the notebook
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Anne Michaud: editor & senior writer
Anne Michaud

Hillary still has wooing to do with left-leaning women

July 28th, 2016

Hillary supporter

On a recent evening over watermelon martinis, a group of Long Island women went around the table voicing their nonsupport of Hillary Clinton. They’re a left-leaning group, ranging in age from mid-40s to early 60s — supposedly part of Clinton’s natural constituency.

“She’s rich,” one said. “I always distrust rich people, how they made their money.”

Another cited Clinton’s campaign contributions from Monsanto, the big developer of genetically modified foods. A third woman derided the Clinton White House-era limits on welfare and passage of the 1994 crime bill, which helped to fill our prisons. A fourth said Clinton has no charisma.

Tonight, as Clinton takes the stage to accept the Democratic nomination for president – the first woman in a major American party to do so – shouldn’t she by right enter the embrace of this generation of women as the zenith of our aspirations? However, if this critical group is any measure, Clinton still has some winning-over to do. These women aren’t ready to hand her that pointy glass-shattering hammer just yet. More »

Election year politics at play in Plum Island preservation

July 14th, 2016
Plum Island, NY, USA – August 24, 2014

Plum Island, NY, USA – August 24, 2014

Plum Island is like the turn of a kaleidoscope. At one rotation, a viewer sees Long Island’s largest seal colony and a favorite destination of fishing boats. At the next turn, it becomes a prize sought by developers of golf courses and condos.

To many, though, Plum Island is a vision of Washington’s partisanship cemented into place.

The 3-mile, relatively untouched haven of trees and sandy beaches in Long Island Sound is off-limits to the public and has been owned by the federal government since 1826, when it was a military installation called Fort Terry. Since the 1950s, about 20 percent of Plum Island has served as an animal disease center researching everything from swine flu to foot-and-mouth disease to other livestock ailments.

Today, as the federal government moves to relocate the research laboratory to Kansas, this strip of land 1.5 miles off the tip of Orient Point is, to federal budget hawks, a potential $33 million bonanza. As preservationists try to block Plum Island’s sale to a private developer, they’ve run straight into the kaleidoscopic chamber of mirrors known as an election year.

Even though leaders on both sides of the aisle agree that this green jewel should be preserved, the real issue is who would get credit for doing so. This will come as a complete shock to no one. More »

Don’t let kids lose their smarts in summer

June 30th, 2016

Two young children are reading books together outside in a teepee tent for a education or learning concept.It’s that time of year again. School’s out, and summer stretches before us.

My parents would have said, go out and play. But we’re living in an age when parents are more hands-on,
for many reasons: anxiety about getting into college and earning a break on the sky-high cost; unpredictable economic storms, insecure jobs, stagnant wages that create a slippery slide down and out of the comfortable middle class.

As a result, families are more concerned that these weeks of summer include some learning. For people with time and money, summer promises specialty camps, out-of-town vacations, lessons and trips to museums and concerts.

But summer learning loss – the idea that students lose ground academically when they don’t engage in educational activities during the break – is particularly acute for children in families with lesser means.

Sociologists at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated this by tracking 800 Baltimore students over two decades. They found that better-off kids retained more over summer break because they were involved in stimulating activities, even if they had very little to do with a textbook and a No. 2 pencil. In fact, by ninth grade, summer learning loss was responsible for two-thirds of the achievement gap between low-income students and their better-off peers.

In recognition of this finding, places from St. Louis to Teton County, Wyoming, have started affordable, educational summer programs for low-income families. More »

Who did this killer hate, and why?

June 16th, 2016

Orlando shooting 1This is a sad truth of our time: As a society, we have developed a series of rituals after mass shootings. One is playing out now. It’s called name the enemy.

Since the tragic massacre in Orlando this weekend, at Latin night in the LGBT club Pulse, some of our leaders have been stepping up to podiums and taking to Twitter to say why this carnage occurred. Who did Omar Mateen hate, and why?
Naming the enemy is a necessary process. It allows us to post extra police details at certain New York clubs and neighborhoods, as the New York City Police Department has done. But we must approach this naming with care and be on the lookout for how our leaders use the ritual, because reality is usually more complex than the initial picture. More »

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