Canada’s Justin Trudeau Moves to Limit Handgun Sales!

Canada introduces new legislation to 'freeze' handgun ownership | Gun  Violence News | Al Jazeera

Dear Commons Community,

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation yesterday that would put a freeze on importing, buying or selling handguns.

“We are capping the number of handguns in this country,” Trudeau said.

The regulations to halt the growth of personally owned handguns is expected to be enacted this fall.

“It will be illegal to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” the prime minister said. Families of shooting victims joined him at a press conference in Ottawa.  As reported by the Associated Press.

Canada already has plans to ban 1,500 types of military-style firearms and offer a mandatory buyback program that will begin at the end of the year. Trudeau said if someone really wants to keep their assault weapon it will be made completely inoperable.

Canada already expanded background checks.

Trudeau has long had plans to enact tougher gun laws but the introduction of the new measure comes after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., this month.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino called the legislation the most significant step Canada has taken in a generation.

“Countries that do a good job of controlling guns do a good job of controlling gun violence,” Mendicino said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said Canada is very different from the United States.

“In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege not a right,” Blair said. “This is a principal that differentiates ourselves from many other countries in the world, notably our colleagues and friends to the south.”

Canada has had far fewer mass shootings than the U.S. in part because of a lack of easy access to guns, though the U.S. population also is far larger than Canada’s.

Blair noted guns are often smuggled in illegally from the U.S., which he noted has one of the largest small arms arsenals in the world.

The government plans to fight gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, providing more tools to investigate firearms crimes and strengthening border measures. Trudeau said increased funding already helped border officials double the amount of smuggled guns confiscated at the U.S. border.

The government also said the bill would also allow for the removal of gun licenses from people involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.

The bill would create a new “red flag” law allowing courts to require that people considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to police. The government said the measure would guard the safety of those applying through the process, often women in danger of domestic abuse, by protecting their identities.

The government said it will require rifle magazines to be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds and will ban the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines under the Criminal Code.

“Canada can teach us a lot,” tweeted Bruce Heyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada under the Obama administration.

Trudeau said his government recognizes the vast majority of Canadians who own guns are responsible but the level of gun violence is unacceptable. Mendicino said they are aware the announcement could lead to a rush to buy guns before the law is enacted and urged Parliament to pass it as soon as possible.

The new measures are assured of passing in Canada’s Parliament as the ruling Liberals and leftist opposition New Democrats have enough votes.

“Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives,” Trudeau said. “We need less gun violence.

“We cannot let the gun debate became so polarized that nothing gets done. We cannot let that happen in our country. This is about freedom. People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear.”

Trudeau has it right!


Michelle Goldberg: America May Be Broken Beyond Repair!


Guns on display during an annual NRA convention in Texas

Dear Commons Community,

Michelle Goldberg had an article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled, “America May Be Broken Beyond Repair.” Goldberg assesses the political climate in our country and its inability to pass any significant gun legislation in the wake of the Uvalde tragedy.  She comments that Republicans have no intention of letting Democrats pass even modest measures like strengthened background checks, and as long as the Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refuse to amend the filibuster, Republicans retain a veto over national policy. Victims of our increasingly frequent mass shootings are collateral damage in a cold civil war, though some Democrats refuse to acknowledge it, let alone fight it.

She quotes a Republican state representative from Florida to make her point;

“These days, it’s barely remarkable when Republicans issue what sound like threats against those who’d dare curtail their private arsenals. “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our president — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place,” Randy Fine, a state representative in Florida, tweeted on Wednesday.

Her sober conclusion is:  “The real nightmare is not that the repetition of nihilist terrorism brings American politics to an inflection point, but that it doesn’t. The nightmare is that we simply stumble on, helpless as things keep getting worse.”

I hope she is wrong!

Below is an extended excerpt.



“It will be impossible to do anything about guns in this country, at least at a national level, as long as Democrats depend on the cooperation of a party that holds in reserve the possibility of insurrection. The slaughter of children in Texas has done little to alter this dynamic…

…Fine’s words echoed Donald Trump’s during the 2016 election, when he said that “Second Amendment people” might be able to stop a President Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices. What was once a barely concealed insinuation of violence has morphed, especially since Jan. 6, into an even more forthright menace. As ProPublica has reported, dozens of members of the Oath Keepers militia were arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from “evolving into a force within the Republican Party.”

In Shasta County, a conservative part of rural Northern California, a militia-aligned faction has secured a majority on the board of supervisors, in what members of the movement see as a blueprint that can be deployed nationally. Throughout the country, reported The New York Times, “right-wing Republicans are talking more openly and frequently about the use of force as justifiable in opposition to those who dislodged him” — meaning Trump — “from power.” Expecting those same Republicans to collaborate with Democrats on public safety is madness.

The horrifying irony, the hideous ratchet, is that the more America is besieged by senseless violence, the more the paramilitary wing of the American right is strengthened. Gun sales tend to rise after mass shootings. Republicans responded to the massacre in Uvalde by doubling down on calls to arm teachers and “harden” schools. An article in The Federalist argued that parents must home-school so that kids can learn “in a controlled environment where guns can be safely carried for self-defense or locked away when not in use.” It’s a vision of a society — if you can call it that — where every family is a fortress.

Guns are now the leading cause of death for American children. Many conservatives consider this a price worth paying for their version of freedom. Our institutions give these conservatives disproportionate power whether or not they win elections. The filibuster renders the Senate largely impotent. Trump, a president who lost the popular vote, was able to appoint Supreme Court justices who are poised to help overturn a New York state law restricting the carrying of concealed weapons. It’s increasingly hard to see a path to small-d democratic reform.

And so among liberals, there’s an overwhelming feeling of despair. Even as people learn the names of all those murdered children, the most common sentiment is not “never again,” but a bitter acknowledgment that nothing is going to change. America is too sick, too broken. It is perhaps beyond repair.

Two years ago, David French, an anti-Trump conservative, published a book, “Divided We Fall,” warning of the possible crackup of the United States. It included two chapters imagining scenarios for how the dissolution of the country might happen. One involved a mass shooting at a school in California, to which the state’s people reacted “with white-hot rage.” French envisioned furious state politicians defying the Second Amendment, leading to a nullification crisis and blue-state secession.

He meant it as a cautionary tale, but rereading the chapter after Uvalde, it feels less bleak than our reality. In French’s scenario, atrocity has the effect of energizing people rather than immobilizing them. They are determined to fight, not resigned to defeat. They have audacity and hope.

The real nightmare is not that the repetition of nihilist terrorism brings American politics to an inflection point, but that it doesn’t. The nightmare is that we simply stumble on, helpless as things keep getting worse.”


Maureen Dowd on How America Sacrifices Our Children!


What we know about the Uvalde, Texas, shooting victims | CBC News

Uvalde Human Sacrifices

Dear Commons Community,

Maureen Dowd has a column this morning entitled, “America’s Human Sacrifices,” in which she reviews the tragedy in Uvalde and our cowardice in standing up to the NRA.  Here is an excerpt.

“I  think of child sacrifice as a modern phenomenon, a barbaric one that defines this country. We are sacrificing children, not only the ones who die, but also those who watch and those who fear the future.

Children having their tomorrows taken away. Small sacrifice if we can keep our guns. Why not let every deranged loner buy an assault weapon?

America is not a mythical kingdom ruled by fickle gods or black magic. Our fate is not in the stars. It is in ourselves. It is within our power to stop schools from becoming killing fields.

We have simply decided not to do it.

The shooter in Uvalde slipped into a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School, ominously announced, “Look what we have here” and fired more than 100 rounds.

The local police did nothing to stop the human sacrifice. Nineteen officers loitered in the hall for as long as 78 minutes as children died. How can you justify keeping assault weapons on the open market when police officers don’t engage with them, even with kids’ lives on the line?

As the officers waited, not bothering to break down a barricaded door, the 19 lambs went to slaughter, trapped in a blood-soaked classroom with an 18-year-old madman. In a haunting tableau, one little girl smeared herself with her dead friend’s blood to appear dead. Meanwhile, desperate parents tried to climb over a chain-link fence to save their children. The police, doing nothing more useful, kept busy by handcuffing at least one parent trying to get into the school.

A slain teacher’s husband died of a heart attack after he took flowers to her memorial at the school. They had four kids. Who will take care of them?

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas coldly said of the massacre, the sixth mass shooting in his seven years in office, “it could have been worse.” Donald Trump, who once told me if he were elected president, he would get in his limo and drive down to the National Rifle Association and bargain with it until he could get agreement to some common-sense solutions, spoke to the N.R.A. convention in Houston Friday evening and spouted gun lobby talking points — small price for the tens of millions it spent to get him elected. What a sociopathic jellyfish. It was sacrilege for him to make it seem as though the N.R.A. cared by reading the names of the dead children and teachers, with a bell gonging after each name.

What is wrong with this country? Republicans think they’re showing their toughness by preventing curbs on guns. But it’s a huge American weakness.

When a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania in 1996, the Australian government passed such common-sense gun laws six months later that there has been only one mass shooting since. More than a million firearms were destroyed.

When an anti-Islamic extremist in Christchurch killed 51 people in two mosques in 2019, the New Zealand government banned most semiautomatic weapons 26 days later. There have been no mass shootings since.

As the inspiring New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said at the time, she could not have faced the surviving victims and told them “our system and our laws allow these guns to be available and that is OK.”

The political debates here are empty and soulless, with Democrats dodging the issue and Republicans hardening even on mild proposals like universal background checks, which has overwhelming public approval.

“Most Republicans in the Senate represent deeply conservative states where gun ownership is treated as a sacred privilege enshrined in the Constitution, a privilege not to be infringed upon no matter how much blood is spilled in classrooms and school hallways around the country,” Carl Hulse wrote in The Times.

Republicans throw up a fog of nonsensical suggestions. Before speaking to the N.R.A. Friday, Ted Cruz said schools should have only one entry point, with an armed guard. Guns don’t kill people. Doors do. During his speech at the N.R.A., Trump suggested turning schools into virtual jails and letting teachers pack pistols in class.

“Meaningful policy discussions over guns or voting or public health have left the room,” said my colleague Elizabeth Williamson, author of the new book “Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth.” “Spewing conspiracy theories and bench-clearing nonsense around mass shootings, elections and coronavirus is becoming a tribal signifier for some on the right.”

The Republicans are doing everything they can to stop women from having control over their own bodies and doing nothing to stop the carnage against kids; they may as well change the party symbol from an elephant to an AR-15.

America is stuck in a loop on guns — and it’s a fatal one. This country always cherished its frontier image, Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” shooting it out with the bad guys. But now when the bad guys start shooting, lawmakers just shrug.

We’ve become a country of cowards, so terrified of the unholy power of gun worship that no sacrifice of young blood is too great to appease it.

A country of cowards indeed!


Historic Senate Race in Georgia as 2 Black candidates to compete for Senate seat!

This combination of two separate photos shows Herschel Walker in Atlanta, May 24, 2022, left, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., in Washington, Jan. 18, 2022, right. Walker will represent the Republican Party in its efforts to unseat Warnock in the November 2022 election. (AP Photo)

Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock

Dear Commons Community,

In the Deep South state of Georgia where the painful history of slavery, segregation and racial injustice is still present, voters for the first time have selected two Black candidates to represent the major parties in a Senate race. After handily winning their respective primaries last Tuesday, Herschel Walker will take on Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in a general election campaign that could help decide control of the Senate.

The race will test whether Democratic gains in 2020 were a blip or the start of a political realignment in a rapidly changing state. In November 2020, Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state in 28 years, and just two months later, Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff flipped two longtime Republican Senate seats, handing their party a narrow majority in the Senate.

Black voters were crucial in helping Democrats secure those victories and will likely be decisive again this year. Here is an analysis of the this race courtesy of the Associated Press.

The issue is less about whether Walker will break the bond that Black voters have had with Democratic candidates. It is more about whether Black voters, frustrated by a lack of progress in Washington on issues ranging from a policing overhaul to voting rights, simply sit this election out. In a close election, even a small change in voting patterns could be decisive.

Republicans hope Walker’s candidacy can at least neutralize the issue of race in the campaign.

“In this race, Black Georgians will not have to contend with the race issue,” said Camilla Moore, chair of the Georgia Black Republican Council. “And I really do believe by culture, we’re socially conservative. I think Herschel just has to be Herschel and tell his conservative message.”

But in interviews in recent weeks, many Black voters said they would not give Walker a second look because of his race. They said they were driven by policy considerations, and Walker, who was backed by former President Donald Trump and is generally in line with GOP orthodoxy, does not address their needs.

Louis Harden, a 58-year-old Black voter in Atlanta, said he is backing Warnock because of the senator’s support for Medicaid expansion.

“It doesn’t matter about the color,” he said. “It’s just the issues, who’s going to get the job done.”

There are only a few modern instances in which two Black people have emerged as the nominees in a Senate race.

Democrat Barack Obama faced Republican radio host and former diplomat Alan Keyes in his 2004 Senate campaign in Illinois. More recently, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican, was unsuccessfully challenged in 2016 by Thomas Dixon, a North Charleston pastor.

But the Warnock-Walker matchup is unique because it is playing out in a far more competitive state than Illinois, a Democratic stronghold, or South Carolina, where Republicans are dominant. Also, the candidates in Georgia are already well known, representing two institutions that are revered in the South: church and football.

Walker, among Georgia’s most well-known sports figures, won a championship and the Heisman Trophy while at the University of Georgia in the 1980s. Warnock is the senior pastor at the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.

“This is going to be a historic matchup,” said Stan Deaton, a scholar at the Georgia Historical Society.

But to make a dent in Warnock’s support among Black voters, Walker will need to do more to appeal to the Black community, said Leah Wright Rigueur, a political historian at Johns Hopkins University who has written about efforts by Black Republicans to broaden the party’s largely white base.

Republican candidates who do well among African American voters have the ability to craft a political identity that is independent from the party, something she said Walker has not done so far. Black voters also consider how a candidate treats his or her community and may view African American candidates who stick to Republican talking points more harshly than their white counterparts, Wright Rigueur said.

“And the reason why is because it’s viewed as a betrayal,” she said. “It’s viewed as community betrayal.”

Walker has largely hewed to Republican messaging about race. He has defended Trump against criticism that Trump was racist, he has accused Black Lives Matter of wanting to destroy the country and he has said “Black-on-Black crime” is far worse than violence by police. Walker has come under scrutiny over allegations that he threatened his ex-wife’s life and dramatically inflated his record as a businessman.

Warnock, the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, has embraced King’s legacy of racial justice and equal rights. After the killing of George Floyd by police in May 2020, Warnock expounded on the country’s struggle with a “virus” he called “COVID-1619” for the year when some of the first slaves arrived in what is now the United States. On Capitol Hill, he has attacked Republicans’ push for tighter voting rules as “Jim Crow in new clothes.”

Warnock “has a record of fighting to improve the lives of all Georgians,” Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks said in a statement, citing as examples Warnock’s efforts to forgive student loan debt and address the high rates of maternal mortality.

“The people of Georgia, no matter their race, will make the decision about who is up for the job and best able to represent the people of Georgia,” he said.

A spokesperson for Walker’s campaign, Mallory Blount, said all Georgians, regardless of race, are facing problems created by Democrats and that Walker is “sick and tired of politicians constantly dividing people based on the color of their skin.”

Walker told a House subcommittee last year while testifying against reparations for slavery that “Black power” is used to “create white guilt.”

In his memoir, “Breaking Free,” Walker said his mother taught him that “color was invisible” and doing right or wrong was what mattered.

“I never really liked the idea that I was to represent my people,” he wrote. “My parents raised me to believe that I represented humanity — people — and not black people, white people, yellow people, or any other color or type of person.”

Still, Black Republicans in Georgia expect Walker to try hard to woo the African American community during the general election. They also believe his personal story about overcoming obstacles to reach the top ranks of college football and then the NFL will find an audience among Black voters.

“Self-determination has always been a big thing in the Black community since we got out of slavery,” said Leonard Massey, who is Black and is chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party in eastern Georgia. “He actually shows how to get to the next level.”

Without a doubt, Georgia will be the Senate race to watch in November!


College Enrollments take a big hit in Spring 2022!

Click to enlarge

Dear Commons Community,

College enrollments continue to worsen. Total postsecondary enrollment fell to 16.2 million this spring, marking a one-year decline of 4.1 percent or 685,000 students. Enrollment declined this spring at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Following a 3.5 percent drop last spring, postsecondary institutions have lost nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020. This according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Undergraduate enrollment accounted for most of the decline, dropping 4.7 percent this spring or over 662,000 students from spring 2021. As a result, the undergraduate student body is now 9.4 percent or nearly 1.4 million students smaller than before the pandemic.

Public institutions suffered the brunt of enrollment declines this spring, losing 604,000 students (-5.0% from a year ago). Community colleges accounted for more than half of these losses this spring (351,000 students) and have lost over 827,000 students since the start of the pandemic.
There were over 462,000 fewer women students (-4.6%) this spring, more than doubling the losses experienced the previous year, resulting in a two-year total decline of 665,000 women enrollments

A special analysis of the spring freshmen highlights distinctive pandemic-related enrollment trends. Nearly 340,000 students started college for the first time this spring, an increase of 4.2 percent from spring 2021. However, the growth this spring was not enough to return community college freshman enrollment to pre-pandemic levels, with the current freshmen numbers still running 7.9 percent (17,000 students) below spring 2020’s levels.


Trump ignores Uvalde Tragedy and bows down to the NRA at its convention in Houston!

Dear Commons Community,

Undeterred by Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, former President Donald Trump headlined the National Rifle Association’s annual legislative conference in Houston yesterday and called for “a top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across this country” in addition to “drastically” changing the U.S. approach to mental health.  See analysis above  (video) by CNN).

It was a welcome message for the embattled NRA, which has been plagued by scandal and embroiled in litigation. Had Trump skipped the event, he would have been in good company: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pulled out of a planned appearance in favor of a return visit to Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in an elementary school Tuesday. Abbott provided pre-recorded remarks to the conference, which Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas also backed out of, citing scheduling conflicts.  As reported b y NBC News.

“Unlike some, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up,” Trump said at the start of his remarks.

Trump described the Uvalde shooting as “a savage and barbaric atrocity” and called for a moment of silence as he read the names of the 21 victims. The former president said those killed “are now with God in heaven” while the shooter “will be eternally damned to burn in the fires of hell.”  Journalist Justin Glave called Trump’s tribute to the Uvalde victims “dystopian” and said that the gongs seemed to “signal that the republic is doomed.”

Trump then laid into President Joe Biden for urging Congress to take up gun safety legislation, saying Biden’s criticism of the gun lobby was really directed at gun owners across the country.

But Trump also called for action, arguing there are steps that can be taken to prevent mass shootings.

“While we don’t yet know enough about this week’s killing, we know there are many things we must do,” he said. “We need to drastically change our approach to mental health. There are always so many warning signs. Almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile.”

“Teachers, parents, school officials, and community members need to be recognizing and addressing these alarm bells promptly and very, very aggressively,” he continued. “And our school discipline systems, instead of making excuses and continually turning a blind eye, need to confront bad behavior head on and quickly. And clearly we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions.”

In calling for increased school security, Trump echoed other Republicans in suggesting schools must transition to having only a single point of entry, implement metal detectors and employ an armed security officer at all times. Trump also said teachers should be able to be armed on school property.

“If the United States has $40 billion to send to Ukraine, we should be able to do whatever it takes to keep our children safe at home,” Trump said. “We spent trillions in Iraq, trillions in Afghanistan, and got nothing. Before we nation-build the rest of the world, we should be building safe schools for our own children in our own nation. Right?”

At the same time, increased spending, security and training preceded the shooting in Uvalde, where Robb Elementary School had invested in a significant safety plan. The school had hired security officers and erected fencing around the building. Teachers were under instruction to keep classroom doors locked, and students routinely went through drills to prepare for an active shooter.

Those efforts did not prevent Tuesday’s massacre.

Trump dedicated a significant portion of his speech to boosting the police, at one point going so far as to suggest he would “no longer feel obligated” to defer to state and local governments to respond to protests that turn violent if he were to be president again.

“I would crack down on violent crime like never before,” he said.

Trump also veered sharply off topic in his campaign-style speech. As is the case in virtually all of the former president’s remarks following his 2020 loss, Trump decried a “rigged election,” elevating the false claim that widespread voter fraud and malfeasance by election administrators cost him a second term.

Few national organizations have been as important to Trump’s political fortunes as the NRA, the country’s most prominent pro-gun rights group. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won 63 percent to 31 percent among voters who lived in gun-owning homes, while losing 65 percent to 30 percent among those who didn’t.

As he considers a third bid for the presidency — and as other Republicans with similar support for gun rights do the same — Trump has tremendous incentive to tighten his ties to the NRA and the gun owners who make up its more than 5 million members.

In 2019, the last annual meeting of the NRA before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump made the political connection explicit: “Far-left radicals in Congress want to take away your voice, your jobs, your rights, and they especially want to take your guns,” he said at the time. “You know that. They want to take away your guns. You better get out there and vote.”

From the White House, Trump delivered prized victories to the gun lobby by nominating Supreme Court justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — who have expansive views of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms.

He also nixed an Obama-era rule adding people with mental illnesses to the national background-check system.

And, despite thorough negotiation of potential statutory and executive actions that could be taken to counter mass shootings, Trump did little to change policy from Washington. He signed a broader law that strengthened the existing background-check system and issued a regulation to ban bump stock devices that make it easier for shooters to fire multiple rounds quickly.

When he considered pushing to expand background checks to cover many more transactions, the NRA was quick to deter him. Likewise, his flirtation with supporting a “red flag” law to take guns away from people deemed to pose a risk did not result in any federal action.

He made no mention of expanded background checks or red flag laws in Friday’s address.

The shootings in Texas this week, where law enforcement officers waited outside as the gunman shot children and teachers, injected an awkward dissonance into Trump’s long-held view that more guns are the answer to mass shootings.

Because of Secret Service protocols surrounding Trump’s appearance, attendees were advised by the NRA that they would not be allowed to bring guns into the assembly hall where Trump spoke — and that there would be “no storage available for firearms.”

Trump got on his knees to the NRA last night and will accept its money in return. What a disgrace!


PS:  After my posting above, my colleague, Patsy Moskal, sent me her facebook comment on Trump’s talk at the NRA Conventions:

So, if guns are banned for the former president’s appearance, it is because they realize that guns=more danger? But, the rest of us don’t have the luxury of banning guns when we visit churches, schools, malls, colleges, groceries…anywhere.

Federal Reserve Board Report: The College Majors They Wish They Hadn’t Chosen!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education had a brief article on a new report from the Federal Reserve Board, released last Monday.  The report, “Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021,” details the findings of a survey that was conducted in October and November of 2021. Among the education issues respondents were asked about were online education, the value of college, and student debt.

An executive summary of education-related results was as follows:

At the time of the survey, most parents of primary or secondary school students reported that their children were attending classes completely in person. Most parents also said that their child was doing better academically compared with a year earlier. In contrast to the experience of K–12 students, online education remained prevalent at higher education institutions in the fall of 2021.

  • Ninety-three percent of parents with a child in public or private school said their youngest child
    who was enrolled in K–12 education was attending classes completely in person, compared
    with 27 percent attending completely in person in 2020.
  • Fifty-six percent of parents with a child in public or private school said that their child’s aca-
    demic performance improved in 2021, compared with 7 percent who said it declined.
  • Seventy-six percent of higher education students in 2021 said they prefer online or hybrid education, given the situation with the pandemic
  • 67 percent of adults with some college or a technical degree said they would have liked to complete more education.
  • About 37 percent of people who had some college or a technical degree said they would have attended a different institution.

Student Loans
The share of student loan borrowers who were behind on their payments in the fall of 2021 declined relative to before the pandemic. These borrowers also saw increases in their financial well-being compared with prior years.

  • Twelve percent of borrowers were behind on their payments in 2021, a significant decline from
    the 17 percent who were behind in the fall of 2019
  • Seventy-three percent of those who went to college and have student loans for their own educa-
    tion were doing at least okay financially in 2021, up from 65 percent before the pandemic

One of the more interesting responses was to a question asking adults who had completed at least some college whether they would have chosen a different major (see  chart above).  Overall, 38% would have majored in another area. Nearly half (48%) who had studied the arts and humanities said they would now major in something else.

The entire report has some interesting findings!



Video: Beto O’Rourke Confronts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – The Uvalde Tragedy “is on you”

Dear Commons Community,

In a stunning moment (see video above) on Wednesday, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) confronted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over gun control policy at a press conference where officials were giving updates on the mass shooting at an Uvalde elementary school.

“You’re doing nothing. You’re all doing nothing,” O’Rourke told the officials assembled on the stage.

One of them repeatedly shouted back, “Sir, you are out of line!”

An 18-year-old ran into Robb Elementary School in the small west Texas town on Tuesday, killing 19 children and two teachers with an AR-15 rifle. Seventeen more were injured, Abbott said earlier at the press conference. The man, who was killed by responding officers, had shot his grandmother in the face before driving over to the school. He posted his intentions to Facebook shortly before the rampage, Abbott said.

As Abbott finished his remarks and introduced Patrick, O’Rourke approached the stage to interrupt. His initial remarks were drowned out by crosstalk from different attendees ― some cheering him and many others jeering.

O’Rourke made a clear comment directed at Abbott while law enforcement moved to escort him out.  As reported by The Huffington Post.

“This is on you,” O’Rourke said. “Until you choose to do something different, this will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.”

As O’Rourke exited, some of his supporters chanted, “Let him speak!” One person asked, “How about the First Amendment?”

The Republican elected officials at the dais criticized O’Rourke with varying degrees of subtlety once he was out of the room.

“There will be plenty of time to discuss and analyze what happened yesterday,” Patrick said.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) concurred. “Mayor, I’m sorry you had to witness that outburst,” Phelan said to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. “Now is not the time to politicize pain and suffering.”

In his initial remarks, Abbott had acknowledged that “people are rightfully angry about what’s happened,” but he did not offer gun policy solutions. “Now more than ever,” Abbott said, what the Uvalde community needs “is our love.”

“What they need is uplifting from all of our fellow Texans and all of our fellow Americans,” the governor said. “And let me emphasize something that I know you all know, but the reality is as horrible as what happened, it could’ve been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.”

Abbott called for better mental health care in the west Texas region. But when asked by a reporter whether he would reconsider accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid to that end, he said no.

Patrick similarly suggested there was little policy action that could be taken, saying, “Evil will always walk among us.”

“In times like this, I’ve seen it … in these other shootings, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, Odessa, Santa Fe, it’s God that brings a community together,” he added, referencing previous mass shootings in the state. “It’s God that heals a community.”

Following the outburst, Abbott criticized the relatively strict gun control policies of states with the nation’s largest cities, including California, Illinois and New York.

“There are, quote, real gun laws in Chicago,” Abbott said, then claimed that such measures do not work. “Hate to say this, but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas.”

Chicago has strict gun control laws, but nearby states like Indiana do not, which allows people to easily access weapons.

Outside the venue, O’Rourke continued his call for stronger gun control measures and better access to mental health care.

“Now is the time to stop the next shooting,” he said. “Right after Santa Fe High School was the time to stop the next shooting. Right after El Paso was the time to stop the next shooting. Right after Midland-Odessa was the time to stop the next shooting.”

“In each case, we say, ‘This isn’t the time,’” he said. “Now is the time.”

After the press conference, HuffPost caught up with Ytuarte, the man who accused O’Rourke of disseminating propaganda.

“In the moment in which a tragedy is being addressed so recently, to come in and act in that way, is pure propaganda,” Ytuarte said when asked to explain his remarks.

He said he was nonetheless happy to discuss stricter school safety precautions, because “it is a much more logical approach than trying to control the gun ownership of every citizen.”

There were signs that even some local residents who agreed with O’Rourke preferred a less confrontational approach than the one O’Rourke employed.

“They’re not strict with the background checks,” said Cris Vazquez, a Republican schoolteacher who supports tightening those checks.

But Vazquez disapproved of how O’Rourke delivered his message.

“It’s just disrespectful to do an outburst like that ― as a professional running for public office,” she said.


Trump Said to Have Reacted Approvingly to Jan. 6 Chants about Hanging Pence!

Vice President Mike Pence resisted pressure to block or delay certification of the Electoral College results of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election.

Vice President Mike Pence resisted pressure to block or delay certification of the Electoral College results of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election.Credit…Jacob Langston for The New York Times

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times is reporting that shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety. Here is an excerpt from the Times article.

“Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged.

It is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used. But the reported remark was further evidence of how extreme the rupture between the president and his vice president had become, and of how Mr. Trump not only failed to take action to call off the rioters but appeared to identify with their sentiments about Mr. Pence — whom he had unsuccessfully pressured to block certification of the Electoral College results that day — as a reflection of his own frustration at being unable to reverse his loss.

The account of Mr. Trump’s comment was initially provided to the House committee by at least one witness, according to two people briefed on their work, as the panel develops a timeline of what the president was doing during the riot.

Another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mr. Meadows who was present in his office when he recounted Mr. Trump’s remarks, was asked by the committee about the account and confirmed it, according to the people familiar with the panel’s work. It was not immediately clear how much detailed information Ms. Hutchinson provided. She has cooperated with the committee in three separate interviews after receiving a subpoena.

A lawyer for Mr. Meadows said he has “every reason to believe” that the account of what Mr. Meadows said “is untrue.”

Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, criticized the committee’s work. “This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”

Mr. Budowich did not address the substance of the information provided to the committee.”

Isn’t great that Mike Pence could feel that Trump had his back.  Hah!