Wednesday, May 22, 2019

One year ago, I made the foolish mistake of not reading every document carefully before signing each one



                                                                                                          
                                                                                                            May 23, 2018

Gerald Naperville, Inc.
1661 Aurora Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540

Dear Anthony Triner, Sales Manager:

I purchased a 2015 Subaru Forester on May 22nd. During conversations with one of your salesman, my wife and I were told the car had your so-called $2000 Gerald Protection Plan. We assumed, however, that this protection was already included in the overall price of the vehicle because the salesman never said we had to pay additionally for such a plan. ­Note: I never saw the current selling-price invoice of the vehicle, nor was I given one for my records.

Moreover, to verify our assumption, Gino Tairi, one of your sales managers, wrote down his quoted price for the car on the back of his card: “$18,995. + Title, Taxes and License for $20,736.” He did not include the cost of the Protection Plan. Though Mr. Tairi also offered $2800 for my truck, it didn’t occur to me until the next morning that we paid too much for the car: a total of $19,863. Without the so-called Protection Plan, I should have paid $17,879. In a whirlwind of “sign here; sign here” over several exhausting hours, I made the foolish mistake of not reading every document carefully before signing each one.

Furthermore, regarding the Gerald Protection Plan, here are five reasons why I believe your dealership did not perform the work required by your so-called plan (“Clear Door Guards, Wheel Locks, Theft Protection, Nitrogen Tire Fill, Paint & Fabric Protection”) as well.

1) I brought my car in the following morning for replacement of two plastic adhesive Door Guards that were pealing off.
2) There are no Wheel Locks for the tires.
3) The original invoice of the car reveals it already had a Theft Protection System installed in 2015.
4) It is doubtful that air in the tires of the car were deflated just to put in Nitrogen. It is more likely Nitrogen was already inflated in the tires in 2015.
5) It is evident that a dealership that does not do simple tasks, such as placing wheel locks on the tires and checking and replacing damaged door guards, would undoubtedly not provide Paint, Fabric and Vinyl Protection for the car either.

Finally, when I buy new or used cars, I receive two sets of keys for the automobile. The salesman told me: “We really don’t have control over trades that we take in and if the customer provides us with a second key.” I was then told by the service department that I would be charged $400+ for a second key.

Unfortunately, what I have experienced doing business with Gerald Kia/Subaru of Naperville is that this multi-million dollar company seems unethical and dishonest, and that I also made a serious mistake buying a car from Gerald Kia/Subaru of Naperville.


Glen Brown 


P.S.

On May 24, I received a full refund check for the Gerald Protection Plan after meeting with the General Sales Manager. I also received a second key, free of charge. 



Monday, May 20, 2019

You're such stupid gits!




“The Tory Government has outdone itself when it comes to neglecting animal rights this week – by effectively declaring that all animals (apart from humans, of course) have no emotions or feelings, including the ability to feel pain. While debating the Brexit bill, MPs voted not to transfer into UK law the parts of EU legislation which recognise animals have sentience, and can feel pain and emotions. 
Remember all that campaigning against the badger cull and May’s attempt to bring back fox-hunting? It was probably all a waste. As the Government begins to shape the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, it has taken a vote to scrap EU legislation that sees non-human animals as sentient beings. Once we leave the EU in 2019, it’s not only badgers and foxes that will be threatened by this change in law, but all animals that aren’t pets. So basically all animals that it will be profitable to exploit.
“This vote comes in contrast to extensive scientific evidence that shows that other animals do have feelings and emotions, some even stronger than ours.

“But politicians clearly think that they know better about animal brains than the majority of scientists on the planet. This complete lack of logic leads me to believe that many of our MPs probably have less intelligence than a jellyfish. But unfortunately I don’t have any stake in Parliament to vote through my personal opinions, unlike those MPs…”




Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Magnificent Seven Returns



“Angels don’t look pretty. However, these angels save countless animal lives all over the country. Through their organization, Rescue Ink, their main goal is to save as many animals as possible. They investigate cases of animal abuse, save pets from their violent owners, and help the animals to find new homes.

“Rescue Ink is a non-profit organization that fights for animal rights. The team members are bikers, bodybuilders, former military personnel, police detectives, and even lawyers.

“They stated: ‘Some people like to think of us as superheroes. The truth is, we are super animal lovers. Through the years, and through many caseloads, obstacles, and downright challenges, we remain strong and dedicated to our mission.’

“They have made agreements with animal shelters and public organizations, and they have cooperated with the authorities to reduce and stop animal abuse. Thus far, many people and even famous artists have joined their cause. They have managed to offer a better life for a lot of animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and even fish. When these heroes are not saving animals, they are teaching children to be kind and loving…”




Saturday, May 18, 2019

ROBERT MUELLER'S EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TO VOLUME II [Obstruction of Justice Inquiry, pgs. 215-220]




Our obstruction-of-justice inquiry focused on a series of actions by the President that related to the Russian-interference investigations, including the President's conduct towards the law enforcement officials overseeing the investigations and the witnesses to relevant events.

FACTUAL RESULTS OF THE OBSTRUCTION INVESTIGATION
The key issues and events we examined include the following: The Campaign's response to reports about Russian support for Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, questions arose about the Russian government's apparent support for candidate Trump. After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia, Trump publicly expressed skepticism that Russia was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately sought information about any further planned WikiLeaks releases. 

Trump also denied having any business in or connections to Russia, even though as late as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow. After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia's election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.

Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn.

In mid-January 2017, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn falsely denied to the Vice President, other administration officials, and FBI agents that he had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Russia's response to U.S. sanctions on Russia for its election interference. On January 27, the day after the President was told that Flynn had lied to the Vice President and had made similar statements to the FBI, the President invited FBI Director Comey to a private dinner at the White House and told Comey that he needed loyalty. On February 14, the day after the President requested Flynn's resignation, the President told an outside advisor, "Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over." The advisor disagreed and said the investigations would continue.

Later that afternoon, the President cleared the Oval Office to have a one-on-one meeting with Comey. Referring to the FBI's investigation of Flynn, the President said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." Shortly after requesting Flynn's resignation and speaking privately to Comey, the President sought to have Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland draft an internal letter stating that the President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak. McFarland declined because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel's Office attorney thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered.

The President's reaction to the continuing Russia investigation.

In February 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began to assess whether he had to recuse himself from campaign related investigations because of his role in the Trump Campaign. In early March, the President told White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing. And after Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at the decision and told advisors that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him. That weekend, the President took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to "unrecuse." Later in March, Comey publicly disclosed at a congressional hearing that the FBI was investigating "the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," including any links or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.

In the following days, the President reached out to the Director of National Intelligence and the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) to ask them what they could do to publicly dispel the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort. The President also twice called Comey directly, notwithstanding guidance from McGahn to avoid direct contacts with the Department of Justice. Comey had previously assured the President that the FBI was not investigating him personally, and the President asked Comey to "lift the cloud" of the Russia investigation by saying that publicly.

The President's termination of Comey. On May 3, 2017, Comey testified in a congressional hearing, but declined to answer questions about whether the President was personally under investigation. Within days, the President decided to terminate Comey. The President insisted that the termination letter, which was written for public release, state that Comey had informed the President that he was not under investigation. The day of the firing, the White House maintained that Comey's termination resulted from independent recommendations from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General that Comey should be discharged for mishandling the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But the President had decided to fire Comey before hearing from the Department of Justice.

The day after firing Comey, the President told Russian officials that he had "faced great pressure because of Russia," which had been "taken off' by Comey's firing. The next day, the President acknowledged in a television interview that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the Department of Justice's recommendation and that when he "decided to just do it," he was thinking that "this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story." In response to a question about whether he was angry with Comey about the Russia investigation, the President said, "As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly," adding that firing Comey "might even lengthen out the investigation."

The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him.

On May 17, 2017, the Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation appointed a Special Counsel to conduct the investigation and related matters. The President reacted to news that a Special Counsel had been appointed by telling advisors that it was "the end of his presidency" and demanding that Sessions resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, but the President ultimately did not accept it. The President told aides that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and suggested that the Special Counsel therefore could not serve. The President's advisors told him the asserted conflicts were meritless and had already been considered by the Department of Justice.

On June 14, 2017, the media reported that the Special Counsel's Office was investigating whether the President had obstructed justice. Press reports called this "a major turning point" in the investigation: while Comey had told the President he was not under investigation, following Comey's firing, the President now was under investigation. The President reacted to this news with a series of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel's investigation. On June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.

Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel's investigation.

Two days after directing McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation. On June 19, 2017, the President met one-on-one in the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a trusted advisor outside the government, and dictated a message for Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions. The message said that Sessions should publicly announce that, notwithstanding his recusal from the Russia investigation, the investigation was "very unfair" to the President, the President had done nothing wrong, and Sessions planned to meet with the Special Counsel and "let [him] move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections." Lewandowski said he understood what the President wanted Sessions to do.

One month later, in another private meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President asked about the status of his message for Sessions to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference. Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon. Hours after that meeting, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an interview with the New York Times, and then issued a series of tweets making it clear that Sessions' job was in jeopardy. Lewandowski did not want to deliver the President's message personally, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver it to Sessions. Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.

Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence.

In the summer of 2017, the President learned that media outlets were asking questions about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." On several occasions, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with "an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign" and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the President's involvement in Trump Jr.' s statement, the President's personal lawyer repeatedly denied the President had played any role.

Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation.

In early summer 2017, the President called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions did not reverse his recusal. In October 2017, the President met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office and asked him to "take [a] look" at investigating Clinton. In December 2017, shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement, the President met with Sessions in the Oval Office and suggested, according to notes taken by a senior advisor, that if Sessions is unrecused and took back supervision of the Russia investigation, he would be a "hero." The President told Sessions, "I'm not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly." In response, Sessions volunteered that he had never seen anything " improper" on the campaign and told the President there was a "whole new leadership team" in place. He did not unrecuse.

Efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed.

In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate in stating that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed. The President then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the reports. In the same meeting, the President also asked McGahn why he had told the Special Counsel about the President's effort to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversations with the President. McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle.

Conduct towards Flynn, Manafort…

After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President's personal counsel left a message for Flynn's attorneys reminding them of the President's warm feelings towards Flynn, which he said "still remains," and asking for a "heads up" if Flynn knew "information that implicates the President." When Flynn's counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the President's personal counsel said he would make sure that the President knew that Flynn's actions reflected "hostility" towards the President. During Manafort's prosecution and when the jury in his criminal trial was deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort "a brave man" for refusing to "break" and said that "flipping " "almost ought to be outlawed.

Conduct involving Michael Cohen.

The President' s conduct towards Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized the President's involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when he became a cooperating witness. From September 2015 to June 2016, Cohen had pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project on behalf of the Trump Organization and had briefed candidate Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal.

In 2017, Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the project, including stating that he had only briefed Trump on the project three times and never discussed travel to Russia with him, in an effort to adhere to a "party line" that Cohen said was developed to minimize the President's connections to Russia. While preparing for his congressional testimony, Cohen had extensive discussions with the President's personal counsel, who, according to Cohen, said that Cohen should "stay on message" and not contradict the President.

After the FBI searched Cohen's home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not "flip," contacted him directly to tell him to "stay strong," and privately passed messages of support to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President's personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message, he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a "rat," and suggested that his family members had committed crimes.

Overarching factual issues.

We did not make a traditional prosecution decision about these facts, but the evidence we obtained supports several general statements about the President's conduct.

Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-of-justice cases. First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises constitutional issues discussed below. At the same time, the President's position as the head of the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses-all of which is relevant to a potential obstruction-of-justice analysis.

Second, unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference. Although the obstruction statutes do not require proof of such a crime, the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of the President's intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct.

Third, many of the President's acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view. That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system's integrity is the same.

Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of the President's conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President's acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent.

In particular, the actions we investigated can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President's motives. The first phase covered the period from the President's first interactions with Comey through the President's firing of Comey. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally under investigation. Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry.

At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Judgments about the nature of the President's motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.

STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEFENSES

The President's counsel raised statutory and constitutional defenses to a possible obstruction-of-justice analysis of the conduct we investigated. We concluded that none of those legal defenses provided a basis for declining to investigate the facts.

Statutory defenses.

Consistent with precedent and the Department of Justice's general approach to interpreting obstruction statutes, we concluded that several statutes could apply here. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1512(b)(3), 1512(c)(2). Section 1512(c)(2) is an omnibus obstruction-of-justice provision that covers a range of obstructive acts directed at pending or contemplated official proceedings. No principle of statutory construction justifies narrowing the provision to cover only conduct that impairs the integrity or availability of evidence. Sections 1503 and 1505 also offer broad protection against obstructive acts directed at pending grand jury, judicial, administrative, and congressional proceedings, and they are supplemented by a provision in Section 1512(6) aimed specifically at conduct intended to prevent or hinder the communication to law enforcement of information related to a federal crime.

Constitutional defenses.

As for constitutional defenses arising from the President's status as the head of the Executive Branch, we recognized that the Department of Justice and the courts have not. definitively resolved these issues. We therefore examined those issues through the framework established by Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues. The Department of Justice and the President's personal counsel have recognized that the President is subject to statutes that prohibit obstruction of justice by bribing a witness or suborning perjury because that conduct does not implicate his constitutional authority.

With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.

Under applicable Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice through the use of his Article II powers. The separation-of-powers doctrine authorizes Congress to protect official proceedings, including those of courts and grand juries, from corrupt, obstructive acts regard less of their source.

We also concluded that any inroad on presidential authority that would occur from prohibiting corrupt acts does not undermine the President's ability to fulfill his constitutional mission. The term "corruptly" sets a demanding standard. It requires a concrete showing that a person acted with an intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others.

A preclusion of "corrupt" official action does not diminish the President's ability to exercise Article II powers. For example, the proper supervision of criminal law does not demand freedom for the President to act with a corrupt intention of shielding himself from criminal punishment, avoiding financial liability, or preventing personal embarrassment. To the contrary, a statute that prohibits official action undertaken for such corrupt purposes furthers, rather than hinders, the impartial and evenhanded administration of the law. It also aligns with the President's constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.

Finally, we concluded that in the rare case in which a criminal investigation of the President's conduct is justified, inquiries to determine whether the President acted for a corrupt motive should not impermissibly chill his performance of his constitutionally assigned duties. The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.

CONCLUSION

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.

Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him...




Friday, May 17, 2019

"We the public, we the people, developed this drug, we paid for this drug. There's no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it”-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez




“During a House hearing on Thursday [May 16], Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the CEO of one of America's largest pharmaceutical companies a simple but crucial question: ‘Why does a life-saving HIV drug that costs $8 a month in Australia have a $2,000 price tag in the U.S.?’

“Gilead chief executive Daniel O'Day declined to comment on the low price of Truvada for PrEP in Australia, but said the reason the cost is close to $2,000—'the current list price is $1,780,’ he said—in the United States is because the drug has ‘patent protection.’

“As the Washington Post reported in March, the development of Truvada as a treatment for HIV was ‘almost fully funded by U.S. taxpayers.’

“The U.S. government patented the treatment in 2015, according to the Post, but has ‘opted not to file an infringement suit to enforce’ the patent even as Gilead—which argues the government patent is invalid—rakes in billions of dollars in profits from Truvada.

“Ocasio-Cortez highlighted these facts during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Thursday.

“‘I think it's important that we notice here that we the public, we the people, developed this drug, we paid for this drug, we led and developed all of the grounding patents to create PrEP, and then that patent has been privatized despite the fact that that patent is owned by the public,’ said Ocasio-Cortez. ‘We refuse to enforce it.’

“‘There's no reason this should be $2,000 a month,’ Ocasio-Cortez added. ‘People are dying because of it. We own the intellectual property for it. People are dying for no reason. For no reason. We developed this drug.’


“In a tweet following Thursday's hearing, Ocasio Cortez answered her own question on why Truvada's price is $8 in Australia. ‘Spoiler: Because Australia has universal healthcare,’ wrote the New York congresswoman.

“‘The reason the United States hasn't joined the rest of the industrialized world in establishing a universal healthcare system is not individual drug company executives like O'Day,’ said Ocasio-Cortez.

“‘I don't blame you. I blame us. I blame this body,’ Ocasio-Cortez said during the hearing. Because every single developed country in the world guarantees healthcare as a right except us. Except the United States. Because we can't get it together. Because we don't have the fortitude to kick pharmaceutical lobbyists [out of] our congressional offices.’”

Commondreams.org



Friday, May 10, 2019

American Democracy and Contradictory Perceptions




“…Our research has led us to several conclusions about the future of political discourse in the U.S. The first is that dueling fact perceptions are rampant, and they are more entrenched than most people realize.
“Some examples of this include conflicting perceptions about the existence of climate change, the strength of the economy, the consequences of racism, the origins of sexual orientation, the utility of minimum wage increases or gun control, the crime rate and the safety of vaccines.
“This has serious implications for American democracy. As political scientists, we wonder: How can a community decide the direction they should go, if they cannot even agree on where they are? Can people holding dueling facts be brought into some semblance of consensus?
“To figure that out, it is important to determine where such divergent beliefs come from in the first place. This is the perspective we began with: If dueling fact perceptions are driven by misinformation from politicians and pundits, then one would expect things to get better by making sure that people have access to correct information – via fact-checking, for example.
“We envisioned the dueling facts phenomenon as being primarily tribal, driven by cheer leading on each side for their partisan ‘teams.’ We assumed, like most other scholars, that individuals are simply led astray by their team’s coaches (party leaders), star players (media pundits) or fellow fans (social media feeds). But it turns out that the roots of such divergent views go much deeper.
“Dueling facts: Climate change was referred to on an Obama administration EPA page, left; it was excluded on the Trump administration’s version of the page. EPA vis AP We found that voters see the world in ways that reinforce their values and identities, irrespective of whether they have ever watched Fox News or MSNBC, and regardless of whether they have a Facebook account.
“For example, according to our data from five years of national surveys from 2013 to 2017, the most important predictor of whether a person views racism as highly prevalent and influential is not her partisan identification. It is not her general ideological outlook. It is not the amount or type of media that she consumes. It is not even her own race. It is the degree to which she prioritizes compassion as a public virtue, relative to other things like rugged individualism.
“Values not only shape what people see, but they also structure what people look for in the first place. We call this ‘intuitive epistemology.’ Those who care about oppression look for oppression, so they find it. Those who care about security look for threats to it, and they find them. In other words, people do not end up with the same answers because they do not begin with the same questions.
“For example, the perception that vaccines cause autism – against all available empirical evidence – is now shared equally by Democrats and Republicans. Partisanship cannot account for this dueling fact perception.
“But when we looked at the role of core values and their associated questions, we found the strongest predictor. If someone we surveyed ranked this question highly, ‘Does it appear that people are committing indecent acts or degrading something sacred?’ They were by far the most likely to believe that vaccines are dangerous.
“Partisan identity, on the other hand, has no relationship at all with those beliefs. Because the starting points for different groups of citizens are deeply polarized, so are their ending points. And the starting points are often values rather than parties.
“The stronger those commitments to their values are, the stronger the effects. Those with extreme value commitments are much more certain than others that their perceptions are correct.
“Perhaps the most disappointing finding from our studies – at least from our point of view – is that there are no known fixes to this problem. Fact-checking tends to fall flat. The voters who need to hear corrections rarely read fact-checks. And for those who might stumble across them, reports from distant and distrusted experts are no match for closely held values and defining identities.
“Education is the another possible means of encouraging consensus perceptions, but it actually makes things worse. Rather than training people how to think more reasonably, college and graduate school merely sharpen the lenses graduates use to perceive reality. In our data, those with higher levels of education are more, not less, divided.
“And the higher the level of training, the more tightly values and perceptions intertwine. Education provides the tools to more efficiently match their preferred values to their perceived facts. Based on this evidence, we conclude that dueling fact perceptions (or what some have labeled ‘alternative facts’) are probably here to stay, and worsen.
“We suspect that the Mueller report would have been rejected by roughly half the country, even if its conclusions had been definitive. But with key phrases like ‘Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’ the report’s indecisiveness reinforces how difficult it can be to really know the ‘truth’ about a lot of things.
“If a respected prosecutor like Robert Mueller can’t offer a firm conclusion after two years of document dumps and interviews, what are the rest of us to do? As with so many other things, people will go with their guts, using their heads to feel better about the choices they have already made.
“Our conclusions are much more definitive than Mueller’s: We see clear evidence of collusion and obstruction. Collusion between values and facts. Obstruction of the capacity to observe and accept legitimate evidence.
“So for the past couple of weeks, the chorus of ‘I told you so!’ has rung out from the country’s Blue coastlines and from every Red mile of heartland in-between. And with that, the U.S. continues to inch ever closer to a public square in which consensus perceptions are unavailable and facts are irrelevant.”

David C. Barker is Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University School of Public Affairs; and Morgan Marietta is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell.




Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Kendrick Castillo: "He was extraordinary"




(CNN)After a classmate pulled out a gun in class, Kendrick Castillo couldn't just stay still. He was surrounded by the friends he considered family and they were all in danger.
Kendrick died when he lunged at the shooter, giving other students at STEM School Highlands Ranch enough time to hide, his family and a classmate said.

"I know that because of what he did, others are alive, and I thank God for that. I love him. And he is a hero and he always will be," his dad, John Castillo, said.

"He just loved people that much."

The 18-year-old was watching "The Princess Bride" in his British literature class when the shooter pulled out a gun, demanding that nobody moved. After Kendrick lunged at the shooter, three other students also tackled the gunman and tried to subdue him while the rest of the class fled the room.

Kendrick was an only child, but his friends, including the members of the school's robotics team, were like his siblings, his father said. They would host holiday gift exchanges at his home, shared his toys as a child and would pay for a friend's movie tickets if someone didn't have money.

"Be selfless, that's what my son was, and it got him killed, but he saved others," Castillo said.

Kendrick grew up speaking English and Spanish in suburban Denver and first attended Catholic school. He would also spend time fishing and camping with his late grandfather -- who had been in the Marines.

"Kendrick was proud of him, proud that his grandfather was a hero," Castillo said. "Part of me knows that Kendrick wanted to live that legacy."

The teenager had kept the flag that once draped his grandfather's casket close to him and would pray and kiss his tombstone at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

"He loved the patriotism," Castillo said. "We are Hispanic by nature but we love America to the core."

Castillo and his wife Maria were not surprised to learn that their son ran toward danger. They raised him to be responsible and "to be good."

"This wasn't your average kid," Castillo said. "He was extraordinary."

Kendrick was about a foot away from the shooter and he immediately sprang into action, said Brendan Bialy, one of other students who jumped the gunman.

"Kendrick Castillo died a legend. He died a trooper," Bialy said. "I know he will be with me for the rest of my life."

After Bialy was able to move the gun away from the shooter, he checked on Kendrick and tried to get him to talk, but he wasn't moving. He recalls helping a teacher who came into the room and tried to render medical aid.

Other students had tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to Kendrick's chest, Brendan's father told The New York Times.

"I refused to be a victim. Kendrick refused to be a victim. The other students refused to be a victim," he said.

They did exactly what they were supposed to do, according to experts. Where people were once advised to flee or shelter in place, the new mantra for surviving an active shooter situation is "run, hide, fight."

Shortly after the shooting, Castillo and his wife Maria were frantically trying to reach Kendrick on his cell phone. They initially thought their son might have been injured, but grew more concerned when he would not pick up their texts and calls.

"I was a little bit guilty, because as I was trying to call him, I thought, well, maybe this is the wrong thing? Maybe I am putting his life in jeopardy by having the phone ring," Castillo said. "My anxiety and the lump in my chest were growing."

One of Kendrick's friends sent Castillo a text saying Kendrick had rushed toward the shooter, but at the time, he didn't know what to think about it. They watched as other students exited the yellow school buses and reunited with their parents, "and we didn't have that," Castillo said.

"I couldn't believe this was happening to my son," Castillo said.

The couple learned Kendrick was killed when they went to the hospital looking for him and officials told them his body was still inside the classroom. As they waited to see their son, students would come up to them calling their son a hero.

As Castillo and his wife mourn their son, he said they wish for Kendrick's classmates to heal, go to college, get married and start their own families surrounded by love.