February 11, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:37 PM

IF THEY WANTED FIRST-RATE WORK THEY'D HIRE FUSION AND ORBIS:

The mysterious oppo researcher working in the White House lawyer's office: Michael Roman, best known as a shadowy operative who oversaw a research unit for the Koch network, now occupies an unusual and undefined role in the Trump administration (NANCY COOK 02/11/2018, pOLITICO)

Few people in or close to the White House have any idea what Michael Roman does all day.

Officially, Roman works as a special assistant to the president and director of special projects and research, a vague title that reveals almost nothing. He earns $115,000 a year for this work, according to White House salary records, and keeps an office inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

He reports to White House counsel Don McGahn, who represented the conservative Koch network as a lawyer during the period when Roman was working for the Kochs' Freedom Partners group as head of research -- a $269,000-a-year job that involved tracking the activities of Democratic political organizers and donors.

Roman, whose 25-person intelligence-gathering unit was officially disbanded by the Kochs in 2016, was hired by Donald Trump's campaign to oversee poll-watching in the final weeks before the election and was among a handful of unannounced hires who quietly joined the White House soon after Trump's inauguration.

He's not involved in the kind of advance work that researchers hired by previous administrations have handled, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former White House officials and advisers.

Posted by orrinj at 7:10 PM

ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:


Posted by orrinj at 7:00 PM

ALSO KNOWN AS HIS BASE:

Trump Praises Senate Candidate Who Spoke At Rally With Holocaust Denier (Aiden Pink, 2/11/18, The Forward)

President Donald Trump wrote a tweet on Sunday praising Rep. Lou Barletta, who is running in the Republican primary for a Senate race in Pennsylvania and has been dogged by criticism for his repeated run-ins with Holocaust deniers.



Posted by orrinj at 6:58 PM

THANKFULLY WE HAVE AN ARMY OF MUGGERIDGES NOW:

Kim Yo-Jong, Sister of a Dictator, Gets Celebrity Treatment from U.S. Media (ETHAN EPSTEIN, 2/11/18, Weekly Standard)
  
It's likely that only the most hardcore Vogue readers remember it--and presumably Anna Wintour and company are hoping that even they will one day forget it--but back in 2011, the venerable fashion magazine posted a glowing profile of Asma al-Assad. Yes, that Asma al-Assad: the wife of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has murdered hundreds of thousands of people--largely civilians, and some by chemical weapons--over the past several years while stamping out a rebellion. Even worse, as leaked emails later showed, Asma herself cheered along the slaughter; she was no mere bystander. Shortly after publication, however, "A Rose in the Desert" disappeared. (It's available now thanks only to the Wayback Machine.)

It's possible--likely even--that some American media outlets will soon have to pull a similar trick. For their coverage this weekend of the visit by Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, to the Pyeongchang Olympics is eerily reminiscent of Vogue's hagiography of the brutal dictator's wife.

Kim Yo-jong is no mere spectator to her brother's misrule of North Korea. She's an elite member of his regime, as director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party of Korea. There she oversees the propaganda regime that constitutes a key component of the enslavement her country's people. She's also a member of the Politburo. But don't just take it for me--Kim is personally sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for her role in sustaining North Korea's oppressive regime.

Posted by orrinj at 12:30 PM

JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON: 1969-2018  (Nick Allen, February 11, 2018, Balder & Dash)

The son of one of Iceland's first IBM computer programmers, Jóhannsson was born on September 19, 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland. While in university, Jóhannsson studied languages and literature, and started off his musical career as a guitarist for various indie bands. Jóhannsson idea of music's potential, in terms of arrangement and composition, expanded as he grew into the artist's collaborative scene. In 1999, he co-founded the Apparat Organ Quartet, which featured four organists and a drummer, earning comparisons to Goblin, Wagner, and Kraftwerk. This group was an extension of an artist think tank/record label that he founded in the same year called Kitchen Motors. The group held the values that he would carry into his compositions across all mediums, of "breaking down barriers between forms, genres and disciplines," according to his official website. 

Jóhannsson made his first contribution to the world of film scoring with the 2000 movie "The Icelandic Dream," writing music for film from that point on. At the same time, he was working on his own music, releasing his first solo album in 2002, "Englaborn." Other solo projects of note include 2006's "IBM 1401: A User's Manual," which had a sixty-piece orchestra accompany computer melodies made by his father thirty years ago.  [...]

With 2016's "Arrival," Jóhannsson was involved with the film early into its production process in the film about a woman communicating with alien beings who randomly show up on Earth. Like how John Williams created an unforgettable presence out of the aliens in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Jóhannsson helped design the soundscape for the extraterrestrials of "Arrival," particularly by using human voices of no discernible language. True to his other projects, he worked with sound recording technologies to create an arrangement that mixed natural and manipulated string instruments, to create the sense of an orchestra that is not of this world. 

As with these film scores and others, Jóhannsson took care to package them as standalone pieces. Always worth hearing in as loud a room as possible, he was able to make them separate from the images that inspired them, as if able to tell a story of their own. His score for "Arrival" in particular has the unusual seal of approval from prestigious classical music label Deutsche Grammophon, who also released his 2016 work, "Orphee." 



Posted by orrinj at 11:58 AM

EXERCISES IN NATIONALISM ARE NATIONALIST:

Putin's Sochi and Hitler's Berlin: The Love Affair Between Dictators and the Olympic Games. (Garry Kasparov, 02.07.14, Daily Beast)

Putin also wanted the Sochi Olympics to be his Peter the Great moment, the beloved Soviet summer resort town turned into an international jewel the way Saint Petersburg was built into an Imperial capital practically from scratch. It can even be said that, like Peter's endeavor, Putin's transformation of Sochi relied on a serf labor force. Foreign leaders coming to cheer by Putin's side at the opening ceremony, photos with all the Russian medal winners, it is easy to see the attraction. Putin also hoped to drum up some patriotic pride with a big circus to serve with thick black bread. This is the sort of delusion that sets in when a despot confuses himself with the state after too long in power. Absent the feedback mechanisms of a free media and real elections, he begins to believe his glory is the country's glory, that what makes him happy also makes the people happy.

There is a distinction here between Sochi 2014 and the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980 and Beijing in 2008. In those cases, the authoritarian propaganda machine was in the service of promoting the achievements of a country and a system. They were dedicated to the greater glory of Communism, the Totalitarian State, the superiority of the system and the athletes it produced. Nobody remembers who presided over the 2008 Games in Beijing and only a few might recall Brezhnev in Moscow. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee never appears on TV or anywhere else, nor does the director of the Sochi Games. No, this spectacle is clearly about the ambitions and hubris of one ubiquitous man, something it has in common with the Summer Games held in Berlin in 1936.

I will detour for a moment because this where I often see interviewers and pundits roll their eyes. The phrase "Putin is no Hitler!" forms on their lips before the word "Berlin" is completed. It is a fascinating development in historical ignorance that nearly any mention of Hitler or the Nazis is now ritually scoffed at, from professional journalists to anonymous tweets. "Godwin's Law," which doesn't even say what most wits seem to think it says, is immediately invoked, as if the slow and public evolution of a German populist politician into history's most infamous monster is beyond rational contemplation. [...]

The International Olympic Committee is an eager partner in all of this and also has a long and dark history. After the triumph of Berlin, for example, the next Games were planned for Tokyo and Rome. New IOC President Thomas Bach's strained protests about how foreign leaders protesting Sochi are "inserting politics into sport" ignore that fact that selling a huge platform for propaganda and corruption to a dictatorship is also "playing politics." By Bach's dubious rationale, the IOC would award the Games to North Korea as long as the venues were adequate and the fees were paid promptly.

Posted by orrinj at 11:16 AM

HOPE, GROWTH & OPPORTUNITY:

Sanctions relief, not more sanctions, may be the best way to promote reform in Iran (Connor Dilleen, 1/31/18, The Strategist)

In Rouhani, Iran has a president who appears broadly receptive to change and reform. He was returned to government in 2017 by a significant margin after having overseen the negotiation and implementation of the JCPOA. While some observers argue that he's not actually the moderate political voice that he's often portrayed as, his relatively restrained response to last year's protests suggests that he's understands the need for economic reform and an anti-corruption strategy in Iran.

After the JCPOA came into effect, Iran's national economic performance improved: growth increased from -1.8% to over 4% in a year. But significant structural issues will prevent further gains and limit the extent to which improvements in national economic performance translate into better living standards across Iran.

Within Iran, the issue of renewed US sanctions distracts from the economic problems that Rouhani's government needs to solve. More importantly, the US position on Iran and the JCPOA risks empowering hardline elements in Iran who oppose the agreement and who are quick to blame Rouhani for failing to deliver on promised economic improvements. It's not surprising that some in Iran see the hand of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad behind the protests. Iran's ongoing economic malaise feeds the hardliners' narrative that engagement with the West isn't in Iran's interests and that Rouhani can't improve the economy.

Time to bomb Iran: love bomb them.  Help them get the economy growing and the international integration going at such a pace that there's no turning back.
Posted by orrinj at 11:03 AM

WHEN REALITY IS YOUR ENEMY...:

GOP MEMO CO-AUTHOR CONGRESSMAN DEVIN NUNES CREATES HIS OWN CONSERVATIVE MEDIA OUTLET (GRACE GUARNIERI, 2/11/18, Newsweek)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman and GOP Congressman Devin Nunes, who co-authored the memo alleging bias in the FBI Russia probe and championed its release, has created his own news and media website. 


...best to ignore it.

Posted by orrinj at 10:51 AM

PITY THE POOR MALTHUSIANS:

UnHerd's optimists: the thinkers insisting we've never had it so good (Oliver Kamm, 02 February 2018, UnHerd)

Posted by orrinj at 10:45 AM

DO THE TWIST, GENERAL:

Scoop: Rob Porter telling different story than John Kelly (Jonathan Swan, Mike Allen, 2/11/18, Axios)

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter is telling associates that some senior White House officials strongly encouraged him to "stay and fight," and claims he "never misrepresented anything" to Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Posted by orrinj at 10:34 AM

GREATEST WAR EVER:

Former Qaeda leader in Syria 'welcomes' Israeli airstrikes  (DOV LIEBER, 2/11/18, times of Israel)

In a rare public expression of support for Israel by a radical Islamist figure in Syria, a former leader in al-Qaeda's Syrian militia on Saturday welcomed Israeli airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian targets in the country after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace, and called on the Jewish state to quickly "uproot" Iran from its northern neighbor. [...]

Hamwi was a founder of the Nusra Front in 2012. In July 2015, the jihadist group said it dismissed him for not falling in line with the group's internal politics.

He is now reportedly affiliated with the hardline Islamist group Ahrar il-Sham.


Posted by orrinj at 10:02 AM

AMEN, BRO:


Posted by orrinj at 9:11 AM

ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:

Funny people are also more intelligent, according to new research (Lowri Dowthwaite, 10/19/17, The Conversation)

Researchers in Austria recently discovered that funny people, particularly those who enjoy dark humour, have higher IQs than their less funny peers. They argue that it takes both cognitive and emotional ability to process and produce humour. Their analysis shows that funny people have higher verbal and non-verbal intelligence, and they score lower in mood disturbance and aggressiveness.

Not only are funny people smart, they're nice to be around. Evidence suggests that having a good sense of humour is linked to high emotional intelligence and is a highly desirable quality in a partner. Evolutionary psychologists describe humour as a "heritable trait" that signals mental fitness and intellectual agility to prospective mates. In studies of attractiveness, both men and women rate funny people as more attractive, and cite having a good sense of humour as being one of the most important traits in a long-term partner.

In psychology we use the term "positive humour style" to refer to people who use humour to enhance relationships and reduce conflict. This type of humour is associated with relationship satisfaction, extroversion and high self-esteem. Having a humorous outlook on life is also a good coping strategy. It helps people better manage stress and adversity.

There's a reason ideologues are humorless: they don't engage in thought.

Posted by orrinj at 9:07 AM

I WANT TO GO TO THERE:

Beer Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits (Garden & Gun, January 17, 2018)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

12 tbsps. (1½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced

½ cup cold buttermilk, shaken

2 eggs, one reserved for egg wash

4 oz. beer cheese, room temperature

1 tbsp. water

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Put the flour and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hooks. With the mixer set on low, add in the butter and mix until the butter is broken up into little balls.

Whisk the butter­milk, one egg, and beer cheese in a measuring cup. Add it to the flour and butter mixture, still mixing on low speed.

Once mixed together, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a floured board. Roll the dough out into a 10 x 5-inch rectan­gle. The dough should be around ½-inch thick. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles.

Separate the second egg, place the white in a small dish, and add the water to make an egg wash. Arrange the rectangles on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown and somewhat puffy.

Posted by orrinj at 8:52 AM

WHEN YOU NOMINATE AN ABUSER YOU OUGHT TO EXPECT HIM TO BE PRO-ABUSE:

G.O.P. Squirms as Trump Veers Off Script With Abuse Remarks (JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEXANDER BURNS, FEB. 10, 2018, Washington Post)

The president's seeming indifference to claims of abuse infuriated Republicans, who were already confronting a surge of activism from Democratic women driven to protest, raise money and run for office because of their fervent opposition to Mr. Trump.

"This is coming, this is real," Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump's former chief strategist, said recently about the female-fueled wave of liberal energy.

Mr. Trump's remarks illustrated a broader problem: Republican congressional leaders and strategists have pleaded with lawmakers and candidates to stay focused on economic growth and December's tax cuts, a message they hope will be their salvation before the elections in November. But that may be little more than fantasy in a campaign that will turn more on the president's conduct than any policy issue.

His comments on Friday, the first he had offered since images emerged of one of Mr. Porter's former wives bearing a black eye, were the culmination of a week's worth of politically ill-advised steps that suggest that the president and his lieutenants cannot stop themselves from blunting positive political momentum. By the weekend, Mr. Trump's State of the Union address, strong employment and wage figures as well as the onset of tax cuts seemed washed away by the latest White House controversy.

The frustration in the Republican political class is bursting forward.

"For members or anybody else who cares about keeping control of Congress, if you find yourself talking about anything but the middle-class tax cut, shut up and stop talking," fumed Corry Bliss, who runs the primary House Republican "super PAC," the Congressional Leadership Fund. "Any time spent on TV talking about anything but how we're helping the middle class is a waste of time and does nothing to help us win in 2018."

Republicans have grown accustomed to the president's lack of discipline and inability to reliably carry a message. But operatives overseeing the midterm effort and some lawmakers facing difficult re-elections are growing more alarmed that Mr. Trump's fixation on the Russia inquiry, personal slights and personality clashes inside and outside his White House are only encouraging his congressional and conservative news media allies to swerve off message.


MORE:
Gillibrand: If Trump wants due process, we'll have hearings on allegations against him (JACQUELINE THOMSEN - 02/10/18, The Hill)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) went after President Trump on Saturday for his tweet questioning a lack of "due process" in abuse claims, saying that Congress could hold hearings about sexual misconduct allegations against him if he wanted due process.


No fair taking him at his word!


Posted by orrinj at 8:39 AM

PARADE THE TROOPS UP THE CANYON OF HEROES:

The Case for a Big, Beautiful Military Parade : Few of the troops serving today have experienced the adulation and respect that can come from a major, national-level parade. (CHARLIE DUNLAP, FEB 9, 2018, The Atlantic)

Having served almost 35 years in uniform, I'm convinced that a national-level parade can help address the much-discussed civilian-military "gap," aid recruiting, and--most importantly--give all Americans the chance to come together as one nation. Couldn't America use more of those kinds of opportunities these days?

Analysts across the political spectrum are concerned that with only 0.43% of Americans serving on active duty, the divide between the military and the society it serves is widening.

Indeed, in 2010 former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that with military bases being concentrated in just a few states, and with the shuttering of many military facilities in the northeast and on the west coast, a "void of relationships and understanding of the armed forces [has been left] in their wake." Consequently, Gates warned that "there is a risk over time of developing a cadre of military leaders that politically, culturally, and geographically have less and less in common with the people they have sworn to defend."

Accordingly, isn't anything we can do to re-acquaint Americans with their military (and, perhaps even more importantly, vice versa), a worthy investment for American democracy?

What about the cost? Americans love parades--and advertisers do too. Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade attracts 3.5 million attendees, and almost 50 million television viewers. The TV advertising revenue alone was worth more than $41 million in 2016. The Rose Bowl parade has a much smaller crowd, but nearly the same number of television viewers. CNBC says that participation in that parade "comes with a hefty price tag, but corporate sponsors say the chance to get their company's message out to millions is worth the expense."

Let's get specific: even if the military parade was on the scale of the 1991 effort (estimated to cost around $20 million today), that's a miniscule part of what the Department of Defense already spends on advertising. In 2016 the Government Accountability Office said that the Obama Administration was requesting almost $575 million for the Pentagon "to conduct advertising intended to increase awareness of military service and ultimately generate leads for potential recruits." Obviously, the existing DoD advertising budget can easily cover the event.

And "increasing [the] awareness of military service" is important these days. Last October it was reported that Army recruiters found that of the 33.4 million Americans in their target age group, "only 1.7 million of those young people are of the high quality" the military wants, and "just 136,000" of them "would even be interested in joining the Army."

Maybe they need more "awareness" about military service. Young people often seek "deeper social connections" and have a "need to be part of something bigger than themselves." The military can uniquely provide that. As one expert put it, there "is nothing in the civilian workforce that can approximate the bonding that occurs in the wardroom, ready room, or foxhole." Those in uniform get through hardships, he says, because "they are all in it together." The "mutual self-sacrifice, teamwork, and covering each other's six" he explains, "contribute to individual bonding, unit cohesion, and, ultimately ... camaraderie." For lots of young people that could be exactly what they want.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 AM

SEND IN THE CLOWN:

Suppression Backfires As 'Democratic Memo' Rockets On Internet (Caroline Orr, February 11, 2018, Share Blue)

Almost immediately after the White House made its announcement on Friday evening, Google searches for the phrase "Democratic memo" spiked to a new high, reflecting a surge of interest in the topic.

The Associated Press reported on the announcement at 7:49 PM. Within the next 11 minutes, interest in the Democratic memo reached "peak popularity," as indicated by a value of 100 on Google Trends' search monitor, which tracks patterns in Google searches over time.

Trump appears to have triggered a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect, which describes a scenario in which an effort to hide or censor a piece of information backfires and ends up publicizing the information more widely.

Posted by orrinj at 8:18 AM

SHOOT YOUR TV:


Posted by orrinj at 8:06 AM

MISUNDERSTANDING DETERRENCE:

Mattis Goes Nuclear: Trump's secretary of defense has recently adopted some dubious and dangerous ideas about nuclear strategy. (FRED KAPLAN, FEB 07, 2018, Slate)

Mattis owns a famously vast library, and he has said that, in coming to his new views on nuclear matters, he read many books on the subject. This kind of scholarly rigor has served him well in the past, but when Mattis commanded troops in Iraq, he saw connections between the battles he was fighting and the campaigns he'd studied in the classic volumes on strategy--because those volumes were based on what has actually worked and not worked across centuries of real warfare. If Mattis ever finds himself staring down the abyss of a nuclear war, he's likely to find the books he's consumed nearly useless; the scenarios they spin, however tightly, have no grounding in reality, as no one has ever fought this kind of war.

In a fundamental sense, Mattis seems to know this. At the hearing, he quoted a line from the Nuclear Posture Review stressing that the United States would use these weapons only "in the most extreme circumstances." He also noted that he never says "nuclear strategy" but rather "nuclear deterrence strategy," suggesting that the main goal is to deter nuclear war, not to fight one. This is assuring, but he also said that a deterrent isn't credible unless your opponent believes that you would actually use it--in other words, that you would retaliate to a nuclear strike with a nuclear counterstrike--and that, to foster this impression, you need plans and weapons that enable you to do this.

The reason nuclear deterrence has historically failed is because of our failure to use our own weapons to deter others.  Had we used our nukes to regime change the USSR there seems little doubt that no one else would have nukes now.  North Korea affords a golden opportunity to make the point now. Take out Pyongyang now and people will take just the threat seriously next time.

Posted by orrinj at 8:00 AM

ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:

P.G. Wodehouse: Balm for the Modern Soul (Dean Abbott, Imaginative Conservative)

[G]rasping Wodehouse's unique power demands understanding this context. Behind the hostility to the notion of escape lie two ideas. First is the assumption that Modern Man must be strong enough within himself to bear the weight of the impersonal purposeless universe, strong enough to look into the void, strong enough to accept that the prison is all there is. Second, and more relatable to contemporary people, is the idea that modern consumers need no consolation beyond what they find in the endless stream of gadgetry and entertainment that flows their way. Modern Man, we are told, does not need consolation in the face of the void, not because he does not fear it, but because he does not notice it.

The reality is that modern people, even if they are unconscious of it, require consolation, a buffer against and an escape from the disappointment and turmoil of earthly life, as much as people in any other period ever did--quite possibly more so. People in the old world, at least, could admit without shame their need for consolation. We are denied even that.

Art, including the literary arts, has always been one of man's chief sources of this necessary consolation. What Wodehouse offers in this regard is entirely unique. The consoling power of his work arises not so much from the humor as from the detail in which he renders his worlds. Had Wodehouse merely been funny, the consolation, the reprieve from the troubles of mundane life, would have been lesser.

In these books, we experience the direct opposite of the real world, where sin permeates the creation. Instead, Wodehouse beckons us into worlds where humor, not loss, is woven through the underlying fabric of reality. In the real world, only a tragic view of life ultimately makes sense of our experience. In Wodehouse's worlds, that view would be nonsensical, out of step with how things really are. The power of Wodehouse's stories is in their implied guarantee that no matter how much of a mess we wade through in the middle, everyone will be happy at the end, because indeed this is a world of unshakeable happiness.

As with any novelist, a large part of world-building consists of choosing and relaying to the reader the right details of the time and place where the story is set. When Wodehouse began publishing in the early years of the twentieth century, his stories were set in the early years of the twentieth century. When Wodehouse died in 1975, his stories were set in the same era. While the rest of the world moved through time, his characters did not. This quality of being frozen, changeless, beyond time and its ravages, offers to the reader the consolation of being able to step out of this time-bound world into one in which human beings are not subject to the passing hour, one that has about it the quality of the eternal.

The physical setting of the stories matters, too. The spacious rooms at Blandings Castle, situated in a place called Shropshire that, although it shares the name of the county in the west of England, can only be a brighter, happier version of the real thing, invite us in. The country home of Bertie's Aunt Dahlia, at which nighttime shenanigans are sure to ensue, sparks in us a longing for those places, though they exist not in this world. This longing, insofar as we are capable of believing it will be fulfilled, is itself a kind of consolation.

Beyond this consolation, the works of Wodehouse address in a special way the problem of human pain, suffering, and evil. Theologians and philosophers, especially those in the Christian tradition, have wrestled for millennia with the questions of theodicy, specifically "why do bad things happen if God is loving". These thinkers have offered their answers, some profound.

Wodehouse offers no answers. None of his work is philosophically probing in the normal sense. But, that doesn't mean the experience of reading Wodehouse has nothing to offer us on this question. Rather than formulate for us an abstract answer, Wodehouse shows us what a world in which evil were absent might look like.


Just finished Code of the Woosters, in which a considerable amount of the comedy consists of various attempts to steal an antique cow-creamer, without any sense that such behavior is actually wrong, certainly not evil.


Posted by orrinj at 7:54 AM

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND:

ACT/SAT for all: A cheap, effective way to narrow income gaps in college (Susan M. DynarskiThursday, February 8, 2018, Brookings) 

[I]n a dozen states, the ACT or SAT is now given in school, for free, on a school day during school hours. In most cases, the ACT or SAT replaces the standardized test that students would otherwise take in high school, so there is no additional time spent testing. This is an attractive feature, given the widespread backlash against perceived over-testing in schools.[2]  Sitting for the test is also required, which means that students can't opt out because of low expectations - whether theirs or those of the adults around them.

In Michigan, in 2007, the ACT became part of the test required of juniors in the public schools. As a result of this shift in policy, the share of Michigan's high school students taking a college entrance exam rose from 54 percent to nearly 99 percent. The growth was even sharper among low-income students, of whom only 35 percent were previously taking the test.

Joshua Hyman, an assistant professor at University of Connecticut, studied the effects of this new policy while he was a graduate student at the University of Michigan.[3] Hyman analyzed the test scores and college attendance of all public, high school students in Michigan, before and after the ACT was made universal. This research was made possible by an ongoing partnership with the state of Michigan, which was launched with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences.

The results were surprising. Thousands of academically talented students in Michigan had not been taking the ACT (or the SAT, which Hyman also tracked). For every 1,000 students who scored high enough to attend a selective college before testing was universal, another 230 high scorers were revealed by the new policy.[4] Among low-income students, the effect was even more dramatic: for every 1,000 low-income students who had taken the test before 2007 and scored well, another 480 college-ready, low-income students were uncovered by the universal test.

As a result of this policy, more low-income students went to and graduated from four-year colleges.

The story in Michigan is echoed in other states and school districts that have made the ACT or SAT mandatory. In Maine,[5] Illinois,[6] and Colorado,[7] researchers have shown that a universal test uncovers many academically able students.

Something similar happened in Broward County, Florida when the district started screening all of its second graders for its gifted program.[8] While the Broward district is overwhelmingly low-income, black and Hispanic, its gifted program was filled with upper-income, white students when it relied on teacher and parent referrals to fill seats. A universal screening program tripled the share of black and Hispanic children who were identified as gifted.

Thanks, W.

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 AM

WELCOME TO SYRIA:

Russian plane 'crashes' after taking off from Moscow  (James Rothwell, 11 FEBRUARY 2018, BBC)

The  Saratov Airlines An-148 jet, was en route to the city of Orsk when it vanished from radar. 

Russian news agencies reported 65 passengers and 6 crew were on board, and that the plane crashed in the Ramensky district outside Moscow. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 AM

THE lEFT IS THE rIGHT:

The way the two wings root on any dictator who hates the opposing party is just another function of their sameness.
Posted by orrinj at 7:44 AM

TWISTING IN THE WIND:

Key Aide Couldn't Get A Security Clearance -- Under A President Who Likely Couldn't Either (S.V. Date, 2/10/18, Huffington Post)

[K]elly received word last fall that Porter had failed his security clearance investigation because of the domestic abuse reports. Porter at that time told Kelly he would leave the White House in December but agreed to stay at Kelly's urging, the Republican said on condition of anonymity.

It's just a question of how long Donald wants to torture the General.

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM

WE ARE THE DESTABILIZER:

Tillerson travels to Middle East to talk post-IS stability (Laura Rozen February 7, 2018, aL mONITOR)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey next week, on a trip focused on stabilization and reconstruction after the territorial defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS), US officials and diplomats tell Al-Monitor. [...]

After first visiting Cairo, Tillerson will attend two conferences being held in Kuwait on Feb.12-14: the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq and the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, according to US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman.

Cairo, of course, houses one of the regimes we'll remove before our work in the Arab world is done.

Posted by orrinj at 7:17 AM

THERE IS NO SYRIA:

Friend or foe? Assad quietly aids Syrian Kurds against Turkey (Laila Bassam, Tom Perry, 2/11/ 19, Reuters) 

Syria's U.S.-backed Kurds are getting indirect help from an unlikely source in their war against Turkey in the northwestern region of Afrin: President Bashar al-Assad.

Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria and Damascus opposes the Kurds' demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances.