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Ruth King

Scandal Rocks Sweden’s Jury for Nobel Prize in Literature Swedish Academy in turmoil over fallout from ties to photographer accused of sexual assault By David Gauthier-Villars

STOCKHOLM—The Swedish Academy, the body responsible for awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature, is in crisis over its handling of a sexual-assault scandal.

The academy said late Thursday that two of its members— Sara Danius, its permanent secretary, and poet Katarina Frostenson, whose husband has been accused of sexual assault—had retired, the latest episode in a blame game that has consumed the prestigious institution for months.

The scandal broke in November when Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women accusing a 71-year-old Franco-Swedish photographer, Jean-Claude Arnault, of sexual assault and sexual harassment between 1996 and 2017.

The accusations, which Mr. Arnault denies, have ricocheted onto the institution because the photographer, a prominent figure in Sweden’s cultural life, is married to Ms. Frostenson, and because the academy has provided financial support to some of his cultural projects.

Trump’s Next Syria Challenge A single missile strike won’t stop the designs of Iran and Russia.

President Trump announced “mission accomplished” after Friday night’s missile attack on Syria, and he’s right if his goal was merely to punish Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. But if Mr. Trump also wants to deter Russian and Iranian imperialism, reduce the chances of another Mideast war and keep Syria from producing global terrorists, he needs a more ambitious strategy.

Even narrowly defined, the military strike was valuable in enforcing the longtime taboo against chemical weapons—all the more so after Barack Obama drew his famous “red line” in 2013 and failed to enforce it. Criticism of the strike from the Obama gallery that failed so utterly in Syria can’t be taken seriously.

The 105 Tomahawk and standoff air missiles, launched from three directions into Syria, did tangible damage to Syria’s chemical-weapons R&D and storage facilities. Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters, “no Syrian weapon had any effect on anything we did,” including Russian-supplied missile defenses.

The damage might have a deterrent effect on Assad’s use of chemicals, given that Mr. Trump said Friday he is prepared to enforce the ban again. Mr. Trump lost credibility on that score in the last year after his Administration concluded several times that Assad had used chlorine gas but took no action. Next time the attack should be even more punishing.

The military contribution from Britain and France was useful in demonstrating a larger willingness to prevent the normalization of WMD. And the strike could have a demonstration effect on North Korea as Mr. Trump heads into his perilous summit with Kim Jong Un.

Scott Pruitt, Warrior for Science Democrats and liberal journalists attack the EPA head for insisting on transparency, shared research, and rigorous peer review. John Tierney

Imagine if the head of a federal agency announced a new policy for its scientific research: from now on, the agency would no longer allow its studies to be reviewed and challenged by independent scientists, and its researchers would not share the data on which their conclusions were based. The response from scientists and journalists would be outrage. By refusing peer review from outsiders, the agency would be rejecting a fundamental scientific tradition. By not sharing data with other researchers, it would be violating a standard transparency requirement at leading scientific journals. If a Republican official did such a thing, you’d expect to hear denunciations of this latest offensive in the “Republican war on science.”

That’s the accusation being hurled at Scott Pruitt, the Republican who heads the Environmental Protection Agency. But Pruitt hasn’t done anything to discourage peer review. In fact, he’s done the opposite: he has called for the use of more independent experts to review the EPA’s research and has just announced that the agency would rely only on studies for which data are available to be shared. Yet Democratic officials and liberal journalists have denounced these moves as an “attack on science,” and Democrats have cited them (along with accusations of ethical violations) in their campaign to force Pruitt out of his job.

How could “the party of science,” as Democrats like to call themselves, be opposed to transparency and peer review? Because better scientific oversight would make it tougher for the EPA to justify its costly regulations. To environmentalists, rigorous scientific protocols are fine in theory, but not in practice if they interfere with the green political agenda. As usual, the real war on science is the one waged from the left.

Who Will Regulate Our Regulators? By Rachel Bovard

The New York Times in an article reporting on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the regulatory state, hit upon a divergence of thought on the Right.

The Times quoted Gordon Lloyd, a professor emeritus at Pepperdine University and a preeminent scholar of the American Founding and the nature of limited government. Rather than defend Trump’s efforts to chip away at the administrative state, Lloyd instead compared Trump’s actions to “Lenin dismantling the institutions.”

The comment likely raised a few eyebrows because, by and large, most on the Right would consider the deconstruction of bureaucracy a positive development; a long sought after goal, even. To reside on the American Right, generally, means you see regulation and regulators have run amuck—and certainly have extended beyond the safe confines of the Constitution.

But Lloyd’s comment points to an area where the minds of some limited government proponents diverge. While we may all agree on the principle that regulations are most effective when they are few, targeted and efficient, the disagreement comes over how we arrive at the sweet spot.

Trump has garnered plaudits with some on the Right for his aggressive tactics toward reining in the regulatory state: an executive order mandating that for every single regulation that is issued, two are repealed; appointment of judges who hold a skeptical view of the agency-friendly judicial doctrine known as “Chevron deference,”and directing his Cabinet heads to simply repeal regulations they deem to be economically harmful or outside the agency’s mission. (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, for all the unfavorable press coverage he’s received, has been a champion in this regard.)

James Delingpole: Killing Yourself for Gaia Is an Act of Insanity (!!!!!?????)

Environmentalism has a long history of attracting cranks, loons and zealots.

There was the Unabomber, whose Manifesto was all but indistinguishable from Al Gore’s Earth In Balance.

There was James Lee, the eco-terrorist who in 2010 was shot by police at the Discovery Channel after taking hostages, leaving behind rambling messages protesting about “overpopulation” and the need to “the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies.”

Now there is David S Buckel, a lawyer who burnt himself to death in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, apparently in the belief that this would set some kind of moral example to all those people out there bent on destroying the planet.

Here is how Buckel put it in an email to the New York Times:

“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

Buckel may, as the New York Times describes him, have been a “prominent” lawyer who did much good work in the field of gay rights. But the very last thing I hope anyone will do is to listen to his final words on the environment.

First, he is wrong historically. The history of human progress is the history of a journey from primitive conditions, long working hours and backbreaking toil into one of much greater leisure, abundance and health. This is one of the many things that fossil fuels have done for us: by supplying the energy intensity equivalent of many hundreds of horses, many thousands of men. Compare the average lifespan of people who lived in the West before the Industrial Revolution and people who live in it now. The disparity makes an absolute nonsense of that stuff about “many” dying “early deaths”: people had it way worse in the pre-industrial age.

Robert Mueller’s Excellent Adventure By Roger Kimball ****

It has been a yeasty couple of weeks for President Trump. Last Monday, he, like the rest of us, learned that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his home, office, hotel, and safe deposit box hoovered by gumshoes at the direction of prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. They carried away the stuff by the boatload—documents, computers, cell phones, tablets: the lot. If you discerned the dogged hand of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this breathtaking episode, you would not be wrong. Although carried out by feds in N.Y., who apparently had been investigating Cohen “for months,” it was done at the behest of the special counsel.

Exactly what that portends for President Trump is unclear. Andrew McCarthy spoke for many when he outlined the reasons it might place the president in serious legal jeopardy.

Maybe so. As of this writing, the reasons for the raid have included looking into Mr. Cohen’s alleged non-disclosure agreements with Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and certain other members of the fair sex who claim to have had intimate relations with the president, or people close to the president, at some point in the past. The feds are also said to be interested in the infamous “Access Hollywood” video in which Donald Trump, in 2005, was taped saying crude things about how women were pushovers for celebrities. Cohen’s interest in a taxi business has also been bruited about. And just a few hours ago, Robert Mueller reported that he now has evidence that Cohen was in Prague in 2016 just as the opposition dossier compiled by Christopher Steele and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee said he was. Cohen vigorously denies the claim. “I have never been to Prague in my life,” he tweeted.

Well, either he has or he hasn’t. We’ll see.

While we wait for answer, ask yourself this: what does all this have to do with the central reason a special counsel was appointed in the first place, namely, “to investigate any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”? Well might you ask.

Meanwhile, there is this breaking development. Just a short while ago, federal agents, apparently with guns drawn, raided St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Maryland, where the president’s youngest child, Barron, who just turned 12, goes to school. Early reports are confusing, but this is sure to be a major story. One unnamed source close to the special counsel’s office has said that the feds are investigating suspicious interest in Russia among several teachers at St. Andrew’s, some of whom travelled to Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, two of whom were photographed in sight of the Kremlin. There are also reports that one of the teachers placed near the Kremlin surreptitiously passed as yet undisclosed documents to Barron in a secluded hallway between classes. Barron himself was photographed speaking alone with a Russian student at school. Anonymous sources have identified the student as the youngest son of Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, whom Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security advisor, also spoke to. The special counsel is also said to be looking into irregular payments made to Barron Trump’s lemonade stand business, which The Washington Post—citing a source close to John Brennan, former head of the CIA under President Obama—claims was unregistered. Some pundits have expressed skepticism about the heavy-handed behavior of the FBI in this case, but Rachel Maddow expressed the consensus opinion in Washington when she said that the whole future of our democratic society is at stake. “Robert Mueller is a national hero, a real straight arrow,” she said. “It is imperative that we let him follow the evidence wherever it may lead.” Steven Hatfill, the government virologist whom Mueller wrongly fingered for the 2001 anthrax attacks, was unavailable for comment, probably because he is off somewhere enjoying the $5.8 million settlement he won from the government and various media outlets who hounded the poor man on the authority of Robert Mueller. CONTINUE AT SITE

Discover What Churchill Believed Made A Society Great Churchill believed that a good society enables its citizens to seek answers to nagging existential questions and to pursue virtue for himself. By Bre Payton

In the sixth and final lecture of Hillsdale College’s free online Winston Churchill and Statesmanship course (which you can take along with me here), college President Larry Arnn explains how the former prime minister’s legacy helps us understand modern life.

Churchill’s time as a statesman was a mixed bag of both success and failure. While he pushed for the creation of a social safety net, he did so in order to prevent socialism, which was growing in popularity at the time. Socialism, he believed would necessitate a massive bureaucracy, which he did not like. He hated the idea of a permanent class of unelected people whose livelihood was earned by sponging off of the public. He deeply hated inequality and feared that a large bureaucratic state would perpetuate that.

He also worried that without a social safety net, inequality would forever persist in Britain’s classist society. Those who were born into wealth would get to to continue living their lush lifestyle, while people who were born otherwise would suffer greatly and likely fall into poverty if they got sick or if they were faced with other difficulties.

Eventually, the programs Churchill proposed and lobbied for bloomed into large bureaucratic entities. Thus by creating a social safety net, Churchill indirectly created a bureaucratic state which he hated so much.

In an article published in 1936, Churchill wrote that his greatest obligation was to the people he served, not to himself. He thought that citizens ought to be free to live as they liked and to speak freely — even if that speech was to harshly criticize its leaders.

I judge the civilization of any community by simple tests. What is the degree of freedom possessed by the citizen or subject? Can he think, speak and act freely under well-established, well-known laws? Can he criticize the executive government? Can he sue the State if it has infringed his rights? Are there also great processes for changing the law to meet new conditions? Judging by these standards, Great Britain and the United States can claim to be in the forefront of civilized communities. But we owe this only in part to the good sense and watchfulness of our citizens. In both our countries the character of the judiciary is a vital factor in the maintenance of the rights and liberties of the individual citizen

Comey’s last stand for the deep state By Mark Penn

They were among the most powerful men of the last decade. They commanded armies of armed agents, had the ability to bug and wiretap almost anyone, and had virtually unlimited budgets. They were the leadership of the FBI, the CIA and the director of national intelligence under President Obama. Each day, it becomes clearer that they are the real abusers of power in this drama.

The book by former FBI Director James Comey and the daily hyperbolic John Brennan sound bites are perhaps the final reveal of just how much hubris and vitriol they had. Comey’s book, according to reports, contains nothing new of legal consequence to Trump (while suggesting that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has something to worry about), but it unmasks the hatred that Comey had for Donald Trump from the beginning. It impeaches Comey’s fitness to have ever held high, nonpartisan office.

Whether you are a Democrat who can’t stand Trump, a Hillary Clinton supporter who feels robbed by Comey, or a Trump supporter, any use of wiretapping and vast prosecutorial machinery against our political campaigns and sitting presidents always has to be viewed skeptically and should meet the highest standards of conduct and impartiality. The post-election actions of these former officials makes suspect their actions as officials.

It was, after all, Comey who went to the president during the transition seeking a one-on-one meeting to tell him about the inflammatory dossier, but who critically omitted telling the president that the dossier was a product of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. These facts, he knew, if revealed at that moment in January, would have ended further inquiry. This was no effort to inform the president and douse the fires of unverified and salacious information, but one to inflame the president and spread the stories everywhere.

GOOD NEWS FROM AMAZING ISRAEL FROM MICHAEL ORDMAN

ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Matching treatments to patients. (TY Hazel) Israel has launched the Israel Precision Medicine Partnership – an innovative $60 million program to enable researchers to target the best treatments for a patient’s disease (e.g. cancer). Precision medicine uses genetic sequencing to predict an individual’s response to specific treatments.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-launches-60m-initiative-to-boost-tailor-made-meds/

Artificial cell factory kills cancer from the inside. (TY NoCamels) Researchers at Israel’s Technion have successfully treated a cancerous tumor using a “nano-factory” – a synthetic cell that produces anti-cancer proteins when it comes into contact with the tumor tissue. The proteins can be varied to fit each patient.
http://ats.org/news/synthetic-cell-produces-anti-cancer-drugs-within-a-tumor/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adhm.201701163

Treatment for Adnoid Cystic Carcinoma. I wrote previously (10th Dec) about Israeli personalized cancer biotech Ayala and its partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb. One of the results of this tie-up is AL101 – a new treatment for metastatic Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC), which could also treat triple-negative breast cancer.
https://www.globes.co.il/en/article-cancer-drug-developer-ayala-pharmaceuticals-raises-17m-1001231474

Israeli medical databases. Israel’s four health companies maintain databases of 5 million records that (anonymized) will benefit medical researchers in the discovery of new treatments. The Maccabi health fund (see here) is already doing this. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3735645,00.html

Anaphylactic shock alert. Scientists from Bar-Ilan University partnered with Israel’s Magen David Adom to develop “EPIMADA,” a smartphone app that issues a local proximity alert in the event of a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylactic shock. Anyone with an EpiPen (syringe containing adrenaline) can save the victim. http://nocamels.com/2018/03/israeli-researchers-emergency-app/

Predicting kidney disease in diabetics. I reported previously (see here) on the predictive artificial intelligence (AI) systems of Israeli biotech Medial EarlySign. Its AI algorithms can now predict which sufferers of diabetes will develop kidney dysfunction within a one-year time-frame. Early treatment can then improve their outcome.
http://nocamels.com/2018/02/israeli-ai-startup-diabetes-kidney/

Spinal surgery for Ethiopian children. (TY Hazel) Eleven medics from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center spent a week performing surgeries to fix severe spinal deformities in Ethiopia. In addition, the Israelis also provided training to medical staff at the Ayder hospital in the Northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-doctors-perform-lifesaving-spinal-surgeries-in-ethiopia/

Crash led to new medical device. Another Israeli medical “miracle”. After a motorcycle accident, doctors found that Avi Yaron had a brain tumor. They couldn’t remove all the tumor, so Avi founded Visionsense that developed an imaging device to help in similar ops. Medtronic has just bought Visionsense for $75 million.
http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-exclusive-medtronic-to-buy-israeli-co-visionsense-for-75m-1001230992

EU supports Israeli electric socks. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli startup ElastiMed and its smart socks that improve circulation to treat swelling, blood clots, chronic wounds, sports injuries etc. ElastiMed is now to receive a $1.6 million grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3735625,00.html

The Barbarians Who Sacked Rome Came Into the Empire as Refugees by Emmet Scott (November 2016)

Over the past century many commentators have remarked on the parallels between the modern West and ancient Rome in its period of decadence and decline. The most influential proponent of the idea, perhaps, has been Oswald Spengler, whose Decline of the West is now widely viewed as a classic of conservative thought. As might be imagined, “progressives” have consistently sneered at the idea, but, then again, they would scarcely be progressives if they didn’t. One is reminded of the Chinese saying: “When a fool sees the Tao [Truth] he laughs. If he did not laugh it would not be the Tao.”

The parallels between decadent Rome and the modern West are actually there. And they are uncanny, and they are becoming more numerous by the day.

In 410 A.D. the walls of Rome were breached and the city plundered by a barbarian army under the leadership of Alaric the Goth. This was the first time since the Gallic sack of the city around 390 B.C. that the imperial metropolis had been entered by a hostile enemy. The fall of Rome shocked the world at the time, but what is not generally known nowadays is that the Gothic army that carried out the atrocity had entered the Empire thirty years earlier as refugees.

Until the second half of the fourth century the Goths had inhabited a vast swathe of territory taking what now comprises Romania as well as the Ukraine. In 375, however, they were attacked by the Huns, a tribe of nomad warriors from central Asia who had been moving steadily westwards during the preceding century and a half. In the ensuing war the Goths suffered a crushing defeat and large numbers of them fled westwards towards the Roman Empire. By the summer of 376 an enormous host of Goths, generally estimated at around 100,000, arrived at the River Danube and pleaded with the Roman authorities to be allowed into the Empire.