Archive

December 21st

What Baltimore needs can't be found in a courtroom

    Without a public declaration of guilty or not guilty, without a resolution for a city in so much pain, how can Baltimore begin to heal?

    A small crowd of protesters pinballed around town on Wednesday night when they were served the unsatisfying outcome - a mistrial - in the first of six police officer trials in the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old suffered a severe spinal injury in a police van in April and died a week later, touching off riots.

    After the jury could not reach a consensus on the charges, including involuntary manslaughter, against Officer William G. Porter, the protesters yelled outside the courthouse. Then they yelled some more at City Hall. To the Inner Harbor! Never mind. To the jail? Nothing to be done there. They seemed pretty aimless. Hungry for an outcome that even the verdict they want probably wouldn't provide.

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Russian arms in Syria keep U.S. grounded

    There is a new crisis for the international effort to destroy the Islamic State, created by the Kremlin. The United States has stopped flying manned air-support missions for rebels in a key part of northern Syria due to Russia's expansion of air defense systems there, and the Obama administration is scrambling to figure out what to do about it.

    Russia's military operations inside Syria have been expanding in recent weeks, and the latest Russian deployments, made without any advance notice to the United States, have disrupted the U.S.-led coalition's efforts to support Syrian rebel forces fighting against the Islamic State near the Turkey-Syria border, just west of the Euphrates River, several Obama administration and U.S. defense officials told us. This crucial part of the battlefield, known inside the military as Box 4, is where a number of groups have been fighting the Islamic State for control, until recently with overhead support from U.S. fighter jets.

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Only in America: Four years into life, poor kids are already an entire year behind

    Wealthy parents aren't just able to send their kids to top pre-schools - they can also purchase the latest learning technology and ensure their children experience as many museums, concerts and other cultural experiences as possible. Low-income parents, on the other hand, don't have that opportunity. Instead, they're often left to face the reality of sending their kids to schools without having had the chance to provide an edifying experience at home.

    That might sound foreboding if not hyperbolic, but it's a serious and widespread problem in the United States, where poor kids enter school already a year behind the kids of wealthier parents. That deficit is among the largest in the developed world, and it can be extraordinarily difficult to narrow later in life.

    This is one of the key takeaways from a new book about how United States is failing its children. The book, called "Too Many Children Left Behind," is written by Columbia University professor Jane Waldfogel, a long-time researcher of poverty and inequality. And it will force almost anyone to reflect on the impact of unchecked inequality on children.

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Is Cruz more dangerous than Trump?

    You know what they say: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." That's certainly turned out to be true in the Republican primary for president.

    For months, many Republicans and Democrats have been saying: "If only some other candidate could climb ahead of Donald Trump." Now it looks like somebody has climbed ahead of Donald Trump, at least in Iowa, and that person is Texas Senator Ted Cruz -- who, in many respects, is worse than Trump.

    A Harvard graduate, Cruz is both smarter than Trump, and much more dangerous. He not only looks like Sen. Joe McCarthy, he's just as ruthless. Where Trump swings wildly with a club, Cruz attacks artfully with a switchblade. No wonder he's the most unpopular member of the Senate. He's mean, vindictive, and, by far, the most extreme right-wing candidate in the race.

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Incorrect Language And More

    A recent headline boldly announced that Donald Trump's xenophobic comments of banning all Muslims from this nation disqualified him as President.  What do they mean? Let us shout loudly and clearly he was never qualified for President of this nation in the first place.  For emphasis let us repeat: He was NEVER QUALIFIED for PRESIDENT in "any way, shape, form or fashion."

    Speculation continues about his intent in running.  Did he really think he could get elected?  Is he as surprised as we are that he got this far?  Surely he doesn't believe all the garbage spilling out or his mouth.  Does he care at all about the nation or is it pure ego? 

    One writer has suggested that it was to prove to his father that he could accomplish on his own.  Some of us have had some of the same wonder regarding George W. Bush:  that he had to show the family he was as important as Brother JEB!, the family's anointed one.  Haven't we had enough of that? Don't we wish they would just see a psychiatrist?  All of them. 

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Four ways the US is already banning Muslims

    Donald Trump's proclamations about banning all Muslims from entering the United States - even if temporarily - have triggered welcome condemnation, as politicians have scrambled to remind us that such a ban would be contrary to American values. Yet those of us engaged with policies affecting U.S. Muslims between election cycles are dismayed, but not surprised, by Trump's idea. For the past 14 years, authorities have steadily and silently implemented variants of the proposed Muslim exclusion.

    In my four years working at the CLEAR project, I saw how our primarily U.S. Muslim clients encountered an array of policies and practices denying Muslims - citizens or residents - full access to the privileges of citizenship and permanent residency. A few examples:

 

    1. Delaying and denying Muslim immigrant petitions

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When Democracy Becomes Must-See TV

    To anybody who watches cable TV news, it's clear that the nation has embarked upon a great political experiment. Its object would be instantly clear to readers of Neil Postman's 1985 classic "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business."

    To wit, is it even possible for a democratic country to govern itself when news becomes "infotainment," and infotainment, news?

    At any given moment, one of two TV "news" stories predominates to the exclusion of all other topics: Donald Trump and terrorism. CNN has covered almost nothing else since the tragedy in San Bernardino. Tune in any time, day or night, and it's either Trump, terror, or panels of talking heads discussing them.

    Meanwhile, the network has been running a countdown clock in the corner of the screen keeping viewers appraised of the weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds leading to the Dec. 15 GOP debate -- as if it were a moon launch or, more appropriately, a pay-per-view professional wrestling match.

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December 20th

On Terrorism, Cruz Has No Idea

    Terrorism is not going away. We saw that in the closing of the Los Angeles schools after what was deemed a "credible" threat. The threat turned out to be not real, but with the country under heightened alarm, local authorities have become hyper-vigilant. That was 650,000 students sent or kept home.

    When a good piece of time passed without a serious terrorist attack, politicians went soft. Many hawks on the right switched gears, turning on "big government" as the predominant evil and its national security programs as an assault on the privacy of innocent Americans.

    With the massacres in Paris and San Bernardino, California, still in the headlines, many Americans are wondering what was so terrible about the federal bulk surveillance program that Congress ended in September. Rekindled fears of terrorism have changed the conversation.

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Trump tries to rise above the fray he created

    Donald Trump hyped the fifth debate of Republican candidates as if it were a heavyweight champion fight and he was defending his title. Yet for the first 20 minutes, the front-runner seemed barely to be there, not hitting anyone who didn't hit him first. When the moderator, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, asked Jeb Bush about his description of Trump as "unhinged," the Donald was surprisingly low energy: "Jeb doesn't really believe I'm unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign."

    For Trump, that's being nicey-nicey. For the next 20 minutes, he sat back as Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio tussled. The real estate mogul didn't make news until the conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt grilled him on his hints that he'd run as an independent if the party tried to cheat him out of the nomination. He promised not to. We couldn't see if his fingers were crossed.

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The immigration game Cruz and Rubio can't win

    Tuesday night's Republican debate proved once again that there is no way for a Republican -- any Republican -- to truly win a debate on immigration.

    Yes, Republicans of all stripes can score partisan points when they talk about the border. The sizable decline in illegal migration coming across from Mexico during the Obama administration is a fact aggressively, almost universally, unacknowledged in Republican circles. So clamoring for a militaristic crackdown on the spectral hordes crossing the Rio Grande is a certain winner. Heck, it's so easy that even Jeb Bush, who memorably described illegal immigration as an "act of love," can fake it.

    The trouble surfaces on the topic of the 11 million settled undocumented immigrants who crossed borders long ago. Their fate, and the intraparty conflict it generates between those entertaining punitive fantasies and those committed to more humane realities, is the crux of the party's Donald Trump calamity. Trump has merely channeled, albeit more effectively than many of us ever imagined, the ugly political energy that was bound to seep out one way or another.

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