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

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

12-30-16 America's worrying war crimes regression
America's worrying war crimes regression
"I charge you," George Washington wrote to the then-loyal Benedict Arnold preparing to lead the Quebec Campaign of 1775, "as you value your own safety and honour, and the favour and esteem of your Country, that you check, by every motive of duty and fear of punishment, every attempt to plunder or insult any of the inhabitants of Canada." "Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian," Washington continued, that soldier should be subject to "severe and exemplary punishment" appropriate to the "shame, disgrace, and ruin" such behavior brought "to themselves and Country." Washington was not alone among the Founding Fathers in his condemnation of what we would today call "war crimes." Patrick Henry argued that the great virtue of the English common law system was its tendency to prohibit the cruelty found under civil law systems in Europe. "What has distinguished our ancestors?" he asked during debate at the Virginia ratifying convention for the Constitution. "That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment." Some in the new United States would seek to introduce torture, he warned, on the grounds that it is "a necessity of strengthening the arm of government." If they succeed, he warned, "We are then lost and undone."Our incoming president has enthused on his willingness to intentionally bomb women and children who have the misfortune of being related to terrorists — and thanks to the largely unfettered war powers claimed by the previous two administrations, he may well manage to do exactly that. (If 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, an American citizen under no suspicion of terrorism, can be assassinated by U.S. drone strike because his father was an al Qaeda propagandist, it is hardly a stretch to imagine Trump targeting the children of Islamic State leaders.) (Webmaster's comment: The murder of innocents is never justified and is a murder and war crime committed by those who authorize it!)

12-29-16 How Republicans will wage war on the poor
How Republicans will wage war on the poor
For years now, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been talking in his earnest Wisconsin way about how much he cares about poverty. Republicans care about the poor, he insists, they just don't want to trap them in dependency — thus his proposals for a panopticon surveillance bureaucracy to coerce poor people into getting jobs and following bourgeois moral values. But now that Donald Trump will become president with a Republican-controlled Congress, we're getting a vision of what that's actually going to look like in practice. It will be an all-out war on poor people's programs, without even a whisper of countervailing effort to help them get jobs or anything else. First and probably most importantly, Republicans want to drastically roll back Medicaid. The first item on the agenda is repealing ObamaCare, which contains a large expansion of that program. If repealed in full, that would throw roughly 16 million people off the program at a stroke. Second, they want to repeat the basic program of welfare reform on Medicaid. Welfare reform had three main prongs: block-granting the money to the states, capping spending so its size is eaten away by inflation every year, and sharp new restrictions on eligibility. This was justified in 1996 by a firestorm of vicious race-baiting about dependency, but its objective was obvious: to slowly obliterate the program. This goal has been mostly achieved. Enrollment in welfare has consistently fallen even during the Great Recession, and the block grant allows conservative states to bogart the money for things like anti-abortion agitprop. Overall, extreme poverty has increased by 150 percent as a direct result of this policy.

12-28-16 The Republican plot to devour retirees' nest eggs
The Republican plot to devour retirees' nest eggs
Perhaps the most monstrous thing about the American medical system — and the bar for that title is high indeed — is predatory billing. A great many medical providers adjust their prices based on how defenseless the patient is, and bleed the weakest ones for every last red cent, often with preposterously inflated charges for things like aspirin and bandages. A 2015 study looked at the worst price gougers in the country and found 50 hospitals that charged uninsured people roughly 10 times the actual cost of care. Key to this practice is something called "balance billing," and it's why the American Medical Association is strongly supporting Donald Trump's pick of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare. Balance billing is forbidden for Medicare enrollees, but Price wants to allow it — thus allowing doctors and hospitals to devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors. So what is balance billing? It's the practice of billing the patient for the difference between the sticker price and what insurance will pay. So if a hospital visit costs $1,000, but your insurance will only cover $300, some providers will "balance bill" you for $700. For unscrupulous providers, the method of exploitation is obvious: When doing any sort of expensive procedure, take a rough estimate of the absolute maximum the patient can pay, and jack up the price so the balance hits it. Or if you're short on time, just bill them into the stratosphere, and you'll get whatever the patient has during the bankruptcy proceeding.

12-26-16 Taiwan 'Nazi rally' school principal resigns
Taiwan 'Nazi rally' school principal resigns
The principal of a Taiwanese school whose students held a mock Nazi rally for a Christmas parade has resigned. Cheng Hsiao-ming, head of the Kuang Fu High School in Hsinchu, said he took "full responsibility" and apologised. Friday's "rally" featured a parade of swastika banners and a cardboard tank carrying one student performing a Nazi salute. Israel's representative called the event "deplorable" and Taiwan's presidential office has apologised. Announcing his resignation, Mr Cheng said: "As educators, we should have taught students to have the right values. We will learn from the mistakes we made and have asked students to do so too." (Webmaster's comment: The great Evil is back all over the world in Asia, in Europe, and in America!)

Students in American Supported ''Free'' Taiwan learning to support Hitler and the Nazis! America will be next!

12-26-16 How Pearl Harbor changed Japanese-Americans
How Pearl Harbor changed Japanese-Americans
The attack on Pearl Harbor shaped the lives of Japanese-Americans long after World War Two ended. As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Hawaii, the internment and treatment of Japanese-Americans during the war continues to resonate in today's political landscape. When US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood together in Hiroshima in late May, they made history: President Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the site of the US atomic bomb attack. On Tuesday they are set to reunite for another historic visit - Pearl Harbor. When Japanese attacked the US naval base on 7 December 1941, the rest of the world was already at war. Shortly after, the US joined the Allied forces. More than 50 million soldiers and civilians were killed, making it the deadliest military conflict in history. But after Pearl Harbor there were consequences for another group: American citizens of Japanese ancestry. "The Japanese race is an enemy race," wrote Lieutenant General John DeWitt in Final Report, Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942. "While many second and third generation Japanese born on American soil, possessed of American citizenship, have become 'Americanized,' the racial strains are undiluted." In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, sending 120,000 people from the US west coast into internment camps because of their ethnic background. Two-thirds of them were born in America. Exclusion orders were posted in California, directing removal of persons of Japanese ancestry. (Webmaster's comment: And in Racist America this could happen again for almost any reason, but mostly because of all the haters and losers in America and their deep feelings of inadequacy.)

12-23-16 Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.
Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.
Religion remains an integral part of most Americans' lives, but Gallup's ongoing research shows how this has changed over time. The following are five important findings about religion in the U.S.:

  • Almost eight in 10 identify with a religion, mostly Christian
  • 21% have no religious identity, up from 15% in 2008
  • Over seven in 10 say religion is losing its influence in U.S. society
Religious Identification in the U.S.: 2016 %
Protestant/Other Christian 48.9
Catholic 23.0
Mormon 1.8
Jewish 2.1
Muslim 0.8
Other non-Christian religion 2.5
None/Atheist/Agnostic 18.2
No response given 2.6

Based on 173,229 interviews conducted Jan. 2-Dec. 19, 2016

  • America remains a largely Christian nation, although less so than in the past.
  • The trend away from formal religion continues.
  • A majority still say religion is important in their lives.
  • Americans continue to say that religion is losing its influence in American society.
  • Religion remains intertwined with political self-identification.

12-23-16 US race relations: Six surprising statistics
US race relations: Six surprising statistics
A white gunman shot dead nine people in an African-American church in the city of Charleston on 17 June, police say, two months after an unarmed black man was killed by a white police officer in North Charleston.

  1. There are only two black billionaires in the US, there are about 500 white billionaires.
  2. 9.8% over-25s have a degree, 27% of white over-25s have a degree.
  3. 10% of black over-25s completed a bachelor's degree, compared with 14.4% of whites.
  4. 75% of white Americans have only white friends, 65% of black Americans have only black friends.
  5. 10.9% black unemployment, 4.8% of white Americans are out of work.
  6. 37% male prison inmates are black, 32% were white and 22% Hispanic.

12-23-16 How refugees have the power to change the societies they join
How refugees have the power to change the societies they join
In the late 17th century, small bands of refugees began making their way into Spanish Florida. At first, they arrived in small numbers, carrying little more than the clothes on their backs, and without generating much interest. The material demands they might place on the Spanish state were at best modest. Yet these refugees and their experience in Spanish Florida would raise nettlesome political questions. Refugees have a special power to unsettle political communities, one that far outstrips their claim on practical resources. The refugees to Spanish North America came from all over what is now Florida and Georgia, and headed primarily to St Augustine, the region's Spanish hub. By 1700, St Augustine was more than a century old, and had endured starvation, invasions, slaving, disease, pirates, and isolation. Refugees were not in any unequivocal way its most obviously dangerous challenge. But that would soon change. During the first decade of the 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession, known as Queen Anne's War in the English colonies, reached the American colonies. By the end of the war, indigenous refugees had helped challenge Spanish control of Florida. These small, sporadic groups morphed into a stream of people trying to escape from attacks and slaving raids in their Apalachee, Timucua, Chacato, Yamasee, Ais, Mayaca, and Jororo homelands. The movement of hundreds of refugees from native communities supposedly under Spanish protection undermined Spanish claims to the land, and raised doubts about the stability of their empire. If the Spanish could not control their borders or protect their subjects, what claim did they have over the land?

12-23-16 It’s time to bust the myth that a healthy diet has to be costly
It’s time to bust the myth that a healthy diet has to be costly
When it comes to deciding if food is good for us, the misleading idea that pricy equals healthy has taken a vice-like grip, warns Anthony Warner. “Is this food healthy?” When it comes to packaged fare on shop shelves, in particular, this is one of the hardest questions for most people to answer, even tougher in the dash to stock up for the holidays. Which is why research showing that price is the guiding light for most us isn’t that surprising. Cheap food is unhealthy, expensive is good. Right? Wrong, at least as a universal law. Weighing up what’s good for us is tough. There are so many factors to consider, which isn’t helped by conflicting opinions and information. Deciding what is good for you is likely to depend upon your own health, general nutritional requirements, priorities and needs at that time. All foods carry some risk. Everything can be eaten to excess – even kale. Similarly, all foods can have some benefit, even if it is just as a cheap source of readily available calories. Judging whether a food is “healthy” is a minefield of confusing and contrary messages and everyone struggles, including skilled professionals. Could labels on food packaging help? All manufactured food must carry detailed nutritional information on the front of the pack, clearly showing calories and levels of key nutrients such as salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat.

12-22-16 HB2 law: Legislators fail to repeal North Carolina 'bathroom bill'
HB2 law: Legislators fail to repeal North Carolina 'bathroom bill'
A deal to repeal North Carolina's so-called "bathroom bill" collapsed on Wednesday, as each side accused the other of broken promises. The law limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Businesses, entertainers and sports teams have boycotted North Carolina over the controversial bill. But state legislators were unable to reach agreement after late additions were made to the proposed deal. The law, known as HB2, was introduced in response to an ordinance from the city of Charlotte, which would have afforded extensive protections to LGBT people. HB2 placed limits on this, particularly by requiring transgender people to use toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. (Webmaster's comment: Make no mistake. The whole purpose of these laws is to make LGBTs easy to identify in bathrooms so they can be attacked there by Christian Haters!)

12-22-16 Anti-gay campaign drives out Russian teacher in Krasnoyarsk
Anti-gay campaign drives out Russian teacher in Krasnoyarsk
A self-styled Russian campaigner for morality in schools has boasted about the dismissal of a teacher he describes as a "lesbian" and "satanist". "Another school purge of an LGBT teacher," Timur Bulatov wrote on Russia's version of Facebook, called vKontakte. He professes to be fighting decadence because he is a pious Muslim. He sent a dossier on music teacher Maria Shestopalova to her school bosses in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. She says they then forced her to quit. In a post on the Russian social media site, Ms Shestopalova, 21, said she had been summoned by the heads of Krasnoyarsk Further Education Centre No 4. She said they spent six hours questioning her and applying pressure by citing the reputation of the school, of the other teachers and of her parents. After that, she said, she handed in her resignation.

12-22-16 Sanctuary cities under threat by Donald Trump
Sanctuary cities under threat by Donald Trump
If President-elect Trump wants to keep his promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants he will need the help of local law enforcement. But more than half of all undocumented residents live in so-called "sanctuary cities" - local jurisdictions that have vowed not to co-operate with federal immigration policies that seek to deport non-violent criminals. Trump has called for a federal funding cut for those municipalities that refuse to hand over their undocumented residents and said he will focus on deporting criminals first. The BBC went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Mayor Javier Gonzales says he will continue to provide a safe haven for peaceful immigrants.

12-22-16 Mississippi churchgoer arrested in 'Vote Trump' arson
Mississippi churchgoer arrested in 'Vote Trump' arson
An arson and vandalism attack last month on an African-American church in Mississippi was carried out by a black member of the congregation, police say. Andrew McClinton, 45, was charged over the incident, in which "Vote Trump" was also spray-painted, a week before the presidential election. Police suspect the attack at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was staged to make it look like a hate crime. The news comes as Michigan police found an alleged hate crime to be false. Police in Ann Arbor said a Muslim student at the University of Michigan fabricated a claim that a man threatened to set her on fire if she did not remove her hijab, a headscarf often worn by Muslim women, on 11 November. (Webmaster's comment: So now instead of 867 hate crimes in ten days after the election it is now only 865 hate crimes in ten days. What a big difference that is!)

12-22-16 Black woman reports white man for choking her son and she gets arrested
Black woman reports white man for choking her son and she gets arrested
A video showing a black mother and daughter being arrested in Texas is causing outrage on social media. The woman had called the police to complain about a neighbour, who she claims had choked her seven-year-old son. But as an argument broke out, the Facebook live video shows the white officer pinning her to the ground and holding a taser to her head. A civil rights lawyer has now taken up the case. The video starts peacefully enough - although the first words you hear are: "Don't yell mamma" from the person filming. The woman, identified on social media as Jacqueline Craig, says to the officer: "My daughter and son came home, saying that this man grabbed him and choked him." When she explains that her white neighbour had accused her son of throwing some paper on the ground, the officer asks her: "Why don't you teach your son not to litter?" That's when the situation in Fort Worth quickly turns to chaos. (Webmaster's comment: The reversal of the law. The victim is guilty because she is black, the white man is never quilty, and any amount of violence the police do against the black person is justified. She's lucky she is still alive!)

12-22-16 Will the populists of the future try to smash the machines?
Will the populists of the future try to smash the machines?
Here come the neo-Luddites. Donald Trump vows to stop American firms from offshoring jobs to Mexico and Asia. "Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences," the president-elect said after striking his recent deal with Carrier. "It's not gonna happen." But what if the destination of choice isn't Monterrey or Shenzen but Robot City? Indeed, that's how the Carrier story is unfolding. The company is investing millions to automate its Indianapolis furnace plant, with machines eventually replacing some workers whose jobs were just saved. No surprise here. Most of the multi-decade decline in factory jobs has been due to higher productivity from automation, not trade. But Trump, oddly, seems unconcerned. When asked whether he was worried that his policies would accelerate the rise of the robots, the president-elect offered a hand-waved "We'll make the robots, too." Yet the economic logic — such as it is — of Trumpism seems to be that government should prioritize protecting a worker's current job over preparing him for today's volatile, churning labor market. Trump, however, doesn't seem to differentiate between globalization and automation. Other populist politicians might. Imagine: What if technological progress gobbles up existing jobs as never before? Some of the scarier estimates — which I approach with some skepticism — show that most jobs will be threatened by automation over the next 20 years. (Webmaster's comment: Rather than learn new skills the ignorant American male will attack machines that are better at his job than he is.)

12-21-16 ‘Psychedelic sanctuary’ will help drug users get over bad trips
‘Psychedelic sanctuary’ will help drug users get over bad trips
The first psychedelic drug treatment centre in the US plans to help users of LSD, magic mushrooms and other hallucinogens come to terms with their experiences. How do you recover from a bad trip? A “psychedelics sanctuary” is set to open in New York this month, the first US therapeutic facility for users of psychedelic drugs. Instead of focusing on going cold turkey, the centre will use psychotherapy and group support to help users come to terms with any intense and difficult experiences they might have had while taking hallucinogenic drugs. “The prescriptive mode that prevails in drug treatment today says that drug use is a chronic, progressive disease that is only arrested by total abstinence,” says Andrew Tatarsky, founder of the Center for Optimal Living, a New York substance abuse clinic that will host the sanctuary. Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, are usually regarded as drugs of abuse. Conventionally, treatment has attempted to rid people of their addictions, encouraging complete abstinence. However, LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics are not physiologically addictive. Many people who use psychedelics are not looking to be cured, but instead seek help making sense of their trips, which can sometimes fundamentally challenge how they see the world. (Webmaster's comment: We also need the same thing for all the new brain fried pot heads as a result of the new recreational marijuana laws.)

12-20-16 Cut overseas aid and you risk setting off the population bomb
Cut overseas aid and you risk setting off the population bomb
Foreign aid is under attack but it could be key to stopping global population hitting a possible 13 billion this century, says science journalist James Randerson. “Stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us and use that money to rebuild our tunnels, roads, bridges and schools.” That was Donald J Trump – then an almost laughable long-shot for US president – announcing his candidacy in June 2015. As a share of its national income, US spending on overseas aid is tiny (0.17 per cent in 2015) – less than many other nations (Sweden spends 1.41 per cent). But Trump’s message was simple: charity begins at home. In the UK, with 0.7 per cent of income going to overseas aid, a similar debate has been playing out, but now with a focus on using the money to bolster post-Brexit trade with the rest of the world. To appease critics, the country’s international development secretary Priti Patel this week wrote to aid providers demanding more transparency about how money is used. She has argued previously for the department she now leads to be scrapped and combined with international trade. In both countries, the assault on aid spending by the populist right is not difficult to find. They argue that money is often wasted on programmes that don’t work, in countries that are rich enough to look after their own. What’s more, they say, much of the cash is siphoned off through corruption. That’s one view. At the other end of the spectrum are those who see aid as a moral obligation for rich nations, or as a tool for soft power.

12-20-16 Wisconsin teacher removed for essay defending Ku Klux Klan
Wisconsin teacher removed for essay defending Ku Klux Klan
A Wisconsin charter school teacher has been suspended after giving seventh-grade students an essay to defend the Ku Klux Klan. The teacher said in a letter to parents that students, who had just watched To Kill a Mockingbird, would write a paper defending the white supremacy group. The letter emphasised the goal was to teach students to write persuasively. The Milwaukee school withdrew the assignment, adding it believed there was no malicious intent involved. Parents contacted the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM) after receiving the letter outlining the essay for when class resumed in January. "This paper will be a persuasive paper defending Klan members on trial," said the assignment for the students, who are between 12-14 years old.

12-20-16 The Christian right's Putin confusion
The Christian right's Putin confusion
The Russian president has a fairly large fan club among politically active U.S. Christian conservatives. There are all sorts of theories about Donald Trump's affinity for Vladimir Putin's Russia, ranging from shadowy business dealings with Putin or pro-Putin entities, to Russia's alleged material aid in promoting Trump's presidential candidacy, to the personal affinity between two men who yearn for recognition as world-historical figures. A related question is why so many Republicans — who four years ago were cheering Mitt Romney's prophecies of a new Cold War struggle with Russia — have accepted Trump's Russophilia. But as Peter Beinart points out at The Atlantic, there is actually a strain of conservatism in which a fondness for post-communist Russia and its leader are not at all out of place:In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed, ideological conservatives and civilizational conservatives parted ways. The clearest example was the former Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, Serbs brutalized the largely Muslim breakaway republic of Bosnia. Ideological conservatives like Robert Kagan urged NATO to intervene in the name of human rights. Cultural conservatives like Buchanan wondered why the U.S. was going to war to defend Muslims against Christians. That's right, Donald Trump and his alt-right fanbase are hardly the only Americans who deeply admire Vladimir Putin: He has a fairly large fan club among politically active U.S. Christian conservatives.

12-19-16 HB2 law: North Carolina to repeal 'bathroom bill'
HB2 law: North Carolina to repeal 'bathroom bill'
North Carolina lawmakers will repeal a controversial HB2 law which limits protections offered to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper announced the repeal after Charlotte City Council voted to strike down a local law that prompted HB2. The law requires transgender people to use toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The ruling led to boycotts by sports teams, businesses, and entertainers. Public bathrooms have become a flashpoint in the battle over transgender rights in the US. The Justice Department sued North Carolina over the law and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch likened that law to the policies of racial segregation. The state's Republicans argued that the law was necessary for privacy and safety. But the incoming governor, Mr Cooper, said he had received assurances from the senate leader and House speaker, both Republican, that the law would be scrapped at a special session on Tuesday. "I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full."

12-19-16 How Republicans' frightening power play in North Carolina will go national
How Republicans' frightening power play in North Carolina will go national
The Republican Party in North Carolina is giving the rest of the country an object lesson in the difference between tyranny and democracy. Met with a close loss in the 2016 governor's race, brought on by passing a ton of really unpopular legislation, the North Carolina GOP is now going down the old path of rigging the electoral machinery against the opposition party. Democrat Roy Cooper won the governorship. But before he is sworn in, Republicans are using their control of the state legislature to strip away huge swaths of authority from the governor's office. As Paul Blest explains, Republicans are making one legislative push to give themselves an iron grip over the state and county election boards, and curtail the power of the state Supreme Court (which just gained a Democratic majority); and another to sharply restrict the governor's ability to appoint bureaucrats and influence the public education system. It is an attempt to overturn the election via legislative chicanery. Essentially, the Republican Party has "used the power of the state to protect itself from the voters of the state," as Jamelle Bouie writes. This should be viewed as a potential test run for the nation as a whole. Republicans have near-unprecedented dominance across all levels of governance in the United States. But their party and their president-elect are actually quite unpopular. The agenda taking shape for a Trump administration is even more so. Chances of an electoral backlash are very good. So to cling to power, Republicans will likely cheat.

12-18-16 Why the Nazis studied American race laws for inspiration
Why the Nazis studied American race laws for inspiration
A shameful truth! On 5 June, 1934, about a year and half after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the Reich, the leading lawyers of Nazi Germany gathered at a meeting to plan what would become the Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi race regime. The meeting was an important one, and a stenographer was present to take down a verbatim transcript, to be preserved by the ever-diligent Nazi bureaucracy as a record of a crucial moment in the creation of the new race regime. That transcript reveals a startling fact: The meeting involved lengthy discussions of the law of the United States of America. At its very opening, the Minister of Justice presented a memorandum on U.S. race law and, as the meeting progressed, the participants turned to the U.S. example repeatedly. They debated whether they should bring Jim Crow segregation to the Third Reich. They engaged in detailed discussion of the statutes from the 30 U.S. states that criminalized racially mixed marriages. They reviewed how the various U.S. states determined who counted as a "Negro" or a "Mongol," and weighed whether they should adopt U.S. techniques in their own approach to determining who counted as a Jew. Throughout the meeting the most ardent supporters of the U.S. model were the most radical Nazis in the room. The record of that meeting is only one piece of evidence in an unexamined history that is sure to make Americans cringe. Throughout the early 1930s, the years of the making of the Nuremberg Laws, Nazi policymakers looked to U.S. law for inspiration. Hitler himself, in Mein Kampf (1925), described the U.S. as "the one state" that had made progress toward the creation of a healthy racist society, and after the Nazis seized power in 1933 they continued to cite and ponder U.S. models regularly. They saw many things to despise in U.S. constitutional values, to be sure. But they also saw many things to admire in U.S. white supremacy, and when the Nuremberg Laws were promulgated in 1935, it is almost certainly the case that they reflected direct U.S. influence. (Webmaster's comment: It's very true. America led the world in Racism and served as a model for other Racist nations. And now it seems many Americans want to go back to that Racist time.)

12-17-16 North Carolina Republicans accused of 'power grab'
North Carolina Republicans accused of 'power grab'
Amid protests and threats of lawsuits, North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature took extraordinary steps on Friday to reduce the power of the new Democratic governor. Democrat Roy Cooper last month defeated incumbent governor Republican Pat McCrory by just over 10,000 votes. At a special session, Republicans voted for reforms to limit Mr Cooper. At least 16 people were arrested after protesters gathered at the legislature, chanting "shame" and refusing to leave. The package of reforms include limiting the number of people Mr Cooper can bring into his team, requiring he seek approval to appoint top administrators at state agencies, and preventing him from shaping election boards. Caren Parker, who protested at the legislature, said: "We voted for a new governor and they're choosing to come and... take away the power."

12-17-16 What it's really like when a prison 'lifer' gets a new shot at life
What it's really like when a prison 'lifer' gets a new shot at life
He served 25 years for a crime he swears he didn't commit. But his hardest challenge was when the parole board finally said "yes." On the breezy patio of an upscale Brazilian steakhouse overlooking Redondo Beach, Ricardo Sapienza celebrates his 46th birthday with 30 close friends and family members. Presents pile up, balloons float in the air, meat is carved from rotisserie skewers, and later, feather-headed Samba dancers will shimmy through. Forty-six is not a milestone for most, but this is the first time in 25 years Sapienza is celebrating his birthday as a free man. For a quarter century he was inmate #H28469. Convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder at the age of 20 in 1991, he was paroled on April 8, 2016. Tonight he also celebrates his last weekend in a six-month court-ordered transitional housing program.

12-17-16 We need to talk about medical marijuana
We need to talk about medical marijuana
As the smoke cleared after Election Day 2016, we found ourselves at the dawn of a new era for cannabis in the United States. In Massachusetts, and elsewhere, new marijuana laws will go into effect. On Election Day, four states, including California (the most populous state in the union), voted to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing the national total to eight states plus the District of Columbia. Four other states voted to allow the use of cannabis in a medical capacity, which means that medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of all states. To put the election results into perspective, the percentage of Americans now living in an area where recreational marijuana is legal, or will soon be, rose from 5 percent to 20 percent. Given the accelerated acceptance for the use of cannabis, it's worth considering the consequences of these new laws. There has been plenty of hand-wringing about how these new laws might harm society, but I believe they have the potential to help in a range of societal issues.

12-16-16 Plan for pot
Plan for pot
Marijuana products should be sold in plain packaging, and only to buyers ages 18 and over, according to a Canadian task force charged with drawing up guidelines for national pot legalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to legalize recreational marijuana in his 2015 election campaign, and now his panel has put out a 106-page report that will shape the legislation. The report envisions stores and dispensaries that sell only marijuana, not alcohol or cigarettes, as well as cafés where pot can be smoked on site. There would be penalties for driving while stoned, and the government would regulate the level of THC, the chemical that causes the high, per dose. “Now is the time to move away from a system that for decades has been based on prohibition of cannabis into a regulated market,” said task force chair Anne McLellan.

12-16-16 Some of the things we were told to avoid
Some of the things we were told to avoid
Marijuana may take a long-term toll on the mind. Researchers found that weed reduces blood flow to virtually every part of the brain. The effect is most notable in the hippocampus, the neural region responsible for learning and memory, which is particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. “The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug,” says co-author Daniel Amen. “This research directly challenges that notion.” Separate studies this year found that longtime marijuana users are also more likely to have memory problems, and are at a greater risk for gum disease.

12-16-16 The death of the dream
The death of the dream
The American dream is dying, said Alana Semuels. A new study led by economist Raj Chetty has quantified what many Millennials have experienced for years: It’s becoming increasingly difficult for young people “to climb the economic ladder and achieve more than one’s parents did.” People born in the 1940s, Chetty found, had a 92 percent chance of earning more than their parents did at age 30. For people born in the 1980s, by contrast, the chances were just 50-50. Why? Economic growth has slowed from 4 and 5 percent in past decades to just 2 or 3 percent today, so there’s less pie to go around. More importantly, almost all of the benefits of the growth that does occur are going to top earners, with people in the lower income brackets stuck with stagnant wages. Americans in the bottom 50 percent make an average of just $16,000 a year, while the top 1 percent averages $1.3 million. And this inequality gap keeps widening every year. One reason for that is wealthy people can use their resources to give their kids a huge advantage over other kids by paying for preschool, nannies, tutors, private schools, and elite college educations. The result: A society in which most of the poor stay poor, and the rich stay rich.

12-16-16 A black life that didn’t matter
A black life that didn’t matter
“How cheap is black life in these United States of America?” asked Eugene Robinson. Last week, a mistrial was declared when a South Carolina jury of 11 whites and one African-American could not convict police officer Michael Slager of either murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American. A bystander video introduced into evidence clearly showed that the shooting was utterly unjustified. After Slager stopped Scott for a broken taillight, the pudgy 50-year-old man slowly ran away. From a distance of 18 feet, the police officer calmly fired five shots into Scott’s back and butt. Then the cop dropped his stun gun by the body, apparently to bolster his story that they were struggling over it. In the trial, Slager claimed he feared for his life; apparently, that’s all a police officer has to say to get off the hook. There will be a retrial, but “this miscarriage of justice” would be easier to swallow if not for all the other unarmed black men who’ve been gunned down by police without legal consequences. This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so necessary. It will remain so “until black lives do, in fact, matter.”

12-16-16 Wearing a symbol of hate to school
Wearing a symbol of hate to school
A Pennsylvania school board is allowing a student to wear a sweatshirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag, saying it did not offend enough students to “disrupt the school day.” Parent Robert Williams, who is black, said the Confederate sweatshirt was a clear statement of “white power” and “racial animus.” He said his daughter “is afraid to be in class with this student” and finds it hard to concentrate.

12-16-16 Honor the anthem
Honor the anthem
At least 20 people have been arrested at movie theaters in India in the past two weeks for failing to stand while the national anthem is played. In the latest sign of growing Hindu nationalist sentiment, the Supreme Court in October ruled that the anthem must be played before every movie and that audiences must stand. “People must feel they live in a nation, and this wallowing, individually perceived notion of freedom must go,” one justice said. The ruling has inspired vigilante enforcement. At a cinema in Panaji in the southern state of Goa, a disabled man who had been carried from his wheelchair to his seat was attacked when he did not stand.

12-16-16 Why America needs a socialist movement
Why America needs a socialist movement
If the American left is to confront Donald Trump, it must have a movement with confidence and energy — one that will defend democracy with the same frantic urgency of conservatives trying to undermine it. In a word, it needs socialism. To see the power of a hardcore movement, you only need to look to North Carolina, where Democrat Roy Cooper won the governorship in a close race and where conservatives are now trampling over democracy and precedent in protest. The GOP-dominated legislature is holding a special session to reduce the governor to all but a figurehead. They're slashing Cooper's ability to appoint state bureaucrats and the trustees of the state university system, cementing control over the state electoral machinery, and sharply restricting the power of the state Supreme Court (where a Democrat won control of a swing seat). Overall, the point is concentrate as much power as possible in the legislature, on which Republicans have a death grip due to gerrymandering. They will disenfranchise enemy demographic groups, ignore federal court orders, arrest members of the press, and otherwise bend the law to the breaking point in the service of clinging to power. Mainstream liberalism is simply not equipped to fight back against this sort of thing. Liberals are palpably wrong-footed — isn't winning the election enough? Good heavens, when will they stop? When will Republicans settle down and respect the legitimacy of democracy? The answer, at least in operational terms, is obvious: never.

12-16-16 Six pharmaceutical firms accused of price-fixing
Six pharmaceutical firms accused of price-fixing
US authorities have accused six pharmaceutical firms from the US, India and Australia of price-fixing. It is alleged the companies conspired to raise the price of the antibiotic doxycycline and diabetes drug glyburide. The civil lawsuit has been filed in 20 US states. It follows criminal charges being brought against former executives at one of the accused firms. US drugmakers Mylan, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical USA and Citron Pharma are named in the lawsuit alongside India's Aurobindo Pharma and Australia's Mayne Pharmaceuticals.

12-15-16 When America meddles in foreign elections, it doesn't hack. It murders.
When America meddles in foreign elections, it doesn't hack. It murders.
That makes the Russian hack far less interference than what happened to, say, Iran in 1953, when the CIA and the British government forcibly removed a democratically-elected prime minister and made the weak Iranian monarch into a brutal, torturing dictator. Or Guatemala, where a U.S.-backed coup in 1954 installed a right-wing dictator, touching off a 36-year civil war that killed maybe 200,000 people. Or Chile, where a U.S.-backed coup in 1973 installed a right-wing dictator who killed thousands and imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands. Or Congo in 1960. Or Haiti on a half-dozen occasions. And on and on. Even when we aren't murdering democratically-elected leaders of foreign countries to protect oil companies or fruit companies or because of hysterical paranoia about Communism, America has non-violently meddled with elections all over the place. Before they overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973, U.S. agents lost him the 1964 election with a blizzard of cash and propaganda. In Italy in 1948, the CIA beat down leftist political parties with bags of cash, fabricated smear campaigns, and other dirty tricks. It has similarly meddled in France, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Portugal, Bolivia, and many other nations. (Webmaster's comment: The United States believes it has the right to kill anyone for the reasons of "national security" or "protecting American interests." What that really means is the right to kill to protect American Corporate Profits.)

12-15-16 What does the perfect criminal justice system look like?
What does the perfect criminal justice system look like?
The effectiveness of punishment as a deterrent is often misunderstood. Those who fill our prisons are clearly undeterred by society's punishments. The fact that rates of recidivism in the U.K. and U.S. hover between 60 and 65 percent only underscores the point that incarceration routinely fails to deter repeat offending. It might seem that more severe punishments would be more effective deterrents, but often the opposite is true. In a number of cases, the death penalty appears to have produced an anti-deterrent effect, increasing rather than reducing crime rates. And it's telling that Europe's lowest reoffending rate is in Norway's humane prison island of Bastoy. Contrary to popular intuitions, what matters most in deterring criminal behavior is not so much the severity of punishment but the likelihood of getting caught. None of this means that we should let violent criminals or corrupt bankers walk free. We have the right to defend society from those who pose a threat, and create incentives for socially beneficial behavior. But if society were to reject notions of blame and responsibility, we'd see a profound shift in how we think about punishment. The sole aim of the criminal justice system would then be to improve the future, not exact revenge for the past.

12-15-16 Report: Healthcare in America Is Grossly Inefficient
Report: Healthcare in America Is Grossly Inefficient
For the better part of the 20th century, the inventions and business ventures of the Industrial Revolution powered the U.S. and other advanced countries to levels of prosperity never seen before. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the upward momentum of progress started slowing, grinding down to a much more sluggish pace. While the national average income -- gross domestic product (GDP) per capita -- continues to expand, the real growth rate has slowed from 2.4% per year in 1929-1979 to an average of 1.7% since 1980, including a growth rate of only 1% since 2007. Living standards increase when the quality of goods and services increases relative to the costs of producing and distributing them. Historically, huge jumps in the quality-to-cost ratio were apparent in fields like power (think electricity), transportation (railways, and then autos and airplanes) and communication (first telegraph, then telephone, internet and smartphone). But certain large sectors of the economy are suffering from something like reverse-innovation: Costs are increasing much faster than any incremental improvement in quality. Take healthcare. From 1980 to 2015, healthcare expanded from 9% of the national GDP to 18%. Some of this is natural and good. The aging population requires more healthcare, and even modest economic growth has freed up spending power for healthcare. The problem is that the per-unit costs of healthcare -- actual procedures, visits with doctors, pharmaceuticals -- have all soared. So the question must be asked: Has it been worth it? (Webmaster's comment: What else would you expect from a For Profit Healthcare System?)

12-14-16 Life Evaluations of LGBT Americans Decline After Election
Life Evaluations of LGBT Americans Decline After Election
The election of Donald Trump as president had a significant negative effect on American adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The percentage of LGBT adults rating their lives positively enough to be classified as "thriving" declined 10 percentage points after the election, from 51% to 41%. There was little change in life evaluations among non-LGBT Americans.

  • Percentage of LGBT adults "thriving" dropped 10 points after election
  • Far fewer Democrats in general classified as thriving after election
  • Republican life evaluations improved post-election

12-14-16 We will soon be able to read minds and share our thoughts
We will soon be able to read minds and share our thoughts
EEG caps that monitor brain activity are allowing us to send thoughts to each other directly – a technology that could help people who are paralysed regain movement. The first true brain-to-brain communication in people could start next year, thanks to huge recent advances. Early attempts won’t quite resemble telepathy as we often imagine it. Our brains work in unique ways, and the way each of us thinks about a concept is influenced by our experiences and memories. This results in different patterns of brain activity, but if neuroscientists can learn one individual’s patterns, they may be able to trigger certain thoughts in that person’s brain. In theory, they could then use someone else’s brain activity to trigger these thoughts. So far, researchers have managed to get two people, sitting in different rooms, to play a game of 20 questions on a computer. The participants transmitted “yes” or “no” answers, thanks to EEG caps that monitored brain activity, with a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation triggering an electrical current in the other person’s brain. By pushing this further, it may be possible to detect certain thought processes, and use them to influence those of another person, including the decisions they make. Another approach is for the brain activity of several individuals to be brought together on a single electronic device. This has been done in animals already. Three monkeys with brain implants have learned to think together, cooperating to control and move a robotic arm.

12-14-16 A civilian survivor of a U.S. drone strike is finally getting his day in court
A civilian survivor of a U.S. drone strike is finally getting his day in court
Survivors of American drone strikes in the Middle East have tried to seek apologies, compensation, or legal redress in the past with limited success. The family of a Pakistani taxi driver filed a criminal case against Washington with their local authorities, for instance, and some civilian strike victims have been given condolence payments. On Tuesday, however, a surviving relative of two men killed by an American drone in Yemen was granted a hearing in a Washington, D.C., circuit court — the first time an American court has heard a drone strike victim's complaint. Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni engineer, is attempting to bring a wrongful death case on behalf of his nephew, a police officer, and his brother-in-law, an imam who vocally opposed terrorism, who were both killed by U.S. bombs in 2012. (Webmaster's comment: It was cold-blooded murder and murderers should go to jail!)

12-14-16 Why are Indians being arrested for sitting during the national anthem?
Why are Indians being arrested for sitting during the national anthem?
The top court has ruled that the national anthem be played before every film and that audiences stand. Twelve people were arrested on Monday evening at a cinema in India, after they remained seated while the national anthem played. The cinemagoers, who were attending an international film festival in the city of Trivandrum in Kerala, were later freed but they face charges of "failure to obey an order issued by a public servant, thereby causing obstruction or annoyance to others". And at a cinema in Chennai on Sunday, eight people who did not stand for the anthem were assaulted and abused, police said. The eight were later charged with showing disrespect to the anthem. The arrests and reports of assault follow last month's Supreme Court ruling that the national anthem be played before every film and that audiences stand while it is played - and they make it clear that authorities are taking the ruling seriously. "If we did not sit on chairs, I thought we would lose the seats," one detainee told the Indian Express. (Webmaster's comment: The STATE wants your obedience regardless of REASON, YOUR RIGHTS, OR ANYTHING ELSE.)

12-13-16 Is the 'alt-right' on the rise in Europe?
Is the 'alt-right' on the rise in Europe?
Is the so-called "alt right" on the rise in Europe? The disparate movement is normally associated with the US and is accused of racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny. (Webmaster's comment: The United States will soon become the world headquarters for hate.)

12-13-16 Michelle Obama 'ape in heels' Facebook post: Woman 'to return to work'
Michelle Obama 'ape in heels' Facebook post: Woman 'to return to work'
A woman suspended after calling First Lady Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" in a Facebook post is set to return to work in West Virginia, local media say. Pamela Ramsey Taylor, who runs a local non-profit group in Clay county, will resume work on 23 December, the Charleston Gazette-Mail said. The screen grab of the post was widely shared online. Local mayor Beverly Whaling resigned over the controversy, after she posted "Just made my day, Pam" to the comment. The Gazette-Mail quoted a letter from the acting director of the non-profit group as saying Ms Taylor would resume work at the Clay County Development Corp on 23 December. In her Facebook post, Ms Taylor had said: "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels." A petition calling for Ms Taylor and Ms Whaling, the mayor of the town of Clay, to be sacked collected more than 85,000 signatures. (Webmaster's comment: In the new Haters America what would you expect? These people are now welcome members in a Haters society.)

12-12-16 Four in 10 in U.S. Dissatisfied With Their Healthcare Costs
Four in 10 in U.S. Dissatisfied With Their Healthcare Costs
Americans' dissatisfaction with healthcare costs is highest among the uninsured, but nearly half of those with private healthcare plans are also dissatisfied. Even as the majority of Americans applaud the quality, cost and coverage of their healthcare, four in 10 adults -- a conspicuous minority in the era of the Affordable Care Act -- are dissatisfied with their healthcare costs. Americans who are covered by Medicare or Medicaid are the least dissatisfied (29%), while dissatisfaction is highest among the uninsured (62%) and averages 48% among those with private insurance. Just over a third of Americans in Gallup's 2014-2016 healthcare polling (37%) report being enrolled in a government healthcare plan such as Medicaid or Medicare; 52% get their healthcare through private insurance; and 11% have no insurance. Among the three groups, dissatisfaction has increased the most in recent years for those with private insurance, rising to 49% in 2016 from an average 40% during 2011-2013, and more broadly from 31% in 2001. (Webmaster's comment: Just why we would expect a For Profit Healthcare System to really benefit anyone except those making the profits is beyond me! Keeping people sick gets you more money! There is no incentive to really cure anyone! The longer you keep them sick the more money you make! The Cuban Healthcare System results in people living just as long and with fewer children dying in childbirth than in the United States, but the healthcare costs only 55% as much as in the United States.)

  • Dissatisfaction at 48% among those with private health insurance
  • Rising premiums, lack of employer help spur dissatisfaction
  • Many in dissatisfied group have put off treatment

12-12-16 Twitter reinstates 'alt-right' leader
Twitter reinstates 'alt-right' leader
Twitter has reinstated the account of a white nationalist think tank leader credited with coining the term "alt-right". The social network suspended Richard Spencer on 15 November. Since then, he was filmed shouting: "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory," at a meeting, prompting some audience members to raise their arms in Nazi-style salutes. A leading anti-racism campaigner has criticised Twitter's decision. The technology company has not responded to the BBC's request for comment. Mr Spencer is president of the white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute. Aleem Maqbool reports on an "alt-right" event where Richard Spencer said "Hail Trump" and supporters gave Nazi salutes. (Webmaster's comment: The similarities between America now and early Nazi Germany are very clear. Details are provided at America's Dark Future?)

12-12-16 In Rogue One, there is no dark or light side
In Rogue One, there is no dark or light side
Despite being boycotted viciously by Nazis, the movie reportedly takes a complicated view of, well, Nazis. Star Wars has always been mythical in stark and relatively simple terms. The original trilogy took the now-controversial position that the guys based on the Nazis — the ones who destroyed Princess Leia's home planet Alderaan just as a demonstration of the Death Star laser's power — were pretty uncomplicatedly bad. It trafficked in the archetypal psychodrama of fathers and sons. It subscribed to a now-obsolete American notion that a victory won in hatred is no victory at all. And if the prequels offered some complicating material, they did so by anticipating America's antihero craze and tracking, in dull and deadening detail, the reasons Darth Vader broke bad. But he did break bad: The vocabulary of the Jedi forces that distinction. There is evil, and there is good. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is different. The first film of the Star Wars Anthology Series, hitting theaters Dec. 16, sidesteps this Jedi Manichaeism almost entirely. (Webmaster's comment: After 70 years the Nazis are back and as evil as ever. Are we going to have to defeat them again? What is it with this evil racist philosophy that appeals so strongly to the losers of the world?)

12-10-16 The truth about America's border with Mexico
The truth about America's border with Mexico
President-elect Trump has promised to build an "impenetrable" wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Is it needed? Here's everything you need to know:

  • How is the border protected now?
  • How many people cross successfully?
  • Why are fewer people crossing?
  • What's happened in Mexico?
  • What is Trump's plan?
  • Are there alternatives to the wall?
  • A treacherous journey

12-9-16 Vaping by US high schoolers has increased by 900 per cent
Vaping by US high schoolers has increased by 900 per cent
The US surgeon general has warned that nicotine can contribute to mood disorders and attention deficits in teens, following a sharp increase in those who vape. Increasing e-cigarette use among teenagers is a cause for concern, according to a report from the US surgeon general. “E-cigarettes went from being rare in 2010 to being the most common tobacco product used by our nation’s youth,” said surgeon general Vivek Murthy on Thursday. Among American high schoolers, vaping reportedly increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, and Murthy says this sharp uptick in e-cigarette use places a new generation at risk of addiction to nicotine, and tobacco-related disease. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, instead combining nicotine, flavourings and other chemicals and heating them to create a vapour. But exposure to nicotine can have adverse effects on developing adolescent brains, including deficits in attention and learning, mood disorders, and reduced impulse control, Murthy said at a press conference coinciding with the release of the report. Sixteen percent of high school students have reported using e-cigarettes in the last month and almost 40 percent have tried them at some point, Benard Dryer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the same press conference. “That’s a staggering figure,” he said. (Webmaster's comment: It's cool and it might get me laid. Teenages need no other reason to do something.)

12-9-16 Exclusive: Mexico clinic plans 20 ‘three-parent’ babies in 2017
Exclusive: Mexico clinic plans 20 ‘three-parent’ babies in 2017
The first baby made using the technique to prevent inherited disease was born this year, and New Scientist has learned that tests suggest he is healthy. Many more three-parent babies will soon be on their way. A clinic in Mexico is planning to use the technique in 20 pregnancies in the first half of 2017, according to its medical director Alejandro Chavez-Badiola. The idea is that the technique, called mitochondrial replacement, avoids harmful mitochondrial mutations passing from the mother to her children. It works by removing the nucleus from a mother’s egg and inserting it into a donor egg, which has its own nucleus removed. The egg is then fertilised with the father’s sperm. In this way, an embryo gets chromosomes from its mother and father, but the DNA in the mitochondria comes from the donor.. The hope is this should enable children not to inherit harmful mitochondrial mutations from their mothers, but will mean that they have genetic material from three people – the father and two women. (Webmaster's comment: Of course in a Christian crazy nation like the United States it's illegal and the parents and children of 3-parent babies are an offense against God. More for Americans to Hate!)

12-9-16 Muslims targeted
Muslims targeted
Three Muslim women—one of them an off-duty NYPD officer—were attacked in alleged hate crimes in New York City this week. In one incident, a transit worker wearing a Muslim head covering was allegedly pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a “terrorist.” In another, three intoxicated white men reportedly tried to rip the hijab off a young woman riding the subway as they shouted “Donald Trump!” and “Get the hell out of the country!” Yasmin Seweid, 18, who was born in Brooklyn, said she got off the train crying and shaken. “I’m an American, you know?” she said. Days later, an off-duty Muslim cop who was born and raised in New York City was allegedly abused by a man on the street who said to her, “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat.” The Southern Poverty Law Center says there has been a surge in hate crimes since Trump’s election.

12-9-16 Netherlands trial: Geert Wilders guilty of incitement
Netherlands trial: Geert Wilders guilty of incitement
Dutch anti-Islam political leader Geert Wilders has been convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination. But no penalty was imposed by the court near Amsterdam on Wilders, whose party is leading in polls ahead of parliamentary elections in March. Wilders was also acquitted of inciting hate over telling supporters in March 2014 he would ensure there were fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. He called the guilty verdict "madness" in a tweet posted a short time later. He said he would appeal. (Webmaster's comment: Hate is now becoming a world wide epidemic!)

12-9-16 Merkel backs burqa ban
Merkel backs burqa ban
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has become the latest European leader to favor banning the burqa—the full-body, full-face covering worn by some Muslim women. “The full veil is not appropriate here,” Merkel said to cheers this week at a conference of her center-right party. “It should be banned wherever it’s legally possible.” Merkel had previously opposed a ban, saying it would restrict religious freedom. Critics said Merkel, who last month announced that she would run for a fourth term as chancellor in 2017, was cynically pandering to right-wing voters. Merkel’s decision to let 1 million asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, settle in Germany last year has fueled a sharp rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and hurt her popularity.

12-9-16 Pizzagate: When fake news gets real
Pizzagate: When fake news gets real
“Americans just got a glimpse of what it will mean to have a conspiracy theorist–in-chief,” said Olivia Nuzzi in This week, a man opened fire with an AR-15–style assault weapon in the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, who thankfully injured no one, said he was “self-investigating” a popular fake news story known as Pizzagate, which claims that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring from the pizza joint’s basement. There was absolutely no evidence for the story, yet that didn’t stop it from spreading across social media and into Trump’s administration. Before the election, incoming national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn posted a tweet linking Clinton to “sex crimes with children.” Flynn’s son Michael Jr., who has served as his chief aide, recently insisted that until “pizzagate is proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.’’ These are the kind of people who will now run our country?

12-9-16 Life at the gun range
Life at the gun range
Kyle Taylor has witnessed the best and worst of gun culture, said Josh Harkinson in A fan of firearms since he bought his first weapon—a military surplus bolt-action rifle—at age 18, Taylor has worked as a contractor at several gun ranges across California for the past two decades. He was drawn to the “camaraderie” of the scene, he says. “In some ways it’s not just a range so much as a gathering place for a certain type of crotchety old man. You sit there and drink your nasty cup of coffee and trade war stories.” But he has witnessed some dark moments. Suicides became so frequent at one Orange County range that “they started paying a service to come pick up the bodies and scrub everything.” And at least three people practiced there before going on shooting rampages. One asked Taylor to help him load a new gun. “A few months later, I turn on the TV and I see this guy’s face. He’d shot up a ticket counter at LAX.” Over the years, the atmosphere at the gun range has become more aggressive. “I started noticing a difference in the type of people coming when Bill Clinton was president. It was the first time I had actually seen somebody post a picture of the president as a target. Now there’s a company that sells targets with images of Obama.” (Webmaster's comment: This is where the HATERS are taking us!)

12-9-16 Where firing gays is still legal
Where firing gays is still legal
It’s hard to believe, but in much of the U.S., it’s still legal for employers to discriminate against gays and lesbians, said Steve Chapman. To be sure, “America has come a great distance in a short time” regarding gay rights, and now marriage equality is the law of the land. Yet in 28 states, “including Vice President–elect Mike Pence’s Indiana,” you can still lose your livelihood for holding hands with your same-sex partner. Gays aren’t specifically protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” But since that law was passed, public attitudes have changed, and polls find majority support in every state for workplace protections for gays. Last week, a federal appeals court in Chicago heard a lawsuit brought by community college teacher Kimberly Hively, who was fired after she gave her female partner a goodbye kiss in the parking lot. Hively says she should be protected by the Civil Rights Act, and she’s right: If it’s illegal to fire someone because they’re a woman, a Muslim, or black, how can it be legal to fire someone simply because they’re gay? When this injustice is finally corrected, “Americans will wonder why on earth it took so long.”

12-9-16 Fascism
“Fascism” is on track to become Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, after a surge in searches for definitions of the term during the presidential election.

12-9-16 Can’t we have secular education?
Can’t we have secular education?
Irish parents are desperate for an alternative to Catholic school, said Linnea Dunne. Nearly all public schools in Ireland are still run by the Church, and Catholic dogma permeates the curriculum. While parents are allowed to opt their children out of religious education classes, that’s hardly a solution, because the child then feels ostracized. Many non-Catholic children are already estranged from their classmates because they are forced to attend Catholic schools far away from home, without their local friends. That’s because Catholic schools tend to fill up quickly with local churchgoing Catholics, who get preferential admission. Sure, there are a few secular schools, run by the group Educate Together, but just try to get your kid into one. When I called up to register my son, I was told, “He’s got place 432 in the queue” and not the faintest hope of a spot. In the next town over, “parents were queuing overnight for a place in the only Educate Together secondary school within a 30-minute drive.” Any child whose parents can’t do that, or can’t drive them to school—a poor immigrant child, for example—is out of luck. Surely we can do better than an education system that requires families to have “luck and social capital” to succeed?

12-9-16 Only in America
Only in America
An Illinois high school is removing books from reading lists to shield students from “sexual” content. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was the first book to be banned, and some parents are calling for the removal of any work that contains “literal, metaphorical, figurative, or allegorical” allusions to sex. “We can’t have 18-year-olds reading about masturbation,” one parent said. “I don’t care if it’s from Dickens or who else.”

12-9-16 Solitary confinement
Solitary confinement
At least 67,442 inmates in state prisons were in solitary confinement in the fall of 2015—locked in their cells for 22 or more hours a day for 15 or more days, according to a new report. Twenty-nine percent of inmates were placed in solitary for three months or less, but there were roughly 3,000 across the country who had been held in solitary confinement for six years or longer.

12-9-16 More than a match for any bully
More than a match for any bully
Why did Donald Trump throw “a tantrum against China” on Twitter? asked the Global Times in an editorial. After the entire world criticized the U.S. president-elect’s ill-considered phone call with Taiwan’s leader, he sarcastically tweeted that China didn’t ask the U.S. for permission before enacting its own monetary and security policies—as if such permission were necessary. Was he angry that he’d been caught flouting diplomatic precedent? Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 and recognizes that Beijing views the island as a renegade province. Or, less likely, was this some “shrewd step in a well-considered China policy”? For China, the reason doesn’t matter. What’s clear is that “Sino-U.S. ties will witness more troubles” with a Trump-led White House than with “any predecessor.” Trump’s “reckless remarks” show that he is out of his depth. He wants to upend the global economic order, not realizing that the U.S. is “the biggest beneficiary” of that order. Trump thinks he can rewrite trade rules to “pillage other countries,” but we will make sure that “he won’t take advantage of China.” We know that to appease him early on will only embolden him. Trump has “overestimated the power of the U.S.”—and the resolve of China.

12-9-16 Weed linked to Alzheimer’s
Weed linked to Alzheimer’s
Proponents of legalizing marijuana have long argued the drug is safe for recreational use, but new research suggests long-term indulgence may reduce blood flow to the brain and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Using imaging technology that evaluates blood flow and cerebral activity—single photon emission computed tomography—researchers studied the brains of about 1,000 current or former marijuana smokers and those of 100 people who never touched the drug. They discovered that weed users had less blood flow to nearly every part of their brains. The effect was most pronounced in the hippocampus—the area responsible for learning and memory and the first affected by Alzheimer’s. “Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function,” study author Daniel Amen tells “The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug. This research directly challenges that notion.”

12-8-16 First US Somali lawmaker gets 'Islamophobic threats' in taxi
First US Somali lawmaker gets 'Islamophobic threats' in taxi
The first Somali-American lawmaker in the US has said she was subjected to "hateful" anti-Muslim threats from a taxi driver in Washington DC. Minnesota Representative-elect Ilhan Omar said the cabbie threatened to remove her hijab during a confrontation on Tuesday. The 34-year-old said the incident occurred just after she attended policy training at the White House. Ms Omar, a Democrat, came to the US as a child from a refugee camp in Kenya. She made history and national headlines last month when she defeated a Republican to gain a seat in Minnesota's state house of representatives. "On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced," she wrote in a post on social media. "The cabdriver called me ISIS [so-called Islamic State] and threatened to remove my hijab, I really wasn't sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongings. "I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold being (sic) are becoming in displaying their hate toward Muslims. (Webmaster's comment: Our new FUHRER has empowered hatred and he isn't even in office yet! Brace yourself. This is only the beginning! Expect to see full out public physical assaults on Muslims, Women, LGBTs, Hispanics and anyone else his HATERS have chosen to target.)

12-8-16 US life expectancy declines for first time in 20 years
US life expectancy declines for first time in 20 years
Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in more than two decades. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed a drop for men from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015, and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women. The preliminary figures show rises in several causes of death, especially heart disease, dementia and accidental infant deaths. Life expectancy last fell during the peak of the HIV/Aids crisis in 1993. It has improved slightly but steadily in most of the years since World War Two, rising from a little more than 68 years in 1950. It also fell in 1980, after a severe outbreak of flu.

12-8-16 Malta's paradox: A beacon of gay rights that bans abortion
Malta's paradox: A beacon of gay rights that bans abortion
The last five years have seen sweeping changes in laws governing social and sexual rights in Malta. In 2011, it was one of the last two countries in the world where divorce was illegal. On Tuesday, it became the first European country to ban "gay conversion therapy", eliciting cheers from LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) campaigners as well as psychologists. In recent years, the staunchly Catholic country has:

  • Legalised divorce
  • Granted rights equivalent to marriage to homosexual couples, including the possibility to adopt children, and become one of only five countries to accord LGBT people equal rights at constitutional level
  • Passed the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC Bill), banning invasive "normalising" surgery on intersex people, outlawing their sterilisation and allowing people to self-determine their own gender in law without medical examination
  • Been named the best European country for LGBT rights by advocacy group ILGA-Europe

And yet Malta is now the only EU country where abortion is banned outright.

12-7-16 Super-you: You have a superstitious mind – to protect you
Super-you: You have a superstitious mind – to protect you
Think you’re an atheist? Heaven forfend! Your default is to believe in the supernatural, and there is no manual override.

12-7-16 Super-you: Use your better instincts to crush your inner bigot
Super-you: Use your better instincts to crush your inner bigot
We are wired to be prejudiced and a bit racist - but our instinct for collaboration can trump our worst instincts.

12-7-16 Australian court approves intersex child's surgery
Australian court approves intersex child's surgery
A five-year-old Australian child born genetically male will grow up as a sterilised female after a court agreed to her having surgery. The child, known only as Carla, identifies as a girl but has no female reproductive organs, Family Court documents show. The court approved a request by Carla's parents to surgically remove male gonads inside her body. People with a combination of sex characteristics are called intersex.

  • 'Stereotypically female' behaviour
  • What is intersex?
  • 'At 12 I grew a beard and had a period'
  • Campaigners question surgery

Some terms used to discuss gender identity

  • Intersex: Applies to a person with a combination of sex characteristics - chromosomes, genitals or reproductive organs - neither solely male nor female.
  • Non-binary: Applies to a person who does not identify as "male" or "female".
  • Genderqueer: Similar to non-binary, sometimes shortened to "queer", an ambiguous word that can also be used to describe a person's sexual orientation, eg lesbian, gay or bisexual.
  • Transgender: Applies to a person whose gender is different from their "assigned" sex at birth, often shortened to "trans".

12-7-16 Fake news shapes our opinions even when we know it’s not true
Fake news shapes our opinions even when we know it’s not true
You might think you’re immune to post-fact politics and fake news, but you’re more susceptible than you think – especially if you hear something more than once. Fake it till you make it. That old adage has never been so poignant in a year that has seen a surge in fake news. The rise in stories describing events that never happened, often involving fake people in fake places, has led Facebook and Google promising to tackle them. But are we really so gullible? According to several studies, the answer is yes: even the most obvious fake news starts to become believable if it’s shared enough times. In the months running up to the US election there was a surge in fake news. According to an analysis by Craig Silverman, a journalist, during this time the top 20 fake stories in circulation overtook the top 20 stories from 19 mainstream publishers. Paul Horner, a prolific publisher of fake news, has said he believes Donald Trump was elected because of him. “My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time… His followers don’t fact-check anything – they’ll post everything, believe anything,” he told the Washington Post. Silverman previously tracked rumours circulating online in 2014 and found that shares and social interactions around fake news articles dwarfed those of the articles that debunked them. According to Silverman, fake news stories are engineered to appeal to people’s hopes and fears, and aren’t constrained by reality, which gives them the edge in creating shareable content. (Webmaster's comment: People who believe fake news are very ignorant and very dangerous people because they act on those lies.)

12-7-16 America has not entered a new era of rabid racism... yet
America has not entered a new era of rabid racism... yet
wasn't just frustration or sour grapes. When former Hillary Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri exasperatedly said last week that "if providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost," she was voicing a widely shared concern that Donald Trump has fueled the resurgence of racism as a mainstream force in American politics. And it's true, in a sense. There has been a marked and worrying increase in the number of racists creeping out of the shadows and into public life. But for all the ink spilled on the "alt-right," they remain a marginal, largely anonymous group. Advocacy of a white ethnostate is a fringe position even among Americans who could fairly be described as racist. Sure, former KKK leader David Duke, America's most famous racist, has used Trump to get his name back in the headlines. But a closer look at Duke's Louisiana Senate election results actually argues against the racism revival narrative. Duke won 3.4 percent of the vote, even as Trump carried the state with over 58 percent. In the early 1990s, Duke made it to runoffs for senator and governor, winning around 40 percent of the total vote and a majority of whites both times. Most Trump supporters aren't racist. Instead, they understand themselves to be practicing a race-neutral civic nationalism, as does the president-elect himself. "We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms," Trump said at the opening of his Rust Belt victory tour. But many white American civic nationalists do feel besieged by attacks on Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, the refusal of prominent athletes to salute the flag over racially charged issues, and the idea that their patriotism is at least implicitly white nationalist.

12-6-16 Robotic hand exoskeleton lets quadriplegic people use cutlery
Robotic hand exoskeleton lets quadriplegic people use cutlery
A surgery-free system turns brain signals into movement to let people with paralysis eat with a knife and fork or sign their name. Robotics lends a helping hand. Using a brain-controlled exoskeleton, six paralysed people regained the ability to do everyday tasks such as using cutlery or signing documents. The system required no surgery and is mobile enough to use outside a laboratory. “The patients were amazed by what they could do with the system,” says Surjo Soekadar from the University Hospital of Tübingen, Germany. “Previously, they couldn’t have a meal with a knife and fork, so changing that was amazing for them.” The exoskeleton is controlled by a brain-machine interface worn on the head. This cap measures brain activity to understand how a user wants to move their hand. A robotic exoskeleton that wraps around the arm and hand then converts this into mechanical movement. The people trying out the system took 8 to 10 minutes to get accustomed to it before being able to make movements like writing their signature. “Normally, systems like this have around 90 per cent accuracy. That might sound good, but in principle it means that, one time out of ten, a patient could drop a cup of coffee on themselves,” says Soekadar. (Webmaster's comment: We are beginning to read human minds. How far can we go in the next 20 years?)

12-6-16 Pisa tests: Singapore top in global education rankings
Pisa tests: Singapore top in global education rankings
Singapore has the highest achieving students in international education rankings, with its teenagers coming top in tests in maths, reading and science. The influential Pisa rankings, run by the OECD, are based on tests taken by 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries. The UK remains a middle-ranking performer - behind countries such as Japan, Estonia, Finland and Vietnam. OECD education director Andreas Schleicher said Singapore was "not only doing well, but getting further ahead". (Webmaster's comment: United States isn't even in the top twenty anymore. We're becoming a nation of arrogant, uneducated losers!)

12-6-16 Angela Merkel endorses burka ban 'wherever legally possible'
Angela Merkel endorses burka ban 'wherever legally possible'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the wearing of full-faced veils should be prohibited in the country "wherever it is legally possible". At a meeting of her CDU party, she backed a burka ban in schools, courts and other state buildings. It is widely accepted that a total ban would violate Germany's constitution. Mrs Merkel was re-elected CDU leader but faces a tough challenge by the right-wing anti-immigration AfD party in next year's polls. She has seen her approval ratings slip since her decision to allow about a million asylum seekers into Germany during last year's Europe-wide migrant crisis. However the centre-right chancellor, who has been power since 2005, still retains wide support.

12-6-16 100 Women 2016: Christine and the Queens on being pansexual
100 Women 2016: Christine and the Queens on being pansexual
French singer-songwriter Heloise Letissier, aka Christine and the Queens, talks to the BBC's 100 Women season about pansexuality and gender.

12-6-16 Hong Kong rainbow lions spark LGBT rights debate
Hong Kong rainbow lions spark LGBT rights debate
One of Hong Kong's icons - a pair of lions guarding the HSBC building - has been given a rainbow-coloured makeover. Replicas of the two lions have been painted as part of the bank's "Celebrate Pride, Celebrate Unity" campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. It's a sight that might not be considered controversial in many cities - but in Hong Kong it has reignited debate about gay rights and whether corporations should get involved. Many people have expressed support for the campaign - and have been posing for selfies with the lions. But it has also angered several campaign groups, who have started a petition against the lions. Organisers say more than 4,500 people have signed the petition. Although Hong Kong is an international city, it is divided when it comes to social issues like LGBT rights.

12-6-16 The Vietnamese women who fought for their country
The Vietnamese women who fought for their country
Photographer Lee Karen Stow recently visited Vietnam to meet some of the women who fought for their country in the conflict with the USA, having earlier met US veterans in Washington. President Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader of North Vietnam at that time, made it clear that women were expected to mobilise and fight to unify their country. Many enlisted into the Vietnamese People's Army and took up roles in frontline nursing and combat while those who joined the Viet Cong worked behind enemy lines in South Vietnam, on sabotage missions and underground in tunnels. Stow's pictures capture both the military heroines and bereaved mothers created during the Vietnam War.

12-5-16 This transgender bodybuilder is crushing barriers in Vietnam
This transgender bodybuilder is crushing barriers in Vietnam
's Sunday morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Blistering heat is vaporizing last night's downpour on the streets of District 7, an upscale area southeast of the city center and popular with expats. Under the unforgiving lights of a gym so polished it looks barely used, Kendy rehearses the poses that he hopes will win him gold at Vietnam's national bodybuilding competition. The 27-year-old bodybuilder and personal trainer turns to his side, lifting his front heel, and flexes his calf muscles. He inflates his chest and curls his arm, stretching the tree of life tattoo imprinted on his deltoid six months ago. The latest inked addition, a Polynesian turtle on the back of his hand, is three months old; "It means family," he explains. Turning away from his reflection, he squeezes his shoulder blades together and then swivels around, smiling back into the mirror. Concluding the routine, he pulls up his vest, flashing a washboard stomach, though he stops at the pecs. They'll remain covered during the upcoming competition, too, but by a bikini top, since he will be part of the women's division. "I feel confident about the competition," Kendy says through a translator. "I have to be confident. If I meet a strong opponent, I may lose, but what matters is that I see myself as a winner."

12-5-16 Why Donald Trump can't stop criminal justice reform
Why Donald Trump can't stop criminal justice reform
Remember: Ours is a federalist system. Is criminal justice reform doomed by a Trump presidency? Many progressives and civil libertarians are in a panic that it might be. With the rise of Donald Trump, many on the right may abandon their "recent embrace of criminal justice reform," writes Steven M. Teles at the libertarian Cato Institute. "Trump's campaign rhetoric on crime reads as if he is still in the New York of the late 1980s." Indeed, back in March, ThinkProgress ran through a litany of Trump's comments on crime and punishment (including "lethal injection is too comfortable a way to go"), leaving unspoken the clear conclusion that he would be no friend to reformers. Writing at New York, Ed Kilgore was blunter: Thanks to Trump's win, "a painfully constructed bipartisan and cross-ideological movement to 'de-incarcerate' many people (disproportionately African-American and Latinos, of course) tossed into prisons as a result of the mandatory minimum sentences, which spread like wildfire in the 1980s and 1990s, could soon completely fall apart." Kilgore also declared that the president-elect's selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general means criminal justice reform "is dead."

12-4-16 You’ve probably been tricked by fake news and don’t know it
You’ve probably been tricked by fake news and don’t know it
Your brain is easily manipulated by fake news, because even facts you know are false can stick in memory as true. If you spent Thanksgiving trying in vain to convince relatives that the Pope didn’t really endorse Donald Trump or that Hillary Clinton didn’t sell weapons to ISIS, fake news has already weaseled its way into your brain. Those “stories” and other falsified news outperformed much of the real news on Facebook before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And on Twitter, an analysis by University of Southern California computer scientists found that nearly 20 percent of election-related tweets came from bots, computer programs posing as real people and often spouting biased or fake news. If you care about science, that’s a big problem. As daily news moves past the election, the fake news machine isn’t likely to shut down; it will just look for new kinds of attention-grabbing headlines. Fake news about climate change, vaccines and other hot-button science topics has already proven to get clicks. And if you think only people on the opposite side of the political fence from you will fall for lies, think again. We all do it. Plenty of research shows that people are more likely to believe news if it confirms their preexisting political views, says cognitive scientist David Rapp of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. More surprising, though, are Rapp’s latest studies along with others on learning and memory. They show that when we read inaccurate information, we often remember it later as being true, even if we initially knew it was wrong. That misinformation can then bias us or affect our decisions.(Webmaster's comment: You must select reliable sources for your news. My websites use New Scientist, Science News, National Geographic, Discover, the BBC, The Week, and Mother Jones for news. They are 100% reliable in their reporting. No Lies! No Fake News! And opinions are clearly labled as such.)

12-4-16 Canadian reporter Ed Ou barred from entering US
Canadian reporter Ed Ou barred from entering US
A Canadian reporter was barred from entering the US. Is this the beginning of the end of press freedom? Ed Ou is used to crossing borders. The award-winning Canadian photojournalist has spent the past decade travelling to the kinds of places where being in the media can be a hazard to your health: Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt and Turkey, to name a few. So when he booked a flight in October to the US from Canada to cover the Standing Rock pipeline protests in North Dakota for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, he was relieved to be somewhere with press freedoms. "In my mind I had nothing to hide. [America] is actually one of the few places in the world where you can just say you're a journalist," he told the BBC. But when he told US border officials at the Vancouver airport he was travelling to North Dakota to cover Standing Rock, he says they pulled him aside and proceeded to interrogate him for six hours. When he refused to unlock his mobile on the grounds that it contained confidential information about sources, they forcibly took his Sim cards and made copies of his reporter's notebook and personal diary. Then they barred him from entering the US.

12-2-16 Feeling the spirit
Feeling the spirit
Feeling the spirit, after scientists at the University of Utah discovered that engaging in prayer has the same effect on religious people’s brains as having sex. “We’re just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine, or transcendent,” said lead researcher Jeffrey Anderson.

12-2-16 Burqa ban
Burqa ban
The Dutch House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to ban the burqa in certain public places, including schools, hospitals, and public transportation. The new law, which is expected to be approved by the Dutch Senate, outlaws all face coverings, including ski masks and motorbike helmets. The centrist government said the ban was essential for security. Those caught flouting the law would be fined $430. Very few Muslim women in the Netherlands wear the burqa—the full-body, full-face Islamic coverall—but the ban has been a major demand of the far-right Freedom Party. Party founder Geert Wilders says that if his party wins elections next March, it will extend the ban to include public streets as well. France and Belgium have completely banned the wearing of face veils in public.

12-2-16 College professors holding radical views
College professors holding radical views
A conservative organization has compiled a watch list of 200 college professors it claims hold “radical” liberal beliefs. The Professor Watchlist, created by Turning Point USA, identifies one faculty member as a “prominent Marxist economist,” and another as a leader of anti–campus carry efforts. The site encourages students to send in tips about professors advancing “leftist propaganda.”

12-1-16 In Castro's Cuba, this is what life as a doctor was really like
In Castro's Cuba, this is what life as a doctor was really like
Amid Fidel Castro's funeral and furious debate over his legacy, Cuba's health system is often praised. Despite its flaws, it deserves it, says Rich Warner. Pundits have been debating the merits (or not) of Fidel Castro’s legacy amid his funeral and procession of his ashes to the birthplace of the Cuban revolution. The country’s health service is often said to be one of El Comandante’s greatest achievements. But how great is the system really? As someone who trained as a doctor in Cuba, I can provide an insider’s view. The Cuban health system, born out of its revolutionary socialist ideology, regards accessibility to healthcare as a fundamental right of its citizens. It focuses heavily on preventative medicine and on offering services ranging from the simplest check-up to the most complex surgery for free. Dental care, medicine and even home visits from doctors are all covered by the system. The Caribbean island has the health statistics to support this seemingly impeccable system: an infant mortality rate of 4.2 per thousand births (compared with 3.5 per thousand in the UK and 6.9 in the US), life expectancy of 77 years for men and 81 years for women (on a par with the UK’s life expectancy of 79 years for men and 83 years for women) and a doctor-to-patient ratio of one to 150, which surpasses many developed nations (the UK ratio is 2.8 doctors per 1000 patients). It is no surprise, therefore, that the secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, hailed Cuba’s health service as “a model for many countries“.

82 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for December 2016

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for November 2016