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We begin today's APR with the tragic accidental killing of a gun range instructor by a 9-year-old girl. The New York Times:
It seems beyond pathetic to describe this horrific turn of events as simply an unforeseen accident, leaving unasked the obvious question: How in the world did a lethal battlefield weapon wind up in the hands of a pony-tailed youngster? Where was common sense? What were the parents thinking?

As for the shooting range’s proprietor: What encourages an entrepreneur to welcome children as young as 8 onto his firing range as part of the unfortunately booming “gun tourism” business? The very name of the tour group that delivered the family to the Last Stop firing range — Bullets and Burgers — seems the stuff of Jonathan Swift’s dark ruminations about human madness.

Jay Parini:
The question that the whole world asks is this: Why was a 9-year-old girl allowed even to try to shoot a submachine gun?

I have a further question: Why does anybody not on the front lines of the military in a war zone need to have access to a submachine gun?

It's not as though we haven't had plenty of evidence that this gun thing in America isn't working. Since the ghastly massacre of elementary school children at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, by a deranged teenager, as of June there were at least 74 school shootings, on school grounds or in schools themselves. It's commonplace in this country now: A deranged shooter appears, armed to the teeth, out of his mind. Everyone ducks or runs for cover. The shooter proceeds calmly through the building, taking out innocents.
What kind of country have we become? Was this what the Founding Fathers had in mind?

More on the day's top stories below the fold.

Eugene Robinson provides an analysis of the President's speech on ISIS and Iraq:

I’d like to hear an honest discussion by our leaders about what we’re signing up for. Obama called the Islamic State a “cancer” and said the fight against it “won’t be easy and it won’t be quick.” To my ears, this suggests that the United States is making a long-term commitment and that time is on our side, not the Islamic State’s. I’d like to examine both assumptions.

Public support for extended U.S. military involvement in another Middle East war lies somewhere between negligible and nonexistent. An open-ended commitment would run counter to the thrust of Obama’s foreign policy from Day One — and indeed, he has limited the airstrikes and declared that he will “not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq.”

If there are to be no boots on the ground, one wonders what kind of footwear the hundreds of U.S. military advisers newly sent to Iraq are sporting. One also wonders what the plan might be.

Susan Milligan writes about the old boys club in Congress and the workplace:
It is simply inappropriate and patronizing to comment on a woman’s looks in a professional setting. This is not the same thing as saying “nice dress” to a colleague. (And no, despite a hysteria among some men who think they shouldn’t have to self-censor when making observations in the workplace, no one has ever been fired for saying “nice dress” to a woman. In fact, far, far cruder things have been said without anyone getting fired.) And it is really inappropriate to remark on a woman’s body in a professional setting.

Even when the comment is professed to be a compliment, it’s not. The very premise of the alleged compliment is that despite what a woman does for a living – be it attorney general, secretary of state, first lady or U.S. senator – her real job is to look pretty for men. And worse, the same men often assume that women share that belittling value system about themselves – hence, the outcry after a news magazine photo of GOP congresswoman Michele Bachmann did not show her at her most attractive. The problem wasn’t that Bachmann (who, for what it’s worth, is an extremely attractive woman) didn’t look movie-star stunning in the photo (and few news photos are chosen to show a candidate’s best side). The insult was the idea that Bachmann was going to dissolve into some tragic, girly puddle of tears because people might think she wasn’t so good-looking.

It's time to go back to school, and Carlo Rotella says it's a good time to reflect on the importance of good teachers:
This familiar seasonal frenzy tends not to include much appreciation of the craft of teaching. There are many good teachers out there, quietly tuning up their instruments as they prepare to go back to making beautiful music with their students. What they do in the classroom may look sorcerous, even miraculous, but, like good music, it’s almost always the result of painstaking practice, rigorous self-examination, and deep attention to craft. [...]
Finally, do you think you should be expected to check work email after work hours? Here's Clive Thompson's take:
Limiting workplace email seems radical, but it’s a trend in Germany, where Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States? Absolutely. It not only could, but it should. [...] More than a century ago, blue-collar workers fought for a limited workday with an activist anthem: “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.” It’s a heritage that, this Labor Day, we need to restore.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 04:40 AM PDT.


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