The View From Your Window

Dec 17 2014 @ 12:19pm

photo (6)

St. Louis, Missouri, 9.01 pm

Talking About The Law Of Rape

Dec 17 2014 @ 11:38am
by Michelle Dean

At the New Yorker, Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk writes that it’s getting harder to teach the law of rape on campus. She describes a collision course between her desire to teach the hard cases – ones where the parameters of consent may be tested – and the sensitivities of students. Her list of the particulars is sobering:

Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering.

It’s worth saying that I bet some of these organizations and students would quibble with Suk’s description of events. The last sounds particularly apocryphal, I have to say, like it’s gotten misdescribed in the re-telling to better fit a stereotype of campus politics. It’s not just sexual assault stories that tend to get molded to fit an agenda.

It’s harder to object, though, to what Suk describes as a growing fear and apprehensiveness about even broaching the subject of rape:

About a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it’s not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students. Even seasoned teachers of criminal law, at law schools across the country, have confided that they are seriously considering dropping rape law and other topics related to sex and gender violence. Both men and women teachers seem frightened of discussion, because they are afraid of injuring others or being injured themselves.

While obviously I haven’t faintest idea of what’s specifically been going on at Harvard or other American law schools, I believe that this fear is real because I’ve felt it too.

For most of this past year I took a break from writing about sexual violence. I have what I’d call both strong and considered beliefs on the subject. I’ve spent time talking to and working with victims as a law student and an attorney. I’ve also done my time as a writer in the varied and raucous (and often misrepresented) trenches of the “feminist blogosphere.” My knowledge of the subject is neither that of an amateur, nor even the surface investment of a pundit.

It’s long been apparent to me that no side of this debate is right.

Read On

Ending The Embargo?

Dec 17 2014 @ 11:15am
by Dish Staff

Cuba’s release of US citizen Alan Gross is being coupled with a thaw in US/Cuba relations. Both Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro are set to make public statements today:

Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the [senior administration officials] said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

President Obama is also set to announce a major loosening of travel and economic restrictions in what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since the 1961 embargo was imposed.

Amanda Taub runs through the basics of the US-Cuba deal. Juan Cristobal Nagel is live-blogging the news. Elliott Abrams prefers the status quo:

On human rights, liberty, individual freedom there have been no changes: Cuba remains a communist dictatorship run by the Castros.

The new Republican-led Congress has a job to do here: to ask whether the President simply forgot about the Cuban people’s rights in his urge to show he isn’t just a lame duck and can still do important things. To make sure that the United States isn’t giving this vile regime a lifeline just when the old age of the Castro brothers is bringing it closer and closer to an end. To limit the benefits to Castro unless and until there are human rights improvements in Cuba.

But Phillip Peters notes that the US political climate has been changing:

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How Good Are Jeb’s Chances?

Dec 17 2014 @ 10:53am
by Dish Staff

How Conservative

Nate Silver and his team createdideological scores for a set of plausible 2016 Republican candidates based on a combination of three statistical indices: DW-Nominate scores (which are based on a candidate’s voting record in Congress), CFscores (based on who donates to a candidate) and scores (based on public statements made by the candidate)”:

Bush scores at a 37 on this scale, similar to Romney and McCain, each of whom scored a 39. He’s much more conservative than Huntsman, who rates at a 17.

Still, Bush is more like his father, George H.W. Bush, who rates as a 33, than his brother George W. Bush, who scores a 46. And the Republican Party has moved to the right since both Poppy and Dubya were elected. The average Republican member in the 2013-14 Congress rated a 51 on this scale, more in line with potential candidates Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee.

So as a rough cut, Bush is not especially moderate by the standard of recent GOP nominees. But the gap has nevertheless widened between Bush and the rest of his party.

The odds Silver gives Jeb:

Betting markets put Bush’s chances of winning the Republican nomination at 20 percent to 25 percent, which seems as reasonable an estimate as any. You can get there by assuming there’s a 50 percent chance that he survives the “invisible primary” and the early-voting states intact and a 40 percent to 50 percent chance that he wins the nomination if he does. It’s a strategy that worked well enough for McCain and Romney.

But Larison argues that “some of the things that have previously been identified as Bush’s ‘strengths’ may no longer be advantages”:

Read On

Melting Our Work Ethic

Dec 17 2014 @ 10:22am
by Dish Staff

It’s another side-effect of global warming:

The paper, by Tatyana Deryugina of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley, shows a fairly dramatic negative influence of heat on economic productivity. In particular, they find that, for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree C) that a given day’s 24 hour average temperature exceeds 59 degrees, economic productivity declines by 1.7 percent. And for a single very hot day — warmer than 86 degrees F — per capita income goes down by $ 20.56, or 28 percent.

The paper is penned in part as a riposte to those who have long assumed that in the United States, our economy is so advanced — and we’re so insulated by things like air conditioning — that a mere hot day can’t throw off the workforce.

Teens Are Smoking Less Pot

Dec 17 2014 @ 9:49am
by Dish Staff

Teen Pot Use

Sullum relays the news:

A few months ago, I noted that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed no increase in marijuana use by teenagers after 2012, despite groundbreaking legalization measures approved by voters in Colorado and Washington that year. According to the latest results from the Monitoring the Future Study, released[yesterday], marijuana use by eighth-graders, 10th-graders, and 12th-graders fell this year, even as state-licensed pot shops opened in both of those states. It is too early to say whether diversion from adult buyers will increase cannabis consumption among teenagers in Colorado and Washington. But contrary to warnings from prohibitionists, legalization does not seem to be sending a message that encourages teenagers across the country to smoke pot.

German Lopez cautions that “experts say it’s far too early to know the full effects of legal pot sales”:

Read On

A Coal-Blooded Killer

Dec 17 2014 @ 9:02am
by Dish Staff

Brian Merchant highlights a disturbing report (pdf) on India’s coal industry, which is “expected to triple by 2030″:

Today, ambient particulate matter found in pollution is already one of India’s leading killers. According to data presented by the ​Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, outdoor air pollution kills nearly 700,000 Indians a year—the next worst killer is smoking. Of that, 80,000 to 115,000 deaths are attributed to emissions from coal plants. By 2030, the toll will have risen to 186,500 to 229,500 a year.

So, by 2030, a given five year period will mean a million dead. And by then more than 42 million will have come down with asthma. The report advocates stricter emissions standards and monitoring, which could help reduce the projected tolls.

Niebuhr On Race In America

Dec 17 2014 @ 8:13am
by Dish Staff


The evangelical ethicist David Gushee pulled down Reinhold Niebuhr’s early masterpiece, Moral Man and Immoral Society, from his shelf, re-reading it with Michael Brown and Eric Garner in mind. Some background:

Written to pierce any surviving liberal optimism as the Roaring ’20s gave way to the disastrous ’30s, Niebuhr’s primary thesis concerns the effects of sin on human society and, in particular, on human collectivities or groups. Niebuhr says that all human life is marked by sin, especially in the forms of ignorance and selfishness, but at least the individual sometimes demonstrates the potential to rise above ignorance and selfishness to reach rational analysis and unselfish concern for others. Human groups, on the other hand, are both more stupid and more selfish than individuals. They seem especially impervious either to rational or moral appeal, easily prone to self-deception and demagoguery, and apparently needful of the imposition of a power greater than their own power if they are to accede to any changes that cut against their own self-interest.

Though the book focuses on economics, Gushee highlights Niebuhr’s telling comments on race:

Read On

Chart Of The Day

Dec 17 2014 @ 8:00am
by Dish Staff


Nathan Yau captions:

Reddit user sesipikai tracked his [marriage] proposal during a trip to Italy. He happened to be wearing a heart rate belt, and you can see the rise and fall of beats per minute leading up to the question. Walk. Ask. She says yes. Bask in the happiness. Find a bench.

Full chart here.

Abe Stays On

Dec 17 2014 @ 7:33am
by Dish Staff

Michael Auslin takes a broad look at the economic implications of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent win:

[T]he question now is how far Abe will push the long-awaited structural reforms that he has promised will revitalize the economy and boost wages. There is no longer any excuse for delay, as Abe has another four years ahead of him and no significant opposition standing in his way. A failure to boldly tackle the most difficult reforms, such as in the agricultural sector or in the labor market, not to mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, will seem doubly damning given Abe’s parliamentary strength. The only reason he doesn’t charge full-steam ahead at this point would be that, deep down, he is not really committed to changing Japan, Inc. That would be a missed opportunity of historic proportions.

Bloomberg View’s editors hope that Abe follows through:

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