May 22, 2018

SPACE: The Latest: Science satellites deployed from SpaceX rocket.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: This Motorcycle Concept Uses Air Jets to Prevent Skids and Crashes.

AT AMAZON, browse the latest deals in Industrial and Scientific.

Plus, save on bestselling Pet Supplies

WHEN SENATOR JOHN F. KENNEDY TRIED TO GET A YOUNG REPORTER NAMED TOM WOLFE FIRED. “A reminder to liberals who’ve deluded themselves into believing that politicians playing hardball with reporters is a recent phenomenon. To his credit, and not surprising to those of us who greatly admired his work, Wolfe resisted the much-ballyhooed Kennedy charm that left so many of his media cohorts weak in the knees. Incidentally, the man Kennedy sent to do his dirty work is remembered today for a different reason — it was Larry O’Brien’s office that was targeted by Watergate burglars in June 1972.”

OBSTRUCTING INJUSTICE: Ann Althouse On Max Boot. “Anyway, there’s more science detail at that Wikipedia article, and when I get back to Boot, I see he knows his ‘adage’ about frogs is wrong. . . Then why start a column with that bullshit? . . . But in real life, the frog does jump out when it gets too hot. The slow heating does not interfere with that capacity. Using the real-life analogy, we’re not getting terribly upset yet because we don’t think it’s too hot yet, and we will be able to jump when we decide that it is. That last sentence forgets the science and screams at us to jump now because otherwise we’ll be boiled alive. But that’s alarmism. Frogs don’t live like that, so why should we?”

SCIENCE: An egg a day may keep the doctor away, study claims.

CHANGE (IT BACK): Congress Is Poised to Pass Dodd-Frank Rollback for Smaller Banks.

The Senate approved the legislation earlier this year, so the House vote could result in the bill going to President Trump for his signature.

The legislation is symbolically important because Republicans have been railing against the Dodd-Frank law as an example of federal overreach.

But the legislation does little to alter the oversight of the country’s biggest banks. Instead, it strips away regulatory requirements that smaller banks have said are burdensome and unnecessary.

The effort has enjoyed rare bipartisan support. When the Senate voted on the bill in March, 16 Democrats voted alongside all 50 Republicans to pass it. Progressive Democrats have sharply criticized it.

Progressives usually find themselves opposed to actual progress — they’re on wrong side of history, you might say.

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Belly fat linked to lower levels of vitamin D.

BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERIC METAXAS: The Media Is ‘In Love With Being Unable to Understand’ Trump. “I can no longer take The New York Times or CNN seriously, because it’s a steady drum-beat. CNN has gone mad, I’ve never seen anything like it. The only time they’re not criticizing Trump is on some of the commericals.”

A NEW FRONT OPENS IN THE CAKE WARS: Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it: Summa — Laude.

The Publix form included a section for “special instructions” for the bakery, in which Koscinski explained that Summa Cum Laude was a Latin term for high academic honor and was not profane. She included a link to a website explaining the meaning of summa cum laude and said she didn’t think much about it afterward.

Cake day arrived.

Koscinski said she was so busy preparing things for the celebration, that she sent her husband and sister to the store to get some last minute items and to pick up the cake.

When they returned, everyone gathered around the cake. When they opened the box, there it was: “Congrats Jacob! Summa — Laude Class of 2018.”

Jacob was “absolutely humiliated,” Koscinski said to The Post. “It was unbelievable. I ordered the special graduation edition cake. I can’t believe I’m the first one to ever write “Summa Cum Laude” on a cake.

Koscinski said she then had to explain why the grocery store censored “cum” from Jacob’s cake to her 70-year-old mother.

Humiliated? I’d like to think my 17-year old self would have roared with laughter if he saw that on his graduation cake and heard the story why.

THE RX-8 WAS AN UNDERRATED CAR: Why Car Lovers Are So Mad for Mazda’s Rotary Engine Revival.

HUH: Mystery in Mueller probe: Where’s the hacking indictment?

THE KAUS-REYNOLDS PARADOX:

1. A government agency fails.

2. When it finally ‘fesses up, the failure is immediately consigned to the memory hole.

3. The consequences of its failure are then used as a justification for giving that agency more power over ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with the failed policies and botched operations.

Read the whole thing.

CHANGE: Oh My: GOP Surges to 2018 Generic Ballot Lead in New Reuters Poll. “The GOP is up six points in this series. Color me a bit skeptical, and these numbers will bounce around regardless, but Republicans haven’t led on this question in any major in roughly two years, so it’s worth flagging. What explains this see-saw back toward Republicans? As someone once said, it’s the economy, stupid.”

Related: Americans report stronger finances in Trump’s first year: Federal Reserve.

YOU CALL THAT PRIME? Banned From Amazon: The Shoppers Who Make Too Many Returns. “Customers say their accounts were closed without warning; it happens when ‘you’re creating a lot of headaches for Amazon’.”

Amazon has cultivated an image as a customer-friendly company in part by making it easy for shoppers to send back items they don’t want. The site’s lax return policies have conditioned consumers to expect the same treatment from other retailers, adding to pressure on brick-and-mortar chains. But shoppers are finding out there are some customers Amazon has determined aren’t worth keeping.

Nir Nissim received an email in March notifying him that his account had been closed because he violated the company’s conditions of use agreement. “You cannot open a new account or use another account to place orders on our site,” Amazon wrote.

The 20-year-old, who works at an ice cream shop in Israel, said he had a $450 gift card balance that he could no longer use. “I contacted them almost every day for a week or two,” he said.

Eventually a customer service agent told him that his account had been closed due to his return activity. Mr. Nissim said he has returned just one item this year—a computer drive—and four items last year. He sent more messages to protest the ban, including one to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. An Amazon employee—responding on behalf of Mr. Bezos—notified him he was reinstated.

After that kind of treatment, you have to wonder if Nissim will remain a customer after using up his remaining gift card balance.

JONATHAN TURLEY IN THE HILL: FBI source in Russia probe raises alarms over political surveillance. “Three questions, however, stand out over his role. The details of Halper’s work still are largely unknown. What we know is that the FBI carried out an investigation targeting Trump campaign officials with both surveillance, document demands, and at least one informant. All of this was done through national security powers, where warrants are easily obtained and kept secret. We know this investigation began, at the latest, in July 2016 and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application was based in part on a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign. We also know that key Justice Department officials expressed hostile views of Trump in emails, and that key Justice Department officials have been subjects of demotions and one criminal referral. . . . While the media has tended to downplay these allegations, they are manifestly serious. The use of a paid FBI asset to target a national campaign in this way would be unprecedented. The closest we have come historically was the allegation in 1980 that aides to Ronald Reagan spied on Jimmy Carter’s campaign and obtained confidential documents Carter used to prepare for a debate. While he has denied the allegations, one of those aides identified was Halper.”

I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Supernovae Could Be to Blame For Mass Extinctions on Earth, Study Shows.

BOSTON POLICE CAPTAIN’S SON PLEADS GUILTY TO ISIS BOMB PLOT:

[Alexander] Ciccolo, who went by the name Ali Al Amriki, pleaded guilty to all charges. His lawyer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Prosecutors say Ciccolo told the person cooperating with authorities that he planned to commit acts of terrorism to support the Islamic State group, including attacking an unidentified university using assault rifles and homemade bombs similar to the pressure cooker bombs used in the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon attack. The bombing at the marathon finish line killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Ciccolo was seen buying a pressure cooker shortly before his arrest, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say agents found partially made ‘‘Molotov cocktails’’ in Ciccolo’s apartment after he was arrested. Authorities say posts on Ciccolo’s Facebook page included a photo of a dead American soldier that said ‘‘Thank you Islamic State!’’

When your father is a police captain, whose job is to maintain order – to maintain civilization – what better way to say “screw dad” than to actively promote de-civilization?

THE SUICIDE OF THE WEST: Girls at risk of forced marriage and FGM in Sweden are being told to carry a spoon in their underwear.

Katarina Idegard, who is in charge of tackling honour-based violence in Sweden’s second biggest city Gothenburg, said girls should hide the spoons so that they would be taken off for questioning in private room where they could raise the alarm.

The spoons would trigger metal detectors as a last chance to get help, Ms Idegard said.

She said: “The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through security checks. You will be taken aside and you can then talk to staff in private.”

“It is a last chance to sound the alarm.”

To be fair, others were sounding that alarm quite a long time ago.

(Classical reference in headline.)

GOVERNORS TO CONGRESS: “Pass Right to Try.”

Last summer, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Right to Try, a Goldwater Institute policy that protects the right of terminally ill patients to try investigational treatments that could save or extend their lives. The U.S. House followed suit earlier this year, passing a different version of the legislation. In a letter sent to congressional leadership over the weekend, the governors call on the two chambers to resolve the differences between the two bills so that it may be sent to the president for his signature.

“Gridlock in Washington remains the only barrier standing between terminally ill patients and the hope they both need and deserve,” the governors wrote. “These patients and their families have no more time to waste.”

The letter was co-signed by Governor Christopher Sununu of New Hampshire, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Edwaard Baza Calvo of Guam, Jeff Colyer of Kansas, Matt Bevin of Kentucky, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. In calling on Congress to act expeditiously, the governors pointed to the widespread adoption of Right to Try in the states as a model for action.

Faster, please.

PRODUCTIVITY: Should Law Schools Ban Smartphones In Faculty Offices? “There is also some evidence that productivity suffers in the mere presence of smartphones. When workers in a recent study by the University of Texas and University of California had their personal phones placed on their desks—untouched—their cognitive performance was lower than when their devices were in another location, such as in a handbag or the pocket of a coat hanging near their workspace.”

Once again, we need only turn to the wisdom of Kanye:

EVERGREEN HEADLINE: Some Georgia Democrats Have Some Really Weird Ideas.

Elsewhere in Georgia, Democrats will compete for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Jody Hice in the tenth district, a fairly Republican-leaning (R+15) mix of urban and rural communities between Atlanta and Augusta. There’s poorly funded Tabitha Johnson-Green, music teacher Chalis Montgomery, and professor Richard Winfield.

Some of the offerings in Winfield’s 1998 book The Just Family are . . . odd. For starters, he seems to think that “constitutional law should extend to family relations and specify the inalienable household duties of spouses, parents and children, leaving the contingent dimensions of these entitlements and obligations to the corrigible labors of positive legislation.” Get government out of our bedrooms . . . and into every other room in the house, apparently.

His perspective on the mentally disabled in the same book is horrifying: “In the case of irretrievably impaired children, parents retain personal responsibility for providing care, since no other individuals have any particular obligation to bear the burden of a caretaking without upbringing. Civil institutions, however, can relieve parents of their charge without violating any rights of the victim since the latter’s status as a potential person has been obliterated. A systematic treatment of such intervention must await the conception of the relation between family and civil society.”

He seems to want the government to get into the business of requiring a license for parenting.

“Although current practice tends to limit public scrutiny of parental qualifications to prospective adopters, the need is just as pressing with natural parents of children. Although requiring a license for parenting, as Blustein suggests, is one method for publicly certifying parental qualifications, the likelihood of reproduction by unlicensed parents makes this an unwieldly option. A more effective measure would involve making training in parenting a requirement of mandatory public education and attempting to ensure that all able individuals complete that schooling with success.”

(Is it just me, or does the term “unlicensed parents” send a chill down your spine”?)

Yes. Although some at NBC are intrigued by Winfield’s ideas and wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

HIGH EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: 88% of Pomona Students Think the Campus Climate Silences Them. “‘Very liberal’ students are nearly four times more likely than moderate and conservative students to favor prohibiting some types of speech.”

Conservative, moderate, and liberal students are to varying degrees concerned about this trend. But 41 percent of self-described “very liberal” students thought Pomona’s policies on offensive speech had not gone far enough toward making potentially insensitive remarks unutterable.

That’s according to a fascinating survey of Pomona students and faculty conducted by Gallup. About a third of students and two thirds of faculty participated, which makes it a relatively comprehensive snapshot of the school’s attitudes about speech.

It turns out that Pomona students are more inclined than both faculty and students nationally to say that the college should prohibit certain viewpoints.

In the name of diversity, of course.

Maybe Pomona ought to make Logic 101 mandatory.

A MEDIA MYTH CONVERGENCE: Erroneous claims about the 1972 ‘Napalm Girl’ photo.

Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.

DON’T BE EVIL: Google ‘identifies rape victims.’

Searches for attackers and alleged attackers in several prominent sexual assault cases automatically reveal the names of women that they have been convicted or accused of abusing.

Entering the name of a victim or complainant in the site’s search engine can also flag up the identity of their abuser or alleged abuser. The identity of vulnerable defendants granted anonymity can also be revealed.

Google uses automated “related search” and “autocomplete” functions to direct users to content associated with the terms that they enter online. The related search feature makes suggestions at the bottom of the web page based on what other users have been looking for. Autocomplete adds words into the search bar once the user has started typing to predict their query.

Google’s algorithm automatically brings up victims’ names because it has logged popular searches for information about victims in prominent cases, often after they were illegally named on social media.

It seems there’s no malicious intent here — just an unintended consequence of Google’s ever-present “helpfulness.”

EVERGREEN HEADLINE: BATTERIES STILL SUCK, BUT RESEARCHERS ARE WORKING ON IT.

IN THE MAIL: From Vox Day & Cliff Cosmic, Alt-Hero 1: Crackdown (Alt★Hero).

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals.

PEAK OIL: U.S. World’s Top Fossil Fuels Producer for Sixth Year in a Row.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: “Fascism is back. Blame the Internet,” declared a headline yesterday at the Washington Post.  

Nahh. I blame the old dead tree version of printing. Not least of which, a then-subsidiary of the Washington Post, which gleefully declared that socialism had been nationalized throughout America in February of 2009 at the beginning of the Obama era:

In the February 16 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands February 9), “We Are All Socialists Now,” Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas observe that the America of 2009 has become a more socialist country, and the shift began not under a Democrat but a Republican. Plus: how the United States is turning European; the draw of gangs in L.A.; the blackberry president; why Americans don’t hate the rich; and an interview with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) (Newscom TagID: prnphotos078747) [Photo via Newscom]

KOREA UPDATE: A very long post but information-rich.

An excerpt:

Amidst all the news about peace in Korea one bit of news got overlooked. In April it became known that another senior North Korean official had defected, apparently to a NATO (European) country. The defection apparently took place in February when a North Korean counter-intelligence officer named Kang, while stationed in northeast China, slipped away and took a lot of top secret documents with him. The North Korean government responded by ordering seven agents into China with orders to find Kang and execute him immediately. These seven agents failed, apparently because they were unable to obtain sufficient assistance from their Chinese counterparts. Another three more experienced and better financed agents were then sent after Kang, wherever he was, with the same “execute on sight” orders. That details of this case have been leaked indicates the Kang has arrived in a nation willing to grant asylum and also protect Kang from the North Korean assassins (who will always be out there for a defector of Kang’s stature.) Unfortunately colonel Kang’s family was not so lucky.

The Kim regime is brittle.

The post’s analysis of CVID (Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Denuclearization) is excellent background. I’ll be writing about that in a couple of weeks.

Scroll way way down to the TODAY (May 22) section discussing the meeting between President Trump and South Korean President Moon.

RAPID DEPLOYMENT: Israel First to Use F-35 Jet in Combat. “We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East.”

“We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts,” Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin said during the IAF Senior Air Force Conference in Herzilya.

Norkin made the comments while showing a picture of one Israeli F-35 flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut during the day. He did not mention when the picture was taken.

Israel declared initial operational capability of the world’s most advanced jet in December after receiving nine F-35s. The Air Force is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.

Israel had previously scored at least one nearly spooky success against Syria’s Russian-made antiaircraft defenses without the use of stealth aircraft. Deploying the F-35 puts even fewer lives at risk.

#JOURNALISM: How the Media Twisted the Story of the Koch Foundation Gift to George Mason.

DEPT. OF NO ACCOUNTABILITY, NOVEL THEORIES DIVISION: Video of a SUNY Binghamton police officer, who clearly drew the short straw, telling students that they’re somehow responsible if other people take the flyers they’re passing out and throw them on the ground. It’s amazing what kind of rules you can come up with when you think you’ll never have to defend them. You will of course be shocked to discover that the flyers were critical of Binghamton administrators.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Pomona students: Campus climate chills speech.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Show Me the Documents and Much, Much More. “You’ve got to wonder what is in these documents that the DOJ and FBI will not turn them over to Congress. For months, they have resisted turning over documents rightful requested as part of the Congressional oversight.”

It’s been long enough now that the kindest possible take is that the contents of the documents are innocuous, but DOJ is engaging in an illegal power-play against Congress. But it’s also been long enough that the kindest take is probably also the least likely take.

MIKE POMPEO WARNS IRAN:

“The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations,” Pompeo, shy of a full month on the job, said at The Heritage Foundation, warning Iran’s leaders that the “strongest sanctions in history” are coming…“The regime has been fighting all over the Middle East for years. After our sanctions come in force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive.”

Sounds like Maximum Pressure Iran — and it is!

UPDATE: The Battle Rial. In which the ayatollahs encounter more financial pressure. As my “maximum pressure” essay noted (previous link), in April the rial plunged in value. Iran already faces a currency crisis.

CONSISTENCY IS THE HOBGOBLIN OF LARGE AMBITIONS: Kamala Harris Touts ‘Fierce Opposition to the Death Penalty’ But In 2014 Defended It In Federal Court.

LONGBOW HELLFIRE AT SEA: The littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Milwaukee fires a modified Hellfire missile. The ship was participating in an exercise pitting it against a swarm of small boats (“fast inshore attack craft targets” in milspeak.)

HMM: With the individual mandate dead, the rest of Obamacare is unconstitutional.

In fact, the only basis for the mandate’s constitutionality, according to Roberts, is that it’s a tax — not a fine, penalty, or anything else. This is a vital point, because when Republicans passed their tax reform legislation in December 2017, they included a provision in the law that lowers the individual mandate penalty to $0 beginning in January 2019, effectively eliminating any hope the individual mandate could still be considered a “tax.”

If the tax-less individual mandate is now found to be unconstitutional, it could very likely result in the entire healthcare law being struck down. In their 2012 dissenting opinion, four Supreme Court judges argued the ACA could not survive absent the individual mandate. Although Roberts never addressed the question in his opinion, there are good reasons to believe he should agree to throw the entire law out.

When determining whether a law should survive despite having at least one provision determined to be illegal, the Supreme Court has enacted a two-part test. In his 2012 dissent, Scalia explained the first part is “whether the now truncated statute will operate in the manner Congress intended. If not, the remaining provisions must be invalidated.”

Because Congress is the one that determined the Obamacare fine should be $0, it would likely be difficult to argue the ACA is operating in a manner it didn’t intend. But the second part of the test poses a much more difficult problem.

“Second, even if the remaining provisions can operate as Congress designed them to operate, the Court must determine if Congress would have enacted them standing alone and without the unconstitutional portion,” Scalia wrote. “If Congress would not, those provisions, too, must be invalidated.”

The reasoning seems solid, but you never know what the Roberts Court might do.

INDO-PACOM?: The Pentagon may rename Pacific Command “Indo-Pacific Command.”

And why do that?

Congress is pushing for increased focus on China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific and the 2019 defense bill includes several provisions to counter Chinese influence there.

What’s in a name? A message to Beijing.

RELATED: China’s Strategic Strait In The South China Sea.

BYRON YORK: When did Trump-Russia probe begin? Investigators focus on mystery months.

Revelations that an FBI informant insinuated himself into the Trump campaign have led some congressional investigators to rethink their theories on how and why former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department began investigating the 2016 Trump presidential effort.

Most reporting has focused on the July 31, 2016, creation of a document formally marking the beginning of the FBI counterintelligence probe targeting the Trump campaign. The document, known as the electronic communication, or EC, is said to have focused on the case of George Papadopoulos, the peripheral Trump adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller about his contacts with people connected to Russia.

Most of the key events of the Trump-Russia investigation — the Carter Page wiretap, the wiretap of Michael Flynn’s conversations, the presentation of Trump dossier allegations to the president-elect — took place after the formal start of the FBI counterintelligence investigation.

But now comes word of the FBI informant, described in various accounts as a retired American professor living in England. The Washington Post reported that, “The professor’s interactions with Trump advisers began a few weeks before the opening of the investigation, when Page met the professor at the British symposium.”

A few weeks before the opening of the investigation — those are the words that have raised eyebrows among Hill investigators. If it was before the investigation, then what was an FBI informant doing gathering undercover information when there was not yet an investigation?

What, indeed?

AMERICA’S LONGEST WAR: Taliban Overruns Second District in Ghazni.

The Taliban claim that it took control of Ajristan cannot be independently verified in the Afghan press. However, the Taliban is very credible when it comes to making assertions related to control of districts in Afghanistan.

The Afghan press has reported that the Taliban has been advancing on Ajristan’s district center and it has been on “the verge of collapse.” The district governor and police chief have fled the district center to another area in Ajristan and have been surrounded by the Taliban, TOLONews reported. This means it is very likely that Afghan forces abandoned the governor’s compound and police headquarters.

Ajristan is the second district in Ghazni to fall to the Taliban in the past week. On May 16, the Taliban said it overran the Jaghatu district in Ghazni province “after an intense gunfight of heavy and light arms.”

Security in Ghazni province has deteriorated rapidly over the past year. Of Ghazni’s 19 districts, the Taliban control five and contest nine more, according to information compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Only five districts are considered to be controlled by the Afghan government.

Ghazni City, the provincial center, is one of seven provincial capitals under direct Taliban threat, according to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense.

On the one hand, this isn’t going very well. On the other, Ghazni is home to one of the world’s largest lithium deposits.

WHY THE FURY OVER JORDAN PETERSON? He’s restarting debates the Left thought it had won.

JULIE KELLY ON real journalists doing real journalism in the Mueller era.

LET THE CHIPS FALL: Did The Obama Administration Spy On Trump Using Flimsy Evidence? Let’s Find Out. “After all, if the DOJ is incorruptible, there’s nothing to worry about.”

David Harsanyi:

I don’t know if there’s a big conspiracy by the deep state. But it’s pretty obvious to me that leaders of our institutions aren’t above engaging in spying. John Brennan spied on the legislative branch and lied about it to the American people. James Clapper spied on the American people through a domestic surveillance program and lied about it to Congress. Although the Obama administration never tweeted nasty attacks on journalists, it did spy on and prosecute them. It’s completely plausible that those in the upper echelon of law enforcement saw Trump as a threat, then used wobbly evidence as the pretext to investigate his campaign. If not, it’ll be good to clear their names.

“FBI used informant to investigate Russia ties to campaign, not to spy, as Trump claims,” read a truly silly New York Times headline last week. You can call it whatever makes you happy, but in the real world the act of furtively gathering information about someone else is called “spying.”

The Washington Post reported, for instance, that the informant was surreptitiously seeking information by “seeking out and meeting three different Trump campaign officials.” The spy, according to the piece, had contacts with the CIA. This is unprecedented. Why shouldn’t we find out if the reasons that girded the investigation were sound?

Indeed.

HOW ORIGINAL: Dems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp.’

RELAX, PARENTS — SCHOOL IS A SAFE PLACE FOR YOU KIDS, STILL: Contrary to the MSM’s constant barrage suggesting there is an absolute epidemic of school shootings, LifeZette’s Brendan Kirby reports that data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows kids are far more at risk of dying from things like piercings, residential fires and pedal cycles.

POWER LINE: What’s Wrong With Those Texans?

That’s the question the Associated Press asks, following the school shootings in Santa Fe: “School shooting may not bring change to gun-loving Texas.” . . .

What’s interesting is that the AP never hints at what “gun restrictions” the State of Texas ought to adopt. Indeed, it becomes obvious that the AP reporter, speaking for liberals and the mainstream of the Democratic Party, doesn’t much care: any restrictions will do.

Because it’s all about sticking it to those rubes in Flyover Country and showing them who’s boss.

L’HYPOCRITE: Ariane chief seems frustrated with SpaceX for driving down launch costs. “I cannot tell my teams: ‘Goodbye, see you next year!'”

Like Russia and the US-based United Launch Alliance, the Ariane Group faces pricing pressure from SpaceX, which offers launch prices as low as $62 million for its Falcon 9 rocket. It has specifically developed the Ariane 6 rocket to compete with the Falcon 9 booster.

But there are a couple of problems with this. Despite efforts to cut costs, the two variants of the Ariane 6 will still cost at least 25 percent more than SpaceX’s present-day prices. Moreover, the Ariane 6 will not fly until 2020 at the earliest, by which time Falcon 9 could offer significantly cheaper prices on used Falcon 9 boosters if it needed to. (The Ariane 6 rocket is entirely expendable).

With this background in mind, the chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain Charmeau, gave an interview to the German publication Der Spiegel. The interview was published in German, but a credible translation can be found here. During the interview, Charmeau expressed frustration with SpaceX and attributed its success to subsidized launches for the US government.

Ariane has zero room to complain about government subsidies.

WELL: E-mails Show FBI Brass Discussed Dossier Briefing Details With CNN. It’s like they’re all on the same anti-Trump team, whether it’s the “nonpartisan” bureaucracy or the “neutral” journalists.

JOHN HAWKINS: 5 Reasons Kids Become School Shooters.

Broken homes, broken homes, broken homes, broken homes, broken homes.

USA TODAY: Crossfire Hurricane: Pull back curtain on FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump, Russia.

Remember the umbrage in March 2017 when the president said that he had been “wiretapped” before the election? Then-FBI Director James Comey testified he had had “no information” to support that idea, and he had “looked carefully inside the FBI.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was no surveillance, and as DNI he would have known about a court order on “something like this.” PolitiFact labeled the claim 100% false.

What a difference a year makes. Recent revelations of the extent of the anti-Trump surveillance activity have forced Trump critics to adopt a new narrative. Clapper now says spying on the campaign was actually a good thing. The New York Times took issue with the term “spying,” saying rather that it was simply an “investigation.” This dickering over terms is reminiscent of when former Attorney General Loretta Lynch insisted the “investigation” into Hillary Clinton’s home-brew email server be called a “matter.” . . .

The FBI and Justice Department could help matters at this point with radical transparency, releasing all the information about every aspect of what they dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane. But at every turn the DOJ has raised national security objections to revealing practically anything important. This is harmful to the DOJ and the country. The department leadership needs to understand that a considerable number of Americans believe that the DOJ itself has become a national security threat.

Besides, how could the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign not have been for political purposes? We have FBI special agent Peter Strzok’s private texts to his paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page reviewing an Aug. 15, 2016, meeting in then-deputy director Andrew McCabe’s office with top FBI officials, saying the government “can’t take (the) risk” that “Trump gets elected” and the Russia investigation was their “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. If the Strzok-Page texts were not still heavily and strategically redacted we would know much more. And the fact remains that a major party candidate has never been subjected to such a bizarrely concocted and systematic official investigation during and after an election. Derailing this bastardized process and the Mueller investigation it spawned is not obstruction of justice, but obstruction of injustice.

Whoever came up with the Rolling Stones-inspired name “Crossfire Hurricane” for the horrendous spy operation had a strange sense of humor. But as we watch the truth gradually emerge, see the abuses of power laid bare, and entertain the prospect that the principle actors behind this wretched excess may be held criminally responsible, to quote the Stones, “it’s all right now, in fact it’s a gas.”

I remain unsatisfied.

JOHN KASS: School shooters are a symptom of a culture that is ill.

I know two Greek-American kids who brought shotguns to high school.

My brother Peter and me.

There were two 12-gauge shotguns. We were going hunting. . . .

The wave of school shootings dating back to Columbine are telling us something, but we don’t want to understand, because understanding might make us guilty, and get in the way of our true American pastime: seeking instant gratification.

When Peter and I brought our guns to school, we weren’t threats. We didn’t have Twitter or Facebook.

We were just two boys with a good pointing dog on a cool morning in autumn.

We locked the shotguns in the trunk in the school parking lot and parked in the shade. We left our pointer, Jason, in the car with a bowl of water in his dog cage, with the windows half open.

Then we went to class to be marked as “present” before we ditched and drove to some fields near Kankakee to hunt pheasants.

“We didn’t think about killing anybody,” said Pete.

I’ve got some related thoughts here.

OR, IN OTHER WORDS, WE’VE HAD ENOUGH:  Sauce for the Gander.

I DON’T BUY IT.  ON THE OTHER HAND IF THE DEMOCRATS BELIEVE THIS, THEY’LL BECOME ANTI-THIRD-WORLD-MIGRANT IN TWO SECONDS FLAT:  Data: Low-Skilled Immigration Boosts Republicans.

(I think the study is flawed by thinking that left and right in America and in Europe mean the same thing.  Right in Europe is “blood and soil” while left is “internationalist.”  ALL of them, left and right are socialists.  Immigration to America skilled or unskilled boosts the democrats because they’re closer to the spectrum the immigrants understand.  Their entire left to right spectrum, in other countries, is compassed by the democrats.  It takes years for the immigrants to even understand that, and realize the right here is the party of freedom, and that freedom is desirable.  And that’s the ones who even ever get it, which is not universal.)

SURE.  THIS WILL END WELL:  Robots can now grow human organs.

BUT WHAT PRECISELY DO THEY WANT TO DO THERE?  China takes giant step toward landing on far side of moon.

NOT SINCE FIRST SON WAS BORN.  STILL PRETTY HAPPY. HOPEFULLY BACK PROBLEMS DON’T SET IN:  This bra size reportedly makes women the happiest.

IGNORING YOUR LOCAL LANDMARKS AS “TOO TOURISTY” IS QUINTESSENTIALLY AMERICAN:  Americans aren’t great at visiting their own landmarks.

OKAY, CRIME DOES SOMETIMES PAY (I WONDER WHAT’S ON DISPLAY IN THE DEALER ROOM?):  The convention where fans go to relish tales of rape and murder.

May 21, 2018

KAREN MCQUILLAN: Outside The Defensible Perimeter. “Five years ago, my husband and I bought a house in the emptiest county in America. We went there because the night sky is so dark, you can walk in the high desert by starlight and cast a shadow, so dark you can see distant galaxies and the zodiacal light. Three types of people live in our rural area: amateur astronomers, ranchers, and illegal aliens. . . . It is not even a secret that the 60 miles between the border and Interstate 10 are treated as a no man’s land. We live and vote and pay taxes in America, but the government acts as if we are beyond the defensible perimeter of the country. Border Patrol is everywhere, but even with President Trump, they are just going through the circular motions of catch and release.”

IN WHICH MARK LEVIN AGREES WITH PROF. CALABRESI: Appointment of Mueller violates Constitution.

AT AMAZON, deals on Men’s Underwear.

OPEN THREAD: Frolic away.

I THINK THESE REALLY WORK FOR SOME PEOPLE, BUT THAT THEY’RE WILDLY OVERPRESCRIBED: Unnecessary and accidental use of ADHD drugs increases over 60%, study suggests.

AT AMAZON, save in Arts Crafts and Sewing.

Plus, summer deals in Camera and Photo.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Inoculating Ourselves Against The School Shooting Meme.

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists In Massachusetts And Beyond Are Working To Slow The Aging Process.

At a forum on Cape Cod earlier this month, Harvard scientist David Sinclair had the rapt attention of biotech executives and investors as he described treating 20-month-old mice with a molecule to restore their youthfulness. Before long, the geriatric rodents were outracing 2-month-old mice.

Yes, Sinclair told his audience, “We can turn an old mouse into a healthy young mouse.”

The Fountain of Rodent Youth feat, outlined in March in the scientific journal Cell, hasn’t been replicated with humans. But researchers, who have long scoffed at the anti-aging claims made by companies pitching dubious products, are warming to the idea that serious science can be deployed to increase human longevity.

Ambitious efforts are underway in Massachusetts and beyond to develop the first government-approved drugs to stretch healthy life spans. Some researchers are scrambling to repurpose a diabetes medicine to target age-related diseases. Others are working to boost levels of a key protein to increase blood flow and endurance, or to find a way to kill “zombie cells” that can send out toxins that cause age-related maladies.

These approaches and others are part of an emerging field known as geroscience. Its advocates believe that the best way to treat a variety of illnesses — from cancers and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration — is to attack the aging process itself.

“Aging is the biggest risk factor for many diseases,” said Eric Verdin, president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., where scientist Gordon Lithgow coined the term geroscience in 2007. “Right now, we’re treating diseases in silos. But if we tinker with the pathways that control life span, we can address a whole range of diseases.”

Well, hurry up. None of us is getting any younger.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: AI detects stroke, dementia from brain scans.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: University of Michigan brings back the Soviet Union with its bias response team.

I’m pretty darn sure that when Iowahawk tweeted, “College: an oasis of totalitarianism in a desert of freedom” back in 2014, he wasn’t proposing the first sentence of an administrative how-to guide.

YOUR DAILY TREACHER: Hillary Still Ain’t Over It. “I’m trying to remember a failed presidential candidate before now who made a second career out of whining about losing an election.”

Would she be whining any less had she won?

LONG-TIME LURKER, FIRST-TIME POSTER: I’m Robert Shibley, the executive director of FIRE (and author of Twisting Title IX). As a daily follower of Instapundit from almost the very beginning, I couldn’t be more excited to be here.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 9 Penis Facts Revealed. You know, with all the vagina-worship we’ve had lately, maybe penises should get equal time.

21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: Transgender Files $50K Complaint After Muslim Woman Refuses to Wax Genitals.

THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT AREN’T HEARING THE SAME JORDAN PETERSON:

Some hear a man with important ideas that can help people live a more fulfilling life, others hear a dangerous misogynist who wants to set back the cause of liberated women, trans people, and the rest of the cast(e) of oppression. In a feature for The New York Times Magazine this weekend, Nellie Bowles clearly came down on the latter side.

* * * * * * * *

He also addressed it on his blog: “My critics’ abject ignorance of the relevant literature does not equate to evidence of my totalitarian or misogynist leanings.” The important thing here is that Peterson assumed his interviewer was up on anthropological terms of art. That’s never a good bet for journalists. We are mostly known for not paying for lunch.

Peterson blames Bowles for not being familiar with the relevant literature, but “enforced monogamy,” is not a well-known term of art, and it does sound menacing. Bowles probably should have asked for clarification before presenting it as absurd, but Peterson also has to know and anticipate that these kinds of attacks are going to be leveled at him by people who may be ill-informed in anthropology, but nonetheless well-intentioned.

I’d like to think that Bowles went into her profile with the intent to be “well-intentioned,” but her boss’s past comments regarding those who make up a wide swatch of Peterson’s followers cast a certain amount of doubt.

And that’s quite a large group: Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life remains #1 most read on Amazon.

GET WOKE, GO BROKE: Kelly Clarkson Opens Billboard Music Awards by Demanding ‘Action’ Against School Shootings.

She admitted she was supposed to begin the show with “a moment of silence,” but she rejected the idea, saying moments of silence are “not working.” She suggested a “moment of action” and of “change” instead.

* * * * * * * *

Clarkson did not reference gun control in calling for “action” and “change,” but gun control was the celebrity mantra from the moment that news of the Santa Fe High School shooting broke.

The problem with pushing gun control, or any “action” and “change” that may include gun control, is that the alleged Santa Fe gunman made a mockery of the left’s gun control proposals. Their go-to controls are an “assault weapons” ban, a “high-capacity” magazine ban, universal background checks, and waiting periods on gun purchases. But the alleged gunman was too young to purchase guns, so waiting periods and universal background checks would be pointless. Moreover, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said the attacker used a .38 revolver and a shotgun, so an “assault weapons” ban and a “high-capacity” magazine ban would not have hindered the attack in the least.

But was anybody watching? “Time-zone adjusted numbers put the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.9 million viewers. That is a new low for the awards show in the key demo,” Variety reports. “It is also a decrease of approximately 8% in the demo and 9% in total viewers compared to the 2017 ceremony.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Five facts you need to know about cannabis beer.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!: No, Reagan historian and consumate political public relations adviser Craig Shirley isn’t talking about that mediocre 1966 movie of the same name. Shirley, writing in LifeZette today, is referring to the growing scandal in 2018 surrounding the FBI, Stef Halper and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I WAS TRAINED, MANY YEARS AGO: How To Survive A Knife Attack.

AT AMAZON, Fresh Deals on Top Gift Ideas.

Plus, Shop Amazon – Most Wished For Items.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Inoculating Ourselves Against The School Shooting Meme.

BRUCE BAWER: A Russian’s Devastating Verdict on Norway.

FASTER, PLEASE: Experimental universal flu vaccine begins second phase of testing in U.S.: Report. Though I worry a bit that if we successfully deploy such a vaccine for many years, and then an impervious strain of flu evolves, people will have much lower immunity to flu in general so that it could be almost a “virgin field” outbreak. But perhaps my concerns are unfounded.

PRIVACY: I Tried to Watch a Video of a Puppy and Accidentally Sent Every Photo I’ve Ever Taken to Google.

I recently went to a concert, had a few beers, and woke up with a hangover and a notification that my phone had successfully uploaded 15,000 images and videos to Google Photos. Here’s what happened.

When Google Photos was announced in 2015, I downloaded it. I had no intention of giving every photo I’ve ever taken to Google — which categorizes them, runs them through image recognition and facial recognition algorithms, makes weird algorithmic slideshows out of them, and adds them to its massive photo database —but I wanted to try it out in any case. I quickly realized it was not for me, but I did not delete the app.

Instead, I just told iOS not to give Google Photos access to my photos, which means the app sat dormant on my phone for years. I could have and should have deleted the app. Most people probably would have.

ANYWAYS, a few weeks ago, I was at a concert and, between sets, suddenly remembered that my friend had just adopted a puppy.

I texted him asking to see a picture. He responded with a video that he uploaded to Google Photos. Because I had Google Photos installed on my phone, it tried to open in the app. You cannot use Google Photos on iOS — even to view photos that have been shared with you — without granting the app access to all the photos on your phone. Because I was drunk, and because I wanted to see the puppy, I changed my app permissions.

Plus:

I was careless and kind of dumb, but it’s not always easy to remember every specific setting I’ve ever selected for every app I’ve downloaded. And I think that’s one of the concerning things about “opt-in” privacy protection. They’re not really opt-in if you’re not sure what you’re opting into.

It’s clear that the author first had to give permission to Google Photos, but it’s also clear that Google uses its “free” apps to worm its way into its users’ lives in every imaginable way.

HEH. “Democrats are Losing Their War Against Women:” Sarah Sanders Rubs Haspel Confirmation In Democrats’ Faces.

MILLENNIAL BLUES: Financial Crisis May Have Hit ’80s Generation the Hardest.

Americans who entered the world in the 1980s “are at substantial risk of accumulating less wealth over their life spans than the members of previous generations,” the report’s authors say. “Not only is their wealth shortfall in 2016 very large in percentage terms, but the typical 1980s family actually lost ground in relative terms between 2010 and 2016, a period of rapidly rising asset values that buoyed the wealth of all older cohorts.”

The St. Louis Fed research finds that as of 2016, those born in the 1980s had wealth levels 34% below where they would be absent the financial crisis and its aftermath. In comparison, people born in the 1970s had wealth levels that were 18% under where they should have been, while folks from the 1960s were down 11%.

This is going to have serious fiscal consequences in Washington down the road, as swathes of Millennial voters begin to retire and have nothing in the bank.

SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENED TO MY DAUGHTER’S FRIEND WITH MELANOMA, THOUGH IT WORKED OUT OKAY AND SHE’S CURRENTLY IN REMISSION: New life-saving cancer treatment tied to vision loss. She’s not one of the patients mentioned in this article, though I’m not sure if she received the same kind of immunotherapy.