Obama Administration College Scorecard Offers Guide on Graduate Earnings, Debt – By Douglas Belkin Sept. 12, 2015 6:05 a.m. ET


New system using IRS data spells out how students fare 10 years after graduation

The 2015 graduating class of Texas Southmost College attending a commencement ceremony in Brownsville on May 16.ENLARGE

The 2015 graduating class of Texas Southmost College attending a commencement ceremony in Brownsville on May 16. Photo: Associated Press

The Obama administration released its much-anticipated college scorecardSaturday morning, offering new insights into the value of a university degree—and the risks associated with getting one.

The new system will present the average earnings of graduates at individual schools using Internal Revenue Service data. The scorecard spells out how students fare 10 years after graduation as well as how they compare with people who entered the workforce with just a high-school diploma.

Americans will “be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans,” President Barack Obama said in his weekly radio address, according to prepared remarks provided by the White House. The scorecard “will help all of us see which schools do the best job of preparing Americans for success.”

The president announced a ratings system two years ago with the goal of exposing poor performing schools and curbing college costs. His approach sparked an immediate backlash from college presidents who claimed the paucity of reliable earnings data and the diversity of missions among postsecondary institutions would necessarily make a one-size-fits-all rating system both specious and misleading.

Mr. Obama bowed to that pressure by dropping his plan to compare schools against one another and abandoning plans to tie public funding to the results of the system. He also walked back expectations by changing the “ratings system” to a “scorecard,” saying the comparisons should be left to others.

Still, the watered-down scorecard didn’t please the higher-education establishment, which has a long track record of blocking federal accountability measures.

 

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-college-scorecard-provides-figures-on-graduate-earnings-debt-1442052321

Obama and the Middle East – By Marc Lynch September/October 2015 Issue


Rightsizing the U.S. Role

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Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East strategy often complain that Obama lacks a strategic vision. This is almost exactly wrong. Obama came to office with a conviction that reducing the United States’ massive military and political investment in the Middle East was a vital national security interest in its own right. The occupation of Iraq and the excesses of the war on terrorism had left the United States overextended, especially at a time of economic crisis. “Rightsizing” the United States’ footprint in the region meant not only reducing its material presence but also exercising restraint diplomatically, stepping back and challenging allies to take greater responsibility for their own security. Obama has adhered consistently to this strategy, prioritizing it ruthlessly along the way and firmly resisting efforts to force it off track. This was not a strategy much beloved in Washington or in a region hard-wired for the exercise of American power. But it was a clear and coherent strategy that led Obama to undertake major initiatives on the problems he viewed as rising to the level of core national security interests: Iran’s nuclear weapons program, terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the war in Iraq.

Yet for all of Obama’s analytic acuity, the implementation of his policies has often floundered. His administration has consistently failed to deliver on the promises raised by his inspirational speeches. It has struggled to communicate its policies effectively to publics in the Middle East and has been unable to explain obvious hypocrisies. Efforts to remain evenhanded and noninterventionist have infuriated partisans on all sides who wanted unconditional U.S. support rather than an honest broker.

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https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/obama-and-middle-east

The US may have to go after the ‘Great Firewall’ to stop China’s cyber-attacks – South China Morning Post Sun Aug 30 2015


 

obama china cyberAssociated PressUS President Barack Obama is expected to take a firm line on the issue of hacking during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit.

As the world recalls how two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan to end the second world war in Asia 70 years ago, a digital deterrent of a similar magnitude could be Washington’s only way to stop cyber attacks from the latest Asian aggressor, China, experts say.

United States president Barack Obama is due to entertain his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Washington next month on a state visit and the issue of cyber espionage will “no doubt” be addressed, Obama said recently.

The issue rose to the fore in the wake of a major attack this summer on the US Office of Personnel Management, which saw hackers make off with the personal information of over four million current and former federal workers.

Officials have pointed the finger at hackers linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army, saying the data poses a security risk as it contains military records and other sensitive information, potentially including state secrets.

“We absolutely have to do something,” said Dennis Poindexter, author of The New Cyberwar: Technology and the Redefinition of Warfare.

As such hacks become more audacious the US needs the cyber equivalent of a nuclear deterrent, added Poindexter, a former faculty member at the Defence Security Institute under the US department of defence.

He pointed to this year’s OPM hack as an example of Chinese hackers inadvertently crossing the line of “acceptable” state espionage.

Former head of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Michael Hayden told the Washington Post after the attack that “if I could have done it [as head of the NSA], I would have done it in a heartbeat”.

“You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” said US director of national intelligence James Clapper in June, referring to the sophistication of the hack.

Article continues:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-may-have-to-go-after-the-great-firewall-to-stop-chinas-cyber-attacks-2015-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Martha’s Vineyard, black elites ponder the past year – By SARAH WHEATON 8/22/15 8:02 AM EDT


As Obama vacations on the island, an upper-class gathering grapples with a year of unrest.

US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd R) walk from Marine One upon arrival on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, August 7, 2015. The Obama family is starting a 2-week vacation. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

EDGARTOWN, Mass. – For America’s black elite, this year’s seasonal sojourn to Martha’s Vineyard turned into a soul-searching retreat.

 

The shooting of a young, unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., last year did little to disrupt the annual idyll of upper-class blacks on this island 1,200 miles away. Photos showed President Barack Obama dancing at a soiree for political power couple Vernon and Ann Jordan as Ferguson burned. The next afternoon he delivered an anodyne statement urging calm without mentioning race.

Obama returned this year for his sixth summer in office on Martha’s Vineyard, the island off the Massachusetts coast that has been a vacation destination for upwardly mobile African Americans for more than a century. But this year, many of the black doctors, lawyers, executives, professors and politicians who gather here to enjoy the sunshine, surf and cultural events are grappling with the realization that there may not be quite as much to celebrate as they once hoped.

Yes, the country has been led by a black president for nearly seven years. But images from body cameras and smart phones that have splashed police killings of unarmed black men across televisions and the Internet over the past year have forced the black elite to recognize — along with the rest of America — that their highest tide has left some boats sinking faster than ever.

“Middle-class African-Americans, the upper echelon, need to be cognizant of that,” said Linda D. Gaines, a regular summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard. “We cannot go back to our comfortable abodes and forget the struggle even though we don’t live next-door to less fortunate communities.”

The strides African Americans have taken in the American political establishment are on full display here each year. While Martha’s Vineyard has played host to black leaders for generations – Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X vacationed here – the top figures no longer lead protests. They lead the government.

 

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France train shooting: Americans overpower gunman on Paris express – Angelique Chrisafis in Paris Saturday 22 August 2015 06.30 EDT


Police investigate incident near Arras, France, in which three US citizens – two of them soldiers – prevented attack by suspect reportedly armed with AK-47

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French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve praises the brave actions of two train passengers who reportedly helped overpower the gunman – link to video

A heavily armed gunman has opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris before being overpowered by three US citizens, two of whom were soldiers.

Two people were injured in the attack, including one of the Americans, who was admitted to hospital with serious injuries to his hand that needed surgery.

Barack Obama described the men as heroic following the attack on Friday.

Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman after the attack on the train.

Pinterest Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman after the attack on the train. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A British passenger, Chris Norman, helped the Americans tie up the suspect, and French anti-terrorist police are now questioning him. He was arrested after the train made an emergency stop at Arras, near the French-Belgian border.

The suspect’s motive was not immediately known, but French prosecutors said counter-terrorism investigators were launching an inquiry. According to early briefings, the gunman, 26, was known to French intelligence services and was Moroccan or of Moroccan origin.

Belgian prosecutors said on Saturday they had formally opened an anti-terrorism investigation. “We have opened an inquiry as the suspect boarded the train in Brussels,” Eric van der Sypt, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said.

The shooting happened just before 6pm in the last carriage of the train, which was carrying 554 passengers. The man had several weapons in his luggage, including a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and razor blades.

Two of the Americans were in the military, their travelling companion and childhood friend Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, said.

The one injured was named as air force serviceman Spencer Stone from Sacramento, California. The other was Alek Skarlatos, of Roseburg, Oregon.

“We heard a gunshot and we heard glass breaking behind us and saw a train employee sprint past us down the aisle,” Sadler said. The trio then saw a gunman entering the carriage with an automatic rifle, he added.

“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells: ‘Spencer, go!’ and Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.”

 

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/21/amsterdam-paris-train-gunman-france

Black Lives Matter isn’t stopping – By SARAH WHEATON 8/20/15 5:10 AM EDT


And President Obama could be next, the group’s co-founder tells POLITICO.

Patrisse Cullors from the 'Black Lives Matter' alliance leads a protest outside the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's home as they try to force him to fire LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, in Los Angeles, California on June 7, 2015. The alliance have renewed protests after a recent report from an LAPD watchdog determined that the August 11, 2014 officer-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South Central was justified.        AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. – Memo to 2016 candidates from Black Lives Matter: We will continue to disrupt your events no matter what you do or say, and we won’t stop anytime soon.

There’s more. The movement, whose angry exchange with Hillary Clinton was revealed this week following an earlier shout-down of Bernie Sanders, has a potential new target: Barack Obama.

He may be the first black president, but he won’t be immune, said #Blacklivesmatter network co-founder Patrisse Cullors in an interview with POLITICO on Martha’s Vineyard, the president’s vacation spot, where she is participating this week in racial-justice panels.

Cullors, a 31-year-old Fulbright scholar and former activist for prisoners’ rights, co-founded Black Lives Matter as a grass-roots response to police killings and other violent acts against inner-city blacks. The group has veered sharply away from other civil-rights organizations with its Occupy-like rhetoric and disruptive tactics.

The persistent chanting and stage-crashing have successfully thrown off candidates from Republican Jeb Bush to Sanders, the Socialist running for the Democratic nod.

 

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What Obama 
Gets Wrong – By Bret Stephens September/October 2015 Issue


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Gideon Rose’s intriguing essay on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy raises a vexing question: When does the statute of limitations on blaming President George W. Bush for the record of the current administration finally expire?

Rose devotes much of his article to rehearsing a litany of the Bush administration’s sins in an effort to persuade readers that Obama inherited a uniquely bad set of cards when he came to the White House—a “mess,” as the president liked to say—and must therefore be judged accordingly. But this is doubtful as a matter of history and past its sell-by date as a form of apology.

Every president inherits a mixed bag when he comes to office, and Obama’s was hardly the worst. Yes, he became president in the midst of a steep economic downdraft. But so did Bush after the bursting of the dot-com bubble (compounded shortly thereafter by the attacks of September 11), as did President Ronald Reagan after the stagflation of the Carter years, as did President Gerald Ford in the wake of the Arab oil embargo. Yes, Obama took over two wars from Bush—just as President Richard Nixon inherited Vietnam from President Lyndon Johnson and President Dwight Eisenhower inherited Korea from President Harry Truman. But at least the war in Iraq was all but won by 2009, thanks largely to the very surge Obama had opposed as a senator. And yes, the United States’ brand had been tarnished by Bush’s “war on terror” policies, much as it had been in a previous generation by the war in Vietnam. But that only helped burnish Obama’s incoming reputation as a redeemer president, earning him immense political capital at home and goodwill abroad right from the start, capped by a Nobel Peace Prize.

Every president inherits a mixed bag when he comes to office, and Obama’s was hardly the worst.

Obama’s supporters also need to acknowledge that they cannot celebrate the president’s supposed successes at one point and then disavow responsibility later when those successes turn to dust. If Obama can take credit for putting the core of al Qaeda “on the path to defeat” and bringing the war on terror effectively to an end—as he did at the National Defense University in May 2013, to much liberal applause—then it becomes difficult for him to evade responsibility for the resurgence of jihadism in the two years since then. If the administration can celebrate the success of its Iraq policy in 2012 (“What is beyond debate,” said Antony Blinken, one of Obama’s senior foreign policy advisers, “is that Iraq today is less violent, more democratic and more prosperous, and the United States more deeply engaged there, than at any time in recent history”), then maybe Bush can be exempted from blame for Iraq’s travails in 2014.

 

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What Obama 
Gets Right – By Gideon Rose September/October 2015 Issue


How should one judge a president’s handling of foreign policy? Some focus on what happens in a few lonely moments of crisis, casting the nation’s leader as Horatius at the bridge or Casey at the bat. But a better analogy would be a member of a relay team or a middle relief pitcher: somebody who takes over from a predecessor, does a hard job for a while, and then passes things on to the next guy.

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In baseball, there are special statistics used to judge such players, the hold and the blown save, which essentially tally whether the pitcher’s team keeps or loses the lead while he’s in the game. Looked at in such a light, Barack Obama has done pretty well. Having inherited two wars and a global economic crisis from the George W. Bush administration—the foreign policy equivalent of runners on base with no outs—Obama has extricated the country from some old problems, avoided getting trapped in some new ones, and made some solid pickups on the side.

There have been errors, wild pitches, and lost opportunities. But like George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further. Given how many administrations fail even that limited test, such an accomplishment is worthy of praise rather than the contempt the administration’s foreign policy often receives.

The key to Obama’s success has been his grasp of the big picture: his appreciation of the liberal international order that the United States has nurtured over the last seven decades, together with his recognition that the core of that order needed to be salvaged by pulling back from misguided adventures and feuds in the global periphery. The president is variously painted as a softheaded idealist, a cold-blooded realist, or a naive incompetent. But he is actually best understood as an ideological liberal with a conservative temperament—somebody who felt that after a period of reckless overexpansion and belligerent unilateralism, 
the country’s long-term foreign policy goals could best be furthered by short-term retrenchment. In this, he was almost certainly correct, and with the necessary backpedaling having been accomplished, Washington can turn its attention to figuring out how to 
get the liberal order moving forward once again.

Article continues:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/what-obama-gets-right

Obama to mandate steeper emissions cuts from US power plants – August 2, 2015 10:43AM ET Updated August 3, 2015 3:35AM ET


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President Barack Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, senior administration officials said Sunday, in what the president called the most significant step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming.

year after proposing unprecedented carbon dioxide limits, Obama was poised to finalize the rule at a White House event on Monday. In a video posted to Facebook, Obama said the limits were backed up by decades of data showing that without tough action, the world will face more extreme weather and escalating health problems like asthma.

“Climate change is not a problem for another generation,” Obama said. “Not anymore.”

The president called the new rules “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”

Opponents vowed to sue immediately, and planned to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have threatened not to comply.

In his initial proposal, Obama had mandated a 30 percent nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The final version will require a 32 percent cut instead, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.

The final rule also gives states an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, officials said, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. States will also have until 2018 instead of 2017 to submit their plans for how they’ll meet their targets.

 

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/8/2/obama-to-mandate-steeper-emissions-cuts-from-us-power-plants.html

The Real State of the Economy – Andrew Serge july 31 2015


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As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama vied for the Oval Office back in 2012, the U.S. teetered on the edge of another recession. And no one knew about it until now.

The Labor Department on Thursday released the country’s gross domestic product results for the second quarter. The economy expanded a modest 2.3 percent in April, May and June of 2015 after a meager 0.6 percent uptick in the first quarter. While the headline numbers fell short of analysts’ expectations, it was the revisions to previous years’ data that were arguably the most intriguing.

[READ: GDP Gains in Second Quarter, Revised Upward in First]

“The revisions show a recovery from the Great Recession that has been lackluster,” Gus Faucher, senior macroeconomist at PNC Financial Services Group, wrote in a research note Thursday. “This included a small downward revision to growth in 2012 (2.3 percent to 2.2 percent), a big downward revision to growth in 2013 (2.2 percent to 1.5 percent), and no revision to growth in 2014 (2.4 percent).”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis spent the last few months updating its seasonal adjustment methodology, allowing it to tweak GDP releases as far back as 2011. A series of weaker-than-expected first quarter GDP reports over the last several years led the bureau in May to start looking into potential flaws in its calculations.

Those revisions were published Thursday and likely weren’t what Americans wanted to see. For five consecutive quarters (or 15 months) in 2012 and 2013, the U.S. economy’s growth rate fell short of the country’s benchmark 2 percent. Over that five-quarter window beginning in April 2012, the economy averaged only 1.1 percent growth per quarter.

But in the third and fourth quarters of 2012, when America was in the throes of a political battle for the White House, the U.S. economy almost plunged off the deep end. The economy expanded only 0.5 percent in the third quarter and 0.1 percent in the fourth. Though the fourth quarter’s 0.1 percent growth was unrevised from previous reports, the third quarter’s GDP was originally thought to have clocked in at a much stronger 2.8 percent.

http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/07/31/consumer-confidence-and-americas-close-call-with-recession?int=a14709