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‘This Is the Wild West Out Here’

‘This Is the Wild West Out Here’DYER, Nevada—On a cold, windy day in late October, in one of the most remote and least populated regions of the state, a half-dozen workers prepared to drill another test hole in the arid volcanic rock. They were looking for deposits of lithium, a metal that has become indispensable to smartphones and electric-vehicle batteries, and which geologists estimate is so abundant here that mining companies from around the world are vying for a chance to make the next big discovery. The workers doing the drilling were contracted by Ioneer, an Australian company that has already invested millions in exploring what it believes could be one of the largest lithium producers in the world with an estimated net value of nearly $2 billion.Like almost all of the surrounding territory, this land is owned by the federal government and overseen by the Department of the Interior’s…


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We May Have No Privacy, But Things Can Always Get Worse

We May Have No Privacy, But Things Can Always Get WorseTwenty years ago at a Silicon Valley product launch, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy dismissed concern about digital privacy as a red herring: “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”“Zero privacy” was meant to placate us, suggesting that we have a fixed amount of stuff about ourselves that we’d like to keep private. Once we realized that stuff had already been exposed and, yet, the world still turned, we would see that it was no big deal. But what poses as unsentimental truth telling isn’t cynical enough about the parlous state of our privacy.That’s because the barrel of privacy invasion has no bottom. The rallying cry for privacy should begin with the strangely heartening fact that it can always get worse. Even now there’s something yet to lose, something often worth fiercely defending.For a recent example, consider Clearview AI:…


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Judge Sentelle Smacks Down the Trump Administration

Judge Sentelle Smacks Down the Trump AdministrationToday the D.C. Circuit held that the Secretary of Health and Human Services acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in approving work rules for Medicaid recipients. In both form and substance, this was a smackdown. As to form: The opinion is very short—the entirety of the reasoning occupies 10 pages, which is about as brisk as these things get. As to substance, the court clearly doesn’t see this as a close question. It begins its analysis by stating that “The district court is indisputably correct that the principal objective of Medicaid is providing health care coverage.” This is important, because, as the court notes, HHS justified the work rules as assisting health outcomes, “but that alternative objective lacks textual support. Indeed, the statute makes no mention of that objective.” Thus the court states: In short, we agree with the district court that the…


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The New Hampshire Newspaper Publisher Who Became the ‘Political Godmother’ of the Mode...

The New Hampshire Newspaper Publisher Who Became the ‘Political Godmother’ of the Mode…Nackey Scripps Loeb smiled as the phone calls came into a makeshift TV studio in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire. The state’s 1988 presidential primary was a few days away, and she was appearing live on C-SPAN to discuss what role her unusual—and unusually influential—local newspaper might play in the race.The Union Leader is New Hampshire’s only statewide newspaper and, thanks to its long history of archconservative rabble-rousing, is as much a part of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary lore as towering snowbanks and candidates hustling for votes in diners and on factory floors. But, as C-SPAN host Bruce Collins was discovering, Nackey’s appeal transcended both the election cycle and geography. Many of the callers that day were loyal out-of-state subscribers who received their papers by mail and were thrilled at the chance to speak to Nackey.“You have many admirers…


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Why the Presidency Can’t Just Go Back to “Normal” After Trump

Why the Presidency Can’t Just Go Back to “Normal” After TrumpPresident Donald Trump has spent three years incinerating a group of practices commonly lumped together under the nebulous category of “norms and traditions,” causing the chattering class to worry that he’ll “destroy the presidency”; “undermine American democracy”; “erode” our very institutions with each break with precedent or decorum. There are also those, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, who insist that things can go back to normal when Trump is gone. Either in January 2021 or January 2025, these optimists hope, America will experience a restoration of these timeless customs.Here’s the problem: Many of these “presidential norms and traditions” that Trump has left by the wayside aren’t timeless at all; they’re actually quite new. They grew up alongside and in reaction to the expansion of both the federal state and the presidency—a process that began in the early 20th century but…


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Report: Barr Protected Turkish Bank From Prosecution to Appease Erdogan

Report: Barr Protected Turkish Bank From Prosecution to Appease ErdoganPresident Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to claim he has a “legal right” to interfere in Justice Department cases, but insisted that he has “so far chosen not to.” Anyone following Trump’s social media presence knows that not to be the case. He regularly tweets about business before the Justice Department and only last week praised Attorney General William Barr for softening the department’s sentencing guidance for Roger Stone, a Trump ally who was convicted of lying to Congress and obstruction of justice last year.  On Saturday, CNN turned up an egregious example of Barr running interference for Trump at DOJ, reporting that he “personally spearheaded” an effort last year to save Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank, from being indicted after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “pressed Trump in a bid to avoid charges.” Erdogan’s personal involvement complemented a months-long lobbying…


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