Education

Obama Thinks He Can Rate Colleges. Can You Do Better? (Interactive)

See how colleges stack up based on what you think is most important in a school

Last year, the Obama Administration announced a plan to assess schools on how well they serve their students, based on metrics like graduation rate, tuition, and the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants, the federally funded scholarships for low-income families. For a system that has yet to be put in place, the White House’s college ratings have created a great deal of panic.

To see how those ratings might play out, TIME gathered data for 2,500 college and universities and ranked them according to the proposed metrics. But we’ve left it to you to adjust how important each of those metrics should be. Adjust the sliders, and watch the the schools reshuffle.

As Haley Sweetland Edwards notes in the most recent issue of TIME, many college presidents are convinced that the ratings proposed by the Obama administration would fail to capture the value of their schools. The White House insists that far too many sub-par schools are cashing in on federal student loans and leaving their students in the lurch.

The White House is proposing to take a bunch a date of data about schools and determine a rank for each. This would produce an algorithm that functions in many ways like Google’s ranking of Web pages. In the case of search engines, the exact nature of this algorithm is a secret. The White House’s algorithm will presumably not be secret, meaning it will be quite easy for schools to game the system.

That sounds like a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be. When algorithms work well, they reward good behavior. In the same way that the Google algorithm rewards sites that offer clear descriptions of the content and coherent navigation, a good college ranking algorithm could inspire schools to offer better grants to those who can’t afford the tuition and provide help for those at risk of dropping out. A poorly designed algorithm, meanwhile, could incentivize them to shut out students who have lower statistical odds of graduating.

The interactive at the top of this article presents a simplified rating system based on three qualities the White House has mentioned: Graduation rate, accessibility and affordability. For accessibility, the interactive uses the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants. For affordability, we’ve used the net cost paid by families who makes less than $110,000 a year and receive some form of aid.

By rewarding both accessibility and graduation rate, this system corners one of the trickiest problems facing schools looking to climb the rankings: Students from low-income backgrounds are statistically less likely to graduate. The most expedient way for a school to boost its graduate rate would be not to admit students in this cohort. Doing so, however, would theoretically hurt the school in the accessibility category more than it boosted the school in the graduation category, resulting in a drop in the ratings. At least, this is how a good White House algorithm would work. Fine-tuning the formula to work as advertised would require a sophisticated statistical analysis of the data. In the meantime, you can drag the sliders around to see which schools would rise to the top given existing numbers.

Methodology

All data comes from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Each school is evaluated according to its six-year graduation rate, the percentage of full-time, first-time undergraduates receiving Pell grants and the net cost for students receiving any form of aid whose families make less than $110,000 a year. That figure is calculated by TIME as the weighted average net cost for students in each of the Department of Education’s reported income brackets. Where that data is not available, overall net cost (tuition and fees minus grants and scholarships) is used.

These three data points are standardized, so that each school’s score is the number of standard deviations above or below the mean. The app then adjusts these values according to the position of the sliders, sums the square roots of those values, and takes the square of the sum. (A detailed discussion of that method is available here.)

The classifications of schools come from the Carnegie classification system. Schools without a Carnegie class are not included.

Courts

On Your Mark, Get Set, Lie: Supreme Court Weighs Truth in Politics

The Supreme Court seems ready to knock down laws in 16 states that try to prevent lying in political races

With the 2014 midterm elections fast approaching, the Supreme Court faced an urgent task on Tuesday: making it safe for America’s politicians to lie.

Ohio and 15 other states have laws trying to prevent lies during political campaigns, and by all appearances the Supreme Court can’t wait to knock them down for violating the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech. But to their evident frustration, the Justices haven’t yet had the chance. Of the 500 or so anti-lie proceedings initiated between 2001 and 2010 under Ohio’s law, only three charges ultimately have been brought, all of them settled out of court.

So the argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday was mostly about whether the Ohio election commission had squelched political speech in the upcoming midterm elections by finding four years ago that there was probable cause to believe the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List was preparing to lie in political ads during the 2010 elections.

At this point, nobody much wants to contest whether SBA List actually was lying when it said in a proposed billboard ad that then Democratic Congressman Steven Driehaus had supported taxpayer-funded abortions by voting for Obamacare. More important is the fact that the billboard company refused to run the ad after Driehaus threatened to sue under the Ohio law.

SBA List’s lawyer, the redoubtable Michael Carvin, argued on Tuesday that the group has a right to bring a First Amendment case challenging the Ohio law now even though Driehaus dropped his threat to sue after he lost the 2010 election. Carvin said the Ohio commission’s determination of probable cause was a “credible threat” that SBA List would face punishment if they used the same campaign language against other pro-Obamacare candidates in the coming election season.

The Justices seemed inclined to agree. Antonin Scalia intoned ominously about the chilling presence of a “Ministry of Truth.” Anthony Kennedy was suspicious of the Ohio commission’s power to quiz political groups about their members and operations. Democratic appointees Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg all peppered the resilient young lawyer for the state of Ohio, Eric Murphy, with questions about how the Ohio law potentially suppressed speech.

Politics has always been essentially inseparable from lies — everyone from Plato and Machiavelli to Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt have defended the value of lying in politics — so it’s not surprising the Ohio law faces an uncertain future. If a democracy is weak enough that state officials have to take the place of voters and the press in determining whether politicians are lying, the experiment in self-government is probably in trouble.

At least that appeared to be the undertone of the arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. And given the Justices’ repeated sympathies for SBA List’s arguments about the urgency presented by the coming midterm elections, a ruling in favor of the group seems likely before the court adjourns in June.

Military

As the Wars End, Changes Come in Training Troops to Notify Families of Military Deaths

Army photo

Battlefield deaths decline, but military still has to bring grim news

The wars are nearly over. So it is time for the U.S. military to reboot for one of its most somber tasks: Telling next-of-kin their loved one has died in the service of his or her country.

Over the past 13 years, casualty-notification officers have had to take that long walk up to a family’s front door, and make that dreaded knock that changes everything, 6,803 times.

But with battlefield deaths down to a trickle, the Marines are seeking a new video to help train its Casualty Assistance Calls Officers (each service has its own title for the job) for a future where more will die in peacetime accidents than combat. “The current scenario is 100% war-related,” the corps says in a notice posted Tuesday. “A more current version is required to meet today’s situations.”

The Marines say they want their new training video to include cases involving:

  • Marine’s death due to a training incident
  • Dual active-duty spouse with complicated marital issues
  • Divorced Parents
  • Dealing with children
  • Updated grief/trauma awareness
  • Self-care for CACOs

That last one is critical. This is a tough mission, where raw human emotions run the gamut.

“I’ve picked family members off the floor,” Army chaplain Captain Gregory Broderick said in an Army News Service story last month. “I’ve sat and held them as they’ve rocked and cried… I did one recently where they kicked us out of the house. They were so mad, not at us but at their son,” he confided. “I’ve been spit on as well.”

“You’ve caught them at their worst day,” added Army Major Mark East, the top chaplain at the service’s Human Resources Command.

With the war in Iraq over for more than two years, and with the shrinking number of U.S. combat troops still in Afghanistan slated to leave by year’s end (a total of 33,000 remain), the number of those killed in battle, thankfully, is way down (17 so far this year). March marked the first month without war casualties in 11 years (unfortunately, April won’t be the second).

When casualties spiked in Iraq in 2006, some families criticized the way the military informed them of their relatives’ deaths. That led Congress to demand additional training for those making the notifications, and detailed Pentagon regulations on how it is to be done.

Army Major Brent Fogleman did casualty notifications around that time, after a stint in Afghanistan. The notification job was “by far, yes” his toughest assignment. “There were some guys that couldn’t do it… if they couldn’t do it we didn’t want them to do it,” he said. “That’s not something you cannot do well.”

Families used to learn of their loved one’s fate in terse “regret to inform you” telegrams. That changed in Vietnam, when the Army began dispatching casualty-notification officers and chaplains to deliver the sad news personally.

The service now gives its casualty-notification teams four hours to get to that front door after the Army’s personnel shop has received word of a death. These days, they’re in a race to that door with Facebook and Twitter. They usually, but not always, win.

Environment

Spending Earth Day at Ground Zero for Climate Change In America

We’ve all seen the iconic Blue Marble photo of the earth from space, the image that launched a thousand nature essays, but Bill Nelson and Piers Sellers are among the few people who have enjoyed that perspective on the planet in the flesh. Nelson is now a U.S. Senator from Florida, Sellers is a top NASA science official, and this morning, at an Earth Day hearing in my Miami Beach neighborhood, I got to hear the two former astronauts reminisce about the view from 10 million feet.

Senator Nelson recalled the color contrasts in the Amazon that illuminated the growth of deforestation. “The earth looked so beautiful, so alive—and yet so fragile,” he said. “It made me want to be a better steward of what the good Lord gave us—and yet we continue to mess it up.” Dr. Sellers remembered catching a glimpse of the Florida peninsula between his boots during a spacewalk. When you go around the world in ninety minutes, he said, you realize it’s a very small world.

“My take-home impression was that we inhabit a very beautiful but delicate planet,” said Sellers, a meteorologist who is NASA’s deputy director for science and exploration. “And the dynamic engine of planet Earth is the climate system that allows all life here to prosper and grow, including us humans.”

Now that climate is changing, and as Nelson said at the start of the South Florida hearing: “This is Ground Zero.” Scientists have documented that the seas along the Florida coastline have risen five to eight inches over the last fifty years, and Biscayne Bay now floods the streets of my neighborhood just about every month at high tide. “It’s real. It’s happening here,” Nelson said. “Yet some of my colleagues in the Senate continue to deny it.”

It is real, and it’s already a problem in my low-lying part of the world. Saltwater intrusion is increasing in the freshwater Everglades, which is causing problems for farmers in southern Miami-Dade County, and will make the government’s $15 billion Everglades restoration project even more expensive. The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that over the next fifty years, Miami-Dade’s beaches will need about 23 million cubic yards of new sand to deal with erosion. Mayor Philip Levine says Miami Beach alone plans to spend $400 million to upgrade drainage infrastructure to prepare for a warmer world. The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change’s “likely scenario” for 2010 includes seas rising as much as three feet; our county has $38 billion worth of property at three feet elevation or less. And while it’s too early to tie any particular storm to climate change, all the models predict more intense hurricanes coming through the Sunshine State. “The risk posed by coastal flooding is indisputably growing,” testified Megan Linkin, a natural hazards specialist at the reinsurance giant Swiss Re.

That’s incorrect. The risks posed by climate change, while real, are not at all indisputable. Lots of people, including most Republican politicians in Washington, still dispute them. As Senator Nelson said after the hearing, even Republican politicians in coastal areas—he cited Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—rarely acknowledge the danger their constituents face from rising seas. “That would not be a popular topic in a Republican primary,” Nelson said.

But as Dr. Sellers pointed out, the IPCC believes the main cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. And as Senator Nelson pointed out, it will take government action—he mentioned the possibility of a carbon tax—to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. “Otherwise, the planet will continue to heat up,” Nelson said.

Unfortunately, there is no chance of Congress passing a carbon tax anytime in the foreseeable future. President Obama couldn’t even get a cap-and-trade program through Congress when Democrats controlled both houses. Global warming has no juice as a political issue; people don’t think it really affects their lives.

That’s why Nelson held a hearing here at global warming’s Ground Zero, to try to show that global warming is already affecting lives. It was worth a shot, I guess. South Florida isn’t as threatened as those vanishing Pacific islands, but it’s basically America’s canary in the coal mine. Maybe my neighborhood’s outrage over the monthly lake in our Whole Foods parking lot will help spark a broader movement for change.

I doubt it, though. I get the political instinct to boil issues down to How It Can Affect You, but climate change is so urgent and invisible that if Congress has to wait for it to affect most Americans in tangible ways before taking action, Congress will be too late. Burning rivers and disappearing eagles helped build support for laws like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act; rising temperatures—all of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998—and extreme events like Superstorm Sandy don’t seem to be having much of a political impact. President Obama has helped launch a clean energy revolution, and he will soon propose new regulations on carbon emissions, but the public has shown little interest in the issue.

Ultimately, the local argument against climate change—it might flood your neighborhood—seems a lot less compelling than the global argument, the Blue Marble argument. This is a nice earth. It’s our home. It’s the only planet with ice cream and the Everglades and the NBA playoffs. We should try not to mess it up.

“Spaceflight allows one to stand back, or float, and literally take in the big picture,” Dr. Sellers said in his testimony. It’s a perspective we sometimes overlook back here on Earth. Otherwise, we might decide to stop broiling it.

 

Law

California Bill Banning ‘Affluenza’ Defense Is Nixed

Ethan Couch
In this image taken from a video by KDFW-FOX 4, Ethan Couch is seen during his court hearing in December 2013 AP

California legislators shot down a bill that would have created the country's first ban on using the "affluenza" (rich kids don't know better) defense. It was introduced after a wealthy Texas teen got probation for killing four people and injuring others in a drunk-driving accident

California lawmakers on Tuesday killed legislation that would ban the use of the “affluenza” defense, stopping what would have been the first such ban in the nation.

State assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the bill after a wealthy Texas teenager was given only probation last year for killing four people and injuring others in a drunk-driving accident. His lawyers successfully argued that he had been so coddled by his affluent parents that he couldn’t be expected to appreciate the rules of law or the consequences of his actions. The sentence sparked outrage, seen by many as an obscene example of privilege begetting privilege and inequity in the justice system.

“In our justice system, people who have means already have advantages,” Gatto said in introducing the bill before a legislative committee. “They have access to the better lawyers, they have access to better relationships and they know how the system works. And the idea of a defendant saying that a life of privilege and an upbringing of means somehow makes that defendant absolve him or herself of personal responsibility for a heinous act really is insulting to the intelligence of just about everybody who interacts with the justice system, and those of us who care about making sure that the justice system is blind.”

Gatto’s bill originally defined the notion of affluenza as the argument that a “defendant may not have understood the consequences of his or her actions because he or she was raised in an affluent or overly permissive household.” One issue raised by other lawmakers on the committee was the use of the phrase overly permissive, which some worried could apply to poor children with absentee parents as much as a rich kid who got to do whatever he wanted.

Opponents of the bill, though sympathetic to its intent, argued that it’s generally not a good idea to put limitations on legal defenses, that the bill presumed a jury couldn’t determine on its own the worth of a defense, and that such restrictions may prevent certain facts from coming forward during a trial.

Gatto also refused to accept an amendment supported by the chair of the committee, assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who wanted to build exceptions and affirmations of constitutional protections into the bill. “We are trying to prohibit the affluenza defense,” Gatto said, adding that he had “real heartburn” about writing “into the statute all the times where the defense could be used.”

Before voting against the bill, Ammiano, a Democrat, said he would have preferred Gatto accept the amendments offered by the committee. The two Republicans on the committee voted to support the bill, and the rest of the members, all Democrats, abstained. Those abstentions essentially counting as nay votes, the measure failed. The ban would have prohibited the use of affluenza as a defense or a mitigating factor in sentencing. Gatto, a Los Angeles–area Democrat, has said that while the high-profile case happened in Texas, he was attempting to be “proactive” in California.

In June 2013, Texas teenager Ethan Couch stole beer from a Walmart, drank enough for his blood-alcohol content to be three times the legal limit, got in his pickup truck, lost control and sped it into a group of people who were helping a woman with a stalled car on the side of the road near Fort Worth. Four people died. Others, including many crammed into his vehicle, were injured. Thanks in part to a psychologist who argued that Couch’s wealth was so extreme he couldn’t separate right from wrong, the then 16-year-old was given 10 years’ probation and ordered to attend rehab for the intoxication manslaughter and assault charges. In February, Judge Jean Boyd reaffirmed that sentence in a private hearing, denying prosecutors’ second request for 20 years in prison.

At the end of the committee hearing on Tuesday, the possibility of “reconsideration” was raised, meaning Gatto might bring his bill before the committee again at another time. But that would likely require a compromise that lawmakers did not appear ready to make on Tuesday.

Courts

Supreme Court Cloudy on Aereo Streaming TV Case

Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., stands next to a server array of antennas in New York, Dec. 20, 2012.
Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., stands next to a server array of antennas in New York, Dec. 20, 2012. Bebeto Matthews—AP

The justices considered arguments around a tech startup that is capturing free over-the-air broadcast signals and selling them to consumers on the cheap, without paying networks the hefty retransmission fees they get from cable companies

There was a lot of talk Tuesday at the Supreme Court about the future of television—how we will watch it, how we will pay for it, and whether, crucially, the old broadcast model will be blown up for good. While such rhetoric is usually overwrought, in this particular case—American Broadcasting Companies vs. Aereo—it’s actually justified. If the court decides in favor of Aereo, a small, Brooklyn-based TV-streaming tech startup, it could have the effect of destroying traditional broadcasters’ business model, and fundamentally reshaping the way the TV industry operates.

Aereo captures free, over-the-air TV signals with thousands of small antennas that are rented to individual users, and it transmits that content to customers online for a small monthly fee—without paying broadcasters the so-called retransmission fees cable companies pay them to provide their channels to cable customers. While Aereo founder Chet Kanojia has publicly tussled with the big broadcasters over whether such a disruption is good for consumers—Kanojia says it will free viewers from pricey cable bills but the big broadcasters disagree—the Supreme Court on Tuesday homed in on another question entirely. Namely, this one: If it’s legal for someone to put bunny ear antennae on his roof and watch TV for free, and it’s legal for him to record that free TV onto a DVR (or an old school Sony Betamax VCR, for that matter) so he can watch it again later with friends, then does it matter, from a legal perspective, whether he actually owns that antennae, or that he is in possession of a physical DVR?

The antennae farm across town and a “DVR” based in the cloud, Aereo argues, are legally no different from the old antenna and VCR.

ABC, backed by CBS, NBC, FOX, and the U.S. Justice Department, says: not so fast. They argue that by capturing copyrighted television programming and then transmitting it back to thousands, or tens of thousands, of users, Aereo is acting exactly like a cable company and should pay retransmission fees.

The justices didn’t offer much in the way of clues as to how they might rule during hour-long oral arguments Tuesday. A ruling is expected in the summer.

Aereo’s lawyer David C. Frederick insisted repeatedly Tuesday that the company does not “perform” anything; it is nothing more than an “equipment provider.” ABC’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, scoffed at the idea. Of course Aereo is “performing,” he said; to suggest otherwise “is just crazy.” Clement argued that Aereo—by essentially plucking copyrighted material out of the sky, selling access to that copyrighted material back to subscribers, and refusing to pay copyright royalties—is attempting to “get something for nothing. … It’s like magic.”

The justices’ questioning returned repeatedly to the implications that any decision on this case will have for cloud computing as a whole. If an individual downloads a video onto the cloud using a popular application, like Dropbox or iCloud, and then accesses it later and watches it on his computer, then does that also amount to, as Justice Elena Kagan asked, “public performance?” Both Aereo and ABC appeared to agree that an individual user of the cloud should not be required to pay royalties when he watches, say, an episode of The Sopranos that he has already purchased.

Clement urged the justices not to try not to “solve the problem of the cloud once and for all” in this one case. He instead attempted to steer the discussion toward what he characterized as a common sense interpretation of copyright law.

Frederick, by contrast, relished the cloud debate, warning the justices that if they decide in favor of the big broadcasters, they run the risk of fundamentally undermining the business model of the cloud. “If you turn every playback into a ‘public performance,’” he said, that will have “huge implications” for cloud-based businesses.

“The court’s decision today will have significant consequences for cloud computing,” Frederick said in a statement following oral arguments. “We’re confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.”

Military

Gen. Stanley McChrystal Pens Blog On How He Survived Being Fired

“The uniform I’d first donned as a 17-year old plebe at West Point, the uniform of my father, grandfather, and brothers, was no longer mine to wear,” he wrote.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal has admitted having a crisis of identity after getting fired from the U.S. Army by Barack Obama in 2010, saying he bounced back by thinking creatively about the skills he learned in 38-plus years as a soldier.

“There is only one Army in which you serve,” McChrystal wrote in a blog posted on LinkedIn Tuesday. “When that identity is gone, it is gone forever. For me, it was gone in an instant, and on terms that I could never have imagined.”

McChrystal was the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan when, in June 2010, Rolling Stone ran an article depicting McChrystal and aides poking fun at top civilian leadership in the United States, including Vice President Joe Biden. In the article, by the late Michael Hastings, McChrystal says Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” when in the presence of military brass.

“I boarded a flight immediately, returning from Afghanistan to Washington, D.C. to address the issue with our Nation’s leadership. Less than 24 hours later I walked out of the Oval Office and in an instant, a profession that had been my life’s passion and focus came to an end,” McChrystal wrote Tuesday.

At the time of the incident, McChrystal apologized publicly for the incident, saying “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.” But in his LinkedIn post Tuesday, the general describes his portrayal in Hastings’ piece as being as “unfamiliar as it was unfair,” suggesting he now disputes the article.

McChrystal says he recovered from the shock of the incident by re-thinking the skills he had amassed in his decades as a soldier. “Like leaders in many walks of life, my business has been to serve with, and for, others,” he said. “By focusing on this simple truth, and allowing it to guide my decisions through a difficult time, this curveball ultimately opened as many doors as it closed.” Since leaving the Army McChrystal has started a company, hit the speaking circuit and taught at Yale.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: States Can Ban Affirmative Action Policies

Jennifer Gratz, right, CEO of XIV Foundation and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette speak during a press conference outside the Supreme Court after going before the Supreme Court in "Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action" on Oct. 15, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Jennifer Gratz, right, CEO of XIV Foundation and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette speak during a press conference outside the Supreme Court after going before the Supreme Court in "Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action" on Oct. 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 on Tuesday to support Michigan's constitutional amendment that bans colleges from raced-based admissions decisions. Seven other states, including California and Florida, have similar bans

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states can ban affirmative action policies without violating the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling, in a 6-2 decision, upholds a voter-approved amendment to Michigan’s state constitution that prohibits race-based college admissions decisions, effectively banning affirmative action in the state. The Supreme Court reversed a lower court opinion that the ban was discriminatory. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined for a dissenting decision. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate.

Seven other states—Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington—have similar bans, and the ruling paves the way for others to vote.

The ruling follows a long-term trend of eroding support in the courts for affirmative action policies across the country, echoing a statement from former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor following a high court ruling in 2003 that upheld the constitutionality of colleges considering race as a factor in college admissions. O’Connor said that within a quarter century “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

Tuesday’s decision does not address the constitutionality or merits of affirmative action college admissions policies themselves, SCOTUSblog reports. Rather, the ruling addresses the right of voters in a state to ban the practice in state law.

Military

Our Carrier Video Is Way Cooler Than Yours

China touts its new toy

+ READ ARTICLE

Ever since 1986′s Top Gun, music and the carefully-choreographed mayhem that happens on a carrier’s flight deck have gone together like peanut butter and chocolate.

But if you thought such confections are limited to the U.S. Navy, you’d be wrong. Not only does China have a new carrier, with another on the way, it now has a video showing off some of what its existing flattop, the Liaoning, and its J-15 fighters can do.

The video celebrates the 65th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. It was produced by AVIC—the Aviation Industry Corporation of China—a state-owned aerospace and defense company. There are no English subtitles, but the pounding music and great photography get the message across.

In contrast, the U.S. Navy’s “Royal Maces”—an F-18 squadron aboard the USS George Washington—have just released a video, below, featuring their own carrier-based antics. No words are necessary.

[ht—http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/]

GOP Candidate Mocks ‘War On Women’ Attacks By Noting She’s a Woman

Republican defends against anti-woman charge by nothing that she is, in fact, a woman

+ READ ARTICLE

A Republican Senate candidate in Michigan is using her gender to parry attacks that she’s anti-woman.

Terri Lynn Land found herself under fire earlier this month after a video surfaced of a 2010 speech in which she seemed to minimize the importance of equal pay legislation. Dug up by Democratic opposition research group American Bridge, the video served as fodder for Democrats across the country—including President Barack Obama—who are embracing equal pay legislation as an election year wedge issue.

“Apparently, a lot of these Republicans during the debate said they just think that this idea there’s a gender pay gap is a fantasy, it’s not real, there are all these other reasons why this happens,” Obama said to laughter at a fundraiser in Houston to support Democratic congressional candidates. “And in fact, I think there was a candidate for the Senate, a Republican in Michigan, who voiced the opinion that women make other choices. And I think that’s certainly true; every individual makes other choices. Very rarely do you meet people who make the choice to be paid less for doing the same job.”

In her first television ad, Land mocks the attacks in a 30-second direct-to-camera spot airing on broadcast and cable in the state.

“Think about that for a moment,” Land says, before concluding, “as a woman, I might know a little bit more about women than [Democratic opponent Rep.] Gary Peters.”

Campaign strategist John Yob explained the thinking behind the ad in a statement.

“The purpose of this ad is to set the stage for the rest of the campaign and show the absurdity of the Democrats’ strategy to leverage the war on women against Terri. Congressman Peters fired his female campaign manager and brought in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee elections head who was determined to run a dirty and deceptive campaign–just look at the campaigns the DSCC is running nationwide,”he said. “We expect Congressman Peters and his special interest supporters to continue the manufactured war on women but that is a debate we welcome. Terri Lynn Land has an impeccable record advocating for working women — developing management programs that resulted in more women managers statewide and implementing flexible time for working moms. She also has the vision to get both women and men back to work. Congressman Peters’ special interest allies are launching baseless attacks on birth control and mammograms that they can’t even find a source for in their ads because they are down in the polls, down in fundraising, and out of ideas. These attacks show just how worried the Democrats are about Terri Lynn Land beating Congressman Peters.”

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