Everything You Need To Know About Last Week’s News

In reverse order of importance:

Barack Obama continued to criticize Mitt Romney for not releasing more of his tax returns. On the one hand, Obama has a fairly impressive graphic. On the other hand, he didn’t seem to be this concerned about John McCain’s tax returns in 2008. Of course, Romney just happens to be way richer than McCain.

Obama also said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” igniting a firestorm of debate about whether the president was denying individual achievement or merely highlighting the benefits of public goods. I’m willing to believe the pronoun that was referring to the “roads and bridges” of the previous sentence, but that still has absolutely no implications for current policy debates, as Julian Sanchez eruditely explains here.

In science news, mankind has finally created the first “free swimming artificial jellyfish” from silicone and rat heart muscle cells. (What could possibly go wrong?) We’ve also figured out how to digitally simulate the entire lifespan of a single-cell organism.

In sadder news, a man brought weapons to the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, killing a dozen people and wounding over fifty others. The details of the tragedy are still unfolding, but first the predictable political corners filled the Internet with attacks/defenses of gun ownership (settle down, 2nd Amendment hawks, public support for guns is the highest in decades.)

Meanwhile, the federal government admitted that it has violated 4th Amendment privacy rights “at least once,” thanks to one determined Senator Ron Wyden. As Techdirt wryly notes, “the rest of Congress seems perfectly content to stay ignorant and pretend that there’s no possible way that the feds might be abusing the powers that let them spy on nearly anyone without much (if any) oversight.” Not sure if there are going to be any consequences yet from this rare admission of guilt.

There weren’t too many headlines this week regarding the ongoing sagas of the European debt crisis and the civil war in Syria, but things look like they’re flaring up again this week.

Also coming up this week is tomorrow’s vote on Audit the Fed (Here are some talking points from Dr. Paul.) and Friday’s opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.