This guy changed the world: We won’t see the likes of Jon Stewart again – ARTHUR CHU THURSDAY, JUL 30, 2015 04:00 PM PDT


We take Jon Stewart for granted now, and expect way too much from him. Stop and thank him for restoring our sanity

This guy changed the world: We won't see the likes of Jon Stewart again

It’s strange thinking that people my brother’s age who have just graduated from college remember Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” always being a political institution. It’s hard to explain to them just how big a deal Stewart’s sudden rise was back during the Bush years, what a shock it was to see Craig Kilborn’s tacky random-riffs-on-the-headlines show turn into the most credible source of news for the millennial generation, why Stewart’s impending retirement feels so momentous and sad.

I’m one of the college kids who in 2003 and 2004 grabbed onto what seemed like certain cultural anchors of sanity in what felt like a world gone mad. I remember the sense of despair as the Bush administration systematically took apart the social safety net, as Serious Pundit after Serious Pundit queued up to take their turn explaining why we absolutely had to cave into the neocons’ desire for a pointless war in Iraq, as every day revealed a new headline emphasizing that America was firmly in the hands of the religious right and the establishment left was enthusiastically welcoming our wingnut overlords.

Good satire then was like water in the desert. We were thirsty for any reminder that we hadn’t gone crazy, the world had, that the policies of our leaders were in fact as monstrous and deranged as they seemed to be. That things were not OK. The Onion, “The Daily Show,” “Arrested Development” — those were the comic voices that defined my coming of age, and I remember them all coming from a stance of incredulity, of “Can you believe this shit is really happening?”

Yes, nowadays everyone is sick of clickbait headlines saying “Jon Stewart demolishes this” and “Jon Stewart annihilates that” and “Jon Stewart eviscerates this random dude and makes a jump rope from his entrails.” But those headlines are a hangover from Jon Stewart breaking onto the public scene when we all really were stunned by how regularly and how effectively he made fools of people far more respectable than he was.

The guy who played the villain in “Death to Smoochy” became the thorn in the side to the president of the United States. The guy who came on after the prank call puppets killed CNN’s “Crossfire” just by coming onto the show and telling everyone how intellectually and morally bankrupt it was. Op-Ed after Op-Ed cranked out expressing shock that young people saw a comedian as their “most trusted name in news.”

On election night in 2004 more of us tuned in to Comedy Central than to “legitimate” news sources, because none of the legitimate news sources would openly voice the one truth about the election — that the fact that the election was even close after the disasters in Fallujah and the exposé of Abu Ghraib and the lie about Saddam’s WMD proved that our country was mad.

When the results came in for Bush on the night of Nov. 2, 2004, the Serious Pundits — Democrats and Republicans — gathered together to analyze “values voters” and pontificate about how, if you thought about it from the right perspective, it made perfect sense to reelect a warmonger who’d sent thousands of American soldiers to pointless deaths just in case John Kerry might legalize gay marriage.

Jon Stewart didn’t. He tore up his index cards, slumped over in defeat, and wept.

It’s hard to think back to what it was like in a world where the mainstream media really did have the power to memory-hole stories like Bill Cosby’s lawsuit because they made advertisers uncomfortable. The pace of change is accelerating: The media landscape of only 10 years ago feels as foreign now as Walter Cronkite telling all of America “That’s the way it is” felt then.

It feels weird today, in a world of a thousand contending voices on Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube, to talk about how much it meant that there was one dude back then telling the truth. That there was someone in the mainstream media willing to kick a hole in the pusillanimous civil consensus of the respectable pundits, someone willing to call bullshit on the whole rotten circus, to reject the asinine convention that the party in power had to be given token respect simply because they were in power and to openly call them out as evil lunatics.

Jon Stewart felt like a Messiah. People told him he should run for president himself and were half-serious when they said it. (They made a movie about the concept with Robin Williams.) He felt real in a way that people who made a living talking about politics hardly ever feel.

And he kept denying the laurels we tried to heap on him. He repeatedly defaulted to saying he was “only a comedian,” that he, unlike the people he criticized, was an entertainer and not a scholar or politician or professional analyst and should not be taken seriously.

People have criticized that stance as a way to dodge accountability, to have it both ways — to get to call powerful people out while denying that he himself wielded power.

And they’re right. But Stewart was also right.

Article continues:

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/30/this_guy_changed_the_world_we_wont_see_the_likes_of_jon_stewart_again/

 

Hillary hints at support for $12 minimum wage – July 30, 2015, 03:55 pm


Hillary Clinton hinted Thursday that she’s supportive of legislation hiking the minimum wage to $12.

Clinton, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, has backed the concept of a wage hike on the campaign trail without specifying a figure — a reticence that’s been criticized by her closest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s pushing for a $15 rate.

But on Thursday, after meeting with leaders of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Clinton got as close as she’s come to endorsing a specific level, hinting that a $12 minimum wage proposal sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) might offer a viable path forward.

“Patty Murray is one of the most effective legislators in the Senate bar none, and whatever she advocates I pay a lot of attention to because she knows how to get it through the Congress,” Clinton told reporters. “Let’s not just do it for the sake of having a higher number out there, but let’s actually get behind a proposal that has a chance of succeeding. And I have seen Patty over the years be able to do just that.”

Earlier in the press conference, Clinton advocated an unspecified increase in the federal minimum wage — which has stood at $7.25 per hour since 2009 — and then allowing states and local governments to make adjustments as they see fit based on regional cost-of-living variations.

Article continues:

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/249842-hillary-hints-at-support-for-12-minimum-wage

Congress’s Summer Fling With Marijuana – By JAMES HIGDON July 30, 2015


How Congress turned on the DEA and embraced weed.

It’s not easy being the DEA these days. After an unprecedented losing streak on Capitol Hill, the once-untouchable Drug Enforcement Administration suffered last week what might be considered the ultimate indignity: A Senate panel, for the first time, voted in favor of legal, recreational marijuana.

Last Thursday, the Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 on an amendment to allow marijuana businesses access to federal banking services, a landmark shift that will help states like Colorado, where pot is legal, fully integrate marijuana into their economies. As significant as the vote was—according to drug policy reform advocates, it marked the first time that either house of Congress has voted to advance legislation concerning legal marijuana—it’s only the latest vote in a remarkable run of success marijuana advocates have had this year on Capitol Hill.

“The amendment was a necessary response to an absurd regulatory morass,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines, one of the three Republicans to support Thursday’s amendment, tells Politico, referring to the multifaceted and complex system of laws that have been enacted over the past four decades to prosecute a war on marijuana. It’s a war that began on or about May 26, 1971, when President Richard Nixon told his chief of staff Bob Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana …I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.”

But that war appears to be winding down—potentially quickly. The summer of 2015 could be viewed historically as the tipping point against Nixon’s war on pot, the time when the DEA, a federal drug-fighting agency created by Nixon in 1973, found itself in unfamiliar territory as a target of congressional scrutiny, budget cuts and scorn. In a conference call this week, the new acting DEA administrator repeatedly downplayed marijuana enforcement efforts, saying that while he’s not exactly telling agents not to pursue marijuana cases, it’s generally not something anyone focuses on these days: “Typically it’s heroin, opioids, meth and cocaine in roughly that order and marijuana tends to come in at the back of the pack.”

What a difference a year makes.

 

Article continues:

How schools push black students to the criminal justice system – Updated by German Lopez on July 30, 2015, 3:30 p.m. ET


A recent study found misbehaving white students are more likely to get medical help, while misbehaving black students are more likely to face punitive measures like arrest and suspension.

David Ramey, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State and the author of the study published in Sociology of Education, analyzed a data set of more than 60,000 schools in more than 6,000 districts. He found schools with relatively larger minority and poor populations are more likely to implement criminalized disciplinary policies — such as suspensions, expulsions, police referrals, and arrests — and less likely to medicalize students by, for instance, connecting them to psychological or behavioral care.

Ramey put the findings succinctly to the Daily Beast’s Abby Haglage: “White kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem. Black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn.”

The study helps explain one way black students are disproportionately affected by the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalized disciplinary system in schools. And it shows just how badly implicit biases can feed the pipeline.

The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately hurts black students

 Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

When lawmakers began enacting tough-on-crime policies in the 1970s and ’80s, some of the concepts trickled down to schools, which began outsourcing discipline to police through school resource officers and referrals to the juvenile justice system. The result has been a school-to-prison pipeline that acts as many kids’ first exposure to the criminal justice system — and it can lead to more interactions with the justice system later on, because the lost school time and bad marks on their records can make it much more difficult to get ahead.

Beyond Ramey’s study, there’s a lot of research and data that shows black kids are much more likely to be affected by schools’ punitive disciplinary policies:

  • Boys with imprisoned fathers are much less likely to possess the behavioral skills needed to succeed in school by the age of 5, a 2014 study published in Sociological Science found. Black children, who are more likely to have imprisoned black fathers, are therefore more likely to be set on a bad course before they start kindergarten.
  • Black students with disabilities are almost three times more likely to experience out-of-school suspension or expulsion than their white counterparts, and twice as likely to experience in-school suspension or expulsion, according to a 2014 report from the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
  • About 70 percent of students involved in in-school arrests or referred to law enforcement are black or Hispanic, according to SuspensionStories.com, which seeks to expose the issues with the school-to-prison pipeline.

So schools aren’t just more likely to criminalize their students nowadays; they’re more likely to criminalize their black students in particular. Some socioeconomic issues — black kids are more likely to be poor, and poorer schools tend to be more punitive — play a role, as Ramey’s study found. But subconscious racial biases play a significant role, as well.

http://www.vox.com/2015/7/30/9075065/school-to-prison-pipeline-study

Regime Change for Humanitarian Aid – By Michael Barnett and Peter Walker July/August 2015 Issue


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at Jul 31, 2015 1.56

The global humanitarian system, already under considerable strain, will soon be tested as never before. In 2013, the gap between the funds available for humanitarian aid and estimated global needs reached $4.5 billion, leaving at least one-third of the demand unmet. The gap seems certain to widen, as key donors cut their contributions and humanitarian disasters grow more frequent and severe. Complex humanitarian emergencies, such as the war in Syria, have shown just how poorly the world is prepared to respond to human suffering on a large scale, despite considerable practice. The international community’s response to last year’s outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, for example, was slow off the mark and then stumbled, leaving everyone worried about future public health emergencies. Meanwhile, climate change has increased the destructive force of natural disasters, which fuel violence and put tremendous pressure on governments and aid agencies alike. And rapid urbanization, coupled with massive migration to coasts, has amplified the toll of such crises.

Small wonder, then, that the humanitarian community consistently falls short of expectations—both those of outside observers and its own. To some extent, that is due to factors beyond its control. Humanitarians confront problems that offer no easy solutions. They must contend with powerful funders who would rather make feel-good pledges than actually pay up, with donors who expect relief work to serve their own interests above those of local populations, and with disasters that leave first responders as exposed to the dangers they are responding to as the victims themselves. Complex crises of the kind roiling Syria often require aid workers to plead with warlords, rebels, and guerilla groups for the privilege of helping the vulnerable, only to be denied entry or forced at gunpoint to pay a heavy surcharge.

Article continues:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-06-16/regime-change-humanitarian-aid

Don’t Freak, But a Computer Ump Just Called a Baseball Game – K.M. MCFARLAND. 07.30.15. 3:30 PM


A video camera is shown mounted to a light standard in center field before the start of an independent minor league baseball game between the San Rafael Pacifics and Vallejo Admirals Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in San Rafael, Calif. On Tuesday night, the computer system will stand in for pitch calls in what is considered to be the first professional game without the umpire making those decisions. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A video camera is shown mounted to a light standard in center field before the start of an independent minor league baseball game between the San Rafael Pacifics and Vallejo Admirals Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in San Rafael, Calif. On Tuesday night, the computer system will stand in for pitch calls in what is considered to be the first professional game without the umpire making those decisions. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

DURING THE SUMMER, San Rafael’s Albert Park baseball stadium typically draws around 450 people to watch the minor-league San Rafael Pacifics. On this Tuesday evening, though, there are close to 900 for an  independent Pacific Association game against the Vallejo Admirals. There’s a handful of local broadcast news crews as well—but their cameras aren’t trained on the field. Instead, all eyes are on a small monitor at the right edge of the backstop, where Eric Byrnes is watching the game on television.

The Pacifics’ Wander Beras throws the game’s first pitch. It seems a little high, but the home plate umpire, a 40-year veteran named Dean Poteet, doesn’t react at all. Instead, back by the backstop, it’s Byrne, a former major league outfielder, who leans toward a microphone and lets out a loud “HYAHHHH!” that resounds through Albert Park. The first pitch in the first professional baseball game to be called by a computer instead a human umpire is a called strike.

Since retiring from the majors in 2010, Eric Byrnes has held various radio and television commentating gigs. But after playing some games with the San Rafael Pacifics last year, he came back to them with an idea to use PITCHf/x. The three-camera tracking system, designed by Sportvision, already collects pitch location, speed, and movement data in major league parks, but Byrnes wanted to use it to actually determine the game’s balls and strikes. Since the Pacific Association is an independent league, it’s outside of Major League Baseball’s purview, and so could move much faster than the organization’s traditional glacial pace.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/baseball-game-no-umpire/