Wonkbook: What you need to know about the intensifying legal battles in Ferguson

August 20, 2014

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(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 26.6 births per 1,000. That was the birth rate for teenagers ages 15-19 last year, down 57 percent from 1991.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: There are zero states where the percentage of people employed has gone up since the recession.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) Legal action in Ferguson; (2) continuing economic, fiscal impacts of Ebola crisis; (3) lesser-told aspects of Ferguson community; (4) the housing situation pre-Jackson Hole; and (5) Common Core branding problem.

1. Top story: The legal picture in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting aftermath

What happened last night — things were mostly calmer. "The streets of Ferguson saw pockets of violence during protests Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning but on the whole the shaken St. Louis suburb was more peaceful than in recent days, police said. 'Tonight, the elders in the community, volunteers, activists and the clergy came out in large numbers,' Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Wednesday during a press conference. 'They walked and talked with people. They urged order,' he said. Johnson said that overall the protests occurred in a less confrontational manner than had been seen in recent days." Yamiche Alcindor and Larry Copeland in USA Today.

Grand jury to decide whether officer, Darren Wilson, will face charges. "It remained unclear whether Wilson would face charges in the Aug. 9 incident....It was obvious that there was enormous political pressure on prosecutors in this case....St. Louis County’s chief executive and other local black leaders have said they believe the county prosecutor is not fit to handle the case....McCulloch has declined to step aside and has said his father’s death will not affect his judgment. On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said he has not asked McCulloch to recuse himself from the case. His investigation of Brown’s death is being monitored by the Justice Department and the FBI, which are also investigating the shooting in an expanding federal probe." Carol D. Leonnig, Krissah Thompson and Wesley Lowery in The Washington Post.

Explainer: The Michael Brown shooting is going before a grand jury. Here’s how it will work. Kimberly Kindy and Carol D. Leonnig in The Washington Post.

Feds could go several ways in their probe of Ferguson shooting. "The most emphatic outcome, a potential federal civil rights prosecution of the police officer who shot the unarmed teenager, may also be the least probable, because of the standards of proof required....But...another, broader kind of federal case could result from Brown’s death and the revelations that have followed. Through a special unit, the department could launch a wide-ranging investigation into a 'pattern or practice' of behavior by local law enforcement agencies....The investigations take time, and they go deep....When completed, these broader investigations can incite systemic reforms." Michael Doyle in McClatchy Newspapers.

Why isn't Obama going to Ferguson? "While the White House hasn’t ruled out an eventual trip to the town, visiting now would divert law-enforcement resources needed for keeping the peace, according to aides....Obama also doesn’t want to be seen as taking sides....The president said he didn’t want to suggest that he has judged the situation before investigations are complete....Going to Ferguson also would place the first black U.S. president in a racially charged situation. His presence might amplify the divisions brought to the surface over the shooting....Previous presidents also have refrained from visiting scenes of domestic turmoil." Lisa Lerer and Roger Runningen in Bloomberg.

Analysis: Differing styles between Obama, Holder. Peter Baker and Matt Apuzzo in The New York Times.

Primary source: A message to the people of Ferguson. Eric H. Holder Jr. in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Groups sue for police records on shooting. "More than a dozen civil and human rights groups are appealing for openness in the investigation of the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Members of the coalition, including the ACLU and National Bar Association, have filed lawsuits seeking the incident report in the shooting of Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. The Justice Department has launched an independent investigation into the case." Stacy A. Anderson in the Associated Press.

But official says it could be months until details are released. "St. Louis County investigators will not release details about the shooting of Michael Brown until the information is presented to a grand jury, a process that could take months, the U.S. Attorney on the case said Tuesday. FBI agents are sharing information they have gathered from the area of the shooting scene with St. Louis County investigators, U.S. Attorney Richard A. Callahan in Missouri told TIME, noting 'physical evidence is being analyzed' from the autopsy done Monday....On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for patience during the federal investigation." Jesse Byrnes in The Hill.

Chart: Whites have confidence in Ferguson investigations. Blacks, not so much. Matt Berman in The Atlantic CityLab.

Explainer: The character assassination of Michael Brown. Emma Roller in National Journal.

History suggests officer may not be charged. "Those familiar with the history of police-involved deaths say that a convergence of both U.S. law and cultural norms put the odds against it. 'It is really hard to convict a police officer. They get a super presumption of innocence,' Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who is now a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles, told TPM. She was involved in a grand jury investigation of an officer-involved death, she said, but it never went to trial. 'We don't want to believe that the people we hire to protect us could be the people who want to harm us," she said, "and so we give them a huge benefit of the doubt.'" Dylan Scott in Talking Points Memo.

Another shooting in St. Louis area raises question: Why do officers shoot to kill? "The fatal shooting of a man by police on Tuesday near St. Louis kept the spotlight on law enforcement's use of deadly force....When faced with a perceived threat, why don't officers shoot to wound rather than shoot to kill? The reason, according to law enforcement officials and experts on police accountability, is simple: Officers have long been trained to shoot to kill because that is the only way they say they can neutralize a threat. The idea of shooting someone in a limb is fiction." Sabrina Siddiqui in The Huffington Post.

We know very little about when and why police use their weapons. "News reports of officer-involved shootings are fairly regular across the country, but there are no national, comprehensive statistics on these incidents, so it is impossible to say how frequently they happen. Information about those struck by police bullets is also unavailable — whether they are unarmed or carrying a weapon, criminals or innocent bystanders, black or white. Reliable data would make it easier for citizens to know when officers are acting recklessly, and for police departments to develop methods of avoiding the use of lethal force." Max Ehrenfreund in The Washington Post.

Other legal reads:

#Ferguson exposes the fault lines between Facebook and Twitter. Brad Stone in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Permanent record: How arrests stick with millions of Americans. Gary Fields in The Wall Street Journal.

VOORHEES: How the Justice Dept. could revamp Ferguson's police. "Any meaningful reconciliation to the chaos and conflict provoked by this episode will have to include reform of the Ferguson Police Department. But how could that be done? How do you fix a police department that has proven it can’t police itself? If Holder concludes that there has been a pattern of misconduct by the police — either in the lead-up to Brown’s death or in its aftermath—the president has the ability to force widespread reforms within the department with the help of a law passed in the wake of the Rodney King beating." Josh Voorhees in Slate.

WILLIAMS: Ferguson and America's racial fears. "But please, let's hit pause on the political spin and bitter exchange of racial fears. If we are to stop angry clashes between police and poor black men, it is time to admit that thuggish behavior creates legitimate fear in every community. Close to half of black men drop out of high school. High unemployment and high rates of out-of-wedlock birth leave too many of them without guidance. Given this reality, the violent behavior of young black men and the police response have become a window on racial fears." Juan Williams in The Wall Street Journal.

BALKO: Debate over police body cameras isn't just a matter of making footage public record. "So in addition to making these videos public record, accessible through public records requests, we also need to ensure that police agencies implement rules requiring officers to actually use the cameras, enforce those rules by disciplining officers when they don’t and ensure that the officers, the agencies that employ them, and prosecutors all take care to preserve footage, even if the footage reflects poorly on officers." Radley Balko in The Washington Post.

PONNURU: Ferguson's militarization distraction. "The federal government — through grant programs and the distribution of surplus military equipment — has encouraged local police forces to equip themselves like occupying armies. If the violence in Ferguson helps reverse this trend, it will be a good thing. But the trend itself has little to do with what happened there." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View.

FRIEDERSDORF: Stop the night-time protests and start the recall drive. "Some have asked the majority of residents with peaceful intentions to call off protests and vigils after dark. The request is understandable—as is the refusal of outraged citizens who feel a moral and civic obligation to persist in their activism. Well-intentioned people on both sides feel they cannot in good conscience back down, yet they are unable to control the bad elements in their midst. It is a perilous moment — and politics offers one way forward." Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

Top opinion

EL-ERIAN: Why you should care about Jackson Hole. "Central bankers, a group of largely independent technocrats, wield more power over the fates of politicians, investors and regular folk than ever before. In the absence of government action, they are bearing most of the burden of supporting economic recoveries in the U.S. and Europe. With their bond purchases and other unconventional policies, they have become a major force holding up financial markets around the world. Hence, when they gather for their annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming — as they will starting Friday — it's worth paying attention." Mohamed A. El-Erian in Bloomberg View.

GALSTON: Shared prosperity is moral imperative. "We should adopt full employment as a high-priority goal of economic policy and welcome the wage increases it would generate. Because global competition will make it difficult for businesses to raise prices, higher wages would likely come out of profits, which now stand above 10% of national income — the highest since the end of World War II. This shift from profits to wages might prove problematic if businesses were short of capital for investment. But the reverse is now the case, at least for the large firms that are accumulating huge stocks of retained earnings that languish on the sidelines or are used to fund mergers and stock buybacks. And the costs of borrowing remain very low." William A. Galston in The Wall Street Journal.

GROSS: The war on coal in the Midwest. "When coal industry veterans in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky invoke a 'war on coal,' they’re talking about a conspiracy—a cabal of federal bureaucrats who don’t like the industry....But the reality is much different. A host of economic, political, and environmental concerns are pushing organizations—many of them profit-seeking businesses—to try to use less coal or stop using it altogether. The big increase in the production of natural gas, the sharp rise in renewables, state efforts to improve air quality, and stricter standards promulgated by the federal government are pushing utilities to act: either to install expensive new controls on coal plants or shut them down. Coal isn’t being banned or outlawed. But the rapidly changing environment is pushing businesses to reconsider its use." Daniel Gross in Slate.

HEIJNE: What it really means to be a high nation. "America is considering whether to become a lot more like the Dutch. Colorado and Washington state have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and the New York Times editorial page recently declared that the national ban on marijuana today is even sillier than banning alcohol during Prohibition....But before you go there, America, let me tell a little about what it really means to be a High Nation. First of all, we Dutch are not quite as liberal about drugs as you might think. Second, and more important, we’re still very confused...about how liberal we should be. The truth is, many Dutch are coming to believe that our whole experiment with drug tolerance hasn’t worked out well at all." Bas Heijne in Politico Magazine.

Still another ALS Ice Bucket Challenge interlude: 10 hilarious/awkward challenge videos.

2. The continuing economic impacts of the Ebola outbreak

Ebola is draining African governments' budgets. "The worst-ever Ebola outbreak is straining the finances of affected governments, with Sierra Leone using Treasury Bills to fund the fight against the virus as mining companies halt operations to protect workers. Emergency aid of as much as $260 million is being prepared by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to limit the economic fallout of the virus on Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the lenders said this month....Business and transport disruptions, as well as increased health expenditure, may pressure budgets and jeopardize growth, Matt Robinson, a London-based senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service, said in an Aug. 14 report." Chris Kay in Bloomberg.

And, in turn, affected nations' economies. "Prior to the outbreak, the Nigerian economy was being celebrated as the largest in Africa, with a GDP of $510 billion, compared with second-place South Africa, with a GDP of $353 billion. Sierra Leone is attempting to draw foreign investment to its diamond industry and saw its GDP grow 20.1 percent from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, Guinea's GDP grew a modest 2 percent....All of these positives are now overshadowed by the bleak prediction of Ebola's ramifications in the region. The World Bank estimates that Guinea's GDP will shrink between 3.5 and 4.5 percent this year." David Francis in Foreign Policy.

Aid agencies are being stretched to their limits. "For the first time, the United Nations is handling four major humanitarian crises at once: refugee crises in Syria and Iraq as well as civil wars in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, where millions are at risk of famine. Meanwhile, West Africa is experience a devastating Ebola outbreak. The world's aid agencies are stretched to their limits. Leading the U.S. response to these crises is the U.S. Agency for International Development." NPR.

WHO cautions against travel, trade restrictions. Not many are listening. "While advising countries to perform exit screening at airports, seaports and major border crossings, the WHO is recommending against any ban on international travel or trade. But several international airlines have announced bans. Kenya Airways suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia, effective Tuesday. British Airways, which stopped flights to the two nations earlier this month, will continue the suspension until Aug. 31....Meanwhile, the health ministry in Kenya, the travel hub of East Africa, announced over the weekend that it was closing its borders to travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea." Caelainn Hogan in The Washington Post.

Speaking of travel, how did Ebola travel? "How did the virus end up 2,500 miles away from its normal home range? Disease ecologist Peter Daszak says scientists don't know for sure. But they have a top theory: The virus spread through bats. Many signs point to bats as the main source of Ebola. Scientists have found Ebola antibodies in bat species that are widespread throughout Africa. The virus infects and replicates inside bats, but it doesn't kill the animals. So bats can easily spread Ebola. And bats get around. Some can migrate hundreds, even thousands of miles." Michaeleen Doucleff in NPR.

Other health care reads:

Obamacare losing power as campaign weapon in ad battles. Heidi Przybyla in Bloomberg.

Health coverage is growing, but prices aren't. Good news for Obamacare? Adrianna McIntyre in Vox.

Audit: Obamacare medical-device tax not meeting revenue target. Stephen Ohlemacher in the Associated Press.

James Foley interlude: In honor of the late journalist, here are some of the stories Foley risked his life to tell.

3. Beneath the protests, lesser-told aspects of the Ferguson community

Pandemonium or peace in Ferguson? During the day, it's been peace and civic engagement. "The daily routine in the city of Ferguson has become one of turmoil and tear gas by night and cleanup and cooperation by day....Residents and highway patrol officers worked side by side to clean up glass at Red's, where it seems that vandals have smashed in a window. One highway patrol office, Corporal Steve Jones, said he’s happy to help out....A dozen members of the Empowered Church of God in Christ in Spanish Lake also began congregating at Red's with brooms and trash bags. Marvin Taylor was expecting a crowd." Nancy Fowler in St. Louis Public Radio.

Ferguson community sees double injustice. "Most of the residents of Ferguson, Mo., have been trying, in ways big and small, to advance two conflicting goals over the last nine days. One is the momentum of their protests over the shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9. The other is good public order. And if the outside world has seen the unrest in Ferguson as a stand-off between militarized police and occasionally violent protesters, many of Ferguson’s residents see themselves caught between the competing injustice of those two forces." Alex Altman in Time Magazine.

The peaceful, the elders, the looters, and the 'militants.' "The militants are one faction of many that have filled Ferguson’s streets each evening since Brown...was shot at least six times and died. There is a group of 'peaceful protesters' that congregates around the QuikTrip, which was looted and burned during the first night of protest. Another gathers near the Ferguson police station. A third, more scattered faction uses Twitter to organize demonstrators....Then there are the looters, leaderless men who under cover of nightly political protest target liquor stores, beauty-supply shops and other businesses with inventories easy to sell and in high demand....There is also another group: the elders." Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and DeNeen L. Brown in The Washington Post.

Outsiders among the 'agitators.' "Police have stepped up arrests here in a bid to root out those they consider outside agitators without further angering peaceful demonstrators....More than 80 people were arrested in a 30-hour period into Tuesday....About one-quarter of those arrested over that time are from outside the area, from as far away as New York and San Francisco, county records showed. Attention in recent days began to shift to those outside protesters, whom some local officials and even protest leaders blamed for using Molotov cocktails, guns and fireworks to ignite greater discord." Pervaiz Shallwani, Mark Peters and Ben Kesling in The Wall Street Journal.

How the protests are affecting schools and the local economy. "One school system has delayed the start of the academic year, in part because buses can't get through streets littered with debris. Business owners face broken windows and a drop in revenue, forcing them to reduce their workforce. Police forces are strained. And residents say the turmoil is nerve-racking....Mr. Reagan's staff has contacted companies that are considering moving to the region to answer questions related to the incident. 'We have not had any business that has pulled back from making a decision here,' he said. Other businesses are less sanguine." Caroline Porter and Matthew Dolan in The Wall Street Journal.

Teachers use day off as civics lesson opportunity. "After two nights of violent clashes this week, neighboring Jennings School District is out of class, too. So this morning, instead of being in the classroom, 150 area teachers took part in some unusual professional development: picking up broken glass, water bottles and tear gas canisters from the street....Jennings is also a district where a majority of students live below the poverty line. So many Jennings kids rely on free and reduced lunch that, even though classes are canceled, the meals are not." Elise Hu in NPR.

How to restore calm? One way: More community-oriented approach by police. "One answer, Nolan said, rests with police, who should take the initiative to meet with nonviolent protesters, pledge to scale back some of the more military-style methods of crowd control, such as sound cannons, and increase the recruitment of black police officers — something the city said it plans to address. Only three members of Ferguson’s 53-person force are black, even though about two-thirds of the residents are black....O’Donnell also said while it’s 'almost impossible' for police to strike the right balance, it’s important for law enforcement to work with the community to end the continuing crisis." Associated Press.

As police officers' long hours pile up, so does the community support. "Donations of water and snacks flowed in Tuesday to help police officers pulling long hours in Ferguson because of continuing unrest over the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, on Aug. 9. Many officers haven't had a day off for more than a week. They face long hours, high stress and high scrutiny following the shooting of Brown by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer. What started as a small call for donations turned into an onslaught of food, water and words of encouragement." Stephanie Diffin in KSDK-TV.

Related: Support grows for officer in shooting. Greg Toppo in USA Today.

In Russia, scenes from Ferguson portrayed as nothing shocking. "Over the years, Washington has persistently condemned the Kremlin’s suppression of political dissent. The United States was sharply critical, for example, when scuffles between the police and huge crowds denouncing President Vladimir V. Putin in 2012 led to dozens of arrests. Criminal trials in some of those cases are still in the news here. That has given Russia ample motive to gloat whenever accusations arise of heavy-handedness by American law enforcement in the face of public protests." David M. Herszenhorn in The New York Times.

U.S. pushes back on international concerns about handling of protesters. "A State Department spokeswoman pushed back against countries like Egypt, Iran and China that have chided U.S. law enforcement for its handling of protestors in Ferguson, Missouri....Marie Harf said such countries, which, at best, have mixed records on human rights and free speech, should avoid comparing themselves to the United States." Ali Weinberg in ABC News.

Pentagon defends weapons-transfer program. "Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the program also has assisted police across the United States in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations that 'get right to the protection of the homeland.'...Kirby said Tuesday that while Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for more information on it, he has not ordered a review of it. Kirby said Tuesday that 'there’s a lot of due diligence' that goes into deciding which police forces get which equipment. The Pentagon doesn’t push its excess equipment on police either, he said." Dan Lamothe in The Washington Post.

Interactive: Data on transfer of military equipment to police. Matt Apuzzo in The New York Times.

Animals interlude: Tortoise chases a toy truck.

4. A look at the housing market ahead of Jackson Hole

U.S. housing market improving, inflation pressures muted. "U.S. housing starts surged to an eight-month high in July, suggesting the nation's housing market recovery was back on track after stalling in the second half of last year. While the rebound points to sustained economic strength, other data on Tuesday showed inflation largely under wraps, which could give the Federal Reserve room to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy stance for a bit longer....Groundbreaking for new housing jumped 15.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted 1.09-million unit annual pace, the highest level since November." Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

The interplay between inflation, wages and housing. "The muted increase in total prices was still enough to erode wage gains. Hourly earnings were unchanged on average last month after adjusting for inflation, another Labor Department report showed today. They were also little changed over the past 12 months. The housing industry’s recovery has been challenged by the slow wage growth and tight credit, which have put homeownership out of reach for some Americans. Nonetheless, today’s figures corroborate a report yesterday showing builder confidence rose in August to the highest level in seven months." Lorraine Woellert and Victoria Stilwell in Bloomberg.

Home sizes level off. Are entry-level, first-time buyers re-entering market? "The median size of U.S. homes on which builders started construction in the second quarter registered 2,478 square feet, unchanged from the first quarter but still close to the all-time high of 2,491 set in last year's third quarter....Entry-level and first-time buyers, who tend to buy smaller homes, have largely remained sidelined due to strict mortgage-qualification standards and tepid wage and job growth....Yet executives...report that they're seeing early signs of entry-level buyers returning to the market as mortgage standards ease slightly and job gains take hold." Kris Hudson in The Wall Street Journal.

First-time buyer comparisons can be deceiving in housing market. "New data show that first-time home buyers aren’t playing as big a role in the mortgage market as they did a few years ago, when prices were lower and a big tax credit fueled a surge of sales....How does this compare to other measures of first-time buyers? For one, it’s much higher than other measures because it is examining the share of home purchases that are financed. If all-cash transactions were included, the numbers would probably decline. Different reports often state that the “normal” share of first-time buyers is around 40%, though this figure is often used in a way that can be misleading." Nick Timiraos and Matt Stiles in The Wall Street Journal.

Apartment construction hit 25-year high. "A big share of July’s gain in housing construction came from the multifamily sector, which tends to be fairly volatile on a monthly basis. But looking at a rolling 12-month total of multifamily starts without any seasonal adjustment shows that construction for the year ended July reached its highest level since 1989....Big gains in apartment construction are less bullish for economic growth than a comparable rise in single-family construction, notes Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial, because single-family housing has a bigger multiplier effect for both consumer spending and job growth." Nick Timiraos and Josh Zumbrun in The Wall Street Journal.

Other economic/financial reads:

Construction shifts into second tier. Eliot Brown in The Wall Street Journal.

The American consumer is back. Kevin G. Hall in McClatchy Newspapers.

The psychological damage of the recession is not going away. Allison Schrager in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Lawmakers threaten Ex-Im Bank subpoena in oversight rebuff. Mark Felsenthal in Reuters.

Americans are taking fewer vacations than they used to. Evan Soltas in Vox.

Tattoo interlude: People get tattoos for the first time.

5. What's in a name? A lot for Common Core 

Common Core support falling. "While awareness of the widely embraced national standards has grown substantially since last year's survey, 60% of poll respondents say they oppose requiring teachers to instruct using the standards. Results of the survey released Wednesday of 1,001 Americans aged 18 and older indicated that opinions of the Common Core reflect recent political bantering on the topic, with greater disapproval coming from Republicans than from Democrats. In recent months, the standards have come under attack by some conservative leaders who see them as a federal intrusion into local affairs. More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core." Caroline Porter in The Wall Street Journal.

Common Core has a branding problem. "A new poll by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution that supports the Common Core, suggests part of the problem may be the standards’ name. As the authors write, 'The words ‘Common Core’ elicit greater antagonism than does the concept of common standards itself.'...'Significantly, the pronounced partisan polarization evoked by the phrase Common Core disappears when the question does not include those seemingly toxic words.'...This is particularly true for conservative Republicans, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, and anyone else who views the standards as a federal mandate, aka ObamaCore." Susan Berfield in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Court blocks La. Gov. Jindal — once a Common Core supporter — from repealing state's standards. "Jindal is trying to unilaterally scrap the new academic standards and a related series of exams — a move that’s put him at odds with business leaders, the state superintendent, members of the board of education and many Republican legislators in Louisiana. District Judge Todd W. Hernandez of Baton Rouge ruled that Jindal’s plan would cause 'irreparable harm' to students, teachers and parents who have been preparing for the new standards for years. He also dismissed the administration’s argument that the state education department violated procurement law in the way it planned to deliver the Common Core tests to students." Stephanie Simon in Politico.

What else concerns Americans about their schools? "Survey participants said that the top issue facing public schools is a lack of financial support, while concern about discipline issues or crime in schools is dropping. Respondents also said that they placed more trust in their local school boards when it comes to educational policy issues than in the federal government. The survey showed the Obama administration influence waning as many Americans believe that the federal government should play a smaller role in public education." T. Rees Shapiro in The Washington Post.

Other education reads:

These are the states where kids do best on AP exams. Rebecca Klein in The Huffington Post.

Presumptuous interlude: Moose, without asking, helps self to a drink from lawn sprinkler.

Wonkblog roundup

The historic and uneven decline in teen births. Jason Millman.

Uber hired David Plouffe when it realized "techies" can’t do politics. Emily Badger and Zachary A. Goldfarb.

Health care data breaches have hit 30M patients and counting. Jason Millman.

Alcohol is still the deadliest drug in the United States, and it’s not even close. Harold Pollack.

Meet the ordinary people who are mobilizing around monetary policy. Ylan Q. Mui.

How bad weather around the world is threatening Nutella. Roberto A. Ferdman.

We know very little about when and why police use their weapons. Max Ehrenfreund.

Et Cetera

David Plouffe’s next campaign: Steer Uber to victory. Kevin Robillard in Politico.

Feds boosting oil-spill liability limits. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.

2014 shaping up to be third-hottest year ever. Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.

Argentina aims to skirt U.S. court, bring debt under national law. Sarah Marsh and Walter Bianchi in Reuters.

Advocates seek to delay deportations for millions. Julia Preston in The New York Times.

Battle over postal-service cuts looms in September. Billy House in National Journal.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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