J.D. Vance: The struggles of America’s forgotten working class – Filmed September 2016 at TEDNYC


J.D. Vance grew up in a small, poor city in the Rust Belt of southern Ohio, where he had a front-row seat to many of the social ills plaguing America: a heroin epidemic, failing schools, families torn apart by divorce and sometimes violence. In a searching talk that will echo throughout the country’s working-class towns, the author details what the loss of the American Dream feels like and raises an important question that everyone from community leaders to policy makers needs to ask: How can we help kids from America’s forgotten places break free from hopelessness and live better lives?

Should the Media Downplay the New Murder Spike? – By Leon Neyfakh

Depending on your politics, the FBI’s new stats can look scary or meaningless. Here’s a more honest reading.

On Monday, the FBI released crime statistics for 2015. The results were not unexpected but newsworthy nonetheless: In the context of a presidential campaign in which one candidate has painted a picture of a nation being torn apart by violence and positioned himself as a champion of “law and order,” any new data on crime rates—what’s actually going on, underneath all the rhetoric—is valuable.

The FBI’s numbers do not prove Donald Trump right. But they also resist easy interpretation, inspiring a rather bitter tug of war between people with differing opinions about how the data should be understood. In covering the new stats, some news outlets led with the FBI’s finding that the total number of murders in America went up 10.8 percent last year—from a little over 14,000 killings in 2014 to just under 15,700 in 2015. Others sought to put that change in historical context, noting that the murder spike had followed a long, steep decline in violent crime that began more than 20 years ago.

Where different people placed the emphasis depended on their beliefs about crime and punishment. Those who think scary year-on-year crime statistics drum up misplaced support for overly aggressive law enforcement policies played down the murder surge. (In the Huffington Post, Ryan Reilly published a pointed story under the headline “2015 Was One of the Safest Years in The Past 2 Decades, According to FBI Crime Stats” and described the national homicide rate as having grown only “slightly.”) Those who see folly in focusing on good news when thousands of people are being killed highlighted all the ways in which crime has gotten worse. (Peter Moskos, a sociologist and ex-cop from Baltimore, wrote on his blog that while “the accepted liberal reaction to this increase seems to be ‘it’s not a big deal’ and ‘Don’t freak out’ … What matters, or at least should matter, is that more American are being murdered.”)

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Amazon’s Newest Ambition: Competing Directly With UPS and FedEx – By  Greg Bensinger and  Laura Stevens Updated Sept. 27, 2016 1:45 p.m. ET

To constrain rising shipping costs, the online giant is building its own delivery operation, setting up a clash with its shipping partners

Amazon is building more warehouses, like the one shown here In Inglewood, Calif.Amazon is building more warehouses, like the one shown here In Inglewood, Calif. Photo: Emily Berl for The Wall Street Journal

Just before the morning rush hour on a recent Thursday, a brigade of vans rolled up to a low-slung warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport.

Workers in bright green vests crammed some 150 Amazon.com packages into each truck before the fleet headed through the urban sprawl to customers’ doorsteps.

This logistical dance wasn’t performed by United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. or the U.S. Postal Service, all longtime carriers for the online-retail giant. It was part of an operation by Amazon.com Inc. itself, which is laying the groundwork for its own shipping business in a brazen challenge to America’s freight titans.

Tackling the delivery business, Amazon executives publicly say, is a logical way to add delivery capacity—particularly during the peak Christmas season. But interviews with nearly two dozen current and former Amazon managers and business partners indicate the retailer has grander ambitions than it has publicly acknowledged.

Amazon’s goal, these people say, is to one day haul and deliver packages for itself as well as other retailers and consumers—potentially upending the traditional relationship between seller and sender.

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The Downfall of ISIS – By Vera Mironova September 26, 2016

ALI HASHISHO / REUTERS  An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon January 19, 2016.

ALI HASHISHO / REUTERS An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon January 19, 2016.

Over the last few years, one aspect of the Islamic State (ISIS) has loomed large in the public’s imagination: the group’s ability to attract foreign fighters. The attention makes sense; there is something particularly terrifying about the idea of merciless terrorists mobilizing from all corners of the world to decimate civilian populations in Iraq and Syria to help ISIS rapidly gain territory. Foreign fighters also preoccupied Western governments, which were faced with the prospect of battle-hardened jihadists returning home. But now, three years into ISIS’ war, its once mighty weapon is now threatening to cut off the hand that feeds it; foreign fighters are quickly becoming one of ISIS’ biggest liabilities.

It should have been obvious from the start that local and foreign fighters would have different goals. ISIS’ official position has been that all fighters are equal, but tensions among groups did not go unnoticed. Still, the group’s internal dynamics remained relatively stable because it was successful on the battlefield and in oil production. But now that the ISIS is not as rich and powerful as it once was, it can no longer afford to buy everyone’s loyalty. Already, a major internal split is hurting the group’s combat performance. In Iraq alone, since last month, ISIS lost all three battles it fought along with control of two towns and more than 30 villages.

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Why Did Trump and Clinton Ignore Syria Last Night? – MAX J. ROSENTHAL SEP. 27, 2016 5:50 PM

The death toll is picking up, but it’s off the campaign radar.

Even by the already horrific standards of the Syrian civil war, the violence in the city of Aleppo during the past week has been brutal. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes killed more than 300 people, targeted the last vital scraps of medical services in rebel-held areas, and used bunker-busting bombs in what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called “new depths of barbarity.” The attacks only added to the 25,000 people who have died in Syria since a temporary truce ended in April, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Yet with the carnage in Syria only getting worse, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton discussed the Syrian civil war during Monday night’s presidential debate, to the dismay of analysts and activists. “The fact that it wasn’t mentioned in the presidential debate is depressing, to say the least,” says Kenan Rahmani, a legal and policy adviser to the Syria Campaign, an advocacy group that focuses on protecting Syrian civilians. “This [was] one of the worst weekends since the start of the conflict.” Lena Arkawi, the spokeswoman for the American Relief Coalition for Syria, issued a statement on Tuesday saying her group was “deeply disappointed by the utter failure of last night’s debate to even mention Syria. That oversight is far more telling than Gary Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe.”

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The Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton – By Hadas Gold 09/27/16 09:40 PM EDT

For the first time in its 126-year history, The Arizona Republic has endorsed a Democratic candidate for president.


The Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton

The paper’s editorial board said Hillary Clinton is “the only choice to move America ahead.”

“Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “This year is different.”

The editorial said Clinton’s temperament and experience prepare her for office, while it questioned Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns, asking “whose hand do you want on the nuclear button?”

Clinton has racked up her fair share of nontraditional endorsements from newspapers. Last week, The Cincinnati Enquirer, which noted it had backed Republican candidates for president “for almost a century,” also endorsed Clinton. Earlier this month, The Dallas Morning News endorsed the former secretary of state, making her the first Democrat that newspaper has endorsed in over 75 years.

Hadas Gold is a reporter at Politico.