Study Shows That Millennials Are Confused About, Well, Everything

Millennials

The Article: Study: Millennials Deeply Confused About Their Politics, Finances, and Culture by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

The Text: Millennials—or Generation Y, which, by varying definitions, includes you if you’re somewhere between 14-34—are the subject of constant obsession and worrying from the managers trying to hire them, the marketers trying to sell to them, and the parents and grandparents trying desperately to get them to call once in a while using the “phone” feature on their smartphones.

So what can we possibly learn that’s new from Pew’s massive survey released this morning? Many things, actually—and mostly contradictions. Which is about right when you’re trying to sum up 85+ million people in a handful of adjectives.

This generation is getting totally screwed by the economy … but we’re the most optimistic generation in the country.

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Obama Is Complicit In Suppressing The Truth About Torture

Torture

The Article: Obama Is Complicit in Suppressing the Truth About Torture by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

The Text: President Obama is complicit in suppressing the truth about CIA torture of prisoners. That’s clear from the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million, 6,000-page torture report is still being suppressed 15 months after being adopted. It is made clearer still by a scathing letter that one member of the committee, Senator Mark Udall, sent the White House on Tuesday. Its claims are jaw-dropping.

Udall wants the torture report released to the public as fully and quickly as possible. He is also interested in a separate CIA report about torture of prisoners. His letter makes all of the following charges:

Lots of information already given to the public about the CIA’s torture program, its management, and its effectiveness “is misleading and inaccurate.”

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How To Keep The News From Ruining Your Life

Newspapers

The Article: How to stop news from ruining our lives by Alain de Botton in CNN.

The Text: We’re one of the first generations to have to deal with the torrent of information about things very far removed from our own lives. For most of history, it was extremely difficult to come by information about what was happening anywhere else. And you probably didn’t mind. What difference would it make, if you were a crofter in the Hebrides, northern Scotland, to learn that a power struggle was brewing in the Ottoman Empire?

Much of what we now take for granted as news has its origins in the information needed by people taking major decisions or at the center of national affairs. We still hear the echoes in the way news is reported; timing is assumed to be critical, as it really would be if we were active agents. If you don’t have the latest update you might make a terrible blunder or miss a wonderful opportunity.

Ease of communication and a generous democratic impulse mean that information originally designed for decision-makers, now gets routinely sent via the media to very large numbers of people. It is as if a dossier, with the latest news from Kiev, which might properly arrive on the desk of a minister has accidentally been delivered to the wrong address and ends up on the breakfast table of a librarian in Colchester or an electrician in Pitlochry. But the librarian or electrician might quite reasonably turn round and politely point out that they can’t do anything with this knowledge and that, surely, the files have come to them by mistake. They don’t, but only because habit has closed our eyes to the underlying strangeness of the phenomenon.

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Washington: Highest Minimum Wage, Higher Growth Than US Average

Seattle

The Article: Washington Shows Highest Minimum Wage State Beats US With Jobsin Bloomberg.

The Text: When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out.

In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.

The debate is replaying on a national scale as Democrats led by President Barack Obama push for an increase in the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum, while opponents argue a raise would hurt those it’s intended to help by axing jobs for the lowest-skilled. Even if that proves true, Washington’s example shows that any such effects aren’t big enough to throw its economy and labor market off the tracks.

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How To Put Our Broken Prisons Back Together

prison

The Article: America’s punishment addiction: how to put our broken jails back together by Robert Ferguson in The Guardian.

The Text: In the United States, people can land in prison for life over minor offenses. They can be locked up forever for siphoning gasoline from a truck, shoplifting small items from a department store or attempting to cash a stolen check. Sentences across the United States in the last 30 years have doubled. Roy Lee Clay, for example, received in 2013 a sentence of mandatory punishment of life without parole for refusing to accept a plea bargain of 10 years for trafficking 1kg of heroin. Even the sentencing judge found this “extremely severe and harsh”. The bigger picture: a recent Human Rights Watch report found that the threat of harsh sentences leads 97% of drug defendants to plead guilty rather than exercise their right to a public trial.

Most citizens are shocked when they hear such reports. Federal judge John Gleeson of New York said that the way prosecutors use plea bargaining “coerces guilty pleas and produces sentences so excessively severe they take your breath away”. Federal judge Mark Bennett of Iowa has described the “shocking, jaw-dropping disparity” of prior-conviction enhancements to force a plea bargain in a case.

But these and other shocks mean nothing without a larger shock of recognition: Americans like to punish.

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