David Koch, Billionaire Political Donor, Announces Retirement

Billionaire donor David Koch has said he is stepping down from his business and political roles over health concerns. Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP hide caption David Koch, one half of the billionaire duo that built one of the nation’s largest privately owned companies and one of its most controversial political networks, has announced his retirement from politics and business.

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The Racial Double Standard

Coleman Hughes, a black student at Columbia, goes there. His essay begins like this:

In the fall of 2016, I was hired to play in Rihanna’s back-up band at the MTV Video Music Awards. To my pleasant surprise, several of my friends had also gotten the call. We felt that this would be the gig of a lifetime: beautiful music, primetime TV, plus, if we were lucky, a chance to schmooze with celebrities backstage.

But as the date approached, I learned that one of my friends had been fired and replaced. The reason? He was a white Hispanic, and Rihanna’s artistic team had decided to go for an all-black aesthetic—aside from Rihanna’s steady guitarist, there would be no non-blacks on stage. Though I was disappointed on my friend’s behalf, I didn’t consider his firing as unjust at the time—and maybe it wasn’t. Is it unethical for an artist to curate the racial composition of a racially-themed performance? Perhaps; perhaps not. My personal bias leads me to favor artistic freedom, but as a society, we have yet to answer this question definitively.

One thing, however, is clear. If the races were reversed—if a black musician had been fired in order to achieve an all-white aesthetic—it would have made front page headlines. It would have been seen as an unambiguous moral infraction. The usual suspects would be outraged, calling for this event to be viewed in the context of the long history of slavery and Jim Crow in this country, and their reaction would widely be seen as justified. Public-shaming would be in order and heartfelt apologies would be made. MTV might even enact anti-bias trainings as a corrective.

Though the question seems naïve to some, it is in fact perfectly valid to ask why black people can get away with behavior that white people can’t. The progressive response to this question invariably contains some reference to history: blacks were taken from their homeland in chains, forced to work as chattel for 250 years, and then subjected to redlining, segregation, and lynchings for another century. In the face of such a brutal past, many would argue, it is simply ignorant to complain about what modern-day blacks can get away with.

Yet there we were—young black men born decades after anything that could rightly be called ‘oppression’ had ended—benefitting from a social license bequeathed to us by a history that we have only experienced through textbooks and folklore. And my white Hispanic friend (who could have had a tougher life than all of us, for all I know) paid the price. The underlying logic of using the past to justify racial double-standards in the present is rarely interrogated. What do slavery and Jim Crow have to do with modern-day blacks, who experienced neither? Do all black people have P.T.S.D from racism, as the Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist Donald Glover recently claimed? Is ancestral suffering actually transmitted to descendants? If so, how? What exactly are historical ‘ties’ made of?

Hughes goes on to lament the double standard the public applies to famous black writers. For example:

The celebrated journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates provides another example of the lower ethical standard to which black writers are held. In his #1 New York Times bestseller, Between the World and Me, Coates explained that the policemen and firemen who died on 9/11 “were not human to me,” but “menaces of nature.”1 This, it turned out, was because a friend of Coates had been killed by a black cop a few months earlier. In his recent essay collection, he doubled down on this pitiless sentiment: “When 9/11 happened, I wanted nothing to do with any kind of patriotism, with the broad national ceremony of mourning. I had no sympathy for the firefighters, and something bordering on hatred for the police officers who had died.”2 Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss—a young Jewish woman—was recently raked over the coals for tweeting, “Immigrants: They get the job done,” in praise of the Olympic ice-skater Mirai Nagasu, a second-generation Japanese-American. Accused of ‘othering’ an American citizen, Weiss came under so much fire that The Atlantic ran twoseparate pieces defending her. That The Atlantic saw it necessary to vigorously defend Weiss, but hasn’t had to lift a finger to defend Coates, whom they employ, evidences the racial double-standard at play. From a white writer, an innocuous tweet provokes histrionic invective. From a black writer, repeated expressions of unapologetic contempt for public servants who died trying to save the lives of others on September 11 are met with fawningpraise from leftwing periodicals, plus a National Book Award and a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant.

Hughes says this double standard is common in society:

But we make an exception for blacks. Indeed, what George Orwell wrote in 1945seems more apt today: “Almost any English intellectual would be scandalised by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it.” Only a black intellectual, for instance, could write an op-ed arguing that black children should not befriend white children because “[h]istory has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” and get it published in the New York Times in 2017. An identical piece with the races reversed would rightly be relegated to fringe white supremacist forums. In defense of such racist drivel, it won’t suffice to repeat the platitude that ‘black people can’t be racist,’ as if redefining a word changes the ethical status of the thing that the word signifies. Progressives ought not dodge the question: Why are blacks the only ethnic group routinely and openly encouraged to nurse stale grievances back to life?

Read the whole thing. It’s very, very brave. Hughes is a black undergraduate at an Ivy League university, yet he has no been afraid to say what has been unsayable. That man has guts.

By the way, his essay is not merely an exercise in whataboutism. He addresses real philosophical and moral concerns in it. He focuses on blacks, but as a general matter, if you read the mainstream press, you’ll find there’s a tendency to treat gays and other minority groups favored by liberals with kid gloves — as if they were symbols, not real people, with the same virtues and vices that everybody else has. For example, in a previous job, I observed that some liberals in the newsroom viewed local Muslims through the lens of the culture war between liberals and conservatives, and did not want to hold them to the same standard with regard to extremist rhetoric, apparently because doing so might encourage conservatives in their own biases.

Another personal example: last year, I wrote several posts about Tommy Curry, a radical black nationalist who teaches philosophy at Texas A&M (see here and here). In his written work and spoken advocacy, Curry advocates what can only be described as anti-white hatred. Don’t take my word for it; go read the blogs I wrote, which quote generously from, and link to, Curry’s own work. A white man who spoke the same way about any racial minority would never have been hired by a university — A&M hired him knowing exactly what they were getting, because he had published — and would never be retained by one after his racism became known. I linked in one of the blogs to a podcast (subtitled, “White People Are The Problem”) on which Curry was a regular guest; on that particular episode, this philosophy professor argued that white people cannot be reasonable, because they are white.

Imagine being a white student in that man’s class.

But there is a different standard for bigots from the left. The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote a long piece about the fallout from my blogs, and positioned it as Curry having suffered because he wanted to “force a conversation about race and violence” — a conversation that people didn’t want to hear. The writer — no doubt reflecting the biases of his own professional class — could not seem to grasp why people would be really offended by the unapologetic racism of Tommy Curry’s writing and speaking. This is precisely the double standard that Coleman Hughes decries. It is lucrative for radicals like Curry, Coates, and others, but a just society should hold us all to the same standard of discourse and morality. This is one aspect of the Enlightenment that I am eager to defend. It’s not only morally right, but practically, observing it it is the only way we will be able to keep the peace in a pluralistic country.

I found Hughes’s essay via Prufrock, a free daily digest that comes to you in e-mail, to which you can and should subscribe by clicking here. 

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The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid

America is a generous country. Taxpayers can take pride in the fact that, under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, they will send more than $2 billion worth of food to needy countries this year. Thanks to these aid programs, more than 50 million people in 51 countries will be fed by U.S. foreign aid. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that these programs are rife with cronyism that make them more expensive and less effective than they should be.

Just how much cronyism is there? Enough that another 8 to 10 million people could be fed at no added cost just by removing two unnecessary regulations.

What do these regulations do? The first requires that nearly all U.S. food aid be sourced from American farmers. The logic is that American food aid can combine generosity with national self-interest, stabilizing U.S. agricultural markets while providing aid.

But that self-interest has a cost, and a significant one. Namely, there is often more than enough food nearby that could be purchased and transported at a far lower cost and with far less waste than by shipping American food across the ocean. Even Africa, the continent most commonly associated with hunger crises, produces more than enough food to feed itself — as does the world as a whole, for that matter. In light of this fact, requiring that food aid be sourced in the United States no longer makes sense.

It’s a bizarre case where the costs of cronyism so outweigh the benefits that even one of the primary beneficiaries, the American Farm Bureau Federation, supports reform. The problem is that this regulation is a relic of a different era, one in which food aid was a meaningful portion of American agricultural exports and in which local food production in hunger-stricken areas was rarely sufficient to meet local demand. That is no longer the case — food aid today accounts for less than 1 percent of agricultural exports and less than 0.1 percent of food production in the country. The times have changed, but our rules have not.

The other regulation mandates that at least half of all U.S. food aid be carried on U.S.-flag vessels, known as the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the effects of the CPFA, and found that the costs were significant. Overall, the GAO estimated that the CFPA increased costs of shipping by 23 percent between 2011 and 2014, making up over $107 million of the total $456 million cost.

This time, the original intent behind the rule was based on national security concerns rather than economic ones. Lawmakers intended to use the food aid program to subsidize a merchant marine that could be called upon in times of war. Yet again, the organization that the regulation is intended to benefit, the Department of Defense, supports reform. The vast majority of U.S. vessels carrying food aid do not meet minimum standards for reform, and the DoD has stated that elimination of the regulation would not impact America’s maritime readiness in the case of war.

It is an unfortunate fact that as much as 60 percent of the food aid budget is spent on items that have nothing to do with food — such as transportation costs for the American food that we’re sending halfway around the world on more expensive American ships. And it’s why simple reform, such as the bipartisan Food for Peace Reform Act of 2018, would free up nearly $300 million simply by reducing the requirement for U.S.-sourced food to 25 percent.

It’s rare that cronyism is so egregious and outdated that its beneficiaries support reform. When they do, lawmakers should take the hint, and support reform as well.

The post The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid appeared first on The American Spectator.

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New ‘Fetal Concerns Center’ opens June 4 at Children’s Hospital: ‘All the providers in 1 place’

MILWAUKEE — A new “Fetal Concerns Center” opens Monday, June 4 at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and it’ll serve women with high-risk pregnancies. “One of the biggest benefits of having this space and this ability is that it puts all the …

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Facebook says device-integrated APIs allowed vendors to recreate…

Facebook gave 60+ device makers, including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung, deeper access to users’ personal info than previously known, through private APIs – The company formed data-sharing partnerships with Apple, Samsung and dozens of other device makers, raising new concerns about its privacy protections. Facebook says device-integrated APIs allowed vendors to recreate Facebook-like experiences, were governed by strict contracts, and are being faded out – The New York Times has today written a long piece about our device-integrated APIs – software we launched 10 years ago to help get Facebook onto mobile devices.

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Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends

The company formed data-sharing partnerships with Apple, Samsung and dozens of other device makers, raising new concerns about its privacy protections. As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information. Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers…

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Bayer knowingly infected hemophiliacs with HIV yet it’s merger with Monsanto will go on

The Big Pharma giant Bayer has just won approval from the US Justice Department for the $62.5 billion dollar takeover of the agrichemical behemoth Monsanto. The deal, which was solidified on Tuesday, has many people on edge knowing that Bayer, a company with a sordid history of corruption is merging with Monsanto, the company who has made an empire with its pesticide, herbicide, and genetically-engineered seed empire. As DW reports, as part of Bayer’s agreement with US antitrust enforcers, the German firm will be required to divest some $9 billion in assets. Regulators said they directed Bayer to sell off its entire cotton, canola, soybean and vegetable seeds businesses, as well as its digital farming business. It will also sell its Liberty herbicide, which competes directly with Monsanto’s product RoundUp. Prior to this sell off of assets, government regulators voiced their fears that the merger of these two companies would hamper competition and be a detriment to both farmers and consumers. Although Bayer’s asset sales were the largest divestiture ever required by the United States, some concerns over this monopoly are still alive, and rightfully so. Though Bayer established its reputation for the invention of aspirin, a more nefarious incident involving an HIV-contaminated drug to be administered to children suffering from hemophilia proved the corporation’s practices aren’t as noble as it would have the public believe.

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Canada : Bill C-71 Background Checks : Marketing Myths vs Reality

Mental Gun Health
Canada : Bill C-71 Background Checks : Marketing Myths vs Reality

Canada – -(Ammoland.com)- Myth: The government says expanding background checks from five years to the entire lifetime of a firearms licence applicant, will enhance public safety and keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.

Reality: People with long histories of mental health issues self-disclosed on firearms licence applications are issued firearms licences by the RCMP.

During the question and answer portion of testimony before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) committee on May 24, 2018, Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos stated:

“There’s been many reports throughout the country that individuals have been able to access firearms and they’re mentally ill, they have struggled with these challenges throughout their lives, they have disclosed this in their application and yet they’re still given a firearm, so that’s, that’s very concerning.”

Fragiskatos is correct. That people with known mental health issues are issued firearms licences is deeply disturbing.

Removing the five-year limit on background checks will not stop this, however, because the time period of the background check is not the issue. The issue is that the RCMP did not do its job and deny those licence applications.

Adrian Clavier, one case referred to by Mr. Fragiskatos, was a 50-year-old man who killed himself in 2015 with a legally owned and registered handgun.

Clavier had a 35-year history of mental illness. He disclosed this on his firearms licence application form. His family members reported their concerns as well.

The RCMP issued him a firearms licence anyway.

The family continued to raise alarms with authorities. Those concerns were ignored.

“They were told that because the guns were licensed and properly stored, and there had been no complaints, there was nothing the RCMP could do.”

Corey Lewis, the other case referred to by Mr. Fragiskatos, was shot and killed in a “suicide by cop” when police responded to the latest in a long string of domestic dispute calls at his Okotoks, Alberta, home.

Lewis disclosed his issues on his firearms licence application, just like Clavier. In his case, Lewis’ wife was not consulted, nor did police check publicly available court documents, according to CBC.

If police will not take long histories of mental health issues into account now, what makes the government believe extending background checks will make any difference?

RCMP told the family it would review the case, but then didn’t respond when the Claviers asked about the results, prompting the family to issue a warning to Canadians:

“I guess it was frankly because we’d been ignored and somebody died because of that. And it shouldn’t have happened,” Reva Clavier said.

“Nothing we did yielded any actions from the institutions that could have made a difference,” said Glenn Clavier, Adrian’s brother.

The issue is not with the length of the background check and changing those goal posts will not and cannot resolve it.

The issue is the RCMP. They are responsible for issuing Possession and Acquisition Licences, and they are not doing their jobs.

  • The warning signs were there.
  • The applicants disclosed their problems.
  • The RCMP ignored the information and issued the licences anyway.

If the goal is to solve the problem of people with mental health issues getting firearms licences, then address and resolve this issue with the RCMP.

Sources:

  • https://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20180524/629/29382
  • http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/federal-gun-control-reforms-mentally-ill-suicide-1.4591618
  • http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/gun-license-suicide-mental-health-1.4493326

Canadian Shooting Sports AssociationAbout Canadian Shooting Sports Association ( CSSA ):

The CSSA is the voice of the sport shooter and firearms enthusiast in Canada. Our national membership supports and promotes Canada’s firearms heritage, traditional target shooting competition, modern action shooting sports, hunting, and archery. We support and sponsor competitions and youth programs that promote these Canadian heritage activities. Website www.cdnshootingsports.org

The post Canada : Bill C-71 Background Checks : Marketing Myths vs Reality appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

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Marshall Islands Aims to Resolve Shipping Industry’s Safety Concerns

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has submitted a paper to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Intersessional Working Group (ISWG) on the consistent implementation of the 2020 global fuel oil sulphur standard under MARPOL Annex VI.

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