President Donald Trump displayed an important flash of leadership on Thursday in his address to the nation after the school massacre in Florida. His words were thoughtful, comforting and even inspiring. But playing comforter in chief for the length of a news cycle won't be enough. It is the responsibility of Trump, and of other leaders, to try and make a lasting impact on the culture of a nation that, increasingly, seems emotionally lost.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sometimes the humor presented the flip side of anti-Semitism. Two impoverished Jews see a sign in front of a church offering cash to anyone who converts to Christianity. The bolder one schemes to fake it, mumble the appropriate homage to Jesus, and buy dinner with the reward. Hours later, he emerges. “Did you get paid?” his friend demands. The scornful reply: “All you people think about is money.”
Last weekend Beltway pundits may have proclaimed the White House was off the rails, but the Trump judicial nomination train remains on track. The White House announced its eleventh set of judicial nominees on Monday. As we've come to expect, the Administration put forward an impressive list of jurists, led by four noteworthy picks for appellate courts, including several who are guaranteed bipartisan support.
The latest appellate nominees are Andy Oldham (Fifth Circuit), Michael Scudder (Seventh Circuit), Amy St. Eve (Seventh Circuit) and Mark Bennett (Ninth Circuit). In addition, Trump nominated John Nalbandian (Sixth CIrcuit) and Joel Carson (Tenth Circuit) in January and December, respectively.
That night he wrote an algorithm on his laptop that connected the locations of cities and towns, and mapped them against data about conflict sourced from The Global Terrorism Database and The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
"The results were amazing," he says. His first reaction was to assume that he had made a mistake, and so he tried again. The results were better. He asked a mathematician colleague to run an independent test, which generated the same answers.
Dr Guo's algorithm connected the world as a mesh of towns and cities, and looked at the connections between them. In Dr Guo's graph, certain towns show up as larger circles signifying dense connections.
It was 2014, and in a building in St Petersburg, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) was already hard at work building its arsenal to take on US politics.
According to US prosecutors, the IRA had gathered stolen identities of real Americans, and a formidable encyclopaedia of what "works" on social media when it comes to riling up Americans talking about politics. Two members of the agency were said to have travelled to the US to gather more intelligence, a fact-finding tour taking in nine states, according to investigators.
Back on Russian soil, the IRA began posing online as US volunteers in order to gather tips on how to effectively target voters. One real volunteer, based in Texas, told the Russians to aim for the "purple states" - those where the race was going to be tighter. And so they did, prosecutors say.
Those darn Rooskies.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
It's no small amount, but it would add up to a very worthy investment.
Just as with DACA, neither party wants to solve this problem, really. If we wanted to, it would be solved. You can raise money on the promise or the threat of gun control. You can't raise money on solved problems.
Republicans didn’t get a chance to repeal ObamaCare in 2017, but at least one state has decided to test how far the Trump administration will go in enforcing it. After HHS signaled that states might be able to allow the sale of non-ACA-compliant plans, Idaho decided to take the leap. Now, NPR reports, Blue Cross has launched several new plans tailored to the needs of those who have balked at buying health insurance in the past.
Came a tribe from the North, brave and bold,
Bearing banners of Silver and Gold;
Tried and true to subdue all their foes
Go Vandals, go mighty Vandals!
Idaho, Idaho, Go! Go! Go!
The victory cannot be withheld from thee..
So all bear down for Idaho...
Come on old Vandals, go!
Steven Pinker: Identity Politics Is 'An Enemy of Reason and Enlightenment Values' | The Weekly Standard
Adam Rubenstein: If “reason” is to be “the currency of our discourse,” what’s the future of identity politics? Is identity politics based in reason? Your new book touches on the issue, but cursorily. Could you provide more of an explanation of identity politics, where it comes from, where it’s going, and how we should think about it?
Steven Pinker: Identity politics is the syndrome in which people’s beliefs and interests are assumed to be determined by their membership in groups, particularly their sex, race, sexual orientation, and disability status. Its signature is the tic of preceding a statement with “As a,” as if that bore on the cogency of what was to follow. Identity politics originated with the fact that members of certain groups really were disadvantaged by their group membership, which forged them into a coalition with common interests: Jews really did have a reason to form the Anti-Defamation League.
Thiel is in one sense a caricature of outsized villainy: he was the only major Silicon Valley figure to put his weight behind the Trump presidential campaign; he vengefully bankrupted a website because he didn’t like how they wrote about him; he is known for his public musings about the incompatibility of freedom and democracy, and for expressing interest – as though enthusiastically pursuing the clunkiest possible metaphor for capitalism at its most vampiric – in a therapy involving transfusions of blood from young people as a potential means of reversing the ageing process. But in another, deeper sense, he is pure symbol: less a person than a shell company for a diversified portfolio of anxieties about the future, a human emblem of the moral vortex at the centre of the market.
I would add to the catalog of Thielian wickednesses that he never replied to my Linked In invitation. Or maybe it was facebook. But I will say if the Guardian hates him so, how bad could he be? The website he brought down with the help of a judicial judgment, it seems relevant to add, was the vile Gawker. Freedom and democracy seemed incompatible to the American founders as well, hence their establishment of a republic, which doesn't seem to be working out so well anymore. As to getting young blood infused into him, that doesn't actually make him a vampire, but just a gullible fellow with too much money, as many of them are. If I had a gigantic lode of cash, I'd buy up some NZ property myself. It's easy to be fooled by randomness with Thiel, but he seems like a bright enough guy.
The Justice Department on Friday indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the man who should be most upset is Donald J. Trump. The 37-page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the result of the 2016 election. On the evidence so far, President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort, and he ought to be furious at Vladimir Putin.
Friday, February 16, 2018
"We think the grandparents are the ones who have an open mind and will ... make this sort of decision best for the child," Paul Hunt, an attorney for Hamilton County Job and Family Services, testified, according to court records obtained by CNN. "The parents have clearly indicated that they're not open to it," i.e. giving their daughter transgender hormones.
via instapundit. I'd guess she needs SSRI's, not hormones.
THERE is no question which country gets the starring role in “The Military Balance”, the latest annual review of the world’s armed forces by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think-tank. Amid renewed jostling between the world’s great powers, it is the pace of military modernisation in China that stands out.
When people embarrass themselves, I tend to cringe and look away. I turn off talk radio when callers make a stupid point. I feel queasy when a colleague misspeaks in a public forum. And when reading Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains, which was one of five finalists for the National Book Award for nonfiction, I felt nauseated. I was embarrassed for the author, embarrassed for Duke University and MacLean’s colleagues in its history department, embarrassed for the liberal reviewers who lauded such obviously shoddy and dishonest work, and most of all embarrassed for the prestigious National Book Award for having given it their imprimatur.
That's what I call a negative review.
Via David Bernstein at instapundit.
The Judiciary Learns To Equilibrate Between the President and the Legal Resistance | Josh Blackman's Blog
On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the eastern district of New York issued another nationwide injunction halting the rescission of DACA, but he did so in a sober fashion—similar to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on the travel ban—that will likely serve as model for a future dissent on the Supreme Court. Specifically, Judge Garaufis’s ruling avoids three indicia of resistance jurisprudence. First, he doesn’t reach out to resolve difficult constitutional questions that are not necessary to resolve the issue. Judge Alsup, in contrast, found that President Trump’s animus towards Hispanics renders the rescission unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. This holding was completely gratuitous, because he had already enjoined the policy on statutory grounds. More pressingly, it risked disabling the president from acting in numerous foreign and domestic policy contexts. Second, Judge Garaufis avoided idle political speculation, such as Judge Alsup’s theory that the DACA rescission is really a “bargaining chip to demand funding for a border wall.” This sort of punditry has no place in a judicial opinion. (Though Garaufis does include two citations to Twitter that are superfluous.) Third, Judge Garaufis does not challenge President Trump’s good faith, whereas Judge Alsup called the attorney general’s justification a “contrived excuse.”
But "uncooperative jurisdictions" such as Los Angeles, she said, have forced ICE agents to "conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk, and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests."
The Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward on four separate proposals, including one backed by President Donald Trump and a separate bipartisan bill that had been the most likely to win approval in the deeply divided Senate.
Virtually everyone appreciates that pregnant women have needs that must be considered when we're crafting policy on abortion. There are significant differences, however, between a stance that looks to balance those needs against the interests of the developing child, and one that prioritizes the mother's autonomy absolutely. However much they soft-pedal the gorier details, defenders of abortion rights are mostly committed to the second. That becomes pretty evident when they oppose any and all restrictions on abortion, and regularly decry the injustice of denying a woman her "right to choose."
Thirteen Russians have been charged with interfering in the US 2016 election, in a major development in the FBI investigation.
Three of those named have been accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five have been accused of aggravated identity theft.
The announcement was made by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian meddling.
Three Russian companies are also named in the indictment.
Trump's Florida Shooting Speech Was Good, But Can He Stick to It? | Thomas Jefferson Street | US News
The teacher had decided to build a bomb for “terror,” but rather than keep things quiet, he had teenage students emptying out fireworks for the powder in large quantities. He then started having sex with one of them, and then encouraged her to call in a fake bomb threat to relieve her boredom. If all this is true, the only thing Toro didn’t do is to install a large sign on his apartment building that said “TORO TWINS TERROR, INC.”
It should be pointed out neither Olson nor Kosar suggested pornography was some sort of noble endeavor. There are certainly questions about whether it can cause men and women to view the opposite sex as some sort of object to be enjoyed, then cast away when intercourse is over and done with. However, we do live in an age where consenting adults are allowed to pretty much do what they want, and view what they want, as long as no one is being hurt or their liberty being threatened. The better option may be individuals convincing other individuals to not view pornography, while being willing to recognize not everyone is going to agree with abstaining from smut.
Kinda interesting. Better than Teen Steam.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Law360, Los Angeles (February 15, 2018, 6:31 PM EST) -- A Los Angeles jury on Thursday awarded $13 million to a former UCLA oncologist who claims she was forced to take a job elsewhere after complaining about disparate treatment because of her gender, though it found in favor of the school on an age discrimination claim.
She describes the suspect as a white man between 30 to 40 years old, approximately 5'9" tall, 180 pounds, with dark eyes, strong body odor and rotting missing teeth. She says the man was wearing a black beanie, black jacket, grey shirt, dark pants and black shoes. He was last seen driving a late 90s model pickup truck, possibly a Ford Ranger.
Sounds like a catch.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.
Coach Aaron Feis, himself a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was fatally shot as he tried to block suspect Nikolas Cruz from harming students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas middle school. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later succumbed to his injuries.
If there is an obstruction of justice case to be made against the president in the Trump-Russia affair, James Comey is in the middle of it. President Trump's decision to fire the FBI director is often cited as Exhibit A for obstruction, and the foundation for that case is a set of seven memos Comey wrote describing conversations he had with the president between Jan. 6 and April 11, 2017.
The memos are critically important. Portions of them have been leaked to the press, given to a Comey friend, discussed in congressional testimony, and read by a few Capitol Hill lawmakers and staff. Sometimes it seems the only people who have never had a chance to see the Comey memos are the millions of Americans who are trying to make sense of the daily firehose of Trump-Russia news.
They're not likely to see the memos anytime soon. The FBI and the office of Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller have imposed tight restrictions on access to the memos, holding them even more closely than some documents that are classified at a far higher level. Now, with speculation about obstruction ever present in the media, some lawmakers are calling for the memos to be released. It's time for Americans to know what's going on, they say.
In a 9-4 decision, a majority of the judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it examined official statements from Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, and found it “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.”
The court is the second federal appeals court to rule against the ban.
The Fourth Circuit strikes again. And it used to be so reliable. That's what a decade will do I suppose. I've not read this decision and I won't. I sounds a lot like utter rubbish. "Official statements from Trump" show unconstitutionally tainted animus? Really? Is that really the best they can do?
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs was misled by his inner circle about a case involving an elderly Army veteran criminally prosecuted for displaying the American Flag at a southern California VA facility, documents obtained by Judicial Watch show. After seeing a news report about the preposterous case, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin asked his chief of staff, Vivieca Wright, to check if the story was correct, the documents show. In an electronic mail to his chief of staff, Shulkin writes that if the story is accurate “we should not be pressing charges and we should do a release saying so.” Shulkin adds: “I understand that media reports do not always tell the real story.”
Good grief. This is appalling. Ms. Wright should have to deliver an apology in person to the veteran.
Compassionately caring for the severely mentally ill is a challenge for every society. Many countries, including ours, are failing that challenge. Patients suffering from schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric disorders compose large proportions of the homeless and incarcerated. And the Netherlands has taken failure to new heights: The country’s growing trend of euthanizing the mentally ill most recently included a woman in her twenties.
I hope they're not picking people up at airports. Amsterdam is a popular hub.
Authorities in Peru have recaptured a prisoner more than a year after he escaped from jail by leaving his twin brother in his place.
Alexander Delgado had been serving a 16-year sentence for child sexual abuse and robbery in a prison north of Lima.
When his twin, Giancarlo, visited him last January, Alexander drugged him, changed into his clothes and walked out of jail.
Hummus in danger: Why climate change could spell the end for a beloved Middle Eastern dip - Science & Health - Haaretz.com
The real vandalism was letting Sutherland paint Churchill in the first place. And ponder the vandalism that is the official portraits the Obamas apparently chose for themselves and approve. You may think the Obamas simply have no taste, but the departure from the traditional mode of presidential portraits is yet another subtle signal of their contempt for American traditions. They won’t have the good sense to throw these ghastly portraits on a bonfire. (And remember: Trump is vulgar.)
To the contrary, these portraits fuel the bonfire of their vanities, especially their vanity of being different and better than the ordinary run of Americans and the presidents they followed. Just take a look, and spot the one that doesn’t belong:
There's a lot of satiric energy out there in the interwebs.
Scott wrote this morning about the extraordinary email that National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote to herself at 12:15 on January 20, 2017, within minutes of when President Trump was inaugurated. It must have been her last act, more or less, before she vacated the White House. So obviously the email was important to her. But why would it be important to send an email to herself (the only person copied was one of her aides)?
If you read the email, which Scott posted along with Senator Grassley’s letter to Rice, it is obvious that it is a CYA memo. But the question is, whose A is being C’d?
TEHRAN (AFP) -
The former chief-of-staff of Iran's armed forces said Tuesday that Western spies had used lizards which could "attract atomic waves" to spy on the country's nuclear programme.
Lizards. Attracting "atomic waves." Spying. There's a lot to digest here.
TEHRAN (AFP) -
The former chief-of-staff of Iran's armed forces said Tuesday that Western spies had used lizards which could "attract atomic waves" to spy on the country's nuclear programme.
Lizards. Attracting "atomic waves." Spying. There's a lot to digest here.
Father Raymond J. de Souza: Why Catholics may not be dining out this Valentine’s Day | National Post
Ash Wednesday this year is also Valentine’s Day, two different ways of marking time. All calendars are liturgical in a broad sense, meaning that our holidays — literally, “holy days” — reflect those things that are most important to us, the realities that we put at the heart of our culture. At the heart of every culture is the common “cult,” whatever God, or gods, or idols that we worship.
The coincidence of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day invites us to think about our common cult.
For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting, and abstinence from meat. That means no festive Valentine’s dinner for couples, or exchanging candies for children at school. Those things should be shifted to another day — Mardi Gras being an obvious example.
Brown students allege gay conservative speaker event 'violates community standards' - The College Fix
Based on their research into Benson, the Brown students believe the result of his appearance is the “silencing” of people who do not hold “privileged identities,” which they define as “white, or cisgender men, or wealthy, or able bodied” (conspicuously leaving out “straight”).
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
It drives dog owners nuts. You’re out for a pleasant stroll with your canine companion, and because some asshat didn’t pick up after their own pooch, a fresh, steamy turd is sitting right there on the sidewalk. Before you have time to react, you horrifyingly watch your supposed best friend pounce upon the poop, gobbling it down in the blink of an eye.
But why? Seriously, why?
A second US judge has blocked the White House from ending a programme barring the deportation of immigrants brought illegally to the US as children.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme cannot end in March as President Donald Trump had planned, a New York City judge ruled.
More importantly, the arguments for banning pornography seem to be confused about the actual problem. Porn itself isn’t a social ill; misogyny is. Men don’t foist unlubricated anal sex on semi-willing women in porn in a vacuum. If porn narratives sublimate female desires and feature more choking than communication, it’s because they are a product of a culture that devalues women at every stage of their lives. Porn is not the only venue, or even the principal venue, in which men learn to demean women and women learn to accept mistreatment. Look to the White House, where multiple sitting and recently departed men, including the president, have been accused by multiple women of sexual and physical abuse, but continue to enjoy the privileges and powers of an administration beloved by rank-and-file Republicans.
This is by some gal on slate. I think it's very stupid. I don't think the problem is "misogyny." Where there is misogyny, that's a problem, but the problem with pornography isn't misogyny. Sure, some porn is misogynistic. I'm sure you can find plenty of porn showing women being degraded. But a lot of porn just shows people rather implausibly going at it, engaged in sexual relations. If it's a problem, the problem with pornography is sex. I don't know what whatever wave of feminism we're on considers sex to be. Probably some elaborate version of continuous consent, where that's measured by some committee retrospectively,otherwise rape perhaps. But anyway, sex is always going to be, well, very sexual. It's going to get its claws into people. Its going to be the sort of thing that captures your attention, at least at first. Porn is good to the extent it glorifies sex. Its not good to the extent it diverts one's sexual proclivities from where they should be, which all porn is inevitably going to do. So porn is basically bad. It would be fine to ban it, but you can't without violating people's rights.
Sony Apologizes for Weaponizing a Food Allergy in Peter Rabbit, Because We Live in Stupid Times - Hit & Run : Reason.com
On Friday, the live-action/CGI animal comedy Peter Rabbit hit the theaters, finishing second at the weekend box office with a better-than-expected $25 million. By Saturday, the movie was besieged with letterheaded outrage and a #boycottpeterrabbit tweets over a scene in which title character and his siblings, in the midst of a protracted struggle against their new neighbor Mr. McGregor, successfully slingshot a blackberry into the man's mouth, knowing that he has a severe allergy to the fruit. By Sunday, the filmmakers and Sony Pictures had issued a mea culpa: "Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit's archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize."
Twenty-one aerosol artists had sued the owner of a Long Island City site known as 5Pointz under the Visual Rights Act, a 1990 federal law that protects artists' rights even if someone else owns the physical artwork. Their graffiti was painted over in 2013, and the buildings were torn down a year later.
Sounds like a dumb law.
You might be forgiven for thinking that “the Beast” of London’s Whitechapel district is a nickname for Jack the Ripper, but in fact it is the name of a much more recent villain. In September 2017, sewer workers in London discovered the Beast in the Whitechapel sewer, a “fatberg” made of oil and grease poured down London drains mixed with flushed wet wipes, diapers and condoms that failed to disintegrate. The Beast weighed in at 130 tons, the weight of about 19 African elephants and stretched 820 feet, almost stretching the total length of the London Bridge. Though it was cleaned out by sewer workers, a bit of the Beast still remains, and now, as Mark Brown at The Guardian reports, the lipid-curious can take a look at a bit of the fatberg at the Museum of London.
Law360, Washington (February 12, 2018, 12:09 PM EST) -- President Donald Trump nominated several attorneys to appellate judgeships in the Ninth, Seventh and Fifth circuits on Monday, the latest picks to fill out some of the highest-profile vacancies in the country.
“I remember going on to the operating table,” she told me. “I remember an injection in my arm, and I remember the gas going over, and Glenn, my partner, and Sue, my midwife, standing beside me. And then I blacked out. And then the first thing I can remember is being conscious, basically, of pain. And being conscious of a sound that was loud and then echoed away. A rhythmical sound, almost like a ticking, or a tapping. And pain. I remember feeling a most incredible pressure on my belly, as though a truck was driving back and forth, back and forth across it.”
This is not exactly reassuring for those who are planning on surgery in the near future. Still, it's only a small minority. Here in the US, I think you could sue.
When the Baltimore City Police Department created the GTTF, it was intended to be an elite squad of highly-trained officers tasked with seizing illegal guns. Instead, a trial in federal court has revealed that the officers went rogue, and used their power to steal money, drugs and guns, and terrorise the people they stopped.
In some cases, they even resold the very drugs and guns they were supposed to take off the streets.
Like an episode of Southland. Great show.
A Mexican man who was acquitted of murder in a San Francisco shooting that ignited a national immigration debate has pleaded not guilty to federal gun charges.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate appeared in federal court Tuesday to face two illegal gun possession charges. They were filed after a jury in November found him not guilty of killing Kate Steinle in 2015.
Garcia Zarate has been deported five times and served prison time for illegally reentering the U.S.
Under San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy, local authorities released him from jail several weeks before the shooting, ignoring a federal request to detain him for a sixth deportation.
One thing that is driving down our well-being is our declining mental and emotional health, says Dan Witters, the research director of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. “It’s an unprecedented worsening … This is nothing like we have ever seen before,” he says.
If you look at the map, the coasts seem more depressed.
He is the CEO of Pocketful Of Quarters, which, according to its website, is the “universal cryptocurrency for games.”
“This idea came up. I was coming back from school, and my dad told me about cryptocurrencies. I had this idea with games that [was] one for all your games, and that’s how this idea got started,” he told ICO Investor TV.