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Would you kindly bear with me a little while I have a good old moan, please? I'm feeling rather wretched. No, not because I've finally kicked a lingering lurgy that turned out to be bronchitis, but because one of the reasons I blame for the illness is back: the Harmattan.

The Two-Way

Video: Haboob, A Huge Dust Storm, Hits Phoenix Area

You know that saying about an ill wind? Well, that ill wind is the Harmattan. Seasonal sandy, dust-filled, hot, trade winds blow in from the Sahara Desert and sweep across West Africa, including the coastal curve — and directly down my throat and into my lungs and increasingly constricted chest.

OK, ok. That may not be a scientific assessment, but that's how it feels, so please indulge me!


The view from the author's home in Accra, Ghana. The buildings in the background are typically bright green and red, but a blanket of Harmattan haze has dulled their colors. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR

The view from the author's home in Accra, Ghana. The buildings in the background are typically bright green and red, but a blanket of Harmattan haze has dulled their colors.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR

The Harmattan, a land wind, blows from the northeast, often starts in January (the cool season) and sometimes continues through to March — though winds come and go, without much notice.

There's a Harmattan haze hovering over downtown Dakar that looks all too familiar. The malevolent mantle of dust and sand, that's threatening to settle, comes after gusty, dusty weather, with winds whistling through the streets of the city center.

It usually carries large amounts of dust, which it transports hundreds of miles out over the Atlantic Ocean. The dust often interferes with aircraft operations and settles on the decks of ships.

The same dust-laden winds that blanketed Accra when I was back home in Ghana last month — and where I fell ill — seem to have followed me across West Africa to Senegal, where majestic and mighty baobab trees and palm trees are sprinkled with a layer of dust.

Pedestrians are covering their mouths and noses with scarves and shawls for protection. And fast food motorbike delivery riders are wearing mouth masks.

Some days, visibility was limited to about 150 yards in Accra, and then the haze would lift and, psychologically, you would feel a little better.

When I was a child, I remember being told "children get sick during the Harmattan season," so take care and don't be ill.

This year it's not only children. On plane journeys, on the street, just about everywhere, I seem to hear adults and kids coughing, like the relentless cough I just couldn't shake. I'm so sure this lingering seasonal Harmattan, which descends on us, then disappears, is one of the causes of these lurgies.

A Dakar-based pulmonologist told me asthma sufferers get worse during the Harmattan, wheezing, whistling and rattling even more than usual. Keep that pump handy.

And surely it can't be a coincidence that chest and throat infections seem to be on the increase? Must be all that germ-filled dust we're gobbling up.

But the Harmattan winds are not only a risk to humans and health. Agriculture is also feeling the effect; regional cocoa trees are suffering. (Yes, the cocoa that produces the chocolate you crave.).

The cocoa crop in Africa's two top exporters, Ivory Coast and Ghana, has been hit by the Harmattan, we're told.

Farmers and analysts warn that the worst Harmattan winds in several years may lower output and cut production. As the seasonal gusts blow down from the Sahara, they blanket the cocoa-growing regions in dust, which lowers temperatures and blocks out sunlight.

In Ivory Coast, blossoms and small pods that were visible this time last year are apparently missing from the cocoa trees this season.

And here in Dakar, usually bright blue skies have turned horrid and hazy, with an almost yellowy tinge.

So that's why I'm feeling rather miffed — because I was hoping we were finished with the Harmattan this year. But the ill-wind looks as if it wants to pester us a little longer.

I read somewhere that the rather lyrical name "Harmattan" originates from the Akan-Twi word haramata, which could possibly come from the Arabic haram, meaning "evil thing." Evil works for me. Begone!

West Africa


Forty years ago, Mark Bell — a Brooklyn kid who was pretty good at the drums — was invited to join the punk band the Ramones. One name change, many records, tours and death-defying adventures later, Marky Ramone has written a memoir of about his career, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone.

The other Mark(y) famous for his contribution to pop music was Mark Wahlberg, back in the days when he was Marky Mark. We'll see if Ramone can correctly answer two out of three questions about Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

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Read an excerpt of Discontent and Its Civilizations

Discontent and Its Civilizations

Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London

by Mohsin Hamid

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Read an excerpt

Mohsin Hamid has been called a water lily for the way he's drifted from place to place. The 43-year-old novelist and essayist, born in Lahore, has established roots, grown and thrived in places as disparate as Pakistan, London, California and New York. He's best known as the author of the 2007 international bestseller The Reluctant Fundamentalist which has been published in 30 different languages, was shortlisted for Britain's Man Booker Prize and was made into a 2013 movie directed by Mira Nair.

Hamid's professional life began in the business world, not in book writing. After attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School, he worked as a management consultant in New York. But his first novel, Moth Smoke, published in 2000, launched him into the literary spotlight. The story of a dissolute former banker in Lahore, Moth Smoke was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, given for an outstanding debut work of fiction.

Hamid went on to publish two more novels and eventually left New York for Lahore, where he lives with his wife and two children. His new book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London, explores some of his thinking, reflection and recollection over the past 15 years. Speaking with Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition Saturday, he examines some of the fissures of the post-9/11 world, the value of "mongrelization" — and the power of love.

Interview Highlights

On being an outsider

"I was born in Pakistan and came to America when I was three, and I spoke Urdu fluently. But I arrived in America and quickly discovered from the kids around me that I didn't know how to speak, because I couldn't speak English.

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Second-Person Narrator Tells Readers 'How To' Live, Love — And Get Filthy Rich

"So I learned English, forgot Urdu, went back to Pakistan at nine, and discovered, of course, that once again I did not speak properly. So I learned Urdu. And I bounced around between America and Pakistan and Britain for most of my life.

"So I'm somebody who can blend in usually quite quickly — but inside continues to retain a sense of feeling foreign."

On re-thinking the presumed link between poverty and terrorism

"I don't think terrorism is only the poor man's politics. I don't think that that narrative is complete, so it's probably worth us reexamining it.

"But I think at a deeper level, what we see is people are becoming hybridized, mongrelized. They're becoming Western, Muslim, American, Pakistani — at the same time. And if we can encourage that kind of hybridization, mongrelization, and look at it as a good thing, I think we're relatively safe.

"But if we start looking at it as a bad thing (and many people do) then a desire is born to try to separate one's self, one's different parts — to not be Pakistani and American or Muslim and European, but to pick sides. And when that happens, you see young people feeling they have to reject what they think they are becoming. They are becoming tainted by becoming Westernized. And so, in a way, the war is a war with part of themselves."

On the drawbacks of drones

"I think that it's completely understandable that the United States would wish to deploy drones in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, I think that they're deeply counterproductive for a number of different reasons.

"One is, of course, they do kill innocent people. Two is that — even when they kill people who aren't innocent — they have the effect of allowing, in a country like Pakistan, the continued view that America is to blame, that America's intervention is to blame, for extremism in Pakistan.

"And of course, America has played some role in extremism developing in Pakistan. But I think Pakistanis have to recognize — and many do recognize — that the most important role has been played by Pakistanis themselves. And so the drones prevent Pakistan from basically taking the lead in its own effort to eradicate these extremists.

"Nobody from outside can police it. Pakistanis have to come to the conclusion that they have to fight this fight for themselves, and drones, I think, prevent that from happening."

On love

"All of my novels are love stories, in a way. And — and I think, in a way, I think love is kind of the plot in our lives, you know? The early loves we have, the loves of our parents when we're kids, the loves of our friends. Romantic love, love for children, you know — all of that, that's what provides the structure on which human lives are built. ...

"And it's in a way embedded in the culture and even religion of the part of Pakistan I'm from — which is that one of the ways in which we can confront the horror of being mortal and dying one day is to love enough that we're not so central to ourselves that we can't face the fact that we're going to end.

"And I think in these times, when you see politicized religions and all kinds of extremisms and the market taking over everything, love, in a way — it sounds like a soft thing to say, but I think the ability to feel for others is a potential way out."

Mohsin Hamid




As we reported late Friday, the House managed to approve a one-week extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which President Obama signed. The passage capped a day of scrambling that saw a longer three-week stopgap shot down in the House.

But the thorny issue that has weighed on a longer-term funding bill — an insistence by Republicans that it include a push-back on the president's executive action on immigration — is still in the air. And the clock is ticking on the fresh deadline to resolve the impasse.

Where might things go from here?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Republicans said they expected that next week the House would end up going along with the Senate's bill funding Homeland Security through September without immigration changes. 'I don't think there's any alternative,' said Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) 'When we're at the end of next week, what do we do?'

"An aide to House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the Republican leader had made no commitment, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said she expected the one-week measure would buy the time to pass a funding measure that would cover the remainder of the fiscal year."

Politico adds:

"Boehner's allies are concerned after Friday's setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility. ...

"Twenty-five Republicans voted against Boehner for speaker on the floor in early January, signaling his continued problems with his conservative hardliners. And Boehner's allies believe that the earlier DHS debacle on Friday, when 52 Republicans voted against the three-week plan, was in part aimed at toppling the speaker."

The Hill notes:

"Pelosi ... didn't explain why she and the Democrats — who were adamantly opposed to a three-week extension — suddenly reversed course to accept the one-week deal just a few hours later.

"The Democratic leaders declined to comment on whether their agreement to the seven-day deal came with assurances that the House would vote on the Senate's 'clean' DHS bill providing funding through September."

House Speaker John Boehner

House leadership


Department of Homeland Security

Sadiqu al-Mousllie sees humor as a good way to fight growing anti-Islam sentiment in Germany.

He lives in Braunschweig, in western Germany. Earlier this month, he decided to go downtown and hold up a sign that read, "I am a Moslem. What would you like to know?"

"This is a bridge of communication," the Syrian-born German says. "Some people dared to ask, some others not, so we went to them and give them some chocolate and a say of our prophet to know what Muslims are thinking about."

Mousllie, 44, says he hopes to do it every other week.

Several members of his mosque — including his Danish wife, Camilla, and their 17-old daughter, Sarah — joined him on the first outing.

The teen says many passersby were curious about her and her mother's Islamic headscarves.

"The weirdest question I got was if I'm showering with my hijab," Sarah says. "And I'm just — no, I don't shower with hijab, how should I do that? No one showers with their clothes on."


Born in Syria, Mousllie (shown here with his 17-year-old daughter, Sarah) came to Germany more than 20 years ago and is now a German citizen. Soraya Nelson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Soraya Nelson/NPR

Born in Syria, Mousllie (shown here with his 17-year-old daughter, Sarah) came to Germany more than 20 years ago and is now a German citizen.

Soraya Nelson/NPR

Her mother, who converted to Islam, says many Germans are equally confused about her being Muslim.

"They don't know ... where do I belong," says Camilla Mousllie, 42. "Some are confused and ask: Are the Danish people Muslim?"

But Sarah says she doesn't mind answering strange questions if it can help put to rest any misconceptions about Muslims and open up a dialogue with non-Muslims.

Their community in Germany is under increasing scrutiny after several recent threats and fatal attacks linked to Islamic extremists in Europe. The scrutiny sparked criticism from German Muslim leaders, who say it's is unwarranted and alienates Muslim citizens who've worked hard to integrate into German society.

Misinformation and discrimination, the dentist says, often hit Muslim children — including his own — the hardest.

Born in Damascus, Mousllie came to Germany nearly a quarter century ago to study; he eventually settled here and became a German citizen.

His five children, who were born in Germany, are Danish citizens like their mother, but they largely identify as German, Mousllie says. So when his son was in fourth grade and was told he didn't belong, the boy was upset.

"A friend of his in the class, he told [my son]: 'You are not a real German because your name is not German,' " Mousllie recalls. "That was a very bad situation for him. I felt it was like a world falling down for himself because he felt, well, am I part of this country or not?"

In recent years, Mousllie says he's been asking himself the same question.

At his specialty dental practice, Mousllie says he is treated like any other German. Outside the office, it's another matter.

"It's getting more difficult because a lot of Islamophobic themes are coming, people now mixing Islam and terror, so we have to explain a lot," he says.

Also alarming, Mousllie says, is the rising number of incidents against Muslims and mosques around Germany, including an attack three months ago in Braunschweig on a Syrian-born woman wearing hijab whose foot was run over by a car.

"You keep thinking what about my children, what about my family, how it's going to be in two years," he says.

Mousllie says watching democracy in Germany inspired him to fight for similar freedoms in his native Syria, and he serves as the German representative of the opposition Syrian National Council.

At home in Germany, as the Lower Saxony spokesman for Germany's Central Council of Muslims, Mousllie says he's tried to get authorities to help reduce tensions, including by not using what he and others in the Muslim community view as inappropriate words — for example, Islamism — when talking about extremists.

His efforts suffered a setback on Feb. 15 when Braunschweig authorities canceled a famous annual Carnival because of what Police Chief Michael Pientka called an Islamist-related terror threat.

"We know we have an Islamist scene here," Pientka told reporters, adding that from now on, the authorities would be watching it more closely.





Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister turned prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead today on a street in central Moscow, the Interior Ministry told the Interfax news agency.

The Russian-language news website Meduza reported that Nemtsov was walking with a woman near the Kremlin at the time of the attack. A spokesman told Interfax that at least seven shots were fired at Nemtsov from a passing car.

Police are investigating, Interfax said.

Nemstov, 55, was the head of the opposition Republican Party of Russia-People's Freedom Party. He served as governor of the Novgorod region and as deputy prime minister in the 1990s. As NPR reported in 2007, in the 1990s Nemtsov "was an icon of democratic reform, a crusading minister anointed by former President Boris Yeltsin to be his political heir."

He later became an opposition leader and sharp critic of Putin.

Last year Nemtsov was among opposition leaders who gathered in Moscow to protest the government's crackdown on independent media and opposition groups. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported at the time Nemtsov likened the mood in Russia to "Germany of the 1930s when Adolf Hitler called anyone who disagreed with him a traitor."

"It's honestly like in the Hitler time," Nemtsov said at the time. "If you are against Putin, you are against Russia. If you are against Putin, you are American spy.

Boris Nemtsov


Andrea Pino was the first person in her family to go to college. When she found out that she had been admitted to the University of North Carolina she was thrilled. "Not only was I going to college — I was going to my dream school," she says. "... I was definitely one of those students that, you know, cried and threw their laptop on the floor and couldn't believe that I was going."

But Pino's college experience didn't turn out the way she had expected. "I never thought that these campuses were anything but safe," she says. But in her sophomore year, while at a party with friends, she "ended up being dragged in to a bathroom and violently sexually assaulted."

Pino tells her story in a new documentary called The Hunting Ground. She and Annie Clark, another assault survivor featured in the film, talk with NPR's Kelly McEvers about the problem of rape on college campuses and what they are doing to address it.

Interview Highlights

Andrea Pino struggled with whether or not to report the assault she experienced because she did not know the name of the perpetrator. "How could I tell somebody if I didn't even know what the whole story was?" she says. Courtesy of Radius hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Radius

On reporting the assault

Pino: I didn't really think about reporting it at first mainly because I didn't know who he was. I didn't have anyone that had seen what had happened. You know, how could I tell somebody if I didn't even know what the whole story was? And I ended up dropping my name in an anonymous reporting box that was actually created by Annie Clark when she came forward for the first time in 2007.

On the anonymous reporting boxes created by Clark

Clark: So when I was assaulted in 2007 I was actually met with a very victim-blaming response and I wasn't even trying to formally report, I was actually just trying to get resources. I talked to one campus employee and she gave me this extended metaphor about how rape was like a football game and I was the quarterback in charge and what would I have done differently in that situation.

And it was at that time that I decided that you shouldn't have to go in to an office and formally say something so I came up with the idea of anonymous reporting boxes. Literal boxes on the wall that had resources and also reporting forms so you could take a form without having to have that face-to-face initial conversation so it would be on your terms. Andrea used that box to report her own sexual assault and after realizing that I created it, she reached out to me. And so we started talking and realized that this was not an isolated incident, that it was a national epidemic and no one had really connected the dots because we had been looking at these cases in isolation.

On the research they did into Title IX

Pino: Title IX is a gender equity law and what it guarantees is equal access to educational programs. If you have a campus that has rampant sexual assault, there is no equal access, mainly because female students do not feel safe going to libraries, they do not take night classes, they do not feel safe walking home at night. And because of that the campus itself is not equal.

On the Title IX complaint they brought against the University of North Carolina that encouraged a lot of other assault survivors to tell their stories

"How are two 20-somethings going to take on a 200-year-old university and have it become a thing?"

- Annie Clark

Clark: It took a while for the issue to get traction because how are two 20-somethings going to take on a 200-year-old university and have it become a thing? And what we realized though, with the framing of it, we said this is not about UNC. We're not doing this to vilify our institution. In fact we love our institution, and it's because we love our institution that we have this sense of responsibility to call out you know when something's going wrong. And it's no accident that you can you know hear a story in New York and it matches one in Texas.

On the Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia and how the details of that article have come into question

Clark: The media just picks apart every bit of the survivor's story and what we know from research, particularly about trauma and memory, is that these stories — they're true, but, you know, you might remember some detail. I can talk about you know my own experience. I remember things very clearly, but I don't remember the exact time. Does that mean something didn't happen? And the answer is no. So we don't know what happened in Jackie's case. I don't know her. I haven't talked to her but I do believe something happened there — and the fact that UVA has been under investigation and that's not even brought in to this conversation — instead it's attacking the victim instead of looking at the systemic problem at UVA and other schools.

On whether their current efforts as activists have helped them process what happened

Pino: You know I think back to what got me to step up at my campus. It's that same motivation that gets me to come here to D.C. and lobby Congress and that gets me to go to different campuses and talk to students and help empower them, too.

More On Sexual Assault On Campus


The History Of Campus Sexual Assault

A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

Student Activists Keep Pressure On Campus Sexual Assault

A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

Some Accused Of Sexual Assault On Campus Say System Works Against Them

Shots - Health News

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

Clark: I definitely want to point out that there are many ways to heal and there are many ways to be an activist and that it's just simply doing what is right and best for you. And I think we need to trust survivors, especially in their decision to report and go to counseling and trusting them to know what's best for them.

On what they would say to their own sons or daughters before they left for college

Clark: I think for me, when or if I have kids, I would hope that we start talking about this issue way earlier. The fact that the first time, you know, many people hear about sexual assault is at college orientation is way too late.

Pino: I think it's the same thing I tell parents who are taking their kids on the tour you know as soon as you get on to campus and even before, you know what are the rights of Title IX? What are their rights as students? What resources do they have, and what schools do about it?

Clark: Yeah I would hope that all students know that they have a right to a safe education and fair learning environment. And I really hope that we put the burden on men to say: Don't rape. You know instead of telling women: Here's a safety whistle. That conversation needs to change. But I will say I know survivors out there are listening right now and I just would like them to know that it's not your fault, and I believe you, and you are not alone.

Rocker Gary Glitter, best known for the stadium rock anthem "Rock & Roll (Part 2)," was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sex offenses during the 1970s and '80s against three girls between the ages of 8 and 13.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was sentenced today for attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one of having sex with a girl under 13, the BBC reports. A jury found the 70-year-old guilty of the charges on Feb. 5, and Judge Alistair McCreath said then that Glitter would remain jailed until his sentencing.

"You did all of them real and lasting damage, and you did so for no other reason than to obtain sexual gratification for yourself of a wholly improper kind," McCreath said today.

The judge said despite the seriousness of the crimes, he was permitted to use only the more lenient guidelines of '70s and '80s while sentencing Glitter. For example, the charge of having sex with a child under 13 carries a life sentence today, but carried a seven-year sentence at that time.

Glitter, 70, showed no emotion as he left the dock, the BBC noted.

As we have previously reported, Glitter had denied the allegations.

He was convicted of child sex abuse in 2006 in Vietnam and sentenced to three years in prison. In 1999, he was convicted of possessing as many as 4,000 images of child abuse and jailed for four months.

Glitter was the first person to be arrested as part of the British investigation into allegations of child abuse against the late BBC television host Jimmy Savile.


Gary Glitter

child sex abuse

Jimmy Savile



More details are emerging about Mohammed Emwazi, the man identified as the ISIS figure who has beheaded hostages held by the extremist group. His name came out Thursday; now we're learning more about his past.

Emwazi was born in Kuwait and grew up in West London; he reportedly graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming.

There are two narratives about Emwazi's past that attempt to explain how he went from a well-to-do background to being internationally notorious.

One scenario was put forth by a British advocacy organization called CAGE, where a researcher says that when he met with Emwazi in the fall of 2009, he was incensed after having been detained by British security services, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports.

Listen to the Story

3 min 57 sec





"The implication has been that Emwazi was radicalized by that poor treatment," Dina says.

But another part of the story comes from court papers that were recently obtained by the BBC. They suggest that Emwazi had radical leanings before he was detained.

"These court papers filed back in 2011 say that Emwazi was part of a group known as the North London Boys," Dina says. "They had links to the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabab. The London Boys were allegedly funneling money and fighters to the group as far back as 2007."

A member of that group went to fight in Somalia in 2009 after saying he was traveling to Africa to go on safari — a story that Emwazi also told when he was stopped by authorities months later, Dina says.

After moving to Kuwait in 2010, Emwazi eventually reached Syria, in 2012.

Trying to piece together Emwazi's past, the British media has descended on a building in London where he is believed to have lived.

For a look at Emwazi's life when he graduated from college in 2009, here's The Guardian:

"By this time, Emwazi was said to be a polite, observant Muslim with a penchant for designer clothes. He was also a member of a loose-knit group of Muslim youths who played five-a-side football together, were educated at the same schools, attended the same mosques, and were all impressed by a particular preacher, Hani al-Sibai.

"Of that group, three are now dead, one is living in Sudan after being stripped of his British citizenship, a fourth cannot leave the UK for fear that he too will be deprived of his citizenship, and several are serving prison sentences."

Under the headline "Jihadi Junior," The Sun has printed a class photo that the newspaper says includes Emwazi at age 11. It adds that he was a fan of Manchester United.

U.S. and British authorities have not publicly confirmed Emwazi's identity, but intelligence officials in both countries have told journalists that they identified Emwazi months ago — and that they wanted to keep their discovery secret, due to operational reasons.

Mohammed Emwazi

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

The Obama administration is creating new protections for Americans saving and investing for retirement, but industry groups say the new rules could hurt the very people the president says he wants to help

Reining In Financial Advisers May Help — But Americans Still Aren't Saving

3 min 30 sec

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Obama Wants Rules That Force Brokers To Put Clients' Interests First

If you're building a retirement nest egg, big fees are the dangerous predators looking to feast on it. The White House says too many financial advisers get hidden kickbacks or sales incentives to steer responsible Americans toward bad retirement investments with low returns and high fees.

"If your business model rests on taking advantage of bilking hard-working Americans out of their retirement money, then you shouldn't be in business," Obama said Monday. "That's pretty straightforward."

The White House is directing the U.S. Department of Labor to craft new rules that require retirement advisers to put consumers' best interests ahead of their financial gain. But some industry groups are sounding the alarm.

"A sledgehammer is not needed where a regular hammer would fix the problem," the Financial Services Roundtable said in a statement.

Tim Pawlenty, the group's president and CEO, has another metaphor at the ready.

"There's always a few bad apples," says Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor. "We would encourage focusing on bad apples and removing them, instead of tipping over and smashing the whole apple cart."

"We don't want to get to a point where the red tape and bureaucracy and cost freezes lower income people from being able to take advantage of financial planning advice."

- Tim Pawlenty, Financial Services Roundtable

Pawlenty says that he hasn't seen details of the new rules yet, but that if the rules create burdensome regulation, financial planners might decide it's not worth working with people of modest means.

"We don't want to get to a point where the red tape and bureaucracy and cost freezes lower-income people from being able to take advantage of financial planning advice," he says.

But not all industry groups are so worried.

"There's a lot of overheated rhetoric," says Kevin Keller, the CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board, a voluntary standards group that certifies financial planners.

He says he supports what the White House is trying to do. The new rules would create what's called a "fiduciary standard," which is a requirement to act in a clients' best interest.


That Nest Egg Needs To Last As Long As You Do. So How Do You Start?

Some industry groups claim that the fiduciary standard will reduce the availability of financial advice for middle-class Americans, but Keller says that's not true. Still, everything depends on the actual language in the rules.

Kent Smetters, a Wharton School economist who served in the George W. Bush administration, says he supports the move by the White House. But he's also frustrated by existing regulations.

For example, he says, stock brokers already are held to a fiduciary standard, but have found loopholes, so brokers can still get commissions for steering people into bad investments with high fees.

"Literally, this is legal," Smetters says. "I could say to you, 'Chris, I have your best interests in mind, I think you should invest in this fund x, y, z.'

"That first half of the sentence, I really had your best interests in mind," he adds. "The second half of the sentence, I take off my fiduciary hat, and you don't know any better because after all you're going there for is advice. You don't have a clue. It's just screwing over middle-class households."

consumer protection

financial regulation



Scientists have learned a lot about our distant ancestors from DNA that's thousands of years old. Like the fact that we've inherited some Neanderthal DNA, so apparently our ancestors mated with them. Now there's new research from DNA that moves on from paleo-mating to paleo-eating.

About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers in the Near East figured out how to grow cereal crops like wheat. The farming culture spread, and wherever it went, people traded in their spears for plows.

That's the conventional view. Apparently, it was more complicated than that.

Evidence comes from archaeologists who've been digging into Bouldnor Cliff, a submerged prehistoric site off the coast of the Isle of Wight, in the south of Great Britain. They found tools, burned nut shells, animal remains and worked wood.

"We sort of got the lunch spot of this boat-building workshop 8,000 years ago," says Robin Allaby, a molecular archaeologist at the University of Warwick in England.

He says even though the locals could build boats, they were still hunter-gatherers. Agriculture didn't take off in Britain for another 2,000 years.

And yet, he found DNA from cultivated wheat along with the lunchtime paraphernalia. He didn't find any wheat pollen at all, so it wasn't grown there. In fact, there's never been evidence that wheat was cultivated in Britain earlier than about 6,000 years ago.


Divers recover items from Bouldnor Cliff, a submerged, prehistoric settlement site off the coast of the Isle of Wight, U.K. Along with lunchtime paraphernalia, divers also found ancient DNA from cultivated wheat. Courtesy of Roland Brookes hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Roland Brookes

Divers recover items from Bouldnor Cliff, a submerged, prehistoric settlement site off the coast of the Isle of Wight, U.K. Along with lunchtime paraphernalia, divers also found ancient DNA from cultivated wheat.

Courtesy of Roland Brookes

Which meant the Brits must have been getting wheat from someone else, grown somewhere else.

Writing in the journal Science, Allaby says apparently, Stone Age Britons weren't isolated on their little island. It seems they were getting their wheat from Europe, where agriculture had already established itself.

The Salt

Why Humans Took Up Farming: They Like To Own Stuff

"They were perfectly happy with using the products of agriculture," he says, "but they didn't actually start farming themselves. They were interacting with the farmers some ways away, contributing to this process (of creating a Neolithic agricultural society), which is not the conventional view."

He suspects that farmers from what is now France established a regular wheat trade across the English Channel, which was narrower and shallower at the time. Which meant that the Stone Age Brits could have their cake and eat it, too.





Not too many years ago, nearly half of the kids diagnosed with cancer in Guatemala wouldn't come in for treatment. There wasn't much chemotherapy to be had, and parents didn't think treatments worked. Most children with curable cancers died.

The situation is similar in many poor countries. There's little money for cancer care throughout the developing world. So whether or not you survive cancer depends on the country you live in, one recent study showed.

Two doctors — on opposite sides of the world — are working to change that. Dr. Chite Asirwa of Kenya and Dr. Federico Antillon of Guatemala are part of a growing number of health workers who believe it's time to stop accepting cancer as a death sentence in poor countries. At the end of January, Asirwa and Antillon were in Seattle to share what they've learned with the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Goats and Soda

Your Odds Of Surviving Cancer Depend Very Much On Where You Live

Asirwa has picked an unlikely weapon against childhood cancers: a yellow tent hanging between a hospital and a cinderblock wall.

His route to that tent was a winding path that started during the early days of the HIV epidemic. He was training at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya. He remembers wheeling nearly a dozen patients to the morgue when he was on weekend duty. "I said what kind of profession was I getting into if I was just presiding over the dead?"

But then HIV became treatable. And people with HIV-associated cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma and cervical cancer started getting treatment in the AIDS unit.

"It dawned on me that cancer can also be conquered," Asirwa says.

So over the past three years, Asirwa figured how to treat cancers at Moi Hospital. He joined AMPATH-Kenya, a partnership between Indiana University and Moi Hospital originally set up to treat HIV but has expanded to treat cancer. AMPATH is training health professionals in Kenya. Several pharmaceutical companies are donating drugs to treat cancer.

Shots - Health News

Son's Rare Cancer Leads Family On Quest For Cure

"The moment [people] knew there was some form of cancer care at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, they started coming in truckloads," Asirwa says.

But the hospital didn't have a place for chairs for patients to sit in while getting treated, or for the IV poles used to dispense chemotherapy. So Asirwa took the unit outdoors: "We built a small tent just outside our clinical space," he says.

The tent may not be needed much longer. The project has been so successful that the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation and Indiana University have given $5 million for a new cancer treatment center at Moi Hospital, which will include 60 beds and two radiation units. It's scheduled to open in April.

But the chemotherapy tent won't go to waste. Asirwa says it might be a good place for blood transfusions.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in Guatemala, the key to cancer care was fried chicken, and the first stop was Memphis, Tennessee.

Federico Antilln spent three years there studying hematology and oncology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. When he returned to Guatemala, he had little access to cancer therapies. And other doctors at his hospital weren't interested in treating children with cancer.

"When a patient with cancer got sick and had to go to the ICU, they wouldn't accept the patient," he remembers. "They said, 'He has cancer, he's not going to live, why should we spend resources on someone who is not going to make it?' "

A few years earlier, Antillon and others had found that about 40 percent of the children diagnosed with cancer at two public hospitals in Guatemala abandoned treatment. Their families couldn't afford it, or they didn't think treatment worked. And many parents didn't even bring their children in for diagnosis until it was too late.

When he was at St. Jude's, Antillon had seen the good that chemo could do. And St. Jude's was interested in seeing what could be done about cancer in developing countries.

So St. Jude's gave Antillon seed money to train doctors, buy equipment and pay for nurses and others at the National Pediatric Oncology Unit in Guatemala City. The unit is part of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin.

Then Antillon went looking for more money. He began with the head of Pollo Campero, a fried chicken franchise with outlets in 12 countries, including the U.S. Then money came in from Pepsi, a Guatemalan bank and several other places. Finally, Antillon had enough to start a foundation called "Ayudame a Vivir" ("Help Me To Live").

The National Pediatric Oncology Unit now has a specialized cancer unit, with 60 beds and its own ICU, educated nurses, a pain care program, psychological support and more. It also pays transportation for patients and parents and for lodging in the city, and provides — for the poorest families — a food basket so parents don't have to worry if they have to miss work to help their children.

Antillon's big challenge now is getting children into the hospital early in their cancers. Late diagnoses make curable childhood cancers incurable.

He wants more, of course. "The hospital is already saturated," he says. "The beds are filled." On his dream list is a top of the line 21st-century facility.

"It should happen in every country," Antillon says — only not necessarily with a tent or fried chicken funding.

childhood cancer

Global Health


Small was considered an erotic romance writer before the genre existed, and, despite her occasionally controversial plot choices, she remained a beloved and celebrated figure in the romance community, giving generously of her time and experience as a mentor and friend of the industry. She was fierce in her love of romance, and completely unapologetic about her bold sexual storytelling; authors across the globe are tweeting and posting Facebook tributes to Small, but I found this one from Teresa Medeiros especially poignant and illuminating.

"I had the pleasure of knowing Bertrice personally and I'm proud to say she was a true 'broad' in the very best tradition of the term," Medeiros writes. "She had a 'take-no-prisoners' attitude toward publishing and writing and a lusty laugh and appreciation for life that made you feel more alive whenever you were around her. Her kind will not come again."

The Romance Writers of America gave Small their highest honor in 2014, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James presented it. You can see her introduction here, a witty and elegant overview of Small's extraordinary career.

James ended her speech with the words Bob Cratchit uses in A Christmas Carol, toasting Ebenezer Scrooge as "the founder of our feast." "Bertrice's trailblazing, sensual, historical novels blazed a trail that has helped many of us — myself included — bring home the bacon," she said. "In many, many real ways, Bertrice is the founder of our feast."

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis. She writes, blogs and reviews for Kirkus Media, and celebrates romance and women's fiction on her website ReadARomanceMonth.com

On the late 19th century scientist Charles-douard Brown-Squard

He was one of the great scientists of the 19th century; he's regarded as the founder of endocrinology, the study of glands. When he got to be about 70 years old he wasn't feeling so hot and he started to wonder why. He thought the answer had to do with something produced in the gonads, so he mixed up a little mixture of crushed up dog testicles, testicular blood and semen, mixed it all up and injected himself with it for a period of about three weeks. In 1889, he gave a triumphant address to the society of biology in Paris describing this experiment and how it had miraculously rejuvenated him, an old man, he could work through the night now, he could lift much more weight, he could urinate farther, all these fantastic things and people were horrified. ...

He was already 70 or 71 and he lived about another five years, so he did pretty well for the 19th century, but whether the treatment extended his lifespan, [it's] difficult to say. They now think it was pretty much a placebo effect.

It became a cultural sensation. ... It was called the Squard Elixir and all kinds of quacks set up mail order businesses where you could get 10 syringes for $2.50. There were songs written about it; it was written up in all the papers. People went crazy. He never made a dime off it. ...

In a way, Squard's elixir was kind of a precursor of the testosterone replacement and estrogen replacement therapies that are extremely popular right now. So he was onto something.

On the controversial pre-Depression era scientist John Brinkley

In between the elixir and the testosterone, there was an unfortunate intermediate step where a salesman named John Brinkley down in Texas began implanting goat testicles in worn out middle-aged men and he did similar surgeries in women. Obviously [this was] not a good idea and many people died on his operating table, but he became fabulously wealthy. He was one of the richest men in the pre-Depression era. He actually had a radio station down there. He was just across the border in Mexico because they kicked him out of the country, but he had this hugely powerful radio station that broadcast some of the early country music stars.

On the conference for anti-aging and human growth hormones

It was founded by these two doctors in Chicago who basically pioneered the use of human growth hormone as a treatment for aging back in the '90s. And a study had come out in about 1990 saying that older men gained muscle mass when they were on an exercise program and human growth hormone.

"The scientists I spoke to feel that human growth hormone, far from reversing aging, actually accelerates aging."

- Bill Gifford

So they kind of took this and ran with it, and now, 20 years later, older Americans inject themselves with about $1.4 billion worth of human growth hormone per year and the system of injections costs about $10,000 to 12,000 a year. ...

[But] the scientists I spoke to feel that human growth hormone, far from reversing aging, actually accelerates aging. It turns on these pro-growth, pro-aging pathways. And there aren't clinical trials of this stuff because it's technically illegal for this use, but let's just say the longest [living] laboratory mice had zero growth hormone. Their cells had no growth hormone receptors. So human growth hormone might make you feel better for a short time, but it's very doubtful that it will lengthen your life and may do the opposite.

On anti-aging supplements

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The Salt

Eat Plants And Prosper: For Longevity, Go Easy On The Meat, Study Says

There's very little evidence for most of these supplements that you see marketed to older people. Supplements are very poorly regulated in this country and there just aren't the same evidentiary standards that you need for say, a drug. There was just a recent case where the attorney[s] general of several states found that supplements sold in places like Walmart had things like grass clippings in them.

On studying people who are over 100 years old

At [Albert] Einstein College of Medicine ... the theory is that that they have genes that protect them from the diseases of aging that the rest of us get. So they get to 100 and they don't have diabetes; they don't have heart disease; they don't have cancer; they've been protected somehow. So the question is: Do they have genes that protect them from these diseases and what are the genes and ... can we make a drug that can kind of imitate the action of those genes.

On how exercise affects aging

Anything really, is better than nothing. Basically, we evolved to move around, to run, to walk, to use our bodies and not to just sit around the way most of us do for most of the day. There's kind of an idea of use it or lose it and that's really programmed into our biology. The more you use your muscles, the more you're walking around, the more you're going to hang on to your muscle as you get older. That's really important because muscle wasting with age is the second leading cause of admission to nursing homes after Alzheimer's disease.

On the theory that short-term, controlled physical stress is good for longevity

[Blogger Todd Becker] believes in small amounts of stress as a way of life. It sounds completely crazy but there's actually a scientific basis to it. ... He wakes up in the morning every day and he takes a freezing cold shower, that's how he starts off. Then he'll skip lunch at work and then at the end of the day, without having eaten all day, he'll go for a trail run in Palo Alto, [Calif.], where he lives. ... I started looking into the science and cold water exposure actually has some pretty interesting affects. [There are] studies of cold water swimmers and they are healthier than people who don't go cold-water swimming. ...

"Organisms that are exposed to stress in certain ways respond to it and become stronger. ... On the cellular level ... it has an effect of almost like cleaning up or reorganizing your proteins so they're in better shape."

- Bill Gifford

The idea is this concept of hormesis — that's the stress response. That's another thing we have hard-wired into our biology. Organisms that are exposed to stress in certain ways respond to it and become stronger. One obvious example is exercise. You stress out your muscles, you lift a weight or whatever, they're damaged, and then they come back stronger. On the cellular level it also works. It has an effect of almost like cleaning up or reorganizing your proteins so they're in better shape.

On the theory that eating less helps you live longer

[There is] something called the Caloric Restriction Society, and there are people who basically make a great effort to eat anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent less than most of us eat. So obviously they're very skinny, but they're doing this because research for decades has shown feeding mice and other animals a lot less seems to make them live longer. ...

When we were hunter gatherers, we didn't get three meals a day, we might get three meals a week. So the people who survived — or the critters who survived — were the ones who could go for pretty decent periods without food and even then, not eat a whole lot of food. So our biology is kind of tuned to survive famines, to survive low-nutrient conditions. What that does [is it] puts our cells in a sort of stress-resistant state that ends up prolonging life.

Read an excerpt of Spring Chicken

growth hormone


The name of the man who has recorded videos of himself threatening and killing several Western hostages in the name of the self-proclaimed Islamic State is Mohammed Emwazi, according to multiple news outlets. He is reportedly a British citizen from West London who was born in Kuwait.

British security services have been aware of the man's identity, the BBC says, adding that "They chose not to disclose his name earlier for operational reasons."

The same name is being reported by The Washington Post, citing interviews with friends and associates of Emwazi. The newspaper says he is "from a well-to-do family... and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming."

There's been no official confirmation of the name of man who had formerly been dubbed "Jihadi John" by media outlets; we'll update this post as more details come in.

The BBC reports, "Emwazi is believed to be an associate of a former UK control order suspect, who travelled to Somalia in 2006 and is allegedly linked to a facilitation and funding network for Somali militant group al-Shabab."

Emwazi has been a central figure in the grisly ISIS videos in which prisoners have been beheaded and threats have been delivered against the U.S. and other countries.

Dressed all in black with only his eyes and hands exposed, the ISIS figure first attracted notice last August, when he addressed the camera in fluent English before hostage James Foley, a U.S. journalist, was beheaded.

Shortly after Foley's death, British ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott said, "We are close" to identifying the central figure in the video.

Since then, the man named today as Emwazi has appeared in more videos in which hostages were killed, including the Britons David Haines and Alan Henning, as well as the Americans Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, who changed his first name to Abdul-Rahman during his captivity.

The same man is also believed to be in more recent videos in which two Japanese hostages, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, were beheaded.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria


Joe Biden and John Travolta don't seem to know when they're getting too close for comfort.

Last week, the vice president went up to Stephanie Carter, the wife of the newly named secretary of defense, and put his hands on her shoulders and whispered in her ear. She did not look at all amused.

At the Oscars, Travolta did a double no-no. Before the ceremony he put his hand on Scarlett Johansson's waist and leaned in for a smooch. She had a deer-in-the-headlights look. During the show, he touched the chin of co-presenter Idina Menzel. It's unclear if that was scripted or spontaneous. To judge by the flustered look on her face, I'd vote for the latter.

Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent who's written about body language in , who's the author of What Every Body Is Saying, says "9 inches" is as close as you'd want to go in a social setting in the U.S. (Unless you know the person very very well.)

That made me wonder: What about other countries? What are the rules of personal space?

When Navarro's family emigrated from Cuba to the U.S., he remembers his American teacher telling him, "You have to stand back a little bit." In social settings in the U.S., he has found, people keep a 3 to 4 feet distance. "But in Latin America," says Navarro, "that's just frigid, that's like an icicle."

Our global health correspondent Jason Beaubien recalls meeting a local minister of health in Mexico. It was their first encounter. He leaned in to give her an air kiss, which is customary in Latin America. She took him to task for not actually planting his lips on her cheek.

Nurith Aizenman, NPR's international development correspondent, remembers a totally different experience as a woman covering Afghanistan for The Washington Post. She had to train herself not to offer a handshake when interviewing men. Any contact between unrelated men and women is taboo. So she'd stand face-to-face, place her hand on her heart and give a slight bow.

She got so good at the no-handshake posture that when she shifted to covering Central America, she was momentarily stunned the first time a man she was interviewing went for the standard Latin kiss on the cheek.


A scene in Mexico city affirms that Latin America is a land of openly expressed affection. Esteban Felix/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Esteban Felix/AP

A scene in Mexico city affirms that Latin America is a land of openly expressed affection.

Esteban Felix/AP

So yes, different strokes, for different parts of the world. And you really do have to tune into the local culture.

There are also different rules about touching.

"In Senegal, which is deeply conservative, majority Muslim and openly very friendly to foreigners, people don't even hold hands in public," reports NPR's West Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton. "It always struck me as quite unusual when I moved here. Now I'm quite used to it. Even young people are not given to public displays of even hand-holding!

In fact, in different African countries there are many ways to greet that do not involve physical touching: clasp your hands together, touch your heart, nod, genuflect, curtsy, clap your hands.

In Ghana, however, men are comfortable holding hands — or little fingers – "and there's nothing unusual or no-no about it," Quist-Arcton says.

Respect for the person you approach, she says, is critical all over Africa.

But she adds that you have to be flexible and adapt, wherever you find yourself on the continent. From country to country, customs may vary: from air kiss, to cheek kiss to hand shaking. Even how long to shake can vary.

However you greet someone in Africa, you need to show respect, Quist-Arcton says. So Travolta and Biden wouldn't get a thumbs up for their behavior. "You're definitely not going to see a man taking a woman's head in his hands," Quist-Arcton says.

Nor is it a good idea to come up from behind, as Biden did. Quist-Arcton wonders: "Is that a good thing anywhere?" I think the answer is self-evident!

John Travolta

Joe Biden

Regulations intended to block money from getting into the hands of terrorist groups has led the last bank that handles most money transfers from the United States to Somalia to pull out of the business.

Somali refugees in the U.S. say their families back home need the money they send each month to survive, and they're counting on lawmakers and Obama administration officials, who are meeting in Washington on Thursday, to try to find a solution.

"If they don't get this money they will starve."

- Omar Shekhey

Like tens of thousands of Somali Americans, Omar Shekhey, who lives in Georgia, pulls together a couple of hundred dollars every month and sends the money to his two sisters back in Somalia.

"This is like their paycheck," Shekhey says. "It's money that they need to survive. There are no jobs; nothing. They will starve. If they don't get this money they will starve."

And right now, he's extremely worried. This month, Merchants Bank of California — the last U.S. bank to handle most of these transactions — pulled out of the business. It cited concerns about meeting federal banking requirements, which are intended to stop the flow of funds to criminals and terrorists.

"And I don't know where to go, and I don't know where to send that money," Shekhey says. "This is facing not only me, but the whole community."

National Security

For Somalis In Minneapolis, Jihadi Recruiting Is A Recurring Nightmare


Border Businesses Lose Bank Accounts Amid Money-Laundering Fears


As Wire Transfer Options Dwindle, Somali-Americans Fear A Lost Lifeline

Immigrants Sending Money Back Home Face Fewer Options

Nasir Warsama is regional manager for Amal USA, a money transfer business that until last week operated outside Atlanta.

"Well, the business basically it's closed," Warsama says.

He says his firm would collect small amounts of cash from people like Shekhey, bundle it together and work through a U.S. bank to transfer the funds overseas, where the money would be distributed. He says there are few other options in Somalia because the war-torn nation has no central banking system.

"There's no functioning financial institutions," Warsama says. "So the only way they can get support from outside is either through the [United Nations] or the NGOs or the support from their family members."

That support has been huge: An estimated $1.3 billion a year from relatives around the world, including more than $200 million from the U.S.

But U.S. authorities worry that some of the money could end up in the wrong hands — like those of al-Shabab, the Somalia-based terrorist group that just released a video calling for attacks on Western shopping malls.

Strict tracking rules have been imposed on such money transfers, but Rob Rowe, a vice president at the American Bankers Association, says it's all but impossible for banks to comply in a country like Somalia.

"It's very chaotic because of all the civil unrest," Rowe says. "And so when a bank from the United States sends the money, they don't have the information or the transparency that they're required to have."

Like knowing exactly where the money goes.

"Bankers are looking at all this and they know that they're under the microscope and if they don't do the right thing, they're going to be held accountable," Rowe says.

Government regulators say they're trying to find a reasonable solution. They say they recognize the hardship for Somalis and that the end of regulated transfers could cause more serious problems. That's why a group of lawmakers has asked for an emergency meeting on Thursday with representatives from the Treasury and State departments and other agencies.

Minnesota Democratic congressman Keith Ellison says he fears more economic disruption in Somalia will only help al-Shabab.

"The last thing that we want to do is push Somalis into the hands of these homicidal maniacs," Ellison says.

He says people have been talking about the issue for years, but maybe now, with the crisis at hand, something will get done.




House Speaker John Boehner had a message for the Senate today: The ball's in your court.

Speaking after a closed-door Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, Boehner repeatedly insisted that the House had done its job, and that the Senate must now act in order to stave off a shutdown for the Department of Homeland Security. The Department is slated to run out of money in just three days.

"I'm waiting for the Senate to act," Boehner told reporters. "The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president's overreach on immigration. We're waiting for the Senate to do their job."

Just a short while before Boehner spoke to reporters, he addressed members of his party and told them that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in two weeks, according to several lawmakers who were in the room.

Asked about his conversations with McConnell, Boehner would not clarify, only saying that the two staffs had been "talking back and forth" but that "in the end, the Senate has got to act."

Boehner's comments come one day after McConnell indicated that he would bring a so-called "clean" DHS funding bill to the floor for a vote, along with a separate bill that would target President Obama's 2014 executive actions on immigration policy. But Boehner himself has not weighed in on the merits of the McConnell plan — only saying that Senate Democrats are impeding progress, and that the plan appeared to be a hard sell in the House.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks declared that "there's no way on God's green earth" he would vote for a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security unless it included language defunding Obama's executive actions on immigration. He went so far as to say that the so-called "clean" bill McConnell has said he'd agree to a vote on, wasn't actually clean.

"The Senate is not sending over a clean bill. A clean bill is a bill that protects the United States Constitution and stops illegal actions of the executive branch as reflected by two different federal court decisions," he said. "That is a clean bill. A dirty bill is one that protects illegal conduct."

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said that "no one wants a shutdown," but that "the plan, as far as I'm concerned is our bill."

"The question you've got to ask Democrats is, how can you insist on language in a bill that a federal judge says is unlawful? That makes absolutely no sense," he said.

Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon went so far as to say that Republicans weren't running the show in the Senate.

"The voters believe that in November Harry Reid was going to be dethroned and the Senate was going to be controlled by Republicans," Salmon told reporters. "Right now, Harry Reid's still running the Senate. That's a sad day."

In the Senate, Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would not support McConnell's plan without Boehner's guarantee that a clean DHS funding bill could pass the House.

"You know we have to make sure that people understand the bicameral nature of this Congress that we serve in," Reid said Tuesday. "So to have Sen. McConnell just pass the ball over to the House isn't going to do the trick. I'm waiting to hear from the Speaker."

If House and Senate lawmakers do not reach an agreement, tens of thousands of employees would be furloughed immediately. The rest, considered essential workers, would be expected to continue working without paychecks.

If the department shuts down, it would be for the second time in 18 months. The entire federal government shut down for 16 days in October 2013.

Governments "must stop pretending the protection of civilians is beyond their power," Amnesty International says in its human rights report for 2014. The group faults the U.S. on a range of issues, from the use of excessive force by police to rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism.

"Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians," Amnesty says. "And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need."

The group is calling for members of the U.N. Security Council to lose their veto power over issues of genocide and other mass atrocities, saying that vetoes by the U.S., China, Russia, France, and Great Britain have been "based on vested interests or political expediency."

Amnesty listed Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Israel and Ukraine as places where the Security Council "has failed to deal with crises and conflict, even in situations where horrific crimes are being committed against civilians by states or by armed groups."

Saying that "2014 was a catastrophic year for millions caught up in violence," the 424-page annual report lists human rights abuses in 160 countries.

Amnesty Intl English 2014 (PDF)
Amnesty Intl English 2014 (Text)

And the violence and rights abuses will likely only feed on one another, says Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

"From Washington to Damascus, from Abuja to Colombo, government leaders have justified horrific human rights violations by talking of the need to keep the country 'safe,' " Shetty says. "In reality, the opposite is the case. Such violations are one important reason why we live in such a dangerous world today. There can be no security without human rights."

The report predicts a "bleak" 2015, noting the growing influence of violent groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Shabaab.

As for America, Amnesty notes that President Obama "acknowledged that torture had been carried out following the 11 September 2001 attacks" in secret CIA operations — but the report also faults the U.S. for not providing "accountability and remedy for the crimes under international law."

From a summary of the report's U.S. section:

"In April, the Human Rights Committee criticized the USA on a range of issues - including the lack of accountability for abuses in the counter-terrorism context, solitary confinement in prisons, racial disparities in the criminal justice system, targeted killings by drones, excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, the treatment of migrants and the death penalty.

"In August, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also made numerous recommendations to the USA. In November, the Committee against Torture's concluding observations similarly covered a range of issues."

Amnesty titles its subsection on the U.S. detention and interrogation program with one word: "Impunity."

Calling for the U.S. to review its standards for the police use of force, the report states, "At least 35 people across 18 states died after being struck by police Tasers, bringing the total number of such deaths since 2001 to 602."

In light of the report's overall tone of gloom and doom, Shetty notes that "even at times that seem bleak for human rights — and perhaps especially at such times — it is possible to create remarkable change."

He adds, "We must hope that, looking backward to 2014 in the years to come, what we lived through in 2014 will be seen as a nadir — an ultimate low point — from which we rose up and created a better future."

Amnesty International

Human Rights

In Washington, D.C., construction is underway on the Museum of the Bible, an eight-story, $400 million enterprise funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

Green is a Pentecostal known for donating to conservative evangelical universities and developing a public school curriculum based on the Bible. After the craft store's controversial victory in this summer's Supreme Court ruling over contraception, some people worry the new museum will come across as evangelical propaganda. But organizers behind Green's latest venture say it won't be a memorial to evangelism.

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Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says

The Museum of the Bible will house the more than 40,000 artifacts in Green's personal collection, including Jewish Torah scrolls and papyrus fragments of the New Testament.

But the museum won't just put relics on display. As museum President Cary Summers explains, visitors can stroll through the biblical garden.

"So people can actually see what a Rose of Sharon is," he says. "And what does a Hyssop bush look like?"

They can visit the caf for flatbread, date honey and other biblical foods. It's part of what Summers calls an "immersive" experience.

"We want this to be highly engaging for people of all ages, all cultural backgrounds, all faiths, no faiths," he says.

But some people, like Jewish civilization professor Jacques Berlinerblau of Georgetown University, are skeptical.

"Oh, those crafty white conservative evangelicals!" he says. "They're so savvy. They're so politically cunning."

Berlinerblau also questions the Museum's location, just two blocks south of the National Mall.

"When there's an anti-abortion rally, an anti-gay marriage rally, an anti-Affordable Care Act rally to be had, what a convenient thing to have church groups coming to see the museum," he says, "and then while they're at it, next step on their itinerary is to march down to the Mall for a protest."

Summers says that's not the plan. He says they chose the site for its crowd drawing potential. After all, more than half of the Smithsonian's 19 museums line the National Mall.

But those museums are public, and the Museum of the Bible is private. Summers consulted for the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which shows humans and dinosaurs co-existing on a 6,000 year old earth.

This leads some scholars to wonder how the museum will interpret the world's most famous book. Martyn Oliver, who teaches religious studies at American University, says he applauds Green's collection for showing so many facets of the Bible.

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"The texts and artifacts suggest the Bible as a text that has been in dispute, that is always changing, that is open to question," he says, "and this contradicts some theological positions that understand the Bible to be static, unchanging and the literal word of God."

Summers says more than a hundred scholars and experts of different religious stripes have weighed in as the museum's developed. And guests can choose from five different religious viewpoints on the handheld devices that will serve as virtual tour guides.

Tim Krepp, a D.C. resident and tour guide, says he's not a religious guy.

"I grew up Catholic; it didn't take," he says. "I'm certainly not fundamentalist at all."

And he says he expects to bring all kinds of groups to the museum.

"As a secularist, if you will, I can't be afraid of the marketplace of ideas," he says. "And this adds to that marketplace of ideas. So, like any other tourist attraction in D.C., any other place to visit, I'm going to be knowledgeable about it and be ready to share that it if guests are so inclined."

He has some time to find out. The Museum of the Bible isn't scheduled to open until November 2017.

hobby lobby


Washington DC


After seven seasons, NBC's gently acerbic, lovingly rendered Parks And Recreation ended its run Tuesday night with an extension of the final season's voyage to 2017. In further flashes to a few years or even decades later, we learned about April and Andy's kids, Garry's future as a beloved eternal mayor with an ageless wife, Tom's many hustles to come, Donna's educational foundation, the park Ron will run, Leslie's brilliant career, and the true partnership of equals that is her marriage to Ben.

Parks didn't seem to start out as a show about love; it seemed to be a show about the mundane frustrations of the public servant, and it never stopped believing that much of the work people do will go unappreciated and those people will go unthanked. In the finale in 2017, the old Parks Department crew rallies, even though they no longer work there, to fix a swing in the park, only to find that the man who wanted it fixed thinks of their work as nothing more than what was owed to him as a citizen. Which, in a sense, after all ... it is. As Leslie once told the departed Mark Brendanawicz when he felt no satisfaction at having gotten a troubled speed bump lowered, in what may be the show's guiding principle in a nutshell: "You fixed a problem. That's what we're supposed to do."

There aren't many shows that could get away with so many big final victories, with so much happiness for everyone that it sloshed over the rim of the show's world and felt even more like augmented reality than it usually does. But what distinguished the brand of happiness the writers delivered in this final pass was that it was specific to the characters and true to who they were. This was wish fulfillment as character exploration. Writers are always told that the engine of all fiction is that someone wants something; rarely has a show so thoroughly understood what the people it's brought to life really, genuinely want.

Ron, for instance, doesn't want what Leslie wants, despite the fact that they're close friends. He learned a lot from an office full of people who became friends, but he doesn't want another one now that his first one has scattered. What he wants is solitude, nature, silence, and meaning. Meaning. Ron's distrust of sentimentality and closely held cards, we now know, were never signs of emotional emptiness or a vacuous heart. He had his own definition of meaning, and Leslie learned to respect it, and she understood in the end what it was he really wanted. Telling him about the job she had already accepted on his behalf running Pawnee National Park, she says, "You'd work outside. You'd talk to bears."

Tom writes a book about failure, but he gets back his girlfriend Lucy, the only really right woman he ever dated (bringing back Lucy is one of the best decisions they made this season, after seemingly dropping the thread of her story back in the fourth season). Tom with Lucy was the best Tom, and he gets to both keep her and be a hustler forever, because he is a hustler. Forever. He's okay without an empire. He just needs to have his next idea. He always wanted success, but even more, he wanted to live inside the promise of the next success.

Garry wanted to be embraced. Donna wanted to live comfortably, in the company of her darling husband, as a philanthropist. Chris Traeger wanted new toys to beep comfortingly at him to reassure him of good health. Ann wanted her kids, as she always had, and to hug Leslie until they were both about to burst.

Maybe the most surprising storyline to anyone who last watched the show in the second season or so is that years later, April and Andy are happy and have a son, to whom April gave birth while listening to "Monster Mash" in Halloween makeup. Andy entered Parks as a freeloading bad boyfriend and goes out as an adoring dad and devoted husband. April entered as a cynical student and leaves as a skeptical but loving mom who's learned to trust not only her husband but her tight circle of friends.

As for Ben, in a very rare move in American television, a man is shown as admirable, romantic, desirable, brave and good in part because the thing that matters most in his life is his marriage – not merely in the sense of having it rather than endangering it, but in the sense of being able to make a frictionless sacrifice of his own ideal individual future to allow her to have hers – something many, many spouses do at some moment or another. And, critically, he makes that choice not reluctantly but joyfully. He has other ambitions: he became a congressman, after all, and had there been an opportunity to be governor, he might have taken it. But it all matters less than recognizing that his wife – who considers them to have equal claims to entering the governor's race and is willing to leave it to chance – is more ambitious than he is, wants to be governor more, has wanted to be governor longer, and is going to be happier than he is with the opportunity. And, perhaps, will be a better governor.

This dance between Leslie and Ben has been going on as long as they've been together – in fact, they broke up early in their relationship because it might have interfered with her running for Pawnee City Council. They've had to navigate these waters a few times, and sometimes one of them has stepped forward and sometimes the other has. But in the end, it is Leslie whose dreams of politics are grander, stickier, and more vital to who she is, at least for this moment.

We learn what happens next: Leslie becomes governor, and after two terms, she's off to some unnamed new adventure – one that eventually means that decades later, at Garry's funeral, guys in dark suits are accompanying her and Ben. Is she being protected as a former two-term governor?

Maybe she's an ambassador. Maybe she's in the cabinet.

But maybe, of course, Leslie Knope is president.

Or First Lady.

They don't actually say. This, perhaps, was a bridge too far and a tease better left as a tease. Better to suggest than to try to show anyone being sworn in by a member of the Supreme Court. After all, she got to play charades at Joe Biden's parties. Shouldn't that be enough?

This kind of ambiguity can be maddening when it feels cute, but here, it feels thematically appropriate. It leaves space for hope – it leaves space to choose between the least audacious, dreamy outcome you could imagine for Leslie and the greatest one. In a lot of ways, this is what Parks has been about: one radically optimistic woman who chooses the dreamiest outcome, who believes that you start by solving a problem because that's what you're supposed to do and maybe end up as president.

If Parks has a single identifiable theme, it's this, loosely paraphrased from Leslie's own words in the finale: people get a sense of meaning in life from love and work. All these people got to be happy because they committed to allowing space for love and work, in one way or another, and thus for meaning.

We went through a period in the '80s and early '90s when comedies were asked to choose between being really funny and being emotionally rich, and they often wound up with neither. This was the era of the Very Special Episode, and it led directly to the welcome arrival of Seinfeld and its "no hugging, no learning" motto. But to say a comedy needs neither hugging nor learning to matter is not the same thing as saying it has to be unrelentingly arch. Hugging is part of life. So's learning. Parks has been equally skeptical – equally, always – of maudlin sentimentality on one hand and the reflexive deployment of ironic detachment as a guard against accusations that you're corny on the other. When it was feelings-y, it was effectively feelings-y, and when it was pointed, it was very pointed. When it was funny, it was hilarious, and when it was silly, it was blissfully silly.

In fact, it has been itself, pretty clearly, work done with love.

One-hundred-fifty years ago, a man named Samuel Van Syckel built the nation's first commercial oil pipeline in the rugged terrain of northwestern Pennsylvania.

His pipeline transformed how oil is transported — and it would change the modern world, too — but not before a battle that makes the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline look meek by comparison.

In January 1865, the place where this all happened, called Pithole, was nowhere, really — just a patch of wilderness in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Then drillers struck gushers at three wells and everything changed.

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill Feb. 24, 2015

By September, an estimated 15,000 people moved to Pithole. And soon, Van Syckel had constructed his 5 1/2-mile pipeline.

A Place Called Pithole, And An Opportunity

Walking the snowy grounds of what used to be Pithole City, Sue Beates, curator of the nearby Drake Well Museum, points out the sites where old Methodist and Presbyterian churches once stood.

But there was more to Pithole than religious devotion, she explains. "There were hotels, a jewelry store, drug stores, houses of ill repute, lots of saloons, parlor dens of all sorts, billiard parlor dens — that sort of thing."

Before Van Syckel's pipeline, transporting oil cost as much as, or more than, the oil itself. He eventually lost his pipeline to the bank after making several unwise bets. Drake Well Museum/Courtesy of PHMC hide caption

itoggle caption Drake Well Museum/Courtesy of PHMC

Van Syckel had come to the region as an oil buyer, a middleman. Like everyone else, he was there to make his fortune. But there was a big obstacle to the Pithole boom.

"Once people were there, they discovered it was one thing to bring oil out of the ground — but it was an entirely different thing to try and get it to market," says Christopher Jones, a historian at Arizona State University.

"The main way oil was transported during the first several years of the industry was by teamsters," he says. But this was long before the labor union by the same name.

"These were men driving wagons pulled by horses, and they would collect the oil in large barrels — 300-pound barrels of oil — that they would load up on their wagons, and drag them over the various roads," Jones says.

Roads filled with up to two feet of mud, Beates notes. The work was incredibly tough, but the teamsters made it pay.

"They definitely had a monopoly on it," Beates says. "Oil was selling for maybe $5 a barrel, [$3] of which went to the teamsters."

So the cost of moving the oil was as much as, or more than, the oil itself. Van Syckel saw an opportunity.

"He had a mechanical aptitude and a vision for doing things that exceeded most of the other people who went there," Jones says.

By the summer of 1865, Van Syckel had raised $100,000 from a bank. Within five short weeks, he had built the nation's first pipeline.

Or to be more exact, the first oil pipeline that "didn't leak like a sieve," Beates adds.

Van Syckel's pipeline was wrought iron and 2 inches in diameter. That's tiny by today's standards, but it was an engineering marvel. One challenge, Jones says, was preventing ruptures.

"Making sure that the joints were securely enough welded that, even with the pressure to push the oil through the pipelines, that that pressure didn't split the pipes apart and ruin the pipeline," he says.

The topography along the route was also a challenge, Beates says.

"You can see the steep hills that it had to go over, which is why there were steam pumps to help push the oil up over the hills," she says. "Then it could gravity feed down the next [hill] and then steam-pump-pushed back up the next hill all the way to Miller Farm, to the railroad."

Sabotage, Threats And Fistfights


Miller Farm, the terminus of Van Syckel's pipeline, in 1868. The oil was pumped to Miller Farm and then transported by railroad. Drake Well Museum/Courtesy of PHMC hide caption

itoggle caption Drake Well Museum/Courtesy of PHMC

Miller Farm, the terminus of Van Syckel's pipeline, in 1868. The oil was pumped to Miller Farm and then transported by railroad.

Drake Well Museum/Courtesy of PHMC

The engineering worked fine. But the teamsters — those rugged guys who hauled wooden barrels of oil with teams of horses — weren't too happy with Van Syckel's pipeline.

"So as soon as the pipeline was completed, several of the teamsters in the middle of the night went to various sections of the 5-mile pipeline and ripped it out of the ground and pulled the pipe apart so it stopped working," Jones says.

Beates adds, "They took pickaxes and horses and chains and pulled the pipe apart."

There were threats and fistfights, but Van Syckel rebuilt his pipeline. And this time, he enlisted the sheriff and his own security team.

"By hiring his own armed force to patrol the line, he ended up defeating the teamsters — and they stopped trying to sabotage his line," Jones explains.

And just like that, a new technology would make an entire line of work obsolete.

"It's estimated that 500 teamsters were put out of business in five weeks," Beates says.

Within a couple of years, she says, hundreds of pipelines crisscrossed western Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the American oil industry. "Wherever there was a big oil strike, there would be a pipeline to transport the oil to a railroad," Beates says.

And what about Van Syckel? After making some unwise bets, Jones says, he lost his pipeline to the bank. Later, the ingenious Van Syckel developed some new methods of refining oil.

But within a decade, someone else would emerge to dominate refining, pipelines, rail shipments — almost the entire oil industry. His name was John D. Rockefeller.


Keystone XL Pipeline




An 82-year-old celibate Buddhist abbot from Cambodia has been diagnosed with HIV. His doctor was the cause: He was re-using syringes and infected a reported 272 individuals, including babies and children.

This horror story resonates around the world. More than two million people were infected in 2010 alone, according to the most recent World Health Organization research, with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV because of injections with previously used syringes or needles. While data are not available for transmission of all diseases, unsafe needle practices could also put people at risk for bloodborne illnesses, such as Ebola and malaria, according to WHO.

And it happens in rich and poor countries alike.

This week, WHO launched a global campaign to tackle the problem of disease spread because of the re-use of contaminated needles.

The organization is recommending that countries adopt the use of safety-engineered syringes, or "smart" syringes, designed to prevent re-use. "With one injection, the new-style syringes disable themselves," says Dr. Selma Khamassi, the head of the WHO team for injection safety. "Some have a metal clip that blocks the plunger and you cannot pull it back to give another injection. Some have a weak point, so if you try to pull it back, it breaks." And some have a device, like a spring, that automatically retracts the needle after the plunger hits the bottom of the barrel.

About 70 manufacturers are beginning to make versions of the smart syringes. In low-income countries, where the problem of re-use is greatest, affordability is crucial. The cost of traditional syringes without safety features is about 3 to 4 cents each; a syringe that automatically disables itself when used ranges from 4 to 8 cents each. "They are moving toward affordability. Once the demand increases, the price will decrease," says Khamassi.

Indeed, cost is one reason that health workers in poor countries re-use needles or syringes. "When workers lack equipment, they feel obliged to re-use the same syringe," she says. Or some healthcare workers have the misconception that changing the needle tip while keeping the same syringe (which holds the medicine) is safe. "It is not," says Khamassi.

A third reason in developing countries is that low-paid health workers can re-use syringes to pick up extra income by giving injections outside their clinics or hospitals in what might be called a private practice of sorts, Khamassi said.

Re-use also happens in wealthy countries, including the United States, because of ignorance of safety procedures, laziness, lack of equipment or simple greed."Please don't think injection safety is an issue only in poor countries," says Khamassi.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 50 outbreaks in the U.S. since 2001 of hepatitis B and C as well as bloodborne diseases because health workers re-used needles, syringes or vials designed for single use. In other instances of re-use, there was no transmission of disease but patients had to be notified for possible testing. Examples include a urology clinic in Nevada using the same needle for prostate biopsies on more than one patient; a pediatric clinic in Denver re-using syringes to administer flu vaccines; a pain clinic in Los Angeles re-using syringes that exposed patients to hepatitis C; and a health fair in New Mexico that re-used finger stick devices to test for blood glucose levels.

Adding to the problem in some countries is a demand by patients for injections when oral medications work as well. "Some patients believe injections are more effective or work faster," says Khamassi. "Some people demand an injection for a fever or vitamin or antibiotic injections." Part of the WHO campaign is to educate communities and patients in order to reduce the number of unnecessary injections.




Jordan's King Abdullah has faced delicate balancing act ever since he ascended the throne in 1999 following his father's death. His country shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel among others, and there always seems to be trouble in the neighborhood.

His latest challenge has been to persuade Jordanians that it's in the country's interest to play a prominent role in the U.S.-led coalition against the self-declared Islamic State.

Many Jordanians were skeptical if not outright opposed. But when they saw their pilot Moaz Kassasbeh killed on video by ISIS, they rallied behind the king.

The monarch even found support from critics like Dimah Tahboub, the spokesperson for the Islamic Action Front, a political party allied with Jordan's wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The brotherhood, an Islamic social and political movement, is big and legal in Jordan.

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"This is the phase where we should unite our efforts with the government and with the regime because we thought that our country is threatened, our Islam is threatened, so we should stand united in the face of that," says Tahboub, who was educated at the University of Manchester in England.

The phase that she spoke of lasted less than a month.

Last week, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood was sentenced for remarks he posted on Facebook, attacking the United Arab Emirates. He was convicted of insulting a friendly government and received 18 months in prison.

"Our king speaks well, he promotes Jordan very good in Western communities," she says.

But for domestic opposition groups like her party, she says, things are not so good.

For example, the electoral system makes it impossible for a party to win many seats in parliament. In a more representative system, the Islamic Action Front could have real political power.

Some defenders of the status quo fear that if the front won power, Tahboub's party would reverse Jordan's pro-Western alignment.

So what does the party stand for?


Dima Tahboub is the spokesperson for the Islamic Action Front, a group aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. The front is legal, but Jordan's political system limits its clout and the king has the final say on important matters. Art Silverman/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Art Silverman/NPR

Dima Tahboub is the spokesperson for the Islamic Action Front, a group aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. The front is legal, but Jordan's political system limits its clout and the king has the final say on important matters.

Art Silverman/NPR

"Our belief is not that radical. We believe in moderate Islam. There has to be a social contract between people. Making a woman wear the headscarf or preventing people from drinking liquor is not going to be our priority at that time," she says.

"Our priorities will be educating people, empowering people to rule themselves, to be free in their own countries," she adds.

She acknowledges that the party would like to see social measures, like a ban on alcohol, put on the ballot.

"If people agree to that, if we put that to the vote, and the majority of the Jordanian people say, 'OK, we want to prevent liquor in the country,' then that's democracy, that's their decision," she says. "Why does democracy [here] have to be different than democracy in the United States? If people agree and there's a consensus, well, let it be."

Asked about polygamy, a policy sanctioned by the Quran and practiced by some traditional Muslims, she says: "Polygamy is like other issues. They're not our priority to handle now. We should be interested more in human rights. We're suffering from all kinds of injustices."

"The West should appreciate that the Arab countries and the Muslim countries have their uniqueness," she adds. "If we meet, we meet as equals, but we have our differences."


Jordanians marched in the streets of the capital Amman on Feb. 6 to show solidarity with the family of a pilot killed by the Islamic State in Syria. Jordanians also expressed support for the king's decision to take part in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS. Muhammad Hamed/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Muhammad Hamed/Reuters/Landov

Jordanians marched in the streets of the capital Amman on Feb. 6 to show solidarity with the family of a pilot killed by the Islamic State in Syria. Jordanians also expressed support for the king's decision to take part in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters/Landov

As for the battle against ISIS in Syria, Tahboub's party supports retaliatory airstrikes against ISIS, provided they don't kill innocent civilians. But when it comes to Jordanian troops entering Syria, the party is against that, as are most Jordanians.

"We have to face the ideology of ISIS in Jordan to protect the minds of our youth from what ISIS presents," she says. "They are hijacking Islam to us."

She compares ISIS to fanaticism in Christianity.

"Should we blame Christianity for that, should we blame the churches for that. Each church has its problems. Each church has it's alien offspring," she argues.

In her view, Westerners as well as Arab rulers need to distinguish between Islamic political parties and extremists. Arabs in many countries are, she says, "being handcuffed by our governments, by our regimes. They are treating us as an equal problem to these radical fanatics."

King Abdullah


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