Posts tagged with "Military"

Putin praises Trump’s precipitous decision to extract U.S. troops from Syria

December 21, 2018

“Dah.” Russian President Vladimir Putin certainly is no “yes-man,” so President Trump had to be pleased when news emerged from the Kremlin this week that he approved of the U.S. leader’s decision to “immediately” withdraw troops from Syria.

Trump made the unanticipated announcement on Twitter on December 19: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

Neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor the Senate’s Armed Services Committee knew of the decision—nor had the State Department, the National Security Council, the nation’s allies, or even the White House Press Office been informed of the move.

According to a report by The Washington Post, Putin told journalists at his annual year-end news conference that the Islamic State had suffered “serious blows” in Syria.

“On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Putin said. 

But Putin, along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Iran, may be among the few who support the move.

The Post reports that analysts say the militant group remains a deadly force. Russia —which remains Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally—turned the tide of the civil war in Assad’s favor in 2015 and has maintained its military presence there.

The United States and many of its allies denounced Russia’s military intervention in Syria. But Trump’s withdrawal is viewed by many —including some Republican Trump backers — as an indirect boost for Moscow and its status as the main foreign power in Syria.

Putin said the U.S. troop deployment to Syria had been illegitimate because neither Assad’s government nor the United Nations had approved the U.S. mission.

“If the United States decided to withdraw its force, then this would be right,” Putin said.

Russia has been negotiating a political settlement to the civil war in Syria with Assad, neighboring Turkey, and Russia’s ally Iran. The presence of U.S. troops was not helpful for achieving such a settlement, Putin said.

Putin, however, said nothing about the future of Russia’s extensive military presence in Syria, which includes a Mediterranean port used by Russian warships, according to the Post.

Research contact: anton.troianovski@washpost.com

Florida recount: Judge defeats efforts to ‘throw shade’ at 4,000 Sunshine State voters

November 16, 2018

Efforts in The Sunshine State to “throw some shade” on voters who sent their ballots through the mail—many of them, members of the military—or who cast their ballots provisionally, or with questionable signatures, were defeated by Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court of Tallahassee on November 15, the Washington Post reported.

Deprive The decision to provide two more days to count at least 4,000 more ballots came hours ahead of the Thursday afternoon deadline for elections officials to complete a machine recount—against which President Donald Trump and Florida’s Republican candidates already had been chafing.

Indeed, Trump tweeted early on November 12 that the races should be called immediately: “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott [running against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate] and Ron DeSantis [running against Tallahassee Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum for Florida governor] in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible—ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

It was not clear how the judge’s decision would affect the timing of the recount, which was expected to move to a manual canvass today in the too-close-to-call Senate race, in which Scott leads Nelson by fewer than 13,000 votes (0.15 percentage points).

Unofficial results in the gubernatorial race showed Republican former Congressman Ron DeSantis leading Andrew Gillum by nearly 34,000 votes—or roughly 0.4 percentage points.

According to the Post, while the ruling gave Nelson an opportunity to close the numbers gap, it fell short of the more sweeping decision his lawyers sought. In a blow to the campaign, Judge Walker declined Nelson’s request to count all ballots with mismatched signatures, sight unseen.

But, in his ruling, Judge Walker was very clear about the “irreparable injury” that had been inflicted on the constitutional rights of citizens “to cast their ballots and have them counted.”

He noted, “the precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures–with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection—passes constitutional muster. The answer is simple. It does not.”

Specifically, the Post reported, Judge Walker noted that while the deadline to submit a mail-in ballot was 7 p.m. Election Day, the deadline to “cure” a mismatched signature was 5 p.m. Monday, the day before — meaning those voters not notified, or notified too late, had no recourse.

In his ruling, Walker said the plaintiffs, the Florida Democratic Party and the Nelson campaign, had established “irreparable injury” to the constitutional right of citizens “to cast their ballots and have them counted.” Specifically, Walker noted that while the deadline to submit a mail-in ballot was 7 p.m. Election Day, the deadline to “cure” a mismatched signature was 5 p.m. Monday, the day before — meaning those voters not notified, or notified too late, had no recourse.

State law requires canvassing boards to notify voters “immediately” if they determine that a mail-in ballot contains a signature inconsistent with the one on file.

“Here, potentially thousands of voters have been deprived of the right to cast a legal vote — and have that vote counted — by an untrained canvassing board member based on an arbitrary determination that their respective signatures did not match,” wrote the judge “Such a violation of the right to vote cannot be undone.”

He concluded, “This Court … is NOT ordering county canvassing boards to count every mismatched vote, sight unseen. Rather, the county supervisors are directed to allow those voters who should have had an opportunity to cure their ballots in the first place to cure their votes-by-mail and provisional ballots now,” he wrote.

Marc Elias, Nelson’s lead recount attorney, praised the ruling. “We look forward to ensuring that those voters who cast lawful ballots have them counted,” he said in an email to the DC-based news outlet.

Scott’s campaign said it was appealing the decision. “We are confident we will prevail,” said campaign spokesperson Lauren Schenone in a statement.

As recounts continue, the Post pointed out that the stakes are high: The Florida Senate race will determine the size of the GOP’s majority in 2019 and shape the power structure in the nation’s largest swing state. Together, the two sides have racked up at least 10 lawsuits trying to gain a legal advantage in the recount.

Research contact: @WaPoSean

Singled out: Why unmarried people are stigmatized in our society

September 13, 2018

Are people who remain single likely to be unappealing loners, who are arrogant, antagonistic, or inflexible?  At one time or another, every person who is unattached has felt the stigma or heard the whispers.

Alternatively, those with close relationships or life partners are apt to say that stereotyping of—and discrimination against —singles in our society does not even exist. A different version of the objection concedes that there are ways in which single people are viewed and treated more negatively than married people, but insists that those instances are so inconsequential that they should simply be ignored.

After all, there are other “isms” that are far more serious than “singlism”—the label given to this form of bigotry by social psychologist, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., who is the author of  the book Singled Out (published by St. Martin’s Press).

She points out, “In many important ways, singles are simply not in the same category as the most brutally stigmatized groups. So far as I know, no persons have ever been dragged to their death at the back of a pick-up truck simply because they were single. There are no “marrieds only” drinkingfountains and there never were. The pity that singles put up with is just not in the same league as the outright hatred conveyed to blacks by shameless racists or the unbridled disgust heaped upon gay men or lesbians by homophobes.”

And singles are by no means a minority: More than 40% of the nation’s adults—over 87 million people—are divorced, widowed, or have always been single.  There are more households of single people living alone than of married parents and their children

And yet, singlism can be quite serious, Dr. De Paulo says in the an article posted on September 9 on the site of Psychology Today.. It can be dangerous, and even deadly.

In part because of laws, policies, and practices that favor married people and couples over single people, the costs of living single can be staggering, she points out. For example, married people, with all their opportunities to draw from their spouse’s benefits, can get far more out of Social Security than single people do. Housing costs, healthcare costs, and taxes are higher for single people. According to one estimate, just those four categories alone can cost single women, over the course of their working lives, over a $1 million more than what married women pay.

In many other ways, too, the price of single life is high. Married men, for example, get paid more than single men. In a study of identical twins, the married twin got paid an average of 26% more. That will cost the single man with a $50,000 salary more than $500,000  over the course of his working life.

In everyday life, single people are penalized financially at every turn. They often pay more per person than married people do for products and services such as car insurance, home insurance, memberships, transportation, travel packages, and even wills.

But even when single people have great health insurance, and access to the finest doctors, they still do not always get the finest care. A single woman told Dr. DePaulo, “When I was 25, I was suffering from severe menstrual problems … to the point where I asked for a hysterectomy. I was refused because I was single and ‘might want to have kids someday.’ So I suffered … for 20 more years.”

Do men respect single women’s bodies and their dignity less than those of married women? In the workplace, the author claims, both single and married women experience sexual harassment—but single women experience it more. In a 2017 Suffolk University survey, 42% of women who had always been single said that a co-worker had made unwanted sexual advances, compared to 30% of married women.

In some businesses, single people are expected to stay later, or cover weekends, holidays, vacation times, or travel assignments that no one else wants, on the assumption that they don’t have anyone and they don’t have a life. When it comes to relocating employees or laying them off, employers sometimes look first to single people—not recognizing that many have roots where they are and do not have a spouse’s income to fall back on if they lose theirs.

“Elsewhere, I … have documented singlism in religionbusiness, advertisingresearch and teachingtherapy, the military, and popular culture,” DePaulo says, adding, “Single parents and their childrenare also a great big target of singlism that is sometimes mean-spirited as well as ill-informed.”

If you still think that singlism just doesn’t matter, and no one should take it seriously, let’s imagine that the tables were turned. Let’s say that all the ways in which single people are stereotyped, stigmatized, marginalized, and discriminated against happened to married people instead. Do you think married people would just shrug it off?

On the first page of her book, Dr. DePaulo imagines a world in which married people get the singles treatment:

  • When you tell people you are married, they tilt their heads and say things like “Aaaawww” or “Don’t worry honey, your turn to divorce will come.”
  • Every time you get married, you feel obligated to give expensive presents to single people.
  • When you travel with your spouse, you each have to pay more than when you travel alone.
  • At work, the single people just assume that you can cover the holidays and all the other inconvenient assignments; they figure that as a married person, you don’t have anything better to do.
  • Single employees can add another adult to their health care plan; you can’t.
  • When your single co-workers die, they can leave their Social Security benefits to the person who is most important to them; you are not allowed to leave yours to anyone—they just go back into the system.
  • Candidates for public office boast about how much they value single people. Some even propose spending more than a billion dollars in federal funding to convince people to stay single, or to get divorced if they already made the mistake of marrying.

If that world existed, it would not last long.

All serious forms of prejudice and discrimination go through a similar process of going unrecognized, then getting dismissed and belittled once people start pointing them out, and in the best cases, eventually getting taken seriously, she points out in her article in Psychology Today.

Dr, DePaulo concludes, “One of the problems is that these matters are not just about the facts and all the ways that racism and sexism and singlism and all the other ‘isms’can be documented with data. They are also about emotions and ideologies and people’s beliefs about the place they think they deserve in the world. I think there will be progress in getting singlism taken seriously, but it may be slow and unsteady, with setbacks as well as advances.”

Research contact: @belladepaulo