Links for 11-9-2015

  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas district court judge's injunction against President Obama's latest amnesty by memo.

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spent ten years and more than $1 billion on digitizing immigration paperwork, and succeeded in deploying exactly one electronic form – the other 94 forms the agency uses have to be filed as paper. CIS expects to complete the system in another four years, at a total cost of up to $3.1 billion.

    By 2012, officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which includes USCIS, were aware that the project was riddled with hundreds of critical software and other defects. But the agency nonetheless began to roll it out, in part because of pressure from Obama administration officials who considered it vital for their plans to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, according to the internal documents and interviews.

  • The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity produces an annual report on legislative transparency and accountability in the states:

    When first conducted in 2011-2012, the State Integrity Investigation was an unprecedented look at the systems that state governments use to prevent corruption and expose it when it does occur. Unlike many other examinations of the issue, the project does not attempt to measure corruption itself. The 2015 grades are based on 245 questions that ask about key indicators of transparency and accountability, looking not only at what the laws say, but also how well they’re enforced or implemented. The “indicators” are divided into 13 categories: public access to information, political financing, electoral oversight, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, state civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, state pension fund management and ethics enforcement agencies.

    Experienced journalists in each state undertook exhaustive research and reporting to score each of the questions, which ask, for example, whether lawmakers are required to file financial interest disclosures and whether they are complete and detailed. The results are both intuitive — an F for New York’s “three men in a room” budget process — and surprising — Illinois earned the best grade in the nation for its procurement practices. Altogether, the project presents a comprehensive look at transparency, accountability and ethics in state government. It’s not a pretty picture.

    Texas scores an “F,” which doesn't surprise me.

  • Social justice warriors at the University of Missouri claimed a scalp – the president of the university system, Tim Wolfe.

  • James O'Keefe released more video footage of an operative telling college administrators that the U.S. Constitution is a “triggering” document. To their credit, officials at Duke and the University of North Carolina refused to ban or shred the Constitution.

  • A woman from Grand Prairie, Texas, Rosa Maria Ortega, was arrested and charged with felony voter fraud. Ortega is not a citizen, but that didn't stop her from registering to vote (which she shouldn't have been allowed to do), then voting at least five times.

  • An atheist group is trying to get a large cross removed from the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial in Maryland because it's on publicly owned land.

  • Canadian John Robert Gallagher traveled to Syria to fight for the YPG against ISIS. He died last week, but he wrote an essay in May explaining why he was fighting for Kurdistan:

    For decades now, we have been at war. This war has been unacknowledged by our leaders, but enthusiastically proclaimed by our enemies. This war has produced casualties on every continent, in nearly every nation on earth. It has had periods of intense fighting, followed by long stretches of rearming and regrouping, but it has never ended. It is not even close to being won. Someday historians will look back and marvel at how much effort we put into deceiving ourselves about the nature of this conflict, and wonder how we convinced ourselves that it was not even taking place. This war may have started in 1979, or earlier; 2001 increased the intensity of the conflict; the withdrawal from Iraq kicked off the latest phase. Like the American Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War, this war is about ideas as much as it is about armies. Slavery, fascism, and communism were all bad ideas which required costly sacrifice before they were finally destroyed. In our time, we have a new bad idea: Theocracy.

  • The head of OPEC said the oil market would be balanced next year, which suggests Saudi Arabia will back off its policy of producing at maximum capacity.

  • Volkswagen understated the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions of about 800,000 cars sold in Europe.

  • Iran has been filing charges against members of its Revolutionary Guard Corps for refusing to fight in Syria. This includes senior commanders.

  • A Jordanian police captain killed two Americans, a South African, and two Jordanians at a U.S. funded police training facility outside Amman.

  • It's turning cold in northern China, so they've started burning coal to heat homes. The resulting pollution is among the worst they've ever recorded.

  • China tested a new anti-satellite missile, the Dong Neng-3.

  • A photographer was capturing time lapse photos of the Golden Gate Bridge when the U.S. Navy launched a Trident D5 missile from the USS Kentucky: