Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A narrowing

"Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, April 27, 2021" (the Biden Administration is firmly planted on the shekel/Khabinet side of the issue):

"Q    Secondly, a report came out today from Human Rights Watch about Israel, saying that Israel is guilty of international crimes of apartheid and persecution because of discriminatory policies towards Palestinians.  Israel has rejected that characterization.  Does the White House think the report is accurate or inaccurate? 

MS. PSAKI:  Well, Josh, the State’s Department has its own rigorous process for making atrocity determinations and reports on human rights abus- — issues globally on an annual basis through the Human Rights Report that they issue, they do briefings on, and they put out publicly.  The Department has never used such terminology. 

As to the question of whether Israel’s actions constitute apartheid, that is not the view of this administration." 

"Axios from Tel Aviv" (Ravid):
"Worth noting: In previous administrations, such a conversation would likely have been held at the president and prime minister's level, but the Middle East is a fairly low priority in the early days of the Biden administration."
"The CIA’s Chinese Walls" (Murray):
"A further paradox which may trouble us in future is that if released, and if Biden as now is determined to continue the persecution of whistleblowers and of Wikileaks, Julian Assange could find himself trapped in England. Anywhere else he goes, including his native Australia, he could be the subject of a further US extradition request leading to imprisonment. This is the dilemma of my friend Lauri Love, whose lawyers advised him against even accepting my invitation to visit Scotland, in case a new US extradition request is issued in any other jurisdiction he visits. Lauri is only safe from extradition in England and Wales.

There is a further danger that the British Home Office might immediately on release seek to deport Julian to Australia on the grounds his UK visa has expired, and that the Australian government may imprison him there in pursuit of a further US extradition request. So in aiming for a situation where Julian can work, run Wikileaks, and contribute his remarkable talent and intelligence to further expansion of freedom of speech and the internet and empowering of ordinary citizens, we still all have work to do."
"Pfizer Helped Create the Global Patent Rules. Now it's Using Them to Undercut Access to the Covid Vaccine." (Lazare):
"Pfizer’s appeals make it sound as though the framework of intellectual property rules and pharmaceutical monopolies is a common-sense global order whose benefits to human society are apparent. But, in reality, these international norms are relatively recent, and were shaped, in part, by Pfizer itself. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the company played a critical role in establishing the very WTO intellectual property rules that it is now invoking to argue against freeing up vaccine supplies for poor countries. The ​“blood of the private sector” that Bourla appeals to is not some natural state of affairs, but reflects a global trade structure the company helped create — to the detriment of poor people around the world who seek access to life-saving drugs."
Michael Tracey tweets on the Paradise-on-Earth that is current Minneapolis.

"FBI Abused Secretive Surveillance Program, Court Finds" (Falun Gong).  This is supposed to be an exceptional remedy, but the FBI lazily used it to do grunt investigative work in completely domestic matters (even for doing background checks!).

"America Has a Problem With Poorly Trained Police Officers, Not ‘Systemic Racism’" (Bridge):
"Why is the media, just like it is with so many major corporations, hyping and funding the idea of systemic racism as the source of police violence when there are many other far more plausible explanations? While the ultimate motivation for assuming such a dangerous position may never be known, it is clear that anyone who challenges the ‘racist’ narrative risks attracting the wrath of the woke brigade. This would include, perhaps more than anyone, the academics.

In 2019, psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland examined 917 fatal police shootings of civilians from 2015 to ask a simple question: did the race of the police officer or the civilian play any role in those tragic events? The answer: no they didn’t. Cesario and Johnson concluded there was “no significant evidence of antiblack disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by police.” Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal. Would it surprise anyone to know that “citizen behavior,” i.e. resisting arrest, is the greatest determinate of police behavior?

Perhaps equally unsurprising is the establishment came down hard on the two number crunchers, especially after their research was cited by author Heather MacDonald in an article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.

“It set off a firestorm at Michigan State,” MacDonald wrote. “The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.”

As par for course, various student groups took up petitions to have Hsu fired, while the school profusely apologized. In the end, the mob declared yet another victory as Hsu finally stepped down from his position. 
The controversial paper’s co-author Cesario told WSJ that he feared the activists would continue “pushing for a narrowing of what kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.”"
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