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Interpreters

Germany: The Terrifying Power of Muslim Interpreters by Stefan Frank.

Alexander Stevens is a lawyer at a Munich law firm specializing in sexual offenses. In his recent book, Sex in Court, he describes some of his strangest and most shocking cases. One such case raises the question: What do you do when interpreters working for the police and courts lie and manipulate? As no one monitors translators, it is likely that in many instances, the dishonesty of interpreters goes undetected — Stevens’ book chronicles the devastating effects one dishonest interpreter had on a case.

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Bogus

Bogus ‘Sex Offender’ Labels Are Ruining Lives by Lenore Skenazy.

What’s the most common age of sex-offenders?

It’s not a trick question, but unless you follow this stuff closely you’ll almost certainly answer wrong.

In fact, most people are shocked to learn that the most common age of people charged with a sex offense isn’t a creepy 39, or 51.

It’s 14.

That’s right. As the US Bureau of Justice reports: “The single age with the greatest number of offenders from the perspective of law enforcement was age 14.”

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Communicator

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say by Beverly D. Flaxington.

7 steps to being a more authentic communicator.

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Identifying

Identifying Warning Behaviors of the Individual Terrorist by J. Reid Meloy.

Tactical and often strategic, terrorist actions also are attention-seeking; the audience can be as important as the target. These acts are intentional, instrumental, and predatory, as well as planned, purposeful, and offensive. But, they may be rationalized as defensive. For instance, young ISIS recruits may believe falsely that the West is at war with Islam and that all Muslims must engage in violent jihad against unbelievers everywhere.

Traditional violence risk factors—history of such behavior, psychiatric disorder, or drug abuse—are somewhat useless in predicting the risk of lone terrorist acts. Most individuals identified as terrorists by such risk factors would be false positives, wrongly labeled as such.

For the past 6 years, I have worked with my colleagues to identify patterns of behavior closely related in time to acts of targeted violence, such as terrorism. Targeted violence differs from typical violence—emotionally charged, impulsive, and reactive—encountered by law enforcement. It entails a decision to act violently against a particular person, group, or institution. Persons carry it out in a planned manner as illustrated by such acts as the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack, which killed 14 people on December 2, 2015.

We believe these patterns of conduct—warning behaviors—can provide an investigative template to help law enforcement agencies focus their attention on subjects of concern previously identified through intelligence gathering or other counterterrorism efforts. These behavior patterns can help the investigator step back and see the bigger picture, rather than focus on just one variable, such as the purchase of a firearm or one visit to a Mosque where a particular Salafist imam preaches violent jihad.

However, these warning behaviors do not predict violence. Officers should not use them as a risk-assessment tool, only as an investigative template. In fact, the rare occurrence of terrorist violence makes its prediction seemingly impossible. But, prevention does not require prediction. The purpose of identifying these behaviors is to detect proximal indicators of concern for law enforcement that can narrow the focus of an investigation, prioritize cases, and help plan a timely risk-management intervention.

More from the FBI.

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Gene

National Geographic interviews Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the new book, The Gene: An Intimate History.

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Battle

PD reviews In My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand.

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Wasps

Why All Civilised People Should Love Wasps by Simon Barnes.

Dom Perignon, Pimms, Carling Black Label, Coca-Cola — one’s as good as the other, so far as they’re concerned. Even if they don’t manage to drown in the stuff, they spoil the taste for drinkers by creating panic out of all proportion to their size. They destroy the ardour of al-fresco lovers in an instant. They are the joy-killers: the destroyers of summer, determined to prove that the wild world is a plot against humanity.

Is there anything good about wasps? Is their sole purpose in life to harass humans seeking the fleeting joys of summer? Does this black-and-yellow air force exist only to ruin the few fine days reluctantly given to us?

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Terrorism

How to Defeat Terrorism by David Solway.

No less important, indeed, perhaps the most crucial of the measures I am proposing, has to do with terminology and the concepts it signifies. We keep hearing that the enemy we are facing is “Islamic extremism” or “radical Islam.” Nothing can be further from the truth. This is the most serious in its consequences of the evasions we practice and one that ensures our eventual destruction. The enemy is not radical Islam but Islam pure and simple. The terrorists, their enablers and the “entry” cohort take their warrant from their holy scriptures—the Koran, the Hadith, the Sira, the schools of jurisprudence, and centuries of political and religious commentary.

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Related: Does the Bible Teach the Same Kind of ‘Holy War’ as the Quran? by Jeff Sanders.

There is no denying that both the Bible and the Quran relate tales of violence. Both books have commands for the faithful to kill unbelievers (most notably Deuteronomy 7:1-5 in the Bible and Surah 9:5,19 in the Quran). Joshua, in fact, did enter the land of Canaan and wiped out many (but not all) of its inhabitants. But is this the exact same thing as the Quran’s numerous commands for Muslims to slay non-Muslims and/or subjugate them?

The “holy war” in the Bible is limited to only one set of passages in the Old Testament—those related to God’s commands to eliminate the Canaanites and their fellow pagans from the land of Israel. They were given the option to convert (as in the case of Rahab in Joshua 2:11) or they could leave the land and resettle elsewhere. God had already warned the Canaanites, who were notorious for burning babies alive in worship of Baal, that they had 400 years to repent of their crimes. And with the approach of the Israelite army, it is very likely that the women and children could have fled, leaving only the warriors to fight.

Nevertheless, God did not ever tell the Israelites to go conquer and take the land of the Egyptians or the Syrians or the Greeks or the Babylonians or anyone else. And they didn’t. Whatever you think of this bloody episode in the Bible, the biblical evidence is that this command to execute the Canaanite culture was limited only to that piece of geography and that particular time period. The Canaanites no longer exist, and the present-day government of Israel (the freest government in the Middle East) does not carry out these commands from the Law of Moses upon any of its inhabitants. And Christians have historically believed that the Law of Moses was completed at the cross, and its civil and ceremonial codes have been terminated for believers today (Galatians 3:24,25; Hebrews 7:11-25; 10:1-14).

However, the commands in the Quran to make war on all unbelievers have no “sunset clause.” All of these commands are open-ended. They are not limited in any way to any geographical boundaries or to a time period. They are for all faithful Muslims for all time.

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Running

Tennis with Plato by Mark Rowlands.

In one of his letters to the Corinthians, St Paul takes a firm line on what it means to be an adult: ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.’ Lately, I’ve wondered more and more whether he was right as events have taken a somewhat different turn for me. My second childhood was kindly delivered to me by my children. This, I suspect, was no coincidence. Children know something that adults have forgotten — something adults have to forget when they begin playing the great game of growing up and becoming someone.

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Suppressed

Ma Bell Suppressed Innovation for Thirty Grueling Years by Bill Frezza.

“Oh, for the days of Ma Bell!” is not a lament we’re likely to hear. And for good reason. Before the breakup of AT&T, America’s telephone system was a government-sanctioned monopoly characterized by stagnant service offerings, high costs, and a glacial pace of consumer-facing innovation.

So it was distressing when a federal appeals court engaged in a bit of 1970s nostalgia last month by upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ill-conceived net neutrality rules. Under the new FCC rules, Internet service will increasingly be regulated like a public utility, rather than a competitive market.

The likely result? Reduced investment in online communications infrastructure, reduced competition, and innovation slowing down to a crawl.

Technology companies in the United States are our economy’s drivers—making things better, faster, and cheaper while creating new jobs and economic growth. Nothing could be worse for American competitiveness, or for consumers, than returning to the ‘golden age’ of Ma Bell.

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Thiel

It’s Peter Thiel’s Republican Party Now… Or Should Be by Roger L Simon.

Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka may have brought down the house, but the most intriguing, original, and ultimately most optimistic speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday was given by Peter Thiel.

Like Trump, Thiel is no politician. He’s a brilliant, controversial yet wildly successful high-tech entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley (co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook), a libertarian, a best-selling author, a Cleveland native and, for some time, a fully out gay.

That last alone would seem to be a game changer in Republican politics, especially since Trump gave Thiel a coveted spot only two away from him and Ivanka on the final night of the convention, a clearly not accidental gesture on Donald’s part.

The audience responded. Thiel got a standing ovation and the conventional liberal “narrative” about the GOP took a serious body blow in front of a good portion of the country. Dan Rather, who has been seen wandering around the convention, may have been bewildered.

But, in truth, it wasn’t all that surprising. For some time now there has been a small but growing stream in the Republican Party that is considerably more modern than anything on the Democratic side, where the likes of Bernie Sanders dominate with a worldview out of 1932.

The fact is that liberals and progressives are the true fuddy-duddies of our time, more conservative than conservatives. These days they offer not one original thought, unless you count nostalgia for 1968 or yet one more iteration of LBJ’s moribund War on Poverty.

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Free Trade

Promoting Free Trade in Agriculture by Scott Lincicome.

Despite decades of agricultural liberalization through successes like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, many costly, trade-distorting subsidies and barriers remain in place both in the United States and abroad. Reform is necessary, and experience in the United States and elsewhere shows that the U.S. farm sector, far from being destroyed by elimination of these non-market measures, would grow even stronger. Congress should enact reforms that convert the U.S. farm trade system into one that better reflects free-market principles, limits government intervention on behalf of well-connected cronies, and offers a broader array of benefits to U.S. consumers and the economy. Such reforms also would give the United States the moral authority to demand more of its trading partners through trade negotiations and dispute settlement. Trade has provided immense benefits to the U.S. and global agricultural sectors, but more remains to be done.

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Rulebook

The Tour de France Tears Up its Unwritten Rulebook by Joshua Robinson.

Expanded TV coverage and declining age of riders forces the peloton to abandon the race’s long-held gentlemanly agreements.

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Depression

How Japan Came to Believe in Depression by Christopher Harding.

Depression was not widely recognised in Japan until the late 1990s. When an advertising campaign called it a “cold of the soul” sales of anti-depressants boomed. Now some have been accused of faking depression to get time off work.

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Bikes

The Bicycle Problem That Nearly Broke Mathematics by Brendan Borrell.

Jim Papadopoulos has spent a lifetime pondering the maths of bikes in motion. Now his work has found fresh momentum.

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Time

A Debate Over the Physics of Time by Dan Falk.

According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass. Yet a number of physicists hope to replace this “block universe” with a physical theory of time.

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Cerebral Cortex

A Multi-Modal Parcellation of Human Cerebral Cortex by Matthew F. Glasser, Timothy S. Coalson, Emma C. Robinson, Carl D. Hacker, John Harwell, Essa Yacoub, Kamil Ugurbil, Jesper Andersson, Christian F. Beckmann, Mark Jenkinson, Stephen M. Smith & David C. Van Essen.

Understanding the amazingly complex human cerebral cortex requires a map (or parcellation) of its major subdivisions, known as cortical areas. Making an accurate areal map has been a century-old objective in neuroscience. Using multi-modal magnetic resonance images from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and an objective semi-automated neuroanatomical approach, we delineated 180 areas per hemisphere bounded by sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography in a precisely aligned group average of 210 healthy young adults. We characterized 97 new areas and 83 areas previously reported using post-mortem microscopy or other specialized study-specific approaches. To enable automated delineation and identification of these areas in new HCP subjects and in future studies, we trained a machine-learning classifier to recognize the multi-modal ‘fingerprint’ of each cortical area. This classifier detected the presence of 96.6% of the cortical areas in new subjects, replicated the group parcellation, and could correctly locate areas in individuals with atypical parcellations. The freely available parcellation and classifier will enable substantially improved neuroanatomical precision for studies of the structural and functional organization of human cerebral cortex and its variation across individuals and in development, aging, and disease.

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WEIRDo

Spot the WEIRDo by Robert Colvile.

Too much research is done on Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic students. Can science widen its base?

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Fraud

The Golden State’s Fiscal Fraud by Peter Bennett and Danita Delimont.

California: For years, the liberal media have lionized California Gov. Jerry Brown’s economic “miracle” in bringing the Golden State back from the dead and balancing the state’s budget. But his supposed miracle looks more like a mirage by the day.

Thanks to budget legerdemain, Brown and his Democratic allies in the legislature have posed themselves as the fiscal saviors of California, making brave choices to balance the books and get the economy growing again. But the fact is, the nation’s largest and still-wealthiest state is in a fiscal fix from which it will be tough to extricate itself.

Democrats boast of running a “surplus.” What they don’t say is they only run a surplus by excluding costs for the state’s out-of-control public-pension programs. If a company did this, it would be accused of fraud. In California, this gets you re-elected.

California’s total debt is $118.17 billion, but when you add in what it really owes, that surges to an unbelievable $757 billion — roughly equal to 46% of the state’s total income. This is why the Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently ranked California 44th in the nation in terms of fiscal health.

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Insidious

The Left’s Insidious War on the Free Speech Rights of Climate Dissenters by Shikha Dalmia.

The main casualty of global warming is the Democratic Party’s sanity.

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Related: Democrats’ Climate Agenda Deserves a Conservative Response by Devin Hartman.

As the Democratic Party looks to advance what has been characterized as the “most progressive platform in the party’s history,” there’s never been a more urgent time for Republicans to revitalize their energy and climate agendas.

The Democrats’ formal 2016 platform will not be adopted until delegates convene for the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for July 25 to July 28 in Philadelphia. But a leaked version of the platform draft obtained by NBC News shows an intent to double down on “climate justice” and proposals to transform America into a “clean energy superpower,” long-standing priorities of the Democratic Party. Despite Republicans’ best efforts over the years, there has been a pileup of regulations and market-stifling subsidies aimed at achieving these goals.

The Democrats’ platform correctly diagnoses the benefits of a renaissance in energy technology, including technologies to combat climate change. But by refusing to bend on their ideological attachment to command-and-control solutions to exaggerated problems, party leaders may impede the very future they long to see. The Republicans, meanwhile, if they hope to resist the problematic elements of the Democratic plan, must counter with their own pro-market energy and climate platform.

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