March 29, 2015

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.

March 27, 2015

SO WILL HILLARY BE HELD AS ACCOUNTABLE AS A BASKETBALL COACH?

Deleted emails were part of the findings. The allegations of academic misconduct and impermissible benefits were the focus of the NCAA’s investigation.

According to the termination letter, Tyndall acknowledged on March 16 that he deleted the emails that “could have been relevant to the NCAA’s investigation of Southern Miss and/or compliance with the NCAA rules,” and “at minimum, the deletion of those e-mails created an appearance of significant impropriety.”

“The University believes that it’s highly likely that the Committee on Infractions will find that violated NCAA bylaw 19.1.1 identifies ‘failure to cooperate in an NCAA enforcement investigation,’” the termination letter stated.

Nah. It’s not like she held an important job.

HOW TO READ PRAVDA: “Whenever I see the liberal media jumping to a particular conclusion, my instinct is that the opposite must be true. Whenever I see the liberal media ignoring a story, I figure that story must be very important. Is it possible that the liberal media sometimes might be correct about one of these ‘social justice’ narratives? Hypothetically, I suppose, but you’re seldom going to lose money betting against them.”

IS FEMINISM capitalist propaganda?

SO FROM THIS WE CAN TELL THAT WHATEVER WAS IN THE EMAILS WAS REALLY, TRULY AWFUL: Hillary Clinton wiped her server clean. Because it had to be something that would look worse than this. And this looks terrible.

HOW BIG A FLOP IS OBAMA’S MIDEAST POLICY? So bad that even Vox is running stories like this: These Obama administration quotes about Yemen are almost too cringe-worthy to read.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), is completely unable to park a car. “The result is a car that is not parked as much as abandoned.” It’s a pretty good metaphor for government in the age of Obama.

DOES KINESIOLOGY TAPE REALLY WORK?

It’s certainly colorful.

ARE TEENAGERS HAPPIER THAN THEY WERE TEN YEARS AGO? If so, maybe it’s because they’re spending less time around other teenagers.

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JOHN FUND: How Lee Kuan Yew Created A Viable Welfare State:

Lee Kuan Yew, a member of Britain’s left-wing Labour party while a student at Cambridge, managed to create a workable welfare state, one that provides for people without creating Social Security–like Ponzi schemes or unsustainable entitlements. Both liberals and conservatives have much to learn from what he built, the details of which are missing in most of the tributes to him. Lee’s first priority when he became prime minister in 1959 was to reimagine Singapore’s economy. “Back then, this place was a swamp, with no natural resources, and it even had to import its drinking water from Malaysia,” Jim Rogers, a noted American investor who has lived in Singapore for nearly a decade, told me during my visit there. By embracing free trade, capital formation, vigorous meritocratic education, low taxes, and a reliable judicial system, Lee raised the per capita income of his country from $500 a year to some $52,000 a year today. That’s 50 percent higher than that of Britain, the colonial power that ruled Singapore for 150 years. Its average annual growth rate has averaged 7 percent since the 1970s. “A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore (population 5.6 million) than from Russia (population 140 million),” noted economist Thomas Sowell observes. But that wealth wasn’t used to create a traditional welfare state. Economist Mark Skousen notes that Singapore is rated along with Hong Kong as one of the two most free economies in the world. Any expansion of government is gradual and grudging. In 2013, when Singapore broadened its medical-benefits program, the local Straits Times newspaper made clear the government’s philosophy: “The first [priority] is to keep government subsidies targeted at those who most need them, rather than commit to benefits for all. Universal benefits are ‘wasteful and inequitable,’ and hard to take away once given, [finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam] said.” . . .

Singapore’s approach to the provision of health care, retirement income, and housing is in sharp distinction to that of other countries. People are required to make relatively high payments into savings plans from which they can later buy a home, pay tuition, and purchase a variety of insurance policies. For those under age 50, the employee contributes 20 percent of his income, and the employer 16 percent. A third of the employee’s share is put into a private Medisave account. When the balance reaches 34,100 U.S. dollars, any excess funds can be used for non-health-care purposes. All are enrolled in a catastrophic-health-care plan, although they can opt out.

Read the whole thing.

CONNECTICUT LAW TRIBUNE: Reining In Rogue Prosecutors Should Not Be Taboo Topic.

A SECRET OF GETTING AHEAD: The Power of Being Able to Do a Good Job at Tedious, Detail-Oriented Work.

COMPARING HER TO NIXON IS PROBABLY UNFAIR. TO NIXON. Leaked Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network. On the other hand, they make her lapses as Secretary of State even less forgivable, since she obviously knew what was going on. “Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations.”

FLIRTING ADVICE from a Tinder robot.

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ISN’T THE VERY TERM “TESTOSTERONE-ADDLED BRUTES” AWFULLY SEXIST? Plus: “If the brutishness of brutish men has a physical cause — testosterone — shouldn’t we be more empathetic the way we are toward other medical conditions that impair the mind? Isn’t it ableist of us to direct hostility toward ‘testosterone-addled brutes’?”

SO WHERE IS EVERYBODY? Extrasolar Planets Are, Almost, Everywhere.

PREPPING FOR A MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE: Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation. “Amazon has already automated some of the work done in its vast fulfillment centers. Robots in a few locations send shelves laden with products over to human workers who then grab and package them. These mobile robots, made by Kiva Systems, a company that Amazon bought in 2012 for $678 million, reduce the distance human workers have to walk in order to find products. However, no robot can yet pick and pack products with the speed and reliability of a human. Industrial robots that are already widespread in several industries are limited to extremely precise, repetitive work in highly controlled environments.”

But the robots get better every year, while the workers stay the same. Or, perhaps, get worse.

READER BOOK PLUG: From reader Paul Duffau: Surviving the Home Inspection: The Essential Seller’s Guide.

LESS THAN PERFECTLY: How Airlines Screen Their Pilots, and Watch Out for Warning Signs. Plus: “American regulations require that a flight attendant go in the cockpit whenever one pilot leaves. That is as a security measure, in case the remaining pilot has a medical issue and can’t open the security door. With an attendant in place, unlike in the Germanwings scenario, the co-pilot isn’t left alone. As CEO Carsten Spohr of Lufthansa (Germanwings’ parent airline) said in a press conference today, Europe doesn’t have such a rule.”

“GOVERNMENT” IS JUST A WORD FOR THE THINGS WE CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: Like stage gladiatorial pit-fights with inmates for our amusement.

RUSSELL BERMAN: The Western Rift Over Iran. “Suddenly it is the US that is from Venus and the Europeans are from Mars, to use the imagery of earlier debates. . . . American policy has largely involved withdrawals—from the Middle East—and relinquishing of leadership elsewhere.”

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 687.

IS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW AN EXCUSE? No, but Michael Cottone argues that maybe it should be, in his Rethinking Presumed Knowledge of the Law in the Regulatory Age. I think this is a very important topic and an important piece. As he notes, it expands (significantly!) on some of the ideas touched on in my Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything Is A Crime piece. (Bumped).

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Egypt-Saudi Invasion of Yemen Imminent.

The Egyptians’ decision to return to Yemen, which is essentially their Vietnam, is extremely significant. It reflects both enormous fear on the part of the Sunni powers and the strength of the Saudi-led alliance.

Events in Yemen continue to accelerate much faster than many experts predicted, and the potential for widespread sectarian war between Sunni and Shi’a grows more acute by the day. In some ways this portends even more trouble than ISIS’s fight against Iran’s proxies in Syria and Iraq: that fight is both bloody and strategically important, but ISIS is also an enemy of the Sunni powers (whose rule it wants to overthrow). Now, the Saudis and their allies are clearly prepared to confront Iran’s allies head-on.

The price of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive failure of strategy in the Middle East may be very high.

Before you can dub it a failure, you have to know what Obama is trying to accomplish.

ILYA SOMIN: Why mandatory jury service is a poor justification for mandatory voting.

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LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: FBI disrupts plot to kill scores at military base on behalf of Islamic State. “Authorities arrested an Illinois Army National Guardsman after he attempted to travel to Libya and fight with the Islamic State as well as the soldier’s cousin who was plotting to attack a U.S. military installation and kill scores, federal prosecutors announced Thursday. Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, and his cousin Jonas Marcel ­Edmonds, 29, both of Aurora, Ill., were charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.”

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Chicago Tribune: Concealed carry enters second year in the Southland.

Hayes, who previously opposed the law, also said he noticed suburbanites who now have concealed carry licenses seem to be less fearful of crime and more confident in community safety.

“Law enforcement has two goals: reduce crime and reduce fear of crime,” Hayes said. “This seems to have an impact on law-abiding citizens adjusting to their fear level by confidence and knowledge.”

Lutger said he liked having a gun on him because police don’t always arrive on time.

“It’s a great equalizer if you’re attacked or if you have a bunch of thugs that rob you or want to kill you,” Lutger said. “This is strictly for self protection of myself and my family.”

Well, yes. Plus:

In the year of concealed carry permits in Illinois, there have only been a couple incidents involving legal gun owners that have created headlines. In July, a concealed-carry permit holder in Crestwood tried shooting at a fleeing armed robber, hurting no one but forcing a police officer to duck for cover. In Chicago a member of the military who had a concealed carry permit shot and wounded an armed man who fired into a crowd on Chicago’s Far South Side.

Nevertheless, Hayes said he stopped opposing the concealed carry law when he realized that the past year has not resulted in the level of violence some anticipated.

Yeah, funny: The antigun folks always predict that the streets will run red with blood, and somehow they’re always wrong. But they never change their story.

SO, BASICALLY THE COCKPIT DOOR IS LOCKED AND WE’RE HEADING TOWARD THE MOUNTAIN: U.S. Caves to Key Iranian Demands as Nuke Deal Comes Together: Limited options for Congress as Obama seeks to bypass lawmakers.

HARRY REID won’t run for re-election.

Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

It doesn’t suggest huge enthusiasm for 2016.

ASHE SCHOW: Mob Justice And The Obama Administration:

When someone faces a trial by media, the default public position of the Obama administration has been to support the prevailing narrative. But in three recent high-profile cases, subsequent federal investigations have overturned the conventional wisdom and vindicated the people pilloried for questioning it from the beginning. . . .

Just two weeks ago, the media had another narrative dismantled — the whole notion that unarmed Ferguson resident Michael Brown had put his hands up in surrender but was shot anyway by police officer Darren Wilson.

The narrative spun last summer and fall was that Brown did not fight with or charge at Wilson, as Wilson and some witnesses claimed. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed that the Department of Justice would hold its own investigation of the Brown shooting, despite a grand jury refusing to indict Wilson. Sure enough, DOJ found that Brown had charged and fought the officer before being shot. Based on its finding, the DOJ declined to bring criminal charges against Wilson.

And just a week before the DOJ declined to charge Darren Wilson, the department declined to charge George Zimmerman with civil rights violations. . . .

The point here is that in example after example, the prevailing narrative sold by the media and social justice activists has been disproven after an investigation of the facts. When it comes down to it, it’s cheap and easy for Obama to say something in public to show solidarity with popular opinion. But having to back up that same popular opinion in a legal proceeding — or in Bergdahl’s case, by ignoring a possible crime — is often impossible.

But they wait until the press fever has died. And the Zimmerman hysteria was allowed to burn until after the 2012 elections, while the Ferguson report didn’t come out until after the midterms. In both cases, the mob anger was exploited in an effort to energize black and lefty votes.

THAT REUTERS STORY ON CAMPUS SEX ASSAULTS THAT I LINKED YESTERDAY is looking pretty bad. See the updates to the post.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, NIXONIAN ADMINISTRATORS EDITION: Murky Inquiry Targets Critic of N.Y.U. Role in Abu Dhabi, and a Reporter. “New York University’s fraught tenure as an intellectual prize of the Middle East has taken a new and mysterious turn: A private investigator has been making inquiries about an N.Y.U. professor who criticized the exploitation of migrant workers building the university’s campus in Abu Dhabi. The same investigator, working for an as-yet unidentified party, has also sought information on a reporter for The New York Times who wrote last year about the harsh conditions endured by those workers.”

The university disavows all knowledge of this operation.

THE HILL: Gun debate heats up in Senate budget battle.

Gun rights groups are rallying their members behind a series of budget measures aimed at strengthening the Second Amendment and restricting gun control efforts.

As the Senate debates the federal government’s 2016 budget, Republicans and gun advocates are pushing for a number of amendments that would expand concealed-carry laws and block the Obama administration from issuing what opponents call a “backdoor” ban on guns. . . .

The Senate is looking at a number of various pro-gun amendments that would expand concealed carry laws and block future gun control initiatives.

For instance, an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) would block “any legislation that would place further restrictions on the right of law-abiding Americans to own a firearm,” according to the senator’s office.

The amendment would block gun control measures seeking to ban semi-automatic weapons and magazines, and create a national gun registry, unless they have support from two-thirds of senators.

The recent attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban certain types of armor-piercing ammunition used in AR-15 rifles is still fresh in the minds of many Republican lawmakers.

The ATF dropped its bid to ban this high-powered ammunition earlier this month, but Republicans and gun rights groups are concerned the agency may try to revive the ban in the future.

In response, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and David Vitter (R-La.) are pushing an amendment that would prohibit the ATF from attempting to ban bullets that are primarily used by hunters and sportsmen.

The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights are both actively lobbying lawmakers in favor of these measures and urging their members to do the same.

Good.

RABBI DEMANDS: Let Jews Defend Themselves from Terrorism.

The recent atrocities remind of us of a time in Europe when Jews were prohibited from mere possession of a firearm. In response to street fighting in Germany in the 1920s, the Weimar Republic enacted stringent gun laws that gave the government discretion to deny permits to “untrustworthy” persons and to register and confiscate guns for “public safety.”

Adolf Hitler conveniently inherited this gun control scheme when he seized power in 1933. He quickly disarmed and crushed his political enemies, notably the Social Democrats.

As the Nazi dictatorship consolidated its power, anti-Semitic measures followed. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were adopted, depriving Jews of the rights of citizenship. Shortly thereafter, Werner Best, second in command to the Gestapo, issued a directive to all police authorities stating that “firearms in the hands of the Jews represent a considerable danger for the German people,” and thus no gun permits should be issued to them.

By the autumn of 1938, Hitler’s henchmen were preparing to launch a major pogrom. Jewish assets were confiscated. To ensure that they could not resist the onslaught that was to come, police throughout Germany ordered the Jews to surrender all firearms. Since the firearms were registered, the police knew who had them. The many who complied lined up at police stations to turn in their guns, after which they were interrogated by the Gestapo. Those who did not had their houses searched and were arrested.

Rather than surrender their guns, they should have opened a no-limit hunting season on Nazis. People who want to take your guns away aren’t doing it for your benefit.

WENDY MCELROY: ‘The Hunting Ground’: Reaping Profit from Rape Hysteria.

When the ‘documentary’ “The Hunting Ground” premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, it was advertised as a “piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses.” In fact, its objectivity and perspective have been systematically dismantled since then. The film is best understood as a volley in the campus consent wars now raging across North America. It is part of a manufactured and coordinated hysteria about campus rape that imposes a politically-correct agenda and strips accused male students of due process rights.

Peel back the panic and you will often find profit. Some PC advocates profit from the power and prestige that being a savior can bring. The New York Times article “An Unblinking Look at Sexual Assaults on Campus: ‘The Hunting Ground,’ a Film About Rape Culture at Colleges” (Jan. 25, 2015) quoted the Democrat Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, as declaring “[Y]ou’re going to see it in response to this film. Believe me, there will be fallout.” The article indicated that Boxer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are pushing legislation that could ride into law on a wave of emotion created by “The Hunting Ground.”

Political careers, administrative jobs, government grants, book and lecture contracts are just some of vast financial benefits that rest upon continuing the “rape culture” crusade on campus.

Yep. “Rape culture” may be a myth, but the rape hysteria industry is very real. Plus:

The most remarkable aspect of the recipient list, however, is the apparent lack of any grants to groups that focus on preventing rape or sexual assault. The names of recipient organizations drive this conclusion. A single grant to Planned Parenthood is as close as NEO seems to come to funding sexual health or safety. And, yet, the “Take Action!” cry from “The Hunting Ground” states that NEO ensures “that your tax-deductible donation supports student-led campaigns, public education, policy reform, and prevention approaches.” Wouldn’t that goal best be ensured by an organization with an established track record on sexual assault? There are many of them out there.

The 2013 form is similar in its disclosed disbursements; no apparent grants go to organizations that address rape and sexual violence, let alone rape on campus. The vast majority of recipients reveal that NEO has an entirely different focus. Only a few recipients have sufficiently ambiguous names to allow the possibility that they deal with rape in some manner.

No wonder the iconoclastic website SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) inquired after “the propriety” of “The Hunting Ground” being used to fund raise for NEO. SAVE asks, “exactly how much of movie-viewers’ donations will be used to underwrite Michele Lord’s excessive salary?” Or used by NEO to pursue partisan issues like immigrant rights? Or used by NEO to encourage people to vote Democrat?

Another question needs to be answered. If, in fact, NEO is using “The Hunting Ground” as a fund raiser, did NEO finance its development in any manner? Is there a connection between director Kirby Dick and NEO? The source of funding is difficult to uncover. Indeed, even how much the ‘documentary’ cost to make is something of a mystery. Mojo lists the budget for “The Hunting Ground” as “N/A.” Other sources claim it was $1.8 million.

The possibility of “The Hunting Ground” being a fund-raiser for social justice causes unrelated to rape is disturbing.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down with these people.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: The Economist: Lawyers Beware: The Accountants Are Coming After Your Business.

I’D LIKE TO SEE MORE EVIDENCE FOR THIS CLAIM: Co-Pilot of Germanwings Airbus Was MUSLIM CONVERT …’Hero of Islamic State’?

March 26, 2015

HMM: ‘Space nets’ aim to capture threats to satellites and spacecraft.