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Soft Power

A new National Defense Strategy approved by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates shifts the focus of the American military away from conventional warfare. Gates also spells out the view that future U.S leaders should harness military assets and "soft power" to defeat a complex, transnational foe. Josh White covers the military for the Washington Post and joins us to discuss the new National Defense Strategy.

Wildfires

Drought, rising temperatures and runaway development are making western wildfires worse. And they're more costly to fight, because states are increasingly turning to private contractors, who bring in expensive equipment such as helicopters that cost $6370 per hour of flying time. We speak with Los Angeles Times reporters Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart, who spent a year researching a 5-part series that's been running this week.

Vice Presidents

Both Obama and McCain are working down to a short list of possible VPs, and the names reveal what each campaign thinks its weaknesses and strengths are. We'll speak with Ken Walsh, Chief White House Correspondent for U.S. News and World Report.

Looking for a Few Good Men

The Catholic Church is looking to the ranks of the active military to recruit priests after seeing the number of its priests in the U.S. drop 30 percent over the past three decades. We talk with Father John McLaughlin, the newly appointed National Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of the Military who is leading the recruitment effort.

A Ludacris Situation

Rapper Ludacris is out with a new video, "Politics as Usual". In it, he proclaims allegiance to Obama while taking issue with the opposition. At one point, he refers to President Bush as "mentally handicapped". Could he be hurting, rather than helping, the Obama campaign?

Ann Patchett's Run

We revisit a conversation with Ann Patchett whose book Run came out in paperback this week. The novel tells the story of an Irish Catholic former mayor of Boston and his sons: one biological, and two adopted African-American boys. A car accident brings into focus familial, racial, and class divides.

This program aired on July 31, 2008.

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Robin Young brings more than 25 years of broadcast experience to her role as host of Here & Now.

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