Citing 'existential threat,' House climate action plan has a big focus on California

California, other U.S. states and communities of color face threats from climate change, a House select committee stated in a report Tuesday. It laid out an action plan for reversing those threats.

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How I Became a Police Abolitionist
Hulton Archive / Getty / Katie Martin / The AtlanticWe called 911 for almost everything except snitching.Nosebleeds, gunshot wounds, asthma attacks, allergic reactions. Police accompanied the paramedics.Our neighborhood made us sick. A Praxair industrial gas-storage facility was at one end of my block. A junkyard with exposed military airplane and helicopter parts was at the other. The fish-seasoning plant in our backyard did not smell as bad as the yeast from the Budweiser factory nearby. Car honks and fumes from Interstate 70 crept through my childhood bedroom window, where, if I stood on my toes, I could see the St. Louis arch.Environmental toxins degraded our health, and often conspired with other violence that pervaded our neighborhood. Employment opportunities were rare, and my friends and I turned to making money under the table. I was scared of selling drugs, so I gambled. Brown-skinned boys I liked aged out of recreational activities, and, without alternatives, into blue bandanas. Their territorial disputes led to violence and 911 calls. Grown-ups fought too, stressed from working hard yet never having enough bill money or gas money or food money or day-care money. Call 911.When people dismiss abolitionists for not caring about victims or safety, they tend to forget that we are those victims, those survivors of violence.The first shooting I witnessed was by a cop. I was 12. He was angry that his cousin skipped a sign-in sheet at my neighborhood recreation center. I was teaching my sister how to shoot free throws when the officer stormed in alongside the court, drew his weapon, and shot the boy in the arm. My sister and I hid in the locker room for hours afterward. The officer was back at work the following week.Like the boy at the rec center, most victims of police violence survive. No hashtags or protests or fires for the wounded, assaulted, and intimidated. I often wonder, What if Derek Chauvin had kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds instead of eight? Maybe Floyd would have lived to be arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for allegedly attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill. Is that justice? This, for me, is why we need police abolition. Police manage inequality by keeping the dispossessed from the owners, the Black from the white, the homeless from the housed, the beggars from the employed. Reforms make police polite managers of inequality. Abolition makes police and inequality obsolete.[Annie Lowrey: Defund the police]“Police abolition” initially repulsed me. The idea seemed white and utopic. I’d seen too much sexual violence and buried too many friends to consider getting rid of police in St. Louis, let alone the nation. But in reality, the police were a placebo. Calling them felt like something, as the legal scholar Michelle Alexander explains, and something feels like everything when your other option is nothing.Police couldn’t do what we really needed. They could not heal relationships or provide jobs. We were afraid every time we called. When cops arrived, I was silenced, threatened with detention, or removed from my home. Fifteen years later, my old neighborhood still lacks quality food, employment, schools, health care, and air—all of which increases the risk of violence and the reliance on police. Yet I feared letting go; I thought we needed them.Until the Ferguson, Missouri, cop Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. Brown had a funeral. Wilson had a wedding. Most police officers just continue to live their lives after filling the streets with blood and bone.I drove from Ferguson to law-school orientation two weeks after Brown’s death. I met, studied, and struggled alongside students and movement lawyers who explained the power and the purpose of the prison-industrial complex through an abolitionist framework. Black abolitionists have condemned the role of prisons and police for centuries, even before W. E. B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction. They imagined and built responses to harm rooted in community and accountability. In recent decades, abolitionists have developed alternatives to 911, created support systems for victims of domestic violence, prevented new jail construction, reduced police budgets, and shielded undocumented immigrants from deportation. Abolition, I learned, was a bigger idea than firing cops and closing prisons; it included eliminating the reasons people think they need cops and prisons in the first place.We never should have had police. Policing is among the vestiges of slavery, tailored in America to suppress slave revolts, catch runaways, and repress labor organizing. After slavery, police imprisoned Black people and immigrants under a convict-leasing system for plantation and business owners. During the Jim Crow era, cops enforced segregation and joined lynch mobs that grew strange fruit from southern trees. During the civil-rights movement, police beat the hell out of Black preachers, activists, and students who marched for equality wearing their Sunday best. Cops were the foot soldiers for Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs and Joe Biden’s 1994 crime bill. Police departments pepper-sprayed Occupy Wall Street protesters without provocation and indiscriminately teargassed Black Lives Matter activists for years—including me, twice. Black people I know trust police; they trust them to be exactly what they always have been.After each video of a police killing goes viral, popular reforms go on tour: banning choke holds, investing in community policing, diversifying departments—none of which would have saved Floyd or most other police victims. The Princeton professor Naomi Murakawa wrote to me in an email: At best, these reforms discourage certain techniques of killing, but they don’t condemn the fact of police killing. “Ban the chokehold!” But allow murder with guns and tasers and police vans? The analogy here is to death-penalty reformers who improved the noose with the electric chair, and then improved the electric chair with chemical cocktails. But the technique of murder doesn’t comfort the dead. It comforts the executioners—and all their supportive onlookers. Like so much reform to address racism, all this legal fine print is meant to salve the conscience of moderates who want salvation on the cheap, without any real change to the material life-and-death realities for Black people. When Donald Trump was elected president, many liberals feared the end of consent decrees, legal agreements between the Department of Justice and police departments, intended to spur real change. After law school, I worked for the Advancement Project, which supported community organizers in Ferguson on the decree that was negotiated in the aftermath of Brown’s death. Millions of dollars went toward an investigation, publicity, and a lawsuit to rid the Ferguson Police Department of “bad apples” and transform its culture. After a year of militaristic ambush on the community, the consent decree provided members of the police department with mental-health services to cope with the unrest, but no treatment or restitution for the residents who were teargassed, shot with rubber bullets, and traumatized by the tanks at the edge of their driveways. The Obama administration’s DOJ objected to dismissing thousands of old cases that were the result of unconstitutional policing, and protected the police department from criticisms that community organizers shared with the judge in court.[Tracey L. Meares and Tom R. Tyler: The first step is figuring out what police are for]Constitutional policing is a problem too. As the legal scholar Paul Butler explains, the overwhelming majority of police violence is constitutional. Reforms cannot fix a policing system that is not broken.Still, many Americans believe that most police officers do the right thing. Perhaps there are bad apples. But even the best apples surveil, arrest, and detain millions of people every year whose primary "crime" is that they are poor, homeless, or have a disability. Cops escalate violence disproportionately against people with disabilities and in mental health crises, even the ones who call 911 for help. The police officers who are doing the “right thing” maintain the systems of inequality and ableism in black communities. The right thing is wrong. Policing cannot even fix the harms of our nightmares. People often ask me, “What will we do with murderers and rapists?” Which ones? The police kill more than a thousand people every year, and assault hundreds of thousands more. After excessive force, sexual misconduct is the second-most-common complaint against cops. Many people are afraid to call the police when they suffer these harms, because they fear that the police will hurt them. Thousands of rape survivors refuse to call the police, worried about not being believed or about being re-assaulted, or concerned that their rape kit would sit unexamined for years. In three major cities, less than 4 percent of calls to the police are for “violent crimes.” Currently, police departments are getting worse at solving murders and frequently arrest and force confessions out of the wrong people.So if we abolish the police, what’s the alternative? Who do we call? As someone who grew up calling 911, I also shared this concern. I learned this: Just because I did not know an answer didn’t mean that one did not exist. I had to study and join an organization, not just ask questions on social media. I read Rachel Herzing, a co-director of the Center for Political Education, who explains that creating small networks of support for different types of emergencies can make us safer than we are now, and reduce our reliance on police. The Oakland Power Projects trains residents to build alternatives to police by helping residents prevent and respond to harm. San Francisco Mayor London Breed just announced that trained, unarmed professionals will respond to many emergency calls, and Los Angeles city-council members are demanding a similar model. This is the right idea. Rather than thinking of abolition as just getting rid of police, I think about it as an invitation to create and support lots of different answers to the problem of harm in society, and, most exciting, as an opportunity to reduce and eliminate harm in the first place.[Derek Thompson: Unbundle the police]Defunding the police is one step on a broad stairway toward abolition. Cities can reduce the size and scope of police and thus limit their opportunities to come into contact with civilians. There should be as much support for the anti-criminalization organizer Mariame Kaba’s call to cut law enforcement by half as there has been to cut the prison population by half. Communities can demand hiring and budget freezes, budget cuts, and participatory budgeting opportunities to ensure that police will not be refunded in the future. States should stop the construction of new prisons and begin closing remaining ones by freeing the people inside. No new police academies should be established. These are only a few suggestions from a broader set of abolitionist demands.More important, society must spend money and time reducing the root causes of violence. If we want to reduce sexual violence immediately, we should expand restorative and transformative processes for accountability. If we are committed to eliminating this harm long-term, then society must offer quality housing, food, day care, transit, employment, debt cancellation, and free college so that people will not be stuck in unhealthy relationships because they need food, money, health insurance, or a place to live.If we care about reducing neighborhood killings, we must invest in street-violence interruption models such as the one that the feminist organization Taller Salud uses, which minimizes violence through community development and peace programs. These likely would have reduced killings and retaliation in my neighborhood without police. I wouldn’t have hid in the locker room for hours because of a police shooting, and maybe my sister would have a better jump shot. We can reduce and eliminate shootings long-term if we provide the most dispossessed communities with opportunities to thrive, and choose comprehensive gun reform over police occupations in our schools, places of worship, and neighborhoods.[Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Black family in the age of mass incarceration]Slavery abolition required resistance, risk, and experimentation. Black people rebelled, ran away, and built an underground railroad. Abolitionists wrote and orated against the “peculiar institution.” Allies funded campaigns, passed legislation, changed the Constitution. Of course, people then felt a range of anxieties about abolition. Slaveowners worried about their plantations and the profits they wrought. White overseers feared joblessness. Both feared the loss of superiority. Some Black people had reservations about how they’d sustain themselves without the steady, yet violent protection of their owners. Police abolition triggers similar anxieties today—moral, economic, and otherwise.But if abolitionists waited to convince every single person that liberation was worth the pursuit, Black people might still be on plantations. Slavery’s violence and repression was riskier than Black people’s plans, imagination, and will to be free. So they held the uncertainty in their bellies and started running.Rather than waiting for comforting answers to every potential harm ahead of us, let’s run. And continue to organize, imagine, and transform this country toward freedom and justice without police and violence. Let’s run.And never look back.
Dear Therapist: I Love My Trans Daughter, but I’m Still Struggling
Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at Dear Therapist,Last summer when my son came home from college, he told my husband and me that he is trans. He said he is a girl, and I am having trouble with this.My son and I were always very close. I struggled to get pregnant and when it happened, it felt like a miracle. He is my only child, and I was a stay-at-home mom while my husband traveled and worked a lot.Now she has a new name, one I had no say in choosing. She confides in my husband more than me, which leaves me feeling like an outsider. Although I’m assured that I’ve gained a daughter, my input on clothing and hygiene is no longer solicited.I expected some loss when I sent my child to school. I knew I couldn’t be his best friend forever, but I didn’t think I’d lose everything. It feels like a death. I don’t know how to process the grief. It sneaks up on me, and I have to hide in the bathroom to cry. It’s overtaking everything.I’m not conservative. I love and accept her, but I’m worried for her. I ache when she doesn’t eat or drink during the six-hour drive back to school, because she’s avoiding public restrooms.My husband works really hard to nurture me. He doesn’t pressure me to meet his emotional and sexual needs, but we don’t talk about what’s happened either. He doesn’t share my sadness.The other night, my mom and I were looking at old photos of my child when he was young. His second birthday, his trains, his ripped-up blankie he wore like a superhero cape. It was too much. I told her to put it away, and I feel awful for that.Please guide me.AnnIllinoisDear Ann,What you’re experiencing is a deep sense of loss, and one reason you might be struggling to process your grief is that several strands of it have been tangled into one. Some are related to the loss of your child’s assigned gender, some to the loss of your child more generally as she grows away from you and into her adulthood, and some to the ways in which you may have lost important aspects of yourself long before you heard this news.Let’s start with the first one—the revelation that you have a daughter. Transgender young people, like all young people, do better emotionally when they have the love and support of their parents, especially because out in the world, they face intolerant people and governments that want to take away their rights. They can also experience a sense of isolation along with many logistical challenges, such as your daughter’s dilemma with using public restrooms on her drive back to school. Until cultural and systemic change happens, having the safe landing place of loving and supportive parents is especially important to trangender people’s well-being. I noticed in your letter that you toggle between male and female pronouns, and part of this support includes respecting your child’s identity by using the pronouns that reflect who she is.This doesn’t mean, however, that parents who are loving and supportive won’t also experience their own emotions as they take in this news. Parents can be loving and supportive and also experience loss or sadness or fear or confusion and need some time to process these feelings. Just as transgender kids need compassion and support to navigate what lies ahead, so do their parents.The key here is to be mindful of separating your feelings from those of your daughter. While for you, there are elements here that at this moment feel like the death of the child you knew, for her, this is a time of celebrating the child she has always truly been, and it’s important for her that you see her that way. Remember that your grief belongs to you, not her, and not only does she not share your sadness, but it’s not her job to soothe or be exposed to yours. That’s why you should reach out to the many adults who can talk with you about what you’re experiencing, whether that’s your close friends, a therapist, or a support group of other parents with kids who are transitioning. Unfortunately, many parents instead choose to isolate themselves and hide their range of feelings because they—or, perhaps worse, others—believe that sadness or loss signifies rejection of the child, when what the parent is grieving is largely the loss of an imagined future. In your case, for nearly two decades you likely had a picture of a certain kind of future for your kid, and now that future will be replaced by a different one—one that may feel foreign to you. It makes sense that you’d need time to let go of the future you had imagined for decades in order to make room for a new one that you’ve just recently begun to contemplate. It also makes sense that you’d need some time to work through other feelings many parents of transgender kids have: How could I not have seen this when my kid was younger? Is it disloyal to mourn the memories of the boy I thought I was raising while also loving the woman she is?As you work through these feelings, though, you’ll need to tease out another strand of your grief. Your daughter’s revelation happened to come at a time of transition in every parent’s life: your child becoming an adult. While you’re losing whatever the experience of having a child you assumed to be a certain gender meant to you, you’re also losing what every parent eventually does—your role in your child’s life, which changes dramatically when kids leave the nest and head to college or begin to live independently.Typically, this process of separation from one’s parents begins during adolescence, but you might not have been prepared for it, because of the nature of the relationship you two had. You describe being very invested in every aspect of your kid’s childhood—staying home to provide care, giving “input on clothing and hygiene” well into adolescence, even using the phrase “best friend”—and maybe this investment had something to do with your difficulty getting pregnant with your only and long-awaited child. But there’s a difference between being friendly with one’s child and taking on the role of best friend. What kids and parents both need are best friends their own age. When a parent takes on the role of best friend, that parent may feel abandoned by the child who is doing what she should be doing as she launches into adulthood, which places a huge burden on the child and leaves the parent with a tremendous sense of loss. It might be helpful to consider that you would experience this kind of loss in your life as a parent at this point in your child’s development, regardless of whether your child came out as transgender.This leads to the third strand of your grief—loss of yourself. I get the sense that you put so much energy into being a mother that you lost other aspects of your life a long time ago—for example, your friendships, your interests outside of parenting, and a strong connection within your marriage. You say that your husband traveled and worked a lot while you were focused on raising your child, and now, while your child is doing the work of young adulthood—creating a life of her own—would be a good time for you to find meaning in those potentially neglected aspects of your own life. You might rekindle friendships, explore your passions and interests, and connect more deeply than you have in a long while with the person who could truly become your best friend—your husband.For instance, instead of asking your husband to meet your needs by abdicating any of his own, which probably feels lonely to both of you, you might explore why you two aren’t talking about what’s going on. You say you know how he feels—that he isn’t experiencing the grief that you are—but I don’t think you know how he feels about you and your grief. Maybe he feels helpless or frustrated or sad. Or maybe he does share some of your experience but believes, as some husbands do, that he needs to be the “rock” of the family, and therefore doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his true feelings with you. The point is that as you develop a deeper connection with your husband to meet some of your very human need for closeness, you’ll be able to welcome your child’s move toward becoming her true self separate from you.Working through your feelings may take some time, but by detangling the various strands of your losses, you’ll get a gain in return—a sense of peace with yourself, your husband, and, of course, your daughter.Dear Therapist is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let The Atlantic use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.
Democrats Want to Legalize Marijuana. Joe Biden Doesn’t.
Democratic political consultants dream of issues like marijuana legalization. Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of it, polls show. So are independents. A majority of Republicans favor it now too. It motivates progressives, young people, and Black Americans to vote. Put it on the ballot, and it’s proved a sure way to boost turnout for supportive politicians. It’s popular in key presidential-election states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Virginia. There’s no clear political downside—although marijuana legalization motivates its supporters, it doesn’t motivate its opponents. For the Democratic presidential nominee, the upsides of supporting it would include energizing a very committed group of single-issue voters and making a major move toward criminal-justice reform and the Bernie Sanders agenda.Joe Biden won’t inhale.Democrats eager for Biden to support legalization have theories about why he won’t. His aides insist they’re all wrong. It’s not, they say, because he’s from a generation scared by Reefer Madness. It’s not, they say, because he spent a career in Washington pushing for mandatory minimum sentencing and other changes to drug laws. It’s definitely not, according to people who have discussed the policy with him, because he’s a teetotaler whose father battled alcoholism and whose son has fought addiction, and who’s had gateway-drug anxieties drilled into him.With legalization seeming such an obvious political win, all that’s stopping Biden, current and former aides say, is public health. He’s read the studies, or at least, summaries of the studies (campaign aides pointed me to this one). He wants to see more. He’s looking for something definitive to assure him that legalizing won’t lead to serious mental or physical problems, in teens or adults.America appears to be moving on without him, and so are the future leaders of his party.If Biden really has his eyes on public health, he should think about how many Black people end up in jail for marijuana sale and possession, argues Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba—a young Black progressive who oversaw local decriminalization in his city in 2018. Biden should also think about how an illicit, unregulated market is leading to the drug being laced with other chemicals, and the health effects of that, Lumumba told me. If Biden thinks marijuana is addictive, he said, then he should explain what makes it worse than alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Legalization is a necessary part of criminal-justice reform, Lumumba said. “I would encourage him and his campaign more broadly to do more research on some of the finer points,” he added.Alternatively, John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, says Biden should think about how legalization could raise tax revenue in the post-pandemic economy of state budget deficits. “What better time than now to have that conversation?” Fetterman told me. Before the coronavirus outbreak, Fetterman spent a year traveling his state, including areas that mostly voted for Trump in 2016, proselytizing “commonsense” legalization. There’s even more reason to agree with him now, he said. “It’s the ultimate policy and financial low-hanging fruit,” he said. “If you’re not moved by the gross racial disparities, what state doesn’t need a couple hundred million more in revenue at this point?”[Read: America’s invisible pot addicts]Amid the criticism that Biden hasn’t taken a definitive stance on legalization, it’s easy to lose track of how far ahead he is of any other major-party presidential nominee in history in terms of changing marijuana policy. He’d decriminalize use, which would mean fines instead of jail time, and move to expunge records for using. He’d remove federal enforcement in states that have legalized the drug. That’s further, by far, than Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, has gone. But Biden would keep marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same category as heroin. Nor would he move to take it off the illegal-drugs schedule entirely, so that federal law would treat it the way it does alcohol or nicotine.John Morgan, a Florida Biden donor and a major proponent of legalization in his state, is a proud user of marijuana, and told me he knows many Democrats and Republicans who are too. He’s been able to get Ron DeSantis, his state’s Republican governor and a big Trump ally, on board with legalization. Morgan said that when he broached the issue briefly with Biden last year ahead of hosting a fundraiser for him, the candidate responded, “‘I know where you are on this.’ I just took it to be as You know where I am on this.”Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a pro-legalization lobbying group, told me that although his organization heard from several of the other leading Democratic presidential campaigns last year, it never got a call from the Biden team.Biden’s resistance is particularly frustrating for those who remember how he was a pioneer in standing up for legalizing same-sex marriage, the biggest recent issue on which laws suddenly flipped to catch up to changing views. Maybe, one person who’s spoken with Biden theorized, the difference is that he knew gay people, but believes—almost certainly falsely—that he doesn’t know people who regularly use marijuana.That’s a bad guess too, Biden aides told me.“As science ends up with more conclusive evidence regarding the impact of marijuana, I think he would look at that data. But he’s being asked to make a decision right now. This is where the science guides him,” Stef Feldman, Biden’s policy director, explained to me. “When he looked to put down his position on marijuana in writing for the purposes of the campaign, he asked for an update on where science was today. He didn’t ask for an update on what views and science said 20 years ago. He wanted to know what was the best information we know now. And that is what he made his decision on.”[Read: What Americans don’t know about Joe Biden]This can seem both perfectly reasonable and a ridiculous excuse. There isn’t some conclusive study about health effects that Biden is ignoring, but one is also not likely to emerge anytime soon. And though they insist this is all about health, other ripples from legalization are on the minds of institutionalists like Biden and his close advisers: trade deals that require both sides to keep marijuana illegal would have to be rewritten, half a century of American pressure on other countries about their drug policies would be reversed, and hard-line police unions would have to be convinced that he wasn’t just giving in to stoners.Realistically, marijuana isn’t a priority right now for the campaign. Legalization is at once too small an issue for Biden’s tiny team to focus on and too large an issue to take a stand on without fuller vetting. And it comes with a frustration among people close to Biden, who point out that liberals talk about trusting science on everything from climate change to wearing masks—and, notably, wanted vaping restricted because the health effects were unclear—but are willing to let that standard slide here because they want marijuana to be legal.Biden’s compromise: going right to the edge of legalization, while appointing a criminal-justice task force for his campaign whose members have each supported at least some approach to legalization. But that sort of signaling doesn’t get people to the polls. “Being cute is fine. Being bold is motivating,” Ben Wessel, the director of NextGen America, a group focused on boosting political involvement among younger voters, told me.“If Biden said he wants to legalize marijuana tomorrow, it would help him get reluctant young voters off the fence and come home to vote for Biden—especially Bernie [Sanders] supporters, especially young people of color who have been screwed by a criminal-justice system that treats them unfairly on marijuana issues,” Wessel told me. Publicly supporting marijuana legalization would be an easy, attention-grabbing move, and might help many Sanders diehards get past the fact that he’s not where they want him to be on the rest of their candidate’s democratic-socialist agenda.Altieri, the pro-marijuana lobbyist, said coming up with a legalization policy wouldn’t take much work: Sanders had one, as did Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Andrew Yang. Or Biden could check in with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who wrote a legalization bill based on the argument that legalization is essential to the criminal-justice-reform conversation. Altieri is not impressed with how little Biden has moved so far. “Where he’s at now would have been maybe a bold stance in 1988. It’s not much of one in 2020,” he told me.In 2018, top Democrats credited a legalization ballot initiative in Michigan with boosting turnout and producing the biggest blue wave in the country—winning races for governor, Senate, attorney general, and secretary of state, along with flipping two congressional seats and multiple state-legislature seats. A ballot initiative is expected for the fall in Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, and possibly Montana. Anyone who believes—hopefully, or out of cynical political calculation—that Biden will announce some big change in his thinking, aides told me, will be disappointed.Just do it, Fetterman said: Do it, if only to secure Pennsylvania’s electoral votes and get that much closer to the White House. “If Joe Biden’s account tweeted out ‘Legal. Weed.,’ it would get a million likes in the first two hours. I guarantee it. And no one’s going to accuse Uncle Joe of being a pothead,” Fetterman told me. “If you think weed is the devil’s tobacco, you ain’t voting for Biden anyway.”
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Ghislaine Maxwell arrest: FBI reportedly almost blew cover by lying to neighbor
The FBI agents who arrested Ghislaine Maxwell last week almost blew their cover when they lied to a neighbor who complained about noise from spy planes buzzing overheard, according to a report. A local told the UK’s Mirror that aircraft had been circling over the disgraced British socialite’s 156-acre hideaway in New Hampshire beginning before...
MLB 1994: How might the Montreal Expos have altered history with a full season?
If a strike hadn't canceled the 1994 World Series, baseball would be quite different today. What might have happened had the Expos won it all?
Several men taunt black family at Oregon beach, police say
Officers say the mean used racial slurs and Nazi salute, then challenged police who came to fight and set off illegal fireworks .
Blame Institutions, Not Individuals
Reopening is a mess. Photographs of crowds jostling outside bars, patrons returning to casinos, and a tightly packed, largely maskless audience listening to President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore all show the U.S. careening back to pre-coronavirus norms. Meanwhile, those of us watching at home are like the audience of a horror movie, yelling “Get out of there!” at our screens. As despair rises, the temptation to shame people who fail at social distancing becomes difficult to resist.But Americans’ disgust should be aimed at governments and institutions, not at one another. Individuals are being asked to decide for themselves what chances they should take, but a century of research on human cognition shows that people are bad at assessing risk in complex situations. During a disease outbreak, vague guidance and ambivalent behavioral norms will lead to thoroughly flawed thinking. If a business is open but you would be foolish to visit it, that is a failure of leadership.Since March, Americans have lived under a simple instruction: Stay home. Now, even as case counts spike in states such as Arizona, Florida, and Texas, many other states continue to ease restrictions on businesses, and suddenly the burden is on individuals to engage in some of the most frustrating and confounding cost-benefit analyses of their life. Pandemic decision making implicates at least two complex cognitive tasks: moral reasoning and risk evaluation.[Julia Marcus: The dudes who won’t wear masks]My academic subspecialty is the psychology of judgment and decision making. The foundational experiment in this discipline began with the prompt: “Imagine that the United States is preparing for an outbreak of an unusual Asian disease.” (The glibly xenophobic use of “Asian” as a shortcut to inducing fear and confusion is a subject for another article.) The experiment asked participants to choose between two public-health policies: In option A, one-third of the population survives for sure, but no one else makes it; in option B, there is a one-third chance that all survive, but a two-thirds chance that none do. For some participants, these options were described in terms of how many lives would be saved; for others, how many would die. Participants consistently chose option A, which offered certainty, if they were thinking in terms of potential gains (saving lives) but option B, which involved more risk, if they were thinking about potential losses (dying). A weighty decision was swayed dramatically by the semantic framing. (This observation earned one of the experimenters the Nobel Prize for economics.)The cognitive-science canon is replete with uncanny predictions relevant to the coronavirus era. Researchers have studied the human tendency to discount preventable harms that arise from nature and to overreact to harms that arise from human action. The literature predicts that people will take comfort when a coronavirus fatality is attributed to “underlying conditions”—for instance, a patient’s age or chronic maladies—that they do not share, and they will be tempted by the quick dopamine hit associated with shaming those who fail at social distancing. Cognitive scientists even have experiments to explain the “declining marginal disutility” that people associate with others’ deaths—the feeling that the difference between no deaths and one death is really bad, but the difference between 110,000 and 111,000 deaths is negligible. Evocatively termed “psychophysical numbing,” this confounding juxtaposition of the mathematical and the existential is where Americans live now.[Read: Humans are too optimistic to comprehend the coronavirus]As states gradually reopen, seemingly simple judgments are likely to grow more fraught. What does six feet between people look like? The literature suggests that I am more confident I’m six feet away from a friend than from a stranger, that I’m more likely to blame people not of my race for standing too close, that I overestimate my compliance with public-health guidance but underestimate yours. Humans have difficulty calculating exponents, which is particularly crucial to understanding the speed of disease spread. They struggle to estimate the correct answer to a problem without drifting toward the answer that best serves their own interest. With more freedom of movement, Americans also have more opportunities to make judgments of others—who always seem to be doing it wrong. How can people be sitting in groups, chatting, at an outdoor bar? Who would take their kid to swim in a public pool? Are you inviting those people inside your house?Even when shamers have the risk calculus right, social-distancing shaming is still useless or even harmful to society. Each judgment is a chance not just to get the math wrong, but to let indignation outstrip empathy. Living in a dense, diverse city, I know that I place moral and practical value on playgrounds, parks, and, indeed, protest marches that I might have viewed as indulgences were I still living in my hometown in rural Maine. Individual citizens—citizens facing a range of permissible options, receiving confusing public-health messaging, triaging competing ethical commitments—are not the best targets of our practical and moral concern. Even within academic psychology, scholars are prone to focusing on individuals who make suboptimal choices—workers who do not save, or employees who choose bad retirement investments. In the pandemic, this urge is a red herring; it is too easy to focus on people making bad choices rather than on people having bad choices. People should practice humility regarding the former and voice outrage about the latter.[Derek Thompson: Social distancing is not enough]At the least, government agencies must promulgate clear, explicit norms and rules to facilitate cooperative choices. Most people congregating in tight spaces are telling themselves a story about why what they are doing is okay. Such stories flourish under confusing or ambivalent norms. People are not irrevocably chaotic decision makers; the level of clarity in human thinking depends on how hard a problem is. I know with certainty whether I’m staying home, but the confidence interval around “I am being careful” is really wide. Concrete guidance makes challenges easier to resolve. If masks work, states and communities should require them unequivocally. Cognitive biases are the reason to mark off six-foot spaces on the supermarket floor or circles in the grass at a park.For social-distancing shaming to be a valuable public-health tool, average citizens should reserve it for overt defiance of clear official directives—failure to wear a mask when one is required—rather than mere cases of flawed judgment. In the meantime, money and power are located in public and private institutions that have access to public-health experts and the ability to propose specific behavioral norms. The bad judgments that really deserve shaming include the failure to facilitate testing, failure to protect essential workers, failure to release larger numbers of prisoners from facilities that have become COVID-19 hot spots, and failure to create the material conditions that permit strict isolation. America’s half-hearted reopening is a psychological morass, a setup for defeat that will be easy to blame on irresponsible individuals while culpable institutions evade scrutiny.
AP Top Stories July 6
Here's the latest for Monday, July 6th: Florida counts 200,000 coronavirus cases; Planes collide over lake in Idaho; Body of missing Ft. Hood soldier identified; Brush fire north of Los Angeles.
On This Day: 6 July 1978
Richard Burton movie "The Wild Geese" had a royal premiere in London. (July 6)
Messi will finish career at Barcelona, says club president
Lionel Messi wants to stay with Barcelona until the end of his career, says club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Lionel Messi will finish his career at Barcelona, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu
Lionel Messi wants to stay with Barcelona until the end of his career, says club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, amid rumors the star is unsettled.
Messi will finish his career at Barcelona, club president says
Lionel Messi wants to stay with Barcelona until the end of his career, says club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, amid rumors the star is unsettled.
LA County sets new record for daily coronavirus cases, health officials say
Los Angeles County saw a record 3,187 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, according to health officials.
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Mexico's President Weathers A Torrent Of Criticism Over Meeting With Trump
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's critics say he's making a mistake by going to Washington, and is giving in to the U.S. president's whims. But Lopez Obrador says, "We are going ... with our heads high."
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Spain's coronavirus antibodies study adds evidence against herd immunity
Spain's large-scale study on the coronavirus indicates just 5% of its population has developed antibodies, strengthening evidence that a so-called herd immunity to Covid-19 is "unachievable," the medical journal the Lancet reported on Monday.
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Spain's antibodies study adds evidence against herd immunity
Spain's large-scale study on the coronavirus indicates just 5% of its population has developed antibodies, strengthening evidence that a so-called herd immunity to Covid-19 is "unachievable," the medical journal the Lancet reported on Monday.
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Pakistan's top health official tests positive for coronavirus
• Africa's battle against Covid-19 will be won or lost here • Ending coronavirus pandemic could cause over 1 million extra deaths from other diseases
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Gingrich and Rep. Reed: Cuomo's coronavirus nursing home disaster – Hold governor accountable
No one has been able to elicit an explanation from Gov. Cuomo on the decisions behind New York state’s disastrous nursing home policies during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Ranking the NFL’s most dynamic skill-position trios
Before fantasy football judged NFL teams by their quarterback-running back-wide receiver combinations, the Cowboys set the bar. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were dubbed “The Triplets” on the way to three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Ever since, trios are a measure of explosiveness. The Post ranked the 16 most dynamic “triplets” in...
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López Obrador heading to Washington to meet Trump amid controversy
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's first foreign trip stirs controversy on both sides of the border.
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'Almost like a social pandemic': As states pause reopenings, experts warn of more confusion, isolation, agitation
At least 21 states have halted their plans to reopen as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. What does that mean for people's mental outlook?       
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Dear Care and Feeding: My Grandson Is Visited by a Spooky Lady Every Night
Parenting advice on spooky ghost ladies, dangerous dogs, and reporting childhood abuse.
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Unbundling the Police in Venice Beach, California
Almost seven years ago I rented an old house in Venice Beach, California, on Rose Avenue near Groundwork Coffee, where baristas sold T-shirts that said Venice: Where Art Meets Crime. In three minutes, I could walk to the corner of Lincoln Avenue, where there was a Whole Foods, a 99 Cents Only store, a check-cashing spot, two gas stations, a Oaxacan taco truck, and a Mexican restaurant, Casablanca, where a retired accountant named Chip made L.A.’s best margaritas. LAPD alerts about where crime was most likely to happen, based on a predictive analysis, often flagged the stretch between Chip’s margarita cart and my front door, even as neighborhood rents skyrocketed and median home prices surpassed $2 million.On those few blocks I saw a knife fight, a hit-and-run, car windows busted by smash-and-grab thieves, a heroin overdose, men shouting threats at passersby, perhaps two dozen late-night domestic disputes, and all manner of drunk or disorderly behavior. And I saw an LAPD officer kill a homeless 41-year-old white man named Jason Davis. That I couldn’t stop that killing still bothers me.In recent weeks, the protests over the killing of George Floyd have provoked an unusually wide-ranging debate about how to respond to police violence. Earmark funds for reform? Defund the police? Abolish them? Those years living in Venice and observing its street life convinced me that, at least in my old neighborhood, the best way forward is to “unbundle the police.”[Tracey L. Meares and Tom R. Tyler: The first step is figuring out what police are for]As my colleague Derek Thompson explained recently, big-city policing is “a bundle of services,” many of which have little to do with violent crime. In other neighborhoods, the most consequential sort of unbundling might involve charging an entity other than the police with enforcing traffic laws or maintaining the safety of public-school students. In Venice, a 3.17-square-mile neighborhood of Los Angeles covered by the LAPD, it would involve a new approach to engaging the homeless population and people experiencing a mental-health crisis. “More than one out of three times that a Los Angeles police officer used force in recent months involved a person experiencing homelessness,” the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year. Roughly a quarter of the homeless population suffers from serious mental-health problems. On Rose Avenue, mental health, homelessness, or the combination of both seemed tied to most disorder I saw.Venice Beach is far safer now than it was in the high-crime 1990s, when the Los Angeles Times characterized its residents as “trapped by terror” amid “the most intense gang war raging in Los Angeles.” In 1994, a “mushrooming yearlong conflict” involving gang members from Venice, Culver City, Mar Vista, and Santa Monica took the lives of 17 people, the newspaper reported, “many of them innocent victims.” At least 50 other people were wounded by gunfire. By the time I moved to the neighborhood, in 2013, the crime rate had plummeted; Venice went without a murder from November 18, 2013, to May 11, 2015. Few residents worried about gangs. Instead, they worried about the homeless population, especially after, in a matter of months, at least five homeless men perpetrated break-ins while residents were home. One young actress awoke to a drug-addled man in her house. Half-dressed, she fled onto her roof, where she cowered under eaves to hide as the intruder tried to find her. Passersby looked up at the scene in horror. By 2015 assaults and property crime were up. The cops blamed a huge influx of people in their teens or early-to-mid-20s who came to Venice to live on the streets in a place with good weather, a famous beach, and easy access to drugs. They would get off the bus on Lincoln Avenue and walk down Rose toward the sand.During these same years, Rose was changing from a quasi-residential street with a half-dozen businesses into a bustling commercial strip with pricey restaurants, boutiques, a fancy ice-cream shop, hair salons, a yoga studio, and a purveyor of $12 cold-pressed juices. Every day brought fraught interactions among residents, visitors to local businesses, and the area’s homeless men and women. Many nights, as I worked by the window facing the street, I overheard the snores of people sleeping in cars and altercations on the benches outside Groundwork.Questions about whether and when to call the cops were unavoidable. I was painfully aware of how badly encounters with cops could end, especially when people with mental-health issues were involved. But I also worried about failing to summon help that could stop a fight before it turned deadly or spare someone from being assaulted or save a person in crisis from an overdose. If a man was breaking beer bottles on the sidewalk or defecating on the curb in front of my house or shouting expletives for two hours straight, that didn’t meet my threshold––but I didn’t know where my neighbors had set their limit.[Read: Nobody knows what to do about L.A.’s homelessness crisis]What about a man shouting, “I’m going to rape you!,” or, “I’m going to kill you!”? I heard both without calling the cops, because, in context, the yeller didn’t seem to mean it. Another time, when a homeless woman kept screaming, “Call 911, she’s going to kill me!,” I obliged. The police came and deftly broke up a conflict with another homeless woman that didn’t seem dangerous in hindsight. Still, on many nights I wanted someone other than the cops to call. I searched for alternatives and found, to my surprise, that the L.A. County Department of Mental Health maintains a 1-800 number, 24/7, and can deploy “response teams,” sometimes alongside police.On June 10, 2015, I published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times urging Angelenos to consider that alternative to calling 911. Most people had never heard of it, and I don’t think my article changed that.A few weeks later, on July 13, I was walking my dog back from the park when I sensed something amiss as I reached the corner of Rose and Bernard Avenue. Looking left, I saw an LAPD officer standing in the middle of my street, in front of Groundwork, with his gun drawn. It was pointed at a white man holding a box cutter. I watched the police officer shoot the man without fully realizing what was happening––as the man crumpled to the ground, I thought he had only been Tasered.His name was Jason Davis. Earlier that day he’d entered the outdoor patio of Groundwork, where the staff is generally adept at handling disruptive people. According to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office report, Davis looked disheveled and was drinking out of a bottle filled with dirty water blackened by cigarette butts. He was left alone until he began to vomit. When a manager asked if he was okay, he became verbally aggressive. Someone said he had a knife. The manager cleared the patio. Someone called 911. Davis refused to leave and told bystanders, “Film my death for YouTube. This is the day I’m going to die.” He told another employee, “You’re going to watch me die and it’s your fault.”Two LAPD officers, Ryan Connell and Ivan Lombard-Jackson, responded to the call. According to the DA’s report, the officers found Davis in the patio area holding a box cutter with the blade exposed and ordered him to drop it while standing approximately 10-to-15 feet away. One officer held a Taser, the other a gun. After multiple commands to drop the blade, Davis reportedly stood up and yelled, “Today is the day that you motherfuckers are going to kill me!” Perhaps if the cops had simply left right then, no harm would have come to anyone, but they didn’t have that option. They are the people others call to handle problems that they could not or did not resolve.I came on the scene right then. “Connell again ordered Davis to drop the knife, but Davis walked toward him with it raised over his head,” the DA’s report states. “Lombard-Jackson fired his Taser at Davis’ chest, activating a five-second burst. Davis was stunned by the Taser but continued to approach Connell with the box cutter raised over his head. In fear for his life, Connell fired two rounds from his service weapon at Davis from a distance of approximately eight feet.” I didn’t think that he got quite that close. Davis was struck in the stomach and collapsed, bleeding. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead hours later. According to the same report, “Davis had a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He attempted suicide on three occasions in 1993. In 2000, Davis told his mother he was going to commit ‘suicide by cop’ but she was able to successfully intervene by calling the police.”That shooting weighed on me, and does still. I’d watched many police killings on YouTube for work, often with anguish, but seeing a shooting in person was more affecting than I had anticipated. Could an unarmed person trained in managing mental-health crises have resolved the problem without violence? Maybe so, I thought, and not for the first time. Earlier in 2015, Brendon Glenn, a homeless black man, had been shot to death by the LAPD on the other side of Venice after a series of altercations with restaurant employees. “LAPD Chief Charlie Beck took the unprecedented step of publicly recommending that prosecutors charge the officer with manslaughter,” The Argonaut, a local newspaper, later reported.If the LAPD’s presence often seemed to create more danger or violence than it discouraged or averted, that wasn’t the whole story. In 2015, a hotel owner and a gang member named Francisco Cardenaz Guzman had a heated argument near Rose and Ocean Front Walk with a group of homeless men congregating by his hotel’s entrance. A 26-year-old homeless man nicknamed “Shakespeare” tried to intervene as a peacemaker and was shot to death by Guzman, who then fled the scene in an SUV. Guzman said he was defending his neighborhood and was later convicted of murder. Would the altercation and the murder have been avoided had the hotel owner called the cops to disperse the loitering men? The LAPD was certainly useful in finding and arresting Guzman, who is now locked up in prison.[Annie Lowrey: Defund the police]The status quo in Venice doesn’t work. Pedestrians avoid whole blocks—3rd Street between Rose and Sunset Avenue, Hampton Drive between Rose and Marine Street—as tent encampments expand. Women are sexually harassed when they go out for a jog. Chop shops for stolen bicycles operate openly on street corners. Residents wake up to human waste deposited on their front lawn or outside their alley-facing garage doors. At least until Los Angeles solves its homelessness problem, the most disruptive transients will continue to have confrontations with residents and businesses.Many residents will keep clamoring for more police officers, citing fear of building and car break-ins, fights among homeless people, aggressive panhandling, syringes littering rain gutters, and sidewalk-blocking tents that force folks into the street as they walk their kids to school. Business owners will keep relying on police to respond when someone pulls out a box cutter, or enters a restaurant dining room and starts shouting racial slurs at patrons, or picks up a metal chair and throws it into the plate-glass window of an architecture office, or uses the front garden of a plant store as a dog run for three uncollared pit bulls. (I saw all of that on Rose Avenue.) And residents and business owners will continue to be upset if the LAPD fails to arrive quickly or to solve the problem or goes about solving it in a way that seems needlessly harsh or at odds with the neighborhood’s bohemian self-image.Abolishing the LAPD would likely make the situation in Venice worse, not better. Some business owners and residents would use guns or other weapons to handle their own disputes. Perhaps residents would band together to hire private security guards, some armed. Outside such zones of control, where people would protect themselves commensurate with their ability to pay, I suspect that street harassment and crime would spike and some number of residents would once again feel “trapped by terror” while others fled to someplace with more cops, fewer transients, or both of those qualities. I suspect that homeless people, already at heightened risk of violence, would suffer more than most residents.What could reduce both police violence and crime in Venice is hiring people other than the police to reach out to homeless or distressed people and to resolve incidents without violence whenever possible. Calling the cops should be a measure of last resort, not a first attempt at finding outside help.The health department’s 1-800 number is better than nothing, but it leaves a lot to be desired. When you call, you get a menu of options to navigate before reaching an operator and then a hold cue. The public-health system just isn’t built to match the speed or volume of 911. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the majority of residents default to that universally known, better staffed, and impossible-to-forget number. The local government has tried to improve the 911 system to better handle mental illness: A “co-responder” program under the auspices of the LAPD currently has 17 “mixed” teams that include police officers and L.A. County Department of Mental Health staff. That, too, is better than nothing, but to put those 17 teams in context, the LAPD has roughly 9,000 total sworn officers––one for every 433 residents, which is one of the lowest ratios among major cities in the U.S.Besides, the fix I’m envisioning wouldn’t just send people parachuting into Venice in a crisis involving the mentally ill. What I have in mind is a network of trained city employees who walk a neighborhood beat, learn its characters, and preempt trouble.[Read: Who will hold the police accountable?]Like the police, but also like lifeguards and firefighters and paramedics, these helpers would be obligated to assist in fraught situations, especially involving mental illness and people living on the streets. And they’d make a point of knowing merchants and residents, including homeless people. Unlike the cops, their tool kit would not include violence. They would never shoot, Taser, punch, strike, or arrest anyone. Even if just as many cops were employed, this new resource would reduce police interactions and could conceivably pay for itself by reducing break-ins and car vandalism and bicycle thefts and emergency-room visits and jail occupancies. After the 2015 police killing of Brendon Glenn in Venice, the man’s family secured a $4 million settlement from the city. Averting just one incident like that would save a life and pay for a lot of helpers.Venice is crowded with people in need of one type of help or another. Many of them are disinclined to seek it from the LAPD. Let’s put unarmed helpers on the streets and study what happens.
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Australia to seal off 6.6 million people in virus-hit state as outbreak worsens
Australia will isolate 6.6 million people in the state of Victoria from the rest of the nation at midnight on Tuesday, as authorities take drastic action to control a coronavirus outbreak in the city of Melbourne.
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David Mitchell’s New Novel Offers a Slice of Paradise
Utopia Avenue shows the Cloud Atlas author is best when he stays grounded.
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