Tag Archives: child

Trump Plans to Cram His Entire Legislative Agenda Into Days 96-99

Mother Jones

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Did Mack Sennett ever make “The Keystone Cops Go to Washington”? No? No matter. That’s what it feels like right now.

Let’s see if I can do justice to our current legislative follies. For starters, it appears that we’re going to get health care, tax reform, and infrastructure all in one week. Why? I guess so that President Trump can say he got going on all of them in his first hundred days. Which totally doesn’t matter and Trump couldn’t care less about it. But he released a truly comical list of all his accomplishments anyway. Not that he cares. But anyway. Let’s move on.

Health care: The House Freedom Caucus has allegedly agreed to an amendment to the previous House bill—the one that crashed and burned last month thanks to the HFC’s opposition—that now makes it acceptable. They haven’t actually said so in public yet, but maybe tomorrow they will. Maybe. Basically, it allows states to opt out of the essential coverage requirements of Obamacare. Except for Capitol Hill, that is. Members of Congress will continue to get every last thing on the list. And there’s no change to pre-existing conditions except for one teensy little thing: insurance companies can charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. How much more? The sky’s the limit, apparently. Does $10 million sound good? In practice, of course, this means that they don’t have to offer coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition.

Tax reform: It turns out the Treasury Department really was taken by surprise on this, so Wednesday’s announcement will be little more than the same stuff Trump released on the campaign trail. Corporate taxes get cut by nearly two-thirds, to 15 percent. Ditto for “pass through” corporations like, oh, just to pull an example out of the air, The Trump Organization. There will be no offsetting spending cuts. There will be no border tax. There will be nothing much for the non-rich except a modest change to the standard deduction. There will, of course, be no details about which deductions and loopholes, if any, Trump plans to plug. It will be a gigantic deficit buster. And just for good measure, it’s probably literally unpassable under the Senate’s rules.

Infrastructure: In a laughable attempt to get Democratic support for his tax bill, Trump plans to add infrastructure spending and a child tax credit to it. The problem is that Trump’s infrastructure plan is little more than a giveaway to big construction companies, and his child tax credit—designed by Ivanka!—is little more than a giveaway to the well off. In other words, instead of one thing Democrats hate, the bill now has three things Democrats hate. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m not sure this is how you make deals.

This is lunacy. The barely revised health care bill probably won’t pass the House, let alone the Senate. Tax reform is just a PowerPoint presentation, not an actual plan. Plus it’s such an unbelievable giveaway to the rich that even Republicans will have a hard time swallowing it. And the infrastructure stuff is DOA. It will almost certainly be opposed by both Republicans and Democrats.

This is like watching kids make mud pies. I guess that’s OK, since this is all terrible stuff that I hope never sees the light of day. Still, I guess I prefer even my political opponents to show a little bit of respect for the legislative process.


Trump Plans to Cram His Entire Legislative Agenda Into Days 96-99

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Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

Courtesy of Phil Klay

We asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here are picks from author Phil Klay, who served in Iraq prior to landing on the New York Times bestseller list for his riveting fictional stories of war and the experience of coming home.

Latest book: Redeployment
Reading recommendations: I’ve been reading A. Scott Berg’s anthology World War I and America, a fascinating collection of essays, articles, diary entries, and speeches from 1914 to 1921. Among the riches there are several articles by W.E.B. Du Bois and James Wheldon Johnson, showing first-rate minds grappling with which political course to advocate in a world gripped by a massive war abroad while black Americans routinely faced horrific acts of domestic terrorism.

I’ve also been thinking increasingly about Teddy Roosevelt’s 1883 speechThe Duties of American Citizenship.” Though some of his positions are dated—”the ideal citizen must be the father of many healthy children”—so much of it holds up as solid, practical advice in how to go about creating political change. Roosevelt continually stresses the hard work of building up organizations and institutions as the key component of American political life. “A great many of our men in business,” he says, “rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties.” (Sadly, he has little to say on the possibility of tweeting your way to a greater democracy.)

Few things make me happier than reading Sandra Boynton’s Muu, Bee, Así Fue to my 14-month-old son. I don’t know if there’s any direct link between that book, which is mostly an excuse to make animal noises, and our current moment of political rancor, but I’d like to believe that the process of reading to my child is slowly teaching me to be a kinder person.

So far in this series: Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Karen Russell, Tracy K. Smith, Gene Luen Yang. (New posts daily.)


Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

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Thanks to Trump, These Taxpayers May Avoid the IRS

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump isn’t close to passing his proposed tax cuts yet, but he’s already inspired one group of taxpayers to avoid the IRS this year: undocumented immigrants. National Public Radio reports that while millions of undocumented immigrants previously filed federal tax forms to prove their “good moral character” in immigration proceedings, many are now wary of leaving a paper trail amid the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. While there is supposed to be a firewall between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security, many immigrants are skeptical that it will protect them from deportation.

There is a widely held misconception that undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes. However, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, D.C. think tank, roughly half of undocumented immigrants pay taxes using the IRS’ Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) program. The program is intended for nonimmigrant visa holders, contract workers, investors, and students. But many undocumented immigrants use it since it allows them to file taxes without obtaining a Social Security number. The ITIN program is used by 4.6 million people; in 2015, 900,000 people applied to get an ITIN. The largest numbers of ITIN users originate from Mexico, Guatemala, and India.

Undocumented immigrants are eligible for tax refunds and tax benefits such as the Child Tax Credit. This has caused conservatives to attack the ITIN program, demanding that Social Security numbers be required to receive the Child Tax Credit. Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) recently proposed a bill that would require this.

While critics present the ITIN program as riddled with fraud and benefit theft, the reality is more complex. According to the IRS, in 2015 the average tax payment for ITIN users was $2,089, while the average refund for ITIN users was $2,896. Overall, ITIN users paid $23.6 million in taxes and received $9.9 million in refunds. As an IRS report points out, without the ITIN program, people without Social Security numbers could not legally file taxes, which would result in the loss of that tax income.

It is also common for undocumented immigrants to pay taxes by providing their employers with false Social Security numbers, paying for benefits they will never receive. The Social Security Administration estimates that in 2010, 1.8 million immigrants used falsified Social Security information resulting in $12 billion in tax revenue.

The anticipated drop in undocumented immigrants filing federal tax returns is part of their larger retreat from public life in the wake of Trump taking office. There are reports of immigrants refusing food assistance, medical services, and other public services, as well as refusing to report domestic violence for fear of drawing attention to their immigration status.

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Thanks to Trump, These Taxpayers May Avoid the IRS

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In First Public Appearance Since Her Defeat, Clinton Urges Supporters to "Stay Engaged"

Mother Jones

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In her first public appearance since conceding to Donald Trump last week, Hillary Clinton delivered an emotional speech and urged her supporters to remain committed to fighting for progressive ideals despite her unexpected election defeat.

“I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election—I am too, more than I can ever express,” Clinton said, speaking to guests at a gala Wednesday for the Children’s Defense Fund, the child’s advocacy organization where she started her career after law school.

“I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America was the country we thought it was,” she said holding back tears. “The divisions laid bare by this election run deep, but please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it.”

As the crowd interrupted her remarks with applause and cheers, Clinton also acknowledged that coming to speak at the Washington, DC, event was not easy for her, but her sense of the importance of this work for children and families outweighed the difficulty.

“Stay engaged on every level,” she said forcefully. “We need you, America needs you—your energy, your ambition, your talent. That’s how we get through this.”

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In First Public Appearance Since Her Defeat, Clinton Urges Supporters to "Stay Engaged"

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Child Care Is Finally Getting Some Much-Needed Regulation, But It’s Still Expensive As Hell

Mother Jones

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The Obama administration released a new list of regulations today meant to improve the quality of child care in thousands of centers—from small mom-and-pop shops to large nonprofit and for-profit schools—serving infants and toddlers. Currently, every state has its own safety, health, and learning standards for child care centers, whose quality varies widely. The new federal standards aim to raise the bar for every center that works with any of the 1.4 million low-income children currently receiving a federal subsidy to cover their child care fees.

The new rules require, among other things:

More thorough background checks for all staff working in child care centers;
Unannounced inspection visits of child care centers that will be posted publicly for parents;
Regular mandatory training for child care providers, including safe sleeping practices, preventing infectious diseases and administer CPR, and spotting and reporting child abuse;
More professional development of educators.

“In some states, it is easier to become a child care provider than a hairdresser or a dog walker,” Brigid Shulte, the director of New America’s Better Life Lab, told Mother Jones. The new standards are a very important first step, Shulte added, but the rules cover only a small percentage of the roughly 12 million kids younger than five in the United States.

Shulte is the co-author of the just-released “The Care Report,” which analyzed the quality, cost, and availability of child care in 50 states. Using data from Care.com, New America, and many other recent studies, researchers found:

Child care is very expensive in the United States. The average full-time cost of child care centers for children ages zero to four is $9,589 a year, higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition ($9,410). Infant care is particularly expensive: Full-time care for babies in centers ranges from a low of $6,590 in Arkansas to a high of $16,682 in Massachusetts. In 33 states, one year of infant care in a center is more expensive than a year in public college. And while early care is subsidized in virtually every other advanced country, 60 percent of US child care costs are paid by parents, 39 percent by the government, and only 1 percent by businesses and philanthropy. Another study found that in Sweden, parents spend about 4 percent of their net income on child care; in France, Germany, and Denmark, about 10 percent. “It’s not surprising that our fertility is lowest in history,” Shulte said. “We make it very difficult for parents to have kids.”

Early-learning teachers make poverty wages, which contributes to high turnover and poor quality of care. The median wage of a teacher in this field is $9.77—less than what most janitors and parking garage attendants make. It’s no surprise then that nearly half of the 2 million preschool and child care teachers are enrolled in some kind of public support program, receiving food stamps or welfare assistance.

Percentages of Workers in Public Support Systems (2009-13) Source: Early Childhood Workforce Index 2016. Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley

The quality of child care is low and is the worst for ages zero to three—the most crucial stage for brain development. Only 11 percent of child care centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association for Family Child Care. The rest operate under state standards and licenses that all have varying—and mostly mediocre—rules and regulations.

Very few poor kids receive help. Only 1 in 5 low-income kids receive federal subsidies to cover child care costs.

Many policymakers still think that taking care of infants and toddlers is “babysitting,” Shulte said. But the research shows otherwise: The first three years of a child’s life are the most important for brain development, and parents or caregivers require specialized knowledge and training to promote important cognitive, social, and emotional skills.

That sort of training costs money, of course, but researchers like Nobel-winning economist James Heckman and others have argued that investments in these early years yield the greatest returns to society. Steven Barnett, a professor of economics and the executive director of the National Institute for Early Childhood Research, calculated that every $1 the government invests in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing crime, and increasing tax revenue.

Funding and enrollment for preschool is regaining its momentum since the recession: In 2012, 66 percent of American four-year-olds went to preschool. But despite these gains, the United States still ranks 30th (out of 44) for preschool enrollment among developed nations. And when it comes to child care from birth to age three, the US spends little to nothing: Only 6 percent of total spending goes to this age group, according to Paul Tough, the author of Helping Children Succeed. Compared to other nations, the United States ranks 31st out of 32 developed nations when it comes to government spending on early childhood education.

Getting the United States all the way to high-quality early learning is a long road, the authors of “The Care Report” argue, one that must start with sufficient and sustained funding from the public and private sectors. Other proposed solutions in the report include universal paid family leave, expanding cash assistance programs, and universal pre-K, and providing better training and pay for teachers. “Research tells us that the vast majority of achievement gap you see in high school opens up before kindergarten,” Shulte said. “The work to transform early learning is urgent if we want to reduce these gaps—like other countries with better early childhood policies have done.”

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Child Care Is Finally Getting Some Much-Needed Regulation, But It’s Still Expensive As Hell

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A Tip for Parents as the School Year Begins: You’re Not Totally in Control, and That’s Okay

Mother Jones

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For more than a quarter century, psychologist and author Ross Greene specialized in the most challenging children. Last year, I wrote about how his collaborative approach to discipline is diverting the school-to-prison pipeline. Schools trained in his method reported suspensions falling by as much as 80 percent. And after implementing his model, youth prisons and an adolescent psychiatric ward saw recidivism, injuries, and the need for restraints drop by more than half.

Greene’s new book, Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership With Your Child, addresses a broader audience and articulates a discipline and parenting framework for all children. One day, after he dropped his oldest child off at college, he spoke to me about the biggest parenting challenges, raising kids in a scary world, what parents should know as they face the back-to-school season, and what truly builds grit in children.

Mother Jones: This is your first book for a general parenting audience, as opposed to focusing on behaviorally challenging kids. What is different here?

Ross Greene: For a very long time, people have been saying to me, “What if you want to do this approach with every kid?” For a behaviorally challenging kid, you’re parenting this way just to help bring the kid’s behavior under control and to greatly reduce conflict. But you want to teach all kids the skills that are on the better side of human nature: empathy, appreciating how one’s behavior is affecting other people, resolving disagreements in ways that do not involve conflict, taking another’s perspective, honesty.

READ: What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong? Tristan Spinski/GRAIN

MJ: What are the most common mistakes you see parents make?

RG: The biggest mistake is overdoing it on the unilateral approach. Thinking you have more control than you really do. Losing sight of the fact that you’re your kid’s partner, not the person who’s pulling all the strings. Not letting them struggle. Swooping in and fixing everything and being way too punitive when punitive really doesn’t accomplish very much.

MJ: You write that modern parents are rejecting both authoritarian and permissive parenting—you call the approaches the “Dictatorial Kingdom” and the “Pushover Provinces.” But parents report feeling lost. Why is it so hard for parents to find a new path?

RG: Reason No. 1 is because of how they themselves were raised. Reason No. 2 is we’ve been lacking the technology. A lot of parents aren’t exactly sure how to go about solving a problem with a kid in a way that’s mutually satisfactory—doing that with their child feels very foreign to a lot of people. It probably explains why so many parents tell me their kids don’t listen to them and why so many kids tell me that they don’t feel heard.

MJ: Your discipline model has three specific steps. First, reflective listening to gather information from a child about the problem; second, sharing your concerns with the kid; third, working toward mutually satisfactory solutions. This can appear complicated and time-consuming, but when we wrote about it, some readers said it seemed intuitive and plain common sense. Which is it?

RG: I like to call it uncommon common sense. There is still quite the vibe out there that as a parent you have to be completely in control and in charge. This model acknowledges that being completely in control is a fantasy. This kid was someone the minute he or she popped out, and the idea that we can take this lump of clay and mold it into a form of our choosing is absolutely ludicrous. People still look askance at a kid in the supermarket who’s pitching a fit and think the parent is not sufficiently in control or not being sufficiently punitive. That’s an issue for a lot of parents as well.

MJ: Your chapter on “Parental Angst” resonated with me. It’s one thing to read a book and decide to change your parenting—it’s another thing to stick with it. What gets in the way of parents implementing your model?

RG: It does take practice. It’s not something you do well the first time. Another huge challenge is that most parents are accustomed to dealing with problems in the heat of the moment. When people are rushed, they’re stressed and you greatly increase the likelihood of being punitive and unilateral just because you’re trying to grasp control. The vast majority of things parents and kids get in conflict over are highly predictable. We’re disagreeing about the same expectations the kid is having difficulty meeting every hour, every day, every week. Because it’s predictable, we can have these conversations proactively. That is very hard for people.

MJ: Why is it useful to shift one’s view from “this child is misbehaving” to “the child is having difficulty meeting expectations”?

RG: Parents are much more likely to be attuned to what they don’t like than they are to the expectations that the kid is having difficulty meeting. Challenging behavior is just a signal, the fever, the means by which the kid is communicating that he or she is having difficulty meeting an expectation. Everybody is talking about the behavior. Behaviors float downstream to us. We need to paddle upstream. The problems that are causing the behaviors, that’s what’s waiting for us. It’s a crucial paradigm shift. We’re moving away from carrots and sticks, and time-outs and privileges gained and lost, and suspensions and detentions in schools, none of which will actually solve the problems that are actually causing the behaviors. It’s a whole lot more productive to be in problem-solving mode than it is to be in behavior modification mode. We’re focused on what’s causing the fever.

MJ: Can you explain how compatibility informs parents’ actions?

RG: When there’s a good fit between skills and expectations, there’s what we call compatibility, and we would expect a good outcome. When there’s a poor fit between expectations and the capacity of the kid, there is incompatibility, and that’s when we see people exhibit challenging behavior. People don’t scream or swear or pout or sulk when there’s compatibility. But most growth occurs when there’s incompatibility. When it comes to resilience, when it comes to pulling yourself up when you’ve fallen down, you don’t learn those things when things are going well. You learn those things when you’re struggling. So that’s when parents have to decide: “Am I going to swoop in and take control here to make sure that things go really well for my kid? Or am I going to do this in a collaborative fashion so that the problem ultimately does get solved but I’m involving my kid in the process so he learns how to do it for himself?” How I conduct myself when I get involved goes a long way to determining whether my kid is going to have the skills to solve the problem themselves in the long run.

MJ: What are the most common conflict areas between parents and kids?

RG: Homework. It’s so crucial to really get a good handle on what’s getting in the way of the kid completing a homework assignment. It can be so many things. Kids are overprogrammed these days. School is very demanding these days. No kid should be getting three or four hours of homework a night. There’s no breathing time, there’s no family time, there are just extracurriculars and homework and then go to bed. That’s a solution that has to involve the school as well.

Screen time is another very common one. It’s become a really important way for people to communicate with each other these days. But if we’re sitting at dinner and there’s no conversation going on because everybody’s got their head someplace else in their iPhone, that’s a family problem that needs to be solved. Solutions can’t be imposed. That just fosters resentment. If a solution isn’t mutually satisfactory, it’s not going to stick.

MJ: You write about kids who become suicidal, cut themselves, struggle to succeed in life. Parental fear is behind a lot of the controlling behavior. What can parents do to let go a bit and follow your advice to raise human beings?

RG: I just dropped my 18-year-old daughter off at college. I have fears about how she’s going to do academically. I have fears about how she’s going to do socially. I’m worried. I also have faith. Over 18 years of us solving problems together, my daughter has shown me that she’s got a good head on her shoulders, that she is pretty good at solving the problems that affect her life. If she wants my input, she gets it. If we’re being unilateral, then communication does not happen, the relationship does not happen. We never get to see that our kid is capable of solving problems on her own. We never start to build up the faith that they can actually do it.

We have forgotten that those skills on the more positive side of human nature have to be taught, have to be modeled, have to be practiced. The method of parenting described in Raising Human Beings is a perfect mechanism for teaching those skills. This is not me in sales mode, I fervently believe there’s never been a more important time for this book. It’s a scary world out there.

MJ: As we go into a new school year, what’s the one takeaway you want parents to have from your book?

RG: Be your kid’s collaborative partner, but also be a collaborative partner with the folks at school. Schools can be pretty unilateral too. Show them you know how to collaborate. Show them this is not about power. Let them know detentions and suspensions and paddling don’t solve the problems that are affecting kids’ lives. Those problems can be identified and solved but not by being punitive. My advice to educators is collaborate with parents; they know a lot about their kids.

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A Tip for Parents as the School Year Begins: You’re Not Totally in Control, and That’s Okay

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FX Series "Atlanta" Is Like the Black "Master of None"

Mother Jones

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Triple threat Donald Glover—writer, actor, and rapper—can now tuck another feather into his cap, as showrunner of Atlanta, a worthy new series premiering September 6 on FX. The 32-year-old Glover, known for his portrayal of the lovable Troy on Community, opted to leave that series after five seasons to pursue a show of his own. With Atlanta, he looked to his own roots on the periphery of the Atlanta drug scene who attended an elite northeastern college to bring a bit of realism to a fictional story.

Glover, a native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and a graduate of NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, plays Earn (Ernest), a Princeton dropout and a young dad who is “technically homeless” but at the moment is living with Vanessa (Zazie Beets), his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his daughter. Earn’s job selling travel deals at the airport only pays him on commission, which means his finances are constantly in disarray—at times he gets so desperate he has to borrow $20 just to take Van, whom he’s struggling to win back, to dinner. Discouraged and at his wit’s end, Earn approaches his rapper cousin Alfred (a.k.a. Paper Boi, played by Brian Tyree Henry) whose career is beginning to take off locally, and asks if he can be Alfred’s manager.

As is the case with most dramedies, many of the jokes here aren’t laugh-out-loud funny, even though Glover, during a previous three-year stint as a writer for 30 Rock, gave us many of Tracy Morgan’s absurd lines. Rather, Atlanta has a similar feel to Aziz Ansari’s Netflix hit Master of None. It provides an introspective look into the lives of millennial men navigating work, romance, and their own shortcomings as they become painfully aware of the people they’ve grown up to be.

Glover largely trades in his sillier comedic sensibilities for a more nuanced approach, while bringing much of the same charming awkwardness to Earn that he brought to Troy on Community. As a writer, Glover saves his most humorous lines for Darius (Keith Stanfield), Paper Boi’s hilariously enigmatic right-hand man.

What makes Atlanta particularly unique in the world of half-hour comedies is that fact that all its writers are black, and many are rookies in the writers’ room. “I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about black culture,” Glover told Vulture last month. The premise of exploring race in a comedic format is compelling enough, but Atlanta also manages to tackle gun violence, mass incarceration, sexual identity, and authoritarian abuse in the Black community (all within the first four episodes). Glover relies on humor, not preaching, to get his serious points across.

In the debut episode, Earn runs into a (presumably) old friend, a white man around his age. The friend uses the N-word while telling Earn a story about a party he’d attended, but he doesn’t use it when he tells the story to Paper Boi—a discrepancy highlighting flawed notions of whether, when, and with whom it’s appropriate for a white person to use the word.

In another episode, Paper Boi, now a rising star, spots a child playing outside with a toy gun pretending to shoot another child and proclaiming he’s “just like Paper Boi.” The rapper’s efforts to set the kid straight are lost on the child, thwarted by Paper Bio’s public persona. Elsewhere, as Earn awaits bond after being on a weapons charge after pulling a gun from his cousin’s glove compartment, another man in the jail’s holding area (where most are black) runs into his ex, a trans woman, who’s also awaiting bond. In this uncomfortable scene, the other men ridicule the man as a “faggot.” Glover then breaks the tension with humor: “Sexuality is a spectrum,” he stage-whispers to the distraught guy. “You can really do whatever you want.”

But then our attention is then drawn to a mentally unstable man clad in a hospital gown. Earn asks a guard why the man is even there—”He looks like he needs help”—and is told to shut up. Then, after the unhinged man spits some toilet water he’s been drinking on a guard, he is repaid with a beatdown.

Social issues aside, the show gives a dreamlike window into Earn’s personal growth (or lack thereof) and his life, which seems to consist of one obstacle after another. “I just keep losing,” Earn tells a wise stranger on a city bus. Yet if Atlanta maintains its careful balance of laughs and gritty reality, the show could well prove to be a winner.

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FX Series "Atlanta" Is Like the Black "Master of None"

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More Parents Are Refusing to Vaccinate Their Kids—But Not for the Reason You Think

Mother Jones

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Anti-vax parents are on the rise.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new reports and recommendations concerning parents refusing to immunize their kids against deadly diseases. Between 2006 and 2013, the percentage of pediatricians that had encountered a parent refusing a vaccine went from about 75 percent to 87 percent.

Vaccination will prevent around 322 million illnesses among children born between 1994 and 2013, the researchers write. Yet recent years have seen a loud, high-profile resistance to vaccines. The increase in unvaccinated kids has contributed to a return of dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough.

Though all states require vaccinations, 18 allow parents to opt their kids out based on their personal beliefs. The AAP’s new recommendations include a plea to states to get rid of nonmedical exemptions to vaccination.

For the first time, AAP said it supports doctors who choose to ban anti-vax parents from their practice. “The decision to dismiss a family who continues to refuse immunization is not one that should be made lightly, nor should it be made without considering and respecting the reasons for the parents’ point of view,” the report says. “Nevertheless, the individual pediatrician may consider dismissal of families who refuse vaccination as an acceptable option.”

In the past, anti-vaccination campaigns have stirred irrational fears (based on disproven, fraudulent research) that vaccines cause autism. But that’s not what’s driving the trend now, says Catherine Hough-Telford, lead author on the study. Instead, more and more parents simply believe that vaccines are unnecessary.

“The parents who are making decisions about vaccines today have never lived through measles outbreaks or children dying of pertussis or polio,” Hough-Telford said. “They’ve never seen these illnesses firsthand.” It’s important to vaccinate as many people as possible, doctors say, in order to create “herd immunity” by limiting the infected population so vulnerable groups like infants and the elderly are less likely to be exposed.

The survey also found parents decide to delay or skip vaccinations for a variety of other reasons, most commonly concerns over child discomfort and harming the child’s immune system.

Here are some of the key numbers from the report:

In 2006, around 75 percent of pediatricians said they encountered a parent refusing to vaccinate their child. By 2013, that number had risen to 87 percent.
Pediatricians estimated in 2006 an average of 4.5 percent of parents in their practice refused one vaccine, compared to 8.6 percent in 2013. The average number of parents that refused all vaccines went from 2.1 to 3.3 percent.
In 2013, around 73 percent of pediatricians encountered parents that refused vaccines because they felt they were unnecessary, compared to 63.4 percent in 2006.
In 2013, 87.6 percent of pediatricians had a parental request to delay at least one vaccine (the 2006 study did not ask about delays). Mainstream doctors consider PDF delays a threat to herd immunity.
Fewer pediatricians encountered concerns over autism in 2013 (64.3 percent) than 2006 (74.2 percent).
More doctors are sending anti-vax patients away: In 2006, 6.1 percent of pediatricians would “always” dismiss patients that refused vaccines, compared 11.7 percent in 2013.
Some good news: Of those that initially refused vaccines but were given educational materials by their pediatrician, 31.9 percent changed their mind in 2006, and 34.4 percent changed their mind in 2013.
In 2013, 9.2 percent of pediatricians couldn’t convince any anti-vax parents with additional education.


More Parents Are Refusing to Vaccinate Their Kids—But Not for the Reason You Think

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Here’s How Much Everyone is Freaking Out about the New Harry Potter Book

Mother Jones

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When I was a preteen I was so obsessed with Harry Potter novels that I spent New Year’s Eve on a Harry Potter message board. In fact, that’s what I did for most of my winter break: my family wasn’t the vacationing type and I was too young to really go out, so for countless hours I stared at my computer talking to other HP fans. (This was back when message boards were still a thing and avatars mostly consisted of cribbed celebrity photos.)

My obsession eventually died out, but going to see the last Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” in 2011 was still a bittersweet affair for a 20-year-old. It felt like both a farewell to a drawn-out childhood passion and the beginning of accepting the reality that there would no longer be any more Harry Potter books or movies to look forward to. I was, finally, an adult.

But now Harry Potter is back. Kind of.

Earlier this summer, a new play featuring a middle-aged Harry Potter, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” previewed in London to rave reviews. On July 31—coincidentally Harry Potter’s and J.K. Rowling’s birthday—the script was released as a book, just like in the good old days, at midnight with hundreds of fans flocking to bookstores to get their hands on the first copies. The script, written by Jack Thorne and based on a story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and director John Tiffany, has garnered praise from some critics and mixed reviews from others, but it’s also led to a collective spewing of joy, tears and fervor over the latest Harry Potter adventure.

See some of the best reactions below.

J.K. Rowling saddened a number of fans when she announced at the play’s premiere that Harry Potter is “done now.” But at the very least, a new movie based off a book in the Harry Potter universe, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” opens in November.

And will I be rushing out to get the new script? Not yet. But still knowing there’s a chance to revisit the series has given me a chance to time travel, back to my adolescent days of commiserating with other Harry Potter fans on message boards.


Here’s How Much Everyone is Freaking Out about the New Harry Potter Book

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Louisiana Is Getting Worse and Worse for Women

Mother Jones

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The Louisiana legislature continues to pass anti-abortion bills. The most recent one was signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards Tuesday night, and it bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, the safest and most common abortion method for women in their second trimester.

The law, known as the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act, was sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R), who said in a statement that the legislation reflects “who we are as a people.”

“In Louisiana, we believe every human life is valuable and worthy of protection, and no civil society should allow its unborn children to be ripped apart,” Johnson said after Edwards signed the bill. “Incredible as it seems, we needed a law to say that.”

During the procedure, a physician dilates the cervix and removes fetal tissue. The law leaves abortion providers with two options: either use a less effective method at that stage of pregnancy, such as medication abortion, or stop performing abortions after 14 weeks entirely. About nine percent of women who seek abortions do so after 12 weeks, when it would be necessary to have a dilation and evacuation (or D&E) procedure. If a physician were to violate the law, they be fined up to $1,000 and face up to two years in jail. The law does include a caveat that the procedure may be performed if the woman’s life is at risk.

“In a state with extremely limited options for women seeking reproductive health care, it’s unconscionable that Louisiana politicians are working overtime to pile on additional restrictions,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Louisiana women already face countless obstacles when they have made the decision to end a pregnancy, and these measures will only drive safe, legal, high-quality care out of reach for many women.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a leading think tank that provides research on reproductive rights, reported that legislators in 13 states have proposed D&E bans, despite judges in Kansas and Oklahoma blocking the laws. In the Kansas case, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists submitted an amicus brief arguing that bans on the D&E procedure seek “to substitute the legislature’s political judgment for the medical judgment of physicians to the detriment of patient safety.”

The legislative trend comes from model legislation penned by National Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that bills itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.”

For example, medication abortion is appropriate for women who are up to 10 weeks along in pregnancy, but after that it’s not considered a safe and effective method, and it could lead to complications for women in their second trimester.

Other laws that have been passed and upheld this year include those involving waiting periods and admitting privileges for physicians.

Last month, Gov. Edwards signed legislation tripling the wait time between a woman’s initial consultation with a physician and her procedure. With this increase from 24 to 72 hours, Louisiana joined Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah as states with the longest waiting periods in the country.

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Louisiana Is Getting Worse and Worse for Women

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