Miscellaneous Interesting (and Weird) News

There are all sorts of interesting and disturbing issues and events out there in the news these days, some obscure and others more obvious and with greater implications.  Below I simply want to list a few I have been reading about in recent days, and then later perhaps write some longer blogs on some of them.

  1. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, known to all fondly as the NCAA, has decided to withdraw seven of its collegiate championship events from North Carolina because that state mandated that men and women use bathrooms corresponding with their biological gender—of all things!! Well, pardon my bluntness, but the NCAA has become one of the most biased and hypocritical organizations around.  And it has the audacity to weigh in on every political issue that comes from the radical Left while mandating that poor (and mostly minority) athletes can receive little in remuneration while universities reap in millions.
  2. The EU has mandated that Ireland demand and collect some $13 billion in taxes from Apple, not because it cheated on its taxes, or because Ireland wanted the money, but because the EU seems now to want to make sure there is no tax competition among its members. Apple paid its taxes due under the low Irish corporate rate but the EU commissioner said that that would enable any country to set its own tax base and rate.  Imagine that!  National sovereignty!
  3. The Third Circuit appeals court will be hearing a case that I first heard theorized some 35 years ago, but never until now litigated. The plaintiffs, environmental groups, are arguing that the ecosystem involved in their case has rights, human-type rights, and that they, the plaintiffs, have standing to sue in behalf of “nature.”  The rights of nature are to be accorded the same stature as humans.  Thank you, Joseph Sax, you live again.
  4. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has now seen fit to go even further than its requirement of a “preponderance of the evidence” necessary to find sexual assault has occurred (even though criminal law uses the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard). Now it has said that the standard should NOT be a “reasonable person” but rather whatever the alleged victim believes.  In a letter to Frostburg State University, an OCR bureaucrat wrote,

“The Sexual Harassment Policy inappropriately stated that “in assessing whether a particular act constitutes sexual harassment forbidden under this policy, the rules of common sense and reason shall prevail. The standard shall be the perspective of a reasonable person within the campus community.” This standard falls short of the preponderance of the evidence standard required to satisfy Title IX.” (OCR Letter of September 9, 2016).

5.  I forgot to add this item.  Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader (I say that loosely) has apparently banned (or attempted to ban) sarcastic speech that could be taken as critical of his regime.  “Keep your mouths shut” the N. Koreans were told.  I don’t know what to say.


Well, that ought to get you thinking.

12 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Interesting (and Weird) News”

  1. Very interesting collection of news clippings. Fascinating how the EU is able to trump the economic policies of Ireland. And as you said, what about national sovereignty? Why don’t we just make one European country if the EU can swoop in like this whenever they so desire.

  2. Some comments on the various numbers…

    1. You point out the hypocrisy of the NCAA and that is true. But the bigger problem is that the NCAA (and in some measure many of the sports leagues) is taking upon itself the role of political blackmailer. It is basically trying to blackmail North Carolina into doing what it wants culturally and socially. If it wants to be an agent of societal or political change, then let it do so through the normal democratic process. It is also discouraging that the NCAA would believe that our culture is at the point where threatening to remove these sporting events, etc. will be incentive enough to cause large numbers of people to suddenly change their minds. Even more discouraging is that they may, if not now, in the near future, be right.

    2. The struggle between the EU and its members is similar to the ever-ongoing struggle in America between the States and the Federal government. In America, the Federal government has been and currently is winning that struggle. Unfortunately, I don’t see Europe being any different in the end.

    4. No one should be punished for a crime unless convicted via due process. Sadly, too many people suffer negatively simply because of an accusation. This is another area in which, like #1, the sports leagues are inserting themselves too much. How many players have been punished by their respective leagues for alleged actions that the court system eventually dismisses or acquits them of? Too many.

  3. Most of these issues are indeed interesting and disturbing. The third point, however, seems to allow for the possibility of some societal benefit. Nature is so often exploited in the name of development, and while there are laws that deter such exploitation, they are often sidestepped or ignored. Now I’m sure “suing on behalf of nature” is not be the best solution, but giving nature human-like rights, considering how often it is abused, does sound reasonable. If the plaintiffs win the case and collect, and if that money is put towards some form of nature reservation purposes, I could see the benefit of permitting such a case.

    1. Michael–
      How do you distinguish between development and exploitation? Is there some universal standard that we should agree on?

      1. I would say that exploitation is typically irreparable, or at least takes extraordinary action to reverse (e.g. extinction of species, ozone depletion, excessive greenhouse gas increase, water pollution, etc). Development that displays good stewardship would mean using resources in a way that does not cause permanent environmental degradation, or any degradation that makes an ecosystem unreasonably harmful.

    2. The NCAA’s exploitation of athletes is a crime, and shows the general lack oversight displayed by government in regard to the realm of sports. I recently found that the NFL is considered a non-profit organization, exempt from most tax law. Why are these issues so common in the athletic realm?

  4. The EU is made up of the nations of Europe for specific reasons. However, those reasons do not include handing over national sovereignty to a disinterested party who doesn’t care about a nation’s well-being. Does this not remind anyone else of the actions of the UN also?

  5. This article was very interesting in the sense of giving just a little bit of news about random events going on. I think the one that caught my eye the most was the fact that Kim Jong Un has banned or attempted to ban sarcastic speech. That is honestly just so ridiculous it blows my mind. I also found the paragraph on the NCAA to be very interesting.

  6. I appreciated your bit on the NCAA. I understand the importance of the other four bits, of course, but as an athlete, I believe that we should take a little bit of heat off the IOC and focus it to the NCAA.

  7. When I was younger, I saw a cowboy movie in which a cowboy rode a horse to death trying to get a little girl to the hospital. My first reaction was how cruel that was to the horse. Than my dad asked me, “What’s more important? The girl or the horse?” The answer was obvious to me as it should be to most people.
    It’s irritating that people want to sue others on the behalf of nature. I understand nature’s important, but it is not human. It was created for humans. We have stewardship over it. Most people know better than to abuse it, because it will then hurt them. Yet, nature does not deserve the right humans have. Cutting down a tree or running a horse to death does not have the same offense to God as killing a human (not that anyone should want to run a horse to death) . I wish there was as much interest in saving human lives as saving trees.

  8. Can the EU even mandate that Apple pay that $13 million in taxes? Why is that even a thing if they have paid their taxes and done what they were supposed to do? Seems a bit unfair, but such is life.

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