I suppose in some infinitesimal part the referendum vote for Brexit is my fault too. In common with most of the Btitish élite or hangers-on, and all those who have worked for one European institution or another, I never took the threat of Brexit quite seriously. Surely the voters would in the end recognize the wishful thinking of an à la carte Europe, keeping the bits you like and not the ones you don’t. Surely the young, under-represented in telephone polling, would turn out en masse. But it’s the unlikely and incoherent alliance of elderly Little Englanders and the depressed Northern working class that turned out, and won.
The disaster is playing out at several speeds. The pound has already fallen sharply, anticipating the City’s loss of access to European financial markets. David Cameron has resigned; his first gamble with the constitution over Scottish independence was just saved for him by two Labour politicians, Alistair Darling with the numbers and Gordon Brown with the flag-waving. This time Jeremy Corbyn was as usual useless, and the gamble failed. In fact the strong Bremain vote in Scotland has opened up the case for a second Scottish referendum, so it may end up a double catastrophe for the Union.
The combination of a vague constitutional referendum and a parliamentary system has thrown the UK into a permanent crisis. The leavers are a minority of MPs, and they don’t like their marching orders. If Boris Johnson gets his ambition of 10 Downing Street, he will be living on a knife-edge. He has already suggested that there is no hurry, but Brussels is insisting on an early trigger of Article 50, the formal withdrawal mechanism that sets a two-year deadline for negotiations. Boris (or Gove or whoever) is about to find just how weak Britain’s cards are in this process. Norway and Switzerland have access to the single market, and Norway is even in the Schengen free-movement area. But both pay hefty contributions, nominally to the regional development and other structural funds. Britain’s interlocutors have no incentive to be nice.
Is id possible that the exit terms will be so awful that in the end the UK will swallow its pride and stay in? Just possible, but as in divorce a descent into rancour is far more likely than last-minute reconciliation.
Why did it all go wrong? Continue Reading…
As readers know, this is a topic dear to my heart.
On January 12, 2013, Robert Ethan Saylor, a twenty-six-year-old man living with Down syndrome, went to seeZero Dark Thirty at a local theater in Frederick County, Maryland. He was accompanied by his attendant, Mary Crosby. When the movie ended, Crosby asked him if he was ready to go home. Saylor became angry, and Crosby called Saylor’s mother for advice on managing the situation. Saylor’s mother suggested that Crosby go get the car to give her son an opportunity to calm down.
While Crosby was gone, Saylor decided to go back inside the theater. He sat down in his original seat to watchZero Dark Thirty a second time. Customers aren’t supposed to do this, and he was asked to leave. Against Crosby’s advice, a theater manager called three off-duty sheriff’s deputies who were working security. Things got loud, and then physical as they grabbed the 300-pound Saylor and tried to drag him out. Saylor ended up on the ground in cuffs. He suffered a fractured larynx, and died. The Baltimore Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide as a result of positional asphyxia.
The officers were never indicted. I believe that was the right call. I doubt these three officers had any desire to hurt Mr. Saylor, let alone to cause his death. That is precisely what makes such cases instructive and frightening. Indeed, the deputies’ legal defense was that they had followed their training in their steady escalation of force.
More from me here at the Washington Monthly.
By the way, my original conclusion may be found below the fold. My WaMo editors asked for a different conclusion, since this seemed to render a harsh judgment not in keeping with the tone carried in the rest of the piece… Continue Reading…
This was the scene yesterday morning at the 59th Street Metra Station–the one distinctively marked “University of Chicago.” I could have picked more dramatic pictures of senior citizens struggling on the stairs, or of people slipping in sleeting rain. These are pictures from a nice sunny day. This departing passenger happens to be wearing a heavy cast on her foot.
On the sunniest day, Hyde Park residents with disabilities, a 12-year-old Laboratory School student who uses a wheelchair, a University of Chicago visitor, student, staff member, or faculty member with impaired mobility cannot use the nearest train station marked “University of Chicago.” My 84-year-old mother might want to see David Axelrod or other University luminaries who speak at International House, which is right next door to the station. She couldn’t do that, because she couldn’t handle the stairs.
My mom and everyone else would need to find less convenient alternatives. The 57th Street station is not at the end of the world. Still, it’s a brisk walk away, much further from many University of Chicago buildings and amenities. President George HW Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act more than 25 years ago. Because 59th Street is not deemed a “key station,” there is apparently no legal requirement for full accessibility.
As it happens, the 59th Street station is an eyesore. Renovations now underway might make it less of a blight on the neighborhood. You can see the outward signs of this work in the pictures below the fold. The cosmetic surgery is beside the point. The City of Chicago, Metra, and the University of Chicago need to get this right.
We might be making progress. A Metra representative Meg Thomas-Reile, emails that:
The work that is now going on at 59th St. to replace the platform and head houses does not include the addition of an elevator.
However, Metra does have plans to do a more extensive renovation of the station that would include the addition of an elevator. We expect to begin design work on that project soon.
I read this with hope, Then my heart sank to read the remainder of her email, which includes the classic Illinois catch:
The timeline for the work, however, would be dependent on funding. We are currently planning to use $3.5 million from the state bond program to help pay for the work. That funding is now on hold due to the state budget situation.
Like everyone else, people in wheelchairs are waiting for our fair state’s political budget gridlock to be resolved.
There’s really no excuse that we’re still talking about this issue in 2016. Metra should certainly pay for this. But if there is a glitch, the University should make sure this gets done. We’ve had more than a quarter-century to secure proper disability access at the train station that bears our name. Our multi-billion-dollar endowment is certainly used for more costly investments in real estate and neighborhood infrastructure than one long-overdue train station elevator. There’s equally little excuse for our student activists–ready to demonstrate about a myriad of national issues–to be so passive about boring yet basic issues of inclusion that hit much closer to home.
A four-year-old with her toy basket and cute yellow boots plays with her father in the sand. She has no way to understand–not that the rest of us really do, either—that the spot on which she is playing was once a killing field, Juno Beach, where so many brave Canadian troops were subject to withering German fire on the morning of June 6, 1944.
Our tour bus from Paris hit the usual sites. Memorials to Allied soldiers pepper the area. We saw no memorials to their German adversaries, who fought all too bravely and well for an unspeakable cause. I cannot honor these men. Yet they, too, left much behind.
Like many of my contemporaries, I was a childhood World War II buff. I’ve probably read a hundred books on World War II since I was a child. I learned world geography from the battle maps of American Heritage accounts of Midway, Stalingrad, and the Ardennes. So I was intimately familiar with our guide’s account of the logistical feats and planning missteps in Operation Overlord’s first day.
I knew of the bombing runs missed, the amphibious vehicles than had sunk. I knew about the currents and tides led many of the invaders to arrive a fatal thirty minutes late or to land a fateful few hundred-yards from their intended site. The greatest and most consequential victory of American arms since 1865 was, at ground level, bloody chaos, replete with tragic mistakes and accidents that led thousands of men to die.
I knew about the American Rangers who rappelled the steep face of Pointe du Hoc, while German troops on the ridge above slashed their climbing ropes and rained down grenades. I did not, until Saturday, know what that rock face looked like from above.
Many of whom are working the Second Shift, and will continue to do so for much of their lives.
On a more enjoyable, related note–Congratulations to my brother-in-law Vincent. He’s out of the hospital, infection healed, and has moved into a spiffy new group home.
My brother-in-law Vincent is now off on a short hospital stay due to an infection. Decades of morbid obesity compromised the circulation to his legs. He’s thus susceptible to chronic infections and sores that require IV antibiotics and other interventions. The hospital nursing staff has been quite kind. Vincent is having a good stay, made more enjoyable by friendly banter with the kind and appealing nurses who are providing most of his care.
At some point in the evening, one of these nurses asked Vincent: “Is your pain a 7 or a 10?” Vincent responded with embarrassment, looking to my wife for an answer. He remembers all of the nurse’s names, but he does not know whether ten is greater than seven. He cannot process numerical information that way. Like many men and women living with intellectual disabilities, he requires different strategies for pain assessment. This is a well-known challenge, with many potential solutions.
This wasn’t a big problem, but it wasn’t unimportant, either. Vincent’s leg was hurting, and he wanted some pain reliever for it. And this mundane encounter underscored a broader difficulty. Doctors and nurses must come up to speed regarding people who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities, not to mention people who live with communications disorders and related difficulties. These issues are a part of life in 2016 America. We can do better.