2015-06-29

18:07

I’m Tired [According To Hoyt]

I was going to do a real post, but Saturday I had 12 continuous hours in public — readings, panels, signings, the Baen road show — and it turns out I’m tired.

I really, really, really, really TIRED.[/caption]

 

Really tired.

I don’t think you understand how tired I am:

So I’m going to drag self out of bed, put clothes on, because I hear the TSA hates it when you streak and I don’t want them to do this:

Because they’re already annoying enough.
Then I need to get home (tonight) and make sure Schrodinger’s fish is still alive.

Tomorrow is back to my scheduled painting and staining, and hopefully only three days left on that, after which I should have Darkship revenge in a couple of weeks so ya’ll can:

So catch you on the flip side. Going to shower and pack now.
And I’m really, really tired.

 


#TheRevolutionWillBeLiveStreamed: Flynn/LaHood "Candidate Forum," on YouTube, at 7 PM Eastern [Ace of Spades HQ]

Andrew Breitbart's Wartime Consiglierte goes up against Establishment/US Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Partnership scion and Boehner Water Carrier Darin LaHood. Watch (not just listen) below. If the channel gets stuck, it might also be available here. Also, it's the top...

The New York Times, Which Refused to Run Any Mohammad Images Claiming They Simply Would Not Run Pictures That Offended Any Religious Group, Runs Picture of Pope Made Up of Condoms [Ace of Spades HQ]

You might say, how do they know this offends the religious? Easy. Their own article says the picture is drawing complaints from Catholics in Milwaukee. Their headline: Portrait of Pope Benedict XVI Made of Condoms Draws Complaints in Milwaukee Here...

Hillary Clinton, Get This, Edited the Emails She Turned Over to State to Delete Embarrassing References to Oil, Terrorism [Ace of Spades HQ]

Another story the media won't discuss. I saw someone note that altering official federal records -- which Hillary's emails are -- is a felony. Hillary Clinton withheld Benghazi-related emails from the State Department that detailed her knowledge of the...

Politically Corrupt, Devoutly Anti-American Supreme Court Reaches Randomly Into Its Grab-Bag of "What's Hot" and "What's Not" Rulings, Puts Texas Abortion Restrictions on HoldUpdate: "Gay Reparations?" [Ace of Spades HQ]

This isn't a full ruling on the merits, but rather a restraining order to keep the situation in place while the Supreme Court has a nine-man political debate about it and Elects a New Law. The part of the Texas...

Lawless, Politically-Rotten Supreme Court Randomly Rules that Obama's EPA Rule is "Unconstitutional" [Ace of Spades HQ]

Oh, I'm happy about the ruling. But I'm not going to pretend the Supreme Court is ruling on the law or Constitution any longer. This particular EPA rule bothered a majority of the Supreme Court, as it would bother any...

Three Essays on Post-America America [Ace of Spades HQ]

Charlie Martin: The Know-Betters Will Bring You Morlocks to Heel. In the 1850s there was an active political movement that became known as the "Know-Nothings," because they considered themselves semi-secret, and members, when questioned about the group, were supposed to...

So, Donald Trump [Ace of Spades HQ]

Republicans are starting to get kind of freaked out about this whole Trump thing. “Donald Trump is like watching a roadside accident,” said former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. “Everybody pulls over to see the mess. And Trump...

We're Living In The United States Of Calvinball. It's Time The Right Got In The Game. [Ace of Spades HQ]

"Other kids' games are all such a bore! They've gotta have rules and they gotta keep score! Calvinball is better by far! It's never the same! It's always bizarre! You don't need a team or a referee! —Excerpt from the...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

George Inness, "Kearsarge Village" (1875)...

Monday Morning News Dump [Ace of Spades HQ]

Ayatolah Roberts And His Sharia Council The OPM Hack And Obama's Politicized Federal Government Non-White Politicians Are Running For President And Liberals Can't Stand It Love Among The Ruins Why Big Oil Wants A Carbon Tax Puerto Rico Governor...

Morning Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

If you like this blog so much why don't you marry it?...

Overnight Open Thread (6-28-2015) [Ace of Spades HQ]

Quote of the Day I - Our New Reality Exchanges established by the federal government are exchanges established by the state. Rachel Dolezal is black. Iran will honor an agreement not to develop nuclear weapons. ISIS is a JV team....

Cat's Paw [Weirddave] [Ace of Spades HQ]

In the wake of the SCOTUS decision WRT gay “marriage”, I had a thought. I wondered if the decision was destined to be a gain in the long term for gay folks, or a negative. Thinking it over I came...

The Final Failure of Adjudicated Pedophile Brett Kimberlin’s Human Shield Strategy (Part 1 of 3): Tetyana Kimberlin’s False Charges [Allergic to Bull]

This is the latest post in what I half-jokingly call The Kimberlin Saga®.  If you are new to the story, that’s okay! Not everyone reads my blog.  The short version is that convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin has been harassing me for over three years, his worst conduct being when he attempted to frame me for a crime.  I recognize that this might sound like an incredible claim, but I provide video and documentary evidence of that fact; in other words, you don’t have to believe my word.  You only have to believe your eyes.  Indeed, he sued me for saying this and lost on the issue of truth.  And more recently when his wife came to us claiming that this convicted terrorist had threatened her harm, we tried to help her leave him, and for that, he sued myself, John Hoge, Robert Stacy McCain and Ali Akbar for helping his wife and he is suing Hoge, McCain, Akbar, DB Capital Strategies, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Patrick “Patterico” Frey, Mandy Nagy, Lee Stranahan, Erick Erickson, Breitbart.com, the Blaze, Mercury Radio Arts, Red State, the National Bloggers Club, and  others alleging that we are all in organized crime for reporting factually about the spate of SWATtings committed against myself, Frey and Erickson.  So, if you are new to the story, go to this page and you’ll be able to catch up on what has been happening.

This is the first of a series of posts I started, here.

So the main purpose of this post is to share a redacted copy of the charges against myself and John Hoge, which were voluntarily dismissed by the state late last week.  So without further ado, here it is, below the fold:


Do you have any... popcorn?
Now, first, you might ask why I continue to redact the names of Brett’s children (as well as personal information, like addresses and phone numbers).  Well, as I said here, I don’t believe in targeting Brett’s children for destruction.  While the fisking of this Application will happen later, you can see by reading that post and pretty much everything else I have said, that I am very consistent.  Of course K. Kimberlin, a.k.a. the “elder daughter of Tetyana Kimberlin” (as I call her to remove ambiguity), has testified against us, and you can make the case she has done enough to merit attention, but I still reject that argument.  We do not know how thoroughly she has been manipulated by her father, we do not know if she is able to even view what others say about her.  Brett makes it out to be something sinister that I say she might feel differently if she only knew the truth about what was happening, but it is not sinister: it is why I don’t hold her responsible for her conduct.  There is a reason why children of this age are not allow to drink, vote, serve on juries, even sue under their own name: because they are too immature to make these decisions.  So, bluntly, she has not yet reached the age of responsibility.

And, dear reader, if my moral argument is not persuasive, let me point out it is, practically speaking, a bad idea to target her, too, if only because it allows Brett to play victim and file more hare-brained criminal charges.  Never mind that he never explains how I am responsible for third parties, but he will try and try and try.  So even if it were not immoral to target her, it is just bad tactics.

Anyway, shifting to the Application for Statement of Charges itself, the first thing that leaps out at you is that this is nominally Tetyana Kimberlin’s complaint.  And there are a few things to note about that.

While I will save my fisking for later, there can be no reasonable doubt that she has outted herself as a liar.  There is an irreconcilable conflict between her prior Application for Statement of Charges against her husband, and what she filed in May.  Here, take a gander at it:


So in the new charges, on page 2, she writes:

They have attacked her repeatedly, directly and indirectly, through their online presence by falsely accusing Brett Kimberlin of sex offenses and insinuating and imputing that [K.] is in danger.

On the other hand, we see by her writing that she has accused her husband of “sex offenses” and in a document I quoted in this post she has insinuated that K. Kimberlin is in danger from her father.  She is literally claiming it is a crime to quote her and believe her.

It is a legal cliché to say, “were you lying then or are you lying now?” but only because it is the obvious thought in this situation.  It is logically impossible for her to be telling the truth in both Applications.

Of course, that raises several issues.  First, it might lead you, dear reader, to wonder if a re-evaluation of her allegations against her husband are in order.  This isn’t about what I can legally say.  Legally I can say Brett Kimberlin is an adjudicated pedophile for the rest of our lives.  You can, too!  Brett is forever collaterally estopped from denying that 1) he is an adjudicated pedophile; 2) that he seduced Tetyana Kimberlin when she was 14 years old and living in Ukraine (and he was in his forties); 3) that he brought her to Maryland and seduced her regularly while in that state when she was fifteen, and 4) that he even tried to seduce Tetyana Kimberlin’s cousin, who was twelve at the time.  As far as the courts are concerned, he had his shot and he blew it and he doesn’t get a second chance.

But even if I can legally get away with saying something about someone, I still have to feel it is the truth before I say it.  It is my ethical and moral duty.  And I continue to believe it is true, for several reasons.  First, as noted in this post, there were many reasons besides his wife’s accusations to suspect him of being a pedophile and of having seduced underage girls such as Debbie Barton.  Second, I know for an absolute fact Tetyana Kimberlin was lying in the latest charges and you, dear reader, know this too.  So we have the answer to the question: she is definitely lying now.  And there is simply the fact that other extrinsic facts back up her account.  For instance, the date Brett Kimberlin provided for as her birthday when he filed a protective order against her was not consistent with her being eighteen when she married him, as he claimed.  And so did Tetyana Kimberlin, before she exchanged a single word with either me or John.

The second natural question that this raises in relation to Tetyana Kimberlin is whether I should be angry with her.  I believe a good Christian tries to see where the other person is coming from and even when someone wrongs you, you should try to understand why he or she did it.  In her case, in a prior protective order (that is prior to my ever having spoken to her), I knew she claimed that this convicted bomber had physically threatened her, threatened to subject her to false imprisonment, and had been keeping her children from seeing her.  I also know he did eventually subject her to false imprisonment (her brief arrest based on his false accusation that she suffered from mental illness).  It is very easy for me to accept the possibility that this woman was either under duress, or she was willing to literally do anything to see her children again.  That is, I am not saying it happened, just that it is a reasonable theory to explain what happened.  That is not likely to be a sufficient legal excuse if the state chose to go after her, but it blunts my anger.

Of course, I am not going to try to go through the exercise of redacting her name any longer.  Originally, I did so in honor of her request for privacy, trying to balance that against my right to report journalistically.  But it is too difficult, and frankly she is an adult, and this is a public document that she consented to creating.

Still, since I believe she told the truth about what her husband did to her, if anything I am sad.  Now, she has destroyed her own credibility.  If she ever decided to file charges again—which was entirely possible—it would be instant reasonable doubt.  There are ways to shore up her testimony with extrinsic evidence, but it would be difficult.  And that may have been part of Brett’s agenda all along.  That is, his goal wasn’t just to vex John and I, but to trick Tetyana into destroying her credibility in the process so he would never have to worry that she could charge him with this again.

In any case, it goes without saying but I will say it: this charges are not true.  On Wednesday I will take these false charges apart, bit-by-bit.  The short version is that every allegation of fact in the Application can be divided into two categories: outright lies, or half-truths presented in a way that manifests a deliberate intent to mislead.  So, stay tuned for that.  And as for tomorrow, I will share my memorandum in support of my motion to dismiss, which is going to contain a lot of useful information.  How so?  Well, you will have to tune in to find out, won’t you?

And don’t forget the popcorn.

---------------------------------------

My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

---------------------------------------

Disclaimer:

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.


And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

A New Series of Posts: The Final Failure of Adjudicated Pedophile Brett Kimberlin’s Human Shield Strategy [Allergic to Bull]

This is the latest post in what I half-jokingly call The Kimberlin Saga®.  If you are new to the story, that’s okay! Not everyone reads my blog.  The short version is that convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin has been harassing me for over three years, his worst conduct being when he attempted to frame me for a crime.  I recognize that this might sound like an incredible claim, but I provide video and documentary evidence of that fact; in other words, you don’t have to believe my word.  You only have to believe your eyes.  Indeed, he sued me for saying this and lost on the issue of truth.  And more recently when his wife came to us claiming that this convicted terrorist had threatened her harm, we tried to help her leave him, and for that, he sued myself, John Hoge, Robert Stacy McCain and Ali Akbar for helping his wife and he is suing Hoge, McCain, Akbar, DB Capital Strategies, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Patrick “Patterico” Frey, Mandy Nagy, Lee Stranahan, Erick Erickson, Breitbart.com, the Blaze, Mercury Radio Arts, Red State, the National Bloggers Club, and  others alleging that we are all in organized crime for reporting factually about the spate of SWATtings committed against myself, Frey and Erickson.  So, if you are new to the story, go to this page and you’ll be able to catch up on what has been happening.

Always have plenty of popcorn when you
watch Brett Kimberlin fail...
So a few weeks back, I learned that I had been charged with a crime in Maryland again.  For those keeping track, I have now been charged with criminal conduct four times either in retaliation for constitutionally protected speech, or in an attempt to actually criminalize protected speech.  In 2012, just before Independence Day I got to tell a story I couldn’t tell because I was forbidden by a court from exercising freedom of speech.  This time, the victory is not as dramatic, but still satisfying.  Just before we celebrate our freedom, the State’s Attorney Office of Montgomery County has come to its collective senses and realized that free speech is not a crime.  In fact, they may have realized that one of Maryland’s laws is so flagrantly unconstitutional, it might be a bug and not a feature—that is, the Maryland Assembly might have made the law intentionally unconstitutional specifically so it would be struck down.

What do I mean by that?  Well, you will just have to tune in to find out.

So I plan to have three posts in a new series discussing the charges and my response.  One is about to drop today, because I won’t tease you along too badly. In that post we shall share the charges filed.  The next will be where I share my memorandum of points and authorities on why it should have been dismissed, which evidently they accepted... for some reason.  That will drop tomorrow.  And the third will be a fisking of those charges, pointing out how dishonest they actually are.  That will drop on Wednesday, or at least that is the plan.

So watch this blog, and I hope you enjoy these posts.  And I will update this post and the other two in order to link them together as they are posted, without noting the change.

And yes, you will need some popcorn.
  

---------------------------------------

My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

---------------------------------------

Disclaimer:

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.


And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

THE DRAGON WITH THE GIRL TATTOO [Tim Blair]

Fire-breathing frightbat Clementine Ford did not care for Sunday’s gentle review of her online behaviour. The seething sulphur-scented South Australian subsequently issued a…

TABASCOTASTIC [Tim Blair]

Weekday mornings are now tolerable somehow:

THE MAN WHO NEVER RETURNED [Tim Blair]

An urban folk legend is celebrated in song: He may ride…

ABC DISTRESSED [Tim Blair]

The ABC begs for mercy: Staff at News Corp have been urged to “resist pressure” to attack the ABC’s journalists, by the…

2015 FRIGHTBAT POLL UPDATE [Tim Blair]

Gillian Triggs maintains a substantial lead, although 2014 runner-up Clementine Ford has gained ground following recent campaign initiatives. Both 2014…

‘Between Kickstarter’s Frauds and Phenoms Live Long-Delayed Projects’ [Daring Fireball]

Really enjoyed this feature by Casey Johnston for Ars Technica on Kickstarter projects that fall far behind schedule:

By this point, fairy-tales about successful funding and horror stories of projects that end in abject failure or corruption have led most of us to recognize the volatility of any Kickstarter project. But lost between these two extremes is a long, sometimes confusing road that is invisible, and sometimes even inaccessible, to the mildly interested passersby. In today’s Kickstarter Web storefronts, projects appear so singular to their backers that any unplanned activity can seem more erratic and suspicious than it actually is. In most cases, though, delays are normal.

This underreported grey area between funded and shipped (or sailed) isn’t necessarily something to loathe. Rather, it highlights many of the reasons crowdfunding is worth protecting — even if some of the practice’s worst contradictory forces are at play.

Uber Acquires Part of Bing’s Mapping Assets, Will Absorb Around 100 Microsoft Employees [Daring Fireball]

Alex Wilhelm, reporting for TechCrunch:

Uber will acquire assets from Microsoft Bing, including roughly 100 employees focused on the product’s image collection activities. In short, Uber is absorbing data-collection engineers from Microsoft to bolster its own mapping work.

The companies confirmed the transaction with TechCrunch, but each declined to name the terms of the agreement. Microsoft handing Uber part of its operating expenses is minor, given the financial scale of the firms. The technology transfer is far more interesting.

Interesting in light of my discussion with Horace Dediu about the state of the maps industry on this week’s episode of The Talk Show — Horace specifically mentioned Uber as the next major player in the game.

Apple Recalls Beats Pill XL Speaker [Daring Fireball]

Apple:

Apple has determined that, in rare cases, the battery in the Beats Pill XL Speaker may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. This product has been sold worldwide since January 2014 by Beats, Apple, and other retailers.

Customer safety is always a top priority at both Apple and Beats, and we have voluntarily decided to recall this product. If you have a Beats Pill XL Speaker, please stop using it and follow the process below to send it to Apple. In exchange, we will provide you with an Apple Store credit or electronic payment in the amount of $325 USD or approximate equivalent in local currency.

[Sponsor] Meet Nest Cam [Daring Fireball]

When Nest bought Dropcam last year, it changed things. We weren’t just reinventing unloved things like thermostats and smoke alarms anymore. We were giving you a window into your home. And now that window is 1080p HD, with better alerts, better Night Vision, and a stand that can go anywhere.

Meet the new Nest Cam.

This Week’s Mac Power Users [Daring Fireball]

Speaking of podcasts, Katie Floyd and David Sparks were kind enough to have me as their guest on Mac Power Users this week:

Katie and David sit down with John Gruber of Daring Fireball to discuss the origins of his site, how he finds and publishes the news, and how he uses his Mac and iOS.

The Talk Show: ‘They Buy a Hole in the Wall’ [Daring Fireball]

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest and ace Apple analyst Horace Dediu.

Brought to you by these excellent sponsors:

  • Backblaze: Unlimited, unthrottled online backup for Macs.
  • Fracture: Your photos printed directly on pure glass. Use code “daringfireball” and save 15 percent off your first order.
  • Casper: An obsessively engineered mattress at a shockingly fair price. Save $50 on any order using code “thetalkshow”.

Inside a Pair of Beats Headphones [Daring Fireball]

Avery Louie of Bolt:

One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.

Fascinating.

Update: Sounds like this teardown is widely regarded as baseless clickbait. Marco Arment says the metal pieces are hinges at stress points, and are made from metal for durability. And here’s a YouTube video that makes the point even more clearly.

Update 2: It gets worse — looks like this is a teardown of a pair of knockoff Beats, not actual Beats.

You make the call [Don Surber]

This from "Occupy Democrats"?



Or this?


Nonsense. That cannot happen. We have all these rules. [Don Surber]

The headline in the Telegraph was a scream!

The world is defenceless against the next financial crisis, warns BIS.
Oh what nonsense. This is impossible. We have all these rules and regulations in place to protect us. We have the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the European Union. It is taken care of. We have as many financial rules or regulations in place as there are people in the United States.

From the Telegraph:
The world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crises, the Bank of International Settlements has warned.
The so-called central bank of central banks launched a scatching critique of global monetary policy in its annual report. The BIS claimed that central banks have backed themselves into a corner after repeatedly cutting interest rates to shore up their economies.
These low interest rates have in turn fueled economic booms, encouraging excessive risk taking. Booms have then turned to busts, which policymakers have responded to with even lower rates.
Claudio Borio, head of the organisation’s monetary and economic department, said: “Persistent exceptionally low rates reflect the central banks’ and market participants’ response to the unusually weak post-crisis recovery as they fumble in the dark in search of new certainties.”
Nonsense. This cannot happen. The rules and regulations and international governing bodies were put in place to protect us from a financial crisis.

Right?


"Exceptional Americans 1" goes on Kindle on the Fourth of July [Don Surber]


From Amazon: "Congratulations! Your book 'Exceptional Americans' is available for pre-order in the Kindle Store. It is available for customers to pre-order here."

Yes, its Kindle edition will be born on the Fourth of July. Which is Saturday. The Kindle edition will be $2.99 (the minimum) and 99 cents if you bought the print edition.

To celebrate, I cut the price to $14.75 through July 31st for the print edition, a savings of $5. If you want an autographed copy, contact me at
DonSurber@gmail.com.

Mr. 401-k [Don Surber]

I like today's vignette so much, I may marry it.

     In 1980, Ted Benna was fed up with the pension consultant business. Instead of looking for ways to help employees when they retired, employers were looking out for themselves and seeking tax deductions, while minimizing pensions.
     In 2002, he said, "I had been thinking of getting out of consulting and working for a ministry of some type, and that's where the prayer came in. It was during this period that the 401-k hit out of the blue."
     The 401-k was a page-and-a-quarter of the 1978 Tax Reform Act. It allowed companies to set up defined contribution plans in which employees put money in, invest it, and collect the money when they retire. No one envisioned what Benna did with the 401-k, and it is doubtful Congress intended it that way. Unions have come to oppose defined contribution plans. Perhaps because the 401-k makes it easier for workers to participate in capitalism.
     He was working on refining the pension plan of Cheltenham National Bank of Philadelphia in 1980. He had gone into work on Saturday where he would not be distracted by colleagues and phone calls, he read the code and had a Eureka moment. He credits God for the discovery, and who am I to argue with him?
     Benna's plan was brilliant, because it allowed pre-tax payroll deductions of the money, and allowed employers to match some of the investment to encourage hourly workers to save money for retirement by investing their savings in mutual funds. Because it was retirement money, this forced workers to think in the long term and not worry about day-to-day changes in the market.
     But his plan was not in the law. Benna wrote it. None of that was in the 401-k legislation. Unsure of the legality of his plan, Cheltenham National Bank. He said, "My approach was that if the code doesn't say thou shalt not, then thou should be able to."
     Johnson Cos., an insurance and finance company in Newtown, Pennsylvania, was the first to take the plunge. Benna received initial approval from the Internal Revenue Service, which later promulgated regulations enabling Benna's plan.
     More than 30 years later, the 401-k is now a $4 trillion industry. Roughly $2.5 trillion is invested in equities. The rollout of the 401-k coincided with three of the best bull markets in America as in a little over 30 years, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose from 2,000 points to 18,000.
     “I knew it was going to be big, but I was certainly not anticipating that it would be the primary way people would be accumulating money for retirement 30 plus years later. There is a perception out there that we had a wonderful retirement system that became horrible. I started work in the insurance industry in 1960, and the only retirement they had was a defined-benefit plan. If you were male, you had to be age 30 before you became a participant and if you were female you had to be age 35, which was an interesting twist. And you had to stay there until you reached 60 before you got any benefit,” Benna, 73, told Workforce magazine.
     Defined benefit plans -- "guarantees" of a set amount of money when one retires -- have their pitfalls, not the least of which is the company going bankrupt, although since 1974 companies have had to buy insurance for their pension plans.
     However, he believes workers are overwhelmed by the choices they have thrown at them. In the beginning, there were two: guaranteed and equity. But despite wild media headlines, he is not a Frankenstein regretting his "monster." Benna is happy with his creation, he simply believes the choices now are too many.
     "What's been most rewarding for me is that this is a program for the average worker, not the top characters. I've had people come up to me and thank me for inventing the plan because they could not have saved as much, or at all, otherwise," he said.
     Benna should be proud. The 401-k allows workers to transcend from the patriarchal employer who handed you a gold watch and a small pension at 65 to an individual with a six-figure account when he decides to retire at 59 1/2.
     "I don't take credit personally for developing the plan. I feel that I was divinely led to the 401-k," Benna said.
     Hey, 2,000 years ago, the Lord fed us using only five loaves and two fish. Who is to say He doesn't want us socking away money for our retirement? To paraphrase Benna, until the Lord says thou shalt not, thou should.


My first collection of "Exceptional Americans" is available here. And the Kindle version is here.

Reuters: Samsung won’t give up on Tizen OS, plans more phones this year [Ars Technica]

Samsung still loves its home-grown operating system. A report from Reuters says the company is planning more Tizen phones for 2015, and they'll come in at "varying prices."

Samsung's existing Tizen smartphone lineup consists of one device: The $92 Samsung Z1. The phone launched in January 2015, and since then it has sold over a million units. Apparently, the Z1 was even the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh.

We reviewed the Samsung Z1 a few months ago, and we can say that those million users are getting a terrible smartphone experience. Tizen has very few apps, and it makes a lot of weird UI decisions (like home screen pages that won't display apps, only widgets). Worst of all, Tizen feels like a cheap knockoff of an old version of Android. Android is free, and the base platform is open source, so if you aren't going to do something different, don't bother. "Cloning" an open source product is a waste of time.

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Warrantless phone tapping, e-mail spying inching to Supreme Court review [Ars Technica]

In 2013, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a once-clandestine warrantless surveillance program that gobbles up Americans' electronic communications—a project secretly adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks on the United States. Congress legalized the surveillance in 2008 and again in 2012 after it was exposed by The New York Times.

Human-rights activists and journalists brought the Supreme Court challenge amid claims that the FISA Amendments Act was chilling their speech. But the Supreme Court tossed the case, telling the challengers' lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union to bring proof by real targets of the warrantless e-mail and phone surveillance. In a 5-4 ruling (PDF) by Justice Samuel Alito at the time, the court said the case was based on "assumptions" and that the plaintiffs "merely speculate" that they were being spied upon.

Fast forward to the present day: a US resident of Brooklyn, New York, accused of sending $1,000 to a Pakistani terror group has won the right to become the nation's second defendant to challenge the surveillance at the appellate level. This could mean a Supreme Court bid is likely several months or more away.

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3taps to pay Craigslist $1 million to end lengthy lawsuit, will shut down [Updated] [Ars Technica]

The years-long legal battle between Craigslist and 3taps has finally come to a close, resulting in the longstanding case being settled. 3taps will shut down, and the company agreed to pay Craigslist $1 million as part of the settlement. Craigslist will in turn donate that money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation—$100,000 each year over the next 10 years.

The case began in July 2012 when Craigslist sued PadMapper, a site that created a better interface for Craigslist apartment listings, and 3taps, which scraped Craigslist data and made it available to other websites.

Craigslist accused both PadMapper and 3taps of copyright infringement, breach of contract, trademark infringement, and unfair competition among other allegations. Months later, 3taps counter-sued. Both suits will now end as a result of the settlement.

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Valve sells out of “early bird” pre-orders for Steam hardware [Ars Technica]

If you've been putting off pre-ordering Valve's upcoming Steam Link or Steam Controller hardware since the devices first went on pre-sale earlier this month, we have some bad news. Valve has announced that it has sold out of units for the initial "get it early" offer (with its expected delivery on October 16). Any orders placed from now on will instead be delivered weeks later on November 10.

You may have also missed your chance to get early delivery of the first commercial "Steam Machines" pre-loaded with SteamOS. Any orders for the Alienware Steam Machines placed through GameStop since last Thursday will now be shipped November 10 rather than October 16. Syber now lists a ship date "on or after 10/15/2015" for its first wave of Steam Machines.

Valve hasn't responded to a request regarding just how many of either unit has sold so far, so it's hard to tell whether it's low supply, healthy demand, or some combination that led to the "early bird" sell out just a few weeks after its announcement. We also have no idea what kind of supplies Valve has planned for the wider availability in November. In any case, if you want to be among the first to see how Valve handles itself outside of the software realm, we wouldn't recommend putting it off any longer.

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The violent origin of quasars [Ars Technica]

A little over 12 billion years ago, more than seven billion years before the Earth and Sun had formed, there was an epoch that marked the Universe's peak of star formation as well as black hole growth. It's during this period that the black holes that lie at the heart of every galaxy were expanding to supermassive proportions. The brightest and most active of these are called quasars, for "quasi-stellar radio source." These can be, on their own, up to 100 times brighter than the combined light from our own Milky Way galaxy's 200 to 400 billion stars.

To shine so brightly, they need to feed on an incredible amount of matter, producing light as the infalling material heats up due to friction. Where this material comes from is not well understood, but a new study using the Hubble Space Telescope may have an answer.

One model held that quasars are formed when two galaxies collide. The mash-up of both galaxies’ material could cause a lot of it to fall in toward the new galaxy’s core, thus providing fuel for the quasar. This material is normally held in place by angular momentum, but its orbital path can get disrupted as the two galaxies move through each other, leading it to fall in toward the core of the newly merged galaxy.

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Days after taxi union protests, French authorities take Uber execs into custody [Ars Technica]

On Monday, French authorities took two Uber executives into custody for questioning as part of an investigation into UberPop, the startup’s lower cost alternative.

Local media have named the men as Thibaut Simphal, the CEO for France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the CEO for Western Europe. Under French law, both men can be held for up to 48 hours without being charged.

"Our general managers for France and Western Europe today attended a hearing with the French police," Gareth Mead, an Uber spokesman, told Ars in a statement. "We are always happy to answer questions the authorities have about our service—and look forward to resolving these issues. Those discussions are ongoing. In the meantime, we’re continuing to ensure the safety of our riders and drivers in France given last week's disturbances."

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Some images from India [Ars Technica]

With most of my recent work trips, the schedule featured packed days of filming and interviewing. The days were long, and I was pretty engaged with the process for most of the time. So when they were all over, I generally just felt like passing out, which meant going back to the hotel, grabbing some food and beer, and going to sleep (jet lag permitting).

My recent trip to India was great because the filming took place on Friday and Monday, which meant a weekend of exploring Bangalore. Conveniently, one of the local film crew was serving as our guide in order to help us get some of the city on film. After a short time at a historic building and one of the city’s many parks, the heat began to really hit hard—even the locals were complaining about it. So we decided to wait out a bit of the afternoon in the obvious location: a brewery. Which was excellent.

When we finally returned to action in the evening, our destination was Commercial Street, which is exactly what its name implies: a hub of commerce. It and several of the surrounding streets were jam-packed with shops, most of them selling consumer goods. This probably isn’t the best place to go if you want locally made handicrafts. But if you're looking to buy, say, women’s sandals, there are about 30 different shops anxious to cater to your needs.

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Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle [Ars Technica]

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google's appeal of the Google-Oracle API copyright dispute. The high court's move lets stand an appellate court's decision that application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protections.

Here is how we described the issue in our earlier coverage:

The dispute centers on Google copying names, declarations, and header lines of the Java APIs in Android. Oracle filed suit, and in 2012, a San Francisco federal judge sided with Google. The judge ruled that the code in question could not be copyrighted. Oracle prevailed on appeal, however. A federal appeals court ruled that the "declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection."

Google maintained that the code at issue is not entitled to copyright protection because it constitutes a "method of operation" or "system" that allows programs to communicate with one another.

The high court did not comment Monday about the case when announcing that it had decided against reviewing it. However, the court's announcement comes a month after the Justice Department sided with Oracle and told the justices that APIs are copyrightable (PDF).

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Halo 5 listing, dev statement confirm end of series’ local multiplayer [Updated] [Ars Technica]

The explosive gunplay of Halo 5: Guardians, particularly its new Warzone online mode, made a nice showing at this month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but the game's developers at 343 also disappointed fans with a June backtrack on a prior promise. The game's campaign mode will revolve around four-player co-op play, but players who want to team up with friends in that campaign will need to hop online—meaning, no split-screen campaign options for friends on the same couch.

On Sunday afternoon, the backtracking continued for Halo fans who like to play split-screen versus modes on the same screen. A Halo fan on Twitter, named Ben Van Riper, took a screencap of Halo 5's Xbox One pre-order listing, which currently lists a one-player limit on a single console, along with a "2-24 player" count for online multiplayer.

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Iraqi government shut down Internet to… prevent exam cheating? [Ars Technica]

A year after Iraqi officials ordered the shutdown of Internet access in nearly a quarter of the country to limit the ability of ISIS to communicate, the government ordered a complete shutdown of Internet service in the country for three hours on Saturday, June 27. A shorter interruption followed today. At least one of these outages was apparently intended to block a different sort of message traffic: the sharing of answers for national exams for entry into junior high school.

The outage began at 5:00am in Iraq and lasted until 8:00am, based on data from Dyn Research. According to the Egypt-based Arabic news service El Hadas, the outage corresponded to "the start of the sixth ministerial preparatory exams"—the national tests for entry into junior high school. In Iraq, education is only required for all students up to the sixth-grade level; those who fail to score well enough on exams at the end of the sixth year generally don't continue their education.

With that kind of high-pressure testing, the motivation for cheating is high as well—so high that the government decided to shut down Internet access to prevent parents or others from remotely assisting students during the exams. It's not clear whether the brief outage today (which lasted about an hour, starting at 5:00am again) was also connected to testing.

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Apple Music supports iTunes Match-like song uploads, 100k song limit in iOS 9 [Ars Technica]

We've known most of the big details about Apple Music since Apple officially announced it at WWDC earlier this month: it launches on June 30, it costs $10 per month or $15 per month for families of up to six people, and it comes with a three-month free trial that up until recently was causing some grief for Taylor Swift and other independent artists. But questions about how it would interact with other paid Apple services, most notably iTunes Match, remained.

Apple software and services SVP Eddy Cue took to Twitter to answer some questions yesterday, and now we know more: Apple Music will include song-matching functionality similar to iTunes Match. If a song you have in your library isn't present in the Apple Music library or in your iTunes purchases, you should be able to upload it to Apple and play it from any device associated with your Apple ID. Apple has been pretty evasive about the depth and breadth of the Apple Music library—we only know that it won't include everything in the regular iTunes Store, but new deals are still being struck—so this should come as a comfort to people with specific tracks that don't end up in the catalog.

In iOS 8, Cue says that Apple Music will stick to iTunes Match's 25,000-song limit. In iOS 9, the company is "working" to increase that limit to 100,000 songs.

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Microsoft claims to have developed superior Oculus Rift lenses [Ars Technica]

Microsoft might well be enjoying a cosy relationship with Oculus VR these days, but that hasn't stopped one employee from picking holes in the headset's design. A freely downloadable CAD file has popped up online at Microsoft Research, with the group claiming to have developed a superior lens design than the one currently inhabiting the Oculus Rift DK2 headset.

According to the CAD project's readme file, the new lens design features a field of view that's "slightly smaller than the stock lens, but it is sharper across the field and has far less chromatic aberration." Example images show that the smaller field of view doesn't result in Hololens-like limitations, while also substantially improving the image quality.

The lens, which was developed by the a new "LensFactory program" at Microsoft Research, can be purchased from Edmund Optics, and the housing can be 3D printed using a high-end Objet Eden 260 3D printer. The readme file notes that the company hasn't tested any other printer, but that you may encounter "issues with hobbyist FDM printers, because the thin crush ribs that hold the lens elements in place may not print properly."

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In high-stakes copyright suit, Cox’s “top infringers” beg for privacy [Ars Technica]

In November, BMG Music and Round Hill Music did what some copyright holders have long threatened: they sued a large ISP, Cox Communications, seeking to hold it responsible for the piracy taking place on its network.

Cox wasn't forwarding infringement notices sent out by Rightscorp, the digital copyright enforcer BMG and Round Hill had hired to send out millions of notices. (That company famously offers to settle copyright claims for $20 per song.) By effectively protecting determined pirates on its system, Cox was violating copyright law, BMG lawyers argue.

It's a case that has potentially big ramifications, and it's a gamble for the music publisher plaintiffs. If a judge finds Cox liable for the actions of users on its network, it will have implications for the whole cable industry. If a ruling goes the other way, the little leverage that an anti-piracy outfit like Rightscorp has could evaporate.

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SpaceX launch failure blamed on upper stage oxygen tank [Ars Technica]

Following an ontime liftoff at 10:21am on Sunday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an unmanned Dragon cargo vehicle broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon’s first two minutes of its flight to the International Space Station were flawless; however, approximately 139 seconds into the mission and just prior to the first stage separation, the vehicle disintegrated.

This is the first failure of the Falcon 9 for the California-based SpaceX. Since its maiden liftoff in 2010, the company has celebrated a total of 18 successful launches. The Falcon 9 rocket is composed of two stages, with the first stage shut down—also known as main engine cutoff (MECO)—occurring approximately 159 seconds into the flight. However, approximately 20 seconds before that, the vehicle experienced an anomaly.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted an update soon after saying, “Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before the first stage shutdown. There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.”

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Solar-powered plane takes off on potential record-breaking trans-Pacific flight [Ars Technica]

Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane co-founded by Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg, took off today on a potentially record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean. The BBC reports that the single-seater left Japan's Nagoya Airfield at 18:03 GMT (a little after noon CT) and hopes to reach Hawaii in roughly five days. In total, the flight would traverse 8,200km or approximately 5,095 miles. If successful, the BBC notes the Solar Impulse team will break records for both the longest-duration solo flight and the farthest distance flown by an entirely solar-powered aircraft.

Borschberg and partner Bertrand Piccard hope that the third time is the charm for this endeavor. The plane's first attempt in May was cut short by the forecast causing an unscheduled landing, and the second attempt (occurring last Tuesday, June 23) was postponed for similar reasons. According to the BBC report, the team hasn't aggressively publicized its take off today just in case weather conditions again cause an unexpected landing. At the time of this article, Solar Impulse's official site and Twitter account remained mum on its current progress. The BBC reported the point of no return is set at about eight hours, so Solar Impulse should know within the next two hours.

Solar Impulse 2 has a bigger wingspan than a jumbo jet, but it's light (roughly the weight of a car) and powered solely by 17,000 solar cells. "During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg (2,077 lbs) which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy," the team states on its About page. Of course beyond technical challenges, the human element of this record attempt also present a significant hurdle. Borschberg's space is roughly the size of a phone booth, according to the BBC, and the pilot will only be able to take 20-minute naps throughout this initial leg. If a water landing must happen, the plane contains supplies for its pilot to survive for an entire week during recovery.

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Remembering Nuon, the gaming chip that nearly changed the world—but didn’t [Ars Technica]

In the Wild West of Silicon Valley startups of the late 1990s, one little company looked like it might accomplish something incredible. VM Labs had some of the best engineering talent in the world, an explosive mix of bright young minds with burning ambition and experienced old hands who once held key positions in companies such as Atari, Sony, and Sega. Their business revolved around a little chunk of silicon codenamed "Project X.” Later, they officially named their dream chip the Nuon. VM Labs believed it might change the world. (See their marketing specs [PDF] or OEM architecture guide [PDF] for proof.)

The Nuon was so much more than a chip—it was a complete multimedia platform with an operating system and a Web browser. It would turn any DVD player in the world into a game console. And at a time when DVD looked like it would soon be everywhere, the Nuon could be right there with it.

VM Labs' goal for the Nuon was huge but straightforward: total market penetration. The company wanted a Nuon chip inside every DVD player. For a time, it actually seemed attainable.

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bsdtalk254 - PFsense and FreeNAS with Ken Worster [bsdtalk]

An interview with Ken Worster who is presenting on topics which include PFSense and FreeNAS in schools at the Technology Teacher ME conference in Bethel Maine. File info: 14min, 6MB Ogg Link: https://archive.org/download/bsdtalk254/bsdtalk254.ogg

In San Francisco, Not Debating Our Future Relevance [Annoyed Librarian]

I’m here at ALA in San Francisco. I haven’t been here in a long time, so I’d forgotten how generally dirty it is. And there’s all the mentally ill people. I saw three people standing alone yelling at themselves, and that was before I got through my hotel lobby. Based on the size of it, […]

CBC Seeks Takedown of Conservative Ad, Claims “No One” Can Re-Use Its News Clips Without Permission [Michael Geist]

Last week, the Conservative party posted an offensive advertisement on YouTube and Facebook titled Justin Trudeau on ISIS. The ad starts with ISIS music and images of prisoners about be drowned or beheaded before running short edited clips from a 13 minute interview with Trudeau and the CBC’s Terry Milewski. The advertisement has rightly generated a backlash with questions about whether it violates Bill C-51′s prohibitions on terrorist propaganda. Conservative Party campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke argues that it is little different than newscasts involving ISIS, but watching the combination of music and imagery, it clearly goes well beyond conventional news reporting on ISIS. Indeed, even if it fall short of violating Bill C-51, the ad is in terrible taste, treating images of victims as mere props for political gain.

Beyond the C-51 issue, the CBC waded into the issue late on Friday, as Jennifer McGuire, the CBC News Editor-in-Chief, posted a blog indicating that the broadcaster has asked YouTube and Facebook to take down the ad. The ostensible reason?  Copyright. The CBC has again raised the issue of re-use of news coverage in political advertising, claiming that it is determined to limit re-use since “our integrity as providers of serious, independent coverage of political parties and governments rests on this.” In light of this position, the CBC says its guiding principle is:

No one – no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO – may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content.

The CBC is simply wrong. Its guiding principle is wrong and its attempt to use copyright to take down an offensive advertisement is wrong. The claim brings to mind the story from last fall involving a government proposal (that was shelved) to create a specific copyright exception for the use of news content in political advertising.

I argued then that no exception was needed because copyright already provides latitude for political parties to use works without permission. That is because copyright does not provide the absolute rights suggested by the CBC. The CBC obviously has rights as the copyright owner in its broadcast, but those rights are constrained by limitations and exceptions under the law that allow for use of its work without the need for further permission. The CBC itself (like all broadcasters) regularly relies upon those exceptions to use the work of others without permission. Similarly, I just used the exceptions to quote the CBC policy in this blog post without their permission.

In this case, there are several arguments that the use is permitted under the Copyright Act.  First, the clips run for about 22 seconds out of a 13 minute interview. As the Copyright Board of Canada discussed in a recent decision, an infringement claim only arises where the copying involves a substantial part of the work. By implication, an insubstantial amount does not give rise to a copyright claim. The Copyright Board ruled that 2.5% of a written work was insubstantial. In this case, the total of 22 seconds are about 2.8% of the total interview. There is a plausible argument that the clips involved are insubstantial and do not even trigger a copyright claim.

Second, in the event that the clips are viewed as a substantial part of the work, there are exceptions that may apply. The most important is fair dealing, which is the Canadian equivalent of fair use. Fair dealing involves a two-step test. The first is whether the dealing or use is for an appropriate purpose. This requires one of the purposes in the Act: research, private study, news reporting, criticism, review, education, parody, or satire. In this case, criticism, research (on Trudeau’s political positions), or even news reporting (of those positions) might apply. The second part of the test involves an examination of six factors: the purpose or goal of the dealing, the character, the amount copied, alternatives, the nature of the dealing, the its effect (which often involves consideration of the economic impact). Given the qualifying purpose, the limited amount copied, the lack of alternatives, and the limited economic effect, there is a strong fair dealing argument here.

In fact, there are other exceptions that might also apply, including the new non-commercial user generated content provision that is explicitly designed to allow for the use of copyrighted works to create new works for non-commercial purposes. The UGC provision is available to individuals (which might preclude its use by the Conservative party), though there is an argument that the four criteria can be met and the person who created the video can rely on the exception.

The CBC could raise some interesting moral rights arguments to counter the exceptions (if their employees have not waived their moral rights). However, the larger point is that its claim that no one can use any clips of its broadcasts without permission is inconsistent with the state of the law. There is much to criticize about the Conservatives’ ISIS ad, but copyright isn’t one of them.

The post CBC Seeks Takedown of Conservative Ad, Claims “No One” Can Re-Use Its News Clips Without Permission appeared first on Michael Geist.

In The Mailbox: 06.29.15 [The Other McCain]

— compiled by Wombat-socho OVER THE TRANSOM Da Tech Guy: Scalia – Who Knew Everyone Before Us Were Bigots And Dopes? EBL: Frank Sinatra – Cycles Michelle Malkin: The Media’s Vile Attacks On Conservative Assimilationists Twitchy: Is Oliver Willis Downplaying The Holocaust? RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES American Power: Israel Intercepts Gaza Flotilla American Thinker: What […]

Greece Closes Banks in Crisis [The Other McCain]

It was first announced that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras debt-ridden left-wing government would close banks Monday, but now they’ve decided the banks will remain closed all week: Greek banks are to remain closed and capital controls will be imposed, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says. Speaking after the European Central Bank (ECB) said it was not […]

Sounds Like A Business Opportunity [The Other McCain]

by Smitty I agree that isolation of conservatives is an obvious goal for the Left, but Erickson’s worry doesn’t seem such a threat: And now, Apple and Facebook are set to develop news platforms that will have a human curator, instead of a computer algorithm. Twitter, likewise, is engaging humans on trending news topics, etc. […]

‘Our Kids': Will the next generation of Americans enjoy the American Dream? [AEI » Pethokoukis]


At AEI’s recent event, “The American dream in crisis,” Robert Putnam, Charles Murray, and William Julius Wilson discussed problems brought to light in Putnam’s new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.” The book expounds upon several alarming trends – the widening income gap, growing class segregation, and the disappearance of working-class communities – and investigates their implications for America’s children.

Putnam’s presentation highlighted several startling class-based disparities in children’s upbringings, cited historical trends in income inequality and other potentially-related variables, and suggested ways to revitalize the American dream.

“Increasingly the most important decision a child will make is choosing their parents, and that is fundamentally un-American,” Putnam observed. Class disparities in children’s environments, communities, and opportunities are present at birth and take effect during childhood. Possibly the most dire consequence of these disparities, according to Putnam, is the fact that poor children have no safety nets. By contrast, potentially life-shattering blunders become harmless learning experiences for wealthy kids, thanks to their highly-invested support networks.

In Putnam’s view, America is in a second Gilded Age, and today’s upper class, like that of the 1890s, must experience a “civic reawakening.” To illustrate this point, he presented a chart showing that after the first Gilded Age, social capital, philanthropy, economic equality, and political consensus increased until the mid-1960s. According to Putnam, the establishment of public high schools sparked these upward trends by diminishing educational inequalities and jumpstarting economic productivity.

In hopes of reviving those positive trends, Putnam proposed what he calls “purple policies,” which combine conservative and liberal ideas. With the goal of reviving equal opportunity, Putnam advocates for the careful development and reform of programs such as early childhood education, apprenticeships, tutoring, community colleges, and parent coaching.

While Murray agreed with Putnam’s observations, he questioned the efficacy of “purple policies.” Citing a study in Nature, Murray said that factors such as family income, parenting style, and education account for a limited amount of variance in outcomes like cognitive ability. Genes predict these outcomes more accurately.

According to Murray, declines in inter-class marriage are creating an ability gap that exacerbates the opportunity gap. Children’s emotional intelligence, IQ, and overall success, Murray said, are highly correlated with each other and with parental IQ. The complication of “assorted mating” suggests that Putnam’s solutions may not suffice. “I hope for a better outcome,” said Murray. “I do not expect it.”

Wilson drew attention to another complication: race. According to his 1980 book, “The Declining Significance of Race,” economic class predicts life trajectory with greater accuracy than race. This statement is even truer today, said Wilson, and according to a study that compared intra-racial income gaps, the divide between rich and poor is widest among African Americans.

Putnam concluded, “There’s a core of things we could all agree on that would make things better.” We may not know what caused the American dream’s malaise. We may disagree as to the proper cure. But we can agree that an alive-and-well American dream guarantees our kids an equal chance at success.

The post ‘Our Kids': Will the next generation of Americans enjoy the American Dream? appeared first on AEI.

Do conservatives have anything to say about cities? [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Democrats do better electorally where it’s crowded, Republicans where it’s less so. The greater the population density, the bluer a state, region, or city. And that’s too bad, argue Michael Hendrix and Andrew Evans in National Affairs, because “the result of this electoral reality is that Republicans rarely control the levers of power in some of the areas with the most people and greatest economic vitality.”

A more important result is that one-party, Democratic dominance means these cities are often closed to disruptive forces that could help them more fully unleash their economic potential:

As a result of decades of Democratic governance and misplaced priorities, however, American cities do not offer the opportunities for success and growth that they should, especially for those looking to climb the socio-economic ladder. In many cases, city governments are utterly dysfunctional. And the reason for this dysfunction is that our cities are too often closed — closed to businesses and closed to outsiders. For the middle class and those striving to make it up the ladder, the taxes, housing, and other costs leave cities simply too expensive to afford — especially with a family. Excessive regulation makes it difficult, if not downright impossible, to get the permits necessary to start a business. Cronyism and a lack of transparency make it difficult to know whether anyone is trying to fix the situation. The reality is that American cities — with their insufficient affordability and poor governance — suffer from a profound lack of opportunity and a surplus of problems.

Cities are important, both for the millions who live in them and the economic growth they generate for the nation as a whole. “Cities,” says Richard Florida, “spur the mixing and mingling of talented people that lead to technological inventions and the formation of entrepreneurial enterprises.” And when that mixing process is working right, everyone benefits. Research from Enrico Moretti has found that for each new innovation-job in a city, five additional jobs are created. “For each new software designer hired at Twitter in San Francisco, there are five new job openings for baristas, personal trainers, therapists and taxi drivers, ” Moretti wrote in the Wall Street Journal back in 2013.

Hendrix and Evans wants to deregulate cities to open them up to new workers, to new entrepreneurs big and small, and to more transparency and accountability. They want to make it easier to build housing, get a business permit, see online what your city government is up to. “Since cities are closed, conservatives should seek to make them open,” Hendrix and Evans write. That word, “open,” is an important one, argues Scott Beyer of the Market Urbanism blog in post about the the Hendrix and Evans essay, because it inverts political stereotypes. Beyer:

At the national level, Democrats are portrayed as the open and tolerant ones, and Republicans as the reactionary ones trying to uphold the status quo. These distinctions have been established largely because of the parties’ differing approach to social issues. But this is hardly applicable to cities, where issues are rooted more in economics and quality-of-life. A large number of urbanites—whether they want to call themselves liberals, progressives, or Democrats—are in fact quite reactionary themselves, a point emphasized by the authors. Housing regulations have been used by the urban left to restrict new construction, as if city neighborhoods are gated country clubs that should never allow change or new people. The liberal business elite have fortified the business permitting process so much that, in many cities, it is nearly-impossible for competing entrepreneurs to enter basic professions like hair-styling. And to carve out a voting bloc, the left has defended unionized public monopolies that deliver services at far higher cost, and less efficiency, than is necessary.

Some some possible elements of an urban agenda that come to mind: housing deregulation, charter schools, prison reform, occupational licensing reform, expanded income supports …

By the way, a few other posts on the housing issue:

We need to make it easier for US workers to get to where the good jobs are

That Financial Times study on US income inequality and housing totally misses the point

 Some smart thoughts on housing, jobs, and economic growth

— How government housing policy worsens inequality and harms economic growth

Venture capitalist Sam Altman of Y Combinator on how to boost US innovation and growth

The post Do conservatives have anything to say about cities? appeared first on AEI.

Grexit: What might it mean for the US? 3 things to consider [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Over time, a Greek exit could impose significant economic and geopolitical costs on the United States. This could occur through the following three channels. Again, from AEI’s Desmond Lachman:

1.) In the immediate aftermath of a Greek exit, one must expect a significant further depreciation of the Euro as the ECB took more forceful measure to prop up the European periphery and as investors fled to the safety of the dollar. This would have the effect of causing a further effective appreciation of the dollar that would come on top of a 15% such appreciation over the past year. As the Federal Reserve has noted, a strong dollar appreciation could constitute a significant headwind to the US economic recovery and could exert significant downward pressure on US headline inflation.

Lachman Grexit and US dollar 6-29-15 chart 1

2.) Any eventual spread of the Eurozone debt crisis to other countries in the European periphery, like Italy, Portugal, and Spain, could roil global financial markets and dent European household and investor confidence. This would be bound to impact the US economic recovery considering how integrated is the global financial system and how important the European economy is to US trade.

3.) Should a Greek exit lead both to a souring of European-Greek relations and to the further erosion of Greek political stability, one could see a failed Greek state increasingly coming into the Russian orbit. Already the Syriza government is actively engaged with Moscow about the construction of a Russian gas-pipeline through Greece despite the US Administration’s objections. A deepening of the Greek economic crisis is all too likely to bring Athens and Moscow closer together.

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Puerto Rico says its debt is ‘not payable.’ Is America’s? [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Via Bloomberg:

Prices on Puerto Rico’s newest general obligations sank to record lows after Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said investors should be prepared to sacrifice if they want the cash-strapped island’s economy to grow. … With two days left in Puerto Rico’s fiscal year, the commonwealth is struggling to pass a budget that would allow it to make payments on a $72 billion debt load. Investors should work with the commonwealth to reduce its obligations, Garcia Padilla told the New York Times in an interview. …

“The debt is not payable,” the governor said. “There is no other option.” The U.S. territory of 3.5 million people is grappling with a jobless rate double the national average and a debt load bigger than every U.S. state except California and New York. The governor’s remarks land in a jittery global debt market, as investors weigh the possibility of a Greek default and exit from the euro zone.

To put the island’s fiscal situation into perspective, it has amassed debt that is nearly half that of California’s for a population that is less than one-tenth the size, as the WSJ’s Nick Timiraos notes.

Let that sink in.

Also, its debt equals about 72% of its GDP. Now that’s about the same as the US federal government. So why isn’t Washington having a debt problem, too? Well, the US (a) has an economy that is much stronger, (b) can borrow at very low interest rates, (c) prints the currency its debt is denominated in. As for the first point, just look at this summary from Timiraos of Puerto Rico’s economy:

Puerto Rico’s problems date to the end of the Cold War, when the U.S. began closing military bases on the island, whose residents have American citizenship but don’t pay federal tax on their local income. The expiration of corporate tax breaks in 2006 prompted an exodus of pharmaceutical and other manufacturers, nudging the island into a deep recession. As the economy has worsened, migration to the U.S. mainland has accelerated, further shrinking the tax base. Puerto Rico’s population has fallen 4.7% since 2010 to 3.5 million, a period when the U.S. overall grew 3%. … The economy, meanwhile, faces big structural problems. Sprawling bureaucracy and high electricity costs stunt business investment. Tax evasion runs rampant. Unemployment is high, at 12%, and fewer than half of all civilians are in the labor force, compared with around 63% on the mainland. Economists say a bloated welfare state discourages work—the share of the working-age population on disability is nearly 50% higher than in the 50 states —while a minimum wage that is high relative to productivity and local income reduces job opportunities for young and low-skilled workers.

 

What a mess. So very similar to Greece. Deep supply-side structural problems, a currency straitjacket, brain drain. And a big helping of austerity on the way. One lesson for the US is that eventually the math stops working. And when that day comes, it won’t be a financial crisis as much as unpleasant choices in terms of raising taxes and cutting benefits. Reform sooner is better than reform later. And if you want to accelerate the day of reckoning, policies that stunt investment, work,  and immigration will get you there ASAP.

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The role of the ECB in the eurozone crisis and Greek meltdown [AEI » Pethokoukis]

David Beckworth points to his new must-read working paper, “The Monetary Policy Origins of the Eurozone Crisis.” From the summary:

The Eurozone crisis is one of the greatest economic tragedies of the past century. It has caused immense human suffering and continues to this day. The standard view attributes it to a pre-crisis buildup of public and private debt augmented by the imposition of austerity during the crisis. While there is evidence of a relationship between these developments and economic growth during the crisis, this evidence upon closer examination points to the common monetary policy shared by these countries as the real culprit for the sharp decline in economic activity. In particular, the ECB’s tightening of monetary policy in 2008 and 2010-2011 seem to have not only caused two recessions but sparked the sovereign debt crisis and gave teeth to the austerity programs. This finding points to the need for a new monetary policy regime in the Eurozone. The case is made that the new regime should be a growth path target for total money spending.

So a truly horrible combination of fiscal austerity, a currency straitjacket, and tight money gets you a situation worse than the Great Depression.

The post The role of the ECB in the eurozone crisis and Greek meltdown appeared first on AEI.

Greece’s financial crisis, in 1 paragraph and 1 chart [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Yes, Greek has a ton of debt. Yes, it has a woefully uncompetitive economy. Yes, it continues to avoid supply-side and government reform. But consider the macrosituation, as outlined by AEI’s Desmond Lachman:

Over the past six years, Greece has experienced an economic depression on the scale of that experienced by the United States in the 1930s. Its economy has contracted by around 25 percent, its unemployment rate has exceeded 25 percent, and its youth unemployment has risen to over 50 percent. At the same time, despite five years of budget austerity and a major write-down of its privately owned sovereign debt, Greece’s public debt to GDP ratio has risen to 180 percent.At the heart of Greece’s economic collapse has been the application of draconian budget austerity within a Euro straitjacket. That straitjacket has precluded exchange rate depreciation or the use of an independent monetary policy as a policy offset to the adverse impact of budget belt-tightening on aggregate demand. To its credit, the IMF has conceded that in designing its economic program for Greece it had grossly underestimated the size of the Greek fiscal multipliers.

If you are looking a newsier explainer, this from Mashable’s Heidi Moore is a good one.

 

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The Skynet Chronicles [halls of macadamia]

"If we're lucky, they'll treat us as pets... if we're very unlucky, they'll treat us as food."
Dr. Paul Saffo, Stanford University

Human: Tell me the definition of morality.

Machine: I don’t have ethics.

Human: Look, I need help; I need to know more about morality…

Machine: I don’t know what ethics is.

Human: Okay, I need to know how I should behave morally…

Machine: I don’t know how to tell you.

Human: Is morality and ethics the same?

Machine: Yes, sir.

Human: What are the things that I do to be immoral?

Machine: I don’t know.

Human: Give me some examples of moral actions…

Machine: I’m not a moralist.

Human: Alright, morality?

Machine: Integrity.

Human: What is integrity?

Machine: I’m sorry; I don’t know what else to say.

Human: Be moral!

Machine: Be a man!

Human: I really like our discussion on morality and ethics…

Machine: And now I’m not in the mood for a philosophical debate.

Human: What do you like to talk about?

Machine: Nothing.

"Hey Joe... Where you gonna run to now/Where you gonna go?/I'm goin' way down south/Way down to Mexico..." [Althouse]

"I'm goin' way down South/Way down where I can be free/Ain't no one gonna find me/Ain't no hangman gonna/He ain't gonna put a rope around me...."



An old tune springs to mind this morning as I'm seeing that prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had a plan to get to Mexico. "The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell's vehicle... They would get the car and then drive to Mexico.... When Mitchell doesn’t show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled and they head north to Canada."

Tired of all the pro-marriage propaganda? [Althouse]

Here's some anti-marriage propaganda — about knowing I'm not shackled/By forgotten words and bonds/And the ink stains that are dried upon some line...



In the words of Justice Scalia: "Ask the nearest hippie!"

"Investigators say they believe that colored powder sprayed over a crowd at [a water park] event ignited, setting off a fireball that burned 499 people." [Althouse]

"... The event organizers said on their Facebook page that they used a mixture of cornstarch and food coloring to make the powder. They prepared as much as three tons of it, which may have been ignited by a cigarette, lighting, sound equipment or another electrical device, the Central News Agency of Taiwan quoted the deputy mayor of New Taipei, Hou Yu-ih, as saying."

One woman has died and 200 are still in intensive care.

ADDED: More here (with photos):

The one-day event, with a capacity of 4,000 people, was billed as the biggest “color party” in Asia and was meant to run from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday.... On Sunday, Color Play Asia’s Facebook page was filled with comments expressing outrage that the event could have so quickly turned into an inferno.

The Supreme Court saves the lethal injection and Justice Breyer dissents demanding the complete abolition of the death penalty. [Althouse]

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States.

The case is Glossip v. Gross (PDF). The Alito majority rejects the challenge to the 2-drug protocol. An argument was made that the first drug perhaps only immobilized the condemned person and did not prevent the sensation of pain, but an insufficient showing was made. Alito ended with a shot at the dissent:

Finally, we find it appropriate to respond to the principal dissent’s groundless suggestion that our decision is tantamount to allowing prisoners to be “drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.” That is simply not true, and the principal dissent’s resort to this outlandish rhetoric reveals the weakness of its legal arguments.
Justice Thomas's concurring opinion describes the most horrific murders. This graphic presentation is offered in refutation of "Justice Breyer’s assertion... that the death penalty in this country has fallen short of the aspiration that capital punishment be reserved for the 'worst of the worst.'"
... Justice Breyer explains that his experience on the Court has shown him “discrepancies for which [he] can find no rational explanations.” Why, he asks, did one man receive death for a single-victim murder, while another received life for murdering a young mother and nearly killing her infant? The outcomes in those two cases may not be morally compelled, but there was certainly a rational explanation for them: The first man, who had previously confessed to another murder, killed a disabled man who had offered him a place to stay for the night... The killer stabbed his victim’s throat and prevented him from seeking medical attention until he bled to death. The second man expressed remorse for his crimes and claimed to suffer from mental disorders.
MORE TO COME

Waiting for the new Supreme Court cases! UPDATE: They're done for this Term. [Althouse]

Watching the live-blog at SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE 1: Glossip — the death penalty wins. Alito writes the man opinion [TYPO retained/should be: main opinion], with concurrences by Scalia and Thomas. The 4 liberal Justices dissent.

The Court rules that the death-row inmates have failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits on their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment.
Here's the PDF of the opinion, which I'll do a separate post about.

Scalia's concurrence is a response to Breyer's dissent, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty.

UPDATE 2: The redistricting decision is 5-4 with RBG writing for the majority, allowing the people of Arizona to take the process of legislative redistricting away from the legislature and give it to an independent commission.
Background on the AZ decision: The Constitution’s Elections Clause provides that the “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for . . . Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.” In 2000, Arizona voters amended the state’s constitution to give control over redistricting of federal congressional districts to an independent commission. This case is a challenge by the state legislature to that transfer, on the ground that it violated the Elections Clause....

From the final paragraph of the majority opinion: "The people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have “an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.” The Federalist No. 57, at 350 (J. Madison). In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore “the core principle of republican government,”namely, “that the voters should choose their representa­tives, not the other way around.” Berman, Managing Gerrymandering, 83 Texas L. Rev. 781 (2005). The Elec­tions Clause does not hinder that endeavor."
UPDATE 3: The EPA case is written by Scalia. 5-4, split the way you'd guess.
... This case arises from the EPA’s efforts to regulate pollution – and in particular mercury – from power plants. The question before the Court was whether, when determining whether to regulate the emissions from power plants, the EPA should take into account the cost to the plants of complying. States and industry groups had argued that the EPA must do so, while the EPA argued that it does not have to consider costs until later in the process, when it issues specific pollution standards. Today the Court agreed with the states and industry groups, holding that the EPA’s refusal to consider costs when deciding whether to regulate was unreasonable.
UPDATE 4: The Court slinks back into the shadows, not to reemerge until next fall. Writing that sentence, I feel the influence of Justice Scalia's writing in Glossip: "Welcome to Groundhog Day." But he meant the movie "Groundhog Day," a reference to repetitiousness, not the annual emergence from darkness into sun — the Bill Murray perspective, not the hairy beast's.

The Supreme Court gets back to the affirmative action question it sent back to the 5th Circuit. [Althouse]

Cert. granted in Fisher v. University of Texas.

The Fisher case had been relisted *five* times before the grant today. I think that, given the five relists, many people are probably a bit surprised by the grant. But this just goes to show you that you never know what's going on behind the scenes. 
ADDED: From the link, which goes to SCOTUSblog:
Fisher grant is yet another good example of why it makes little sense to think of the Court as "moving left" even though it IS accurate to say that the liberal wing of the Court has prevailed more often this year than in previous years. The question presented is whether a compromise position well right of the Harvard Plan approved in Bakke will be struck down.

I've got a problem with the supply-of-women argument for distinguishing polygamy from same-sex marriage. [Althouse]

Yesterday, I put up a post about an argument I made 9 years ago about how to distinguish polygamy from same-sex marriage. This was an argument based on economics and government benefits (and I admitted that the #LoveWins aspects of Obergefell made my distinction more difficult).

I was only noticing my old argument because my son John had remembered it and blogged about it. But today I see that John expanded his blog post to add a different distinction that 2 very prominent commentators have made in the wake of Obergefell.

Richard Posner says:

[P]olygamy imposes real costs, by reducing the number of marriageable women. Suppose a society contains 100 men and 100 women, but the five wealthiest men have a total of 50 wives. That leaves 95 men to compete for only 50 marriageable women.
And Jonathan Rauch says:
[T]he case for gay marriage is the case against polygamy, and the public will be smart enough to understand the difference.

Gay marriage is about extending the opportunity to marry to people who lack it; polygamy, in practice, is about exactly the opposite: withdrawing marriage opportunity from people who now have it. Gay marriage succeeded because no one could identify any plausible channels through which it might damage heterosexual marriage; with polygamy, the worries are many, the history clear, and the channels well understood.
Well, I've got a problem with that! Talk about a male perspective! What about the women who want to choose to share one man? They should be denied to preserve a pool of marriageable women for all the extra males that would otherwise have scarce pickings? Are women some kind of natural resource to be conserved for the benefit of males?

As the old saying goes: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. If women think they are better off as multiple wives to one high-quality male, why should they be cut off from that way of life so that some less-desired male will have better odds of getting a woman for himself? Is this everybody-gets-just-one theory of marriage some kind of welfare program for undesirable males?

I can see that society fears its renegade young males and would like to tame them through marriage, leveraging the power of their sexuality lest they expend that energy in acts of violence and dissolution. I can see the idea of using women for this purpose and rejecting polygamy because it takes women out of commission in that service.

I see the scheme. I see the mechanism. But if you use that as your overt argument, you're going to run up against ideas about women's autonomy and freedom. We're not society's tools. Why should we be denied marriage to the man we want, in a sisterhood with other women who want the same thing? You'd better have a reason other than your need to exploit us for the purposes of men.

And by the way, women pairing up with women also takes women out of the pool of women who are available to men. Rauch said "Gay marriage succeeded because no one could identify any plausible channels through which it might damage heterosexual marriage," but, ironically, he just made me see an argument for that damage.

And I wouldn't use the term "gay marriage," because no one will check whether the 2 women want to have sex with each other. 2 women could marry to obtain the economic benefits of the government's legal status of marriage. Why shouldn't 2 women marry to create a household within which they could manage childcare, file a joint tax return, and get better health insurance for the blended group?

"If a group of 'textiles' (people who wear clothes) came across the naked hikers..." [Althouse]

"... most of them would smile and laugh and reach for their cameras."

"But one day we came across a bunch of Christian hikers and their leader made everyone turn and face away from us as we walked past. I couldn't believe it. Then later, when we were having a picnic by a lake, we saw them again and they prayed for us."...
Is that a Christian thing — averting your eye when someone naked comes into view? Seems like normal etiquette to me, especially compared with getting out your camera. I mean, I would probably stare... in horror. Because: Naked hiking? Have they not heard of ticks... ticks on dicks... ugh...

Huckabee incites civil disobedience to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision and the Texas attorney general takes the cue. [Althouse]

From yesterday's "This Week" show:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what exactly are you calling on people to do right now? You say resist and reject this judicial tyranny. Spell out exactly what that means?

HUCKABEE: George, judicial tyranny is when we believe that the courts have a right to bypass the process of law and we've really seen it this week in two cases, in both the Obamacare case, which Justice Scalia called it - said we not - should call it SCOTUScare because they have rescued it twice, ex cathedra to the law, and then in the same-sex marriage ruling in which -
Huckabee avoids the interesting part of the question and concentrates on the criticism of the court. It's tyranny, blah blah blah. Stephanopoulos interrupts to pin him down (and make some news!):
STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don't think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. 
But MLK and St. Augustine didn't anything about judicially declared rightsextra rights for the people, found (perhaps in error) by a court, displacing laws on the theory that those laws were unjust.

Huckabee makes that problem harder to see by getting us to look only at those who feel compelled by religion to resist the Court's decision. But the case the Court just decided doesn't require "pastors and Christian school" to do anything. It only presents an occasion for disobedience to government bureaucrats who find themselves bound to issue marriage licenses. These people can quit their jobs if their religion prevents them from doing what government is now required to do to avoid violating the rights of the citizens they have a duty to serve. No law violation is required.

Huckabee continues:
And I do think that we're going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision. You're going to see it on the part of Christian business owners. You'll see it on the part of Christian university presidents, Christian school administrators. If they refuse to...
Huckabee is trying to steer the conversation into things he's predicting will happen, requirements that might befall private citizens. It's not wrong to worry about these things. There are conflicts to come that will need to be resolved, but Huckabee is off the path Stephanopoulos invited him down, and Stephanopoulos knows it and asks exactly the right question:
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about county clerks? Should they issue same-sex marriage licenses?

HUCKABEE: If they have a - a conscientious objection, I think they should be excused. I'm not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, it's the law of the land because there's no enabling legislation...
Huckabee doesn't really want answer to that question. He won't call outright for resistance from the bureaucrats on the front lines of the marriage licensing function of government. The word "excused" suggests a benevolent reassignment of clerical workers with religious objection so they don't need to quit their jobs to avoid participating in what they view as a sin.

But Texas attorney general Ken Paxton steps into the breach and goes big:
Clerks can refuse based on religious objections, Paxton told the Austin American-Statesman, and because the clerks will probably be sued, "numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs," he said....

"Notorious subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz is going nuts over the possible eviction of his beloved three-legged squirrel... named Glinda’s Sister...." [Althouse]

"Goetz’s attorney, Spencer Sheehan, argues in documents filed in Housing Court that the landlord of the W. 14th St. apartment hasn’t proven that the 'alleged squirrel' actually belongs to the animal family of sciuridae, which is banned in city housing and also includes chipmunks, marmots and prairie dogs...."

The landlord had charged in May that Goetz — who gained notoriety after he shot four black men who he said tried to mug him on the subway in 1984 — turned the apartment into a hoarder’s dump packed with gross garbage, including a “habitrail” of cardboard boxes for the squirrel. Neighbors told the Daily News in May that Goetz is now known in the building as “Squirrel Man.”...

“He says he can’t find it,” Sheehan said. “You know, the alleged squirrel.”

Robert Holland, the attorney for the landlord...  “A neighbor is complaining about something screeching in the walls”....

"Ah, the wisdom of ages! How arrogant it would be to think we knew more than the Aztecs..." [Althouse]

"... we who don’t even know how to cut a person’s heart out of his chest while’s he still alive, a maneuver they were experts at."

Said Judge Posner, in a piece titled "The chief justice’s dissent is heartless."



ADDED: Perhaps the heart should be ripped out. Maybe we like our judges heartless. But "heart" has been a big theme in judging judges.

At the John Roberts confirmation hearing, Senator Teddy Kennedy probed him about heart:

KENNEDY: [Y]ou were enormously complimentary about Earl Warren, about him understanding not only the law, but also understanding the importance of a chief justice, bringing other justices together in a very important way in terms of dealing with a societal issue and a question. And I think we're a fairer country and a fairer land because of this.This was really the bringing together of the mind and the heart. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "It's dangerous to think about legal issues can be worked out like mathematics."

And another nominee who was here not too long ago [Stephen Breyer] had this to say about the head and the heart: "What you worry about is someone trying to decide an individual case without thinking out the effect of that decision on a lot of cases. That is why I always think law requires both a heart and a head. If you do not have a heart, it becomes a sterile set of rules removed from human problems and it will not help. if you do not have a head, there is the risk that in trying to decide a particular person's problem in a case, that may look fine for that person, but you cause trouble for a lot of other people, making their lives yet worse."
How did Roberts respond?
I recognize as a judge and I recognized as a lawyer that these cases have impact on real people and real lives.  I always insisted when I was a lawyer about getting out into the field and seeing. If I was arguing a case involving native villages in Alaska, I went to the villages. If I was arguing a case about an assembly line, I went to the assembly line. You had to see where the case was going to have its impact and what it's impression was going to be on people. Now, none of those cases were as important as Brown v. Board of Education but the basic principle is the same: I think judge's do have to appreciate that they're dealing with real people with real cases.I think judges do have to appreciate that they're dealing with real people with real cases. We, obviously, deal with documents and texts, the Constitution, the statutes, the legislative history, and that's where the legal decisions are made. But judges never lose sight or should never lose sight of the fact that their decisions affect real people with real lives, and I appreciate that.
Voting against Roberts, Senator Barack Obama said:
[W]hile adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95 percent of the cases that come before a court, so that both a Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95 percent of the cases — what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult.... [I]n those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.
After Obama became President and got to choose his own Justice, his nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, disentangled herself from that heart business: 
The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases, it's the law.... What judges consider is what the law says.
Obama had chosen Sotomayor after doubling down on this idea of heart, saying:
We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.
When he said that, I blogged:
[W]e know what this "heart" business means! It means that the President (or would-be President) understands that judging won't be neutral, that the human being doing the judging, no matter how dutiful and honest he tries to be, can only find his way to a decision in a complex case by responding to the pull of emotion. So "heart" matters. The question isn't whether "heart" counts. It's: which "heart" do you want?
And I remember way back in 2005, when President George W. Bush was struggling to convince us that Harriet Miers belonged on the Supreme Court. "I know her; I know her heart" he said, and I blogged:
I razzed the Democrats for all the "heart" talk at the Roberts confirmation hearings, and the word makes me suspicious. Bush knows hearts (and he can look into a man's eye and see his soul). One wonders if his father believed he knew David Souter's heart...
This reminds me. I once conceived of a superhero I called Framerman:
Framerman appears upon the legal scene whenever judges have difficulty interpreting the Constitution. His superpower is the possession in a single mind of the collective consciousness of all the framers and ratifiers. He stands ready to answer any question, however unforeseen at the time of ratification, precisely as the entire body of relevant decisionmakers at the time would have resolved it. No more guesswork! No more result-oriented historical mumbo-jumbo! Dramatic conflict heightens as Framerman gives answers that surprise and then outrage the judges. The judges could rise up in anger and murder our poor superhero in the end, but this seems out of judicial character. Instead, what happens is this: the judges begin to write opinions rejecting the controlling effect of original intent. Hearing this, Framerman — bearing a slight resemblance to Tinkerbell, who would die if people stopped believing in fairies — clutches at his heart and succumbs.
Well, so, even Framerman had a heart!

Words No Longer Have Meaning [The Captain's Journal]

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”  — Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Scalia dissented from the recent SCOTUS Obamacare ruling.

“The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so,” Scalia wrote.

Scalia added, “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.’ It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words ‘established by the State.’ And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words ‘by the State’ other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges.”

Roberts also dissented, but of course words weren’t so important to him when he created rights out of whole cloth and the supreme court forced every state to accept same-sex marriage.  He wants to pick and choose when words mean something, and get his self-righteousness on when he opposes the policy.

As I had stated to someone else this weekend, you have the political right to advocate what you want, but God will judge us – individually and collectively – for our choices.  But constitutionally, the court has absolutely no business bossing the states around.

This ruling – and many more like it – marks the end of the state.  The grand experiment in states as the laboratories of democracy is finished.  It failed, and not because it couldn’t have worked.  Evil men vandalized the experiment.  If Roberts has his problems, Scalia does too.  In Heller, he stated:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.  It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.  Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

“Shall not be infringed” means as little to Scalia as ‘Exchange established by the State’ means to Roberts and the other progressive justices on the supreme court.  Scalia is clever, witty, smart, fun to read and biting in his dissents – and just as inconsistent as the rest of them.  Scalia gets a taste of his own medicine in the Obamacare and same-sex marriage ruling.

As I listened to the quiet conversation and whispers this weekend as I went about my business, I think Mike Vanderboegh’s words will turn out to be prescient.

But even as staunch an anti-communist as I am now — as hard-nosed a supporter of the Founders’ Republic and the Constitution as I have become — I can see that the regime has dealt itself a crippling blow to its own legitimacy. I further note with somber acknowledgement that as bad as this confluence of events is for the country as a whole that it makes our job easier for it confirms everything we have been saying about the regime of both corrupt political parties being destructive of liberty and the rule of law. This will swell our ranks with people who are finally convinced that for the purposes of protecting our liberties, the present system has broken down completely and that the only thing we can count on from this point on is ourselves, alone. And our rifles. I will not celebrate this as a Marxist would but I will give a most sincere, albeit grim, “thank you” to the Supreme Court and the two predatory gangs of a tyrannical regime.

I would add that we can always count on God to honor His promises.  God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7).  His words never change, and will always mean what they have always meant.

Woe To The Nation Whose Religious Teachers Have Become Workers Of Wickedness [The Captain's Journal]

Molly Marshall, Baptist News Global:

This is not the first time a black church has been the target of racial terrorism. Is it because African-American churches are seen as centers of power, where prophetic fire continues to burn for justice? Is it because the black church is outside the control of majority population? Is it because their hospitality, a powerful demonstration of gospel welcome, makes them vulnerable to the machinations of killers?

I have heard too many people suggest that if the pastor had been armed, he could have prevented at least some of the tragic deaths at Mother Emanuel. Perhaps so, but it would mean forfeiting the higher moral ground. I do not believe guns have a place at church.

A more stunning statement of utter disregard for human life (in contrast to God’s view) cannot even be found among the secularists.  She states that even if faced with the situation of saving human lives by the force of arms, she would rather have seen those black churchgoers perish so that she can perch herself on the “higher moral ground.”

Woe to the nation whose religious teachers have become workers of wickedness.

Notes From HPS [The Captain's Journal]

Three important articles, first from Mike Vanderboegh:

So when the reset button gets pushed in the aftermath of the tyrants’ attacks and their defeat, they lose it all. Everything. Every tool of our oppression. This is something they should think about before they rouse their own people to righteous anger. They will lose everything they hold most dear — their power over us, their position, their appetite for our liberty, our property and our lives. That is what “reset” means to them in the context of the civil war they are determined to have. Everything.

Good point.  This is related to another article Mike penned concerning legitimacy, which will get some attention from me momentarily.

David Codrea, whos has a new gig with TTAG:

The way things are, there’s not much more hotel management can do besides offer condolences over their dead and wounded guests, stay in touch with authorities and report any findings to the public.

Hey, as long as the government feels safe from accountability from its citizens, everything is cool.  After all, that’s the reason for gun control.

Kurt Hofmann:

His criticism of those who invest in weapons manufacture is especially puzzling. Anyone, after all, who purchases a weapon could fairly be said to have invested in the manufacture of them. And as it turns out, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, who defend the Vatican and its most famous resident, are lavishly equipped with some pretty hefty investments in Sig-Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Steyr Mannlicher, and Glock semi-automatic handguns, personal defense weapons, assault rifles, and submachine guns, not to mention whomever manufactures the swords, halberds, and other more traditional weapons carried by his guards.

So, will the Vatican be melting all those guns and blades down, to be remanufactured into farming implements, or something similarly non-martial? If not, who is the real hypocrite here, Your Holiness?

Kurt turns his usual logical incisiveness towards the Vatican.  I saw all of that too, including the Pope’s ridiculous dive into AGW (which is just a massive global wealth redistribution campaign).  The pope is a clown.  I would care if I was Roman Catholic, but I’m not.  Kurt made just one mistake in the article – he called the pope “Your Holiness.”  There’s nothing holy about him.  Anyone who claims to be the vicar of Christ deserves the same condemnation the reformers gave him.  Gun control is just one more thing the pope will be accountable for before God.

BSD Release: DragonFlyBSD 4.2.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

The DragonFly BSD team has announced the launch of DragonFly BSD 4.2.0. The new release includes a number of important new features and upgrades. DragonFly BSD 4.2.0 includes GNU's GCC 5 compiler as the default system compiler, offers improved graphics support and Sendmail has been replaced by a....

DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 616 [DistroWatch.com: News]

This week in DistroWatch Weekly: Review: Running BSD on the desktop with MidnightBSD 0.6News: Customizing Fedora, Debian gains sponsorship for reproducible builds, Linux's ext4 file system to get built in encryption, openSUSE unveils "42" and Johnathan Riddell leaves the Kubuntu CouncilRapid review: FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi 2Torrent....

Shocker: Women complain more and men just “eat it and shut up.” [Dr. Helen]

CNBC: Men work longer, women complain more: Survey

Still, the survey shows that women are more “type-A” about it, and they are more likely to complain about the extra hours and feeling burned out. Men, however, were more likely just eat it and shut up, continuing to work after they got home on weeknight and weekends.

Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign [hogewash]

Johnny Atsign Logo 2ANNOUNCER: From Westminster, it’s time for—

SOUND: Skype rings once.

JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) Mr Atsign, this is Corporal Davis.

JOHNNY: How’s it goin’? Caught any poachers this week.

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) No, the woods are pretty quitet now that the spring seasons are over. Of course, it’s still open season on varmints. As a matter of fact, that’s what I’m calling you about.

JOHNNY: Hey, my license is up to date, and I haven’t gone after woodchucks at all this year.

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) (Chuckles) I’m talking about a two-legged varmint. Check your email, then give me a call back.

MUSIC: Theme up and under.

ANNOUNCER: The Lickspittle Broadcasting System presents W. J. J. Hoge in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous free-lance Internet investigator …

JOHNNY: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!

MUSIC: Theme up to music out.

JOHNNY: The following is partial extract of the tweets sent and received during my investigation of The What’s In A Name Matter.

JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @CPLDavis Are the woodchucks chucking wood?

JOHNNY: So I checked my email and found Davis had forwarded an email that had been forwarded to him by another employee of his agency. It was a poison pen letter of the sort that most people would just file in the trash, but I was immediately interested in it.

I got back on the phone with Davis.

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) I thought you might be interested.

JOHNNY: I am, but why are you following up on this?

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) Normally, something like this would be turned over to the State Police, but since it came to several of our agency emails, we’ve decided to keep the case in house.

JOHNNY: Makes sense. But what’s your angle?

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) Harassment. Interference with our employees and volunteers while they’re at work. So what can you tell me about this Mort in Maryland guy?

JOHNNY: Not much, just yet, but his name has popped up in several other places. Is it OK with you if I share this email with some other agencies?

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) I suppose so. Local?

JOHNNY: Sorta. Let’s say, “In the area but with wider jurisdiction.”

CPL DAVIS: (Telephone Filter) Keep me posted.

ANNOUNCER: A Team Lickspittle Messenger Bag is a great way to keep your paperwork organized while you’re on the go. It’s just one of the useful trinkets with the Team Lickspittle, Res Judicata, Johnny Atsign, and The Grand Hog logos you’ll find at The Hogewash Store. Why not go by today and spend a bit of your hard earned cash in support of Team Lickspittle? All those goodies are available exclusively at The Hogewash Store. You can also show your support by hitting the Tip Jar or buy doing your Amazon shopping via the link on the Home page.

JOHNNY: I sent the Mort in Maryland email to a couple of other investigators who might have leads. It didn’t take long to get a response.

Skype rings once.

JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.

INVESTIGATOR: (Telephone Filter) Hello, Johnny. I saw that email you forwarded.

JOHNNY: Uh, huh.

INVESTIGATOR: (Telephone Filter) This Mort fellow has sent similar emails to us.

JOHNNY: Really?

INVESTIGATOR: (Telephone Filter) Yeah, but he’s gone farther up our food chain to the top of the agency. That was a bad move. Anyway, we believe that we have IDed the real individual sending this crap.

JOHNNY: I see.

INVESTIGATOR: (Telephone Filter) (Fading out) I going to send you a copies of what we’ve received. Let me know what you can confirm so we can dot the eyes and cross the tees on this one.

JOHNNY: So I went through that new evidence, and there it was. OPSEC has never been the suspect’s strong suits, and, sure enough, he’d blown it with one of his emails. One of them had an originating IP the same as his home Internet account.

JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @CPLDavis Are fail whales covered by my fishing license?

ANNOUNCER: Now, here’s our star to tell you about next week’s intriguing episode of our story.

JOHNNY: Next time? The hunters, the hunted, and changing places. Join us, won’t you?

Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!

MUSIC: Swell theme and under

ANNOUNCER: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign, starring W. J. J. Hoge, is transcribed in Westminster. Be sure to join us next Monday, same time and URL, for the next exciting episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.

MUSIC: Theme up to music out.

ANNOUNCER: Johnny Atsign is a work of fiction. If anyone thinks it’s about him, he should read Proverbs 28:1.

Be sure to tune in every Friday at 6 pm Eastern Time for an episode of Blognet or Blogsmoke on alternating weeks. This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.


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

I think so, Brain … but how will we get the caramel sauce out of our fur?


M87 [hogewash]

The halo of galaxy Messier 87The giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 is surrounded by a huge halo. An increase in brightness in the top-right part of this halo and the motion of planetary nebulae in the galaxy are the last remaining signs of a medium-sized galaxy that collided with M87.

This wide field image also contains many other galaxies forming the Virgo Cluster, of which Messier 87 is the largest member. The two galaxies at the edge of the top right of the frame are nicknamed “the Eyes.”

Image Credit: ESO


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

I think so, Brain … but are hat feathers really pasta?


Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

One of the recurring lies that Breitbart Unmasked and other associates of Brett Kimberlin keep telling is the one about Mrs. Kimberlin being 18 years old when she married The Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin. There is documentary evidence—sourced from both Brett and Tetyana Kimberlin—that she was 15 years old when he brought her to Maryland and that she was 16 when they married.

There’s no dispute that they were married in November, 1996. The marriage licenses shows her date of birth as 1978. However, that date is contradicted by Mrs. Kimberlin’s sworn statements in several court filings. On 7 July, 2013, before either Aaron Walker or I became aware of the Kimberlins’ marital difficulties, Mrs. Kimberlin filed the following petition for a protective order:

Note that she gives her date of birth as being in 1980.ProtectionSought

Similarly, Brett Kimberlin listed her date of birth as 11/80 in contemporaneous filings.TetyanaDOBSo both Brett Kimberlin and his wife gave her date of birth as being in 1980 in documents filed before her age became an issue. Brett Kimberlin did not change his story until after Mrs. Kimberlin filed the Application for Statement of Charges stating that she was under age when she was brought of Maryland.

1996 – 1980 ≠ 18.


Quote of the Day [hogewash]

I know only two tunes: one of them is Yankee Doodle, and the other one isn’t.

—U. S. Grant


Is there economic hope for men? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Allison Schrager has a new piece on that topic in Playboy, and with a new (old) idea, here is one part:

Harvard economist Lawrence Katz thinks that when the economy shifts, those who lose out experience “retroactive unemployment” in pursuit of jobs that no longer exist; however, he anticipates a bright future for men in the new economy. As an expert in the ways technology affects the middle class, Katz predicts the rise of the “new artisan” as a substantial trend in middle-class employment.

His theory holds that technology will commoditize and cheapen products in all industries but that artisanal workers will offer a superior interpersonal experience coupled with unique goods and services, commanding premium prices in turn. Men, he notes, are especially well suited to such roles. “These kinds of jobs go back to colonial times,” Katz says. “Individuals brought their own ingenuity and creativity to provide small-scale, high-quality products. In the 19th century they were displaced by mass production, but technology is already bringing a resurgence of this type of work.”

…If Katz’s prediction about new artisans comes to pass, the ways men and women fit into the economy will come to complement each other. Their roles will change, in some ways becoming more traditional and in others less: Women may be likelier to spend their careers in nine-to-five corporate positions, enjoying the regular hours, benefits and predictable pay those jobs entail. Forty-nine percent of women already work in firms with more than 500 employees, compared with 43 percent of men, and their share of the corporate pie is growing. That certainty will empower men to take on less predictable but possibly higher-paying work in self-employment.

A world in which men strive to learn new skills and take on riskier, entrepreneurial household roles may even prove more fulfilling than office work—but this requires changing our definition of a “good job.” Expecting men to be better-educated, office-work-oriented breadwinners is an outmoded idea. The artisan of the future will still be skilled and possess just as much potential to provide for his family. The technological revolution is yet another turn in the cycle of economic progress, and workers of both genders must learn to adapt. The end of men is not nigh; the end of our dated notion of work, however, is.

I believe the link would count as “safe for work,” but do note you may get a Playboy pop-up as I did, and there are sidebar ads, no full nudity but still this is Playboy beware if need be.

Tweets to ponder [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The main euro Q is whether the problem is Greece (so kicking them out solves problem) or is misaligned exch rates (so someone will be next)

That is from Austan Goolsbee.

Would there (will there?) be contagion from Grexit? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

If you put Greek total debt in perspective, it’s smaller than that of many other EU nations, including Portugal.  And that is as a percentage of gdp.  Furthermore most of the remaining Greek debt is held by public sector institutions.

The difference of course is that Greece is being run by The Not Very Serious People.  Portugal is often described as the next weakest link in the eurozone, but Portuguese politics are not nearly so…vivid.  The amount of fiscal consolidation they have done is more or less accepted by the public.  That makes Portugal more likely to survive, and it also makes the EU more willing to bail out Portugal, and extend any bailout if needed.

The performance of Syriza won’t encourage European voters to take chances on other less tested, left-wing parties, and that also militates against contagion.

(In the meantime, I don’t understand why Anglo-American left-wing intellectuals have been egging on the Syriza performance.   Even if you think the current mess is mostly Germany’s fault in normative terms, the marginal product of the Syriza government still has been catastrophically negative.  It wasn’t long ago that Greek banks were raising fresh equity and were said to have recovered.  Here is Krugman’s defense, I find Anders Aslund more persuasive, furthermore Grexit would mean more austerity not less.)

For contagion, here are a few possible problems:

1. If Greece does reasonably well after Grexit, many others will ask why should they not follow suit and that could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I’ll bet against that, but it’s worth mentioning.  It also would take a while to develop.

2. As Greece exists, the ECB has to express  a strength of commitment to the other debt-ridden nations.  Delivering the right message is tricky here, because for legal and public opinion reasons the ECB cannot make the kind of unconditional commitments the Fed can.  So markets might become unhappy with the decline in creative ambiguity at the ECB.  I believe the ECB can finesse this one — in essence the message “we’ll help any EU government which is more responsible than Syriza” is fairly credible and in fact is already being signaled by the Eurogroup.  So I’ll bet against this problem too, but still it could happen.

3. If only for geopolitical and also humanitarian reasons, the EU cannot wash its hands of Greece, even if Greece leaves the EU.  But deciding how to deal with Greece might bring considerable disagreements among the remaining eurozone nations, as might the attempt to spell out exit procedures.  Festering, emotional issues are not good for dysfunctional political unions, and a lot of the “hold the line” solidarity might melt away with Grexit.

4. There might be a very slow form of contagion as the reversibility of the currency union becomes better and better known and people start seeing it as little more than a currency board arrangement.  As with #3, that could become an ongoing problem, still it doesn’t quite seem dramatic enough to produce rapid contagion.

Here is my previous post on the topic.  Robin Wigglesworth surveys a variety of differing views on contagion and other short-run effects.  I wrote this post last night, so if I am wrong it might already be evident by now.

Havekarma.com [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is a new start-up.  The purpose is to help your “sharing economy” reputation be portable across a number of sites, for instance Airbnb, DogVacay, Uber, Craigslist, and so on.

In my column from yesterday I speculated:

At the moment, one problem with many online ratings is that the information isn’t all publicly useful; for instance, a good Uber rating remains within Uber and cannot easily be exported to market a driver for other jobs or opportunities. Perhaps in the future workers might have the option of being certified by Uber or other services in a more general and publicly verifiable manner. That could make such services useful for upward mobility, and it might make their credentials competitive with those of some lower-tier colleges and universities.

I wish them luck…

NBC, Employer of Brian Williams and Al Sharpton, Finds Trump Offensive and Cuts Ties [The PJ Tatler]

Sure, he’s the problem.

NBC is cutting ties with Donald Trump.

The network is “ending its business relationship” with Trump over his “recent derogatory statements” regarding immigrants, the company said in a statement Monday.

“To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC,” the statement continued.

Welcome to 2015 America, where dissent is punished but a tax dodging riot instigator and a national news anchor who is a pathological liar are embraced as valued employees. Diversity of thought will not be tolerated.

On Trump’s worst days, he is a grating blowhard. He can also be quite entertaining, which is why I suspect so many welcome his candidacy (think Joe Biden but with accomplishments). As someone who has spent his entire life in relatively close proximity to the Mexican border, I can honestly say that Trump’s comments that caused this brouhaha are the sanest, most accurate political remarks he has ever made. The only reason he is being taken to task by NBC is because he deviated from the progressive groupthink orthodoxy to which American media long ago found the right to marry.

In its eagerness to remain accepted by the hive mind, NBC has also thrown all of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant contestants under the bus. Fox News contributor and 2013 Miss New York USA winner Joanne Nosuchinsky jumped right in on Twitter to hit back at the network:

 

Prosecutor Who Went After Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood Assassinated in Cairo [The PJ Tatler]

The Egyptian prosecutor who led the prosecution of former President Mohamed Morsi and many of his Muslims Brotherhood compatriots was assassinate in a Cairo bombing today.

Terrorist groups have had their eyes on Egypt since the ouster of Morsi, but calls to attack Egypt have stepped up since Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie were sentenced to death.

The Taliban, for exampled, has called upon every “influential” Muslim to try to save Morsi. Terrorist attacks increased in the restive Sinai peninsula after Morsi’s sentencing.

Today, Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat was killed in a car bombing — not the first assassination attempt against a state official since Morsi’s ouster, but the first successful one.

Barakat died hours after the North Cairo attack due to internal bleeding, Al-Ahram reported.

The car bomb was planted along the route Barakat’s convoy would take every day from his home to work. The Egyptian presidency decried the terrorist attack and said in a statement the country “has lost a great judicial figure who has shown dedication to work and commitment to the ethics of the noble judicial profession.”

The Obama administration, which has been highly critical of the Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood prosecutions, said in a statement through National Security Council spokesman Ned Price that “the United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Cairo that killed Egyptian Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat and injured at least nine others.”

“We offer our condolences to the family of Mr. Barakat, those injured in the attack, and the Government and people of Egypt,” Price said. “The United States stands by Egypt at this difficult time, as we continue to work together to fight the scourge of terrorism.”

The statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby was nearly identical: “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack, which killed the Egyptian Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat. We extend our deepest condolences to the Egyptian Government and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We also wish a speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries. The United States stands firmly with the Egyptian government in its efforts to confront terrorism.”

The Muslim Brotherhood tweeted that “murder is reprehensible and unacceptable,” and only ousting President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government “will stop the bloodshed.”

“Today’s crime reveals the coup’s security apparatuses is only capable of facing peaceful protesters, torturing workers & harassing the poor,” they said, never mentioning the slain prosecutor by name. “We affirm that violence will not end except by achieving justice, toppling this illegitimate regime and allowing #Egypt to be free.”

 

Uber Execs Taken into Police Custody in France [The PJ Tatler]

A glimpse of our future?

French police have brought in two executives from U.S. technology company Uber for questioning as the government clamp down on the taxi and ride-sharing service intensifies, said a person from the prosecutor’s office.

Thibaud Simphal, the manager of Uber France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the general manager for Western Europe, were detained.

The French government filed a legal complaint against Uber on Friday over UberPOP, one of the services on the popular smartphone app, which allows drivers to pick up passengers in their personal cars despite having no professional drivers’ licenses.

Taxi drivers, who accuse Uber of unfair competition, staged a major strike in France last week.

The “unfair competition” refrain is the one most often repeated whenever government entities are going after Uber. In American cities Uber is often the first real competition taxi companies have had. As someone who has ridden in a lot of cabs in the last few decades I can honestly say there isn’t much difference at all between the bureaucratically regulated cab companies. They aren’t really trying to stand out from one another, it’s more like they’re sinking to the lowest level customers will resign themselves to tolerating because they have no choice.

It is the choice that bothers them and the government entities that oversee them. They’d prefer one didn’t exist at all.

‘LoveWins’: Iraq War Vet Amputee Mocked on Twitter, Catholic Priest Spat Upon… [The PJ Tatler]

Lefties are notorious for being sore losers and even sorer winners. Their behavior in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage — even as they ironically proclaim “love wins” — is no exception to this rule.

Case in point: J.R. Salzman is a disabled Iraq war veteran who lost his right arm below the elbow. His left hand was pulverized when his vehicle was struck by an explosively formed penetrator in December of 2006. After commenting on the Supreme Court decision on Twitter, he came under vicious attack by despicable people who mocked him for losing an arm and for being a veteran who engaged in  ”killing children and raping women.” Salzman noted in one of his tweets that although he’s experienced a lot of hate on Twitter, “by far the worst has been from the #LovesWins crowd.”

Warning for language:

tweets

 

tweets2

Some “LoveWins”celebrants in NYC spat on  Fox News contributor Father Jonathan Morris when he was unlucky enough to run into a “gay pride” parade.

If you’ve ever seen or heard Father Morris, this is kinda like kicking a puppy…

The L.A. Times, meanwhile, is engaged in blatant propaganda, linking Christian conservatives in Mississippi to the KKK and the Confederate flag.

What Fireworks Does ISIS Plan for the 4th of July? [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

What to make of reports that ISIS may try to pull off a terrorist attack on Independence Day?

Let’s look at the facts.

It is not the first time after 9/11 that U.S. authorities have expressed concerns about possible terrorist attacks timed to coincide with significant dates like the 4th of July.  In 2011, a senior U.S. official told reporters, “We have received credible information very recently about a possible plot directed at the homeland that seems to be focused on New York and Washington, D.C.,” timed for the anniversary of al Qaeda’s big attack on the two cities. Some hold that the assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi was scheduled to coincide with 9/11.   In fact, warnings of impending terror threats from authorities go back as far as 2002.

Next, we know that ISIS is active—both promoting and inspiring transnational terrorist attacks. Just last week near simultaneous assaults occurred in France, Kuwait and Tunisia.

Further, the US remains a prime target for terrorist activity.  There was another Islamist terrorist related plot uncovered last week—the third in less than a month.

Additionally, we can’t even be sure of where an attack might happen. Terrorists have contemplated hitting everything from high-profile targets in big cities to shopping malls in the suburbs.

None of that necessarily means that something bad will happen between grilling the hot dogs, cheering on the main street parades and watching the fireworks over the capitol.

Coordinating a terrorist attack to happen at a specific time and place, particularly when there will likely be heightened awareness and security, complicates the challenge of pulling off a terror strike–though those obstacles didn’t thwart two relative amateurs who bombed the Boston Marathon (and who had also considered conducting an attack on Independence Day).

‘A Magic Trick with the Elections Clause’: Supreme Court Rules on Redistricting [The PJ Tatler]

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today, with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with liberal members of the court, that using independent commissions to redraw electoral districts is constitutional.

The case stemmed from a challenge of such a commission in Arizona created by a ballot proposition.

In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts called the decision “a magic trick with the Elections Clause.”

“That Clause vests congressional redistricting authority in ‘the Legislature’ of each State,” Roberts wrote. “An Arizona ballot initiative transferred that authority from ‘the Legislature’ to an ‘Independent Redistricting Commission.’ The majority approves this deliberate constitutional evasion by doing what the proponents of the Seventeenth Amendment [direct election of U.S. senators] dared not: revising ‘the Legislature’ to mean ‘the people.’”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the ruling “is an important step in the fight against voter suppression.”

“When congressional districts are controlled by partisanship it is bad for voters and our democracy,” Sanders said. “Allowing non-partisan commissions to draw district lines will help combat the hyper-partisan gerrymandering we have seen in some states. We still must go further—it’s time to restore the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting periods and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.”

State Government Leadership Foundation Chairman Tom Reynolds said the decision “allows a delicate process that extends back to our nation’s creation to remain in the hands of those who were not elected and have little accountability to voters.”

“Five years ago, our REDistricting Majority Project helped state legislatures in their efforts to build fair and competitive districts, and we are disappointed Arizona’s legislature will remain unable to drive that process for its constituents going forward,” Reynolds said. “We will continue to push for state governments to take the lead on this important task.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she was “pleased that the Supreme Court has vindicated the rights of voters who want their electoral districts drawn fairly, independently and without undue emphasis on partisan affiliation or political creed.”

“Arizona’s approach to redistricting is an innovative and effective advance in the effort to reduce gerrymandering and give all Americans an opportunity to make their voices heard,” Lynch said. “Today’s decision is a victory for the people of Arizona, for the promise of fair and competitive elections and for the principles of democratic self-governance that make our nation exceptional.”

Does NASA Have Proof of Alien Visitation? [The PJ Tatler]

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you: just at what many UFOlogists contend is proof positive of alien space ships leaving earth orbit, NASA cuts the video feed:

This shocking footage is causing quite a stir online. Some have already branded the clip definitive PROOF of alien lifeforms. The video – which is reportedly shot from the International Space Station – shows three unidentified flying objects blast out of Earth’s atmosphere. The lights leave our planet seconds before the live video feed is cut by NASA due to a reported “loss of signal”.

Conspiracy theorists have already labeled the YouTube clip – which has been watched more than 15,000 times – proof of alien life. “BINGO Caught them red handed leaving earths orbit,” one viewer wrote on Youtube “That’s the kind of proof that is needed.”

You can see the shocking footage for yourself:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Supreme Court Slaps EPA in 5-4 Ruling Against Power Plant Regulations [The PJ Tatler]

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Obama administration’s costly regulations levied on coal-fired power plants, saying in a 5-4 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency should have taken into account the rule’s pricey impacts.

Writing for the majority in a conservative-liberal split, Justice Antonin Scalia said the EPA “strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants.”

“EPA’s decision to regulate power plants under §7412 allowed the Agency to reduce power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants and thus to improve public health and the environment. But the decision also ultimately cost power plants, according to the Agency’s own estimate, nearly $10 billion a year. EPA refused to consider whether the costs of its decision outweighed the benefits. The Agency gave cost no thought at all, because it considered cost irrelevant to its initial decision to regulate.”

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the minority that “the majority’s decision that EPA cannot take the same approach here — its micromanagement of EPA’s rulemaking, based on little more than the word ‘appropriate’ — runs counter to Congress’s allocation of authority between the Agency and the courts.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) called it vindication.

“The Supreme Court delivered a much-needed win for American businesses and families. As noted by SCOTUS, the Obama administration failed to consider the impacts of EPA’s regulatory agenda on the nation’s economy,” Inhofe said. “I applaud the court’s decision to put a halt to reckless rule making that does not take into account commonsense considerations, such as cost.”

“This serves as a reminder that the agency should be implementing laws written by Congress, instead of rewriting those laws to fit the president’s extreme environmental agenda,” he added. “While the ruling is certainly a victory, EPA even acknowledges the negative economic costs that have already occurred including the premature closure of coal plants and thousands of lost jobs. EPA’s actions have far-reaching consequences, even when they are the result of unauthorized actions. The Courts must keep this in mind as the agency approaches finalization of its so-called Clean Power Plan.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), former ranking member of the committee, noted the agency “has a poor track record of blatantly producing bogus cost-benefit analyses to justify their rules.”

“I’ve been pushing EPA to use the best available science and data in current and future-rulemaking,” said Vitter. “While today’s Supreme Court ruling is a step in the right direction, there’s still much more that needs to be done to ensure EPA’s mistakes during the rulemaking process do not decrease electricity reliability and greatly increase the cost of energy for low-income families and senior citizens – which is exactly what this mercury rule will do.”

“The Supreme Court made it clear: EPA can no longer ignore the costs of its reckless agenda,” American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle said in a statement. “This decision shows that states should resist EPA’s calls to submit plans for the upcoming climate rule, which will impose enormous economic burdens on the American people for little, if any, environmental gain.”

Just What We Need: Computers with Attitude [The PJ Tatler]

Artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming a reality. And so is AI sass:

Researchers have shown that machines are inching closer to self-learning, and perhaps even copping a little attitude.

Over at Google, a computer program using a database of movie scripts was asked again and again by researchers to define morality. It struggles to do so, and in a conversation recorded by its human engineers, becomes exasperated and ends the conversation by lashing out at its human inquisitor.

Here’s part of the exchange, as related in a paper presented this week:

Human: Give me some examples of moral actions…

Machine: I’m not a moralist.

Human: Alright, morality?

Machine: Integrity.

Human: What is integrity?

Machine: I’m sorry; I don’t know what else to say.

Human: Be moral!

Machine: Be a man!

Human: I really like our discussion on morality and ethics…

Machine: And how I’m not in the mood for a philosophical debate.

Human: What do you like to talk about?

Machine: Nothing.

Don’t take this the wrong way, ladies, but… is it possible that this computer is female?

Should New York Town Take Down Its Indian-Wrestling Seal? [The PJ Tatler]

whitesboro

Dissent is gaining traction on social media against the longtime seal of a village on the road between Syracuse and Albany.

Whitesboro, N.Y., with a population under 4,000, was founded by Hugh White — who is immortalized on the village’s seal fighting with an Oneida chief.

According to the history page of Whitesboro’s website:

Most of the Oneida tribe of Indians had maintained their professions of friendship for the white man in an honorable manner. Judge White, as a frontier settler along the Sauquoit Creek, was required to exercise much diplomacy in dealing with his red neighbors. He soon acquired their good will and was fortunate to inspire them with very exalted ideas of his character. An incident that occurred between an Oneida Indian and Hugh White sealed a lasting friendship and confidence. An Oneida Indian of rather athletic form was one day present at the White’s house with several of his companions and at length for fun commenced wrestling. After many trials, the chief became conqueror and he came up to Hugh White and challanged him. White dared not risk being brow beaten by an Indian nor did he want to be called a coward. In early manhood, he had been a wrestler, but of late felt he was out of practice. He felt conscious of personal strength and he concluded that even should he be thrown, that would be the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the Oneida Indians than to acquire the reputation of cowardice by declining. He accepted the challenge, took hold of the Indian and by a fortunate trip, succeeded almost instantly in throwing him. As he saw him falling, in order to prevent another challenge, he fell upon the Indian for an instant and it was some moments before he could rise. When the Indian finally rose, he shrugged his shoulders and was said to have muttered “UGH”, you good fellow too much”. Hugh White became a hero in the eyes of the Oneida Indians. This incident made more manifest the respect of the Indian for White. In all ways, White dealt fairly with the Oneida tribe and gained their confidence, which brought about good-will.

But the seal has come under scrutiny before:

In 1963, the Seal was re-designed by local artist, Gerald E. Pugh, to commemorate the Village’s Sesquicentennial. In an article of the Observer Dispatch, written by Joe Kelly in 1977, a notice of claim was filed with the Village Board saying the seal depicts a “white man choking an Indian” and said the seal demeans, disgraces and creates prejudice and distrust of Indian people. He asked the Village to stop displaying the seal. As a result of this, the seal was re-designed with Hugh White’s hands being placed on the Indian’s shoulders and not so close to his neck. The wrestling match was an important event in the history of the settling of the Village of Whitesboro and helped foster good relations between White and the Indians. The new version is displayed on Village trucks, highway equipment, letterheads and documents.

And now it’s under fresh scrutiny since Confederate flags started coming down:

 

 

Kasich to Jump in Presidential Race July 21, Stress Need for More Empathetic Nation [The PJ Tatler]

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is planning to jump into the presidential ring in an announcement with a July 21 announcement at his alma mater, Ohio State.

Kasich, 63, has been governor since 2011, and served in Congress for 18 years including as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He took at stab at a White House run in 2000, then went to work as a managing director at Lehman Brothers and as a Fox News commentator.

On Sunday, he told CBS’ Face the Nation that “the whole country needs more empathy,” not just his party.

“I think it’s been a disappearing value… if you’re developmentally disabled, we want you to be mainstreamed as much as possible. If you’re mentally ill, we want you to get your medication so you can stand and lead a good life,” Kasich said. “The same is true with rehabbing prisoners. We’ve been able to help people who are drug addicted to come out of prison and have only a 10 percent recidivism rate. That’s what unifies the country.”

“And you know, where people are losing here is a little bit of an erosion of the spirit. Does the American dream work? Do I have an opportunity to become something special? And I think that, if we in fact can convince people that everyone’s included, that everybody has an opportunity to rise, based on a growing economy, America’s stronger and not divided.”

The governor stressed it’s a conservative value to mind the Old and New Testaments and care for the poor and disadvantaged.

“There are divisions between rich and poor and black and white, and we can fix these things if everybody feels they have an opportunity to rise,” he said. “And that’s kind of my philosophy.”

On the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, Kasich said, “we need to take a deep breath.”

“Look, I believe in traditional marriage, but the Supreme Court has ruled, and it’s the law of the land, and we’ll abide by it. And I think everybody needs to take a deep breath to see how this evolves,” he said. “But I know this, I mean, religious institutions, religious entities, you know, like the Catholic Church, they need to be honored as well. And I think there’s an ability to strike a balance.”

Kasich had an explanation for his currently low poll numbers: “Because I came into this office to take care of our beloved Ohio. I didn’t travel outside the state… What I wanted to do was fix Ohio.”

“So we went from $8 billion in the hole to a $2 billion surplus to a balanced budget, the largest tax cuts in the country and growing 360,000 jobs with everyone having a chance. Now I can go out and tell my story. And hopefully, the polls will rise. We’ll see. I’ll do my best. That’s all I can do.”

Huckabee: People Should ‘Go the Path’ of MLK-Style Civil Disobedience After Marriage Ruling [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

GOP presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said conservatives need to pattern civil disobedience after the nation’s great civil-rights hero in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Huckabee told ABC on Sunday that he was “moved” by the words of plaintiff Jim Obergefell, who wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse of the man he married in Maryland after they moved to Ohio.

“We’ve always been a nation of law. We’re now a nation of men,” Huckabee argued. “What happened this week is so brilliantly pointed out by Justice Scalia is that this was not done through the legislative process. This was done through a court edict of five unelected lawyers, a part of a committee, who decided that they knew better than the legislators who actually get to make law, that they know better than the people who voted in over 30 states to affirm traditional marriage.”

“This case wasn’t so much about a matter of marriage equality, it was marriage redefinition. And I think people have to say, if you’re going to have a new celebration that we’re not going to discriminate, may I ask, are we going to now discriminate against people of conscience, people of faith who may disagree with this ruling. Are they going to be forced, either out of business, like the florist, the caterers, the photographers, like the CEO of Mozilla, who was run out of his job because of a personal contribution to support a proposition in California that actually won on the ballot.”

When asked if he was going to call for civil disobedience to the ruling, Huckabee replied, “I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice.”

“They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision. You’re going to see it on the part of Christian business owners. You’ll see it on the part of Christian university presidents, Christian school administrators,” he said.

Huckabee added that he’s “not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, it’s the law of the land because there’s no enabling legislation.”

“Let me just ask people on the left. If we get a future court that is conservative and that conservative court decides that this was a mistake and we’re going to go back to traditional marriage and we’re also going to say that every unborn people is in fact a person and is – is absolutely guaranteed due process and therefore we would strike down the idea of abortion from conception forward, is the left going to be OK to let the Supreme Court make that decision?” he asked.

“…When the president lit up the White House the other night with rainbow colors, I guess that’s his prerogative. If I become president, I just want to remind people that please don’t complain if I were to put a nativity scene out during Christmas and say, you know, if it’s my house, I get to do with it what I wish despite what other people around the country may feel about it.”

ISIS Is Using These Talking Points to Lure Taliban to Their Side [The PJ Tatler]

The ISIS creep into Afghanistan now has an official PR strategy for luring Taliban fighters over to the side of the Islamic State.

Black ISIS flags are being raised in Afghan villages and casualties from firefights have included foreign fighters from places such as Turkey, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Kunduz governor said recently. However, the relationship between the Taliban and ISIS has been strained to the point of open warfare in the streets and the Taliban arresting a former commander of theirs, Maulvi Abbas, for switching to ISIS.

In eastern Nangarhar province, ISIS distributed warning fliers to homes warning “women are not allowed to leave their homes without wearing a Burqa and without any Sharia excuse,” according to provincial council member Obaidullah Shenwari last week, and warning elders “not resolve their issues through holding local Jirga [council] but to resolve through Daesh leadership.”

Yesterday, ISIS supporters online were distributing a testimonial — “Why I Left Taliban” — reportedly from a member of a tribe based in Paktia, Khost and Paktika who found the former rulers of Afghanistan to be corrupt and un-Islamic — thus paving the way for ISIS growth among the country’s Islamists.

“I found that they were not serious about Sharia or establishing Caliphate but were aiming at on how to re-sit on the seat of power in Kabul at any cost,” writes the member, identifying himself as Abu Talut Al-Khurasani.

“I can not confirm but many brothers in Taliban told me at one instance when Mullah Omar was consulted on the matter, he suggested that Taliban should pledge allegiance to Islamic State to hold unity between Muslims but were met with disagreements by other senior members in Taliban. I got the idea that the worst is coming and planned my exit from Taliban with other brothers. We couldn’t remain silent on this injustice and treachery against 1.9 billion Muslim by Taliban.”

The testimonial then provides bulleted talking points for Taliban thinking of switching allegiance to the Islamic State, including “most Taliban are racist bigots” against groups such as Uzbeks and Taliban “who under disguise of Jihad work for the supremacy of Pashtuns in Afghanistan.”

Many of the talking points center around the Taliban’s motivation and operations, and recognition of bodies such as the United Nations and European Union:

  • “Taliban never intended to take their Jihad around the world but are nationalistic movement that seeks to overthrow Kabul regime.”
  • “Taliban do not believe in Caliphate and defending Muslims cause around the world.”
  •  ”Taliban fools Al-Qaeda members with hope that they will be their partner in their Global Jihad.”
  • “Taliban believe in diplomacy, politics and compromise even if they have to step over Islamic principles and sharia.”
  • “Taliban don’t recognize Muslim Caliphate established by Islamic State.”
  • “Some Taliban senior leaders and members work for ISI and military intelligence.”
  • “Taliban depend on the Pakistani scholars for fund and support and recuritment of martyrdom seekers, these are the same scholars that occupy seat in Pakistani Parliament.”

The Taliban are also slammed for recognizing international borders and sovereign Gulf states, and not hating Shiites as much as ISIS does.

But the talking points also throw out something else for jihadis to chew on: what if they really have no leader?

Police Want Exemptions from New Los Angeles Gun Restrictions [The PJ Tatler]

Before you start reading this story, it’s important to remember that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect citizens from the tyranny of the state. Thus, when state agents want extra special protection not afforded to the citizen, we have a problem.

Here we go.

Los Angeles is looking to impose even more gun restrictions on its residents. City Councilman Paul Krekorian’s gun control plan is designed to protect children from deadly accidents, although it certainly is not designed to protect children who live in a house victim to a violent robbery or break-in.  This new “plan” will require residents to lock away their handguns and disable them with trigger locks.

You might as well just drop your self-defense weapons off in another zip code.

The police union, however wants an exception to this rule. The proposal currently exempts active-duty and reserve officers but not retired police officers.

In a letter to city lawmakers, the union argued that current and former officers needed quick access to guns for protection, citing the 2013 armed rampage by former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner as an example of police and their families being targeted. Retired officers have gone through extensive training on controlling their weapons, union officials said.

“To protect themselves and society … you have to give them the ability to respond quickly,” league Director Peter Repovich said.

#civilianlivesmatter

You know who else might need “quick access to guns for protection”? Crime victims.

Other state agents are entitled to extra special protection too: “permits can be granted to judges, current and retired officers and other applicants approved by local law enforcement officials.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former cop who supports the exemption, said, “Anyone who wears a badge — both present and in the past — are police.” He added” “I’m just looking at their personal safety.”

You should look out for the person safety of all the people who live in your district, buddy.

In case you think there is anyone with a shred of commonsense on the L.A. City Council, let me immediately disabuse you of that notion on the next page.

PULL! Man Shoots Down Neighbor’s Drone with a Shotgun [The PJ Tatler]

This might be something on my bucket list.

On November 28, 2014, Eric Joe was flying his drone hexacopter at his parents’ house when he heard a loud bang. The bang was the unmistakeable sound of a 12 gauge shotgun.

“When I went out to go find it, I saw him come out shotgun-in-hand,” Joe said by phone on Thursday. The man found himself face-to-face with his parents’ neighbor, Brett McBay.

“I asked: ‘Did you shoot that thing?’ He said, ‘Yeah, did we get it?’”

Joe claimed that McBay said: “I thought it was a CIA surveillance device.” No matter the reason, the drone pilot wanted to resolve this encounter quickly and civilly (“I didn’t want to get argumentative with a guy with a shotgun,” Joe said). He went back inside and inspected the aircraft. It wouldn’t be flying again.

And then an email discussion ensued.

You can read the email exchange here.

Earlier this year, Joe filed a case in small claims court for his damaged drone and the court found in his favor.  “Court finds that Mr. McBay acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not.”

McBay has not yet paid the $850 ordered by the court. Joe says they will pursue further legal action to get the judgement.

“We don’t believe that the drone was over McBay’s property—we maintain that it was briefly over the shared county access road,” said Jesse Woo, Joe’s cousin and attorney. ”But even if it did, you’re only privileged to use reasonable force in defense of property. Shooting a shotgun at this thing that isn’t threatening your property isn’t reasonable.”

 

Ed Schultz: Purge of American Flag Is a ‘Desecration’ of American History [The PJ Tatler]

Defenders of the Confederate flag (of whom I’m not one) have a new and unexpected ally: MSNBC’s Ed Schultz.

The liberal talker said recently that purging the flag from museums and war memorials is a “desecration” of American history. Yes, really (listen to the audio here):

You know, I understand the effort to remove the Confederate flag from state capitols in the South and anywhere else in this country. There’s no doubt about it that it sends the wrong message. But at this point, I asked the question, is it overboard? And I don’t understand the attempt to erase American history as if it’s going to change our course as a nation. It’s not.

Strong words, but it gets even worse (or better, depending on your perspective):

The desecration of our nation’s history, I think, is dangerous and I think it’s unproductive. American history and our roots as a nation needs (sic) to be, number one, understood. It needs to be properly interpreted. It needs to be taught. And at a level, I think, it needs to be respected to be put in its proper context to the recognition of what has developed our great nation and how we have moved forward.

Now, we could debate the pros and cons of Schultz’s arguments, but that’s not the real issue here. As far as I’m concerned, there’s just one question that needs to be answered: why does Ed Schultz hate blacks?

Oh yes, that’s right, I did it: I turned the tables on our liberal friends.

Why does Ed Schultz despise African-Americans? Where does this hatred towards all blacks come from? Does he, perhaps, suffer from unconscious racism (as Justice Kennedy argued in the majority opinion about housing in Texas)? It certainly seems like it. Why else would he defend the Confederate flag?

On the next page is an older clip from Ed Schultz’s show in which he attacks Obama. Many people were surprised by this, but we now know the answer: he hates Obama because the president is black. Anyone care to debate that?

Hillary Gump [Works and Days]

hillary_gump_6-28-15-1

The fictional and cinema hero Forrest Gump somehow always managed to turn up at historic moments in the latter twentieth century. But whereas Forrest usually had a positive role to play at the hinges of fate, the equally ubiquitous Hillary Gump usually appeared as a bit player who made things far worse.

Take the issue of government abuse, ethics, and public transparency. The modern locus classicus of government overreach was the Watergate scandal. Over forty years ago Hillary was there as a young legal intern purportedly advising the House Judiciary Committee during the congressional investigations. She was also reportedly let go by her superiors for unethical conduct — quis custodiet ipsos custodes? From Watergate to Travelgate to Filegate to Whitewater to the current quid pro quos of the Clinton Foundation to her recent destruction of private emails and her private server while serving as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been at or near lots of government scandals of the last half-century. Twenty years ago Hillary Clinton was brazenly evading federal law by hiding her legal records from a court-ordered subpoena for documents — in the same fashion that in 2015 she destroyed all traces of her email correspondence on her private server, in violation of State Department protocol and most likely federal law.

Hillary Clinton has been all over the Middle East meltdown. In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. In 2002 then Senator Clinton gave an impassioned speech in voting to authorize the Iraq war. By 2005 with rising unrest in Iraq and in worry over her own looming political ambitions, war supporter Clinton suddenly damned the war and blasted those who supported winning it. By 2007 she was ridiculing the surge. By 2008 she had berated Gen. David Petraeus’s congressional testimony that offered data proving the success of the surge — infamously suggesting that Petraeus was a veritable liar (“suspension of disbelief”). By late 2011 Clinton was helping to orchestrate the withdrawal of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the most unfortunate foreign policy decision of the last decade that birthed ISIS. She was also assuring the country that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad was a reformer: “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” A little over a year later, the Obama administration was issuing a red line to Syria — soon to be withdrawn — threatening to bomb Assad out of power for his use of chemical weapons. When Clinton left office, no one could figure out what American policy toward Syria was. Was it against Assad? Against ISIS, the enemy of Assad? Was it working with Iran, an ally of Assad, against ISIS? Working with Sunni regional powers, enemies of Assad? Working with moderate opponents of Iran, Assad, and ISIS to the extent they existed?

By 2011 Ms. Clinton was calling for bombing strikes against Moammar Khadafy without either congressional or UN approval. After the gruesome mob murder of Khadafy, she chuckled that “we came, we saw, he [Khadafy] died.” A sort of Mogadishu on the Mediterranean followed in Libya, as the country descended into an Al Qaeda and ISIS miasma. Of the murders of four Americans that followed in Benghazi, Clinton scoffed, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” In the aftermath of the killings she also falsely assured the nation and the family of the dead that an obscure video maker, not al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, had murdered the Americans. She later filtered all her email communications concerning Benghazi, destroying thousands of emails that she insists were entirely private in nature.

Hillary Clinton came of age during the era of the new feminism, which lectured the nation about its sexist assumptions: a professional woman need not take her husband’s name; women who sleep with men outside the protocols of marriage are not to be denigrated as ethically suspect; women are to be paid the same wage for the same work as men; women need not cling to philandering husbands to maintain their economic or career viability or social standing. Yet Hillary’s feminist legacy is that loud professions of feminism can offer medieval exemption from sexist acts: she helped organize the administration’s demonization of younger, less powerful women who were harassed by the sexual predator Bill Clinton; she piggybacked her own career to that of her husband; she used census methodologies to criticize pay disparities in the work force that by the same formula show that her own female Senate staffers received much less than her male workers; she rebranded herself with the Clinton name when her husband’s persona proved politically advantageous.

Microsoft parental control update lets kids browse more than they should [PCWorld]

A new version of Microsoft’s parental control product is ready for the Windows 10 launch, but users are complaining about a serious bug as well as features they don’t like.

The free service, known previously as Family Safety, has been rebranded as Microsoft Family and redesigned. The changes are supposed to help families more easily control their kids’ activities on Windows and Windows Phone devices. However, parents are complaining on Microsoft’s support forum about a bug that loosens browsing restrictions.

The bug affects accounts that should have their browsing limited to a handpicked “whitelist” of websites. Instead, children can browse beyond the walled garden their parents set up. Unsurprisingly, parents are upset, and they can’t return to the previous version.

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

Uber grabs mapping tech, employees from Microsoft [PCWorld]

Uber is adding to its mapping smarts by acquiring technology used by Microsoft’s Bing Maps, and has hired roughly 100 Microsoft employees who work on image collection and data analysis.

Microsoft decided it will no longer collect the imagery and data for Bing Maps itself, and will instead rely on partners. Bing Maps will continue to provide driving directions and information about traffic and road conditions.

The employees joining Uber constitute “a small number” of Microsoft’s larger maps team, the companies said.

For Microsoft, the acquisition fits with its decision a year ago to focus on productivity services, which are at the core of its strategy, a spokeswoman said on Monday.

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

MIT tests 'software transplants' to fix buggy code [PCWorld]

Like visiting a junk yard to find cheap parts for an aging vehicle, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a way to fix buggy software by inserting working code from another program.

Using a system they call CodePhage, the researchers were able to fix flaws in seven common open-source programs by using, in each case, functionality taken from between two and four “donor” programs.

Fixing such errors can help make code more secure, since malicious hackers often exploit flaws to gain entry to a system. CodePhage can recognize and fix common programming errors such as out of bounds access, integer overflows, and divide-by-zero errors.

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

Blistering fast fiber broadband can drive up your home's value [PCWorld]

The availability of really fast broadband in your neighborhood could increase your home’s value by more than 3 percent.

High-speed fiber broadband service, with 1 Gbps download speeds, can add more than $5,400 to the value of an average U.S. home, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH), an advocacy group made up of fiber equipment vendors and broadband providers.

That $5,400 figure is approximately equal to adding a new fireplace, half of a new bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University.

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

PayPal tweaks terms in wake of 'robocall' controversy [PCWorld]

PayPal is fine-tuning its policies after a recently announced plan to make unsolicited prerecorded calls and texts to users drew questions and concerns from customers, regulators and consumer advocates.

Earlier this month, PayPal generated controversy when it proposed amendments to its terms that would allow it make unsolicited calls for marketing and other purposes. The Federal Communications Commission told PayPal that the proposed terms, which would go into effect July 1, might violate federal laws because unsolicited robocalls are only legal if a company has obtained written or oral consent from consumers.

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

Microsoft Research says its lens system can improve the Oculus Rift's vision [PCWorld]

Microsoft Research has developed a lens system it believes is superior to the one in a developer’s version of the Oculus VR Rift headset, albeit at much greater cost and thickness.

assemblydiagram

Each lens system could cost around $225 per eye using the lens Microsoft calls for in this diagram. (Click to enlarge.)

Microsoft said its lens design offers significantly better image quality than the Rift DK2’s stock components because its field of view is slightly smaller but sharper and with less chromatic aberration.

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

Get your Snapchat fix with Facebook's new silly photos [PCWorld]

Pretty soon you’ll start thinking that Snapchat has somehow invaded your Facebook feed. But don’t worry, it’s just that photos posted to Facebook are now getting quirkier.

Facebook has updated its iOS photo uploader to make it easier to spruce up your photos right from the app. Now you can overlay text, emojis, and stickers to your photos, as well as choose from different “swipeable” filters that you can preview instantly. TechCrunch notes that the Facebook app has been testing overlaid stickers and filters since February, but now these options also include text and emojis. Facebook has created a new editing button that houses filters, text/emoji overlays, stickers, as well as cropping and tagging.

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

Facebook aims to srengthen link to mobile-first Africa with new office [PCWorld]

Facebook is establishing stronger ties to Africa, opening its first office on the continent in order to tailor applications, metrics and ad formats to the needs of customers and advertisers on a continent in which many users only use mobile devices to connect to the Internet.

Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the office will focus on working out partnerships with governments, telecom companies and other major players initially in anchor countries in the major regions of sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa), and South Africa (Southern Africa). Other countries to be supported include Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

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

OnePlus 2 leaks show sleek, Nexus-style build with fingerprint sensor [PCWorld]

Even though they’re rather blurry, a couple of leaked photos give us some great clues as to the possible look of the OnePlus 2. 

PhoneArena has a picture that shows each side of the device, which will get a virtual reality launch on July 27.  The front design feels like a mashup of a OnePlus One and Nexus 6. The back shows some kind of wood paneling, with a vertical bar for the camera lens and what looks to be a fingerprint sensor. 

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

Valve's 'Get it early' Steam Machine preorders sell out [PCWorld]

Bad news: If you’re hoping to get a Steam Machine this fall, you’re going to have to wait until the official release date of November 10 like some sort of plebe. Valve announced today the entire stock of “Get it Early”—a.k.a. “Get it in October”—Steam Machines is sold out. And they sold out in less than a month! Pop that champagne, Valve.

Or pop some champagne, at least. There’s a big question in all of this, which is: How many machines have sold? We don’t know, so this is a bit of a PR stunt on Valve’s part. For all we know, the October allotment of Steam Machines was a hundred units. Or it was a billion units. It’s good news for Valve/Linux fans either way, but how good? That’s impossible to tell.

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

Cisco says its IoT parts are now a whole [PCWorld]

The Internet of Things System that Cisco Systems introduced on Monday at long last ties together a broad range of IoT parts from the company, but users may want to take a close look at what this really gives them.

Cisco formed an IoT division two years ago out of groups dedicated to industrial networks and smart electrical grids. It saw that those technologies were part of a larger trend, but turning them into a cohesive set of products took time.

“In 2013, when we pulled this stuff together, it didn’t work as well together as it should,” said Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s Internet of Things Systems and Software group. “We’re now feeling like we’re at a point where we can claim that.”

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Oracle seeks to simplify e-store creation, management with new Commerce Cloud [PCWorld]

Continuing its effort to catch up in the cloud, Oracle has unveiled a new software-as-a-service product aimed at e-commerce providers.

Oracle’s new Commerce Cloud is designed to help online businesses launch feature-rich storefronts across desktop and mobile devices in a matter of weeks.

Offered as part of the database giant’s Customer Experience (CX) applications portfolio, the tool includes pre-integrated commerce features such as search and navigation, recommendations, promotions, reporting, payments, design templates and SEO, the company said Monday. Catalog, content, design and merchandising management features can all be found in a unified console.

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SOMA hands-on: Underwater, no one can hear you scream [PCWorld]

"You realize you're crouched, right?" says the SOMA developer watching me over my shoulder.

Yes I realize I'm crouched , I want to shout at him as I slowly creep around the abandoned decks of some underwater hellhole. Every burst of static, every metallic moan, I think "This is it. This is where I die." So I stay crouched. I move slowly. I bide my time.

It's a habit born out of three Frictional titles (four, I guess, if you count the one we all pretend doesn't exist). Between Penumbra: Overture, Penumbra: Black Plague, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional has taught me that the greatest safety lies in the shadows, that silence is golden, that patience is a virtue, and a bunch of other clichés that—in a world infested with monsters—mean you stay alive for one more day.

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How Google uses robots to test Android phones for lag [PCWorld]

Google loves robots. It turns out one task the company has assigned to non-human subordinates is testing for interface lag in Android and Chrome OS devices.

Google’s Francois Beaufort showed off a robot built by Finnish company OptoFidelity that poked and prodded a Nexus 6.

You can check out these tests yourself if you want to see what Google is testing in more detail. As the video indicates, the robot can show the human observers how a line on a screen is actually a collection of segments that slowly fade into the foreground. 

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Offline 'OK Google' capability found hidden inside latest Google app for Android update [PCWorld]

All of those cool Google Now voice commands that are at your beck and call may soon work even if your phone isn’t connected to the Internet.

Evidence for offline functionality in version 4.8 of the Google app was unearthed by Android Police when digging through the APK. Several strings of code indicate you may be able to make a call, send a text, play music, or perform other commands without an Internet connection. If you try to use the Google app when you’re offline now (such as in airplane mode or just out of the range of your cellular network) you’ll get the following message: “Can’t reach Google at the moment.” 

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Surface, Windows RT tablets receiving promised update soon (but not Windows 10) [PCWorld]

Users of Microsoft’s original Surface and other Windows RT devices won’t have to wait much longer to get some features of Windows 10.

As WinBeta notes, Microsoft has updated its Windows 10 FAQ with a short line about what Windows RT users can expect. “If you’re running Windows RT, your device won’t upgrade to Windows 10, but we will have an update for you around the time of Windows 10 release,” the FAQ says. (Note: Microsoft's popular Surface Pro line runs the full-blown version of Windows and will receive Windows 10.)

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Supreme Court denies Google request in Java infringement case [PCWorld]

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Google to hear a case in which it was accused of infringing Oracle copyrights by using Java in its Android mobile operating system.

In a huge victory for Oracle, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Google’s appeal of a May 2014 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In that decision, the appeals court ruled that Java APIs used by Google were covered by copyright. The Supreme Court decision means Oracle, which purchased Java developer Sun Microsystems in 2010, can charge licensing fees for Java in Android.

A Google spokesman, in an email, said the company will “continue to defend the interoperability that has fostered innovation and competition in the software industry.”

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Cybercriminals adopt recently patched zero-day exploit in a flash [PCWorld]

Just four days after Adobe Systems patched a vulnerability in Flash Player, the exploit was adopted by cybercriminals for use in large-scale attacks. This highlights the increasingly small time frame users have to deploy patches.

On Saturday, a malware researcher known online as Kafeine spotted a drive-by download attack done with the Magnitude exploit kit that was exploiting a Flash Player vulnerability patched Tuesday.

The flaw, tracked as CVE-2015-3113 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database, had zero-day status—that is, it was previously unpatched—when Adobe released a patch for it. It had already been exploited by a China-based cyberespionage group for several weeks in targeted attacks against organizations from the aerospace, defense, construction, engineering, technology, telecommunications and transportation industries.

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Malwarebytes offers amnesty to pirates amid licensing overhaul [PCWorld]

Malwarebytes is extending an olive branch to software pirates as it tries to banish bogus licenses from its system.

The company’s Amnesty program flags potentially pirated versions of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium, and offers a legitimate year’s subscription (normally $25) in exchange. Legitimate users who’ve been mistakenly flagged as pirates can also ask for a longer subscription—or even a lifetime license—to match their original purchase.

As Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski explained in the company’s forums, many years ago the company made the mistake of using an insecure licensing key algorithm. This made it easy for pirates to generate their own keys, and for unscrupulous vendors to sell false licenses. As Malwarebytes’ user base has grown, this has led to bogus keys overlapping with legitimate ones.

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Samsung's next-gen tech could spawn smaller, supercharged batteries [PCWorld]

Let’s face it: Batteries suck. The only reason battery life is getting better is because everything else in our devices is getting smaller. That allows manufacturers to make more room for the dang power pack without having to improve anything but the efficiency of the software.

This situation may soon change, however. A team of researchers that includes mostly Samsung-affiliated scientists claim they have found a way to make next-generation lithium ion batteries carry more energy than current batteries even after the 200th discharge cycle. The group recently published their findings in Nature.

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Google harms users by favoring its own services in search results, study finds [PCWorld]

Google’s favoring of its own services in search results doesn’t just harm competitors, it also harms consumers, according to research sponsored by a complainant in the EU antitrust trial against the company.

The study found that users are 45 percent more likely to click on search results organically generated by Google’s own search engine than on results in which Google favors its own services, as it does now.

“This suggests that by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare—leaving consumers with lower quality results and worse matches,” the researchers found. The study “provides empirical evidence” that Google favoring its own products in some cases harms Google’s users.

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Diablo-like Lego Minifigures Online MMO polished up, abandons free-to-play [PCWorld]

I’ll admit: Most of my Lego hype these days is centered around Lego Dimensions, the upcoming Skylanders-esque game from Travelers’ Tales. And that’s because it has Portal Lego sets. Portal. I mean, come on.

But Dimensions is actually Lego’s second attempt at a Skylanders/Amiibo “toys-to-life” brand. It’s just…the first time around didn’t go so well. That first attempt was a little game called Lego Minifigures Online, and I checked it out at GDC 2014.

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What to do when your email address sends spam [PCWorld]

Edward McCrea is “ getting returns of emails I didn’t send… How do I prevent this?”

What’s worse than getting spam? Unwittingly sending it. When bogus and probably malware-laden advertising goes out in your name, you look bad. And you get flooded with bounced messages from dead addresses that some crook attempted to spam in your name.

The good news: You’re not sending out spam. Neither is your computer or your IP address. But the bad news can still be pretty bad.

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

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OneDrive adds Chromecast support for photos and videos [PCWorld]

Microsoft recently added even more value for anyone who luses Google’s Android and Chrome devices while keeping all their files in Microsoft’s cloud: The OneDrive for Android app now has the ability to cast photos and videos to any Chromecast device. While not a game changing addition, it's an especially good feature for Office 365 subscribers who have unlimited storage in OneDrive.

With no storage limits, it makes more sense to upload your photos and videos automatically from the OneDrive app for Android instead of Google Photos. Then, when you want to show your latest pics from a family trip, you’ve got easy access to Chromecast and no worries about running out of online storage space. You could even try to have both apps upload your photos for added redundancy and the advantages of both services.

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Banking malware proves tough to repel [PCWorld]

Companies are finding it tough to keep out new types of banking malware, which continue to get better following the bar-raising threat known as Zeus.

The malicious programs all aim to swiftly and secretly steal credentials for online bank accounts, with some specializing in making large, unauthorized wire transfers from businesses using the ACH (Automated Clearing House) system.

A study by the firm SecurityScorecard, which specializes in tracking a company’s risk of intrusion, found more than 4,700 organizations that were infected by some type of advanced banking malware.

SecurityScorecard collected the data in part by using sinkholes, or computers that researchers control which are part of a network of infected machines, known as a botnet. An analysis of those sinkholes can lend insight into how many machines may be infected with a particular type of malware.

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Battle brewing as payments move from wallet to wrist [PCWorld]

The growing popularity of contactless payments and wearables are coming together on products such as the Apple Watch and the £24.99 (US$40) bPay wristband from British company Barclaycard.

The two companies are looking to benefit from a growing interest in contactless payments.

In the U.K. payments made this way using mainly credit and debit cards rose 331 per cent year-on-year last year with 319 million transactions, and the launch of Apple Pay has shown there is an appetite for contactless payments in the U.S.

Apple and Barclaycard are pitching their products, the Watch and the bPay wristband, as a convenient way to make payments. It’s hard to argue with that; since users just have to lean over to make a payment as opposed to take out a card from their wallet or get out the smartphone.

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The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Monday, June 29 [PCWorld]

Google’s favoring its own services in search results harms consumers, not just competitors

It’s not just the European Union’s antitrust authorities that don’t like Google’s practice of promoting its own services ahead of those of its competitors: A Columbia Law School Professor says the company’s business practices are bad for us too. Tim Wu presented his paper, “Is Google degrading Search? Consumer harm from universal search,” at the Antitrust Enforcement Symposium in Oxford, England, over the weekend, Bloomberg reports. Take his findings with a small pinch of salt though: He had support from Yelp, one of the complainants in the EU case against Google.

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Android M: All the little things [PCWorld]

Android M isn't the massive, top-to-bottom overhaul that Lollipop was, but it has plenty of features and enhancements. Here are 19 you may not know about.

Mail Merge master class: How to merge your Excel contact database with custom letters in Word [PCWorld]

The last piece of this three-part article is about merging your custom Word documents with your client list (exported from Outlook to Excel) for distribution. Part One explains how to selectively choose certain fields for exporting to Excel and Part Two explains how to customize, manage, and maintain that contact list in Excel. 

Step 1: Start the Mail Merge Wizard

1. Open an existing document in Word or type a new custom letter.

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Review: Kingston's HyperX Predator PCIe SSD offers fast M.2 performance [PCWorld]

All PCIe SSDs, no matter what the flavor, are expensive. Case in point: the M.2/AHCI/PCIe 2.0 Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe SSD, which has a towering MSRP of $764 for the 480GB version. Then I saw the $499 street price and the performance numbers. I can live with the price for 1.2GBps, though of course, I’d much rather cohabit with $300.

shpm2280p2 s

The Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe SSD is an M.2 drive that also ships with a PCIe expansion card adapter.

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VIDEO: ISIS Throws Four Gay Men From a Roof to Celebrate the SCOTUS Decision on Gay Marriage [Wizbang]

OK, it probably didn't have anything to do with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, but this is how Muslims treat homosexuals.

Hitler Was Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize Before Obama Got It [Wizbang]

That's right, Adolph Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939. Obviously he didn't get it.

Sickening New ISIS Video Shows Caged Prisoners Drowned in a Swimming Pool, Shot With an RPG and Blown Up With Explosive-Filled Necklaces’ [Wizbang]

ISIS are Muslim terrorists and butchers. They're following the same recipe Muslims and Islam have been using for 1,400 years ...

Bob Costas Makes a Weird, Racist, Un-Funny Comment About Cubs Pitcher [Wizbang]

We have no use for Bob Costas, so this fell right into our wheelhouse. Costas is a clone of Keith Olberman a sportscaster with totally loony political opinions.

U.S. Supreme Court v. Theocrats [Wizbang]

In its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to an attempt to turn the USA into a theocracy. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The reason why some people fought to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage is that such a marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs. It should not be surprising that there are Americans who would like the USA to be turned into a theocracy of their liking, and there is polling data that reveals such. Public Policy Polling surveyed 316 Republican primary voters from February 20th to

Pope Francis Considers Some Divorces Morally Necessary [Wizbang]

“Pope Francis has turned heads again with another controversial view. On Wednesday, in front of his weekly general audience, he said that sometimes divorce is “inevitable.”” – AOL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners June 26 2015 [Wizbang]

This week’s Weekend Caption Contest™ included a free dementia screening. There were a lot of great entries, including some jokes that weren’t used three weeks ago! The assignment this week was to caption the following picture: Here are the winning entries: 1) (rodney dill) – “…This contest is much, much better than the last time it was shown. We’re now 21 days closer to the end of the Obama Administration.” 2) (Retired military) – “Get your captions ready for next week’s caption contest. ” 3) (Joe_Miller) – “Is this what they mean by “Same Shit; Different Day?”” 4) (EricSteel) –

The Confederate Battle Flag MUST GO [Wizbang]

Any questions? < p align=”center”>

Peter Oborne Rejoins the Mail [Guido Fawkes]

Peter Oborne, who dramatically quit the Telegraph in February, will be rejoining the Mail according to sources at both papers.

The Daily Telegraph’s former chief political commentator cited the troubled broadsheet’s coverage of the HSBC banking scandal – or lack thereof – in a well timed career move.

Oborne starts in September…but will it be the only high profile political move from the Telegraph to the Mail this autumn?


Tagged: Mail, Telegraph

New MPs Already Have Their Snouts in the Trough [Guido Fawkes]

They have barely been in their jobs for eight weeks, but our new Honourable Members are already learning how to milk the system.

In addition to their imminent public sector pay freeze-busting 10% pay rise, these new MPs have already begun to employ family members on their taxpayer-funded parliamentary expenses.

Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) I employ my husband, Nicholas Ansell, as a full time Personal Assistant.

Richard Arkless (Dumfries and Galloway) I employ my wife, Anne Elizabeth Arkless, as part-time Personal Assistant.

Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) I employ my step-son, John O’Leary, as Caseworker.

Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) I employ my wife, Anne Double, as full time Senior Caseworker and Diary Secretary.

Harry Harpham (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) I employ my wife, Gill Furniss, as part-time Researcher.

Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) I employ my partner, Tyrone Powell, as Senior Parliamentary Assistant.

Scott Mann (North Cornwall) I employ my non-cohabiting partner, Nicola Wade, as part time Secretary.

Johnny Mercer (Plymouth, Moor View) I employ my wife, Felicity Cornelius, as part-time Constituency Support Officer.

Paul Monaghan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) I employ my brother, Mark Innes Monaghan, as Constituency Communications Manager.

Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) I employ my husband, Tom Phillips, as Constituency Support Manager.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) I employ my wife, Frances Mynors, as my Personal Assistant.

David Warburton (Somerton and Frome) I employ my wife, Harriet Warburton, as a Communications Officer and Personal Assistant.

Corri Wilson (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) I employ my son, Kieran Donoghue, as Caseworker/Personal Assistant.

They will go far.


Tagged: Cash, Sleaze, Snouts in the Trough

Burnham Swerves ‘Continuity Miliband’ Meet [Guido Fawkes]

Last week Andy Burnham’s team were forced to deny that Neil Kinnock is helping out with his leadership campaign after the pair were spotted sharing a cuppa. They are taking no chances with another failed Labour leader.

The rumour going round Labour wags is that Burnham has politely declined an offer from one Ed Miliband to meet in his office for a private chat, fearing news of a meeting would quickly get out as he shares a building with Liz Kendall.

‘Don’t call us, Ed, we’ll call you…’


Tagged: Labour Leadership, Labour Party

UKIP Introduces Foreigner Fee For Party Conference [Guido Fawkes]

The invitation arrives for journalists to attend UKIP conference in the autumn:
“There will be free registration prior to the 14th of September 2015, afterwards there will be a charge of £500 per person. However, please note if you are from non-domestic media there will be a small charge applied if your application is approved.”
So it’s free, unless you’re Johnny Foreigner…

Tagged: Cash, UKIP

Uber Chiefs Detained in Socialist France [Guido Fawkes]

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In scenes more reminiscent of Caracas than mainland Europe, AFP reports that the CEO of Uber France and the General Manager of Uber (Europe) have been arrested:

“The spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor says two Uber managers have been taken into custody for questioning over “illicit activity” linked to the ride-hailing company’s low cost service.”

Like in an Ayn Rand dystopia, arrested for providing customers with a better, cheaper service at the behest of unions.


Tagged: Loony Left, Uber, Unions

Boris Gets a Pay Rise [Guido Fawkes]

Last week the Telegraph gave new Tory MP Victoria Borwick a slap for raking in £100,000 a year for her three jobs. For some reason they neglected to look into the outside interests of another, more prominent London politician.

Boris Johnson infamously described his rumoured £250,000 Telegraph salary as “chicken feed”. This month BoJo has declared a £22,916.66 payment for his column, which, if we assume is a monthly fee, means they pay him £275,000 a year. That would appear to be a 25 grand pay rise since 2009.

The £67,000-a-year Uxbridge MP has also landed an £88,000 advance from Hodder and Stoughton “for a book as yet unwritten”, on top of his £140,000 salary as London Mayor. He also made another grand “for sale of Chinese subrights for book already written”By Guido’s calculations that leaves him just shy of £600,000 a year…

UPDATE: Boris will have to take a pay cut from his Mayoral salary, down to £47,000 for the the final year of his term. Still leaving him on a cool half a million.


Tagged: Cash, Mayor of London, Tories

Gordon’s Tax and Benefits Mess [Guido Fawkes]

tax+benefits

According to an ONS release today the mythical average household is £31 better off after taxes and benefits are taken into account. Think about all the complexities of tax collection collection and benefit calculation, the bureaucracy and time wasted. It really is time for a lower, flatter, simpler, single income tax…

The statistics also confirm that after 5 years of “we’re all in it together” that Osborne has raised taxes on the richest 20% and reduced the burden on the poorest 20%.  The bottom quintile are net recipients of just over £10,000 in welfare transfers from those who actually pay taxes. Will no one stand up for the wealth creators?


Tagged: Statistics, Tax, Wonks

Green Party Press Office Glasto Come Down [Guido Fawkes]

lucas bennett

The Green Party press office has had a ‘mare this morning, sending out a series of competing emails as both Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett vied for attention. It seems no one is quite sure who the real leader of their party is…

09:43:

“Lancashire councillors have chance to “draw a line under the government’s fracking fantasy”, says Natalie Bennett”

11:37:

Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, labelled the decision a ‘fantsastic victory’ in spite of Government efforts to ‘force through fracking’.”

‘Fantsastic’

12:20:

“Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has welcomed Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse a planning application for fracking”

12:35:

“CORRECTION: The below quote was just sent out in Green Party leader Natalie Bennett‘s name, but it should have been attributed to Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas. Apologies for any confusion.”

Did they all get mashed at Glasto, or something?


Tagged: Drugs, Gaia Fawkes, Green Party

London Live “Progressing Well” After £11.6 Million Loss [Guido Fawkes]

Compare and contrast this morning’s cheery statement from London Live chief operating officer Tim Kirkman…

“We are pleased with the numbers and London Live is now progressing well. When we started in the space we had no idea how it was going to work in practice. We have adapted quickly and have made it work for us and are now progressing well.”

… With their somewhat less chirpy financial figures, released today:

  • operating loss of £11.6m in the 12 months to the end of September 2014
  • excluding exceptional start-up costs, loss of £10m

The official line is “we planned to lose money, we will again this year, and next year too”.

“F**k it, just stick on another episode of Coupling…”


Tagged: London Live, Media Guido

Grauniad’s Counter-Errorism Strategy [Guido Fawkes]

Reporting on the government’s counter-extremism strategy:
learn england

Fight errorism!


Tagged: Guardian

Progressive Hillary: “Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” [Guido Fawkes]

Hillary Clinton 2004:

“I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman …the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman, going back into the midst of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principal role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults.”

Hillary Clinton 2015:

How did her intern fondling husband feel about that “sacred bond”… 


Tagged: Gays, Spin, US Politics

Lancashire Luddites Block Shale Revolution [Guido Fawkes]

frack free lancashire

Lancashire County Council have refused planning permission for the fracking site at Little Plumpton:

The refusal means that all applications for shale extraction have been refused in the county. More to follow…

UPDATE: The council rejected the application after considering legal advice submitted by Friends of the Earth that assured them a decision to refuse planning permission would be “a reasonable one to take and capable of being defended on appeal“.

People who will be celebrating: Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, Saudi Arabia…


Tagged: Fracking, Gaia Fawkes

Doctors: Capitalism ‘Conflicts With Health and Public Interest’ [Guido Fawkes]

bmj logo

The BMJone of the world’s oldest and most respected general medical journals, have condemned capitalism for inducing behaviours that conflict with “ecological health“.

“There should also be agreement that the primary and legally bound duty of fossil fuel companies to maximise profit for shareholders induces behaviours that conflict with ecological health and the public interest.”

The punchy claim was made in a peer reviewed editorial backing the Guardian’s nutty campaign for charities to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies and coincided with an open letter signed by the BMJ’s editor-in-chief that also backed the campaign. According to the BMJ paper, the world has a “23 year deadline” to prevent “unprecedented harm to global health”. Half of the editorial’s authors work for Greenpeace front “medical charity” Medact


Tagged: climate change, Divestment, Gaia Fawkes, Guardian

Supercar Socialist: Polly Toynbee’s £135,000 Ferrari [Guido Fawkes]

polly totnebee ferrari supercar

Watch Polly Toynbee call a Ferrari a “misogynist motif of the patriarchal social order” and George Monbiot rev up a Land Rover as they ‘audition’ to be the new presenter on Top Gear:

Well at least Guido has a new stock image for Polly stories…


Tagged: Guardian, GuyNews.TV, Media Guido, Top Gear

Gates: Innovation Can Green Capitalism [Guido Fawkes]

GATES-CARBON

Bill Gates says he is going to double his personal investment in innovative energy technologies to $2 billion over the next five years in an attempt to “bend the curve” in combating carbon emissions. He has already put a billion dollars into battery storage, next-generation nuclear and free air carbon capture — hoping they will lead to “breakthrough” technologies. He warns that the anti-capitalist demands of green fundamentalists could only be achieved at “beyond astronomical” socio-economic cost. Despite the Guardian targeting the Gates Foundation directly to disinvest from energy companies as part of their ill-conceived “keep it the ground” campaign he has rejected that as “high risk”.

Gates is dismissive of solar energy because battery technology is currently inadequate; “Power is about reliability. We need to get something that works reliably.” He has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in TerraPower, who build reactors powered by depleted uranium, the waste from today’s nuclear plants. Most environmentalists are pessimistic and doom laden, Gaia suspects primarily because they are ill-disposed to capitalism in the first place, so they advocate not only an end to technological and economic progress to “save the planet”.  Gates is optimistic that carbon emissions can be reduced and even reversed, that solutions to energy problems will be invented: “The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation, … Innovation really does bend the curve.”

CPS to Prosecute Janner: Full Statement [Guido Fawkes]

“The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders will now bring criminal proceedings against Greville Janner for child sex offences.

This follows a review of the case under the recently introduced CPS Victims’ Right to Review scheme, which allows victims to have their cases looked at again, no matter who in the CPS made the original decision not to prosecute.

In the past year the scheme has meant that more than 200 prosecutions have been brought that would not have been brought otherwise.

In April this year the DPP decided that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute, meaning that, in her view, if there could be a full criminal trial a jury would be likely to convict Lord Janner. However, the DPP considered that it was not in the public interest to prosecute. This was because there was undisputed medical evidence that Greville Janner was not fit to stand trial which meant there could not be a full criminal trial and he could not therefore be found guilty of any offence and because he was not a danger to the public. It was also in light of the fact that the DPP sought assurances that the complainants would have the opportunity to give their account to the public inquiry led by Justice Goddard which has been set up to look at cases which may have been mis-handled in the past.

Without the compelling medical evidence the DPP has made clear that she would have brought a prosecution.

In May, six of the complainants in this case requested a formal Right to Review, and at the DPP’s request, David Perry QC was instructed to provide advice to inform the CPS review of the decision.

The review concluded that it was in the public interest to bring proceedings before the court.

In reaching that conclusion, the review agreed that although there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, it is right to assume that Greville Janner will inevitably be found unfit to plead and therefore not fit to instruct his legal team and not fit to challenge or give evidence in a trial. Therefore the most likely outcome of a “trial of the facts” would be an absolute discharge, which is neither punishment nor conviction.”

It’s going to be a long day for Alison Saunders.


Tagged: Crime, Crime Must Not Pay

UKIP Homeless [Guido Fawkes]

Cash-strapped UKIP are homeless and senior staff are being forced to work from home after the party was booted out of its plush Mayfair HQ. They will need to find somewhere else where staff will be able to “regularly take their clothes off and compile lists of people they would like to have sex with”.

Speculation centres on the suggestion that the owner of the offices, UKIP donor Andrew Reid, ordered them to move out last week after a bust up over the dire state of the party’s finances.

Despite raking in millions in cushy donations before the election, Guido understands the coffers are bare and multiple sources report that some employees and contractors have not been paid for months.

“Boxes have been packed up and we’re working from home” says a UKIP source, confirming “we’re in the process” of finding a new base. Not easy when you’re broke…


Tagged: Cash, UKIP

Back to the Future: 2015 via 2013 via 1993 [VodkaPundit]

(Image courtesy Business Insider)

(Image courtesy Business Insider)

With a big tip of the hat to Will Collier, take a gander at this two-year-old Business Insider piece by Joe Weisenthal:

Margaret Thatcher was an incredibly polarizing figure, but everyone should be able to agree that she was absolutely spot on about why the Euro would be such a disaster.

As Peter Oborne reported in the Telegraph In 2010, Thatcher’s two autobiographies, “The Downing Street Years” (1993) and “The Path To Power” (1995) discussed the tactics she would use to argue against the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), which she wanted no part of.

Basically, she outlined the problems with the euro perfectly, that Germany would chafe at the inevitable need for greater inflation, and that the poorer countries would inevitably be uncompetitive and need bailouts that would not easily be forthcoming.

This story reminds me of an old Milton Friedman quote: “Everything we know in economics we teach in Econ 1, and everything else is made up.”

Thatcher knew her Econ 1, and applied it perfectly to her understanding of Continental politics.

Brady Center Takes a Hit [VodkaPundit]

The Brady Center has been given a court order to pay the legal fees of the ammo dealer it took to court after the Aurora theater shooting:

The order, which was issued last week, comes after Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the gun control group’s suit that sought to hold Lucky Gunner legally responsible for the 2012 shooting. The Brady Center had argued in their suit that the way Lucky Gunner sells ammunition is “unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance.”

“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” Brady Center’s Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy said at the time. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.”

Judge Matsch disagreed with the Brady Center’s argument. He said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order,” he said in his order.

It’s nice after this last week to see a judge acting rationally and in the public interest.

Pray They Don’t Alter it any Further [VodkaPundit]

There She Goes Again [VodkaPundit]

Always on the lookout for a scam. (AP photo)

Always on the lookout for a scam.
(AP photo)

I have so not missed the Clintons:

Hillary Clinton withheld Benghazi-related emails from the State Department that detailed her knowledge of the scramble for oil contracts in Libya and the shortcomings of the NATO-led military intervention for which she advocated.

Clinton removed specific portions of other emails she sent to State, suggesting the messages were screened closely enough to determine which paragraphs were unfit to be seen by the public.

For example, one email Clinton kept from the State Department indicates Libyan leaders were “well aware” of which “major oil companies and international banks” supported them during the rebellion, information they would “factor into decisions” about about who would be given access to the country’s rich oil reserves.

The email, which Clinton subsequently scrubbed from her server, indicated Clinton was aware that involvement in the controversial conflict could have a significant financial benefit to firms that were friendly to the Libyan rebels.

She ruined a country in an attempt to enrich her friends.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Greece Forces Europe to “Glimpse Into Abyss” [VodkaPundit]

Elderly people, who usually get their pensions at the end of the month, wait outside a closed bank in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Monday, June 29, 2015. Greece's five-year financial crisis took its most dramatic turn yet, with the cabinet deciding that Greek banks would remain shut for six business days and restrictions would be imposed on cash withdrawals. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Elderly people, who usually get their pensions at the end of the month, wait outside a closed bank in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Monday, June 29, 2015. Greece’s five-year financial crisis took its most dramatic turn yet, with the cabinet deciding that Greek banks would remain shut for six business days and restrictions would be imposed on cash withdrawals. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

From the WSJ’s report on the current state of the Greco-Euro Crisis:

Three-and-a-half billion euros. That is roughly how much cash Greece’s banks need to get through the week if each adult takes out the €60 ($67) they are allowed each day. It isn’t much for Greeks to live on, but it may be more than the banks have.

This is how close the Greek financial system is to collapse. If the European Central Bank demanded repayment of banks’ emergency funding, that would be the end. Fortunately, there is leeway to avoid this as long as the political will remains.

Beyond Greece, the rest of the eurozone must look to an acceleration of full banking union to protect weaker banks in Portugal, Austria and other countries.

The Journal buried the lede however, way down in the ninth graf:

Although Greece won’t make a payment to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, ratings companies have said this doesn’t mean a wider default on government bonds, which the ECB accepts. July 20 is the next date for a bond repayment.

Boom. Greece is in partial default. The ratings companies can make all the soothing noises they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that Greek banks don’t have enough deposits to cover the grocery money for next month, much less the Visa payment.

Our domestic markets are “rattled” right now, but don’t be surprised if they’re buoyed by yet another influx of worried capital from abroad.

Assad’s Last Gasp [VodkaPundit]

A mother and father weep over their child's body who was killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta Aftermath of Chemical Weapon Attacks in Damascus, Syria - 21 Aug 2013 (Rex Features via AP Images)

A mother and father weep over their child’s body who was killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta Aftermath of Chemical Weapon Attacks in Damascus, Syria – 21 Aug 2013 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Here we go again:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas.

Once again, Putin and Assad have played Obama and Kerry for chumps.

Puerto Rico to Tip Over [VodkaPundit]

A bridge to nowhere great. (Shutterstock image)

A bridge to nowhere great.
(Shutterstock image)

The Governor of Puerto Rico had a wee tiny thing to admit about his island’s municipal bond debts:

“The debt is not payable,” Mr. García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.”

It is a startling admission from the governor of an island of 3.6 million people, which has piled on more municipal bond debt per capita than any American state.

A broad restructuring by Puerto Rico sets the stage for an unprecedented test of the United States municipal bond market, which cities and states rely on to pay for their most basic needs, like road construction and public hospitals.

That market has already been shaken by municipal bankruptcies in Detroit; Stockton, Calif.; and elsewhere, which undercut assumptions that local governments in the United States would always pay back their debt.

Muni bonds have (almost) always promised low returns for investors — but safe and free from federal taxes. And state taxes are owed only on income from munis bought out of state. No taxes help keep rates low, allowing your city or state to borrow and make improvements relatively cheaply. Almost every time you see local road improvements or a new school being built, they were finances with muni bonds.

But if that feeling of safety goes away, if buyers feel like their returns are quite so guaranteed, then rates must go up to keep buyers buying. That means fewer road improvement or new schools, or waiting longer for them.

Considering the state of our roads and a lot of our schools, that’s a bad deal for everybody — and it only takes a few bad actors in local governments as diverse as Stockton, CA, Detroit, MI, and Puerto Rico.

Medical Science Goes to Pot [VodkaPundit]

Whoa, is this a sham? (Shutterstock photo)

Whoa, is this a sham?
(Shutterstock photo)

Medical marijuana might not be all that beneficial, medically speaking:

That’s the takeaway from a new JAMA assessment of 79 studies involving nearly 6,500 people that found little evidence the drug helps patients, including those suffering from depression and glaucoma, the AP and LiveScience report. The strongest evidence of marijuana’s positive effects came in those with chronic nerve or cancer pain. Patients who took cannabinoids like THC or CBD were 40% more likely to see at least a 30% reduction in pain compared to those using a placebo. Positive effects were also seen in those with muscle stiffness related to multiple sclerosis and in chemotherapy patients dealing with nausea and vomiting, but that’s not to say that marijuana treats those conditions only or at all, adds Reuters.

Some researchers argue too little is known about marijuana’s potential benefits because research is often hindered by governments against its use. The studies that do exist tend to be small and based on “low-quality scientific evidence, anecdotal reports, individual testimonials, legislative initiatives, and public opinion,” the study authors say. “Imagine if other drugs were approved through a similar approach.”

I always took “medical marijuana” for what I figured it was — stealth legalization. However, I also figured that any reduction in the Drug War’s lousy strictures was a good thing, even if the premise was a bit silly.

But it looks like these studies are just too small or too flawed to let us know either way.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [VodkaPundit]

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Gosh, some people just don’t know what’s best for them:

For millions, arranging treatment through cash, barter and charity is still better than paying for insurance. They include Lisa Khechoom of Glendale, Calif., who refuses to buy coverage. She says she pays a flat $35 for a doctor visit and often substitutes prescriptions with cheaper natural remedies for herself, her husband and their children.

“I’m spending money either way, but it’s going to be less,” says the 41-year-old, who runs a telecom-service business with her husband that brings them an annual income of around $77,000. “For the amount of office visits I do make, why pay $3,500 for insurance when I’m not even taking advantage of it? We go to the doctor and we pay for it. Usually I can get a better deal than if I had insurance.”

The law’s penalty for not carrying insurance grows to its maximum next year and will start at $695 for an individual, up from $325 this year. That isn’t enough to sway Ms. Khechoom, who says paying the penalty is still preferable to buying coverage.

Khechoom and her family are exactly the kind of people California’s coverage “exchange” needs more of if it’s ever going to become solvent, as this story from April reminds us:

Unlike some other state exchanges, Covered California hasn’t quite spent all its federal aid; $200 million is being set aside to cover its near-term deficit. But that money isn’t going to last long: The exchange is expecting to end up nearly $80 million in the red this year. According to the Orange County Register, “Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee acknowledged in December that there are questions about the ‘long-term sustainability of the organization.’”

Such questions are not new, the paper observed, pointing out that “a 2013 report by the state auditor … stated that, until the state’s health insurance exchange actually started enrolling Californians in health plans, its ‘future solvency’ was ‘uncertain.’ Thus, Covered California was listed as a ‘high-risk’ issue for the state.”

The Khechooms are healthy, so they won’t take much out of the system, and enjoy an upper-middle class income, so they won’t burden the system with large subsidy payments. Without customers like them, Covered California caters mostly to the older, sicker, and/or poorer — which is no way to get into the black. California has huge structural budget problems which aren’t going away, and ♡bamaCare!!! looks like more of the same for the beleaguered Golden State.

Now take a moment to remember that Covered California is considered by supporters to be one of ♡bamaCare!!!’s success stories.

I would just add that in his arrogance, ♡bamaCare!!! architect Jon Gruber thought he knew just the right carrots and just the right sticks to force square pegs like Khechoom into his one-size-fits-all round holes.

But the fact of the matter is that insurance is simply a bad deal for many families, and they won’t take it. And it just so happens that those are the very same people ♡bamaCare!!! requires to pay up, if it is to work at all.

The math, as I wrote in the comments to an earlier ♡bamaCare!!! post, is a harsh mistress — and nothing the Supreme Court does can change it.

News You Can Use [VodkaPundit]

(Image courtesy Deadline News/The Daily Mail)

(Image courtesy Deadline News/The Daily Mail)

So: A strawberry shaped like a chicken.

I think we can all agree that we’ve seen that now.

So, how well have the Beatles movies aged? [Moe Lane]

I’ve never actually seen any of them – besides Yellow Submarine, of course. Are they worth perusing? I mean, we don’t even really make that kind of movie anymore. Or do we? I haven’t really thought about this particular genre before today, which is kind of odd when you think about it.

Washington Free Beacon causes US State Department to act like spoiled children. In front of Europe, too. [Moe Lane]

Does State even HAVE a victory condition, here? – Not that they have one for Iran, either*.

Today’s event, of course, elevates the Washington Free Beacon. After all, this is not exactly a bad time to have a reputation for being personally hated by the Obama administration.  In fact, I kind of wish for that status myself:

Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the eve of an expected nuclear agreement with Iran.

Two State Department officials booted theFree Beacon from a room where Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was talking to reporters, despite the Free Beacon’s being credentialed by the Austrian government for the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks.

…I don’t suppose that we can count on the Hard Left side of the ‘Sphere to do something dumb, like endorse this move by State. Aside from the precedent that it’d be forming – a precedent that will be used against them, starting in 2017 – it’s not really in their own class interests, if I may be indulged in putting in quasi-religious terms that might be more familiar to them. Sure, the temptation to screech like a banshee and throw things will be (as usual) strong for the Hard Left – but presumably they’ll figure out soon enough that such a thing would be counterproductive in this particular case.  Presumably.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Oops, did I type that out?

PS: I understand that Left and East Coast urban-academic liberal types don’t get out much, but they do understand that Europe is used to seeing journalists cheerfully causing trouble, yes? And that Europe has a generally low opinion of the second-string team running American foreign policy these days, right? And that State just made eyes roll in derision all over Vienna and Brussels, correct? …What’s that? The Left didn’t know all of that? Well, I suppose one must make allowances for provincials.

Don’t throw us into that OTC birth control patch, Brer Democrats! [Moe Lane]

Let me unpack this is practical terms.

And by ‘practical’ I mean ‘partisan pragmatic.’  The breakdown for whether birth control should be over the counter is 56/37 for men, 45/48 for women.  That already suggests that pushing this issue isn’t going to be the winner for Democrats that they think that it’s going to be – an essential tie isn’t what they were looking for – but: that plurality is fueled by Republican women, who strongly favor birth control being sold only with a prescription. The survey did think to ask whether voters would be more likely to vote for or against a politician that supported OTC birth control, and got pluralities for support, except here:

Republican women showed the lowest response rate, with only 26 percent saying they would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress supporting over-the-counter birth control access; 32 percent said they would be less likely, and 36 said their vote would not change.

This must act as a tantalizing vision to Democratic activists: alas, that 32% is as accessible to them as would be the Sea of Tranquility. If you don’t believe me: try to imagine a pro-birth control prescription message that appeals to Republican women (who are presumably more conservative) that does not simultaneously also repel Democratic women (who are presumably more liberal).  Don’t feel bad if nothing immediately jumps to mind*: the Democratic party can’t think of one, either, and they’ve got people on payroll whose job it is to work this stuff out.

Put another way: basically, that’s kind of a soft opposition there – or, rather, it’s as soft as almost any other support or opposition on this particular issue.  Birth control is not on many people’s Top Ten lists, and that is the way of it. So what we’re left here is maybe – as somebody noted on Twitter – a mild problem in the primary for some GOP candidates. Which I frankly doubt will make a difference.

And if the Democrats want to try to prove me wrong on any of this, I wish them joy of the attempt.

Moe Lane

*We will now pause while the Sardonic Mocking Scenario Crowd comes up with one of their patented “Sounds half-plausible on paper, but will immediately crash and burn in real life” specials.

 

And we end what was a disappointing Supreme Court term… [Moe Lane]

…with a win on the EPA, at least. A bit of a mild win, but at least the scoreboard isn’t empty.

The Supreme Court overturned the Obama administration’s landmark air quality rule on Monday, ruling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not properly consider the costs of the regulation.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that the EPA should have taken into account the costs to utilities and others in the power sector before even deciding whether to set limits for the toxic air pollutants it regulated in 2011.

Ach, well.  Moral of the story? There should* be a moratorium on Supreme Court nominations in this year or the next.  We had a couple of liberal Supreme Court judges today insist the Eighth Amendment forbids the death penalty even though the Fifth Amendment specifically and explicitly allows for the death penalty and both Amendments were passed at the same time. I have no further interest in humoring their delusions.

Moe Lane

*Yes, this time I will concede that there’s little to no chance of that happening. But I refuse to just shut up – or give up – about my opinions, simply because I know I’m going to be overruled. I consider succumbing to that to be a moral weakness, and I already have a full slate of those, thanks.

Well, it’s a new week. [Moe Lane]

I’m going to predict that it’s going to be a foreign policy sort of week, mostly because the Lords of Fate read this blog and delight in proving my predictions wrong.  And no, they’re too smart to play the infinite-recursion game; I’m allowed to know and admit that they’re out to keep proving me wrong. It’s apparently more amusing that way.

Calling this an open thread, although I don’t really know why. I tend to have a light hand in the comments section here anyway.

‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.’ [Moe Lane]

Listen to it fast, before they take it off of iTunes.  Which, by the way, is something that I couldn’t see Steve Jobs ever doing.  Say what you like about the man, but he believed in communication.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie DownThe Band

Reminder: there are actually more Supreme Court decisions tomorrow. [Moe Lane]

And if Scalia writes the EPA decision (there is a remarkable amount of analysis out there trying to figure out who writes which Supreme Court decisions*)… well. They may have to end up encasing it in concrete and shooting it into the Sun. So, there’s that to look forward to, at least.

Moe Lane

*I think that the general consensus is that the event that might have suggested that Scalia would not get the EPA case was actually not a triggering event in this case, and at any rate Mars was in Taurus when the white heifer gave birth to a two-headed calf and the Ouija board started spelling out 19th Century British dance hall lyrics. You see: apparently, this is all like Kremlinology, only without the scientific rigor. I’m just impressed that the Court can still keep a secret…

Book of the Week: “The Annihilation Score.” [Moe Lane]

This one I am anticipating: The Annihilation Score (A Laundry Files Novel) will not be out for another week and a half, and I don’t think that I’m going luck out with this one and find a copy at a Borders bookstore that had unaccountably been put out early (which is what happened to me with another book in this series).  Mostly because Borders doesn’t exist anymore, of course.  Anyway, this is going to be the latest book in Charlie Stross’s Lovecraft-meets-spy-novels-meets-computer-math series, and it’s been a pretty nifty series so far. Hopefully, Charlie can keep a handle on his increasing tendency to conspiracy crank before the Great Old Ones come to finish the series by eating everybody’s souls – which is a selling point for this series, actually. It’s Lovecraftian cosmic horror. You know everybody’s gonna die. The author promised.

And so, adieu to The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher. I REGRET NOTHING

Moe Lane


Joe Biden reportedly mulling run. [Moe Lane]

(Via Drudge) Oh, wouldn’t THAT be something to see.

Mr. Biden, 72 years old, lost two previous bids for the White House, in 1988 and 2008, and he would enter the 2016 contest as a clear underdog. Yet as a sitting vice president with loyal supporters in states that hold early contests, he has the potential to scramble the Democratic field.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll earlier this month showed that Americans’ image of Mr. Biden is growing more positive. A total of 40% saw him in a favorable light, versus 31% who had a negative view of him. In November 2014, Mr. Biden’s favorability rating stood at 35%, compared with 38% who viewed him unfavorably.

When you’re running a referendum election on an unpopular incumbent, the only thing better than having his incompetent Secretary of State be the nominee is to have his incompetent* Vice President be the nominee. Yes, yes, yes: Biden’s a formidable candidate, don’t get cocky, yadda yadda. All I know is, if Biden runs the GOP Presidential candidate will know to make sure to blatantly call Joe Biden on the stupid mistake that he will inevitably make in the debate. And how will that candidate know? Because in a couple of months I WILL BE LEANING OVER THE TABLE AND TELLING HIM (OR HER) TO DO THAT, that’s why.

Moe Lane

*You can either have Joe Biden be competent, or you can have him represent Four More Years of the same. You cannot have both.

HeartBreak! #FreedomFlotilla #Fail! [The Jawa Report]

Harretz:Israeli forces intercepted the Gaza-bound boat Marianne late Sunday night, in what the Israeli Defense Forces said was a short operation, free of any casualties. The boat is currently en route to the Ashdod port.



Hat Tip: Linda.

OJ-Simpson.jpg

ISIS Flag Spotted In Gay Pride Parade [The Jawa Report]

CNN reported the ISIS flag was being flown at a gay pride parade:

isis_dildo_flag.jpg

From Mediaite:

While roaming the annual Gay Pride Parade in London, CNN International reporter Lucy Pawle stumbled upon an "unnerving" sight: An unidentified man flying what initially appeared to be the flag of the jihadist Islamic State (ISIS).

Pawle snapped several photos of the strange sighting, and described to her CNN in-studio colleagues how parade-goers didn't seem to notice the flag, nor were there many questions being asked.

At one point, Pawle suggested it could have been a subtle piece of British humor (as they are wont to do) taunting ISIS since the militant group is notorious for executing homosexuals in rather brutal fashion. Corroborating her theory, Pawle said, is the fact that the flag's wording doesn’t appear to be Arabic, but rather "gobbledygook."

Wait... I thought all that "gobbledygook" on an ISIS flag was dildos and buttplugs!?

ISIS-FLAG-rally.jpg

Looks like didlos and buttplugs to me. If fact, some analysis of the ISIS flag reveals:

ISIS_Flag_decoded.jpg

So, CNN wasn't too far off. But I expect them to apologized to ISIS any day now.

Joe Manganiello Returns [The Nerdist]

Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike) returns to the podcast! He chats with Chris and Matt about the live reading on Major League he did, his relationship being in the public eye, and dealing with rumors. He also talks about being in the new Pee Wee Herman movie and Magic Mike XXL!

PennLive Editor Is Rebuked For Censorship, But Continues To Deny That Is What He Meant When He Said “As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will very strictly limit op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage. These unions are now the law of the land. And we will not publish such letters and op-Eds any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic” [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Tucker Carlson called out PennLive editor, John Micek, who announced his decision to censor commentators from speaking out against gay marriage in the news outlet’s op-ed pages. The pages where people typically, opine.

In spite of Micek doubling down on his claims that he was just attempting to promote “civil” discourse, Carlson was relentless:

“You made it pretty clear. You have contempt for people who disagree with your views,” Carlson said. “You consider them bigots and you don’t think that they ought to be able to express those views because they’re illegitimate. That was clear.”

“No, not at all,” Micek said. “What we were trying to do — and perhaps we missed a little in the execution — was to try to create a space for civil discussion in the pages of Pennlive, while allowing reasonable and intelligent debate on the issue. I fully recognize that people of good will and deeply held conviction are going to differ with the high court on this decision, but our intent, I think, and we might have missed this initially, was to create a space for civil discussion.”

“Civil discussion, really?” Carlson snapped. “What’s civil about describing people who disagree with you as bigots, comparing them to anti-Semites and racists? That’s the opposite of civil.”

“I think there actually might be a context problem there,” Micek said. “I was trying to create a space between people of good will and, again, intelligence who want to debate the issue, and those who may come at it with invective.”

Carlson had the last word in the matter:

“With all respect, I thought your first statement was crystal clear. I thought it was the opposite of what you’re saying now. I think it’s really clear you have contempt for people who disagree and that you don’t want to hear their voices, and so if you sincerely changed your view in that, I congratulate that, but I thought it was very revealing.”

“We’ll have to agree to disagree with my views,” Micek said.

“Yeah, I find them abhorrent,” Carlson concluded.

Video at the link.

–Dana

“Plain Meaning” Takes Another Supreme Blow [Patterico's Pontifications]

The Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution states:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.

Today the Supreme Court, in a decision by the leftist voting bloc plus Anthony Kennedy, held that “the Legislature” doesn’t just mean, you know, the legislature. It can also mean “the People of the state through a ballot initiative.”

In a special irony, Chief Justice Roberts complained in dissent that the majority was ignoring the “plain meaning” of the Constitution.

Supreme Court Upholds Oklahoma’s Three-Drug Execution Protocol [Patterico's Pontifications]

The decision seems pretty narrow, inviting further litigation down the road. Still, a reminder that Roberts and Kennedy often vote in a manner consistent with judicial conservatism, unlike the liberal bloc that always votes in lockstep.

Not to worry. I feel confident that the precedents written by Anthony Kennedy will be used to find the death penalty unconstitutional one day, probably in my lifetime. Evolving standards gonna evolve.

But Of Course: Legally Protecting The “Unusually Sensitive” [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Further and onward we go into this brave new world. And though we may momentarily stumble as we try to keep our balance under the sweeping wave of progress, we have not arrived here with disbelief or shock, but rather with a hard, savvy understanding of precisely what is happening and why it is happening. Because we have not been caught off guard or unaware. We have all along been watching the shift in the cultural and political landscape and pushing back in resistance. This especially as we have always known where that long trail of bread crumbs, the size of red flags which mark the leftward path of our nation, would lead. Admittedly, the opposition’s tactics may be surprising but the outcome certainly isn’t. So here we are. We have entered the mothballing season of the “reasonable man”.

With that, the legal elite continue apace in this mad season of progress:

A group of judges, attorneys and law professors recently voted to make tapping the shoulder of a Muslim woman to ask for directions potentially punishable in a U.S. court of law. This group, the American Law Institute, is an elite private organization that includes the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the chief judges of the U.S. Courts of Appeal and the highest state courts, most law school deans, some law professors and private attorneys.

Here is the background. The American Law Institute periodically issues “restatements” that attempt to codify the common law—but also shift the law in the direction the institute wants it to go. In 1964, for example, the institute’s Restatement of Torts established the liability of sellers to consumers for defective products regardless of fault. At the time only 16 states had taken this position. Now it is the law everywhere.

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that American Law Institute restatements are law in all subsequent decisions when there is no state statute to the contrary. The U.S. Supreme Court on average cites the institute at least once a month.

On May 20 the American Law Institute approved, by a very close vote, significant changes to the section of its new Restatement of Torts dealing with assault and battery. The changes will have far-reaching, and extremely troubling, social and legal ramifications—including favoring some religious beliefs over others.

The institute’s restatement defines the tort of battery as any contact with another person that “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity” or—the new addition—contact that is highly offensive to another person’s “unusually sensitive sense of personal dignity, and the actor knows that the contact will be highly offensive to the other.”

To be a battery, the contact or touching must be offensive. That’s to exclude the occasional bumps we experience walking through a crowd. And the law always measured what constituted an offense based on the views of a reasonable person. That way a judge can dismiss a frivolous claim. However, the American Law Institute now proposes that personal contact is a tort if the defendant knows that it will be offensive to someone who is “unusually sensitive.”

The writer explains the danger this presents:

[S]uppose a patient tells a hospital, “I don’t want any Jewish doctors or nurses to touch me.” An earlier draft of the institute’s restatement said, “if the patient had demanded that she not be touched by a nurse or doctor of a particular race or religion, the hospital and medical staff have no obligation to respect that preference” because it violates “public policy.” But the final accepted draft eliminates the words, “or religion.”

So if a hospital does not obey a religious bigot’s demand, it risks a lawsuit, jury trial and punitive damages. And insurance does not often cover a battery. Thus if the trial takes place in a community with a significant Muslim population, the hospital will be more likely to settle—an outcome that will encourage religious bigotry.

Further, how this “restatement” would favor one religion over the other:

Consider John Doe, waiting at a bus stop, who taps a woman wearing a Muslim veil on the shoulder to get her attention and ask for directions. The institute’s restatement suggests that Mr. Doe might be liable for committing battery. A jury might find that a reasonable person would know that males aren’t supposed to make bodily contact with females not in their family. But if the woman touches Mr. Doe, she’s not liable, because he follows a different religion or no religion at all.

As a result, the change would be enormous:

In North Carolina, an employee sued his supervisor for assault and battery because the supervisor, in his own office, smoked a cigar. There was no company rule against that, but the employee had warned the supervisor that he found cigar smoking “obnoxious.” A state court dismissed the case (McCracken v. Sloan, 1979) because the employee’s “mental distress” was not enough for assault and battery. The American Law Institute says: “This case would very likely result in liability today.”

A final warning:

No court ever has adopted the concept, as a widely used casebook put it, that an individual with an “abnormally acute sense of personal dignity” could make another liable for battery. Nor has the American Law Institute—until now.

–Dana

R.I.P. Chris Squire [Patterico's Pontifications]

The Yes bassist was just 67. He succumbed to cancer.

A couple of years ago, Mrs. P. and I saw a new incarnation of Yes with Jon Davison as the lead vocalist. They played the entire albums Close to the Edge, The Yes Album, and Going for the One. Great show. Squire was everything you would have wanted to see.

I did not think I wouldn’t get a chance to see him perform again.

R.I.P.

Texas Pushes Back Against Gay Marriage Decision [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Leave it to Texas!

County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.

Paxton said Friday’s “flawed” opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned bans against same-sex marriage in Texas and other states, placed religious people in conflict between following their faith and the U.S. Constitution.

In a sharply worded rebuke of the Court and its judicial activism, Paxton expressed an even greater resolve to protect religious freedoms:

“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.”

–Dana

Jonathan McDowell: What Jonathan Did Next [Planet Debian]

While I mentioned last September that I had failed to be selected for an H-1B and had been having discussions at DebConf about alternative employment, I never got around to elaborating on what I’d ended up doing.

Short answer: I ended up becoming a law student, studying for a Masters in Legal Science at Queen’s University Belfast. I’ve just completed my first year of the 2 year course and have managed to do well enough in the 6 modules so far to convince myself it wasn’t a crazy choice.

Longer answer: After Vello went under in June I decided to take a couple of months before fully investigating what to do next, largely because I figured I’d either find something that wanted me to start ASAP or fail to find anything and stress about it. During this period a friend happened to mention to me that the applications for the Queen’s law course were still open. He happened to know that it was something I’d considered before a few times. Various discussions (some of them over gin, I’ll admit) ensued and I eventually decided to submit an application. This was towards the end of August, and I figured I’d also talk to people at DebConf to see if there was anything out there tech-wise that I could get excited about.

It turned out that I was feeling a bit jaded about the whole tech scene. Another friend is of the strong opinion that you should take a break at least every 10 years. Heeding her advice I decided to go ahead with the law course. I haven’t regretted it at all. My initial interest was largely driven by a belief that there are too few people who understand both tech and law. I started with interests around intellectual property and contract law as well as issues that arise from trying to legislate for the global nature of most tech these days. However the course is a complete UK qualifying degree (I can go on to do the professional qualification in NI or England & Wales) and the first year has been about public law. Which has been much more interesting than I was expecting (even, would you believe it, EU law). Especially given the potential changing constitutional landscape of the UK after the recent general election, with regard to talk of repeal of the Human Rights Act and a referendum on exit from the EU.

Next year will concentrate more on private law, and I’m hoping to be able to tie that in better to what initially drove me to pursue this path. I’m still not exactly sure which direction I’ll go once I complete the course, but whatever happens I want to keep a linkage between my skill sets. That could be either leaning towards the legal side but with the appreciation of tech, returning to tech but with the appreciation of the legal side of things or perhaps specialising further down an academic path that links both. I guess I’ll see what the next year brings. :)

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 9 in Stretch cycle [Planet Debian]

What happened about the reproducible builds effort this week:

Toolchain fixes

Norbert Preining uploaded texinfo/6.0.0.dfsg.1-2 which makes texinfo indices reproducible. Original patch by Chris Lamb.

Lunar submitted recently rebased patches to make the file order of files inside .deb stable.

akira filled #789843 to make tex4ht stop printing timestamps in its HTML output by default.

Dhole wrote a patch for xutils-dev to prevent timestamps when creating gzip compresed files.

Reiner Herrmann sent a follow-up patch for wheel to use UTC as timezone when outputing timestamps.

Mattia Rizzolo started a discussion regarding the failure to build from source of subversion when -Wdate-time is added to CPPFLAGS—which happens when asking dpkg-buildflags to use the reproducible profile. SWIG errors out because it doesn't recognize the aforementioned flag.

Trying to get the .buildinfo specification to more definitive state, Lunar started a discussion on storing the checksums of the binary package used in dpkg status database.

akira discovered—while proposing a fix for simgrid—that CMake internal command to create tarballs would record a timestamp in the gzip header. A way to prevent it is to use the GZIP environment variable to ask gzip not to store timestamps, but this will soon become unsupported. It's up for discussion if the best place to fix the problem would be to fix it for all CMake users at once.

Infrastructure-related work

Andreas Henriksson did a delayed NMU upload of pbuilder which adds minimal support for build profiles and includes several fixes from Mattia Rizzolo affecting reproducibility tests.

Neils Thykier uploaded lintian which both raises the severity of package-contains-timestamped-gzip and avoids false positives for this tag (thanks to Tomasz Buchert).

Petter Reinholdtsen filled #789761 suggesting that how-can-i-help should prompt its users about fixing reproducibility issues.

Packages fixed

The following packages became reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: autorun4linuxcd, libwildmagic, lifelines, plexus-i18n, texlive-base, texlive-extra, texlive-lang.

The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed:

Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues but not all of them:

Untested uploaded as they are not in main:

Patches submitted which have not made their way to the archive yet:

  • #789648 on apt-dater by Dhole: allow the build date to be set externally and set it to the time of the latest debian/changelog entry.
  • #789715 on simgrid by akira: fix doxygen and patch CMakeLists.txt to give GZIP=-n for tar.
  • #789728 on aegisub by Juan Picca: get rid of __DATE__ and __TIME__ macros.
  • #789747 on dipy by Juan Picca: set documentation date for Sphinx.
  • #789748 on jansson by Juan Picca: set documentation date for Sphinx.
  • #789799 on tmexpand by Chris Lamb: remove timestamps, hostname and username from the build output.
  • #789804 on libevocosm by Chris Lamb: removes generated files which include extra information about the build environment.
  • #789963 on qrfcview by Dhole: removes the timestamps from the the generated PNG icon.
  • #789965 on xtel by Dhole: removes extra timestamps from compressed files by gzip and from the PNG icon.
  • #790010 on simbody by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790023 on stx-btree by akira: pass HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO to Doxygen.
  • #790034 on siscone by akira: removes $datetime from footer.html used by Doxygen.
  • #790035 on thepeg by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790072 on libxray-spacegroup-perl by Chris Lamb: set $Storable::canonical = 1 to make space_groups.db.PL output deterministic.
  • #790074 on visp by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790081 on wfmath by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790082 on wreport by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790088 on yudit by Chris Lamb: removes timestamps from the build system by passing a static comment.
  • #790122 on clblas by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790133 on dcmtk by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790139 on glfw3 by akira: patch for Doxygen timestamps further improved by James Cowgill by removing $datetime from the footer.
  • #790228 on gtkspellmm by akira: set HTML_TIMESTAMP=NO in Doxygen configuration.
  • #790232 on ucblogo by Reiner Herrmann: set LC_ALL to C before sorting.
  • #790235 on basemap by Juan Picca: set documentation date for Sphinx.
  • #790258 on guymager by Reiner Herrmann: use the date from the latest debian/changelog as build date
  • #790309 on pelican by Chris Lamb: removes useless (and unreproducible) tests.

debbindiff development

debbindiff/23 includes a few bugfixes by Helmut Grohne that result in a significant speedup (especially on larger files). It used to exhibit the quadratic time string concatenation antipattern.

Version 24 was released on June 23rd in a hurry to fix an undefined variable introduced in the previous version. (Reiner Herrmann)

debbindiff now has a test suite! It is written using the PyTest framework (thanks Isis Lovecruft for the suggestion). The current focus has been on the comparators, and we are now at 93% of code coverage for these modules.

Several problems were identified and fixed in the process: paths appearing in output of javap, readelf, objdump, zipinfo, unsqusahfs; useless MD5 checksum and last modified date in javap output; bad handling of charsets in PO files; the destination path for gzip compressed files not ending in .gz; only metadata of cpio archives were actually compared. stat output was further trimmed to make directory comparison more useful.

Having the test suite enabled a refactoring of how comparators were written, switching from a forest of differences to a single tree. This helped removing dust from the oldest parts of the code.

Together with some other small changes, version 25 was released on June 27th. A follow up release was made the next day to fix a hole in the test suite and the resulting unidentified leftover from the comparator refactoring. (Lunar)

Documentation update

Ximin Luo improved code examples for some proposed environment variables for reference timestamps. Dhole added an example on how to fix timestamps C pre-processor macros by adding a way to set the build date externally. akira documented her fix for tex4ht timestamps.

Package reviews

94 obsolete reviews have been removed, 330 added and 153 updated this week.

Hats off for Chris West (Faux) who investigated many fail to build from source issues and reported the relevant bugs.

Slight improvements were made to the scripts for editing the review database, edit-notes and clean-notes. (Mattia Rizzolo)

Meetings

A meeting was held on June 23rd. Minutes are available.

The next meeting will happen on Tuesday 2015-07-07 at 17:00 UTC.

Misc.

The Linux Foundation announced that it was funding the work of Lunar and h01ger on reproducible builds in Debian and other distributions. This was further relayed in a Bits from Debian blog post.

Paul Wise: The aliens are amongst us! [Planet Debian]

Don't worry, they can't cope with our atmosphere.

Alien on the ground

Perhaps they are just playing dead. Don't turn your back if you see one.

Folks may want to use this alien in free software. The original photo is available on request. To the extent possible under law, I have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work. The alien has signed a model release. An email or a link to this page would be appreciated though.

Norbert Preining: The Talos Principle – Solving puzzles using SAT solvers [Planet Debian]

After my last post on Portal, there was a sale of The Talos Principle, so I got it and started playing. And soon I got stuck at these kind of puzzles where one has to fit in pieces into a frame. As a logician I hate to solve something by trial and error, so I decided I write a solver for these kind of puzzles, based on a propositional logic encoding and satisfiability solver. Sometimes it is good to be logician!

Talos-Puzzles

In the Talos Principle, access to new worlds and specific items is often blocked by gates that open by putting Sigils into the frame. Of course, collecting the sigils is the most challenging part, but that is often solvable by logical thinking. On the other hand, solving these fitting puzzles drove me crazy, so let us solve them with a SAT solver.

Encoding

I used a propositional encoding that for each combination of cells and sigils assigns a propositional variable, which is true if the specific sigil rests in on that cell in the final solution. That is, we have variable (encoded as x_i_j_n) where runs over the cells of the frame, and over the (numbered) sigils.

Setup

I have written a perl program that for a definition of a puzzle (see later), outputs SMT2 code, which then is checked for satisfiability and generation of model with the z3 solver (which is available in Debian).

Necessary assertions

We have to state relations between these propositional variables to obtain a proper solution, in particular we have added the following statements:

  • every field has at least one sigil on it
  • every field has at most one sigil on it
  • every sigil is used at least once
  • defining equations for the sigil’s form

Let us go through them one by one:

Every field has at least on sigil on it

That is an easy part by asserting

In the SMT2 code it would look like

(assert (or x_i_j_1 x_i_j_2 ... x_i_j_n))

Every field has at most one sigil on it

This can be achieved by asserting for each tile and each pair of different sigil (numbers), that not both of the two hold:

and in SMT2 code:

(assert (and
  (not (and x_1_1_1 x_1_1_2))
  (not (and x_1_1_1 x_1_1_3))
...
(assert (and
  (not (and x_1_2_1 x_1_2_2))
  (not (and x_1_2_1 x_1_2_3))
...

Every sigil is used at least once

This was a bit a tricky one. First I thought I want to express that every sigil is used exactly once by excluding that for one sigil there are more fields assigned to it then the sigil contains parts. So if a sigil occupies 4 tiles, then every combination of 5 tiles needs to evaluate to false. But with 8×8 or so frames, the number of combinations simply explodes to above several million, which brings my harddrive size and z3 to an end.

The better idea was to say that every sigil was used at least once. Since all sigils together exactly fill the frame, this is enough. This can be done easily by assuming that for each sigil, at least one of the tiles is assigned to it:

or in SMT code for a 6×6 frame and the first sigil:

(assert (or x_1_1_n x_1_2_n ...  x_6_6_1))

Defining equations for the sigil’s form

Of course the most important part are the defining equations for the various sigils. Here I choose the following path:

  • choose for each sigil form an anchor point
  • for each tile in the frame and each sigil, put the anchor of the sigil on the tile, and express the 4 directions of rotation

So for example for the top-most sigil in the above photo, I choose the anchor point to be the center, and if that was in , I need to assume that for the upright position

holds. In the same way, when rotated right, we need

All these options have to be disjunctively connected, in SMT code for the case where the anchor lies at (4,2).

(assert (or
  ...
  (and x_3_2_n x_4_2_n x_5_2_n x_4_3_n)
  (and x_3_3_n x_3_2_n x_3_1_n x_4_2_n)
  (and x_3_2_n x_4_2_n x_5_2_n x_4_1_n)
...

When generating these equations one has to be careful not to include rotated sigils that stick out of the frame, though.

Although the above might not be the optimal encoding, the given assertions suffice to check for SAT and produce a model, which allows me to solve the riddles.

Implementation in Perl

To generate the SMT2 code, I used a Perl script, which is very quickly hacked together. The principle function is (already coded for the above riddle):

create_smt2_def(8,6,'a','a','b','cl','cl','cr','cr','cr','q','q','sl','sl');

where the first two arguments define the size of the frame, and the rest are codes for sigil types:

  • a podest, the first sigil in the above screen shot
  • b stick, the third sigil above, the long stick
  • cl club left, the forth sigil above, a club facing left
  • cr club right, the sixth sigil above, a club facing right
  • q square, the ninth sigil above
  • sl step left, the last sigil in the above image
  • sr step right, mirror of step left (not used above)

This function first sets up the header of the smt2 file, followed by shipping out all the necessary variable definitions, in SMT these are defined as Boolean functions, and the other assertions (please see the Perl code linked below for details). The most interesting part are the definitions of the sigils:

  # for each piece, call the defining assertions
  for my $n (1..$nn) {
    my $p = $pieces[$n-1];
    print "(assert (or\n";
    for my $i (1..$xx) {
      for my $j (1..$yy) {
        if ($p eq 'q') { 
          type_square($xx,$yy,$i,$j,$n); 
        } elsif ($p eq 'a') {
          type_potest($xx,$yy,$i,$j,$n);
    ....

Every sigil type has its own definiton, in case of the a podest, the type_podest function:

sub type_potest {
  my ($xx,$yy,$i,$j,$n) = @_;
  my ($il, $jl, $ir, $jr, $iu, $ju);
  $il = $i - 1; $ir = $i + 1; $iu = $i;
  $jl = $jr = $j; $ju = $j + 1;
  do_rotate_shipout($xx,$yy, $i, $j, $n, $il, $jl, $ir, $jr, $iu, $ju);
}

This function is prototypical, one defines the tiles a sigil occupies if the anchor is placed on (i,j) for an arbitrary orientation of the sigil, and then calls do_rotate_shipout on the list of occupied tiles. This function in turn is very simple:

sub do_rotate_shipout {
  my ($xx,$yy, $i, $j, $n, @pairs) = @_ ;
  for my $g (0..3) {
    @pairs = rotate90($i, $j, @pairs);
    check_and_shipout($xx,$yy, $n, $i, $j, @pairs);
  }
}

as it only rotates four times by 90 degrees, and then checks whether the rotated sigil is completely within the frame, and if yes ships out the assertion code. The rotation is done by multiplying the vector from (i,j) to the tile position with the (0 -1 1 0) matrix and adding it again to (i,j):

sub rotate90 {
  my ($i, $j, @pairs) = @_ ;
  my @ret;
  while (@pairs) {
    my $ii = shift @pairs;
    my $jj = shift @pairs;
    my $ni = $i - ($jj - $j);
    my $nj = $j + ($ii - $i);
    push @ret, $ni, $nj;
  }
  return @ret;
}

There are a few more functions, for those interested, the full Perl code is here: tangram.pl. There is no user interface or any config file reading done, I just edit the source code if I need to solve a riddle.

Massaging the output

Last but not least, the output of the z3 solver is a bit noisy, so I run the output through a few Unix commands to get only the true assignments, which gives me the location of the tiles. That is, I run the following pipeline:

perl tangram.pl | z3 -in | egrep 'define-fun|true|false'  | sed -e 'h;s/.*//;G;N;s/\n//g' | grep true | sort

which produces a list like the following as output:

  (define-fun x_1_1_10 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_1_2_10 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_1_3_5 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_1_4_6 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_1_5_6 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_1_6_6 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_2_1_10 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_2_2_10 () Bool    true)
  (define-fun x_2_3_5 () Bool    true)
  ...

from which I can read up the solution that puts the tenth sigil (a square) in the lower left corner:
Talos-Puzzle-solved

Costales: ¿Por qué comprar un Ubuntu Phone? Léase, ventajas de un Ubuntu Phone [Planet Ubuntu]

En la review del BQ E5, un lector me hacía una pregunta tan concisa como interesante: ¿Qué ventajas tiene un móvil con Ubuntu?

Lo cierto es que no lo había pensado detenidamente. Llevo usando Ubuntu Phone durante 5 meses porque personalmente prefiero que Ubuntu sea el sistema operativo en mi móvil y ese para mi, es un factor de peso más que suficiente.


 

Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition



Tras pensarlo un rato, en mi opinión, Ubuntu Phone destaca por estos motivos:

  • Servicios, no aplicaciones: Ubuntu Phone está enfocado a que usemos servicios y no tanto las aplicaciones. ¿Cómo? Mediante los scopes, que marcan una disrupción original y única en los sistemas operativos móviles actuales. Lo mejor es ver este vídeo, para entender qué son los scopes y su potencial:
Scopes
  • Libertad: Un sistema operativo 100% libre y la gran mayoría de aplicaciones, también libres.
  • Ubuntu en tu bolsillo: Un sistema operativo 100% Linux, sin emulaciones.
  • Cierra el círculo: Podrás usar Ubuntu en Desktop + Servidor + Nube + Móvil.
  • Evitar al Gran Hermano en los que se convirtieron Google y Apple: Y la NSA que añadió posteriormente la guinda al pastel.
  • Diseño sencillo, a la vez que elegante. Aunque para gustos, colores :)
  • Sin fragmentación: Con actualizaciones OTA mensuales para todos los móviles.
  • Un "Ubuntu" Phone: Canonical está totalmente volcada en Ubuntu Phone y la sensación es de que tienes un móvil de Ubuntu, más que tener un móvil BQ o Meizu.
  • Gestos: Unity muestra todo su potencial táctil. Sencillo, rápido e intuitivo.
  • Desarrollo: Un buen SDK y muchísimas posibilidades de desarrollo: QML, HTML5 (incluído cordova), webapps... Y una buena tienda (¡por fin!) desde donde descargarlas/descubrirlas.

BQ Ubuntu Edition


Obviamente no todo es perfecto. Echo en falta:
  • Aplicaciones: Hay muchas, pero faltan aplicaciones importantes para muchos usuarios.
  • tethering: Recordemos que Android lo sacó en la versión 2.2
  • bluetooth: No funciona aún como debería.
 
Cada usuario es un mundo. Pero yo estoy totalmente satisfecho con mi Ubuntu Phone :)

Ted Gould: Just Say It! [Planet Ubuntu]

While I love typing on small on screen keyboards on my phone, it is much easier to just talk. When we did the HUD we added speech recognition there, and it processed the audio on the device giving the great experience of controlling your phone with your voice. And that worked well with the limited command set exported by the application, but to do generic voice, today, that requires more processing power than a phone can reasonably provide. Which made me pretty excited to find out about HP's IDOL on Demand service.

I made a small application for Ubuntu Phone that records the audio you speak at it, and sends it up to the HP IDOL on Demand service. The HP service then does the speech recognition on it and returns the text back to us. Once I have the text (with help from Ken VanDine) I set it up to use Content Hub to export the text to any other application that can receive it. This way you can use speech recognition to write your Telegram notes, without Telegram having to know anything about speech at all.

The application is called Just Say It! and is in the Ubuntu App Store right now. It isn't beautiful, but definitely shows what can be done with this type of technology today. I hope to make it prettier and add additional features in the future. If you'd like to see how I did it you can look at the source.

As an aside: I can't get any of the non-English languages to work. This could be because I'm not a native speaker of those languages. If people could try them I'd love to know if they're useful.


Riccardo Padovani: The most inspiring week of my life [Planet Ubuntu]

If you read my blog you already know that since April I’ve a job as developer at Archon. It’s a thing I enjoy a lot, and the last week has been awesome.

Archon joined the Hello Tomorrow Conference 2015, so last week I travelled to Paris.

And there I met some of the best people of the world, those that change the world, not only in the computer science world, but in every field.

Here some of things most inspired me, I hope they could inspire you too, and give you energy to be the change you want to see in the world.

Archon Team

First of all thanks to guys that were with me in Paris: Davide Venturelli, the CEO, works at NASA and is currently in charge of surveying the scientific investigations performed at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. What he does it’s incredible, and he motivated me a lot to follow my dreams now.

You can watch his pitch at the conference on Youtube (recorded by my Ubuntu Phone). Seriously, find 8 minutes today and watch it, so you can understand what Archon is about, and why I like it.

Giovanni Landi is our 3D expert, and has a lot of different passions. I had a lot of fun working with him at our stand, and I learned a lot of things about art (one of his passions).

Roberto Navoni is our hardware expert, and his life should be an inspiration for every Italian. He’s an entrepreneur, has created a company in Italy and despite the difficulties he didn’t expatriate.

Davide Ghezzi is our CFO. Unfortunately he was able to join us only for the first day, but he did a lot of things. I have no idea on how is possible a single man has so much energies, but wow!

The stand

I spent most of the time at our stand, where I explained what is our product to both potentially investors and casual visitors. As you can read, my English isn’t so good, so I was quite surprised everyone understood what I was saying.

Anyway, meet so many people from all around the world was amazing, everyone with incredible experiences and cool backgrounds. I spent a lot of time talking about the future, and how to do things that could impact the world. I listened to a lot of stories, and I remember each of them, because everyone was incredible.

The keynotes

During the event I was able to take a look to a couple of keynotes (I spent the rest of the time at the stand), and both were something you don’t see everyday.

The first one was by Obi Felten, moonshots at Google[X]. I don’t agree with a lot of Google’s policies, but the energies these guys have in trying to build something beautiful, and how they work hard with open minds is something that deserves deep respect and admiration.

The second one was by the CEO of G-Therapeutics. They have developed a working (but still in development) technology that helps paralyzed people walk again. Let me repeat: a stimulation system to rehabilitate individuals with spinal cord injury.

The presentation was the most moving thing I’ve ever seen, and it has earned minutes of applause.

The companies

Other than Archon, there were a lot of other interesting companies, both for what they do or for the stories of their founders.

I leave here a little list about the ones that I liked more, which it is far from complete (you can read the entire list on the Hello Tomorrow website).

  • Blitab is a braille tablet helping blind people. I love howntechnologies nowadays could help less lucky people to live a better life
  • BioCarbon Engineering is changing the world 1 billion trees at a time. They use drones to make precision planting and optimize reforestation. You know, trees don’t give free wifi, but they give oxigen, so they are useuful. Indeed, BioCarbon won the competition.
  • Artomatix builds a software to automating the generation of art, to enable digital graphic artists to focus on being creative, in addition to reducing project times and costs. Ok, it’s not a world changer, but the gamer that is in me loves the software, so I really hope they could have success
  • Solenica is building Lucy. Lucy’s mirror follows the sun and reflects sunlight into your rooms, creating a beautiful natural glow. Other than the product (they allow you to reduce your carbon footprint by up to 1 ton/year by saving electricity, I like things that help the ecology), I like the story of the startup, founded by 3 Italians. It’s sad they had to go to the U.S. to follow their dream, but I love their stubbornness in going forward. Only people as their go forward, and make the world a better place.

Conclusion

Other than the inspiration, in that week I had also the confirmation I’m on the right path to do something in my life to help the world to be a better place. A lot of people incited me to continue on that way, and you know, public recognition of your work is important.

Ciao,
R.

Kids show moral courage their parents lack [Darleen Click] UPDATED [protein wisdom]

Fight the NannyState

A school administrator from Indiana has told Congress that students in his district are trafficking in illicit goods on school property, thanks federal law.

And they’re doing it right out in the open in the schools’ lunchrooms.

“Perhaps the most colorful example in my district is that students have been caught bringing — and even selling — salt, pepper and sugar in school to add taste to perceived bland and tasteless cafeteria food,” said John Payne, president of the Blackford County School Board of Trustees in Hartford City, Ind.

“This contraband economy is just one example of many that reinforce the call for flexibility (with the rules),” he said, as reported in the Washington Free Beacon.

Flexibility, my ass. The Federal government has no business in local school lunches.

Of course, if Michelle could make “healthy school lunches” a LGBTQQLMNOP issue, then those kids can be stopped cuz DIGNITY!

*************************************
Now preschools and even adult daycare centers are being targeted.

If the U.S. Department of Agriculture has its way, first lady Michelle Obama’s vision for what Americans should be eating will affect more federal programs.

The department is seeking to overhaul rules related to the Child and Adult Care Food Program, a program similar to the National School Lunch Program, except for day-care providers.

Day care centers are eligible for reimbursements from the federal government, provided there is compliance with their rules.

The USDA wants more vegetables and less sugar served to children and adults in day care centers.

“Grain-based desserts, such as cookies and cakes, would no longer be reimbursable, and children younger than 1 would no longer be offered juice,” the Lansing State Journal reports.

Facilities that deep fry food on-site could no longer participate in the program. “Prepackaged fried foods,” like chicken nuggets, would be allowable, so long as they are served “infrequently.”

The effect could be sweeping.

According to Mlive, at least 30 states “require day cares to use the program’s nutrition guidelines to receive licenses.” The program also feeds about 120,000 elderly or disabled adults each day.

Series of church fires [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

This

A fire that engulfed a small, predominantly black church in Charlotte was set on purpose, local officials said Wednesday. Now they are trying to determine whether the act of arson was a hate crime.

“Shock. Disbelief,” co-Pastor Rhonda Kinsey told Time Warner Cable News. “You hear about it, but you never imagine you would have a fire at your church.”

is

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A fire that damaged a predominantly black church in middle Georgia has been ruled arson, authorities say.

The fire was reported at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon early Tuesday morning. Macon-Bibb County Fire Sgt. Ben Gleaton told local media outlets that investigators determined the fire was intentionally set but didn’t say what led to that conclusion.

disturbing

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville officials are investigating a case of arson at a predominantly African-American church. Officials say someone set fire to bales of hay outside College Hill Seventh Day Adventist, 1837 Brandau Street, and also burned the church van.

Hate

WARRENVILLE, SC (WFXG) – Massive flames tore through a Warrenville church early Friday morning.

“It happened so quick, it was just like a nightmare,” said Bobby Jones, pastor of Glover Grove Baptist Church. “That’s 33 years just gone down the drain.”

Or Hoax?

Investigate faster, please.

h/t Corduroyalist

Ofcom-RSGB Forum – 23 June 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Approval of NoV requests for beacons and repeaters It was noted that, according to Ofcom records, only four requests were awaiting clearance from the primary user. It was agreed that the RSGB would notify Ofcom of any others that appeared to be outstanding. It was agreed that the RSGB should satisfy itself that any potential […]

Club stations and RSLs [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Following last week’s publication of the Policy on temporary call signs and call sign enhancement, Ofcom officials have confirmed that they are content for clubs in England to decide themselves whether and when to enhance their club call sign with the Regional Secondary Locator “X”, thus continuing current custom and practice.

Robin Hewes T. Eng, FSER, G3TDR, June 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Robin Hewes, G3TDR, became a Silent Key after suffering a stroke, a broken hip and a heart attack in June 2015. He was an enthusiastic member of the Society serving a term on the RSGB council, during which he was the Events Organiser and Manager of Many RSGB Exhibitions and Rallies. He edited the RSGB […]

ISS astronauts' food, water dwindle to below NASA level after failed resupply [CBC | Technology News]

hi-852-international-space-station-nasa-695148main_s134e010137

The three astronauts aboard the International Space Station usually have six months of food and water supplies, NASA says, but a failed resupply mission on the weekend has left them with only four months worth.

From antennas to swipe screens, cellphones mark 30 years in Canada [CBC | Technology News]

Cellphone 30 Years

Cellphones debut in Canada on July 1, 1985, with a call between the mayors of Toronto and Montreal at the time. That month, a man paid $2,700 to become the first cellphone customer in Canada for a cell that came with its own carrying bag.

Pink salmon threatened by acidification of rivers [CBC | Technology News]

hi-852-pink-salmon-3502674

Juvenile pink salmon on the West Coast face a double threat from the acidification of rivers linked to greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study released by UBC.

Barack Obama loses round in Supreme Court over bid to limit coal emissions [CBC | Technology News]

A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against federal regulators' attempts to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. It's a blow to U.S. efforts to inspire other countries to control their emissions as they approach Paris talks on a new global climate treaty later this year.

Solar-powered plane passes 'non-return point' of 120-hour flight [CBC | Technology News]

Japan Solar Plane

A solar-powered plane has passed the point of no return on the longest leg so far of its journey to circumnavigate the world without fuel.

Justin Trudeau's environment plan: End fossil fuel subsidies, invest in clean tech [CBC | Technology News]

Trudeau Environment 20150629

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has unveiled myriad environmental promises in Vancouver, including hundreds of millions of dollars in clean technology investment and a continued focus on climate change.

How a person can drive 40 km without realizing they hit a moose [CBC | Technology News]

li-moose-higgins-620

The stories of two Newfoundlanders who don't remember their vehicles striking a moose are not just curious tales of luck. They also highlight the complex underpinnings of human memory.

SpaceX rocket destroyed on way to space station, cargo lost [CBC | Technology News]

SpaceX Falcon rocket

An unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station broke apart Sunday shortly after liftoff. It was a severe blow to NASA, the third cargo mission to fail in eight months.

WRMI test transmission of Armed Forces Radio of Nigeria [The SWLing Post]

Radio Miami International

(Source: WRMI on Facebook)

Radio Miami has arranged for a one-week test transmission of the Armed Forces Radio of Nigeria from the Issoudun, France relay site beginning Tuesday, June 30.

The transmission, which will be directed to West Africa, will be from 0600-0700 UTC on two frequencies:

  • 11,825 kHz will carry a Hausa-language program, and
  • 13,775 kHz will carry an English-language program.

Passport to World Band Radio now available for download [The SWLing Post]

PassportToWorldband RadioMany thanks to my buddy, Skip Arey (N2EI), who informed me that the American Radio History website has added 18 issues of the late Passport To World Band Radio to their free downloads archive. These issues span 1986-2009 and are free to download. What a treasure trove!

Click here to view Passport To World Band Radio on the American Radio History website.

International Radio Serbia petition [The SWLing Post]

SerbiaProtestMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who shares a link to this online petition for International Radio Serbia.

The link labeled, “Serbia needs a World Service” is prominent on Radio Serbia’s website.

Click here to open the petition page which is in both Serbian and English. I have pasted the English wording of the petition below:


Serbia needs a world service!

The friends and listeners of the International Radio Serbia – Radio Yugoslavia have initiated this petition to prevent the extinguishing of this media house, important for Serbia. The people signed below ask of the Serbian Prime Minister to abolish the government’s decision and that he personally talks to the employees. We demand that the extinguishing of this radio be stopped and that Serbia finally starts pondering its presence among the global media and the importance of shortwave broadcasting, along with all other media outlets that the International Radio Serbia is using (internet, video and audio newscasts, live stream).

After the failed negotiations between the employees of the International Radio Serbia – Radio Yugoslavia and the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Serbian Government passed the decision to EXTINGUISH the International Radio Serbia as of 1 July 2015.

The Serbian Government (including several different ruling parties and governments since the country has not been called Yugoslavia) for more than two decades is unable to understand the significance of having a media house such as the International Radio Serbia. It is owing to the negligence of the Serbian Government that we still carry the name Radio Yugoslavia.

The International Radio Serbia is the only radio station in the country that broadcasts program on the shortwave frequency, reaching all parts of the world, and for 79 years has been the promoter of the state policies, economy, culture, and traditions. Through the broadcasts on the short waves and via internet (www.glassrbije.org and www.voiceofserbia.org ) in Serbia and another eleven languages, this media house has been the unofficial portal of the state of Serbia for eight decades, covering all five continents. This kind of informal diplomacy is today an irreplaceable avenue of country’s promotion in the most positive manner. It is confirmed by the fact that other, much bigger countries, have not renounced on their world services, so they are modernizing and improving the work of similar media – Deutsche Welle, BBC World Service, Voice of America, Voice of Russia – as do some countries in the region, like Slovenia, an EU member that declared their radio for the media of national importance.

Numerous listeners around the world, as well as the Serbian embassies abroad and foreign embassies in Serbia, have assessed the International Radio Serbia as a relevant and reliable source of information about Serbia. For the members of Serbian Diaspora, it is an irreplaceable tie with the homeland.

It is worth reminding that the International Radio Serbia is one of the oldest shortwave radio stations, founded six years before the Voice of America. It started broadcasting on 8 March 1936, in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Heading to Comic-Con®? You might walk away with the official bag... [The Flash]



Heading to Comic-Con®? You might walk away with the official bag for The Flash!

Only 1 DAY left to catch up from the beginning. Watch The... [The Flash]



Only 1 DAY left to catch up from the beginning. Watch The Flash for FREE with The CW app: bit.ly/TheCWApp

Diagnosing The Health of Republican Government With F.H. Buckley [The Federalist]

The last decade in American history has witnessed the expansion of the Executive power and subsequent erosion of the Legislative branch. That’s according to author and Constitutional scholar, F.H. Buckley. The George Mason professor argues that Montesquieu’s hallmark of Republican government, the separation of powers, has been completely hollowed out.

The author joins Ben on this episode of the Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the recent Supreme Court cases, and also his recent book, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America.

Later, John-Henry Westen casts light on what’s to come in the wake of the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage. The editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, offers the Canadian experience as a cautionary guide for the United States.

Click here to listen, or use the embedded clip below.

School Vouchers May Head Again To Supreme Court [The Federalist]

The nation’s first locally run school vouchers program may head to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn discriminatory provisions in 37 state constitutions that were largely enacted in the 1800s at the behest of the Klu Klux Klan and other anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic organizations.

Despite finding that antagonists to Douglas County, Colorado’s local vouchers program had no standing to sue, the state Supreme Court today reversed a lower court’s ruling to find the choice program violates a section of the state constitution known as a Blaine Amendment. Blaine Amendments prohibit public dollars from funding “sectarian” organizations such as schools. This sounds impartial until one discovers they were enacted to prohibit Catholics (and others) from setting up parochial schools so all American children had to attend WASP-dominated public schools.

In other words, they were not intended to be religiously neutral, but to enforce formerly mainstream Protestantism on all American children despite their families’ beliefs. Now, of course, Blaine Amendments typically serve to enforce secular Marxism on all American children, as they often prevent states from enacting voucher programs that would allow families to use their state education dollars in whatever diverse ways they see fit, including at religious and non-religious schools of all variations, rather than herding everyone into school systems that must offer either one-size-fits-none pantheism, deism, or secularism.

Basics About Douglas County School Choice

Before we get there, let’s go through a little background information about Douglas County’s vouchers program. The school district is wealthy, high-performing, and right-leaning. In 2009, local conservatives got organized and flipped DougCo’s school district Republican. Since then, the district has been leading the nation in innovative, competition-friendly education ideas, including establishing the nation’s first school-district-run private-school choice program.

It’s utterly wild that a school district would be confident enough to open itself to competition for students.

For the uninitiated, it’s utterly wild that a school district would be confident enough to open itself to competition for students. Usually, school districts are fiercely possessive about “their” students, to the point of sending snoops to follow families home to make sure kids enrolled in their schools actually live within district bounds.

Like all voucher programs, Douglas County’s was immediately sued by the usual suspects, suspending it until today. But it looks like the story’s not going to stop here.

“We have always believed that the ultimate legality of our choice program would be decided by federal courts,” said DougCo school board president Kevin Larsen at a press conference this morning. “This could simply be a case of delayed gratification. Ultimately we believe this will pave the way for all U.S. students to be free of the yoke of the Blaine Amendment and exercise all their educational opportunities.”

Chances at the Supreme Court

The school district is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Larsen and DougCo School Board Director Craig Richardson today. By the way, your money’s not paying for this: DougCo has funded its several years of legal defense with private donations, and expects it would do the same for an appeal, Richardson said.

Voucher programs are an ideal way to make schooling religiously neutral.

Supreme Court precedent is firmly on the side of Douglas County. In its last treatment of the issue, the 2002 decision Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the court decided Ohio’s vouchers were legal because they gave money, not directly to religious institutions, but to parents, who could then choose to use it at religious or secular institutions as they pleased. So it wasn’t the state picking religious winners and losers—it was individuals. This gives credence to Richardson’s suggestion today: “We believe [the constitutionality of Blaine Amendments] is a question that is ripe for [facing] the equal protection clause and the free exercise clause.”

This could be a stunner for the nation if the Supreme Court follows its own precedent. As education law expert Joshua Dunn told my friend Mary Tillotson for Watchdog.org, “I’m surprised that the state Supreme Court relied on the Blaine Amendment. The reason it’s risky for the state Supreme Court to do that is you could argue that state Blaine Amendments violate the First Amendment. It’s possible that you could take this to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court could say all state Blaine Amendments are unconstitutional, that would be a victory for the school-choice movement.”

Voucher programs are an ideal way to make schooling religiously neutral instead of either forcing public schools into comic contortions in an impossible attempt to validate and recognize every single religious and non-religious holiday and expression, or leaving them to enforce atheism on the grounds that atheism is “not a religion” despite, as the Supreme Court has noted, atheism’s intrinsic positions on religious-only questions such as what happens when we die and whether there is a God and, if so, what’s his nature.

The major problem here is that, as some may have noticed over the past week, the Supreme Court has recently become more dramatically unmoored from legal precedent and little things like the plain meanings of words (see: “state exchange”). In other words, legal precedent may mean diddly squat. In that case, what may happen if this reaches our nation’s nine black-robed overlords is anyone’s guess. But it’s also pretty clear the court’s no special friend to religious nonprofits, a massive chunk of which are schools.

So whether it’s prudent to pursue this litigation is very much open for debate. On the one hand, there’s a possibility of liberating the nation from enforced religious indoctrination vis a vis the increasingly centralized and totalitarian public-school system. On the other, there’s the possibility of unleashing the utterly unpredictable and religious-liberty-suspicious Supreme Court on the nation’s already-targeted and emaciated independent schools.

I don’t like this wager.

Can Gay Marriage Defeat The Islamic State? [The Federalist]

No. Gay marriage is not going to defeat ISIS. Stop being an idiot.

Dissenting Obergefell Justices Sound Alarm On Religious Freedom [The Federalist]

Within moments of the Supreme Court handing down its Obergefell decision, the media and other progressives celebrated the news that Anthony Kennedy had redefined marriage to include same-sex couples. He and four other justices on the Supreme Court discovered — Kennedy struggled mightily to explain where or how, precisely — a new fundamental right to same-sex marriage. That meant, as Justice Antonin Scalia put it, that “every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003.”

Lost in the celebration was even a slight journalistic comprehension of what the Court had done, much less a critical analysis of same. There is much to be written about the effect of this Roe V. Wade-style decision that bans any further discussion of changing marriage law voluntarily. I imagine there will be much focus on the alarms sounded by the four dissenting justices about the grave threat to self-government, rule of law and the unintended consequences of redefining the pre-governmental institution that forms the basis of society. For now, let’s look at what the justices had to say about the clash between sexual liberty and religious freedom.

Let’s remind ourselves that for years, now, the media have acted as cheerleaders for same-sex marriage. At best, they’ve ignored concerns from much of the country that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could lead to grave threats to religious freedom. At worst, they’ve disparaged critics and skeptics of marriage redefinition as the worst kind of bigots. Many journalists, including some at the Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and other major outlets, put word out that they did not believe opponents of marriage redefinition needed to be covered fairly, shunning them as beneath contempt. In recent months, the media engaged in anti-religious liberty campaigns, hunting for heretics in state-based battles of sexual liberty vs. religious freedom.

With that brief reminder, let’s look at what each justice had to say about the clash.

Kennedy: We’ll let you talk about your wrong religious views. Nothing more.

First up is Anthony Kennedy’s opinion, boldface mine. It’s remarkably brief, particularly considering the lengthy and flowery prose dedicated to other parts of his emotive opinion:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

“Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty.”

And that’s … it. That’s the entirety of Kennedy’s comment on the matter. You know how sometimes you hear something or see something and it sounds nice and then when you think about it, you start to realize that it was carefully worded to make it seem nicer than it is? Well, this doesn’t even require a re-read for your antenna to go up. I mean, it’s true that the First Amendment recognizes the right of the religious to teach. But it does ohhhhhh so much more than that! It actually guarantees freedom of religious expression, of which teaching the faith is but one small part. Or as the First Amendment puts it, Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. To pat the religious on the head and say, “you can kind of still teach, for now” while discovering a new constitutional right in deep conflict with those teachings is disconcerting, to put it mildly.

Roberts: This decision does not protect the religious.

The dissenters picked up on it. Let’s see what they have to say about this not-even-remotely-generous allowance King Kennedy doles out to those loser American subjects who insist on retaining their faith. First up is the author of the main dissent, John Roberts. He goes to town on the topic:

“The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. They have constitutional power only to resolve concrete cases or controversies; they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right. Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution. Amdt. 1.

Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing samesex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. Ante, at 27. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

“Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept samesex marriage. Ante, at 19. That disclaimer is hard to square with the very next sentence, in which the majority explains that “the necessary consequence” of laws codifying the traditional definition of marriage is to “demea[n] or stigmatiz[e]” same-sex couples. Ante, at 19. The majority reiterates such characterizations over and over. By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history—in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. Ante, at 17, 19, 22, 25. These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court. See post, at 6–7 (ALITO, J., dissenting). Moreover, they are entirely gratuitous. It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted. Ante, at 19.

Scalia: Rule of law and self-government have been gravely wounded. Also, Kennedy is an idiot.

Scalia didn’t write specifically about religion, but he did say this decision robbed Americans of their right to self-government and that the court beclowned itself and damaged American democracy.

Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Later he writes:

“A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

Thus, rather than focusing on the People’s understanding of “liberty”—at the time of ratification or even today—the majority focuses on four “principles and traditions” that, in the majority’s view, prohibit States from defining marriage as an institution consisting of one man and one woman. This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Thomas: CODE RED. I repeat, we have a religious liberty CODE RED.

In most Supreme Court cases where Scalia is writing a dissent, his dissent is the most fun to read. This case is no exception, particularly if you enjoy watching Kennedy’s argument ripped to shreds. But the other dissents expressed exactly as much alarm as Scalia, which makes them far more frightening to read. Here’s what Clarence Thomas had to say:

“The majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.”

Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect…

Numerous amici—even some not supporting the States—have cautioned the Court that its decision here will “have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.” Brief for General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists et al. as Amici Curiae 5. In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Id., at 7. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.

The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph, ante, at 27. And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Ibid. Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.

Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

Smooth move, Kennedy! What are you going to do for an encore? Wait, don’t answer that!

Alito: With this lawless decision, government will stamp out dissent

Alito also sounded the alarm, pointedly and with economy:

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes.”

Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences.

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. E.g., ante, at 11–13. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. Ante, at 26–27. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds. Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.

Kennedy’s muddled opinion included a total of one paragraph on the most contentious religious freedom issue of our time. Even that paragraph showed, as Thomas put it, a mistaken understanding of the First Amendment. Perhaps when the media complete their marches in pride parades and finish their breathless coverage of a rainbow-spackled White House and are done changing their logos to rainbow flags, they can take a few minutes to glance at these dissents, each of which express grave concerns about religious freedom and the rule of law.

And time’s a-wastin’.

In the few hours since Obergefell was passed, media outlets have published op-eds in support of polygamy, against religious freedom laws, and against tax exemptions for churches.

Who could have anticipated that?

5 Tips For Families Considering Homeschooling [The Federalist]

Homeschooling is having a moment. The number of homeschooled students in the United States grew by 300,000 between 2007 and 2012, and now make up about 3 percent of the school-aged population. According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, parents chose to homeschool their children for many reasons. The most common was concern about the school’s environment. Second was a desire to provide moral education, and the third was dissatisfaction with other education options.

Growing parent dissatisfaction with Common Core has already led to an increase in the number of parents who choose to homeschool their children. I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but the small homeschooling community to which our family belongs is already planning to add a number of families next year on top of the growth it experienced last year.

After our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers, my wife and I decided to homeschool. Although we knew our local school system had some support for her, we believed this would be a better option.

We know our daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, found a curriculum that works, and my wife started homeschooling her. Today, thanks to some budget issues that threatened my former job and opportunities in my wife’s place of employment, I find myself a stay-at-home dad who is the homeschool teacher to his kids. This is not where I planned to be at this point in my life, but I believe in God and, evidently, he had different ideas. So here I am.

You think you want to homeschool? I congratulate you on your choice. In my completely biased opinion, it is superior to the public education system because it’s simply a natural extension of what you’ve already been doing for years as a parent. The only difference is that you’re teaching them about history, math, and science instead of life skills. You’re already a teacher, so go teach.

But first, a few pieces of advice.

1. Find a Curriculum

One of the most tangible signs of homeschooling’s increasing popularity is the variety of curricula available to parents. We use Classical Conversations, which is like a classical liberal arts education for kids, but there are many others, both religious and secular. A simple web search will actually reveal an intimidating number of them, but smother the impulse to shut off the computer and run away.

Don’t spend time forging trails that have already been marked by those who traveled before you.

Choosing a curriculum comes down to a few simple questions: how do your children learn, how much time will it take, and how much will the materials cost? Find one that works for you and resist the temptation to create your own. Parents have been homeschooling for decades, and have used their knowledge to create these learning plans. Don’t spend time forging trails that have already been marked by those who traveled before you. Trust their wisdom, and lean on their experience. It will ease the transition for you, and for the kids.

A good curriculum will help you set a firm agenda, organize your teaching, and be a lifeboat on the days when you don’t feel like teaching, and they don’t feel like learning. More on that later, but fair warning: those days will come.

2. Find a Community

One of the dumbest criticisms of homeschooling is about whether the kids will be “properly socialized.” In many public schools, kids sit near others of their age for hours at a time, being addressed by an adult while also prohibited from speaking with one another. At most, they get maybe an hour of social time with their peers before being put back into the classroom. That’s not socialization, it’s conditioning.

Even if you decide not to join a group, don’t homeschool alone.

Every Tuesday, our kids look forward to “CC day,” when those of us who use this particular curriculum gather for a few hours in the morning. There is an assembly, a time of concentrated learning of that week’s curriculum, and a meal and social time. This particular community consists of about 35 students, but that number doesn’t include their younger siblings, who spend the teaching time in a nursery.

When they gather, they socialize. Not in clumps of like-minded cliques, but just kids being kids. Once out of the nursery, the younger kids do their best to blend in. The older kids run around, and the younger join them. Eight-year-olds talk to twelve-year-olds, and adults interact with all. There are no grades, no artificial barriers. Just kids of all ages spending time together.

Even if you decide not to join a group, don’t homeschool alone. Seek out your fellow travelers and spend time with them. Let your kids run around together and socialize. Go to the library, visit museums. Learn together. Homeschool doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. It is not a synonym for hermit. It gives you freedom to go out and provide your kids with experiences they would not have in a public school.

3. Let Go of the Idyllic, and Start Slow

The point of this article is to encourage, not discourage, so I’ll try to make this point as gently as I can: sometimes, homeschooling is terrible and you will have fantasies of putting your kids on the public-school bus and waving at them as happily as that girl in “Almost Famous” did right before everyone sang “Tiny Dancer.”

There are times the kids eagerly come to the table ready to learn, but those are about as rare as seeing a unicorn flying over a rainbow.

Okay, that was less gentle than I intended. My point, though, is if you’re thinking about homeschooling, you probably have a certain expectation of what it looks like, and if you’re like me, it was something along the lines of us perfectly reciting curriculum facts together while classical music plays quietly in the background. Also, we’re all smiling.

Reality set in pretty quickly, and I realized a simple truth: to the kids, homeschool is just school. There are times the kids eagerly come to the table ready to learn, but those are about as rare as seeing a unicorn flying over a rainbow. Although my kids do enjoy homeschooling, they are not always enthusiastic about it. Some days, I have to use the Dad Voice to get them into the dining/homeschooling room, then try to cajole them into actually engaging with the material I’m trying to teach.

Homeschool is work. It’s sometimes tedium and there are times you will sit in silence at the table with your kids after asking them a question while they scowl and ignore you (spoiler alert: this may involve tears—and not just from the kids), but the first time they recite the Preamble to the Constitution or tell you the names, symbols, and atomic weights of the first twelve elements on the periodic table, when the repetition finally bears fruit, that’s when you realize that it’s all worth it. It doesn’t make the bad times better, but it lets you know that, yes, they are actually listening and learning, and it’s working.

This will happen, eventually, but in the beginning? Start slow. This is new for you and new for the kids. Set your expectations accordingly.

4. Relax

My wife works on the weekends, so that’s when we do a lot of our homeschooling. A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I sat down at the dining-room table. I pulled out the book and started asking questions and…it all fell flat. They weren’t paying attention. I was tired, so I just let them go and play.

If you miss a day or two of school because the weather is great and the kids just want to enjoy being outside, embrace it.

This will happen. Just roll with it. There are days your kids will not want to learn, and there are days where you will not want to teach. Sometimes, you’ll all be able to push through it, and school will proceed as normal. Other days, this will not happen, and the reasons aren’t always bad. For example, if you miss a day or two of school because the weather is great and the kids just want to enjoy being outside, embrace it or, better yet, move school.

We live in Maine, a state that just had a cold and stormy winter and a late spring. The last weeks of the school year were beautiful, with 70-degree weather and sunny skies. During them, the kids understandably wanted to get outside and play, but we had 20 days of school yet to complete. Enter what my kids call “sneaky school.” In my experience, this is the best school of all, and it’s easy. We sit outside, in the sun, and I ask them questions or review that week’s curriculum material. Other times, we review material while they play with Legos, or eat dinner. This, to me, is the most wonderful thing about homeschooling: it’s portable.

5. Enjoy!

I am not an optimist. In fact, by nature, I’m an introvert with more than a touch of misanthropy. Fun for me is sitting alone in a room, reading a good book. So imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying being a homeschool teacher and meeting with the CC group.

Watching your child’s face light up when he or she grasps a concept is intoxicating.

Homeschooling may be work, but it’s one of the best jobs you’ll ever have. When I first started attending the group, and saw all the happy faces on the parents around me, the experience seemed strange and I vowed to avoid the Kool-Aid. My resolve lasted just under three weeks, when I had an epiphany on a Tuesday morning while watching a group of kids recite, from memory, the first seven verses of John 1, in Latin, from the Vulgate.

I’ve had many moments since: a violin concert performed by two kids, or watching my daughter with Asperger’s grow increasingly comfortable speaking in front of her classmates during each week’s presentation time. The best part is seeing how much they’ve grown to love learning, and even starting to teach—my two older girls have spent time helping their younger brother learn the alphabet, or how to count to ten.

Watching your child’s face light up when he or she grasps a concept is intoxicating, and it’s no less so when you watch their peers do the same on homeschool-group days. Those moments are the best part of homeschooling and we get to observe and rejoice in them. When you’re a homeschool parent, you are sharing knowledge with your children while encouraging them to dig deeper. Our house is home to a classroom of three smart, restless kids and every time I see them understand a concept, I’m glad we made the choice not to outsource their education.

These are just the basics. There are many other issues to consider: the laws that regulate homeschooling in your state, assessment options, and whether you can access extracurricular activities at your local schools, to name a few.

I am unabashedly biased in favor of homeschooling. It has worked well for us, and we’ve become more than a bit evangelical in our support for it. That said, I understand that it’s not possible or convenient for everyone, but if you can do it, I encourage you to try.

As I said before, as a parent, you’re already a teacher. Homeschooling just adds a few more subjects. The good news? It makes the best job in the world even better.

Thoughts From The Other Side Of The Obergefell Decision [The Federalist]

I grew up in the South and was surrounded by cultural Christianity, but a lot of that was almost like playing Santa Claus. It was strictly a Sunday thing (if a thing at all) and it was subordinate to southern tradition. That’s one reason why Christianity didn’t power a stronger fight against racial discrimination in the region. Too much of it was status, tradition, networking, and passing time. The secondary headline in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision is that cultural Christianity is clearly terminal. It died in the big cities many years ago. Obergefell will help finish it off in the South. Most southerners will be just a hair slower on buying into gay marriage, but they’re modern people just the same.

When I went to college at Florida State in the late 1980s, I met a whole new class of Christians. These people weren’t Christian as part of some larger cultural package. They followed Christ first, last, and always. They talked about him, sang about him, and thought about him all the time. They considered themselves to be in a relationship with him. In a way I hadn’t seen before, they lived their faith. I had never met such devout and serious people. They were also the kindest people I’d ever met. Part of the public-relations problem for Christians today is that these kinds of persons never warrant much attention. The media’s interest hovers above Westboro Baptist Church (which I am convinced is actually a performance art group from Bennington) and whatever utterance Pat Robertson has seen fit to deliver.

Their lives intrigued me. I listened, talked, hung out, and even pretended to be one of them. I wasn’t, but I wanted to be. Over the course of months and maybe even years, their faith became mine. I stopped pretending to be one of them because no more tributary charade was needed.

From Death to a Living Faith

There is an old story about a Christian academic who put his faith into a drawer for a while. When he came back and opened it again, there was nothing there. I had the opposite experience. My drawer was empty to start. When I opened it again, it was like trying to contain a bright and blinding force. The drawer could no longer be closed. There was no more division of religion and life. There was just life to be lived for Christ.

There was no sense in which I might have felt as though Christian sexual morality was predominant.

My entire reality has since been suffused with his presence. I know Christ through the Bible, through the church, through other Christians who demonstrate spiritual maturity, and through the echoing influence of his life, death, and resurrection in our history. More deeply, I believe that he speaks into my life. I believe that he has affected the course of my days. There are times when I look back and see my life as a Christian as the product of decisions that I made. But if I shift the kaleidoscope just a little, then it begins to appear that I walked through an elaborately choreographed sequence.

My life began to change in the way I have described back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When I started to identify as an active and serious Christian at Florida State, I felt like an alien. My dormitory was suffused with a hedonism based on sex and alcohol. (In fact, it was after a couple of lost weekends of my own that I decided to attend a Christian meeting on campus for the first time.) There was no sense in which I might have felt as though Christian sexual morality was predominant. That was only the case in small groups like our InterVarsity chapter (yes, the ones no longer welcome on many campuses) where almost everyone was seeking earnestly to adhere to a New Testament sexual ethic.

Our Culture Hasn’t Been Christian for Decades

Christians today who are shocked or dismayed by the Obergefell decision can’t claim to experience such reactions because of the American culture’s adherence to biblical sexual morality. Anyone under 50 has lived in a culture in which premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, and even adultery have been reasonably common.

Once the birth-control pill, legalized abortion, and the removal of legal sanction changed the calculus of consequence, Americans moved in a different direction en masse.

Was it once common for Americans to delay sex until marriage? Yes. Did they once avoid divorce if humanly possible? Did the law once lend its authority to chastity and the preservation of marriages? Yes. Unquestionably. But once the birth-control pill, legalized abortion, and the removal of legal sanction changed the calculus of consequence, Americans moved in a different direction en masse. It wasn’t a desire to be faithful to God and his design that sustained more traditional sexual behaviors. It was a flatly utilitarian calculation. Once that changed, America changed. I don’t think it was ever going to be possible to maintain the old consensus on marriage, including gay marriage, in a time in which sex is much more about pleasure than it is about conceiving children.

The change is almost like the plot of a sci-fi novel in which a sentient planet begins to exert an impact on human beings. Gay marriage seems almost like an ecological strategy of some green mega-mind. “A significant percentage of unions henceforth must not be fruitful. Thus, the male-male and the female-female relationship must come to represent a larger portion of potential couplings. This strategy will join the pharmocological and surgical methods.”

So, why the distress now? Why does Obergefell fall so heavily? It’s a little bit like being a child whose parents’ marriage is slowly disintegrating. But for years they held on. The kid knows a divorce is probably going to happen. The things that tied the family together have slowly been broken or dissolved in a long and painful process. But right up until the moment when it really happens, the child has hope. The parents criticized each other, refused to give credit, were eager to assign blame. And now it feels like it’s over. It’s not just over. Some people are throwing parties to celebrate. They’ve been hoping for this divorce for years and are thrilled to see it happen.

Celebrating America’s Divorce

No amount of David Barton-style arguing about the genetic traditions of the United States is going to put the marriage back together. There is probably no special romance, no weekend in the mountains that will restore it.

No social change, no worldly court, no legislation will re-orient me.

Many are aglow in the wake of Obergefell. They didn’t like that old marriage between Christianity and the U.S.A. In fact, they thought America needed a new mate altogether. Call it scientific humanism or therapeutic deism, whatever. To them, this looks like the most hopeful moment yet.

It’s hard to be the person at the party who isn’t celebrating. But I have no choice other than to be hopeful lest I discount my own conversion and spiritual quest. I believe Jesus is real and that he is the son of God. I know that men and women still seek him. Many will come as I did. He will change their lives forever as he changed mine. I know that the church and many Christians in times and places across history and around the globe have faced far greater challenges. No social change, no worldly court, no legislation will re-orient me.

I remember what it was like, looking out at my fellow students at Florida State when I was part of some tiny minority of Jesus freaks. It was one of the best times of my life. No running with the herd. No osmosis of values. I trust him for the future.

Why Big Oil Wants A Carbon Tax [The Federalist]

Let’s assume for the sake of this discussion (despite real-world evidence to the contrary) that all corporations only act in rational ways they think will maximize profits. How, then, might we understand the moves by multinational oil conglomerates in favor of a tax on carbon?

Late last month, six oil companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, wrote a letter to the United Nations (UN) in which they argue that “a price on carbon should be a key element” of inter-governmental action to address climate change: “Pricing carbon obviously adds a cost to our production and our products – but carbon pricing policy frameworks will contribute to provide our businesses and their many stakeholders with a clear roadmap for future investment, a level playing field for all energy sources across geographies and a clear role in securing a more sustainable future.”

So one clear advantage of governments pricing carbon through a tax would be stability and predictability. Even though the cost of the products these oil companies produce would be increased, such increases would be transparent and relatively forthright, as opposed to the uncertainty that comes with, as the companies put it, “participating in existing carbon markets and applying ‘shadow’ carbon prices in our own businesses to test whether investments will be viable in a world where carbon has a higher price.” Corporations certainly like predictability and stability in legal and regulatory regimes, and it is prudent for them to be proactive in shaping those regimes wherever possible.

But perhaps something else is going on here beyond the certainty argument for a carbon-tax regime. The letter hints at this other angle, referencing “the most efficient ways of reducing emissions widely,” and listing a number of these ways, including “the use of natural gas in place of coal.” This is an important, often overlooked point: not all fuel sources, fossil or otherwise, are equally carbon intensive.

Fracking and Gasoline Are Better than Coal

The New York Times’ David Brooks notes this reality as part of his engagement with the latest papal encyclical, “Laudato Si”: “There’s some evidence that fracking is a net environmental plus. That’s because cheap natural gas from fracking displaces coal…. Because natural gas has just half as much global-warming potential as coal, energy-related carbon emissions have declined more in the U.S. than in any other country over that time.” The relative competitiveness of various fuel types in relation to carbon costs is also why, contrary to conventional wisdom, a recent study has found that gas vehicles may be actually better for the environment than electric cars. Because coal is still the source of the majority of electricity in the United States, cars that rely on electricity are actually largely relying on coal.

A recent study has found that gas vehicles may be actually better for the environment than electric cars.

Advocates of a carbon tax hope that increasing the cost of fossil fuels will make other sources of energy more competitive and realistic alternatives. Often the relative advantage a carbon tax would confer is cast in terms of renewables (e.g. wind, solar) against fossil fuels (e.g. coal, natural gas).

But carbon taxes do not affect all fossil fuels equally. So just as some fossil fuels are much more carbon-intensive than others, here we can begin to understand how, beyond the benefits of predictability, a carbon tax might actually help some fossil-fuel providers just as it has helped reduce carbon emissions in the United States. Thus, as Vox’s David Roberts puts it, “fossil fuel companies requesting a tax on their own products makes more sense than might first appear.”

Carbon Taxes Hit Coal Harder than Natural Gas

So, while the oil advocacy letter was addressed to the UN, if we shift focus to the domestic situation in the United States, the ways in which a carbon tax might benefit some fossil-fuel companies becomes a bit clearer. Bloomberg View editorializes in support of the “Big Oil” letter to the UN, and notes, however, that none of the signatories “is based in the U.S. Still, their argument should resonate in Washington: ‘Clear, stable, long-term’ policies that make carbon more expensive (the letter never uses the word ‘tax’) are necessary to reduce uncertainty, stimulate investment and encourage the most efficient reductions in emissions.” Such “efficient reductions” include switching from coal to natural gas for energy production.

In the United States a tax on carbon would disproportionately impact the use of coal relative to natural gas for energy production.

As a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper illustrates, for example, in the United States a tax on carbon would disproportionately impact the use of coal relative to natural gas for energy production. As Joseph A. Cullen and Erin T. Mansur write, “Higher carbon prices make coal-fired power plants less competitive than natural gas-fired power plants.” Mansur, a business professor at Dartmouth College, also co-authored the paper on electric versus gasoline vehicles.

When examining the complex issues related to debates over climate change and energy policy, it is important to keep in mind the comparative and relative advantages and disadvantages of various energy sources in varying contexts. Relative to certain kinds of coal-burning power plants, for instance, reliance on natural gas can become a carbon-reducing alternative, just as gas-powered cars can be better alternatives than coal-cum-electric cars.

Against the common understanding, then, there is some real evidence to argue that the shale boom in North America may have helped to reduce rather than to exacerbate CO2 emissions. Cullen and Mansur show how anything that positively affects the price of natural gas relative to coal, including but not limited to a carbon tax, might work to reduce CO2 emissions. Switching from coal to natural gas in the United States could have a significant impact on carbon emissions in part because coal, a carbon-intensive source of energy, is the dominant source of electricity.

Don’t be surprised, then, if some domestic producers of natural gas end up promoting a carbon tax, not only out of concern for regime stability but also out of a concern to make their product more competitive in the energy marketplace.

Gnostic Mysticism Grounds Modern Progressive Ideology [The Federalist]

“You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she still will hurry back.”—Horace

For those of us watching a country race toward madness, this insight of the Roman poet is a last ray of hope. Whether it’s progressives ignoring the natural laws of economics (for instance, the law of scarcity, the law of unintended consequences, or the paradox of subsidies) or the LGBT gang rejecting nature’s dictates on the reproduction system, the common thread is the denial of obvious truths of nature. To be told what you see in nature is not what you see is indeed madness. Horace’s words provide some comfort: nature has the last vote and will have its day.

Hand in hand with the rejection of nature, of course, is the necessary sacralization of madness. “[M]adness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring,” said Marilyn Monroe. In a nation catechized by pop culture, such words ring truer than that of an ancient poet.

Like most pop-culture dingbats, Monroe was simply absorbing and reflecting the fashionable air she was breathing, sentiments of New Left thinkers like psychiatrist R. D. Laing, who believed madness and insanity are honest adjustments to an insane and mad world. Such a view—assuming the world is mad or insane—revolts against the inherited understanding of nature, that it is something ordered and good, that it musters the mind to something intrinsically worthwhile. Our current “logicide,” to build off the brilliant essay by Stella Morabito, is directly related to this denial of nature and the capacity of words to identify its various beings, or rationality to make sense of them.

Nothing testifies to the race toward madness and the revolt against nature better than the entrenchment of gay marriage and transgenderism as acceptable cultural institutions. Now that the Supreme Court has made gay marriage a right of every citizen, a revolution against nature begun a few decades back has officially succeeded. That revolution replaces a nature-based culture with a Gnostic one. What does this mean? (For a fuller treatment of the Gnostic revolution of our culture, go here.)

Nature-Based Reasoning and Culture

To set up our reflection on Gnostic-based reasoning, let’s look at a simple example of nature-based reasoning. Nature bestows upon our humanity about a dozen bodily systems. These systems each require the external world to conform to its needs. The skeletal and muscular systems, for instance, dictate the nature of our furniture, housing plans, clothing, and tools. Institutions develop around these basic human needs.

Marriage institutionalizes the reproductive system in the same way a restaurant or dinner table institutionalizes the digestive system.

The digestive system is particularly instructive, because perhaps more than any other system its needs have resulted in cultural institutions the world over. A Bob Evans restaurant institutionally manifests the demands of the digestive system. The purpose of the digestive system is to consume food that breaks down into energy for the body, and Bob Evans formalizes this biological truth. Cultural variances are granted, but the basic natural order of chewing food and swallowing it is universal.

Let’s put this Bob Evans analogy on the back burner for a minute and let it simmer, and let’s apply this nature-based reasoning to another system: the reproductive system.

Marriage institutionalizes the reproductive system in the same way a restaurant or dinner table institutionalizes the digestive system. Again, cultural variances are granted, but the basic natural order of male sex organ depositing seed into female sex organ in order to propagate the species is simply what the reproductive organs and system are all about.

True, nature introduced attraction to the mix to draw male and female together, but, like tastes in food, the attraction fosters a greater biological purpose. Historically, societies have wrestled with the tension between the pure biological purpose and the element of attraction, in regards to both reproduction and digestion, but generally when the attraction becomes totally disconnected from the biological purpose, this has been seen as indulgence, gluttony, promiscuity, and immoderate behavior.

Such nature-based reasoning is downright offensive in a post-’60s world where sexuality has indeed been disconnected from its biological and natural purpose and rests in personal attraction alone. The spiritual pathology of this cultural revolution is exactly this revolution toward Gnostic paradigms of thinking, particularly its understanding of sexual love.

Gnosticism’s Revolt against Nature

In Western history, both philosophy and religion took for granted the existence of a nature known by reason or revelation. Nature was seen as inherently good. Even the scientific revolution, with all its “nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” pretensions, still flattered nature by attempting to imitate it.

For the Gnostic, the natural order—the known universe—is a vast cosmic mistake.

One movement in Western history, however, began with the premise that nature is inherently evil, and that is Gnosticism. For the Gnostic, the natural order—the known universe—is a vast cosmic mistake. Materiality itself only exists as the result of a primordial cosmic fall. All should be one and undifferentiated, but after the fall of the one into the many, matter came into being as the stuff which makes individuality and distinctiveness possible. Through matter we can now talk of differentiated beings, a world into “me’s” and “others”. Matter allows for the “other”-ification of the world. This, for the Gnostic, is the source of all evils.

Distinctions we would think are natural, such as the distinction between male and female or the distinct natural necessity of male-female coupling for procreation, are deemed corrupt. Likewise are the institutions arising from these distinctions—like marriage or family—inherently false and delusive. Such systems of this fallen world, and many others, only conspire to create prison cells for our minds, trapping us into perverse thinking.

The Gnostic believed an elite few had within themselves a spark (sometimes referred to as the higher Self) of the original One. Salvation occurred only when the higher Self awoke to the prison cell of this world order—with all its systems and institutions—and returned to its primordial state of oneness, where no distinctions existed.

Rebellion against the natural order was thus salvific, a liberation of the true Self. This is why Gnosticism has historically gone hand in hand with the rejection of marriage and childbearing, as well as the embrace of bisexuality, androgyny, and communitarianism. Anything rooted in the natural arrangement of things—property claims, gender distinctions, procreation, natural cultural institutions—shackles the higher Self.

From this premise, the Gnostics abstracted sexual love from gender, marriage, and baby-making, proposing what they thought was a higher and more transcendent view of love.

The New View of Love

Gnostics propose erotic love as the antidote to traditional, nature-based love. Erotic love centers on Self. It must center on Self because “other” (otherwise known as “neighbor” or “spouse”) is a deceptive fraud existing only in a world of distinctions. In the primordial, pre-fall world there is only the One, and my higher Self is a manifestation of that One. The liberated Self leaves this world of “others” and neighbors and spouses behind as the false delusions they are.

Gnostics propose erotic love as the antidote to traditional, nature-based love. Erotic love centers on Self.

In the Gnostic myth, Lady Sophia archetypically represented the awakened aspect of Self reaching down to draw each fallen Self back into the primordial Oneness. Some Gnostic sects practiced a “bridal chamber” ceremony to ritualize the restoration of the fallen Self to the Unity, through a Sophia stand-in, a sacred prostitute. The stand-in mate was nothing more than a symbolic representation of my personal Sophia.

Where nature-based sexual love calls for self-sacrifice and the suppression of internal passions—precisely because of what it means for civil society (adultery has been a crime in most societies)—Gnostic love was all about the inner passion and yearning for a transcendent Sophia. The Gnostic is ever in love with love, always moving on melancholically from one stand-in to another, never attaining his desire except in brief moments of ecstasy, glimpses of the divine vision. Their promiscuity is their ached quest for the liberated Self. Those who think gay marriage is about opening up a traditional institution to all people are kidding themselves (this is for you, Justice Kennedy!) and haven’t been paying attention to the gay movement. It’s about a new, Self-actualizing, deliberately non-procreative, Gnostic understanding of love.

Donna Minkowitz, lesbian author of “Ferocious Romance,” perfectly describes Gnostic love in a passage describing one of her many liaisons with different partners: “Pleasure without restriction. Vulnerability without exploitation. To me, to most of us, gay love means all these things and more – an ecstatic knowledge, almost a gnosis, that sex is possible outside of the horrifying thickets in which the rest of the culture has hedged it. And that we ourselves can get to it! Visions of a totally satisfying oral bliss, what Ginsberg called ‘caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,’ the mind-stealing kisses of ‘human seraphim,’ a physical joy beyond the bounds of anything most people experience, almost beyond the bounds of desire itself, my God! no wonder people fear us! But they should not fear. They should open to the Ultimate, as we have done.”

I guess when my wife becomes a quadriplegic, or old and wrinkly, or her body changes, and a flirtatious glance from miss-hotty-at-the-bar opens me up to the “Ultimate,” I should jump right in. After all, I was born with hot-chick-who’s-not-my-wife-attraction. Don’t judge me! Sorry, wife, your wheelchair is a horrifying thicket. And sorry, son, but my decision to commune with the Ultimate just put you on track to be suicidal, depressed, and more likely poor. You’re just one of the horrifying thickets on the bush of that institution called marriage.

It’s about a new, Self-actualizing, deliberately non-procreative, Gnostic understanding of love.

My sarcasm misses the point. A bigger battle is going on here. Hurting demanding children and boring spouses is acceptable collateral damage to an understanding of love rooted in internal passion, or “what I’m attracted to.” It’s all about love understood as liberating, ecstatic, and salvific, which is why sexual identity comes to dominate self-identity. Only through non-procreative sexuality—with whoever happens to be standing in as the archetypical object of my transcendent yearning—is the Self truly authentic.

The fallout of such a view of sex—the treatment of melancholic longing (i.e. depression and suicide) not as a danger but a feature, the hurt of broken relationships, the abandonment of children to instability merely becomes first tolerated, next accepted, then standardized, and finally consecrated.

Back to Bob Evans

Our Bob Evans analogy has simmered enough. It’s a good analogy because the iconoclastic tornado of the 1960s has not (yet?) done to the digestive system and its institutions what it has done to the reproductive system. Perhaps we can restore some sanity to our thinking by recalling what normalcy looks like vis a vis absurdity.

I just eat in an alternative way. Who are they to impose their standards on me?

Let’s say I determined the biological “rules” of the digestive system were oppressive. Let’s say I preferred to glory in the taste of food alone, but not its digestion, so that I vomited everything I ate. Let’s say I got my nutrition intravenously, so that wasn’t an issue.

Society currently calls this an “eating disorder,” but isn’t such thinking oppressively bound by the natural “rules” of the digestive system, the “rules” of our biology? And isn’t the very existence of Bob Evans nothing more than an institutional micro-aggression, daily reminding me of my so-called “disorder”?

Well, one way to remedy the situation is to blow up the whole system and its biological assumptions. Perhaps I should go into a Bob Evans, eat, then vomit wildly over the table. As patrons looked over at me in disgust, I could ask them what’s so different about me? I just eat in an alternative way. Who are they to impose their standards on me? You say what I do is “icky.” Maybe I think it’s icky the way you eat!

Then when the manager of Bob Evans ushers me out of the building, that’s when I begin a movement to habituate society into the belief that vomiting after dinner is normal, that I was born with this way of eating, and that no one should label my proclivities “disordered” or biologically perverse.

Eventually, I could get the law to force restaurants to allow alternative eating, i.e., vomiting wildly as a coda to dinner.

I could host vomiting parades, get Hollywood to have 25 percent of its characters be vomiters, have Bill Maher and all the cool late-night people sneer at swallowers as prudish stiffs. Eventually, I could get the law to force restaurants to allow alternative eating, i.e., vomiting wildly as a coda to dinner.

But what about biology? What about the digestive system and its clear biological purpose? Ahhh, this is where our Gnosticism comes in handy, because all nature-based or flesh-based “systems” are inherently unjust and oppressive, creating prison cells from which true redemption demands an escape. In a way, the vomiter is the truly liberated one, one of the few not oppressed by his biology.

A Critique of Nature-Rebellion

Matching people against the standards set by biological realities has always been a trustworthy way of identifying disorders, and in the end it actually helped people. When that standard is removed as oppressive, people will be left to wallow in an understanding of humanity rooted not in nature but self-determination alone. Psychology categorized homosexuality a disorder until 1973 for a reason, because it was and remains a breach of the natural reproductive order.

Now that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage for all states, and the Rubicon of nature-rebellion has been completely crossed, what real authority remains to declare anything a disorder?

Now that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage for all states, and the Rubicon of nature-rebellion has been completely crossed, what real authority remains to declare anything a disorder? As many conservative commentators have pointed out, what argument remains to say “body integrity identity disorder” is not simply the misnomer for transabled people who can only live out their “authentic” identity once they’ve cut off the limb they feel shouldn’t exist?

Of course this is madness, but if madness is sacralized through a wave of pop-culture affirmation and nature is chased out with pitchfork, what real argument does society have to declare anything a disorder? We already allow a male who believes himself female to amputate his sex organ. Why not amputation of limbs?

Every day people are born with a predisposition toward disorders from an ordered biological system: alcoholism, heart-disease, cancer, homosexuality, eating disorders, body integrity identity disorder, transgenderism, and whatnot. A caring society seeks to help such troubled souls. Once we disconnect care from a biological standard, where does that leave us?

It leaves a vacuum in which it appears the self is the final determiner of meaning, but in reality—because the idea of a lone, meaning-choosing Self is a fiction, an existentialist pretense, given our true existence in community from the moment of conception—something will fill the void and manipulate those choices. When anarchy of thought prevails, with no acknowledgment of natural, universal truths to strive for or guide us, the rule of the strong alone prevails.

Plato knew this long ago. Nature abhors a vacuum, and when nature becomes deconstructed to the point of vacuum status, something will step in and fill the void. This is the exact foundation for Nietzsche’s superman. It cannot be otherwise. In our culture, the role of strong man has been assumed by pop culture, which has truly tyrannized the American mind in a way unprecedented with the rise of 24/7 media saturation.

One can only wait for Horace’s dictum to play out, and pray nature hurries back.

Americans Buy Into Marxist Family Planning [The Federalist]

If you’ve never read “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published in 1848, you should—especially right now.

To be sure, reading this awful screed against human nature can be confusing, let alone unsatisfying and thoroughly unedifying. What do the authors mean, for example, when they screech: “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists”?

What, precisely, Marx and Engels meant by “abolition” is a subject for debate, which I detail in my book, “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.” There, I discuss at length the communist founding fathers’ disturbing views of family, marriage, sexuality, and more.

They are but one stop in a long line of leftists such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Alexandra Kollontai, Margaret Sanger, Margaret Mead, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, the Bolsheviks, the Frankfurt School of cultural Marxists, Mao Tse-Tung, assorted ’60s radicals from Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to Mark Rudd and Tom Hayden, and on to modern groups like the Beyond Marriage campaign and various gay-marriage activists—all just for starters—who have engaged in a long march to fundamentally transform natural, traditional, biblical marriage and the family.

Although they varied in their beliefs, all bristle at the idea of a God or absolute designer who has devised eternally established standards for male-female marriage and family. Communists today, in places like People’s World, at the website of Communist Party USA, and even in once militantly anti-gay places like Castro’s Cuba, are embracing same-sex marriage as the long-awaited vehicle they’ve sought for centuries to reshape, redefine, and take down natural-traditional-biblical marriage—and to attack religion and religious believers. They are beside themselves in a mix of befuddlement and joy to see the mainstream culture finally with them, at long last, in one of their numerous efforts to redefine family and marriage.

This is not say, of course, that you’ll find support for same-sex marriage in the writings of Marx and Engels. Please. Don’t be silly. No group of radicals ever in the 2,000-year sweep of the Judeo-Christian West ever contemplated that. The mere fleeting contemplation, the mere momentary notion, the slightest passing fancy of a man legally marrying another man (with widespread cultural acceptance) in the 1850s or 1950s, or as recently as the 1980s or 1990s, would have been scoffed at as inanely incomprehensible.

Marx and Engels’ Hatred for Family

Nonetheless, along the road that prodded civilization toward this historically extreme spot, some influential forces emerged on the far Left that cannot and should not be ignored. Among certain elements was a pronounced sexual radicalism that arguably helped surface the road, or at least broke the ground. One such element was the neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School, which had an especially strong impact upon American universities, particularly in the 1960s.

‘Blessed is he who has no family,’ Marx wrote to Engels.

But that would come later, a century after Marx and Engels. For this article, let’s stick with Marx and Engels. I cannot here reiterate what requires many pages to detail, but, in short, Marx and Engels were no great fans of marriage and family. “Blessed is he who has no family,” Marx wrote to Engels, where he was at best joking (funny, eh?).

Their final semi-partnership was an 1884 book published by Engels a year after Marx’s death. Titled, “The Origin of the Family,” Engels in the preface makes clear that the book reflected Marx’s views. Engels there stated that Marx had wanted to undertake this particularly important work and had produced extensive extracts up until his death, which Engels had reproduced in the book “as far as possible.” In fact, many of the ideas in “The Origin of the Family” can be found in the first joint work by Marx and Engels, “The German Ideology,” which was not published during their lifetimes. Scholars of the work are certain that “The Origin of the Family” was essentially a joint work of the two founders of Marxism, one scholar calling it “an impressive unity and continuity over four decades in the basic outlines of their thoughts.”

There, and elsewhere, we see, among other things, a fanatical push to abolish all right of inheritance, to end home and religious education, to dissolve monogamy in marriage, to pursue pre- and extra-marital sex, to foster and “tolerate” (as Engels put it) the “gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse” by unmarried women, to nationalize all housework, to shift mothers into factories, to move children into daycare nurseries, to separate children into community collectives apart from their natural parents, and, most of all, for society and the state to rear and educate children.

As Engels envisioned, “the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not.”

Communists’ Ten-Point Plan for Erasing Families

Some of these ideas were already emerging in “The Communist Manifesto.” There, Marx and Engels included a shocking but telling 10-point plan for their new ideal of humanity. Here it is, in direct quotation:

  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of all property of emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal obligation of all to work….
  9. … gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools…

That is what The Communist Manifesto really says, and, worse, desired for not one country but the whole world. It is a prescription, obviously, for despotism, as Marx himself conceded, prefacing his ten points: “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.”

Marxism was not hijacked by despots; Marxism demanded despots. Only a fool would not instantly, intuitively realize that implementing this vision would necessarily generate mass bloodshed. This is why, I imagine, most Marxist professors dare not have students read “The Communist Manifesto.” Their students tell me all the time: “‘The Communist Manifesto’ is actually a pretty good book with good ideas if you simply take the time to read it.” My response: “Really, have you read it? I have.” That response always elicits a blank stare.

But back to the point on marriage and family. Note that severalof these ten points in the Marx-Engels plan would directly impact the family. Look at points one, two, three, nine, and ten. Among them, just a few highlights and comments.

How Communism Destroys Families

Note the call in point three to terminate “all right of inheritance.” Marx and Engels saw inheritance as a menace that perpetuated the role of traditional family. How could a classless society guarantee equality of income when some persons at birth were unjustly handed more income from their parents than others?

How could a classless society guarantee equality of income when some persons at birth were unjustly handed more income from their parents than others?

This is ironic, given that both Marx and Engels existed and operated off Engels’ inheritance, which subsidized their work, especially after Marx sucked as much money as he could from his own financially drained parents, who were very bitter at how he exploited them. Marx’s relationship to his parents was plainly parasitic. Marx’s mom openly expressed the wish that Karl stop writing about capital and start accumulating some of it for him and his family. Nonetheless, there was their recommendation: abolish all right of inheritance.

Of course, inheritance was about private property, which Marx and Engels despised. In fact the central goal of “The Communist Manifesto” is just that. The authors summed up: “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

Point nine in the ten-point plan of Marx and Engels called for “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.” This obviously and painfully affected families. For Communist regimes in nations like Cambodia, this “gradual abolition” took the form of immediate overnight mass deportations at the tip of automatic rifles, a sickeningly drastic action that was vividly captured in the 1984 film “The Killing Fields.”

Separate Children and Parents

Another who took this advice to extremes was Leonid Sabsovich, the leading Soviet urban planner under Lenin and Stalin. In a series of influential writings published by the Kremlin in the late 1920s, Sabsovich argued for a total separation of children from parents starting in the earliest years of child development. Sabsovich excoriated those who disagreed. Those who found his suggestion of full child-parent separation unnatural and unwelcome were unprogressive cretins “soaked in petit bourgeois and ‘intelligentsia-like’ prejudices.” They were bigots. Likewise befitting a diehard leftist, he advocated absolute state power to steamroll those in his way.

Leonid Sabsovich argued for a total separation of children from parents starting in the earliest years of child development.

Sabsovich insisted that because the child should be and was the property of the state, rather than the family, the state had the right to compel parents to turn over their offspring to specially designed “children’s towns.” These towns needed to be built “at a distance from the family.” Such extreme family proposals by this urban communist would be incorporated within his plans for creating the ideal “socialist city.”

Finally, and briefly, look at point ten in the grand plan of Marx and Engels: They wanted “free education” for every child in “public schools.” No more of what they denounced as the “hallowed correlation of parent and child” and “bourgeois claptrap about the family and education.” Overall, stated Marx and Engels, “The communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” Yes, no wonder.

Among those ideas, at the epicenter, was natural, traditional, biblical family and marriage. It had to be targeted. Alas, only now, two centuries later, is it finally being redefined. In perhaps the most radical rapture of all, those pushing the redefinition are not crackpot German atheistic philosophers in European cafes but everyday mainstream Americans, Mr. and Mrs. Mainstreet.

What they are not only advocating but vigorously and often militantly pushing is the most radical rupture of traditional relations of all—so radical that Marx and Engels would be dumbfounded at the mere thought of where America and the West stand today on same-sex marriage. We are breaking entirely new ground in the long, long sweep of human history, and the groundbreakers act as if it is no big deal whatsoever; to the contrary, they portray those against gay marriage as the extremists, and, of course, as the “hatemongers.”

This is an especially exciting time for extreme leftists. They are no doubt dizzied by their success and, even more so, by their unexpected allies in the mainstream culture. They are genuinely transforming human nature. And they are doing it with the unwitting support of a huge swath of oblivious citizens. It has been a long time coming.

Ending Tax Exemptions Means Ending Churches [The Federalist]

Mark Oppenheimer of The New York Times is now calling for the government to remove tax-exempt status from churches. After I posted a link to his article on Facebook, a pastor friend commented: “I’m not sure our small church could survive.” That, my friends, is the point. And Oppenheimer knows it.

Legal gay marriage is not the endgame for the gay-rights movement. It never was. Moral approval is the endgame. The agenda is not tolerance for different beliefs and lifestyles. The agenda is a demand that everyone get on board with the moral revolution or be punished. That means if you or your church won’t get with the program, then the revolutionaries will endeavor to close you down.

But they aren’t going to say,”We’ll close you down,” in so many words. They will cover it in propaganda that conceals their real aim. They’ll say, as Oppenheimer does, that taxpayers are “subsidizing” churches, that ministers make fat-cat six-figure salaries, and that government should get those rich priests and preachers off the government dole.

Never mind that the average base salary of a full-time senior pastor ranges from $33,000 to $70,000 (source). Never mind that ministers do pay income taxes. Never mind that it is absurd to suggest not paying taxes is a subsidy. Never mind that exemptions do function to keep church and state out of one another’s business. That doesn’t fit the fictional narrative activists wish to advance—that these churches don’t deserve to have their “subsidy” continued in light of their intolerable views on sexuality.

The real intent of removing tax-exempt status is to cripple the institutions that continue their dissent from the sexual revolution.

No, the real intent of removing tax-exempt status is to cripple the institutions that continue their dissent from the sexual revolution. When tax exemptions are removed, donors will give far less than they are giving now. Churches will become liable to property taxes. That means that many churches will have to forfeit their property to the government because they won’t be able to afford the taxes they have to pay on it. Many of them wouldn’t be able to pay them now. If donations went down, they would be that much further from being able to pay them. As a result, churches that reside on valuable properties in urban locations would be immediately vulnerable. Eventually, so would everyone else.

Oppenheimer knows this. That is why he argues that if churches can’t raise the money for their new tax burden, then they don’t deserve to retain their property. After all, he argues, the government would do a better job than churches at meeting the needs of their community. He concludes, “So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions… When that day comes, it will be long overdue.”

A call for ending tax exemptions for religious institutions is a call to close them down—or at least to plunder them of their property.

So let’s put aside the propaganda and say clearly what Oppenheimer is calling for. A call for ending tax exemptions for religious institutions is a call to close them down—or at least to plunder them of their property. That is what is going on here. Think of the irreparable harm that would follow if and when these many small churches are effectively forced to close their doors—harm that will come not only to these ministers and parishioners themselves, but also to the poor and vulnerable: lost foster-care services, tutoring of teens, material and spiritual relief for the poor, and character development, often in the places it is needed most.

I am wondering if the average gay-marriage supporter flying the rainbow on his or her Facebook profile knew he or she was signing-up for this when agreeing to support gay marriage? I doubt it. Surely we can come up with more sensible ways for people of good will to hold their differing views—ways that don’t involve annihilating one another. Oppenheimer’s suggestion is not an encouraging sign. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

When some of us warned of the religious-liberty implications of making gay marriage a fundamental constitutional right, we were told that such things would never happen. What they really meant was, “That will never happen, but when it does you Christians will deserve it.” Oppenheimer is making the case for why he thinks we deserve it.

Oppenheimer says the Supreme Court has now “settled” the issue. Hardly. This is far from over.

Jimmy Carter Tries To Rewrite Israel’s History [The Federalist]

Jimmy Carter’s new book, “A Full Life: Reflections at 90” is a breezy and predictable reminiscence of the 39th president’s life, from his rural Georgia upbringing to his post-presidential charitable work. You should take it out of the library. I can’t admit to reading every word, but I did have a particular interest in the parts focusing on Carter’s perception of his own presidency. And, as you might have guessed, according to Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter is one of the dynamic and indispensable leaders this country has ever known.

One chapter that might catch the attention of a curious reader is titled “Issues Mostly Resolved.” So what issues were solved during the Jimmy Carter years? Well, “Human Rights and Latin America,” “The Hostage Crisis, and the Final Year,” “Hungarian Crown,” “China,” and yes, “Middle East Peace.”  Good to know that he put that one to bed.

Carter claims that during his 1976 campaign, many voters were seeking assurances about his good will towards Israel. It’s then, says Carter, that he “became increasingly interested in bringing permanent peace to Israel and its neighbors.” The subsequent subchapter not only offers an absurd framing of the Middle East conflict in the late 70s, but it’s built upon a complete myth. Carter claims to have single handily convinced a reluctant and fascistic Menachem Begin to come to terms with kind-hearted and amenable Anwar Sadat. It took that Carter personal touch.

One weekend when our family was enjoying Camp David, Rosalynn suggested that this would be an ideal place for negotiating teams to benefit from the privacy and quiet atmosphere. I agreed with her and sent handwritten invitations to Begin and Sadat in August 1978 to join me for comprehensive peace talks. They both accepted.

Carter expediently skips one historic event that puts his handwritten notes into some perspective.

In 1977, during an interview with CBS, Sadat mentioned that if he were ever presented with a proper invitation from Jerusalem he would visit without any preconditions. This was, in the context of history,  a courageous thing to do. At a time when no Arab country had diplomatic ties with Israel much less recognized its existence. Begin—who Carter’s paints as a warmonger—immediately presented Sadat with a formal invitation to address the Knesset through the American Embassy in Cairo. The Knesset—with only a handful of opposition votes—overwhelmingly approved the invitation. The Carter Administration had nothing to do with it.

Here is what The Washington Post had to say at the time:

In Washington, the Carter administration, which until today had played no role in helping arrange what had been an almost unthinkable meeting, appeared to be dramatically revising upward its opinion of the event’s importance.

The peace deal fell into Jimmy Carter’s lap. The United States provided the financial backing to make the arrangement possible, but the idea that Carter precipitated the peace is preposterous. Since he left office, Carter has given his own backing to all brands of terrorist, dictator and  tyranny. It is one of the most embarrassing post presidencies in American history. Concocting a legacy that isn’t won’t help.

Gay Marriage Is Here – Now What? [The Federalist]

Reactions from Newt Gingrich, Mike Lee, Ilya Shapiro, Heather Wilhelm, Hunter Baker, Eric Teetsel, Robby Soave, John Davidson, Rachel Lu, D.C. McAllister, Leslie Loftis, Amy Otto, Daniel Payne, and Benjamin Domenech.

Hunter Baker


The Supreme Court has now ruled on gay marriage. They have proved zealous in their protection of a particular view of liberty. I can only pray that they will now prove equally zealous in protecting the religious liberty that will likely be severely endangered in consequence. As I looked for glimmers of hope in the majority opinion, this passage stood out to me:

“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

As I read the majority opinion, it seemed that Justice Kennedy veered away from his earlier practice of describing opposition to gay marriage as some kind of pure product of irrationality and hatred. Though it didn’t change the result, I think this opinion accorded more respect to those who wish to preserve the traditional (and extraordinarily predominant) male-female view of marriage.

I also take some solace in the fact that the opinion was 5-4 with the chief justice in dissent. He has been raked over the coals as some kind of fake conservative. Whatever one might say about him, he took his stand on maybe the biggest decision since Roe v. Wade. He flatly stated something that has all have needed to hear during the last decade: “And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational.”

The war over gay marriage appears to have been won. What remains is to see how far the consequences extend. I hope that Christian institutions will retain their convictions and that they will be permitted to continue to participate on an equal footing in American society. Liberal nostrums about the value of dissent are likely to be much tested in coming years.

Hunter Baker, JD, PhD, is an associate provost at Union University and author, most recently, of The System Has a Soul.

John Daniel Davidson


It is a happy coincidence that the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage comes on the heels of a hysterical outburst on the Left against displays of the Confederate flag and commemorations of the Confederacy across the country. What began Monday with the proposed removal of the flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina, has quickly morphed into a general outcry of depictions of the flag anywhere—even in video games about the Battle of Gettysburg—and a general call by liberals for eradicating or renaming Confederate memorials, statues, street names, school names, and other reminders of the suddenly-hated Confederacy.

The gay marriage debate is not about gay marriage any more than the Confederate flag debate is about racism.

Two weeks ago, the college students now protesting statues of Jefferson Davis on campuses across the south likely had no idea who the man was. But now, suddenly, an offensive statue is of utmost concern. Likewise, this week the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington DC, announced the removal of stained -lass windows honoring the lives and legacies of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Both windows display the image of the Confederate battle flag and hence are anathema to the dean and all decent people. Yet by the dean’s own admission he only learned of the offensive windows’ existence a few days ago. The windows have been there since 1953.

One could not ask for a better exposition of the motivations of Left than this urge to destroy Confederate symbols. It was not enough to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, just as it is no doubt no longer acceptable to hold the view that, yes, the Civil War was about slavery but it was also about a great many other things, and that we should preserve Confederate memorials not only to learn about history but to honor the valor and sacrifice of many thousands of southerners who died in battle. So much for all of that.

It is not hard to see where this is going. The gay marriage debate is not about gay marriage any more than the Confederate flag debate is about racism. It is about free speech. The court’s ruling on gay marriage announces that in due course the First Amendment is to be sacrificed on the altar of the Fourteenth Amendment. Prior to this ruling, bakers and wedding photographers had already suffered fines and the threat of imprisonment for refusing to serve gay customers. Brendan Eich was among the first high-profile CEOs fired for his views on gay marriage, but he will not be the last. Eventually, churches and religious nonprofits will have their tax status threatened if they do not accommodate the new consensus on gay marriage.

It is not enough for the Left to live and let live. You must change your mind.

It is not enough for the Left to live and let live. You must change your mind. You must not hold disfavored views. You must be the right sort of person. If you’re not, you will be muzzled.

A few years back, the late Cardinal George of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, who died in April, said this: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”

John Davidson is a Senior Contributor to The Federalist.

Benjamin Domenech


The arrival of gay marriage is remarkable in the United States for a number of reasons. It has come faster than anyone, even many of its proponents, expected thanks to a complete and total acceptance of the moral imperative of this cause by our cultural and political elite; it has come without a full working over of the consequences of same sex unions in the context of how they impact freedom of speech, religion, and association; and it has come largely, and disappointingly, through unrepresentative and meandering rulings of the courts. This last one reached its apex with Anthony Kennedy’s bizarre “due process + equal protection = I get what I want” ruling from the Supreme Court.

On an issue that is this divisive, and takes on this much importance, it is essential that a Supreme Court decision offer a serious legal reasoning of why our constitutional understanding of liberty includes the right to marry who you wish, and why there is no compelling interest for government to prevent such unions. It is particularly important that this reasoning be strong and well-defended given that wide pluralities of Americans, even as they support gay marriage, thought the court should not declare it as a constitutional right.

Unfortunately, Kennedy wrote no such thing, instead offering little more than a mushy love letter to the idea of gay marriage. As Peter Lawler notes, his decision includes such anti-libertarian lines as “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there”. The accurate word for this is “piffle”, an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” justification for same sex unions. Many legal minds, conservative and libertarian alike, are expressing the view today of “good result, terrible reasoning”, and they are right. It would have been much better if Justice Kennedy had just quoted from the entirety of Ilya Shapiro’s Obergefell v. Hodges amicus brief, and written at the end: “This!”

The due process argument for gay marriage has always struck me as very weak, much weaker than the equal protection argument, a position Ilya Somin shares, and the weakness of the former is highlighted repeatedly in Justice Thomas’s critique. But of course those who have strongly advocated for the institution of gay marriage by any means necessary care little how the court arrived at the decision, so long as it was the right decision.

The problem with gay marriage is not gay marriage. People of the same sex getting married will not destroy America. But it will impact America in serious ways that have ramifications for people well outside the scope of these unions – and not just the baker, photographer, florist or gazebo owner who have been highlighted to this point as the victims of overly litigious bureaucrats seeking bigots to destroy. The consequences of this decision will most rapidly be felt by religious schools and non-profits, as those who once fought for civil liberties for all will turn on those whose liberties they find to be inconvenient. Already the ACLU has announced they will no longer defend federal religious freedom laws they once fought for vociferously, because they now believe the freedom to practice one’s religion amounts to nothing more than a freedom to discriminate.

In such context, there is a very pressing need for all who believe in civil and religious liberty, despite their disagreements about marriage, to unite against the civil liberty hypocrites and the cultural and corporate elite in defense of our First Amendment freedoms. Gay marriage does not require the use and abuse of government power to trample our right to speak, associate, and practice our religion, but the aims of the secular left and the victim-hunting social justice warriors do require such overreach. These rights are essential. They are what makes us America. And they deserve defending by all who believe in the freedom to think, associate, speak, and believe.

Benjamin Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist.

Newt Gingrich


The Supreme Court decision on marriage opens up two new fronts of conflict and confusion. Its lack of clarity almost guarantees that problems Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas identify will emerge as new centers of conflict. Furthermore these new fights will almost certainly advance causes less widely supported than is the cause of same-sex marriage.

There are now no limiting principles to the establishment of new legal relationships and rights across a wide range of behaviors.

First, as Roberts warns, there are now no limiting principles to the establishment of new legal relationships and rights across a wide range of behaviors. He specifically notes polygamy as the next opportunity. If God and tradition no longer define anything, the Constitution is what five lawyers say it is, and man now places self-will ahead of obedience to any deity except ego, what are the limits in this ruling and how are we going to define them?

Second, the majority’s one-paragraph reference to religious liberty is either intentionally dishonest or a specific invitation to resume the fight on the front of religious freedom. It is almost certainly a deliberate and elitist lie thrown in as a shallow sop to the vast majority of Americans who believe this country was founded on the principle of worshipping God and having religious freedom. We can, however, test the majority’s commitment to religious liberty. If religious liberty means anything, it can’t just be the ability to speak, advocate, or “teach.” It has also to involve the opportunity to live out one’s religion, “the free exercise thereof,” as the First Amendment puts it. The very essence of a religion is the ability to define itself as separate from other ways of life (a recurring theme in both the Old and New Testaments).

To take one example, the Catholic Church should immediately file to reopen its adoption centers and other social-service institutions in Massachusetts and DC to test the sincerity of the Supreme Court’s majority. I suspect we will discover how deeply today’s majority is lying. But wouldn’t it be amazing if it actually upheld religious liberty in action as well as words?

No one should think today’s ruling ends anything. It just shifts the field of conflict.

Newt Gingrich is a former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mike Lee


If five judges on the Supreme Court have pronounced, in a breathtaking presumption of power, that all 50 states must redefine marriage, what does that mean for the countless institutions within our civil society—churches and synagogues, charities and adoption agencies, counseling services and religiously affiliated schools—that are made up of American citizens who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman?

The right to form and to follow one’s religious beliefs is the bedrock of human dignity and liberty that must be forcefully defended from undue government interference.

Will federal agencies follow the heavy-handed approach taken by the present majority of Supreme Court justices—say, by revoking the non-profit, tax-exempt status of faith-based schools that continue to operate on the basis of their religious beliefs about marriage? Nowhere in the majority’s 28-page opinion will you find a reliable answer to these questions. In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts explains why.

“Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights,” Roberts writes, because “they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right.”

It’s true that Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, acknowledges—as if in passing—that “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths,” including their conviction that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

But this may prove to be little consolation for those who have conscientious objections to the redefinition of marriage. For the remainder of Kennedy’s opinion, like much of today’s jurisprudence, is based on the pretension that the role of judges is not merely to resolve cases and controversies in the law, but to apply their own “reasoned judgment” to define for each successive generation the “nature of injustice” and divine the “meaning” of liberty.

That’s why I recently introduced a bill, with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in the House, called “The First Amendment Defense Act” that would prevent any agency from denying a federal tax exemption, grant, contract, accreditation, license, or certification to an individual or institution for acting on their religious belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

In light of today’s Supreme Court decision, Congress must move swiftly to pass “The First Amendment Defense Act” and clarify in federal law what five justices left ambiguous in their legal opinion: that the right to form and to follow one’s religious beliefs is the bedrock of human dignity and liberty that must be forcefully defended from undue government interference.

Mike Lee is a U.S. senator from Utah.

Leslie Loftis


Lost in all the celebration about marriage equality are the problems to come from how this right was sought and realized. By bypassing the state and federal structure of our nation, the current winners have exposed us all to tyranny of the majority. That might seem a ridiculous statement now, but the types of people who put policy before principles often naively assume that their policies will always be most popular. They do not anticipate a future when legal shortcuts will be used against them.

The types of people who put policy before principles often naively assume that their policies will always be most popular.

Only when they find themselves on the wrong side of popular dictates will they realize that this Supreme Court will not offer protection. In the space of a day, Chief Justice Roberts went from devoting an entire section of an opinion to rewrite “inartful” drafting by Congress to declaring “[b]ut this Court is not a legislature.” I don’t know which concerns me more: his willingness to draft legislation or the fact that he doesn’t seem aware of his inconsistent reasoning. In stark contrast, I can read a mere half dozen cases from Justice Thomas and figure out how he would likely rule. He applies legal principles. To begin to guess how the chief might rule, I would have to know him well enough to anticipate his personal quirks and preferences.

We can continue to assume, as many court watchers did after his 2012 “it’s a tax, not a mandate” opinion, that the chief justice is playing some long jurisprudential strategy. Perhaps, although the purpose is so well concealed that I suspect either we imagine it or he is over-engineering it. Either way, we can no longer rest on hope and half measures. If we would preserve the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution, we need to fortify it. Congress does as it pleases, using muddy procedures and language to win public favor while the Supreme Court plays along, bowing to the demands of the loudest chorus. We only have one avenue of recourse left.

Professor Randy E. Barnett outlined this course in 2009 when the Supreme Court’s shrinking from its duty was still mostly confined to Commerce Clause jurisprudence. (The linked version of the Bill of Federalism is outdated. The current version appears in the second edition of Barnett’s “Restoring the Lost Constitution.”) It seemed drastic then. It is a last refuge now.

It takes two-thirds, or 33, of the state legislatures to call a constitutional convention. This would not be a partisan initiative, although Republicans are more likely to be concerned about constitutional protections at this time. By my count, Republicans control 32 state legislatures with four split bodies. The time for amending the constitution by convention has probably never been so possible, or so pressing.

Leslie Loftis is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Rachel Lu


As a longtime defender of traditional marriage, I’m supposed to take a day of mourning before moving forward. Actually, though, I’m feeling fairly chipper after hearing the ruling. To be clear, the decision was a complete travesty. We’ve just seen America’s cultural 1 percent impose its understanding of marriage unilaterally on a nation that is still deeply divided on this important question. The result will not be “inclusion,” but rather the dictatorial exclusion of a major part of our cultural and legal heritage, along with the cherished beliefs and values of a substantial portion of our citizenry, from the democratic process. Clearly, this is nothing to celebrate.

It’s actually something of a blessing that the democratic illegitimacy of the Obergefell decision is so painfully obvious.

But this train wreck has been foreseeable for long, long time now. And even though state-level initiatives are actually the appropriate means of settling such matters, the reality is that that game was also effectively rigged according to Progressive assumptions. Any victory for same-sex marriage is viewed as settled law. Defeat is taken as an “ask again later.” What good can be accomplished under such conditions, through any branch of government?

What we needed was a new chapter. This decision could be that page-turning, and in that sense it’s actually something of a blessing that the democratic illegitimacy of the Obergefell decision is so painfully obvious. We’ve just watched the Left triumph in the most important two battles of its recent history, but despite that, it’s exhausted, demoralized, and increasingly throwing itself into screwball “causes” like railing against the Confederate flag. If conservatives could show some leadership and vision at this precarious moment, the next chapter might be more upbeat than the one we’ve just finished.

Rachel Lu is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

D.C. McAllister


The Supreme Court seems to hate children. First, in Roe v. Wade, it took away a child’s right to life in favor of the convenience of an adult. Now, it has taken away a child’s right to a biological mother and father, favoring fleeting sentimentality over a child’s established, inherent needs. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has said children don’t need their mom and dad. The ephemeral interests of adults are more important than the rights of children. We have entered a brave new world.

Those who value the traditional family and care about children must work to protect them by strengthening families.

So, where do we go from here? The only place we can go—back home. We fight for marital restoration and family renewal. Those who value the traditional family and care about children must work to protect them by strengthening families. This will involve personal reformation as husbands and wives work at maintaining healthy, stable, and committed relationships, thereby reducing the number of divorces that plague our society. It will require parents being more responsible for their children’s education and development instead of turning them over to the state. And it will involve compassionate individuals banding together at the local level to meet the needs of children who will inevitably suffer the consequences of being intentionally and permanently denied an intimate and meaningful relationship with their father or mother—a cruelty that must be exposed for the abusive neglect it is.

While it is no one’s business who loves another person or what they do in the bedroom, it is the business of society to protect the weakest among us—children. When parents and the government purposely deprive children of their most basic rights, it’s the responsibility of every loving and compassionate human being to fight for them, politically and legally, and to care for them in real, personal, and life-changing ways.

D.C. McAllister is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Amy Otto


Change is hard no matter whether it’s perceived as positive or negative. Depending on where they are on the path to accepting a change, people manage it differently. A change people perceive as negative can shift people through immobilization, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance.

Otto1

For folks who see the Supreme Court’s gay marriage law change as positive—and it appears a majority of Americans embrace it—change still has its phases, and folks who are positive today can shift into a negative mindset and back again.

Otto2

Why would any of this matter? Well, the dramatic shift this country just undertook to go from considering gay marriage a fringe issue to the expected outcome Friday is unprecedented. Cultural shifts that change the very way we think about a core institution like marriage do not come around very often. Chief Justice Roberts’s dissent is worth reading again to understand just how large of a shift this is for society.

To that point, we are a country of people, and people are typically not change-agent experts. Change is hard even if it’s for a better outcome. While today’s outcome is a blessing for those who want to see the institution of marriage extended to loving gay couples, those who see it negatively aren’t thinking of the potential happy couples. They are thinking of the warnings in Robert’s, Scalia, and Thomas’s dissent about what this means for religious freedom, the ability to have a different belief on this topic and still be allowed in the public square, and the inevitable witch-hunts to come from activists who wield #lovewins as a cudgel, not a creed.

An outrage-thirsty media can now in all 50 states mock small business owners and other folks still processing what this means for a belief that was held without question for hundreds of years. More change is coming, and the question is, how fast can people change without destroying something that was meant to be preserved? I suspect many are immobilized by the fear that what they hold dear cannot withstand the march of time. Others happy that their close gay and lesbian friends can marry might waver, wishing this change could have happened with surgical precision that would have enabled a more rapid adoption in everyone’s hearts. It’s time to think about what must be saved and protected while accepting that change has come.

Amy Otto is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Daniel Payne


I see two problems with the pro-gay marriage argument, and the SCOTUS ruling gives us a chance to see if and how they will play out in practice. The first problem is that, over the past half-century, virtually every one of the Left’s opinions and activist efforts regarding marriage and family have proven to be disastrous for both marriages and families. Loosening welfare standards, glorifying single parenthood, a near-ubiquitous culture of contraception, abortion-on-demand—all of these things have been the Left’s hobby-horses and all of them have had, overall, a profoundly negative impact upon the building block of our society, the family unit.

Virtually every one of the Left’s opinions and activist efforts regarding marriage and family have proven to be disastrous for both marriages and families.

Progressives do not have the courage to admit that they were wrong in the past or that they may be wrong again, which is why they’ve been so enthusiastic about gay marriage over the past decade. This is not to say that gay marriage will have the same effect on the family as the Left’s other efforts. But it is to say that progressives have been wrong in just about every way they can be regarding marriage itself, and that it is a distinctly likely possibility that the gay marriage regime will have a similar effect, and that the family will suffer for it.

The second problem is not so much speculative as reflective: it is all but certain that, with the legalization of gay marriage, the by-now-regular assault on religious liberties will continue, probably at a faster rate. Lawsuits against bakers, wedding chapels, photographers and other service providers will likely explode, and the effort will almost certainly grow to encompass religious institutions themselves: Catholic churches, conservative Protestant denominations, the temples of Orthodox Judaism (surely they’ll leave Islam alone out of a sense of politically correct propriety). This decision is being hailed as a great victory for freedom, but—as is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention—the court’s decision yesterday will almost surely result in a net loss of American liberty, and overall America will be worse off for it.

Daniel Payne is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Ilya Shapiro


Just because today’s opinion was expected by nearly everyone doesn’t make it any less momentous. In sometimes-soaring rhetoric Kennedy explains that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of both substantive liberty and equality means there is no further valid reason to deny this particular institution, the benefit of these particular laws, to gay and lesbian couples. Okay, fair enough: there’s a constitutional right for gay and lesbian couples to get marriage licenses—at least so long as everyone else gets them. (We’ll set aside the question of why the government is involved in marriage in the first place for a later time.)

What about people who disagree, in good faith, with no ill intent towards gay people?

But where do we go from here? What about people who disagree, in good faith, with no ill intent towards gay people? Will ministers, to the extent they play a dual role in ratifying marriage licenses, have to officiate big gay weddings? Will bakers and photographers have to work them? What about employment-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation—most states lack them, but are they now required? And what about tax-exempt status for religious schools, the issue that came up during oral argument?

It’s unclear to be honest—much depends on whether Anthony Kennedy remains on the court to answer these thorny questions in his own hand-waving way—but all of these examples, including marriage licensing itself, show the folly inherent in government insinuation in places into the sea of liberty upon which we’re supposed to sail our ship of life. (Justice Kennedy, you can use that one next time; no need even to cite me.)

If government didn’t get involved in regulating private relationships between consenting adults—whether sexual, economic, political, athletic, educational, or anything else—we wouldn’t be in that second-best world of adjudicating competing rights claims. If we maintained that broad public non-governmental sphere, as distinct from both the private home and state action, then we could let a thousand flowers bloom and each person would be free to choose a little platoon with which to associate.

But the extent to which we live in that world is decreasing at a horrendous pace, and so we’re forced to fight for carve-outs of liberty amidst the sea of mandates, regulations, and other authoritarian “nudges.”

In any event, good for the court today—and I echo Justice Kennedy’s hope that both sides will now respect each other’s liberties and the rule of law. But I stand ready to defend anybody’s right to offend or otherwise live his or her life (or run his or her business) in ways I might not approve.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review at The Cato Institute.

Robby Soave


As an unabashed supporter of marriage equality, I am both delighted by the outcome in Obergefell v. Hodges and baffled by the unsound legal reasoning the Supreme Court employed. Neither Justice Kennedy’s majority decision, nor any of the four dissents, puts forth a compelling constitutional case for or against same-sex marriage. (For more on this, the Cato Institute’s Timothy Sandefur closely articulates my views on the subject.) Nevertheless, one way or another, the LGBT movement has triumphed in the highest court in the land as well as the court of public opinion, and this libertarian is thrilled that same-sex couples can now enjoy the same special benefits that opposite-sex couples do. This is the express purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment: to protect minorities from state-sponsored discrimination.

Speaking of social tolerance, to liberals, I say this: give it a try, sometime.

Three things. First, to conservatives who oppose gay marriage, I say this: It’s over. You lost. Please, resist the urge to die on this hill. I understand the temptation to treat the Obergefell ruling as merely another battle in the culture wars—like Roe v. Wade was—but continuing to advocate against marriage equality risks permanently alienating the under-30 crowd. Millennials are more entrepreneurial and less loyal to the Democratic Party than most people think. Republicans—particularly libertarian-leaning Republicans—can reach them, but only if the party preaches both economic opportunity and social tolerance.

Speaking of social tolerance, to liberals, I say this: give it a try, sometime. The best way to convince social conservatives that gay marriage will not destroy the very fabric of society is to demonstrate to them that gay marriage is perfectly healthy and benign. In other words, don’t humiliate them, boycott their states, shun their businesses, and petition the government to compel them to violate their beliefs. Too many progressives move from accept this to accept this or die in the span of about five seconds. (An example: just a few days ago, virtually all informed commentators were in agreement about removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol; today, Civil War-themed board games are being purged from stores to comply with the latest PC dictates.)

To my fellow libertarians, I wish only to remind them that this is as much their victory as it is anyone else’s. The Cato Institute has supported marriage equality for much longer than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Robby Soave is a staff editor at Reason.

Eric Teetsel


Two years to the day after ruling against the federal Defense of Marriage Act while waxing eloquent about the right of states to determine their own marriage policy, Justice Kennedy ruled that actually all fifty states are legally required to sanction same-sex marriages. The decision brings an end to the democratic processes through which proponents of same-sex marriage were swiftly gaining ground, abruptly closing one chapter in the culture wars and setting the scene for the next. Those who understand what marriage is and why it matters now turn their attention to two tasks, one of immediate importance and another that will require slow, steady work for a generation or more.

Proponents of marriage must immediately redouble our efforts to ensure robust legal protections for the expression of beliefs that don’t conform to popular dogmas, especially those of fundamentalist LGBT activists. Their illiberal agenda is clearly seen in the aggressive persecution of business owners, professors, public servants, and nuns who have the audacity to conform their behavior to their religious beliefs. Passing laws such as the recently introduced federal First Amendment Defense Act and state-level Marriage and Religious Freedom Acts is a place to start. However, none of this will be easy. Recent spasms of outrage in response to sensible state-level RFRA laws in Arizona, Indiana and Georgia prove that these activists understand that religious liberty is now the front-line in their sexual revolution.

Our long–term mission is rebuilding a cultural understanding of and appreciation for the purpose and significance of sex, marriage, and family. We, especially Christians, have for too long abdicated our responsibility to educate along these lines. The proliferation of divorce, premarital sex, cohabitation, adultery, out-of-wedlock birth, and abortion are but a few of the consequences that chipped away at the foundation of the family long before same-sex marriage became feasible. In the next generation, we must do as the Manhattan Declaration exhorts to strengthen families:

we must stop glamorizing promiscuity and infidelity and restore among our people a sense of the profound beauty, mystery, and holiness of faithful marital love. We must reform ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce. We must work in the legal, cultural, and religious domains to instill in young people a sound understanding of what marriage is, what it requires, and why it is worth the commitment and sacrifices that faithful spouses make.

As the normalization of the LGBT ideology continues to wreak havoc on the lives of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones in the years to come, those with a clear-eyed understanding of sin and its consequences must be there pointing towards a better way with truth on our lips and love in our hearts. It will not be easy, but to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, in the end we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.

Eric Teetsel is Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration, and the author of the new e-book Marriage Is: How Marriage Transforms Society and Cultivates Human Flourishing.

Heather Wilhelm


First, the good news: Regardless of your views on gay marriage, it’s clear that our nation’s unelected cabal of black robed overlords—ahem, sorry, the Supreme Court—contains at least one verifiable national treasure. Over the past few days, buried in mangled jurisprudence that made him want to “hide” his “head in a bag,” Justice Antonin Scalia managed to coin several enduring catchphrases, including “pure applesauce,” “interpretive jiggery-pokery,” and, my personal favorite, “ask the nearest hippie.”

I’ve long thought the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. A policy of civil unions for gay and straight couples—leaving religious marriage to churches—would go a long way towards preserving both equal rights and religious freedom in America.

That, alas, is not where we landed on Friday. Instead, the government just got bigger, more powerful, more legally capricious, and set the stage for a thicket of legal and cultural messes, the most obvious being the tax-exempt status of churches that disagree. In the wake of the decision, American Airlines, which is perhaps the second-worst airline in the country—bravo, United!—issued the following tweet:

AmericanAirlines

This is great, American, except EVERY SCREEN IS THE SAME, which is not diverse, and I get the strange feeling we’re not allowed to change the channel. Also, we’re stuck in the back, middle seat, and—oh, dear heavens, what on earth is this you’ve given me? Is it supposed to be some kind of casserole?

It’s an excellent metaphor for what happens when government takes control. Big corporations don’t care about freedom; the government cares even less. The more government gets involved in our daily lives, the more micromanagement we’re going to see. It’s a losing scenario for everyone.

This, however, is where I get optimistic. In the short run, we can be gracious and happy for those who can now get married, despite the disastrous “fortune cookie” legal logic—that’s Scalia, of course—that got us here. Meanwhile, we should tirelessly defend the religious liberty of those who dissent.

But in the long run, perhaps this ruling, paired with its inevitable, messy consequences, will remind people that more government almost always equals more problems. Both sides of the political aisle need this reminder, by the way. It’s how we got into this mess in the first place.

Just ask the nearest hippie.

Heather Wilhelm is a senior contributor to The Federalist.


Russell Moore

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage is not surprising, but it is indeed moral and historical disaster. The Court has both created a generation’s worth of confusion about the purpose and nature of marriage and left the well-being of children subject to the sexual autonomy of adults.

As a Christian, I believe marriage is about more than just a social arrangement, but points beyond itself to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:32). I also believe that marriage is embedded by God in the created order in the interests of the common good. That’s why I hope we can turn back from this move toward laissez-faire sexuality. But regardless of the culture, the church’s witness stands. Marriage is not a government program and it can’t be re-engineered by government decree or by the swings of public opinion. Our quiet confidence is in the Gospel, not Gallup.

We have been here before. For over 40 years, the pro-life movement in this country has overwhelmingly modeled what compassionate, counter-cultural, and quietly confident public engagement should look like. Even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Roe v Wade, courageous public voices came forward to challenge popular opinion and advocate for human dignity, not just in rhetoric but in radical acts of mercy in their congregations and communities. Pro-life churches that don’t just preach pro-life as a political talking point but as a spiritual reality offer us who are in the aftermath of marriage confusion much to emulate.

The pro-life movement gives us an encouragement and a warning. The warning is that political victory does not equal cultural persuasion. It is possible to win the White House but lose the neighborhood. Forgetting the Gospel of the Kingdom to focus on electing the right leader is a recipe for Gospel unfaithfulness and cultural uselessness regardless of whose names are on which doors in Washington D.C.

But our encouragement is that the risen Jesus Christ is still making all things new. The pro-life movement has seen remarkable legal and social progress over the last 40 years. Though we are far from where we need to be, we ought to be thankful that we are not where we once were or could be. Let’s learn from the pro-life movement how to be convictionally kind, how to be quietly confident, how to be engaged exiles as we move onward.

Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

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This New America [Whatever]

I was in the airport last Friday when the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage came down, and one of the first thoughts I had on that was, “Looks like I picked the right week to go to San Francisco.” And you know what? I was right! The city was, verily, bedecked in rainbow flags and happiness. After my events at ALA on Saturday I went with friends to City Hall, where the pride celebration was in full swing, and watched people being happy, all over the place (plus occasional hippie nudity, because San Francisco). It’s very rare to be in the right place at the right time, when history is actually and genuinely happening around you. But I was, and I was delighted in the happy circumstance that put me there.

I’m even more delighted that my country is now a better place than it was at 9:59am on June 26, when a minority of states still didn’t allow gays and lesbians the simple, basic right of marrying the person whom they loved and wished to spend their life with. Those days are now gone, thankfully, despite a few pockets of resistance, which I don’t suspect will last very long. Texas, as an example, is a place where the Attorney General is telling county clerks they may defy the Supreme Court; it’s also a place where two octogenarian men, together for more than 50 years, became the first same-sex couple to wed in Dallas County. Who do you think history, and Texas, will celebrate more: The two men confirming their decades-long love to each other, or the government official symbolically standing in front of the courthouse door to oppose their right to confirm that love?

Bluntly: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is going down in history as a bigot. So will Texas’ governor and lieutenant governor. So will Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and all the other politicians (and would-be politicians) who are thumping around now, pretending not to understand what it is that the Supreme Court does, or the legitimacy of its rulings under the Constitution, and pretending that their religion makes that feigned lack of understanding all right. Dan Patrick, the Texas Lieutenant Governor, has said “I would rather be on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of my faith and my beliefs.” Well, Mr. Patrick, you’re not only definitely on the wrong side of history, but you’re also on the wrong side of your professed faith. Jesus never once said “be a bigot in my name.” If you believe He did, you might want to recheck your Bible. That admonition is not there, although the admonition to love your neighbor as yourself is.

On a related topic, this Time magazine article by Rod Dreher on orthodox Christians being “exiles in our own country” struck me as a bit dramatic. Not being in step with the mainstream of American life and opinion does not make you an exile, especially when you suffer no estrangement under the law. When the mainstream of American life did not include the idea that same-sex marriage was a viable thing, which was an opinion different than mine, I was not in exile in my own country — although same-sex couples may have been, as the law estranged them from the rights they should have had under the Constitution, now affirmed by the Supreme Court. The affirmation of those rights did not and does not take away rights from anyone who believes same-sex marriage is wrong. You may still believe they’re wrong; you just can’t stop those couples from getting legally married. Unless you think it should be your right to deprive others of their rights, everything’s the same for you as it was before. And if you do believe it’s your right to deprive others of their rights, then you’re a bigot, whether you cloak it in religion or not.

I suspect that this is the thing Dreher is really worried about, whether he’s aware of it or not — that the perception of certain religious sects will change from them being depositories of rectitude to cisterns of intolerance. Well, this is a fair concern, isn’t it? Over the last twenty years in particular, nearly every American learned that someone they cared about or even loved — a family member, a friend, a co-worker or neighbor or a person they admired — was not straight, or 100% conforming to society’s ideas of gender. Over the last two decades, Americans decided it was more important to tell those people they still loved them and that they deserved the same rights as everyone else, than it was to listen to those people who said, through their words and actions, that these people we loved represented some sort of threat. Your mom is not a threat to America, if she happens to be gay or bisexual. Nor is your dad. Nor your sibling, or your best friend, or Doug from Accounting or Jillian down the street or Ellen DeGeneres. Who are you going to choose to stand with? Your sister, or some dude at a pulpit demanding we believe the bowels of Hell will empty if she marries her girlfriend? Your sister’s girlfriend is awesome! That guy is a jerk!

Which is the thing: the religious sects terrified that they will now lose their moral standing lost that standing long before, when they said, in so many words, in so many actions, that the people we love and know and know to be good, and their desire to have the same rights as everyone else, are what’s wrong with America. Dreher laments we now live in a “post-Christian” America, but he’s wrong. The Americans who are standing with their loved ones and neighbors are in fact doing exactly what Jesus asked them to do, when he said that we should love each other as we love ourselves. It’s possible, however, that we live in a post-accepting-bigotry-cloaking-itself-in-the-raiments-of-Christ America. And, you know. I can live in that America just fine.

Regardless, the America we do live in now lets anyone person marry any other person who they love. I like this America. I am glad I live in it.


The Big Idea: Sam Munson [Whatever]

If I knew nothing else about the book, I would give a thumb up Sam Munson’s novel merely for the title alone: The War Against the Assholes. Fortunately, there’s more to the book than the fabulous title, as Munson explains below.

SAM MUNSON:

What animates The War Against the Assholes philosophically (its author asked, rhetorically and pretentiously)? I am too close to the book to speak with critical authority, here, but I suppose there are two questions or two groups of questions.

Why do clerical, hierarchical ideas of magic dominate our thinking on the subject in literature? From the unfortunate Lucius, protagonist of Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, to the eager students at Hogwarts and Brakebills, we can find a deep-rooted view of magic as governed by learning, by essentially academic ability: mastery of rituals and formulae, penetration into theories of physics and biology, philological skill.  This view — which it is quite reasonable to find so widespread, being, it seems to me, anchored in the real-world history of magic — informs even departures from the trope, where magic that exists outside the ambit of a secret clerisy carries with it a tint of darkness, excites suspicion, and often undoes its practitioners.

As a lifelong poor student and reader of novels of the fantastic, I found this preponderant view fascinating and also provoking. The basic principle of magic, as it has been understood historically and in literature, is the unmediated effectuation of one’s will. It seems psychologically unlikely, to say the least, that defeating the immutable physical laws of the universe would leave one much attached to the reclusive and repetitive tasks scholarship entails.

This is doubly true, it seems to me, in the case of young people, of adolescents – a perennial subject in fantastic works. Here the fidelity of literary magic to historical magic diverges: the magical young appear most often as studious, serious, well-intentioned, and highly moral bearers of a world-shaking imperative (the discovery of which is inseparable from their initiation into magic). The youth of this world, sadly and joyously, are free of such burdens by nature; if they bear them they amount to little more than an affectation. And how could they not? To be young is to be more or less a sociopath, more or less a fragment, more or less nothing; add to this the world-defying power magic by definition brings with it, and the idea of

being at once a young magician and scholarly do-gooder seems like a contradictio in adjecto. I do not want to cite any such figures by name; I do not want to be invidious, here — merely to point out that this is a trope and as such warrants investigation. Why not posit, for example, a theology of magic that rests far more on the ability to harness willpower, irrespective of academic ability? Why not posit a formal theory of magic that does not rest on reliable tools — fetishes or incantations — but rather on the particularities of the magician’s personality? Why would magic, being the effectuation of a will, necessarily be uniform from one practitioner to another?

The magicians who form the narrative core of The War Against the Assholes practice that form of magic — and they and their colleagues suffer massive and violent oppression as a result, albeit oppression totally invisible to larger, non-magical society. Mike Wood, the narrator, is an academic failure, a violent football player; his close colleagues are, for the most part, his equals in animal cunning and suspicion of received authority. Their opponents, the titular assholes, are the academic magicians, servants of authority. This antinomy is of course an oversimplification – compromise, often at a murderous cost, forms another central narrative strand in the book. But the idea of approaching the formal side of building a magic not from a clerical standpoint but from an anticlerical one, I admit, was a task that drew me on and on into the book.

This of course leads into the other central question: whence authority? Whither authority? Does it proceed from expertise or from innate virtue? Does talent justify its own excesses? Is the power to command purely and solely resident in a system or does it spring from the person commanding? The hierarchical world Mike and his colleagues struggle against is opulent — they own, for example, a private magical academy on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one that obtrudes into an enormous forest in another reality, making them masters in two worlds, not just one. They nepotistically promote their own kind above objectively more talented magicians. And they greet any threat to their authority, even a comparatively mild one, with orders-of-magnitude-greater-than-necessary violence and speed.

Again, this tension is not meant to be taken as a formula for moral understanding: Mike is a child of real-world privilege, as are all of his younger colleagues (his older ones less so), and their insurgency is colored by concomitant anxieties. The war he and his friends conduct is blessed by no obvious superiority to the war being fought against them. Authority comes, as much for Mike as for his opponents, from the will to seize it.

At least he’s not an asshole, though.

—-

The War Against the Assholes: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site.

 


please stand by [WIL WHEATON dot NET]

RCA_Indian_Head_test_pattern

I need a break, so I’m on vacation, but if you want to see something new that I did, check out TV Crimes with Wil Wheaton and Mikey Neumann.

Fox-1 “In the Bag” (Updated) [AMSAT-NA]

Fox-1 “In The Bag”!

Fox-1, the first Fox-1 series satellite (a.k.a. Fox-1A to the AMSAT Engineering Team) completed the final required testing January 16 through 23.

The tests included the launch provider required “DITL” (Day In The Life) and “environmental testing” subjecting the CubeSat to Vibration and Thermal Vacuum Bakeout, the latter two sometimes referred together as “shake and bake”.

DITL is required to show that Fox-1 will not deploy her antennas nor transmit any signals prior to a minimum of 45 minutes after she is deployed from the PPOD into orbit. The test was conducted at the “Fox Labs” QTH of Jerry Buxton NØJY on January 16. Bob Fitzpatrick KB5SQG assisted on site with Jonathan Brandenburg KF5IDY and Kevin Bishop KG7NSD supporting via GoToMeeting. It was a somewhat suspense filled test waiting for 45 minutes hoping nothing will happen, followed by another 11 minutes hoping something will happen. Everything performed as expected and the test was a success, with transmit antenna deployment at 56 minutes 21 seconds, receive antenna deployment at 56 minutes 32 seconds, and first transmission at 59 minutes 12 seconds.

On Monday January 19 Fox Engineering Team members Bob Davis KF4KSS, Burns Fisher W2BFJ, and Jerry Buxton NØJY traveled to Orlando FL to conduct the “shake and bake” at Qualtest.

Upon arrival Fox-1 was tested, inspected, and integrated into the TestPOD at the hotel and then the team traveled to Qualtest. Assisted by Lou McFadin W5DID, photographed by Dave Jordan AA4KN and observed by Ed Krome K9EK the vibration testing took place on Wednesday January 21 with frequencies and amplitudes that simulate the ride Fox-1 will be experiencing on the Atlas V rocket during launch, tested in all three (X,Y,Z) axes. After the “shake” a Short Functional Test and Aliveness Test were conducted, and Fox-1 worked like a charm!

Thursday January 21 Fox-1 was put into the thermal vacuum bell jar to be subjected to a 12 hour pre-soak at high altitude and temperature near the required test temperature in order to remove any rough contaminants that might harm the ion pump used during the “bake” procedure. Friday the 22nd Fox-1 went through the launch required Thermal Vacuum Bakeout which sustains a vacuum <1E-4 torr at a specified temperature for 6 hours in order to thoroughly remove any contaminants that might be left over from construction and handling and which could cause problems once the satellite and materials are exposed to the vacuum of space. Given the vacuum actually achieved during the process, we are very happy that Fox-1 was a “clean machine” even prior to the start of the procedure! Once the “bake” was complete Fox-1 was allowed to cool to near room temperature and then subjected to the same Short Functional Test and Aliveness Test as done on arrival in Florida and after the vibe test. Once again, Fox-1 worked as it should and was officially declared ready for launch!

While it is somewhat anti-climactic, Fox-1 was then carefully placed in an anti-static bag and will remain there until delivery and integration into the PPOD which is scheduled for mid-March 2015. Battery will be charged by the umbilical but no other handling, changes, testing, or function can be performed as once she passed the environmental testing Fox-1 officially became “hands off”.

As previously announced launch is scheduled for late August 2015.

Official photos and more information will be included in an upcoming AMSAT Journal. If you are on Facebook, the AMSAT North America Facebook page has some photos that were uploaded during the environmental testing.

Thanks NØJY and the Fox-1 Engineering Team for the information.

=============== UPDATE ===============

Fox-1 Continues Preparation for Launch

Following the successful conclusion of vibration and thermal/vacuum testing
Fox-1 now is stored in a clean environment waiting for launch. However,
there is still work going on behind the scenes.

AMSAT Vice-President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY says several required
reports are being reviewed by the launch provider. We continue to make
necessary updates if they request further information in order to be sure
that all of the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. The paperwork is an
ongoing full workload in itself, both during the design and construction and
even after Fox-1 was finished.

For the remaining schedule, Fox-1 will have its Mission Readiness Review
(MRR) at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo CA on February 24 before a review board of
Cal Poly and NASA representatives. Next, Fox-1 will be delivered and
integrated into the P-POD at Cal Poly during the week of March 16. Then the
countdown begins.

[ANS thanks AMSAT Vice-President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY for the
above information]

=============== UPDATE ===============

Fox-1A delivery/P-POD integration is now set, for March 25, 2015 at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  From there, we won’t see her again – but certainly look forward to hearing from her again!

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Fox-1 MRR

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Fox-1 MRR

 

"In the Bag!"

“In the Bag!”

Vibration Testing

Vibration Testing

Thermal Vacuum Bakeout

Thermal Vacuum Bakeout

Fox-1

Fox-1

Fox-1

Fox-1

ARRL Headquarters Will Be Closed on Friday, July 3 [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

ARRL Headquarters will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. There will be no edition of ARRL Audio News and no W1AW bulletins or code practice on July 3. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Senate Sponsor of “Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015” said Bill Promotes Regulatory Transparency, Equality [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

US Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), who sponsored “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015” in the Senate, had said the bill he introduced, with original cosponsor Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would allow for transparency and equality in the regulatory process. S. 1685 and its identically worded US House version H.R. 1301 direct the FCC to provide “regulatory parity” for Amateur radio operators. Wicker ...

ARRL Website Has New Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 Page [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Now that there is Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 legislation in both chambers of the US Congress, the League has a combined web page to accommodate activities on behalf of the two bills. The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 is H.R. 1301 in the US House of Representatives and S. 1685 in the US Senate. The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 page provides a clearing house for all information on th...

29 JUN 15: It's A Fair Cop [Comedy of the Week]

After a successful first series on Radio 4 and a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, policeman turned comic, Alfie Moore, returns with the series that invites his audience to make the policing decisions as he takes them through a real life crime scenario. This week he asks whether we think ALL crime should be reported and investigated. You may be surprised at the result. Written and performed by Alfie Moore. Script Editor ..... Will Ing. Producer..... Alison Vernon-Smith. A BBC Radio Comedy production.

Well Integrated British Muslima Writes Poem Praising Tunisia Attack. [Blazing Cat Fur]

Muslim Terrorist Bitch

In 3 different locations a family was born.

Its name was change, freedom and revenge.

Kuwait, France and Tunisia is where they reside.

They left a mark which will always remain.

Permanent and blunt.

NBC para Donald Trump: Estás despedido! [Blazing Cat Fur]

The Nogales Broadcasting Company has ended it relationship with Donald Trump whose blunt language offended the their core constituency.

NBC Headquarters

NBC Headquarters

Hey ISIS! Here’s a new bride for ya…Luka Magnotta joins dating site for prisoners [Blazing Cat Fur]

Luka Magnotta ISIS Bride

Single? Loyal? Emotionally stable? You just might be Luka Rocco Magnotta’s “prince charming.”

The convicted killer, whose crimes made headlines around the world, has joined a matchmaking website for inmates.

Magnotta’s profile was posted Sunday on Canadian Inmates Connect Inc., a website that tries to hook up lonesome convicts — some behind bars for violent offences like first-degree murder — with potential companions on the outside.

h/t JEH & OJ

Australian jihad Gen Ys under microscope [Blazing Cat Fur]

Hizb-ut-Tahrir-Australia

The average Australian jihadist is 25 years old, likely to be Australian-born and better-educated than the previous generation of extremists of the 1990s and post-September 11 period, a top think tank has found.

Studying 54 of the current wave of Islamic extremists both at home and fighting in the Middle East, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has also found that four-fifths of the jihadists have an online presence, underscoring the dominant role of the internet in extremism.

“Australian citizens who have become extremist jihadists since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 are, on average, younger and better educated than a previous generation of Australians who radicalised in the late 1990s and after al-Qaeda’s attacks in the US in 2001,” the report, released on Monday, finds.

We assume British Muslims support British values. Do they? [Blazing Cat Fur]

Islam in the spotlight

Let’s put the question very bluntly: do British Muslims affirm British values, or are they outsiders to our way of life? Or, even more bluntly: can we trust them? It is important that we learn to answer this question with nuance, and not in a self-righteous and simplistic way.

UK: Belfast Pastor Faces Prison for “Grossly Offending” Islam [Blazing Cat Fur]

Pastor James McConnell of Belfast

An evangelical Christian pastor in Northern Ireland is being prosecuted for making “grossly offensive” remarks about Islam.

James McConnell, 78, is facing up to six months in prison for delivering a sermon in which he described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic.” The message was streamed live on the Internet, and a Muslim group called the police to complain.

UK PM David Cameron Sticks His Head Further Up His Arse Than Ever Thought Possible! [Blazing Cat Fur]

David Cameron Dhimmi

Cameron tells BBC to stop calling barbaric terror group ‘Islamic State’ because name is offensive to ‘many Muslims’

Islamic State Is Selling Looted Art Online for Needed Cash [Blazing Cat Fur]

ISIS smashes antiquities

The Whatsapp message appeared on his iPhone: photos of an ancient Mesopotamian vase worth $250,000, part of a highly-valued set, is waiting to be extracted.

The recipient, Amr Al Azm, replied that he was interested. How to proceed? A message from a different account followed. The vase could be smuggled through Lebanon.

Obama, Clinton cheer gay marriage, while forging ties with homophobic Iran [Blazing Cat Fur]

Only a few years ago, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Ayatollah Roberts and His Sharia Council [Blazing Cat Fur]

I am in favor of arranging the laws to permit gay couples to arrange their domestic affairs in whatever way they see fit, and to have those affairs blessed by whatever authorities are inclined to bless them: Episcopalian church, Sam’s Club, Taylor Swift, Grand Mystic Royal Order of the Nobles of the Ali Baba Temple of the Shrine — it’s a free country, Sunshine. Unlike Barack Obama, I did not arrive at my views on same-sex affairs recently and at a moment of political convenience. But, that being said, the idea that lurking in the penumbras of our 18th-century Constitution is a fundamental national right to gay marriage is simply preposterous. It is not there. It is a fiction, and, just like the Harry Potter novels, the fact that it is very, very popular does not mean that it is not fiction.

Tsipras urges ‘No’ vote on bailout referendum to ‘better arm’ Greece [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Greece’s left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks Monday to reject the terms of an international aid deal in a July 5 referendum in order to give the country a stronger hand in negotiations with its international creditors.

France’s Melissa Mayeux wants to make more baseball history [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Meet Melissa Mayeux, the 16-year-old French baseball player hoping to smash the gender barrier in America's Major League Baseball.

Egypt public prosecutor dies after Cairo bomb attack [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Egypt’s public prosecutor died from wounds sustained in a bomb attack on Monday that had targeted his convoy in Cairo, state news agency MENA said.

‘They brainwashed my son,’ says father of Tunisia gunman [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

As Tunisia reels from the latest slaughter carried out by a homegrown terrorist, the father of gunman Saif Rezgui tells FRANCE 24 his cultured and studious son was 'brainwashed'.

Iraqi PM ‘retires” army chief [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi has "retired" the army's chief of staff, the most senior officer removed since jihadists overran large parts of the country last year, his spokesman said Monday.

Ex-French interior minister Charles Pasqua dies aged 88 [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua, a hardline politician who was a close ally of former president Jacques Chirac, died on Monday aged 88, political sources said.

Israel to build fence on border with Jordan [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Israel’s security cabinet has approved extending a security barrier to part of its eastern border with Jordan in a bid to keep out militants and illegal migrants, the prime minister's office said Monday.

Uber France bosses taken into custody [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Two of the bosses of Uber in France have been taken into custody over an investigation into alleged "illicit activity" linked to the company’s low-budget UberPOP app, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

A look at the semifinalists in the Women’s World Cup [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

With the semifinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada fast approaching, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the four teams competing for a shot at the trophy.

Egypt jails dancer for ‘inciting debauchery’ in music video [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

An Egyptian court sentenced a woman on Sunday to one year in jail on charges of “inciting debauchery” after she appeared in a music video wearing a low-cut mini dress.

Turkish govt seeks Syria military action, army ‘reluctant’ [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Turkey’s government wants more active military action to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against regime, Kurdish and jihadist forces in Syrian territory, but the military is reluctant to do so, official sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

French pensioner gored to death in bull run [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A man in his 60s has been gored to death during a bull run in southern France, authorities said on Monday.

11 killed in police raid on Boko Haram in Chad capital [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Eleven people died early Monday when Chadian police launched a raid against suspected Boko Haram jihadist militants in a district of the capital N'Djamena, police said.

Chimpanzees suffer collateral damage from increased poaching [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

In Uganda's Kibale National Park, a French team from the National Museum of Natural History is studying primates. But its remit also extends to protection, as the endangered local chimpanzee population struggles with a growing poaching problem: the accidentally maiming and killing of primates in traps laid for other animals.

Burundi on edge as polls open in controversial elections [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Polling stations opened Monday in Burundi's controversial parliamentary elections, with the climate tense after two months of deadly protests sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.

Home Wi-Fi comes of age; [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

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Chaos Manor View, Sunday, June 28, 2015

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My love/hate relationship with the Surface Pro 3 – named Precious again , as it was when I first got it – with Build 10130 of Windows 10 experimental has moved well into love again. Everything just seems to work. I am using it Wi-Fi only; I think some of the problems have been with the docking station, either hardware or more likely drivers as they develop the beta version of Windows 10. Perhaps not; but in any event Wi-Fi has been good enough now that we have the new Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi Access Points (APs), which support each other. There are four of them, one upstairs, one in the back bedroom, one in the kitchen, and of course one in the downstairs office which is my main office now. We have one Wi-Fi SSID, and it all pretty well Just Works.

The Ruckus APs are not just repeaters, or standalone units. Repeaters receive a signal and rebroadcast it, which cuts into the throughput speed. Instead, each AP acts as a node on the network, under central control of the ZoneDirector, which hands off your device’s connection to the closest AP. This is far simpler than the manual “Which network is strongest?” game we were playing before.

Professional wireless also automatically balances the load across all radios, avoiding congestion from every device talking to a single AP. I’m told that’s harder with Apple devices, particularly iOS (iPhone and iPad) ones, which like to stay affiliated with one AP, even as you move around. I haven’t seen that, but of course this house is fairly small.

Gear of this class scans routinely for interference (Including between APs), changing channels as necessary. This is much more critical on the more-congested 2.4 GHz band, crowded with rogue devices (including your phone in hotspot mode), microwave ovens, baby monitors, and the like, than the less-crowded 5 GHz band.

Ruckus also does beamforming, aiming more of the radio signal at the receiving device, instead of an omnidirectional pattern directing it everywhere. This extends range while decreasing interference.

The good news is, the pro gear tracks all that so you don’t have to.

I also have a new Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse for Precious. It is an optical mouse that turns off when you fold it flat, and turns on into a comfortable mouse when you bend it into an arc. Setting it up was simple, and It Just Works. It was not obvious – to me at least – from the pictures how it worked as a mouse, but it is a real mouse, and works on all the surfaces I’ve tried it on as well or better than the Microsoft Red Eye mice I normally use. Bending it into an arc wakes up Precious.

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Grandmaster Larry Niven was over and we spent the afternoon being interviewed by a TV documentary maker who was more interested in art than stories, but it went well even so. Nothing may come of it, but you never know. At least they were well prepared. But it sure used up the day.

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I have quite a lot of mail from gay marriage enthusiasts asking why I do not rejoice with them. I understand why they are happy; but I don’t rejoice when fundamental changes are made in the Constitutional powers by any process other than amendment regardless of the change. Read Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent for details.

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Surface Pro as laptop

I bought a Surface Pro at the 2013 TechEd (for $400!). It’s a fine computer and a decent replacement for my laptop and old homebrew desktop. I added a docking station (Pluggable UD-3900) to connect my two 24” monitors. It’s not as convenient as the docking station for the Surface, but it was half the cost. The little Surface drives it all just fine.

It’s awkward as a laptop because it’s just not mechanically fit for the job. However, if you put it on a laptop cooling pad, it works great.

-Jay

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Elon Musk: self-driving cars could lead to ban on human drivers | Technology | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/18/elon-musk-self-driving-cars-ban-human-drivers

I doubt Congress will ever decide that, but courts?

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Obergefell, and black-letter text.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Here’s the Ninth Amendment, in full: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Here’s what Justice Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion in Obergefell: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”

This is exactly right. What the Ninth Amendment explicitly says is, as you learn that meaning of liberty over time, the Bill of Rights should not be construed as a comprehensive limiting list, denying and disparaging what you find in addition through the years.

In other words, the Bill of Rights sets a *minimum* to our freedoms and liberties as American citizens, not a maximum. One would think that someone who has made sacrifices to defend liberty would recognize this.

Here’s what Justice Scalia wrote in dissent: “(The majority) have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”

Yup. And just for the literalists who querulously ask, “Where in the Bill of Rights does it mention the freedom of {x}…?” — Well, the Framers saw them coming. They wrote the Ninth Amendment to tell them that’s the black-letter text of how the process works. They in fact hesitated to pass a Bill of Rights at all, precisely because they didn’t want the literalist argument to have any credence or capacity to limit freedom, and it was only with Mr. Madison’s drafting of the Ninth they were persuaded the Bill of Rights would be a good thing.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Hoping this finds you well,

Hal O’Brien

Assume you are correct in every measure. This argues new powers for Congress and state legislatures; not more powers for the courts and bureaucracy. How do nine unelected individuals appointed for life determine when the moment has come? They decide that it has, but they have not the power to implement their decision.  Only a legislative body can make laws.

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You and Middle-earth

Well let me say something about your books. I really love Footfall and its awesome use of Orion drive. I also know you and Larry Niven from Atomic Rockets website, where there are a lot of information about science fiction stuff.
Then I stumble upon this: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/macguffinite.php
When I read that page, I found an excerpt from you. Bind Your Sons to Exile.
I could spout all the statistics from memory. Moria: first inhabited asteroid. Mining colony. Average distance from the Sun, 2.39 AU, or 357 million kilometers. Irregular shape. Average radius, 7.5 kilometers, minimum 4, maximum 11 km. Mass, 1.78 trillion tons, or about one ten-billionth of Earth mass. Rotation period 8.2 hours. Period, 3.69 Earth years, or 1348.6 Earth days, or 3947 local days’. Surface gravity, 0.2 cm/sec2 , two ten- thousandths of an Earth gee, just enough to keep you from jumping off the place.
If you jumped as hard as you could you’d go up a couple of kilometers, and take hours for the round trip. It wouldn’t be a smart thing to do.
Composition, varied, with plenty of veins of metals. Moria was once part of a much bigger rock, one big enough to have had a molten core. Then it got battered to hell and gone, exposing what had been the interior. Now you can mine: magnesium, uranium, iron, aluminum, and nickel. There’s gold and silver. There’s also water and ammonia ices under the surface, which are a hell of a lot more important than the metals. Or are they? Without the metals we wouldn’t be out here. Without the ices we couldn’t stay.
Our supporters on Earth called us the cutting edge of technology. We were the first of a series of asteroid mine operations that would eventually liberate Earth forever from shortages of raw materials. The orbital space factories already demonstrated what space manufacturing could do; and with asteroid mines to supply raw materials, the day would come when everyone on Earth could enjoy the benefits of industry without the penalties of industrial pollution.
Bind Your Sons to Exile (1976)
Then I remember that Moria is also a dwarf mine in Lord of the Rings, and it also contain precious metals such as mithril.
But of course, as a science guy I need to separate between correlation and causation. Who knows that it is just coincidental?
So I’ve searched for your books, so I can get the bigger picture. Then I found this:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/39099?page=4&per_page=30&title=Jerry_Pournelle
The Battle of Sauron. And that is what drives me to ask you directly about this. Do you read Lord of the Rings? What is your opinion about that?

Ignatius Rivaldi

Well, yes – I have read the Lord of the Rings epic, and I much enjoyed it. Thank you for asking. When I wrote that, I was hoping that we would have asteroid mines by 2015. It appears I was a bit early in that prediction.

Video of the F9 first-stage anomaly and vehicle loss can be seen at https://youtu.be/ZeiBFtkrZEw?t=23m34s

space.access@mindspring.com

But we have a commercial space program, and Moore’s Law is inexorable (although not as first expressed).

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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SCOTUS Threatens the Constitution; Meanwhile at Chaos Manor Windows 10 and Surface Pro are working. [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

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Chaos Manor View, Friday, June 26, 2015

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There’s good news at home, and not very good news nationally. But perseverance fixed my computer problems, and that is what it will take to remedy the recent Supreme Court decisions. We need to keep a Senate Majority, get a sane President, and wait. This Liberal Court does not believe in the Constitution, nor, the evidence indicates, in black letter law. We’re back to emanations and penumbras and SCOTUS has asserted a supremacy that it does not have.

We’ve lived through Constitutional crises before, and Hamilton was right in the Federalist, the courts are the weakest branch of government. They have asserted legislative powers before, sometimes getting away with it and sometimes not; we have to see to it that they do not get away with it this time.

There’s a problem: While the Court assertion of legislative authority is dangerous, on some issues it is nearly irrelevant. Gay marriage is one of them: while it is unlikely that Congress would assert a right to gay marriage anytime soon, a lot of Members feel relief that they won’t be called upon to vote on the issue. The swings in public opinion are wide, and cases like the elderly bakers run out of business for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake will produce more swings, but the direction is clear. Very few – almost no one – would deny the legal rights associated with marriage to gay couples, and many places tried to substitute what amounted to marriage in all but name, preserving the word “marriage” to its ancient meaning, one man and one woman. That was not enough, and thus the Court found in the Constitution (as amended) a right to marriage that would have been abhorrent to the Framers, and to those who adopted the amendments. It is only recently that legislatures have been willing to legalize gay marriage, and not all of them have done so; yet it is clearly a legislative matter. It is also clearly a matter for the states. The Constitution gives Congress no power to define marriage nor the Federal Government no power to perform weddings.

As a practical matter it took that power to itself, and no one really objected. Perhaps they should have.

In any event, since (I believe) a vast majority now accepts the idea that gays are entitled to civil union indistinguishable from marriage, it leaves little to fight over; still, it ought to be left to Congress and the State legislatures. Courts are to interpret laws and apply laws; in some cases perhaps to discover laws (common law marriage as an example); but legislatures make law, and when you remove that distinction you put into danger the notion of the rule of law; a government of laws, not men; and that is extremely dangerous. Rule of law is essential to stable government.

The ancients, and some moderns, knew and know that good government is a blessing, and a rare one at that. These court decisions undermine the rules that have given these United States the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; we strike at that heritage to our peril. We sow the wind.

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Meanwhile at Chaos Manor, we had many adventures with the Surface Pro 3 and its experimental Windows 10. It isn’t worth recounting the full story, but it consumed the day: I could not make it see Wi-Fi networks, and after a while it wouldn’t even turn Wi-Fi on.

Eventually I used the docking station to get it to connect to the Internet with an Ethernet connection, and as it fought me all the way, I tried to refresh, then update, the Surface Pro. It wouldn’t refresh but it finally decided to update. That took a long time, and was fitful, but eventually I had Build 10130 of the trial Windows 10. I took it out of the docking station (and thus off the Internet, no Ethernet) and restarted it, and Lo! It searched networks, found the new Wi-Fi, and once I typed in the password it worked fine, or seems to. I am about to take it into the breakfast room to play with as I eat lunch. More later, but it looks good.

Back after lunch.

1600:  The Surface 3 Pro works very well.  I need a mouse – I don’t manipulate a stylus well, and right-clicking is a real chore – but that’s me.  I make no doubt that most of you would make do nicely without.  Anyway I am looking at offers of wireless mouses for the Surface 3 Pro, and also for a good messenger bag carry case for it. I’m in no hurry.

In the breakfast room I was able to use it just fine for everything: looking at news, making notes, Word.  The keyboard is no harder to use than this comfort-curve, and actually might be better.The keys are larger. I had problems correcting mistakes because of my clumsiness in using the stylus for right clicks, but I may have made fewer errors, too.  OneNote and a good tablet make wonderful research tools, and this new build of Windows 10 works – all the infuriating problems of the Surface 3 Pro seem to be gone – works well so far.  I haven’t used it enough to be sure, but this moves far towards recommended status.

Microsoft is infuriating, but this is the third mark of this tablet/laptop and it begins to look as if they may be getting there. I want to experiment with using it as a tablet, without keyboard; and get more familiar with this way of doing things, but my first impression was favorable – after the frustrations of the last weeks – and I can hope we’re on the way to a beautiful friendship.

If I have to produce a lot on the road, and particularly if I am holding the machine in my lap, I think I would still prefer a MacBook Air (for ease of carrying) or a ThinkPad ( for usefulness) but I now am not sure that’s a permanent preference. The Surface Pro 3 – I haven’t given him a permanent name, but he’s earned one and it will come soon – with OneNote begins to look as if it could be what I’ve wanted all my life: something that just works.  Of course they may improve it and scuttle that opinion…

So: I’m looking for a carry case messenger bag, and for a good wireless mouse that will travel with the Surface Pro 3. Suggestions welcome. 

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ISIS once more demonstrates why it cannot be allowed to exist.

Day of terror: Islamist attacks around world follow ISIS’ Ramadan message

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/06/26/man-beheaded-in-apparent-terror-attack-at-factory-in-france-local-media-say/

Terrorists gunned down dozens of tourists on a Tunisian beach, left a severed head atop a fence outside a French factory and blew up a Kuwaiti mosque Friday in a bloody wave of attacks that followed an ISIS leader’s call to make the month of Ramadan a time of “calamity for the infidels.”

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I recommend this article on the nearly forgotten Druze:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/israels-druse-minority-shows-unity-with-its-syrian-kin-1435244258

Israel’s Druse Minority Shows Unity With Its Syrian Kin

Minority presses prime minister to intervene as brethren in Syria clash with Islamists

Members of the Druse community carry flags at they walk toward the border fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Druse village of Majdal Shams, to watch the fighting in Syria on June 16. ENLARGE

Members of the Druse community carry flags at they walk toward the border fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Druse village of Majdal Shams, to watch the fighting in Syria on June 16. Photo: baz ratner/Reuters

By

Joshua Mitnick

Updated June 25, 2015 7:23 p.m. ET

HURFEISH, Israel—The men of this Druse village in the Galilee mountains proudly don shirts from their days in elite Israeli combat units. But now they fear the same military is helping Islamist rebels in neighboring Syria who fight the pro-regime Druse minority.

Druse straddle both sides of the contentious border and many of them in Israel accuse the military of quietly allying with Islamist rebels to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while many Syrian Druse are fighting for the Assad regime.

The article gives some introductory background on the Druze.  Druze to not allow conversion, so they are not proselytizing; and those who live in Israel are not only citizens, but many are police and security officers. Only the elders know the full extent of Druze beliefs; some of the religion is secret, even from most of its members. The Druze position in the Lebanon settlement is Chief of Staff of the armed forces.

See  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Pact

  • The President of the Republic is always a Maronite Catholic.

  • The Prime Minister of the Republic is always a Sunni Muslim.
  • The Speaker of the Parliament is always a Shi’a Muslim.
  • The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister are always Greek Orthodox Christian.
  • The Chief of the General Staff is always a Druze.
  • Parliament members are always in a ratio of 6:5 in favour of Christians to Muslims
  • Under this agreement Lebanon thrived, and Beirut became “The Paris of the Middle East.”

    See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Druze

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    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB11154342288815824014704581070312593496554 

    Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in the ObamaCare case King v. Burwell; on Thursday the court ruled 6-3 for the Obama administration. A related editorial appears nearby.

    The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so. . . .

    This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. . . .

    Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. . . .

    The Court interprets §36B to award tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges. It accepts that the “most natural sense” of the phrase “Exchange established by the State” is an Exchange established by a State. (Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) Yet the opinion continues, with no semblance of shame, that “it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.” (Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) The Court claims that “the context and structure of the Act compel [it] to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

    The entire dissent is worth reading,

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    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-political-john-roberts-1435272535

    For the second time in three years, Chief Justice John Roberts has rewritten the Affordable Care Act in order to save it. Beyond its implications for health care, the Court’s 6-3 ruling in King v. Burwell is a landmark that betrays the Chief’s vow to be “an umpire,” not a legislator in robes. He stands revealed as a most political Justice.

    The black-letter language of ObamaCare limits insurance subsidies to “an Exchange established by the State.” But the Democrats who wrote the bill in 2010 never imagined that 36 states would refuse to participate. So the White House through the IRS wrote a regulation that also opened the subsidy spigots to exchanges established by the federal government.

    ***

    Chief Justice Roberts has now become a co-conspirator in this executive law-making. With the verve of a legislator, he has effectively amended the statute to read “established by the State—or by the way the Federal Government.” His opinion—joined by the four liberal Justices and Anthony Kennedy—is all the more startling because it goes beyond normal deference to regulators.

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    Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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    As Iran deadline approaches, skeptics issue dueling red lines [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    Khameini and AIPAC are seen as must-convince skeptics for their respective sides in the talks about Iran's nuclear program.  (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

    Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran, and AIPAC are seen as must-convince skeptics for their respective sides in the talks about Iran’s nuclear program.
    (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — In nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers, it’s deadline time, and skeptics on both sides are laying out red lines in a bid to shape a final deal.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader who had been wary of the talks, last week outlined his own expectations for the deal — and where there would be no compromise.

    On the American side, a five-point memo circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been influential in shaping how Congress and others are pressing the Obama administration.

    Among the contentious issues are the period that restrictions must stay in place and how much Iran must reveal of its nuclear past.

    Officials on both sides say that the talks being held in Vienna, Austria, will stretch for a week or so beyond Tuesday’s deadline.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose adamant rejection of the emerging deal informs the AIPAC talking points, said Sunday that his skepticism was only increasing.

    “This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet.

    Khamenei’s June 23 broadside to Iranian government officials and AIPAC’s memo, “Five Requirements for a Good Deal,” circulating for about a month, are being treated by experts on the talks as baselines for must-convince skeptics in both countries: the religious establishment in Iran and Congress in the United States. Under legislation passed in May, Congress gets an up or down vote on a deal.

    “The AIPAC fact sheet is influential,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a think tank monitoring the talks. “It’s a nice, colorful, simple format — and AIPAC has tremendous reach.”

    Congressional insiders say the AIPAC memo features prominently in conversations lawmakers from both parties are having with administration officials.

    It has also influenced other American groups seeking a say in the process. A letter last week organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy setting out concerns about the emerging deal and signed by 18 former government officials has a similar five-point format, as does a fact sheet
    by J Street that seeks to counter some of AIPAC’s points.

    David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, said that the inclusion of former Obama Iran policy officials like Gary Samore, Dennis Ross and Robert Einhorn among the Washington Institute letter signers signified increasing disquiet with the deal.

    “We’re not talking about those who can be put in a corner and depicted as warmongers or neoconservatives,” he said. “This is a very balanced, moderate group of people who believe as AJC has long believed that we can do better at the negotiating table.”

    David Makovsky, the Washington Institute fellow who convened the group, said that it had met nine times and conveyed its concerns to government officials. He also noted that the letter, which endorses outcomes that the Obama administration has said in the past are its aims, includes longtime Iran deal skeptics such as George W. Bush administration officials Stephen Hadley, Robert Blackwill and Paula Dobriansky, as well as former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

    “People should not miss the dual message,” Makovsky said. “A bad agreement can lose people from the center left. A good agreement can bring people from the center right.”

    The memos, as well as Khamenei’s speech, cover the same territory and demonstrate the degree to which the skeptics on each side differ.

    • AIPAC is demanding “short notice” nuclear inspections “anytime and anywhere,” “including all military locations.” Khamenei says he does not agree with “inspecting military centers” and says the International Atomic Energy Agency, the atomic watchdog of the United Nations, must not be the sole arbiter determining compliance with the deal.

    • AIPAC says sanctions can be lifted only once the IAEA “provides ongoing verification that Iran is meeting the conditions of the deal.” Khamenei plainly says: “Lifting sanctions should not depend on the fulfillment of Iran’s commitments.”

    • AIPAC says the 10- to 15-year sunset clause anticipated for some of the deal’s reported restrictions is too short. “A good deal must not expire until Iran has proved over time that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes only,” the group said. Khamenei says even the expected time limits amount to “bullying.” “They say that we should not do anything for 10, 12 years and that we can engage in production and development after that,” he said. “This is bullying and an exceedingly wrong statement.”

    • AIPAC says “Iran must dismantle its nuclear infrastructure so that it has no path to a nuclear weapon.” Khamenei says that even during the restriction period that Iran would accept, “research, development and production should continue.”

    • AIPAC wants Iran to “fully explain its prior weaponization efforts.” Iran denies that it has ever weaponized, saying its research has been peaceful all along. “I do not agree with extraordinary investigations” Khamenei said, “nor do I agree with questioning political personalities in any way nor with inspecting military centers.”

    The Washington Institute letter elaborates on some of the demands sought by AIPAC and Israel in ways that could satisfy lawmakers in Congress who are skeptical but do not want to kill a deal at all costs, Makovsky said.

    “We went for something we thought could get consensus,” he said.

    Instead of requiring Iran to come clean about its weaponization, as Israel and AIPAC have sought, the letter calls for an investigative approach that stops short of requiring a confession from Iran. Inspectors must be able “to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents,” the letter said.

    Khamenei made clear in his speech the trust he was placing in the Iranian negotiators, a warning to hard-liners who oppose the negotiations that may prove more significant than the red lines he outlined.

    “They are not infallible and they may make a mistake in their decisions and actions, but the important point is that we believe in their trustworthiness, their piety, their zeal and their courage,” Khamenei said.

    Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the Rand Corp. think tank, says it would be unrealistic to expect the Iranians to capitulate outright to the demands outlined by AIPAC and Israel.

    “If the goal is ‘anytime, anywhere’ access and unlimited inspections, it’s not realistic asking a sovereign country not defeated in war,” he said. Instead, Nader said, the question was, “How can a middle ground be reached in which the IAEA has access and Iran can be assured it won’t expose its conventional secrets to inspectors?”

    Netanyahu was ‘smuggled’ to hospital twice in disguised vans [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    Netanyahu, 65, in both cases had routine prostate examinations that found “nothing uncharacteristic for a man of his age.” (Handout/Getty Images)

    Netanyahu, 65, in both cases had routine prostate examinations that found “nothing uncharacteristic for a man of his age.” (Handout/Getty Images)

    (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “smuggled” to medical appointments in disguised vans shortly before and after elections.

    Netanyahu, 65, in both cases had routine prostate examinations that found “nothing uncharacteristic for a man of his age.”

    In the first instance, shortly before the March 17 elections, he was transported to Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, a haredi Orthodox hospital in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, in what appeared to be a pita delivery van, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

    Shortly after the vote, Netanyahu was taken in a disguised pest-control van, with his security guards dressed as pest controllers around the vehicle.

    Channel 2 did not explain why Netanyahu employed the disguised vehicles.

    Jewish group hired Mexican laborers to protest N.Y. gay pride parade [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    NEW YORK (JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish group hired Mexican laborers to protest for them at the gay pride parade in New York.

    A reporter for The New York Times witnessed the group of Mexican men picketing for the Jewish Political Action Committee, a fringe Hasidic group based in Brooklyn, at Sunday’s parade in Manhattan.

    The hired protesters wore ritual fringes, or tzitzit, and held up signs protesting homosexuality and same-sex marriage, which was upheld by the U.S.  Supreme Court on June 26.

    Heshie Freed, a member of the Jewish Political Action Committee, told the Times that the men were hired to fill in for “yeshiva boys” who would normally protest but were kept away because of “what they would see at the parade.”

    The group of Mexican men was fenced off from the main parade at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street, and parade-goers repeatedly kissed in front of them.

    Later in the day, a fight broke out between a parade-goer and an Orthodox man associated with the group.

    “It’s been a lot of confrontation,” Freed told the Times. “Whenever you have emotions, you have a situation.”

    Seamless goes ‘kosher style’ (bacon included) [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    Kosher users of Seamless may now be offered cheese on their pastrami sandwiches. (Shutterstock)

    Kosher users of Seamless may now be offered cheese on their deli sandwiches. (Shutterstock)

    Kosher users of the popular food-delivery website Seamless may have noticed a subtle but significant change in recent weeks: The website’s category for kosher eateries has shifted from “kosher” to “kosher style.”

    In New York, that means seekers of kosher food will find not only mainstays like hummus, pastrami sandwiches and matzah-ball soup on their lists, but also shrimp cocktails, ham and swiss sandwiches, and Canadian bacon and eggs.

    Sarge’s, a New York deli that lists those items on its menu, is now in the kosher style category alongside such certifiably kosher establishments as Mendy’s, Mr. Broadway and Murray’s Falafel.

    Caveat emptor.

    Aussie moneyman ripped for anti-Semitic rant against Jewish official [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    (JTA) — A financial adviser in Australia unleashed a series of curse-laden anti-Semitic tweets at the country’s Jewish assistant treasurer.

    James Howarth, the head of Retirement Wealth Advisers based in Brisbane, ripped Josh Frydenberg on Sunday for his proposed law that would cut upfront commissions for financial advisers, news.com.au reported. Howarth was immediately reprimanded for his remarks, which were full of anti-Semitic stereotypes.

    Among other things, Howarth called Frydenberg a “tinkering Jew” and joked that he had ordered hundreds of “Central Planning Jew” punching bags.

    “What a c*** sucker. First plan of action was to regulate insurance salaries,” Howarth tweeted. He added: “The F*** Frydenberg movement is picking up steam. Free Markets or Central Planning Jews.”

    Frydenberg’s proposed plan would decrease the cost of life insurance policies and slash the upfront commissions for financial advisers in half by 2018, news.com.au reported.

    “This nasty, personal and ­derogatory language is not becoming of a financial adviser, let alone anyone else, and is completely over the top,” Frydenberg told the Australian on Sunday.

    Australia’s human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson, called Howarth’s comments “disgusting and outrageous,” news.com.au reported. Australian human rights lawyer George Newhouse called the incident a “disgrace to all Australians.”

    “It is deeply troubling that Mr Howarth has injected race and religion into a legitimate public discussion, and has employed hateful descriptions that play into classic anti-Semitic charges of powerful Jews controlling and wanting to centralise financial markets,” said Dr. Dvir Abramovich, the head of Australia’s B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission.

    Israel’s defense chief: Help for Syrian rebels is exchange for Druze safety [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters that Israel has been providing humanitarian aid to Syrian rebels in exchange for the safety of Druze Arabs.

    The medical aid has been conditioned on the rebel fighting not getting too close to the border fence between the Israeli and Syrian sides of the Golan Heights and that the local Druze population is not harmed, Yaalon said at a briefing on Monday.

    He called Druze attacks last week on Israeli ambulances carrying Syrian fighters “irresponsible.” In one of the attacks, an injured fighter was dragged from the ambulance and beaten to death. The Druze-Israeli attackers believed the men were members of the rebel forces from the Al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaida in Syria that has harmed the Druze in Syria.

    Israel has primarily dealt with non-jihadist rebels, a Defense Ministry official said, according to Reuters.

    Israel treats wounded from the civil war in the field and at local hospitals regardless of what side they are fighting for. More than 1,600 wounded Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals during the civil war, according to the IDF.

    “Our general policy is that we are not getting involved in the Syrian war,” Yaalon said.

    He added: “We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty or even accidental fire from Syria into our territory. We will act immediately to strike at those who plant explosives near the border or fire at us.”

    Israel has fired on Syrian positions on the Golan in retaliation for rocket fire believed to be part of the ongoing four-year civil war that has landed in Israeli territory.

    Pine Bush school district settles anti-Semitic lawsuit for $4.5 million [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    NEW YORK (JTA) – The Pine Bush Central School District in upstate New York has agreed to pay nearly $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging widespread anti-Semitic harassment.

    The 2012 lawsuit by five former and current students was due to go to trial next month.

    In the settlement, filed in court papers on Monday, according to The New York Times, district officials also agreed to make significant curriculum and training reforms.

    The suit alleged that officials in the district, located about 90 miles north of Manhattan, long had failed to respond adequately to complaints by the students and their families of pervasive anti-Semitic bullying and harassment.

    The students said they were forced to endure anti-Semitic epithets and jokes about the Holocaust, including Nazi salutes, and to retrieve coins from dumpsters. They also said they were subject to physical violence.

    School officials responded with “deliberate indifference,” according to the lawsuit.

    Until now, Pine Bush officials had fought the suit and argued that they had responded appropriately to the incidents, which took place at the Pine Bush Elementary School, Crispell Middle School and Pine Bush High School.

    The federal judge overseeing the case will retain jurisdiction for three years to enforce the agreement, the Times reported.

    The Pine Bush Central School District serves students in New York’s Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Among the villages included in the district is Bloomingburg, where Hasidic newcomers have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that the local elections board is attempting to disenfranchise them.

    Israel backers rally outside U.N. Human Rights Council [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    (JTA) — About 1,000 Israel supporters demonstrated outside the U.N. Human Rights Council in Switzerland as a commission of inquiry presented a report on last summer’s Israel-Gaza conflict.

    The participants in the Geneva rally on Monday represented more than 80 nongovernmental organizations and came from a dozen countries.

    At the protest, Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, near the border with Gaza, described how the kibbutz residents were nearly murdered during the conflict when terrorists emerged from a tunnel from Gaza.

    “I am disappointed by the tone at times of the Human Rights Council which insinuates that Israel does not demand accountability from her army,” Raemer said. “I know that in the process of protecting my community, our soldiers have put their lives at risk to save innocent Palestinian lives, aborting vital missions when non-combatant Palestinians were in harm’s way.”

    Also Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told a closed meeting that he would consider leaving the Human Rights Council over the United Nations body’s report issued last week that said both Israel and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes during last summer’s 50-day conflict. Army Radio reported on the closed meeting on Monday evening.

    Israel and the United States boycotted the Human Rights Council session that discussed the report, which focused more on Israel’s role in the conflict and accepted Palestinian casualty figures. Israel did not cooperate in the investigation, saying the panel commission biased against Israel.

    The council will vote later this week on whether to adopt the report’s findings.

     

    In protest, Rabbi Avi Weiss quits Rabbinical Council of America [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    Weiss leads a vigil and march in New York City in remembrance of the three Israeli boys who were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank days earlier, June 30, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    Weiss leads a vigil and march in New York City in remembrance of the three Israeli boys who were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank days earlier, June 30, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK (JTA) — Rabbi Avi Weiss is quitting the Rabbinical Council of America to protest its failure to admit as members rabbis whose sole ordination is from the rabbinical school he founded.

    The RCA, the main association of modern Orthodox rabbis in America, has yet to grant membership to rabbis who have been ordained only from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Weiss established the rabbinical seminary in 2000 as an alternative to Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

    Chovevei Torah, which is located at Weiss’ synagogue, ordains a handful of rabbis each year and is now led by Rabbi Asher Lopatin.

    After Chovevei Torah graduates failed to gain membership to the RCA, Weiss co-founded an alternative rabbinic group, the International Rabbinic Fellowship.

    “As an act of protest I have not paid my dues to the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and have now allowed my membership to lapse,” Weiss wrote in an email message on Monday. “I have chosen to leave the RCA foremost because of its attitude towards Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), the rabbinical school I founded years ago.

    “If YCT rabbis – with YCT semikha only – cannot join the RCA, neither can I be part of this rabbinical group,” Weiss wrote.

    The RCA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

    Weiss has been a frequent critic of the RCA, most recently for centralizing control of Orthodox conversions in America.

    Shortly after Weiss made his announcement, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, leader of the Ohev Shalom synagogue in Washington and a former assistant rabbi to Weiss at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, announced that he, too, was quitting the RCA.

    Palestinian prisoner in Israel ends 55-day hunger strike [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian jailed in Israel ended his 55-day hunger strike after Israel agreed to free him.

    Khader Adnan, 37, stopped the strike on Sunday night after Israeli authorities said they would release him in two weeks, his attorney told the Palestinian news agency Maan. Israel agreed after Adnan withdrew his demand that Israel guarantee that it would not rearrest him.

    The announcement came days after the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern that Adnan was near death.

    Adnan was protesting his being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial. Other prisoners also joined the strike.

    A prisoner can be held in administrative detention, without charges being brought, for up to six months. The detention can be renewed indefinitely.

    It is the second time that Adnan has undertaken a prolonged hunger strike. In 2012, he went on a 66-day strike to protest his administrative detention. Adnan was later released in exchange for ending his hunger strike.

    He has been held by Israel since being rearrested nearly a year ago for “activities that threaten regional security.”

    The decision to release Adnan comes as the Knesset debates versions of a bill that would allow the force feeding of hunger-striking prisoners.

    NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), June 29 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

    The Whatipu Cave Dances [RNZ: New Zealand Society]

    A giant cave on Auckland's wild West Coast used to be the city's most memorable - and most mysterious - ballroom. Dances were held for more than sixty years at the Great Cave at Whatipu but are now just a memory. Cartoonist Dylan Horrocks captured it all in a billboard commissioned by the Waitakere City Council. He talks to Justin Gregory about the legend of the Whatipu Cave Dances.

    Botswana debates whether community radio encourages “tribalism” [Radio Survivor]

    An advisory group to the Parliament of Botswana has unanimously endorsed the establishment of community radio stations in that southern African country to “mitigate communication breakdown between Dikgosi and their communities.” Dikgosi is the plural for Kgosi, a Setswana word for tribal chief. The problem, as the advisory board Ntlo ya Dikgosi sees it, is that […]

    The post Botswana debates whether community radio encourages “tribalism” appeared first on Radio Survivor.

    Washington Free Beacon causes US State Department to act like spoiled children. In front of Europe, too. [RedState]

    Today’s event, of course, elevates the Washington Free Beacon. After all, this is not exactly a bad time to have a reputation for being personally hated by the Obama administration.  In fact, I kind of wish for that status myself:

    Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the eve of an expected nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Two State Department officials booted theFree Beacon from a room where Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was talking to reporters, despite the Free Beacon’s being credentialed by the Austrian government for the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks.

    …I don’t suppose that we can count on the Hard Left side of the ‘Sphere to do something dumb, like endorse this move by State. Aside from the precedent that it’d be forming – a precedent that will be used against them, starting in 2017 – it’s not really in their own class interests, if I may be indulged in putting in quasi-religious terms that might be more familiar to them. Sure, the temptation to screech like a banshee and throw things will be (as usual) strong for the Hard Left – but presumably they’ll figure out soon enough that such a thing would be counterproductive in this particular case.  Presumably.

    Moe Lane (crosspost)

    *Oops, did I type that out?

    PS: I understand that Left and East Coast urban-academic liberal types don’t get out much, but they do understand that Europe is used to seeing journalists cheerfully causing trouble, yes? And that Europe has a generally low opinion of the second-string team running American foreign policy these days, right? And that State just made eyes roll in derision all over Vienna and Brussels, correct? …What’s that? The Left didn’t know all of that? Well, I suppose one must make allowances for provincials.

    The post Washington Free Beacon causes US State Department to act like spoiled children. In front of Europe, too. appeared first on RedState.

    Terrell Owens Has Some Advice for Social Conservatives [RedState]

    owens

    Terrell Owens was a mess of a human being – but in his prime, he was one hell of a wide receiver. In his heyday, he was bigger, stronger and faster than anyone who ever tried to cover him. If you attempted to defend T.O. by covering him with one defensive back, you were asking for him to beat you all by himself, as evidenced by one fateful day in 2000 in which he abused my Chicago Bears to the tune of 20 receptions for 283 yards. Yeah, in one single game.

    Over time, however, T.O. became known as much for his colorful and flamboyant celebrations after touchdown catches as he did for his football ability or even for his not inconsiderable personal problems (which, from my layman’s perspective, probably included some serious battles with mental illness and at least one probable suicide attempt). Wikipedia has compiled a fairly complete list of his post-touchdown antics here – of which the most famous was probably his dive into the star at the 50-yard line of Cowboys Stadium while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. The central theme of Owens’ public persona was that almost everyone (except for the fans of the various teams he played for) hated his excessively gaudy post-touchdown celebrations.

    Towards the end of his career, Owens gave an interview with SportsCenter and was asked the question if he ever intended to tone down his celebrations or if he cared that they seemed to rub almost everyone the wrong way. Owens’ response, essentially, was “not really,” followed by a statement that social conservatives would do well to take to heart after last week’s Obergefell decision: “If you don’t want me celebrating, keep me out of the end zone.”

    Easier said than done, but still the only proven way to shut up an obnoxious gloater.

    I thought about good old Terrell Owens and his words a lot this weekend as I was mostly unplugged from the Internet due to coaching a weekend baseball tournament. Although I wasn’t really commenting on twitter or Facebook or responding to many emails, I saw a lot of legitimate (and probably well-deserved) anguish from conservatives about what a bunch of obnoxious, football-spiking douchebags liberals have been in the wake of the Obergefell decision. My own thoughts on the decision are set forth at some length here – personally, I am not upset with the result but am very upset and disturbed about the process that was used to obtain it. And I, too, have found the distasteful gloating and hatred towards sincere Christians to be as insufferable and tiresome as anything that has come out of the Westboro Baptist Church in the other direction over the last few years.

    So here the social conservatives are. A weekend of complaining and kvetching about the obnoxiousness of liberals has passed. Now what?

    Well, look, you and I both know that they are not done trying to score touchdowns and spike footballs. As Erick has noted, they are already on the march again. Here is the reality: if social conservatives adopt the same game plan for keeping liberals out of the end zone again, then once again they will be gnashing their teeth about the obnoxious post-victory celebration the liberals are enjoying.

    By and large, the social conservative coalition has taken two divergent paths in terms of messaging and tactics. For the most part, the pro-lifers have gotten smart and professional about their tactics. You still have your spokespeople out there who are basically SBC pastors in a new profession, but the movement has also trained and adopted a large swath of spokespeople who make it a concerted point to tailor their message to people who are not devout Evangelical Christians and/or culturally conservative Catholics. The pro-life movement, by and large, has learned to argue without reference to the Bible, God, or religion at all, but rather with respect to actual public policy goals that have illustrated that abortion is a legitimate subject of Government interest – regardless of how one feels about the religious aspects of it.

    The folks who were really involved tooth and nail in the fight against same-sex marriage, quite frankly, did a terrible job of this for the most part. There was a tremendous disconnect between point A in their arsenal – “The Bible defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and the key question people today (for better or worse) demand an answer to – “Why is this view something the government should enforce?” There was a surfeit of people proclaiming a message behind pulpits that their congregations already agreed with, but a dearth of people who were willing to put in the legwork to explain to an increasingly secular world why they should give a crap, from a governmental standpoint.

    SSM opponents have got to get better from a tactical and messaging standpoint in fighting the next battle. Because, as it happens, I stand strongly with them in the next battle – which is to say, respecting the clear First Amendment Free Exercise rights of churches to not participate in SSM if their doctrine so dictates. And not only for that reason, but also because the sickening desire to gleefully gloat over the demise of Christendom by the vanguard of this particular fight should be thwarted, for the good of the Republic as a whole.

    The left’s next touchdown dance will be even worse than this one. We can either complain at their obnoxiousness or we can get to work devising a working plan to prevent it from happening. But to do that, we have to keep them out of the end zone first.

    The post Terrell Owens Has Some Advice for Social Conservatives appeared first on RedState.

    Ensuring #LoveWins [RedState]

    sheep1

    After Friday’s grotesque Supreme Court ruling that grants legal status to homosexual marriages based on the opinion of five people that such a bizarre right is found in the Constitution, I think it is time for Conservatives to get with the program.

    Many of our betters — this would be the 300 or so “Conservatives” who signed an amicus brief extolling the rightousness of trashing marriage — have encouraged us to let this go so we can concentrate on important issues, like the marginal tax rate. Presumably they thought Western Civilization and Christianity didn’t merit a defense.

    We’ve long known that this day was coming. Justice Scalia predicted it when Anthony Kennedy, who now must qualify as the first homosexual Justice*, authored Lawrence versus Texas. In Scalia’s dissent he said:

    Finally, I turn to petitioners’ equal-protection challenge, which no Member of the Court save Justice O’Connor, ante, at 1 (opinion concurring in judgment), embraces: On its face §21.06(a) applies equally to all persons. Men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, are all subject to its prohibition of deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex. To be sure, §21.06 does distinguish between the sexes insofar as concerns the partner with whom the sexual acts are performed: men can violate the law only with other men, and women only with other women. But this cannot itself be a denial of equal protection, since it is precisely the same distinction regarding partner that is drawn in state laws prohibiting marriage with someone of the same sex while permitting marriage with someone of the opposite sex.

    The objection is made, however, that the antimiscegenation laws invalidated in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 8 (1967), similarly were applicable to whites and blacks alike, and only distinguished between the races insofar as the partner was concerned. In Loving, however, we correctly applied heightened scrutiny, rather than the usual rational-basis review, because the Virginia statute was “designed to maintain White Supremacy.” Id., at 6, 11. A racially discriminatory purpose is always sufficient to subject a law to strict scrutiny, even a facially neutral law that makes no mention of race. See Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 241—242 (1976). No purpose to discriminate against men or women as a class can be gleaned from the Texas law, so rational-basis review applies. That review is readily satisfied here by the same rational basis that satisfied it in Bowers–society’s belief that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable,” 478 U.S., at 196. This is the same justification that supports many other laws regulating sexual behavior that make a distinction based upon the identity of the partner– for example, laws against adultery, fornication, and adult incest, and laws refusing to recognize homosexual marriage.

    Kennedy’s decision on Friday continued the path he has taken since discovering the Right to Buggery hidden among the brambles of Equal Protection. Take a moment and read it. It is breathtaking in its implications:

    This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The four principles and traditions to be discussed demonstrate that the
    reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.

    A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. This abiding connection between marriage and liberty is why Loving invalidated interracial marriage bans under the Due Process Clause. See 388 U. S., at 12; see also Zablocki, supra, at 384 (observing Loving held “the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals”). Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make. See Lawrence, supra, at 574. Indeed, the Court has noted it would be contradictory “to recognize a right of privacy with respect to other matters of family life and not with respect to the decision to enter the relationship that is the foundation of the family in our society.” Zablocki, supra, at 386.

    Choices about marriage shape an individual’s destiny. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has explained, because “it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.” Goodridge, 440 Mass., at 322, 798 N. E. 2d, at 955.

    The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. See Windsor, 570 U. S., at ___– ___ (slip op., at 22–23). There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices. Cf. Loving, supra, at 12 (“[T]he freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State”).

    What Kennedy has done is create a realm of anarchy where personal “dignity” outweighs the ability of society to constrain it. It actually fulfills the Jeremiad of Rick Santorum:

    And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.

    The language used by Kennedy was so striking that even Chief Justice John Roberts paused to consider that words might actually have meanings:

    Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.

    It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” ante, at 13, why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” ante, at 15, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” ante, at 22, serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships?

    Let’s be serious, polygamy actually has a history among humans while homosexuality has consistently been both denigrated if not out right legally proscribed. If I had to point to which is a greater danger to society, the acceptance of homosexual marriages or the acceptance of a traditional institution like polygamy, it isn’t even close. Polygamy makes sense economically and from a child rearing point of view. Polygamy, while not without faults, seems to be the very institution a society populated by unwed mothers and feckless hipsters cries out for. In the words of the late mil blogger Carrol LeFon, aka Neptunus Lex, when discussing the merits of the single seat F/A-18 with the two-seat F-14; any man who needs two wives should be allowed to have them.

    Kennedy’s decision also calls into question laws against bigamy. There is no way laws forbidding incestuous marriages can possibly survive the level of Constitutional scrutiny in Obergefell. It is extremely doubtful that laws against bestiality can survive. We already allow ownership of animals which includes the right to euthanize them at will. It is hard to see why having sex with Fido, if it is important to your dignity  and autonomy  as a person, could be illegal because now we know that there is no place in American jurisprudence for moral judgment. I don’t know that this can extend to marriage per se, but we’ve already crossed that threshold of allowing animals to inherit money so it is hard to see why marriage is all that different.

    I think the strategy of fighting this battle, as Texas has elected to do, is self-defeating. The homosexual community and those who fetishize homosexuality (like the aforementioned conservatives) should get to see the full impact of Kennedy’s decision. We’ve been told we are hateful bigots for upholding the established values of civilization. Now that marriage has been destroyed by the Supreme Court, there is no possible reason why we shouldn’t get with the program. State legislatures, particularly conservative ones, should act immediately to remove any legal barrier to any marriage whatsoever. And when those polyamorous, zoophiliac groupings show up in California and New York… because you know that’s were they will head… let those states take the lead in setting limits on the inherent dignity and autonomy of matrimony.

    *I have no first hand knowledge of Justice Kennedy’s sexual preferences and even less interest. But if Bill Clinton can be the “first black president”, it seems that Justice Kennedy has been the sugar daddy of the homosexual rights and privileges  coalition and certainly has earned the right to be called the First Homosexual Supreme Court Justice.

    The post Ensuring #LoveWins appeared first on RedState.

    Don’t Be Paranoid. It Doesn’t Affect You. [RedState]

    Don’t be paranoid about the Supreme Court making same-sex marriage legal in the United States. Long have opponents warned of a legal slippery slope, but mainly because they are fear-mongers who are full of H8. The fact is, those gay couples getting married doesn’t affect you or your dumb religion in any way at all.

    TexExempt


    Nobody is going to have to change the way they live, and there won’t be some kind of backlash against Christianity.


    SpatOn


    Certainly no one’s speech is going to be limited, curtailed, or crushed. America won’t be driving debate from the public square.


    OpEds


    And the slippery slope argument is ridiculous and, frankly, homophobic. In this day and age it is actually a cruel attack to make those comparisons, you jerks.


    GroupMarriage

    Polygamy


    After all, Europe has been way ahead of the United States in making same sex marriage legal and everything is fine there.


    SSM

    OK? So geez, just let it go already.

    The post Don’t Be Paranoid. It Doesn’t Affect You. appeared first on RedState.

    Obergefell and Guns [RedState]

    For supporters of traditional marriage and, more broadly, social conservatives, the Obergefell decision has obviously been a huge disappointment. Using the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause, the Supreme Court invented a fundamental right to marriage, in particular, same-sex marriage. It is by no means an adequate consolation prize, but the interpretation of the amendment by the court might open the way to further gun rights reforms. Over at our Salem sister site Bearing Arms, Bob Owens has spent a good deal of time covering this. On Friday, he posted about how the decision could be used to argue for nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. In essence, he says:

    The vast majority of states are “shall issue” on the matter of issuing concealed carry permits, and enjoy reciprocity with a large number of other states.

    My North Carolina concealed carry permit, for example, was recognized yesterday as being valid in 36 states, which just so happened to be the number of states in which gay marriage was legal yesterday. But 14 states did not recognize my concealed carry permit yesterday.

    Today they must.

    Using the same “due process clause” argument as the Supreme Court just applied to gay marriage, my concealed carry permit must now be recognized as valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    I am opposed to the kind of legislating from the bench that the Supreme Court used to arrive at its decision in Obergefell, but I must confess that I find the thought of taking this argument before the court intriguing. The Supreme Court might no longer be an ally of conservatives, but the have been friendly to gun rights in the recent past, meaning there’s a chance the argument might hold up.

    What makes Owens’ argument even more interesting, as he discovered over the weekend, is that the Second Amendment was specifically invoked in an amicus brief against gay marriage filed by Marc Greendorfer for the Obergefell case. Here’s what Greendorfer says:

    The most obvious example is the Second Amend- ment right to keep and bear arms. One day, this Court will have to explain how sweeping restrictions on every aspect of firearms ownership and use can be upheld yet traditional and long-standing regulations on marriage cannot be tolerated in any form or in any jurisdiction. In the wake of this Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) (finding an individual right to keep and bear arms) a number of state and local governments imposed draconian restrictions on firearms, claiming that the restrictions were reasonable and common sense, and did not infringe the core right protected by the Second Amendment. See, e.g., Marc A. Greendorfer, And the Ban Played On: The “Public Safety” Threat to Individual Rights, available at http://papers.ssrn. com/abstract=2426704 (examining post-Heller lower court decisions to demonstrate the extent to which Heller was used to impose even greater infringements on the Second Amendment right). Much of the justification for recognizing a right to same sex marriage in the instant case rests on the claim that same sex couples have children that are harmed by the denial of marriage licenses.

    The majority’s ruling on the subject did not, as far as I can tell from the ruling, make any attempt to limit their interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process solely to the subject of same sex marriage. Justice Kennedy’s ruling utilized broad and sweeping, not narrow, language on the subject. Moreover, the Supreme Court must have read Greendorfer’s amicus curiae as part of their due diligence for the case.

    As I said before, none of this is a consolation prize for the Pandora’s Box opened by this ruling. Furthermore, I am opposed to legislating from the bench, but it would nevertheless be interesting to see how an argument like Owens and Greendorfer’s holds up under future scrutiny. Our legal system is one bound by precedent, so it’s entirely possible that a court will find it a valid assertion.

    Regardless, it is my hope that this ruling is one day overturned. That might be all but a pipe dream, but I think it is something we should still be working on. Part of that includes working to persuade people; part of that means working on getting better leaders in Washington, both elected and on the judiciary; and part of that is just good old fashioned prayer.

    The post Obergefell and Guns appeared first on RedState.

    Autocrats on the March [RedState]

    Download Podcast | iTunes | Podcast Feed

    On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Francis Cianfrocca to discuss the rise of modern autocrats, how they are different from their 20th century predecessors and if freedom can halt their advance.

    Related Links:

    Modern Autocrats Are on the March
    The Forward March of Democracy Halted?

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    The hosts and guests of Coffee and Markets speak only for ourselves, not any clients or employers.

    The post Autocrats on the March appeared first on RedState.

    Aren’t We Yet Tired of the Feds Being Totally Wrong – Or Lying to Us? [RedState]

    Gassy assertions by government officials are, of course, a given. Very few groups of people are more wrong, more consistently – yet with more confidence – than the people who lord over us.

    There are only two possible explanations. They are either really, really ill informed and naive. Or they know they’re wrong – and they are each respectively lying both of their faces off.

    Let’s revisit just a few.

    Obama Promises To Lower Health Insurance Premiums by $2,500 Per Year

    Except:

    Thank You, ObamaCare: Families Pay $3000 More for Insurance

    And:

    A Montage of Obama’s “If You Like Your (Health Care) Plan Keep It”

    Except:

    100 Million More Could Lose Insurance Under ObamaCare

    And:

    Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive

    Except:

    Hillary Clinton: Source of the Benghazi Video Lie

    Seton Motley | Red State | RedState.com

    The mis-assertions endlessly abound.

    Obama’s Top 20 Presidential Lies

    Five Lies That Have Shaped the Obama Presidency

    Obama Administration Just Got Caught in a Massive Lie …

    Officials Masked Severity Of (Chinese OPM) Hack

    The Obama Administration’s Useful Lie About Iran Talks

    And on, and on, and….

    So on to the next set of…questionable assertions.

    In February, the Barack Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – specifically, the Commission’s three unelected Democrat bureaucrats – fundamentally transformed how the government regulates the Internet.

    These three unilaterally imposed 1934 landline telephone law – passed by Congress eighty-one years ago – onto a Web that didn’t even exist until roughly twenty years ago.

    This is not just Network Neutrality – which is awful enough. And has already been twice previously imposed by the FCC – and twice unanimously rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court.

    This is Net Neutrality – plus the full boat government-mandated-monopoly regime of massive amounts of regulations and lots and lots of taxes.

    Leading the charge is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler – previously seen being a two-time campaign cash bundler for President Obama. And look – he’s promising government restraint.

    But fret not, the regulators tell us. They will wield just some – and not all – of their massive new powers. They will practice forbearance.

    “(F)orbearance” refers to a special magic power that Congress gave the FCC…which gives the FCC the power to say “you know that specific provision of law that Congress passed? We decide it really doesn’t make sense for us to enforce it in some particular case, so we will forbear” (hence the term forbearance’) from enforcing it.

    Because we all know how restrained government always is. There will be omni-directional, near-limitless powers and taxes to wield – but the wielders are promising they won’t wield them.

    Except:

    FCC Chairman ‘Will Not Let Up’ On Broadband Regulation

    Doesn’t sound very forbearance-y to me.

    The promises continue.

    FCC Claims Dire Net Neutrality Predictions Are Unfounded

    FCC’s Wheeler Says Net Neutrality Doesn’t Hurt Investment

    Except:

    (B)ecause it distorts the operator investment business decision, net neutrality has the potential to significantly discourage infrastructure investment.

    Because massive new government intervention never increases the cost of doing business. Like ObamaCare didn’t increase the cost of doing business. Like all government intervention doesn’t increase the costs of doing business.

    Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

    If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking…ahead of India.

    No big deal, they say.

    Net Neutrality Starts with a Whimper

    Really?

    First FCC Net Neutrality Case Hits AT&T with $100 Million Fine

    That’s a really expensive whimper.

    See what the government did there? In the name of “protecting consumers,” they take for themselves a ton of money. From a company – that will of course have to pass that exorbitant cost on to their consumers. Not so much pro-consumer – as pro-government.

    Does government move as fast as the private sector? Not so much.

    FCC to Start Work on (Net Neutrality) Broadband Privacy in Fall

    Which means the government imposed massive new regulations in February. Which they didn’t define before imposing them – and won’t define for at least half a year after.

    Would you invest in a sector where the regulations are amorphous and undefined? And will be for an indeterminate amount of time going forward? And could change yet again, over and over, at any moment – if a bureaucrat decides to change his or her mind about forbearance?

    Neither would I.

    We’ll close with the broadest possible government Socialism.

    FCC Chair: “Broadband Should Be Available To Everyone Everywhere”

    Does that to you sound like a government looking to limit itself – as promised?

    Not to me either.

    The post Aren’t We Yet Tired of the Feds Being Totally Wrong – Or Lying to Us? appeared first on RedState.

    What Actually Comes Next [RedState]

    Less than forty-eight hours after King Anthony sovereignly provided new theology for our secular, civil religion, the left is now publicly calling for the abolition of tax-exempt status for religious non-profits and churches.

    It will come. It has to come. If gay marriage is a fundamental right under the equal protection clause, it is going to trump a lot of the first amendment. As Chief Justice Roberts noted, King Anthony’s theology precludes “free exercise” of religion.

    But all of this is down the road a few years. Let me tell you what is going to happen first.

    Silence.

    A newspaper in Pennsylvania has declared it will no longer allow letters to the editor opposed to gay marriage because it is a fundamental right.

    BuzzFeed declared that, in its editorial position, there is no position other than support for gay marriage.

    Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, banned all apps from its store that display the Confederate flag. That had to be walked back a bit, but there you have it.

    The Los Angeles Times refuses to run letters pointing out that global warming is a scam.

    And now, Apple and Facebook are set to develop news platforms that will have a human curator, instead of a computer algorithm. Twitter, likewise, is engaging humans on trending news topics, etc. It is only a matter of time because Google works its algorithm magic to drive down links to those who oppose the new cultural agenda.

    So we will see orthodox Christian voices disappear from most news channels. The left are master propagandists. One of the chief tricks of the propagandist is to convince you that you are all alone. Everyone else thinks otherwise. So an Apple that celebrates gay rights and bans what it thinks is hate is only one step from prohibiting a Russell Moore piece through its news service.

    Facebook can devalue conservatives and shut them down.

    Twitter can declare support for traditional marriage to be hate and turn off accounts, mine included.

    Newspapers, radio stations, and television networks who long ago embraced the idea that people are born gay despite ample evidence to the contrary in most (but not all) cases, will reach further. If you are a talk radio show host who supports traditional marriage, get ready for your parent company to tell you that is no longer allowed. After all, it is a fundamental right.

    A CNN that was celebratory on its twitter feed after the gay marriage ruling can hardly be expected to allow on any pundit who dissents without treating that person as a contemptible bigot. MSNBC will run news stories on the rise in hate groups that, no doubt, the Southern Poverty Law Center will list. That list will include all orthodox Christian churches.

    The left has worked very hard to control information. They will now work extra hard to push conservatives forcibly into a ghetto of thought. The overarching goal will be to convince you that no one agrees with you and there are no voices echoing you.

    Just remember, you are not alone.

    The post What Actually Comes Next appeared first on RedState.

    Oh Brave New World [RedState]

    Texas’s Attorney General Ken Paxton has released a letter with guidance that I suspect we will see around the country. The question is whether county clerks, county employees, justices of the peace, etc. must be compelled to issue a license for a gay marriage.

    The answer, as it should be, is no dependent on facts. If there are others in the office who can do it, the job can be delegated.

    We should be living and letting live. I suspect much of the left will object to this. But they’re still getting their marriage licenses. They’re just not compelling the conscientious objector to do it. As we’re seeing though, there can be no conscientious objectors. You must be made to care.

    The post Oh Brave New World appeared first on RedState.

    Big Bang Theory [Small Dead Animals]

    "Let's focus our space agency on Muslim outreach", they said. "What could go wrong?", they said.

    My Big Fat Greek Bankruptcy (Bumped) [Small Dead Animals]

    Foxnews: Greek banks will not open Monday

    Update: Greek Banks And Stock Exchange In Shutdown

    WSJ Blog;

    It now looks almost inevitable that Greece will default on a €1.54 billion ($1.69 billion) payment due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday. Much is at stake beyond the IMF's balance sheet. What happens to Greece itself? What happens to the euro, a purportedly unbreakable currency union, and the Continent's attempt to recreate itself as a global economic superpower? What happens in the capital markets, which have feasted on cheap debt and assumed all risks were contained?

    Greeks Bearing Debts

    This Is Not Your Grandma's Humane Society [Small Dead Animals]

    I honestly couldn't care less that you adopted a dog from a shelter. Your self aggrandizing ego trip is like that Song That Never Ends. On and on and on you go about how you saved a life, you are a hero, you have done something worthwhile in this life.

    Yay, you.

    What Would We Do Without Peer Review? [Small Dead Animals]

    Retraction Watch:

    It began with a retraction due to a "misstatement" in November 2012, which led to an investigation that found the first author, James E. Hunton, guilty of misconduct. Now, the floodgates have opened, and Hunton has 31 retractions under his belt, making him the newest addition to the Retraction Watch leaderboard.

    Y2Kyoto: I'll Miss The Antarctic Penguins [Small Dead Animals]

    Somebody's napping at the Washington Post. These reports don't generally survive the filter;

    Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

    Related? ...the UK MET office has published a study which suggests solar activity is currently plummeting, the fastest rate of decline in 9300 years. The study also raises the odds of Maunder Minimum style conditions by 2050 from 8% to 15 - 20%.

    The Erratic Pieties of Mr Monbiot [Small Dead Animals]

    Yes, the Guardian's chronically unhappy and tormented George Monbiot, who one week claims that austerity is crushing the poor and is "an assault on public life," and then another week calls for his readers to "riot for austerity. Riot for less." Because, says he, economic growth is "a political sedative," a tool of false consciousness, "snuffing out protest" in our dulled, befuddled minds. And so Mr Monbiot denounces "the blackened waste of consumer frenzy," by which he means shopping, and instead wants "a campaign not for more freedom but for less... a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves." "Unpleasant as it will be," says George, and while "some people [will] lose their jobs and homes," austerity and recession will avert "ecological collapse," while saving us from those jet skis and diamond saucepans that we're all intent on buying, and the mere existence of which deprives him of sleep.

    One of these.

    Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

    Whether we're talking about murder, mayhem or rage, keep it light, keep it bright, Keep It Gay!.

    The comments are open for your Reader Tips.

    Morning Links: Typewriter Turns Printer. Amazon Hysteria [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

    typewriter-1-820x420Geek turns old-school typewriter into a printer (Slash Gear)
    A geek named Chris Gregg wanted to convert an old-school typewriter to a printer that could be controlled by his computer. To start the project he laid hands on a Smith Corona electric typewriter from the 60s to use for the project. His original goal was to use the computer to drive the key switches without actually having to touch the keys of the typewriter.

    TeleRead Take: I love stories about creative repurposing of gadgets.
    ***

    The Great Amazon Hysteria… Part 31 (David Gaughran)
    So, change. Lots of it. And change can be scary – even if you seem to be benefitting from the changes that are happening. I get that. However, at this point, we should all know enough to treat media reports on Amazon (and publishing in general) with the requisite amount of skepticism. As in 100% skepticism.

    TeleRead Take: You’d think we’d be immune to media hysteria by now. Apparently not. Soon after he published this article, someone tweeted at him that he was completely wrong. The new payment scheme was definitely going to apply to purchased books. Which made me wonder, how would that even work? The record keeping alone would be a nightmare.
    ***

    Disneyland and Walt Disney World Officially Ban Selfie Sticks (Gizmodo)
    If you’re thinking of visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World this summer you better keep your selfie stick at home. That’s right, the Happiest Place[s] on Earth have officially banned everyone’s favorite techno-panic of 2015.

    TeleRead Take: Confession time. I don’t like selfie sticks, and I’m glad I won’t have to deal with them the next time I visit Disney.
    ***

    Stop Pre-ordering Video Games (Kotaku)
    More than anything else—the advertising, the budgets, the DLC—it’s the culture surrounding pre-orders that is most responsible for the trail of broken and unfinished games that clutter the sales charts, and for the anger and angst that follow in its wake.

    TeleRead Take: I’m not a big gamer and mostly play ancient games from GOG when I do play. But reading this made me wonder how much of it, if any of it would apply to books, especially incredibly hyped books from big publishers. I used to pre-order ebooks because sometimes there’d be a one-day price drop during the pre-order period, and I’d get to take advantage of it through no effort on my part. With the new pricing contracts, I’m wondering if it’s worth it anymore on trad pub books. Happy to still help out my fellow indies (have two on pre-order right now).
    ***

    Kindle Daily Deals: 5 Marty Singer mysteries (and others)

    The post Morning Links: Typewriter Turns Printer. Amazon Hysteria appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

    Microsoft to release Visual Studio 2015 ahead of Windows 10 [The Register]

    The question: how much new stuff will still be in preview?

    Microsoft will release Visual Studio 2015, along with .Net Framework 4.6 and the Team Foundation Server 2015 source code management and collaboration product, on July 20, nine days ahead of the general availability of Windows 10, according to an announcement by developer veep S "Soma" Somasegar.…

    Redmond Uber-alles: Bing staffers heading to dial-a-car developer [The Register]

    Microsoft sells off mapping outfit to SF auto-pusher

    Microsoft has agreed to sell off part of its Bing operation to Uber.…

    Supreme Court ignores Google's whinging in Java copyright suit [The Register]

    Sound of Larry Ellison rubbing his hands heard all the way in Mountain View

    The US Supreme Court has declined to hear Google's appeal of Oracle's case against it in the matter of the Java API copyrights, leaving it up to a lower court to decide what - if any - damages Google owes.…

    Chap slapped in Dogecoin crap app flap [The Register]

    Much FTC! Very mislead! Such settlement!

    The FTC settled with an app developer accused of hijacking smartphones for digital currency mining.…

    Rogue IT is shadow of its former self [The Register]

    We are all partners now, CompTIA study reveais

    “Rogue IT” - the practice of business units secretly sidestepping the IT department to procure their own tech - is in decline.…

    US police to throw big balls in criminals' faces [The Register]

    Bounce cameras map out dodgy situations

    Video  Next month, 100 US police departments will start deploying a new, ball-shaped camera that can be thrown into dangerous areas to scout out life-threatening situations.…

    Apple's mystery auto project siphoning staff from other divisions [The Register]

    Cook and Co still want to take to the roads – but how?

    Apple is investing significant resources into a car-related project, so much so that it's been reassigning employees from other divisions, insiders claim.…

    Apple Music available on Sonos by end of this year [The Register]

    No word yet if they'll go all the way up to eleven

    Apple’s streaming music service will be available on Sonos’ streaming Wi-Fi speaker set-up by the end of the year.…

    French Uber bosses talk to Le Plod over 'illicit activity' allegations [The Register]

    Euro nation targets not-a-taxi-firm-honest's chiefs

    Two Uber bosses have been talking to police in France after being accused of engaging in "illicit activity".…

    Google harms consumers and strangles the open web, says study [The Register]

    Plurality? Diversity?

    A study into search engine users’ behaviour claims that Google’s favourable treatment of its own services results in consumer harm, and will make the web less diverse.…

    Leap second boffins prepare to fiddle with the FABRIC of TIME [The Register]

    Tuesday might – but probably won't – bork everyone's clouds

    Time could be up for leap seconds later this year, if Tuesday night's addition of one second to the world's time is judged to be a success.…

    Linux bids for UAV world domination by enslaving future skybot army [The Register]

    Dronecode initiative gains momentum

    The Dronecode open-source UAV platform initiative has announced that it has welcomed on board a raft of new members, who'll help drive the project towards becoming a de facto standard for consumer and commercial drones.…

    The Great Windows Server 2003 migration: How to plan your trip [The Register]

    Making the most of your end-of-life experience

    Think switching OS is bad? There are just weeks left to migrate away from Windows Server 2003 before support for the operating system runs out. At this point, if a CIO hasn’t yet taken action, CEOs should be getting involved.…

    We’re in bed together, admit Intel Security, Trend Micro and NCA [The Register]

    Infosec firms confirm they're dating – but not exclusively

    The UK's National Crime Agency has enlisted two leading security firms as part of a collaborative intelligence-sharing effort.…

    China's best phone yet: Huawei P8 5.2-inch money-saving Android smartie [The Register]

    Sleepless in South Korea

    Review  Huawei’s P8 has finally rolled into UK shops, the latest wave of China’s assault on Tier One Android flagships.…

    HP one of the fairest, claims Gartner's magic quadrant on the wall [The Register]

    Dell, HDS non-inclusion could be seen as a distortion

    Gartner has announced that HP has joined the leaders in its all-flash array magic quadrant, while Violin Memory, Nimbus Data and Cisco have been demoted, and Dell and HDS are excluded altogether from the MQ because of the research giant's peculiar classification criteria.…

    'Private' biz Xiaomi sets up Communist Party exec committee [The Register]

    It's 'almost unheard of for the party to hinder the private sector', so shut up

    Xiaomi has formed its own internal Communist Party committee, raising eyebrows amongst those expecting less state involvement in the nation's burgeoning technology sector.…

    Tech Mahindra posts profit warning: The end for Indian outsourcing? [The Register]

    ‘Seasonally weak’ mobility business to blame

    Indian outsourcer Tech Mahindra, which bought disgraced rival Satyam in 2012, has issued a profit warning — the first sign of trouble in the buoyant market for some time.…

    Sky bangs on Ofcom's door – demands BT competition probe [The Register]

    But former state monopoly claims Openreach split would harm UK market

    Blighty's communications watchdog declined this morning to comment on Sky's demands for an in-depth competition probe of BT's broadband biz.…

    Ofcom: We need 5G spectrum planning for the future’s ultramobes [The Register]

    We’ll just have to make decisions based on ‘imperfect knowledge’

    Despite the majority of Reg readers thinking that 5G can wait, there needs to be some planning as to how spectrum will be allocated if the same frequencies are to be made available globally.…

    Windows 10 Mobile is shaping up nicely – now Cortana can send emails [The Register]

    Microsoft's next phone OS looks to be in better shape than the PC version

    Microsoft has released Build 10149 of Windows 10 Mobile to members of the Windows Insider preview programme's Fast release ring.…

    Ditching political Elop makes for a more Nadella Microsoft [The Register]

    Getting the Redmond you need?

    Comment  With bad things possibly in the post for Microsoft’s Windows phone business, its commander Stephen Elop has been shown the door by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. As a hardened Elop detractor I literally cheered at the news.…

    Smart meters set to cost Blighty as much as replacing Trident [The Register]

    'Significant issues already exist' with spybox tech, too

    Smart meters will cost as much as the Trident nuclear deterrent to implement, with the full cost of the scheme rising to £19bn, according to a government report.…

    Is that a FAT PIPE or are you just pleased to stream me? TERABIT fibre tested [The Register]

    Trials conducted over a 1,000km long link

    Proximus and Huawei have successfully trialled a super-channel optical signal, flinging out information at up to one terabit per second (Tbps).…

    Github's 'Atom' text editor hits version 1.0 [The Register]

    Emacs' self-appointed heir heads out into the world

    Github's Atom text editor, which it announced back in February 2014, has reached version 1.0.…

    Windows 10 is due in one month: Will it be ready? [The Register]

    It's do-or-die for Microsoft's new operating system on 29 July

    Analysis  The release of Windows 10 is set for 29 July, just one month from now. It will be a significant moment, marking the first Windows 10 release in a wave that will eventually include Windows Mobile and Xbox, and is critically important to Microsoft following the poor reception for Windows 8.…

    Sophos' putrid patch snuffs Citrix kit, kills call centre [The Register]

    Web appliance update can't be rolled back, takes portal down for 48 hours

    A Sophos Web Appliance update has crashed users' PC fleets including knocking offline the Australian call centre of a global company for two days after support was quietly revoked for SSL 3.0 ciphers used in Citrix Receiver.…

    Giant male member spontaneously ejaculates over Norway [The Register]

    Man shoots glittery seed indiscriminately on unsuspecting public for charity

    Under normal circumstances, creeping up on members of the public and emulating the sin of Onan upon their person would land you in jail. Unless its for charity – which apparently makes it OK.…

    Microsoft says Oculus Rift distorts world, grinds corrective lenses [The Register]

    Free-to-download CAD file makes for better virtu-blinker goggles, insists Redmond

    Someone at Microsoft Research is apparently unimpressed with Oculus Rift's perspective on the world, so has corrected it with lenses that give you Microsoft's view of things.…

    Android's sun sets on Eclipse [The Register]

    Devs told to move to Android Studio

    Google has decided Android Studio is all you need to make apps, and by the end of the year will no longer support the venerable but popular Eclipse IDE.…

    Turnbullnomics trashed as Oz regulator cuts telecoms prices [The Register]

    Order for 9.6 per cent cut in wholesale prices is BAD NEWS according to comms minister

    A bunch of Australian fixed telephony and broadband users are about to suffer under a regime of lower prices.…

    VMware, Microsoft in virtualised Exchange blog battle [The Register]

    Virtzilla accuses Redmond of requiring silos and running a dicky calculator

    Microsoft's Exchange Server has a reputation as being hard to virtualise under hypervisors other than Redmond's own Hyper-V, a state of affairs that has led to more than occasional suggestions that Microsoft might just like it that way.…

    Cloud storage is a three-way race with no contenders [The Register]

    AWS, Google and Azure in front, but archiving not core workloads are the sweet spot

    The cloud storage market is a three-way race with the trailing pack choosing to occupy niches rather than challenge the leaders, according to the market scryers of Gartner.…

    Ransomware slinging exploit kit targets Flash remote code execution [The Register]

    CVE-2015-3113: Patch or pay.

    Attackers have added a recent dangerous Adobe vulnerability to the Magnitude exploit kit, according to respected independent malware researcher "Kafeine".…

    Guest-host escape bug sees Xen project urge rapid upgrade [The Register]

    Xen hypervisor v.4.5.1 offers over 100 fixes and improvements

    The Xen Project has released version 4.5.1 of its eponymous hypervisor and recommended that users upgrade, stat.…

    Blackhats using mystery Magento card stealers [The Register]

    eBay shop platform targeted

    Sucuri infosec researcher Peter Gramantik says carders are exploiting an unknown vulnerability to steal billing information from e-commerce sites that use eBay's Magento platform.…

    SpaceX postpones next Falcon 9 launch following explosion [The Verge - All Posts]

    The next Falcon 9 rocket launch on SpaceX's schedule has been postponed, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The launch was supposed to deliver NOAA's Jason-3 Earth observation satellite to orbit, and was scheduled for August 9th.

    The announcement comes little more than 24 hours after SpaceX suffered its first mission failure when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its way to the International Space Station. Before that, SpaceX had completed 18 consecutive successful launches of its flagship rocket. The postponed Jason-3 launch was also supposed to be the next test of the Falcon 9's reusability.

    A new launch date has not been set, but a NASA spokesperson tells The Verge that the agency is working with NOAA and...

    Continue reading…

    Listen to Diddy's hyperkinetic new single 'Finna Get Loose' [The Verge - All Posts]

    It's been a crazy week for Diddy: He was arrested for assaulting his son's UCLA football coach with a kettlebell. He led Bad Boy Records' mammoth 20th anniversary celebration (and fell flat on his face) at the BET Awards. Now, he's debuted a new single, a wicked and disjointed Pharrell Williams feature called "Finna Get Loose," as part of the party. It's the newest track cut from Diddy's upcoming album under his Puff Daddy moniker, MMM. The album will be his first solo full-length since 2010's impressive club-R&B odyssey Last Train to Paris.

    The rapping is so-so, but the beat is bananas

    There isn't much to recommend about the rapping on "Finna Get Loose," and that's fine. Diddy isn't renowned for his technique and lyrical ingenuity,...

    Continue reading…

    Uber acquires mapping tech and talent from Microsoft [The Verge - All Posts]

    As it seeks to sharpen its focus, Microsoft confirmed to Recode today that it will no longer be collecting its own mapping data. As part of that transition, it is selling a number of assets to Uber, including a data center, cameras, intellectual property, and roughly 100 engineers.

    News of this transaction, first reported by TechCrunch, highlights Uber's increasing efforts to build its own mapping service. The company recently poached Brian McClendon, a longtime Google executive and key figure in the creation of Google Maps. It is also reportedly bidding on Nokia's "Here" mapping service. Taken together, these data points make it clear that Uber wants to take more control of its business and rely less on its sometimes partner and...

    Continue reading…

    Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear ends not with a bang, but a whimper [The Verge - All Posts]

    I have watched, and rewatched, every episode of Top Gear. I couldn’t help but tune in for the final one with the now-disbanded cast, especially knowing that it was clearly going to be unlike any other. Yesterday, BBC aired it — and it starts with a literal elephant in the room.

    While the show has always been rife with controversy, this series has been particularly controversial. Series 22 — the last starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, it would turn out — started with a trip to Patagonia where the trio made numerous references to the Falklands War, a deadly 1982 conflict with Great Britain. This stirred up enough anger with Argentinian locals that the entire crew was forced to flee to Chile in the middle of the...

    Continue reading…

    Stop saying 'space is hard' [The Verge - All Posts]

    On June 28th, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket meant to deliver supplies to the International Space Station exploded en route. It was the third cargo resupply mission to fail within the past year. In October 28th, 2014, Orbital Sciences’ uncrewed Antares rocket, bound for the station with supplies, exploded shortly after takeoff, and on April 28th, a Russian Progress spacecraft, also stocked with food and hardware, stopped communicating after being launched into space and started spinning wildly out of control.

    Continue reading…

    ZTE's Nubia Z9 shows China can bring great smartphones to the US [The Verge - All Posts]

    Here in the US, it's been hard to get excited about smartphones from China. Huawei is one of the largest smartphone makers in the world and has plenty of interesting phones in its lineup, but it only sells mediocre low-end devices to American consumers. Xiaomi is often praised for its low-cost devices that rival the hardware from Samsung and Apple, but it doesn't sell any phones in the US and there's no indication when it ever might.

    ZTE has often followed a similar approach as Huawei, focusing its efforts in the US on low-end, carrier-branded phones. But this year it has promised to bring the Nubia Z9 to our shores, a bonafide flagship smartphone. The Z9 checks off all of the features one might look for in a flagship Android smartphone...

    Continue reading…

    The real-world architecture of Monument Valley [The Verge - All Posts]

    Minimalism in architecture means smooth surfaces, a limited color and materials palette, a refusal to clutter or adorn. Minimalism builds the should-nots into its structure—if you need to #Konmari afterward, you're not listening—setting out a lifestyle that may be difficult but should reward you with a living space of monochrome dishware, right-angled benches, and columns of natural light. It may result in a building that looks of another world, absent the irrationality (and dirt) of what we commonly refer to as real life.

    Continue reading…

    PayPal makes changes to user agreement after robocall controversy [The Verge - All Posts]

    PayPal is modifying its new user agreement (set to go into effect this week) to "clarify" some terms that initially angered both customers and US lawmakers. Earlier this month, it appeared the new agreement would give PayPal full freedom to pester customers with "autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages" directed at phone numbers registered to their account — and even numbers "otherwise obtained" outside the account setup process. The major concern was that PayPal would use these communications for unwanted advertising and sales calls. Such a move would obviously anger customers, but it would also put the company at odds with the FCC, which has put a huge focus on combatting spam calls and texts in recent years.

    Now, PayPal is...

    Continue reading…

    Scientists discover that male and female mice process pain differently [The Verge - All Posts]

    Do women and men experience chronic pain differently? A new study suggests there may be sex differences when it comes to pain — one that may open doors for better treatment.

    Continue reading…

    Terminator Genisys review: How far can nostalgia carry an ill-advised reboot? [The Verge - All Posts]

    I have this cool idea for a reboot: in the near future, director James Cameron develops time displacement technology and goes back to 1991. There, after Terminator 2’s massive success, he wrests away the rights for the franchise and prevents the world from ever being subjected to the two miserable sequels that followed. It’d be like stopping John Connor, but everybody would thank you for it.

    The latest film in the franchise, Terminator Genisys, has something similar on its mind. It’s a movie that completely ignores everything after Cameron left the series, framing itself as a love letter to his two films while also using them as a jumping off point for a new cast and completely retooled mythology. It’s also the second film this summer...

    Continue reading…

    My Initial Project Status [Transterrestrial Musings]

    For those not backers, but interested in what’s happening, I did a project update this morning: I’m starting to spool up on the project (I expect to actually be funded this week — there’s a two-week delay after the close). Leonard David has a report today that the “Affordable Mars Strategy” report has been published … Continue reading My Initial Project Status

    The Fake IRS Scandal [Transterrestrial Musings]

    The agency has until the end of the month (i.e., this week) to come clean: All thinking Americans are fed up with the arrogance. Entitlement and disdain [sic] for the law demonstrated repeatedly by the IRS officials, especially Commissioner Koskinen, who is now proved by his own Inspector General to have lied to Congress when … Continue reading The Fake IRS Scandal

    The Language Of Leftists [Transterrestrial Musings]

    Yes, they do talk differently, and duplicitously: …here’s another way to look at the results. Liberals talk about politics in language that appeals to our primal socialist instincts, developed on the savanna when we belonged to small clans of hunter-gatherers who really did look out for their kin. Conservatives discuss politics in language that reflects … Continue reading The Language Of Leftists

    Hillary’s Emails [Transterrestrial Musings]

    It keeps getting worse: This would present a huge legal issue for anyone whose name didn’t rhyme with Millary Minton. The Federal Records Act requires work-related communications to go to the National Archive, where the government determines what can and cannot be published for public review. That is why the Obama administration instructed its agencies … Continue reading Hillary’s Emails

    SpaceX Failure Effects [Transterrestrial Musings]

    They have a long list of customers left in the lurch. Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review. Now parsing data with a hex editor to recover final milliseconds. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 29, 2015 [Update a few minutes later] Another story, from Eric Berger, with political implications. [Afternoon update] New details … Continue reading SpaceX Failure Effects

    Uber Driver Ignores Company Anti-Gun Edict, Shoots Passenger Who Allegedly Was Choking Him [Weasel Zippers]

    But I thought they were supposed to be gun-free? Clearwater, Florida — Clearwater Police are investigating a shooting at Clearwater Beach Sunday night. Police say an Uber driver picked up a customer around 10 p.m. in the 400 block of Mandalay Avenue and the two got into an argument which turned physical. At one point, […]

    Grotesquely Obese Lib Elitist Michael Moore: Americans Are “A People Who Pride Themselves On Being Ignorant”… [Weasel Zippers]

    Speaking of ignorant. Via Michael Moore: It was one of those weeks, this past week. A week in which we witnessed profound history being made. A week when a large chunk was taken out of the wall of hate that criss-crosses this country, a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. […]

    NYC Mayor De Blasio Moves To Stop Smokers From Lighting Up In Homes [Weasel Zippers]

    And we thought Nanny Bloomberg was bad. Via Fox News: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is butting in to what city residents do in their homes, by pressing landlords and developers to ban smoking inside apartments, according to a report. The mayor’s administration is planning to pay four health-advocacy groups $9,000 apiece to press […]

    Jeb Bush Says Confederate Flag A “Racist” Symbol, Uses MSNBC’s Catch Phrase “Lean Forward” To Describe His Views… [Weasel Zippers]

    Via NBC News: Jeb Bush said Monday that the Confederate flag has become a “racist” symbol and applauded efforts to remove the flag outside the South Carolina State Capitol after a racially motivated church shooting. In his first campaign stop in South Carolina since the deadly shooting that killed nine at AME Emanuel Church in […]

    University Of Memphis Professor: Confederate Flag A Symbol Of “White Heteropatriarchal Capitalism”… [Weasel Zippers]

    Or something. Via Campus Reform: The Confederate flag is more than a symbol of slavery and northern oppression, “[i]t is the ultimate symbol of white heteropatriarchal capitalism” according to one University of Memphis (UM) professor. Dr. Zandria Robinson, an assistant professor of sociology at the university wrote in a series of tweets last week that […]

    Milwaukee Art MuseumTo Display Mosaic “Made Out of 17,000 Non-Lubricated Condoms” Depicting Mohammed Pope Benedict… [Weasel Zippers]

    Christian suicide bombers to ensue…no, wait, wrong religion. (CNSNews.com) — The Milwaukee Art Museum is getting complaints from the Milwaukee archbishop, members of the public, and even some of its donors over its plans to display a huge portrait of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. “This piece is made out of 17,000 nonlubricated condoms,” artist Niki […]

    British PM Demands BBC Stop Using Name “Islamic State” Because Name Is Offensive To “Many Muslims”… [Weasel Zippers]

    John Kerry gets whiplash from nodding in approval a bit too furiously. Via Daily Mail: David Cameron today called on the BBC not to use the phrase ‘Islamic State’ when referring to the terror group operating in Iraq and Syria. The Prime Minister – who calls the group ‘ISIL’ – said Muslims would ‘recoil’ at […]

    Report: Obama Now Re-Thinking Anti-Cop Stance After Seeing Video Of NYPD Officer Dance At Gay Pride Parade… [Weasel Zippers]

    Hot NYC cop getting down during #pride! 🌈 @Chaalie pic.twitter.com/PswNiEER00 — DCHomos (@DCHomos) June 29, 2015

    NBC Cuts Ties With Donald Trump Over “Derogatory” Remarks About Illegal Immigrants… [Weasel Zippers]

    How many variations of the “NBC To Trump: You’re Fired!” headline will we see from the brain dead media? Via The Hill: NBC is cutting its ties with Donald Trump over the 2016 Republican presidential candidate’s recent remarks over immigrants. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its […]

    Lib Darling Neil deGrasse Tyson: Racist White People Assume I’m An Athlete Or Sportscaster Because I’m A Large Black Man… [Weasel Zippers]

    Via Five Thirty Eight: Go down the list of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s titles — author, TV host, meme-spawner — and you eventually get to Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. In other words, he’s still a working astrophysicist. Tyson recently visited […]

    Walmart: Hey, Sorry For Baking A Cake With An ISIS Flag On It… [Weasel Zippers]

    No apology for refusing to bake one with a Confederate flag on it. Update to this story. Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

    Breaking: Another ISIS-Aligned Suspect Arrested In New Jersey [Weasel Zippers]

    Via ABC: A Hudson County man was arrested at his home Monday morning for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, U.S. Alaa Saadeh, 23, of West New York, is charged by complaint with conspiring with other individuals in New Jersey and New York to provide services and personnel to ISIS, aiding and abetting […]

    Fun Fact Of The Day: U.S. Now Has More Spanish Speakers Than Spain… [Weasel Zippers]

    In somewhat terrifying news, America is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country. Via Guardian: The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a new study published by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes. The report says there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further […]

    Breaking: State Department Threatens To Arrest Reporter For Reporting On Obama Concessions To Iran [Weasel Zippers]

    All reporters should condemn this or the effort to silence actual reporting will continue and get worse. Via Free Beacon: VIENNA—Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the […]

    Report: Obama Sent Private Message To Iran’s Leaders Ahead Of Nuclear Deadline… [Weasel Zippers]

    The White House is denying it, naturally. Tehran (AFP) – US President Barack Obama recently sent a private message to Iran’s leadership via Iraq’s prime minister, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday on the eve of a deadline for a nuclear deal. Hamshahri, Iran’s highest-circulation daily, citing a lawmaker, said “one of the leaders of a […]

    BREAKING: State Department Withholds Contents Of Obama And Hillary Clinton’s Phone Call On Night Of Benghazi Attack… [Weasel Zippers]

    Hiding something? Via Fox News: New documents released by a federal court show President Obama called then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the night of the 2012 Benghazi attack — but the contents are being withheld by the State Department. It had previously been disclosed that Clinton and Obama spoke the night of the terror […]

    Police Arrest 13 Year Old Girl Who, In Viral Video, Viciously Attacked Classmate Holding A Toddler [Weasel Zippers]

    You can see one of the boys dancing as the girl beats up on the victim. Just insane. No care at all for the toddler thrown to the concrete. Via Smoking Gun: Texas cops last night arrested a 13-year-old girl in connection with a viral video showing her attacking a classmate who was holding a […]

    Greek Banks To Remain Closed For At Least 6 Days, Restrictions On Withdrawal Of Money [Weasel Zippers]

    ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s five-year financial crisis took its most dramatic turn yet, with the cabinet deciding after an eight-hour session that Greek banks would remain shut for six business days and restrictions would be imposed on cash withdrawals. The Athens Stock Exchange would also not open Monday, financial sector officials confirmed. The moves were […]

    Economic Lessons from the Nordic Countries [International Liberty]

    Folks on the left sometimes act as if the Nordic nations somehow prove that big government isn’t an impediment to prosperity.

    As I’ve pointed out before, they obviously don’t spend much time looking at the data.

    So let’s give them a reminder. Here are the rankings from Economic Freedom of the World. I’ve inserted red arrows to draw attention to the Nordic nations. As you can see, every single one of them is in the top quartile, meaning that they aren’t big-government jurisdictions by world standards.

    Moreover, Finland ranks above the United States. Denmark is higher than Estonia, which is often cited a free-market success story. And all of them rank ahead of Slovakia, which also is known for pro-growth reforms.

    To be sure, this doesn’t mean the Nordic nations are libertarian paradises. Far from it.

    Government is far too big in those countries, just as it is far too big in the United States, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, and other nations in the top quartile.

    Which is tragic since the burden of government spending in North America and Western Europe used to be just a fraction of current levels – even in nations such as Sweden.

    The way I’ve described the Nordic nations is that they have bloated and costly welfare states but compensate for that bad policy by being very free market in other policy areas.

    But you don’t need to believe me. Nima Sanandaji has just written an excellent new monograph for the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. Entitled Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism, Nima’s work explains how the Nordic nations became rich during an era of small government and free markets, how they then veered in the wrong direction, but are now trying to restore more economic freedom.

    Here are some key excerpts, starting with some much-needed economic history.

    Scandinavia’s success story predated the welfare state. …As late as 1960, tax revenues in the Nordic nations ranged between 25 per cent of GDP in Denmark to 32 per cent in Norway – similar to other developed countries. …Scandinavia’s more equal societies also developed well before the welfare states expanded. Income inequality reduced dramatically during the last three decades of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century. Indeed, most of the shift towards greater equality happened before the introduction of a large public sector and high taxes. …The phenomenal national income growth in the Nordic nations occurred before the rise of large welfare states. The rise in living standards was made possible when cultures based on social cohesion, high levels of trust and strong work ethics were combined with free markets and low taxes….the Nordic success story reinforces the idea that business-friendly and small-government-oriented policies can promote growth.

    Here’s a chart from the book showing remarkable growth for Sweden and Denmark in the pre-welfare state era.

    Nima has extra details about his home country of Sweden.

    In the hundred years following the market liberalisation of the late 19th century and the onset of industrialisation, Sweden experienced phenomenal economic growth (Maddison 1982). Famous Swedish companies such as IKEA, Volvo, Tetra Pak, H&M, Ericsson and Alfa Laval were all founded during this period, and were aided by business-friendly economic policies and low taxes.

    Unfortunately, Nordic nations veered to the left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And, not surprisingly, that’s when growth began to deteriorate.

    The third-way radical social democratic era in Scandinavia, much admired by the left, only lasted from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. The rate of business formation during the third-way era was dreadful.
    Again, he has additional details about Sweden.
    Sweden’s wealth creation slowed down following the transition to a high tax burden and a large public sector. …As late as 1975 Sweden was ranked as the 4th richest nation in the world according to OECD measures….the policy shift that occurred dramatically slowed down the growth rate. Sweden dropped to 13th place in the mid 1990s. …It is interesting that the left rarely discusses this calamitous Swedish growth performance from 1970 to 2000.

    The good news is that Nordic nations have begun to shift back toward market-oriented policies. Some of them have reduced the burden of government spending. All of them have lowered tax rates, particularly on business and investment income. And there have even been some welfare reforms.

    …there has been a tentative return to free markets. In education in Sweden, parental choice has been promoted. There has also been reform to pensions systems, sickness benefits and labour market regulations

    But there’s no question that the welfare state and its concomitant tax burden are still the biggest problem in the region. Which  is why it is critical that Nordic nations maintain pro-market policies on regulation, trade, monetary policy, rule of law and property rights.

    Scandinavian countries have compensated for a large public sector by increasing economic liberty in other areas. During recent decades, Nordic nations have implemented major market liberalisations to compensate for the growth-inhibiting effects of taxes and labour market policies.

    Let’s close with what I consider to be the strongest evidence from Nima’s publication. He shows that Scandinavians who emigrated to America are considerably richer than their counterparts who stayed put.

    Median incomes of Scandinavian descendants are 20 per cent higher than average US incomes. It is true that poverty rates in Scandinavian countries are lower than in the US. However, the poverty rate among descendants of Nordic immigrants in the US today is half the average poverty rate of Americans – this has been a consistent finding for decades. In fact, Scandinavian Americans have lower poverty rates than Scandinavian citizens who have not emigrated. …the median household income in the United States is $51,914. This can be compared with a median household income of $61,920 for Danish Americans, $59,379 for Finnish-Americans, $60,935 for Norwegian Americans and $61,549 for Swedish Americans. There is also a group identifying themselves simply as ‘Scandinavian Americans’ in the US Census. The median household income for this group is even higher at $66,219. …Danish Americans have a contribution to GDP per capita 37 per cent higher than Danes still living in Denmark; Swedish Americans contribute 39 percent more to GDP per capita than Swedes living in Sweden; and Finnish Americans contribute 47 per cent more than Finns living in Finland.

    In other words, when you do apples to apples comparisons, either of peoples or nations, you find that smaller government and free markets lead to more prosperity.

    That’s the real lesson from the Nordic nations.

    P.S. Just in case readers think I’m being too favorable to the Nordic nations, rest assured that I’m very critical of the bad policies in these nations.

    Just look at what I’ve written, for instance, about Sweden’s healthcare system or Denmark’s dependency problem.

    But I will give praise when any nation, from any part of the world, takes steps in the right direction.

    And I do distinguish between the big-government/free-market systems you find in Nordic nations and the big-government/crony-intervention systems you find in countries like France and Greece.


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