Author examines social mobility, higher education in US

first_imgAmerican author, essayist and social critic Peter Sacks examined the relationship between class and its influence on the American college experience, as well as colleges’ current relationship with social mobility, in a lecture Thursday night.“The American Dream is on life support,” Sacks said in the lecture, titled “Climbing the Class Ladder: Do college and universities help — or do they stand in the way?”Though “we often talk about American higher education as being this meritocracy … [and] we like to think of our schools, colleges and universities as great equalizers,” Sacks said, this is not the case in a modern America where “advantages and disadvantages of class undergird so much of what transpires in higher education.”Sacks said despite the U.S. commonly being thought of as a land with equality of opportunity for all, this status is undermined by the country’s system of capitalism, run by the rule of the survival of the fittest. There is a class divide in education, he said, and colleges and universities are doing a poor job of bridging it.“We live in a democratic society, but it has become one where outcomes are too heavily influenced by money and power, and equal educational opportunity is not immune to the influences of money and power,” Sacks said. “When we talk about the class divide in education, those who benefit from the existing rules of the game might feel threatened. Out in the open, the vastly unequal educational opportunity is exposed.”Sacks said colleges are not doing a good enough job reaching and aiding economically disadvantaged students, as only 21 percent of “college-qualified” students from low-income families eventually complete a bachelor’s degree, and roughly six million college-qualified students do not attend college due to financial restraints alone. Furthermore, Sacks said, while recruited athletes, legacies and under-represented minorities receive a substantial boost in the admissions process, low-income students are given little to no advantage.“Our exclusionary way of running our educational system contradicts our founding ideologies, and so we can’t come out and admit that exclusion on class lines is the primary way we do things,” he said. “ … America is not the land of equal opportunity. So we see that many academic institutions aren’t welcoming places for students from families of low and modest incomes.”“That begs the obvious question: Are colleges and universities the right place to climb the social and economic ladder, or are there other ways to do this?” Sacks said.In fact, he said, there might be better ways, or ways that serve some people better than others. The middle class has declined precipitously since 1979, Sacks said, and that decline is linked with the successful assault on unions by large corporate interests.“A recent paper [was] released by the National Bureau of Economic Research in which the researchers estimated the effects on intergenerational economic mobility from the decline of unionism in the United States. The research found that parents’ unionism has had a significant effect on their child’s well-being,” Sacks said.“The adult children of unionized parents earn higher labor income compared to the offspring of non-union parents, and the children of unionized parents often obtain higher education and better health outcomes compared to those whose parents were not unionized.”These intergenerational benefits from unionization are more powerful for poorer and lesser-educated parents and tend to spill over into the broader community, Sacks said. The result is that although collective action among workers has come under attack across the U.S., there is a proven way through unionization to promote economic mobility beyond college.Sacks also said there are those who claim too many people are going to college. He said critics of higher education deny a link between higher education subsidies and economic growth, as well as that public support of higher education in the U.S. increases economic equality.“These critics of higher education have essentially argued that colleges and universities are useless as a social or economic investment,” Sacks said. “Higher education is both a public good, and investment into it is essential.”Sacks said those born at an economic disadvantage and who drop out of high school have only a one-percent chance of reaching the top income quartile by the time they are 40. Additionally educational attainment is highly correlated with reduced unemployment, public assistance, smoking rates and poverty rates, as well as increased voting rates and volunteerism.Sacks closed by saying the reduction of subsidies for public institutions has caused some to turn private and has created a situation where one’s ability to pay determines whether one deserves a college education. He said students from families who have the ability to pay for admissions slots at universities could become a new, self-perpetuating aristocracy.“At the dinner table, in the real-world, equal opportunity means that parents want their kids to have opportunities they never had. … We have what we have of because of sacrifices and investments in human capital past generations made for us,” Sacks said.Sacks’ lecture was the keynote address for the 2015 AnBryce Forum, which according to its website is “meant to encourage a campus-wide dialogue on the means by which a range of actors attain access to opportunity in the complex landscape of the American 21st century.”Tags: American dream, economic mobility, higher educationlast_img read more

Professor researches origin of Star of Bethlehem

first_imgThe story of the birth of Jesus is among the most well-known stories in the Bible, and details, such as the star over Bethlehem that led the Magi to Christ’s manger, are familiar to nearly everyone with some knowledge of Christianity. However, these details, such as whether the star of Bethlehem was even a star at all, may not be fully understood.Grant Mathews, professor of physics, believes the sign that the Magi followed was actually and extremely rare planetary alignment and that the “star” was, in fact, Jupiter. Since 2005, Mathews has been interested in finding a possible scientific explanation for the legendary biblical occurrence.“We looked at a bunch of things — whether there was a comet or an asteroid or a supernova or a nova,” Mathews said. “Historically, it’s possible, but you have to look at what the Magi would have actually been thinking, since they’re the ones that show up and say, ‘Well, we saw this thing. Where’s the newborn king of the Jews?’ And nobody else in Judea apparently had noticed it, so it had to be something fairly subtle, not something bright in the sky.”Mathews said he believes the Magi were likely Zoroastrian astronomers from Babylonia or Mesopotamia and would likely have primarily been interested in the planets, which were believed to determine destinies as they moved. Mathews said first-century astronomer Claudius Ptolemy wrote a book about how the constellation Aries corresponded with Judea. Astronomical occurrences with Aries, then, would have been interpreted as relating to Judea, Jesus’ homeland in modern-day Palestine.“There were several things that happened in this rare alignment: Jupiter, Saturn, the moon, the sun are all there at once and the other planets — Venus, Mercury — are nearby,” Mathews said. “What was significant is that Jupiter is in what’s called retrograde motion, and it actually comes to stop [relative to Earth]. Translating from the Greek in the old testament ‘and the star came to rest over where the child was’ [from Matthew 2:9]. “Jupiter literally comes to a stop in its retrograde motion in the place where the child is born, in Bethlehem, it comes to a rest in Aries, so it’s kind of consistent with that whole description. Jupiter was the symbol of the ruler, Saturn was about bringing life, and Aries was on the vernal equinox, so Aries meant the bringing of spring and the bringing of life, that sort of thing. It had all the significance of a life-giving ruler appearing in Judea at this time.”This theory of a planetary alignment was initially proposed by Michael Molnar, former professor of astronomy at Rutgers University, and described in his 2000 book, “The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi,” which Mathews cites as one of his inspirations for beginning his own inquiries into the Star of Bethlehem and writing a book on the subject, which has not yet been published. After considering other possible astronomical explanations, Mathews believes Molnar’s theory to be the most plausible.“I worked on some other ideas, the comets, the supernova thing, because we had a lot of new NASA archives to scan, but in the end, I think [Molnar] hit on the right conclusion,” he said.Mathews ran his own calculations to determine when this alignment might occur again.“The planets are like cars going around a racetrack, and they’re all going different speeds,” he said. “How often is it that they all line up within this little 30 degree patch of the sky along with the sun and the moon at the same time. It’s not that complicated of a calculation. Assuming I did it right, the next alignment was 16 thousand years or so, but it wasn’t in Aries, and it wasn’t in the vernal equinox, so it wouldn’t have the same significance. I ran it forward, and I didn’t see anything for 500,000 years, so it looked really rare.”Tags: aries, astronomy, christmas, Star of Bethlehemlast_img read more

Wendla Switch-Up! Lilla Crawford Replaces Sophia Grace in Spring Awakening

first_imgLooks like we spoke too soon! Sophia Grace Brownlee has exited the film version of Spring Awakening, with former Annie star Lilla Crawford now announced as her replacement. It’s a crazy turn of events for the upcoming movie, as Crawford previously replaced Brownlee in Rob Marshall’s upcoming Into the Woods film! Crawford previously played the title munchkin of the 2012 revival of Annie on Broadway, and although she’s almost old enough to play Wendla, we’re just kidding around because it’s April 1!  HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY! View Commentslast_img read more

Unemployment rate dips in January

first_imgUnemployment rate dips in JanuaryVermont Labor Force Statistics (Seasonally Adjusted) January 2005 December 2004 January 2004Total Labor Force 353,100 354,700 353,100 Employment 340,800 342,000 338,000 Unemployment 12,400 12,700 15,100 Rate (%) 3.5 3.6 4.3Montpelier – The Department of Employment and Training has announced that theseasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 3.5 percent, down one tenth of apercentage point from the revised December estimate. The change in the rate from lastmonth, however, was not considered statistically significant. Vermont’s unemploymentrate remained below the national unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.Unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 1.7 percent in Hartford,to 6.9 percent in Barre-Montpelier. Labor market area rates are not seasonally adjusted; for comparison,the unadjusted rate for Vermont was 4.3 percent.”Unemployment remained low as annual job growth improved,” said Patricia A.McDonald, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training. “Post-holidayseasonal layoffs were slightly larger than expected in January but should be temporary.”Seasonally adjusted job numbers fell by 1,300 in January after a similar gain inDecember. Leisure and hospitality added fewer jobs than usual, possibly indicating thewinter recreation season was not ideal. Health care and social assistance experienced anunusual employment drop in January. Cuts in retail employment were larger than usualfollowing the holiday season. Manufacturing experienced a modest decline and appearsto have lost the momentum it displayed last summer. Job cuts in private education wereless than normal during the semester break, producing a slight increase in the seasonallyadjusted employment.Before seasonal adjustment, the number of nonfarm jobs in Vermont fell by more than8,000 as the typical winter contraction occurred. The largest decline was in retail trade asmany temporary jobs were lost after the peak holiday season. Construction employmentfell as expected due to limited outdoor activity. State and private educational institutionsreduced employment during their break in academic activity. Manufacturing cutsoccurred in both durable and nondurable production. Professional and business servicesalso declined, due partly to fewer jobs at temporary help firms. Winter recreation activityhelped to support the labor market but hiring was less than normal for January.The total number of jobs was up by 1.8 percent compared to last year, which is slightlyhigher than the revised estimates for recent months.TECHNICAL NOTEThe unemployment and job estimates for prior years were revised in accordance with theprocedures of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These benchmarking updates are doneevery year. In addition, this year the methodology used to estimate the unemploymentrate has been improved to allow us to make a statement about whether the change in therate was statistically significant. In order to make such a statement, the unemploymentmethodology must be able to estimate the combined sampling and modeling errorassociated with the estimate of the unemployment rate. This also allows us to say theJanuary unemployment rate (3.5%) was within a band of 0.7 percentage points; or, we are90 percent confident that the January unemployment rate was between 2.8 percent and4.2 percent.We have also updated the geographic areas known as Labor Market Areas. This is doneevery 10 years based on the latest decennial Census data, and in discussion with the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. We use the Metropolitan Area and Micropolitan Areasdesignated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. We designate other economiccenters around the state based on population and commuting patterns. To see thedefinitions of our new Labor Market Areas, go to our web site at: is external)last_img read more

Humpback Whale Found Dead in Amagansett

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Marine biologists are investigating the discovery of an estimated 25-foot-long dead humpback whale found that was floating in Napeague Bay in Amagansett over the weekend, officials said.East Hampton town bay constables received the initial report on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard members stationed in Montauk confirmed its location off Cranberry Hole Road on Monday and experts with the nonprofit Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation responded Tuesday to take samples, officials said.The whale was found in shallow water on the north side of the South Fork near the Amagansett-Montauk line. Responders tied a line to the whale’s tale and towed it to Little Albert’s Landing in East Hampton, where it’s beached, officials said. Biologists will perform a necropsy Wednesday to determine the whale’s cause of death. East Hampton Town officials are working on a plan to dispose of the carcass, the East Hampton Star reported.It is not uncommon for dead whales to wash up on Long Island. At least a half dozen washed up on LI last year. Among them were a humpback whale found dead of ship strike on Fire Island in June, a True’s beaked whale found dead of starvation the following day in Westhampton Beach, a Minke whale covered in shark bites that washed up dead at Robert Moses State Park in July, another humpback whale found dead of apparent blunt force trauma in Lloyd Harbor in October and a Northern Bottlenose Whale that was euthanized after being found stranded in Long Beach later that month. Live whales are also occasionally spotted off the Atlantic coast on the South Shore, including one seen off Lido Beach on Monday, according to a resident there. Rare sightings of humpbacks and belugas off the North Shore in the Long Island Sound, where they are less likely to swim, also made news last year.So far this year, the Riverhead foundation has rescued a stranded gray seal pup in Hampton Bays, a beached dolphin in East Hampton and a harbor seal that was found tangled in rope and gill netting in marshland south of Merrick. Also so far this year, the group released a sea turtle and two seals that it had previously rescued and treated at its Riverhead headquarters.Humpback whales are a threatened species that can grow up to 60-feet long, 25-to-40 tons and have a lifespan of 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are primarily threatened by being entangled in fishing gear, ship strikes, whale watching harassment, habitat changes and hunting, NOAA said.The Riverhead foundation urges anyone that finds marine wildlife on the beach to call their stranding hotline: 631-369-9829.last_img read more

Northampton Offices – Merchants of doom were wrong

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Latest letting lifts Leeds office market

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Gov. Wolf Encourages Voters to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot

first_img April 22, 2020 Gov. Wolf Encourages Voters to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Press Release,  Public Health,  Voting & Elections As Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election. The governor also announced the Department of State has launched an awareness campaign to inform the public about the new primary election date and how to apply for a mail-in ballot, including sending 4.2 million postcards to primary voters. In-person voting at polling places will remain available.“There is no more important civic duty than voting, but we also want to make sure that every primary voter can cast their vote safely,” said Governor Wolf. “This election is the first time that voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot and I encourage every Pennsylvania voter to visit to conveniently update their registration or apply for a mail-in ballot.”Registered voters can apply online for a mail-in or absentee ballot at The deadline is 5 p.m., May 26. So far, 462,085 voters have applied for a mail-in ballot and 139,572 voters have applied for an absentee ballot.“The 2020 election season is bringing unprecedented changes for Pennsylvania voters,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “We are using every tool available to make sure voters know about the changes in voting while also staying safe, including the new option for all voters to vote by mail from the comfort of their home. Nearly 600,000 voters have already applied to vote by mail or absentee – a secure, convenient method for all voters.”The Department of State’s voter education outreach includes:A public awareness campaign on radio, television and multiple digital platforms including social channels, streaming services and mobile apps.Mailing 4.2 million postcards and sending weekly emails to registered voters regarding the new primary date and mail-in ballot option, along with important deadlines.Outreach to stakeholders to help spread the word.The Wolf Administration will provide counties with funding to send informational mailings to voters, purchase equipment and protective supplies, promote and facilitate mail-in voting, increase needed staffing, and take other actions to improve election administration and voting safety and security. The federal CARES Act and state appropriations from election security and technology is providing funding.The department is also purchasing infection-protection kits for all counties to provide to precincts so poll workers can maintain a safe voting environment at polling locations on June 2. These kits will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other sanitizing supplies and will be provided to the counties at no cost to them.Voters and county election officials in Pennsylvania were already preparing for historic change following the passage and signing of Act 77 of 2019. Act 77 was the first major amendment to the state’s Election Code in more than 80 years. It brought the option of mail-in ballots with no excuse needed, along with later deadlines for voter registration and for returning mail and absentee ballots.With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, and Governor Wolf signed, Act 12 of 2020, which rescheduled the primary election and made additional changes in the process for voters as well as county election officials.The new deadline to register to vote or update a voter registration for the primary is May 18. Registered voters have until 5 pm May 26 to sign up to vote by mail ballot and until 8 p.m. on election day to return their voted ballot. Voters who applied for a ballot before the change of election date do not need to apply again, but voters whose address may have changed should contact their county election office.Act 12 also allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places more easily as they work to relocate voting sites such as those at senior centers, now closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.“In coming weeks, voters should pay special attention to their county’s announcements regarding relocation of polling places,” Secretary Boockvar said. “For the primary election, many voters could be voting at different locations than in the past if they cannot or do not wish to vote by mail.”Once counties have finalized their polling place plans, voters will be able to check their voting location through the Department of State’s polling place locator.For more information on the new mail-in ballots and all things related to voting in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit this information in Spanish.last_img read more

Tearful baker closes her business in wake of lawsuit (US)

first_imgMailOnline 1 October 2014The baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple broke down today as she told an audience she has been forced to close her business.Melissa Klein and her husband Aaron were driven out of their small-scale bakery Sweet Cakes in Gresham, Oregon, after they said it would ‘violate their religious beliefs’ to do business with lesbian couple Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.The couple is now fighting a $150,000 law suit after the state found there to be strong evidence that they broke the law by refusing the serve the women.Today, the disgraced cook told the Values Voter Summit she was left distraught by the ordeal and described her passion for the job she has been forced to quit, Talking Points Memo reported.Klein is still taking small orders from home, but insists her career has been destroyed by the conflict. read more

Ex Transgender: Parents Who Don’t Put Trans Kids in Psychotherapy Are ‘Abusing’ Their Children

first_img“Stormi looked like a boy to the neighbor because he really is a boy,” Heyer wrote. “Transgender people may deceive themselves, but they do not deceive others.”Heyer added that adults who call people like the neighbor in the Buzzfeed story “transphobic” because of their reaction to a boy in a dress are “gender-phobic.”“Life in society is not some fantasy world where a boy should pretend he has magically transformed himself into a girl simply by uttering the words ‘I am a girl’ and changing how he presents himself,” Heyer added. “The people who strongly object to the honest reaction from a man saying, ‘Nobody wants to buy Girl Scout cookies from a boy in a dress’ are perhaps gender-phobic, rejecting and ridiculing the reality of male and female genders.”Heyer reasons that Stormi could have deep-rooted psychological reasons for why he desires to be a girl, as Stormi has been separated from his biological parents and lives in foster care.“Separation anxiety disorder and other psychological disorders can masquerade as gender dysphoria, leading caregivers and medical practitioners to misdiagnose and not provide proper or effective psychotherapies,” Heyer wrote. “Stormi could be in need of psychotherapy, not a dress.”“The transgender life is often the direct result of early childhood difficulty or trauma,” Heyer continued. “Assisting a young child into the fabricated ideology of a transgender life is not helping the child sort out what is real and what is fiction.”Heyer wrote that guardians and caregivers need to stop collaborating with a mental disorder instead of treating it.“Telling a psychologically troubled boy he has changed genders is not compassion, but can become reckless parenting.” Heyer stated. “By withholding psychotherapy, parents could be abusing the kid.” Heyer predicts that Stormi will live out most of his childhood and early adolescence as a transgender female but will eventually come to grips with reality.“Stormi’s life will evolve as maturity unfolds. Most likely in 15 or 20 years, reality will set in that he really never changed genders,” Heyer concluded. “This is often a turning point where the trans life is not looking as good as it once did.” up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox. Christian Post 18 February 2016Family First Comment: A reality check from someone who would know.center_img A former transgender-turned-activist is warning that children who think they are members of the opposite biological sex are actually “deceiving themselves” and could likely be suffering from undiagnosed psychological disorders that are being overlooked in a politically correct society.Walt Heyer, an author and public speaker who had sex reassignment surgery at the age of 42 and has grown to regret it, explained in a recent op-ed published by the Daily Signal that parents who encourage their children’s gender dysphoria and don’t get them psychological treatment are hurting their children.Heyer, who now runs the website, detailed how he was forced by his grandmother to crossdress as a small child, which led him to have strong feelings of being a girl as he grew older.After getting help from a renowned gender specialist, Heyer was told that he was suffering from gender dysphoria and that the only way to get relief from the situation was to undergo gender reassignment surgery.“I lived as a transgender, Laura Jensen, female, for eight years. While studying psychology in a university program, I discovered that trans kids most often are suffering from a variety of disorders, starting with depression — the result of personal loss, broken families, sexual abuse, and unstable homes,” Heyer explained. “Deep depression leads kids to want to be someone other than who they are.”“That information sure resonated with me,” Heyer continued. “Finally, I had discovered the madness of the transgender life. It is a fabrication born of mental disorders.”In the op-ed, Heyer commented on a recent Buzzfeed article highlighting the life a 9-year-old biological boy Girl Scout named Stormi.The article reports that when Stormi knocked on one neighbor’s door to ask him if he wanted to buy some Girl Scout cookies. The neighbor replied, “Nobody wants to buy Girl Scout cookies from a boy in a dress.”Although others were quick to shower Stormi in love and praise, buy her Girl Scout Cookies and dismiss the neighbor as transphobic, Heyer defended the neighbor by arguing that “not everyone assumes that a boy in a dress selling Girl Scout cookies is transgender.”last_img read more