Some April Fool’s Links, and One that Isn’t

Believing what you read on the Internet is a problem, even when it’s not April 1.  Here are some interesting links from today:

A.  Google Solves Chess Chess will never be the same again.  Until now, many mathematicians claimed it wasn’t possible to ‘solve’ chess due to the exponentially large number of possible games (10^120).  However, in a dramatic development today the search giant Google announced that it had developed an online application which could play the royal game ‘perfectly’.

Besides playing perfect chess, ‘GoogleChess’ as the application is known, will allow users to input any legal chess position either manually or by importing a standard FEN file.  The application engine then searches for the position on a vast Google database and retrieves the ‘answer’ – the best move in that position and the result of the game assuming perfect play by both sides.

B.

  Anoop Desai requests federal bailout After less-than-stellar reviews of Tuesday night’s show, American Idol contestant Anoop Desai formerly requested a federal bailout, in the hopes of avoiding the close call Matt Giraud (a.k.a. “Timberlake lookalike”) had to suffer through on live TV last week.

Desai filed a TARP application with the Treasury Department Tuesday night, shortly after the show.

“Why would President Obama stop at cars? My fans have rights, too,” Desai, 21, told News Corp.’s Fox and Friends Wednesday morning. “Is Simon Cowell somehow above the ruler of the world? You saw how happy people were about Slumdog Millionaire. This will be a good thing for America. And you know this is the story political reporters want to write: ‘Previewing a Jindal rise, young Indian American wins.’”

C.  Obama Orders Chevrolet and Dodge Out of Nascar – Unfortunately, Car and Driver Magazine took down their original link, probably under pressure from the Obama administration, so this is a copy of the original article.

In a move sure to spark outrage, the White House announced today that GM and Chrysler must cease participation in NASCAR at the end of the 2009 season if they hope to receive any additional financial aid from the government…

“Automakers used to operate on the principle of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday,’ but the Auto Task Force’s research just doesn’t validate that as true,” said the statement from President Obama.

 

 

On a more serious note, this looks like an April Fool’s link at first glance, but it isn’t.  Malcom Stewart, the deputy solicitor general, was arguing before the Supreme Court that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act allows the government to forbid distribution of films and books that advocate for or against a political candidate.

A Clear Danger to Free SpeechDeputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart Argues For Banning of Books

Just last week, the Obama administration argued before the Supreme Court that it has no principled constitutional problem with banning books.

The case before the court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, involves a documentary-style film, Hillary: The Movie, that ran afoul of campaign-finance laws designed to censor so-called stealth ads as well as electioneering paid for by corporations or unions.

To be fair, the film does amount to partisan advocacy. It’s a scorching indictment of the former Democratic presidential front-runner, produced by an unapologetically conservative outfit. It’s as one-sided as a MoveOn.org-produced documentary about George W. Bush would be. But, some might wonder, should partisan advocacy ever be illegal in a democracy?

Several justices asked the deputy solicitor general, Malcolm Stewart, if there would be any constitutional reason why the ban on documentaries and ads couldn’t be extended to books carrying similar messages. Stewart, speaking for a president who once taught constitutional law, said Congress can ban books “if the book contained the functional equivalent of express advocacy” for a candidate and was supported, even slightly, with corporate money. Such advocacy, Stewart conceded, could amount to negatively mentioning a politician just once in a 500-page book put out by a mainstream publisher.

Virtually every newspaper in America is owned by a corporation; does that mean they can’t endorse candidates anymore? To even ask such a question as if it were reasonable shows how close to the heart of our democracy the poison has reached.

 

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