Links for 4-18-2017

Links for 3-29-2017

  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress for secretly recording Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of baby body parts. The charges related to recording someone without their consent. Becerra has received at least $5,535 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood. The Center for Medical Progress responded with a new video showing a Planned Parenthood official describing what they do (or don’t do) when a baby is born alive during an abortion:

  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May officially kicked off the Brexit process by sending a letter to the E.U. that invokes Article 50.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asked Donald Trump to relax restrictions on U.S. involvement in the fighting in Yemen:

    This official and several others said that Mattis and his advisers have asked for removal of President Barack Obama’s prohibitions, which would enable the military to support Emirati operations against the Houthis with surveillance and intelligence, refueling, and operational planning assistance without asking for case-by-case White House approval.

  • The FBI charged a State Department employee with a top secret security clearance, Candace Marie Claiborne, with concealing a years-long relationship with two Chinese intelligence agents. The FBI says Claiborne started accepting cash and gifts from the agents in 2010.

  • Ben Shapiro thinks many conservatives who support Donald Trump are suffering from Stockholm syndrome:

    It now appears that the cognitive dissonance associated with Trump support has morphed into full-blown Stockholm syndrome, with conservatives now waiving principle not to defeat Hillary Clinton, but to back Trump down the line. Many conservatives now say that Trump’s American Health Care Act was the best available bad option. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Trump had presented a crap sandwich, to be sure, but it was the best available crap sandwich. Never mind its 17 percent public-approval rating. Never mind its accelerated death spiral. Never mind its new entitlement, its maintenance of key Obamacare regulations, or its increased premiums for the next few years.

    Trump wanted it; thus it was good; thus it had to be passed. It was The Best We Were Going To Do™.

    Except that it wasn’t. It wasn’t the legislative process that required a bill cramdown on the president’s own party within a three-week period. It wasn’t the legislative process that offered an ultimatum to conservatives to embrace the suck. It wasn’t the legislative process that demanded conservatives sign on to all the policies they opposed when Obama promulgated them. It was Trump. And because Ryan thought that his best option involved parlaying with Trump rather than going through the rough business of policymaking, he negotiated with himself to create a one-off bill, hoping that Trump would bring the anti-establishment conservatives and that he’d bring the establishment Republicans.

    It failed, in part because of Trump’s artificial deadline, in part because Trump would never have pushed a truly conservative piece of legislation that did away with preexisting-conditions regulations, and in part because Ryan decided to go along with Trump’s program in order to push through his long-awaited structural changes to Medicaid. And then, to top it off, Trump deployed famed subtle touch Steve Bannon to scream at Republicans about how they had to get their minds right or they’d spend the night in the box.

  • Westinghouse Electric filed for bankruptcy due to losses stemming from nuclear power plant construction projects.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition wants to change parliamentary rules so a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party can’t assume a ceremonial post if AfD wins seats in the next election.

Links for 2-21-2017

Links for 2-9-2017

Links for 2-3-2017

Links for 1-27-2017

  • Alexandra DeSanctis wrote a good account of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., including Mike Pence’s speech.

  • Donald Trump signed an executive order limiting immigration and refugees from Muslim countries with terrorism issues. The order also gives priority to Christian refugees from Syria.

  • Mitch McConnell indicated he’s not willing to invoke the nuclear option to get Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee approved.

  • GDP growth in 4Q16 slowed to 1.9%. For the full year, the economic growth rate was only 1.9%. The U.S. hasn’t seen a 3% annual economic growth rate since 2005.

  • People who support California’s secession are now collecting signatures to get a proposition on the ballot in 2019. The proposition, if approved, would remove clauses from the state’s constitution that declare California to be an inseparable part of the United States.

  • Robert Tracinski takes a New York Times science journalist to task for failing to even try to explain the math behind global warming temperature data:

    [Times reporter Justin] Gillis is right. There are a lot of different sets of data, and the issue is complex. So why didn’t he explain any of that complexity to readers of the New York Times? Because complexity leaves room for doubt, and on this issue, doubt cannot be permitted.

    Speaking of which, you’ll notice that I just quoted Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, and Judith Curry. Who are these people, just some crazy bloggers? Enemies of science? Dr. Spencer is a former NASA climatologist and now a principal research scientist at UAH. Dr. Lindzen is emeritus Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT, and Judith Curry was, until her retirement just a few weeks ago, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    A science journalist interested in an accurate, balanced assessment of the temperature data might talk to and quote people like this. The New York Times and other big mainstream media organizations long ago adopted an explicit policy of blacklisting these dissidents.

  • A federal district court judge blocked a Texas regulation requiring health care providers to bury or cremate babies:

    During two public hearings, department leaders heard stories of abortions, miscarriages, and general grief over losing a baby. While anti-abortion groups argued that the rule was a means to bring human dignity to the fetuses, reproductive rights advocates said the rule was another way for Texas to punish women who chose an abortion, saying the cost of the burials would be passed on to patients, making abortions harder to obtain for low-income Texans.

    During multi-day court hearings earlier this month, state attorneys said the rule was designed to provide aborted or miscarried fetuses a better resting place than a landfill. They also argued that there would be no cost for patients to worry about and only miniscule costs for providers. The state also said that there were multiple groups willing to help with costs.

    But Center for Reproductive Rights lawyers argued the rule had no public health merits and no clear directions on how it would work for providers. Providers who testified noted it was unclear if they would be on the hook for fines and disciplinary action from Texas if the nonprofit groups mishandled the fetuses. They also said separating fetuses away from other medical waste would likely mean an uptick in costs for transportation and new disposal procedures.

  • The Texas Supreme Court ruled that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall can’t sue UT System Chancellor Willliam McRaven to obtain records. That ends Hall’s investigation of corruption at UT, particularly since Governor Greg Abbott declined to nominate Hall to another term.

  • A cybersecurity specialist who works for Russia’s Federal Security Service, Sergei Mikhailov, was arrested and charged with leaking information to U.S. intelligence. Three other people have been charged in the case, including an employee at Kaspersky Labs, an antivirus and internet security software vendor.

Links for 1-3-2017

  • Members of the House of Representatives and newly elected members of the Senate were sworn in today. Yesterday the House adopted rules that crippled the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was created in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005. After public criticism and a pair of Donald Trump tweets, those rule changes were postponed — the House approved new rules that lacked the OCE changes. The OCE has been abused for partisan purposes and should be reformed, but the timing of this maneuver was stupid.

  • Someone in the Department of Homeland Security leaked a memo to Reuters describing a meeting with Donald Trump’s transition team:

    In a wide-ranging request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

    The team also asked about the department’s capacity for expanding immigrant detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.

    Later:

    The transition team also asked for copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009, according to the memo summarizing the meeting.

  • A new Obama administration regulation adds the names of Social Security recipients who are “financially incompetent” (e.g. they can’t pay their own bills) to the list of people who are prohibited from buying guns. John Lott argues this will make it more difficult for elderly people to defend themselves.

  • The Washington Free Beacon published an excerpt from Bill Gertz’s new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

  • Ford announced they’re scrapping plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, and will instead spend $700 million to expand the existing Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. Ford claims the change of plans is due to pro-growth policies they expect the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump to enact. Trump has publicly criticized Ford’s plan to build the plant in Mexico.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes on the current state of California:

    What makes the law-abiding leave California is not just the sanctimoniousness, the high taxes, or the criminality. It is always the insult added to injury. We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population.

    California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.

  • The Turkish government wants to imprison Fethullah Gulen’s dentists for 15 years. Erdogan’s government keeps achieving new heights of absurdity.