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    Images: Getty

    Are you one of the roughly 6,000 people currently living or working in the United States’ most notorious extrajudicial prison complex and naval base? Do you fucking love Ludacris? Then it’s your lucky day, friend. Because on July 4th, Ludacris will be playing Gitmo, live and in person for one night only.

    Just like any other Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay takes steps to keep the spirits of its (non-unconstitutionally detained) inhabitants high. And this Independence Day, that means Luda.

    From The Miami Herald:

    The base notified residents this weekend of the main event of the no-charge “Freedom Festival” at Guantánamo’s Windward Ferry Landing. It starts with activities for families at 6 p.m., the traditional fireworks show at 9 p.m. and the three-time Grammy winner at 10 o’clock.

    The venue is essentially a parking lot along the bay. It’s miles from the closed Detention Center Zone, far enough away so the music won’t reach the seafront prison camps.

    Image: Facebook

    This is apparently a big step up from last year’s Fourth of July act, The Plain White Ts, as “residents couldn’t recall a show of this magnitude since Jimmy Buffett played the open-air Lyceum movie theater in December 2002.” Which sound depressing, sure, if not quite as depressing as it is to be held for years in a torture-happy prison camp without due process.

    In 2003, Ludacris’ hit single “Stand Up” off album Chicken-n-Beer topped the Billboard Hot 100 for an entire week.

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    Bill Cunningham Was the Eyes of the City
    Photo via Getty

    The streets felt emptied Saturday afternoon, after the news broke that Bill Cunningham would no longer be out in them, taking photographs of people and their clothing. Cunningham died at the age of 87, apparently about as well as one could have hoped—quickly, after a stroke, less than three weeks after his last set of photos had run in the New York Times.

    Those photos had been of “that unbeatable combination, black and white,” as Cunningham called it in the accompanying online slideshow. “A lot of people complain about fashion, and fast fashion, and ‘There is no fashion,’” he said. “That’s baloney. Look at this! Hey, I never saw it as good as this in the 1950s.”

    Cunningham had been looking, and retaining what he’d seen—mentally, and in a profusion of filing cabinets in his apartment that crowded out the ordinary accoutrements of living—all the while. Earlier in that slide show, he’d focused on a dress printed with a pattern of dresses, in “silhouettes from the nineteen fif—” He broke off and interrupted himself: “About 1955.”

    Year by year, week by week, hour by hour, Cunningham was on the move in the city with his eyes open and his camera out, witnessing and reporting what people were saying to one another, and about the world, with their clothes. You saw, say, bare shoulders on Fifth Avenue in May, and Cunningham put bare shoulders (“the first summery trend”) on Fifth Avenue in the Times. “Every kind of summer blouse, shirt....,” he said in his online commentary. “It’s wonderful.”

    Cunningham was happy about the trend, but it was a serious happiness. His suite of eccentricities—his bicycle, his blue work jacket, his renunciations of food or money or any sort of dependence—amounted to a self-invented one-man monastic order, devout in his pursuit and examination of what he would call, on the occasions when he had no choice but to explain what it was, beauty.

    His aversion to being examined himself was a running theme in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York, the rare examination to which he did—grudgingly, diffidently, cantankerously—submit. Even the New York Times, in its Cunningham obituary, had to turn to the film for reference. It was a profound and at times heartbreaking thing to watch even when Cunningham was alive and working.

    The rewatching of the movie was yet more melancholy against the backdrop of Pride weekend. Cunningham’s lens championed self-expression, and particularly gay self-expression, through the years of liberation. But his own austerity was shaped, unavoidably, by an older culture, one of constricted possibility. When the question of his personal life comes up, very late, in the movie, he appears to engage with it directly–only to rush past it, to talk instead about what the idea of his possibly being gay might have meant to his working-class Irish Catholic family. First he made ladies’ hats, then he took fashion photos, and with those things he created a space in the world into which he could fit himself.

    Through his work, he embodied, as so many things are supposed to but so few do, the potential of the city. To cross paths with Bill Cunningham was to feel a real thrill, the endless mundane unfolding of the present transformed to the flash of the Now. There are bare shoulders out on Fifth Avenue today, and black-and-white prints, and the iridescent flash of a detail on a bike messenger’s shoes, but there is no more chance of seeing Cunningham seeing them, and New York is a diminished place for that.

    Surely, plenty of street photographers and party photographers are working even now, if not with Cunningham’s particular journalistic rigor. There are uncountable people taking pictures of themselves, in their clothes. We are alive in a moment of endless self-documentation.

    But: I have, piled up on my phone and my computer, hundreds or thousands of snapshots of my own children. Last summer, though, in a crowd of tens of thousands at the Philharmonic in the Park, my younger boy was climbing up a metal barrier when a blue-coated figure, passing by, stopped and snapped his photo. It never appeared in the paper, and it never mattered. The boy was there, and Bill Cunningham saw him.

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    In the Culture War Between Students and Professors, the University Is the Real Enemy

    When I read articles about liberal arts education, often written by or about frightened professors, I sometimes find myself imagining The Frightened Professor as a stock character in a horror movie. In the opening scene of Night of the Super-Woke Student Body, The Frightened Professor stands in a dimly lit room. If they look into a mirror and whisper “microaggression, microaggression, microaggression,” a student activist will appear and attempt to eat their brains while screaming buzzwords—“Marginalization! Identity! Trauma!”—until the professor, sobbing and incoherent, begs for the sweet release only a sabbatical can bring.

    If this dramatization sounds overwrought, consider the title of a widely shared Vox article from last summer: “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.” That fear and demonization of student activists is echoed in many of the responses to Nathan Heller’s wonderful recent New Yorker article about the tensions between students and faculty at Oberlin College. One response has the title “Oberlin Is An Insane Asylum.” The horror movie continues, and practically writes itself.

    In that article, Rob Dreher writes, “Heller doesn’t take a position at all on any of this, just lets Oberlin voices speak. And it’s damning.” I disagree. I thought the Oberlin students sounded, well, exactly how one would expect Oberlin students to sound: bright, articulate, engaged, extremely liberal, fiercely determined to get the education they want.

    One small detail mentioned by Heller has been brought up repeatedly—that Cyrus Eosphoros, one of the interviewed students, wrote an op-ed for the Oberlin student newspaper requesting trigger warnings on Sophocles’ Antigone. The Daily Caller lists the Antigone complaint as #4 in a list of “The 11 Most Absurd Discoveries From The New Yorker’s Oberlin Exposé.” And so I find myself drawn back into the discussion I entered a year ago with a piece I wrote for Jezebel, called “How To Teach An Ancient Rape Joke.” Then, I was responding to a Columbia op-ed expressing concerns about Ovid’s Metamorphoses. First Ovid, now Sophocles! When are students going to stop finding classical literature so upsetting?

    I study Classics professionally, so I have more at stake in this issue than most. I taught Antigone just last semester. And I hope that students never stop being disturbed by it. If you’re mocking students for having a strong emotional response to that text, you haven’t read it. (It should but doesn’t always go without saying that, if you haven’t read something, you have no right to an opinion on its appropriateness for the classroom, particularly on the internet, where there is already so much noise.)

    Oberlin is, as one of the most liberal campuses in the country, an extreme case. But the issues that its students are responding to—racism, sexism, cissexism, elitism—are real issues that hit campuses on every level. Instructors, and especially adjuncts, are facing those very same problems. Instead of treating each other as adversaries, it might be more productive to empathize with each other. We’re battling the same kinds of discrimination. Students are fighting for their education; faculty are fighting for their jobs. Both fights are important. Both should work together much better than they currently do.

    When you construct arguments for a living, as academics do, you’re bound to be wrong sometimes. Maybe most of the time. A lot of academics seem to think that shifting or softening their views is a sign of weakness, and it’s better to double down on a bad claim. But scholars thinking that they have nothing left to learn is part of what created the immense divide between students and faculty that we’re seeing now.

    In the last year, I’ve started to understand what I now see as the mistakes I made in the article I wrote about teaching rape jokes. Specifically, I’ve come to see I was wrong about trigger warnings. Of course we should warn our students in advance about the kind of content they’ll encounter in our classrooms. Relying on the element of surprise to increase the impact of the material you’re teaching is never good pedagogy. I don’t agree with Eosphoros about everything, but I agree about that. Providing trigger warnings (or, my preferred term, content warnings) isn’t “coddling” any more than it would be coddling a student who uses a wheelchair to have a ramp so they can enter the classroom. It’s no more coddling than allowing a student with severe agoraphobia to complete coursework online. It’s no more coddling than providing readings in an electronic format so students who have trouble seeing can increase the text size, or students who have difficulty turning pages can read on a more user-friendly device.

    Absent all other and less relevant concerns about oversensitivity, the Western canon, and political correctness: this debate is about whether we should make our courses accessible to all students. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep talking about oversensitivity, the Western canon, and political correctness. Preparing your students for the material you plan to teach doesn’t automatically mean taking a side in those other, separate conversations.

    Greek tragedy has a way of clarifying these issues (which is, after all, why we still study it). There’s a company called Theater of War that puts on productions of Greek tragedies for veterans as a way of helping them cope with their reintegration into society. They’ve had incredible success in using these plays to help soldiers with PTSD. As one veteran said in a post-production Q&A, these plays have the power “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” But, crucially, the plays are never sprung on those veterans by surprise. Tragedy can be a powerful tool of emotional healing, but only if it’s presented thoughtfully. So give your students content warnings. As one Oberlin professor quoted by Heller said: “You’re going to a Quentin Tarantino film. You’ve never seen one before. It would be a normal thing to say, ‘So how are you with blood?’”

    I was wrong in another way, too. I intentionally left out a fairly significant part of my own story—which is that, after I put a not-insignificant amount of energy into considering how to teach the rape joke in Euripides’ Cyclops in a way that was thoughtful and sensitive, my students could not have cared less. Not a single one of them wanted to talk about the ethics of rape jokes. They were much more interested in symposium culture and the minutiae of the scene’s grammar. In other words, the students were less disturbed by the material than I was by their apathy to it.

    Often ignored in the discussion of the hypothetical oversensitive student is the reality of the insensitive student, who is an equally if not more common figure in the classroom. The blank stare of that student, an undergraduate who is extremely comfortable with upsetting material, haunts me in the same way that the wagging finger of the student activist haunts the imaginations of others. Really, unless you’re at Oberlin, these apathetic students will far outnumber the student activists. This is true even at other elite schools.

    In a class of 10, I’d roughly estimate that you could expect to have at most one activist responding as a loud, resistant reader of the text. Two or three others will be “good students,” the type who are bright and engaged but don’t have a strong agenda other than to get a good grade. One or two will be outwardly hostile to the activist’s approach. And five will seem, to the professor, like they’re there only to warm their seats.

    What often happens in practice is that the lone woke student does not, in fact, receive the response he or she is looking for. This is because instructors are employed not to engage with a single person’s objections, no matter how valid, but rather, to teach the entire class.

    Sometimes, on the other hand, an activist student can successfully engage the rest of the class in a lively and productive discussion—a situation that the instructor can facilitate, and in response to which the instructor will be profoundly grateful. This is one of the few cases in which the unfair burden that women, people of color, and LGBTQIA individuals often carry—to educate others on how to converse without marginalizing them—can be flexible, and fruitful; in college, educating those around you is hard to avoid. Both in college and graduate school, there were times when I felt I was learning much more from the other students around me than I was from my professors. That’s normal and, actually, kind of great.

    This open transfer of knowledge should exist not only between students, and from teachers to students, but also from students to teachers. One of the elements of the liberal campus debate that worries me the most is that everyone is assuming they know what is best for everyone else. Students should accept that sometimes, yes, your instructor with a Ph.D. might know a few things that you don’t. So might the other students. But good professors know that they can learn from their students, too.

    Heller is correct on one crucial point that I don’t think readers have been taking seriously enough. Colleges like Oberlin do encourage individual expression while simultaneously grooming all of their students to belong to a single socioeconomic class—the intellectual and professional elite.

    In other words, studying Antigone doesn’t just teach you about Greek drama and female political resistance. It also turns you into the kind of person who has read Antigone. Judith Butler’s book Antigone’s Claim is a classic, but there’s also been something of a feminist pushback against talking about Butler, because she’s nearly incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t extensively studied feminist theory. And if we believe that feminism should be inclusive, then the intellectual elitism of Butler and Antigone can pose a problem.

    This re-entrenching of elitist ideology at top-tier academic institutions bothers some students (and faculty!), and it probably should. The students who aren’t uncomfortable with it are those who come from so much privilege that they’ve internalized since childhood the idea that they’ll be in charge someday.

    These, of course, are the apathetic students, the one or two in every classroom who are openly hostile to discussions of social justice. If the classroom figures as a war zone, a horror movie, these students are part of it too, and though they present a problem for the activist student, they arguably create an even bigger problem for the instructor. Too many of us have spent an exhausting semester mediating between those two kinds of students, only to discover at the end that both gave you negative evaluations: one saying that you inappropriately allowed your personal politics to influence classroom discussion, one saying you didn’t do enough to make the classroom a safe space for everyone.

    Negative evaluations are, for both kinds of angry students, a weapon of choice. But I wonder if they realize just how powerful and damaging a weapon evaluations are. The professors interviewed for articles like Heller’s are invariably tenured, or at least on the tenure track. Those people are in a small and rapidly diminishing minority. Most faculty these days are contingent faculty, or “adjuncts,” a group that comprises more than half of the academic workforce (some say more than 70 percent).

    What is an adjunct, exactly? The term covers a wide range of different kinds of academic employment, generally defined by a total lack of job security. An adjunct’s contract may be for a single course, or a semester, or a year, or a few years. Some of those contracts include benefits such as health care. Many don’t. Crucially, when those contracts are up, the university has total freedom to choose whether to renew or not. To be an adjunct is to be constantly worried that you won’t be asked to return. The character of The Frightened Professor may have something very real to be afraid of (a much better Vox article than “my students terrify me” addresses this issue).

    Most students are not aware that their professors work within this system. I was at a conference recently where an adjunct faculty member spoke about how she’d given a survey to her students to find out what they knew about the academic labor situation. Most of them didn’t know that she was an adjunct; they didn’t really understand the differences between adjuncts and those on the tenure line. They did, however, have a vague sense that it was better to be taught by tenured or tenure-track professors than by adjuncts. In short: among students, contingency is little-understood and yet still looked down upon.

    What students don’t know is how much their teaching evaluations place adjuncts in a double bind. No matter how glowing your evaluations are, the university will never promote you to a permanent faculty position. There may be rare exceptions to this rule, but I consider those fairy tales. So the upside of good evaluations is minimal, but the consequences of bad evaluations can be catastrophic. There’s such a glut of unemployed PhDs that universities have little incentive to renew the contract of someone students don’t like. (That glut also means that, as a general rule, nobody will ever get a job at a better institution than the one where they got their PhD, making the system elitist as well as exploitative.)

    So, imagine that you are a student about to leave a blistering evaluation, perhaps because the classroom felt either too political or not political enough. You likely have no idea that contingent faculty tend to be women, while tenured positions tend to be men, or that academia has a way of turning pregnancy into a career-ending disability, of forcing women into taking on more service-related duties, of punishing them for speaking their minds. You are likely unaware that student evaluations are heavily biased against women, as well as against people of color, and old people, and unattractive people, too. You probably don’t know that white people make up 80 percent of the contingent faculty workforce—and that even if your instructor is a white male, chances are high that he’s part of an extremely exploitative labor system.

    Maybe the instructor really, really deserves that bad evaluation. But students, in their attempts to protest oppression and marginalization in the university, often inadvertently perpetuate it. What students and instructors have in common is that we must participate in a system that often disproportionately punishes the very people we’re hoping to advocate for.

    Student activists see insensitive faculty as the problem; contingent faculty are hostile to students because complaints can literally be the difference between making a living wage and going on food stamps. They’ve become adversaries. But really, they should be natural allies. Both have excellent reasons to be angry at universities.

    I found Heller’s article heartening because he refuses to give a simple explanation of what’s “wrong” at Oberlin. It’s a problem that won’t fit into a neat box. He often does seem to subtly critique student activism, but he embeds praise within his arguments. Folded into a story about how students self-segregation by race destroyed a research workshop about Black Lives Matter is a quote from the instructor in charge of the program:

    “‘Sometimes it gets caricatured that students are consumers who just want to see themselves reflected in the curriculum, and I suppose those critiques have a certain validity,’ she told me. ‘But my experience is that it’s less about them than about trying to understand peoples and process in a world that’s changing.’ Student movements have an odd habit of ending up on the right side of history.”

    In this you can see how Heller is willing to consider that the students’ goals are worthy, even if they may be trying to achieve those goals in an ineffective or counterproductive way.

    The tensions on college campuses are erupting because they lie at the intersection of very real, very serious issues: systemic oppression, the corporatization of the university, increasing hostility to affirmative action and diversity initiatives. Empathy isn’t the whole answer, but it couldn’t hurt. There are no stock characters here, only human beings with painful personal histories and emotional baggage and uncertain futures.

    Students: read Gawker’s series of adjunct stories. Many of you are paying an extortionate sum and going into debt for your education, and you should know where that money is really going. Faculty: take your students’ pain seriously. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean that they haven’t experienced real trauma, and their desire to make the world better should be celebrated and not ridiculed.

    The great Sophocles scholar Bernard Knox said that Antigone, along with many other Sophoclean heroes, is characterized by what he called “the heroic temper.” The heroic temper is a total inability to compromise or consider the viewpoints of others. For Antigone, there is no moral ambiguity, no gray area. She hangs herself, entombed, a death considered preferable to yielding. It’s a compelling story that we should teach in our universities. It’s no model for political progress or protest.

    Donna Zuckerberg (@donnazuck) is editor of Eidolon, an online Classics journal. She received her PhD from Princeton in 2014 and is currently working on a book about the (ab)use of ancient Greece and Rome by the men’s rights movement. Read more of her work here.

    Source image via Getty

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    Holy Shit, These LA Metro Safety PSAs Are Absolutely Savage 

    When Rihanna sang “Didn’t they tell you I was a savage,” none of us knew that she was really talking about the Los Angeles Metro and their new series of hilariously horrifying safety videos.

    Inspired by the Melbourne Metro’s 2012 “Dumb Ways to Die” video, the series of safety announcements (via Sam Escobar) posit such important conundrums as “Careful or crushed?,” “Dismount or dismembered?” and “Mindful or mangled?” Really makes you think.

    Each video begins the same way: “It’s a beautiful day in Safetyville,” a pleasant female voice says in a tone that later feels like icy ridicule. Little does the viewer know that seconds later they will be watching some poor animated figured being mangled, crushed or beheaded due to their own stupid carelessness.

    To add insult to the literal injuries, each victim is given an entire backstory so we can get a full picture of their untimely demise.

    Take Joan—she’s just catching up on her friend’s social media posts. Too bad Joan’s interest in her friend’s lives results in her being pummeled by an oncoming train. And for Joan’s absentmindedness, all she gets is a glance down by her fellow passenger as he steps over her dismembered limbs with a sort of condescension that suggests stupid-ass Joan should have known better.

    Have you met José? Well you never will now because José has been impaled by a telephone pole. “Uh oh, it looks like Jose’s career took a different path,” the woman chirps. I MEAN, THAT IS SOME STONE COLD SHIT.

    Meet Jack, who is sipping on his morning coffee like a fucking fool because little does he know that cup of coffee is going to cost him his life. “Uh oh, looks like Jack took quite a spill,” the narrator mocks as Jack is beheaded. Yep, oops, there goes his head.

    I get that these videos are meant to help riders stay safe, but for a method of transportation that already doesn’t get much use in Los Angeles, I’m not sure this is encouraging!

    According to the Los Angeles Metro, two more videos are on the way, so, yay. You can watch the rest of their chipper accident videos here.

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    Reminder: Tweeting Death Threats to Politicians "in Character" Is a Very Dumb Idea
    Photo: Twitter/@Chirperson

    On Friday, Capitol Hill police arrested Uber driver Kyler Schmitz over a series of tweets he allegedly sent Missouri Senator Roy Blunt in the wake the Orlando shooting, including a promise to shoot Blunt “in the head” for “allowing someone to murder my loved ones,” NBC News reports.

    According to prosecutors, Schmitz admitted to “purposefully” sending the “direct threat.” According to fiancé Paul Cianciolo, the threat wasn’t sent by Schmitz “as a real person” but by the parody persona (apparently @Chirperson) he used on Twitter.

    Schmitz may have thought his violent messages constituted an equally outrageous response to congressional inaction after a direct attack on his “family,” but the joke failed to land: On Monday, a judge ordered Schmitz held until further proceedings, saying, “I don’t know how to read these tweets in any way but as threatening.”

    And how could he not?

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    Donald Trump Hires Press Advisor Who Might Actually Talk to Press
    Photo: AP

    With his heavily ad-libbed campaign promises, Donald Trump’s media strategy has often better resembled an improv routine. But after the ouster of rogue campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, that may no longer be the case: On Monday, Trump hired veteran GOP operative Jason Miller (who most recently served as a top Ted Cruz aide) to “take the lead role over the Trump campaign’s message and interactions with the news media,” Bloomberg reports.

    Chief among Miller’s new duties will be professionalizing the one-woman press office of Hope Hicks, Trump’s famously tight-lipped press secretary. From CNN:

    The Trump campaign’s communications shop has numbered one for the entire race: Hope Hicks, a political neophyte who became the presumptive GOP nominee’s press secretary. Trump has generated an unprecedented amount of media attention, and has largely preferred to interact with the media himself rather than work through aides.

    In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Trump said he would be adding more communications staffers “soon,” to support and supplement Hicks, but he didn’t provide a time frame.

    Trump and his aides have been predicting P.R. reinforcements for months with little to show for it until now.

    “I think Donald Trump really has been the messenger for the campaign, and today with this Supreme Court decision it shows they need to be on top of it,” conservative lobbyist Tony Perkins told Bloomberg. “I think he’ll be helped greatly by having a communications team who can get these messages out in a timely fashion.”

    One tentative sign of change: After Gawker sent Miller an inquiry email Monday evening, Trump’s newest hire promptly responded.

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    Newly-Hired Trump Aide Deletes Tweets About "Sleazy Donald" for Some Reason
    Photo: Twitter

    At some point before he was brought on as Donald Trump’s senior advisor for communications on Monday, former Ted Cruz advisor Jason Miller carried out what’s quickly becoming a rite of passage for new recruits to Team Trump: Erasing all your shit-talking from the bitter Republican primary.

    According to Think Progress, Miller recently deleted several tweets referencing his new boss, including five containing the hashtag #SleazyDonald, an apparent comment on Trump’s lack of honor, shamelessness, and allegedly perilous sexual hygiene.

    Newly-Hired Trump Aide Deletes Tweets About "Sleazy Donald" for Some Reason
    Photo: Twitter

    Other since-deleted tweets reference Trump’s inconsistent political positions and his unaccredited “university.”

    Newly-Hired Trump Aide Deletes Tweets About "Sleazy Donald" for Some Reason
    Photo: Twitter
    Newly-Hired Trump Aide Deletes Tweets About "Sleazy Donald" for Some Reason
    Photo: Twitter
    Newly-Hired Trump Aide Deletes Tweets About "Sleazy Donald" for Some Reason
    Photo: Twitter

    Miller, however, is in good company. Helen Aguirre Ferré, a former Jeb Bush advisor tapped as the RNC’s new head of Hispanic relations this month, also recently deleted a number of now-embarrassing Trump tweets.

    “I haven’t done anything to eliminate what you could see in a tweet or email that you would have to see with national security clearance or less,” Ferré told Univision last week, according to The Washington Post. “That’s what Hillary Clinton did in the past.”

    Gawker has reached out to Miller for comment and will update if and when we hear back.

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  • 06/28/16--04:25: 132 Days and a Wake Up
  • 132 Days and a Wake Up
    Hillary Clinton and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Photo: AP

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    Does Donald Trump Still Want to Ban Muslims?
    Photo: AP

    The Associated Press has a report today on Donald Trump’s “evolving” Muslim ban. The proposal was always short on details—“Because I am so politically correct, I would never be the one to say. You figure it out!” he wrote to the AP in an email—but every attempt to clarify has only confused the issue further.

    Following the San Bernardino shootings in December, Trump released the following statement: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

    That proposal has gone through several iterations in the months since. This weekend, Trump told reporters that he’d have no problem with Muslims coming to the United States from Scotland.

    “I would limit specific terrorist countries, and we know who those terrorist countries are,” Trump told Bloomberg News on Saturday. “I want terrorists out. I want people that have bad thoughts out.” (Hm.)

    It’s not obvious whether these policy proposals are meant to complement or replace each other. From the AP:

    Asked to clarify whether Trump still supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as originally proposed, a ban of immigration from states associated with terrorism, as he said in his post-Orlando speech, or strong vetting of people coming into the country from such nations, as he said this past weekend in Scotland, Hicks said: “Mr. Trump stated a position consistent with his speech two weeks ago.”

    “He has been very clear,” she added in an email Monday. It’s the press, she said, that has “tried to cause confusion.”

    In any event, Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim activist behind Trump’s original proposal, does not seem to have changed his position. “I think Donald Trump is—you know, with all of his faults, and there are some—he’s got this right,” Gaffney told Breitbart News Daily earlier this month. “We don’t need to import more jihadists. The American people understand that. We need to stop the ones that are here as well—even, and most especially, really, those that are doing business as the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    The Muslim Brotherhood, Gaffney claimed, is “stealthily, covertly subverting us from within” and “creating the infrastructure that jihadists are using around the world, to do the violent jihad as well.”

    Well, that clears things up.

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    David Brooks Is a Working Class Hero
    Photo: Getty

    David Brooks, the Mr. Rogers of the New York Times, has some penetrating thoughts about the “working-class parts of America,” on which he is a well-known expert.

    Do I recommend reading David Brooks’ column today about America’s “working-class honor code” while imagining the well-moisturized Brooks himself wandering through Appalachia in a peach-colored V-neck sweater, lecturing the surly locals at the feed store about social science? Yes. I recommend it highly. To illustrate the deep value of David Brooks’ personal insights into the working class, I will highlight just two paragraphs, bolding the most insightful parts.


    This honor code has been decimated lately. Conservatives argue that it has been decimated by cosmopolitan cultural elites who look down on rural rubes. There’s some truth to this, as the reactions of smug elites to the Brexit vote demonstrate.

    And then immediately after:

    Most of all, it has been undermined by rampant consumerism, by celebrity culture, by reality-TV fantasies that tell people success comes in a quick flash of publicity, not through steady work. The sociologist Daniel Bell once argued that capitalism would undermine itself because it encouraged hedonistic short-term values for consumers while requiring self-disciplined long-term values in its workers. At least in one segment of society, Bell was absolutely correct.

    David Brooks’ findings:

    1. Despicable, insular elites look down their noses at the working class.
    2. The working class has no self-discipline or “long-term values,” because of all that reality TV garbage they watch!

    David Brooks holds one of the most coveted jobs in journalism.

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    Volkswagen Must Offer To Buy Back Any Diesel Four Cylinder Car In Massive $14.7 Billion Settlement

    Volkswagen has been ordered to buy back any diesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder car in the United States as part of its unprecedented $14.7 billion settlement with federal regulators, U.S. Justice Department officials said this morning.

    The buyback order will include some 482,000 diesel Volkswagen and Audi cars sold between 2009 and 2015, officials said.

    Owners will have the choice between selling their car back to VW, or getting the cars fixed at no cost. Owners with leases can choose to have their leases terminated at no cost. That fix has not been announced yet.

    No matter what owners decide to do, they will also receive cash compensation from VW. Most owners will get between $5,100 and up to $10,000, officials said.

    “By duping the regulators VW turned half a million American drivers into unwitting accomplices in an unprecedented assault on our environment,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said in a press conference.

    The company has been ordered to set aside $10.03 billion for buybacks; $2 billion to invest in projects “that will encourage americans to expand use of zero emission vehicles in the future”, Yates said; and $2.7 billion to an environmental trust that will remedy NOx emissions from TDI cars.

    The settlement is part of the largest monetary obligation in the history of Clean Air Act, Yates said.

    Yates said that this settlement is only the beginning, and does not cover the ongoing criminal investigation or penalties related to the 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine.

    Reuters reports that a separate settlement worth at least $600 million will also be announced later with states. Buybacks are expected to begin in October, with fixes rolled out by November.

    In addition:

    VW cannot resell or export the vehicles bought back unless the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves a fix, the documents said. Volkswagen must repair or buy back 85 percent of the 475,000 vehicles by June 2019 or face penalties of $100 million for every percentage point it falls below that figure.

    Last year Volkswagen admitted to cheating NOx emissions on nearly half a million diesel cars in the U.S. over almost a decade, then conceded to cheating emissions with diesel cars in most other markets. The automaker has since been besieged by plummeting sales, criminal investigations, lawsuits and resignations and firings at the executive level.

    The cars affected include the diesel Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Passat, Jetta Sportwagen, Beetle and Audi A3.

    Volkswagen officials said the following in a statement:

    “We take our commitment to make things right very seriously and believe these agreements are a significant step forward,” said Matthias Müller, Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen AG. “We appreciate the constructive engagement of all the parties, and are very grateful to our customers for their continued patience as the settlement approval process moves ahead. We know that we still have a great deal of work to do to earn back the trust of the American people. We are focused on resolving the outstanding issues and building a better company that can shape the future of integrated, sustainable mobility for our customers.”

    More on this as we get it.

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    Republicans Fail to Pin Benghazi Attack on Hillary Clinton
    Photo: AP

    On Tuesday, after two years of inquiry that produced 16,000 pages in transcripts, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on the 2012 attacks that left four Americans dead. The 800-page report found no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.

    This is, of course, a disappointment to the Republicans on the highly-partisan panel, and as such they are making as much hay of the new information that they were able to turn up.

    “The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final lethal attack,” the committee wrote. “The fact that this is true does not mitigate the question of why the world’s most powerful military was not positioned to respond.”

    “What was disturbing from the evidence the Committee found was that at the time of the final lethal attack,” they added, “no asset ordered deployed by the Secretary had even left the ground.

    The select committee interviewed at least 107 witnesses and reviewed 75,000 pages of documents. The investigation cost $7 million and taken longer than Congressional inquiries into 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Republicans blame President Obama for stonewalling their investigation, adding to its length and expense.

    The Democrats on the committee released their own report on Monday. “In our opinion,” they wrote, “Chairman Gowdy has been conducting this investigation like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”

    In fact, Democrats claim they were not allowed to contribute to the committee’s final report and have not seen a full copy of it yet. From the New York Times:

    House Republicans added, inadvertently at times, to the general sense that the committee was focusing too intently on Mrs. Clinton, even though she was never suspected of directly mishandling the Benghazi situation. Democrats seized on comments by the House majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, who boasted on Fox News in September that the committee’s work had put a dent in Mrs. Clinton’s poll numbers.

    “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” Mr. McCarthy said. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

    Those comments helped derail Mr. McCarthy’s bid to succeed Speaker John A. Boehner. Mr. Gowdy has long disavowed the remarks, saying the discovery of the private email server was highly unexpected and not a focus of his continuing work.

    The Democrat’s report concluded that, while mistakes had been made, the U.S. military could not have done anything differently that would have saved the lives of those killed.

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    White Republicans Are Delusional on Race
    Chart via Pew Research Center

    In our sharply divided partisan era, it is common for each side of the political spectrum to accuse the other of failing to understand reality. But a new survey conveniently proves that white Republicans are living in a fantasy world when it comes to race in America.

    The latest Pew Research Center survey on racial attitudes in America is a treasury of examples of the ways in which black and white people see this country differently. You can probably guess how the responses differed on questions such as “Has America made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites?” or “Black people are treated less fairly by the police in this country—true or false?”

    One of the starkest contrasts, though, comes when you further isolate white Republican respondents:

    And while about eight-in-ten (78%) white Democrats say the country needs to continue making changes to achieve racial equality between whites and blacks, just 36% of white Republicans agree; 54% of white Republicans believe the country has already made the changes necessary for blacks to have equal rights with whites.

    Is there any way to empirically check the validity of this belief. Fortunately there is, right in this very same survey!!

    The racial gap extends to household wealth – a measure where the gap has widened since the Great Recession. In 2013, the most recent year available, the median net worth of households headed by whites was roughly 13 times that of black households ($144,200 for whites compared with $11,200 for blacks).


    White Republicans Are Delusional on Race

    Republicans, who are supposed to be the ones who understand money, are delusional about racial equality in American. The racial wealth gap proves it. The only way for them to wriggle out of this would be by resorting to an explanation that was purely racist. That doesn’t seem like something a white Republican would do.

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    Donald Trump Extremely Talented at Hiding From Journalists the Millions He Definitely Donated to Charity
    Photo: AP

    Donald Trump says he’s donated millions of dollars to charity. This week, the Washington Post tried to investigate those donations, but it seems Trump was too smart for them—they could only track down one donation for a few thousand dollars. No wonder he blacklisted the paper—totally incompetent.

    According to the Post, Trump’s foundation has has only donated about $2.8 million —this, despite the $8.5 million in donations he’s publicly announced giving. Among them:

    If Trump stands by his promises, such donations should be occurring all the time. In the past 15 years, Trump has promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his money-making enterprises: “The Apprentice.” Trump Vodka. Trump University. A book. Another book. If he honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million.

    But in that time, public records show, Trump donated about $2.8 million — less than a third of the pledged figure — through a foundation set up to give his money away. And there is no evidence that Trump has given to his foundation lately: The last record of any gift from him to his foundation was in 2008.

    Still, Trump has an explanation: He gave the money privately. But the Post, which called more than 150 charities tenuously linked to Trump, managed to turn up only one donation in the last ten years: A gift, valued between $5,000 and $9,999, to the Police Athletic League of New York City.

    Trump’s other millions currently remain unaccounted for. And they call themselves journalists...

    The whole failure of an investigation can be found here. No wonder why Donald Trump doesn’t trust the press.

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    Queens Court Rules New York City's Right of Way Law Unconstitutional 
    Image: Getty

    A Queens judge has ruled New York City’s “right of way” law, a central provision of the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero pedestrian safety initiative, unconstitutional, NY1 reports.

    The law makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $250 fine or 30 days in prison for a driver to strike and injure or kill a pedestrian who has the right of way, and is intended as a preventative measure against traffic fatalities. In an opinion issued Friday, Judge Gia L. Morris argued that because it applies a lower standard of blame than most criminal laws, the law is unconstitutional under both the New York State and U.S. Constitutions.

    Morris issued the opinion in the case of Isaac Sanson, a school bus driver who hit and killed an 85-year-old woman named Jeanine Deutsch in a crosswalk in Queens in 2014. Sanson was arrested and prosecuted under the right of way law, which he claimed violated his due process. Morris agreed.

    The right of way statute differs from other criminal laws in that it presumes criminality in every case in which a driver hits someone who has the right of way and injures or kills them, whether or not the driver can be found criminally negligent or reckless. In other words, it’s not necessary for prosecutors to prove anything about the driver’s state of mind to find them guilty, only that they caused a crash. As the attorney and safe streets advocate Steve Vaccaro has repeatedly pointed out, this is the same standard we use to prosecute drunk drivers; New York City’s innovation is simply in applying it to reckless drivers of all types. Streetsblog notes that another local criminal court has already upheld the constitutionality of the law, and it seems well within the realm of possibility that Morris’s ruling will be overturned if the Queens DA elects to appeal it.

    The law, and Morris’s ruling, do present a dilemma for people who care about curbing both the tide of New Yorkers who are killed in traffic violence and that of those who have their lives irrevocably altered by contact with the police and criminal justice system. On the one hand, cars killed about four and a half people every week in NYC last year, and a solution is obviously and sorely needed. On the other, the NYPD cuffs and locks up far too many people as it is. Should our laws really be making it any easier to send ordinary drivers to jail?

    Criminalizing more people shouldn’t be the first or only answer to any social problem. In the case of traffic violence, we should be redesigning streets to make them more hospitable to pedestrians before we cook up ways to arrest more people. However, based on the sheer number of people who are killed in traffic, and the dearth of action of any kind against the people who kill them, it’s clear that more aggressive enforcement against drivers who fail to yield is needed.

    A spokesperson for the de Blasio administration told NY1 that the mayor disagreed with the ruling, and that his office is “considering all our options” to fight it.

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    Homeschooled Kids Waiting to be Raptured Still Don't Have To Learn Anything, Texas Supreme Court Rules
    Photo: Getty

    The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court made a 6-3 ruling on technical grounds in favor of Laura and Michael McIntyre who have stopped teaching their homeschooled children because Jesus is coming back soon, so what’s the point, the AP reports.

    The case was sparked by a nosy uncle who narced on the kids to the school district for not doing “much of anything educational” and said he heard one brag to a cousin that “they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.”

    Whatever the nine kids were learning at the empty office of the McIntyres’ El Paso motorcycle dealership didn’t have to be much. Texas has the biggest population of homeschooled kids than any other state—about 300,000, according to the Texas Home School Coalition—and though parents are required to meet “basic educational goals,” the state doesn’t require their kids to be registered, take standardized tests or prove that they’ve been taught anything. They could have been learning that Cabbage Patch dolls are possessed by Satan and semen causes cancer.

    When the school district’s attendance officer asked the McIntyres to prove they were “properly educating” their kids, the McIntyres sued the “anti-Christian” school district for violating their 14th Amendment rights. They lost their appeal, and the case went to the Texas Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the McIntyres’ 14th Amendment rights weren’t violated but ruled in their favor on a technicality anyway. It bounced the case back to the El Paso Court of Appeals, which could now bounce it back to the trial court. The case has been dragging on for a long time up to Friday’s ruling—almost all of the McIntyres are actually grown—and yet, no judge in Texas wants to issue any constitutional statements on the ongoing “religious liberties” vs. “educational requirements” showdown.

    As for the kids, at least one had a backup plan in case Jesus is late. In 2006, the McIntyres’ oldest daughter, then 17, ran away so she can go back to school.

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    Cormac McCarthy Isn't Dead, But an Old Prankster Tricked USA Today Into Reporting He was

    This morning, esteemed bus terminal periodical USA Today reported stunning news: Author Cormac McCarthy had died suddenly at the age of 82. The news was posted to the paper’s Twitter account in a tweet that has since been deleted because Cormac McCarthy is not actually dead—he was only pronounced so by an Italian prankster who has made it his life’s mission to exploit the burden of efficiency that weighs on journalists everywhere.

    The man’s name is Tomasso Debenedetti, and his hoaxes—from fake death pronouncements to fabricated interviews—have been covered previously by The New Yorker and The Guardian. In that Guardian article, published in 2012, Debenedetti said that “Twitter works well for deaths,” because “social media is the most unverifiable information source in the world but the news media believes it because of its need for speed.” He is absolutely correct, and his quite easily pulled-off Cormac McCarthy death hoax once again proves it.

    It’s unclear if USA Today reached out to McCarthy’s representatives before announcing his death, but if so, they did not wait to hear back before going forward with Debenedetti’s story. (Editors at USA Today did not respond to requests for comment.) In any event, after the tweet went out, McCarthy’s people quickly got in touch with the paper to inform them that they were wrong. This is the reverse of how the situation is supposed to work:

    The reporting of a celebrity’s death before any official confirmation is justifiable, but doing so requires the deepest level of confidence in a source. TMZ, for instance, constantly breaks news of deaths, and they have yet to be wrong because their sourcing in places like hospitals and police precincts is the stuff of legend. But USA Today appears to have merely aggregated the “news” of McCarthy’s “death” from a single Twitter account:

    Alfred A. Knopf is the publisher of McCarthy’s books, but the @AKnopfNews account is owned by Debenedetti. Still, such a tweet might be worth checking out, were it not for the fact that any cursory investigation at all would have suggested a hoax. For one, @AKnopfNews sent its first tweet this morning:

    Secondly, Alfred A. Knopf has its own verified Twitter account with 280,000 followers, which it used to also reassure the world that McCarthy is still alive:

    This all should have been debunked quite easily, and the rest of the media was at least able to hold off on it. But it only takes one asshole to prove Debenedetti’s point—and to encourage him to keep pulling the same stunt.

    This time it was USA Today—a reminder that the harsh realities of web-focused publishing is perhaps felt most acutely at the old broadsheets. Who will it be next time? Hopefully no one?

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    After a 4-4 ruling following the death of Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court says it will not reopen the Friedrichs case about public union dues, which means that public unions are safe, for now. Please laugh in Chris Christie’s stupid face today, if you see him.

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    Why Has Donald Trump Stopped Tweeting? 
    Image: Getty

    Over the past 30-ish hours, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas anti-abortion law, Liz Warren spent a solid 15 minutes burning Trump, and the GOP let Crooked Hillary get away with Benghazi once and for all. And throughout all of it, red-faced Twitter egg king Donald Trump hasn’t made a peep. Something’s not right.

    This is Donald Trump’s most recent tweet, sent out yesterday at 9:39 a.m. Eastern time (from an Android, for what it’s worth).

    On June 26, the day before, Donald Trump spewed out 15 total tweets. On the day before that, he sent out 10. As far as I can tell, Trump hasn’t missed a day of tweeting in at least the past two months—quite possibly more. To not tweet, especially when the day’s news contains nearly all his favorite things (Benghazi, the establishment behaving badly, Benghazi) is wildly out of character.

    And we can at least be (relatively) certain that Donald Trump is not dead. Because though he’s been silent on Twitter, his Facebook page is just as active as ever, with his most recent post appearing a mere two hours ago:

    Why Has Donald Trump Stopped Tweeting? 

    This would be completely inexplicable if not for one other little thing that also happened over the last day or so: Donald Trump hired Jason Miller, a communications adviser with actual communications experience.

    Trump’s aides and advisers have been fretting over his erratic Twitter behavior for months now, so the obvious solution would be to cut Trump off entirely. Did Miller somehow manage to wrestle away Donald’s precious phone(s)? Did he simply change Trump’s password? Is Donald Trump still alive? Am I? It’s impossible to know anything for sure.

    We’ve reached out Jason Miller for comment and will update if and when we hear back. Until then, if you have any information at all about Donald Trump’s missing tweets, please do let us know. Even the worst tweets deserve to be heard.

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