Charles M. Blow at The New York Times laments the slaying of Michael Brown and other children in A Funeral in Ferguson:
Two weeks after the killing of Michael Brown, we have become painfully familiar with his parents through their public appearances and television interviews, their faces drawn, their sorrow apparent. [...]Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Wrong Way Nation:
A 2008 study published in The Journal of Family Psychology found that, understandably, the death of a child can have “long-term effects on the lives of parents,” including “more depressive symptoms, poorer well-being, and more health problems.” Even that, to me, feels like an understatement. I am always in awe at the strength displayed by parents who lose a child and are immediately thrust into the public eye because their children cease to simply be children but graduate into being a cause.
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Yet, too many people have had to endure a similar grief, if often under different circumstances. According to ChildDeathReview.org, in 2010, 45,068 children ages 0 to 19 died in the United States. Two-thirds died of natural causes. Another 8,684 died of unintentional injuries like car accidents and drowning. But 2,808 died as result of homicide, including 1,790 by firearm.
But why are housing prices in New York or California so high? Population density and geography are part of the answer. For example, Los Angeles, which pioneered the kind of sprawl now epitomized by Atlanta, has run out of room and become a surprisingly dense metropolis. However, as Harvard’s Edward Glaeser and others have emphasized, high housing prices in slow-growing states also owe a lot to policies that sharply limit construction. Limits on building height in the cities, zoning that blocks denser development in the suburbs and other policies constrict housing on both coasts; meanwhile, looser regulation in the South has kept the supply of housing elastic and the cost of living low.More pundit excerpts can be found beneath the orange tangle.
So conservative complaints about excess regulation and intrusive government aren’t entirely wrong, but the secret of Sunbelt growth isn’t being nice to corporations and the 1 percent; it’s not getting in the way of middle- and working-class housing supply.
And this, in turn, means that the growth of the Sunbelt isn’t the kind of success story conservatives would have us believe. Yes, Americans are moving to places like Texas, but, in a fundamental sense, they’re moving the wrong way, leaving local economies where their productivity is high for destinations where it’s lower. And the way to make the country richer is to encourage them to move back, by making housing in dense, high-wage metropolitan areas more affordable.
So Rick Perry doesn’t know the secrets of job creation, or even of regional growth. It would be great to see the real key—affordable housing—become a national issue. But I don’t think Democrats are willing to nominate Mayor Bill de Blasio for president just yet.
Jessica Valenti at The Guardian writes We have more than just a campus rape problem. There is invisible rape all over:
As the school year starts up again this month, so will university orientations with ramped-up trainings on sexual assault prevention – followed, I’m sure, by a semester of underreported attacks, inevitable administrative mishandlings and student-led lawsuits. Thanks to the increased American focus on campus rapes by activists, the media and even the White House, people will undoubtedly be paying attention this school year. And I’m glad for that.While the leaders of ISIS, or the Islamic State, may want to want an 11th Century social world, that doesn't mean they don't have a thoroughly 21st understanding of social media. Robert Fisk at The Independent writes Isis's undoubted skill in exploiting social media is no reason for US leaders to start talking about an imminent apocalypse:
But I hope that, as we shake our heads in shame and frustration over student assaults, we don’t forget the scourge of rape that has infiltrated every corner of our country – not just the places that house college campuses. [...]
I do understand why the national conversation about rape is so focused on campus assaults. And it’s certainly not as if the campus rape problem is going away – college administrations are still failing survivors, and victim-blaming still abounds. But part of the reason the issue of student sexual assault has captured our attention—in addition to the tireless work by young activists—is that we see these victims as more deserving of sympathy, and because they more closely resemble the people in the media who are making editorial decisions, and their friends and family.
It was their ability to produce such a chilling videotape of James Foley’s beheading—but one which was also quite slickly made in its perverse way—that prompted the infantile outbursts (‘apocalyptic’/’end-of-days’) from America’s defence secretary and top soldier last week. These jihadi guys, they seem to have been saying, not only slaughtered Westerners—they knew how to use technology.Steve Almond at the Los Angeles Times writes Boycotting the football industrial complex:
James Foley’s kidnappers, for example, searched through his laptop in a way no Taliban would have dreamed of 20 years ago. And that was where they found out that his brother was in the US air force. Foley, according to his friends who were later released, tried to make light of the beatings he then received. His treatment grew worse once his computer memory had been opened. That is what the foreign jihadis have added to this latest Middle East war, a profound understanding of a science which we hitherto thought – in some unenlightened, blimp-like way – belonged to us. We still have not reflected deeply enough about the internet in this context. In a world in which the most ferocious verbal attacks—poison pen letters gone made—can be made on politicians, journalists, even NGOs, is it surprising that the same science of power without responsibility has provided al-Baghdadi and his lads with their most potent weapon, an armament which can be used against us but also a science which they can share.
few years ago, I began to feel guilty about watching football. What started it were the revelations about brain damage we now know the game caused in many retired players. But there was plenty more—the cynical commercialization of the sport, its cultish celebration of violence and the more subtle ways in which football warps our societal attitudes about race, gender and sexual orientation.Rebecca Burns at In These Times writes A RAD-ical Housing Experiment:
The more I pondered it, the more I came to the conclusion that fans ultimately built our massive football industrial complex, and that means fans—people like me—are ultimately responsible for its corruptions. The moral logic is pretty simple: Until the game fundamentally changes, I have to stop watching.
But it is one thing to publicly renounce your favorite sport, and another thing entirely to go cold turkey. It's August, the beginning of the beginning of the football season, and I've spent the month in cruel withdrawal, confronting the depth of my 40-year-old addiction. [...]
But sacrifice is what makes my effort meaningful, I know. The cost of moral progress— for me—is inconvenience and even grief. My hope is that I'll slowly adjust to a life without football and find the joys it provided me in other allegiances, ones that allow me to sleep a little easier. And yes, I realize that one fan's rehab may not change football, and that in the larger moral scheme of things, depriving myself of a decadent form of entertainment ranks as a minor First World problem. Still, fans need to recognize that the game isn't going to change until we force the issue by walking away.
After decades of decay, public housing in the United States could soon be relegated to the dustbin of history, thanks to a new Obama administration initiative called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. A pilot launched last year in response to a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs, RAD will hand over 60,000 units of public housing nationwide to private management by 2015. Though that’s only a fraction of the nearly 1.2 million public housing units that provide a safety net for more than 2 million people, housing advocates worry that RAD’s reforms are a Trojan horse for sweeping privatization of a crucial public asset.David Dayen at The New Republic warns You Thought the Mortgage Crisis Was Over? It's About to Flare Up Again:
In the wake of the Great Depression, a surge of tenant activism helped usher in public housing as a federally funded, locally administered program to address poor living conditions in urban areas. But the program came to be viewed less as a public good and more as housing of last resort, giving rise to a cycle of demonization and neglect, followed by pernicious “reforms.” RAD is the latest in a series of initiatives to address the underfunding of public housing with a familiar free-market solution: handing off state-owned assets to private actors who receive public subsidies in exchange for an increasingly involved role in managing housing for low-income tenants.
e are nearly eight years removed from the beginnings of the foreclosure crisis, with over five million homes lost. So it would be natural to believe that the crisis has receded. Statistics point in that direction. Financial analyst CoreLogic reports that the national foreclosure rate fell to 1.7 percent in June, down from 2.5 percent a year ago. Sales of foreclosed properties are at their lowest levels since 2008, and the rate of foreclosure starts—the beginning of the foreclosure process—is at 2006 levels. At the peak, 2.9 million homes suffered foreclosure filings in 2010; last year, the number was 1.4 million.David A. Love at The Progressive writes The Militarization of the Police Is a Threat to Democracy :
But these numbers are likely to reverse next year, with foreclosures spiking again. And it has nothing to do with recent-vintage loans, which actually have performed as well as any in decades. Instead, a series of temporary relief measures and legacy issues from the crisis will begin to bite in 2015, causing home repossessions that could present economic headwinds. In other words, the foreclosure crisis was never solved; it was deferred. And next year, the clock begins to run out on that deferral. [...]
A second foreclosure spike could stunt the housing recovery and really smash communities just rising from the ashes of the crisis. Permanent solutions could have been explored when it counted to prevent this from occurring. Now we’ll have to hope things don’t go as badly the second time around.
The militarization of the police is not unique to Ferguson. Thanks to a federal program called 1033, the government authorized the distribution of $4.3 billion in surplus military materials to local law enforcement agencies. The equipment includes items such as pistols, automatic rifles, flash-bang or stun grenades, silencers, armored drones and armored vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan known as MRAPs (for Mine-Resistant Armored Protected). Police departments that want an MRAP need only fill out a one-page form. [...]Dave Zirin at The Nation writes On the Little League World Series, Jackie Robinson West and Michael Brown:
“The militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adopt a ‘warrior’mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies, as well as in the equipment they use,” the report said. [...]
Police are community servants, not mercenaries. And when they view the community as a wartime enemy, then we are truly approaching a police state. - See more at: http://www.progressive.org/...
To paraphrase bell hooks, the events of this summer show with bracing clarity that there are huge swaths of this country that love black culture and hate black people. It is difficult to not see this reality in the events of the last week: events that counterpose something as American as apple pie, the Little League World Series, and something else that is frankly also as American as apple pie: the killing of unarmed black men and women by police.David Sirota at TruthDig writes Journalists on the Government’s Blacklist:
On the Little League side, Hollywood could not have painted a more soul-stirring tableau. We have the charming, charismatic champions of the United States, called Jackie Robinson West, hailing from the great metropolis of Chicago. JRW is a team consisting entirely of African-American kids. The fact that such a team has ascended to the finals of the Little League World Series is an astounding accomplishment both athletically as well as demographically. JRW is the first all African-American team to become US champions in over thirty years. During that same thirty-year stretch the number of African-American kids who play baseball has plummeted dramatically, their roster spots in Major League Baseball falling from 19 percent to 8 percent of all players. In college baseball, less than 6 percent of rosters have African-American players.
As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street, and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, a study released earlier this month revealed that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work.
The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Dr. Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”
“That horrified us that so many would do that,” Carlson told the Columbia Journalism Review, which reported on her presentation at the July conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.