31 January 2023

What Is Driving Religious Radicalism In The United States?

The U.S. is radicalizing because it is failing to deliver broad based prosperity. 

A hotter and more reactionary style of religion is surging in America and mainstreaming certain radical frameworks. It cuts across traditional denominational divides. It tracks some global shifts in religion, shifts in which America is a follower as well as a leader. And it represents a significant threat to the future of American democracy. 
The most fruitful line of investigation and response has to focus on the root causes of the religious transformation. Religion in America is starting to look more like religion in Brazil and Guatemala because America, in some aspects, is starting to resemble Brazil and Guatemala: increasingly unequal, bitterly divided, corrupt, rife with disinformation, and unstable. If we want people to choose different gods, we might think about tackling the conditions that lead them to prefer one kind over another.

From Katherine Stewart, "The Rise of Spirit Warriors on the Christian Right," at the New Republic via BoingBoing.

27 January 2023

Krugman On Rural Resentment

I've known this and discussed it for a long time, but a reminder now and then is appropriate. Without government subsidies, the rural population of the United States would be significantly smaller.

The truth is that ever since the New Deal rural America has received special treatment from policymakers. It’s not just farm subsidies, which ballooned under Donald Trump to the point where they accounted for around 40 percent of total farm income. Rural America also benefits from special programs that support housing, utilities and business in general.

In terms of resources, major federal programs disproportionately benefit rural areas, in part because such areas have a disproportionate number of seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare. But even means-tested programs — programs that Republicans often disparage as “welfare” — tilt rural. Notably, at this point rural Americans are more likely than urban Americans to be on Medicaid and receive food stamps.

And because rural America is poorer than urban America, it pays much less per person in federal taxes, so in practice major metropolitan areas hugely subsidize the countryside. These subsidies don’t just support incomes, they support economies: Government and the so-called health care and social assistance sector each employ more people in rural America than agriculture, and what do you think pays for those jobs?

From a New York Times Op-Ed by Paul Krugman. 

24 January 2023

Guns, Homicides, Suicides, and Drugs

The Big Picture

Gun control and drug policy are two areas where overwhelming empirical evidence shows that liberal policies on these issues would profoundly increase public welfare, and that conservative policies on these issues are deeply misguided and do profound harm without providing meaningful benefits to society. 

The misguided status quo policies in the United States on these issues are also among the most important reasons that U.S. life expectancies are lower than in other developed countries. While the raw numbers of deaths caused by these policies is not extremely high relative to diseases that cause deaths, because they results in deaths of much younger people on average than other leading causes of death, their impact on U.S. life expectancies is outsized.

Weak gun control laws are a root cause of about 75-80% of the homicides and more than half of all suicides in the United States. 

Insufficiently strong gun control laws cause about 30,000 more deaths per year in the United States than it would have if strong gun control laws were in place. 

These preventable deaths take a particularly strong toll on people who are more than one year old and are not yet elderly, who otherwise tend not to die of "natural causes" and are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. These deaths disproportionately kill men and racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, especially black adolescent boys, and young black men. Deaths due to weak gun control laws also disproportionately kill young white men in the South and in rural America.

This is also the reason that the United States leads the world in its number of mass shootings. And, the evidence is overwhelming that widespread gun ownership does not meaningfully mitigate mass shootings that do occur, and does not prevent mass shootings. Instead, it makes them more common.

The criminal justice system does not deter mass shootings. They continue to occur, even though it is widely known that almost every mass shooter (98% of whom are men): (1) commits suicide, (2) dies in the act as law enforcement tries to shop him or arrest him, (3) is convicted of multiple murders and remains in prison for life (or in very rare cases is executed a decade or more later), or (4) is declared insane or incompetent and is involuntarily committed and never walks free again. Almost no mass shooters escape death shortly after or maximal criminal justice system punishments. The clearance rates for these cases is almost perfect. Because of this fact, the only way to reduce the number of mass shootings is to prevent them, and stricter gun control laws are well proven to greatly reduce mass shootings.

Consideration of homicides and suicides alone fails to consider the way that the pervasive threat of armed crime triggers excessive uses of force by law enforcement and the militarization of law enforcement, sometimes resulting in unjustified law enforcement killings, in legally unjustified killings by civilians claiming to be acting in self-defense, in justified law enforcement and self-defense killings that could have been prevented if guns were less widely available, and in riots causing mass property damage, injuries, and sometimes deaths. These circumstances claim hundreds of lives each year and also lead to hundreds of law enforcement deaths of each year.

Of course, this doesn't even begin to consider the harms associated with gun involved crimes such as non-fatal shootings, extortion, robberies, burglaries, and rapes that are committed with firearms. The rates at which these aggravated crimes would be committed would be significantly reduced if strict gun control were in place, although comparative crime rate studies suggest that the reductions would not be nearly as great as the reductions in the rates of homicides.

The evidence is also overwhelming that the widespread availability of armed self-defense does not significantly prevent crimes from taking place, or mitigate the harm associated with crimes. Instead, gun ownership increases the rate at which gun owners and non-gun owners alike are victims of crimes and commit suicide. Armed self-defense and armed defense of others does succeed, at least partially, in a tiny number of cases, but the benefits of armed self-defense in the rare cases where it is used are profoundly overwhelmed by the harms that widespread gun availability facilitates, even to people who are generally law abiding when they buy firearms who purchase them in good faith solely for the purpose of defending themselves, their homes, and their families.

Widely available firearms, by making crimes more serious, also drives mass incarceration in the United States, by turning people who otherwise would have committed less serious crimes into people who commit serious violent crimes. People serving long sentences for violent crimes make up a large share of all prison inmates and would make up a significantly smaller share of prison inmates in a world with strict gun control.

Weak gun control laws in the United States and the prohibition rather than regulation of controlled substances in the United States are also a leading cause of homicides and other gun crimes in Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Strong gun control laws in the United States would save tens of thousands of lives each year elsewhere in the Americas.

The facts that countries with strict gun control laws like the U.K. and Japan have healthy democratic systems, that guns and threats of violence are increasingly being used to thwart the democratic process, and the results of comparative and historical studies of the impact of armed populations on tyranny and the democratic process, all soundly demonstrate that the political theory underlying the Second Amendment is profoundly incorrect as an empirical matter.

Unequivocal evidence clearly shows that the United States, and the Western Hemisphere more generally, would be profoundly better off if the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution were repealed, and the United States then adopted strict national gun control laws along the lines of those current in place in the United Kingdom and Japan.

In short, the Second Amendment is a suicide pact.

A policy towards illegal drugs and unauthorized use of prescription drugs that deals with drugs as a public health problem, rather than treating this as primarily a criminal justice problem would also greatly reduce ever rising number of drug overdose deaths in the United States. It would also profoundly reduce organized crime and gang activity and greatly reduce property crimes committed to fund illegal drug purchases. In the year 2021, 106,699 people in the United States died of drug overdoes (mostly of opiates), and this would be profoundly reduced if the United States instead took a public health approach to the problem. Perhaps 90% of these deaths could be prevented with better drug policies. This has been convincingly demonstrated in places that have shifted fully or partially from a war on drugs criminal justice approach to a public health approach to the problem of substance abuse such as France, Switzerland, and Portugal, and in places that have legalized recreational marijuana. The illegal drug trade that U.S. controlled substance laws facilitate also fuels organized crime worldwide, often making it a powerful rival to the civilian governments of the countries where it is present.

This post addresses many, but not all of the claims above, others of which have been addressed in previous posts at this blog.

Gun Control Laws Compared

The U.S. has the most lax gun control law in the world other than Ethiopia and Yemen (Switzerland is lax, but not as lax as the U.S., Yemen and Ethiopia are also more lax than they seems as Yemen is in the middle of a civil war and Ethiopia is the midst of a lower grade military insurgency).

The U.K. and Japan have the most strict gun control laws in the world, with Japan's regulation of guns being more strict and more effectively enforced, in part because the borders of the U.K. are more open to countries with less strict gun control laws. Japan also might tightly regulates bladed weapons than the U.K. does.

Homicide Rates Compared

How does this affect homicide rates in the respective countries?

The lion's share of the difference in homicide rates between the U.S., U.K., and Japan can be attributed to gun control.

Total Homicide Rates Per 100,000 people:

* U.S.    4.7 (74% involving guns)

* U.K.    1.17 (5% involving guns, i.e. 35 gun homicides per year).

* Japan   1.02 (less than 1% involving guns, i.e. 9 gun deaths including suicides and accidents per year).

Gun Homicide Rate Per 100,000 people:

* U.S.    3.48 (about 58 times as great as the U.K.)

* U.K.:  0.06 (more than 6 times more than Japan)

* Japan: less than 0.01 (more than 348 times less than the U.S.)

The U.S. would have about 11,300 fewer gun homicides per year if it had the U.K. gun homicide rate instead of its own.

More generally (involving slightly different rates due to age adjustments and data from different years):

Non-Gun Homicide Rates Per 100,000 people:

* U.S. 1.22 (21% more than Japan and 10% more than the U.K.)

* U.K. 1.11 (10% more than Japan)

* Japan 1.01

The U.S. would have about 363 fewer non-gun homicides per year (about one less homicide per day, nationwide) if it had the U.K. non-gun homicide rate rather than its own non-gun homicide rate.

Some of the difference in the non-gun homicide rate between the U.S. and the U.K. and Japan (but probably less than 10%), may reflect the inferior health care system of the U.S., which unlike the U.K. and Japan is not universal causing people who need emergency medical care to avoid hospitals.

Some of the difference in the non-gun homicide rate between the U.K. and Japan (but probably not more than 10%) may reflect stricter controls on bladed weapons in Japan than in the U.K.

The fact that the population of Japan is older than the populations of the U.K. and the U.S. may account for some of the difference.

Another factor may  be greater economic inequality and higher poverty rates in the U.K. Economic inequality and poverty are higher in the U.S. than either the U.K. or Japan.

But, all other factors explaining the differences in homicide rates between these countries pale in comparison to gun control.

Mass Shootings Compared

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. also (almost) leads the world in mass shootings:

Mass shootings are a fairly modest share of all murders committed with guns in the United States (about 2.6%):
The Gun Violence Archive, an online database of gun violence incidents in the U.S., defines mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people are shot, even if no one was killed (again excluding the shooters). Using this definition, 513 people died in these incidents in 2020.

But mass shootings have a disproportionate impact on our public sense of security, because they are comparatively random and unpredictable.

There are no mass shooting in Japan, which has a population of about 125 million people.

The U.S. has:

about twenty-five times as many mass shootings per capita as the U.K., 

about twelve times as many as Italy, 

about eight times as many as Australia, 

about five times as many as Germany, 

about three times as many as Canada, 

about two and three-quarters times as many as Austria, 

about two and two-thirds times as many as the Netherlands, 

about two and a half times as many as France, 

one and three-quarters times as many as Belgium, 

about one point six times as many as the Czech Republic, and 

33% more the Switzerland. 

Finland actually has 80% more mass shootings per capita than the U.S., in part due to random variation in a very small number over a twenty-one year period in a country with a small population (and probably involves fewer victims per capita than the U.S.).

Per capita rates are also problematic and not as statistically significant in countries with only one mass shooting during a twenty-one year period when the country has a small population, where random chance at a given rate and "rounding error" type issues come into play.

Gun Suicides

Stricter gun control would also greatly reduce firearm suicides without corresponding increases in suicides from other causes. 

According to the Pew Center:

In 2020, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43% were murders (19,384), according to the CDC. The remaining gun deaths that year were unintentional (535), involved law enforcement (611) or had undetermined circumstances (400). . . .
Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) U.S. murders in 2020 – 19,384 out of 24,576 – involved a firearm. That marked the highest percentage since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the CDC has online records. A little over half (53%) of all suicides in 2020 – 24,292 out of 45,979 – involved a gun, a percentage that has generally remained stable in recent years. 

As noted by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

Variation in state-level suicide rates is largely driven by rates of suicide by firearm.  
Suicides involving firearms vary from the lowest rate of 1.8 per 100,000 in New Jersey and Massachusetts to a high of 20.9 per 100,000 in Wyoming, representing an absolute difference of 19.1. 
In contrast, the rate of suicide by other means is more stable across states, ranging from a low of 4.6 in Mississippi to a high of 11.4 in South Dakota, representing an absolute difference of 6.8. . . .
More than twice as many suicides by firearm occur in states with the fewest gun laws, relative to states with the most laws. . . .
Taking a look at suicide deaths starting from the date of a handgun purchase and comparing them to people who did not purchase handguns, another study found that people who purchased handguns were more likely to die from suicide by firearm than those who did not–with men 8 times more likely and women 35 times more likely compared to non-owners.

Non-firearm suicides rates are relatively stable across states suggesting that other types of suicides are not more likely in areas where guns are harder to access.


A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, HSPH Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Matthew Miller, Research Associate Deborah Azrael, and colleagues at the School’s Injury Control Research Center (ICRC), found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower. 

Spillover Effects

Stricter gun control laws in the U.S. would also significantly reduce homicide rates in Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America, where a very significant share of all gun homicides are committed with guns smuggled into those countries illegally from the United States, where guns are easy to obtain. 

For example, according to a July 2022 article, in "Ontario, Canada's most populous province . . . when handguns involved in crimes were traced in 2021, they were overwhelmingly - 85% of the time - found to have come from the United States. . . . 70% of all traced guns used in crimes in Ontario came from the United States, while so far this year the U.S. share has risen to 73%, according to the data from the Ontario police's Firearms Analysis and Tracing Enforcement (FATE) program."

A significant share of homicides in Latin America are also attributable to the trade in illegal drugs involving drug cartels and other forms of organized crime from Latin American to meet U.S. demand, which would be greatly reduced if those drugs were legalized but regulated in the United States.

Taking a global view, the six countries with the highest age-adjusted rates of firearm homicides are:
  1. El Salvador
  2. Venezuela
  3. Guatemala
  4. Colombia
  5. Honduras
  6. Brazil
Research has found high levels of homicides in these countries are associated with drug cartels, the illegal trade in firearms from the US, and firearms flowing to civilians after conflicts end, as summarized in the Global Burden of Disease study.

From here.

Thus, stricter gun control in the United States and more enlightened controlled substances laws in the United States would greatly reduce homicides almost everywhere in the Americas.

As an aside, the linked Global Burden of Disease study concludes that the drug trade and smuggled firearms from the U.S. have a much smaller impact on suicide rates in Latin America than these factors do on homicide rates there. 

There is good reason to think that this is also true in Canada.

22 January 2023

We Need A Takings Jurisprudence For All Constitutional Rights

In the extremely conservative 11th Circuit, neither the individual law enforcement officers involved nor the government has any liability in this fact pattern:

Sosa has lived in Martin County, Florida, since 2014. Things did not start well for him there. In November of that year, a Martin County Sheriff’s deputy pulled Sosa over for a routine traffic stop. During the encounter, the deputy ran Sosa’s name through the Office’s computer system. 
The computer told the deputy of an outstanding 1992 warrant issued out of Harris County, Texas, for a “David Sosa” in connection with the wanted Sosa’s conviction for selling crack cocaine. The warrant described the wanted Sosa, including his date of birth, height, weight, tattoo information (he had at least one), and other details. When the deputy went to arrest Sosa on the warrant, Sosa pointed out that his own date of birth, height, and weight did not match the information for the wanted Sosa and that, unlike the wanted Sosa, he had no tattoos. The deputies arrested Sosa, anyway, and took him to the station. 
While detained at the station, Sosa told two Martin County jailers that he was not the wanted Sosa. And he explained that the wanted Sosa’s identifiers differed from his own. Then a deputy fingerprinted Sosa and determined that he was not the wanted Sosa. So roughly three hours after Sosa was initially detained, he was released. 
Three-and-a-half years passed. Then, the same thing happened again—only this time, Sosa was not lucky enough to be released within three hours. On April 20, 2018, a different deputy of the Martin County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Killough, pulled Sosa over for a traffic stop. When Deputy Killough ran Sosa’s name, he discovered the same 1992 open warrant. Sosa explained that he was not the wanted Sosa and told Deputy Killough he had previously been incorrectly arrested on that warrant and released when deputies realized the error. Sosa again noted that he and the wanted Sosa did not share the same birthdate, Social Security number, tattooed status, or other identifying information. But once again, his explanation did not work; Deputy Killough arrested Sosa and impounded his truck anyway. 
When Deputy Killough took Sosa to the Martin County jail, Sosa “repeatedly explained to many Martin County employees . . . that his date of birth and other identifying information [were] different than the information on the warrant for the wanted . . . Sosa.” Among those Martin County employees were Deputy Sanchez and the other Martin County deputies in the booking area. They wrote down Sosa’s information and told him they would follow up on the matter. 
But Sosa spent the remainder of April 20 in jail. 
The next day, Sosa appeared by video before a magistrate judge. Though Sosa tried to explain the mistaken identity, “several Martin County jailers threatened him and told him not to talk to the judge during his hearing.” As a result, Sosa “thought it was a crime to talk to the judge.” 
Sosa spent the rest of that day in jail. 
And then he spent the next day in jail as well. 
Finally, after detaining Sosa for three nights, deputies fingerprinted him on April 23 and released him in the late afternoon. In the meantime, Sosa missed work and had to pay to retrieve his truck from impoundment.

In a system based on the jurisprudence of 5th Amendment takings, the government whose law enforcement officers arrested Sosa would have liability to Sosa because he was deprived of his liberty and incurred funds to retrieve his truck from impoundment when he was an innocent man and gave the authorities every opportunity to confirm that fact immediately.

But, the law instead imposes liability not on the entity in most cases, but only on its employees, and only in cases where they intentionally violate a well-established constitutional right. So, if the system is broken that that means that someone is deprived of liberty without deserving it, they have no remedy. 

Even if their constitutional rights are intentionally violated, as a result of the court created doctrine of qualified immunity, the victim of this conduct has no remedy unless previous controlling case law had held in a factually similar case that the constitution doesn't permit this conduct. And, since qualified immunity can be invoked before the question of whether a constitutional right have been violated or not comes up, the system intrinsically prevents the scope of constitutional rights of developing naturally in the case law.

This rule of law is unjust and fails to adequately protect the people who most deserve the constitution's protections. It is very doubtful that the Founders would have approved of this approach had they foreseen it.

The dissent argues that even under existing law, Sosa is entitled to relief, stating (emphasis mine, citations omitted):

[T]he factual allegations in Sosa’s complaint must establish two things: (1) the deputies violated his constitutional rights by detaining him for three nights and days on a warrant for a different David Sosa when the deputies knew or should have known that he was not the wanted Sosa; and (2) those rights were “clearly established,” in that “every reasonable official would have understood that what he [wa]s doing violate[d] that right.”

As I explain below, Sosa’s complaint does both.

But, the hurdle was too high in the first place. It should be sufficient to show that Sosa was not the individual wanted in the warrant and that he was detained and forced to incur monetary charges. This ought to entitle him to full compensatory damages and an apology.

This strict liability standard might be high to impose personal liability upon law enforcement officers, but it shouldn't be to high to impose upon the government directing those officers and establishing the systems that led to his wrongful detention.

Random Thoughts

* The notion that there are many languages that basically have completely parallel languages called registers like Javanese, Aboriginal Australian languages with mother-in-law languages, and historical Korean (which has now devolved into elaborate levels of politeness) is fascinating. I've read a lot about how dialects develop, but not how registers evolve.

* The notion of an Operation Track and Release in anti-submarine warfare, where spies, special forces, and drones would attach a small camouflaged tracker to submarines while not doing anything else is intriguing. If you know where a submarine is, it isn't very hard to disable it with a torpedo or an anti-submarine missile, but finding them is hard. If one knew where a large share of an opposition's submarines were from trackers, one could strike them all in the space of an afternoon without warning with a very modest number of aircraft.

* The AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile, or JAGM, which is the successor to the Hellfire missile and intended to be useable in existing Hellfire missile launchers and has a JAGM-MR version which will extend the range of this missile from 5 miles to 10 miles. It can be launched from small ground force patrol vehicles, small or medium sized boats and ships, or helicopters.

* "Camero-Tech, a firm based in Israel, has created a next-generation portable, high-performance imaging device that can actually "see" through walls. Called the Xaver 1000"

* Yesterday, there was a Chinese New Year's celebration massacre near Los Angeles at which ten people were killed and ten more people were injured. The middle aged Asian American perpetrator apparently killed himself as he was being apprehended the next day - when will we wake up and decide that the Second Amendment is an outdated suicide pact?

* I'm looking forward to the return of supersonic commercial flights in the near future.

* The absurd massive construction projects in the oil rich countries of the Persian Gulf that are suddenly everywhere while dazzling are also disgusting. See, e.g., the $500 billion megacity planned in Saudi Arabia that wants to host winter games entirely with artificial snow, and a moon shaped building in Dubai.

* The number of tech workers who have been laid off in the last few months is greater than the number of active duty military personnel in the entire U.S. Marine Corps. "Nearly 200,000 tech employees have been laid off since the start of 2022, according to Layoffs.fyi, a site that tracks job cuts in the sector. Four of the largest tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft — have announced a total of more than 50,000 job cuts in recent months." A long boom preceded this mass layoff: "In 2011, the tech sector began a hiring boom that would last a decade. It added an average of more than 100,000 jobs annually, and by 2021, it had recouped all the jobs it lost when the dot-com bubble burst."

* If you want an example of how to be a horrible parent of a teenager, the facts of this recent Colorado Court of Appeals decision affirming a trial court decision to that effect can guide you. Any parent who thinks parenting is about parental rights instead of the best interests of your child is not a good parent.

¶ 2 L.D. is the sole living parent of A.D., one of her three children. A.D. was sixteen at the time of the guardianship proceeding. Although L.D. and A.D. once shared a healthy relationship, it deteriorated dramatically during the summer and fall of 2021. This deterioration gave rise to Petitioners’ request for — and the district court’s grant of — an unlimited guardianship over A.D. We turn to that history now.

¶ 3 In June 2021, A.D.’s car was vandalized while parked in front of the family home. A.D. and his mother had a heated argument about why it happened and who was responsible for cleaning it. Upset by this conversation, A.D. went to stay at his girlfriend’s house. Although he soon returned home, A.D. ran away from home five more times following disagreements with L.D.

¶ 4 In early July 2021, L.D. gave A.D. an ultimatum: he could (1) go to military school, (2) attend therapeutic boarding school, or (3) abide by her house rules. A.D. ran away again that night, but this 2 time he spent over a month away from home, staying with his girlfriend, couch surfing at friends’ homes, or sleeping in public parks.

¶ 5 On August 7, 2021, A.D. was taken to the emergency room after appearing to overdose while partying with friends at a park. The hospital made a mandatory report to the Department of Human Services (DHS). Once A.D. was stable, L.D. and V.T. (L.D.’s longtime colleague and family friend) met with a DHS representative to discuss next steps. L.D. agreed that, given the hostility between A.D. and herself, and between A.D. and his two siblings (who both lived with L.D.), it was in his best interest to stay with Petitioners.

¶ 6 On September 8, 2021, A.D. drove Petitioners’ car to L.D.’s house for his first night back since early July. When he arrived, L.D. became extremely upset that he had driven there. In her mind, A.D.’s operation of a car — and Petitioners’ facilitation of it — violated their agreement that he not drive until certain conditions were met. The next morning, without notice to Petitioners or her son, L.D. called the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and withdrew her permission for A.D.’s driver’s license. The DMV revoked his license the next day.

¶ 7 A.D. became enraged when he learned that his mother had revoked her consent and subsequently sent a series of angry texts to her. L.D. then blocked A.D.’s number, thus preventing A.D.’s calls or texts from coming through to L.D.’s phone (though texts came through on her computer).

¶ 8 On September 24, 2021, DHS facilitated an “adults only” meeting with L.D., Petitioners, and DHS representatives. That meeting resulted in three shared priorities: (1) Petitioners were to provide regular updates about A.D. to L.D., who would, in turn, communicate with Petitioners before making decisions affecting A.D.; (2) A.D.’s license would be reauthorized within thirty days once to-be-defined conditions were met; and (3) A.D. would be allowed to be on the high school wrestling team, which all parties agreed was good for him.

¶ 9 Over the next month, Petitioners regularly emailed L.D. updates on A.D. L.D. provided few, if any, responses to these updates. Petitioners also sent L.D. a proposed plan for A.D. to get his license back, but L.D. did not respond.

¶ 10 On October 20, 2021, Petitioners filed their petition for appointment as A.D.’s guardians. L.D. objected to the petition, sought dismissal of the action, and requested attorney fees.

¶ 11 On November 8, 2021, Petitioners requested that the court appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent A.D.’s interests. Over L.D.’s objection, the court appointed a GAL pursuant to section 15-14-115, C.R.S. 2022, after concluding that, owing to their disagreement over the guardianship, the parties could not represent A.D.’s best interest in the guardianship proceedings. The GAL represented A.D.’s best interest throughout the litigation, and the court also instructed the GAL to provide a report about whether L.D. was “unable to exercise her parental rights.”

¶ 12 On November 14, 2021, before Petitioners filed their reply, L.D. — without consulting Petitioners or A.D. — revoked her permission for A.D. to wrestle the day before the first day of practice. Why she took this sudden action is unclear: L.D. testified it was because A.D. was not maintaining passing grades, while another witness testified that she wanted “leverage” over him to participate in family therapy. Regardless, A.D. was devastated by the timing and nature of this action.

¶ 13 While these motions were pending, Petitioners continued to care for A.D. Petitioners asked L.D. for permission to talk to A.D.’s teachers, coaches, and doctors about how to better care for him. Yet from August to early December 2021, L.D. refused to grant Petitioners permission to engage with these individuals. She ignored or outright refused to allow such communications until December 8, 2021, when, after repeated requests from a DHS representative, she allowed Petitioners to attend — but not participate in — a meeting with A.D.’s teachers.

¶ 14 L.D. also resisted Petitioners’ requests for financial support for A.D.’s care. To her credit, L.D. provided A.D. with $25 per week for groceries. These funds came from A.D.’s $1,800 monthly survivorship benefit, which was established following the death of A.D.’s father when A.D. was three. Petitioners knew the benefit existed and requested more financial support. L.D. did not respond to these requests.

¶ 15 Except for the text exchange between L.D. and A.D. following the revocation of L.D.’s consent for A.D.’s license, L.D. and A.D. never communicated directly. Instead, all such communications went through Petitioners or DHS.

¶ 16 Consistent with section 15-14-205(1), C.R.S. 2022, the district court conducted a hearing on Petitioners’ guardianship motion. The hearing spanned two days, with both sides calling numerous witnesses.

¶ 17 In a written order, the court granted Petitioners an unlimited guardianship over A.D. In so doing, the court concluded that Petitioners had proved by clear and convincing evidence that L.D. was, consistent with section 15-14-204(2)(c), “unwilling or unable” to care for A.D. and that the guardianship was in A.D.’s best interest notwithstanding his mother’s opposition to it.

* The Great Salt Lake will dry up in five years: "The Great Salt Lake, plagued by excessive water use and a worsening climate crisis, has dropped to record-low levels two years in a row. The lake is now 19 feet below its natural average level and has entered “uncharted territory” after losing 73% of its water and exposing 60% of its lakebed[.]"

* This amphibious bus would make sense for national guard units in places where flooding is a likely risk:

* The reel I'm linking to illustrates visually the absurdity of the concept of going to battle in an RV which is basically what the blue sea navy of the United States does.

* Fake storage devices at absurdly low prices are a problem at Amazon.com.

* I wonder what human engineered variants of wild mustard (which is the source of many common vegetables) were attempted but rejected.

* The best head of government in the world, New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern, isn't running for re-election.

* Wise words:

* Vanilla is apparently a New World crop:

* The Convair F2Y Sea Dart was a supersonic jet fighter than could land and take off from the sea.

Republicans Really Dislike Education


The Marine Corps' Amphibious Ship Fleet

The latest DOD report on what amphibious ships the Marine Corps needs is classified. But, the Marine Corps' wish list is public:

Marine Corps officials have said their service needs a minimum of 31 amphibious ships: 10 big-deck amphibious assault ships and 21 amphibious transport dock ships. Congress agreed, and set that minimum number in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. It also required that the Marine commandant be consulted “on major decisions directly concerning Marine Corps aviation or amphibious force structure and capability.”

Marine officials have also said they need 35 of the future light amphibious warships, or LAWs. The LAW is key to the service’s Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept, and they would move the new Marine Littoral Regiments around the Pacific to counter or deny Chinese military activities, Gen. Eric Smith, the Corps’ assistant commandant, said at last year’s Sea Air Space conference.

The LAW is intended to complement the larger LHA and LPD amphibs, to be a more efficient way to transport Marines around the first island chain, Smith said.

But some argue that the comparatively slow and lightly armed LAWs would be so unsuited for combat that they throw the entire EABO concept into question.

The need for a modern day D-Day style amphibious assault is basically nil. 

But the military does need some way to transport soldiers and their gear to distant conflicts, and it could potentially need to use ships as a base of operations where there are no U.S. military bases (something more likely to come up in Latin America or Africa than in the western Pacific Ocean).

20 January 2023

A Jobs Program To Prevent Gun Violence

A study has concluded that investing a lot of money in "at risk" young men pays off handsomely. 

Gun violence is the most pressing public safety problem in American cities. We report results from a randomized controlled trial (N = 2,456) of a community-researcher partnership—the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI Chicago)— which provided 18 months of a supported job alongside cognitive behavioral therapy and other social supports. Algorithmic and human referral methods identified men with strikingly high scope for gun violence reduction: for every 100 people in the control group, there were over 11 shooting and homicide victimizations during the 20-month outcome period. Take-up and retention rates were comparable to programs for people facing far lower mortality risk. There is no statistically significant change in an index combining three measures of serious violence, the study’s primary outcome. But one component, shooting and homicide arrests, shows a suggestive decline of 64 percent (p = 0.15). Because shootings are so costly, READI generates social savings between $174,000 and $858,000 per participant, implying a benefit-cost ratio between 3.8 and 18.8 to 1. Moreover, participants referred by outreach workers—a pre-specified subgroup—show enormous declines in both arrests and victimizations for shootings and homicides that remain statistically significant even after multiple testing adjustments. These declines are concentrated among outreach referrals with high predicted risk, suggesting that human and algorithmic targeting may work better together.

Via SocArXiv

A New Medium Range Artillery Missile

Ukraine is the new sandbox and the latest military toy is the ground launched small diameter bomb. 

Essentially, it is a guided missile launched from existing U.S. made multiple rocket launcher systems cobbled together from existing weapons parts, with a much longer range than current artillery missiles of 80 miles, and a still considerable warhead payload. It would be accurate enough to hit a target the size of a single tank or a residential one car garage.

[T]he ground-launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) combines a 250-pound aircraft bomb with a GPS seeker, wings, and a rocket motor. . . . Boeing and Sweden’s Saab develop the ground-launched Small Diameter Bomb. Each GLSDB round is a combination of two systems: the rocket motor from the M26 artillery rocket and the air-launched 250-pound GBU-39/B SDB with its pop-out wing set.

The M26 is one of the rockets that can be launched from the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and derivatives, as well as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). . . .

The weapon system, which has a maximum range of 150 kilometers, could effectively blanket the Ukrainian region taken since February 2022 and some areas of northern Crimea from the front line.

From here

17 January 2023

China's Population Is Shrinking

In China, births dropped 10% from 2021 to 2022, and 19.45% from 2020 to 2022. 

China's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (which is roughly speaking the number of children per lifetime per woman of a statistically average women sampling across the lifespan in a single year) in 2022 was about 1.05, which is half of the replacement rate.

Some of this is no doubt due to China's zero tolerance policy resulting in epic COVID lockdowns. It isn't clear how indicative the last two years will be of long term fertility trends in China.
The National Bureau of Statistics [in China] on Tuesday announced a decline of 850,000 people to a new total population of 1.4118 billion — the first such decline in 60 years. The birthrate reached its lowest level on record at 6.77 per 1,000 people, down from 7.52 in 2021.
From the Washington Post.
China’s fertility level has continuously declined over the past decades. The total fertility rate (TFR) decreased from 5.81 in 1970 to 2.75 in 1979. In the 1980s, the TFR fluctuated above the replacement level. Since the 1990s, the fertility rate has declined to below the replacement level. The 2010 and 2020 censuses yielded TFRs of 1.18 and 1.30, respectively. 
China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported the annual births of 10.62 million for 2021, a sharp decline of 11.50 percent compared to the 12 million births enumerated in China’s 2020 census. While China’s registered birth rates are widely considered to be underestimated owing to child underreporting, it is generally recognized that China’s fertility has decreased to very low levels since the 1990s. As with other countries that have experienced population transitions, China’s fertility decreased to the replacement level and continued to decrease to extremely low levels, rather than being sustained at the replacement level as expected. Following the TFR of 1.3 in 2020 census, the decline in births in 2021 indicated that the fertility level decreased further.
From the journal Population Health Metrics.

16 January 2023

The Demography Of Northern Ireland's First Century

Northern Ireland has becoming more Catholic and less opposed to union with the Republic of Ireland over the last century. 

In part, this is because Catholics had more children than Protestants for a long period of time, although this distinction has slowed to almost nothing, and was counterbalanced before that by emigration from Northern Ireland. 

In part, this is because the Irish Catholic identity has been more stable than the Irish Protestant identity which has trended towards secularism and an Irish identity.

While there are more Catholics than Protestants in Ireland, however, neither is a majority because a significant number of Northern Irish people, 17.4% (disproportionately from Protestant backgrounds), are not religious. About 46% of the non-religious people in Northern Ireland in 2021 were raised that way, while the rest were overwhelmingly raised either Protestant (in most cases) or Catholic (in a much smaller percentage of cases).

In contrast, in the United States, large numbers of people raised both as white Protestants and as white Catholics now identify as having "no religion" consistent with the maxim that a religion that protects a threatened culture thrives relative to a religion that is associated with an establishment culture.
Northern Ireland’s boundaries were drawn up with the explicit aim of creating a two-to-one Protestant majority. At the 1926 census, the first after the war ended, Catholics made up only 35.5% of the province’s population. . . . until relatively recently both groups were largely insulated from other demographic shocks like intermarriage and immigration. (As recently as 2001, Northern Ireland was >99% white, one of the highest proportions in the world; the number today is still very high, at just under 97%.) . . . The Protestant majority was relatively stable for the first forty years or so of Northern Irish history, because a higher Catholic birth rate was offset by higher rates of Catholic emigration; 60% of Northern Irish emigrants before the Troubles were Catholic. However, entering into the 1960s, Catholic emigration fell, and the balance of population began to shift: by 1971, the Catholic population had grown to about 40%. . . . As the Troubles rolled on, Catholic Northerners continued to have more children than their Protestant counterparts. And with a minor baby boom after the peace agreement in 1998, the shift in the province’s demographics has continued apace, especially as the Protestant population has declined in absolute terms. Despite their traditional dominance of Northern Irish politics, since the 2017 election unionist parties (largely supported by Protestants) have been a minority in the Northern Ireland Assembly; and a century after the establishment of Northern Ireland as a Protestant state, the 2021 census showed Catholics outnumbering Protestants for the first time. With Sinn Féin today the largest party in the Assembly . . . many are already suggesting that a united Ireland is now inevitable. . . . While Northern Catholics emigrated much more than Northern Protestants, the disparity is not so stark when we compare them with Southern Catholics, who were also leaving Ireland in droves before the 1960s (at a rate much higher than the small number of Southern Protestants). Northern Catholic emigration was part of a broader history of high levels of Irish Catholic emigration north and south, both before and after the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921; discrimination certainly did not encourage Catholic population growth, but it wasn’t the main driver of emigration. Likewise, the idea that Northern Catholic emigration slowed in the 1960s because of an imposition of welfare and minimal equality from London is hard to square with Southern emigration also declining in the late 1950s and early 1960s. . . . 
The decline in Catholic fertility has tempered the change in demographics: between 2011 and 2021, the Catholic or Catholic background share of the Northern Irish population increased by only 0.6 percentage points (from 45.1% to 45.7%). And indeed, the share of the vote given to Irish nationalist parties in Northern Ireland Assembly elections did not increase significantly over this period (it was just over 41% in 2011, and about 40% in 2022). . . . 
[T]he Alliance Party (a social liberal party which is officially neutral on a united Ireland) more than doubled its seat count in 2022 to become the third-largest party, winning 13.5% of the vote—up from 7.7% in 2011, and only 3.7% back in 2003. This has largely been driven by the affluent and by young people, groups of voters who increasingly feel disconnected from the traditional political and religious categories. Increasingly, people have begun to feel that their political goals and projects can’t be captured by either political tradition, unionism or Irish nationalism. This change is not happening symmetrically, however: the rise of the ‘others’ has eaten much more into the Protestant population than the Catholic one. Unionism is on the decline politically, with unionist parties receiving 40% of the vote in 2022 compared to nearly 47% in 2011, due in no small part to the success of the Alliance Party in affluent Protestant areas. Indeed, Alliance is much stronger east of the River Bann (a traditional dividing line between Catholic-heavy and Protestant-heavy regions), and has struggled with candidate quality in Catholic-heavy areas. And, especially in response to Brexit, more people (especially young people) from a Protestant background are identifying themselves as ‘Irish’ as well as (or instead of) ‘British’ or ‘Northern Irish’. Some of this is being driven by secularisation, which is happening in a lopsided manner in Northern Ireland. Of those who said they had no religion in 2011, a majority identified as British, and over two-thirds identified either as British or Northern Irish; only 14% thought of themselves as Irish compared to 28.4% of the general population, which suggests that those from a Protestant background are secularising more quickly than their Catholic counterparts. Or at least, secularisation in Catholic communities had less of an impact on cultural identity and political beliefs.
From here. A final footnote in the source states:
Note: this essay was written before the crosstabulations were released for the 2021 census; you can find more up-to-date data here.

The top line religion result for Northern Ireland in 2021 is as follows:

Also notably, Irish just became an official language of Northern Ireland once the relevant provision come into force, with the passage of the "Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022" on December 6, 2022.

Quote Of The Day

January in Nashville ushers in two forces for chaos: erratic weather and irrational legislators. Both are massively disruptive. Neither is surprising anymore.

14 January 2023

U.S. Hypersonic Missiles

The U.S. Army and U.S. Navy plan to field jointly developed hypersonic missiles in 2023:

The large eight-ton, three-foot diameter hypersonic missile is expected to travel in excess of Mach 5 (3,836.35 mph) or faster and have a range of about 1,725 miles. . . . The Army has selected the first unit to field the hypersonic missiles but hasn’t released that information. The Navy is planning on fielding the weapons on the three Zumwalt-class stealthy destroyers and on 20 Virginia-class attack submarines. . . . The missile is being developed under the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) capabilities program[.]

This would allow a strike on a ship in the Taiwan straight from Guam that would take half an hour to arrive at its target.

Russia and China both have similar missiles.

13 January 2023

Evidence Of Hereditary IQ In Norway

We study a decade of achievement gaps for fifth-, eighth-, and 10th-grade students in Norway using administrative population data. Norway is a wealthy and egalitarian country with a homogeneous educational system, yet achievement gaps between students at the 90th and 10th percentiles of parental income and between students whose parents have at least a master and at most a high school degree are found to be large (0.55–0.93 and 0.70–0.99 SD), equivalent to about 2 to 2.5 years of schooling, and increasing by grade level. Achievement gaps by parental income, but not by parental education, increased over the time period, underscoring the different ways these two socioeconomic status components relate to achievement and the potential for policy to alter gaps.

From here.

This is not a surprising result. 

The evidence that IQ is a well defined real quantity that is heavily hereditary is well established. And, while IQ isn't necessary a great measure of everything that is important, it is absolutely an excellent indicator of a person's capacity for academic achievement in ordinary schoolwork.

This is, however, a particularly "clean" result, because Norway's wealth and egalitarianism remove many of the environmental confounds to definitively establishing the validity of hereditary IQ as real in other countries.

Also, the data set is huge:

We use data from national registries covering the entire Norwegian population of fifth, eighth, and 10th graders from 2007 to 2018 (cohort birth years 1991–2008) and their parents/guardians. The data allow us to examine (a) changes in gaps over time (i.e., between-cohorts comparisons for, e.g., fifth grade) and (b) within-cohorts achievement patterns across grades (i.e., how a cohort performs in fifth, eighth, and 10th grades). The total sample used in the analyses includes 1,103,081 children/adolescents. Data are obtained from Statistics Norway and include the education, income, and population registries, linked by anonymized personal identification numbers.

Honestly, the most surprising thing about the effect measured is how small it is. 

There are about 2.5 standard deviations of in IQ between the 10th percentile and the 90th percentile, so even with 50% regression to the mean, you'd expect a 1.25 standard deviation gap in achievement (although both income and education are imperfect indirect indicators of IQ).

The discussion section of the paper also adds useful analysis and comparisons:

There are three main findings in our study. 
First, even in a fairly egalitarian country with a homogeneous educational system, achievement gaps by both parental income and parental education are large, equivalent to about 2 to 2.5 years of schooling. 
Second, the gaps are increasing with student grade level, increasing by about 10 percentage points from fifth grade to eighth grade, with a similar increase to 10th grade. This increase is consistent with OECD (2018), which found large and growing gaps for Norway from age 10 to ages 25 to 29. 
Third, for income gaps, but not for education gaps, there has been an increase in gaps over time, equivalent to about 3 to 4 months of schooling. When we decompose the change for income, we observe that achievement remains high and stable for the 90th percentile and that achievement is decreasing over time for the 10th percentile. 
How do the gaps we observe for Norway compare to the United States and other countries? 
Such comparisons, as noted previously, are not straightforward but give us some idea of how the magnitude of our estimates compare to the magnitude in estimates in studies that are somewhat comparable. Our estimates are consistent with, but in general smaller than, those reported from the United States. For example, Reardon (2011b) reported income gaps that increase from about 0.75 SD in 1940 to about 1.25 SD in 2000, and Reardon and Portilla (2016) reported income achievement gaps for kindergarteners (ages 5–6) above 0.99, substantially above gaps for our lowest grade level. 
In an international comparison, Chmielewski and Reardon (2016) found the income achievement gap in Norway to be 0.75 of a standard deviation in the PIRLS 2001 data, compared with 1.25 of a standard deviation in the United States, using same-age data from the ECLS-K. 
Our estimates for achievement gaps by parental education are also slightly smaller than those reported from the United States. Using the Reardon (2011b) 90/10 estimation method, more appropriate for comparisons, we found gaps ranging from 0.86 to 1.15 SD (Appendix A, Figure A2, available on the journal website). Reardon (2011a) found achievement gaps by parental education in the United States to be stable over time largely above 1 SD, with some signs of a slight increase in the end of the period. 
While not directly comparable, the socioeconomic (SES) achievement gaps reported by Chmielewski (2019) for the United States are estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2 for the period 1950 to 2000, whereas trends for other countries are largely above 1.0. Hanushek et al. (2020), measuring the difference between average performance above the 75th and below the 25th percentiles, found that gaps in the United States increased from .84 to .91 from 1961 to 2001. Similar estimates for our data, using parental education as our gap measure, yield gaps in the range of .51 and .87, again, largely lower than the U.S. estimates and in line with Broer et al. (2019) and OECD (2018), which showed that Norway has large gaps but that they are relatively smaller than those for the United States.

Despite smaller absolute achievement gaps in Norway compared to those found in the United States, it is notable that the gaps we observe in Norway are disturbingly large, given the sociopolitical context in which they have arisen. If income disparities (being about twice as large in the United States compared to Norway; OECD, 2021) relate to income achievement gaps, the relative difference in achievement gaps between the two countries is smaller than what one might expect. This is particularly evident if we compare the education, social security, and health-care system in Norway with those of the United States, expected to reduce inequality. From a developmental perspective, however, even in a more egalitarian society, there may be strong associations between student achievement and the resources that families have available to their children, whether measured by parent income or education.

The difference in the achievement gaps between Norway and the U.S. provide a rough means of estimating the extent to which environmental factors in the U.S. led to achievement gaps not arising from hereditary IQ. This excess achievement gap is on the order of half of a standard deviation, or about 7-8 IQ points.