30 April 2015
- Hillary Clinton called for major criminal justice reform in New York yesterday.
Clinton will lay out her vision for criminal justice reform, centering around an "end to the era of mass incarceration," according to an aide who provided a preview of her remarks. Those changes include addressing probation and drug diversion programs, increasing support for mental health and drug treatment and pursuing alternative punishments for low-level offenders.
- Clinton's response to Baltimore reverses Bill Clinton's legacy on crime.
Clinton's position on mass incarceration is at once a stunning condemnation of one of the most clear-cut policy failures of Bill Clinton's presidency, a flashing sign of how that policy failure has fundamentally altered the national political landscape on criminal justice issues, and a relatively pedestrian prescription for a Democrat, given where some Republicans stand on sentencing reform.
- Economic history casts a long shadow over the present.
The first [paper], by Cornelius Christian of Oxford University, looks at the consequences of the lynching of black Americans between 1882 and 1930. Mr Christian found that this history of racial violence still echoes down the decades. He also found that the higher an area’s lynching rate before 1930, the wider the income gap between blacks and whites remained in 2008-12, even when adjusted for factors such as the education and employment levels of a local area. A high rate of lynching widens this gap by as much as 15% in some cases.
- David Letterman is leaving television next month after 33 years.
Q. As your last show approaches, have there been times when you’ve thought: I’m leaving too soon?
A. Yeah, I’m awash in melancholia. Over the weekend, I was talking to my son, and I said, “Harry, we’ve done like over 6,000 shows.” And he said, [high-pitched child’s voice] “That’s creepy.” And I thought, well, in a way, he’s right. It is creepy. Every big change in my life was full of trepidation. When I left Indiana and moved to California. When Regina and I decided to have a baby — enormous anxiety and trepidation. Those are the two biggest things in my life, and they worked out beyond my wildest dreams. I’m pretending the same thing will happen now. I’ll miss it, desperately. One of two things: There will be reasonable, adult acceptance of transition. Or I will turn to a life of crime.
- Was Theodore Dreiser a great American writer who couldn't write?
With its usual impassivity, the Library of America has reissued a strange and awkward book, Theodore Dreiser’s nine-hundred-and-thirty-page realist epic of 1925, “An American Tragedy.” As with all the Library’s volumes, no celebratory essay accompanies the beautifully printed text. The novel’s appearance under these auspices is, of course, an effort to consecrate it as a classic, but the attempt may have come too late. My suspicion is that Dreiser’s books (with the exception of “Sister Carrie”) are now considered too long for high-school students, too earnest for college literature classes, and too odd for many common readers. Dreiser’s reputation has always been vexed, and the long debate over his stature has been accompanied by a secondary debate—a malignant shadow of the first—devoted to the question of whether he could write at all. In a groundbreaking appreciation published in 1916, H. L. Mencken, although he was Dreiser’s friend, nevertheless referred to the “mirthless, sedulous, repellent manner” of the author’s work, and, throughout his reviewing career, Mencken made gleeful lists of Dreiser’s blunders. The year after “Tragedy” came out, Edmund Wilson wrote, “Dreiser commands our respect; but the truth is he writes so badly that it is almost impossible to read him.” F. R. Leavis remarked in passing that Dreiser wrote as if he did not have a native language, and Lionel Trilling, in the influential essay “Reality in America,” saw the critical “indulgence” of Dreiser (there were many champions besides Mencken) as a case of American hostility to intellect itself.
29 April 2015
- In Baltimore, non-violence has become a form of compliance.
Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city's publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city's police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.
- The Baltimore riots have been about more than Freddie Gray.
This hopelessness — expressed by many young protesters in Baltimore — arose from frustration with a system that they believe has consigned them to police brutality, poverty and even poorer prospects. The streets were filled with children Monday, many of them fresh out of school and itching for a fight with police. By 4 p.m., around the time schools let out for the day, people were hustling out of office buildings and stores and restaurants were closing their doors to customers.
- Why Freddie Gray is not like Michael Brown or Eric Garner.
Because Darrien Hunt — who was shot four times in the back — had just turned 22. He was into anime cosplay. His mother’s name is Susan. Rekia Boyd, also 22 when shot in the back of the head by Chicago detective Dante Servin, had eight brothers and seven sisters and was known for being “light-hearted.” Ernest Satterwhite, the 68-year-old great-grandfather shot to death after a slow-speed chase as he parked in his own driveway, was a former mechanic. 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, who battled schizophrenia before dying facedown while an officer’s knee was in her back, graduated from East High School in Cleveland.
- How drunk sports fans contributed to the violence.
On Saturday night, following the violence that broke out near Camden Yards, a photo of me supposedly protecting a woman from violent protesters surfaced on BuzzFeed and then trickled down to the conservative armpit of the internet where it was mischaracterized. In the photo, I look strangely heroic, and the picture was quickly co-opted by those who like to present an all-too-common and easy narrative: white people being terrorized by black people.
- Gray is not the first Baltimorean to emerge from a police van with serious injuries.
Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.
27 April 2015
- What political scientists can't get you to believe.
@jbview most independents are secret partisans. try convincing an 'independent' of that...— Emily M. Farris (@emayfarris) April 10, 2015
- Could the Miami Herald have stopped the Bay of Pigs invasion?
By the end of September, after weeks of reporting and crosschecking, Kraslow had a blockbuster story. “It was about 1,500 words and it said the CIA was secretly recruiting and training Cuban exiles for some sort of major military operation against Castro,” he recalls. “It didn’t say this was a huge, frontal-assault invasion — I don’t think they had even decided that yet.”
- The FBI has been using flawed forensic analysis as evidence for decades.
What went wrong? The Post continues: “Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.” The shameful, horrifying errors were uncovered in a massive, three-year review by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project. Following revelations published in recent years, the two groups are helping the government with the country’s largest ever post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.
Chillingly, as the Post continues, “the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.” Of these defendants, 14 have already been executed or died in prison.
- The NRA doesn't have much of an answer for gun deaths involving children.
Over the past year, new studies and media reports have documented America’s extraordinary number of child-involved shootings. These occur when a child happens upon a gun, or is left alone with one, and ends up shooting themselves or another person. Such disasters result in hundreds of child fatalities and have made American children nine times more likely to die in gun accidents than children anywhere else in the developed world. These deaths pose a massive challenge for the NRA. They demonstrate fairly conclusively that guns cannot be both safe and ubiquitous; the inevitable consequence of widespread gun ownership is a never-ending series of tragedies involving children. But, desperate to insist there’s nothing wrong, the NRA has proved itself totally incapable of responding to the problem.
- Here's what you get when you land on a 404 at Hillary Clinton's campaign site.
21 April 2015
- Why neoconservatism will fail if America uses it to approach Asia.
In short, America enjoys the luxury of an enormous power buffer in the region, and that asymmetry creates the space for mischief-making like that GOP Iran letter. The US can absorb the costs of domestic irresponsibility and constitutional in-fighting, posture belligerently and abjure deals and negotiation, all because the costs are rather low (for the US). Even were the US to bomb Iran, the conflict would be far from US homeland with a minimal (or at least not very visible) impact on most Americans. Indeed, the US managed to fight an entire war in the Middle East that went horribly wrong and alienated much of the planet, yet without seriously jeopardising its regional hegemony. That is astonishing asymmetric power.
None of this applies at all in Asia.
- Hillary Clinton's innovative campaign launch video.
The "presidential campaign trailer" is a relatively recent phenomenon. All you need to do to see this is to look back at Clinton's announcement video from the 2008 campaign, which is shockingly bad. (The camera keeps shifting back and forth, like it's been placed on the base of a rotating fan.)
- The endangered languages of America (and the world).
The Mohawk are one of five hundred and sixty-six tribes recognized by the United States whose presence on the continent predates “contact”—the advent of Europeans. Only about a hundred and seventy indigenous languages are still spoken, the majority by a dwindling number of elders like Marie Wilcox, of the Wukchumni, who is eighty-one, and who spent her youth doing farmwork south of Fresno. About fifteen years ago, she started recording her tribe’s creation myths and compiling a dictionary of its unwritten language. Navajo, which helped to decide the outcome of the Second World War (the Japanese were never able to decrypt messages relayed among native speakers—the celebrated “code talkers”), is an exception. It is used in daily life by two-thirds of the nation’s two hundred and fifty thousand citizens, who refer to it as “Diné bizaad,” “the people’s language.” Fluency, however, is declining. The election of a new tribe president was suspended, in October, by a dispute over the requirement that he or she speak fluent Navajo. A leading candidate, Chris Deschene—a state representative from Arizona and the grandson of a code talker—was disqualified for that reason. “I’m the product of cultural destruction,” he told the Navajo Times, when he was asked why he couldn’t speak Diné. (He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and, after retiring as a major in the Marine Corps, he earned two graduate degrees, in engineering and law.) A new election will take place in April.
- Canada's Supreme Court is doing better on religious freedom than America's.
For those who watched in some dismay last spring when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (along almost perfect religious lines) that city councils may indeed begin their meetings with sectarian prayer, it is quite an astonishing opinion. Canada does not have an Establishment Clause, but it does have a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a Quebec Charter, which provide that the state has a duty to ensure that no particular belief should be favored or hindered. While a good bit of the decision was a very technical analysis of how the case got there, and the legal framework for this week’s decision is not the same as that deployed in last year’s U.S. case Town of Greece v. Galloway, the questions of neutrality, coercion, minority religions, and what it means to promote religion are remarkably similar.
- Virginia is keeping an almost certainly innocent man in prison.
Of all the maddening stories of wrongful convictions, Michael McAlister’s may be one of the worst. For starters, he has been in prison for 29 years for an attempted rape he almost certainly did not commit. For much of that time, the lead prosecutor who secured his conviction, the original lead detective on the case, and more recently, the current Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, Michael Herring, have argued that McAlister is innocent and that someone else—a notorious serial rapist with the same MO as the perpetrator of the crime for which McAlister was convicted—is in fact the real criminal. “I think our justice system is one of the best on the planet,” Herring told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week. “But this case makes me ashamed of it.”
17 April 2015
- America still hasn't gotten over the Civil War, 150 years on.
On this 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox, Americans mark the end of the Civil War. The questions at the heart of the war, though, still occupy the nation, which has never truly gotten over that conflict. The great issues of the war were not resolved on that April morning at Appomattox. In this sense, not only is the Civil War not over; it can still be lost.
- Meet the everyday Americans who made Hillary Clinton's Chipotle lunch.
The young woman who was at the cash register was the only employee on duty at the time who thought she recognized her. She considered asking if anybody had ever told her she “looked like Hillary Clinton.” But she didn’t. It was 1:20 p.m., at the tail end of “peak time,” lunch rush.
- More than 43 per cent of Dems in Congress have endorsed Clinton for president.
One hundred one lawmakers have endorsed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run for president, locking down over 43 percent of all Democrats in Congress, according to a survey by The Hill.
Seventy-three House lawmakers, nearly 40 percent of the 188 Democrats in the chamber, as well as 28 senators, more than 60 percent of the upper chamber’s 46 Democrats, are in the former secretary of State’s camp.
- What worries Democrats about Clinton's campaign.
In Hillary Clinton’s case, though, there’s still a good argument that the Democratic Party could use a contested primary this cycle: not to toughen Clinton’s calluses, but to build some redundancy into the presidential campaign. It may even be the case that some of these Democrats with rattled nerves are less anxious about Clinton’s prowess against Republicans than about the fact that all of the party’s hopes now rest on her shoulders. Her campaign has become a single point of failure for Democratic politics. If she wins in 2016, she won’t ride into office with big congressional supermajorities poised to pass progressive legislation. But if she loses, it will be absolutely devastating for liberalism.
- Why creationists really don't want scientists to find aliens.
Could primordial soup be served ice-cold and made with a liquid other than water? Astrobiologists believe that it’s possible on Titan. Although the temperature on Saturn’s massive moon is a chilly minus 179 degrees Celsius, it has a thick nitrogen atmosphere rich in organic molecules and a surface speckled with methane lakes. These ingredients, according to computer simulations recently conducted at Cornell University, could combine to form cellular membranes, which are crucial for the evolution of complex cells. “Ours is the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it,” said one of the researchers in a news release. Another expressed hope that we might someday send a probe “to float on the seas of this amazing moon.”
But the creationists at the hilariously misnamed Discovery Institute, a prominent advocate for intelligent design theory, had a different spin on the story. It described the Cornell researchers as hucksters who had proved nothing: “Get out your checkbook, U.S Congress. Coming up: a search across the Solar System for stone-cold dead BUBBLES.”
15 April 2015
I'm not as bullish about Hillary Clinton's chances at the White House as Jonathan Chait is (I think my colleague Brendon O'Connor is right to rate her about 55 per cent), but he has a smart point about how difficult it is to make useful predictions on presidential politics based on past trends;
Is it time for a change? The one remaining ground for Republican optimism is the possibility that voters will decide three straight presidential terms for the Democratic Party is too much. Many political scientists (such as Alan Abramowitz) believe this exhaustion factor is real; after a second term, voters grow increasingly restless with the in-party and are more likely to decide it’s time for a change. If this is true, Clinton may face headwinds even in an otherwise favorable landscape.
It may well be true. But there are reasons to doubt it. One reason is that models that detect voter impatience are based on a very small number of data points. Since World War II, there have been eight presidential elections in which the incumbent party has held office for two terms or more. It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from such a limited number of events.
Right! And, so goes the theory — which I essentially subscribe to — that since the incumbent party has won on only two of those occasions (Truman in 1948 and Bush in 1988), it looks like the American electorate does have a kind of eight-year itch.
But although a 25 per cent strike rate is low, Chait is right that the sample size is unreliable. Look at the campaigns in which the incumbent party was beaten to see how much divination and palm-reading is involved in presidential progonostication:
One election in which the incumbent lost decisively: Not easy to see this one going the other way.
- In 1952, Adlai Stevenson was wiped out by Dwight Eisenhower after twenty years of Democratic Party rule.
Three elections that were essentially coin-tosses: These could have gone either way, depending on the caprices of campaign tactics or turnout.
- In 1960, Richard Nixon lost the popular vote to John Kennedy by a tenth of a percentage point. Some Republicans still believe Kennedy only prevailed through voter fraud in Texas and Illinois. (The Republican obsession with voter fraud really is mostly about shoring up their advantage amongst more reliable and privileged voters, but it does have some roots in history.)
- In 1968, Hubert Humphrey lost the popular vote to Richard Nixon by 0.7 per cent of the popular vote and in the Electoral College might have been spoiled by Southerner George Wallace's protest campaign. He was also hampered by the Democrats' connection to the War in Vietnam, the party's chaotic convention that year, and the unpopularity of President Lyndon Johnson — all of which seem better explanations for his loss than the eight years his party had already spent in the White House.
- In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote against George W. Bush, and lost the Electoral College when the Supreme Court halted a recount in Florida and awarded its votes to his opponent.
Two elections that closely followed recessions: Recessions have a more reliable track-record of predicting electoral outcomes.
- In 1992, George H.W. Bush saw his sky-high approval ratings following his victory in the Gulf War plummet when the economy went into recession.
- In 2008, John McCain sought to succeed fellow Republican George W. Bush in the midst of a deep financial crisis and recession. (That Bush had presided over the unpopular war in Iraq didn't help.)
One election that followed the Watergate scandal: A president resigned in the face of certain impeachment and conviction.
- In 1976, Gerald Ford's bid for a Republican third term after Richard Nixon had resigned in disgraced was almost certainly doomed.
Even if voters do tire of incumbent parties, that's not a solid body of evidence in favour of the theory. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle: the longer a party holds the White House, the more likely it is to be struck by recession, corruption, or a badly run campaign. It's good news for the Clinton campaign that the Obama White House has been exceptionally clean in its dealings and has overseen a period of economic growth. But even if it's not quite true that nobody knows anything about presidential politics, the past is complex territory on which to base one's expectations.
9 April 2015
- Should America reserve a holiday to celebrate the Union's Civil War victory?
This week provides an occasion for the U.S. government to get real about history, as April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War. The generous terms of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House foreshadowed a multitude of real and symbolic compromises that the winners of the war would make with secessionists, slavery supporters, and each other to piece the country back together. It’s as appropriate an occasion as the Selma anniversary to reflect on the country’s struggle to improve itself. And to mark the occasion, the federal government should make two modest changes: It should make April 9 a federal holiday; and it should commit to disavowing or renaming monuments to the Confederacy, and its leaders, that receive direct federal support.
- The US nuclear deal with Iran is "astonishingly good."
The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.
- How Democrats went from looking to cut Social Security to trying to expand it.
During a last-minute budget session, the Massachusetts senator [Elizabeth Warren] introduced an amendment to “expand and protect Social Security” by raising taxes to keep the program solvent and increasing benefits to better assist seniors. The resolution failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, but not before Warren won support from all but two of her Democratic colleagues. (The holdouts were Tom Carper of Delaware and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.)
- White American milennials are about as racist as their parents.
When it comes to explicit prejudice against blacks, non-Hispanic white millennials are not much different than whites belonging to Generation X (born 1965–1980) or Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964). White millennials (using a definition of being born after 1980) express the least prejudice on 4 out of 5 measures in the survey, but only by a matter of 1 to 3 percentage points, not a meaningful difference. On work ethic, 31 percent of millennials rate blacks as lazier than whites, compared to 32 percent of Generation X whites and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.
- Why did California charge a black woman with lynching?
Hampton’s arrest — and sensational-sounding charge — made headlines. California’s lynching law was put on the books in 1933, to prevent mobs from forcibly taking people from police custody for vigilante justice.
But the statute has long been used against protesters as well, by police if not prosecutors. In 1999, anti-fur protesters in San Francisco who blocked access to a Neiman Marcus store in Union Square were charged under the lynching law. Prosecutors declined to take the case to court.
8 April 2015
- The filibuster is doomed.
Even worse for the filibuster, both sides are completely convinced that if they don't eliminate the filibuster, the other party will do so as soon as it's convenient. "There is every reason to expect that similar political expediency will lead to future limitations on the filibuster when there is again a Democratic Senate majority — which should give comfort to any Republicans who continue to support the filibuster out of respect for Senate tradition," write Rivkin and Casey.
- The roots of the current turmoil in Yemen.
After Hussein’s death in 2004, Yemen’s US-backed president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, continued waging intermittent wars on the Houthis—now led by his brother, Abdulmalik. These were carried out with such brutality and incompetence that the Houthi movement grew in size and fighting ability, gaining sympathy from northern tribes who suffered in the wars. After the uprising in 2011 that ultimately forced Saleh to step aside, Yemen was theoretically governed by Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the new president named in a transitional process underwritten by the Gulf states and the US. In reality, the government was losing control of the country, with al-Qaeda bombers and kidnappers running rampant. The Houthis were the only group with the cohesion and discipline to hold terrain. They grew even stronger after forming a tactical alliance with their former enemy, ex-president Saleh, who still controlled much of the military. And the Iranians gave them the money they needed for the final push to Sanaa, the capital, last fall.
- Why American Jews stick by the Democrats, despite predictions otherwise.
As has been the case almost every four years since the early 1970s, and much like Charlie Brown to Lucy’s football, the political media is waiting expectantly for an electoral swing. “Cracks Appear in Democratic-Jewish Alliance Over Iran Deal, Netanyahu,” the Wall Street Journal announced over the weekend. “G.O.P.’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift,” the New York Times added.
- Why etiquette has always been important to discrimination.
That’s a counter-intuitive definition. Discrimination, especially the pervasive discrimination of the Jim Crow era, tends to be remembered as a matter of violence, not as a matter of manners. Jim Crow involved lynchings, beatings, and the KKK—politeness and etiquette seems like secondary matters at best. And yet politeness and violence are in fact intertwined and inseparable. Segregation was accomplished through an elaborate system of norms about when black and white people could meet, and how they could interact.
- How Mad Men marked the end of one revolution and the start of another.
There are the 1960s, and then there is "the Sixties," and they only overlap to a degree. Popular culture and popular history have turned the Sixties in America into a dreamscape of mop-topped British invaders, painted hippies, an escalating war in Vietnam, a moon landing, and massive social unrest. But before the rise of the flower children, there were men in suits and short haircuts, women in conservative dresses, and chaste movie musicals dominating at the box office. And it's not like the counterculture obliterated the culture that had already existed. The psychedelic-inflected comedy of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" was the highest rated show of the 1968-69 season, but the top 10 also included "Gomer Pyle," "Bonanza," "Mayberry RFD," "Family Affair," "Gunsmoke," "The Dean Martin Show," "Here's Lucy" and "The Beverly Hillbillies." In 1969, the same year that The Beatles released "Abbey Road" and The Rolling Stones presented "Let It Bleed," aging Rat Pack icon Frank Sinatra had a huge hit with what would become his signature song, "My Way."
1 April 2015
As I've mentioned before on this blog, Puerto Rico, the island and US territory, voted in 2012 to become the 51st state of the Union. This would resolve the current difficult situation Puerto Ricans find themselves in: they are considered citizens of the United States, but do not receive the full protection of the constitution unless they move to the mainland.
For years, Puerto Ricans such as myself have been writing and speaking about the island’s perpetual limbo relationship with the United States; a relationship — formed in 1898 when the US invaded and annexed Puerto Rico at the tail end of the Spanish–American War — that was glaringly lopsided from the start. As US citizens, Puerto Ricans can fight on behalf of America in foreign wars, but they can’t vote for the president who sends them there. They pay taxes, but don’t have a representative in Congress who can vote on how to spend them. It’s definitively anti-American: modern-day taxation without representation.
All these years, we Puerto Ricans both on the island and the mainland (about eight million of us) have tried to convince our fellow Americans to pay attention to the injustices playing out in their own back yard. We are mired in obvious inequities, but are distracted by political status options (statehood, commonwealth, independence) with non-binding status plebiscites leading nowhere (in 2012, Puerto Ricans rejected the status quo and favored statehood). And if that weren’t enough, the island’s neo-colonial economy is about to go bankrupt, too.
James Surowiecki expands on the island's economic troubles:
[Puerto Rico] had been one of the great postwar economic-development success stories, turning itself from a poor, largely rural society into a manufacturing powerhouse with a thriving middle class. But by the nineteen-nineties the economy had slowed, and then it went off the rails. Puerto Rico has been in and out of recession since 2006. Its unemployment rate is around fourteen per cent; forty-five per cent of the population lives below the federal poverty line; and there’s a fiscal crisis — a scramble to restructure debts of seventy-three billion dollars. Last year, the new governor, Alejandro Padilla, said, “We’ve proved that Puerto Rico is not Detroit and not Greece.” As boasts go, that’s hardly encouraging.
Puerto Rico’s difficulties are rooted, in part, in its earlier success. Its path to industrialization was paved with corporate tax breaks. The most important one was Section 936 of the U.S. tax code. (Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.) This went into effect in 1976, and exempted the profits earned by American companies from federal taxes ... The problem was that the growth depended on that crucial tax break, and in 1996 Congress began phasing it out. It expired completely a decade later, and, as the subsidies disappeared, so did many factories, relocating to places where labor was cheaper and regulation lighter. Between 1996 and 2014, the number of manufacturing jobs on the island fell by almost half. Last year, the island’s Secretary of Economic Development, Alberto Bacó Bagué, said that, once the island’s tax exemption expired, “we kind of disappeared from the map.”
Perhaps resolving the island's status and giving its people full representation in Congress, as they have requested, might help draw some attention to these problems. And there is some sign things are moving forward, as was recently reported by the Latin American Herald Tribune:
The Puerto Rican representative in Washington and leader of the island’s opposition party, Pedro Pierluisi, proposed on Wednesday the law of the admission process of Puerto Rico as state.
In 2014, the U.S. Congress approved a $2.5 million endowment to finance the holding of the first consultation on the issue in the history of Puerto Rico sponsored by the federal government, provided certain conditions were met.
Pierluisi has proposed a new law that would those funds to once again put the statehood question to a Puerto Rican vote, which, if successful, see the island admitted to the Union on January 1, 2021. The bill has been referred to committee, and Govtrack.us gives a not-encouraging 10 per cent chance of it being enacted. Also, there's this:
The party in favor of Puerto Rico becoming the 51st U.S. state is the opposition New Progressive Party, while the ruling Popular Democratic Party wants to maintain the current political status.
1 April 2015
- Indiana's new anti-gay law could prove quite costly.
At stake are losses for manufacturing ($95.4 billion in annual state output), finance ($44 billion) and tourism ($10.3 billion) -- not to mention reputational harm. Arizona adopted a similar religious-freedom bill last year, but “opposition from the state’s business interests led Republican Governor Jan Brewer to veto it.”
- An Indiana woman is the first woman in the US to be convicted of feticide.
Patel was arrested in July 2013 after she went to the emergency room, bleeding heavily, at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana. Despite initially denying the pregnancy, Patel eventually admitted to medical authorities that she had a miscarriage and threw the stillborn fetus in a dumpster.
According to Sue Ellen Braunlin, doctor and co-president of the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Purvi was most likely 23-24 weeks pregnant, although prosecutors argued Patel was 25 weeks along in the state's opening argument. The prosecution confirmed on Monday that the baby died within seconds of being born.
- White America's failed lesson in colourblindness.
For one, movements toward racial justice have always attracted a sliver of the young white population with a disposition geared toward radical politics. They are not necessarily representative of their entire generation. Furthermore, with respect to this particular generation, the Millennials, the education these young white people have received have left them ill-equipped to understand the nature of racism and subsequently supplied them analysis that won’t address the problem. As children of the multi-cultural 1980s and 90s, Millennials are fluent in colorblindness and diversity, while remaining illiterate in the language of anti-racism. This may not be the end of the world, if weren’t for the fact that Millennials don’t know the difference between the two.
- How The Birth of a Nation split liberals over issues of race and free-speech.
In 1915 moral panic over the depiction of crime and vice in such movies as Traffic in Souls and The Inside of the White Slave Traffic was feeding conservative demands for constraints, with Congress already mulling a federal censorship board. The most successful legislation to that point, a 1912 bill to ban interstate sales of boxing films, had a blatantly racist motive: the desire to suppress footage of boxer Jack Johnson defeating “great white hope” James Jeffries. Free-speech advocates fought back against the rising tide. Vetoing an ordinance to introduce movie censors in New York City, Mayor William Jay Gaynor wrote, “Do they know what they are doing? Do they know anything of the history and literature of the subject? Do they know that the censorships of past ages did immeasurably more harm than good?”
- How Chinese food came to American suburbia.
It was the early 1970s, and my parents had each arrived in the United States with only a vague sense of what their respective futures held, beyond a few years of graduate studies. They certainly didn’t know they would be repeating these treks in the coming decades, subjecting weary passengers (namely, me) to their own long drives in search of Chinese food. I often daydream about this period of their lives and imagine them grappling with some sense of terminal dislocation, starving for familiar aromas, and regretting the warnings of their fellow new Americans that these were the last good Chinese spots for the next hundred or so miles. They would eventually meet and marry in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (where they acquired a taste for pizza), and then live for a spell in Texas (where they were told that the local steak house wasn’t for “their kind”), before settling in suburban California. Maybe this was what it meant to live in America. You could move around. You were afforded opportunities unavailable back home. You were free to go by “Eric” at work and name your children after US presidents. You could refashion yourself a churchgoer, a lover of rum-raisin ice cream, an aficionado of classical music or Bob Dylan, a fan of the Dallas Cowboys because everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to be one. But for all the opportunities, those first days in America had prepared them for one reality: sometimes you had to drive great distances in order to eat well.
- Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon at War - Book Launch
- Night-time Design: Envisioning Luminous Cities
- An Evening with George Takei
- Student Roundtable with The Honourable Jeffrey Bleich
- Bringing Order to Cyber's Wild, Wild West: The Future of Data Privacy and Data Security
- China's conflicted policies toward its periphery
- The Role of the United States in Asia-Pacific Security
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- Robert Burgelman: Leading Strategically in a Turbulent Environment
- Robert Thomson: The Obama Administration and the Actions Shaping the Global Financial Crisis
- Barry Jackson: Evaluating the Obama Stimulus Package
- The Great American Recession: What Does It Mean For You?
- Edward Leamer: The Financial Crisis and the Outlook for the US
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- Foreign Policy of Obama and McCain: Which is Australia's Gain?
- Mike Chinoy: Global Crisis Points - The War on Terror, Loose Nukes and American Foreign Policy
- James Gibbons: Replicating Silicon Valley - Lessons for Australia
- Vice Presidential Debate Screening
- Visit by the Australian Political Exchange Council’s 25th US Delegation
- Derek Shearer: Obama v McCain - Who Will Win, Does it Matter?
- John Howard Dinner
- McCain's Acceptance Speech: Republican National Convention
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- Obama's Acceptance Speech: Democratic National Convention
- Hedley Bull Book Launch: Address by Bob Hawke
- Great White Fleet Centenary Ball
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- Jonathan Pollack: US-North Asia Relations
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- ANZASA Conference
- Peter Scher: Will US Trade Policy Change After the 2008 Elections?
- Peter Scher: The Next President's Challenge - Global Trade and the 2008 Elections
- Matt Bai: US Political Journalism - The Next Generation
- Bob Pisano: Positioning Australian Screen Content in the US Marketplace
- Marvin Goodfriend: The Outlook for the US Economy and the State of the Financial Institutions
- American Foreign Policy After Bush: Frank Fukuyama in Conversation with Geoffrey Garrett
- Frank Fukuyama Meets US Studies Students
- Frank Fukuyama: Contemporary Issues Facing America
- Super Tuesday screening at the Manning Bar
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- 2007 National Opinion Survey: Australian Attitudes Towards the US (Part 2)
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