Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Report: Pentagon study finds little risk to lifting gay ban

    AP101110066194A not-yet-released Pentagon study has found that lifting the ban on openly gay service will pose little risk to the nation's war efforts, according to sources who spoke with the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe and Greg Jaffe.

    More than 70 percent of troops who filled out a Pentagon survey on "Don't ask, don't tell" said letting gays serve openly would have positive, mixed or nonexistent effects on service members.

    Repeal advocates are hailing the report as a major victory for their cause. "A measure of the full-report is still needed, and there are undoubtedly adjustments that will need to be considered as any transition to openly gay service moves forward," said Aaron Belkin, the head of the pro-repeal Palm Center think tank, in a statement to The Upshot. "However, the Pentagon itself has made the strongest case for the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' in stating that this can be done during wartime without harming unit cohesion or military readiness."

    The group said the findings "end debate" on the subject.

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  • Union responds to report on $150,000 salaries for federal workers

    AP070703035512The number of federal workers paid over $150,000 per year has doubled since President Obama took office, and they now constitute about 10 times the proportion of that workforce compared with 2005, according to a USA Today analysis.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told the paper that he will try to block President Obama's plan to raise federal salaries 1.4 percent across the board during the lame-duck session. He prefers a salary freeze or a 10 percent cut.

    The key finding reported by USA Today's Dennis Cauchon:

    Federal workers earning $150,000 or more make up 3.9% of the workforce, up from 0.4% in 2005. Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3% annually above inflation compared with 0.8% for private workers, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    But one government employee union says the report misrepresents pay trends for federal workers.

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  • Is there a rural mental health crisis?

    AP100325138749There is a silent mental health crisis in rural America that's costing the lives of young people, Democratic Montana Sen. Jon Tester says in an op-ed today in The Hill newspaper.

    Six children have taken their own lives on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana in the past year, he writes. One of them was only 10 years old. In the same time frame, 20 more young people attempted suicide on the reservation.

    Tester writes that Congress needs to reauthorize the bill that provides health services for Indian reservations, but that a mental health crisis afflicts all rural Americans because it's difficult to access mental health services in sparsely populated areas.

    Interestingly enough, writer Dan Savage, who started the "It Gets Better" project to urge gay teens not to take their own lives, says he especially hopes his project will reach teens who live in rural areas, where tolerance for homosexuality is often much lower than in cities and suburban areas.

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  • New research: Bullying hurts kids’ brains

    84180856A new study reports that kids victimized by bullies develop abnormal brains that may make them more susceptible to depression and other psychological problems.  Harvard University researcher Martin Teicher, who oversaw the blockbuster study, has long been researching the ways that young people are harmed when they experience or witness physical abuse in family settings.

    "The reason I think that verbal abuse is so powerful is that individuals exposed to it repeat it to themselves," Teicher tells The Upshot. "When you're told things about yourself--when you're told that you're fat or that you're ugly or that you're a spaz--you wind up in a situation where that voice gets incorporated in your thinking. You wind up in a repetitive pattern of humiliation.

    "We're wounded in a way that's enduring by our exposure. It's really important to be mindful--and very important, I think, for teachers in school to not allow it."

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  • PARTING SHOTS: 4,500 stranded on cruise ship

    Here's today's list of stories that managed to evade full-on blog treatment:

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back on President Obama's criticism of expanded settler developments on the West Bank today: "Jerusalem is not a settlement." (NYT)

    • Seventeen people were arrested for defrauding $42 million from Holocaust survivors. (New York Post)

    • The Obama administration threatens to take back hundreds of millions in stimulus funds if Wisconsin doesn't continue with its high-speed-rail plan. (NYT)

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  • NYC schools chief to join News Corp.; magazine exec to lead schools

    AP090708030474New York City's reform-minded schools chancellor has announced he will step down and be replaced by magazine executive Cathie Black, who has no experience in the education sector.

    Black, chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, will now head up the nation's largest school district. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday that her experience managing people and succeeding as an executive will be an asset to the schools. She inherits a sometimes uncomfortable relationship with the teachers union, which objects to the expansion of charter schools in the city.

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  • Smugglers stow migrants on deserted island

    AP060411017738Human traffickers are hiding migrants on a deserted island off San Diego, a local news station reports.

    Channel 10 News traveled there with humanitarian group Desert Angels, which leaves food and water on "Smuggle Island" in the northern part of Mexico's Coronado Islands to provide sustenance for immigrants entering the United States illegally.

    The group's members told the station that when smugglers are worried about getting caught by the Coast Guard or when weather is bad, they leave immigrants on the island for days. Smugglers then transport the immigrants into U.S. territory via small "panga" boats that cross into San Diego in the middle of the night.

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  • Michigan official is fired for Web war on gay student

    shirvellMichigan Assistant Attorney Andrew Shirvell has been fired after launching a one-man Internet campaign against Michigan University's student body president, who is gay.

    Shirvell's lawyer Philip Thomas tells the Detroit Free Press the move is "political," since Shirvell received excellent performance reviews at work. "There's been a tremendous piling on against Andrew. The liberal media started this tempest in a teapot," he said.

    Shirvell wrote a blog devoted to ridiculing University of Michigan student Chris Armstrong as a "pervert" and "Nazi." He even protested outside of the 21-year-old's home. He defended his actions to CNN's Anderson Cooper as free speech and argued that Armstrong was a public figure because he is a student leader.

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  • Court blocks Oklahoma’s Sharia ban

    AP101101013890A judge in Oklahoma has temporarily blocked a voter-approved ban on the application of Islamic and international law in the state's courts.

    The head of a Muslim rights group sued the state, saying the measure stigmatizes Muslims and violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of religion. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange will decide whether to grant a longer injunction on Nov. 22.

    "Today's ruling is a reminder of the strength of our nation's legal system and the protections it grants to religious minorities," Muneer Awad, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a press release. "We are humbled by this opportunity to show our fellow Oklahomans that Muslims are their neighbors and that we are committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution and promoting the benefits of a pluralistic society."

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  • Scientists re-create Big Bang in lab

    experimentScientists say they have created a mini Big Bang using the world's largest atom smasher, resulting in a temperature "a millions times hotter" than the sun's center, the BBC reports.

    In an underground tunnel near Geneva, the European Organization for Nuclear Research smashed together particles inside the $10 billion accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider, in an effort to learn more about the plasma that formed the universe a split- second after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Scientists say a tiny ball of matter exploded and then quickly formed a melted "soup" of matter, which then re-ordered itself into what is now the universe.

    The experiment, using lead ions instead of protons, produced the highest densities and temperatures ever created by scientists, and a kind of matter formerly unseen on Earth, The Telegraph reports.

    [Photo: Astronomers discover oldest galaxy]

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