Anthropomorphic stick of dynamite Michael Bay, the director of The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, and four Transformers movies (also Pain and Gain—don't forget Pain and Gain!), has made a movie about the September 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.
The movie's release date is January 15, 2016—just in time for the Iowa caucuses.
The film, 13 Hours, based on a book by the same name, is sure to prompt lots of discussion—intelligent and otherwise—on the presidential candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in charge of the State Department at the time of the attack. Here's the trailer:
Last year I told you about a radical new approach to reducing gun violence in Richmond, California, a city that had suffered for years under the toll of one of the nation's highest homicide rates. The city threw money and police at the problem, but the rate of fatal (and non-fatal) shootings remained. The human toll was staggering. In 2007, the low point, there were 45 homicides involving a firearm in the city of 106,000. Finally, it decided to try something entirely new:
Richmond hired consultants to come up with ideas, and in turn, the consultants approached [Devone] Boggan. It was obvious that heavy-handed tactics like police sweeps weren't the solution. More than anything, Boggan, who'd been working to keep teen offenders out of prison, was struck by the pettiness of it all. The things that could get someone shot in Richmond were as trivial as stepping out to buy a bag of chips at the wrong time or in the wrong place. Boggan wondered: What if we identified the most likely perpetrators and paid them to stay out of trouble?
In late 2007, Boggan launched the Office of Neighborhood Safety, an experimental public-private partnership that's introduced the "Richmond model" for rolling back street violence. It has done it with a mix of data mining and mentoring, and by crossing lines that other anti-crime initiatives have only tiptoed around. Four times a year, the program's street team sifts through police records and its own intelligence to determine, with actuarial detachment, the 50 people in Richmond most likely to shoot someone and to be shot themselves. ONS tracks them and approaches the most lethal (and vulnerable) on the list, offering them a spot in a program that includes a stipend to turn their lives around. While ONS is city-funded and has the blessing of the chief of police, it resolutely does not share information with the cops. "It's the only agency where you're required to have a criminal background to be an employee," Boggan jokes.
It was a crazy idea. But since ONS was established, the city's murder rate has plunged steadily. In 2013, it dropped to 15 homicides per 100,000 residents—a 33 year low. In 2014, it dropped again. Boggan and his staff maintained that their program was responsible for a lot of that drop-off by keeping the highest-risk young men alive—and out of prison. Now they have a study to back them up.
On Monday, researchers from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, a non-profit, published a process evaluation of ONS, studying its impact seven years in. The conclusion was positive: "While a number of factors including policy changes, policing efforts, an improving economic climate, and an overall decline in crime may have helped to facilitate this shift, many individuals interviewed for this evaluation cite the work of the ONS, which began in late 2007, as a strong contributing factor in a collaborative effort to decrease violence in Richmond."
As evidence, the study cites the life-changing effect on fellows. Ninety-four percent of fellows are still alive. And perhaps just as remarkable, 79 percent have not been arrested or charged with gun-related offenses during that time period.
"While replication of the Fellowship itself may be more arduous because of the dynamic leadership associated with the current model, the framework of the Fellowship could be used to improve outcomes for communities across the country," the study's authors wrote. "The steps taken to craft programming developed with clients in mind, and being responsive to their needs and the needs of the community, can serve as a model."
At least one person rejects the idea that President Barack Obama is launching a second Holocaust—President Barack Obama. Responding to the former Arkansas governor's comments while on a state visit to Ethiopia, Obama said Huckabee's comment "would be considered ridiculous if it wasn’t so sad." Huckabee is among a handful of GOP candidates who appaear to have been hurt by the rise of Donald Trump. We'll see if the most recent stunt will help him make up some ground.
Donald Trump's antics have caused his fellow Republican presidential candidates to take crazy—and, in some instances, pyrotechnical—steps to get attention. Rand Paul took a chainsaw to the tax code. Lindsey Graham torched his cell phone. And here is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's official response to President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran:
Between his juvenile name-calling, dubious boasts, short attention span, constant need for attention, and temper tantrums when things don't go his way, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump often resembles an oversized six-year-old. So far, that approach has helped him vault to the top of the field, and left his fellow contenders so desperate for attention they're literally destroying documents with chainsaws. As Trump prepares for the first Republican primary debate next month in Cleveland, he is presenting himself as the ultimate wild card, capable of saying anything to anyone with little thought for the consequences.
That can pose problems for candidates and debate moderators, who are used to dealing with fully grown adults and have struggled to respond to his campaign-trail antics. To understand how Jeb Bush et al. might best react to a Trump tantrum on the debate stage next month, I reached out to someone with expertise on dealing with six-year-olds: an actual public-school kindergarten teacher.
Our teacher is from New York, like Trump, and has (like everyone else, apparently) been granted anonymity to speak candidly without being called a "dopey clown" by Trump. Here's an abridged email transcript:
MJ: Is it fair to say you’re used to dealing with childish behavior?
Public-school teacher: I teach kindergarten, but have also taught 2nd grade and Pre-K in the past. Childish behavior is my milieu.
MJ: What is an example of the childish behavior you deal with in a typical day?
PST: Extreme neediness would probably be the defining characteristic. It is a constant barrage of very small people constantly saying my name, pulling at my clothing, pulling on my body in general. If those efforts fail to get my attention, it escalates to yelling, interrupting others who have my attention at that particular moment, and sometimes a little bit of elbowing to the front of the line. They all want to be first, they all want to be in charge, and few of them understand that nobody gets to be "the best" all the time. This is how things are at the beginning of kindergarten; by the time a few weeks have passed, the children have learned that things don't work that way.
And nose-picking. Always the nose-picking.
MJ: What kinds of insults do students like to use at that age?
PST: I am extremely strict about how the students treat each other (always with kindness), so this issue doesn't arise very often. But the few times it has, they usually either make up something totally nonsensical, or repeat something that they have heard their parents say at home, or sometimes things they have heard on TV. I've heard everything from "poopyhead" to "motherfucker."
"I have found that most kids are 'reformed' very quickly when they take some time to consider how their unkind words make others feel."
MJ: What are some tips you have for dealing with this kind of name-calling?
PST: Find out the motivation, teach empathy, provide time to think about the effects of name-calling, suggest (but not force) an apology if the student doesn't come up with this idea on his/her own. If it continues to be a problem, treat it not as a momentary lapse in self-control or poor judgement, but as a negative choice that deserves negative consequences. If improvement is seen in a chronic offender, positive consequences (praise, recognition of behavioral improvement) should be offered. Either type of consequence needs to be doled out swiftly.
PST: It depends on how mature the students are, how far along in the year it is, etc. In most cases, I would probably watch to see how the insultee (is that even a word?) reacts. If he/she handled the situation adequately, I would probably let it go and keep an extra close eye on the insulter (again...a real word?). If I had to intervene, I would go through the steps listed above, and probably assign the student some thinking time during recess (during which the student is not allowed to play--the student has to think about what he/she did to land in thinking time, tell me why it was wrong, and how it should be handled in the future; anyone who doesn't come up with an adequate answer needs to think longer). If it was a chronic issue, I would also contact the parents to make them aware of the situation. In extreme cases, I would have the student speak with an administrator and would create a behavior modification plan.
MJ: Do kids generally grow out of this kind of thing?
PST: Not unless they are taught that it's inappropriate. Kids who are rude will continue to be rude until someone teaches them that's it's not okay, and takes the time to show them a different way. Fortunately, I have found that most kids are "reformed" very quickly when they take some time to consider how their unkind words make others feel.
MJ: If someone has been doing this kind of thing for 30 years, do you think that would be cause for alarm?
PST: Clearly. I see only four reasons why an adult would resort to name-calling on a regular basis:
1. Said person is a sociopath who has no ability to empathize
2. Nobody ever took the time to teach said person that there are better way to deal with conflict
3. Said person has been a victim for so long that he or she is constantly on the defensive and is actively trying to drive others away
4. Said person is an asshole
Reasons 1-3 make me feel sad for that person. Reason 4 does not.