Links for 10-16-2017

Links for 10-7-2017

  • The Department of Defense identified the fourth U.S. Army Green Beret killed in Niger as Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on the argument that we don’t need a Second Amendment because ordinary Americans can’t defend themselves from a tyrannical government equipped with sophisticated weapons:

    Sometimes people put Schermer’s argument more baldly. They ask something like this: “Do you really think Bubba in camo gear hiding in the forest is going to take on the U.S. military? The U.S. military has nuclear weapons!”

    Who exactly do you think has stymied the U.S. in Afghanistan for 16 years? The Taliban is made up of Afghan Bubbas. The Taliban doesn’t need to defeat nuclear weapons, though they are humiliating a nuclear power for the second time in history. They use a mix of Kalashnikovs and WWII-era bolt-action rifles. Determined insurgencies are really difficult to fight, even if they are only armed with Enfield rifles and you can target them with a TOW missiles system that can spot a cat in the dark from two miles away. In Iraq, expensive tanks were destroyed with simple improvised explosives.

  • Racial identity politics is ruining one of Minnesota’s best public school districts:

    For years, the Edina Public Schools (EPS) have been one of the brightest stars in the firmament of Minnesota public education. Parents who moved to the affluent Twin Cities suburb gladly paid a hefty premium for a house, because it meant their kids could attend the district’s top-notch schools.

    But today, test scores are sinking in Edina’s fabled schools. One in five Edina High School students can’t read at grade level and one in three can’t do grade-level math. These test results dropped EHS’s ranking among Minnesota high schools from 5th to 29th in reading proficiency, and from 10th to 40th in math proficiency between 2014 and 2017. Across the district, about 30 percent of kids are not “on track for success” in reading, and the same is true for math.

    A number of factors may be at work here. Clearly, however, there’s been a profound shift in district leaders’ educational philosophy. In place of academic excellence for all, the district’s primary mission is now to ensure that students think correctly on social and political issues — most importantly, on race and “white privilege.”

  • The U.S. government finally stopped buying Russian helicopters for the Afghan military. The Afghan military’s “new” helicopters are refurbished Blackhawks.

Links for 10-6-2017

Links for 10-4-2017

Links for 9-14-2017

Links for 8-27-2017

  • The Black Hawk helicopter that crashed off Yemen’s coast belonged to a U.S. Army special forces unit that operates from a base near the port of Mukalla. One soldier from the crashed helicopter is still missing.

  • The U.K. plans to send more SAS troops to Afghanistan as part of Donald Trump’s plan to ramp-up operations there.

  • Joel Kotkin is concerned that Silicon Valley oligarchs will kill off democracy:

    Both Facebook and Google now offer news “curated” by algorithms. Bans are increasingly used by Facebook and Twitter to keep out unpopular or incendiary views, and especially in the echo chamber of the Bay Area. This is sometimes directed at conservatives, such as Prager University, whose content may be offensive to some, but hardly subversive or “fake.” The real crime now is simply to question dominant ideology of Silicon Valley gentry progressivism.

    Later:

    In a future Democratic administration, as is already evident in places like California, the tech titans will use their money, savvy, and new dominance over our communications channels to steer and even dictate America’s political and cultural agendas to wield power in ways that even the likes of J.P. Morgan or John D. Rockefeller would envy.

    What started as a brilliant, and profoundly non-political extension of the information revolution, notes early Google and Facebook investor Robert McNamee, now looms as “a menace,” part of a systematic “brain hacking” on a massive scale. We can choose to confront this reality—as the early 20th century progressives did—or stand aside and let the oligarchs chart our future without imposing any curbs on their seemingly inexorable hegemony.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shut down two radio stations and two cable TV networks that were critical of his regime.

  • The Lebanese army announced a cease fire in its fight with ISIS on the Lebanon/Syria border. ISIS captured nine Lebanese soldiers in 2014 and the army wants to know what became of them. The Lebanese army believes it has recovered the bodies of six of the nine.

Links for 8-16-2017