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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
December 26, 2021 to January 1, 2022

Featured Investigation:
Where Wokism Is a Oui Bit Different
(Part 1 of a 2-Part Series From Europe)

Why has wokism taken hold in European countries, given that their histories don’t share much of the stain of slavery that drives the movement in the U.S.?

In a two-part series in RealClearInvestigations, Richard Bernstein explores a topic largely ignored by major U.S. news outlets covering Europe, which focus more on the right-wing reaction there as opposed to its often intolerant mirror image: the woke left.

In France, Bernstein finds that:

  • As a central woke grievance, colonialism serves as the left’s “white-supremacist” stand-in for American slavery, particularly since France, like Britain and Germany, has many immigrants and higher birth rates among non-whites. 
  • The woke ideology holds the same contagious global appeal for French and other European academics, students, and others as for their American counterparts: It explains complicated questions through the supposedly pervasive evils of a white-dominated society.
  • Yet in France, there's an irony within that explanation. Despite vocabulary that seems appropriated from American academe, the main concepts of French wokism originated with leftist French academics whose ideas became the rage on American campuses decades ago – and now have been simplified, even caricatured, and reimported into France.
  • A striking difference with the U.S., however, is that many of France’s most prominent public intellectuals have pushed back against the movement and its illiberal “cancel culture.” That may render it less potent than its American version.

Featured Investigation:
In Scotland, They'll Take the Woke Road
(Series Part 2)

In the second of his RCI reports from Europe, Bernstein writes that  Scotland is proving fertile ground for wokism despite its 96% white population and Enlightenment heritage – illustrating the broad appeal of the woke left’s global demand that the West engage in apologetic self-examination and overhaul its societies accordingly. Bernstein reports:

  • Education Scotland, which advises the centralized public school system, has moved toward “decolonizing the curriculum” through “anti-racist education.”
  • An Edinburgh high school this year dropped the American classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men” from its reading lists for perceived deficiencies in matters of race.
  • Replacing those books: “The Hate U Give,” about an unarmed American black teenager shot dead by a white policeman.
  • In Dundee, Lisa Keogh, a 29-year-old law student and mother of two, is suing after being subjected to an extended investigative tribunal. Her offense: “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” 
  • Observes a lecturer at her school: “The process is the punishment.”
  • Such examples echo advances of wokeness elsewhere across Europe. This year the 27-member European Union took up an intersectional "gender equality strategy" funded by a program called Horizon Europe with a budget of more than $100 billion -- that's billion with a "b" -- for 2021-2027. 


Biden, Trump and the Beltway

Video Shows DC Police Beating Women Jan. 6 American Greatness
Will the FBI Raid the New York Times? Jonathan Turley/Res Ipsa Loquitur


Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

States Are Hoarding $5.2 Billion in Welfare Funds
States are hoarding federal welfare funds despite rising poverty. This article reports that they are sitting on $5.2 billion in unspent money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF – an increase of nearly $700 million between the fiscal years of 2019 and 2020. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.1% of children under age 18 lived in poverty in 2020, up from 14.4% the year before. The poverty rate also ticked up for people aged 18 to 64, from 9.4% to 10.4%. As unused TANF dollars have accumulated, applications to the cash assistance program have waned, though it’s not for a lack of need, this article reports. Instead, the rejection rate is so high that many people don’t apply:

Ty Bishop, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Human Services, which has the nation’s lowest TANF acceptance rate at just 7% of those who apply, said most applicants there “exceed the income and resource limits.” To qualify, a family with two children and one caretaker must have less than $1,000 in assets and a monthly income of less than $188. Those requirements haven’t changed despite the state’s $281 million in unspent TANF funds in fiscal year 2020.

How Paid Experts Help Exonerate Police
New York Times
A dozen or so individuals and companies have collected millions of dollars over the past decade, much of it in fees that are largely underwritten by taxpayers, to help exonerate police accused of causing or contributing to the deaths of detainees. This article draws on more than 25,000 pages of court documents, as well as interviews with nearly three dozen people to describe “a small but influential cadre of scientists, lawyers, physicians and other police experts” who collectively comprise “a cottage industry of exoneration.”

Their views infuriate many prosecutors, plaintiff lawyers, medical experts and relatives of the dead, who accuse them of slanting science, ignoring inconvenient facts and dangerously emboldening police officers to act aggressively. One of the researchers has suggested that police officers involved in the deaths are often unfairly blamed — like parents of babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome.

The experts also intersect with law-enforcement-friendly companies that train police officers, write police policies and lend authority to studies rebutting concerns about police use of force. … The New York Times identified more than 100 instances of in-custody deaths or life-threatening injuries from the past 15 years in which experts in the network were hired to defend the police. … Beyond the courtroom, the individuals and businesses have offered instruction to thousands of police officers and medical examiners, whose cause-of-death rulings often help determine legal culpability.

In a separate article the Times raises questions about a Pennsylvania state trooper who was responsible for four  fatal shootings in three rural counties where he worked – and always cleared of any wrongdoing. Given the paper’s intense focus on race and law enforcement, it is curious that the article shows but never notes the race of the victims -- white -- or tries to explain the disconnect with the distorted racist-cop narrative that major media help to push. 

A Lavish Tax Dodge for the Ultrawealthy
New York Times
To coax people to invest in small companies, the Qualified Small Business Stock tax provision allows early investors in companies in many industries to avoid taxes on at least $10 million in profits. This article reports that some very wealthy people, especially in Silicon Valley, have figured out how to take advantage of that exemption time and time again by giving shares in those companies to friends or relatives. Even though these recipients didn’t put their money into the start-ups, they nonetheless inherit the tax break, and a further $10 million or more in profits becomes tax-free.

The savings for the richest American families — who would otherwise face a 23.8 percent capital gains tax — can quickly swell into the tens of millions. The maneuver, which is legal, is known as “stacking,” because the tax breaks are piled on top of one another. “If you walk down University Avenue in Palo Alto, every person involved in tech stacks,” said Christopher Karachale, a tax lawyer at the law firm Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco. He said he had helped dozens of families multiply the Q.S.B.S. tax benefit.

The Morbid War Over Online Obituaries
Over the past 20 years, obituaries have turned into prized commodities, valuable enough to power a billion-dollar business that exploits on the online information of the dead. This article reports that “obituary pirates” mine death data – in most cases posted by funeral homes – to draw readers to their websites. Funeral homes are upset because big money is at stake. In 2020, websites owned by Service Corporation International, a New York Stock Exchange-traded conglomerate that owns 1,500 funeral homes ...

... attracted nearly 160 million visitors, up from 130 million in 2019, according to its Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The websites of some funeral homes in metropolitan areas net more than a million visitors in a year. … At some smaller newspapers, the obituaries section draws twice as much traffic as the news section.

This article reports that one “pirate” outfit generated $5 million in revenue in 2020, in part from commissions on floral, candle, and memorial tree sales.

Coronavirus Investigations

Fauci’s $350K+ Annual Pension Package
Open the Books
Dr. Anthony Fauci, 81, has not announced his future plans. But when he does leave government service, after 55 years of service and counting, he will reap the largest federal retirement package in U.S. history. Auditors at estimate his annual retirement benefit would exceed $350,000. Thereafter, his pension and benefits would continue to increase through annual cost-of-living adjustments. That is almost as much as his annual salary, which was $434,312 in 2020, making Fauci the nation’s most highly compensated federal employee.

Understaffed Pharmacies Can't Keep Up With Prescriptions
The health care worker shortage extends beyond doctors and nurses. This article reports that pharmacy technicians – the relatively low-wage workers who often count pills and fill medication bottles – are in short supply. Right now there are about 420,000 pharmacy technicians in the U.S., whose median pay is $16.87 per hour. 

Employers, from major drugstore chains like Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens to mom-and-pop pharmacies and even hospitals, are struggling to replace them. It’s yet another of the labor shortages that have gripped the country this year. At many drugstores, the pharmacy staff members who remain are stretched thin. The shortage has led to days-long waits for medication, shortened pharmacy hours and some prescription errors and vaccination mix-ups – like children receiving an adult Covid-19 vaccine shot instead of a flu shot – in a business sector in which delays and mistakes can have serious health consequences.

Other Coronavirus Investigations

Pa.: U.S. Senate Hopeful Dr. Oz Under the Microscope New York Times
Twitter's Nuking of Noted Covid Vax Dissenter Dr. Robert Malone Epoch Times
How Many Booster Shots Will We Need? The Atlantic

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