2006.

In this year’s 11 most-competitive Senate contests, Democrats must run far ahead of the president’s job approval to escape defeat. According to the Wednesday Huffington Post’s Pollster aggregate summaries, Mr. Obama’s job approval is 35% or less in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia; 40% or less in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire; and 45% or less in North Carolina and Michigan.

Democratic Senate candidates in these states are desperately trying to detach themselves from the leader of their party. Asked during a recent debate if she had voted for Mr. Obama, Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes refused to answer, claiming a “constitutional right to privacy.” When Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor was asked last week if he thought “the Obama administration has done an appropriate job handling the Ebola crisis,” he paused, then answered, “Um, I would say that it’s hard to know.”

 
How Ebola Was Discovered

How Ebola Was Discovered

Microbiologist Peter Piot brought Ebola to the world's attention nearly four decades ago. With rarely seen footage from his visit to Zaire in 1976, he describes how his team solved the mystery of the virus.

 
Hong Kong Holds Hard Line on Protests

[image]

Hong Kong Holds Hard Line on Protests

After nearly three weeks of protests including violent confrontations with police, the two sides in the Hong Kong standoff haven’t talked or budged on their demands.

After nearly three weeks of protests including violent confrontations with police, the two sides in the Hong Kong standoff haven’t talked and haven’t budged on their demands.

With the first negotiations on track to begin next week, the students leading the protests and city officials appear to be talking past each other, repeatedly making demands that the other side has rejected. But there are possible signs of compromise emerging behind the scenes.

On Thursday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying continued his hard line at a news conference, saying police could clear protest sites even while talks were going on. “This is very important: dialogue and clearing the protests are two separate things. We won’t refrain from clearing the sites because of dialogue, nor will we refrain from dialogue because of [plans] to clear the sites.”

But clearing the sites and attempting dialogue simultaneously is unlikely to be successful since every effort to halt the protests have brought out huge crowds of demonstrators and broadened the support for the students.

 
Is Falling Stock Market the Death Knell for Dems?

Is Falling Stock Market the Death Knell for Dems?

By James Piereson

The Democrats are already facing substantial headwinds in this year's midterm elections: they are defending 21 of 37 Senate seats up this year, President Obama is a drag on the ticket with overall popularity hovering around 40 percent, things seem to be falling apart in the Middle East, and the economy continues to grow at a tepid pace, buoyed up to now by a record-breaking stock market. Election forecasters have conceded the House of Representatives to the Republicans and are giving Republicans very good odds of capturing the Senate.

Now, in the last two weeks the stock market has undergone a substantial correction that may yet turn into a full blow crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped by about 1300 points since October 1, falling from around 17,200 to 15,900 as of late afternoon on October 15. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ have fallen by similar proportions. All told, the U.S. stock markets have lost close to $1.6 trillion in wealth in the past two weeks. By all appearances, the correction has not yet run its course. The markets could fall still further on worries about slow growth in Europe and the United States, and a general sense that events are spiraling out of control.

 
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