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‘Thought Criminals’: Aggrieved Conservative Elites Announce New University Dedicated to ‘Truth’ – But Who’s Funding It?

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Bari Weiss. Andrew Sullivan. Jonathan Rauch. Larry Summers.

Those are some of the more recognizable names a new university launched Monday lists on the front page of its website.

Its founder says some of them have been “treated like thought criminals.”

The University of Austin (which sounds remarkably like The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883,) in an announcement says it is “dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth.” It is not currently accredited and offers no degrees.

But some of the people it is attracting have highly-controversial backgrounds. Indeed, some, like Weiss and Sullivan, seem to thrive on creating controversy.

It’s clear, from its founder’s message, that this is an enterprise dedicated to protect those who use their huge platforms to decry being “canceled.”

“Nearly a quarter of American academics in the social sciences or humanities endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences,” Pano Kanelos, the former president of St. John’s College and apparently the founder of The University of Austin, writes Monday at Bari Weiss’ Substack. “Over a third of conservative academics and PhD students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.”

Kanelos discusses some of the University’s founding faculty – a prerequisite appears to be having been subjected to criticism.

“On our quads, faculty are being treated like thought criminals. Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago scientist who has objected to aspects of affirmative action, was recently disinvited from delivering a prominent public lecture on planetary climate at MIT. Peter Boghossian, a philosophy professor at Portland State University, finally quit in September after years of harassment by faculty and administrators. Kathleen Stock, a professor at University of Sussex, just resigned after mobs threatened her over her research on sex and gender.”

Its FAQ answers the question “Why Austin?” by jokingly replying: “If it’s good enough for Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, it’s good enough for us.”

The big question of course is who is funding this endeavor? The “University” says it will have a physical campus.

That’s expensive, as is paying top names.

“We have secured the seed money necessary to launch the university. But we are in the process of securing $250 million, which will enable us to grow into a comprehensive university,” it says.

“UATX has requested and is awaiting a tax-exempt determination from the IRS. At present, UATX is fiscally sponsored by Cicero Research, a tax-exempt entity organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

An online search for “Cicero Research” nets almost nothing, except a one page listing on Cause IQ, a company to help nonprofits grow.

According to that filing for the year ending December 2020, Cicero Research has no full-time employees, no assets, but under “characteristics” is tagged “political advocacy.”

Who’s actually funding this is currently unknown.

 

 

 

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COMMENTARY

TikTok Influencer Ignites Backlash After Posting Homophobic and Racist Rant Attacking Home Depot Workers

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Amanda Marie, an influencer with around 14,000 followers on TikTok, is getting some backlash after she posting a video describing how she harassed a Home Depot employee while using homophobic language and telling him to “go back to your country,” Boing Boing reports.

The video shows Marie telling a Black employee that she’s going to get him fired. She then goes to her car and recounts the incident from her perspective, saying, “I said, ‘I’m not leaving.’ … I then turned around and said, ‘If you’re going to be rude, go back to your country. Go back to your country!’ ‘Cause he wasn’t from here.”

“So I turn around, and I say, ‘Go back to your motherf***ing country and learn some f***ing manners before you come here,'” she said.

IN OTHER NEWS: ‘Collateral damages to freedom’: Alex Jones skips trial for segment downplaying Sandy Hook deaths

She also tried to claim the homophobic slur “fag,” which she allegedly used against one of the employees, is not seen as an offensive term back in New York.

As Boing Boing points out, she deleted the video from her various platforms after the backlash.

Watch the video below.

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COMMENTARY

‘Brazenly Cynical’: Collins Under Fire Over Threat to Gay Marriage Bill After Dems Reach Deal on Taxes, Climate

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U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is under fire after threatening bipartisan support of legislation to protect same-sex marriage because Democrats were finally able to put together a historic tax and climate change bill – a huge win for Democrats, the Biden administration, and Americans.

“I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue,” Senator Collins told HuffPost Thursday. The news outlet’s Jonathan Nicholson reports her remarks were focused on “Senate Democrats’ unveiling of their bill to raise taxes on some companies, boost IRS enforcement and spend the resulting money to fund anti-climate change efforts.”

HuffPost adds that “Collins warned that the manner in which that victory was secured, where it appeared Democrats kept Manchin and Schumer’s negotiations under wraps until a separate bipartisan computer chip production incentive bill was passed by the Senate, hurt the effort to gather support among Republicans to bring the gay marriage bill to the floor.”

READ MORE: ‘She Knew What Brett Kavanaugh Was Going to Do’: Morning Joe Calls Out Susan Collins Over Abortion Ruling

HuffPost Editorial Director and Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel tweeted, “Susan Collins tells @JNicholsonInDC that same-sex marriage bill may be doomed now bc of what Dems did on the inflation reduction bill.”

Response to what many on social media saw as a threat from Collins was fast, with strong outrage and accusations of putting politics over morality and the lives of same-sex couples.

“I love when our elected representatives admit that they vote based on spite. It makes government feel like family,” sarcastically tweeted one social media user.

READ MORE: Susan Collins Called the Cops to Report a Crime That Doesn’t Exist

“Gay people shouldn’t have rights because Democrats raised taxes on billionaires,” said another, appearing to mock Collins.

Journalist Jeff Sharlet, author of the book and producer of the Netflix series “The Family,” writes: “Shorter Susan Collins: you can be married or have a planet to live on. Pick one. Don’t be greedy.”

“Sorry gays, Democrats raised taxes on the rich so we might have to doom your marriages,” sarcastically tweeted Mississippi Free Press journalist Ashton Pittman.

“Republicans are so mad that Democrats are funding clean energy & reducing inflation they are going to (1) refuse to protect gay marriage (2) refuse to fund desperate help for wounded veterans (3) try to block investment in technology to protect US from China. That is insane,” tweeted economist David Rothschild.

“Gotta wonder if a quote this brazenly cynical that reveals this is all a game to her will have any impact whatsoever on how she’s broadly covered or perceived by the moderates she purports to aggressively court,” asked NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins.

Referring to Sen. Collins, top DNC attorney Marc Elias warned, “If this is who you are trusting to pass Electoral Count Act Reform, I want you to introduce you to a girl named Lucy and her football.”

READ MORE: ‘They Lied to You’: Susan Collins Blasted as a ‘Joke’ and a ‘Fraud’ After Statement on Kavanaugh and Gorsuch

“This is the GOP,” writes Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall. “Because Dems are passing a health care, climate, inflation bill GOPs are retaliating by voting against the semiconductors bill they actually support in the House. They’re also going to vote against SSM bill because they’re miffed about the inflation bill.”

“I just remembered that this isn’t the first time Susan Collins has used LGBTQ rights to lash out over petty BS,” noted journalist Parker Malloy. “When the Human Rights Campaign endorsed her opponent in 2020, Collins decided she no longer supported the Equality Act.”

Attorney Max Kennerly: “A story as old as time: conservatives claiming that they were going to be good people but those darn liberals made them be bigots.”

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison: “A caucus of spoiled brats… Because people’s freedoms and rights should be contingent on the GOP getting their damn way!”

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COMMENTARY

Legal Expert Dives Into ‘Bombshell’ Report: ‘Trump Is the Subject of a Criminal Investigation’

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The Washington Post’s exclusive report published Tuesday evening, revealing for the first time that the Dept. of Justice is investigating Donald Trump‘s actions as part of a January 6 criminal probe, is a “bombshell,” according to legal expert Benjamin Wittes.

“The story is a bombshell because it reports for the first time that Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation for his individual conduct in the wake of the 2020 election,” Wittes writes in a lengthy thread on Twitter. He also, speaking frankly, says there is a “shitload” of new information in the Post’s report.

Wittess’ name may be familiar to some. He’s a legal journalist, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Lawfare Blog, a go-to resource for legal news and opinion, especially on issues of national security, Donald Trump, and the Trump presidency. Among the many lines on his résumé, Wittes is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Wittes points to this sentence in the Post’s report: “Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

He explains, “This strongly suggests that this disclosure is coming from the Pence camp. It is a crime for prosecutors or FBI agents to disclose what Pence aides were asked by prosecutors. It is perfectly legal for the aides or their lawyers to talk about it. Assume the leak is from witnesses.”

Calling it “one of the most interesting passages in the story,” Wittes highlights this passage:

“The prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021; his pressure campaign on Pence to overturn the election; and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states, the people said. Some of the questions focused directly on the extent of Trump’s involvement in the fake-elector effort led by his outside lawyers, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, these people said.”

And then this one:

“The Washington Post and other news organizations have previously written that the Justice Department is examining the conduct of Eastman, Giuliani and others in Trump’s orbit. But the degree of prosecutors’ interest in Trump’s actions has not been previously reported, nor has the review of senior Trump aides’ phone records.”

Wittes amusingly writes that the Post’s “reporters here are being modest—which is actually rare in this business. The technical term for the amount of new information in this story is ‘shitload.’ And the quality of the information is very high. This is how high-stakes reporting on big investigations should look.”

Wittes is not in the camp of those who have highly criticized the Dept. of Justice for its approach on prosecuting the January 6 insurrection. As recently as last week he penned a piece at Lawfare titled, “In Defense of the Justice Department.”

He concludes: “Bottom line. This is a really meaty story packed with a lot of new stuff. Other reporters will be chasing and building on for the next several days.”

Other legal experts have responded to the Post’s report. George Conway, whose sense of humor is often apparent, tweeted: “All I can say after today’s developments is: Will be wild!”

 

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