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By Thomas Gibbons-Neff

There were two flags raised at Iwo Jima. The Marines now say they misidentified men at both.

There were two flags raised at Iwo Jima. The Marines now say they misidentified men at both.
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The Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday that it misidentified two men long thought to have helped raise the first of two American flags atop Mount Suribachi during the bloody battle for the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in 1945.

The revelations come a little more than two months since the Marines said they had mistaken one of the individuals who helped raised the second flag, a moment captured in the iconic and Pulitzer-winning photograph taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal.

The tale of the two flags and the men who raised them on Feb. 23, 1945, has been a part of Marine Corps lore. But the details of what happened that day have been under closer scrutiny since the publication in 2014 of an Omaha World-Herald article featuring research by two amateur historians showing that one person had been misidentified in Rosenthal's famous photograph.

In May, the Marine Corps announced it had begun looking into Rosenthal's photograph, following inquiries from documentary filmmakers. The following month, the service said a panel - led by a retired Marine general - had concluded that a Marine in the second flag-raising had been misidentified. Navy Pharmacist's Mate James Bradley was actually a Marine private from Detroit named Harold Schultz.

Bradley, a Navy Cross recipient and subject of his son's book-later-turned-movie "Flags of our Fathers," was instead in the lesser-known, first flag-raising.

At the conclusion of the investigation into the second flag-raising, the same panel, using some of the same photographic evidence and material from the initial inquiry, looked into the first flag-raising.

The panel's conclusion? Two Marines, Pfc. Louis C. Charlo and Pfc. James R. Michels, did not participate in the initial flag-raising, as had been previously documented. Charlo, however, participated in a four-man reconnaissance patrol that went up Suribachi, while Michels held perimeter security nearby as the first flag went up.

Charles P. Neimeyer, the director of the Marines' History Division, said in a phone interview that an independent researcher had first approached the Marine Corps in 2011 with evidence that Charlo and Michels were not in the initial flag raising and decided after the investigation into Rosenthal's photograph that it would be prudent to try to update the record regarding the first raising.

The men who raised the first flag, according to the Marines' statement Wednesday, were 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier, PhM2c John H. Bradley, Sgt. Ernest I. Thomas Jr., Sgt. Henry O. Hansen, Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg and Pvt. Philip L. Ward.

Unlike the second flag raising, there were no pictures taken of the first flag going up, yet to the Marines fighting below, the sight of that initial flag flying was far more significant. It was the first indication they had seized the island's most significant piece of terrain and that the bloody battle might one day come to an end. On the summit, the only camera nearby as the first flag went up belonged to Staff Sgt. Louis Lowery, a Marine combat photographer with Leatherneck Magazine. As the flag was hoisted skyward he was reloading his film after snapping a series of pictures moments before.

"Our history is important, and we owe it to our Marines and their families to ensure it is as accurate as possible. After we reviewed the second flag raising and found inconsistencies, we wanted to take another look at the first flag raising to make sure we had it correct," said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller in a statement.

In the waning months of World War II, with massive quad-engine B-29 Superfortresses regularly bombing mainland Japan, the United States decided that Iwo Jima - with its lone airstrip - was an ideal spot for damaged bombers to land on their long return flights back to the Northern Mariana Islands.

The operation to seize the island, known as Operation Detachment, would last just over a month and cost the lives of more than 5,000 Marines and almost the entirety of the roughly 21,000 Japanese soldiers defending the volcanic, porkchop-shaped scab of earth.

When the flags went up on Feb. 23, the Marines had been fighting for nearly four days. Japanese machine gun nests and snipers dug in across the base of Suribachi had raked the Americans as they drew closer to the 550-foot mound, but on the morning of Feb. 23, the initial reconnaissance patrol that ascended the hill encountered no resistance, according to Marine Corps documents.

As the recon patrol descended the mountain, a roughly 30 man patrol from Echo Company 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, led by 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier, began its trek up Suribachi. Schrier had been given a small American flag from another lieutenant who had been told by 2nd Battalion's commander to make sure the patrol took the flag up the mountain, according to documents provided by the Marine Corps.

After a nearly two hour hike, Schrier's men reached the summit and established defensive positions while a small element looked for a place to put up the flag. Two Marines found a piece of Japanese drainage pipe, while five others affixed the flag.

At around 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, 1945, the first American flag went up over Iwo Jima. Ships offshore sounded their horns. Marines looked at their watches and up from their foxholes.

Over the years, many of the eyewitnesses, Neimeyer said, remembered the first flag going up, while almost no one had an exact time for when the second flag was actually raised.

Shortly after Lowrey snapped his pictures and Schrier radioed that the summit was secure, the first flag was taken down and was sent back to the bottom of the mountain to 2nd battalion's commanding officer. The flag was to be turned into a war trophy and replaced on Suribachi with a more prominent one, so roughly two hours later, a resupply patrol snaked its way back to the top of the mountain, this time with a bigger flag and the photographer Rosenthal in tow.

By Michael E. Ruane

Frankenstein lives, 200 years later

Frankenstein lives, 200 years later
Victor Frankenstein observing the first stirrings of his creature in an engraving by Theodor von Holstafter for the frontispiece of

"It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils . . . the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open"

--Victor Frankenstein

On a similar night in the summer of 1816, a gloomy season darkened by the ash of a distant volcano, 18-year-old Mary Shelley lay in bed, closed her eyes, and envisioned a tale of a madman who builds a monster from human body parts.

"My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me," she recalled later.

Her reverie would become "Frankenstein," the Gothic horror story of man's botched attempt at creation. And this summer marks the 200th anniversary of the night the young English intellectual came up with the idea while on vacation with her lover in Switzerland.

"It's always been enormously popular," said Bernard Welt, former professor of arts and humanities at George Washington University's Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, who has taught courses on Frankenstein.

"It's one of the two or three most-ordered texts at American colleges and universities," and has never been out of print, he said.

Shelley wrote later that it was "a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house."

A year earlier, in April 1815, Mount Tambora, a volcano on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia, erupted in a massive explosion that blasted ash into the atmosphere and resulted in a "volcanic winter."

Partly as a result, 1816 became the Year Without a Summer, with unusually cold temperatures in North America and cold and rain in a Europe still recovering from the Napoleonic Wars.

Crops failed, and there were summer frosts and starvation. "There's a lot of evidence that there were messianic cults and prophesies, and people thinking it was the end of the world," Welt said.

Amid the dismal weather, Shelley and her future husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, passed the time with poet George Gordon Byron and Byron's physician, John William Polidori, vying to make up ghost stories.

"I busied myself to think of a story," she wrote years later. "One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror - one to make the reader dread to look around."

But she thought in vain, she wrote.

Then one night in bed, after a discussion with her friends about the nature of life and the possibility of reanimating the dead, a story came to her.

"I saw - with shut eyes, but acute mental vision . . . the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together . . . the hideous phantasm of a man," she recalled.

It was a disturbing thought. But the next morning she told her friends she had her story, and wrote a quick draft.

"Mary Shelley has a kind of genius," Welt said. "She actually takes on the burning, philosophical questions of her time . . . She's asking questions about the nature of life, and giving life."

"She and her circle were very, very interested in everything going on in science at the time," he said. "She talks about the experiments in electricity and the notion that it could animate lifeless matter."

Mary Shelley wondered: "Perhaps a corpse could be re-animated . . . Perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth."

She referred to "galvanism," the idea - named for the Italian biologist Luigi Galvani - that an electric current might resuscitate dead tissue.

A famous demonstration had occurred in 1803 when a current was applied to the body of a hanged criminal.

"On the first application . . . the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened," according to a prison bulletin that carried an account of the experiment.

"In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion," the account continued. "Bystanders thought that the wretched man was on the eve of being restored to life."

Inspired, Mary Shelley would have her protagonist Victor Frankenstein say:

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave?

"I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame.

"The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation."

The novel was published in 1818, and Shelley's idea has endured for two centuries as one of Western literature's great horror tales.

It also gave birth to films such as "Son of Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein," and "House," "Curse," "Evil," "Ghost," and "Revenge of Frankenstein," to name a few.

In the introduction to an 1831 edition of the book, Shelley wrote that she had affection for her "hideous progeny."

"It was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart," she wrote.

Nine years earlier, in 1822, her husband had drowned when a boat he was in sank in a storm in Italy's Gulf of La Spezia. He was 29. She was 24.

Frankenstein's pages, she wrote, "speak of many a walk, many a drive, and many a conversation when I was not alone, and my companion was one who, in this world, I shall never see more."

By Maura Judkis

The African-American museum's food focus will go beyond soul

The African-American museum's food focus will go beyond soul
A 1912 tinted black-and-white postcard of a banana and pineapple vendor is part of the new museum's collection. On the back of it is a handwritten note:

WASHINGTON - Of course, there will be soul food. But that's not the soul of the foodways exhibition at the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"We wanted to break up the idea that there's one type of food, and that African-Americans all eat that type of food," said curator Joanne Hyppolite. "African-Americans have been involved in perfecting a number of American cuisines. Because literally, they were always in everyone's kitchen. It's way more diverse than soul food."

One area of focus? Oysters.

Catching, shucking and selling oysters was a way for African-Americans to make a living. "It's an industry they've been involved in from sea to table," Hyppolite said. Curators collected artifacts that were used by African-American oystermen and vendors, including an oyster basket, culling hammer and shucking bucket, as well as menus from Thomas Downing's Oyster House, a famous New York restaurant that attracted prominent white patrons. Many of the artifacts were purchased at a local antique store.

Street vendors, from the early 20th century to Baltimore's present-day Arabbers, are another area of concentration. The museum has amassed a series of old postcards depicting African-American fruit sellers, and an audiovisual component in the exhibition will include field recordings of their unique cries, which have been preserved by the Library of Congress.

That doesn't mean soul food will be absent from the exhibition. One item on display of particular significance is a pot from the longtime Washington, D.C., soul food restaurant Florida Avenue Grill.

"They would be extremely proud," said Lacey C. Wilson Jr., whose parents founded the Florida Avenue Grill in 1944. The younger Wilson, now 80, took over the restaurant from 1970 to 2005, when he sold it to Imar Hutchins. He said the fact that the museum acquired a collard greens pot was especially meaningful: "It was a staple there for 60 years."

Collards also speak to the evolution of soul food, Hyppolite said. After all, "now they have a vegan version."

The foodways exhibition is part of the Cultural Expressions Gallery, which will also include artifacts relating to fashion, crafts, dance and language. Within the foodways portion of the exhibition, there will be three areas of focus, divided regionally: The North will encompass the oyster industry; the agricultural South will focus on collard greens; and the Creole South will examine the cuisine of New Orleans and diaspora Caribbean communities, with an emphasis on red beans and rice.

Those three topic areas align with the stations in the museum's restaurant, North Star Cafe, named for the beacon in the sky that escaped slaves followed to freedom. But in the cafe, there will be one more area of focus: The West. That means there will be barbecue in the restaurant, but not in the museum - a decision that may raise the hackles of some barbecue traditionalists.

"We had it slated, and then we just ran out of space," Hyppolite said.

Throughout all of the topic areas, the museum will tell the stories of famous African-Americans such as Hercules, George Washington's enslaved cook, and New Orleans chef Leah Chase, whose jacket and cookbook will be on exhibit. Curators are also beginning to amass a collection of early cookbooks and other culinary literature, such as "The Negro Motorist Green-Book," which functioned as an early Michelin guide for African-American travelers, telling them which restaurants and hotels were safe to visit during segregation.

There are food-related objects elsewhere in the museum, too. An exhibition on segregation includes stools from the Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-in, which will be displayed in a re-creation of the lunch counter where the demonstration took place. Also in that exhibition are displays of the stereotypical images of African-Americans - like the "mammy" caricature - that were often depicted on food packaging and advertisements, as well as throughout pop culture.

"In some instances they were (depicted) to endorse the quality of the food," said guest curator Spencer Crew. In others, "they used stereotypical imagery to get people to chuckle."

The museum's collection of food artifacts is small: Only 74 items out of the 37,000 total. But it is growing: Now that the opening exhibitions are finalized, Hyppolite says curators can move on to what they call "Day 2" collecting, or sourcing a broader selection of objects for future exhibitions. Hyppolite's goal is to acquire an object or cooking implement from every famous African American chef, whether it's a handwritten recipe, a pot, a hat or a menu.

Still, there are difficulties in collecting culinary artifacts for a museum.

"Food smells, and food things attract pests. So we have to think very strategically when we're collecting cooking implements," Hyppolite said. "We don't want pests in our collection because then they go to other parts of the collection and damage those areas."

That was something they had to consider when acquiring the Florida Avenue Grill pot. It had to be cleaned, but not too much.

"That used pot has a lot of life," said Michèle Gates Moresi, curator of collections. "The grime and the grease is part of the story."

Pulitzer-winning opinion from the most respected voices in the world.

By dana milbank

Sean Hannity, Trump’s ‘spin doctor’

Sean Hannity, Trump’s ‘spin doctor’

“I’m a journalist who interviews people who I disagree with all the time.”

-- Sean Hannity, 2008

“I never claimed to be a journalist.”

-- Sean Hannity, 2016

WASHINGTON -- Not since lawmakers diagnosed Terri Schiavo’s condition from the Senate floor has there been such medical quackery in the political realm.

Last week, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald reported that a letter attesting to Donald Trump’s magnificent health (he “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”) was not from an internist but from a gastroenterologist. This belly doctor boasted that “Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results.” Like for giardia?

That followed a segment on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News Channel in which the host elicited speculation about Hillary Clinton’s neurological health from ... a urologist. The urinary-tract specialist, part of a “Fox News Medical A-Team,” speculated for Hannity that a photo of the Democratic presidential nominee being assisted by her Secret Service detail while climbing stairs could indicate dehydration, arthritis, back pain or a fall. (The original photo caption said she merely stumbled and was caught by her agents.)

I’m not a doctor, but my brother is a urologist, and I went to night school for bartending. By current standards, therefore, I am qualified to diagnose Hannity as having professional dissociative identity disorder: He can’t decide whether he’s a journalist or a Trump operative.

In Monday’s New York Times, the prime-time TV news host admitted to media columnist Jim Rutenberg that he has been privately advising Trump. Hannity, who, according to CNN, paid for a private jet last month to fly Newt Gingrich to meet with Trump, told Rutenberg that his unabashed promotion of Trump isn’t a problem because he “never claimed to be a journalist.” Except that he had. And he plays a journalist on television for an hour each weeknight.

The affliction is common, apparently. Stephen Bannon, the head of Breitbart News, has become the chief executive of Trump’s campaign. Fox News founder Roger Ailes, just ousted, is advising the campaign, too.

The overt campaigning for Trump by the likes of Hannity, Ailes and Bannon does no favors for conservatism. And Hannity’s collusion with the candidate and his peddling of conspiracy theories in support of Trump undermine the many serious journalists at Fox News.

But the network has been here before. Remember Glenn Beck? “I tell you all the time: I’m not a journalist,” the self-proclaimed “rodeo clown” liked to tell his Fox News audience.

Instead of journalism, Beck gave viewers paranoia -- helping to create the fear and loathing in the electorate that gave rise to Trump. Before Fox finally showed him the door in 2011, Beck urged viewers to hoard food in their homes, spun endless conspiracy theories, and played with anti-Semitic stereotypes and violent imagery.

Now Trump has run with Beck’s apocalyptic themes -- alarming even Beck, who has become a fierce critic of Trump. When Beck said recently that the Trump campaign’s then-chairman, Paul Manafort, had been illegally soliciting foreign money, Hannity’s Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly, another Trump booster, cautioned Beck that he could “end up in jail” for disparaging Manafort.

“That’s my point,” Beck replied, adding: “Donald Trump has people chanting, ‘Put them in jail, put them in jail,’ about the press. When is someone’s opinion on a public figure something that is jail-worthy and not First Amendment protected?”

Such a question might have troubled Hannity during those occasions when he fancied himself a journalist over the years. Instead, he has gone full Grassy Knoll, in a manner reminiscent of Beck. In recent days, he has floated the theories that Clinton’s Secret Service agents carried a syringe to administer anti-seizure medicine to her (the “syringe” turned out to be a flashlight) and that a video showing what Hannity claimed were “violent, out-of-control movements” of Clinton’s head was evidence of a seizure (she had been joking with reporters).

While we’re doing conspiracy theories, here’s another: Could the highly unpopular Trump have won the GOP nomination if he hadn’t had so much help from Fox News -- and, in particular, from Hannity?

A tally in April by the liberal ThinkProgress blog found that Trump appeared on Hannity’s show 41 times in the first 10 months of his campaign. Hannity talked up Trump’s poll numbers, defended Trump against accusations and asked him questions such as “Is it time for all American politicians to get rid of political correctness?”

Now that Hannity acknowledges advising Trump, he needs only a title to make his role official. Maybe he could be Trump’s personal physician?

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

By catherine rampell

Millennials aren’t buying homes. Good for them.

Millennials aren’t buying homes. Good for them.

Millennial homeownership rates are way, way down. And believe it or not, that’s probably a good thing.

Across all age groups, the U.S. homeownership rate — at 62.9 percent — has now fallen to its lowest level in more than five decades. Among younger Americans only, things look especially paltry.

Homeownership rates among Americans under age 35 are barely more than half the national number, at just 34.1 percent. This too is a record low and about a fifth below its peak from the go-go years of the mid-2000s.

Young people, it seems, are finding themselves falling further and further away from the American dream of homeownership. As you’ve surely heard by now, not only are they not buying their own houses, but they’re also increasingly not even (BEG ITAL)renting(END ITAL) their own places. Instead, they’re returning to — or perhaps, never leaving — the nest.

Today about a third of 18-to-34-year-olds live with their parents. And for the first time since at least 1880, a greater share of this age group is bunking with Mom and Dad than living in any other arrangement (such as dwelling alone or with a romantic partner).

Things have gotten so dire that young adults have now replaced the elderly as the age group most likely to live in multigenerational households, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many colorful theories abound for millennials’ abandonment of homeownership. There are, for example, lots of think pieces about millennials’ purported love of the sharing economy and associated communitarian disavowal of all kinds of ownership — whether that be of houses, cars, or even clothes.

But this explanation is wrong, at least when it comes to housing.

Recent survey data show that young people very much still aspire to buy a home, and expect to do so one day. Among people ages 25 to 34 who rent, 93 percent say they are likely to buy a home someday, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. That compares with just 81 percent of renters overall. The Demand Institute has found similar results.

So why are young people delaying getting that deed?

One, they’re putting off getting married, which many still see as a prerequisite to homeownership. (Though a large chunk of millennials, I should note, instead view homeownership as a prerequisite to marriage.)

Two — and this is part of the reason they’re delaying marriage, too — is that they’re poor.

Relative to earlier generations, today’s cohort of young people is making less money, given their levels of education; more indebted with student loans; more likely to be underemployed; struggling harder to sock away savings; and facing shallower income-growth trajectories.

In short: Millennials want to buy houses, but they simply can’t afford to.

And unlike during the mid-2000s, there’s no credit bubble to paper over their pathetic earnings so they can buy that humble bungalow or huge McMansion.

The reasons behind this homeownership slide are certainly nothing to celebrate. But the slide itself might be.

We as a society tend to overvalue homeownership, at least from a financial perspective. Were it not for the psychic and sentimental benefits of homeownership, it’s otherwise hard to imagine financial advisers counseling their clients to dump all their savings into a single, giant, highly illiquid asset.

Especially one that, on average, shows such meager returns.

Over the past century, home prices have risen an average of about 0.6 percent per year, according to data from economist and Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller. Investing in an index fund has, on average, far higher returns than owning, even after you take into account the costs of renting and the tax subsidies for buying.

For millennials, a mass lifestyle shift away from owning and toward either renting or crashing with relatives could be especially advantageous. That’s because buying a house not only locks up your savings; it also locks you, the owner, into a specific geographic location.

For workers who are just figuring out their careers — and who, given the unlucky timing of their graduations, are more likely to have started out in low-paying positions — this seems especially wrongheaded. We want young workers to be mobile and to have as few frictions for job-hopping as possible. Changing jobs is, after all, the main way young people get raises and derail themselves from a poorly paying job track.

In other realms — such as health insurance — policymakers have been actively trying to reduce this so-called job lock. Millennials’ relative rootlessness, even if involuntary, may have the same effect, by making it easier for young workers to seize better job opportunities if and when they finally do arise.

Catherine Rampell’s email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

By kathleen parker

Hillary’s heel

Hillary’s heel

WASHINGTON -- When I wrote the headline “Hillary’s heel,” I was thinking of Achilles, not Bill, though the former president is usually within nipping range of his wife’s pantsuit hem.

Hillary Clinton’s Achilles’ heel is her very Clinton-ness. Just as her husband was willing to parse the meaning of the word “is” rather than admitting his foibles early on and preventing the national torture of watching his extramarital sex life unfold, Hillary has mastered the habit of teetering along the knife’s edge of truth.

Like a gymnast on a balance beam, she manages to stay within the narrow parameters of lawfulness without losing her footing. But her long history of avoiding provable infractions despite hundreds of hours of investigations and millions in taxpayer expense -- from Whitewater to Benghazi to her private email server -- may soon come to an end, not with a gold medal but with an Olympian loss of trust.

A batch of emails released Monday from Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department, shows how Clinton Foundation donors sought favors. Not all requests appear to have been granted, but the coziness between State and the Clinton family charity raise questions about the integrity of Hillary’s promise to President Obama to build a firewall between the two institutions when she became his secretary of state.

Among examples reported by The Washington Post:

-- Sports executive Casey Wasserman, whose own family’s charitable organization has given the Clinton Foundation between $5 million and $10 million, and whose investment company paid Bill Clinton $3.13 million in consulting fees in 2009 and 2010 -- sought a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past. It was not granted.

-- The crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, whose government had given $50,000 to the foundation, requested a last-minute meeting with the secretary of state. Granted.

-- U2’s Bono, a regular at foundation events, asked for help in broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during a concert tour. Response from State: “No clue.”

These discoveries, among others, may not amount to much in terms of actual favors, but they cast doubt on the integrity of Hillary Clinton’s word. They also go a long way toward confirming her critics’ allegation that the Clintons were in a global pay-for-play arrangement.

One crucial fact is no longer in dispute: Foundation donors got access to the State Department.

The emails became public through a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, and were among 725 pages of Abedin’s correspondence. The stash also included 20 emails between Abedin and Clinton that weren’t included in the 55,000 pages previously provided to State. Meanwhile, the FBI has turned over about 15,000 other emails and documents to State that were discovered during the agency’s investigation of Clinton’s private server.

Judicial Watch is trying to get these released as well. In the meantime, a State Department spokesman says that many of them were plainly personal.

As if these developments weren’t problematical enough, former Secretary of State Colin Powell last weekend denied Clinton’s claim that he advised her to use a private server, as he had done, saying, “Her people are trying to pin it on me.” According to Powell, Clinton had been using her server for at least a year before the two discussed how he had managed his email.

Whether this constitutes a “lie” to the FBI, as some are claiming, or the result of a faulty memory likely will keep busy bees buzzing for a while. But Clinton has bigger worries as more emails continue to trickle out, revealing who knows what. But what we already know from FBI Director James Comey is that his agency’s investigation found insufficient evidence to charge Clinton, though he did say her handling of classified information was “extremely careless” and that she falsely testified to the House Oversight Committee on Benghazi that there was no classified material in any of her email.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln ...

To Republicans, Clinton is a serial liar. To Democrats, she is the perennial target of a right-wing conspiracy. Both appear to be marginally correct. The question for voters may come down to this: How much, if any, substantive harm has Clinton’s lack of absolute clarity on a given subject or event caused?

The only definitive answer thus far is that she has deeply damaged whatever public trust remained -- and for a candidate, this can be fatal.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

By david ignatius

China’s rising influence is felt in Australia

China’s rising influence is felt in Australia

MELBOURNE -- Australia has a split personality when it comes to China: Government officials stress the importance of their strategic alliance with the U.S., even if it upsets Beijing. But business leaders argue that Australia must accommodate the reality of China’s overwhelming economic power in Asia.

It’s an awkward straddle for Australia, as its security and economic interests diverge. “It has often been noted that this is the first time in our history that our No. 1 trading partner is not an ally,” notes Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in an interview here.

The Chinese “have raised scenarios where Australia could be forced to choose between the U.S. and China,” Bishop explains. “This is generally accompanied by warnings that Australia will need to choose its friends carefully, implying that economic partners may be more important than strategic allies.”

A visitor here encounters the debate about how to deal with China’s growing power in almost every conversation. It’s a painful dilemma: Australia has profited enormously from China’s rise, posting 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth, fueled partly by its exports to China. But Australia also has a deep affinity for America and prides itself on an unblemished record of supporting the U.S. militarily, in good times and bad.

This balancing act became more prominent this month when the government decided to block, on national-security grounds, China’s proposed purchase of Ausgrid, the utility that provides power in the New South Wales region that includes Sydney. The Chinese embassy gave a tart statement to The Australian newspaper saying that it was “highly concerned” that its investment had been rejected.

Many Australian business leaders are unhappy, too, about spurning the region’s economic superpower. At a dinner Monday in Melbourne that included some prominent executives, there was near-universal criticism of the government’s Ausgrid decision, which several argued was driven by needless fear among the intelligence establishment about Chinese ownership of part of Australia’s power grid.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull illustrates the twin pull: In his business career as a lawyer, he worked on many lucrative deals in China. But since taking over last September as leader of the governing Liberal Party (which is conservative, in U.S. terms), he has been a critic of Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

Turnbull argues that the prosperity-security split is a false dichotomy, because Australia can’t have the former without the latter. “Our relationship with the United States is becoming more important, not less, as the center of global economic gravity shifts relentlessly towards Asia,” Turnbull said in a recent speech.

For officials across the Australian government, the potential danger from China is clear. They see a China that, under President Xi Jinping, has increasingly sought regional hegemony. Despite a rejection of its claims in the South China Sea last month by an international arbitration panel, Beijing has essentially won its campaign to create potential military bases on reclaimed islands. Australian government officials fear that China wants to treat the Asia-Pacific region in the same arbitrary way it deals with its own people.

One Australian expert likens China’s military rise to the issue of climate change. It’s a gradual and probably unstoppable process: The question is whether to try to mitigate its effects, by taking tough measures, or simply adapt to the inevitable.

The Turnbull government’s willingness to challenge China seems based on two important assumptions. First, Beijing’s continued rise isn’t as inexorable as it has seemed in recent years. Chinese economic growth is slowing, and it’s having trouble implementing economic reforms and creating the consumer-driven economy Beijing says it wants. Second, other Asian nations are becoming powerhouses, too. The Indian economy is now growing faster than China’s; Indonesia’s per-capita GDP has increased 50 percent in the last decade; and Japan is making a slow comeback.

“What we need to ensure is that the rise of China ... [is] conducted in a manner that does not disturb the security and the relative harmony of the region upon which China’s prosperity depends,” Turnbull said last year in his first interview after becoming prime minister.

A poll released this year by the Lowy Institute, a foreign policy think tank that organized my visit to Australia, showed the conflicting pull on the country. Asked which relationship was more important, 43 percent named the U.S, and 43 percent said China.

Australia’s heart and its wallet are in different places. The split may be manageable, but only if America remains a strong and reliable ally -- an issue that many Australians fear is up for grabs in our November presidential election.

David Ignatius’ email address is davidignatius@washpost.com.

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

By esther j. cepeda

One man’s clutter could be another man’s treasure

One man’s clutter could be another man’s treasure

CHICAGO -- In a recent op-ed piece, Stephanie Land characterized the de-cluttering craze, popularized by Marie Kondo’s best-selling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” as a form of class-based scorn.

“In a new documentary about the movement, ‘bad’ consumption is portrayed by masses of people swarming into big-box stores on Black Friday, rushing over one another for the best deals,” wrote Land, a fellow at the Center for Community Change, in The New York Times. “They are, we’re led to understand, slaves to material goods, whereas the people who stay away from mass consumption are independent thinkers, free to enjoy the higher planes of life. But those people flocking to Wal-Mart ... are people teetering on or even below the poverty level, desperate for comfort in their homes. To point to them as a reason to start an anti-consumerism movement is just another form of social shaming.”

I agree -- there’s a lot of hype tinged with snobbery. The minimalism movement has become what Kyle Chayka calls “Silicon Valley’s version of Zen monkhood.”

Writing in The New York Times Magazine, Chayka nailed Land’s discomfort: “Minimalism is now conflated with self-optimization. ... The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet.”

Still, as someone who lives in an area where the Wal-Mart is only a mile from the local Goodwill thrift store, I have a very different take on it: Kondo’s approach may be a conceit of the upper class, but it has undoubtedly enriched the lives of all the working-class people who are lucky enough to live near high-quality second-hand-goods stores.

From the perspective of someone who has been going to Goodwill every Saturday morning since my local store opened in 2011, Kondo’s “Life-Changing Magic” has brought a lot of high-priced glee to a neighborhood whose poverty rate reached almost 21 percent in the years after the Great Recession.

What this means for a low-income family with school-aged children is that when back-to-school time comes around, a mom can usually find new, often-times very high-quality name-brand clothes and shoes -- plus extremely cheap, practically new school supplies like scissors, loose-leaf notebook paper, folders, rulers and required paperbacks like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Great Gatsby” -- for pennies on the dollar.

These families then take the savings from having purchased donated goods down the street to Wal-Mart for the licensed-cartoon-character brand lunchboxes, backpacks and other supplies the kids simply can’t do without for the start of school.

Plus, some of the nation’s top thrift store chains do more than just offer super-nice goods on the cheap. The Salvation Army, for instance, funds adult rehabilitation centers and programs that help people re-enter society and attain gainful employment in part through profits from the donated goods that are resold in their thrift stores.

According to Charlene Sarmiento, the public relations program manager at Goodwill Industries International, people’s donations help fund programs that educate and train veterans and military families, older workers and others entering the job market. The stores and associated programs provide real work experience and career counseling, computer classes, resume reviews, job interview training, and specialized industry education to get people into jobs in their communities.

Last year, Sarmiento said, “Goodwill placed 312,000 people in employment in the U.S. and Canada and nearly 2 million people worked to build their career and financial assets by engaging with Goodwill team members. In addition, more than 35 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills.”

Sarmiento could not make a direct connection between the Kondo craze, which started after the book was published in the United States in 2014, and Goodwill’s 4 to 7 percent increase in donations over the past two years but said, “We know that Kondo’s book has been very popular and we encourage people who are de-cluttering to donate the items they no longer need to Goodwill. ... Many of our friends, family members and neighbors have been able to find jobs and care for their families through your donations to Goodwill.”

De-cluttering doesn’t have to be a vapid exercise in conspicuous austerity. Clean house and help others at the same time by donating to your local nonprofit thrift store.

Esther Cepeda’s email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @estherjcepeda.

(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

By ruben navarrette

Trump’s evolving immigration plan is no ‘flip-flop’

Trump’s evolving immigration plan is no ‘flip-flop’

EDITORS -- Ruben Navarrette is taking a one-week vacation. His next column will move Tuesday, Sept. 6, for release Thursday, Sept. 7. If you have previously requested a substitute column for Navarrette, you will receive the same one. To request a new substitute, contact the Writers Group at writers.group@washpost.com or 800-879-9794, ext. 1.

SAN DIEGO -- Did Donald Trump really just do a total flip-flop on immigration? No, I don’t believe he did.

I think the elite media in New York and Washington are once again showing that they don’t understand the immigration issue well enough to report on it honestly, clearly and comprehensively. This is a topic full of complexity and nuance, and the media aren’t capable of grasping either.

We see the media’s ignorance about immigration on display when networks send reporters to the U.S.-Mexico border to film illegal immigrants when a trip to the neighborhood big-box store in New Jersey or Maryland would suffice, when TV commentators suggest that Americans can deport our way to a solution without thinking about the possibility that those who we deport will come back, and when cable news anchors debate how to punish those who are in the country illegally but turn a blind eye to those U.S. citizens who break the law by hiring them.

Now Trump has reportedly told members of his national Hispanic advisory council that he regretted some of his more hurtful comments about Hispanics and that, if elected, he wants to find a “humane and efficient” manner to deal with immigrants who are in the country illegally.

According to BuzzFeed, which spoke to people at the meeting, Trump stressed that any such accommodation would have to take place in the context of increased border security and his much ballyhooed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. And he still plans to carry out some deportations.

But the real estate developer did seem open to hearing ideas about how to deal with what he acknowledged was the toughest part of the debate -- what to do with those who are in this country without the proper documents.

And in some cases, Trump seemed to admit, the proper remedy might include a pathway to earned legal status. According to Univision, at least one participant heard Trump say that mass deportations aren’t the answer and that a better idea might be to allow the undocumented to sort out their legal status on U.S. soil through “embassies or consulates of their countries.”

Those who characterize this as a flip-flop point to earlier comments such as what Trump said during an interview last August on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The businessman told host Chuck Todd that the undocumented “have to go.” In other interviews, he talked about creating a “deportation force.”

On Sunday, when CNN’s Dana Bash asked Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, if the nominee’s immigration plan still included a deportation force that would remove illegal immigrants, Conway replied: “To be determined.”

The undocumented population in the United States is estimated at about 11 million people. Many conservatives think these people should all be sent home, while many liberals think they should all be allowed to stay.

Both camps are wrong. We can’t treat all these people the same. We need to sift through the population and deport, for instance, the bad actors who have criminal convictions for violent crimes but not the housekeepers who mean no harm and simply want to provide for their children.

That’s common sense, which explains why you don’t hear this sort of thing in proposals coming from Washington -- a place where common sense goes to die.

I would just as soon not defend Trump, especially on immigration. But it doesn’t seem fair for the media to be so quick to label as a “flip-flop” what could just be the separate elements of a balanced approach. After all, President Obama has deported a record number of people while still using executive action to spare others that fate.

If you listen closely to what Trump has said about immigration since he launched his campaign, you’ll see he wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, keep out immigrants who have sinister motives for entering the United States, make it easier for well-intentioned immigrants to come legally, and deport those with criminal records before they do more harm.

Now, Trump may have added a new piece to the puzzle: creating -- for some of the undocumented but not all -- a path to earned legal status or citizenship.

The media might be able to improve their batting average on the immigration issue, and figure out that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this complicated problem, if only they would give Trump something they’re determined to deny him: a fair hearing.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post Writers Group

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