Sunday, May 31, 2015
In any case, she's extremely well-informed and loquacious.
More from Ashe Schow, at the Washington Examiner, "Carly Fiorina breaks top 10 of 2016 GOP candidates in latest national poll."
And from Katie Pavlich, at Town Hall, "While Rick Santorum Whines About Rules, Carly Fiorina Steps Up To GOP Debate Challenge."
He's a cool dude!
Why everyone's missing what's really wrong with the retracted La-Court-Green Science magazine article: http://t.co/yVQbOw51D1 @powerlineUS— Steven F. Hayward (@stevenfhayward) May 31, 2015
Some "clear subtexts of this article that reveal endemic problems within the world of academic political science": https://t.co/8eqcKM0Qjn— Donald Douglas (@AmPowerBlog) May 31, 2015
And ICYMI, "Michael LaCour, 'Gay Canvassers' Fabulist, Responds to Attacks on Retracted Homosexual Marriage Study."
Love it when progressives of pallor get roasted ==> https://t.co/LtGi2aFrnW— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) May 31, 2015
'Show the GOP who is the party of old, fat, white people': Instapundit mercilessly mocks Bernie Sanders event http://t.co/ygAeE4qydN— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) May 31, 2015
In any case, here's this a Bloomberg, "Quality, expensive TV shows need more viewers to be sustainable, but audiences are dwindling":
The entertainment industry will air more than 400 original TV shows this year, lavishing hundreds of millions of dollars on top talent and exotic locations in the hopes of creating the next “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones.”More.
The gusher of quality programs has prompted TV critics to proclaim a Golden Age of Television. But as any viewer knows, keeping up with all the shows is impossible. You’d have to watch TV 24 hours a day for at least eight months to catch every scripted series that aired last year, according to a Bloomberg calculation. With too many shows chasing too few viewers, say industry executives, most original programs lose money and half the shows now running probably will disappear by next year.
“The market is flooded with too many people chasing the same prize,” said Jeff Wachtel, president of NBCUniversal’s cable unit, which includes the USA and Syfy channels. “What used to be the golden age of television has now become a gold rush.”
With production costs soaring and shows being canceled with increasing frequency, executives say many niche channels will vanish as networks with the most popular shows swallow rivals that fail to create enough hits of their own.
And after the show its the... pic.twitter.com/zTfjms54ZN— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) May 6, 2015
Does the “fat acceptance” movement “destabilize the heteronormative gaze”? Can women overcome “gender inequality” by a “radical rejection of beauty as feminine aspiration”? Those possibilities are suggested by two Canadian sociologists in an article, included in a leading Women’s Studies textbook, that compared Dove’s “Real Beauty” advertising campaign to a protest by lesbian activists in Toronto.
At WSJ, "U.S. Recovery Stumbles Yet Again":
The U.S. economy shrank during the first quarter as another brutal winter highlighted the fragility of the nearly six-year-old expansion, a historically choppy stretch during which the nation has struggled to thrive in an uneven global environment.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., contracted at a 0.7% annual rate during the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.
That was far worse than the agency’s initial estimate that showed 0.2% growth, marking an abrupt reversal from the prior nine months when growth surged and the economy appeared on the verge of a long-delayed breakout.
The economy has now contracted in three separate quarters since the recession ended in mid-2009, a series of disappointments unmatched since the expansions of the 1950s.
Harsh weather, a strong dollar and a labor dispute at West Coast ports appeared to be the biggest culprits this time, all sapping demand for American goods at home and abroad.
“When you’re this weak, little things can knock you off course, whether it’s the Arab Spring…or ‘Snowmageddon,’ ” said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at brokerage firm BTIG. “We have an incredibly weak economy that’s susceptible to momentary interruptions.”
The Federal Reserve has viewed the first-quarter stumble as due largely to transitory factors—such as the stronger dollar—that will dissipate in coming months. The central bank is looking for signs of a rebound soon as it plots when and how quickly to raise short-term interest rates, which have been near zero since December 2008 to stir economic growth.
Economists generally expect the economy to bounce back this spring, as it did after first-quarter contractions in 2011 and 2014. But they warned growth will likely remain modest, in line with the roughly 2% overall pace of recent years. The first half of 2015 is shaping up to be one of the weakest six-month stretches of the expansion, with economists predicting annualized growth of between 2% and 3% during the current quarter. By comparison, the economy grew more than 3% a year on average between 1983 and 2007.
Further complicating the outlook is that other signs point to the economy humming along at a steady, though modest, growth pace. Company layoffs are exceptionally low and hiring across the U.S. remains solid. Mortgage applications are up amid other signs of growing housing demand.
“We’re still growing at a relatively steady pace, although one that just doesn’t feel satisfying,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. “Six years into the recovery, we still really haven’t absorbed all of the idle capacity in the economy. When your underlying trend of growth is so slow, it doesn’t take much to just kind of stop the train.”
Some of the strongest headwinds facing the U.S. are tied to economic woes around the globe, including the U.S.’s biggest trading partners. Canada reported Friday that its economy unexpectedly contracted at a 0.6% annual pace in the first quarter. Mexican officials recently slashed their forecast for growth this year after reporting that the economy grew in the first quarter at the slowest pace in more than a year.
The stronger dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive abroad, also hasn’t helped. Friday’s GDP report showed that U.S. exports of goods fell by the most since early 2009, during the waning months of the recession. While a key measure of U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits grew 3.1% over the period, it wasn’t on pace to match the growth of the prior two years.
“We have a macro-slowdown around the world,” Stephen Angel, chief executive of industrial gas supplier Praxair Inc., told analysts this past week. “There’s less capital investment. China is decelerating…so there’s less proposal activity.”
His company, based in Connecticut, is one of many being hit by depressed oil prices. While the price of oil—around $60 a barrel—is up in recent months, it’s far from the 2014 peak of $107.26.
The oil-price drop has boosted consumers’ finances by lowering their gasoline bills, a development expected to boost the economy throughout this year. But the most dramatic effect thus far has been a drop in business investment, with energy companies holding off on drilling and equipment purchases as they deal with squeezed profits.
A measure of business spending on construction, machinery, and research and development fell at a 2.8% pace in the winter. That was the biggest decline since late 2009.
The strength of an economic rebound will hinge largely on the health of consumers. Consumer spending, representing more than two-thirds of overall economic output, grew at a 1.8% rate in the first quarter, far slower than the fourth quarter’s 4.4% growth. Household spending on long-lasting manufactured items was the weakest in nearly four years...
Watch: "Jessica Barth Taps Into Her Sex Appeal for Playboy."
He went 5 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds.
Watch: "Local man sets new record for longest held plank."
And at the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Marine vet obliterates 'planking' record."
More at LAT, "Bob Schieffer signs off from 'Face the Nation' and 46 years at CBS News."
In September Barack Obama launched the “It’s on Us” campaign, designed to fight what he called the “nightmare” of campus sexual assault. “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years,” Obama announced, pausing for emphasis. “One in five.” America, the president went on to argue, suffers from a “quiet tolerance of sexual assault,” all too often blaming victims, making excuses, or looking the other way. To combat sexual violence, he said, we need a “fundamental shift in our culture.”Well, Heather Wilhelm is a rape apologist!
With these words, the president of the United States went all in on the idea that America’s academic institutions have been taken over by a “rape culture” —a culture that normalizes, trivializes, and quietly condones male sexual assault against women, blaming female victims while subtly celebrating male predators.
Once rather obscure and confined to sociology and women’s studies departments, the term “rape culture” has slowly invaded the national consciousness. According to Google search analytics, the topic generated almost no traffic in 2005 or before. After 2011, its popularity slowly began to rise—as we’ll later see, this is no accident—and then, beginning in 2013, it spiked, the graph forming a hockey stick that would make global-warming doomsayer Michael Mann proud.
The idea that one in five college women has or will be sexually assaulted is mind-boggling and horrifying. It’s also not true. As Slate’s Emily Yoffe pointed out in December, the statistic—together with two other dubious studies that, just for the heck of it, upped the ante to one in four—would “mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.”
Both the “one in five” and “one in four” sexual-assault numbers, it turns out, have been repeatedly and resoundingly discredited. The former statistic comes from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study, an online survey of students at two college campuses that reportedly compensated respondents and categorized actions such as “kissing” and “rubbing up against” someone as sexual assault. (Even the author of the study, Christopher Krebs, told Yoffe that “one in five” is not “a nationally representative statistic.”)
“One in four” has proved even more resilient, given that it first popped up in a 1988 Ms. Foundation study by an Ohio State professor named Mary Koss—a survey later dismantled by Christina Hoff Sommers in 1994 based on work originally conducted by the Berkeley social-welfare scholar Neil Gilbert. As Sommers wrote, “For Gilbert, the most serious indication that something was basically awry in the Ms./Koss study was that the majority of women she classified as having been raped did not believe they had been raped. Of those Koss counts as having been raped, only 27 percent thought they had been; 73 percent did not say that what happened to them was rape.”
A more recent “one in four” study, conducted by the Department of Justice in 2000 and subtly titled “The Sexual Victimization of College Women,” went even further afield. Its initial results were within the boundaries of reason; it estimated that 2.8 percent of college women had been victims of rape. After performing some serious statistical voodoo, however, the authors estimated that one in four women “might” be raped—but, they admitted, “these projections are suggestive.” Oh. Well, OK. Good thing we don’t have a national panic on our hands.
Well, cancel that last thought: Actually, we do.
This month, CNN Films, in partnership with the Weinstein Company, is slated to release The Hunting Ground, which the Sundance Film Festival has called “a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses.” The film’s promotional poster, as the New York Times noted, “resembles an ad for a horror movie.”
This follows the release of yet another “study,” thrown into the pack in January. It declared—allow me to paraphrase—that men are soulless, earth-ravaging ogres. “Nearly one-third of college men admit they might rape a woman if they could get away with it,” Newsweek reported, breathless and giddy. As it turned out, this new survey, which was eagerly splashed across international media, had a sample size of 83, a participation number of 73, highly questionable survey methods, and was conducted solely using volunteers seeking extra credit at the University of North Dakota.
If your professional dream is to concoct a completely biased yet well-received and well-publicized study, congratulations: It’s apparently fairly easy. If you wish to soberly present facts and data, well, good luck. The latest Department of Justice hard data on sexual assault, released in December 2014, estimates that 0.61 percent of female college students are the victims of sexual assault. That’s 6.1 cases per 1,000 women. Curiously, these new numbers, which come from the Obama administration, aren’t making headlines at the Obama White House’s official website. In fact, in a special public service announcement broadcast during February’s Grammy awards, the president informed the nation that “nearly one in five women in America”—not just college students—”has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.”
Speaking of culture, what does it say about ours when such clearly preposterous statistics are so easily believed? More important, what does it mean that discredited and long-debunked rape “statistics” are repeated, over and over, all the way up to the bully pulpit of the highest political office in the country?
In fact, if the latest official statistics are accurate—the unfortunate yet not-so-dramatic 0.61 percent that many feminists seem intent on ignoring—then America seems to have the opposite of a “rape culture.” Rather than pushing actual rape under the rug and celebrating male predators, in other words, we’re inventing fictional rapes and throwing actual men under the bus.
“Rape culture,” in other words, is an idea that swings, cocky and unhinged, from media and campus chandeliers. It dodges logical bullets, performs backflips around statistical cannonballs, and waltzes right through ground-leveling factual nuclear bombs. Much like an Olympic diver, it’s an idea that easily slices, clean and quiet, into the crevices of supple brains.
And once it’s settled in, it’s hard to pry it out. Like a poorly stabbed and strong-limbed B-movie villain, it refuses to die. This is, in part, because it’s an idea with a long, storied provenance, dating back more than 40 years. It has been a central feature of American feminism for nearly as long: “Feminism,” as legal theorist Catherine MacKinnon wrote in a 1988 book, is “built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men.”
But the enduring power of the rape-culture concept comes from another source as well. It addresses, albeit in a scrambled and unjust fashion, a deep problem in contemporary American life—a huge cultural resistance to the fact that sex is a profoundly serious business.
But keep reading, heh.
And extremely sad.
At LAT, "Woman dies after falling from San Bernardino County Fair attraction."
KEY MOMENT: The Angels had already hit four solo homers against Tigers starter Shane Greene — including back-to-back, second-inning shots by Matt Joyce and Carlos Perez — when Albert Pujols came to the plate later in second with two outs and two runners on. Pujols blasted a homer to left field to give the Angels a 7-1 lead.The was freakin' sweet!
And at ESPN, "5/30/15: Five home runs help Angels beat Tigers, 8-6."
Ann Coulter has another best-selling book coming out, provocatively titled Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole. One major target of Coulter barbs is our “objective” media.Here's the link to Coulter's new book, Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.
Lord knows Coulter understands they deserve the hectoring. News reports are slavishly sensitive to the Latino Left’s political correctness. Start with the terminology. The factual term “illegal immigrants” is somehow an extremely mean-spirited description, even though that’s 100 percent accurate. They claim to prefer less loaded lingo. Like “Dreamers.”
Coulter took exception to a New York Times story from last November reporting that a Mexican-themed restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado called “Illegal Pete’s” was hounded by leftists to change the name, even though it was named for the Anglo business owner’s father.
A group calling itself “Race Forward” bizarrely claimed in the Times that “illegal immigrant” is “a tactical term promoted by anti-immigration groups starting in the mid-2000s. The epithet, the group said, is dehumanizing, but quickly moved into the mainstream.”
This is preposterous. Coulter reported a quick search of Nexis found 3,000 uses of the term “illegal immigrant” in The New York Times alone before the year 1990. It’s like pretending the term “Hispanic” emerged in news accounts in 2005.
Then there’s the loaded media polls. A November 2014 NBC-Wall Street Journal poll used this typical lingo: “If a proposed pathway to citizenship allowed foreigners staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens if they pay a fine, any back taxes, pass a security background check, and take other required steps,” would you favor it?
With all those conditions, 74 percent said yes. But Coulter points out that these kind of provisions for back taxes or background checks have been summarily eviscerated by government agencies in past “reform” laws, like the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill signed by Ronald Reagan...
From David Leonhardt:
Much more. https://t.co/r1JmtdckIe— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) May 31, 2015
Saturday, May 30, 2015
At WSJ, "Wider admissions from overseas leave schools vulnerable to fraud, experts say":
As U.S. universities search farther afield for international students, they are boosting not just their cash flow and their campus diversity, but also the likelihood of admissions fraud, experts say.More.
On Thursday, a U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh announced indictments against 15 Chinese nationals on charges that they cheated on college-entrance exams by hiring impostors to take the tests for them. Several of the students ended up at schools across the U.S.
“This is a group of Chinese, but I believe the problem of protecting the integrity of [college admission tests] is bigger than that,” U.S. Attorney David Hickton said.
In recent years, fraud on college-entrance exams has also been uncovered in students from South Korea, as well as from several states in the U.S. More students from a greater number of countries are seeking admissions to American campuses, bringing recruiters into more rural areas where academic standards and test-taking security can be less stringent, said Michael Reilly, executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
“What we hear from schools is that when students arrive at college campuses from China, you see once they begin their studies an incongruity between their performance and what their portfolio suggested they should be able to do,” Mr. Reilly said.
In the 2013-14 academic year, the number of international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities rose 8% from a year earlier to nearly 900,000, according to the Institute of International Education. Leading that surge were 274,439 Chinese students, an increase of nearly 17% from the year before.
While earlier students from China were largely the cream of the crop, more of these recent arrivals are struggling with academics, Mr. Reilly said.
China’s colleges rely almost exclusively on results from the national college entrance exam, known as the gaokao, in their admission decisions. As a result of that singular focus on test scores at domestic institutions, Chinese students put extra emphasis on their exam performances when applying to U.S. schools, said Marc Zawel, co-founder and chief executive of AcceptU, a Boston-based admission-consulting firm that works extensively with international students.
“They see the gaokao as essentially deciding where they’re going to go, and they see the SAT or ACT doing the same,” he said. Mr. Zawel said some U.S. schools struggle to validate high-school transcripts from overseas students, and so rely on standardized scores with the assumption that they are more authentic or reflective of a student’s abilities.
Schools have begun to shift their international admissions strategies in an acknowledgment that the tests can be gamed. Mr. Zawel said some of his clients now must participate in interviews with schools to prove their mastery of the English language, even if they scored well on the Educational Testing Service-administered Test of English as a Foreign Language, or Toefl. A high score could indicate comprehensive test preparation rather than actual fluency.
Mr. Zawel said most applicants want to follow the rules, though his team sometimes loses prospective clients after explaining that they won’t write essays or forge recommendation letters on applicants’ behalf—both of which he said are common services among Chinese admission consultants.
“China is the wild west of admission counseling,” he said. “Many agencies advise students in ways that cross a line.”
At the Los Angeles Times, "Beau Biden, son of vice president, dies at 46":
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Beau Biden. Requiescat in Pace cc @vp— #JeSuisJuive (@lamblock) May 31, 2015
Joseph “Beau” Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden and a promising young figure in Democratic Party politics, died Saturday of brain cancer at Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington, his father said. He was 46.More.
“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” the vice president said in a statement. “We know that Beau's spirit will live on in all of us.”
President Obama issued a statement saying, “Michelle and I are grieving tonight. Beau Biden was a friend of ours.”
Earlier this month, the vice president's office said Beau Biden — who was considered a leading contender in next year's governor's election in Delaware — was undergoing treatment for an undisclosed condition.
Beau Biden was elected Delaware's attorney general in 2006. During his time in office he helped launch the state's Child Predator Task Force that targeted child molesters. He also pushed initiatives aimed at domestic violence and juvenile crime, and he established programs to help financially stressed homeowners keep their homes.
The vice president, in his statement, said his son “fought for the powerless and made it his mission to protect children from abuse.”
Beau Biden campaigned for his father's vice presidential campaign in 2008 and paid tribute to him in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
After his father's election as vice president, some speculated that Beau Biden might be appointed to replace him in the Senate. But he insisted that he wanted to continue as attorney general and focus on a major case his office was pursuing. The Senate appointment ultimately went to Ted Kaufman, a longtime aide to Joe Biden. Though the elder Biden relished the idea of his son following him in the Senate, he had also warmed to the idea of Beau in executive office...
Also at Memeorandum.
It's never about just basic truth with the homosexual left. It's gotta be some bizarre, deranged cooked-up lie designed to eradicate the existing "heteronormative" hierarchies of "homophobic" society.
In other words, the left has to deep-six fundamental decency to ram down its butt-banging agenda.
At Breitbart, "FEMINIST GREER ATTACKS ELTON JOHN FOR ‘DECONSTRUCTING MOTHERHOOD’":
And see Rush Limbaugh, "Militant Feminists Hate Motherhood -- Except When a Man Tries to Take It Over."
Speaking at the Hay Literary Festival, Greer accused the men of “deconstructing motherhood”, criticising them for the fact that Furnish was listed as mother on their children’s birth certificates.
“Sometimes I think that really the problem is the concept of motherhood, which we can’t give any real structure to,” she said.
“Sir Elton John and his ‘wife’ David Furnish have entered on the birth certificate of their two sons that David Furnish is the mother. I’m sorry. That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has emptied out. It’s gone, it’s been deconstructed.”
The Express says the couple’s children were born with the help of IVF treatment and share the same surrogate mother, who John and Furnish claim they “love like a sister”.
However, Greer, who wrote The Female Eunuch, also criticised IVF: “We now have a ‘genetic’ mother, who supplies eggs.
“It depends entirely on where she is if she is going to be allowed to know what happens to the eggs. And women tend to care. An egg is not a sperm, we do not produce 400 million of them in one go. One miserable little egg pops every month.
“Then they give you follicle stimulating hormones and you have seventeen or something [eggs] and they give you cut price IVF and distribute the rest of your eggs where they see fit. In some places you are allowed to know what happens to them, in other places you are not.”
She added: “What you get is a reduced bill for IVF because a child is being born by the people involved using your eggs.
“I’m sorry. Did we talk about this? Did we sit down and talk about what eggs mean to women?”
Elton John has not yet responded to Greer’s comments, but he got into a war of words with gay Italian fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana earlier this year after they called John’s children “synthetic”.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Michael LaCour, 'Gay Canvassers' Fabulist, Responds to Attacks on Retracted Homosexual Marriage Study
Michael LaCour, the embattled UCLA political science graduate student, has released his long-awaited response to the incendiary controversy surrounding his retracted research paper, published at Science, "When Contact Changes Minds: An Experiment on Transmission of Support for Gay Equality."
If you're now just getting up to speed on this, see my previous entries, "'In a couple weeks I'm betting there's going to have to be a shakeup at UCLA...'," and "The Journal Science Retracts Homosexual Marriage Paper After Lead Author Accused of Falsifying Data."
LaCour's response is here, "Response to Irregularities in LaCour and Green (2014)." Also at Political Science Rumors, "Michael J. LaCour - Response to Irregularities in LaCour and Green (pdf)."
As I continue to learn more about this controversy, I'm increasingly convinced of one thing: LaCour needs to own up to his responsibility, tell the truth, and move on while he still has a (sliver of a) chance to salvage his life.
His main argument at the response is that the research data was sound, but that his methods were flawed. One problem, however, is that no one can review his data, because he deleted the entire data set that was the basis for the study. LaCour claims that he was required to delete his data in order to protect the privacy rights of the survey participants, and that he was required to do so by UCLA's North General Institutional Review Board (NGIRB) of the university's Office of the Human Research Protection Program (here and here). But the NGIRB indicates that LaCour conducted all of his research prior to ever contacting the Review Board, and thus without official pre-clearance, LaCour "was in violation of University policy." Also noted by the Review Board:
The NGIRB notes that your paper in the December 12, 2014 edition of Science indicated that the research had UCLA approval. The NGIRB recommends that you notify Science that the research was not reviewed by the UCLA IRB. [Bold in the original.]LaCour wasn't required of anything by the NGIRB, because the university washed its hands of the matter. They cut the dude loose. Threw him under the bus. Whatever you wanna call it. His claim that he had to delete his files is belied by the facts.
In any case, LaCour's critics David Broockman, Josh Kalla, and Peter Aronow stand by their original rebuttal of the study, and they've rejected LaCour's attempt to respond to the allegations:
The New York Times has more, "Study Using Gay Canvassers Erred in Methods, Not Results, Author Says":
Need to repeat again, LaCour claiming he deleted data at IRB behest while posting letter showing study not approved! https://t.co/kVYT0rjTL8— femonomics (@femonomics) May 30, 2015
Seriously, I'm done with this story until I know a survey firm that admits to doing the interviewing and someone who admits to paying for it— Jonathan Ladd (@jonmladd) May 30, 2015
"Mr. LaCour said he lied about the funding of his study to give it more credibility." http://t.co/xQnwGq1i8u— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) May 30, 2015
This is just sad - lies upon lies at this point from LaCour. How much longer until UCLA strips his PhD? http://t.co/Hpy0dNbuTB— Edward Miguel (@tedmiguel) May 30, 2015
The graduate student at the center of a scandal over a newly retracted study that has shaken trust in the conduct of social science apologized for lying about aspects of the study, including who paid for it and its methodology, but he said Friday in his first interview that he stands by its finding that gay canvassers can influence voters’ attitudes on same-sex marriage.More.
The student, Michael J. LaCour, a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the attack on his study — which was retracted Thursday by the journal Science — amounted to an academic ambush. “It’s completely unprecedented in the way it was done,” he said, referring to an account of the case posted by two colleagues last week, questioning his work. “They never contacted me directly, there was no transparency, and as a grad student I don’t have the same protection as a professor.”
Mr. LaCour disputes one of the main charges against him: that he improperly erased his raw data. That was one of the charges that led his co-author, Donald P. Green, a widely respected political scientist at Columbia University, to ask the journal to retract the study last week. The destruction of the data was not improper, he said, but in fact was required by U.C.L.A.’s institutional guidelines to protect study participants.
“At the end of the day, I was the one responsible for the raw data, and if something were to happen and reporters tracked people down, that’s a lawsuit,” he said.
But a researcher familiar with U.C.L.A. guidelines, but who declined to identified by name because of the continuing investigation of the case at the university, said the language in the guidelines requires only that researchers erase “unique identifiers” and not the entire data set.
Mr. LaCour said he lied about the funding of his study to give it more credibility. He said that some of his colleagues had doubted his work because they thought he did not have enough money to pay for a such a complex study, among them David Broockman, a political scientist at Stanford and one of the authors of a critique of his work published last week. Mr. LaCour said he thought the funding sources he claimed would shore up the plausibility of the work. “I messed up in that sense, and it could be my downfall,” he said.
Three funding sources that Mr. LaCour listed as providing support for his published paper denied on Thursday that they had done so. The Ford Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. said they had not given Mr. LaCour any money. But the Haas Jr. Fund had provided money to the group that Mr. LaCour was working with, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the graduate student had applied for and received a grant from the Williams Institute, but it came too late to help with the study, he said.
“The Ford Foundation grant did not exist,” Mr. LaCour wrote in a public timeline posted late on Friday.
One of the most damning facts in the critical review of Mr. LaCour’s work was that the survey company he told the Los Angeles LGBT Center he was working with did not have any knowledge of his project. He now says that, in fact, he did not end up using that survey company but another one.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Green of Columbia said he had asked Mr. LaCour repeatedly to store his raw data in a databank at the University of Michigan. Asked about that, Mr. LaCour said he had not been sure whether Dr. Green was referring to the analyzed, “clean” data, or the raw material, which included names, addresses and phone numbers. “Again, I was under strict guidelines to protect identities, and it’s not that commonplace to ask for that data,” he said.
I suspect the lawsuits LaCour alludes to are far from a distant possibility. Indeed, as you can see from the embedded tweets above, it looks like the Los Angeles LGBT Center may be gearing up for litigation already.
Expect updates. Meanwhile ICYMI, from Maria Konnikova, at the New Yorker, "How a Gay-Marriage Study Went Wrong."
The local Islamists weren't please. At the Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Muslim leaders decry protest as anti-American."
Also at ABC-15 Phoenix:
Vavreck is a professor of political science and communication studies at UCLA, and most notoriously, she's the dissertation adviser to disgraced UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, the homosexual marriage researcher who fabricated data to claim that face-to-face communications ("canvassing") by gay activists can change the opinions of opponents of homosexual marriage. Lacour and Donald Philip Green's Science article based on this research has been retracted. My earlier post is here, "The Journal Science Retracts Homosexual Marriage Paper After Lead Author Accused of Falsifying Data."
Yes, this is getting to be a massive scandal, and I'm interested to see what shakes out at UCLA. Word is that LaCour's the ultimate conman, obviously since (major scholar) Donald Philip Green at Columbia was so easily hoodwinked by this bogus research. And despite the harsh slams against Vavreck at Political Science Rumors, she's written letters of recommendation for applicants to job positions in my department at LBCC, and I can't remember anyone who's written more comprehensive and effective recommendations. She's not lazy, that's for sure.
In any case, I think she should face discipline for her lapses as an adviser, particularly in that she's brought enormous shame to her department and UCLA as a whole.
Meanwhile, LaCour was supposed to be out with a major "defense" of his research today, but there's been no word yet. No doubt it's taking him a lot longer than he expected to "gather" the evidence needed to make the case.
More from Jesse Singal, at New York Magazine (where I found the reference to Political Science Rumors), "The Case of the Amazing Gay-Marriage Data: How a Graduate Student Reluctantly Uncovered a Huge Scientific Fraud":
How to get published: Fake your research to make people look better than they are. http://t.co/uPPymJLPZ2— Tim Beidel (@tjb1013) May 29, 2015
Last week, [David] Broockman, along with his friend and fellow UC Berkeley graduate student Josh Kalla and Yale University political scientist Peter Aronow, released an explosive 27-page report recounting many “irregularities” in LaCour and Green’s paper. “Irregularities” is diplomatic phrasing; what the trio found was that there’s no evidence LaCour ever actually collaborated with uSamp, the survey firm he claimed to have worked with to produce his data, and that he most likely didn’t commission any surveys whatsoever. Instead, he took a pre-existing dataset, pawned it off as his own, and faked the persuasion “effects” of the canvassing. It’s the sort of brazen data fraud you just don’t see that often, especially in a journal like Science. Green quickly fired off an email to the journal asking for a retraction; Science granted that wish yesterday, albeit without LaCour’s consent. And while there’s no word out of central New Jersey just yet, there’s a good chance, once the legal dust settles, that Princeton University will figure out a way to rescind the job offer it extended to LaCour, who was supposed to start in July. (Princeton offered no comment other than an emailed statement: “We will review all available information and determine the next steps.”) LaCour, for his part, has lawyered up and isn’t talking to the media, although he was caught attempting to cover up faked elements of his curriculum vitae earlier this week. His website claims that he will “supply a definitive response” by the end of the day today.It's a long piece, as you can tell, loaded with all kinds of interesting hyperlinks, so read the whole thing.
But even before Broockman, Kalla, and Aronow published their report, LaCour’s results were so impressive that, on their face, they didn’t make sense. Jon Krosnick, a Stanford social psychologist who focuses on attitude change and also works on issues of scientific transparency, says that he hadn’t heard about the study until he was contacted by a This American Life producer who described the results to him over the phone. “Gee,” he replied, “that's very surprising and doesn't fit with a huge literature of evidence. It doesn't sound plausible to me.” A few clicks later, Krosnick had pulled up the paper on his computer. “Ah,” he told the producer, “I see Don Green is an author. I trust him completely, so I'm no longer doubtful.” (Some people I spoke to about this case argued that Green, whose name is, after all, on the paper, had failed in his supervisory role. I emailed him to ask whether he thought this was a fair assessment. “Entirely fair,” he responded. “I am deeply embarrassed that I did not suspect and discover the fabrication of the survey data and grateful to the team of researchers who brought it to my attention.” He declined to comment further for this story.)
The first thing Broockman did, back in December of 2013, was get frustrated at his inability to run a survey like LaCour’s. On the 9th, Broockman decided to call uSamp (since renamed). This was when the first of those near-misses occurred — a year and a half later, a similar conversation would help bust the entire scandal wide open. But the first time he called uSamp, Broockman trod carefully, because he thought LaCour was still working with the company. “As far as I’m concerned, he still has an ongoing relationship with this company, and is still gathering data with them,” he explains, “and I didn’t want to upset the apple cart of whatever, and so I don’t recall in any way mentioning him. I just said, ‘I’ve heard you can do this kind of work. Can you do this kind of work for me?’”
The salesperson he spoke with, Broockman explains, said that they weren’t sure the firm could complete this kind of survey, but seemed under-informed and slightly incompetent. “And so I just kind of gave up, because I wasn’t on a witch hunt,” says Broockman. “I was just trying to get a study done.” Had Broockman mentioned LaCour by name or pressed for more details, he would realize later, LaCour’s lack of any real connection to the company might have revealed itself right away.
Things didn’t get any easier when Broockman sent his RFP out to dozens of other survey companies the next day. “We are seeking quotes for a large study we are planning that will necessitate enrolling approximately 10,000 new individuals in a custom internet or phone panel,” it started. The responses indicated that these companies had very little ability to pull off a study on the scale of LaCour’s. Broockman says he “found that pretty weird, because apparently uSamp had managed this in like a day.” “Some small part of my head thought, ‘I wonder if it was fake,’” says Broockman. “But most of me thought, ‘I guess I'll have to wait until Mike is willing to reveal what the magic was.’”
Broockman would also have to wait since, like most academics, he was constantly juggling a thousand different projects. During most of 2014, he was working on the question of how constituents react to communication from their lawmakers, a critique of a prominent statistical method, and research into how polarization affects political representation. As an undergrad, Broockman had done some work with Joshua Kalla, a Pittsburgh native who was a couple years below him — Kalla had been a research assistant on a study about housing discrimination Broockman worked on with Green. As Kalla started looking at grad schools, Broockman aggressively lobbied him to come out West.
These efforts were successful, and once Kalla arrived on campus in the fall of 2014, Broockman’s approach to the LaCour research changed: Now, he thought, he had the teammate he needed to finally build on LaCour’s promising canvassing work. Broockman and Kalla have a strong natural chemistry as research partners. In one class at Berkeley, Kalla, who is straight, highlighted the many similarities between himself and Broockman, who is gay, with a nerdy statistics joke about “matching” — the idea of finding two very similar people in a data set to test what effects emerge when you apply a treatment to one but not the other. “If you exact match,” Kalla said, “you could use me and David to figure out the causal effects of being gay.” Canvassing was a natural subject for two young researchers interested in the dynamics of persuasion. “It turns out that even if you’re not interested in canvassing per se, canvassing is a great medium through which to test other theories of how to persuade people,” Broockman says. Whereas traditional experiments involving opinion change tend to entail certain methodological difficulties — are the anonymous survey-takers really paying attention to the questions? Is the sleepy undergrad actually listening to the prompt you’re reading them? — with canvassing, you can say with relative confidence that the subject of the experiment is actively engaging with whatever argument you’re testing.
The 2014 election also helped focus Broockman and Kalla’s research agenda. They were convinced canvassing worked — at least to a point — and that politicians weren’t capitalizing on this fact nearly enough. After the election, they co-authored a a November 2014 piece in Vox arguing as much. The pair wrote that “research has consistently found that authentic interpersonal exchanges usually have sizable impacts,” linking to a positive pre-election Bloomberg Politics cover story about LaCour and Green’s research.
“When we wrote that piece, all of a sudden we received a ton of inbound interest in doing more studies, both because people were persuaded by our point and because we kind of planted a flag in this,” says Broockman. “And so practitioners who were interested in this decided to come talk to us about it.” It was clearly a good time to hone in on canvassing. “That was the perfect storm for Now the time for this idea has come.”
This was also around the time Broockman first got hold of LaCour’s raw data (he’d read the Science paper when it was under review in late 2014). Certain irregularities quickly jumped out at him: The data was, in short, a bit too orderly given that it came from a big survey sample. In itself this didn’t constitute definitive proof that anything was amiss, but it definitely warranted further investigation. Whatever the excitement-suspicion ratio regarding LaCour’s findings had been in Broockman’s mind previously — maybe 90/10 when he first heard about the experiment — it was now closer to 50/50.
Broockman wasn’t sure what to do. He started to bring up his concerns with other friends and advisers (about a dozen of them), and they mostly told him one of two things: Either there was a reasonable explanation for the anomalies, in which case bringing attention to them would risk harming Green and especially the less established LaCour unnecessarily; or something really was fishy, in which case it still wouldn’t be in Broockman’s interest to risk being seen as challenging LaCour’s work. There was almost no encouragement for him to probe the hints of weirdness he’d uncovered. In fact, he quickly found himself nervous about openly discussing his reservations at all. “How much I said depended on how much I trust the person I was talking to and how inebriated I was at the time I had the conversation,” he explains.
On December 17, 2014, Broockman found himself a bit tipsy with someone he trusted: Neil Malhotra, a professor at Stanford’s business school. Broockman had just been offered a job there, and the two were dining at Oak and Rye, a pizza place in Los Gatos, partly so that Broockman could ask Malhotra for advice about the transition from grad school to the professional academic world. A few drinks in, Broockman shared his concerns about LaCour’s data. Malhotra recalled his response: “As someone in your early career stage, you don’t want to do this,” he told Broockman. “You don’t want to go public with this. Even if you have uncontroversial proof, you still shouldn’t do it. Because there’s just not much reward to someone doing this.” If Broockman thought there was wrongdoing behind the irregularities he’d discovered, Malhotra said, it would be a better bet for him to pass his concerns on to someone like Uri Simonsohn, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who already had established an identity as a debunker (eventually, Simonsohn gave Broockman some feedback on the data, but the exchange didn’t lead to any definitive findings).
This might seem like a strange, mafia-ish argument to a non-academic, but within the small world of political science — particularly within the even smaller world of younger, less job-secure political scientists — it makes sense for at least two reasons. The first is that the moment your name is associated with the questioning of someone else’s work, you could be in trouble. If the target is someone above you, like Green, you’re seen as envious, as shamelessly trying to take down a big name. If the target is someone at your level, you’re throwing elbows in an unseemly manner. In either case, you may end up having one of your papers reviewed by the target of your inquiries (or one of their friends) at some point — in theory, peer reviewers are “blinded” to the identity of the author or authors of a paper they’re reviewing, but between earlier versions of papers floating around the internet and the fact that everyone knows what everyone else is working on, the reality is quite different. Moreover, the very few plum jobs and big grants don’t go to people who investigate other researchers’ work — they go to those who stake out their own research areas.
So Broockman decided he needed a way to get feedback on his suspicions without leaving a trace. He’d recently learned about a strange anonymous message board called poliscirumors.com, or PSR. “I believe I first learned about the board when I received a Google Alert with a page that had my last name on it, which proposed marriage to me,” he says. “So naturally that was a link that I clicked.”
Three different people independently described PSR to me as a “cesspool.” No one knows exactly who the site’s primary denizens are, because hardly anyone will admit to perusing it, but it seems to skew young — mostly political-science grad students and untenured professors. While the ostensible purpose of PSR is to provide information about job openings, posts on it have a tendency to devolve into attacks, rumor-mongering, and bitterness fueled by an apocalyptic academic job market. “It is essentially the 4chan of political science,” a political-science researcher told me via email.
It’s not, in short, necessarily the place where one goes for levelheaded debate about the results of statistical analysis...
Still more at the New York Times:
Funding for Retracted Science Study Was Misrepresented: In his published study about canvassers changing peopl... http://t.co/BI6X2LlrSY— Maxy Sharma (@MaxySharma9) May 29, 2015
At London's Daily Mail, "They could be sisters! As Demi Moore and Rumer Willis post age-defying 'twinning' photo, the other famous mothers and daughters who look alike revealed."
The Silk Road saga is way more than a crime story http://t.co/XTJFMHQHpl— WIRED (@WIRED) May 29, 2015
ROSS ULBRICHT CONCEIVED of his Silk Road black market as an online utopia beyond law enforcement’s reach. Now he’ll spend the rest of his life firmly in its grasp, locked inside a federal penitentiary.Also at Ars Technica, "Sunk: How Ross Ulbricht ended up in prison for life — Inside the trial that brought down a darknet pirate."
On Friday Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in creating and running Silk Road’s billion-dollar, anonymous black market for drugs. Judge Katherine Forrest gave Ulbricht the most severe sentence possible, beyond what even the prosecution had explicitly requested. The minimum Ulbricht could have served was 20 years.
“The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts,” she told Ulbricht as she read the sentence, referring to his pseudonym as the Silk Road’s leader. “Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.”
In addition to his prison sentence, Ulbricht was also ordered to pay a massive restitution of more than $183 million, what the prosecution had estimated to be the total sales of illegal drugs and counterfeit IDs through the Silk Road—at a certain bitcoin exchange rate—over the course of its time online...
At the Daily Beast:
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Lying and bullying to push homosexual marriage has never been a problem for the left. But turns out making political science look bad is bad. What folks mustn't forget is that this scandal reflects even more harshly on the homosexual rights movement. Here's one instance where radical leftist fraud ain't getting a pass. Too much is at stake for political scientists and their media shills to let it go. Perhaps leftists see homosexual marriage as a sure thing now, in any case, and are willing to throw this dude Michael LaCour under the bus. Either way, homosexual marriage politics is getting to be like "climate change": it's a scam in which leftists hoodwink the people only to see a rational backlash in public opinion reverse the left's purported gains. It's going to be a major setback if the Supreme Court rules against the depraved leftists in Obergefell v. Hodges next month.
Either way, all traces of LaCour, a grad student at UCLA, have been removed from the Political Science Department's homepage, and the journal Science has formally retracted the research.
The Los Angeles Times has a great report, "Gay marriage canvassing success detailed, dashed as study's findings are doubted":
I am embarrassed (seriously) at how excited I am to see LaCour's "defense" tomorrow. Does this mean I'm a bad person?— Michael Munger (@mungowitz) May 29, 2015
Also at BuzzFeed, "UCLA Student at Center of Science Scandal Apparently Faked Another Study, About Media Bias," and at New York Magazine, "Michael LaCour Made Up a Teaching Award, Too."
Laura Gardiner knew she was making a difference with her work.
As national mentoring coordinator at the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Leadership Lab, she and her colleagues had toiled to train 1,000 volunteers who had fanned out across Los Angeles and beyond, lobbying voters in precincts that had cast ballots against gay rights.
The idea was to push back against prejudice, house by house — and over the years, the group's internal evaluations indicated, the Leadership Lab had gotten quite good at changing voter minds.
When an independent study published in the prestigious journal Science confirmed the group's success, Gardiner had been thrilled.
Then, last week, a report was issued raising significant doubts about the study's validity.
“It felt like being cheated on in a relationship,” she said Thursday after the journal issued a formal retraction. “Breakup songs have been cathartic this week.”
The study had excited readers well beyond Gardiner's circle for its surprising conclusion that a single doorstep chat could prompt a skeptic to embrace marriage equality. It even reported a “spillover” effect that extended to household members who didn't talk to canvassers.
Although the findings contradicted a body of research that said firmly held opinions weren't easily swayed by lobbying and political advertising, they seemed to confirm an idea people were happy to embrace — that honest conversation and open minds could bring people together.
The study made headlines across the country and was featured on the public radio program “This American Life.” Its primary author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, scored a job offer from Princeton University.
As LaCour prepared to decamp for New Jersey, he handed off the study to a team at Stanford and UC Berkeley.
That's how things began to unravel.
The new researchers were the first to suspect that something wasn't quite right with LaCour's data. They produced a report that persuaded LaCour's coauthor, Columbia University political scientist Donald Green, to request a retraction last week.
The editors of Science agreed, citing three reasons for retracting the study. They said LaCour lied about the way he recruited participants for his study and did not pay volunteers to complete online surveys, as he had claimed. They also said he lied about receiving research funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. LaCour's attorney has acknowledged both of these deceptions.
Perhaps most significantly, the editors said, “LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.”
LaCour still maintains that his study is sound. He said he has been preparing a “definitive response” to his critics, which he plans to provide Friday.
“I appreciate your patience, as I gather evidence and relevant information,” he said Thursday in an email to The Times....
The study results purported to show that after speaking with canvassers, people were more inclined to support same-sex marriage, an increase from 39% to 47%. One year later, support for gay marriage was 14 percentage points higher among people who were lobbied by a gay person and 3 percentage points higher among those who were canvassed by a straight person, the study said.
With LaCour wrapping things up at UCLA, the LGBT Center brought on David Broockman, a professor of political economy at Stanford, and Joshua Kalla, a political science graduate student at UC Berkeley, to carry on the research.
But as they made plans to track a forthcoming canvassing project the Leadership Lab is undertaking in Miami, they started noticing problems with the work. For instance, as they began their own pilot survey, they noticed that their response rate was “notably lower” than LaCour's.
When they sought additional advice from the survey firm that LaCour had reportedly employed, they quickly realized something was amiss.
“The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for,” the researchers wrote. “The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described.”
Alarmed, Broockman and Kalla turned a skeptical eye toward LaCour's data and began investigating further with the help of Yale political scientist Peter Aronow. They soon realized that some of the paper's key data were identical to that of a different national survey conducted in 2012: the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project. That discovery raised “suspicions that the data might have been lifted from CCAP,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers compiled their findings in a 26-page report and sent it to Green. When confronted with the findings, Green immediately sent a letter to Science requesting that the paper be retracted.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green wrote.
Still more at the New Republic, "Science Fiction: Michael LaCour's Gay Rights Canvassing Hoax Shows the Limits of Peer Review."
And see Tim Groseclose especially, at Richochet, "A Scandal in Political Science":
I predict that UCLA will refuse to award him a PhD, and I predict that Princeton will retract the assistant professorship that it offered him. I predict that UCLA or Princeton or both will conduct an investigation. I suspect that they will find that LaCour faked results in a few papers, not just one.Also noteworthy is that co-author Donald Philip Green, a major political science scholar and professor at Columbia University, cut ties with LaCour so fast it's like you don't know what hit you. And Professor Lynn Vavreck of UCLA, who is LaCour's dissertation chair, has also thrown the dude under the bus faster than you can say the "science is settled."
Expect updates tomorrow when this flaming fraud LaCour comes clean on his deceit.
Here, "What is a Ramadi?":
Recent national news reveals that ISIS has recaptured Ramadi in Iraq. I assume that we’re expected to ignore the loss of Ramadi to ISIS. Our lead-from-behind coward-in-chief has been strangely quiet on the subject. While he seldom misses the chance to run his mouth on any subject that suits his agenda, apparently he’s having trouble discussing a situation which has become a complete debacle and for which he alone is responsible.And here's the apology at the Daily Item, "Today's Editorial: We bungled the Obama attack letter." (At Memeorandum.)
After all — we’re supposed to be friends with our enemies. By all means — expedite withdrawal of U.S. forces, contrary to the advice of those military commanders who cautioned against withdrawal. But their advice was ignored and many were purged because they refused to follow someone so grossly incompetent in the politics and practice of warfare.
So now we’re learning the results of spending billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of American lives that were expended in the initial capture of Ramadi. Our esteemed leader proclaimed that we should withdraw because the Iraqis were offended by the presence of American troops in their country. So we bailed out — leaving behind billions of dollars of equipment and ammunition, which was promptly captured by ISIS. Yes, this is the same highly skilled organization that our misguided leader called the JV team.
Hey Barack, would you care to address the nation and expound on your grandiose plans for defeating this JV team which is whipping you soundly?
The saddest part of this situation is the realization that the American blood lost in the initial capture of Ramadi was apparently lost in vain, due solely to the gross incompetence of our commander-in-chief.
To the families of those fallen heroes whose blood lies on the sands of Iraq; don’t you think it might be time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence?
I think the appropriate, and politically correct, term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging.
I have absolutely no reason to expect that current practice should be any different. The end result is elimination of the problem, the method is superfluous. When society dictates, the end always justifies the means, otherwise the action would not be taken.
W. Richard Stover
Also, "Reader response: EDITOR'S NOTE: The Daily Item received more than 100 Letters to the Editor in response to a Monday Letter to the Editor. Here is a sampling of the letters received from around the nation."
More at Politico, "Pa. newspaper: Sorry we published letter calling for Obama's execution." (At Memeorandum.)
Actually, it's a great letter. Obama is putting the nation at risk --- and indeed, countries in crisis do indeed implement regime change and the "elimination of the problem." Revolutionary times call for methods commensurate to the scale of leftist treason. But we're a democracy. We solve problems through the rule of law. Still, you'd think Democrats would themselves better adhere to the Constitution, lest they bring about the kind of extra-constitutional means the letter writer so desires.
It's an updated version of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself.
So many of the predictions in the earlier version were coming true the revised edition warranted a whole new title. The preface to the new volume lays out the dynamics quite well. A quick and concise read --- and very enjoyable.
Plus, Father's Day - Gifts in Kitchen & Dining.
I'll have more blogging tonight and through the weekend.
At Telegraph UK, "Islamic State launches wave of suicide attacks on Iraqi troops":
More than 17 troops killed in co-ordinate attack as army tries to retake key city.More.
Islamic State jihadists have unleashed a wave of suicide attacks targeting pro-government troops in western Anbar, a day after Baghdad launched a new offensive to drive them from the province.
Up to 17 soldiers were killed in the explosions that took place outside of Fallujah, a town controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant inside the Sunni heartland Anbar.
Brigadier General Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command said on Wednesday that the militants had struck near a water control station and a lock system on a canal between Lake Tharthar and the Euphrates River.
The troops had been deployed there as part of a new push to try to take Anbar, after the Iraqi army suffered its biggest military defeat there this year in the loss of Ramadi city earlier this month.
Brig Gen Ibrahim added that the Islamic State extremists used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq on Tuesday night to launch the deadly wave of bombings.
He said it was not clear how many suicide attackers were involved in the bombings but they hit the military from multiple directions.
The attacks took place just hours after the ministry of defence announced the new mission.
Also at France 24, "Iraqi forces push to surround IS-held Ramadi - IRAQ." And at CBN News, "Wave of ISIS Bombings Leaves 17 Iraq Troops Dead."
They were going to call their site "The Democrat Agenda," but ... http://t.co/nK379Kfyks— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) May 27, 2015
In the ecstatic throes of passion, the atheist lesbian feminist shouts, "Oh, Science!" http://t.co/8jMy7zAcR3— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) May 27, 2015
No, this is NOT an Onion parody. http://t.co/8jMy7zAcR3— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) May 27, 2015
And buy Robert's book, Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature.Indeed, I take pride in my ability to find high-intensity lunatic feminism. http://t.co/qli7NPj67R @Mekbeth8— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) May 27, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Also at Bloviating Zeppelin, "Baltimore black-on-black murders since Gray: where are the riots?"
And see USA Today, "Baltimore, other cities see violent holiday weekend":
Violence surged in major U.S. cities over Memorial Day weekend, bringing new highs for homicides in Chicago and Baltimore after years of declining crime.Plus, more at Fox News, with Megyn Kelly and Dana Loesch, "White House Suggests More Gun Control Is the Answer to Spike In Violence - The Kelly File."
Nine murders and nearly 30 shootings over the weekend brought Baltimore's monthly homicide toll to its highest point in more than 15 years, taxing a city and police department already pushed to its limits after rioting last month.
Baltimore logged a record 35 homicides as of Tuesday, the most in a single month since 1999. This year, the city has had 108 homicides.
"I've never seen anything like it," City Councilman William "Pete" Welch told The (Baltimore) Sun. "The shootings and killings are all over the city."
The Memorial Day weekend was also a bloody one in Chicago, where at least 12 people were killed and 44 were wounded in gun violence from Friday night to Tuesday morning. The rash of violence continues a trend of killings and shootings that began this year after the city recorded the fewest homicides in decades last year.
The weekend's wounded include Jacele Johnson, 4, shot in the head Friday evening as she sat in a car on the South Side with a 17-year-old cousin, who was shot in the chest. On the city's West Side, a 17-year-old boy was shot in the back and the leg.
About two hours earlier, a 19-year-old man was gunned down two blocks from Chicago Police Headquarters, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Even before this weekend's incidents, murders were up 17% and non-fatal shootings had jumped 24% from the same time last year, according to Chicago Police Department statistics. The city has recorded 133 homicides this year as of May 17 compared with 114 at the same time last year. There have been 693 shootings this year compared with 560 at the same time last year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who won re-election in April, touted the strides Chicago has made under his watch in reducing the number of homicides. The nation's third-largest city had 407 murders last year, the city's fewest in five decades.
After seeing crime drop sharply in the first half of 2014, St. Louis saw a steep rise in violence in several neighborhoods as protests grew, following the shooting death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson by police officer Darren Wilson. By year's end, St. Louis logged 157 homicides, the city's highest yearly toll since 2008.
The problem has persisted this year as well: Homicides went up 6% for the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said he noted a decrease in police-initiated interactions with residents in the midst of the worst protests in the St. Louis area in the weeks after Brown's killing in August. Police also were less active in November after the St. Louis County prosecutor announced Wilson wouldn't face criminal charges.
In Baltimore, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts wrote a letter to community leaders Monday, acknowledging the disintegrating relationship between police and the community. He said the police would move "aggressively" to address the violence.
Baltimore, he wrote, is "in the midst of a challenging time. Following a period of civil unrest, we have been experiencing an increase of the pace of violent crime, most notably homicides and shootings."
Watch: "Bounce house with kids inside swept into the air by waterspout."
At LAT, "Obama immigration overhaul and 'Dreamers' handed another legal setback."
And at Politico, "Ruling puts Obama's immigration legacy in jeopardy":
Latest legal blow could put final decision close to the end of his presidency.
A series of setbacks and delays in the key legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration could irreparably damage his legacy on the issue, even if the Supreme Court ultimately upholds his authority to act.More.
The latest blow came Tuesday as a three-judge appeals court panel voted, 2-1, to deny the administration’s request to proceed with Obama’s plan to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions more illegal immigrants while litigation over those actions plays out.
Two and a half months after the Justice Department sought an emergency stay of a judge’s order blocking Obama’s moves, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals turned down the request.
If the administration can’t get the Supreme Court to act promptly to lift the injunction or chooses not to try, the White House could find Obama’s long-promised immigration actions on hold until the Supreme Court rules definitively on the legal questions at stake — a ruling that likely wouldn’t come until next June.
At the clip, Michelle Malkin destroys Obama administration lackey Mark Hannah.