Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Gary Kasparov has a nice article on chess and the new 8-year-old US champion—an immigrant who lives in a homeless shelter

leave a comment »

Gary Kasparov writes in the Washington Post:

Garry Kasparov is the chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative and author of “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins.
The victory of 8-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi in the New York State K-3 championship this month has received more attention than any chess story in a long time. His circumstances, a Nigerian refugee living in a family shelter, were the key ingredient, even more than his dazzling smile next to a trophy taller than he is.
According to reports, “Tani” had learned to play only a year earlier, while most of his rivals had been playing in tournaments for several years. It’s an irresistible underdog story, well-deserving of going viral and generating an outpouring of donations to aid him and his family.
This heart-warming tale is also a quintessentially American one. Despite his family’s conditions, Tani learned to play at a good chess program in an excellent Manhattan public school. His mother took the initiative of getting him into the school chess club, reminding any true chess fan of a similar letter written by the mother of future U.S. world champion Bobby Fischer. (All praise to assertive chess mothers like my own!)
The United States is where the world’s talent comes to flourish. Since its inception, one of America’s greatest strengths has been its ability to attract and channel the energy of wave after wave of striving immigrants. It’s a machine that turns that vigor and diversity into economic growth. It may mean opening a dry-cleaners or a start-up that becomes Google. It could mean studying medicine, law or physics, or — as Tani says he would like to do — becoming the world’s youngest chess champion.
Many of the questions I received as world champion centered on why the Soviet Union produced so many great chess players. After the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., these questions were asked again along new national borders. Why did Russia, or Armenia, or my native Azerbaijan have so many grandmasters? Was there something in the water, the genes or the schools? And why weren’t there more chess prodigies from the United States (or wherever the questioner was from)?
My answer was always the same: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not, and talent cannot thrive in a vacuum. Finding talent is a numbers game — the more players there are, the more excellent ones will be found. (This same math applies to the gender disparity in chess. There are so few elite female players because there are still far fewer girls in a traditionally male pastime. Addressing that imbalance is why my foundation sponsors the All-Girls Scholastic Championship.)
The Soviet leadership always looked at chess as an opportunity to tout the superiority of the communist system. The leadership invested heavily in the game and promoted it at every level, for kids and professionals. I benefited directly from this aggressive farm system, receiving good coaching at a very young age in Baku and quickly being placed into a special chess school under the direction of former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik.
I was lucky to find chess, which was like a native language to me, but it wasn’t luck that chess found me. With that in mind, I have worked since 2002 to bring chess into education systems around the world. Chess is excellent for boosting children’s cognitive development and academic skills, but growing the base also means finding more top-level talent.
America’s recognition of chess’s benefits may help explain a development that merits wider recognition: This is a golden age for chess in the United States. The . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2019 at 4:33 pm

Americans, pessimistic about what life will be like in 2050, fear these things most

leave a comment »

This is a grim column by James Hohmann in the Washington Post, and it puts into words (and illustrates with data) a growing feeling I have that the US will not recover: the decline is now leading into the fall because the US can no longer get the job done. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic—I certainly hope so—but read the column and see whether it matches your own thoughts and feelings:

THE BIG IDEA: Americans, collectively, appear to be in a deeper funk about the future than Beto O’Rourke was after he lost his Senate race.

When adults are asked to think about what the United States will be like in 2050, they see the country declining in stature on the world stage, a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and growing political polarization. They think health care will be less affordable, public education will be lower quality and retiring will be harder.

They fear the growing national debt, the likelihood of an attack that’s as bad or worse than 9/11 and another 1970s-style energy crisis. Many people also think robots will take their jobs.

Few folks in either party believe the political class is up to the task of addressing the most pressing challenges. Part of the problem is that there is less agreement about what the biggest problems even are than there once was, let alone the best ways to tackle them.

A Pew Research Center study published Thursday is full of sobering data points that underscore the level of unease in the body politic and help explain why every two years brings another change election. The comprehensive poll, released with a 58-page report, paints a grim portrait of Americans who feel trepidation about the day-to-day lives that they and their children will be forced to live in 30 years. The numbers bear out what I’ve heard for years now from voters across the country and across the ideological spectrum.

Seven in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country right now, higher than at any time in the past year, but there is a more atmospheric crisis of confidence that transcends the daily news cycle or even the Trump presidency. Overall, 56 percent of people say they are somewhat or even “very” optimistic about the future while 44 percent say they are pessimistic. But asking specific questions reveals a deeper, more systemic anxiety.

— The economy: We’re a decade removed from the Great Recession, yet 62 percent of Americans expect the lower class will increase as a relative share of the U.S. population by 2050. Only 20 percent expect that average families will fare better financially in the future than they do today. Another 44 percent predict that their standard of living to be worse three decades from now.

The poll shows that 73 percent expect the gap between the rich and the poor to grow, including majorities across demographic and political groups. Overall, 54 percent predict that the U.S. economy as a whole will be weaker in 2050 than it is today. And 63 percent worry the national debt will be larger in 2050 than it is now.

These numbers are startling considering the relative strength of the economy. If people are this pessimistic when times are pretty good, what’s going to happen as this economy continues to slow and inevitably dips into a recession?

— People fear the future of work: 37 percent of all currently employed Americans see automation as a direct threat to their current occupation. Exactly half of workers with no more than a high school diploma think robots and computers will take over the work that they currently do. While many of the highly educated and affluent think artificial intelligence and automation are great, a majority of Americans believe that it will worsen inequality. They don’t see the advantages.

— There’s growing anxiety about retirement security: Among those who are currently in the workforce, 42 percent expect to receive no Social Security benefits when they eventually retire. Another 42 percent anticipate that benefits will be reduced from what they are today.

Overall, 3 in 4 Americans expect older adults will be less prepared financially for retirement in 2050 than they are today; 83 percent predict that most people will have to work into their 70s to be able to afford to stop working; and 57 percent think people over 65 will have a worse standard of living in 2050 than they do today.

— More expect the quality of public schools to get worse than better by 2050, and 77 percent of Americans worry about their ability to provide a quality education for the students of tomorrow. This concern is shared across party lines.

— Six in 10 Americans predict that health care will be less affordable in 2050 than it is today.

— The same share of people thinks the condition of the planet will be worse in 2050. Only 16 percent think the environment will be better. Meanwhile, 2 in 3 Americans predict a major worldwide energy crisis that will hamper our economy sometime in the next 30 years.

— About half of Americans believe that a majority nonwhite population will lead to more racial and ethnic conflicts. Many white people especially fear demographic change. By 2050, the Census Bureau predicts the United States will be a majority-minority country. The Pew poll shows that 35 percent believe that’s good, 23 percent say it will be bad and the rest don’t think it’s good or bad. Overall, 40 percent believe race relations will be worse in 2050 than they are now.

— Six in 10 Americans believe that the United States will be less important in the world in 2050 than it is now.And 53 percent expect that China definitely or probably will overtake us as the world’s main superpower within the next three decades.

— There are also deep worries about the future of faith, marriage and family: Overall, 43 percent say they are “very” worried about the nation’s moral values while another 34 percent are “fairly” worried. Half the country sees religion being less important to American life in 2050. A 46 percent plurality expects that fewer people will have children. And a 53 percent majority thinks people in 2050 will be less likely to get married than they are today. Only 7 percent predict that people will be more likely to marry in the future.

— That finding comes amid fresh evidence that America is suffering epidemic levels of aloneness. Another major poll published this week, the General Social Survey, shows that just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 do not have a steady romantic partner. That’s up dramatically from 33 percent in 2004, which was the lowest figure since the question was first posed in 1986, and it’s up from 45 percent in 2016.

“The shift has helped drive singledom to a record high among the overall public, among whom 35 percent say they have no steady partner,” Lisa Bonos and Emily Guskin report. “There are several other trends that go along with the increase in young single Americans. Women are having fewer children, and they’re having them later in life. The median age of first marriage is increasing. … According to the General Social Survey data, 41 percent of Democrats are without a steady partner, compared with only 29 percent of Republicans.”

— Tribalism alert: Back to the Pew poll, 2 in 3 Americans predict that the country will be more politically divided in 2050 than it is now, including 68 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats.Only 26 percent of adults think we will be less polarized in 30 years than we are now.

Other surveys have shown similar levels of pessimism about polarization. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in 2017 found that 36 percent of Americans were “not proud” of U.S. democracy, for example, at least twice as many as said this in both 2014 and 1996. That survey also found 71 percent saying they think partisan disagreements have reached a dangerous new normal. Most of this group (39 percent) thought this was the new normal, rather than temporary. Seven in 10 respondents thought divisions in this era are at least as big as during the Vietnam War, including 77 percent of people who were adults in the 1970s.

— Finally, most Americans don’t think solutions to our problems will come from Washington. In fact, 55 percent in the Pew poll said Washington will have a more negative impact than a positive one. The country continues to be divided over the role of government: Six in 10 fear the government will do too little to solve problems, while 39 percent worry that the feds will be too involved in issues that are better left to businesses and individuals. These people are counting on scientists, entrepreneurs and educators to get us out of the malaise. . .

Continue reading. And do read the entire column: there’s a lot more and it’s overwhelming.

In this connection, Andrew Sullivan’s column “Trump Is a Massive Failure — and Getting Exactly What He Wants,” in New York is sobering:

Every day, the evidence piles up that Trump’s presidency is a failure on its own terms, let alone anyone else’s. And every day, it becomes clearer that this really doesn’t matter at all.

A politically successful policy catastrophe? That’s one way of putting it. Let us count the ways. On trade, we have a record deficit in goods — precisely the opposite of what Trump promised. On immigration, we are facing the biggest crisis since the Bush years — a huge jump in migrants from Central America that is now overwhelming the system. Trump, for his part, is now enabling what he calls “catch and release” on a massive scale. On economic growth, the huge tax cut for the rich has failed. It will not boost growth to levels of 4 or 5 percent — even the president’s own advisers think it’s likely to be a shade less than 3 percent this year and will decline thereafter. The Fed thinks we’ll be lucky to get a little more than 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the budget deficit now looks likely to be more than a trillion dollars annually for the indefinite future, and public debt is hitting new, stratospheric levels. Trump pledged he’d balance the budget. On entitlements, Trump is beginning to backtrack on his promises to protect the safety net. On climate, the denial of reality is exposed almost daily. In just the last week, we’ve seen catastrophic flooding in the Midwest and what could become the Southern Hemisphere’s deadliest cyclone on record.

And what consequences do we see for these massive failures? Staggeringly stable polling numbers. A year ago, Trump’s approval-to-disapproval rateswere 40.6 to 53.4; today they’re 41.6 to 53.1 percent. Nothing seems to move them. A new survey of Fox News viewers shows that 78 percent of them think that Trump has accomplished more than any other president in history. More than Lincoln, FDR, or Washington, for Pete’s sake. And the enthusiasm of Trump’s base now exceeds that of the Democrats. The usual reassurance — that he’s still underwater, widely unpopular, and easy to defeat next year — is getting less reassuring. When you actually break out the head-to-head polls, you find Trump remains highly competitive. Bernie bests him by just two points right now — and that’s before the GOP attack machine has even gotten started. Everyone else is also neck and neck, although a new poll shows Biden with a ten-point lead. Maybe Biden will save us. I think he would have in 2016. But he failed at both his previous presidential runs, has a huge message-discipline problem, will have a hard time inspiring the grassroots, and looks to be a little too handsy with women for comfort. I’m not saying he cannot win. I’m just saying it’s obviously going to be tough.

And the cult is deepening. For me, the grimmest reality is Congress’s likely inability to override Trump’s veto on wall spending. Here you have a bedrock principle of constitutional conservatism — separation of powers, Congress’s sole power of the purse — and it has been tossed out the window. This is not some minor development. Handing the president the ability to make up national emergencies in order to appropriate funds for purposes Congress has explicitly ruled out — well, it’s textbook authoritarianism. It makes Obama’s attempt to juggle priorities in who gets deported look positively meek.

There is also a collapse in a functioning, accountable government outside the small royal court that has effectively replaced the cabinet. Foreign policy has become a matter of authoritarian whim, or family connection. Yesterday, Trump tweeted — yes, tweeted — an attack on the basis of international law: He recognized Israel’s seizure of the Golan Heights as legitimate and permanent. That piece of land is now, for the U.S., part of “Israel’s Sovereignty.” Reversing decades of policy only took a few seconds.

Trump’s rationale is the idea that the Heights are of “critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” So if a state decides to annex the territory of a neighboring state, because such an occupation helps the strategy and security of the aggressor nation, the U.S. has no problem with that. What principle is left to oppose Putin’s annexation of Crimea? Why did Trump do this? No one really knows, as is usually the case with monarchs of old. Probably he was trying to please evangelicals, support Bibi’s reelection, and nudge along the son-in-law’s harebrained Mideast scheme. (Yes, the mute dauphin who uses his WhatsApp for official business, and hangs out with the Saudi torturer, MBS.)

Trump’s dominance routine has also become more effective the longer it has gone on. Look at the miserable examples of Lindsey Graham or Ben Sasse, eunuchs at the Royal Court. Or think of Trump’s Twitter assaults on George Conway, a man pointing out the bleeding obvious — that Trump is so mentally and psychologically sick that he is unfit to run a lemonade stand. And, for her part, Conway defends Trump rather than her husband! This is Stalinesque. Or think of the insane indecency of Trump’s continued flaying of the ghost of John McCain. Yes, some Republicans have demurred. But primarily those whose own careers are over, time-limited, or beyond accountability because their seats are so safe. Mitt Romney is reduced to saying he cannot “understand” why Trump would do this. Again: the former nominee, safe Senate seat, Mormon rectitude, long Republican loyalist. And he pretends merely to be baffled?

Talk about “ripe for tyranny”! And that, it seems to me, is the real salience of the tweets. Trump is showing his foes and friends that he can say anything, abuse anyone, lie about anything, break every norm of decency, propriety and prudence — and suffer no consequences at all. It’s all a dominance ritual. And just think about what he has actually claimed: that the heads of the FBI and DOJ engaged in treasonous and illegal activity; that Russia, despite the unanimous judgment of U.S. and Western intelligence, did not attempt to intervene in the 2016 election; and that the opposition party cannot “legitimately” win an election. The latter — repeated over the years — is a direct assault on liberal democracy, and on the integrity and legitimacy of the entire system. It opens up the very real possibility that Trump will not concede an election he loses. In any functioning democracy, such statements would end any politician’s career. They merely burnish Trump’s hold.

In this post-truth world, where Trump has allied with social media to create an alternate reality, lies work. This week, he approached the press corps simply repeating, “No Collusion! No Collusion!” And he will continue to say this regardless of what the Mueller report may reveal, because it doesn’t matter what actually happened. Whatever Trump says will become the truth for 40 percent of the country, while the expectations of the opposition, troubled by pesky empiricism, may well be deflated. Fox, a de facto state propaganda channel, will do the rest.

This remains a surreal state of affairs, does it not? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 4:28 pm

Trump Nominates Famous Idiot Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board

leave a comment »

Jonathan Chait writes in New York:

Stephen Moore’s career as an economic analyst has been a decades-long continuous procession of error and hackery. It is not despite but precisely because of these errors that Moore now finds himself in the astonishing position of having been offered a position on the Federal Reserve board by President Trump.

Moore’s primary area of pseudo-expertise — he is not an economist — is fiscal policy. He is a dedicated advocate of supply-side economics, relentlessly promoting his fanatical hatred of redistribution and belief that lower taxes for the rich can and will unleash wondrous prosperity. Like nearly all supply-siders, he has clung to this dogma in the face of repeated, spectacular failures.

I first started writing about Moore in 1997. Four years before, President Clinton had raised the top tax rate to 39.6 percent, and supply-siders had insisted this would without question cause tax revenues to drop. This prediction was a necessary corollary of supply-side economic theory, which holds that tax revenue moves in the opposite direction of the top tax rate. The prediction was spectacularly wrong — revenue not only rose, it rose much, much faster than even the most optimistic advocates of Clinton’s plan had predicted.

Most supply-siders simply ignored this fact altogether. Moore, somewhat unusually, attempted to defend the original failed prognostication. His effort was hilariously buffoonish, using a series of errors that would embarrass a high-school economics student, such as failing to correct for inflation, and combining payroll tax data with income tax data.

In the years since, I have continued following his career, and he has shown no intellectual growth at all. He is capable of writing entire columns that contain no true facts at all. He made so many factual errors he achieved the rare feat of being banned from the pages of a Midwestern newspaper. He has sold his policy elixir to state governments which have promptly experienced massive fiscal crises as a direct result of listening to him. He believes what he calls “the heroes of the economy: the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the one who innovates and creates the things we want to buy” should be lionized, and that the idea that a recession might be caused by anything other than excessively high rates on these heroes defies “common sense.” He was pulled into Trump’s orbit during the 2016 campaign and co-wrote a ludicrous hagiography of Trump and his agenda. By all appearances, Moore opposes mainstream fiscal theories because he simply doesn’t understand them.

And yet, for all their extravagant ignorance, Moore’s beliefs on fiscal policy are actually more sophisticated and well-developed than his views on monetary policy. It is the latter that he would be in a position to influence as a Federal Reserve governor.

Moore’s beliefs on monetary policy — it might be more accurate to describe them as “impulses” — tend to default to partisanship. During the Obama presidency, he warned that runaway government spending would produce hyperinflation. In 2009, he appeared on Glenn Beck’s program to wax hysteric. “We’ve seen this happened to Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Russia, all consumed by government, all do-gooders — some of that led to the decline of their civilizations,” he said, describing the scenario in lurid detail:

BECK: So, do we have hyperinflation with this scenario?

MOORE: Could be. I mean, that’s happened — in some countries, hyperinflation gets so bad, Glenn, that people have to go to the shopping stores literally with wheelbarrows full of their currency. In some countries, that people don’t even use the currency. In other countries, they print the currency but they don’t put the denomination on it because they write it down on the piece of paper.

BECK: Okay.

MOORE: And the currency becomes as valueless as the paper that it is printed on.

MOORE: And why do people buy gold?

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Because they don’t think money is worth anything anymore.

GERALD CELENTE: Not worth the paper it’s printed.

MOORE: Right. They don’t think it’s worth anything.

In 2010, Moore was still predicting hyperinflation and urging his audience to buy gold. Even by 2015, Moore was still urging the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. “We’ve had seven years of zero interest rates and the lousiest recovery in 75 years,” he said, “So that’s one reason a lot of us feel like it’s time to get off the zero interest rate policy.”

There was no evidence for this position at all. Had Moore’s advice been followed, it would have led to a quick end to the recovery and a deep recession. It did, however, dovetail with the Republican Party’s political imperative of encouraging contractionary fiscal and monetary policy, in order to slow down or strangle the recovery.

Since Donald Trump moved into the White House, the Republican Party has reversed its views on both fiscal and monetary policy. Whereas it had previously deemed deficits and inflation a mortal threat, and called stimulus and lower interest rates counterproductive, the party line now demands both.

Moore has naturally ridden along with this reversal, but what has set him apart is the fervency with which he has embraced the volte-face. He has insisted on television that the economy is experiencing deflation, and when corrected by panelist Catherine Rampell on this unambiguous error of fact, refused to give ground. He has called for firing the Federal Reserve chairman as well as firing the entire Federal Reserve board.

Mooore’s current ultra-dovish stance is hardly anywhere near as ridiculous as his previous ultra-hawkish stance. The problem is that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 3:40 pm

This seems insane to me: Indiana Teachers Say They Were Mock Executed With a Pellet Gun During a School-Shooter Drill

leave a comment »

Sarah Jones writes in New York:

For educators, school-shooter drills have become a grim ritual. But teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, say one recent drill went much too far. As reported by the Indianapolis Star, law-enforcement officers lined teachers up and then shot them execution-style with an airsoft rifle. Pellets left bloody welts and caused panic; teachers had not been warned that officers would use a training weapon during the drill. “They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” one anonymous teacher told the Star. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times. It hurt so bad.”

White County Sheriff Bill Brooks, whose department conducted the training, says that his officers stopped using the rifle after they were “made aware that one teacher was upset.” But multiple teachers complained to the Star, and the state’s largest teachers union, the Indiana State Teachers Association, has asked legislators to amend a pending school-safety bill so that it would prohibit safety-drill instructors from launching projectiles at teachers. During a Wednesday hearing, ISTA members vividly described hearing screams from shot teachers:

Brooks opposes the amendment. “We don’t need legislation in White County,” he told the Star. “We’re just not going to do it.” But Keith Gambill, the vice-president of ISTA and a music teacher based in Evansville, Indiana, told New York on Thursday that the union remains committed to legislative change anyway. “We want employees and students to be in a safe environment even if there has to be a training,” he said. “But the training should not involve shooting a projectile.” Gambill said the union had not received reports of similar incidents at other schools.

But while the Meadowlawn case is unusual, it has a legible genealogy. The sheriff’s intransigence, the drill’s traumatic conclusion, even the simple existence of the drill, all stem from the same basic reality — America refuses to pass any meaningful gun-control legislation. There’s no point, legislators say. Mass shooters are evil, and no law can strip evil from the hearts of men. And so mass shootings become symptoms of something other than legislative malpractice. They become sins, or “a random force of nature,” as the writer Patrick Blanchfield once put it. We can’t prevent mass shootings, this logic insists, so we can only prepare for them. As Blanchfield noted, the proliferation of gun violence has spawned a lucrative cottage industry — bulletproof whiteboards and bulletproof backpacks and training programs that script extreme school-shooting drills.

There are multiple reasons for this state of affairs. Liberals look at New Zealand, which banned military-grade guns within ten days of the Christchurch shootings, and draw up a short list of reasons to explain why they acted, and we do not: American gun culture, the particularities of our legislative system. But our intransigence is not just about our political system or some buried nostalgia for a mythical cowboy past: it is also about money. Guns make certain people very rich — people like gun manufacturers and gun lobbyists, though they aren’t the only beneficiaries of America’s reluctance to restrict its firearms.

The White County Sheriff’s Department shot teachers during an exercise designed by the for-profit ALICE Training Institute. The Ohio-based, for-profit organization did not return emailed requests for comment before press time, but its website is instructive. Though there’s no evidence that it has encouraged law-enforcement officials to assault teachers with pellet guns during trainings, it does promote a proactive response to active shooters. Each letter in its name corresponds to a different step in its safety protocol. “ALERT is when . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 3:35 pm

A glimpse of US police culture at work

leave a comment »

Christian Sheckler of the South Bend IN Tribune reports in ProPublica:

A federal grand jury has indicted two Elkhart, Indiana, police officers on civil rights charges for repeatedly punching a handcuffed man last year, U.S. prosecutors announced Friday.

Elkhart County prosecutors had originally charged the two officers, Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, with misdemeanor battery in November, after the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica learned of the incident and requested video.

The video showed Mario Guerrero Ledesma, seated and wearing handcuffs, in a detention area at the city police station in January 2018, while Newland, Titus and other officers stood nearby. At one point, Guerrero Ledesma spat toward Newland. Titus and Newland immediately punched Guerrero Ledesma in the face, causing him to fall backward onto the floor, then jumped on top of him and punched him repeatedly. Guerrero Ledesma had initially been arrested on suspicion of domestic battery.

“Today’s indictments send a clear message that the FBI won’t tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” Grant Mendenhall, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis division, said in a statement. “The alleged actions by these individuals went against everything in the oath they took to serve and protect.”

The federal indictment accuses Newland and Titus of depriving Guerrero Ledesma of his rights by using excessive force, and it alleges he was injured in the beating.

Beyond the federal indictment, the battery charges against Newland and Titus in Elkhart County also are still pending. Both officers have pleaded not guilty. Titus is scheduled for a May trial in Elkhart Superior Court. Newland is set for a round of negotiations with prosecutors in April about a possible plea agreement, according to the docket for his case in Elkhart City Court. . .

Continue reading.

One interesting note later in the article:

The Tribune and ProPublica first requested video of the beating as part of an investigation into disciplinary matters in the Elkhart Police Department. The news organizations also revealed 28 of the department’s 34 highest-ranking officers had disciplinary records, 15 had been suspended and seven had opened fire in at least one fatal shooting.

Later, the Tribune and ProPublica reported on another disciplinary case in which Windbigler, the chief at the time, had provided inaccurate or incomplete information to the civilian oversight commission.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 2:41 pm

Progress on healthcare, but still about 32.7 million to go

leave a comment »

That’s from this post by Kevin Drum, who in turn got it from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. It’s good progress, but as Drum notes “Conservatives were dead set against Medicare and Medicaid in the 60s, and they’re dead set against Obamacare today. They just hate the idea of poor people getting medical coverage. I wonder why that bothers them so much?”

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 2:29 pm

Capt. Sullenberger on the FAA and Boeing: ‘Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged’

leave a comment »

Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger writes at MarketWatch.com:

For most of the history of powered flight, the United States has been a world leader in aviation.

This nation’s aviation regulatory body, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has long been the gold standard of safety regulation in global aviation, often a template for other nations to follow in technical and safety matters.

Boeing BA, -1.75% has long been the world’s preeminent airplane maker.

But now, our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged. Boeing and the FAA have been found wanting in this ugly saga that began years ago but has come home to roost with two terrible fatal crashes, with no survivors, in less than five months, on a new airplane type, the Boeing 737 Max 8, something that is unprecedented in modern aviation history.

For too many years, the FAA has not been provided budgets sufficient to ensure appropriate oversight of a rapidly growing global aviation industry. Staffing has not been adequate for FAA employees to oversee much of the critically important work of validating and approving aircraft certification. Instead, much of the work has been outsourced by designating aircraft manufacturer employees to do the work on behalf of the FAA. This, of course, has created inherent conflicts of interest, when employees working for the company whose products must be certified to meet safety standards are the ones doing much of the work of certifying them. There simply are not nearly enough FAA employees to do this important work in-house.

To make matters worse, there is too cozy a relationship between the industry and the regulators. And in too many cases, FAA employees who rightly called for stricter compliance with safety standards and more rigorous design choices have been overruled by FAA management, often under corporate or political pressure.Let me be clear, without effective leadership and support from political leaders in the administration, the FAA does not have sufficient independence to be able to do its job, which is to keep air travelers and crews safe. Oversight must mean accountability, or it means nothing.

Boeing, in developing the 737 Max 8, obviously felt intense competitive pressure to get the new aircraft to market as quickly as possible. When flight testing revealed an issue with meeting the certification standards, they developed a fix, Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), but did not tell airline pilots about it. In mitigating one risk, they seem to have created another, greater risk.

After the crash of Lion Air 610 last October, it was apparent that this new risk needed to be effectively addressed. It has been reported that Boeing pushed back in discussions with the FAA about the extent of changes that would be required, and after the second crash, of Ethiopian 302, the Boeing CEO reached out to the U.S. President to try to keep the 737 Max 8 from being grounded in the U.S. The new fix still has not been fielded, nearly five months after Lion Air. It almost certainly could have been done sooner, and should have been.

Boeing  has focused on trying to protect its product and defend its stance, but the best way, indeed the only way, to really protect one’s brand or product is to protect the people who use it. We must not forget that the basis of business, what makes business possible, is trust.

Estimates are that Boeing likely will face additional costs of several billion dollars because of these recent crashes and the decisions made several years ago that led up to them. This case is a validation of something that I have long understood, that there is a strong business case for quality and safety, that it is always better and cheaper to do it right instead of doing it wrong and trying to repair the damage after the fact, and when lives are lost, there is no way to repair the damage. . .

Continue reading.

The credits note:

Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger is a safety expert, author and speaker on leadership and culture. He is also a retired airline pilot who, on Jan. 15, 2009, safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in New York when both engines lost power after they were struck by a flock of birds. All 155 people on board survived.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 10:09 am

%d bloggers like this: