Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was found to have violated a court injunction against providing new voters with confusing and misleading information about their registration.
(Image credit: John Hanna/AP)
Comment May/June 2018 Issue – By Gideon Rose: “Centralization of power in the executive, politicization of the judiciary, attacks on independent media, the use of public office for private gain—the signs of democratic regression are well known. The only surprising thing is where they’ve turned up. As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, “We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.” The United States has turned out to be less exceptional than many thought. Clearly, it can happen here; the question now is whether it will. To find an answer, the articles in this issue’s lead package zoom out, putting the country’s current troubles into historical and international perspective. Some say that global democracy is experiencing its worst setback since the 1930s and that it will continue to retreat unless rich countries find ways to reduce inequality and manage the information revolution. Those are the optimists. Pessimists fear the game is already over, that democratic dominance has ended for good. To counsel against despair, Walter Russell Mead uses history, and Ronald Inglehart uses theory. Democracies in general, and American democracy in particular, have proved remarkably resilient over time. They have faced great challenges, but they have also found ways of rising to those challenges and renewing themselves. There is no reason they can’t do so once again—if they can somehow get their act together…”
Majority of US teens fear a shooting could happen at their school – most parents share their concern
“In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a majority of American teens say they are very or somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school – and most parents of teens share that concern, according to new Pew Research Center surveys of teens ages 13 to 17 and parents with children in the same age range. Meanwhile, when it comes to what can be done to prevent this kind of violence, far more teens view proposals focused on mental illness, assault-style weapon bans and the use of metal detectors in schools as potentially effective than say the same about allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools. The surveys of teens and parents were conducted in March and April 2018, following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history. Seventeen people were killed in the attack and more than a dozen others were injured. The surveys also come as the nation prepares to mark the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Overall, 57% of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, with one-in-four saying they are very worried. About three-in-ten (29%) say they are not too worried about this, and just 13% say they are not at all worried. Nonwhite teens express a higher level of concern than their white peers. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of nonwhite teens, including 73% of Hispanics, say they are at least somewhat worried about this, compared with 51% of white teens. School shooting fears differ by gender as well: 64% of girls say they are very or somewhat worried about a shooting happening at their school, compared with 51% of boys…”
Linkedin Learning Blog: “Whenever there is change, there is opportunity. With report after report showing the world of work changing faster than ever today, it’s fair to assume there’s more opportunity than ever. The challenge? It isn’t easy to know where that opportunity exists. If only some organization with the resources necessary to answer that question could release a roadmap… Well, consider this is your roadmap. Using a combination of LinkedIn data and survey results, we determined both the soft and the hard skills companies need most. And then we provided LinkedIn Learning courses that teach those skills, which we’ve made free for all of January 2018…”
Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Northwestern University: “This is a interactive visualization I made of the congress members’ ideology positions, reduced to 2 dimensions, using the DW-NOMINATE method. This visualiztaion is developed as part of the IDEAS Focus Summer School on Data Visualization at Northwestern University. How to use this visulaization:
- Each circle represents a congress member
- The colors represent party membership
- Hover mouse over a circle to see name and state of the congress member.
- Use the slider bar to scroll over years…” [h/t Anne Zald]
Evidence for declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change. Ecology Letters, (2018) 21: 243–252 doi: 10.1111/ele.12889
“Forest resilience to climate change is a global concern given the potential effects of increased disturbance activity, warming temperatures and increased moisture stress on plants. We used a multi-regional dataset of 1485 sites across 52 wildfires from the US Rocky Mountains to ask if and how changing climate over the last several decades impacted post-fire tree regeneration, a key indicator of forest resilience. Results highlight significant decreases in tree regeneration in the 21st century. Annual moisture deficits were significantly greater from 2000 to 2015 as compared to 1985–1999, suggesting increasingly unfavourable post-fire growing conditions, corresponding to significantly lower seedling densities and increased regeneration failure. Dry forests that already occur at the edge of their climatic tolerance are most prone to conversion to non-forests after wildfires. Major climate-induced reduction in forest density and extent has important consequences for a myriad of ecosystem services now and in the future.”
Grist: “Remember those lawsuits California and New York filed against major oil producers for knowingly heating up the planet? Two counties in Colorado just teamed up with the city of Boulder to file a similar lawsuit of their own. The complaint alleges that oil companies contributed greenhouse gases to the atmosphere for decades while knowing the consequences. Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County are taking ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy (Canada’s biggest oil company) to court in an effort to hold them accountable for damages caused by extreme weather — events scientists have linked to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Colorado has seen a 2 degree F increase on average over the past 30 years, making it the 20th fastest warming state in the U.S. since 1970…”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has for the first time disclosed the number of paying members in a letter to shareholders. It also illustrates the vast multi-dimensional scope of Amazon's business.
(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Google’s work in natural language understanding is getting better all the time – “Google today announced a pair of new artificial intelligence experiments from its research division that let web users dabble in semantics and natural language processing. For Google, a company that’s primary product is a search engine that traffics mostly in text, these advances in AI are integral to its business and to its goals of making software that can understand and parse elements of human language. The website will now house any interactive AI language tools, and Google is calling the collection Semantic Experiences. The primary sub-field of AI it’s showcasing is known as word vectors, a type of natural language understanding that maps “semantically similar phrases to nearby points based on equivalence, similarity or relatedness of ideas and language.” It’s a way to “enable algorithms to learn about the relationships between words, based on examples of actual language usage,” says Ray Kurzweil, notable futurist and director of engineering at Google Research, and product manager Rachel Bernstein in a blog post. Google has published its work on the topic in a paper here, and it’s also made a pre-trained module available on its TensorFlow platform for other researchers to experiment with.”
Slide Fire will stop taking orders and halt manufacturing of the rapid-fire gun products. It is facing a class action lawsuit for negligence and the government is pursuing a ban on the devices.
(Image credit: George Frey/Getty Images)
World Bank: “The global economic upswing that began around mid-2016 has become broader and stronger. This new World Economic Outlook report projects that advanced economies as a group will continue to expand above their potential growth rates this year and next before decelerating, while growth in emerging market and developing economies will rise before leveling off. For most countries, current favorable growth rates will not last. Policymakers should seize this opportunity to bolster growth, make it more durable, and equip their governments better to counter the next downturn.”
Something was rotten in Parrish, Ala. Namely, some 100 million pounds of waste in a stationary train, waiting more than two months for disposal. But now, it appears the tiny town's nightmare is over.
(Image credit: Jay Reeves/AP)
TESS — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars.
French President Emmanuel Macron visits Berlin Thursday, amid differences between him and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over eurozone reforms.
(Image credit: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)
Some Democratic challengers are fundraising more than the Republican incumbents they're challenging. This revelation comes as House candidates file their first quarter financial reports.
A months-long FBI investigation reportedly yielded a recording of one of the defendants saying, "The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim." The defense argued it was protected free speech.
(Image credit: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images)
The industry is holding its annual conference this week at Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami. Critics say a Trump appointee is helping the industry by moving to ease regulations.
(Image credit: Greg Allen/NPR)