July 3, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 10:17 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:35 PM


America, Born of the Hebrew Bible: A new book makes the case that the American worldview has always been rooted in the Five Books of Moses (Liel Leibovitz, July 3, 2019, The Tablet)

America, G.K. Chesterton once observed, was "a nation with the soul of a church." Make that a shul: As Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land, a powerful new book, argues, "the American Republic was born to the music of the Hebrew Bible."

Its editors--Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik, Matthew Holbreich, Jonathan Silver, and Stuart W. Halpern, of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University--make their case, in the fine tradition of our wise forefathers, by laying before us scroll after scroll of source material, showing us the Biblical thread that binds everything from the Mayflower Compact to Lincoln's second inaugural address.

Clarified by the editors' illuminating introductions, these historical documents make a strong case for just how firmly our republic was always rooted in the fertile theological soil of the Hebrew bible. Rather than the transactional spirit of John Locke, who they preceded, the pilgrims were moved by a deeper, wilder spirit. Here, we see them speaking not of social contracts--a shaky base, that, for something as unearthly as a nation--but of covenants, the newcomers to America understanding themselves to be the latest in a human chain that began with Noah and Abraham and that owes its existence to its Creator and His will.

Thus thunders John Winthrop, in 1630, that "we are entered into covenant with Him for this work... The Lord will be our God and delight in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness, and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations, the Lord make it like that of New England." It's a model of a covenantal political community taken straight from the prophet Micah, who reminded us that "it hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of thee: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Actually, Man's covenants with God are, likewise, transactional. Contract theory is just biblical covenanting in drabber dress.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:26 PM


Trump's New Fed Pick Judy Shelton Previously Called for Open Borders (Davis Richardson • 07/03/19, NY Observer)

President Donald Trump's newest selection for the Federal Reserve, Judy Shelton, previously called for open borders between the United States and Mexico.

In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal published in 2000, titled "North America Doesn't Need Borders," Shelton praised former Mexico President Vicente Fox's vision of a "greater movement of people" migrating to the United States.

"His talk of open borders is deeply controversial in the U.S., though what he is really selling is the fulfillment of open markets," wrote the economist. "His proposal to combine resources across borders may strike some as too imaginative in its scope. But it is, in fact, steeped in pragmatism."

Praising Fox's efforts to expand the number of work permits granted by U.S. immigration authorities, Shelton noted how the European Union's free flow of resources was an economic "success" for participating countries like Spain, Ireland and Portugal.

"Mr. Fox does, indeed, want to shift economic power," continued Shelton. "Not from one nation to another, though, but rather from government to the people."

There is no economic argument against open borders.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Mexicans in US routinely confront legal abuse, racial profiling, ICE targeting and other civil rights violations (David FitzGerald & Angela Y. McClean, 7/03/19, The Conversation)

[E]vidence suggests that Mexicans and other Latinos are sometimes targeted for arrest based on their race or ethnicity.

In 2014, independent monitors at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in Arivaca, Arizona, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, found that vehicle occupants who appeared to be Latino were 26 times more likely to be asked to show identification than white-looking vehicle occupants, who are frequently waved through the checkpoint.

And in 2012, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation in Alamance County, North Carolina, found that the sheriff had instructed deputies to "go out there and get me some of those taco eaters" by targeting Latinos in traffic stops and other law enforcement activities.

The DOJ concluded that the county demonstrated an "egregious pattern of racial profiling" - a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees everyone equal protection under the law.

Mexicans in the United States have seen their constitutional rights violated in other ways.

The most egregious example was the forced separation of families found to have crossed the border illegally.

Under this Trump administration policy, which began in April 2018, at least 2,654 migrant children - and perhaps thousands more - were taken from their parents and held in government custody while their parents were criminally prosecuted for crossing the border unlawfully.

Thirty of the children known to have been separated from their families were Mexican; the rest were from Central America. Poor record-keeping has made it difficult for all of them to be reunited with their families before their parents' deportation.

Together, these actions violate the constitutional rights to legal due process, equal protection and, according to the Southern District of California, the right of parents to determine the care for their children.

"The liberty interest identified in the Fifth Amendment provides a right to family integrity or to familial association," wrote Judge Dana M. Sabraw in a June 2018 ruling.

More routine civil rights violations happen to Mexicans in the U.S. every day, our report found.

Though children born in the U.S. are entitled by law to American citizenship regardless of their parents' immigration status, hundreds of undocumented Mexican women in Texas have been denied birth certificates for their U.S.-born children since 2013, according to a lawsuit filed by parents. In 2016, Texas settled the lawsuit and agreed to expand the types of documents immigrants can use to prove their identity.

And in both Arizona and Texas, so-called "show me your papers" laws allow police to demand identification from anyone they have a "reasonable suspicion" may be undocumented, which may lead to discriminatory targeting of Latinos.

Once in government detention, surveys conducted in Mexico of recently deported immigrants show, Mexican deportees are often badly treated.

On average, in 2016 and 2017, about half of all recently deported Mexicans reported having no access to medical services or a bathroom while in government custody. One-third reported experiencing extreme heat or cold.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


The saddest thing about the England-USA rivalry? For most Americans it doesn't exist: Alex Morgan's celebration aside, Jill Ellis's team smothered England's passion and spirit with the most hurtful sentiment of all: indifference (Tom Dart, 3 Jul 2019, The Guardian)

The 2-1 US win in the semi-final in Lyon called to mind the scene on the Death Star before it vaporises a planet. Down on the surface it's a hive of nervous energy and excitement as the tenacious underdogs scramble to mount their makeshift defences and gutsy counter-attacks. Up in the command centre, the view is calm and orderly as the workers carry out their instructions by rote, flicking a few switches to activate the superlaser. For the rebels, it's the defining battle of their lives. For the empire, it's just Tuesday.

England dipped into derangement after Steph Houghton's penalty was saved, with Millie Bright sent off and Demi Stokes dropping the ball to concede a foul throw, while the US shepherded out the match with inevitable efficiency; doing just enough, as in the quarter-final against France.

The British media tried its best to provoke some conflict after the pre-game revelation that a couple of US staffers were found in England's hotel, touring it as an option ahead of the final. Investigating the location of the breakfast buffet and the price of a 500ml bottle of Evian from the mini-bar was shaped into a spy scandal, as if Phil Neville might have accidentally left "START RACHEL DALY OUT WIDE" scrawled on the whiteboard in the Fourvière Hotel's meeting room.

Tuesday's semi-final would be a "grudge match", declared the Daily Star; "England fury at World Cup 'Spygate' row: Manager Phil Neville in war of words with the US," roared the Daily Mail. While England were planting a St George's Cross on the moral high ground and fussing over why the Americans couldn't just read the reviews on TripAdvisor, the US simply went about their business before and during the match, paying due deference to the opposition's threat but not reserving any singular treatment for Neville's team, save for a taunt.

Alex Morgan clearly likes her tea served ice-cold. (Although someone should tell her that we increasingly prefer coffee these days.) Her Lyon Tea Party celebration was the most withering put-down since the exchange between the characters Martin and Bob, a school bully, when they meet again as adults in the 1997 film, Grosse Point Blank: "Do you really believe that there's some stored-up conflict that exists between us? There is no us. We don't exist." Having said that, the US annoying England with their celebrations wasn't anything personal: they reserved the same treatment for Thailand and Chile.

The sipping tea was a nice touch, but doesn't beat Julie Ertz telling a French player, "You tried your best."

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Which countries achieved economic growth? And why does it matter? (Max Roser, 6/25/19, Our World in Data)

The average person in the world is 4.4-times richer than in 1950. But beyond the global average, how did incomes change in countries around the world? And why should we care about the growth of incomes? These are the two questions I answer in this post.

The two charts in this post show the level of GDP per capita for countries around the world between 1950 and 2016.

The first chart shows the level of GDP per capita at four different points in time: 1950 in purple, 1970 in yellow, 1990 in green, and the latest available data for 2016 in green.
The chart at the end shows it at two points in time: On the vertical axis you see the level of prosperity in 1950 and on the horizontal axis you see it for 2016.

GDP - Gross Domestic Product - measures the total production of an economy as the monetary value of all goods and services produced during a specific period, mostly one year. Dividing GDP by the size of the population gives us GDP per capita to measure the prosperity of the average person in a country. Because all expenditures in an economy are someone else's income we can think of GDP per capita as the average income of people in that economy. Here at Core-Econ you find a more detailed definition.

Look at the world average in the middle of the charts. The income of the average person in the world has increased from just $3,300 in 1950 to $14,574 in 2016. The average person in the world is 4.4-times richer than in 1950.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Explore the Balance of Payments between States and the Federal Government (Rockefeller Institute)
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Ruthless. Relentless. Victorious.: The true identity of the United States women's soccer team is not so much its style but its results: It is a team built to win, and that is what it does. (Rory Smith, July 2, 2019, NY Times)

Perhaps, in time, the quality that allowed the United States to navigate those few minutes -- and the agonizing 20 or so more that followed -- will come to be identified as its defining trait. "It was a nail-biter," Lavelle said of those minutes when everyone's fate was busy being decided somewhere else. "It was a long wait. But I think it's a time to regroup, to get together, to be ready for whatever's next."

None of it threw Jill Ellis's team. There is too much experience, too much nous, in the United States ranks for that to happen. Instead, it did all it could to tamp down the frenzy. The team that had started this tournament by running up the score against Thailand, adamant that it should, at all times, seek to attack, to go for the jugular, to never stop, started to run for the corners. Heath did it. Morgan did it. They dallied at free kicks. They looked for contact, and when they got it, they stayed down. They waited until they had the ball just right before taking throw-ins. Naeher held on to the ball for as long as she could without attracting sanction from the referee, Ellen White making her feelings on the matter plain as she did so. They drew the sting. They ran the clock.

In doing so, of course, they tried England's patience. "I don't want to say too much," White said afterward, her devastation still plain. "I could say a lot. Some of it may be a bit unsporting, but that is game management. That is how they win games."

She is right, too: that cynical side is just as much a part of the United States arsenal as Morgan's finishing or Horan's vision or Heath's technique. It is what makes them such a fearsome opponent, one capable not only of pummeling an opponent, but of asphyxiating them, too, draining them not only of time but of hope.

It speaks, deep down, to this team's true identity. There is little highbrow talk of philosophy from Ellis and her players. They do not see themselves as the standard-bearers for some idea of how the game should be played or what it should look like. It would be wrong to say there is no aesthetic quality to what they do; more that they accept that aesthetics are subjective -- what looks beautiful to some may be dull to others -- and that their concern is, primarily, with the objective.

This is a team built to win: whenever, wherever and however that might be. Morgan running for the corner was no less a manifestation of a ruthless streak than giddily cranking up the score against Thailand was almost a month ago. She was doing what was necessary to win. That is all that matters. That, to this incarnation of women's soccer's greatest dynasty, is all that there is.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


U.S. Blocked on Plan to Deny Bail to Jailed Asylum Seekers (Kartikay Mehrotra, July 2, 2019, Bloomberg)

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration's plan to jail immigrants seeking asylum and deny them bail if they crossed the U.S. border without permission.

The ruling Tuesday in a class-action lawsuit brought by asylum applicants and their advocates is the latest in a string of court defeats for the President Donald Trump's effort to prevent migrants along the southern border from reaching American towns and cities. Apprehensions of prospective asylum seekers have more than doubled in the last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"It is the finding of this court that it is unconstitutional to deny these class members a bond hearing while they await a final determination of their asylum request," U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman in Seattle wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Proud Boys and Allies to Rally in D.C. to Capitalize on 'Trumpstravaganza': 'We are expecting a lot of Trump supporters, and especially battle-ready Trump supporters,' All Out D.C. organizer Jesse Sparks said. (Will Sommer, 07.02.19, Daily Beast)

Members of the far-right Proud Boys men's group and their allies will rally in D.C. on July 6, just a week after violence at rival Portland rallies ratcheted up tensions between groups on both the right and left. The Proud Boys event and a rival counterprotest threaten to add even more tension for what's already shaping up to be a hot, strange week in Washington. 

The Proud Boys--self-described "Western chauvinists" who adhere to a dizzying array of rules, including restrictions on how much they can masturbate--will be joined by a number of right-wing internet personalities at the "Rally for Free Speech" at D.C.'s Freedom Plaza. 

The event's website lists a number of right-wing internet provocateurs, including conservative smear-pusher Jacob Wohl, anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, British far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


These Pictures Show The "Dangerous" Overcrowding At Border Patrol Facilities (Hamed Aleaziz, 7/02/19, BuzzFeed News)

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General on Tuesday released its final report on overcrowding at several border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley -- nearly a week after BuzzFeed News reported on a draft version -- revealing shocking photographs of people crammed into small detention spaces.

Inspectors detailed how, when they visited several the facilities earlier this month, they found adults and minors with no access to showers. Many adults were only fed bologna sandwiches, and detainees were seen banging on cell windows -- pressing notes to the windows that detailed their time in custody.

Inspectors described the conditions as "dangerous" and "prolonged." Some adults were held in standing-room-only conditions for a week. There was little access to hot showers or hot food for families and children in some facilities.

The inspectors said the overcrowding and prolonged detention for the single adults represented a security risk for detainees, agents, and officers. Adults purposely clogged toilets with Mylar blankets and socks in order to be released from their cells, while some refused to return to cells after they had been cleaned. Others tried to escape.

Of course, they won't trust General Horowitz after he reports either.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



[T]esla has yet more tidings to celebrate: On Wednesday, Thatcham Research announced that the electric sedan is one of the safest cars in Europe, especially when it comes to avoiding crashes.

In a new round of testing, Thatcham, a British nonprofit that assesses vehicle safety, awarded the Model 3 its highest rating of five stars. In crash testing, which Thatcham administers according to standards set by the European New Car Assessment Programme, the Model 3 posted a 96 percent score for how it protects adults. It got an 86 for keeping kids safe, and 74 for how it treats "vulnerable road users" like pedestrians. (That last test involves firing what looks like a half-bowling ball, intended to simulate a pedestrian's head, into the windshield at 25 mph, then examining how the vehicle absorbs the energy of the impact.)

The Model 3 secured a perfect five-star safety rating from the UK's Thatcham Research, using tests developed by the European New Car Assessment Programme.
Good crash ratings are nothing new for Tesla. Safety experts in the US and Europe have praised the automaker for making a structurally sound car by taking advantage of its electric powertrain. The lack of a big engine let Musk's engineers make the front of the car into an especially effective crumple zone. The battery that forms the floor of the vehicle improves the car's rigidity and keeps the center of gravity low, reducing the risk of a rollover. Last year, the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Model 3 five out of five stars. Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV have posted similar scores in the past.

What stands out in the new European results is not just that the Model 3 can take a beating, but that it can avoid one. Of the six cars that earned five stars, the Model 3 is the only one with a "safety assist" score over 80 percent. Its 94 percent is among the highest scores ever seen on a test for that category.