Links for 12-31-2017

Links for 12-30-2017

Links for 12-29-2017

Links for 12-28-2017

  • Alabama officials certified Doug Jones as the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate election despite a last-minute challenge from Roy Moore.

  • Kevin Williamson explains that the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is a continuation of the slippery slope that is anti-discrimination law:

    We ought to think a little about how far down the slope we want to go. Americans look instinctively to our Constitution and to our national political principles for guidance, and our attitude toward them is the civic version of sola scriptura. We tend to generalize when we ought to specify and sometimes to specify when we ought to generalize. The social and political condition of African Americans in the 1960s was indefensible and incompatible with our national ideals. Something needed to be done, and something was, imperfectly. But our generalizing from that has not always been intelligent or prudent or constructive. Jews often were treated shabbily in our country, and sometimes still are, but the case against Princeton’s numerus clausus system of discriminating against Jewish applicants was not the same as the case against Mississippi’s suppression of African Americans. The situation of gay Americans in 2017 is not very much like that of black Americans in 1935.

    It is not the case that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. Telling a black man that he may not work in your bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex weddings — however much the principle of the thing may seem superficially similar. If the public sphere is infinite, then the private sphere does not exist, and neither does private life. Having a bakery with doors open to the public does not make your business, contra Justice Harlan, an agent of the state. A bakery is not the Commerce Department or the local public high school.

    Sure, bakery customers may travel there on public roads. But tell me: Isn’t that EPA-regulated air you’re breathing?

  • Axios reported that the Trump administration and Israel’s government agreed on a joint plan to counter Iran’s actions in the Middle East.

  • The State Department lifted all visa restrictions at its Turkish facilities after the Turkish government promised not to target the local hired help — two local employees were arrested earlier this year. Turkey denies that it provided such assurances.

  • Disney World broadened its repertoire to include security theater:

    According to a piece in the Miami Herald, Walt Disney World Resort Hotels has removed the “do not disturb” signs from the rooms in three of its hotels and replaced them with “room occupied” signs as part of a new security policy. What’s more, a Disney cast member will now be required to enter each hotel room at least once per day to “ensure gun safety,” according to Walt Disney World News today.

    Now, while I do appreciate that Disney wants to keep people safe, this is, quite frankly, a stupid idea. Stupid … but not surprising. After all, responding to violent incidents with overzealous, privacy-invading security theater is exactly what the government has been doing for years.

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul that killed 41 people and wounded 84. The targets were a Shiite cultural center and a news agency called Afghan Voice.

  • A small bomb went off at a supermarket in St. Petersburg, Russia, injuring 10 people.

  • China is testing a hypersonic glide vehicle-equipped medium range missile with the intention of deploying it around 2020. The missile, the DF–17, can be equipped with both nuclear and conventional warheads.

Links for 12-27-2017

Links for 12-26-2017

Links for 12-25-2017

  • Guatemala plans to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

  • Russia’s election commission barred Alexei Navalny from running for president, which is very convenient for Vladimir Putin.

  • The New York Times published an account of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s October/November trip to Saudi Arabia, during which he announced his resignation. According to the Times, Hariri was forced to resign by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of an ill-conceived scheme to push Hezbollah out of Lebanon’s government:

    The Saudi moves that started on Nov. 4 came in rapid-fire succession. In the space of little more than a day, the Saudis extracted Mr. Hariri’s resignation; accused Iran and Lebanon of an act of war after Yemeni rebels fired a missile at Riyadh; and rounded up the princes and businessmen on opaque corruption charges. A week later, they ordered Saudi citizens to evacuate Lebanon.

    The burst of contentious actions sent war tremors across the region.

    With anxieties running high, Lebanese officials worked to head off what they feared was a long-range plan by Saudi Arabia to destabilize Lebanon’s volatile Palestinian refugee camps. There were even concerns in Beirut that Saudi Arabia or its Lebanese allies were seeking to form an anti-Hezbollah militia in the camps or elsewhere, two senior Lebanese officials and several Western diplomats said. No such plots came to fruition, and the Saudi official said none were even considered.

    Western and Arab officials say they are still puzzling over what the Saudis hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue. Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.

  • Reuters describes the state of Christians in Iraq this Christmas:

    Before the militant onslaught, Qaraqosh was the largest Christian settlement in Iraq, with a population of more than 50,000. But today, only a few hundred families have returned. Entire congregations have moved overseas, such as the Syriac Orthodox congregation of the Church of Mart Shmony.

    On Saturday afternoon, Father Butros Kappa, the head of Qaraqosh’s Church of the Immaculate was trying hard to summon any sense of hope to deliver his congregation during Christmas Mass.

    “We’ll have a Christmas Mass like in previous years, but this year, ours will be a joy soaked in tears, because all of our people have left Iraq,” said Father Kappa.

    Holding Mass in the singed and upturned ruins of his church was therefore important, he said, “to remind everyone that despite the tragedies that have befallen us, we’re still here.”

  • An ISIS suicide bomber attacked Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security in Kabul, killing five civilians and wounding two.

  • Scott Manley explains the SpaceX rocket trail over southern California that had people calling 911:

  • Hillsdale College’s Christmas message: