Tuesday evening's hullabaloo centered around an incident at Georgia's Emory University, in which someone wrote "Trump 2016" in chalk all over the college campus. The ensuing panic among students became the subject of ridicule by everyone from Gawker ("these kids are extreme weenie babies") to New York ("College can be a stressful period").
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) March 22, 2016
Emory University President James Wagner was further mocked after he promised to review security footage in order to catch the Trump-supporting chalk-vandal. "Your 'unexpected' chalker is engaging in a political debate that will continue through the first Tuesday in November. It is an important and necessary debate. Deal with it, or get thee to a monastery," the Atlanta Journal Constitution jeered.
Others, however, think the students protesting the slogans have a point:
Libertarian writer Jeffrey Tucker was present on campus earlier this week, when the messages first appeared. He told me that I was wrong to mock legitimate criticisms of the "Trump 2016" scrawlings, which he characterized as vandalism of private property. The campus is a fairly apolitical place and the Trump messages were widely perceived as racial intimidation against the campus's significant minority population — not mere political advocacy — according to Tucker.
"It was like cross burning," Tucker told me. "It was on private property. It was extremely damaging and the students and faculty were totally embarrassed... it was absolutely intended to intimidate everyone and it worked." [Reason.com]
Trump is undoubtedly a divisive figure — and one everyone has an opinion of. Emory's saga is likely far from over. Jeva Lange
Ben Carson is certain that his mother would not have taken kindly to how "dishonest reporters" covered his bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year. In fact, in response to a question on CBS Radio's Brown and Scoop podcast about what his mom, Sonya, would've thought about her son running for president, Carson said Wednesday he thinks she might have chosen to exercise her Second Amendment rights.
"She has Alzheimer's," Carson said, correcting the question's implication that his mother was dead. "She's not really cognizant of that, which is a good thing because my mother is really a fighter. She probably would have taken a gun and gone out and shot some of the dishonest reporters."
In case that quote doesn't make it clear, Carson seems to think that the media was one of the reasons his campaign ended when it did. He pointed out that "one of the reasons that our founders said that our system and our freedom depends on a well-informed and educated populace is because they recognize that if people were not well-informed and well-educated, they can be easily manipulated by a dishonest media." Carson concluded: "That's exactly what happens in our society today."
Listen to the interview, below. Becca Stanek
While it is still uncertain which terrorist organization targeted Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Tuesday, killing at least 41 when three suicide bombers detonated at a security checkpoint, many current indications point to the Islamic State. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio might agree: After all, he predicted such a large-scale ISIS attack in Turkey just two days before the bombings.
On Sunday, appearing on Face the Nation, Rubio stressed the importance of NATO in the face of Islamic terrorism. "We've seen already the attacks in Belgium. We've seen the attacks in France. We've seen attempted and thwarted attacks elsewhere, so because of all of that I think NATO takes on a special purpose," he said.
Then Rubio added his forboding prediction. "One of our NATO allies, right now, that faces the greatest threat of ISIS is Turkey," he said. "I would not be surprised over the next few weeks to see major ISIS operations within Turkey, itself."
It might not have been as brilliant a prediction as it first appears — ISIS has already launched deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year. However, Rubio's words just days before the bombings are undeniably ominous. Watch the interview below. Jeva Lange
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 68 to 32 to clear the Puerto Rico debt relief bill, just days ahead of the July 1 deadline for Puerto Rico's next bond payment. With the procedural vote now over, the bill will move onto final passage in the Senate, where it's expected to get the majority vote, and then to President Obama's desk, where it's expected to be signed into law.
The bill would establish a board to oversee the island's finances and allow for the restructuring of its debt, which currently amounts to $70 billion. The vote comes after months of waiting, during which Puerto Rico's crisis "progressively worsened," The New York Times reports.
Without the legislation's passage, Puerto Rico would default on July 1. Becca Stanek
In 1944, with the end of World War II looming, Jewish prisoners in the Lithuanian extermination camp Ponar devised a plan. The prisoners were being forced to dig up and burn the bodies of murdered Jews as the Nazis scrambled to hide evidence from the approaching Soviet army. The prisoners knew that once their work was done, they too would be killed. So, using spoons found among the corpses, the prisoners dug a tunnel from their holding pen to the outside. On the last night of Passover, the prisoners slipped into the tunnel to attempt escape.
Of the 80 prisoners in the holding pen, only 12 managed to get away and 11 survived until the end of the war to tell the tale. Since then, their 100-foot tunnel has been lost to history — at least, until now. A team of archaeologists and cartographers believe they have finally found the Ponar tunnel thanks to the use of radio waves at the site, The New York Times reports. The team has also discovered burial pits, including one containing the ashes of an estimated 7,000 people and another containing an estimated 10,000 bodies, using the technology.
"If we had never discovered the tunnel, people would have thought in another 20 years it was a myth, and they would have questioned — what do we really know happened? This is a great story about the way that people overcame the worst possible condition, and still had this hope that they could get out," team leader Richard Freund said.
Spain just made Scotland's battle to remain in the European Union that much harder. On Wednesday, as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with European Parliament chiefs to negotiate her country's membership in the trade bloc, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block Scotland's attempts to remain after Britain's vote to exit.
During the second day of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, Rajoy announced that he is "extremely against" the EU accepting Scotland independent of the rest of the U.K., and said that "if the U.K. goes, Scotland goes too." "I want to be very clear," Rajoy said. "Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of the United Kingdom." Rajoy's sentiments have been echoed by other EU officials who say that Scotland must declare its independence from the U.K. before it can apply to or join the EU.
However, Sturgeon has already said that a declaration of independence from the U.K. is not out of the question. Although Britain elected to exit the EU, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain, 62 percent to 38 percent. Becca Stanek
A white-nationalist neo-Nazi group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, has vowed to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to "make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs," according to spokesman Matt Parrott.
The Traditionalist Worker Party made headlines over the weekend when the group organized a pro-Trump rally in Sacramento, California, that ended in multiple stabbings.
Leftist groups have indeed vowed to protest against Trump at the Cleveland convention, but organizers say they will be peaceful. Furthermore, spokespeople for both the Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said the two groups are not concerned about the neo-Nazi presence.
Federal contractors aren't allowed to make political donations. This pro-Clinton PAC took $200,000 from one anyway.
Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, accepted two donations totaling $200,000 from Suffolk Construction, a Boston-based firm.
This would be a non-story — except that when it made those contributions, Suffolk was an active federal contractor, with multiple Department of Defense contracts valued at nearly $1 million. It has been illegal for federal contractors to make this sort of political donation for seven decades. "Federal government contractors may not make contributions to influence Federal elections," the Federal Election Commission explains, listing contractor gifts among its prohibited contributions.
The money also violates Priorities USA's own organizational rules, which echo the FEC's regulation.