80 JUST ANOTHER NUMBER FOR MANY U.S. WORKERS President Biden is among growing number of working octogenarians. By TARA BAHRAMPOUR Washington Post
John Tomkins operated a forklift while loading onrete asts on Thursday in Algodones, N.M. He is 77 and plans to keep working after he turns 80.
Last year, when Bob Hyde was 78, he stood in front of a mirror and decided it was time to retire. Hyde, who lives in Rio Rancho, N.M., ran his own accounting company and was glad to be free of deadlines, payroll and hiring. He learned to make sourdough bread and kimchi, and began learning to play the clarinet.
But retirement lasted less than a year. "I missed the engagement," he said. Hyde had been employed since he left home at 16 and joined the British army. Now, on the cusp of 80, he is back in the workforce, doing accounting for a concrete company.
"I found I needed something to engage my mind," Hyde said, adding that he has a cushy job compared to his 77-year-old boss, who is "out there every day as they're pouring concrete."
"I think retirement is voluntarily putting one foot in the grave, or if you like, ordering up the particle board box."
Much hand-wringing has accompanied the fact that Joe Biden is by far the oldest person to hold the nation's highest office. When he turned 80 last Sunday , he became the first octogenarian to serve as president, spurring questions about how old is too old for the job.
But working past 80, while still the exception, is not as rare as it once was. In recent decades, the number of octogenarians in the U.S. workforce has soared, from around 110,000, or 2.5%, of the 80-plus population in 1980 to a high of around 734,000, or 6%, in 2019, according to a Washington Post analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Last year, it wasabout 693,000, or 5.5%.
That makes sense, given that American life expectancy has steadily increased — from 47 for a baby born in 1900 to 68 in 1950 and 79 in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
"An 80-year-old today and an 80-yearold 20 years ago represent different pockets of individuals; they're not directly comparable," said Dan Belsky, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Today there are many physically active, cognitively healthy 80-year-olds, taking classes, running around, governing."
Ageism can make it harder for older people seeking employment, but unlike countries with broad mandatory retirement ages, the United States has few restrictions on working after a certain age (commercial pilots, for example, must retire by 65).
Scott Goldstein, 80, started working at Hecht's department store in Washington, D.C., when he was 14; he is now a lawyer working 40 hours a week in Miami and has no intention of stopping. "I've seen friends who have sort of retired and deteriorated mentally, and I don't want that to happen to me," said Goldstein, who is also a pilot and flies small planes on weekend."I remain mentally alert while I work."
Some brain changes do take place in older age — for example, the ability to multi-task might slow down, said Joe Verghese, chief of cognitive and motor aging and of geriatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System.
But absent disease affecting cognition, older workers also have some advantages, Verghese said. For example, people often become better decisionmakers as they age.
"Your judgment is a factor of not only biological process, but experience,and your judgment skills might actually improve over time because you have multiple experiences to draw from," he said.
John Tomkins, 77, owner of Precast Manufacturing New Mexico, where Hyde is employed, still works 40 to 60 hours a week because he can't afford to retire.
"This is a small business, I've invested my life and my money into it," he said, adding that he started working at the company, which his father started, in 1958 at age 12.
A widower, Tomkins would like to travel and see more of the country, he said. But "every time I think about selling it there is something that happens that prevents me from doing so."
Elizabeth Shaughnessy, 85, is president of the Berkeley Chess School, which she founded in 1982. The organization brings chess to around 150 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and hosts classes and tournaments. Shaughnessy estimates that she works at least 40 hours a week, including many weekends.
"It never occurred to me that I would be doing anything else," she said. "I'm not the sort of person who sort of wondered all my life when I might retire." When the game first clicks for a child, she said, "to see their little eyes, the joy of that moment, it's very wonderful. ... It energizes me."
Hazel Domangue, 82, teaches memoir writing to seniors and U.S. veterans at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., and recently formed a company, Precise Expression, to offer writing instruction. She said her views on working in old age have evolved.
"When I was younger I thought the same thing that others think — 'No, he's too old, he should have retired a long time ago,' " she said. "But as I grew older, grew old, it's just not true."
‘Hogan’s Heroes’ POW survived Nazi camps C1926-2022 By LYNN ELBER Associated Press LOS ANGELES
Robert Clary, a French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who played a feisty prisoner of war in the improbable 1960s sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," has died. He was 96.
Clary died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"He never let those horrors defeat him," niece Brenda Hancock said. "He never let them take the joy out of his life. He tried to spread that joy to others through his singing and his dancing and his painting."
When he recounted his life to students, he told them, "Don't ever hate," Hancock said. "He didn't let hate overcome the beauty in this world."
"Hogan's Heroes," in which Allied soldiers in a POW camp bested their clownish German army captors with espionage schemes, played the war strictly for laughs during its 1965-71 run. The 5-foot-1 Clary sported a beret and a sardonic smile as Cpl. Louis LeBeau.
Clary was the last surviving original star of the sitcom that included Bob Crane, Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis and Ivan Dixon as the prisoners. Werner Klemperer and John Banner, their captors, both were European Jews who fled Nazi persecution before the war.
Clary began his career as a nightclub singer and appeared on stage in musicals including "Irma La Douce" and "Cabaret." After "Hogan's Heroes," Clary's TV work included the soap operas "The Young and the Restless," "Days of Our Lives" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."
He considered musical theater the highlight of his career. "I loved to go to the theater at quarter of eight, put the stage makeup on and entertain," he said in a 2014 interview.
He remained publicly silent about his wartime experience until 1980 when, Clary said, he was provoked to speak out by those who denied or diminished the orchestrated effort by Nazi Germany to exterminate Jews. A documentary about Clary's childhood and years of horror at Nazi hands, "Robert Clary, A5714: A Memoir of Liberation," was released in 1985. The forearms of concentration camp prisoners were tattooed with identification numbers, with A5714 to be Clary's lifelong mark.
"They write books and articles in magazines denying the Holocaust, making a mockery of the 6 million Jews — including a million and a half children — who died in the gas chambers and ovens," he said in a 1985 AP interview.
Twelve of his immediate family members, his parents and 10 siblings, were killed under the Nazis, Clary wrote in a biography posted on his website.
In 1997, he was among dozens of Holocaust survivors whose portraits and stories were included in "The Triumphant Spirit," a book by photographer Nick Del Calzo.
"I beg the next generation not to do what people have done for centuries — hate others because of their skin, shape of their eyes, or religious preference," Clary said at the time.
Retired from acting, Clary remained in good health and busy with his family, friends and his painting.
He was born Robert Widerman in Paris in March 1926, the youngest of 14 children. He was 16 when he and most of his family were taken by the Nazis.
In the documentary, Clary recalled a happy childhood until the family was forced from their Paris apartment and put into a crowded cattle car for transport to concentration camps.
"Nobody knew where we were going," Clary said. "We were not human beings anymore." After 31 months in captivity, he was liberated from the Buchenwald death camp by U.S. troops. His youth and ability to work kept him alive, Clary said.
Cesspool or civility? Elon Musk's Twitter at a crossroads By BARBARA ORTUTAY Associated Press
NOVEMBER 6, 2022 — 11:50AM
MARY ALTAFFER, ASSOCIATED PRESS The Twitter logo is seen on the awning of the building that houses the Twitter office in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.
The discourse was never all that civil on Twitter. The loudest voices have often drowned out softer, more nuanced takes. After all, it's much easier to rage-tweet at a perceived enemy than to seek common ground, whether the argument is about transgender kids or baseball.
In the chaos that has enveloped Twitter the platform — and Twitter the company — since Elon Musk took over, it has become clear this isn't changing anytime soon. In fact, it's likely to get much worse before it gets better — if it gets better at all.
Musk, with his band of tech industry loyalists, arrived at Twitter just over a week ago ready to tear down the blue bird's nest and rebuild it in his vision with breakneck speed. He quickly fired top executives and the board of directors, installed himself as the company's sole director (for now) and declared himself "Chief Twit," then "Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator" on his bio.
On Friday, he began mass layoffs at the San Francisco-based company, letting go about half of its workers via email to return it to staffing levels not seen since 2014.
All the while, he's continued to tweet a mix of crude memes, half-jokes, SpaceX rocket launches and maybe-maybe not plans for Twitter that he seems to be workshopping on the site in real time. After floating the idea of charging users $20 a month for the "blue check" and some extra features, for instance, he appeared to quickly scale it back in a Twitter exchange with author Stephen King, who posted, "If that gets instituted, I'm gone like Enron."
"We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?" Musk replied. On Saturday, the company announced a subscription service for $7.99 monthly that allows anyone on Twitter to pay a fee for the check mark "just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow" as well as some premium features — not yet available — like getting their tweets boosted above those coming from accounts without the blue check.
The billionaire Tesla CEO also has repeatedly engaged with right-wing figures appealing for looser restrictions on hate and misinformation. He received congratulations from Dimitry Medvedev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's top associate, and tweeted — then deleted — a baseless conspiracy theory about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, who was attacked in his home.
More than three dozen advocacy organizations wrote an open letter to Twitter's top 20 advertisers, calling on them to commit to halting advertising on the platform if Twitter under Musk undermines "brand safety" and guts content moderation.
"Not only are extremists celebrating Musk's takeover of Twitter, they are seeing it as a new opportunity to post the most abusive, harassing, and racist language and imagery. This includes clear threats of violence against people with whom they disagree," the letter said.
One of Musk's first moves was to fire the woman in charge of trust and safety at the platform, Vijaya Gadde. But he has kept on Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of safety and integrity, and has taken steps to reassure users and advertisers that the site won't turn into a "free-for-all hellscape" that some fear it might.
On Friday, he tweeted that "Twitter's strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline (asterisk)below(asterisk) our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press." A growing number of advertisers are nevertheless pausing spending on Twitter while they reassess how Musk's changes might increase objectionable material on the platform.
Musk also met with some civil rights leaders "about how Twitter will continue to combat hate & harassment & enforce its election integrity policies," according to a tweet he sent Nov. 1.
But representatives of the LGBTQ community were notably absent from the meeting, even though its members are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than those outside of such communities. Twitter did not respond to a message for comment on whether Musk plans to meet with LGBTQ groups.
The mercurial billionaire has said he won't make major decisions about content or restoring banned accounts — such as that of former President Donald Trump — before setting up a "content moderation council" with diverse viewpoints. The council, he later added, will include "the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence." But experts have pointed out that Twitter already has a trust and safety advisory council to address moderation questions.
"Truly I can't imagine how it would differ," said Danielle Citron, a University of Virginia law professor who sits on the council and has been working with Twitter since its infancy in 2009 to tackle online harms, such as threats and stalking. "Our council has the full spectrum of views on free speech."
Some amount of chaos is expected after a corporate takeover, as are layoffs and firings. But Musk's murky plans for Twitter — especially its content moderation, misinformation and hate speech policies — are raising alarms about where one of the world's most high-profile information ecosystems is headed. All that seems certain is that for now, at least, as Elon Musk goes, so goes Twitter.
"I hope that responsibility and maturity will win the day," said Eddie Perez, a former Twitter civic integrity team leader who left the company before Musk took over. "It's one thing to be a billionaire troll on Twitter and to try to get laughs with memes and to yuk it up. You are now the owner of Twitter and there's a new level of responsibility."
For now, though, the memes appear to be winning. This concerns experts like Perez, who worry Musk is moving too fast without listening to people who have been working to improve civility on the platform and instead using his own insular experience as one of the platform's most popular users with millions of fawning fans who hail his every move.
"You have a single billionaire that is controlling something as influential as a social media platform like Twitter. And you have entire nation states (whose) political goals are inimical to our own, and they are trying to create chaos and they are directly courting favor" with Musk, Perez said.
"There's just no world in which all of that is normal," he added. "That should absolutely concern us."
Twitter didn't start out as a cesspool. And even now there are pockets of funny, weird, nerdy subgroups on the platform that remain somewhat insulated from the messy and confrontational place it can appear to be if one follows too many hotheaded agitators. But as with Facebook, Twitter's rise also coincided with growing polarization and a measurable decline in online civility in the United States and beyond.
"The big understanding that occurred between 2008 and 2012 is that the way to get traction, the way to get attention on any social media, Twitter included, was to use incendiary language — to challenge the basic humanity of the opposition," said Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center.
Things continued to devolve as the 2016 U.S. presidential election approached and passed, and the new president cemented his reputation as one of Twitter's most incendiary users. After it was revealed that Russia used social media platforms to try to influence elections in the U.S. and other countries, the platforms themselves became central figures in the political debate.
"Do they have too much power? Do their content moderation policies privilege one side or another?" Rainie said. "The companies themselves found themselves in the thick of the most intense arguments in the culture. And so that's the environment that Elon Musk is entering now."
And beyond the bluster and the outsized personality, Musk's own description of his new job — "Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator" — may turn out to be his biggest challenge yet.
___ AP Technology Writer Frank Bajak contributed to this story.