Saturday, April 21, 2018

Barbara Bush remembered at funeral as 'the first lady of the greatest generation'

Barbara Bush was remembered at her funeral as a loving wife, mother and friend with a devilish sense of humor and who represented the best of the World War II generation.

"Barbara Bush was the first lady of 'the greatest generation,'" presidential historian Jon Meacham, a friend of the Bush family, said in a eulogy at Saturday's funeral service in Texas that drew signatories from across the nation and around the world.

Meacham recalled the snowy-haired former first lady's "long and consequential life," not least her promotion of literacy, her quick-witted humor and her trademark faux pearls.

"She was candid and comforting," Meacham said, describing her as a “point of light" who "kept everything and everyone together."

Some 1,500 guests filled St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston for the service. Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92, had requested in her last wishes a modest funeral at the Gothic-style cathedral, where she and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, were devoted members for decades.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his eulogy described his "precious mother" as someone who "filled our lives with laughter and joy."

"She was our teacher and role model on how to live a life of purpose and meaning," he said.

Four of the five living ex-presidents attended Saturday's funeral service, including former President Barack Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton. The Clintons' daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was also in attendance.

Following the service, a funeral procession brought Barbara Bush's casket to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum near Texas A&M University in College Station for a private service, where she was buried in a family plot beside her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3 in 1953. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets were expected to line Barbara Bush Avenue outside the library to pay tribute to the former first lady.

First lady Melania Trumpattended Saturday's service “on behalf of the first family,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement. “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend.”

Born in 1925, Barbara Bush served as first lady from 1989 to 1993. She died shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health. - Read More

Barbara Bush remembered at funeral as 'the first lady of ... - ABC News


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students

College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.

And yet, research has shown that just 3 percent of high-achieving, low-income students attend America's most selective colleges. And, it's not that these students just aren't there — every year tens of thousands of top students who don't come from wealthy families never even apply to elite colleges.

Universities are taking note — and banding together under something called the American Talent Initiative — a network backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute and the research firm Ithaka S+R.

To join the club, schools have to graduate 70 percent of their students in six years — a qualification that leaves just under 300 schools in the U.S. eligible. Nearly a third of those schools — exactly 100 — have signed on.

Their goal? Enroll 50,000 additional low- and moderate-income students by 2025.

Each school has its own goals, too — many want to increase the number of Pell Grant students on campus, others aim to improve graduation rates — but they're all on board to share strategies, learn from each other's missteps and provide data to monitor their progress. - More, NPR

100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students


Should California expand what it means to be 'gravely disabled'?

When Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Mental Health Act of 1967, the legislation signaled a new era in the treatment of mentally ill Californians.

Also known as the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, the law recognized that not everyone with a mental illness needed to be confined to a state-run psychiatric hospital. Section 5150 established guidelines for the detention of "mentally disordered persons" up to 72 hours for assessment and treatment.

The 1967 law has become a valuable tool for law enforcement agencies and mental health professionals dealing with people living on the street.

But with homelessness surging throughout California, some argue that the 5150 provision needs to be expanded, giving authorities wider latitude in deciding when someone should be removed from the streets.

Legislators in Sacramento will consider this question in the coming months as they debate Assembly Bill 1971. The measure, introduced by Assembly members Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), would include those who are unable to seek treatment for serious medical conditions.

In 2017, more than 800 homeless people died in L.A. County from medical conditions that are considered to be preventable, records show. There is no estimating who among these were mentally ill, but it is acknowledged that mentally ill people are least likely to perceive how dangerous and unhealthy their living environments are.

"Individuals are falling through the cracks," said Eric Matos, a deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who co-sponsored a county motion supporting the bill.

Under the current law, people can be detained if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, or are "gravely disabled," which is defined primarily as being unable to provide food, clothing or shelter for themselves, or to understand the nature and severity of their illness. Such holds can be extended up to a month and eventually include conservatorship for more than a year. - Read More

Should California expand what it means to be 'gravely disabled'?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Barbara Bush Dies at 92: Read George W. Bush's Statement | Time

Barbara Bush, the wife of President George H.W. Bush and mother to President George W. Bush, died at the age of 92 on Tuesday.

The beloved Bush family matriarch was remembered by her husband, children and grandchildren following her death. George H.W. Bush was “broken-hearted” to lose his wife, his chief of staff Jean Becker said in a statement.

“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when [she] left this good earth,” Becker said.

George W. Bush and Jeb Bush detailed how lucky they were to have Barbara as their mother in statements.

“Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was,” George W. Bush said. “Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us she was so much more.”

Barbara Bush died after a family spokesperson said she would no longer seek treatment following a series of recent hospitalizations. She was known in her family for her wit and toughness.

“Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end,” George W. Bush said. “I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.” 
Jeb Bush called his mother a “force of nature” in a statement.
“I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush,” Bush said. “Thank you for your prayers, and we look forward to celebrating and honoring her life and contributions to our family and great nation in the coming days.” - Read More

Barbara Bush Dies at 92: Read George W. Bush's Statement | Time


Monday, April 16, 2018

The man who wanted to split California into six states now wants to make it into three

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist whose saw his dream to carve California into six separate states fizzle has returned with a slimmed down idea: this time, three states.

Tim Draper filed his proposed 2018 ballot initiative on Friday asking voters to split California into three new states: Northern California, California and Southern California.

"The citizens of the whole state would be better served by three smaller state governments while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities, and towns," Draper wrote in the initiative's statement of findings. He did not immediately respond to emails sent seeking comment.

Draper's plan would draw the northernmost dividing line from Santa Cruz County eastward to Mariposa County. The middle state, which would retain the name California, would be closer aligned to the coast and would place Los Angeles and Orange counties into separate states. The state of Southern California would run from Orange County to Mono County in the north and down to the border with Mexico.

The wealthy political tinkerer's 2014 plan would have created six separate states. Draper spent $4.9 million of his own money to collect signatures on the proposal, only to find too few of them were valid to qualify for the ballot before that year's deadline. In 2015, he promised to bankroll less ambitious ideas of others at reforming California's system of government. State campaign finance records show no contributions from Draper to any efforts that year.

There have been hundreds of efforts to dissolve California's long-standing borders since the state's inception in 1849. None, including Draper's new effort, spell out the complicated choices on water rights, economic benefits or border disputes.

Draper's new effort comes on the heels of a renewed campaign to allow California to secede from the United States. Its backers must also gather the needed signatures for voters to consider the proposal next November. - Read More

The man who wanted to split California into six states now wants to ...


Grocery Stores Get Mostly Mediocre Scores On Their Food Waste Efforts

Any dumpster diver can tell you: Grocery stores throw away a lot of food.

But food discarded off the shelf is just one way that grub gets trashed. There's other waste along a grocery store's supply chain —rejected crops at farms, for example — that's often overlooked. So The Center for Biological Diversity and The "Ugly" Fruit and Veg Campaignrecently asked the 10 largest U.S. supermarkets how they handle food waste, and gave each store's efforts a letter grade.

Scores for each store appeared in the report, "Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade in Reducing Food Waste," released Monday. Letter grades took three overarching categories into account: how much public information a store shared about food waste, what it was doing to prevent food waste, and where its discarded food went.

No store got an A.

Walmart ranked highest with a B. Kroger, Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize, the parent company that owns Food Lion and Stop & Shop, all got Cs. Costco, Publix, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Target all got Ds, and the German-based discount grocer ALDI got an F.

NPR asked Jordan Figueiredo, who runs the "Ugly" Fruit and Veg Campaign, a few questions about the report, and how stores could improve their approach to food waste. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Walmart got the best grade of the American stores you studied. What made it stand out?

Besides donating and composting a lot of discarded food, Walmart has worked to standardize its expiration labels into two categories: "Best if Used By" for nonperishable products, and "Use By" for food that can spoil. That matters because when different products have different labels — "sell by," "best by," "use by" — most people think, "Oh, it's bad after that date." Not everybody's going to do the sniff test.

Walmart has also paid attention to wasting less food in stores. Usually if one egg in a carton cracks, a grocery store will throw the whole thing out. Walmart found a way to replace those eggs and still sell most of the pack, which reduced millions of eggs being thrown out every year.

For other chains that scored lower, it's not necessarily that they're not trying to reduce food waste, it's that they're not reporting what they're doing. But if they're not reporting that data, then we have no idea how effective these programs are. And something that's just done here or there isn't really meaningful. - More, NPR

Grocery Stores Get Mostly Mediocre Scores On Their Food Waste Efforts


Transcript: James Comey's interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos

ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos’ interviewed former FBI director James Comey for a special edition of “20/20” that aired on Sunday, April 15, 2018 ahead of the release of Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty." The following is the transcript of the interview:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you for doing this.

JAMES COMEY: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks for coming.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Simple start. Why did you write this book?

JAMES COMEY: I r-- I was never going to write a book. But I decided I had to write this one to try and be useful. That was my goal after I was fired, to be useful. And it occurred to me maybe I can be useful by offering a view to people, especially to young people, of what leadership should look like and how it should be centered on values. And so--

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You lay out qualities of an ethical leader. What are they?

JAMES COMEY: First and foremost, it's someone who realizes that lasting values have to be at the center of their leadership. Whether they're in government or in the private sector or leading a university, they have to focus on things like fairness and integrity and, most of all, the truth. That the truth matters.

James Comey gives first interview since President Trump fired him

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have-- there's almost a sense of-- of alarm underneath the whole book. You say it's a dangerous time in our country? - Read More

Transcript: James Comey's interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Barbara Bush in failing health, won't seek further treatment - CNNPolitic

(CNN) - Former first lady Barbara Bush is in failing health, a source close to the Bush family tells CNN.

The source said she is being cared for at her home in Houston and has decided she does not want to go back into the hospital. She has been on oxygen for some time.

Her husband, former President George H. W. Bush is with her, as are daughter Doro and sons Marvin and Neil. Her other sons, former President George W. Bush and former Gov. Jeb Bush, have been in and out visiting her the past week.

Bush's office released a statement, confirming after a "recent series of hospitalizations," she has decided against seeking additional medical help and will instead focus on "comfort care."

"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving," the statement continued.

At 92 years old, Bush has been suffering for some time and has been in and out of the hospital multiple times in the last year while battling with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, and congestive heart failure. - More

Barbara Bush in failing health, won't seek further treatment - CNNPolitics

Former First Lady Barbara Bush in failing health: Family spokesman - ABCNews

Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has been battling congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and go home from a hospital to be "surrounded by a family she adores," according to a statement released Sunday by the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

Mrs. Bush, 92, has been hospitalized several times in Houston, Texas, over the past year to be treated for chronic pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, her family has said.

“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment, and instead will focus on comfort care,” reads a statement released by her husband's office.

"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself -- thanks to her abiding faith, but for others," the statement reads. "She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving." - Read More

Former First Lady Barbara Bush in failing health: Family spokesman ...

انتقاد نمایندگان از «دزدی ۱۵۴ میلیون دالری» از سوخت نیروهای امنیتی

فساد گسترده در تامین سوخت نیروهای ناتو و نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان با انتقادهای تندی در پارلمان روبرو شده است. یک اداره نظارتی امریکایی اعلام کرده که ۱۵۴ میلیون دالر در جریان سوخت‌رسانی برای نیروهای امنیتی دزدی شده است.
نمایندگان پارلمان افغانستان با انتقاد تند از حکومت این کشور گفتند که بهای فساد در سوخت رسانی‌را نیروهای اردو و پولیس در خطوط مقدم جنگ می‌پردازند، زیرا در نتیجه فساد، مواد سوختی که باید برای اکمال و تجهیز نیروهای دفاعی و امنیتی مصرف شود، حیف و میل می‌گردد.

اداره بازرس ویژه ایالات متحده برای افغانستان (سیگار) در تازه‌ترین گزارش خود گفته است که سرقت تیل نیروهای امنیتی به یک کسب و کار پررونق تبدیل شده و به ارزش ۱۵۴،۴ میلیون دالر مواد سوخت نیروهای امریکایی و نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان دزدی شده است.

خرید مواد سوخت مورد نیاز نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان یکی از پر هزینه‌ترین موارد خریداری در حکومت افغانستان است. در سال ۱۳۹۳ ریاست جمهوری به دلیل فساد در این بخش، تمامی قراردادهای خرید تیل را لغو کرد و وعده داد که تمامی قراردادهای خرید تیل و سایر مواد تدارکاتی اردو و پولیس را شفاف می‌سازد.

ولی با نشر آمار تکان دهنده از فساد و دزدی در خرید تیل توسط سیگار، نمایندگان پارلمان از نهادهای امنیتی به شدت انتقاد کردند. داوود کلکانی نماینده ولسی جرگه روز یک شنبه در این مورد گفت: «وقتی در قراردادها فساد باشد و تیل و مواد لوجستیکی و محاربوی برای نیروهای امنیتی نرسد، در چنین وضعی معلوم است که نیروهای امنیتی نمی‌توانند به درستی وظایف شان را انجام دهند. در نتیجه این نیروها با شکست روبرو می‌شوند.»

محمد اشرف غنی رئیس جمهور افغانستان در اولین سال حکومتش قراردادهای تیل وزارت دفاع را فسخ و آن را به شرکت‌های دیگری سپرد. دلیل رئیس جمهور غنی این بود که حیف و میل بزرگی در سوخت رسانی به اردوی افغانستان جریان دارد و او مانع این دزدی‌ها می‌شود.

حکومت اعلام کرد که پس از لغو قرارداد سوخت رسانی و قرارداد آن با شرکت‌های جدید، از حیف و میل ۸۷ میلیون دالر جلوگیری شده است. اما اداره بازرسی عمومی امریکا در یک گزارش جدید اعلام کرده که ۱۵۴ میلیون دالر در جریان سوخت رسانی به نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان حیف و میل شده است.

نمایندگان پارلمان می‌گویند گزارش جدید سیگار نشان داد که فساد در تامین مواد سوخت نیروهای امنیتی همچنان ادامه دارد و حکومت نتوانسته است جلو آن را بگیرد. عارف رحمانی یک تن از نمایندگان گفت: «پولیس و اردویی که در ارزگان هلمند، غزنی و فاریاب هستند، در قله‌های کوه فعالیت می‌کنند اما متاسفانه برای آن‌ها اعاشه نمی‌رسد به خاطری که فساد وجود دارد.» - Read More

انتقاد نمایندگان از «دزدی ۱۵۴ میلیون دالری» از سوخت نیروهای امنیتی 


Afghan refugees describe treacherous journeys to Turkey

Turkey is experiencing a new influx of migrants, this time from Afghanistan instead of Syria.

More than 20,000 Afghans have tried to illegally enter Turkey via Iran over the past three months, adding to the 150,000 already there. And now, Turkey has stepped up efforts to send them back home.

Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseoglu reports from eastern Turkey, where he heard stories about their treacherous journeys in search of a better life. - Read More

Afghan refugees describe treacherous journeys to Turkey - Al Jazeera

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pentagon: 'Precise, Overwhelming, Effective' Attack On Syrian Facilities

More than 100 missiles were launched early Saturday morning by the U.S. and its allies France and the U.K., targeting three chemical weapons sites in Syria. The mission, according to Pentagon officials, has "significantly crippled" Syrian President Bashar Assad's ability to manufacture chemical weapons. No casualties have been reported.

The three sites targeted were "fundamental components" to Syria's chemical weapons program, according to Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.

The first of the targets was a research center near the capital city of Damascus; 76 missiles were launched against the center. McKenzie says the strike will set Syria's chemical program back for years.

In addition, a storage facility was the target of 22 weapons launched by all coalition forces, and a bunker facility was the target of seven Scout missiles. Both facilities are located near Homs, north of Damascus.

The Pentagon says Syria launched 40 surface-to-air missiles in response to the coalition attack. McKenzie says the missiles were fired after the "last impact" was over.

According to chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, the locations of the precision strikes were "carefully orchestrated" to minimize collateral damage but to prevent future use and production of chemical weapons. The use of which, she says, "is inexcusable" and "illegal."

The United Nations Security Council met Saturday and rejected a Russian resolution condemning the U.S. and its allies for the attacks. Russia, China and Bolivia voted in favor of the resolution, four countries abstained. - More, NPR

Pentagon: 'Precise, Overwhelming, Effective' Attack On Syrian Facilities


Security Council rejects Russian request to condemn airstrikes in Syria

In an address to an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Saturday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned against the crisis in Syria “spiraling out of control."

The meeting was held following overnight airstrikes in Syria launched by the United States, with support from France and the United Kingdom, which targeted installations connected to the country’s chemical weapons capabilities.

It was called by Russia which failed to get the other 14 Council members to adopt a resolution condemning the airstrikes.

Speaking prior to the vote on the draft resolution, the Secretary-General urged countries to avoid actions that would escalate the situation in Syria and worsen the suffering of its people.

“As Secretary-General of the United Nations, it is my duty to remind Member States that there is an obligation, particularly when dealing with matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law in general,” he told ambassadors, echoing a statement issued in the wake of the airstrikes.

“As I did yesterday, I stress the need to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control," he continued, referring to a meeting held on Friday, one of five times the Council met this week to take up the question of Syria.

The US and its allies launched the airstrikes in response to last week’s suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said its partners reported some 500 people there had exhibited “signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.”

“More than 70 people sheltering in basements have reportedly died, with 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals,” according to an agency statement on Wednesday.

The airstrikes were reportedly limited to three military locations, but the Secretary-General said the UN is unable to independently verify these details or if there were any casualties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the airstrikes as “an act of aggression,” the country’s representative informed the Council. - Read More

NEWS ANALYSIS: ‘Mission Accomplished!’ But What Is the Mission in Syria? - nytimes

WASHINGTON — On the morning after, President Trump declared success. The surgical strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syriahad been executed perfectly, he said on Saturday. “Mission Accomplished!” he wrote on Twitter.

That’s a phrase presidents and politicians have studiously avoided since President George W. Bush’s ill-fated aircraft carrier visit prematurely declaring success in the Iraq war. But aside from the curious choice of words, it raised the essential question regarding Syria going beyond the one-time strike: What exactly is the mission?

For most of Mr. Trump’s presidency, it has been to defeat the Islamic State and then get out. But what Mr. Trump outlined in his televised speech to the nation on Friday night was something more complicated. He promised a sustained campaign to stop Syria’s government from again using chemical weapons on its own people, while also emphasizing the limits of America’s ability or willingness to do more to stop the broader bloodletting that has devastated that country for seven years.

Mr. Trump finds himself in a position not all that different from that of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and with no easier answers. The strike brought home Mr. Trump’s competing impulses when it comes to Syria — on the one hand, his manful chest-thumping intended to demonstrate that he is the toughest one on the international block, and on the other, his deep conviction that American involvement in the Middle East since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been a waste of blood and treasure.

He did little to reconcile those impulses with his retaliatory strike to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack a week ago that killed dozens of people. But then again, he reflected the contradictions of an American public that is tired of trying to solve other people’s problems in the Middle East yet recoils at the haunting images of dead children choked by gas.

Veterans of Washington policymaking in the Middle East offered conditional praise for Mr. Trump’s restrained approach to the strike, if not necessarily his more bellicose rhetoric. In hitting three sites associated with Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, limiting it to a single night and conducting it in conjunction with Britain and France, they said it sent a message while avoiding a deeper involvement and minimizing the risk of provoking Syria’s patrons, Russia and Iran, into retaliating themselves. - Read More

'Mission Accomplished!' But What Is the Mission in Syria? - The New ...