California Sues Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question – Ari Berman Mar. 27, 2018 3:01 PM

California becomes the first state to challenge the question, which could massively suppress immigrant responses.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla at a news conference Tuesday in Sacramento.Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The state of California has filed suit against the Trump administration for its controversial decision to add a question about US citizenship to the 2020 census form, becoming the first state to challenge the administration’s action in court.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the question would cause immigrants not to respond to the 2020 census form. “Given the way the Trump administration has attacked immigrants, you could understand why immigrant families would be afraid to fill out census questionnaire,” he said at a Tuesday press conference in Sacramento. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla called the question “a concerted effort to suppress a fair and accurate census count.”

The lawsuit, filed late Monday night in federal court in California, claims that the citizenship question violates the US Constitution’s requirement that the government undertake an “actual Enumeration” of the country’s total population, not just of US citizens, along with a provision of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act—which governs regulations for government agencies—barring “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.

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Sam Harris, Charles Murray, and the allure of race science – Ezra Klein Mar 27, 2018, 1:00pm EDT

This is not “forbidden knowledge.” It is America’s most ancient justification for bigotry and racial inequality.

Javier Zarracina/Vox

On Monday morning, I woke up to a tweet from Sam Harris, the bestselling author and popular podcast host, referencing a debate we never quite had over race and IQ.

Harris is touting a New York Times op-ed by David Reich arguing that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races.’” Reich is careful in his claims about what is known as of yet. He says that “if scientists can be confident of anything, it is that whatever we currently believe about the genetic nature of differences among populations is most likely wrong” — a level of humility often absent in this discussion. He goes on to slam researchers who, discussing race and intelligence, claim “they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes.” I do not find this column as troubling as Harris seems to think I will.

The background to Harris’s shot at me is that last year, Harris had Charles Murray on his podcast. Murray is a popular conservative intellectual best known for co-writing The Bell Curve, which posited, in a controversial section, a genetic basis for the observed difference between black and white IQs.

Harris’s invitation came in the aftermath of Murray being shouted down, and his academic chaperone assaulted, as he tried to give an invited address on an unrelated topic at Middlebury College. The aftermath of the incident had made Murray a martyr for free speech, and Harris brought him on the show in part as a statement of disgust with the illiberalism that had greeted Murray on campus.

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DCCC Injects Itself Into a Third Texas Democratic Primary, This Time Going Up Against EMILY’s List   David Dayen March 27 2018, 1:25 p.m.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has intervened in a third U.S. House race in Texas, endorsing former Obama administration official and NFL linebacker Colin Allred for a Dallas-area seat held by incumbent Republican Pete Sessions.

In 2016, the party failed to field a candidate in the race.

Allred garnered 38.5 percent of the vote in the first round of the Democratic primary for the 32nd Congressional District, short of the 50 percent he needed to advance directly to the general election. He still has to clear a May 22 runoff against Lillian Salerno, another Obama administration veteran, who earned 18.3 percent in the seven-person field.

A DCCC aide pointed to Allred’s strong performance in the primary and a series of endorsements, including the state and local AFL-CIO, former Dallas Mayor and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (Allred’s former boss). But choosing sides in the primary before Democratic voters have the final say could irk some party faithful. It’s already angered one: Lillian Salerno.

“I figured they’d let us duke it out, but they couldn’t help themselves,” said Salerno, who was a small business entrepreneur before working for the United Nations and the Agriculture Department. “I don’t see the benefit of this that helps our party. I’m a Democrat; why does this help us?”

It’s unclear what designating Allred as a “Red to Blue” candidate accomplishes in March, before the primary runoff, as opposed to after the runoff in May. The DCCC did not promise any resources or support within the next two months for Allred. The committee has also been plagued by the perception of putting its thumb on the scale in primaries across the country, especially in Texas.

In the Houston-area 7th District, the DCCC dropped opposition research on Democrat Laura Moser before the primary, which didn’t stop her from advancing to the runoff (and might have even helped). In the 23rd District, located in the southern part of the state, the DCCC recently endorsed Gina Ortiz Jones, which has her opponent giddy because of the committee’s poor track record and bad reputation. Perhaps wanting to avoid negative headlines, the DCCC has not yet endorsed Moser’s opponent, corporate lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, in the Texas 7th District race. (In that race, EMILY’s List and the DCCC wound up on the same side.)

All three districts are potential pickups for Democrats in their bid to take back the U.S. House. Hillary Clinton won the 32nd District in 2016, but Democrats didn’t bother to field a candidate against Sessions.

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Has a New Cold War Really Begun? – By Odd Arne Westad March 27, 2018

ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 2013.

For about four years now, since Russia’s occupation of Crimea and China’s launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, there has been much speculation about whether another Cold War between East and West is coming. In the last month alone, headlines have proclaimed that “The New Cold War Is Here,” heralded “Putin’s New Cold War,” and warned that “Trump Is Preparing for a New Cold War.” But are we really returning to the past? Contemporary politics is full of false analogies, and the return of the Cold War seems to be one of them.

At its peak, the Cold War was a global system of countries centered on the United States and the Soviet Union. It did not determine everything that was going on in the world of international affairs, but it influenced most things. At its core was an ideological contest between capitalism and socialism that had been going on throughout the twentieth century, with each side fervently dedicated to its system of economics and governance. It was a bipolar system of total victory or total defeat, in which neither of the main protagonists could envisage a lasting compromise with the other. The Cold War was intense, categorical, and highly dangerous: strategic nuclear weapons systems were intended to destroy the superpower opponent, even at a cost of devastating half the world.

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Oracle’s nearly eight-year legal battle with Google just won’t end. Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled that Google violated Oracle’s copyrights when it built a custom version of the Java platform for its Android operating system. The court sent the case back to a district court to decide how much Google should pay Oracle. But Google can appeal to the Supreme Court. And it should, because the decision will affect not just Google and Oracle, but the entire software industry.

The decision won’t kill Android, the world’s most popular operating system for smartphones. Google switched to a fully open source version of Java starting with the Nougat release of Android in 2016. But it could force many software companies to rewrite parts of their products, even if they’re not using Java or any other Oracle software. That will not only be expensive, but could make applications and services from different companies less compatible. In other words, get ready for more tech headaches and higher software bills if Tuesday’s ruling isn’t overturned.

The case revolves around what are called “application programming interfaces,” or APIs. To oversimplify a bit, APIs are the way different pieces of software interact with each other. Software companies have long borrowed APIs from existing products to either ensure compatibility between products or to make it easier for programmers to learn new technologies. Google used the Java APIs in part to make it easier for Java programmers to build Android apps without learning an entirely new language. Now companies large and small who’ve taken similar steps could a face a swarm of copyright lawsuits.

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Viagra Just Turned 20. Here’s How Much Money the ED Drug Makes – By SY MUKHERJEE March 27, 2018

The ubiquitous little blue pill, Pfizer's Viagra, just turned 20.

Pfizer hit chemical gold 20 years ago when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Viagra. But just how much has the “little blue pill,” the blockbuster erectile dysfunction and male libido treatment, raked in for the drug giant—and how might that business dynamic change as generic Viagra continues to penetrate the market?

The story of Viagra (also known by its chemical name sildenafil) is one of unlikely serendipity. Famously developed as a blood pressure treatment, Viagra soon proved to have an unexpected—and highly lucrative—sexual side effect, helping men maintain erections. That’s led to its runaway success since FDA approval on March 27, 1998: Viagra brought in about $1.6 billion in 2016 global sales. It had some of the fastest prescription uptakes and sales growth of any medication, ever, after its launch, pulling in a cool $2 billion in annual sales by 2008. That means it’s well into tens of billions in revenues since the 1998 debut.

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If that sounds like a little less than what you would have thought (especially given that some 30 million men in the U.S. alone and somewhere around half of those aged 40-to-70 years suffer from a degree of ED), consider that Pfizer had to deploy one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history to notch those sales. (This doesn’t even take into account the competitors it’s spawned, like Eli Lilly’s Cialis and Bayer’s Levitra, while making “erectile dysfunction” a newly common part of the medical lexicon).

All prescription drugs eventually stare down the specter of the dreaded “patent cliff,” when a product loses intellectual property protection. This has been happening in stages for Pfizer (last fall, a version of Viagra was made available over-the-counter in the U.K, for instance). But the company has also taken aggressive steps to guard against revenue loss and protect its little blue baby.

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