Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

Harvard’s gatekeeper reveals SAT cutoff scores based on race

October 18, 2018

A Harvard University dean testified that the school has different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex — but insisted that the practice isn’t discriminatory, as a trial alleging racism against Asian-American applicants began this week.

The Ivy League school was sued in 2014 by the group Students for Fair Admissions, which claims that Asian-American students, despite top-notch academic records, had the lowest admission rate among any race.

By Lia Eustachewich
New York Post

The trial began Monday, and has so far only included testimony from dean of admissions William Fitzsimmons.

He said Harvard sends recruitment letters to African-American, Native American and Hispanic high schoolers with mid-range SAT scores, around 1100 on math and verbal combined out of a possible 1600, CNN reported.

Asian-Americans only receive a recruitment letter if they score at least 250 points higher — 1350 for women, and 1380 for men.

Fitzsimmons explained a similar process for white wannabe students in states that don’t see a lot of Harvard attendees, like Montana or Nevada. Students in those states would receive a recruitment letter if they had at least a 1310 on their SATs.

“That’s race discrimination, plain and simple,” John Hughes, a lawyer for Students for Fair Admissions, challenged the dean.

“It is not,” the dean insisted. He said the school targeted certain groups in order to “break the cycle” and try to convince students to apply to Harvard who normally wouldn’t consider the school.

Fitzsimmons’ office oversees the screening process of about 40,000 applications and whittles them down to 2,000 acceptance letters that are handed out each year.

Adam Mortara, another attorney representing Students for Fair Admissions, accused Harvard of giving Asian-Americans significantly lower ratings for certain personal qualities, such as leadership and compassion, than other races, according to the Washington Post.“Harvard has engaged in, and continues to engage in, intentional discrimination against Asian-Americans,” Mortara said.

William Lee, the lawyer representing the Cambridge, Mass., school, denied that it engages in discriminatory practices, saying its doors are “open to students of all backgrounds and means.”

“Harvard never considers an applicant’s race to be a negative,” he said.

The trial, which will last at least three weeks, is being heard by Judge Allison Burroughs — not a jury.

No matter the outcome of the case, an appeal that could reach the US Supreme Court is anticipated. It could shape the long-standing debate surrounding affirmative action, a landmark policy from 1978 that has given mostly African-American and Hispanic students an advantage in the college application process.


Prayer and Meditation Aid Mental Health — Afternoon Prayer for Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 18, 2018

“Anxiety increases in direct ratio and proportion as man departs from God. Everyone in the world has an anxiety complex because each of us has the capacity to be either a sinner or a saint.”

“Despair and anxiety are possible because there is a rational soul. They presuppose the capacity of self-reflection. Only a being capable of contemplating itself can dread annihilation in the face of the infinite, can despair either of itself or of its destiny.”

— Both quotes from “Peace of Soul,” Chapter 2, By Fulton J. Sheen, first published in 1949.


The most often repeated instruction to man in the Holy Scripture is: “Do not be afraid.”

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Nada Te Turbe (Let nothing disturb you)
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa of Avila


Raising Kids With Religion Or Spirituality May Protect Their Mental Health: Study

A new study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that kids and teens who are raised with religious or spiritual practices tend to have better health and mental health as they age. But not to worry if you’re not a service-attender. The research, published last week in the American Journal of Epidemiology, finds that people who prayed or meditated on their own time also reaped similar benefits, including lower risk of substance abuse and depression later on.

The team looked at data from 5,000 people taking part in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study II and its next generation Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). They were interested in whether the frequency with which a child/teen attended religious services with their parents or prayed/meditated on their own was correlated with their health and mental health as they grew into their 20s. The young people were followed for anywhere from eight to 14 years.

It turned out that those who attended religious services at least once a week as children or teens were about 18% more likely to report being happier in their 20s than those who never attended services. They were also almost 30% more likely to do volunteer work and 33% less likely to use drugs in their 20s as well.

But what was interesting was that it wasn’t just about how much a person went to services, but it was at least as much about how much they prayed or meditated in their own time. Those who prayed or meditated every day also had more life satisfaction, were better able to process emotions, and were more forgiving compared to those who never prayed/meditated. They were also less likely to have sex at an earlier age and to have a sexually transmitted infection.

“These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices,” said study author Ying Chen. “Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being.”

Previous studies have suggested similar connections—for instance, that people who are more religious are often happier, and that people who believe in something greater than themselves are more resilient to stress. Other work has shown that in meditation and in prayer, the “me” centers of the brain—those that are active when you’re thinking self-referential worry-based thoughts—quiet down, and areas involved in perceiving the external world as “other” also deactivate. This might suggest that at least one way in which religion/spirituality benefits mental health is to reduce our tendency to think about ourselves and at the same time dissolve our sense of separateness.

And as most people know, there’s also a huge body of research showing what meditation itself does for the brain and for mental health, from reducing symptoms of depression to increasing attention and creativity. Additionally, other research has shown that experiencing awe, spending time in nature, and spending time in silence are all linked to greater happiness and well-being, through mechanisms that are very likely related to those in the current study.

One drawback of the new study was that although it tried to control for socioeconomic status and other confounding variables, most people in the study were white, female, and of higher socioeconomic status. The study would need to be repeated in a more diverse population to see whether the phenomenon holds for other demographics.

In the meantime, the research definitely hints that we might want to take a little time to meditate or pray, whatever that might look like for you. Even if you’re not religious in the classic sense, just observing something bigger than you—perhaps nature or the night sky—might tap into the same mechanism. Like many other studies, the new one also suggests that some of the fundamental habits that humans have been doing for eons (praying, meditating) might actually have a lot more value than we tend to think.

Why is the Bible so offensive?

August 18, 2018

Would you believe it if I told you the mere sight of the Bible is offensive to some people?

Image may contain: one or more people

Floyd Richardson holds his bible during a service for the National Day of Prayer in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. on May 4, 2017. (Nick Tomecek / Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

Would you believe it if I told you the mere sight of the Bible is offensive to some people?

This week, my church is holding its SoCal Harvest event for the 29th year in a row. Formerly known as Harvest Crusade, this annual gathering is one of the largest evangelical outreach events in the world. As many as 100,000 people will fill Angel Stadium this evening and the following two days, and a good portion of them will find hope, purpose and meaning for their lives.

Some people are pretty upset about SoCal Harvest. Not because of anything I just mentioned, but because, in a series of billboards we use to promote the event, there’s a photo of me holding a Bible.

A real estate company that owns one of the most popular malls in Southern California said it received multiple complaints from people who found the image of the Bible offensive, and at least one “serious threat.” The Bible disturbed people so much that one local business felt forced to remove the ads completely.

It’s often said that a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn’t. What’s offensive about that?

Apparently, in our intolerant culture, we no longer can display the Bible in public.

The art in question was a tribute to my hero and mentor, the late Rev. Billy Graham, who often lifted the Bible high over his head as he preached to stadiums full of people. We hold the Bible high, just like Billy did, because it has changed our lives. The same is true for millions of other people; and it has been true for centuries.

Harvard, Yale and a number of the other original nine colonial colleges in America were established by people who believed in the Bible. The Salvation Army, which has helped countless vulnerable people, was started by a man who believed in the Bible and lived accordingly. The abolitionist movement was led by men and women who believed the words in the Bible and took them to heart. And let’s not forget Martin Luther King Jr., whose celebrated speeches, which in many ways were really sermons, are now enshrined in our collective consciousness.

And yet, here we are, having to tiptoe around some who find it offensive.

Most of us know that the Bible is a powerful book. When we swear people into office or take their testimony in a court of law, we often ask them put one hand on the Bible. When a couple is married, a child is born or a loved one passes, many of us write their names in family Bibles.

We can find Bibles in nearly every hotel room in America, and most Americans have at least one Bible in their home. In fact, 80% of Americans, including 71% of college graduates, believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.

At the same time, there is a significant disconnect. Half of those who claim to read the Bible aren’t able to name the four Gospels in the New Testament. (The names are not John, Paul, George and Ringo.) SoCal Harvest exists in large part to help bridge this disconnect for as many people as possible.

We believe the Bible is God’s love letter to humanity. It’s for people who do not want to be controlled by their passions; people who do not want so much pain in life; and people who want better relationships with others. The Bible is for people who want to know the purpose of this life and enter Heaven in the next one.

As a 17-year-old kid searching for meaning and strung out on drugs, I heard the words in the Bible and began a transformation that changed the course of my life. Forty years later, when my son Christopher died suddenly in a car crash at the age of 33, the Bible became much more than a book to me. It was my lifeline.

It’s often said that a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn’t. What’s offensive about that?

Pastor Greg Laurie is the senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. He is the author of more than 70 books, the host of the national radio broadcast “A New Beginning” and the founder of Harvest Crusades.


Is Liberal Racism a Horse of a Different Color?

August 8, 2018

Bigotry is bigotry, whether systemic, as at Harvard, or idiosyncratic, like Sarah Jeong’s Twitter feed.

One of the gates to Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., June 18
One of the gates to Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., June 18 PHOTO: BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

Be honest. Are you really surprised that the New York Times has stood by its decision to hire Sarah Jeong as an editorial board member even after it was revealed she spent years on social media making openly racist and sexist remarks about white men? You may be outraged, sure. But surprised?

To paraphrase a well-known political figure, Ms. Jeong could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot a white person without losing the support of liberals. It’s a safe bet she was tapped by the Times because of these racial prejudices, not despite them. Editorial board members are hired to help formulate and express the official position of a newspaper. Ms. Jeong is being hired to speak for the Times, and they like where she’s coming from.

The Grey Lady attacks President Trump as a racist and sexist on a near-daily basis, and columnists like Charles Blow write about little else. So is it hypocritical for the paper to hire and defend a new editorial board member who has made no secret of her own biases? Of course it is, but that’s considered beside the point by people who share Ms. Jeong’s worldview.

The liberals who control most major media outlets specialize in applying different standards to different groups. Like the Times, Twitter had no problem with Ms. Jeong’s repugnant observations. Scores of tweets that included offensive phrases—“#cancelwhitepeople”; “are White people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun?”; “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along”—didn’t faze Jack Dorsey’s content monitors. But when conservative activist Candace Owens decided last weekend to reproduce Ms. Jeong’s posts and replace “white” with “black” or “Jewish,” Twitter temporarily suspended her account. Following a backlash, Twitter restored the account and claimed that “we made an error.”

Of course, the Times can hire whomever it pleases. But if it’s going to give the likes of Ms. Jeong a pass while lecturing us about growing intolerance on the political right, how seriously should readers take the paper’s nonstop Trump-is-a-bigot coverage? The president’s attacks on the media are often misguided and overstated—his daughter Ivanka is right; we’re not the enemy of the people—but major news outlets are doing plenty to erode public confidence in the news without any help from Mr. Trump.

Welcome to another example of the left’s inconsistency on race. If the goal is a postracial America, why does racial identity continue to be liberalism’s overriding obsession? Why is racism viewed as something to redirect rather than end outright? If you’re situated on the progressive left, racist views are OK to harbor so long as they’re targeted at the right groups for the proper reasons?

At Harvard, Asian students are currently out of favor among administrators for the sin of taking up too many slots in the freshman class. America’s most prestigious university, a bastion of liberal thinking, is being sued by Asian students for discrimination. Harvard wants a certain racial balance on campus, and Asians are getting in the way by academically outperforming applicants from other groups. The nerve.

Harvard can no longer credibly deny that it’s engaging in systematic racial discrimination. Internal documents that the school has been forced to disclose to fight the litigation suggest that Harvard is doing what has long been rumored. Nonetheless, school officials justify these racially biased practices. They insist, like Ms. Jeong and her defenders, that such bigotry is in the service of a noble cause. Unlike you or me, Harvard knows how to discriminate the “right” way.

Prior to World War II, and long before Harvard and other Ivy League schools had an “Asian problem,” the concern was too many Jews on the quad. The parallels are instructive. “Jewish students outperformed their Gentile classmates by a considerable margin,” writes Jerome Karabel in his 2005 book, “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.”

Then as now, the schools came up with ways to overcome that reality by de-emphasizing objective admissions criteria. Jews were less likely to participate in athletics or belong to social clubs other than Jewish fraternities, both of which were deemed “character” flaws for the purpose of bringing the “Jewish invasion” under control. These days, Asian applicants to Harvard receive consistently low “personal” ratings, which are then used to undercut their academic achievements under Harvard’s “holistic” assessment of their worthiness.

So long as the goal is not to level the playing field but to tilt it in a different direction, expect history to continue repeating itself.

Appeared in the August 8, 2018, print edition.


The soft bigotry of the New York Times — Identity politics and racism

Trump Administration to Rescind Obama-Era Guidelines on Race in College Admissions

July 3, 2018

Documents sought to help colleges consider race to promote diversity

The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings. Pictured here is Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings. Pictured here is Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. PHOTO: ELISE AMENDOLA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is planning to rescind Tuesday a set of Obama-era policy documents that encourage the use of race in college admissions to promote diverse educational settings, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The move comes as the Justice Department is investigating whether Harvard University is illegally discriminating against Asian-American students by holding them to a higher standard in its admissions process. The administration revived the probe last year after Obama civil rights officials dismissed a similar complaint.

The documents, issued jointly by the Obama Justice and Education departments, laid out legal recommendations for schools looking to use race as an admissions factor to boost diversity at their schools.

Trump administration officials plan to argue that the documents, published in 2011 and 2016, go beyond Supreme Court precedent on the issue and mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than what the law allows.

Anurima Bargava, who headed civil rights enforcement in schools under Mr. Obama’s Justice Department, disagreed with that assessment, saying the documents simply offered guidelines to schools and colleges looking to continue using affirmative action legally. She said the current administration’s action signals that it doesn’t favor racial diversity.

“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” she said. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”

Administration officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The move comes as a lawsuit is unfolding in federal court against Harvard, in which the Justice Department has previously filed a so-called statement of interest.

The suit, filed in 2014 by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. It is expected to go to trial in October.

The action to rescind the documents is likely to escalate a long-running national debate over the role of race in college admissions, an issue the U.S. Supreme Court has revisited on several occasions since the 1970s.

In 2016, the high court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision, but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying universities must continue to review their affirmative-action policies to assess their positive and negative effects.

Mr. Kennedy has since announced his retirement, and advocates on both sides say his successor, to be nominated soon by President Donald Trump, may take a different view on the practice as the Harvard case wends its way through the courts.

Harvard has previously said its admissions process is consistent with the legal precedents set over the past 40 years by the Supreme Court, which have allowed universities to consider race as a factor in admissions to obtain the benefits of a diverse student body.

In court filings published last month as part of its continuing litigation, the university revealed that Asian-American applicants on average had higher academic marks and received higher scores from alumni interviews than other racial groups. But on a “personal” score that admissions officers used to gauge applicants’ character, Asian students scored the lowest.

Write to Michelle Hackman at

Alan Dershowitz: Debating the anti-Semitic BDS ‘movement’ with Cornel West

January 1, 2018
I recently debated Professor Cornel West of Harvard about the boycott movement against Israel. The topic was resolved: “The boycott, divestiture and sanctions movement will help bring about the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”West argued that Israel was a “colonialist-settler” state and that apartheid in the West Bank was “worse” than it was in white-ruled South Africa and should be subject to the same kind of economic and cultural isolation that helped bring about the fall of that regime.

I replied that the Jews who emigrated to Israel — a land in which Jews have lived continuously for thousands of years — were escaping from the countries that persecuted them, not acting as colonial settlers for those countries. Indeed, Israel fought against British colonial rule. Zionism was the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, not a colonial enterprise. Nor is Israel in any way like South Africa, where a minority of whites ruled over a majority of Blacks, who were denied the most fundamental human rights. In Israel, Arabs, Druze, and Christians have equal rights and serve in high positions in government, business, the arts, and academia. Jews were a majority in Israel, both when the U.S. divided mandatory Palestine (Eretz Yisrael) into “two states for two people,” and at present, although the Arab population has increased considerably since 1948. Even the situation on the West Bank — where Palestinians have the right to vote for their leaders and criticize Israel, and where in cities such as Ramallah there is no Israeli military or police presence — the situation is no way comparable to apartheid South Africa.

West then argued that BDS was a non-violent movement that was the best way to protest Israel’s “occupation” and settlement policies.

I responded that BDS is not a “movement” — a movement requires universality, like the feminist, gay rights, and civil rights movements. BDS is an anti-Semitic tactic directed only against the Jewish citizens and supporters of Israel. The boycott against Israel and its Jewish supporters (to many Palestinians, all of Israel is one big “settlement;” just look at any map of Palestine) began before any “occupation” or “settlements” and picked up steam just as Israel offered to end the “occupation” and settlements as part of a two-state solution that the Palestinians rejected. BDS is not a protest against Israel’s policies. It is a protest against Israel’s very existence.

West argued that BDS would help the Palestinians. I argued that it has hurt them by causing unemployment among Palestinian workers in companies such as SodaStream, which was pressured to move out of the West Bank, where it paid high wages to Palestinian men and women who worked side by side with Israeli men and women. I explained that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is opposed to broad boycotts of Israeli products, artists, and academics.

West argued that BDS would encourage Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. I replied that Israel would never be blackmailed into compromising its security, and that the Palestinians are disincentivized into making compromises by the fantasy that they will get a state through economic and cultural extortion. The Palestinians will get a state only by sitting down and negotiating directly with Israel. I told my mother’s favorite joke about Sam, an Orthodox Jew, who prayed every day to win the N.Y. Lottery before he turned 80. On his 80th birthday, he complains to God that he hasn’t won. God replies, “Sam, help me out a little — buy a ticket.” I argued that the Palestinians expect to “win” a state without “buying a ticket” — sitting down to negotiate a compromise solution.

The debate in its entirety, which was conducted in front of an audience of business people in Dallas as part of the “Old Parkland Debate Series,” continued with broad arguments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the refugee situation, the peace process, terrorism, and other familiar issues. It can be seen in full on C-SPAN. I think it is worth watching.

The audience voted twice, once before the debate and once after. The final tally was 129 opposed to BDS and 16 in favor. The vote before the debate was 93 opposed and 14 in favor. I swayed 36 votes. West swayed 2. The anti-BDS position won overwhelmingly, not because I am a better debater than West — he is quite articulate and everyone watching the C-SPAN can judge for themselves who is the better debater — but because the facts, the morality, and the practicalities are against BDS.

The important point is never to give up on making the case against unjust tactics being employed against Israel. In some forums — at the United Nations, at numerous American university campuses, in some parts of Western Europe — it is an uphill battle. But it is a battle that can be won among open-minded people of all backgrounds. BDS lost in Dallas. BDS lost in a debate between me and an articulate human rights activist at the Oxford Union. BDS is losing in legislative chambers. And if the case is effectively and honestly presented, it will lose in the court of public opinion.

Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of “Trumped up! How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy.” This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read ourguidelines on submissions here.


Free speech in the digital age: Prager University sues YouTube in free-speech case

October 24, 2017

Conservative nonprofit says site is restricting its content and infringing First Amendment rights

Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum.
Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum. PHOTO: MICHAEL SHORT/BLOOMBERG NEWS

LOS ANGELES—Prager University, a nonprofit that produces short, educational videos from conservative perspectives, is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, claiming the tech giant is illegally censoring some of its content as part of a wider effort to silence conservative voices.

A lawsuit filed Monday evening in federal court in San Francisco says YouTube’s more than 30 million visitors a day make the site so elemental to free speech in the digital age that it should be treated as a public forum. The suit argues the site must use the “laws governing free speech,” not its own discretion, to make decisions about what to censor.

The nonprofit, known as PragerU, alleges that by limiting access to some of its videos without clear criteria YouTube is infringing on PragerU’s First Amendment rights.

YouTube said it didn’t have immediate comment because it hadn’t yet reviewed the suit. The site is owned by Google, part of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -1.94%

The suit heightens a debate over tech companies’ increasing influence on public opinion and how they should police content on their sites. With the internet enabling the spread of misinformation, hate speech and foreign propaganda—especially around the 2016 U.S. election—politicians, academics and the media are increasing scrutiny on the role a handful of tech giants play in modern society.

Since last year, more than three dozen PragerU videos—on subjects including the Korean War and Israel and Palestine—have been restricted by YouTube. As a result, those who use YouTube in “restricted mode,” including students at some universities and children whose parents have put parental control filters in place, are prevented from seeing the videos; all potential ad revenue from the videos is also cut off.

YouTube hasn’t pulled the videos from the default version of its website or mobile app, which are how the vast majority of users access videos.

YouTube has long championed itself as an open platform for ideas and is more often criticized for its reluctance or delay in removing objectionable content. “We believe everyone should have a voice,” YouTube said in a blog post in March. “Since our founding, free expression has been one of our core values.”

PragerU’s suit fits into more recent criticism from YouTube-video creators of the site’s push to remove ads from certain videos—prompted by a backlash from advertisers.

“There’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against,” YouTube said in the March post.

PragerU was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager in 2011.

In email exchanges with PragerU, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, YouTube declined to offer specific explanations about why most of the videos were restricted, saying that they “aren’t appropriate for younger audiences.”

In those emails, a YouTube representative told PragerU officials that some of the videos that were censored were reviewed “manually” by humans, not solely by an automated system.

One of the videos that was initially restricted by YouTube featured Kimberley Strassel, a Wall Street Journal columnist who writes for the Journal’s opinion pages. The restriction of the video was later lifted.

The lawsuit lists videos on similar subjects by other content creators—including Al Jazeera and The Daily Show—which weren’t restricted, and argues that PragerU was targeted solely for its conservative views.

“Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU,” the complaint says.

The suit escalates a battle between YouTube and content creators over how much control the tech giant should exercise over what is posted on the site.

YouTube faced a firestorm earlier this year when news reports revealed the site was running ads on extremist and racist videos, causing a series of big brands to pull spending from the site.

The backlash prompted YouTube to better police content on its sites, pull more ads from “hateful, offensive and derogatory” videos and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. Those changes include technology to automatically screen videos as well as more human reviewers to pull ads from objectionable videos.

Some advertisers still remained off the site even months after the changes.

As a result, many of YouTube’s most popular video creators have complained of a drop in their ad revenues.

There are also signs that YouTube is trying to move away from the fringe content that attracts many of its viewers—but also creates headaches with advertisers. After searches on YouTube about the mass shooting this month in Las Vegas surfaced videos peddling conspiracy theories, the site said it was tweaking its search algorithm to promote more authoritative news sources.

The lawsuit alleges that the criteria YouTube uses to restrict videos is so broad that it effectively allows the company unfettered discretion, with no objective standard at all.

In addition, the suit says that the standards the company does use are being applied unfairly to PragerU.

Pete Wilson, a former governor of California who is representing PragerU in the suit, said the restrictions on the nonprofit’s videos were part of a wider effort to limit conservative speech.

“Just as on many college campuses, there has been a refusal to allow conservatives to speak,” Mr. Wilson said. He added of YouTube, “They have incredible reach, and that really sets them apart from almost any other entity.”

Write to Ian Lovett at and Jack Nicas at



Image result for hands tied by computer cord, photos

Google/YouTube vs. Conservative Speech 

By Dennis Prager

Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to our universities?

Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote the following editorial about YouTube restricting access to 16 videos — down from 21 — created and posted online by my non-profit educational organization, Prager University: “YouTube thinks Dennis Prager’s videos may be dangerous.”

Tech giants like Google and Facebook always deny that their platforms favor some viewpoints over others, but then they don’t do much to avoid looking censorious. . . .  Dennis Prager’s “PragerU” puts out free short videos on subjects “important to understanding American values” — ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State. The channel has more than 130 million views. . . . As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content.

But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube. . . . This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering — say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” . . .  PragerU started a petition calling for YouTube to remove the restriction, and more than 66,000 people have signed.

“YouTube is free to set its own standards,” the editorial concluded, “but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for ‘free expression.’” It is a good sign that Google/YouTube’s censorship of respectful, utterly non-violent and non-sexual videos made it to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is very bad sign that it had to.

And it is a very bad sign that it made the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, but not the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, or any other mainstream newspaper that still purports to support the classic liberal value of free speech.

To understand what Google/YouTube has done, it is necessary to briefly describe what it has restricted access to. Every week, PragerU (the generally used name for Prager University) posts at least one five-minute video presentation online.

These presentations are on just about every subject and are given by important thinkers — some very well-known, some not. The list includes dozens of professors at, among other universities, MIT, Notre Dame, Princeton, Dayton, Boston College, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, and West Point; a black member of the South African Parliament; comedians Adam Carolla and Yakov Smirnoff; two former prime ministers (Spain and Denmark); three Pulitzer Prize winners (George Will, Bret Stephens, and Judith Miller); Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Arthur Brooks, Jonah Goldberg, Alan Dershowitz, Nicholas Eberstadt, Larry Elder, Steve Forbes, Walter Williams, Christina Hoff Sommers, George Gilder, Victor Davis Hanson; Bjørn Lomborg, Heather Mac Donald, Eric Metaxas, Amity Shlaes, and the commander of British troops in Afghanistan, among many others. I also present some videos.

Any responsible person, left or right, would have to acknowledge that this is a profoundly respectable, non-bomb-throwing list of presenters — hardly conducive to censorship.

What videos did YouTube place restrictions on?

On Race (2): “Are the Police Racist?” “Don’t Judge Blacks Differently”

On Islam (6): “What ISIS Wants” “Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?” “Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do” “Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?” “Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology” “Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?”

On abortion (2 — the only two offered): “Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?” “The Most Important Question about Abortion”

On Israel (2): “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army” “Israel’s Legal Founding” (Alan Dershowitz’s video was reinstated after much publicity) On America (3): “Why Did America Fight the Korean War?” “Did Bush Lie about Iraq?” “What is the University Diversity Scam?”

On politics (1): “Who NOT to Vote For”

On men and women (1): “He Wants You” (a video I present about men and women) Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms’​ that catch violence and sex. Think of these topics and consider the list of presenters. Do you see any violent or sexual content? Do you see anything you wouldn’t want your minor child to view?

The only possible “yes” might be to the video titled “He Wants You.” Though void of any explicit content, it deals with the subject of men looking at other women yet still most wanting their own wives. It has almost 4 million views and has helped a lot of couples. Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms that catch violence and sex.

Rather, Google/YouTube doesn’t want effective (each video has at least 1 million views) conservative videos. Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? They don’t have to. Left-wing viewers simply “flag” our and others’ videos as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest. I have never devoted a column to PragerU. I have done so here because if YouTube gets away with censoring as big a website as PragerU — after a major editorial in the Wall Street Journal and coverage in the New York Post, Boston Globe, Fortune, National Review, and many other places, and a petition signed by over 70,000 people (the petition is at — what will happen to other conservative institutions?

For the probable answer, see your local university.

The question, then, is this: Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to the university?

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at © 2016 Editor’s Note: This article has been emended since its original publication.

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Chinese university to open in Oxford despite ideological crackdown at home

April 6, 2017

Chinese university to open Oxford campus in manor house

Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor near Oxford, cost Peking University nearly £9million

Peking University, perhaps China’s most famous modern seat of learning, has bought a stately home near Oxford to open as a business school next summer.

The move comes as the ruling Communist party seeks to both boost the international profile of Chinese universities and enforce tighter ideological control to ensure they remain party “strongholds”.

Peking University HSBC Business School, based in the city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, paid the Open University £8.8 million to buy Foxcombe Hall at Boars Hill, about four miles southwest of Oxford.

Competing against three other bidders, including an Oxford University college, Peking offered “a very tempting price” that left the seller “little room to say no,” despite Chinese universities having no track record in overseas acquisitions, the business school’s…

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By  in Beijing
The Guardian

One of China’s top universities is preparing to open a campus at the heart of British academic life, just months after President Xi Jinping called for Chinese universities to be transformed into strongholds of Communist party rule.

Peking University, an elite Beijing institution where Mao Zedong once worked as a librarian, will open a branch of its HSBC Business School in Oxford early next year, the respected financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday.

The school is setting up camp in Foxcombe Hall which it recently purchased for a reported £8.8m. The 19th century manor was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.

Peking University said courses at its Oxford campus, which is not connected to the University of Oxford, would focus on “professional knowledge of China’s economy, financial market and corporate management”.

Wen Hai, its dean, said Peking University had beaten off competition from three rivals, including an unnamed Oxford college, by offering a “very tempting price” that left the sellers “little room to say ‘no’’”.

Speaking to Caixin, Wen said the university had been able to do so thanks to its close ties to China’s Communist party. Those connections allowed it to “to expedite the transfer of money transfer needed for the acquisition” despite tight capital controls imposed by Beijing in an attempt to stop firms and citizens shifting large sums of money overseas.

Last summer’s vote to leave the EU, which has seen the pound plummet against the Chinese yuan, will also have helped the buyers.

Peking University will open a campus at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor that was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley.
Peking University will open a campus at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor that was home to the eighth earl of Berkeley. Photograph: peking university hsbc business school​

Caixin said the university’s decision to expand into the “city of dreaming spires” came as Beijing pondered ambitious plans to boost the global standing of China’s top universities. Peking University, currently ranked the world’s 29th best university, had been handed billions of yuan by the government to “improve its research facilities and recruit teaching staff from top universities abroad to boost its international profile”, it said.

Prestigious British schools have set their sights on mainland China over the last 15 years with public schools including Harrow, Dulwich College and Wellington all opening spin-offs. British universities have also made moves into the mainland, where it is now possible to study at campuses operated by the University of Nottingham and the University of Liverpool. Last month the University of Leicester said it would open a campus in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.

Peking University described its Oxford campus, designed for students from both Europe and China, as “a bold step” and “an important milestone for the development of China’s higher education, given its inferior position globally over the past century”.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities,” Lin Jianhua, its president, said in a statement.

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Peking University to open a campus at in Foxcombe Hall. Photograph: peking university hsbc business school​

The acquisition comes a few months after President Xi, whom liberal scholars accuse of presiding over a severe clampdown on freedom of expression, declared Chinese universities should be party “strongholds”.

Echoing a 1932 speech by Joseph Stalin, Xi called teachers “engineers of the human soul” whose “sacred mission” was to help students “improve in ideological quality [and] political awareness”.

Mainland China now has two universities in the world’s top 40, according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Even so, senior Communist party leaders have looked abroad to educate their offspring.

Xi Jinping’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard while Bo Guagua, the son of jailed party chief Bo Xilai, studied PPE at Balliol in Oxford where he built a reputation as an inveterate party animal.

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 (Anyone who criticizes the Chinese government on WeChat is likely to be given special attention)




Earlier this month, my nine-year-old son came home from his bilingual school in Shanghai having vandalized his Mandarin textbook. Under the title of a lesson called “The Bountiful Xisha Islands,” he had scribbled, in pencil, “不好,” or “not good.” The Xisha, or “Western Sands,” are islands in the South China Sea that are known in English as the Paracels. The textbook described the islands, which are located in waters between China and Vietnam, as “cute,” with multicolored coral and plentiful turtles that could be hunted for their valuable shells. The lesson, however, neglected to mention that ownership of the Paracels, like that of many islands in the South China Sea, is in dispute. In 1974, China seized complete control of the Paracel island chain from an overextended South Vietnam. Since then, the Chinese have managed to effectively take control of other shoals and maritime features that are claimed by other countries, like the Philippines. In the past couple of years, Chinese dredgers have transformed contested rocks and reefs into military bases, complete with structures that can house surface-to-air-missile batteries. China’s ambitions in the South China Sea do not revolve around turtles.

As the child of two American journalists living in China, my son has developed a certain kind of awareness. He knows that his parents assume their phones are tapped. At least once, when we were living in Beijing, he was interrogated in Mandarin by a state-security agent, who wanted to know where his mother was. (To my son’s credit, he obfuscated.) Last year, I spent months reporting a storyon the South China Sea—travelling to Philippine-controlled islets in the Spratly Islands, another disputed cluster—so he understands something of the territorial disagreements in question. Perhaps because he is more slender than his brother, he also sympathizes with the little guy. China’s increasingly muscular claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, which conflicts with maritime boundaries drawn by Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, offends his sense of fair play.

Every country’s textbooks reflect national myths while omitting disagreeable truths. But as China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has intensified a crackdown on dissent that human-rights groups describe as the most punitive in decades, these lessons are likely to become even more ideological. In a December speech, Xi vowed to turn schools into “strongholds of Party leadership,” which defend “the correct political direction.” China’s economy is slowing. Without the buoyant growth rates that burnished the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy for a quarter century, Xi seems to hope that flag-waving will unify the populace around its rulers. (In a country governed by a sole party for nearly seven decades, to love China is, in the government’s eyes, to love the Chinese Communist Party.) A similar tactic was used in the days after Army tanks crushed the Tiananmen democracy movement, in 1989. Worried about the ruling party’s image, China’s Education Ministry redoubled efforts in the early nineteen-nineties to infuse textbooks with a kind of defensive nationalism. Only the Chinese Communist Party, textbooks taught, had the fortitude to end a hundred and fifty years of humiliation by foreign invaders.

These days, the message in school remains the same, even if the world in which China exists has changed. In 1989, China was largely closed, an impoverished nation of bicycles and socialist collectives. Today, more than three hundred thousand Chinese students have flocked to U.S. schools, most paying their own way. (Xi’s own daughter studied at Harvard.) At least a hundred and thirty million Chinese tourists ventured beyond mainland China last year. Such cultural cross-pollination made it all the more dissonant when, in December, China’s Education Minister, Chen Baosheng, warned that “schools are the main targets for infiltration by hostile forces.” A year earlier, his predecessor had ordered Chinese universities to “never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes.”

The ideological crusade heightened last week, when Chinese publishers told reporters, including one from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, that they were being forced to slash the number of foreign children’s picture books in their catalogues. Taobao, China’s largest online commerce site, went further, announcing in a statement that, as of March 10th, it was halting resales of all books published overseas. If these latest restrictions are enforced, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Guess How Much I Love You,” two top-selling foreign children’s titles, could become samizdat reading in China.

Barely Half of 30-Year-Olds Earn More Than Their Parents — The American Dream Is Fading

December 9, 2016

As wages stagnate in the middle class, it becomes hard to reverse this trend

 “Many think of the American Dream as ‘earning’ more than their parents, not getting more transfers from the government than their parents.”

A study released Thursday reported that barely half of American 30-year-olds—51%— earned more than their parents did. That’s an enormous decline from the 1970s, when 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents.
A study released Thursday reported that barely half of American 30-year-olds—51%— earned more than their parents did. That’s an enormous decline from the 1970s, when 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents. PHOTO: H. RICK

Updated Dec. 8, 2016 4:43 p.m. ET

Barely half of 30-year-olds earn more than their parents did at a similar age, a research team found, an enormous decline from the early 1970s when the incomes of nearly all offspring outpaced their parents. Even rapid economic growth won’t do much to reverse the trend.

Economists and sociologists from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California set out to measure the strength of what they define as the American Dream, and found the dream was fading. They identified the income of 30-year-olds starting in 1970, using tax and census data, and compared it with the earnings of their parents when they were about the same age.

In 1970, 92% of American 30-year-olds earned more than their parents did at a similar age, they found. In 2014, that number fell to 51%.

“My parents thought that one thing about America is that their kids could do better than they were able to do,” said Raj Chetty, a prominent Stanford University economist who emigrated from India at age 9 and is part of the research team. “That was important in my parents’ decision to come here.”

Although there are many definitions of the American Dream—the freedom to speak your mind, for instance, or the ability to rise from poverty to wealth—the economists chose a measure that they said was possible to define precisely.

The percentage of young adults earning more than their parents dropped precipitously from 1970 to about 1992, to 58%, found Mr. Chetty, Maximilian Hell and David Grusky of Stanford University, Nathaniel Hendren and Robert Manduca of Harvard University, and Jimmy Narang of the University of California at Berkeley.

The percentage steadied for around a decade and plunged again starting in 2002, according to the economists.

The paper doesn’t provide specific reasons for the declining fortunes of younger Americans, but it generally blames the slowdown in economic growth and, especially, the widening income gap between the wealthy and the rest of society.

“Wages have stagnated in the middle class,” said Mr. Chetty in an interview. “When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.”

Mr. Chetty, 37, has explored poverty and income mobility in a series of papers that have gained widespread attention across the political spectrum. His research finds that upward mobility depends heavily on government policies, a position common among Democrats, as well as on neighborhood churches and two-parent families, as Republicans often argue.

In his current work, he and his co-authors found that the declining ability of children to outearn their parents is greatest in the Midwest, an industrial region that has been battered by greater import competition, especially from Japan and China, and by technological changes. When looking only at males nationally, the decline is even starker. As of 2014, only 41% of 30-year-old men earned more than their fathers at a similar age.

Reversing the trend will be very difficult, the economists found. If income distribution remains as tilted toward the wealthy as it is now, they calculate, it would take sustained growth of more than 6% a year, adjusted for inflation, to return to an era where nearly all children outearned their parents. Since World War II, the U.S. hasn’t experienced anything near that level of growth for a lengthy period of time.

Even growing at 3.8% annually—about what Donald Trump pledges to produce as president—would only increase the percentage of children able to outearn their parents to 62% from 51%. Many economists are skeptical that the U.S. can grow anywhere near that level and is more likely to grow at around 2% a year.

Wages have stagnated in the middle class. When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.

—Raj Chetty of Stanford, part of the research team

Mr. Chetty and Mr. Hendren urged the U.S. to take greater measures to reduce income inequality and make sure more of the benefits of economic growth go to the middle class and the poor. Such measures can include increasing payments to the working poor under the earned-income tax credit, improving education, starting with elementary schools, and helping poor families move to higher-mobility areas.

“You need to improve the education and the environmental opportunities for kids while they are growing up,” said Mr. Hendren.

Revamping the tax code so that it taxes the wealthy far more heavily and gives bigger breaks to those in the middle class and below could also work, said Mr. Chetty, but he doesn’t advocate that strategy.

“It’s actually not clear to me that a more progressive tax code is necessarily the solution,” Mr. Chetty said.

“Many think of the American Dream as ‘earning’ more than their parents, not getting more transfers from the government than their parents.”

Write to Bob Davis at

In a World Consumed By Terror Killings, Christians Are Called to Be Steadfast In Their Beliefs — There Is The Sanctity of God in Every Human Being and “Your life does not belong to you.”

August 22, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron
September 16, 2015

Viktor M. Vasnetsov (1848–1926), “God of Hosts”


It was revealed this week that, for the first time in its history, Harvard University, which had been founded for religious purposes and named for a minister of the Gospel, has admitted a freshman class in which atheists and agnostics outnumber professed Christians and Jews. Also this week, the House and the Senate of California passed a provision that allows for physician assisted suicide in the Golden State. As I write these words, the governor of California is deliberating whether to sign the bill into law. Though it might seem strange to suggest as much, I believe that the make-up of the Harvard freshman class and the passing of the suicide law are really related.
I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that non-believers have come to outnumber believers among the rising cohort of the American aristocracy. For the whole of their lives, these young people have been immersed in the corrosive acids of relativism, scientism, and materialism. Though they have benefitted from every advantage that money can afford, they have been largely denied what the human heart most longs for: contact with the transcendent, with the good, true, and beautiful in their properly unconditioned form. But as Paul Tillich, echoing the Hebrew prophets, reminded us, we are built for worship, and therefore in the absence of God, we will make some other value our ultimate concern. Wealth, power, pleasure, and honor have all played the role of false gods over the course of the human drama, but today especially, freedom itself has emerged as the ultimate good, as the object of worship. And what this looks like on the ground is that our lives come to belong utterly to us, that we become great projects of self-creation and self-determination.
As the Bible tells it, the human project went off the rails precisely at the moment when Adam arrogated to himself the prerogative of determining the meaning of his life, when he, in the agelessly beautiful poetry of the book of Genesis, ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Read the chapters that immediately follow the account of the Fall, and you will discover the consequences of this deified freedom: jealousy, hatred, fratricide, imperialism, and the war of all against all. The rest of the Biblical narrative can be interpreted as God’s attempt to convince human beings that their lives, in point of fact, do not belong to them. He did this precisely by choosing a people whom he would form after his own mind and heart, teaching them how to think, how to behave, and above all, how to worship. This holy people Israel – a word that means, marvelously, “the one who wrestles with God” – would then, by the splendor of their way of life, attract the rest of the world. On the Christian reading, this project reached its climax in the person of Jesus Christ, a first-century Israelite from the town of Nazareth, who was also the Incarnation of the living God. The coming-together of divinity and humanity, the meeting of infinite and finite freedom, Jesus embodies what God intended for us from the beginning.
And this is precisely why Paul, one of Jesus’ first missionaries, announced him as Kyrios (Lord) to all the nations, and why he characterized himself as doulos Christou Iesou (a slave of Christ Jesus). Paul exulted in the fact that his life did not belong to him, but rather to Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “there is a power already at work in you that can do infinitely more than you can ask or imagine.” He was referencing the Holy Spirit, which orders our freedom and which opens up possibilities utterly beyond our capacities. To follow the promptings of this Spirit is, for Paul and for all the Biblical authors, the source of life, joy, and true creativity.
All of which brings me back to Harvard and legalized suicide. The denial of God – or the blithe bracketing of the question of God – is not a harmless parlor game. Rather, it carries with it the gravest implications. If there is no God, then our lives do indeed belong to us, and we can do with them what we want. If there is no God, our lives have no ultimate meaning or transcendent purpose, and they become simply artifacts of our own designing. Accordingly, when they become too painful or too shallow or just too boring, we ought to have the prerogative to end them. We can argue the legalities and even the morality of assisted suicide until the cows come home, but the real issue that has to be engaged is that of God’s existence.
The incoming freshman class at Harvard is a disturbing omen indeed, for the more our society drifts into atheism, the more human life is under threat. The less we are willing even to wrestle with God, the more de-humanized we become.
 (Those words, spoken to an advocate of sex, drugs and rock and roll, changed everything)

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Catholic Church Teaching on Human Life and Suicide:

 (AGED 19)




Worrying claim: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ¿death pathway¿ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly

Worrying claim in Britain: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly


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“The Catholic Guide to Depression,” by Aaron Kheriaty, MD and Fr. John Cihak, STD.

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  1. We Pray and Meditate
  2. We study (spiritual works, like the scripture)
  3. We pour ourselves out in loving service to others
  4. We evangelize. A Christians talks about his faith — he is not ashamed. A person in AA or another 12 Step recovery program, does 12 Step work.

Many people have said to us that the four signs of a “dynamic Catholic” are also the characteristics of many Christians of all denominations and people in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.