February 22, 2017
The [Wednesday] Papers
I've got some things to attend to this morning, so no proper column.
Lou Rawls' WGN Promo.
There's A Tiny Town In Illinois Completely Surrounded By Breathtaking Natural Beauty.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Catch the spit.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:21 AM | Permalink
February 21, 2017
The [Tuesday] Papers
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to use millions of dollars in unspent property tax rebate money hit a roadblock Tuesday as several aldermen said he should be focusing the cash more directly on anti-violence efforts," the Tribune reports.
"The City Council budget committee did not vote on Emanuel's proposal for the nearly $15 million, and committee Chairman Ald. Carrie Austin said the mayor's intention to earmark part of the money for tree planting was a problem."
But not as big a problem as choosing a punch line to go here!
Our very own Tim Willette suggests #PlantLivesMatter.
"Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, who rankled the mayor by introducing his own alternate plan for the money, said he would be willing to compromise on most of his own ideas."
Lopez later arrived home to find the head of a tree in his bed.
"Lopez said the package needs to address the crime besetting many West Side and South Side neighborhoods."
Emanuel said that treelessness was a problem too.
"Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, said Emanuel's plan would have failed to pass the budget committee 'if he had tried to ram it through' on Tuesday. And Munoz said the mayoral version would have gotten at least 18 'no' votes in the full council. That wouldn't have been enough opposition to defeat Emanuel's plan, but it could have been an embarrassment for the mayor as he tries to show he is prioritizing anti-violence efforts."
Italics mine as I try to show that the Tribune is trying to show that the mayor is trying to show he is prioritizing anti-violence efforts instead of actually prioritizing anti-violence efforts.
"The council dust-up focuses on how to spend money left over from Emanuel's plan to give property tax rebates. Most eligible homeowners didn't bother to take advantage of the program."
This is the part that bothers me. Just send those homeowners a check! It's their money!
Of course, the rebate program was a cynical political ploy. I'm betting most eligible homeowners never knew about the program, regardless of City Hall's informational campaign, or were stymied somehow by the bureaucracy and found the amount due wasn't worth whatever paperwork was involved. Nobody is actively, willingly and gladly turning down free money.
Beyond that, Emanuel almost certainly knew much of the money wouldn't be claimed and thus, he was basically creating a slush fund. The maximum amount due an eligible homeowner was $200, which is nice, but c'mon.
"If history is any guide, the city won't be out that much money," the Tribune reported last July.
"When Mayor Richard M. Daley offered rebates in 2010, more than 160,000 eligible homeowners didn't apply. Only 36,621 got rebates under a plan that cost the city less than $4.5 million."
"The Program was launched on October 1, 2016, and since then, over 11,000 Chicago homeowners have applied for their rebate," the city said at the end of November, when it graciously extended the application program a month, probably to avoid embarrassment at the low participation rate.
"The average rebate amount is $109 with a total of over $1.2 million already scheduled to be provided to homeowners."
And what did homeowners have to do to get the money?
"Residents can apply for a rebate by visiting any one of the over 20 neighborhood locations," the city said at the time.
"Chicago residents should bring a photo ID (Driver's License, State ID, Consulate ID, Passport), their 2015 income tax returns or social security award letter, and the 2015 2nd installment property tax bill."
And then, I guess, stand in line on lunch hour . . .
In January, the Rahm-friendly Tribune editorial board used the phrase "bait-and-switch" to describe the program.
"Emanuel is treating the untapped rebate fund like new money. Look what I found!" the board said.
Back to today's Trib:
"The mayor's proposal calls for the bulk of the unused money to be used to upgrade city park infrastructure, equip all police officers with body cameras by the end of the year, rehab vacant homes and support after-school programs. Smaller amounts would be spent on a new cybersecurity training program at City Colleges, a test program to create crime-fighting intelligence centers, planting 1,000 trees, setting up a small-business incubator on the West Side and creating a call center on the South Side."
How slushy. Maybe spend it all in one place - like on school supplies.
And next time, Mr. Mayor, forget the rebate and just be honest about your tax increase - and how you plan to spend it.
Comment from John Kuczaj:
I found out about the rebate late. Once I saw the paperwork and hand-delivering I needed to do would net me $25, I decided instead to cash the $88.95 check the city sent me as a "settlement" for my claim that potholes blew out two of my tires, $270 actual cost).
"Also Tuesday, the budget committee advanced the mayor's nomination of Edward Siskel to be corporation counsel. Siskel replaces Stephen Patton, who stepped down Feb. 14.
"After the meeting, Siskel refused to say whether the mayor's office is negotiating with the Justice Department on a court-enforceable consent decree to govern Chicago Police Department reforms."
Siskel doesn't even have the job yet and he's already refusing to answer questions.
"Aldermen hit Siskel at the committee meeting over how he will do a better job than his predecessors in providing data that aldermen seek. 'Who is your client?' Munoz asked.
"Siskel said he was committed to provide legal services to both the mayor's office and the City Council, though aldermen said there have been problems in recent years with city lawyers failing to give aldermen information they seek on deals the mayor is working on."
Maybe the answer isn't the mayor or the aldermen, but city residents and taxpayers. We're the corporation!
New on today's Beachwood . . .
Behind Cheerleading's Peculiar Rise To Olympic Sport
Celebrating Women Of Courage
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Pop a top.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink
Cheerleading's Peculiar Path To Olympic Sport
Is cheerleading a sport?
The International Olympic Committee thinks so. In December, the IOC's executive board voted to provisionally recognize cheerleading.
This means that for the next three years, the IOC will provide the International Cheer Union with at least $25,000 annually to promote the sport.
During that time, the ICU can apply for full Olympic recognition in the Summer Olympic Games.
I study the history of women's sport, which makes me curious about Webb's enthusiasm for the IOC's decision. In the past, he has argued against classifying cheerleading as a sport. So why the sudden reversal?
The IOC's decision isn't the first time a major organization has played a role in determining whether cheerleading is a sport. A brief history shows that the debate is more complicated - and more political - than it might seem.
A Brief History Of Cheer
Cheerleading dates back to the late 1800s, when U.S. college football started gaining popularity. "Cheer leading" - as it was then known - was for men only and the "rooter kings" and "yell leaders" were often captains of other sports teams.
The prestige of the position, the Nation wrote in 1911, was "hardly second to that of having been a quarter-back."
Around the 1930s, girls and women began pushing for inclusion. By World War II, the demographics of most squads changed, and cheerleading transformed from a physical activity to a primarily social activity.
Soon, professional teams found that cheerleaders' wholesome sexuality boosted the entertainment value of their product. By the mid-1970s, an estimated 95 percent of all cheerleaders were girls and women.
A Business Booms
Title IX of the Education Amendment Acts of 1972 ushered in the first debate over cheerleading's status as a sport. School administrators who hoped to count cheerleaders as athletes in order to comply with the new law were soon disappointed. In 1975, the Office of Civil Rights resolved that cheerleading was an "extracurricular activity," not a sport. That is, it was more like marching band than basketball.
With a range of new athletic opportunities brought about by Title IX and a changing society, girls and women began to turn away from cheerleading. In response, leaders of the emerging "spirit industry," who sought to expand and profit from the activity, made it more athletic by encouraging the use of acrobatic stunts and tumbling. Leading the charge was Jeff Webb, a former collegiate cheerleader who, in 1974, founded the Universal Cheerleaders Association and, later, the Varsity Spirit Corporation.
Webb held his first training camp in the summer of 1975. In 1979, Varsity began selling cheerleading uniforms; in 1980, it held the first high school cheerleading championship, which ESPN broadcast in 1983. Since then, Varsity has either acquired or driven out its competitors to virtually corner the cheerleading market.
By the 1990s, cheerleaders were athletes, and Varsity was big business.
Today, Varsity Spirit is part of Varsity Brands Inc., which, among its many holdings, includes a staggering and diverse number of cheerleading and dance assets, including USA Cheer, the National Cheerleaders Association (once a rival organization), the National Dance Alliance, American Cheerleader magazine, and Varsity.tv. It hosts camps and clinics and stages cheerleading's biggest competitions. It owns cheerleading gyms and academies around the world. It provides cheerleading insurance and coaching safety and certification courses. But Varsity's biggest moneymaker is its uniforms and accessories division. Experts estimate it commands more than 80 percent of the market.
Varsity Brands also backs the ICU.
Follow The Money?
To be clear, competitive cheerleading - the variety the ICU and related groups promote - is distinct from traditional sideline cheerleading, where supportive auxiliaries rally crowds and promote school spirit. While cheerleaders can participate in both varieties of the activity, competitive cheer focuses on contests against other squads at the local, regional, national and now international levels.
A key moment in cheerleading history came with the 2010 Biediger v. Quinnipiac University case, in which Quinnipiac volleyball players and their coach filed suit after university administrators cut their team. In place of volleyball, they promoted competitive cheerleading to varsity sport status.
At the trial, Webb took the stand as an expert witness to testify that cheerleading was not a sport. The judge agreed, deciding that "Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students."
Critics contend that Webb's testimony had everything to do with Varsity's bottom line. If cheerleading became a recognized sport, it would need to abide by regulations that limited athletes' practice sessions and competitive seasons, just like any other sport. This would have undermined Varsity's for-profit competitions, camps, clinics and any number of ventures in which Varsity engages. As the Houston Press pointed out:
In one of Varsity's 2003 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Varsity was briefly a public company), the company stated that recognition of cheerleading as an official sport and the ensuing increased regulation 'would likely have a material adverse affect on Varsity's business, financial condition and results of operations.'
Webb and his supporters countered that by disallowing sideline activities and other traditional duties, competition-only teams would ruin cheerleading as we know it. Although squads may, from time to time, compete, their primary duties are to provide support to other teams and to their respective schools.
Toward A New Kind Of Sport
In the meantime, safety concerns have compelled the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and a number of state high school athletic federations to define cheerleading as a sport. Varsity has fought this trend. But advocates argue that sport status will provide cheerleaders with better equipment and facilities, better training for the coaches and scholastic oversight.
For these same reasons, a number of other schools, including Quinnipiac, joined together to form the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association. The organization currently boasts 17 member institutions, headed by the University of Oregon and Baylor University.
NCATA officials took careful pains to divorce their sport from cheerleading. Gone are the typical uniforms, the chants and the pom-poms. The competition format and skill set are unique. The group's website notes that acrobatics and tumbling (A&T) is "the evolution of different forms of gymnastics" that includes only "the athletic aspects of cheerleading." With the backing of USA Gymnastics, the NCATA has since petitioned the NCAA for "emerging sport" status (like provisional recognition from the IOC, it's not a championship sport but could become one in the future).
Not to be outdone, USA Cheer (part of Varsity Brands; tax documents show Webb as director) approached the NCAA with its own cheer-gymnastic hybrid called STUNT.
So according to Webb and his compatriots, STUNT is a sport, but cheerleading isn't - except when it comes to the Olympics.
A Slippery Definition
I'm not trying to come down on one side of the debate, and I'm not arguing against cheerleading's place on the Olympic program. But after trying to sort through the logic behind that decision, I'm a bit skeptical. Or maybe I'm just confused.
Perhaps most confusing is that the ICU is not pushing for STUNT to become an Olympic sport; it's pushing for cheerleading, which Webb and his Varsity compatriots unfailingly maintain isn't a sport.
It's not clear what Olympic cheerleading competitions might look like, but the ICU's website shows both coed and all-female divisions, with categories in team cheer, team performance cheer (with a note in the rules that stipulates "No cheers or chants allowed") and partner and group stunts.
We might even see yet another version at the Olympic level. This is because when the ICU initially sought membership with SportAccord - a crucial step in getting official IOC recognition - the international governing body of gymnastics opposed the application on the grounds that "Cheerleading is Gymnastics and that Cheerleading is not a distinct Sport." The ICU could only gain acceptance after its representatives signed a contract that essentially maintained "Cheer/Chant" in its original iteration and looked nothing like gymnastics. In other words, the version of cheerleading the ICU hopes to appear on the Olympic program is the same version of cheerleading Webb consistently asserts is not a sport.
So is cheerleading a sport? I guess it depends on who you ask and why you're asking.
The IOC's most recent decision to provisionally recognize cheer doesn't necessarily mean we will see it at 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. But we might. And it's too early to tell what, exactly, we'll be cheering.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink
February 20, 2017
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. Run the Jewels at the Aragon on Friday night.
2. George Clinton and P-Funk at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.
3. The Relationship at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.
4. MUNA at Subterranean on Saturday night.
5. Lo Moon at Subterranean on Saturday night.
6. Robb Banks at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.
7. Colony House at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.
8. Pain of Salvation at Reggies on Saturday night.
9. District 97 at Reggies on Saturday night.
10. Warbly Jets at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.
11. Here Come The Mummies at House of Blues on Saturday night.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 PM | Permalink
The [Monday] Papers
"Debbie Nelson, a secretary who lives in Orland Park, Ill., and works in downtown Chicago, said in an interview that she never liked Mr. Trump, but ended up voting for him because she was worried jobs like hers were being outsourced. She also didn't trust Mrs. Clinton," the New York Times reports.
"Ms. Nelson reluctantly voted for Mr. Trump - 'because of Hillary's lies' - but grew disillusioned with Mr. Trump's behavior, which she thought would change after the election."
It's painfully obvious to say, but I'll say it again: Hillary Clinton's relationship with the truth can at times be strained - within the bounds of normalcy we've unfortunately set for our politicians and civil discourse, where clever spin and message management are lauded by journalists themselves who praise those who can best manipulate them.
But I wonder what lies exactly Nelson would enumerate?
And then, of course, we could present Nelson with the lifetime list of lies Trump has told and see how they compare. Hey, Debbie, hit me up!
But that's not all: Nelson thought Trump would change his behavior once elected. This indicates Nelson believed his campaign behavior was simply campaign behavior, and not representative of the behavior of a lifetime. This would be wrong.
Now Nelson regrets her vote.
The tipping point for Nelson, according to the Times?
"[S]eeing Mr. Trump dismiss news and negative polls as fake."
That was your tipping point? Not the Access Hollywood tape, the neo-Nazi rhetoric (and support), the fascist rhetoric, the attack on a Muslim Gold Star family, making fun of a disabled reporter, calling John McCain a loser for getting caught in Vietnam and enduring five years of torture, the admiration of Putin, the anti-Semitism, the racism dating back to the early 1970s when he was sued by the federal government for not renting apartments to blacks, not releasing his tax returns, I mean, I could go on and on and on.
Oh, and I've got news for you, Debbie: Dismissing news and negative polls as fake was a standard of his campaign. Every single night. He'd put the press in a pen at his rallies while his supporters would scream "Lugenpresse!" at them.
But "Hillary's lies" and outsourcing. Ok.
The Trump we see now is not a surprise. All of the information was out there - unless your media diet consisted of the real fake news.
"Ms. Nelson is among the voters who approve of his overall policies, especially when it comes to immigration. 'I do want better security and I don't think there is anything wrong with that,' she said."
Aha! Here's the thing I've found: If you scratch a Trump voter, they tend to bleed racist. If you talk to a Trump supporter - and I've talked to many - they seem reasonable for the first 15 minutes, much like, say, Ron Paul does. At the 20-minute mark, it's niggers and kikes all the way down.
I wonder what makes Nelson believe that we need "better security" when it comes to immigrants. The Times doesn't tell us.
"But she was frustrated with the slapdash nature of Mr. Trump's executive order to restrict refugees and people from several primarily Muslim countries. That travel ban has since been bogged down in court, most recently when a federal appeals panel refused to reinstate it last week.
"I understand his concept of rushing in," Ms. Nelson, 59, said, "but when you are the president of the free world like he is, you have to do things procedurally. You just can't go willy-nilly."
But she's not against the travel ban per se. The one that was central to his campaign - only then it was called a Muslim ban. Repeatedly. It was even called that on Trump's campaign website. It was discussed widely. Nelson's problem? The slapdash execution. Do better keeping out the Muslims!
His concepts were good, he's just not doing a good enough job executing them! Like, where did "Lock her up!" go?
The Times wants you to believe the betrayal Nelson feels is reasonable - he keeps acting like a baby. But the betrayal instead seems to be ineptitude in Making America Great Again already - and doing so in a mature way. Ban Muslims in a more presidential way, sir!
Here's what else the Times didn't tell you: What's on the rest of Nelson's Twitter feed. For example:
The president is the one in a pickle. But good luck on that Muslim ban! Keep us safe!
I'd say this retweet of hers is an endorsement of this ridiculousness.
Um . . .
And then, the piece de resistance.
Debbie Nelson, your Twitter feed is full of adorable pandas, and I don't mean to punch down, but you are Today's Worst Person In Chicagoland.
P.S.: Are secretarial jobs like hers really being outsourced?
Don't Resist, Oppose.
Des Plaines Council Turns To Polygraphs In Leak Investigation.
1979 WGN Bulls Promo With Bob Costas.
Secret Ways To Save On Rental Cars.
How 'bout this year the fans wear the pajamas and crazy suits and go to petting zoos and the players just go about their business . . .
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Use it or lose it.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink
At The Ukrainian National Museum | Celebrating Women Of Courage
In celebration of National Women's History Month in March, the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago welcomes Celebrating Women of Courage, a traveling exhibition curated by local Vietnam Veteran/Artist Jerry Kykisz (U.S. Army).
The exhibition features photography, paintings, mixed media, poetry and short films of and by more than 15 courageous artists from across the country who have overcome extreme difficulties in their lives.
Many of the artists in this group exhibition are U.S. Veterans, Native Americans, and cancer survivors.
Artists include Andrea Harris, Charise Isis, Lindsay Delaronde, Kathleen Flynn, Katsitsionni Fox, Kathryn Hopkins, Mandy John-Collins, Awenheeyoh Powless, Nancy Scott, and Annamae Taubeneck, to list just a few.
Kykisz is one of the founding members of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum and a renowned photographer. In Kykisz's experiences at the NVVAM, he often came across female veterans who had important and inspirational experiences. He has kept in touch with many of these women and shares their stories in this visual art exhibition.
"All of my life I have known courageous women," Kykisz says, "but until recently did not realize how many there were, nor did I fully comprehend the extent of their bravery. The circumstances in today's media world have exposed me to the scope of the matter. Young girls seeking an education face death from terrorists. Mothers seeking safety for their children endure treacherous journeys. Women warriors risk life and limb in combat for our country. In the quest for equality and justice, women have shown the world courage they cannot be denied and must be celebrated."
The Ukrainian National Museum is located at 2249 W. Superior St. The exhibition will be on display from March 10 to March 31. Viewing Hours are Thursdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $5 (children under 12 are free).
Kathleen Flynn, Self-Portrait, Mixed Media on Canvas.
The Grace Project, by Charise Isis.
Mandy John-Collins, Women of USMC Platoon #4034.
Annamae Taubeneck, Self-Portrait, Mixed Media on Canvas.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:04 AM | Permalink
February 18, 2017
The Weekend Desk Report
For completists, there was no Friday column.
"Everyday in Illinois is 'Groundhog Day,'" Chuck Sweeny writes for the Rockford Register Star.
We wake up each morning and Illinois still doesn't have a budget. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner gives the same tired speech - give me pro-business measures and then you can have a budget - and Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan issues the same old retort - give me a budget and then we'll talk about your union-busting ideas.
As Sweeny notes, it's Rauner's third - of three - dead-on-arrival budget proposal.
And that AP report?
"Gov. Bruce Rauner is proposing what he calls a balanced budget. But expected spending outstrips revenue by at least $4 billion. And it could be more."
Bear in mind that Rauner continues to rail against what he calls decades of phony state budgets with imbalances the phony politicians have ignored.
"Rauner budget director Scott Harry says lawmakers can help fill the gap by agreeing to unspecified spending cuts, tax increases and economic growth."
Right. And those unspecified spending cuts, tax increases and economic growth figures just happen to equal the balance of what was needed to, um, balance the budget. If the revenue shortage came in higher, they'd just adjust the number!
Meanwhile . . .
Of course, there are a lot of scripts that get rehearsed day after day after day around here. For example, here's two from the Trib:
And you know what happens when scripts are endlessly repeated? The underlying issues get normalized and real solutions remain submerged.
Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Glory
Where Is Accountability For The Troubled SAT?
Beachwood Sports Radio: Butler Or Bust?
The Week In Chicago Rock
The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The Gotobeds are known for outrageous stage antics and a biting sense of humor. But behind that is a lyrical sophistication and tight musicianship. The Pittsburgh post-punk band joins Jim and Greg for a raucous performance in the studio. Plus, a review of the new album from Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco."
Another repeating script: Huge tax breaks for ultra-wealthy people.
The Ferro Effect.
Yeah, Brian Williams doing this interview is not the best look.
The Weekend Tronc Line: Pernicious.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 PM | Permalink
February 17, 2017
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #141: The Idea Of Trading Jimmy Butler Really Grinds Coach's Gears
Butler or Bust? Plus: Blackhawks Bye, Blame Barnwell, Joe Maddoning, and Coach Is Only Half-In On The White Sox Rebuild, Too.
:43: Butler Or Bust?
* Rosenbloom: Butler More Hossa Than Toews.
(* Rosenbloom: Okafor Young, But Not Athletic.)
* Sharp, SI: Jimmy Butler Trade? Celtics Face Deadline Dilemma.
* Mazique, Forbes: "Unfortunately, the Bulls are in a position where they must build through the draft because the team has been unable to sign major free agents since Michael Jordan left. Year after year, the Bulls have had money to spend, but have struck out when trying to woo the best players.
"Wade (back in 2010), LeBron James, Chris Bosh, [Carmelo] Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Tim Duncan were all free-agent targets at one time or another, but the Bulls haven't been able to get the best players in their prime. Instead, the Bulls have signed guys past their prime like Pau Gasol in 2014, Wade this past offseason, Ben Wallace in 2006 and Carlos Boozer in 2010 after being rejected by Wade, James and Bosh . . .
38:47: Blackhawks Bye.
* Lazerus: Get Eaves.
42:39: Blame Barnwell.
50:24: Coach Still Halfway Against White Sox Rebuild.
53:18: Joe Maddoning.
* Too late, Anthony:
* Totally not funny:
For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 PM | Permalink
The Week In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. Lordi at Reggies on Tuesday night.
2. Japandroids at the Vic on Wednesday night.
3. Tove Lo at the House of Blues on Thursday night.
4. Syleena Johnson at City Winery on Tuesday night.
5. Tom Hamilton's American Babies at the Hideout on Thursday night.
6. Hamilton Leithauser at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.
7. The Flashbulb at Schubas on Monday night.
Catching up with . . .
Micky Dolenz at the Arcada in St. Charles on February 11th.
See also: Mickey Dolenz Blows Away Fermilab Scientists With His Knowledge.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink
Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Glory
"Old Glory is a nickname for the flag of the United States. The original 'Old Glory' was a flag owned by the 19th-century American sea captain William Driver (March 17, 1803-March 3, 1886), who flew the flag during his career at sea and later brought it to Nashville, Tennessee, where he settled. Driver greatly prized the flag and ensured its safety from the Confederates, who attempted to seize the flag during the American Civil War."
Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:35 AM | Permalink
Where Is Accountability For The Troubled SAT?
BOSTON - Last month, the governing body of the College Board - the not-for-profit that owns the SAT college entrance exam - met at the Ritz-Carlton resort in Fort Lauderdale for its annual retreat.
In 2016, the organization struggled with myriad problems: security lapses overseas, a major breach of questions from the new SAT in the United States, concerns that math questions on the redesigned exam were too long, and continuing setbacks in its years-long effort to digitize the test.
Whether the organization's Board of Trustees discussed any of those issues at its Florida retreat is unclear. Trustees have declined to discuss the College Board's problems. In a statement to Reuters, a spokeswoman cautioned that "outside experts" who comment on the College Board "have no knowledge of the Board of Trustees' deliberations."
A lack of disclosure by the board is precisely the issue, say some specialists in non-profit governance. Oversight of the College Board and its CEO, David Coleman, has been opaque, they say, as members of the Board of Trustees have proved unwilling to discuss how the organization is handling its problems.
"At some point, the board has to step in and take control of management and demand that these things be fixed with a deadline," said Eugene Fram, a non-profit governance specialist and emeritus professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. "In my opinion, the board has not operated with due care."
Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy, a non-profit that seeks to diminish the importance of standardized testing in the college admissions process, questioned whether the trustees are vigilant enough in overseeing the College Board, which had about $77 million in annual profit and $916 million in revenue in 2015.
"What is the mechanism that holds them accountable? I'm scratching my head," he said. "There doesn't seem to be a countervailing voice here at all."
The College Board draws most of its 30 trustees from the ranks of its core members, mainly colleges and high schools. Most board members are college administrators or school district superintendents appointed to four-year terms.
The chair, Douglas L. Christiansen, is dean of admissions and financial aid at Vanderbilt University. He has served on the board since 2011. Other trustees include the directors of financial aid at Stanford University and Yale University and school district superintendents in California, Illinois, Indiana and New York.
Trustees meet four times a year and receive no compensation. They are entitled to attend an annual trip to China, sponsored by the Hanban, an arm of the Chinese Ministry of Education.
"The College Board trustees are treated incredibly well," said Adam Ingersoll, founder of Compass Education Group, a California-based test-prep company. "They are made to feel that when they become trustees, they are doing the Lord's work."
But in Ingersoll's opinion, the College Board was "a mess. This is my 23rd year in this business, and I have never seen anything like this."
In a statement sent through a College Board spokesperson, Christiansen said the trustees are "proud of the advances the College Board has made to deliver opportunities to students, and we'll continue to build on those successes." He said the trustees have established ways to "continually track progress and hold the College Board accountable for the ambitious goals we have set."
The College Board is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, which declined to comment on the organization's troubles. Oversight "of an education corporation is the general responsibility of the education corporation's board of trustees/directors," Board of Regents spokeswoman Jeanne Beattie said in an e-mailed statement.
Reuters attempted to talk with more than 50 current and former trustees to ask about their fiduciary role and whether they were aware of the extent of the College Board's security issues. Those reached by Reuters declined to comment on the College Board's problems; most referred any questions to Sandra Riley, the organization's vice president of communications.
Reuters obtained a "briefing book" for trustees who attended the College Board's annual forum for members in October. It included a series of "talking points" about what trustees could say about test security, but "only if you're asked."
"Much of the reporting and internet message board activity related to cheating is focused on the old SAT," the document stated. "We've increased test-form development to reduce form reuse, strengthened our prevention and detection techniques, and bolstered efforts to monitor and remove test content illegally posted online. We can, and will, do more."
Through a public records request, Reuters also obtained an e-mail that Dorothy Sexton, a College Board vice president, sent to 15 former trustees in October 2015:
We understand that a reporter . . . from Reuters is contacting former Trustees to ask questions about the SAT. If you hear from her, could you please let Sandra Riley know? We ask that you decline the interview.
On Jan. 21, about two weeks after the organization's trustees had returned home from the Florida retreat, the College Board suffered a security breach. It reused parts of an SAT exam in Asia that had been administered last June in the United States.
Test-prep industry sources told Reuters the exam was widely available in China and had been sold to students in South Korea. The news agency obtained more than 200 pages of scans and photographs of the leaked exam, which had been circulating in Asia.
In a statement to Reuters, Riley said the College Board is investigating the matter and that the organization "will be coming forward with new policies in the coming months" related to test security.
That could be welcome news to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest. The non-profit, which advocates limiting the use of standardized tests, has been calling for the College Board to stop its practice of reusing exams.
Bob Schaeffer, FairTest's public education director, said recycling tests can give "a huge leg up" to students who see questions in advance.
"We continue to receive copies of SATs that were not officially disclosed," Schaeffer said. "If FairTest has them, so do many other individuals."
To date, Schaeffer said, the College Board has "failed to take actions that will significantly reduce the incidence of cheating, despite clear evidence of the scope of this scandal and advice on how to address it."
Additional reporting by Steve Stecklow in London and Alexandra Harney in Shanghai.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink
February 16, 2017
The [Thursday] Papers
For completists, there was no Wednesday column.
"The fascinating thing about living in Edgewater is you get to see the whole range of weather here as nowhere else," he says.
"In Chicago, nearly 20,000 people live within a 1-mile radius of S.H. Bell's South Avenue O Terminal, which, according to the company's website, is its second largest warehousing facility. Nearly two-thirds of those people are living below the poverty level, and almost 90 percent are minorities, according to the EPA. Of those living within 1 mile of the facility, more than 6,000 are children."
3. Day Without Immigrants - Chicago.
"QuesTek's buyer was described only as an unnamed Silicon Valley company, but multiple sources close to QuesTek say the purchaser was indeed Apple, who used the company's alloys in its Apple Watch and Apple iPhone."
The view from Franchise Times.
Irony: We're the endangered species.
Rich Miller: "I was astonished at the amount of derisive laughter during the address."
"[P]rofessional soccer players might risk the same long-term cognitive problems suffered by boxers and some American football players."
9. TODAY'S MUST-READ: Americans Have Insufficient Antipathy Toward The Extraordinarily Rich.
10. Commodifying dead children.
CTA Riders Confused, Concerned As Homeland Security Checks Bags At Addison Red Line.
New Owners Of The Two-Way Can Fuck All The Way Off.
Colorado Newspaper Threatens To Sue State Legislator For Defamation.
Hooters Opens First 'Hoots" In Cicero.
Pipelines Across Chippewa Lands In Wisconsin.
American Greed Announces Airdate Of Episode About River North Dentist.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Dang, nabbit.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink
February 15, 2017
Brain Damage In Former Players Fuels Soccer 'Heading' Fears
LONDON - Scientists have found signs of brain damage that could cause dementia in a handful of former soccer players, fueling worries about the danger of frequent knocks from heading the ball or colliding with others on the field.
The small study was the first of its kind, involving post-mortems on six men who died with dementia after long careers playing soccer. All were skilled headers of the ball.
It suggests that some professional soccer players might risk the same long-term cognitive problems suffered by boxers and some American football players.
But experts said more research was needed to prove any definitive link between heading a football and developing dementia, and they added that the risk was likely to be minimal for occasional players.
"We've demonstrated that the same type of pathology that occurs in ex-boxers can also occur in some ex-footballers who have dementia, but I'd emphasize this is a very small number of players," said co-lead researcher Huw Morris of London's UCL Institute of Neurology.
"The average playing career of these players was 26 years, which is thousands of hours of game playing, thousands of hours of practice and thousands of headers . . . I think the risk is extremely low from playing recreational football."
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and scientists said the danger of head injuries had to be weighed against the game's known benefits in improving cardiovascular health, which actually reduces the likelihood of developing dementia.
The study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica on Wednesday, followed 14 retired soccer players with dementia and secured next-of-kin permission for post-mortem examinations for six of them.
The scientists found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a potential cause of dementia, in four of the six brains. All six also had signs of Alzheimer's disease.
CTE is common in ex-boxers and has been linked to progressive memory, behavioral and motor impairment.
Unlike boxing or American football, blows to the head in soccer are generally lower impact and players are less likely to experience concussion. But there may still be cumulative damage from sub-concussive impacts, experts believe.
Britain's Football Association said more work was needed into whether degenerative brain disease was more common in ex-footballers, adding it planned to jointly fund research with the Professional Footballers' Association.
Previously in concussions:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 PM | Permalink
February 14, 2017
Cal City Candidates Called Upon
CALUMET CITY - On Wednesday evening, community residents of Calumet City will host a nonpartisan candidates forum to ask candidates where they stand on local issues.
Given the current political climate around the recent executive orders targeting specific communities as well as the raids this past weekend in which 600 people were arrested by federal immigration agents, many immigrants like Guadalupe Baez are wondering where current and potential elected officials stand on strengthening protections for immigrants in Calumet City.
Calumet City, a south suburb of Chicago, is comprised of 72% African Americans and 14% Latinos.
Lorena Marin, a resident of Calumet City, says, "I want my family to feel safe living and driving in Calumet City. I've had experiences where I've been stopped multiple times for no reason by the Calumet City Police. I want there to be strong protections for the immigrants and no racial profiling of our community."
The issue of police accountability is not new to the community. Since 2008, Calumet City has been sued 28 times over police misconduct, with three lawsuits stemming from fatal police shootings. Five years ago, the police department in Calumet City was under fire for the fatal shooting of a 15-year old autistic boy by police enforcement. Community residents will also ask where the candidates stand on police accountability.
The nonpartisan candidate forum will take place on Wednesday evening at the Gym in Ginger Ridge Apartments, 1954 Memorial Drive in Calumet City at 6 p.m. All 17 candidates for aldermen and the two candidates for City Clerk have been invited.
WHAT: Community residents of Calumet City will host a nonpartisan forum to ask candidates where they stand on pressing local issues.
WHEN: 6 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2017.
WHERE: Gym in Ginger Ridge Apartments, 1954 Memorial Drive, Calumet City.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:21 PM | Permalink
The [Tuesday] Papers
If you can't brief Mike Pence adequately, you don't deserve to have the job. After all, Pence may be president soon.
So Mike Pence doesn't like being lied to. Now he knows how the rest of America feels.
From Politico last October:
"Those who've known Flynn for years wonder how a kid from an Irish-Catholic family of blue-collar Democrats who went on to be a dedicated, much-admired soldier ended up being a top national security adviser to a man widely viewed as a demagogue, friendly to Russia and widely seen as ignorant of foreign policy. They worry that in his political naivete and innate loyalty Flynn is being used - and will be branded as a radical himself. And some of them are concerned that Flynn, who believes he was pressed into early retirement for appearing to question the Obama administration's public narrative that Al Qaeda was close to defeat, is being handed a national stage to play out his personal frustrations."
Worse than even I expected.
Some highlights from the plethora of tweets on the matter from NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern:
The Week In Chicago Rock
Cal City Candidates Called Upon
How White House Advisor Stephen Miller Went From Pestering Hispanic Students To Designing Trump's Immigration Policy.
This guy got to Flynnghazi before I could, and went much further with it than I was intending to. Bravo.
Neither does the way CPS distributes its resources in the same, unequal fashion.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Mar-a-Cago.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:38 AM | Permalink
February 13, 2017
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. Priests at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.
2. Pylon Reenactment Society at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.
3. Noname at the Metro on Thursday night.
4. Ravyn Lenae at the Metro on Thursday night.
5. Rebecca F. & the Memes at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.
6. Coeur de pirate at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.
7. Whethans at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.
8. Marduk at Reggies on Friday night.
9. Cloud Nothings at Thalia Hall on Friday night.
10. The Nth Power at Martyrs' on Thursday night.
11. Monk 9 at the Arcada in St. Charles on Friday night.
12. Holly Bowling at City Winery on Thursday night.
Catching up with . . .
October Bird of Death at the Burlington on February 8th.
Jungle of Cities at Wire in Berwy on February 2nd.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 PM | Permalink
The [Monday] Papers
"Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton says he's no fan of 'circus' town hall meetings and prefers a more controlled setting for town-hall-style meetings by telephone, which he will conduct on Monday night," the Tribune reports.
So town hall by conference call?
"Roskam said he's held only one town hall public forum during his decade in Congress representing the west and northwest suburbs and 'didn't find it particularly productive.' Instead, he said he favors conducting telephone town halls and held 11 of them last year."
Hey Pete, if you can't stand the town hall heat, get out of the congressional kitchen.
Starting over? Not so sure about that:
What Hitler Couldn't Do
Yeah, Bruce Springsteen put out "Youngstown" more than 20 years ago. It was on a little album called The Ghost of Tom Joad, which had as its primary subject matter immigrants coming into America through the Mexican border. Is nobody paying attention?
The Ghost of Tom Joad.
"The America of the immigrant's dream is a place so big that nativism seems unimaginable. America is a dream itself, beckoning and binding unlikely brothers like 'the blacks, the Irish, Italians, Germans and the Jews' by their faith in its promise. Springsteen reminds us of reality: 'they died to get here a hundred years ago, they're dying now, the hands that build this country we're always trying to keep out.'"
And: A Story Behind "Youngstown."
But you know who was hurt more by the collapse of manufacturing than working- and middle-class whites? Urban blacks.
Meanwhile . . .
SportsMonday: Now It's Northwestern's Turn
Millennials Don't Play The Lottery. Best Generation Yet.
The Colonel In Chicago.
The Better Business Bureau Is A Joke.
Cape Cod's Chip Charade.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: No peace, no rest.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink
SportsMonday: Now It's Northwestern's Turn
That probably did it.
Northwestern's 66-59 victory at Wisconsin on Sunday night means they will almost certainly go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
The Wildcats are 19-6 overall and 8-4 in the B1G (I prefer this designation to the one that requires the writer to call a 14-team league the Big Ten). They have six more regular season games and at least one conference tournament game to score that magical 20th victory and make sure they at least finish at .500 in the conference (minimum nine wins). One more win during those last six regular-season games makes an invitation a probability. Two just about guarantees it.
And if it wasn't already official, it is now - we have entered some sort of sports history warp in which the most unlikely sporting outcomes happen season after season. And this is also happening in a ridiculous, almost year-long stretch in which all major college and professional championship finals have been amazingly competitive and dramatic (the hockey final wasn't that dramatic - Penguins in six - but I don't think of hockey as major).
So yeah, this past year has been a slightly good time to be a sports fan.
Northwestern making it to the NCAA tournament will potentially cap off a run that saw Leicester City win its first Premier League soccer title last spring after more than 130 years of existence. And then some local baseball team ended a paltry 108-year drought. Oh, and in between, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought home their city's first title in any major sport in over 50 years.
To tell the truth, in order to truly add an equivocal chapter to this run, Northwestern would have to not only qualify for the tournament, it would have to win it. So go get 'em Wildcats!
The fact that Northwestern hasn't made it to the NCAA men's basketball Division I tournament (it was officially established in 1948-49) is mind-bogglingly bad. In the past 20 years, Gary Barnett, Randy Walker and Pat Fitzgerald have established and kept going a Wildcat football program that has at least been respectable year after year.
Successful football programs are much, much more difficult to establish than successful basketball programs. When DePaul charged into national prominence in 1979, making the Final Four for the first time in Ray Meyer's 37 years at the helm, the Blue D-men (they were originally called the D-men due to the varsity letters the university gives out and D-men is much cooler than Demons), it essentially did so on the back of one great recruit.
Yes that team also had plenty of skill and veteran leadership, but the main thing it had was superstar freshman Mark Aguirre. He averaged 24 points a game in his first year playing at good old Alumni Hall in Lincoln Park.
The bottom line is, Northwestern has never been able to recruit even one true star like Aguirre. As Duke has found a way to bring in star after star after star the last three decades despite similar academic restrictions on admissions, Northwestern has put together a remarkable run of failure. There are a variety of reasons why, but in the past 40 years or so the biggest problem has been the acceptance of mediocrity.
Actually, mediocrity would have been an improvement. Northwestern accepted not being an embarrassment. Bill Foster was given eight years at the helm despite coming up short year after year, and Bill Carmody had the head coaching job for 13 years (!) while doing the same. Fortunately the university finally got it right when it put Chris Collins in charge in 2013.
Collins has delivered in his fourth season despite his team suffering several big-time injuries the past few years. In fact, when leading scorer Scott Lindsey was diagnosed with mono a few weeks ago, it started to feel as though this program was - yeah, I'm going to say it - cursed.
All of that went away with last night's win. Lindsey is expected back in the next week and the team is on its way.
And the best part of all this? Northwestern can distract us from the Bulls for at least the next month.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink
And the caravan
A train of camels lopes
Festooned with worn tassels,
Carry supplies, of course:
Each camel is loaded
A harsh last word
The abject failure
An admired peer,
A stray remark
Not even to mention--
But I never awaken
Of charitable gestures
Praise. These insomnias
On a barren, practically lunar,
The hissing and farting
Of bitchy, burdened
But when I long to forget
Only the dead
I choose to endure
It recurs, until
Burns away this fraught mirage.
An extra apple
* Chicagoetry: The Book
* Ready To Rock: The Music
* Kindled Tindall: The Novel
* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink
February 12, 2017
The Weekend Desk Report
"The Wall Street Journal's editorial features editor has left the paper following tensions over the section drifting in a pro-Donald Trump direction," the Atlantic reports.
"News of the departure of Mark Lasswell, who edited op-eds for the Journal, comes as the paper's internal tensions over Trump have begun to spill into public view. The reliably hawkish, pro-trade, small government conservative Journal op-ed page has been challenged by the rise of the populist, nationalist Trump movement. The Journal's opinion pages have been a showcase for the intra-right divide over Trump, featuring Trump-sympathetic writers like Bill McGurn alongside anti-Trump columnists such as Bret Stephens. Lasswell appears to be a casualty of that divide, and his dismissal a victory for the pro-Trump faction on the editorial staff."
Okay, but to me the biggest outrage in this piece isn't about the Journal's editorial decisions or Trump at all. It's this:
We don't talk about internal personnel or editorial deliberations, but suffice to say your information is false in multiple respects," [editorial page director Paul] Gigot said in a statement. "We appreciate Mark Lasswell's contributions to the Journal and wish him well. The Journal editorial page's coverage of Donald Trump speaks for itself, including numerous op-eds from outside contributors and staff editorials pro and con throughout the campaign and now as President. That coverage will continue." A Wall Street Journal spokesperson declined to identify any false information.
1. Gigot refuses to answer a reporter's questions and issues a statement instead.
2. Gigot accuses the Atlantic of false reporting without naming any falsehoods. Not only is this a tired gambit of the guilty, it's professionally reckless. A journalist's responsibility is to the truth, whether in the output of one's own organization our that of another. You do not let falsehoods stand. It should pain you to the marrow to do so!
3. Gigot states that the paper's editorial coverage "speaks for itself." No it doesn't. It only begs for scrutiny - the same kind of scrutiny a paper would give to a mayor, governor or president whose actions alone do not speak for themselves. If they did, there would be no need for newspapers - or editorial pages.
Unfortunately, as I and many other media critics have noted innumerable times, no industry is as hypocritical and uncooperative as the media. It truly saddens me.
"Free crumbled from the weight of expectation, unable to follow up with another hit, but Rodgers and Kirke formed a new band with Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bass player Boz Burrell. This supergroup of sorts was Bad Company."
Okay, now here's why I'm telling you this:
As a solo artist, Simon handles the songwriting and also takes on lead vocals as well as various non-percussion instruments, including guitar, and in the case of a new version of "Feel Like Makin' Love," ukulele. His backing band on his 2017 album, All Because Of You, is the Chicago group The Empty Pockets."
And here it is:
But here is the all-time greatest version:
From Paper To Pulp
Logs to Newsprint | Chicago Tribune | News 1930s - How it Works.
Beachwood Sports Radio: Jimmy Football
I fell behind on our Week/Weekend In Chicago Rock feature, so I'm gonna catch you up right now. It's been relatively slim pickings lately anyway.
The Week In Chicago Rock (Jan. 27)
The Weekend In Chicago Rock (Jan. 30)
The Week In Chicago Rock (Feb. 3)
The Weekend In Chicago Rock (Feb. 6)
The Week In Chicago Rock (Feb. 10)
The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "With Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is in the air. And what's more romantic than that cute moment of love at first sight? Jim and Greg share some of their favorite tracks about first impressions. Plus, they review the new album from DC punk band Priests and pay tribute to the influential composer David Axelrod."
Gurnee's Key Lime Cove To Reopen As Great Wolf Lodge.
The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Surging.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink
February 10, 2017
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #140: Jimmy Football
Get Garoppolo. Plus: Super Bowl Scenery Chewing; #BearsBoycott; ACL U; As The Bulls Turn, Turn, Turn; The Toewster Is Back; Brain Disease Strikes Mike Adamle; and Baseball's Worst Idea Since Using The All-Star Game To Determine Home Field For The World Series.
1:02: Super Bowl Scenery Chewing.
* FiveThirtyEight: About Those Falcons Play Calls . . .
* "Don't get bored." (Rhodes: I think I heard this on The Score; couldn't find on Google.)
17:05: Jimmy Football.
* Again: It's too bad the Bears have such a high draft pick because apparently it's too high to use on a quarterback! If only the Bears had the 15th pick!
* Morrissey: Franchise Has No Shortage Of Gall.
* Rhodes: The McCaskeys are selfish, greedy and incompetent.
* So they went two whole (lousy) seasons without a ticket hike. It should be noted!
30:41: ACL U.
37:00: As The Bulls Turn, Turn, Turn.
* Is Michael Reinsdorf the new Godfather?
* Sources to K.C. Johnson: Paxson & Forman Jobs Safe.
* Busts & drama queens.
* Dwyane Wade: Guys aren't working hard enough at the practices I'm skipping.
* Fred Ventura.
49:40: The Toewster Is Back.
* (Rhodes: My new nickname for his is Jonathan Toaster.)
52:55: Mike Adamle: Brain Disease 'Shook My World.'
* Epilepsy and dementia.
For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 PM | Permalink
The Week In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. White Lies at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.
2. LÉON at Schubas on Thursday night.
3. Pepper at the Concord on Wednesday night.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:36 PM | Permalink
The [Friday] Papers
1. Auto Erotica.
"The 2017 Chicago Auto Show was flush with new trucks, off-road vehicles, SUVs, and crazy van concepts," Autoblog reports. "There was even a muscle car and a cute hatchback to broaden the scope of things among the new product reveals. Our complete coverage."
2. And . . . Scene.
"Nine years ago, legislators agreed to give lucrative tax breaks for movies, TV shows and commercials made in Illinois," the Sun-Times reports.
"And to help ensure whether minorities and women get a piece of the booming action that so far has led to tax breaks totaling more than $330 million, they said the state agency that handles those tax breaks 'must' give them yearly reports on their hiring.
"But the agency that runs the Illinois Film Office routinely has violated that part of the law, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found."
3. World Class.
"A Kenyan girl was denied entry into the United States a day after courts barred President Donald Trump from deporting immigrants," the Star of Kenya reports.
"Ednah Chepkoton, 25, was held at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for many hours after getting off a United Airlines flight on February 4.
"She had been given a five-year multiple entry visa by the U.S. embassy in Nairobi on January 20.
"Ednah, a Kabianga university nursing graduate, narrated her harrowing experience to the Star from the airport, after an immigration officer singled her out of thousands of passengers who were on transit."
4. What Letters?
"Mayor Fred Kondritz never saw it coming," the Southern Illinoisan reports.
"As he was walking with his wife in front of the Fred's Super Dollar in Benton about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, he saw Albert Smith, a man Kondritz said he's known most of his life.
"As a matter of small town conversation I said, 'Hey, you going to the ball game tonight,'" Kondritz said. After Smith pushed his cart to the front of the store, Kondritz said Smith responded, "I've been to more games than you have."
"Kondritz was taken aback.
"He was walking over to me and I mean just hauled off and punched me in the face," Kondritz said.
"The Benton Evening News reported Thursday that the incident stems from letters to the editor printed in The Southern and the Evening News."
"Smith has been a regular critic of Kondritz and has written repeated letters to the editor of the Benton Evening News concerning the mayor.
One appeared in Wednesday morning's paper questioning the mayor's recent published account of crowd behavior at a recent high school basketball game. In a Jan. 25 letter, Kondritz praised the crowded gym as an example of 'small-town America,' contrasting the people in attendance with unruly rioters in cities across the country. Smith wrote Wednesday that the mayor ignored fans stealing signs from each other and an adult having to be removed from the floor. Smith inferred Benton lacks 'good leaders.'
A clearly angered Kondritz visited the Evening News office just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, several hours before the incident with Smith, questioning why the paper had printed Smith's 'fabrication.' Kondritz did not respond to repeated inquiries regarding what information was inaccurate before abruptly leaving."
5. Baby Bucks.
"British household products company Reckitt Benckiser is acquiring Glenview-based baby formula maker Mead Johnson for $16.6 billion in a move that will help the company grow in China," AP reports.
"Reckitt Benckiser . . . makes products ranging from condoms to Lysol."
So a perfect fit.
6. Lincoln Logs.
"A once in a lifetime opportunity sat inside Pinnacle Bank Arena Friday morning," the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal Star reports.
"That's why 31-year-old Matt Mau of Waco took half a day off work and drove to Lincoln to sit outside in 35-degree weather.
"The Chicago Cubs Trophy Tour made a stop in the city, allowing about 500 people to take photos with the 2016 World Series trophy."
7. Damage Control.
"After William Hope Jr. was killed during an altercation with two Chicago police officers in 2010, a jury sent the police department a stern message, awarding the man's family $4.5 million," the Tribune reports.
"That was for compensatory damages, paid for by city taxpayers. But the jury went a step further and ordered the two officers, Armando Ugarte and Michael St. Clair II, to each personally pay $10,000 in punitive damages to Hope's estate.
"It was a rare penalty that juries in civil lawsuits often reserve for particularly egregious cases of police misconduct.
"But the officers never had to pay. Instead, their lawyers, who also work for the city, and the plaintiff's attorneys negotiated away the damages.
"In case after case, a Tribune analysis of court records found, the state law that requires officers to pay punitive damages in civil lawsuits is routinely undercut by negotiations absolving them of the penalties."
8. Trump's Thug.
"Torrence Cooks was stunned last week when he saw a Cleveland-area pastor tell President Donald Trump on live TV that 'top gang thugs' in Chicago wanted to work with the new administration to quell the city's relentless gun violence," the Tribune reports.
"A self-styled anti-violence activist, Cooks could hardly believe that he was the supposed 'thug' the pastor was referring to or that his simple idea of organizing a field trip to Washington, D.C., had now mushroomed into something much, much bigger."
Top thugs are working on it. Top. Thugs.
9. Easy, D.
"Microsoft Corp.'s decision to move its regional headquarters to downtown Detroit from the suburbs has talking heads all atwitter. Why stop there?" Detroit Free Press columnist Daniel Howes writes.
"For the first time in who knows when, southeast Michigan and the reinventing city at its core can legitimately compete to become the regional headquarters of choice for the Midwest. That's an honor for way too long owned by Chicago.
"Yes, the mind reels: Detroit, not Chicago. Woodward Avenue, not the Magnificent Mile. The Lions and Pistons, not the Bears and the Bulls. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, one of the best in North America with direct flights around the globe, not the reliably choked Chicago O'Hare."
Yes, the mind reels. Easy, cowboy.
10. Hence, Pence.
"The new governor of Indiana on Thursday pardoned a wrongfully convicted Chicago-area man who spent nearly a decade in prison for an armed robbery and shooting, marking what experts say is the first time in that state's history a gubernatorial pardon was granted based on actual innocence," the Tribune reports.
"Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he had thought about Keith Cooper and the campaign promise he made to pardon him every day since he took the oath of office about one month ago. Cooper's request had remained in limbo for nearly three years, and now-Vice President Mike Pence left the Indiana governor's office without acting."
New on the Beachwood . . .
Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln's Cozy Corner
Chicago's Pioneering - And Forgotten - Black Scholar
The Week In Chicago Rock
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #140
Syrian Refugees Arrive In Chicago At Last.
Positional Case Study: Chicago Cubs Catchers.
Man Who Posed As Psychiatrist At Chicago Clinic Gets 13 Years In The Clink.
Woman Arrested For Stealing Painting From Logan Square Gallery.
Domino's Pizza Launches Wedding Registry.
The City of Chicago should do this; "Look, someone bought us a zoning variance!"
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Honorable discharge.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink
Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln's Cozy Corner
History and eggs.
Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink
Chicago's Pioneering - And Forgotten - Black Scholar
When black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week in 1926 (expanded to Black History Month in 1976), the prevailing sentiment was that black people had no history. They were little more than the hewers of wood and the drawers of water who, in their insistence upon even basic political rights, comprised an alarming "Negro problem."
To combat such ignorance and prejudice, Woodson worked relentlessly to compile the rich history of black people. He especially liked to emphasize the role of exceptional African Americans who made major contributions to American life. At the time, that was a radical idea.
W. Allison Davis (1902-1983) came of age in the generation after Woodson, but he was precisely the type of exceptional black person whom Woodson liked to uphold as evidence of black intelligence, civility and achievement.
Davis was an accomplished anthropologist and a trailblazer who was the first African American appointed full-time to the faculty of a predominantly white university - the University of Chicago in 1942. But Davis has faded from popular memory. In my forthcoming book The Lost Black Scholar: Resurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought, 1902-1983, I make the case that he belongs within the pantheon of illustrious African American - and simply, American - pioneers.
Allison and Elizabeth Davis in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1939/Courtesy of the Davis family.
Allison Davis and his wife Elizabeth Stubbs Davis were among the first black anthropologists in the country. Bringing their experiences on the wrong side of the color line to mainstream social science, they made landmark contributions to their field, including Deep South (1941) and Children of Bondage (1940).
Those books sold tens of thousands of copies in the middle decades of the 20th century; they advanced social theory by explaining how race and class functioned as interlocking systems of oppression; and they broke methodological ground in combining ethnography with psychological assessments rarely applied in those days.
Allison Davis's extensive body of research also had a real impact on social policy. It influenced the proceedings in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), undergirded the success of the federal Head Start program, and prompted school districts across the country to revise or reject intelligence tests, which Davis had proven to be culturally biased.
His Social-Class Influences Upon Learning (1948) made the most compelling case of that era that intelligence tests discriminated against lower-class people.
Despite the very real advances that Davis helped to inspire within American education in the 20th century, today those same accomplishments are at risk. American schools remain as racially segregated as ever due to poverty and discriminatory public policies. The investment in public education, especially compensatory programs such as Head Start, looks to further diminish amid the growing support for privatization, embodied in the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. If we are to understand the nature of these issues today, we must understand their history, which Davis's career helps to illuminate.
Davis's scholarly contributions are unquestionable when considered now, many decades later. But as the problems above suggest, it is no longer enough to simply celebrate exceptional African-American pioneers like Davis, or just give lip service to their ideas. The next step is confronting the circumstances that constrained their lives. This means viewing their experiences in relation to the structural racism that has shaped American life since colonial times.
Bending (Not Breaking) Academic Color Line
Consider Davis's landmark appointment to the University of Chicago. Fitting the story into a master narrative of racial progress obscures more than it reveals. While the appointment did represent the crossing of a racial boundary and heralded the many more barriers that would be challenged in the ensuing decades, a closer look at the story gives little reason to celebrate.
Like all black scholars of his time, Davis had to be twice as good to get half as much as his fellow white male scholars (and the situation was far worse for black women scholars like Elizabeth Stubbs Davis). Only through compiling a truly remarkable record of achievement, and only amid the national fervor to make the U.S. the "arsenal of democracy" during World War II, would Chicago even consider appointing Davis. And even then, he only received a three-year contract on the condition that the Julius Rosenwald Foundation agree to subsidize most of his salary.
Even with the subsidy, certain university faculty members, such as Georgia-born sociologist William Fielding Ogburn, actively opposed the appointment on racist grounds. So, too, did some trustees at the JRF, including the wealthy New Orleans philanthropist Edgar B. Stern, who attempted to sabotage the grant.
Discounting Davis's accomplishments and implying instead a sort of reverse racism, Stern asserted that "the purpose of this move is to have Davis join the Chicago Faculty, not in spite of the fact that he is a Negro but because he is a Negro."
Similarly myopic charges have been a staple of criticism against affirmative actions programs ever since.
Allison Davis, circa 1965/Courtesy of the Davis family
The opposition ultimately failed to torpedo Davis's appointment, but it did underscore the type of environment he would face at Chicago. As faculty members openly debated if he should even be allowed to instruct the university's mainly white students, the administration barred him from the Quadrangle Club, where faculty regularly gathered and ate lunch. In a private letter to him, the university made clear that it "cannot assume responsibility for Mr. Davis' personal happiness and his social treatment."
As time wore on, such overt racism did begin to ebb, or at least confine itself to more private quarters. What never did subside, though, was an equally pernicious institutional racism that marginalized Davis' accomplishments and rendered him professionally invisible.
As Davis collaborated with renowned white scholars at Chicago, his contributions were submerged under theirs - even when he was the first author and chief theorist of the work. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, writing for Commentary magazine in 1968, failed to count Davis among his list of black scholars who studied black poverty (even though Davis was among the most prolific black scholars in that area), he registered the depth of Davis's marginalization.
Such marginalization, which stemmed also from Davis's interdisciplinary approach and iconoclasm, has caused even historians to lose track of him and his important career.
Even the most exceptional African Americans have never been able to transcend the racial system that ensnares them. Davis's appointment did not usher in a new era of integration of faculties at predominantly white universities. It took another three decades for substantial numbers of black scholars to begin receiving offers of full-time, tenure-track employment.
And because of the vastly disproportionate rates of poverty, incarceration and municipal neglect plaguing the black community, jobs in higher education often continued - and still continue - to be out of reach.
Ensnared By The Racism He Studied
Few people better understood, or more thoughtfully analyzed, these very realities than did Allison Davis. This was a man who laid bare the systems of race and class that govern American life. He understood that education needed to be a bulwark for democracy, not merely a ladder for individual social mobility. He embodied how to confront injustice with sustained, productive resistance. Moreover, this was a man who refused to surrender to despair, and who chose to dedicate his life to making the country a better, more equal, more democratic place.
So as we pause to celebrate Black History Month, let us look seriously at the lives of forgotten pioneers such as Allison Davis. We should take joy in and marvel at their individual accomplishments, but never lose sight of the structural racism that delimited their lives, and that continues to plague American society today.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 AM | Permalink
February 8, 2017
When the Government Really Did Fear A Bowling Green Massacre
The year was 2012. The place was Bowling Green, Ohio. A federal raid had uncovered what authorities feared were the makings of a massacre. There were 18 firearms, among them two AR201315 assault rifles, an AR201310 assault rifle and a Remington Model 700 sniper rifle. There was body armor, too, and the authorities counted some 40,000 rounds of ammunition. An extremist had been arrested, and prosecutors suspected that he had been aiming to carry out a wide assortment of killings.
"This defendant, quite simply, was a well-funded, well-armed and focused one-man army of racial and religious hate," prosecutors said in a court filing.
The man arrested and charged was Richard Schmidt, a middle-aged owner of a sports memorabilia business at a mall in town. Prosecutors would later call him a white supremacist. His planned targets, federal authorities said, had been African-Americans and Jews. They'd found a list with the names and addresses of those to be assassinated, including the leaders of NAACP chapters in Michigan and Ohio.
But Schmidt wound up being sentenced to less than six years in prison, after a federal judge said prosecutors had failed to adequately establish that he was a political terrorist, and he is scheduled for release in February 2018.
The foiling of what the government worried was a credible plan for mass murder gained little national attention. For some concerned about America's vulnerability to terrorism, the very real, mostly forgotten case of Richard Schmidt in Bowling Green, Ohio, deserves an important place in any debate about what is real and what is fake, what gets reported on by the news media and what doesn't.
Those deeply worried about domestic far-right terrorism believe that United States authorities, across many administrations, have regularly underplayed the threat, and that the media has repeatedly underreported it. Perhaps we have become trapped in one view of what constitutes the terrorist threat, and as the case of Schmidt shows, that's a problem.
The notion of a "Bowling Green massacre," of course, has been in the news recently. Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, referred to it in justifying the president's travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Conway had Bowling Green, Kentucky, in mind, but she eventually conceded there had been no massacre there. She meant, she said, to refer to the 2011 case of two Iraqi refugees who had moved to Kentucky and been convicted of trying to aid attacks on American military personnel in Iraq. One was sentenced to 40 years, the other to life in prison.
Her gaffe, accidental or intentional, prompted a mock vigil in New York and a flood of internet memes. The imaginary massacre now even has its own Wikipedia page.
On Monday, Trump made the provocative, unsubstantiated claim that the American media intentionally failed to cover acts of terrorism around the globe.
"It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported," he said in a speech to military commanders. "And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."
At the Southern Poverty Law Center, Ryan Lenz tracks racist and extreme-right terrorists. So far, he said, he's seen little from the Trump administration to suggest it will make a priority of combating political violence carried out by American racist groups.
"It doesn't seem at all like they are interested in pursuing extremists inspired by radical right ideologies," said Lenz, who edits the organization's HateWatch publication.
Indeed, Reuters reported last week that the Department of Homeland Security is planning to retool its Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Islamic radicals.
Government sources told the news agency the program would be rebranded as "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," and "would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States."
It wouldn't be the first time the Department of Homeland Security chose to look away. In 2009, Daryl Johnson, then an analyst with the department, drafted a study of right-wing radicals in the United States. Johnson saw a confluence of factors that might energize the movement and its threat: the historic election of an African-American president; rising rates of immigration; proposed gun control legislation; and a wave of military veterans returning to civilian life at a time of painful economic recession.
The report predicted an uptick in extremist activity, particularly within "the white supremacist and militia movements."
Response to the document was swift and punishing. Conservative news outlets and Republican leaders condemned Johnson's report as a work of "anti-military bigotry" and an attack on conservative opinion. Janet Napolitano, President Barack Obama's head of Homeland Security at the time, retracted the report and closed Johnson's office, the Extremism and Radicalization Branch.
Three years later, Richard Schmidt came to the attention of the federal government almost by accident. Schmidt had been suspected of trading in counterfeit NFL jerseys. Searching his home and store for fake goods, FBI agents discovered something far more sinister: a vast arsenal.
A secret room attached to Schmidt's shop "contained nothing but his rifles, ammunition, body armor, his writings and a cot," wrote prosecutors in a court document.
Beefy, thick-necked, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing about 250 pounds, Schmidt had spent years in the Army as an active-duty soldier and a reservist. His military service ended in 1989 when he got into a fight and shot three people, killing one of them, a man named Anthony Torres. As a result, Schmidt spent 13 years in prison on a manslaughter conviction and was legally barred from owning firearms.
After searching his property, the government came to believe he was involved with the National Alliance, a virulent and long-running extremist group, which was once among the nation's most powerful white supremacist organizations. They also suspected him of an affiliation with the Vinlanders, a neo-Nazi skinhead gang.
Founded by William Pierce, who died in 2002, the National Alliance has long been linked to terrorism. Pierce, who started the group in 1970 and ran it for many years from a compound in West Virginia, wrote The Turner Diaries, an apocalyptic novel that basically lays out a blueprint for unleashing a white supremacist insurgency against the government.
The novel was described by Timothy McVeigh as the inspiration for his bombing in 1995 of a federal office building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
FBI agents came to believe Schmidt had been planning his own string of racially motivated attacks on African-American and Jewish community leaders. The agents spread out across Ohio and Michigan to alert his apparent targets.
"They had a notebook of information from Schmidt's home," recalled Scott Kaufman, the chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. "Some of the items related specifically to our organization and staff - people's names, locations, maps. It was certainly disturbing."
In court, defense lawyer Edward G. Bryan disputed the government's portrayal of Schmidt, who was 47 at the time of his arrest. Bryan painted his client as a slightly eccentric survivalist who didn't intend to "harm anyone, including those listed in written materials found within his property."
The government saw it differently. Schmidt, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed in court, planned to assassinate "members of religious and cultural groups based only on their race, religion and ethnicity." His cache of weapons, added prosecutors, had only one purpose: to start a "race war." Other court documents suggest that he planned to videotape his killing spree and e-mail the video clips to his fellow white supremacists.
After pleading guilty to weapons and counterfeiting charges, Schmidt was sentenced to 71 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary in December 2013.
These days, Kaufman, of the Jewish Federation in Detroit, doesn't think much about Schmidt. He's got plenty of other things to worry about.
"In the last two weeks in our community we've had two bomb scares," as well as an incident involving spray-painted swastikas, he said. He's noted a spike in anti-Semitic incidents over the past year.
"This whole thing is trending in the wrong direction," he said.
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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 PM | Permalink
Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets
Wisconsin growers produced between 5.85 and 5.9 million barrels of cranberries in 2016, according the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. That harvest would come close to a record they set in 2013 with a crop of more than 6 million barrels - about 6 million pounds, as a barrel equals about 100 pounds of fruit.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate in August 2016 forecast production closer to 5.2 million barrels for the year, but growers look to have exceeded this estimate.
In any case, no state challenges Wisconsin's dominance in United States cranberry production - its nearest competitor, Massachusetts, produces less than half as much.
wplynn/CC BY-ND 2.0
Amid this bumper crop, the global cranberry supply is headed for a glut, thanks in part to Canada's growing cranberry industry.
Late in 2016, the "Congressional Cranberry Caucus" asked the USDA to buy surplus cranberries to help growers with the oversupply, seeking a repeat of similar purchases in 2014. More broadly, this growing supply means a mix of opportunities and pressures for growers in Wisconsin.
Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, and Jim Reed, chief executive officer of CranGrow Cranberry Growers Cooperative of Warrens, discussed the outlook for the tart fruit in a Jan.30, 2017 interview on Wisconsin Public Radio's The West Side.
Lochner pointed out that the amount of land cranberry bogs use in Wisconsin really hasn't changed in recent years. Instead, the acreage already growing cranberries is getting more productive. He attributed that to farmers' use of new technologies and an increased interest in genetics and new cranberry varieties.
For example, the association is working with the USDA and private funders to establish a new cranberry research facility.
And even as growers produced a near-record crop, the 2016 growing season also brought warm and wet conditions that caused a lot of fruit to rot, Lochner noted.
Though all farmers constantly face changing and unpredictable conditions, it's especially tough on cranberry growers, because they're basically stuck with a long-term investment in the form of their bogs. Unlike row crops like corn and soybeans, a cranberry bog isn't something a farmer can just dispense with and quickly replace with different crops. Cranberry vines are perennial and long-lived, producing crops over multiple seasons.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/CC BY-ND 2.0
"Once you've set up a cranberry marsh, that's what it is you have," Reed said. "We have marshes that have been in production continuously since the 1880s."
Lochner and Reed discussed the abundant cranberry supply and how a surplus can drive down prices, but other challenges are much more local.
For example, shortly after the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources reintroduced an elk herd in Jackson County in August 2015, cranberry growers started finding these animals in their marshes. Elk can eat quite a few cranberries, and their behavior can damage bogs.
And as with most aspects of Wisconsin agriculture, understanding the export market for cranberries is crucial.
Wisconsin currently exports 35 percent of its cranberries, compared to 5 or 10 percent a decade ago, Lochner said. Much of the growth has come from China, Reed said. He noted that nation consumes more than 9 percent of the world's cranberries today, compared to "next to nothing nine years ago."
Some languages don't even have a word for cranberries, and just might like to hear about them. Reed recalled being on a recent Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation trade mission to India.
"When I was in India, I sat in front of 26 different potential customers, and 20 of those people had never tasted a cranberry, and I'm talking about R&D- and CEO-type people," he said.
Scientists are working to expand the variety of cranberries available for growers and consumers. By harnessing genetics to manipulate various traits - juice yield, sugar content, shape, color - more precisely tailored cranberry varieties can be grown to make the fruit more attractive to different uses people are demanding around the world.
Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets was originally published on WisContext which produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and Cooperative Extension.
Previously in Wisconsin:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:55 AM | Permalink
The [Wednesday] Papers
"Sabrina Jackson looked forward to a raise last summer at her job as a crossing guard near her children's Englewood school," Melissa Sanchez reports for the Chicago Reporter.
Chicago's minimum wage was slated to increase from $10 to $10.50 per hour under a city ordinance, providing a small but welcome boost to Jackson's paycheck.
Oh, but it gets worse:
"Meanwhile, the city department responsible for enforcement has investigated just a quarter of 454 wage complaints, recovered lost pay for only a few dozen people and has yet to fine a single company for violating the ordinance."
"Following repeated questioning by The Chicago Reporter about the department's lax enforcement, city officials now say they will levy fines. Also following the Reporter's inquiries, CPS reversed course and said it would cover the wage increase, as well as back pay, to its crossing guards."
There's a lot more, go read the whole thing.
Related, from Curtis Black in the Reporter:
"While Mayor Rahm Emanuel positions himself as a defender of the rights of immigrants, he's refusing to back protections for low-wage workers at the city's two airports, many of whom are immigrants and refugees.
"And while the city spends billions of dollars - including huge contracts for political insiders - to upgrade its airports, which are depicted as 'economic engines' driving local prosperity, thousands of workers who make that engine run are left in poverty and insecurity.
"[Two weeks ago], leaders of the City Council's Black, Latino, and Progressive caucuses introduced an ordinance that would require contractors for ground services at O'Hare and Midway to pay wages and benefits comparable to those offered by building managers in the region. The ordinance would cover about 8,000 custodians, security officers, plane-cleaning crews, baggage handlers and wheelchair assistants."
P.S.: "As Donald Trump takes office, some union true believers may be tempted to look back with rose-colored glasses on the Obama years. Unfortunately, the real record of his administration shows that Barack Obama was no great friend to labor," Don McIntosh writes for nwLaborPress.
"Obama fought tooth and nail for his NAFTA-style Trans-Pacific trade pact (it failed), but kept his powder dry when it came to raising the federal minimum wage, still at $7.25 after eight years of his presidency."
The whole piece is worth reading.
Rahm likes to take credit for passing (minimal) minimum wage hikes, and the media largely likes to give him credit for passing (minimal) minimum wage hikes, but the truth is that his minimum wage hikes are so minimal - stretched over five years - as to be laughable.
From March 2015:
By the time minimum wage in Chicago reaches $13 an hour, it will probably be a wage cut.
I discussed "The Illusory Raise In Chicago's Minimum Wage" on The Beachwood Radio Hour #34: John Kass Can Breathe. (At the 1:14:47 mark; see the Show Notes for links, references, footnotes and commentary.)
See also the item "Raising Wages Minimally" in this 2014 edition of The [Wednesday] Papers.
And just to make sure we hit all levels of government . . . from me, October 2014:
For example, Rauner is now running an internet ad stating that "Quinn didn't raise the minimum wage. We have a plan to do it."
It's up to you now, Jenny.
Page's latest column: "Is it too early to declare outright that our current American president is a serial liar?"
At least he proved his own point - political journalism is in crisis if you're a Pulitzer Prize-winning nationally syndicated columnist asking this question. It's only too early to someone who didn't follow the campaign - and even then, no, not even close to being too early. Or we could keep debating whether it's appropriate to use the word lie.
My favorite campaign lie is probably this one, though there's so many to choose from (and when you consider pre-campaign Trump, including posing as his own spokesman to plant gossip items in the NY rags, I mean, c'mon!): Trump Camp Knew Pig Blood Story Was False But Told It Anyway.
Related and particularly germane today, from the Washington Post last June:
"In the weeks between last year's terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., Donald Trump and his closest aides began discussing an idea far outside the bounds of normal political debate: banning all foreign Muslims from entering the United States based solely on their religion."
Curiously, Trump's campaign statements don't seem to impress the courts. From Tuesday's appellate court hearing:
(Judge) Clifton: Do you deny that in fact the statements attributed to then-candidate Trump and to his political advisers, and most recently Mr. Giuliani, do you deny that those statements were made?
Clearly those statements were made as a serious policy principle - one of the candidate's two central proposals, along with the wall he intends to make Mexico pay for - and therefore they should be considered; goes to intent, your Honor.
Also, from the Los Angeles Times:
Purcell encountered some skepticism from one member of the panel, Judge Richard R. Clifton, who noted that the seven countries covered by the order make up only a small part of the world's Muslim population. That would suggest that the order wasn't aimed at Muslims, in general, but at residents of countries that have a serious problem with terrorism, Clifton said.
Indeed. Purcell also argued that the law states that courts can find unlawful discrimination in an action even if the action would have been justified for other reasons - such as national security. In other words, if you take a certain action based on discrimination, it's unconstitutional, but in some cases the same action taken for other reasons can be justified.
But I digress; we're all on the fast track. Yes, journalism is in crisis. But journalists also are seemingly finding their footing (just like a newly engaged citizenry). Let's hope the lessons the profession is finally learning and applying to Trump spread to all levels and subjects of coverage, namely, calling out lies for what they are, no longer giving flacks a pass, and showing the receipts.
Countries Recruiting Immigrants Not Welcome Here
And Then The Breitbart Lynch Mob Came For Me.
The Campaign To Make Indecent Animals Wear Clothes.
Dog Flu Outbreak Halts Adoptions At Chicago Shelter.
The Little Caesars At North And Kimball Consistently Undercooks Their Pizza.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Survival tips.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:35 AM | Permalink
February 7, 2017
The [Tuesday] Papers
"United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was surely pleased by a federal judge's decision to stop (at least for now) the travel ban affecting people from seven Muslim-majority countries," Shia Kapos reports for the Sun-Times.
"In a letter to employees last week, Munoz reiterated the Chicago-based airline's commitment to diversity.
"'We are a company representing every creed and conviction, background and belief. It is these differences that strengthen us and unite us as a company and a country,' he wrote."
"Some African-American United Airlines pilots involved in a lengthy lawsuit over allegations of discrimination at the airline are asking Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice to look into their claims," the Tribune reported in September.
"The pilots allege Chicago-based United passed them over for management promotions because of their race and retaliated against them for filing civil rights complaints."
CBS News reported:
The coalition is pointing to a 40-year old case as failing to provide meaningful change. In 1976, United entered a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over diversity. As part of the agreement, United provided more than $1 million in back pay and agreed to hire minorities and women into upper-level jobs including pilot and management roles.
According to a San Francisco union local, "The pilots claim that United has an 'utter lack of diversity at the management level' and has systemically kept black employees from entering the managerial ranks."
On the other hand, "At United Airlines, all customer-facing employees, including its 25,000 flight attendants, undergo recurrent diversity training that includes lessons in cultural awareness," Bloomberg reports.
And, of course, the pilots' allegations aren't necessarily true. I just hate to see a corporate CEO allowed to make moral claims without (appropriate) pushback. In this case, that would mean asking about (and researching) United's track record, and what it's done lately to strengthen diversity. Or you could just hand your recorder to a CEO while finishing your lunch.
As long as we're discussing United's morals . . .
"In a settlement highlighting the need for public companies to implement - and adhere to - effective internal controls, United Airlines recently paid a $2.4 million civil penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to follow its own compliance policies and procedures designed to prevent corrupt payments," three Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft lawyers wrote for Law 360 in January.
"By allowing management to bypass its internal approval process and authorize a money-losing route from Newark, New Jersey, to Columbia, South Carolina, in exchange for benefits from a senior official with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, United failed to enact an adequate system of internal controls and, as a result, prepared inaccurate accounting books and records."
Radogno must be doing something right - whether it's at the behest of the governor or not.
Last June, I wrote: "At one time I thought Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno might have it in her to be the one to break the stalemate - and thus put herself on a path to higher office - but she hasn't even come close. Of course, if any other governor - Republican or Democrat - were in office, Radogno and her House counterpart Jim Durkin would have cut a deal by now. Their urgent loyalty to holding the budget hostage in order to get workers comp and tort 'reform' began only on the day the Rauner and his millions were sworn in."
The Police Union's Fake News
A Gift To Trump?
TVs That Really Were Spying On You
Trump Puts Food, Farm Companies On Edge
How Can We Get More Kids To Report Concussions?
Where Do America's Racist Ideas Come From?
Russia's Golden Arches
Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin
Toby Keith Decried As Too "Political" For Naperville Ribfest.
Stalled Olive-Harvey Project On South Side A "Travesty."
Iran: Trump Shows America's True Face.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Chilling.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink
Uncovering The Roots Of Racist Ideas In America
Donald Trump proclaimed during his inaugural address that "When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice."
Opening our hearts to patriotism will not solve the problem of racist ideas. Some of the nation's proudest patriots have also been the nation's most virulent racists. The organizing principle of the Ku Klux Klan has always been allegiance to the red, white and blue flag.
Lacking patriotism is not the root of racist ideas. But neither is ignorance and hate, as Americans are taught so often during Black History Month.
Contrary to popular conceptions, ignorant and hateful people have not been behind the production and reproduction of racist ideas in America. Instead, racist ideas have usually been produced by some of the most brilliant and cunning minds of each era. And these women and men generally did not produce these ideas because they hated black people.
In my new book, Stamped from the Beginning, I chronicle the entire history of racist ideas, from their origins in 15th-century Europe, through colonial times when early British settlers carried racist ideas to America, all the way to their emergence in the United States and persistence into 21st century.
I distinguish between the influential producers of racist ideas, and the consumers of them. And I study the motives - and historical circumstances - behind the production of racist ideas.
My persisting research question was not merely what racist ideas influential Americans produced, but why they produced those racist ideas at a particular time and how those ideas impacted America.
What caused Thomas Jefferson to decry "Amalgamation with the other color" in 1814 after he had fathered several biracial children with Sally Hemings?
What caused U.S. Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina in 1837 to produce the racist idea of slavery as a "positive good" when he knew slavery's torturous horrors?
What caused President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to affirm that "the greatest existing cause of lynching is the perpetration . . . of the hideous crime of rape" when probably saw the data that showed that rape was not the greatest existing cause?
What caused think tankers and journalists after the presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008 to produce the racist idea of a post-racial society during all that post-election violence against black bodies?
Time and again, racist ideas have not been born and bred in the cradle of ignorant, hateful or unpatriotic minds. Time and again, powerful and brilliant men and women have produced racist ideas in order to justify the racist policies of their era, in order to redirect the blame for their era's racial disparities away from those policies and onto black people.
The common conception that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, and that racist ideas initiate racist policies, is largely ahistorical. It has actually been the inverse relationship - racial discrimination has led to racist ideas which has led to ignorance and hate.
Stamped from the Beginning shows that the principal function of racist ideas in American history has been to suppress resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been led to believe there is something wrong with black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed and confined so many black people.
From the beginning, Americans have been trying to explain the existence and persistence of racial inequities. Racist ideas considering racial inequality to be normal due to black pathology have locked heads with anti-racist ideas that consider racial inequality to be abnormal and the effect of racial discrimination. Anti-racist ideas have called for the justice of equity, while racist ideas have called for the law and order of inequality.
A year after young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by the police, Trump has not said anything about protecting black lives from police violence. He is not issuing any executive orders banning racist cops or armed white supremacists from black communities. He made abundantly clear what lives matter to him on his new White House website.
"The Trump administration will be a law and order administration," reads the page "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community." It adds: "President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it."
In his inaugural, Trump suggested there can be racial unity in his law-and-order America. He quoted the Bible. "'How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.'"
One thing from my research is clear: Racial unity is impossible when racial inequalities are created and maintained by racist policies that are justified by racist ideas. Racist ideas have always been like walls built by powerful Americans to keep us divided, and these walls have always normalized our racial divisions and inequities.
Americans no longer need the law and order of inequality, poverty and black death. Americans no longer need walls of racist ideas. Americans need the ordering justice that honors and protects the women and men in that unfailingly imperiled uniform - the uniform of blackness. Only then, I believe, will God's people have a chance to live together in unity.
Ibram X. Kendi reads from Stamped from the Beginning:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:55 AM | Permalink
Vizio To Pay $2.2 Million To Settle Charges It Secretly Collected Viewing Histories On 11 Million Users
VIZIO, Inc., one of the world's largest manufacturers and sellers of internet-connected "smart" televisions, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer TVs without consumers' knowledge or consent.
The stipulated federal court order requires VIZIO to prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices, and prohibits misrepresentations about the privacy, security or confidentiality of consumer information they collect. It also requires the company to delete data collected before March 1, 2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program.
According to the agencies' complaint, starting in February 2014, VIZIO, Inc. and an affiliated company have manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts and streaming devices.
In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, VIZIO touted its "Smart Interactivity" feature that "enables program offers and suggestions" but failed to inform consumers that the settings also enabled the collection of consumers' viewing data. The complaint alleges that VIZIO's data tracking - which occurred without viewers' informed consent - was unfair and deceptive, in violation of the FTC Act and New Jersey consumer protection laws.
The $2.2 million payment by VIZIO includes a payment of $1.5 million to the FTC and $1 million to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, with $300,000 of that amount suspended.
The Commission vote approving the complaint and proposed order was 3-0, with Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issuing a concurring statement. The FTC filed the complaint and order in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Previously: Own A Vizio Smart TV? It's Watching You.
1. From Kate Weinans:
All of that cash paid out . . . none seems to go to the people from whom they collected info. Grrrrr.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:40 AM | Permalink
Other Countries Are Now Recruiting Skilled Immigrants Not Welcome In America
This article was originally published by The Hechinger Report in March 2016.
MELBOURNE, Australia - He admits it: José Lopez always dreamed of going to America and using his training in information technology to make his fortune.
But even if he hadn't been put off by the rhetoric from across the border about building walls and banning people based on their religion, there were 52 times more applicants for visas to emigrate to the United States from his native Mexico in 2015 than were made available under a complex quota system. And even if a technology company agreed to sponsor him, that route, too, was closed off when the number of workers who applied for those kinds of visas in the first week was three times the annual cap.
Which is why Lopez has come to find himself in a classroom in Melbourne boning up on his English and preparing for a new life in Australia, a country that invites skilled, well-educated immigrants like him with comparatively open arms.
"I wanted to go to Silicon Valley, but I don't feel like I'm welcome in the United States," Lopez said. "Australia has much more of a happy face for immigrants."
Much, much more of a happy face. While the immigration debate in the United States and elsewhere is focused largely on unskilled laborers and humanitarian refugees, and proposals to update U.S. immigration laws remain mired in political dysfunction, Australia and other nations have been waging an aggressive global competition for highly skilled professionals like Lopez, who has been given a visa to work here.
Nearly seven out of 10 immigrants here are accepted based on being able to do jobs in fields such as engineering that the government and employers say there aren't enough domestic workers to fill. In the United States - where technology companies in particular are sounding warnings about a similar skills gap they say is contributing to a near-record 5.6 million job openings - the proportion of immigrants admitted for their skills is less than two in 10. For advanced professional skills, the number is about one in 17, the Department of Homeland Security reports. The rest are relatives of people already here, plus refugees and asylum-seekers.
"We are not keeping pace with what the rest of the world is doing," said Andy Halataei, senior vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Information Technology Industry Council, which advocates for immigration reform to change this. "We don't have a high-skilled immigration system that acts to attract international talent."
That talent includes foreign students who are trained at and graduate from American colleges and universities only to confront a system critics variously describe as "absurd" and "utterly insane" that makes it all but impossible for most to stay. Students who come to Australia, by comparison, are allowed to stick around for from 18 months to four years on temporary visas that, for many, lead to permanent citizenship.
"It's one of the most absurd paradoxes of our system, that it is so easy to come here to the United States and get a world-class education, and then we immediately send you home to compete against us," Halataei said. "No one would ever design a system like that."
Now there's a proposal in Australia to take even further advantage of this by offering visas through a lottery to students trained at U.S. and U.K. universities and colleges but forced by immigration rules to leave.
"Australia can capitalize" on British and American complacency, Australia's Migration Council, which floated the idea, observed.
It already has. Australia's focus on accepting immigrants with skills is expected to add 1.6 trillion Australian dollars, or about $1.2 trillion, to its gross domestic product through 2050, the Migration Council estimates. That's a gain of 5.9 percent per capita over what could have been expected without them. Rather than being a drain on the economy, Australia's immigrants by 2050 will each contribute 10 percent more to it than its non-immigrants.
"That's big biscuits," said Henry Sherrell, a former policy advisor at the Migration Council.
If trade barriers and trade quotas defined global economic competition in the 20th century, said Sherrell, "People are going to be the next thing, and labor. And the countries that do it first are going to be at an advantage."
Australia's is not a perfect system, and even its supporters acknowledge there are shortcomings to its skilled-migration program. There are also big advantages.
So highly educated are these newcomers, for example, they are expected to push up the proportion of the population with college and university degrees by 60 percent by 2050. The United States is trying to boost its proportion of degree-holders, too, but is so far behind that it will fall short by nearly 20 million college-educated workers as soon as 2025, according to the Lumina Foundation, a principal advocate of this effort. (Lumina is among the funders of The Hechinger Report, which produced this story.)
And so young are they, the immigrants provide a "demographic dividend" helping offset the huge number of soon-to-be retirees that threatens Australia's capacity - like the ability of the United States, Japan and some European nations - to keep up with the cost of medical care and other entitlements.
Skilled immigration "has served the interests of the broader community well," an independent advisory body, the Australian Government Productivity Commission, pronounced in November.
In Australia, "We speak about immigration as a national gain, not a cost to society," said Jenni Blencowe, manager of research and policy for Australia's largest provider of services for immigrants, AMES - it originally stood for Adult Migrant English Service - the reception area of whose Melbourne headquarters is hung with photographs of smiling immigrants at work. "It is economically driven, and we're quite up front about saying that."
In a crowded office building in the Sydney central business district, dozens of these immigrants are learning English and how to write resumes and conduct themselves in job interviews and in the workplace - a culture shock for some in proudly casual Australia, said Michael Cox, general manager for English and "foundation skills" at Navitas, a private company that provides these classes under contract to the government. ("Some of them have trouble with things like not having to call the boss 'sir,'" Cox said.)
In a single classroom off a corridor buzzing in a Babel of languages is an electrical engineer from Iraq, an industrial engineer from Peru, and a biology teacher from Macedonia.
Science and language teachers are among the kinds of workers in demand here, and another immigrant who's in the room is Alfredo Bolanos, a Mexican, like Lopez, and a Spanish teacher.
Alfred Bolanos/Fiona Morris
"I never expected I was going to come here, said Bolanos. "Most of the people that come from my hometown have family in the United States."
But they tell stories of hostile receptions - something he said he experienced himself when, arriving in the United States on a field trip with young students, "We all felt like we were being interrogated: 'Why are you coming here?'"
Bolanos said, "We have this whole culture of songs about how [Mexican immigrants] feel in America. I didn't feel welcome to come to the United States. Here we have better conditions. I didn't expect [Australians] to give me a big welcome, but they accept you as one more person who wants to assimilate in the society."
His classmates nodded as Bolanos continued. "Nobody wants to be in a place where people don't want you," he said. "I don't want to be treated special. I just want to be part of the society. Probably [the United States is] losing other people."
Australia, in the meantime, had been gaining them. More than one in four Australians were born overseas, the highest proportion in 120 years, and immigration is by far the biggest contributor to population growth. The top countries of origin are the United Kingdom, neighboring New Zealand, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. That's changing Australia's ethnic composition; since the turn of the millennium, the number of Chinese-born Australians has more than tripled, the government reports, and the number of Indians quadrupled.
It isn't always easy in Australia, either, some of these immigrants say. About 15 percent said in a survey that they had been discriminated against on the basis of their race, religion, or ethnic origin here, where non-Europeans were officially banned as recently as the 1950s. An experiment by British and Australian academics found that, to get a job, a person with a Chinese name had to submit 68 percent more applications than a person with an Anglo-Saxon-sounding one. "Real Australians Say Welcome," billboards like one near the main train station in Melbourne urge, as a way of lowering divisions that persist between native-born and new Australians.
Skilled immigrants don't always necessarily get the jobs for which they were admitted. Some turn out to be overqualified for the positions available to them, leading to stories of electrical engineers driving taxis. Only about half said in a survey that their new jobs matched their experience, and the Australian Government Productivity Commission confirmed that at least 30 percent of highly educated immigrants appear to be overqualified for the jobs they're in, compared to 22 percent of their Australian-born counterparts.
When Sylvia Azer and her husband left high-level jobs in Kuwait to come to Sydney, she said, the Egyptian-born couple found that, "Even if you came with all your skills, you can't get a job as good as the job you left." And while she has found work, said Azer, her husband - an information technology professional - still hasn't gotten a single interview, and stays home to take care of their three children.
Sylvia Azer/Fiona Morris
"He's frustrated," she said. "The lack of local work experience, and being overqualified, actually works against people."
Immigrating to Australia also still involves the reams of paperwork all governments seem to inflict on new arrivals. For Azer and her husband, that took three years. Manzoor Murshed, who moved from Bangladesh, spent two years filling out the forms.
"It's a long process," he said.
But when they saw his work experience - Murshed was a high-level network administrator - "It was more welcoming." And it was easier than emigrating to the United States, he said. "The system in the United States is not very clear," said Murshed, who now has a job in Melbourne he said fits his skills. "Here at least it's clear that first you do this and then you do that."
For much of its modern history Australia has been proactive about recruiting immigrants. It had to be, as far from Europe as it is. In the second half of the 19th century, some Australian regional authorities even paid immigrants' fares to settle in the sparsely populated countryside.
"Australia has always considered immigration in economic terms," said Andrew Markus, an historian at Monash University in Melbourne. "The dominant ethic in Australia is that immigration is good for the country."
More than two-thirds of Australians think immigration makes the country stronger, Markus found last year in an annual survey he conducts for an Australian foundation that supports immigration. In the United States, the figure is about half, according to the Pew Research Center. Only a minority of Australians think there are too many immigrants, compared to a majority in every other country except Canada. In the most comparable survey in the United States, which dates to 2006 and was conducted by a group that advocates for slowing immigration called the Center for Immigration Studies, 68 percent of Americans said immigration levels were too high.
For Australians, "There's recognition that immigration provides an economic advantage," said Peter McDonald, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. "It's quite accepted, certainly by employers, but also broadly by the community."
Of course, an emphasis on immigrants with skills leaves less room for humanitarian refugees and unskilled workers. "You're not going to be taking rural farmers from western China, but you might be taking some of the best and brightest from Shanghai," said Sherrell, who is sympathetic to this criticism. "Is that the perfect thing to do as a global citizen? It may not be good for poor people who would like to come here, but it's good for Australia."
Australia will have given permanent residency to 190,000 immigrants in 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reports, nearly 130,000 of them because they have skills the government or employers say are needed: information technology, for example, engineering, and accounting.
To be accepted as skilled immigrants, applicants must be sponsored by employers, states, or territories, or have other links to Australia or enough of their own money to establish a company or invest in an Australian business. They can also apply individually, without a sponsor, and then look for a job. Points are awarded for each of these things, and there are additional points for being able to do the highest-demand jobs, having Australian work experience, and demonstrating English language skills.
There's also a program for skilled immigrants to live in Australia temporarily, purportedly to help supply the flexibility required to respond to ups and downs in the economy. Called the 457 visa, it's good for up to four years, and some employers use it as a way to try out workers they eventually sponsor to stay for good. More than 70 percent of 457 visa holders in a survey said they planned to apply for permanent citizenship.
Not everyone is happy with this system. The national association of engineers has begun a registration program to verify that engineers who arrive on 457 visas are actually qualified, for instance. After a four-year fight, Australian dentists managed to have their profession taken off the needed-skills list when a rise in the number of graduates from Australian dental schools meant they were battling with immigrants for business. State health departments have been found to pass over newly minted Australian-trained nurses because they can import much more experienced nurses from abroad. And unions contend that immigrants not only take Australians' jobs, but are such an easy source of already-skilled labor that employers are forgoing professional development and training for Australian workers. The unemployment rate here is 5.8 percent, the government reports, slightly higher than it is in the United States.
Foreign students and some temporary immigrants have allegedly been exploited, most notably by 7-Eleven stores that are under government investigation for systematically underpaying them, or not paying them at all for long periods, in a scandal that has spread to other convenience and fast-food franchises. Immigrants on 457 visas, critics say, are also vulnerable to employers who hold the fate of their permanent residency in their hands. More than one in 10 say they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with what they're paid, and about the same proportion say that they're unhappy with their jobs in general.
Almost all of these same charges - that it lets companies bring in cheaper foreign labor to replace Americans and exploits them by controlling whether they can stay in the United States or have to leave - have been levied at the U.S. H-1B visa program, the principal route for skilled immigrants to come to the United States, which is also temporary and generally requires employer sponsorship.
That doesn't mean there's not a massive demand for H-1B visas. There were 233,000 applicants in 2015 in just the first few days for the annual maximum of 85,000 H-1B visas awarded by lottery, 20,000 of which are reserved for master's degree holders; the government stopped accepting any more after the first week.
Some American employers want more H-1B visas. A coalition of technology leaders that includes Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates is among the interests pushing for reforms to make it easier for skilled professionals to come to the United States, just as it is in Australia and other economic rivals such as Canada, where skilled workers make up nearly half of immigrants admitted.
But controversial legislation in Congress to do this is stalled. President Barack Obama in late 2014 by executive action ordered that skilled workers with advanced degrees or "exceptional ability" be made eligible for temporary visas, even if they don't have an employer sponsor, along with inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs who offer "significant public benefit"; those changes are still waiting for final rules to be written by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Critics fear that, while this drags on, the world's supply of skilled people, and the brainpower they represent, will go instead to places like Australia. As evidence they cite the little-noticed fact that the proportion of international students enrolled at U.S. universities and colleges is already slipping. While America still leads the world in the actual number of international students it attracts, the U.S. share of this global education business has dropped since 2001 from nearly 30 percent to less than 20 percent, according to NAFSA: the Association of International Educators. This in a period when the total number of international students worldwide has more than doubled - and, in Australia, nearly tripled. A quarter of the students in Australian universities now are from abroad, compared to 5 percent in the United States.
"Even if a minority of them stay, that's still a lot of people," said Sherrell, the Migration Council policy advisor.
They're drawn by a comparatively simple visa process, are allowed to work part-time, and can stay for up to 18 months after graduating with bachelor's degrees and four years after completing graduate programs - even longer on a 457 visa - a period during which many get jobs or serve in internships that lead to employer sponsorship and permanent residency.
"These programs are among the most friendly to students in the entire world," Sherrell said.
That's what appealed to Yen-Hsuan Huang, whose family runs an import-export company in Taiwan, and who has come to Sydney to get a master's degree in international business from the University of New South Wales.
"Maybe the United States government has other considerations, but we are just individuals," Huang said. "So of course we go to countries that are more welcoming."
Foreign students at U.S. universities aren't allowed to work, and most have to leave after graduating. One of the few ways they can stay? By playing the long odds of winning an H-1B visa.
"It's utterly insane that after they spend four years getting a Ph.D. in the United States, we ship them home because they can't get the proper permission," said Benjamin Powell, an economist, director of the Free Market Institute at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University and author of The Economics of Immigration. "We're depriving ourselves of the skills of people who have been educated here who can contribute to our society."
Other countries, NAFSA said in a report - it's subtitled Adjusting to What Happened in the World While We Were Making Other Plans - "have seized on this weakness to lure people to their knowledge-based economies." Canada runs ads in the United States aimed at skilled workers stuck in immigration limbo, the report said, while Indian and Chinese engineers and scientists take their American educations with them back to their home countries.
"This is producing a phenomenon that is virtually unrecognized in the United States," NAFSA warned: "the outflow of talent from this country back to its countries of origin or to other, more welcoming, countries."
One of the reasons this is allowed to happen, said Vic Johnson, senior advisor for public policy at NAFSA and the author of the report, is that most Americans don't know it does.
"We're not doing as well in this competition as we could, but part of that is because we're not aware we're in it," Johnson said. "We as a country really have not made the decision that some countries have that we want to focus our immigration on the specific issue of attracting skilled immigration. We will get there where we realize that we're no less dependent on the talent in the world than everybody else is."
Until then, however, said Halataei, of the information technology group, people with skills in needed fields including science, technology, engineering, and math - the so-called STEM fields - may go to other places than America.
"Other countries are reaping the short-terms economic gains and the long-term benefits of developing their own STEM economies," he said. "We're going to wake up one day and find that people won't need to come here any more."
This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink
In Russia, McDonald's 'Golden Arches' Have A Russian Shine
MOSCOW - When McDonald's opened its first Russian restaurant in 1990 in Moscow, it was not unusual to see wedding receptions held there, so strong was the appeal of the quintessential American brand at the end of the Cold War.
In recent years, with U.S.-Russia ties increasingly frosty, the fast food chain has pursued a different strategy: go native.
"We say it every time: we are a Russian company," Khamzat Khasbulatov, the head of McDonald's Russia, told Reuters. "I don't think there's a single company that can call itself more Russian than us."
Nearly all the restaurant's suppliers are Russian and its executives are all Russian, Khasbulatov said in an interview. The familiar McDonald's logo outside the restaurants is all in Russia's Cyrillic script.
As for the golden arches, he said: "They are Russian arches. They shine wherever they are."
The company has reason to play down its U.S. associations.
After Washington imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine in 2014, Russia's public health watchdog briefly closed down dozens of McDonald's outlets, including its original Moscow flagship in Pushkin Square, citing hygiene concerns.
Some Russian politicians called for the chain to be shut down completely.
Khasbulatov acknowledged the link with the United States was sensitive.
"We don't want to be drawn in when something's going on," he said.
A wholly-owned unit of the firm headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, McDonald's Russia has 609 restaurants around the country and plans to add at least 50 more in 2017 after expanding last year to the far-flung Urals and Siberia.
McDonald's does not disclose its Russian unit's profit numbers but counted it among high growth markets in its 2015 annual report, with high expansion and franchising potential. Its Pushkin Square branch is one of the busiest in the world.
Khasbulatov said he hopes to increase the share of franchised branches, which currently account for only 15 percent of outlets in Russia compared to the global McDonald's norm of 80 percent.
Khasbulatov declined to comment on what the future holds for McDonald's Russia now that Donald Trump is U.S. president. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken about Trump in warm terms and Trump has said he wants the relationship to improve.
McDonald's has to be pragmatic, said Bob Goldin, a partner at Pentallect, a Chicago-based food industry consulting firm.
"My sense is they have to play a real balancing act," he said in an e-mail.
For customers, politics didn't seem to be that big a deal, however.
"It's irrelevant," Vadim Ashiman, 22, told a Reuters reporter at one branch near the Kremlin in Moscow. "It's food. Food isn't to blame for political differences."
Additional reporting by Peter Hobson.
A Big Mac meal in Moscow:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink
February 6, 2017
Trump Puts U.S. Food, Farm Companies On Edge Over Mexico Trade
CHICAGO - U.S. food producers and shippers are trying to speed up exports to Mexico and line up alternative markets as concerns rise that this lucrative business could be at risk if clashes over trade and immigration between the Trump administration and Mexico City escalate.
Diplomatic relations have soured fast this month, as the new U.S. administration floated a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports and a meeting between the presidents of the two countries was canceled. U.S. President Donald Trump has also pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
Mexico is one of the top three markets for U.S. farm production.
Some U.S. producers of corn, soybean meal and distillers dried grains (DDGs), an ethanol byproduct, are trying to accelerate sales to Mexico because they are uncertain about the risk for new tariffs to disrupt trade, said Rafe Garcia, general manager for U.S. operations at shipper Primos & Cousins USA.
"They don't know what will happen in the next month or the next week," Garcia said about producers. "They are trying to move everything as fast as they can."
The company, which ships U.S. livestock feed to Mexico and imports Mexican products like molasses, has already talked with U.S. producers about selling into other countries, such as Nicaragua, to reduce their dependence on Mexico, Garcia said.
Exports are critical for U.S. farmers as a global slump in prices for agricultural products has pushed incomes to their lowest in years.
Last week, more than 130 trade associations and food companies, including Cargill and Tyson Foods, touted the benefits of NAFTA in a letter to Trump on trade.
Food producers say the agreement has quadrupled U.S. agricultural exports in the region during the past two decades.
Mexico is expected to import about 4 percent of the U.S. corn crop in 2016/17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It buys 7.8 percent of U.S. pork production, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said.
"THEY'RE GOING TO RETALIATE"
The agriculture community, which strongly supported Trump during the presidential election, has already voiced its concern that he has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. They are worried Mexico could use tariffs to strike back against Trump's plans to rework NAFTA and build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants.
Malcolm DeKryger, president of Indiana pork producer Belstra Milling, said he was worried Mexico would impose tariffs on U.S. ham, which could cause Mexican buyers to turn to Brazil or Europe.
"They're going to retaliate," he said about Mexico. "The place they can hit back as fast as they can to try to affect our pocketbook is the food."
Mexico could target sanctions on farm products, in particular, in an attempt to punish rural communities that supported Trump in the presidential election, said Katherine Baylis, associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois.
"Look at where past trade retaliations have happened: It is amazingly pointed and usually pointed at crucial products from swing states which quite often turn out to be agricultural," Baylis said.
Prominent Mexican politicians, including former President Felipe Calderon, have said the nation should consider ending purchases of U.S. corn if Trump applies new taxes on Mexican exports.
U.S. company Ingredion, which produces high fructose corn syrup and other corn products, said its "geographic diversity balances country-specific headwinds."
In 2009 and 2010, Mexico put tariffs on 99 American exports in retaliation when Washington blocked Mexican trucks from using U.S. highways. The strategy targeted products seen as important to specific U.S. regions, including Christmas trees, apples and frozen sweet corn, to maximize political pressure.
The dispute cost U.S. businesses over $2 billion and cut U.S. exports to Mexico of affected agricultural commodities by 27 percent.
Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:30 PM | Permalink
Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?
"Pie loves a good protest but a recent protest at Berkeley Uni has got on his tits."
Something to consider, though: good ol' agents provocatuer.
Another option is that the may have seemed "almost paramilitary" because they were Black Bloc, who might as well be on the FBI's payroll (and it wouldn't surprise me if they were), which is something apparently not considered by Natasha Lennard in this exceedingly well-written but fundamentally intellectually flawed piece for The Nation.
See also: Is It OK To Punch Nazis?
* Pie's Brexit.
* Occupy Pie.
If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.
Australia Is Horrific.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:01 PM | Permalink
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. Davy Knowles at Schubas on Saturday night.
2. Half the Math at Quenchers on Saturday night.
3. Sound Tribe Sector 9 at the Aragon on Friday night.
4. Leftover Salmon at Park West on Saturday night.
5. Fastness at the Compound on Sunday night.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:09 PM | Permalink
Many Kids Still Don't Report Concussion Symptoms. How Can We Change That?
Among the 100 million-plus people who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday: approximately three million youth athletes athletes who play the game themselves, many reflecting on a season of intense competition, hard-fought battles and the tenacity of elite professional athletes.
Entangled in the enthusiasm and attention to professional football is the conversation of concussive injury and how playing professional football is related to brain injuries, neurocognitive problems and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The National Football League has taken steps to protect their players from head injuries, such as changing rules and improving equipment, yet as the Wall Street Journal reports, rates in 2015 declined only slightly.
And while most of the media attention is directed at professional athletes, concussion and brain injuries are also a concern for soldiers in the military and for millions of youth athletes. Rates of concussion in these groups have led researchers and medical professionals to identify concussion as a public health crisis.
As a prevention scientist, I've worked extensively with schools and community groups to change personal, social and environmental factors that contribute to unhealthy behaviors, such as adolescent substance use, risky sexual behavior and violence. Many of the methods used to address those public health issues can be applied to youth concussions as well.
A Widespread Problem
About 56 percent of youth ages 6-17 play an organized sport, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year in the United States, between 1.6 and 3.8 million youth suffer a concussion.
Growing media attention and new educational opportunities, such as the CDC's Heads Up program, seek to inform and encourage reporting of concussion and include specific programs to help coaches, parents, health care providers and athletes learn about the signs of concussion and the need to report them. Research indicates, however, that youth athletes may still underreport concussion.
A survey of Massachusetts youth indicated that almost half of athletes who experienced concussion symptoms continued to play that day, and only one-third stopped playing and were checked by a doctor.
Hiding symptoms of concussion and continuing to play in sports can result in subsequent injury, delayed recovery, delayed access to treatment and risk of catastrophic injury. An Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report on youth concussion concluded young athletes face a "culture of resistance" to reporting. It found research is needed to understand individual and social factors that create this culture and how it can be changed.
Me and my colleague Alissa Wicklund, who leads the Regional Concussion Center at the Orthopaedic and Spine Center of the Rockies, have a research project to address these issues. The project is part of the MindMatters Challenge, funded by the NCAA and the Department of Defense, and focuses on three questions:
Although much of the research in this NCAA-DOD initiative focuses on collegiate athletics or the military, or both, our team of developmental clinical psychologists and athletic trainers will work with middle and high school youth. The students will be from nine schools in northern Colorado. The research team will try to shape the early knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors around concussion reporting.
We know that characteristics of youth athletes - such as the knowledge they have about concussion, their attitudes about how serious symptoms are and their beliefs that if they report a concussion they will let the team down - all influence whether they will report concussion symptoms.
But to understand the culture of resistance, our study is gathering data about the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of coaches, parents and peers - the key people in the athletes' social networks that influence athletes' decisions about whether to report concussion symptoms.
We will study the environmental factors, such as access to concussion materials and whether schools, districts and states have concussion reporting policies. While some studies have examined different factors independently, our study looks at them together to gain a fuller picture of the "culture" that middle school and high school athletes exist in.
Because we believe the culture may differ for girls and boys, in different schools or by sports and teams (girls' volleyball vs. boys' football), we will examine these subcultures and their influences on youth concussion reporting.
Involving Stakeholders To Change The Culture
To change the culture, we are testing a process in which key members of the schools (students, teacher, coaches, trainers, parents) will learn about concussions, examining the data from their school. From there, the intent is to discuss what the data suggest is needed to change the culture, create an action plan for using evidence-based programs, practices or policies, and then implement those programs and policies in their schools. Rather than implementing identical programs at each school, the process emphasizes school-specific practices so schools will choose the interventions that are likely to work most efficiently and best for them.
Our intervention is based on empirically validated processes that have been used to change school and community "cultures" of substance use and violence.
Programs that teach about concussions are not likely to be sufficient, some studies have shown, and may in some cases have a negative effect on reporting behavior. We believe it will be important to take a broader approach that also addresses the emotional aspects of sport participation and nonreporting - the social pressures such as feeling embarrassed, letting the team down or being perceived as weak. We also need to look at the relationships athletes have with coaches and parents.
Youth sports have many positive benefits that can last a lifetime.
Keeping youths safe in sport should be a primary objective of all individuals involved in youth athletics.
While changes in equipment, coaching, rules and style of play can all contribute to reducing the likelihood of sport-related concussions, trainers must also be aware of the social, emotional and behavioral factors that contribute to whether an athlete will disclose symptoms.
The diagnosis and treatment of concussions is almost entirely dependent on athletes' accurate reporting of symptoms to parents, trainers and coaches.
Effectively addressing the public health concern of concussion non-reporting in youth sports will require the active involvement and dedicated efforts of parents, coaches, peers, teammates, administrators, athletic trainers and medical personnel.
Previously in concussions:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:28 PM | Permalink
The [Monday] Papers
"Chicago's beleaguered former red-light camera vendor, still reeling from a $2 million bribery scandal that nearly brought down the business and rippled across the globe, has agreed to pay $20 million to the city to settle its lawsuit over the company's admitted fraud," the Tribune's David Kidwell reports.
"In a 12-page settlement agreement, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. agreed to pay the city in mostly annual installments through 2023. The first installment of $5 million is due within 45 days, according to the agreement."
I don't mind saying once again that Kidwell's red-light reporting has been absolutely remarkable. In fact, I rejoice in saying it! Inspiring and important. Journalism!
Promo for KISS At The Stadium, '77.
Read Those "Charity" Boxes At Checkout Closely.
Hotel Thermostats Really Are Rigged.
U.S. Military Stats On Deadly Airstrikes Are Drastically Underreported.
The Case For Sugar.
Why Facts Don't Matter To Patriots Fans, Political Partisans.
McDonald's Rolls Out Chocolate Shamrock Shake.
Pitch: Newspaper Nightmares.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Neighborly.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 AM | Permalink
Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin
For some gardeners, growing blueberries is a test of their skills. Conditions must be just right for blueberry plants to survive and produce fruit. And although Wisconsin's climate is perfect, the soil - especially in the southern part of the state - isn't what blueberries like, said Vijai Pandian, a horticulture educator with University of Wisconsin-Extension Brown County.
"Blueberries are very picky about their soil pH. They like an acid soil, ranging from 4.5 to 5.5 pH," he said. "Most soil in Wisconsin is 7, slightly alkaline, that makes it very challenging to grow blueberries."
Josh Puetz/CC BY-NC 2.0
Pandian suggests having the soil's pH tested to find out if it can grow blueberries.
Volunteers in the master gardener program in Brown County have been experimenting for a few years with ways to grow blueberries in areas where the soil isn't at the right pH. They found a soilless environment, in a container or in a trench system, works best, he explained.
"To grow them in a soilless medium is easy," Pandian said. "Instead of using original soil, you use a mix of [sphagnum] peat [moss], perlite and pine bark."
A 1-to-1-to-1 ratio is best, without any original soil, compost or leafy material - all of which may alter the pH, he said. Adding some sulfur each spring will help preserve the ideal pH.
Fertilizer is also important. Beginning in mid-May and every two or three weeks until mid-July, fertilize with Miracid - or fish emulsion or blood meal, if growing organic, Pandian explained. He added that gardeners should dilute according to package directions and drench the roots at the soil, not on the leaves.
Where the plants are placed is important, too.
"Sunlight is a critical factor that will trigger blossoms," Pandian said. "If you want a successful blueberry crop, you're going to need about six or eight hours of sun [each day]."
To grow blueberries in a trench system, he recommends digging a bed of about 4-feet-by-6-feet. And because blueberries are shallow-rooted plants, the bed only needs to be about 10 inches deep.
A wooden frame, around the outside of the bed, will help keep surrounding soil from seeping into the trench. The trench is then lined with landscape fabric and filled with the soilless medium. To minimize fungal disease, plants should be placed 2 to 3 feet apart.
To grow blueberries in a container, Pandian suggests a size that is 5 gallons or larger and bury the containers in the ground. This will help them retain moisture in the summer and stop them from freezing in the winter, he added.
"You need to have good drainage holes, blueberries tend not to like wet feet," Pandian said. "Blueberries are very susceptible to water stress. Eighty to 90 percent of their roots are on the top 6 inches of the media, so they need a frequent light watering."
He recommends watering every other day and directing the water to the root system, not the leaves to help avoid water and heat stress, which can turn leaves a rusty color. To help keep in moisture, sawdust or pine needles can be used as a mulch around the plants.
Blueberry plants should start producing berries in their second year and peak production will start after three or four years, Pandian said. His recommendations for good growing varieties include Patriot, Blue Crop, North Blue and St. Cloud.
To protect plants and their berries from wildlife, Pandian recommends a fence and the use of bird netting. Chipmunks are especially adept at getting under the netting, so nailing the netting to the wooden frame or into the ground will help preserve the blueberry crop.
Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin was originally published on WisContext, which produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and Cooperative Extension.
Previously in Wisconsin:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink
February 3, 2017
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #139: Super Bowl Swoon
We are not amused. Plus: Garoppalooza; Mrs. Coach And Boy Coach At The Super Bowl!; The Super Bowl Is A Weird Animal; The NFL's Legacy Ownership Problem; Peak Jimmy Butler; Not Wild About The Blackhawks; We're Sad About Elena Delle Donne; Zigs And Zags; Cubs Stockpiling Broken-Down 35-Year-Old Pitchers; and National Everything That's Wrong With College Football Day.
1:48: Super Bowl Swoon.
10:14: Mrs. Coach And Boy Coach At The Super Bowl!
* Lady Gaga Wha?
* Coffman: The Falcons don't have a chance.
18:22: The Super Bowl Is A Weird Animal.
* Coffman: The Falcons don't have a chance.
* (Rhodes: I'll take the Falcons.)
21:18: The NFL's Legacy Ownership Problem.
* The Fall of Western Civilization.
27:42: Peak Jimmy Butler.
* Coffman: Dwyane Wade Talking About Practice.
39:09: Not Wild About The Blackhawks.
* Coffman: See Ya Seabrook.
* Trevor van Riemsuck.
* Ice Show Trip < Circus Trip.
45:50: We're Sad About Elena Delle Donne.
* Coffman: "This is the Sky becoming the Fire."
* Razzle Dazzle!
51:48: Zips And Zags.
* New York Times: Northwestern Has Elusive Target In Its Sights: NCAA Tournament.
* Rhodes: Having mono produced the best two weeks of my life, minus the floor hockey.
57:05: Cubs Stockpiling Broken-Down 35-Year-Old Pitchers.
* Plus something about the White Sox.
59:05: National Everything That's Wrong With College Football Day.
For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:06 PM | Permalink
The Week In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.
1. Adam Ant at the Vic on Tuesday night.
2. Jess McIntosh at the Hideout on Tuesday night.
3. Tesla at the Arcada in St. Charles on Wednesday night.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:05 PM | Permalink
The [Friday] Papers
"An Ohio pastor told FOX 32 that he 'misspoke' at the White House. He created a national sensation by telling President Trump Wednesday that Chicago gang leaders would 'lower the body count' if given new federal programs," Mike Flannery reports for Fox Chicago News.
FOX 32: "So, there are no gang leaders offering to reduce the body count in exchange for federal funds?"
Darrell Scott, you are Today's Worst Person Within Two States Of Chicago.
"Rev. Darrell Scott was laughing about it Wednesday night. A few hours earlier, though, the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, pastor told President Trump that Chicago's 'top gang thugs' wanted him to pass along a sensational offer.
"They're going to commit that if they lower the body count, we come and do some social programs," Scott said.
Like one less death per million, or what?
"Scott also told FOX 32 a lack of sleep caused him to tell President Trump that Chicago gangs had offered to 'lower the body count.' He said he actually spoke to one former gang member, and not to any gang leaders."
I constantly lack sleep and I've never claimed gang leaders have called me to talk body counts.
Then again, I haven't been "Serving God's Kingdom for 30 years."
Is It OK To Punch Nazis?
Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Embassy
The Trews: How Did Trump's Muslim Ban Happen?
Chicago Firms Team Up To Make Super Bowl Footballs.
Marketing The Darkness.
Petreaus Says Trump Order Is Blocking Iraqi General From U.S.
I mean, besides babies needing surgery and former Norwegian prime ministers and such.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Bone-in and jumbo.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 PM | Permalink
Is It OK To Punch Nazis?
Hey, remember 2016? When all those beloved celebrities kept dying and we couldn't wait for the year to be over? We're now less than a month into 2017 and two weeks into Donald Trump's presidency, and the Internet finds itself seriously conflicted over whether it's ok to punch Nazis.
The Dapper Backpfeifengesicht Of The Alt-Right
Meet Richard Spencer.
Backpfeifengesicht n. (German) 'A face in need of a slap'/Vas Panagiotopoulos, Flickr
Spencer is a major figure in the alt-right, a term he claims to have invented. Profiles of him tend to note his education, dapper suits, expensive watch, and haircut.
He is also an ardent and wholly unrepentant white supremacist and ethnonationalist who advocates what he calls "peaceful ethnic cleansing" to achieve a "white homeland." He says America belongs to white people, who he claims have higher average IQs than Hispanic and African Americans, and that the latter are genetically predisposed to crime. He has called for eugenicist-forced sterilization (but it's ok, you see, because "They could still enjoy sex. You are not ruining their life"). The nice suits are no accident: Spencer deliberately cultivates a 'respectable' facade from which to spout his grotesque racist ideology.
And he loves him some Trump. At an alt-right conference not long after Trump won the 2016 election, Spencer yelled "Hail Trump!" prompting some of his supporters to give the Nazi salute. He insisted that's somehow acceptable because it was done in a spirit of "irony and exuberance."
Some - Spencer himself, for one - insist Richard B. "Let's party like it's 1933" Spencer is not, in fact, a neo-Nazi. To some extent it's a moot question, but for present purposes we'll follow popular usage and use "Nazi" as shorthand for "people who advocate the sort of views Richard Spencer advocates" rather than anything more specific to the historical NSDAP.
On the day of Trump's inauguration, Spencer was giving a street interview when a masked protester emerged from the crowd and punched him in the head. At least two video cameras captured the incident. And because we're living in the future now, within hours Twitter was flooded with remixes of the punch video set to music.
There's at least two ethically salient questions in play here: is it morally permissible to punch Nazis? And is it morally permissible to enjoy or exploit footage (or even the fact) of Nazis being punched?
Consequences Of Nazi-Punching
One major line of reasoning against Nazi-punching runs like this: if you start punching Nazis, you thereby legitimate or encourage forms of political violence that can be used against you. This is not an argument about rights - it doesn't say "If you punch Nazis they're allowed to punch you back" - or draw any false moral equivalence between Nazis and non-Nazis. It's simply about consequences. Such reasoning is vulnerable to counter-arguments however: for instance, that Nazi-punching productively serves to make being a Nazi harder, and in any case, Nazis will, if given a chance, punch people anyway.
These are important inputs into our moral reasoning. But they're not the whole story. Analogous arguments are sometimes offered against things like torture and capital punishment. "Torture doesn't produce reliable information" or "The death penalty doesn't act as a deterrent" are relevant facts when considering what's wrong with such practices. But very often they don't so much answer the moral question as try to put it out of play. They're a way of saying "We don't actually have to answer whether it's morally wrong to punch Nazis because it's strategically a bad idea."
Political Violence And The Liberal State
A key feature of the liberal democratic state as it has emerged over the last two hundred years or so is that the State reserves the use of force for itself. Outside of consensual settings like boxing rings, private citizens are limited to using violence only in self-defense.
Political violence, according to this understanding, only becomes legitimate in contexts when the liberal democratic sphere, and the protections and freedoms it affords, has broken down - for instance, where tyranny makes certain forms of violent resistance effectively self-defense. That some such point exists seems hard to dispute. The difficulty is knowing when that point has been reached, such that politics legitimates the use of violence against others, and what sort of violence is thereby legitimated.
The U.S. is still, at least at the time of writing, a more-or-less functional liberal democracy. That cannot be assumed to hold: given his attacks in the space of two week on the media, women, immigrants, science, and an apparent threat to invade Chicago, it's far from clear whether and how the U.S. as we know it can survive Trump. But at least on January 20th, punching an unarmed Nazi in the street doesn't appear to rise to the level of self-defense.
But then it's easy for me to say that. I'm not American, and more importantly, I'm not a target of the genocidal. I've never felt what it is to be hated by someone who thinks people like me should not exist. And of course it's much easier to insist the norms of civil society are still in place if you're systematically less likely to be harassed or killed by agents of the State.
Breakdowns Of The Moral Sphere
Still, if you want to say that punching Nazis is ok, the first step is to make a case that we find ourselves in one of those exceptional periods in which things have so broken down that the use of political violence has become temporarily legitimate. (Or, alternatively, argue for a very different understanding of legitimate political violence than that which holds in contemporary liberal democracies).
Under such conditions, even philosophers and theologians who put deferential love of others at the core of their ethics have been moved to assist in violent resistance. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Knud Ejler Løgstrup were both Lutheran priests and both ethicists centrally concerned with our love of others.
During World War II, Løgstrup took part in the Danish Resistance (which assassinated around 400 Nazi collaborators, some dubiously), while Bonhoeffer was involved with the Abwehr conspiractors who hatched the 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler. Løgstrup was forced into hiding but survived; Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and executed at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in the dying weeks of the war.
Office for Emergency Management, War Production Board, c. 1942-3/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
But Bonhoeffer did not think that necessity washed away the moral stain of violence:
When a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it . . . Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace.
Political violence unavoidably reduces the life and body of another human being to a means to achieve a political end. There are desperate circumstances in which that becomes necessary. But in those instances one does not avoid guilt - rather one takes on the guilt of violence for the sake of preserving the moral life we share. Violence may become necessary, but that does not make it good, merely least-worst. It is not clear that punching Richard Spencer was the least-worst available option.
That brings us to the second question. Most of the people discussing the punching of the Spencer have not actually punched a Nazi, and in most cases are unlikely to do so anytime soon. They're simply commenting on and remediating images of someone else doing so.
That seems to be a long way removed from seeing political violence as a regrettable but sadly necessary means of repairing the fabric of ethical society. It's just enjoying the sight of another - utterly repugnant - person being punched.
Ok, but don't we cheer the punching of Nazis in other contexts? Don't we cheer for Indiana Jones and Captain America when they're doing just that?
Yes, but when we do so, we're watching fiction. Moreover, we're watching fictional violence offered in response to violent antagonism, and carried out for a clear purpose. We're in different territory when we cheer not the purpose for which violence is done, but the act of violence itself. In that case we don't regret an instance of necessary force, but simply revel in suffering.
Again, I speak from a position of privilege. I've never been threatened with violence in word or deed on the basis of who I am. I don't presume to tell those who have how they should feel about Nazis like Spencer. But for people like me at least, deciding what to share and endorse, things look bleak enough without cheering on the darkness.
Care to comment? Join the vibrant, funny and incisive Beachwood discussion.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink
Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Embassy
Janega: Proud Church Symbol Awaits Fate.
Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink
The Trews: How Did Trump's Muslim Ban Happen?
Whatever you're preventing by doing this, it's not death.
Previously in The Trews, like the news if the news were true:
Note: Not so final; The Trews has been rebooted!
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink
February 2, 2017
The 9th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Lady Gaga Edition
I know, I know. I'm late with this year's Super Bowl bet. What can I say? My ability to excoriate pop culture figures has been dulled by the ascendance of a gigantic man-baby. But enough about my home life; neither the second round of motherhood nor the president's second childhood is really the issue here. The issue is, Lady Gaga is largely immune to mockery.
Sure, there's plenty of standard cracks concerning her originality and general thirst. But you can't fault the woman's enthusiasm or endurance; she's logged respectable work in genres as varied as dance pop, jazz and alt-country. And she's done it all with a kind of aggressive vulnerability that might not be visionary but is certainly sincere. She's invested in both her music and her messaging in a way that a lot of pop stars simply aren't, and that's weirdly compelling.
Plus, she's a great showman. Consider that, the NFL's brief flirtation with Adele aside, Gaga likely punched her ticket for this gig when she belted out the Star-Spangled Banner at last year's Super Bowl and completely overshadowed Chris Martin's mewling, Bruno Mars's garbage bag suit and at least half of Beyonce's backup dancers.
Is Gaga the most relevant performer of the moment? Is she the most acclaimed? Is she even the most coherent? No, no and hell no. But dammit, it's hard to take your eyes off her when she puts her mind to putting on a show.
Besides, if you're a connoisseur of subtext you couldn't ask for a much richer half-time show. For all her faults and frivolities, Gaga has consistently positioned herself as a champion of the outsider. She established herself as an LGBTQ icon early in her career and has also been increasingly (and loudly) vocal about her own struggles with self-image, sexual violence and the soul-crushing churn of the music industry. The more she advocates for marginalized groups, the more willing she seems to be to put her money where her mouth is.
And so, we arrive at this particular moment in NFL history, when the league has been pummeled by accusations of callousness toward both its players and the women some of those players physically abuse.
If that's not enough for you, remember that Gaga was booked for this show back in September, when the organizers probably thought she'd still be riding high in her role as celebrity Hillary Clinton surrogate; hell, she performed the aforementioned national anthem decked out in full-on power pantsuit drag. Now that we're all forced to bear witness to the horrifying depths of white male mediocrity's capacity to fail up, I'm pretty sure Gaga has A Lot of Things She'd Like to Say.
So if you're into excruciating awkwardness and the prospect of truth chickens coming home to roost all over power, this may truly be your Super Bowl. Not only is there the distinct possibility of droopy-eyed ham hock Roger Goodell being forced to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the square-jawed idiot he spent last summer vilifying, there's the glorious thought of a room full of Fox executives squirming in agony with every Gaga costume change. Because she's going to go there, by gumballs, somehow, some way. I don't know where there is or how she'll reach it, but there is a there there and Gaga seems all but constitutionally required to exploit that fact.
In other details, Gaga has already announced there will be no special guests, because of course she has. And the Pepsi promo song - which in years past has never failed to make it onto a performer's playlist - is "Perfect Illusion," because ugh.
Here, then, are you official 2017 Halftime Show questions. Return to me before kickoff for a chance at glory.
1. What songs will Gaga play, and in what order?
2. How many costumes will Gaga wear?
3. Will any of these costumes contain perishable items?
4. Where is there and how will she get to it?
5. Really, no special guests? Not even Tony Bennett?
6. How many defenestrated Fox execs are we looking at here?
1. She will play:
* "Perfect Illusion"
* "Bad Romance"
* "Million Reasons"
* "Til It Happens to You"
2. Three, with at least one pantsuit.
3. No, not really, unless you count . . .
4. There is at least one unmistakable pro-woman and/or anti-Trump visual reference including Gaga's version of a pussyhat, which may require pixelization.
6. Hopefully all of them.
Previously In Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Coverage:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:00 PM | Permalink
The [Thursday] Papers
Is it okay to punch a Nazi?
From the Beachwood Super Bowl desk:
Even if you're not interested in the topic, read it for the brilliant writing stylings of our very own Natasha Julius.
There are two things the billionaires who run the NFL love: money and rules that make no sense.
Cubs World Series Bobbleheads Unveiled
NFL Cheerleaders Sue Over Pay, Noncompete Agreements.
A Hedge Fund Magnate, Insider Trading & (No) Justice.
Book Examines Repurposed Pizza Huts Worldwide.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Lift the lamp.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 PM | Permalink
'If The NFL Had A Mom, It'd Steal Money From Her Purse While She Was Sleeping'
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink
Cubs World Series Bobbleheads Unveiled
MILWAUKEE - The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled on Thursday an extensive lineup of Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Special Edition Bobbleheads.
Each limited edition bobblehead is officially licensed by the Chicago Cubs and MLB and is available in the National Bobblehead HOF and Museum's online store.
The following newly released bobbleheads are expected to arrive in May:
* World Series Final Out Bobbleheads: This unique bobblehead set features Kris Bryant throwing to Anthony Rizzo for the final out in Game 7 of the World Series. The bobbleheads fit together to make a set ($65), but they can also be purchased individually ($35).
* World Series Special Moments Ticket Base Bobbleheads: These newly announced bobbleheads feature four of the most memorable moments from the 2016 World Series: Anthony Rizzo's RBI in Game 2 (the first RBI for the Cubs in a World Series game since 1945), Addison Russell's Game 6 Performance, Aroldis Chapman's 8-out save in Game 5 and Ben Zobrist's RBI Double in Game 7. The base of each bobblehead has a picture of the moment and resembles the ticket from the respective game. The bobbleheads are $35 each or $125 for the set of 4.
* World Series Joe Maddon The Curse is Over! Bobblehead: This bobblehead ($50) features Joe Maddon with a goat inside a replica of Wrigley Field. This is the only officially licensed Cubs' bobblehead ever made featuring a goat, and will likely be the last!
* David Ross Tribute Bobblehead: This bobblehead ($60) features David Ross being carried off the field by Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward after game 7 of the World Series. Ross became the oldest player to hit a home run in Game 7 of a World Series.
* World Series Fly The W Bobbleheads: These bobbleheads, which are in stock and ship now, are $35 each or $125 for the set of 4. They feature Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Joe Maddon each holding the signature Cubs' W Flag while standing on a Fly The W base. Each bobblehead is individually numbered to only 2,016.
Over the past year, the Cubs amazing World Series season led to many other unique bobbleheads include the standard World Series Trophy Bobbleheads, special edition Newspaper Base Bobbleheads, a bobblehead featuring Bryzzo, a dual bobblehead commemorating Jake Arrieta's second no-hitter, and a series of 3-foot tall World Series bobbleheads.
"Never before has any team had this many World Series bobbleheads created, but the Cubs' World Series Championship was so historic that it has led to so many unique bobblehead opportunities," said Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. "Capturing these historic moments in bobblehead form is a lot of fun for fans and collectors."
About The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink
February 1, 2017
The [Wednesday] Papers
"In a world often hostile to migration, Canada has stood out, welcoming thousands of refugees fleeing war and seeking a haven. It has been a feel-good time for Canada, proud of its national tolerance," the New York Times reports.
"On Sunday, that was upended when a man walked into a mosque and started shooting, killing six people and wounding eight. The man accused of being the gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, was charged with six counts of murder on Monday.
"The nation quickly rallied after the attack. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an act of terrorism, and there was a collective outpouring of remorse and empathy. But the attack also forced Canadians to confront a growing intolerance and extremism that has taken root particularly among some people in this French-speaking corner of the country."
"We love everyone."
"That's how Mohamed Yangui, the president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, described his organization in June after it was the site of a particularly grotesque act of anti-Muslim vandalism. A man had finished praying at the mosque and as he opened the door to leave, he noticed a package at the doorstep, with the words 'Bonne appétit' written in thick, black capital letters. Wrapped inside was a severed pig's head, still dripping in fluids, an all-too-frequent gesture of contempt for Muslims, most of whom do not consume pork," the Washington Post reports.
"Still, Yangui said at the time, 'We have no problem with anyone, and we respect people. We hope it's mutual. And we are always here to give the image of the good Muslim to all Quebecers.'"
"Fox News has taken down a tweet about the Quebec City mosque shooter after a complaint was lodged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau," the Montreal Gazette reports.
"Saying the tweet 'dishonored the memory of the six victims,' Trudeau's office had asked Fox to retract or update the post, which described the alleged Quebec City mosque shooter as being of Moroccan origin."
In the aftermath of the shooting, right-wing media was filled - and in some quarters still is - with claims that the shooter was a Muslim who shouted "Allahu akbar!" during the attack. Not true.
"The French Canadian university student charged with killing six Muslim men during evening prayers at a mosque was known for far-right, nationalist views and his support of the French rightist party led by Marine Le Pen," AP reports.
The 27-year-old suspect, who has espoused support for Le Pen and U.S. President Donald Trump on his Facebook page, was known to those who monitor extremist groups in Quebec, said François Deschamps, an official with a refugee advocacy group.
"It's with pain and anger that we learn the identity of terrorist Alexandre Bissonnette, unfortunately known to many activists in Quebec for taking nationalist, pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions at Laval University and on social media," Deschamps wrote on the Facebook page of the group, Bienvenues aux Refugiés, or Welcome to Refugees.
"An anthropology and political science major at Laval University in Quebec City, Bissonnette had also expressed support on his Facebook profile for 'Génération Nationale,' a group whose manifesto includes the rejection of 'multiculturalism.'"
"The suspect charged with murder in Sunday's shooting that left six people dead at a Quebec City mosque was a 'lone wolf,' Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday," CNN reports.
Had A Muslim Just Killed 6 Christians, We'd All Have Canadian Flags As Profile Pictures.
Poem ["The Beachwood Inn Has Collapsed!"]
Youth Football Finally Listening To Coach Coffman
Allies At Detroit Airport Loaned Protest Signs For Muslim Protesters To Use As Prayer Mats.
Jared Kushner's Grandmother On Life As A Refugee: 'Nobody Wanted Us.'
Chicago Restaurants Rally Against Trump's Muslim Ban.
A Rebrand Goes Wrong In Pilsen.
Subsidized Stadiums Never Pay Off.
Reminder: Obama killed that girl's (American) teenage brother. But I welcome you to a debate that is now apparently permissible to have.
The Beachwood Tronc Line: End times.
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:55 AM | Permalink
Youth Football Finally Listening To Coach Coffman
"USA Football, the national governing body for amateur football, intends to introduce a drastically altered youth football game in response to declining participation and increasing public belief that the game is not safe for children to play," the New York Times reports.
"The organization has created a new format that brings the game closer to flag football and tries to avoid much of the violence in the current version. Among the rule changes: Each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance."
Responded our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman: "Well lookee here!"
That's because Coach has been calling for these kind of changes for years, especially the part about the three-point stances, on The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour.
He's been deeply involved in youth sports for years, and is on the board of the Positive Coaching Alliance. He's an expert. And he's right.
You can hear him talk about the PCA it at the 58:25 mark here.
See also his T-Ball Journal.
And his column about his daughter and youth soccer, Winning The Weekend.
Back to the Times:
"Worries about the future of youth football are mounting as evidence of long-term cognitive dangers of playing the game grows.
"For years, the sport's top officials have played down the science and insisted that tackle football could be played safely. Neurologists have found a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in an alarming number of former football players, and last year the NFL's top health and safety officer acknowledged for the first time the link between the disease and brain trauma sustained on the field.
"This is the future of the game," Scott Hallenbeck, the executive director of USA Football, said in an interview at the organization's annual convention here last weekend. "All of this is all about how do we do a better job, and a smarter job around the development of athletes and coaches in the game of football."
Previously in concussions:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 AM | Permalink
Poem ["The Beachwood Inn Has Collapsed!"]
Poem ["The Beachwood Inn has collapsed!"]
The Beachwood Inn has collapsed!
From the Beachwood Slack channel:
Steve: Did a vehicle really run into the bar once?
Bob: Twice. Once in the back room of bar, the other in the practice space.
Tim: Wtf, I've had CNN on for at least 20 minutes and there's no mention of this story.
Tim: I'm heading over there late tonight to see if there are any pieces I can grab to go with my collection of Big Tony's rubble.
Tim: Maybe if I'm lucky I'll be crushed by debris like that guy who tried saving pieces of the old stock exchange.
Tim: In the basement I'll be looking for shrunken heads of regulars who mysteriously disappeared.
Mike: Cop car w/flashing lights on the scene.
Steve: Better get a bail fund for Tim going.
Painting of old-school Beachwood by Rick Napier:
From the final night:
Previously in the Beachwood Inn:
Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:03 AM | Permalink
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