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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In the Year 2060

The Census reports:
A new U.S. Census Bureau report released today provides an in-depth analysis of the nation’s population looking forward to 2060, including its size and composition across age, sex, race, Hispanic origin and nativity. These projections are the first to incorporate separate projections of fertility for native- and foreign-born women, permitting the Census Bureau to better account for the effects of international migration on the U.S. population.
According to the report, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060:
  • The U.S. population is expected to grow more slowly in future decades than it did in the previous century. Nonetheless, the total population of 319 million in 2014 is projected to reach the 400 million threshold in 2051 and 417 million in 2060.
  • Around the time the 2020 Census is conducted, more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group. This proportion is expected to continue to grow so that by 2060, just 36 percent of all children (people under age 18) will be single-race non-Hispanic white, compared with 52 percent today.
  • The U.S. population as a whole is expected to follow a similar trend, becoming majority-minority in 2044. The minority population is projected to rise to 56 percent of the total in 2060, compared with 38 percent in 2014.
  • While one milestone would be reached by the 2020 Census, another will be achieved by the 2030 Census: all baby boomers will have reached age 65 or older (this will actually occur in 2029). Consequently, in that year, one-in-five Americans would be 65 or older, up from one in seven in 2014.
  • By 2060, the nation’s foreign-born population would reach nearly 19 percent of the total population, up from 13 percent in 2014.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Anti-Semitism at UCLA?

Inside Higher Ed reports:
A University of California at Los Angeles student was nearly denied a position on the student government’s judicial board last month after student representatives questioned whether her ties to the Jewish community were a conflict of interest.
The sophomore candidate, Rachel Beyda, originally failed to win the majority she needed to serve. She was later unanimously approved for the position, after a faculty member intervened. The votes came after an interview with the student, in which she was asked, “Given that you’re a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”
Critics have said that they are stunned that being Jewish and active in the Jewish community could be cited as a reason to reject a candidate for a student government position.
A video distributed by a pro-Israel group (embedded here) shows the questioning. While this video only shows highlights, a review of a video of the entire meeting suggests that these clips are an accurate reflection of what was said.

Monday, March 2, 2015

No Roving Mandate

Lyle Denniston writes at Constitution Daily:
Much of the American Constitution is about process, not outcomes. So, if the Supreme Court strikes down a federal law, it is not the court’s duty to find a way to ease the impact of such a ruling. Congress or the Executive Branch might react with a remedy, but – if they are willing to pay the political price – they need not cover for what the court has done that may have harmful consequences.

Similarly, if Congress were to let the government go into a shutdown for lack of money, the White House and the Supreme Court don’t need to reopen the doors of government agencies and put them back to work. In fact, they probably don’t have the power to do that.

Indeed, none of the national government’s branches has a roving mandate to clean up after any other branch that causes some disruption of the civic order. If there is a clear public need to do so, the Founders tended to assume that the system they were designing would take care of it, but they generally did not require that as a constitutional duty.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Girjalva Letter

Jason Samenow reports at The Washington Post:
As The Post’s Joby Warrick reported earlier this week, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, asked seven universities for detailed records on the funding sources for seven scientists, many of whom are unconvinced that humans are the driving force behind recent climate change.
In a letter to Grijalva released this afternoon, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) — a scientific and professional society representing atmospheric and oceanic scientists — expressed strong opposition to the inquiry.
“Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers,” the AMS wrote.
One the scientists, Roger Pielke, Jr., writes:
...I  have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.
Steve Hayward is another target.  He writes:
Pepperdine’s administration will produce their own proper response since the letter is addressed to them rather than to me, but Rep. Grijalva and his McCarthyite witch hunters are in for a disappointment: there are no undisclosed financial supporters of my writing. I’ve received—and am receiving—no grants, honoraria, consulting fees, good karma baubles, or even Christmas cards from any fossil fuel interest, though I’d be proud and open about it if I did. And I didn’t consult anyone for the content of my congressional testimony over the years, though so what if I had? Is the good congressman really telling us that he is incapable of assessing factual claims and judgments about the wisdom of policy on the merits alone? That doesn’t speak well of his probity.

I do hope the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on this topic, because I’d love to ask Rep. Grijava some questions in return, such as which contacts at Greenpeace ginned up the particulars of his complaint (since I doubt the worthy Rep. or his staff actually read Power Line, which is cited in his letter). Further, it will be fun to ask a series of questions about the incentives of government-funded scientists, such as what might happen to their government research grants if they didn’t report a result congenial to Rep. Grijalva. More to the point: why pick on the seven of us at universities? Does he really just say “how high?” every time Greenpeace asks him to jump?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Netanyahu, the Constitution, and Public Opinion

Alan Dershowitz writes at The Wall Street Journal:
As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.
Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions. Congress has a critical role to play in scrutinizing the decisions of the president when these decisions involve national security, relationships with allies and the threat of nuclear proliferation.
Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.
Gallup reports:
Even as relations between the leaders of Israel and the United States reportedly deteriorate over disagreement about how to handle Iran's nuclear program, Israel has retained its broadly favorable image in the U.S. over the past year. Seventy percent of Americans now view that country favorably, and 62% say they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Mideast conflict. By contrast, 17% currently view the Palestinian Authority favorably, and 16% sympathize more with the Palestinians.
A key reason Americans' sympathy for Israel has solidified at a sizable majority level is that Republicans' support for the Jewish state has increased considerably, rising from 53% in 2000 to more than 80% since 2014 -- with just 7% choosing the Palestinian Authority. A particularly large jump in GOP sympathy for Israel occurred in the first few years after 9/11 and at the start of the 2003 Iraq War.

Democrats' support for Israel has also risen since 2000, but not quite as sharply as Republicans'. Additionally, the percentage of Democrats sympathizing with Israel fell 10 points this year to 48%, possibly reflecting the tension between Obama and Netanyahu.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Civic Education in South Dakota

AP reports:
South Dakota education officials agree improving civics knowledge among high school students is important, but they don't think a mandatory test is the way to do it.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to help ensure South Dakota students are learning the content "reflected in" the U.S. citizenship exam. It's part of a national effort to improve civics knowledge among high school students, but doesn't go as far as North Dakota, which became the second state in the nation last month to require the same test that immigrants must pass to become a U.S. citizen to get a high school diploma.
"We need to do it in a methodology that works for South Dakota," said Republican Sen. Deb Soholt, who is sponsoring the resolution. "We were not for tying one test to successful graduation."
South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp said the state's graduation requirements, which include a half-year U.S. government course, already entail students learning the content. New social studies standards that are under review also contain the same information that's part of the test, she said.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Americans Are Not Keen on the UN

Gallup reports:
Although there is no shortage of threats to peace and security around the world today, Americans do not see the United Nations doing any better at solving the problems it has had to face than has been the case in recent years. The majority of Americans continue to say the UN is doing a poor job, while slightly more than one-third say it is doing a good job.
 Do you think the United Nations is doing a good job or a poor job in trying to solve the problems it has had to face?

Polarization has long affected views of the UN:

Do you think the United Nations is doing a good job or a poor job in trying to solve the problems it has had to face, by Party ID