If Obama Wants More Solar Energy, Why Is He Making It So Expensive?

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott /

President Obama has made it quite clear he wants to see more renewable energy in the United States. Then why is his administration making it more expensive?

The U.S. government recently announced plans to impose taxes of up to 78.42 percent on imported solar parts to protect U.S. manufacturers from foreign competition.

In this case, a foreign-owned firm that produces goods in the United States and benefits from U.S. government subsidies is seeking tariffs on inexpensive and allegedly subsidized foreign-made goods used by U.S. companies to generate solar energy.

Got that?

Mukesh Dulani, president of SolarWorld, the German-owned company that requested the tariffs on foreign-made goods, said, “These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade.”

But according to Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, “… the U.S. government is actually creating a module shortage that will make it hard for the U.S. solar industry to reach its 2015 and 2016 goals.”

The imported solar products in question allegedly were subsidized by foreign governments and sold at a lower price in the United States than in the countries where they were produced.

Before the proposed duties take effect, the U.S. International Trade Commission must determine whether U.S. companies have been injured by these imports. The legal hook in this matter is the U.S. “antidumping laws,” statutory provisions that allow for the imposition of tariffs on goods that are allegedly being imported at “unfairly low” prices and thereby harm American industries.

In reality, antidumping laws have little to do with “fair” trade. As The Heritage Foundation has observed:

“The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets.”

For example, U.S. law forbids the ITC from considering the impact of the imports in question on the overall American economy and downstream industries, only on the firms requesting protection from their foreign competitors.

And what about the billions of dollars in subsidies U.S. solar manufacturers have benefited from, including around $100 million in state and local incentives that SolarWorld received for its Hillsboro, Fla., production facility?

The solar industry has received handout after handout, including billions of dollars from taxpayers in the stimulus package, a generous investment tax credit as well as loan guarantees backed by the federal government (Solyndra anyone?). Further, 37 states have renewable portfolio standards that mandate the use of renewable energy.

The complexities involved in the SolarWorld case provide a good illustration of why U.S. antidumping laws should be modernized to allow Americans to take full advantage of the increasingly interconnected global economy.

And the market distortions caused by the federal government using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers provides plenty of reason to get the government out of the energy business.

Why Did John Kerry Just Apologize for America? - Daily Signal

Why Did John Kerry Just Apologize for America?

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez /

Before hopping on a plane to Lima last Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a key speech on Latin America in which he again engaged in the ritualistic self-flagellation for which this administration has lamentably come to be known. Kerry’s apologia included everything that’s been in the news for the past month, and then some.

It was more than an embarrassing moment or a wasted opportunity: it was a win for tyranny. The cause of liberty needs a strong, confident America that has the back of those who’ll dare anything to be free. Instead, Kerry strove to make clear that he was not the Ugly American, bringing up Ferguson, New York, and the Senate’s partisan report on our treatment of terrorist prisoners.

“Democracy is not a final destination; it is an endless journey,” the secretary pondered. “And we see that right here at home.”

“Even yesterday with the report that came out from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—we hold ourselves accountable to an ugly, horrible period,” Kerry went on, adding later: “from the streets of New York City to Ferguson, Missouri, we are learning in painful, searing ways that justice and equality are not things that you can just parse out to some and deny to others.”

Kerry also made sure to mention the “genocide trial” of “former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt,” who during his 18-month tenure as president in the early 1980s dealt severe setbacks to Cuban- and Soviet-backed communist guerrillas. Kerry knows full well that the international Left has zeroed in on this trial as a way to besmirch President Reagan, who kept the region from becoming a forward base for Soviet outposts.

We’ll Whip Ourselves, Not Tyrants

So who did Kerry not mention? Search his speech at the State Department website for these words: Cuba, Castro, Venezuela, or its strongman Nicolas Maduro—whom Congress has just passed sanctions against for gross human rights violations—or Bolivia and its dictator-wannabe Evo Morales, Nicaragua or its anti-American leader Danny Ortega. Or save your time and take my word: they’re not there.

On the day Kerry spoke, Cuban police beat up human rights protestors and the next day Hong Kong police forcefully ended pro-democracy demonstrations.

Neither are mentions of Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan opposition leader behind bars for almost a year, or his compatriot, the brave Maria Corina Machado, who will soon join him there. Also missing were Cuba’s stalwart Ladies in White, middle-aged women who are undeterred by the beatings they receive in the streets of Cuba but dress up their wounds and take to the streets again. Or Cuban opposition leader Antunez or Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera.

All of them are begging the Obama administration for support, but all they got from Kerry were infantilisms and platitudes about “climate change, and clean energy—which is, after all, the solution to climate change,” “the LGBT community” and the fact that “we recognize a basic truth: Social and economic exclusion anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

So it shouldn’t surprise that on the day Kerry spoke Cuban police beat up human rights protestors on the streets of Havana, and the next day Hong Kong police forcefully ended pro-democracy demonstrations.

The World’s Oppressed Need Our Moral Support

America, to be sure, doesn’t conduct its foreign policy to correct all the world’s wrongs, but to secure our freedom and sovereignty. “She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” famously said one of Kerry’s predecessors, John Quincy Adams, in his 1821 Independence Day speech. But Adams understood that we are safer when freedom expands in the world, so he quickly added in the same speech a call for European citizens to overthrow their monarchical tyrants, outraging foreign diplomats in attendance and earning a protest from the czar’s government in Moscow.

Foreign liberty lovers seek moral validation of their cause, the knowledge that the world’s only superpower stands by them and believes in their cause.

To this day, what foreign liberty-seekers want from us is not “boots on the ground,” much less “nation-building.” They seek moral validation of their cause, the knowledge that an outside power—the world’s only superpower, no less—stands by them and believes in their cause. Rios Montt was a strongman more than three decades ago. There are anti-American dictators in Latin America right now who daily repress populations who need to know we’re on their side.

By happenstance, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was speaking at The Heritage Foundation at the same time Kerry spoke at State. Cruz made the following succinct point about the policy followed by Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton: “weakness is provocative.”

“Today, the consequence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us,” said Cruz. “That is profoundly dangerous for America and is profoundly dangerous for the world.” Cruz added that, under Obama, the United States risks going from “the leader of the free world to a dutiful and obedient member of the international community.” He should have included Kerry in that critique.

Originally appeared on TheFederalist.com.

We Shouldn’t Legitimize the Castros and Establish Diplomatic Relations with Cuba - Daily Signal

We Shouldn’t Legitimize the Castros and Establish Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes /

Whoa! Sure, we should be thrilled the Cubans have released American Alan Gross, but Team Obama’s plan to normalize diplomatic relations with the Castro regime as a result is a bad idea.

At best.

First, it’s not as if this were some sort of humanitarian gesture on the part of the Cubans. They got three DGI — Cuban intelligence — officers in return for Gross and another unidentified Cuban who reportedly spied for the United States

Plus, while the regime released Gross and another, Cuba is still a prison in the shape of an island where some 11 million Cubans toil under the weight of one of the world’s most repressive regimes — and have done so for decades.

With all the discussion of “American values” recently over the Senate report on CIA interrogations after 9/11, it’s interesting we’d embrace Cuba, a communist dictatorship which suppresses social, political and economic liberties.

Where are the American values in that?

Moreover, the establishment of diplomatic relations legitimizes the Castros and their “storied” struggle against us. The last thing we should do is prop up this regime or give it a propaganda victory.

Worse, this might also be just the beginning of a warming in relations with the Castros for this White House.

For instance, ending the American embargo on the Cuban regime — which would require congressional approval — might be next. This will put more money in the pockets of Havana, which will undoubtedly use it to crush rights at home and stir up anti-American trouble abroad.

Have we already forgotten Cuban mischief-making in this hemisphere — and beyond — when Havana was flush with Moscow’s financial, military and moral support during the Cold War?

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this move by Team Obama, which is likely looking to Cuba for an “at last” foreign policy win in a long string of failing strategies from Russia to Iran to the Islamic State.

Unfortunately, caving to Cuba won’t be one.

Originally appeared in the Boston Herald.

This Man Lost His Job Because He Wouldn’t Pay Union Dues - Daily Signal

This Man Lost His Job Because He Wouldn’t Pay Union Dues

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk /

Michael Romanchock recently got let go. But he was not “downsized.” His employer had no issues with his performance. Romanchock got fired for not paying dues to the Teamsters. His experience demonstrates how right-to-work would help Wisconsin’s workers and unemployed.

Romanchock started his job in June last year. This March, the Teamsters sent him a letter demanding dues. Romanchock refused. He had worked nine months without realizing the Teamsters represented him. Why pay $600 a year for representation he could not even notice? In May, the union threatened to have him fired if he did not pay. He still refused. So the Teamsters’ local made good on its threat. At its behest, Romanchock’s employer — a Pepsi bottling plant in Pennsylvania — let him go.

Right-to-work laws protect workers from such coercion by making union dues voluntary. Without them, unions contracts make paying dues a condition of employment.

In right-to-work states, unions must persuade workers to voluntarily purchase their services. That forces them to provide quality representation that improves workers’ lives. Unions do not have to work nearly as hard in states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with forced dues. Romanchock saw no visible benefit from his union but it could still demand he pay.

This system hurts workers. As Gary Casteel, the Southern regional director for the United Auto Workers puts it:

“This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right-to-work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50% of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.”

Right-to-work also attracts investment and jobs. Since 1990, employment has grown twice as fast in right-to-work states as in non-right-to-work states such as Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, right-to-work states have lower unemployment.

This happens because right-to-work laws make union organizers less aggressive. Mandatory dues put a lot of money on the table for unions. An organizing victory means every worker must pay them hundreds of dollars a year. So they put considerable resources into organizing companies in non-right-to-work states.

Of course, management gets the union it deserves. Businesses that treat their workers poorly will get unionized, with or without right-to-work. But companies want to know they can avoid unionizing drives if they treat their workers well. Voluntary dues make that much more likely. Union organizing drops substantially after states pass right-to-work. Consequently, many businesses prefer right-to-work states.

When foreign automakers came to America, they deliberately located primarily in right-to-work jurisdictions instead of the Midwest. Boeing put its new production line in South Carolina for the same reason. As economic development consultant David Brandon reports, “More than half of our companies either make it (right-to-work) a threshold or a very important factor in making a decision on where to locate a factory and other operations.”

Attracting jobs helps unemployed workers — such as Romanchock — who need new jobs. Wisconsin’s failure to pass right-to-work drives away businesses at which they could work. No wonder polling finds Americans support right-to-work by a 3-to-1 margin.

Unions prefer to force workers to pay them dues. They justify this by arguing that right-to-work lowers wages and forces them to represent “free riders.” Neither claim withstands scrutiny. Right-to-work states have below-average wages, but only because they have lower costs of living. Adjusting for this shows they have just as high — and possibly higher — real wages as the rest of America.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled in Consolidated Edison Co. vs. NLRB that federal law allows unions to negotiate “members’ only” contracts. They can bargain on behalf of only dues-paying members if they wish. When unions represent non-members they do so voluntarily — as Romanchock’s union did. That hardly justifies compelling him and other workers to pay dues.

Wisconsin should become the next right-to-work state. This would expand economic opportunities and increase personal freedom in Wisconsin. Few other policies could do as much to boost Wisconsin’s attractiveness to new businesses.

If the Legislature does not act, cities and villages can. Wisconsin’s home rule statute delegates to them the authority to make laws for the “welfare” and “commercial benefit” of their residents, provided they do not conflict with state law. No state law prohibits right-to-work. Consequently, home rule gives Wisconsin’s municipalities the authority to pass right-to-work locally. With such ordinances cities and villages could protect the welfare of their workers and unemployed.

Either statewide or locally right-to-work would protect Wisconsinites from becoming the next Michael Romanchock.

Originally appeared in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. 

14 States Cut Taxes in 2014. Is Yours One of Them? - Daily Signal

14 States Cut Taxes in 2014. Is Yours One of Them?

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward /

Map: State Tax Cut Roundup/ALEC

Map: State Tax Cut Roundup/ALEC

With Wisconsin leading the way, 14 states enacted “significant, broad-based tax cuts” in 2014, according to a report released this week.

Surprisingly, several states controlled by Democrats made the American Legislative Exchange Council list. Then again, 2014 was an election year.

The blue states that made the cut were:

Minnesota: The Democratic stronghold “bowed to economic reality,” said Jonathan Williams, director of ALEC’s Center for State Fiscal Reform. The cuts in corporate taxes, however, will be largely offset by $2.1 billion in tax increases enacted in 2013.

New York: The Empire State increased its death-tax exemption and lowered its corporate tax rate.

Maryland: After raising taxes and fees 100 times under Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, the state increased the exemption on its death tax, nearing the federal rate.

Rhode Island: The state cut corporate taxes, while broadening them. It also raised the death-tax exemption, but hiked other fees. ALEC called Rhode Island’s actions a “close call.”

By comparison, Wisconsin, under Republican Gov. Scott Walker, slashed some $800 million in taxes, making the Badger State No. 1 on ALEC’s scorecard.

Other tax-cutting states were Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Looking ahead, Williams and research analyst Ben Wilterdink predicted 2015 will be a “record-breaking year” for state tax reductions.

“Lots of pro-growth candidates were elected,” said Williams, citing new governors in Nebraska and Arizona.

ALEC did not list states that raised taxes.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

Why Even Common Core Supporters Are Changing Their Minds - Daily Signal

Why Even Common Core Supporters Are Changing Their Minds

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward / Ed Feulner /

It’s one thing to experience “buyer’s remorse” when the product is something you can return easily, from new clothes to a set of high-end speakers. It’s another when you’re talking about your state’s educational standards.

Yet more and more states are finding that there’s simply no living with Common Core. Parents, teachers, students and lawmakers have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the federally backed standards — and more and more of them are taking action.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example, once backed Common Core, saying in 2012 that he expected it to “raise expectations for every child.” By this summer, however, he was pulling his state out of the program. He insisted it was sold falsely to states as voluntary standards and that he was the victim of a “bait and switch.”

That is the crux of the criticism against Common Core — that the federal government got recession-strapped states to sign on by offering more than $4 billion in grants and waivers under the Race to the Top program. Many lawmakers were eager to sign on — at first. Now they are worried about losing those waivers if they drop Common Core.

That concern even led Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, to propose legislation that would “prohibit the federal government from mandating, incentivizing or coercing states to adopt the Common Core state standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.”

So far, 19 states have made significant efforts to push back against Common Core. Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana have exited the standards, and others appear poised to do likewise.

Who can blame them? The more teachers and parents see of Common Core, the less they like it.

Math problems that used to be solved in two or three easy steps now take a dozen or more, and with no discernible advantage — unless the point is to make things more complex. “In the real world,” one engineer father said of the mathematics homework his son brought home, “simplification is valued over complication.”

When it comes to reading, Common Core inexplicably junks many of the classic works of fiction that have long prepared students to think critically. In their place are “informational texts” that will cause college readiness to decrease, said professor Sandra Stotsky, former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education.

The main problem is that Common Core exemplifies a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that is toxic in the world of education. No matter how well-meaning some bureaucrats in Washington may be, they can’t prescribe standards that will work perfectly in every school of every district of every state. What works in Peoria, Illinois, may not work in Portland, Oregon.

“Adopting Common Core national standards and tests surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to distant national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington,” education researcher Lindsey Burke writes. “It is the antithesis of reform that would put control of education in the hands of those closest to students: local school leaders and parents.”

That, in fact, is the solution. What’s needed here is parent-directed education. We need school choice, which allows families to select the academic setting that’s right for them. That might be the local public school, a nearby private school or home school.

Such an approach is understandably appealing to frustrated families, many of whom have embraced school choice programs. The number taking advantage of options such as vouchers, tuition tax credit programs and education savings accounts has gone from fewer than 50,000 in 2000 to more than 300,000 today.

We don’t need questionable universal standards handed down to us from Mount Olympus. Choice in education should be our standard. Common Core restricts choice and simply doesn’t make the grade.

Originally appeared in the Washington Times.

Did Unqualified Students Get Favorable Treatment at University of Texas? - Daily Signal

Did Unqualified Students Get Favorable Treatment at University of Texas?

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward / Ed Feulner / Jon Cassidy /

Supporters of University of Texas President Bill Powers have for months worked mightily to deny or to marginalize evidence lawmakers were pulling strings to get unqualified students admitted to the university.

A new trove of public records demonstrates that many of Powers’ most vocal defenders — key alumni association members, an education coalition, politicians and witnesses involved in a series of impeachment hearings — have been involved in subverting university’s admissions process.

The records also show the Texas Exes alumni association and the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education were, in effect, two more arms of Powers’ public relations team.

The emails were first obtained but not published by Tony McDonald, legal counsel for the conservative advocacy nonprofit Empower Texans.

On Jan. 31, 2013, Leslie Cedar, CEO of the Texas Exes, wrote to Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, suggesting Gilligan admit a student who had been rejected in exchange for a $25,000 donation, according to one of the emails.

The applicant’s father, apparently, “hasn’t done much giving but was about to cut you a 25k check,” Cedar wrote. The original request came from Richard Leshin, former president of the Texas Exes, who is close to Powers and to South Texas power brokers Carlos Zaffirini and his wife, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini.

Earlier this year, Leshin, a Corpus Christi lawyer, wrote an op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News denouncing as “outlandish propaganda” reports that the university was admitting sub-par students because of political influence.

Gilligan got back to Cedar and Leshin within a half-hour, offering a deal in which the applicant “will be admitted into McCombs upon completing several of the prerequisites (e.g. Calculus, Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics) with good grades (around a 3.5 GPA). Will that work?”

Gilligan declined to comment.

Leshin is a founding member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group of Longhorn insiders established to maintain the status quo at UT. Members of the coalition and the alumni association have been quoted in dozens of news articles, creating the appearance of broad support for Powers.

Far from being independent voices, the email records find the coalition and the alumni association often looped in on message coordination emails from Powers’ PR staff.

Read more on Watchdog.org.

Taxpayers on Losing End of Government’s Lax Oversight of Florida Nonprofit - Daily Signal

Taxpayers on Losing End of Government’s Lax Oversight of Florida Nonprofit

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward / Ed Feulner / Jon Cassidy / William Patrick /

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Hilda Hall-Dennis was no stranger to nonprofit community work.

Over the course of 11 years, she managed three nonprofits in South Florida. In February 2006, she launched her own nonprofit — the Business Technology Development Corp., a business incubator subsisting on government grants.

The venture purportedly provided business development classes, technical assistance, mentoring and reduced-rent space to new small businesses.

But by September 2012, the state of Florida shut it down.

Hall-Dennis submitted “fraudulent, phony and fake documents to obtain funds,” according to a Miami-Dade County Inspector General’s statement.

For years, she obtained hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, much of it going to bank accounts only she controlled. Last week, Hall-Dennis pleaded guilty to organizing a scheme to defraud the government and three counts of identity theft, all felonies.

Hall-Dennis took in $1,341,628 in total nonprofit grants over six years. Had any of the government benefactors bothered to check, they would’ve found Hall-Dennis failed to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of the Business Technology Development Corp. for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In May 2010, the IRS finally revoked its nonprofit status, but the grant money kept rolling in for more than two years.

According to a 40-page arrest affidavit, Hall-Dennis received another $460,000 in government grants after the IRS pulled the plug. She applied for $530,000 more but was finally caught before getting it. She will serve 4 ½ months in jail.

The grant agencies appear to have not fully verified her grant applications.

The main funding sources were Community Block Redevelopment Grants, a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development intended in part to create jobs, the City of Homestead and Florida’s Community Redevelopment Agency — an organization with its own troubled past.

Hall-Dennis received $948,353 in total CBRG funding, which passed through a local government agency called the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Housing and Community Development.

Another $234,500 came from the Homestead CRA, which also subsidized the Business Technology Development Corporation’s office rent to the tune of $158,775. Officially, BTDC paid $1 a year in rent.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

After Outcry, City Won’t Seize Man’s Home Over $40 Drug Bust - Daily Signal

After Outcry, City Won’t Seize Man’s Home Over $40 Drug Bust

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward / Ed Feulner / Jon Cassidy / William Patrick / Eric Boehm /

Philadelphia’s city government has dropped its attempt to seize two homes using civil asset forfeiture laws.

The city’s seizure of the homes made national headlines and became the basis for a lawsuit that challenges Philadelphia law enforcement agencies’ use of civil asset forfeiture in drug cases.

That lawsuit will continue even though the city has dropped these two cases.

Chris Sourovelis and his family lost their home earlier this year after his son was caught by police selling $40 of heroin.

The case, as has been previously reported, demonstrated some of the worst aspects of Philadelphia’s civil asset forfeiture program.

The city’s police department and district attorneys’ office regularly seizes homes, cars and other property from suspected criminals without any conviction — and in some cases, without any charges being filed.

“I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over 30 years. I never thought it was possible for the police to just show up at my doorstep without notice and take my house when I’ve done nothing wrong,” Sorovelis said Thursday in a statement. “But that’s exactly what happened to me and my family.”

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that challenges civil asset forfeiture cases across the country, took the case on behalf of the two families. Attorneys working on the lawsuit say the city has set up a “forfeiture machine” to take advantage of the perverse incentives created by the law.

Prosecutors in Philadelphia defend the practice as being a useful tool to fight drug dealers and targets homes and cars because they can be used to fuel the drug trade.

But those seizures also help pad law enforcement’s bottom line.

From 2002 through 2012, law enforcement in Philadelphia seized more than 1,000 homes, 3,200 vehicles and $44 million in cash, according to data obtained by the Institute for Justice through an open records request.

Those assets provided more than $64 million in revenue to the Philadelphia DA’s office, because Pennsylvania law allows local law enforcement to keep the proceeds from forfeited property after it is seized and resold.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

Harvard Activists Call Israeli-Made Soda Machines a ‘Microaggression’ - Daily Signal

Harvard Activists Call Israeli-Made Soda Machines a ‘Microaggression’

Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes / James Sherk / Kenric Ward / Ed Feulner / Jon Cassidy / William Patrick / Eric Boehm / Natalie Johnson /

Harvard University’s dining services backtracked on a plan to boycott Israeli-based SodaStream following a rebuke from the university president. Palestinian students had complained that the mere logo offended them.

Before the controversy sparked worldwide attention, the university’s dining services division decided to remove SodaStream labels while it awaited new machines from American companies EverPure and Crysalli.

“These machines can be seen as a microaggression to Palestinian students and their families and like the university doesn’t care about Palestinian human rights,” Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a senior member of the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, told the school’s newspaper.

Campus activists across the United States have cited “microaggressions,” unintended or minor slurs that offend or discriminate against minority groups, as the root of various protests or movements. Harvard’s is the most recent case.

Members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society cited “discomfort” with the SodaStream machines in meetings with university officials to have them removed, according to the “Harvard Crimson.”

The groups said the machines might offend those affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the company’s main factory is based in the long disputed West Bank. SodaStream announced in October it would be moving the factory from the contested area to southern Israel.

While the boycott appeased activists, Harvard President Drew Faust is requiring an investigation into dining services’ decision, saying it violated university policy.

“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Provost Alan Garber wrote in an email Wednesday. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the university, that will be rectified now.”

Dining services responded yesterday, writing in a statement that it had “mistakenly factored political concerns” into the decision.

The fate of the campus’ ties to SodaStream has not yet been determined.