A New Study Utterly Fails to Demonstrate the Sinister Effects of Right-Wing Philanthropy at Universities

This month, David Austin Walsh at the Urban Institute published a report called “Conservative Philanthropy in Higher Education” purporting to chart the power of right-wing philanthropy in academia.

What does it do analytically to be worthy of the Urban Institute imprimatur? It names the achievements of some scholars who received support from foundations with free market or small government goals. This includes the Walgreen Foundation at the University of Chicago which gave aid to Richard Posner, who went on to become a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and “the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, and John McGee, a law and economics scholar whose work on predatory pricing was cited in a 1986 Supreme Court case that Walsh thinks helps undercut antitrust law.

Walsh also gives a quick history of the defunct Olin Foundation’s funding of law and economics programs (to duel with the more left-leaning “critical legal studies”) and various Koch-funded foundations’ support of free market economists at George Mason University.

The section on the Federalist Society concludes with the giveaway that “If placing conservative faculty at top law schools has not totally transformed those institutions into conservative spaces, it has nevertheless normalized right-wing politics in the academy to an extent conservatives could have barely imagined in the 1960s.”

The phenomenon that disturbs Walsh, that he thinks will disturb his readers, is the presence of any ideas in academia at all other than leftist or big government ones.

Now, it would make sense for people trying to valorize such foundations to blithely credit anything that happened with any free market thinker, scholar, or apparatchik to the money they received from such foundations. But to implicitly presume that none of their achievements would have happened without such money is to fall back on a frequently unstated background presumption of non-free market oriented institutions and thinkers: that belief in strong government action and mistrust of free markets is natural and normal and correct.

And if you think that, than any idea or scholar outside that consensus is a strange aberration, requiring some sort of interesting explanation (other than that some smart people studying the world could possibly conclude that free market ideas are correct), and couldn’t be expected to occur without ill-meaning plutocratic manipulators. It seems unlikely on its face, though, that scholars with the power and reach of Posner or Becker only got anywhere in intellectual culture because of right-wing paymasters.

What the study certainly can’t do to defend its value is pretend that, outside the few case studies it mentions, free market money has succeeded in changing the overall ideological bent of the modern university.

Phil Magness over at the American Institute for Economic Research notes that academia, in most significant senses, is still powerfully opposed to the free market-ish trends Walsh notes; indeed, without this background fact about American intellectual life, Walsh’s paper wouldn’t have a reason for existing, his scraping at what he sees as a dangerous infection of right-wingery in an otherwise healthily left body.

Magness writes that Walsh “offers no empirical control (such as the parallel rise of left-leaning philanthropy on campus)” and “is either unaware of or ignores a vast empirical literature on the subject of political ideology in the academy.”

As Magness “documented previously, survey data point to a sharp and overwhelming leftward shift in faculty political self-identification starting around the year 2000 and persisting to the present day” with “self-identified liberals…a clear 60 percent majority in the last two decades.

“Conservative faculty, by contrast, dwindled away from one-third of the faculty as recently as 1984 to just 12 percent today,” he notes. In fact, there was an “explosion in the number of faculty who identify on the far left — a category that includes Marxists, socialists, and adherents of derivative ideological positions such as critical theory.”

“If conservatives currently comprise 12 percent of the approximately 813,000 full-time college professors in the United States,” Magness writes, “their actual number across all disciplines is likely fewer than 100,000 individuals — a decline of about 35,000 faculty since 1975, even though the total number of people employed as college professors essentially doubled in this same period.”

Textbook analysis and survey data on partisan affiliation and ideological positions Magness presents, both overall and in special areas like economics and law where Walsh thinks free market money has upset the apple cart, buttress the point that academia is still strongly left-leaning.

Trying to assess the balance of academic political orientation by looking only at free market or right-leaning foundation money ignores a lot, Magness notes, including that:

Academia is awash with left-leaning faculty, research centers, and even entire degree programs dedicated to overtly political and activist causes — to the advancement of “social justice,” to critiques of “capitalism” arising from humanities professors with little to no economic training, to labor-union organizing, to an assortment of environmentalist political causes. Many of these institutions enjoy generous philanthropic contributions by billionaire donors and foundations on the political left that match or exceed similar conservative giving. Many academics on the political left even valorize and champion their own political activism, portraying it as a necessary complement to their scholarly research and even insisting that it should count toward promotion and tenure.

The perspective that Walsh writes from (and expects his readers to read from) is that anything outside that leftist perspective is suspicious and requires some special explanation outside of the simplest explanation—that free market ideas, to some people, seem to explain the world well, and that applying such ideas can make the world richer and more efficient. Walsh’s baseline presumption is that, in a world not corrupted by big money, such ideas would appear nowhere and convince no one. The bias underlying that presumption requires no examination of big-money funders to grasp.

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Survey: Americans Have Remarkably Ignorant Attitude Toward Nukes And North Korea

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Half of the responders to an innovative new survey of 3,000 Americansconducted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the British research firm YouGov reported that they would support a nuclear strike against North Korea if it tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

A third said they’d actually prefer such a strike over other hypothetical responses. “For example, while ‘only’ 33 percent of the US public prefer a US preventive nuclear strike that would kill 15,000 North Koreans, 50 percent approve,” the report reads.

The study found little change in preference for a preemptive nuclear strike whether the hypothetical scenario offered to respondents entailed the death of 15,000 North Korean civilians or one million. Preferences for a preemptive strike only dropped when the hypothetical scenario reduced the probability of success (meaning elimination of North Korea’s nuclear retaliatory capabilities) was reduced from ninety to fifty percent.

The survey found a large knowledge deficit in responders regarding nuclear weapons, with a majority reporting an unrealistic amount of confidence in both the US military’s ability to eliminate all of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in a preemptive strike and in its ability to shoot down North Korean missiles using current missile defense systems. This inaccurate perspective was significantly higher among Trump supporters.

While the study found that a majority of Americans would prefer to de-escalate against North Korea if given the choice, a jarring number of them would be willing to use nuclear weapons at the drop of a hat, and believe it’s possible to do so at relatively little risk to Americans.

“As we have previously found, the US public exhibits only limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians,” write the report’s authors.

And really, why would we expect anything else? After all, Americans are taught the lie since they are children that their nation, the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, did so with the goal of bringing a quick and painless end to a horrible world war. Like so much else, this ultimately boils down to the effects of propaganda.

“Most Americans have been taught that using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified because the bombings ended the war in the Pacific, thereby averting a costly U.S. invasion of Japan,” reads an excellent 2016 LA Times article on this subject by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznik. “This erroneous contention finds its way into high school history texts still today.”

In reality, the sole purpose of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was not to end the war, but to show the rest of the world in general and the Soviets in particular that the United States had both the capability and the savagery to wipe out any city in the world with a single bomb. The war, in fact, had already been won, and the Japanese were already on the brink of surrender as the fearsome Soviet forces entered into the war in the Pacific. The narrative that the use of nuclear bombs was a tragic but necessary means to end World War II is a lie that the US has used its cultural hegemony to circulate around the world, much like the lie that America was mostly responsible for Germany’s defeat and not the USSR.

I always get a lot of pushback from Americans when I point to this, not because I don’t have facts on my side but because it’s so glaringly different from the dominant narratives that Americans are spoon fed in school. If you don’t believe me, read the aforementioned LA Times article titled “Bombing Hiroshima changed the world, but it didn’t end WWII”, or this article from The Nation, or this one from Mises Institute.

Seriously, read the articles if this is upsetting you. This is an established fact to which contemporary generals at the time have attested. The uncomfortable feeling you’re experiencing upon reading this is called cognitive dissonance. It’s what learning you’ve been lied to your whole life feels like.

This report on the American public’s widespread ignorance of and indifference to the consequences of nuclear weapons use comes shortly after the US Joint Chiefs of Staff briefly published and then removed from public access an update on their position on the use of nukes which contains the alarming line, “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

So the people responsible for forming America’s nuclear strategies believe using nuclear weapons is not just acceptable, but potentially beneficial. The mass media have been completely ignoring this horrifying revelation, and the public are too awash in disinformation to do anything about it themselves.

Anyone who believes it’s acceptable to use nuclear weapons for any other reason than retaliation against another nuclear attack shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery, much less participate in the formation of nuclear strategy for the most powerful military force in the history of civilization. The correct response to North Korea having nuclear retaliatory capabilities is the same as the response to any other nuclear power: leave them alone. The narrative that North Korea’s leadership is likely to launch an unprovoked attack is exactly as baseless and moronic as the narratives about Iraq or Iran launching an unprovoked attack. It’s not a thing.

As tensions continue to escalate between nuclear powers around the world while the faltering US empire becomes increasingly desperate to maintain its global hegemony, human extinction via nuclear annihilation is just as real a possibility as it was at the height of the last Cold War.

But it isn’t just the use of nuclear weapons which threatens us. Their very existence warps us as a species. Arundhati Roy writes the following in her book The Algebra of Infinite Justice:

“It is such supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they are used. The fact that they exist at all, their very presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behaviour. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meathooks deep in the base of our brains… The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made. Through it, man now has the power to destroy God’s creation.”

This needs to change. And it won’t be changed by those in power who benefit from the status quo. Humanity itself must awaken from the propaganda cages which have been built around our minds so that the people can use the power of their numbers to force a change. The time to wake up is now.

*  *  *

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Gorsuch and Alito Fight Over Criminal Sentencing and the Right to Trial by Jury

Today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of federal law that permitted judges, acting without a jury, to impose criminal sentences in certain contexts. According to the opinion of Justice Neil Gorsuch, that provision violated the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. “Only a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person’s liberty,” Gorsuch declared in United States v. Haymond. “Yet in this case a congressional statute compelled a federal judge to send a man to prison for a minimum of five years without empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Writing in dissent, Justice Samuel Alito attacked Gorsuch for writing an opinion that “is not based on the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment, is irreconcilable with precedent, and sports rhetoric with potentially revolutionary implications.”

The case centers on a man named Andre Haymond, who had served a prison sentence for possessing child pornography and was out on supervised release. When additional images of child pornography were discovered on his electronic devices, the federal judge in his case sentenced him back to prison for a mandatory minimum of five years. As the Court explained today in its ruling, under the federal law at issue, “if a judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant on supervised release committed one of several enumerated offenses, including the possession of child pornography, the judge must impose an additional prison term of at least five years and up to life without regard to the length of the prison term authorized for the defendant’s initial crime of conviction.”

Haymond challenged the judge’s sentencing on the grounds that it violated his rights under the Sixth Amendment. Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, with Justice Stephen Breyer concurring in the judgment, voted today in favor of Haymond.

“The Constitution seeks to safeguard the people’s control over the business of judicial punishments by ensuring that any accusation triggering a new and additional punishment is proven to the satisfaction of a jury beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gorsuch wrote. “By contrast, the view the government and dissent espouse would demote the jury from its historic role as ‘circuitbreaker in the State’s machinery of justice’ to ‘low-level gatekeeping.” Gorsuch made it clear that he would have no part of that.

As for the dissenters, they accused Gorsuch of seeking to obliterate a key part of the modern criminal justice system in the name of protecting the rights of criminal defendants. According to the dissent of Justice Alito, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, “the intimation” of Gorsuch’s view is that “all supervised-release revocation proceedings must be conducted in compliance with the Sixth Amendment—which means that the defendant is entitled to a jury trial, which means that as a practical matter supervised-release revocation proceedings cannot be held.”

This is not the first time that Gorsuch has clashed with Alito in a criminal justice case. It is not even the first time this week that the two have stood on opposite sides of a criminal justice dispute. Just two days ago, in fact, Gorsuch, again joined by the Court’s Democratic appointees, ruled for a criminal defendant over a strongly worded dissent filed by Kavanaugh, which was joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito.

The next time you hear somebody talking about the Supreme Court’s “conservative bloc” marching in intellectual lockstep, point them in the direction of these cases.

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Iran Says US Drone Came Down Full 4 Miles Inside Its Territory

On Wednesday Iran’s military came forward with a new, detailed claim of the US drone’s location it shot down last Thursday, which nearly resulted in a major American attack on the country.

The head of the Iranian Armed Forces’ Geographical Organization, Brig. Gen. Majid Fakhri, was cited as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency that the drone wreckage was found four miles inside Iran’s territorial waters.

“After the shooting down of the drone, initial actions were taken and its location was identified,” Gen. Fakhri said, and added, “The drone was definitely in the waters of Iran as reports show that it was four miles or more than seven kilometers inside the Iranian territorial waters.”



RQ-4A Global Hawk file photo. Image source: Wiki Commonas

From the start the US has insisted the nearly quarter-billion dollar RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV was in international airspace, and as a joint Stars and Stripes-Bloomberg report notes, some of the basic facts are still being disputed, especially the drone’s flight path.

According to the Iranian military’s latest account of the events:

The IRGC said on Thursday that a US spy drone that violated the Iranian territorial airspace in the early hours of the day was shot down by the IRGC Aerospace Force’s air defense unit near the Kooh-e-Mobarak region in the southern province of Hormozgan.

The intruding drone was reportedly shot by Iran’s homegrown air defense missile system “Khordad-3rd”.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had said from the start it was responding to a violation of Iranian airspace, which it called a “red line”. 

IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami had stated in the immediate aftermath of the drone downing that the act carried an “explicit, decisive and clear message that defenders of the Islamic Iran’s borders will show decisive and knockout reactions to aggression against this territory by any alien,” according to Tasnim.

“Borders are our redline, and any enemy violating these borders will not go back,” the elite IRGC chief underscored.

Meanwhile, Russia has given official backing to Iran’s version of events, as Bloomberg reports, and lashed out at the White House’s sanctioning of Iran’s Supreme Leader. 

“There is a very narrow window left because this is an absolutely insulting step for intergovernmental relations. But hope dies last,” a top Russian Foreign Ministry official in Moscow, Zamir Kabulov told reporters of Washington’s new sanctions on Khamenei.

“Iran will never be alone if, God forbid, the U.S. ever takes absolutely crazy and irresponsible actions against it,” he said. “Not only Russia, but many countries sympathize with Iran.”

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Gorsuch and Alito Fight Over Criminal Sentencing and the Right to Trial by Jury

Today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of federal law that permitted judges, acting without a jury, to impose criminal sentences in certain contexts. According to the opinion of Justice Neil Gorsuch, that provision violated the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. “Only a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person’s liberty,” Gorsuch declared in United States v. Haymond. “Yet in this case a congressional statute compelled a federal judge to send a man to prison for a minimum of five years without empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Writing in dissent, Justice Samuel Alito attacked Gorsuch for writing an opinion that “is not based on the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment, is irreconcilable with precedent, and sports rhetoric with potentially revolutionary implications.”

The case centers on a man named Andre Haymond, who had served a prison sentence for possessing child pornography and was out on supervised release. When additional images of child pornography were discovered on his electronic devices, the federal judge in his case sentenced him back to prison for a mandatory minimum of five years. As the Court explained today in its ruling, under the federal law at issue, “if a judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant on supervised release committed one of several enumerated offenses, including the possession of child pornography, the judge must impose an additional prison term of at least five years and up to life without regard to the length of the prison term authorized for the defendant’s initial crime of conviction.”

Haymond challenged the judge’s sentencing on the grounds that it violated his rights under the Sixth Amendment. Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, with Justice Stephen Breyer concurring in the judgment, voted today in favor of Haymond.

“The Constitution seeks to safeguard the people’s control over the business of judicial punishments by ensuring that any accusation triggering a new and additional punishment is proven to the satisfaction of a jury beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gorsuch wrote. “By contrast, the view the government and dissent espouse would demote the jury from its historic role as ‘circuitbreaker in the State’s machinery of justice’ to ‘low-level gatekeeping.” Gorsuch made it clear that he would have no part of that.

As for the dissenters, they accused Gorsuch of seeking to obliterate a key part of the modern criminal justice system in the name of protecting the rights of criminal defendants. According to the dissent of Justice Alito, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, “the intimation” of Gorsuch’s view is that “all supervised-release revocation proceedings must be conducted in compliance with the Sixth Amendment—which means that the defendant is entitled to a jury trial, which means that as a practical matter supervised-release revocation proceedings cannot be held.”

This is not the first time that Gorsuch has clashed with Alito in a criminal justice case. It is not even the first time this week that the two have stood on opposite sides of a criminal justice dispute. Just two days ago, in fact, Gorsuch, again joined by the Court’s Democratic appointees, ruled for a criminal defendant over a strongly worded dissent filed by Kavanaugh, which was joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito.

The next time you hear somebody talking about the Supreme Court’s “conservative bloc” marching in intellectual lockstep, point them in the direction of these cases.

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Minnesota Supreme Court Holds That Nonmedia Speakers Are Fully Protected by First Amendment

From today’s Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Maethner v. Someplace Safe, Inc.:

[In Richie v. Paramount Pictures Corp.,] we described Supreme Court precedent [especially Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.] as holding that “in a private plaintiff defamation action against a media defendant speaking on a matter of public concern, states may not constitutionally ‘permit recovery of presumed … damages, at least when liability is not based on a showing of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.'” … According to the court [below], “Richie is inapposite …” … [to cases involving] statements made by a private individual and “a non-profit organization that was soliciting donations.” …

[We conclude that] the proper focus regarding the availability of presumed damages is not on the status of the defendant as a media or nonmedia defendant. Rather, the dispositive inquiry is whether the matter at issue is one of public concern. The fact that the defendant is a member of the media may be relevant to determining whether a matter is one of public concern, but it is not, as the court of appeals suggested, the dispositive inquiry.

Although we did reference “the media” in announcing the legal rule in Richie for defamation actions that involve a matter of public concern, neither the Supreme Court nor our court makes a media/nonmedia distinction in defamation cases brought by public officials or public figures. The rule should not be different when the plaintiff is a private individual but the matter nonetheless raises an issue of public concern.

[Footnote:] [In a 1980] case involving a private individual who brought an action against his prior employer for making defamatory statements about his work record—we stated that “we believe that Gertz … applies only to media defendants.” Stuempges v. Parke, Davis & Co.… “[F]ive members of the [U.S. Supreme] Court expressly rejected a distinction between media and nonmedia defendants” in Dun & Bradstreet v. Greenmoss Builders. In a subsequent private plaintiff defamation case, however, the Supreme Court specifically declined to decide whether suing a nonmedia defendant makes a difference. Phila. Newspapers, Inc. v. Hepps (1986). But cf. Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n (2010) (declining to draw “constitutional lines based on the particular media or technology used to disseminate political speech from a particular speaker”)….

Although we have clarified that the media- versus nonmedia-defendant distinction is not in and of itself determinative as to whether a private defamation plaintiff must establish actual harm to reputation in Minnesota, the distinction may have relevance in analyzing whether the challenged statements involve a matter of public concern. For example, the Supreme Court has explained that “[s]peech deals with matters of public concern” when the speech relates to “‘a subject of legitimate news interest.'” Cf. Bowman v. Pulaski Cty. Special Sch. Dist. (8th Cir. 1983) (stating that “media coverage” is “a good indication of the public’s interest”)….

Sounds largely right to me, and indeed we so argued in an amicus brief that we filed in this case (both urging the Minnesota Supreme Court to hear the case, and later in urging it to reverse the decision below). Many thanks to our local counsel John Arechigo (Arechigo & Stokka, P.A.), my student Jason Lawler, who worked on the brief, and my cosignatories on the brief: Minnesota (or former Minnesota) law professors Dale Carpenter, Raleigh Hannah Levine,  Michael Stokes Paulsen, and Gregory C. Sisk; prominent bloggers Howard J. Bashman (How Appealing), Scott W. Johnson (Powerline), Glenn Harlan Reynolds (InstaPundit); Scotusblog Delaware, Inc. (the corporation that publishes Scotusblog); and Daniel Epps and Ian Samuel, who at the time did the First Mondays podcast about the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you’re interested in whether the First Amendment has been historically understood as securing special rights for the institutional press, you can read my 2012 University of Pennsylvania Law Review article on the subject, which concludes that the Amendment does not secure such special rights. As best I can tell, only a small handful of states take a contrary view. If you are litigating a case in which you’re challenging a state law rule that denies various First Amendment protections (such as those offered by Gertz) to non-professional-media speakers, please let me know; I might be able to file an amicus brief on the question.

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s opinion also deals with another interesting issue; I hope to blog more about that later today.

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Minnesota Supreme Court Holds That Nonmedia Speakers Are Fully Protected by First Amendment

From today’s Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Maethner v. Someplace Safe, Inc.:

[In Richie v. Paramount Pictures Corp.,] we described Supreme Court precedent [especially Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.] as holding that “in a private plaintiff defamation action against a media defendant speaking on a matter of public concern, states may not constitutionally ‘permit recovery of presumed … damages, at least when liability is not based on a showing of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.'” … According to the court [below], “Richie is inapposite …” … [to cases involving] statements made by a private individual and “a non-profit organization that was soliciting donations.” …

[We conclude that] the proper focus regarding the availability of presumed damages is not on the status of the defendant as a media or nonmedia defendant. Rather, the dispositive inquiry is whether the matter at issue is one of public concern. The fact that the defendant is a member of the media may be relevant to determining whether a matter is one of public concern, but it is not, as the court of appeals suggested, the dispositive inquiry.

Although we did reference “the media” in announcing the legal rule in Richie for defamation actions that involve a matter of public concern, neither the Supreme Court nor our court makes a media/nonmedia distinction in defamation cases brought by public officials or public figures. The rule should not be different when the plaintiff is a private individual but the matter nonetheless raises an issue of public concern.

[Footnote:] [In a 1980] case involving a private individual who brought an action against his prior employer for making defamatory statements about his work record—we stated that “we believe that Gertz … applies only to media defendants.” Stuempges v. Parke, Davis & Co.… “[F]ive members of the [U.S. Supreme] Court expressly rejected a distinction between media and nonmedia defendants” in Dun & Bradstreet v. Greenmoss Builders. In a subsequent private plaintiff defamation case, however, the Supreme Court specifically declined to decide whether suing a nonmedia defendant makes a difference. Phila. Newspapers, Inc. v. Hepps (1986). But cf. Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n (2010) (declining to draw “constitutional lines based on the particular media or technology used to disseminate political speech from a particular speaker”)….

Although we have clarified that the media- versus nonmedia-defendant distinction is not in and of itself determinative as to whether a private defamation plaintiff must establish actual harm to reputation in Minnesota, the distinction may have relevance in analyzing whether the challenged statements involve a matter of public concern. For example, the Supreme Court has explained that “[s]peech deals with matters of public concern” when the speech relates to “‘a subject of legitimate news interest.'” Cf. Bowman v. Pulaski Cty. Special Sch. Dist. (8th Cir. 1983) (stating that “media coverage” is “a good indication of the public’s interest”)….

Sounds largely right to me, and indeed we so argued in an amicus brief that we filed in this case (both urging the Minnesota Supreme Court to hear the case, and later in urging it to reverse the decision below). Many thanks to our local counsel John Arechigo (Arechigo & Stokka, P.A.), my student Jason Lawler, who worked on the brief, and my cosignatories on the brief: Minnesota (or former Minnesota) law professors Dale Carpenter, Raleigh Hannah Levine,  Michael Stokes Paulsen, and Gregory C. Sisk; prominent bloggers Howard J. Bashman (How Appealing), Scott W. Johnson (Powerline), Glenn Harlan Reynolds (InstaPundit); Scotusblog Delaware, Inc. (the corporation that publishes Scotusblog); and Daniel Epps and Ian Samuel, who at the time did the First Mondays podcast about the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you’re interested in whether the First Amendment has been historically understood as securing special rights for the institutional press, you can read my 2012 University of Pennsylvania Law Review article on the subject, which concludes that the Amendment does not secure such special rights. As best I can tell, only a small handful of states take a contrary view. If you are litigating a case in which you’re challenging a state law rule that denies various First Amendment protections (such as those offered by Gertz) to non-professional-media speakers, please let me know; I might be able to file an amicus brief on the question.

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s opinion also deals with another interesting issue; I hope to blog more about that later today.

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“Our Dollars Have Been Stolen” – Money Is Not Safe In Zimbabwe

Amid its chaotic moves yesterday to ban the use of foreign currencies (USDollar and South African Rand primarily) and the reintroduction of a ‘ZimDollar’, Zimbabwean officials buried the lead a little..

President’s Mnangagwa full statement (released on his official Twitter account) about the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean Dollar:

It has always been clear that for our economy to truly take off, we need our own currency. While the multicurrency regime helped to stabilise the economy, it did not give us control of monetary policy and left us at the mercy of US Dollar pricing which has been a root cause of inflation.

When the majority earn in the local currency, but goods are priced in US dollars, the outcome will only ever be a two tiered economy: Stable and affordable prices for those with access to dollars, while the majority face an unrealistically high cost of living. This is unfair and unsustainable.

Before we could have our own currency, it was however important that key fundamentals were first put in place. Central to this was regaining control of our budget, through decreased spending, increased revenues and, for the first time in recent memory, budget surpluses. Under the careful guidance of Professor Ncube, this has been achieved.

As a result, yesterday we passed a Statutory Instrument to abolish the use of multiple currencies, and make the Zimbabwe dollar the sole legal tender with immediate effect. This is a key component of our transitional stabilisation programme, and an important step in restoring normalcy to our economy.

Government and the RBZ are taking the necessary steps to ensure this move is a success, through increasing the flow of forex into the interbank market while also making forex available to individuals and small businesses through bureau de changes.

On a day to day basis, this will change very little. People will still be paid in RTGS dollar and bond notes, and goods and services will be priced in the same currency. Those holding Nostro accounts will still have access to those accounts in the currency they held.

The only way forward is to reform so that we build a country in which all have the opportunity to prosper. We cannot be fearful of change, but must boldly embrace it as we move forward. The conditions are in place for Zimbabwe to have its own currency. Let us all work together, as one people, to make it a success.

But quietly alongside this, The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has issued a directive banning cash withdrawals from all Foreign Currency (FCA) Nostro Accounts following the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019, which reintroduced the local Zimbabwe Dollar and scrapped the multi-currency regime. Nostros/FCA holders will have to liquidate their balances to be usable in Zimbabwe.

As Pindula News notes, what this essentially means is that if one earns USD, deposited into their Nostro account, they can’t draw the cash but will have to get it in Zim Dollar using that day’s interbank rate.

The ZimDollar (black-market RTGS$ rate) has been falling into the news and accelerated beyond…

And Zimbabweans are fuming.

As TechZim’s Tinashe Nyahasha writes, I never bought into the whole FCA nostro nonsense. This is one of the times however, that I hate to be proved right. The directive sent to banks by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe today the 25th of June 2019 is your confirmation that you should never trust what the Zimbabwean government, the central bank and your bank manager tell you.

Liar liar

Does anyone remember how the minister of finance, Mthuli Ncube and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, John Mangudya promised that money in your FCA Nostro account was safe and would not be touched? They lied.

Here is what the RBZ is now saying about your FCA account:

Funds in all these accounts listed in Table 1 above will retain their foreign currency status and shall continue to be utilised for the settlement of international transactions. In cases where the holder of such an account intends to settle domestic transactions, they shall be required to liquidate their foreign currency account balances to the interbank on a willing seller willing buyer basis.

These are the people that go around the world trying to convince investors that their money is safe in Zimbabwe. What’s disappointing is that these guys did not just decide to raid our wallets like this, they knew right at the time that they were making these promises that the end game was to take your money.

Signals to this effect were all over the show. I even wrote then that you were better off keeping your money under the mattress, the nostro FCA’s were just bad news.

Not the first time

This whole thing happened to us less than three years ago when the Bond Note was introduced. The promise then was that you could always get your US Dollars on demand if you didn’t want to be given Bond Notes at the bank.

Before we knew it, we could never get US Dollars. If we wanted to withdraw that currency we had to deposit into all kinds of prepaid cards. Hey but we had deposited USD in the regular accounts at the beginning?

Beware of the current lie

Right now this is the current lie being told by the powers that be to finish you off and commit you into poverty:

In order to encourage and facilitate the flow of foreign currency, diaspora remittances shall continue to be received in foreign currency. The recipients shall have the option to receive remittances in cash or sell their remittances on a willing seller willing buyer basis to Bureaux de Change and Authorised Dealers or deposit into Individual Nostro FCA.

Very soon, money sent to you by your relatives who have braved the big bad diaspora will be snatched too. They will say the only option open to you is to get a Zim Dollar equivalence of your money. We all know that the interbank rate is not the true equivalence of your money.

*  *  *

We reiterate our suggestion from yesterday – get long wheelbarrows…

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2X9RGUP Tyler Durden

Keep Expectations Low for Mueller’s July Congressional Testimony

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has made it clear that he has said all he wants to about the results of his office’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Nevertheless, he will be appearing before a House committee hearing on July 17 to answer questions.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D–N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D–Calif.) sent Mueller a subpoena to get him to appear in a public hearing. They stated in a joint press release yesterday afternoon, “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”

There is very, very little likelihood that anything new will come out of this hearing, though it will certainly capture the nation’s attention. Not only has Mueller’s report been released (minus redactions), he went through the effort to publicly come forward in May and give a statement summarizing the report for those who didn’t read it, to essentially beg Americans to read the report, and to say he’d prefer to let the report speak for itself and be allowed to ride off into the sunset.

That, unsurprisingly, is not to be. Expect a lot of grandstanding from politicians looking to score points for Team Blue or Team Red because, as things currently stand, the impeachment of President Trump seems to be off the table.

Some predictions:

  • Democratic candidates will be asked about the report and whether Trump should face impeachment in tonight’s and tomorrow night’s debates.
  • Republicans in the hearing will play up Mueller’s finding that they determined no cooperation between anybody on Trump’s campaign staff and Russian officials’ attempts to mess with the election or their successful hacking of Democratic campaign officials. Mueller will attempt to remind lawmakers again that they found a lot of evidence of Russians trying to meddle and that they will certainly try to meddle in the 2020 election and maybe Congress should focus on that.
  • Democrats will try to trick Mueller to state that he believes that Trump did engage in obstruction of justice in his attempts to shut down the investigation. Mueller explained in his report that he did not make a recommendation one way or another about obstruction because he and his office accepted the argument that the president cannot be charged with crimes while in office. Because he doesn’t believe the president could be charged, he said it would be inappropriate to make any recommendation, because there would be no mechanism to charge Trump and also no mechanism for Trump to defend himself from such charges. Mueller also said that if he believed Trump was innocent of any accusations of obstruction, he would say so. He did not, and he has pointed out that he did not. This has caused many people to conclude that Mueller would have likely recommended obstruction charges against Trump were Trump not the president. Democrats are going to try like heck to get him to say this. I predict he will not.
  • This issue will crowd out other policy debates (even our ever-growing immigration nightmare) all the way through the 2020 election. Though nothing seems likely to actually happen prior to the election, the investigation of Trump will be seen as a massive “get out the vote” tool for both sides.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2FzYyjp
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Team USA’s Megan Rapinoe: “I’m Not Going To The F*cking White House” If USA Wins World Cup

As the women’s World Cup continues and Team USA looks to have a legitimate shot of being a championship contender, questions about a possible White House visit have started to bubble up. And team co-captain Megan Rapinoe has made it clear what her plans would be if Team USA wins the World Cup. 

“I’m not going to the f*cking White House,” 33-year-old Rapinoe said in a recent interview highlighted by TMZ.

She continued: “We’re not going to be invited.”

Rapinoe and her teammates have been outspoken in their disapproval of the President in the past. 

She continued, saying: “[Trump] tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline. Or, like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place. I don’t know everyone’s voting patterns on our team, but I would hope no one voted for him.”

She was the first white pro athlete in the U.S. to take a knee during the national anthem, following in Colin Kaepernick’s lead.  While she no longer takes a knee, Rapinoe “doesn’t put her hand over her heart or sing along with the lyrics anymore.” 

Trump responded to Rapinoe on Wednesday in a series of Tweets, saying “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!”


On Monday, President Trump had said that he didn’t think it was “appropriate” for Rapinoe to have protested during the national anthem. 

Trump said during the same interview: “I love watching women’s soccer. They’re really talented.”

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/31WHc9V Tyler Durden