Archive | 2010

George Will on “Blight” Condemnations in New York

George Will has written a Washington Post column on the abuse of “blight” condemnations in New York:

On Aug. 27, 1776, British forces routed George Washington’s novice army in the Battle of Brooklyn, which was fought in fields and woods where today the battle of Prospect Heights is being fought. Americans’ liberty is again under assault, but this time by overbearing American governments.

The fight involves an especially egregious example of today’s eminent domain racket. The issue is a form of government theft that the Supreme Court encouraged with its worst decision of the past decade — one that probably will be radically revised in this one.

The Atlantic Yards site, where 10 subway lines and one railway line converge, is the center of the bustling Prospect Heights neighborhood of mostly small businesses and middle-class residences. Its energy and gentrification are reasons why 22 acres of this area — the World Trade Center site is only 16 acres — are coveted by Bruce Ratner, a politically connected developer collaborating with the avaricious city and state governments.

To seize the acres for Ratner’s use, government must claim that the area — which is desirable because it is vibrant — is “blighted….”

The Constitution says that government may not take private property other than for a “public use….” In 1954, however, in a case concerning a crime- and infectious-disease-ridden section of Washington, D.C., the court expanded the notion of “public use” to include removing “blight.”

Since then, that term, untethered from serious social dangers, has become elastic in the service of avarice….

I discussed the state high court decision upholding the Atlantic Yards condemnations in this post. For my earlier analyses of the case, see here and here. Will’s column also discusses the recent court decision striking down Columbia University’s [...]

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Straussians:

Mike Rappaport has a nifty little post (taking off an earlier post by Tom Smith) on Leo Strauss and the Straussians.  I’ve never fully understood the intramural battle among the Straussians, but this seems like a useful roadmap.  I’ll confess that I wasn’t even aware that there was a Midwestern Straussian school.

I know little about Strauss and the Straussians (although, as the expression goes, some of my best friends are Straussians).  But I have long been interested in Strauss from an outsider’s perspective.  One of my favorite professors in college (Roger Masters) was a Straussian.  I learned an awful lot from him (especially on how to read critically).  I rarely agreed with him, perhaps because I am an enthusiast for modernity (see Rappaport’s summary above).

Now maybe someone can explain to me the disagreements among the Austrian economists, the Objectivists, and the People’s Front of Judea (versus the Popular People’s Front) then I will have all wisdom.  On second thought… [...]

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No Full-Face Veils in Egyptian University Exams

From Reuters:

A Cairo court ruled on Sunday in favour of the Egyptian government’s decision to ban female students wearing the niqab, or full face veil, in university examinations….

The government said it brought in the ban in part because students, male and female, were sitting exams disguised as other candidates by wearing a face veil….

In 2007, a court ruled that the American University in Cairo, seen as a bastion of Western liberal education in Egypt, was wrong to bar a female scholar who wears the niqab from using its facilities. The court cited personal and religious freedom as grounds for its ruling….

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer. [...]