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Two weeks ago we reported that the latest unintended casualty from Philadelphia's soda tax would be at least 20% of Pepsi's 423 employees in the city of brotherly love. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, with sales slumping as much as 40% because of the new Philadelphia sweetened beverage tax, in the last week of February, Pepsi said it will lay off 80 to 100 workers at three distribution plants that serve the city. And since Pepsi employs 423 people in the city, it means that as much as 20% of its employees will be out of job due to a disastrous ordnance that was meant to provide additional municipal funding and instead will now lead to an increase in unemployment, coupled with a general decline in consumption, not to mention tax revenues for the city of Philadelphia.
The bottling giant sent out notices last Wednesday and said the layoffs would be spread over the next few months. "The layoffs come in response to the beverage tax, which has cut sales by 40 percent in the city, PepsiCo Inc." spokesman Dave DeCecco said. “Unfortunately, after careful consideration of the economic realities created by the recently enacted beverage tax, we have been forced to give notice that we intend to eliminate 80 to 100 positions, including frontline and supervisory roles,” DeCecco said.
The layoffs would occur at plants in North Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, and Wilmington. The plants are run as independent businesses required to report profits and losses to the company.
And while Philly mayor Jim Kenney was quick to accuse Pepsi of being selfish, and putting profits over payrolls, that appears to be a losing battle as the local laborers promptly sided with the bottling giant. Anthony Campisi, a spokesman for a coalition of retailers, bottlers, and unions opposed to the tax, said it was unfair for the city to blame the companies for the job loss.
“It’s the mayor who’s to blame for the economic and human impact of the tax,” Campisi said. “And its offensive to blame the impact on Philadelphia businesses that are no longer sustainable because of it."
But the straw that could break the municipal camel's back in the deeply democratic city would be if the Teamsters - the backbone of any democratic administration - cry bloody murder, which they are starting to do. Danny Grace, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 830, which represents many of the employees affected, said in a statement: “Our worst fears have been realized today. ... This terrible news, although not surprising, is particularly disastrous for the members of Teamsters Local 830, who rely on a strong soda industry for their livelihoods.”
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Fast forward to today when it appears that the initial round of cost-cutting was very much insufficient, and according to CBS, Pepsi is now pulling 2-liter bottles and 12-packs of its products from Philadelphia grocery store shelves over the city’s new tax on sweetened drinks. The company says it wants to offer products and package sizes working families can better afford.
As described previously, the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened and diet beverages is imposed at the distributor level. If fully passed on to the consumer it amounts to $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles. The company’s decision affects sodas including Pepsi and Mountain Dew and other sweetened drinks like Gatorade and Lipton Iced Tea.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney’s office says the industry was trending toward smaller sizes well before the tax passed. Earlier this month, Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Inc. cited the tax when announcing layoffs of 80 to 100 workers at distribution plants serving Philadelphia. Sadly, he seems unable to grasp that when it comes to volume consumers will just be force to buy more smaller soda containers.
But what is most troubling - and to Philadelphia's democratic leadership, confusing - is that that no matter the passed-thru cost, Pepsi is simply unable to make a profit on any volume, or quantity, of soda, as there is simply no demand to cover the increased costs, and as a result the company has decided to pull two of the most popular size categories from the Philly market.
The result: not only has Pepsi commenced mass layoffs, not only have soda prices soared punishing everyone - not just those who allegedly abuse sugary drinks - but now all consumers just lost, with Pepsi limiting the choice of what they can and can not drink in such dramatic fashion. Meanwhile, Philadelpia's mayor continues to pretend tht his brilliant plan is going according to plan.
The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN....The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.
....One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.
Apparently this is all "raising suspicions" among counterintelligence officers about ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
If everything we've heard today is true, members of the Trump team were (a) in frequent contact with the Russians to coordinate the release of smears against Hillary Clinton, and (b) in frequent contact with some other group of people who were under surveillance for...something. What busy beavers!
Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is pretending to be shocked that the NSA does stuff that everyone on the planet knows the NSA does. I can only assume he was hoping to distract everyone from what's really going on, the way Trump does with his tweets. But Trump is a master, and Nunes is apparently an idiot. His attempt at misdirection was so barefaced and hamhanded that he probably just made things worse.
As the immigration debate goes on, many commentators continue to sloppily ignore the difference between the concept of naturalization and the phenomenon of immigration.
While the two are certainly related, they are also certainly not the same thing. Recognizing this distinction can help us to see the very real differences between naturalization, which is a matter of political privilege, and immigration, which simply results from the exercise of private property rights. Immigration results naturally from allowing persons to exercise their property rights. Naturalization, on the other hand, is a political act.Naturalization Is about Politics, not Property
Naturalization is the process by which persons become citizens and gain access to political institutions. This is a distinct phenomenon from the process of migration. Certainly, an immigrant can relocate without any intent of going through the naturalization process, as is the case for many immigrants to the US today. Those familiar with migrant worker programs in the US, for example, are well aware that there are many workers who work in the US but do not begin the naturalization process.
Much of the confusion in the US stems from the lax nature of US naturalization laws. Thanks to "birthright citizenship" in the United States, it is assumed in the modern US that even if a person never becomes naturalized, his or her children will automatically become citizens if born on US soil.
In many parts of the world, however, simply being born within the boundaries of a certain state does not guarantee naturalization.
Switzerland, for example, provides a much clearer picture of how immigration and naturalization can be viewed as quite distinct. Indeed, in Switzerland, the naturalization process can take many years for adults, and citizenship is by no means guaranteed even to the children of non-Swiss citizens on Swiss soil. For an example of this, we need look no further than this recent article in The Atlantic which outlines the story of one Nancy Holten who has lived as a non-citizen in Switzerland for 34 yeas. Recently, she was rejected for citizenship for the second time. This doesn't mean Switzerland is a closed economy, of course. Non-citizen permanent residents are numerous in Switzerland, making up nearly one-quarter of the total population. The lack of citizenship, however, is not a barrier to owning property or entering into employment contracts.
This reality reminds us that citizenship and political participation — i.e., naturalization — are not the same thing as the free exercise of property rights.Property Rights vs. Political "Rights"
Immigration, on the other hand, can — and should — occur outside the sphere of state power. In order for immigration to take place, the state merely need take no action and leave the matter to private employers, workers, and landowners.1
In other words, if a person can find someone willing to rent or sell him real estate, and if the migrant can secure income through employment or some other voluntary means, then the immigrant will be free to relocate — thanks to the invitation of private owners and employers.
Thus, in a system where income and access to other resources must be procured largely through private means, immigration — when it occurs — is simply the natural outcome of the exercise of private property rights. Unfortunately, most modern states cloud this picture by extending the welfare state to migrants. This, in turn, changes migration from a voluntary agreement between private parties into a matter of "public" funds and political action. The answer to this, of course, is to end the subsidy — not to intervene in the private economy.
Moreover, political problems that arise from imprudent policies on naturalization and welfare state spending do not justify government intervention in private property. After all, unlike political "rights" such as voting, private property rights are universal and are not rendered moot by a change of government policy or a change in government jurisdiction.
By moving from one jurisdiction to another, a person does not suddenly forfeit the right to rent an apartment freely offered to him by a landlord. He does not lose the right to take a job freely offered by an employer, and he does not lose the right to sell goods and services to persons who freely offer to buy them.
Unlike the political privileges conferred by naturalization, these property rights remain the same always and in every location. Any interference by the state into these voluntary market activities would be rightly considered a violation of basic human rights.
Nevertheless, in spite of states can and do engage in a variety of activities intended to hamper, prohibit, or regulate the exercise of private property rights based on whether or not a private party travels over an international boundary to conduct business.
Often, these efforts to limit property rights take the form of preventing buyer and seller from engaging in commerce. This can be done through physical barriers or by acts of a legislature intended to impose prohibitions on certain types of employment and other voluntary contracts.
In many cases, employers will only be allowed to employ persons with the correct government paperwork. Those who do not have the right paperwork, however, are in violation of government laws and may not be hired. In some cases, landlords are even prevented from renting their own property to potential renters who lack the correct arbitrary government designation.
In this, of course, we see little difference from regulatory regimes such as the war on drugs in which some plants are declared to be legal, while other plants are deemed illegal and verboten.
In all cases, of course, state enforcement of these arbitrary designations relies on the imposition of stiff fines and draconian prison sentences for many involved. This was certainly true in the case of William Hadden, a property owner who rented an apartment to non-government-approved persons:
The 69-year-old landlord was arrested and charged with dozens of crimes, including harboring fugitives and conspiracy — because his property manager rented to illegals. Although acquitted by a jury, he could have spent the rest of his life in prison, and been forced to forfeit the 60 or so units he owned jointly with his son to the State of Kentucky.
In his article "The Tragedy of Immigration Enforcement," Lew Rockwell noted that "If you give government a job to do, even one that seems justified in the abstract, it will use its power to make a terrible mess in practice." Rockwell goes in on in the article to note the many ways that federal control of immigration has empowered federal agencies to regulate, monitor, and control countless small business and employers across the US who have committed the "crime" of entering into employment contracts without federal approval.
Indeed, in recent decades, countless small business owners have been ruined by federal intervention in these voluntary employment contracts, while countless others have been driven into black and gray markets in attempts to exercise what should be regarded as unassailable property rights.
Those who advocate for this type of government control over private property often rationalize their position on the grounds that private owners and employers must be imprisoned, fined, harassed, and impoverished in the name of preventing immigrants from accessing the political system or the public purse.
Unfortunately, this sort of thinking confuses the issue of naturalization and immigration. If it is a concern — for whatever reason — that immigrants have access to political institutions and public funds, then the correct response is to directly limit that access.
Stealing the property of landlords and employers, on the other hand, — as part of a circuitous effort to stick it to immigrants — only destroys the free exercise of property rights while refusing to directly confront the issue at hand — a bloated welfare state and a broken system of naturalization.
In the wake of the terror attacks in England, France, Germany and elsewhere, can we finally admit that the war on terror is an utter and complete failure?10 Ways to Reduce Terrorism
So if the war on terror has failed, what should we do to stop terrorists?I. Stop Overthrowing the Moderates and Arming Crazies
We know it’s a difficult concept to grasp, but if we want to stop terrorism we should – (wait for it) – stop supporting terrorists.
Specifically, we’re arming the most violent radicals in the Middle East, as part of a really stupid geopolitical strategy to overthrow leaders we don’t like (more details below). And see this, this, this, this and this.
We’re directly arming and supporting folks who are committing summary execution, torture, kidnapping, and imposing Sharia law at the point of the gun.
But – strangely – we’re overthrowing the moderate Arabs who stabilized the region and denied jihadis a foothold.
If we want to stop terrorism, we need to stop supporting the terrorists.II. Stop Supporting the Dictators Who Fund Terrorists
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor of radical Islamic terrorists. The Saudis have backed ISIS and many other brutal terrorist groups. And the most pro-ISIS tweets allegedly come from Saudi Arabia.
According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers (see section VII for details). And declassified documents only amplify those connections. And the new Saudi king has ties to Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism.
And the Saudis – with U.S. support – back the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.
And yet the U.S. has been supporting the Saudis militarily, with NSA intelligence and in every other way possible for 70 years. And selling them massive amounts of arms. And kept them off of the list of restricted countries for immigration.
In addition, top American terrorism experts say that U.S. support for brutal and tyrannical countries in the Middle east – like Saudi Arabia – is one of the top motivators for Arab terrorists.
U.S. and NATO-supported Turkey is also massively supporting ISIS, provided chemical weapons used in the massacre of civilians, and has been bombing ISIS’ main on-the-ground enemy – Kurdish soldiers – using its air force.
The U.S.-backed dictatorships in Qatar and Bahrain also massively fund ISIS.
So if we stop supporting the tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain, we’ll get a two-fold reduction in terror:
III. Stop Bombing and Invading When a Negotiated Settlement Is Offered
(1) We’ll undermine the main terrorism supporters
(2) We’ll take away one of the main motivations driving terrorists: our support for the most repressive, brutal Arab dictatorships
The U.S. rejected offers by Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to surrender … and instead proceeded to wage war against those countries.
Security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
For example, James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies – and other experts say that foreign occupation is the main cause of terrorism. University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – agrees.
Indeed, the leaders of America and the UK were warned that the Iraq war would increase terrorism … before they pulled the trigger.
Negotiating peaceful deals whenever possible will drain the swamp of terrorists created by war and invasion.IV. Prioritize Stopping Terrorists Over Stopping the “Shia Crescent”
As U.S. actions in Syria demonstrate, our politicians are focused on curbing Russian and Iranian geopolitical influence much more than actually stopping ISIS and other terrorists.
Amazingly, the U.S. military described terror attacks on the U.S. as a “small price to pay for being a superpower“:
A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.
If we want to stop terrorism, we have to make it a priority.V. Stop Imperial Conquests for Arab Oil
The U.S. has undertaken regime change against Arab leaders we don’t like for six decades. We overthrew the leader of Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Iraq twice, Afghanistan twice, Turkey, Libya … and other oil-rich countries.
Neoconservatives planned regime change throughout the Middle East and North Africa yet again in 1991.
Top American politicians admit that the Iraq war was about oil, not stopping terrorism (documents from Britain show the same thing). Much of the war on terror is really a fight for natural gas. Or to force the last few hold-outs into dollars and private central banking. For example, see this email to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
We’ve fought the longest and most expensive wars in American history … but we’re less secure than before, and there are more terror attacks than ever (update).
If we want to stop terrorism, we have to stop overthrowing Arab leaders and invading Arab countries to grab their oil.VI. Stop Drone Assassinations of Innocent Civilians
And yet Trump has increased drone strikes by 432%.
If we want to stop creating new terrorists, we have to stop the drone strikes.VII. Stop Torture
Top U.S. terrorism and interrogation experts agree that torture creates more terrorists.
Indeed, the leaders of ISIS were motivated by U.S. torture. For example, Charlie Hebdo-murdering French terrorist Cherif Kouchi told a court in 2005 that he wasn’t radical until he learned about U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
And the Secretary of Defense any many other top military and intelligence experts say that torture doesn’t do anything to keep us safer.
If we want to stop creating new terrorists, we have to stop torturing … permanently.VIII. Stop Mass Surveillance
Indeed, even the NSA admits that it’s collecting too MUCH information to stop terror attacks.
In virtually every recent terror attack – in Boston, Paris, San Bernadino, Orlando, etc. – the suspect was already on a terror watch list, known to authorities, previously interviewed by the FBI, or the like. They were already known to authorities.
Mass surveillance simply doesn’t keep us safer. Indeed, instead of focusing on known bad guys and their associates, the government is flooded with surveillance data from spying on everybody. So they can’t do their job to stop terrorists.
Stop it.IX. Stop Covering Up 9/11
Government officials agree that 9/11 was state-sponsored terrorism … they just disagree on which state was responsible.
Because 9/11 was the largest terror attack on the U.S. in history – and all of our national security strategies are based on 9/11 – we can’t stop terror until we get to the bottom of what really happened, and which state was behind it.
The Co-Chair of the congressional investigation into 9/11 – Bob Graham – and 9/11 Commissioner and former Senator Bob Kerrey are calling for either a “permanent 9/11 commission” or a new 9/11 investigation to get to the bottom of it.
The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee (Bob Graham) said that the Paris terror attack, ISIS, and other terrorist developments are a result of failing to stand up to Saudi Arabia:
Again, others have different ideas about who was behind 9/11. But until we get to the bottom of it, terror attacks will continue.X. Stop Doing It Ourselves
The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:
By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.
The Washington Post reported in 2010:
The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks.
Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.
They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.
In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.
Indeed, the U.S. has created death squads in Latin America, Iraq and Syria.
Both [specialists Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber] say they saw their mission as a plan to “out-terrorize the terrorists,” in order to make the general populace more afraid of the Americans than they were of insurgent groups. In the interview with [Scott] Horton, Horton pressed Stieber:
“… a fellow veteran of yours from the same battalion has said that you guys had a standard operating procedure, SOP, that said – and I guess this is a reaction to some EFP attacks on y’all’s Humvees and stuff that killed some guys – that from now on if a roadside bomb goes off, IED goes off, everyone who survives the attack get out and fire in all directions at anybody who happens to be nearby … that this was actually an order from above. Is that correct? Can you, you know, verify that?
“Yeah, it was an order that came from Kauzlarich himself, and it had the philosophy that, you know, as Finkel does describe in the book, that we were under pretty constant threat, and what he leaves out is the response to that threat. But the philosophy was that if each time one of these roadside bombs went off where you don’t know who set it … the way we were told to respond was to open fire on anyone in the area, with the philosophy that that would intimidate them, to be proactive in stopping people from making these bombs …”
Terrorism is defined as:
The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
So McCord and Stieber are correct: this constitutes terrorism by American forces in Iraq. And American officials have admitted that the U.S. has engaged in numerous false flag attacks.
Defenders of current government policy say: “we have to do something to stop terrorists!”
Yes, we do …
But we must also stop doing the 10 things above which increase terrorism. We have to stop “throwing new bodies in the river.”
But the powers-that-be don’t want to change course … they gain tremendous power and influence through our current war on terror strategies.
For example, the military-complex grows rich through war … so endless war is a feature – not a bug – of our foreign policy.
Torture was about building a false justification for war.
Supporting the most radical Muslim leaders is about oil and power … “a small price to pay” to try to dominate the world.
A leading advisor to the U.S. military – the Rand Corporation – released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida“. The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security (see this, this and this).
As a press release about the study states:
“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”
We, the People, have to stand up and demand that our power-hungry leaders stop doing the things which give them more power … but are guaranteed to increase terrorism against us, the civilian population.
Update: House Intel Chairman Nunes spoke to reporters when he left the briefing at The White House and had some more stunning things to say:
And the punchline: there are "multiple FISA warrants outstanding against Trump" Nunes also told reporters:
Wow - Nunes just said there are "multiple FISA warrants out there" involving Trump.
— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) March 22, 2017
* * *
As we detailed earlier, it appears Trump may have been right, again.
Two days after FBI director Comey shot down Trump's allegation that Trump was being wiretapped by president Obama before the election, it appears that president Trump may have been on to something because moments ago, the House Intelligence Chairman, Devin Nunes, told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of President Trump's transition team, possibly including Trump himself, and the information was "widely disseminated" in intelligence reports.
As AP adds, Nunes said that President Donald Trump's communications may have been "monitored" during the transition period as part of an "incidental collection."
Nunes told a news conference Wednesday that the communications appear to be picked up through "incidental collection" and do not appear to be related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Trump associates' contacts with Russia. He says he believes the intelligence collections were done legally, although in light of the dramatic change in the plotline it may be prudent to reserve judgment on how "incidental" it was.
"I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition," Nunes told reporters.
"Details about U.S. persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports."
The information was "legally brought to him by sources who thought we should know it," Nunes said, though he provided little detail on the source.
BREAKING!!! Rep Devin Nunes (Intel Cmte Chmn):
There was "Incidental collection" of @realDonaldTrump thru IC surveillance <- BOMBSHELL
— Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) March 22, 2017
Nunes also said that "additional names" of Trump transition officials had been unmasked in the intelligence reports. He indicated that Trump's communications may have been swept up.
The House Intel Chair said he had viewed dozens of documents showing that the information had been incidentally collected. He said that he believes the information was legally collected. Nunes said that the intelligence has nothing to do with Russia and that the collection occurred after the presidential election.
Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the revelation and will inform the White House later today. Nunes' statement comes after he and other congressional leaders pushed back on Trump's claims that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower ahead of the election.
Nunes said Wednesday that it was unclear whether the information incidentally collected originated in Trump Tower.
The revelation comes in the wake of the committee's explosive hearing on Monday, at which FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau has been investigating Russia’s election hacking since July, which includes probing possible coordination between members of Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.
The meeting represented the panel’s first open hearing on its investigation into Russia’s election meddling and also featured testimony from NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
Nunes says the communications of Trump associates were also picked up, but he did not name those associates. He says the monitoring mostly occurred in November, December and January. He added that he learned of the collection through "sources" but did not specify those source
Politico adds that Nunes is going to the White House later Wednesday to brief the Trump administration on what he has learned, which he said came from "sources."
Nunes says he is "bothered" by this. Won't say whether or not intel community spied on Trump et. al. But says he is "concerned."
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 22, 2017
While there are no further details, we look forward to how the media narrative will change as a result of today's latest dramatic development.
In anti-intellectual email, Wellesley profs call engaging with controversial arguments an imposition on students
In an email to fellow faculty yesterday afternoon, a committee of Wellesley College professors made several startling recommendations about how they think future campus speakers should be chosen. If implemented, the proposals by the faculty Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity would have a profound impact on the quality and quantity of voices Wellesley students would be permitted to hear.
FIRE has obtained the email, sent by one of the signatories to a faculty listserv, and republished it in full below.
While paying lip service to free speech, the email is remarkable in its contempt for free and open dialogue on campus. Asserting that controversial speakers “impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” the committee members lament the fact that such speakers negatively impact students by forcing them to “invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments.”
And here we thought learning to effectively challenge views with which one disagreed was an important part of the educational process!
They point specifically to a recent appearance by Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, a self-described feminist who has criticized Title IX implementation and a “culture of sexual paranoia” on campuses.
— Freedom Project (@WellesleyFP) March 12, 2017
— Edify (@wburEDify) March 8, 2017
The committee recommends that those inviting any future speakers “consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups,” adding that the committee would be “happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.” They also argue that “standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley.”
But the implementation of such reforms would, in itself, establish a campus orthodoxy and a climate in which any speaking invitation might be subject to prior review by a select few faculty.
Kipnis, reached for comment by FIRE, disapproved.
“I find it absurd that six faculty members at Wellesley can call themselves defenders of free speech and also conflate my recent talk with bullying the disempowered,” Kipnis told FIRE in an email.
“What actually happened was that there was a lively back and forth after I spoke. The students were smart and articulate, including those who disagreed with me.”
“I’m going to go further and say — as someone who’s been teaching for a long time, and wants to see my students able to function in the world post-graduation — that protecting students from the ‘distress’ of someone’s ideas isn’t education, it’s a $67,000 babysitting bill.”
FIRE will be looking more into this development at Wellesley in the coming days.
* * *Full email below:
From: ?Michael P Jeffries? <?firstname.lastname@example.org?>
Date: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 1:43 PM
Subject: [FacStaffDiscuss] Statement from CERE faculty re: Laura Kipnis Freedom Project visit and aftermath
To: Faculty-Staff Discussion <?email@example.com?>
To: Wellesley Community
From: Faculty on Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity (CERE)
Re: Laura Kipnis visit and aftermath
Over the past few years, several guest speakers with controversial and objectionable beliefs have presented their ideas at Wellesley. We, the faculty in CERE, defend free speech and believe it is essential to a liberal arts education. However, as historian W. Jelani Cobb notes, “The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered. The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.”
There is no doubt that the speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley. We are especially concerned with the impact of speakers’ presentations on Wellesley students, who often feel the injury most acutely and invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments. Students object in order to affirm their humanity. This work is not optional; students feel they would be unable to carry out their responsibilities as students without standing up for themselves. Furthermore, we object to the notion that onlookers who are part of the faculty or administration are qualified to adjudicate the harm described by students, especially when so many students have come forward. When dozens of students tell us they are in distress as a result of a speaker’s words, we must take these complaints at face value.
What is especially disturbing about this pattern of harm is that in many cases, the damage could have been avoided. The speakers who appeared on campus presented ideas that they had published, and those who hosted the speakers could certainly anticipate that these ideas would be painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community. Laura Kipnis’s recent visit to Wellesley prompted students to respond to Kipnis’s presentation with a video post on Facebook.
Kipnis posted the video on her page, and professor Tom Cushman left a comment that publicly disparaged the students who produced the video. Professor Cushman apologized for his remarks, but in light of these developments, we recommend the following.
First, those who invite speakers to campus should consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups. We in CERE are happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.
Second, standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley. In the case of an academic speaker, we ask that the Wellesley host not only consider whether the speaker holds credentials, but whether the presenter has standing in his/her/their discipline. This is not a matter of ideological bias. Pseudoscience suggesting that men are more naturally equipped to excel in STEM fields than women, for example, has no place at Wellesley. Similar arguments pertaining to race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and other identity markers are equally inappropriate.
Third, faculty and administrators should step up in defense of themselves and all members of the Wellesley community. The responsibility to defend the disempowered does not rest solely with students, and the injuries suffered by students, faculty, and staff are not contained within the specific identity group in question; they ripple throughout our community and prevent Wellesley from living out its mission.
Apple Inc. has acquired Workflow, a popular mobile app for automating tasks, according to a TechCrunch report late Wednesday. Workflow allows users to group together a number of actions to complete tasks, such as creating GIFs from photos, posting photos to different social networks at once and calculating tips. "We are thrilled to be joining Apple," Workflow co-founder Ari Weinstein told TechCrunch. Apple confirmed the acquisition, but did not disclose the price. In 2015, the app won an Apple Design Award for its accessibility features. TechCrunch said the app, which had been offered for $2.99 on Apple's App Store, would be made free later Wednesday.
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