Monday, October 02, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 2 Edition


"Yesterday, Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, addressed the Cadet Wing at the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory school. The purpose of the address was to discuss racial slurs written on the doors of African-American cadets. A potentially uncomfortable topic for some leaders to address head-on.

What the Lieutenant General did to handle the situation is inspiring, and a masters level discourse on leadership.


The Lieutenant General begins his speech by addressing the issue head-on. He's clear to point out that it happened on his watch, and that the cadets should expect to hear news like this from him. He said "some people down at the prep school, wrote some racial slurs on some message boards. If you hadn't heard that, I wanted you to hear it from me."

He's also very clear that it won't be tolerated "That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, has no place at USAFA and has no place in the United States Air Force."

Not only does he embrace his own accountability. He also addresses the moral accountability of all the cadets. Continuing, "some of you may think that that happened down in the prep school, and doesn't apply to us. I would be naive, and we would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think that we shouldn't discuss this topic."

He points to the current cultural climate in our country head-on. Stating "we would also be tone-deaf not to think about the backdrop of what's going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville, and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL.""

Criminal Justice Reform

Post dated September 27:

"Lawmakers introduced a bill today that would use the power of the purse to reduce incarceration and crime at the same time. The legislation is supported by civil rights groups and criminal justice reform advocates.

The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act of 2017 was introduced today by Rep. Tony C├írdenas (D-Calif.) in the House of Representatives. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) introduced the measure in the Senate in June. All three lawmakers, along with advocates, spoke at a press conference about the bill earlier today. The bill is based on a 2015 proposal by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

The measure is essentially the reverse of the “1994 Crime Bill.” Instead of incentivizing states to increase prison populations, the legislation would pay states to decrease them, while keeping down crime. It would reverse the current flow of federal funds, which largely run on autopilot and can promote more arrests and incarceration at the local level. The bill would encourage states to embolden their reform efforts, even while Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempts to increase the federal prison population.

Under the legislation, grants would be awarded every three years. States are eligible to apply if the total number of people behind bars in the state decreased by 7 percent or more in three years, and there is no substantial increase in the overall crime rate within the state. The bill could lead to a 20 percent reduction in the national prison population over 10 years."

Fake News

"During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Macedonian teens looking to get paid for ad-clicks, Russian cyber sophisticates apparently looking to tilt the outcome, and some homegrown mood manipulators broadcast outrageous and false stories packaged to look like real news. Their counterfeit posts were nearly indistinguishable from authentic coin and remain so, even in the face of skeptical but impatient fact-checking.

Although much of the establishment has been left wringing its hands about what to do—how to ferret out fake news and those who produce it—there are already tools and systems to help digital investigations and gumshoe reporters connect the dots and discover scams. Metadata—the data about data—can provide a digital signature to identify actors on the Internet. And the Web itself allows us to examine timelines, serialize events, and identify primary sources. Some signatures are harder to find than others, but they are all there; you just need to know where to look and what to analyze."

Governing, Politics

"The self-imposed earmark ban instituted in Congress has removed the most important tool available to lawmakers in passing bills. The ban was implemented by then Speaker John Boehner who viewed it as making good on a campaign pledge to end “business as usual in Washington.” He was right about that, but not in the way he intended. It is no wonder that ever since, Congress has found it so difficult to move legislation of virtually any kind except what is absolutely necessary. Just passing a continuing resolution to keep the government open or extending the debt ceiling is such an onerous and difficult lift for Congress that it leaves little time, motivation or incentive for consideration of the substantive and complicated legislative actions required to pass authorizations and appropriations in regular order. Maybe Congress was too hasty to clamp down on this versatile tool. Reviving earmarks would put the House and the Senate back on track towards passing bills, budgets and following regular order.

Earmarks are the currency of the legislative process. If you remove currency from an economy, how well can you expect it to function? Earmarks serve as a vital incentive to encourage lawmakers to support broader legislation. For that reason, they’re even more critical during periods of intense partisan disagreement like the one we’re facing for the foreseeable future. As Lee Drutman recently wrote, “A politics where ideology is the only factor in considering legislative outcomes creates an impossible situation. Arguing about the allocation of resources leaves room for dealmaking, and earmarks are the coin by which those deals can be made. But intractable ideological positions leave no room for compromise.”

But aren’t earmarks bad? Not quite. Earmarks are poorly understood, heavily scrutinized and unfairly maligned. There isn’t widespread agreement on what constitutes an earmark, but generally it is a sum of money directed to a specific project by a legislator or a group of legislators to be included in a bill or committee report. That is the broadest definition of an earmark."

Refugees, Resettlement

"Akron owes its only population growth since the turn of the century to a kingdom on the other side of the Earth. As many as 5,000 Nepalis, who held onto their culture during centuries in Bhutan and decades in refugee camps in Nepal, have made their way here during the last decade.

They went to work in the Gojo plant, enrolled their kids in public schools and learned how to navigate roads, snow and U.S. society. But real success in resettling refugees “means moving people from surviving to thriving,” says Eileen Wilson, who runs refugee outreach for a Cleveland agency called Building Hope in the City.

Thriving means different things to different people. In Akron, it’s come to mean a dozen Nepalese shops and restaurants in what were once abandoned storefronts on North Hill. It means neighborhoods where long-slumping home sales are recovering. It means a cricket pitch in the park, a Nepalese bed-and-breakfast, and the migration of refugees from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and New York ― the kinds of places Akron is used to losing people to.

It also means that a once alarmingly high suicide rate among refugees has dwindled.
Akron has declared itself a “Welcoming Community,” and Deputy Mayor Annie McFadden says the city and its newest residents are establishing a synergy.

“We understand that it’s not just the right thing to do as human beings,” she said, “but it has amazing social and economic consequences.”"

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