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    Defined Benefit Pensions Are a Foolish Dream
    Illustration by Angelica Alzona

    Pensions are good. Pensions are worth preserving until something better comes along. But pensions that make impossible promises and cultivate lies are not the pensions we should hope for.

    If you are fortunate enough to have a pension these days (and you’re probably not), it is one of two types. Defined contribution plans are pensions where you put in a fixed amount of money each month, which is invested and perhaps supplemented by your employer, and after you retire, you get a payout based on how much money is there. The final pool of money that you have at the time of your retirement depends upon how much was put in and how much it grew as it was invested.

    Defined benefit plans are pensions with one key difference: when you retire, you are guaranteed a payout of a certain amount. In other words, it is the responsibility of the pension plan to ensure that by the time you reach retirement age, they have invested the money well enough to make it grow enough to be able to make the payments they have promised to you.

    Defined benefit plans are considered the gold standard of pensions, and are perceived as the most desirable by workers. They are also a mirage. We should end them.

    Why? Because as any honest investment consultant can tell you, it is impossible to guarantee a specific investment return over the course of many years. And it is certainly not possible to guarantee a large annual investment return over the course of many years. But that is exactly what defined benefit pensions incentivize their administrators to do: to promise a hefty (absurd, unrealistic, unwise) annual investment return in order to make the math work. After all, the higher the annual return on investment, the less money you have to contribute from your paycheck and the less money your employer has to contribute on the front end. Everyone loves to imagine that they can put in as little as possible and the pile of money will grow enormously through the magic of investment! Yet pension crisis after pension crisis after pension crisis has proven that it is not so. The incentives to lowball how much money has to be put in on the front end and to overestimate the amount of money that will come out on the back end is just too large. And when you are dealing with public pensions, where politicians are involved, the incentive towards magical thinking is even greater. Free pensions for everyone! No money down! And in the meantime, we can borrow the money for other things!

    It does not work.

    In decades past, it was easy for pensions to invest in relatively safe assets like bonds and still pick up, oh, 8% a year, and everyone was happy. Returns were strong, and risk was low. Those days are over. Economic growth is much harder to come by—permanently, many believe. As the Wall Street Journal notes, pension plans today are forced to pursue riskier and more expensive investments in a desperate bid to achieve investment returns that once seemed just average. This is why public pension plans, which manage the retirement money of nurses and firefighters, end up funneling billions of dollars in fees into the pockets of high priced Wall Street private equity and hedge fund managers. They are chasing the foolish promise of investment returns that they cannot achieve through safer means. Instead of saying “our investment returns will be whatever our safe, low-cost investments give us,” they continue to lust for unrealistically high numbers to fulfill promises that are either outdated or completely dishonest. So hedge funders and other expensive money managers get rich—their fees are set in stone, after all—and the retirees are still left with pension plans that are desperately short on the funds needed to pay what they owe, because they made promises that they could not keep.

    Already, U.S. pensions are in such a hole—approaching $2 trillion in total—that many of today’s pensioners will inevitably be shorted on their payments. The money simply isn’t there. This is not the fault of the workers, and the political cowardice involved in letting the pension crisis get this bad is immense, but it has gone too far to be set right at this point. Moving forward, there are only two real options. Defined benefit pensions can drastically lower their projected investment returns (down to, say, 3%), put their money in safe, low-cost investments, and raise the amount of money that workers and employers need to put in to realize the promised payments at retirement. Or, we can just do away with defined benefit pensions altogether. They were always an idea that would fall apart as soon as easy investment returns dried up. For people who do have pension plans, make them defined contribution: you put your money in, it is invested as well as possible, and at the end you get what you get. In either case, any politician or pension fund manager who fucks with people’s pension money irresponsibly should be put in jail.

    Ideally, we would have a national Social Security system so robust that everyone could rest easy knowing that they would be provided for in retirement. Until then, some people will still have pensions. Those pensions should pay them money, not promises that cannot ever be kept.

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    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”

    When the faceless editors of Wikipedia decide an article is not fit for public consumption, it’s gone, only accessible to the site’s top editors—at least, it was. But now we’re keeping track of all the articles Wikipedia doesn’t see fit to print, to present you with very best of the site’s weirdest and worst. (Plus: The best amateur Batman YouTube series ever, this week only.) Please, “enjoy.”

    Batman: Dark Avenger

    Batman: Dark Avenger is a godawful, absolutely incredible fan-made YouTube series purporting to depict the origin story of Ben Affleck’s Batman. We first meet fake millennial Ben Affleck as he returns home to Gotham after 17 years of being whipped by what looks like a very nice dog toy.

    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”
    Image: YouTube

    This goes on for exactly 20 seconds.

    In total, eight episodes exist so far, though the length of each episode can vary from anywhere between four minutes and 30 minutes. I cannot recommend the series highly enough.

    Best line:

    The article contains a helpful little “facts” section where you’ll gain such insights as

    4. Jake C. Young acquired a case of pneumonia while filming the season final in the winter of 2015.

    But forget the article. This is about the film, the art—every minute a new journey. Right off the bat, for instance, we get this disclaimer.

    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”

    This is not how non-profits, copyright violations, or warnings work. Which is an impressive feat already—but it gets better. Allow me to present the disclaimer for episode four:

    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”

    A non copyright organization. You hear that, Warner Bros legal department?

    It’s not all fun and games, though. The series offers some real-word lessons. Also in episode four, for instance, we see what happens when you decide to elect a bewigged child pretending to be Donald Trump as the mayor of Gotham.

    Unfortunately Don Trumpet is shot before fake millennial Ben Affleck has time to ride his ATV over and get his hands on him.

    I hope we all learned something today.

    Why it got deleted:

    Because this article is about “a fan fiction film released on YouTube” that has “less than 500 views” and a Facebook page with “50 likes.”

    Why it shouldn’t have been:

    You know who else judged worth with numbers? That child in a wig pretending to be Donald Trump. And you saw what happened to him.

    Henri White

    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”

    Henri White is a fucking magician. Henri White also runs several very large magic forums.

    Best line:

    The best line here is not anything written. Instead, it is that which goes unsaid:

    It was on his 7th Birthday (October 13th 2000) that Henri would receive a Marvin’s Magic set from a patron of the pub. Henri would go on to perform tricks from this set at his school.

    Henri almost certainly got his ass beat daily. Our thoughts and prayers are with Henri and his lost youth.

    Why it got deleted:

    For being self-promotion and for the fact that no one knows who Henri is.

    Why it shouldn’t have been:

    You have to let him make it disappear on his own.

    Torn Between Two

    Torn Between Two is an alleged upcoming romantic comedy about a woman “torn between two rival parties for her romantic purposes, a Mexican school boy named Peso and a Russian baby named Vladimir.” I imagine it to be a loose remake of the Nicole Kidman classic, Birth.

    Best line:

    I cannot possibly choose, so instead I present the article in full:

    Plot Synopsis: Symone, a girl who has dreams and ambitions, has just recently moved to a town named Gilroy, from her home town Tijuana, Mexico. After enrolling in a small school called Pacific Point, she encounters a Mexican schoolboy named Peso at a nearby park. It was love at first sight, however, one day Peso became ill, and Symone decided to stroll through the park on her own. There, she encountered a Russian baby named Vladimir. As soon as the first drop of baby formula came out of his mouth, she instantly fell in love, and she started dating both parties simultaneously without either one knowing. Can she keep this up? Will she choose to marry the amigo, or the comrade? Find out, in this thrilling and heart-wrenching drama.

    Disclaimer: All information is subject to change as the film is still under review and development.

    Why it got deleted:

    Because the editors of Wikipedia apparently can’t handle a plot that challenges you. Also because there are “no sources ... anywhere.”

    Why it shouldn’t have been:

    Nicole Kidman could use a hit.

    List of Bratz dolls

    List of Bratz dolls is a list of Bratz dolls.

    Best line:

    From 2004:

    • Secret Date (2-Pack, 1 Girl + 1 Boy) - Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Meygan, Nevra + Cameron, Dylan, Eitan, Koby, Bryce (1 in 24 chance)

    Why it got deleted:

    Because Wikipedia editor Treker is rude as hell:

    As it is right now it has absolutely no encyclopedic value and is completely unsourced. I constantly see people add nonsense and fancruft to it. I’ve been trying to keep an eye on it but it’s hard when not a single source exists to varify any of the information.

    Honestly, Treker, it seems like the real “Brat” in the situation is you.

    Why it shouldn’t have been:

    Bratz are people, too.

    The Bible = God’s Letter to Humankind

    The Best Worst Batman Fanfic Features Donald Trump and an ATV “Batmobile”

    This appears to be an explanation of why the Bible exists and/or what its purpose is. For instance, in reading the article, I learned that “The Creator” gave the Bible to “The created (Humankind aka People).” It’s important to keep learning.

    Best line:

    That there are two driving forces beyond our human senses of touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell. There is a spiritual realm in where The Holy Spirit of God Who testifies to The Lord Jesus Christ, is battling with the spirits of the prince of the world (Satan). That indeed, every person is either following God, or they are following Satan and for any human being to say; “I’m my own person” is foolishness.

    All of which seems a little harsh if you ask me. Then again, that’s what the damned would say.

    Why it got deleted:

    Apparently, this same article has actually been created several different times by multiple accounts that keep getting blocked (I can’t for the life of me understand why). The real reason it got deleted, though, is Satan.

    Why it shouldn’t have been:

    As always, Satan won.

    Honorable Mentions

    Joe Chenelly

    Canada and the 2016 United States presidential election

    2016 Bernie Sanders Facebook groups suspension

    Eggel (Egg Bagel)


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    Donald Trump Settles Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over "Piercing, Intimate" Bald Eagle Portrait

    Donald Trump has settled a lawsuit brought by two photographers who claimed his campaign of using their “iconic” picture of a bald eagle without approval, court filings show. The settlement agreement was first reported by the New York Daily News.

    In their complaint, the photographers, Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski, learned of the alleged copyright infringement while watching news coverage of a Trump campaign rally in February—a supporter was holding up “a printed sign promoting Mr. Trump that appeared to incorporate the Photograph.”

    Donald Trump Settles Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over "Piercing, Intimate" Bald Eagle Portrait

    Subsequently, they discovered not only that the Trump campaign was selling merchandise that allegedly incorporated the photograph but also that the campaign encouraged supporters to reuse the image—without the Denver-based photographers’ permission.

    According to the complaint, Rozinski took the photograph in 1980, at a moment when “the American bald eagle faced extirpation in North America due to poisonous DDT pesticide use, among other factors.”

    “The Photograph captures a piercing, intimate, eye-to-eye moment with this majestic creature with near-perfect symmetry against a flawless sky blue background,” the complaint reads.

    “It would be difficult, as perhaps an understatement, to recreate such an image given the challenge of replicating and capturing such a fleeting moment in nature.”

    According to the Hollywood Reporter, Rozinski and Shattil tried to resolve the issue privately, but the Trump campaign refused.

    “I don’t settle lawsuits—very rare—because once you settle lawsuits, everybody sues you,” Trump said recently. The terms of the settlement with the wildlife photographers were not disclosed.

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    Famous Refugee Says There Are "Too Many" Arab Refugees In Germany
    Photo: Getty

    There are “too many” refugees in Europe, the Dalai Lama told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The spiritual leader of Tibet, a famous refugee who fled China into India after the Tibetan uprising in 1959, packaged some oddly xenophobic tones between his sympathies.

    Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.

    “When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” he also noted. For the Dalai Lama, who has previously expressed some truly fuckboy thoughts on women’s faces, the “too many” refugees in Europe sentiment isn’t new. “It’s impossible for everyone to come to Europe,” he said in September of 2015. But the majority of Arab refugees fleeing Syria are actually seeking asylum in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, not Europe. Germany, with a population of 80 million, has accepted over 1 million refugees. (Seven months ago, the US pledged to resettle 10,000 refugees by the end of the fiscal year; a mere 1,736 were accepted by the end of April.)

    This “Germany is Germany” thing is new, and it’s just the kind that the country’s recently resurged right-wing nationalists are going to eat right up.

    Speaking “from a moral standpoint,” the Dalai Lama said that the refugees should “only be accommodated temporarily” until they can be sent back to “rebuild their countries.”

    Earlier this year, Angela Merkel introduced a mandatory integration law, requiring that asylum seekers take “language classes” and “lessons in German laws or cultural basics” or lose support.

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    At Least Three People Dead in UCLA Murder-Suicide

    According to reports, at least two people were shot on the UCLA campus, where the school is currently on lockdown while police search for the shooter.

    According to KTLA, the incident began around 10 a.m. PST, when a gunman clad in a black jacket and pants fatally shot at least two victims outside of an engineering building.

    The campus was placed on lockdown for at least an hour, and students are still being encouraged to shelter in place.

    “Sitting under desk with door locked and lights off during my last ever class at #UCLA because of campus shooting,” one MBA student tweeted. It does appear some classrooms have been evacuated.

    Aerial reports indicate a wide range of law enforcement on campus, with officers from UCLA campus police, the LAPD, the LAFD, the ATF, and SWAT all responding. The city of Los Angeles has also reportedly been placed on a citywide tactical alert.

    It’s not clear what the status of the gunman is, though Gigi Graciette, a reporter for the local Fox 11 news affiliate, reports a suicide note was found near the two victims.


    According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, the gunman is dead and police believe the attack was a murder-suicide.

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    The Free Speech Peter Thiel Will Defend: “Faggot! Faggot! Hope You Die of AIDS!”
    Photos: Big Think, Amazon, Getty Images

    Peter Thiel, the libertarian Silicon Valley billionaire who has waged a secret, decade-long, multi-front legal battle against Gawker Media, has somewhat counterintuitively positioned himself as a guardian of free speech principles. But in response to Gawker’s critical coverage of the technology sector—coverage that Thiel has described as “terrible for the Valley”—he decided the company and the people who write for it deserved to be punished, with a campaign he has called “specific deterrence.”

    Thiel wasn’t always so willing to discard his principles, though. Early in his career, he defended a fellow Stanford student (and future business partner) who had screamed “Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS!” and “Can’t wait until you die, faggot!” to provoke college administrators, and decried the “punishment” of that student, which Thiel said at the time was designed to deter speech.

    In January 1992, when Thiel was a third-year law student at Stanford Law School, a first-year law student named Keith Rabois shouted the epithets quoted above (as well as “Go ahead—try to kick me out of housing!”) in the direction of the on-campus residence of a Stanford lecturer named Dennis Matthies. Rabois later said his comments, though directed at Matthies, “were mostly about faggots being bad in general” and otherwise intended to challenge what he saw as Stanford’s overly restrictive rules regarding student speech. In a letter to The Stanford Daily, he wrote:

    The entire point was expose [students] to very offensive speech. Admittedly, the comments made were not very articulate, not very intellectual, nor profound. The intention was for the speech to be outrageous enough to provoke a thought of “Wow, if he can say that, I guess I can say a little more than I thought.” ... I knew the speech was shocking, but clearly protected. My last comment, “Go ahead—try to kick me out of housing!” was designed to drive home the lesson that there was nothing except fear to stop criticism on this campus.

    I don’t necessarily hate homosexuals, but do believe in Jack Kemp’s suggestion that they may not be the best teachers of young children in public schools and recognize that the spread of AIDS has a direct causal link back to their activity.

    In the same letter, he declared his ability to wish disease and death upon gay people was a matter of free speech: “An official policy against particular kinds of speech [can] only chill constructive comments.”

    After the Stanford administration publicized the incident, Rabois came under intense criticism not only for his comments, which could be easily interpreted as a death threat, but his own defense of his comments, in which he seemed to suggest that gay people were a danger to children and that gay sex, rather than years of willful neglect by public officials, was the primary reason for the rapid spread of H.I.V. The outcry eventually led Rabois to transfer to Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1994.

    Throughout all of this, Rabois had a steadfast ally in Peter Thiel, who co-founded Stanford’s conservative journal, The Stanford Review, as an undergraduate in 1987. It’s unclear what Thiel wrote about the incident at the time it happened, since the Review’s online archives only go back to 1999 and the Stanford Library’s collection of the Review’s 1992 issues is currently unavailable online. But the year after Rabois graduated from Harvard, Thiel co-authored a book called The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus, in which he defended Rabois’ actions incident at length.

    From Chapter 6 (title: “Welcome to Salem”):

    For starters, his demonstration directly challenged one of the most fundamental taboos: To suggest a correlation between homosexual acts and AIDS implies that one of the multiculturalists’ favorite lifestyles is more prone to contracting the disease and that not all lifestyles are equally desirable. But by far the most troublesome aspect, to many of the multicultural observers, was Keith’s encouragement to other students to see what they could get away with: If others would follow his lead in saying what they thought, then the multicultural regime would be in serious trouble. And so, if for no other reason that deterrence, Keith would have to be punished, albeit necessarily outside the letter of the law.

    Rabois and his co-author, a fellow Stanford graduate named David O. Sacks, saw the on-campus reaction—from students and administrators alike—as politically motivated revenge, an attempt to seize on Rabois’ most controversial statements to exact retribution for his record of conservative political speech:

    Over the preceding four years (he had also attended Stanford as an undergraduate), Keith had acquired quite a reputation on campus—as an outspoken College Republican, an advocate for his fraternity, and a leading critic of Stanford’s administrators. None of these causes were popular with Stanford’s multiculturalists, and they could not pass up the perfect opportunity to exact some kind of revenge for the headaches Keith had caused them over the years, while simultaneously reconstituting the multicultural polity.

    The reaction was undeniably harsh. In a letter that was later leaked to The Stanford Daily, the university’s dean of student affairs asked his colleagues to “join me in condemning” Rabois for his “meanness and viciousness.” Stanford’s president called his comments “vile” and “unworthy of Stanford.” A lawyer for Stanford’s general counsel wrote that she was “deeply disturbed that a person of Rabois’ character—and with his obvious disrespect for human dignity—may someday become qualified as a member of my profession.”

    Students, for their part, erected posters bearing Rabois’ face and slogans such as “Homophobia Is Ugly.” Rabois’ law school classmates even organized a letter-writing drive to prevent him from obtaining an summer internship in California. According to The Stanford Daily, students attempted to alert every last law firm in the state of his comments. (After practicing corporate law for several years in the late 1990s, Rabois reunited with Thiel at the online payments startup PayPal, whose 2002 acquisition by eBay earned both men millions.)

    Taken together, Thiel wrote, these statements and actions “reinforced the sense among the Stanford community that Keith was guilty of a truly heinous crime.” The true offenders, he argued, were Stanford’s “multiculturalists,” whose “convulsive reaction bore no relation to the offending action” yet had “concluded that their response had been perfectly even-handed; the punishment had fit the crime.” As for Rabois himself, Thiel acknowledged that screaming “Can’t wait until you die, faggot!” was “rude,” but not rude enough to warrant “months of public condemnation and ostracism.”

    This forceful defense of Rabois is particularly noteworthy in light of the perception that Thiel’s years-long stealth legal war against Gawker Media is motivated by the fact that the company’s defunct Silicon Valley gossip site, Valleywag, once wrote about the fact that Thiel openly dates men. This claim is obviously untrue: Thiel has explicitly stated that he disliked Valleywag because it skewered him, his Silicon Valley friends, and their common dream to reshape the world in their own image.

    Rabois shares his old friend’s view. In several tweets over the past few days, he’s referred to Gawker Media as “evil” and argued that the company deserves the “death penalty.” (In a momentary break of character, he acknowledged that material drawn from a sex tape can be newsworthy.) Still, Rabois doesn’t sense any tension between his free speech radicalism at Stanford and his stance toward Gawker today. “I don’t have any comment and haven’t commented on that in 24 years because I don’t see any relevance of something dumb I did at 22 to the modern world,” he wrote in an email to Gawker. In the same email, he added that “I am not as an anti-Gawker as you presuppose” and acknowledged that “Valleywag published some interesting posts over the years.”

    For his part, Thiel has expressed regret, here and there, for his defense of Rabois. In 2006, he told a Bloomberg reporter that while he thought Rabois’s actions were “offensive and stupid” (in the reporter’s words), “the extreme reaction to it was not quite proportionate to what happened.” According to a 2011 profile in The New Yorker, Thiel “wishes he’d never written about the Rabois incident.” He told the magazine, “All of the identity-related things are in my mind much more nuanced.”

    It’s unclear whether Thiel actually changed his mind about Rabois, or if he simply regrets airing his opinion about him. He didn’t respond to our requests for clarification. But there’s at least one clue that his views toward “political correctness” have not evolved that much. The billionaire now supports Donald Trump.

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    Bill Kristol's President Pick Is a Hot-Taking Blogger Who Loves World of Warcraft and Hates SJWs
    Image: AP

    Yesterday, the identity of Bill Kristol’s mythical Trump-beating independent presidential candidate was revealed as the Iraqi Freedom veteran, constitutional lawyer, and National Review writer David A. French. Never heard of him? Neither had I, so I spent the morning going through his byline, and found some other lines he might add to his resume, such as: Gamergate supporter, lover of nukes, hater of feminism, record-holder for most uses of the term “sexual revolution” when describing his fear of gay and trans people, and, by his own accounting, man who has no realistic chance of becoming president.

    Kristol, the editor of Weekly Standard magazine, is an icon of contemporary conservatism and a leading voice of the mainstream Republican Party push to stop Donald Trump from becoming president at all costs. For months, he has advocated for a third-party candidate to step into the race, with the implication that this candidate could present a reasonable, sophisticated alternative to Trump’s bloviating extremism. That Kristol has anointed French to this role shows that the conservative establishment is as deluded about its own supposed moral high ground over Trump as it is about its chances of beating him.

    The obvious argument against French as the thinking person’s Trump alternative is that nobody knows who he is. French has never held elected office, and his greatest claim to fame is writing for a magazine whose chin-stroking vision of conservatism would only alienate the Trump supporters he’d have to win over, if they were to pick it up and read it. (Fortunately for French, very few American voters pick up and read the National Review.) The other argument against French is that he’s hardly any less of an extremist than Trump is.

    After a few hours spent reading David French, here’s what I’ve learned about him.

    He’s a Gamergater

    David French plays World of Warcraft as “Rickybobby,” a level-85 night elf priest.* I know this, because he gave an interview to Engadget in 2010 about how much he loves to play World of Warcraft. Like every other gamer, he saw his cherished hobby turned into an unlikely political battleground over the last several years, and the antifeminist cause of the Gamergaters lined up nicely with his reactionary worldview.

    Under the impenetrable headline “Social-Justice Warriors Aren’t So Tough When Even ‘Sad Puppies’ Can Beat Them,” French wrote the following defense of right-wing movements in the gaming and sci-fi communities last year:

    Conservatives who love gaming and science fiction (*cough* me *cough*) have long been distressed at the leftist assault on both genres — favorite lefty targets because gaming and sci-fi have long been seen as the habitat of the dreaded species whiteus maleus.


    The response to the social-justice Left in the gaming world was “Gamergate,” an online movement that (and this is an understatement) “punched back twice as hard” against the left-dominated gaming media. The resulting online battles were extraordinarily vicious, with claims and counterclaims of online bullying, “doxing” (exposure of personally identifying information on the web), and general internet hand-to-hand combat.

    In science fiction, the response was “Sad Puppies,” a movement led by conservative author Larry Correia. Why Sad Puppies? Because “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.” Correia and his Sad Puppies targeted the Hugo Awards, prestigious writing awards voted on by members of “Worldcon,” the World Science Fiction Convention. Correia had known that the social-justice Left had campaigned against him previously, so he countered with his own campaign — assisted by leading conservative and libertarian authors. In 2014, they succeeded in getting a number of nominations. The tolerant Left’s response was predictable.

    French rarely uses the term “Gamergate” in his writing, but the ideology is always there, whether he’s recapping Game of Thrones— Game of Thrones Recap: Social Justice Edition” was a recent headline—or explaining how Star Wars proves feminists are clueless about science fiction. He once called President Obama “social justice warrior-in-chief.”

    I don’t want a president who spends a single iota of his time and energy thinking about so-called SJWs. Frankly, I don’t want a president who even knows what an SJW is.

    He’s obsessed with gay and trans people

    By my count, French has penned 60 blog posts for the National Review’s website since May 1. Roughly a quarter of them are about trans people. A typical post, headlined “A Sad Video Highlights the Contradictions and Tragedy of the Transgender Moment,” sees sinister undertones in a sweet clip of a trans teen girl enjoying a day at the beach.

    The video below is one of the sadder short clips I’ve seen. In it, a teenage boy who calls himself Claire dons a bikini top, adopts exaggerated feminine mannerism, and hits the beach with friends to show the challenges of transgender dating. He apparently fools two straight guys into believing he’s a girl and he gets their phone number.


    But we can’t let a discussion of intellectual contradictions mask the human tragedy. A deeply confused teenager is on the verge of mutilating himself — of literally opening a wound that his body will consistently attempt to close — for the sake of hoping to find love with straight men. The level of psychological confusion and pain is difficult to grasp, but rather than speak the truth to that young man and work diligently to counsel and mentor him, an entire class of people believe that he should irrevocably harm his own body, and the rest of us should believe a lie — that he’s “really” a girl.

    French’s constant fretting over those who’d rather do other things with their genitals than the things he enjoys doing with his isn’t limited to trans people. He’s firmly against gay marriage, and has written an astonishing number of items lamenting what he refers to as the “sexual revolution,” a malaise of permissiveness and desire that he blames for everything from the campus rape crisis to the plight of the white working class. I’m not kidding. Here’s one from March:

    We’re all responsible for our actions, and our income is irrelevant to our moral obligations. We could have the greatest elite in the world, but if America’s poorer citizens can’t stay faithful to their spouses, are indifferent to their academic and work performances, and abuse alcohol and drugs, then their lives will be a struggle — even if we created the big-government, protectionist utopia that the socialist Left and Trump Right seem to crave.

    Sadly, however — as Charles Murray notes in Coming Apart — we’re cursed with an elite that won’t preach what it practices. America’s wealthier citizens tend to get married, stay married, stay in school, and attend church at higher rates. Yet, at the same time, they too often publicly embrace and advocate the moral decline of the sexual revolution and the economic dependence of the welfare state. Rather than leading by word and deed, they wrap themselves in their own prosperous cocoon and substitute good wishes for meaningful actions.

    He thinks poor people are spiritually deficient

    About that “plight of the working class” thing: Recently, French has been second only to his National Review colleague Kevin D. Williamson in terms of telling less fortunate people that they have only themselves to blame. In March, French reflected on time he spent volunteering with his church in Kentucky. Rather than consider the circumstances that may have led his neighbors to destitution, he scolds them for not trying harder to find jobs and screwing around on their wives:

    Yet millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying. As I’ve related before, my church in Kentucky made a determined attempt to reach kids and families that were falling between the cracks, and it was consistently astounding how little effort most parents and their teen children made to improve their lives. If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school. If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor. And always — always — there was a sense of entitlement.

    He’s glad about those nukes we dropped

    Last week, French lambasted the “maudlin sentimentality” with which President Obama discussed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed 100,000 or so innocent civilians. “I am not making this up,” he sneers, before block-quoting a section of the president’s speech about the destruction and death of those two days in 1945.

    Last year, he criticized a U.N. statement in memoriam of the bombings for expressing “tired tropes about peace through education and prosperity,” and a year before that, he called the nuclear attacks a “moral necessity.

    He believes the Muslim world is “overcome with hate”

    If French is being posited at the anti-Trump, it’s fair to assume he’s not in favor of the frontrunner’s signature Muslim ban, but that doesn’t mean he has anything nice to say about followers of the faith. From December:

    It is simply false to declare that jihadists represent the “tiny few extremists” who sully the reputation of an otherwise peace-loving and tolerant Muslim faith. In reality, the truth is far more troubling — that jihadists represent the natural and inevitable outgrowth of a faith that is given over to hate on a massive scale, with hundreds of millions of believers holding views that Americans would rightly find revolting. Not all Muslims are hateful, of course, but so many are that it’s not remotely surprising that the world is wracked by wave after wave of jihadist violence.

    He reads Gawker

    Can you imagine the leader of the free world wasting his time on this drivel?

    Even he doesn’t think he can get elected

    As we noted yesterday, French had the following to say about the prospect of a Trump-killing independent candidate (emphasis ours):

    The American people need the chance to make a better choice. Given the stakes of the election, to simply leave the race to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is to guarantee a terrible presidency marked by incompetence and cronyism. There is just one hope — however slim — of avoiding this national disaster: America needs a third option.

    And at this point, Mitt Romney is the only man who combines the integrity, financial resources, name recognition, and broad public support to make a realistic independent run at the presidency.

    If all that isn’t enough to convince you that French has no shot, just check out the rest of these takes:

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    UCLA Students on Active Shooter Lockdown Are Engineering the Hell Out of Doors Without Locks
    A photo taken today during UCLA’s current lockdown due to an active shooter on campus

    UCLA’s campus is on lockdown, with two people dead in what looks like a murder-suicide according to CBS. The shooting reportedly occurred in the Engineering IV building, and people are being told to shelter in place. The biggest problem? Many of the doors in that building don’t have locks. So the engineering students are reinforcing the doors to keep safe.

    As someone who has visited this part of UCLA a fair amount (and can hear the fire engines passing my apartment on their way to campus) it’s particularly chilling. But the tweets I’m seeing of people making tough engineering decisions in the face of yet another American mass shooting are somehow heartening (Update, 3:16pm ET: LAPD have confirmed it was “just” a murder-suicide, so no “mass shooting” here, which is a definition that Americans love to fight about). These brave people in the Engineering part of campus are doing what they do best: Engineering the fuck out of their labs. Welcome to America, 2016.

    Above we see a photo taken just moments ago by Jason Schechter, who explains on Twitter: “The doors open outward and we can’t lock them so we are barricading things in front of the door #Ucla #activeshooter.”

    UCLA Students on Active Shooter Lockdown Are Engineering the Hell Out of Doors Without Locks

    Another Twitter user Daph, explains that they’re barricaded in another room in Bunche Hall. “Doors open outward, no locks. Lots of helicopters and yelling outside,” the person continues.

    UCLA Students on Active Shooter Lockdown Are Engineering the Hell Out of Doors Without Locks

    Twitter user Carrie Rapaport has tweeted, “Using my belt to lock the door down. #UCLA #activeshooter”

    UCLA Students on Active Shooter Lockdown Are Engineering the Hell Out of Doors Without Locks

    Pranasha Shrestha tweeted quite an elaborate set-up, saying that the doors open outward and that without locks they’re having to improvise.

    This is still an ongoing situation but we’re hoping that the killing is through. And whatever the motivations of the killer or killers, fuck them in their fucking faces. Also, ban guns.

    Update, 3:16pm ET: Los Angeles Police are confirming that there are two men dead and that there is no longer a threat on campus. Also, ban guns.

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    Russia’s Anti-Police State Artist Nominated For Police State Prize
    Photo: AP

    Petr Pavlensky—my favorite performance artist since he nailed his scrotum to the Red Square to protest Russia’s police state and “the apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of Russian society”—has been in jail since November, after he set fire to Moscow’s Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters’ non-functional, symbolic wooden door. The FSB—formerly, the KGB—apparently has a state art prize. This year, Pavlensky was nominated and, for some reason, the FSB has accepted this nomination. It is unclear who is trolling who, but even if he wins (ha!), this artist is going to be in jail for awhile.

    Pavlensky has been charged with “vandalism motivated by ideological hatred.” The ideological hatred, which he expressed in his artistic statements, is for the FSB, their renewed Soviet-style oppression and surveillance, and their slightly singed offices—the same offices once used by the KGB and the Soviet Union’s first secret police, Cheka. There’s a deadly, disgusting history here.

    The Russian Security Services (FSB) Prize for Literature and the Arts awards work on the subject of the FSB, so the piece certainly qualifies. It’s a “fuck you,” but it qualifies. The Moscow Times reports that the pyro-political performance was nominated by Maria Baronova, a coordinator of the “Open Russia” human rights project with political ambitions. She’s said the nomination has been accepted and “is worthy of the highest consideration of FSB award organizing committee... I ask them to appreciate Pavlensky’s art.”

    The last time Pavlensky was nominated for a state prize (“Innovation”), he was disqualified for “obvious violation of the law” and “material damage,” which caused angry mass walkouts from the selection committee and the cancellation of the prize’s visual art category.

    Pavlensky is still awaiting trial but has meanwhile managed to get his “vandalism” charge upgraded to “damaging a cultural heritage site” (that deadly, disgusting one), earn an additional “vandalism” charge for an old pro-Ukraine protest, and be the subject of brutal beat down by police in transit to court. Prolific!

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    Facebook Stands By Peter Thiel
    Image: Getty / Gizmodo

    During an appearance at Code Conference 2016 today, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that Peter Thiel acted independently from Facebook during his financing of lawsuits against Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company.

    “Peter did what he did on his own. We didn’t know about it,” Sandberg said. “We have very different board members with very different thoughts,” she added. “Those people make good board members because they have strong views that they’re not afraid to show them.”

    When asked whether Thiel would remain on Facebook’s board of directors, Sandberg said yes, Mashable reported.

    Thiel, who was one of Facebook’s earliest investors, recently admitted that he has funded lawsuits against Gawker Media. Since his involvement became publicly known, some have called for Facebook to remove him from its board. But on Wednesday, Sandberg—and, by extension, Facebook more broadly—appear to have made the decision to stand behind him.

    “These are hard issues and no one is going to pretend that when independent board members do things it’s going to be easy for the companies,” Sandberg said. She added that had Thiel involved Facebook directly, things would be different: “If he did anything with Facebook resources, that would be a Facebook issue.”

    As many have previously noted, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has been a staunch defender of free speech. After Gizmodo reported on the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team, in which a former contractor alleged that conservative stories were suppressed, Zuckerberg himself defended the platform’s purpose as one that encourages conversation and the free flow of ideas:

    Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice. We believe the world is better when people from different backgrounds and with different ideas all have the power to share their thoughts and experiences. That’s what makes social media unique. We are one global community where anyone can share anything — from a loving photo of a mother and her baby to intellectual analysis of political events.

    To serve our diverse community, we are committed to building a platform for all ideas. Trending Topics is designed to surface the most newsworthy and popular conversations on Facebook. We have rigorous guidelines that do not permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or the suppression of political perspectives.

    As Buzzfeed notes, Mark Zuckerberg controls the majority stockholder voting power and Thiel is up for re-election at Facebook’s June 20 stockholder meeting:

    Whether or not Zuckerberg is forced to address the Thiel situation at the 11 a.m. stockholder meeting at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City, his thumbs-up, or down, vote will be the most forceful statement he can make about his board member — a man who some argue is setting a chilling precedent for media companies that publish stories not to the liking of powerful billionaires.

    Will Facebook, a company dependent on publishers for the content that fuels its News Feed, stand by a board member seeking the destruction of one of those very publishers?

    In February, Zuckerberg criticized comments made by another Facebook investor, Marc Andreessen, who sent out a series of tweets about Free Basics and Facebook in India that many found offensive. Zuckerberg wrote that he “found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.”

    Sandberg, however, dismissed similarities between the two situations.

    “When he did his tweet, it almost looked like he was talking for Facebook,” she said. In Thiel’s case, Sandberg said the distinction between the person and the company was clear enough. “We decided not to comment,” she added.

    [Disclosure: Facebook has launched a program that pays publishers, including the New York Times and Buzzfeed, to produce videos for its Facebook Live tool. Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company, recently joined that program.]

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    Uber Takes $3.5 Billion from Country Where Driving While Female Is Illegal
    Image of a woman who would be subject to imprisonment or physical punishment should she enter that car behind the wheel:

    Uber, Silicon Valley’s moral compass, just accomplished perhaps the greatest-ever feat of brand synergy: The New York Times reports that the transit company just banked a $3.5 billion funding round from the Saudi Arabian government, which prohibits women from driving under penalty of lashing.

    Not only are Saudi women banned from operating motor vehicles altogether, even accepting a ride from a man who is not your husband or brother can land you in hot water. In 2013, two Saudi women were apprehended after being caught driving, and although they were spared a whipping, they were held in police custody until their husbands could arrive and sign a form promising that they would never drive again.

    The investment round comes at a time when U.S. legislators are pushing for the release of a 28-page redaction from a 9/11 post mortem report that possibly indicates Saudi involvement in the terror attack, along with a movement that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to file lawsuits against Saudi Arabia.

    The stiflingly oppressive kingdom will now stand alongside the likes of Jeff Bezos, Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other investors who stand to profit immensely from Uber’s vampiric spread across the world, subverting healthy labor norms wherever it goes. Now, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will welcome a Saudi governmental representative to his board, the Times reports:

    As part of the investment, a managing director at the Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, will take a seat on Uber’s board, joining Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, and other directors, including Arianna Huffington.

    “We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement. “Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms.”

    This statement of values will probably not come as much relief to the women Uber riders who say they have fallen victim to sexual harassment and assault, nor to those who will be riding with Uber in the future.

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    Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes' Net Worth Was Always a Load of Crap
    Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Holmes: Getty

    This morning, Forbes made a big announcement. Tech darling Elizabeth Holmes—the founder of the disgraced blood-testing firm Theranos—is no longer a multi-billionaire. Instead, Forbes estimates, she’s now worth “nothing.” This is a delicious scoop of schadenfreude, but it’s one that nonetheless obscures that Holmes was always actually worth, to use Forbes’ term, nothing.

    So how did Holmes, who last year was named by Forbes as the richest self-made woman in America, experience a net-worth reduction from $4.5 billion to $0.00? Well, her once-fêted company—which purported to transform blood-testing, and by extension, the entire field of medicine—has been exposed as a complete fraud. Forbes writes:

    Our estimate of Holmes’ wealth is based entirely on her 50% stake in Theranos, the blood-testing company she founded in 2003 with plans of revolutionizing the diagnostic test market. Theranos shares are not traded on any stock market; private investors purchased stakes in 2014 at a price that implied a $9 billion valuation for the company.

    Since then, Theranos has been hit with allegations that its tests are inaccurate and is being investigated by an alphabet soup of federal agencies. That, plus new information indicating Theranos’ annual revenues are less than $100 million, has led FORBES to come up with a new, lower estimate of Theranos’ value.

    Here you see the flaw in the methodology Forbes uses to rank the richest people on Earth (which, at this point, is essentially what Forbes exists to do): Holmes owns 50 percent of Theranos, which had an “implied” value of $9 billion, ergo Holmes herself was worth $4.5 billion. Except, it turns out, Forbes apparently didn’t really know how much money Theranos was actually taking in, which would, as Forbes acknowledges, have given a far more accurate picture of how much the company was really worth.

    What’s more, Forbes discovered that Holmes’ stock in the company is actually of a lesser class than that of her investors, who own a type of share that gets paid back before hers do:

    Theranos investors own preferred shares, which means they get paid back before Holmes, who owns common stock. According to VC Experts, investors in Theranos own a particular kind of preferred equity, called participating preferred shares, which take precedence to common stock in the event of a liquidation. FORBES is not aware of any plans to liquidate. If that were to happen, participating preferred investors would get their money back and more before Holmes gets a cent.

    Per Forbes, Theranos’ value is closer to $800 million (which, given that the company has failed to deliver on its entire stated reason for existing, still seems enormously generous). At $800 million, the publication estimates that “Holmes’ stake is essentially worth nothing.” Basically, there is some threshold where, because Holmes is far back in line in terms of who would profit off Theranos, her 50 percent stake in her company is meaningless.

    But Forbes doesn’t seem to know where to draw the line at which point Holmes’ 50 percent stake in Theranos would actually return a profit on its sale (or if they do they’re not telling). At $800 million—which represents something like a 90 percent decrease in its previous value—her equity is supposedly worth zip. But what if the company is worth $3 billion? What about $5 billion? At what point does the switch flip from Holmes being a billionaire to a regular old broke plebe?

    Forbes’ estimates of various people’s net worths based on fuzzy math is mostly a fun internet parlor game that doesn’t have any real world consequences when comparing, say, pop stars. In 2015, for example, Forbes reported on the earnings of various celebrities: Katy Perry made $135 million and Taylor Swift only made $80 million. Slay her, queen! You don’t need a squad! But this stuff actually matters when we’re dealing with people trafficking in work as important as, you know, testing for diseases.

    On the supposed strength of Theranos’ claims and the power of the appeal of Holmes’ story and personal packaging—all of which is tied up with her net worth—Time named her one of the most influential people in the world last year. She quite nearly fundraised for our likely president before someone managed to intervene. As this New Yorker profile elucidates, she has been given coveted platforms to sell her snake oil.

    This problem is heightened specifically within Silicon Valley, where money has a very different meaning than it does in much of the rest of the world. Companies that don’t make money—and aren’t expected to—are tagged with values that are speculative and theoretical, which elevates their CEOs onto magazine covers and stages, where they try their hands at thinkfluencing the world the rest of us actually live in. Some, like David Karp, the CEO of Tumblr, are smart enough to sell before the house of cards blows over. Others, like Snapchat’s Evan Speigel, actually make good on investor bets and as such are afforded things like $12 million mansions, but those are exceptions.

    This isn’t all Forbes’ fault, of course. The world would have taken note of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Theranos no matter who was doing the reporting on it. But when the press changes the definition of “following the money” from investigating trails of cash to bestowing titles such as “The Richest Self-Made Woman in America,” it means that we’re not reporters as much as we are propagandists.

    All of which is to say that Elizabeth Holmes’ alleged sudden plunge into the 99 percent didn’t really happen. She isn’t a billionaire because she never was one in the first place.

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    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More

    A fantastic smartphone, Saucony running gear, and a headrest tablet mount lead off Wednesday’s best deals.

    Bookmark Kinja Deals and follow us on Twitter to never miss a deal. Commerce Content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here to learn more, and don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter.

    Top Deals

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    ASUS Zenfone 2 Deluxe Special Edition, $269

    ASUS’s Zenfone 2 was already one of the best affordable smartphones on the market at its typical price, and today only, Amazon’s taking an extra $130 off the highest end model.

    First, the basics. $269 gets you a 2.3Ghz Intel processor, 4GB of RAM, a 5.5" IPS display, and 128GB (!!!) of built-in storage. There are also a few extra goodies here to enjoy, like dual SIM slots and a pair of interchangeable back plates. It’ll only work on GSM networks like AT&T or T-Mobile, but if you’re in the market for a good phone, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.

    Just note that like all Gold Box deals, this price is only available today, or until sold out.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Saucony Gold Box

    If you need a little extra motivation to start exercising, Amazon’s offering great prices on Saucony running shoes, apparel, and accessories, today only. Prices start under $40 for shoes, and all of the clothing items are available for under $20, so sprint over to Amazon to check out the full selection.

    Note: Several of these include multiple color options; click through to the product page to see them.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    SanDisk 48GB SSD, $95

    This 480GB SSD was down to an all-time low $94 during yesterday’s Amazon Gold Box deal, but if you missed out, it’s just $1 more today on Best Buy’s eBay storefront. Even if you don’t want to install this directly into a computer, it would make a great external drive as well.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Steam Controller, $35 | Steam Link, $35

    If you hurry over to GameStop, you can save $15 on a Steam Controller or Steam Link, representing the first true deals we’ve seen on these products. Plus, use promo code SAVER at checkout for free shipping.

    Have any experience with these products? Sound off in the comments!

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Party Package, $45

    It’s summer, you’re an adult...why shouldn’t you buy your own snow cone machine? $45 is the lowest price ever on this Hawaiian Shaved Ice starter kit, which includes the ice machine, 25 cups, and three bottles of syrup. Just watch out for brain freeze.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Ninja Professional BL660, $106

    The Ninja Professional BL660 recently took home the title of your favorite affordable blender, and Amazon’s marked it down to $106 today.

    Granted, that’s not an all-time low price (it’s dipped to $98 on a few brief occasions), but you’ll frequently see it for $120 or more, so if you’re in the market, I’d pull the trigger. The BL660 includes an 1100 watt motor, a 72 ounce pitcher, and a pair of single-serve smoothie cups so you don’t have to clean the big pitcher every time you feel like making yourself a smoothie to go.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    AmazonBasics Laptop Sleeves, $9-$11

    Amazon went out and made their own felt laptop sleeves, and all three sizes are down to all-time low prices today. Each sleeve includes a pocket for your laptop, a velcro clasp, and several smaller pockets for cables, mice, and pens, and other trinkets.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Chevron Techron, $7

    Chevron’s Techron fuel system cleaner claims to clean, restore, and protect the entire fuel system in your vehicle, and judging by the glowing user reviews, it really does seem to work. Amazon will sell you a 20 ounce bottle today for $7, which is inexplicably less than the current price of the 12 ounce bottle.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Samsung UN55JS9000 Curved 3D 4K Smart TV, $1199

    In the market for a new TV? This curved 3D 4K Samsung smart TV is down to $1199 on BuyDig’s eBay storefront today, or $400 less than Amazon.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Philips Sonicare Airfloss, $40 after $10 coupon

    Update: Sold out

    The Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra is rechargeable, handheld, and can be used with water or mouthwash, firing 1-3 bursts of high pressure cleaning between your teeth and along your gum line. It’s painless, easy to use, travel and shower friendly, and most importantly, you might actually start flossing if you have one.

    For a limited time, Amazon’s offering a $10 off coupon on this model, bringing it all the way down to $40.

    Amazon’s Prime Pantry program is great for stocking up on household goods and non-perishable foods without actually having to visit a store, but the $5.99 per box shipping charge has always been a drag. This month though, if you buy five select items, you can get that fee waived.

    Bonus: If you already have a no-rush free shipping credit in your account, this deal actually appears to stack, netting you an extra $6 discount.

    They ran a similar promotion the last few months with different eligible items. Just add five of them to your box (plus anything else that will fit), and use code PANTRYJUN at checkout to get free shipping.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Lodge 10" Cast Iron Skillet, $15

    The humble and inexpensive cast iron skillet is one of most important pieces of cooking gear you can own, and Lodge’s highly-rated 10” model is back down to $15 again on Amazon. If you don’t own one, you shouldn’t hesitate.

    Cooking for one? The 8" model is down to $10 as well.

    While you’re there, pick up some cast iron scrapers or a chainmail scrubber for cleaning, and a silicone handle cover to protect your hands.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Mpow QC 2.0 Charger, $5 with code WCIGSKHN

    It only has the one port, but still, $5 is one of the best prices we’ve ever seen on a Quick Charge 2.0 wall charger.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    ASUS K401, $570

    If you’re in the market for a new Windows laptop, ASUS’s K401 is a fantastic rig for $570.

    That gets you a 14" 1080p screen, a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics. The one glaring weakness here is the 750GB HDD, but you could easily swap in an SSD later.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Cuisinart 3-in-1 Griddler, $67

    Cuisinart’s 3-in-1 Griddler is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances you can own, and it can be yours today for just $67.

    Why stop with just a griddle, grill, and panini press? Add the optional waffle iron plates to your cart, and get even more use out of your new toy.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    TFY Universal Headrest Mount, $17 with code TABLETBK

    Before you head out on your next summer road trip, be sure to pick up this headrest tablet stand for just $17 with code TABLETBK. Just about everyone these days uses tablets to keep their kids (or adult passengers) quiet in the backseat, and this mount should be a dramatic ergonomic improvement.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Remington Gold Box

    Whether you’re trimming your beard, giving out haircuts, or completely obliterating body hair with an epilator, today’s Remington Gold Box deal on Amazon has you covered. A few highlights are below, but head over to Amazon to see all of the available deals.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Wi-Fi OBD2 Scanner, $14 with code WIFIOBD3

    Update: Sold out

    You’ve heard of Automatic’s smart driving assistant, but if $80-$100 is too rich for your blood, this cheap OBD2 dongle connects to any iPhone or Android device over Wi-Fi, and can fulfill many of the same functions using various third party apps.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    DualShock 4, $45

    We’ve seen DualShock 4 controllers dip as low as $39 on extremely rare occasions, but if you need a spare, I wouldn’t hesitate at $45.

    And in case you missed it, Xbox One controllers are available for $40 today as well.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Xbox One Gamepad, $40

    If you need an extra controller for your Xbox One, or just want to upgrade your PC gamepad, this $40 deal is a match for the best we’ve seen. And yes, this is the new model with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Refurb PS Vita, $100

    The PS Vita doesn’t get a ton of new games at this point, but it might be worth it just for remote PS4 streaming, and you can pick one up a refurb just $100 today, easily the best price we’ve ever seen.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Vansky White Bias Light, $15 with code EGES1519 | Vansky RGB Bias Light, $19 with code EGES1519

    For a few years now, Antec’s USB-powered HDTV bias light has been one of our most reliably popular deals whenever it went on sale. The problem: It only got a significant discount once every few months. Luckily, a copycat has emerged to fill in the gap.

    Just like the Antec model, these Vansky LED light strips plug directly into your TV’s USB port for power, and sticks to the back of the set via built-in adhesive. Once you turn your TV on, the light strip will cast a soft glow on the wall behind it, which can reduce eyestrain when watching in the dark, and improve your TV’s perceived black levels.

    Whenever we post a deal on the Antec light, it sells out within hours. I’m not sure if that’ll be the case today, but I wouldn’t take any chances.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More

    It’s not unusual to see a deal on one of KMASHI’s ultra-popular (and ultra-affordable) USB battery packs, but today, you have discounts on three different capacities to choose from. Just be sure to note the promo codes.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Magformers Magnetic Building Blocks Gold Box

    These Magformers magnetic building blocks are ostensibly designed for kids, but hell if I don’t want them myself. Amazon’s discounting over a dozen different sets today, starting at just $15.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Amazon Fire Kids Edition, $80, or $150 when you buy two with code SUMMER2PACK

    If you have kids, Amazon ingeniously created a kid-centric version of its popular 7" Fire tablet, and you can save $20 when you buy one today, or $50 if you buy two (using code SUMMER2PACK).

    The Kids Edition includes a rugged rubber case, parental controls, a year’s subscription to FreeTime Unlimited (a subscription service with tons of kid-friendly media), and a two year warranty that covers accidental damage. Kids will love using it, and you’ll love the peace and quiet.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Mohu Leaf 30, $30

    If you want to stop paying your cable company $100/month for channels you don’t watch, it might be time to cut the cord. Between services like Netflix, Hulu+, Sling TV, and HBO Now, it’s easier than ever to declare cable independence, but a good antenna is still a critical piece of equipment for picking up your local broadcast stations.

    Today on Amazon, the Mohu Leaf 30 is down to $30, or about $10 less than usual. Lifehacker readers voted the Leaf as their favorite antenna, praising its unobtrusive design and great performance, and while it’s not amplified, it should pull in most major networks if you live in or near a city.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Orico 2.5" SSD Enclosure, $8 with code 43SQ4W83

    If you have any old hard drives laying around, or if you just want to build a super-fast external SSD to store your files, this 2.5" enclosure can convert a bare storage device into a portable external drive in seconds. Plus, $8 is the best price we’ve ever seen on a model that supports UASP, which enables faster transfer speeds when using an SSD.

    Today's Best Deals: ASUS Smartphone, Saucony Running Gear, Free Chick-Fil-A, and More
    Brother HL2300D Monochrome Laser Printer, $65 | Brother HL2380DW Monochrome Laser Printer, $100

    Brother laser printers dominated the voting in our Kinja Co-Op for best printer, and it’s easy to see why: They basically never jam, toner is much cheaper than ink (and it never dries out if you don’t use it), and they print much faster than any other consumer-level printer; on the order of 25-30 pages per minute, even when printing duplex. The glaring trade-off is that they don’t print in color, but it’s easier to live without that than you might think.

    Update: The 2380DW has sold out on Amazon, but you can get it from eBay for the same price.

    The two models on sale today both include all of the advantages seen above, but the $65 HL-2300D is a USB-connected, barebones affair, while the $100 HL-2380DW adds a scanner, a touchscreen, and wireless networking, including AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Both prices are the best we’ve seen in months, so do yourself a favor and lock in your order before they sell out.




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    Plainclothes Cop Charged With Manslaughter, Attempted Murder in Shooting Death of Florida Man
    Corey Jones. Credit: Jones family

    On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja on charges of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Raja shot Jones on the side of a highway in the early hours of October 18, 2015. Jones, an area musician, was returning home from a gig.

    Charging documents released Wednesday allege that Raja, a plainclothes cop, did not identify himself as a police officer to Jones before shouting directions and opening fire, the Washington Post reports, Around 3:15 am, prosecutors say, Raja drove his unmarked van in the wrong direction down an off-ramp to confront Jones.

    “The grand jury today found that the use of force by Mr. Raja was unjustified,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. “Mr. Raja has been arrested and taken into custody.”

    Jones’ car had broken down, and he had pulled over to the side of the road to wait for a tow truck. He was on the phone with an AT&T call center operator when Raja pulled up. The documents include a transcript of their exchange:

    Raja: You good?

    Jones: I’m good.

    Raja: Really?

    Jones: Yeah, I’m good.

    Raja: Really?

    Jones: Yeah.

    Raja: Get your f—ing hands up! Get your f—ing hands up!

    Jones: Hold on!

    Raja: Get your f—ing hands up! Drop!

    Then, Raja fired three shots. Ten seconds later, he fired another three shots. Thirty seconds after firing his last round, prosecutors allege, Raja called 911. “I came out, I saw him come out with a handgun,” Raja told the dispatcher. “I gave him commands, I identified myself, and he turned, pointed the gun at me and started running. I shot him.”

    Jones’ gun, which he’d bought only three days prior, was found 72 feet away from his vehicle; his body was found 192 feet away. A lawyer for the victim’s family had previously said that Jones never fired his weapon. “We have confirmed that Corey never fired his gun,” the attorney, Benjamin Crump said. “It really makes you wonder why the officer fired his.”

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    Chief Pentagon Flack Threatens Nanny, Steals License Plates Over Supposed Misuse of Parking Pass

    Bryan Whitman was “one of the Pentagon’s top spokesmen” during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post. These days, as one of the highest ranking civilians in the DOD’s public affairs office, he “personally advises the Secretary of Defense.” In his downtime, though, Bryan Whitman has apparently taken it upon himself to be the neighborhood parking pass vigilante that no one asked for.

    It all started on April 4, when a local nanny in a neighborhood near Capitol Hill found the following note on her front windshield:

    I know you are misusing this visitor pass to park here daily. If you do not stop I will report it, have your car towed and the resident who provided this to you will have his privileges taken away.

    The nanny, in fact, was doing nothing illegal at all, but Whitman wasn’t about to let a silly thing like the law interfere with justice. So two days later, he stole one of her license plates. He let another two days passed. The nanny, however, continued to park undeterred. So he stole the other license plate.

    The nanny then had the plates replaced and secured with “hefty allen bolts,” so in late April, when Whitman tried to swipe them once again, he was forced to walk away empty handed. What’s more, the nanny’s employers had also sprung for a surveillance camera. Which is why we know every absurd detail of what went down a week later. From The Washington Post:

    He returned just before noon, and the charging documents describe in detail how determined he was to unhinge the plate: Parking near the nanny’s van, walking back and forth from his car to hers, crouching behind it, leaving, returning, crouching more, walking back to his car, driving away.

    The process, from beginning to end, took 47 minutes.

    Once the couple finally recognized who it was creeping on their lawn, Whitman’s noble cause of wildly inconveniencing a law-abiding nanny was thwarted at last. Not that that stopped him from parking in front of the couple’s house on the same day as his arraignment.

    The Post notes that “Whitman — who according to two former Pentagon colleagues makes at least $150,000 — has lived on First Street SE in Capitol Hill for about 20 years, court records show. Beyond a fenced courtyard, a brick staircase leads to the front door of his tidy rowhouse, valued by city tax assessors at nearly $900,000.”

    For his crime of passion, Whitman will pay $1,000 and perform 32 hours of community service. The nanny now parks two blocks away out of fear for her own safety. Neighborhood justice for you, folks.

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    Baylor's Ken Starr Is Full Of Shit

    This is the power that comes with not releasing the facts: in an information vacuum, everyone gets to make up their own narrative. On Thursday, it was Baylor’s Board of Regents offering empty talking points, saying they were sorry without admitting to any details of what specifically they were sorry for, or who specifically at their university was responsible for making life hell for women who said they were raped. They said they had “charted a course of action.” Or had they?

    Over the weekend, Baylor changed course. The athletic director who was staying instead resigned after “reflection and prayer,” as if anyone would believe that was what changed Ian McCaw’s mind. Reports on Thursday said defensive coordinator Phil Bennet, who had coached two football players convicted of sexual assault, was taking over the team from Art Briles. None of this went over well, and all of it was wiped away within days by the news that, actually, Jim Grobe was being brought in to lead the team as an interim coach.

    Today it was Ken Starr—yes, that Ken Starr—taking his turn with his version of the truth. On Thursday, the regents said they were keeping him on as chancellor and as a tenured professor at the law school. That news, like so much else of what Baylor has said, got the Baptist university bad press. Today, Starr told ESPN’s Joe Schad that he has decided to step down as chancellor but stay on at the law school. Starr said the move was “a matter of conscience.” (He didn’t point out that June 1 also has in the past been a key date for his contract.)

    Only segments of Starr’s interview made it onto ESPN, but Schad has been tweeting more from his sitdown, which was originally aired earlier today on an Outside the Lines broadcast (on which I was a guest). Here are a few selections:

    The president and chancellor of a university, the person in charge of running the place, said he had no idea what was going on at his university. He was either willfully ignorant, genuinely stupid, or lying.

    ESPN’s Paula Lavigne literally caught him in the fallacy of this line on air on Outside the Lines. She later tweeted out the information as well.

    The numbers reported to the federal government also tell a different story. Here’s a screenshot from the U.S. Department of Education’s own campus safety website (first pointed out on Twitter):

    Baylor's Ken Starr Is Full Of Shit

    The off-campus claim also contradicts Lavigne’s earlier reporting, in which women raped off campus said they told Baylor officials about what happened and were met with lackluster investigations or no investigations at all.

    At this point, Starr has decided he doesn’t even agree with the findings of fact released by the regents, which he can do because the finding of fact contained no facts.

    Starr also has insisted that he had no idea there was a problem at Baylor until 2015, even though former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014. Several of his victims have spoken openly about how they reported their rapes to Baylor only to be met with indifference. Starr’s talking point today went like this:

    There’s more from Schad’s timeline, but the idea is the same. Starr at one point compares Briles to Abraham Lincoln and says “students love Uncle Ken.” (It’s worth pointing out that two significant ESPN interviews with men accused of horrific actions—Greg Hardy and Ken Starr—have been conducted by reporters who don’t work for the network’s investigative unit.)

    All of this—the endless PR statements, the baffling sit-down interviews, Starr giving an interview where his statements are on-air being shown as lies—is possible because Baylor still hasn’t said what really happened. Yes, the documents released Thursday had strong language and they sounded scary but they didn’t have any real facts behind them. There were no names for who was involved, no timeline of events, not even an attempt to to put a number on how many women at Baylor were sexually assaulted.

    Nobody has been told who it was that retaliated against a person who reported a sexual assault. Nobody has been told who decided athletics could have its own internal judicial system. Nobody knows who from the administrative side has been fired. Nobody has said how far back this goes. Nobody has said anything about what exactly were the “reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players.”

    Without the facts, anything can be true so long as someone from Baylor will issue a press release or go on TV to talk about it. That’s what’s going to happen until Baylor finally finds the right public announcement that makes all the reporters go away. On Thursday, it was the regents. Over the weekend, it was McCaw. Today, it was Starr. Tomorrow, maybe it will be a few more regents. At some point, Briles will probably do his own forgiveness tour too. Everyone is sorry; nobody is at fault. Conduct by administrators that blamed the victims, discouraged women from reporting sexual assault, and improperly discredited complainants that were filed? It all just “happened.”

    This is why Baylor should release everything they gave Pepper Hamilton immediately. Baylor bragged about how much it gave Pepper Hamilton’s lawyers (including “more than a million pieces of information—from correspondence to interviews to reports”) but none of this material is reproduced in its vaunted finding of fact, or even cited. So release it. Tell the truth. Stop doing public relations and start taking responsibility. For once, produce an actual act of good faith. Or, to take a cue from John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

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    Sources: UCLA Professor Fatally Shot by Student Over Grades
    Professor William S. Klug. Photo: UCLA

    Citing law enforcement sources, CBS News reports that the two people who died in today’s shooting at UCLA were an engineering professor and a student “apparently despondent about grades.”

    The network identified the professor as William Klug, who specialized in computational mechanics and received a Ph.D from Caltech in 2003. The name of the student, who is also believed to have been the shooter, has not been released.

    Early reports suggested at least three people had died in the shooting, which authorities are now calling a murder-suicide. From KNBC:

    William Klug was in an office inside Boelter Hall on the Westwood campus before 10 a.m. when he was reportedly shot and killed by an unidentified student who then took his own life, sources told NBC4.

    A gun and a note were found near the bodies, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said during an afternoon press conference.

    “I’m just outraged,” a student who knew Klug told KNBC. “I’m mad that someone would do that to a young professor who just started his career at UCLA. It’s just a shame.”

    UPDATE 8:45 p.m.: The L.A. Times reports that UCLA has cancelled all engineering classes for the rest of the week.

    “The campus remains in a state of sorrow over the tragic shooting and loss of two members of the Bruin community this morning,” executive vice chancellor and provost Scott L. Waugh said at a press conference Wednesday evening. “We’re trying to restore the campus to order as quickly as possible.”

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    RNC's Head of Hispanic Relations Quits for Some Reason
    Photo: AP

    Ruth Guerra, the Republican National Committee’s Director of Hispanic Media, will resign from her position later this month, The New York Times reports.

    According to RNC aides, Guerra previously told coworkers she was uncomfortable working for Donald Trump. Last Friday, Trump called Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing the lawsuit against Trump University, a “hater” and “Mexican, which is great.” Curiel was born in Indiana.

    When reached by the Times, Guerra declined to offer her personal opinion of the Republican nominee.

    Shortly after news of Guerra’s departure broke, the RNC issued a press release naming Helen Aguirre Ferré as the organization’s new Director of Hispanic Communications.

    “I am proud to be joining the RNC at such a critical time,” said Ferré in a statement. “I’m eager to make the case to the Hispanic community why Republican ideas and values are the way forward for our country.”

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    Reality Show The Biggest Loser Target of Doping Probe
    Personal trainer Bob Harper, accused of encouraging contestants to vomit. Photo: AP

    This week, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that they have opened an inquiry into NBC reality series The Biggest Loser over possible illegal drug use on set.

    “What we’re doing is an inquiry into what’s happening on The Biggest Loser,” a police spokesperson told the New York Post. “It’s an ‘inquiry,’ not a full-blown investigation.”

    Authorities say the probe was spurred by an article published by the Post last month. According to former contestants interviewed by the paper, the show’s staff encouraged them to lose weight by vomiting and taking drugs. From Fox News:

    Season 2 contestant Suzanne Mendonca said five people on her edition of the show were rushed to the hospital due to alleged abuse from show trainers and medical staff.

    Joelle Gwynn, from the 2008 “Couples” version of “Loser,” said she was directed to take ephedra, a drug used to boost weight loss and energy that was banned by the FDA in 2004.

    “People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom,” Mendonca told the Post. “They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. [Show trainer] Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’”

    In separate statements to Variety, Harper and The Biggest Loser’s producers called the allegations “without merit and false.”

    “The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount,” wrote Harper. “Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight loss drugs. We prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety.”

    h/t deathandtaxes

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