Daily Archives: August 29, 2019

E Pluribus Unum?

The Fight Over Identity Politics
By Stacey Y. Abrams; John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck; Jennifer A. Richeson; and Francis Fukuyama – Recent political upheavals have reinvigorated a long-running debate about the role of identity in American politics—and especially American elections. Electoral politics have long been a lagging indicator of social change. For hundreds of years, the electorate was limited by laws that explicitly deprived women, African Americans, and other groups of the right to vote. (Efforts to deny voting rights and suppress voter turnout continue today, in less overt forms but with the same ill intent.)

When marginalized groups finally gained access to the ballot, it took time for them to organize around opposition to the specific forms of discrimination and mistreatment that continued to plague them—and longer still for political parties and candidates to respond to such activism.

In recent decades, however, rapid demographic and technological changes have accelerated this process, bolstering demands for inclusion and raising expectations in communities that had long been conditioned to accept a slow pace of change. In the past decade, the U.S. electorate has become younger and more ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, social media has changed the political landscape.

The marginalized did not create identity politics: their identities have been forced on them by dominant groups, and politics is the most effective method of revolt.

To seek redress and inclusion, the first step is to identify the barriers to entry: an array of laws and informal rules to proscribe, diminish, and isolate the marginalized.

The specific methods by which the United States has excluded women, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community from property ownership, educational achievement, and political enfranchisement have differed; so, too, have the most successful methods of fighting for inclusion—hence the need for a politics that respects and reflects the complicated nature of these identities and the ways in which they intersect.

The basis for sustainable progress is legal protections grounded in an awareness of how identity has been used to deny opportunity. more>

Related>

Anatomy of an oversight investigation: White House security clearances

By Isabella Gelfand and Jackson Gode – Since regaining the majority in January, House Democrats have been conducting oversight of the Trump administration on issues ranging from family separation at the border to the rollback of environmental regulations. While the policy areas addressed by these investigations are diverse, House committees often apply the same tools to perform oversight. As Congress attempts to exert influence on the White House in hopes of obtaining information, Trump administration officials continue to utilize several tactics of their own to stall the process.

As part of its mandate to conduct oversight of “the operation of Government activities at all levels,” the House Oversight and Reform Committee is frequently engaged in conflicts with the executive branch over information access. One such clash during the 116th Congress has involved the White House security clearance process, which came under fire when media reports indicated that the administration allowed individuals to operate under interim security clearances for extended periods and ignored concerns raised by intelligence officials. Here, we outline the ongoing security clearance investigation and use it to highlight a set of common steps in the oversight process.

When conducting oversight, members of Congress have several tools at their disposal. Most notably, they can request documents, call witnesses to testify, issue subpoenas, and hold individuals in contempt of Congress for noncompliance. Oversight investigations are often initiated by an official request for information, usually in the form of a letter written by a committee chair to an executive branch official. The chair uses this correspondence to ask for documents and/or to invite a witness to give testimony before the committee. more>

Updates from ITU

Meet your virtual avatar: the future of personalized healthcare
ITU News – Tingly? Sharp? Electric? Dull? Pulsing?

Trying to describe a pain you feel to your doctor can be a difficult task. But soon, you won’t have to: a computer avatar is expected to tell your doctor everything they need to know.

The CompBioMed Centre of Excellence, an international consortium of universities and industries, is developing a program that creates a hyper-personalized avatar or ‘virtual human’ using a supercomputer-generated simulation of an individual’s physical and biomedical information for clinical diagnostics.

There is a rapid and growing need for this kind of technology-enabled healthcare. 12 million people who seek outpatient medical care in the U.S. experience some form of diagnostic error. Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that there will be a global shortage of 12.9 million healthcare workers by 2035.

Greater access to technology-enabled healthcare will allow doctors to make better and faster diagnoses – and provide the tools to collect the necessary data.

The Virtual Human project combines different kinds of patient data that are routinely generated as part of the current healthcare system, such as x-rays, CAT scans or MRIs to create a personalized virtual avatar. more>

Related>

Do you live in a ‘soft city’? Here’s why you probably want to

By Eillie Anzilotti – Imagine yourself sitting in your home. What’s right outside your front door, and what’s within a 10-minute walk of it? Can you make it to a grocery store or a café on foot, or do you have to drive? Is there a shared space nearby, a park or a patio, where you can mingle with the people who live around you? Do you often see people out and about, or do your neighbors mostly stay inside? What about the street: Is it filled with only cars, or do you see people biking and taking transit? Do you feel safe walking on the sidewalk that lines your front door (if there even is a sidewalk)? Are there places to sit along it?

It’s just a sample of the kinds of questions that preoccupy David Sim, creative director and partner at Gehl. Based in Copenhagen, Gehl has long pioneered the idea of human-centered urban design. Rather than thinking about cities as a collection of buildings and impressive developments, designers like Sim thinks about them as a series of relationships: between people and place, people and planet, and people and other people. “The starting point is not a big, architectural urban idea—it’s about being a little human being, and how can you connect that human being to as many experiences as possible,” he says.

Good cities, from Sim’s perspective, are ones that make these connections possible. They can look different and exist in different contexts, but they share an overarching and essential quality, which Sim calls “softness”—a stark contrast to the rhetoric of “grind” and “harshness” that’s often applied to urban life. more>