But so far, Saudi commanders have projected no outward signs of concern that the campaign is falling short.


“We should not be impatient for the results,” Brig. Gen. Ahmad Asseri, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, cautioned on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s determination is rooted in something deeper than overcoming insecurity on its borders and the fear that rival Iran could take advantage of it through perceived links to the insurgents. Saudi Arabia’s leaders — backed by its powerful Islamic religious establishment — also have taken on a special role as guardian of both its southern neighbor and the wider Arabian Peninsula.

“This is a blessing . . . but it also places a responsibility on all of us,” King Salman told a gathering of the nation’s political and armed forces elite at his Riyadh palace last week.

This was more than just a rallying call by the monarch, a former defense minister who took the throne in January. It also reflected entrenched Saudi views on Yemen, shaped over decades of intervention, insurrection, tribal politics and intrigue. It also reflected a growing military assertiveness by Saudi authorities, who have received a crucial stamp of approval from the influential Sunni religious leadership that gives the royal family legitimacy to rule over the land of Islam’s holiest sites.

In Saudi calculations, the potential costs of the Yemen intervention — even the risks of further deepening regional tensions with Iran — are overshadowed by the historical imperative of keeping Yemen under Saudi wings, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia sees itself as the big brother of Yemen,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington-based Institute of Gulf Affairs, which is often critical of Saudi policies. “That — more than Iran, more than trying to reinstate Yemen’s Saudi-friendly president — is at the heart of the decision to launch attacks. If Saudi leaders are not calling the shots in Yemen, they get very nervous.”

And probably at no time since the founding of the modern Saudi state more than 80 years ago has the kingdom been less in control of affairs in Yemen.

Yemen has splintered into a patchwork of fiefdoms dominated by forces hostile to Western-allied Saudi Arabia but which are also fighting each other. These include a powerful branch of al-Qaida, groups claiming loyalty to the Islamic State and the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who control the capital, Sanaa, and seek to gain full hold over the second-largest city, Aden.

The immediate goal of the Saudi-led attacks is to restore Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who escaped to Saudi Arabia after rebels closed in on his compound in Aden last week. But Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab partners also have made clear that longer-term objectives are in motion.

That was reinforced last Sunday with a decision by the Arab League to form a joint rapid-reaction military force to respond to regional crises. The move was both a potent message to Shiite power Iran and a sign of greater regional cooperation against threats such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

The stirrings of expanded Arab military resolve already have been on display. Nations including the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have joined U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In February, Egyptian warplanes targeted suspected Islamic State cells in Libya.

Nor has Saudi Arabia been idle. The kingdom has been a critical financier for Syrian rebels seeking to topple the Iranian-backed government of Bashar Assad.

Yemen, however, presents a new slate, experts say. It could become a test ground for a sustained Saudi-directed offensive that reaches beyond the current Houthi showdown and takes aim at al-Qaida and others — possibly even eclipsing the Pentagon’s strategy of drone strikes by bringing in greater firepower and ground forces.

“We are seeing the beginnings of the ‘Salman Doctrine,’ ” said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based defense analyst specializing in gulf affairs. “It says that Saudi Arabia must take a stand to protect the gulf rulers and the status quo of allied states around the Arab world.”

The coalition spokesman Asseri strongly suggested Thursday that the rebels are not the only aim of the intervention, calling the Houthis and al-Qaida “both faces of the same coin.”

“One of the goals of the mission is attacking all terror groups,” he said.

There was a preview of Saudi Arabia’s stronger regional military role under Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah, who answered a call for help from neighboring Bahrain in 2011 by sending in troops to aid the tiny country’s Sunni monarchy, which was facing Shiite-led protests. Yemen is a much bigger stage, with more at stake.

“The Saudis look at Yemen as the soft underbelly of their country,” said Labib Kamhawi, a political analyst based in Amman, Jordan.

In the 1960s, Saudi forces came to the aid of a ruling Shiite dynasty in North Yemen after it was deposed in a coup backed by the pan-Arab nationalist government of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Saudi fight on the royalist side, ironically, was on behalf of Shiite clans, including some that now back the Houthi cause.

But shifting fortunes and alliances of convenience have been a hallmark of Saudi relations in Yemen. Riyadh eventually reworked its strategy and became a financial and military pipeline for the Egypt-allied government in North Yemen, which then split from Marxist-leaning South Yemen.

Meanwhile, the austere Saudi brand of Islam, known as Wahhabism, gained a greater foothold in Yemen through Saudi-funded mosques and groups. These served as sources of intelligence-gathering and recruitment for local fighters against the Houthi rebels, who remained mostly confined to northern enclaves before a series of stunning gains last year. Saudi money also sought to buy loyalty among both Sunni and Shiite tribal sheiks in Yemen and on the Saudi side of the border, a line that in many places is still not clearly defined.

Saudi Arabia became further vested in Yemen through development projects spearheaded by wealthy merchant families with Yemeni ancestral roots.

In 2007, King Abdullah was widely quoted as calling Yemen’s security “inseparable” from that of the kingdom. Two years later, a most-wanted Saudi-born man who trained with Yemen’s al-Qaida branch tried to kill Saudi Arabia’s then-deputy interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef, in a suicide attack. Prince Muhammad was slightly injured and vowed to further increase crackdowns on militants, particularly those linked to al-Qaida in Yemen.

That was before the Arab Spring again reset the political equations in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia threw then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh a lifeline in June 2011, allowing him to take refuge and receive medical treatment after he was badly burned in a bombing by Arab Spring-inspired demonstrators at the besieged presidential compound.

Saleh now appears to have cast his lot with the Shiite rebels in a bid for a political resurrection.

This would mean another player, and another layer of complications, even if Saudi Arabia does manage to get the exiled Hadi back in power. The ultimate outcome will likely leave various factions jockeying for influence and undercutting Saudi Arabia’s traditional top position, said Hashem Ahelbarra, an Al Jazeera correspondent who has closely covered Yemen.

“Yemen,” he said, “is never going to be the same again.”

—- Washington Post staff writer Hugh Naylor in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Within minutes, the hugs spread to Rachel’s two daughters, who help Mom create the best-selling kids’ series “Dork Diaries.


” Nine of every 10 pupils in line were female, and within a few years, these fans will be the same age as the characters in the books. The sense of connection is strong.

So just like that, a three-step routine emerged.

Autograph. Selfie. Hug.

Autograph. Selfie. Hug.

“Children, go report to dismissal,” an adult in charge said to several fans.

“But my friend just came back to get a picture with them,” came the reply from a girl with bouncing black braids, electronic tablet in hand.

“OK, but make it quick, girls.”

Autograph. Selfie. Hugs.

“I’ve had to learn to adjust to it at events,” said Rachel’s elder daughter and contributing writer, Erin Russell, 31.

To her left, younger daughter and illustrator Nikki Russell, 29, leaned in for a photo. A former primary-school teacher, she looked comfortable being at the center of a student swarm.

Autograph. Selfie. Hug.

Rachel knows that the hug requests mean the books are a form of bonding. “I like Oprah and Michelle Obama, and if I ever met them, I could hug them easily,” she said, “because I feel like I’ve already bonded with them and admire their work.”

Ask these huddles of third- through sixth-graders why they like “Dork Diaries” so much, and they’ll excitedly say it’s because of “the humor” and “the cliffhangers” and “the drama.” McNair teacher JC Thomas says a deeper reason, based on classroom feedback, is that the kids just plain relate to the adolescent characters.

Nikki stood up and was soon the one taking photos. A band of students wanted a group pic, but first, Nikki issued her go-to command: “Say ‘Dorky’!” She raised the camera as the kids raised the volume, a proud “geek” chorus of “Door-keeee!”

And when the kids opened their signed books — any one of the eight in the series, until the ninth hits stores June 2 — they saw the same empowering inscription: “Let your inner dork shine!”

The Family Russell stayed to sign every last book. Mother and daughters value the young fans who roam school halls, because that is precisely where, years ago, the personal crucible that forged “Dork Diaries” played out. Before there was a family publishing juggernaut — more than 20 million books in print in some three dozen countries in six years — there were the years of sadness and frustration, pain and resilience.

This is the story of how a mother, through fierce love and literary vision, buoyed her daughters, who had been bullied and harassed and ostracized — and how the three became the most popular of co-authors, one autograph and selfie and hug at a time.

Step into the gleaming foyer of Rachel’s beautifully appointed, seven-bedroom house in Chantilly, Virginia, and it’s striking to think that just six short years ago, she had surrendered her family home.

This, in so many ways, is the House That Dork Built.

Rachel, now 55, worked for many years as a lawyer in Michigan, outside Grand Rapids, and most of the money she made, she says, went to meeting her family’s needs, including multiple college tuitions. Her husband, who was a metals plant manager when they met, pursued a career in medicine and eventually became a public-health official in Iowa. Then out of the blue in February 2008, she says, came the news that turned her life upside down.

Rachel and her husband of 26 years — the father of Erin and Nikki — had built their life on a shared dream, she says, but then one day came a change of plans: He said he was building a new life.

That was the beginning of the most trying of years. Rachel had worked on creating stories but now began “writing for my life.” Amid financial difficulties, she says, she served as her own divorce attorney. That summer, she survived a cancer scare, even as she ended up surrendering her car and house. The divorce process began in April, and she began to plan a fresh path.

By Christmas, Rachel had moved to Northern Virginia to start a new life near relatives.

Rachel, who was born Rhonda Edwards outside Grand Rapids, had always been driven and creative. When Rhonda was in pre-kindergarten, her grandmother would cut up paper grocery bags so the child could draw on them, recalls her mother, Doris Edwards, who lives with Rachel and helps with the family business.

As a child and teenager, she wrote and illustrated books for all four of her siblings, says a younger sister, Kim James.

“As the oldest of five children, Rachel was a trailblazer, always setting and raising the bar and seeking success regardless of her endeavor,” James says. “If something didn’t work out as planned, she’d pick herself up and try again and again until she got it right.

“When Rachel ran for student council during middle school and high school, she didn’t just hang a few posters throughout the school. Rather, she created a full-blown marketing campaign, which consisted of fliers, buttons, posters and stickers. It was a huge success, and she helped me do the same thing,” says James, who is Rachel’s business manager.

Rachel seemed to succeed at whatever she ran for. As a sprinter, she received a track scholarship to Northwestern and holds a retired state record for the 220-yard dash (25.1 seconds), which she set in 1976, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association. After law school at Wayne State, she practiced as a consumer bankruptcy lawyer.

Then, nearing 50, Rachel was suddenly on her own, starting over.

After learning her husband wasn’t returning, she decided to pursue children’s book projects; one involved fairies, the other a socially awkward teen girl. She pitched her work through a publishing-industry website. A Writers House agent, Daniel Lazar, spotted it and had immediate interest. “It was just really funny,” he recalls.

In the middle of 2008, Rachel rapidly landed a two-book deal with Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The publisher fast-tracked the project.

“My message to others is to never, ever give up,” Rachel says. “As long as you are still breathing, there is always hope, and you can still achieve your dreams.”

In May 2009, Rachel’s divorce was finalized.

The next month, the first “Dork Diaries” book, “Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life,” debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.

“It was,” Rachel says, “like a miracle.”

The word “dork” may not mean what you remember it means, particularly on the playground.

Best-selling “Big Nate” creator Lincoln Peirce, who has a new kids’ book out called “Say Good-Bye to Dork City,” remembers when, a quarter-century ago, his syndicate wouldn’t let him use the word in his comic strip because of one particular R-rated definition. “To me,” Peirce says, “it was nothing more or less than a synonym for ‘nerd’ or ‘dweeb.’ “

With the rise of geek culture, the connotations changed.

Now, “it’s a type of self-empowerment,” Peirce says. “If there’s a word that stings, embracing it and making it your own is a way to take away its power to hurt you. Kids understand that better than anyone.”

In 2008, when Rachel was trying to come up with a name for her book — a 14-year-old girl’s diary — she thought of her own daughters’ school experiences. “When Erin and Nikki were younger, they were called dorks at school,” Rachel says. “One morning, Erin got fed up, and she said at the birthday table, ‘Dorks are cool!’ She embraced it.”

Erin was perhaps ahead of her time. But that empowered approach speaks to why kids have bought “Dork Diaries” by the millions and resulted in a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award nomination. Many of the characters are engagingly open about how they wrestle with their imperfections.

The Russell family — as well as Rachel’s mother, sister Kim James and brother Donald Edwards, who aids in this empire — call themselves Team Dork for a reason. “We turned it into a term of endearment,” Rachel says.

Lazar notes that Rachel has employed the word “adorkable” for years, “before Fox was putting it on billboards” for the show “New Girl.” And daughter Nikki, for whom the “Dork Diaries” protagonist is named, says owning the word “dork” means that “we acknowledge that sometimes you may dance to the beat of your own drummer.”

That description fits lead character Nikki Maxwell, an artsy 14-year-old who’s a self-described dork and the “ninth most unpopular girl” at Westchester Country Day. Key characters include her brown-haired crush, Brandon Roberts, and her mean-girl nemesis, MacKenzie Hollister.

Nikki Maxwell is flawed enough that kids can see aspects of themselves, says series editor Liesa Abrams. “Some authors take that pencil eraser to their characters’ flaws, but Nikki is real, which makes her relatable.”

When Nikki is embarrassed that her father is an exterminator, or when she wants to change schools after ruining an art project that was a last-ditch attempt at popularity, that vulnerability is appealing to young readers — especially when Nikki retains the honesty and humor and self-respect to redeem herself by each tale’s end.

Nikki, in other words, has a certain phoenix-like quality — much like Rachel Renée Russell herself.

How often, really, do unknown, first-time authors go from agent query to the bestseller list in less than a year?

Rachel’s timing was typically exquisite.

A few years earlier, author Jeff Kinney, who grew up in Fort Washington, Maryland, had launched his “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. Its popularity — it’s a half-billion-dollar franchise — helped spark a hot market for illustrated children’s novels, which includes such bestsellers as “Big Nate” and “Timmy Failure.”

“Jeff Kinney, with ‘Wimpy Kid,’ had taught retailers how to sell illustrated novels not in the graphic-novel section, but rather in the kids’ section,” says Lazar, Rachel’s agent. “The amazing thing Jeff did was, he taught retailers and consumers that this was as much a novel as ‘Percy Jackson’ is.”

Kinney illuminates the dynamic he helped popularize. “I certainly didn’t invent the concept of an illustrated journal or ‘diary’ fiction,” he says. “I think that what I did was create a very particular format where the interaction of text and comics creates a rhythm, a call-and-response that’s essential to the humor. The DNA of my books is in comics, not literature. In a sense, the books are long-form comics.”

Rachel had long enjoyed diary fiction and says her format was influenced by Erin, who was creating her own comics at about that time.

Rachel also intentionally made Nikki and her two best friends ethnically diverse. “Nikki Maxwell is Caucasian, Zoeysha Ebony Franklin is African-American and Chloe Christina Garcia is Latina,” Rachel says. “I wanted my readers to see themselves in my books. I also have characters who are of Asian and Jewish ancestries, and one uses a wheelchair.”

The approach soon paid off: “Dork Diaries” became ahit.

“I’ve been impressed with the success of the ‘Dork Diaries’ series,” Kinney says. “Rachel has certainly touched a nerve with her writing.”

And to keep touching that audience nerve, Rachel mines the challenges and insults she saw her daughters endure, tapping the universal. When the three Russell women sit around Rachel’s dining table, those wounds readily rise to the surface for examination and inspiration.

In a sleek black-and-gold dress and heels that put her over 6 feet tall, Nikki Russell exudes grace and confidence as she rivets the hundreds of McNair grade-schoolers packing the cafeteria. She is drawing cartoon portraits of students — what she calls “Dorkify-ing” someone — and the kids lean forward on the floor, beguiled.

She might be the picture of poise, but when Nikki was the age of these pupils, she was enduring bullying and teasing. She was artistically expressive and thoughtful, and she became a target — like the time she converted rolling luggage into a colorful, hand-decorated backpack, and classmates kicked it through the halls.

She attended a school outside Grand Rapids. “I really wanted to fit in with people who were my race, only I … didn’t speak in the black vernacular,” Nikki says. She didn’t mind the vernacular, but because of how she spoke, she says, “that singled me out.”

Nikki also got bored in class and could seem disinterested, her mother remembers. “I was in special education at one point,” Nikki says, “and learning needs are not a reason to insult people.” One teacher told her the most she could grow up to be was a grocery bagger.

Motivated by her own school experience, Nikki majored in elementary education at the University of Michigan, then taught primary grades for a time in Northern Virginia, before illustrating “Dork Diaries” became a career move.

“In the beginning, I just wanted to impress my mom,” Nikki says. “I was officially on the project by about book 3.”

Most of Nikki’s art for the books is in one of two styles: cartoon-realistic, with fleshed-out features, and darkly rendered stick figures. “The more I’ve improved it,” she says, “the more daring I’ve become.”

Nikki is moved by the poignancy in her mother’s prose, such as when the lead character is embarrassed by a mean girl in front of the whole cafeteria or feels so down about herself that she wants to leave school. “Nikki Maxwell is very sweet,” she says, “but she is also very honest and is not afraid to tell the truth about what she is feeling and thinking.”

For most of a long, painful decade, there loomed a real MacKenzie Hollister, the popular mean girl in “Dork Diaries.” The true-life “MacKenzie” lived across the street from the Russells in Michigan (though her name has been changed in the books to protect the less-than-innocent).

“This girl was so bad that everyone in my family knew her,” Erin Russell says. “At the bus stop, ‘MacKenzie’ and her friend would harass us. I would stand up for myself, and Nikki would do the same thing, like my sidekick, so I wasn’t alone.”

Mama Russell twice transferred her daughters out of schools because of bullying, but still, always, there was MacKenzie the menace right across the road.

“All of those horrible flashbacks to being a preteen,” Erin says, “now I use them positively.”

Erin exudes a quiet strength, and her natural sense of humor is darker, edgier than the general tone of “Dork Diaries.” You can see it in her college comic strip, “Jaded Joy,” in which humorous twists leave a student chomping down Ritalin instead of candy, and an attempt to protect the ecology backfires, resulting in one bloody duck. Erin likes political satire, too, and won a national college cartooning honor, the Charles M. Schulz Award, while studying creative writing at the University of Michigan.

In 2007, Erin signed a development contract with United Media, which hoped to syndicate “Jaded Joy.” After about a year of her efforts, though, United chose not to launch the strip into a highly competitive market. Amid her parents’ divorce proceedings, Erin took a break from drawing. Four years ago, she came aboard Team Dork as a contributing writer.

Next month, the series will offer “Dork Diaries 9: Tales From a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen,” a story weighted toward MacKenzie instead of Nikki. The change didn’t come without reservations. Abrams, the editor, worried that fans would miss Nikki for long stretches. But the Russells wanted to do a “bad girl” book.

“As a writer and a lover of great theater and an English geek, I love a complex bad guy,” Erin says. “I want to know what’s driving them. That’s why I was really excited to do a MacKenzie book: It shows you that there are reasons for her insecurity and reasons she’s so bad. Maybe that will help a dork understand her better.

“Everyone has a MacKenzie. When we do book signings and tour schools, whenever we joke about MacKenzie, there are kids who want to tell us about their MacKenzie.”

Team Dork has other new adventures bubbling for the future. They’ve made a film deal with Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment, with “Twilight” producer Karen Rosenfelt aboard. They also have a development deal for a reality-TV show with Discovery, Rachel says.

They plan to address cyberbullying in the next two “Dork Diaries” books. In their talks at schools, the authors even go over a list of cyberbullying tips.

And then there’s the blueprint to expand the Russell family’s literary empire. Rachel and Nikki are working on “Locker Hero,” a book that might skew more toward boys, an audience Rachel wants to reach more fully. Erin is working on a children’s story about a fairy prankster who spreads the flu.

And Rachel says she’ll keep writing “Dork Diaries” as long as kids keep reading them.

Meantime, she wants to see her daughters soar ever higher. They once wanted to blend in like drone insects, she says, but they can’t deny their brilliant natures “as butterflies.”

“And ‘Dork Diaries,'” she says hopefully, “is just the launching pad.”

Read More →

The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News is moving to a new delivery website at syndication.


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CLINTON-EMAILS – WASHINGTON — New Clinton emails shows that she and her aides maintained contact with several top donors to Clinton causes. 1,370 words, by Tom Hamburger (Post).

FREIGHTER – Hope is fading for a U.S. container ship that sailed into Hurricane Joaquin and went missing in the Bermuda Triangle with 28 Americans on board. 1,630 words, by Michael E. Miller (Post).

FLOODING – Daily news on the flooding in South Carolina, including the updated death count and information from some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Developing (Post).

SANDERS-RURAL — MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In rural America, a startling prospect: voters Barack Obama lost are looking to Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders. 1,750 words, by David Weigel (Post).

AMTRAK – a Washington-bound Amtrak train derails in Vermont. Developing, by Ashley Halsey (Post).

SCOTUS-INSIDER — WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court let stand a major insider-trading ruling that threatens at least 10 convictions and creates what the Obama administration calls a road map for securities fraud. 790 words, by Greg Stohr (Bloomberg).

BLANKENSHIP – Before death came to Upper Big Branch Mine, Donald L. Blankenship managed his patch of Appalachia like King Coal incarnate. Now Blankenship is on trial, five years after one of the deadliest disasters in the history of American coal killed 29 miners at Upper Big Branch. 1,060 words, by Jef Feeley and Tim Loh (Bloomberg). Upcoming.

PHILADELPHIA — Less than a week after a mass shooter at a community college in Umpqua, Ore., killed nine people, Philadelphia-area schools are on alert because of “threatened violence.” 550 words, by Justin Wm. Moyer (P0st).

TEXTBOOKS — Black lives matter in textbooks, too, say a mother and son who accused the publishing giant of revisionism. 960 words, by Yanan Wang (Post).

PRIVACY – WASHINGTON – Federal agencies are increasingly turning to administrative subpoenas to force people and companies to turn over personal records and other documents. 815 words, by Jerry Markon (Post).

FEDERAL-DIARY – WASHINGTON – CIA director John Brennan is leading the push for federal employees to donate to the Combined Federal Campaign. 900 words, by Joe Davidson (Post).


AFGHAN-POLICY – WASHINGTON – President Obama is seriously weighing a plan to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, according to senior U.S. officials. 800 words, by Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan (Post).

MIDEAST – JERUSALEM – A Palestinian teenager is killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank as violence between Israel and the Palestinians spikes sharply. 1,070 words, by William Booth and Daniela Deane (Post).

CANADA-VEIL — A debate over whether you can wear the niqab at citizenship ceremonies could dictate the outcome of Canada’s elections. 845 words, by Ishaan Tharoor (Post).

SYRIA – Turkey demands that Russia keep its warplanes from crossing into Turkish airspace, warning any cross-border incursions risk “undesired” consequences as Moscow widens its airstrikes to back Syria’s embattled government. Developing (Post).

SYRIA-ASSESS – BEIRUT – As world powers are drawn deeper into Syria’s conflict, the list of reasons why the war won’t end anytime soon is only getting longer. Developing, by Donna Abu-Nasr (Bloomerg).

BRITAIN – MANCHESTER, England – George Osborne expands his remit beyond economic management, giving more power to British cities and bringing a senior Labour figure into his fold. 715 words, by Svenja O’Donnell (Bloomberg). Two photos.

MERKEL – BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany has to live with the mass influx of refugees, confronting critics within her party bloc amid a media report that as many as 1.5 million people may arrive this year. 500 words, by Patrick Donahue (Bloomberg).

ZIMBABWE — JOHANNESBURG — President Mugabe’s oldest allies favor letting the 91-year-old remain in office indefinitely rather than trying to oust him even as Zimbabwe’s economy collapses. 880 words, by Antony Sguazzin (Bloomberg).

JAPAN-CHINA – Talks on Japan-China maritime liaison mechanism deadlocked. 385 words (Japan News/Yomiuri)

POVERTY-GLOBAL – For the first time, less than 10 percent of the world is living in extreme poverty, World Bank says. 450 words, by Adam Taylor (Post).

Science and health

NOBEL (1STLD) — The Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to three scientists for their work in combating parasitic diseases, efforts the committee described as “a paradigm shift” in treatment. 319 words, by Leonard Bernstein (Post). Also moved: NOBEL-BG (Bloomberg).

OCEANS – President Obama announces first new marine sanctuaries in 15 years, one off the coast of Maryland, and the other in Lake Michigan. 910 words, by Chelsea Harvey (Post).

PLANT-SEED – Researchers report that the nut seeds of Ceratocaryum argenteum, a South African plant, are probably meant to mimic antelope droppings. They’re so good, dung beetles are fooled into planting them. 28o words, by Rachel Feltman (Post).

OREGON-QANDA – One public health doctor says violence is contagious, and we should treat it like a disease. 1,975 words, by Ana Swanson (Post).

TSUNAMI – Study: Megatsunami in the Cape Verde Islands some 73,000 years ago hurled boulders nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower. 865 words, by Chris Mooney (Post). One photo.

SODA-QANDA – How Coca-Cola has tricked you into drinking so much of it. 2,390 words, by Roberto A. Ferdman (Post).


TRADE (2NDLD) – ATLANTA – President Obama hails the completion of a historic 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that he said “reflects America’s values,” as his administration turns quickly from the global negotiating table to selling the deal on Capitol Hill. 1,225 words, by David Nakamura (Post). One graphic.

TRADE-BIOTECH – The biotechnology industry criticizes the deal struck by negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to let drugmakers keep data secret for at least five years, saying negotiators should have extended protection for 12 years. 600 words, by Anna Edney and Doni Bloomfield (Bloomberg).

TRADE-SCORECARD – Breaking down the winners and losers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. 1,140 words (Bloomberg).

TRADE-AG – The trade deal resolves the toughest agriculture issues by tinkering. 750 words, by Alan Bjerga (Bloomberg).

TRADE-OBAMA – WASHINGTON – A 12-nation Pacific trade deal cements President Barack Obama’s strategic pivot toward Asia and challenges China to accept U.S.-backed rules for doing business. 990 words, by Toluse Olorunnipa and Mike Dorning (Bloomberg).

BANKING-COMMENT — The latest battle in the war between finance and regulation: the attempt to neuter the CFPB. 830 words, by Barry Ritholtz (Bloomberg).

CENTRAL-BANKS — Increasingly, bond traders are drawing the same conclusion: Central bankers globally are coming up short in their attempts to combat the world’s economic woes. 1130 words, by Andrea Wong and Anchalee Worrachate (Bloomberg).

COMMODITIES-COMMENT — The bottom hasn’t been hit in commodity prices. 1130 words, by Gary Shilling (Bloomberg).

CENTRAL-BANKS — Increasingly, bond traders are drawing the same conclusion: Central bankers globally are coming up short in their attempts to combat the world’s economic woes. 1,130 words, by Andrea Wong and Anchalee Worrachate (Bloomberg

ATM – ATM fees have soared to record highs. 270 words, by Jonnelle Marte (Post).


BANKS — LONDON — U.S. banks will emerge the big winners if the Fed follows global regulators’ “pragmatic” approach to solving the problem of too-big-to-fail banks, analysts and investors say. 690 words, by John Glover (Bloomberg).

MANUFACTURING — The great recovery in manufacturing jobs — a surprising five-year surge after the financial crisis that added 900,000 people to payrolls nationwide — appears to be dead or, at the very least, on hold. 850 words, by Thomas Black (Bloomberg).


PORTUGAL — LISBON — Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho proves there’s life after austerity for Europe’s politicians. 580 words, by Sofia Horta e Costa, Anabela Reis and Henrique Almeida (Bloomberg).


ZAMBIA — LUSAKA — Once feted because of its copper wealth, low debt and stable political environment, Zambia is now being snubbed. 770 words, by Matthew Hill and Mike Cohen (Bloomberg).


VW – The German automaker is exploring options from a simple software upgrade to outright replacing cars as a deadline approaches to present a fix for 11 million rigged diesel vehicles. 615 words, by Elisabeth Behrmann and Tommaso Ebhardt (Bloomberg).

AMERICAN-APPAREL – WILMINGTON, Del. — American Apparel Inc. files for bankruptcy. 665 words, by Steven Church, Matt Townsend and Stephanie Wong (Bloomberg).

AMERICAN-APPAREL-FALL – NEW YORK – Sex, money, betrayal: the bizarre brawl between American Apparel Inc. and its founder, Dov Charney, has all that and more. 745 words, by Matt Townsend (Bloomberg).

GE – GE agrees to sell its corporate aircraft financing portfolio to a lender established last year by Blackstone Group LP to enter the private plane market, as CEO Jeffrey Immelt works to shrink the company’s lending arm. 430 words, by Frederic Tomesco (Bloomberg).

BP – WASHINGTON – The value of BP’s settlement with the U.S. government and five Gulf states over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill rises to $20.8 billion. 630 words, by Rakteem Katakey, Del Quentin Wilber and Margaret Cronin Fisk (Bloomberg).


APPLE – Apple’s mobile-payments system, marking its one-year anniversary this month, has failed to catch on with consumers, according to researcher Aite Group. mon a.m.

TWITTER – SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter names co-founder Jack Dorsey as chief executive officer, betting its co-founder and former leader can revive fortunes at a social-media company that has failed to impress investors since its 2013 initial public offering. 850 words, by Brian Womack and Gerrit DeVynck (Bloomberg). One photo.


NADER – WINSTED, Conn. – Ralph Nader builds his dream museum – of tort law. 1,565 words, by Karen Heller (Post). Two photos.


SCOTUS-EURAIL-COMMENT — Supreme Court opens with a rail trip to Europe. 985 words, by Noah Feldman (Bloomberg).

SCOTUS-COMMENT_ The two cases to watch in this Supreme Court term. 950 words, by Noah Feldman (Bloomberg).

GOP-RACE-COMMENT — The Republican race for 2016 voters starts now. 1000 words, by Jonathan Bernstein (Bloomberg).

OIL-BAN-COMMENT — Should the ban on the export of U.S. crude oil in place since 1975 be lifted? Who cares? What matters is who has oil and how much. 1060 words, by Stephen Mihm (Bloomberg).

HUNT — Can Republicans regain control of their party?. 715 words, by Albert Hunt (Bloomberg).

SCHOOLS-COMMENT — Prohibiting rough-and-tumble play doesn’t make recess safer or kids less apt to hurt others. To the contrary: The bans deprive children of the very experiences they need to master peaceful social interactions. 1000 words, by Virginia Postrel (Bloomberg).

FREELANCE-COMMENT — Yes, the gig economy is piecework, but this is the 21st century, not Dickens. 1200 words, by Megan McArdle (Bloomberg).

URKAINE-COMMENT — Europe is telling Ukraine it must live with Putin. 1015 words, by Leonid Bershidsky (Bloomberg).

TURKEY-COMMENT — The EU must speak out on media repression in Turkey. 875 words, by Marc Champion (Bloomberg).

DRIVERLESS-COMMENT — It’s hard to imagine an Elon Musk world with taxi meters, which means one of them has to go. 1000 words, by Therese Raphael (Bloomberg).

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McCarthy announced his decision at a meeting of House Republicans who gathered to select their choice for speaker ahead of the official floor vote scheduled for Oct.



“We need a fresh face,” said McCarthy in post-meeting press conference, who said he would remain as majority leader. “I don’t want making voting for speaker [on the House floor] a tough one.”

“If we’re going to be strong, we’re going to be 100 percent united. . . let’s put the conference first,” he added, with his wife at his side.

McCarthy addressed questions about whether his statement on the Select Committee on Benghazi – indicating its goal was to nick Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers – was too damaging.

“Well, that wasn’t helpful. I could have said it much better.” McCarthy admitted, adding he “should not be a distraction” from the panel finding the “truth.” “That’s part of the decision as well.”

Following the meeting in which McCarthy announced he was out of the race, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he was “shocked just like everyone else. . .[McCarthy] said something to the effect of, ‘I’m not the guy.'”

Fleming said the 30 to 40-member Freedom Caucus will start with a clean slate of candidates and meet possibly as early as Thursday to discuss who to throw their support behind.

Republican Study Committee chairman Bill Flores, R-Texas, said the party needs to focus on a consensus candidate that can unify Republicans – and that person needs to be someone outside the current list of senior GOP leaders.

“It’s somebody who has earned the trust and respect of the big bulk of the conference,” he said. “And it’s somebody who has hopefully not burned too many bridges.”

Several Republicans leaving the meeting, including moderate Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said it’s unclear who will emerge as the leading candidate for speaker. Boehner is slated to step down on Oct. 30 and the House floor vote is scheduled for Oct. 29.

Amid speculation that an interim speaker might be selected, Rep Hal Rogers, R-Ky., House Appropriations Committee chairman, said he expects Boehner to stay on until a new speaker is chosen.

Asked how this might impact high-stakes negotiations on federal spending and the debt limit, he quipped, “This is all we needed.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is the top choice of many in the GOP to fill the speaker’s shoes. But he reiterated that he is not interested after McCarthy, R-Calif., dropped out.

“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision,” Ryan said in a statement. “Now it is important that we, as a Conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”

Dent, interviewed live on CNN, said McCarthy withdrew because although he could have won a majority of the Republican Conference, he would not have had 218 votes on the House floor.

Dent said it might be necessary to form a “bipartisan coalition” with Democrats to elect the next speaker and avoid having to appease the “rejectionist wing” of his own party, which he said has made the House ungovernable by insisting on “unreasonable demands.”

Other names that were floated amid Thursday’s chaos were Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, head of the Freedom Caucus.

There was also a wealth of buzzing amid the chaos about a letter sent by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., on Tuesday to Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

In the letter, Jones called for any leadership candidate who has committed “misdeeds” since joining Congress to drop out of the running. He did not specify what he was referring to.

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving the third district of North Carolina for the past 20 years in Congress,” Jones wrote.

“Some of the most difficult times have been when our Republican leaders or potential Republican leaders must step down because of skeletons in their closets. We’ve seen it with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Bob Livingston, who ran for Speaker in 1998 . . . As members of the House of Representatives, we need to be able to represent the will of the people unhindered by potentially embarrassing scandals.”

The mayhem is reminiscent of the Republican game of thrones in 1998, following an especially poor showing by Republicans in the midterm elections during the impeachment debate surrounding Bill Clinton.

Gingrich was forced to step down as speaker when Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., a friend, challenged him. But Livingston, too, decided against the race after questions were raised about infidelity to his wife. The move eventually paved the way for Dennis Hastert of Illinois to assume the speakership.

Asked by a reporter if the Jone’s letter influenced his decision, McCarthy said: “Nah, nah.”

From the Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada promptly responded to the news by urging Republican leaders to quickly move legislation that would lift the government’s debt limit, which the Treasury Department estimates will be hit around Nov. 5.

“Republican chaos is likely to get worse before it gets better but the economic livelihood of the American people should not be threatened as a result of Republicans’ inability to govern,” he said in a statement.

To claim the speaker’s chair, a Republican will have to claim a secure a majority of those present and voting in an Oct. 29 vote on the House floor. Without Democratic votes, a Republican nominee for speaker can’t afford to lose more than 29 votes.

McCarthy’s hopes of uniting Republicans took a blow Wednesday when a close-knit group of roughly 40 hard-line conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, said it would back a low-profile Florida lawmaker, Rep. Daniel Webster, instead.

The group said it intended to vote as a bloc in Thursday afternoon’s party election and left open the possibility that they might unite against McCarthy on the House floor in three weeks, denying him the speakership. They didn’t even get that far.

In a statement announcing their endorsement, the Freedom Caucus suggested their position might change if “significant changes to conference leadership and process” were made, and that their numbers give them leverage to demand those changes from the next speaker.

“He has three weeks to make systemic changes,” Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, said of McCarthy. “Not just talk about the changes, but to show exactly what he’s going to do.”

– – –

Washington Post staff writers William Branigan, Kelsey Snell and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.

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Most private loans require students to have a co-signer, often a parent or grandparent.


And having someone else’s name on the loan can help you get a lower interest rate since the co-signers are obligated to repay the debt if the borrower does not. But experts say that families should be careful of this arrangement.

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report that found 90 percent of private student loan borrowers who applied to have the co-signer of their loan released from the contract were rejected. Without that release, co-signers run the risk of having their credit ruined if the borrower falls behind on payments. And the borrower could have their loan automatically placed in default if the co-signer dies or declares bankruptcy.

“For parents that really can’t afford to pitch in much for their child’s education, co-signing a private loan is one way to help, but it definitely comes with risks,” Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, said in an interview.

Families will not face the same sorts of risks when they take out federal student loans, which have stronger consumer protections and more flexible repayment terms. And federal loans generally have lower interest rates than private loans.

However, more private lenders _banks, credit unions and other financial firms that provide education loans_are starting to offer competitive rates. Parents and graduate students with stellar credit can now find private loans with fixed interest rates around 5 percent from lenders like Citizens Bank or CommonBond.

By comparison, the interest rate on a federal Plus loan for parents will be 6.84 percent for the upcoming school year, while graduate students can expect to pay 5.84 percent interest on their federal loans starting in July. There are also origination fees_ over 1 percent on federal Stafford loans and 4.27 percent on Plus loans_that most private lender no longer charge.

Still, private lenders fall short when it comes to cutting borrowers some slack on the terms of their loans, according to the CFPB report.

Lenders advertise that they will release a co-signer from the loan agreement if the borrower has made consistent on-time payments. Yet some lenders and loan servicers — the middlemen who accept and apply payments to the debt — have borrowers jump through additional hoops, according the report. They ask for proof of graduation, a letter from the co-signer and even conduct credit checks.

In some cases, borrowers can be disqualified for a co-signer release if they prepay their loans or if they have their loans placed in forbearance _temporarily suspending payments.

The CFPB first reported on problems with co-signer releases last year, when it found that some people who paid private student loans on time were being placed in default when the co-signer of their loans died or declared bankruptcy. At the time, the bureau had received numerous complaints from consumers about “auto default” that occurred even if the loans was being paid on time.

While the bureau has since seen a decline in those complaints, Chopra said private student loan contracts still contain clauses that let lenders demand the entire balance immediately and place the loan in default if the balance isn’t paid. And what’s worse, the bureau found that some contracts have clauses to trigger a default if the borrower or co-signer falls behind on any other loans held with the institution, like a mortgage or car loan.

“Lenders should scrub through their contracts to see if some of these clauses in the fine print even make sense,” Chopra said. “Servicers should come clean about what the criteria is for co-signer relief and they should make the applications clearly available online.”

The CFPB would not release the names of the private lenders whose contracts it reviewed, but the industry is dominated by a handful of players, including Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo and Discover Financial Services. Private lenders only hold about 7 percent of the total $1.3 trillion student debt, according to Measure One, a company that tracks private student loans.

Sallie Mae spokesman Richard Castellano said the company is completely transparent about its co-signer release, which is available to students who have graduated and made 12 consecutive on-time payments.

“We provide details on co-signer release eligibility in student loan marketing materials, on SallieMae杭州桑拿会所,, and through our customer service center,” he said. “It is also our policy not to place a loan in default when a co-signer dies, and we modified our loan agreements last year to reflect this policy.”

Castellano added that Sallie Mae is willing to modify the terms of student loans for customers who have trouble repaying.

Similarly, John Rasmussen, head of education financial services at Wells Fargo, said the company has flexible terms for borrowers experiencing hardship, and will release co-signers from a student loan contract when the borrower “demonstrates the capacity to assume sole repayment responsibility for the loan.”

Chopra said while private lenders have become a little more responsive to families, the “devil is in the details” of their contracts.

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The al-Khawaja family bugs the Bahraini monarchy.


This week, a judge in Bahrain increased the prison sentence of Zainab al-Khawaja, 30, a human rights activist and mother of two, to more than five years, partly on a charge of ripping up a photo of Bahrain’s king.

Bahraini authorities have imprisoned her human rights activist father for life and sentenced her sister to a year in prison and forced her into exile in Europe. Her mother was fired from her job, and another sister has been unable to get a government permit to work as a nurse, despite finishing at the top of her nursing school class.

“The al-Khawaja family is a symbol, and an example of how all of our families are suffering,” said Said Yousif al-Muhafdah, another pro-democracy human rights activist who was jailed by the Bahraini monarchy but now lives in Germany, where the government granted him political asylum because of his fear of one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East.

The situation of the al-Khawaja family underscores the delicate and awkward relationship between the United States and an island nation that hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, has sent fighter jets to help the U.S-led bombardment of the Islamic State and sits little more than 100 miles across the Persian Gulf from an increasingly assertive Iran.

Bahrain’s Shiite community, which makes up a majority of country’s Muslim population, has long felt discriminated against and persecuted by the country’s Sunni monarchy. Shiites led a huge protest in early 2011 at the dawn of the Arab Spring at downtown Manama’s Pearl Roundabout.

Bahraini authorities, with the help of the Saudi military, brutally crushed that demonstration, and dozens of people died. Protests have continued almost nightly in villages throughout the island, and police regularly respond with tear gas, bird shot and batons — resulting in deaths and maimings. Several police officers have also been killed.

Bahrain is engaged in what Amnesty International recently called “a chilling crackdown on dissent” that still includes “torture, arbitrary detentions and excessive use for force against peaceful activists and government critics.”

In a written statement, the Bahraini Embassy in Washington rejected the Amnesty report as “unverified” and “unsubstantiated.” It said Bahrain had made “monumental strides” on its human rights record and reconciling with political opponents.

The statement said Bahrain had established an independent ombudsman to investigate abuses by security personnel; prosecuted more than 50 police and security officers last year for criminal acts; paid more than $26 million to people “affected by the unrest;” and provided human rights training to more than 5,000 police and more than half the judiciary.

“This illustrates the unwavering commitment by the Government to improve transparency and accountability,” the statement said.

Washington increasingly pushes Bahrain on its human rights record, and while it continues to provide Bahrain with military equipment, it withholds “the export of some articles, including crowd-control items, and those that could be used for internal security,” according to a written statement from the State Department.

But U.S. officials always seem extremely careful not to cross any lines that might seriously damage relations with a key ally, especially at a time of rising instability in the region.

The delicate dance between the Bahrainis and Washington reached its most awkward moment last summer, when Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor was declared “persona non grata” and ordered to leave Bahrain after he met with representatives of a Shiite opposition party. He was finally allowed to return to Bahrain in December, but only after Secretary of State John Kerry called to complain about the highly unusual breach of diplomatic protocol.

Bahraini officials later arrested one of the opposition figures Malinowski met with, Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the Shiite Al-Wefaq party. A State Department statement said the United States was “deeply concerned.”

U.S. officials have called for the immediate release of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist who is facing up to 10 years in prison for making allegations on Twitter that the Bahraini government tortures prisoners. He was sentenced to six months last year for a tweet alleging that Bahraini men who joined the Islamic State terrorist organization had previously worked for Bahraini security forces, which he called an “incubator” of radical ideology.

Bahrain’s mainly Shiite protesters say they are sick of what they consider a Sunni dictatorship that is discriminates against them in housing, employment and even religious worship. They want democracy.

But Bahrain’s Sunni government is convinced that the protests are little more than a plot backed by Shiite Iran to destabilize their nation. The officials are undeterred by the fact that the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, formed after the 2011 debacle, found no evidence of any foreign influence in Bahrain’s affairs.

“Iran has not shied away from meddling into the Bahrain domestic affairs,” the embassy statement said. Bahrain, it said, “has seen a surge in violence in the past few years where rioters are deploying increasingly skilled and professional targeted attacks against security personnel and civilians. Several individuals have been found to receive funding, training, arms and guidance from Iran to carry out attacks in the country.”

The protesters and human rights activists said the Bahrain uprisings are homegrown and have nothing to do with Iran. But Bahrain’s fear of Iranian influence has only grown as the Syrian conflict, the rise of the Islamic State and the Iran-backed chaos in Yemen have underscored the rising influence of Iran in the region.

Amid it all, the al-Khawaja family has become a potent emblem of Bahrain’s upheaval.

Zainab al-Khawaja’s father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, 54, is serving his life sentence on charges including “terrorism” and “attempting to overthrow the government.”

The charges stem from role as a leader of the largely peaceful pro-democracy uprising in February and March 2011, which was crushed when King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa called on his Sunni allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to send in soldiers.

An independent inquiry also found Bahraini authorities guilty of widespread torture of detained protesters, many of whom were doctors, nurses and other professionals.

In the middle of the protests, Bahraini police raided Khawaja’s home and arrested him, beating him so severely that he required surgery and metal plates to put his face back together, according to human rights activists who have monitored his case.

His family and rights groups say he has been tortured and abused regularly in prison since then. He has staged hunger strikes and become one of the most high-profile prisoners.

“These sentences are a joke,” said Zainab al-Khawaja’s sister, Maryam al-Khawaja, 27, who has been living in exile in Denmark for years and has become a well-known international advocate for democracy and human rights in Bahrain.

“We don’t have a dysfunctional justice system, we have a highly functional injustice system,” said Maryam al-Khawaja, who spent a year at Brown University on a Fulbright scholarship and has testified in the U.S. Congress about Bahrain’s rights record.

Maryam al-Khawaja said she returned to Bahrain last summer, despite fears that she might be arrested, because she was worried about the health of her father, who was on a hunger strike in prison.

She said she was arrested at the airport and charged with assaulting police officers — although she said the officers actually assaulted her. She spent the next three weeks in prison. She said she went on hunger strike, demanding to be allowed to see her father. After four days without eating, she was granted a visit.

She said her father was frail, emaciated and could barely walk or talk.

She was allowed to leave Bahrain, but convicted in absentia of assault and sentenced to a year in prison. She said if she returned she would be jailed, so the charge was simply a way to make sure she stayed away.

Zainab al-Khawaja could not be reached for comment. She is at home in Bahrain, free despite the prison sentence against her.

She has two children, a 5-year-old girl and a son who was born at the end of November. Maryam al-Khawaja said she believes that the government is worried about the bad publicity of throwing the mother of such a young baby in prison, but added, “They will go for her eventually.”

Zainab al-Khawaja has been arrested and jailed several times in recent years, all because of her involvement with anti-government protests.

“Zainab has sat down in the middle of the street, and refused to run in the face of tear gas and bird shot,” Maryam al-Khawaja said. “That drove them nuts. It’s easy to fight people who are throwing stones, but what do you do with someone who refuses to budge?”

Maryam al-Khawaja said that during a court appearance in October, her sister addressed the judge and said: “I’m a free person, born to free parents. And my son, when he is born, is going to be free.”

She then ripped up another picture of King Hamad, Maryam al-Khawaja said.

“There were no cameras there, it was not for publicity,” she said. “She just wanted to show that she had freedom of expression, and that she couldn’t be silenced.”

She was jailed for several weeks, and released a few days before her son was born in November.

In December, she was sentenced to four years and four months in prison for “insulting the king” and “destroying government property” for ripping up photos of the king, and “insulting a police officer,” for an argument she had with a prison guard during a visit to see her father.

This week, a judge added an additional nine months to her sentence — for a total of more than five years — on a charge of trespassing in a restricted area. Maryam al-Khawaja said her sister had heard that her father’s health was deteriorating, so, heavily pregnant, she went to the prison. As she approached the prison, she was arrested.

In its statement, the Bahraini Embassy said Zainab al-Khawaja’s supporters have attempted to “sensationalize” the charges against her. For example, it said, she “was not charged with tearing up a picture but with vandalism as she was destroying public property while in a police station.”

It said she had committed more “serious offenses,” including attempting to approach the restricted area around the prison.

“Ms. Al-Khawaja has a behavioral pattern of defying very standard procedural laws (in this case attempted entry into a prison outside of normal visiting hours) in efforts of capturing any international attention,” it said.

“It is unfair to expect the government, which has worked strenuously towards reform and reconciliation, to remain idle as hard-liners continue to disrupt law and order in attempts to achieve personal objectives,” the statement said.

To understand Bahrain’s ongoing uprisings, I visited the country in October 2012 and met with Bahraini government officials, business leaders and human rights activists and attended several protests. One Friday afternoon, just before a big protest in the Old Souk at the center of Manama, I met with Zainab al-Khawaja in a coffee shop, where passersby asked to have their photo taken with her.

“We have a king who has been killing and torturing his own people,” she said in perfect English. “We should have the right to protest against that.”

Khawaja, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Beloit College in Wisconsin, said she had been arrested six times in the previous 10 months, and that there were then 13 separate charges pending against her, mainly for participating in illegal protests.

She said police broke her leg earlier that year when they intentionally fired a tear gas canister directly into her leg at close range. She said she has been beaten by her jailers in front of her visiting toddler daughter.

She said she ripped up the king’s photo, twice, in front of police who were arresting her. “I believe that everybody should be ripping up the king’s picture,” she said. “This guy is a dictator. Ripping up his picture is a peaceful way to show that we do not accept this dictatorship.”

Khawaja was clearly fiery and passionate, but she spoke of her commitment to nonviolence and peaceful change. She said she was disappointed with the U.S. government’s approach to Bahrain.

“I believe in the basic goodness of the American people, but not the American government,” she said. “The American government cares more about their political interests than they do about freedom and democracy. By supporting the dictatorship here, they are making the people feel hopeless.”

And with that, she tightened her head scarf and walked out into the Souk’s narrow alleys, where police carrying tear gas and pepper spray were waiting for the protest to begin.

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The university would assume ownership of the landmark Beaux-Arts home of the Corcoran, near the White House, and the College of Art and Design would become part of the university.


The National Gallery would take initial responsibility for the Corcoran’s 17,000 pieces of art and, after a period of study, would acquire a large fraction of them. The rest would be donated to museums around the country, with priority given to the District of Columbia.

The Corcoran’s art, worth an estimated $2 billion, includes paintings by Degas and Gilbert Stuart, the famed 1770 Salon Dore, and world-class collections of photography, contemporary and American art. Although the best work would stay in Washington, one of the great 19th-century collections would be partially dismantled.

The surprise proposal — most recently, the Corcoran had been exploring a collaboration with the University of Maryland — outlines a dramatic solution to a financial emergency and an identity crisis that have plagued the beloved institution, off and on, for generations.

But the change comes not without cost of another, more emotional, kind.

“There is no way to continue the Corcoran as we knew it or as we know it,” said Peggy Loar, interim director and president of the Corcoran. “That’s going to be the kernel of pain for some people.”

Still, she insisted, the Corcoran’s legacy and mission will endure in more than just name within the two partner institutions.

“What we want to make sure as stewards of the Corcoran as we know it is, we want to make sure that innovation continues. We want to make sure that education continues. And we want to make sure the building can be brought back to its original beauty,” Loar said.

That and more will come to pass, according to top officials of George Washington University and the National Gallery.

“It’s a huge gift to the nation,” said Earl “Rusty” Powell III, director of the National Gallery. He estimated the National Gallery could acquire more than 50 percent of the Corcoran’s collection but said it is too early to say for sure. “We’ll be able to expand our modern and contemporary exhibition program to be housed in the most beautiful galleries of any museum in the country.”

The National Gallery would exhibit modern and contemporary art in the Corcoran building under the name Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. Works that the National Gallery adds to its collection would be credited as coming from the Corcoran Collection. And the National Gallery would maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery in the building, featuring works closely associated with the Corcoran’s history in its 17th Street NW building.

Admission will be free. One reason the Corcoran began slipping was the rise of government-subsidized competitors that did not have to charge visitors to help pay the bills. The National Gallery will not pay rent but will cover routine exhibition costs.

Meanwhile, art students will profit from mingling and studying in the same spaces as professional curators presenting powerful work, a signature facet of the Corcoran’s rare model of a combined gallery and college.

“It just gives us unparalleled opportunities to be innovative in thinking about a new model for arts education,” said GWU President Steven Knapp.

George Washington would pay nothing for the building — worth an estimated $40 million to $60 million if gutted for offices — but would be responsible for renovation costs estimated at tens of millions of dollars. The college would retain its identity within the university, although degrees would be granted by the university.

The arrangement dovetails with GWU’s expansion of its arts life, including moving the Textile Museum to the GWU campus.

“This takes all those activities to a new level of prominence, impact and influence,” Knapp said.

The bold pronouncements came with an important asterisk. The three partners have a deadline of April 7 to set the details of the collaboration. Leaders of all three institutions said they were confident the deal would be done.

Washington has heard this before. Last April, with near equal confidence, the Corcoran and the University of Maryland announced a memorandum of understanding to begin discussions on a collaboration that would save the Corcoran. The deadline on the talks was the end of the summer.

With time and operating money dwindling, gallery leaders had a critical shift of thought about the range of solutions they would consider. Until then, they had insisted that the gallery and the college remain together.

By this past December, gallery leaders were willing to contemplate separating the two. They reignited talks with George Washington and the National Gallery. There had been discussions with those two in the past, but neither had wanted to take on both the school and the gallery.

The future of Corcoran employees is not clear. GWU will assume the current one-year contracts of full-time college faculty, Loar said. The National Gallery will be consulting with gallery curators, Powell said.

Corcoran administrative departments that are duplicative might not survive the transition.

“We’re going to save as many [positions] as we can,” Loar said.

Corcoran supporters greeted the news with some sadness, but also with practical resignation and hope for the future.

“It sounds like kind of the best thing you can do in a desperate situation,” said David Levy, a former director of the Corcoran. “It’s good for the art. It will be better cared for and well displayed. But it’s the end of a very long and kind of wonderful era.”

“It seems like the Corcoran is being dissolved. . . . It’s dispiriting,” said a gallery employee who declined to be identified to protect the employee’s job.

Roy Slade, a Corcoran director in the 1970s, said he was shocked by the announcement. “I’m a little concerned about everything being split up, but I have great respect for [the National Gallery’s] Earl Powell and his stewardship of the collection,” Slade said.

“GW is a great idea, we were hoping for GW at the beginning,” said Jayme McLellan, a founder of the advocacy group Save the Corcoran. But, she added, “We’re going to lose what the collection is now. . . . The end of the Corcoran has come.”

Whenever a nonprofit undergoes a radical change in form or mission, it follows a legal process, in this case overseen by the District of Columbia attorney general’s office, Loar said. The Corcoran has already had preliminary discussions with the office, she said. A spokesman for the attorney general declined to comment.

One of the nation’s first fine arts galleries, founded in 1869, the Corcoran expressed the passion and philanthropy of William Wilson Corcoran, a co-founder of Riggs Bank, who championed American art, along with the foreign inspirations for American art. The college was founded in about 1890 and today is one of the last examples of the once-popular 19th-century model of a museum-college hybrid. In later decades, the Corcoran’s dual mission was a source of strength — yet, increasingly, also confusion — for its fundraising and programming efforts.

GWU’s responsibility to renovate the historic building could be costly. Gallery officials estimated the price 18 months ago at $130 million. That number alone — when the Corcoran routinely has run $7 million deficits on a $32 million budget — was enough to prompt the gallery’s board of trustees to consider drastic action, including selling the historic building.

Knapp pointed out that the university would not be renovating the building as a museum, which would not cost as much. He also said he did not trust previous estimates and would rely on the university’s own building experts. The university will raise funds to cover the cost, and the Corcoran would contribute a yet-to-be determined amount from its assets. The economically struggling Corcoran has “not much” money to offer, Loar said.

At the same time, GWU would take over the Corcoran College building in Washington’s Georgetown area. Details of how the college would be integrated with the university — will students apply separately to the Corcoran program? — need to be worked out, Knapp said.

In the fall, the Corcoran college had 554 undergraduate and graduate students, down 26 percent since fall 2010. Annual undergraduate tuition and fees for the college are $31,130, according to the College Board. GWU’s comparable arts programs — including fine arts, art history and museum studies — are smaller, but overall, GWU is the largest college or university in the District of Columbia, with 25,264 students as of fall, with undergraduate tuition and fees of $47,343.

The Corcoran will continue as a much smaller nonprofit organization pursuing the original mission set 145 years ago by William Wilson Corcoran — “dedicated to art and encouraging American genius” — Corcoran leaders said.

In voting unanimously for the plan, said Loar, the Corcoran board “had to say, okay, put public relations over here, put fear of the unknown over here, and what is the best decision we can make for everybody concerned?”

– – –

Washington Post staff writers Nick Anderson, Katherine Boyle and Lonnae O’Neal Parker contributed to this report.

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Previn is Mia Farrow’s adoptive daughter, and she and Allen met when he was dating Farrow.


Allen and Farrow split in 1992 when Farrow found nude photographs of Previn, taken by Allen. They had been a couple, and they co-parented but maintained separate households, for more than a decade. Allen married Previn in 1997, and they have remained married since.

If the circumstances of his relationship with Previn weren’t eyebrow-raising enough, his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow accused Allen of sexual abuse in an open letter published in the New York Times last year, recounting his alleged abuse in excruciating detail. Allen denied any wrongdoing.

In an interview with NPR, Allen, 79, revealed his attitudes about relationships as they’re reflected in “Annie Hall,” and how they play out in his marriage to Previn. The basic attitude of “Annie Hall” is that “love fades.”

“I lucked out in my last relationship,” Allen told Sam Fragoso. “I’ve been married now for 20 years, and it’s been good. I think that was probably the odd factor that I’m so much older than the girl I married. I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing.”

Allen seems to contradict the wishes of his wife and the way she’d like to be seen, though it’s hard to say because she hasn’t spoken publicly on the matter nearly as much as Allen or Farrow. In a statement released to Newsweek in 1992, written when she was 21 years old, Previn was pretty adamant that she didn’t want her relationship with Allen characterized by his paternalism.

“Please don’t try and dramatize my relationship with Woody Allen,” she wrote. “He was never any kind of father figure to me.”

Previn later continued, “I’m not a retarded little underage flower who was raped, molested and spoiled by some evil stepfather — not by a long shot. I’m a psychology major at college who fell for a man who happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Mia. I admit it’s offbeat, but let’s not get hysterical.”

Allen told NPR he didn’t think the relationship would amount to much, which seems almost counter-intuitive, given the scandal that initially surrounded it and continues to follow him. He and Roman Polanski are members of a club that is dubious at best, known as auteurs who have escaped any real consequences for their actions despite being accused of sexual abuse toward underage girls.

Said Allen:

“I thought it was ridiculous. … I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn’t be serious. But it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor, actually.

“She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things. She took them, and outstripped me in certain areas that I showed her. That’s why I’m a big believer in luck. I feel that you can’t orchestrate those things. Two people come along, and they have a trillion exquisite needs and neuroses and nuances, and they have to mesh. And if one of them doesn’t mesh, it causes a lot of trouble. It’s like the trace vitamin not being in your body. It’s a tiny little thing, but if you don’t have it, you die.”

In 1992, Previn attempted to explain the relationship and its appeal for her. “I have a terrific relationship with Woody and realize it’s full of dramatic overtones, but it’s really quite simple,” she wrote. “It revolves around conversations, film talk, sports talk, books and art. He’s very quiet and hardworking and finds it amazing and ironic that our relationship is of such interest to people.”

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When the brindle-and-white dog suffered a debilitating infection in 2008, Waltz was unable to watch her companion in pain and decided to euthanize her.


When Marti Gra took her last breath in Waltz’s arms, anguished tears welled in Waltz’s eyes. The veterinarian, meanwhile, approached the procedure with a disconcerting nonchalance; his clinical lack of empathy and apparent disregard for her grief left Waltz reeling.

“For me, I vowed at that point that I didn’t want to be a vet like that,” Waltz said.

Now a fourth-year veterinary student at Virginia Tech, Waltz, 29, is among a class of future doctors learning that saying goodbye to patients they often come to love like their own – and understanding what their human owners are going through – can be the hardest part of the job.

Euthanasia is one of the most common procedures veterinarians perform, and some individual doctors put more than 100 of their patients to death each year. Experts say that can exact an indelible psychological toll. And now college programs training future veterinarians are paying special attention to the emotional aspects of death.

College professors now realize that veterinarians face unique stressors compared with any other career, even within the medical field. It’s considered the only medical profession in which killing your patient is not only acceptable, but also occasionally encouraged as the best possible resolution to alleviate suffering. The term euthanasia is derived from the Greek words “eu,” meaning good, and “thanatos,” meaning death.

“A good death is tantamount to the humane termination of an animal’s life,” according to a 102-page report published by the American Veterinary Medical Association on guidelines for euthanasia.

As difficult as euthanasia can be for pet owners, the sense of loss can be magnified for veterinarians who grow attached to patients that they watch grow from puppies to old dogs with snow-flecked snouts.

“It takes something out of you,” Virginia Tech professor Harold C. McKenzie III said. “It weighs on me. It’s a cumulative toll. It weighs more heavily on me now than it did 20 years ago.”

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that veterinarians experience suicidal thoughts at a significantly higher rate than the average population.

The CDC study found that among 10,000 veterinarians who took part in a 2014 survey, 14 percent of men and 19 percent of women had considered suicide since leaving school, which is three times the national average.

In response, veterinary schools across the country are changing how euthanasia is taught in classrooms by emphasizing ways to cope emotionally, including grieving alongside clients in their anguish.

“Classically, in the old tradition, we ignored this very human side of the profession,” said Jennifer Hodgson, associate dean for professional programs at Virginia Tech. “We used to teach just the science and didn’t talk about how you think and how you feel. We can’t train the next generation of students like that.”

At Colorado State University, the veterinary school offers a course called the healer’s art, which explores “the mystery and awe in life,” during which a medical professional and students discuss the emotions that accompany euthanasia, said associate dean Melinda Frye.

At Iowa State University, professor Dawn Sweet teaches a course for veterinary students on communication in tense moments and “how important it is to build and cultivate a relationship with your client so you can foster trust.” Jim Clark, a professor at the University of California at Davis, said that, school-wide, “there’s a growing focus on recognizing the importance of mental well-being among veterinary students.”

Veterinary students at Virginia Tech are exposed to the realities of euthanasia beginning in their first year of classes. Throughout their four years, students take part in lectures and seminars on the ethics of euthanasia and discuss how to break bad news to clients.

“I see it as a gift of veterinary medicine to make it so that our animals don’t have to suffer at the end of their lives,” said Army Col. Bess Pierce, a Virginia Tech veterinary professor. “I have gotten more thank-you cards from euthanasias that were done compassionately than anything else. It makes such an impression on owners who needed it the most.”

Pet owner Michael Brodie of Coral Springs, Florida, said that veterinarians and their staff can bring comfort in subtle ways before, during and after a euthanasia procedure. Brodie recently had to euthanize his family’s poodle mix, Milton, who had suffered heart problems.

“I knew that the next time I was going to the vet that it was going to be his final time,” he said.

When he and his wife arrived with Milton, the office staff members guided them to a private waiting room and arranged for Brodie to pay for the procedure ahead of time, knowing that he would be dealing with the emotions of the euthanasia afterward. The veterinarian ensured that Milton was wrapped in a blanket and that Brodie and his wife held the dog as a fatal dose of drugs was administered. Afterward, the vet offered words of sympathy and let Brodie and his wife sit with Milton to grieve for as long as they wanted. Brodie said that the office receptionist cried with them.

“They wanted to make sure it was the most comfortable way that we wanted,” Brodie said. “It was calm and quiet. Very dignified.”

Virginia Tech students learn to sit side-by-side with a pet owner, rather than directly across, as they discuss end-of-life options and how to listen to client concerns without judgment. Admissions director Jacquelyn Pelzer said that professors bring in actors to simulate situations with clients and record video of how the students react.

“It doesn’t come natural to a lot of students,” she said.

But students relish the opportunity in the simulations to learn to best address clients in such fragile moments.

“Even as young students, we’re so unequipped to deal with people’s emotions because it’s not something you are taught in school,” Waltz said.

Pierce said that she trains her veterinary students to sit with pet owners and talk through the procedure to help reassure pet owners who choose to witness the euthanasia. For dogs, the first step is to administer a sedative, often injected through an intravenous catheter inserted into the animal’s cephalic vein, located near the top of their front leg. Once the dog is quiet and calm, the veterinarian will inject what is essentially an overdose of an anesthesia drug known as pentobarbital to stop the animal’s heart. The procedure can be completed in less than 15 minutes.

Virginia Tech professor Kevin Pelzer said that he remembers clearly his first euthanasia case: a 35-pound gray poodle with tartar-crusted teeth and waxy ears.

“I can still smell its breath” he said. “Feeling that dog just relax in my arms. It’s just like yesterday.”

It was 1974.

Kevin Pelzer said that on his worst day he had to euthanize a flock of 60 sheep that had been infected by a parasite. The farm owner used a backhoe to bury the bodies.

“It looked like a mass grave,” he said.

Trent Davis, a counselor who serves the vet school, said that euthanasia can be especially taxing for veterinarians who run out of options to heal a patient and yet don’t want to accept defeat.

“You may have to euthanize your own failure,” Davis said.

Talking about mental health in class, particularly when the subject is euthanasia, is part of the broader effort at vet schools to help students cope with the strenuous nature of the field. Professors reiterate to students that the best way to face euthanasia is with compassion. Oncology specialist Shawna Klahn said that too often veterinarians compartmentalize their feelings in order to endure what can seem like day-in, day-out death.

“You do question the value of getting involved and of caring, because it hurts,” Klahn said. “It paralyzes you as a doctor. Who does it help if I care? You go through these moments where you get distanced. But you can’t help it. If at some point I don’t care, then I no longer belong in this profession.”

Waltz said that she decided to focus on euthanasia as a veterinarian after her own traumatic experience with Marti Gra during her senior year in college. When she arrived at the clinic that day in 2008, Waltz saw that her 10-year-old dog was in pain.

The veterinarian told Waltz that Marti Gra was suffering from a severe infection, was septic and was experiencing kidney failure. She said that the veterinarian did little to comfort Waltz once she made the decision to put down Marti Gra. Peace came to her, Waltz said, when she walked in to see Marti Gra.

“I came in and she wagged her tail,” Waltz said, brightening at the remembrance. “That’s how I knew it was time. She made me feel like it was okay to say goodbye.”

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Researchers increasingly are using DNA sequencing, which has become far faster and cheaper over time, to identify molecular abnormalities in cancers.


That technology is allowing them to develop drugs they hope will prove more effective in specific sets of patients and to design clinical trials that get the most promising drugs to market more quickly.

“We are truly in a paradigm change,” James H. Doroshow, director of the division of cancer treatment and diagnosis at the NCI, said in announcing the initiative Monday. He called the project “the largest and most rigorous precision oncology trial that’s ever been attempted.”

Traditionally, drug trials have focused on cancers in specific organs, such as the lungs or prostate. But that model is being upended by newer approaches such as basket trials, which group together patients with similar genetic mutations, regardless of the location of their cancers.

Whether these new kinds of trials will prove more beneficial over time remains uncertain, but basket trials already have helped patients such as Bruce Maxwell, a 63-year-old Dublin man diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012.

Maxwell underwent surgery and chemotherapy, but the disease returned. He had few treatment options left when, in early 2014, he flew to New York and enrolled in a basket trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The experimental drug he received had been designed to treat a certain type of breast cancer, but doctors began testing it in patients with other cancers, all of which had a particular genetic mutation.

Nearly 18 months later, Maxwell’s cancer has not advanced.

The NCI project announced Monday comes amid a push by the Obama administration to promote “precision medicine.” Beginning July 1, the institute will begin screening several thousand patients at 2,400 sites around the country, from large academic hospitals to community medical facilities. Those who meet certain criteria will be sorted into nearly two dozen treatment arms of 30 to 35 patients each, based on the genetic mutations of their cancers.

For example, a patient with a kidney tumor might be assigned to a group being treated with a drug traditionally used for a different form of cancer, as long as tests show the drug might work on the tumor’s particular makeup. Each group will receive a different drug provided by pharmaceutical companies that are part of the effort. Drugs may be added to or dropped from the research as the project continues in coming years.

“Certainly, this is where oncology is going,” said Barbara Conley, associate director of the institute’s cancer diagnosis program.

The effort is the latest in a series of trials that federal researchers and others have launched to match the right patients with the right therapies and to streamline regulatory approval. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, for instance, announced this week that it is starting a comparable project that will provide patients with drugs targeted at similar molecular abnormalities and collect the data from oncologists providing their care, to better understand the effectiveness of the treatments.

“The rules of engagement have changed,” said Jose Baselga, physician in chief at Sloan Kettering, which genetically sequences the tumors of every patient and has helped pioneer the use of basket trials.

On a weekday morning, the computer screen in Baselga’s office, high above the East River, offered a glimpse of the changing landscape of cancer trials in the United States. He called up images from one of the numerous basket studies at the hospital. The scans showed historically hard-to-fight tumors in the brain, lungs and other organs melting away in many, though not all, patients with specific genetic mutations. Seldom in the past have cancer drugs yielded such dramatic results.

“That’s the promise of precision medicine,” said Baselga, who worked on one of the first targeted cancer therapies, Herceptin, decades ago. “You (now) have the capability to identify what’s driving the particular tumor and then to devise methodologies that result in a better understanding of the disease and the development of better therapies. That’s where the optimism resides.”

Like Sloan Kettering, some other institutions routinely sequence the tumors of patients, looking for “actionable” mutations that might respond to existing drugs and using the data to create basket trials to test new targeted therapies.

For patients, the evolution means access to experimental drugs that, at least in theory, should prove more effective than previous generations of treatments. In addition, because the trials tend to involve smaller numbers of patients and move rapidly, the most promising drugs could reach the market years earlier than they otherwise might.

This transformation would matter little without the support of the Food and Drug Administration. But the FDA in recent years has embraced an array of novel trial designs and shown a willingness to approve drugs rapidly if they show unmistakable benefits in early trials.

“We’re seeing better drugs, with increased activity of the drug very much from the get-go,” Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Office of Oncology Drug Products, said in an interview. “We have a better understanding of the diseases and also the molecular pathways of these drugs.”

That’s a notable departure from what Pazdur calls the “roulette wheel” model of drug development, in which researchers often try a new drug on various cancers and hope for the best. These days, some targeted drugs are showing response rates of 50 percent or higher in early trials — not nearly as high as researchers would like, but unheard of compared with many drugs in the past.

“You’re homing into a population that is going to have benefits, so the clinical trials are going to be different,” said Pazdur, whose office has sped approval of numerous “breakthrough” therapies in the past several years. “You (often) don’t need huge, randomized trials, because when the effect size is big, you can use a smaller sample size to demonstrate the difference.”

For all the optimism, Pazdur and other experts are wary of hyping the new trials or the novel drugs they are designed to test. Despite their historically high response rates, targeted drugs simply have not worked for many patients or their benefits have been short-lived. In other cases, patients’ tumors don’t contain mutations for which there are treatments.

Oncologist David Hyman has experienced both elation and exasperation while leading one of the current basket trials at Sloan Kettering. “There are failures; not everybody responds,” he said. “Even among patients who respond, the duration of that response is not as long as we would like.”

Still, when a patient does respond, the benefit can be remarkable. Hyman pointed to Maxwell’s case, saying he had “probably a couple months” to live when he started the basket trial in early 2014.

“It has completely arrested his cancer,” Hyman said. “This is a dramatic departure from how he would have done.”

On a recent morning in New York, Maxwell once again had crossed the Atlantic for his latest scan and to pick up another batch of pills for the trial. The images showed that his cancer remained at bay, and he sighed with relief.

Maxwell and his wife began planning a trip to mark their 35th wedding anniversary. He said he looked forward to more time babysitting his granddaughter, who recently turned 1. And he talked about being grateful for good timing, knowing that the trial he’s participating in might not have been possible much before now.

“I’m lucky in the sense I’m living in these times rather than five years ago or even three years ago,” Maxwell said. “I can only be thankful for it. Long may it last.”

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