DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Three Columbia College administrators placed on leave amid investigation into leaked texts sent during panel on Jewish life.

Three Columbia administrators have been placed on leave pending an investigation into text messages they sent in late May during an alumni weekend panel about Jewish life on campus, Columbia College Dean Josef Sorett told staff on Thursday.

As the panel’s four speakers discussed antisemitism at Columbia for nearly two hours, one attendee captured photos of Vice Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Susan Chang-Kim’s exchanges with Sorett, Dean of Undergraduate Student Life Cristen Kromm, and Associate Dean for Student and Family Support Matthew Patashnick.

One of the texts included vomit emojis while referring to an October op-ed penned by the campus rabbi, and another described the panel as “difficult to listen to.” The messages have drawn criticism from Columbia affiliates and congressional leaders alike for being “disparaging” and in “poor faith.”

[The Columbia Spectator] obtained photos of the messages, which were first leaked to the Washington Free Beacon and published on June 12. The attendee, a Columbia alum who graduated decades ago, spoke to Spectator on the condition of anonymity, citing concerns for safety.

It gets better: Sorett calls the cops.

Since then, the Free Beacon’s coverage of the administrators’ text messages during the panel on the ordeal of Jews at Columbia this past spring has been impacting…, as Drudge used to put it. On June 20 Eliana Johnson (my daughter) reported that Sorett placed his three texting colleagues on leave pending an investigation. Eliana drily noted the anomalies:

A Columbia spokesman said the school had no comment regarding why Sorett, who took part in the text exchanges, was not placed on leave or on the propriety of Sorett making the announcement that his colleagues are under investigation. Likewise, the spokesman declined to say who would conduct the investigation, to whom the results would be reported, and whether the results would be made public.

Can you imagine how Sorett’s conversation with his colleagues went down? It must have been like something out of Blazing Saddles: “We’ve gotta protect our phony baloney jobs!”

Yesterday Eliana and Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium turned up the heat on Sorett. With a little help from their source, they extracted one of Sorett’s previously unreported text messages during the panel discussion: “‘LMAO’: Dean of Columbia College Mocked Hillel Head in Newly Obtained Text Exchange.” Subhead: “Josef Sorett has sought to distance himself from leaked messages that are now the subject of a university investigation. The latest text message shows his participation in the affair.”

What you mean “LMAO,” Kemo Sabe?

Seeking a comment from Sorett, the Free Beacon then sent reporter Jessica Costescu to Sorett’s Morningside Heights apartment. What happened next? Sorett called the cops (both Columbia’s and the NYPD). Costescu observes yet another anomaly: “Sorett’s willingness to call the police to protect him from a reporter comes four years after he signed a 2020 faculty letter calling to ‘defund the NYPD by $1 billion.’”

As I wrote at the beginning of the month, linking to a piece by Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner: Old and Busted: Defund the Police. The New Hotness? Lock ’em up libs run the Democratic Party.

LEFT, RIGHT TRANSPARENCY VOICES BACK NIH FOIA AUDIT CALL: Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall’s demand for the FOIA compliance audit of NIH going to 2014 is getting support across a broad front of the political spectrum.

Big Government cannot survive transparency and accountability, so hopefully this NIH audit will be the first step toward mandatory annual FOIA compliance probes at every federal department and agencyc.

WELL, THAT’S JUST WHAT SKYNET WOULD WANT YOU TO BELIEVE, ISN’T IT? Michael Strain: The Case for AI Optimism.

Even if we had a clear sense of the potential reach of AI, we would need to be careful about projecting the character of its effects.

Here, too, the examples of recent technological changes are instructive. As noted above, the digital revolution meant that ATMs could execute the core functions of a 1970s-era bank teller — taking deposits, dispensing cash, etc. — with more precision and at less expense than a human employee. As a result, banks shifted those functions from tellers to machines. But as the technology scholar James Bessen has demonstrated, this did not lead to a large reduction in the number of bank tellers. In 1990, there were around 100,000 ATMs and 500,000 bank tellers in the United States. In 2010, there were about 400,000 ATMs and just under 600,000 bank tellers.

ATMs reduced the cost of operating a bank branch in large part by nearly halving the number of tellers required to work in each branch. So why did the number of bank tellers rise rather than fall? It turns out that banks used the money they saved by installing ATMs to open additional branches — each of which required tellers.

What’s more, ATMs changed what bank tellers do. Tellers became relationship managers, handling customers whose needs were more complex than those with checks to deposit or withdrawals to request. The interpersonal skills required to make customers feel welcome when they enter branches and to handle difficult or complex situations became more important than the ability to accurately and repeatedly execute deposit and withdrawal procedures.

Something similar is likely to happen with AI over the next few decades. To illustrate, we can think of jobs as bundles of tasks. Generative AI systems will perform some of those tasks at less expense and with greater efficacy than human workers, while others will augment workers’ ability to carry out other tasks, thereby increasing productivity. Consider three examples — presented with a significant degree of uncertainty given that we are at the early stages of the AI revolution — that illustrate how this might work.

First, let’s take the case of lawyers and paralegals. These individuals will need to spend much less time writing briefs and classifying documents — two tasks that large language models will be able to perform — than they do now. This will give them more time to spend interviewing witnesses and developing legal strategy. AI tools will help lawyers complete these tasks by proposing potential questions to ask witnesses and lines of argument to support a broader strategy. But AI will not be able to effectively interview witnesses or set the strategy itself. Some law firms experimenting with AI tools today are finding it is allowing junior associates to advance faster because it is so efficient at performing basic legal research, thereby jump-starting careers.

Second, consider the case of physicians. Because AI systems will be able to read and interpret scans and test results more effectively and inexpensively than humans can, physicians will need to spend much less time performing those tasks. AI tools will also be able to record and update patient information in medical charts and records by listening in when physicians are examining patients. This will allow physicians to spend more time communicating with patients, thereby increasing the quality and effectiveness of those conversations. For advanced illnesses, it will grant physicians more time to coordinate with other physicians to manage care comprehensively.

Retail-store managers — a third example — will need to spend less time managing employees’ schedules and the cycle of inventory; AI tools will be able to complete those tasks for them. This will give managers more time to oversee and coach workers, solve problems, and create a positive shopping experience for customers. AI will also assist managers by making suggestions to optimize the shopping experience in the store and proposing potential management strategies based on an employee’s career history and other factors.

In the Wall Street Journal, Virginia Postrel looks at The Self-Checkout Revolution:

On June 26, 1974, Sharon Buchanan, a supermarket cashier in Troy, Ohio, made retailing history when she became the first person to ring up a sale by scanning Universal Product Codes, rather than punching keys on a cash register. Fifty years later, we take bar-code scanning for granted. It is the normal way to check out in most stores.
The question today is whether the person doing it is a store employee or the customer. More than half of U.S. food and grocery retailers have self-checkout systems, as do about a third of convenience and fuel outlets, according to a 2023 survey by market-research firm Incisiv for NCR Voyix. Another 37% of convenience stores are testing or scaling up self-checkout.
The cashier position is one of the most important—and trickiest—in retailing. Cashiers must balance speed, accuracy and security while leaving customers with a positive impression. Innovations at the cashier stand do more than increase productivity or profit. They reflect and shape culture.

Thanks to rapid advancements in AI technology, and alas, the rampant spread of shoplifting, in a few years, the retail experience could be a very different one for shoppers.

And regarding AI in general, as Glenn has written, “the thing about AI is that AI keeps getting better, while people stay about the same. (Indeed, there’s some evidence that the average person is getting dumber, which if true will only close the gap faster.)”

But as Strain concludes, “Like all technological revolutions, the AI revolution will be disruptive. But it will ultimately lead to a better world,” so read the whole thing.

(Of course, the better world won’t stop the March of Dimes Syndrome from marching merrily on, but that’s whole ‘nother issue.)

VDH: How California’s Paradise Become Our Purgatory.

What happened to the once-beautiful California paradise?

Millions of productive but frustrated, overtaxed, and underserved middle-class residents have fled to low-crime, low-tax, and well-served red states in disgust

In turn, millions of illegal migrants have swarmed the state, given its sanctuary-city policies, refusal to enforce the law, and generous entitlements.

Meanwhile, a tiny coastal elite, empowered by $9 trillion in Silicon Valley market capitalization, fiddled while their state burned.

California became a medieval society of plutocratic barons, subsidized peasants, and a shrinking and fleeing middle class. It is now home to a few rich estates, subsidized apartments, and unaffordable middle-class houses.

California suffers from poorly ranked public schools—but brags about its prestigious private academies. Its highways are lethal—but it hosts the most private jets in the nation.

The fantasies of a protected enclave of Gavin Newsom, Nancy Pelosi, and the masters of the Silicon Valley universe have become the abject nightmares of everyone else.

In sum, a privileged Bay Area elite inherited a California paradise and turned it into purgatory.

In 1984, the book The Odyssey File was published to promote the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact. It assembled the emails, then still a newfangled method of communication, that were sent back and forth from science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke, living in Sri Lanka, and Hollywood director Peter Hyams, as they hashed out the film’s screenplay. Hyams’ January 3, 1984 missive to Clarke was as follows (extra-wide ellipses in original):

This is the day after the Rose Bowl . . . Which has nothing to do with roses or fine china. It is a football game and a parade . . . Attended by more than one million people. The weather was glorious . . . Which is a calamity. Every winter . . . When the rest of the nation is in sub-zero weather . . . God plays one of his little practical jokes on California. The day the Rose Bowl is televised . . . The sky is clear blue . . .  And the temperature is in the seventies. (yesterday it was in the eighties.) Naturally the rest of America takes one look at this, and decides to move out here. Most Californians pray for lousy weather . . . To keep this place from becoming overcrowded.

Alas, that’s not as big of a concern for Californians these days.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, CONFIDENCE EDITION: Polls: Confidence in colleges and universities continues plummet to ‘new lows.’

The results not only demonstrate a significant decline in national confidence since the 2023 Gallup poll, but that this decline was especially severe among young people ages 18 to 34, Democrats, and women, with those demographics showing the largest drops, FIRE researcher Nathan Honeycutt wrote in a news release.

What’s more, the drop in confidence from FIRE’s February to May polls shows the unrest and pro-Palestinian protests that have engulfed campuses in recent months has hurt higher education’s reputation further.

Honeycutt told The College Fix recent headlines over academic dishonesty, such as the plagiarism accusations lodged at several top-level campus leaders over the last seven months, could also explain the decline.

Other possible factors cited by FIRE include bias against center-right beliefs, rising tuition costs, and administrative bloat. . . . “The curtain is being pulled back.”

None of that’s a surprise to InstaPundit readers, but apparently their core customer base is catching on.

THE CORBYNIZATION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONTINUES APACE: Manhattan DA Drops Charges Against 30 Columbia Protesters Arrested Over Campus Building Occupation.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, led by anti-Trump prosecutor Alvin Bragg, dismissed trespassing charges against 30 Columbia University protesters who were arrested for occupying a campus building.

The Washington Free Beacon attended the Thursday afternoon proceedings at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. A trove of students and their supporters, many of whom used face masks and keffiyehs to cover their faces, streamed into the building just before 3 p.m., the Free Beacon observed.

Inside the courtroom—where audio and video recording is not allowed—a prosecutor in Bragg’s office argued that the defendants should not face criminal penalties, citing their lack of criminal histories and arguing that the protesters will face internal discipline at Columbia.

The prosecutor also argued that Bragg’s office lacked evidence to land convictions in the cases, given those who occupied Hamilton Hall wore masks and covered up surveillance cameras. New York City police arrested the occupiers while they were inside Hamilton Hall.

“Those Black Bloc tactics work,” John Sexton adds, “which is why leftist criminals planning to break the law use them. In theory, someone who was there could testify about what happened, but so long as there is not one honest person in the group, prosecutors can’t prove who did what. Or at least, it makes it easier to claim they can’t prosecute cases that Alvin Bragg’s office surely didn’t want to prosecute anyway. Everyone is off the hook thanks to vandalism and those stupid face scarves.”

SANDY’S WAR: The AOC AIPAC Freakout.

In response to AOC’s preposterously bratty shot at AIPAC, the organization responded, correctly, that polling definitively shows American voters to be pro-Israel and therefore members of Congress are responding to their constituents, not fear of Jewish money.

To that, Ocasio-Cortez shot back: “If AIPAC positions were so popular, they’d be free. Instead, they’re bought.” Ocasio-Cortez posted that last night, but I am writing this now because I have only just stopped laughing at her attempt at wit. Not with. At.

In fact, AIPAC’s positions are unquestionably popular on the whole—even AOC is capable of seeing that. But the overall point that campaign donations represent only unpopular opinions is ironic given that, as others pointed out to her, AOC is no fundraising lightweight. If her position is that she is bought and paid for, and therefore she assumes that to be true of others—well, that is quite the projection, but please leave the American Jewish community out of it.

At this point, Ocasio-Cortez essentially exists to live-tweet a 2024 adaptation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It’s Henry Ford-ism for the TikTok generation. Her comments earned her unqualified praise from white nationalists such as Nick Fuentes, because anti-Semitism is less an ideology than it is a mind-virus. The similarities between Ocasio-Cortez and Fuentes are far more pronounced than are their differences. The political coalition the two share is not terribly popular on a national level. But its amplification by likeminded media and loudmouthed activists is degrading to American politics and society.

Speaking of which: Birds of a Feather: LOL! Nick Fuentes Praises AOC for Being America First and She Just Can’t DEEEAL.

Seems Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has an infamous new fan … a fan who clearly appreciates her and her obvious hatred of all things Israel.

Nick Fuentes.

You guys, this is like the most Twitchy thing EVER.

AOC has become one of the groyper’s favorites.

Ha.

“Notice she didn’t mention anything about antisemitism or how much white supremacists hate the Jews. Fascinating.”

Related:

She’s really bristling at being associated with Fuentes, and yet:

AOC Joins the Left’s Swelling Ranks of Anti-Semites with Corbyn Endorsement.

AOC rocks Black Panthers shirt, touts group’s free food program.

AOC chief of staff criticized for wearing shirt touting Nazi collaborator:

As one wag joked on Twitter in 2019, “Look just because she’s favorably comparing herself to the lady that Franco liked a lot who sheltered Mengele doesn’t mean… OK, I forgot where I was doing with this.”

(Classical reference in headline.)

GANGSTER GOVERNMENT: Lock Merrick Garland Up For Protecting Biden: Voters. “In the latest Rasmussen Reports survey shared with Secrets, voters said that like Trump advisers before him, Garland should be sent to prison for failing to give Congress Biden’s interview recordings, drawing a contempt of Congress charge. By a 47%-31% margin, voters told Rasmussen that they believed Garland was guilty as charged. And 44% said he should be sent to prison, while 35% didn’t.”

Yeah, but it’s pretty hard to get Merrick Garland to prosecute Merrick Garland.

Related:

BARI WEISS: Was Legalizing Weed a Mistake? A Debate.

It’s been a little over a decade since cannabis was first legalized recreationally in the United States. As of today, recreational weed is legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia, and Americans have never been more pro-weed. In a Gallup poll from last November, 70 percent of U.S. adults said they support the federal legalization of marijuana, up from 50 percent in 2013 and a mere twelve percent in 1969.

In May, the Biden administration moved to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I, where it sits alongside heroin and LSD, to Schedule III, a category of drugs that the DEA says have a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” States with legal marijuana report economic benefits, a reduced burden on the criminal justice system, and positive health outcomes for patients with chronic pain and epilepsy.

But is legal cannabis really such a no-brainer? A recent study found that marijuana use—whether through smoking, edibles, or vapes—is associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Other studies have consistently shown that so-called “high-potency cannabis” increases the risk of psychotic episodes in young users.

Flashback: Second Thoughts on Pot: “‘Yeah, they all smoke.’ ‘Well . . . other things too, right?’ ‘Sometimes. But they all smoke.’”

QUESTION ASKED: Does the Electoral Reaper Beckon for Jamaal Bowman?

Jamaal Bowman wants you to know that he’s now sincerely sorry about all those rapes.

Not ones that he committed himself, mind you. (Bowman may be a deeply goofy, lumbering “Squad” Democrat representing Westchester County, N.Y., with all the worst progressive politics in the world, but he is reportedly quite the genially approachable fellow.) The rapes of all those Israeli women, that is — atrocities committed on and after the October 7 surprise attack by Hamas on the Jewish state. Politico reported this morning, in an entry from its “New York Playbook,” that Bowman, currently running for his life against locally popular Westchester County executive George Latimer in the Democratic primary set for next Tuesday, now regrets having called reports of brutal sexual violence inflicted (indeed, GoPro’ed) by Hamas terrorists on Israeli women “propaganda” and “lies.”

Back in November, Bowman sang a different tune: On November 17, he stated that “there’s still no evidence of beheaded babies or raped women, but they still keep using that lie [for] propaganda.” Now he’s sorry.

Not helping matters: In “Bowman’s Folly,” Christopher F. Rufo and Luke Rosiak write that “The New York congressman appears to have plagiarized parts of his Ed.D. dissertation:”

Jamaal Bowman, the controversial New York congressman, often appeals to his work as a former school principal and his Ed.D. in education as the basis for his policy positions.

But, according to our analysis, Bowman’s primary academic work—his 2019 dissertation, “Community Schools: The Perceptions and Practices that Foster Broad-Based Collaboration amongst leaders with the Community School Ecosystem”—is riddled with basic errors, failures of logic, and multiple instances of plagiarism. (Bowman did not return a request for comment.)

Bowman has boasted about the paper on social media and considers it formative to his political orientation. When asked recently his political views, Bowman said, “I identify as an educator, and as a Black man in America. But my policies align with those of a socialist, so I guess that makes me a socialist.”

Fortunately, CBS stands ready to Build Back Bowman: Stephen Colbert Helps Bowman Sanitize His History Of Spouting Hamas Propaganda. “Colbert would spend the rest of the segment projecting his belief that the war in Gaza is one giant tragedy onto Bowman, allowing him to portray himself as someone who simply wants to find a ceasefire and a two-state solution instead of what he really is, which is an anti-Semitic Hamas propagandist.”

SALENA ZITO: A Lincoln Highway Icon Dies.

Two weeks ago, Jack Dunkle was sitting with his best friend Bob Barnes at his auto parts store along U.S. 30. Barnes was telling a story to his friend of over 40 years. Dunkle looked pale, but he waved Barnes off when asked if he needed anything.

“A little bit later, as Jack started to leave, he turned and paused for a moment at the threshold of the shop door, looked over his shoulder, and said to me, ‘I do need something, but it is not anything anyone, including you, can give me, and that is time,’” recalled Barnes, 70, who chokes up over the memory.

It was the last time he saw Dunkle alive. The 76-year-old died last week. Those who didn’t read the obituary in the Bedford Gazette found out soon enough when they made the bend along the old Lincoln Highway and saw that the iconic Gulf service station — the last original decorative terracotta Gulf gas station in the country — was closed.

“NO GASOLINE” signs were hand-scrawled and taped on to the two ancient pumps where his wife Susan would come out with a broad smile and pump your gas, check your tires, and wipe your windshield down when you pulled into the station; taped up across the big bay window was another sign left by Barnes that read: “Jack, you were simply GREAT will miss you FOREVER, Bob Barnes.”

It’s Salena Zito so read the whole thing.

IRA STOLL GOES 20 MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE: Who Will Be the Washington Post’s Next Owner?

The newspaper is losing lots of money—reportedly on the order of $77 million a year—and rather than adding to Bezos’s reputation it is damaging it. The coverage of Israel is as approximately as hostile as Al Jazeera; the Washington Free Beacon found “at least six members of the Post’s foreign desk previously wrote for” that “news outlet bankrolled in part by the government of Qatar, which is now sheltering Hamas’s top leaders.” Republicans and some centrists dislike the paper’s anti-Trump tilt, and even Bezos, who is vaguely libertarian and likes America, has to wonder why readers would pay for a Washington Post dispensing predictably left-wing takes readily available free-of-charge from NPR.

Now the Post staff is worked up into a panic over a British former Wall Street Journal executive’s plan to bring in editors from the Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph to run the place. The supposed trigger is the British press’s use of “stolen” documents, but that seems like a pretext coming from the staff of a newspaper that published the Pentagon Papers. The real issue isn’t stolen documents (the Post staff didn’t mind when the New York Times published President Trump’s stolen tax return) but fear that the new Post management might curb the left-wing tilt. Whatever the motive, Bezos is under fire from his own staff, which is questioning his loyalty to the institution. One Post veteran editor and reporter, the biographer David Maraniss, posted on Facebook, “Jeff Bezos owns the Post but he is not of and for the Post.”

Which brings us to this “Wag the Dog”* moment: Would-Be Washington Post Editor Backs Out amid Internal Revolt.

British journalist Robert Winnett, who had been set to join the Washington Post as its executive editor after the November election, has chosen not to accept the position after the paper published an expose raising ethical questions about his journalistic work.

“It is with regret that I share with you that Robert Winnett has withdrawn from the position of Editor at The Washington Post. Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” publisher Will Lewis wrote in a memo to staff on Friday, according to several news reports.

“The leadership at The Telegraph Media Group are reaffirming his continued role as deputy editor,” Lewis added, saying the Post will “immediately” launch a new search for editor.

“We will soon announce both the recruiting firm and process we will utilize to ensure a timely but thorough search for this important leadership role,” he said.

As John Nolte wrote on Monday, the Post’s staffers’ now-successful revolt against Winnett “is good news. No one should want any reforms at the Washington Post. The Post has no credibility. The Post can no longer move the public opinion needle. That’s right where we want them. That annual $77 million loss is merely icing. Nothing is better for America than for that garbage fire to keep right on burning.”

Nonsense — as with Portland in 2020, at least until Bezos makes up his mind about offloading the Post, it’s the Summer of Love at the WaPo:

* Classical reference.

OPEN THREAD: Ring in the weekend.

ALIENS: The Oldest Known Burial Site in The World Wasn’t Created by Our Species.

Well, sort of: “Critically, they also belong to Homo naledi, a primitive species at the crossroads between apes and modern humans, which had brains about the size of oranges and stood about 1.5 meters (five feet) tall. . . . Engravings forming geometrical shapes, including a ‘rough hashtag figure’, were also found on the apparently purposely smoothed surfaces of a cave pillar nearby.​”

I wonder if they’re truly a different species or if, as with Neanderthals, Denisovans, etc., more-modern humans could interbreed with them. A quick web search suggests that there’s no evidence that they did, but that evidence could be buried in a cave somewhere.