Man on the Spot #53: Generatation later, educating the poor and the tobacco fields
For years, public health experts and federal labor officials have sought to bar teenagers under 16 from the tobacco fields, citing the grueling hours and the harmful exposure to nicotine and other chemicals, but their efforts have been blocked. Three years ago, Hilda Solis, then the labor secretary, proposed declaring work in tobacco fields and with tractors hazardous — making that type of work illegal for those under 16. Opponents of child labor note that Brazil, India and some other tobacco-producing nations already prohibit anyone under 18 from working on tobacco farms.
The admitting-privilege provision has already forced numerous clinics in Texas to close. In part because of the rule, the number of facilities providing abortions in Texas has fallen to 19, from 41 in November 2012. “Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand,” he wrote, the impact, between long travel times and other practical impediments many women face, would be as drastic as “a complete ban on abortion.”
SEPT. 8, 2014 David Leonhardt
Vassar, the once all-female college in the Hudson River Valley, tops our index, with Grinnell placing second. About 23 percent of Vassar’s freshmen in recent years have received federal Pell grants (which mean they come from roughly the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution), up from 12 percent in 2007. After taking scholarships into account, the average annual cost of attending Vassar for lower-income students is about $6,000. Students cover much of that cost through campus jobs and loans.
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA AUG. 25, 2014
As the shaded quadrangles of the nation’s elite campuses stir to life for the start of the academic year, they remain bastions of privilege. Amid promises to admit more poor students, top colleges educate roughly the same percentage of them as they did a generation ago. This is despite the fact that there are many high school seniors from low-income homes with top grades and scores: twice the percentage in the general population as at elite colleges.
So while the number of families living on less than $2 per person per day doubled between 1996 and 2011, according to the National Poverty Center, it tripled among families headed by a lone woman.
SEPT. 9, 2014 Frank Bruni
I worry about the combustible tension between our abysmal regard for the Congress that we’ve got and a near certainty that the Congress we’re about to get will be its spit and image: familiar faces, timeworn histrionics, unending paralysis. Our history is such that we just keep returning the incumbents; our system is such that insurgents are few and far between. They lack the money, and politics is increasingly about money. They lack name recognition, and it’s the era of celebrity.
The hundreds of thousands of wasted Democratic votes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh typify the electoral challenge facing House Democrats, which has become more pronounced during the Obama years. Mr. Obama’s strengths among nonwhite and young voters allowed him to build overwhelming margins in heavily populated urban areas, wasting more Democratic votes. In fact, nearly all of Mr. Obama’s gains over Al Gore’s showing in 2000 came from 68 metropolitan counties that already leaned Democratic. The rest of the country, in the aggregate, barely budged.
By ERWIN CHEMERINSKY AUG. 26, 2014
IRVINE, Calif. — LAST week, a grand jury was convened in St. Louis County, Mo., to examine the evidence against the police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and to determine if he should be indicted. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. even showed up to announce a separate federal investigation, and to promise that justice would be done. But if the conclusion is that the officer, Darren Wilson, acted improperly, the ability to hold him or Ferguson, Mo., accountable will be severely restricted by none other than the United States Supreme Court.
AUG. 26, 2014 Maureen Dowd
WASHINGTON — As he has grown weary of Washington, Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose. He left the explaining and selling of his signature health care legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn’t bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, comes across as more than a messagemeister. As the president floats in the empyrean, Rhodes seems to make foreign policy even as he’s spinning it.
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF SEPT. 6, 2014
IN my column a week ago, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” I took aim at what I called “smug white delusion” about race relations in America, and readers promptly fired back at what they perceived as a smugly deluded columnist. Readers grudgingly accepted the grim statistics I cited — such as the wealth disparity between blacks and whites in America today exceeding what it was in South Africa during apartheid — but many readers put the blame on African-Americans themselves.
By NIKITA STEWART AUG. 19, 2014
Thousands of teenagers are arrested on minor crimes each year, charged as adults if they are 16 or 17 and placed at Rikers, Mr. Stringer said. On any given day, one in four teenage inmates is in solitary confinement, he added. “This jail system is completely broken; we need to have a stronger response,” he said. “A federal, state and city response so that those kids in jail on low-level crimes are not at risk. We expect them to be treated as human beings.”
MAPLEWOOD, Mo. — On Monday night, just a few hours after Michael Brown was laid to rest, an amiable judge sat in the City Council chambers here and weighed in on the traffic violations and petty crimes, one by one, of more than a hundred people. At least two-thirds of those waiting were black, roughly a reverse racial image of the demographics of Maplewood itself.
By FRANCES ROBLES SEPT. 8, 2014
Municipal court fines are the city’s second-highest source of revenue, leading many critics to argue that the authorities had a financial incentive to issue tickets and then impose more fees on those who did not pay. Young black men in Ferguson and surrounding cities routinely find themselves passed from jail to jail as they are picked up on warrants for unpaid fines, one of the many simmering issues here that helped set off almost two weeks of civil unrest after the teenager, Michael Brown, 18, was killed by a white Ferguson officer on Aug. 9.
WASHINGTON — “LAND OF THE FREE? Insane situation in the US right now,” blared the headline on the Murdoch-owned Australian news site News.com.au on Thursday. It continued, “COPS armed like military warriors. Reporters arrested in McDonald’s. Rubber bullets fired into crowds. Something scary’s happening in America.” Like the Australian site, the Russian outlet RT — which is funded and largely controlled by the Kremlin and boasts a broad audience in the Global South — has published an array of stories with headlines emphasizing how extreme the Ferguson situation had become.
By JOE NOCERA SEPT. 5, 2014
The idea that football coaches, who run programs made up of maybe 200 people and generating at most $100 million (and that’s at the top) are comparable to public university presidents with budgets of $2 billion is just silly. But there is something apt about comparing them to chief executives. After all, in the land of the overpaid, chief executives are at the top of the heap.
By BRENDA SHAFFER SEPT. 9, 2014
Before the meeting, Moscow had been tightening its grip on the South Caucasus, with Armenia’s tacit support. Last fall, Armenia’s government gave up its ambitions to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union and announced that it would join Moscow’s customs union instead. Renewed open warfare would give Russia an excuse to send in more troops, under the guise of peacekeeping. Destabilizing the South Caucasus could also derail a huge gas pipeline project, agreed to last December, that might lighten Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD SEPT. 6, 2014
One medical specialist expects the detainees to need more medical care for chronic conditions as they age. But Congress’s ban on the sensible Guantánamo solution — transferring high-level detainees to better equipped, secure prisons in the United States — also includes a ban on sending extremely ill prisoners to the mainland for treatment. That means doctors and expensive equipment must be flown in to Guantánamo Bay when needed.
By ANDREW POLLACK AUG. 25, 2014
A federal judge in Hawaii has struck down a local ordinance that would have restricted or regulated the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops on the island of Kauai, saying the measure was pre-empted by state law.
He presented a city overrun with “squeegee people” and other panhandlers, with shootings on the rise and morale among police officers flagging. “The D.N.C. should choose another venue,” said the letter, which appeared as an advertisement in The New York Times and The New York Post. “Mayor de Blasio,” it continued, “has not earned the right to play host to such an important event.”