October 15, 2012 9:38 AM
DAVID BIELLO: "Can the City that Never Sleeps Forego Nuclear Power?"
"On October 15, a three-judge panel hears evidence on whether the plant should operate for another 20 years. At issue is Indian Point’s ability to handle the challenges of aging, as well as its cost estimates for dealing with a meltdown. But what's really at stake is whether nuclear power has a future near the Big Apple. The two operating reactors on the site produce roughly 17,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council argues that this electricity could be replaced nearly for free. [...] But analyses by plant owner Entergy suggest the changeover would come with a hefty bill."
CONOR FRIEDERSDORF: "Small Town Spanish Life in 1943: 'No Decent Woman Is Ever Seen on a Bicycle'"
"In Spain, traveling through a cork forest near the Portuguese border, James Michener once stumbled upon a small town in a clearing, where he found posted to the oak door of the church a list of twelve rules. [...] Today clothes-related controversy more often turns on whether Muslim women are wearing too much of it. Seven decades hence, one wonders if the hijab will seem as unfathomable as the church door rules of yesteryear, or if those who would outlaw it will be remembered as small tyrants."
ELIZABETH WEINGARTEN: "How To Stop Apple's iOS6 From Tracking Your Activity for Advertisers"
" Apple’s new iOS 6 does, indeed, come with a default setting that tracks your activity, gathering a constant stream of personal data. Apple’s advertising arm, iAd, uses that data to create a targeted, personal ad campaign based on your recent Googling of 'romantic comedies,' that knitting app you downloaded, and the Thai restaurant you checked into last night."
October 15, 2012 5:00 AM
38 new regulations, from amateur rocket operations to the definition of “night.”
October 12, 2012 1:20 PM
Under pressure from the Education Department, which investigated it over "racial disparities" and "disparate impact," the Oakland, California, school system has agreed to impose "targeted reductions in the overall use of student suspensions; suspensions for African American students, Latino students, and students receiving special education services; and African American students suspended for defiance." See Agreement to Resolve Oakland Unified School District, OCR Case No. 09125001, page 14, Section VIII(c)(iii). These "targeted reductions" are racial quotas in all but name. ("Disparate impact" is when a process affects one racial group more than another, despite having no racist motive, such as when whites have higher average scores than minorities on a standardized test.)
One federal appeals court (in a different region of the country) has said that schools cannot use racial targets or quotas for school discipline, since that violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 534 (7th Cir. 1997). That court ruling also said that a school cannot use race in student discipline to offset racial disparities not rooted in school officials’ racism (so-called “disparate impact”).
Racial “disparities” or "disparate impact" in student discipline rates are not the product of racism by school officials, but rather reflect higher rates of violence and other disruptive conduct among African-American students. Nationally, "the homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined." In the Chicago schools, which used to be headed by Obama's own current Education Secretary, "25 times more black Chicago students than white ones were arrested at school," between September 2011 and February 2012.
The Supreme Court’s Armstrong decision emphasized that crime rates are not the same for different races, and that racial disparities in crime rates and conviction rates are not proof of racial discrimination. Stopping school officials from disciplining black students who violate school rules just because they previously disciplined more black than white students is as crazy as ordering police to stop arresting black criminals just because they previously arrested more blacks than whites.
Using race in student discipline, the way Oakland has agreed to do, also violates Article I, Section 31 of the California Constitution, which forbids all "racial preferences," regardless of whether they are permitted by federal law. That includes racial preferences in student discipline. (This provision, known as Proposition 209, was upheld by the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over California, in Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson, 122 F.3d 692 (9th Cir. 1997), and it resulted in the invalidation of many state affirmative action programs in Connerly v. State Personnel Board.)
October 12, 2012 9:53 AM
PETE PETERSON: "Should Romney Seek the Public Sector Vote?"
"At first blush, the headline on the Government Executive websiteseems unsurprising: 'Poll: Obama leads Romney among government workers.' The article quotes Rasmussen Reports, which found that of the public sector employees polled, 54 percent said they would vote for President Obama, while 37 percent said they would vote for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But a deeper look into the responses gives a sense of the size of this demographic, and demonstrates why the Republican ticket should take government workers seriously if they want to win."
WILL OREMUS: "Reddit Moderators Ban Gawker In Solidarity With Creepy Porn Purveyor"
"I find it very difficult indeed to understand how you can be so concerned with Violentacrez’* privacy and so thoroughly unconcerned with the privacy of the young girls and women whose photographs he propagated on the site.[...] Indignant Reddit users' party line is that the women unwittingly featured in r/creepshots had no expectation of privacy, because they were presumably in public when the photos were taken. Thus, there’s nothing illegal about the photos—whereas Chen’s plan to write a story exposing Violentacrez was blackmail. Or something."
SCOT W. ATLAS: "What Do Actual Doctors Think About Obamacare Now?"
"[C]ontrary to those doctors selected to legitimize ObamaCare in the staged media event (where the White House actually handed out white lab coats to generate the image of official credibility), an overwhelming 70 percent of doctors said, even back in 2011, that they disagreed with the AMA’s position on health reform, while only 13 percent agreed with it. In fact, almost half of doctors in that survey even went so far as to say that the AMA stance on ObamaCare was the factor causing them to drop AMA membership."
October 11, 2012 3:15 PM
When it comes to government transparency, it is essential to throw at least some sunlight on the problem. Over at the Daily Caller, Wayne Crews try to do just that:
October 11, 2012 2:52 PM
Forget austerity and bailouts. Southern Europe has an even bigger problem: a glut of unemployed young people. If this trend continues, workforces will regress in productivity and pensions will run out of funding over the next decade.
Spain is in the most dire situation, as 46.4 percent of young people are out of work, while Italy is the most fortunate southern country, with 29.1 percent of its young labor force left jobless. But even this is far above the Euro Area average of 20.8 percent.
As I write in the EU Observer, workforces are ageing as young Southern Europeans remain out of work. Spain’s workforce is ageing at the fastest rate, as it had the largest magnitude decrease in the share working young during 2000-2012. Italy has the most aged workforce, as the percent of employment decreased over the same time period in all age groups through 39 -- the broadest age decrease among southern countries.
October 11, 2012 2:08 PM
Policy Analyst David Bier thinks the world could use more Americans. And an easy way make happen is through increasing legal immigration. America's superior economic institutions give immigrants the ability to create more wealth and value than they could in their home countries.
October 11, 2012 2:08 PM
If it doesn’t work, then try, try, and try again. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is taking this expression to heart with a third round of quantitative easing (QE3). Unfortunately, while Mr. Bernanke is spinning his wheels in the mud pit, average Americans are sinking ever deeper into it.
As I explain in The Wall Street Journal, the redistributive nature of the Fed’s operations to keep interest rates low for large banks and financial institutions hurts small businesses and ordinary Americans.
Mr. Bernanke's description of QE3 as a "'Main Street' policy" is incorrect. The Fed distributes its newly created money by buying securities from large financial firms. These businesses receive the dollars before anyone else in the economy and thereby become relatively wealthier than those without their close political connections.
Small businesses on Main Street get the new money last, if at all. As Mr. Bernanke has long complained, his bank buddies aren't lending the money he's making. Worse, food and energy prices continue to rise, which cut into lower-income budgets the most.
QE3 is carefully designed to help Wall Street first and Main Street last.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Mr. Bernanke has the kind of power over which Congress and the President drool. Without having to go through two houses of Congress or remain accountable to a constituency, the chairman and his board of governors single-handedly redistribute income in the manner described above and tax savings through manipulation of the interest rate.
October 11, 2012 12:46 PM
ALEXIS C. MADRIGAL: "If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing?"
"Technically, I'd gone over the fence line, and if I'd done so on foot, intentionally, I would have nominally been guilty of trespassing. But if I were flying in a helicopter, a few hundred feet up, I would *not* have been guilty of trespassing. So, what about the air in between? [...] 'Once upon a time, you had the rights to your property under the soil and to the sky. It went by the colorful, Latin label 'ad coelum et ad inferos'---to the heavens and hell,' Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor and former research director of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, told me. 'But subsequent case law recognized the limits imposed by commercial aviation and other realities of the modern world. Now you own the air and soil rights you might reasonably use and enjoy.'"
JACOB SULLUM: "If You Demand a Good, Progressive Commerce Clause, You Also Get a Bad, Reactionary Commerce Clause"
"If the Commerce Clause authorizes the federal government to punish a farmer for growing too much wheat, even when the extra grain never leaves his farm (as the Supreme Court held in the New Deal case Wickard v. Filburn), it is hard to see why it does not authorize the federal government to punish patients for growing and possessing marijuana, even when the drug never leaves the state. If, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 asserted, Congress can regulate any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, or soda fountain when "its operations affect commerce' (e.g., when an Alabama diner uses Idaho potatoes to make French fries), surely the feds can shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, even when their activities are purely local and authorized by state law."
THE ECONOMIST: "Blunt instruments"
"The fact that affirmative action's survival depends on the retirement or appointment of a single justice reflects the ambivalence many Americans feel about it. On the one hand, affirmative action policies seem to violate the constitution's equal protection clause, because they introduce race as a factor in decisions about how people should be treated by the law. In the absence of some kind of intervention, however, it has historically been the case that universities end up with a student body that doesn't reflect the diversity of the population from which they are drawn—which also makes it seem like the constitutional imperative of equal protection has gone missing."
October 11, 2012 9:56 AM
Yesterday, the Brookings Institute held a panel that purported to discuss “Fostering Internet Competition”. But who is to do the fostering? Federal regulators, of course. The three panelists, Susan Crawford, Spencer Waller, and Douglas Rushkoff, rehashed familiar arguments aimed at policy scarecrows by would-be regulators when discussing tech and telecom regulation.
Unless government steps in, the argument goes, walled gardens will trample the net. Deserving Americans will never get Internet access. They’ll be dependent on cruel, monopolistic ISPs who dispense access like a feudal lord dispensing his favor. Innovation and experimentation will end.
A lot of this seems like a big panic—a “technopanic,” as Adam Thierer, telecommunications policy expert at the Mercatus Center, puts it. It seems to derive from the technoscenti’s realization the median Internet user today, besides being completely ignorant of even the simplest technical aspects of the net, just doesn’t care much about the things many early adopters hold dear. Calls for government protection of the values of the net’s early days are a response to the ever starker realities of the Eternal September.