Links for 5-31-2018

Links for 5-30-2018

Links for 5-29-2018

Links for 5-3-2018

  • All nine crew members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 that crashed in Georgia died.

  • American Green Berets are helping the Saudis along their border with Yemen:

    A half-dozen officials — from the United States military, the Trump administration, and European and Arab nations — said the American commandos are training Saudi ground troops to secure their border. They also are working closely with American intelligence analysts in Najran, a city in southern Saudi Arabia that has been repeatedly attacked with rockets, to help locate Houthi missile sites within Yemen.

    Along the porous border, the Americans are working with surveillance planes that can gather electronic signals to track the Houthi weapons and their launch sites, according to the officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the mission publicly.

  • Chinese military personnel at a base in Djibouti have been firing lasers at American pilots flying out of a nearby U.S. base. The U.S. filed a diplomatic protest with China over the incidents.

  • The death of Alfie Evans marked the death of natural rights:

    This is a view of the state that would tend to make self-government impossible, for it removes the ground of the difference between freedom and obedience to authority. Theoretically, such a state cannot be legitimated by the consent of the governed, because it does not secure their rights, starting with the right to life. It is legitimated instead by its expert and orderly administration of rules of its own making. Theoretically, the state has assumed control of human life and the definition of its limits—death, ultimately. The state has secured passive consent, so that if it does not face a revolution, there’s nothing to worry about.

    Kate James and Tom Evans, Alfie’s parents, argued for their freedom, and for their right to decide for their child. They obviously thought, in taking their child to the hospital, that they had certain rights as subjects of the sovereign and certain duties to their child. Had they let him die, which was what the state would later insist on doing, they might have been prosecuted for neglect. They acted freely, but at the same time compelled by necessity. They sought to match their own moral virtues with the intellectual virtues of the doctors, for the National Health Service is a public institution. This turned out to be impossible.

    Later:

    To some extent, British authority is now a suicide pact, to borrow the phrase of Justice Robert Jackson, who insisted that the U.S. Constitution was not one. Something very important has been lost if the right to life depends on circumstances ascertained by experts and decided on by judges. And if British hospital and police personnel are willing to enforce such decisions, the loss seems coextensive with the British state. It is not an exception, but the new rule.

  • The law professor that James Comey used to leak a memo to The New York Times, Daniel Richman, worked for the FBI as a “special government employee”:

    Sources familiar with Richman’s FBI status said he was assigned to “special projects” by Comey, and had a security clearance as well as badge access to the building. Richman told Fox News in an email last week that he was working as an SGE on an unpaid basis.

    Later:

    During this time, a review of media reports between July 2015 and February 2017 shows Richman gave multiple interviews defending Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case, including the controversial decision to reopen the probe shortly before the presidential election. He was typically identified as a law professor, and sometimes as a policy adviser to Comey.

  • Amazon booted Alliance Defending Freedom from its AmazonSmile program because the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled it a “hate group.” AmazonSmile enables you to donate a small percentage of your purchases to a nonprofit group.

  • Federal prosecutors indicted the former CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, over the company’s diesel emissions cheating scheme.

  • A Russian Su-30SM fighter crashed after taking off from a base in Syria, killing both pilots.

  • Moldova sentenced eight of its citizens to prison for fighting in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf.

Links for 5-2-2018

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:

Links for 3-1-2018