Advertisements

Origin of the Family Pet: 15,000 Years Ago, Probably in Asia, the Dog Was Born 

Where do dogs come from?

James Gorman writes: Gray wolves are their ancestors. Scientists are pretty consistent about that. And researchers have suggested that dogs’ origins can be traced to Europe, the Near East, Siberia and South China.

“It’s really great to see not just the sheer number of street dogs, but also the geographic breadth and the number of remote locations where the dogs were sampled.”

— Greger Larson of Oxford University, who is leading an international effort to analyze ancient DNA from fossilized bones

Central Asia is the newest and best candidate, according to a large study of dogs from around the world.

Laura M. Shannon and Adam R. Boyko at Cornell University, and an international group of other scientists, studied not only purebred dogs, but also street or village dogs — the free-ranging scavengers that make up about 75 percent of the planet’s one billion dogs.

Dr. Shannon analyzed three different kinds of DNA, Dr. Boyko said, the first time this has been done for such a large and diverse group of dogs, more than 4,500 dogs of 161 breeds and 549 village dogs from 38 countries. That allowed the researchers to determine which geographic groups of modern dogs were closest to ancestral populations genetically. And that led them to Central Asia as the place of origin for dogs in much the same way that genetic studies have located the origin of modern humans in East Africa.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

The analysis, Dr. Boyko said, pointed to Central Asia, including Mongolia and Nepal, as the place where “all the dogs alive today” come from. The data did not allow precise dating of the origin, he said, but showed it occurred at least 15,000 years ago. They reported their findings Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

[VIDEO] Censorship and “Unlearning Liberty” at College: Q&A with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff 

“The…idea that if you just let people talk, it will be this pit of racist pandemonium…is sort of childish and it oversimplifies. But it is a great justification for having a lot of power over speech,” says Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


[VIDEO] Does Free Speech Offend You? 

Should offensive speech be banned? Where should we, as a society, draw the line where permitted speech is on one side, and forbidden speech is on the other? Should we even have that line? And should free speech be limited by things like trigger warnings and punishments for microaggressions? Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, answers these questions and more.


[VIDEO] Presumed Guilty: Due Process Lessons of the Duke Lacrosse Case

uke-bookeditor-commen-deskA transcript of the video can be found here. You can also read more about it in ‘s article at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a sample of which is captured below. If you can disregard how awful the music is (what were they thinking? It’s better suited to a melodramatic Lifetime movie, or a TV spot begging for donations to help end abuse of animals) this is a really good documentary.

[Check out the book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case” at Amazon.com]

 writes:

As the problem of sexual assault on college campuses gains increasing attention nationwide, members of Congress are exploring ways to prod universities into better handling sexual assault accusations. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are glossing over the question of due process for accused students, seeking to compel universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in sexual assault cases—a weak evidentiary standard that can brand a student a rapist based on a mere 50.01% likelihood of their guilt, as determined by a tribunal in which due process and fair procedures are often the exception rather than the rule.

DukeVideo-feat

Advocates of this approach should remember the rush to judgment that occurred in the Duke lacrosse incident of 2006, as outlined in FIRE’s latest video, part of which will be broadcast as part of FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s appearance on the Fox Business Network’s The Independents tonight at 9 p.m. Narrated by Brooklyn College history professor Dr. KC Johnson—co-author of the authoritative account of the controversy, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case—the video tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring due process protections for accusations of crime in higher education….(read more)

TheFire.org

From the YouTube description:

In 2006, the nation was rocked by allegations that three Duke lacrosse players had raped a woman named Crystal Mangum at an off-campus party. As Mangum’s story began to unravel, the focus of the case shifted from the supposed criminal behavior of the students to the fact that a large number of Duke faculty members wasted no time in presuming that the students were guilty of something, as well as Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong’s now-infamous disregard of basic due process and the presumption of innocence. Read the rest of this entry »


SPEECH CODE SLAYER AWARD: George Mason University Given Highest Rating

00statue

George Mason University also becomes the third green light institution in the state of Virginia, joining the University of Virginia and The College of William & Mary

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015—George Mason University (GMU) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, the Virginia university has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus.

“Freedom of speech and academic freedom are core values of a university’s mission. I’m delighted that George Mason has joined the ranks of universities that have committed themselves to the full protection of free speech. Thank you to our administration for their dedicated work in providing a context where students and faculty can express controversial ideas freely, and even inartfully, without fear of reprisal.”

“We commend George Mason University for improving its policies and fully upholding the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty members,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “GMU is now a national leader in terms of respecting free speech in higher education, and the university’s actions should serve as a positive example for other institutions to follow.”

George-Mason-University-campus-feat

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Awards Highest Free Speech Rating to George Mason University 

FIRE has been advocating for speech code reform at GMU for nearly a decade. In May 2014, Majeed and GMU Director of Special Diversity Projects Dennis Webster began working together to revise seven university policies, including a flyer posting policy, a sexual harassment policy, two provisions from the student conduct code, and a policy on leafleting. GMU Foundation Professor of Law Todd Zywicki also assisted in the effort.

“We commend George Mason University for improving its policies and fully upholding the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty members. GMU is now a national leader in terms of respecting free speech in higher education, and the university’s actions should serve as a positive example for other institutions to follow.”

— Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program

“Freedom of speech and academic freedom are core values of a university’s mission,” said Zywicki. “I’m delighted that George Mason has joined the ranks of universities that have committed themselves to the full protection of free speech. Thank you to our administration for their dedicated work in providing a context where students and faculty can express controversial ideas freely, and even inartfully, without fear of reprisal.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Least Free Place in America

Question: Which American institution—one that prides itself on being open, democratic, and diverse—unlearning-libertypunishes its members severely for offering unpopular opinions, while it offers them a very narrow, limited worldview?

[Check out Greg Lukianoff‘s book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate at Amazon]

Answer: Universities. Once the vanguard of open debate and free speech, colleges have become a place where alternative thinking goes to die. Students who speak out on behalf of traditional American ideals, unfortunately, are often silenced by college administrators. Learn how the college campus, a place that should be an intellectual melting pot, has turned into anything but, violating the rights of those who have alternate opinions.

Lecturer: Greg Lukianoff, President at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. His book, “Unlearning Liberty,” is available here.

 


FIRE Says It Will Sue Every College With a Speech Code Until Speech Codes Die Forever

joker-nurse

For REASON,  reports: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced a major litigation effort Tuesday against universities that maintain clearly illegal speech codes.

With help from the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, FIRE is suing several universities that manifestly and unconstitutionally deprive their students of First Amendment rights.

[Below, ReasonTV talks with FIRE about challenges to free speech on college campuses]

“Universities’ stubborn refusal to relinquish their speech codes must not be tolerated,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff during a press conference.

An OU student’s rights organization, OU Students Defending Students, ran afoul of university administrators because he created T-shirts for the organization that featured a risque phrase “We help get you off”

For now, suits have been filed against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. These universities have all trampled students’ free speech rights, according to FIRE. Read the rest of this entry »


I.M.F. Chief Christine Lagarde Not Approved by Smith College’s Left-Wing Thought Enforcers, Withdraws as Commencement Speaker

For THE NEW YORK TIMES reports:A week before she was to speak at the Smith College commencement, Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn from the event, citing protests against her and the fund, the college said Monday.

christine-lagardeHer withdrawal comes after Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state,withdrew from speaking at the Rutgers University commencement in the face of protests against her role in Bush administration foreign policy, and weeks after Brandeis University rescinded its invitation to the rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its commencement, after protests over her anti-Islam statements.

Such reversals have become more common in recent years, said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, referring to this time of year as “disinvitation season.” What has changed is not so much the protests themselves, but the willingness of colleges and speakers to give in, adding that many apparently voluntary withdrawals are made at the college’s urging. Read the rest of this entry »


ANOTHER University Stops Students from Handing Out Constitution

robertsoave-1630136872For The Daily CallerRobby Soave reports:  Two students are suing the University of Hawaii for violating their First Amendment rights after administrator prevented them from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution — demonstrating a frightening lack of knowledge about the very legal document they were attempting to censor.

“It’s not about your rights…”

— Ellen Kusano, director of Student Affairs

Students Merritt Burch and Anthony Vizzone, members of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at UH-Hilo, were prevented from handing out copies of the Constitution at a recruitment event in January. A week later, they were again informed by a censorship-minded administrator that their First Amendment-protected activities were in violation of school policy.

hawaii_hall_524

The students were told that they could only distribute literature from within UH-Hilo’s “free speech zone,” a small, muddy, frequently-flooded area on the edge of campus.

Administrators further clarified their level of respect for students’ free speech rights, making comments like, “This isn’t really the ’60s anymore,” and “people can’t really protest like that anymore,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

landscape-advisory-panel

The First Amendment has not been modified since the 1960s, however, and robustly protects the rights of students at public universities to hold non-disruptive protests, speak their mind and distribute literature. Read the rest of this entry »


University of Virginia Bans Unconstitutional Campus ‘Free Speech Zones’

free-speech-zone

For Ricochet writes:  On Friday, April 3, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a first-of-its-kind bill that effectively designates all outdoor areas on Virginia public campuses as public forums. This has the practical effect of not allowing campus speech to be quarantined into ‘free speech zones.'(read more)

Bonus: In this video, note how some libertarian students in Ohio defeated one such zone:

 


The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

universityx

Greg Lukianoff writes:  College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas.

To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight some of the worst colleges for free speech since March 2012 — the last time we published this list. (Our first list, from 2011, is here.)

Most of the schools we include in this year’s list are public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. But some of them are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty free speech rights, nonetheless promise to do so. (As we said last year, if you’re looking for schools like Brigham Young or Liberty University to appear on this list, you’ll be disappointed. Students who attend those schools know what they’re getting themselves into.) One of the institutions listed isn’t even a college, but still deserves special mentioning for the profound effect it had on campus expression this year.

Of course, a “top 10” list cannot include all the colleges that violated free speech rights over the last nearly two years. Two notable colleges that are not on the list include Modesto Junior College (MJC), where, earlier this year, a student was ordered to stop handing out Constitutions on Constitution Day. It was a huge case and would have made the list if not for a recent decision by the college to dramatically improve its policies. MJC dropped some of the worst features of its original policy and have pledged to adopt a permanent policy change that respects the First Amendment. FIRE is optimistic, but will monitor the situation closely, so stay tuned.

The other college is the University of Kansas (KU), which just announced a highly restrictive social media policy for all staff and professors in the wake of a controversial tweet by a journalism professor. We just wrote to the school and want to give KU the chance to respond and/or reform the policy.

For those interested in learning more about the the fight for student rights, check out my book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. In the book, I highlight even more examples of egregious free speech violations from my 12-year fight for basic liberties at colleges across the country.

  • The State University of New York College at Oswego

    The State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego) earns its rightful place on this list for nonsensically suspending a student who asked rival hockey coaches for their thoughts about his school’s coach in order to complete a class assignment. Because he simply informed the coaches through email that they did not have to say only positive things about their SUNY Oswego counterpart, student Alex Myers was alleged to “defame, harass, intimidate, or threaten another individual or group.” As a result of the charges, Myers was placed on interim suspension and forced to vacate his campus residence. After intense public pressure from FIRE and media outlets like Gawker, the university eventually dropped Myers’ suspension and allowed him to return to campus—but only after the school sent a destructive message to student journalists about asking tough questions.

  • Harvard University

    In George Orwell’s <em>1984</em>, one of the methods that the government of Oceania used to control its population was constant surveillance. Citizens were afraid to speak their minds because they never knew when they were being monitored by “Big Brother.” If you’re a member of the Harvard University community, you might have that same uneasy feeling after it was revealed earlier this year that the administration violated school policy in covertly accessing 16 residential deans’ email accounts. The search was undertaken to determine the source of a leak to the media about a high-profile cheating scandal on campus. The deans, who also serve as lecturers within the school, weren’t notified that their email accounts were accessed until months after it occurred. As Harvard’s student newspaper The Crimson reports, the effect of the covert search has been a chilling effect on faculty speech. Though an official university investigation into the affair concluded that the search was conducted in “good faith,” the administrator responsible for ordering the search has resigned. The question remains: how safe are Harvard students and faculty from future snooping efforts? (Also: Check out other censorship, free speech, and rights issues at Harvard over the last decade)

  • University of Alabama

    The University of Alabama earns its place on this year’s list through its bureaucratic assault on common sense and the Constitution. In April 2013, the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student group was blocked from mounting a peaceful counter-demonstration to a Bama Students for Life “Genocide Awareness Project” display that featured graphic abortion-related images. When AASRJ students tried to hand out their materials near the display, they were told by a police officer that without a grounds use permit, they could face arrest. Why not get the permit? For one, Alabama’s grounds use policy requires applicants to apply for a permit 10 working days in advance. This put groups like AASRJ—which had less than 24 hours to plan its counter-demonstration—out of luck. But that’s almost beside the point: It’s absurd that students at any public university should ever have to request permission from their colleges to exercise basic free speech rights, like handing out literature in the campus’ public spaces. Although Alabama slightly revised its policy in response to pressure from FIRE, concerns still remain. Administrators still enjoy far too much discretion in approving permit requests, and the fact remains that spontaneous events—a common feature of college life—are still unduly restricted Read the rest of this entry »