March 30, 2015

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JET CARDS: THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL? Well, I’d like one, but not so much for the status as for the mobility.

A HISTORY OF WORLD WAR TWO, in 25 Airplanes.

TIPPING: A Guide For Young Men.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Sean Golden, Warrior.

WHEN LAW PROFESSORS breach publication contracts.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON INDIANA AND RFRA: “Indiana has focused attention on RFRA laws, but it’s stupid to focus on Indiana. These laws are all over the place. Understand them. Understand how they apply in many different scenarios and how they are limited by courts in their application. Understand that if we’re going to relieve religious believers of the burdens of generally applicable laws, courts are going to have to avoid preferring one religion over another. You can’t accommodate the religions you agree with or think are sweet and fuzzy and say no to the ones who seem mean or ugly. We need to figure that out. If, in the end, you think the Indiana RFRA is a bad idea, check that map and see if your state has RFRA (or a RFRA-like state constitutional provision) and push for repeal in your state. And get after Congress. Congress started it. Unless you’re Hoosier, leave Indiana alone. Stop otherizing Indiana. AND: I had to wonder What does Garrett Epps think about this? Because Garrett Epps wrote a whole book about how terrible it was for the U.S. Supreme Court to deny special exceptions to religious believers, especially in that case where Native Americans wanted the freedom to use peyote. As I predicted, Epps is otherizing Indiana.”

Here’s the deal: (1) Indiana has gone from a swing state to a red state, so it’s fair game; and (2) Dems need something to agitate the base so it doesn’t pay attention to Iranian nukes, trashed email servers, and an overall culture of corruption. Those who join in are willing enablers.

TEEN LIBERTARIAN draws crowds of 200,000 in Brazil.

HOW “AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT” LAWS CRIMINALIZE EVERYONE: If a student throws her arms around her boyfriend and kisses him without his permission, even if she has done this dozens of times before, she has violated affirmative consent policies. “Affirmative consent laws trivialize sexual assault by turning nearly everyone who has ever dated into a sexual offender.” But only disfavored students will ever be prosecuted.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Florida School Suspends 11-year-old Girl for Video Recording Teacher Threatening to Hurt Other Student. “The evidence Brianna Cooper recorded was enough to get the teacher fired from Samuel Gaines Academy in Fort Pierce, about two hours north of Miami. But administrators say it was also enough to earn the student a five-day suspension. After all, they claim, the teacher, had an expectation of privacy in the classroom.” How can anyone have an “expectation of privacy” in a classroom full of people?

JUDICIAL WATCH: Corruption Scandals Led to Harry Reid’s Abrupt “Retirement.” “You’d never know it from the mainstream media puff pieces of Harry Reid’s sudden retirement, but it was a long string of corruption scandals—including a recent one involving his attorney son—that drove the veteran Nevada senator to abruptly leave public office.”

UH OH: Video: One dead, two wounded at Fort Meade’s NSA gate after vehicle attack. “A bizarre attack on the NSA access gate has left at least one person dead and two more wounded, after guards opened fire on an SUV attempting to crash through the barriers. Initial news reports say that two men dressed as women attempted to force their way into Fort Meade, and the gunfight ensued.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

IN THE MAIL: The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones: Confronting A New Age of Threat.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Markdowns on SentrySafe Safes.

And, also today only: 40% Off Select Puzzles & Crafts from T.S. Shure.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 690.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: MOOCs Could Save the World.

America’s higher education system is an example to the world—and that’s not necessarily all to the good. In a lead article as well as a special feature, the Economist argues that America’s higher ed system is increasingly spreading across the globe, with more and more people going to universities that resemble America’s colleges. However, as the Economist notes, America’s education system is good at delivering excellence but become increasingly dysfunctional—and very expensive. One of the main reasons is that some colleges have become credential mills, where earning a degree is more important than learning. . . .

Another reason why higher ed’s bang-to-buck ratio is lower these days, ironically, is that generous federal student loans have helped subsidize an expensive system and even perhaps made it pricier. The Economist’s special report argues that technology, especially MOOCs and online courses, could help in this regard by lowering costs. But many colleges—and college faculty members—resist them because they have a lot invested in the status quo.

In fact, the adoption of MOOCs may be a case in which the U.S. can learn from the rest of the world. Unmentioned by the Economist is that MOOCs (though offered by companies of American origin) are popular in other countries like India and Trinidad and Tobago. The rest of the world might surpass us, in other words, in embracing and legitimizing educational tech—particularly if it permits people who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to a traditional, brick-and-mortar college to start attending classes online. If that’s true, American colleges should start taking a page out of foreign colleges’ playbook.

But they won’t because the foreign colleges’ playbook offers insufficient remuneration for administrators.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

THIS STORY IS SEVERAL MONTHS OLD, BUT SOMEHOW IT’S GOTTEN NEW SOCIAL-MEDIA LIFE, AND IT WAS NEW TO ME: There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Academic dishonesty at Stanford: What compels elite students to cheat? For some, perhaps many, that’s how they got there. Others learned once they arrived. Neither phenomenon speaks well of college as an improving enterprise.

BYRON YORK: Reid Senate career a story of money and muscle.

In 1998, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid paid $400,000 for two pieces of residential land outside Las Vegas. It was a complicated deal. Reid secretly transferred ownership of the property to a company set up by his friend and lawyer Jay Brown, who then convinced the local government to re-zone the land for commercial development. In 2004, Brown sold it to a group of developers and Reid walked away with $1.1 million.

“The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to Brown’s company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later,” the Associated Press reported in 2006. “Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview.”

It was a classic Harry Reid transaction: legal but a little shady, and undoubtedly lucrative. Business deals like that allowed Reid to do very well during his years in the Senate, spent of late in a luxury condominium in Washington’s Ritz Carlton.

Democrats: Fighting for the little guy.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Wanted: New, ‘Politically Correct’ White House Fence.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: What happens when you find out a year of college costs $71,000? “The sticker price at NYU gained attention earlier this week when incoming freshmen, Nia Mirza, started a petition to get the school to lower the cost of attendance. Mirza, a 19-year-old from Pakistan, claims the price went up after she committed to early admission to the class of 2019. She said she thought it would cost roughly $64,000 to attend the tony private school.”

Hey, those Presidential beach houses on Fire Island don’t come cheap.

THE HILL: O’Malley: Nuclear Iran ‘greatest man-made threat.’

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Sunday said that a nuclear-armed Iran would present the gravest “man-made” danger to American interests.

“The greatest threat that we face right now in terms of man-made threats is a nuclear Iran and related extremist violence,” O’Malley told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t think you can separate the two,” he added.

O’Malley, a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, said climate change served as the worst environmental threat to national security. He said that Tehran possessing atomic bombs, however, was still a preventable catastrophe.

If nothing else, he’s provided the GOP with a TV-ad sound bite.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Boy Got a Haircut Like His Military Step-Brother, School Suspended Him: Why is it okay for public school officials to place totally unnecessary, soul-crushing restrictions on students? Sending your kids, even boys, to public school isn’t exactly child abuse, but it’s looking more and more like parental malpractice.

WELL, THAT’S GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WITH RARE DISEASES: Big Profits Seen In Rare Diseases. “For decades, drugmakers were reluctant to invest in rare-disease treatments, preferring to focus on mass-market drugs for cholesterol, heart trouble, and other common problems. Then, starting a decade ago, patents on some of the industry’s most lucrative medicines began to expire, and cheap generic drugs started wiping out tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. So many companies shifted money to rare-disease drugs, knowing that those medicines cost less to develop and will face limited competition. Some already sell for $100,000 or more for a year of treatment, although drugmakers usually give financial aid to patients and big discounts to insurers.”

HMM: Black churches divorce Presbyterians over gay marriage. “This shows the riff between white liberals and minorities over gay marriage. Minorities overwhelmingly supported the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California, which passed in 2008.”

Prediction: Neither the press, nor LGBT rights groups, will call them bigots. Here’s the press release.

March 29, 2015

MOE LANE:

There are two things that we know about the next election, more or less: first, the Democrats [are] tanking among white voters. Second, black voters aren’t going to come out for a non-black Presidential candidate with the same intensity that they did for Barack Obama. Add those two together, and the end result looks very bad for the Democratic party.

And that’s why Hillary Clinton is still being propped up by the Democratic establishment: she’s the most prominent female politician that they have right now. I personally don’t think that she’s going to be able to recreate Barack Obama’s 2012 performance when it comes to white women voters, but former Secretary Clinton has a better shot at it than pretty much anybody else. …And that is, as they say, pretty much it.

Martin O’Malley.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Michael Tomasky: “And so what I hope is that Obama administration officials are, well, lying. That is, I hope they’re just saying this stuff about a new and improved Iran because they think it might help build public support for a deal. That’s not very appealing, but it’s better than the other possibility, which is that they actually believe this stuff.”

ED DRISCOLL: Peggy Noonan, Then And Now. In 2008 she was allowed to like Barack Obama. In 2015, she’s not allowed to like Ted Cruz.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Of Course Ted Cruz Can Win. “In football, any team can win on any given Sunday; in politics, any candidate can win on any given Tuesday. Ted Cruz did not cut a swath through Democrats to take his seat in the Senate — the Democrat, whose name I defy you to call up, was pro forma — but rather by defeating the Republican political machine in Texas and by making fools of its top dogs. If you think that he managed that by being stupid, then there is an adjective in this sentence for you.”

NOW THIS IS FUNNY, BECAUSE THE INSTA-WIFE WAS JUST COMPLAINING THAT ALL THE INTERVIEWS ARE POSITIVE: Lawsuit accuses Angie’s List of manipulating reviews.

Via Don Surber.

ALFONZO RACHEL: The Reasons Why Democrats Are the Party of Slavery and Victimization.

CHANGE: Russia’s oligarchs head for London as rouble collapses. I think they want to get away from Putin’s response to the ruble collapse more than from the ruble collapse itself. . . .

RUTHIE BLUM ON THE LATEST LENA DUNHAM FLAP: “Most striking about the enraged responses was what they did not include: The impunity with which women are allowed to express contempt for members of the male sex, while cloaking their own neediness and hunger for love in outdated feminist lingo. Indeed, nobody calls them out on things that men could never get away with saying, certainly not in print.”

This will persist until men stop putting up with it.

JONATHAN LAST: The Campus Left Begins to Implode. “The good news is that these sorts of perversions always burn themselves out-they’re too untethered to reality. Eventually people realize that the radicalism is really about just one thing: power. And once people begin to challenge the dogmas, they collapse in a cascade. Because as they lose their power to exact a price for criticism, they attract more of it.”

SCIENCE: Indefinite Safe Sex Urged for Liberian Ebola Survivors. “The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen. Previously, male survivors were advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or to use condoms for three months, reflecting that the active virus had been detected for up to 82 days in semen.”

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: You’re Probably Breaking The Law Right Now.

MICHAEL WALSH: So What Really Did Happen to Harry Reid? “It’s pretty obvious from the photographs that somebody beat the bejesus out of the soon-to-be-former senator from Nevada. . . . So what happened? Is there a single honest, curious reporter left in Washington? No need to answer that question.”

JEKYLL & HYDE: Driving the BMW i8. “Tromp the i8’s throttle and you’re whisked into motion like protons in a collider. The instant signature shove of electric torque helps. The miniature gas engine chimes in with a backup duet voice. It’s canned but uncanny: a synthesized simulation of engine sound piped through door speakers to complement the actual exhaust note. You’d never know that a three-cylinder engine was at work; instead, the BMW’s chesty rumble sounds like a Porsche flat-six mating with a flying saucer.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The Sad Decline of Florida’s Space Coast.

SPACE: More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars.

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HISTORIC PROOF: The 1891 Patent for Toilet Paper Settles the Over/Under Question Once and for All. Sorry, I’m not changing.

THE BETTER TO DOWNLOAD YOU, MY DEAR: Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain.

TRADE IN YOUR USED BOOKS AND OLD VIDEOGAMES at the Amazon Trade-In Store.

IT’S ALWAYS IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK: Huge underground city discovered in Turkey–by accident.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Defense Department Keeps Losing ‘Sensitive’ Explosives Gear, Then Finding It For Sale On Ebay.

TAKE THAT, HILLARY: O’Malley: No one’s ‘inevitable’ for 2016.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) on Sunday scoffed at the notion that any Democrat was a lock for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

“History is full of times where the inevitable frontrunner is inevitable until they’re no longer inevitable anymore,” O’Malley said.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton is widely considered the party’s frontrunner heading into 2016.

O’Malley also criticized the idea of presidential dynasties in politics. He said that neither Clinton nor former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), a likely GOP candidate, were especially qualified for the Oval Office due to their family ties.

“The presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families,” O’Malley said, referencing earlier White House administrations under Bush and Clinton’s relatives.

The former governor also said Americans craved a president who better represented their interests.

“We need a president who is on our side,” he said.

Well, it would be a change. But isn’t pointing that out kinda racist or something?

THIS WAS TRUE A YEAR AGO, AND IT’S TRUER NOW: Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures Are Proving His Critics Right. But not as true as it will be next year. . . .

CHANGE: A Three-Sided Minimum Wage Debate Moves Into Nevada. “The reality is that some people, often for unfortunate reasons, don’t have skills that are worth $9, $10 or $15 an hour.”

The higher the minimum wage, the faster the Age Of Machines is born.

IN THE MAIL: Chips: Season 3.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 689.

DINNER, WITH A SIDE OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS:

As Bovy notes, asking people to “eat local” who live in northern climes where “local” means “nothing green” for six or seven months out of the year, and do not get to spend a few months each winter in Sicily teaching a cooking class, is pretty rich. A food writer who is telling other people how they could eat, if they wanted to, is doing a great public service. A food writer who is telling other people how they should eat (just like me, except without my access to ingredients) is just obnoxious. You can’t possibly know how they should eat, unless you have spent some time living their lives.

It is well to remember that people who spend time professionally writing about food have quite a bit more time in their day for acquiring and cooking food than most people. They also have more resources and recipes at their disposal. And you know, they can move to California to enjoy the produce.

Nor is it just the tyranny of localism; it is the list of ingredients that you ought to like, and the list of ingredients that you shouldn’t, and what the hell is wrong with you troglodytes and your Twinkies?

It’s about status competition, and setting yourself apart from the proles. And, to some degree, it’s a substitute for religion.

THE BIG QUESTION IS, HOW GOOD ARE HER MOB CONNECTIONS? Meet the Woman Harry Reid Wants to Replace Him in the Senate.

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LIFE IN THESE UNITED STATES: The Two Minutes Hate At Lincoln Center. It’s all about the Gleichschaltung.

ASHE SCHOW: Harry Reid’s War On Women.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring. Although he was a faithful steward of the “war on women” political theme his party has used against Republicans, the Nevada senator wasn’t exactly a feminist warrior.

In 2014, he spent months blocking the Debbie Smith Act, which would have helped speed up the rape-kit processing and reduce the current backlog. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tried to pass it as a stand-alone bill rather than let it get bogged down along with a larger and more controversial Justice authorization package. Reid blocked the bill, hoping to use it as leverage for passing the other measure, but relented about five months later.

Reid also pays women in his office less than men, despite his self-righteous rhetoric on the issue. Women in Reid’s office made an average of $13,500 less than men, according to Fiscal Year 2013 data compiled by the Capitol City Project. Based on the same (misleading) metric he frequently used to condemn all other employers, Reid actually carried a wage gap in his own office roughly the same as the national average. Men in senior-level positions earned more on average than women, and Reid was also more likely to promote them. Reid’s chief of staff, legislative director and communications director are all men.

Finally, there’s Reid’s treatment of women politicians in his own party.

Read the whole thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Students told they cannot lampoon U.S. presidents because campus forbids ‘mocking.’ To be fair, if I were as dumb as the administrators at Dixie State, I’d want to ban mockery, too.

THE HILL: RNC on Clinton: ‘Even Nixon didn’t destroy the tapes.’ Nixon didn’t have the press on his side.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: NYU Asks Employees For Donations To Help Students Pay Crippling Cost Of Attending NYU.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE: Girl who cried rape after threesome with two soldiers has been jailed.

A girl who falsely accused two army soldiers of trying to rape her because she felt ashamed about sleeping with them both has been jailed.

Nicole Richess, 20, had a drunken threesome with the two servicemen at a friend’s house and then her own home at the end of a night out.

The following day her boyfriend, Alex Ganter, heard rumours she had been unfaithful and confronted her.

Richess ‘panicked’ and made up the false claim that the two innocent men, aged 23 and 24, had forced themselves on her because she was too ashamed to tell Mr Ganter she had cheated on him.

Mr Ganter, her partner of three years, made her go to the police to report the ‘attack’.

Richess even gave a ‘tearful’ account of the co-called crime to officers and ‘illicitly gained their empathy.’

Her ‘deceitful web of lies’ resulted in the arrest of the two soldiers, leaving them ‘distraught and petrified.’

However, officers began to realise Richess was lying when they gathered the accounts of the soldiers and her friends and she was charged with perverting the course of justice.

Funny, I’m constantly being told that women never lie about rape. And I like this:

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: “You made a determined and prolonged attempt to weave a picture of deceit to further your ends and you were prepared to make wholly false allegations of attempted rape against these innocent young men.

“The impact on these victims cannot be understated and false allegations of rape and attempted rape can have dreadful consequences.

“Every occasion of a proved false allegation has an insidious effect on public confidence, sometimes allowing doubts to creep into when one shouldn’t exist.

“Your offence has a corrosive effect on criminal justice.”

Lying about rape is a very serious offense, one that deserves serious punishment. But note that it’s still a man’s fault somehow:

In mitigation, Tony Ventham said Richess – who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant by her current partner – said she felt pressured in to reporting the false claims because her former boyfriend was ‘violent’ and ‘controlling’.

Richess had also taken cocaine for the first time that night.

Mr Ventham said: “She called the police because she was in a panic and because she’s stupid and immature.”

He added: “In December the following month she tried to commit suicide and had been struggling with depression ever since.”

Richess was told she would start her sentence in a young offenders’ institute.

Still, at least there’s some accountability.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Finally: An Anonymous, Online, Geo-Tagged System to Report Microaggressions at College!

I realize that simply by saying that you’ve probably heard of microaggressions, I’m likely committing one.

For the uninitiated, microaggressions are “are statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.” The really innovative thing about microaggressions is that they are often meant in a spirit of inclusion by the speaker. For instance, depending on who’s speaking and who’s listening, complimeting someone on their hair, clothing, or whatever might count as a covert way of putting him in his place. “That’s a really fancy jacket” may really be code for WTF are you doing in clothes that are above your station?

But I’ll risk microaggressing you to note that the student government at Ithaca College in upstate New York has just passed a mind-blowing bill that will allow students to anonymously report offensive statements such as “Where are you really from?” and “You don’t look disabled.” The system will include “demographics” about the aggressor and the aggressee and tag location info too, according to one of the sponsors of the bill. . . .

So remember, kids, you don’t go to college to learn new things and feed your head. You go to college to be subjected to an anonymous system of collecting information about the bad thoughts you have and the misstatements you make, some of which you might not even have intended to be hurtful.

But rest easy, because if you are in fact accused of microaggressing, your accuser “would likely have to reveal their identity” if any charges are pressed (emphasis added). Because we know how well colleges do at handling legal-style proceedings. . . .

Unless your goal is to chill or control speech and thought, this sort of program is a complete anathema to everything that higher education is supposed to promote and cherish. But there you are, another year older and deeper in debt.

Alan Charles Kors, the University of Pennsylvania historian and co-founder of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has long argued that colleges systematically engage in false advertising. That is, they tell parents and prospective students that they offer wide-open educational experiences while in fact harshly limiting and circumscribing all sorts of expression and inquiry.

I’d like to think that if Ithaca College actually implements its microaggression reporting system that it will trumpet that fact in all promotional materials so that new and continuing students will understand that they are not entering a space in which free thought and expression are encouraged but one in which they will be subject to surveillance and secret accusations ripped straight out of mid-century anti-totalitarian novels.

If they don’t, I encourage disappointed students to sue them.

March 28, 2015

JOHN HINDERAKER: What Really Happened to Harry Reid? Part 2. “When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of ‘I walked into a doorknob,’ it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid’s condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid’s story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further. . . . What happened to Reid is not just a matter of curiosity. Everyone knows that the Reid family has gotten rich, even though Reid has spent his entire career as a public employee. It is known that a considerable part of his fortune came from being cut in on sweetheart Las Vegas land deals that included at least one person associated with organized crime as a principal. Was the Senate Majority Leader in the pocket of the Mafia? That seems like a question worth exploring, and yet, to my knowledge, not a single investigative reporter has chosen to look into the matter, even with the obvious clue of Reid’s face in front of them.”

Has Reid denied rumors that he was beaten and forced to resign by the father of one of his child-victims? If so, I must have missed it.

WEEKLY STANDARD: The Germanwings Co-pilot’s Non-Existent ‘Muslim Conversion.’ “Given the orientation of the site and reports that Germanwings 9525 was intentionally crashed by the co-pilot, it is hardly surprising that commentators on Politically Incorrect would speculate about whether Lubitz was a Muslim. Reference was made in particular to a blog post by a site regular named Michael Mannheimer. Mannheimer’s post contains no evidence that Lubitz was a Muslim convert, but just more speculation. Mannheimer’s conjecture is based on such apparently suspicious details as the fact that Lubitz did flight training in Bremen and Bremen is also home to a mosque known for its radicalism. In fairness to Politically Incorrect, it should be noted that several commentators on the site have themselves rejected the speculations in Mannheimer’s post as unfounded.”

NO WONDER THE SECRET SERVICE AND DEA DRIVE THOSE HUGE SUV’S: CA Dem Congresswoman Claims Climate Change Will Turn Women Into Prostitutes.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Big 4 Gunning for Big Law. “Can’t say we didn’t warn you about the Walmart thing. Be afraid law firms; be very afraid.”

All is proceeding as Ben Barton has foreseen.

IT’S MORE FUN TO WIELD MOB JUSTICE THAN TO EXPERIENCE IT: After Berating Innocent Chick-Fil-A Worker, Many Say He’s Now Getting Exactly What He Deserves. “Former Vante CFO and treasurer, Adam Mark Smith, went from being relatively unknown to an unemployed, virally-hated man with a video he thought was taking a stand against discrimination of gays. In a YouTube video, Smith berated Chick-fil-A employee Rachel Elizabeth at the drive-thru window when she gave him, a protester, a free cup of water. . . . According to Boston News, Smith went from earning $200,000 a year, with cushy stock options valued at $1 million, to losing everything. His family even had to move into an RV.”

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HOW WE ROLL IN KNOXVEGAS:

A crowd gathered as Knoxville Police Department Lt. Gordon Gwathney struggled with the screaming black woman in the public housing development.

Gwathney already had shot his stun gun at the 5-foot-2-inch tall woman, but her crack cocaine high made her impervious to the electric jolt designed to freeze the muscles of large men. She ripped the metal wires from her body and continued to fight.

As he tussled with the 110-pound woman, the crowd of onlookers in Walter P. Taylor Homes swelled. Gwathney’s radio was ripped from his uniform as he forced the woman to the ground, so calling for help as the crowd closed in around him was not an option.

As he fought to get handcuffs on the squirming woman, two people from the crowd jumped into the fray.

“I saw something I thought I’d never see — people come to the aid of an officer,” Dewey Roberts, former president of Knoxville NAACP, told a community group last week. “They were telling her to calm down and they got his radio that had been knocked loose.”

Roberts witnessed the event through a window at the Dr. Lee Williams Complex, a senior citizens center he oversees in Walter P. Taylor Homes. Roberts had seen the confrontation develop despite Gwathney “trying to de-escalate the situation” and worried as he saw the crowd of black onlookers encircle the lone officer.

“With my experiences with police over the years, I was just amazed,” said the 69-year-old Roberts who led Knoxville’s black community through the racial tinderbox in the late 1990s when several black men died during confrontations with Knoxville officers.

“And it wasn’t just a few people, it was the whole crowd. I was shaking my head in disbelief, but it was a good feeling.”

Well, good.

SPACE: Soon, Humans Will Follow Robots Into Deep Space.

CHANGE: Four Visions Of The Future From DARPA’s Latest Report Card.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: UNC Charlotte quietly adopts new transgender bathroom policy. “The current policy states that any student, faculty or staff member may use the restroom that corresponds to the individual’s gender identity.”

COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR SELLS: Nir Eyal is showing software designers how to hook users in four easy steps. Welcome to the new era of habit-forming technology. “Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back.”

Back in high school I read Lawrence Sanders’ The Tomorrow File, where they were actually making products worse, but in ways that made them more addictive. And now it’s today.

UM, WELL: Inject this substance in your eyes for night vision. My night vision has always been superb, but in the last couple of years it seems to be regressing toward the mean. So a commercial product that would improve it might be useful. And I’m sure there are military applications. . . .

IN THE MAIL: From Alan W. Cohen, America Solved: A New Family for the 21st Century.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 688.

IF YOU WERE TRYING TO DO LASTING DAMAGE TO THE UNITED STATES’ WORLD POSITION, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? NBC’s Engel: US allies fear Obama admin leaking information to Iran. “Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s ‘incoherence’ in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership.” Welcome to the party, guys. But you can only judge a policy “incompetent” or “incoherent” if you know what that policy is intended to accomplish.

MARCH OF THE AFFLUENT: Why Gentrification Is An Irresistible Force:

Ah, gentrification. What’s not to hate? Except for sit-down restaurants, dog parks, charming pubs, bike lanes … and there goes the neighborhood. Yesterday, we talked about the inherent irony of gentrification: the fact that gentrification is simultaneously driven and abhorred by nice young progressives who just want to live in a walkable neighborhood. We also discussed why so many of the ideas proposed to stop it — from inclusionary zoning to tougher rent control — have so far proven powerless against the March of the Affluent.

Today, we’ll take up the remaining possibilities: scatter-site public housing, and massive, city-wide upzoning, particularly in wealthy areas. And we’ll explore why, even if these things are good ideas, they are probably not going to materialize fast enough to halt gentrification — if they materialize at all. . . .

The political fact is that if you try to plop, say, a 56-unit low-income housing project in the middle of a wealthy neighborhood, the neighbors are going to freak out.

You will say this is terrible NIMBYism. I will say that this is neither here nor there: The neighbors are still going to freak out, and if you want to build affordable housing on their block, you will need a plan to deal with that fact. Housing projects offer affluent people no personal benefit — they are unlikely to find themselves in need of an apartment catering to folks living below the poverty line — but even small ones will change the appearance of their community, and, it is believed, will bring with them some fraction of the problems that afflicted larger projects.

The larger the disparity between the incomes of the people who are going to be housed, and the people who are living near the site, the more community opposition you will face. You can issue clarion calls to residents to do their bit for the public weal, but in general, people are very good at thinking up reasons that a particular project, while splendid in theory of course, should actually be sited somewhere else more appropriate, and of course, much less close to their own home.

On the other hand, if we continue on the present economic policies for another decade, there will be fewer young affluents to support gentrification.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Saudi Arabia says it won’t rule out building nuclear weapons.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Brooklyn Law School Dean Calls For Audit of Multistate Bar Exam. I can’t help but notice that the widespread decanal dissatisfaction with bar examiners has only appeared since schools started having to reach down into applicant pools to fill seats. . . .

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LOOKING FOR NEWS ABOUT THE WAR ON TERROR, AND OUR MIDEAST DEBACLES? Check Fred Pruitt’s Rantburg.

SO I SEE FEMINIST TYPES PORTRAYING THIS AS SOME SORT OF VICTORY DESPITE HER LOSING: Jury finds no gender discrimination against Ellen Pao in case that captivated Silicon Valley.

But the most likely consequence — which would have been even more likely if she had won — will be for firms to be less willing to hire women in the first place. Doubly so, of course, if they talk about “social justice” a lot.

I WOULD HAVE PICKED AL GORE FOR THAT ROLE, JOWLS AND ALL: “Is California Gov. Jerry Brown becoming the Jerry Falwell of the left?”

WELL, WELL: Sources Say, Erik Prince was hired by crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together a 800-member battalion. “Erik Prince billionaire founder of Blackwater was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by a reputable source. The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show.”

ASHE SCHOW: Looks like the J-School investigation of that Rolling Stone story is going to be quite a doozy.

The original story claimed that a U.Va. freshman, Jackie, was gang-raped by seven members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity during a wild party. The whole thing was allegedly part of a fraternity initiation orchestrated by Jackie’s handsome date for the evening. Bruised and bloodied, Jackie escaped through a side door and called her friends, who encouraged her not to report the crime.

But facts came to light after the article was published that painted a completely different picture. There was no party at Phi Psi the night of the alleged incident. Jackie’s friends said they did encourage her to report the crime and that at the time she claimed she was forced to perform oral sex on five men.

It was also discovered that the man Jackie supposedly had a date with that night, Haven Monahan, did not exist.

Rolling Stone apologized for the errors in its reporting, including the absence of any investigation to find the men Jackie claimed had raped her.

But President Teresa Sullivan has not apologized for running with this story, and for breaching her duty of fairness to the falsely accused students.

Related: UVA Professor Urges Rolling Stone Lawsuit: Says Fraternities Have Strong Legal Grounds. Plus, the possibility of suing Jackie, and bringing her up on an honor charge.

And since we know she lied now, can news reports please start using her full name?

BLOWBACK: Leave Facebook if you don’t want to be spied on, warns EU.

All is proceeding as Glenn Derene foresaw.

ANNALS OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” Anatomy of a whole-of-government foreign policy failure: The Asian Infrastructure Development Bank is proceeding apace, despite U.S. efforts to stop it.

To recap: the AIIB is one of several new financial institutions that China has tried to midwife over the past year or so that many have viewed as direct competitors to the U.S.-created international financial institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank (ADB). The United States has articulated two concerns about the AIIB: that it was an organization designed to marginalize the ADB, and that in doing so, China would be applying rules and standards in project lending that would be far less friendly to the environment than the U.S.-led institutions.

Whether these concerns are overstated or not isn’t the point. The point is that in recent weeks the Obama administration’s year-long effort to delegitimize and marginalize the AIIB has failed and failed spectacularly. First Britain announced that it would be a founding member of the AIIB against U.S. wishes, surprising even Chinese officials. And then the other dominoes started to fall in rapid succession. Germany, France, and Itally quickly followed suit.

Now we’re seeing a cascade effect. South Korea announced that it would join. Both Australia and Japan now look set to join. Hell, even the IMF’s Christine Lagarde signaled that she was looking forward to working with the AIIB.

The Obama administration has been reduced to backbiting U.S. allies in the press — which, by the by, is a passive-aggressive habit that it really should stop.

But at least they’re not testosterone-addled brutes, amirite?

YES. ISRAEL HAS NUKES. Does that frighten you? Good.

Israel has nuclear weapons. Unlike the United States, which has had nuclear weapons for more than 70 years and betrayed our trust by releasing documents that confirm this, we’ve never used nuclear weapons to kill anyone. Unlike Iran, which doesn’t have nuclear weapons (yet), Israel has never threatened to blow a nation off the face of the map.

For the past 24 hours, after hearing that the United States, under the leadership of Barack Hussein Obama, deliberately stabbed Israel in the back by releasing documents that confirm what most of the world has known or suspected for decades, I was rendered mute with anger. Every post I thought of making usually included at least one four letter word and often many of them.

And so I waited and thought and then I remembered my mother speaking before the Austrian kids who then decided rather than visit Italy, they would take their senior class trip to Israel.

When the world is a bit condescending, antagonistic and certainly against Israel in so many ways, perhaps the United States unwittingly did us a favor. The word is out. Israel has nuclear weapons.

Does that scare you?

Good.

Yes, that’s the main reason to have them. If I were Israel, I’d build a doomsday machine, but that’s just me.