Links for 5-11-2018

  • Bari Weiss wrote an article for The New York Times on the “intellectual dark web” that caused a sensation on the political left because they apparently hadn’t heard of Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson. Weiss wrote this description of the intellectual dark web’s leaders:

    But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought — and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.

    Matthew Continetti writes these people are actually a Coalition for Cultural Freedom:

    What has come into being is not a committee or congress but a Coalition for Cultural Freedom. This wide-ranging assembly of critics opposed to the consensus that dominates the commanding heights of culture, entertainment, and media is neither centrally directed nor unified, not precisely delineated or philosophically consistent. But they do all believe in what Gaetano Mosca called “juridical defense,” pluralism in opinion and institutions to guard against conformity and repression. And the fact that Kanye’s heresy and Weiss’ reporting were greeted with contumely, derision, outrage, and agony is evidence for the strength of such conformity, the desire for such repression.

    David French believes people should be paying attention to the audience for the intellectual dark web, not its leaders:

    There are millions of Americans who are deeply frustrated with an educational system that walls out their point of view, a corporate culture that’s increasingly indistinguishable (particularly on social issues) from a faculty lounge, and a legacy media — including Hollywood — that’s influenced by and pays homage to these same ideas and institutions. Yes, you can make an anonymous account on Twitter to engage in social-media combat, but if you live and work in these immense and powerful American institutions, you speak your mind at your own risk.

    In those circumstances, a Ben Shapiro podcast or a Jordan Peterson YouTube video is a breath of fresh air. There — right there — fearlessly and eloquently stated is the other side of the story. It’s inspiring (not everyone is afraid), it’s informative (it frequently introduces facts not widely discussed in progressive circles), and it’s often wildly entertaining. The members of the Intellectual Dark Web are just flat-out good at what they do.

  • There’s speculation that the FBI had a source within Donald Trump’s campaign that the agency has been trying to conceal.

  • Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a constitutional carry bill. Fallin is term limited, so she won’t pay a political price for this.

  • The NRA sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York’s state financial regulator for engaging in a “blacklisting campaign” that discouraged financial institutions from doing business with the NRA.

  • The former speaker of New York’s state assembly, Sheldon Silver, was convicted of federal corruption charges in a second trial. He was convicted in his first trial as well, but that conviction was thrown out after a U.S. Supreme Court case placed restrictions on corruption prosecutions.

  • A Chinese billionaire named Ng Lap Seng was sentenced to four years in prison for bribing U.N. officials.

  • China flew fighters and bombers around Taiwan again.

  • Turkey arrested another 150 soldiers over alleged links to Fethullah Gulen.

  • Ari Lieberman offers twelve good reasons for kicking Turkey out of NATO.

  • Symbols of Kurdish nationalism have all but disappeared from Kirkuk after Iraqi government forces and Sunni militias captured the city.

  • Russia backtracked on selling S-300 ground-to-air missiles to Syria after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow.

  • The Taliban overran two police outposts in Afghanistan’s Farah province, killing at least 32 policemen and nine Afghan soldiers.

Links for 5-8-2018

Links for 4-4-2018

Links for 3-28-2018

Links for 3-21-2018

Links for 3-20-2018

Links for 3-19-2018

  • An article in the Guardian portrays data and media consulting company Cambridge Analytica as the devil that used Facebook data to elect Donald Trump. Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that what was considered brilliant strategy by the Obama campaign is now considered a data breach:

    Cambridge Analytica has been accused of misrepresenting the purpose of some of its data mining, which yielded something like 30 million Facebook profiles it could comb for data. It is alleged not to have deleted data on Facebook’s request. It was promptly kicked off Facebook after the Guardian and New York Times stories.

    Mashable ran an editorial arguing that it was time to protect yourself and your friends, who were made vulnerable to manipulation. In a think piece for The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal writes, “If Cambridge Analytica’s targeted advertising works, people worry they could be manipulated with information — or even thoughts — that they did not consent to giving anyone.”

    Where were these worries four years ago for the much larger and arguably more manipulative effort by the Obama campaign?

    If you have a Facebook account, you’re being manipulated by Facebook and the companies that pay for access to its data. If that bothers you, delete your Facebook account.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the implementation of Pennsylvania’s new congressional map, which was drawn by the state Supreme Court for the benefit of the Democratic Party.

  • Donald Trump instructed federal agencies to cut regulations, but the State Department found a backdoor way to make international adoptions more difficult and expensive without writing new regulations:

    Under the Hague Convention, U.S. law makes the State Department the central authority over international adoption, but it requires another public or nonprofit entity to act as the “accrediting entity” (AE), holding adoption agencies to certain fiscal and ethical standards. Since 2013, COA [Council on Accreditation] has been the only AE for international adoption.

    In the letter, COA president Richard Klarberg notified agencies it would soon step down as an AE. “The Department of State … is requiring COA to make significant changes in the nature and scope of our work in ways which will fundamentally change our responsibilities … and which are inconsistent with COA’s philosophy and mission,” Klarberg wrote.

    In an interview, Klarberg tells me the State Department was requiring new procedures that bore a striking resemblance to the regulations it had withdrawn: “They are doing by indirection that which they could not do directly. It is a back-door effort.” Klarberg predicts that as a result of DOS-enforced changes, “the number of children who will be eligible for immigration via adoption will definitely shrink. The number of agencies involved with intercountry adoption will also shrink.”

    Later:

    Instead, the State Department has created a climate of fear and mistrust. In every interview I conducted, a single name emerged as the primary source of this adversarial relationship: Trish Maskew, chief of the Adoption Division in the Office of Children’s Issues.

    Later still:

    On the other side, we have what I would call “adoption critics” like Maskew. They focus heavily on the potential for abuse in the adoption process, and on preserving the possibility for children to be reunited with birth relatives. In a 2009 paper aimed directly at refuting Bartholet’s human rights argument, Maskew called international adoption “a profoundly problematic institution.” She also cited an author who frames international adoption in terms of racism and Western colonialism. “A conception of poor, third-world countries as subordinate nations fits very comfortably with the practice of international adoption,” this author wrote.

  • An Uber self-driving car hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he’ll continue his military offensive against the YPG along the entire border between Turkey and Syria, and, if necessary, into northern Iraq. Turkish troops and their militia allies are reportedly looting Afrin, and people are still fleeing the city: “A Syrian Kurdish official told Reuters that more than 200,000 people who had fled the Afrin offensive were without shelter, food or water in nearby areas.”

  • South Korea’s military is building a new surface-to-surface missile unit that will use thermobaric weapons to take out North Korean artillery.

  • Norway’s governing coalition may collapse over a controversy involving Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug:

    On Tuesday parliament will debate a no-confidence motion against Sylvi Listhaug, who has triggered uproar by accusing the opposition Labour Party – in 2011 the target of the country’s worst peacetime massacre – of putting terrorists’ rights before national security.

    Later:

    On Sunday, daily Verdens Gang and broadcasters NRK and TV2 quoted sources close to [Prime Minister Erna] Solberg as saying her cabinet would stand by Listhaug and resign if the no-confidence vote succeeded.

  • A Ukrainian army recruiting video: