This Tuesday, September 22th at 10 AM or 1 PM, there will be a showing of Little Women @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:
2 hours, 15 minutes (2019)
Based on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, this is the sixth film version of the beloved story of the March sisters: four young women determined to live life on their own terms, in the years following the Civil War. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Timothée Chalamet. Directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, 2017).
Masks are required and you must register for a seat either by calling, emailing or going online at https://schedulesplus.com/wwtr/kiosk. There will be a limit of 10 people per movie time slot. No walk-ins.
Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of sixty-eight. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 6:53 PM, for 12h 12m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.3% of its visible disk illuminated.
That idea of civic breakdown in America looks terrifyingly real. “In the past, groups that have felt disenfranchised have turned to protest, a peaceful attempt to persuade well-meaning elites or beneficent institutions to expand democracy,” wrote Franklin Foer in the Atlantic. “But in the Trumpian worldview, those elites and institutions are conspiring against him. By delegitimizing the American political system, he has given his followers the impression that they have no choice but to assert themselves through nonpolitical means.”
“I don’t think a lot of Americans understand how fragile democracy is,” Raul Torrez, a Democratic district attorney in New Mexico who is seeking to restrict the actions of a far-right militia there, told my colleagues. “One of the early signs of a troubled democracy is when people decide that they’re no longer going to address their political differences at the ballot box — or in elected legislatures or in Congress — but they’re going to do it on the street, and they’re going to do it with guns.”
A new study purporting to show that the novel coronavirus was manufactured in a Chinese lab was published by a pair of nonprofit groups linked to Steve Bannon, the former top Trump strategist now facing felony fraud charges.
The study, co-authored by a Chinese virologist who fled Hong Kong this year, claims that “laboratory manipulation is part of the history of SARS-CoV-2.” Its findings were quickly picked up by a handful of prominent news organizations such as the New York Post, which hyped the “explosive” allegations that run counter to virtually all existing scientific literature on the source of the virus.
The study is the work of the Rule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation, sister nonprofit organizations that Bannon was instrumental in creating. According to documents posted on the Society’s website last year, he served as that group’s chair. The Bannon connection was first spotted by Kevin Bird, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University, and shared by Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, who called the study “bizarre and unfounded.”
A search of Google Scholar and the Rule of Law Society and Rule of Law Foundation websites indicates that the organizations have not previously published scientific or medical research, and it’s unclear whether the paper received any peer review. It was posted on Monday on the website Zenodo, a publicly available repository of scientific and academic research to which anyone can upload their work.
Thanks to the brilliance of these four computer programmers we can play Solitaire on our computers, discover Easter eggs in video games, write emails and resumes using the not-so-serious the comic sans font (even though everyone says we really shouldn’t) and shut our computers down with a simple Ctrl-Alt-Del command when they just won’t behave.
Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-five. Sunrise is 6:40 AM and sunset 6:55 PM, for 12h 15m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 6.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1832, representatives of the Sauk and Fox sign a treaty ending the Black Hawk War: “The treaty demanded that the Sauk cede some six million acres of land that ran the length of the eastern boundary of modern-day Iowa. The Sauk and Fox were given until June 1, 1833 to leave the area and never return to the surrendered lands.”
Changing voters’ minds is famously difficult. Recent national campaigns have spent more effort on increasing turnout—getting sympathetic voters to go to the polls—than on winning over new supporters. Political scientists and pollsters have found that as the country grows more negatively polarized, fewer true swing voters are up for grabs.
But the Wisconsin effort, notable for both its approach and its scale, seems to have found some success. From February to May, the advocacy group Opportunity Wisconsin, with help from a progressive advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., called the Hub Project, managed to do remarkable damage to Trump’s standing with a group of persuadable voters. The effort sought to identify voters who took a favorable view of Trump’s record on the economy but who might still be receptive to alternative perspectives, then spent weeks targeting them with messages arguing that the economy was actually not working for Wisconsin, and that Trump’s policies weren’t helping.
“The most impressive thing is that they clearly had some effect in changing how people think about Donald Trump, and that’s just really difficult to do,” says David Broockman, a political scientist at UC Berkeley who studies persuasion. “For a real program to have effects on what people think about Trump in the field, not an artificial setting like a focus group, is quite impressive. There’s very little I’ve seen this election cycle that has found that.”
Trump claimed again that Biden “wants to wipe out 180 million private health care plans that people love.” Facts First: Biden does not. While Biden does endorse a “public option” to allow people to opt in to a Medicare-like government insurance plan, Biden has not agreed to anything like the “Medicare for All” single-payer proposal Sanders is known for, which would eliminate most private insurance plans. In fact, Biden and Sanders clashed on the issue during the Democratic primary.
It’s possible that, over time, a popular public option would affect private insurers’ willingness to offer some private plans. But the Trump campaign is suggesting Biden is actively proposing to wipe out private insurance, and that’s not the case at all.
Farmers unleash the ducks en masse so they can tear up weeds, eat pests, and leave duck droppings that then serve as fertilizer for plants. The technique, which farmers have used for centuries, is known as ‘integrated rice-duck farming
Whitewater’s public comment periods are lawful rights worth defending, and there has never been a time when respecting public comment – humbly and gratefully – has been more important for the city.
Since June, there have been three meetings during which Whitewater’s current council president has deprecated public comment, or wrongly set the order of comments. These occasions have been an unsound departure from this city’s better practice of the last decade.
The paragraphs below describe each of these three occasions, with an applicable video clip, a transcript of the clip, and remarks about that occasion.
First, a bit of background —
One can describe the principal laws pertaining to Whitewater, Wisconsin’s public meetings simply and plainly: the comment periods at public meetings of the City of Whitewater (its council and its various committees and boards) are matters under state statutes and local ordinances. (For today, one needn’t look farther or deeper.)
Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law — part of state statutes (Wis. Stat. §§ 19.81-19.98) — does not require public comment at meetings, absent other statutory requirements for specific types of public meetings.
If only state statutes described rights of public comment, then public comment would mainly rest on government officials’ occasional condescension to the residents from whom government’s political authority derives.
And yet, Whitewater has her own ordinances that recognize and describe rights of public comment, provisions that lawfully acknowledge more expansive rights for residents than does state law.
Whitewater Transparency Enhancement Ordinance. For the last ten years, Whitewater has recognized public comment rights through her own Whitewater Transparency Enhancement Ordinance. Whitewater, Wisconsin Municipal Code §§ 2.62.010-2.62.050. The provisions of that chapter, in full, appear below. (Some of these provisions govern public participation in city meetings, others the recording of public meetings.) Where the city’s departure from convention is sometimes to her detriment, in this chapter of the municipal code her recognition of residents’ rights is wholly to her credit. Whitewater’s former council president (Singer) respected consistently this chapter of the local code; the city’s current council present (Binnie), although a long-serving councilman, has taken a different path.
The Section 2.62.010 explains “The purpose of this chapter is to maximize public awareness and participation in City of Whitewater Government. (Emphasis aded.)
Section 2.62.040 describes meeting procedures:
(a) All council, committee, commission and board meetings shall have a public input agenda item to allow citizens to make statements on matters that are not on the agenda.
(b) All council, committee, commission and boards shall allow the public an opportunity to comment on substantive items on the meeting agenda. The council, committee, commission or board shall have the discretion to impose time limits and other reasonable procedural rules concerning the public comment.
(c) If the agenda for a council, committee, commission or board meeting includes staff reports or other reports, a specifc description of the item to be reported on shall be listed on the agenda and said report(s) shall be limited to the speci”c items listed in the agenda.
In recent months, departing from years of respect for these promises, Whitewater’s new council president has deprecated public comment or manipulated public comment beyond a reasonable procedural rule.
Discussion of those occasions appears below along with a recording and transcript. After each, I’ve added a few remarks.
President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic showed a “flat-out disregard for human life” because his “main concern was the economy and his reelection,” according to a senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force who left the White House in August.
Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Pence for two years, said that the administration’s response cost lives and that she will vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this fall because of her experience in the Trump White House.
“The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure,” she said in an interview.
Troye is the first Trump administration official who worked extensively on the coronavirus response to forcefully speak out against Trump and his handling of the pandemic. She joins a growing number of former officials, including former national security adviser John Bolton and former defense secretary Jim Mattis, who have detailed their worries about what happened during their time in the administration while declaring that Trump is unfit to be president.
Another 860,000 people applied for unemployment insurance claims last week — the 26th-straight week that unemployment claims remained above a pre-pandemic record dating to the 1960s.
And 659,000 people had claims processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for self-employed and gig workers, a drop of about 200,000 after those numbers had risen for weeks.
The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance went up by about 100,000, to 29.7 million, as of Aug. 29, the most recent week available for this statistic.
The number of new unemployment claims has come down gradually over the last few months, but claims remain above the historical levels from before the pandemic, a sign of the continued economic head winds the country is facing.
Joe Brusuelas, the chief economist at RSM, wrote that the continued high levels of unemployment claims were a “reflection of the deep scarring in the domestic labor market and economy.”
A prominent American former magazine columnist who accused Donald Trump of raping her in the 1990s has joined a chorus of voices supporting the latest woman to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting her, Amy Dorris.
Dorris, a former model and actor, said in a Guardian interview published on Thursday that Trump had forced his tongue down her throat and groped her at the 1997 US Open.
The coronavirus has caused severe budget problems for American higher education. But many colleges’ financial troubles are much larger than the virus. They have been building for years and stem, above all, from a breakdown in this country’s hodgepodge system of paying for higher education.
The current system arose after World War II and depended on three sources of money: students (and their parents); the federal government; and state governments. Of those, state governments were supposed to provide the most money. That’s why many Americans attend something known as a state college.
Over time, though, state officials came to a realization. If they cut their higher-education budgets, colleges could make up the shortfall by raising tuition. Many other state-funded programs, like health care, highways, prisons and K-12 education, have no such alternative.
These budget cuts have left most colleges struggling for resources, even as elite colleges, both private and public, can raise substantial revenue from tuition and alumni donations. Not surprisingly, inequality in higher education has grown. Many poor and middle-class students who excel in high school attend colleges with inadequate resources and low graduation rates — and end up with student debt but no degree.
Now that universities face the emergency of a pandemic, they are stuck. Calling a halt to on-campus operations and going totally online, thereby waiving on-campus fees, was the right, moral choice. And yet it was the option that this reckless system could never take, because those inflated fees were needed to pay the fixed costs of the business model. Without sufficient state funds, universities are reliant on federal grant money, which requires students to enroll. If online courses drive away even a fraction of those students, the house of cards will collapse. For the university to do the right thing would be financial suicide.
This problem doesn’t exist just for big state schools. Even smaller schools are caught in the trap, because they are forced to compete in the ecosystem created by the state schools. What is to be done?
An obvious point: no one should take satisfaction in the economic distress in which colleges find themselves. Although I have been a critic – strongly and rightly – of serial administrative failures on our local campus, I have always believed in university life for persons individually and for society collectively.
Among even my earliest memories are especially happy ones of my father and uncle often taking me through a university campus.
Financial strains, made worse by the pandemic, are calls for lasting change long after the pandemic fades.
Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there.
D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington.
In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters.
On June 1, federal forces pushed protesters from the park across from the White House, blanketing the street with clouds of tear gas, firing stun grenades, setting off smoke bombs and shoving demonstrators with shields and batons, eliciting criticism that the response was extreme. The Trump administration has argued that officers were responding to violent protesters who had been igniting fireworks, setting fires and throwing water bottles and rocks at police.
But DeMarco’s account contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd. His testimony also offers a glimpse into the equipment and weaponry federal forces had — and others that they sought — during the early days of protests that have continued for more than 100 days in the nation’s capital.
DeMarco, who provided his account as a whistleblower, was the senior-most D.C. National Guard officer on the ground that day and served as a liaison between the National Guard and U.S. Park Police.
One-time QAnon supporter Lauren Witzke won the Republican Senate primary in Delaware on Tuesday, campaigning on a pledge to institute a decade-long moratorium on all immigration and beating a rival candidate endorsed by the state GOP by nearly 14 percentage points.
With her victory still just hours old, the newest Republican Senate nominee publicly thanked a white nationalist leader who marched in the “Unite the Right” rally and has questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.
“Thank you, Nick!” Witzke tweeted in response to a tweet from Nick Fuentes, a Charlottesville participant who has become the face of the far-right angry, young white nationalist fringe.
It’s not just Fuentes with whom Witzke communicates. She also is regularly in contact with anti-Semitic and white nationalist figures in the “America First” faction of the pro-Trump right.
Witzke has also more or less endorsed the idea of Trump becoming a lifelong king of the United States, and said she believes that the earth is flat.
Whitewater has many needs, but fulfilling them requires setting aside the city’s longstanding addiction to press releases, public relations, ‘messaging,’ etc. That approach is both ineffectual and proud (where pride is a sin).
Worse still is the irreparably conflicted role of politician and reporter, a government intrusion into civil society, a bad habit of Old Whitewater that has grown worse this year. That toxic potion offers no good, and much that is bad. Better nothing than the wrong thing: first do no harm.
Politicians, appointed officials, business lobbyists, Old Whitewater’s thinning ranks of self-promoters, or commuters who hold sway only part of the day — we need more than that. It’s good to have people who speak or write, as I do, but that’s not enough, either.
Whitewater needs her own version of Dorothy Day – someone committed to a lifetime of charitable work on behalf of this community without flinching or favoritism. Someone here, who will hold fast come what may, unyielding, beginning and ending each day in the place of her devoted efforts.
We don’t have that yet, at least not anyone so admirably fierce as Day was. I’ll never stop hoping.
Needless to say, Dorothy Day’s economic proposals would not be mine; her orthodox Catholicism would not be my Protestantism.
And yet, and yet, she will be forever admirable – and was one of America’s towering figures of the twentieth century – because she was rightly and sincerely committed to the disadvantaged, steadfastly so.
Last night, among other items, Whitewater Common Council’s met and considered municipal actions in response to the pandemic, heard presentations from Downtown Whitewater, Inc. and Discover Whitewater, and appointed a resident to fill a council vacancy in AD 5.
A few remarks —
1.Pandemic Responses. Whitewater’s council last week declined, on a vote of 5-1, to consider an ordinance restricting mass gatherings during the pandemic. A majority of the council last night held that same view, and so did not direct Whitewater’s city attorney to draft another version of an ordinance.
Interim Chancellor Dr. Greg Cook spoke last night, but nothing he said brought about a majority for an ordinance regulating mass-gatherings. Responding to concerns about quarantine policy, or responding to a likely misunderstanding about how data are collected at UW-Whitewater, was more useful to the community.
2. Councilmember appointed. Council appointed Greg Majkrzak to serve as the AD 5 councilman until next April.
3. Policing. Whitewater now has, as almost all college towns have, a mutual aid agreement between municipal and university law enforcement. (If requested, one agency will come to the assistance of the other.)
The city and university are now working on a co-enforcement agreement, where action by one force or another would not be limited merely to a specific request (but rather be more liberally allowed under the terms of the co-enforcement agreement).
There’s nothing meaningful to say until one sees the terms of a draft agreement (a draft that will be an item on a future council agenda, perhaps next month).
Whitewater doesn’t have a public health department, so she does not have a public health officer. It does no good for the city’s common council president to carry on as though he is a municipal health officer. He’s over-confident in himself and under-trained in the field. His speculations and inquiries implicate not only his judgment but that of Whitewater’s municipal government and the private organization, the Whitewater Community Foundation, that publishes his work.
There’s a difference in roles between Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: one has to manage an institution and her majority caucus, the other is free to advance her own ideological views without having to manage others’ cooperation.
Some people are suited to one role, but not the other — it’s unfortunate not to see as much.
One should hear others out fully. Residents and council members should always be allowed to hold their opinions: as a matter of right, for others’ edification, and even so that opposing parties may reply informatively.
Across society, in all sorts of professions, America has become more causal: one goes on a first-name basis, shirts are open collar, etc. At the university, it’s all titles and hierarchy: interim chancellor, assistant vice chancellor, deputy adjutant vice director of residence hall number 5, etc. These titles are expected each time someone uses a university official’s name. Fair enough if the university wants to carry on that way.
It sounds absurd, however, outside the university — including among professionals. Indeed, it’s more like a parody of a hierarchy and professional life. If one wants to speak persuasively outside a university environment, once needs to speak the way others do (including other professionals).
It’s no less discordant for councilmembers to speak of each other formally as Mr. This or Ms. That. A small town runs on a first-name basis, but if local government adopts for its officials an awkward, old-school usage, then this libertarian will not object.
Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-seven. Sunrise is 6:37 AM and sunset 7:01 PM, for 12h 23m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
The messages have been emanating in recent months from the accounts of young people in Arizona seemingly expressing their own views — standing up for President Trump in a battleground state and echoing talking points from his reelection campaign.
Far from representing a genuine social media groundswell, however, the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.
Teenagers, some of them minors, are being paid to pump out the messages at the direction of Turning Point Action, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, the prominent conservative youth organization based in Phoenix, according to four people with independent knowledge of the effort. Their descriptions were confirmed by detailed notes from relatives of one of the teenagers who recorded conversations with him about the efforts.
The campaign draws on the spam-like behavior of bots and trolls, with the same or similar language posted repeatedly across social media. But it is carried out, at least in part, by humans paid to use their own accounts, though nowhere disclosing their relationship with Turning Point Action or the digital firm brought in to oversee the day-to-day activity. One user included a link to Turning Point USA’s website in his Twitter profile until The Washington Post began asking questions about the activity.
In response to questions from The Post, Twitter on Tuesday suspended at least 20 accounts involved in the activity for “platform manipulation and spam.” Facebook also removed a number of accounts as part of what the company said is an ongoing investigation.
Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.
“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” wrote Zhang, who declined to talk to BuzzFeed News. Her LinkedIn profile said she “worked as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team” and dealt with “bots influencing elections and the like.”