O Ye Men Of Intemperate Minds

O Ye Men Of Intemperate Minds
By Rod Dreher

Some further thoughts on last night.

I really can’t understand the lack of alarm on the part of so many of my fellow conservatives over Donald Trump’s refusal in advance to confirm that he will accept the results of the election.

“But what about Al Gore?” you say. “He contested the results of the 2000 election.” Yes, he did, and he was right to do so — and so would Trump be in those circumstances.

Gore won the popular vote, and the presidency depended on the integrity of the results in South Florida. The US Supreme Court made its decision, ultimately. I don’t recall that I had much good to say about Al Gore, ever, but his decision to accept the Court’s verdict as final was an act of selflessness and patriotism. Many of his supporters believe the Court’s call was nakedly political, and unjust. It may have been, but that’s beside the point. The important thing is that whatever his belief in his heart, Gore affirmed that in our system, the Supreme Court has the final say – and in so doing, affirmed our system.

What if Gore had spent 2001 gallivanting around the country rousing angry liberal audiences against the government, saying he had been cheated, and so had they? What kind of condition would the nation have been to meet the challenges ahead on 9/11? Had Gore done that, he would have had a far stronger case than Donald Trump can possibly have, given that he, Gore, won the popular vote.

But he didn’t do that. He accepted a loss he surely believed was unjust for the sake of the good of the country.

Donald Trump is going to lose on November 8, and he is going to lose badly. He is going to be soundly beaten by a terrible Democratic nominee, a woman who is unliked, tainted by corruption, and the most divisive figure in public life other than … Donald Trump. I believe it is true that the Democrats are capable of engaging in voter fraud, and I take it as given that somewhere in America on election day, it will happen.


If the current polls hold up (Clinton ahead by seven points), the scale of Trump’s loss will far exceed anything that could be credibly attributed to fraud or any other kind of “rigging.” It is extremely reckless for Trump to be seeding the nation with doubt about the validity and legitimacy of the election. The only reason he’s doing it is to protect his own vanity when he is walloped, and walloped by a woman at that – and not only walloped by a woman, but walloped by Hillary Clinton, who would have been a pushover for any other GOP contender.

The Republican establishment has to realize that Trump didn’t rig or otherwise steal the party’s nomination: he won it fair and square, and he won it mostly because the party establishment itself fell badly out of touch with the mood of the country and its voters. You don’t have a fool like Trump defeating what was once touted as the deepest GOP candidate bench in history if Trump didn’t know something that that allegedly deep bench did not.

And yet, Trump has blown this race entirely on his own. In truth, he never really stood a chance, because the only way he was going to win it was to pivot towards being someone he’s not. No 70-year-old man is going to be able to do that, especially given that he has made his public reputation by saying outrageous things on camera. We all know Trump’s many weaknesses, so I won’t rehearse them again here. The point to be made, though, is that Trump gave Americans who might have been persuaded to vote for him 1,001 reasons not to. Hell, he rubbed the nation’s face in them.

For me, it has always been a matter of character with Trump. I know what Hillary Clinton is about, what she stands for, and what she will do in office. I dread it and reject it strongly. I think she and her husband are grifters. I believe that Project Veritas has credibly demonstrated that there are elements within the Democratic Party machine willing to engage in Saul Alinsky-type provocations, and even voter fraud. I concede that the national media are reflexively biased against the Republican nominee, no matter who it is.

And yet, we still have no reason at this point to think that Trump will be denied the presidency because the election was “rigged.” 

Apply Occam’s Razor to this situation. Donald Trump represents a sharp deviation from the Republican norm in terms of his policies. Hey, that’s what a lot of people like about him! It’s why I have been somewhat sympathetic to him for most of this year, and if not #NeverTrump, then anti-anti-Trump in my convictions. But there was always going to be no small number of Republicans who found him hard to take.

Then there was his shrill, bombastic rhetoric, his many lies and self-contradictions, the many reports of his shafting people he’s done business with, his recklessness, his self-absorption, his abrasive and thin-skinned temperament. Even if you sympathize with the guy, he specializes in making it hard to vote for him. And this was before he was caught on tape bragging about forcing himself sexually on women.

Yes, the undeniable awfulness of Hillary Clinton covers a multitude of sins in any Republican nominee, but I fear more for my country under a Trump presidency than a Clinton one, precisely because of his unhinged personality. I have no idea what he would do with power, and what kind of constitutional crisis he would provoke, but I am very confident he would provoke one. Hillary is a hawk, for sure, but how can anybody believe Trump would be a more sober, restrained steward of foreign policy?

Look, maybe I’m wrong about him. But you’ve got to concede that Trump himself has given voters, especially women voters, ample reason to reject him. That’s not the result of conspiracies. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with that man.

Trump’s behavior reminds me of my own when I was a little kid, and would run foot races with my little sister. She was two years younger than I, but a really good athlete. I couldn’t stand the prospect of being beaten by her. She was a girl, after all, and she was younger than I was. Sometimes, my ego would be so great that as we approached the finish line, and I could see she was going to win, I deliberately fell, and claimed that I had tripped. Anything to deny her the satisfaction of knowing she beat me.

It was cheap and revealed a lack of character, but I did it. I was nine. Trump is 70.

If, by some unforeseen circumstance, Trump’s vote comes close to Hillary Clinton and/or there is clear evidence of significant voter fraud, I hope he will challenge the results. But if the Clinton victory is upheld by the Supreme Court, do you think he will accept it? No, he won’t! He will tour the country complaining about how the corrupt system robbed him, and trying to whip up people to rebel against the system.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I do believe that our system is in serious trouble. Jim Rutenberg of the NYT and I talked briefly the other day about Trump’s claim that the election is being “rigged” by the media. Excerpt:

It was as tense as anyone had seen it since the candidacy of George Wallace, and yet it was almost understandable given what Mr. Trump had been telling them: The news media was trying to “poison the minds” of voters with “lies, lies, lies.” All of it, he said, is part of a “conspiracy against you, the American people” that also includes “global financial interests.”

The idea that the press is part of some grand conspiracy against the people, presented in such incendiary terms, goes well beyond the longstanding Republican complaints about liberal bias. You’d more expect to hear it from Lenin or the pages of the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press than from the standard-bearer of the Republican Party.

But it is resonating with a large portion of the American electorate. There are many reasons, some of which should cause the news media to make good on its promises to examine its own disconnect from the cross section of Americans whose support for Mr. Trump it never saw coming.


There also tends to be a shared sense of noble mission across the news media that can preclude journalists from questioning their own potential biases.

“The people who run American journalism, and who staff the newsrooms, think of themselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and, culturally speaking, on the right side of history,” Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative, told me. “They don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t care to know it.”

Mr. Dreher lives in Louisiana and has worked at five major city newspapers across the country. He does not support Mr. Trump but says he understands why his supporters are so frustrated. As far as he’s concerned, mainstream journalists are “interested in every kind of diversity, except the kind that would challenge their own prejudices.” Those include, “bigotry against conservative religion, bigotry against rural folks and bigotry against working-class and poor white people.”

To be perfectly clear, it’s obvious to me that Trump is trying to deflect criticism of his own flaws and failings by scapegoating the media in classic demagogic fashion. That said, it’s important to think about why this attack by Trump works so well with so many people. As I indicated with Rutenberg, it’s because the kind of people to whom Trump is speaking know perfectly well that the media really are biased against their point of view in most cases. They’re being manipulated by Trump here, but for the reasons I gave to Rutenberg, they have brought a lot of this mistrust and loathing onto themselves. And not only the media, but most institutions of American life.

I have been going on for a while about this thing I call the Benedict Option, not because I think the system is so corrupt that it’s impossible for honest Christians to live in it, but because I believe that our culture itself has moved so far away from Christianity that the faith is in danger of disappearing via total assimilation (more on which in another post). That is the most important thing to me, and it ought to be the most important thing to all serious Christians, not the preservation of liberal democracy. I think a Trump presidency would greatly accelerate the break-up of the culture and the country, but I think another Clinton presidency will do the same, only on a slower basis. Maybe it’s inevitable. The only reason I can see choosing Trump over Hillary is the possibility that he will appoint Supreme Court justices that will protect religious liberty, and generally make better decisions. If I thought Trump had anything remotely like a sound character, I could convince myself to vote for him. But he doesn’t, and he’s a dangerous crank. For example, only a dangerous crank would be running around the country a month before the election telling everyone that the outcome, if it goes against him, will have been fraudulent.

I’ll leave this topic alone. I want to say, though, that conservatives had better be very careful about how far we go in kicking the foundations out from under our form of government. Yeah, yeah, I’m one to talk, with my growing doubts about liberal democracy. If we are going to fathom changing the constitutional order, it had better come about slowly and deliberately, not because some demagogue went out into the fields ranting and firing up people’s passions. The Republican Party establishment is partly responsible for Trump because it would not change to accommodate new realities. That’s on them.

The Democratic Party, and liberals more generally, is partly responsible for Trump because they have long embraced identity politics, in particular racial grievance politics, and are somehow shocked when it’s turned back on them. Liberal college administrators don’t have the courage to stand up to racialized mobs trampling on the normal modes of liberal democratic discourse. The Democrats are going to get their own Trump one of these days. Again, though, that’s on them.

But it’s on us, the conservatives, to respond with gravity, steadiness, and restraint to this crisis in front of us, and not to yield to our passions and go the way of the mob. It’s hard. I know it’s hard. Lots of times I too want to kick the damn thing over. But once we smash it up, then what? Trump is playing a very dangerous game here.

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote Edmund Burke. “Their passions forge their fetters.” Think about it. If you don’t think things could get any worse, you have no imagination. Now is not the time for panic. We are going to have to keep our heads for the next four years, if not longer.


October 20, 2016 at 01:13PM
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Dynamic projection mapping onto deforming non-rigid…

Dynamic projection mapping onto deforming non-rigid…

Dynamic projection mapping onto deforming non-rigid surface

Truly impressive technology from Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, University of Tokyo, can accurately projection map on moving, loose, dynamic surfaces:

We realize dynamic projection mapping onto deforming non-rigid surface based on two original technologies. The first technology is a high-speed projector “DynaFlash” that can project 8-bit images up to 1,000 fps with 3 ms delay. The second technology is a high-speed non-rigid surface tracking at 1,000 fps. Since the projection and sensing are operated at a speed of 1,000 fps, a human cannot perceive any misalignment between the dynamically-deforming target and the projected images. Especially, focusing on new paradigms in the field of user interface and fashion, we have demonstrated dynamic projection mapping onto a deformed sheet of paper and T-shirt. Also we show that projection to multiple targets can be controlled flexibly by using our recognition technique. 

More Here

October 19, 2016 at 02:11PM
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If Mitt Romney’s A ‘Choker,’ What’s Donald Trump?

If Mitt Romney’s A ‘Choker,’ What’s Donald Trump?
By Mollie Hemingway

Back in March, Donald Trump told a crowd in Salt Lake City, Utah, “I have many friends that live in Salt Lake, I have a lot of friends. By the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them. Did he choke? Did this guy choke? He’s a choke artist, I can’t believe. Are you sure he’s a Mormon, are we sure?”

For Trump, who likes to pin particular insults on particular people, “choker” is the favored nom-de-epithet for Romney. Just after the 2012 election, Trump told Newsmax:

Romney’s solution of “self deportation” for illegal aliens made no sense and suggested that Republicans do not care about Hispanics in general, Trump says.

“He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump says. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump notes. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”

He ramped up his attacks and began repeating his standard insult that Romney “choked.” Here he is in January 2015:

“I supported Mitt Romney and he didn’t bring out the people. He choked in the end,” Trump said flatly. “The last month was a disaster. He should have won that election. He was going against the president, who was absolutely not good and not doing well.”

“Frankly, he just choked, choked like a dog, and we cannot allow that to happen again. The Romneycare is still with you, many other issues including the 47% statement that’s going to be brought up again, and he’ll lose for the same reason,” Trump said of Romney.

By this past June, he was still at it:

“Romney’s a loser. He lost the election badly,” said Trump. “He should have won that election.

He was also a “failed candidate” who “failed horribly,” a loser, who “blew” his chance at the presidency. “He lost an election against Obama that should NEVER have been lost!” He was “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics” and a “dope.” Trump mocked him for his handling of his tax returns. He said he “ran one of the worst races in presidential history” and was speaking against Trump to thwart his inevitable big win. Romney was “a disaster candidate who had no guts and choked!” and “a total joke.” Romney was a “nasty, angry, jealous” failure with “ZERO credibility.” By failing to win, Romney “let us all down in the last presidential race.” He’s “a mixed up man who doesn’t have a clue.” “Mitt Romney had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog.” And on and on and on and on.

Holding Trump to his own standards, then, he needs to not just do better than Romney did in 2012, he needs to defeat Hillary Clinton “like a dog.” Let’s review some of Trump’s particular criticisms about Romney.

Trump is correct that Romney fared poorly among Asians, winning only 26 percent of their votes. Trump currently has 15 percent. Romney only won 27 percent of Hispanic votes. Trump is at 17 points. Trump says if he should be elected president, he would win 95 percent of the black vote during a re-election bid. He’s currently polling at zero to 1 percent with that group.

Overall the picture isn’t better:

In fact, he’s doing worse than Romney and McCain combined!

Trump told the Associated Press last May, “I will win states that no Republican would even run in.” At other times he said he would put 15 states in play that other Republicans couldn’t.

“We’re going to make them Republican states. Connecticut is one of them,” he said in June. He is losing there by 15 points, according to the latest poll.

“I think we can win the state of California and win it pretty substantially,” he said in June. “Now, I’ve been told by all these geniuses, all these brilliant guys — they all say you can’t win the state of California. I think we can.” Clinton is up by 19.7 points.

In April, he said, “You know, no Republican other than me will campaign in New York. They won’t campaign … They assume that is lost. If somebody ever won New York, it totally, with the Electoral College, it totally changes the map. I think we will win New York. I really do.” He’s at 31.7 percent there in the RCP average.

“We are going to win Illinois,” he said in May. He’s down 15 points, on average.

In March, he said, “We’re going to win Pennsylvania. We’re going to win Virginia. We’re going to win Florida. We’re going to win Ohio.”

Pennsylvania: down 6.7 points, Virginia: down 10.8 points, Florida: down 3.6 points, Ohio: up 0.5 points.

In June he said of Oregon, “I think we have a chance. I think we have a good chance.” He’s currently down 9.3 points.

We could go on, but you get the point.

For the record, Mitt Romney ran against an incumbent president who was politically divisive but personally well-regarded. President Obama was the beneficiary of a unified party in 2012 and a submissive media.

Donald Trump is running against the second most disliked presidential candidate in modern history, a corrupt and scandal-ridden politician.

Trump and his supporters have spent well over a year claiming that he would defeat Hillary Clinton, at times saying it would happen in a landslide. It remains to be seen whether he will accomplish what he and his supporters have promised.

But if he doesn’t, if, in fact, he fares far more poorly than Mitt Romney did, what does that make him?

October 19, 2016 at 01:43PM
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When My Grandkids Ask Me What I Did to Fight American Fascism, I’ll Proudly Tell Them I Tweeted a Few Times

When My Grandkids Ask Me What I Did to Fight American Fascism, I’ll Proudly Tell Them I Tweeted a Few Times

We are living in scary times. They say it’s like we’re watching the rise of Hitler or Mussolini, but in our own backyard. I’m sure that one day, when the battle is won, my grandchildren will ask me, “Grandpa, what did you do to help defeat Donald Trump and fight the rise of fascism in America?” And I know I’ll be able to sit them down and proudly tell them that I wrote some really clever tweets.

I took on this hateful movement of racism and xenophobia with multiple social media posts of less than 140 characters. Sometimes, I would even mention Trump directly so he could read them himself. My dozens of followers would stare at their phones with bated breath, waiting for my brilliant commentary that was not only profound, but often quite funny too. I bet I swayed some undecided voters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few Trump supporters changed their ways as well.

The Greatest Generation stormed the beaches at Normandy, marching into unimaginable violence as they liberated a continent from tyranny. They rationed resources on the home-front to help the war effort. They came together as one, setting aside personal differences to save the world. They gave their lives so others could experience the freedom and liberty we so often take for granted. Just as they sacrificed, I wrote pithy remarks on the internet. I didn’t know if people would agree with me. My opinions were controversial and unfiltered. I could’ve lost friends, or worse: followers. Yet I knew I had to do the right thing and be on the right side of history. In a way, I now understand what those brave men and women went through during World War II. You must answer the call when your country is in need.

Perhaps I’m being too modest. I could tell my grandkids that I also wrote some Facebook posts and would Snapchat my friends during the debates with captions like “LOL Trump what are you smoking?!” I could tell them about my nightmares, where I’m back on my couch, checking my Twitter notifications only to find that nobody liked my latest tweet. But I will tell them that I was just doing what any good citizen would do, and that a time comes in everyone’s life when they must decide whether to fight back against hatred and persecution or simply put down their iPhones and accept the status quo.

When you’re old, you don’t want to look back and wonder, Could I have done more? You don’t want to shamefully tell your grandchildren that you did nothing as the American experiment faltered. If you aren’t doing anything to challenge Trump and his horrible ideas, you need to stop reading this and pick up your phone. Sign in to Twitter and get to work. I’m at peace with my efforts — are you at peace with yours? There is too much at stake in this election to simply sit back and watch.

October 19, 2016 at 07:01AM
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MIT’s Fusion Reactor Broke a World Record Right Before the Feds Shut It Off

MIT’s Fusion Reactor Broke a World Record Right Before the Feds Shut It Off
By Maddie Stone

MIT's Fusion Reactor Broke a World Record Right Before the Feds Shut It Off
Interior of the Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor at MIT, which was shut off on September 30th. Image: Bob Mumgaard/Plasma Science and Fusion Center/MIT

MIT’s fusion program has fallen on hard times, but that hasn’t stopped it from smashing world records and keeping the dream of limitless, carbon-free energy alive. At an International Atomic Energy Agency summit in Japan this week, researchers involved with MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak reactor announced that their machine had generated the highest plasma pressure ever recorded.

Read more…

October 17, 2016 at 05:30PM
via Gizmodo http://ift.tt/2e0qCQ6

Obama Has a Plan to Save Us From Space Storms

Obama Has a Plan to Save Us From Space Storms
By Madison Margolin for Motherboard

Bad weather doesn’t only only happen on Earth. With talk of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s, Obama just announced a plan for handling bad weather in space that is meant to protect us on earth, and in the great beyond.

Obama put forth a few goals in an executive order in case disaster strikes. He said space weather could threaten entire continents.To minimize the harms, especially in regard to economic and human impact, the government should be able to predict space weather events, alert the public, and execute the necessary response protocols.

For instance, he said in the statement, the Secretary of Energy should test devices to protect and restore power grids if they go down, while NASA administrators must continue to research the relationship between Earth, the sun, and space. Meanwhile, if disaster does occur, the Secretary of Commerce should provide forecasts and warnings, and the Secretary of Defense should offer provisions.

“Extreme space weather events—those that could significantly degrade critical infrastructure—could disable large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, health care, and transportation,” he said.

Space weather can take the form of solar flares, solar energetic particles, and geomagnetic disturbances, Obama explained in the order. They could affect infrastructure systems and technologies, such as GPS and satellite operations.

Read More: Our Space Weather Forecasts Are About to Get Better

It may be uncommon, but space weather can have an impact on Earth. For instance, as Engadget points out, the Solar storm of 1859, otherwise called the Carrington event, happened after a coronal mass ejection—a release of solar plasma and magnetic field—caused one of the strongest geomagnetic storms in history. The storm disrupted telegraph systems worldwide, while spark discharges shocked operators and even caused fires.

That might seem like a lot of preparation for events that don’t happen all too often, but as the November election hurls on, Obama can do what he can to save the country from disaster.

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I’m actually kinda shocked we don’t already have this capability/plan. It’s not like this is a new or unknown and very real problem, and has been for a few decades, now. :/

October 17, 2016 at 12:25PM
via Motherboard http://ift.tt/2ebAGpP

Originalists against Trump

Originalists against Trump
By Ilya Somin


One of the most commonly deployed arguments advanced by people who urge pro-limited government conservatives and libertarians to support Donald Trump is the claim that he will appoint originalist Supreme Court justices. However, many originalists are not convinced either that he will actually do so, or that this is sufficient reason to support him if he will. Today, the “Originalists Against Trump” petition was made public. It is signed by many of the nation’s leading originalist legal scholars and commentators. They include Richard Epstein (NYU), Keith Whittington (Princeton), Steve Calabresi (Northwestern, one of the founders of the Federalist Society), and many authors. The petition was organized by Will Baude (University of Chicago) and Stephen Sachs (Duke), two of the most prominent younger originalist scholars in the nation.

It is worth noting that the petition includes a wide range of different types of originalists. Both libertarians and conservatives are prominently represented. Epstein, for example, is probably the nation’s most famous libertarian legal scholar, while Calabresi and Michael Stokes Paulsen are among the most prominent conservative constitutional theorists.

I have signed the petition myself, as have fellow Volokh Conspiracy bloggers Jonathan Adler and David Post. It is an honor to be in such distinguished company.

The petition makes the important point that appointing judges is just one of several ways in which the president impacts our constitutional values. Regardless of what he might do with respect to judicial appointments, Donald Trump poses a menace to the Constitution on many other fronts.

In several previous posts, I have explained why Trump is likely to cause much more harm than good even on the specific issue of judicial appointments. See here, here, and here. In those posts, I explain both why Trump can’t be trusted to appoint originalist Supreme Court justices in the near term, and why – even if he does appoint one or two – his election would severely damage the originalist cause in the long run (a much worse danger than the appointment of one or two hostile justices). A GOP reconfigured in the image of Trumpist big-government nationalism would have little use for constitutional limits on government power – or for the kind of judges likely to impede its agenda by enforcing them. As on many other issues, when it comes to originalism and the Supreme Court, a Hillary Clinton victory would be bad, but a Trump win is likely to be even worse.

Conor Friedersdorf makes some additional relevant points in this very thorough post, published earlier today.

October 17, 2016 at 01:04PM
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No, it is not illegal to read Wikileaks

No, it is not illegal to read Wikileaks
By Marc Randazza

This is also me when a Cuomo thinks he understands the First Amendment

This is also me when a Cuomo thinks
he understands the First Amendment

Chris Cuomo seems to be following his big brother’s lead when it comes to the First Amendment.

On CNN, Cuomo said:

“Also interesting is, remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents,” Cuomo says. “It’s different for the media, so everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us.”

Mr. Cuomo… I don’t say this lightly…. but YOU EAT AT THE OLIVE GARDEN! (I just can’t think of a worse insult to lob at an Italian. But yes, I went there.)

I’m not sure if he’s confused, lying, or just mis-spoke. But, lets just make sure that no matter what his motivation, you, my dear readers, understand that a) it isn’t true, and b) don’t eat at the Olive Garden. Lets just skip point B for the sake of brevity.

Lets do this with feeling… ready? Repeat after me:

  1. It is not illegal for you to read Wikileaks.
  2. It is not illegal for you to download documents from Wikileaks.
  3. You do not need to rely on “the media” to spoon feed you the documents from Wikileaks.
  4. The Olive Garden is not Italian food.

Cuomo might be confused because of a couple little things.

In 2001, the Supreme Court held in Bartnicki v. Vopper ,532 U.S. 514 (2001) that the press has a right to report on materials that might have been created or gathered illegally – as long as the media outlet took no part in the illegal activity. In that case, a radio reporter got ahold of the tape of an illegally recorded phone call. Since it was a matter of public concern, the press had a right to use it. So, the Wikileaks documents may have been illegally obtained in the first place, but once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in. The press can report on it.

Of course, in 2001, the lines between “you” and “the media” weren’t so blurred. And, I could see Mr. Cuomo thinking that since Bartnicki addresses the press, that this somehow excludes the rabble from that same privilege. However, the press doesn’t actually get any special privileges here, just because Bartnicki did not address you downloading these documents to your hard drive. In fact, it wouldn’t make too much sense for it to be legal for CNN to report on the documents, and to publish them, but you could then be prosecuted – unless you can show that you downloaded them from CNN.

Now maybe Cuomo was also confused by a 2010 memo where government employees were warned that they couldn’t access leaked classified documents. Yeah, that might be true. If you work for the government, it can probably impose some limits on what you can possess when it comes to leaked classified material. Even if they can’t prosecute an employee, they could certainly condition continued employment or continued security clearance on you being a good little doggie. And, perhaps if you’re seeking employment with the federal government, you might not want to say “yeah, I did” if they ask if you ever read the Wikileaks releases.

Now what about “receiving stolen property?” Someone steals a car. They drop it off in front of my house with the keys in the ignition and a note that says “a gift from a friend.” That doesn’t mean I can hope in and go for a spin. But, laws governing receipt of stolen property are a bit hard to apply to documents and information. Further, even if some prosecutor wanted to prosecute you for it, they’d be hard pressed to get anywhere with that when it comes to information that is a matter of public concern — like this information.

And then, you get back to the question of “who is ‘the media’?” How do we really draw a distinction there? Luckily, we don’t have to. The Same Bartnicki case that we discussed before makes it clear that we “draw no distinction between the media respondents and” a non-institutional respondent.” But, this was hardly revolutionary. See, e.g., Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663 (1991) (press gets no special privileges when it comes to laws governing communication); Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357 (1965) (applying New York Times v. Sullivan to non-media defendant); Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64, 67–68 (1964) (same).

So go ahead. Read those documents. Talk about them. Publish them on your blog or your Facebook feed. And do that no matter who is in office. It isn’t just your right, but it is your patriotic duty.

Ask not what you can do for your country; demand to know what your country has been doing to you.

Copyright 2016 by the named Popehat author.

October 17, 2016 at 12:41PM
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Why Doctors Without Borders Refused a Million Free Vaccines

Why Doctors Without Borders Refused a Million Free Vaccines
By James Hamblin

This week the medical-aid organization Doctors Without Borders refused a donation of one million vaccine doses from the pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer. It offered inoculations against a commonly fatal pneumonia—deliverable immediately, to people in need anywhere—and the doctors said no.

The decision is the result of a fundamental impasse in modern healthcare. The heart of the refusal—which could well imperil children who would have received those vaccines—is a principled stand against the extremely high cost of many vaccines.

Pfizer tells me that their revenue from the vaccine in question last year was $6.245 billion. (That’s the same as the revenue of United Airlines.) The enormous business includes much profit from countries that are willing and able to pay inflated prices for a life-saving vaccine. It necessarily leaves others behind.

How has this system come to such a head that humanitarian doctors would refuse a million vaccines on principle?

The medical background: The leading cause of death in children is pneumonia. In the lungs, alveoli fill with pus, which blocks the passage of oxygen. A person is essentially suffocated by their own immune response. This happens to 1.4 million kids every year. The process is often the result of one bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae.Decades ago, scientists were able to isolate proteins and carbohydrates from S. pneumoniae and expose children to only those benign molecules, instead of the entire bacteria. The kids’ bodies learned to recognize and destroy S. pneumoniae without having to be exposed to it.

Pfizer’s modern iteration of this vaccine is known among doctors as PCV13. It’s recommended to be given to all children by medical authorities worldwide. Since its introduction, cases of severe Strep pneumonia in the U.S. have gone down by 88 percent.

Elsewhere, death from pneumonia remains commonplace, especially in subsaharan Africa and southeast Asia. This is where much work is done by Doctors Without Borders—known outside the U.S. as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—to provide care. So I was initially shocked to hear MSF refused a million PCV13 doses from Pfizer, who seemed shocked themselves.

“Pfizer is committed to making vaccines available to as many people as possible,” company spokesperson Sally Beatty told me by email, “particularly those needing emergency humanitarian assistance.”

Beatty explained that Pfizer “strongly disagrees” with MSF’s decision, and that “to suggest that donations are not valuable defies logic.”

Of course, the doctors do see donations as valuable—simply not worth the costs in this context, which transcends seemingly straightforward philanthropy and medical science.

Pfizer sells its PCV13 pneumonia vaccine under the name Prevnar 13. Among the best-selling vaccines on the market, its technology is protected by multiple patents—not just on the final product, but also on the process by which the vaccine is made. This makes it difficult for competitors to produce anything comparable at all. The South Korean company SK Chemicals came close to producing an analogue, but Pfizer sued the company and was supported by the country’s Intellectual Property Tribunal in 2015.

MSF has been trying to get their hands on Prevnar 13 since it was introduced in 2009, but the price has been too high. Outside of dire situations—as when the group purchased some Prevnar from pharmacies in Athens a few months ago (for 60 euros per dose)––the group has lacked the resources to purchase it.

And this cost is the fundamental issue to Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States. He explained that donations from pharmaceutical companies are ineffective against a problem of this scale. While the donation would benefit people under the care of Doctors Without Borders immediately, accepting it could mean problems for others, and problems longer-term. Donations, he writes, are “often used as a way to make others ‘pay up.’ By giving the pneumonia vaccine away for free, pharmaceutical corporations can use this as justification for why prices remain high for others, including other humanitarian organizations and developing countries that also can’t afford the vaccine.”

Which is to say that for a disease of this scale, isolated donations are inadequate.

“I’m not absolutely against donations,” MSF’s vaccine pharmacist Alain Alsahani told me by phone from Paris. In cases of neglected disease where there is little or no market for a product, he explained, “donation becomes a more interesting option for some countries to get access. But in the case of PCV, that’s not a solution at all, in any way.”

In this case, to accept a donation is to accept the status quo in which health technology is beholden to the priorities and values of multinational monopolies and duopolies whose interests exceed simply finding a solvent path to technological progress and human wellbeing. Last year Pfizer returned $13.1 billion to its shareholders. By every estimate, Prevnar 13 is a “blockbuster” contributor to the company’s profits, though they declined to share specific numbers.

Prices paid by patients, insurers, and aid organizations can remain high in part because of this sort of opacity. Last year MSF determined that a single dose of the vaccine—a complete course requires three to four doses over time—runs course of vaccination—three doses in all—runs $63.70 in Morocco and $67.30 in Tunisia, while it’s somehow cheaper in France at $58.40. (In the U.S., the group put the cost at closer to $136.)

“The companies really operate on opacity of price data,” explained Kate Elder, the Vaccines Policy Advisor at MSF. People in the dark have no bargaining power. (Not unlike office workers negotiating salaries.)

Isn’t there at least some list price for reference, I asked, like the price of a car?

“What they try to avoid at all costs—no pun intended—is to avoid governments or other purchasers doing price referencing,” she added. “They won’t even quote us a price. So step one is them being a business and selling us a product.”

I asked Pfizer if they would be open to a deal to make the vaccine affordable to humanitarian organizations like MSF. Beatty wrote, “We are actively exploring a number of new options to enable greater access to our pneumococcal vaccine … to aid NGOs facing humanitarian emergency settings.”

I asked if that meant changing the price for MSF, and she copied and pasted the same response.

One deal that Pfizer will talk about, even unprompted, is that with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), an organization that purchases vaccines in bulk on behalf of poor countries. In 2009, Pfizer agreed to sell Prevnar to GAVI for $9.15 per course.

That price is really what MSF wants, and has been requesting for years. So I put it to Pfizer directly, one final time: Why can’t you give the $9.15 price to NGOs? After all, their patients represent a relatively small part of the multibillion-dollar market for a vaccine that’s supposed to be given to all people.

Pfizer’s representative didn’t answer the question directly, but again pasted “we are actively exploring a number of new options to enable greater access to our pneumococcal vaccine to aid NGOS facing humanitarian emergency settings.”

Until that active exploration bears fruit, MSF is forced to choose the less imperfect option that will yield the greatest good. In the short term, does MSF’s decision threaten the wellbeing of children who might have received the donated vaccines?

“We’re taking every step we can to minimize that risk,” Elder said. “But our priority is to vaccinate as many children as possible in the long term.”

In medicine, sometimes do no harm is an imperfect principle. It’s only possible to do the least harm. And Pfizer disagrees with MSF about how to do the least harm. In By a cold phone call to my cell, call, Beatty reiterated that the company sees donation as a humanitarian endeavor. “Is policy really more important than the opportunity to vaccinate and protect vulnerable people in emergency settings?”

In another email, she reiterated that the donation offer is still on the table, deliverable immediately, and that Pfizer would offer to store the doses prior to distribution, if adequate storage for the entire one million is not available.

I felt like somehow Somehow I had become the negotiator. I’m still trying to identify the impasse for Pfizer, but I got the impression the standoff would persist. And its Its resolution could establish a precedent across the industry, because more than this dangerous pneumonia is at stake. Many new vaccines are still made by only one or two manufacturers, and monopolies and duopolies are a real factor in why prices remain high. The HPV vaccine is only made by GSK and Merck. The rotavirus vaccine against diarrhea (the second leading cause of childhood death worldwide) is only made by GSK and Merck. The new malaria vaccine is only made by GSK.

If there is a reason for people to be concerned about vaccines, it is a problem with peoplenot having access, and a legal and economic system that keep prices high. The spirit of MSF’s decision highlights the same principle behind herd immunity: Vaccines are not about individuals. They are not even about individual organizations. They’re microcosm of all health: We’re in this together.

In an attempt to rectify consumer blindness, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently established a vaccine price and procurement database initiative, where all purchasers can share what they know, but there’s still a scarcity of data.

And on Wednesday, Elder was in Geneva at a meeting that WHO convened this week on vaccination in emergencies. There they proposed a humanitarian mechanism where manufacturers can participate to sell their vaccines to NGOs and others vaccinating in emergency settings at further reduced cost. Elder reported that GSK was the first to commit, and Pfizer did not, but was represented at the meeting.

“So the onus is on them, from MSF and from WHO and UNICEF,” said Elder. “The ball is in their court.”

October 14, 2016 at 08:00AM
via The Atlantic http://ift.tt/2e3VwaT

More Hardball Debate Questions

More Hardball Debate Questions
By Scott Alexander

[See also Hardball Questions For The Next Debate. The Gary Johnson question is not original to me.]

Jill Stein:

You’re a former doctor and researcher who first got involved in politics because of your interest in public health. One of your first forays into activism was the 2000 publication of In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, a magisterial report on the effect of pollution on children’s physical and mental health. You described your focus as being on “developmental disabilities, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, and related neurodevelopmental diseases”. You describe “accumulating evidence of neurotoxic damage to children by environmental agents, such as lead and PCBs”.

In Chapter 7, you discuss the high burden of pesticides eaten by developing children, saying that:

Twenty million American children five and under eat an average of eight pesticides every day through food consumption. Thirty-seven pesticides registered for use on foods are neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides, chemically related to more toxic nerve warfare agents developed earlier this century…a national health exposure study detected chlorpyrifos residues (as the metabolite TCP) in the urine of 82% of a representative sample of American adults. A more recent study in Minnesota revealed that an even higher 92% of children had detectable levels of this metabolite in their urine.

You connect this increasing pesticide exposure to what you believe to be increasing levels of developmental disorders in American children:

The Cailfornia Department of Developmental Services released [a study] in March 1999 [that] looked at pervasive developmental disorders from 1987 through 1998 and showed a 210 percent increase in cases entered into the autism registry during those years. If the incidence of autism is increasing, and/or clusters of autism are being discovered, an environmental influence is likely.

Maybe as a result, you’ve become a big advocate of eating organic food. Your party platform says you want to “support organic and regenerative agriculture” and “put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe”. You presented a pro-organics case on Bill Moyers’ show back in 2012, and you’re even known for preparing your own organic meals on the campaign trail.

But there’s a lot of pushback from mainstream scientists and the mainstream media. For example, news webzine Vox has an interesting article Is Organic Food Any Healthier? Most Scientists Are Still Skeptical publicizing a meta-analysis of 237 studies which showed that “organic foods didn’t appear to be any healthier or safer to eat than their conventionally grown counterparts” and that “typical exposure to pesticide residues is at levels 10,000 to 10,000,000 times lower than doses that cause no observable effect in laboratory animals that are fed pesticides daily throughout their entire lifetimes”. Vox has also written Local And Organic Food Has Extra Safety Risks. Just Ask Chipotle. vox’s spinoff webzine Eater even makes fun of customers looking for “natural” foods without having any idea what that means.

If they’re right, then you’re promoting an unscientific fad that has millions of people needlessly stressed out about everything they eat. On the other hand, if you’re right, then these media outlets’ pooh-poohing of a vital public health message makes them complicit in and maybe even responsible for what you call the “epidemic” of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

So my question for you is: do you believe Vox ‘zines cause autism?

Hillary Clinton:

During your first debate with Donald Trump, the moderate asked you about racial bias in police shootings; you responded that “implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police”. You argued that you would “put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by police officers” and that we’ve “got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias”. Your running mate Tim Kaine continued on the theme, saying that people shouldn’t be afraid to bring up police officers’ implicit biases.

This talk of implicit bias references a whole psychological field centered around the Implicit Association Test. It works like this: a subject sitting in front of a keyboard is shown rapid-fire pictures representing various categories – classically black people, white people, positive adjectives, and negative adjectives. They’re given various instructions about which keys to press in response to which categories, and their responses are timed. Many people will find that it’s easier to press the same key for white people and positive adjectives (and an opposite key for black people and negative adjectives) than to press the same key for whites+negatives and blacks+positives. This has been widely considered to show implicit racism – that is, even people who say they are not racist unconsciously associate black people with bad qualities. This research has become wildly popular, profiled in every major media outlet, and catapulted its inventors to scientific stardom. It’s even been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, maybe a first for a social psych paper.

A few early small studies suggested the IAT predicted prejudiced behavior. But later attempts to replicate this result failed. Blanton, Jaccard, Klick, Mellers, Mitchell, Tetlock (2009) reanalyzed some of the original studies, found no effect, and complained that the IAT was being popularized despite an almost-complete lack of evidence for its validity. Oswald et al (2013) did a meta-analysis of 275 implicit association test results from 46 different studies and found that “IATs were poor predictors of every criterion category other than brain activity, and the IATs performed no better than simple explicit measures”. Carlsson and Agerstrom did another meta-analysis earlier this year, and found “the overall effect was close to zero and highly inconsistent across studies” and “there is…little evidence that the IAT can meaningfully predict discrimination, and we thus strongly caution against any practical applications of the IAT that rest on this assumption”.

You particularly mention the IAT as relevant to policing, but Dolan Group, a consulting firm which advises police forces how to avoid racial discrimination, did an internal analysis of results surrounding the IAT and reports to its clients that:

Persons who do not hold overt racist attitudes do not have to worry about some deeply-hidden, unknown, unconscious attitudes influencing their work decisions. These findings reveal the need to aggressively weed out officers who hold conscious racial stereotypes and biases in order to avoid biased-based policing. These findings also raise questions about whether the money and time spent on law enforcement training and testing regarding implicit bias could be put to better use on something else.

When you and your running mate suggest a focus on implicit bias as relevant to policing, this can really only be justified by taking the preliminary findings of a few small early studies and ignoring both more rigorous reanalysis of their results and the consensus finding of all studies and meta-analyses conducted since that time.

On the other hand, there still is something to be explained here: if the IAT isn’t analyzing implicit racial prejudice, why do people so consistently have an easier time associating black people with negative adjectives? I actually have a theory of my own about that. Consider claims like the following:

1. Black people were brutally enslaved for hundreds of years.
2. Black people are almost three times more likely than whites to live below the poverty line.
3. Black people are systematically being murdered by the criminal justice system.
4. Black people are frequent victims of racism and hate crimes.
5. Our society is set up to structurally discriminate against black people.

None of these claims are racist per se; in fact, many of them are anti-racist in intent. But all of them connect black people to negative affect! If your local newspaper says that white people usually have friendly and positive interactions with the police but black people are victimized and killed by police, that is some heavy association of whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings. If you usually see photos of white people in the news under the headline “LOCAL BUSINESS BOUGHT BY GOOGLE”, and photos of blacks in the news under the headline “LEARN HOW OUR RACIST SOCIETY KEPT THIS POOR WOMAN FROM SUCCEEDING” then once again, you’re learning to associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings.

This would explain very nicely why people taking the IAT generally associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings in a way apparently unrelated to whether they are explicitly prejudiced/racist. It would also explain very nicely why about 50% of blacks associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings, which is definitely a thing that happens and which previous explanations of have always sounded unconvincing and ad hoc.

But from your debate statements, it sounds like you are absolutely opposed to this reinterpretation. That you are committed to defending the position that implicit bias is a real predictor of racism, and that Implicit Association Tests don’t just report contingent associations drilled in by the media, but genuinely reveal profound unconscious beliefs about how the world works.

So my question for you is: would you be willing to take an Implicit Association Test measuring how easily you associate your own name vs. your opponents’ names with the adjective “crooked”?

Gary Johnson:

If you were elected, what would you do about the ongoing crisis in Updog?

Donald Trump:

You’re well-known for your boast that you “hire the best people”. And one of those best people is Steve Bannon, the CEO of your campaign. When Bannon took over on August 17th, 538 had you at only a 12% chance of winning; after he was running your campaign for a month, you were up to 40%. Although you’ve since crashed back down, a lot of political observers attribute what successes you’ve had to Bannon and what problems you’ve had to your own big mouth. You seem to recognize his utility, calling him one of “the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November”.

Before he joined your campaign, Bannon was best known for his role leading far-right news website Breitbart. But he was actually involved in some pretty interesting stuff when he was younger. In particular, in 1993 Bannon was the acting director of the famous environmental science experiment Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2 was an attempt to create a self-sustaining closed ecosystem capable of supporting human life, possibly with applications for future space travel. It was actually the first such attempt – it was called “Biosphere 2” because the first such self-sustaining biosphere was the Earth itself. Eight “crew members” entered the facility along with various plants and animals, the airlocks were sealed, and for a year everyone tried to do what they could to keep the various species and environmental parameters in balance.

It didn’t work; CO2 levels started fluctuating wildly, soil microbes surged out of control, ants and cockroaches overran the facility, oxygen dropped to worrying levels, and the experiment was stopped early out of concern for crew health. They decided to try a second mission, and that was when they had a change in management and brought on Mr. Bannon as director.

Unfortunately, a lot of the crew members really didn’t like Bannon and his team. Possibly some of it had to do with an incident where a crew member submitted a list of safety complaints and Bannon threatened to “shove it down her f**king throat”. It got so bad that some of the crew deliberately vandalized the Biosphere, causing gas exchange between the inside and the outside and ruining the scientific value of the experiment. Although they probably could have tried again, by that time lawsuits and financial mismanagement had sapped their funding, and they finally sold the whole thing off to Columbia University as a research campus.

So my question for you is: in all of history, there have only been two self-sufficient ecosystems capable of maintaining human life. Your team has already destroyed one of them. The other is Earth. How scared should we be?

“Gary Johnson: If you were elected, what would you do about the ongoing crisis in Updog?” :DDDD

October 13, 2016 at 08:20PM
via Slate Star Codex http://ift.tt/2ebXhim