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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
May 30 to June 5, 2021


Featured Investigation:
America the Outlier: Voter Photo IDs Are
the Rule in Europe and Elsewhere

Democrats and much of the media are pushing to make permanent the relaxed, pandemic-driven voting rules of the 2020 elections – warning anew of racist voter “suppression” otherwise. Yet democracies in Europe and elsewhere have taken a different tack. John R. Lott Jr. reports for RealClearInvestigations on the comparatively strict voting regimes instituted globally, and the hard lessons of fraud that drove them:

  • All but one of 47 European nations surveyed, and 33 of 37 OECD nations, mandate government-issued photo voter IDs.
  • Seventy-four percent of European countries entirely ban absentee voting for citizens who reside domestically. Most others limit absentee voting and/or require a photo ID.
  • Northern Ireland, where a bitter sectarian conflict has meant historically pervasive fraud as well as violence, has instituted multiple rounds of reforms including mandatory IDs.
  • France banned mail voting in 1975 because of massive fraud in the island region of Corsica.
  • Hungary, with the loosest mail voting regulations in Europe, faced claims of fraud when the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, criticized for authoritarianism, won 96% of mail votes in the 2018 election.
  • After fraud denied a leftist the Mexican presidency in 1988, it mandated photo IDs with biometric information, banned absentee ballots, and required in-person registration. Rather than suppress the vote, participation rose in subsequent presidential elections.
  • When RCInvestigations inquired about the more restrictive voting rules abroad, the Brennan Center and ACLU, which support more lenient rules in America, had no comment.


How Biden's Favored Unions
Could Get Jammed
in His Infrastructure Traffic

President Biden is adamant that his infrastructure plan will create millions of jobs and labor unions will be the big winners. But Vince Bielski’s interviews for RealClearInvestigations with economists, union leaders and officials – as well as basic math – suggest otherwise:

  • It’s unclear how many jobs Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan will actually create because of its sprawling nature and the unpredictability of the post-pandemic labor market. Economists forecast anywhere from several million down to zero.
  • The weakness of unions outside traditional strongholds means two-thirds of the jobs created under the plan could well go to nonunion workers.
  • In response, the Biden administration looks to push “prevailing wage” requirements on federal projects to make it easier for unions to win bids, and require “project labor agreements” that deter nonunion labor.
  • “President Biden will receive pushback from the vast majority of the construction workforce and industry as well as some state and local governments,” says a leader of the mostly nonunion trade group Associated Builders and Contractors.
  • The pressure on the administration to deliver union jobs is rising as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act – or PRO Act – languishes in the Senate.


Coronavirus Investigations

What U.S. Bureaucrats and the Chinese Knew About COVID-19
Daily Signal, Vanity Fair, Daily Mail
The world may never know whether COVID-19 was created in a lab or jumped from animals to humans. But it is increasingly clear why evidence about the origins of a plague that has killed hundreds of millions of people remains elusive: because many top officials shut down discussion of the issue while allowing China to thwart meaningful probes. Newly disclosed emails show that America’s top covid scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thought the virus could have leaked from a Chinese lab, which had received U.S. funding, in early 2020. Publicly, however, he dismissed the theory. In a separate article, Vanity Fair reports that it has obtained an internal memo by Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, that “warned” leaders within his bureau “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19” because it would “open a can of worms.” Other officials were especially concerned about evidence “that would point to the U.S. government’s own role in gain-of-function research” aimed at making viruses more likely to attack humans. Vanity Fair also reports:

Dr. Richard Ebright, board of governors professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, said that from the very first reports of a novel bat-related coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, it took him “a nanosecond or a picosecond” to consider a link to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Only two other labs in the world, in Galveston, Texas, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, were doing similar research. “It’s not a dozen cities,” he said. “It’s three places.”

The Daily Mail reports that two respected scientists, one from Britain, the other from Norway, are set to publish a paper claiming that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats. And National Review reports that China has a history of lab leaks that have led to outbreaks in the past.

Biden, Trump and the Beltway

'Russia Hawk' Think Tankers Take Pro-Putin Cash Free Beacon
Jail for Treasury Leaker to BuzzFeed of Trump Dirt Reuters

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

Back: Obama's Nemesis of Accused Campus Men
National Review
The Biden administration is restoring Catherine Lhamon, the architect of the Obama administration’s controversial Title IX policies regarding campus sexual assault, to her old perch atop the Office of Civil Rights. The policy’s underlying assumption was that one-sided procedures were necessary to battle the rape culture allegedly prevalent at Harvard, Yale and other college campuses. Those procedures prevented accused students from conducting cross-examination and cautioned universities against prioritizing the due-process rights of the accused. And Lhamon demanded that universities accept her interpretation of Title IX or lose federal funds. KC Johnson observes in this opinionated piece of news analysis:

Perhaps no public figure in the past decade has done more to decimate the rights of accused students than Lhamon. … Colleges received Lhamon’s message loud and clear: Finding accused students guilty, even in dubious cases, would ward off bad publicity and keep schools in the OCR [Office of Civil Rights] head’s good graces. As one former OCR lawyer recently conceded, “We did see some bad cases in the Obama era, cases where it basically didn’t matter what evidence there was. The college was going to find against the defendant, the male defendant, no matter what. I think the schools felt pressure under the Obama guidance.”

Cheap Turkish Drones Reshaping Warfare
Wall Street Journal
Inexpensive missile-equipped drones are transforming regional conflicts around the globe, giving smaller armies a fighting chance against more heavily armed opponents, this article reports. Drones built in Turkey with affordable digital technology wrecked tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as air-defense systems, of Russian protégés in battles waged in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan. Iran-linked groups in Iraq and Yemen used drones to attack Saudi Arabia. At least 10 countries, from Nigeria to the United Arab Emirates, have used drones to kill adversaries. These drones point to future warfare being shaped as much by cheap but effective fighting vehicles as expensive ones with the most advanced technology. Flying alone or in a group, these drones – many of which are built and sold by China – can surprise troops and disable poorly concealed or lightly defended armored vehicles, a job often assigned to expensive warplanes. The drones can stay quietly aloft for 24 hours, finding gaps in air defense systems and helping target strikes by warplanes and artillery, as well as firing their own missiles. “The implications are game changing,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a speech last year, citing Syria’s heavy losses to Turkish drones.

How America's Abortion Wars Went Global
No single nation has as much influence on abortion rights and access for the world’s women as the United States, and, this article reports, no single nation has worked as diligently to prevent women outside its borders from being able to end their pregnancies. America’s zig-zag approach results from abortions being funded when Democrats control the White House and not when Republicans are in charge. This has created a form of whiplash abroad where “the long arm of U.S. anti-abortion policy” continues to determine whether or not women who are not American citizens and may have never set foot on U.S. territory can prevent pregnancy, decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy, or even find assistance if they’ve been raped. Writer Jill Filipovic illustrates the issue by focusing on a community in Colombia.

Canada: Many Deaths at Indian Residential Schools
Vancouver Sun
Canada’s seven-year Truth and Reconciliation Commission has determined that at least 3,200 indigenous children died as students at so-called Indian residential schools. That translates into one in every 50 students enrolled during the program’s nearly 120-year existence – a death rate comparable to the number of Canadian POWs who died in the custody of Nazi Germany during the Second World War. But, this article reports, a true figure will never be known for the simple fact that death records – if they were kept at all – were often lacking even basic personal information. One third of children who died at a residential school did not have their names recorded by school administrators. One quarter were marked as deceased without even their gender being noted. Bodies of children were not returned to families, and parents rarely learned the circumstances of a child’s death. This article recalls Dan Barry’s stellar piece in the New York Times about the hundreds of orphans who perished at a home for unwed mothers in Ireland.

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