Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Cruising the Web

So now we're learning that ISIS was behind several of the terrorist attacks that were portrayed as lone-wolf attacks.
For the most part, the operatives who are conceiving and guiding such attacks are doing so from behind a wall of anonymity. When the Hyderabad plotters were arrested last summer, they could not so much as confirm the nationalities of their interlocutors in the Islamic State, let alone describe what they looked like. Because the recruits are instructed to use encrypted messaging applications, the guiding role played by the terrorist group often remains obscured.

As a result, remotely guided plots in Europe, Asia and the United States in recent years, including the attack on a community center in Garland, Tex., were initially labeled the work of “lone wolves,” with no operational ties to the Islamic State, and only later was direct communication with the group discovered....

Close examination of both successful and unsuccessful plots carried out in the Islamic State’s name over the past three years indicates that such enabled attacks are making up a growing share of the operations of the group, which is also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

“They are virtual coaches who are providing guidance and encouragement throughout the process — from radicalization to recruitment into a specific plot,” said Nathaniel Barr, a terrorism analyst at Valens Global, who along with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington wrote one of the first articles discussing the virtual plotters.

“If you look at the communications between the attackers and the virtual plotters, you will see that there is a direct line of communication to the point where they are egging them on minutes, even seconds, before the individual carries out an attack.”

Detailing this kind of plot direction has become a critical focus of counterterrorism officials in the United States and Europe, as they try to track terror planners who pose a lasting threat and to unravel the criminal networks that the group uses as middlemen to facilitate attacks.
The NYT has the details of several attacks around the world that were originally portrayed as lone-wolf attacks and are now seen as being directed remotely from ISIS.

Andrew McCarthy advocates
for prosecuting rioters such as the ones who rioted at UC Berkeley.
More pointedly, there is a sweeping federal anti-riot law, making it a crime to incite, organize, promote, participate in, or aid and abet a riot. In addition, the federal civil-rights laws make it a crime to conspire to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” people “in the free exercise or enjoyment” of their constitutional rights — including, obviously, the right to free speech. These laws further criminalize forcible acts and threats that interfere with people’s lawful enjoyment of any federally subsidized activity (note that the government provides lavish funding to universities). They outlaw interference with the conduct of commercial business during a riot or other civil disorder.

For too long, our elites have portrayed transgressive behavior (very much including its allegedly artistic expression) as virtue. The constant undercurrent is that our country, our principles, and our norms are not worth having — much less admiring or defending. We are perversely taught to loathe ourselves, and thus to excuse and even revere those who raise the loathing into intimidation, aggression, and violence. Much of this phenomenon is cultural, which means government cannot fix it. But government is duty-bound to uphold the rule of law, and thus to ensure that our problems can be addressed peacefully.

Sedition and its related pathologies must be prosecuted. Equally important, they must be condemned. Without that, there cannot be a pluralistic, flourishing society.
As McCarthy points out, there is a history of those who perpetuate violence of not only getting off without penalty for their violent actions, but eventually being praised and admired by leftists.
There is no mystery about how we got to this dark place. Violent rampaging was the coming-of-age rite of the New Left. That would be the Sixties Left that eventually won the battle for control of the Democratic party and, in its extremism, has estranged that party from its traditional working-class base, and thus from much of the country. The New Left rioted against racism, capitalism, colonialism, and the Vietnam War. They gleefully announced their hatred for AmeriKKKa. They bombed and killed. And in large measure, they got away with it. In fact, they got rewarded for it.

One of the worst legacies of those Days of Rage was the failure of will to prosecute violent leaders of the radical Left to the full extent of the law — particularly the likes of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Weather Underground terrorists who got a complete pass. In its madness, the nation drew a moral equivalence between anti-American terrorism and the excesses of American government agents who pursued the terrorists, as if warrantless searches and spying, however concededly outrageous, were comparable to plots and attempts to commit mass murder. The government did not want the depths of its misconduct explored, so charges were dropped in some cases and pled away for a song in others — denying an exploration of the depths of the terrorists’ depravity.

“Guilty as sin, free as a bird,” crowed Ayers, waxing nostalgic on the eve of the 9/11 attacks.

It is worse than that, though, much worse. Ayers is not just free; he has been lionized — laundered into a respectable academic. It was a comfy fit for him and many of his confederates, once it dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.

The plaudits, moreover, have rained down from the government as much as they’ve pushed up from the campus.

It was famously in the Chicago living room of Ayers and Dohrn that their fellow “community organizer” Barack Obama made his political debut. Soon the radical leftists who actually had been prosecuted were being sprung from prison by President Bill Clinton with the help of his trusty deputy attorney general, Eric Holder — himself a onetime student radical, having participated in the occupation of an ROTC headquarters at Columbia University in 1970. First Clinton commuted the sentences of FALN terrorists. Then, in an infamous pardon spree on his last day in office, he released two Weather Underground confederates of Ayers and Dohrn.

Obama’s fondness for the radical Left was a hallmark of his administration, from its early dismissal of a civil-rights case against New Black Panther Party members who had menaced voters in Philadelphia through its outreach to Hugo Ch├ívez, the mullahs of Tehran, and the Castro brothers, as well as its overt sympathies for anti-police rabble-rousers, and finally to its last-minute release of an unrepentant FALN leader.
Tom Wolfe's 1970 classic Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers exposed the ludicrous celebration that Leonard Bernstein held for his socialite friends to celebrate the Black Panthers. The "radical chic" are still celebrating violence.
The prevailing attitude was best expressed in the spring of 2015, when Baltimore police were directed to stand down as rioters looted and torched sections of the city after Freddie Gray, a lawfully arrested black man with a criminal record, died in police custody — as a result of injuries primarily caused by his own wild misbehavior. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the assembled press, “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that.” As if cracking down on arson, assault, and theft would have suppressed the right to peaceful protest.

Last summer, when Democrats gathered in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton for president, it was Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake whom they chose to chair their convention.

The message could not be clearer: For the political Left in this country, violence in the pursuit of “social justice” is not to be condemned, it is to be understood. There is the occasional winking rebuke of the forcible methods, but the underlying “progressive” cause is always endorsed, and the seditionist vanguard is the object of adulation.
We'll see if a bit of jail time might cool the desire to trash a community in order to gain liberal approbation for protesting Trump and other Republicans. It's about time that the hecklers' veto was denied and those who destroy property suffer the appropriate penalties.

Paul Cassell writes in the Washington Post to ridicule the baseless speculation by Robert Reich that Milo Yiannopoulos was actually the one who organized 100 thugs to come to Berkeley and push the protest against him over to violence. There's no evidence of that and one would have to believe that Yiannopoulos was capable of organizing such a band of thugs without any of them leaking who was paying them. Sure. The real question is why Berkeley's police couldn't seem to arrest any of those rioting?
The only thing that remains strange about the events last week is the fact that Berkeley police have proved so inept. While the police were praised for their “restraint” during the riots (and perhaps that praise was justified — I venture no opinion on riot-control tactics), they have been unable to now identify even a single one of these criminals. (Campus police arrested one person, from outside campus, for failing to disperse when ordered and two other persons, again outsiders to the campus, in an unrelated incident.)

The issue that demands attention is: How is it that after more than 100 thugs organized, well in advance, to invade the campus, and police were alerted to the risk of violence, again well in advance, no arrests were made the night of the attack? Indeed, in the days afterward, police following up (are they following up?) are unable to find any digital fingerprints or other pieces of evidence to begin prosecuting those responsible. To be sure, it is possible the attack was organized via the dark Web (i.e., Tor) or some similar sophisticated means of anonymous communication. But why are police so completely incapable of responding to such organized criminality? I’m not convinced we need new laws to address the violence. But if we want to find something “worrying” going on here, the utter inability of the authorities to hold anyone accountable for this dangerous assault — not only on campus facilities but also on free speech (discussed by Eugene here) — should be the focus of our concern.

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As Casey Mattox writes at The Federalist, the attitude toward preventing by any means possible people whose speech those on the left dislike to speech on college campuses is not limited to Berkeley.
Sadly, on few campuses can the First Amendment expect a reliable defense from university administrators, or even fellow students. Just down the road and just a few months ago, California State University at Los Angeles faculty, administrators, and students implemented a coordinated plan to prevent Ben Shapiro from speaking on their campus.

They tried to impose thousands of dollars in security fees because Shapiro’s event on diversity was deemed too “controversial,” then tried cancelling the event altogether, before faculty members incited and joined students in linking arms to bar entrance to the event, with the university president ordering campus police not to interfere with their unlawful behavior.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom has filed six federal lawsuits in the last several weeks challenging university policies and actions violating the First Amendment rights of students. Kellogg Community College in Michigan arrested students handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution while talking with other students about a school club on a sidewalk. A Georgia (yes, you read that correctly) college prohibited a student from peacefully sharing his Christian faith on campus. Queens College in New York City refused to approve the existence of a pro-life student group on its campus.

The examples could go on for pages. These are everyday occurrences on university campuses across the country. And they are blatantly unconstitutional.

University administrators violate the Constitution every day, failing or refusing to acknowledge that it actually applies to them even as our tax dollars pay their salaries. The vast majority of universities have unconstitutional written policies. The recent events at Berkeley demonstrate that, as bad as the written policies are, real life on a college campus can be much worse.
As Mattox argues, what will happen when these students graduate after four years of absorbing the idea that it is fine to silence those with whom you disagree? Are they suddenly going to have a true understanding of the First Amendment?

David French writes about how insidiously damaging Trump's response to Bill O'Reilly's question about Putin being a killer was. This is what Trump answered.
O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Well — take a look at what we’ve done, too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’REILLY: Yes, mistakes are different than –

TRUMP: We made a lot of mistakes, OK, but a lot of people were killed. So, a lot of killers around, believe me.
I'm still dumbfounded that a supposedly Republican president would echo the moral equivalence of the left. French writes,
When I was a young man living for the first time in the heart of leftist America, I was stunned at the number of books and lectures that made the case that there was no moral difference between the United States and its enemies. Some even went so far as to declare that we were somehow worse than the Soviets — or on some kind of par with Imperial Japan for Nazi Germany because, after all, we dropped a nuclear weapon. We engaged in area bombing. They killed. We killed. What’s the difference?

Trump’s point echoes these slanders, and it does so in a way that impugns not just our national honor but also the integrity of the American fighting man (after all, who else is doing the killing?) Yet there are fundamental moral and legal differences between Russia and America. Russian forces act with utter disregard for the laws of war. American forces go beyond the requirements of the laws of war to safeguard innocent life. Russia is acting on behalf of a genocidal tyrant, seeking to extend his reign. America acted to depose a genocidal tyrant, terminating his rule. America had just legal cause for war in Iraq — Saddam Hussein violated Gulf War cease-fire agreements and U.N. resolutions while continually shooting at American pilots and trying to kill an American president — while Russia had no just cause to invade the Ukraine. America’s wars are not like Russia’s wars, and American warriors cannot be lumped in with Putin’s killers.

It was heartening to see a number of GOP lawmakers condemn Trump’s remarks, but Trump himself has to stop equating America and Russia. He’s done it before, and I suspect he may do it again. By doing so, he’s not only obscuring the truth, he’s injecting nonsensical moral relativism into American foreign policy — a relativism that can undermine national resolve in the face of an increasing Russian threat. Ultimately, our nation is only as resolute as its people, and Trump is blurring the lines between American virtues and Russian wrongs. In the event of a future crisis, Trump’s words could prove not just misguided, but dangerous.

Bret Stephens, who admittedly has never liked Donald Trump, reminds us of how Republicans scorned what they called Barack Obama's apology tour when he first became president. What Trump has said is even worse.
This time, Mr. Trump didn’t apologize for America. He indicted it. He did so in language unprecedented for any sitting or former president. He did it in a manner guaranteed, and perhaps calculated, to vindicate every hard-left slander of “Amerika.” If you are the sort who believes the CIA assassinated JFK, masterminded the crack-cocaine epidemic, and deliberately lied us into the war in Iraq—conspiracy theories on a moral par with the way the Putin regime behaves in actual fact—then this president is for you.

Only he’s worse.

For the most part, the left’s various indictments of the U.S., whether well- or ill-grounded, have had a moral purpose: to shame Americans into better behavior. We are reminded of the evils of slavery and Jim Crow in order not to be racist. We dilate on the failure in Vietnam to guard against the arrogance of power. We recall the abuses of McCarthyism in order to underscore the importance of civil liberties.

Mr. Trump’s purpose, by contrast, isn’t to prevent a recurrence of bad behavior. It’s to permit it. In this reading, Mr. Putin’s behavior isn’t so different from ours. It’s largely the same, except more honest and effective. The U.S. could surely defeat ISIS—if only it weren’t hampered by the kind of scruples that keep us from carpet bombing Mosul in the way the Russians obliterated Aleppo. The U.S. could have come out ahead in Iraq—if only we’d behaved like unapologetic conquerors, not do-gooder liberators, and taken their oil.

This also explains why Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, calling the idea “insulting [to] the world” and seeing it as an undue burden on our rights and opportunities as a nation. Magnanimity, fair dealing, example setting, win-win solutions, a city set upon a hill: All this, in the president’s mind, is a sucker’s game, obscuring the dog-eat-dog realities of life. Among other distinctions, Mr. Trump may be our first Hobbesian president.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the political potency of this outlook, with its left-right mix of relativism and jingoism. If we’re no better than anyone else, why not act like everyone else? If phrases such as “the free world” or the “liberal international order” are ideological ploys by which the Davos elite swindle the proletarians of Detroit, why sacrifice blood and treasure on their behalf? Nationalism is usually a form of moral earnestness. Mr. Trump’s genius has been to transform it into an expression of cynicism.

Kevin Williamson has a lovely column to dispute the idea that we Americans are living in some sort of horrifying endtimes. Yes, there are people who are suffering economically or dealing with crime or drug additions.
Perhaps it is because there is not much in the way of genuinely bad American expletive-deleted with which I am not at least passingly familiar that the hysteria and negativity of our political discourse strikes me as so very expletive deleted insane.

You’d think the United States is poor, desperate, backward, and on the verge of either civil war or building concentration camps or both.

It isn’t.

The idiot children in Berkeley who risibly style themselves “antifascists” say that they are going to “war,” that the United States is descending into some sort of Nazi-style nightmare state, and that allowing a daffy Anglo-Greek homosexual writer to speak about current affairs on a University of California campus is only one step away from — their words — “genocide.” Surely, if there were to be some sort of neo-Nazi regime in the United States, its poet laureate would not be Milo Yiannopoulos, who is: gay, Jewish by birth, Catholic by profession, and something of an enthusiastic race-mixer to boot. He’s the guy who’d be put into a camp, if there were camps.

There aren’t.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren want you to believe that the economy and the political system are “rigged” against you, that you have no real hope of prospering, rising, and thriving in what Senator Sanders insists is an “oligarchy.” (He pronounces it “Allah-garchy,” and, sharia hysteria notwithstanding, we aren’t getting one of those, either.) The guys on talk radio want to sell you gold coins and freeze-dried ice cream, and so they need you to believe that we are on the verge of total anarchy, that somebody — the Islamic State, Black Lives Matter, Chicago gangsters, somebody — is coming to get you. Politicos and angst-peddlers left and right want you terrified and anxious, and they want you to believe that these United States comprise a vast impoverished anarchic Eliotic wasteland, a kind of gigantic continental Haiti with lots of shopping malls and a surprisingly large number of Range Rovers.

But if you drive around the country, it doesn’t look like that at all. It looks, for all its very real problems, amazing.

Tom Wolfe, the peerless chronicler of American life, tells a wonderful story of the 1960s, about a group of philosophers and social critics flying in through O’Hare to descend on an American college campus. The assembled scolds and beard-strokers and Chicken Littles describe the myriad of problems facing the United States — horrifying, existential, insoluble. And then one young man stood up:

I’m a senior, and for four years we’ve been told by people like yourself and the other gentlemen that everything’s in terrible shape, and it’s all going to hell, and I’m willing to take your word for it, because you’re all experts in your fields. But around here, at this school, for the past four years, the biggest problem, as far as I can see, has been finding a parking place near the campus.

Dead silence. The panelists looked at this poor turkey to try to size him up. Was he trying to be funny? Or was this the native bray of the heartland? The ecologist struck a note of forbearance as he said:

“I’m sure that’s true, and that illustrates one of the biggest difficulties we have in making realistic assessments. A university like this, after all, is a middle-class institution, and middle-class life is calculated precisely to create a screen—”

“I understand all that,” said the boy. “What I want to know is — how old are you, usually, when it all hits you?”

And suddenly the situation became clear. This kid was no wiseacre! He was genuinely perplexed! . . . For four years he had been squinting at the horizon . . . looking for the grim horrors he knew — on faith — to be all around him. . . . War! Fascism! Repression! Corruption! . . .

The Jocks & Buds & Freaks of the heartland have their all-knowing savants of O’Hare, who keep warning them that this is “the worst of all possible worlds,” and they know it must be true — and yet life keeps getting easier, sunnier, happier . . . Frisbee!

Yes, bread and circuses and all that, but the least expensive ticket to this weekend’s big game is going for about $4,500, which suggests to me a society with a great deal of disposable income and leisure time on its hands. And if that’s too rich for your means, there’s always Frisbee, or Starbucks, or starting a business, or MIT OpenCourseware, or the Appalachian Trail, or reading Mark Twain at the New York Public Library.

How old are you, usually, when it hits you? I’m 44, and it hasn’t hit me yet.
I'm 60 and it still hasn't hit me.

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Jonah Goldberg provides a bit of history
to refute the idea that the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley from the 1960s was truly about free speech. This was new history to me.
The students at Berkeley already had the right to free speech. As Glazer noted, left-wing groups regularly brought in Communists and other controversial speakers to campus. In fact, when bringing in Communists no longer seemed rebellious or controversial enough, left-wing groups brought in the West Coast leader of the Nazi party. The left-wing scamps even dressed up like Nazis and handed out fliers for the meeting at all the entrances to campus....

Anyway, the students had free-speech rights. What they weren’t allowed to do was organize and raise money for off-campus political activity on campus. Anyone who works for a 501(c) organization or knows anything about the rules regulating politicians, charities, foundations, etc. can grasp the distinction. And if you’re freaking out about Trump’s promise to “destroy” the prohibition of churches being involved in political activity, you might get it, too.

What initially set off the protests was the administration’s decision to enforce the rule at a park on the edge of the campus, where hippies and political activists hung out, I imagine, in thick clouds of pot smoke and righteous indignation.

Anyway, you can say it was a bad policy, but the issue from the outset was never really about free speech. It was initially about the use of campus resources and, very quickly, the will-to-power of a bunch of radicals who thought that any restraints on their political agenda were inherently illegitimate. It was also a classically romantic revolt against “the system.” Mario Savio, the huckster-philosopher at the forefront of the FSM™ famously proclaimed:
There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. . . . And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
“Romanticism,” Baudelaire explained, “is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling.”

Feelings are what drove the Free Speech Movement™. The FSMers felt that their feelings mattered more than anyone else’s facts. They felt that any restrictions or rules that hindered their desire to express their feelings were unfair. It was the dawn of a romantic revolt in the academy where debate was dethroned and the tantrum put on an altar. It soon spread to other campuses, like Cornell where the administration literally caved to gun-wielding goons because they were too afraid to champion their own principles in the face of authentic feelings.

The easily triggered idiot-babies of today’s campus Left who squeal, “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain” or who insist that offensive speech is no different from a punch in the face are the direct descendants of the Free Speech Movement™ because it was Berkeley where the Feelings Supremacy Movement began and where it is clearly thriving today.

Jim Geraghty recommends
that we pay attention to the special elections taking place in 2017. There will be elections to replace Trump's nominees to executive positions. There are five House members whom Trump has nominated and they come from seemingly reliable red districts. We'll see if the leftist activism apparent during inauguration weekend can be transformed into successful activism in these typically low-turnout elections.

Daniel Payne details 16 fake news stories
that the media have run with since Trump won the election. There were quite a few on this list that I had been unaware or. It rather reminds me of the pathways that Hillary Clinton once fingered as the source of the "vast right-wing conspiracy." The Clintonites bought into the idea that there was a network of conservative groups and media outlets and that they would float rumors that would eventually find their way into the mainstream media. These days, we have leftist groups and media outlets who tweet wild stories and then those stories make their way into the mainstream media. Funny how that works.

Thomas Sowell speaks up to defend Betsy DeVos and to point out that the opposition to her is being generated by teachers unions objecting to her support of charter schools.
Some of these charter schools — especially those in the chain of the Success Academy schools and the chain of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools — operate in low-income, minority neighborhoods in the inner-cities, and turn out graduates who can match the educational performances of students in affluent suburbs. What is even more remarkable, these charter schools are often housed in the very same buildings, in the very same ghettoes, where students in the regular public schools fail to learn even the basics in English or math.

You and I may think this is great. But, to the teachers' unions, such charter schools are a major threat to their members' jobs — and ultimately to the unions' power or existence.

If parents have a choice of where to send their children, many of those parents are not likely to send them to failing public schools, when there are alternative schools available that equip those youngsters with an education that can open the way to a far better future for them.

Already there are tens of thousands of children on waiting lists to get into charter schools, just in New York alone. Those waiting lists are a clear threat to teachers' unions, whose leaders think schools exist to provide guaranteed jobs for their members.

Mrs. DeVos has shown for more than 20 years that she thinks schools exist to educate children. One of the biggest complaints about her is that, unlike Secretaries of Education before her, she does not come out of the government's education establishment. Considering what a miserable job that establishment has done, especially in inner-city schools, her independence is a plus.

Teachers' unions have fought for years to prevent charter schools from being created. Now that such schools have been created, and there are now huge waiting lists, the teachers' unions have gotten politicians to put a numerical cap on the number of such schools, regardless of how large the waiting lists are.

Desperate attempts to smear Betsy DeVos, in order to prevent her from being confirmed as Secretary of Education, have not let the facts get in the way.

She is accused of "steering public dollars away from traditional public schools." But nobody can steer anything anywhere, when it is individual parents who make the decisions as to where they want their children educated. The money follows the children.

Neither the money nor the children get steered by education bureaucrats, as happens with traditional public schools.

If charter schools educate one-third of the students in a district, and get one-third of the money, how does that reduce the amount of money per child in the public school? Actually, charter schools usually get less money per student, but produce better results.

American education is at a crossroads. If the teachers' unions and their allies can defeat the nomination of Mrs. DeVos, and the Republicans substitute someone else more acceptable to the education establishment, a historic opportunity will be lost, and may never come again in this generation.
My daughter works for KIPP schools in Washington, D.C. and the stories of the dedicated work of the teachers and administration to help students who otherwise would be condemned to failing regular public schools is truly inspiring. I work at a charter school for which we regularly have over 1000 applications for about 80 spots in the entering class. Like KIPP, we are a public school, a fact often ignored in the overwrought rhetoric against charters. We have to educate students with the same per-student allotment that the regular public schools get. The difference is that we have to pay all our capital expenses out of that amount as well as teachers' health insurance and pensions. And still our students regularly achieve at the highest level in our state. No wonder the teachers' unions see the threat.

Oh, the nasty irony.
Clean-up crews are racing to clear acres of debris at the largest Dakota Access protest camp before the spring thaw turns the snowy, trash-covered plains into an environmental disaster area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday that the camp, located on federal land, would be closed Feb. 22 in order to “prevent injuries and significant environmental damage in the likely event of flooding in this area” at the mouth of the Cannonball River in North Dakota.
“Without proper remediation, debris, trash, and untreated waste will wash into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe,” the Corps said in its statement.
Those involved in the clean-up effort, led by the Standing Rock Sioux, say it could take weeks for private sanitation companies and volunteers to clear the expanse of abandoned tents, teepees, sleeping bags, blankets, canned food, supplies and just plain garbage littering the Oceti Sakowin camp.
“It’s unfortunate. Again, that just goes against what they’re fighting against, is leaving that stuff and abandoning it and obviously the environment the river,” Scott Davis, North Dakota Commissioner for Indian Affairs, told KFYR-TV in Bismarck.

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There seemed a trend of politically-tinged ads in the Super Bowl. That's fine. If companies want to pay millions of dollars to signal their own virtue, so be it. The one that did irritate me was the Audi one with a dad wondering what he should tell his daughter about the supposed pay gap between men and women. For the umpteenth time, as Bre Payton points out, that is a bogus statistic and it is wrong to propagandize girls to believe that they're facing such discrimination. Payton also links to this funny Twitter exchange,
And here was Audi's response.

Got that? Audi admits that there are reasons why they pay their female employees less that have nothing to do with discrimination? Unh huh. That's the whole point that economists have been trying to explain for years. Payton repeats the main arguments that Audi seems to understand for their own company, but are ignoring in order to pretend that they're so virtuous since everyone needs to know where a car company stands on feminism before buying a car.
So, it seems that Audi admits their female employees’ paychecks are not as fat as those of their male employees. Yet this doesn’t mean female employees aren’t being paid equally. Yes, if you compare the overall income of women versus the overall incomes of men, women make 79 cents on the dollar of what a man earns.

But this statistic is misleading, as women often choose occupations that generally pay less than the jobs men chose. For example, fewer women take jobs in science and math fields, which generally pay more. Women do not like taking physically risky jobs, which also often have pay premiums. That’s why very few women work as frackers or linemen. (On the flip side, women die less often on the job then men.) Women also prefer jobs that give them greater flexibility, allowing them to stay home with their children, and they tend to work part-time more often than men do.

I was amused by the Mr Clean ad in which he became an animated object of one woman's sexual fantasies.
This was especially to me because of a story my father he told me. He spent his life in advertising and was the account manager back in the 1950s for the agency that first presented the idea for Mr. Clean to Proctor Gamble. The company was very skeptical of the idea because they thought it would frighten 1950s housewives to have a bald guy with an earring suddenly appear in their kitchens. So my dad's agency conducted a several focus group with women to test out the ad. And it turned out that the women in the focus groups were very positive about the ad. Apparently, they loved the idea of a piratical-looking guy popping into their kitchens to help them with the housework. And who wouldn't like that fantasy? And now now, practically 60 years later, Mr. Clean's current ad agency is making good on that fantasy the 1950s focus group women were thinking.