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Thu, 25 Apr 2019
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The MSM's cringiest hot takes after Notre Dame fire

Notre Dame fire
© Thomas Samson, AFP/Getty Images
Flames and smoke billow around the gargoyles decorating the roof and sides of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky.
Watching perhaps the most visceral act of live destruction on TV since 9/11, it was hard to find the right words. But that didn't stop the media reaching for the wrong ones.

After all, what better time to push your political agenda?

"At a moment like this, how foolish it seems to pretend that we are not all Europeans. We stand with France in its hour of heartbreak. We will never, ever, turn away," is the note on which the Guardian finished its editorial, as the fire was still rummaging inside Notre Dame Cathedral.


Notre Dame Cathedral worker claims Paris' largest church was DELIBERATELY set on fire

Notre Dame fire
The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is on fire, with one worker claiming that the blaze was deliberately set.

The roof of the historic building has completely collapsed.

"The cause is not yet clear, but officials say it could be linked to renovation work," reports the BBC.

However, TIME columnist Christopher J. Hale tweeted, "A Jesuit friend in Paris who works in #NotreDame told me cathedral staff said the fire was intentionally set."

Comment: See also:

Control Panel

Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user information to hurt rivals and help friends

Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
© Getty Images
Leaked internal Facebook documents show that the plans to sell access to user data were discussed for years and received support from Facebook’s most senior executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network's power and control competitors by treating its users' data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News.

The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook's trove of user data - including information about friends, relationships and photos - as leverage over companies it partnered with.

In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps.

For example, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data because it was spending money on Facebook advertising and partnering with the social network on the launch of its Fire smartphone. In another case, Facebook discussed cutting off access to user data for a messaging app that had grown too popular and was viewed as a competitor, according to the documents.

All the while, Facebook was formulating a strategy to publicly frame these moves as a way of protecting user privacy.

Bad Guys

Demanding our chains: Poll shows Americans are uniquely hostile toward Assange, want him prosecuted

© Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates' Court on April 11, 2019 in London.
A YouGov poll of 2,455 Americans taken on April 11th found that by a margin of 53% to 17%, or by slightly over 3 to 1, Americans want Julian Assange to be prosecuted.

The question was: "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London. Do you think he should or should not be extradited to the US?"

This was a remarkably bipartisan hostility toward Assange. As the YouGov news-report on that finding indicated:

"That majority increases among both Republicans (59% supporting extradition) and Democrats (62% supporting extradition), but decreases to a plurality (46%) among Independents. Independents were more likely to respond with uncertainty (32% saying they don't know) than Republicans and Democrats, and a little more than one in five Independents (22%) are opposed to extradition."

Arrow Down

South Africa's deterioration worst among nations not at war

South Africa land confiscation
© Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Father of seven, Muneer Baxter, works on a shack erected during illegal land occupations, in Mitchell's Plain township near Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa's performance on a range of social, economic and governance measures deteriorated more in the past 12 years than any other nation not at war, according to Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd.

The decline is likely to continue as the country wrestles with the consequences of nine years of worsening corruption and policy paralysis under former President Jacob Zuma, the Johannesburg-based political-risk advisory company said. The fragility of the economy may also limit the tenure of his successor Cyril Ramaphosa, who faces his first national election on May 8, it said.

"There is the strongest likelihood of him being a one-term president," Claude Baissac, the head of a Eunomix, said in an interview. "He is starting with a very weak economy, the weakest of any president since Mandela. He is also starting with a fairly weak hand from a political standpoint."


A woman is being sought after lockouts at Columbine High and other Colorado schools - UPDATE

Sol Pais

Sol Pais is sought in relation to lockouts at Columbine High School and several other Colorado schools.
Authorities are searching for an armed woman, who was "infatuated" with Columbine, in connection with alleged threats that led to lockouts at Columbine High School and nearly 20 other schools, officials said Tuesday.

The FBI Denver Division and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office identified the woman as 18-year-old Sol Pais. She traveled to Colorado on Monday night "and made threats in the Denver metropolitan area," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post. She is considered dangerous, authorities said.

"She did make statements that were threatening to schools and she did purchase a firearm... and that's why she's a credible threat," said Patricia Billinger, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Public Safety.


UPDATE 17/04/19: Sol Pais has been found in Littleton, Colorado dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound

The massive search for Sol Pais, the Surfside teen who reportedly made threatening comments about schools in the Denver area, is over. Late Wednesday morning authorities said Pais is dead. They said she died a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Littleton area.

Pais had been on the run after reportedly making threats that led to the closure of school for more than half a million students on Colorado's Front Range Wednesday.

A SWAT team and a Clear Creek County snowcat were near the Echo Lake Campground in the Arapaho National Forest and in the midst of an extensive search operation Wednesday morning. The search was centered at the base of Mount Evans.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the FBI had said Pais traveled to Colorado from Miami on Monday night and bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition.

"Because of her comments and her actions. Because of her travel here to the state. Because of her procurement of a weapon immediately upon arriving here, we consider her to be a credible threat certainly to the community and potentially to schools," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips.

CBS4 News spoke to a man who identified himself as Sol's father on Tuesday night.

"It's like a bad dream. We don't know. We don't have any idea," said the man through a closed door. He did not give his name.

Wednesday morning, FBI agents were seen removing a bag of items from the home.


Time to worry: Medical journals are getting woke

social justice doctor
© Stock
They fight racism, not cancer. Will your doctor sound like a self-absorbed neurotic?:
I am racist, shaped by the sometimes subtle tendrils of white supremacy deeply embedded in our culture. I mean this not as a sanctimonious admission of guilt, but as a call to self-reflection and action for us white physicians.

-- Deborah Cohan, M.D., M.P.H., "Racist Like Me - A Call to Self-Reflection and Action for White Physicians" at New England Journal of Medicine (paywall)
We hope no one facing a difficult diagnosis has to listen to someone whose basic mission in life sounds like dumping on herself instead of serving others.

The journal was urged to get woke. While the predations of the raging Woke in science is not a core mission for us at UD, we think we should let readers know when it is happening, especially if it could affect you.

Light Saber

Vanishing breed: Philadelphia university president stands up for academic freedom

Camille Paglia
What happens when university students call on authority figures to censor students or staff at institutions of higher education? At Yale such students have been awarded prizes, at the University of Missouri they've been successful in forcing administrators to resign, at Claremont they were able to force their president to implement a long list of demands, and at Evergreen State College a throng of students were allowed to take control of the campus while harassed faculty sought refuge off-campus. At other colleges around America, and even on campuses in the U.K., Canada and Australia, university administrators have met illiberal student mobs with a parade of mealy-mouthed platitudes and prostrations. This pattern of weakness has been dismaying for all people who value academic freedom and open inquiry. This week, however, a line has been drawn by David Yager, President of Philadelphia's University of Arts (UArts). In response to students calling for the censorship of Camille Paglia-one of the most admired humanities scholars in the world-he articulated a full-throated defence of intellectual freedom, showing administrators of supposedly superior universities what real leadership looks like.

To understand what happened, one has to go back in time to 2016, the year when Camille Paglia recorded an interview with Ella Whelan of the British magazine Spiked. In this interview, Paglia criticised the transgender and feminist activist movements in her usual colourful and provocative style. She queried whether every single case of transgenderism was genuine, and drew attention to the victimhood that mainstream feminism is preoccupied with. While controversial, Paglia's comments reflected viewpoints shared by many people. Part of her popularity comes from saying what no-one else has the courage to say.

Yet it was only last week, after UArts student Joseph McAndrew-who identifies as "non-binary" and who stipulates their personal pronouns as they/their/them-began making posts on Facebook and Instagram, that a complaint against Paglia was made:



EU proposes tariffs on US imports as part of Boeing subsidy dispute

Boeing 737 MAX
© Reuters
A Boeing 737 MAX plane is seen during a media tour of the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington, U.S. 7 December 2015
The EU has proposed tariffs on $20bn (£15bn) of US goods in a long-running dispute over Boeing aircraft subsidies. The proposal comes after the WTO said earlier this month that the US had failed to remove some Boeing subsidies.

The EU move comes after the US said it was considering tariffs on about $11bn (£8.4bn) worth of EU goods in response to Airbus subsidies. And it comes after the EU approved plans in April for trade talks with the US designed to reduce trade barriers.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms.

"The recent WTO ruling on US subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect. We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry."


Day laborer forced to have sex at gunpoint by deranged Arizona couple

Brenda Acuna-Aguero and Jorge Murrieta-Valenzuela
© 3TV/CBS5
Brenda Acuna-Aguero and Jorge Murrieta-Valenzuela
An Arizona couple is charged with luring a day laborer to their Phoenix home and forcing the man to have sex at gunpoint with the female suspect, an assault that the male suspect described as a "sexual fantasy scenario," according to a criminal complaint.

According to investigators, the victim was picked up last Monday outside a Home Depot by Brenda Acuna-Aguero, 39, who said that she needed help moving items at her home.

The victim told cops that when he reached the residence, Acuna-Aguero "began to talk sexual to him" and said it "was her fantasy to have sex with a laborer and that she wanted to have sex with him."

When the man declined to have sex, Acuna-Aguero's husband Jorge Murrieta-Valenzuela, 45, entered the room carrying a rifle. Murrieta-Valenzuela, cops charge, placed the firearm against the victim's chest and told him "that he was going to have sex with his wife or he would shoot him."