January 25, 2016
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In an op-ed, President Obama said he is adopting recommendations from the Justice Department to reform the federal prison system, including banning solitary confinement for juveniles as a response to low-level infractions.

Other reforms include expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary confinement can spend outside of their cells. "These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems," Obama wrote in The Washington Post. He explained that last summer, he asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice to review the overuse of solitary confinement in the United States, and they found that "the practice should be limited, applied with constraints, and used only as a measure of last resort."

As many as 100,000 people are held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, the president wrote, and research suggests there is a link between being in solitary and "depression, alienation, [and] withdrawal." Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, and some studies show that it can make existing mental illnesses worse and trigger new ones. Obama wrote that his "most important job is to keep Americans safe," and overall crime rates have "decreased by more than 15 percent." However, "how can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn't make us safer. It's an affront to our common humanity."

He also said members of Congress are working together to reform sentencing laws and expand reentry programs, and he hopes they will send him "legislation as soon as possible that makes our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, less expensive, and more effective." Catherine Garcia

12:57 p.m. ET

A major cyberattack brought down numerous major websites Friday, including The New York Times, Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, Comcast, and more. The pages were down for at least two hours Friday morning before being downed again in the afternoon.

How was it possible to take down all those sites at once?

Someone attacked the architecture that held them together — the domain-name system, or DNS, the technical network that redirects users from easy-to-remember addresses like to a company's actual web servers. The assault took the form of a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on one of the major companies that provides other companies access to DNS. A DDoS attack is one in which an attacker floods sites "with so much junk traffic that it can no longer serve legitimate visitors," as the security researcher Brian Krebs put it in a blog post Friday morning. [The Atlantic]

Such attacks are on the rise in the United States; it is not clear who was behind Friday's. "These attacks are significantly larger than the ones [companies are] used to seeing. They last longer. They're more sophisticated. And they look like probing," security technologist Bruce Schneier said. Jeva Lange

12:46 p.m. ET

The father of Captain Humayun Khan, a 27-year-old Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, is the voice of Hillary Clinton's powerful new campaign ad. Donald Trump was widely criticized for attacking the soldier's parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, over the speech they delivered at the Democratic National Convention in July, when they challenged Trump to re-read the American constitution before proposing his infamous Muslim ban — with Khizr even going so far as to offer Trump his pocket-sized version from the convention stage.

In the minute-long spot, Khan's father Khizr recalled the sacrifice his son made in 2004. "He saw a suicide bomber approaching his camp," he said. "My son moved forward to stop the bomber when the bomb exploded. He saved everyone in his unit."

With tears in his eyes, Khizr asked Trump: "Would my son have a place in your America?" Watch it, below. Becca Stanek

12:34 p.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton will meet with Black Lives Matter activists in Cleveland on Friday, including DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett. An aide told The Associated Press that Clinton and the activists will discuss how to "advance equity and opportunity in the African-American community."

Clinton sat with Black Lives Matter protesters around this same time last year for a conversation that Mckesson described as "tough," but "in the end I felt heard." Clinton has been met with suspicion by critics of former President Bill Clinton's 1994 crime bill, which contributed to high incarceration rates of black people for nonviolent crimes. Jeva Lange

12:18 p.m. ET
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David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has earned enough support in the Louisiana Senate race to make it onto the debate stage, The Acadiana Advocate reports. The debate is to be held at Dillard University, a historically black university, on Nov. 2.

When Duke, 66, learned he would be invited to participate, he said it was "amazing" but that he is concerned about his safety: "Dillard is pretty supportive of Black Lives Matter, and I've been pretty critical of them," Duke said.

The debate cutoff was 5 percent in the polls; Duke eked in with 5.1 percent. Leading the race are Republican state treasurer John Kennedy with 24.2 percent and Democrat Foster Campbell, with 18.9 percent. In Louisiana, the top two candidates in the Nov. 8 primary will advance to a Dec. 10 runoff, regardless of their party affiliation.

Duke identifies as a Republican, and has endorsed Donald Trump — who has repeatedly disavowed him. Jeva Lange

12:17 p.m. ET

Powerful men are still not sold on the whole "workplace diversity" thing, apparently. Despite data showing that companies with a high percentage of female board directors routinely outperform male-dominated boards, a recent PwC survey found that just 24 percent of male directors believe board diversity improves a company's performance, compared to 89 percent of female directors. Similarly, only 38 percent of men think diversity improves board effectiveness, compared to 92 percent of women, the Washington Post reports.

Female directors currently hold just 20 percent of all board positions at S&P 500 companies. Kelly Gonsalves

12:01 p.m. ET

Young people apparently think cursing at work is effing cool. About two-thirds of millennial employees swear at work, according to a new survey of 1,500 American workers, and more than 40 percent said they prefer working in an environment where colleagues swear. About a third of millennials said cursing can even help strengthen a team, Bloomberg reports. To be fair, 58 percent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also admitted to dropping the occasional F-bomb while on the clock, but they were much more likely to report feeling guilty about "the taboo against bad language."

Another noteworthy finding from the study: Millennial women were the most likely demographic to let bad words slip (75 percent admitted to swearing in the workplace), and they were less bothered by foul mouths in the office than millennial men were. The Week Staff

11:44 a.m. ET
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A secret Nazi military base abandoned more than 70 years ago was recently rediscovered by Russian scientists, The Independent reported. The base, located in the Arctic island of Alexandra Land, served as a "tactical weather station" for the Nazis during World War II, when knowledge of the weather was vital to determining when to move troops, equipment, and ships. Because of the base's name — "Schatzgraber" or "Treasure Hunter" — some also think it was used for "the pursuit of ancient relics," The Independent reported.

The base is believed to have been built in 1942, the year after Adolf Hitler invaded Russia. However, the Nazis stationed there were forced to abandon the post in 1944 after they were poisoned by eating contaminated polar bear meat.

A German U-boat rescued the base's ill inhabitants, but left many supplies behind. Scientists have discovered bullets, shells, gas cans, and documents, all of which have been preserved well by the Arctic's frigid temperatures. Becca Stanek

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