Actions Leak Louder Than Words
July 15, 2022
Some Good News
- This 8-year-old lost her mom to brain cancer – then only got one RSVP to her birthday party. So, strangers helped her celebrate (CBS)
- Child of refugees becomes Germany’s first black female cabinet minister (Guardian)
For those of you who get our exclusive Sunday edition of Daily Pnut, please note we will be skipping this week’s edition. If you’d like to receive the Sunday edition of Daily Pnut, you can refer three friends.
“My guiding principles in life are to be honest, genuine, thoughtful, and caring.” – Prince William
Speak Your Mind?
One of the latest federal lawsuits to take up the thorny issue of free speech on college campuses was filed on behalf of University of Washington computer science professor Stuart Reges, who claims he was punished for expressing a dissenting opinion from the school’s “land acknowledgment” policy. The policy began in 2020 when UW administrators suggested that faculty add a statement on their course syllabi recognizing that the land on which the University sits was once owned by indigenous people. Many universities, including Brown, Emory, and UConn, have adopted such land acknowledgments to recognize the prior presence of indigenous people and their violent removal centuries ago from the land on which the campuses now stand.
Reges chose to post near the top of his syllabus for an introductory course over the winter: “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.” Reges was referring to 17th-century philosopher John Locke’s theory that those who improve upon land own it, and because the indigenous peoples didn’t improve the land under the university’s campus, they had no ownership claim.
One defendant, a school administrator, emailed Reges saying the statement was “offensive” and created a “toxic environment,” then erased it from his online syllabus. The administrator also opened alternative class sections competing with Reges’ course schedule, and allegedly told him in April that the school would convene a disciplinary committee to determine his punishment for violating the school’s speech policy, which could include dismissal, a pay cut, or a suspension. Reges has taught at the school since 2004 but he isn’t tenured, and his lawyers say “This specter of termination has a chilling effect on faculty speech.”
Conservatives blame liberals for killing free speech with their political correctness. While it’s certainly true that many liberals have grown increasingly intolerant toward the uses and abuses of language, progressives argue it’s hard to see how the left is killing free speech merely by paying too much attention to it. Even so, dissenting faculty members aren’t hesitating to sue over policies they believe infringe on their First Amendment rights, and often, courts are agreeing with them. (AAUP, WSJ ($), Law & Crime, The Fire, New Yorker, WaPo ($))
Footing The Bill(ions)
- A district court in Japan has ordered former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to pay over $93.6 billion dollars in damages for failing to prevent a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. The court’s decision centered on whether TEPCO’s senior management could have predicted a serious nuclear accident striking the facility after a powerful tsunami.
- Three of the six reactors at the Fukushima plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo, suffered meltdowns after the tsunami hit, flooding the backup generators. The tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake and killed over 18,000 people.
- The nuclear disaster, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, caused massive radiation leaks and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people. Four defendants, including TEPCO’s president at the time, were ordered to pay the sum, while a fifth was found not liable for damages. (Guardian)
A Resign Of The Times
- It’s a scenario reminiscent of a judge ordering a hung jury to go back and deliberate some more. Italian Premier Mario Draghi offered his resignation Thursday after a populist partner refused to vote for a key bill in parliament.
- But Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella refused to accept the tendered resignation and told Draghi to stay put and continue working for more support. For 17 months, Draghi has been at the helm of a broad coalition government that includes parties from the right, the left, the center, and the populist 5-Star Movement, which had refused to back the bill.
- The survival of Draghi’s National Unity Coalition has been sorely tested by increasingly sharp schisms, and the snub by one of the coalition members did damage. Shortly before offering his resignation, Draghi said, “The majority of national unity that has sustained this government from its creation doesn’t exist anymore.” (AP)
Additional World News
- Mass grave, remains of 8000 Nazi war victims found in Poland (Al Jazeera)
- Owner of South African bar where 21 teens died is arrested, police say (NBC)
- Hungary declares ‘energy emergency’ over threat of fuel shortages (Al Jazeera)
- Biden stops short of saying he will raise Khashoggi murder in Saudi Arabia(CNN)
- With the world in ‘turmoil’, a new ‘Quad’ comes into place (Al Jazeera)
- Japan warns of COVID surge, Tokyo raises alert level (Reuters)
- Rishi Sunak tops first round of voting in UK leadership contest (Reuters)
Ivana Trump Dies At 73
- Ivana Trump, 73, the first wife of former President Trump and mother of his three oldest children — Don, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — was found dead Thursday in her New York City townhouse on the Upper East Side. Police said her death appeared to be accidental, and they were investigating whether she had fallen down the stairs in her home.
- Ivana was a model from the Czech Republic living in New York City when she met Trump at a club in 1976. They married the next year and soon she began playing a critical part in building his real estate empire. The two led a high-profile lifestyle that established them as one of the quintessential New York power couples of the 1980s.
- Ivana filed for divorce in 1990, partly due to her husband’s affair with Marla Maples, whom he later married after she became pregnant with his daughter, Tiffany. Ivana and Donald’s divorce was finalized in 1992, after which she became known for her own lines of fashion jewelry, clothing, and beauty products. In 2017, during the first year of her ex-husband’s presidency, she published a book titled Raising Trump. (NYT ($), CBS News)
Actions Leak Louder Than Words
- Former CIA employee Joshua Schulte, who was charged with carrying out the largest leak of classified data in the agency’s history, was convicted on all counts Wednesday in federal court. Schulte had worked as a computer engineer within the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, and created cyber tools that could grab data undetected from computers.
- Schulte’s issues at the CIA began in the summer of 2015. He became enraged when CIA officials wanted to hire a contractor to build a cyber tool similar to one he was building, and began feuding with management and a coworker.
- A year later, Schulte stole cyber tools and source code and transferred them to WikiLeaks. Ironically, Schulte had called for the execution of previous CIA leaker Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army private who passed a trove of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. (CNN, New Yorker, WaPo($))
Additional USA News
- Pharmacies can’t discriminate on reproductive health scripts (AP)
- WNBA star Brittney Griner back in Russian court after last week’s guilty plea (NBC)
- Trump will make first return to Washington since leaving office (CNN)
- How Tuesday’s storms unleashed violent winds in Maryland and Virginia (WaPo, $)
- About 40 people unaccounted for due to flooding after severe storm hits Virginia (ABC)
- Officer, once beaten by colleagues, to lead Boston police (ABC)
- House passes bipartisan bill to create active shooter alert system (NBC)
An Undercover Operation
- A hidden self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh has been discovered behind one of his paintings, where it had remained covered by layers of glue and cardboard for more than a century. The image was found when art conservators took an X-ray of Van Gogh’s 1885 “Head of a Peasant Woman” painting in preparation for an upcoming exhibition. The Dutch master often reused canvases to save money by turning them around to work on the reverse side.
- It isn’t the first time paintings by famous artists have been discovered beneath other works. In preparing for an auction held in January, Sotheby’s technical analysis revealed the image of a Madonna and Child buried beneath the paint layers of Botticelli’s $40 million “Man of Sorrows.” The painting had been in private hands since the 1800s and was never extensively studied. And last October, artificial intelligence, advanced imaging technology, and 3D printing were used to uncover a nude portrait of a crouching woman hidden beneath the surface of a Pablo Picasso painting.
- And Israeli curators at Haifa’s Hecht Museum just discovered three previously unknown sketches by the celebrated 20th-century Italian-born artist Amedo Modigliani hiding beneath the surface of one of his paintings. Modigliani worked in Paris before his death in 1920. The three sketches came to light after the canvas of “Nude with a Hat” was X-rayed as part of a forensic study of his work for an upcoming exhibit in Philadelphia. Modigliani is considered one of the 20th century’s great Modernists. The Jewish artist lived a short, turbulent Bohemian life in France, where his nude paintings were controversial. He died penniless at the age of 35. In 2015, his “Reclining Nude” painting brought over $170 million at auction. Another one of his paintings fetched $157 million at auction in 2018. (CNN, WaPo ($))
- Two shark attacks reported in one day off Long Island (NBC)
- Mark Fleischman, Studio 54 owner, dies by assisted suicide at 82 (WaPo, $)
- Bill Gates funnels $20 billion to foundation and plans to drop off list of wealthiest people (CNN)
- Khloé Kardashian Expecting Baby No. 2 with Tristan Thompson via Surrogate (People)
- New Zealand’s Lake Taupō supervolcano still very active, study finds (Guardian)
- This is why the pistol shrimp is immune to its own powerful shock waves (Ars Technica)
- Nearly half of Telegram’s Holocaust content contains denial, distortion (WaPo, $)
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