2019
September
20
Friday

Today’s stories examine public ambivalence about impeachment, protests against Hungary’s “patriotic” education reforms, scientists uniting people around climate change, intensive grandparenting, and dogs, inmates, and second chances.

She was an older mom getting on the T, Boston’s subway and trolley system, with her teenage son. “Why don’t you sit with me?” she asked. He said nothing and found another seat. “He’s at that stage,” she sighed. It turns out, though, that mother and son are united on one issue: climate change. They were headed to the local climate change strike where her son undoubtedly found good company. Students from around the country skipped school so they could join the worldwide protest on the eve of a U.N. climate summit.

Ditto for international kids from Hong Kong and Melbourne to Delhi, Athens, Paris, and the suburbs of Kampala, Uganda (#KeepMamaAfricaGreen). Inspired by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, a teen who herself had been skipping school on Fridays to protest, these students wanted their message heard.

It’s tempting to say this new wave of protesters is more committed to battling climate change than older generations are. But a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of roughly 600 teens and 2,300 adults offers a more nuanced view: On most climate questions, parents and teens are remarkably in sync. Where do they differ? Teens are more willing to trust the science and more eager for action: 3 in 4 say the U.S. is doing too little.

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1. To impeach or not? Here’s why Democrats have been keeping things fuzzy.

To many Democrats, impeachment looks like the moral high road. But the public at large is divided on this sensitive issue. That goes a long way toward explaining leaders’ mixed signals.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California meets with reporters in Washington on Sept. 12, 2019, just after the House Judiciary Committee approved guidelines for impeachment hearings. She said "we will follow the facts ... and make our decision when we’re ready."

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A new impeachment divide is emerging: Not only are Democrats deeply split over whether President Donald Trump ought to be impeached, they can’t agree on whether they have, in fact, already begun the process.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains a voice of restraint. “If we have to go there, we’ll have to go there,” she said last Thursday, even as the House Judiciary Committee held what some are calling an “impeachment hearing” this week.

To many in the party’s base, impeachment is simply the right thing to do for a Congress that is already one of the most distrusted institutions in American society. But politically, Democrats are in a bind. While 70% of Democrats want Congress to start proceedings, most voters – more than 60% – either aren’t sold or don’t have an opinion, according to one recent poll. And it would be easier for Republicans to attack Democrats on impeachment than on being indecisive.

“Confusion is not memorable. Impeachment is,” says Capri Cafaro, a former Democratic Ohio state senator now at American University.

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To impeach or not? Here’s why Democrats have been keeping things fuzzy.

Among Democrats in Congress, a new impeachment divide is emerging: Not only do they remain deeply split over whether President Donald Trump ought to be impeached, they can’t agree on whether they have, in fact, already begun the process.

As the various investigations, hearings, and court battles heat up,  Democratic leaders seem unable to decide whether it’s all still a prelude – or if an “impeachment investigation,” as House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler of New York now terms it, is actually underway. 

“If we have to go there, we’ll have to go there,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her weekly press briefing last Thursday. “But we can’t go there unless we have the facts, and we will follow the facts ... and make our decision when we’re ready.”

A day later, Congressman Nadler told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that his committee was “involved in an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the House.”

“I think there’s definitely some confusion because people are using different language,” David Cicilline of Rhode Island, another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told Newsweek this week. 

To critics, the disarray is making Democrats appear indecisive or even incompetent. Some say it could undermine them in federal court, where they’ve got several cases against Mr. Trump and the Justice Department.

Others suggest the mixed messaging is just the party’s best way of navigating what increasingly appears to be a no-win political situation. It keeps the progressive base, the wing of the party most clamoring for impeachment, at bay without alienating swing voters who are unenthusiastic about the prospect. And it lets the party signal that they are concerned about the president’s actions without leaving them too vulnerable to the kind of backlash actual impeachment proceedings might bring. 

“Confusion is not memorable. Impeachment is,” says Capri Cafaro, a former Democratic Ohio state senator who’s now an executive in residence at American University. “[They’re] making the calculus that it’s better to take the risk of looking, in the short term, disorganized and not on the same page, in order to try to walk this fine line.” 

It’s hardly a grand strategy, and leadership can’t keep it going forever. But they don’t have to, Ms. Cafaro says. They just need to keep the balancing act going until the 2020 elections effectively take the issue off the table for them. 

‘Apprehensive’ no matter what

Indeed, Democrats’ bind in many ways reflects how the politics of impeachment are inextricably linked to the 2020 campaign. If they move now to impeach the president, and wind up losing the election, they will almost certainly be blamed. If they don’t move toward impeachment, and lose the election, they will likely be blamed as well. On the other hand, if they win the election, then impeachment might be seen as unnecessary, anyway.

“It’s not something where there’s a consensus about how this turns out, and that tends to favor the status quo,” says Alex Theodoridis, a political science professor at the University of California, Merced, and former chief of staff at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “The assumptions that politicians have made before have been shown to be incorrect, at least as it pertains to Trump. That makes Democrats even more apprehensive about whatever choices they make.”

Part of the problem is that Democrats are probing a wide range of potentially impeachable offenses, including allegations of obstruction of justice and financial self-dealing. And there’s no consensus yet on what, if anything, they need to focus on if they were to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.

Then there’s the threat of political fallout. While 70% of Democrats want Congress to start proceedings, most voters – more than 60% – either aren’t sold or don’t have an opinion, according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.

It’s likely party leaders are considering how many voters they might lose in that 60% bloc – and how much it might energize Mr. Trump’s supporters – if they formally announce impeachment proceedings, Professor Theodoridis says. Certainly, it would be easier for Republicans to attack Democrats on impeachment than on being indecisive.

But there’s also a case to be made against a hard “no” to impeachment. The party’s progressive wing is small but vocal, and could be a formidable force in the primaries. Already at least five prominent committee chairs – including Congressman Nadler – are facing serious primary challenges in 2020, The Daily Beast reported this week. 

The view from the base

If Mr. Trump wins in 2020 after Democrats choose not to pursue impeachment, they could face serious consequences from their base for a long time. “Democrats will not be able to say they gave their best effort against Trump when they didn’t use the one tool they really have,” says Erin O’Brien, chair of the political science department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

To many in the party’s base, politics are beside the point: impeachment is simply the right thing to do. Congress already holds the dubious honor of being one of the most distrusted institutions in American society. Some 80% of Americans think members of Congress act unethically all or some of the time, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. If Democrats don’t pursue impeachment, they may be seen as ceding one of Congress’ main jobs – oversight – in favor of a political agenda.

“These are equal branches and, at best, we can see that there are questionable acts that should be investigated,” Professor O’Brien says. Voters want to see “some honor in Washington,” she adds. “To see politicians willing to do something, even if it might hurt their election concerns.”

Of course, Republicans are just as likely to see it as a co-opting of the Constitution for partisan purposes – especially if Democrats fail to get any meaningful GOP support for impeachment proceedings.

So far, this stew of potential outcomes has led to some surface movement among Democrats. But nothing suggests a meaningful shift from the current situation.

One first step

The Judiciary Committee’s vote last Thursday approving the procedures for an impeachment probe was just that – a vote on the rules that would guide impeachment proceedings. It didn’t recommend a full House vote on the matter, which historically has been how Congress begins an official impeachment inquiry. The move added some formality to the investigation, but didn’t really change the political dynamics behind it. 

The committee’s first big “impeachment hearing,” held Tuesday and featuring testimony by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi, ended in much the same way, despite the skilled questioning by attorney and Democratic consultant Barry Berke. 

“It’s more extensive pageantry,” says Ms. Cafaro.

Some say this state of affairs is the result of the party’s inaction after the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. “Democrats were handed a pretty rich hand and they did nothing with it,” Professor O’Brien says. Now, with 2020 on the horizon, they’re forced to tread water – and getting politically outplayed. “I don’t think they’re playing a good long game.” 

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2. Does Hungary education reform mean more patriotism, but less democracy?

What youth learn can shape their country's destiny, so national curricula are hotly contested. But Hungary's government is pushing patriotism over critical thought, to the frustration of teachers and parents.

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As Prime Minister Viktor Orbán solidifies his grip on Hungary, education has become a key battlefield, as his government pushes for a curriculum seemingly based on patriotism rather than critical thinking. “Everybody has to have the basic physical, mental, and spiritual ability to protect the nation,” he said in July. “The national curriculum must teach this.”

The curriculum has been revised twice to that end, first in 2018, and again now. But the changes have been made in an atmosphere of secrecy denounced by parents and educational professionals. With the revisions has come uncertainty among parents over what their children will be taught and distress among underpaid teachers over how much freedom they can exercise in their classrooms.

Textbooks are a prime example. Within the European Union, the Hungarian state stands out for exercising the greatest control over the content of school books, says Péter Kereszty, head of the national association of school book producers. “Controlling this market and turning it into a state monopoly violates the right of free publishing, which is a basic right in a democracy.”

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1. Does Hungary education reform mean more patriotism, but less democracy?

The debate over what students should be taught is universal – and politically fraught. Witness the arguments in the United States over the presentation of history in Texas textbooks.

But as the issue’s prominence has ebbed in the United States in recent years, it has flared up elsewhere – especially in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been solidifying his grip on the country. Education has become a key battlefield, as his government pushes for a curriculum seemingly based on patriotism rather than critical thinking.

Textbooks are a prime example. The official state list of private publisher books that could be ordered by schools following the national school curriculum has witnessed a dramatic decline in the last five years. One of the largest private publishing houses, Mozaik, saw government approved titles for classroom use drop from 335 in 2015 to just 21 in 2019. What is left are mostly foreign language titles.

Roughly 1 in 2 school books came from private publishing houses in 2015. Now it is less than 1 in 3, covering primarily computer science, physical education, German, and English – topics where the state is absent. The state publishes more than 90% of the books related to Hungarian art, literature, and music, according to data compiled by Tanosz, the national association of school book producers.

Within the European Union, the Hungarian state stands out for exercising the greatest control over the content of school books and has become the biggest producer of academic content in the national market, says Péter Kereszty, head of the national association of school book producers. “Schoolbooks are a good mirror of the the condition and quality of the education system of a country,” he says. “Controlling this market and turning it into a state monopoly violates the right of free publishing, which is a basic right in a democracy.”

And the changes to Hungarian textbooks are just one facet of the education reforms the government has in mind for this academic year. With them has come uncertainty among parents over what their children will be taught; distress among underpaid teachers over how much freedom they can exercise in their classrooms; and anxiety among private publishers who are being squeezed out of the market.

Patriotism and democracy

Centralized education stirs up bad memories for many Hungarians who associate state control with the communist period under Soviet rule in which the ruling party’s view colored all aspects of life. Some of the most valued reforms after Hungary regained full sovereignty in 1989 were freedoms of speech, press, and education.

“Before the changes [in 1989], there was one state book with one ideology and then came freedom,” recalls László Miklósi, president of Hungary’s history teachers association.

But that has reverted as Mr. Orbán has pushed forward with his effort to reshape Hungary into an “illiberal democracy.” The prime minister has said that the next generation must be prepared to repel attacks from “two fronts,” an allusion to East and West. “We know how to make it clear to our children that protecting the nation is a task that all of us have to take part in,” he said in July. “Everybody has to have the basic physical, mental, and spiritual ability to protect the nation. ... The national curriculum must teach this.”

The national curriculum has been revised twice to that end, first in 2018. It is being revised again this year after Mr. Orbán deemed its content not “patriotic” enough. But the changes have been made in an atmosphere of secrecy denounced by parents and educational professionals. The government declined to provide someone to answer questions about the motivations for its curriculum changes, the extent of which will likely be made public in November.

Critics are alarmed that Mihály Takaró, a professor of literature whose writings have been criticized by many of his peers for the inclusion of anti-Semitic or pro-Nazi overtones, will be included in the nationalistic update.

“Not only is he impossible to cope with morally, professionally he is not okay,” says Mr. Miklósi. “There is no question that if someone like this is included, it was decided at the highest level. ... The teachers usually stay silent, like the people. Face-to-face they will say, ‘This is not good,’ but they don’t say anything too loudly.”

Once colorful textbooks are increasingly giving way to monochromatic texts full of errors that Mr. Miklósi has to fight to get reviewed, let alone fixed.

One correction he fought for was a textbook exercise contrasting the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 with a speech by Mr. Orbán. The Hungarian premier extolled the merits of a homogeneous society and argued that countries that were former colonial powers should bear the brunt of the refugee burden.

“The prime minister gave his opinion on an issue that is very debatable,” says Mr. Miklósi. “The book had no sources that allow you to doubt or debate this option. The child’s thinking cannot deviate from the words of the prime minister. The child had to explain why the prime minister is right.”

The correction replaced the exercise’s leading question with an open one.

Loaded questions, scandalous sentences, and mistakes are only a fraction of his concerns. What truly worries him is that the curriculum packs in so much in terms of quantity – myriads of facts that need to be packed into the lesson plan – that real teaching, based on back and forth questions with opportunities for discussion and debate, is impossible.

The goal? “An obedient citizen,” he says.

“I don’t want the state to run the life of my children”

Meanwhile, the new education law has further boosted government control over what state school teachers present in their classrooms. It raises the prospect of professional dismissal if any activity is held at the schools that “endangers the children.” The well-understood is subtext: Don’t invite nongovernmental organizations focused on human rights, LGBTQ issues, or migrant communities – anything the government could deem unfit for a Christian Hungary.

The law also restricts under what circumstances students may attend private schools, alternative schools, and homeschooling – options sought out by wealthier parents who are worried about the low quality and lack of freedom at state schools. It also does away with school administration consultations, which are meant to ensure a minimum parent and teacher input on education.

Finally it boosts state support for religious schools at the expense of other schools, allowing church-run schools to play a larger role in the creation of academic content. While an average state school receives $183 per student to spend over the academic year, a church school receives almost four times more, according to Hungary’s central statistics office.

Some parents in online forums object to religion spilling into other subjects – for example, an exercise found in the fifth grade patriotism class that asks children if they are Christian, and if not, tells them to ask their parents why. This, parents and educators point out, flies in the face of a constitution that still upholds separation of state and church.

The education reforms have spurred a series of protests involving parents, teachers, and students in front of Hungary’s parliament in Budapest. “I don’t want education that is remote-controlled from the center,” said Monika Pal, one of the parents who showed up to support one student-led demonstration, which was small but lively by Hungarian standards. “They are taking away the autonomy of parents, teachers, and children.”

“I don’t want the state to run the life of my children,” said Zsuzsa, a private tutor at the demonstration, who asked that her last name be withheld because of potential repercussions on her professional life. “The middle-class people can find their way to avoid [government controls], but those who are very poor and disadvantaged have to just suffer the system.”

“We have to open the minds of our children and not let the state get away with limiting their thinking behind the closed doors of the classroom,” says Ms. Pal. “Politics have no place in school.”

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3. How these scientists are uniting the world around climate change

Climate change heeds no borders. But when it comes to climate science, political boundaries matter. In the French Alps, scientists from all over the world are rallying around a global vision for the future.

James Clark arrived at the foot of the French Alps in the midst of a historic heat wave. It was a fitting welcome, given his work. The Duke University professor is one of 43 scientists who are relocating their climate research to France as part of the “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative, or MOPGA. 

Launched by France in response to America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, MOPGA aims to draw top scientists from around the world to conduct climate-related research in French and German labs. But despite its name, MOPGA is about much more than politics. For participants like Professor Clark, it’s a chance to think long-term about Earth’s future with a level of support they have not felt in the United States. “You have very smart people all over the country who have almost no research budgets,” he says. “This is a trend that’s been going on for decades.”

More than half of the incoming scientists, or MOPGA laureates, were previously based in the U.S. So far, the program is relatively small. But it’s meant to become something big. “We are quite sure the program will have a snowball effect,” says MOPGA scientific coordinator Stéphane Blanc. “And what’s put in place will lead to different programs.” 

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4. Beyond birthday cards and hugs: The rise of intensive grandparenting

For a generation that is supposed to be kicking back, grandparents are increasingly involved in child care. What might that mean for the evolution of retirement?

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Judy Dion enjoys taking long strolls with her infant grandson and marveling at his every gurgle and giggle. As his regular caregiver two days a week, Ms. Dion has more such moments to look forward to. Like her, many grandparents today are providing what’s called “intensive grandparenting”: caring regularly for their grandchildren, and often to a higher degree than in previous generations.

Demographic and cultural changes play a role. Rising numbers of single mothers and working mothers are a contributor, as is lack of government support such as guaranteed paid parental leave and access to affordable, high-quality child care. Now 7% of all grandparents are raising grandchildren full time, in many cases due to parents harmed by the opioid and mental health crises in the United States.

Researchers say these caregivers do experience joy in their roles, but there are stresses, such as juggling their own jobs. Sociologist Madonna Harrington Meyer says checking in regularly and showing lots of love help smooth relationships. “What was very clear to me is that even when grandparents were providing a great deal of care, if they felt appreciated and cared for, there was much less stress.”

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Beyond birthday cards and hugs: The rise of intensive grandparenting

On Sunday evenings or in the wee hours of Monday morning, Judy Dion hops in her car and drives 78 miles to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her daughter and son-in-law live with their five-month old – Ms. Dion’s first grandchild. She watches her grandson for two days before heading back home to her part-time job and volunteer work on Cape Cod.

The parents were “talking about nannies, and it was going to be very expensive,” says Ms. Dion. “I said, ‘You know, my grandmother lived with us when I was growing up and I will always treasure those memories. ... I can’t be there every single day because it’s too far, but can I be a part of this nannying?’ ”

Her offer was readily accepted. Ms. Dion now enjoys taking long strolls with her grandson and marveling at his every gurgle and giggle. “Every week is different and it’s so precious,” she says.

But there are trade-offs. Time for her own needs diminished. She didn’t exactly picture what overnights in her daughter’s small downtown condo would be like, either.

Like Ms. Dion, many grandparents today are providing this “intensive grandparenting,” as it’s called by sociologists: caring regularly for their grandchildren, and often to a higher degree than in previous generations.

Demographic and cultural changes play a role, as well as lack of structural support for working parents. “Historically, grandparents have always provided care,” says Madonna Harrington Meyer, professor of sociology at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and author of “Grandmothers at Work.” “What we’re seeing now is grandparents providing care that looks a lot more like parenting: more hours and more tasks.”

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that in the United States about 50% of young children, 35% of elementary-age children, and 20% of teens spend some time with grandparents in a typical week.

AARP’s 2018 grandparent survey found that 38% of grandparents consider themselves a “babysitter or daycare provider,” an increase from the 15% who said they provided child care in a 2002 survey and 8% who did so in 1999.

Rising numbers of single mothers and working mothers are a contributor, says Professor Harrington Meyer, as is lack of government support such as guaranteed paid parental leave and access to affordable, high-quality child care.

“There are cases where you have this nuclear family facade and it’s masking this intergenerational support reality,” says Jennifer Utrata, a professor of sociology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, who just finished a fellowship conducting interviews with grandparents and their adult children.

Full-time caregiving, too 

Another form of grandparenting is also on the rise. Grandparents raising grandchildren full time has grown to 7% of all grandparents, in many cases due to parents harmed by the opioid and mental health crises in the U.S.

Joe O’Leary and his wife raise their 6-year-old grandson in Maynard, Massachusetts, and he leads a local support group sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

People often praise him for what he’s doing. But Mr. O’Leary notes that sometimes grandparents don’t have a choice but to step in. “It’s always other issues. ... Drugs and mental illness are by far the biggest things.”

Yet among researchers, it is a nearly universal finding that grandparents do experience a lot of joy around their grandchildren.

Katy Dermott lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Washington, D.C., and cares for her grandson full time while his parents work. “I think it’s better than I hoped, being able to be so closely involved,” she says. “When you’re a parent ... you have lots of things going on in the back of your mind. It’s such a delight to be able to bask in each moment.”

Adjusting to the role 

There are hidden stresses, such as grandparents juggling their own jobs, sometimes retiring early or giving up jobs with benefits for part-time work that coordinates with grandchildren’s schedules. There can be marital strife over how much time to spend caring for grandchildren.

Some grandparents make sure to carve out time for themselves. “It’s ‘our time’ after our granddaughter goes home at the end of the day,” says Holly Zietlow, who provides full-time care for her toddler granddaughter in Oviedo, Florida. Her husband works from home three days a week to support the effort.

Grandparents also face the physical demands with mixed results. Ms. Harrington Meyer says many report exhaustion, while others say that, with effort, they’re in the best shape of their lives.

Communication with their own children can be challenging because grandparents navigate differing opinions about how young ones should be raised, yet they typically also want to respect their adult children in the parenting role.

Ms. Harrington Meyer says checking in regularly, being willing to reconsider schedules, and showing lots of love help smooth the relationship.

“The most stressed and difficult stories were the grandmothers who felt taken for granted,” she says. “What was very clear to me is that even when grandparents were providing a great deal of care, if they felt appreciated and cared for, there was much less stress.”

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Difference-maker

Drivers of change

5. These dogs get second chances. Just like their inmate caretakers.

Man’s best friend tends to bring out our capacity to care. At one prison-based dog training program in Pennsylvania, says a former inmate, “I was taught how to begin to love myself again.”

New Leash on Life USA
Tichon and a dog named Lilac tussle as part of the programming of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit New Leash on Life USA on Oct. 17, 2017. Shelter dogs are paired with inmates who care for the animals and gain skills for reentry.

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Meghan Ross was stuck in a cycle of homelessness and substance abuse, and she was sentenced to prison four times. She forgot “how to be a productive member of society,” she says.

But while behind bars, she began participating in New Leash on Life USA – a Pennsylvania nonprofit that combines prison-based dog training with programming designed to help inmates turn their lives around. Ms. Ross worked with two dogs.

It wasn’t long after her release that she landed a full-time job, in part because of her New Leash experience. “A program that can take a broken girl such as myself, and give her the skills and knowledge to become a mother, sister, employee, and friend again seems pretty incredible to me,” says Ms. Ross in an email interview.

New Leash has worked with more than 340 participants since 2011. The goal is to help these individuals gain full employment within 90 days of their release.

Says Norberto “Rob” Rosa, whose own experiences helped shape New Leash and who is the nonprofit’s associate vice president: “The people that were on the end of the leash were just as worthy of a second chance as those dogs.”

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These dogs get second chances. Just like their inmate caretakers.

A stray dog started Norberto “Rob” Rosa on his path to recovery.

Mr. Rosa had begun using drugs at age 9. He was labeled a career criminal by 16. “I remember the judge telling me that there was no rehabilitation for me,” he says.

After a beloved family member died in 2002 while Mr. Rosa was incarcerated at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Graterford, he signed up for an animal service program for inmates. “It was in that prison dog program where I regained my faith and life,” he says.

There he met Terp, a black Labrador mix who had been adopted and returned three times. The dog was in danger of being euthanized.

“I had my issues, he had his issues,” says Mr. Rosa. “All we needed was a little direction, some guidance, and some tools to work on it.”

The two of them found success together: Terp found a home, and Mr. Rosa was offered a job with the prison dog program when he was paroled in 2005. He went on to work for several animal welfare groups and shelters, reaching leadership positions at each.

But his own experience led him to want to create a different model – one that didn’t begin and end with obedience training for shelter dogs.

“The people that were on the end of the leash were just as worthy of a second chance as those dogs,” says Mr. Rosa.

During his time as shelter manager, he met Marian Marchese, who was a volunteer there. One day, she saw staff removing animals to be euthanized.

“I was extremely upset that such wonderful animals were not going to live because of a lack of resources and adopters,” she says. “I vowed that day to do something about it.”

Several years later – and with Mr. Rosa’s help and experience – Ms. Marchese founded New Leash on Life USA and serves as CEO. The nonprofit combines prison-based dog training with programming designed to help inmates in the Philadelphia area turn their lives around through career readiness courses, life skills training, and reentry support.

“We look for dogs that are less likely to get adopted, [and] we train the dogs,” says Mr. Rosa, the associate vice president. “At the same time, we are working with the people who are caring for those dogs by providing them with skills that they can use.”

Ready for reentry

New Leash works closely with the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, and potential participants are screened by prison social workers, public defenders, prosecutors, probation and parole officials, and judges.

The vast majority of people selected for the program are granted parole. After that, the nonprofit connects them with a paid internship, transportation assistance, and extended reentry support. The goal is to help participants land full employment within 90 days of their release.

Jon Tan/Dreamlite Photography/New Leash on Life USA
Norberto Rosa, the nonprofit’s associate vice president, began caring for animals in 2002 while he was an inmate. “It was in that prison dog program where I regained my faith and life,” he says.

New Leash has worked with more than 340 participants since 2011. Mr. Rosa says the training and preparation that participants receive have, in some cases, led to careers helping animals – including some current animal control officers in Philadelphia. Between 2012 and 2018, the average one-year recidivism rate among participants was 7.1%, says Ms. Marchese. By contrast, 33.9% of individuals released in Philadelphia from incarceration in 2015 were rearrested within a year, according to the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition.

New Leash was transformative for participant Meghan Ross.

“I found myself stuck in a never-ending cycle of homelessness and substance abuse,” says Ms. Ross, who was sentenced to prison four times and forgot “how to be a productive member of society.”

Over a four-month period, she took in two dogs that lived with her in her cell as she trained them and prepared them for adoption.

In May 2017, shortly after she was released from prison, she began an internship at an animal shelter. That experience, along with the training she received from New Leash, helped her to land a full-time job at another company.

“I was taught how to begin to love myself again and be the person I always knew inside that I was,” she says in an email interview.

“A program that can take a broken girl such as myself, and give her the skills and knowledge to become a mother, sister, employee, and friend again seems pretty incredible to me,” says Ms. Ross. “Not only are they able to change a person, they give us – inmates – the chance to teach a dog that is in the same situation as us – caged and deemed unchangeable – and make them adoptable, which was one of my favorite things.”

“A continuous support system”

In Mr. Rosa, she sees someone who is both supportive and relatable to participants.

“Rob brings the factor of common ground. ... [Inmates] can relate to him on levels that you can’t relate to [with] anyone when going into a program,” she says. “Rob is still a major part of my life, and a continuous support system that I hold close to me.”

Ms. Marchese also speaks highly of Mr. Rosa and the role he plays in the organization.

“He turned his life around by himself with many, many roadblocks. He is the perfect role model and mentor for New Leash, [and] his lived experience makes our program more relevant and more meaningful,” she says. “He also understands the intricacies of the prison system and how to work with the prison staff and administration as a partner and facilitator.”

For Mr. Rosa, there is no shortage of motivation in his work with the nonprofit.

“I can’t even count how many animals I rescued; I felt extremely rewarded just knowing that they found homes,” he says. “But there’s nothing more rewarding than to know that you helped a human really see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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The Monitor's View

Why youth are leading climate strikes

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From Hong Kong to Russia to Sudan, 2019 has been quite a year for youth-led activism. With a receptivity to simple truths, youth bring a purity to almost any cause – from national debt to democracy. On Sept. 20, youth activism went global in a well-orchestrated “school climate strike.” In the spotlight during the marches and protests was 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. With moral clarity, she has challenged adults to truly love their children by changing their energy habits to avoid climate disaster. Even as she sounds an alarm, she also foresees a future free from harm. And that is the clarity. A childlike vision can help replace fear with freedom.

Anger often drives adult-led protests. With so little political power, youth rely instead on their collective traits, such as an openness to truth and a willingness to expect good in their lives. Their activism comes out of an innocence that is often mistaken as naiveté. Yet it is innocence they seek, whether in preserving a pristine environment or the integrity of a democracy. They should not have to carry the weight of the world. But when they do, the future does not look so bleak.

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Why youth are leading climate strikes

From Hong Kong to Russia to Sudan, 2019 has been quite a year for youth-led activism. In the United States, students from Parkland, Florida, the scene of a gun massacre last year, keep setting a model for what young people can do. With a receptivity to simple truths, youth bring a purity to almost any cause – from national debt to democracy. It helps attract the attention of jaded adults. Children, after all, are the future. Now with many of them tapping into social media’s connective power, they want the rest of the world to know they are very present.

On Sept. 20, youth activism went global in a well-orchestrated “school climate strike.” In the spotlight during the marches and protests was 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. With moral clarity, she has challenged adults to truly love their children by changing their energy habits to avoid climate disaster. Even as she sounds an alarm, she also foresees a future free from harm. And that is the clarity. A childlike vision can help replace fear with freedom.

Today’s youth-led causes – often with assistance from adults – can trace their roots to the 19th century when children worked in coal mines and factories. In the 1950s and ’60s, youth were active in the U.S. civil rights and anti-war movements. A pattern has been established, especially in helping heal the rifts between generations over issues such as government debt, carbon pollution, and the steady erosion of civic freedoms and rights. In Hong Kong’s protests, young people are arguing with their elders as much as with Beijing.

Anger often drives adult-led protests. With so little political power, youth rely instead on their collective traits, such as an openness to truth and a willingness to expect good in their lives. Their activism comes out of an innocence that is often mistaken as naiveté. Yet it is innocence they seek, whether in preserving a pristine environment or the integrity of a democracy. They should not have to carry the weight of the world. But when they do, the future does not look so bleak.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

A God-centered view that heals

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Feeling anxious and ill after an evening event, one woman found inspiration in the Bible’s book of Job. It brought a God’s-eye view of reality that changed her thinking, lifting the anxiety and bringing healing that very evening.

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A God-centered view that heals

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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One evening after returning home from an event, I felt anxious and unsettled about some conversations I’d had. I kept replaying them in my head and wondering whether I had represented myself in the way that I wanted to. On top of that, my throat was swelling in a way that was becoming alarming.

I have often found it helpful to pray during times of emotional and physical distress, so it was natural for me to reach out to God in prayer. As I did, a biblical statement came to mind: “I ... repent in dust and ashes.” I recognized this as a reference from the book of Job (42:6) that follows on from some chapters I’ve found especially inspiring. It comes right after God responds to Job, who is in a situation that dwarfed the experience I was going through – he has lost everything, is suffering from a serious disease, and even his wife is encouraging him to just give up.

Instead, Job is absorbed in questioning how such suffering can be legitimate when he knows he is innocent before God, and he persists in doing this despite friends who are unhelpfully arguing for a false sense of God.

Then, in Chapter 38, it’s as though God bursts onto the scene with an account of how He created the entire universe. It is awe-inspiring to consider the vastness and expansiveness of God presented in this and the following three chapters of the book of Job. So awe-inspiring, in fact, that Job is transformed by the reminder of what God is. It leads him to repent of his doubt, and he is restored to wholeness.

One might say that Job is repenting of thinking there is another cause or creator that’s truer than God. Christian Science explains that God, infinite good, is the only legitimate creator and has made everything in the image and likeness of the Divine: spiritual and good. So the real nature of creation, including each of us, is actually the effect of God – the spiritual expression of His love and goodness. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes, “God is at once the centre and circumference of being” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 203-204).

When we realize this to be the spiritual reality, we’re gaining a more God-oriented view. This change of perspective brings healing. It certainly changed everything for Job. At the end of the story comes the part that had first come to my thought: Job “repent[s] in dust and ashes.” Some scholars believe that the word “of” would be a more accurate translation than “in.” I appreciate this because it helps me see that we can repent of, or change our thinking from, believing that man is made of dust, is fundamentally material. Instead we can come to understand the spiritual view of man as spiritual, perfect, and whole.

This God-centered view inspired and healed me that very evening. The emotional turmoil ceased and the swelling went away.

It can be tempting to focus our attention on the whirlwinds of human life. But when the infinite nature of God, good, becomes paramount in our thinking – and we understand that God and His spiritual creation is truly the reality – this God’s-eye view leads to healing. What an amazing, beautiful view to look out from!

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Finding sanctuary

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Not that long ago, most people worked with horses. Today, they are much less common, outmoded by the internal combustion engine. Some still work among us, such as carriage horses and police horses. But what happens when they are ready to retire? Since 2009, retired, disabled, and homeless draft horses have found sanctuary in Blue Star Equiculture, a farm in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. Blue Star is now the official retirement venue for carriage horses from New York City, Philadelphia, and other big cities, and has cared for more than 500 horses since its launch.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte and Karen Norris. )
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In Our Next Issue

( September 23rd, 2019 )

That's it for today. Come back Monday when we look at how Saudi Arabia is reevaluating its Iran policy.

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September 20, 2019
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