The Proud Boys Love a Winner | How to Be Anti-Semitic and Get Away with It | What Would It Mean to 'Absorb' a Nuclear Attack?, and more

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Military Have a Railgun Weapon?  (Peter Suciu, National Interest)
The concept may seem like something straight out of science fiction: it is a weapon that could utilize a large circuit to launch a projectile far further and at exceeding greater speeds than one launched by a chemical reaction.
There have been real-world efforts to develop such a platform, with the earliest attempts dating back more than a century. Yet most have failed – suggesting it is easier for science fiction writers to dream up such fantastic weapons than it is for engineers to actually make them a reality.

There Is No Right to Bully and Harass  (David Frum, The Atlantic)
Liberals in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill like to compare speech and debate to a marketplace. Let all offer their ideas in peaceful competition; let all have equal opportunity to listen and judge. But there’s another tradition consolidating around us. In this tradition, speech is not like a market. It’s like a battle. The goal is not to enlighten, but to dominate. Adversaries must be overawed, intimidated, and silenced.
In he marketplace of ideas, ripping down posters you disagree with is wrong. Post your own! But to those who see the world of ideas as a battlefield, ripping down an offending poster is amply justified. Opponents are enemies, not competitors, and enemies are allowed no rights at all. So go ahead, rip down posters of abducted children—and physically attack those who document your actions. In Canada, there have been multiple instances of guns being fired at Jewish schools during non-classroom hours: a wishful fantasy of mass murder.
Everybody should be free to express his or her opinion about the Middle East as an opinion. Everybody should be equally free to express opinions about other people’s opinions, including by exercising the freedom to peacefully boycott or to lawfully refuse to hire. But what the great majority of tolerant and law-abiding citizens are abruptly discovering is that some progressives define their rights as including the power to threaten, coerce, and harm others. This is not behavior that a free and democratic society can accept if it hopes to survive as a free and democratic society. If the public condemnation of their violent behavior comes as a shock to people incubated in progressive spaces, the shock will be a salutary one.

How to Be Anti-Semitic and Get Away with It  (Yair Rosenberg, The Atlantic)
Out of 8 billion people on the planet, there are only 16 million Jews—but far, far more anti-Semites. In more than a decade covering anti-Semitism, I have become a reluctant expert in all the ways that anti-Jewish activists obfuscate their hate. Here two ways of how they do it:
1. They become too big to fail. Over the past six months, Elon Musk has publicly affirmed the deadliest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in recent American history, claimed that Jews and Jewish organizations cause anti-Semitism, and echoed extremist conspiracy theories about the Jewish financier George Soros. As a result, the billionaire has lost a few advertisers on his social-media platform, and even got rapped by the White House. But as The New York Times reported, even as the U.S. government criticized Musk, it continued to buy things from him. This too-big-to-fail characteristic is what separates the big-league bigots who get away with it from those who don’t.
2. They don’t say the quiet part out loud. Those who want to fulminate about the Jews but lack the singular clout of Elon Musk still have plenty of options. They just need to be slightly more subtle about their prejudice. Take Tucker Carlson, once the most-watched man on cable news, who used his show to popularize a sanitized version of the same “Great Replacement” theory that Musk recently endorsed, which posits that Jewish elites are plotting to supplant the white race through the mass immigration of brown people. This white-supremacist fantasy motivated the 2018 massacre of worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, among other recent attacks. How did Carlson get such an unhinged idea on television? He repeated the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory—“They’re trying to change the population of the United States, and they hate it when you say that because it’s true, but that’s exactly what they’re doing”—but left out the word Jews and let the audience fill in the blank. This time-honored technique provides even the most pointed prejudice with plausible deniability.

Police Can Spy on Your iOS and Android Push Notifications  (Andrew Couts and Lili Jay Newman, Wired)
If you have push notifications turned on for sensitive apps, you may want to reconsider your settings.
The United States government and foreign law enforcement can demand Apple and Google share metadata associated with push notifications from apps on iOS and Android, according to a US senator and court records reviewed by WIRED. These notifications can reveal which apps a person uses, along with other information that may be pertinent to law enforcement investigations.
US Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, highlighted the government surveillance technique in a letter sent to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) today. Wyden is specifically asking the DOJ to allow Apple and Google to discuss government requests for push notification records with their users, which Wyden says the US government has required them to keep secret thus far.

What Happened When the U.S. Failed to Prosecute an Insurrectionist Ex-President? (Jill Lepore, New Yorker)
The American Presidency is draped in a red-white-and-blue cloak of impunity. Trump is the first President to have been impeached twice and the first ex-President to have been criminally indicted. If he’s convicted and sentenced and—unlikeliest of all—goes to prison, he will be the first in those dishonors, too. He faces four criminal trials, for a total of ninety-one felony charges. Thirty-four of those charges concern the alleged Stormy Daniels coverup, forty address Trump’s handling of classified documents containing national-defense information, and the remainder, divided between a federal case in Washington, D.C., and a state case in Georgia, relate to his efforts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, including by inciting an armed insurrection to halt the certification of the Electoral College vote by a joint session of Congress. His very infamy is unprecedented.
The insurrection at the Capitol cost seven lives. The Civil War cost seven hundred thousand. And yet Jefferson Davis was never held responsible for any of those deaths. His failed conviction leaves no trail. Still, it had consequences. If Davis had been tried and convicted, the cloak of Presidential impunity would be flimsier. Leniency for Davis also bolstered the cause of white supremacy. First elected to the Senate, from Mississippi, in 1848, Davis believed in slavery, states’ rights, and secession, three ideas in one. Every state had a right to secede, Davis insisted in his farewell address to the Senate, in 1861, and Mississippi had every reason to because “the theory that all men are created free and equal” had been “made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions,” meaning slavery. Weeks later, Davis became the President of the Confederacy. His Vice-President, Alexander Stephens, said that the cornerstone of the new government “rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man.” Trump could win his Lost Cause, too.

What Would It Mean to ‘Absorb’ a Nuclear Attack?  (Ella Weber, Scientific Amnerican)
This podcast is Part 4 of a five-part series. Listen to Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. The podcast series is a part of “The New Nuclear Age,” a special report on a $1.5-trillion effort to remake the American nuclear arsenal.

Frank Von Hippel: I’m Frank von Hippel. I’ve worked at Princeton [University] since 1974, and I’ve been working on nuclear arms control and nonproliferation—and also, among other things, the consequences of nuclear war.
Ella Weber: Frank served as assistant director of national security at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. This was during the Clinton administration.
He was also one of the first scientists to be involved with research on the consequences of nuclear strikes on U.S. nuclear weapons—including the Minutemen silos—which he described in detail in Scientific American in 1976.
There’s a particular hearing from around that time that he references.
Von Hippel: Basically the secretary of defense had come in and testified to Congress. When one of the senators asked how many people would such an attack kill, he estimated 15,000 to 25,000. And he said, ‘Well, that would be terrible, but it would be not what you would expect from a major nuclear attack.’ 
That seemed low to, actually, the senator from New Jersey [Clifford Case]. And he asked for a peer review of the Defense Department calculations, and, and I was then asked to be an unpaid consultant to look into that. And, in fact, I went over to the Pentagon to talk to the people who have done the calculations.
Weber: Frank found something unexpectedly horrifying.
Von Hippel: The Defense Department had assumed that explosions of the warheads over the ICBM silos would be so high that they would not cause fallout. They pointed out they would also not damage the silos.
Weber: Basically, the Department of Defense hadn’t calculated properly. The DOD had made incorrect assumptions about the altitude of nuclear explosions aimed at destroying the silos. Initially, it had thought the nuclear explosions would need to be at an altitude. But–they actually needed to be at ground level.
Von Hippel: The DoD was forced to go back and do new calculations reflecting these points, and they came out about 1,000 times higher: 20 million—on the order of 20 million people killed.