Veteran draws millions in donations for Trump’s border wall
By TERRY TANG
Thursday, December 20
An online fundraiser started by an Air Force veteran to pay for construction of President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall was up to millions of dollars Thursday, bringing further attention to an issue that could lead to a government shutdown.
Brian Kolfage launched the GoFundMe page Sunday, and it had generated $9.7 million in donations as of Thursday evening. The site states a fundraising goal of $1 billion.
In a statement posted on the crowdsourcing page, Kolfage says the wall could be built if everyone who voted for Trump pledged $80 each.
“As a veteran who has given so much, three limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today,” Kolfage wrote.
A triple amputee injured in the Iraq War in 2004, Kolfage said he has contacted the Trump administration about where to send the money once the fundraiser ends.
Trump announced Thursday he would not sign a bill to keep funding the government because it fails to provide billions for his border wall. It was his second reversal in a matter of days after conservative allies and pundits accused him of backing down on a central campaign promise. His decision has thrown Congress into disarray and risks a federal shutdown this weekend.
Kolfage, who is listed on GoFundMe as being based in Miramar Beach, Florida, said in an email that he was not immediately available to comment.
The reception toward Kolfage’s fundraising is far from the reaction when Arizona lawmakers similarly tried to raise money for border fencing several years ago.
Legislators approved a bill in 2011 to establish a website to raise $50 million for border fencing. The effort, however, flopped, bringing in around $265,000.
Kolfage’s page inspired at least one opposing fundraising page. A GoFundMe fundraiser was created Wednesday to raise money for “ladders to get over Trump’s wall.” The site posted a goal of $100 million and garnered more than $20,000 in donations as of Thursday afternoon. All the money will go toward a nonprofit that provides education and legal services to refugees and immigrant families.
Of the trillion photos taken in 2018, which were the most memorable?
December 21, 2018
Author: Nicole Smith Dahmen, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon
Disclosure statement: Nicole Smith Dahmen 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.
Partners: University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
What makes some images memorable and others easily forgotten? It’s a question I’ve been studying for nearly 20 years.
Estimates suggest that more than 1 trillion photos were taken in 2018.
With so many in circulation, it’s difficult for any single photo to capture our attention and become a famed iconic image.
In the golden age of photojournalism, news photographs became iconic largely because they appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world – think Iwo Jima and the Hindenburg.
But that age has come to an end: Digital journalism and social media have changed the way we consume images. Each day, audiences are bombarded with photos. Many are shocking, inspiring and heartbreaking. But in their overwhelming volume, they’re easily forgotten.
Nonetheless, some do rise to the top.
Two colleagues and I developed a model to help predict when and how certain images may become widely known.
The model shows that certain characteristics of an image – such as its timeliness, its cultural resonance, its political potency or its likelihood of being turned into a meme – can influence its rise and reach.
Images that exhibit these qualities can quickly go viral, turning them into what communication scholars call “instant news icons.” While these images don’t typically endure to become truly historic, they nonetheless help citizens navigate and understand complex events.
So which images did this in 2018?
Enough is enough
On Feb. 14, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. Following such a mass shooting, there’s a predictable pattern of news media coverage – breaking news reports filled with speculation, details about the perpetrator, elected officials responding with “thoughts and prayers” and debates about mental health and gun control.
But after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, we saw something new: images of resistance. The students there spoke fervently, demanding action from elected officials.
These images of resistance spurred school walkouts and nationwide protests, culminating in the March For Our Lives.
A photo of firefighters goes viral
Forest fires continued to rage in 2018.
During the devastating Carr Fire that burned more than 200,000 acres and claimed the lives of three firefighters, Redding, California resident Richard Tuggle captured a photo of five firefighters resting in a backyard in his neighborhood on July 27. The firefighters were clearly reeling from the exhaustion of battling the deadly fire.
What’s particularly interesting about this photo and its rise to prominence is that it was captured by a citizen rather than a journalist. The photo went viral on social media and was ultimately picked up by news outlets across the country, showing how instant news icons can come from citizens as well as journalists in this new age of photography.
Kavanaugh confronts #MeToo
Amid controversy and protests, the Senate narrowly confirmed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Oct. 6.
The contentious confirmation hearings pitted the image of an incensed Kavanaugh against images of impassioned protesters standing in solidarity with a calm, composed Christine Blasey Ford.
Security cameras upend the Saudi narrative
In early October, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. The Saudis initially denied that they had anything to do with his disappearance.
But security-camera footage emerged showing Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. It served as evidence to support the claim – later confirmed – that he was killed inside.
In this case, the image was captured by a security camera, rather than a photographer. Nonetheless, it became an instant news icon. It’s just another example of the changing nature of the production and consumption of news imagery.
Time magazine named journalists as their 2018 Person of the Year, partly in response to the Khashoggi killing.
Devastation in Yemen
A devastating war in Yemen has led to economic instability and widespread food shortages.
On Oct. 26, The New York Times published photojournalist Tyler Hicks’ gut-wrenching images of starving Yemeni children.
A few days later we learned that Amal Hussain, the 7-year-old girl in Hicks’ haunting photo, had died.
Journalists have continued to document this humanitarian crisis. In mid-December the Senate voted to end U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
But the crisis continues, and millions of people still face starvation.
The politics of immigration
Political, economic and ethical debates about immigration dominated the year, with two photos driving the conversation.
Getty photographer John Moore’s image of a 2-year-old Honduran girl in a pink shirt sobbing as U.S. Border Patrol agents searched her mother became the face of Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy. The image was even modified for a Time magazine cover under the headline “Welcome to America.”
The image continued to spur discussion after it was made clear that the mother and daughter were not actually separated. However, hundreds of other children have been separated from their parents and recently a 7-year-old girl in Border Patrol custody died.
Then, on Nov. 25, Reuters photojournalist Kim Kyung-Hoon snapped a picture of a mother and her twin daughters fleeing tear gas at the border wall between the U.S. and Tijuana, Mexico. Appearing in news outlets and on social media feeds across the country, it spurred further public and political outrage.
Some said the photo effectively contradicted Trump’s narrative that refugees were dangerous. Others noted that the photo evoked the iconic image of a naked Vietnamese girl screaming in pain following a napalm attack.
After Year of the Woman, 2020 buzz so far focuses on the men
By ELANA SCHOR, JUANA SUMMERS and HOLLY RAMER
Friday, December 21
WASHINGTON (AP) — A year defined by the political power of women is ending with men enjoying much of the attention.
Outgoing Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have emerged as early favorites in the opening phase of the 2020 campaign. All the attention on the presidential prospects of this white male trio might seem to miss the message of the midterm elections, in which a record number of women were elected to public office across the country.
The dynamic puts Democrats in an awkward position weeks after the midterm victories, with Rep. Nancy Pelosi poised to regain the speaker’s gavel as the highest-ranking woman in Washington. And it raises an uncomfortable question for the party: Two years after Hillary Clinton fell short of the presidency, are Democrats ready to nominate another woman to take on President Donald Trump?
“Women voters and women activists are feeling much more empowered than they ever have,” Cecile Richards, who led Planned Parenthood for more than a decade, said in an interview. “I don’t know whether it will be in the first place or the second place. But I cannot imagine a woman not being on this ticket because women are going to demand it.”
Of course, there are plenty of women in the 2020 mix. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are actively considering presidential runs and could be formidable candidates. In an interview this week, Harris said, “I would hope” the eventual Democratic presidential field would be representative of the U.S. population when it comes to both gender and race. She declined to prognosticate further about the primary because “I don’t know what the field will be.”
But the early focus on the men demonstrates how difficult it can be for women to break into political power at the highest levels. Amanda Litman, co-founder of the advocacy group Run for Something and Clinton’s former email director, said in an interview that early surveys showing Biden, Sanders and O’Rourke topping the Democratic field are “measuring purely name recognition, and these things that one has to do to gain name recognition inherently favor men.”
Clinton herself blamed her defeat in part on sexist forces — and some Democrats expressed concern that persistent hurdles remain in place. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from the early-voting state of New Hampshire, said, “Women always have to reckon with those forces.”
But Shaheen, who told The Associated Press that she’s “talked to a number of my colleagues” considering White House bids, made clear that she sees “an open field, and an opportunity for whoever is interested in running to make the case.”
John Neffinger, a Democratic strategist who helped Clinton prepare for her debates with Trump, said part of the “higher hurdle for women” seeking the presidency involves the reality that American culture, including the media, treats women candidates differently.
“Democrats don’t just want a candidate they like — they want one that general election voters will be comfortable putting in charge,” he said. “This is all changing for the better, and every candidate gets judged on their own merits, but research suggests it’s still harder for a woman to make that case.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate in 2016, said that despite “the very significant double standard applied to her versus the president,” he sees the “ugliness” visible in that race as ultimately “energizing to voters, volunteers, and candidates” ahead of 2020.
“So, will it be a factor? Yeah, it’ll be a factor,” Kaine said in an interview. “But I think there may be even more resolve . to finally break the glass ceiling.”
The three men attracting 2020 buzz among Democrats have high profiles for a reason: Biden ran for president twice himself before becoming vice president, while Sanders nearly bested Clinton in the primary and O’Rourke became a national phenomenon in his Senate race. Notably, for all O’Rourke’s recent cachet among the party faithful, the 46-year-old remains largely unknown to most Americans. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found that 55 percent of voters haven’t heard enough to reach a verdict on him, with 24 percent rating him favorably and 20 percent unfavorably. Harris polled similarly, with 57 percent saying they haven’t heard enough about her.
As the early stages of the campaign get underway, some key players said electability — not demographics — will be the most important factor.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has ruled out his own presidential run, put it bluntly when asked about Biden, O’Rourke, and Sanders leading the presidential conversation: “What’s wrong with white men?” White men will “probably be running things for quite a bit of time,” Brown added. “Look, it’s not the skin color, it’s who’s the right person with the right set of qualities to lead the nation.”
Gary Hirshberg, a major Democratic donor from New Hampshire, said he has “no intention of getting hung up on whether the best candidate is female, male, of color or Caucasian . and I pray that my fellow Dems avoid that trap as well.”
Niki Neems, a 51-year-old Iowa Democratic activist who caucused for Sanders over Clinton in 2016, sided with his more anti-establishment style while friends opted to elevate a woman. Looking to 2020, she’s more focused on winning than on making a statement.
“I’m for the most qualified person, not just a woman for a woman’s sake,” Neems said. “It does cause me some hesitation to think of two white men on the ticket considering the way the world is changing.”
Democratic operative Stefanie Brown James, whose Collective PAC works to support black candidates, wasn’t surprised at the chatter surrounding the “obvious choices” of Biden, Sanders and O’Rourke.
“I don’t think the times call for obvious choices,” James said. “I think it calls for a new way of doing things.”
Still, she said black female voters are “very pragmatic, so I really believe we feel as though the best person for the job should win,” whether that’s a white male candidate or a woman.
One of the Democrats most openly concerned about the early focus on male candidates, in fact, happens to be one of the female contenders.
Gillibrand told CNN this week that “yes,” she is worried by the prominence of three white men in the party’s early 2020 forecasts: “I aspire for our country to recognize the beauty of our diversity in some point in the future, and I hope someday we have a woman president.”
Ramer reported from Concord, N.H. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.
Schools shouldn’t wait for red flags to address student mental health needs
March 1, 2018
Author: Nathaniel von der Embse, Assistant Professor of School Psychology, University of South Florida
Disclosure statement: Nathaniel von der Embse receives funding from the Scattergood Foundation, Institute for Education Sciences, and the National Institute for Justice.
Partners: University of South Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
One out of every 4 or 5. That’s how many students will display a significant mental health problem over the course of their lifetime.
Such students can be identified early with considerable accuracy if educators are given the right training and tools. Unfortunately, most schools rely on reactive methods, like office discipline referrals, to figure out which students need behavioral and mental health services.
Research shows this approach of waiting until students act out in school is inefficient and leads to as many as 80 percent of those with mental health needs to fall through the cracks.
Such concerns have heightened in the wake of the Parkland high school massacre. News reports indicate the alleged shooter exhibited a number of troubling behaviors, raising questions about his mental health status and whether more could have been done to help him sooner.
To address the issue of students falling through the cracks, more schools should adopt proactive, universal screening tools.
Universal screening typically occurs three times throughout the school year: fall, winter and spring. Screeners are brief assessments that take no more than a few minutes to complete. They include approximately 20 questions and are given to each student in the elementary classroom. These tools ask students to indicate things such as “I lose my temper” or whether they are “adaptable to change.” The questions are purposefully broad and are meant to identify students who may be at risk for either internal problem behaviors, such as anxiety or depression, or external problem behaviors, such as aggression toward others. The screenings are scored and used to prioritize which students need intervention.
Screeners are typically administered without parental consent if they are embedded into the general school curriculum.
Research shows that screening tools can help educators identify students with mental health needs with far greater accuracy and speed, rather than waiting for a severe problem behavior, such as a school fight.
I developed one such tool – the Social, Academic and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener, or SAEBRS – with the help of several grants, including $1.4 million from the Institute for Educational Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education.
If society is serious about preventing severe mental and behavioral health problems, it must take a critical look at the current state of mental health supports in the nation’s schools. Doing so will bring the value of screening tools into sharper focus.
School mental health stretched thin
First, let’s consider the service provider side of the equation. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of 1 school psychologist for every 500-700 students. However, the reality is that states on average have ratios of nearly twice that amount. Simply put, schools rarely have the staff necessary for comprehensive mental health services.
Second, only a small number of students who need mental health services will receive intervention in a timely manner. Due to the amount of time that teachers spend with students, teachers are the critical link to identify which students need help and to refer students to school psychologists, counselors and social workers. The question is: Do teachers know what to look for?
Silent issues overlooked
Consider a typical elementary classroom with 30 students. Approximately 6 students, on average, will have a critical mental and behavioral health problem such as anxiety or aggression, yet less than half will receive timely intervention. Who are those students? Typically those that exhibit more outward types of problems, such as aggression, problems paying attention and disruptive behavior.
Students with harder-to-see issues, such as withdrawal, anxiety and social isolation often get overlooked and rarely receive essential services. Teachers often lack the training or tools necessary to know which students may need help, beyond those that are disruptive to instruction.
These screenings are not part of the process for comprehensive special education evaluations, so the concerns about schools having to offer special education services as a result of the screening do not come into play.
While screening tools can help identify troubled students sooner, it is important not to oversell the usefulness of these tools. To be clear, there are no research-validated tools that can reliably identify which students may commit violent acts.
Toward universal screening
Currently, less than 15 percent of schools engage in some form of behavioral or mental health screening. However, more schools are adopting universal screening.
As the developer of a screening tool, I have seen rapid adoption of the tool over the last four years from two elementary schools in rural North Carolina to hundreds of schools across 28 states. As schools consider how best to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of their students, screening can provide crucial information to guide the way.