Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Of Lunatics and Asylums

We tell ourselves, we parents of college-bound kids (not to mention ordinary citizens), that American campuses really aren't as bad as all that, that students can avoid the most tendentious indoctrinators and that the press tends to exaggerate. And then we read headlines like "Kathy Boudin Teaching at Columbia" and sharp reality once again punctures the comfortable cushion of denial.

I'm not speaking personally because I'm among the hyper-vigilant and politically obsessed. I read the newsletters of the National Association of Scholars, a group of academics who bravely battle campus attempts to suppress free speech and free inquiry. I scan the press for news of academia. But most Americans, I'd guess, while knowing that college faculties are dominated by liberals, don't realize quite how extreme or how deeply corrupt our campuses have become.

Consider the case of Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground, a left-wing domestic terror group. What kinds of gentle hijinks did the WU engage in? They bombed the U.S. Capitol, the State Department and the Pentagon. They planned to detonate a bomb full of nails at a soldiers' dance in Fort Dix, N.J. The bomb exploded prematurely in a New York townhouse.

In 1981, Boudin was at the wheel of the getaway vehicle when the WU held up a Brinks truck and stole $1.6 million. Her colleagues killed the driver and gravely wounded another guard in the course of the robbery. They then transferred to the U-Haul truck that Boudin was driving. When the U-Haul was stopped by police, Boudin got out of the cab with her hands up and urged the police to lower their weapons. When they did, six of her heavily armed accomplices jumped out of the back of the truck and gunned down two of the officers.

Boudin, a cradle communist (her father was Fidel Castro's lawyer, her uncle was I.F. Stone), was 38 at the time of the Brinks attack -- not a youth. She spent the next 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony murder and she is now an adjunct professor of social work at Columbia University.

Just imagine if someone who had driven the getaway car for a group that attacked and killed an abortion doctor had been offered a place at the Heritage Foundation or Hillsdale College. Of course you cannot imagine that because such a person would be irredeemably tainted in the eyes of Heritage and Hillsdale. But supposing such a hire were possible, can you imagine the outcry?

For celebrated academic institutions, a history of terror and murder is no bar to prestige and employment. Bill Ayers was a "Distinguished Professor of Education" at the University of Illinois. His wife, Bernadine Dohrn (who said of the Manson killings "First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the pig Tate's stomach! Wild!") was appointed adjunct professor of law at Northwestern.

From the great halls of our finest universities there is a reverberating silence about Columbia's decision to hire and thereby to honor a murderer, a terrorist and an enemy of the United States who has never expressed remorse.

The 5-member Orangetown, N.Y. town board passed a resolution condemning Columbia and calling upon its "neighbor" to sever all ties with the woman who was responsible for the deaths of three men. The nephew of one of the murdered officers told the New York Post "It's easy to forget that ... nine children grew up without their dads because of her actions." Very easy, especially for leftist academics. Veterans of the Weather Underground have a better track record of getting employment at leading universities than do supporters of Mitt Romney.

Each year on Oct. 20, the anniversary of the Brinks robbery, the police in Nyack, N.Y. hold a memorial service. The ceremony is attended by survivors, family members of those who were killed, and local, state and federal law enforcement officials. A small scholarship has been endowed to honor policemen Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown.

It's a disgrace that only the police and the families of the deceased seem to honor their memories. One of America's great universities has not just forgotten; it has spit on their graves.


Hard working? Lucky? No, billionaires are just smarter than everyone else

Getting into an elite college is not a terribly good proxy for IQ but there is no doubt that the two would be fairly highly correlated

The success of billionaires may be down to more than just hard work and good luck - they may also be smarter than most, according to a study.

About 45 per cent of billionaires are in the top one per cent for brainpower, says Jonathan Wai of Duke University.

He says that the top one per cent of wealthy people and the top one per cent for brainpower strongly overlap, reports CNBC.

That ranks them as smarter than US senators and federal judges, of whom 41 per cent are in the top one per cent for cognitive ability, and Fortune 500 CEOS at 38.6 per cent.

Only 21 per cent of the US House of Representatives were considered to be that smart.

However, the study only judges brainpower by whether someone attended one of 29 elite - and often expensive - American colleges, using the colleges' admissions criteria of high academic grades to decide if someone is intelligent.

The study found that 88 per cent of billionaires graduated from college, though a lack of degree did not get in the way of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg making his billions after dropping out of Harvard.

Among members of the Forbes 400 list of America's wealthiest people, Charles and David Koch, co-owners of Koch industries, took degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while investor Warren Buffett graduated from UPenn and Columbia.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard while Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page met as PhD students at Stanford.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer went to Harvard while his boss Bill Gates dropped out of the same university, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezo attended Princeton.

Those who made their fortunes through investments or technology were more likely to be in the top one per cent for brainpower than those who did from fashion and retail or food and drink.

Some 69 per cent of investment billionaires and 63 per cent of technology magnates are represented in the top one per cent, while only a quarter of fashion earners and 23 per cent of food and drink billionaires make the grade.


British schools 'ripping out playground equipment to avoid being sued' after millions of pounds are paid to pupils who hurt

Swings and slides are being removed from Britain's school playgrounds because of the massive rise in compensation claims when children suffer minor injuries.

Claims have become so common that education authorities face mounting bills even when children get hurt while breaking school rules by climbing walls or trees.

The compensation culture is being fuelled by lawyers offering parents no-win no-fee deals, it is claimed, with some firms even setting up telephone hotlines to encourage parents to sue.

Schools are often advised to settle out of court without contesting claims up to £12,000 just to save on legal costs. More than £4million was also paid out to staff last year.

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Sunday Express: 'There is no doubt that the compensation culture has got completely out of hand. People need to accept that sometimes accidents do happen and no one is to blame.'

Figures revealed parents with pupils at schools in Lancashire have been paid almost £800,000 in compensation for their children's injuries in the past five years.

The payouts include a child who got more than £15,000 after falling off a wall and another who collected £6,000 after cutting a leg while sliding down a banister.

In Essex, school bosses have paid out £227,137 in compensation and legal costs in the past five years. A child who tripped down a step cost the council £30,544 and a pupil got £24,650 after falling off a climbing frame.

And in Kent, the county council has paid out £700,000 in compensation to children injured in school accidents since 2008. The biggest payout to a pupil was £80,000.

To win compensation an injured child has to prove there has been a breach of the duty of care owed to them by the school.

If the child has suffered as a result of negligence they can claim compensation for their suffering and funding for any medical treatment.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'Schools become so risk-conscious they no longer present children with challenges and they are wrapped up in cotton wool.'

The National Union of Teachers defended its members for seeking compensation saying many claims result from premises or equipment which have 'not been sufficiently well maintained'.


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