Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cruising the Web

UPDATE: One of my colleagues disagreed with the way I depicted the goals of the marchers and wanted me to point out that a great many of those marching were not marching for an increase in salary, but rather for an increase in the per-student allotment for schools which could go fund books and other resources for students and classes. Here are the goals as listed by the May 16 Coalition.
All that said, here are a few primary demands that seem to be resonating with educators around the state:

-Increase per-student spending, which is currently 39th in the nation and about $2,400 less than the national average.
-Increase pay for educators with a plan to get to the national average and immediate across the board pay raises for all state employees. This can be paid for by repealing an upcoming corporate tax break.
-End performance-based pay, reinstate a pay scale that values veteran educators, and restore pay incentives for advanced degrees.
-Freeze any increases in health care costs for public employees, which requires no additional resources from the state.
-Accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, giving affordable health care to the one-quarter of North Carolina students who live in poverty.
-Stop the attacks on public schools by placing a moratorium on new charter schools and private school vouchers.
I apologize for denigrating the goals of the many teachers, especially my colleagues, who are much more concerned about the per-student spending than they are about their personal salaries. I was basing my description on what the newspaper had written and a lot of posts I'd seen from people on Facebook (not my colleagues, but other teachers with whom I'm in groups for the courses I teach).

Wednesday was the big day for North Carolina teachers to protest at the state legislature. Six county school districts have closed for the day because there were so many teachers scheduled to be absent so they could join the protests. My school was open, but we had to rely on teacher volunteers for the 19 faculty members who were protesting. And since the students knew that so many teachers would be absent, a lot of them just didn't show up today.

Closing schools was explicitly all part of the plan as recommended on the May 16 Coalition website.
What happens if my principal denies my leave request?
Make sure the personal day is logged into AESOP anyway. Principals are not allowed to ask what the leave is for but may deny if there is not sub coverage. Our goal is overwhelm the system with absences so that the district considers closing school for the day, allowing educators to go to Raleigh. The only way the district knows about personal days is if they are logged into the system, not the paper forms submitted to principals. So log it in now!
I would like to support my fellow teachers, but I just oppose leaving my responsibilities as a teacher for an all-day protest for many issues that I think are being overblown and mischaracterized. As the Raleigh News and Observer, a very liberal newspaper, points out, the differences between what Republicans and Democrats are advocating for education spending is not all that far apart.
▪ Republican plan: GOP legislative leaders have said they want to give teachers around a 6 percent average raise next year. Instead of trying to catch up to the national average, they said they'll consider giving bonuses for high performers or for teaching jobs in high-demand subjects. They also want to keep all current tax cuts planned to go into effect.

▪ Democrat plan: Gov. Roy Cooper has said he wants to give teachers around an 8 percent raise next year, as part of a plan to eventually reach the national average. He also wants raises for veteran teachers, who don't get any in the GOP legislative plan. They want to keep most planned tax cuts, but pay for the higher raises by stopping a planned tax cut for businesses and for individual income over $200,000.
As a "veteran" teacher, I would clearly benefit more from the Democrats' plan, but I also support a plan that targets raises for the positions that are in higher demand. That is where NC has problems hiring and/or keeping new teachers. And a difference of 2% does not seem worth shutting down schools for a day.

What is clear is that this is more of a partisan protest than a policy-minded protest. The teachers protesting are hoping that they will unseat Republican control of the state legislature. Terry Stoops of the conservative NC think tank, the John Locke Foundation, exposes some of what is behind all this sturm und drang.
The May 16 teacher gathering in Raleigh is inspired by teacher demonstrations in other states and is energized by the desire of public school advocacy groups to weaken Republican control of the General Assembly. It’s political mobilization disguised as a “rally for respect.”

The N.C. Association of Educators has been unusually forthcoming about the partisan nature of the walkout. Referring to the N.C. General Assembly, NCAE Mark Jewell told WRAL reporter Travis Fain, “We don’t anticipate much change from this group. So, we’re going to change the players in the game.”

“If legislators don’t want to listen now, they WILL hear about it on Nov. 6. See you at the polls. – Rest assured, the journey begins May 16” read an NCAE Twitter post.
So they shut down schools and inconvenienced families for partisan reasons. And they're willing to say that openly. Stoops summarizes their demands as posted on the organizers' website.
As one would expect, increases in teacher compensation and per-pupil spending top the list of demands posted on the May 16 Coalition website. No public education rally is complete without demands for increased education spending made possible by higher taxes on those who they believe do not pay their “fair share.” Walkout leaders also want lawmakers to discontinue performance pay programs, freeze any increases in health-care costs, accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, and “stop the attacks on public schools” by placing a moratorium on charter schools and private school vouchers. Basically, they want North Carolina to be the Vermont of the South.

Clearly, the Republican record of creating targeted performance and incentive pay programs, lowering taxes, passing prudent budgets, curtailing regulations, and maximizing school choice doesn’t fit the bill. Predictably, walkout leaders contend Republican efforts to boost teacher compensation have been unsatisfactory.
Of course, they didn't stage walkouts when it was the Democrats who were in charge of the legislature and we went several years without a teacher pay raise.
Had teachers ditched a day of classroom instruction for a mass protest four years ago, their complaints about compensation would have carried more weight. Between 2011 and 2014, Medicaid shortfalls, in particular, crippled the ability of the General Assembly to increase teacher compensation. Medicaid, a program that provides funding for health-care services for low-income individuals, required $1.8 billion in additional taxpayer funding to stay afloat. It’s likely those dollars would have been used to fund teacher salary increases during these post-recession years.

By the 2013-14 school year, average teacher pay had dipped to $44,990 and was among the lowest in the Southeast. In contrast, benefit payments (conspicuously missing from the teacher pay debate) steadily increased during this period. Social Security and retirement contributions for individual teachers neared $9,200, and the state added close to $5,300 for health insurance.

With Medicaid spending under control, the Republican-controlled legislature had access to sufficient revenue to resume the practice of awarding salary and experience-based increases, enacting targeted bonus programs, and keeping up with the rising costs of employee benefits. And that’s what they did.

After four consecutive years of compensation increases, average teacher pay surged to $51,214 this year and is in the top half of southeastern states. Social Security and retirement contributions exceeded $11,600. The state subsidy for health insurance nears $5,900 and will climb to more than $6,100 next year. At the same time, lawmakers added a slew of teacher training and incentive pay initiatives that corresponded to their education reform priorities.
But that isn't enough. And so they staged this massive protest because they want 2% more than what the GOP is recommending. Notice also that they want the legislature to raise taxes to fund their demands. And, of course, they oppose what the Republicans did when they took over the state legislature and raised the cap on charter schools. Of course the education organizations hate charter schools because we don't give teachers tenure. They can't stand that there are charter schools out there where teachers and schools accomplish as much as or more than regular public schools with less money.

Sure, I'd like a pay raise as much as anyone, but I don't see that this is the moment or method for trying to obtain one. The state has a budget surplus this year so the legislature is already planning to increase funding on education. School is going to be out in a few weeks. The protests could have taken place then, but they wouldn't have had grabbed as much public attention if parents didn't have to figure out childcare alternatives for school districts that shut down.

Even the News and Observer had to fact check one teacher's Facebook post that went viral with his claim that he makes only $53 a day. The post was shared by the governor and other supporters of the protests. The only problem is that it wasn't true. I guess he forgot that public school teachers' salaries are public information.
A teacher in western North Carolina said he makes $53 a day, spurring politicians to use his claim to support their position that teachers across the state are underpaid. The difference between what the teacher claimed and what the records show is about $26.76. In other words, his daily pay in April was about 50 percent higher than he claimed it was.

What teachers make is an important debate — one that should be won or lost on solid numbers. There are many ways of illustrating a correct number, but the $53/day is not the poster child it was made out to be.

We rate this statement False.
But, of course, the facts don't matter when there are propaganda points to be made.

Writing about the teacher strikes that have been happening across the nation, Larry Sand, a retired California teacher and leader of a non-partisan teachers' organization, sheds some clarity on the misleading numbers out there.
While teachers in some cases are underpaid and certain school districts underfunded, teachers on the whole, according to researcher James Agresti, get paid much better than commonly acknowledged. For the 2016–2017 school year, the average salary of full-time public school teachers was $58,950. That figure excludes benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and pensions, which, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, make up an average of 33 percent of total compensation for public school teachers. When benefits get added in, teachers’ average annual compensation jumps to $87,854. And even that amount doesn’t include unfunded pension liabilities and certain post-employment benefits like health insurance, not measured by the Labor Department. Private-industry employees work an average of 37 percent more hours per year than public school teachers, including the time that teachers spend for lesson preparation, grading, and other activities. “Unlike less rigorous studies, this data from the DOL is based on detailed records of work hours instead of subjective estimates about how long people think they work,” Agresti adds.

Teachers aren’t just well compensated; they’re also more numerous than ever before, especially in proportion to their students. Researcher and economics professor Benjamin Scafidi found that, between 1950 and 2015, the number of teachers increased about 2.5 times faster than the number of students, and hiring of other education employees—administrators, teacher aides, counselors, social workers—rose more than seven times faster than the increase in students. Despite the staffing surge, students’ academic achievement has stagnated or fallen during that time. Scafidi suggests that, had non-teaching personnel growth been in line with student population growth, and the teaching force risen “only” 1.5 times as fast as student growth, U.S. schools would have had an additional $37.2 billion to spend annually. With that windfall, he suggests, we could have raised every public school teacher’s salary by more than $11,700 per year, given poor families more than $2,600 in cash per child to attend private schools of their parents’ choice, and more than doubled taxpayer funding for early-childhood education.(Links in original)
He's from California so he's well aware of how teacher pensions are throwing municipal funding totally out of balance.
Robert Costrell, a finance expert at the University of Arkansas, found that 10.6 percent of all education spending goes toward teacher-retirement benefits—more than double the proportion spent on pensions in 2004. “As a percentage of their total compensation package, teacher retirement benefits eat up twice as much as other workers,” Bellwether Education Partners policy analyst Chad Alderman explains. Teachers—including bad teachers—have a powerful incentive to stay on in their jobs, since they automatically earn more just by showing up each fall, regardless of how effective they are. Pension benefits start accruing later in a teacher’s career, so younger teachers are helping to prop up pensions for lifers, with little to show for it; if a teacher leaves the field early, he gets no pension at all.

States typically administer teacher pensions, but health-care benefits frequently vary according to the local school district. While some districts cut teachers’ health benefits off when Medicare kicks in, others, such as the Los Angeles Unified School District, are much more generous. LAUSD provides the same expansive health coverage for retirees (and their spouses) as it does for current employees; neither group pays a premium for its insurance. The district recently announced that the unfunded liability for retiree health benefits has risen to $15.2 billion, up from a reported $13.5 billion in 2016, which translates to a cost of $525 per student.
So what happens when that unfunded liability comes due? Some school districts will be spending a hefty part of their budgets on retirees and be unable to fund current teachers. Imagine the protests we'll see then.

Of course, leftist policies that have unintended consequences that damage a polity are noting new. Just witness the mess that Seattle politicians are making of their city. It's as if they think that the laws of supply and demand have been repealed. They have passed regulations to limit the construction of high-density housing and favoring single-home buildings. Then they're amazed that, as the population of the city has soared, the price of housing has also soared. Increased demand and limited supply leads to higher prices. Where might people have learned what will happen in such a situation. Hmmmm.

If you've never been exposed to economics, John Stosselexplains it to you.
Normally, when that happens, the free market quickly solves the problem. Builders view the rising prices as a wonderful thing. They quickly build new housing to sell to the new customers. But in Seattle, and many towns in America, politicians make that very hard.

Seattle's building code is 745 pages long.

If you want to build apartments, you better hire lawyers and "fixers" to keep you on the right side of the rules.

Seattle's rules insist that "Welded splices shall be of ASTM A706 steel" and "foam plastic signs shall not be greater than 1/2 inch" thick.

On the majority of Seattle's land, building any high-rise is illegal; zoning rules say only single-family houses may be built.

Want to run a cheap flophouse with single rooms? Seattle's rules make that just about impossible.

Finally, if a landlord decides to take a building off the market, he must pay each of his tenants $3,000 in relocation costs.

No wonder there's a housing shortage.

Seattle's big-government restrictions created a housing problem. So now they propose to solve it with more heavy-handed government.

Seattle promises its new per-employee tax will only hit "big" companies, those grossing more than $20 million per year (about 3 percent of Seattle's businesses).

Don't the politicians realize that many growing companies will simply stop expanding when they get close to $20 million in income, just as companies, looking to escape Obamacare, avoid employing more than 49 workers?

Some pay lawyers to split the company into pieces. Some expand in another state. Don't politicians see that raising taxes has nasty side effects? I guess not.

Monday, after Amazon's pushback, the city council imposed a tax of $275 per worker instead of the originally proposed $500 tax.

They called that "compromise," but it sounds like replacing a bad plan with a half-as-bad plan.
Since Seattle's leaders don't understand economics, they're doubling down on their stupidity. Their plan is to tax large employers with a head tax to fund shelters for the homeless. Sure. Make it more unattractive for large employers to stay in your cities and see how long they hang around. And then what happens to all the smaller businesses that are built to cater to those large businesses and their many employees? The WSJ writes,
Seattle’s city council on Monday unanimously approved a $250 “tax” per full-time employee on businesses with more than $20 million in annual revenue. Progressive council members had originally proposed a $500 jobs tax that would have turned into a 0.7% payroll tax in 2021, but then Seattle’s businesses revolted.

Amazon suspended two building expansion projects. More than 100 large businesses including Expedia , Alaska Airlines and Redbox wrote a letter warning that the tax sends the message “to every business: if you are investing in growth, if you create too many jobs in Seattle, you will be punished,” which “will cause far greater damage to Seattle’s growth prospects than the direct impact on the businesses being taxed.”

Three hundred or so small businesses also warned that “continuing tax increases and regulations will only hurt the small business community and will vastly change our city.” Even trade unions begged the council “not to tax our jobs away.”

Not to be left behind, California is seeking out ways to make their housing costs even higher.
California, where a modest, burned-out home in San Jose just sold for nearly $1 million, well above its asking price, is in the throes of a housing-affordability crisis. The state’s latest response to the housing crunch: a mandate that builders install solar panels on every new home in the Golden State.

It’s tough to overstate the high cost of housing in California, even relative to the state’s high incomes. In San Jose, the average home costs 10.3 times the area’s median income, according to Demographia’s International Housing Affordability Survey. This high ratio is not due to some local bubble—it’s 9.4 in Los Angeles, 9.1 in San Francisco, and 8.4 in San Diego. Elsewhere in the country— even in relatively prosperous cities with high growth—housing is more affordable. In Columbus, Ohio, and in Atlanta, for instance, home prices average only about three times the median income. Even New York City, considered “severely unaffordable,” scores just 5.7.

Regulations that stifle building are a big part of the problem. Reason illustrated the absurdity of California’s building rules when it profiled a laundromat owner in San Francisco who has spent four years and $1 million trying to develop apartments on the site of his one-story, non-historic building in a city starving for new housing. It’s so tough to find an affordable place to live in San Francisco that people in their late thirties are living in dorms.
So with the already-existing housing problems, what did California politicians do - they added even more costly regulations to increase the price of housing.
But beyond the zoning and regulatory barriers, mandates that raise prices are an underreported part of the housing price challenge in California. The New York Times estimates that the solar-panel requirement will add $8,000–$12,000 to the cost of a home—close to the price of a year’s in-state tuition at UC Berkeley. One local chapter of Habitat for Humanity says that the charity will have to raise an additional $80,000 to $100,000 per year just to keep building the same number of homes. Advocates insist that solar power saves money in the long run, but if it’s such a great deal, why does California have to legislate it?
But,'s for the climate. It must be the good thing to do, right? Just smack a green label on any policy and it immediately becomes sacred. Well, except for nasty reality.
The state’s rationale for imposing the directive is, of course, climate change. But as New York Times climate reporter Brad Plumer tweeted, adding 10,000 new apartments in San Francisco would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions in the state by three times as much as the solar-panel mandate because urban apartment-dwellers use less energy than single-home occupants. California is already a green-friendly state. Building more housing that lets more people live in California, even at current energy-efficiency levels, would have a positive effect on emissions. The alternative is forcing people to move out of state and into more polluting jurisdictions.

Such policies explain why "liberal California" is "the poverty capital of America." The Pacific Research Institute's fellow in California studies, Kerry Jackson writes,
The state and local bureaucracies that implement California's antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It's as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its "customer" base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

Further contributing to the poverty problem is California's housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

"Counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings," explains analyst Wendell Cox. "Middle-income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while the less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing." The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development, says Todd Williams, an Oakland attorney who chairs the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean land-use group. CEQA costs have been known to shut down entire homebuilding projects. CEQA reform would help increase housing supply, but there's no real movement to change the law.

Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, author of a 2015 Manhattan Institute study, "Less Carbon, Higher Prices," found that "in 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced … energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households." A Pacific Research Institute study by Wayne Winegarden found that the rate could exceed 17% of median income in some areas.

Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don't have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. A Harvard University study found evidence that "higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants" in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. "Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating)," the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.
Sadly, politicians keep pretending that they're doing more and more to help while their actual policies are exacerbating the problems.

Meanwhile, Hamas is destroying leftist excuses for what they have been doing in their riots on the Israeli border. It's as if they just don't care that the media in the left have been making up a whole story of heartless Israeli soldiers killing defenseless civilians who were peacefully protesting. Instead, Hamas has proudly spoken out in Arabic about their motives. Guy Benson elaborates,
In the latest bout of this moral blindness, Israel's critics are currently wringing their hands about the senseless violence and death visited upon "peaceful protesters" along the Gaza border by the IDF. The way some news outlets tell it, these poor, downtrodden Palestinians were merely venting their frustrations over Donald Trump's embassy 'provocation' -- then Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a massacre against them. Astoundingly, that framing is only a slight exaggeration.

In reality, these were riots deliberately orchestrated and fomented by Hamas, the terrorist organization that took over Gaza after Israel unilaterally withdrew from that territory in 2005 (a titanic failure of the sort of land-for-peace goodwill gesture endlessly urged by Israel's detractors, in spite of other historical inconveniences).
Of course the idea that this was nonviolent doesn't hold up with the reality of what was really going on.

As Hamas does, they use schools, hospitals, and mosques as shields so that they can arouse more propaganda against Israel
Credulous western media outlets lament Israel's lethal 'overreaction,' using split-screen images (like the one attached to this post) juxtaposing the US embassy opening with the bloody upheaval in Gaza to discredit America and Israel. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders are telling Arabic-language press some candid, evil truths. If only the journalists purporting to be horrified by civilian deaths would listen:
Don't believe any of the claims coming out from Hamas and parroted in western media. For example, this story got some big play even though this baby's death had nothing to do with Israel.

Here is a Palestinian how Hamas gets civilians out to protest.

Hamas issue paychecks for the families of those who are killed. Israel issues warnings against rushing the border and tells Palestinians in Hamas that they will be shot. Perhaps that is why the great number of those who were killed were members of Hamas.What an amazing coincidence that the Israeli soldiers had such control in the midst of riots that the people they killed were mostly Hamas and not all the civilians that we were told were the ones protesting. And notice the demeanor of this spokesman. He's quite proud of the martyrdom. Here is the original interview.

If you had any doubt about how much Hamas cares about civilians compared to how Israeli feels, note this story.They don't want medical supplies; they would prefer that people die because they would rather make propaganda points with corpses than help people survive.

As Are Fleischer points out, if the enraging trigger was the juxtaposition of the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding along with the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem, why is Gaza the only place where rioting is occurring? And why are they only rioting at the border with Israel and not the border with Egypt?

There is another amazingly stupid point that opponents of Israel have been making. They've been bemoaning the disproportionate number of fatalities between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Damon Linker of The Week typifies this idiocy. It's as if these critics have no knowledge of warfare. Would they have preferred that more Americans died in each war we've fought in the modern era?

Ben Shapiro rightly derides
this irrational argument.
It’s just not sporting for Israel not to let its soldiers be murdered for no reason, old chap.

Then there’s commentator Haroon Moghul at, who wrote:
A hugely disproportionate number of Palestinians die, while few if any Israelis ever do (in this case: zero). Still Israel claims it is defending itself.

Well, yes. If you try to kill me and I defend myself by killing you, the score is now 1-0 in my favor. And I was still defending myself. But Moghul’s actual agenda is clear: he thinks there should be no state of Israel, so Jews could go back to being killed willy-nilly at the behest of others. He states, “This is not a conflict between two equal and competing narratives. The Palestinians were already there.”

By this logic, Israel ought not exist at all. Which is exactly what Moghul wants....

Anyone claiming that more Jews ought to die in order to establish moral superiority is a person who wouldn’t grant that moral superiority no matter how many Jews died. The very argument that more Jews ought to die is why Israel exists.

Lastly, there is this irony.

And then those who oppose Israel help the terrorists out, as Noah Pollak points out, by "making up international law for fun and sport."
One of the tropes that is being repeated everywhere is this one, promoted here with complete credulity by the New York Times:
International law allowed for the use of lethal force only as a last resort in the face of an immediate threat to life or serious injury, Mr. Colville noted. Those laws "appear to have been ignored again and again," he added.

"An attempt to approach, or crossing or damaging the green line fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition," he said.
This farcical claim originates with "human rights" groups such as Human Rights Watch (whose Israel director, Omar Shakir, is a BDS activist) and Amnesty International (which calls for an arms embargo on Israel).

The problem is this alleged requirement of "international law" doesn't exist. It is made-up, an example of the new trend of human rights groups claiming "international law" that doesn't actually exist in, say, the Geneva Conventions, but is merely what these groups wish was enshrined in international law because it gives their hatred of Israel a sheen of moral high-mindedness and impartiality.

The concept that lethal force can only be used when faced with an "imminent threat to life" is taken from domestic law enforcement, not from the laws of armed conflict. Just think of how ludicrous this claim is applied to the battlefield: it would render the United States, for example, guilty of war crimes for killing members of ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan.

No matter. Ken Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, tweets:

How do we know Ken Roth is wrong? Because Ken Roth says so. Here he is writing in a different context one year ago:
In war, opposing combatants can be targeted and killed by virtue of their status as combatants, without regard to their conduct at that moment. … In peacetime, by contrast, law enforcement rules allow the use of lethal force only as a last resort to stop an imminent lethal threat.

How embarrassing—no less so for Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch than for the gullibles in the media who repeat this lie.
But if Israel is involved, any hope of consistency in argument flies out the window. What must be going on in the mind of the head of Human Rights Watch who looks at what happens in the Middle East and finds Israel to blame?