We begin today with Steven Brill writing for The New York Times that the upcoming Jan. 6 trial for Number 45 should be televised.
Sometime this year or next, a Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., will likely be the scene of what may be the most consequential trial in the nation’s history. A jury will have to decide whether a former president of the United States is guilty of plotting to corrupt the democratic process and overturn an election.
Federal court rules do not allow cameras in any criminal trials. However, no matter which side of this Donald Trump case you may be rooting for, you should want those rules to be suspended so that this trial can be televised live.
The last thing our country and the world needs is for this trial to become the ultimate divisive spin game, in which each side roots for its team online and on the cable news networks as if cheering from the bleachers. Much of that would still happen, but imagine how a quiet, methodical, but sure-to-be-riveting presentation of both sides’ arguments — subject to the rules of evidence and decorum of a federal court, not the algorithms of Facebook and Twitter — might temper the national mood when a verdict is announced. At the least, it will make people more informed about what could be the single most important activity their government will conduct in their lifetimes.
Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post is seeking and not finding a unifying and singular voice of moral authority in the aftermath of Number 45’s Jan. 6 indictments.
The indictment’s aftermath has showcased how the country lacks a trusted singular voice of moral authority, one who could speak out on one of the most contentious and consequential judicial actions in political history: a former president charged with conspiring to undermine the nation’s democracy. If President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation in 1974 yielded the reassuring presence of CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, moderate Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and — at least until he pardoned Nixon — incoming President Gerald Ford, this moment conspicuously lacks such a figure.
“There’s nobody that the public at large is willing to listen to, because the trust in government has corroded to such a low degree,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and author of a biography of Cronkite. “And the polling on journalists, the Supreme Court, Congress, the presidency — they’re all low. People aren’t admiring our public servants.”
Mike Lofgren writes for Salon wondering why the richest and most militarily powerful nation in the world is going backwards. (Pushing fair use a little here.)
Are you taking a plane at 7:30 tonight? Practically everywhere else in the world it would be 19:30. To avoid ambiguity for scheduling purposes, virtually the entire world (again, except the U.S.), uses the 24-hour clock. It is the standard for science, militaries and computer support. Evidently the mental exertion involved is just too much for Americans.
One might think that the United States, home of the world’s biggest tech companies and the country where the internet originated, might be unchallenged in internet connectivity. Figures say otherwise: The U.S. ranks 27th in global internet connectivity. Part of the reason might be cost: Within the OECD, a group of mostly rich industrialized countries, the U.S. has the second most expensive internet service for customers.
This story of high prices and poor outcomes is true almost across the board for vital services, and there is none more vital than health care. The U.S. spends 17.8 percent of GDP on health care, nearly twice as much as the average OECD country. Health spending per person in America is almost twice as high as in the next most expensive country, Germany, and four times higher than in South Korea. […]
One could provide enough additional examples to fill a book. How did America, the quintessential “modern” country in the mid-20th century, become so backward? Perhaps it’s a result of falling economic productivity. Robert Gordon, in “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” argues that the most rapid increases in the American standard of living came between 1870 and 1930, although impressive increases continued until about 1970. After that, productivity fell to little more than half its previous rate of increase.
Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times writes about the weakening Republican war on “woke.”
For Republican candidates, no word has hijacked political discourse quite like “woke,” a term few can define but many have used to capture what they see as left-wing views on race, gender and sexuality that have strayed far beyond the norms of American society. […]
The term has become quick a way for candidates to flash their conservative credentials, but battling “woke” may have less political potency than they think. Though conservative voters might be irked at modern liberalism, successive New York Times/Siena College polls of Republican voters nationally and then in Iowa found that candidates were unlikely to win votes by narrowly focusing on rooting out left-wing ideology in schools, media, culture and business.
Instead, Republican voters are showing a “hand’s off” libertarian streak in economics, and a clear preference for messages about “law and order” in the nation’s cities and at its borders.
Patrick Marley and Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post write about Tuesday’s special election in Ohio that will decide whether the threshold for voter-approved amendments to the Ohio Constitution will be raised to 60%.
Republicans in the Ohio legislature placed the issue on the ballot in anticipation of a vote on abortion access in November.
Supporters of abortion rights and other advocates for keeping the citizen initiative process intact have accused Republican lawmakers of trying to thwart the will of the majority and weaken voters’ voices. Republicans and opponents of abortion have defended their call for the special election, arguing that there should be a high bar for amending the state constitution, just as there is for modifying the U.S. Constitution. They argue that voters still would have a say in state policy under their plan and contend that they want to prevent out-of-state groups from wielding outsize influence in Ohio.
In essence, Ohio voters are grappling with a confluence of two hot-button ideas: the fate of abortion rights and, when it comes to citizens’ ability to change the state constitution, the future of an important tool of democracy. […]
Opponents of a 60 percent threshold contend that the Republicans’ line of argument is disingenuous. They say raising the bar for changing the constitution will make it harder to end partisan gerrymandering and ensure voters have fair representation. Plus, they contend, it would make it all but impossible to change the constitution in ways that conservatives would support.
Richard Fry of Pew Research Center notes that about one in five stay-at-home parents are fathers.
Between 1989 and 2021, the share of mothers who were not employed for pay decreased slightly, from 28% to 26%. Over the same span, the share of fathers who were not working increased from 4% to 7%. […]
Due to these diverging trends, dads now represent 18% of stay-at-home parents, up from 11% in 1989.
The reasons mothers and fathers give for not working for pay differ significantly. In 2021, the vast majority of stay-at-home moms (79%) said they took care of the home or family. About one-in-ten (9%) said they were at home because they were ill or disabled, and smaller shares said they didn’t work because they were students, unable to find work or retired.
Stay-at-home dads cite more varied reasons for not working for pay. In 2021, 23% stayed home to care for the home or family. That is up from only 4% in 1989 but still well below the share of stay-at-home moms who said the same.
Niger has become the latest country in West Africa where the army has seized control, following Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Chad – all former French colonies. Since 1990, a striking 78% of the 27 coups in sub-Saharan Africa have occurred in Francophone states leading some commentators to ask whether France – or the legacy of French colonialism – is to blame? […]
The historical record provides some support for these grievances. French colonial rule established political systems designed to extract valuable resources while using repressive strategies to retain control.
So did British colonial rule, but what was distinctive about France’s role in Africa was the extent to which it continued to engage – its critics would say meddle – in the politics and economics of its former territories after independence.
Sari Hanafi of Middle East Eye writes about the failures of the French governing philosophy of “secularism”
French secularism is not what it was at the beginning of the 20th century. While its main tenet, which guarantees individual freedom and equality, is still perfectly universal, there is no sociological evidence to suggest that secularisation should lead to a decline in religiosity. […]
Undermining the universality of French secularism is its “ethnocentric” character, born of the Christian reformist conception of religion.
French secularism has taken religion in the Christian manner – more specifically in the manner of the Protestant Reformation – by reducing it to individual belief and freedom of conscience, and confining it to private spaces, such as the home and the church. As a result, rituals or any other public forms of religious affirmation (such as the wearing of the Islamic headscarf) tend to be considered an unacceptable form of proselytism.
In the name of defending the ideals of the French secular left, certain intellectuals and media figures have no hesitation in transforming themselves into “faqih” (Muslim jurist) or “mufti” to “prove” that the veil “is not part of Islam“, or that it is a “symbol of the slavery of women“. In a totally ethnocentric display, they project onto Muslim societies meaning and cultural interpretation that emanate only from European culture.
In Yemen, the U.S. is arming and supporting the Saudi-led coalition, whose airstrikes and blockades have caused immense human suffering. Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is arming and aiding Ukraine’s efforts by helping to counter missile strikes that have targeted civilian infrastructure and to retake occupied territories where horrific killings have taken place.
As scholars who study genocide and other mass atrocities, as well as international security, we compared New York Times headlines that span approximately seven and a half years of the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the first nine months of the conflict in Ukraine. […]
Our research shows extensive biases in both the scale and tone of coverage. These biases lead to reporting that highlights or downplays human suffering in the two conflicts in a way that seemingly coincides with U.S. foreign policy objectives. […]
Our broad search of New York Times headlines concerning the overall civilian impact of the two conflicts yielded 546 stories on Yemen between March 26, 2015, and Nov. 30, 2022. Headlines on Ukraine passed that mark in under three months and then doubled it within nine months.
Everyone have the best possible day!