Later On

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

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

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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

An Impossible Scenario: Scientists Watch as Heat Moves at the Speed of Sound

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Shannon Hall writes in Scientific American:

Ryan Duncan froze. He had just performed a new experiment examining common graphite—the stuff of pencil lead—but the results seemed physically impossible: Heat, which typically disperses slowly, had traveled through the graphite at the speed of sound. That is like placing a pot of water on a hot stove and instead of counting down the long minutes until that water starts to simmer, watching it boil almost instantaneously.

It is no wonder that Duncan, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could not quite believe his eyes. To ensure that he had not made a mistake, he quadruple-checked everything within his set-up, ran the experiment again, and took a mental-health break. “I tried to get some sleep, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to tell if the experiment was successful or not for several more hours, but I was finding it pretty difficult to shut down for the night,” he recalls. When Duncan’s alarm went off the next morning, he ran to his computer (still in his pajamas) and crunched the new measurements only to confront the same result: Heat had still moved impossibly fast.

Duncan and his colleagues published their results last week in the journal Science. The phenomenon, known as “second sound,” has physicists in a state of euphoria—in part because it could pave the way for advanced microelectronics, but mostly because it is so deeply weird.

To understand why, just think about how heat is conducted through the air. It is carried via molecules, which constantly collide with each other and scatter the heat in all directions—forwards, sideways and even backwards. That fundamental inefficiency makes conductive heat relatively sluggish (radiant heat, by comparison, can travel at light speed as infrared radiation). The same sluggishness holds for heat moving through a solid. Here, phonons (packets of acoustic vibrational energy) carry the heat much like molecules in the air, allowing it to scatter in all directions and slowly disperse. “It’s a little bit like, if you take a drop of food coloring and put it into water, it spreads,” says Keith Nelson, Duncan’s advisor at MIT. “It doesn’t just move straight as an arrow away from where you put the drop.” But that is precisely what Duncan’s experiment suggested. In second sound, the backscattering from phonons is heavily suppressed, allowing heat to shoot forward. “That’s the way wavelike motion behaves,” Nelson says. “If you’re in a pool and you launch a water wave, it will leave where you are.… But it’s just not normal for heat to behave that way.”

And for the most part, it does not. Second sound was first detected in liquid helium 75 years ago and later seen within three solids. “All indications early on were that this was something that would really be confined to very few materials and only at very low temperatures,” Nelson says. As such, scientists thought they had hit the end of the road. “It wasn’t super clear what [second sound] could be apart from a scientific statement,” says Nicola Marzari, a materials scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, who was not involved in this study. “So, the entire field went dormant for many years.”

But dramatic improvements in numerical simulations helped to revive the field roughly five years ago—allowing scientists to recognize that the phenomenon might be more widespread. Gang Chen, an engineer at MIT, for example, was able to predict that second sound might be visible within graphite at rather balmy temperatures. That prediction electrified Duncan, who tested it just as soon as he could—eventually putting the rest of his pursuits on the back burner, once the results proved to be so counterintuitive.

First, Duncan deposited heat into the graphite sample using two crossed laser beams to create an interference pattern—alternating bright and dark regions that correspond to crests and troughs in the colliding waves of light. At the outset, the crests heated up the graphite while the troughs remained cool. But once Duncan switched off the lasers, the pattern would begin to slowly diminish as heat flowed from the hot crests to the cool troughs. The experiment would reach its end once the entire sample reached a uniform temperature. Or at least that is what typically happens. But when the lasers stopped shining, the graphite had other plans, continuing to allow the heat to flow until the hot crests became cooler than the troughs. This is rather like a stove top that becomes ice-cold the instant you turn it off rather than gradually cooling to ambient temperature. “That’s weird,” Nelson says. “Heat isn’t supposed to do that!”

And it certainly is not supposed to do that at such high temperatures. Marzari, who predicted the phenomenon at almost the same time as Chen, was therefore fairly confident that it would prove valid. Even so, he was less certain that second sound would be seen at the foreseen high temperatures. “If you had asked me to bet my mortgage on the existence of this effect, I would have said yes,” Marzari says. “But the question is always does it happen at 100 Kelvin, 20 Kelvin or 0.1 Kelvin?” Duncan’s experiment found the effect at 120 Kelvin—more than 10 times higher than previous measurements. “Nobody ever thought that you would actually be able to do this at such high temperatures,” says Venkatesh Narayanamurti, a research professor of technology and public policy at Harvard University who was not involved in the study. “In that sense, it breaks some conventional wisdom.”

It also suggests that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Science

What to Know About Mayor Pete (Buttigieg)

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In The Cut Amanda Arnold has a profile of an interesting Democratic contender:

In the two months since he announced his 2020 presidential campaign with a video that highlights northern Indiana’s majestically flat landscape, Mayor Pete — or Pete Buttigieg, if we’re being formal — has risen to surprising prominence as an extremely Midwestern candidate with innumerable surprising qualities. He casually speaks seven languages. While some on Twitter have questioned his reading of Ulysses, the man loves James Joyce. Hell, major news outlets have deemed him a legitimate presidential candidate, and he’s received the necessary number of donations to be at the Democratic National Committee debate in June, and we’ve all still collectively decided to call him Mayor Pete.

But when it comes to the unavoidable important details about him — as in, his political platform — what do we really know? Below, here’s everything to know about Mayor Pete.

He hails from the same state as Mike Pence.

While their politics do not align, Buttigieg, too, is a born-and-raised Hoosier. Since 2012, he has served as mayor of South Bend, during which he has drawn creative businesses to the city, revitalized blighted properties, and prioritized smarter infrastructure. (During his mayoral tenure, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.) Even before he stepped onto the national stage, he caught the attention of some bigger news outlets: The Washington Post named (and negged) him the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of” in 2014.

He ran for Democratic National Committee chair.

People across the country first began trying to learn how to pronounce Buttigieg’s last name in January 2017, when he announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee. During his run, he demanded that Democrats take millenials seriously. And then, when it became clear to him on voting day that he could not pull a win off, he stepped down.

“It looks like I’m not going to be the next chair,” Buttigeig said. “But whoever is, I am urging to do the things that must be done to be open to change, to look beyond Washington, to not treat the presidency like it’s the only office that matters, to pay attention to communities like ours in the heart of our country — not as an exotic species — but as your fellow Americans.”

He would break (at least) two records were he to be elected.

He would not only be the first gay president (who would be wed to the first-ever “first gentleman“), but he would also be the youngest. Buttigieg is a mere 37 years old, which technically makes him a millenial — just on the older side.

His husband’s social media presence is lovely.

Buttigieg first met his now-husband Chasten Glezman — also, talk about two great names — in 2015, when they hit it off over a shared love of Scotch eggs. Per their New York Times wedding announcement, Glezman is a junior-high-school teacher, meaning he spends a lot of time with teens, also meaning he must have a sense of humor. (He does.) . . .

Continue reading. There are terrific photos, a video, tweets, … (Also some criticism of his platform gaps.)

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 3:50 pm

Trump Nominates Famous Idiot Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board

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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

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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

“Jazz on a Summer’s Day” — full documentary

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This is well worth listening to and watching. God, I haven’t heard Bob Brookmeyer in years. That’s him on valve trombone with Jimmy Giuffre at the beginning of the film. It’s a relaxed film, suiting the title.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV, Video

A glimpse of US police culture at work

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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

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