You are browsing the archive for 2019 April 09.

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Legendary musician and megawatt star Prince dies at 57

April 9, 2019 in History

By Editors

On the morning of this day in 2016, Prince, the polymathic musician who created more than 30 albums and won seven Grammy Awards over a 40-year career, is found dead in Paisley Park, his Minnesota home and recording studio. The cause of death was an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. He was 57 years old.

In the hours and days after the news broke, fans around the world mourned his death with massive memorials. In a statement, President Obama said, “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent.”

Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, to musicians Mattie Shaw and John Nelson. As a teenager, Prince played in bands with his friends. In 1978, when he was 20, he signed his first record contract with Warner Bros., and that same year released his debut album, For You. Nearly every year after that he released a new album.

Prince’s sixth studio album, Purple Rain, released in 1984, was a high point. The album spent 24 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, spawned two hit singles (“When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy”), won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, and sold 13 million copies. The accompanying film of the same name, which starred Prince in a loosely autobiographical role, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. Both the album and the film’s success launched Prince to international stardom.

Throughout his career, Prince defied and transcended genre. His music fused elements of funk, R&B, rock and pop into what later became known as Minneapolis Sound. Famously, he usually played all of the instruments on his albums himself—including 27 (ranging from piano to electric guitar to finger cymbals) on For You. He also toured frequently and was known as an especially electrifying live performer.

In the years before his death, Prince had been taking prescription pain medication for chronic hip pain. It is believed he was struggling with opioid addiction. He still recorded and performed during this time. His last album, Hit n Run Phase Two, was released in December 2015.

In October 2016, six months after Prince’s death, Paisley Park opened to the public for tours. In 2016, Prince’s estate sold more albums than any other artist that …read more


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Stockholm Syndrome: The True Story of Hostages Loyal to Their Captor

April 9, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

How a six-day hostage drama inside a Swedish bank christened the psychological phenomenon known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”

On the morning of August 23, 1973, an escaped convict crossed the streets of Sweden’s capital city and entered a bustling bank, the Sveriges Kreditbanken, on Stockholm’s upscale Norrmalmstorg square. From underneath the folded jacket he carried in his arms, Jan-Erik Olsson pulled a loaded submachine gun, fired at the ceiling and, disguising his voice to sound like an American, cried out in English, “The party has just begun!”

After wounding a policeman who had responded to a silent alarm, the robber took four bank employees hostage. Olsson, a safe-cracker who failed to return to prison after a furlough from his three-year sentence for grand larceny, demanded more than $700,000 in Swedish and foreign currency, a getaway car and the release of Clark Olofsson, who was serving time for armed robbery and acting as an accessory in the 1966 murder of a police officer. Within hours, the police delivered Olsson’s fellow convict, the ransom and even a blue Ford Mustang with a full tank of gas. However, authorities refused the robber’s demand to leave with the hostages in tow to ensure safe passage.

The unfolding drama captured headlines around the world and played out on television screens across Sweden. The public flooded police headquarters with suggestions for ending the standoff that ranged from a concert of religious tunes by a Salvation Army band to sending in a swarm of angry bees to sting the perpetrators into submission.

Press photographers and police snipers lie side by side on a roof opposite the bank where hostages were being held on August 24, 1973.

Holed up inside a cramped bank vault, the captives quickly forged a strange bond with their abductors. Olsson draped a wool jacket over the shoulders of hostage Kristin Enmark when she began to shiver, soothed her when she had a bad dream and gave her a bullet from his gun as a keepsake. The gunman consoled captive Birgitta Lundblad when she couldn’t reach her family by phone and told her, “Try again; don’t give up.”

When hostage Elisabeth Oldgren complained of claustrophobia, he allowed her to walk outside the vault attached to a 30-foot rope, and Oldgren told The New Yorker a year later that although leashed, “I remember thinking he was very kind to allow me to leave the vault.” Olsson’s …read more


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Stoning Gay People? The Sultan of Brunei Doesn’t Understand Modern Islam

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By Mustafa Akyol

Mustafa Akyol

At a time when Islam’s place in the modern world is a
matter of global contention, Brunei, a small monarchy in Southeast
Asia, has offered its two cents. By April 3, the nation, which is
predominantly Muslim, had begun adhering to a new penal code with
harsh corporal punishments. Accordingly, gay men or adulterers may
be stoned to death, and lesbians may be flogged. Thieves will lose
first their right hand, and then their left foot.

Understandably, these bits of news brought outcries from the
United Nations, human rights organizations and celebrities like George Clooney. In return, the
Brunei government dismissed all criticisms,
the world that the country is “sovereign”
and “like all other independent countries, enforces its own
rule of laws.”

As a Muslim, I should first tell my coreligionists in Brunei
that their argument is not very good. Of course every country can
enforce its own laws, but the content of those laws isn’t
immune from criticism when it violates human rights. Otherwise, we
would have no basis to criticize
China’s totalitarian persecution of Uighur Muslims
or the
illiberal bans on “religious symbols,” including the
Islamic head scarf, in France and, more recently, Quebec.

Of course every country
can enforce its own laws, but the content of those laws isn’t
immune from criticism when it violates human rights.

However, the real issue isn’t Brunei. It is Islamic law,
or Shariah, the penal code from which law is applied not just in
Brunei but in about a dozen other nations as well, such as Saudi
Arabia, Iran and Sudan. It includes brutal corporal punishments
that shock the rest of the world. It also criminalizes acts that
shouldn’t be crimes at all — such as consensual sex,
loss of faith in Islam (“apostasy”) and the right to
criticize it (“blasphemy”).

Muslims who insist on keeping or reviving these measures have a
simple logic: Shariah is God’s law, and enforcing it is a religious
duty. But their blind literalism is wrong for three reasons.

First, the corporal punishments in the Quran — amputation
of limbs and flogging — may simply be related to the context
of the Quran. In seventh-century Arabia, where the Prophet Muhammad
lived, there were no prisons in which to incarcerate and feed
people for a long time. For the same reason, corporal punishments
— much cheaper and easier than imprisonment — were the
universal norm until a few centuries ago. The Hebrew Bible
commanded many of them, as did pre-modern European laws.

Second, much of the Shariah is actually man-made. Islamic
scholars expanded jurisprudence based …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Court’s Constitutional Critics of “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” Should Start with Chevron

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By William Yeatman

William Yeatman

Welcome back to Ninth Circuit Review-Reviewed, your monthly recap of administrative law before arguably “the second most important court in the land.”

On 28th March, in a thoughtful concurring opinion to Aguirre Barbosa v. Barr, Judge Marsha Berzon “join[ed] the chorus of voices calling for renewed consideration as to whether the phrase ‘crime involving moral turpitude’ is unconstitutionally vague.” Only a month before, Berzon’s colleague Judge William Fletcher made the same point with a concurrence to Islas-Veloz v. Whitaker.

Here’s the backstory to these similarly-minded concurring opinions. Under immigration laws, an alien can be deported if he or she has been convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) within five years of admission, or if she/he is convicted of two CIMTs at any time. Although the statute authorizes the Attorney General to cancel the removal of any alien, this discretion does not extend to anyone convicted of CIMTs in the manner described above. Of course, removal proceedings implicate the highest of stakes—the Supreme Court recognizes that deportation can deprive a person “of all that makes life worth living.” Accordingly, there is a lot riding on the meaning of a morally turpitudinous crime.

Looking to the statutory term, per se, lends little insight; Ninth Circuit panels repeatedly have observed that CIMT “is perhaps the quintessential example of an ambiguous phrase.” For its part, Congress failed to provide any interpretive guidance, as “there are no statutorily established elements for a crime involving moral turpitude.” Instead, the meaning of CIMT “is left to the [Board of Immigration Appeals] and courts to develop through case-by-case adjudication.”

While such a common law approach might appear appealing — at least on paper — the reality has proved anything but. Despite many years of trying, prior Ninth Circuit panels have conceded “the consistent failure of either the [Board of Immigration Appeals] or our own court to establish any coherent criteria for determining which crimes fall within that classification and which crimes do not.”

For Judges Berzon, Fletcher, and like-minded others (including me), it’s a fool’s errand to try to lend coherence to CIMTs in immigration law, because the statutory term is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court, however, held to the contrary in 1951. Out of due respect for stare decisis, Judges Berzon and Fletcher filed their arguments in concurrences, rather than dissenting opinions. But see Lindsay M. Kornegay & Evan Tsen Lee, Why Deporting Immigrants for “Crimes Involving Moral …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Case Closed: Charter Schools Deliver More Education ‘Bang’ for the Buck

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By Patrick J. Wolf, Corey A. DeAngelis

Patrick J. Wolf and Corey A. DeAngelis

Polls show that most Americans think our public schools deserve
more funding. Meanwhile, each year, states and school districts
make choices about how to spend the education funds that they have.
Doesn’t it make sense for them to invest in schools that
– schools that help students learn the most with the
lowest burden on taxpayers?

Several years ago, we began ­researching which type of public
school — traditional or public charter — delivered the
most ­academically cost-effective education. In a 2018 report, we
­examined eight cities: New York City plus Atlanta, Boston, Denver,
Houston, Indianapolis, San Antonio and Washington, DC.

While their sizes and demographics vary widely, each city has a
substantial concentration of students enrolled in charter schools.
In every city, we found that charter schools were more productive
— that is, they yielded more learning per education dollar
spent than traditional district schools.

Elected officials and
policymakers have a choice about where to invest educational
resources and a responsibility to invest wisely.

Students enrolled in New York City’s charter schools scored
roughly 12 points in reading on the 2015 National Assessment of
Educational Progress, or NAEP, for ­every $1,000 invested in those

By contrast, students in the city’s traditional public schools
produced about 9.5 NAEP reading points per $1,000 invested,
generating a cost-effectiveness advantage of 24% for charters in
the Big Apple. The results for math were similar: More than 13 NAEP
points per $1,000 of funding for charters compared to almost 10.5
points for traditional schools.

We also discovered that Washington, DC, charters were 67% more
cost-effective than traditional schools. Indianapolis charters
bested their traditional counterparts by 65% on the productivity

This year we revisited the same eight cities to see if the trend
had continued. It had. Once again, the charter schools in each city
proved more cost-effective. Public charter schools in New York were
25% more cost-effective than the city’s traditional public schools
in producing 2017 NAEP reading scores and 26% more cost-effective
in generating math scores.

San Antonio charter schools, to take another example, were 29%
more cost-effective in math and 30% more cost-effective in reading
than traditional schools. Washington charters were 43% more
cost-effective in both subjects. The results for each city are
detailed in our report, “A Good Investment: The Updated
Productivity of Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S.

We recognized that NAEP scores represent only a snapshot of
academic performance. So we were curious what long-term academic
results would reveal.

By calculating the average amount of learning at traditional and
charter schools, the economic returns to those learning levels over
the ­average lifetime, as well …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Democratic Socialism Is the Scenic Route to Serfdom

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron, Ryan Bourne

Jeffrey Miron and Ryan Bourne

In his 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom,” Nobel prize-winning
economist Friedrich Hayek argued that socialist economic planning
resulted not just in accumulating losses of economic efficiency but
“the very destruction of freedom itself.”

History was kind to Hayek’s worldview. The United Kingdom, Sweden, and India tested socialistic planning without
sustained repression. But people in the Soviet Union, Venezuela,
Cambodia and Cuba were not so lucky. Natural experiments between
socialism and capitalism in East Germany and West Germany, North
Korea and South Korea, and Hong Kong and China, bore out the link
between economic liberty and personal freedom. Upon reunification, for example, GDP per capita in
East Germany was one-third of the West German level, and the latter
did not require the East’s Stasi or emigration restrictions.

In criticizing socialism as it existed in the 1930s and 1940s,
though, Hayek meant a government that owned and operated the means
of production, controlled prices, and planned where and how
production took place. Economists since have broadly agreed this type of “planned” economy is flawed,
albeit recognizing every country has socialistic programs.

In 2019, “socialism” is
enjoying something of a revival in American politics.

In 2019, “socialism” is enjoying something of a revival in
American politics. A Gallup Poll last year suggested Democrat voters
now think more positively of socialism than capitalism. Sen. Bernie
Sanders has self-described as a “democratic socialist”
since the 1960s, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a
card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of

Interestingly, these modern socialists do not rhetorically echo
their predecessors’ definition. “To me, socialism doesn’t mean
state ownership of everything,” Bernie Sanders has said, “…it means creating a nation … in
which all human beings have a decent standard of living.”

Lest we think socialism merely a lofty aspiration, Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine,
recently claimed the key plank of socialism today is an
expansive welfare state entrenching certain economic activities
— such as health care and child care — as social
rights. Social democracies, such as Sweden, have been held up by
Ocasio-Cortez as her vision for the future.

Superficially, this seems good news. If the “socialism” label
now describes social democracy — capitalist economies with
highly redistributive welfare states — then the “red scare”
is overplayed. We need not worry about Hayek’s highway to Havana,
but can debate taking the street to Stockholm. Some liberals even
endorse a grand bargain with “socialists”: more social
welfare in exchange …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Standing on the Shoulders of Tyrants

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“I have the absolute right to PARDON myself,” President Donald
Trump announced via Twitter in June 2018. With that, he pitched a
can of Sterno into the ongoing media firestorm over the special
counsel’s Russia investigation.

The last time a president contemplated a self-pardon was during
the “final days” of Watergate. Nixon wasn’t entirely in his right
mind during this period: frequently drunk, possibly suicidal,
incoherent, pacing the halls at night “talking to pictures of
former presidents,” according to his son-in-law. Still, even at his
worst moment, Nixon had enough wits about him to know that trying
to pardon himself would be crazy.

Trump seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion. His claims
about his right to undermine the rule of law are frequent and
contemptible. Yet as far as we can tell, they have mostly been

In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, for instance, the president
threatened to issue an executive order revoking birthright
citizenship—a move that would have flouted the plain language
and legislative history of the 14th Amendment while putting more
than 4 million Americans at risk of deportation. But this too seems
to have been a pump fake designed to thrill the base and rile the
media; it was abandoned after Election Day.

It’s become a familiar pattern. Trump hits “send tweet” on some
crank theory of absolute executive power. Law professors and
pundits cancel their weekend plans, scrambling to figure out “Can
he do that?”—only to realize, weeks later, that they needn’t
have taken him literally or seriously.

No president in living memory has been nearly as vocal about his
contempt for the legal limits on his power; none has threatened
half as often to throw them off. But again and again, Trump stares
across the Rubicon, shrugs, and then heads back inside to
live-tweet Fox News.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric
is breathtakingly authoritarian, but so far he’s done less than his
predecessors to expand executive power.

In the first hour of this presidency, just after Trump delivered
his “American Carnage” inaugural address, George W. Bush supposedly
remarked, “That was some weird shit.” At this point, we can quibble
only with W’s use of the past tense: The current president’s
behavior has been so weird and unsettling that it’s hard to get
perspective on how bad we’ve got it. Trump’s tweets, his
insult-comic pep rallies, his general inability to act like a
grown-up in a grown-up’s job—everything about the 45th
president distracts us from a clear-eyed evaluation of what he’s
actually done with the enormous powers he inherited.

Case in point: In January, The Atlantic marked the
midpoint of Trump’s tenure with “50 Moments …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Philippines "Mutual" Defense Treaty Isn't Really Mutual at All

April 9, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For Washington, allies have become the equivalent of Facebook
friends: the more the better. Yet rarely does America consider the
cost of such military commitments. Officials assume the mere threat
from Washington is enough to force even the most hardened adversary
to back down.

That appears to be the attitude of Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo. On a recent trip to the Philippines, he threatened the
People’s Republic of China with war lest it so much looks
crossly at “Philippine forces, aircraft or public
vessels.” Or more accurately, attack any of them, which would
“trigger mutual defense obligations.” By which he meant
Washington’s unilateral promise to go to war on behalf of
Manila. The “mutual” in U.S. defense treaties is an
inside joke; no one expects the Filipino armed services to return
the favor. Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said
Manila would accept America’s word, which he interpreted to
mean “we have your back.”

Why make such a commitment? The secretary denounced the China
“threat” and explained: “China’s
island-building and military activities in the South China Sea
threaten your sovereignty, security, and therefore economic
livelihood, as well as that of the United States.”

For Washington, allies
have become the equivalent of Facebook friends: the more the
better. Yet rarely does America consider the cost of such military

His statement is false in almost every way. The PRC’s
activities limit Manila’s control over a few rocky
formations, not the survival of the Philippine state. Losing a
tussle over those territories and surrounding natural resources
would be embarrassing but have little impact on the safety or
well-being of Filipinos. And such an event would have
correspondingly less impact on Americans, individually or
collectively. Under normal circumstances, Washington would barely
notice the event.

Beijing and Manila are contesting ownership of two rocks known
as Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal to the Philippines and Huangyan
Islets to China). Once administered by Manila, the rocks were
grabbed by the People’s Republic of China in 2012, and since
then the two countries have sparred over control. Additionally,
another controversy involves Mischief Reef, located within the
Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, upon which China has
constructed military facilities, including a runway.

The PRC behaved badly, but its claim is limited to peripheral
territory, not the entire Philippines. The region is filled with
such challenges. For instance, Beijing also is contesting control
over elements of the Paracel and Spratly Islands with Vietnam,
Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands with
Japan. The specifics of each case vary, but collectively the
territorial fights have triggered a nationalistic surge throughout
the region.

History does not justify China, but it helps explain
Beijing’s aggressive behavior. Many Chinese …read more

Source: OP-EDS