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 3-31-2015

  • Hans Fiene describes his generation's manufactured outrage at Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

    But we still misrepresented the bill, lied about it, shared articles on social media that labeled the legislation as intentionally, undeniably anti-gay, and dismissingly enclosed the phrase “religious liberty” in scare quotes. Just as we did with such success in Arizona, we screamed that this bill would unlock the gates of hell and allow a horde of bigoted devils to deny Hoosier homosexuals a chicken salad sandwich, all while knowing that, because sexual orientation isn’t a protected class in Indiana, these beasts have already been free to do so this entire time and yet, annoyingly, chose not to. But we had already laced up our boots for the march on New Selma and we’re weren’t going to take them off just because the modern-day segregationists wouldn’t do us the courtesy of existing.

    Just as our desire to believe that we really were as holy as the civil-rights saints was so strong that we willingly slandered the opposition and lied about the legislation, so we made ourselves impervious to shame and irony in defense of our newfound righteousness. We looked to the icon of racial equality, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose greatest accomplishments included spearheading nationwide non-violent protests, preaching peace, giving speeches, and writing letters that will live forever in the annals of American history, and we felt not an ounce of humiliation when the best prophet we could place beside him was George Takei, a man whose greatest accomplishments include pretending to fly a spaceship on TV and sharing funny pictures of cats on the Internet.

    And what form of protest did Takei threaten as Pence prepared to sign the accursed bill into law? Sit-ins? Bus boycotts? No, he threatened that a gaming convention would move out of Indianapolis. Our leader didn’t say, “I have a dream,” he said, “If you sign this bill that we’re all pretending says something it doesn’t, a bunch of grown men who pretend to be fictional characters will pretend to be fictional characters in another state that we’re pretending won’t almost certainly have an identical law already on the books.” How can any self-respecting person not explode in a ball of humiliation when comparing Selma with Gen Con, you ask? We don’t need self-respect anymore. We sacrificed it to keep the cause and our moral superiority.

  • Andrew McCarthy can't understand why Congressman Trey Gowdy wants to privately interview Hillary Clinton instead of subpoenaing her to testify in public and under oath: “A good investigator is not indulgent of a recalcitrant witness who is making a mockery of the investigative process. He uses the tools the law gives him to make it crystal clear that that he is not running a kangaroo court. He makes certain that witnesses and the public understand that the law requires compliance with congressional-committee demands for information. This shouldn’t be a case of Gowdy asking Clinton to please do him a favor.”

  • A Travis County, Texas grand jury failed to indict University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall, but it did write a poison pen letter suggesting he be removed from his position and that the University of Texas make it more difficult for regents to file requests for public records (in the name of transparency, of course). Hall responded with his own letter attacking the instigators of this entire controversy: “The campaign by Speaker Straus, Representative Flynn and Senator Seliger to criminalize my service as a Regent constitutes abuse of office. Their use of the levers of political power to cover up wrongdoing by legislators should now be investigated, and those exposed for their abuses should be driven from office.”

  • The web site GitHub is normally used for collaborative software development, but it has also been used to circumvent the Great Firewall of China by hosting content that would otherwise be blocked. The Chinese government doesn't take kindly to this, so they staged a distributed denial of service attack that worked in a nefarious way. Requests sent by people's web browsers to innocuous Chinese web sites would be intercepted by the Great Firewall, and malicious JavaScript software would be returned and would execute in the browser. That malicious software hammered on GitHub – people were unknowingly complicit in the Chinese government's effort to take the site down.

  • A study commissioned by the Belgian government showed that Facebook is violating European Union privacy laws. Facebook tracks people who visit the site even if they don't have a Facebook account, and does so without asking the visitor's consent. They also track people who have a Facebook account but explicitly opt out of tracking.

  • HP sued the former CEO and CFO of Autonomy, a British software company that HP acquired in 2011 for $11.7 billion. HP claims Mike Lynch and Sushovan Hussain engaged in fraudulent activity at Autonomy, and they're seeking $5.1 billion in compensation.

  • Russia conducted another test of its nuclear-capable RS-26 missile at a range that puts it in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia claims the RS-26 is an intercontinental ballistic missile, but they've been testing it at intermediate ranges.

  • A group called Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took an Istanbul prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, hostage. Turkish special forces attacked the courthouse where Kiraz was being held. Kiraz was killed in the resulting melee, as were two DHKP-C members.

Links for 2-12-2015

Links for 12-17-2014

Links for 12-11-2014

Links for 9-10-2014

Links for 9-4-2014