‘Public hanging’ remark puts spotlight on Miss. Senate race
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS and ERRIN HAINES WHACK
Tuesday, November 13
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A video of a white U.S. senator from Mississippi making a flip reference to a “public hanging” is incensing voters in a special election runoff, drawing attention to the state’s history of lynching and boosting Democrats’ hope of pulling off a stunner in the Deep South.
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy, a black Democrat, in a runoff Nov. 27. She was captured on video praising a supporter by declaring, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
After the video was made public Sunday, Hyde-Smith said her remark Nov. 2 at a campaign event in Tupelo was “an exaggerated expression of regard” for a friend who invited her to speak. “Any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” she said.
Espy on Monday called the remark “disappointing and harmful.”
“It reinforces stereotypes that we’ve been trying to get away from for decades, stereotypes that continue to harm our economy and cost us jobs,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
At a news conference Monday with Republican Gov. Phil Bryant by her side, a stone-faced Hyde-Smith refused to answer questions about the hanging remark.
“I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” she said.
Republicans have been counting on a Hyde-Smith victory over Espy as they try to expand their Senate majority. Her remark may not slow her down in the deeply conservative state, but it has highlighted a battle between Mississippi’s past and future and put a painful coda to an election season marked by a resurgence of racism in Southern politics.
“It really rocked folks,” said Democrat Rukia Lumumba, co-director of The Electoral Justice Project and a native Mississippian whose family has deep roots in the state’s politics and civil rights activism. “The fact that she has yet to apologize, to recognize the impact of her comments or that people have suffered … I hope it makes us feel the urgency.”
The words undoubtedly raised the profile of a race that has largely flown under the national radar. Hyde-Smith was appointed to fill the seat vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran when he retired in April, and she ran this fall to hold the seat for the remaining two years of Cochran’s term.
She and Espy each received about 41 percent of the vote in a four-person race to advance to the runoff. Another Republican won 16 percent.
The results suggest Espy has an uphill battle, but some in the state see him as a rare Mississippi Democrat who could pull off an upset. Buoyed by Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama last year, Democrats have been organizing in Mississippi for months. Black voters in particular have powered the effort, seeing it as a moment for generational change.
“This race matters because voters are deciding: Are we going to move forward or are we going to move backward?” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a voter turnout group that was a key organizer behind Jones’ victory.
According to the NAACP, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States between 1882 and 1968, and nearly 73 percent of the victims were black. Mississippi had 581 during that time — more than any other state.
Bryant, who appointed Hyde-Smith, defended her Monday, saying, “There was nothing in her heart of ill will.”
“All of us in public life have said things on occasion that could have been phrased better,” he said. “She meant no offense by that statement.”
Mississippi has long struggled with race and racism in its politics.
The state still uses a state flag adopted in 1894 that includes the Confederate battle emblem, though all the state’s public universities and several cities and counties have stopped flying it.
Another Republican from Mississippi, Trent Lott, lost his position as Senate majority leader in 2002 after saying at the 100th birthday party of South Carolina U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond that Mississippi had proudly voted for Thurmond when he ran a segregationist campaign for president in 1948.
A Republican member of the Mississippi House, Rep. Karl Oliver, was criticized in May 2017 after he posted on Facebook that people should be lynched for removing Confederate monuments.
Espy in 1986 became the first African-American since Reconstruction to win a U.S. House seat in Mississippi. If he defeats Hyde-Smith, he would be the first African-American since Reconstruction to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.
Hyde-Smith, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump, is the first woman to represent Mississippi in either chamber of Congress and is trying to become the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from the state.
AP VoteCast, a survey of the electorate, showed significant differences in voting behavior by age and race in Mississippi’s special election. Hyde-Smith leaned heavily on the support of white voters, older ones in particular.
Overall, 57 percent of white voters supported Hyde-Smith, 21 percent voted for Espy and 18 percent supported Republican Chris McDaniel, who placed third last week. Black voters overwhelming broke for Espy: 83 percent supported the Democrat, according to AP VoteCast.
On Monday, local groups held a conference call to discuss their turnout strategy and response to Hyde-Smith’s remarks. A protest is scheduled for Friday in front of Hyde-Smith’s office.
Brown said Black Voters Matter, which has an office in the state, will hunker down there in the two weeks leading up to the runoff.
“This race is going to be won by folks from Mississippi,” Brown said.
Associated Press reporter Hannah Fingerhut contributed. Whack reported from Philadelphia.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Measuring racial profiling: Why it’s hard to tell where police are treating minorities unfairly
Updated November 13, 2018
Visiting Assistant Professor in Statistics, Washington University in St Louis
Ph.D Student in Political Science, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Colby Dolly works for the St. Louis County Police Department in the Bureau of Research and Analysis.
Liberty Vittert does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Donald Trump has waved the words “stop and frisk” around like a banner call to cure violent crime in American cities.
That means it’s time to take a look back at one of the primary criticisms of this police practice: racial profiling.
The American Civil Liberties Union defines racial profiling as “the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” This includes police using race to determine which drivers to stop for routine traffic violations or which pedestrians to search for illegal contraband.
The inevitable question is what percent of minorities the police should stop, statistically. But the default methods for deciding who is guilty of racial profiling are not statistically sound. We are working with the Bureau of Research and Analysis at the St. Louis County Police Department to create a stronger metric.
In general, there are two types of tests used to identify patterns of racial profiling.
The first, “benchmarking,” simply involves comparing the percentage of stops for people of a specific race with the percentage of that minority in that geographic area.
Benchmarking was used in an often-cited 1999 report by the New York attorney general on the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices. Officers were patrolling in and around private residential buildings and stopping individuals they believed were trespassing. In 1999, 25.6 percent of the city’s population was black, yet comprised 50.6 percent of all persons stopped. In a 2013 federal court case, the judge ruled that stop and frisk had been used in an unconstitutional manner.
However, in benchmarking, the numbers are based on census data, which can give a highly misleading view. For example, take Town and Country, Missouri, a city with only a 12.2 percent nonwhite population. More than 20 percent of last year’s traffic stops involved minorities. However, Town and Country has two major interstates running through it. How are the tens of thousands of motorists driving on those interstates captured in the benchmark?
Census data doesn’t account for any nonresidents. For all of the St. Louis County Police Department patrol areas, only 44.6 percent of drivers stopped by police actually lived in St. Louis County. This alone shows that census data is not a viable source for determining racial profiling.
What’s more, officers are often ordered to patrol “high crime” areas. Statistically speaking, these are predominantly minority areas. So, inevitably, there will be more stops in those designated high-crime areas. As data is usually observed on a city, county or precinct level, the demographics of these high-crime areas are obscured.
Another type of test looks at stop-and-frisk’s “hit rate” – that is, the percentage of searches that actually lead to the discovery of weapons, drugs or other contraband.
In some states, like North Carolina, while a higher percentage of one minority was searched, there was actually a less likely chance that the officers discovered illegal contraband. This was shown as evidence of racial profiling.
An issue here is that most hit rates involve all searches, regardless of the type. This includes searches after arrests for outstanding warrants. That means that the final hit rate may be misleading, including searches done as part of routine processing.
In 2016, researchers at Stanford published a new type of test that analyzes four variables: race of the driver, department of officer making the stop, if the stop resulted in a search and if illegal contraband was found. This metric is designed to give a “snapshot of the officer’s threshold of suspicion before searching person of a given race.”
However, as the authors notably discuss, there is no way to definitively conclude that the disparities shown by this metric necessarily stem from racial bias. What’s more, Stanford’s metric is too complicated for every precinct in the U.S. to use due to lack of detailed data and the complex analysis required.
A proposed metric
Given the drawbacks of current methods used to detect racial profiling, the U.S. needs a new way to detect racial profiling among police officers. We suggest something that is simple, understandable and easily applied across the country: a method called intrapopulation comparison.
Say one precinct has 100 police officers. Some officers stop fewer minorities, some stop more, while most officers are somewhere in the middle. Each officer is assigned a score, showing how far he or she individually deviates from the average. If the officer deviates too far, he or she is flagged and that case is looked at more carefully.
This concept was first introduced in the early 2000s. Why aren’t more precincts using this method? Most likely the same reason most practices stay in place past their prime: habit. We’re currently collecting data and studying how this metric might work for the St. Louis County Police Department.
Intrapopulation comparison allows us to flag individual officers, while addressing the issues that come with benchmarks or hit rates, like commuters and census data. The officers are compared with other officers in similar situations. The basis for identifying an officer in this system is that he or she is statistically different from the peer group.
A glaring issue with this approach is that an entire precinct could be racially biased. But, inevitably, there will be major outliers.
Racial profiling is a critical issue for law enforcement and the nation. Police departments have to demonstrate that they serve citizens in an impartial manner. We believe that this metric is simple and understandable, and it serves as an early warning system that will get closer to the root of the problem – individual officers who racially profile.
SC Perry: It’s a strong ideological claim to say “the root of the problem [is] individual officers who racially profile.” It also conflicts empirically with the work of scholars, researchers, and activists who document racism as systemic within policing.I see structural, institutional, and systemic models as more complete than individualistic explanations, since the former account for and contextualize individual bias and prejudice.Perhaps relatedly, it seems relevant for this particular article to note Sgt. Dolly’s employment with police departments in addition to academic credentials.
Liberty Vittert, Visiting Assistant Professor in Statistics, Washington University in St Louis, In reply to SC Perry: There are strong arguments on both sides of scholars who document racism in policing, and is also highly geographic and time specific. There is no doubt, and is highly agreed upon in the community, that census-based reporting does not work. In terms of individuals that racially profile- there is no doubt that it causes terrible tragedies- and is not ideological in any sense. However, your point is taken and was addressed in the article that a glaring issue with this method is that it doesn’t not take into account systematic racism in a precinct. Lastly, you are completely correct re Lieutenant Dolly’s credentials and that was an oversight that has been corrected.
Neuroscientists identify a surprising low-tech fix to the problem of sleep-deprived teens
November 13, 2018
Professor of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
Adriana Galván receives funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, National Science Foundation and National Institute of Mental Health.
University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Healthy sleep leads to healthy brains. Neuroscientists have gotten that message out. But parents, doctors and educators alike have struggled to identify what to do to improve sleep. Some have called for delaying school start times or limiting screentime before bed to achieve academic, health and even economic gains.
Still, recent estimates suggest that roughly half of adolescents in the United States are sleep-deprived. These numbers are alarming because sleep is particularly important during adolescence, a time of significant brain changes that affect learning, self-control and emotional systems. And sleep deficits are even greater in economically disadvantaged youth compared to more affluent counterparts.
Research from my developmental neuroscience lab shows one solution to the sleep deprivation problem that is deceptively simple: provide teens with a good pillow. Because getting comfortable bedding does not involve technology, expensive interventions or lots of time, it may be particularly beneficial for improving sleep among underresourced adolescents.
Consistency over quantity
Studies in my lab have shown that seemingly small differences in the quality and duration of sleep make a difference in how the brain processes information.
Sleep acts like a glue that helps the brain encode recently learned information into long-term knowledge. It also improves focus in school because sleep helps dampen hyperactive behavior, strong emotional reactions and squirminess. This means that students who are normally dismissed from the classroom for disruptive behavior are more likely to stay in class if they’re not sleep-deprived. More time in the class leads to more learning.
My colleagues and I originally hypothesized that the number of hours asleep was most important for healthy brain development over time. But when we tested this idea with a study, the findings surprised us. Instead, adolescents whose sleep is inconsistent across the school week, varying by as much as 2.5 hours from one night to the next, exhibited less development of white matter connections in their brains a year later than those who slept a more consistent number of hours per night.
White matter connections help process information efficiently and quickly by connecting different brain regions, similar to how a highway connects two cities. Adolescence is an important time for paving all the brain’s highways, and this research suggests sleep may be vital for this construction.
Better sleep comes with better bedding
So what are the primary sleep ingredients that contribute to healthy brain development? My lab designed a study to investigate.
We equipped 55 14- to 18-year-old high school students across Los Angeles from different socioeconomic backgrounds with actigraphs, wristwatch-like monitors that track sleep quality. Higher sleep quality is defined by fewer awakenings per night. Those are times in the night when sleep rhythms are disrupted and the person is briefly awake or moves into a lighter stage of sleep, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not. In our study, adolescents had an average of five awakenings per night that ranged in duration between less than a minute and over an hour.
After two weeks, they came into the lab to have their brains scanned. We were interested in measuring the connections among pathways in the brain involved in self-control, emotion and reward processing – the same ones that are important for reducing impulsivity and staying focused in class. Unsurprisingly, adolescents with better sleep quality had better “brain connectivity.” That is, connections among key brain regions were stronger.
But the more important, and surprising, discovery was what we found when we dug deeper into identifying the reasons some adolescents got better sleep than others. Was it less technology in the bedroom? Darker rooms? Less noise? Higher socioeconomic status? Not in our study.
Adolescents who reported greater satisfaction with their bedding and pillows were the ones who had greater sleep quality, and greater sleep quality was associated with greater brain connectivity, an effect that cut across socioeconomic lines. Conversely, adolescents in our study with low brain connectivity and poor sleep quality exhibited greater impulsivity than those with high connectivity and sleep quality, illustrating the real-world effects on behavior.
So is there a perfect pillow? We found that one size doesn’t fit all. For some people, a flat pancake pillow soothes them into a sound slumber. For others, only a super puffy cloud will do. And although our findings were strongest for pillow comfort, bedding more generally was important too.
Sleep interventions to close achievement gap
In every measurable domain, young people reared in poverty experience poor outcomes. Compared to more affluent peers, they show poorer academic and cognitive performance, psychosocial well-being and physical health. These gaps have been the focus of intense debate and research but they remain wide and persistent.
The availability and quality of basic needs, including food, health, parental warmth and shelter, helps explain some of the discrepant outcomes between high and low-income adolescents. But researchers have sorely underemphasized sleep – an equally important basic need that may be an untapped solution to the achievement gap.
Reducing the achievement gap is the goal of many government-funded programs. One way to achieve it is to create accessible and realistic targets for intervention that improve day-to-day functioning. Sleep may be one such target. It is relatively easy to quantify and track, affected by daily habits that can be changed such as parental monitoring and bedtime routines, and it is directly associated with learning, social and health outcomes.
In a time of borderline hysteria over the effects of technology on sleep and brain development, little attention goes to the fundamental elements of good sleep in adolescents. Ensuring they have comfortable bedding may help improve sleep in all adolescents, particularly among poorer families. And it’s a lot easier to convince parents and teens to invest in pillows than to bicker over phone privileges.
Nice information but it is hard to believe that the screen time before going to bed was not a major factor in your study. Please elaborate that point.
I have just now come across this science news wherein screen time is said to be responsible for less sleep among children and adolescents:Insufficient sleep in children is associated with poor diet, obesity and more screen timeNew study suggests a relationship between insufficient sleep and an unhealthy lifestyleDate:November 12, 2018Source:American Academy of Sleep MedicineSummary:A new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.Share:
FULL STORY: A new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.
Results show that insufficient sleep duration was associated with unhealthy dietary habits such as skipping breakfast (adjusted odds ratio 1.30), fast-food consumption (OR 1.35) and consuming sweets regularly (OR 1.32). Insufficient sleep duration also was associated with increased screen time (OR 1.26) and being overweight/obese (OR 1.21).
“Approximately 40 percent of schoolchildren in the study slept less than recommended,” said senior author Labros Sidossis, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Insufficient sleeping levels were associated with poor dietary habits, increased screen time and obesity in both genders.”
The study results are published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine………..So, please clarify and elaborate your point regarding these factors.