[ {"id":"69527eae-6aff-5927-bc95-a03a13353cad","type":"article","starttime":"1490751000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T18:30:00-07:00","sections":[{"commentary":"ap/commentary"},{"column":"news/opinion/column"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Caren Cooper: Citizen science builds democracy","url":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/article_69527eae-6aff-5927-bc95-a03a13353cad.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/caren-cooper-citizen-science-builds-democracy/article_69527eae-6aff-5927-bc95-a03a13353cad.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/caren-cooper-citizen-science-builds-democracy/article_69527eae-6aff-5927-bc95-a03a13353cad.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Caren Cooper\nLos Angeles Times","prologue":"Building networks, examining problems strengthens us.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["science","animals","democracy","government and politics"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99","description":"","byline":"Thinkstockphotos","hireswidth":1763,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d1/cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99/58544226025ee.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1140","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d1/cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99/585440c06b230.image.jpg?resize=1140%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d1/cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99/585440c06b230.image.jpg?crop=1763%2C991%2C0%2C91&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d1/cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99/585440c06b230.image.jpg?crop=1763%2C991%2C0%2C91&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d1/cd164316-ea9c-52d6-933f-0e07d8027c99/585440c06b230.image.jpg?crop=1763%2C991%2C0%2C91&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"69527eae-6aff-5927-bc95-a03a13353cad","body":"

Facts, and reality itself, are under attack. President Trump calls anthropogenic global warming \u2014 about which there is no scientific doubt \u2014 a hoax. Days before the Congressional Budget Office released its scorecard for the new health-care law, some politicians insisted that the nonpartisan numbers the agency produced could not be believed. Every day on cable TV, you can watch Americans go to war over what\u2019s real and what\u2019s fake.

Those alarmed by the battles and the prospect of drowning in bogus information are taking to the streets, calling their representatives in Washington and showing up at town hall meetings. But that sort of politicking may only serve to divide us further.

To combat the forces of anti-reality, there\u2019s a better, more unifying tool of civic engagement \u2014 citizen science.

The organized pursuit of science by amateurs is a little known but spectacularly successful phenomenon. Over time it has brought together people of all ages, creeds, backgrounds and political persuasions and enabled discoveries that were only made possible through their collective volunteer work.

Citizen science projects are run by university researchers, government agencies, conservation groups, medical centers and even prisons.

The volunteers classify images, transcribe museum archives, tag birds and insects, measure river flows and take on dozens of other tasks that help professional scientists answer a particular question, establish a pattern or test a hypothesis.

Many of the discoveries helped by citizen science upended persistent misinformation or even falsehoods taken as truths.

Sailing was hazardous for centuries because of misunderstandings of ocean currents. Then in the mid-1800s, sailors from more than a dozen countries recorded detailed observations of winds and currents. Their reports, collated by a Navy officer, launched the field of oceanography and resulted in charts that made sailing safer and faster for all.

For years, people wondered how monarch butterflies survived cold northern winters. To solve the mystery, teachers and students in the United States and Canada began capturing and tagging the insects in the 1950s. The work was finally rewarded in 1976, when a researcher spotted a tagged monarch in Mexico, revealing the insects\u2019 amazing 4,000-mile migration to the south.

In the early 2000s at North Carolina State University, where I now teach, biologists wanted to get a better handle on the bacteria we live with, especially the beneficial kind. The researchers mailed special cotton-swab kits to volunteers and asked them to sample specific parts of their homes. The swabs yielded a list of 7,726 types of bacteria, along with the news that a dog in the house increases its microbial count (which may explain why children with pet dogs have fewer allergies).

In 2014 in Flint, Mich., city officials told residents not worry about their discolored tap water. Skeptical Flint residents beset with illnesses initiated a partnership with scientists to examine the quality of their water. Their efforts proved that Flint tap water contained toxic levels of lead.

People get motivated to do things like swab their door frames out of simple curiosity or to solve a mystery. Their efforts can benefit society far beyond the data collected. Just as school activities, sports teams and community events build social capital and contribute to a functioning society, citizen science builds social-scientific capital \u2014 in other words, a fact-based populace.

Thomas Jefferson noted that seeking truth is intertwined with democracy. \u201cIf a nation expects to be ignorant and free, \u2026 it expects what never was or will be,\u201d he wrote in 1816.

Citizen science is a way to combat ignorance and to keep autocracy at bay. The more we encourage it \u2014 and the more we participate in it \u2014 the better our chances of achieving something we need now more than ever: a shared understanding of the world that will allow reality to prevail.

"}, {"id":"e6bb1266-af80-5d9c-94b7-5e5d19fb6a34","type":"article","starttime":"1490746366","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:12:46-07:00","lastupdated":"1490749255","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Trump slams brakes on Obama's climate plan, but there's still a long road ahead","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_e6bb1266-af80-5d9c-94b7-5e5d19fb6a34.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/trump-slams-brakes-on-obama-s-climate-plan-but-there/article_e6bb1266-af80-5d9c-94b7-5e5d19fb6a34.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/trump-slams-brakes-on-obamas-climate-plan-but-theres-still-a-long-road-ahead-75252","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Henrik Selin\nBoston University","prologue":"Henrik Selin, Boston University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","pollution laws and regulations","pollution","environmental concerns","environment","environment and nature","environmental laws and regulations","government regulations","government and politics","fossil fuel power generation","electric power generation","electric utilities","energy industry","business","utilities","supreme courts","national courts","courts","judiciary","national governments","foreign aid","international relations","environmental conservation and preservation","air pollution","air quality","treaties","international agreements","legislature","alternative and sustainable energy","energy and the environment","climate","environmental policy","government policy","climate change","production facilities","corporate news","foreign policy","emissions reduction","public opinion","social affairs"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"e6bb1266-af80-5d9c-94b7-5e5d19fb6a34","body":"

Henrik Selin, Boston University

(THE CONVERSATION) Badly looking for a political win that would both fulfill some campaign promises to his political base and satisfy the demands of rank-and-file Republicans in Congress, President Trump on March 28 signed an expansive Energy Independence and Economic Growth Executive Order.

The executive order signals a sharp shift in federal climate change rules, standards and work procedures. This was expected based on Trump\u2019s campaign rhetoric and his selection of Cabinet members and advisers. But as with other Trump White House initiatives, it is unclear how much change the administration can deliver and at what pace.

It took a long time for the Obama administration to formulate some of the central climate change rules now targeted by the Trump administration, and it will take years trying to change them. The signing of the executive order is just the administration\u2019s opening salvo in what is destined to become a protracted and high-stakes battle.

The Trump attack

Cloaked in unsubstantiated \u201cpro-growth\u201d rhetoric, the executive order targets the Obama administration\u2019s Clean Power Plan. It also focuses on mandates to cap methane emissions, looks to increase support for the extraction and use of coal and other fossil fuels, and changes the ways in which climate change concerns are embedded in actions by federal agencies (including taking into consideration the social cost of carbon).

The Clean Power Plan was designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants as well as to promote renewable energy production and greater energy efficiency. The Obama administration also set emissions standards for new power plants. These and other measures were issued in response to the unwillingness by the U.S. Congress to pass any separate climate change legislation.

Announced in August 2015, the Clean Power Plan was immediately challenged in court by a group of 29 states and state agencies with the support of a variety of firms and industry organizations, including Oklahoma while current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was the state\u2019s attorney general. The opponents argued the EPA had overstepped its regulatory authority with the new rules and they therefore should be struck down.

The Supreme Court in an unprecedented decision in February 2016 ordered the EPA to temporarily stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan until a lower-level court had made a ruling on the EPA\u2019s authority to set such standards. Oral hearings were held in the D.C. Circuit Court in September 2016, but a decision is still pending.

Because the EPA under Pruitt will review the Clean Power Plan and roll back other Obama initiatives, the executive order alters basic legal dynamics. Now, lawsuits making their way up the court system will change. Instead of challenging the Obama rules, suits will be aimed at forcing the Trump administration to either uphold them or take other forms of meaningful regulatory action.

Many states and environmental groups that support the Clean Power Plan and other existing measures stand ready with a lineup of lawyers to fight back. They will argue that the federal government must act based on a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision classifying CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and a 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding stating that current and projected atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Will we still always have Paris?

The executive order is silent on the Trump administration\u2019s intent vis-\u00e0-vis the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries agreed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. But it casts a long shadow both on the U.S. ability to meet its Paris goal and the future of U.S. international leadership on climate change.

The implementation of the Clean Power Plan is central to fulfilling U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement of reducing national GHG emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28 percent. By 2014, national emissions were down 9 percent compared with 2005 levels.

Electing to either leave or ignore the Paris Agreement would not provide the United States with more independence and flexibility, as it reduces its political influence and ability to shape future decisions in global climate negotiations.

There are other global environmental treaties around biodiversity protection and the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes to which the United States is not a party. As a result, the U.S. ability to influence regulatory decisions under these treaties is severely limited \u2013 for example, specific chemical compounds where there is a need to protect human health and the environment, or where U.S. firms have economic interests. This foreshadows the kind of outsider status that the United States may gain if it backs out of the Paris Agreement.

Notably, ceding international leadership on climate change may serve only to embolden other countries, including China, to take on a more prominent role at the expense of U.S. influence. It would also further increase many other countries\u2019 rapidly mounting frustration with the Trump administration.

Many different stakeholders, including ExxonMobil, argue that it is better for the United States to be on the inside rather than the outside when it comes to the future climate change cooperation. Former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested the U.S. should stay in the agreement.

US paying for assistance or ammunition?

Even if the United States stays with the Paris Agreement, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have made it clear they want to severely limit, or completely cut off, U.S. contributions to climate finance in support of mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries. The United States so far has provided US$1 billion of the $3 billion pledged by the Obama administration to the Green Climate Fund.

Carrying through on these statements by significantly reducing U.S. international assistance would effectively erode an important basis of U.S. political leadership and influence. But they appear to be part of a larger shift in the use of foreign policy instruments from nonmilitary means, such as climate and development aid, to military ones.

Trump\u2019s \u201cskinny budget\u201d proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA budget and a 29 percent reduction in funds for the State Department and other development programs. There is very little chance that Congress will approve such dramatic cuts, but these proposals tie in with what seems to be a broader change in U.S. foreign policy strategy.

As Trump proposed a 10 percent increase in the military budget, foreign policy experts worry that a significant cut in nonmilitary resources will severely undermine U.S. leadership and the ability by the State Department and other government agencies to promote U.S. interest and political stability.

The court of public opinion

As the battle over federal climate change policy continues, President Trump risks losing the public opinion battle on climate change beyond his most ardent base.

A recent poll shows that 75 percent of Americans believe that carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant and that 69 percent believe that there should be limits on emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

If such polling numbers remain strong, the Trump administration will be fighting an uphill battle in both courtrooms and the public sphere.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/trump-slams-brakes-on-obamas-climate-plan-but-theres-still-a-long-road-ahead-75252.

"}, {"id":"d34e299d-8213-54d4-8372-bb5f69456f42","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Different takes on 'Ouch/Oops'","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_d34e299d-8213-54d4-8372-bb5f69456f42.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-different-takes-on-ouch-oops/article_d34e299d-8213-54d4-8372-bb5f69456f42.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-different-takes-on-ouch-oops/article_d34e299d-8213-54d4-8372-bb5f69456f42.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Re: the March 26 article \u201cPander-monium at the University of Arizona\" and \"UA's 'ouch/oops' idea can lead to a hmm moment\" A remarkable Sunday newspaper: Two Daily Star columnists (Tim Steller and Jonathan Hoffman), independently writing on the same subject (UA\u2019s \u201cOuch/Oops\u201d), demonstrating a very different sense of journalist responsibilities. Both got wind of the new guidelines via conservative media sites, both read over the 20-page university document, but only one (Steller) made the extra effort to actually talk to someone in the know at UA.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"d34e299d-8213-54d4-8372-bb5f69456f42","body":"

Re: the March 26 article \u201cPander-monium at the University of Arizona\" and \"UA's 'ouch/oops' idea can lead to a hmm moment\"

A remarkable Sunday newspaper: Two Daily Star columnists (Tim Steller and Jonathan Hoffman), independently writing on the same subject (UA\u2019s \u201cOuch/Oops\u201d), demonstrating a very different sense of journalist responsibilities. Both got wind of the new guidelines via conservative media sites, both read over the 20-page university document, but only one (Steller) made the extra effort to actually talk to someone in the know at UA.

Remarkable how a simple conversation took the edge off of his preconceptions. Remarkable how the conversation gave Steller pause, and he took that moment to actually think about wisdom. I wish the world had more Steller moments like that.

Charles Gilmore

Southwest side

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Rejoice, Congressional Democrats held firm and President Trump credits Democrats for defeat of the health plan Republicans put forth to end the Affordable Care Act.

Wrong! The resounding victory belongs to the American people.

All across the nation the American people screamed, marched, petitioned and rallied to protect the health plan delivered by President Obama, against the 100 percent Republican opposition.

The good news is that children, seniors, disabled, and low-income adults will continue to have health care.

Individual states can keep federal financial support and maintain medical access for their needy citizens under state programs.

Doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers will not see the return of non-paying patients lined up at their doors waiting for medical attention.

It should be clear to the Republicans that their badly conceived health care plan and their actions to destroy the Obama health-care legacy are dead, now it is time to work to improve it.

Harvey Akeson

Northwest side

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Donald Trump said he would not accept the $400,000 presidential salary \u2014 he says he doesn't need it. Good, that's a lot of money to leave in the U.S. Treasury. Now he has changed his mind. He says he will take the salary and donate it to charity. Also good except for several reasons:

1. Taking the salary depletes the Treasury by the $400,000.

2. How can we be sure he makes the donation if he doesn't release his tax return?

3. The $400,000 donation, if claimed as a deduction, would reduce his tax liability by about $137,000 \u2014 further shorting the Treasury.

Pages one and two of the Trump's 2005 tax return reveals nothing about income sources nor details of financial holdings. There are no details of any charitable contributions made.

Dave Glicksman

Northwest side

"}, {"id":"b366156f-47b6-5a25-be29-38862fbc770d","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Excited for UA Wildcats, no matter what","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_b366156f-47b6-5a25-be29-38862fbc770d.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-excited-for-ua-wildcats-no-matter-what/article_b366156f-47b6-5a25-be29-38862fbc770d.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-excited-for-ua-wildcats-no-matter-what/article_b366156f-47b6-5a25-be29-38862fbc770d.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Twenty years ago after the Wildcats beat Providence to get to the Final Four, some folks were selling commemorative tee shirts on street corners. I decided to wait to get shirts after the Madness ended. And I did. I still have mine. That\u2019s how high our expectations seemed to have been: Great expectations leading to great disappointment all around town and far beyond, at least in those seasons when it\u2019s reasonable to believe that we have a team capable of going all the way. This year\u2019s team was one, but so was Villanova\u2019s.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"b366156f-47b6-5a25-be29-38862fbc770d","body":"

Twenty years ago after the Wildcats beat Providence to get to the Final Four, some folks were selling commemorative tee shirts on street corners. I decided to wait to get shirts after the Madness ended. And I did. I still have mine.

That\u2019s how high our expectations seemed to have been: Great expectations leading to great disappointment all around town and far beyond, at least in those seasons when it\u2019s reasonable to believe that we have a team capable of going all the way. This year\u2019s team was one, but so was Villanova\u2019s.

This team wasn't able to break zones consistently and most opponents used one against us, at least some of the time. And we were beaten Thursday by a very good team which left us discombobulated in the final minutes.

In spite of the heartbreak at the end \u2014 do we take the game too seriously? \u2014 this was a very good season, a great team and an excellent coach. I can hardly wait for fall.

Frank Bergen

Northeast side

"}, {"id":"3677aae2-0f5f-5286-8b6f-dddb6a901793","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Baby talk at the UA","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_3677aae2-0f5f-5286-8b6f-dddb6a901793.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-baby-talk-at-the-ua/article_3677aae2-0f5f-5286-8b6f-dddb6a901793.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-baby-talk-at-the-ua/article_3677aae2-0f5f-5286-8b6f-dddb6a901793.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"RE: the March 26 article \"UA's 'ouch/oops' idea can lead to a hmm moment\" That University of Arizona professors now need to entertain suggestions, which may eventually become directives, on how to play PC patty-cake with their students is a depressing commentary on campus intellectual life. The fact that the UA hired, in 2016, two Diversity and Inclusion honchos at a yearly cost of nearly half a million bucks to promulgate such officially sanctioned hooey is an instructive lesson concerning its administrative priorities.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"3677aae2-0f5f-5286-8b6f-dddb6a901793","body":"

RE: the March 26 article \"UA's 'ouch/oops' idea can lead to a hmm moment\"

That University of Arizona professors now need to entertain suggestions, which may eventually become directives, on how to play PC patty-cake with their students is a depressing commentary on campus intellectual life.

The fact that the UA hired, in 2016, two Diversity and Inclusion honchos at a yearly cost of nearly half a million bucks to promulgate such officially sanctioned hooey is an instructive lesson concerning its administrative priorities.

Tom Gelsinon


"}, {"id":"c3298a47-797e-5965-ab78-764675559420","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Trump should remember his Bible verses","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_c3298a47-797e-5965-ab78-764675559420.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-trump-should-remember-his-bible-verses/article_c3298a47-797e-5965-ab78-764675559420.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-trump-should-remember-his-bible-verses/article_c3298a47-797e-5965-ab78-764675559420.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Trump should remember his Bible verses President Trump, as a Christian, should read Proverbs 16:18. \"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.\" Walter Schoenheim Oro Valley","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"c3298a47-797e-5965-ab78-764675559420","body":"

Trump should remember his Bible verses

President Trump, as a Christian, should read Proverbs 16:18. \"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.\"

Walter Schoenheim

Oro Valley

"}, {"id":"f934fade-9d50-5259-a541-561d94803a50","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: UA diversity nonsense","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_f934fade-9d50-5259-a541-561d94803a50.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-ua-diversity-nonsense/article_f934fade-9d50-5259-a541-561d94803a50.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-ua-diversity-nonsense/article_f934fade-9d50-5259-a541-561d94803a50.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"The UA hires a Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and pays him $214,000 a year. For what? What does he do? Well, apparently he makes up games for teachers to use in the classroom to make students feel good about themselves and avoid any possibility of stress. For example, he promotes an \"ouch\" and \"oops\" game that is supposed to be played in university classrooms where, if a student is offended by another student's remark he says \"Ouch\" and the offending student must then say \"Oops.\" Swell. We did this in Kindergarten, didn't we?","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"f934fade-9d50-5259-a541-561d94803a50","body":"

The UA hires a Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and pays him $214,000 a year. For what? What does he do? Well, apparently he makes up games for teachers to use in the classroom to make students feel good about themselves and avoid any possibility of stress.

For example, he promotes an \"ouch\" and \"oops\" game that is supposed to be played in university classrooms where, if a student is offended by another student's remark he says \"Ouch\" and the offending student must then say \"Oops.\" Swell. We did this in Kindergarten, didn't we?

How has the university sunk to this level of vapidity? Well, I'll tell you. The UA is hampered by an administration that is top-heavy with people who get paid a lot for doing little that promotes instruction, learning and research.

Let teachers teach and let students learn to get along by working together. This is what happens in the real world.

William Gandy


"}, {"id":"337d3ca4-97e4-5c57-85f6-470f1f37abbf","type":"article","starttime":"1490745600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T17:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Work requirement for AHCCCS could be disastrous","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_337d3ca4-97e4-5c57-85f6-470f1f37abbf.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-work-requirement-for-ahcccs-could-be-disastrous/article_337d3ca4-97e4-5c57-85f6-470f1f37abbf.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-work-requirement-for-ahcccs-could-be-disastrous/article_337d3ca4-97e4-5c57-85f6-470f1f37abbf.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Re: the March 27 article \"Wednesday is the last day to comment on\u00a0AHCCCS\" A lifetime limit and work requirement for Medicaid/AHCCCS would be disastrous for many. My son is on AHCCCS because he has multiple sclerosis. He is severely disabled. I wonder what paperwork will be required to prove he cannot work \u2014 both for our family and for the state.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"337d3ca4-97e4-5c57-85f6-470f1f37abbf","body":"

Re: the March 27 article \"Wednesday is the last day to comment on\u00a0AHCCCS\"

A lifetime limit and work requirement for Medicaid/AHCCCS would be disastrous for many.

My son is on AHCCCS because he has multiple sclerosis. He is severely disabled. I wonder what paperwork will be required to prove he cannot work \u2014 both for our family and for the state.

Many MS patients look like they can work for a while and then an unpredictable exacerbation puts them in the hospital. What employer would want such employees that are so unreliable through no fault of their own?

There are many others who cannot work for many, many reasons and the state would have to be the judge on their lives. That would take intrusive government to a whole new level.

A \"life time limit\" means that desperate people would one day have no further help for medical care. Hospitals would have to care for these people when they come to ERs with complicated and neglected illnesses. Who pays then?

Patricia Desai


"}, {"id":"87a91286-d3e9-5e04-9b69-03b7e92e3cd9","type":"article","starttime":"1490745509","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T16:58:29-07:00","lastupdated":"1490748386","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Trump's energy and climate change order: Seven essential reads","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_87a91286-d3e9-5e04-9b69-03b7e92e3cd9.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/trump-s-energy-and-climate-change-order-seven-essential-reads/article_87a91286-d3e9-5e04-9b69-03b7e92e3cd9.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/trumps-energy-and-climate-change-order-seven-essential-reads-75349","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Jennifer Weeks\nThe Conversation","prologue":"Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","government and politics","economy","business","energy and the environment","environment","environment and nature","pollution","environmental concerns","pollution laws and regulations","environmental laws and regulations","government regulations","emissions laws and regulations","air pollution","air quality","climate","climate change","national security","military and defense","environmental policy","government policy","fossil fuel power generation","electric power generation","electric utilities","energy industry","utilities","oil and gas industry"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"87a91286-d3e9-5e04-9b69-03b7e92e3cd9","body":"

Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation

(THE CONVERSATION) Editor\u2019s note: The following is a roundup of archival stories.

On March 28 President Trump signed an executive order that launched a broad assault on policies put in place by the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution. Trump\u2019s order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. It also eliminates a number of other policies related to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Our experts explain the policies under assault and the impacts of this about-face.

Challenging established policies

Trump has accused the Environmental Protection Agency of pursuing \u201can out-of-control anti-energy agenda,\u201d and called for refocusing the agency on its \u201cessential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.\u201d

But as Greg Dotson of the University of Oregon Law School points out, EPA has been analyzing and regulating climate change for decades. Climate change \u201chas been at the heart of EPA\u2019s mission since its creation, and administrations of both parties have moved forward to mitigate this threat \u2013 with varying levels of ambition and enthusiasm \u2013 for 30 years,\u201d Dotson writes.

Trump has also instructed federal agencies to discount official estimates of the social cost of carbon \u2013 a figure that represents the harm done by one ton of carbon dioxide emissions \u2013 in making policy decisions. Harvard Kennedy School economist Joseph Aldy, who helped develop the first SCC estimate in 2009 for the Obama administration, explains its purpose: When we know the dollar value of damage from carbon pollution, we can see how much society will benefit from regulations to cut carbon emissions.

Methane leaks, coal leasing, national security

Many other federal agencies have roles in regulating carbon pollution alongside EPA. Trump\u2019s order overturns restrictions on energy production on federal lands managed by the Interior Department.

One measure required energy companies to control \u201cfugitive\u201d emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and natural gas operations on public lands. Catherine Hausman of the University of Michigan calls these leaks \u201ca standard environmental externalities problem, straight out of an Econ 1 textbook,\u201d because they cause environmental damage that is much more costly than the financial losses they represent for energy producers. Consequently, Hausman concludes, businesses have little incentive to self-regulate and capture the emissions on their own.

Trump also directed Interior to lift a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, which was put in place by the Obama administration in 2016. Studies have shown that these leases undervalue federal coal reserves, thus benefiting energy companies at taxpayers\u2019 expense. Economist Meredith Fowlie of the University of California, Berkeley argues that the coal-leasing program is ripe for reform, and that \u201cHitting the snooze button will deliver more good deals to the coal companies operating on federal lands, at the expense of taxpayers and the environment.\u201d

Although many readers may not associate the Defense Department with climate change, President Obama issued a memorandum in September 2016 that formally stated that climate change affected national security, and directed federal agencies to consider it in defense planning. Trump\u2019s order revokes this directive \u2013 even though Trump\u2019s defense secretary, James Mattis, recently stated in written responses to Congress that climate change is \u201cimpacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.\u201d

Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor and retired Rear Admiral David Titley agrees with Mattis. \u201cHere is how military planners see this issue: We know that the climate is changing, we know why it\u2019s changing and we understand that change will have large impacts on our national security. Yet as a nation we still only begrudgingly take precautions,\u201d Titley writes.

Views from the states

While Trump\u2019s order marks a dramatic redirection of federal policy, states can chart their own courses in many areas. Rebecca Romsdahl of the University of North Dakota reports that red states are quietly addressing climate change in many ways, from investing in renewable energy to preparing for flooding and droughts. Often local officials frame these actions as smart growth or prudent planning, without mentioning climate change.

\u201cEnergy, economic benefits, common sense and sustainability are frames that are providing opportunities for local leaders to address climate change without getting stuck in the political quagmire,\u201d Romsdahl observes.

At the other extreme, California \u2013 led by a Democratic governor and Democrat-dominated legislature \u2013 remains proudly committed to making deep cuts in its carbon emissions and building an economy based on clean energy. Many advocates assert that by pursuing a low-carbon path, California will attract lucrative industries and high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Economist Matthew Kahn of the University of Southern California is skeptical of these claims, which are based on complex economic modeling and extremely hard to prove. However, he also believes that California\u2019s strong economic growth in recent years shows that pursuing a low-carbon path has not harmed the state\u2019s economy.

Kahn sees value in California\u2019s willingness to serve as a \u201cgreen guinea pig,\u201d testing strategies that other states can emulate. \u201cWith the federal government slamming the brakes on climate action, it is valuable to have California moving full speed ahead,\u201d he states.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/trumps-energy-and-climate-change-order-seven-essential-reads-75349.

"}, {"id":"d5c53c37-a7b6-5932-98e8-1b85a57d5af9","type":"article","starttime":"1490738811","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-28T15:06:51-07:00","lastupdated":"1490742233","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Trump's FCC continues to redefine the public interest as business interests","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_d5c53c37-a7b6-5932-98e8-1b85a57d5af9.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/trump-s-fcc-continues-to-redefine-the-public-interest-as/article_d5c53c37-a7b6-5932-98e8-1b85a57d5af9.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/trumps-fcc-continues-to-redefine-the-public-interest-as-business-interests-75120","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Christopher Ali\nUniversity of Virginia","prologue":"Christopher Ali, University of Virginia","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","internet service providers","digital telecommunications services","telecommunications services","telecommunications","business","mobile telecommunications services","government regulations","government and politics","television","media","public television","network neutrality","technology issues","technology","telecommunications regulation","industry regulation","government business and finance","legislature","government programs"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":3,"commentID":"d5c53c37-a7b6-5932-98e8-1b85a57d5af9","body":"

Christopher Ali, University of Virginia

(THE CONVERSATION) The U.S. Senate voted last week to allow internet service providers to sell data about their customers\u2019 online activities to advertisers. The House of Representativesagreed on Tuesday; President Trump is expected to sign the measure into law.

As far back as 1927, American lawmakers sought to balance the needs of the public against the desire of big telecommunications companies to make huge profits off delivering information to Americans nationwide. Today, the Federal Communications Commission is charged with ensuring that the broadcasting and telecommunications systems work in \u201cthe public interest, convenience and necessity.\u201d

Policymakers have struggled to specifically define \u201cthe public interest,\u201d but the broad intent was clear: Government rules and programs worked to ensure a diversity of programming, distributed by a multitude of companies, with many different owners, through multiple channels that all Americans had access to.

While conducting research for my new book on local media policy in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, I watched as officials\u2019 priorities changed, favoring what they say is \u201cfreer\u201d competition in the marketplace of ideas. As new proposals come up for public comment and debate in the next few months, we, the American public, must join these discussions, to ensure our interests are in fact served.

A shift in priorities

Over the last 30 years, America\u2019s communications regulators have moved away from focusing on society\u2019s benefit, and toward an interpretation of the public interest as equivalent to what businesses want. For decades the FCC has chipped away at that broadly understood sense of the public interest, allowing more stations to be owned by one company, letting major media corporations merge and renewing station licenses with a rubber stamp. And TV and radio stations are now allowed to be located far away from the communities they serve.

As a result, the national media system is dominated by a handful of companies, including Comcast, Time Warner, Fox and Disney. This trend is mirrored at the local level, where Sinclair Broadcasting owns 173 of the country\u2019s 1,778 local television stations and is on the hunt to acquire more.

These changes have seen media and telecommunications companies making money and acquiring more properties, while the public receives less and less in return.

Moving quickly

In addition to the moves in Congress, Trump\u2019s FCC has acted quickly, too. Upon his promotion to FCC chairman, Ajit Pai cited other companies\u2019 fraudulent practices as a reason for removing nine internet service providers from the list of companies approved to provide federally subsidized internet access to low-income families.

Pai also ended an investigation into mobile phone companies\u2019 practice of exempting mobile data associated with certain apps (such as Spotify or Netflix) from the data limits normally imposed on customers\u2019 plans. Because this explicitly favored some companies\u2019 internet traffic over others\u2019, many people viewed this practice, called \u201czero rating,\u201d as a violation of open internet (also called \u201cnet neutrality\u201d) rules \u2013 the FCC\u2019s requirements barring internet service providers from playing favorites with different providers\u2019 internet content.

Taken together, these actions represent a major attack on what is left of the public interest as we once knew it. They also represent a reversal for the FCC, which was hailed for protecting the public interest when it approved the Open Internet Order in 2015.

Pai himself opposes those rules, as does his congressional counterpart, Marsha Blackburn, chair of the powerful House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Attacking broadcasting too

The Trump administration also appears to be adhering to this view of the public interest in media policy.

Trump\u2019s initial proposed budget zeroed out federal funding for public broadcasting. The U.S. allocates US$445 million a year to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports organizations like NPR and PBS. That amounts to about $1.35 per person. In contrast, Germany spends $143 a person; Norway spends more on public broadcasting than any other country \u2013 $180 per Norwegian. Cutting this already anemic funding would spell disaster for public broadcasting, most notably stations in rural America.

And over at the FCC, Pai eliminated requirements that broadcasters keep records of what they aired, for public inspection. While perhaps antiquated and certainly rarely used by the public, it was one of the last holdovers of a time when local broadcasters were thought to be responsive to their communities.

As for Sinclair Broadcasting\u2019s expansion hopes, the company may be making its plans precisely because Commissioner Pai wants to relax ownership restrictions.

Stepping up to the mic?

The next few months will see debates about a diverse range of communications-related topics, all of which center on the public interest. We need to ask hard, clear questions of legislators, regulators and ourselves:

Is it in the public\u2019s interest to have an internet where ISPs can decide which websites load fastest? Is it in the public interest for AT&T to buy Time Warner, creating an even larger and more powerful media company? Is it in the public interest for incarcerated people and their families to pay exorbitant sums to speak to one another on the phone? Is it in the public interest to retain access to public broadcasting, which brings us everything from \u201cSherlock\u201d to \u201cSesame Street\u201d?

Media is more than just our window on the world. It\u2019s how we talk to each other, how we engage with our society and our government. Without a media environment that serves the public\u2019s need to be informed, connected and involved, our democracy and our society will suffer.

As former FCC chairman Nicholas Johnson put it:


\u201cWhatever is your first priority, whether it is women\u2019s rights or saving wildlife, your second priority has to be media reform. With it you at least have a chance of accomplishing your first priority. Without it, you don\u2019t have a prayer.\u201d


If only a few wealthy companies control how Americans communicate with each other, it will be harder for people to talk among ourselves about the kind of society we want to build.

It is time for a sustained public conversation about media policy, akin to the ones we have about health care, the economy, defense and the budget. Regulators and policymakers must communicate regularly to the public. News organizations must report on these issues with the same frequency and intensity as they do other areas of public policy. And the people must pay attention and make their voices heard.

We did it before, powerfully influencing rules about media ownership in 2003 and ensuring net neutrality in 2015. We can do it again. For us, as members of the public, and as avid media consumers, it\u2019s time the public got interested in the public interest.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/trumps-fcc-continues-to-redefine-the-public-interest-as-business-interests-75120.

"}, {"id":"460580da-9a5e-55e5-8485-c5dc9642d707","type":"article","starttime":"1490670000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T20:00:00-07:00","sections":[{"commentary":"ap/commentary"},{"column":"news/opinion/column"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Michael Gerson: How Trump can get his groove back","url":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/article_460580da-9a5e-55e5-8485-c5dc9642d707.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/michael-gerson-how-trump-can-get-his-groove-back/article_460580da-9a5e-55e5-8485-c5dc9642d707.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/michael-gerson-how-trump-can-get-his-groove-back/article_460580da-9a5e-55e5-8485-c5dc9642d707.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"The Washington Post","prologue":"'Religious liberty' could be a focal point.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["religion","social affairs","government and politics","gays and lesbians","religion and politics","religious issues","social issues","legislature"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"0cab1e28-2bca-5cb7-9941-2689890976f1","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"469","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/ca/0cab1e28-2bca-5cb7-9941-2689890976f1/583382cb1f249.image.jpg?resize=620%2C469"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/ca/0cab1e28-2bca-5cb7-9941-2689890976f1/53ffc3bdae90d.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"227","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/ca/0cab1e28-2bca-5cb7-9941-2689890976f1/53ffc3bdafa3a.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"774","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/ca/0cab1e28-2bca-5cb7-9941-2689890976f1/53ffc3bda22e2.preview-1024.jpg"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"460580da-9a5e-55e5-8485-c5dc9642d707","body":"

The central promise of the Trump administration \u2014 the repeal and replacement of Obamacare \u2014 has failed. The central premise of the Trump administration \u2014 that Trump is a brilliant negotiator \u2014 has been discredited. In the process of losing a legislative battle, Trump has lost the theory of his presidency.

It was a profoundly personal rejection. Trump\u2019s ignorance of policy details alienated legislators. His ill-timed threats backfired. His bonhomie fell flat.

The lessons, however, run deeper. Like other politicians before him, Trump ran for office arguing, in essence: Just give my party control of the elected branches of the federal government and massive change will quickly follow. Many Americans believed in this promise of winner-take-all government.

The American system of government \u2014 with its constipated Senate rules and its complicated House coalitions \u2014 is designed to frustrate such plans. But the closeness of recent national elections has encouraged partisan dreams of political dominance. Republicans had control of the House, Senate and presidency in the 108th Congress. Democrats had the same in the 111th Congress. Now Republicans have it all in the 115th Congress.

Total control is intoxicating. The winners feel like they have a mandate, even a mission. But the losers know, if they maintain partisan discipline and prevent achievements of the other side, they have a realistic chance of winning it all back. This leads to a cycle of hubris and obstructionism.

How can this cycle be broken? There is only one way. Someone must do genuine outreach, involving the credible promise of compromise, from a position of strength. It is the winners who must act first, taking the risk of offering a hand that may be slapped away. Then it is the political losers who have the responsibility to reward good faith.

Obamacare \u2014 passed in a partisan quick-march and viewed by some Republicans as the focus of evil in the modern world \u2014 may not be the most promising ground for agreement. The same may be true for tax reform, which involves a thousand well-funded special interests. But genuine negotiation might be possible on an infrastructure bill. The same might be true on legislation designed to increase the skills \u2014 and deal with the dislocation \u2014 of 38 percent of American workers whose jobs are threatened by automation. And at least one culture-war issue belongs on the list: religious liberty.

Many religious conservatives imagined they would, at this point, be in a defensive crouch. The Obama administration had required the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and the emergency contraceptive Plan B. Religious conservatives expected the Hillary Clinton administration to require the distribution of condoms at Mass (I exaggerate, but only a little).

Instead, unexpectedly, religious conservatives find themselves in a position of relative strength, as one of the main contributors to Trump\u2019s victory. It is possible they will squander their standing on repeal of the Johnson Amendment that restricts political endorsements from the pulpit \u2014 a change that few have demanded and none really need. Instead, they could use their influence to encourage genuine pluralism, with benefits that are shared and nonsectarian.

What would the elements of a legislative compromise look like? It would need to allow institutions motivated by a religious mission \u2014 including religious schools and charities \u2014 to maintain their identity. Religious liberty involves, not just the freedom of individual belief but the freedom to create institutions that reflect a shared belief.

But any realistic agreement would also need to include broad anti-discrimination protections in employment and services \u2014 including for gay people \u2014 outside of the strong carve-out for religious nonprofits. Religious conservatives would need to accept sexual orientation as a protected group in economic interactions.

This is consistent with what Jonathan Rauch calls \u201cthe obvious compromise: protections for gay people plus exemptions for religious objectors.\u201d In practice, this would allow religious people to organize colleges, hospitals and charities according to their beliefs. But the cake baker would need to bake for everyone. The florist would need to sell to everyone.

The strongest advocates on both sides of this issue will find any compromise abhorrent. But it could be powerful for religious conservatives to attempt outreach from a position of political strength,.

And Trump, oddly, may be the leader to get this kind of deal. He broke ground among Republicans in recognizing LGBT rights in his convention speech. But he is also close to religious conservative leaders.

And just about now, Trump needs a way to reconstitute the meaning of his presidency.

"}, {"id":"f5597843-c98a-5465-8862-ecd537433d63","type":"article","starttime":"1490668822","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:40:22-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Climate politics: Environmentalists need to think globally, but act locally","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_f5597843-c98a-5465-8862-ecd537433d63.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/climate-politics-environmentalists-need-to-think-globally-but-act-locally/article_f5597843-c98a-5465-8862-ecd537433d63.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/climate-politics-environmentalists-need-to-think-globally-but-act-locally-73113","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Aseem Prakash\nUniversity of Washington","prologue":"Nives Dolsak, University of Washington and Aseem Prakash, University of Washington","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","labor unions","labor issues","social issues","social affairs","environment","environment and nature","energy and the environment","environmental laws and regulations","government regulations","government and politics","alternative energy industry","energy industry","business","environmental activism","public opinion","air pollution","air quality","pollution","environmental concerns","hiring and recruitment","personnel","climate change","climate","environmental conservation and preservation","alternative and sustainable energy","fuel efficiency","energy efficiency and conservation"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"f5597843-c98a-5465-8862-ecd537433d63","body":"

Nives Dolsak, University of Washington and Aseem Prakash, University of Washington

(THE CONVERSATION) As President Trump pivots from a failed attempt to overhaul health care to new orders rolling back controls on carbon pollution, environmentalists are preparing for an intense fight. We study environmental politics, and believe the health care debate holds an important lesson for green advocates: Policies that create concrete benefits for specific constituencies are hard to discontinue.

Opinion polls and hostile audiences at Republican legislators\u2019 town hall meetings show that the Affordable Care Act won public support by extending health insurance to the uninsured. And this constituency is not shy about defending its gains.

The same lesson can be applied to environmental issues. In our view, environmentalists need to defend environmental regulations by emphasizing their concrete benefits for well-defined constituencies, and mobilize those groups to protect their gains.

Environmentalists should continue making broad, long-term arguments about addressing climate change. After all, there is an important political constituency that views climate change as the defining challenge for humanity and favors active advocacy on climate issues. At the same time, however, they need to find more ways to talk about local jobs and benefits from climate action so they can build constituencies that include both greens and workers.

Pork-barrel environmentalism?

Americans have a love-hate relationship with pork-barrel politics. Reformers decry it, but many legislators boast about the goodies they bring home. As former Texas Senator Phil Gramm once famously crowed, \u201cI\u2019m carrying so much pork, I\u2019m beginning to get trichinosis.\u201d And pragmatists assert that in moderate quantities, pork helps deals get made.

Classic studies of the politics of regulation by scholars such as Theodore Lowi and James Q. Wilson show that when benefits from a regulation are diffused across many people or large areas and costs are concentrated on specific constituencies, we can expect political resistance to the regulation. Groups who stand to lose have strong incentives to oppose it, while those who benefit form a more amorphous constituency that is harder to mobilize.

We can see this dynamic in climate change debates. President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt contend that undoing carbon pollution controls will promote job growth. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, argues that the Obama administration\u2019s Clean Power Plan will destroy coal jobs and communities, and that \u201cgreen jobs\u201d in clean energy industries are unlikely to be located in coal country.

Climate change can be framed in many ways, and there has been much discussion about which approaches best engage the public. Environmental advocates can do a better job of emphasizing how climate regulations produce local benefits along with global benefits.

One promising initiative, the BlueGreen Alliance, is a coalition of major labor unions and environmental organizations. Before President Trump\u2019s recent visit to Michigan, the alliance released data showing that nearly 70,000 workers in well over 200 factories and engineering facilities in Michigan alone were producing technologies that helped vehicle manufacturers meet current fuel efficiency standards. Regulations can be job creators, but this truth needs to be told effectively.

Pipelines: Local jobs or global environmental protection

President Trump\u2019s approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines demonstrates the difficulty of fighting locally beneficial programs with global arguments.

Environmentalists argue, correctly, that both pipelines are part of the infrastructure that supports the fossil fuel economy. For example, by some estimates the KXL pipeline could increase global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 110 million tons annually by making possible increased oil production from Canadian tar sands.

However, both the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters support the projects. They believe pipelines create jobs, although there is broad disagreement over how many jobs they generate over what time period.

By endorsing both pipelines, Trump is probably seeking to consolidate his support among midwestern working-class voters who believe, rightly or wrongly, that urban environmental elites are imposing job-killing regulations. But these pipelines also impose local costs, which have spurred Native American protests against DAPL and opposition to KXL from farmers, ranchers and citizens in Nebraska.

Local protests have not changed the Trump administration\u2019s political calculus on DAPL or KXL, which is why opponents in both cases are turning to the courts. But in other instances environmental groups have successfully mobilized communities by highlighting local issues.

Conserving Utah\u2019s public lands

Federal control of public lands is a sore issue for Republicans, particularly in western states. Utah offers a fascinating example. State politicians want to reverse President Obama\u2019s designation of the Bears Ears National Monument and reduce the amount of land included in the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. But conservationists successfully blocked recent efforts by allying with the outdoor recreation industry.

By some estimates Utah\u2019s outdoor recreation industry employs 122,000 people and brings US$12 billion into the state each year. Utah hosts the biannual Outdoor Retailer trade show, which brings about $45 million in annual direct spending.

In response to Utah officials\u2019 efforts to roll back federal land protection, the outdoor retail industry has announced that it will move the prestigious trade show to another state after its contract with Salt Lake City expires in 2018. Patagonia is boycotting the 2017 summer show and asking supporters to contact Utah politicians and urge them to keep \u201cpublic lands in public hands.\u201d The bicycle industry is also planning to move its annual trade show to a location outside Utah.

Governor Gary Herbert has reacted by offering to negotiate with the industry. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill in January that called for selling off more than three million acres of federal land in Utah, but withdrew it after massive protests from hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Hunters and gun owners are important constituents for Chaffetz and other conservative Republican politicians.

Renewable energy means high-tech jobs

Environmentalists also successfully localized green regulations in Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich vetoed a bill in December 2016 that would have made the state\u2019s renewable electricity targets voluntary instead of mandatory for two years.

As a politician with presidential ambitions who claims credit for his state\u2019s economic success, Kasich knows that several high-tech companies in Ohio have committed to switching to renewable energy. As one example, Amazon is investing in local wind farms to power its energy-intensive data servers, in response to criticism from environmental groups.

Ohio froze its renewable energy standards for two years in 2014 after utilities and some large power customers argued that they were becoming expensive to meet. But when the legislature passed a bill in 2016 that extended the freeze for two more years, a coalition of renewable energy companies and environmental groups mobilized against it. In his veto message, Kasich noted that the measure might antagonize \u201ccompanies poised to create many jobs in Ohio in the coming years, such as high-technology firms.\u201d

In sum, environmental regulations have a better chance of surviving if there are mobilized constituencies willing to defend them. And in the longer term, a local and job-oriented focus could expand the blue-green alliance and move the working class closer to the environmental agenda.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/climate-politics-environmentalists-need-to-think-globally-but-act-locally-73113.

"}, {"id":"d3bf0182-5ce8-51c4-b058-cd93f7d70bc7","type":"article","starttime":"1490668807","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:40:07-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"We\u2019re suing the federal government to be free to do our research","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_d3bf0182-5ce8-51c4-b058-cd93f7d70bc7.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/we-re-suing-the-federal-government-to-be-free-to/article_d3bf0182-5ce8-51c4-b058-cd93f7d70bc7.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/were-suing-the-federal-government-to-be-free-to-do-our-research-74676","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Alan Mislove\nNortheastern University","prologue":"Christo Wilson, Northeastern University and Alan Mislove, Northeastern University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","government and politics","national governments","crime","general news","lawsuits","legal proceedings","law and order"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"d3bf0182-5ce8-51c4-b058-cd93f7d70bc7","body":"

Christo Wilson, Northeastern University and Alan Mislove, Northeastern University

(THE CONVERSATION) Many apps and algorithms that feature prominently in our lives are, essentially, black boxes: We have no idea how they accomplish what they do; we just know they work. Or at least we think we do. Most recently this became apparent when The New York Times revealed that Uber used a system it called \u201cgreyballing\u201d to show certain users phantom cars and prevent them from getting rides through the Uber app.

In essence, these users \u2013 often government officials or others Uber feared might interfere with the company\u2019s services \u2013 were shown a completely different (and deliberately false) view of Uber\u2019s data, without their knowledge or consent. Given the ubiquity of the Uber service \u2013 and the controversy that surrounds Uber in general \u2013 this article immediately raised questions about the fairness and legality of Uber\u2019s practices. For example, why should people trust Uber\u2019s surge prices if the app and data can be manipulated arbitrarily, at will by Uber?

Unfortunately, platforms like Uber are almost always closed: Users, regulators and policymakers typically have no way to know whether, or to what extent, apps and algorithms are behaving in questionable ways. The greyballing was only discovered because its existence was leaked to the media by current and former Uber employees.

But algorithms are widely used in many contexts, including selecting job applicants when hiring, estimating borrowers\u2019 creditworthiness, determining where police departments should deploy patrol officers and even setting bail for criminal suspects.

In all of these cases, the output of the algorithm can have enormous consequences on people\u2019s lives, and yet we often lack a basic understanding of whether they may be biased, unfair or discriminatory. It\u2019s a concern shared bygovernmentagencies and scholars alike.

Running up against the law

Our own research seeks to identify these problems through study and scholarship, without needing to wait for whistle-blowers to spill the beans. We leverage real users and fake accounts created by us to compile data from online services. Using these data, we try to tease out how black-box algorithms work: What data do they use? How do user characteristics affect the output of the algorithm? Does the system do things that a normal person might find questionable? Of course, companies view their algorithms and data sets as proprietary, and are loath to open them up to outside scrutiny, especially when it may reveal embarrassing things (like attempts to manipulate law enforcement).

In effect, our goal is to increase the transparency of black-box algorithms (like those used by Uber) that affect our daily lives, and to make algorithms and their human designers accountable to social and legal norms. We\u2019re developing ways for researchers, regulators and policymakers to measure these systems and identify instances of unfairness and discrimination.

But there is a significant legal barrier, one that we think effectively ensures the American public is, and will stay, in the dark about how these computerized systems work, and whether they\u2019re fair and equitable to everyone. It\u2019s called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It\u2019s the country\u2019s main \u201canti-hacking\u201d law, originally passed in 1986 and broadened in 1996. And we\u2019re among a group of scholars and news organizations who have sued to overturn key provisions that block researchers like us from investigating these crucial elements of modern American life.

Letting companies make the rules

Among other things, the CFAA imposes civil and criminal penalties on anyone who \u201cexceeds authorized access\u201d to any computer. This might seem relatively benign and vague, but the vagueness is part of the problem. Some courts and prosecutors have taken the position that it \u201cexceeds authorized access\u201d to do anything contrary to a website\u2019s or company\u2019s Terms of Service. These are the long screens of legalese users must agree to \u2013 usually without having read a word of them \u2013 before using a website or a piece of software.

Unfortunately, many Terms of Service contain what we consider egregious claims and limitations on users.


Verizon and AT&T included a prohibition from criticizing the company when using their internet service, threatening to cut off critics\u2019 internet access, even if the criticism was fair, accurate and true.


Facebook disallows providing any false personal information in one\u2019s Facebook profile. That\u2019s a problem for anyone who wants to protect their privacy by using a pseudonym or giving a false age, especially since Facebook\u2019s business model is entirely based on mining users\u2019 personal data to serve targeted ads.


Internships.com, a website for finding internship opportunities, had a http://www.internships.com/terms\">provision allowing them to charge US$50,000 to anyone who used a web scraper to collect data from their website. This threat prevents researchers like us from examining the site, to look for issues like hiring discrimination and bias.

If, as prosecutors and courts have successfully argued, violating Terms of Service agreements can violate the CFAA, anyone who did any of these things \u2013 and anything else contained in any similar document \u2013 would be violating federal law and exposed to both criminal penalties and civil liability. In essence, we think the current interpretation of the CFAA lets companies write federal law.

Ensuring the law is clear

Along with otherresearchers and media organizations, we are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU challenging the provision of the CFAA that has been used to equate Terms of Service violations with breaking federal law. This connection is a serious impediment to the goals of algorithmic transparency and accountability: The CFAA was not intended to be a shield that blocks companies from public scrutiny. Yet that is what the prevailing legal interpretations of the law allow.

In the past, independent scrutiny has been crucial in identifying pernicious business practices like discriminatory hiring practices and redlining (illegally denying loans to customers based on race). For the good of modern society, researchers need the ability to audit algorithms without fear of legal reprisal.

On a personal level, the legal threat posed by the CFAA takes a toll on our research. CFAA violations are punishable with jail time and large fines. (To see an example of how large the stakes can be, consider how programmer and activist Aaron Swartz was charged under the CFAA.) In the past, we have abandoned projects because the risks seemed too great, or changed our methods to avoid particular Terms of Service minefields. But, even with this abundance of caution, we, our collaborators, and our students choose to put ourselves at risk every time we begin a new research project.

Currently, our lawsuit is pending before a federal judge in the D.C. District Court, while we await the court\u2019s response to the government\u2019s request that the suit be dismissed. However, our suit is already providing positive results: As part of its filings, the Department of Justice publicly released a previously unknown 2014 memorandum containing guidelines for federal prosecutors bringing charges under the CFAA. On one hand, the guidelines suggest that federal prosecution may not be warranted in instances where someone has only breached a website\u2019s Terms of Service, which sounds good. On the other hand, these are only guidelines; they do not change the law itself or its surrounding precedents, and these guidelines could be changed at any time. Changes in the executive branch and in the leadership of the DoJ highlight how fungible these guidelines are.

Ultimately, this lawsuit will bring clarity to what we and our co-plaintiffs see as a dangerously ambiguous and over-broad law. Researchers, journalists and activists should know where the lines are when planning their online investigations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/were-suing-the-federal-government-to-be-free-to-do-our-research-74676.

"}, {"id":"d7b1afe2-dbb4-5fb3-87a1-23986ea9f171","type":"article","starttime":"1490668792","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:39:52-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Did medical Darwinism doom the GOP health plan?","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_d7b1afe2-dbb4-5fb3-87a1-23986ea9f171.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/did-medical-darwinism-doom-the-gop-health-plan/article_d7b1afe2-dbb4-5fb3-87a1-23986ea9f171.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/did-medical-darwinism-doom-the-gop-health-plan-75184","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Michael L. Millenson\nNorthwestern University","prologue":"Michael L. Millenson, Northwestern University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","political parties","political organizations","government and politics","patient protection and affordable care act","health care policy","government policy","health care costs","health issues","health","health statistics","demographics","social affairs"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"d7b1afe2-dbb4-5fb3-87a1-23986ea9f171","body":"

Michael L. Millenson, Northwestern University

(THE CONVERSATION) \u201cWe are now contemplating, Heaven save the mark, a bill that would tax the well for the benefit of the ill.\u201d

Although that quote reads like it could be part of the Republican repeal-and-replace assault against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it\u2019s actually from a 1949 editorial in The New York State Journal of Medicine denouncing health insurance itself.

Indeed, the attacks on the ACA seem to have revived a survival-of-the-fittest attitude most of us thought had vanished in America long ago. Yet, again and again, there it was in plain sight, as when House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) declared: \u201cThe idea of Obamacare is that the people who are healthy pay for the people who are sick.\u201d Contemporary language, but the same thinking that sank President Harry Truman\u2019s health care plan almost seven decades ago.

Ryan\u2019s indignation highlighted a fundamental divergence in attitudes that repeatedly turned the health care debate into a clash over the philosophy behind Obamacare-style health insurance. To some, the communal pooling of financial risk of medical expenses seems too often an unacceptable risk to personal responsibility.

As a researcher who has documented this approach to health care, I\u2019ve been startled to see the debate over the AHCA reignite a political philosophy and policy approach that seemed to be have been discredited \u2013 and be in sharp decline.

When Truman launched the first comprehensive effort to cover all Americans, most of the population had no health insurance.

Last year, thanks to the ACA, nearly 90 percent did, according to a Gallup-Healthways poll. Yet then and now, many conservatives have downplayed the impact on physical health and focused, instead, on fiscal temptation.

If you can\u2019t afford to be sick, then don\u2019t be

Take, for instance, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) warning low-income Americans on March 7, 2017 that they had \u201cto make a choice\u201d about their spending: \u201cSo rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.\u201d (He later walked back his statement.)

In reality, of course, the premiums from the GOP\u2019s late and abandoned American Health Care Act would dwarf any savings from iPhone abstinence. For a 64-year-old making US$26,500 a year, the cost of health insurance would have shot up from $1,700 to $14,600, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), or more than half that individual\u2019s pre-tax income.

Chaffetz and others seem to sincerely believe that \u201cwhat keeps the great majority of people well is the fact that they can\u2019t afford to be ill\u201d \u2013 although those words come from the 1949 editorialist again, not a Trump administration tweet. The editorial continued:

That is a harsh, stern dictum and we readily admit that under it a certain number of cases of early tuberculosis and cancer, for example, may go undetected. Is it not better that a few such should perish rather than that the majority of the population should be encouraged on every occasion to run sniveling to the doctor? That in order to get their money\u2019s worth they should be sick at every available opportunity? They will find out in time that the services they think they get for nothing \u2013 but which the whole people of the United States would pay for \u2013 are also worth nothing.

As it happens, the effect predicted in 1949 on the detection of cancer \u2013 less of it \u2013 is precisely what has happened with the spread of high-deductible health plans praised by conservatives for encouraging more careful \u201cshopping\u201d by \u201cconsumers.\u201d A study in Medical Care showed that screening rates for colorectal cancer declined under high-deductible plans until, under Obamacare, the federal government forced those plans to include first-dollar coverage of preventive services. The screening rates for colorectal cancer promptly rose. A recent study in Cancer found the same results for mammography.

Separately, surveys and research on high-deductible plans have found that 20 to 25 percent of people have avoided needed care of all kinds because they can\u2019t afford it.

Nonetheless, the GOP\u2019s conservative wing denounced ACA-mandated \u201cessential health benefits,\u201d echoing the idea that it is a threat to American freedom. Or as that same New York medical journal put it:

It is time that someone \u2013 everyone \u2013 should hoist Mr. Charles Darwin from his grave and blow life into his ashes so that they could proclaim again to the world his tough but practical doctrine of survival of the fittest\u2026The Declaration of Independence said that man was entitled to the \u201cpursuit of happiness.\u201d Any man who wishes to pursue happiness had better be able to stand on his own feet. He will not be successful if he feels that he can afford to be ill.

The quality of mercy is not strained

For most physicians, that compassionless condescension lies in the faraway past; for example, the AHCA was overwhelmingly opposed by medical professional groups, including the American Medical Association.

Yet an implacable medical Darwinism retains a firm grip on many conservatives, even on physicians. Then-Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, an obstetrician/gynecologist and prominent Republican, told a sobbing woman at a 2009 public meeting on the ACA that \u201cgovernment is not the answer\u201d when she said she couldn\u2019t afford care for her brain-injured husband.

Similarly, in 2011, after the ACA passed, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), also an obstetrician/gynecologist, was asked what should be done about an uninsured, 30-year-old man in a coma. \u201cWhat he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,\u201d Paul responded, adding, \u201cThat\u2019s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk.\u201d

Or as conservative scholar Michael Strain put it in a 2015 Washington Post editorial: \u201cIn a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals \u2013 including\u2026less government coercion and more individual liberty.\u201d

Strain is right, of course, that resources are limited. Moreover, it\u2019s long been known that overgenerous health insurance can lead to overuse of medical care services.

However, most Americans, including some prominent conservative intellectuals, don\u2019t see stripping away health insurance from 24 million countrymen \u2013 the CBO\u2019s estimate of the AHCA\u2019s 10-year impact \u2013 as striking a blow for liberty. In a Quinnipiac University poll released just before the scheduled AHCA vote, only 17 percent of respondents approved of the Republican plan and 46 percent said they\u2019d be less likely to vote for someone who supported it.

One day later, GOP leaders withdrew the legislation, sparing Republican representatives a vote \u201con the record.\u201d Although Vice President Mike Pence has called evolution an unproven theory, it turns out Republicans really do believe in \u201csurvival of the fittest\u201d (at least in a political sense), after all.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/did-medical-darwinism-doom-the-gop-health-plan-75184.

"}, {"id":"5b7e3576-f119-580e-817b-a532cf65cd70","type":"article","starttime":"1490668775","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:39:35-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"What history tells us about Boy Scouts and inclusion","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_5b7e3576-f119-580e-817b-a532cf65cd70.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/what-history-tells-us-about-boy-scouts-and-inclusion/article_5b7e3576-f119-580e-817b-a532cf65cd70.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/what-history-tells-us-about-boy-scouts-and-inclusion-74805","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Benjamin Rene Jordan\nChristian Brothers University","prologue":"Benjamin Rene Jordan, Christian Brothers University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","african-americans","religion","social affairs","european mass migration crisis","social diversity","social issues","immigration","gender identity","gender issues","race and ethnicity","gays and lesbians"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"5b7e3576-f119-580e-817b-a532cf65cd70","body":"

Benjamin Rene Jordan, Christian Brothers University

(THE CONVERSATION) In the last two decades, a tense debate has risen over membership policies of the Boy Scouts of America. The organization moved to allow openly gay Scouts in 2013 and troop leaders in 2015. And just this year, a new transgender membership policy drew supporters and critics alike, while also renewing discussion over girls joining the ranks.

At the core of this membership debate lies the heritage and values of an organization whose roots stretch back to 1910. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded to train young men and boys in modern character, work, and citizenship. New child labor laws and compulsory schooling were removing adolescents from the paid work force and public community spaces. As a result, early Scouting became a sort of apprenticeship, giving boys the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing world.

Thus, the debate over membership inclusion highlights a fundamental problem of both identity and history: Which side can claim the mantle of Scout heritage and values?

As a historian of 20th-century Scouting, my research on the BSA\u2019s early years demonstrates that the answer is not simple. However, some of the organization\u2019s early methods for reaching out to marginalized groups provide potential solutions for better incorporating gay and transgender boys and inclusive troop sponsors.

Current state of membership

Before we turn to the history of the BSA\u2019s early efforts at inclusion, let\u2019s take a look at the most recent controversies surrounding BSA membership.

In February of this year, nine-year-old Joe Maldonado of New Jersey rejoined the BSA following the national office\u2019s decision to formally admit transgender applicants. He had been a member of a Cub Scout pack before being removed two months earlier, reportedly after some parents complained about him being transgender.

The shift in policy \u2013 and Joe\u2019s welcome back into Scouting \u2013 has brought renewed attention to the issue of girls joining its ranks. For over a year, Sydney Ireland, a 15-year-old New York girl, has been petitioning the Boy Scouts to accept female members into its all-male adolescent division.

The National Organization for Women has been supporting Sydney\u2019s efforts, stating that the BSA\u2019s leadership opportunities and coveted Eagle Scout rank represent a final frontier of women\u2019s long efforts to break the gendered glass ceiling. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America and some of their feminist supporters, on the other hand, maintain that Girl Scouting offers equal opportunities and status and is therefore the best place for all girls.

Conservative groups argue that the recent gay/trans-inclusive policies \u2013 and the proposal to open the BSA to girls \u2013 betray the organization\u2019s values and founding principles.

Supporters of these new membership policies insist that the decision fits well with the organization\u2019s tradition and purpose of universal character building and civic training.

While Joe\u2019s experience centers on the controversy over whether birth biology or gender identity constitutes boyhood, Sydney\u2019s story challenges what it means to be a Boy Scout \u2013 regardless of gender.

A history of diverse boys

It may surprise debaters on both sides to learn that public conflicts over membership policies \u2013 and contradictory claims over the nature of Boy Scout heritage \u2013 are as old as the organization itself.

Before the emergence of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America in 1913, some girls clamored unsuccessfully to join Boy Scouting or formed their own troops. BSA national leaders held firm and, in fact, initially rejected the emergence of the separate Girl Scouts organization. Some BSA officials encouraged the feminist Girl Scouts to merge into the domestically oriented Camp Fire Girls. By the late 1920s, the BSA gradually came to accept the presence of the Girl Scouts organization, but held fast in its policy to exclude girls.

During these same formative years, BSA national leaders were working to encourage participation from marginalized groups of boys. Boy Scout administrators defied conservative critics by permitting willing local councils to admit African-American and other nonwhite boys in the 1910s.

In the mid-1920s, the BSA created a new Inter-Racial Service to actively encourage the creation of more African-American troops in the Southeast and Native American troops at reservation boarding schools. The number of Scouts of color rose quickly, although some BSA troops and camps remained segregated into the 1960s.

In the early 1910s, a range of competing Scout associations emerged in the United States, including organizations for religious and immigrant minorities.

Fear of these competing groups taking away potential members \u2013 and a desire to further spread the message of BSA\u2019s universal appeal \u2013 led to the implementation of successful outreach programs to boost membership. These programs targeted other groups that faced discrimination in American society, including new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, Catholics, Jews and Mormons.

To assuage parents\u2019 concerns that participation in Scouting might result in their sons\u2019 religious conversion or undercut cultural traditions of their country of origin, BSA national leaders agreed that each institutional sponsor could limit its BSA troop\u2019s membership and leadership as it saw fit.

As a result, thousands of troops have formed around shared religious views or cultural backgrounds.

Belonging and outreach

It turns out, both critics and supporters of the new membership policies can claim ownership of Boy Scout heritage.

For more than a century, the BSA has allowed each individual troop to limit its membership according to the sponsoring institution or church. And so, the Boy Scouts have traditionally permitted exclusion at the troop level.

Yet, nationally, the BSA has repeatedly defied critics by encouraging local councils to welcome a growing range of culturally marginalized troops and boys \u2013 from non-Protestant, immigrant and African-American boys in the 1910s to transgender and gay boys 100 years later.

A week after the new membership policy was announced, Joe Maldonado put on a Cub Scout uniform again, proudly declaring that \u201cI am accepted, and I\u2019m actually in Boy Scouts.\u201d His pack leader reassured Joe that \u201cThis means you\u2019re the same as Scouts all over the world.\u201d

Both statements, I would argue, demonstrate that Scouting continues to guide boys into full citizenship and the cultural mainstream.

When the BSA announced its new trans-inclusive membership policy, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh stated that the organization\u2019s efforts to serve a broader constituency through its new policies are consistent with its core values, as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law.

The statement also indicated that the organization\u2019s local councils would \u201chelp find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.\u201d

While this help may include placing children in troops that make their parents more comfortable, it also can include a systematic outreach, modeled on BSA methods from the 1910s and 1920s.

What might that outreach look like? The BSA could draw on its own traditions to create new recruitment committees for transgender and gay youth, publish educational media on how Scout training can help meet their needs and interests, and ensure their representation on local councils.

While these efforts would still not address the issue of female Scouts, they would meet the organization\u2019s goal to \u201cbring the benefits of Scouting to the greatest number of youth possible\u201d \u2013 efforts that BSA national leaders made for religious and ethnic minority groups a century ago.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/what-history-tells-us-about-boy-scouts-and-inclusion-74805.

"}, {"id":"3c3f3583-77c8-5efc-b05b-64dd43d343bc","type":"article","starttime":"1490668770","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:39:30-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Educating children in Guatemala before they decide to migrate to the US border","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_3c3f3583-77c8-5efc-b05b-64dd43d343bc.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/educating-children-in-guatemala-before-they-decide-to-migrate-to/article_3c3f3583-77c8-5efc-b05b-64dd43d343bc.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/educating-children-in-guatemala-before-they-decide-to-migrate-to-the-us-border-74680","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Carmen Monico\nElon University","prologue":"Carmen Monico, Elon University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","educational services","professional services","business","vocational education","education","social affairs","war and unrest","general news","humanitarian assistance","government and politics","teen welfare","human welfare","social issues","scholarships","education costs","violence"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"3c3f3583-77c8-5efc-b05b-64dd43d343bc","body":"

Carmen Monico, Elon University

(THE CONVERSATION) On March 8, 40 girls were killed in a fire at a home for abused youth in Guatemala. More than 800 children and adolescents were living in the home.

In Guatemala, youth are at high risk of becoming victims and perpetrators of crime and violence. This insecurity is a primary factor pushing thousands of young Central Americans to leave their homes and travel north. In fiscal year 2016, nearly 60,000 youth from Central America and Mexico crossed the U.S. border without a parent or guardian. During the peak of the crisis in 2014, more than 68,000 made the perilous trek.

The vast majority of these minors are arriving from what are called Northern Triangle countries in Central America: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. More recently, an increased number are coming from Guatemala. Since 9/11, U.S. policy has primarily focused on securing the southern border. For even longer, U.S. foreign policy in Central America has focused on funding a militarized war on drugs, which in turn has fueled the root causes that push people to migrate.

But some efforts have been made to identify and address these root causes.

Since the summer of 2015, I have been assessing a small pilot educational program that targets some of the issues that eventually lead to youth migration. Who benefited from the pilot and how? What could this case study teach us about how to direct future humanitarian aid to Central America? These were questions I set out to answer.

Root causes of uprooted childhoods

Civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala may have ended in the 1990s, but the violence has taken new forms. Since the wars, organized crime and corruption within Northern Triangle countries have become widespread. They are key factors that \u201cpush\u201d migrants to move out.

Meanwhile, there has been little economic development in the region, and there are limited educational opportunities for youth. These factors create the allure of opportunity in the north that \u201cpulls\u201d young people to migrate far from home.

Research has confirmed the impact of these push-and-pull factors. In interviews with 404 unaccompanied minors or children separated from their families, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees identified several patterns of harm in their home countries. They included violence by organized, armed criminal actors, such as drug cartels, gangs or state actors, and violence and abuse in their homes by caretakers. Many stated they had been abused by human traffickers while en route to the U.S.

Another study by the World Bank found that about half of youth in the region, particularly those of indigenous origin, are at risk of behaviors such as migrating. Poverty, interpersonal violence and violation of human rights, such as lacking access to education, contribute to this risk.

Voices of the youth

Since 2010, USAID has funded the Violence Prevention Program, which develops crime prevention activities in Central American countries. In Guatemala, it served 50,000 families across 21 municipalities between 2010 and 2014. It funded 26,761 vocational courses and involved 37,040 children and young adults in educational, cultural and recreational activities.

A 2014 evaluation of the program found that it was generally successful. Residents of the cities and towns served reported reductions in extortion, blackmail, drug sales, homicides, robberies and gang problems. Those interviewed reported greater confidence in the police and supported local crime prevention efforts.

However, another study on activities in Guatemala found the communities still perceived problems such as a lack of vocational training and limited job opportunities for youth. In response, an educational program was piloted as part of the Violence Prevention Program, in partnership with the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.

From May 2012 to July 2014, the educational pilot was developed. The program provided 159 young adults aged 16 to 24 with scholarships for technical education. I interviewed these youth, as well as administrators and staff of the organizations that were involved.

In total, 10 youth accepted the scholarship program in the Highland Campus. All of them were from Coban, a city of about 80,000 inhabitants, and one of the most violent regions in Guatemala during the civil war. The city is still affected by ongoing drug wars.

The scholarship recipients were both girls and boys, mostly of Pocomch\u00ed and Q'eqchi\u2019 indigenous origin. Mayan ethnic groups are often socially and economically marginalized and have limited access to education. The students chose to study mechanics, computer science and tourism programs. Through the university\u2019s departments of psychology and social work, they were provided with psychological and social services, housing, food and other allowances.

The young people I interviewed reported that the pilot program enabled them to access economic and social opportunities that they would not have otherwise, such as getting a job or creating their own enterprises. A female participant told me:


\u201cIn Santa Rosa, [girls] have to stay at home, waiting to become adults, waiting for a boyfriend to come so that they may get married. I always had a different idea. That probably motivated me [to apply to the program]. I asked my mom why she didn\u2019t give me education\u2026 Now that I was able to achieve all of my goals, I have seen that many of my female peers do not have labor security.\u201d


The youth I interviewed expressed no desire to migrate to the U.S. given the risks the journey poses. On the contrary, some were assisting in community planning to get improvement grants from municipalities and support organizations. One participant stated:


\u201cI accepted [the scholarship] because it was an opportunity that is not given [before; it matched my] desire for advancement, to study\u2026 if I educate myself more, I can be a better person and as a citizen to return to my community, like I\u2019m doing now, to give back some of what I\u2019m receiving.\u201d


The pilot included psychological and emotional workshops that was found to increase the self-efficacy, satisfaction, happiness and persistence of participants. A series of seminars were carried out as part of this to learn from the lessons learned from other educational programs.

Funding violence prevention

Currently, funding for these type of programs is not sufficient to create large-scale impact and long-term stability in the region. Funding the war on drugs and enforcing immigration at the southern border continue to take priority for the U.S.

During the 1980s, U.S. foreign assistance to Central America was earmarked to combat the leftist government in Nicaragua and contain guerrilla forces in El Salvador and Guatemala. After Hurricane Mitch hit the region in 1998, the U.S. increased assistance in the form of humanitarian and development. Then, under the second Bush administration, the U.S. established the Central American Regional Security Initiative to contain crime and violence and curb growing migration. However, a review of this initiative concluded that its emphasis on addressing security threats post-9/11 actually aggravated the roots causes of migration.

In 2014, the U.S. government committed US$9.6 million in emergency funding to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to assist migrants returned from the U.S. USAID launched a five-year, $40 million program to improve security in Guatemala.

Despite these efforts, youth continue to face limited access to education. The pilot I studied responded to the emerging needs of the youth at risk. Programs that strengthen the regional socioeconomic fabric of affected communities stand as alternatives to anti-drug operations. These programs could establish conditions for children and youth to stay in their countries of origin and live more productive and healthy lives.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/educating-children-in-guatemala-before-they-decide-to-migrate-to-the-us-border-74680.

"}, {"id":"26458d5d-6d25-5a35-9d5a-c846c69a5378","type":"article","starttime":"1490668753","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-27T19:39:13-07:00","lastupdated":"1490671963","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"How Facebook \u2013 the Wal-Mart of the internet \u2013 dismantled online subcultures","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_26458d5d-6d25-5a35-9d5a-c846c69a5378.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/how-facebook-the-wal-mart-of-the-internet-dismantled-online/article_26458d5d-6d25-5a35-9d5a-c846c69a5378.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/how-facebook-the-wal-mart-of-the-internet-dismantled-online-subcultures-71536","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Jessa Lingel\nUniversity of Pennsylvania","prologue":"Jessa Lingel, University of Pennsylvania","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","internet access","internet technology","computing and information technology","technology","social media","online media","media"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"26458d5d-6d25-5a35-9d5a-c846c69a5378","body":"

Jessa Lingel, University of Pennsylvania

(THE CONVERSATION) Before the internet, people interested in body modification \u2013 not just tattoo and piercing enthusiasts, but those drawn to more unusual practices like ear pointing, tongue splitting, suspension, scarification and the voluntary amputation of limbs and organs \u2013 had a difficult time meeting others who shared their interests.

The internet, of course, changed everything: You can chat and connect with anyone from your computer. And in 1994 \u2013 more than a decade before Facebook launched \u2013 body modification enthusiasts started their own social media platform: the Body Modification E-zine, or BME.

First operating as a bulletin board service (an early form of online message boards), BME eventually added features and functions that were forerunners before now-familiar online tools: blogging, wikis, online dating and podcasts.

But as sites like Facebook and Myspace emerged, BME found itself competing for attention with these new \u201cglobal communities.\u201d The story of the website shows how online communities can form and fall apart \u2013 and how Facebook\u2019s monolithic presence makes enduring internet communities for people on the margins of society that much more precarious.

A commitment to authenticity

BME, along with the longstanding punk scene in New Brunswick, New Jersey and Brooklyn\u2019s booming drag culture, are the three communities I studied in my forthcoming book \u201cDigital Countercultures and the Struggle for Community.\u201d

All three constitute what I call \u201ccountercultural communities\u201d \u2013 groups that define themselves as being, in some way, opposed to the mainstream. As someone who studies digital culture, I\u2019ve been able to see how outsiders can help us understand the biases that are built into everyday tools and devices, which are (usually) designed by straight, white men.

So what can we learn from a site like BME?

First, it\u2019s important to note some key factors shaping how BME managed membership and participation. In contrast to sites that require people to use their \u201cauthentic\u201d names to create a profile, BME allowed users to pick a pseudonym. The only requirement was an authentic interest in body modification. As a condition of membership, users had to submit photos or firsthand accounts of their modifications. These images and accounts were then vetted by BME members.

While tattoos and piercings might seem fairly common today, this was less true when BME was getting its start in the mid-1990s. And it\u2019s still common for people who have undergone some of the more extreme body modification procedures, like tongue splitting and subdermal implants, to be ostracized.

BME\u2019s rules for participation were meant to protect those who felt stigmatized. It also required members to take their role in the community seriously. Accounts could be suspended if users didn\u2019t post regularly, meaning that people couldn\u2019t simply sign up and lurk.

But a number of challenges arose. Body modification became increasinglycommon, threatening BME\u2019s outsider status. Then mainstream social network sites started to take off, and immediately started competed for users with smaller, niche sites like BME.

Trying to keep pace

After Myspace and Facebook launched, BME struggled to retain members who were attracted to the larger audiences and more sophisticated features of the newer, better-funded sites.

In 2011, BME planned an overhaul: For the first time, they\u2019d be utilizing designers from outside the modified community. After a series of delays and budget issues, the new version of the site launched. But there were bugs, and some users didn\u2019t like the new aesthetic, which seemed to mirror contemporary mainstream websites.

Meanwhile, content that was mundane on BME, like tongue-splitting and ear-pointing, could be extremely provocative on mainstream sites. BME users that gravitated to these new social media networks could rack up thousands, rather than dozens, of views. And as opposed to the outdated, sometimes buggy software on BME, platforms like Facebook offered slicker design and more sophisticated features, like photo tagging and geo-tagging.

Over time, these challenges to the BME community became increasingly problematic. Members deleted accounts or stopped posting. By 2015, the main community forum \u2013 which used to have hundreds of posts a day \u2013 went without a single comment for over six months.

Having predicted many of the web\u2019s functions and features, BME failed to anticipate its own demise.

The Wal-Mart of the internet?

How does the story of BME help us understand our relationship to technology?

When I asked BME\u2019s owner Rachel Larratt about mainstream social media sites, she described them as generic and bland.

As a small business owner, Larratt recognizes that Facebook can help businesses like hers thrive. She just disagrees with Facebook\u2019s contention that it\u2019s one big \u201cglobal community.\u201d

\u201cIt\u2019s all marketing,\u201d she told me. \u201cThey are trying to foster that idea [of being a community]. It\u2019s just staged, really, like a big box store trying to pretend like they are a local small business owner.\u201d

In building a massive user base, the major social media sites resort to the lowest common denominator for terms like \u201ccommunity\u201d and \u201cuser guidelines.\u201d Facebook\u2019s user guidelines apply to all of its users, even though its user base covers an incredibly diverse group of people, perspectives and values.

These policies can be tweaked and updated with minimal notice to users, which is also true of its design. Users have limited ability to communicate with Facebook\u2019s administrators when there\u2019s a problem, as we\u2019ve seen when drag queens demanded changes to the \u201creal name\u201d policy, when nursing mothers rejected censorship of breastfeeding photos and when LGBT activists insisted that photos of same-gender couples kissing shouldn\u2019t be blocked for being \u201cobscene.\u201d In all of these cases, Facebook attempted to enforce a blanket set of policies on groups that have a very different set of ethics and values.

I\u2019ve found that the people who lose from this approach are those on the margins, whose identities and experiences are least likely to be anticipated by designers without significant experiences of marginalization.

A generic, rootless place

Online life can be thought of as a place, albeit one that\u2019s more conceptual than physical.

Yet in Facebook \u2013 with its massive user base \u2013 Larratt sees a kind of placelessness, much as the generic predictability of Wal-Mart contrasts with the authentic idiosyncrasies of a locally owned grocery store. The blandness of Facebook\u2019s interface and the lack of options to customize or personalize its design contribute to this feeling.

Today, many think the internet is best accessed through a mobile device, which is sometimes labeled as a \u201cmobile first\u201d approach to design. Mobile first assumes that people will access the internet from a smartphone rather than a laptop, a design ethic that emphasizes apps and instant, seamless access, in contrast to a model of stationary and sustained attention. In other words, it\u2019s designing for someone who wants to check the news on a lunch break or scan through reddit threads on the commute home from work.

For those who value feeling as if going online is a physical meeting point, easy and fleeting connectivity can be perceived as a bad thing, trading convenience for commitment. BME\u2019s community was built up through sustained and regular participation. It\u2019s the difference between grabbing a Dunkin Donuts coffee on the way to work and being a regular at a neighborhood bar. Becoming part of a community involves hanging out, messing around and committing to local rules for participation.

To be clear, I\u2019m not making an anti-progress push against mobile devices. And I also don\u2019t want to suggest that countercultural communities are best served by outdated technologies. But it\u2019s worth considering whether mobility is always a good thing \u2013 and what assumptions go into the push for uninterrupted access.

Technology, and more specifically digital technology, often takes the blame for fears of social isolation. Hype about video game and internet addiction, along with stereotypes linking an interest in technology to poor social skills, makes the internet an easy scapegoat.

Yet researchers have found that internet access and social media use are linked to more diverse social networks. My research shows that the internet can be a powerful tool of connection and community support, especially for people who have nonmainstream interests or identities.

BME was meant to provide common grounds for people with uncommon interests, and for many years it did just that, becoming an online meeting spot as well as the authoritative source for body modification information. But BME\u2019s model lost out to mainstream platforms that prioritized bigger online audiences and more sophisticated design over niche interests and user-driven guidelines for membership and participation.

So as we continue to design platforms for an ever-growing population of users, it\u2019s important to consider who\u2019s going to be on the other end of the keyboard. Otherwise only a certain kind of community will flourish, while others will struggle to survive.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/how-facebook-the-wal-mart-of-the-internet-dismantled-online-subcultures-71536.

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It appears that the Republicans, during the 3,51 days (87,624 hours) since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, have been unable to fashion a viable health-care plan.

Yes, despite their numerous efforts to repeal the ACA, and a promise to improve the lives of many, it seems when it came to doing so, there was nothing other than potential legislation that would undermine the health care of millions of Americans and cause many, many millions of people to become uninsured.

Perhaps the Republicans need yet another seven years to come up with a plan.

Stuart Ulanoff

Oro Valley

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