William Kristol Has Recruited NRO Writer and Iraq Veteran David French for his #NeverTrump Presidential Candidate? [Ace of Spades HQ]

Hm. Well, French is one of my favorite writers on the entire right. I've quoted him enough times. A few months ago I was talking with someone about actual thought leaders -- not like the Twitter people who think they're...

EPIX: No, We're Not Pulling the Katie Couric Mockumentary. But It's Now Available Only On Pay Per View. [Ace of Spades HQ]

They say this was always the plan-- debut it on EPIX as part of the station's programming, then move it into a pay-per-view sitch. "As of today, the doc moves out of the premium window -- off of EPIX --...

Assholishly Provocative (And Superiority-Signalling) Thought of the Day [Ace of Spades HQ]

A Question I Find Interesting: How Much of "Thought" Is Intellectuated, and How Much Is Merely Socialized? That is to say, how much thought is the result of someone's own private research (in terms of reading) and thinking about that...

Stupid Old Whore Katie Couric Regrets Conveying the Misimpression That She Is Stupid and an Old Whore [Ace of Spades HQ]

In what was called a modified limited hang-out during Watergate days -- a partial admission combined with a continuing denial about the deadliest of the charges arrayed against you -- Katie Couric admits when she first saw the "stump the...

More Deceptive Editing From Pay Channel "Documentarians:" AR-15 Rifle Inventor's Quote Truncated to Suggest the AR-15 Is Just as Deadly as Its Military Cousin the M-16 [Ace of Spades HQ]

He did say the AR-15 was just as deadly as the M-16, a quote that HBO's "Real Sports" (real except for all the lying) included. What they deliberately omitted was what he said immediately after saying the AR-15 was just...

Mid-Morning Open Thread: Rejected Art Edition [CBD] [Ace of Spades HQ]

Whalers Joseph Mallord William Turner 1845 Turner was seventy years old when Whalers debuted to mixed reviews at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1845. Its subject proved elusive, as the English novelist William Thackeray observed: "That is not a...

Tuesday Morning News Dump (5/31/16) Mis. Hum. [Ace of Spades HQ]

Money talks and Obama's bullshit walks V.A. paid out in $338 million in legal settlements for 2015 Deadly floods in TX Gorilla slain to protect child that fell into enclosure at zoo F.B.I. arrests man on most wanted list...

Overnight Open Thread (5-30-2016) [Ace of Spades HQ]

So I'm back...and pretty wiped out. This was a long three weeks - 1.5 weeks of work, 1 week of vacation, and 1 week of family business/hard physical labor. In the process I visited Tokyo, Yokohama, Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka,...

Sabotage progress stalled [Barry's news]

For the last few days, I have been trying to compile SeaMonkey. I have posted a report here:

The problems are mostly because of musl.

I'm thinking about going back to the grass roots. I like Sabotage. Much nicer, for me anyway, than T2.

One of the Sabotage ideas, of installing everything into /opt, I have become a bit doubtful about. But, that is how butch, the package manager, is able to create package-lists, in fact, how butch expects things to be.

Sabotage can however, install everything to /, and I have done a complete build that way, and run it from Flash stick.

Sabotage's chroot build environment is very nice, works flawlessly.

The main problem is musl. I have compiled almost everything. SeaMonkey, though, is important to me, I must have it.

So, I am thinking very seriously of forking Sabotage and redesign it to use glibc instead of musl. I will probably use LFS as my guide.

A very interesting project, going right back to basics, creating a complete compile-from-source system, integrated into a new Linux distro.
This proposed new distro is already created, I have it running on a Flash stick. It integrates Sabotage and Quirky/Puppy.
However, my proposal is to redo the Sabotage part of it to use glibc, plus some other changes.

The name for this new distro is Easy Linux. Ha ha, my ambition is soaring far above the status quo!

I won't upload the current Easy Linux. It does have Firefox, actually is running OK, but too many rough edges and broken bits.

Regarding the name Easy Linux, it is the name of a German magazine, and there was, for a few months only, a distro of that name in 2011.

I don't know if this new glibc-based-sabotage-Easy-Linux thing will actually happen. We shall see.

THE LGBTI 600 [Tim Blair]

Caring and inclusive North Carolina NASCAR fans made sure all genders had a safe space during Sunday’s big race: …


In the New York Times, Roger Cohen takes aim at Australia: Australia cruised through the 2008 global financial crisis on the back…


A review of Ben Pobjie‘s Error Australis, a leftist’s book about stupid Australia’s dumb mistakes, misspells the author’s name four times.

Memorial Day 2016 [Chicago Boyz]

A powerful and beautifully-done music video:  The war was in color

Neptunus Lex:  We remember them

Also from Lex:  A memorial day message from 2004

Update: Bookworm’s Memorial Day essay for this year is up at her site


Panama (song) [[Citation Needed]]

The song was reportedly written about a car.[3] According to David Lee Roth this was because critics accused him of writing about nothing more than partying, sex, and cars, but Roth realized that he had yet to write a song about cars.[citation needed]


Don’t just chase waterfalls, catch them 💙 Instagram:... [Dannibelle]

Don’t just chase waterfalls, catch them 💙

Instagram: @dannibelle

Thunderbolt Display Stock Limited at Apple Stores [Daring Fireball]

Joe Rossgnol, writing for MacRumors:

Apple began shipping the five-year-old Thunderbolt Display in September 2011. In terms of prospective updates, the 27” Retina 5K iMac could be the basis for a corresponding 5K Thunderbolt Display, which could feature the same 5,120×2,880 pixels resolution, USB-C ports for connecting Thunderbolt 3 peripherals, and possibly an ultra-thin design resembling the latest iMacs.

Only the late 2013 Mac Pro, late 2014 or newer 27” Retina 5K iMac, and mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics are capable of driving 5K external displays, however, and each setup requires using two Thunderbolt cables per display. The lack of support is due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 specs on current Macs.

DisplayPort 1.3 has increased bandwidth, but Skylake-based Macs with Thunderbolt 3 will not support the spec and Intel’s next-generation Kaby Lake processors on track for a late 2016 launch will not as well. Apple could opt to release a 4K Thunderbolt Display instead, but supply chain considerations make this unlikely, so the company’s exact plans for the future of its standalone display remain to be seen.

A 27-inch standalone retina display will be a genuine finally. If they announce it at WWDC, the crowd will go nuts. But just how they’ll drive it is a fascinating question. Using two Thunderbolt cables would be clunky. Maybe one cable that forks into two Thunderbolt adapters at the end?

Eddy Cue and Steph Curry Celebrating the Warriors Game 7 Comeback [Daring Fireball]

Great photo on the front page of today’s San Francisco Chronicle. It was a great series, and a great game 7. This photo really captures the passion of sports — both from a player and a fan. You can see this moment in slo-mo video at around the 2:30 mark here.

Not sure about the flip-flops, though.

Cluster of “megabreaches” compromise a whopping 642 million passwords [Ars Technica]

(credit: CBS)

Less than two weeks after more than 177 million LinkedIn user passwords surfaced, security researchers have discovered three more breaches involving MySpace, Tumblr, and dating website Fling that all told bring the total number of compromised accounts to more than 642 million.

"Any one of these 4 I'm going to talk about on their own would be notable, but to see a cluster of them appear together is quite intriguing," security researcher Troy Hunt observed on Monday. The cluster involves breaches known to have happened to Fling in 2011, to LinkedIn in 2012, and to Tumblr 2013. It's still not clear when the MySpace hack took place, but Hunt, operator of the Have I been pwned? breach notification service, said it surely happened sometime after 2007 and before 2012. He continued:

There are some really interesting patterns emerging here. One is obviously the age; the newest breach of this recent spate is still more than 3 years old. This data has been lying dormant (or at least out of public sight) for long periods of time.

The other is the size and these 4 breaches are all in the top 5 largest ones HIBP has ever seen. That's out of 109 breaches to date, too. Not only that, but these 4 incidents account for two thirds of all the data in the system, or least they will once MySpace turns up.

Then there's the fact that it's all appearing within a very short period of time - all just this month. There's been some catalyst that has brought these breaches to light and to see them all fit this mould and appear in such a short period of time, I can't help but wonder if they're perhaps related.

All four of the password dumps are being sold on a darkweb forum by peace_of_mind, a user with 24 positive feedback ratings, two neutral ratings, and zero negative ratings. That's an indication the unknown person isn't exaggerating the quality of the data. The megabreach trend is troubling for at least a couple of reasons. First, it demonstrates that service providers are either unable to detect breaches or are willing to keep them secret years after they're discovered. Second, it raises the unsettling question where the trend will end, and if additional breaches are in store before we get there?

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The 100 best stories from Radium Age sci-fi, which ruled the early 20th century [Ars Technica]

You've probably heard of science fiction's Golden Age, that incredible period in the 1940s and '50s when masters of the genre like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Jack Vance were in their primes. But the early 20th century was an even weirder and more fantastic time for science fiction, when the genre was still in flux and the atomic bomb hadn't yet transformed our ideas about the future forever. Sci-fi historian and editor Joshua Glenn has just finished a multi-year project to bring what he calls the Radium Age back into the public eye. He has brought ten Radium Age classics back into print through his indie press HiLo Books, and he has written a number of fascinating guides to the great books of that era. Now, with his definitive list of the 100 best stories and novels of the Radium Age (1904-33), he's bringing the project to a close. But the journey for you, dear reader, is just beginning.

I've always been intrigued by the excavation of forgotten sci-fi, which is why I asked Glenn to write some of his first essays about Radium Age books several years ago for io9. "With Radium Age sci-fi, I wanted to surface and read all the best novels from that overlooked era and then introduce the era to others—so at first, I figured that writing a series for io9 would suffice," he told Ars via e-mail. "But once I realized that some of the best sci-fi from the 1904-33 period had fallen into utter obscurity, I felt compelled to start an imprint and reissue 10 of the titles that seemed most worthy of resurrecting." Now that other publishers have started releasing some of the novels on his best-of list, it seems that Glenn was on the cutting edge of a cultural revival of futuristic tales that are a century old. What's incredible about looking back on the Radium Age is that you realize so many of the science fiction themes we think of as solidly contemporary—from post-humans and the singularity, to zombie-populated dystopias—actually got their start way back in the early 1900s.

Describing some of these themes, Glenn told Ars:

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Sex with 17-year-old girl is legal in Texas—sexted pics of her are kid porn [Ars Technica]

(credit: Pro Juventute)

Try to follow along. In Texas, it's legal to have sex with somebody as young as 17 years old. But it's considered child pornography to have nude pictures of somebody under 18, even if he or she is 17.

Aldo Leiva, 51. (credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office)

This means a 51-year-old Houston math tutor is facing 20 years in prison and may have to register as a sex offender for life in connection to accusations that his mobile phone contained child pornography—which were the nude photos that his 17-year-old student-girlfriend had texted him. The case against Aldo Leiva came to light after the girl's mother found explicit pictures on her daughter's mobile phone. The Houston Independent School District Police Department opened an investigation, which led to the charges against the Houston High tutor, according to court records.

Leiva posted $20,000 bond last week, and a local judge issued a no-contact order between the girl and the tutor. According to court records (PDF), the tutor gave police his phone and unlocked it for them, and nude images of the girl were allegedly recovered.

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Finally, you can load Fallout 4 mods on Xbox One [Ars Technica]

A Eurogamer video lays out how to use Fallout 4 mods on Xbox One in detail

For decades, PC gaming elitists have lorded their ability to download imaginative game mods over their dirty console gaming peasant cousins. That advantage goes away today... at least for one major recent release. Bethesda just launched an update that allows Xbox One players to download and run Fallout 4 mods (though the Bethesda mod servers seem to be melting under the strain at the moment). A similar update for the PS4 is promised for later in June.

There are a few caveats to consider before exploring the freewheeling modding scene, as Bethesda discussed in a livestream last week. All mods have to be downloaded to the console through the in-game interface (which requires a BethesdaNet account), and there's a 2GB limit to total mod storage per system. While loading the wrong mods (or loading them in the wrong order) could make the game temporarily unplayable, you don't have to worry about screwing up your save game while playing with mods loaded—a separate "modded save" will be stored alongside the standard version. Achievements and Trophies can't be earned while using mods.

Bethesda says it will be cracking down on nudity and the use of outside copyrighted content in the console mods it hosts, so forget about your dreams of running a naked Master Chief through the post-apocalyptic wasteland. As of now, 888 of the 1375 PC mods listed on the Bethesda Workshop for the game have been approved for the Xbox One, and that ratio will likely go up as Bethesda does more testing.

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No Man’s Anger: A peaceful game’s delay sparks online hate [Ars Technica]

Artist's rendition of some random Internet user reacting to a two-month game delay. (credit: Flickr / Thoth, God of Knowledge)

As someone who has been immersed in gaming and Internet culture for decades, I'm no stranger to how fans with enflamed passions can spew some heated and at times hateful rhetoric about their favorite properties online. Random Internet users can and do generate huge volumes of uncivil discussion, harassment, and sometimes even threats over everything from Mass Effect 3's ending to arguments over review scores.

Still, a portion of the reaction to news of the No Man's Sky delay in recent days seems fundamentally different in a way that has been troubling me.

The basic news being discussed here is pretty boring by game industry standards. No Man's Sky, which developer Hello Games has been targeting for a June 2016 release since last October, was first rumored and then confirmed to be delayed to early August over the past week.

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Cops can easily get months of location data, appeals court rules [Ars Technica]

(credit: Julian Carvajal)

A full panel of judges at the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals has now overturned last summer’s notable decision by the standard trio of appellate judges, which had found that police needed a warrant to obtain more than 200 days' worth of cell-site location information (CSLI) for two criminal suspects.

In the Tuesday en banc decision, the Fourth Circuit relied heavily upon the third-party doctrine, the 1970s-era Supreme Court case holding that there is no privacy interest in data voluntarily given up to a third party like a cell phone provider. That case, known as Smith v. Maryland, is what has provided the legal underpinning for lots of surveillance programs, ranging from local police all the way up to the National Security Agency.

The Fourth Circuit concluded in US v. Graham:

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Microsoft lowers Xbox One’s entry price to $299 [Ars Technica]

In a surprise move ahead of next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft has lowered the price on almost all of its Xbox One bundles by $50. That means you can now get a 500GB Xbox One bundled with either Quantum Break, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, The Lego Movie Videogame, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, or Rare Replay for just $299. Systems with a 1TB hard drive and other bundled games range from $319 to $349.

A system with a Kinect camera and three compatible games is now $349, while one with an Elite controller and a 1TB hard drive is $449.

While the prices are listed as "for a limited time" on the Microsoft website, other online retailers seem to be matching the sudden, platform-wide price drop. The Xbox One previously dropped to $299 as part of some holiday season deals in 2015 and again as part of a Microsoft Store promotion in March.

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Gravitational waves may reveal stringy Universe [Ars Technica]

Everyone has been pretty excited by the recent observation of gravitational waves. I know that I am prone to exaggeration, but gravitational waves really do open up a new way to observe the Universe.

At the moment, when we observe the night sky, the farther into the distance we look, the further back in time we see. But relationship is based on an assumption: the light we see has not bounced off anything in between us and its origin. Normally, this is a pretty safe assumption, because space is pretty big, and most of the material in it (like dust, etc) doesn't do much.

But in the very early Universe, before atoms had formed, things were very dense, so light scattered a lot. The scattering means that the information that a photon carried about its origin was lost. As a result, we can't really see much beyond the time when all the charged particles all agreed to stick together and create the first three elements of the periodic table.

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Kraftwerk loses hip-hop music-sampling copyright case [Ars Technica]

(credit: Tobias Helfrich)

After a decades-long battle, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the supreme German Constitutional Court) has overturned a ban on a song that used a two-second sample of a Kraftwerk recording.

In 1997, music producer Moses Pelham used a clip from 1977 release Metall auf Metall (Metal on Metal) in the song Nur mir (Only Mine) performed by Sabrina Setlur.

Lead singer of Kraftwerk, Ralf Huetter, sued Pelham, and in 2012 the electropop pioneer won his case for copyright infringement in Germany's Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), gaining damages and a block on Nur mir. However, in today’s judgment, the eight judges of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the lower court did not sufficiently consider whether the impact of the sample on Krafwerk might be “negligible.”

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Comcast can’t get “gigabit” tax break that was created for Google Fiber [Ars Technica]

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast has hit a roadblock in its attempt to get a big tax break that Oregon legislators wrote specifically for Google Fiber.

It looked like Comcast had won a few months ago when Oregon's Public Utility Commission ruled 3-0 that Comcast's gigabit service qualifies the company for the tax exemption. But the exemption still needed to be certified by the state Department of Revenue, and last week the department refused to do so.

The department "ruled Comcast ineligible for the tax break, at least for this year," The Oregonian reported. "The department declined to disclose its reasoning, citing taxpayer confidentiality, and referred questions to Comcast. Comcast said any information would have to come from the Revenue Department."

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Study that found cell phones cause cancer in rats is riddled with red flags [Ars Technica]

(credit: kaboompics)

Late last week, headlines blared that a new $25 million years-long US government study had finally found a clear connection between cellphone radiation and tumors in rats—striking fear in the hearts of gadget lovers worldwide. The finding—if true—would suggest we’re headed for an upsetting uptick in cancer incidence and death. Mobile phones, after all, are ubiquitous, and many among us have a near-religious devotion to them if not an unhealthy co-dependence.

Luckily for us, the study does not provide that clear link.

The study, which was not properly peer reviewed—despite what some outlets have reported—is chock full of red flags: small sample sizes, partially reported results, control oddities, statistical stretches, and a slim conclusion. In short, “there is nothing in this report that can be regarded to be statistically significant," Donald Berry, a biostatistics professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told Ars. "The authors should have used the 'black box warning.'"

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Martian ice caps tell story of massive climate shifts [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Mars' northern ice cap. (credit: ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin)

Earth has a climatic pacemaker driven by subtle patterns in its orbit. The shape of its orbit shifts slightly, the tilt of its axis bobs up and down, and that axis wobbles like a top. Add up the way all that movement affects the distribution of sunlight in the high latitude Northern Hemisphere, and you get a predictable succession of glacial and interglacial periods.

Mars has orbital patterns that affect its climate, too. In fact, Mars’ orbital cycles swing to greater extremes than Earth’s. For example, Mars’ current axial tilt is about 25°, but it has varied within a range of 18° to 48° over the past 10 million years. Those orbital changes have influenced its climate as well.

On Earth, the “ice ages” resulted in a transfer of water from the ocean into growing continental ice sheets. On Mars, the changes cause transfers of water ice from the polar caps to lower latitudes, where it forms thin layers and possibly even glaciers. When conditions tilt back the other way, ice disappears from lower latitudes and the polar caps thicken again.

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Apartment complex demands tenants give Facebook “like” within 5 days [Ars Technica]

(credit: KSL)

Remember the Florida apartment complex that got a lot of attention for giving tenants a contract banning harsh online reviews? A Utah apartment complex is going one better: instead of squelching negative reviews, owners of the complex are trying to coerce tenants into giving positive feedback.

Last week, tenants at City Park Apartments, located in Salt Lake City, received a "Facebook Addendum" posted on their doors, outlining what's expected of them. Most jarring was a requirement that they "friend" the complex within five days.

The predictable results are already rolling in. Rather than a flood of "likes," the City Park Apartments contract became a story on KSL, a local TV station. By Sunday, The Associated Press picked up the story and made it national. The complex hasn't gotten the positive feedback it hoped for; instead, it has racked up more than 800 one-star reviews on an unofficial Facebook page.

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All your disk image are belong to us, says appeals court [Ars Technica]

(credit: Magnus Hagdorn)

The government can prosecute and imprison people for crimes based on evidence obtained from their computers—even evidence retained for years that was outside the scope of an original probable-cause search warrant, a US federal appeals court has said in a 100-page opinion paired with a blistering dissent.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there was no constitutional violation because the authorities acted in good faith when they initially obtained a search warrant, held on to the files for years, and built a case unrelated to the original search.

The case posed a vexing question—how long may the authorities keep somebody's computer files that were obtained during a search but were not germane to that search? The convicted accountant said that only the computer files pertaining to his client—who was being investigated as part of an Army overbilling scandal—should have been retained by the government during a 2003 search. All of his personal files, which eventually led to his own tax-evasion conviction, should have been purged, he argued.

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Broken shifter? Top Gear’s new season fails to wow [Ars Technica]

(credit: BBC)

Top Gear, one of the BBC's most successful shows, returned on Sunday night with a new cast—and very few fresh ideas. Ratings in the UK missed the 5 million mark that host Chris Evans set as a measure for success, and the best parts were relegated to the Web-only Extra Gear, starring Rory Reid and Chris Harris. The debut could prove troublesome for a BBC that needs strong foreign sales of the show to fill its coffers in times of ever-decreasing government support.

The show, which premiered Monday night on BBC America and Sunday night on BBC Two in the UK, is the third iteration of Top Gear since 1977. The original format wasn't particularly good, but it did well because the UK had only a handful of TV channels to watch at the time. 2002 brought the Andy Wilman-produced reboot, starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Under their tenure, the show didn't just succeed with UK audiences—it built up a global cult following with fans either watching it on local broadcasters or more commonly via Internet piracy.

But last year, Top Gear's machinery ground to a halt after the show's frontman berated and then attacked a producer during a toddler-like tantrum (if toddlers punched people and called them c*nts). The latest of an increasingly long list of Clarksonian scandals was too much for the state-funded BBC to endure, and the grand oaf of television was fired. With the frontman gone, Wilman, May, and Hammond threw in the towel as well, but things ended well for the gang. They landed a multimillion dollar contract with Amazon to make a new series called The Grand Tour, which debuts later this year.

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So far, so good for NASA’s new inflatable room in space [Ars Technica]

How Bigelow Aerospace's module expanded on Saturday. (credit: NASA)

After difficulties with the first attempt to expand a new room on the International Space Station, NASA had little trouble with Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable module over the Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday morning, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams allowed short bursts of air to escape into the module, allowing it to expand, as flight controllers at Johnson Space Center checked the module's internal pressure. Then, after this initial, successful expansion, NASA pressed ahead and fully pressurized the module on Saturday afternoon.

When packed inside the trunk of a Dragon cargo spacecraft, the Bigelow module measure 7 feet long by 7.75 feet wide; when expanded, it measures 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter, creating 565 cubic feet of space and weighing 3,000 pounds. If all goes well during this week with a series of leak and pressure checks, Williams could enter the Bigelow module as early as next Monday.

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Open access should be the norm for EU by 2020, say research ministers [Ars Technica]

EU research ministers have published a commitment to make “open access to scientific publications as the option by default by 2020.” The decision was taken during a meeting of the Competitiveness Council, which is made up of ministers from the EU’s member states. In addition, ministers agreed “to the best possible reuse of research data as a way to accelerate the transition towards an open science system.”

The formal “conclusions” of the meeting define open access to publications as “free availability on the public Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers.” This is taken from the key Budapest Open Access Initiative that helped to define open access back in 2002—an indication of how slow progress has been so far.

Although the open access commitment by the EU ministers has been hailed as a “major boost” for open science by the League of European Research Universities, it is a political signal, rather than a plan for implementation. The Competitiveness Council is made up of ministers from each of the EU member states, and they have now committed their respective governments to move to open access in the next four years, but there is no legal mechanism to force them to do so.

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Asus Avalon is a bold, cable-free DIY PC [Ars Technica]

Thanks to standardised components and simplified operating systems (RIP MS-DOS), building a PC isn't all that difficult these days—so long as you're comfortable with wielding a Phillips head screwdriver, at least. Asus, however, thinks that it "can do it better."

Enter the Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) Avalon concept PC, unveiled at Computex 2016 in Taiwan: a tightly integrated system that combines the motherboard and case into one, allowing for a modular and easily upgradable system that's (mostly) devoid of complex cabling.

Plus, it looks like a hi-fi straight out of a 1970's Technics catalogue—and as we all know, retro hi-fi is so in right now.

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Backpack VR PCs are now a thing: MSI, HP, and Zotac unveil new models [Ars Technica]

(credit: lowyat.net)

What's the biggest problem with PC-based virtual reality right now? Is it the price? The lack of deep gaming experiences? Or is it that darned cord that keeps you from properly leaping around like a lunatic while playing Space Pirate Trainer? For the PC manufacturers gathered at Computex 2016 in Taiwan, it's very much the latter. Yes, in a weird and quite frankly surprising trend, HP, MSI, Gigabyte, and Zotac are all showing off backpack-based PCs for free-to-roam VR gaming.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and yes, you could just pick up a powerful gaming laptop—one of those GTX 980-based ones should do the trick—stick some shoulder straps on it, and call it a day. Indeed, that's precisely what Gigabyte did with its Aorus X7 DT laptop earlier this year, creating a custom holster for lugging the huge 17.3-inch, 3.44kg (7.6lb) device around. But this brings with it some issues, namely that a laptop's cooling system isn't really designed for being used in a backpack. That's not to the mention that, at least in the case of the Aorus, gaming laptops have terrible battery life.

MSI claims to have solved these problems with its Backpack PC, a wonderfully garish system that packs a 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 Intel processor, Nvidia GTX 980 GPU, and a battery rated for up to 90 minutes of gaming into a bright red LED-lit backpack. Weighing in at around 5kg (12lb), the Backpack PC isn't exactly light, but it does offer niceties such as being fully upgradeable (MSI is planning to bump up the GPU to a GTX 1080 in later versions), as well as a user replaceable battery. Ports are mounted at the top of the backpack for hooking up a VR headset (there's a power socket for the Vive's breakout box), and you can use the system as an odd-looking desktop PC too.

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Broadwell-E arrives: Testing Intel’s 10-core, $1,700 desktop CPU [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Intel's Core i7-6950X, its first 10-core consumer desktop CPU. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Many desktop users are going to be just fine with Intel’s standard desktop Core i5 and i7 CPUs. The company offers a wide range of quad-core chips with different levels of performance and power consumption, and there are tons of motherboards in all different shapes and sizes that offer different features for different prices. The Skylake-based Core i7-6700K is Intel’s standard desktop flagship, and for many people it offers more than enough speed.

People who need more performance (and have more cash) can look to Intel’s “enthusiast” lineup, a crop of Core i7-branded CPUs that actually have more in common with the company’s server processors than the rest of its desktop and laptop chips. Intel is refreshing that lineup today with four new CPUs based on the Broadwell-E architecture, which replaces the current Haswell-E CPUs but uses the same socket, motherboards, and chipsets.

The main thing these CPUs offer over the normal Skylake desktop parts is more cores: there are new 6- and 8-core CPUs to replace the analogous Haswell-E chips, and it’s offering an all-new, ludicrously expensive 10-core Extreme Edition CPU as well. And as is often the case, these chips showcase some technology that will eventually trickle down to the more economical processors that most people actually buy. Let’s take a look.

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Betting on the Improbable [Annoyed Librarian]

Before discussing an article about libraries I found in something called StateTech, it’s important to get bigger view of the magazine. The article about libraries is the leading article at the moment. What about the article right after it, which I shall for good reasons designate Number Two? The headline is enticing, as all clickbait […]

Surrender Without a Fight? [The Other McCain]

“Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. . . . Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. . . . Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.” — Gen. George S. Patton, 1944 Today, there is […]

Johnny Depp, Chump? [The Other McCain]

“I’m a lucky man.” — Johnny Depp, November 2014 “Johnny Depp got used, manipulated, set up and made to look like an a–hole.” — Doug Stanhope, May 2016 “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” — Benjamin Franklin The Giant Wheel o’ Karma turned against Johnny Depp last week when […]

Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015: it’s here. [Walt at Random]

goajcvrxI’m pleased to announce the availability of Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015, the results of my comprehensive study of serious gold OA: journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of December 31, 2015.

For links to the free (and complete) dataset, the free PDF ebook, and the $6 trade paperback, check the project page at http://waltcrawford.name/goaj.html

Thanks again to SPARC for sponsoring this project.

It’s not quite done yet: there will be a book-length supplement detailing subjects, and probably a book-length supplement detailing OA by country (excluding the 11 big publishers in “APCLand”). Those supplements will show up on the project page and be announced in posts when they’re ready.

A brief version of the book, roughly one-third of its content, will appear as Cites & Insights 16:5, probably tomorrow (June 1, 2016).

It turns out that I’ve been... [halls of macadamia]

...training to fight ISIS my entire life...locked and loadedMore here.


RELATED: The world is upside down

"I went to France right after the Bataclan attack and spoke to Parisians on the street. Virtually everyone I spoke to was totally oblivious to the threat of Islam and treated the whole thing like it was some random train crash. They’ve gone from tolerance and multiculturalism to self-hatred, and today they would literally rather die than offend anyone, especially Muslims."
Wake up and smell the slaughter.

Storm moving in. [Althouse]


Today, on University Avenue, at about 11 a.m.

I got out my camera because I didn't think I'd ever seen a dark line through the clouds like that. It almost looks like a photo of the lake, but that's all sky above the buildings.

Politico headline that makes no sense: "Reporter asks Trump about Cincinnati gorilla, is shamed." [Althouse]

I watched the whole Trump press conference, and it did include plenty of attacks on the press, but I absolutely do not see how Trump can be said to have "shamed" the reporter who asked about the killing of the gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo. Trump treated the question as an appropriate question for a presidential candidate and gave a serious, thoughtful answer:

"It was amazing because there were moments with the gorilla, the way he held that child, it was almost like a mother holding a baby. Looked so beautiful and calm and there were moments where it looked pretty dangerous.... I don't think they had a choice. I mean, probably they didn't have a choice. You have a child, a young child who is at stake, and, you know, it's too bad there wasn't another way. I thought it was so beautiful to watch that, you know, powerful, almost 500-pound gorilla, the way he dealt with that little boy, but it just takes one second. It's one second. It's not like it takes place over, well, he's going to do it in 30 seconds from now. It just takes one little flick of his finger, and I will tell you they probably had no choice."
Oh, I see. Boy, that headline threw me off. It wasn't Trump who shamed the reporter. The reporter, whose name is Hunter Walker, was shamed by other reporters. A Politico reporter, Edward-Isaac Dovere, said: "If you are looking for what's wrong with political journalism, this would be a good place to start." And a Wall Street Journal reporter, Reid J. Epstein, tweeted: "Whoever asked about the gorilla should meet the same fate as the gorilla." That is, Epstein said Walker should be shot to death. Incredible.

ADDED: I wondered whether Epstein is one of these characters who bemoan the decline of civility in politics. I found this of his from last August:
Donald Trump is turning the schoolyard taunt into a political art form.... [T]he intensely personal nature of Mr. Trump’s insults, sometimes mocking his rivals by mimicking them, is startling even to those who have grown accustomed to the sometimes low levels of civility in politics today.... So far, Mr. Trump seems to be paying no political price, so there is little incentive to ease up. But his critics say he is debasing the political discourse in an unprecedented fashion....
Sounds like maybe Epstein admires the aggressive rhetoric, so I'm not going to call him a hypocrite.

Does Simon Cowell see Donald Trump as a reality TV show judge? [Althouse]

The NYT asks a great question:

You basically created the role of the blunt-speaking judge on competition shows. A couple of years after you did it, Donald Trump did it on “The Apprentice” on NBC. When you see him campaigning, do you see a reality TV show judge?
He gives an answer, but it's not quite an answer to the question asked:
People are always drawn to people who speak bluntly. Whether you agree or disagree, you listen. You see the same thing with Bernie Sanders. The guy’s in his early 70s and every teenage kid is listening to him. I think Donald Trump understood when you’re on TV you have a tremendous platform. We all recognized that years ago... I always understood the significance — and still do now — the power of television. Nothing can compete with that.
Cowell is implicitly saying that his work on "American Idol" proved something that Trump either picked up and used or proved for himself. We learned that Americans are drawn to blunt speech. But is Trump campaigning in the persona of reality TV show judge? That was the question.

The answer was more: Blunt speech works — perhaps in many different situations, one of which is reality show judge and another one is running for office. It all happens on TV and TV is powerful, but it blunt speech especially effective on television? Does the effectiveness of blunt speech on television signify that it's entertainment and a person using it should be looked upon as an entertainer?

Another way of looking at this is: Why do some people avoid blunt speech? What's their motivation and can avoidance of bluntness be effective in some other way — a way that works on TV?

This gets my "clear speech" tag — possibly my favorite tag.

Number of slaves in the world today: 45.8 million. [Althouse]

 According to the Walk Free Foundation. The number is up 28% in the last 2 years.

Unlike historical definitions of slavery in which people were held as legal property, a practice that has been universally outlawed, modern slavery is generally defined as human trafficking, forced labor, bondage from indebtedness, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.
According to this definition, even the United States has slaves — 57,700 (0.02% of the population).
[In the United States,] the most reported venues/industries for labour trafficking included domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales crews, restaurants/food service, and health and beauty services. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.

Anti-vegan protesters throw hunks of meat at patrons of the bohemian Kiwi Café in Tbilisi, Georgia. [Althouse]

"Witnesses writing on social media said that customers at the cafe, who were watching an animated science fiction sitcom called 'Rick and Morty,' felt intimidated by the men, who refused to leave. The cafe referred to the attackers, some of whom wore sausages around their necks, as anti-vegan 'extremists.”

The NYT reports, noting that "[t]hroughout Europe, vegan cafes have become synonymous with the counterculture."

From the café's Facebook page: “They pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us, and finally they started to smoke... They were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

At the Hitting-the-Wall Café... [Althouse]


... what were you doing 500 million years ago?


"If Clinton wants to become the president of the United States, she needs to explain how she could make such a reckless decision." [Althouse]

Say the editors of USA Today, after detailing the 4 separate warnings Hillary ignored that her home-based email system was threat to national security.

I don't really understand what explanation is possible. She's already said it was a mistake. What we can see now is that she had to know she was doing something that threatened national security and yet she continued to do it. What explanation could make the facts appear any better? I can only think of explanations that would make it worse. So I assume we'll never hear more from her about this.

Does that mean the USA Today editors are saying Hillary doesn't deserve to be President? No. Look how they worded it — in terms of whether voters will accept her.

I got to that editorial via Instapundit, who quotes, "Clinton broke the rules" and says: "If by breaking the rules you mean committed a felony, then yes."

But the USA Today editors clearly refrain from opining about criminal law, presumably because the FBI is still working on that:

While Clinton is under potential criminal investigation by the FBI for the mishandling of classified material sent through her email.... It's already clear that, in using the private email server, Clinton broke the rules. Now it remains to be seen whether she also broke the law.
How can you be under a potential criminal investigation? That's an odd way to put it. Also, it's odd to make the distinction between breaking the rules and breaking the law. I'd like to ask Clinton to explain exactly what that means and whether, as President, she plans to insure that we all get the advantage of the rules/law distinction.

Why those who think climate change is a terrible threat should hope Trump wins the presidency. [Althouse]

Scott Adams makes some incredibly clever and possibly even correct points: 1. Trump may say he thinks climate change is a hoax, but he's saying things now for the purpose of getting elected, not because he thinks they are actually true, 2. Trump, concentrating on the task before him, getting elected, hasn't really thought through the problem and therefore has no real opinion on the subject, 3. If and when he gets elected, he'll use appropriate experts to get up to speed on the subject, 4. The theater of figuring it all out will be performed in front of the people, with the climate-change doubters paying special attention and (many of them) trusting their man Trump, 5. If Trump determines that climate change is real, he's the one person who can bring along the people who now think it's a hoax.

Adams also proposes that the theater of figuring it all out be a television show, "like Celebrity Apprentice, with advocates of both sides presenting to Trump on camera."

Trump isn’t claiming to know as much as a climate change scientist. He is staking out his brand as some sort of “common sense conservative.”...

If you think climate change is real, you probably love that idea of proving it in public. You want the world to know what you know. And if you think climate change is a hoax, you want a chance to show the world that you are right. And news organizations would eat it up. It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.
Adams is saying this is like Celebrity Apprentice, but it's also like Congress, with its tedious hearings, replete with testimony dragged down by politicians doing their prepped speeches. If the Chief Executive performed his function in public, that would create some competition for Congress and force Congress to improve the entertainment value of its horrible hearings.

It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.

"Kevin... placed his Burberry glasses on the floor beneath a placard describing the theme of the gallery." [Althouse]

"He said neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses. Within about three minutes, people appeared to be viewing their handiwork as bona fide art, though Kevin said that without his glasses, he could not see what was happening too well."

Art prank.

I say an art prank is art anyway, so what difference does it make?*

It's nice that some teenagers thought of doing this and pulled it off so quickly and elegantly, but we've seen things like this many times before, perhaps more commonly in the form of someone in a gallery staring at something that's not an artwork and causing others to regard the thing as art. I seem to remember reading about Salvador Dali doing something like that. And of course there are all the stories about some artwork being seen as trash and thrown out.


*The difference is, you're putting your art in someone else's gallery, without invitation. It's like hanging one of your own paintings on a museum wall. Or... that would damage the wall. It's like making a drawing on a Post-It note and sticking it up next to drawings in a museum.

ADDED: Back in 2011, Meade put his whole-body art in the Milwaukee Art Museum right next to the Duane Hanson sculpture, "Janitor":


Jim Sullivan Speaks On HBO About The AR-15 [The Captain's Journal]

First of all, we all know that the major networks are all controlled by communists.  HBO is no exception, and as best as I can tell, is nothing but trash.  I would have never agreed to speak to them.  Courtesy of The Firearm Blog, here is Jim Sullivan on the AR-15.

JIM SULLIVAN: “The hits on the enemy, were just fatal– almost anywhere. One guy had been hit in the ankle, and it killed him.”


JIM SULLIVAN: “They couldn’t stop the bleeding. I mean, there was just so much damage.”
DAVID SCOTT: “No matter where you hit the enemy, you’d take him off the battlefield.”

JIM SULLIVAN: “That’s right. It was more lethal than any cartridge that was fired by any army in, in history.”

[ … ]

DAVID SCOTT: “Did you ever imagine—“

JIM SULLIVAN: “No. Never even considered that—it had any civilian application.”

DAVID SCOTT: “Concern you at all?”

JIM SULLIVAN: “Of course, everybody gets concerned when there’s one of these school issues where children are killed by an AR-15. I mean, that’s sickening. But that was never the intended purpose. Civilian sales was never the intended purpose.

He responded to HBO’s editing here.  He claims himself (and is claimed by others) to be “designer” of the AR-15.  He (and others) took a Eugene Stoner design and adapted it for the 0.223.

So as to his claim, whatever.

Again I say, whatever.  Yawn.  And as for whatever response he would make of the HBO show, I would never have even said that I was “concerned” about any particular gun or cartridge being used in some crime or other.  It doesn’t matter, because another gun or cartridge could have been used, and another will be used somewhere, and that, very soon.

And I would have never said that I saw no “civilian” application to the 5.56 mm NATO cartridge, because hunting, and self defense, and the second amendment remedy for tyrants who would harm us and our families.  That’s why.  Because.

So you see, I would never have been so gullible and stupid to say such things.  They’re wrong.  And I would never have been so gullible and stupid to speak to HBO without total control over the editing, by contract witnessed and drawn up by the best legal minds money could buy.

And I would always do my utmost to speak of Eugene Stoner with hushed reverence.  And John Moses Browning.  And Eugene Stoner.  But I said Eugene’s name already.

So there.  I’m not impressed with Jim’s qualifications about the HBO editing process.  And you know Jim, you just may have contributed to more gun control in the future, and you may have given the lawyers for the Sandy Hook parents more to work with in their lawsuit against Remington.  How sad.

As for The Firearm Blog, they make hay out of the fact that it’s about firearms only.  No politics, nothing to muddle the beauty of the gun.  And then this.  Where Jim Sullivan craps on the AR-15 and TFB talks about the HBO show.  And thus the beauty of the gun is broken by politics, and so TFB broke down and did something other than what they claim.

I’ve seen other instances as well.  And it’s okay with me, since I always thought that the claim NOT to dabble in politics was mistaken and theatrical anyway.  Good grief.  Politics is another name for ethics in the categories of philosophy (if you’ve ever read any legitimate texts in philosophy like Frederick Copleston).  Let’s just not pretend that TFB is better than everyone else or “above the fray” for not addressing the pressing issues of our time.

Distribution Release: Alpine Linux 3.4.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Natanael Copa has announced the launch of Alpine Linux 3.4.0. Alpine Linux is a lightweight distribution which uses the musl C library and the BusyBox userland utilities. The latest version of the distribution supplies users with version 1.14 of the MATE desktop and version 4.4 of the Linux....

Distribution Release: Linux Lite 3.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Jerry Bezencon has announced the availability of a new release of Linux Lite, a lightweight distribution based on Ubuntu. The new version, Linux Lite 3.0, features a number of significant changes, including an overhaul of the graphical software manager. "Linux Lite 3.0 final is now available for download.....

Distribution Release: Clonezilla Live 2.4.6-25 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Steven Shiau has announced the release of a new version of the Clonezilla Live disk cloning software. The new release, Clonezilla Live 2.4.6-25, is based on Debian's Unstable (Sid) branch and features version 4.5.4 of the Linux kernel. "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.4.6-25) includes minor enhancements and....

Special Announcement: DistroWatch Turns Fifteen! [DistroWatch.com: News]

We are pleased to announce that DistroWatch has reached a milestone - we are exactly 15 years old today! This website, which began back in 2001 as a one-page HTML table reporting on the key features and package versions for a handful of Linux distributions, has grown a....

Distribution Release: Porteus Kiosk 4.0.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Tomasz Jokiel has announced the release of Porteus Kiosk 4.0.0, a major new release of the project's Gentoo-based distribution of Linux designed for web kiosks. The biggest change is a switch to the x86_64 architecture following Google's decision to drop support for the 32-bit Chrome browser on the....

And in Other Legal News … [hogewash]

… I filed an emergency motion in the Hoge v. Kimberlin, et al. lawsuit this morning.

I also filed a companion emergency motion in the Kimberlin v. Frey RICO Remnant LOLsuit under seal along with a motion to seal.

The motions speak for themselves, so I do not intend to make any public comment on them until the respective courts have ruled.

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but what if he’s only as effective as WD-39?

A RICO Enterprise? [hogewash]

There was a post up briefly at HuffPo over the weekend claiming that the FBI was ready to seek an indictment of Hillary Clinton. HuffPo has taken down the article by freelance contributor Frank Huguenard with no explanation.

Breitbart (a codefendant of mine in bogus lawsuits, including one that claimed we were a RICO enterprise) reports:

Huguenard, an apparent Bernie Sanders supporter judging by his Twitter account, wrote that the FBI will recommend indicting Hillary Clinton on racketeering charges.

Huguenard wrote:

James Comey and The FBI will present a recommendation to Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the Department of Justice, that includes a cogent argument that the Clinton Foundation is an ongoing criminal enterprise engaged in money laundering and soliciting bribes in exchange for political, policy and legislative favors to individuals, corporations and even governments both foreign and domestic.

Read the whole thing.

Logins [hogewash]

2016 MAY 31 03:04:34 UTC Home Page
2016 MAY 31 04:16:12 UTC Home Page
2016 MAY 31 04:16:28 UTC Home Page

UPDATE—2016 MAY 31 10:15:37 UTC Home Page
2016 MAY 31 10:16:18 UTC Team Kimberlin Post of the Day 1177

UPDATE 2—2016 MAY 31 15:03:10 UTC Home Page
2016 MAY 31 15:04:27 UTC Home Page

UPDATE 3—2012 MAY 31 16:10:05 UTC Home Page
2012 MAY 31 16:11:33 UTC Home Page
2012 MAY 31 16:12:32 UTC Home Page

UPDATE 4—2016 MAY 31 18:44:44 UTC Home Page
2016 MAY 31 18:56:45 UTC Home Page

ESA’s Next Asteroid Lander [hogewash]

ESA is proposing an Asteroid Impact Mission would be the Agency’s next landing on a small body since Rosetta’s Philae lander reached 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014.

If the mission goes as planned in 2022, the Mascot-2 microlander would be deployed from the main AIM spacecraft to touch down on the approximately 170-m diameter asteroid Didymoon that orvits the larger 700-m diameter Didymos asteroid.

Mascot-2 would be slowly deployed from AIM at about 5 cm/s (0.11 mph). Didymoon’s gravity levels will only be a few thousandths of Earth’s, so the landing would be relatively gentle, although multiple bounces may take place before it comes to rest.

The video shows some of the types of instruments being proposed for the lander.

Video Credit: ESA

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but how quickly would the deficit expand with that Bern rate?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

Fasten your seat belts.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism.

—Hugo Chavez

Democrats on the Benghazi committee really hope to cooperate on final report [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee want to play nice to insure the final report is not seen as too partisan. Democratic members of the committee sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy Tuesday which opened with a sincere plea for bipartisanship:

We believe the American people would be best served by a joint report that highlights findings that all Members agree on—Republicans and Democrats—followed by areas on which reasonable people may disagree.  We believe that all of our interview and deposition transcripts also should be released, consistent with classification guidelines.  In this way, the public will have the benefit of the views of all Members of the Committee, as well as the underlying transcripts for their own review.

This plan has the advantage of immediately turning every element of the report Democrats don’t like into an outright partisan conclusion, i.e. Republicans say this but Democrats say that. But if Republicans don’t fall for this gambit, Democrats have a back up plan:

If you choose not to adopt this consensus approach, then we believe the American people deserve, at a minimum, a report that has been thoroughly vetted by all Members of the Select Committee—before it is released publicly.  To accomplish this goal, we ask that you circulate your proposed draft report to all Committee Members with sufficient time to check basic facts, correct inaccuracies, and provide evidence to the contrary when necessary.  Of course, we would agree to provide you with an advance copy of any ‘minority views’ so the entire package could be released to the American people at the same time.

In short, show us your report so we can get an early start on our rebuttals, which we promise to let you read before publication. And then the Democrats suggest failure to go with plan a or plan b would result in a shoddy, partisan report. Except Democrats slip up and reveal they already think the entire effort has been shoddy and partisan from the jump:

In our view, the worst approach would be for you to publicly release a partisan report drafted only by Republicans that has never been reviewed by nearly half of the Select Committee Members.  Such a report would not have the benefit of robust vetting by all Select Committee Members and, as a result, very likely would include critical errors and other deficiencies.  The public inevitably would view this approach as the partisan capstone to the Select Committee’s two-and-a-half-year attack on Secretary Clinton.

That doesn’t sound like someone who is ready to help the committee issue an accurate, bipartisan report. It sounds like partisan Democrats attacking the entire process, including the resulting report they haven’t seen yet. And that’s really about as agreeable as this letter gets. The remainder is a litany of accusations of leaks and bad behavior by the majority. Here is a bit of the conclusion from the would-be bipartisans in the minority:

By cutting Democrats out of the process, selectively leaking misleading information to fit a partisan political narrative, withholding copies of interview transcripts in retaliation for correcting the public record, and dragging out the investigation until the eve of the political conventions, you are engaging in precisely the process you condemned.

Based on this lengthy record, we have already expressed our serious concerns about the Select Committee’s credibility.

But despite all the clear evidence that nothing good can possibly come from this, Democrats “want to make one final attempt to put politics aside” by accusing them of partisanship and publicly pressuring them to agree to one of Democrats’ preferred plans for the report. Spokesman for the majorty Matt Wolking gave a statement to The Hill:

“These do-nothing Democrats pretending to be interested in the truth are the same ones who refused to help with the investigation and wasted millions of dollars trying to undermine and obstruct it,” Wolking said in a statement.

“It’s obvious the Democrats aren’t serious, and their two-faced antics and dishonest distortions are just part of the political game they’re playing on the taxpayers’ dime,” he added.

“While they stick to knocking down their own straw men and trying to prove their predetermined political conclusions, Republicans are following the facts and working to provide answers to the families of the victims and the American people,” he added.

The committee’s final report is expected to be released next month.

Report: Bill Kristol recruiting conservative writer and Iraq veteran David French for independent run [Hot Air » Top Picks]

This was who he had in mind with that much-hyped tweet this weekend that had everyone wondering if Romney had reconsidered? An … NRO writer? Trump fans are forever deriding #NeverTrump as a “movement” consisting of, like, six guys at National Review and the Weekly Standard. And now here we are.

French is indeed an impressive person — soldier, constitutional lawyer, and a very good writer — and I’ll take Kristol’s word on the strength of the team that’s forming, but about that third part…

French wrote a piece for NRO just one week ago urging Romney to get into the race. He’s entirely unknown, I’d guess, not just outside of conservative media but even within the more populist parts of it. That problem could be remedied with enough money but it’d take a lot given Trump’s ubiquity, Clinton’s cash, and Gary Johnson’s current status as de facto none-of-the-above option. Will French have that kind of, er, bread? Will any mega-bucks Republican donor want to give it to him given the incredible financial barriers he faces in terms of name recognition and ballot access? Maybe, says Bloomberg:

Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision. One of the Republicans added that French has not lined up a vice-presidential running mate or significant financial support. However, according to this person, some conservative donors look favorably on the prospect of French entering the fray

According to one person deeply involved in the efforts to recruit an independent challenger, the search has focused on individuals who have one or more of the following three traits seen as vital for credibly such a bid: fame, vast wealth, and elective experience. Reached by phone Tuesday evening, French declined to answer questions about any possible run.

I’m not sure about French’s net worth but I’d guess he’s 0-for-3 on those criteria given that the sort of “vast” wealth needed to run a national campaign runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. As it turns out, Kristol actually touted French as a potential independent candidate in a piece published in the Standard just a few days ago. No one put two and two together this weekend, though, presumably because, um, no one thought he could possibly be serious.

A graduate of David Lipscomb College in Nashville and then of Harvard Law School, his legal practice made him one of the nation’s leading defenders of free speech on campus. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including, most recently, Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore. In 2007, having volunteered for military service, French deployed to Iraq, serving in Diyala Province as Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He lives with his wife and children in Columbia, Tennessee, and is a writer for National Review.

I happen to know David French. To say that he would be a better and a more responsible president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is to state a truth that would become self-evident as more Americans got to know him. There are others like him. There are thousands of Americans who—despite a relative lack of fame or fortune—would be manifestly superior to our current choices. And there are many, many others who stand ready to help whoever emerges to have the basic resources, assistance, and infrastructure to mount a credible effort.

Says Ed Morrissey, “Huge respect for both David French and Bill Kristol, but this is like picking George Will to pitch for your fantasy baseball team.” Yeah, it’s an especially rough spot for an unknown to be in too given how many other, much bigger names have been floated before him, from Romney to Ben Sasse to Adam Kinzinger. There’s a sense that, having exhausted everyone on the team’s depth chart, you’re now pulling fans out of the stands to play QB. I’m not sure either what the value is in picking a conservative challenger to Trump who’s even less well known than Gary Johnson is. With an independent as well-known as Romney, you wouldn’t have to worry about conservative anti-Trumpers splitting their votes among third-party candidates. They’d all go for Mitt while hardcore libertarians would stick with Johnson. Romney would probably grab enough Republicans to reach the 15 percent threshold needed to qualify for the fall debates (one recent poll had him at 22 percent early). With the unknown French, the dynamic is likely to reverse. Johnson, the better-known third-party candidate, will hold onto lots of anti-Trump Republicans on the theory that he’s the only independent who can make a dent in the fall. French will get votes here and there once conservative media starts touting him as the “true conservative” choice, but that’s not an altogether good thing: If he siphons off enough mainstream Republican votes from Johnson to push the libertarian below the 15 percent mark, they’ll both miss the debates in October. If there’s any goal that righties who oppose Trump and Clinton should be able to agree on for the fall, it’s getting at least one other candidate onstage. If 150 million people tune in to the first debate and it’s just Trump and Hillary there, the third-party figure will be marginalized on Election Day.

But let’s not overthink it. The goal here may be less about mounting a traditional campaign than simply giving the media a pretext to broadcast an anti-Trump message from the right. No reporter’s going to reprint an attack on Trump by conservative pundit David French; an attack by conservative candidate David French is a different story. Exit question: Why didn’t Kristol recruit Kevin Williamson instead? Among NRO’s many Trump critics, he’s the one who literally wrote the book on the subject.

Update: Pretty much.

Rasmussen: 50% think Hillary should still run even if she’s indicted [Hot Air » Top Picks]

We may finally have at least an indication as to the answer to one of the big questions hanging over the 2016 election. Specifically, what happens in the event that James Comey turns over to the Justice Department a recommendation that Hillary Clinton be prosecuted on felony charges related to her mishandling of classfied material on her secret bathroom email server? And, more to the point, what happens in the extremely unlikely event that Loretta Lynch doesn’t just flush the file and actually moves to charge her? The conventional wisdom dictates that Clinton would step aside for the good of the nation (or at least the Democratic Party) and turn the nomination over to someone with at least a lower chance of needing to be sworn into office from a jail cell. But this is, after all, Hillary Clinton we’re talking about here. She might just prefer to tough it out anyway. And if this latest sets of numbers from Rasmussen is any indication, she’ll have plenty of support in that decision.

Most continue to believe likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a lawbreaker, but half of all voters also say a felony indictment shouldn’t stop her campaign for the presidency.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think Clinton should immediately stop campaigning if she is charged with a felony in connection with her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of State. Fifty percent (50%), however, think she should continue running until a court determines her guilt or innocence…

Among Democratic voters, 71% believe Clinton should keep running, a view shared by only 30% of Republicans and 46% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

I suppose this would be shocking to hear if I hadn’t concluded long ago that Hillary Clinton’s voters would still support her even if she were caught on film feeding puppies into a burn barrel. Still, the demographic breakdown in the poll is a bit revealing. Of course, 71% of Democrats want her to stick it out, and the only reason it’s not higher is probably that some of Bernie’s supporters don’t want to see a total party collapse or a Trump presidency. 30% of Republicans also want her to keep running, but I expect that they’d rather run against someone who is more likely to lose because they’re on the way to prison.

The really puzzling part is that 65% of respondents said they, consider it likely that Clinton broke the law in relation to her email server use. The initial phrasing of the question could, were we to extend a massive benefit of the doubt, be construed to allow for respondents who feel that an allegation isn’t a conviction and she’s innocent until proven guilty, so why drop out? But a very significant majority seem to already be convinced that she would be found guilty anyway, yet they still want to see her run. It seems to me that there was a time when a felony conviction was pretty much a disqualifier for public office of any sort, and particularly when you’re talking about the leader of the free world. It likely says something about the state of American politics when the general consensus is that a little thing like this shouldn’t stop you.

What’s more, voters’ level of faith in our criminal justice system seems to be right on par with the rest of the government. Keeping in mind that 65% think she’s probably guilty, check this out. (Emphasis added)

Last August, 46% of all voters – and 24% of Democrats – said Clinton should suspend her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination until all of the legal questions about her use of the private e-mail server are resolved. But just 25% think it is even somewhat likely that Clinton will be indicted.

Sure, she may be guilty as sin, but barely a quarter of the country thinks that the Justice Department will pull the trigger and bring charges. And while this may be the saddest statement of all surrounding this question, I’m with the 75% on that one. Because nothing matters anymore.


Forbes: That State Department email report could result in Biden as the nominee [Hot Air » Top Picks]

The damning IG report on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has produced plenty of speculation since it came out, none of which seems to have affected the race one bit thus far. One of the more common themes seems to be that if the report (and possible results of the FBI investigation) damage her too much, the superdelegates could still take away the nomination in Philadelphia and hand it to Bernie Sanders. (There is zero doubt in my mind that this is the scenario which keeps Bernie in the race despite the nearly impossible math, and drives the DNC crazy.) But Steve Forbes has come out this week with an alternative scenario. The base seems so unhappy with Clinton and broadly divided into two warring camps that there may still be time for a White Knight to come riding to the rescue at the convention. And that man is Joe Biden. (Forbes)

There is a clause in Democratic rules that allows delegates for reasons of overwhelming conscience to not vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged.

Would this mean that Bernie Sanders could still get the nomination? Hardly.

Few democrats believe this self-avowed socialist could actually beat Donald Trump in the general election. As displayed in Sander’s New York Daily News editorial board interview conducted on the eve of the New York primary, the man is remarkably ignorant, despite all his years in the House and Senate. Donald Trump would make mincemeat of him.

Which leads to a once-unimaginable scenario: Democrats turning to Vice President Joe Biden to save them from certain defeat. While faithfully serving President Obama, Biden is seen as a statesman who could lower today’s feverish political temperature. He is regarded as an individual who could cut deals on Capitol Hill and get things done. To bolster his candidacy, he could hint that he would serve only one term.

First of all, I was completely unaware of any clause in the Democratic convention rules which allows the pledged delegates to abandon their appointed candidate for reasons of “overwhelming conscience.” I’ve been through the overview of their rules a few times and seen no reference to this, but Forbes has been around the block more than a few times so I’ll take his word for it. As an aside, can you imagine if the Republicans had a rule like that? We’d probably still have a dozen candidates in the running.

But even assuming it’s true, would the delegates really be so quick to toss Bernie an anchor instead of a life preserver in July? If this scenario played out as indicated in terms of Clinton becoming essentially unelectable, that would be precisely the trigger that the Bernie Bros would need to raise the victory flag. The only path under normal rules for a non-Clinton choice would be for the superdelegates to switch to Sanders in a herd and crown him as the nominee. To have the party elders turn around and kick him to the curb yet again in favor of somebody who didn’t even run would very likely spur riots that would make the most raucous Trump rally protests look like High Tea with the Queen.

If they did it, however, the GOP might be in a lot of trouble. In conservative circles, Biden is looked upon as something of a goofy guy with an inappropriate sense of humor, but mostly harmless. In Democratic circles however, the man carries a ton of respect and his likability numbers are through the roof. When Democratic and left leaning independent voters have a moment to consider their current choices on both sides of the aisle (the two most unpopular candidates in living memory for most of you) you could easily see them flocking to Crazy Uncle Joe like a chuck wagon nearing an army of starving soldiers.

I still don’t see it happening, with all due respect to Steve Forbes, but it’s certainly something to ponder.


Trump on Susana Martinez: If a Republican’s not on my side, why should I be particularly nice to them? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

It’s quite simple, wrote Byron York last night, attempting to solve the mystery of why Trump would go after a popular Republican governor in her home state. (Even Trump crony Newt Gingrich was baffled by it.) Martinez was critical of Trump, York reasoned, so Trump’s being critical of Martinez. Step out of line against the nominee and he’s apt to whack you pour encourager les autres. Right, but where does that get you? It’s not going to stop Martinez, who’s term-limited and has nothing to fear. If anything, it might antagonize her and her allies to attack harder. Meanwhile, it’s bizarre to have the party’s nominee screeching about unity on the one hand while using his rallies to settle grudges with Republican critics on the other. He hit Ted Cruz a few days ago seemingly just for the fun of it, even though Cruz hasn’t said anything more critical of Trump since leaving the race than that he’s reserving judgment on whether to support him for now.

If you’re a Republican voter who’s on the fence about whether to back Trump because you’re worried that he won’t be a loyal GOPer once elected, watching him swing at Martinez and Cruz et al. is a reminder that, yeah, you should be worried. It’s no coincidence that he’s apt to use the word “they” instead of “we” when referring to the Republican Party. And the punchline is, Trump doesn’t need to do any of this to get what he wants politically. Republican pols already understand that they risk losing Trump supporters in their own elections this fall if they speak out against him. Trump doesn’t have to remind them by making an example of Martinez. On the contrary, politely declining to engage would signal to them that he’s capable of governing like a more traditional politician, which would put them more at ease in supporting him. And as for Martinez herself, a charm offensive would probably accomplish his goal of getting her to back off more effectively than attacking her would. If he was complimentary of her, she’d look small by continuing to criticize him and would validate the complaint that it’s Trump’s critics, not Trump himself, who are the biggest obstacle to unity.

To Trump, there was something more important at work. “[Martinez] continues to attack him publicly and privately,” one person in TrumpWorld told me recently. Trump has made a principle of hitting back harder than he is hit. And he has been so effective that many Republicans, elected and not, have decided the smart thing is to refrain from taking on Trump, even if they oppose him…

Trump confirmed as much at his news conference Tuesday. Asked why he went after Martinez, Trump said, “She was not nice. And I was fine — just a little bit of a jab. But she wasn’t nice, and you think I’m going to change? I’m not changing, including with her.”

Trump continued: “If I have a Republican that’s not on my side, why should I be particularly nice to that person? I’m not going to go after her like I would Hillary or Crazy Bernie, but you know what? Why should I be nice to that person? If I have a person that’s not going to support me, I have no obligation. Politically, I may be right, I may be wrong, but that’s who I am. I’m a very honest person. If somebody is going to say a little bit negative or a lot negative about me, and if they happen to be a Republican, I may choose to hit them back. Not always, but I may choose to hit them back.”

Why not just ignore her? I follow political news for a living and I’d missed nearly all of Martinez’s Trump criticisms — until he went after her and made it a thing. There are no more than a handful of Republicans in the United States with a national media profile large enough to create major headlines simply by attacking him. George W. Bush and Mitt Romney are two, but they’re not well-liked by the general electorate and are disdained even by swaths of the GOP. There may be no one on the right with enough media juice to really damage Trump in a war of words, in which case there’s nothing to be gained by him in engaging them. Just stick to Hillary. That’s the best medicine to encourage party healing in the end. Instead, the question must be asked: Is this guy actually going to attack fellow Republicans from the podium at the convention? Shots at Bush and Romney are a fait accompli but at least there’s an electoral logic to those. I’m talking about attacks on rank-and-file GOPers who’ll end up skipping the convention because they don’t support him. Strategically it’d make no sense, but I’m not so sure this is about strategy anymore. Remember, his favorite Bible verse is “an eye for an eye.” This is just who he is.

By the way, his comments about Martinez today came at the same presser in which he announced that his fundraiser for vets this spring raised $5.6 million. One million of that was his own money, which he finally ponied up after pledging to do so back in January once a WaPo came sniffing around asking him whatever happened to that donation. Trump didn’t like that and went after the press again today for paying so much attention to how and whether the money had been disbursed. Key quote:

“I wanted to keep it private, because I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”

He made a big show of hosting the fundraiser, which was carried live on CNN, back in January as a pretext for skipping the Fox News debate with Megyn Kelly. Now his charitable activities are nobody’s business. W-w-w-what?

Here he is answering a question from our very capable media about whether the zookeepers should have shot that gorilla because this is what politics in America is now, apparently. Exit question: Does Trump want to see congressional Republicans who’ve refused to endorse him defeated this fall? That’s the only inference I can draw from his willingness to attack rank-and-file GOP pols at rallies. Earning Trump’s wrath publicly means some of his supporters are less likely to vote for you down-ballot, which means the chance of a Democratic upset rises. Does Trump want to see unfaithful Republicans — who are still more likely to vote for his agenda in Congress than lefties are — punished by losing? If not, why doesn’t he shut up and lay off of them for his own sake?

Hate speech law used to stifle online dissent in Russia (Update) [Hot Air » Top Picks]

In Russia, hate speech is whatever the government says it is. That’s how dozens of people have ended up in prison for sharing things on social media that are critical of Putin’s newly expansive state. In particular, authorities cracked down on online criticism of Russia’s seizing of Crimea. In fact, in 2014 Putin signed into law a bill which made criticisms of Russia’s expansion a criminal offense. The Associated Press reports:

[Andrei] Bubeyev spent a lot of time online, sharing links to various articles on his VKontakte page and engaging in political debates on local news websites, his wife says.
In spring 2015, he left town to work on a rural construction site. After investigators couldn’t get through to him on the phone, they put him on a wanted list as an extremism suspect. When Bubeyev stopped by to visit his wife and young son at their country cottage, a SWAT team stormed in and arrested him.

His wife now lives alone with their 4-year-old son in a sparsely furnished apartment on the ground floor of a drab Soviet-era apartment block. After her husband was arrested, Anastasia Bubeyeva, 23, dropped out of medical school because she couldn’t find affordable day care for her child, who still wears an eye patch for an injury he suffered when he bumped his head during the raid.

Several months after his arrest, Bubeyev pleaded guilty to inciting hatred toward Russians and was sentenced to a year in prison. His offense was sharing articles, photos and videos from Ukrainian nationalist groups, including those of the volunteer Azov battalion fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Among them was an article about the graves of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine and a video describing Russia as a “fascist aggressor” and showing Russian tanks purportedly crossing into Ukraine.

Less than two weeks after the verdict, Bubeyev was charged again. This time, he was accused of calling for “acts of extremism” and “actions undermining Russia’s territorial integrity.” He had shared the picture of a toothpaste tube and also an article under the headline “Crimea is Ukraine” by a controversial blogger, who is in jail now, calling for military aggression against Russia.

Here is the image Bubeyev shared which eventually got him two years in prison. The cartoon reads, “Squeeze Russia out of yourself!”

Russia toothpaste cartoon

Another interesting aspect of this case is that Bubeyev only had 12 friends on his VKontakte page (which sounds like a Russian version of Facebook). His attorney says the settings on his account meant that only those 12 friends would have seen the material which led to his conviction. So how did it come to the attention of Russian authorities? VKontakte declined to offer an explanation when asked by the Associated Press, but this graph from the story does give a hint:

VKontakte founder Pavel Durov sold the site and fled Russia in 2014, claiming that he had come under presser from the security services for VKontakte to disclose personal data of the users of a group linked to a protest movement in Ukraine. The company is now controlled by the media holding of Kremlin-friendly billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

This is not an isolated case. The AP notes several more instances where Putin’s critics have received serious jail time for posting things online. The cases appear somewhat random which may be the point. Bubeyev’s lawyer tells the AP, “Andrei Bubeyev thinks that he was charged as an example so that other ordinary citizens would be discouraged from expressing their opinion.”

Update: Politico reports Twitter has suspended a parody account mocking Putin:

A popular Twitter account impersonating Russian President Vladimir Putin has been suspended, the latest in a series of accounts spoofing Russia and its officials to be banned from the social media site.

The @DarthPutinKGB account, which had more than 50,000 followers, was no longer visible Tuesday afternoon, with a brief note explaining “This account has been suspended.”

Poland revives extradition hearings for Roman Polanski [Hot Air » Top Picks]

We’ve been down this road too many times now for me to get my hopes up overly much, but there’s some fresh movement in Poland over the possible extradition of convicted pedophile rapist Roman Polanski to the United States. When we last checked in on the story, a court in Poland had rejected calls for extradition, allowing him to continue his life of leisure and celebrity beyond the reach of justice. Now, however, the country’s Justice Minister has announced that he’s appealing that decision and will seek a new hearing.

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro says that he plans to appeal a decision not to extradite film director Roman Polanski to the U.S., where he faces a sentence for statutory rape.

A Krakow court ruled in October that Polanski’s extradition was “inadmissable.” Polish prosecutors said they would not challenge the prosecution at the time, but Ziobro, who is also the country’s prosecutor general, says he will make the fresh appeal in Supreme Court, reports the BBC.

Time sticks with the soft sell of Polanski’s horror-filled past, describing his final legal proceedings in 1978 as, “pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.” While this may be technically correct in a legal dictionary, it’s far from the reality of what this monster was up to with God only knows how many children. The term statutory rape carries with it the somewhat milder implication of children engaging willingly in adult sexual behavior before they are old enough to offer informed consent. Polanski drugged 13 year old Samantha Geimer in his home and then raped and sodomized her. While Geimer has come out in public saying that she’s forgiven her attacker and opposes the extradition, wanting to put the past behind her, that doesn’t mean that the wheels of justice need to grind to a halt.

Thus far we’ve been unable to lay a glove on this creature, despite my calls for extraordinary rendition as a way of getting him back to the United States and in front of a judge. The sad reality is that he remains something of a local hero in France and Poland so authorities seem to act with caution rather than angering their own citizens by turning him over. Polanski retains a lot of influential friends in Hollywood as well, who frequently downplay his crimes because the sexual assault of a child apparently isn’t such a big thing out there.

That attitude makes you wonder if the recent claims by Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood about Hollywood being a den of “sexual vipers who prey on children” is a systemic problem, though he later “clarified” his comments.

“Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind,” said Wood. “There is darkness in the underbelly. What bums me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power. That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people: they can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged.”

Corey Feldman said the same thing a couple of years ago, eliciting little more than a collective yawn from the glitterati. But when there’s this much smoke there’s almost got to be some fire underneath. This is likely a plague which has been going on for a very long time and Polanski was just an early indicator. But when nobody in the industry seems to care and they won’t help law enforcement capture the guilty, how do we combat it? Bringing Polanski back to the US and locking him up for the rest of his miserable life might be a good start.


Katie Couric: On second thought, I can see why that highly deceptive edit in our gun-control movie might be misleading [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Last week, when gun-rights advocates first cried foul, she sniffed that she was “very proud” of the film. Now, in a statement posted this morning, she’s claiming the edit bothered her too the first time she watched it. What happened?

Here’s a safe bet. So long as it was only activists on the right who were criticizing her, Couric and her team could shrug it off and refuse to address the edit. They’ll wear the attacks from “gun nuts” like a badge of honor, no matter how meritorious they are; it’s good PR for a movie about gun control. Once “respectable” media echoed the criticism, though, it risked undermining the moral authority of the film, which is the whole point of gun-control propaganda. A critique of the media-political class from the right isn’t credible until someone from the class itself validates it. The same dynamic explains why the New York Times’s story last week about the controversy ran under the headline, “Audio of Katie Couric Interview Shows Editing Slant in Gun Documentary, Site Claims.” There was no need for that last bit. The Times could have checked the work of Stephen Gutowski and the Washington Free Beacon in five minutes and declared as a matter of plain fact that the footage had been edited deceptively. They felt obliged to hedge by noting that this is merely what the Free Beacon “claims” only because the Beacon is a right-wing site and thus is presumed untrustworthy until someone not of the right has vouched for it.

As Executive Producer of “Under the Gun,” a documentary film that explores the epidemic of gun violence, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless.

When I screened an early version of the film with the director, Stephanie Soechtig, I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a “beat” was added for, as she described it, “dramatic effect,” to give the audience a moment to consider the question. When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response.

VCDL members have a right for their answers to be shared and so we have posted a transcript of their responses here. I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.

“Dramatic effect,” huh? I didn’t realize it until I read this Examiner post but it turns out other Couric productions have also allegedly used creative editing to falsely suggest that Katie stumped an interviewee who was on the wrong side of an issue. From an account of Couric’s 2004 production “Fed Up”:

“I am told from others who have seen the film that a clip is shown in which I am asked a question about how one would ideally test whether sugar sweetened beverages contribute to obesity, and that I ask for a few moments to collect my thoughts; after showing me think for about 10 seconds, the camera cuts away before I give my answer,” says Allison, who hasn’t seen the film. “If this is the case, the film-makers’ behavior seems counter to thoughtful dialogue. To ask me a question and edit out the answer, and I did answer every question, shows a lack of interest in a discussion of the evidence.”

Precisely. The “stump the chump” edit is what you do when you want to make the subject look like an imbecile for opposing the conventional liberal position, not when you’re interested in a discussion. (That’s why “The Daily Show” loves it.) I was curious about Couric’s “dramatic pause” defense, though, so I asked Gutowski, who’s seen the entire film, whether the full exchange with the VCDL members appears at any point. After all, a “dramatic pause” between question and answer would involve extra time being added between the two to create the illusion that the question was difficult for the subject. If the answer is never shown, however, that’s not a pause. That’s a full redaction, implying that the subject was unable to answer the question at all. According to Gutowski, the film never returns to the exchange with the VCDL members to show their responses. Which means, even in damage-control mode, Couric’s being misleading about what the editors actually did and why.

Her best defense, frankly, may be that this is SOP by filmmakers who favor gun control when interviewing subjects who don’t. Via Becket Adams, here’s a few minutes of footage from the segment in “Under the Gun” that features the VCDL members. Note the bombastic operatic music at the beginning designed to mock their enjoyment of shooting at the range.

Clinton’s campaign chairman just revealed Hillary lied at her UN press conference [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Ed has already highlighted Podesta’s weekend letter to supporters in his write up today but I wanted to spell out one aspect of it in more detail…

Over the holiday weekend Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta sent a message to campaign supporters which attempts to address the State Department Inspector General’s report on the email controversy. BuzzFeed published the letter Monday. It reads in part [emphasis added]:

What has also been missed in a lot of the discussion is that the report brings to light the longstanding and systemic problems in the government’s electronic recordkeeping systems.

Secretary Clinton believed her emails to and from officials on their state.gov accounts were automatically captured and preserved in the State Department’s electronic system.

It was not until the Department contacted her in 2014 that she learned this was not the case. And since then, she has taken unprecedented steps to ensure public access to her emails — providing the Department with all of her work-related emails, totaling 55,000 pages, and calling for their release.

This portion of the letter is important because it deals with one of the central faults the IG report found with Clinton’s behavior. The report concluded that she failed to abide by record-keeping rules that required her to turn over official documents before leaving her post:

At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.

In fact, she did not turn over her email until nearly two years after leaving office, and only then when she was asked to do so by the State Department.

But notice the timeline that Podesta has offered here. He is saying that Clinton believed her email had been “automatically captured” whenever she emailed someone on a government account. It wasn’t until “the Depatment contacted her in July 2014 that she learned this was not the case.” So before July 2014 she believed her email was being captured automatically. After July 2014 she knew that wasn’t true.

So why was Hillary telling the media her email had been automatically captured in March 2015? At her email press conference at the United Nations she had four bullet points she wanted the press to grasp. Here are the first two of those [emphasis added]:

There are four things I want the public to know.

First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.

Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.

Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.

Clinton returned to point #2 near the end of the press conference when directly asked about the need to turn over records before leaving office. Here is her response [emphasis added]:

Under the Federal Records Act, records are defined as reported information regardless of its form or characteristics, and in meeting the record keeping obligations it was my practice to email government officials on their state or other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved.

Now, there are different rules governing the White House than there are governing the rest of the executive branch, and in order to address the requirements I was under, I did exactly what I have said. I emailed to people, and I not only knew, I expected that then to be captured in the State Department or any other government agency that I was emailing to at a .gov account.

Do you see the problem here?

According to Podesta, once the State Department contacted Clinton in July 2014, she realized that her email had not been automatically “captured and preserved.” That makes sense. If it had been captured and preserved, the State Department wouldn’t be contacting her looking for her emails. And yet, nine months later Clinton was telling the media that the “vast majority” of her emails “were captured and preserved immediately” because they went to other government accounts.

It’s not just that Clinton was wrong about her email being captured and preserved. The problem here is that, according to her own campaign chairman, she knew it wasn’t true when she said it months later.

Campaign for Britain to leave EU gains steam over immigration concerns [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Things are heating up in Great Britain as the vote on the Big Brexit approaches. The Brits seem to be generally split on the subject, with those wishing to remain in the European Union holding a slim, but statistically solid edge over the past month. There are signs that things may be changing however, with recent polling indicating that the “Leave” forces are gaining ground. The one subject which seems to be winning them some points has less to do with currency exchange rates and nearly everything to do with the flood of migrants invading Europe and concerns over border control. (The Telegraph)

Public concern over immigration has delivered a “significant” boost to the Leave campaign amid growing concern about Britain’s ability to control its borders, a new poll suggests.

Leave now has 46 per cent of the vote share, with Remain on 51 per cent. The five point gap has been cut from 13 points last week.

The poll, by ORB, was carried out last week when new figures revealed that migration had risen to record levels; forecasts showed that immigration would add 4 million people to Britain’s population; and images of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean in their attempts to get to Europe emerged.

The British are dealing with what’s being described as the worst ever borders breach this summer, and have already ordered a new fleet of patrol boats to monitor the English Channel looking for smugglers. That’s on top of the problems they’re having with people coming through the tunnels. The levels of migrant crime in the UK don’t seem to be on par with what we’ve seen in Germany and surrounding environs (or at least don’t get as many headlines) but concerns are still being discussed.

The big issue does seem to be the volume of migrants, though. David Cameron had previously indicated that he would throttle back on the numbers, reducing them to just the tens of thousands for this year, but that hasn’t happened and he’s taking some heat over it from the public. That’s one of the key factors cited in this recent round of polling, in addition to phrases such as, “give us greater control of our lives.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to translate that one.

The exit question from this survey is one which is already showing up in British media. Cameron’s popularity is taking some hits over this subject and he’s being regularly attacked over it by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, a vocal Brexit supporter. Is this a bid by Johnson to move into a national leadership role now that his old job is finished? If so, you can bet he’ll be pushing a bit more of a secure borders agenda and not trying to keep the UK in the European Union.


McConnell: Trump won’t change the GOP [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Is that the real question, though? After a year that confounded longtime observers of the Republican Party and much of its leadership, Hugh Hewitt’s question to Mitch McConnell on this morning’s show might aim at the wrong dynamic. The Senate Majority Leader assured Hugh that Donald Trump will not change the GOP — but perhaps the better question might be whether the GOP has changed already — and that Trump is the product of the change, rather than an agent of it:

HH: You also write a defense of the Republican Party. We are the party of –I say we, because I am a lifetime Republican– abolitionism, the Homestead Act, land grant universities, women suffrage, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You were very disappointed in Goldwater, though he got you motivated into politics [by him] when he did not support the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We are for public infrastructure that’s generally Hamiltonian, like ports and roads and stuff like that. But does the Republican Party have an identity crisis, because Donald Trump said he’s going to change the nature of the party, Senator McConnell? And I don’t know much. If I come around to supporting him, it’ll be because of that Supreme Court, and because he’s going to rebuild the military. But I’m not sure he’s bought into the historical limited government theory. Do you?

MM: Well, whether he has or not, he’s not going to change the Republican Party. You know, we’ve had nominees before who were not deeply into Republican politics and philosophy. Think of Eisenhower, for example. But Trump is not going to change the institution. He’s not going to change the basic philosophy of the party. And I’m comfortable voting for him, because on the big things that I think have the greatest impact on the future of the country. At the top of the list is the Supreme Court, I think he’ll be just fine.

What, pray tell, is the basic philosophy of the party? Officially, it’s movement conservatism that rely on free markets, free trade, limited government, and pro-life positions — with some allowances for pragmatism and openings for good-faith negotiations. The GOP had several candidates that represented that basic philosophy, at least as understood before this cycle. Most of them never made it to the first primary event — Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry come to mind — and the rest faded away shortly afterward. Trump won with an explicitly anti-free-trade program, has barely given lip service to the pro-life movement, and has appeared temperamentally unlinked from limited government and restrained executive power.

The party’s voters rewarded that with the nomination. What does that tell us about the “basic philosophy” of the party? Perhaps the Republican Party platform hasn’t changed, although that process will be interesting to watch in Cleveland after this cycle, but the Republican Party electorate certainly appears to have changed.

To McConnell’s point, though, that may not last terribly long, for better and for worse. Ronald Reagan changed the basic philosophy of the party, but he spent decades on the ground building up that transition for the party — first on the General Electric dinner circuit, then with Barry Goldwater, through two terms as governor of California, and then finally on his second attempt at the GOP’s nomination. Reagan had a specific ideological agenda. In this sense, Trump’s not going to move the party, because Trump is almost exactly the opposite — a politician who can be counted on to be entirely transactional, and whose base consideration in those transactions is entirely personal.

That may not be all bad, either. Voters, especially those in swing states, are tired of ideological wars and want problems to get fixed. Trump’s Let’s Make a Deal approach will appeal to them, and that won’t necessarily impact the party’s philosophical position much. However, the flip side to this is the potential for losing the edge Republicans assume they’ll get as the party controlling the White House. If Trump wins and the GOP holds the Senate, then Trump will absolutely stick to his Supreme Court list and govern from the Right. If Democrats take control of the Senate in a Trump presidency, though, will Trump fight through filibusters over Supreme Court picks — or will he cut deals with Democrats to make himself look like a winner? If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure as governor in California provides any precedent to celebrity executives, watch out — or at least double efforts to hold the upper chamber.

Report: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger nearly ran as an independent, “literally to save the union” [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Here’s an insight, I guess, into whether conservatives who are trying to recruit an independent candidate on the right really are in it to win it or are just looking for a spoiler to damage Trump. Kinzinger’s a veteran but he’s all of 38 years old, with less than six years’ experience as a legislator. His national name recognition must be close to absolute zero. He was also a Jeb Bush supporter in the primary, an unusual fit given Kinzinger’s youth and the rap on Jeb as a Republican who was no longer in touch with his party. Running a Jeb surrogate in the general election in hopes of attracting a contingent of conservative ideologues who were anti-Bush in the primary is an … interesting strategy.

But if all you’re trying to do is sink Trump by giving anti-Trump righties a “mainstream” outlet for a protest vote, then yeah, Kinzinger — or pretty much any other Republican official at any level — will do. I can only assume that’s what CNN’s source had in mind with the bombastic reference here to saving the union. Maybe the #NeverTrump recruiters have concluded that Trump is an existential threat to American stability and that handing the election to the crooked yet predictable Democrat is a patriotic duty.

Their continued work to halt Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, comes as Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a prominent GOP congressman from Illinois and Iraq War veteran, has decided to pass on an independent bid.

Adam Kinzinger, 38 and in his third House term, would have considered mounting an independent bid had the barriers to an independent run not been so daunting…

Kinzinger, previously a prominent surrogate for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would have undertaken a third party run “literally to save the union,” according to a source familiar with his thinking, because both Clinton and Trump scare him. But Kinzinger does not think the infrastructure exists to get on the ballot in a number of states at this relatively late date.

Arguably, unless the recruiters for an independent challenger can get a truly big name on the order of Romney, Gary Johnson would be a better vehicle for damaging Trump than Kinzinger or some similar Republican backbencher would. The fact that Kinzinger’s a conventional GOP politician would turn some people off; the fact that he’s a centrist and a Bush fan would turn off anti-Trumpers who are in an anti-establishment mood; and he’d lack the media buzz Johnson currently enjoys as a true third-party candidate whose party might make a historically strong showing this fall. If all you’re looking for is a right-wing protest vehicle to draw votes from Trump, a libertarian preaching smaller government fills the niche just fine. The only big risk that Johnson presents which a partisan like Kinzinger might not is that he could draw votes from disgruntled anti-Hillary liberals too. That’s an upside for Johnson himself, of course, but if you’re a diehard anti-Trumper whose first task is keeping Trump out of the White House then Johnson, by taking Democratic votes too, arguably does less to achieve that than someone like Kinzinger would. It would all depend, of course, on how many more votes Johnson might end up with than a conventional Republican independent would and what the partisan split among those votes would be.

As for that “truly big name on the order of Romney,” Team Mitt continues to insist that it won’t be Romney himself. A source close to him told CNN when asked if he’s rethinking his decision not to run, “No, no, no, no, no. I promise you. No.” So, that’s that.

Exit question: What if Jeb Bush ran as an independent to spite Trump? All of the criticisms of Kinzinger’s candidacy would still apply, but Jeb is a much bigger name thanks to his national run this year and, as Trump’s chief antagonist in the primaries, he might get a sympathetic new look from anti-Trump Republicans who opposed him this past spring. If you’re going to run a Jeb guy, you might as well go all-in and run Jeb himself. Force conservatives who don’t like either of them (like me) to choose: When the alternative is a mercurial populist strongman with a bumper-sticker grasp of policy, is a wonky dynastic establishmentarian squish really the worst the GOP can do? Hmmmm.

As predicted, Chicago turned bloody over Memorial Day weekend [Hot Air » Top Picks]

We talked about this over the weekend with at least the vague hope that things in Chicago might turn out better than predicted. The death toll, largely caused by gang violence, has been on the rise in the Windy City and the police were concerned that the three day weekend would set the stage for more of the same. Of particular concern was the recent trend of shootouts spilling over onto the expressways during rush hour traffic. But the cops had extra patrols out on the streets and were even putting choppers in the air to keep a lid on things.

Well… so much for that. By Sunday night the situation was already deteriorating. (Chicago Tribune)

At least 12 people were wounded Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning in South and West side shootings, following about two dozen other attacks during the Memorial Day weekend that has left four dead and four dozen wounded.

As of Sunday afternoon, the majority of the shootings have happened on the West Side within a half-mile of the Harrison District. Officials said Sunday that police would increase presence in the district because of the levels of shootings Friday and Saturday.

Despite ratcheting up enforcement efforts, by the close of Memorial Day the death toll rose further. (ABC local)

A source tells ABC7 unofficial, internal police department data has this year’s shootings surpassing the number during last year’s Memorial Day weekend.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson says the violence has to do with “too many guns and too many people willing to use them.”

That may be the reason for an unofficial tally that includes five people killed and 55 others hurt in shootings from 12:01 a.m. Friday until around 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Those numbers do not include three highway shootings under Illinois State Police jurisdiction.

Eddie Johnson was only appointed last month as the new police superintendent. He was approved unanimously by the City Council in a procedural move which waived the normal vetting process and eliminated the standard procedure of having three finalists nominated for consideration. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been under fire for a series of police shootings and protests in the streets, and Johnson was appointed specifically with a mandate to “restore trust and repair relations with the community.” It was a choice which was under fire from community leaders before he was even sworn in, because Johnson was viewed as a “cop’s cop” from inside the system. (Crain’s Business)

The mayor’s pick, Eddie Johnson, is wholly unqualified to bring about the revolution in policing policies and practices that Chicago so desperately needs. If ever there was a time to not hire a rank-and-file cop’s cop from the patrol division—one who says he’s never witnessed a single incident of misconduct in his 27 years on the force—this is it.

The supreme irony of Johnson’s appointment, though, is that it comes just as Emanuel’s task force on accountability is calling for massive, dramatic, game-changing reform in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video.

Johnson’s appointment is the exact opposite of that.

If anyone was expecting Johnson to somehow turn things around on the streets of Chicago in under a month they were delusional. You’re asking an awful lot of one beat cop who came up through the ranks and is now supposed to defuse that powder keg. The Superintendent is telling the local press that there are “too many guns” out there, and he’s right. But he’s also well aware that those are rarely, if ever, the guns purchased legally by citizens complying with Chicago’s myriad gun control laws. He’s got a gang violence problem on his hands and that’s not going to go away until their control of the streets is ended.

Good luck with that, Superintendent Johnson. I don’t envy you the job you’ve taken on.

Police Line

Secret Service saves Sanders from animal rights protesters [Hot Air » Top Picks]

The Secret Services jumped on to the stage at a Bernie Sanders rally and protected the Democrat from a gaggle of animal rights protesters who jumped barricades and rushed the podium in Oakland, CA.

Agents tackled the protesters to the concrete and ushered them away in handcuffs as the throng of Bernie supporters booed and then began chanting. It was unclear whether the crowd was jeering at the protesters for disrupting the rally or at the Secret Service for tackling and arresting the protesters.

ABC News has statements from the groups representing the protesters who are angry at Sanders because the self-described socialist is, wait for it, not radically left enough:

Zach Groff of the grassroots group Direct Action Everywhere told ABC News that they have been targeting Sanders because of his message about caring for the most vulnerable.

“His campaign has promoted itself based on this idea of progressivism and rejecting discrimination and inequality,” Groff said, “but when it comes to the animals in the United States and around the world, discrimination and violence is the name of the game every single day.”

“He claims to be a progressive, but you cannot be a progressive if you oppose animal rights,” he said.

In a statement, another one of the Berkely-based group’s organizers, Aidan Cook, said that “Sanders claims to oppose ‘factory farming,’ but what he hides is that virtually all farms in the United States, including farms he supports, are essentially factory farms.”

“What we’ve learned in the case of human oppression applies to animals too: when we see someone as an object, all sorts of horrors, notably factory farming, are not just possible but inevitable,” Cook said.

Sanders returned to the podium after the kerfuffle and proclaimed, “we don’t get intimidated easily.” Yeah Bernie. You get tough with those Birkenstock wearing, granola munching animal rights hippies. Show them how tough you can be, Bernster.



sanders protest secret service

Team Hillary chair: E-mail was a mistake she’d avoid if given the chance to do it again [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Third time’s the charm? Perhaps only by proxy. After getting lambasted in a report from the State Department Inspector General over the use of her private e-mail server, Hillary Clinton and her team at first claimed that the report vindicated her, with an argument that threw Colin Powell repeatedly under the bus. After that response produced a volley of disgust over the spin, Hillary then retreated back to the position that “everyone does it” but that it might have been a poor choice in her case.

That didn’t exactly move the needle, so Team Hillary campaign chair John Podesta has attempted a clean-up on Aisle H. Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer got an e-mail sent by Podesta to donors that shows, oddly, that Podesta feels a lot more contrition over the secret e-mail server than Hillary has demonstrated over the past week:

In the days after the IG’s findings became public, Clinton made appearances on four television networks to push back on the report as nothing new. “There may be reports that come out, but nothing has changed,” she said. “It’s the same story.” …

The Podesta memo takes a more contrite posture, reminding backers three separate times that Clinton has called the email setup a mistake and continues to do so in the wake of the IG report. “The secretary has once again acknowledged this was a mistake,” Podesta writes. “If she could go back, she’d do it differently.”

Cramer also notes that Podesta seems to concede a point that Hillary refuses to acknowledge — that her use of a private, off-site, unsecured, and unauthorized e-mail server actually does differ from the practices of her predecessors:

Podesta also takes up one of the report’s key findings: that Clinton’s email practices did differ significantly from past secretaries of state, contrary to the candidate’s frequent argument that, broadly, her email use was not “unprecedented.” …

Although Clinton argued again in a Univision interview on Wednesday that her use of a personal account was “not at all unprecedented,” the memo from Podesta alludes to the distinct aspects of her arrangement. At the time, he writes, “she believed she was following the practices of other secretaries and senior officials.”

All of this, of course, is merely acknowledging as much of the obvious as the campaign can stand. Podesta claims that Hillary was unaware that her practices differed from her predecessors until informed of it by State … after the Benghazi committee discovered it. “It was not until the Department contacted her in 2014 that she learned this was not the case,” Podesta writes in his missive. Reeeeeeaaaaaalllllllly? If that’s the case, why did she spend all of 2015 and nearly half of 2016 still making that claim? Why, then, did Hillary not make the server available to the State Department immediately — and without deleting 31,000 e-mails from the system first?

Podesta urges Hillary’s supporters to put this in the context of her career. “While we understand the questions about Secretary Clinton’s email practices,” he writes, “we are confident that voters will look at the full picture of everything she has done throughout her career.” The New York Post’s Paul Sperry has a point to make about that very issue. Remember how over a million e-mails went missing in the middle of a series of White House scandals in the mid-1990s?

As first lady, Hillary was embroiled in another scheme to bury sensitive White House emails, known internally as “Project X.”

In 1999, as investigators looked into Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate and other scandals involving the then-first lady, it was discovered that more than 1 million subpoenaed emails were mysteriously “lost” due to a “glitch” in a West Wing computer server.

The massive hole in White House archives covered a critical two-year period — 1996 to 1998 — when Republicans and special prosecutor Ken Starr were subpoenaing White House emails. …

During the Project X email scandal, career White House staffers and contractors found that someone close to the first lady had basically turned off the White House’s automated email archiving system. They fingered White House “special assistant” Laura Crabtree Callahan, who was overseeing the computer contractors despite obtaining computer science degrees from diploma mills. …

A 1998 contractor audit of the White House email accounts affected by the “snafu” shows that much of the omitted email was addressed to top Clinton officials — including then-deputy counsel Cheryl Mills and other aides close to Hillary. A federal judge “excoriated Mills” for failing to get to the bottom of the missing emails, Fitton pointed out.

What a coinky-dink! Yes, tell us more about how Hillary Clinton was unaware of precedent and policy when it came to ensuring that no e-mail trail led back to her operations. This is less a step in a new direction than it is a switch from one fairy tale to another.

Philadelphia (a “sanctuary city”) now has a deportation hotline for illegal immigrants [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Philadelphia is the home of the Liberty Bell, and the symbolism of that icon now apparently includes the liberty to break the law with impunity, as well as the support of the local clergy and City Hall.

When incoming Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney took over City Hall from the more appropriately named Michael Nutter this year, he got to work quickly. One of his first actions was to firmly establish (or perhaps reestablish) the status of the City of Brotherly Love as a “sanctuary city” where city law enforcement would be forbidden from working with ICE to facilitate the deportation of illegal aliens. (Philly.com)

Kenney said Johnson will send ICE representatives to Philadelphia to brief immigration stakeholders on the new program and try to explain why it does not have the shortcomings of Secure Communities.

“But until that happens,” he said, “we are going back to our old situation,” which, between April 2014 and late last month, barred police and prison officials from telling ICE agents about an undocumented prisoner’s pending release unless the person was convicted of a violent felony and ICE’s request was supported by a warrant.

So Philadelphia has lined up shoulder to shoulder with San Francisco as a home for lawlessness. But even if the cops are barred from working with ICE to remove criminals from the community, ICE can still come in and deport people. (And they do.) So what’s an “undocumented American in waiting” to do if the feds come knocking at their door? Good news! Several members of the local clergy have established a hotline that anyone can call to alert the community support network when ICE is seen prowling the streets or simply doing their jobs. (Washington Post)

Visitation BVM, a multi-ethnic church in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, is a place where each Sunday, multiple Masses are held. There are three in Spanish, one in English and one in Vietnamese. The church is also one of 19 member congregations in the New Sanctuaries Movement. (More information below.) When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in January plans for mass immigration raids, New Sanctuary members and staff set up the emergency hotline and “Know Your Rights” training sessions for undocumented immigrants.

That’s anathema to some. But, when people living in the United States are detained and the most common result is deportation, a number of matters often require attention. A share of undocumented immigrants live in mixed-status households. So contact needs to be made with legal immigrant and U.S. citizen spouses and children; any plans to reconnect in another country organized; property or businesses sold, medications obtained and child-custody matters sorted.

On the surface, that rather benign description doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all. Legal resident families can no doubt run into problems when an illegal family member is captured and deported and could probably benefit from some help with legal questions, paying the bills and other necessities. Rather than yet another government program, getting the local faith community involved is no doubt a helpful approach. But there’s far more to this than just family support for legal residents impacted by the deportation of illegal relatives.

The “hotline” in question is being used to rush people to the scene of ongoing or imminent deportations. Aside from the fact that crowding the area when law enforcement is trying to apprehend a criminal is just a bad idea to begin with, they want to “bear witness” to the deportation. This simply serves to stir up the community against law enforcement, rather than in support of it. Further, they are encouraging calls when someone, “sees ICE on their street.” This isn’t a support activity for legal family members. It’s a tool to tip off everyone in a specific community that law enforcement officers may be on the way, allowing them time to hide or sneak away. That’s a direct effort to obstruct justice and should be punishable by law.

The fact that this “network” can openly promote such activities with the blessing of City Hall shows that Philadelphia is now right up there with San Francisco in terms of lawlessness and a disregard for the safety of the legal residents and citizens of the city. And much like their soul sisters on the west coast, Congress should move to shut down any and all federal funding to Philadelphia until they are willing to comply with the law and uphold their duty to protect the people living there. Philly has already experienced their share of violent crime courtesy of illegal immigrant felons, including the rape of one local woman by an illegal who had been twice deported. Let’s hope they don’t wind up having to bury their own version of Kate Steinle before the residents wake up to what’s going on here.


Thank God, celebrities have chimed in on the ‘Harambe the Gorilla’ story [Hot Air » Top Picks]


No major story in America is complete without checking in with “celebrities” to get their opinion. And boy are we lucky because over the past several days, multiple humans of note used their social media platform of choice to chime in on the “Harambe the Gorilla” controversy.

If you’ve been sitting at home wondering what former stand-up comedians and CNN hosts were thinking about the tragic story of the gorilla that was put down after a child climbed into his habitat in Ohio, your wait is over.

Let the mocking begin:

Thank God one of the “stars” of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has chimed in with her expertise in primate behaviors. She’s sure the “poor gorilla” did “nothing wrong.” Uh huh. Clearly Vanderpump knows much better than the Cincinnati Zoo and the experts who observed the situation and determined the “child’s life was in danger.” Clearly they should have checked with the former Dancing with the Stars contestant.

Hughley actually raises a fair point here. There needs to be some kind of investigation

John Fugelsang is a former VH1 VeeJay who is now a political commentator for cable news. The last time anyone cared about what this guy had to say, he was claiming conservatives would be nailing Jesus to the cross again:

So yeah, his lack of moral thought in calling for the death of a parent over a wild animal makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?

Piers Morgan is a former political commentator for cable news and for all we know, he’s now a VH1 VeeJay. Apparently, he thinks the solution to the Harambe story is some sort of bullet-proof Biodome. It should also be noted that a firearm ended up saving the child, something Morgan has a clear, fundamental problem with.

Joseph Kahn is a relatively unknown film director, but he has a blue check mark next to his Twitter account so attention must be paid. He is responsible for the 2011 horror/comedy (was it supposed to be a comedy?) Detention which currently has a 38% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. One could argue that Joseph Kahn getting a gig directing Death of a Salesman at a dinner theatre in Jefferson, MO would be an appropriate form of Darwinism for his career, but we certainly won’t sink to those depths.

Which brings us to Ricky Gervais:

Ah yes. Ricky Gervais. An avowed atheist whose main goal in life seems to be to insult people of faith in such a profound way that he hopes to shame them into abandoning their beliefs. In a way, he’s an atheist evangelist. It isn’t enough for him that he has no profound belief system rooted in ethical monotheism, no, he won’t rest until you follow him into the abyss of non-belief.

So, given that background, it’s no surprise he makes the morally bankrupt comparison between a gorilla as a “parent” and a human being. Gervais is not familiar with Genesis 1:26.

In fact, the idea that man, created in God’s image, shall have dominion over the other animals, appears to be the missing moral idea that links all these rants together. And what does that tell us about the ranters?


Fracking to begin in the UK for the first time since end of 2012 moratorium [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Fracking has had a long history in the UK. It has been used in offshore wells since the 1970s. However, a moratorium against onshore fracking was put in place in 2011 after small earthquakes were felt in Lancashire, England. The moratorium was lifted a year later after new regulations were put in place requiring companies to perform seismic surveys and monitor for seismic activity throughout the process.

British Members of Parliament concerned about climate change tried to ban the practice in 2015 but their proposal was rejected. That left the door open to new exploration and the approval of new onshore wells. Last week a fracking application was approved for the first time since the moratorium went into place. The BBC reports:

On Monday North Yorkshire County Council approved an application by Third Energy to frack a well near the village of Kirby Misperton in Ryedale…

“The decision in North Yorkshire was an important first step and underlined our firm belief that the process is safe and can be done environmentally sensitively,” says Ken Cronin of the industry body UKOOG.

“We expect further applications and this chimes well with the need to provide a home-grown source of gas to heat our homes.”

And firms are stepping up their exploration plans.

This week the largest independent operator of onshore oil and gas fields in Britain, Igas, said that it would drill two exploratory shale gas wells in Nottinghamshire early next year, subject to planning and permitting.

The story notes that the plan approved last week involved an existing industrial site that was already being used to produce gas. Fracking an existing well will likely continue to be an easier sell than fracking which would require new drilling.

The fracking at the site in Kirby Misperton is expected to take place within the next eight weeks.

Do witchcraft beliefs hurt economic progress? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Maybe so, here is the latest:

Where witchcraft beliefs are widespread, American University Economics Professor Boris Gershman found high levels of mistrust exist among people. Gershman also found a negative relationship between witchcraft beliefs and other metrics of relied upon for a functioning society, including religious participation and charitable giving.

It’s long been argued that witchcraft beliefs impede economic progress and disrupt social relations, and Gershman’s statistical analysis supports that theory. From a policy perspective, Gershman’s results emphasize the importance of accounting for local culture when undertaking development projects, especially those that require communal effort and cooperation. Gershman and other social scientists believe that education can help foster improved trust and decrease the prevalence of witchcraft beliefs.


Parents in witchcraft-believing societies inculcate antisocial traits in children.

Second-generation immigrants from witchcraft-believing nations are less trusting.

Here is the summary statement, here is the full article.  Here are related papers by Gershman.  For the pointer I thank the excellent Samir Varma.

The post Do witchcraft beliefs hurt economic progress? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Tuesday assorted links [Marginal REVOLUTION]

1. Xenoglossy.

2. Oxford lecture by Glenn Loury on race, his intellectual and personal background, and his intellectual migration, among other matters (pdf).

3. How to lose thirty calories a meal in Thailand just by changing your plate (speculative).

4. “Their primary difficulty is not necessarily one of healing emotional wounds; they thrived in combat. It is rather a matter of unlearning the very skills that have kept them alive: unceasing vigilance; snap decision making; intolerance for carelessness; the urge to act fast and decisively.  “I don’t even leave my house much,” said Jeff Ewert, who served with the Marines in Iraq and now lives in Utah. “I’m scared not because I’m an über-killer or anything. I just minimize my exposure because I know how easy it is to cross that line, to act without thinking.””  Story here, NYT.

5. Too much Airbnb in Iceland?

6. David Beckworth podcast with Greg Ip.

The post Tuesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Ride sharing, vehicle accidents, and crime [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is a new paper from Sean E. Mulholland and Angela K. Dills.  Here is the abstract:

The advent of smart-phone based, ride-sharing applications has revolutionized the vehicle for hire market. Advocates point to the ease of use and lower wait times compared to hailing a taxi or pre-arranging limousine service. Others argue that proper government oversight is necessary to protect ride-share passengers from driver error or vehicle part failure and violence from unlicensed strangers. Using a unique panel of over 150 cities and counties from 2010 through 2013, we investigate whether the introduction of the ride-sharing service, Uber, is associated with changes in vehicle accidents and crime. We find that Uber’s entry lowers the rate of DUIs and fatal accidents. For most specifications, we also find declines in arrests for assault and disorderly conduct. Conversely, we observe an increase in vehicle thefts.

For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

The post Ride sharing, vehicle accidents, and crime appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

How well does the post-recession world scale? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The bumps we’ve seen over the past 12-18 months stem from a reality that the post-recession world we’ve built doesn’t scale beyond its current size. Consider the following:

-Chipotle wanted to be this era’s McDonald’s. Turns out scaling organic, freshly-prepared food isn’t as cheap or easy as they thought.

-Fintech lenders promised to disrupt big banks. Turns out the lending business requires a lot of capital, and that in jittery markets that capital doesn’t like funding a growing lending business. Maybe the big bank model isn’t so bad.

-The San Francisco Bay Area is the economic center of the early 21st century. But it’s finding that scaling housing and infrastructure for workers is a lot harder than scaling servers and storage. So jobs and people have to move to cheaper metros.

-On demand startups were the solution to mass unemployment and megacity renters who demand services immediately. But they’re finding that as the labor market tightens those workers are getting harder to find, and maybe the unit economics never worked to begin with.

-Tesla wants to disrupt the auto industry. But it’s never produced more than 50,000 cars in a year, and suddenly has to meet demand for as many as 500,000 cars a year. That won’t be cheap or easy, and it’s unclear how much shareholders and lenders will be willing to finance that growth. It’s not as cheap to scale atoms as it is to scale bits.

-Uber and Facebook are the 800-pound gorillas in their respective industries. But as they grow, they’re running into problems of scale. For Uber, it’s finding drivers and fighting regulation. For Facebook, it’s eating too much of the revenue pie for content, and maybe as it grows it’s going to come under greater and greater scrutiny given its media clout. Both will argue they’re not utilities, but the vision and scale they aspire to would make them exactly that.

-Conservatism is finding that the demographic groups that believe in conservatism no longer scale to form a viable national party. Trump will soon find the same to be true for his white working class coalition. The Republican Party needs a new ideology or constituency that can scale to compete with Democrats.

It’s time to let Steve Jobs and Ronald Reagan rest in peace, and find new leaders who can build the world of the 2020′s.

That is from @conorsen, link here.

The post How well does the post-recession world scale? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Coloring book markets in everything [Marginal REVOLUTION]

There are coloring books for every imaginable interest group, including “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” ones, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump versions, and, in a new and surprisingly durable trend, “sweary” coloring books. Because how better to demonstrate that your coloring book is not for kids than by incorporating lots of four-letter words?

Here is the Alexandra Alter NYT piece, I have yet to see a good essay on the broader implications or causes of the coloring book trend.

The post Coloring book markets in everything appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 467 [Ubuntu Fridge]

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #467 for the week May 23 – 29, 2016, and the full version is available here.

In this issue we cover:

The issue of The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter is brought to you by:

  • Elizabeth K. Joseph
  • Chris Sirrs
  • Simon Quigley
  • Chris Guiver
  • Seth Johnson
  • And many others

If you have a story idea for the Weekly Newsletter, join the Ubuntu News Team mailing list and submit it. Ideas can also be added to the wiki!

Except where otherwise noted, content in this issue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License BY SA Creative Commons License

Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 465 [Ubuntu Fridge]

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #465 for the weeks of of May 2 – 15, 2016, and the full version is available here.

In this issue we cover:

The issue of The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter is brought to you by:

  • Elizabeth K. Joseph
  • Chris Guiver
  • Chris Sirrs
  • Aaron Honeycutt
  • Simon Quigley
  • And many others

If you have a story idea for the Weekly Newsletter, join the Ubuntu News Team mailing list and submit it. Ideas can also be added to the wiki!

Except where otherwise noted, content in this issue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License BY SA Creative Commons License

OEM software update tools preloaded on PCs are a security mess [PCWorld]

Serious vulnerabilities have crept into the software tools that PC manufacturers preload on Windows computers, but the full extent of the problem is much worse than previously thought.

Researchers from security firm Duo Security have tested the software updaters that come installed by default on laptops from five PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) -- Acer, ASUSTeK Computer, Lenovo, Dell and HP -- and all of them had at least one serious vulnerability. The flaws could have allowed attackers to remotely execute code with system privileges, leading to a full system compromise.

In most cases, the problems resulted from the OEM software updaters not using encrypted HTTPS connections when checking for or downloading updates. In addition, some updaters didn't verify that the downloaded files were digitally signed by the OEM before executing them.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Intel's 'Kaby Lake' chip starts strong as Intel retools its PC strategy [PCWorld]

Intel's upcoming 7th Generation Core processor family, code-named Kaby Lake, is off to a quick start.

More than 400 devices with Intel's upcoming chip design will reach the market, said Navin Shenoy, corporate vice president and general manager for Intel's Client Computing Group.

One of those devices will be Asus' Surface-like Transformer 3, which will ship in the third quarter starting at US$799. The device has a 12.6-inch screen that displays images at a resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels. It weighs 695 grams and is 6.9 millimeters thick. The device has a 13-megapixel camera, and it can be configured with a 512GB SSD and up to 8GB RAM.

Shenoy, speaking during a keynote at the Computex trade show in Taipei, also showed a 2-in-1 made by Compal during the keynote. It's not clear if the first Kaby Lake chips to reach PCs will be low-power Core M or the faster Core i chips.

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Atari's going to build IoT devices that talk over a low-power network [PCWorld]

The latest entrant in the Internet of Things is legendary gaming company Atari, which plans to make consumer devices that communicate over the SigFox low-power network.

The devices will be for homes, pets, lifestyle, and safety. Over the SigFox network, users will be able to see the location and status of their devices at all times, the companies said. They’re set to go into production this year.

The Atari brand dates back to the 1970s, when the company introduced the early video game Pong and went on to make a series of popular video games and consoles. The company in its current form hasn’t been selling any form of hardware.

SigFox is one of several startups building specialized networks for IoT devices. Its technology is designed to carry tiny amounts of data in two directions with low-power consumption so small, battery-operated devices can run for years without recharging.

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Sorry, there will never be a Bernie Sanders (or Colonel Sanders) version of Minecraft [PCWorld]

Donald Trump can buy himself many things, but he will never be able to officially build a 10,000-block-high statue of himself in Minecraft. Your dreams of exploring a mammoth Taco Bell Chalupa? Dead. And no, don’t expect to mine Moria as part of a Lord of the Rings server.

Microsoft and its Mojang subsidiary said Tuesday that they will begin blocking corporations and politicians from using Minecraft to promote their own agendas, including the sale of products, movies, or political views. 

“We want to empower our community to make money from their creativity, but we’re not happy when the selling of an unrelated product becomes the purpose of a Minecraft mod or server,” Mojang wrote in a blog post. The new additions are now part of Mojang’s Commercial Usage Guidelines.

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Polaris confirmed: AMD's $200 Radeon card will bring high-end graphics to the masses [PCWorld]

Mere hours ahead of AMD’s big Computex livestream promising “Polaris GPU updates,” at least some of the company's big news has trickled out prematurely.

While Nvidia kicked off the new graphics card generation with the overwhelming firepower of the enthusiast-only $600 GeForce GTX 1080 and $380 GTX 1070, AMD’s attacking the mainstream instead. The first Radeon graphics cards based on its forthcoming Polaris graphics processors will start at just $200, the company told the Wall Street Journal, and be available by the end of June—potentially June 29, a non-disclosure date leaked by attendees of AMD’s recent Polaris Tech Day in Macau.

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Instagram will let you run a business profile if you have a Facebook Page [PCWorld]

Soon, business owners will be able to tap into new tools on Instagram, as long as their business has a Facebook Page.

On Tuesday, Instagram introduced a set of new features to allow business owners to better engage with customers using Instagram. These new business tools include official business profiles, analytics, and the ability for business owners to create sponsored posts directly in the Instagram app.

“With so many companies using Instagram, and many people on the platform interacting with them, there was a desire from our business community to do more. So we listened. And, after hundreds of interviews with businesses, three key needs became clear—stand out, get insights and find new customers,” reads the Instagram for Business blog post announcing the new features.

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Microsoft updates HoloLens and Windows Holographic to work better with 'flat' apps [PCWorld]

When you think “Microsoft HoloLens,” you probably think of CGI robots bursting through walls and animated squirrels running around. But Microsoft’s latest update to Windows Holographic reminds you that so-called 'flat' or '2D' apps—in other words, the traditional apps we already use—will be a critical part of the platform, too.

Microsoft’s Windows Holographic May 2016 Update includes support for three flat apps that can be pinned next to each other, much like you can place three apps across multiple monitors in the real world. The release notes also detail improvements to the voice controls and the Cortana interface.

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29% off FlashForge Finder 3D Home Printer - Deal Alert [PCWorld]

The Finder from FlashForge is a 3D printer designed for the beginner. It averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon (read reviews) and it's $699 list price has been reduced by 29% to just $499. Perfect for home or a school, being both wallet friendly as well as user friendly makes this a good model for anyone who has ever wanted to get hand-on with this cutting edge technology. The unit features a slide-in build plate, assisted bed-leveling, and an intuitive color touchscreen. All heated components are encased, and the PLA is non-toxic, making it safe to use as well. Learn more about the FlashForge 3D printer and take advantage of this 29% discount now on Amazon.

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Marketo gets scooped up into the private world for $1.79 billion [PCWorld]

Marketing-software maker Marketo has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for $1.79 billion, the company announced Tuesday.

Marketo shareholders will receive $35.25 in cash per share -- a sum the company says represents a 64 percent premium over its closing price earlier this month, before reports emerged that it was exploring strategic alternatives.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016. Marketo's headquarters will remain in San Mateo, California, the company said.

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Privacy Shield needs improvement, says EU privacy watchdog [PCWorld]

Privacy Shield has a new detractor, and that spells bad news for businesses built on the transatlantic transfer of personal data.

The Privacy Shield agreement is intended to protect the privacy of European Union citizens when their personal information is processed in the U.S., but it has found few supporters since the European Commission unveiled an unfinished draft of the agreement in January.

Even after the Commission published further details, in April, the critics continued to pile on. Last month, national data protection authorities from across the EU said it still needed significant work, and last week the European Parliament said it too is unsatisfied.

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Sony's Xperia X series is coming to the U.S. this summer [PCWorld]

Sony is bringing another batch of phones here that range from pricey to easy on the wallet. The X Performance, X, XA Ultra, and XA are slated for release this summer.

The X Performance is the flagship of the batch, with a Snapdragon 820, 3GB of RAM, 23MP camera, 2,700 mAh battery, 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot, and a water-resistant metal frame. However, it’s only got a 5-inch, 1080p LCD screen. An odd choice for a phone that will cost $700, available on July 17. Sony is also throwing in a free 128GB microSD card.

Sony offered a video with the obligatory, dramatic music as part of the debut.

Next is the X, which offers a Snapdragon 650, 3GB of RAM, 23MP camera, 2,620 mAh battery, 32GB of storage with microSD expandability, and a glass/metal case without water resistance. This also has a 5-inch, 1080p LCD screen and is available for pre-order now at $550 (you also get the 128GB microSD card).

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How Russia's oldest bank found itself on the leading edge of in-memory computing [PCWorld]

It's not your average company that can trace its origins back to a nineteenth-century Russian tsar, but then, Sberbank is no average financial institution.

Established through a decree by Emperor Nikolai I in 1841, Sberbank is Russia's oldest bank and has played a long and storied role in the nation's history. Today, with more than 16,000 branches in all 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation -- traversing 11 time zones -- it serves roughly 70 percent of the Russian population.

Therein lie the roots of the bank's very modern challenge.

Whereas once virtually all transactions were conducted in person during office hours and on bank premises, the arrival of the Internet turned that pattern on its head. No longer constrained by branch operating schedules or the on-site availability of bank officers, customer-service demands skyrocketed as consumer expectations extended 24/7.

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44% off LOOP International Travel Plug with USB Charging and Power Bank - Deal Alert [PCWorld]

If you travel internationally, or know someone who does, this may be one to consider. LOOP Electronics travel adapter is an all-in-one travel plug that not only keeps you powered in over 150 countries, but also includes dual USB charging ports and a battery backup (power bank) for when you need power or charging but can't locate a plug. The adapter has a built-in fuse, is made of fire-resistant materials, and comes with an 18-month warranty. It currently averages 4 out of 5 stars from 99 customers (read reviews). With a regular list price of $40, it's currently discounted to just $22.45. See this discounted travel plug now on Amazon to learn more and explore buying options.

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The Backpack PC is a portable VR rig that leads MSI’s VR and gaming lineup at Computex [PCWorld]

MSI’s Backpack PC, which debuted at Computex in Taiwan this week, aims to do away with one of the banes of virtual reality: being tethered to your PC by a display cable. This portable rig highlights a slew of gaming hardware the company plans to show, including what appears to be an MSI-branded Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card, and the MSI GS63 Stealth Pro, which MSI claims is the world’s lightest gaming laptop.

MSI’s Computex lineup

Probably the most innovative product MSI plans to launch is its Backpack PC, which sounds like, obviously, a portable desktop PC in a backpack case. Inside MSI will pack a Core i7 as well as what MSI calls a GTX980 graphics card. Unless MSI erred in its press release, that means that the GTX980 is the two-year-old desktop part, not the GTX980M mobile GPU.

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Microsoft's investing arm is back on the market, but will entrepreneurs bite? [PCWorld]

After laying dormant for quite some time, Microsoft has announced that it is getting back into directly investing in startups. Microsoft Ventures has been overhauled, though it’s not clear why Microsoft has decided to get back into investing — or if the company is in it for the long haul.

Nagraj Kashyap, the corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures, laid out his vision for the investing arm in a blog post Monday, saying that the fund will be used to support early-stage companies and help Microsoft be more involved in new technology developments.

Microsoft’s existing series of startup accelerators, and its BizSpark program to offer discounts on software, will be rolled into a new Microsoft Accelerator organization. For larger business partnerships and acquisitions, Microsoft will rely on a different team. This version of Ventures is supposed to fill in a gap Microsoft left open when it stopped directly investing in companies.

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Intel beefs up integrated graphics in Skylake server chips [PCWorld]

If you are not happy with the quality of streaming video, it's perhaps because your providers server doesn't have a good graphics processor.

To address that, Intel is improving the integrated graphics processor in its new Xeon E3-1500 v5 family of server chips. Servers with the chips will be able to deliver multiple 4K video streams over the Internet to PCs and mobile devices.

The chips are based on the Skylake design and have the Iris Pro Graphics P580, which Intel claims is its best integrated GPU.

Intel says that about 80 percent of the Internet traffic is video, and better GPUs are needed to improve the quality of streams.

Many servers use discrete GPUs like AMD's FirePro and Nvidia's Quadro to process streaming video. Intel's Iris Pro isn't as powerful, but is a power-efficient alternative that won't use up a PCI-Express slot in a server.

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Google Maps gains better discovery features in Android app update [PCWorld]

Google packed a lot of little things into the latest Maps update that may make your next trip a little more pleasant.

First off, Maps will now ping you with “new and popular places” when you’re away from home. To Google’s credit, this is turned off by default (way too many apps are opt-out with features that ping you with notifications). You can find it under the Notifications tab.

new and popular places

Flip on the “new and popular places” notification to find out what’s worth checking out.

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HPE wants Oracle to pay $3 billion for breach of Itanium contract [PCWorld]

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is asking a jury to award the company $3billion from Oracle after the database giant stopped supporting HPE's Itanium-based hardware, even though it allegedly signed a contract to do so.

A jury trial in the 5-year-old legal dispute between the tech giants is scheduled to begin Tuesday, nearly four years after a California judge first ruled that Oracle must continue porting its software to HPE's Itanium platform. The new trial is scheduled in Santa Clara Superior Court in California.

HP, which has since split into two companies, sued Oracle in 2011, saying the database company's decision to stop offering future versions of its popular database software for Itanium violated a deal the partners signed in 2010. Oracle argued parts of the deal were "a corporate handshake" and didn't impose long-term support obligations. 

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Makani's energy kite is a smarter wind turbine [PCWorld]

Kites aren’t just for kids anymore. Just ask Makani Power, which is developing a smart energy kite that can generate up to 50 percent more electricity than a conventional wind turbine.

The company has been part of Google X since 2013, working to come up with a new, more efficient way to transform wind into energy.

To do that, Makani has built a craft that actually looks more like a drone but is tethered to the ground like a kite. It has four main components: the kite, the tether, a ground station, and a computer.

Eight rotors on the kite function much like the blades on a wind turbine. As the craft flies in a circular path, air moving across the rotors drives a generator which produces electricity. The electricity travels down the wire tether and is transferred to the ground station.

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Riotoro emerges with PC power supplies, liquid cooling gear, and gaming keyboards [PCWorld]

Earlier in 2016, a new PC component company called Riotoro—made up of former Corsair and Nvidia employees—launched its first major product, the Prism CR1280 PC case. Now, Riotoro is using Computex to emerge more fully from the shadows, filling out its component lineup with gaming keyboards, PC power supplies, a liquid CPU cooler, and a new version of its Uruz optical gaming mouse.

Ghostwriter keyboards

riotoro ghostwriter front

Riotoro introduced two new gaming keyboards at Computex under the Ghostwriter line. The first is its flagship mechanical keyboard, the Ghostwriter RGB Mechanical Keyboard. This peripheral features programmable animated per-key backlighting, Kailh switches, and a detachable magnetic wrist wrest.

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Mophie launches wireless chargers to keep your phone powered up wherever you go [PCWorld]

Wireless charging is slowly becoming more mainstream, but one company is going all-in to try to boost its adoption.

On Tuesday, Mophie released three wireless chargers that can charge your Mophie-encased phone on contact. This “Charge Force” product line includes a charging pad for your nightstand, a vent clip for your car, and a desk mount for the office – all with built-in magnets to help stabilize your phone and keep it in place.

These wireless chargers require a compatible Mophie case. The company tells us that all Mophie cases moving forward will be equipped with this technology. In fact, Mophie’s Juice Packs for the Samsung Galaxy S7 that went on sale earlier this year are already Charge Force-compatible.

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Corsair reveals a liquid-cooled GTX 1080, DDR4 RAM with staggering clock speeds, and mag-lev PC fans [PCWorld]

Corsair blasted into Computex with a proverbial barrel full of fresh high-performance gaming gear ready to release this summer. The component maker showed off super-fast desktop RAM complete with LED lighting, magnetic levitation (mag lev) case fans, and even a liquid-cooled Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

All three new products are set to roll out sometime between July and September, though pricing wasn't announced for any of the hardware. Let's dig in!

LED with a Vengeance


First up are two new ranges of DDR4 RAM: Vengeance LED and Dominator Platinum Special Edition.

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How to print from Android with an app or Google Cloud Print, and a compatible printer [PCWorld]

Patricia Dougherty asked “How can I print from my RCA Android tablet?”

There’s no perfect way to print from an Android phone or tablet. Every method available has limitations. You’ll need the right printer. Or a PC. Or one specific app that must be able to work with another specific app.

But it can be done. Here are two approaches.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Printing directly

If your printer supports Wi-Fi, and is set up to use your home Wi-Fi network, there’s a very good chance you can print to it directly (assuming you’re at home). It all depends on whether there’s an app for your particular printer.

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Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter crack down on online hate speech in EU [PCWorld]

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have agreed to hide illegal online hate speech from European Union users of their platforms within 24 hours of receiving official notification of it.

It's a response to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally, according to the European Commission, which pushed for the agreement.

The companies have agreed to create a clear process for receiving and reviewing notifications about illegal hate speech on their platforms, and to review "the majority of valid notifications" in under 24 hours, removing or disabling access to the content if necessary.

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Samsung's spacious new 512GB SSD is smaller than a stamp [PCWorld]

Blazing-fast storage just got a whole lot smaller. Samsung said Monday night that it has begun mass producing a new SSD tinier than a postage stamp.

The PM971-NVMe fits up to 512GB of NAND flash, a controller, and RAM into a single BGA chip measuring 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm and weighing just one gram, the company said.

The chip's small size doesn’t mean it’ll be slow, either. Samsungs says the PM971-NVMe will hit 1.5GBps read speeds and 800MBps write speeds.

The PM971-NVMe is built using 20nm NAND chips and includes 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM as a cache. The NAND is triple-level cell but uses a portion as a write buffer. The drive will come in 512GB, 256GB and 128GB capacities. Samsung didn’t say what interface it’ll connect to the PC with, but its size means it can be mounted to the standard M.2 card and possibly directly integrated into tablet and laptop motherboards.

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80% off XML & Ajax Programming Bootcamp - Deal Alert [PCWorld]

This digital bootcamp includes 2 courses (Ajax and XML) and is currently discounted a whopping 80%, so you can sign up now for just $39. With over 34 hours of training, you'll add critical skills to your resume. 

In the Ajax training class, you'll learn to make calls to the server with JavaScript, and manipulate JSON and XML content returned from the server. Ajax opens the door to creating sophisticated web-based applications with much more of the logic (and therefore code) handled on the client. While Ajax allows for more dynamic and responsive applications, it changes the traditional role of JavaScript dramatically and forces developers to rethink how they write and manage JavaScript code.

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Microsoft's Xbox One may be replaced with a trio of slimmer, faster devices [PCWorld]

Is the current Xbox One on its last legs? If recent rumors are to be believed, Microsoft’s console is set to be replaced by as many as three devices, including a whopping “Project Scorpio” due in 2017.

Last week, both Kotaku and Polygon suggested that Microsoft may be working on a far more powerful successor to the Xbox One, due in 2017. Known as “Project Scorpio,” the next Xbox (the Xbox Two?) will be roughly four times as powerful as the current console, with about six megaflops of performance, according to Polygon.

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Chinese users blast Microsoft's draconian Windows 10 upgrade [PCWorld]

Chinese users have complained about Microsoft's latest aggressive move to get them to adopt Windows 10, according to the news service backed by the country's Communist government.

"IT giant Microsoft is under fire in China as the company pushes users to upgrade their operating systems to Windows 10," said China Daily, an English-language newspaper in the People's Republic of China (PRC), in a story reprinted from Xinhua, the government's official news agency.

Xinhua's account resembled those in Western media, describing users whose PCs were upgraded to Windows 10 without their approval or because they overlooked an on-screen notification.

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65 million Tumblr account records are up for sale on the underground market [PCWorld]

A few weeks ago, Tumblr notified users of a data breach that resulted in the theft of user email addresses and hashed passwords. The company did not say how many accounts were affected, but recently someone put the data up for sale and the number is: 65 million records.

The data is being sold on a Tor dark market website called TheRealDeal by a user named peace_of_mind who also sold 167 million user records stolen from LinkedIn. Recently he also posted offers for 360 million accounts allegedly stolen from MySpace and 40 million from adult dating website Fling.com.

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Watch overclockers push Intel's crazy 10-core Broadwell-E chip to 5.7GHz [PCWorld]

Intel’s new 10-core Broadwell-E gaming chip is only a few hours old, but already overclockers have pushed a 3GHz version of the chip to 5.7GHz and they say they’re only just getting started.

Overclocking is the process by which software commands and extreme cooling are used to push processors to run faster than they are typically designed to run—the chip equivalent of putting your foot on the gas and flooring it while keeping your car under control.

At an overclocking event at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Tuesday, large tanks of liquid nitrogen stood on the ready to help overclockers keep the processors cool.

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Donald Trump Intends to Run as Donald Trump [Power LinePower Line]

(Steven Hayward)

There’s a famous anecdote that appears I think in Teddy White’s Making of the President, 1964 about a reporter who, upon hearing Barry Goldwater’s line “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” said: “My God—he’s going to run as Barry Goldwater!”

That sentiment is enjoying a sequel today with Donald Trump’s press conference about his charity to veterans’ groups, but whose dominant news was not his donations but his direct attack on the media, including calling out individual network correspondents for “sleaze.”

“I think the political press is among the most dishonest people I ever met,” he said. Later, he repeated this criticism: “I find the press to be extremely dishonest. And I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest.”

“I’m not looking for credit, but when I raise millions of dollars, have people say like this – like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC. He’s a sleaze in my book.”

“Why am I a sleaze?”

“You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.”

The best part was his response to the question, “Is this the way it’s going to be if you’re elected president?” To which Trump responded with no equivocation, “Yes, it is. . . You think I’m going to change? I’m not changing.”

Somewhere, Spiro Agnew is saying, “I told you so.” If you know the media is going to be hostile to you, why not declare open war on them? It’s not like the media has high public approval ratings.

Here’s the whole thing on YouTube if you have the time to watch it.

Dartmouth undone, Part Two [Power LinePower Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

As Scott discusses below, Dartmouth has declared that it will not punish the BlackLivesMatter-supporting students who rampaged through Dartmouth’s Baker Library, cursing at and intimidating students as they tried to study for exams. Dartmouth’s decision is disgraceful.

If the concept of a “safe space” has any meaning, it applies to Baker Library. But if you’re angry and Black, you can disrupt that space by insulting students as they go about the business of learning.

Why did Dartmouth take no disciplinary action against the rampaging, threatening students? Meg Ramsden, Assistant Director, Alumni Leadership wrote:

After concluding its investigation with respect to the complaints and studying what was seen in the video in Baker-Berry Library, it was determined that there were no specific violations of the Standards of Conduct. In essence, no rules for which there are recorded and communicated sanctions were broken.

But Standard II of the Dartmouth Community Standards of Conduct prohibits Disorderly Conduct, defined as “any disruption of the orderly processes of the College.” Standard II also states:

The College requires orderly conduct of all students while in Hanover and its environs, as well as at any College-related function or activity, whether in Hanover or elsewhere. . . .

Studying in a college library is obviously an “orderly process of the College.” The BlackLivesMatter protesters disrupted it through disorderly behavior.

Thus, Rumsden’s claim that no specific violation occurred fails. It cannot be the real reason why Dartmouth let off every student who participated in the Baker Library rampage, even those who threatened students and screamed racist abuse (e.g., “Stand the f*** up!” “You filthy racist white piece of s***!”) at them.

What is the real reason? Either president Phil Hanlon is afraid to stand up to Dartmouth’s radical black students or he believes that their conduct is excusable. Either way, it’s clear that Hanlon is not competent to lead Dartmouth.

In her letter to alums, Ramsden states:

Students were counseled in serious conversations about judgment, the pledge of citizenship and behavior appropriate within a civil community.

But the students didn’t take the “serious conversations” seriously. Recently, Dartmouth’s BlackLivesMatter movement tore down a pro-police display that College Republicans erected to commemorate National Police Week. The College Republicans had received approval from Dartmouth to erect the display.

Why wouldn’t the BlackLivesMatter folks tear down the display? They know the administration won’t take action against them.

In her letter explaining why Dartmouth didn’t punish the Baker Library protesters, Rumsden invoked the First Amendment. She said that in an academic setting, “freedom of speech is mission crucial.” She concluded, inelegantly, that “the standards of the First Amendment are what are used to guide this process.”

But the destruction of the pro-police display makes a mockery of this claim. Freedom of speech includes the right to display pro-police material. Yet black students were able to deprive other students of this right, apparently with impunity.

At Dartmouth, free speech is a one way street. It protects the right of left-wing Black students to racially insult and threaten white students, but does not protect the right of conservative students to articulate their ideas. How warped!

Is such a College still worthy of alumni support?

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things [Power LinePower Line]

(Steven Hayward)

I’ve been meaning for a while to knock out an article on the theme, “there’s nothing wrong with America that 4 percent growth won’t solve.” That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not much of one. Faster economic growth will alleviate a number of our leading problems, especially stagnant wages, a sinking labor force participation rate, badly unbalanced budgets, adult children living in basements, ESPN’s sinking ratings, etc.

One difficulty is that one of our major parties is completely uninterested in revving up economic growth. Unlike the Democratic party of John F. Kennedy, which held an explicit doctrine called “growth liberalism,” embraced the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and campaigned on the theme of “let’s get the country moving again” (sounds a little but like someone’s current campaign slogan, no?), today’s liberals care not for growth, but are obsessed with redistribution and what James Piereson rightly labeled “punitive liberalism.” (Another historical irony is that the liberals of the Kennedy era were scornful of Eisenhower because they thought economic growth in the 1950s was too slow; now liberals like Paul Krugman look back at the 1950s as a golden era for the middle class, and especially for union power.) An administration that was serious about economic growth would at the very least approve the Keystone pipeline, and fast-track every possible construction project in the country, instead of embracing policies that make energy more expensive and clog up labor markets (just for starters).

I’m agnostic about whether income tax cuts will juice economic growth in the same fashion as the 1980s, though our corporate tax system badly needs to be reformed and would likely have some measurable positive benefit. I’ve received a thorough briefing of the Tax Foundation’s economic model—the one they’ve used to score each of the candidates’ economic plans and which the media have referenced in questions in the debates—and its essentially a cost-of-capital model whose largest growth and income effects come not from tax rate changes but the tax treatment of business investment, which has been flagging badly of late.

A much bigger factor is likely the huge revival of heavy government regulation, like Dodd-Frank, the new overtimes rules, and the pending “Clean Power Plan” that essentially nationalizes the nation’s electric utility industry. There’s been a lot of talk about “regulatory uncertainty” in the Obama era, as we wait to see the full effects of the burdens of Obamacare and other mandates. Today the Wall Street Journal has a major article on Dodd-Frank that makes for sober reading. It provides an extraordinary look at just how out of control Obama-era regulation has become:

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law, passed in the wake of the financial crisis and designed to prevent another, is one of the most complex pieces of legislation ever. At more than 22,200 pages of rules, it is equivalent to roughly 15 copies of “War and Peace” and covers matters from how much capital banks must set aside to how they can advertise.

Those rules and others have spawned a regulatory apparatus that is the fastest-growing component of the financial sector, with banks hiring tens of thousands of new staff whose job is to keep their employers right with the new regime. Federal agencies have dispatched thousands of their own minders to set watch at banks.

Bank Rules copyOne of the more striking aspects of this story is displayed in the nearby chart, which shows that final rules issued by the regulators ended up being twice as long as proposed rules. Among these are lots of regulations that have nothing whatever to do with any of the causes of the financial crisis of 2008, such as new regulations of ATM fees and checking overdraft fees—regulations which very few members of Congress thought they were voting for when they passed Dodd-Frank. Clearly a lot of the regulations are from the wish lists of consumer groups and other leftist activists.

Does anyone think all of these compliance employees are adding to economic growth? The WSJ reports:

Banks pulled back from financing areas ranging from student lending to certain types of mortgages. They no longer make bets with their own money, known as proprietary trading, and have collectively ceased working with hundreds of thousands of individual or company accounts.

The heightened regulatory environment led 46% of banks to pare back their offerings for loan accounts, deposit accounts or other services, according to an American Bankers Association survey of compliance officers last year.

What is all this costing?

The six largest U.S. banks by assets in 2013 together spent at least $70.2 billion that year on regulatory compliance, up from $34.7 billion in 2007, according to the most recent study by policy-analysis firm Federal Financial Analytics Inc., which said costs have continued to mount since then.

Does anyone think a $70 billion price tag passes any sensible cost-benefit test? What effect is that having on the formation of new banks or bank mergers that might be beneficial? You could simply pass a tax on the large banks asking for half of this amount to be put in a special reserve fund to bail out banks (which we’ll do anyway when Dodd-Frank inevitably fails to prevent another financial meltdown) and free up capital for more productive use. Alternately, you could dispense will all of this detailed micromanagement of the banks with one very simple regulation: require much higher reserve capital—maybe as high as 25 or 30 percent—and then simply sit back and watch banks watch their own risks more prudently, or get taken over when in distress by other banks. (Big banks simply hate this idea, which is what makes me think it might be good.)

This is just the finance sector. I’ll be back later with further thoughts on new labor regulations that are surely depressing job growth.

Dartmouth undone [Power LinePower Line]

(Scott Johnson)

It turns out that rendering “they” a singular pronoun is not Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon’s greatest outrage against common sense in favor of the contortions of political correctness. It’s not even his greatest recent outrage.

That distinction must go to Hanlon’s toleration of the rampage by BlackLivesMatter thugs through Dartmouth’s Baker Library as students studied for exams. At Dartblog Joe Asch reports: “No charges for BLM confirmed (again).”

It is a small college. And yet, to adapt Daniel Webster’s words, there are those who are embarrassed by it.

In his famous peroration in the Dartmouth College case, Webster observed: “This, Sir, is my case! It is the case not merely of that humble institution, it is the case of every college in our Land!” We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting closer every day, unfortunately.

Kristol the Anti-Republican Republican [Wizbang]

The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol has been making a name for himself lately, but not for a good reason. Kristol, it appears, is an anti-Republican Republican. Instead of acknowledging what rank-and-file Republicans want in a GOP presidential candidate, Kristol is, in the words of PJMedia columnist David P. Goldman, throwing a tantrum. Goldman writes, “Kristol makes the mistake of thinking that he still matters. The neo-conservatives enforced party discipline in the media and foundations they control with the same inquisitorial zeal that the Left applies to the persecution of conservatives at American universities. They crushed dissent ruthlessly, and declared

6 Times McDonnell Shared Platforms With Tories [Guido Fawkes]


John McDonnell has blasted Sadiq Khan for appearing with David Cameron to campaign for Remain. PoliticsHome quotes him saying: “Sharing a platform with them discredits us. It demotivates the very people we are trying to mobilise.” Above are six times McDonnell has shared a platform with Tory MPs during campaigns on Heathrow and Guantanamo. “Sharing a platform with them discredits us…”

Tagged: Labour Party

Campaign Report: 22 Days to Go [Guido Fawkes]

oil rig

Leave message: Government would axe fuel VAT post-Brexit.

Remain message: Lord Sugar says Remain’s better for business.

Cut through: Fuel VAT cut post-Brexit.

Leave social media count: 434,209 likes, 48,062 followers.

Remain social media count: 440,282 likes, 31,838 followers.

Odds: Remain 1/3, Leave 3/1

Latest poll: Remain 44%, Leave 47% (ICM, phone). Poll of Polls is now Remain 52%, Leave 49%.

Tagged: Campaign Report, Energy, EU, Referendum, Tax

Lord Sugar on the EU Just 6 Months Ago [Guido Fawkes]

Lord Sugar is only a recent convert to Remain. Turns out it’s very recent, this is what he said just six months ago:

“I don’t want to have Brussels telling me about, you know, some more stupid rules and regulations that I have got to adhere to. We should make our own rules up as far as that’s concerned.”

Sure that cushy government job couldn’t have anything to do withhis EU-turn…

Tagged: EU, In Campaign, Referendum

Elliott Johnson: No Link Between Redundancy and Bullying [Guido Fawkes]


The coroner has ruled that that there was no link between Elliott Johnson being made redundant from Conservative Way Forward and alleged bulling by ‘Tatler Tory’ Mark Clarke. The inquest heard from CWF’s Paul Abbott about a bitter feud between him and Clarke, however the coroner warned the Johnson family QC that linking the redundancy and Clarke was “irrelevant… I will not allow this to degenerate into a trial of Mark Clarke”. Clarke was accused of saying that he “squashes” young activists “like ants when they are small and young”. There wasn’t much said today that we didn’t know already – the coroner was never going to lay the blame with any individual or group. The coroner ruled that Elliott Johnson took his own life…

H/T @jamiegrierson, @tombarton, @benando

Tagged: Tories

Patrick Rock Trial: ‘It Was Just Like Watching Britney’ [Guido Fawkes]


Former Cameron aide Patrick Rock’s trial has begun – he stands accused of downloading indecent images of children. Rock admits downloading 19 images of girls aged 10-14 dressed in bikinis and ballet tutus. The prosecution allege the children were wearing “sexualised or erotic clothing… in a pose that is deliberately sexual in tone”. Defending, Rock’s QC argued the images were not indecent – “Think swimwear models in catalogues” – and said the poses were similar to the Britney Spears music video for Hit Me Baby One More Time, filmed when she was 17. Rock did not pay for the images. The jury is considering its verdict…


Tagged: Tories

+ + + ICM SHOWS LEAVE AHEAD PHONE & ONLINE + + + [Guido Fawkes]


ICM has Leave on 45% versus 42% for Remain, with 13% saying don’t know. Excluding “don’t knows” that’s 52% for Brexit, against 48% for Remain.

Online ICM has 47% for Leave, and 44% Remain, with 9% saying they don’t know. Again that is  52% to 48% in favour of Leaving excluding don’t knows.

ORB for The Telegraph this morning had it:


Squeaky bum time in Downing Street…

Tagged: Polls, Referendum

EU Citizens Sent Referendum Polling Cards [Guido Fawkes]


Multiple reports are emerging that EU citizens have been sent polling cards despite not having a vote in the referendum. Jakub Pawlowski, a Polish citizen living in Kingston, Surrey, tells Guido:

“I have been living in UK since 2006 but never applied for British citizenship. I recently bought a house and in December 2015, right after completion, filled the form to get registered on electoral roll. I have selected there that I’m a Polish citizen. I could therefore vote in London mayoral elections this month, however recently I got a polling card for the upcoming referendum on EU membership.”

Non-British EU citizens do not have a vote in the referendum…

Kingston council told Jakub that he was erroneously in their database as a British citizen. But this appears to be a widespread problem:

Another stunning success for the Electoral Commission…

UPDATE: Kingston council say:

“When applying to be included on the Register of Electors the elector in question indicated his nationality as British and, thus, was issued with a polling card for the Referendum. Instances such as this are taken extremely seriously and we are working closely with, and under the guidance of, the Electoral Commission.”

There are reports of similar stories elsewhere…

Tagged: EU

Labour Activist Outs Cat Smith’s Campaign Manager [Guido Fawkes]


If Labour MP Cat Smith had declared her campaign organiser’s full salary in her election expenses, she would have bust her limit and broken electoral law. Instead, she declared just 12.5% of Ben Singleton’s wage because she claims he spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign. Yet the above tweet from a fellow Labour activist outs Singleton as the man “who managed her campaign”. Added to the vast social media evidence here, there can be no doubt now that Singleton was in charge. It is simply not believable that he spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign. Falsely declaring it as such would be against the law…

Guido has tried to ask Singleton for an explanation, but his phone is off and his email bounced back. He has also hidden his tweets from public view. This is now the key part of a live police investigation, so perhaps that’s why he doesn’t want to talk. Remember, Smith would have been over the spending limit if Singleton’s full salary had been declared. Cat got your tongue?

Tagged: Cash, Labour Party, Sleaze

Khan’s £105,000-a-Year Aide Never Worked Outside Politics [Guido Fawkes]

jack stenner

Jack Stenner is Sadiq Khan’s new Mayoral Director for Political and Public Affairs, paid £105,893-a-year by the taxpayer. Young Jack is just 28 years old, so he has done remarkably well to land a six figure publicly-funded salary. Especially since he’s never worked outside of politics…

Stenner’s CV would make Andy Burnham blush:

2006-2009: Queen Mary University of London, Politics

2009-2010: Communications manager, Barry Gardiner MP

2010: Field team, Ed Miliband for Leader campaign

2010: Campaign manager, Yes to AV campaign

2011-2012: Director, Labour Friends of India

2012-2013: Head of Leader’s Office, Brent Council

2013-2015: Political adviser, Sadiq Khan

2015-2016: Political director, Sadiq for London campaign

2016: Mayoral Director for Political and Public Affairs

Every single job he’s had out of uni has been in politics. He now has one of the four most powerful jobs in City Hall. What’s the betting he’s parachuted into a safe seat in 2020…

Tagged: Cash, Mayor of London, PAds

Lord Sugar’s EU Journey [Guido Fawkes]


5 May 2013: Lord Sugar attacks the EU, says Brussels is an obstacle to his companies’ success:

“When I started my business years ago, to take on the first person, the second, the third, was bad enough – but now we have a further obstacle to worry about: the political correctness of things, the claims culture, and the health and safety. It’s no wonder some small businesses say it is too onerous and they won’t hire anyone. I blame the fact that we are part of Europe. I blame the fact that the Government doesn’t have the guts to say to Brussels: I don’t like it, we should start taking control of our own safety and health regulations and our own claims culture. I’ve been told we can’t because we are in Europe. I say, enough is enough! We are Britain; we were once a great industrial nation and now you’ve turned us into a nation of ambulance chasers and moaners and wastrels.”

25 May 2016: Lord Sugar appointed government’s new business tsar.

31 May 2016: Lord Sugar lovebombs the EU, says Brussels is responsible for his companies’ success:

“I’ve been in business for 50 years. I’ve seen some pretty daft ideas in my time. And I’ll tell you one of them: Britain leaving the EU… When we entered the EU, it was a breath of fresh air for me. It opened up a massive market. I was free to sell to and buy from who I wanted and where I wanted. Honestly, that’s how my companies prospered… So, for the sake of Britain, I hope you trust me and my instincts, and, on June 23rd, vote to remain.”

What changed his mind?

Piers Corbyn Forecast “Tremendous Dry, Sunny June” [Guido Fawkes]


Jeremy Corbyn’s big brother Piers is wrong about many things, but how good is he at his real job – forecasting the weather? A few days ago Piers predicted a “tremendous dry, warm and sunny flaming June”:

“We are forecasting a tremendous dry warm sunny ‘Flaming June’ for most of the month. The start will be dry, warm or hot, with sunny, blue skies. It will be more variable near the south and east coasts of England while Scotland will be very sunny. Some great weather is on the way.”

Tell that to commuters battling biblical weather on their way to work this week:


When Guido bumped into Piers at the Brexit: The Movie party he warned us of storms coming mid-August. Time to get the sun cream out then…

H/T @tompeck

Tagged: climate change

Ubuntu Touch’s Web Browser to Improve the Google Hangouts Experience in OTA-11 [Full Circle Magazine]

The long-anticipated OTA-11 update for Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu Tablet devices is just around the corner, and today we’ll have a quick look at what’s coming in the Web Browser app.
Canonical’s technical lead in the product strategy division, apps team, Mr. Olivier Tilloy, has published details about some of the features included in the Web Browser app of the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, which will be added as part of the soon-to-be-released OTA-11 update.
Therefore, the updated Web Browser app has promised to improve the Google Hangouts experience for all form factors, including Canonical’s new Ubuntu Tablet, the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition, and it looks like the media permission request dialog has been redesigned to be more user-friendly.
Continuing, the Web Browser app will now visually identify the list of items that are being used for opening new pages in the Ubuntu Settings app with a progression symbol, it will also properly handle window-level keyboard shortcuts, and further polish the memory-pressure handler used for unloading tabs running in the background.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/ubuntu-touch-s-web-browser-to-improve-the-google-hangouts-experience-in-ota-11-504658.shtml
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

Parrot Security OS 3.0 “Lithium” Is a Linux Distro for Cryptography & Anonymity [Full Circle Magazine]

Based on the latest Debian GNU/Linux technologies and borrowing many of the packages from the Debian 8 “Jessie” stable repositories, Parrot Security OS 3.0 has just received new Release Candidate (RC) ISO builds. Thus, users can now download and install them on their personal computer if they want to get an early taste of what’s coming.
Parrot Security OS is a cloud-friendly computer operating system, a penetration testing GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian Linux and designed to be used in various computer forensic, cryptography, anonymity, reverse engineering, cloud pentesting, privacy, and hacking operations.

The distro also includes some of the best tools for Wireless testing, sniffing and spoofing, digital forensics, reverse engineering, mobile hacking, and reporting, all on top of the MATE 1.12.1 desktop environment.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/parrot-security-os-3-0-lithium-is-linux-distro-for-cryptography-and-anonymity-504630.shtml
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

Join the Linuxing in London Event to Celebrate Linux, Here Are All the Details [Full Circle Magazine]

The event is called Linuxing in London, and it is the first of its kind for those who live in London, England, or surrounding areas. It is a Linux event for those who are curious about Linux as an operating system for their personal computers, but also for vendors who want to distribute a free OS with open-source software on their devices.
The first Linuxing in London meetup is taking place today, May 31, 2016, but if that’s too soon for you to go, you should know that the event will he held on the last Tuesday of every month. Where? At Skills Matter, CodeNode, 10 South Pl, London EC2M 7EB, United Kingdom. Refreshments and giveaways of goodies are on the menu, so be there if you care about the future of Linux!

Source: http://linux.softpedia.com/blog/join-the-linuxing-in-london-event-to-celebrate-linux-here-are-all-the-details-504632.shtml
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

Flying With a Book [LISNews:]

If you're flying in or out of Chattanooga TN airport, you'll have the opportunity to stop and pick up a book (payment on the honor system) to read on your flight, courtesy of the Friends of the Library. Here's the story from Times Free Press.

The purposeful change at the heart of librarianship [LISNews:]

Adaptation to change that’s based on thoughtful planning and grounded in the mission of libraries: it’s a model that respected LIS thinker and educator Michael Stephens terms “hyperlinked librarianship.” And the result, for librarians in leadership positions as well as those working on the front lines, is flexible librarianship that’s able to stay closely aligned with the needs and wants of library users. Stephens’ new book “The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change,” published by ALA Editions, is a collection of essays from his “Office Hours” columns in Library Journal which explore the issues and emerging trends that are transforming the profession.  Among the topics he discusses are: the importance of accessible, welcoming, and responsive library environments that invite open and equitable participation, and which factors are preventing many libraries from ramping up community engagement and user-focused services; challenges, developments, and emerging opportunities in the field, including new ways to reach users and harness curiosity; considerations for prospective librarians, from knowing what you want out of the profession to learning how to aim for it; why LIS curriculum and teaching styles need to evolve; mentoring and collaboration; and the concept of the library as classroom, a participatory space to experiment with new professional roles, new technologies, and new ways of interacting with patrons.
From The purposeful change at the heart of librarianship | News and Press Center

How to print things [LISNews:]

This page has two main purposes: To present a new method, the “Möbius method”, for printing and reading double-sided, loose-leaf documents. To collect and summarize concise explanations of the pros and cons of different methods for printing and reading loose-leaf documents, including single-sided, standard double-sided, and Möbius double-sided. (If you know of other methods, or have anything to add, please contact me!)
From How to print things | blog :: Brent -> [String]

Anybody going to Awesome Con this weekend? [Moe Lane]

It’s in DC, and my wife suggested that I go to it at least one day so as to get out of the house and go do something fandom-related. Anybody go to Awesome Con regularly? Is it fun? Just as importantly, is it relaxed? I’m trying to avoid grinding my teeth these days.

Sorry for any hiccups… [Moe Lane]

…but we’re doing some behind-the-scenes stuff here. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘Neil,’ because I just hit the clicky thing attached to the magic thinky box until the words come tumbling out. Anyway, hopefully the site will load a little faster now.

Anybody play “Rebel Galaxy?” [Moe Lane]

It looks good, but I’m worried that you never get off of the ship. Strictly ship combat only, in other words. Which is fine, but I like to get my FPS on every so often, you know what I mean?

Tweet of the Day, I Remember Having Stuff Like This In College edition. [Moe Lane]

Although dear GOD but I didn’t know the first thing about properly hanging pictures back then. I’d buy a print and wouldn’t frame it; instead, I’d stick it to the wall with some of that Fun-Tac stuff that the school hated (in retrospect, fairly) and vainly hope that it wouldn’t fall off (and rip) before the end of the school year. And then I’d do it again in September, because apparently I learned nothing from the experiment.

Still: I’d put this on my wall. Properly framed and mounted, of course.

‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ [Moe Lane]

Weird, how one’s perceptions of songs can change. When it came out, I thought it was dumb. Now I just think that it’s a song from when I was young.

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend. [Moe Lane]

Obviously, we’re all back home here.  And by God I am going nowhere for a while.  Mind you, in about a week or so the kids are out of school so I may feel the need to amend that stance just a tad…

Moe Lane

PS: Everything back to normal tomorrow. Or as normal as things ever get around here. You know the drill.

Did H.R. Giger accidentally create the chupacabra? [Moe Lane]

If so: I did not know this.

…[H.R.] Giger was also influential in a bizarre and little-known way: He unknowingly helped create the Hispanic vampire beast el chupacabra, one of the world’s best-known monsters which has been reported throughout Latin America attacking and sucking the blood out of animals — typically goats and chickens. Though many people mistakenly believe that the chupacabra has been reported for many decades, it was first sighted in Puerto Rico in 1995.

Apparently the description of the chupacabra by the woman who first reported it scans reasonably closely to the monster in the 1995 flick Species. …No, not Natasha Henstridge. What Natasha Henstridge turns into whenever the directors wanted to freak people out. Anyway: I suspect that there’s an adventure seed in that, at least for a modern horror game…

Tweet of the Day, That’s Some Very Fine Control On That Biomechanical Hand edition. [Moe Lane]

…Of course, I still get hung up on the idea that we have, well, biomechanical hands and limbs now.  I remember when we didn’t. Heck, I remember when we couldn’t do a credible-looking fake on TV. The future keeps coming right at us…

ISIS Issues Death Fatwa Against Tee Vee [The Jawa Report]

From now all all head chopping videos will be shown only at the compulsory Saturday night Caliphate Drive in theater.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

FTW! [The Jawa Report]

You might think Trump won the internets today. Nope.

Mitch McConnell on Endorsing Trump [Patterico's Pontifications]

This pretty much says it all:

Even so, McConnell matter-of-factly endorsed Trump when it was clear the real-estate mogul would win the nomination, a stark contrast to the continuing deliberations by House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell sees no political percentage in Republicans trying to disassociate themselves from the presumptive nominee by saying they won’t vote for him.

“I think that would be a mistake,” McConnell says, “because, obviously, you would like the people who are voting for your candidate for president to vote for you.”

With this guy, it’s all about getting people to vote for you. What you have to do in order to get that vote is almost completely irrelevant. (Perhaps the word “almost” doesn’t even belong in the previous sentence.)

Donald Trump is the culmination of this philosophy: a man who stands for absolutely nothing (except, in Trump’s case, selling the perception that he is a Tough Guy).

He and McConnell are made for each other.

Article: “Shady accounting underpins Trump’s wealth” [Patterico's Pontifications]

Ben White at Politico (cached link; no links for bullies):

Donald Trump claims a net worth of more than $10 billion and an income of $557 million. But he appears to get there only by overvaluing properties and ignoring his expenses.

POLITICO spoke with more than a dozen financial experts and Trump’s fellow multimillionaires about the presumptive Republican nominee’s financial statement. Their conclusion: The real estate magnate’s bottom line — what he actually puts in his own pocket — could be much lower than he suggests. Some financial analysts said this, and a very low tax rate, is why Trump won’t release his tax returns.

. . . .

The case against Trump’s accounting of his wealth: His businesses apparently generate a lot of revenue but may not put much cash in his pocket; he assigns himself a net worth that is impossible to verify and may be based in part on fantasy; and he is selling assets and increasing debt in ways that suggest a man scrambling for ready cash.

This, of course, will change no minds, nor is my posting of it an attempt to try. His supporters will ignore it, while we skeptics already assume that any word out of the man’s mouth is a self-serving lie. Anyway, we’re not his audience. It’s the boobs who are “persuaded” by interminable repetition of lies who are his target audience. Turns out there are a lot of them. Are there enough? Time will tell.

Trump, Master Persuader! [Patterico's Pontifications]

Let me give you a lesson in how Donald Trump is the Master Persuader. Kudos to Scott Adams of the Dilbert blog for pointing out Trump’s genius as a communicator.

“Do you think — honestly, honestly, honestly — do you think Hillary looks presidential?” The crowd answered in unison as Trump smirked: “Noooo!”

“I don’t think so,” Trump continued, shaking his head. “And I’m not going to say it because I’m not allowed to say it because I want to be politically correct, so I refuse to say that I cannot stand her screaming into the microphone all of the time.”

You see Trump’s genius at work here. See, if someone is upset by this Linguistic Kill Shot, and accuses him of being politically incorrect, he can deny having said it, pointing to his explicit denial: “I refuse to say it.” Trump wins! But if someone enjoys listening to Trump making fun of Hillary, then they will recognize what Trump is really saying, and applaud. Trump wins!

I admire his good, solid sense. It’s precisely what they lack on Capitol Hill.

Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson [Patterico's Pontifications]

Well, there goes that opportunity for a protest vote.

Dancer2 0.200000 is finally out! [Perlsphere]

The long awaited new version of Dancer2 is finally on its way to CPAN mirror near you!

Why did it take so long, what's changed, and why the big bump in version?

In short: A new plugin system, reworked from scratch, that is still (mostly) backwards compatible.

The plugin system

One of the sore points left in Dancer2 is its plugin architecture. The idea was to have an easy, comfortable plugin system (similar to Dancer 1) but much smarter. Unfortunately while the idea was there, and some of the code was there, the goals were not fully achieved, due to tuit shortage.

This led to various problems with plugins, most notably, using plugins within other plugins. This was beyond frustrating for several plugin developers. The current system was simply insufficient. We decided to finally tackle this. I have an entire story about that, but I'll leave it for another time.

The new plugin system provides each plugin with its own instance, full Moo classes (use attributes, roles, other plugins, whatever you want), full access to the internal objects (which, as a plugin developer, you might as well use), and cleanly decouples it from the user namespace. Despite it being object oriented, we still carefully try and handle the old keyword-based interface that the previous plugin system used. In places where it was not possible, we contacted the module authors, and provided pull requests to implement the new parts. We even collected statistics on which modules are supported, whether we submitted a PR, whether it was merged, and whether a new release was made. You can see this here.

The compatibility layer was incredibly involved and tasking and took several good developers, and myself, to get it done. Damien Krotkine (dams) even came back from semi-retirement just to help remove AUTOLOAD usage. He was missed. :)

Peter Mottram has worked tirelessly to get everything running as smooth as possible. He tracked everything, debugged, tested, submitted PRs, contacted and worked with authors, and basically did the work of about 20 people at once.

New core plugin

A beautiful gem that was a result of the second Dancer Conference (DancerConf), Dancer2::Plugin::SendAs is now in core! Most people do not know about it. It allows you to override the serializer (or the lack thereof) per response.

Well, that's not really true. The truth is that we introduced a stronger version of it with more features!

New keywords

The original keyword spec for Dancer and Dancer2 included header and push_header. This is only for response, not request. We now introduced variations explicitly for request and response, namely request_header and response_header (and more).

Megasplat fix

We fixed a problem with Megasplat, reported by Miyagawa-san.

Plack support

We support new Plack versions, a breakage that we marked as a mandatory high-priority issue.

A bit faster

We've internally moved to Type::Tiny which will automatically load Type::Tiny::XS, making your program faster.

We also moved from Class::Load to Module::Runtime to both reduce dependencies and speed up the framework.

There had been quite a few more improvements and we would like to thank everyone who helped make this release such a great one. You can view all the changes in the Changes log.


Now that we got the new plugin architecture out of the way, we can start concentrating on additional improvements and interesting changes. We will introduce a completely reworked documentation, named routes (or route aliases), and maybe a rainbow-colored pony which sneezes sunshine.

With much love, The Dancer Core Team.

Junichi Uekawa: Now I have a working FUSE module I wonder what next. [Planet Debian]

Now I have a working FUSE module I wonder what next.

Chris Lamb: Free software activities in May 2016 [Planet Debian]

Here is my monthly update covering a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world (previously):

  • Modified LetsEncrypt's "certbot" tool (previously the Let's Encrypt Client) to ensure that the documentation is built reproducibly. The issue was that a Python default keyword argument was non-deterministic and was appearing in documentation with the function's definition. (#3005)
  • Sent a pull request to Mailvelope, a browser extension for GPG/OpenPGP encryption with webmail services, to ensure that passphrase field is cleared when entered incorrectly. (#385)
  • Proposed an optional addition to django-enumfield, a custom Django web development field for type-safe named constants, that automatically enumerations to the template context to save DRY violations in views, etc. (#33)
  • Fixed an issue in the cdist configuration management's build system to ensure that the documentation builds reproducibly. It was previously including various documentation sections non-deterministically depending on the filesystem ordering. (#437)
  • Various improvements to django-slack, my library to easily post messages to the Slack group-messaging utility from projects using the Django web development framework:
    • Raise more specific exception types (instead of the more generic ValueError) wherever possible so that clients can detect specific error conditions. (#45)
    • Pass through arbitrary Python keyword arguments to the backend, allowing custom behaviour for special case. (#46)
    • Ensure that the backend result is returned by the Celery distributed task queue wrapper. (#47)
  • Updated my Strava Enhancement Suite, a Chrome extension that improves and fixes annoyances in the web interface of the Strava cycling and running tracker, to hide more internal advertisements. (#49)
  • Sent a pull request to the build system for gtk-gnutella (a server/client for the Gnutella peer-to-peer network) to ensure the build is reproducible if the SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH environment variable is available. (#17)
  • Updated the SSL certificate for try.diffoscope.org, a hosted version of the diffoscope in-depth and content-aware diff utility. Thanks to Bytemark for sponsoring the hardware.


My work in the Reproducible Builds project was covered in our weekly reports. (#53, #54, #55, #56 & #57)

Debian LTS

This month I have been paid to work 18 hours on Debian Long Term Support (LTS). In that time I did the following:

  • A week of "frontdesk" duties, triaging CVEs, assigning tasks, etc.
  • Issued DLA 464-1 for libav, a multimedia player, server, encoder and transcoder library that fixed a use-after free vulnerability.
  • Issued DLA 469-1 for libgwenhywfar (an OS abstraction layer that allows porting of software to different operating systems like Linux, *BSD, Windows, etc.) correcting the use of an outdated CA certificate bundle.
  • Issued DLA 470-1 for libksba, a X.509 and CMS certificate support library. patching a buffer vulnerability.
  • Issued DLA 474-1 for dosfstools, a collection of utilities for making and checking MS-DOS FAT filesystems, fixing an invalid memory and heap overflow vulnerability.
  • Issued DLA 482-1 for libgd2 graphics library, rectifying a stack consumption vulnerability.


  • python-django (1.9.6-1) — New upstream bugfix release.
  • redis (3.2.0-1, etc.) — New upstream release, correct build on more exotic architectures and minor packaging fixups.
  • gunicorn (19.5.0-1 & 19.6.0-1) — New upstream releases and minor packaging fixups.

Enrico Zini: Python gotcha [Planet Debian]

This code:


class Test:
    def __init__(self, items=[]):
        self.items = items

    def add(self, item):

a = Test()
b = Test()

"obviously" prints:

['foo', 'bar']
['foo', 'bar']

Because the default value of the items argument is a mutable list constructed just once when the code is compiled when the function definition is evaluated, and then reused.

So, in Python, mutable items in default arguments are a good way to get more fun time with debugging.

Paul Tagliamonte: Iron Blogger DC [Planet Debian]

Back in 2014, Mako ran a Boston Iron Blogger chapter, where you had to blog once a week, or you owed $5 into the pot. A while later, I ran it (along with Molly and Johns), and things were great.

When I moved to DC, I had already talked with Tom Lee and Eric Mill about running a DC Iron Blogger chapter, but it hasn’t happened in the year and a half I’ve been in DC.

This week, I make good on that, with a fantastic group set up at dc.iron-blogger.com; with more to come (I’m sure!).

Looking forward to many parties and though provoking blog posts in my future. I’m also quite pleased I’ll be resuming my blogging. Hi, again, planet Debian!

Calvin Gaisford: Pigs Fly [Planet openSUSE]

I was chatting today with Boyd and he discovered he hasn't blogged anything since January 1, 2009.  The shocking part came when we realized that was four years ago.  While it hasn't been that long for me, I've been pretty inconsistent and most of my recent entries have been about biking.  Since I can't bike right now (27˚F) I thought I'd write about some technology.

A little more than a month ago I began work on Todo Pro for Android.  I have a very limited working version that I can use and syncs with the Todo Pro service.  BTW, the answer is no you can't have it yet, only I know how to tip-toe through it so it doesn't have problems.  

Just before Christmas I decided I needed to really experience life with an Android phone so I went shopping.  I was limited to the Verizon models available and spent half a day researching and going to the Verizon store to play with the devices.  The first device I was shown was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.  I stick with my first observation in that this device is not a phone.  It is a very small tablet that works to make phone calls and is only good for Women who can place it in their purse.  As if calling something this large a phone isn't enough entertainment, it comes with a stylus!  

For the benefit the younger and less experienced reader, a stylus is a stick that looks like a pencil that you use for input on a device.  It's sort of how you use your finger on your iPhone, but think Soviet Military from the 80's.  Steve Jobs was right.  My top desk drawer tends to collect items at the back of it that were useful in their day but have now been replaced.  Under a collection of foreign money not worth the time or effort to exchange and an old wallet I never used is my old worn out collection of styli from devices years ago.

Back of my desk drawer
Lost Styli Revealed

The thought of going back to a stylus is frightening, but the sales guy at the Verizon store assured me the Galaxy Note 2 was the most advanced phone made.

Samsung Galaxy S III
I spent a lot of time looking at the various Android phones available and even called up Android users I knew and asked their advice.  The Galaxy S III seemed like a logical choice.  It's Verizon's most popular phone from what I could tell and it had the best Calendar App (an exclusive app to Samsung) of all of the devices.  I use my calendar a lot!  It also had great specs and I was fairly confident it would get the next few Android updates which would prolong it's usefulness to Appigo.  I bought the phone and had them connect it to my plan replacing my iPhone 5.  That night I went through all of the apps on my iPhone 5 and downloaded the Android versions of them.  Dropbox, mSecure, Mint, Chase, Dictionary, eBay, Kitco, Gospel Library, LDS Tools were all available for Android and I had them up and running quickly.  I of course also had Todo Pro!  All of my calendars and contacts were in iCloud so I found an app called SmoothSync for Cloud that will sync iCloud calendars and contacts to Android.  I was amazed at how easy it was to still have access to everything on a completely foreign device.  I didn't need the Reeder app since Google Reader is available for Android and I could get all of my notes from Appigo Notebook directly from Dropbox.  Dropbox on Android is more like Dropbox on OS X.  It syncs even when it's not running and will let you edit files and upload them.

For the first time I was actually beginning to think I could switch to Android and be happy about it.  My previous experience was with a Nexus One from Google and Android has certainly come a long way since then.

Twelve days later I was back in the Verizon store returning the Galaxy S III.  It took just over a week for the novelty of this shiny big new phone to wear off and I started to focus on it's faults.  

The first fault I noticed right away but it took a week for it to really frustrate me.  It was the location of the power and volume buttons on the phone.  They are directly across from each other on opposite sides of the phone.  It's not apparent why that's a problem until you wake in the middle of the night and reach over to turn on your phone to see what time it is.  The Galaxy S III is so wide you have to stretch your hand out and squeeze both sides to turn it on.  When I would do this, I would always, always, always turn the volume up on the ringer and it would make a noise.  Of course I want the phone silent at night so I would then have to fumble and turn it back down all the way.  Then I noticed this volume changing was happening all them time when I would try to turn the phone on and off.

The next fault I also noticed right away but it took me longer to figure out what was happening.  Actually, it took me going skiing for several days in a row.  The lift going up the mountain at Sundance is not exactly what I call quick so there is some time to burn.  I often will pull out my phone and keep in touch with people.  Well, it's also cold so I one hand operate my phone.  No reason to get both hands cold unless of course you bought one of Samsung's new ginormous Galaxy Note 2 phones.  You can barely hold that phone in one hand let alone use it.  Well, turns out the same is true of the Galaxy S III.  It's too big for one handed operation.  Every time I would try to reach my thumb to the top or bottom left of the screen, my palm would touch along the right half of the screen and "palm-launch" an app.  It was also precarious to handle when sitting on a ski lift thirty feet above deep soft snow.  I decided I needed to return it and either go back to an iPhone 5 or find a smaller phone that didn't have the power and volume buttons on either side.

When the woman at the sales desk in the Verizon store found out I was returning a Galaxy S III she looked like I was calling her baby ugly.  She was stunned.  "I have never had anyone return this phone, I don't understand" she said.  I tried to explain the button thing and the one handed stuff on the ski lift but she was not very understanding and still stunned I was returning it.

Motorola Droid RAZR M
I replaced the Galaxy S III with the Droid RAZR M from Motorola.  The only thing I liked better on the Galaxy was the calendar app but I'm making due with the default Android calendar app.  The M is nearly identical in size to the iPhone 5 and one handed operation is excellent.  It also has the power and volume buttons on the same side so there is also no volume changing when turning the phone on and off.  I've had it longer than I had the Galaxy S III and I still like it.

Todo Pro for Android running on my Droid RAZR M

I showed Jack Young that my new phone was an Android on Sunday.  He looked shocked and asked me if he should make an announcement from the pulpit.

Calvin Gaisford: Wake Up Alarms [Planet openSUSE]

I use my phone as my alarm clock and I have to wonder what the people were thinking when they designed the screens to turn off the alarms (shown above on an iPhone 5 and a Droid RAZR M).  For the benefit of the younger and less experienced readers (I'm starting to find some sick pleasure in saying that) I'd like to explain the problem here.  As you become older, or as Brian my youthful employee likes to say "become more brittle", you'll find that you need corrective lenses for almost all you do.  I'm now to the point that when somebody hands me something to read I find myself pulling a "Dr. Gaisford" move where I hold the item at arm length from my face so I can actually read it.

There is a reason why most alarm clocks have a single physical button on the top of them to turn them off.   Simply slam your hand down on the top of it and you'll most likely hit that button and turn off the alarm.  At 5:30am when I am suddenly thrust out of my deep sleep into a very dark room lit only by the seemingly ultra-bright screen on my phone, it is very difficult to make sense of these screens.  The iPhone screen is not as bad as the Android screen because the slide at the bottom of the screen is fairly easy to do.  Of course when the room it pitch black and I'm groggy from sleep and I don't have glasses on the screen looks more like this (except it hurts your eyes more and there is a loud sound that won't stop):

Most of us could probably figure out how to turn the alarm off even when the screen is that bad.  How about the Android screen:

Now imagine having my vision being half asleep squinting as hard as you can to make out the text on that screen (which I never could due to the extreem brightness) trying to turn off the alarm.  A few days ago I hit what I thought was the right button because it went silent.  When I turned off the water from the shower I could hear it going off again.  I obviously guessed wrong and hit the snooze button by mistake.  That or I guessed correctly but since the two buttons are so small and right next to each other I may have actually hit the wrong button.

I would suggest that a wake up alarm screen needs to have two simple large buttons, one to snooze and the other to indicate I'm up.  Here is a very quick and dirty mockup adjusted to my early morning perception:

This is by no means a perfect and beautiful, but for the purposes of turning off my alarms at 5:30am, I don't need perfection, I need function!  Note that the two huge buttons are on opposites ends of the screen so you won't make a choice and hit the wrong one.

Calvin Gaisford: Back on my iPhone [Planet openSUSE]

I have posted a bunch of times about switching between phones.  Because I develop apps I have various devices and switch between them depending on what I'm working on.  I like to test out the software I'm currently working on.  Last night I switched back to an iPhone 5s from a Samsung Galaxy S4.  If you properly set up your "cloud" data it's fairly easy to switch between devices (how I do that probably deserves it's own post).  I was really surprised this morning when I took Toma for a walk at the quality of picture difference between the two.  Look at the full resolution version of that picture (at the leaves).  I have never been able to get a photo like that out of the Samsung!  Toma's face in the photo isn't as clear but he was moving.

Sebastian Kügler: Multiscreen in Plasma 5.7 and beyond [Planet openSUSE]

Here’s a quick status update about where we currently stand with respect to multiscreen support in Plasma Desktop.

While for many people, multiscreen support in Plasma works nicely, for some of our users, it doesn’t. There are problems with restoring previously set up configurations, and around the primary display mechanism. We’re really unhappy about that, and we’re working on fixing it for all of our users. These kinds of bugs are the stuff nightmares are made of, so there’s not a silver bullet to fix everything of it, once and for all right away. Multiscreen support requires many different components to play in tune with each other, and they’re usually divided into separate processes communicating via different channels with each other. There’s X11 involved, XCB, Qt, libkscreen and of course the Plasma shell. I can easily at least three different protocols in this game, Wayland being a fourth (but likely not used at the same time as X11). There’s quite some complexity involved, and the individual components involved are actually doing their jobs quite well and have their specific purposes. Let me give an overview.

Multiscreen components

Plasma Shell renders the desktop, places panels, etc., When a new screen is connected, it checks whether it has an existing configuration (wallpaper, widgets, panels etc.) and extends the desktop. Plasma shell gets its information from QScreen now (more on that later on!)

KWin is the compositor and window manager. KWin/X11 interacts with X11 and is responsible for window management, movement, etc.. Under Wayland, it will also take the job of the graphical and display server work that X11 currently does, though mostly through Wayland and *GL APIs.

KScreen kded is a little daemon (actually a plugin) that keeps track of connected monitors and applies existing configs when they change

KScreen is a module in systemsettings that allows to set up the display hardware, positioning, resolution, etc.

Libkscreen is the library that backs the KScreen configuration. It offers an API abstraction over XRandR and Wayland. libkscreen sits pretty much at the heart of proper multiscreen support when it comes to configuring manually and loading the configuration.

Primary Desktop

The primary display mechanism is a bit of API (rooted in X11) to mark a display as primary. This is used to place the Panel in Plasma, and for example to show the login manager window on the correct monitor.

Libkscreen and Qt’s native QScreen are two different mechanism to reflect screen information. QScreen is mainly used for querying info (and is of course used throughout QtGui to place windows, get information about resolution and DPI, etc.). Libkscreen has all this information as well, but also some more, such as write support. Libkscreen’s backends get this information directly from Xorg, not going through Qt’s QScreen API. For plasmashell, we ended up needing both, since it was not possible to find the primary display using Qt’s API. This causes quite some problems since X11 is async by its nature, so essentially we ended up having “unfixable” race conditions, also in plasmashell. These are likely the root cause of the bug you’re seeing here.

This API has been added in Qt 5.6 (among a few other fixes) by Aleix Pol, one of our devs in the screen management team. We have removed libkscreen from plasmashell today and replaced it with “pure QScreen” code, since all the API we need for plasmashell is now available in the Qt we depend on.

These changes should fix much of the panel placement grief that bug 356225 causes. It does need some good testing, now it’s merged. Therefore, we’d like to see as many people, especially those reporting problem with multiscreen, to test against latest Plasma git master (or the upcoming Plasma 5.7 Beta, which is slated for release on June, 16th).

Remember the config

Another rough area that is under observation right now is remembering and picking the right configuration from a previous setup, for example when you return to your docking station which has another display connected. Bug 358011 is an example for that. Here, we get “spurious” events about hardware changes from X11, and I’m unsure where they come from. The problem is that it’s not easy to reproduce, it only happens for certain setups. This bug was likely introduced with the move to Qt 5 and Frameworks, it’s a regression compared to Plasma 4.
I’ve re-reviewed the existing code, added more autotests and made the code more robust in some places that seemed relevant, but I can’t say that we’ve found a sure solution to these problems. The code is now also better instrumented for debugging the areas at play here. Now we need some more testing of the upcoming beta. This is certainly not unfixable, but needs feedback from testing so we can apply further fixes if needed.

Code quality musings

From a software engineering point of view, we’re facing some annoying problems. It took us a long time to get upstream QScreen code to be robust and featureful enough to draw the lines between the components involved, especially QScreen and libkscreen more clearly, which certainly helps to reduce hard-to-debug race conditions involving hardware events. The fact that it’s almost impossible to properly unit test large parts of the stack (X11 and hardware events are especially difficult in that regard) means that it’s hard to control the quality. On the other hand, we’re lacking testers, especially those that face said problems and are able to test the latest versions of Qt and Plasma.
QA processes is something we spent some serious work on, on the one hand, our review processes for new code and changes to current code are a lot stricter, so we catch more problems and potential side-effects before code gets merged. For new code, especially the Wayland support, our QA story also looks a lot better. We’re aiming for near-100% autotest coverage, and in many cases, the autotests are a lot more demanding than the real world use cases. Still, it’s a lot of new code that needs some real world exposure, which we hope to get more of when users test Plasma 5.7 using Wayland.

Jorge Castro: Zeppelin is now a top level Apache project [Planet Ubuntu]

Apache Zeppelin has just graduated to become a top-level project at the Apache Foundation.

As always, our Big Data team has you covered, you can find all the goodness here:

But for most people you likely just want to be able to consume Zeppelin as part of your Spark cluster, check out these links below for some out-of-the-box clusters:

Happy Big-data-ing, and as always, you can join other big data enthusiasts on the mailing list: bigdata@lists.ubuntu.com

Ubuntu Insights: Snaps on NAS: IOT apps for your private network [Planet Ubuntu]

QNAP selects snaps and Ubuntu to bring IOT apps to its NAS

On Friday QNAP announced that they were adopting snaps as the application format of choice for their NAS going forward. Behind this decision are two factors, the ease of development of snaps and the universality of snaps, especially to create IoT applications.

NAS have been around for a while, and have been used across a wide array of use cases from media servers in tech-savvy household to remote file server by SMBs. QNAP have been a pioneer in this space offering an appstore for their NAS, with hundred of apps: local web servers (WordPress, Drupal), Media server (Kodi), Cloud backup …

The rise of connected homes and buildings means an increasing number of sensors, smart meters,security cameras, plugs being connected to the local network… And therefore to the local NAS. This means NAS are seeing a new lease of life, and can now start to act as local IoT gateways, offering a great combination of local storage and computing power. A range of IoT applications are particularly suited to run on such machines that require local computing for fast decision making and large data storage for auditing or future prediction reasons. Video surveillance applications for example can use local movement detection algorithms to alert of any intrusion, cost effectively store all the video footage locally for audit purposes, back up to the cloud only relevant footage or summaries.

By adopting snaps as the preferred application format for their NAS going forward QNAP is looking to surf on the growing popularity of snaps across Ubuntu desktop and Ubuntu Core in IoT. They’re keen to leverage universality of snaps which can be deployed from Ubuntu desktops to Ubuntu Core IoT Gateways. But also the simplicity of creating snaps, with snapcraft a tool that makes it simple to build secure, contained applications from source easily.

Zygmunt Krynicki: Bite-size bugs in snapd [Planet Ubuntu]


This is just a quick shout to anyone out there that is interested in snapd, maybe follows development or is just curious. We are getting more and more bite-size bugs that would be perfect for someone to pick up and fix as their first contribution to either free and open source software in general or perhaps to specifically to snapd itself.

There's one such bug I'd like to highlight just now. https://bugs.launchpad.net/snappy/+bug/1587445

The bug is very simple to fix. The snap list command should say something appropriate when there are no snaps installed. This is literally an if statement and a printf call. If anyone wants to try to do that, feel free to ping me on irc (zyga on #snappy on freenode) or comment below on Google+.

We have hacking instructions, we have automated tests and we have a friendly development community. I'd love to see you joint us.

Ubuntu Insights: Building a nervous system for OpenStack [Planet Ubuntu]

Big Software is a new class of software composed of so many moving pieces that humans, by themselves, cannot design, deploy or operate them. OpenStack, Hadoop and container-based architectures are all byproducts of Big Software. The only way to address the complexity is with automatic, AI-powered analytics.

DeepStack UI Demo


Canonical and Skymind are working together to help System Administrators operate large OpenStack instances. With the growth of cloud computing, the size of data has surpassed humans’ ability to cope with it. In particular, overwhelming amounts of data make it difficult to identify patterns; e.g. signals that precede server failure. Using deep learning, Skymind enables OpenStack to discover patterns automatically, predict server failure and take preventative actions.

Canonical story

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, was founded in March 2004 and launched its Linux distribution six months later. Shortly thereafter, Amazon created AWS, the first public cloud. Canonical worked to make Ubuntu the easiest option for AWS and later public cloud computing platforms.

In 2010, OpenStack was created as the open-source alternative to the public cloud. Quickly, the complexity of deploying and running OpenStack at cloud scale showed that traditional configuration management, which focuses on instances (i.e. machines, servers) rather than running micro-service architectures, was not the right approach. This was the beginning of what Canonical named the Era of Big Software.

Big Software is a class of software made up of so many moving pieces that humans cannot design, deploy and operate alone. It is meant to evoke big data, defined initially as data you cannot store on a single machine. OpenStack, Hadoop and container-based architectures are all big software.

The problem with Big Software

Day 1: Deployment

The first challenge of big software is to create a service model for successful deployment; that is, to find a way to support immediate and successful installations of that software. Canonical has created several tools to streamline this process. Those tools help map software to available resources:

  • MAAS: Metal as a Service which is a provisioning API for bare metal servers
  • Landscape: Policy and governance tool for large fleets of OS instances
  • Juju: Service modeling software to model and deploy big software

Day 2: Operations

Big Software is hard to model and deploy and even harder to operate, which means day 2 operations also need a new approach.

Traditional monitoring and logging tools were designed for operators who only had to oversee data generated by fewer than 100 servers. They would find patterns manually, create SQL queries to catch harmful events, and receive notifications if they needed to act. When noSQL became available, this improved marginally, since queries would scale.

But that doesn’t solve the core problem today. With Big Software, there is so much data that a normal human cannot cope with and find patterns of behaviour that result in server failure.

AI and the future of Big Software

This is where AI comes in. Deep Learning is the future of those day 2 operations. Neural nets can learn from massive amounts of data to find almost any needle in almost any haystack. Those nets are a tool that vastly extends the power of traditional system admins; in a sense, transforming their role.

Initially, neural nets will be a tool to triage logs, surface interesting patterns and predict hardware failure. As humans react to these events and label data (by confirming the AI’s predictions), the power to make certain operational decisions will be given to the AI directly: e.g. scale this service in/out, kill this node, move these containers, etc.
Finally, as the AI learns, self-healing data centers will become standard. AI will eventually modify code to improve and remodel the infrastructure as it discovers better models adapted to the resources at hand.

The first generation Deep Learning solution looks like this: HDFS + Mesos + Spark + DL4J + Spark Notebook. It’s an enablement model, so that anyone can do Deep Learning. But using Skymind on OpenStack is just the beginning.

Ultimately, Canonical wants every piece of software to be scrutinised and learnt in order to build the best architectures and operating tools.

Learn more

View the Original article to learn more about how Canonical and Skymind are working together to solve Deep Learning problems. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team.


Skymind provides scalable deep learning for industry. It is the commercial support arm of the open-source project Deeplearning4j, a versatile deep-learning framework written for the JVM. Skymind’s artificial neural nets can run on desktop, mobile, and massively parallel GPUs and CPUs in the cloud to analyze text, images, sound and time series data. A few use cases: facial recognition, image search, theme detection and augmented search in text, speech-to-text and CRM.

About the author

Chris Nicholson

Chris Nicholson is the founder and CEO of Skymind. He spends his days helping enterprises build Deep Learning applications.

Zygmunt Krynicki: snapd 2.0.5 released, new release cadence [Planet Ubuntu]

There's a new release of snapd arriving in Ubuntu 16.04. As before, our fearless release manager Michael Vogt has crafted the work and made sure it can arrive to your machines on a timely basis.

You can see the changelog below, annotated with links to fixed bugs. I would only like to highlight one bug which improves experience of snaps under Unity 7.

New snapd releases are now planned to happen every week. You can expect a steady stream of fresh snappy goodness in both snapd and in the store. With this in mind we also plan to change the version scheme. Currently, as you can see below, we use 2.0.x for each micro-release. This system will quickly get meaningless so we will likely witch to a date-based release names instead . Expect to see a 2016W22 (or ..23) release next time around.

On the development front, many interesting changes are in the pipeline. While not a part of snapd 2.0.5 they should be released in the next few weeks, at most. You can expect applications to gain ability to play sound and music using the new pulseaudio interface. This ability, along with bug fixes to opengl should unlock the ability to deliver many popular games as snaps. Game on!

There's also ongoing work to allow sharing data from the classic Ubuntu and snaps. One of our first goals is to allow sharing fonts. This will improve the user experience of snaps that want to take advantage of custom, locally installed fonts. It should also allow us to package fonts as snaps in the near future. The underlying technology is very generic and I'm sure we'll find many interesting things to share this way.

As always, you can reach out to us on IRC (#snappy) and on the mailing list (snapcraft@lists.ubuntu.com, see this post for details). If you have any questions we will be happy to answer them.

See you next week!

snapd (2.0.5) xenial; urgency=medium

* New upstream release: LP: #1583085
- interfaces: add dbusmenu, freedesktop and kde notifications to
unity7 (LP: #1573188)
- daemon: make localSnapInfo return SnapState
- cmd: make snap list with no snaps not special
- debian: workaround for XDG_DATA_DIRS issues
- cmd,po: fix conflicts, apply review from #1154
- snap,store: load and store the private flag sent by the store in
- interfaces/apparmor/template.go: adjust /dev/shm to be more usable
- store: use purchase decorator in Snap and FindSnaps
- interfaces: first version of the networkmanager interface
- snap, snappy: implement the new (minmimal) kernel spec
- cmd/snap, debian: move manpage generation to depend on an environ
key; also, fix completion

-- Michael Vogt Thu, 19 May 2016 15:29:16 +0200

snapd (2.0.4) xenial; urgency=medium

* New upstream release:
- interfaces: cleanup explicit denies
- integration-tests: remove the ancient integration daemon tests
- integration-tests: add network-bind interface test
- integration-tests: add actual checks for undoing install
- integration-tests: add store login test
- snap: add certain implicit slots only on classic
- integration-tests: add coverage flags to snapd.service ExecStart
setting when building from branch
- integration-tests: remove the tests for features removed in 16.04.
- daemon, overlord/snapstate: "(de)activate" is no longer a thing
- docs: update meta.md and security.md for current snappy
- debian: always start snapd
- integration-tests: add test for undoing failed install
- overlord: handle ensureNext being in the past
- overlord/snapstate,overlord/snapstate/backend,snappy: start
backend porting LinkSnap and UnlinkSnap
- debian/tests: add reboot capability to autopkgtest and execute
- daemon,snappy,progress: drop license agreement broken logic
- daemon,client,cmd/snap: nice access denied message
(LP: #1574829)
- daemon: add user parameter to all commands
- snap, store: rework purchase methods into decorators
- many: simplify release package and add OnClassic
- interfaces: miscellaneous policy updates
- snappy,wrappers: move desktop files handling to wrappers
- snappy: remove some obviously dead code
- interfaces/builtin: quote apparmor label
- many: remove the gadget yaml support from snappy
- snappy,systemd,wrappers: move service units generation to wrappers
- store: add method to determine if a snap must be bought
- store: add methods to read purchases from the store
- wrappers,snappy: move binary wrapper generation to new package
- snap: add `snap help` command
- integration-tests: remove framework-test data and avoid using
config-snap for now
- builtin/unity7.go: allow using gmenu. Closes: LP:#1576287
- add integration test to verify fix for LP:#1571721

-- Michael Vogt Fri, 13 May 2016 17:19:37 -0700

Sebastian Kügler: Multiscreen in Plasma 5.7 and beyond [Planet Ubuntu]

Here’s a quick status update about where we currently stand with respect to multiscreen support in Plasma Desktop.

While for many people, multiscreen support in Plasma works nicely, for some of our users, it doesn’t. There are problems with restoring previously set up configurations, and around the primary display mechanism. We’re really unhappy about that, and we’re working on fixing it for all of our users. These kinds of bugs are the stuff nightmares are made of, so there’s not a silver bullet to fix everything of it, once and for all right away. Multiscreen support requires many different components to play in tune with each other, and they’re usually divided into separate processes communicating via different channels with each other. There’s X11 involved, XCB, Qt, libkscreen and of course the Plasma shell. I can easily at least three different protocols in this game, Wayland being a fourth (but likely not used at the same time as X11). There’s quite some complexity involved, and the individual components involved are actually doing their jobs quite well and have their specific purposes. Let me give an overview.

Multiscreen components

Plasma Shell renders the desktop, places panels, etc., When a new screen is connected, it checks whether it has an existing configuration (wallpaper, widgets, panels etc.) and extends the desktop. Plasma shell gets its information from QScreen now (more on that later on!)

KWin is the compositor and window manager. KWin/X11 interacts with X11 and is responsible for window management, movement, etc.. Under Wayland, it will also take the job of the graphical and display server work that X11 currently does, though mostly through Wayland and *GL APIs.

KScreen kded is a little daemon (actually a plugin) that keeps track of connected monitors and applies existing configs when they change

KScreen is a module in systemsettings that allows to set up the display hardware, positioning, resolution, etc.

Libkscreen is the library that backs the KScreen configuration. It offers an API abstraction over XRandR and Wayland. libkscreen sits pretty much at the heart of proper multiscreen support when it comes to configuring manually and loading the configuration.

Primary Desktop

The primary display mechanism is a bit of API (rooted in X11) to mark a display as primary. This is used to place the Panel in Plasma, and for example to show the login manager window on the correct monitor.

Libkscreen and Qt’s native QScreen are two different mechanism to reflect screen information. QScreen is mainly used for querying info (and is of course used throughout QtGui to place windows, get information about resolution and DPI, etc.). Libkscreen has all this information as well, but also some more, such as write support. Libkscreen’s backends get this information directly from Xorg, not going through Qt’s QScreen API. For plasmashell, we ended up needing both, since it was not possible to find the primary display using Qt’s API. This causes quite some problems since X11 is async by its nature, so essentially we ended up having “unfixable” race conditions, also in plasmashell. These are likely the root cause of the bug you’re seeing here.

This API has been added in Qt 5.6 (among a few other fixes) by Aleix Pol, one of our devs in the screen management team. We have removed libkscreen from plasmashell today and replaced it with “pure QScreen” code, since all the API we need for plasmashell is now available in the Qt we depend on.

These changes should fix much of the panel placement grief that bug 356225 causes. It does need some good testing, now it’s merged. Therefore, we’d like to see as many people, especially those reporting problem with multiscreen, to test against latest Plasma git master (or the upcoming Plasma 5.7 Beta, which is slated for release on June, 16th).

Remember the config

Another rough area that is under observation right now is remembering and picking the right configuration from a previous setup, for example when you return to your docking station which has another display connected. Bug 358011 is an example for that. Here, we get “spurious” events about hardware changes from X11, and I’m unsure where they come from. The problem is that it’s not easy to reproduce, it only happens for certain setups. This bug was likely introduced with the move to Qt 5 and Frameworks, it’s a regression compared to Plasma 4.
I’ve re-reviewed the existing code, added more autotests and made the code more robust in some places that seemed relevant, but I can’t say that we’ve found a sure solution to these problems. The code is now also better instrumented for debugging the areas at play here. Now we need some more testing of the upcoming beta. This is certainly not unfixable, but needs feedback from testing so we can apply further fixes if needed.

Code quality musings

From a software engineering point of view, we’re facing some annoying problems. It took us a long time to get upstream QScreen code to be robust and featureful enough to draw the lines between the components involved, especially QScreen and libkscreen more clearly, which certainly helps to reduce hard-to-debug race conditions involving hardware events. The fact that it’s almost impossible to properly unit test large parts of the stack (X11 and hardware events are especially difficult in that regard) means that it’s hard to control the quality. On the other hand, we’re lacking testers, especially those that face said problems and are able to test the latest versions of Qt and Plasma.
QA processes is something we spent some serious work on, on the one hand, our review processes for new code and changes to current code are a lot stricter, so we catch more problems and potential side-effects before code gets merged. For new code, especially the Wayland support, our QA story also looks a lot better. We’re aiming for near-100% autotest coverage, and in many cases, the autotests are a lot more demanding than the real world use cases. Still, it’s a lot of new code that needs some real world exposure, which we hope to get more of when users test Plasma 5.7 using Wayland.

New Regional Managers [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

The RSGB Board have agreed to co-opt Regional Managers for Region 2 and Region 12. Both posts will become due for election at the next AGM. Denny Morrison GM1BAN has been appointed for Region 2. Keith Haynes G3WRO has been appointed for Region 12.

Chair of the Planning Advisory Committee [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

The RSGB Board is pleased to confirm the appointment of John Mattocks G4TEQ as Chair of the Planning Advisory Committee. John was previously the PAC Vice Chairman and is a retired Planning Inspector. The Society would like to record its appreciation to Stephen Purser G4SHF for his many years of service as PAC Chairman.

Band Plan changes from 1 June 2016 [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

Amateurs are advised that updates to a number of band plans are now in effect in the UK and across IARU Region 1 as of 1 June 2016. The changes to 80m, 30m and VHF provide for greater flexibility for narrow band digital modes. The new version also includes some editorial updates in other bands. […]

Hate online ads? U.K. carrier will block them from reaching your phone [CBC | Technology News]


A cellphone company in the U.K. plans to take ad blockers to the next level with a controversial new technology called Shine. CBC Radio technology columnist Dan Misener explains how it works.

Minivan-sized deep-sea sponge is biggest ever found [CBC | Technology News]

The team of scientists on a deep-sea expedition in the waters off Hawaii discovered what they say is the world's largest known sponge.

Watchdog calls for more scrutiny of chemicals in cosmetics and household products [CBC | Technology News]

Environment Report 20160126

A new report by the federal environmental commissioner says Health Canada isn’t doing enough to protect Canadians from hazardous chemicals in household and cosmetic products. Julie Gelfand also draws attention to the need to consider the impact of extreme weather events in decisions about infrastructure.

FAQs: Bleaching threatens survival of planet's coral reefs [CBC | Technology News]

While the Great Barrier Reef experiences the worst mass bleaching in its history, other coral reefs follow suit. What causes the bleaching and what can be done?

Facebook, Twitter pledge to review hate complaints within 1 day [CBC | Technology News]


Facebook, Twitter, Google's YouTube and Microsoft pledged on Tuesday to review requests for the removal of hateful content posted on their platforms within 24 hours as part of a code of conduct agreed with EU regulators.

Half-price cellphone plans? There's a booming black market [CBC | Technology News]


Costly cellphone plans in many parts of Canada appear to be fuelling a booming black market industry for cheap deals.

UBC student discovers 4 new exoplanets [CBC | Technology News]

UBC graduate Michelle Kunimoto searched through data collected by NASA's Kepler mission, which used a powerful telescope to look for planets outside the solar system.

Cake or ice cream? Researchers dish on why kids often choose 'both' [CBC | Technology News]

Children may not be messing with you when they refuse to choose between one of two options, say researchers, noting that the youngsters may simply be confusing the word "or" with "and."

Grassy Narrows First Nation demands cleanup of mercury contamination in northern Ontario [CBC | Technology News]

grassy narrows fishing sihouette

The chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation says mercury dumped in the waterways near his community nearly 60 years ago must be cleaned up. The demand comes a day after scientists released research showing it is possible to remediate at least some of the lakes and rivers near the northern Ontario community.

Tigers seized from Thai temple in wildlife trafficking bust [CBC | Technology News]

Wildlife authorities in Thailand on Monday raided a Buddhist temple where tigers are kept, taking away three of the animals and vowing to confiscate scores more in response to global pressure over wildlife trafficking.

The Bible has been translated into emoji for millennials [CBC | Technology News]

At long last, people between the ages of 16 and 35 can now understand the "bestselling book of all time" thanks to an emoji translation of the Bible.

No Man's Sky game developer sent death threats after release date delayed [CBC | Technology News]

The creator of No Man's Sky, an upcoming sci-fi exploration game, says he received death threats online after reports surfaced that the game's release was pushed back.

Deutsche Welle closes Kigali relay station [The SWLing Post]

DW's relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

DW’s relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

(Source: KT Press via Richard Cuff)

Germans Close Business in Rwanda After Half Century Lease Expires

Once a powerful facility in the region, the German owned Deutsche Welle radio center at Kinyinya hill outside Kigali is finally and completely shutting down. It’s no more.

In 1965, Rwanda leased 68.4 hectares on Kinyinya hill for fifty years to the Germans- that later set up a massive facility to boost Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

“We are stopping our short wave transmitters today and then next week we will start dismantling them and the masts in order to meet the deadline of August when our license expires,” said Bernhard Ahlborn, the deputy director of Deutsche Welle.

On March 28, 2015 the facility stopped its operations, to begin dismantling their equipment, to pave away for the handover of the Land to Rwanda government.

The Germans will today hand over the premises of the relay station with its infrastructure to the Government of Rwanda, to mark the end of 50 year concession agreement.

The Deutsche Welle relay station in Kigali has been serving African and the Middle East audiences. It was the only firm facility of the kind that was remaining. The Germans had similar facilities in other 60 countries.

Continue reading on the KT Press website…

David enjoys hammock mobile SWLing with his Icom IC-92AD [The SWLing Post]


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin (K2WNW), for sharing this short video demonstrating the shortwave receive capabilities of the Icom IC-92AD handheld transceiver:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Frankly, I’m quite amazed at the clarity and fidelity of the Voice of Turkey interval signal on this handheld. Goes to show that with a proper antenna, and decent conditions, wide-band handhelds can certainly be used for shortwave radio listening! It also helps that David is outdoors, away from RFI, and was located on the coast of Long Island, NY.

Post readers: Have you had good fortune SWLing with wide-band handled transceivers? Please comment!

‘Kindle killed the library book’: Tracey Ullman video mocks miserly U.K. pols [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Even as a lover of e-books, I laughed at this hilarious video titled “Kindle killed the library book.”

It pokes fun at the mean-spirited U.K. politicians shutting down hundreds of brick-and-mortar local libraries. Props to actor-comic Tracey Ullman and friends for mocking the misers.

Library e-books mustn’t kill off the paper variety, at least not for many years and maybe not ever in the case of kids just learning to read. Different patrons have different needs. The all-digital BiblioTech library in San Antonio is well-done, but it isn’t necessarily right for everyone everywhere.

What’s more, even with library e-books, we’ll still need librarians in brick-and-mortar libraries to encourage people to read them.

Not to mention the many other services that local libraries offer, from story-telling to reference help. In fact, as is made clear by the number of people using in-library services, the BiblioTech is a shining example of the need for brick-and-mortar.

But could the U.S. end up like the U.K.? What might happen if Donald Trump reaches the Oval Office? He and like-minded politicians may or may not be as big a catastrophe for librarydom as their ignorant and corrupt counterparts in the U.K. have been. But in terms of his serving as a role model for pols at all levels, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. For now, here’s the take of some New York library advocates on Trump’s son-in-law and library-related real estate dealings. Fair or unfair linkage with Trump? Let’s see how this plays out if Trump becomes President. Far better that it not. If so, however, and if Trump is as horrible as I worry, maybe Tracey Ullman can come up with a U.S. variant of her parody.

Related: Can we trust the latest UK government library usage figures?, by TeleRead Associate Editor Paul StJohn Mackintosh.

The post ‘Kindle killed the library book’: Tracey Ullman video mocks miserly U.K. pols appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

Print news publishers face ad revenue famine as online models shift [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Minority Report paperA very interesting piece in The Guardian breaks down the problems that Big Media is having with competition from the internet – especially news media. In particular, this stems from the grim results reported at Daily Mail and General Trust PLC, the publisher of the UK Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. leading to a big drop in its share price. Professor of journalism at London City University and sometime Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade promptly concluded that “Suddenly, national newspapers are heading for that print cliff fall.” Over at the Financial Times, John Gapper rounded up all the print newspapers facing similar fates – including The Guardian itself.

DMGT recorded a 13 percent fall in print advertising revenue over a six-month period, and warned of “further deterioration in the print advertising market.” Relatively healthy performance at the Mail Online website, and digital media revenue growth of 24 percent, as reported by the Financial Times, didn’t stave off investor pessimism. DMGT and almost all other print news media in the UK at least – and probably in most other developed markets – now simply cannot lure advertisers back from the far more rewarding social media platforms. According to The Guardian, Google, Facebook, and Twitter between them now have 54 percent of the UK digital ad market by value.

Greenslade duly noted that: “I am in Ireland to address the Irish Press Council’s annual general meeting in a lecture entitled ‘Have newspapers got a future?’ My theme is that they have no future. Declining circulation figures tell us that people are switching week by week from print to screen … the newspaper industry’s business model is wrecked.”

This echoes the comments recently reported in TeleRead from The Guardian, by Justin Smith, head of the Bloomberg publishing unit Bloomberg Media, that established media players were “feeding on the scraps” from Facebook’s own ad business. Newspapers above all don’t seem to be doing the best job of migrating their value proposition online. And our e-reading of news in future may take place on Minority Report-style e-paper broadsheets, but it looks like we’ll be very lucky if those still carry the same mastheads – in e-ink or otherwise.

The post Print news publishers face ad revenue famine as online models shift appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

How can we find the time for pleasure reading? [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

150811_em_kindleKids these days, right?

That seems to be the tack taken by Maaesha Nuzhat Nazmul in a column on The Daily Star as she bemoans the lack of interest in reading for pleasure displayed by the current generation. “Most of the children today are into consoles and movies and every time I think about it, I realise how different my childhood was,” she writes. The problem doesn’t seem to afflict just children, either, but even adults find no time for pleasure reading anymore. Even the Kindle doesn’t seem to be enough to rescue reading, she complains, because “I need to be able to hold the book and carry it around.”

She has a few other uncomplimentary things to say about young adult novels and movies, but that seems to be the gist.  Isn’t it funny how everyone thinks that their own personal experience is universal?

That being said, I don’t find as much time to read for pleasure myself anymore—which you would think I ought to, as many e-readable devices as I have (and unlike Ms. Nazmul, I’m just fine with e-readers as opposed to paper books). So I can sympathize with that part of it, anyway. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be the one to blame for that, though—because when a new book comes out I really want to read, like the latest Liaden Universe novel, or an intriguing-looking “fantasy” series, I can always find the time to cram it in. So maybe it’s a matter of wanting to read somehow.

But what’s the solution to that? “Gamifying” reading with a site like Habitica to “reward” yourself for reading a book? I’m not so sure that would work for me—reading ought to be its own reward. Nonetheless, I’m open to suggestions.

Do you have any good ideas for finding more time or desire to read for pleasure?

The post How can we find the time for pleasure reading? appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

‘Frankenkindle’ adds accessibility support to an ordinary Kindle [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Design News has a brief story and video on the “Frankenkindle,” a Kindle modification that an electrical engineer hacked together to make a Kindle that was easier to use for his sister who has cerebral palsy. It’s actually a story from late 2012, posted as part of a retrospective, and we have featured it briefly before, but it’s worth taking another look anyway.

The project involves a keypad taken from a children’s V.Reader, with large buttons his sister could work easily, connected to a circuit board that triggers scripts when each button is pressed, via a cable into a jailbroken and Launchpad-hacked Kindle’s USB port. The video shows the pages turning rather slowly, but then when you’re reading a whole page at a time, it doesn’t really need to turn very fast.

It’s a clever idea, and looks like it could help a lot of people—not just those with disabilities, but the elderly, too. Assuming those people could find an electrical engineer to put it together for them, anyway. The article includes parts lists, schematics, and instructions for such a person to use. The designer posted several videos of the construction and testing process on YouTube as well.

I wonder whether there might be a market for mass-producing adapted Kindles, perhaps by one of those equipment vendors who sell through the Apple Store’s accessibility section? Anything that helps more people read is definitely a good idea.

It could more useful, from an accessibility point of view, if Amazon were to add Bluetooth to its Kindles (as was briefly expected to happen with the Oasis) so that readers with accessibility issues could use some of the off-the-shelf controllers from that accessibility section to manipulate their Kindles instead of necessitating all that hacking.

The post ‘Frankenkindle’ adds accessibility support to an ordinary Kindle appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

PayPal discontinues its app for Fire, Windows Phone, and Blackberry [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

PayPalPayPal has just announced some important changes to its mobile apps. Starting in June, Android and iOS users will be required to upgrade to version 6.0 of the PayPal app—but from our perspective, the more important thing is that, as of June 30, PayPal will be dropping support altogether for PayPal apps on Amazon Fire, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Users of those platforms will be able to continue using PayPal via the PayPal mobile web site at http://m.paypal.com.

It’s not exactly a surprise that PayPal’s dropping support for the anemic Windows Phone platform. As for Blackberry, the only surprising thing is that PayPal’s kept supporting an app for it for this long. But dropping support for the Fire, in all likelihood the most popular budget-priced tablet, is a bit startling—especially given that the Fire can run almost all plain-vanilla Android apps just fine if there’s a way to install them. (My own Fire, which has the Play Store on it, was able to install PayPal 6.2.2 from Google Play with no difficulty.) Indeed, putting it on the Fire would just be a matter of putting it into Amazon’s app store with no other changes necessary.

But perhaps, given Amazon’s own Amazon Pay platform, PayPal simply doesn’t want to give that degree of support to one of its own close competitors in the online payment field? It seems a fitting theory to me. PayPal knows anyone who depends on it isn’t about to stop using it anyway—they’ll just switch to the mobile web site if they have to. But it might turn some people off of the Fire and onto other platforms where they can keep using a PayPal app.

Meanwhile, Fire die-hards can install Google Play to keep using the Android version, or else use Evozi’s APK Downloader to snag the PayPal app from the Android store and sideload it onto their Fire.

(Found via Science World Report.)

The post PayPal discontinues its app for Fire, Windows Phone, and Blackberry appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

How to send Instapaper articles to your Kindle [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

screenshot_2016_05_31T05_56_07-0400If you use Instapaper to clip interesting articles from the web for later perusal, did you know that you can have your Instapaper article collection sent to your Kindle every day? If you save a lot of articles and would like a way to read them free of LCD eyestrain, this could be just what you need.

First, you need to make sure that your Amazon Send to Kindle settings are configured properly. This involves logging into your Amazon account and making sure your email addresses for each device you use are set up properly. Here are complete instructions for how to do that. Once you finish, keep the Send to Kindle settings tab open and open a new tab for Instapaper, because you’ll need to change one more setting once you set up Instapaper.

In the new tab, go to your Instapaper user settings and scroll about halfway down the page to the section marked “Kindle.” First of all, click in the field beneath “Your Kindle Email Address” and fill in the email address of the Kindle device where you want to send your Instapaper collection. For example, if you set your Kindle Paperwhite to have the email address accountname_pw@kindle.com, you’d fill in “accountname_pw” in the email address field.

If your Kindle has 3G, you may wish to click the “@kindle.com” dropdown and change it to “@free.kindle.com” to make sure you don’t accrue data charges for sending your articles in. Setting it to the “free” subdomain will only transfer the articles when you have a Wi-Fi connection. Of course, if your Kindle doesn’t have 3G, it doesn’t matter either way. Also, if you’re using a Canadian Kindle account, there’s also an option for “@kindle.cn”.

Next, click on the small blue “what’s this?” next to “Your Kindle Email Address” and Instapaper will tell you what email address you need to add to your Amazon account’s Approved Personal Document E-mail List. It will probably look like “kindle.(something)@instapaper.com”, but is personalized to each account. Just copy that address, switch over to the tab with your Amazon account settings in it, and add it to the list as explained in the instruction link above.

Finally, switch back to Instapaper and adjust the settings for Kindle Automatic Delivery how you want them. If you’d prefer just to send your articles along to the Kindle when you choose, leave the box next to “Send my Unread articles to my Kindle automatically” unchecked. You can come back to your user settings screen and hit the “Send Articles Now” button at any time.

In addition to “Send Articles Now,” there’s also a “Get Kindle Bookmarklet” option, which will give you a “Send to Kindle” web browser bookmarklet to allow you to send individual articles to your Kindle. However, this bookmarklet will only work if you subscribe to Instapaper’s $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year Premium service.

But if you’d like to get a daily or weekly email of the articles you thought were worth saving, put a check mark in the box, then adjust the “Delivery Frequency” options below. You can choose to have your ten most recently marked articles (or fifty if you subscribe to Instapaper Premium) dispatched daily or weekly, if the compilation will contain at least 1, 3, 5, or 10 new articles.

Once you’ve got that set up, all you need to do is remember that any articles you send to Instapaper will show up on your Kindle the next day (or week), as long as you send enough of them to hit your minimum new article requirement.  As a reminder, there are several ways to save articles to Instapaper from your web browser, including the Instapaper Chrome Extension and the Save to Instapaper bookmarklet available from Instapaper’s “How to Save” page. You can also send them to Instapaper from various mobile applications as long as you have the Instapaper app installed on your smartphone or tablet.

The post How to send Instapaper articles to your Kindle appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

New U.S. overtime rules threaten Big Publishing junior labor practices [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Last Days of DiscoFor all those of you who didn’t already know that New York publishing houses and Big Publishing in general function like a knockoff script from a Whit Stillman movie, here’s fresh proof from the New York Times. Apparently, publishing houses are first in line among businesses likely to be hit by fresh U.S. government rulings that they pay their junior staff decent overtime rates.

The Obama administration’s Labor Department regulation basically doubles the minimum salary level for staff to be paid time-and-a-half overtime rates for pulling more than a 40-hour working week, kicking in from December 1st. A great many more low-to-medium-wage earners could now be swept up in the overtime net. This could threaten what the NYT describes, delightfully, as the Devil Wears Prada economy of pitifully overworked and ridiculously underpaid assistants and juniors in publishing and magazine houses. The NYT cites Dan Reynolds, CEO of Workman Publishing, on how to get ahead in Noo Yawk publishing: “You want to bump into the boss at 8 o’clock at night.”

It also quotes that lovely character Andrew Wylie saying he wouldn’t consider paying staff overtime if they worked long hours by choice. “What am I supposed to do, sit at the door with a stopwatch? … I’m not going to do that.” An anonymous former Wylie employee, speaking anonymously to the NYT “because of fear of reprisals,” said that Wylie assistants often worked 50-60 hours a week without overtime pay. And for anyone in publishing who has to manage interns, there’s a useful link here – though it could start off with: pay them reasonably…

None of this will come as a surprise in British Big Publishing, already condemned as “disgusting” and “immoral” for refusing to pay staff the official UK Living Wage. The only reasonable conclusion is that Big Publishing doesn’t care if its juniors live or not, so long as they work.

Until the Obama administration stepped in, that is. Who knows, the modern equivalents of Alice and Charlotte, the iconic, miserably compensated, junior readers in Stillman’s “The Last Days of Disco,” might be able to buy their own drinks in future …

The post New U.S. overtime rules threaten Big Publishing junior labor practices appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

Is Barry ready to battle Zoom? Catch up on the latest episode of... [The Flash]

Is Barry ready to battle Zoom? Catch up on the latest episode of The Flash now: on.cwtv.com/FLASH217tb

The Ultimate Argument For #NeverTrump [The FederalistThe Federalist]

I just discovered the ultimate argument for the #NeverTrump stance, and I discovered it by considering the best argument against #NeverTrump.

The argument is this: that no one man can do that much to destroy the American system, because we have such a long history and so many big institutions that keep it alive. As one person put it, we have more than 200 years of constitutional rule behind us, so the faults and vices of one particular personality don’t matter so much. Donald Trump may share some of the traits of Hugo Chavez, but he won’t be an American Chavez because we have the benefit of history and institutions that a country like Venezuela does not have.

The idea is that whatever downside there is to the Trump presidency, it is a merely temporary diversion, no worse than what we’ve suffered under previous presidents, and certainly not something that makes Trump a worse evil than the other major party candidate. Given that the other major party candidate will be Hillary Clinton, that’s a pretty good argument.

But it’s still wrong, and it’s wrong in a way that makes it very clear why #NeverTrump is such an urgent necessity.

To begin with, if we’re relying on our history and institutions, we have to acknowledge that neither is in particularly good shape.

If we look to our political history, particularly when it comes to constitutional limits on government power, we have to ask how many students are still taught any significant portion of that history—even, or especially, at our elite universities. Are these people going to be a bulwark for human liberty? Of course not.

As for the institutions, those were eroded long before Barack Obama came along. The entire apparatus of the modern welfare and regulatory state is deliberately designed to be outside the reach of the people. The largest chunk of the federal budget, the middle-class entitlements, are “mandatory” programs where the money goes out automatically year after year with no need for any special appropriation by Congress. The regulatory state churns along according to the collective will of the permanent bureaucracy, which draws its authority from decades-old statutes that are expanded to fit whatever the bureaucratic Borg wants to do at the moment.

The current president’s only innovation to this is a more expansive use of executive orders to bypass Congress. I have taken some comfort in the fact that much of Obama’s legacy, having been imposed by executive order, can be undone by executive order. But it also means that it can be redone or done differently by executive order, if we get a president who is interested in abusing his power in the opposite direction. That’s precisely what Trump is showing us he’s going to do. As Glenn Beck has been pointing out—and this is such a crazy year that he, of all people, has emerged as a voice of sanity—every time President Obama passes another executive order doing what he wants, Trump thinks: thank you for giving me more power.

So a review of the health our institutions does not support a sense of complacency when it comes to the mind and character of our next president. The bigger and more powerful government becomes, the more individual personalities matter. The less the president is restrained by Congress or the courts, the more we need someone who will restrain himself. But there is one respect in which Trump uniquely makes the situation worse, because the health of our institutions—and of one institution in particular—is precisely what his candidacy calls into question.

History and institutions have power only because people give them their loyalty. And where would you expect to find the highest concentration of people who give America’s unique ideas and institutions their loyalty? Which major political party talks most about liberty, about small government, and about the Constitution? Obviously, it’s the Republican Party. So this is the one major political faction that you would expect to rely on as the bulwark of our system, resisting attempt to undermine it.

Trump just knocked it over in six months. So any sense of complacency about the role of our history and institutions is totally misplaced.

For years, I’ve been very sympathetic to the idea of identifying myself as an advocate of limited government but not as “a Republican,” as a way of emphasizing that my loyalty is to ideas and not to a political party. But I’m starting to think we won’t realize how much we’re going to miss the Republican Party until it is gone. We’ve taken for granted that there will always be a party which, however imperfectly it lives up to its ideals, still regards the preservation of liberty and the Constitution as an indispensible part of its agenda and its very identity.

As such, the Republican Party has actually been a central institution in the preservation of our liberty. We always need to have at least one major party that takes this as its mission. Without that, the republic is doomed, because there will be no major political faction that views the defense of our system as part of its basic mandate. And if that happens, politics just becomes a raw scramble for power, with each party looking to loot the country on behalf of its base of supporters. Which is precisely what Trumpism amounts to.

That is what’s terrifying and what needs to be resisted.

This goes beyond the  Hamilton Rule, Alexander Hamilton’s dictum that, “If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.” This is not just about resisting one bad candidate. It’s about preserving the ideological soul of the institution he is attempting to seize as a vehicle for his rise to power.

America’s history and its institutions are precisely what is at stake in this election. Our most urgent necessity is to save the Republican Party as the party of limited government and constitutionalism—or to replace it. Trump is destructive of either goal, which is the most important reason to say #NeverTrump.

Follow Robert on Twitter.

If A Gorilla Attacks A Child, Shoot The Gorilla Every Time [The FederalistThe Federalist]

It’s really difficult to watch the video footage of a gorilla dragging a child through knee-deep water at the Cincinnati zoo. As a mom, it makes me feel like having a heart attack.

An emergency zoo response team shot the gorilla once they arrived on the scene. The response from some? Rage at the child’s mother for her “poor parenting” and at the zoo for killing the 450-pound male gorilla, named Harambe. No, seriously:

Already, there is a petition calling for #JusticeForHarambe over on Change.org that has more than 144,000 signatures at the time of publishing this article. The petition specifically calls for the parents of the 4-year-old boy who fell over the barrier into the exhibit to be held accountable for Harambe’s death.

‘We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life,’ the petition reads. ‘We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation.’ …

The petition has been up for less than 48 hours, and a Facebook group, also called Justice for Harambe, currently has more than 56,000 members.

These people are holding a vigil for the gorilla. Not ironically. Apparently this tweet isn’t ironic, either.

In a statement, park director Thane Maynard explained why the response team shot the gorilla instead of tranquilizing him: “tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.” The child’s mother said he suffered a concussion and scrapes from his encounter with the animal, who had not obeyed keepers’ commands to retreat to his cage, as the other gorillas had, when the child fell into his moat. God knows what else could have happened had the gorilla been enraged by a tranquilizer dart or approached by more people.

People Are More Important than Animals

It’s easier to understand why a sizeable number of people could watch those videos and conclude that zookeepers could somehow have fanagled the little boy away from the gorilla without having to kill him if you know that a third of Americans, up from a quarter of Americans in 2008, think animals “should have the same rights as people.” Barna research has also shown that growing numbers of people think animals and humans are morally equivalent.

Well, we’re not. Even though this is slipping away, most Americans still call themselves Christians. That religion teaches that human beings are above animals in value (although Christianity also inverts the conventional understanding of power, so that those who have more are bound to use it to serve and uplift; which in this case means people have a responsibility to use their higher status and abilities to serve and care for all creation) because we, not they, are made in God’s image. Even if you want to go from an evolutionary, might-makes-right perspective, human beings have over many centuries developed these tools called guns, and we use them for self-defense and species defense. If a gorilla is dragging around a little boy, you shoot the gorilla.

The Cincinnati Zoo made the right decision, and they should be commended for acting quickly to save a child’s life. All the sorts of people who refuse to eat from plastic containers that contain BPA, which has a far more tenuous connection to harming people than does facing a giant angry gorilla, should be stampeding the zoo with donations and social media acclaim.

They should also realize that zoos kill their own animals regularly just to keep genetic lines healthy, so while of course it’s unfortunate that an animal had to die Saturday, the truth is that life is full of tragedy, no matter how much we would rather delude ourselves than acknowledge this. We cannot always get a happy ending. Sometimes life presents difficult choices that involve tradeoffs, and sometimes those tradeoffs can be things like “Do we unleash nukes on Japan or pursue yet another land war among a population in which civilians will sell their lives dearly and many more on both sides are likely to die?” Luckily, the tradeoff in the Harambe situation wasn’t that big. Even more luckily, one of these creatures was able to walk away from this encounter alive.

Neither Parents Nor Government Can Control Everything

The other complaint is against the child’s mother. Ominously, some on social media are calling for the state to investigate the child’s parents because he once was able to slip away while at a zoo. Have these people ever been to a zoo? Because it’s obvious they’ve never had children.

I take my kids to our local zoo frequently during the summer. It’s a madhouse. Even on slow days it’s rather like visiting a theme park. There are people and sights and smells and activities everywhere, and the exhibits and configurations are constantly changing, so even if you’re a regular it’s an absolute sensory overload. Not to mention often hot, which makes for whinier, even more distractable kids. While you’re getting one a drink of water, even if it takes ten seconds, that’s long enough for his brother to punt a peacock. Not that mine have ever done that (the peacocks don’t let them get close enough).

If mom is rummaging in her bag to get a snack, even briefly, that is definitely long enough for a four-year-old to climb a three-foot fence and dart into a gorilla moat. If you don’t believe it, you don’t have enough experience with kids. Just think about what a difficult time you can have controlling yourself, and you’re an adult. Do you always pass up that second slice of cake? Have you never texted while driving, or driven exhausted? Yep, I thought so. Now expand your id by a factor of ten and reduce your years of practice with impulse control and cognitive ability to think about consequences of actions, which doesn’t fully mature until a person’s early twenties. And you get a four-year-old climbing into the gorilla cage.

I’m not saying the mother is not at least partially at fault here. Maybe she was staring at her phone. Maybe she was high. We don’t know. But we also don’t know enough to accuse her of negligence and send government agents into her home to investigate her parenting–unless we’re also about to send government agents into your home to raid the freezer and put you on a mandatory eating plan because you keep eating too much ice cream.

So we can demand that parents literally keep a hand on their child’s collar at all times until he’s 22, or we can stop being idiots and recognize that horrible accidents happen no matter how conscientious the parents or zoo. True story: Right as I was finishing this post, my toddler woke up, walked downstairs, and knocked a cup of water onto my keyboard. Thank goodness there were no gorillas nearby (although I nearly turned into one that second).

Want a Village? Be the Village

We can also realize that what parents need far more than they need finger-pointing is for community to step in and voluntarily assist in protecting kids from themselves. What were bystanders doing when a child climbed into the monkey cage? How is it that dozens of people were on hand to video a monkey thrashing a child, but dozens were not available to grab a kid’s arm as he vaulted a fence?

How is it that dozens of people were on hand to video a monkey thrashing a child, but dozens were not available to grab a kid’s arm as he vaulted a fence?

All the smug little finger-pointers thrashing this mom on social media should turn their fingers around for a second and realize that they can be a fabulous volunteer Child Protective Services that is actually on hand in times of need rather than giving what may be a perfectly good mother a lifelong nightmare and a criminal record, far after the point when intervention would have prevented a dangerous situation, all for looking in her purse at the wrong second.

If a little kid is vaulting the fence next to you at the zoo, grab that lil’ monkey’s arm. Look at him and say, “Hey! That’s not where you belong.” I’ve done it many times–pulled little stranger kids out of the path of cars in a parking lot, comforted strange little kids who were bawling their eyes out on the playground. Know why? Because I’m grateful when people do the same for me, and I’m paying it forward. If more people functioned as the voluntary village to help parents protect their kids, like good neighbors do, we would have far less demand for a coercive surveillance state.

Really, what people like this are demanding is that government do the job they should be doing. And they’re proud of themselves for shirking their duty to serve their community in ways big and small, because to them it’s just as noble to call for someone else to do something as it is to actually do that thing themselves. Well, they’re wrong. It’s shameful. Do-nothing hashtag activism is the lazy coward’s way of life. Virtue signaling is no substitute for virtue. Had the Cincinnati Zoo hosted people with more courage and presence of mind than speed at whipping out their iPhones, maybe Harambe wouldn’t have had to die because that little boy would never have reached his lair.

Radio on Katie Couric, Feminist Ghostbusters, and The National Spelling Bee [The FederalistThe Federalist]

Mollie Hemingway and David Harsanyi, senior editors at The Federalist, discussed documentary making in light of last week’s backlash against Katie Couric’s deceptive editing in her documentary on gun control.

“There’s really no debate about whether the Couric documentary was deceptive,” Hemingway said. “Once the perpetrator has admitted to the crime, you don’t really need to keep on saying ‘alleged.'”

Harsanyi and Hemingway discuss the upcoming “Ghostbusters” remake and Sony’s attempt to save it from tanking. “I hate that politics and identity politics are attached to almost everything these days,” Harsanyi said. “I just want to see funny movies.”

The year’s National Spelling Bee ended in a tie for the third consecutive year. “I am totally opposed to the idea of co-champions. I think it’s un-American,” Hemingway said. “So much about life right now…you get a participation trophy, you get accolades regardless of whether you deserve them or not. But a spelling bee is a really nice contest of skill and I’m glad that our country still celebrates it.”

Listen now:

The LGBT Movement Will Self-Destruct [The FederalistThe Federalist]

I was just six years old when it happened. I showed up for the first grade, fresh-faced and ready to learn, only to have my innocence shattered by a monster from the swamps of expressive individualism. In the dark recesses of my memory, he has remained nameless through all these decades. Some Google searches enabled me to find him: inventive spelling.

Apparently, “inventive spelling” has been controversial for some time as a component of “natural child” educational curricula. I’m not sure how I, a young Idahoan, came to be subjected to it, but I clearly remember being encouraged to decide whether I was a “girl,” “gurl,” or “grrrrrl.” Hooray for creativity! Why shackle yourself to the tyrannical dictates of conventional spelling?

This theory seems to have fizzled in most schools, possibly because it’s idiotic. Words have conventional spellings for a reason: their purpose is to communicate. If we encourage kids to form bad habits, it will be that much harder for them to become capable writers later. This theory’s heyday was evidently brief, but still, it left its mark. My classmates and I can thank our lucky stars that by the time we got to college, spell checkers had come along to cover our shame.

Bad ideas do die, eventually. At their peak this can be hard to believe. Whether it’s Malthusian population controls, global temperature freak-outs, low-fat diets, or disco, it often seems that idiocy seems unassailable until suddenly it isn’t. A page turns, and the emperor has no clothes, as his folly becomes a cautionary tale for future generations.

Here is my prediction. Within my lifetime, the LGBT movement will die. It will be remembered not as a Selma moment, but as a Salem moment: a period of collective insanity.

Eventually, Nature Comes Roaring Back

Whether the memory of this period evokes mild derision or deep shame will likely depend on these next few years. It’s still possible that the madness might recede and leave gays, lesbians, and religious conservatives all free to live peaceful and productive lives, knowing their fundamental rights will be respected even where their beliefs and lifestyle choices aren’t. Less optimistically, the early twenty-first century could be remembered as a time when any or all of those groups were harshly persecuted, potentially leaving deep scars in our social memory.

Either way, the movement will die. How do we know? Predicting the demise of the LGBT movement may seem rash in the present moment, as North Carolina prepares to battle the U.S. Department of Justice and Washington issues edicts demanding submission from every public school in America. But gender ideology is too incoherent and too inimical to real human good. It cannot outlast the moral indignation of the present hour.

On some level, even its most ardent advocates may intuit this. Their desperation to push the boundaries as far as possible, as quickly as possible, may evidence the zeal of the terminally ill. Everything must be done today, because there is no tomorrow.

This is not an invitation to relax. Foolish ideas do eventually self-destruct, but they can do a lot of damage along the way. We also should not assume that the eventual collapse will precipitate a widespread resurgence of common sense. The evil fruits of the Sexual Revolution will likely plague us for the foreseeable future, potentially assuming a whole range of dystopian forms.

Still, we can worry more productively about the next chapter when we recognize that this one will pass. The gender ideologies of the present moment just don’t have what it takes to stand the test of time.

Powerful Parents Reject Harmful Ideas

If this seems implausible, consider that the past half-century really has not been a tale of near-unbroken moral decline. Some changes (like the introduction of artificial contraceptives and the embrace of no-fault divorce) seem here to stay. Other bad ideas, like open marriage, proved so unworkable that they were largely rejected. We have also seen particular problems mitigated through a concerted social response, as when Americans overwhelmingly agreed they didn’t want unmarried teenagers getting pregnant.

Historical trends would suggest that society’s wealthier and better-educated tend to reject life patterns quickly when it becomes clear they beget widespread misery and dysfunction. That’s one reason marriage took a hit in the ’70s and early ’80s, but then started to recover among more educated Americans. Once it was obvious that promiscuity and chaotic family structures were harmful to all concerned, people with resources took steps to correct the problem for their own and their offspring’s sakes.

For all its legal victories, gender warriors have little to show for themselves with respect to the most significant of milestones. They have yet to demonstrate that their ideology can provide a foundation for stable, thriving sub-cultures of the sort that can endure. Enormous energy has been poured into preventing skeptics from asking the relevant questions, but that kind of subterfuge can only last for so long.

The evidence we have looks bad. A few years after Facebook gave us our 50 genders, young people flounder to explain why a short white man isn’t a tall Asian woman. We can only imagine how much worse this will be ten years from now if children nationwide are aggressively drafted into the transgendered social engineering experiment.

Same-sex coupling has been socially acceptable in mainstream society for a number of years now, but insofar as it is normalized, it’s the sort of normalization that involves coming to acknowledge that it’s really very different from traditional marriage. (That, of course, is problematic insofar as social research still resoundingly affirms that stable two-parent households are the healthiest place for kids.) Victims keep emerging from the wreckage of libertine sub-cultures. It becomes increasingly obvious, as well, that children are at far greater risk in a culture that is unwilling to encourage almost any kind of sexual restraint.

Ideas have consequences, and gender ideologues are only beginning to grapple with the fruits of theirs. Political correctness can be powerful, but people are not endlessly willing to sacrifice themselves and their loved ones to its more ruinous offerings. Lacking the wherewithal to create a healthy culture, the LGBT movement will dwindle and die.

What to Do in the Meantime

What shall we do in the meantime? My suggestions are threefold.

First, we need to take steps to protect our own children. Engaging the broader culture is important, but that task belongs to grown-ups, not six-year-olds. We must build and preserve communities in which morally important truths can be instilled at least in our own offspring. Within our communities and homes, we must shield our kids from the blight of pornography and a hyper-sexualized media, and more literally, from the sexual predators that predictably emerge when a society celebrates sexuality as a primary form of creative self-expression. Sexual appetite, once unleashed, will not consistently check itself at precisely the point when pious liberals become offended. Children will continue to be victimized. Protect yours.

Sexual appetite, once unleashed, will not consistently check itself at precisely the point when pious liberals become offended.

Next, we must continue to engage our compatriots in civil discourse concerning the body, sex, marriage, and parenting. Encourage responsible sociological research on the dynamics of non-traditional relationships and families. Keep explaining again and again that traditional sexual morality is not a rejection of persons but of behaviors that are inimical to real human good. As the dysfunction of various alternative lifestyles becomes more evident, that argument may become more plausible. In the meanwhile, we should do what we can to hold up our sub-cultures as beacons for those who are looking for alternatives to libertinism.

As the LGBT fervor starts to ebb, we should be particularly solicitous to the needs of America’s poor. We’ve seen already that privileged liberals tend to adapt their lifestyles to new data while continuing to mouth the politically correct pieties of yester-year. No one likes to be seen as the stodgy moralist, but this hypocrisy shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Poor children deserve stability just as much as wealthy ones, and we should stand ready to object if our cultural elites start adjusting their habits without changing their memes.

Perhaps the most important thing is to avoid despair. It’s difficult when our culture seems to keep finding new lows on almost a daily basis. Still, when the wheels start coming off completely, it’s worth remembering that a wheel-less vehicle is no longer able to drive. That might factor into our calculations if the vehicle in question is a critical part of our opponents’ vanguard.

Future generations are sure to ask: how could the gender revolution ever have reached such absurdities? I intend to see that day.

The Fight Against Islamism Is The New Cold War [The FederalistThe Federalist]

Even today, with the West and Russia edging closer to outright conflict, there’s a simple nostalgia for the Cold War era, when conflict was easier to visualize and manage than it is now. Instead of today’s hellbroth of terror groups, failed states, and warring militias, we faced a single, unified foe, an iron curtain drawn across the middle of the world to cleanly demarcate where we ended and they began.

2016 is the year—as the truth comes out about how last year’s Paris attacks could have happened—that this strangely comforting Cold War myth should die. As the latest revelations about those attacks confirm, today’s world bears much more of a resemblance to the world of the Cold War than we might wish to think—and, somehow, the West must respond accordingly.

History confirms the comparison. Think back. The geopolitically bipolar structure of the Cold War world was just one feature of the threat matrix the West faced. As conventional armies and nuclear arsenals squared off against one another, seeds of the unconventional warfare that bedevils us today had already begun to sprout. Beyond the third-world proxy conflicts and arms shipments that defined the age, the Cold War saw the beginnings of state-sponsored terrorism and infiltration as we know them today.

This Time, It’s Not Different

Many may want to cling to the “clean” Cold War myth for its own sake. But the myth also shores up the entrancing idea that the matrix of conflict jihadist Islam and its allies pose today does not rise to threat level when militant communism straddled the globe.

Circumstantial evidence has suggested to our impressionable minds that it’s different this time. After all, “nobody” really thinks absolutist Islam is a genuine intellectual and emotional competitor to Western life. To be sure, some of the West’s losers and rejects have found themselves in the arms of the Islamic State, or loosely associated with foes who appreciate, if not aid and abet, jihadist gains against the United States and Europe.

But at the height of the Cold War, a host of respectable Westerners believed communism might actually be right and capitalism wrong—whether at the level of ideology or sheer practicality. Because absolutist Islam is so alien and particular, relative to the grand yet familiar abstractions Marx ushered in, we’re apt to think the jihadists and their allies may be able to attack our people and our systems, but they cannot really defeat our civilization.

It’s easy to think this way because we’re so resistant to the prospect of another existential threat to our civilization. It doesn’t just strike people as reasonable that terror attacks won’t rise to the level of catastrophe promised by a strategic nuclear exchange. It strikes them as emotionally correct or necessary—not just because it’s easier to live in a world where a few major cities might be destroyed and not all human life on earth, but because so few people really believe we could actually win a world war against the jihadists and their allies.

If the Soviet Union seemed prohibitively difficult to defeat, at least there was a plan and enough willingness in the West to execute it. Today, it’s psychologically unacceptable for many people to imagine that we’re at acute risk of civilizational defeat yet lack a viable, acceptable blueprint to avoid that fate.

Subterfuge May Be More Effective Than Instant Destruction

Well, it’s time for a wake-up call—even though the head check we need raises the risk that fear and recklessness will increase as a result. As the emerging truth about the Paris attacks shows, the parallels are clear between the “dirty” truth about the Cold War and the dark reality of the state of play in our conflict with international jihadists and their allies. The nexus of state-sponsored terror, subversion, and infiltration established during the Cold War has been reactivated, threatening not just Western people or Western systems but Western civilization itself. We can argue over whether this threat is “existential” or not. Most significant is that it really is a civilization being targeted, on top of people and systems.

Let’s be clear about what this means. In theory, terror, subversion, and infiltration could destroy Western civilization by carrying off a kind of coup on the communist model: you wake up one day and a revolutionary vanguard has seized state power and the means of production. However nightmarish, that’s not the kind of attack on Western civilization we should focus on.

More plausible, more efficient, and more effective is an attack with more limited and devious aims. Much as a Russian spy might opt against killing a victim outright, choosing instead to administer a debilitating but nonlethal dose of poison, jihadists and their allies are now well-positioned to cripple Western civilization, inflicting harm without provoking a true world war the West would eventually win.

This is the lesson we are only now able to learn from Paris. France, in a jihadist proof of concept, is now on the verge of becoming a garrison state. Officials have been reduced to monitoring airport and public transit workers for signs of jihadist activity—or mere sympathy. The French head of intelligence, Patrick Calvar, admitted to Parliament that he expected “a new form of attack” from the Islamic State, “characterized by placing explosive devices in places where there are large crowds and repeating this type of action to create a climate of maximum panic.”

What is new here is not terrorism’s fear factor. Rather, it is the active and passive paralysis that comes from a judgment that one’s society is so badly compromised from the inside that one’s civilization—one’s rights, freedoms, pleasures, celebrations, and moral values—is now inoperable.

The Paris Attacks Were More Sophisticated Than We’d Thought

Thanks to Paris, just that kind of judgment is in danger of being formed. That attack, like any attacks to follow, was about far more than the Islamic State. Rather than a ragtag band of psychotic losers engaged in random bloodshed, a growing body of evidence now suggests that the Paris attacks were driven by a Cold War-style project that united subversion, infiltration, and terror into a single plan of attack.

Doubtless, ragtag losers linked to ISIS served as the tip of the spear. But the profile of the attack’s logistician, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, runs curiously counter to that of a true mastermind or true jihadist, who’d have shown more brains and more of a willingness to martyr himself—especially given, as Abdeslam was, more than one perfect opportunity.

Yet the Paris attackers carried out a plan crafted at a level of sophistication that raises serious and immediate questions, complete with strict communications security and explosives too dangerous and delicate to be wired by amateurs. In a pattern last exposed so dramatically during Algeria’s struggle with Islamism in the ‘90s, the Paris attack shows hallmarks of involvement by a foreign intelligence agency.

“Who might have stood behind the Paris attacks has been the subject of extensive speculation in Western intelligence circles since last November,” one former National Security Ageny counterintelligence expert recently noted. “We need answers to these complex and messy questions, but nobody publicly wants to ask them.”

The Paris attack shows hallmarks of involvement by a foreign intelligence agency.

Nobody, perhaps, but those with the most to say and the least to lose. In an interview with Gavin McInnes published at old-school paleocon Taki Theodoracopoulos’s eponymous online magazine, Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes made a series of superficially astonishing claims about what really happened when his Bataclan concert was turned into a slaughter.

“There’s no denying the terrorists were already inside, and they had to get in somehow,” he said. “During the shooting I went outside and the backstage door was propped open. How did that happen?” “There were two girls who were involved,” Hughes added. “They were at the venue and vanished before the shooting, and these women were in traditional Muslim garb.”

Jihadis May Not Be Working Alone

In a quip assured to trigger some skepticism, Hughes claimed he saw “Muslims celebrating in the street during the attack. I saw it with my own eyes. In real time! How did they know what was going on? There must have been coordination.” Shortly after the Paris attack, however, I was quietly told the same by a well-connected North African: an operation like that, the individual explained, simply could not be conducted without sympathizers and accomplices on the inside.

An operation like that simply could not be conducted without sympathizers and accomplices on the inside.

Although there is no smoking gun linking a foreign government or organization to the Paris attacks, there is a prima facie case that some were involved, most likely utilizing the triad of subversion, infiltration, and terrorism that gave the Cold War its truly dirty and messy character. What’s more, it’s easy to hazard an educated guess about who the attacks’ putative foreign operators might be. You’d be hard-pressed, for instance, to find an outside organization with the requisite motives and capabilities if you ruled out Hezbollah. From there, it’s not unreasonable to imagine connecting a line of complicity to individuals within one of Hezbollah’s favorite foreign governments.

There is no question that this kind of theorizing can get out of hand—not just due to human beings’ love for a gripping story, but because (let’s face it) most people are required to make sense of today’s world without ever getting to learn the most crucial information. Still, what we can glimpse of that information is pointing good analysts toward a view of today’s deepening world conflict that’s starkly reminiscent of the Cold War at its most shadowy and lethal. “Existential” or no, the threat posed to Western civilization is real, and the time to adopt a workable plan to confront that threat is growing short.

AR-15 Inventor Says HBO Grossly Distorted His Views On Guns [The FederalistThe Federalist]

The anti-gun HBO sports interview misrepresented much of what I had said. They were apparently trying to make the AR-15 civilian model seem too dangerous for civilian sales. They didn’t lie about what I said, they just omitted key parts, which changed the meaning.

The examples I most object to are: 1) When I appear to say that the civilian-model AR-15 is just as effective or deadly as the military M16, they omitted that I had said “When firing semi-auto only” and that “the select fire M16 on full auto is of course more effective”; and 2) the interviewer pretended not to understand the relevance that, due to the Hague Convention, military bullets cannot be expanding hollow points like hunting bullets that give up all of their energy in the target body instead of passing through with minimum wound effect, with most of the energy still in the bullet and wasted.

Instead we (Armalite) went the small-caliber, high-velocity route and gave the bullet the right twist of 1:14 to be stable in air but unstable in tissue, where it tumbled and gave up all of its energy in a few inches and complied with Hague. This gave us a small cartridge that was half the size, weight, and recoil of a 7.62 NATO so the soldier could carry twice the ammo, fire controllable full auto, and be far more deadly out to 300 yards, the three characteristics that determine military rifle cartridge effect.

But 5.56 can’t complete with hunting cartridge bullets, which can legally be expanding hollow point that are more lethal than tumbling. Their lethality is based entirely on how powerful they are. 5.56 is only half as powerful as the 7.62 NATO (.308) hunting bullet. That doesn’t mean I’m not pleased to see AR-15s sell on the civilian market. It just means I didn’t realize they would 57 years ago. And I’m not on the wrong side of any gun issue unless someone wants to argue that an infantry rifle cartridge should kill a cavalry horse at 1,000 yards (30-06 criteria).

Trump Has A Binder Full Of Abused Women To Throw At Hillary Clinton [The FederalistThe Federalist]

Donald Trump has become more vocal about Bill Clinton’s sex scandals and has brazenly chastised Hillary for enabling Bill’s behavior, affirming that he is “fair game” on the campaign trail. One of his most recent jabs was a video of Bill Clinton’s accusers juxtaposed with the former president and the White House.

Is Hillary really protecting women?

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

This was not the first time Trump fired shots across the campaign bow toward the Clintons. In early 2016 he said the same thing after he was called out by Hillary for making supposedly sexist comments on her 2008 bid for president, stating she got “schlonged” in the primaries. Hillary’s rival, Bernie Sanders, called her and Bill’s pasts a “non-issue” (keep that in the back of your mind for now). The Sunday political talk shows did not seem to think so, however. They did not just talk about the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal; they also talked about sexual assault allegations several women made against Bill while he was president.

Trump emerged from the news cycle unscathed. While reporters and talking heads tried to figure out what Trump meant by “schlonged,” the issue of Trump’s supposed sexism virtually evaporated in a matter of days, much to the chagrin of the same network pundits who wanted a sex politics cage match between Hillary and Trump.

Now they may have that chance.

Speaking on the Clintons in 2007 while running for the presidency, John Edwards stated: “The trouble with nostalgia is that you tend to remember what you liked and forget what you didn’t.” One can argue the nostalgia of the Clintons could be attributed to the end of the Cold War, the onset of the Internet, and the myth of the Clinton surplus. Naturally, the Lewinsky scandal was a black mark on Bill Clinton’s public career. While part of the issue was he committed adultery with a White House intern, another major aspect of the scandal that many Clinton surrogates gloss over is that he lied under oath about it. He even insisted to the United States of America on national television that he “did not have sexual relations” with Lewinsky.

Keep in mind that the Clintons went so far to discredit her. Contradicting sworn Senate testimony, Sydney Blumenthal, a top Clinton aide, stated that Lewinsky had obsessively stalked President Clinton.

Sydney Blumenthal? That name is familiar.

Anyway, at the time there were questions about other instances of misconduct Bill Clinton allegedly committed toward other women; misconduct involving unsolicited encounters that happened prior to and during his presidency. Unfortunately, between the mainstream media and the Clintons, their voices would not be heard far and wide. One can certainly argue the Clintons share a zeal for power. The “Clinton Political Machine” isn’t named as such for nothing. If maintaining that power means silencing Bill Clinton’s accusers, many would not put it past either Bill or Hillary.

Let’s Go Back to 1992

Let’s wind the clock back to 1992. During the presidential elections, the Clintons were interviewed on “60 Minutes” regarding Bill’s then-affair with model and actress Gennifer Flowers. In the interview, Hillary famously stated, “I’m not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him.” Bill Clinton would later admit under oath in 1998 that Flowers was his mistress and that an affair did in fact occur.

So why is this 1992 interview important? It speaks to what you’re about to read next. While there were several instances of alleged sexual assault on multiple women by Bill Clinton, I want to talk about one of those instances. Even though his accusers allege they have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by Hillary Clinton, this instance in particular has a rather disturbing backstory involving the then-first lady.

Kathleen Willey was a Clinton supporter and White House volunteer who alleges that President Clinton sexually assaulted her in his study in 1993. A loyal Democrat, Willey states she knew about the rumors concerning the president and his womanizing but did not allow herself to believe they were true. Before she was to set to testify in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, Willey claims she was a victim of intimidation and harassment by private investigators. Pets would go missing, including a cat that wound up dead on her property. Her car was broken into and her home was vandalized. She states she was in fear for her life, and still is to this day.

So can this story be corroborated? Dick Morris, a former Clinton aide, claims he left the White House once he learned about Hillary hiring private investigators to go after the women accusing the president of sexual improprieties. An eyewitness backs up Morris’s claims. Jared Stern, a former intelligence operative and Marine, told congressional investigators he was hired by the Hillary (via proxy) to “investigate” Willey.

While the details of that particular “investigation” are unknown, Stern states he was so uncomfortable with what he was tasked to do that he contacted Willey anonymously and informed her that there were people out to get her. In the documentary “Hillary Clinton: the Movie,” Stern asserts that what happened with Willey was not an anomaly: “That M.O. can be seen throughout the Clinton’s political lives; it is consistent.”

By the way, does any of this sound like something out of “House of Cards?”

The Rape Scandal the Media Won’t Talk About

You are not going to see any sort of substantive articles from The Daily Kos, Jezebel, or any of the other left-leaning mainstream media so much as touch this issue from the perspective of the fight against rape culture. I’m pessimistic that Barack Obama, Sanders, and many other liberal politicians who claim to stand for women will speak out. As Hillary supporter Madeleine Albright boldly stated, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Don’t even expect to hear about it from left-wing darling Jon Oliver on “Last Week Tonight.” You won’t even hear it from Hollywood celebrities like Lady Gaga, who recently endorsed Hillary via Twitter. The mainstream media will gladly talk about the “Republican War on Women” but you will never, ever hear them talk about the women who allege being raped by Bill Clinton and harassed by his wife.

They will all talk about that mythical surplus, however. But that’s neither here nor there. I say shame on her surrogates for supporting a person who enabled Bill Clinton’s behavior. And shame on them for claiming to champion women’s rights with straight faces.

Regardless of what you may think about Trump, bringing up the Clintons’ past is a masterful move as November gets closer and closer. The more he discusses it, the more the media will likely talk about it, since they already hang on his every word. I hope Hillary will be pushed into a corner sooner or later on this issue, because the myth that someone like her is somehow the champion of American women is just that—a myth.

Why You Should Stop Using The Word ‘Gender’ [The FederalistThe Federalist]

Let’s stop polluting our language with the word “gender.” Corruption of the English language was Point A on the road to President Obama’s directive to de-privatize and de-sex all school restrooms nationwide. The ploy that got us all into the lazy habit of using the empty term “gender” in place of the accurate word “sex” has its roots in gender ideology, which cultural Marxists pushed for many decades. Since cultural Marxism is nothing but nihilism, it shouldn’t surprise us that “gender” can mean whatever you want or don’t want it to mean. In other words, there’s no there there.

George Orwell’s classic 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” discusses how easily language can be a tool of political manipulation. Here’s a great excerpt that I think shows us how we got to today’s state of confusion:

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.

Don’t you love Orwell’s positive note here, that the process is reversible? If we inject proper usage back into the language, the habit can catch on, and our thoughts can become clearer.

Orwell continues: “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration.” Let’s hear it for political regeneration!

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.

A lot of us who do know better—including yours truly—have fallen into the silly habit of substituting the weaponized word “gender” for the precise word “sex.” Now there’s hell to pay, since it’s infecting all manner of legislation and legal documents—all in the name of “equality,” another term that’s become equal to nothing.

Let’s recall that the most accurate usage of the term “gender” is strictly grammatical, as when referring to noun and adjective declensions in foreign languages that assign gender to its words. Yes, yes, I know the dictionary has assigned new and “richer” meanings to the term “gender,” having to do with society, culture, and identity. This is totally political. Dictionaries have been turned into political minefields by activists in this war on mind and body. We should all be able to see through this by now.

How Money Replaced ‘Sex’ with ‘Gender’

Apparently, the substitution of the word “sex” with the vague word “gender” was the hobbyhorse of John Money back in the 1950s. Money was the corrupt sexologist who is most notorious for utterly ruining the life of David Reimer by talking his parents into raising David as a girl after a botched circumcision left him without a penis. Money drooled at the chance to experiment on little David because David happened to have an identical twin brother who could serve as a control for Money’s little inquest. In the 1970s, feminists took off with Money’s new lexicon, and we’ve been sloppily repeating the word “gender” ever since.

“Gender” doesn’t mean anything concrete when applied to human identity because “gender identity” is all about a state of mind that’s not rooted in any objective reality. Sex, on the other hand, is quite definitely rooted in physical reality. Yet when “sex” makes an appearance in “gender identity non-discrimination laws,” it is masked as something that doesn’t exist in reality. A standard definition of “gender” is that it means someone’s perception of self (as male, female, both, or neither) “whether or not it aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.” Part of the premise of transgender law is to get you to believe that your sex was erroneously—and even maliciously—“assigned” to you at birth.

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction has signed on to that canard. It forces onto us a fraudulent premise that denies the reality of our own physical bodies. Ten Republican U.S. senators even signed on to this ridiculously false premise back in 2013. Neat trick, no? We now have hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide with laws that de-sex us. They essentially tell us that biological sex is not something any of us are, but something we have. Or don’t have.

In the past we recognized sex at birth or identified sex at birth. (Today we can identify it well before birth.) But now—voila!—our laws say sex is assigned to us at birth. How insane is that?

To be human is to be male or female. To be human is to be the living, breathing union of one male and one female. No exceptions. This is the case whether you are male or female or intersex, and, yes, even if you identify as transgender. Furthermore, our sex is not a body part. It is inscribed into the DNA of every cell in our bodies.

Denying the reality of one’s biological sex is, in a real sense, a denial of one’s whole body and mind. As society and its laws cover up these facts, we stray closer to a society that can decline to recognize the full humanity of any human being. This is not a good place to be. Not for anybody, including the LGBT folks who are being used as pawns to commit this virtual crime against humanity.

So what happens if we replace in our laws a concrete word like “sex” with an abstraction like “gender”? Can sex distinctions still legally exist?

The Flesh Made Word

British philosopher Daniel Moody recently published a slim volume that analyzes some of the linguistic sorcery that has muddled so much thinking about human reality today. Language, he notes, is our interpreter between the realm of reality and the realm of law. So when words in law no longer point to reality, we end up living under false law. In his work, titled “The Flesh Made Word,” Moody boldly explores how the invention of “gender” necessitates ejecting physical sex from man-made law.

We are not being governed by a law that reflects reality, even though we may think we are.

The book is a wild ride through the looking glass of what Moody might call “gender-land,” a place where anti-reality and nothingness replaces what we’ve heretofore always known to be real. Instead of recognizing our bodies, the law grants us “permission to haunt our bodies.” Moody asks, “What would happen if we were to house inside legality an idea which contradicted reality with regard to the nature of the human body?” Would our bodies even exist in the eyes of this false law?

Our bodies in transgender law are represented by words that do not point to any realities about our wholeness as human beings. That’s because “sex and gender are as far apart conceptually as is possible,” according to Moody. “Sex and gender are linked only by the thin threads of language and the human mind. Like an atomic bomb vaporizing bodies and leaving only shadows.”

In this sense, we are not being governed by a law that reflects reality, even though we may think we are. Instead, we are living under false law that only allows the word “gender”—which signifies the absence of our physical sex—to define us.

In this sense, transgender law makes us legally invisible: “Man has been ejected from man-made law.” Indeed, to neuter everybody legally—which is what transgender law does—is to disregard the wholeness of every human being, to disregard each human’s origins. Moody’s assessment investigates just how such a linguistic time bomb operates.

Lexical Tips For Sanity

Social engineers’ language manipulation is always intentional from the outset. In this case, it was intended to muddle our thinking so “gender” would “borrow” from reality without being at all attached to it.

The goals for those who wish to re-anchor to the world of reality are: stand firm, attach language to reality, and reject anti-reality.

So the goals for those who wish to re-anchor to the world of reality are: stand firm, attach language to reality, and reject anti-reality—and to do so with good cheer, without any intent to offend. Herein follow some modest suggestions to help reclaim the language.

DO use the word “sex” in place of the slippery term “gender.” The main effect of gender ideology is to replace sex, a word that points to something real and recognizable, with “gender,” which exists only in a person’s mind. Succumbing to usage of the term “gender” is a trap that sucks you into Orwellian anti- reality.

DO consider scratching the term “gender” off forms, and replace it with “sex” before checking the box, whenever possible. You are a sex: male or female. Again, gender doesn’t really exist except in any given person’s mind, and is ever-changeable. In this way, you can also reclaim your body in documentation.

DON’T play the gender game. Example: “I don’t have a gender. But my sex is female. Rather, I am female.” Another example: “I don’t have a ‘gender identity.’ I do have a human identity which is whole and complex. I happen to be male because that happens to be the sex I am.”

Cisgender is a totally weaponized term that forces even more de-sexing in society.

DON’T get sucked into the mind game of “cisgender.” Cisgender is a totally weaponized term that forces even more de-sexing in society. It’s also a pejorative term that is supposed to mean that your mind just so happens to allow your “assigned sex” to exist alongside your “gender identity.” In gender ideology, a cisgender person is inferior to a transgender person.

Politely insist you are the male sex or the female sex, which actually matches up with your chromosomes. Period. Since the prefix “cis” means “on the same side as” (as opposed to “trans,” which means to cross over), perhaps you can cheerfully add that you are “cis-reality.”

DON’T say “gender neutral.” DO use other more accurate terms, such as “de-sexed” or “de-privatized bathrooms.” “De-sex” is particularly accurate when referring to what the state is doing to every one of us when transgender law insists that the term “gender” is superior to the reality-based term “sex.” Example: “The phrase ‘sex assigned at birth’ de-sexes us.” “Unisex” is far preferable to “gender neutral” in referring to clothing styles or hairstyles or any other material things that uniformly apply to both sexes.

DON’T say “gender non-conforming.” “Sex-non-conforming” is more accurate. The transgender idea, after all, is not to conform to the verified reality of the male or female sex.

DON’T get trapped in conflating intersex with “gender identity.” Intersex people are not transgender, though transgender activists use them to promote the agenda of gender ideology. The fact that anomalies exist in nature doesn’t cancel out the realities of nature, but actually accentuates them. Every single human being—male, female, intersex, or transgender—got here the same way: through the union of one male and one female.

The fact that anomalies exist in nature doesn’t cancel out the realities of nature, but actually accentuates them.

When introduced to someone, DO agree to use that person’s preferred name, whether or not he or she identifies as transgender. A preferred name is just that: a name or nickname someone says he or she likes to be called. Unless you are being asked to call someone a name you feel is offensive or obscene, there is no reason not to refer to someone by his or her preferred name. This is not a major concession, even if the person is not well. This is simply an act of goodwill, and can open the door to communication.

DON’T get sucked into the chaos of pronoun protocols. Unless a transgender individual is within earshot and needs to be humored, we should not feel compelled to use his or her preferred pronoun. Few understand how deep this rabbit hole is becoming, with more individuals insisting on being referred to in the plural: as “they” or “ze.” More are what Walt Heyer calls “gender defiant,” which is a more accurate term than “gender non-conforming.” The goal is only to sow confusion.

A caveat: Your employer may require you to comply, and you should avoid placing your job in jeopardy. But as much as possible, keep your mind clear. Save your energy. Use your best judgment and consideration for others’ feelings (and obsessions or mental state) as well as your employer’s policies to decide the best course of action. Awareness of language manipulation is key. Remember: these laws aren’t about protecting transgender individuals. They are about controlling everybody else.

When brokenness and alienation set in, more people resort to wearing masks and personas of various kinds.

DO always respect the dignity of each and every human being. The growth of transgender phenomenon shouldn’t surprise us at all. It’s another manifestation of so much brokenness in modern society. Family breakdown hurts children far more than we care to admit. Community breakdown follows.

When brokenness and alienation set in, more people resort to wearing masks and personas of various kinds. A persona is a coping mechanism, and the noxious effects of social media and communications technologies only makes this more contagious and intense. Most transgender individuals are being used as pawns in an increasingly obvious scheme to grow government at the expense of everybody’s civil liberties, including their own. So be kind to people, especially as they show kindness to you.

DO point out inconsistencies in the logic of “gender identity anti-discrimination laws” whenever you can. Insist that age identity and race identity be added to protected categories. Non-discrimination on the basis of “identity” should play out in more than one way. I’ve been saying for a while that age-identity discrimination is far more widespread and endemic than any other kind. I, for one, don’t identify with the age I was “assigned at birth,” and have experienced discrimination based on this. Timing is everything, and we are at such a critical mass now with these dangerous laws, that it’s time to call the bluff of the government-corporate complex.

DO stand with those who speak out for truth and freedom as much as you are able. You would be surprised how emboldening this can be, not just to the person who was the first to speak out but to others who would follow suit if they knew they weren’t alone. The whole point of political correctness is to make you feel all alone in your thoughts.

One more time: Let’s stop saying the word “gender” and revive the word “sex.” Submission to “gender” terminology is futile. Only resistance will work. So start using the word “sex” to help yourself and others clarify language, and thereby restore our ability to think.

The ‘Trump Clinches’ Headlines Aim To Help Hillary Beat Bernie [The FederalistThe Federalist]

On Thursday nearly every media outlet in the country proclaimed that Donald Trump had “clinched” the GOP nomination. It was an odd proclamation, as no delegates had been allocated since the Washington primary two days earlier.

Reporters from the Associated Press, CNN, CBS, et al. had called several unbound delegates (mostly from Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Dakota) and asked if they’ll vote for Trump. These reporters got enough former Ted Cruz delegates to say “Yeah, I suppose, ya know, Trump is like, the only guy still running” to push Trump past the magic number of 1,237 delegates, and thus the media manufactured this headline.

But this isn’t “clinching” by any meaningful definition of the word. These unbound delegates are still, by definition, unbound. They could change their mind at any point between now and the time ballots are cast at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July. If Cruz decided that just for the free media time he wanted his name placed in nomination at the convention it would probably take just a few five-minute phone calls to flip several of these delegates back to his support so he could meet the eight-state threshold.

Trump will clinch the nomination. It has been obvious since Cruz suspended his campaign that Trump would secure on June 7 (when several states hold the final primaries) well more than enough bound delegates to win the nomination. That’s why Trump has been called the presumptive nominee for almost a month now. But nothing has really changed since then, and certainly the nomination was no more “clinched” on Thursday than it was on Wednesday.

This Is All About Democrats

So why has the media manufactured and trumpeted this headline? The answer to that lies on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats have far more unbound delegates than Republicans do, and with typical leftist pretension they call them “superdelegates.” These superdelegates are currently telling the media they are overwhelmingly (541 to 43) favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. They are responsible for the bulk of Clinton’s lead over Sanders in the media’s delegate count.

In bound delegates earned through the primaries, the Sanders campaign is so close to Clinton that, as David Byler reports at Real Clear Politics:

Clinton probably won’t clinch without superdelegates. With superdelegates in her current total of 2,305, Clinton is less than 100 away from the 2,383 threshold, but take away the superdelegates and she is 615 short – which presents a bigger hurdle to climb. The former secretary of state would need an enormous share of the almost 800 remaining pledged delegates to clinch the nomination without superdelegate support. Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, so she would need roughly three-quarters of the votes cast in the remaining contests. Current polling in California and New Jersey suggests she won’t come close to that level.

Sanders is very likely to achieve what Cruz realized he could not after his devastating loss in Indiana. Namely, Sanders is likely to make it through the primaries with enough delegates that the nomination will ultimately be decided by the Democrat Party’s unbound “superdelegates.” Since party rules allow these superdelegates to change their mind at any point up until the ballots are actually cast at the Democratic National Convention, neither Bernie nor Hillary can really “clinch” the nomination until the convention itself.

This means that, while Hillary may be widely expected to win, the Democrat convention will be contested unless Bernie decides he doesn’t want it to be. This, obviously, looks like a catastrophe to the Clinton-loving media executives, so it becomes imperative to convince Bernie and his supporters to drop out once the primaries are over on June 7 (if not before).

That is why the media last week changed the definition of “clinching” the nomination to include winning the support of delegates who are actually free to change their minds at any point up to and including the convention itself. It makes no difference to the Trump campaign whether it is reported that they “clinched” the nomination last Thursday with the support of unbound delegates or whether it is reported on June 7 when they actually clinch with bound delegates.

But it makes all the difference in the world to the Clinton campaign whether the headlines on June 7 report that she has “clinched” the nomination or whether they tell the truth that the Democrat race will continue until ballots are cast at their national convention.

Texas’s War Against Washington DC [The FederalistThe Federalist]

The number of Texas suits against the federal government is growing. One might—accurately—deduce that Texas is presently not thrilled with Washington DC.

We will need to call the new suit filed against the United States in the Northern District of Texas something besides Texas v. United States in the popular media, as the suit comes while we wait for the Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Texas, in which the Obama administration issued regulatory directives that amend U.S. law on immigration. We are also waiting for the opinion in the Texas abortion regulations case this term. Both are popular news cases, although the latter is called Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedtso is less likely to cause confusion when the press refers to it properly.

In the newly filed lawsuit, 11 states, a state governor, and assorted school districts in Texas and Arizona have brought suit against the federal government based upon the open school bathrooms guidance the Obama administration issued two weeks ago. Adding to the title confusion, the basic argument for the TX v. U.S. bathroom and the U.S. v. TX immigration suits is essentially the same, although I only got hints of the underlying arguments in the New York Times coverage.

In most everyone else’s rush to post the announcement of “states sue federal government”—again—on their websites, this case is about open school bathrooms and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott nonsensically declaring that “Obama is not a king.” Those are very click-y details, and distinguishing the cases as the school bathroom or young immigrants lawsuit offers reporters many options for emotional hooks.

But those reporters avoid addressing the legal issue. Whether this is because they do not know of or understand that legal issue (Ben Rhodes, please call your office) or because they have seized the opportunity to make a conservative governor’s comment seem like royal straw man nonsense by not offering the context, we can judge case by case.

The legal issue is actually simple. These lawsuits are about the extent of executive power. Specifically, President Obama is assuming powers that he does not have under our republican (little-r) constitution.

Background for the New Texas v. United States

I published a brief legal explainer in the United Kingdom when the administration issued the new Title IX instructions two weeks ago.

Until recently, Title IX was most (in)famous for regulating collegiate sports. Schools had quickly complied with accepting women in equal number, but athletic scholarships became an equality issue.

In April of 2014, however, the US Department of Education, under pressure from LGBT special interest groups, released new guidelines for Title IX compliance, which stated, “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the executive branch committee that makes rules for CRA 1964, followed suit with similar rule changes in July 2015….

The effects are ripping through our daily business but there has been no change in the law. Congress did not debate gender identity discrimination. It did not pass a new bill that the President then signed into law. No. An unelected committee in the Department of Education expanded the definition of “sex” under Title IX and set off this chain reaction.

Shorter: the executive branch is making law rather than enforcing law.

The Title IX collision course is but one example of executive overreach. The immigration case is another. In that case, President Obama made law by essentially repealing an existing law.

The extent of executive power was also the legal issue underlying the Environmental Protection Agency cases decided last summer. In that instance, Congress directed the EPA in the Clean Air Act to make certain decisions about pollutants. (Having Congress authorize an executive committee on specific issues is one of the innovations in administrative law designed to curb the problems that executive lawmaking presents.) The Supreme Court found that the EPA didn’t follow Congress’s instructions. It was one of Scalia’s last opinions.

The Surging Executive Branch

Why all these cases now? Administrative law has been controversial for some time, but this is a notable cluster of cases that marks the implosion of the separation of powers.

In a nutshell, Congress, largely in Republican control since the early ’90s, is so busy protecting its members’ and the parties’ interests that it is not carrying out its obligation to make law as the Constitution directs. Congress has failed to lead, so the executive and judicial branches are assuming the lawmaking function. In fact, that is one of the U.S. government’s arguments in the immigration case: Congress did not act on a pressing matter, so the president must.

The executive branch is writing law through directives, orders, and regulations. The judicial branch is fixing poorly written laws churned out by representatives who are too irresponsible to even read before they vote. Of course, once the judicial branch rewrites the law, the executive branch then issues directives, orders, and regulations as it pleases. We are watching that scenario play out in Obamacare, which is one of the reasons some are not optimistic that the Supreme Court will check executive rule-making power in the current cases.

Worse still, the court has allowed the inversion of state and federal power. According to the Constitution, any powers not granted to the federal government belong to the states or the people, but caselaw since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s era has ignored the Ninth and Tenth Amendments so effectively that the federal government comfortably argues states are wrong even to enforce existing federal law that the president does not favor—which is the crux of the U.S. v. Texas immigration case.

The courts have failed to uphold the Constitution. The legislature has punted. The executive is surging. All too quickly, there might be no law but the federal executive will. Just the news one wants to hear in a Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton election year, no?

Emotions run high over open school bathrooms, deportation of young immigrants, health care, and mercury emissions. The press will focus on those things. It’s good for clicks and makes people feel better for doing the right thing, however the pop elite define “right” at any given moment.

But those are details. The issue remains: our executive does not have the power to make law. Or, as Abbott put it, Obama is not a king.

I’m the boss of me. (Or, how’s that reboot working out for ya?) [WIL WHEATON dot NET]

It’s been about seven months since I decided to hit the reboot button on my life, and it’s time to check in and see how I’m doing.

The real challenge this month, and the 54,000 dollar question is: is it worth it?

The fact that I’ve waited until the last day .. even the last half of the last day … of the month should give some indication as to where I’m at, emotionally, right now.

I mostly feel good. I’m mostly sleeping well (other than a couple of intensely terrible nightmare nights), I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any food I want, and I haven’t really missed beer that much. But I feel like the reboot curve has flattened out, and now I’m through the part where I see and experience dramatic results all the time, and I’m in the long dark teatime of the soul.

That’s, uh, that’s not where I really am. My fingers just typed that because it was amusing to me. I’m in the long and boring maintenance part of this, while I adjust to a new normal. I feel really good in my body, the exercise is actually fun, cooking healthy food is fun and delicious, and I can have ice cream almost every night, because I’m taking good care of myself in every other aspect of my life and if I want to have ice cream then goddammit I am going to.

But when someone tells me that I look really good (“ten years younger” is the most common thing, which is nice) and they want to know how I did it in such a short period of time, I tell them that I just took everything I liked and replaced it with water and exercise (which isn’t my phrase, I heard it somewhere else). It’s one of those funny-but-not-ha-ha-funny jokes that isn’t a joke. It’s true … but is it worth it?

I honestly don’t know. I know that I feel good. I know that I look better than I have in years. I know that I’m in really good health, so I don’t feel trapped in a body that’s aging and trying to prevent me from doing the things I want to do.

Strangely, that all feels external and not as important as it was four or five months ago. I don’t have creative and artistic satisfaction, and I know that that is entirely my fault, because I’m not nearly doing as much as I want to do creatively. I still feel like I’m doing other people’s work, even though a lot of that work is intensely satisfying and rewarding in every way. Maybe this only makes sense inside my brain, but I feel like writing for Tabletop and Titansgrave, and doing voice work for the projects I can’t talk about is work and I am expected to do work. Writing stories and making podcasts and putting together films and junk draws from essentially the same creative well, but … I don’t know, it tastes different. It’s more satisfying, I guess. It quenches a different type of thirst.

I’m doing that kind of work a very little bit at a time, but it really does feel like my phone and my email and my texts are constantly pulling me away from it, and the year is nearly half over, and I haven’t published a single short story.

Anyway, that’s a lot of first world problem complaining that I am reluctant to even share in public, but honestly assessing how this is all going is kind of important, so there it is. Let’s check in and see how my grades are for May.

  • Drink less beer.
  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
  • Write more.
  • Watch more movies.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Eat better food.
  • Exercise more.

Drink less beer: A+

It’s weird how little I miss beer and alcohol in general. Occasionally, there are days when I’m like a beer would be nice but that passes really fast, usually, and I get this immense satisfaction playing the game of “how many days in a row can I not have any alcohol?”

Read more: A+

Every day I’m reading for up to an hour, it seems. I’m tearing through books and short stories and magazines, and I’m now making an effort to get out of the science fiction I’ve been immersing myself in, and get into other types of narrative. I’m currently reading a book about a con man called “Yellow Kid” Weil. It’s an autobiography about a guy who lived in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, told to a writer in 1948. He’s a profoundly unreliable narrator, but that’s a big part of the fun in his story. He’s telling us how much he’s conned all these people, but it feels like he’s conning the reader, which should be off-putting, but isn’t (at least to me).

Write more: C

So I wrote about 20,000 words this month. Most of it was for Tabletop, some of it was for speeches, some of it was that flash fiction I like to write on my Tumblr, and some of it was even on these short stories that I’m working on. But it wasn’t nearly enough, and I need to see myself after class to have a heart-to-heart talk about what my goals are, and if I’m really committed to doing all I’m capable of doing.

Watch more movies: A

I’m watching almost a movie a day, and I’m working my way through some great old anthology television, like One Step BeyondNight Gallery, and The Outer Limits. I’m finding inspiration in these little stories, and planting seeds that I hope will grown into my own version of them very soon. I have this dream of shooting little stories with a three or four person crew and like two or three actors, and releasing them online, and these shows are helping me learn about that type of storytelling and pacing.

Get better sleep: A

I’m staying up way later than I would like to, but I have no reason not to, honestly. I’m going to sleep between 11:30 and 1, and sleeping for 8 to 9 hours. Mostly, the sleep I’m getting is good and restful, and that’s in large part due to my diet and exercise.

Eat better food: A

Keeping track of my macronutrients, giving myself a cheat day once a week, and cooking my own food as often as I can is making a great difference. I rarely crave garbage, and when I do, it’s like one donut or a few Red Vines. If I have vices related to food at all, it’s popcorn and ice cream.

Exercise more: B

I can do better. I’d probably give myself a low C for this month, but I will allow myself the curve. I worked very long hours nearly every day for three weeks straight, and I just didn’t have the energy or time or motivation to exercise when I wasn’t on set. But I walked almost every day, and since we finished production, I’ve run every other day, at least. My time and distance is holding at about 35 minutes for 5K, but I’m also not aggressively trying to train, yet, for the 10K and then the half marathon that I plan to do later this year. I’m also proud of myself, considering that six months ago, I couldn’t run for more than a minute at a time, and didn’t have the motivation to even try.

So let’s total this up and see how I did: 27 out of 28 points for a very solid A. I’ll take it, and I’ll feel as good as I can about it, considering how unfulfilled I feel creatively.

Are you still doing this with me? If you are, how do you feel?



The Argentinian earth observation satellite ÑuSat-1 carries a linear transponder built by AMSAT Argentina. The satellite was launched on a CZ-4B rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China on May 30, 2016 into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit with an inclination of 97.5 degrees and a Local Time of the Descending Node (LTDN) of 10:30.

The AMSAT Argentina U/v inverting transponder, named LUSEX, has an uplink of 435.935 MHz to 435.965 MHz and a downlink of 145.935 MHz to 145.965 MHz. Total power output is 250 mW. There is also a CW beacon at 145.900 MHz with a power output of 70 mW. Activation is expected after initial satellite commissioning is complete.

For more information, see the AMSAT Argentina LUSEX page at http://lusex.org.ar/

Geostationary Es’hail-2 Satellite Set to Launch this Year [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Launch of the geostationary Es’hail-2 satellite into orbit is planned for December 2016. The satellite will be placed in a 25.5° orbit. Coverage of the Amateur Radio narrowband (NB) and wideband (WB) transponders should extend from Brazil to Thailand.

Es’hail 2 will carry two “Phase 4” non-inverting Amateur Radio transponders operating in the 2.4 GHz and 10.45 GHz bands. A 250 kHz bandwidth line...

A Dozen Schools/Organizations Move Closer to Hosting a Ham Radio Contact with the ISS Crew [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program has announced that 12 schools or organizations that submitted proposals to host an Amateur Radio contact with a member of the ISS crew have moved into the next stage of the selection process. Contacts would take place during the first half of 2017. The 12 semifinalists, in eight states, must now complete an acceptable equipmen...

Don Wallace Museum Foundation Closing; Donates Assets to Northern California DX Foundation [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The Don Wallace Museum Foundation (DWMF) is shutting down, as the famous W6AM Rhombic Ranch in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, has been subsumed by residential development. The DWMF has donated $29,000 to the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF).

“The donation comes with no restrictions or caveats,” DWMF Board Chair Joe Locascio, K5KT, said. “As I strongly suspect, Don (the original) W6AM ...

America’s Habit of Losing Won Wars [Blazing Cat Fur]

I was busy Memorial Day with my family, culminating in the traditional hamburger dinner. But all the while I was haunted by the images I have seen in the past few years visiting America’s immaculately maintained military cemeteries — not only Arlington National Cemetery but also its overseas offspring in, inter alia, Tunisia, Manila, and Normandy. All are spare and beautiful, fitting monuments to the men and women who fell so that we may be free. So many crosses, along with some Stars of David — so much pain, so much sacrifice, so much heroism and in so many places. It’s hard to comprehend fully when you are a coddled civilian living in the luxury that these fighting men made possible.


Dear Premier Wynne: Your plan for phasing out natural gas is incredibly irresponsible [Blazing Cat Fur]

Dear Premier Wynne,

The leaked Climate Change Action Plan, according to The Globe and Mail, includes an agenda to move homes, businesses and other buildings off natural gas. This agenda is incredibly irresponsible.

Let me explain why.


US gun documentary admits using the editing trick you know everyone’s using [Blazing Cat Fur]

‘I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a ‘beat’ was added for, as she described it, ‘dramatic effect”

Anyone who has seen more than a handful of reality shows and documentaries is probably familiar with this setup:

– Person A says something to Person B

– *Shot of Person B looking confused* (not necessarily from same part of conversation)

– Person B speaks after a pause, or says nothing at all

It’s an editing technique used to add drama, tension or awkwardness to a situation, and Katie Couric’s recent Under the Gun documentary has been caught out.


Excluded Middles [Blazing Cat Fur]

Aristotle’s third law of thought, the law of the excluded middle, has enjoyed a long and to some degree controversial history. Briefly, it posits that a statement must be either true or false, excluding any middle ground, which on the face of it makes perfectly good sense. Extrapolating from the domain of logic to the social world, however, the excluded middle takes on a different and indeed opposite connotation, for its absence spells not propositional rigor but cultural disaster.


Canada PM Trudeau will not be punished for elbowing legislator [Blazing Cat Fur]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not face punishment for manhandling a legislator and inadvertently elbowing another during a fracas in the House of Commons, parliamentarians decided on Tuesday.

I still want to see him in a cage match with Vickers.


Canadian officials not talking about B.C. terror camp claim [Blazing Cat Fur]

Sikh Hareep NijjarVANCOUVER — The Canadian government won’t discuss whether there’s any merit to a report officials in India have warned of a man running a terror “camp” in B.C., with the intent on carrying out attacks in India.

Entering a committee meeting Monday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale didn’t respond to questions about a report in the Times of India Monday, alleging an international fugitive named Hardeep Nijjar has trained a small group of Sikh youth how to use arms, including AK-47s, at a camp near Mission, B.C. — about one hour east of Vancouver.

h/t JBR


Swiss village chooses to pay £200,000 fine instead of accepting 10 refugees as ‘they won’t fit in’ [Blazing Cat Fur]

One of Europe’s wealthiest villages has decided to pay a £200,000 fine instead of accepting around 10 refugees under its country’s newly imposed quota.

Residents in the picturesque Swiss village of Oberwil-Lieli said they voted ‘no’ in a referendum on whether to accept the refugees because “they wouldn’t fit in.”

It comes after the Swiss government announced a quota system to meet its promise of allowing 50,000 asylum seekers into the country.

By rejecting the government’s plans, the village – which counts 300 millionaires among its population of 22,000 – has sent shockwaves across the country, with some accusing the residents of racism.

…One of them, who asked not to be named, told the MailOnline: “We do not want them here, it is as simple as that.

“We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want spoiled.”


Gazan kids put on play of death [Blazing Cat Fur]

The play took place in an auditorium as teachers looked on and encourage the children onstage. The audience – probably their families -were watching in the audience.

During the play children enacted placing a bomb under an IDF tank and blowing it up, shooting mortar fire at an IDF outpost, and the simulation of a raid on an outpost with the killing of an Israeli soldier – also played by one of the schoolchildren. One of the kids was even wearing a real Go Pro camera to film the “raid.”   h/t MP

This is Islam 32




Just who does Urz Heer work for? [Blazing Cat Fur]

urz heer Muslim plantAs discussed here yesterday, there is a potential scandal emerging from the Conservative Party of Canada’s convention in Vancouver.

On May 27 and May 28, all four major online media outlets in Canada (the CBC, National Post, Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s) reported on a Muslim woman named Urz Heer who stood up at the party’s convention and tearfully complained about its purported stance against Muslims.

What a tangled web we weave.


Sausage-wielding gang attacks vegan cafe [Jammie Wearing Fools]

The owners of a vegan cafe in the country of Georgia say group of neo-Nazis started throwing grilled meat at patrons.  It happened over the weekend at the Kiwi Cafe in the capital city of Tbilisi.

The cafe was holding an English-language movie screening when the group came in and started the violence.

They pulled out grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at customers before starting to smoke, which is forbidden at the cafe.

When the owners tried to get them to leave a fight started and spilled into the street.  The cafe owners say neighbors, who are not happy with a vegan establishment being located there, joined in the fight.

The attackers left before police arrived although the cafe owners say some of their workers were brought to a police office for interrogation.

Full story.

North Korean State Media Praises Trump, Slams ‘Dull’ Granny Clinton [Jammie Wearing Fools]

We had to triple-check this one to make sure it’s not a Twitter gag, but sure enough, it looks legit.

A North Korean state media outlet on Tuesday praised presumptive GOP presidential nomineeDonald Trump.

The outlet, DPRK Today, called Trump a “wise politician” and a “far-slighted presidential candidate,”according to NKNews.org.


“In my personal opinion, there are many positive aspects to the Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies,’ ” wrote Han Yong Mook, who said he was a Chinese North Korean scholar.

“Trump said ‘he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North,’ isn’t this fortunate from North Koreans’ perspective?” the piece says.

The writer referenced a speech Trump made where he said he talked about possibly withdrawing military forces from Seoul unless it pays more for its defense costs.

“Yes do it, now … Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?” the editorial said.

“The day when the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.”

The editorial also slammed Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea.”

Always nice to see the presumptive GOP nominee endorsed by our enemies, huh?

David Blatt reportedly to sign with Turkish basketball team [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — American-Israeli basketball coach David Blatt reportedly is set to sign a deal with a Turkish team.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, who had tried to stay in the NBA after being fired midway through the 2015-16 season, will sign with Istanbul-based Darussafaka, the Europe-based basketball reporter David Pick reported Tuesday.

Blatt’s deal is worth close to $2 million a year for an unspecified number of years, according to Pick.

Blatt had interviewed for open head coach positions with the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks in the past two months. He was also being considered for the Los Angeles Lakers coaching job.

Cleveland.com reported Saturday that current Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue called Blatt’s firing “f—ed up” at the time. Before his firing, Blatt had led the team to a 30-11 record, the best in the Eastern Conference, following an NBA Finals appearance the previous season.

The Cavaliers have again advanced to the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday.

Darussafaka plays in the Turkish Basketball Super League.

Teen arrested for allegedly smashing Holocaust memorial in Poland [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

The Rajgord monument (Courtesy of FODZ)

The Rajgord monument (Courtesy of FODZ)

Teen arrested for allegedly smashing Holocaust memorial in Poland

(JTA) – A teenager in Poland was arrested for allegedly smashing a Holocaust monument and scrawling anti-Semitic slogans and a neo-Nazi symbol on it.

The 16-year-old had escaped from a state juvenile care center, the PAP news agency reported Tuesday, quoting a police spokeswoman. The teenager did not say why he smashed the Star of David on the monument in Rajgrod, in northeast Poland, the spokeswoman said.

Police said the boy last week spray-painted offensive slogans and Odin’s cross, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist symbol, on the monument. The slogans were “Send you the gas” and “F— the whores,” according to police.

The monument in Rajgord, 130 miles from Warsaw, was previously vandalized in 2015, some six months after its unveiling.

“We welcome the news that the alleged perpetrator has been arrested,” said Gideon Taylor, chair of operations of The World Jewish Restitution Organization.

Taylor’s organization and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland in 2002 set up the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, or FODZ, which erected the monument with help from the local Jewish community near a Jewish cemetery that was destroyed in World War II.

“We look forward to working closely with the authorities to try to prevent such attacks on monuments in Poland in the future,” Taylor said.

Jewish groups welcome Facebook, Twitter pledge to crack down on hate speech [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Samsung Electronics Co. Unpacked launch event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 21, 2016. Mobile (Pau Barrena/Bloomberg)

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Samsung Electronics Co. Unpacked launch event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 21, 2016. (Pau Barrena/Bloomberg)

(JTA) – Jewish groups welcomed a pledge by four internet giants to crack down on online hate speech, though some questioned the firms’ commitment to act.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft on Tuesday signed a code of conduct with the European Commission that requires them to delete the majority of reported illegal hate speech within 24 hours, The Telegraph reported.

The European Jewish Congress offered an “enthusiastic welcome” to the code of conduct in a statement Tuesday, but the World Jewish Congress reacted more coolly in a statement the same day, voicing “skepticism about the commitment of these firms to effectively police their respective platforms.”

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and others “already have clear guidelines in place aimed at preventing the spread of offensive content, yet they have so far utterly failed to properly implement their own rules,” the CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, said in the statement.

“Tens of thousands of despicable video clips continue to be made available although their existence has been reported to YouTube and despite the fact that they are in clear violation of the platform’s own guidelines prohibiting racist hate speech. … Nonetheless, YouTube gives the impression that it has been cracking down on such content. Alas, the reality is that so far it hasn’t.”

Last week, France’s Union of Jewish Students, or UEJF, and the anti-racist organization SOS Racisme sued Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for failing to remove anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic content, Le Parisien reported.

The two groups, together with SOS Homophobie, said that on March 31 and May 10, they found 586 examples of such content. Only 4 percent of the content was deleted by Twitter, 7 percent by YouTube and 34 percent by Facebook, the groups said.

In 2013, the Paris Court of Appeals issued a landmark ruling forcing Twitter to block the hashtag #UnBonJuif — French for “a good Jew” — and to remove the thousands of associated anti-Semitic tweets that violated France’s law against hate speech.

The ruling was a turning point in the fight against online hate speech in France and beyond because it caused Twitter to abandon its policy of applying as little censorship as is permissible in the United States, where Twitter’s head office is based and where there are fewer limitations on free speech than in many countries in Europe.

YouTube has since permanently banned videos posted by Dieudonne, a French comedian with 10 convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews.

In 2014, Facebook removed the page of the Holocaust denier Soral for “repeatedly posting things that don’t comply with the Facebook terms,” according to the company. Soral’s page had drawn many complaints in previous years.

Despite complaints of partial compliance on hate speech removal by the internet giants, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor celebrated the accord Tuesday as “a historic agreement that could not arrive at a better time.” It is “very important” that governments and online companies “work in tandem to make the internet a safer space for all,” he said.

The president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, was also optimistic, saying in a statement that “internet hate leads to a culture of fear. We hope that today’s announcement will be the first step in combating that culture.”

Woman says she was fired from Jewish group for not being Jewish enough [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — A woman is suing a Jewish non-profit health organization for wrongful termination, claiming she was let go because she was not Jewish enough.

Helaine Dominguez, 69, was the director of medical services for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services for almost 12 years until she was fired in 2013. She alleges that her new boss, Avrohom Adler, sought to cultivate a more religiously observant staff, according to the New York Post.

“Immediately after his appointment, Adler began a crusade to ensure that staff in the departments reporting to him were comprised of Orthodox or highly observant Jews,” Dominguez says in a Manhattan federal court claim. He “advanced the careers of younger employees who shared his level of faith.”

Dominguez had gone on leave to care for a son who had stomach surgery, the Post reported. When she returned, she was allegedly told by Adler that the organization was “going in a new direction” and let go.

Dominguez is seeking reinstatement in her job and unspecified damages. The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services did not comment on the case.

Court awards employee $31,000 for abuse by Netanyahu’s wife [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, attending a celebration for foreign diplomats at the President's Residence in honor of Israel's 68th Independence Day in Jerusalem, May 12, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with arms folded, and wife Sara attending an Israeli Independence Day celebration at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, May 12, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

(JTA) — A former employee of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence was awarded some $31,000 by a Jerusalem labor court for mistreatment at the hands of the prime minister’s wife.

It was the second time this year the Jerusalem District Labor Court had ruled against Sara Netanyahu in an employment abuse case.

On Tuesday, the court found in favor of Guy Eliyahu, who had sued the Prime Minister’s Office for wrongful dismissal and abusive treatment, the Times of Israel reported. In testimony last fall, Eliyahu said Netanyahu called him to the residence in the middle of the night to heat a bowl of soup and, on another occasion, to wish her good night.

Judge Dita Proginin called the latter demand “an unreasonable and humiliating request that didn’t take into consideration the rights of the worker to be treated with respect and the right to work reasonable hours.”

In March, Proginin ruled in favor of another former employee of the Prime Minister’s Residence, Menny Naftali, who also claimed abuse by Netanyahu. Naftali was awarded some $43,735 in damages.

In the Eliyahu case, Proginin said Netanyahu created an “atmosphere of fear” at the residence and subjected Eliyahu to “damaging employment” that included “reprimands, shouting, humiliations, and excessive and unreasonable demands” as well as a work schedule “that doesn’t align with the law.”

Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, in turn accused Proginin of “the real abusive treatment,” claiming the judge “blatantly ignored the testimony of Mrs. Netanyahu.” Following the Naftali ruling in March, Netanyahu tried unsuccessfully to have Proginin dismissed from the Eliyahu case.

The court’s ruling was the second blow in a bad week for the prime minister’s wife. On Sunday, Israeli police concluded a probe into fraud and misuse of public funds that may lead to an indictment of Netanyahu on criminal charges.

A police spokesperson said there had been established “an infrastructure of evidence” that police say may support prosecution and possibly a conviction.

The probe was initiated last year amid claims that Sara Netanyahu expensed services provided to her family for their private use, falsely claiming it was for the residence, which is not owned by the Netanyahus and whose maintenance is paid for by the state.

She has denied any wrongdoing throughout the investigation, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a suspect.

‘Never react to provocations,’ Pope Francis tells Israeli musician [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Asked how to avoid religion-based divisions between people, Pope Francis advised an Israeli musician to “never react” to provocations.

The pontiff told this to Ofir Jacob on Monday at the Vatican during a meeting the pope had with several creators from different countries who are active on the YouTube video website.

Jacob, who came to the meeting as a member of the Anna RF music band, asked Francis “how can the separations disappear” despite how “we as humans divide ourselves with religions.”

“You as a Jew can remember the first pages of the Bible, after the creation immediately one brother kills his brothers,” the pope said. “I was shocked by that. The Bible starts with a crime” born out of “jealousy and envy, the trend to divide,” he said. “So when provoked, you should never react. Is better to look as a fool than react when you are provoked.”

The Israeli Electro Ethnic Reggae band uploaded the fragment of its dialogue with the pope to YouTube.

Others at the meeting were Matthew Patrick from the United States, Louise Pentland from Britain Lucas Castel from Argentina and Matemática Río from Brazil. The meeting was organized by Google, which owns YouTube, and the Argentina-based Scholas Occurrentes, the Pontifical Academy for art, sports and technology.

Separately, the pope said in a statement Monday that he is preparing to host the second edition of the interreligious Soccer for Peace tournament on July 10 in Argentina. First held at the Vatican in 2014, the tournament this year will take place in the pope’s native country, in the city of La Plata, which is approximately 30 miles from Buenos Aires.

Eran Zahavi, a soccer player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, was among the first international players to share a video message of support on YouTube for the tournament.

“I would like to express all my support for the game for the peace. I send you from here big regards and all the best,” Zahavi said.

Other players who confirmed their attendance include Iker Casillas of Spain, Javier Mascherano of Argentina, and Eric Abidal and Zinedine Zidane of France.

Why a small word change is a big deal for Reform women rabbis [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Members of the rabbinical class of 2016 of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion read their class prayer at an ordination ceremony held at the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 2016 (HUC-JIR via Facebook)

Members of the 2016 rabbinical class of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion reading their class prayer at an ordination ceremony at the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 2016. (HUC-JIR via Facebook)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Since 1972, when the Reform movement ordained its first female rabbi, more than 700 others have joined her ranks in that denomination alone. But a surprise awaited them, though few seemed to notice: The language on their ordination certificates was markedly different than that of their male colleagues.

Men were referred to by the Reform movement’s traditional “morenu harav,” or “our teacher the rabbi.”

Women’s ordination certificates have said “rav u’morah,” or “rabbi and teacher.”

The difference may seem subtle, but for women rabbis and their supporters, it was a symbolic reminder that despite the gains they made in the movement, there remained barriers to complete equality.

The language “is important because we want everything to be 100 percent equal for men and women rabbis, even things that aren’t so obvious,” said Rabbi Mary Zamore, executive director of the Reform movement’s Women’s Rabbinic Network.

Now, four years after Zamore took the issue to Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC’s president at the time, a task force headed by HUC Provost Rabbi Michael Marmur has decided to change the language and offer the same designation for men and women.

At the Reform movement’s campuses in New York, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Jerusalem, 26 new rabbis — a dozen men and 14 women — are being ordained this year, Marmur told JTA. For the first time the women are being given the option of choosing the same title and language as men on their certificates.

Rather than continue with rav u’morah, female rabbis will have a choice between “rabboteinu harav” and “rabboteinu harabba” – rav and rabba being words commonly used to distinguish between male and female rabbis in Israel.

It took the task force more than three years to consult with experts and make the decision to change the language.

“We believe that these proposals correct a disparity without perpetrating revolutionary change on the ordination formula,” Marmur wrote in a memo he circulated to the HUC community last November.

Rabbi Sally Priesand is the first female ordained rabbi in America. (Courtesy of Rabbi Sally Priesand)

Rabbi Sally Priesand was the first female ordained rabbi in America. (Courtesy of Priesand)

READ: Survey: Majority of Israeli Jews support equality for Reform movement

The change was welcomed by a pioneer in the Reform movement who didn’t realize the disparity until Zamore brought it to her attention in 2012.

“It came as a shock to me,” Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first female rabbi ordained in America, told JTA. “When I was ordained I was told I would be getting an empty tube because they had forgotten to change the language to the feminine” on the ordination scroll. “I just accepted that. When I finally got it I thought the title, which they had changed to ‘rav u’morah,’ was what all my classmates got, too.”

Priesand was the only woman among 35 male classmates that year.

“There was a discomfort [at HUC] with giving her the same title” as the men, Zamore told JTA. “Our teacher the rabbi” is “auspicious and used since the first ordination at HUC, so it’s in the line of tradition. It speaks of the community. That’s the whole idea of a chain of tradition and ordaining, that the community is standing behind you saying ‘we believe in your authority.’”

In contrast, she said, “Rav u’morah is a nice statement of ordination. It’s just bland, pareve. The fact that it is different is problematic.”

Zamore wrote a letter to Ellenson in 2012 asking if he was aware of the discrepancy. In a new anthology, “The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate,” she describes it as “smacking of gender inequality.”

What’s more, “it represents the inequalities that still persist after 44 years” of women’s ordination in the Reform movement, said Zamore, like a pay gap — female rabbis make between 80 and 90 cents for every dollar male Reform rabbis earn for comparable work, according to a study by the Central Conference of American Rabbis — and a continuing struggle for “appropriate family and maternity leave.”

Workplace inflexibility also makes it difficult for women to raise families while working, said Zamore.

READ: As congregations shrink, cantors become rabbis — and work as both

In other rabbinical schools that ordain women, the language granting ordination is the same for men and women but for the tweaking required to make the Hebrew, a gendered language, appropriate to the recipient.

The Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary this year is ordaining 11 new rabbis, seven men and four women, in New York. The denomination’s Los Angeles rabbinical school, American Jewish University, is ordaining nine people this year — seven men and two women — said Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler Rabbinical School there.

The language used for new rabbis of both genders is the same, said sources at both schools.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College this year is ordaining six rabbis, three men and three women. It has used the same language on its ordination certificates for rabbis of both genders since RRC began ordaining female rabbis in 1974, said Rabbi Deborah Waxman, the seminary’s president.

At Hebrew College, an independent rabbinical school outside of Boston, six rabbis were ordained this year, two men and four women, said Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, dean of its rabbinical school, which opened in 2003. There, too, they use the same language for men and women.

Rabbi Mary Zamore is executive director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. (Courtesy of Rabbi Mary Zamore)

Rabbi Mary Zamore is executive director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. (Courtesy of  Zamore)

One of the newly ordained Reform rabbis at HUC has elected to use the term “rabba” out of a sense of solidarity with the Orthodox women being ordained by Yeshivat Maharat, Zamore said.

Maharat this year ordained three women, bringing to 14 the total number of women it has ordained since 2013. The New York-based yeshiva, controversial in the Orthodox world for training women as members of the clergy, has been the subject of a debate over nomenclature since its founding. Sara Hurwitz, the first woman ordained by founder Rabbi Avi Weiss, was given the title rabba in 2009. After significant communal pushback, Weiss changed the title of ordainees to “maharat,” an acronym of Hebrew words meaning spiritual, legal and Torah leader.

Today Yeshivat Maharat graduates choose among several titles, including maharat, rabba and “morateinu,” meaning “our teacher.”

One 2015 Yeshivat Maharat ordainee, Lila Kagedan, elected to take the title “rabbi,” making her the first Orthodox woman to do so.

READ: Rabbi Lila Kagedan poised to make history with job at Orthodox shul

Priesand, who retired from her New Jersey synagogue a decade ago and next month will turn 70, suggested that each generation of rabbis must further the struggle for acceptance. When she was ordained, Priesand said, “the important thing is that I knew I had been given the title rav, and that was probably all I really cared about.”

She continues to draw inspiration from the biblical tale of the daughters of Tzlofechad, who successfully challenged the laws prohibiting women from inheriting shares of their father’s inheritance.

“I learned a long time ago to fully appreciate the story of Tzlofechad’s daughters in the Torah,” Priesand said. “The moral of that story is that change comes about only when those who are being discriminated against demand it. So I very much admire Mary Zamore for making certain this was made right.”

Liberal Jews plan a summer of opposing Donald Trump [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in San Diego on May 27, 2016 in San Diego, May 27, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in San Diego on May 27, 2016 in San Diego, May 27, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Boycott Trump? Mock Trump? Trump, the musical?

Jewish liberals are ready to sow a summer of Donald Trump discontent in ways that aim both to bludgeon and entertain.

Bend the Arc, an advocacy group, is convening its first national conference here next week aimed in part at finding a strategy to keep the billionaire real estate magnate, who has secured the Republican nomination, from becoming president.

“We have been actively working and campaigning to make sure that Trump is defeated since early fall,” said Stosh Cotler, the CEO of the group, which was formed from the 2011 merger of the New York-based Jewish Funds for Justice and the West Coast-based Progressive Jewish Alliance. “That work will be continued at the conference.

“We’re hoping that this platform of 500 Jews will be an opportunity to get more folks involved in defeating Trump and the movement his candidacy has catalyzed.”

Mik Moore, the social media agitator behind the 2008 pro-Obama effort known as “The Great Schlep,” is planning a narrative series that would lampoon Trump.

Cotler said she would announce plans for a mass action that would involve Jews across the country. She did not provide more details, but pointed to the campaign to have major corporations boycott the Republican convention as a template.

That campaign, joining Bend the Arc with Color of Change, a black advocacy group, and Credo Action, a network of progressive activists, claims responsibility for Coca-Cola’s decision to markedly reduce its participation at this year’s convention, and has targeted others, including Google, Facebook and Apple. (Coca-Cola neither confirms nor denies activists’ pressure led the company to reduce its contributions to the convention, saying only that it is nonpartisan.)

Also speaking at the conference are representatives of Latino, African-American and Muslim advocacy groups, as well as politicians including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the U.S. House of Representatives minority leader.

Other Bend the Arc actions targeting Trump include launching an online petition last November disguised as a mock “registry” of Jews — a pointed parody of his call for a registry of American Muslims — and a web ad that quoted Trump’s description of incoming Mexicans as “rapists and murderers” set against images of Nazi-era Jews who sought refuge in the United States.

“The ugly anti-immigrant rhetoric of today sounds painfully familiar to American Jews,” the ad said.

Moore’s Jewish Council for Education and Research was behind “The Great Schlep,” which drew on the talents of comedian Sarah Silverman to get young Jewish voters to persuade their grandparents in Florida to vote for Barack Obama. Silverman and actor Samuel Jackson were featured in videos in the 2012 campaign that had a similar message, albeit delivered in more profane terms.

This time around, Moore said the breadth of Trump’s challenge to liberal values demands not just a single video but a narrative series along the lines of “Halal in the Family,” a 2015 web series he helped develop featuring comedian Aasif Mandvi that promoted tolerance for Muslims.

“We’ve been thinking about how to use humor to take on Trump and to explain what his politics means,” Moore said.

“We’ve developing a bigger project, bigger than the ‘Schlep’ or ‘Wake the F— Up’,” he said, referring to Jackson’s 2012 video. “We want to do some storytelling this cycle and create characters people better connect to — better than a single one-off video.”

Moore said it was too early to reveal what shape the Trump series would take.

Jewish groups are grappling with how to confront Trump. His “America First” rhetoric has resonated with white supremacist groups, whose support Trump has been reluctant to forcefully disavow, and some of his proposals, including mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, monitoring mosques and registering Muslims, run afoul of the mainstream groups’ civil rights agenda. But directly targeting a nominee risks casting a tax-exempt group as partisan.

A number of groups, notably the Anti-Defamation League, have not hesitated to name Trump. The ADL told the Forward last week that its criticism of Trump is consistent with its longstanding practice of calling out by name politicians who cross red lines.

Other groups, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella public policy group, have chosen to decry the rhetoric while not naming the candidate.

Bend the Arc has an affiliated political action committee through which it channels much – but not all – of its anti-Trump activism. Cotler said the PAC hopes to raise $500,000 this season, which will be used, Bend the Arc spokesman Elliot Levy told JTA, “to promote the election of leaders who champion Bend the Arc’s issues and can move our country in the right direction.”

Cotler said Trump’s candidacy is enough of an affront to Jewish values of tolerance and inclusion that it should supersede anxieties about appearing partisan. Bend the Arc is able to carry out its anti-Trump advocacy through its 501(c)(4) group, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, which under IRS rules may devote a portion of its activities to politics.

“The Jewish community that Bend the Arc believes in is one that values democracy, inclusion and equity that understands that when any other community is singled out and banned, this goes so deeply against our core values,” she said. “This is a values-based election; this is not a partisan issue.”

Brazilian Jewish politician Gerson Bergher dies at 91 [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Gerson Bergher, one of Brazil’s most prominent Jewish activists, has died at 91.

A former president of the Brazilian Zionist Organization, Bergher, who has served as a politician in Brazil for many years, died Monday in Rio. He reportedly began his political career based on advice from Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Bergher was first elected as lawmaker in the assembly of the Brazilian state of Rio in 1960.

He had a longtime and openly pro-Jewish and pro-Israel political career as a member of both the Rio state Assembly and City Council. In the 1990s and 2000s, as council president, he served as acting mayor a few times. In 2014, he assumed his latest term in the assembly.

“Bergher was the dean of politicians of the Jewish-Brazilian community and a loyal activist of the Zionist movement in Brazil,” Osias Wurman, Israel honorary consul and former president of the Rio Jewish federation, told JTA. “He idealized the Holocaust memorial to be built soon.”

In 2009, Bergher inaugurated the Yitzhak Rabin bust at a Rio park in the presence of his Rabin’s widow, Leah.

Bergher was a vocal critic of Brazil’s decision to allow then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the South American country in 2009, noting Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.

“This man represents the hatred, discrimination, prejudice, racism, intolerance and terror, independently of religion, faith and social class,” Bergher said at the time.

In 1985, Bergher welcomed then-Brazilian President Jose Sarney at a Jewish book fair in Rio. At that time he presided over the Bialik Library, a cultural center dedicated to the preservation of the Yiddish language.

In 1962, JTA reported that Bergher was among the five Jews to be elected to high office.

In parallel to his Jewish activism, Bergher led social work in several low-income areas of the cities.

Ukraine honors nationalists whose troops butchered Jews [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Amid a divisive debate in Ukraine on state honors for nationalists viewed as responsible for anti-Semitic pogroms, the country for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman blamed for the murder of 50,000 Jewish compatriots.

The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniversary of Petliura’s assassination in Paris. National television channels interrupted their programs and broadcast the image of a burning candle for 60 seconds, Ukraine’s Federal News Agency reported.

A French court acquitted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Russia-born Jew, of the murder even though he admitted to it after the court found that Petliura had been involved in or knew of pogroms by members of his militia fighting for Ukrainian independence from Russia in the years 1917-1921. Fifteen of Schwartzbard’s relatives perished in the pogroms.

Separately, the director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich, said in a statement on Monday that Kiev will soon name a street for two other Ukrainian nationalists — Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych — who are widely believed to be responsible for lethal violence against Jews. Another street is to be named for Janusz Korczak, the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit, a Polish Jewish teacher who was murdered in Auschwitz.

Bandera and Shukhevych collaborated with Nazi forces that occupied what is now Ukraine and are believed to have commanded troops that killed thousands of Jews. Once regarded by Ukrainian authorities as illegitimate to serve as national role models because of their war crimes against Jews and Poles, Petliura, Bandera and Shukhevych are now openly honored in Ukraine following a revolution spearheaded by nationalists in 2014.

Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, condemned the plan to name streets for Bandera and Shukhevych.

“My countrymen should know that Bandera and Shukhevych considered me and all of the Ukrainian Jews — children, women, the elderly — enemies of Ukrainians,” he wrote on Facebook.

In the 2014 upheaval, street protesters brought down the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, whom critics perceived as a corrupt Russian stooge. The revolution unleashed a wave of nationalist sentiment and with it the naming of streets and memorial events for the three men and their peers across Ukraine, where they are honored for fighting Russian domination.

The issue is divisive among Jews and non-Jews in Ukraine, where 40 percent of the population are ethnic Russians, and where thousands have died since Russian-backed separatists sparked a conflict in 2014 between Ukraine and Russia.

Efraim Zuroff, the Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and some Ukrainian Jewish leaders have protested this trend, calling it a whitewashing of involvement in anti-Semitic murders by Ukrainians and Nazis.

But other Ukrainian Jewish leaders, including Josef Zissels, chairman the Vaad organization of Ukrainian Jews, argue that the preoccupation with this subject “leads to unnecessary assignment of blame that serves only retrospection but fails to offer a vision for the future” in a country where Jews enjoy equal rights and suffer fewer anti-Semitic assaults than in many other European states, Zissels told JTA last month.

During a debate on the subject last week in Kiev, Zissels said he doubted “that Jewish books describe what some Jews did to Ukrainians” the way they describe Ukrainian atrocities against Jews. In Ukraine, many believe communist Jews bear a responsibility for Soviet oppression.

Dolinsky condemned Zissels’ statement, saying it creates a false moral equivalence and perpetuates anti-Semitic stereotypes. Soviet Jews, he argued on Facebook, oppressed Ukrainians not as Jews but as Soviets along with officials of various ethnicities, while Ukrainian nationalists murdered Jews while flying the Ukrainian nationalist banner.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 20:01 (JST), May 31 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

Clinton Grabs Big Endorsement A Week Ahead Of The Battle For California [Outside the Beltway]

Sanders Clinton

With the California primary a week away, Governor Jerry Brown has endorsed Hillary Clinton:

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday, intervening in the highly contested Democratic primary and telling voters she has the “tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda.”

“Democrats have shown, by millions of votes, that they want her as their nominee,” he said.

But Mr. Brown’s endorsement, which came one week before next Tuesday’s primary in his state, also offered strong praise for Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been campaigning nearly full-time in California in an attempt to post a victory that might lift his long-shot battle to defeat Mrs. Clinton. In doing so, Mr. Brown took note of the similarities between the campaign the California governor ran for president in 1992 and Mr. Sanders’s own appeal.

“He has driven home the message that the top one percent has unfairly captured way too much of America’s wealth, leaving the majority of people far behind,” he said in an open letter to Democrats and independents, who are permitted to vote in the primary. “In 1992, I attempted a similar campaign.”

Mr. Brown lost that race to Mrs. Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in a contest that left lingering bitterness between the two men. Mr. Clinton met with Mr. Brown in his office in Sacramento last week, suggesting any remaining strain between the two political figures is easing.

But the governor, who is now 78 and midway through his fourth and final term as the state’s chief executive, made it clear that more than anything, his decision was driven by his concern about Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

The endorsement comes at a particularly important time for Clinton. While she presently leads Sanders in the polls out of California, the Vermont Senator has been quite a lot of time there recently and continues to promise that he will win the the California Primary as part of a plan to take his campaign against Clinton all the way to the Democratic National Convention in July where he seems to believe he would be able to convince Superdelegates to back him even though Clinton will walk into the convention with the most pledged delegates, the most popular votes, and seemingly the most credible case for Superdelegate support at the convention. As things stand, Clinton will formally clinch the nomination with a win in New Jersey, where Clinton has an overwhelming lead over Sanders, but it would obviously be somewhat of an embarrassment for her campaign if she were to lose the primary in the biggest state in the union, and one that her husband is largely responsible for turning blue thanks to his win there in the 1992 Presidential Election. Additionally, if Clinton is able to win in the Golden State it may well be the final straw necessary to convince Sanders that it’s time to speak reality to his supporters and get them to rally to Clinton’s side much as Clinton herself did eight years ago when her race against Barack Obama finally came to an end.

Brown’s endorsement is likely to help Clinton’s campaign if only because he remains relatively popular in the state after his victory in his re-election fight in 2014 and any edge that Clinton can get over Sanders in the Golden State is likely to help her. In the end, though, my guess is that Clinton will end up winning California rather easily even if the percentage difference between her and Sanders could end up being closer than expected. This victory, along with the fact that she will have clinched the nomination earlier in the evening ought to be the best signal available to demonstrate to Sanders that it’s time to throw in the towel.

Incidentally, Brown’s endorsement of Clinton is somewhat ironic considering the long-standing bad blood between him and the Clintons:

The endorsement was not easily won. Jerry Brown’s relationship with the Clintons has been strained since his bitter primary race against Bill Clinton in 1992, when Brown called Bill Clinton “the prince of sleaze.”

It was that year that Brown played a role not unlike the role Sanders is playing now, running as the outsider against the establishment, demanding the Democratic Party move in a more leftward direction and refusing to yield to the front-runner at a time party leaders were eager for unity.

At the party’s 1992 national convention in New York , Brown supporters roamed Madison Square Garden with tape over their mouths, protesting what they said was the muzzling of their candidate by party leaders. They interrupted a speech by Hillary Clinton with shouts of “let Jerry speak.”

“I’ve never known Jerry not to speak when he wants to speak,” Clinton said at the time. “He’s always speaking, near as I can tell.”

The uneasiness still had not subsided by the time Brown had launched his campaign for governor, in 2010. His GOP rival at the time, Meg Whitman, quoted Bill Clinton to make her case that Brown had raised taxes during his first stint as governor.

Brown responded by pointing out that Bill Clinton lied about his philandering in the White House, mocking Clinton’s notorious “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” line.

“Clinton’s a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?” Brown told a crowd at the opening of a Democratic Party office in East Los Angeles in 2010. “You remember, right? There’s that whole story there about did he or didn’t he. OK, I did — I did not have taxes with this state.”

This bad blood in turn is rooted in comments Brown made during a debate with then Governor Bill Clinton during the race for the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination:

Here’s a longer view of the exchange:

Brown’s allegations, of course, eventually became part of the myriad of real and alleged scandals that plagued the Clinton White House and Hillary Clinton’s time as First Lady for the next eight year. The fact that Brown is endorsing Clinton now is, to say the least, very interesting.

So…That Stimulus [Outside the Beltway]


So, back in March 2009 I wrote this post about prognostications about the growth of the U.S. economy. It centered mainly about how robust growth will be due to the economic stimulus package. Some rather fantastical claims were made regarding the growth rate of GDP. Namely that GDP would grow between 2009 and 2013 by 15.6%. That implies an average growth rate on an annual basis of just under 3.7%. That is a significant amount of growth by recent historical standards. If we look at the data for the Bureau of Economic Analysis for 20 years prior to 2009 we see that the average growth rate is around 2.5% and even if we eliminate years with negative growth it is still only 3.2%. Granted, the period from 1996 through 2000 saw growth rates in excess of 3.7%, but we also know that period was during the tech bubble, so that growth is something one should not anticipate in the future.

Further, at the time there was reason to believe that growth would not be so strong. As Greg Mankiw pointed out at the time, was GDP trend stationary or was there a possible unit root issue. The latter implies that when the economy deviates from its current trend it need not return to that trend.

Paul Krugman responded in his usual fashion by calling Mankiw evil and obtuse. Here is the problem that Krugman failed to realize. What did we do throughout much of the 2000’s? Did we invest in plant and equipment? Or did we invest in housing? If it were the latter how productive can we expect housing to be? Does an increase in the stock of housing increase our ability to make cars, lathes, or airplane engines? Do we get more service oriented jobs due to an increase in the housing stock? I think we can answer “No,” to all of those questions. Yes, we get an increase in construction jobs and the industries that supply the raw materials for housing, but housing itself is not a productive asset. It does not lead directly to additional productive capacity. This is not to imply that housing is without value, please do not jump to that rather…well…stupid conclusion. We value lots of things that have little or no productive value. A basket ball hoop attached to your garage has no productive value, but it still has value none-the-less.

So, this is why Krugman, Brad DeLong, Christina Romer, Jared Bernstein, and all the rest that claimed high growth was imminent were wrong. They were wrong because like good neoclassical economists they saw investment as simply investing in a glop of K (for capital–i.e. plant and equipment) and did not stop to think about what it means to invest in different types of capital or if housing should be considered K at all. Since housing is not part of K that is productive that one sees in most macroeconomic models these days the notion of slack capacity would become doubtful, at least to the degree they imagined it was. Yes, later on these guys all walked back their rhetoric, but the point still remains, they made bad predictions, realized they were bad and walked them back…but failed to apologize for their asinine behavior and even worse acknowledge that maybe their models have a fundamental flaw.

Moreover, I’d like to argue that much of modern day macroeconomics is just complete nonsense. You start with basically a GDP factory (thanks to Arnold Kling for this idea), that is the supply side is modeled as,

GDP = Y(L,K).

You have “one output” known as GDP. You have two inputs known as labor and capital. There is no real distinction between investing in say lathes vs. computers and that investing in either will have the same effect on output. The latter is errant nonsense in that it assumes that only investing in computers can get you the same level of output even in goods where you need lathes.

Further, by assuming things like a representative agent model remove all issues with incentives. Yet, incentives can have strong macro effects (see the 2008 Financial Crisis). If you weaken the standards for loans across the board, you’ll get more loans to people who are at greater risk of default. For example, equity reduces the risk of default on a mortgage. The higher the level of equity the homeowner has the lower the risk of default. The move to 10%, 5%, 0% down payment loans would bring more risk into the the MBS (mortgage backed securities) market. Macroeconomics pretty much ignores incentives at all levels. In searching through the IDEAS data base for moral hazard and monetary theory the results are rather stark. Incentive theory is thought of not just micro-economics, but almost “micro-micro”-economics. That is, taking economic theory not down to just the market level, but beyond it into the firm or household and modeling how things work inside the firm.

And when I stop to consider my job it makes me realize that macroeconomics/monetary theory is probably way too simplified. I work in the energy industry, but I do not produce energy. I produce information. I go into databases and extract data and analyze it and send the results to management, regulators and even special interest groups. The information is used not only in the day-to-day operations of the company, but it is also used in various proceedings before regulatory bodies–i.e. it has a political element to it which is again, completely ignored by macro-economist/monetary theorists. And when you bring in politics and you have voting it becomes much, much harder to look at analytically. I have pointed out in previous writings Arrow’s Impossibility theorem when it comes to voting. The implication of this result is that the results of voting are the product of a game, as in game theory (another thing that macroeconomcis/monetary theory tends to ignore) and in game theory one of the more problematic aspects is that there are no mechanisms by which to ensure optimal outcomes. That is, the results are heavily dependent on the institutional frame work one is operating in. Or to put it more starkly, “good” policy in Canada will be different than “good” policy in the United States because we have different institutions. Yet, you see nothing like this in mainstream macroeconomics/monetary theory.

Yes there are macroeconomic phenomena and effects, but in my view there are only microeconomic solutions and policies and the sausage grinder that is politics makes such solutions even harder to implement. And this goes for macroeconomics done by those on the Right or the Left. I think it is all silly nonsense that tries to base theories on economic aggregates that are not really a thing in and of themselves, but are created by men. GDP is a construct by people trying to measure what is going on in the economy. It is not a thing that exists itself. Thus, noting correlations between GDP and say labor is probably not that helpful since those models are purely statistical in nature–i.e. in the future that statistical relationship can change and since you cannot easily foresee such changes it is hard to use such models for policy. And the very nature of labor changes. Back 150 years ago, labor was pretty much confined to the agriculture sector for the most part (at least that is where most workers were working). Then labor moved into manufacturing. Now it is services and information. These types of labor almost surely require different types and amounts of human capital. Thus, what might have been true in the 1930’s (when Lord Keynes was writing about business cycles) may no longer apply as we shift from manufacturing to a new type of economy where labor does something very different.

Gary Johnson Selected As Libertarian Nominee For President [Outside the Beltway]

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson, the former Republican Governor of New Mexico who was the Libertarian nominee for President in 2012, has once again been nominated to represent the party as its Presidential nominee, setting the party up for what many hope could be an election year in which it finally gains national attention:

ORLANDO — Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination on Sunday, fending off five rivals from different factions on two closely fought ballots and securing more than 55.8 percent of the total vote.

“I will work as hard as I can to represent everyone in this room,” Johnson said after his victory. “After this convention, people will be looking to us to describe what it means to be a Libertarian. And I realize it will be up to me to tell them.”

But Johnson’s near-miss on the first ballot kicked off an afternoon of protests and delegate glad-handing, with the vice presidential race to be decided later. Johnson had run a careful campaign with an eye on the general election, picking former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — like him, a Republican who switched parties — as his running mate. In Saturday night’s debate, Johnson, alone among the top-five contenders, said that he would have signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and that he thought people should be licensed to drive cars. He was loudly booed for both positions.

“I liked it,” Johnson said in an interview before Sunday’s vote. “Let’s draw attention to the only candidate onstage saying that he would sign the Civil Rights Act, let’s draw attention to the only candidate onstage who’s in favor of driver’s licenses. I don’t know about you guys, but I think that’s a great distinction between myself and the rest of them.”

Those positions were tough to swallow for some of the party’s self-identified radicals. They’d spent the campaign season — including more than a dozen debates — labeling Johnson a “Republican-lite” candidate who could not expand on the 1 percent of the vote he had won as the 2012 nominee. Johnson was silent when the first ballot showed him just six votes short of a majority.

Johnson’s rivals, especially Libertarian activist Austin Petersen and software engineer John McAfee, saw an opportunity to drag out the process. They briefly huddled on the convention floor and worked delegates, as Johnson had unfruitful conversations with critics and then walked outside for an interview with MSNBC.

“It’s not unique to the Libertarian Party that we have factions,” Johnson said. “When Republicans and Democrats get to this stage of the process, they’ve already gone through their primaries. You don’t hear much of a contrast. In the case of Libertarians — not so much.”

Outside the convention floor, Johnson was followed by supporters — his own and hold-outs from a “Never Johnson” faction.’

The scrum quieted down for Johnson to do the interview. But when it ended, Petersen gave chase and pulled Johnson aside — in full view of reporters.

“Do you want to unite the party?” Petersen asked.

Johnson shook his head and walked away, as Petersen denounced Weld as a “horrible statist” and argued with a Johnson supporter who said that, at 35, Petersen was too young to represent the party.

“Tell that to Marquis de Lafayette,” Petersen said. “He was 18.”

Meanwhile, Johnson was securing the votes of Libertarian delegates who had cast sympathy ballots for lesser-known candidates. Johnson gained 60 votes on the second ballot, while Marc Allan Feldman, a well-liked physician who just that morning had helped people injured by a hit-and-run driver, lost 40 votes between ballots.

Heading into today’s vote, there was at least some doubt about where things would end up, in no small part because the Libertarian Party continues to have a large contingent of members who are the kind of purists for whom even a candidate like Gary Johnson or Bill Weld is insufficiently impure. From the reports that have been sent in from the large group of reporters covering the convention, likely the most press coverage a Libertarian Party convention has ever gotten, Johnson was under fire for everything from his previously stated opposition to RFRA-type exemptions to anti-discrimination laws to his concession during last night’s final candidate debate that it was legitimate for the government to require that people get driver’s licenses in order to drive on government maintained highways. Additionally, Johnson’s decision to join forces with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his Vice-Presidential running mate didn’t seem to sit well with many delegates. In part, this was seemingly due to the position that Weld had taken on certain issues while Governor, but one also gets the impression that at least some delegates saw Johnson’s action as an effort to take away what had traditionally in the LP been a power in the hands of delegates away from them and dictate the Vice-Presidential nominee in much the way that has become the custom in the Republican and Democratic Parties. In the end, though, the support that Johnson has spent the last four years cultivating paid off. On the first ballot, he was only a handful of votes short of winning the nomination and there was at least some doubt that his candidacy could survive if he didn’t win on the first ballot. In the end though, after one candidate dropped out and another saw his support fall away and migrate mostly to Johnson, the former Governor was easily renominated.

Johnson’s nomination comes as the Libertarian Party experiences a period of greater notoriety than it has ever had in the past. To a large degree, of course, this is due to the dissatisfaction that voters in both parties have expressed via polling and other methods with the presumptive nominees of the two major political parties, both of whom enter the General Election season with historically high disapproval numbers and polls saying that the public quite simply does not trust them. On the Republican side in particular, there remains a sizable number of people who continue to say that they would not support Donald Trump under any circumstances, and speculation has run high as to whether or not these voters could be persuaded to support a third party candidate. The fact that both Johnson and his presumptive running mate are former Republican Governors should not be discounted in this respect and, indeed, Johnson has made no secret of his intention of seeking to attract disaffected Republicans, and Democrats, in an effort to increase the level of support for the party sufficiently to justify an invitation to the Presidential debates in the fall. Whether that strategy will succeed remains to be seen, but it’s one that the delegates seemed to eventually support notwithstanding the purism that causes the LP to choose the path to irrelevance far too often.

As I write this, the delegates are voting on the Vice-Presidential nominee and it does appear that William Weld will win the fight in the end notwithstanding resistance from party purists. Once that is done, Johnson and Weld will apparently hit the campaign trial, starting with media appearances in the coming days that Libertarian nominees seldom get the chance to take advantage of. Whether the party can make something out of it, even if that something isn’t victory in November, is something we’ll just have to wait to find out.

Update: William Weld won the LP nomination for Vice-President on the second ballot.

Trump the Presumptive Nominee (Some of What I got Wrong) [Outside the Beltway]

donald-trump-hatAs was pointed out to me, correctly, two weeks ago in the comments section of an unrelated post, I was pretty adamant early on that Donald Trump would not get the nomination.  Further, at one point in the process I noted that if I was wrong, I would write a post to that effect.  This is that post.  I have not gotten to it primarily because I have been very busy of late* (as my general lack of blogging should underscore).  However, the entire event has clearly been on my mind and I had not forgotten that I owed a front page “I was wrong.”  

I clearly thought that Trump was not a sustainable candidate.  I was, indeed, quite confident of that fact.  Well, I was also quite wrong.  Indeed, his trip through the nomination process was a reminder that it is dangerous to get overly confident about the way political phenomena will play out and is a further reminder of why social scientists usually use caveats and qualifiers when speaking about the future.

I think that there are two fundamental areas where I was wrong about his nomination:  the evangelical vote and the probability of winnowing.

First, I wholly misread the likely behavior of conservative evangelical voters.  Yes, there were initial signs that Trump was resonating more with those voters than one would have expected (I think here, for example, of his early rally in Mobile, AL).  Still, at the time I thought that was driven by his celebrity status and would fade.  I was woefully incorrect.  Given the salience of social issues such as abortion and gay rights, I found it highly unlikely that religious voters would ally themselves in large numbers with a twice-divorced, proud adulterer whose main business was casinos (and who had been on the record as pro-choice). Further, his inability to speak the evangelical language (e.g., “Two Corinthians” comes to mind) as seemed a problem.   Even now that does not strike me as an unreasonable position, but reality is what it is.  The part that I clearly missed, and I think will bear much study going forward:  the degree to which economic factors and, especially, racial identity are at work in forming that pro-Trump coalition.

Second, I really thought that the fragmented field would winnow faster than it did.  I still think there was a (missed) pivot point where if enough candidates had dropped out that a Not Trump candidate could have rallied support.  However, the field remained fragmented far too long for such an opportunity to happen.  Now, it is not unreasonable to assume that had the field held less candidates that Trump would have had a more difficult time.  If we look at two graphs from a 538 post back in April, we can see this:

Both of these graphs show that there was room for potential challengers to overtake Trump and that the fragmentation of the opposition made it impossible for it to coalesce.  Of course, it is also possible that some of the opposition support would have gone to Trump and he could have consolidated earlier.  They also show his comparative historical weakness as a candidate (which underscores he is an unusual candidates in more than one way).

In fairness, it should be pointed out that Trump has now won more raw votes than any GOP candidate (although the usefulness of raw vote totals for comparisons over time is limited).  Voter turnout is also up in the GOP contest, but it is difficult to know how much of that is Trump enthusiasm and how much of it is Trump opposition (not to mention a function of so many candidates running):

After long decline, primary turnout rebounds

Another error, which I admitted might be in play some time ago (I know I wrote it at some point, but cannot find the reference at the moment):  I really find Trump to be an abhorrent candidate and I think that this pushed some wishful thinking/confirmation bias into my analysis.  I know that I am going to have to guard against that as I watch the general election campaign unfold. Without a doubt, as Nate Silver put it in his own Trump mea culpa, “I acted like a pundit” and wanted to make a bold stand when social science doesn’t work that way.  So it goes:  live and learn, yes?

I will point out that this nomination season has helped underscore one of my favorite themes:  the rules matter.

To wit, from Daniel Nichanian at 538 in late April,  Clinton’s Delegate Lead Would Triple Under GOP Rules:

Clinton’s 289-delegate lead becomes a massive 977-delegate lead if we re-run the Democratic primaries using Republican rules. That’s a jump from a lead of 10 percentage points to a lead of 32 percentage points.

This explains how Donald Trump has been able to seize such a commanding delegate lead despite winning a string of plurality victories, plunging the GOP into the predicament it is in now. Republican rules have a lot of quirks (winner-take-most districts, viability thresholds, winner-take-all triggers, statewide bonuses) that allow a GOP candidate to win most of a state’s delegates even when that state’s allocation method is ostensibly proportional. This was, in part, designed to give a candidate who is doing well early on a boost in delegate momentum for the race to wrap up quicker than it otherwise would.

You can see the effect this would have on the Democratic side: Clinton’s 56 percent of the popular vote would be enough for her to win 64 percent of pledged delegates under GOP rules — just as Trump’s 40 percent of the popular vote has given him about 50 percent of delegates allocated so far.

What this points out is that the degree to which Trump is not the perfect manifestation of the desire of the collective entity known as the Republican Party is questionable.  The rules are simply not designed to accomplish such a feat (the Democratic rules are closer, and that is why it is taking so long to reach a conclusion).

Conversely, the disproportional rules of the GOP versus the more proportional rules of the Democratic Party work out this way from Trump (from a mid-April 538 piece by Harry Enten:  Trump’s Right That The GOP Primary Is Unfair — It Favors Him):

Overall, Trump has won 37 percent of the vote in the 35 contests, while winning 48 percent of the delegates. Even if you include the conventions, where we don’t have any good measure of vote total, Trump has won 45 percent of the delegates. If Republicans were to allocate delegates the way Democrats do, Republicans would be much closer to a 1-to-1 votes-to-delegates ratio. That system would also result in Trump’s having pretty much no shot at winning a majority of delegates heading into the Republican National Convention.

Any assessment of the nomination process, and of the internal divisions of the parties has to take all of these factors into account.  Trump clearly represents a sizable chunk of the GOP (and specifically of the primary electorate, which is ultimately a small number in national terms), but he is not necessarily the true preference of the majority (or the Condorcet winner, in political science terms) because the rules are not designed to produce such an outcome.  Of the many question that have yet to be answered include the degree to which Trump will reshape the party going forward.

Indeed, there is much to be learned here about the Republican Party in particular, as well as regarding the clear racial elements to the Trump campaign and his support, which has been more overt and up-front than we have seen for decades.

Any rate, this has made me a bit more circumspect going forward into the general.  At this point, I actually do think that the odds favor a Clinton win given the electoral college parameters of the race, but we shall see.  I shall refrain from bold predictions and great certainties (at least for the moment!).


*Not to make excuses, but to provide context:  in mid-March I was named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University and was doing that job alongside finishing out my teaching for the Spring and acting as Chair of Political Science until we could get an interim in place.  Plus, last weekend was the first in I don’t know how long I did not either travel for soccer or have some deadline I needed to address (e.g., grading, a promised article, whatever) if not both.  Hence:  very light-to-nonexistent blogging (especially of anything that took much in the way of analysis).

Here’s the REAL Reason Trump was Furious at the Media Today [RedState]

Donald Trump is just the most disgusting and despicable person to ever get even reasonably close to the White House, and it isn’t even close. The spectacle of his asinine press conference, at which he acted like a petulant three year old child who called the media names for daring to attempt to verify boasts about his alleged charity to veterans that he repeatedly made in public really just confirms that, as a human being, Trump deserves to lose even to Hillary Clinton.

The media has dug into Trump’s alleged disbursement of $5.6M to veterans charities, and you won’t believe what they found:


Let’s review the bidding: Trump chickened out of a televised debate because he was scared of Megyn Kelly. He loudly announced, as an effort to hurt the television ratings of the other candidates, that he was going to hold a simultaneous rally to benefit veterans. During the course of this rally, he boasted that they had raised $6M for veterans groups, and that he had donated $1M of his own money.

Now keep in mind, no one asked Donald Trump to do any of this. No one asked him to do a rally that was ostensibly for the benefit of vets, no one asked him to donate his own money, no one asked him, how much are you going to raise. He boasted of all these things of his own accord, and did so repeatedly, in a shameless and naked ploy to get votes. It was his own campaign that engaged in serial dishonesty and goalpost shifting about what had happened to the money and specifically what became of the $1M of Trump’s own money that he allegedly donated. This all came about because of Trump’s incessant bragging (which he did on television, repeatedly) and his specific and transparent attempt to get people to watch his “veterans” rally on television instead of the Fox News debate.

Which is why it was so stomach-turning to see Trump pull his offensive bull***t routine today where he repeatedly said that he “didn’t want any credit” for giving to vets and wanted to do it “in private.” Trump invited this scrutiny on himself by being a loudmouth braggart about how great he is for veterans and veterans groups, and he is mad at the media for forcing him to actually do what he bragged that he’d already done.

Make no mistake: if Fahrenthold and the WaPo had not continually pressured Trump’s campaign for months about this, almost none of the groups Trump boasted about giving to today would have gotten a red cent. Definitely, Trump would never have given a penny of his own money, as he promised he had already done back in January.

If you did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday, a few things ought to be clear to you by now: 1) Trump, who boasts about being worth “billions” and one of the wealthiest men in the world, wanted very much to claim credit for having given $1M of his own money to vets. 2) On the other hand, Trump had no intention of actually parting with any of this money. 3) He and his campaign repeatedly lied about what happened with the money and told the press information that was not true. 4) Only repeated hounding by the same press finally shamed Trump into donating his own money, and into reaching out to his new donors to make up the shortfall between what he promised and what he had actually given. 5) The fact that Trump had to actually donate his own money is the real reason that he was frothing-at-the-mouth pissed off at the press today.

I just don’t know what else you are supposed to call someone who clearly had the intent of claiming false credit for donating to veterans charities, other than an absolute scumbag. Just to be clear, Trump can either donate to charities or not, and no one has the right to say anything about it; it’s his money after all. But for him to take political credit for being some kind of philanthropist with a group that really is mistreated by the government, without any intent of following through… that’s inexcusable.

People all the time lament the fact that if people like me don’t vote for Trump, then Hillary will win. What they don’t offer is any reason why Trump isn’t just as despicable as she is, if not worse.

The post Here’s the REAL Reason Trump was Furious at the Media Today appeared first on RedState.

RUMOR: Bill Kristol’s Third Party Candidate has been Identified, and it is… [RedState]

According to Bloomberg Politics, people who are close to Bill Kristol have identified the third party candidate he has recruited to run against Trump and Clinton, and it is… David French.

Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French — whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.

French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children.

Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision. One of the Republicans added that French has not lined up a vice-presidential running mate or significant financial support. However, according to this person, some conservative donors look favorably on the prospect of French entering the fray.

If true, this would obviously not have the instant celebrity appeal that someone like Romney or Coburn would have. On the other hand, French would have none of the baggage that either Coburn or (especially) Romney would have. I don’t know French personally, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt  and, who knows, maybe he will shine in the spotlight.

The real test will be whether he can raise enough money and get himself enough media attention to enter the real discussion here. After this weekend’s messy convention, it’s clear that the Libertarians are not ready to assume that mantle and that their ability to appeal to mainstream folks just really isn’t ever going to cross the 5% threshold.

The post RUMOR: Bill Kristol’s Third Party Candidate has been Identified, and it is… appeared first on RedState.

I Stand With Glenn Beck and Brad Thor [RedState]

Multiple outlets are reporting today that Glenn Beck’s morning talk show has been suspended for a week by SiriusXM.

The suspension is in response to an interview with thriller novelist, Brad Thor from last Wednesday.

During the course of the interview, Thor suggested that GOP nominee, Donald Trump, had the characteristics of a Latin American caudillo – or dictator. Nobody can dispute that Trump is thin skinned, irrational, and paints himself in larger-than-life terms, while showing very little patience with those who oppose him, in any way.

The offensive statement, as quoted by Reason.com states:

“’It is a hypothetical I am going to suggest, as a thriller writer,’ Thor said to Beck. ‘With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as president? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that – if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president? His constitutionally granted authority, I should say, as president. If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office?’ Thor added that he doesn’t ‘think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in, to get Trump out of office, because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.’”

I listened to the interview, myself, at the time it was going on, so I got the statement in the context of the entire discussion.

My immediate reaction?

Yeah – he’s right. If Congress won’t do their job, who can we count on to step up and do something?

That “something” seems to be a word pregnant with possibilities, but only those with an agenda and a lack of intellectual curiosity would immediately go the assassination route.

Thor doesn’t strike me as a man lacking intellectual curiosity. In fact, given his line of work, it would seem to be a job requirement.

“’It’s not a defense of assassination,’ he told Reason today. ‘I don’t even want to see a dictatorial president assassinated. We are a republic—a nation of laws—and the greater good would be served by the despot standing trial.’ And if there’s no trial? ‘Safeguarding the republic against a dictatorship is a topic of conversation that dates back to the Founders,’ he says. ‘If we had to unseat a president without the backing of the Congress, we would need a patriot along the lines of George Washington to lead the country from tyranny back to liberty.’”

It’s a reasonable explanation of an interview that was badly twisted, mainly by Branch Trumpidian cultists on social media. They lit up the internet with breathless outrage and all reason was lost, along the way.

Refer back to my statement about those with an agenda and a lack of intellectual curiosity.

How much of that social media outrage by the gilded toad’s tadpoles had an effect on the decision by SiriusXM and their actions against Beck? No idea, but I’m willing to bet they had at least some part in creating the mountain out of that particular molehill.

This is the point where I ask if there’s anyone else who gets the slightest sense of unease with “punishing” journalists, writers, pundits, or talk show hosts over what amounts to perceived threats, when the evidence at hand is ambiguous, at best?

When the mob can convict and condemn, based on perception alone, there is no longer a safe haven for our First Amendment rights. We are at the mercy of whoever can gin up the most outrage.

I’m going to stand with Glenn Beck and Brad Thor on this one – not because I’m as vehemently opposed to Donald Trump’s candidacy as the both of them combined (which I am), but because it’s the right thing to do.

If we don’t stand now, Thor’s statement from last week may come back to us as eerily prophetic.

The post I Stand With Glenn Beck and Brad Thor appeared first on RedState.

Jeff Sessions: Donald Trump Is the Will Of the American People [RedState]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, gestures as Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during a rally Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Madison, Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, gestures as Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the crowd to help him find his lost self-respect and misplaced integrity. (AP Photo/John Bazemore;caption by streiff)

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, former conservative and current Branch Trumpidian

Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Donald Trump’s friendly but fierce Alabama ally, has a message for Republicans still queasy about their party’s nominee: Tide’s about to roll over you.

Sessions, a 69-year-old former state attorney general who famously donned the “Make America Great Again” trucker’s cap at a massive rally in Mobile last August, thinks Trump is more a movement than a man. And this sprightly son of country preachers and teachers is on a mission to evangelize maybe-Trumpers like House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Gospel According to Donald – with a sermon on self-preservation.

“I think [Ryan] needs to recognize, on some of these issues, Trump is where the Republicans are and if you’re going to be a Republican leader you should be supportive of that,” Sessions told me during a taping of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast in his Senate office last week.

“My advice is to listen and accept the will of the American people, the Republican voters – the Republican Party is the Republican voters,” he added – a pointed reference to Ryan’s suggestion that he, and not the presumptive party nominee, represents authentic conservative values. “Give me a break! A lot of our drift within our party has gotten away from [the will of the voters] … I think the leaders in all parties tend to adjust to reality. They just have to or they won’t remain in office … Already many are sensing it.”

If Sessions wants to argue based on his primal fears, that is his prerogative but there are a couple of salient facts that conservatives, in particular, need to keep in mind. The first fact is that any time anyone tells you that you are fighting the will on Republican voters or American people by continuing to witness against Donald Trump, and all his works and all his empty promises, that is a sign that you are dealing with a profoundly dishonest or delusional person. According to RCP, Trump has won 43% of the primary votes cast thus far. A clear majority of the GOP electorate opposes Trump. Trump not represent the views of “most Americans,” and saying “Trump is where the Republicans are” is not only silly but, if it were true, an invitation to shoot oneself in the face.

The second thing is that the US has never before been subject to mob rule. That is what Sessions is not only accepting but encouraging. In fact, Sessions is not even countenancing tyranny by a majority, he believes that a loud, unkempt and unbathed minority has the the right to decide who ill rule. The role of a leader is not to be the stenographer for or the first person in a mob. A political leader is selected because the electorate is willing to trust to that person’s judgment. Rather than worrying about were Republicans are, Sessions should be concerned about where the nation is and what the nation needs to help it move forward.

The post Jeff Sessions: Donald Trump Is the Will Of the American People appeared first on RedState.

Trump Change [RedState]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses during while speaking at a rally at Millington Regional Airport in Millington, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses during while speaking at a rally at Millington Regional Airport in Millington, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Most of the media coverage of Donald Trump’s news conference, supposedly about the money he raised for veterans, actually focused on the Donald calling the media sleazy liars. Streiff covered it well here. Some noted that this attack on the media wasn’t in keeping with the media’s expected change in tone for a presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported that during Donald Trump’s new Conference this morning, the Donald stated he wasn’t going to change:

“You think I’m going to change? I’m not changing.”

Then, in the Los Angeles Times, Noah Bierman pointed out that the “Trump change” comment came after Trump’s advisors have been saying for weeks that he would begin to act more “presidential”  as he attempts to unite the Republican Party and broaden his appeal for the general election. To prove the point Bierman explained the Trump change comment was “mere seconds after calling Mitt Romney “a fool” and renewing his complaints that New Mexico’s Republican governor, Susana Martinez, was ‘not nice’ in her comments” about Trump. According to Bierman, the real message of the news conference was, “Those who criticize or scrutinize Trump — including reporters and fellow Republicans — will be hit back hard.”

Trump’s change, expected or not, isn’t coming any time soon. After all Trump has said that President Trump will be different than Candidate Trump. If that wasn’t clear enough, earlier this month to continue to campaign as an a**hole, or as the Times headline put it, to be “provocative.” And even Sen. Marco Rubio says Trump shouldn’t change his campaign style because it is who Trump is and it is successful

The post Trump Change appeared first on RedState.

Venezuela Runs Out Of Everything, Businesses Leaving. Still Want Bernie? [RedState]

Think of an item you use on the daily. Toilet paper, electricity, medicine…

Okay, now pretend you don’t have it. That’s Venezuela right now as their economic crisis escalates into the stratosphere. They are running out of everything, and this includes businesses and corporations that make much of the things they use.

This has caused hours long waits for simple things from stores, such as butter. Oftentimes these items are then turned around to be sold on the black market. That’s right, there’s a black market in Venezuela right now for things you complain for having to drive 5 minutes to the store for.

On top of that, Venezuela is short around 80% of the medical supplies necessary to treat its population. People are currently dying because they can’t get something as simple as a syringe. According to hospitals, they are bone dry in terms of supplies.

Even corporations like Coca Cola, and airline companies, are refusing to do business any further within the country due to the shortages of everything needed to operate.

This is the effects of a socialist government. One currently being championed by the left, especially in the form of its head cheerleader, Bernie Sanders.

You’ll recall that even Sanders refused to speak in detail about Venezuela, as he ran away from the question of Venezuela when it was asked of him during an interview with Univision. He did that – as I’ve explained before – because this is the end result of socialist policies.

As Vox.com reports…

“To take one example out of a million possibilities, it is now illegal for a dairy company to move raw milk from a collection center it owns to a processing facility it also owns 2 kilometers away without an explicit permit signed and stamped by a slew of government officials.

It is also illegal to fire a worker for basically any reason, including making threats of physical violence against a manager. And, needless to say, it is illegal to set your own prices: The state does that, often setting them below the cost of production, especially for basic goods. Under such circumstances, even “private” firms are in essence state run.

The Venezuelan economy today is a kind of caricature of US Republicans’ worst nightmares. The difference is that for us, it’s not just empty rhetoric: We actually do have a government that’s fanatically hostile to private enterprise and convinced that business poses an existential threat to it.”

If you’re still looking to support someone like Bernie Sanders, and the socialist policies he espouses, then this is the end result. We don’t have to make this mistake to learn from it, Venezuela already did it for us.

Yay capitalism.

The post Venezuela Runs Out Of Everything, Businesses Leaving. Still Want Bernie? appeared first on RedState.

Watercooler 5/31/16 Open Thread: [RedState]


7 Reasons You Should Vote For Hillary Instead Of Donald

Donald Trump is not worthy of your vote. He is manifestly unfit to be the president of these United States; he is perhaps the least qualified, most unqualified candidate to ever secure a party’s nomination.

New York AG Abuses Governmental Power, Goes After Domino’s Pizza

On Tuesday Mr. Schneiderman announced that he is suing Domino’s Pizza because he believes that 10 Domino’s franchise pizza stores in New York underpaid their workers. He alleges that the national company Domino’s is the joint employer of the workers employed by the franchises, and so they are responsible for the underpayment.

British mod movie Quadrophenia sequel is being made – 37 years after the original

A sequel to the iconic British mod movie Quadrophenia is being made – 37 years after the original. The new film will star many of the same cast members as the 1979 cult hit – singer Toyah Willcox, 58, Mark Wingett, 55, Phil Daniels, 57 and Trevor Laird, 58, and will start filming in London this summer.

Enjoy the open thread…

The post Watercooler 5/31/16 Open Thread: appeared first on RedState.

Watch Tom Cotton UNLOAD On Harry Reid And His “Cancerous Leadership” (VIDEO) [RedState]

Tom Cotton has gotten tired of Harry Reid. Tired enough that Senator Cotton blasted Harry Reid on the Senate floor, pulling absolutely no punches as he lit into Harry Reid.

This kind of thing has been building for some time. Watching Senate proceedings are usually sleep inducing but after another apparent pointless and hyper-partisan exercise by Harry Reid, Tom Cotton said to himself, “enough is enough.”

He took to the floor of the Senate and blasted Harry Reid for his poor leadership:

There’s nothing Cotton says here that is objectionable. Harry Reid has been one of the most despicable leaders in Congress in my lifetime. From calling Mitt Romney a tax cheat from the Senate floor to calling the Koch brothers “un-American” on the Senate floor, Reid has engaged in far more mud-slinging than governing.

This was well deserved and I applaud Cotton for doing it.

The post Watch Tom Cotton UNLOAD On Harry Reid And His “Cancerous Leadership” (VIDEO) appeared first on RedState.

This Is The Dumbest, Fakest, Didn’t Happenest Thing Hillary Ever Said [RedState]

Let’s skip the intro and get down to the brass tacks here. In an interview with New York Magazine, Hillary Clinton said this:

The sexism is less virulent now than it was in 2008, she said, but still she encounters people on rope lines who tell her, “=‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Here are the five things that make this fake.
1) I really admire you.
2) I really like you.
3) I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman.
4) They say that to me.
5) [Hillary] said.

Can there be anything less believable than this supposed thing that people say to her? Who is saying that? Who are we to believe is saying to Hillary Clinton from a rope line at her events “I really like you but except for lady parts”??

This is straight up nonsense. But it gets worse. Here is what the interviewer writes:

But, she maintains, “Unpacking this, understanding it, is for writers like you. I’m just trying to cope with it. Deal with it. Live through it.”

Here, Clinton laughed, as if living through it were a hilarious punch line.

Oh gosh doesn’t that make you ache for her? Doesn’t your heart just bleed? Yahoo has an article posted today that elaborates on the interview, discussing why men fear the ambition of women. I’m serious. They are acting like this is A) real and B) a truly heinous thing that Hillary Clinton must suffer through.

Sometimes, even after all this time, I just can’t believe the state of our politics and our media. Come on, sweet meteor of death. We all know you’re headed this way. Hurry up already.

The post This Is The Dumbest, Fakest, Didn’t Happenest Thing Hillary Ever Said appeared first on RedState.

Obama Administration Files Motion to Stop Judge’s Request for Info on Immigrants [RedState]

Earlier in May, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, based in Texas, placed sanctions on the Obama administrations Department of Justice lawyers, requiring them to take ethics classes, as well as to provide names and addresses of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants allowed in through Obama’s “Dreamer” executive order.

Hanen noted what he saw as deliberate deception, on the part of the Justice Department attorneys.


“In a stern order this month, Hanen determined that Justice Department lawyers were intentionally deceptive when they discussed in court how many work permits had been issued under Obama’s November 2014 immigration directive — calling the alleged misconduct ‘intentional, serious and material.’

Hanen is taking issue with more than 100,000 work permits that were issued for young undocumented immigrants between November 2014 and February 2015, when he issued his injunction that put Obama’s entire executive actions on hold. Those permits — part of an expansion of a 2012 program for young undocumented immigrants, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — were issued for three years, in line with Obama’s 2014 directive. The administration stopped issuing those three-year permits once Hanen issued his injunction, and worked to retrieve documents that were mistakenly issued after the order.”

The point of contention is that the DOJ lawyers covered up the fact that permits were being issued already in November 2014, when the administration’s executive action was not set to go into effect until February 2015.

On Tuesday morning, the Justice Department filed a stay motion, seeking to halt the sanctions from Judge Hanen.

“In a statement, Justice spokesman Patrick Rodenbush dismissed Hanen’s view that administration attorneys acted in bad faith, and argued that the judge’s order ‘intrudes on core executive branch functions.’ Other Obama administration officials warned that the order would have a ‘chilling effect’ on immigrants trying to register with the federal government.

‘The Department emphatically disagrees with the sanctions orders and will seek review of this matter in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals,’ Rodenbush said in a statement. Stay requests such as the one filed Tuesday are often a precursor to a move asking an appeals court to step in and halt a judge’s actions.”

The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services went on record in court documents to say that Hanen’s sanctions were a breach of the agency’s ability to protect the sensitive information of those immigrants who seek out the department’s help.

“Hanen asked for personal information only for immigrants who improperly had three-year work permits for a time and were living in one of the 26 states suing the Obama administration over Obama’s executive actions. That amounts to about 50,000 people, according to USCIS.”

The 26 states suing the Obama administration over his executive action on immigration are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The post Obama Administration Files Motion to Stop Judge’s Request for Info on Immigrants appeared first on RedState.

Donald Trump Finally Comes Clean On Veterans Contributions (VIDEO) [RedState]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers questions during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers questions during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Today Donald Trump held a press conference to clear up what happened to the “over $6 million” he claimed to have raised when he skipped the GOP debate in Wisonsin. Not unexpectedly, the presser became contentious as Trump blamed the media for actually following up on his claim.

If you think your brain can handle it, here is the full video.

The entire presser can be summed up in this tweet:

Via Politico:

Donald Trump railed against the media on Tuesday morning as he released details of the money he’s raised and distributed to veterans organizations, even calling out one journalist as a “sleaze” during a combative news conference.

Trump has faced pressure to release information on where the money went after he held a fundraiser for veterans in January in lieu of a Fox News debate.

Speaking with veterans behind him at Trump Tower on Tuesday morning, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said his campaign has sent off $5.6 million to veterans organizations, which he named one by one after railing against the media for coverage over the disbursements.

“I raised close to $6 million,” Trump said. “It’ll probably be over that amount when it’s all said and done, but as of this moment it’s $5.6 million.”

He also blasted the Fourth Estate, telling reporters that the media should be ashamed.

“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone said: ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’” Trump said. “And you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing a good job.”

Minutes later, he called out Tom Llamas, a journalist with ABC News.

“I could have asked all these groups to come here and I didn’t want to do that. I’m not looking for credit,” Trump said. “But what I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say, like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC. He’s a sleaze in my book. You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.”

He’s not looking for credit? Really? Then why does he mention it constantly?

If you’ve followed the story you know none of this is even close to the truth.

Donald Trump knew he was going to have his ass handed to him in the GOP debate in Wisconsin. He ran. You’ll notice a pattern here. He held a competing event that was dutifully covered by the media, an event in which Trump did not have to answer questions. He claimed that he raised “over $6 million.” In fact, he made that same claim as late as yesterday at his grotesque appearance with the “Rolling Thunder” group at the National Mall.

As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza points out, the only reason that veterans got what Donald Trump promised them was because the media followed up on his promises:

1. Trump said, on the night of the event, that he had raised $6 million for veterans groups. This from a CNN report of the speech:

He did it Thursday night, dazzling a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic supporters by announcing that he had raised more than $6 million for veterans in one day — $1 million of it from his own checkbook. “We love our vets,” he said.

2. Trump made the $1 million personal donation to veterans groups a week ago and only after WaPo’s David Fahrenthold did a deep dive into where the promised money went. That was four months after the speech/fundraiser where Trump trumpeted that he had donated the money.

What you saw this morning at Trump Tower was the press at its best, not at its worst, as Trump said over and over again.

As much as I hate to say it, I think Donald Trump has had the better part of this exchange. He has successfully changed the story narrative from the real one (cheapskate billionaire promises money to vets and reneges on pledge) to a fake one (evil press is again outfoxed by brilliant and generous Trump). Note that the coverage by the media doesn’t focus on Trump’s pattern of lies and duplicity in regards to this philanthropic effort but on the Trump vs media angle, an angle the media will lose just about every day as most of the GOP and large segments of the Democrats are inclined to believe reporters are corporate shills. It is almost like they are helping him win.

The post Donald Trump Finally Comes Clean On Veterans Contributions (VIDEO) appeared first on RedState.

Why Are We Still Discussing This Damn Gorilla? [RedState]

I’m being 100% serious about this. I don’t understand what the outrage here is.

If you did not catch the story, zookeepers shot and killed a gorilla that was dragging around a four-year-old boy who had managed to get into his cage. The argument seems to be divided into three camps.

  1. Those Who Apparently Think The Kid Should Have Died So The Gorilla Could Live
  2. Those Who Apparently Think The Gorilla Should Have Died So The Kid Could Live
  3. Why Is This A Thing

You can guess which camp I’m in.

Those in Camp One are either animal rights activists who probably also think soy by product is a suitable replacement for a steak OR they believe the mother was a negligent woman who deserved to have her child die by gorilla. It’s sort of like people who support Donald Trump, really.

Those in Camp Two are pretty much the ones who think, strangely, that human life is more important than the life of an animal. I would say I would be in this camp except I’d have not paid attention this long to the argument. Yet, I’ve been made to care, as Erick Erickson would say, so here we are.

I am in Camp Three because this should have been a topic of conversation for about five minutes.

“Hey, they shot this gorilla that was dragging a kid around.”

“Wow. Poor kid.”

“Um, I think you mean ‘poor gorilla.'”

“Your position is stupid.”

“No, yours is stupid.”

And they argument would drag on for a few more minutes before you both realize you’re arguing over a dead animal like cave men, except cave men had the sense to argue over who’d eat which part of the dead animal.

We have become a culture that is so outraged at everything that even mundane arguments like this become political. Camp One is primarily filled with liberals, who don’t value human life, and Camp Two is filled primarily with conservatives, who value human life. What’s so shocking is that liberals claim to be so pro-science, yet they ignore one of their sacred texts: The Origin of Species. Animals that can’t survive in the wild are doomed to perish while animals that can learn to adapt will grow and prosper. A lot of gorillas are in protective captivity, which means they violate Darwin’s Law.

This is mind-numbingly stupid. If gorillas can’t survive on their own, they should be allowed to die out. Humans adapted and grew. We won. Suck it, gorillas.

Also, zookeepers should be allowed to carry assault weapons in case of emergencies like this.

The post Why Are We Still Discussing This Damn Gorilla? appeared first on RedState.

Nevada ESA Decision Hopeful Step Towards Revolutionary Promise of Education Savings Accounts for Students [RedState]

A Las Vegas judge dismissed the case against the nation’s first near-universal education savings account (ESA) program, which allows parents to control most or all of the funds the state spends on their child to create a personalized educational experience. This is a win for students and parents who want more control over their educational decisions.

The case centered around the state’s Blaine Amendment, a century-old relic which prohibits public funds from flowing to “sectarian purpose[s],” written to restrain the growth of Catholic schools in 1877 when the public schools were openly Protestant and anti-Catholic sentiment was popular. With the dismissal of this case, close to 6,000 Nevada students who signed up for the program and their families are one step closer to educational choice. Although the program is still under injunction due to a separate lawsuit about state funding, the dismissal should give the people of Nevada hope. The decision comes at a time when ESAs are poised to revolutionize the American education system, with Nevada leading the way as the vanguard of unbundled, customized, and parent-directed education in the 21st century.

If 2011 was dubbed the “Year of School Choice” by the Wall Street Journal, the coming years are likely to be the years of education savings accounts. Five states currently have ESA programs on the books: Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In addition, more than a dozen states across the country, from Oregon to Oklahoma and Minnesota to Missouri, considered ESA bills this legislative session, with more expected in 2017.

Unlike traditional school choice programs, like vouchers, ESAs allow parents to combine the educational offerings from multiple providers and create an education customized to the exact needs of their child, whether the instruction comes from public schools, private schools, tutors, educational therapists, curricula, or via innovative technology. The next few years will likely see parents and students combining the best of various options; a high schooler in 2018 might attend math class at a local public charter, but study English literature at home with his father, biology through access to specially-designed labs, and history with an online community college course.

Critics may wonder how parents will sort through the plethora of options available to them in such a system, but a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council highlights three tools they will use to evaluate providers: peer reviews, branding, and expert consulting. In 2016, with the ubiquity of online product reviews about everything from books to restaurants, it should be no surprise that parents in Arizona, which houses the longest-running ESA program, have already created an Internet forum where they swap experiences and rate tutors and other education providers. Already-known education brands like KIPP and Catholic schools will be joined by new brands, created by entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, attracted by parents’ newfound ESA purchasing power. Expert guides, analogous to the U.S. World & News Report which ranks universities on recognized quality metrics, will help parents evaluate how educational opportunities stack up against objective measures of quality, such as nationally-normed test results or college preparatory expectations.

The ESA revolution is coming, and coming soon. In order to ensure parents have access to the broadest array of quality options, policymakers must be careful to create ESA programs large and broad enough to attract new education entrepreneurs to come compete for parents’ dollars. Nevada delivered as a national leader, taking the first brave step into organizing its education system around the truth that each child performs better in an educational environment designed around his particular strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.

Nevada’s ESA program is not out of the legal woods yet, as the thousands of students who have already enrolled wait for litigation to play out over an injunction over the program’s specific funding mechanism. But yesterday’s decision represents an encouraging step, legitimizing the needs of Nevada families for a truly 21st-century education, and dismissing the objections of those invested an obsolete status quo that continues to fail American students.

Inez Feltscher is the director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Task Force on Education and Workforce Development. More information is available at www.alec.org.

The post Nevada ESA Decision Hopeful Step Towards Revolutionary Promise of Education Savings Accounts for Students appeared first on RedState.

RedState Gathering Memorial Day Discount Extended [RedState]

At RedState, our thoughts and prayers are never far from our service members and their families who sacrifice every day for the freedom we enjoy. 

In honor of the Memorial Day holiday, we are extending our weekend discount, which offers $100 off our regular registration rate using the promo code SALUTE now through midnight. That means, you can save your seat for our 2016 Denver program for only $199 – the lowest price we’ve offered yet. 

RedState Gathering attendees will enjoy a weekend of inspiring speeches and panels, engaging activism training and evening networking receptions and parties with hundreds of conservative activists and movement leaders. Join us in Denver, along with Erick Erickson, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina and a full line-up of amazing high-profile speakers, as we rally just 90 days before the general election. 

We don’t take our freedom for granted, and we know you don’t either. Reserve your seat today, and be there to champion the values and fight for the issues that make our country exceptional and strong. 

The post RedState Gathering Memorial Day Discount Extended appeared first on RedState.

NYT: The Obama Administration Bullied their Own IRS to Violate the Law on Obamacare [RedState]

The New York Times had an astounding article yesterday about the lengths to which the Obama administration went to bully everyone to accept the dubious legality of their massive insurer bailouts; bailouts for which there was absolutely no Congressional appropriation. A Federal judge has already ruled that these payments were illegal, and the administration has appealed – principally on the basis that Congress had no standing to bring the suit, not that the payments themselves were legal.

WASHINGTON — On Jan. 13, 2014, a team of Internal Revenue Service financial managers piled into government vans and headed to the Old Executive Office Building for what would turn out to be a very unusual meeting.

Upon arrival, the I.R.S. officials, some of whom had expressed doubts that the Obama administration had the proper authority to spend billions of dollars on a crucial element of its health care law, were ushered into a conference room.

There, they were presented with an Office of Management and Budgetmemo laying out the administration’s justification for spending $3.9 billion on consumer health insurance subsidies. They were told they could read it but could not take notes or make copies. The O.M.B. officials left the room to allow their visitors a moment to absorb the document, and then returned to answer a few questions and note that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had been briefed and signed off on the legal rationale.

Does that sound like an administration that has any level of confidence in what they are doing? Here are the political hacks in the administration basically ordering the technocrats who know what they are doing into a clandestine meeting that’s shrouded with more secrecy than what was on Hillary Clinton’s email server and basically ordering them to accept the Obama interpretation of the law.

The really damning part, though, is this:

After failing to win congressional approval for the funds, the Obama administration spent the money anyway and has now distributed about $7 billion to insurance companies to offset out-of-pocket costs for eligible consumers. The administration asserts that the health care legislation provided permanent, continuing authority to do so, and that no further appropriation was necessary.

Mr. Fisher, for one, did not agree, and his testimony is the first to reveal that some within the administration challenged the spending. Beginning in late 2013, he and his supervisor began having qualms about how the White House was planning to proceed. In combing through documents to make sure his agency could defend the spending in future audits, Mr. Fisher said he came up empty.

“Cost-sharing reduction payments are not linked to the Internal Revenue Code, as far as I could tell, directly anywhere,” Mr. Fisher, now in the private sector, said in his deposition, made public last week by House Democrats who feared Republicans would release selected excerpts. “There is no linkage to the permanent appropriation, nor is there any link to any other appropriation that was indicating what account these funds should be paid from.”

This may seem like a fairly small, technical thing, but the constitutional prohibition against spending money that Congress has not appropriated is one of Congress’s most important checks on the executive branch. Especially in the era of the ever-expanding executive, cutting off funds (or just denying funds) is one of the few ways Congress can actively exert its will over a runaway executive. And here, Obama clearly ordered his underlings to just completely trample on this principle.

If the Supreme Court ends up saving this program, it will be a bigger injustice and threat to the constitutional system of checks and balances than either of the previous decisions in which it has rewritten the law to save it from itself.

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Government Subsidizes, Government Warps and Distorts – Government Bails Out [RedState]

My favorite joke about government and its inanity goes something like this:

A guy is running late for a meeting. He’s in his car – stuck on a single lane blacktop behind a county government truck. He can’t pass – it’s a double yellow line.

Every fifty yards the county truck stops and two guys jump out of the back. Right beside the road, one guy digs a hole – and the other fills it back up. Then back into the truck they go. Fifty yards later, same thing. Lather, rinse, repeat.  

After about the sixth time, the guy stuck behind the truck is steaming. He checks to see if it’s clear to pass the truck – and it is. So he whips around and up to beside the truck’s driver.

“What the heck are you guys doing?” he asks, infuriated.

“The guy who plants the trees called in sick.”  

Seton Motley | Red State | RedState.com

This is what government does when it sticks its enormous proboscis into the private sector. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t pick winners and losers – it picks losers at the expense of winners. (See: subsidizing non-green, non-energy like solar and wind – by taxing the likes of actual energy companies like oil and coal).

This government money warps and distorts the marketplace – as otherwise productively-directed time and effort is instead spent chasing the government coin. Producers produce not what the marketplace needs – but for what the government pays.

And because the government doesn’t have a clue what its doing – its coin creates unneeded surpluses of the things it subsidizes. So the government then spends more money – bailing out the producers it stupidly subsidized to create the surpluses.

The one government guy who actually has a clue – is on permanent sick leave.

We just saw this in India:

“The nose-dive in global commodity prices has had an unexpected repercussion in India: a giant new subsidy bill as New Delhi spends billions to mop up wheat, rice, sugar and cotton at government-fixed prices.’…

“‘This is a crisis of plenty,’ said Harish Galipelli, a trader at Inditrade Derivatives and Commodities.”…The (government coin) market support…encourages farmers to produce much more of the subsidized commodities than they would have otherwise, exacerbating the global glut.”

Government digs the hole – government fills the hole back in.

And now it looks like we’re just about there in Spain. From Politico Europe:

“Spanish farmers Thursday bewailed their historical – 20 percent above average – crop harvest at a time where prices have already fallen below €160 per ton….(Read it in full [in Spanish]: http://bit.ly/1qL35oJ.)”

Why have prices fallen so low? Because government subsidies created a glut – and the market is flooded. And bizarrely, the European Union (EU) is proud of of its contribution to this mess. So proud, the EU provides a level of transparency for which we can only wish here in the United States. Behold FarmSubsidy.org:

“The European Union spends around €59 billion a year on farm subsidies. This site tells you who receives the money.”

And the boasting doesn’t stop there. The EU has created a Spain-specific fact sheet:

“During the next 7 years, the new CAP is going to invest almost EUR 45 billion in Spain’s farming sector and rural areas.”

Government digging more holes with money. And it’s likely only a matter of time before more government money is thrown into the holes to fill them back in. Just like in India.

(#Brexit, anyone?)

Just about every country that grows just about anything has been stuck in this government money rut for decades. Domestically, it largely explains our age-old Farm Bill ridiculousness.

So here’s a thought – let’s negotiate our way out. Of our mess – and theirs. We go to the EU, India and anyone else growing anything – and trade away our subsidies in exchange for their trading away theirs.

Less subsidies mean less gluts – which mean less bailouts.

Food prices will then be lower – not because of government stupidity, but because of free market rational determinism. And we’ll all be saving per annum hundreds of billions of wasted government dollars.

It’s high time we all learn from each others’ mega-mistakes.

The post Government Subsidizes, Government Warps and Distorts – Government Bails Out appeared first on RedState.

Former State Department Inspector General: Hillary Is Full Of It [RedState]

Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K

Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K

Hillary Clinton’s standard go to excuse for using private email (she won’t address the use of a private server in her house) is that she’s doing nothing different than any other Secretary of State did. “They used private email, too!”

Except that is not true. She is not telling the truth at all about Condoleeza Rice and with respect to Colin Powell, it was not as cut and dried as she claims. And neither of them had a private server:

The State Department’s former top watchdog, in an interview with Fox News, rejected Hillary Clinton’s repeated claims that her personal email use was in line with her predecessors’ – while saying he would have immediately opened an investigation if he caught wind of a secretary of state using such an account.

Howard Krongard, a George W. Bush administration appointee who served as the State Department inspector general from April 2005 to January 2008, cited his own experience in challenging Clinton’s insistence that her practices were nothing out of the ordinary.

“Certainly to my knowledge at least, Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice did not have a personal server. I certainly never either sent an email to one or received an email from one,” said Krongard, who served during Rice’s tenure.

There’s more:

The day that report was issued, Clinton said in an interview that her use of personal email was consistent with predecessors Colin Powell and Rice.

“Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented,” she said.

But, as Krongard indicated, the May 25 IG report clearly stated that Rice did not use personal email for government business. It said Powell used personal email on a limited basis to connect with people outside the department, and he worked with the State Department to secure the system. The report found Clinton did neither.

The report concluded Clinton’s use of a private server and account was not approved, and broke agency rules. The report said by the time she became secretary, the rules had repeatedly been updated, and were “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated.”

This is yet another egregious lie Hillary Clinton tells constantly. That the rules were not updated until after she had left and therefore, what she did was allowed. The IG report directly contradicts those claims.

More in the video here:

This is starting to become the standard Clinton playbook. At first, claim everything was completely above board and within the rules. Then, “apologize” for bad judgement but continue to insist that what was done was perfectly fine all the while attacking the entire matter as partisan.

Now that a non-partisan source has said Clinton broke the rules, it will descend into, “Ok, she may have technically violated the rules but she didn’t do anything illegal!”

Let’s see how long it takes before that sets in.

The post Former State Department Inspector General: Hillary Is Full Of It appeared first on RedState.

Rubio on Trump’s Campaign Style and Running for Office [RedState]


Sen. Marco Rubio, during an “extended” interview on the May 29, 2016-edition of CNN’s “State of the Union,” talked reflectively about the presidential campaign and his future. Rubio said Donald Trump shouldn’t change his campaign style, and that he won’t be running as Trump’s VP, for reelection to the U.S. Senate nor for Governor of Florida.

When Jake Tapper asked Rubio about Trump’s campaign strategy to focus on the Clintons’ past scandals. Rubio said, Trump shouldn’t change:

That’s not the way I would have conducted the campaign, because that’s not who I am, right? This is who Donald is. This is how he does things. And at this point, I don’t think he should change if he’s been successful.

I may not like that direction, but, at this point, he won and this is the direction that he won on.

Asked if the door was still closed to being Donald Trump’s vice president, Rubio slammed it shut:

It is, because in my view, that wouldn’t be the right choice for him.

You know, Donald I think deserves to have a vice president, he’s earned the nomination, and he deserves to have a running mate that more fully embraces some of the things he stands for. I mean, I want him to be successful, because if he’s successful that means Hillary Clinton didn’t win. But we have real policy differences on foreign policy and on some other issues.

And I think he just — he would be better served by having someone more aligned with him on some of these things or someone who didn’t run against him and had some of the interaction that we had. You know, if I were his running mate, you could see the ads now, where they’d be playing back my words and saying, you said this about him then but now you’re saying something different.

So, I just think it’s best for him, for the party and for the ticket to have someone that more fully embraces his views on some of these things.

Rubio also explained why he won’t run for reelection to the U.S. Senate:

RUBIO: You know, it’s interesting. If my term had ended in 2018 instead of 2016, I might very well run for reelection. One of the things that bothers me the most was that article. It still bothers me in October saying Marco Rubio hates the Senate. Someone who knows him really well told us so. It just isn’t true.

I’ve never said those words to anyone in my life. I hated the way Harry Reid ran the Senate. I was frustrated at the way the Senate was operating. But I don’t hate my job in the Senate. It’s one of the great blessings I’ve had in my life.

TAPPER: So why are you leaving it? Why are you walking away?

RUBIO: Well, because when I ran for president, I really believed this. I really believed that if you’re going to run for president, you’re running for president. You’re not saying to yourself or your team, but guys remember, I don’t want to leave the Senate. So if things don’t start working out well, we need to get out of this race as quickly as possible so I can get back to running . . .

RUBIO: And the other is, look, I have a real good friend I’ve known for a long time who is running for the Senate. I didn’t run. I said I wasn’t going to. He got into the race. He’s a lieutenant governor of Florida. I think he’s a strong — Carlos Lopez-Cantera. He’s a strong candidate. . . . I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it.

TAPPER: If you didn’t have a friend running, might you reconsider?

RUBIO: Maybe. . . .

When asked why he wont run for Governor of Florida in 2018, Rubio said because he would have to leave the Senate immediately and you shouldn’t run for positions because just they’re available:

RUBIO: Well, because ultimately that would mean leaving the Senate and immediately beginning a campaign, number one. Number two, I don’t think you run for positions because they’re available. You run for a position because you’re passionate about what you can contribute.

And being governor of Florida is a very important position. But it’s not something, at least at this moment, and I don’t anticipate that’s going to change, in fact I’m pretty sure it won’t, I don’t have at this moment anyway, this burning desire to run for that office or some other office.

TAPPER: But the way you talk about what you’re doing in the Senate and how you want to change people’s lives when it comes to Zika, when it comes to human rights in Venezuela, when it comes to the opioid epidemic in this country, you do sound like you’re passionate about public service.

RUBIO: Sure. I mean, there’s a sense of purpose in getting up in the morning and saying, I just found out about something it’s really bad and I have an ability to do something about it, to call attention to it.

TAPPER: So why are you walking away from…

RUBIO: From?

TAPPER: … public service at —

RUBIO: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I’m not saying I’m walking away. If there’s an opportunity for me to run in the future and it’s right for my family, I’ll consider it.

There is much more to this fascinating interview– Rubio speaks about many of the missteps during the presidential campaign, the Clintons, and his relationships with some of his fellow presidential candidates. The interview offers you a deeper understanding of the man who is one of the best communicators and politicians I have known. I recommend the entire interview to you.

The post Rubio on Trump’s Campaign Style and Running for Office appeared first on RedState.

WAIT. Did Mitch McConnell Actually Compare Donald Trump To Dwight Eisenhower? [RedState]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. smiles while answering a reporter's question at a news conference following a closed-door policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. The Senate will take no action on anyone President Barack Obama nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Senator McConnell said as nearly all Republicans rallied behind his calls to leave the seat vacant for the next president to fill. His announcement came after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee ruled out any hearing for an Obama pick. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. smiles while explaining that he actually believes in nothing and therefore Donald Trump is the ideal candidate for him. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite;caption by streiff)

Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gives a wide ranging interview on Hugh Hewitt’s show. According to advance transcript received by POLITICO, McConnell has this to say:

“We’ve had nominees before who were not deeply into Republican politics and philosophy,” the Kentucky Republican told radio host Hugh Hewitt, referring then to Dwight Eisenhower. “But Trump is not going to change the institution, he’s not going to change the basic philosophy of the party. And I’m comfortable voting for him because on the big things that I think have the greatest impact on the future of the country. At the top of the list is Supreme Court. I think he’ll be just fine.”

I don’t even know what to do with that. While there is truth to the statement that Ike was not a partisan candidate prior to 1952, to insinuate that he’s like Trump is ridiculous. For starters, Eisenhower never actively supported Democrat candidates and he didn’t vocally support Democrat positions. Eisenhower actually had a very strong understanding of the US government, it’s roles and functions, and some very distinct ideas about how the United States should address its problems. None of those statements can be truthfully said to apply to Trump.

In a sad way, though, McConnell is actually right in another part of his statement. Donald Trump will not change the GOP or what it stands for. What Trump has done is reveal what the GOP stands for. And for that we should show some small amount of gratitude.

Trump has demonstrated what we have suspected for years.The GOP stands for nothing more than perpetuating the political power of a relatively small oligarchy that believes in nothing more than it should be in power. So McConnell is right. Trump’s nomination may represent a defeat for individual freedom and free speech. He might finish the work Obama began on our alliances and oversee their destruction. American influence will recede and the vacuum left will be filled by all manner of truly evil people. We may be dragged into an era of unremitting attacks on US physical presence abroad. But the GOP philosophy will not be damaged by any of that because there is no domestic or international policy that is really critical to the GOP’s identity.

Donald Trump has revealed the true nature of the GOP in a way that Failure Theater and the election of Thad Cochran never could. Trump shows that the GOP is not about policy or principle or sound governance. It is about, as my colleague Dan McLaughlin puts it, “rooting for laundry;” supporting someone because they happen to temporarily wear the same team jersey.

The post WAIT. Did Mitch McConnell Actually Compare Donald Trump To Dwight Eisenhower? appeared first on RedState.

Trump Earns Praise of North Korea’s State Media [RedState]

Well, you’ve got to hand it to the gilded toad. He does have a knack for grabbing endorsements.

I thought the Chachi endorsement was big!

From the Guardian:

“North Korean state media has praised US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, describing him as a ‘wise politician’ and ‘far-sighted candidate’ who could help unify the Korean peninsula.

An editorial in DPRK Today, an official media outlet, welcomed the Republican presidential candidate’s proposal to hold direct talks with Kim Jong-un, saying he could help bring about Pyongyang’s “Yankee go home” policy.

‘There are many positive aspects to Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies’,’ wrote Han Yong-mook, who described himself as a Chinese North Korean scholar.

‘Trump said he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North, isn’t this fortunate from North Korea’ perspective?’”

From North Korea’s perspective, I’m sure it is. Just as it is with Obama, when an American leader starts instilling confidence in and drawing praise from despotic regimes, it’s not exactly a good thing, for us or our allies.

“’This is very striking,’ said Aidan Foster-Carter of the University of Leeds.’Admittedly it is not exactly Pyongyang speaking, or at least not the DPRK government in an official capacity. But it is certainly Pyongyang flying a kite, or testing the waters.

‘For the rest of us, this is a timely reminder – if it were needed – of just how completely Trump plans to tear up established US policy in the region.’

The editorial referred to Trump’s speech in March, in which he suggested he would withdraw US military forces from Seoul if South Korea did not increase spending on defence.”

In other words, Trump has signaled his willingness to let those with less than noble intent grow stronger by holding our allies hostage to his demands. He’s not capable of grasping that North Korea is not our friend. If we take a hands off approach in the region and they get the upper hand on South Korea, it’s a bad thing for everybody, including the U.S.

“’[Trump]’s the Dennis Rodman of American politics — quirky, flamboyant, risk-taking. At the moment he’s also an outsider. But Pyongyang is hoping that either he’ll be elected [and follow through on his pledges] or that his pronouncements will change the political game in the US and influence how the Democratic party and mainstream Republicans view Korean issues.’”

The Dennis Rodman of American politics – that should instill some confidence in everyone.

The post Trump Earns Praise of North Korea’s State Media appeared first on RedState.

Most Conservatives Really Don't Deserve Western Civilization [Small Dead Animals]

"This, among other things, has forced me to conclude that the majority of conservatives (not all) are very much like most liberals and leftists. They view politics and economics not as the key to unlock and unleash the total potential of human kind, allowing us to drastically improve the lives of future generations, and achieve untold levels of greatness in our own. They view it as a religion, a therapy session, and a substitute for real and genuine accomplishment in life because they're too damn lazy to put any real work or effort into it. This is why after 40 years of Rush Limbaugh and 35 years of conservative talk radio, nothing has been achieved because, just like going to church, it's easier to bitch, whine, lament, rue, and mope, than actually put forth the work and effort. And just because they claim to be conservative doesn't meant they have a harder work ethic or know better. They just happened to be lucky to choose the political model that actually works."

Wynning! [Small Dead Animals]

If we don't tell him, he can't call us liars.

"The difficulties I have faced in accessing the information my office needs to produce relevant and timely analyses are much greater than I expected they would be," LeClair said. "Ministries have repeatedly refused to provide my office with information on grounds that are not founded in my enabling legislation."

Signalling. [Small Dead Animals]

Spending cuts coming, a deficit too in tomorrows budget.

'Pecking' up my vote. [Small Dead Animals]

Maxime calls for the end of supply management in eggs, poultry and milk.

I wonder what Martha Hall Findlay thinks.

Because What The Young Need Is More Flattery And Vanity [Small Dead Animals]

Thomas Sowell on dubious graduation messages:

Two themes seem to dominate Commencement speeches. One is shameless self-advertising by people in government, or in related organisations supported by the taxpayers or donors, saying how nobler it is to be in "public service" than working in business or other "selfish" activities. In other words, the message is that it is morally superior to be in organisations consuming output produced by others than to be in organisations which produce that output. Moreover, being morally one-up is where it's at.

The second theme of many Commencement speakers, besides flattering themselves that they are in morally superior careers, is to flatter the graduates that they are now equipped to go out into the world as "leaders" who can prescribe how other people should live. In other words, young people, who in most cases have never had either the sobering responsibility and experience of being self-supporting adults, are to tell other people -- who have had that responsibility and that experience for years -- how they should live their lives.

One of these.

Not two, not four, but 10 cores in Intel's new PC powerhouse [The Register]

Perfect for the gamer with money to burn

Intel has unveiled four new processors at Computex in Taipei, including its first desktop-grade 10-core processor – yours for the bargain price of $1,723 plus tax.…

Shhhh! Facebook is listening [The Register]

The great privacy farce continues

Facebook wants to hear what you have to say. Literally.…

Get outta here, officer, you don't need a warrant to track people by their phones – appeals court [The Register]

Location info not covered by 4th Amendment

A US Court of Appeals has ruled that police do not need a warrant to track the whereabouts of a person's mobile phone.…

Dig out that SPC-1 .xls: DataCore Parallel IO speed tweak may rewrite benchmark [The Register]

More VVol goodness

+Comment  DataCore has accelerated its Parallel IO technology's performance by 50 per cent with a v10 PSP5 software release, when run in its SANsymphony and Hyper-converged Virtual SAN software products.…

Michael Dell bought his PC biz for a bargain, must get checkbook out for stiffed shareholders [The Register]

Shares were worth 20%+ more than buyout value, says court

A small number of former shareholders in Dell could be getting a sizable payout after a Delaware court ruled the IT biz was undervalued when it went private.…

US computer-science classes churn out cut-n-paste slackers – and yes, that's a bad thing [The Register]

while(1) { copy_from_stackexchange(); }

Computer science (CS) students in the US aren't being taught properly, and their classes are too limited in scope, says one IT think-tank.…

These big-name laptops are infested with security bugs – study [The Register]

Bloatware creates easy pwnage

Computers from many of the biggest PC makers are riddled with easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities in pre-loaded software, security researchers warn.…

Qualcomm wheels out new set of Snapdragon Wear chips [The Register]

Wearable-friendly silicon is aimed at lifestyle IoT items

Qualcomm has announced it will be launched a new series of Snapdragon Wear chips aimed at wearable devices.…

Top EU data cop slams Safe Harbor replacement as inadequate [The Register]

The Transatlantic Limbo: Privacy Shield given a thumbs down by Giovanni Buttarelli

The EU's independent data protection supervisor has said that the proposed US-EU data sharing agreement, Privacy Shield, "is not robust enough to withstand future legal scrutiny" and has refused to endorse it.…

Prospect of fertilisation really blows bees' hair back [The Register]

Yes, literally

There's one thing that literally makes bees' hairs stand up and quiver, say boffins: small electric fields emitted by flowers looking to get it on.…

Scale Computing is a tiny fish in a small pond. Fancy its chances? [The Register]

It's a small hyper-converged world... and EMC swims nearby

Comment  Scale Computing is one of 13 suppliers attacking the hyper-converged infrastructure market. Not all will survive. What has it got that makes it distinctive and gives it the potential for success?…

EU bureaucrats claim credit for making 'illegal online hate speech' even more illegal [The Register]

Brussels bods demand Microsoft, Google etc keep doing the same thing

The European Commission has claimed the credit for getting Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to agree on a code of conduct which will address "illegal online hate speech", despite the companies already following practices demanded by EU bureaucrats.…

DDN: We've smashed bandwidth bottleneck. The IOPS will blind you [The Register]

Meet our bonkers burst buffer-driven system

DDN’s FlashScale (14KXi) is a scale-up and scale-out all-flash and processor powerhouse that can deliver headline-grabbing IOPS and bandwidth numbers - fancy a billion IOPS?…

Google is the EU Remain campaign's secret weapon [The Register]

Ad-slinger quietly pushes pro-Brexit views down its results

Google has demoted the site EU Referendum to “below the fold” in searches for the term “EU referendum”, where it isn’t visible to most web surfers unless they scroll down.…

ISS 'nauts to face Mark Zuckerberg grilling [The Register]

Facebook Live vid Q&A session tomorrow

International Space Station (ISS) 'nauts Tim Kopra, Tim Peake and Jeff Williams will tomorrow enjoy a 20-minute Facebook Live vid Q&A session with Mark Zuckerberg.…

65 million millennial blog bores' Tumblr logins ... for! sale! on! darknet! [The Register]

If we had, say, $15.38 for every user... oh wait

More than 65 million sets of login credentials for users of Yahoo-owned Tumblr have appeared up for sale through the darknet.…

Juno yields to Jupiter's gravitational embrace [The Register]

Spacecraft drawn to July rendezvous with gas giant

NASA's Juno spacecraft last week crossed the Sun/Jupiter gravitational boundary and is now firmly in the gas giant's embrace.…

Microsoft wants to fling money at startups. Don't all rush at once [The Register]

Good news if you're in Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv

Microsoft is stretching out its foot to dip a tentative toe into the waters of early stage investment, under a revamp of its Microsoft Ventures programme.…

Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform? It's an uphill battle, warns key partner [The Register]

'The reason to build a UWP app gets smaller and smaller'

Keeping pace with Microsoft's ever-changing developer story has not been easy. Just ask Infragistics exec Jason Beres, Senior VP Development Tools.…

Intel's new plan: A circle that starts in your hand and ends in the cloud [The Register]

Atom-powered home kit so ISPs can pipe VMs into your house

As predicted by The Register, Intel has created an x86-powered reference platform for home gateways that makes the box you use for broadband services an Atom-powered target for virtual machines delivered by carriers.…

Samsung: Don't install Windows 10. REALLY [The Register]

Microsoft and Samsung celebrate Windows 10 year of driver FAIL

Samsung is advising customers against succumbing to Microsoft’s nagging and installing Windows 10.…

Disk death: Three-quarters of PCs will run SSDs by 2020 [The Register]

At least, that's what the analysts say...

Total disk drive shipments are going to plummet by 2020, with raw SSD cost getting cheaper than disk and SSDs taking over from disk in notebooks.…

ISS pump-up space podule fully engorged [The Register]

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module finally fattened

The International Space Station (ISS) grew by 16m3 on Saturday as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was successfully inflated at the second attempt.…

Compatibility before purity: Microsoft tweaks .NET Core again [The Register]

Open source .NET will add legacy APIs to make porting easier

Microsoft's open source fork of the .NET platform, called .NET Core, will be modified for better compatibility with existing applications, says Program Manager Immo Landwerth in a recent post.…

Helium... No. Do you think this is some kind of game? Toshiba intros 8TB desktop drive [The Register]

Upgrades previous 6TB drive tech

Toshiba has upgraded its X300 gaming/workstation desktop drive from 6TB to 8TB capacity, continuing to sidestep any moves to helium-filling tech.…

UK.gov's promise to pour cash into SMEs was just hot air [The Register]

Professor lays spending blame at Crown Commercial Services' door

Analysis  Every government has always claimed to be the friend of SMEs – and with 5.2 million of them in the UK it makes an easy vote winner. But promising to do more business with smaller providers and handing over cold, hard cash are two very different things.…

Brexit? Cutting the old-school ties would do more for Brit tech world [The Register]

There's more than one Boris in this debate

Opinion  In the early 2000s the United Kingdom was the powerhouse of European science and innovation. For many young, aspiring scientists from continental Europe, this meant coming here to world-leading institutes and universities to pursue research not possible in the constraints of their home countries.…

You've gotta fight... for your right... to IT [The Register]

Don't step out of this house if that's the code you're gonna wear

Sysadmin Blog  Perhaps the greatest lie ever told is that the many are powerless against the few. This is rarely, if ever, true, yet is something that we are told every day of our lives until we believe it. This is especially the case when it comes to IT.…

Bletchley finds Hitler plain text war machine on Ebay, buys for £10 [The Register]

Rubbish-covered relic found in Essex shed.

A World War II teleprinter Hitler used in strategic communications with generals has been bought on eBay for £9.50.…

Bitcoin to be hammered – in an auction, that is [The Register]

E&Y to flog 24k BTC seized by Oz cops

Australia is getting ready to sell off a bunch of Bitcoin seized by police under proceeds of crime laws, in an international auction.…

Easy remote exploit drops for unpatchable power plant controller [The Register]

The fix? Kill features or replace

Unpatchable vulnerabilities have been disclosed in an industrial control system, of the kind used in power plants, that remote attackers can exploit to gain control of networks.…

Don't buy Azure in US dollars – it's cheaper in many other currencies [The Register]

Microsoft's exchange rates for discounted Azure can work in your favour

Microsoft is offering unintentional discounts to Azure users.…

P0rnHub revamps bug bounty, back pays cash, hires staff, after criticism [The Register]

Hackers get 'exclusive' PornHub tees

Pornhub is paying thousands of extra dollars to researchers who have already submitted vulnerabilities under its bug bounty program as part of an overhaul.…

Infosec newbie looking for entry level training? So is SWIFT [The Register]

Hacked transaction house wants US security trainee

International payments clearing-house SWIFT wants extra hands to keep its stable doors closed.…

Norks' parade rocket fails to fly, again [The Register]

Anyone seen our missing Musudan?

Japan and South Korea have had another live training exercise turn to disappointment, with another North Korean missile launch failing.…

North Korea clones Facebook, forgot to change default creds [The Register]

Government that already spies on citizens decides it needs a social network

North Korea appears to have created a Facebook clone.…

Oz infosec boffins call for mature threat debate [The Register]

Oh, and please order the money-truck, we need more

The University of NSW / Australian Defence Force Academy-run Australian Centre for Cybersecurity reckons the government needs to tip AU$1 billion annually into cyber-security.…

KNOX knocked three times by Israeli infosec boffins [The Register]

You've already patched the corporate Galaxy fleet, haven't you?

A pair of Israeli researchers has detailed their discovery of three Android / KNOX vulnerabilities in older Samsung phones, and it makes for depressing reading.…

Goa grabs Google, whispers 'come here, you Loon' [The Register]

Indian state wants in on balloon broadband trials

The Indian state of Goa wants to attract Google to the region for its Project Loon balloon broadband trials.…

P-TECH education program trial expanded (but not evaluated) [The Register]

Big Blue's colleges boosted with another $4.2 million

Why is the Liberal party promising money to recreate vocational training on an American model, when Australia used to have a working vocational training system of its own?…

Young Hodor made a beautiful ballad about being Young Hodor [The Verge - All Posts]

I've only seen the first season of Game of Thrones and as such miss out on a lot of memes. But fortunately, last week's Hodor / hold the door revelation was so easy for even the uninitiated to understand that I was able to enjoy the endless stream of bad jokes that popped up on Twitter.

But what do I really know about Hodor? Nothing! I've just been laughing at bad puns on the internet — at least until approximately 30 minutes ago when I was introduced to a deeply emotional ballad sung by one Sam Coleman, aka Young Hodor himself.

Continue reading…

Samsung's new 512GB SSD is incredibly small [The Verge - All Posts]

Samsung announced that it has begun production on its latest SSD, a 512GB NVMe PCIe fitted in a ball grid array package, making this hard drive smaller than a US postage stamp. Designed for the next generation of super-thin ultrabooks, the PM971-NVMe comes in at 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm, and weighs a gram. It will also "triple the performance of a typical SATA SSD," Jung-bae Lee, Samsung's senior vice president of memory product planning & application engineering team, said in a statement.

With read / write speeds of up to 1,500MB/s and 900MB/s, respectively, and the ability to transfer a 5GB video in three seconds, the PM971-NVMe is no slouch. Samsung says it will manufacture the SSD in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB...

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It's time you learned the truth about geese [The Verge - All Posts]

Think about all the instances of geese you know and love from popular culture: Mother Goose, the Drake-approved OVO x Canada Goose collab, Grey Goose (got you feelin' real loose). Take all of these warm, happy thoughts from your mind and throw them in the trash, where they belong. Because what I'm about to show you is going to change everything you know about geese.

Last weekend I went to Central Park and saw something peculiar:

I've never known geese to be violent, but this goose was mad. You can barely make out its tiny gaping mouth in this photo, but that goose is mid-hiss at the crowd that had formed around it and its goslings. You also can't see the two other goslings just out of frame in this photo,...

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Mophie releases an iPhone battery case with wireless charging [The Verge - All Posts]

Mophie has released a new line of battery cases for the iPhone that will allow users to wirelessly charge their smartphones. The new Juice Pack battery cases come with a wireless charging base that will recharge your iPhone while magnetically holding it in place, making it usable on vertical surfaces like in a car, or on a stand on your desk. The new Juice Packs are compatible with the iPhone 6 / 6S and 6 Plus / 6S Plus providing an extra 1560mAh and 2420mAh, respectively. (There's also a version of the case for the Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge.)

The company is calling its new line of wireless products Charge Force, and is offering a desk stand and vent mount right out of the gate. But it'll cost you if you want...

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OkCupid is now matching people by their 'flavors' [The Verge - All Posts]

Curation is hot right now, so OkCupid is going to curate dateable humans by their "flavor." Are you a hardcore cuddler? A cunning linguist? Maybe a kinky nerd? (Note: due to some confusion over whether I was making these group names up, no; these are the real "flavor" choices.)

Users can define themselves by specific flavors and subsequently swipe through those users. Here's how OkCupid describes its new match-making feature: "Flavors is kind of like turning vanilla ice cream into a sundae. You add the fixings like cherries and chocolate goo, and end up with something more satisfying."

Hmm. I actually don't understand that metaphor at all, but maybe I'm missing something? Oh wait, maybe I get it. We humans are all bland faces blending...

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Airbnb opens up a complaint center for neighbors to report problem guests [The Verge - All Posts]

Airbnb is beloved by many travelers for providing low-cost lodging in neighborhoods around the world — and is hated by many neighbors for creating disturbances next door. In a move toward improving its standing in some of those neighborhoods, Airbnb today announced Airbnb Neighbors — a place for people who live near Airbnb listings to report noise and other disturbances caused by guests.

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Slow-motion shooter Superhot is getting VR and motion controls [The Verge - All Posts]

It took two years, but hyper-stylized first-person shooter Superhot is officially coming to virtual reality. In a blog post, Superhot's developers have said they were "working super close with the guys at Oculus" to adapt the game to the Oculus Rift VR headset, where it's set to appear as an exclusive title later this year. On Reddit, team member Szymon Krukowski said that the game would use the Oculus Touch motion controllers, and that it would be available as a free add-on for the game.

Released earlier this year, Superhot's premise is that time moves only when the player does — you're put in firefights where the solution is not a twitchy trigger finger, but a careful eye on the trajectory of bullets and enemies. And a virtual reality...

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The Bachelorette, illustrated: welcome to The Chad Show [The Verge - All Posts]

The Bachelorette producers wasted no time in setting up this season's villain — Chad, a protein powder-guzzling alpha male, embodying the misogyny of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, and the daily caloric intake of Michael Phelps.

Tell me, have you ever met a Chad who wasn't a total douchelord? I dare anyone to step up with even just one solid example of a good guy named Chad.

Go away Chad

The dude is obviously overcompensating for something, because we start off the episode with a shot of him doing pull-ups with a luggage bag full of whey protein powder chained to his waist. There are a lot of things to unpack (lol) about this.

And because this is a Bachelorette recap on T...

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No surprise, Google Home is based on Chromecast, not Android [The Verge - All Posts]

When Google announced its Home speaker to take on the Amazon Echo, I made a big assumption: it was essentially a super-powered Chromecast device at its tiny little heart. Making assumptions is a stupid thing for a tech reporter to do, but turns out this one was accurate. Amir Efrati at The Information has confirmed from "a person with direct knowledge of the plan" that Google Home will be based on the Chromecast.

It's not a surprise at all: Chromecast and the Cast standard it uses are both one of the rare hardware success stories in Google's recent history. It also makes sense because of what Google Home is mostly meant to do: grab information off the internet and tell it to you in a conversational way. Sending and receiving bits of...

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British Diabetics [Transterrestrial Musings]

…rebel against junk-science dietary recommendations from the National Health Service, improve health. It would sure be nice if government dietary advice was actually based on science.

Supersonics [Transterrestrial Musings]

I’m up at ArmstrongDryden today, getting an overview on NASA’s low-boom supersonics program. The focus seems to be entirely on noise reduction, but I’ll be interested in hearing what they’re doing to reduce wave drag. Kevin McCarthy is here (I spoke to him briefly about some space regulatory issues), but he hasn’t spoken. [Update a … Continue reading Supersonics

Measles Outbreak Traced Back To Illegal Alien At Arizona Detention Center… [Weasel Zippers]

Oh goodie. Via Daily Mail: An outbreak of measles that began with an inmate at a federal detention center for immigrants in central Arizona has now grown to 11 confirmed cases. Seven of those infected are inmates at the Eloy Detention Center, and four are workers at the facility, Pinal County Health Services spokesman Joe […]

Lawyers For Clinton Aide, Cheryl Mills, Block Questioning On IT Specialist Who Set Up The Server [Weasel Zippers]

They don’t want anyone to say what is obvious…the private server was set up to hide her email and escape FOIA. Via Fox News: Lawyers for senior Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, during a nearly five-hour deposition last week in Washington, repeatedly objected to questions about IT specialist Bryan Pagliano’s role in setting up the […]

Poll: Half Of Voters Want Clinton To Run Even If Indicted [Weasel Zippers]

Liberalism is a disease, for some she could be convicted and they would still vote for her. Via The Hill: Half of all likely voters say that an indictment should not stop Hillary Clinton from running for president, according to a new poll released Tuesday. Even if Clinton faces a felony indictment over her use […]

Bill Kristol’s Independent Candidate Is Writer, David French [Weasel Zippers]

Via Bloomberg: Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French — whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine. French […]

FBI Wants Easier Access To Your Emails, No Court Order Needed… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Red Alert: The national security state keeps humming with little regard for the privacy rights and due process granted by law to Americans. Law enforcement is fighting to preserve a loophole to obtain emails without a warrant while trying to widen their ability to subvert the necessity of a court order, according to Reason. […]

18 Women Sexually Assaulted By Muslim “Asylum Seekers” At German Concert [Weasel Zippers]

Via Evening Standard: A group of asylum seekers sexually assaulted women at a music concert in the German city of Darmstadt, said police. Three Pakistani men are already under arrest after 18 women filed complaints that they had been improperly touched, fondled and groped during the festival in the city of Darmstadt. Police have said […]

Obama Proclaims June “LGBT Pride Month,” Orders Americans To “Celebrate Diversity”… [Weasel Zippers]

Fabulous. Via WhiteHouse.gov: LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2016 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION Since our founding, America has advanced on an unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union. This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, […]

Bernie Sanders Supporters Hack Texas Road Signs To Call Trump A ” Shape-Shifting Lizard”… [Weasel Zippers]

Feel. The. Bern! I'm not sure this is what @TxDOT meant for this road sign to say… #Dallas @NBCDFW pic.twitter.com/4iPldtM9gJ — Tim Ciesco (@TimCiescoNBC5) May 31, 2016 HT: Daily Caller

Obama-Brokered Ceasefire In Syria A Recruitment Boon For Al-Nusra Front, 3000 New Recruits Since March…. [Weasel Zippers]

Take a bow, John Kerry. BEIRUT — Al-Qaida’s branch in Syria has recruited thousands of fighters, including teenagers, and taken territory from government forces in a successful offensive in the north, illustrating how the cease-fire put in place by Russia and the United States to weaken the militants has in many ways backfired. The branch, […]

Hillary Clinton Hilariously Claims She “Won’t Get Drawn In On Trump’s Terms”… [Weasel Zippers]

Via NY Mag: … For all the hand-wringing about how she will hold up against a bully who has already made it clear he will attack her in the most shameless ways imaginable, Clinton seems extremely pleased about the prospect of running against him. “I’m actually looking forward to it,” she told me. “See, I […]

Official “Sanctuary City” Philadelphia Gets Hotline To Help Illegal Immigrants Avoid Deportation… [Weasel Zippers]

Via WaPo: Immigration has been a fixture of debate in the 2016 presidential campaign. The presidential candidates have expressed, shall we say, divergent plans to address it. With that in mind, The Fix reached out to Father John Olenick, pastor of Visitation Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) Roman Catholic Parish. Visitation BVM, a multi-ethnic church in Philadelphia’s Kensington […]

Hillary Clinton Sees Sexism: People Say, “I Really Like You, I Just Don’t Know If I Can Vote For A Woman”… [Weasel Zippers]

Kinda like the sniper fire in Bosnia. Via Yahoo News: The former secretary of state and Democratic frontrunner says she still encounters sexism on the campaign trail — even on the rope line. Hillary Clinton says while sexism on the campaign trail is not as severe as it was in 2008 when she first ran […]

UN Report Claims Moles Could Topple Stonehenge Unless We Stop Global Warming… [Weasel Zippers]

Yes, moles. Via Daily Mail: Stonehenge could be toppled by moles if the climate change continues apace, a United Nations report claimed yesterday. The world heritage site is one of many that is under threat, with other famous sites facing oblivion including the Statue of Liberty, Venice, Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands. The report […]

Trump Cuts Clinton’s Lead In Half To Just 2 Points In New NBC News Poll… [Weasel Zippers]

Pant Suits was leading 47%-43% in the same poll just last week. Via Politico: Donald Trump has nearly pulled even with Hillary Clinton, according to the results of the NBC News/SurveyMonkey weekly tracking poll released Tuesday. While Clinton is looking to wrap up the Democratic nomination with a strong performance in the final group of […]

Malaysia’s Parliament To Debate Bill Allowing Enforcement Of Strict Sharia Law Including Stonings And Amputations… [Weasel Zippers]

No different than what our Saudi “allies” do. Via CNN: A proposal in  to introduce the strict Islamic penal code known as hudud law is threatening to split the country’s government apart. The proposed bill was introduced in parliament last Thursday by Abdul Hadi Awang, the president of the country’s opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. It will […]

DOJ Files Emergency Motion To Stop Judge’s Sanctions On Them For Lying About Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions [Weasel Zippers]

Scum. Via Reuters: The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed an emergency motion to stop sanctions imposed by a federal judge in Texas that included mandated ethics classes for federal prosecutors, as part of ongoing litigation over immigration policy. The sanctions were ordered on May 19 by district Judge Andrew Hanen, who had ruled in […]

Read NYC’s List Of 31 Different Gender Identities You Must Recognize, Or Be Fined… [Weasel Zippers]

We brought you this story last week, but actually seeing the list that they put out is a bit stupefying. It’s not just that they believe this, it’s that they will fine you if you don’t also adhere to this nonsense. Just exactly how do I judge whether someone is a ‘two-spirit’? And what is […]

Watch Delusion On Parade: Jamie Lee Curtis ‘Plays The Woman’s Card’ For Hillary Clinton [Weasel Zippers]

WATCH: Jamie Lee Curtis gets fired up for Hillary Clinton at Orange County, CA rally https://t.co/MW7lb2ctJQ — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 25, 2016 She kind of missed the ‘attention to detail’ thing when Amb. Stevens was begging for security and when the folks under attack in Benghazi were begging for help. They never really […]

A Destiny Beyond the Crab Bucket – Kate Paulk [According To Hoyt]

*Kate is now in the process of becoming an American.  And this is why I’ll borrow beg or hitchhike to go to her swearing in ceremony.  She’s one of us. She won’t take that oath lightly.  And even despite the last 8 years and the present political insanity, she’s CHOOSING us.- SAH*

A Destiny Beyond the Crab Bucket – Kate Paulk

Nature or Nurture, DNA or Culture


In a sane world, the answer is “yes”.


It’s become self-evident that we do not live in a sane world. We have people trying to simultaneously claim that culture is race (that is, that nature/DNA is all there is) and that humans are endlessly mutable (that nurture/culture is the only factor in what we become). Meanwhile, some of the opponents of said mental midgets are claiming – without apparent irony – that DNA is destiny.


No, it’s not. No more than having poor parents is a guarantee of being poor one’s whole life, or that growing up in a slum means never being able to escape it. Unless, of course, you actually do believe that Nature, or DNA, is the whole sum of a person and therefore there is no free will, no ability to rise above one’s nature and become something better.


To which I say, bullshit. The evidence is against it. There is no tabula rasa, but there is also no predestined path determined at or before birth. We all, every last bloody one of us, have a choice in how we respond to the shit life dumps on us.


To claim that DNA is everything is to insult every person who has chosen to rise above shitty circumstances – to climb out of the crab pot, if one borrows Pratchett’s analogy. All of us have the ability to climb out of the crab pot that is our nature – but not all of us choose to do so.


To put it another way – all of us get a bunch of traits, abilities and so forth wired in. Some are more coordinated than others. Some are more intelligent. How we express those traits depends a lot on what our culture – both the local culture in our homes and the broader society we observe as we’re growing up – regards as the proper way. In Australia there’s an extremely strong streak of cutting down the tall poppies, so people with unusual abilities tend to be rather modest about them – yes, even in sports. The tendency is to attribute success to “luck” and misfortune to “not doing it right”.


The US cultures I’ve seen since I moved here are somewhat the opposite: success is because one worked for it and did it right, where failure is because you didn’t work or didn’t do things right.


Of course there are nuances: you don’t make broad sweeping generalizations without a boatload of exceptions. But the overall trend holds.


To claim that because someone belongs to X “victim group”, be it black lesbian unicorns with three legs or whatever they will always be this way is to claim that we are the sum total of our DNA and what happens to us – in short, that we have no free will and our choices are not our own. To reject this view and claim that DNA is destiny is equally short-sighted: DNA is the start. You can have genetic issues out the wazoo and adjust your life so their impact is minimized. You can let them hammer you and wail about your victimosity. Or anything in between.


Similarly, the claim that we in the West have to “accept” the atrocities committed by certain parties in the name of their disgusting ideology disguised as a religion is as bigoted as the notion that blacks or arabs (or anyone else, for that matter) are inherently more violent because DNA, and equally disprovable. Ask older American blacks (or check the statistics of the time): in the 1950s despite often blatantly bigoted policy in many parts of this nation, despite widespread poverty, there were a great many thriving black communities, with colleges and schools that – despite far less in the way of resources than their white counterparts – were the equal of many of those white counterparts, and the better of quite a few of them. The young men of those communities did not try to kill each other on a daily basis, nor did they make large swathes of inner cities no-go zones. Their descendants are hardly genetically different, as a group.


What has changed is the dominant culture: it’s gone from “beat whitey at his own game” – which ultimately leads to good outcomes for the largest number of people – to “whatever whitey does, do the opposite and call it good” – which does not. Why?


The Western culture, particularly the USA variant of it, values the individual independent from his or her ability to contribute to society at large.


This shows up in any number of little ways: the US habit of counting every live birth, no matter how premature, as a childbirth even if the baby only takes one breath outside the womb (which, incidentally, does interesting things to the US infant mortality stats as well as to the average expected life span); the notion of the three great inalienable rights – nobody else has this. Nobody. The other major Anglo nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) come close, but even they don’t go as far as the USA; the idea that an American – any American – is the equal of anybody else and this is why American Presidents traditionally do not bow to foreign royalty; hell, the arguments over damn near everything that spring up and get carried out loudly and cheerfully in public.


Nobody else does this. Every other culture I know about is less concerned about the rights of the individual than the USA. Even Australia, which in many ways comes closest, is more likely to favor the needs of society at large (and small) over the rights of the individual.


Thing is, as Sarah has mentioned a few times, when you allow the rights of the individual to take precedence, you get a whole raft of things happening, the majority of which wind up being massively beneficial to society at large and small because the misfits are able to spend more energy being themselves instead of fitting in. Hell, the non-misfits with bright ideas are able to spend more energy being themselves instead of fitting in.


It’s a small thing, but over the course of years and millions of people it adds up and you get the USA instead of, oh… Russia. Or China. The average Russian or Chinese person is no less capable than the average American, but both Russian and Chinese culture actively discourage individuality. The State, Mother Russia, whatever… these are more important than any individual Russian or Chinese life.


But be warned: America may be more resistant to the culture of conformity, but we’re not in any way immune. Our media and education system have spent decades indoctrinating us with the “society above all” culture and calling it good.


It isn’t. The radical American experiment has borne fruit far beyond anyone’s expectations. The poorest American has a standard of living more or less on par with middle-class Europeans (and Australians), and thinks this is normal.


Let’s not allow anyone who says race is culture or DNA is destiny to screw that up.

Rand Paul’s Heroic and Vital Fight against Global Scheme to Destroy Financial Privacy [International Liberty]

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) arguably is the worst feature of the internal revenue code. It’s an odious example of fiscal imperialism that is based on a very bad policy agenda.

But there is something even worse, a Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters that has existed for decades but recently has been dangerously modified. MCMAATM is a clunky acronym, however, so let’s go with GATCA. That’s because this agreement, along with companion arrangements, would lead to a Global Tax Compliance Act.

Or, as I’ve argued, it would be a nascent World Tax Organization.

And the United States would be the biggest loser. That’s because FATCA was bad legislation that primarily imposed heavy costs on – and caused much angst in – the rest of the world.

GATCA, by contrast, is an international pact that would impose especially heavy costs on the United States and threaten our status as the world’s biggest haven for investment.

Let’s learn more about this bad idea, which will become binding on America if approved by the Senate.

James Jatras explains this dangerous proposal in a column for Accounting Today.

Treasury’s real agenda is…a so-called “Protocol amending the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.” The Protocol, along with a follow-up “Competent Authority” agreement, is an initiative of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the support, unsurprisingly, of the Obama Administration. …the Protocol cannot be repaired. It is utterly inconsistent with any concept of American sovereignty or Americans’ constitutional protections. Ratification of the Protocol would mean acceptance by the United States as a treaty obligation of an international “common reporting standard,” which is essentially FATCA gone global—sometimes called GATCA. Ratifying the Protocol arguably would also provide Treasury with backdoor legal authority to issue regulations requiring FATCA-like reporting to foreign governments by U.S. domestic banks, credit unions, insurance companies, mutual funds, etc. This would mean billions of dollars in costs passed on to American taxpayers and consumers, as well as mandating the delivery of private data to authoritarian and corrupt governments, including China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Nigeria.

The Foreign Relations Committee unfortunately has approved the GATCA Protocol.

But Rand Paul, like Horatius at the bridge protecting Rome, is throwing sand in the gears and isn’t allowing easy passage by the full Senate.

…the senator is right to insist that the OECD Protocol is dead on arrival.

Taxpayers all over the world owe him their gratitude.

In a column for Investor’s Business Daily, Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center warns that this pernicious and risky global pact would give the IRS power to collect and automatically share massive amounts of our sensitive financial information with some of the world’s most corrupt, venal, and incompetent governments.

During a visit to the World Bank this week, I got a sobering lesson about the degree to which the people working at international bureaucracies, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dislike tax competition. For years, these organizations — which are funded with our hard-earned tax dollars — have bullied low-tax nations into changing their tax privacy laws so uncompetitive nations can track taxpayers and companies around the world. …they never tire of trying to raise taxes on everyone else. Take the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest attempt to impose a one-size-fits-all system of “automatic information exchange” that would necessitate the complete evisceration of financial privacy around the world. A goal of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is to impose a global network of data collection and dissemination to allow high-tax nations to double-tax and sometimes triple-tax economic activity worldwide. That would be a perfect tax harmonization scheme for politicians and a nightmare for taxpayers and the global economy.

But she closes with the good news.

Somehow the bureaucrats persuaded the lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve it. Thankfully, it’s currently being blocked by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Actually, all that’s being blocked is the ability to ram the Multilateral Convention through the Senate without any debate or discussion.

John Gray explains the procedural issues in a piece for Conservative Review.

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT)…aren’t blocking these treaties at all. Instead, they are just objecting to the Senate ratifying them by “unanimous consent.” The Senate leadership has the authority to bring these tax treaties to the floor for full consideration – debate, amendments, and votes. That is what Senators Paul and Lee are asking for. …Unanimous consent means that the process takes all of about 10 seconds; there is no time to review the treaties, there is no time for debate, and not a second of time to offer amendments.  They simply want them to be expedited through the Senate without transparency. …As sitting U.S. Senators, they have the right to ask for debate and amendments to these treaties. …These treaties are dangerous to our personal liberties.  Senator Paul and Senator Lee deserve the transparency and debate they’ve requested.


For those of us who want good tax policy, rejecting this pact is vital.

An ideal fiscal system not only has a low rate, but also taxes income only one time and only taxes income earned inside national borders.

Yet the OECD Protocol to the Multilateral Convention is based on the notion that there should be pervasive double taxation of income that is saved and invested, and that these taxes should be levied on an extraterritorial basis.

For fans of the flat tax, national sales tax, or other proposals for tax reform, this would be a death knell.

But this isn’t just a narrow issue of tax policy. On the broader issue of privacy and government power, Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard makes some very strong points in a column for the South China Morning Post.

I should be a paid-up supporter of the campaign to close down tax havens. I should be glad to see the back of 500-euro bills. …Nevertheless, I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states – and not just any states but specifically the world’s big states – at the expense of both small states and the individual.

He cites two examples, starting with the intrusive plan in the U.K. to let anybody and everybody know the owners of property.

The British government announced it will set up a publicly accessible register of beneficial owners (the individuals behind shell companies). In addition, offshore shell companies and other foreign entities that buy or own British property will henceforth be obliged to declare their owners in the new register. No doubt these measures will flush out or deter some villains. But there are perfectly legitimate reasons for a foreign national to want to own a property in Britain without having his or her name made public. Suppose you were an apostate from Islam threatened with death by jihadists, for example.

He also is uncomfortable with the “war against cash.”

…getting rid of bin Ladens is the thin end of a monetary wedge. …a number of economists…argue cash is an anachronism, heavily used in the black and grey economy, and easily replaced in an age of credit cards and electronic payments. But their motive is not just to shut down the mafia. It is also to increase the power of government. Without cash, no payment can be made without being recorded and potentially coming under official scrutiny. Without cash, central banks can much more easily impose negative interest rates, without fearing that bank customers may withdraw their money.

He’s right. The slippery slope is real. Giving governments some power invariably means giving governments a lot of power.

And that’s not a good idea if you’re a paranoid libertarian like me. But even if you have a more benign view of government, ask yourself if it’s a good idea to approve a global pact that is explicitly designed to help governments impose higher tax burdens?

Senators Paul and Lee are not allowing eight treaties to go forward without open debate and discussion. Seven of those pacts are bilateral agreements that easily could be tweaked and approved.

But the Protocol to the Multilateral Convention can’t be fixed. The only good outcome is defeat.

Three Actions to Take Now to Prepare for Hurricane Season [Blog]


Editor's Note: This post first appeared on the White House Blog.


Today we released the 2016 National Preparedness Report, an important guidepost in our work to build a stronger, more resilient America. The findings of this year’s report are significant. This vital information is analyzed to gauge the progress that community partners—including all levels of government, private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, communities, and individuals—are making to prepare for a wide array of threats and hazards.  We should be prepared for all hazards, from hurricanes and tornadoes to earthquakes and terrorist attacks.  

The good news is that this year’s report shows an increase in community resilience over the past three years. This matters because we know that the more resilient communities are before a disaster hits, the faster and stronger they’ll bounce back if disaster strikes. The bad news is that this year’s report also shows that the percentage of Americans who have developed and discussed a household emergency plan with their families has fallen for two years in a row.  We must avoid becoming complacent in taking deliberate steps to be prepared for the unexpected.

Being prepared for disasters is a shared responsibility among all of us.  And today, as we mark the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, I want to encourage everyone – families, communities and businesses - to take action now to prepare. 

We’ve been lucky over the past several years. The United States has not had a significant impact from a hurricane or tropical storm since Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.  But luck isn’t a strategy when it comes to being ready.  As we’ve seen too many times before, all it takes is one major hurricane or tropical storm to devastate a community, neighborhood, or family. 

When a hurricane hits, it can bring high winds, heavy rainfall, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and even tornadoes. Storm surge produced by hurricanes poses the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. The destructive power of storm surge can travel several miles inland, and large battering waves can result in loss of life, buildings destroyed and road and bridge damage along coastal areas. That’s why if you live in an area where hurricanes are a threat, you need to know where you’d go before the danger arrives and makes evacuation impossible. 

We are not powerless against the threat of these disasters.  Here are three simple steps you should take today to prepare: 

  1. Know your evacuation zone.  Evacuation zones are areas that may be impacted by hurricane flooding. Many communities have designated evacuation zones and routes to get citizens to safety. This information can often be found on the websites of your state, county, or town emergency management offices. If a hurricane threatens your community and local officials say it's time to evacuate, don't wait.  
  2. Download the FEMA app. With the FEMA smartphone app you’ll have all the information you need to know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.  You can also receive weather alerts in your area from NOAA’s National Weather Service, find lifesaving safety tips, and have access to disaster resources should you need them. You can download the app from the Apple App store or the Google Play store. The FEMA app is also available in Spanish.
  3. Make a plan and build a kit. When a hurricane hits, communications systems can go out, transportation can be limited, and it could be days before emergency responders are able to reach your community if you need help. Making a plan - and practicing that plan - helps to ensure you and your family are safe and ready for these challenges.  Your plan should include:
  • Family communication plan: Talk with your family members about how you will contact one another in an emergency. Know how you will check in with family members in different locations, how you will care for children or members with access and functional needs, and how your family will get in touch if cell phone, internet, or landlines don’t work.
  • Emergency Supply Kit:  A ‘go kit’ is a bag that contains basic items you and your family may need, during an emergency. Kits should contain non-perishable food, water, and other supplies, such as flashlights, local maps, and a battery-powered radio, to last you and your family for at least 72 hours. Visit Ready.gov for a complete list of items.
  • Pets: Many local shelters do not permit pets, but laws require them to accept service animals. Know what you will do with your pet if you need to evacuate.

We want everyone to enjoy the summer without having to worry about what to do when severe weather threatens.  The best way to do that is to prepare now and know what you’re going to do in the event of a hurricane. Planning ahead gives you more options and better control over situations that could become chaotic at the last moment if you’re not ready. To learn more about how to prepare for a hurricane visit ready.gov/hurricanes.


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