Instead Of Earning Millions In Hollywood, He Has Saved Over 6000 Young Girls’ Lives

Ashton Kutcher may have stepped back from the Hollywood spotlight for a bit, but he’s making a huge comeback… as a humanitarian, among other things. Some famous folks use their celebrity status and visibility to bring light to issues that need attention and, in this case, Ashton has really done something amazing. Ashton has a successful acting career, as well as being an investor in successful companies, like Airbnb, Spotify and Uber.

It’s his involvement in the anti-human trafficking effort that should get all of the attention, however.

In this 2016 interview, Ashton talked to the Today show about his Netflix series The Ranch, but there was also discussion of the organization he founded with his ex-wife Demi Moore in 2008.

The organization, called Thorn, has the following goal: “to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.” In 2015, Thorn reported that 75 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed noted they were eventually “sold” online.

Asia, a survivor who talked to Thorn during a 2015 study, explained: “People are posted and sold online multiple times a day. As far as the ad that was posted up [for me], there was a girl who eerily looked like me… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price.”

Ashton explained: “Basically, the purchase and commerce for human trafficking is happening online, just like everything else now, and so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it.”

Armed with this information, Ashton noted that Thorn “built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and recover victims and find traffickers.” He added: “And we’ve found and identified and recovered over 6,000 trafficking victims this year. And we’ve found, identified, and recovered 2,000 traffickers.”

The organization’s website explains:

“We partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children.

The site also lists 20 members of what it calls The Thorn Technology Task Force, comprised of technology companies that lend their knowledge, time and resources to the work that we do.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe are listed among the names who are helping Thorn’s cause.”

The organization’s work doesn’t end, however, as Ashton noted: “Our next battle, my next commitment… I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”

Kutcher testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2017, where he gave a speech about modern day slavery, saying, in part:

“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion: ‘the right to pursue happiness.’ It’s bestowed upon all of us by our constitution. Every citizen of this country has the right to pursue it. And I believe that it is incumbent on us as citizens of this nation, as Americans, to bestow that right upon others, upon each other, and upon the rest of the world. But the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away — it’s raped, it’s abused, it’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”

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Financial Survey: Tintri

Tintri and Renren are both small-cap computer and technology companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, earnings, dividends, profitability, valuation and risk. 59.9% of Tintri shares are owned by institutional investors.

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Does the average teacher spend ‘nearly $500 a year’ on school supplies? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

This spring’s teacher walkouts have spurred renewed attention to the question of teacher pay. The topic is a serious one, warranting the extensive reportage it’s received. At times, however, the media’s progressive sympathies, the allure of hard-luck tales, and concerted PR by teachers’ unions have yielded some questionable coverage. A recent case has been the spate of stories suggesting that teachers routinely reach into their own pockets to spend extraordinary sums on classroom materials.

does the average teacher spend 500 dollars on school supplies?

@beachbumledford via Twenty20

“There is no other job I know of where the workers subsidize what should be a cost borne by an employer as a necessary ingredient of the job,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has thundered. Numerous recent stories have echoed her sentiment, repeatedly stating that the average teacher spends nearly $500 a year, unreimbursed, on school supplies. “The average teacher spends $479 a year on classroom supplies, national data show,” read a typical headline in Education Week. The Washington Post reported the same finding, in a story headlined “Teachers shelling out nearly $500 a year on school supplies, report finds.” A Time story explained, “Nearly all public school teachers report digging into their pockets to pay for school supplies, spending nearly $480 a year.”

Such claims make for attention-grabbing headlines. But, as with some of the other assertions made in the teacher-pay debate, they can be misleading. It’s less that the coverage is “wrong” than that it’s credulous and sometimes deceptive. So, let’s take a moment to clear things up.

The data in question are drawn from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, a nationally representative study of teachers and principals in public schools, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Using the survey results, NCES calculated average teacher spending for the 94 percent of teachers who said that they spent money out of pocket — excluding the 6 percent of teachers who did not report such spending, though the coverage frequently skips past that qualifier. (Including those other teachers lowers the average by about $30 a head.)

In reporting the “average” figure, news outlets have made the odd choice to focus on mean spending rather than the more typical median figure. There’s a reason most such data are reported in terms of medians (e.g., “median household income”). The median, after all, is the figure midway between the top and bottom of a distribution, meaning it represents the middle of the pack. A mean, on the other hand, can be dramatically moved by a few outliers. Including Warren Buffet or Bill Gates in a sample of average household income would make the typical household look much wealthier than it really is; similarly, a small number of teachers claiming big outlays can move the mean a lot. Indeed, NCES says that just one in five teachers reported spending more than $500, and the median teacher reported spending $297 — or about 60 percent of the widely quoted $479 figure.

Even these qualifications elide the real concern, however, which is the trouble with placing too much weight on a self-reported figure like this one. Journalists have generally ignored the problem inherent in asking respondents about how much they claim to do a good or noble thing. Self-reporting in such cases is highly susceptible to what social scientists term “social-desirability bias”: the tendency of respondents to say things that cast them (consciously or subconsciously) in a more favorable light. Studies show, for instance, that respondents substantially overestimate the number of days per week that they exercise, claim to watch the news three times as much as they actually do, and dramatically over-report their weekly worship-service attendance.

Now, let’s be clear. We are not suggesting that teachers are lying about their spending. But we are suggesting that, when teachers filled out the survey, precious few probably took the time to comb through twelve months’ worth of receipts and credit-card statements. Most of them probably guesstimated, and it’s safe to assume that their guesstimates tended to be on the high side.

We have no desire to diminish the real sacrifices many educators make, much less to deny that some teachers do indeed dig deep into their own pockets on behalf of their students. Spending even $100 or $200 per year out of pocket, especially for a teacher making $45,000 per year, is a big deal, and we don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But serious conversations about teacher pay should be informed by accurate data and careful analysis. Public deliberations about how much teachers should be paid, and whether raises ought to be funded by new taxes or cuts to other programs, are best served by reporting that meets that standard.

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Yes, there really is a tax break for upper-income graduate students and Congress won’t let it expire – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

In an earlier Evidence Speaks post this year, Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton summarized important research showing that federal tax benefits for college tuition have had no measurable impact on increasing college-going behavior.[1] Moreover, they note that the benefits are numerous, overlapping and complicated. Yet for all their flaws, these tax breaks enjoy such strong support from lawmakers that even the oddest one, which quietly expires each year, is always revived in a last-minute bill just in time for the tax filing season. The tuition and fees deduction (“the deduction”) was recently extended for a seventh time in an omnibus budget bill in February.[2] Out of all the tuition tax benefits the government offers, this one should be relatively easy to let go because of whom it unintentionally targets.

@brybree via Twenty20

Here is how the deduction works. Tax filers can deduct up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid for higher education in the tax year. It is an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning filers can claim it without having to itemize deductions. As a deduction, filers earn a benefit equal to their marginal tax rate. The maximum benefit any filer could extract from the deduction is $880, the top marginal tax rate of those who are eligible (22 percent) times $4,000. There is no limit to the number of times a filer can claim the deduction, so long as he has incurred tuition expenses, and it does not matter what type of credential he pursues. There is, however, an income limit. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers) cannot claim it.

There is nothing odd about those terms per se, but they interact with other tax benefits the government offers for tuition such that only upper-income graduate students benefit from the deduction. First, undergraduates, while eligible for the deduction, don’t claim it because a different tax credit only for undergraduates is more beneficial: the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is worth up to $2,500 in tax relief for filers earning up to $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers).[3] Tax filers can claim only one tuition tax benefit although they usually qualify for more than one. Second, graduate students with lower and middle incomes are also eligible for the deduction, but they can claim the $2,000 Lifetime Learning Credit, which almost always delivers a bigger tax break than the tuition and fees deduction.[4] But the Lifetime Learning credit has a lower income cut-off than the deduction. Those earning over $66,000 ($132,000 for joint filers) in 2017 cannot claim it.[5]

That’s how the deduction ends up targeting upper-income graduate students. While graduate students would always obtain a larger benefit from the Lifetime Learning Credit, they cannot claim it if they earn more than $66,000 ($132,000 for joint filers). They can, however, claim the deduction until their earnings exceed $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers). Thus a narrow band of graduate students, those earning between the income limits for the two benefits, are the only students who would claim the deduction. At those levels, their incomes are higher than the incomes of about 80 percent of U.S. households.[6] Of course, tax filers can unintentionally claim a less generous benefit if they are eligible for more than one, such as an undergraduate claiming the deduction when she was eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which does happen.[7]

What the data say about eligible students

Using a representative sample of graduate students in 2011-12, Kim Dancy of New America and I estimated that just 8 percent of graduate students would benefit from the deduction. Meanwhile, 64 percent of graduate students would benefit most from the Lifetime Learning Credit. The rest of graduate students (28 percent) were ineligible for any tax benefit because they have no taxable income, their tuition was fully covered by grants and scholarships, or their earnings were too high.[8] The analysis assumes that tax filers claim the benefit that provides them with the largest tax reduction if they qualify for more than one. These numbers have likely shifted in recent years, with even fewer students benefiting from the deduction, because Congress has increased the earnings cap for the Lifetime Learning Credit to account for inflation but left the limits for the deduction unchanged.

We also estimated the average benefit graduate students would claim through the deduction for the 2011-12 academic year. At $621, it was smaller than the $859 average benefit that filers eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit could claim.[9] Due to small sample sizes, however, we were unable to reliably assess important characteristics of filers eligible for the deduction, such as field of study.

The deduction didn’t start out as a graduate school tax break

As is often the case in public policy, lawmakers did not set out explicitly to provide a tax break to upper-income graduate students. In fact, graduate students were never the target group for the tuition tax breaks; undergraduates were always the focus. Although graduate students have been eligible for the tax benefits since their inception, changes to the policies over the years have left the deduction benefiting upper-income graduate students alone.

Prior to mid-1990s, the federal government did not offer widely-available tax breaks for college tuition. The idea first gained prominence when President Clinton proposed a $10,000 deduction for college tuition as part of his “Middle-Class Bill of Rights” reelection platform.[10] After critics noted that a deduction would provide more help to families in higher tax brackets, Clinton added a separate tax credit for the first two years of college to his proposal to provide more even benefits.[11] Congress adopted the president’s idea for the credit in 1997, naming it the Hope Tax Credit, but rejected the additional proposal for a $10,000 deduction. They instead replaced that proposal with a separate credit for “lifelong learning” (i.e., the Lifetime Learning Credit) that families could claim for education after the first two years of college, including graduate school.[12]

Thus, President Clinton’s original idea for a deduction and a credit was replaced with two credits, the Hope Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. In keeping with their original purpose to provide middle-class tax relief, Congress capped income eligibility for both benefits at $55,000 ($100,000 for joint filers) in 1997.[13]

With these two tax credits on the books, the idea of a deduction for tuition would be unnecessary and redundant, yet Congress later decided to add one anyway. Seemingly out of nowhere, lawmakers included a $4,000 deduction for tuition and fees in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the sweeping bill that included President Bush’s campaign proposal to cut marginal tax rates.[14]

The deduction differed from the two initial tax credits in a key way, which partially explains why lawmakers added it. Families earning up to $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers) would be eligible as of 2004. That was significantly higher than the income cutoff for the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits at the time and would therefore offer tax benefits to families with incomes arguably well above middle class. But why not just raise the income limits on the existing credits then? Because creating the new deduction was a way to restrict costs relative to expanding the existing Lifetime Learning Credit in terms of forgone revenue to the government. Recall that the value of the deduction is worth the amount deducted times the marginal tax rate, which at the time it was created would have been $1,120 at the most.[15] That is about half the maximum value of the Lifetime Learning credit.[16]

In other words, the deduction was a way to let upper-income families into the college tax benefit club on the cheap. It also ensured their benefits would be smaller than those of the middle-class families, who were eligible for the credits.

At the time it was created, the deduction was as much an undergraduate benefit as a graduate one. Upper-income families would claim it for tuition paid in pursuit of either degree. According to my analysis referenced earlier, about the same share of graduate students as undergraduates qualified for it prior to 2009.[17] But in 2009, Congress would make it pointless for almost any undergraduate to claim the deduction. That year, lawmakers replaced the Hope Credit with the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provided larger benefits than the deduction with an income cutoff even higher than the deduction. With upper-income undergraduates now qualifying for American Opportunity Tax Credit, graduate students became the only group left who could benefit from the original tuition and fees deduction.

Conclusion

While Congress never decided to directly create a special tax break for upper-income graduate students alone, opting to extend the deduction year after year is effectively the same thing. The latest one-year extension, which made the deduction available for the 2017 tax year, cost the government over $200 million in forgone revenue.[18]

At a time when an undergraduate education feels financially out of reach for so many families, it’s fair to ask why Congress continues to spend these resources on students who have already earned an undergraduate degree. Moreover, these students earn a median household income of $102,000, according to my analysis.[19] There does not appear to be a good answer to that question other than inertia. Lawmakers have always extended the benefit so they continue to extend it. They may not realize, however, that it no longer benefits undergraduate students.

All of the tax benefits may be a policy failure for not increasing enrollment or being overly complex, but at least those for undergraduates put more money in the pockets of low- and middle-income families working toward their first degree. Today, the deduction does neither. It helps those who already have an undergraduate degree and earn high incomes to boot. While its cost in terms of forgone revenue are relatively modest, those resources would be better spent on aid that encourages students to enroll in and complete an undergraduate degree.

Footnotes

[1] Sue Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton, “The Tax Benefits for Education Don’t Increase Education,” Brookings Institution, April 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-tax-benefits-for-education-dont-increase-education/.
[2] Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Public Law 115–123, § 40203 (2018).
[3] Internal Revenue Service, “Instructions for Form 8863, Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits) (2017),” https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8863.pdf.
[4] There are some circumstances when the deduction might produce a larger benefit than the Lifetime Learning Credit if a filer paid tuition and fees below $4,000 and he is in the highest tax bracket of those eligible for the deduction. For example, a filer in the 22% tax bracket who deducts $3,000 in expenses receives a $660 tax reduction; under the Lifetime Learning credit his benefit would be $600.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Author’s calculation using the American Community Survey, 2016.
[7] Government Accountability Office, “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College,” May 2012, https://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590970.pdf
[8] Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015, 6–7, https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/graduate-students-and-tuition-tax-benefits.pdf.
[9] Author’s calculation using the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 2011–12. See also Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015.
[10] William J. Clinton, “Address to the Nation on the Middle Class Bill of Rights,” December 15, 1997, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=49591.
[11] Douglas Lederman, “The Politicking and Policy Making Behind a $40-Billion Windfall: How Clinton, Congress, and Colleges Battled to Shape Hope Scholarships,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 28, 1997.
[12] Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Public Law 105–34 § 201 (1997).
[13] Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Public Law 105–34 § 101 (1997).
[14] Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Public Law 107–16 § 431 (2001).
[15] The top marginal tax rate for filers eligible for the deduction was 28 percent in the mid 2000s.
[16] See endnote 4. for an explanation of how sometimes when tuition and fees are below $4,000, tax filers can qualify for a larger tax reduction through the deduction than if the Lifetime Learning Credit.
[17] Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “A New Look at Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, November 2015, https://static.newamerica.org/attachments/10416-a-new-look-at-tuition-tax-benefits/TaxCredits11.2.277d3f7daa014d5a8632090f97641cee.pdf; and Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015, 6–7, https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/graduate-students-and-tuition-tax-benefits.pdf.
[18] Joint Committee on Taxation, “Federal Tax Provisions Expired in 2017” (JCX-5-18), March 9, 2018.
[19] Author’s calculation using the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 2011–12. See also Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015.

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Researchers discover 900 new methane seeps off the Oregon coast near the Cascadia Subduction Zone

For the past two years, scientists from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have surveyed the Pacific Northwest near-shore region mapping sites where underwater bubble streams signify methane gas is being released from the seafloor. And what they have found is eye-opening. Since the first evidence of underwater methane was discovered in the late 1980s, only about 100 “seep sites” had been identified along the Northwest coast through 2015. They often were discovered by accident, when fishermen would spot anomalies on their fish-finders that turned out to be acoustic reflections of the bubbling methane gas. But over the past two years the scientists-aided by new sonar technology on the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, owned and operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust-have purposefully gone seeking evidence of underwater methane and have expanded the total number of offshore seep emission sites to a whopping 1,000 locations. It is not yet clear whether the methane presents an opportunity for a new source of energy or a potentially serious environmental threat, but for now the researchers want to map the distribution of the sites and conduct research on the composition and sources of the gas. They believe they will discover new methane seeps this summer when they utilize several research vessels to conduct additional mapping off the Northwest coast.

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American Values Prove Stubbornly Resistant to Gun Control Opportunism

American Gun Quilt Flag
American Values Prove Stubbornly Resistant to Gun Control Opportunism

Fairfax, VA – -(Ammoland.com)- Social justice busybodies obsessed with how other people live their lives often portray the success of their causes as a matter of destiny.

“The young people will win,” insists one youthful gun control advocate, falsely portraying his personal crusade as a generational mandate. Yet recent events have demonstrated that bedrock American values – including support for the Second Amendment – tend to outlast moments of high emotion that are increasingly relied upon by political opportunists to advance their agenda.

Given the chance to collect their thoughts, most Americans instinctively revert to freedom.

We recently commented on this point with reference to poll numbers that show a familiar pattern of gun control support spiking in the immediate aftermath of an infamous firearm-related crime, only to taper off as the punditry aims its fury in another direction or overplays its hand and is forced to regroup.

Since then, additional evidence has arisen to complicate the media’s breathless narrative that “the ground is shifting on gun control.”

First, more recent poll numbers underscore the fact that Americans, including young Americans, recognize that the country has far more pressing problems than rushing to enact unproven gun control measures.

The Associated Press and MTV, for example, teamed up this year to measure the “Youth Political Pulse,” with surveys conducted from late February to early March (when the news cycle was focused on the terrible crime at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) and again from late April to early May. Between the survey periods, the percentage of respondents aged 15 to 34 who identified firearm-related issues as their highest concern for the country fell 15 points, from 21% to 6%. During the earlier survey period, the gun issue was the highest concern. In the latter period, it was tied for the sixth most common response, behind the economy, social inequality, and even threat of nuclear war.

Moreover, a week after a similar crime in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18, support for gun control in the Lone Star State had actually dropped 6% since April, as measured by Quinnipiac University polling. Support for stricter gun laws was also lower in the May sample among those aged 18 to 34 than among those 65 or older, another inversion of the conventional wisdom that youth are destined to change the national debate on this question.

A Quinnipiac analyst opined: “The tragedy at the Santa Fe school south of Houston changed few opinions among Texas voters about gun control. Support for gun control in general is down slightly, while support for background checks for all gun buyers is virtually unchanged.”

Adding to the gun control advocates’ woes were the release of data and studies that contradicted their claims of a rising epidemic of school shootings fueled by easy access to so-called “assault weapons.”

The website The74Million.org, which describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America,” published a lengthy interview in May with Criminologist Nadine Connell of the University of Texas at Dallas, who’s compiling a database of every school shooting since 1990. The piece underscored Connell’s findings that “school shootings are extremely rare” and that allowing them to drive policy isn’t “always the most productive” way to keep students safe.

Connell indicated that “from the perspective of policymaking,” the media’s current reporting on school shootings can be misleading.

“[A]s of now,” she said, “we don’t think there is an increase in the number of incidents as much as there is an increase in the attention to the incidents.” She also stressed that “the number of rampage-like incidents remains extremely low, and they are a relatively small subsection of the shootings we are analyzing.” Schools, Connell said, “are the safest they’ve ever been.”

While Connell indicated in the interview that she is not a fan of arming teachers, she also declined to put gun control at the center of the debate. When asked what would be the “most effective method to stop the lion’s share of the problem,” she emphasized “whole-school-centered approaches to improve climate, clarify expectations, and support teachers and administrators in creating a community of trust and support.” She also noted that the “environmental design” of schools can play an important role in keeping kids safe without making them feel like they are under siege.

Can Mass Shootings be Stopped?

Perhaps more even more ironic was a May 22 report from the Rockefeller Institute that was funded by a multi-state “Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium” representing a who’s-who of Northeastern antigun jurisdictions. Entitled “Can Mass Shootings be Stopped?” the report broadly focuses on mass shootings in general, rather than on school-specific events.

Like Connell, however, the authors mentioned media distortion as an impediment to understanding the true nature of the problem.

“Mass shootings, and those that are particularly lethal, are amplified by the news cycle, making them appear more commonplace when they are, in fact, statistically rare,” they stated. They also characterized the media’s coverage of the events as “unbalanced,” potentially leading the public to “hold disproportional attitudes about the events themselves.”

The report made the points that mass shootings are not limited to the U.S. but “occur in countries worldwide,” are nearly three times more likely to be perpetrated with handguns than with “assault weapons,” and occur more frequently in workplaces than in schools. Also likely to displease its funders is the report’s observation that gun control laws, whether passed in the immediate wake of a mass shooting or kept on the books for decades “often are not enforced, leading them to be ineffective at preventing the next mass shooting.” But perhaps most damning of all was the authors’ admonition that “[k]nee-jerk reactions rooted in emotion will not solve the problem.”

Mass Shooting School Gun Laws Bans
But perhaps most damning of all was the authors’ admonition that “[k]nee-jerk reactions rooted in emotion will not solve the problem.”

Yet that is exactly how gun control advocates operate and what they offer. Whatever can be said about the youthful gun control activists who have captured so much of the media’s attention lately, they are among the prime purveyors of emotionalism and hyperbole. And far from bringing innovative new thinking to the issue, their main “solution” is the tired notion of banning guns that are underrepresented in rampage gun crimes and remain highly popular among the law-abiding. Instead of treating every word out of their mouths as some new game-changing revelation, their gun control seniors should remind them that “assault weapon” bans had until recently been de-emphasized as an embarrassment to the movement and too obvious of its prohibitory intent.

Unlike the latest gun control hashtag or self-congratulatory Hollywood vanity project, the National Rifle Association has been around since 1871. We’ve seen movements come, and we’ve seen movements go. And while we never doubt the sincerity of our opposition in their desire to eradicate the right to keep and bear arms, we’re not about to change our values or objectives just because some media talking heads or youth-obsessed celebrities begin making demands or throwing around half-baked claims.

Fortunately, the American commitment to freedom also remains strong and resilient. And freedom-loving Americans know they have an ally in the NRA.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

About:
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

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Poll: More Americans Hold Liberal Views on Moral Issues

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans hold highly permissive views on top moral issues, including same-sex relations, having a baby outside of marriage, sex outside of marriage, and divorce. The survey further showed that these views have shifted dramatically more to the left since the early 2000s.

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Do you like your name? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” So said Dale Carnegie in his 1936 self-improvement classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” That is probably true for a majority of the population — 79 percent like their names, according to a 2013 survey of 1,844 respondents.

Unfortunately, I am in the other 21 percent. I cringe a little whenever I hear someone say my name, and have ever since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is of a lady in a department store asking me my name and bursting out laughing when I said, “Arthur.”

Before you judge that lady, let’s acknowledge that it is actually pretty amusing to meet a little kid with an old man’s name. According to the Social Security Administration, “Arthur” maxed out in popularity back in the ’90s. That is, the 1890s. It has fallen like a rock in popularity since then. I was named after my grandfather, and even he complained that his name made him sound old. Currently, “Arthur” doesn’t even crack the top 200 boys’ names. Since 2013, it has been beaten in popularity by “Maximus” (No. 200 last year) and “Maverick” (No. 85).

One thing I constantly hear from people I meet for the first time is, “I imagined you as being much older.” I don’t take this as flattery, because at 54, I’m really not that young. What they are saying is that they imagined someone about 100 years old. Why? Because people actually tend to look like their names.

In a study last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers placed images of unfamiliar faces in front of participants and asked them to guess the person’s name from a list of four plausible-seeming names. The participants should have guessed correctly 25 percent of the time. Instead, they got it right 38 percent of the time. The researchers found similar results across eight studies.

In case you are wondering, this fact and others make up part of an entire field called “onomastics.” Onomasticians, who are trained in various scholarly subdisciplines, study proper names, and many of their results are fascinating. One of my favorite onomastic studies comes from the economist David Figlio, who found that boys with more feminine-sounding names tend to misbehave disproportionately upon entry to middle school compared with boys with more traditionally masculine names. So if your son is in trouble after beating up another kid, it’s probably your own fault for naming him “Robin.” (His victim is probably named “Arthur,” by the way.)

Another finding of note, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2002, is that people gravitate toward places of residence and occupations that resemble their own names. So, the researchers assert, a higher proportion of men named Louis live in St. Louis than would occur at random, and a lot of people named Dennis or Denise become dentists. It had never occurred to me that there were dark forces at work making me into Arthur the author. It all makes sense now.

One way to attenuate the impact of a name you don’t like is to marry someone with a name that somehow offsets yours — in my case, someone with a name that is a little more up-to-date. But I did the opposite: I married Ester. This was a pretty common name in her native Barcelona in the 1960s, but here in America it mostly predates World War I. To make matters worse, after we married, our first home was Boca Raton, Fla. We were aggressively pursued by telemarketers for burial plots and Medigap insurance.

I once heard that to have an aversion to a name is a condition called “nomomisia.” I suppose you would say I suffer from autonomomisia. Yes, I am an autonomomisist.

Still, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Like everything else in life, it could be a lot worse. Years ago, my mother and I were talking about all this. I asked her about her second choice for my name. How about David? “David Brooks” has a nice ring to it. After all, “David” was the second most popular boys’ name the decade I was born and was also my beloved father’s name. She thought about it for a minute and said, “Well, we thought about naming you Chester.”

You know, on second thought, Arthur’s not so bad.

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Poll: majority of Americans approve of NFL kneeling ban

Just this morning I was musing over the new kneeling ban in the NFL and what led to the outpouring of anger from fans. While mulling that over, I concluded that the new policy likely wouldn’t make much of a difference at this point because too much water has passed under the bridge. But a new survey released by SurveyMonkey this week provides at least a hint that I may have been wrong. After a lot of bad polling days for the league, a solid majority of respondents are now saying that they support the new policy.

Americans—and especially NFL fans—are supportive of the league’s recently-announced policy to fine teams whose players kneel on the field during the national anthem. More than half of adults in the U.S. (54 percent) say they approve of the policy, while just 43 percent disapprove. Among those who call themselves NFL fans, 56 percent approve and 42 percent disapprove. Drilling down even further, “big fans” of the NFL approve by a margin of 59-40.

More than four in 10 people (42 percent) say that kneeling during the national anthem “is not related to patriotism.” Nearly as many (41 percent) say that kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic–almost three times more than the number of respondents who think it is patriotic (14 percent).

A majority of people (55 percent) say it is fair for teams to be fined for a player’s actions. About as many (57 percent) say that the ability for players to stay inside the locker room during the national anthem rather than kneeling on the field is a fair compromise.

You can read the full results here. There are several clear demographic breaks in the responses. Democrats were far less impressed with the new policy, with 65% disapproving and 67% saying it would be unfair to fine the teams for the actions of the players. But 81% of Republicans approved, with only 19% disapproving.

The racial divide was almost equally stark, with whites approving at a rate of 59% while only 38% of blacks do. That may still prove troubling for the league since an even more interesting question had to do with who considers themselves fans or “big fans” of football. 68% of black respondents said they were fans, while 53% of whites did.

With all that in mind, I have to wonder if the plan among some players which Allahpundit reported on the other day will have much of an effect. If any significant number of starters who will have a real impact on their teams’ prospects decide to “sit out” the games until Kaepernick and Eric Reid are signed, how would the fans of their individual teams respond? I know that if any of the Jets’ starters decided to do that and reduce our already comically low shot at a Super Bowl ring even further, I’d be pretty ticked off at the players, not the league. But then again, am I in the minority there? From the looks of this poll, I’m guessing I’m not.

Anyway, that’s just some recent polling for you to mull over until the preseason kicks off. (Assuming it actually does.)

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