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

71 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for February 2017
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source

2-28-17 US Confederate flag pair jailed over threats to Georgia black family
US Confederate flag pair jailed over threats to Georgia black family
Two people found guilty of threatening a black family at a child's birthday party in the US state of Georgia have received lengthy prison sentences. Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, both wept as the Douglas County judge handed down sentencing on Monday. They will serve 13 years and six years in prison respectively, local media report. Superior Court Judge William McClain said the two were "motivated by racial hatred". They are part of a group of at least 15 people charged over the incident in which cars were driven along the street flying the Confederate battle flag in Douglasville, west of Atlanta, in July 2015. The crime occurred shortly after a mass shooting inside an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist gunman. Photos emerged after the Charleston shooting of the killer, Dylann Roof, holding the Confederate flag and a handgun. (Webmaster's comment: GOOD!)

2-26-17 Witches cast 'mass spell' against Donald Trump
Witches cast 'mass spell' against Donald Trump
Most of Donald Trump's opponents believe they will have to wait four more years to see him leave the White House. But America's witches are more optimistic. At the stroke of midnight on Friday, followers of witchcraft across the US performed a mass spell designed to remove the president from office. A Facebook group devoted to the ritual has attracted over 10,500 likes, and coined the hashtag #magicresistance. The development has sparked fury among Christian conservatives, who have accused the witches of "declaring spiritual war". Writer Michael Hughes, who describes himself as a "magical thinker" posted a version of the spell online, saying he had seen multiple versions on private witchcraft groups. In it, he suggests using a stubby orange candle, an unflattering picture of Mr Trump, and a Tower tarot card.Followers of magic are told to carve the president's name into the candle using a pin, recite an incantation, and then burn his picture in the flame. The words of the spell include a plea to the Wiccan deities to "bind Donald J Trump, so that his malignant works may fail utterly" and so that he "shall not break our polity, usurp our liberty, or fill our minds with hate, confusion, fear, or despair". Mr Trump's supporters don't escape either, as the spell asks that their "malicious tongues" be curbed too. Mr Hughes suggests that instead of the normal closing line, "So mote it be!", witches could burn the former Apprentice host's image with the words, "You're fired!" (Webmaster's comment: Hey, you gotta have fun with it!)

2-25-17 White House briefing bar: Media groups condemn exclusion
White House briefing bar: Media groups condemn exclusion
White House correspondents' body "protests strongly" as BBC, CNN and others excluded. Media groups have reacted angrily after several, including the BBC, were barred from an informal briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The excluded New York Times said the move was "an unmistakable insult to democratic ideals". The bar came hours after President Donald Trump delivered another attack on the media, saying that "fake news" was the "enemy of the people". The BBC has asked the White House to clarify its exclusion. BBC bureau chief in Washington, Paul Danahar, said: "We understand that there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool. However, what happened today did not fit into that pattern." He added: "Our reporting will remain fair and impartial, regardless." (Webmaster's comment: Just like in Hitler's Germany press censorship has begun!)

2-25-17 America's secret and forgotten wars
America's secret and forgotten wars
President Trump inherited several undeclared wars around the world. Will he change U.S. policy? Here's everything you need to know: Where is the U.S. currently fighting? President Trump is now overseeing several ongoing combat operations that began during previous administrations. Some 8,400 U.S. troops are still deployed in Afghanistan, the longest-running war in U.S. history, to train and assist Afghan troops in fighting the Taliban. About 5,000 troops are assisting the Iraqi army against ISIS, while another 500 Special Forces fighters are leading the battle against ISIS in Syria. In Yemen, the U.S. has been targeting al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and helping Saudi Arabia fight a proxy war against Iranian-backed rebels. In Libya, the Pentagon sent two B-2 bombers to take out suspected ISIS camps just a day before Trump's inauguration. In addition to those combat theaters, the U.S. has bases scattered around the globe, including in South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Spain. So far, the Trump administration has given mixed signals about whether it plans to escalate existing conflicts, and about who is setting policy. "Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil," Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the military's Special Operations Command, said last week. "I hope they sort it out soon, because we're a nation at war." (Webmaster's comment: Where will he nuke first? That would fit in his tough boss, you're fired image! Millions of innocents dead? The cost of living in a bad country! You and your wives and children should have changed it!)

  • Where is the U.S. currently fighting?
  • What's happening in Yemen?
  • What about ISIS?
  • What about North Korea?
  • The impact of the travel ban on allies

2-24-17 Trump repeats call for US nuclear supremacy
Trump repeats call for US nuclear supremacy
President Donald Trump has said he wants the United States to expand its nuclear arsenal, in his first comments on the issue since taking office. Mr Trump said it would be "wonderful" if no nation had nuclear arms, but otherwise the US must be "top of the pack". He told Reuter that the US had "fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity". Critics say the US and Russia already have more weapons than necessary to deter a nuclear attack. The US has 6,800 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,000, according to the US nonpartisan Arms Control Association.Speaking to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview, Mr Trump said: "I am the first one that would like to see everybody - nobody have nukes, but we're never going to fall behind any country even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power." "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack." (Webmaster's comment: Yes, let's have a new cold war. Then maybe we can even have a hot one!)

2-24-17 The return of the Whig Party
The return of the Whig Party
“History doesn’t repeat itself,” said Jeff Jacoby. “But it has an unnerving tendency to rhyme.” As President Trump turns Washington on its head, it’s a good time to look back on another divisive chief executive from New York: Millard Fillmore. When Fillmore became our 13th president upon Zachary Taylor’s death in 1850, he immediately plunged the nation into turmoil. Fillmore was hostile toward immigrants and free trade, supported slavery, and was drawn to conspiracy theories. His first act was to fire every member of Taylor’s Cabinet, “which he resented for having ignored him when he was vice president.” Fillmore vigorously enforced the repugnant Fugitive Slave Act, allowing escaped slaves to be hunted down like animals. He also “denounced Northern communities that vowed to resist the law,” and even charged “41 Americans with treason for refusing to join a slave-catching posse.” After Fillmore lost the 1852 election in a landslide, his fractured Whig Party collapsed. In 1856 Fillmore ran for president on the nativist Know-Nothing ticket, with the slogan “Americans must rule America.” Today, Fillmore is deservedly “lost in obscurity.” But his politics have made a comeback. (Webmaster's comment: Been there, done this!)

2-24-17 Wave of anti-Semitic incidents
Wave of anti-Semitic incidents
Albuquerque; Birmingham, Ala.; Buffalo; Chicago; Cleveland; Houston; Milwaukee; Nashville; St. Paul, Minn.; Tampa: President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism as “horrible” this week amid mounting pressure to speak out on the issue, following a number of bomb threats against Jewish community centers nationwide and an attack at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri. More than 170 Jewish graves were found toppled at the historic St. Louis–area cemetery over the weekend. Days later, at least 10 Jewish community centers in cities such as Albuquerque, Chicago, and Houston received bomb threats. After several Jewish organizations accused the Trump administration of failing to distance itself from the anti-Semitic rhetoric of some of its supporters, the president said anti-Semitism was “horrible, and it’s going to stop.” The Anne Frank Center said Trump’s remarks were “too little, too late.” (Webmaster's comment: What's amazing he had to be pressured to speak and worst he said nothing about about the rising anti-Muslim hate crimes!)

2-24-17 Trump to revoke transgender protections
Trump to revoke transgender protections
The Trump administration was preparing this week to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender students, according to a draft letter seen by The Washington Post. In the letter, administration officials say they are withdrawing an Obama administration directive that requires the nation’s public schools to let children use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities—a right protected under federal Title IX rules, according to the directive. “This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation,” states the letter. White House press secretary Sean Spicer added that President Trump believes transgender protections are “a states’ rights issue.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opposed the letter, said the Post, but was overruled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Webmaster's comment: The hatred for anyone different is alive and well in America!)

2-23-17 Jewish centres respond to 'disruption and anxiety'
Jewish centres respond to 'disruption and anxiety'
On 9 January, Ora Cohen Rosenfeld began her day just like any other at the Bender Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in Rockville, Maryland. As the director of the early childhood centre, every morning she visits the classrooms to greet the roughly 200 pre-school children attending. But just before noon, a mysterious call from an unknown number came to the front desk. She quickly learned that she and her teachers would not be able to proceed with their normal schedule. The caller to the Rockville centre warned a bomb was going to explode imminently, before hanging up. The Bender JCC is one of the 68 centres in 26 US states and one Canadian province that have received bomb threats since the beginning of January. Despite the cold and windy weather, all of the pre-schoolers and educators had to immediately evacuate. "The children thought that they had gone on a field trip," she said. "They just lined up like they always line up and we walked across the street." (Webmaster's comment: In America the hatred of all Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, Japanese, Chinese, Immigrants, LGBTs, all other non-whites, all non-Christians, and even women is as strong as it was 80 years ago and growing stronger! We are becoming a more intolerant people! Whatever happened to the ideals of freedom and liberty for all human beings in America!)

2-23-17 Minister to enshrine protection for research independence
Minister to enshrine protection for research independence
Ministers will enshrine into law the idea that there should be no political interference in research funding. The concept, known as the Haldane Principle, has been a guiding precept for science spending but never a requirement until now. The move follows concerns that a proposed shake-up would lead to the centralised funding of research. Parliament is considering new laws that would see the formation of a new body to oversee spending on science. The Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said that the changes to the Higher Education and Research Bill he was proposing would guarantee the independence of scientific research. The government is committed to the Haldane Principle. "The amendments announced today demonstrate the government's commitment to the Haldane Principle and decisions on individual proposals should be reviewed and made by experts in their fields." (Webmaster's comment: We need this in America. Get Politics out of our Science Decision Making Process!)

2-23-17 How to live a happy life, according to science
How to live a happy life, according to science
metimes just being happy is hard enough. Figuring out how to have a happy life can seem downright overwhelming. In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman (the Big Kahuna of happiness research) says that there are four types of happy lives. That's right — not only do we have a blueprint for what makes a happy life, you even get four choices. That doesn't mean they're all created equal. As you move down the list, the lives get better — but more challenging. The first three all have big strengths — and big weaknesses. And then there's No. 4 (music swells): The Full Life. It's got it all — but, of course, it's the trickiest to achieve. Ready for a happy life that works for you? Let's break the four down, see which blueprint suits your needs, and find out what life is like for the happiest people on the planet.

Here are the different happy lives:

  • Happy Life No. 1: "The Pleasant Life" PLEASURE GOOD. PAIN BAD. Schedule more fun.
  • Happy Life No. 2: "The Good Life" Do what you're good at and go as far down that rabbit hole of "flow" as you can, Alice.
  • Happy Life No. 3: "The Meaningful Life" The Good Life + helps others.
  • Happy Life No. 4: "The Full Life" Enjoy the pleasures of life, leverage your skills, seek flow, and use it to help people.

2-23-17 Trump rescinds transgender bathroom rules from Obama era
Trump rescinds transgender bathroom rules from Obama era
Donald Trump's government has revoked guidance to US public schools that allowed transgender students to use toilets matching their gender identity. The guidance, issued by his predecessor Barack Obama, had been hailed by as a victory for transgender rights. But critics said it threatened other students' privacy and safety, and should be decided at state level. Mr Obama's directive had sparked a backlash across the country, with legal challenges from 13 states. The latest change will have no immediate impact, because Mr Obama's directive has already been temporarily blocked by a judge in Texas since August. (Webmaster's comment: The real purpose behind forcing Transgenders to go to the bathrooms of their birth identities is so that hate filled straights can easily identify them and harass and even assault them. There is no tolerance for any human differences in these hate filled people.)

2-21-17 Trump condemns 'horrible' anti-Semitism
Trump condemns 'horrible' anti-Semitism
US President Donald Trump has condemned dozens of violent threats made against US Jewish community centres in the past few weeks. "We have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms," he said while visiting an African-American museum in Washington. "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centres are horrible and painful", he said. The FBI opened an investigation on Monday following more threats. (Webmaster's comment: And what about your anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies Mr. Trump?)

2-20-17 America's extremist battle: antifa v alt-right
America's extremist battle: antifa v alt-right
In a divided America, two groups at the extreme ends of the political spectrum are doing battle online, and on the streets. The alt-right - a disparate group of pro-Donald Trump provocateurs who critics say are bigoted white nationalists - has a reputation for trolling and online bullying. Now some believe they may have met their match in the form of a group of left-wing anarchists whose tactics are arguably more extreme. They're called "antifa", short for "anti-fascist". The movement has its roots in 1930s Europe, but has had a low profile for much of the intervening period. Now the recent surge in nationalist movements across the globe has given it a new enemy to fight. Antifa activists say they are committed to fighting fascism and racism in all its forms. Some aren't averse to violence, and the movement wasted little time in making its presence felt. Protests held during Donald Trump's inauguration turned violent. Restaurant windows were smashed, a car was set on fire and objects were thrown at the police. More than 200 arrests were made. (Webmaster's comment: Violence will only empower the alt-right cause. Stand your ground but don't use violence. It only makes you seem the same as them.)

2-20-17 Tanzania threat to list gay people
Tanzania threat to list gay people
The threat to publish the names of suspected homosexuals in Tanzania has been defended by the deputy health minister in a fierce row on Twitter. Homosexual acts are illegal in the East African nation and punishable by up to 30 years in jail. Those who advertised homosexual activities online would also be targeted, the politician warned. Tweeters accused him of homophobia and infringing on the right to freedom of expression online. But Hamisi Kigwangalla argued that homosexuality did not scientifically exist and was a social construct. In a tweet written in Swahili and English he said: "Have you ever come across a gay goat or bird? Homosexuality is not biological, it is unnatural." The 42-year-old, who is a medical doctor by profession, argued that homosexuality could only be associated with an urban lifestyle. He said that in the small town in central Tanzania where he came from, there were no homosexuals.

2-20-17 AAAS chief puts weight behind protest march
AAAS chief puts weight behind protest march
The head of the world's largest scientific membership organisation has given his backing for a planned protest by researchers in Washington DC. Rush Holt, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), said that people were "standing up for science". His remarks reflect growing concern among researchers that science is disregarded by President Trump. Scientists across the US plan to march in DC on 22 April. "I've never seen anything like it in my entire career," the former Democratic congressman told BBC News. "To see young scientists, older scientists, the general public speaking up for the idea of science. We are going to work with our members and affiliated organisations to see that this march for science is a success." Mr Holt made his comments at the AAAS annual meting in Boston as President Trump appointed a fierce critic of the Environmental Protection Agency as its head. Scott Pruitt has spent years fighting the role and reach of the EPA. Campaigners accuse him of being too close to the oil and gas industry, and allege that he is "lukewarm" on the threat posed by climate change. Rush Holt says that the concern among US scientists has gone well beyond the usual uncertainty that comes with a change in the Oval Office. "It is partly because of the previous statements of the president and his appointees on issues such as climate change and vaccination for children which have not been in keeping with good science," the AAAS CEO told BBC News. "But mostly by what we have seen since the new administration has come in, is silence about science. Very few appointments to positions are filled by people who understand science, very few comments about the importance of science; there is no science advisor in the White House now and we don't know whether there will be one.

2-19-17 US scientists voice fears over how science will fare under Trump
US scientists voice fears over how science will fare under Trump
Concerns over the impact of President Trump’s policies on science have been raised at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. Anxiety has been running high at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, as scientists and policy-makers have been discussing the implications of President Trump’s policies for science. Hundreds of people also gathered in Copley Square in the city centre just down the road from the conference for a protest rally. The rally was organized by two science activist groups called and The Natural History Museum, and endorsed by more than a dozen national and regional scientific organizations. The event drew attendees from AAAS as well as students from Boston universities and non-scientists from the area who chanted “Stand up for science”. At the conference itself, a session on Saturday entitled “Defending Science and Scientific Integrity in the Age of Trump” was so well attended that many were forced to stand, or to sit in the aisles. The hour was dedicated to discussions of what’s to come for scientists in America under the new White House leadership. The high-spirited talk swung from an optimistic view of a newly energised and vocal scientific community, to gloomy predictions of how science will fare under the Trump administration. Gretchen Goldman of the Union of Concerned Scientists said scientists in America should take lessons from the past, like the side-lining of science under the George W. Bush administration, and warned of a difficult path ahead. “We know the playbook, but this is a different sport. We’ve seen that President Trump isn’t going to respect scientists,” said Goldman. (Webmaster's comment: Trump's power lies in appealing to the brutes in our society so scientists need not apply.)

2-19-17 The way we teach sex-ed is old and ineffective. Here's how to fix it.
The way we teach sex-ed is old and ineffective. Here's how to fix it.
In a predictable bit of news, the results of a study released this past September show that students consider most sex-education programs to be out-of-touch, outdated, and lacking in the information that might actually prove useful to them. Among the deficiencies reported by teenagers were a focus on fear-based lesson plans, curricula that alienate LGBTQ+ students, instructors untrained in actually providing useful sex-ed, and a failure to acknowledge that some young people are — spoiler alert — sexually active. When it comes down to it, though, these inadequacies do not stem from lack of trying on the part of certified sexuality educators. There are disparities in curricula, and in resources: Federal funding for sex-education flows to both abstinence-only and evidence-based approaches, and decisions about curricula are made on a state-by-state — and district-by-district — basis. There are still only 13 states that require sex-education to be "medically accurate." In fact, in the past year, 23 bills were introduced with the intention of restricting the quality of sex-ed. Such restrictions included moves to limit access to information about reproductive health options, and to exclude qualified sexuality educators from schools based upon their affiliation with abortion providers. While the majority of these bills failed to advance, in many cases, educators continue to be hamstrung by red tape. And they worry that — in the wake of the most recent presidential election — their jobs will only become more difficult. What is an enterprising, conscientious sex-educator to do?

2-18-17 'Enemies of the people': Trump remark echoes history's worst tyrants
'Enemies of the people': Trump remark echoes history's worst tyrants
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence. Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death. Now the chilling phrase - which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus", enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 - is making something of a comeback. In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process. Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile. "The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter. The reaction was swift. "Every president is irritated by the news media. No other president would have described the media as 'the enemy of the people'", tweeted David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. Gabriel Sherman, national affairs editor at New York magazine, called the phrase a "chilling" example of "full-on dictator speak". Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists. The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators. (Webmaster's comment: The real enemy of the people is sitting in the Oval Office!)

2-18-17 Why we should be teaching our kids 'religious literacy'
Why we should be teaching our kids 'religious literacy'
Without it, our great multicultural experiment could descend into tribal warfare. By walking down the street of any major city, you are likely to see more diversity than an 18th-century explorer did in a lifetime. People with very different ideas of how society should function must live together, and there is no idea more divisive than that of religion. Many of the most important moral disagreements break out along religious lines. Indeed, differing religious views on freedom, sexuality, and justice threaten social cohesion. That must not be allowed to happen. One crucial way that people can best learn to live with one another is by increasing their religious literacy. In 1945, the British author C S Lewis said that one will gain greater insight into other belief systems by stepping inside and looking "along" them, rather than looking "at" them from the outside. He explained this by analogy. Think of the difference in the experience of looking at a beam of light through a window, in comparison with the experience of looking along it. It is from within that we can test a system's internal consistency and its ability to form and inform the believer. The idea is to see religion not merely as a set of propositions held in the head, but, in the words of the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, as a "lived experience." (Webmaster's comment: The same applies including Atheism as a "religion.")

2-17-17 Cutting regulations
Cutting regulations
The Trump administration is overseeing one of the biggest regulatory rollbacks ever, according to a Washington Post investigation—using legislative and executive methods to dismantle rules governing how dentists dispose of mercury fillings, how schools look after disabled students, and more. GOP lawmakers have aided President Trump by using the 1996 Congressional Review Act to nullify eight different regulations that were enacted in the past 60 days, and are considering another measure that would weaken environmental regulations on mining companies. Trump has also signed an executive order freezing new regulations for 60 days and has ordered agencies to eliminate or weaken two existing regulations for each new rule they enact.

2-17-17 Only In America
Only In America
Tennessee lawmakers have proposed making it legal for drivers to run over protesters who block public streets. The Republican-sponsored legislation would protect motorists from civil liability if a protester were injured, provided the driver exercised “due care.” The bill comes 10 days after a car ran into people at a Nashville protest against President Trump’s travel ban. Similar driving laws have been proposed in five other states.

2-17-17 The biggest threat to American lives
The biggest threat to American lives
In his all-cap tweets, President Trump is insisting that the biggest threat Americans face is Muslim immigrants, said Nicholas Kristof. But since 1975, “terrorists born in the seven nations in Trump’s travel ban killed zero people in America.” And since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed a total of 123 people on U.S. soil. That’s tragic, but as a matter of perspective, consider this: Over the past four decades, guns have claimed 1.34 million American lives—about as many as in all wars in U.S. history. Every year on average, more Americans die falling off ladders, or slipping in bathtubs, or falling downstairs, than are killed by terrorists. Yet while Trump is “berserk” on the risks posed by a small number of Syrian refugees, he wants to relax sensible laws on a far greater threat: firearms. The president has vowed to get rid of gun-free zones in schools, and has suggested Americans should carry weapons so they can be ready to shoot back at terrorists. If he paid any attention to reality, he’d know that far more Americans are killed by armed husbands than terrorists. Loosening our already lax gun laws while banning Muslims will only result in “more school shootings, more shattered families, and more lives lost.”

2-16-17 Gay couple in Washington state wins legal battle against florist who cited religion to refuse doing their wedding
Gay couple in Washington state wins legal battle against florist who cited religion to refuse doing their wedding
On Thursday, the nine-member Washington state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a florist in Richland had violated the state's anti-discrimination and consumer-protection laws when she refused to provide the flowers for a gay couple's 2013 wedding, citing her religious belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, can stop selling flowers to any wedding or sell to all weddings, but not discriminate on sexual orientation, the court ruled. Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers, had sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, whom she knew were a gay couple, for years. But she drew a line at doing the flowers for their wedding. The couple sued, backed by the state attorney general and the ACLU, and won in lower court. Stutzman's lawyer, Kristen Waggoner, said they will appeal the closely watched case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

2-15-17 Hate groups increase for second consecutive year as Trump electrifies radical right
Hate groups increase for second consecutive year as Trump electrifies radical right
The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations, released today. The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries. The latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign. The report, contained in the Spring 2017 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, includes the Hate Map showing the names, types and locations of hate groups across the country. The SPLC found that the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917 – up from 892 in 2015. The number is 101 shy of the all-time record set in 2011, but high by historic standards. “2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists. In Steve Bannon, these extremists think they finally have an ally who has the president's ear.”

2-13-17 Don't look now, but American judges are attacking debtor's prison
Don't look now, but American judges are attacking debtor's prison
The American jail system is an abomination. Over three-fifths of people who are in jail (as opposed to prison) have not been convicted of a crime. And of those, a large fraction are there because they cannot afford bail. That is a gross violation of the Fifth Amendment, which states that no person can "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." But mass incarceration of people simply because they are poor is also the natural outgrowth of a jail system that is chronically underfunded, locally administered, and concerned more with warehousing troublemakers than with constitutional due process. However, things have started to change — most recently by something called a model bench card for justices. It says that nobody can be jailed for nonpayment of fines without a hearing establishing that they had the money and deliberately refused to pay, or that nonpayment was not the defendant's fault and alternatives to incarceration were inadequate. So what is a bench card? Essentially, it's a quasi-official set of rules outlining court procedure and constraining how judges are supposed to rule — basically a cheat sheet for following the law. This bench card is the result of consistent pressure from outside legal efforts, most notably the ACLU, which has been suing debtor's prisons for years and years. Their push resulted in the National Task Force of Fees, Fines, and Bail Practices, which involved the Conference of Chief Justices (a powerful force composed of the highest judicial officer from each state and territory), the Conference of State Court Administrators, the ACLU, and several other organizations.

2-12-17 Nazi-era German anthem at tennis tournament sparks outrage
Nazi-era German anthem at tennis tournament sparks outrage
The United States Tennis Association has apologised after a version of the German national anthem associated with the Nazi era was accidentally sung at a tournament in Hawaii. The obsolete first verse, including the words "Germany, Germany above all else" was sung by a soloist at the Fed Cup. The error left members of the German team and fans upset and angry. The USTA extended "a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team and fans for the outdated National Anthem". "This mistake will not occur again," it said. Germany's Andrea Petkovic and Alison Riske of the US were about to play their first-round tie when the anthem was heard. "It was an absolute outrage and affront, the lowest," Petkovic said. "It was by some way the worst thing that's happened to me, especially in the Fed Cup." (Webmaster's comment: This was not a mistake. It didn't just happen after 70 YEARS! Some modern day American Nazis were behind it empowered by America's current political climate.)

2-10-17 Life does flash before a dying person’s eyes
Life does flash before a dying person’s eyes
People who are about to die really do see their life flash before their eyes—but not in the way it happens in the movies. That’s the conclusion of a new Israeli study into the phenomenon, which has labeled the pre-death flashbacks “life review experiences,” or LREs, says The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). Researchers from Jerusalem’s Hadassah University spoke to 271 people who had undergone a near-death experience and an LRE. Whereas flashbacks in the movies typically involve a sequential highlight reel of meaningful moments, study participants said their memories came at them in no particular order, often simultaneously. Some recalled reliving their own experiences from someone else’s perspective, and even said they could feel that other person’s pain. Many of the participants said they lost all sense of time during the LRE. “A moment, and a thousand years…both and neither,” said one. “It all happened at once.” People who had LREs said it made a profound and lasting impact on their view of life. The researchers speculate that the phenomenon may be linked to the brain regions responsible for storing autobiographical memories. These parts of the brain are the last to shut down following oxygen and blood loss, researchers said, and may be triggered to replay their store of life events in “extreme conditions of psychological and physiological stress.”

2-10-17 ‘Bowling Green massacre’
‘Bowling Green massacre’
Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway apologized this week after claiming that the media failed to cover “the Bowling Green massacre” in Kentucky—a terrorist attack that never happened. Defending President Trump’s travel ban during an interview with MSNBC, Conway claimed that Barack Obama had implemented his own refugee ban after two Iraqis came to the U.S. as refugees and became “the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.” She added, “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.” When it quickly emerged there’d been no such massacre, Conway said she misspoke, and that she meant to refer to two Iraqis living in Bowling Green who were convicted for trying to send money and weapons to al Qaida. Conway had publicly referred to the “Bowling Green massacre” on at least two other occasions. Conway later apologized on CNN, and said she was offering “an olive branch” to the media. (Webmaster's comment: The Big Terrorist Lie they did not get away with!)

2-10-17 The ‘sanctuary city’ showdown
The ‘sanctuary city’ showdown
The nation’s biggest cities are preparing to lock horns with the Trump administration over undocumented immigrants. What is a sanctuary city? The term loosely applies to about 400 cities, counties, and states across the U.S. that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. These jurisdictions range from sprawling metropolises like Los Angeles and Boston to smaller counties in rural Oregon and Kansas. These communities have varying policies: Most do not permit police to inquire about a person’s immigration status, and some do not turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials even if they’re arrested. President Trump argues that sanctuary cities have become safe havens for criminals, and in January signed an executive order vowing to strip such jurisdictions of federal funding if they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. That move has set up a legal showdown between the Trump administration and “every major city in the U.S.,” says Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago—one of at least three dozen sanctuary cities that have openly vowed to defy Trump. “This is not the battle they want to take on.”

  • What is a sanctuary city?
  • When did sanctuary cities appear?
  • What happened to Steinle?
  • What does Trump’s order do?
  • How have sanctuary cities responded?
  • What happens now?
  • The ‘name-and-shame’ list

2-10-17 Gruesome cover
Gruesome cover
Germany’s leading newsweekly, Der Spiegel, triggered fierce debate this week after it depicted President Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty and holding the statue’s bloody head aloft on its front cover, next to the caption “America First.” In an editorial, the magazine said Europe must defend itself against America’s “dangerous president,” whom it calls a “pathological liar” and a racist. It goes on to accuse Trump of wanting to “establish an illiberal democracy,” and concludes that Germany must now take the lead in defending “democracy, freedom, the West, and its alliances.” Some Germans cheered the cover, but Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the center-right Free Democratic Party, and others called it “tasteless.” (Webmaster's comment: How the world sees Trump!)

2-10-17 Americans See US World Standing as Worst in a Decade
Americans See US World Standing as Worst in a Decade
Americans believe the world at large sees the U.S. more unfavorably (57%) than favorably (42%), their worst assessment of the country's image in 10 years. A year ago, Americans' perceptions were more positive than negative. (Webmaster's comment: Guess we're not Great Again quite yet!)

2-10-17 The growing GOP alarm about Trump
The growing GOP alarm about Trump
“The arranged marriage between Donald Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans” is already fraying, said A.B. Stoddard. The GOP is “euphoric” about the president’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, but is privately expressing alarm and frustration over Trump’s erratic behavior. “GOP lawmakers are horrified that he yelled at foreign allies over the phone, frustrated by his management incompetence that turned an immigration and travel ban into a political fiasco, [and] conflicted about how to cover the cost of a border wall they admit Mexico will never pay for.” His claim the GOP will replace Obamacare with “great health care for everyone” has filled lawmakers with “dread,” making “replace” much harder. Congressional Republicans are facing “more constituent pushback than they can remember, with phone calls to congressional offices breaking records.” For now, most Republicans are holding their fire, fearing a primary challenge from Trump loyalists in 2018. But every day brings more unhinged Trump behavior “for members of Congress to run from.” When asked about some of Trump’s remarks, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Let’s talk about policy.” But how long will that answer suffice?

2-10-17 Poll watch
Poll watch
42% approve of President Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, while 55% do not. 38% approve of his order to build a border wall with Mexico, while 60% do not. Overall, 43% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, while 52% disapprove. Gallup
27% of Americans think that the Senate should vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. 14% disagree. 56% can’t yet say. 54% of Americans want the court to uphold Roe v. Wade, while 30% of people want to see the 1973 decision overturned. CBS News

2-9-17 Science stood apart from politics for a long time, not any more
Science stood apart from politics for a long time, not any more
A march for science to protest at Donald Trump's presidency has sparked debate about researchers getting too political. Why the fuss, wonders Michael Brooks. On 22 April, many researchers across the world will engage in their first overt political act, marching in protest at US president Donald Trump’s anti-science stance. The prospect has created fierce debate over the question of how politically active scientists should be. To understand why this question is even being asked and why it might be causing division, you have to grasp the nature of the relationship between science and politics, one that blossomed in the relatively recent era of state-funded research. This era began in earnest after the second world war, when governments realised that whoever had the best scientists would win the next war. The deal is this: scientists (in the West, at least) are largely allowed to get on with their work undisturbed, talk about it with the public if they want (most don’t) and get paid reasonably well for it, sometimes in permanent, unassailable employment. In return, some results of this effort should enhance national security and create wealth and jobs. Part of the pact was that, as Winston Churchill put it, scientists “should be on tap, but not on top”. That is, they should not get involved in political decision-making or seek control over their outputs. Most have tacitly agreed, content to be part of a system that allows them to quietly indulge their innate curiosity while earning a decent living. Polymath Jacob Bronowski described this perfectly: scientists, he said, became “the monk of our age, timid, thwarted, anxious to be asked to help”.

2-9-17 Government Dissatisfaction Returns as Most Important Problem
Government Dissatisfaction Returns as Most Important Problem
Dissatisfaction with the government now clearly leads as the issue Americans see as the most important problem facing the U.S. The 19% mentioning the government is up from 11% last month and is now significantly higher than the percentage mentioning any other issue. The next-most-commonly mentioned problems are immigration (13%) and unifying the country (10%) -- both up from last month -- as well as the economy in general (9%).

2-8-17 Mississippi Retains Standing as Most Religious State
Mississippi Retains Standing as Most Religious State
Mississippi remains the most religious state in the U.S., with 59% of its residents in 2016 classified as "very religious," followed by Alabama (56% very religious) and Utah (54%). South Dakota follows Utah at 53%. Vermont is the least religious state; Only 21% of its residents are classified as very religious. Two other New England states, Maine and Massachusetts, are the second- and third-least religious.

  • 59% of Mississippi residents are "very religious"
  • Vermont is the least religious state, with 21% very religious
  • Most religious states continue to be mainly in South, plus Utah

2-8-17 Evolved instincts shaped democracy to resist bullies like Trump
Evolved instincts shaped democracy to resist bullies like Trump
Take heart America: US democracy's ability to stem autocracy is rooted in moral codes developed when we were all hunter-gatherers, says Christopher Boehm. A year ago, when Donald Trump entered the race for the White House, the press (liberal and illiberal) thought his chances of success were something south of an improbable joke. In this magazine, I stepped forward to firmly predict that this political version of 19th century US showman P. T. Barnum would win the Republican nomination. I believed he would do so because of his ability to dominate his opponents in a way that had echoes of potent primate power plays and, crucially, because I could see that this outsider appealed to a US electorate tired of politics driven by insidious lobbying interests. I didn’t, however, predict that Trump would actually go on to become US president. I couldn’t see a man openly espousing views with intended tones of outright bigotry winning an election in my America. I failed to see that his erratic behaviour and his dogged refusal to become “presidential” was locking in an enthusiastic base, especially among those caught in the bleak eddies of industrial decline. The rest is history. Three weeks in, as his show rolls on and the government of this improbable billionaire takes shape, he is staying true to his basic constituency, invoking a travel ban, mocking climate change, preparing to dismantle regulations that protect the public and the world from the natural greed that attends commercial activities, actively moving against Hispanic-sanctuary cities and planning a hugely expensive wall on the border with Mexico – when all that is necessary is to enforce existing laws against greedy employers hiring illegals to work for next to nothing.

2-8-17 More than 100 tech firms sign letter opposing Trump travel ban
More than 100 tech firms sign letter opposing Trump travel ban
Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft claim the president’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries inflicts "substantial harm on US companies.” MORE than 100 technology firms have signed a legal brief opposing President Trump’s immigration ban, arguing that it will harm the US economy. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are among the 127 signatories on the letter, which has been filed to a US appeals court in support of a lawsuit brought by the State of Washington. The lawsuit challenges Trump’s executive order blocking nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. Last Friday, a federal judge put the order temporarily on hold. The tech firms argue that the executive order violates the US constitution and “is inflicting substantial harm on US companies”. They say that the ban will prevent them from hiring the best talent and that “American workers and the economy will suffer as a result”. Uber has also signed the brief. The taxi firm faced a mass boycott after it was accused of profiting from a taxi driver strike at New York’s JFK airport in protest at the ban. CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from Trump’s business council following the uproar. SpaceX and Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, were not originally signatories, but signed the brief after it was released. Musk has been criticised for continuing to advise Trump, but has argued that “engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good”.(Webmaster's comment: United States does not have the skilled workers it needs for high tech industry and the unskilled workers it has want soft cosy jobs where thinking is not required. What a bunch of losers!)

2-8-17 Elizabeth Warren silenced over US Senate criticism of Sessions
Elizabeth Warren silenced over US Senate criticism of Sessions
Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Senate Republicans on Tuesday after reading a letter written by the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. The 30-year-old letter criticised Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, said Ms Warren had broken Senate rules by impugning the conduct of another senator. She is banned from speaking again in the Senate on Mr Sessions' nomination. The vote is expected on Wednesday. The incident has outraged Democrats, and delighted the Massachusetts senator's detractors. Jeff Sessions said caricature of him as a 'Southern racist was painful'. (Webmaster's comment: But True! So much for Freedom of Speech in America!)

2-7-17 Read Sen. Al Franken's furious takedown of his Republican colleagues after the DeVos vote
Read Sen. Al Franken's furious takedown of his Republican colleagues after the DeVos vote
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) expressed unreserved outrage over Tuesday's 51-50 Senate confirmation of President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos: "It's not a job for amateurs who don't know the first thing about education," said Franken in his statement, after Vice President Mike Pence took the Senate floor to cast the tie-breaking vote. "I voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, because she is the most incompetent Cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen." Republicans have called DeVos, a school-voucher proponent, the kind of reformer the education system needs. Democrats have criticized Republicans' support for DeVos, pointing to her family's $200 million in donations to conservatives. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) grilled DeVos on that point during her Senate hearing, demanding to know: "Do you think, if you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?" Franken echoed Sanders' frustration Tuesday. "Last night I urged my Republican colleagues to oppose [DeVos'] nomination, because if we cannot set party loyalty aside long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the president's nominees, then I don't know what we are even doing here," he said in his statement. "Betsy DeVos has demonstrated that she is fundamentally unqualified to lead the Education Department, and it's a shame that Republicans voted to confirm one of their major donors instead of looking out for our children." (Webmaster's comment: The whole idea is to make everyone pay for their entire education, and if they can't that is just too bad. But the rich can afford it and they will rule all employment that requries an education!)

2-7-17 US conservative bill aims to axe EPA – here’s why it won’t work
US conservative bill aims to axe EPA – here’s why it won’t work
The bill is latest in a series of signals that the US Environmental Protection Agency will be reined in under President Trump, but it might not end it just yet. On 3 February, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz introduced to the US House of Representatives a bill to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which standardises and enforces limits on air, land and water pollution. It comes as hundreds of former and some current employees of the agency have urged Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, who has in the past backed industry interests over that of the regulator, and led many lawsuits against the EPA. Pruitt could be confirmed by the Senate this week, and is expected by some to move forward on Trump’s campaign promise to “get rid of” the agency, though critics expect him to do so in a piecemeal manner by making cuts and weakening the agency’s powers. A major overhaul of the EPA’s website since Trump took over has already seen the removal of federal climate plans created under former president Barack Obama and a mention of carbon pollution as a cause of climate change. The bill to get rid of the agency altogether sounds drastic, but it may be more of an anti-regulation rallying cry than a real harbinger of what’s to come for federal environmental protection under Trump.

2-7-17 Beware Trump's Reichstag fire
Beware Trump's Reichstag fire
I like to think I'm a little less prone to panic than some of my liberal brethren. I haven't called President Trump a fascist, mostly because the idea of him having a coherent ideology is absurd. Much as I fear how he'd act in a crisis — a fear that has only grown since he became president — I grant that most of what he'll do in office is exactly what any Republican president would do. I don't doubt that there will be an election in 2020. And while Trump has a remarkable lack of human virtues and an even more remarkable set of character flaws, I don't think he's Hitler. That doesn't mean, however, that certain historical events don't offer us a warning of the kind of thing we should watch out for. In particular, the Trump administration's move to shut America's doors to refugees and stop all entry from nationals of seven Muslim countries has me thinking more and more about the Reichstag fire. There will come a moment when something awful happens, and Americans need to be ready for the Trump administration's effort to exploit it. In February 1933, an arsonist set fire to the Reichstag, the German parliament building. When a young communist was arrested for the crime, Adolf Hitler, who had become chancellor one month before, declared that it was part of a communist plot to overthrow the government. The next day, a law was signed essentially suspending all civil liberties, and Hitler quickly purged his political opponents from government and consolidated the Nazi Party's grip on power. (Webmaster's comment: I disagree with this article because all the elements are there for an absolute dictatorship, a megalomaniac leader, religious fanatic cabinet ministers, and a violent white male supremacist support base just waiting for the right incident to remove all civil rights and take complete power.)

2-7-17 The European village where Muslims and gays are unwelcome
The European village where Muslims and gays are unwelcome
Muslim dress and “homosexual propaganda” have been banned in a remote village in southern Hungary. Its mayor, Laszlo Toroczkai, says that while he would welcome people from Western Europe to live in the area, “we wouldn't like to attract Muslims to the village". Lesley Ashmall reports for the Victoria Derbyshire programme. (Webmaster's comment: For a moment I thought they said America, not Hungary.)

2-7-17 Frenchman describes brutal 'police rape'
Frenchman describes brutal 'police rape'
A young black man has given graphic testimony of his alleged rape at the hands of a police officer in a gritty suburb north-west of Paris. One officer has been charged with rape, and three more with assault. Hundreds marched in Aulnay-sous-Bois on Monday in support of the man who has been identified only as Theo. The 22-year-old said he left his house and found himself in the middle of a police identity check, targeting drug dealers, by chance last Thursday. This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing. Theo said he was sodomised with a truncheon, as well as racially abused, spat at and beaten around his genitals. He has undergone emergency surgery for severe anal injuries, and has been declared unfit for work for 60 days. He remains in hospital, where he spoke to his lawyer. He said the police operation quickly turned violent and he was set upon by four officers. He struggled to make sure he was in the view of CCTV cameras, and asked the officers why they were doing this to him. He said one officer proceeded to pull his trousers down and rape him with a truncheon. (Webmaster's comment: Don't be so shocked. New York Policemen did the exact same thing to a black suspect in 1997 with a broken broom handle. The internal injuries were severe!)

2-6-17 Vermont Leads States in LGBT Identification
Vermont Leads States in LGBT Identification
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vermont tops a new ranking of states by the portion of adults in 2015 and 2016 who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) at 5.3%. Massachusetts (4.9%), California (4.9%), Oregon (4.9%) and Nevada (4.8%) round out the top five.

  • 5.3% in Vermont identify as LGBT
  • South Dakota lowest at 2.0%
  • Biggest increases in the Pacific region

Average for the United States is about 3.9%

2-6-17 Trump travel ban: States urge retention of temporary block
Trump travel ban: States urge retention of temporary block
Restoring President Donald Trump's ban on immigrants from seven mainly Muslim countries would "unleash chaos again", lawyers for two US states argue. Counsel for Washington and Minnesota urged a federal appeals court in San Francisco to maintain its nationwide temporary restraining order. They are being backed by technology firms which say the travel ban is harmful to their businesses. Trump administration lawyers are expected to respond later on Monday. The restraining order was issued on Friday by a federal judge in Seattle, Washington, suspending Mr Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven mainly Muslim countries. Visa holders from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will be allowed to enter the US until the full case has been heard. The judge's order received a furious response from Mr Trump, who claims national security is at risk.

2-6-17 These political Super Bowl ads suggest brands are bailing on Trump
These political Super Bowl ads suggest brands are bailing on Trump
On the night that 97 companies filed an amicus brief opposing President Trump's executive order on immigration, the 51st Super Bowl was peppered with ads doing much the same. This was an unusually freighted event — so unusual that Pope Francis even made a speech for the occasion: "Great sporting events like today's Super Bowl are highly symbolic," he said. "By participating in sports, we are able to transcend our own self-interest — and, in a healthy way, we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity, and to respect the rules." Indeed, the Pope wasn't the only one seeking to lecture the president — and the America he claims to represent. (Webmaster's comment: Read it. The corporations laid into him with a vengence!)

2-6-17 Tech giants oppose Trump immigration ban
Tech giants oppose Trump immigration ban
A group of 97 US tech companies have filed a legal document stating that President Trump's immigration ban affects their operations and "inflicts significant harm" on business. The 97 signatories include Apple, Facebook and Microsoft but not Amazon or Tesla. The document is an amicus brief, which allows parties not directly involved in a case but who feel they are affected by it, to give their view. It was filed in Washington on Sunday. Mr Trump's executive order halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and suspended permission to enter the US for all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. There is currently a nationwide temporary restraining order in place, which was issued on Friday by a federal judge in Washington. Visa holders from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will be allowed to enter the US until the full case has been heard. The president says national security is at risk as a result. (Webmaster's comment: The ban's supporters are Trump, his ministers, hate groups, white supremacists, bigots and red-necks.)

2-6-17 Trump supporters slam Super Bowl ads that celebrate immigrants
Trump supporters slam Super Bowl ads that celebrate immigrants
Politically charged adverts broadcast on US television during Sunday's Super Bowl prompted calls for boycotts of some of the products featured. Usually it's the job of the Super Bowl halftime act to cause controversy - think back to last year and Beyonce's Black Panthers, or Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004. This year however, as Lady Gaga turned in a performance that BBC Music called "fairly restrained... by her standards", it was the advertisements broadcast on Fox during breaks in the action which prompted outrage and counter-outrage on social media.

2-5-17 Trump bid to restore travel ban rejected
Trump bid to restore travel ban rejected
The US federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration's request to reinstate a travel ban blocked by a federal judge on Friday. The late night ruling means the travel ban will remain suspended until the full case has been heard. The court gave the White House and the states challenging it a deadline of Monday to present more arguments. Two states argued that the travel ban, affecting people from seven mainly-Muslim countries, was unconstitutional. In its appeal, the Justice Department said Judge James Robart had overreached by "second guessing" the president on a national security matter. It also argued that only the president could decide who can enter or stay in the US. In Friday's case, the Justice Department had argued that states did not have the authority to challenge a presidential executive order. Lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota had argued that the ban was unconstitutional because it denied people with valid entry documents the right to travel without due process. It also violated freedom of religion rights by appearing to target Muslims, they said. (Webmaster's comment: The real terrorists in the United States are the 892 Hate Groups. Why don't we ban them?)

2-4-17 Trump vows to restore travel ban suspended by federal judge
Trump vows to restore travel ban suspended by federal judge
US President Donald Trump has vowed to overturn a legal ruling which suspended his ban on travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries. He described federal judge James Robart as a "so-called" justice whose "ridiculous" opinion "essentially takes law-enforcement away from" the US. Judge Robart ruled on Friday there were grounds to challenge the ban. A number of airlines have said they are allowing nationals targeted by the ban to board flights to America. "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Mr Trump said on Twitter. "When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!" he tweeted separately. The US administration argues that his executive order last week, which caused confusion and anger, is designed to protect the US. (Webmaster's comment: We're still a nation of law for the moment.)

2-4-17 How a prosecutor decided that an attack on a disabled black kid was just bullying
How a prosecutor decided that an attack on a disabled black kid was just bullying
October of 2015, in Dietrich, Idaho, a young, intellectually disabled black man was in his high school locker room with other friends, all white, on the football team. He thought his friend was going to give him a hug. Instead, the "friend" grabbed him and held him, according to a civil suit. A second boy, an 18-year-old, allegedly inserted a plastic coat hanger into the young man's rectum. Then the third attacker started to kick the hanger, driving it into the victim's body, the family says. The boys were arrested, and the two who inserted then kicked the hanger were charged with felony sexual assault, which carries a 10- to 20-year prison sentence. But then the charges started being reduced. First, an adult charge was dropped and replaced with only a juvenile one. Then the other boy, whose kicking did terrible damage to the victim, was permitted to make an Alford plea, where he asserts innocence despite evidence to the contrary. Unless he violates probation, he won't serve a minute in jail, and his record might even be expunged. (Webmaster's comment: This is a racist hate crime and more are sure to follow given our new political climate. And white supremacist America is going to do everything it can to get the criminals off with light sentences.)

2-3-17 ‘Calexit’: California considers secession
‘Calexit’: California considers secession
Has President Trump finally pushed Californians over the edge? said Lauren Evans in “With a GDP roughly the size of France” and one of the most progressive social agendas in the country, Californians have long contemplated “unshackling” themselves from conservative states in the South and the Great Plains. Last week, the Golden State took a step toward this fantasy by giving the Yes California Independence group permission to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that would allow California to officially secede from the U.S. One-third of Californians already support “Calexit”—and for good reason, says Yes California founder Louis Marinelli. Californians rejected Trump by a 2-to-1 margin, yet must now swallow policies we find abhorrent, including his crackdown on immigration and rollback of climate change regulations. “America is a sinking ship,” says Marinelli, “and the strongest position for California to take is one on its own lifeboat.” (Webmaster's comment: If there ever was a free thinking idea this is it. Let the white supremacists go down in their ship full of hate and let the rest of us be free!)

2-3-17 Sanctuary city fight
Sanctuary city fight
San Francisco filed a lawsuit this week challenging President Trump’s executive order to strip so-called sanctuary cities of federal funding—arguing that Trump’s measure was unconstitutional and “un-American.” Trump’s order, signed last week, targets more than 400 cities and counties nationwide that have adopted policies protecting the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The order instructs the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold “federal funds, except as mandated by law,” from those communities. In San Francisco, where police are prohibited from giving certain information about undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officers, that federal money amounts to $1.2 billion in health-care and nutrition funding and other grants, say city officials. New York City, Chicago, and other sanctuary jurisdictions have also vowed to fight the order.

2-3-17 Did Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway just invent a massacre?
Did Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway just invent a massacre?
Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Donald Trump, has talked about a massacre while defending the president's controversial travel ban. Critics have pointed out there was never a "Bowling Green massacre" in the US, so what was she referring to? Conway is already famous for her phrase "alternative facts" which she used in the debate over the size of Donald Trump's inauguration crowd. This page explains the 2011 event she mentioned, in which no-one died. Research into terrorist attacks on US soil between 1975 and 2015 shows foreign nationals from those countries have killed no Americans. Chris Matthews did not challenge Kellyanne Conway further on her "Bowling Green massacre" claim. The phrase trended top on Twitter in the US and elsewhere overnight. She hasn't yet responded to criticism that she misrepresented the events of 2011.

2-3-17 Flirting with Holocaust denial
Flirting with Holocaust denial
“Holocaust denial is alive and well in the highest offices of the United States,” said Deborah Lipstadt. To the astonishment of nearly everyone, the administration last week issued a statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of the 6 million Jews slaughtered in Nazi death camps. Instead, the tribute paid generic lip service to the unspecified “innocent people” killed. This was no “rookie mistake” by the new White House. Trump’s spin doctors tripled down on the omission, insisting that this administration “took into account all of those who suffered,” providing a link to a story that bemoaned the forgotten Holocaust victims, including priests, gypsies, people with disabilities, and anarchists. This form of “softcore” Holocaust denial has a history: Some anti-Semites claim that self-pitying Jews are “‘stealing’ the Holocaust for themselves.” As a matter of historical fact, the Nazis built the death camps for the specific purpose of exterminating “a specific people”—the Jews. So why would the White House deliberately edit Jews out of the Holocaust? Perhaps it’s the work of Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, whose last job was running You know—the website that panders to the virulently anti-Semitic “alt-right.”

2-3-17 Bannon: The power behind the throne
Bannon: The power behind the throne
Steve Bannon has quickly become “one of the world’s most powerful people,” said Zack Beauchamp in Until last year, the former Goldman Sachs banker ran the extreme right-wing website, home of the white nationalist “alt-right.” After stepping in to help run Donald Trump’s faltering presidential campaign, Bannon was elevated to White House chief strategist—and has already pulled off “a power grab” that’s made him Trump’s most influential adviser. Bannon played a major role in crafting the president’s aggressively populist inaugural speech, and was the “driving force” behind the controversial travel ban and other executive orders. He’s also led the administration’s war on journalists, telling the media to “keep its mouth shut.” And in an unprecedented move for a political operative, Bannon was last week given a full seat on the National Security Council, the president’s key advisory group on foreign policy.

2-3-17 Manufacturing: Trump’s robot dilemma
Manufacturing: Trump’s robot dilemma
President Trump has pledged to save American jobs from Mexico and China, but he might want to deal with the robots first, said Peter Kafka in Studies suggest that the vast majority of U.S. factory jobs lost in the past few decades were lost not to overseas workers, but to automation. That trend is only accelerating. Machines could today feasibly replace at least some of what human workers do in 50 percent of all jobs, no matter the sector, according to an eye-popping new report from management consultancy McKinsey. “That’s not just low-paying work but plenty of white-collar employment as well.” More workplaces than ever, from oil rigs to farms, “are now welcoming robotic laborers,” said Jamie Condliffe in An oil company that once required 20 employees to work a drilling site “may soon need as few as five,” thanks to robots that have taken over dangerous, repetitive jobs joining heavy pipes as they’re driven into wells. Robot workers are also infiltrating the mining and construction industries. What’s a populist president to do?

2-3-17 Travel ban prompts chaos, protests
Travel ban prompts chaos, protests
President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries triggered a firestorm this week, with mass protests at several major airports, widespread confusion among border control officials, and a growing spate of lawsuits challenging the order’s legality. Signed late in the day last Friday, the travel ban blocks immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, and suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. With travelers given no prior warning about the new policy, and many immigration officials unsure about how to execute it, more than 700 visa holders were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights; hundreds more landed at American airports, only to be placed on return flights or handcuffed, detained, and questioned for hours. Those caught up included entire refugee families from Syria, Iraqi interpreters who helped the U.S. during the Iraq War, and an Iraqi general currently leading the fight against ISIS. Permanent U.S. residents, known as green card holders, were initially among those banned but are now being issued waivers.

2-3-17 How they see us: Trapped by Trump’s travel ban
How they see us: Trapped by Trump’s travel ban
President Trump has managed to turn “friends, allies, and strangers into enemies overnight,” said The Daily Star (Lebanon) in an editorial. His executive order banning citizens of the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days has upended thousands of lives. Two gay refugees from Syria, who underwent two years of background checks and interviews by U.S. officials, were about to find safety in America: Now they are stuck in limbo in Turkey, fearing for their lives. A 12-year-old Yemeni girl about to be reunited with her family in the U.S. was turned back and is now stranded with her father—an American citizen—in Djibouti, a country where they know no one. Those are just a few of the roughly 90,000 people affected by the ban, almost certainly none of them terrorists, but most of them Muslims. U.S. respect for human rights has been revealed as a farce. “With one stroke of his pen, Trump has caused the Muslim world to lose faith in American values.”

2-3-17 Mosque slaughter
Mosque slaughter
A university student whom classmates described as a far-right extremist opened fire at a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers this week, killing at least six people and injuring 19 more in what the government is calling a terrorist attack. Witnesses said the suspected gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old French Canadian student, shouted “Allahu akbar!”—or “God is great!”—during his rampage at the Islamic Cultural Center. Bissonnette fled in his car but was caught about 12 miles away after calling 911 and telling police that he “felt bad” and wanted to kill himself, according to the Quebec City daily Le Soleil. Classmates at Laval University said Bissonnette was a loner with nationalist, misogynist, and anti-immigrant views; on his Facebook page, he declared support for U.S. President Trump and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right. Bissonnette faces six charges of murder and five of attempted murder. Thousands of Canadians attended vigils held at mosques and churches across the nation for the victims—who included a grocer, a computer scientist, and a college professor. “We will grieve with you. We will defend you,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadian Muslims. “We will love you and we will stand with you.” About 1 million of Canada’s 36 million people are Muslim.

2-3-17 Who is the greater danger?
Who is the greater danger?
Since 9/11, an average of nine Americans per year have been killed by Islamic terrorists on U.S. soil. That compares with 12,843 killed per year in gun homicides and 37,000 who die in auto accidents.

2-3-17 US gun laws: House votes to loosen background checks rules
US gun laws: House votes to loosen background checks rules
The US House of Representatives has voted to scrap regulations that require background checks for people purchasing guns with mental health issues. The checks, introduced under the Obama administration, are believed to affect an estimated 75,000 people. The bill now needs to the approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump. The House also voted on Thursday on Obama-era rules and regulations on the environment. The background-check rules were introduced to provide information on the gun-buying history of people receiving benefits for mental disability. But Republican lawmakers argued that the regulation reinforced negative stereotypes that people with mental disorders are dangerous.

2-3-17 Transgender Scouts
Transgender Scouts
Breaking with more than 100 years of tradition, the Boy Scouts of America this week announced it would accept members based on their gender identity—allowing transgender boys to join the organization for the first time. Until now, the 2.3 million–strong group has accepted members based only on the gender listed on a birth certificate. “That approach is no longer sufficient,” the organization said in a statement. Boy Scouts groups will now accept members based on the gender stated on their application forms. The announcement came months after an 8-year-old transgender boy in Secaucus, N.J., said he was expelled from his local Cub Scout pack, following complaints from other boys’ parents. The decision was the latest of several LGBT policy changes by the Scouts, which has also recently lifted bans on gay youth members and pack leaders.

2-3-17 Emmett Till revelation
Emmett Till revelation
The woman at the center of the notorious 1955 Emmett Till lynching now admits she made up claims that Till made physical and verbal advances toward her, a historian revealed this week. Till was 14 years old and visiting relatives in Money, Miss., when he was killed for allegedly whistling at Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white woman. Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were accused of kidnapping Till, torturing him, and shooting him in the head. During Bryant and Milam’s murder trial, Carolyn Bryant testified that Till had grabbed her and made vulgar claims about being with white women. Bryant and Milam were acquitted by a jury after little more than an hour. But in a 2007 interview with historian Timothy Tyson, who has just published a book on the case, Bryant confessed that her testimony “wasn’t true,” adding “nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”

2-2-17 Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Endorsements by Churches
Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Endorsements by Churches
President Trump vowed on Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to evangelicals, a voting bloc he attracted to his campaign by promising to free up their pulpits. Mr. Trump said his administration would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. “Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us,” Mr. Trump told religious leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast. “That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” Repealing the law would require approval by Congress, which could prove challenging given that Democrats, and even some Republicans, would resist what many view as an erosion of the separation between church and state.

2-1-17 A painful reminder for Donald Trump of why torture is pointless
A painful reminder for Donald Trump of why torture is pointless
The US president wants to revive torture for terror suspects, but we have known for millennia that it is no way to get at the truth, says Shane O’Mara. PRESIDENT Donald Trump says his nation should “fight fire with fire” by using torture on terror suspects, insisting it works. Does it? Only if you want to coerce someone into stating something they don’t believe or repudiate something they do. Or to gather material to fit a pre-determined political or legal process and spread fear. This has been known for millennia. However, torture fails utterly as a means of getting at the truth, even more so compared with non-coercive investigative methods. The purpose of a modern interrogation is to get reliable, replicable and verifiable information. Professional interrogators say torture is the worst possible method for this. Neuroscience agrees. Imposing extremes of pain, anxiety, hunger, sleep deprivation and the threat of drowning does not enhance interrogation. It degrades it. We shouldn’t be surprised. Behind the wheel of a car, mild states of sleep deprivation are as risky as drink-driving. Reactions slow, judgement is impaired, and recollection is damaged. A torturer hopes that enough residual function is unaffected so that intelligence can be gathered. Instead, people say whatever is needed to make the torture stop.

2-1-17 You might be in a medical experiment and not even know it
You might be in a medical experiment and not even know it
the long view, modern history is the story of increasing rights of control over your body — for instance, in matters of reproduction, sex, where you live, and whom you marry. Medical experimentation is supposed to be following the same historical trend — increasing rights of autonomy for those whose bodies are used for research. Indeed, the Nuremberg Code, the founding document of modern medical research ethics developed after the Second World War in response to Nazi medical experiments, stated unequivocally that the voluntary, informed consent of the human subject is essential. Every research ethics code since then has incorporated this most fundamental principle. Exceptions to this rule are supposed to be truly exceptional. Yet today, more and more medical experimenters in the United States appear to circumvent getting the voluntary, informed consent of those whose bodies are being used for research. What's more, rather than fighting this retrograde trend, some of the most powerful actors in medical research are defending it as necessary to medical progress. A few years ago, I fell in with a growing group of professionals in medicine and allied fields such as bioethics who have mobilized to defend the right to informed consent in medical experimentation. As a historian of medicine, I had worked since 1996 with intersex rights activists on improving care for children born with bodies in between the male and female types. In 2009, colleagues alerted me that a group of parents judged "at risk" of having a child born with a particular genetic intersex condition appeared to be unwitting subjects in a medical experiment.

2-1-17 The gay son who inspired Sebastian Barry to write his award-winning novel
The gay son who inspired Sebastian Barry to write his award-winning novel
Novelist Sebastian Barry has said his youngest son coming out was pivotal in the writing of Days Without End, winner of the Costa Book of the Year prize. "He basically has been my teacher in all matters gay," the Irish writer told Radio 4's Today programme. Days Without End, which begins in the 1850s, tells of two Irish soldiers who go to fight in America. At the heart of the story is a gay relationship Barry said was informed by his son Toby's experiences. Toby coming out at 16, he said, "was the beginning of him teaching me the ins and outs and the majesty and the wonder of being gay". "All that was drawn into the book and became part of this love between these two men," he said on Wednesday. Barry became the first novelist to win the Costa Book of the Year prize twice on Tuesday when Days Without End beat four other titles to the award.

2-1-17 Muslim students on Trump ban: 'I don't belong here'
Muslim students on Trump ban: 'I don't belong here'
Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian and Pakistani students in the US react to President Donald Trump's executive order banning people from seven countries. (Webmaster's comment: The law no longer protects Muslims in this country. We have become a nation of rulers, not of law. It's now open season on Muslims. The white male supremacists are going to attack Muslims (especially the women and children because they are the more identifiable and weaker targets) whenever the opportunities present themselves. And the white female supremacists will support them in this. A great evil is descending upon our nation.)

71 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for February 2017

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for January 2017