Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Most Scientific Findings Are Wrong or Useless; Reason, 8/26/16

Ronald Bailey, Reason; Most Scientific Findings Are Wrong or Useless:
""Science, the pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble." So begins "Saving Science," an incisive and deeply disturbing essay by Daniel Sarewitz at The New Atlantis. As evidence, Sarewitz, a professor at Arizona State University's School for Future Innovation and Society, points to reams of mistaken or simply useless research findings that have been generated over the past decades...
In his 1972 essay "Science and Trans-Science," the physicist Alvin Weinberg noted that science is increasingly being asked to address such issues as the deleterious side effects of new technologies, or how to deal with social problems such as crime and poverty. These are questions that "though they are, epistemologically speaking, questions of fact and can be stated in the language of science, they are unanswerable by science; they transcend science." Such trans-scientific questions inevitably involve values, assumptions, and ideology. Consequently, attempting to answer trans-scientific questions, Weinberg wrote, "inevitably weaves back and forth across the boundary between what is known and what is not known and knowable."...
Ultimately, science can be rescued if researchers can be directed more toward solving real world problems rather than pursuing the beautiful lie. Sarewitz argues that in the future, the most valuable scientific institutions will be those that are held accountable and give scientists incentives to solve urgent concrete problems. The goal of such science will be to produce new useful technologies, not new useless studies. In the meantime, Sarewitz has made a strong case that contemporary "science isn't self-correcting, it's self-destructing.""

Homework revisited; Radio Times, WHYY, 8/31/16

[Podcast] Marty Moss-Coane, Radio Times, WHYY; Homework revisited:
"Guests: Harris Cooper, Brian Gill, Jessica Rosenworcel
It’s a continuous complaint: too much homework! It comes from kids, parents, and sometimes even teachers. But are children really spending too much time on assignments out of school? What are the benefits of having children continue their studies after class? This hour we look at what the research says about homework and the role parents should play helping their kids deal with it. Mary Cummings-Jordan talks with one of the leading researchers on homework, HARRIS COOPER, professor of psychology at Duke University. We’ll also learn about the history of the homework debate which has been raging for over a century from Mathematica Policy Research’s BRIAN GILL. And these days, most assignments are online but five million families with school-age kids don’t have access to high-speed Internet. We’ll talk to FCC Commissioner JESSICA ROSENWORCEL about the “homework gap” and how to close the digital divide."

Companies are making money from our personal data – but at what cost?; Guardian, 8/31/16

Jathan Sadowski, Guardian; Companies are making money from our personal data – but at what cost? :
"Data appropriation is a form of exploitation because companies use data to create value without providing people with comparable compensation...
In short, rampant practices of data appropriation allow corporations and governments to build their wealth and power, without the headache of obtaining consent and providing compensation for the resource they desire.
Data appropriation is surely an ethical issue. But by framing it as theft, we can lay the groundwork for policies that also make it a legal issue. We need new models of data ownership and protection that reflect the role information has in society.
In the Gilded Age 2.0, a laissez-faire attitude toward data has encouraged a new class of robber barons to arise. Rather than allow them to unscrupulously take, trade and hoard our data, we must reclaim their ill-gotten gains and reign in the data imperative."

Drugs And Privilege: Big Business, Congress And The EpiPen; Huffington Post, 8/31/16

Michael Winship, Huffington Post; Drugs And Privilege: Big Business, Congress And The EpiPen:
"[Mylan CEO Heather Bresch] should resign for price gouging rather than get a raise, but like so many of her fellow executives Bresch sails serenely on as her fellow Americans drown in health care debt. Her career and the success of her company epitomize everything that so enrages every voter who believes that the fix is in and that the system is weighted in favor of those with big money and serious connections...
And even at half-price, the cost of an EpiPen remains an outrage. In fact, some estimate that the dose of epinephrine used in the injector may really cost as little as a dollar.
In other words, this is one more, big old scam — yet another case of big business trying to pull the wool over the citizens’ eyes and pick our pockets while the government and our politicians mostly look the other way.
The Mylan mess is the cozy relationship between regulators and the regulated in a nutshell. Throughout government, politics and business, cash contributions are made, connections are used, strings are pulled and favors are requested and returned. So the system wins again, corrupt as hell.
But take notice. Realize that the rest of us are more and more aware of how we’re being had — and that we truly must be heard and heeded. Unless the tiny-hearted, gold-digging CEOs of America’s corporations and our leaders get the dollar signs out of their eyes and come to their senses, they are writing a prescription for an angry public response that not even their bought-and-paid-for Congress can hold at bay."

Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto plagiarized thesis for law degree: report; Associated Press in Mexico City via Guardian, 8/22/16

Associated Press in Mexico City via Guardian; Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto plagiarized thesis for law degree: report:
"President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico heavily plagiarized the thesis for his law degree, according to an investigation by a local news outlet...
It said 29% of the thesis was material lifted from other works, including 20 paragraphs copied word-for-word from a book written by former president Miguel de la Madrid without citation or mention in the bibliography...
In 2006, a scholar at the Brookings Institution found that now-Russian president Vladimir Putin in earning his graduate degree had copied pages of material from a book written by two American professors.
In 2012, Hungary’s President Pal Schmitt – whose role was largely ceremonial – resigned after a scandal over his doctoral dissertation.
Earlier this year, a German university decided to let the country’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, keep her doctorate after plagiarized passages were found in her dissertation."

Am I a good person? You asked Google – here’s the answer; Guardian, 8/31/16

Andrew Brown, Guardian; Am I a good person? You asked Google – here’s the answer:
"The beginning of being a good person is the knowledge that you may not be, or that you have acted as a bad one would. After that it gets complicated.
The most obvious complication, perhaps, is that there is no agreement on what constitutes a good person. In fact there’s no agreement on whether we should even agree who a good person is...
The only certain thing about this question is that if you’ve never thought to ask it, the answer has to be “no”."

The Real Clinton Foundation Revelation; New York Times, 8/31/16

Richard W. Painter, New York Times; The Real Clinton Foundation Revelation:
"Lots of people and groups get favorable treatment, and most of these are interested in making money rather than giving it away.
The problem is that it does not matter that no laws were broken, or that the Clinton Foundation is principally about doing good deeds. It does not matter that favoritism is inescapable in the federal government and that the Clinton Foundation stories are really nothing new. The appearances surrounding the foundation are problematic, and it is and will be an albatross around Mrs. Clinton’s neck...
I’m a Republican, but I believe that Hillary Clinton is the only qualified major party candidate in the race and she should become president. Yet to win, and certainly to succeed as president, she needs to demonstrate that she understands how much appearances matter, as well as facts and law, and that the president should not unnecessarily open herself up to attack."

Former Bush ethics lawyer backs Clinton, warns on foundation; Politico, 8/31/16

Nick Gass, Politico; Former Bush ethics lawyer backs Clinton, warns on foundation:
"Hillary Clinton is the "only qualified candidate in the race and she should become president," President George W. Bush's former chief White House ethics lawyer wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, while calling on the Democratic nominee to do more to assuage the fears and suspicions about the looming presence of the Clinton Foundation as an influence on policy.
"There is little if any evidence that federal ethics laws were broken by Mrs. Clinton or anyone working for her at the State Department in their dealings with the foundation," wrote Richard W. Painter, currently a law professor at the University of Minnesota. "Unfortunately, the foundation is still fuel for Mrs. Clinton’s persistent critics."
Pointing out that Clinton's critics have yet to find proof of any violations of statutes or ethics regulations, Painter acknowledged that there was likely favoritism but concluded that no laws had been broken."

Professor's Response to Twitter Slur Goes Viral; Inside Higher Ed, 8/30/16

Inside Higher Ed; Professor's Response to Twitter Slur Goes Viral:
[Kip Currier: Reading this story about Prof. Eric Mendenhall conjured up for me the memorable "When they go low, we go high" maxim from First Lady Michelle Obama's 2016 DNC speech.]
"The fall semester has just started but Eric Mendenhall, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, already has schooled the Twitterverse on how to shut down slurs. Mendenhall said a student who had just followed him on Twitter posted that "My genetics teachers is a faggot." Believing the comment to be about him, the professor had this to say..."

How the Mafia Murdered the Townspeople of Amatrice; Daily Beast, 8/31/16

Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast; How the Mafia Murdered the Townspeople of Amatrice:
"What struck most people first was why the Romolo Capranica primary school in Amatrice had been destroyed. After all, the city paid more than €700,000 in 2013 to renovate the structure, including high-tech anti-seismic features that are supposed to be in place in any public building. But when investigators looked up the building code records, the seals and stamps that proved compliance were apparently faked and fudged. In essence, the documents meant to ensure anti-seismic protection measures were installed in a primary school in an earthquake zone had been faked. The school fell because someone had cheated the system.
And now, Italy’s chief anti-Mafia prosecutor, Franco Roberti, is warning that, if left to its own devices, the mob will strike again and infiltrate the eventual rebuilding contracts in the area."

Cutting Ties to the Clinton Foundation; New York Times, 8/30/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Cutting Ties to the Clinton Foundation:
"The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity. If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton."

EpiPen furor brings protesters to Mylan’s headquarters; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/31/16

Patricia Sabatini, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; EpiPen furor brings protesters to Mylan’s headquarters:
"Roughly two dozen people led by the watchdog group Public Citizen gathered outside to express disgust over the skyrocketing cost of the auto-injector whose price has surged some 500 percent in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed on to petitions backing that view, and the group delivered the piles of paper to prove it...
Several protesters, including retired state senator Jim Ferlo, criticized Mylan for paying CEO Heather Bresch nearly $19 million last year funded in part by collecting “super profits” on the EpiPen. “I consider this morally repugnant behavior by this CEO,” Mr. Ferlo said...
Earlier, Mr. Ferlo and others called on Congress to enact reforms to ensure that expensive life-saving medications, including cancer and hepatitis drugs, can be afforded by everyone who needs them.
“Health care is a human right,” said Ed Grystar, chair of the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare."

Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds; Washington Post, 8/31/16

Lisa Rein, Washington Post; Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds:
"Thousands of employees who review patents for the federal government potentially cheated taxpayers out of at least $18.3 million as they billed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost 300,000 hours they never worked, according to a new investigation...
The investigation scheduled for release Wednesday by the independent watchdog for the Commerce Department, the patent office’s parent agency, determined that the real scale of fraud is probably double those numbers..."
Investigators also found widespread time and attendance abuse at another Commerce agency, the U.S. Census Bureau, where employees in the small hiring office overcharged the government for thousands of hours of time they never worked. The fraud, also carried out by supervisors, involved 40 employees, more than half of the staff of the small office."

Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings And The University Of Chicago; On Point, WBUR, 8/31/16

[Podcast] On Point, WBUR; Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings And The University Of Chicago:
"The University of Chicago is the latest school to push back against trigger warnings and safe spaces. We’ll look at the debate over political correctness on campus.
Stephanie Greene, senior at the University of Chicago, majoring in English. President of the Organization of Black Students. Member of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs Student Advisory Committee. (@all_worn_out)
Cosmo Albrecht, junior at the University of Chicago, majoring in public policy. Community and government liaison for the University of Chicago student government. Member of the student group, "Chicago Student Action." (@cosmo730)
Charles Lipson, professor of political science at the University of Chicago. (@Charles_Lipson)
Jonathan Chait, staff writer for New York magazine. (@jonathanchait)"

I’m a black UChicago graduate. Safe spaces got me through college.; Vox, 8/29/16

Cameron Okeke, Vox; I’m a black UChicago graduate. Safe spaces got me through college. :
"UChicago should know that trigger warnings and safe spaces exist to give those with firsthand experience a way to engage without sacrificing their well-being or safety. This accessibility is the key to a truly open marketplace of ideas and an essential pillar of academic freedom. Recklessly painting trigger warnings and safe spaces as enemies to academic freedom will only make UChicago a more hostile environment for marginalized first-years.
Being diverse isn't easy and our diversity ain’t free. Don’t let us in if you can’t make room for us."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pennsylvania wades into open data; GCN, 8/26/16

Matt Leonard, GCN; Pennsylvania wades into open data:
"The data currently available on OpenDataPA supports Gov. Tom Wolf’s three governing objectives -- education, employment and government services -- includes prison population numbers, school performance profiles and summary information on well inspections. The state also plans to release datasets from other state agencies on the site...
The administration’s main goals for releasing this data is three-fold: accountability, modernization and innovation. The portal will allow citizens to keep track of government projects, find this information in one place and use if to “make data-driven decisions.”"

Feds Target 'Predatory' Publishers; Inside Higher Ed, 8/29/16

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed; Feds Target 'Predatory' Publishers:
"The Federal Trade Commission on Friday filed a complaint against the academic journal publisher OMICS Group and two of its subsidiaries, saying the publisher deceives scholars and misrepresents the editorial rigor of its journals.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, marks the first time the FTC has gone after what are often known as “predatory” publishers. Such publishers exploit open-access publishing as a way to charge steep fees to researchers who believe their work will be printed in legitimate journals, when in fact the journals may publish anyone who pays and lack even a basic peer-review process."

Fired Professor Shot 2 Men Outside Chappaqua Deli, Police Say; New York Times, 8/29/16

Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times; Fired Professor Shot 2 Men Outside Chappaqua Deli, Police Say:
"In October 2002, Mr. Chao joined Mount Sinai as a research assistant professor. He stayed at Mount Sinai until May 2009, when he received a letter of termination from Dr. Charney for “research misconduct,” according to a lawsuit that Mr. Chao filed against the hospital and Dr. Charney, among other parties, in 2010. He went through an appeals process, and was officially terminated in March 2010.
“In informing his colleagues of his termination, Mount Sinai/MSSM stated that Dr. Chao had been ‘fired for data fraud,’” the lawsuit said. The case was dismissed, and Mr. Chao lost on appeal."

Sci-Hub Controversy Triggers Publishers’ Critique of Librarian; Library Journal, 8/25/16

Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Sci-Hub Controversy Triggers Publishers’ Critique of Librarian:
"“I was surprised that AAP would take the tactic of trying to say ‘don’t talk about Sci-Hub,’ as if ignoring the problem, or not shining light on it, would make it go away,” Joseph told LJ. “That seems kind of a backwards way to approach this issue to me, because what we’re seeing, frankly, is Sci-Hub really growing in popularity.”
Sci-Hub’s various clashes with the world of scholarly publishing, Joseph noted, is helping to raise awareness of the issues surrounding journal access outside the library walls. “It’s not just a library problem…. When researchers are going to the lengths of using an illegal resource to get access, I think it’s really showing institutions that it’s not a departmental problem. It’s an institutional problem.”
And the problem doesn’t only lie within academia, Gardner added. As a member of ALA, he said, it would be unethical for him to promote Sci-Hub’s use given the constraints of the legal system. “But I do think that copyright is far too strong, and that the system is in need of reform. The reason why services like Sci-Hub exist is because we have a copyright system which is too draconian.”
“This is an area where tempers run high, and I think that reasonable people can disagree,” he said. “There are a lot of people, scholars and librarians, who think that using Sci-Hub is civil disobedience and I’m personally very sympathetic to that argument. But it’s also obvious to me that under the current legal system, this is totally illegal.”
Gardner is working on research that he will present at ACRL’s 2017 conference, again using data from the Science survey to examine Sci-Hub’s potential impact on inter-library loan practices."

Monday, August 29, 2016

The New Cheating Economy; Chronicle of Higher Education, 8/28/16

Brad Wolverton, Chronicle of Higher Education; The New Cheating Economy:
"Business is booming right under colleges’ noses. It’s not just papers and assignments anymore. Now it’s the whole course."

Colin Kaepernick protest has 49ers fans burning their jerseys; Washington Post, 8/28/16

Cindy Boren, Washington Post; Colin Kaepernick protest has 49ers fans burning their jerseys:
"Kaepernick’s team spoke of the symbolism of the anthem while also pointing out that Kaepernick’s protest was in keeping with “such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression.” His coach, Chip Kelly, supported his right to protest.
The NFL, in a statement, said that players are “encouraged but not required” to stand for the anthem and O’Connor, among others, defended Kaepernick, writing: “This is what American servicemen and women have defended here and abroad — Kaepernick’s right to sing the national anthem at the top of his lungs, and to refuse honor it altogether. As long as he’s not interfering with his teammates’ right to make their own red, white and blue choices, what’s the problem here?”"

A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories; New York Times, 8/28/16

Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times; A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories:
"In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia.
“Moscow views world affairs as a system of special operations, and very sincerely believes that it itself is an object of Western special operations,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, who helped establish the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008. “I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories.”
The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.
The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia."

Three days after removing human editors, Facebook is already trending fake news; Washington Post, 8/29/16

Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post; Three days after removing human editors, Facebook is already trending fake news:
"Facebook announced Friday that humans would no longer write descriptions for its Trending topics list, handing over even more responsibility to the already-powerful algorithm. But just days after the policy change, Facebook’s algorithm chose a very bad, factually incorrect headline to explain to its news-hungry users why Megyn Kelly was trending.
The headline, which was visible to anyone who hovered over Megyn Kelly’s name on the Trending list, refers to the Fox News personality as a “traitor” and claims that the cable channel has “Kick[ed] her out for backing Hillary.” (They have not.)
The article was featured prominently as the top news story on Facebook about Megyn Kelly as of Monday morning, until her name disappeared from the Trending list about 9:30 a.m. The story is far down the rabbit hole of junk information, a typo-ridden aggregation of an aggregation about a clash of personalities between Kelly and Bill O’Reilly."

Your privacy doesn’t matter at the U.S. border; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/29/16

Noah Feldman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Your privacy doesn’t matter at the U.S. border:
"The lesson from all this isn’t just that you approach a border at your own risk. It’s that major exceptions to our basic liberties should be interpreted narrowly, not broadly. Searching a reporter’s phone or anyone’s data isn’t within the government’s plausible set of purposes.
There are two ways to fix the problem. One is for Congress to pass a law that prohibits such border searches, as was proposed unsuccessfully in 2008 and 2009.
If Congress won’t act, though, it’s up to the Supreme Court to repair the damage it did in 1886 and 1977. It doesn’t need to overturn its precedent, just narrow it to cover the circumstances that Congress actually had in mind in 1789, namely border searches for goods being shipped illegally or without duty. That doesn’t include data. It would be a big improvement in constitutional doctrine — and civil liberties."

Who is to blame for the EpiPen hike? Drug monopolies – not evil CEOs; Guardian, 8/29/16

Colin Holtz, Guardian; Who is to blame for the EpiPen hike? Drug monopolies – not evil CEOs:
"Instead of playing whack-a-mole, we need to break the monopolies themselves.
Many companies have effectively outsourced their R&D to federally funded academic research. Under existing law, federal funding of R&D requires companies to offer the medicine on “reasonable terms”. If they do not, we can demand generic versions for federal programs like VA hospitals, and pay a royalty in return. Or, we can simply break the patent for everyone.
In fact, we may not be limited to publicly funded pharmaceuticals. The federal government technically has the power to suspend a patent altogether. In 2003, the Bush administration threatened the maker of anthrax medicine Cipro with exactly that power.
Moving forward, all new patents could include far-stricter cost protections that link prices to median income. Or, if you prefer a more flexible system, you could incentivize innovation with hefty cash prizes, but place the resulting drugs in the public domain."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

University of Chicago Strikes Back Against Campus Political Correctness; New York Times, 8/26/16

Richard Perez-Pena, Mitch Smith, Stephanie Saul, New York Times; University of Chicago Strikes Back Against Campus Political Correctness:
"Last year, a faculty Committee on Freedom of Expression, appointed by Dr. Zimmer and headed by Professor Stone, produced a report stating that “it is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”...
Many academics say the concerns reflected in the University of Chicago letter, while real, are overblown. “I asked faculty if any had ever been asked to give trigger warnings,” said Dr. Roth, of Wesleyan. “I think one person said they had.”
There often seems to be a generational divide on campus speech — young people demanding greater sensitivity, and their elders telling them to get thicker skins — but a survey by the Knight Foundation and Gallup gives a murkier picture. It found that 78 percent of college students said they preferred a campus “where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints,” including offensive and biased speech, over a campus where such speech is prohibited. Students were actually more likely to give that response than adults generally.
But when asked specifically about “slurs and other language on campus that is intentionally offensive to certain groups,” 69 percent of college students said that colleges should be allowed to impose restrictions on such expression."

University of Chicago’s P.C. Crackdown Is Really About Keeping Right-Wing Donors Happy; Daily Beast, 8/26/16

Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast; University of Chicago’s P.C. Crackdown Is Really About Keeping Right-Wing Donors Happy:
"By coincidence, the U Chicago dean’s letter came out the same week that the National Labor Relations Board ruled that teaching and research assistants, who work for years as barely-paid serfs, and who until now have frequently been banned from organizing a union, are entitled to do so. The University of Chicago sent out another letter, this time to all faculty and graduate students, alleging (with no evidence, since none exists) that such a union could “be detrimental to students’ education and preparation for future careers.”
That kind of issue points toward the real crises affecting American higher education, issues that have nothing to do with Halloween costumes and everything to do with decreases in state funding, increases in corporate funding, the demise of tenure, and outrageous spirals of indebtedness and even poverty among academics. Funny, Dean Ellison didn’t provide any trigger warnings for those."

Vintage posters of America's national parks – in pictures; Guardian, 8/26/16

Sarah Gilbert, Guardian; Vintage posters of America's national parks – in pictures:
"A collection of posters created to promote tourism to the national parks is part of the creative legacy of the New Deal developed by Franklin D Roosevelt. Between 1938 and 1941, the Works Progress Administration and its Federal Arts Project designed a series of artworks promoting, and inspired by, the landscapes and wildlife of the parks. The collection is housed in the Library of Congress"

National Monuments From Mr. Obama; New York Times, 8/26/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; National Monuments From Mr. Obama:
"On Wednesday, a day before the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, Mr. Obama designated 87,500 acres of Maine’s north woods as a national monument, to be added to the park system and protected by the service against commercial exploitation. The transaction cost the government nothing. The land belonged to Roxanne Quimby, who lived in the Maine woods before making a fortune as a co-founder of Burt’s Bees and accumulating property with the idea of turning it into a national park. Her family also provided an endowment of $20 million for maintenance.
Then, on Friday, Mr. Obama used the same authority to greatly expand a national marine monument (established a decade ago by President George W. Bush) off the coast of his native Hawaii. The monument will encompass 582,578 square miles of land and sea, and provide protection from commercial exploitation for an estimated 7,000 species that are increasingly stressed by climate change.
Both designations drew criticism — from timber interests in Maine, fishermen in Hawaii and officials in both places who resent federal stewardship. Though neither designation will impose economic hardship, there is invariably complaining whenever Washington asserts a public interest in land that states and private interests think should be theirs. But if presidents waited until there was complete agreement, Teddy Roosevelt would never have protected the Grand Canyon and Franklin Roosevelt would never have protected Joshua Tree National Park."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trump calling Hillary Clinton a bigot is the tactic of a 5-year-old; Los Angeles Times, 8/26/16

David Horsey, Los Angeles Times; Trump calling Hillary Clinton a bigot is the tactic of a 5-year-old:
"Even people who oppose Clinton and loathe her political views — maybe even those who believe that she is corrupt and think she should be “locked up” — would have a hard time agreeing that she is a bigot. Perhaps Trump does not know what the word actually means. Given his record and the company he keeps, he should.
Back in the early 1970s, around the same time a young Clinton was going undercover in Alabama to expose discrimination against black children in segregated academies, a young Trump and his father were sued by the Nixon Justice Department for blatant discrimination against blacks in Trump-owned rental housing. In a CNN interview Thursday, Trump misrepresented the nature of that suit and how it was settled. He claimed that the resolution of the case proved there had been no wrongdoing. The record, however, shows that the Trumps were required to take remedial actions and were later sued again when they failed to follow through."

The singular danger of Trump; Washington Post, 8/26/16

Dana Milbank, Washington Post; The singular danger of Trump:
"Next week, I’ll be talking about Trump, and how we speak to children about Trump, to teachers at my daughter’s school. The school is understandably wary about appearing to take sides in a political contest. But I’ll say such reluctance should be set aside, because Trump stands opposed to the civic values we teach children...
So how do we talk to children about Trump? We tell them what Holocaust survivors have told me: that what Trump is doing reminds them of 1930s Germany, and that grownups are not going to let that happen here."

"Sticker Shock"; robrogers, 8/26/16

Rob Rogers,; "Sticker Shock"

Don’t ask us for trigger warnings or safe spaces, the University of Chicago tells freshmen; Washington Post, 8/25/16

Susan Svrluga, Washington Post; Don’t ask us for trigger warnings or safe spaces, the University of Chicago tells freshmen:
"“You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement,” John “Jay” Ellison, the dean, wrote in a letter that accompanied a book, “Academic Freedom and the Modern University: The Experience of the University of Chicago.”
“At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ethicists scoff at Clinton Foundation transition plan; Politico, 8/25/16

Katy O'Donnell, Politico; Ethicists scoff at Clinton Foundation transition plan:
"The Clinton Foundation’s vague timetable to limit its involvement with overseas programs, and its insistence that Chelsea Clinton remain on its board, raise red flags for ethics watchdogs even as the charity vows to avoid conflicts of interest in a Hillary Clinton presidency."

Mylan to provide EpiPen cost assistance as CEO is asked to testify on price hike; Guardian, 8/25/16

Jana Kasperkevic, Guardian; Mylan to provide EpiPen cost assistance as CEO is asked to testify on price hike:
"Even as Mylan takes steps to make its EpiPen more affordable, lawmakers have called on Bersch to appear before US Congress and explain why the price of EpiPen went up by 461% since Mylan acquired it in 2007.
“We are concerned that these drastic price increases could have a serious effect on the health and well-being of every day Americans,” senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill told Bresch in a letter. “As leaders of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, we are particularly concerned that seniors have access to EpiPen because, according to Mylan’s website, older Americans ‘may be at an increased risk of having a more severe anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to biting and stinging insects’.”
They requested that Bresch testify within the next two weeks.
Even as Mylan was announcing the steps that it is taking to make its EpiPen more affordable, Sarah Jessica Parker issued a statement announcing that she had terminated her relationship with the company. Earlier this year, the Sex and the City actress served as a spokesperson for Mylan, helping raise awareness about anaphylaxis and life-threatening allergies."

The Age of Post-Truth Politics; New York Times, 8/24/16

William Davies, New York Times; The Age of Post-Truth Politics:
"Facts hold a sacred place in Western liberal democracies. Whenever democracy seems to be going awry, when voters are manipulated or politicians are ducking questions, we turn to facts for salvation.
But they seem to be losing their ability to support consensus...
The sense is widespread: We have entered an age of post-truth politics...
We are in the middle of a transition from a society of facts to a society of data. During this interim, confusion abounds surrounding the exact status of knowledge and numbers in public life, exacerbating the sense that truth itself is being abandoned.
The place to start in understanding this transition is with the spread of “smart” technologies into everyday life, sometimes called the “internet of things.”"

A Cyber-Psychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online; Diane Rehm Show, 8/25/16

[Podcast] Diane Rehm Show; A Cyber-Psychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online:
"If you’ve watched the TV show “CSI: Cyber” then you know a little bit about Mary Aiken. She’s a forensic cyber psychologist, and the fictional television program was inspired by her real life work advising law enforcement on virtual crime. Aiken says people take risks online they never would in the “real world”, a phenomenon that puts vulnerable populations at risk, particularly the young. In a new book, “The Cyber Effect”, Aiken explains how the act of going online changes our behavior in fundamental ways. From what happens in the “dark web”, to issues raised by digital selfies, to the growing problem of “cyberchondria” Aiken introduces us to some of the many ways our behavior changes online.
Mary Aiken author, "The Cyber Effect"; forensic cyberpsychologist and director of the CyberPsychology Reserach Network"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Corporate Ethics In The Era Of Millennials; NPR, 8/24/16

Paul A. Argenti, NPR; Corporate Ethics In The Era Of Millennials:
"Corporate social responsibility has been added to the growing list of demands that investors, customers and employees present to companies.
In 2015, 81 percent of Fortune 500 companies published sustainability reports, up from 20 percent in 2011, according to a report released by the Governance & Accountability Institute in June. Companies are publicizing their ethical standards and responsibility efforts, and consumers are punishing companies that appear to fall short. Even as headlines proclaim "greed is back," companies are investing time and resources into instituting more ethical practices."

A Call For Mylan CEO Heather Bresch To Reduce EpiPen Price And Resign; Huffington Post, 8/24/16

Andrew B. Palumbo, Huffington Post; A Call For Mylan CEO Heather Bresch To Reduce EpiPen Price And Resign:
"The EpiPen’s only legitimate U.S. competitor, Sanofi’s Auvi-Q, was voluntarily recalled nationwide in October 2015 after dangerous issues of inaccurate dosage delivery arose that could include a failure to administer the life-saving epinephrine. Immediately, millions of families with life threatening allergies turned to Mylan to secure EpiPens.
The result was a de facto monopoly for Mylan. Since Mylan secured the rights to the EpiPen in 2007, they have steadily raised prices over 460 percent (from an average wholesale of $56.64 to $317.82). CEO Heather Bresch – daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia – increased her own compensation by more than 670 percent from $2.5M to $18.9M during the same time.
With no other competitors in the United States, families are forced to pay extortionate rates for what amounts to $1.00 worth of epinephrine per EpiPen."

Media as Referee? Not Anymore; New York Times, 8/23/16

[Podcast] Michael Barbaro, New York Times; Media as Referee? Not Anymore:
"The syringe started off as a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton’s health posted on a fringe right-wing website. It traveled to the legitimizing megaphone of prime-time cable news. And it ended, after an agonizing journey through the new realities of the campaign media, with a single phone call that debunked its entire existence. There was no syringe.
Along the way, the syringe that wasn’t revealed everything there is to know about the truth, the media and this topsy-turvy presidential campaign. On the latest episode of The Run-Up, we explore what happened to truth in this campaign and who’s to blame for the new world of truth-shading and outright falsehoods."

The latest Clinton emails show what an ethics agreement shouldn’t look like; Washington Post, 8/23/16

Editorial Board, Washington Post; The latest Clinton emails show what an ethics agreement shouldn’t look like:
"“SECRETARY CLINTON’S ethics agreement at the time did not preclude other State Department officials from engaging with, or having contact with, the Clinton Foundation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Fox News, following the release of new information on interactions between staff at Hillary Clinton’s State Department and her family’s foundation. That does not mean that everything Ms. Clinton’s senior advisers did was pristine. Rather, it suggests the ethics agreement was not strong enough.
As with the last data release, the new information, provided by the conservative activist group Judicial Watch and Fox News, does not show or imply corruption stemming from the relationship between Ms. Clinton and the Clinton Foundation...
The foundation undoubtedly does worthwhile work. Should Ms. Clinton win, all of that work and all of the foundation’s assets should be spun off to an organization with no ties to the first family."

The Clintons’ ethics test: Government watchdogs weigh in on the Clinton Foundation’s latest maneuvers; Salon, 8/23/16

Simon Maloy, Salon; The Clintons’ ethics test: Government watchdogs weigh in on the Clinton Foundation’s latest maneuvers:
"What has to happen, given that history, is that a Clinton administration’s dealings with people and entities linked to the Clinton Foundation would have to be handled with a high level of transparency. Per Holman, the Office of Government Ethics “could easily run through the donor lists to the foundation, identify the potential conflicts of interests of any administration actions and require, or ask for, full disclosure of the process.” POGO’s Amey noted that there are existing safeguards protecting against ethical breaches by government officials – recusal processes, mandatory divestments, etc – and those will have to be enforced to the highest degree. “We need to make sure that we go as far as we can with those initiatives,” says Amey, “to make sure that the White House is as clean as possible.”
So while it’s certainly welcome that the Clintons have taken steps to safeguard against further conflicts of interest through the Clinton Foundation, there’s still quite a backlog of donor history that can still cause them ethical trouble (to say nothing of the fact that the foundation will apparently continue taking foreign money up to the point that Hillary wins election). How much political damage they absorb from that will be determined largely by how transparent a future Clinton administration is willing to be."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

U.S. lawmakers demand investigation of $100 price hike of lifesaving EpiPens; Washington Post, 8/23/16

Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post; U.S. lawmakers demand investigation of $100 price hike of lifesaving EpiPens:
"The medication itself isn’t expensive. Analysts calculate that the dosage contained in a single pen is worth about $1. It’s the company’s proprietary pen injector that makes up the bulk of the cost...
A profile in Fortune in 2015 described her rise in colorful terms:
Bresch, a 46-year-old who’s spent more than half her life at Mylan, has steered the company’s transformation from a quirky outfit run out of a West Virginia trailer to a global operator with 30,000 employees in 145 countries. Born into politics—her father, Joe Manchin, is a longtime West Virginia Democratic stalwart who’s now a U.S. senator—Bresch has mastered the regulatory world. Since becoming CEO in 2012, she’s overseen a major revenue increase; Mylan projects sales of up to $10.1 billion this year, up from $6.1 billion in 2011…
Under Bresch’s leadership, Mylan has also stumbled through a series of ethically messy mishaps and public relations gaffes. Mylan’s inversion took place just as uproar over the tactic reached a fever pitch on Capitol Hill. (Among the politicians who denounced the move was Bresch’s own father, though he later changed his mind.) Critics have called out the company for unusually high executive pay packages, questionable use of company jets, and murky relationships with board members. Then there’s “the Heather Bresch situation,” as she herself calls it, a scandal surrounding her executive MBA credentials—when you Google her name, the episode still ranks even higher than her official Mylan bio."

First Thiel, now the Trumps: how billionaires threaten free speech; Guardian, 8/23/16

Trevor Timm, New York Times; First Thiel, now the Trumps: how billionaires threaten free speech:
"The Guardian reported late on Monday night that Melania Trump’s lawyers have sent threatening letters and are considering filing lawsuits against a variety of media organizations – including the Daily Mail, Politico and the Week – for reporting on rumors of Melania Trump’s past, including her alleged immigration status when she came to the United States.
This is the quintessential example of the disturbing precedent Peter Thiel has just set by creating a blueprint for billionaires to destroy news organizations they do not like. He has shown that all they need is a little persistence. And in a media landscape that is increasingly dominated by the rich and powerful, that should give even Gawker’s most ardent critics pause...
In the end, even if you think Gawker deserved punishment, media organizations should not face the financial death penalty for a mistake, even a deplorable and egregious one. After all, there is probably one billionaire or another who hates pretty much every news organization in the world worth their salt. If they all decide to go down the path Thiel took, how many publications will be left when they’re done?"

The alt-right attacks sci-fi: How the Hugo Awards got hijacked by Trumpian-style culture warriors; Salon, 8/23/16

Amanda Marcotte, Salon; The alt-right attacks sci-fi: How the Hugo Awards got hijacked by Trumpian-style culture warriors:
"Since 1955, the Hugos have been awarded through a fairly straightforward process: Members of the World Science Fiction Convention nominate and then vote on their favorites in a variety of categories. Past winners have included luminaries like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Connie Willis, Robert Heinlein and George R.R. Martin.
That all changed two years ago, when a group of conservative sci-fi fans and writers, believing that sci-fi had been taken over by “social justice warriors” who supposedly emphasize diversity and progressive themes over quality, revolted and set out to take over the Hugos so that the nominees and winners were whiter, more male, and more conservative.
Two overlapping groups of conservatives — deeming themselves the Sad Puppies (more standard conservatives) and the Rabid Puppies (more alt-right and white supremacist) — began publishing suggested ballots, prior to the Hugo nominations, so that their people could vote for finalists as a bloc and crowd all other potential nominees off the ballot. Collectively, they are known as the Puppies, a choice which not coincidentally makes them sound cuter and sweeter than a nest full of reactionaries and outright bigots has any right to sound."

Students Won the Campus Culture War; Daily Beast, 8/23/16

Lizzie Crocker, Daily Beast; Students Won the Campus Culture War:
"As of December 2015, students at roughly 80 schools nationwide had submitted lists of demands to their universities: calls for new deans and presidents, more globalized curricula at liberal arts colleges, and school-endorsed “safe spaces” for minority groups, among other things.
Many universities and colleges have attempted to assuage students—and right the wrongs of history—by abandoning symbols and traditions with ties to racism, colonialism, and slavery...
Indeed, a number of liberal arts schools have developed new diversity and inclusion initiatives in response to protests by the “Firebrand Generation”—a nickname, coined the New Yorker’s Nathan Heller, for today’s politically restive students.
As the new school year begins, it’s clear that universities are bending to student activists’ forcefully stated will.
These students have won many small and large battles against old-school institutions, sometimes refusing to eat until their vilified college leaders resigned. Do not expect students’ demands for change to die down anytime soon.
Here’s our guide to the most high-profile student protests over the last year—and how school administrations are heeding their calls for change."

Trolls Will Save The World; Breitbart, 8/20/16

Milo, Breitbart; Trolls Will Save The World:
"A warped currency today governs popular culture. Instead of creativity, talent and boldness, those who succeed are often those who can best demonstrate outrage, grievance and victimhood. Even conservatives are buying into it. Witness, in the days since Breitbart executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon was announced as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, how establishment stooges have bought into the worst smear-tactics of the left. As with the left, nothing is evaluated on its quality, or whether it’s factually accurate, thought-provoking or even amusing: only whether it can be deemed sexist, racist or homophobic.
Campuses are where the illness takes its most severe form. Students running for safe spaces at the slightest hint of a challenge to their coddled worldview. Faculties and administrations desperately trying to sabotage visits from conservative speakers (often me!) to avoid the inevitable complaints from tearful lefty students.
In this maelstrom of grievance, there is one group boldly swimming against the tide: trolls.
Trolling has become a byword for everything the left disagrees with, particularly if it’s boisterous, mischievous and provocative. Even straightforward political disagreement, not intended to provoke, is sometimes described as “trolling” by leftists who can’t tell the difference between someone who doesn’t believe as they do and an “abuser” or “harasser.”...
...I believe there’s one environment where trolls have yet to fully penetrate, and where they could make all the difference: the university campus.
This is the epicenter of the feelings-focused, danger-phobic, coddling culture described by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their viral Atlantic essay. This is where the disease starts, adopts its most virulent form, and then spreads itself out, diluted, to the rest of society. This is the place where the doctrine of political correctness is freshest, and also where its adherents are at their most fragile. This, more than anywhere else, is where we need to see frog memes."

Black woman inundated with racist abuse while tweeting for @Ireland; Guardian, 8/22/16

Bonnie Malkin, Guardian; Black woman inundated with racist abuse while tweeting for @Ireland:
"A black British woman who was chosen to tweet from the @ireland account for a week has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse, forcing her to take a break from Twitter.
Michelle Marie took over the account – which is curated by a different Twitter user in Ireland each week – on Monday. She introduced herself as a mother, blogger and plus-size model.
Originally from Oxford in England, she wrote she had settled in Ireland and “it has my heart”.
However, just hours after taking over the profile – which is followed by nearly 40,000 people – the abuse began."

Cincinnati zoo deletes Twitter and Facebook accounts over Harambe jokes; Guardian, 8/23/16

Elena Cresci, Guardian; Cincinnati zoo deletes Twitter and Facebook accounts over Harambe jokes:
"Cincinnati zoo has deactivated its social accounts after it asked the public to stop making memes about Harambe the gorilla.
The animal was shot dead this year after a three-year-old child climbed into his enclosure. Since then, Harambe has turned into a source of humorous content online.
Jokes about his memory have spread on all corners of the internet – including the mentions of Cincinnati’s zoo official social media accounts."

More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead; New York Times, 8/20/16

Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times; More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead:
"Other countries, notably Israel and the United States, pursue targeted killings, but in a strict counterterrorism context. No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006...
“The government is using the special services to liquidate its enemies,” Gennadi V. Gudkov, a former member of Parliament and onetime lieutenant colonel in the K.G.B., said in an interview. “It was not just Litvinenko, but many others we don’t know about, classified as accidents or maybe semi-accidents.”"

The slow creep and chilling effect of China's censorship; Daily Dot, 8/20/16

Nithin Coca, Daily Dot; The slow creep and chilling effect of China's censorship:
"What's most worrisome is not the fact that China is monitoring everything, or that they may arrest anyone who shares sensitive content. It’s that the arrests and pressure that have already taken place is leading many Tibetans and Uighurs to self-censor—to avoid sharing anything that may raise suspicions. That’s the real reason Sonam Tso's self-immolation remained in the dark for so long.
“It's one the of the key elements of the Chinese censorship system, a proactive effort to induce a chilling effect, self-censorship,” said Carl Minzner, a professor at Fordham University and an expert in China and Chinese law. “This is much more important than the technical blocks.”
In other words, if people are too afraid to speak out on the streets, they won’t have the courage to do so online, either."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Record Crowds And A Growing List Of Challenges As America's National Parks Turn 100; Here & Now, WBUR, 8/22/16

[Podcast] Here & Now, WBUR; Record Crowds And A Growing List Of Challenges As America's National Parks Turn 100:
"The National Park Service is planning a huge celebration this week in Yellowstone to honor the centennial of the America’s park system. Visits are booming, but American parks are also facing problems, including a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog.
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson discusses with parks director Jonathan Jarvis.
Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. He tweets @JonsMoustache. The park service tweets @NatlParkService."

How The U.S. Navy Named a Ship After Harvey Milk To Show Its LGBT Pride; Daily Beast, 8/20/16

Lizzie Crocker, Daily Beast; How The U.S. Navy Named a Ship After Harvey Milk To Show Its LGBT Pride:
"“It’s important to remember and honor naval heroes—sailors and marines who have sacrificed so much for America,” [Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus] said. “But it’s also important to recognize and honor those who have fought in a different way and sacrificed… those who have fought for the ideals that we cherish as a nation: justice, equality, and freedom.”
Under his leadership, the Navy has now created a new naming convention (in January, Mabus named the first ship in this new class of command replenishment vessels after John Lewis, the Georgian politician and civil rights activist).
“My uncle always told me that it poisoned the soul to have to lie about or hide who you were,” [Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew and leader of the Harvey Milk Foundation] said, recalling how his uncle gave him a book in 1972, Seven Arrows, about Native Americans when Stuart was 12 and not yet out of the closet.
“He told me that my authenticity and the fact that I felt different from everyone else was important, and he wrote in the front, ‘All of your differences are the medicine that the world needs, even when the world doesn’t recognize that.’ I think the USNS Harvey Milk can telegraph that message to the world.”"

Whose Lives Should Be Saved? Researchers Ask the Public; New York Times, 8/21/16

Sheri Fink, New York Times; Whose Lives Should Be Saved? Researchers Ask the Public:
"Charles Blattberg, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Montreal, said he worried that the effort could result in overly precise guidelines.
“The kind of judgment that’s required to arrive at a good decision in these situations needs to be extremely sensitive to the context,” he said. “It’s not about just abandoning one lone doctor to their own devices to make it up on the spot, but we can’t go the other extreme in thinking we have the solution to the puzzle already; just follow these instructions. That works for technical problems. These are moral, political problems.”
Ruth Faden, the founder of Johns Hopkins’s Berman Institute of Bioethics, which participated in the project, said she saw value in the exercise far beyond a pandemic.
“It’s a novel and important attempt,” she said, “to turn extremely complicated core ethical considerations into something people can make sense of and struggle with in ordinary language.”"

IOC Says Doping Whistleblower Who Fears For Her Life Not Its Problem; Reuters via Huffington Post, 8/21/16

Reuters via Huffington Post; IOC Says Doping Whistleblower Who Fears For Her Life Not Its Problem:
"IOC president Thomas Bach, responding to a question about a perceived lack of support from the IOC for Stepanova, said: “I have to reject this. We are not responsible for dangers to which Ms. Stepanova may be exposed.”
Stepanova said this week that the accessing of her account was done to discover her whereabouts. She has been branded a traitor by many people back home in Russia.
“If something happens to us then you should know that it is not an accident,” Stepanova said in a conference call days ago."

The Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism—and Why It Matters; Library Journal, 8/17/16

Rick Anderson, Library Journal; The Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism—and Why It Matters:
If you were to take Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, change the title and the characters’ names, and pass it off as your original work, that would be plagiarism. However, there would be no copyright infringement, because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is in the public domain and therefore no longer subject to copyright.
On the other hand, if you were to take 50 Shades of Grey—a work currently in copyright—change the title and the characters’ names, and pass it off as your original work, that would constitute both plagiarism and copyright infringement. Stealing the author’s work in this way and selling an unauthorized derivative of it would not only be unethical; it would also be illegal.
Under U.S. law, it might be an example of stealing that rises to the level of a felony punishable by imprisonment, depending on its demonstrable financial impact on the legitimate rights holder."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Someone is wrong on the Internet. That’s where I come in.; Washington Post, 8/19/16

Brooke Binkowski, Washington Post; Someone is wrong on the Internet. That’s where I come in. :
"...[T]his work is a social good. In addition to the hate mail, we receive a lot of frightened mail, from people who aren’t certain about their place in an increasingly scary world, where danger seemingly lurks around every corner. Times are changing, yes, but some websites take advantage of that uncertainty by plucking stories from the news and fluffing them up to make it appear as though there’s going to be a major disaster any minute now. (Recent examples included activity on a major fault line that supposedly signified an imminent massive earthquake on the West Coast, and the closure of cargo routes in the North Atlantic. Neither of these stories were true.) Concerned people pass along the stories, “just in case,” and spread the anxiety further. The people who own clickbait sites are never held accountable for dealing in fear. They do, however, make quite a lot of money from advertising.
We don’t think that our work will affect people committed to their belief systems to the exclusion of all facts. But Snopes can be a place where people begin their own research; we can be a reference for people who care to excavate the facts behind the often-terrifying headlines. We don’t pretend to be, nor do we want to be, the final word on any subject. We would like to be a starting point, though. In cases where clickability and virality trump fact, we feel that knowledge is the best antidote to fear."

This couple didn’t tip their Latina server. They left a hateful message instead.; Washington Post, 8/21/16

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post; This couple didn’t tip their Latina server. They left a hateful message instead. :
"About that time, John Elledge walked into the restaurant. He’d heard that the people who wrote the nasty message to Sadie were back and marched to the restaurant to meet them face to face.
“We didn’t talk much,” Elledge told The Post.” She was mad that I posted it … the guy, he was being really belligerent.”
” … She was asking me why I posted it,” Elledge said. “I said obviously, it was an insult — your signature against my granddaughter — darn right I’m going to post it. And no apologies.”"

Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected; Huffington Post, 8/21/16

Michael Rosenblum, Huffington Post; Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected:
"And Donald Trump is great TV.
He knows how to entertain.
He understands ratings.
Hillary Clinton is crap TV.
She may be smarter, better prepared, a better politician. It won’t matter. She is terrible entertainment.
That’s just how it is. Depressing, but true.
He is Kim Kardashian. She is Judy Woodruff.
Who gets better ratings?
Who would you rather watch for the next four years?
In 1825, the great French gastronom Brillat de Savarind said, “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Today, in America, we can safely say, “tell me what you watch and I will tell you what you are”.
And what do we watch?
It isn’t The PBS Newshour."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Britain’s Paper Tigers; New York Times, 8/10/16

Stig Abell, New York Times; Britain’s Paper Tigers:
"The Sun can still call an election correctly, can still elicit outrage and comment. The Mirror, The Sun and The Mail hope to turn their vast online audiences into a profitable business model.
And there is a gradual resurgence of a willingness to pay for quality. The Times and The Sunday Times, paywalled and protected, have become profitable perhaps for the first time in history. Paywalls — once seen as an embodiment of Luddism in the giddy world of the free internet — now seem essential to the survival of professional writing.
Yet there has never been a more hostile environment to journalism than exists today, and not only in economic terms. The democratizing effect of social media, a potentially healthful development, has also given rise to a cynicism directed toward the mainstream media. This is all part of a new angriness in politics."

Peter Thiel: The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker; New York Times, 8/15/16

Peter Thiel, New York Times; Peter Thiel: The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker:
"The United States House of Representatives is considering the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would make it illegal to distribute explicit private images, sometimes called revenge porn, without the consent of the people involved. Nicknamed the Gawker Bill, it would also provide criminal consequences for third parties who sought to profit from such material.
This is a step in the right direction. Protecting individual dignity online is a long-term project, and it will require many delicate judgments. We can begin on solid ground by acknowledging that it is wrong to expose people’s most intimate moments for no good reason. That is the kind of clear moral line that Gawker and publishers like it have sought to blur. But they can’t do it if we don’t let them."

Peter Thiel’s Self-Serving New York Times Column; The Atlantic, 8/16/16

Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic; Peter Thiel’s Self-Serving New York Times Column:
"Peter Thiel has no regrets about pouring millions of dollars of his own money into the legal fight that bankrupted Gawker Media. “I am proud to have contributed financial support,” Thiel wrote in The New York Times on Monday, “… and I would gladly support someone else in the same position.”...
“The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession’s reputation,” Thiel wrote for the Times this week. What he seems not to understand is that freedom of the press means that editorial decisions are made in newsrooms, not by venture capitalists or presidential candidates hellbent on revenge. Thiel could have “fought speech with speech,” instead of with $10 million, Marcus Wohlsen wrote for Wired in June. “In seeking to destroy Gawker, Thiel showed that what matters to him isn’t freedom but the raw exercise of power.”
And in writing for the Times this week, Thiel showed that he’s not as concerned with protecting privacy as he is with serving up a narrative that he believes justifies his actions."

Sydney Morning Herald Faces Uncertain Print Future in Australia; New York Times, 8/17/16

Keith Bradsher and Michelle Innis, New York Times; Sydney Morning Herald Faces Uncertain Print Future in Australia:
[Post #1,500, since starting this Ethics blog in 2010] "Kate McClymont, 58, has been breaking news at The Sydney Morning Herald for decades. One of the newspaper’s marquee journalists, Ms. McClymont appears in the paper’s ads.
“We have been holding the powerful in this city to account for a long time,” Ms. McClymont said.
Most recently, she pursued a state government minister, Eddie Obeid, uncovering how his private businesses were improperly benefiting from his public role. Mr. Obeid was found guilty in June of misusing his public office. He will soon face a second court case over mining leases he obtained from the state government.
“We have shone a light where crooks would prefer places remained dark,” Ms. McClymont said. “I hate the idea of people getting away with anything.”
“It is bad for democracy,” she added, “if this voice is diminished in any way.”"

Nate Parker and the Limits of Empathy; New York Times, 8/19/16

Roxane Gay, New York Times; Nate Parker and the Limits of Empathy:
"We’ve long had to face that bad men can create good art. Some people have no problem separating the creation from the creator. I am not one of those people, nor do I want to be. I recognize that people are complex and cannot be solely defined by their worst deeds, but I can no longer watch “The Cosby Show,” for example, without thinking of the numerous sexual assault accusations against Bill Cosby. Suddenly, his jokes are far less funny.
I cannot separate the art and the artist, just as I cannot separate my blackness and my continuing desire for more representation of the black experience in film from my womanhood, my feminism, my own history of sexual violence, my humanity.
“The Birth of a Nation” is being billed as an important movie — something we must see, a story that demands to be heard. I have not yet seen the movie, and now I won’t. Just as I cannot compartmentalize the various markers of my identity, I cannot value a movie, no matter how good or “important” it might be, over the dignity of a woman whose story should be seen as just as important, a woman who is no longer alive to speak for herself, or benefit from any measure of justice. No amount of empathy could make that possible."

Gawker's downfall is a 'scary prospect for journalists'; Washington Post, 8/19/16

[Video] Paul Farhi and Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post; Gawker's downfall is a 'scary prospect for journalists' :
"The news and gossip site is shuttering after a lengthy court battle with former professional wrestling star Hulk Hogan, who was secretly backed by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. The Post's Margaret Sullivan and Paul Farhi look at Gawker's legacy and how this could be a dangerous precedent for news critics."

Rendell: USA shows off its wonderfully diverse athletes at Olympics;, 8/19/16

Ed Rendell,; Rendell: USA shows off its wonderfully diverse athletes at Olympics:
"The first thing I noticed about our team was that there were more women than men (292 to 263). Then it quickly became apparent that our team was more diverse than ever before, as fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad - the first Muslim-American Olympian to compete wearing a hijab - was part of the contingent. As the games unfolded, that diversity became even more apparent...
As the Olympics draw to a close, America is again proving its greatness when it comes to sports. We have won nearly twice as many medals as our nearest competitor, China. Our team is diverse, inclusive and encompasses Americans from every region of our country and from every possible background.
While I have enjoyed all of the success the team has had, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the Olympics for me is learning about all of the incredible life stories and backgrounds of our athletes. Though we still have problems, we are a great country with great people, and our diversity is one of the most important things that makes us great.
CC: Donald Trump"

Stand Up for Open Access. Stand Up for Diego.; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 8/9/16

Ana Acosta and Elliot Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Stand Up for Open Access. Stand Up for Diego. :
"The movement for open access is not new, but it seems to be accelerating. Even since we started following Diego’s case in 2014, many parts of the scientific community have begun to fully embrace open access publishing. Dozens of universities have adopted open access policies requiring that university research be made open, either through publishing in open access journals or by archiving papers in institutional repositories. This year’s groundbreaking discovery on gravitational waves—certainly one of the most important scientific discoveries of the decade—was published in an open access journal under a Creative Commons license. Here in the U.S., it’s becoming more and more clear that an open access mandate for federally funded research will be written into law; it’s just a matter of when. The tide is changing, and open access will win.
But for researchers like Diego who face prison time right now, the movement is not accelerating quickly enough. Open access could have saved Diego from the risk of spending years in prison.
Many people reading this remember the tragic story of Aaron Swartz. When Aaron died, he was facing severe penalties for accessing millions of articles via MIT’s computer network without "authorization." Diego’s case differs from Aaron’s in a lot of ways, but in one important way, they’re exactly the same: if all academic research were published openly, neither of them would have been in trouble for anything.
When laws punish intellectual curiosity and scientific research, everyone suffers; not just researchers, but also the people and species who would benefit from their research. Copyright law is supposed to foster innovation, not squash it."

Hillary Clinton’s Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands; New York Magazine, 8/19/16

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine; Hillary Clinton’s Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands:
"“Give a man a reputation as an early riser,” said Mark Twain, “and he can sleep ‘til noon.” Hillary Clinton finds herself in the opposite situation: She has a reputation for venality — the merits of which we can set aside momentarily — that forces her to a higher ethical standard. Her inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation show that she is not meeting that standard, and has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem."

EpiPen’s 500 Percent Price Hike Leaves Patients Scrambling; Huffington Post, 8/18/16

Anna Almendrala, Huffington Post; EpiPen’s 500 Percent Price Hike Leaves Patients Scrambling:
"The EpiPen, an easy-to-use injectable shot filled with medicine that can stop a life-threatening allergic reaction, has increased in price from about $100 for a pack of two pens in 2009 to over $600 this year.
Pharmaceutical company Mylan purchased the rights to the pen back in 2007, and it appears that they’ve taken a page from “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli and re-priced their newly acquired product. That is, they’ve spiked prices for no apparent research and development reason related to the product, except perhaps to make up for the tens of millions of dollars they’ve spent on TV commercials to promote it, reports CBS news.
The price spike also coincides with the recall of one of EpiPen’s competitors, the Auvi-Q from the pharmaceutical company Sanofi US. The company recalled their pen in October because of inaccurate dosage issues...
Pharmaceutical watchdogs and politicians have weighed in on the price hike, pushing back on Mylan’s pricing scheme and calling for competitors to enter the market."

The Downfall Of Invention: A Broken Patent System; Huffington Post, 8/16/16

Tahir Amin, Huffington Post; The Downfall Of Invention: A Broken Patent System:
"The cost of dozens of brand-name drugs have nearly doubled in just the past five years. Public outrage over drug prices extends from Capitol Hill to the presidential candidates to patients. In response, pharmaceutical executives are spending more on lobbying and marketing. Yet for all this attention, most of the proposed solutions for reducing prescription drug costs—tougher negotiations, appeals for transparent R&D costs or investigations into insurers—miss one of the primary sources of the problem: the way we award patents.
Today, too many drug makers receive patents for unmerited and unjust reasons...
Not surprisingly, the pharma industry employs a variety of stall tactics that make it virtually impossible for affordable, generic drugs to enter the U.S. market. In what’s called “pay-for-delay,” for example, patent owners pay off generic manufacturers to wait before entering the market, a practice that could violate antitrust laws...
It’s time to restore the U.S. patent system to its original purpose – to protect and incentivize invention, not innovation."

Federal Judge: Religious Liberty Includes a Right to Fire LGBTQ Employees; Slate, 8/18/16

Mark Joseph Stern, Slate; Federal Judge: Religious Liberty Includes a Right to Fire LGBTQ Employees:
"It finally happened.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox found that Hobby Lobby’s broad guarantee of “religious freedom” to businesses exempts religious employers from the federal ban on workplace sex discrimination. Cox ruled that, under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, for-profit corporations may claim a legal right to fire employees for being transgender. His decision marks the first time a court has used Hobby Lobby’s holding to abridge LGBTQ employees’ rights under nondiscrimination law—an extension of “religious liberty” that anti-LGBTQ advocates insisted would never occur...
Cox’s decision, then, will almost certainly be overturned. But it is still a useful reminder of Hobby Lobby’s power in the hands of anti-LGBTQ judges. There’s a reason states rushed to pass mini-RFRAs in Hobby Lobby’s wake: A right-leaning judiciary can always cite “religious liberty” to abridge others’ rights, and LGBTQ people are usually first on the chopping block. For years, conservative activists have sworn that the new campaign for religious freedom is not a Trojan horse designed to legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Judge Cox just proved them wrong."

Tony Perkins blamed gay people for God's wrath. His house was swept away; Guardian, 8/18/16

John Paul Brammer, Guardian; Tony Perkins blamed gay people for God's wrath. His house was swept away:
"In a 2015 interview with Messianic Jewish pastor Jonathan Cahn, Perkins agreed that Hurricane Joaquin, a devastating storm that hit the Bahamas last year, was “a sign of God’s wrath”, punishment for abortion and for the legalization of same-sex marriage...
“This is a flood of near-biblical proportions,” Perkins said on his radio show. “We had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. We had about 10 feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, a few of our cars flooded.” Thankfully, none of his family was harmed.
You could be forgiven for thinking of this as some kind of twisted justice, or at least as a delicious bit of divine irony.
I’ve been out of the closet long enough that Perkins’ words don’t affect me anymore, but I remember what it was like to read them when I first came out in rural Oklahoma, before same-sex marriage was legalized and before I had other gay people supporting me. It was incredibly painful. It was a reminder of the thing that had kept me in hiding for so long: we are so misunderstood. We are so hated.
But to react with glee to news of Perkins’ plight – to regard it as comeuppance or karma – would, though tempting, be to engage in the toxic one-dimensional thinking that I loathe in the religious right...
I wish Tony Perkins hadn’t spent so much of his life squarely positioning himself against my thriving and that of my community. I wish Tony Perkins didn’t think of hurricanes and floods as God’s wrath. But I don’t wish harm on him. He’s a person.
My hope is that the flood makes Perkins reflect on his past statements. I hope that he contemplates whether or not his actions have truly been Christian.
Tony Perkins and I disagree over whether God sends storms to punish people. I don’t believe that. But if in these events he sees a sign from above to humble himself, I hope he heeds it."

Twitter suspends 235,000 in online extremism crackdown; Politico, 8/18/16

Tony Romm and Cynthia Kroet, Politico; Twitter suspends 235,000 in online extremism crackdown:
"In its latest crackdown on tweets that promote terrorism, Twitter suspended 235,000 accounts between February and August, the company announced Thursday.
That brings the total number of terrorism-related suspensions to 360,000 since the middle of last year, Twitter said. The social media giant pledged to continue ramping up its efforts to block groups such as Islamic State from recruiting supporters and promoting attacks over its platform."

White Male Privilege Is Why We Laugh At Lochte And Vilify Douglas; Huffington Post, 8/18/16

Emma Gray, Huffington Post; White Male Privilege Is Why We Laugh At Lochte And Vilify Douglas:
"It didn’t take long for people to point to the cognitive dissonance between the compassionate, light-hearted response to Lochte, Bentz, Conger and fourth swimmer Jimmy Feigen’s drunken actions, and the widespread online vilification gymnast Gabby Douglas experienced just a week prior.
Douglas, who is just 20 years old, failed to put her hand on her heart during the national anthem, and did not style her hair and/or face to every individual’s liking. For those “crimes,” she was widely criticized for being “disprespectful,” “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” and called words that we’d rather not repeat in this piece. Lochte and friends reportedly defiled a gas station restroom, fought with a security officer, lied to national news sources, and may have filed a false police report. And the four of them get to be framed as talented “kids” (reminder: Lochte is 32) having one debaucherous night of fun.
The vast gap between these two public perceptions has everything to do with the identities of the people involved. Lochte is a straight, white man, who has long been beloved for his pretty face, doofy personality and charmingly slow demeanor during interviews. Douglas is a young, black woman who has battled racialized critiques of her appearance and attitude for years, despite winning three Olympic gold medals."

Recruiting Leslie Jones May Have Been a Cynical Move for NBC, But Damn Is She Making Their Coverage Better; Slate, 8/18/16

David Canfield, Slate; Recruiting Leslie Jones May Have Been a Cynical Move for NBC, But Damn Is She Making Their Coverage Better:
"In 2016, regular contributors on NBC’s Olympics team have shown little interest in departing from the network’s standard narratives. Inadvertently or not, their default styles of commentary have sometimes marginalized the accomplishments of American women, people of color, and LGBTQ people...
Jones, meanwhile, fixates on Biles’ pure athleticism. “She is … BAD,” she said, awestruck, after watching Biles win a gold medal. “Whew! She’s a flipper.” (She also shrieked at full force during one of Biles’ routines.) And she has similarly applauded the skills of Gabby Douglas—Biles’ Gold Medal-winning predecessor. Her enthusiasm is boundless: “Michael Phelps is a BEAST!” she yelled after seeing Phelps take gold. Amid a lineup of cookie-cutter correspondents in Rio, her passion is contagious, her style uniquely candid. She’s a perfect proxy for the rest of us watching the games at home. Since arriving in Rio, she has been delivering NBC’s messages with the kind of authenticity and energy that the network had been otherwise unable to muster. She relays genuine interest in every event. She gives “harmless nationalism” some spike."

Sexism in Olympics Coverage; New York Times, August 2016

[Video] Natalia V. Osipova and Katie Rogers, New York Times; Sexism in Olympics Coverage

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Make the most of your brief time on Earth; Washington Post, 8/17/16

Garrison Keillor, Washington Post; Make the most of your brief time on Earth:
"Style is not what keeps us going. We survive by virtue of people extending themselves, welcoming the young, showing sympathy for the suffering, taking pleasure in each other’s good fortune. We are here for a brief time. We would like our stay to mean something. Do the right thing. Travel light. Be sweet."

A Break in the Assange Saga; New York Times, 8/17/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; A Break in the Assange Saga:
"Whether or not Sweden decides to formally charge Mr. Assange after questioning him, he may still be reluctant to abandon the Ecuadorean Embassy. But at least the focus of this curious saga will move closer to the serious legal, ethical and security issues at its core."

I’ve always voted Republican. Until now.; Washington Post, 8/17/16

Daniel Akerson, Washington Post; I’ve always voted Republican. Until now. :
"And I have always voted for Republicans for president. Not this year.
The compelling rationale behind this decision: leadership. A good leader must demonstrate such qualities as competence, integrity, empathy, character and temperament. Hillary Clinton has these essential qualities. Donald Trump does not.
Trump simply lacks the competence to serve as president of the United States...
Long ago, I learned an old Navy saying from a good friend and now-retired admiral: “Ship, shipmate, self.” This motto set the priorities for my life during my service. The civilian equivalent would be “country, fellow citizen, self.” As individuals and as a nation, we must aspire to serve the greater good. We must exhibit the empathy that places the greater good of the nation and its people above individual self-interest.
Unfortunately, Trump has appealed to the lowest common denominators in our society: prejudice, xenophobia and intolerance...
What kind of person equates the sacrifice of the loss of a child to that of creating jobs or making money?"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why Blacks Loathe Trump; New York Times, 8/17/16

Charles M. Blow, New York Times; Why Blacks Loathe Trump:
"This is the same man who has refused to reach out to black people in any way, including rejecting offers to speak before the N.A.A.C.P., the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Urban League. (Hillary Clinton spoke before all three.)
Donald Trump is the paragon of racial, ethnic and religious hostility. He is the hobgoblin of retrograde racial hegemony.
And this is the man who now wants to court the black vote? Puh-leese …"

Ethics: Taming our technologies; Nature, 8/17/16

Steven Aftergood, Nature; Ethics: Taming our technologies:
"Technological innovation in fields from genetic engineering to cyberwarfare is accelerating at a breakneck pace, but ethical deliberation over its implications has lagged behind. Thus argues Sheila Jasanoff — who works at the nexus of science, law and policy — in The Ethics of Invention, her fresh investigation. Not only are our deliberative institutions inadequate to the task of oversight, she contends, but we fail to recognize the full ethical dimensions of technology policy. She prescribes a fundamental reboot...
Jasanoff argues for an entirely new body of ethical discourse, going beyond technical risk assessment to give due weight to economic, cultural, social and religious perspectives."

Debate Over Armchair Psychological Assessments Of Donald Trump; Diane Rehm Show, 8/17/16

[Podcast] Diane Rehm Show; Debate Over Armchair Psychological Assessments Of Donald Trump:
"In 1964, damaging and completely erroneous psychological assessments were made about then-presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. The American Psychiatric Association instituted a new guideline: psychiatrists should not offer opinions about people they’ve not personally examined. But in recent weeks, some psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals have broken this rule. They are speaking out about what they see as Donald Trump’s unfitness to be president. The pitfalls of diagnosing from afar and when personality disorders can be strengths.
Amy Ellis Nutt science writer, The Washington Post
Dr. Paul Appelbaum professor of psychiatry, medicine, and law, Columbia University
William Doherty psychologist and director, Citizen Professional Center, University of Minnesota
Ron Elving senior Washington editor, NPR News"

The Psychiatric Question: Is It Fair to Analyze Donald Trump From Afar?; New York Times, 8/15/16

Benedict Carey, New York Times; The Psychiatric Question: Is It Fair to Analyze Donald Trump From Afar? :
"In the midst of a deeply divisive presidential campaign, more than 1,000 psychiatrists declared the Republican candidate unfit for the office, citing severe personality defects, including paranoia, a grandiose manner and a Godlike self-image. One doctor called him “a dangerous lunatic.”
The year was 1964, and after losing in a landslide, the candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, sued the publisher of Fact magazine, which had published the survey, winning $75,000 in damages.
But doctors attacked the survey, too, for its unsupported clinical language and obvious partisanship. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association adopted what became known as the Goldwater Rule, declaring it unethical for any psychiatrist to diagnose a public figure’s condition “unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”
Enter Donald J. Trump."

Why media coverage of LGBT Olympic athletes is ‘simply unacceptable’; Washington Post, 8/16/16

Steven Petrow, Washington Post; Why media coverage of LGBT Olympic athletes is ‘simply unacceptable’ :
"Unfortunately, the Daily Beast incident is only the most egregious among other media “fails” in its LGBT coverage from Rio...
Let’s also take a look at NBC’s coverage of gay diver Tom Daley’s win of the bronze medal in the men’s 10-meter synchronized diving finals. Although the network routinely pans to parents, spouses and opposite-sex partners in these moments of triumph or defeat, NBC failed to identify Daley’s fiance Dustin Lance Black (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of the film “Milk”) sitting in the stands. Black, who emailed me from Rio, didn’t want to comment on his own situation but did offer this: “I can say in general that visibility is the cornerstone of the modern LGBT movement, and any news organization that actively avoids or ‘closets’ LGBT people, relationships or stories is most certainly on the wrong side of today’s struggle for better understanding, equality and acceptance.”
That’s exactly why responsible media coverage of the LGBT community remains so important. It’s not always life and death. But it’s always pride and prejudice."