March 30, 2014

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled that football players at Northwestern were "employees" and could therefore form a union. To some, the ruling was not a step toward a more equitable system, but a dangerous, unnecessary precedent.

To wit, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins argued in a Sunday op-ed that the issue hinges on the "specious premise" that college athletes are "exploited and aggrieved" in the first place. Right from the outset then, her whole argument is total bunk.

You can quibble all you want about whether student athletes are exploited, but there is no question a bunch of them are "aggrieved." The mere fact that Northwestern players are pursuing the issue so stridently is proof of that. And then there's the class-action lawsuit filed by former UCLA hoops star Ed O'Bannon, who is challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes. So yes, I'd say that settles the "aggrieved" question.

Yet you may not have even made it that far into the article after stumbling over its first, puzzling line:

It's hard to view Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter as the Che Guevara of college sports once you learn that he interned at Goldman Sachs. [Washington Post]

I don't even know where to begin. Is Jenkins arguing that financial internships preclude you from joining a union? Is she forgetting that Guevara was a medical student before he became a revolutionary? And is it really apt to liken literal revolution to college football?

To her credit, Jenkins raises many legitimate questions about student-athlete unionization, such as whether members would pay dues, and who all could join. But to simply throw up your hands and declare, "It's not looking out for college athletes to open the Pandora's box of employment and unionization," as Jenkins does, is a lazy attempt to ignore the problem. College athlete unionization will of course be problematic. It will of course raise thorny questions, experience hiccups, and need to be fine-tuned. But just because it will be a difficult process doesn't mean it isn't worth pursuing, especially since it would end an exploitative system that is at best cabalistic, and at worst racist.

It's not looking out for college athletes to dismiss their grievances simply because you don't know how to resolve them. Jon Terbush

12:14 p.m. ET
Mahmud Turkia/Getty Images

Libyan fighters announced Saturday they have freed 13 foreign captives held by the Islamic State — 11 from Eritrea and one each from Turkey and Egypt — in the seaside city of Sirte, which has long been the center of ISIS activity in Libya.

The pro-government Libyan forces have been fighting to take Sirte for six months with the assistance of American air strikes. Libya's fate will not be determined even if ISIS is eradicated in the North African country, as a diversity of rival factions will still compete for power in the vacuum left by the removal of strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

In the meantime, Libya remains a departure point for thousands of migrants fleeing violence for the refuge of Europe. On Friday and Saturday, rescue workers based out of Italy saved more than 3,300 migrants off the coast of Libya, many attempting to make the Mediterranean crossing in flimsy rubber boats. An unknown number of migrants also drowned. Bonnie Kristian

11:41 a.m. ET
AFP/Getty Images

You've probably seen them in your Facebook feed: the amusing sentences your friends got their smartphones to "write" simply by selecting the middle of three suggested words in their phone's autocomplete function over and over. The results rarely make much sense.

But that didn't stop an academic paper written entirely via iPhone autocomplete from being accepted by a scientific conference just three hours after submission. A New Zealand professor named Christoph Bartneck received an invitation to submit a paper to a nuclear physics gathering, but he's not a physicist. So instead he wrote an entire "study" using text predictions on his iPhone. He'd begin a sentence with a word like "atomic" or "nuclear" and let iOS take it from there.

"The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids," his abstract said. Bartneck suspects the conference is not of high academic caliber and will not attend. Bonnie Kristian

11:17 a.m. ET

Speaking at a campaign rally in Fletcher, North Carolina, Friday afternoon, Donald Trump complained about Hillary Clinton's extensive negative ads against him, which he says are full of lies and yet raising the Clinton campaign "billions of dollars." (Counting PAC money, which is legally separate from the official campaign, Clinton has raised just over $1 billion to Trump's $700 million.)

He also chafed at his staff's messaging recommendations, and described his affection for denial. "I won't go into things because my people go crazy," Trump said. "They say, 'Don't be particular, just' — I like to deny things. Like, I like to deny — because — but they say, 'Oh, talk about jobs.' But these things [in Clinton's ads] are so false. All of these things, they're so false. They're such lies."

With "Hillary, it’s ad after ad after ad — all paid for by Wall Street and special interests," Trump added, predicting he will win Florida despite Clinton's ad saturation in the state. Watch Trump's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:59 a.m. ET
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The two Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers responsible for the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark followed proper procedure and will not face disciplinary action, the Minneapolis police department chief said Friday.

An internal investigation ruled the officers were in the right when they used deadly force against the 24-year-old black man this past November. "We're disappointed, of course," said the Clark family attorney, Albert Goins. "But we're somewhat flabbergasted by that because I know the standard is fairly low to have…an officer incur discipline."

The circumstances of Clark's death were much debated and the subject of Black Lives Matter protests last fall. The officers were attempting to arrest Clark for interfering with paramedics' treatment of a woman, at which point one of the cops says Clark tried to take and use his gun, provoking the officers' escalation as a means of self defense. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m. ET
Marwan Ibrahim/Getty Images

Islamic State militants rounded up and murdered 284 men and boys on Thursday and Friday in Mosul, Iraq, an intelligence source told CNN, as Iraqi and American forces continue to make their approach to retake the town. Mosul is the last major city ISIS controls in Iraq, and those killed in this mass slaughter were previously used as human shields by ISIS terrorists attempting to retain territory in the area. CNN's source says all the victims were shot and buried in a mass grave at a former university.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq to monitor Mosul's progress. Carter's trip marks the sixth day of the campaign and includes plans to meet with Iraqi officials to assess the situation.

In better news greeting the secretary on the ground, Iraqi forces on Saturday successfully reclaimed a village outside Mosul that is predominantly populated by Iraq's persecuted Christian minority. The village was under ISIS control since 2014.

For more on the Mosul campaign, read the The Week's rundown of everything you need to know. Bonnie Kristian

8:48 a.m. ET

WikiLeaks said its supporters are responsible for the massive cyberattack Friday which took down numerous major websites, including The New York Times, Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, Comcast, and more. "Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing," the organization wrote to hackers involved in the incident in a tweet Friday afternoon, asking for the widespread denial of service attacks to cease.

Also Friday afternoon, hacktivist groups Anonymous and New World confirmed the tweet's implications, saying they orchestrated the attack as retaliation for the Ecuadorian government's decision to take away internet access from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange following his site's ongoing release of emails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the attacks. Bonnie Kristian

8:28 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters were partially evacuated Friday night after a mailed envelope containing a mysterious white powder was discovered. New York City law enforcement investigated the substance and determined it was not hazardous, though its exact nature has not been released.

The investigation is now ongoing and the sender has yet to be identified. None of the four campaign staffers who had contact with the powder have reported any symptoms of illness.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, similar envelopes of white powder mailed to multiple locations around the United States were found to contain spores of anthrax, a potentially deadly bacteria. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads