TDB Top 5 International Stories: Tuesday 7th March 2017

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5: Advocate: Trump’s New Muslim Travel Ban Will Be As Unlawful As First Executive Order
4: Why Universities Really Should Be Dominated By Left-Wingers
3: Trump signs new Muslim travel ban excluding Iraq
2: Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed
1: John Oliver on Trump’s wiretapping claims: ‘Stupid Watergate’

5: Advocate: Trump’s New Muslim Travel Ban Will Be As Unlawful As First Executive Order

President Trump is expected to issue a new executive order temporarily banning all refugees, as well as people from six majority Muslim countries, from entering the United States. The New York Times reports the new ban would apply to people from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, but not people from Iraq. Iraqis were included in Trump’s first Muslim travel ban, which was blocked by the courts in February amid massive nationwide protests. Unlike the first ban, the new executive order is also not expected to apply to people from these countries with green cards or who already have a visa.

Democracy Now

4: Why Universities Really Should Be Dominated By Left-Wingers

A new report claims right-wing academics are the minority, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s good we’ve got right-wing think-tanks to look out for these things, because according to a report by the Adam Smith Institute, our universities have a serious problem: they’re far too left-wing. The report identifies a pronounced left-wing bias among academics, especially in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

This is bad – the ASI says – because “social settings characterised by too little diversity of viewpoints are liable to become afflicted by group think, a dysfunctional atmosphere where key assumptions go unquestioned, dissenting opinions are neutralised and favoured beliefs are held as sacrosanct”. For this reason, universities ought to start promoting “ideological diversity”, just as they would diversity of gender or race, presumably by positively discriminating in favour of right-wing academics.

There are at least three issues here. Firstly, is there really a left-wing bias among academics? It must be noted that the ASI report’s methodology is far from watertight, leaning heavily on a sketchy survey studying voting intention among people with a university email address. Indeed, what ring of plausibility their hypothesis has is largely enforced anecdotally: of course university lecturers are a bunch of lefties because, well… George Orwell mentions that it’s a stereotype, basically.

That said: fair enough. As someone who has worked as a university lecturer, I have to admit: my own experience suggests the anecdotal evidence is correct – academics lean more left-wing than the general population do. But that doesn’t mean academia is a hotbed of revolutionary socialist sentiment. It just means your average university lecturer is pro-EU, politely liberal and in favour of some sort of economic redistribution.

Secondly, why are academics more left-wing? One answer might be: left-wingers are more intelligent than their right-wing counterparts. This is something you may have heard before because it was the conclusion of a psychological study from 2012 that still often re-surfaces as viral news. This study’s general hypothesis is: stupid people are drawn to right-wing views because such views make them feel safe, insofar as they maintain the status quo.

The ASI report mentions this study, but dismisses intelligence as an explanation – largely because there is no analogous left-wing bias among people in the top 5 percent of IQ. The think-tank does, however, find a partial explanation for the bias in the fact that being left-wing correlates to what they call “openness to experience”, a personality trait which, apparently, makes you more likely to pursue “intellectually stimulating careers like academia”.

This notion of “openness to experience” sounds incredibly vague to me. The report defines it as follows: “People high on openness are more artistic, creative and intellectually curious, and tend to prefer novelty and variety over familiarity and sameness.” But in real terms, what does this mean? Enjoying meeting new people? Being into travelling? Perhaps – but why would enjoying those things make you more likely to be left-wing? There are plenty of Tories who’ve been on gap years. And why would they make you more likely to become an academic? I know plenty of brilliant scholars who can barely stand to be in a room with unfamiliar human beings.

Vice News

3: Trump signs new Muslim travel ban excluding Iraq

US President Donald Trump has signed a revised travel ban that will temporarily halt entry to the United States for people from six Muslim-majority nations.

Under the order announced on Monday, a 90-day ban on travel to the United States will be imposed on citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Travellers holding pre-existing visas would still be allowed entry, according to the new order, which will come into effect at midnight on March 16.

Unlike the previous ban, the new directive does not include Iraq in its list of countries targeted, following pressure from the Pentagon and State Department which had urged the White House to reconsider given Iraq’s key role in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.


2: Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed

ONE OF THE most bizarre aspects of the all-consuming Russia frenzy is the Democrats’ fixation on changes to the RNC platform concerning U.S. arming of Ukraine. The controversy began in July when the Washington Post reported that “the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces.”

Ever since then, Democrats have used this language change as evidence that Trump and his key advisers have sinister connections to Russians and corruptly do their bidding at the expense of American interests. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke for many in his party when he lambasted the RNC change in a July letter to the New York Times, castigating it as “dangerous thinking” that shows Trump is controlled, or at least manipulated, by the Kremlin. Democrats resurrected this line of attack this weekend when Trump advisers acknowledged that campaign officials were behind the platform change.

This attempt to equate Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine with some sort of treasonous allegiance to Putin masks a rather critical fact: namely, that the refusal to arm Ukraine with lethal weapons was one of Barack Obama’s most steadfastly held policies. The original Post article that reported the RNC platform change noted this explicitly:

The Intercept


1: John Oliver on Trump’s wiretapping claims: ‘Stupid Watergate’

John Oliver has criticized Donald Trump over his latest baseless claims that Obama secretly recorded him, referring to the situation as “Stupid Watergate”.

On Last Week Tonight, the comic expanded upon this idea, calling it “a potential scandal with all the intrigue of Watergate except everyone involved is really bad at everything”.

He went on to say: “The relevant question isn’t so much ‘what did the president know and when did he know it?’ as it is ‘is the president physically capable of knowing things at all?’”

He then referenced Trump’s series of tweets at the weekend, including the fact that he misspelled “tap”. “We are now at a point where the president is so busy hurling destabilizing conspiracy theories around, we can’t even pause to enjoy the fact he misspelled the word tap,” he said.

The Guardian 



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Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,