Victim Advocates Worry That Journalism Based on Facts Could Hurt Their Movement

UVa Fraternity

Rolling Stone‘s Worrisome Discredited Rape Account

BALTIMORE — With the account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia debunked by police, advocates for sexual assault survivors are worried a movement that gained tremendous momentum in the past year could suffer a setback.

“The average American might say, ‘If she lied, they must all be lying so we shouldn’t pay attention to the issue at all,’ and there will be an immediate chilling effect.”

– Liz Seccuro, explaining her sincere belief that Americans, after encountering one debunked rape story, will no longer care about potential rape victims and decide to permanently stop paying attention to all rape allegations

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A Rolling Stone article about a student identified only as “Jackie” described an alleged rape on campus and a culture of binge-drinking and looking the other way when students filed sexual assault complaints. The story intensified the national conversation about rapes on college campuses and prompted changes at the university, but on Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said a months-long investigation turned up no evidence of a sexual assault, or any wrongdoing by the school.

“I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”

– Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, missing the ‘positive impact’ of honest, fact-based reporting, compared to the ‘negative impact’ of corrupt, dishonest, agenda-driven reporting by Rolling Stone

“One false report should not diminish the seriousness with which we take on the challenge of sexual assault on campus,” said Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative and an advocate for sexual assault survivors for more than two decades. “I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”

Police said Jackie refused to talk to them after the article was published in November. In the article, Jackie said she was gang-raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house two years earlier, and the school systematically mishandled sex assault complaints. Read the rest of this entry »


Reed Humanities Professor: ‘In light of the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel that I have no other choice’

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Apparently, feelings are more important than facts

Katherine Timpfpage_2014_200_timpf writes: A student at Reed College in Portland claims he was banned from class discussions mainly because he questioned a rape “statistic” — even though that “statistic” has been debunked — just because other students said they were uncomfortable.

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Nineteen-year-old Jeremiah True told BuzzFeed News that his Humanities 110 professor, Pancho Savery, had warned him that his views on campus sexual assault were bothering other students — before ultimately sending True an e-mail telling him he was forbidden from participating in the “conference” portion of the class at all.

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“Please know that this was a difficult decision for me to make and one that I have never made before; nevertheless, in light of the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel that I have no other choice,” the e-mail stated, according to BuzzFeed. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: In Wake of Scandal, Fraternity Members To Undergo Racial Sensitivity Hazing

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EVANSTON, IL—In the wake of a controversial video depicting two individuals in the fraternity’s University of Oklahoma chapter leading a racist chant, Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials instituted a new national policy Wednesday requiring all members to undergo mandatory racial sensitivity hazing.

“Effective immediately, pledges nationwide will engage in a hazing program designed to combat racially insensitive behavior by requiring them to pound a shot of pure grain alcohol for every one of their personal prejudices until they puke.”

Effective immediately, pledges nationwide will engage in a hazing program designed to combat racially insensitive behavior by requiring them to pound a shot of pure grain alcohol for every one of their personal prejudices until they puke, read a statement released by the organization, which also reveals that the undergraduates must participate in a frank group discussion regarding the hurtful effects of discrimination after being blindfolded, stripped naked, and forced to stand in the campus quad for an entire night.

“We take these infractions extremely seriously, and if our members fail to properly memorize and recite the major provisions of the Civil Rights Act while tied together in a dark closet, they will be urinated on by every senior fraternity member present.”

Make no mistake: We take these infractions extremely seriously, and if our members fail to properly memorize and recite the major provisions of the Civil Rights Act…(read more)

America’s Finest News Source


Vintage Movie Poster: ‘The Big Sleep

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What Is Rent-Seeking Behavior?

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Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole

David John Marotta writes: Voluntary trade benefits both sides. Unless both parties believe they will benefit from the exchange, they will not consent.

In most exchanges both parties can produce the item they are trading more efficiently than they can produce what they are receiving. Producing a surplus of one item provides each party something to trade for someone else’s surplus. Having more than your family needs opens the opportunity to trade the excess for profit.

“In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace.”

Unfortunately, when property rights are weakened and the ownership of someone’s wealth or goods is debatable, people can gain more by trying to appropriate that wealth than by producing themselves. This behavior is called rent-seeking.

Rent-seeking frequently requires spending your own resources so you own someone else’s surplus in the end. In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace. If property rights on the surplus the company seeks had been more stable, such roles for lobbyists would never have been created.

1943 June Workers leaving Pennsylvania shipyards Beaumont Texas LOC FSA OWI Photo Credit John Vachon

Rent-seeking doesn’t add any national value. It is coerced trade and benefits only one side. Rent-seeking can include piracy, lobbying the government or even just giving away money.

“Imagine a thriving sea trade in which ships carrying cargo receive a 20% profit on the value of the goods. Now imagine the first pirate who arms his boat with cannons and rent-seeks the profit. The pirates are not producing any value of their own but are spending their own resources to capture the surplus of the shipping trade.”

If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade. By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.

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The rent-seeking of pirates motivates merchants to spend their resources to prevent the theft. They sail with an armed escort. They pay privateers to capture the pirates. Even if these efforts cost 15%, they will still preserve a 5% profit. If the effort costs much more, however, shipping will simply cease. All of this expense could be avoided if incentives to be a rent-seeking pirate were somehow eliminated.

“If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade.”

When I (David John Marotta) was applying for college, I was told that hundreds of scholarships, many based on merit, were available. After hours of research I found very few for which I qualified. I found one scholarship for a student of Italian-American ancestry. It was worth $1,000 and required me to submit an essay. It took me three hours to write the essay. I was engaging in rent-seeking.

“By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.”

You might think that giving away money is free, but it is not. Even if you hold a random lottery, potential winners still need to take the time to enter. At my $5 hourly wage, my entry cost me $15. I learned later they received 450 entries. If my experience was typical, the rent-seeking cost of all the applicants was $6,750 just to win a $1,000 scholarship. If you add the time to judge the competition and send return letters, the waste gets even greater.

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“Rent-seeking never encourages productivity. The production of valuable goods and services is maximized with strong property rights when little is wasted in efforts to seize the surplus of others or to prevent others from seizing our surplus.”

During a strong economy there are fewer incentives for rent-seeking because production is highly rewarded. But when economic times make it more difficult to produce, it becomes more attractive to rent-seek someone else’s surplus.

This situation can create a downward spiral because the rewards of rent-seeking are often constant, whereas the surpluses available in a market economy are more variable. When the economy is poor, the burden of fixed rent-seeking costs on producers drives surpluses even lower. This makes rent-seeking relatively more attractive, which in turn further burdens those who try to remain productive.

“Any efforts to subsidize or bail out struggling businesses are rent-seeking. When some banks take excessive risks to gain excessive returns, they are risking that the returns will be worth the hazards involved.”

Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »


Gifts & Affection: ‘Teacher Of The Year’ Darcy Smith Accused Of Raping 14-Year Old Student

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SeaTac, Wash. (CBS SEATTLE) – A Highline School District elementary teacher, previously named “Teacher of the Year” in the region, is facing child rape charges from allegations she sexually abused a former student living in her home.

“The boy, now 19, told police that Smith, his sixth grade teacher, brought him into her home when he was 12 and began having sexual relations with him…He claims Smith showered him with gifts and affection, but that abuse intensified when Smith drank.”

King County prosecutors have charged Darcy M. Smith, 41, with three counts of child rape, alleging that she brought a boy in to live at her home when he was 12 years old and started to sexually abuse him the following year in 2008, KOMO-TV reports. The boy told police they first had sex when he was 14 and the abuse continued until he moved out of Smith’s Renton home at age 18.

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“Smith told him not to say anything and made him promise not to tell . . . (she) said she would go to jail and be in big trouble if he told,” police said in charging papers. He “said he was a boy, thought it was cool.”

Court documents suggest Smith, who taught most recently at McMicken Heights Elementary School, was actively engaging in sexual misconduct with the boy when she was named regional teacher of the year in 2012.

[Also see –  Darcy Smith, Elementary School Teacher, Charged with Child Rape for Allegedly Having Sex a Former Student, Starting When He Was 14]

[Highline teacher charged with rape of former student Highline Times]

[Suddenly, We’re Discovering That Sexual Abuse of Boys by Women Is Vastly More Common Than Previously… pjmedia.com]

[Teacher Of The Year Allegedly Raped 14-Year-Old Student The Inquisitr]

The boy was allegedly living with Smith with his mother’s permission as her home was closer to the hospital in which he was recuperating from an injury.

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“There is a lot more to this story than is contained in the cursory investigation that was done prior to the filing of these charges. Darcy looks forward to vigorously defending herself and to being exonerated.”

Smith’s attorney, Brad Meryhew, tells KOMO that she denies the allegations and has maintained her innocence since investigators first contacted her regarding the “false allegations.” In a recorded interview with investigators, Merhew says detectives failed to interview Smith’s husband or any others who would have been present in the home during the young boy’s alleged time living there. Read the rest of this entry »


Priorities: De Blasio and Farina de Blasio’s Overture to the Muslim Community

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“We made a pledge to families that we would change our school calendar to reflect the strength and diversity of our city. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families will no longer have to choose between honoring the most sacred days on their calendar or attending school,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement.

It’s the fulfillment of a campaign pledge Mr. de Blasio made when he was running for office in 2013, and today the mayor said it reflects the growth of the city’s Muslim population. Mr. de Blasio has also expressed support for giving students the day off for Lunar New Year, something for which the city’s growing Asian American community has advocated. Read the rest of this entry »


Dallas Area School Photographer Todd B. Fleming Gets 20 Years for Child Porn

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TYLER, Texas (AP) – A Dallas-area photographer who did senior portraits for some graduates in East Texas must serve 20 years in prison for producing child pornography.todd-b-fleming

Todd B. Fleming of McKinney was sentenced Tuesday in Tyler.

The 54-year-old Fleming last October pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children. Investigators say Fleming from 1999 to 2007 coerced juveniles to engage in sexually explicit conduct for producing child porn. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama Supporters Endorse Karl Marx for President in 2016 Election

Obama Supporters Endorses Communist Karl Marx for President in 2016 Election. Produced by Mark Dice. Filmed in San Diego, California. Mark Dice is a media analyst, author, and political activist who, in an entertaining and educational way, gets people to question our celebrity obsessed culture and the role the mainstream media and elite secret societies play in shaping our lives

 


AEI Ideas: Reaganomics 2.0?

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Yes, Reaganomics Needs a 21st Century Update

Pethokoukis writes:

“The GOP is debating whether Reaganomics needs an update” is a must-read piece by Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley. One side answers the “What would Reagan do?” question by offering a nostalgic return to the 1980s Reagan agenda. Another prefers to apply the Reagan principles — a dynamic private sector, strong families and neighborhoods, upward mobility, work — to modern economic reality with different conservative policy results. Tankersley:

Leading Republicans are clashing over a signature issue the party has treated as gospel for nearly 40 years: the idea that sharply lower taxes and smaller government are enough by themselves to drive a more prosperous middle class — and win national elections. That simple philosophy has been the foundation of every GOP platform since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now, some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — along with some top conservative economists and strategists — are sending strong signals that they believe today’s beleaguered workers need more targeted help, even if growth speeds up.

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For some context, here are a few then-and-now stats:

1.) When Reagan was elected president in 1980, the top income tax rate was 70%. Today, the top income tax rate is 40%.

2.) When Reagan was elected, the top 1% paid about a fifth of federal income taxesToday it’s about a third.

3.) When Reagan was elected, the bottom 90% paid just over half of all federal income taxes. Today it’s around 30% with 40% of households paying no federal income taxes.

5.) When Reagan was elected, 8% of national income went to the top 1%. Today, it’s nearly 20%.

6.) When Reagan was elected, inflation had averaged nearly 9% over the previous eight years. Today, inflation is less than 2% and has averaged around 2% the past 15 years.

7.) When Reagan was elected, US publicly held debt was 26% of GDP. Today, it’s 74% of GDP with a whole lot of entitlement spending quickly headed our way.

8.) When Reagan was elected, more than 19 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Today, just under 12 million Americans work in manufacturing.

9.) When Reagan was elected, health care spending was 10% of GDP. Today, it’s 17% of GDP.

10.) When Reagan was elected, China’s GDP, in nominal terms, was 3% of America’s. Today, China’s GDP is over half of America’s and about the same based on purchasing power.

Let me also add (a) there is good reason to believe that faster GDP growth is not lifting all boats, (b) upward mobility is stagnant, (c) slowing labor force growth and productivity suggest it will be harder to generate fast growth in the future than in the past,  (d) automation has taken a toll on middle-class income and jobs,  (e) labor force participation by high school-only graduates has fallen by 10 percentage points over the past 25 years, and (f) inflation-adjusted market income for the top 1% has risen by 174% since 1979 vs. 16% for the bottom 80%. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Tycoon Wang Jianlin Blames ‘Western Schooling’ for Son’s Comments About Wanting a Girlfriend With Big Boobs

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Wang Jianlin blames Western education for his son’s controversial remark that potential girlfriends needed to be “buxom”

Wang, one of the richest men in China, used an interview on state television on Tuesday evening to publicly defend his son, whose remark caused a furore on social media and led to condemnation by a state news agency. He also said he preferred to stay away from politics and said businessmen should “refrain from bribes”.

Wang said his son, Wang Sicong , had spent years studying overseas and had got into the habit of speaking whatever was on his mind.

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Tycoon takes to TV to defend offspring who caused uproar by saying he preferred ‘buxom’ girlfriends; his overseas schooling is to blame

The younger Wang was lambasted after making the remark on Valentine’s Day, with the state-run news agency Xinhua publishing a 1,287-word commentary condemning his remarks.

His father, who runs a property and cinema empire, said he was always ready to “take a hint” from others and not “speak carelessly”, but his son was more direct and had not learnt Chinese subtlety.

“He is smart. He went overseas to study at grade one and he has a Western-style of thinking,” said Wang.

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“Maybe after spending five or eight years in China, he will truly become Chinese.”

Wang Sicong, a board member of his father’s Wanda Group and the chairman of the private investment firm Prometheus Capital, is well-known for his outspoken comments on social media.

He made his latest eyebrow-raising remark after helping to raise more than 500,000 yuan (HK$630,000) for charity by auctioning the chance for a member of the public to watch a film with him.

Wang Jianlin’s son Wang Sicong, a board member at his father’s company, was chastised by state media and the public for a ‘crude’ comment about women. Wang Sicong said it was made in jest. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The senior Wang said he wanted his son to succeed in his own right in business, but would give him only two opportunities. “The third time he fails, he comes to work at Wanda,” he said.

The tycoon’s comments appeared to question Western customs and values, echoing remarks by government officials in recent months.

Education Minister Yuan Guiren said last month that universities must tightly control the use of text books from overseas that spread “Western values”. Read the rest of this entry »


Californian to Texan Translation Guide

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ht/tomfernandez28’s Blog 


Pope Francis Blesses Golden Rice

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ASPB NEWS | VOLUME 41, NUMBER 1

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Tyrone Spady, ASPB’s Legislative and Public Affairs Director, writes:

On November 7, 2013, Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice (GR). Why is this significant? Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and up to 2 million deaths each year. Particularly susceptible are pregnant women and children. Across the globe, an estimated 19 million pregnant women and 190 million children suffer from the condition. The good news, however, is that dietary supplementation of vitamin A can eliminate VAD. One way that holds particular promise is the administration via GR, which had been engineered to produce large amounts of vitamin A. A 2012 study by Tang et al published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 100-150 g of cooked GR provided 60% of the Chinese Recommended Intake of vitamin A. Estimates suggest that supplementing GR for 20% of the diet of children and 10% for pregnant women and mothers will be enough to combat the effects of VAD.

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Unfortunately, public misconceptions about genetically modified (GM) organisms have prevented GR from being available to the countries most affected by VAD. One such country is the Philippines, where more than 80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic and field trials of GR are nearing completion. An official blessing of the church, therefore, could do a great deal to build support, allowing the Philippines to serve as a model for many of its neighbors on the potential health impacts of widespread availability and consumption of the golden grain.

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Regrettably, the church did not provide an official endorsement. It turns out that there is quite a distinction between the pope’s personal blessing and an official statement of support from the Vatican. To understand the nature of that distinction, we turned to the person who elicited the blessing, GR coinventor and ASPB member Ingo Potrykus. At the time of the blessing, Ingo, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, had been attending a meeting at the Vatican on the interaction of nutrition and brain development.

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At the end of the meeting, he was able to meet Pope Francis and took the opportunity to share a packet of GR. In response, the pope offered his personal blessing. (If an official blessing of the Holy See was given, it would come from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.) From Ingo’s perspective, the pope is concerned that genetic modification technology primarily benefits big business and not the poor. Read the rest of this entry »


Wendy Kaminer: The Progressive Ideas Behind the Lack of Free Speech on Campus

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How did we get here? How did a verbal defense of free speech become tantamount to a hate crime and offensive words become the equivalent of physical assaults?

Wendy Kaminer writes: Is an academic discussion of free speech potentially traumatic? A recent panel for Smith College alumnae aimed at “challenging the ideological echo chamber” elicited this ominous “trigger/content warning” when a transcriptappeared in the campus newspaper: “Racism/racial slurs, ableist slurs, antisemitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence, references to antisemitic violence.”

No one on this panel, in which I participated, trafficked in slurs. So what prompted the warning?

“Self-appointed recovery experts promoted the belief that most of us are victims of abuse, in one form or another. They broadened the definition of abuse to include a range of common, normal childhood experiences, including being chastised or ignored by your parents on occasion….”

Smith President Kathleen McCartney had joked, “We’re just wild and crazy, aren’t we?” In the transcript, “crazy” was replaced by the notation: “[ableist slur].”

One of my fellow panelists mentioned that the State Department had for a time banned the words “jihad,” “Islamist” and “caliphate” — which the transcript flagged as “anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language.”

“From this perspective, we are all fragile and easily damaged by presumptively hurtful speech, and censorship looks like a moral necessity.”

I described the case of a Brandeis professor disciplined for saying “wetback” while explaining its use as a pejorative. The word was replaced in the transcript by “[anti-Latin@/anti-immigrant slur].” Discussing the teaching of “Huckleberry Finn,” I questioned the use of euphemisms such as “the n-word” and, in doing so, uttered that forbidden word. I described what I thought was the obvious difference between quoting a word in the context of discussing language, literature or prejudice and hurling it as an epithet.41dpsNZmcnL._SL250_

[Check out Wendy Kaminer’s book “Fearful Freedom: Women’s Flight from Equality” at Amazon]

Two of the panelists challenged me. The audience of 300 to 400 people listened to our spirited, friendly debate — and didn’t appear angry or shocked. But back on campus, I was quickly branded a racist, and I was charged in the Huffington Post with committing “an explicit act of racial violence.” McCartney subsequently apologized that “some students and faculty were hurt” and made to “feel unsafe” by my remarks.

Unsafe? These days, when students talk about threats to their safety and demand access to “safe spaces,” they’re often talking about the threat of unwelcome speech and Tall-censorship-campusdemanding protection from the emotional disturbances sparked by unsettling ideas. It’s not just rape that some women on campus fear: It’s discussions of rape. At Brown University, a scheduled debate between two feminists about rape culture was criticized for, as the Brown Daily Herald put it, undermining “the University’s mission to create a safe and supportive environment for survivors.” In a school-wide e-mail, Brown President Christina Paxon emphasized her belief in the existence of rape culture and invited students to an alternative lecture, to be given at the same time as the debate. And the Daily Herald reported that students who feared being “attacked by the viewpoints” offered at the debate could instead “find a safe space” among “sexual assault peer educators, women peer counselors and staff” during the same time slot. Presumably they all shared the same viewpoints and could be trusted not to “attack” anyone with their ideas.

How did we get here? How did a verbal defense of free speech become tantamount to a hate crime and offensive words become the equivalent of physical assaults?

You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades: the feminist anti-porn crusades, the pop-psychology recovery movement and the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses.

“You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades: the feminist anti-porn crusades, the pop-psychology recovery movement and the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses.”

In the 1980s, law professor Catharine MacKinnon and writer Andrea Dworkin showed the way, popularizing a view of free speech as a barrier to equality. These two impassioned feminists framed pornography — its production, distribution and consumption — as an assault on women. Read the rest of this entry »


Oh Yes She Did: Registered Sex Offender In Jail After Taking part in Motivational Assembly at Washington High School

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Salsbury was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to almost a year in jail for her role in forcing underage girls to work as prostitutes. Law enforcement learned of the operation after one of the girls told her school resource officer about it

A registered sex offender was among the performers at a motivational assembly Tuesday at Kiona-Benton City High School.

Melissa Salsbury, who models under the name Mia Rose, is prohibited from being anywhere minors congregate, including schools, parks and public pools, said Benton County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Wilson.

She turned herself into authorities Wednesday afternoon.

“It wasn’t the school’s fault; they wanted to give their kids inspiration.”

– A.N.E. spokesman Ron Adams

She had not been cleared to speak in advance by high school administrators, according to a news release issued late Wednesday by Superintendent Wade Haun.

“The district accepts responsibility for this unfortunate situation and has acted to notify parents via our school reach system (a voice recorded message sent to all high school parents),” the release said.

A letter will be sent to parents Feb. 19 that informs them of events surrounding the assembly and steps the district will take in the future to prevent a recurrence, the release said.

Salsbury performed with a group called A.N.E./Money over Misery, comprised of musicians and artists sharing positive messages about bullying, peer pressure, education, overcoming negativity, self-worth, personal drive and staying focused.

A.N.E was not aware of Salsbury’s status, spokesman Ron Adams said. He noted that her background as a troubled youth trying to turn her life around resonated with Ki-Be students. Read the rest of this entry »


Joanna Stern: Raspberry Pi 2 Review: A $35 Computer Can Do a Heck of a Lot

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Our computers have become too easy to use.

Joanna Sternjoanna_stern writes: Right out of the box, they’re ready to go. No installing operating systems, no typing into a command-line prompt like in the old days. We don’t even have to hit save anymore.

Most weeks, I’m the first to celebrate this and to say I miss nothing about the way it used to be. But not this week.

This week I’ve been using the $35 Raspberry Pi 2, a bare-bones Linux computer no bigger than a juice box. And I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: the thrill of tinkering with a machine and its software. Of course, that thrill is accompanied, from time to time, with the urge to take a baseball bat to an inanimate object.

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The Raspberry Pi is the antithesis of our polished, hermetically sealed Apple and Windows PCs. Open the cardboard box and all you’ll find inside is a green board covered with chips, circuits and ports. There’s no keyboard, monitor, or power cord. There isn’t even an operating system. And that’s all by design.

It was made by a U.K.-based nonprofit called the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage today’s children, around the age 10 and up, to learn more about how computers really work. Children today “have wonderful technology in their lives, but they are deprived of learning how it works,” Eben Upton, co-founder of the foundation, says. So while every other electronics maker has been slaving away on ease-of-use features, Mr. Upton decided to deliberately create a computer that dials back the user friendliness.

Using media center software you can turn the Pi into a Apple TV or Roku alternative.PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Using media center software you can turn the Pi into a Apple TV or Roku alternative. PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

After using the Pi 2, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a great way for children and teenagers to learn about computer hardware and software. It’s also great for us curious adults who are interested in knowing more about the worlds of open-source and software coding, and don’t mind typing arcane commands into a DOS-looking interface to get there.

But don’t let that scare you. I challenged myself to see what I could do with the little thing and it put my problem-solving skills and patience to the test. Even if you’re someone like me, with little to no computer coding knowledge, you’ll be amazed by the number of things you can do with a $35 computer.

Raspbian provides a basic desktop and menu with access to programs and settings. PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Raspbian provides a basic desktop and menu with access to programs and settings. PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A $35 Linux Computer

My journey all started with gathering the right pieces to make the Pi my main computer for past few days.

Not only doesn’t the Pi come with an operating system, there isn’t even a hard drive inside. There is, however, a MicroSD card slot. So I did what the very helpful Raspberry Pi websites and community of experts tell beginners to do: I bought a $10 card preloaded with Raspbian, a basic Linux OS optimized for the Pi. (You can download the free software and put it on a card you already own, too.) Later this year, a new version of Windows will be released for the Pi.

OK, so it costs a little more than $35. I also bought a $5 plastic box to house the board, a $13 USB Wi-Fi dongle and a $8 Pi-compatible MicroUSB power cord from Adafruit.com, a website that sells the Pi and a selection of hardware add-ons for it, and provides tutorials.

With those things, plus a USB mouse and keyboard and an HDMI monitor I already had (TVs work fine, too), I was up and running. To get started, I did have to type some text into the command line and go through some installation processes, but believe it or not, it took less time to set up the computer than to bake a real raspberry pie. (Even with a pre-made crust!)

With the help of Limor Fried, the founder of Adafruit, Joanna Stern turned the Pi into small robot. PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

With the help of Limor Fried, the founder of Adafruit, Joanna Stern turned the Pi into small robot. PHOTO: DREW EVANS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Raspbian, which launched a Windows-style graphic interface once I installed it, provides a basic desktop and menu with access to programs and settings. Using the preloaded Web browser, I’ve been able to do most of what I do on my laptop—check email, Twitter, Facebook. I also downloaded the free LibreOffice suite from the preloaded Pi Store. Read the rest of this entry »


Seattle Science Teacher Concerned Students ‘weren’t learning about their own privilege’

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New High-School Physics Curriculum Includes Lessons on White Privilege

Katherine Timpfpage_2014_200_timpf writes: A high-school physics teacher has developed his own six-day curriculum that he uses to teach about institutional racism, privilege, and social justice as part of his seniors’ physics classes.rifkin

The teacher, Moses Rifkin of University Prep in Seattle, has also been promoting the lesson plan to other high-school science instructors.

“I was jealous of my colleagues in English and History who got to talk every day in class about society and how it worked and how to be moral and caring and kind, whereas those conversations with students only happened for me outside the classroom.”

John Burk, a math and physics teacher from Delaware, said that he learned about the curriculum when he met Rifkin at a People of Color Conference and gushed that it “brilliantly brings lessons about social justice, privilege, and institutional racism into the physics classroom.”

In fact, Burk loved the unit so much that he had Rifkin write a guest post about it in his (Burk’s) own blog, in which Rifkin explained:

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“I was jealous of my colleagues in English and History who got to talk every day in class about society and how it worked and how to be moral and caring and kind, whereas those conversations with students only happened for me outside the classroom.”

“That I was teaching at a private school only made matters worse: my students weren’t learning about their own privilege (academic and, in most cases, economic and racial),” Rifkin continued.

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During one section of the course, Rifkin’s post explains, students study black physicists. For a homework assignment, he instructs students to learn about a pre-1950s black physicist and also a modern black physicist. Read the rest of this entry »


University of Texas, Arlington Campus REWIND: Muslim Student Fabricated Story About Being Threatened by a Man With a Gun

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Jessica Chasmar reports: A Muslim student at the University of Texas, Arlington, who claimed she was threatened at gunpoint by a white man on campus, admitted on Friday that she made the story up, a university spokeswoman said.

The university had issued an alert Friday that the student, whose name was not released, told police that she was followed on her way to campus by a white man wearing a camouflage baseball hat and driving a white pickup truck, the Daily Caller reported. She claimed that when she parked at the university, the man yelled threats at her and pointed a handgun at her before taking off, the Dallas Morning News reported.

[Also see – Student Who Claimed to Be Victim of Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Now Admits She Lied – NRO]

The student also posted on Facebook that the man might have targeted her because she is Muslim, citing the fatal shootings of three Muslim students last week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Morning News reported. Read the rest of this entry »


Wicked Blue Venomous Rock & Roll Tarantula of the Night: Meet Poecilotheria Metallica

Deadly Spider

Poecilotheria metallica is a species of tarantula. It reflects brilliant metallic blue color. Like others in its genus it exhibits an intricate fractal-like pattern on the abdomen. The species’ natural habitat is deciduous forest in Andhra Pradesh, in central southern India. P. metallica was first discovered in the town of Gooty, a fact reflected in some of its common names: Gooty sapphire ornamental tree spider, Gooty sapphire, and Gooty tarantula. Other common names are metallic tarantula, peacock parachute spider, peacock tarantula, or salepurgu….(read more)

 Wikipedia


Taboo in Mainland Schools, Hong Kong Liberal Studies Make Beijing Officials Uneasy

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Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing fear that the unfettered freedom to discuss such topics in Hong Kong’s classrooms has helped breed a generation of unruly and unpatriotic youths

HONG KONG—Isabella Steger writes: High-school students in this city’s mandatory liberal studies class tackle issues that are strictly taboo in mainland Chinese schools—press freedom, civil disobedience and the rule of law.

“The biggest impact of liberal studies is that it encourages students to be much more aware of current affairs,” said Lo Yat-ko, a 30-year-old liberal studies teacher.

“In Hong Kong, we teach critical thinking, not like in China where they teach by indoctrination and memorizing”

— Ng Shun-wing, Hong Kong Institute of Education

That has become a big problem for some officials in Hong Kong and Beijing, who fear that the unfettered freedom to discuss such topics in Hong Kong’s classrooms has helped breed a generation of unruly and unpatriotic youths, and helped inspire the so-called Occupy pro-democracy protests that shook this semiautonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks late last year.

Excerpt: Lessons in Liberal Studies

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An excerpt from a liberal studies textbook explores the merits of street protests in Hong Kong. Photo: Longman New Senior Liberal Studies textbook

In the aftermath of those student-led protests, an education debate is once again brewing in Hong Kong. In November, the city’s Education Bureau launched a three-month review of the city’s school curriculum, the results of which will be announced in July.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his annual policy address last month that the government would change the current high-school curriculum, with an aim to “reinforce students’ interest in and understanding of Chinese history and culture.” Mr. Leung said the government will also subsidize students to participate in exchange programs with schools on the mainland.

His comments come two years after the Hong Kong government, at Beijing’s behest, attempted to introduce mandatory patriotic education in the city’s schools, drawing accusations of indoctrination and sparking widespread demonstrations that forced the government to back down.

The latest curriculum review risks reigniting a new round of protests, but the government’s resolve for an overhaul appears to have deepened. Hong Kong and Beijing officials have grown more outspoken over school subjects, such as liberal studies, that address controversial topics and emphasize critical analysis.

Excerpt 2: Lessons in Liberal Studies

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An excerpt from a liberal studies textbook discusses the differences between life in Hong Kong and mainland China. Photo: Longman New Senior Liberal Studies textbook

Such topics and teaching methods are off-limits in mainland Chinese schools, which place a more traditional emphasis on rote learning and shun current events that are sensitive to the Communist Party.

Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last month that Hong Kong youth needed to have their thinking “repaired” as they have been “brainwashed.”

The problems in Hong Kong’s education system “have now become the seeds of bitter melons and poisonous beans,” said Mr. Chen at a seminar held by a think tank in Beijing, adding that some protesters who were “babies during the handover were…waving the British flag.”

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and has since operated under a separate political system that grants residents far greater freedoms than their mainland counterparts. But some people in the city worry that those freedoms are eroding. Read the rest of this entry »


College Students Prefer Their iPhones Over Sex and Beer

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According to a super not scientific study

But those people are wrong. There is one thing college students care about more than sex, drugs, parties or anything else. And that is their iPhones. At least, according to a recent study conducted by Student Monitor. Researchers surveyed 1,200 undergrads around the U.S. to choose “what’s in on campus” from a list of 77 options, Fortune reports.

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Apple’s iPhone earned the most votes, with 66% of students selecting it. The next most popular results were coffee, texting, Facebook, iPads and Instagram. Beer was #7 on the list and “hooking up” was #12. Read the rest of this entry »


Oh, Here We Go Again: Darcy Smith, Elementary School Teacher, Charged with Child Rape for Allegedly Having Sex a Former Student, Starting When He Was 14

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SEATTLE — A 41-year-old elementary school teacher has been charged with child rape for allegedly having sex with a former student starting when he was 14 and living in her home with her husband and children, court documents showed Thursday.

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Darcy Smith, a teacher at McMicken Heights Elementary School, was charged Monday with three counts of third-degree child rape.

In May 2014, the former student reported to the King County Sheriff’s Office that when he was 12 years old and in the 6th smith1grade, he moved into the Renton home of his 6th-grade teacher, Darcy Smith.  He said that when he was 14, they started having sex and that continued until he was 18 and moved out of Smith’s house, a sheriff’s detective said in the court documents.

The victim said that he came to live in Smith’s home after he broke his collarbone in the 6th grade and Smith took him to the hospital and invited to stay with her family. He said his mother and Smith agreed that he could live with Smith and her family because she spoke English and lived closer to the hospital.

Also, he said, his mother was concerned because his older brother was involved in gangs and was a bad influence. Read the rest of this entry »


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