Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

61 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for October 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source

10-31-16 The haunted house that might actually be haunted
The haunted house that might actually be haunted
Tour the Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati... if you dare. Legend has it that the Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati was the site of a mass murder 60 years ago. "The school opened up in 1894 and was shut down in the 1950s after it was discovered that a janitor named Charlie McFree killed a bunch of kids and put the bodies in the basement," Dent Schoolhouse owner Bud Stross told The Huffington Post. Stross and his high school friend Josh Wells bought the dilapidated structure about a decade ago, got it up to code, and turned it into a wildly popular haunted house that now employs about 100 people during the two-month Halloween season. "It takes a whole year to get it ready," Wells told The Associated Press. As for the school's haunted past? Stross can't confirm that the stories are true, but it certainly makes for good PR if you're in the business of scaring people. During the fall fright season, the Dent Schoolhouse attracts tens of thousands of visitors who line up around the block for the chance to come face-to-horrifying-face with Charlie McFree and his chilling squad of undead.

10-30-16 America's 'invisible' Muslims
America's 'invisible' Muslims
Two decades ago, Muslim refugees fleeing Bosnia arrived in St Louis and became a crucial part of the city. Now anti-immigrant fervour might lead the Bosnians of St Louis to become more politically active. Imam Eldin Susa recounts how a family of recent immigrants from the Middle East was threatened at gunpoint while looking for housing in Affton, a leafy suburb of St Louis, Missouri. "From their faces, it was obvious from where they came," he says - and the firearm-wielding resident wasn't happy about the prospect of such new neighbours. Dzemal Bijedic, a Muslim chaplain with the St Louis police, says a Muslim woman waiting for a bus recently was set upon by five men who shouted anti-Islamic slurs and tried to tear off her hijab. "Some of the people fear when they see a Middle Eastern family," Bijedic says. "They tell them to go back to their country; that they're terrorists." Ajlina Karamehic-Muratovic, a professor at St Louis University, says she's been involved in conversations where she was shocked to hear casual anti-Islamic views by people who didn't know they were talking about her own faith. For Susa, Bijedic and Karamehic-Muratovic, Islamophobia is real. (Webmaster's comment: Freedom and Liberty, what a joke. A country where you must hide your spiritual beliefs if not a Christian.)

10-30-16 America has already built an invisible wall to keep out migrants
America has already built an invisible wall to keep out migrants
A large portion of the world's population lives in conditions that are hard to fathom for people in developed countries. Many of those living in extreme poverty would gladly move to the United States, the European Union, or Australia if given a chance. In light of this, how should rich countries design and enforce their immigration policies? The figures for world poverty are staggering. According to the latest estimates from the World Bank, some 2.1 billion people live on less than $3.10 a day, adjusting for purchasing power. This means that, in their respective countries, they have only what $3.10 would buy them in the U.S. It is hard to imagine living, even in the least expensive locales in the U.S., on $3.10 a day. What could you eat? Beans and rice bought wholesale maybe. You might get to buy some clothing once a year. You certainly wouldn't be able to afford rent — you'd have to squat somewhere. Compare that with the U.S. poverty line of $24,000 a year for a family of four. That ends up being more than $16 per day per person. Poverty lines in the EU set a relatively high bar too; in Germany, the figure comes out to about €22,500 a year ($25,000) for a family of four. Life is much, much better in the U.S. or Germany than in many parts of the world, even for these countries' poorest inhabitants. And it's not just a matter of income — developed countries offer a much better life in terms of free schooling, infrastructure, and the like, compared with Ethiopia or Bangladesh. (Webmaster's comment: At the base of the Statue of Liberty is engraved what it stands for "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Many Americans are now rejecting this in favor of racism, intolerance and bigotry.)

10-30-16 A new way to tackle racism
A new way to tackle racism
A Pastor in California is taking a different approach to tackling racism in his community. His group members admit they are racist and talk through their issues.

10-28-16 Supreme Court to hear transgender school bathroom case
Supreme Court to hear transgender school bathroom case
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a transgender rights case which could determine whether schools let students use bathrooms based on gender identity. The case concerns a Virginia public school district trying to prevent a female-born 17-year-old transgender student from using the boys' bathroom. The justices are expected to rule on the case before the end of June. The high court is one justice short after the death of Antonin Scalia, which could lead to a 4-4 decision. Schools districts nationwide remain conflicted on whether to require transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with the sex listed on their birth certificates.

10-28-16 Duke in debate
Duke in debate
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has qualified for Louisiana’s televised Senate debate, set to be held on Nov. 2 at the historically black Dillard University in New Orleans. Duke, a white supremacist, announced he was running for the Senate late this summer—saying that he had been inspired by the campaign of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. He has been expelled by the Republican National Committee and Louisiana GOP, but drew the necessary 5 percent of a recent statewide poll in order to qualify for the debate. GOP State Treasurer John Kennedy is leading the race with 24 percent. Duke said the debate news was “amazing,” tweeting: “I can’t wait to tell truth nobody else dares!” Although Duke was disavowed by Trump in March, the former KKK grand wizard has recorded automated calls on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee. “The climate of this country has moved in my direction,” Duke said recently.

10-28-16 Anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter
Anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter
In the period of a year ending in July, more than 800 journalists were barraged with 19,253 anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. The most frequent words in the Twitter biographies of the attackers were “Trump,” “nationalist,” “American,” “conservative,” and “white.”

10-28-16 Posthumously pardoning gay men
Posthumously pardoning gay men
Britain’s government is about to correct an egregious historical wrong, said Saphora Smith in the London Evening Standard. Under the so-called Turing law now working its way through Parliament, some 35,000 gay and bisexual British men who were convicted of sexual offenses that have since been decriminalized would receive posthumous pardons. The bill is named after Alan Turing, the mathematician and computer pioneer who cracked Nazi codes in World War II but was later convicted of gross indecency for having consensual gay sex. He underwent chemical castration in 1952 to avoid prison and committed suicide two years later, at age 41. Turing was pardoned in 2013, and after a Hollywood biopic of the code breaker came out in 2014, pressure mounted for more gay men to receive similar pardons. The Turing law would presumably apply to playwright Oscar Wilde, who was imprisoned for gross indecency in 1895, and to many others prosecuted before homosexual acts were decriminalized in 1967. “It is hugely important,” said Justice Minister Sam Gyimah, “that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today.”

10-28-16 Can we elect a Christian?
Can we elect a Christian?
Will Indonesia’s Muslim majority ever accept true diversity? asked Lailatul Fitriyah. Extremists among us are working hard to make sure that never happens. They are calling for the execution of Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese ethnicity, for supposed blasphemy. Ahok was not elected governor: He was Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s deputy governor and inherited the post when Jokowi was elected president in 2014. Now Ahok is running for governor in his own right, and some hard-line Muslims are invoking a twisted interpretation of the Quranic verse that says “Do not take the Jews and Christians as allies” to argue that true Muslims must not vote for him. Ahok said that interpretation was deceptive and told a crowd, “You are being fooled.” Off with his head, the hard-liners replied. This is preposterous. Most Indonesians don’t support such a literal reading of that Quranic verse. But apparently “some of us Indonesian Muslims still are unable to place ourselves in an equal position with other, non-Muslim, non-Javanese Indonesians.” Ahok’s Chinese and Christian identity is seen as a negative. Why? Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, some 200 million people, but it is “not an Islamic state.” We mustn’t impose a religious test on our citizens—or our leaders.

10-27-16 This evangelical leader gave the most important speech about the religious right in the age of Trump
This evangelical leader gave the most important speech about the religious right in the age of Trump
Donald Trump is a master of humiliation. Mostly he humiliates himself, but he has also humiliated countless people and entities over the course of his life and presidential campaign. If you had to draw up a list, near the top would have to be the religious right. To say that some of the religious right's top leaders have beclowned themselves by embracing Donald Trump is an understatement. It's hard to know even where to begin. Donald Trump practices almost every kind of immorality forbidden by the Bible — and brags about it. He claims to be a Christian, but seems to know nothing about Christianity or show any interest in it. He has said several times that he has never asked God for forgiveness for anything, even though asking God for forgiveness is just about the most basic qualifier of a Christian. Oh, and Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States. And yet this is the man many on the religious right embrace — even though it has previously denounced political figures as beyond the pale for lesser slights. To say that this is intellectual and moral bankruptcy is an understatement.

10-26-16 LGBT Community Still Views Clinton More Favorably Than Trump
LGBT Community Still Views Clinton More Favorably Than Trump
Democratic candidates have historically garnered widespread support among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and this year is no exception. So far in October, 55% of LGBT adults view Democrat Hillary Clinton favorably, similar to the majority viewing her favorably since the primaries wrapped in June. By contrast, barely one in eight LGBT adults (12%) view Republican Donald Trump favorably, also consistent with ranges since June. LGBT Americans view Clinton more positively than non-LGBT Americans do, with 55% and 41%, respectively, rating her favorably. At the same time, LGBT Americans, at 12%, view Trump much less favorably than non-LGBT Americans do, at 32%. The favorability of both candidates has not varied much since June.

  • Clinton's favorability among LGBT adults is 55%; Trump's is 12%
  • LGBT adults favor Clinton more, Trump less than non-LGBT adults
  • Race and ethnicity are not a factor in LGBT views of candidates

10-25-16 Obamacare rates will rise by 25% in 2017, US government says
Obamacare rates will rise by 25% in 2017, US government says
The cost of healthcare insurance in the US under the Affordable Care Act is expected to rise by an average of 25% in 2017, according to the government. About one in five consumers will also only be able to pick plans from a single insurer, it said. But it said federal subsidies will also rise, and about 70% of people will find plans for less than $75 (£61) a month. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 mandated that every American had to purchase private insurance, and prohibited insurers from turning away the sick. It also provided subsidies. (Webmaster's comment: We need a little truth about this! $75 is not an onerous cost for saving your life, especially if it is subsidized for those who can not pay.)

10-25-16 Mississippi: Call for investigation over 'noose put on black student'
Mississippi: Call for investigation over 'noose put on black student'
A rights group in the US state of Mississippi has demanded a federal hate crime investigation after the family of a black high school student said white students put a noose around his neck. The alleged incident took place during a break in football practice, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As many as four students are believed to have been involved in the case. The parents say they have not been told if the school is taking action. (Webmaster's comment: Racism is alive and well in America and growing. Christian based hate groups are thriving and also growing.)

10-25-16 Vatican bans cremation ashes scattering in new guidelines
Vatican bans cremation ashes scattering in new guidelines
The ashes of cremated Catholics cannot be kept at home, scattered or divided among family members, the Vatican has announced in new guidelines. The two-page instruction by the Vatican's department on doctrine said ashes of the dead must be kept in "sacred places" such as cemeteries. It also stressed that the Roman Catholic Church still preferred burials over cremations. The Vatican allowed cremation in 1963 but has always frowned on the practice. It also stressed at the time that cremation must not suggest a denial of faith about resurrection. (Webmaster's comment: Controlling every aspect of your life and even your body after death.)

10-25-16 Which country is the most generous in the world?
Which country is the most generous in the world?
A war-torn state and a country ruled by an oppressive military junta for decades are home to the world's most generous people, research suggests. People in Iraq are the kindest to strangers, while Myanmar's residents give the most away, according to the CAF World Giving Index 2016. In the last month, eight in 10 Iraqis have helped someone they don't know, with Libyans helping almost as many. During the same period, 91% of those in Myanmar have given money to charity. In comparison, 63% of Americans - the second most generous overall - have donated money, with 73% helping a stranger.

10-24-16 In praise of Christian anarchy
In praise of Christian anarchy
The electoral and eschatological have converged. As campaign rhetoric reaches its nadir and partisans begin to seriously contemplate the grim possibility of their opponents' triumph, a sort of political apocalypticism has set in. At stake is not simply who sits in the Oval Office, nor who controls Congress, nor what sort of majority we might anticipate on the Supreme Court. If the wrong side wins, we're told, the result will be the destruction of our way of life, our moral fabric, our personal destiny, our country itself. Elect the wrong person and the world as we know it will end. The eschaton looms, and we must vote it back into the future. But how? Evangelicals and other conservative Christians have long been reliable friends of the Republican Party, but 2016 has seen evangelicals tossed into confusion. There is no convincing pro-life candidate, and though the Clintons have long been anathema on the right, Donald Trump offers an incessantly escalating performance of exactly the type of low character these Christians have for years argued matters at least as much as policy where picking a president is concerned. Already fraught, Trump's evangelical support has plummeted and key endorsements evaporated in the wake of the unending sexual assault allegations against him.

10-24-16 Haji Ali: Mumbai shrine tells court it will allow entry to women
Haji Ali: Mumbai shrine tells court it will allow entry to women
The trust that runs Mumbai's Haji Ali mosque told the Supreme Court it will rescind a ban on women entering the shrine as ordered by the high court. The high court in August said the ban "violated the constitution" and was discriminatory towards women. The ban was imposed in 2012 - the trust said it was a "sin" to allow women to touch the tombs of male saints. Women's activists campaigning to enter the shrine have described Monday's development as a "huge victory".

10-22-16 What do our dreams mean?
What do our dreams mean?
The earliest recorded dream is from the Sumerian king Dumuzi of Uruk, who ruled just before Gilgamesh, sometime around 2500 BC. "An eagle seizes a lamb from the sheepfold," a translation reads. "A falcon catches a sparrow on the reed fence … The cup lies on its side; Dumuzi lives no more. The sheepfold is given to the winds." The king was freaked out about his dream, and occasioned the first recorded dream interpretation, care of his sister, who was evidently a professional at these things. Sister's advice: Some bad sh-t is about to go down, so you'd do well to hide. If you've ever been befuddled by a dream, take heart: You're following a 4,000-year tradition of confusion. Over that time, humanity — in the form of religion, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience — has actually come to somewhat understand what exactly the mind is doing in its slumbering states. To that end, here are five of the leading theories for what dreams are and what they do to us:

  • Dreams are pragmatic prophecies.
  • Dreams tell you what to do.
  • Dreams are communications from the unconscious mind.
  • Dreams are data.
  • Dreams are your memories in action.

10-21-16 Can scientists convince religious groups that genome editing is okay?
Can scientists convince religious groups that genome editing is okay?
the human genome sacred? Does editing it violate the idea that we're made in God's image or, perhaps worse, allow us to "play God"? It's hard to imagine weightier questions. And so to address them, Ting Wu is starting small. Last month, the geneticist was here in a conference room outside Baltimore, its pale green walls lined with mirrors, asking pastors from area black churches to consider helping her. Wu's research focuses on the nitty-gritty of the genome; her lab at Harvard Medical School studies the positioning and behavior of chromosomes. But she's also interested in improving the public's understanding of genetics. She has gone to classrooms and briefed congressional aides. She has advised the team behind Grey's Anatomy. At a time of unprecedented access to genetic tests and plummeting costs for genetic sequencing, Wu believes people should know what scientific advances mean for them. The challenge is empowering communities that are skeptical of science because they have been underserved or even mistreated in the past. Wu is making the case that one of the most visceral scientific debates of our time need not be relegated to academic journals and special summits.

10-21-16 Is it time to allow more than two parents on birth certificates?
Is it time to allow more than two parents on birth certificates?
Changing attitudes, surrogacy and reproductive technology mean it's right that England and Wales reconsider the birth-registration law, says Julie McCandless. Family life has seen massive changes since civil birth registration was introduced in the UK. Yet a birth certificate from 1837 looks remarkably similar to one today. To the welcome surprise of many, the Law Commission of England and Wales – which advises the government on legal reform – is considering including the law on birth certificates in its next round of proposed changes. Why might reform be needed to a system that has stood the test of time for so long? It is instinctive to view birth registration as a straightforward bit of bureaucracy that simply records value-neutral facts. However, the legal rules about the information recorded indicate a particular life story as being “normal”. Developments in family life, and how people understand and experience gender, are putting these rules under increasing pressure.

10-21-16 San Francisco homeless: New plan to clear tents off streets
San Francisco homeless: New plan to clear tents off streets
Tent camps have become one of the most prominent and controversial symbols of San Francisco's problem with homelessness. The camps have sprung up along streets and under overpasses, swelling in some cases to 30 or 40 tents. They have divided opinion in a city which has seen an influx of well-paid tech workers in recent years but struggled to house its poorer citizens. Now a new ballot measure, backed financially by tech investors and to be voted on by residents next month, is proposing to introduce laws against the tent camps. Proposition Q would give the city the right to tear down camps and remove residents' belongings. Police would have to give 24 hours notice and find a shelter for anyone they turf out. Supporters say the measure prioritises housing over dangerous camp environments. Opponents say it is yet another move to criminalise the homeless. (Webmaster's comment: Our society has created them so let's make sure we keep kicking them when they're down and out!)

10-21-16 As God intended
As God intended
A South Carolina waitress was left a note by a fundamentalist couple chiding her for working instead of staying home and taking care of her husband. The waitress, who is single and has no children, said she felt “a bit heartbroken” by the note, which stated that a “woman’s place is in the home” and urged her to “help make America great again” by cooking and cleaning as “her husband and God intended.”

10-20-16 Police mass face recognition in the US will net innocent people
Police mass face recognition in the US will net innocent people
A law enforcement database of 117 million faces - half of all US citizens – hasn’t been properly vetted and is likely biased against black people, says Hal Hodson. Live in the US? There’s a 50:50 chance that you’re in a police face recognition database, according to a report from the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law in Washington DC. The findings suggest that about a quarter of all police departments in the US have access to face recognition technology. That police are using face recognition technology is not a problem in itself. In a world with a camera in every pocket, they would be daft not to. But face recognition can be used far more broadly than fingerprint recognition, which means it carries a higher risk of tagging innocent people. It’s much easier to build huge databases of identified photographs. The majority of the 117 million faces in the police datasets come from state driving licenses and ID cards. And when trying to solve a crime, gathering faces is as easy as pointing a camera at the street. People attending protests, visiting their church, or just walking by can all have their faces “dusted” without ever knowing it.

10-21-16 Trump’s threat to punish free speech
Trump’s threat to punish free speech
Donald Trump’s threat to sue The New York Times is yet another sign of his “dangerously authoritarian impulses,” said Eric Boehm. When the Times last week published bombshell accounts from two women who said he had “touched them inappropriately and without their consent,” Trump had his attorneys write a letter warning of a possible libel lawsuit if the paper didn’t retract the story. The Times’ lawyer essentially dared Trump to sue, saying he’s already ruined his own reputation; legally, he has no case whatsoever. But consider what Trump’s hollow threat reveals: He thinks it should be “off-limits” for the media to investigate behavior “he’s admitted to doing—bragged about doing, in fact.” This is the same Trump who has said he’d like to “open the libel laws” to make it easier for public figures like him to sue the media for opinion articles and news stories they deem “unfair.’’ Imagine what a President Trump might do with “federal prosecutors to do his bidding, rather than using his personal attorneys.” We are perilously close to sending to the White House a man who cannot—or will not—respect “basic rights held by the people of the country he wishes to lead.”

10-21-16 Right-wing terrorist plot
Right-wing terrorist plot
Federal law enforcement officials this week said they had thwarted a terrorist bomb plot, allegedly planned by three members of a right-wing militia known as the Crusaders, against a Kansas apartment building that’s home to many Muslim immigrants from Somalia. Authorities said that Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Eugene Stein, all in their late 40s, planned to load four vehicles with explosives and detonate them at the four corners of the apartment complex in Garden City, which also contains a mosque, on the day after the November election. They hoped to cause a “bloodbath” that would help spark a religious war, according to the criminal complaint. The FBI had been monitoring the men for eight months but made the arrests only when Allen’s girlfriend led authorities to a large stash of weapons, after she had allegedly been assaulted by Allen. The trio has been charged with one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

10-20-16 Foreign-born Americans make America's workforce great
Foreign-born Americans make America's workforce great
Donald Trump's disdain for immigrants doesn't make much sense when you break down the data. Employment stats made available recently show that there is a record number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. right now, a stat that would quite likely get those Trump supporters who like to pore over hard data all fired up. The term "foreign-born" does not distinguish between documented and undocumented immigrants or refugees, merely distinguishing between Americans born here and those born in other countries and counting the ones who are working. Not that it really seems to matter to some: Surveys from Pew Research Center have shown that nearly 70 percent of Trump supporters believe that "immigrants are a burden on the country," (22 percent more likely than non-supporters to believe such a blanket statement) without any further qualifications. Trump himself is, of course, looking to reduce the rates of legal immigration.

10-19-16 Is it right to kill millions of animals if it protects others?
Is it right to kill millions of animals if it protects others?
Culls are routinely carried out around the world in the name of upholding biodiversity and animal welfare. Are they ethical and do they work, asks Alice Klein. HIPPOS in South Africa, cats in Australia, deer in the US, badgers in the UK. Across the world, governments are announcing plans to cut back the numbers of some of our most-loved animals. The latest is a proposed cull of 250,000 Siberian reindeer – which could spread anthrax – just before Christmas. Such mass slaughter invariably sparks fierce debate between politicians, conservationists, farmers and animal-rights activists. Is it reasonable to kill animals if they threaten other species or are under threat themselves?

10-19-16 More than 130 animals saved from 'farmyard of horrors' in Ohio
More than 130 animals saved from 'farmyard of horrors' in Ohio
More than 130 animals, including sheep, chickens and goats have been rescued from a "farmyard of horrors" in Brown County, Ohio. An anonymous neighbour called officials after becoming concerned about the smell coming from the back garden of a Fayetteville home. When wardens arrived they found 139 dogs, goats, chickens, sheep and rabbits crammed into a small area.

10-18-16 Exorcism in Italy a job 'too scary' for young priests
Exorcism in Italy a job 'too scary' for young priests
"That is a possessed woman there," says Fr Vincenzo Taraborelli as he points up to an 18th Century fresco in his Roman church. "They're holding her with her mouth open. She has little devils coming out of her body. She's being freed." It is a scene the 79-year-old priest says he knows well. For the past 27 years, Fr Taraborelli has performed exorcisms - the Catholic rite of expelling evil spirits. He stumbled into the job when a fellow priest needed help. "I didn't know what it was, I hadn't studied it," the father says. "He told me what to do. I was totally ignorant." He has since become one of Rome's busiest exorcists, and the Catholic Church is struggling to find younger successors. Working three days a week from a windowless room at the back of his church near the Vatican, he often sees up to 30 people every day.

10-18-16 Teachers in America can still hit kids
Teachers in America can still hit kids
Corporal punishment in schools isn't some relic of a bygone age. Teachers and principals in public schools are still legally allowed to hit children in 19 states, as can private school staff in all but two states. In just one recent school year, more than 163,000 students received corporal punishment. But not all children were at equal risk, as black children, boys, and children with disabilities were all disproportionately targeted for corporal punishment. As recently as 1971, corporal punishment in public schools was legal in every state except New Jersey, and the practice remains widespread today throughout the Southeast and in a handful of western states. "It is one of those things that I think most Americans think is gone, that we don't do it anymore," corporal punishment expert Elizabeth Gershoff told Vocativ. Gershoff is a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin and the co-author of the first comprehensive report on the prevalence of the practice in public schools. "One of the reasons I did this report was to bring attention to it, because I think Americans need to know and parents need to know what's happening," she said. "A lot of parents don't know until their kid gets paddled, and then they find out the hard way."

10-18-16 Why no one knows about the largest prison strike in U.S. history
Why no one knows about the largest prison strike in U.S. history
Something remarkable has gone down in prisons across the country over the last few weeks. On Sept. 9, the two-year-old Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) announced a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest across American prisons. Organizers say there have been strikes at 29 prisons in 12 states — Virginia, Ohio, California, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Michigan, and more. "There are probably 20,000 prisoners on strike right now, at least, which is the biggest prison strike in history, but the information is really sketchy and spotty," the IWOC's Ben Turk told The Intercept last month. This new round of protests was meant to commemorate the 1971 takeover of Attica prison, which was brutally put down by the New York state government and its troopers. Just as the uprising of Attica's prisoners was in protest of abuse, racism, and abysmal prison conditions, the new wave of prison strikes has its own grievances: Mass incarceration, three-strikes laws, abusive and dismal conditions — but above all, prison labor.

10-18-16 Pennsylvania mayor resigns over racist Facebook posts
Pennsylvania mayor resigns over racist Facebook posts
A town mayor in the US state of Pennsylvania has quit following uproar over his racist posts on Facebook. The council in West York unanimously accepted Charles Wasko's resignation offer on Monday night, prompting applause from a crowd in the chambers. The Republican was censured by the council this month for his posts, some depicting apes and lynching. Mr Wasko, who is white, said he was the target of a "witch hunt", but acknowledged making the posts. In June he uploaded a photo of orangutans in a wheelbarrow, captioned: "Aww... moving day at the Whitehouse has finally arrived." "Not soon enough!" Mr Wasko commented on the image, which had the phrase "Kenya or bust" superimposed on the hand cart.

10-17-16 Pat Robertson, Christianity's crazy uncle
Pat Robertson, Christianity's crazy uncle
Robertson has always utilized extreme rhetoric to fire up his fans. In 1991, he called left-leaning Christian denominations such as Episcopalians "the spirit of the anti-Christ." In a 1992 fundraising letter, he labeled feminism a "socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." He also linked homosexuality to Nazism, claiming many of Hitler's henchmen were gay and saying, "The two things seem to go together." And in 1998, he warned that Disney's "Gay Days" might convince God to send "terrorist bombs" or "possibly a meteor" to punish the city of Orlando, Florida. Robertson's comments seemed to plumb new depths after the turn of the century. On his television program in 2001, he agreed with Rev. Jerry Falwell that abortionists, gays, and the ACLU were partly to blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks because they made God "mad." In 2005, he publicly urged America to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

10-17-16 Canada not immune to right-wing extremism
Canada not immune to right-wing extremism
In the middle of the night in early October, Ku Klux Klan flyers stuffed into Ziploc bags landed on the doorsteps of a few dozen homes in two British Columbia towns. Similar flyers were dropped in a neighbouring community over the summer. In recent weeks, anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh posters also cropped up on two university campuses in Alberta. It is unclear who was behind the incidents. Police are investigating. These events contrast with Canada's image as an open, multicultural society, and one that recently opened its doors to over 30,000 Syrian refugees. But for researchers like James Ellis, who is affiliated with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), they come as no surprise.

10-15-16 Kansas mosque: Three men accused of plot to bomb Somalis
Kansas mosque: Three men accused of plot to bomb Somalis
Three men have been charged with plotting to bomb Somali immigrants at an apartment building and mosque in the US state of Kansas. Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, had gathered firearms and explosives for the attack, according to the US Justice Department. The members of a militia group called the Crusaders also kept watch on the target in Garden City, officials said. They allegedly planned to strike on 9 November, a day after the US elections. The suspects had prepared a manifesto and conspired to detonate a bomb at apartments where Somalis were among some 120 residents, said prosecutors (in other words they were willing to murder non-Somalis in order to murder Somalis). They allegedly discussed parking four explosives-packed vehicles at the corners of the complex to create a large blast in the meatpacking town. Mr Stein offered to provide ammonium nitrate for the devices and contribute up to $300 for other materials, according to prosecutors. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Acting US Attorney Tom Beall said the eight-month investigation had taken FBI agents "deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence". (Webmaster's comment: Murdering Crusading Christian Terrorists, that's exactly what they are! Enough of this evil bullshit! America needs to imprison all members of All Hate Groups!)

10-15-16 Exposing the Sandy Hook hoaxers
Exposing the Sandy Hook hoaxers
On December 14, 2012, Lenny Pozner dropped off his three children, Sophia, Arielle, and Noah, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Noah had recently turned 6, and on the drive over they listened to his favorite song, "Gangnam Style," for what turned out to be the last time. Half an hour later, while Sophia and Arielle hid nearby, Adam Lanza walked into Noah's first-grade class with an AR-15 rifle. Noah was the youngest of the 20 children and seven adults killed in one of the deadliest shootings in American history. When the medical examiner found Noah lying face up in a Batman sweatshirt, his jaw had been blown off. It didn't take long for Pozner to find out that many people didn't believe his son had died or even that he had lived at all. Days after the rampage, a man walked around Newtown filming a video in which he declared that the massacre had been staged by "New World Order global elitists" intent on taking away our guns. A week later, James Tracy, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, wrote a blog expressing doubts about the massacre. By January, a 30-minute YouTube video titled "The Sandy Hook Shooting — Fully Exposed," which asked questions like "Wouldn't frantic kids be a difficult target to hit?" had been viewed more than 10 million times. As the families grieved, conspiracy theorists began to press their case in ways that Newtown couldn't avoid. State officials received anonymous phone calls at their homes, late at night, demanding answers: Why were there no trauma helicopters? What happened to the initial reports of a second shooter? A Virginia man stole playground signs memorializing two of the victims, then called their parents to say that the burglary shouldn't affect them, since their children had never existed. At one point, Pozner was checking into a hotel out of town when the clerk looked up from his driver's license and said, "Oh, Sandy Hook — the government did that." (Webmaster's comment: The people creating and perpetuating these hoaxes are just plain evil! Lies like these should be treated as CRIMINAL!)

10-14-16 Kratom ban rethink is a hint of sanity in failed US war on drugs
Kratom ban rethink is a hint of sanity in failed US war on drugs
Public opposition has seen a proposed ban on the medicinal leaf kratom dropped for now. Criminalising it would have been madness, says Marc Swogger. When the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced plans to criminalise the sale and possession of the psychoactive plant kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), people across the country became interested in a leaf used medicinally for centuries in South-East Asia. What the DEA did not seem to know is that hundreds of thousands of Americans were already using it for pain relief and as a substitute for opiates and other pharmaceuticals they want to stop using. Kratom is related to the coffee plant and provides a caffeine-like energy boost at low doses. It is not an opiate, but has opiate-like effects at higher doses. Last year, my colleagues and I published a qualitative study of people’s experiences with this fascinating plant. Findings were largely positive; users reported a sense of well-being and relaxation, enhanced empathy and sociability, pain relief, and success in weaning themselves off opiates and other pharmaceuticals. However, a minority reported negative effects, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and alternating chills and sweats. Approximately 10 percent of our sample experienced withdrawal symptoms, although these were generally mild relative to published descriptions of individuals coming off opiates.

10-14-16 Pray for the Gas and Oil Industry
ray for the Gas and Oil Industry
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared Oct. 13 “Oilfield Prayer Day,” calling on Christians to “thank God for the blessings created by the oil and gas industry,” which is suffering due to falling prices. After complaints that she’d excluded non-Christians, Fallin asked all faiths to ask God to protect the industry. “I think prayer is always a good thing for anyone,” she said.

10-14-16 Sumerian's are Space Aliens
Sumerian's are Space Aliens
Iraq’s Transport Minister has claimed his country’s new airport will be built on the site of a Sumerian spaceport built by aliens 7,000 years ago. At a press conference, Kazem Finjan told stunned journalists that ancient Sumerians were extraterrestrials who interbred with earthlings and used the site in southern Iraq for trips to and from the stars. “When the Sumerians settled here, they knew full well that the atmosphere here was suitable for flying to outer space,” he said. Finjan also stated that the Sumerians had discovered Pluto and a mythical planet called Nibiru.

10-14-16 Doctors’ political views affect their advice
Doctors’ political views affect their advice
Doctors are supposed to base their medical advice on test results, physical exams, and other empirical evidence. But new research suggests that when it comes to certain hot-button health issues, such as abortion and firearms safety, they may also be strongly influenced by their political beliefs. Researchers at Yale University selected more than 200 physicians—half of them Democrats, half Republicans—and asked them individually to examine fictional accounts of patient encounters. For the scenarios linked to politically neutral issues, such as alcohol abuse and obesity, there was little divergence of opinion among the doctors on both the seriousness of the problem and how it should be treated. But on more sensitive topics, their reactions differed substantially. Republican doctors were particularly concerned about the scenarios involving cannabis use and abortion: They were more likely to tell patients about the dangers of weed use and to advise women against having an abortion, warning that they might regret it and suffer depression. Democrats, on the other hand, were more likely to encourage patients not to store guns at home, especially if they had children. “Doctors need to think through these kinds of issues, because if they are dealing with politically sensitive issues, this [bias] is unavoidable,” study author Eitan Hersh tells The Guardian (U.K.). “As a patient, it’s useful to ask, ‘Is my doctor telling me this because it’s what the medical evidence says, or is it because of their worldview?’”

10-14-16 Does a tweet designed to trigger seizures count as assault?
Does a tweet designed to trigger seizures count as assault?
A video embedded in a tweet that seemed intended to trigger an epileptic seizure in someone known to have the condition crosses a line, says Elizabeth Joh. Social media raises tricky questions that judges are beginning to try to answer. It has been found possible to violate a restraining order by becoming an unwanted Instagram follower, or liking or tagging a Facebook post. In another instance, a US plaintiff was permitted to serve notice of a lawsuit against a foreign defendant through a tweet. But what about crimes of violence? Could someone commit criminal assault with a tweet? The question arises in the recent discussion by journalist Kurt Eichenwald of the Twitter threats he has received from Trump supporters. After Newsweek published his story investigating the complicated relationships the Trump Organization holds with foreign governments and business interests, Eichenwald received numerous responses on Twitter, many of them not only critical but threatening. One stood out, leading Eichenwald to write a new article. The tweet (since deleted) referred to Eichenwald’s epilepsy and included an embedded video. When Eichenwald played the video, he writes, he instantly identified it – complete with flashing lights and images – as an epileptogenic, or seizure-triggering, video. He dropped his iPad as soon as he recognised the video’s characteristics. Trump supporters have sent death threats, mockery and anti-Semitic imagery to journalists asking questions about Donald Trump’s finances, taxes, charitable giving and ties abroad.

10-14-16 No vote on gay marriage
No vote on gay marriage
Australia has scrapped a long-planned referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage. The opposition Labor Party refused to support the government’s proposal, saying that a vote would be costly and divisive. It cited research from Ireland, the only country to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, which showed that the referendum campaign there increased hate speech against gays and lesbians. All political parties and a majority of Australians support legalization, and the opposition wants the national legislature to approve same-sex marriage without a public referendum. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he won’t let the matter be decided by Parliament, so marriage equality will likely be off the agenda until 2019, when the next general elections will be held.

10-14-16 Transgender rights: France scraps sterilisation in status law
Transgender rights: France scraps sterilisation in status law
Gay and transgender activists have welcomed a new French law that lets transgender people change their legal status without having to be sterilised. The activist group ILGA-Europe called it "clear progress" that "another European country has dispensed with the shameful practice of sterilisation". But it regretted that trans people in France will still have to get a court to recognise their gender change. Laws in Denmark, Malta, Ireland and Norway have gone further, it said. In those countries, legal gender recognition relies on the principle of "self-determination" - dispensing with medical or judicial requirements. That principle was also advocated by the Council of Europe - the top European human rights watchdog - in an anti-discrimination resolution last year.

10-14-16 Muslim detention case heads to Supreme Court
Muslim detention case heads to Supreme Court
The Supreme Court said this week it will decide whether Muslims, Arabs, and other immigrants rounded up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks can sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials for violating their civil rights. Hundreds of noncitizens, many of them Muslim, were held in harsh conditions at a Brooklyn detention center after the attacks—some for as long as eight months. They were never charged with terrorism offenses, but instead detained on civil immigration violations. Only six justices will preside over the case, which also names former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a defendant. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have recused themselves, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat remains vacant. (Webmaster's comment: Innocent of anything but in held in a prison for 8 months because they were Muslims!)

10-12-16 Speaking a second language changes how you see the world
Speaking a second language changes how you see the world
There are two versions of the writer Lauren Collins. There is the English-speaking Lauren, who, presumably, is the Lauren primarily responsible for writing her (wonderful) new memoir, When in French. And then there is the French-speaking Lauren, the one tasked with navigating a marriage and a life in a second language. In her new book, she tells the story of falling in love with a Frenchman, marrying him, and relocating with him to Switzerland; a passage toward the end depicts one of the sillier but still salient differences between the two Laurens: The dueling selves she speaks of points to a tantalizing question: Is the you that exists in one linguistic context different from the you that exists in another? Speakers of multiple languages often believe so. (Webmaster's comment: Our language defines how we think and what we think. If our language does not embace a concept then how can we think about it? It's much more difficult.)

10-11-16 How Donald Trump would destroy the rule of law in America
How Donald Trump would destroy the rule of law in America
With visions of a perp walk dancing in their heads, many Republicans likely agree with their vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, that a highlight of Sunday's presidential debate was Donald Trump threatening to unleash the Justice Department on Hillary Clinton. If elected, Trump promised to "instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look" at Clinton's email issues, later adding that if he were already president, she would "be in jail." Now, maybe Trump was just reaffirming his stance as a no-nonsense, "law-and-order" candidate. In a Trump administration, there would be no special breaks for the high-ranking or high-born. All would be equal before the law. Or maybe not. Far more likely is this: Trump was indulging the Republican Party's collective revenge fantasy about Clinton. She should certainly be imprisoned for something or other, right? Her private server, Clinton Foundation activities, the Benghazi attacks. Maybe Travelgate. Pick one and prosecute already. Verdict first, trial afterward, says the Orange King. "Lock her up!" And while he's at it, President Trump could cook up a reason to toss soon-to-be former President Obama in the clink as well. The internet offers plenty of supposed justifications. Some on the right, even those who intensely dislike Trump, are hand-waving away Trump's comments as no biggie. This is a mistake. Trump seems to again be suggesting he would run roughshod over various political norms and constitutional limits were he to occupy the Oval Office. And yet Trump remains widely supported by one of America's main two political parties. Recall Trump threatening Amazon and Washington Post boss Jeff Bezos for the newspaper's coverage of him: "And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems." Trump has said he would "open up" libel laws so government officials could sue media critics. Trump would demand the military execute illegal orders to kill the families of terrorists. Trump would unilaterally slap a tax on the products of companies who build plants in foreign countries. A Trump election loss would be a clear sign of electoral fraud. Trump says he believes in "law and order"? Well, he has the "order" part down, at least. But only his self-interested version.

10-11-16 Australia same-sex marriage vote blocked by opposition
Australia same-sex marriage vote blocked by opposition
Australian opposition MPs have said they will block the prime minister's plan to hold a national vote on legalising same-sex marriage. Malcolm Turnbull has promised to put the issue to a non-binding ballot, or plebiscite, next year. But critics, including many supporters of same-sex marriage, say parliament should make the decision itself. They say the plebiscite will be expensive and runs the risk of unleashing homophobic rhetoric. Parliament will still vote on whether to hold the plebiscite, but without opposition and crossbench support it is unlikely to pass the senate. Mr Turnbull has not yet said whether he will allow MPs a free parliamentary vote instead, as the opposition wants, meaning the issue is unlikely to be resolved soon.

10-10-16 Abolishing locked psychiatric wards could put patients at risk
Abolishing locked psychiatric wards could put patients at risk
Locking ward doors is linked to higher suicide rates, according to new research – but abolishing them altogether could harm the people we’re trying to help. Open wards are better for people with mental health issues than wards with locked doors. So claims a recent study that found that suicide rates were lower in unlocked wards in psychiatric facilities. The finding that open wards are safer for patients than secure units is appealing – it seems kinder, more humane. But the study was deeply flawed, and any move to change practices accordingly could risk harming more of the people that hospitals are trying to help. The study compared suicide rates in locked and open wards in Germany. One clear problem is that the people admitted to these two types of wards tend to be very different – the study found, for example, that people in locked wards were more likely to have considered or attempted suicide in the past.

10-7-16 Why we should think twice about trying to extend the human lifespan
Why we should think twice about trying to extend the human lifespan
Forget 40 being the new 30. For a while now, 80 has been the new 40. As far back as data goes, a human's life expectancy hovered right around 40 years, no matter where they lived. But that changed around 1900, when advances in medicine, technology, and communication gradually increased the average life expectancy to its current average of roughly 80 years in First World countries. Japan, Australia, and Canada have average life expectancies above 80 years old — the United States is ranked 43rd with an expectancy of 79.68 years — but that's not the same story for the world's poorest countries. Ethiopia's life expectancy is 64.8 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo's is 60, and Malawi's, the poorest country in the world according to gross domestic product per capita, is 58.3 years. The life expectancy gap between America's richest 1 percent and its poorest 1 percent is currently slightly over 14 years. Advances in biotechnology may only widen that gap.

10-7-16 Donald Trump's 30-year crusade against the Central Park Five
Donald Trump's 30-year crusade against the Central Park Five
When a Central Park jogger was brutally raped and beaten nearly to death in 1989, Donald Trump was at the front of the pack calling for literal blood. Four black teenagers and one Latino teenager were charged and jailed on shaky evidence after confessing to the crime under intense questioning, and two weeks after the attack, Trump took out a full-page ad in four city newspapers advocating for the reinstatement of the death penalty. But the so-called Central Park Five were vindicated in 2002, when their convictions were vacated after a convicted murderer and rapist confessed to the crime — a confession that was corroborated by DNA evidence. (DNA was never found connecting the Central Park Five to the crime.) The Central Park Five were eventually awarded a $41 million settlement from New York City in 2014. But over the decades, even as it became increasingly clear that the Central Park Five were innocent, Trump has continued to call for their deaths, and even criticized the city for its multi-million dollar settlement — all without any actual evidence that the Central Park Five were involved in the rape.

10-7-16 Afghanistan LGBT community living under threat of death
Afghanistan LGBT community living under threat of death
Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Afghanistan, rarely discussed in the media and widely condemned as immoral and un-Islamic. As a result there are no statistics indicating the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country. The BBC spoke to four Afghans with different sexual orientations. All told stories of a life in hiding, but all were determined to stand by their identity. All names in the article have been changed for safety reasons. Zainab is 19 years old and lives at home. But her parents and siblings have no idea what she feels. "I was 15 or 16 when I realised that I had a dislike towards men," she says. "I was working in a beauty salon. There were lots of girls around me and it was then I realised I fancied girls more than boys." Zainab says it took her years to find the courage to come out to her first partner.

10-7-16 Archbishop Desmond Tutu 'wants right to assisted death'
Archbishop Desmond Tutu 'wants right to assisted death'
South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu has revealed that he wants to have the option of an assisted death. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and anti-apartheid campaigner said that he did "not wish to be kept alive at all costs", writing in the Washington Post newspaper on his 85th birthday. Mr Tutu came out in favour of assisted dying in 2014, without specifying if he personally wanted to have the choice. He was hospitalised last month for surgery to treat recurring infections.

10-7-16 The new film 13th is an essential look at race relations and incarceration
The new film 13th is an essential look at race relations and incarceration
This year, the New York Film Festival opened for the first time in its 54-year history with a documentary, 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay, of Selma. What's surprising is that it's not a formally innovative work but a conventional talking-heads doc, made for Netflix. Why did the good people at the Film Society of Lincoln Center give it this prestigious platform? I imagine because this is an election year — the most potentially cataclysmic in our lifetime — and the programmers want the film to reach a moneyed, influential audience and the media attuned to its responses. But they're also paying tribute to film's scope. DuVernay has attempted to give mass incarceration (2.3 million people in the U.S., 40 percent of them black), Black Lives Matter, and white racism an economic context. "Law and order," the film argues, is a code phrase for a form of slavery that exists right now, unrecognized. The title refers to the constitutional amendment that freed the slaves — but left them to their own devices in a crushed economy and a predatory culture. The irony, DuVernay says, is that the culture promptly recast blacks as the predators, the threats to social order as well as the virtue of white women. She invokes D.W. Griffith's 1919 The Birth of a Nation to far greater effect than Nate Parker in his shockingly crude new film of the same name. (I was surprised that Parker's film wasn't chosen for the NYFF — until I saw it.) The point we're meant to take away is that one form of slavery was replaced by another. Prison labor isn't covered by the 13th Amendment.

10-6-16 Do animals have souls?
Do animals have souls?
Non-humans have feelings. Does that mean they have souls? In common parlance, the word "soul" pops up everywhere. We may speak of a vast, soulless corporation or describe an athlete as the "heart and soul" of his team. Soul music gets us swaying. We want our lover, body and soul. In each case, "soul" connotes deep feeling and core values. "Feelings form the basis for what humans have described for millennia as the … soul or spirit," the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio eloquently expounds in his groundbreaking book Descartes' Error (1994). Today, studies increasingly show that many non-human beings feel. Elephants appear to feel grief, while dolphins and whales express joy, or something much like it. Parrots can become cranky, pigs and cows terrified, chickens saddened, monkeys seemingly embarrassed. Experiments have shown that rats become agitated when seeing surgery performed on other rats and that, when presented with a trapped lab-mate and a piece of chocolate, they will free their caged brethren before eating. There's even evidence that rats take pleasure in being tickled. None of this will come as a surprise to pet owners or anyone who has observed virtually any kind of animal for any length of time. Science is rediscovering what Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) concluded: that the variations between humans and other species in their capacity to feel and express emotion are differences in degree rather than in kind.It's a short step from there to recognition that individual animals have personalities, and to reckon that not only do they live — they have lives. (Webmaster's comment: Animals do not not have souls. And neither do we.)

10-6-16 The economics driving America's devastating drug scourge
The economics driving America's devastating drug scourge
America is coming to the belated realization that it has a heroin epidemic on its hands. And this problem is intertwined with a larger epidemic of legal painkillers, which killed more people than car crashes or guns in 2014. Like all big social changes, part of this story is economic. How much money people make, where, how, and whether they can work, what they can buy — all of this forms the superstructure in which human lives and communities grow and thrive or whither and die. That applies to the heroin epidemic as much as anything else. And like all economic stories, this one comes in two parts: The demand side and the supply side. The demand side — why so many more Americans are using — has gotten most of the attention so far. But the supply side is equally fascinating in its own grim way.

10-4-16 Inmate strikers enter the fray for US prison reform
Inmate strikers enter the fray for US prison reform
The US is currently in the midst of the largest prisoner strike in its history. Prison reform in the US has typically been in the hands of politicians and activists - but now the actual inmates want their say. On 9 September, the 45th anniversary of a bloody 1971 prison uprising in Attica, New York, inmates at prisons throughout the US staged a coordinated strike in an estimated 11 states. The epicentre of the protest movement is the troubled William C Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama and a group of inmates and allies there called the Free Alabama Movement. Fam partnered with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to spread the word to various prisons through direct mailings and prisoner news publications. Inmates have even found ways to communicate about the strike using social media accounts, which can be maintained by friends and family on the outside. The goals were manifold, but among them is an end to cheap prison labour. In the US, prison inmates do all sorts of work, from fighting fires, to sewing undergarments, to farming the land and cleaning up road kill on the highways. For these kinds of duties they can be paid as little as 15 cents an hour.

10-2-16 Racist graffiti attack on historic black school in Virginia
Racist graffiti attack on historic black school in Virginia
A historic black school in Virginia which was being restored has been vandalised with racist graffiti. The Ashburn Colored School in Virginia, about 30 miles (50km) west of Washington DC, was discovered covered in swastikas and "white power" slogans. Local students had been restoring the crumbling building, hoping to create an education museum. The group, which had raised $20,000 (£15,000) for the project, said it was "heartbroken about this senseless act". Loudoun County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation. "The vandalism to the Old Ashburn School is reprehensible and will not be tolerated here in Loudoun County," said Sheriff Mike Chapman. (Webmaster's comment: White Racist Nazi Pigs full of intolerance and hatred are alive and well in America! Empowered by the Alt-Right movment we tolerate them at our own peril!)

10-2-16 The dangers of being gay in the Middle East
The dangers of being gay in the Middle East
Across the region, scores of gay men are being jailed. Just after it became known in June that the attacker of Orlando's Pulse nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Egypt's foreign ministry immediately moved to condemn the attack on a U.S. gay bar. "Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery," the ministry said. Yet the statement didn't acknowledge that Pulse was a gay club, and that many of the victims were members of the LGBTQ community. Three days later, a court in Cairo sentenced two 18-year-olds to three years in prison on charges of "debauchery": The young men were apprehended through government surveillance of social media dating apps for gay men, according to court records. It's no surprise to gay Egyptians, say community leaders. In fact, they say Egypt has become one of the world's biggest jailers of gay men, with as many as 500 behind bars on "morals" charges — and the crackdown is escalating. "Most of the gay people in Egypt are even not out to their families — they are living in fear, not living their lives," said Yousef Rizik, who at 18 is one of Egypt's youngest gay leaders and among the few willing to speak openly about the wave of repression against the community. (Webmaster's comment: Also the leading country for FGM were 2/3 of the women have been genitally mutilated!)

10-1-16 The rise of the alt-right
The rise of the alt-right
Once confined to the internet's fringes, the extremist movement has been emboldened by the rise of Donald Trump. Here's everything you need to know: What is the alt-right? It's a weird mix of old-school neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, anti-globalists, and young right-wing internet trolls — all united in the belief that white male identity is under attack by multicultural, "politically correct" forces. Alt-righters are primarily active online, where they taunt progressive and mainstream conservative opponents with anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or racist emails, tweets, and other social media posts, and exchange white-nationalist memes and conspiracy theories on anonymous forums like Reddit and 4chan. Another major alt-right platform is Breitbart.com, a right-wing news site that was given a major boost when Breitbart head Stephen Bannon was named CEO of Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign in August. As a result, the alt-right has become "the most important pushback against having a multicultural and pluralistic society since the 1920s Klan," says investigative journalist Chip Berlet, who studies extreme right-wing movements. (Webmaster's comment: This is a resurrection of Hitler youth, full of hate and intolerance. It appeals to the worst within us! Read this article. It's important information.)

  • What is the alt-right?
  • Where did the movement originate?
  • Who are today's alt-righters?
  • What about Breitbart?
  • How does Trump fit in?
  • Is the alt-right here to stay?
  • The alt-right's enfant terrible!

10-1-16 Roy Moore: Alabama top judge ousted over gay marriage stand
Roy Moore: Alabama top judge ousted over gay marriage stand
Alabama's top judge has been suspended for the remainder of his term for defying federal court rulings that legalised same-sex marriage. Roy Moore, 69, violated judicial ethics with an order seen as directing probate judges to deny marriage licences to gay couples, a judicial panel ruled. The decision was a "politically motivated effort" by radical groups, he said. His lawyer has vowed to appeal. It is the second suspension for Mr Moore, an outspoken conservative. In 2003, he was removed for refusing to take down a monument of the Ten Commandments he installed at a state building. He was re-elected as chief justice of the state's Supreme Court in 2012.

10-1-16 US death penalty: Proportion of Americans who support execution falls below 50% for the first time
US death penalty: Proportion of Americans who support execution falls below 50% for the first time
The proportion of Americans who support the death penalty has fallen below half for the first time, according to a US study. The Pew Research Center, which looks at social issues, found that belief in capital punishment was at its lowest for over four decades. Only about half of Americans (49%) now favour execution for inmates convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped by 7% since March 2015, from 56%. There has been a sizeable slump in public approval for state executions, which peaked during the mid-1990s. In 1994, eight out of 10 Americans backed the death penalty, and under two in 10 were opposed to it. (Webmaster's comment: European countries have 1/3 to 1/6th the rate of murders as the United States and they don't have the death penalty. The death penalty does not work as a deterrent! It's simply Christian vengence, a biblical "an eye for an eye" right out of the old testament (Exodus 21-24). It's also Trumpt's favorite Bible verse! But Jesus refuted it in Matthew 5:38-48. Christians full of hate and intolerance refuse to accept this however.)

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61 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for October 2016

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for September 2016