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

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

6-30-17 Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries
Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries
People from six mainly Muslim countries and all refugees now face tougher US entry due to President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban. It means people without "close" family or business relationships in the US could be denied visas and barred entry. Lawyers took up positions at US airports, offering free advice. But there was no sign of the chaos that affected travellers when the first version of the ban was brought in at a few hours' notice in January. That is because the executive order does not affect people who already have valid visas or green cards. The Department of Homeland Security said it expected "business as usual at our ports of entry". (Webmaster's comment: Making sure we keep starving grandchildren and grandparents out of our country! What a mean country we live in.)

  • Seven questions about the ban
  • 'Grandparents, not terrorists'
  • Big win for Trump and his travel ban
  • Who can come in?
  • IN - a parent, spouse, fiancé, child, son- or daughter-in-law, or sibling, including step- or half-siblings.
  • OUT - grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, extended family and grandchildren.
  • How did we get here?

6-30-17 Why the NRA has turned from fear to hate
Why the NRA has turned from fear to hate
Americans are divided, as we all know. But as much as that might be true, most of us aren't ready to take up arms and go trying to create an actual civil war with the people who disagree with us about politics. Because that would be crazy. That reluctance to get violent — or at least to believe that things are about to get violent, and prepare appropriately — is a serious problem, as far as the National Rifle Association is concerned. Which is why they're doing their best to turn up the volume on our civil disagreements. For the last eight years they've prospered by preying on fear, but fear isn't going to be enough anymore. So now they're putting their money on hate. Take a look at this ad the group recently created, in which conservative media personality and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch stops just short of calling for an all-out armed civil war against liberals: I don't know what "the clenched fist of truth" is, but I'm pretty sure it involves buying more guns. And that's the context in which this has to be understood, because President Trump is a threat to the NRA's business model, one that requires a different kind of appeal from the one they've been making.

6-30-17 Police cover-up?
Police cover-up?
Three Chicago police officers were indicted on felony charges this week for allegedly conspiring to cover up the fatal 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. White officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in McDonald’s death in November 2015, on the same day that authorities released a video showing McDonald, 17, being shot 16 times by Van Dyke as the teen walked away. Prosecutors say the three officers in question conspired to shape the probe of McDonald’s death after the shooting. They allegedly prepared police reports that falsely portrayed them as victims of McDonald, who they claimed was swinging a knife “in an aggressive manner,” and avoided carrying out interviews with witnesses. The officers “did more than merely obey an unofficial code of silence,” said prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes. “They lied.”

6-30-17 Religious freedom
Religious freedom
The Supreme Court issued two big announcements on religion this week—ruling in favor of a Missouri church school that wanted to use taxpayer funds to repave its playground and accepting a potentially landmark case involving a gay couple’s wedding cake. In a 7-2 decision, the justices ruled that the state of Missouri discriminated against the Trinity Lutheran Church preschool in Columbia by denying it a state grant because of its status as a church. Missouri’s decision penalized the free exercise of religion, an action that “is odious to our Constitution,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts. The justices will revisit religious liberty in the fall after accepting a case involving a Colorado cake artist who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. (Webmaster's comment: The supreme court is now beginning to rule in the favor of religion over the separation of church and state. There is no way the state should be financing anything on church property. I suspect "christian religious freedom" will soon begin to override all other laws!)

6-30-17 Trump panders to the Miami Cubans
Trump panders to the Miami Cubans
Miami Cubans are an embarrassment, said Juana Carrasco Martín. When President Trump announced in Miami recently that he was curbing former President Obama’s détente with Havana, a crowd of Cuban exiles whooped and cheered his retrograde Cold War rhetoric, chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags. Yet this “small and intolerant group” is a minority, not just of Americans but also of Cuban-Americans, most of whom support increased ties, trade, and tourism between the two nations. It’s ironic that the man who pushed Trump to reverse diplomatic progress, Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, was not born in Cuba, has never visited it, and doesn’t “understand Cubans’ efforts, work, and sacrifices to safeguard their independence and sovereignty.” When Rubio addressed the rally, “he spoke in English,” like everybody else. But it turns out that Trump lied to the Miami Cubans. All his new directive does is slightly tighten travel restrictions for Americans. The U.S. Embassy in Havana will remain open, commercial flights and cruise trips to Cuba will continue, and the 22 accords that the Obama administration signed with Havana—on issues as diverse as maritime and air safety and cooperation on the environment—are still in effect. The Miami Cubans are just the latest dupes of this “arrogant, incoherent” excuse for a president.

6-30-17 Germany votes for 50m euro social media fines
Germany votes for 50m euro social media fines
Social media companies in Germany face fines of up to 50m euros ($57.1; £43.9m) if they fail to remove "obviously illegal" content in time. From October, Facebook, YouTube, and other sites with more than two million users in Germany must take down posts containing hate speech or other criminal material within 24 hours. Content that is not obviously unlawful must be assessed within seven days. The new law is one of the toughest of its kind in the world. (Webmaster's comment: Come On America! Why do we allow hate speech on our social media? The right to free speech should not include advocating crimes or hate against others!)

6-30-17 Germany gay marriage approved by MPs in snap vote
Germany gay marriage approved by MPs in snap vote
A clear majority of German MPs have voted to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote. The reform grants couples now limited to civil unions full marital rights, and allows them to adopt children. Mrs Merkel's political opponents were strongly in favour. But the chancellor, who signalled her backing for a free vote only on Monday, voted against. The bill was backed by 393 lawmakers, 226 voted against and four abstained. The German legal code will now read: "Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex", AFP news agency reported. Following Friday's vote, Mrs Merkel said that for her marriage was between a man and a woman. But she said she hoped the passing of the bill would lead to more "social cohesion and peace".

6-30-17 Russian TV offers gay people one-way tickets to leave
Russian TV offers gay people one-way tickets to leave
A Russian religious television channel is offering to pay for one-way plane tickets for gay people serious about emigrating from the country. In a video on its social media channels this week, Tsargrad TV called on gay people to compete for a one-way plane ticket overseas. "Just recently, California - the most liberal state in the USA by the way - proposed to facilitate the granting of green cards to Russian perverts," said TV host Andrei Afanasyev. The channel regularly uses offensive terms to refer to LGBT people. "The staff of Tsargrad TV support this initiative. Moreover, we are ready to pay for a one-way ticket to anyone who plans to emigrate in complete earnest, and can provide a medical certificate proving that they are sodomites or have other forms of perversion," he added. "We really want you to move there, where you can openly submit to your sins." The channel insisted it was not trolling users and that it "wants to do good". But a Russian sexologist speaking to the lifestyle website Afisha Daily said it was unlikely anyone would be able to obtain the required medical certificate, as sexual orientation was not considered a disease.

6-29-17 More Americans Say Immigrants Help Rather Than Hurt Economy
More Americans Say Immigrants Help Rather Than Hurt Economy
Five months into Donald Trump's presidency, 49% of U.S. adults believe immigrants help the nation's economy by providing low-cost labor, outweighing the 40% who think immigrants hurt the economy by driving down wages. This is a near reversal of the last time Gallup asked this question, in 2005, when more thought immigrants harmed (49%) than helped (42%) the economy. Public concern about immigrants' effects on the economy may be even less pronounced than it appears to be. Gallup asks respondents if they think immigrants take jobs that Americans want or if they take low-paying jobs that U.S. adults aren't interested in. By a commanding margin, 72% said immigrants take jobs Americans don't want over the 18% who say immigrants take jobs U.S. adults want.

  • 49% say immigrants help the U.S. economy
  • 72% believe immigrants take jobs Americans don't want
  • Most say immigration has had no effect on job or company they work for

6-28-17 I moved my kids out of America. You can too.
I moved my kids out of America. You can too.
you want to move overseas, but you're not in possession of a winning lottery ticket. You don't have a career that will allow you to move just anywhere. And you don't know anyone in Costa Rica, Spain, or Malaysia. It's a nice thought, but moving abroad just isn't in the cards for you ... right? Wrong. The truth is, moving to another country isn't as complicated or expensive as most folks make it out to be. I did it. And you can too. Earlier this month, I wrote an article titled "I moved my kids out of America. It was the best parenting decision I've ever made." Many readers asked me the same question: How'd you do it? Allow me to explain. When my I moved with my husband and our two sons to Ecuador in 2011, we had little beyond a collective dream of living internationally along with the knowledge that it was going to take some work on our part to get there. Our first step was get our finances in order. Debt, we knew, was a stress feeder and a dream killer, so we made a plan to eliminate it. The easiest step was getting rid of most of our credit cards. We did hold on to a couple (the ones that gave us rewards like airline miles or cash back), but we only used them for necessities like gas and groceries. We paid off the balance each month, and we made a concerted effort to live within our means. If we wanted to splurge, we only allowed ourselves to do so if we had cash in the bank to cover it. Next we eliminated our vehicle debt. My husband's Chevy pickup was already paid off and though it was older, we made do instead of trading it in for a new model. But we still owed a few thousand dollars on my Dodge minivan, so we sold off our meager investments and closed out the loan. But the biggest step in our debt eradication plan was getting rid of our mortgage. We didn't win the lottery. We weren't independently wealthy. And we had no rich relatives to leave us their rare art collection when they passed on. In short, we weren't going to hand over a wad of cash to Wells Fargo and magically own our house in full. (Webmaster's comment: Wendy DeChambeau explains step-by-step exactly what to do.)

6-28-17 US woman shoots boyfriend in YouTube stunt
US woman shoots boyfriend in YouTube stunt
A Minnesota woman has been charged over the fatal shooting of her boyfriend, in what authorities say was a social media stunt gone wrong. Monalisa Perez, 19, was booked into county jail after shooting at Pedro Ruiz as he held a book to his chest, believing it would stop the bullet. The couple's three-year-old child and nearly 30 onlookers watched as she fired the fatal bullet into his chest. Ruiz's aunt said they did it to increase their social media following. Claudia Ruiz told WDAY-TV that her nephew had told her he wanted to do the stunt "because we want more viewers, we want to get famous". "He had told me about that idea and I said, 'Don't do it. Don't do it. Why are you going to use a gun? Why?'" Claudia Ruiz told the news channel. "They were in love, they loved each other," she said. "It was just a prank gone wrong." Ms Perez, who is pregnant, is facing charges of second degree manslaughter. She faces her first court appearance on Wednesday. County Attorney James Brue described the book as a hardcover encyclopaedia, and said the weapon used was a .50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun. (Webmaster's comment: They don't get any dumber than this! Another candidate for "Countdown to Extinction")

6-28-17 Thai police called in to take on village's female ghost
Thai police called in to take on village's female ghost
Officers of the Royal Thai Police Force have been called on to undertake a ghost-busting mission in eastern Thailand, where a malevolent female ghost has reportedly left villagers spooked for months. Police were dispatched to a village in Amnat Charoen province to deal with the ghost, known locally as "phi pob", which villagers said had killed four cows and caused four border police officers to fall ill, Thai online media outlet Khaosod English reports. Village leaders had requested a police presence to "strengthen civilian morale, prevent panic and boost residents' confidence in living their daily lives", the website said. Police have already started their patrols to ward off the spirit, with local police chief Adul Chaiprasithikul stating that, at present, "more people believe in phi pob than those who don't". (Webmaster's comment: Just because people can make it up doesn't make it real!)

6-28-17 Americans More Positive About Effects of Immigration
Americans More Positive About Effects of Immigration
Americans are more positive now than a decade ago about the effects that immigration has on the U.S. This increase in positivity is seen across six different aspects of life in the U.S., spanning the economy, culture and jobs situation. These results, from a June 7-11 Gallup poll, are a marked departure from 2007 when Americans were more likely to say they preferred a decrease in immigration to the U.S. than an increase. Americans currently hold more positive views of the effects of immigration despite having recently elected a president who has made derogatory statements about immigrants. U.S. adults' views of immigrants' impact on the country have become at least modestly more positive on each of six aspects of American life. On some measures, they are the most positive views about immigration that Americans have expressed in Gallup's trend since 2001. A majority of Americans now say immigrants have a positive effect on food, music and the arts (57%), while nearly half say immigration benefits the economy in general (45%) -- with both of these measures up 17 percentage points from 2007.

  • U.S. adults are more likely than in 2007 to say immigrants make things better
  • Majority of Americans say immigrants make "food, music and the arts" better
  • Democrats have more positive views of immigration's effects than Republicans

6-28-17 TrumpCare is class warfare
TrumpCare is class warfare
If raising taxes on the rich is class warfare, what would you call gutting hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to the poor? Class warfare is bad, and you shouldn't engage in it. That's been a consistent talking point among Republicans for years. Back in 2011, when President Obama tried to raise taxes on wealthy investors who pay extraordinarily low rates, GOP stalwarts from Newt Gingrich to Paul Ryan threw the "class warfare" epitaph at the president, accusing him of dividing the country. In 2016, when the GOP presidential candidates were asked if taxes should be higher on millionaires, they scoffed. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the suggestion — you guessed it — class warfare. But if raising taxes on the rich is class warfare, what's gutting hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to the poor? Because that's just what the Republicans' two health-care bills do. While the details of the American Health Care Act (passed by the House) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (under debate in the Senate) differ in some particulars, one thing they share is mammoth cuts to Medicaid. That's the government program that provides health insurance coverage for over 72 million low-income Americans — mostly children, retirees, and disabled adults. The House and Senate bills would cut it by $834 billion and $772 billion, respectively, over the next decade. That's roughly one-fourth of all federal spending on the program, and there's no conceivable way the states could make up the difference. (Webmaster's comment: Less for low income Americans, MORE FOR THE RICH!)

6-28-17 #NotInMyName: Indians protest against 'beef lynching'
#NotInMyName: Indians protest against 'beef lynching'
Protests are taking place across India against rising attacks on Muslims and Dalits (formerly untouchables) by vigilante cow protection groups. About 2,000 people turned out in Delhi. Protests were also being held in 15 other cities as well as in London, protest organiser Saba Dewan said. The campaign, #NotInMyName, started with a Facebook post she wrote after a Muslim teenager was killed last week. Many Hindus consider the cow a sacred animal. Wednesday's protests come amid reports that a Muslim dairy farmer in Jharkhand state was assaulted and his house was set on fire after the carcass of a cow was found at his door on Tuesday afternoon. Cow slaughter is banned in several Indian states and those found violating the law can be jailed for up to 10 years. Parliament is also considering a bill to bring in the death penalty for the crime. (Webmaster's comment: Barbarians!)

6-28-17 Italian father in passionate vaccines plea to Veneto governor
Italian father in passionate vaccines plea to Veneto governor
An Italian father has written a heartfelt letter to a regional governor, urging him not to challenge a new law making vaccination compulsory. Nicola Pomaro's young daughter suffers from severe auto-immune deficiency. In the letter, he says plummeting rates of vaccination in Italy - which the new law seeks to reverse - represent "a mortal danger to my daughter" and thousands of others. He urges Veneto Governor Luca Zaia to abandon his legal challenge. Measles rates have soared in Italy in 2017 as vaccination rates have fallen well below the 95% threshold which scientists say prevent the disease circulating in the general population. Officials have blamed the declining take-up in part on anti-vaccination statements by the populist Five Star Movement, as well as the now-discredited work of Andrew Wakefield, a doctor struck off the UK medical register in 2010. (Webmaster's comment: Unvaccinated children are disease carriers that can kill other people. Vaccination of children for infectious diseases should be mandatory.)

6-27-17 Chronic flu patients could be an early warning system for future outbreaks
Chronic flu patients could be an early warning system for future outbreaks
Viral mutations from long-term infections predict later strains making worldwide rounds. Observing mutations that tweak proteins on the surface of the flu virus (3-D representation, shown) in people with long-term infections may give researchers a preview of how the virus will morph as it spreads globally years later. People with weakened immune systems might help scientists get a jump on the flu virus. Some flu virus mutations popped up again and again in cancer patients with long-term infections, researchers report June 27 in eLife. And some of those mutations were the same as ones found in flu viruses circulating around the world a few years later, evolutionary virologist Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues discovered. The findings may eventually help vaccine developers predict flu strain evolution. “You can’t predict what’s going to happen next year,” — at least not yet, Bloom says. But monitoring infections in many people may indicate which parts of the virus are most likely to change in the future.

6-27-17 Laquan McDonald death: Officers 'lied about US teenager's shooting'
Laquan McDonald death: Officers 'lied about US teenager's shooting'
Three former or current Chicago police officers have been charged with allegedly conspiring to cover up the fatal police shooting of a black teen. Detective David March and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney face charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a white officer in 2014, sparking widespread protests across the city. Prosecutors accuse the three men of lying in the shooting's aftermath. "The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial 'code of silence,' rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth," Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown said in a statement on Tuesday. Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in 2015 after dashcam footage appeared to show him fatally shooting Mr McDonald as he moved away from officers, contradicting police accounts. He has pleaded not guilty.According to the indictment, the three officers allegedly falsified reports and tried to conceal the events surrounding Mr McDonald's death "to shield their fellow officer from criminal investigation". (Webmaster's comment: The great racist epidemic in our police forces continues!)

6-27-17 Republican health bill in jeopardy after CBO bombshell
Republican health bill in jeopardy after CBO bombshell
Republicans are scrambling to shore up their Obamacare repeal legislation as congressional misgivings mount after a damning forecast on the bill's impact. Some 22 million Americans would lose health insurance over the next decade under the plan, said the non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO). Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican senator to come out against the proposal. Republicans can afford to lose just two votes in their 52-seat Senate majority. The Better Care Reconciliation Act would slash taxes on the wealthy, all paid for by cuts to healthcare for the poor and nursing home residents. The 49-page CBO analysis said 15 million more people would be uninsured by next year alone under the Senate bill, largely because the unpopular Obamacare penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated. Another seven million would lose coverage over the next decade, it predicted. There were some positive points: the legislation would decrease federal deficits by $321bn over a decade, the budget office said. It also found that average insurance premiums would be lower in 2020, but only because medical coverage would be much skimpier.

6-27-17 The GOP's 'Better Care' act: The worst parts of health care now even worse
The GOP's 'Better Care' act: The worst parts of health care now even worse
Over the last few years, Republicans correctly identified the thing Americans hate most about the health insurance system: out-of-pocket costs. Rising premiums are bad enough, but what's really maddening is when you have insurance, but you still have to keep shelling out for going to the doctor. Many insurance plans, particularly on the individual market, have deductibles of $5,000, $8,000, even $12,000 or more. It makes you feel like you're being screwed: We pay hundreds of dollars every month for this plan, and now that my kid broke his arm our insurance won't pay a dime for his care? That's not to mention copays, coinsurance, and all the other creative ways insurers have devised over the years to pay as little as possible when you actually try to use the insurance you bought from them. As time went on and high deductibles became a central part of the insurance industry's profit strategy, Republicans homed in on the displeasure they create as a way of arguing that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster that simply must be repealed. "Our health-care plan will lower premiums and deductibles — and be great health care!" President Trump tweeted last month. Ask any Republican what's wrong with the ACA, and they'll be sure to bring up those dastardly deductibles. So their health-care plan brings them down, right? Well, no. Quite the contrary, in fact: The Republican plan will cause deductibles to skyrocket. And that's by design. (Webmaster's comment: The GOP has only one goal ever: Money, More Money, and Even More Money for the already rich!)

6-27-17 Emmett Till Mississippi civil rights memorial defaced again
Emmett Till Mississippi civil rights memorial defaced again
A memorial to an African-American boy whose lynching galvanised the US civil rights movement has been vandalised for the second time in as many months. Information about 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was murdered during a family holiday to Mississippi, was scraped and later peeled off a historical marker. The murder of the Chicago teenager made headlines throughout the US when photos of his body were published in 1955. Another Till memorial nearby was found riddled with bullet holes in 2016. The latest vandalism happened to a marker placed outside the Bryant Grocery store in Money, Mississippi, where the teenager was accused of whistling at a white woman. It was also defaced in May. Allan Hammons, whose company manages the Mississippi Freedom Trail where the sign is located, says he does not know if the new vandalism is racially motivated, but adds that it was the only sign on the trail that was defaced. (Webmaster's comment: Open racism is next thanks to our new political climate.)

6-27-17 Chicago gay pride parade expels Star of David flags
Chicago gay pride parade expels Star of David flags
Organisers of an LGBT-rights festival in Chicago are being accused of anti-Semitism after they expelled marchers carrying the Star of David. The rainbow flags with the Jewish symbol "made people feel unsafe", an organiser told the Windy City Times. Laurel Grauer said she was told to leave the so-called Dyke March "because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive". The organisers later hit back, saying Israel hides behind LGBT-rights. "It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity which I have done for over a decade marching in the Dyke March with the same flag," Ms Grauer told Windy City Times. Ms Grauer, who works for A Wider Bridge, which supports LGBT people in Israel, said she lost count of how many times she was verbally harassed by other marchers on Saturday. (Webmaster's comment: Now the LGBT community is Anti-Semitic! Hatred for groups other than ones own is also on the rise in America, again thanks to the new politcal climate.)

6-27-17 Muslim girls complain of Polish racism on Holocaust study trip
Muslim girls complain of Polish racism on Holocaust study trip
German Muslim schoolgirls who went on a visit to Holocaust memorials in eastern Poland say they were racially abused by locals during their trip. The girls, from a Berlin school, spoke on Deutschlandfunk radio about their experience. Four were wearing Muslim headscarves - and they suffered abuse. One girl said a man had spat on her in the street in Lublin, as police stood by grinning and did nothing. Another girl said she was expelled from a shop for speaking Persian. She had been speaking to her brother on the phone. "They came up to me and said 'can you leave, you're disturbing the people here'. And I thought: Why? Just because I'm speaking Persian and I'm a foreigner? Yes," she told the radio station. A third girl said that in Lodz "a woman just came up to me and shouted 'get out!' and threw her drink over me and my camera - she said 'get lost!'" In Lublin, the girls said that a market stallholder had refused to sell them water because they were foreigners. On another occasion, one girl was reportedly threatened with a knife. They were among a group of 20 children - mostly Muslims - from the Theodor Heuss Community School in Berlin-Moabit. The Holocaust is a sensitive topic for many Muslims because Jewish survivors settled in Palestine, on land which later became the state of Israel. (Webmaster's comment: Haters always pick on women and children. They are "safe to pick on" victims.)

6-27-17 Land of the Free?
Land of the Free?
Americans' feeling of freedom is declining. In 2006, 91% of Americans were satisfied with the freedom in their lives. Today, it's 75%. The 16-percentage-point decline is dramatic -- but looking at how far the U.S. has fallen in comparison with the rest of the world, the decline is even worse. The U.S. ranked 11th when Gallup asked this question in 2006 (among 118 countries). In 2016, the U.S. came in 71st (among 139 countries). This puts the U.S. in the bottom half of all countries measured. This decline isn't happening in other wealthy democracies. Denmark, Finland and Canada were all tied for first in 2006 -- 96% of people in each country expressed satisfaction with their freedom. Today, those figures are virtually unchanged, and all of them remain in the top 11. Two things typically come to mind when people think about their personal freedom -- their financial situation and their government. On a global basis, GDP per capita and attitudes toward individual income are highly related to how people feel about their freedom. Stated simply, people in wealthy countries are more likely than people in less wealthy countries to report being satisfied with their freedom. Despite widespread reports that the U.S. economy is improving, many Americans may not be feeling the same economic gains in their daily lives. Household income is up since 2011, but it's flat since 2007. And despite unemployment dropping below 5%, the overall jobs picture is not as rosy. Workforce participation is the lowest it's been in 40 years. Using this metric, The Economist says that unemployment for 25- to 54-year-olds is worse in America than in France. (Webmaster's comment: The higher ranking countries all have more controls on them than we do. Their controls focus on providing a CIVILIZED SOCIETY, providing free education for all, providing healthcare, providing paid maternity leave, and a safety net for those having economic problems. Ours focuses on guns, lower taxes, religion, having the right to do anything we want regardless of how it effects others, and a to hell with others attitude. We have the highest murder rates, highest rape rates, highest child abuse rates, highest infant mortality rates, highest maternal death rates, lowest life spans, and are one of the most least educated nations on earth.)

6-27-17 Trump causes 'major' shift in global view of US: Pew
Trump causes 'major' shift in global view of US: Pew
Donald Trump's presidency has had a "major impact on how the world sees the United States", a large new study says. The survey, by the Pew Research Center, interviewed more than 40,000 people in 37 countries this year. It concluded that the US president and his policies "are broadly unpopular around the globe". The survey shows only two of the 37 countries have a better opinion of Mr Trump than they had of his predecessor Barack Obama: Israel and Russia. But the report indicates many feel their country's relationship with the US will not change over the coming years. The key findings from the survey, carried out between 16 February and 8 May, include:

  • People have less faith in Trump than Obama
  • Most countries see Trump in an unfavourable light
  • The travel ban has harmed the US's image

Do you have confidence in the president to do the right thing globally?

Do you have confidence in the president to do the right thing globally?

"Across all the characteristics tested, positive and negative, President Trump is most likely to be described as arrogant," the Pew report says. The findings were released only hours after the US Supreme Court partially lifted an injunction against President Trump's ban on visitors from six majority-Muslim countries. That's not us saying it, it is the opinion of many of the 40,447 people interviewed by Pew and their associates. The survey focused on international attitudes, but a recent report from Pew found that Mr Trump's approval ratings in his home country have remained low since he took office in January.

6-26-17 Latest stats are just a start in preventing gun injuries in kids
Latest stats are just a start in preventing gun injuries in kids
New numbers on firearm deaths and injuries provide most in-depth look yet at impact of firearm violence on children. A new analysis provides the most comprehensive look at firearm injuries and deaths in U.S. kids. Continuing to study the numbers in even greater detail could lead to improved policies to prevent such injuries and deaths. On June 18, 4-year-old Bentley Thomas Koch fatally shot himself in the face. A few weeks earlier, Harmony Warfield, age 7, was shot and killed by her 2-year-old cousin. And teens Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov, both on the eve of graduating from high school, died in a hail of gunfire. Stories like these of kids dying from gunshot wounds are devastating, but, sadly, they aren’t an anomaly. The most comprehensive look at fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries among children in the United States makes that abundantly clear. Every day, roughly 19 children die or are medically treated in an emergency department for gun-inflicted wounds, a study published June 19 in Pediatrics finds.
The statistics, based on data from 2002 to 2014, are stark:

  • Nearly 1,300 children, from birth to age 17, die from gunshot wounds each year on average and another 5,790 kids are wounded;
  • Of the deaths, 53 percent are homicides, 38 percent are suicides and 6 percent are accidents;
  • Boys ages 13 to 17 make up the bulk of gunshot victims;
  • Cause of death varies by race — African-Americans are overwhelmingly more likely to die from homicide than suicide; white kids are nearly three times as likely to die from suicide as from homicide; and for American Indian and Asian-American kids, it’s 50-50.

(Webmaster's comment: America's answer: Buy more guns. Have more people carry guns. We have been doing that for years and the problem increases as we buy and carry more guns. DUH! No other developed nation has this problem. It's unique to America. Other nations do not allow or encourage this unregulated gun ownership.)

6-26-17 Trump breaks White House Eid dinner tradition
Trump breaks White House Eid dinner tradition
US President Donald Trump has broken a nearly 20-year-old tradition by failing to host a dinner marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The White House event had been held every year since President Clinton's tenure. The Eid al-Fitr feast ends Ramadan, a period when Muslims fast and focus on charitable giving. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly rejected a request to hold a reception. In May, Reuters said Mr Tillerson had refused a recommendation from the State Department's office of religion and global affairs to organise a celebration. Mr Trump has previously been criticised for his use of anti-Muslim rhetoric, including on the campaign trail when he called for surveillance of US mosques. (Webmaster's comment: The millions of good Muslims to don't matter to Trump, only playing to his Islamophobic supporters.)

6-26-17 Kill the private health insurance industry before it kills you
Kill the private health insurance industry before it kills you
The private health insurance industry needs to be killed. And the weapon of its demise is obvious: Medicare for all. Before ObamaCare, the fact that private markets are horribly ill-suited to deliver health insurance was obvious. Unlike home or car insurance, very sick people can virtually never afford to pay the premiums necessary to cover their care. Back then, one of dozens of pre-existing conditions and a lapse in coverage meant you were virtually un-insurable. (For example, if you were pregnant and wanted insurance on the private market, you'd have to get an abortion first.) Even when insured people got sick, insurers would often fight tooth and nail to avoid paying, or even attempt "rescission" — the practice where, when someone gets severely ill, you cook up a bogus excuse to kick them off their coverage. ObamaCare, of course, was good to the private insurance industry. One of the first things Democrats did was pre-emptively buy the industry off (along with all other interested parties). Indeed, the whole point of the signature ObamaCare exchanges is to create a functioning marketplace where individuals could buy private insurance that actually allowed access to care — part of which was a mandate and subsidies to buy insurance, and another part of which was massive subsidies direct to the insurers.

6-25-17 Turkey LGBT: Police stifle Istanbul Gay Pride rally
Turkey LGBT: Police stifle Istanbul Gay Pride rally
Authorities in Istanbul had banned the rally for a third successive year. Marchers said they were exercising their constitutional rights. Police are out in force in the Turkish city of Istanbul, stifling attempts by organisers to hold a Gay Pride march. The organisers of the annual event had vowed to press ahead despite a ban by the authorities, who had cited threats from far-right groups. But police blocked off the marchers, reportedly firing rubber bullets to disperse some and detaining others. Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey - unlike in many Muslim nations - but homophobia remains widespread. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in conservative Islam, has denied wanting to impose traditional religious values, saying he is committed to secularism. But he supports Turks' right to express their religion more openly. He has been accused of growing authoritarianism in recent years.

6-25-17 Canada to apologise for 'LGBT purge' in government
Canada to apologise for 'LGBT purge' in government
During the Cold War, hundreds of gay men and lesbians in Canada lost government and military jobs because of their sexual orientation after being harassed and interrogated under a national security campaign now dubbed the "LGBT purge". In 1986, Simon Thwaites was ordered into a meeting with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) special investigative unit. Investigators questioned the then-naval officer about his HIV status - positive, but asymptomatic. Then they asked him to identify friends and other military members who were gay. After the meeting, Thwaites' security clearance was downgraded and he was re-assigned to menial tasks. His commanding officer recommended he be let go from the military because of his sexual orientation. In 1989, he was released for medical reasons. Thwaites is one of hundreds of Canadian military and government employees who were drummed out of careers because of their sexual orientation, but the now 55-year-old's case is one of the most well-documented. That's in part because he challenged his dismissal, and in 1994 a Canadian human rights tribunal found the military should have accommodated him, regardless of his HIV status. He received compensation, but no pension or medical coverage. He had lost his job, his home, his car. Decades later, he says it still makes him angry. Later this year, the Canadian government is expected to apologise to Thwaites and all those in the federal civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the CAF who were subjected to a campaign of interrogation and harassment from the 1950s to the 1990s because of their sexuality. In doing so, Canada will join countries like the UK, Australia and Germany in issuing official mea culpas for past injustices to their LGBT citizens.

6-25-17 The children haunted by 12 seconds of gunfire
The children haunted by 12 seconds of gunfire
Over the past two decades, more than 135,000 American students have experienced a shooting at their school. In one small town, first-graders remain tormented by what they saw. In each shooting's wake, the children and adults who die and those who murder them become the focus of intense national attention. Often overlooked, though, are the students who survive the violence but are profoundly changed by it. Beginning with Columbine 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, according to a Washington Post analysis. That doesn't count dozens of suicides, accidents, and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire. "A meaningful number of those kids are going to have significant struggles," said Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist who worked with families from Columbine and Sandy Hook. "It's stunning how one event can have this echo that will impact so many more individuals than people realized." Every child reacts differently to violence at school, therapists have found. Some students, either immediately or later, suffer post-traumatic stress similar to combat veterans returning from war. Many grapple with recurring nightmares, are crippled by everyday noises, struggle to focus in classes, and fear that the shooter will come after them again. They'd always felt safe in this swath of countryside, which claims a single stoplight but at least six churches. Overwhelmingly white, it is home to families that have farmed for decades, retirees with lake houses, college-educated professionals, and hundreds of people in mobile homes living from one paycheck to the next.

6-24-17 Passions flare as Turkey excludes evolution from textbooks
Passions flare as Turkey excludes evolution from textbooks
Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is set to be expunged from textbooks used by 14 and 15 year olds in Turkey. "This is bigotry, this is all about being a fanatic. How are they going to teach biology now? How are they going to talk about science?" On an online forum about the government's decision to exclude the theory of evolution from the national curriculum, a passionate discussion is under way. "Evolutionary theory is one of the most powerful and fundamental theories in modern science. To describe it as 'controversial' is unbelievable," says one commenter. Another argues that the theory was not well taught anyhow: "Once the teacher asked us who believed in evolutionary theory. I raised my hand. The teacher said: 'Are you a monkey then?'" But on Facebook another commenter says: "I want to thank the government for preventing our youth to be poisoned by this rotten and absurd theory. There is nothing more natural than excluding it from the national curriculum." (Webmaster's comment: What do you expect from country that gives it's president dictatorial powers and ranks lowest in belief in evolution of all developed nations. Even lower than the United States with all its religious ignorants. See our Belief In Evolution Chart.)

6-24-17 Schwarzenegger and Macron join forces in swipe at Trump
Schwarzenegger and Macron join forces in swipe at Trump
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken another swipe at Donald Trump over the US president's policy on climate change - this time backed up by the muscle of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a video on social media, Mr Macron is joined by the Terminator star as he vows to "make the planet great again". "Make America great again" was Mr Trump's presidential campaign slogan. Mr Macron has been critical of the US president's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Could this latest development, exposed in a post on Twitter on Friday, be the start of a new "political bromance"? Speaking into his phone camera, Mr Schwarzenegger said that he and Mr Macron had been "talking about environmental issues and a green future" together. The footage was posted on the social media site with the former film star and California governor saying he was "truly honoured" to meet Mr Macron, adding that the pair would "work together for a clean energy future". The 10-second clip runs for the full duration with the caption: "With President Macron, a great leader!" (Webmaster's comment: Join Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, many other famous actors, and the 2,000,000 protestors who will moon him if he shows up in England, in oppsition to this nasty miscreant we have for a president.)

6-23-17 Cost of Healthcare Is Americans' Top Financial Concern
Cost of Healthcare Is Americans' Top Financial Concern
As the U.S. Senate begins considering legislation that could significantly change the nation's healthcare system, the cost of healthcare leads the list of what Americans consider the most important financial problem facing their family. The 17% who name healthcare costs as their family's most pressing financial problem is up seven percentage points since 2013 and is just two points shy of the all-time high of 19% recorded in 2007.

  • 17% cite healthcare costs as top financial problem facing family
  • Down from the record-high 19% who cited this issue in 2007
  • Concern about low wages lowest since before financial crisis

6-23-17 Second US mistrial in Ohio police shooting of Samuel DuBose
Second US mistrial in Ohio police shooting of Samuel DuBose
A mistrial has been declared for the second time in the case of a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black motorist in Ohio two years ago. The jury was unable to reach a verdict after 30 hours of deliberation in charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter against Ray Tensing, 27. The Cincinnati officer killed Sam DuBose, 43, after pulling him over on 19 July 2015. A prosecutor called it the "most asinine act" ever by a police officer. Judge Leslie Ghiz declared the mistrial on Friday after the jury of nine white and three black people were unable to reach a verdict. The jurors told the judge they were almost evenly split. It is the fourth high-profile failure recently to convict a police officer in the death of a black man:

  • On Wednesday, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is black, was cleared in the shooting of Sylville Smith
  • Last week, a jury found Minnesota officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty in the shooting of Philando Castile
  • Last month, Officer Betty Jo Shelby was cleared in the manslaughter of unarmed Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mr Tensing stopped Mr DuBose near campus for a missing front licence plate, and police body cam shows their initial exchange was friendly. (Webmaster's comment: Making sure our police can murder blacks with impunity!)

6-23-17 Amputees control avatar by imagining moving their missing limbs
Amputees control avatar by imagining moving their missing limbs
Even after losing a limb, brain activity associated with imagined movements can be read by an fMRI brain scanner and used to control a computer character. Neuron activity associated with imagined movements could be used to control prosthetics. People who have had amputations can control a virtual avatar using their imagination alone, thanks to a system that uses a brain scanner. Brain-computer interfaces, which translate neuron activity into computer signals, have been advancing rapidly, raising hopes that such technology can help people overcome disabilities such as paralysis or lost limbs. But it has been unclear how well this might work for people who have had limbs removed some time ago, as the brain areas that previously controlled these may become less active or repurposed for other uses over time. Ori Cohen at IDC Herzliya, in Israel, and colleagues have developed a system that uses an fMRI brain scanner to read the brain signals associated with imagining a movement. To see if it can work a while after someone has had a limb removed, they recruited three volunteers who had had an arm removed between 18 months and two years earlier, and four people who have not had an amputation. While lying in the fMRI scanner, the volunteers were shown an avatar on a screen with a path ahead of it, and instructed to move the avatar along this path by imagining moving their feet to move forward, or their hands to turn left or right. The people who had had arm amputations were able to do this just as well with their missing hand as they were with their intact hand. Their overall performance on the task was almost as good as of those people who had not had an amputation.

6-23-17 Political violence: Is America headed for a divorce?
Political violence: Is America headed for a divorce?
The neighbors of a mass shooter can usually be counted on to mumble shell-shocked clichés about how “normal” he seemed, said Christopher Ingraham in But after James Hodgkinson opened fire last week on House Republicans as they practiced for a baseball game, one of his Belleville, Ill., neighbors made a comment that “speaks volumes about political culture in the United States.” The neighbor said he rarely spoke to Hodgkinson for one simple reason: “‘He was a Democrat and I was a Republican, so we didn’t have too much to talk about.’” This is what America has become in 2017: a land where we are “partisans first and neighbors second.” We’re now a nation where more than 40 percent of Republicans and Democrats say the other party is “a threat to the nation’s well-being,” and where seething extremists like Hodgkinson, who constantly vented his partisan bile on his Facebook page, are so commonplace that no one bats an eyelid until the first shot rings out. Hostilities between militant liberals and resentful traditionalists have been intensifying for decades, said J. Robert Smith in As summer comes on, is that “long cold civil war” about to “finally turn hot?” (Webmaster's comment: We ain't seen nuthin' yet!)

6-23-17 Police Shootings of Civilians
Police Shootings of Civilians
Since 2005, 80 officers have been arrested for fatal on-duty shootings, and just 28 convicted. There are about 1,000 police shootings of civilians every year in the U.S.

6-23-17 When cops kill without justification
When cops kill without justification
“An American police officer can do almost anything without suffering criminal consequences,” said Daniel Payne. That’s the tragic takeaway of last week’s acquittal of Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of motorist Philando Castile last year. The officer pulled Castile over because the African-American’s car had a broken taillight, and Castile—whose fiancée and daughter were in the car—politely informed the officer he had a licensed handgun in the car. Yanez told Castile to produce his driver’s license, and the officer panicked when he saw the motorist go for his pocket, and fired seven shots at point-blank range, killing him. Castile’s death was utterly unjustified—the product of the officer’s unreasonable fear. No one with “murderous intent” would politely inform a police officer he had a weapon in the car. Yet the jury let Yanez walk, because Americans “have a deeply dysfunctional and unhealthy attitude about what constitutes acceptable police behavior.” Last year, a South Carolina jury failed to convict a cop who was seen on video firing five shots into a fleeing black man’s back. The police do very important and brave work, but when they “unjustly kill innocent people,” they should not be “above the law.”

6-23-17 After the gunfire ends
After the gunfire ends
Over the past two decades, more than 135,000 American students have experienced a shooting at their school, said journalist John Woodrow Cox. In one small town, first-graders remain haunted by what they saw. It was among hundreds of items—letters, ornaments, photos, posters, plush toys—that deluged the school of 290 students after the Sept. 28 attack. But the dream catcher held special meaning. It had been sent to four other schools ravaged by gun violence, and the names of each were listed on the back: Columbine High in Colorado, Red Lake High in Minnesota, Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Marysville Pilchuck High in Washington state. In each shooting’s wake, the children and adults who die and those who murder them become the focus of intense national attention. Often overlooked, though, are the students who survive the violence but are profoundly changed by it. Beginning with Columbine 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, according to a Washington Post analysis. That doesn’t count dozens of suicides, accidents, and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire. “A meaningful number of those kids are going to have significant struggles,” said Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist who worked with families from Columbine and Sandy Hook. “It’s stunning how one event can have this echo that will impact so many more individuals than people realized.” Every child reacts differently to violence at school, therapists have found. Some students, either immediately or later, suffer post-traumatic stress similar to combat veterans returning from war. Many grapple with recurring nightmares, are crippled by everyday noises, struggle to focus in classes, and fear that the shooter will come after them again. Because of the lasting damage, Townville’s teachers, administrators, first responders, counselors, pastors, and parents and their children agreed to speak about what the community of 4,000 has endured over the past nine months.

6-23-17 Scalise shooting: A renewed gun-control debate
Scalise shooting: A renewed gun-control debate
In a nation filled with firearms, “no one is immune” from this country’s culture of gun violence, said Amanda Marcotte in Yet even as Republican lawmakers became the target of senseless carnage at a congressional softball practice in Virginia last week, they refused to make it less easy for “a madman with a vendetta to get the weaponry he needs” to wreak havoc. Deceased sniper James Hodgkinson, 66, wounded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others using a legally obtained semi-automatic rifle and handgun, in a rampage apparently motivated by his hatred for President Trump and Republicans. The incident was this year’s 154th mass shooting, as defined by attacks in which four people are shot. And yet to many Republicans, the only solution to this bloodshed “is yet more guns,” said The New York Times in an editorial. Some even proposed arming members of Congress. In this dark, NRA-inspired vision, everyone needs to go to work, school, and even softball practice “with a gun on their hip.”

6-23-17 The coming crisis
The coming crisis
What happens if Trump claims he's the victim of 'a coup'? This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine. The most telling aspect of a crazed partisan's 50-round assault on Republican lawmakers last week was that it was not all that surprising. Horrifying, yes. Shocking, no. Mass shootings have become as commonplace in this country as wildfires; partisan hatred has reached a fever pitch unseen since the 1960s, and perhaps the 1850s. Millions of people despise the other political tribe with a visceral passion, and the other tribe loathes them right back. Two decades ago, according to Pew Research, just 21 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats gave the other party a "very unfavorable" rating. By last year, that contempt rating had shot up to 58 percent and 55 percent, respectively. More troubling still: 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats view the other party as "a threat to the nation's well-being." Combine apocalyptic panic with the most polarizing presidency in modern times, frequent and increasingly violent conflicts between far-left and far-right protesters, and 300 million or so firearms, and you've got a nation whose RPM needle is climbing into the red zone. I worry about where we are headed. Democrats and Republicans are self-segregating into geographic, cultural, and media ghettos of like-minded souls, making it easier to demonize those who are outside the wall. Compromise is dead; giving an inch to Them, a form of treason. The ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller might find no wrongdoing, but if he charges that Trump aides engaged in collusion, quid pro quos, and/or financial transactions with Russia, or concludes that the president obstructed justice, we will be thrust into a constitutional crisis. Trump will likely denounce any attempt to force him from office as "a coup." Tens of millions of furious partisans will believe him. What happens then? Our norms, institutions, and the rule of law will be sorely tested, and we'll find out what remains of the ties that bind us.

6-23-17 Germany quashes gay men's convictions and offers compensation
Germany quashes gay men's convictions and offers compensation
Germany's parliament has voted to quash the convictions of tens of thousands of gay men criminalised under notorious historical anti-homosexual laws. The law, only fully repealed in West Germany in 1994, dates to 1871 but was rarely enforced until the Nazi era. An estimated 5,000 surviving victims will receive €3,000 (£2,630; $3,350) in compensation along with €1,500 per year spent in jail. Justice Minister Heiko Maas called the new law a "belated act of justice". It "created unimaginable suffering, which led to self-denial, sham marriages, harassment and blackmail", he said. The law, known as Paragraph 175, outlawed "sexual acts contrary to nature... be it between people of the male gender or between people and animals". Sex between women was never criminalised. Under the Nazis, the offence was punishable with 10 years of forced labour, with tens of thousands of men sent to prison or concentration camps, where many perished. Between 1949 and 1969, when the law was relaxed, 50,000 men were prosecuted and there were a further 14,000 cases until 1994. (Webmaster's comment: America should do the same and compensate the tens of thoudands of women who were involuntarily sterilized and genitally mutilated in America by American doctors before those things finally became illegal in 1996!

6-23-17 Biggest Pride
Biggest Pride
Some 3 million people flocked to São Paulo this week to attend what may have been the world’s largest gay pride parade. The focus of the massive rally was supposed to be the threat of religious fundamentalism and attempts by religious conservatives in Brazil’s congress to roll back LGBT rights. The parade’s official motto was “Whatever our beliefs, no religion is law.” But O Globo reported that many revelers carried signs protesting against the government of President Michel Temer, who is under investigation for corruption and bribery.

6-23-17 Why Manning leaked secrets
Why Manning leaked secrets
Chelsea Manning is enjoying freedom for the first time, said Matthew Shaer in The New York Times Magazine. In May, the Army private was released from military prison after President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. But Manning felt she had been trapped in her own personal prison her entire life. Born as a male in Oklahoma, Manning, then named Bradley, had known she wanted to be a girl since she was 5. At school, she was bullied for her effeminate manner. “I would come home crying,” says Manning, 29, “and if my dad was there, he’d say, ‘Just quit crying and man up.’” Eventually, she sought out the structure of the military. But after being deployed in Iraq, where Manning sifted through hundreds of military reports, the stress of the tragedies she was reading about began to weigh on her. Manning downloaded every file she could get and gave them to WikiLeaks. After serving nearly seven years in jail, Manning feels free for the first time, because of the commutation of her sentence and her decision to transition. She denies that her gender dysphoria played any role in the leaks. “My values would have been the same. The things I care about would have been the same.”

6-23-17 The GOP’s health-care muddle
The GOP’s health-care muddle
“Are congressional Republicans about to walk into a trap of their own making?” asked Jonathan Bernstein. Virtually every Republican in Congress ran on “repealing and replacing Obamacare,” but the party never came up with a coherent plan that could fulfill its grandiose promises of better care for less money. So now the Senate is trying to rush through a bill in secret that will almost certainly be highly unpopular. All indications are that the legislation will reduce subsidies to people buying policies on the exchanges, raise their deductibles, and force states to push millions of low-income people off Medicaid. Nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes on the wealthy will be cut. The political cost of this “symbolic” victory could be very high: Just as with Obamacare, “Trumpcare” will be blamed “for everything that goes wrong with anyone’s health care”; unlike with Obamacare, most people will see their benefits reduced. “The results could easily contribute to electoral disaster for the party in the 2018 and 2020 elections.” If Republicans are lucky, they won’t get the necessary 50 votes in the Senate. It’ll be a political embarrassment, but not nearly as damaging as taking permanent ownership of a “Trumpcare” plan that few people like.

6-23-17 5 mind-blowing things about the GOP's 'Better Care' act
5 mind-blowing things about the GOP's 'Better Care' act
After weeks of lock-down secrecy, Senate Republicans have finally released their version of TrumpCare. It's called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), and it's quite a sight to behold. Apparently realizing this is their one shot to kill ObamaCare and remake the whole health-care safety net, the Republicans seemed to have crammed every last ounce of cruelty and hypocrisy they could muster into the bill. Here's a rundown of the BCRA's greatest hits.

  1. It's basically a plan to destroy Medicaid.
  2. Its subsidies for private insurance premiums are terrible.
  3. All this pays for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
  4. It would hypocritically resurrect insurer "bailouts."
  5. It brazenly thumbs its nose at Senate rules.

6-23-17 Straight Talk
Straight Talk
Straight talk, after a Russian Orthodox Church leader who’s friends with Vladimir Putin declared that men should stop shaving to “protect themselves from homosexuality.” Metropolitan Kornily said, “The Lord created everyone with a beard,” and that shaving makes men weak and effeminate.

6-23-17 A Haunted House?
A Haunted House?
A Scottish couple is offering to pay a live-in nanny $64,000 a year and great benefits—so long as the new hire is willing to work in a haunted house. The husband and wife admitted in a job listing that their five previous nannies had quit the gig after getting spooked while taking care of their two young children. Each nanny cited “supernatural incidents” at the family’s historic home as the reason for leaving, “including strange noises, broken glass, and furniture moving.” The couple said they wanted “to be as up-front as possible to find the right person.”

6-23-17 Christian values are under attack?
Christian values are under attack?
In a survey of Americans in small towns and rural areas, 68% of respondents say that their values are different from those of people in urban areas. 56% of rural Americans believe that the federal government aids people in cities more than them, and 78% of rural Republicans said Christian values are under attack.

6-23-17 School’s Authoritative Nature
School’s Authoritative Nature
A Pennsylvania high school valedictorian had his microphone cut off in the middle of his speech when he began criticizing the school’s “authoritative nature.” Peter Butera received a standing ovation from fellow students when the principal ordered him off the stage for saying that administrators suppressed student expression. “Cutting the microphone,” Butera said, “proved my point to be true.”

6-23-17 Censorship Anyone?
Censorship Anyone?
A Pennsylvania radio host resigned after his bosses ordered him to stop criticizing President Trump. WTPA’s Bruce Bond said his general manager told him “it is not permissible on WTPA airwaves to talk disrespectfully of the president,” and that angry listeners had threatened “advertiser boycotts.” Bond chose to quit, saying he couldn’t “walk on eggshells” every time politics or Trump came up.

6-23-17 Kelly: Did she promote or expose Jones?
Kelly: Did she promote or expose Jones?
“Where’s the line between covering a scoundrel as a news figure and giving him a promotional platform?” said Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times. That’s the question hanging over new NBC host Megyn Kelly this week, after she interviewed deranged conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on her newsmagazine Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly. “Aside from what seemed like a blatant grab for attention and ratings,” said Don Kaplan in the New York Daily News, “there was no good reason to hand over NBC’s prime-time audience to Jones”—a “frightening, sweaty, tinfoil-hat--wearing nutjob” who through his website,, has made a small fortune peddling crackpot claims. Among them: Hillary Clinton ran a child sex-trafficking ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, and the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax. Worse, Kelly put a spotlight on Jones’ ugly lies on Father’s Day, “even as still-grieving parents in Newtown, Conn., pleaded with her not to go with the story. What an insult.”

6-23-17 Minimun wage is a joke
Minimun wage is a joke
There is no place in the U.S. where a person working a full-time minimum-wage job could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of his or her income, a common budgeting standard, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Nationwide, you would need to earn $21.21 an hour on average to afford a two-bedroom home—nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

6-23-17 Supreme Court to weigh gerrymandering
Supreme Court to weigh gerrymandering
he Supreme Court this week agreed to review a landmark gerrymandering case that could have a radical impact on the way district lines are drawn across the country. The case involves a dispute over district lines in Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges ruled last year that the state’s Republican lawmakers had pushed through an electoral map so partisan, it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment. In the past, the justices have invalidated district lines that discriminated against minorities—but rarely those that favored one political party over another. If the court upholds the federal panel’s decision, hundreds of safely Republican or Democratic seats nationwide could potentially be up for grabs.

6-23-17 Cuba: Trump rolls back Obama’s opening
Cuba: Trump rolls back Obama’s opening
President Trump’s rollback of the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba is yet another “foreign policy blunder,” said Daniel Kurtz-Phelan in Trump last week reintroduced restrictions that bar Americans from traveling to Cuba without a licensed tour group and make it harder to do business there—in particular banning transactions with GAESA, a powerful corporate arm of the Cuban military. Reversing Obama’s “one-sided” deal, Trump claimed, would pressure the Castro regime to make human rights reforms. In fact, the president resurrected “one of the most glaring failures” of American Cold War policy, which actually helped strengthen the Castro regime’s grip on power. Since Obama opened up Cuba, many more Cubans have cellphones and internet access, while “hundreds of thousands have become entrepreneurs and small-business owners.” Now, by pandering to a sliver of the Republican base—Miami’s aging, fervently anti-Castro Cuban exiles—the president will succeed only in keeping the Cuban people isolated.

6-23-17 Seventy-Five Years Later
Seventy-Five Years Later
A 92-year-old from Washington state has finally graduated from her old high school. Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was an honors student at Vashon Island High School in 1942 when, like some 120,000 other Japanese-Americans during World War II, she was sent to an internment camp. Matsuda Gruenewald graduated from the camp’s makeshift school and went on to become a nurse. But she always wanted her diploma from Vashon. When the school’s principal heard her story recently, he invited her to walk in the class of 2017’s commencement. “This eliminates all the heartaches,” she says.

6-23-17 Poles were complicit in the Holocaust
Poles were complicit in the Holocaust
Poland is using the ugly history of the Holocaust to justify turning away desperate migrants, said Arno Widmann. It should be easy to spot the similarities between European Jews persecuted during World War II, many of whom were denied asylum in country after country, and the persecuted African and Syrian migrants of today, who have been turned away by Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. But no. In the telling of Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, the Poles are to be likened to the Jews. At a Holocaust remembrance ceremony last week, she said the great lesson of that time was that “everything must be done to defend the safety and the lives of citizens,” meaning that Poland is right to protect its people by shutting its doors to refugees. As appalling as it is to cast the Poles of today as the victims, even more appalling is the whitewashing of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. According to Szydlo, the Poles “had nothing to do with the genocide”—in her imaginings they didn’t turn Jews over to the Nazis and didn’t participate in pogroms. Polish collaboration with the Germans, a historical fact, is conveniently forgotten because it “doesn’t fit in with Poland’s new, nationalist glorification of its past.” Well, we remember—and we won’t let them forget.

6-22-17 Philando Castile: Girl, 4, calms mother in police car
Philando Castile: Girl, 4, calms mother in police car
"I don't want you to get shooted" Philando Castile was shot and killed by the police in July 2016 in the US state of Minnesota. New footage shows Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter, who witnessed the shooting, being held in a police vehicle immediately afterwards. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter last week. (Webmaster's comment: What kind of country is it that we live in where children have to learn to help save their parents when the police have murdered one of them!)

6-21-17 Will the Supreme Court erode LGBT rights?
Will the Supreme Court erode LGBT rights?
While it's tempting to begin the analysis of the future of LGBT rights from the assumption that lesbians' and gays' rights to intimacy and marriage will stand, that's dangerous thinking. A Supreme Court shaped by President Donald Trump, especially if and when Justice Anthony Kennedy retires, could not only block progress but actually erase existing LGBT rights. That prospect looks increasingly likely. The only formal principle that counsels against the Court overturning the cases that established rights to intimacy and marriage — stare decisis, meaning "to stand by things decided" — is far from an ironclad guarantee against encroachment or even reversal. When a federal appellate court rules on a legal issue, even if the ruling springs from a three-judge panel that may not represent the full court, it sets precedent. Each panel that hears a related case afterward is bound by these decisions, even when the decisions have errors or hinge on an outdated principle — say, for example, the notion that discriminating against someone because of the sex of persons to whom they are attracted isn't sex discrimination. (Webmaster's comment: Prepare to go back to the closet. And to be beaten senseless by homophobes!)

  • How can precedents be overturned?
    • The principal exception lies in instances of a major new development — a clear-cut Supreme Court opinion, for example. Of course, it is a matter of debate how directly a Supreme Court decision must undercut precedent before a lower court can deviate.
  • What could SCOTUS do to roll back rights?
    • If a Trumped-up Supreme Court shies from a full-frontal assault on gay rights, their reluctance would likely stem not from stare decisis but from the jurisprudential gymnastics that would be required to walk Obergefell v. Hodges back without disrupting other precedent on marriage — and, more compellingly, without risking a blowback in public opinion. There are hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples throughout the United States. Public opinion favors LGBT rights broadly and marriage overwhelmingly. Overruling landmark gay rights cases could generate a backlash that sees LGBT rights reinstated through legislation.

6-21-17 In US, 10.2% of LGBT Adults Now Married to Same-Sex Spouse
In US, 10.2% of LGBT Adults Now Married to Same-Sex Spouse
Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states could not prohibit same-sex marriages, 10.2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse. That is up from 7.9% in the months prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but only marginally higher than the 9.6% measured in the first year after the ruling.

  • Percentage married to same-sex spouse up from 7.9% two years ago
  • Sharp decline in same-sex domestic partnerships
  • LGBT men more likely to be married than LGBT women

6-21-17 Gay torment made NFL star Ryan O'Callaghan plan suicide
Gay torment made NFL star Ryan O'Callaghan plan suicide
The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lineman told Outsports that fear of rejection spurred him to hide his homosexuality. He even built a cabin near his Kansas City home and bought guns, planning to take his secret to the grave. It is still exceedingly rare for top-flight male US athletes to come out. The 33-year-old told Outsports, a website focused on LGBT issues in sport, that he realised he was gay while at high school in a conservative northern California town. The 6ft 7in, 330lb (149kg) hulk saw the ultra-macho world of American football as the perfect camouflage for his true identity. "No one is going to assume the big football player is gay," he said. "It's why a football team is such a good place to hide." A litany of sporting injuries eventually led O'Callaghan into painkiller addiction. "It helped with the pain of the injuries, and with the pain of being gay," he told Outsports.

6-21-17 Woman demands white doctor in Canada to see her son at local clinic
Woman demands white doctor in Canada to see her son at local clinic
A video showing a woman in Canada demanding that a "white doctor" look at her sick son has gone viral. In the footage, taken at a clinic in Mississauga, Ontario, she says that her son has chest pains but can be heard being racist towards staff. When she is told that no such doctor is available, the woman gets angry. Police said that no allegation of assault had been made by anyone involved and the matter was closed. In the four-minute video, the woman is heard repeatedly asking that her son be seen by a "white doctor". She is told by a staff member that her child has to be seen by a paediatrician and that no doctor fits her description. She responds: "So you're saying in the whole entire building, that there's not one white doctor? Can I see a doctor please, that's white? That doesn't have brown teeth, that speaks English." Fellow patients can be heard urging the woman to go to the hospital. She refuses, saying she had already been there and they only had "brown doctors that did not help my kid". She then uses a racial slur to describe the doctor and says: "Being white in this country, I should just shoot myself. My kid is part not white, so can we get someone to see him that at least speaks English."(Webmaster's comment: President Trump has unleased the not-so-well hidden racism in whites in north America.)

6-21-17 Philando Castile death: Police footage released
Philando Castile death: Police footage released
A video showing the fatal shooting of a black Minnesota motorist by a police officer has been released days after the officer was acquitted. Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July, and the aftermath was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend. The shocking 10-minute video shows a calm, polite encounter between the two men that escalated quickly. Mr Yanez says he feared for his life and Mr Castile did not follow orders. The 29-year-old police officer was found not guilty on charges of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon for endangering the safety of Mr Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, who were both in the car at the time. He has since been fired from the police force. (Webmaster's comment: Another case of the police murdering a black man and getting away with it!)

6-21-17 Americans Slow to Back Interracial Marriage
Americans Slow to Back Interracial Marriage
Fifty years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that a Virginia ban on marriage between whites and blacks was unconstitutional, thus striking down such laws everywhere they existed in the country. In advance of this ruling, Gallup found the American public evenly split: 48% of U.S. adults in January 1965 approved of laws making marriage between blacks and whites a crime, while 46% disapproved. U.S. Opposition Was an Outlier Among Western Nations: More than seven in 10 Americans (72%) disapproved of white-nonwhite marriages, in contrast with only 21% of residents in Sweden, 23% in the Netherlands, 25% in France, 34% in Finland, 35% in Switzerland and 36% in Greece.

6-21-17 US gun laws: Colorado to arm teachers in classrooms
US gun laws: Colorado to arm teachers in classrooms
Teachers are being trained to carry guns in classrooms in Colorado in order to protect children as part of a scheme motivated by a school massacre in 2012. The three-day course, which consists of firearms and medical training, was launched on Tuesday in Weld County. Seventeen members of staff who "would like to be considered armed first responders" have so far taken part. The pilot programme will allow volunteers to enter schools with guns under US "concealed carry" laws. Teachers were taken to a shooting range in Weld County, near Denver, where they were tested on their abilities with weapons. The course, provided by the Faculty Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response group (Faster), was set up by parents, law enforcement officers and medical experts who believe that US schools are a "soft target" for violence. The group refers to schools as "victim zones". (Webmaster's comment: You can see where this is going! Everyone is going have to pack a weapon and be ready to draw and kill. Gun fights will be daily events in all communities. Innocent bystanders will be killed at least as often as the bad guys. The good, the bad, and the innocent will all be the victims of our INSANE love of guns. Noboby will even be able to imagine what a civilized society was supposed to be like!)

6-20-17 Terrorism Fears Drive More in US to Avoid Crowds
Terrorism Fears Drive More in US to Avoid Crowds
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults say the threat of terrorism makes them less willing to attend events where there are thousands of people. This is up from 27% in July 2011, the last time Gallup asked the question. It is also the highest level recorded since Gallup began asking the question after 9/11. (Webmaster's comment: If we do this the terrorists are winning!)

  • 38% of Americans less willing to attend large events due to terrorism
  • Previous high was 32% in 2002
  • 46% less willing to travel overseas due to terrorism concerns

6-20-17 UK foxes thankfully spared the baying pack, unlike Theresa May
UK foxes thankfully spared the baying pack, unlike Theresa May
One good outcome of the hung parliament chaos will be a Queen's speech devoid of an utterly unscientific vow to resume fox-hunting, says Stephen Harris. Talk of bringing back fox hunting is over for now after this idea was quietly erased from the Queen’s speech when the enfeebled Conservative government outlined legislative plans today. The pledge always seemed odd. After all, fox hunting is not a high priority for most UK voters – the vast majority oppose lifting the ban by repealing the Hunting Act. This feeling has been steadily rising and now includes 84 per cent of rural voters. Traditionally, though, animal welfare has not been a major decider of how people vote – in 2005 just 14 per cent thought that it was “very important”. A small group of Tories still counted on this being the case and persuaded prime minister Theresa May to include the promise of a free vote on fox hunting in the 2017 manifesto: despite assertions it was necessary to control fox numbers and reduce lamb losses, the key aim was to keep a hard core of pro-hunt rural voters on board. But it proved toxic, losing May votes, and possibly her majority – animal welfare is an increasingly important political issue, especially among young voters. A reprieve is welcome. The backdrop is that British foxes are in rapid decline despite the 12-year ban on hunting. The British Trust for Ornithology, which has an international reputation for the quality of its monitoring schemes, estimated that numbers declined by 34 per cent between 1996 and 2014, and continue to drop. (Webmaster's comment: The male drive to just kill something, anything, is still there and strong. Especially in the United States. We pay for that drive everyday.)

6-20-17 Why ecstasy and opioids should replace Prozac and Xanax
Why ecstasy and opioids should replace Prozac and Xanax
Yet a large number of well-controlled studies, and the meta-analytic research that puts them in perspective, find that SSRIs (compared with placebos) have little or no benefit for people with mild to moderate levels of depression. Their utility for severe depression is still subject to debate, with many studies showing little or no improvement, and a definitive impact on anxiety disorders has not been demonstrated. Nor are SSRIs free of serious side effects, including sexual dysfunction, rapid weight gain and, most troubling, suicidal ideation, especially in younger patients. SSRIs have not lived up to their promise. The question is whether there are drugs that can relieve emotional or psychological problems effectively and reliably, without debilitating side effects. Historically, humans have relied on a panoply of drugs to remedy emotional concerns. Our Victorian-era ancestors used opiates (eg, laudanum) to minimize anxiety, melancholia, and sleep problems. Opiates are still acknowledged as the most effective defense against pain — and also anxiety, in limited circumstances (e.g., routine colonoscopy). The indigenous people of South America have long bolstered their physical and mental endurance with coca leaves; and early 20th-century Europeans (such as Sigmund Freud) used its derivative, cocaine, to sharpen their wits. Self-actualization, presumably an overall boon to mental health, has been enhanced with natural psychedelics (e.g., peyote, ayahuasca) throughout the Americas for at least 1,000 years. And the youth of more recent times (re)discovered the value of cannabis in extending their aesthetic, social, even intellectual horizons. (Webmaster's comment: However: When regulators do too little)

6-20-17 A bird flu pandemic looms but the US is holding back the fight
A bird flu pandemic looms but the US is holding back the fight
Just two mutations could turn H7N9 flu into a deadly airborne strain, but restrictions meant to protect us from a possible pandemic are making it harder to combat the next one. BIRD flu is back. The H7N9 virus has had its deadliest year since it emerged in 2013. Since October, 714 people in China have become seriously ill, almost as many as in the previous four years combined. More than a third of those people have died. The virus is thought to be causing milder, undiagnosed disease in far more people, and each infection is a chance for it to evolve. The idea that H7N9 could gain the ability to spread readily via humans keeps virologists up at night. But restrictions on research into potentially pandemic viruses, put in place after concerns about another bird flu, are making it harder to study today’s threat. Isn’t it time we conquered our fears of what might happen so we can avoid a real pandemic? So far H7N9 has spread only in poultry across part of China, and to people who have caught it directly from birds – except for a few recent cases of limited human-to-human spread within families.

6-20-17 European Court blasts Russia 'gay propaganda' law
European Court blasts Russia 'gay propaganda' law
Russia's "gay propaganda" law is discriminatory and encourages homophobia, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. The Strasbourg judges said Russia had discriminated against three gay rights activists who opposed the law. It was adopted in 2013, banning promotion of homosexuality among people under 18. The law "reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia", the ruling said. Gay rights groups condemned the law. Under the law, private individuals deemed to be promoting "homosexual behaviour among minors" face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£67; $85), while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Businesses and schools can be fined up to 500,000 roubles. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay prejudice is rife. Critics see the propaganda law as part of a state campaign to marginalise LGBT activists, whose work includes dissemination of sexual health advice. The Strasbourg court said the fines imposed on three Russian gay rights activists violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to the court, the legislation aimed at curbing promotion of homosexuality was "not clearly defined" and was implemented in an arbitrary way. It "served no legitimate public interest", the court said.

6-19-17 US Supreme Court to rule on gerrymandering
US Supreme Court to rule on gerrymandering
A lower court ruled that voters in the state of Wisconsin had their constitutional rights violated. The Supreme Court recently ruled that North Carolina had carried out unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The Supreme Court will soon determine if gerrymandering, where voting districts are re-drawn in order to favour political parties, is legal. They will review a state ruling which found that officials engaged in "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander". A federal court ruled in Wisconsin that Republican lawmakers had violated the US Constitution's equal protection under the law and free speech clauses. The case will set a legal precedent on the long-time political practice. In May, the Supreme Court invalidated state electoral maps in North Carolina, after finding that Republicans legislators re-drew them to diminish the political clout of African-American voters.

The Evolution of North Carolina's 12th Congressional District. NUTS!


6-19-17 Guns kill 1,300 US children every year, study finds
Guns kill 1,300 US children every year, study finds
About 1,300 US children under the age of 17 die from gun-related injuries per year, a government study has found. Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that guns seriously wounded about 5,800 children each year. Boys accounted for 82% of all child firearm deaths while black children were 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun, according to the study. More than half of these deaths were homicides while 38% were ruled suicide. The study, published in Pediatrics on Monday, also found 6% of firearm-related deaths were fatalities from accidental gun injuries. "Firearm injuries are a leading cause of death among US children aged one to 17 years and contribute substantially each year to premature death, illness and disability of children," said CDC's Katherine Fowler, who led the study. "About 19 children a day die or are medically treated in an emergency department for a gunshot wound in the US," she told Reuters. CDC researchers examined national data in what they describe as "the most comprehensive examination of current firearm-related deaths and injuries among children in the United States to date". The study found a 60% increase in gun suicides from 2007-15, according an analysis of national injury records. (Webmaster's comment: Everyone supports the right to bear arms until their child dies from being shot!)

6-19-17 'Trump death' in Julius Caesar prompts threats to wrong theatres
'Trump death' in Julius Caesar prompts threats to wrong theatres
Several theatres in the US have received threats and complaints after a show in New York depicted the assassination of a Julius Caesar made to look like President Donald Trump. Messages wished death upon theatre staff at unrelated establishments in an apparent mix-up. It appears complainers did not check which theatre they were angry about. The title character in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, written in 1599, is stabbed to death by Roman senators. The play draws on the real-life assassination of Julius Caesar, 2,061 years ago. In a version of the classic play running at the Public Theater in New York for the past month, the title role was played by a man in a suit with a red tie and orange-tinted blond hair. Anger over the decision led several sponsors to remove their funding and hecklers disrupted performances on more than one night. (Webmaster's comment: What would you expect? Many Trump supporters are an ignorant and a violently inclined lot. They just want to lash out and blame someone other than themselves for the fact that they are losers and know they always will be.)

6-19-17 Virginia Muslim girl found dead near mosque
Virginia Muslim girl found dead near mosque
Police in the US state of Virginia have found the remains believed to be of a 17-year-old Muslim girl who was assaulted near a mosque before disappearing. The teenager, identified as Nabra Hussein, was walking with friends when they got into a dispute with a driver in Herndon, police said. The man left the car and assaulted the girl, they said. She then disappeared. A 22-year-old suspect has been arrested and charged with murder. The reason for the attack was still unknown, but hate crime was one of the options being investigated, reports said. (Webmaster's comment: Notice that the cowardly white males that hate muslims in America usually only attack safe targets like women and children.)

6-19-17 French election: Macron team complete rout with Assembly win
French election: Macron team complete rout with Assembly win
French President Emmanuel Macron is celebrating a convincing victory in National Assembly elections that gives him the mandate to push through wide-ranging social and economic reforms. Three-quarters of the assembly are new members and a record 223 of the 577 MPs are women. Mr Macron's fledgling La République en Marche (LREM) won 308 seats with 43% of the vote. But the 42.64% turnout is a record low for modern-day France. Together with its centrist MoDem allies, LREM now forms a bloc of 350 seats, well over the 289 seats needed to control parliament. The election result means that a party that only began life in April 2016 now has complete control of France's lower house of parliament and that means the president can press on with steering through his broad programme of reform. (Webmaster's comment: The fact that 40% of the parliament's members are women indicates a kinder, gentler future for France's citizens. We need to do this in America too, and stop electing males with all their greed, sexual and violence problems.)

6-17-17 Philando Castile death: Police officer found not guilty
Philando Castile death: Police officer found not guilty
A Minnesota police officer who shot dead a black man during a traffic stop has been found not guilty. The verdict sparked protests in the city of St Paul, where demonstrators temporarily blocked main roads. Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile after stopping his car in Falcon Heights last July in an incident live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend. Speaking on Friday, his mother Valerie said the verdict proved "the system continues to fail black people". The case - one of a series of deaths of black men and boys at the hands of US police - prompted widespread outrage. About 2,000 people marched through St Paul after the verdict, blocking traffic and commuter trains while chanting: "Yanez guilty." Diamond Reynolds' video, which showed him covered in blood as an officer pointed his gun at him, was viewed by millions around the world. (Webmaster's comment: Let's face it. The police in our country can kill blacks at any time for any reason and get away with it. This is not a country with rights and liberty for all. It is the country of rights and liberty for white males.)

6-17-17 Cuba denounces Trump's policy rollback
Cuba denounces Trump's policy rollback
Cuba's government has denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to roll back on policy changes towards the island nation. However, it says it will still co-operate with its larger neighbour. Speaking earlier in Miami, Florida, Mr Trump said he was reimposing certain travel and trade restrictions eased by the Obama administration, condemning a "completely one-sided deal". But he is not reversing key diplomatic and commercial ties. "The government of Cuba denounces the new measures toughening the embargo," Cuban state TV said. But it also reiterated "its willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation". Barack Obama attempted to thaw relations by loosening trade and tourism bans. President Trump says his new policy will tighten rules on travel and on sending funds to Cuba. (Webmaster's comment: The world's biggest bully country picks on the world's smallest! We are back in grade school!)

6-15-17 Six things that could topple Donald Trump's border wall
Six things that could topple Donald Trump's border wall
US President Donald Trump’s promise to build a "big, beautiful wall" between the US and Mexico was a rallying cry throughout his election campaign. As president, Mr Trump has asked for design ideas for the barrier, with a chosen few to be selected this month for a prototype showcase this summer in San Diego, California. Mr Trump says he wants a wall along half the 2,000-mile (3,100km) border - with nature, such as mountains and rivers, helping to take care of the rest. However, the route crosses difficult terrain, is home to a lot of wildlife and cuts across land owned by Native American tribes as well as private citizens. So is building the wall actually possible? Here are some of the obstacles Mr Trump will have to overcome.

  1. The geography is pretty unfriendly
    • The border is really twisty and some of it is in a river
    • There are sand dunes and mountains
    • There’s a lot of wildlife
  2. The price tag will be rather huge
    • Estimated costs for US President Donald Trump's wall
  3. Trying to get hold of the land could be a nightmare
    • Fencing introduced by George W Bush
  4. Trying to get hold of the land could be a nightmare
  5. It needs regular patrols to make it work
  6. US and Mexican border towns rely on each other
    • The rise of maquiladoras in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua

6-16-17 Travel ban rejected
Travel ban rejected
President Trump’s revised travel ban suffered another legal setback this week, as a second federal appeals court ruled against his executive order limiting travel to the U.S. from six predominantly Muslim countries. A three-judge panel from the San Francisco–based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the order lacked a sufficient national security justification and violated immigration law. Trump “exceeded the authority delegated to him by Congress,” the judges said. The unanimous decision follows a similar ruling last month by a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., which cited the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion in refusing to reinstate the order. In a tweet, Trump blasted the 9th Circuit for ruling against him “at such a dangerous time in the history of our country.”

6-16-17 Anti-sharia marches
Anti-sharia marches
Flag-waving protesters gathered in about two dozen cities across the country last week to denounce Islamic law, as part of a nationwide grassroots event billed as the “March Against Sharia.” The demonstrations were organized by ACT for America, a pro-Trump lobbyist organization that describes itself as “the NRA of national security.” ACT has labeled Islam a homophobic, misogynistic “cancer.” Activists carried signs reading “No More Muslims” and “I Don’t Take Orders From Mohammed.” A group of anti-government law-enforcement officers known as the Oath Keepers provided security for some of the marches, which attracted equally large groups of counterprotesters who chanted slogans like “No hate! No fear! Muslims are welcome here!” Several were “anti-fascist,” or “antifa,” activists dressed in black masks and hoods who scuffled with protesters.

6-16-17 Inclusion and diversity
Inclusion and diversity
Inclusion and diversity, after the Charlotte, N.C., gay pride organization refused to let a “Gays for Trump” float participate in its summer parade, saying that group does not reflect “the values of our organization.”

6-16-17 Censorship
A New Jersey high school edited out several pro-Trump messages from the student yearbook. Wall Township High School junior Grant Berardo wore a “Make America Great Again” shirt for his class photo, but was depicted wearing a blank T-shirt. His was one of at least three profiles to be edited. School district officials said they were investigating a “possible violation of First Amendment rights.”
A different New Jersey high school removed two anti-Trump artworks from a student art exhibition. Liam Shea was told by Morristown High’s principal that people “weren’t too happy” with his depiction of a pig-faced Trump next to a burning American flag. Another student’s painting was also removed. Shea’s mother said the school had censored political views. “That’s what art is for,” she said.

6-16-17 Trump not welcome?
Trump not welcome?
President Trump’s planned state visit to Britain might be canceled because of fears that he would be greeted by massive street protests. Trump expressed his unease about the visit during a recent phone call with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, The Guardian reported this week, saying he didn’t want to go if large-scale demonstrations against him were expected. The White House denied that Trump discussed the visit during the call. The U.S. president is not popular in Britain. Earlier this year, the British government rejected a petition signed by nearly 2 million people calling for his visit to be canceled or downgraded. Trump further angered Britons by attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan on social media just hours after terrorists killed eight people in the capital. A campaign on social media, #ShowYourRumpToTrump, is calling on Brits to moon the president if he does visit.

6-16-17 Columbine massacre follow through
Columbine massacre follow through
Since the Columbine massacre 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students, attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools, have experienced a shooting on campus.

6-16-17 Trumpcare: The GOP’s secret plan
Trumpcare: The GOP’s secret plan
While the nation was distracted by Trump scandals, Senate Republicans have “moved to cripple health care,” said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. They did it in secret, because they know the only way to ram through their “hopelessly unpopular” Obamacare repeal is to hide the details. With “no hearings and no debate,” GOP senators have crafted what they’re peddling as a kinder version of the House bill—the one the Congressional Budget Office predicts would cost 23 million Americans their health coverage, cut federal subsidies for people to buy policies in half, and reduce Medicaid spending by $834 billion. Leaks indicate the Senate bill will slightly enlarge the subsidies offered in the House bill, and put off the painful Medicaid cuts for as long as seven years—far past the midterm elections. For eight years, Republicans insisted “they could produce a better health care–reform plan,” said Jonathan Chait in But their only plan is to give the rich a huge tax cut and slash health benefits for the poor and middle class “with the minimum level of transparency or accountability.”

6-16-17 The battle over Medicaid
The battle over Medicaid
Obamacare expanded Medicaid to cover more Americans, but Republicans say the program for the poor is too costly. Politically, it’s very difficult to cut a popular benefits ­program—which Medi­caid decidedly is. A Kaiser Family Foun­da­tion poll last month found that more than 70 percent of Americans favor maintaining current levels of Medicaid ­funding—and that even 71 percent of Republicans support continuing Obama­care’s Medi­caid expansion. Brown Uni­ver­sity political scientist James Morone says Medi­caid now provides “health care for a huge chunk of the country,” and that it’s “really, really complicated to mess around with.” Indeed, the GOP plan would directly affect millions of Trump supporters, because many of those benefiting from Medi­caid expansion live in rural areas. In 2015, a new study found, Medi­caid covered 16 percent of adults and 45 percent of children in small towns and rural areas. Joan Alker, executive director of the George­town Uni­ver­sity Center for Children and Families, says, “There is no doubt that children and families in small towns would be disproportionately harmed by cuts to Medicaid.”

  • Who does Medicaid cover?
  • What do Republicans want to do?
  • How well does Medicaid work?
  • What did they find?
  • Does Medicaid fund that care?
  • Is Medicaid reform possible?
  • A tough sell to the public

6-16-17 Failure may lead to single-payer
Failure may lead to single-payer
“Single-payer health care is all the rage,” said Reihan Salam. Until recently, liberals who pushed for a Canadian-style, government-run universal health care system were widely seen as “hopelessly naïve.” No longer. Single-payer is now emerging “as the consensus position” for House Democrats, with 112 of the 193 members co-sponsoring the “Medicare for All Act.” California is also considering a state-run single-payer system. Don’t be surprised if the 2020 Democratic nominee runs on a single-payer platform. The reality is that single-payer “would be a costly mistake,” with radical implications for our health-care system, but it’s becoming more popular because both Obamacare and Republican alternatives to it are so flawed. The Obamacare insurance exchanges have failed to be competitive in many states, so many Democrats want to cut insurance companies out as middlemen. Republicans, meanwhile, have proven “utterly incapable of offering an attractive alternative” to Obamacare. Their current plan is “an inchoate mess”—nothing but Obamacare with much smaller subsidies. If the public thinks it must choose between the Republican plan and Medicare for all, “Republicans shouldn’t be surprised” if a majority chooses single-payer.

6-16-17 Sessions targets medical marijuana
Sessions targets medical marijuana
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked congressional leaders to allow the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana providers. In a May letter made public this week, Sessions asked lawmakers to undo federal medical-marijuana protections, arguing that the bipartisan 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from interfering with laws in the 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana, was unwise “in the midst of a historic drug epidemic.” The drug epidemic Sessions refers to is an opioid, not marijuana, crisis, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who sponsored the amendment, said the move would harm “veterans and other suffering Americans who...are helped dramatically by medical marijuana.”

6-16-17 America’s hidden class system
America’s hidden class system
America pretends to be a country without a class system, said Richard Reeves, but for the wealthy, “the class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency.” Those in the top 20 percent of income distribution—making more than $200,000 a year—have been getting a larger and larger share of the country’s wealth pie, widening the gap with the struggling middle class. The upper middle class likes to believe the U.S. is “a meritocracy” where wealth and success are earned rather than inherited. But people in this income group do everything possible “to give their own children a leg up”—and do so quite successfully. Research shows that most of those born into the top 20 percent stay there, or at worst drop one quintile. Why? Well-to-do people are able to live in enclaves protected by exclusionary zoning, so their property taxes can lavishly fund elite public schools; if the affluent live in cities, their children attend exclusive private schools. These children also benefit from expensive tutors and private coaching, and from alumni preferences at the nation’s best colleges. The result is that today “the U.S. is more calcified by class than Britain.” So please, let’s stop pretending otherwise.

6-16-17 What happens when disaster strikes?
What happens when disaster strikes?
If a disaster comes—and it will—“the Trump administration is not ready for it,” said Noah Rothman. Eventually, every White House “is tested to the brink by some exogenous, black-swan event.” By this point most administrations are “largely staffed up,” but “the Trump administration is not.” He’s nominated just 117 of the 559 appointments requiring Senate confirmation. As hurricane season arrives, with forecasters predicting more storms than average, vacancies at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies have left disaster relief and preparedness in the hands of acting directors and low-profile bureaucrats. If the U.S. is confronted with a geopolitical crisis in, say, Qatar, Iran, or North Korea, our State Department is woefully thin on crucial diplomatic staff. In the wake of the Ebola and Zika epidemics, “the prospect of a catastrophic health event looms larger than ever,” yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no permanent director. Consumed by political disasters “almost entirely of his own making,” Trump seems focused only on potential political damage and protecting his image. But he’s apparently given little thought to the possibility of a real-life cataclysm, and eventually he—and Americans—will pay the price.

6-16-17 Infowars host Alex Jones
Infowars host Alex Jones
Megyn Kelly and NBC faced a backlash this week from advertisers and parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School over her interview with Infowars host Alex Jones. A conspiracy theorist, the ultraconservative Jones has repeatedly said on his web-based radio show that the 2012 massacre—when 20-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn.—was a government hoax designed to hurt the cause of gun rights. JPMorgan Chase has pulled ads from all NBC News programming until after the interview airs this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, Kelly was dropped as host of this week’s annual gala for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, an anti-gun-violence group started by victims’ survivors. Co-founder Nicole Hockley said the group opposed giving “any voice or platform to Alex Jones.” Kelly defended her Jones interview, saying it was important to “shine the light” on the Infowars host.

6-16-17 Australia announces national gun amnesty
Australia announces national gun amnesty
Australia is bringing in its first national gun amnesty since 1996 because of the growing terrorism threat and an influx of illegal arms in the country. During the three-month amnesty running from 1 July, people can hand in unregistered weapons without the fear of prosecution, the government says. Those caught outside that period face fines of up to A$280,000 ($212,730; £166,480) or up to 14 years in prison. It is estimated that there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia. Justice Minister Michael Keenan said illegal guns were used in recent terror attacks in Australia as well as for organised crime. "This is an opportunity for people to present the guns to authorities, no questions asked and with no penalty," he said. "If people don't take that opportunity, the penalties for owning an unregistered or illegal gun in Australia are very severe." Australia brought in a similar amnesty deal after the 1996 shootings in Port Arthur.

6-16-17 Serbia to have first gay prime minister as Ana Brnabic is chosen
Serbia to have first gay prime minister as Ana Brnabic is chosen
The president of Serbia has nominated a gay woman to be his prime minister in a double first for the deeply conservative Balkan state. Ana Brnabic was chosen by the new President, Aleksandar Vucic. Her approval by parliament will be largely a formality, as his party and its allies hold an overwhelming majority. Just a few years ago, the appointment would have been unthinkable. But EU hopeful Serbia can present it as proof of increasing tolerance. Ms Brnabic is not only Serbia's first openly gay PM, but also the first woman in that post. "I believe that Brnabic has professional and personal qualities to be prime minister," Mr Vucic told reporters, "and that along with other ministers she will work on improvement and progress of our Serbia." He made no mention of her sexuality.

6-15-17 What should web platforms do about hate speech?
What should web platforms do about hate speech?
Some companies are struggling to respond to the changing times. As white supremacists like Richard Spencer have become more prominent, so, too, has their internet presence. While hate speech has been on the internet since it's been publicly available, the digital influence Spencer and his ilk have is recent and undeniable. Once considered pariahs and trolls, racists are now emboldened in the time of President Donald Trump, and are using a number of platforms to push their message. It's a situation that's forcing free-speech advocates and digital titans to question whether they have a responsibility to cut them off. For Joseph Brown, an assistant professor of political science at University of Massachusetts Boston who is petitioning website hosting and building platform Squarespace to drop customers like Spencer, the answer is simple. "Whether a private entity has any moral obligations or responsibility for what it hosts, the answer is clearly yes," Brown told Vocativ in a Facebook message. "For them to say, 'No, we have no obligation to crack down on neo-nazis,' is to say that nazism, white supremacy, anti-LGBT hate crimes, misogyny — all things these groups are involved in, directly or indirectly — are not serious problems." (Webmaster's comment: For hate speech, and those who provide a forum for it, arrest them, charge them, try them, convict them, and lock them up for a long, long time! Freedom of speech should not include advocating or providing a forum for what harms other human beings.)

6-14-17 Georgian political party puffs up its church
Georgian political party puffs up its church
A political party in Georgia is planning to buy an inflatable church to prove that it is serious about the religious organisation it founded to help men avoid conscription into the army. The Girchi (Pine cone) party has said that since authorities are trying to prove its Christian Evangelical Protestant Biblical Freedom Church of Georgia does not exist, it would purchase a church to enable its members to hold prayers, Tbilisi's Imedi TV reported. "Godless people are trying to use the lack of items that typically designate traditional religions as an argument," it said in a Facebook post. The purchase of a cheap and mobile church would enable its members to hold prayers in it, the party added, saying also that it was not afraid of "godless people armed with [large] needles". The two-year-old Girchi party opposes Georgia's compulsory military service and set up the church in April to enable it to appoint priests, who are exempt from serving. Georgian men aged 18 to 27, bar some exceptions, have to serve in the army for two years and parliament recently introduced a draft law which would enable authorities to jail those who dodge the draft. (Webmaster's comment: Inflating it with a lot of hot air would be very appropriate!)

6-14-17 Why Republicans want to hide their dirty little health-care bill
Why Republicans want to hide their dirty little health-care bill
The GOP bill is not going through the committee process. There will be no hearings. There will be no markups. It's being written in secret. Here's why. To understand why Republican senators — for whom getting on TV and in the papers is at the core of their job — would want to hide from the press, you have to know what they're up to with regard to passing a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. Right now, they are in the midst of an effort to pass a bill that will transform health care in America, a sector that now accounts for one-sixth of the nation's economy, employs 19 million Americans, and touches all of our lives. And they want to do it without anyone knowing what they're up to. Now let's compare that to how Senate Republicans plan to push through their bill to undo the ACA, which will be just as sweeping in its effects, if not more so. The GOP bill is not going through the committee process. There will be no hearings. There will be no markups, in which committees consider amendments. The bill is being written in secret by a group of 13 Republicans; even other Republican senators aren't allowed to see it. The draft won't be released publicly, because as a Senate aide told a reporter, "We aren't stupid." After all, who knows what would happen if the public got to see it? And then the plan is to push it through to a quick vote before the July 4 recess a couple of weeks from now.

6-14-17 Tunisian smoker jailed for not fasting during Ramadan
Tunisian smoker jailed for not fasting during Ramadan
A leading rights group has condemned the imprisonment of a man in Tunisia for smoking a cigarette in public during the dawn-to-dusk Muslim fast. A court in north-western Bizerte town sentenced the man to one month in jail for "public indecency". The ruling was an "absurd violation" of personal freedoms, Amnesty International said. Dozens protested on Sunday in the capital, Tunis, for the right to eat and drink in public during Ramadan. About a fortnight ago, four men were sentenced to one month in prison after eating in public. There are no laws in mainly Muslim Tunisia requiring individuals to fast or barring them from eating or smoking publicly during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Amnesty said.

6-13-17 I moved my kids out of America. It was the best parenting decision I've ever made.
I moved my kids out of America. It was the best parenting decision I've ever made.
"I really wish you'd reconsider your decision," my neighbor Steve said. He strode over, hands on hips, and added, "I hear it's dangerous down there. I'm really worried about your kids." The decision he was referring to was the radical idea that my husband and I had settled on. We were moving, along with our two young sons — at age 7 and 9 — from small town U.S.A. to a modest mountain village in Ecuador. Steve wasn't the only one with concerns. My brother, who normally lauded my parenting choices, was ominously silent on this one, afraid that talking about it would make it real, give it life and validation. Some of our friends turned on us, calling us terrible parents, or saying we were unpatriotic. Why would we want to leave the land of the free and the home of the brave? And where was Ecuador, anyway? Somewhere near Mexico? Africa? We were taking our children to a country that most Americans can't even point to on a map. What were we thinking? Well, we were thinking a lot of things, and taking a number of factors into consideration. In America, it seemed every third child was taking pharmaceuticals to treat behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression. High school students were unloading automatic weapons into their classmates. Opioid use was reaching all new highs. Bank executives were defrauding their customers and Wall Street was walking an increasingly thin tight rope. It felt like The American Dream as we knew it was all but gone, having transformed into a shadowy unknown. We fretted about what the future would hold for our family. We thought maybe, just maybe, a simpler lifestyle somewhere else was the answer. And so, in 2011, our family walked up to the edge of the unknown, took a deep breath, and jumped. (Webmaster's comment: Wendy DeChambeau proves it was the right thing to do. There are a lot of places in the world without the daily violence and death and without a leader who is a clear and present danger to the well-being of the nation.)

6-13-17 South Africa's Helen Zille makes unreserved apology for tweets
South Africa's Helen Zille makes unreserved apology for tweets
Helen Zille, former leader of South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), has publicly apologised for her tweets saying there were some positive aspects of colonialism. She said her comments in March were "insensitive to South Africans". Ms Zille will step down from all party leadership positions but remain the premier of Western Cape province. The row threatened the DA's popularity, which is trying to extend its appeal among black people. Party leader Mmusi Maimane said the deal will help DA focus on the 2019 general election. (Webmaster's comment: Colonialism was the Western theft of land, theft of resources, rape and murder of all rightfull owners and indigious and native civilizations of the non-western lands of the world. Even worse when finally granted freedom NOTHING was given back. All the land and wealth stolen was kept by the colonial owners leaving a "free people" who owned nothing of what they once had, which was once theirs by right. We destroyed these civilizations and cultures without a second thought of their rights. These indigious and native civilizations would have done fine without us, or not. It was for them to decide how to live, not us!)

Western Civilization Comes To America!

6-13-17 Orbiting ‘space nation’ data centre could avoid all Earthly laws
Orbiting ‘space nation’ data centre could avoid all Earthly laws
The self-styled Asgardia space nation plans to launch a data-filled satellite this year. Could international space law stop them if they decided to go rogue? Self-styled “space nation” Asgardia is planning to put a data centre in orbit, beyond the reach of Earthly laws, but lawyers say that leaving the planet isn’t enough to get around them. As more organisations seek to exploit space in this way, it’s time we decide how to govern the final frontier. Asgardia announced itself last year as a space-based nation, independent of countries on Earth, and has since convinced 180,000 people to become citizens by filling out an online form. Now it is planning its first foray into orbit, with the launch later this year of a compact satellite called Asgardia-1 holding a 512-gigabyte solid state drive filled with data chosen by its citizens. Asgardia-1 will hitch a ride aboard a resupply mission to the International Space Station, and will orbit Earth for five years before burning up in the atmosphere. While in orbit, more data can be uploaded using radio signals. A spokesperson for Asgardia says the data will be vetted before being put into space to avoid any legal challenges. For now, Asgardia-1 is likely to contain family photos and messages with the data held “under Asgardian jurisdiction”. But if they really are under Asgardian jurisdiction, a similar set-up could be used as a data haven, beyond the laws of Earth. (Webmaster's comment: Just what we need. A place from which pedophiles, homophobes, terrorists, white male supremacists, religious cults, etc. can spread their evil and hatred. Bring these types of hiding places under the rule of national and international laws!)

6-13-17 Sandy Hook rage over Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones interview
Sandy Hook rage over Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones interview
An interview by NBC's anchor Megyn Kelly with InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has angered families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Finance giant JPMorgan Chase has pulled all of its adverts from NBC News until after the pre-recorded interview is aired on 18 June. And Sandy Hook Promise, an organisation formed to protect children from gun violence, announced that Ms Kelly would no longer host their annual fundraising gala on Wednesday. Some social media users have lambasted Ms Kelly for providing Jones with a national platform "to discuss controversies and conspiracies". Jones admits "some real kids" were killed at Sandy Hook but has helped push a theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was "synthetic, completely fake with actors". Twenty-six people, mostly young children, died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. For years, families of the victims have been targeted by conspiracy theorists who falsely claim that the tragedy was staged by the government in an attempt to tighten gun control laws. (Webmaster's comment: This is an evil man who should be shuned and cast out by everyone. Freedom of speech should not include outright lies and fabrications! When it does you get what what the United States has become. A racist nation of white male supremacists full of hatred for all non-whites!)

6-13-17 Panama cuts ties with Taiwan in favour of China
Panama cuts ties with Taiwan in favour of China
Panama has cut long-standing diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established relations with China, in a diplomatic coup for Beijing. The Panamanian government said it recognised there was "only one China" and considered Taiwan part of it. Taiwan expressed "anger and regret", and accused Panama of "bullying". China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province. A few countries maintain ties with Taipei instead of Beijing, and Panama is the latest to switch sides. In December last year, the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe made a similar move. Now only 20 countries have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. In recent years China has intensified its economic investment into the Central American country - home of the economically vital Panama Canal. (Webmaster's comment: Cann't imagine why any country would want to support a country supported by Trump! Reject the country of white male supremacists! Have nothing to do with them!)

6-13-17 The shared flaw of our fights against terrorism and climate change
What are we willing to give up to avert disaster? The shared flaw of our fights against terrorism and climate change
Donald Trump and Al Gore would no doubt cringe at the thought that politically speaking, they are brothers from different mothers. After all, what do the Republican president and the Democratic presidential wannabe have in common besides the fact that they are both old, white, pompous dudes who live in mansions and hate Hillary Clinton? Whether they realize it or not, they both believe in the precautionary principle — the notion that even a small chance of a catastrophic event requires sweeping measures to avert it. Nor do they care about the costs of these "sweeping measures" — both in terms of money and individual liberty. Their only disagreement is about the events in question: Trump invokes this principle in his crusade against Islamist terrorism — and Gore and his fellow global warming warriors against climate change. Dick Cheney famously declared that if there was even a "1 percent chance" of another 9/11-style attack by al Qaeda, "we have to treat it as a certainty in our response." For all of Trump's criticisms of the Iraq War, he has a natural instinct for this kind of excess. No sooner did the dastardly Manchester attack occur than Trump reiterated, as he had in his inaugural address, that this "wicked ideology must be obliterated."

6-13-17 America must not deport these Iraqi Christians
America must not deport these Iraqi Christians
To send them back to the hellhole of ISIS-controlled Iraq would be nothing short of a state-sponsored execution. Nearly 2,000 years ago, when what is now the northeastern United States was a cold, sparsely inhabited wasteland, St. Thomas the Apostle founded the ancient Church of the East in modern-day Iraq. St. Peter's blessing of the Christian community at Babylon is recorded in Scripture, among the earliest clearly established facts of ecclesiastical history. One of the many successors of this ancient body is the Chaldean Catholic Church, which arose in the 16th century after more than a millennium of slumbering acquiescence to the Nestorian heresy (explaining this very confusing error would require an entire column full of words like "dyophysite") as a particular Church, in full communion with the pope and Latin Christianity, but autonomous, with her own patriarch and a distinct liturgy and calendar. In 2003, there were something like 800,000 Christians in Iraq; it is impossible to give anything like an accurate figure now, but it is safe to say that in Mosul there are virtually none. In Baghdad, beheading, torture, bombing, rape, and desecration of their houses of worship await the hundreds of thousands who have fled should they choose to return. If Immigration and Customs Enforcement has its way, it is possible that at least 40 will be headed back to Iraq soon.

6-13-17 Jeff Sessions really wants to prosecute medical marijuana providers
Jeff Sessions really wants to prosecute medical marijuana providers
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, but he's recently been in touch with Congress about another matter: prosecuting medical marijuana providers. Some context: Since 2014, Congress has prohibited the Justice Department from spending any money to interfere with states "implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." The law functions as a de facto federal legalization of medical marijuana wherever it is legalized at the state level, and it was upheld in appeals court in 2016. That's the rule Sessions wants to nix. He wrote a letter to Congress in May arguing it is "unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the [Justice] Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime." Sessions' argument here is disingenuous; as The Washington Post notes, the "historic drug epidemic" in question involves opioids, not marijuana, and states in which medical marijuana is legal see a substantially lower rate of opioid overdose and abuse.

6-13-17 The Czech town trying to keep its Jewish past buried
The Czech town trying to keep its Jewish past buried
This tombstone was discovered in someone's cellar, where it had most likely been since the Jewish community was deported and murdered in World War Two. Plans to rehabilitate a pre-war Jewish cemetery in the Czech town of Prostejov have run into fierce local opposition. The foundation behind the plan says it has been torpedoed by deliberate misinformation and anti-Semitism. Tomas Jelinek stands over a broken headstone and scrapes at patches of cement obscuring the name. Sweating heavily in spite of the chilly afternoon, he brushes away the last patches and squints at the inscription. "Herlitzka," he decides. "Bernhard Herlitzka. Died… April 1879. I can't make out the date." There's not much more to go on. The broken tombstone lies face up in the grass, with perhaps a dozen or so more beside it, some whole, others in fragments. The inscriptions are a mixture of German and Hebrew. "Beloved daughter…" begins one. "Here lies…" reads another. The rest is lost. "We can find the story of a person," says Tomas Jelinek, formerly head of Prague's Jewish community. "We have the files of the Chevra Kadisha - the Jewish burial society, where we can find the position of the graves, the text that was on the gravestone and so on." "We usually try to contact the relatives. We sometimes find direct heirs," he adds. "They're surprised, touched. Some of them are really excited."

6-12-17 Thousands march in US for LGBT rights
Thousands march in US for LGBT rights
Tens of thousands of people have marched in Washington, Los Angeles and other US cities for LGBT rights, in one of the biggest protests since President Donald Trump took office. Many of the those attending said they felt their community was under threat from the Trump administration.

6-12-17 'Facebook blasphemer' given death penalty
'Facebook blasphemer' given death penalty
A man accused of posting blasphemous content to Facebook has been sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan. Taimoor Raza was convicted after allegedly posting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions within the site's comments. The public prosecutor involved said he believed it was the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media. Human rights campaigners have expressed concern. Facebook itself has yet to comment on the case. The US firm previously announced in March that it was deploying a team to Pakistan to address the government's concerns about blasphemous content on its service, but added that it still wished to protect "the privacy and rights" of its members. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described blasphemy as being an "unpardonable offence".

6-12-17 Finland PM pulls plug on coalition in nationalism row
Finland PM pulls plug on coalition in nationalism row
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila says his coalition can no longer go on with the Eurosceptic Finns party, after it elected an anti-immigration hardliner as leader. Jussi Halla-aho has been convicted of hate speech for anti-Islamic and anti-Somali comments on his blog. His two partners in the ruling coalition said conditions were not right to work with the nationalists. Opposition parties want a snap election but that is not expected at this stage. The three-party coalition came to power in 2015, bringing the Finns into government for the first time as the second biggest party.

6-11-17 Kansas City prisoner 'blessed' to be free after lookalike found
Kansas City prisoner 'blessed' to be free after lookalike found
A US prisoner who spent 17 years in jail for a robbery he did not commit has spoken of his relief that researchers found his lookalike. Richard Anthony Jones from Kansas was released from jail after witnesses said they could not tell the two men apart. A judge ruled there was no evidence to keep him in jail. Mr Jones said finding a photo of the other man - who as well as looking like him, shares the same first name - was a "needle in a haystack moment". 'I don't believe in luck, I believe I was blessed,' Mr Jones told the Kansas City Star. So far no criminal case has been filed against his double - known only as Ricky - who gave evidence at Mr Jones's robbery retrial and denied committing the crime. While not saying Ricky was responsible, the judge found that based on the new evidence, no reasonable juror would have convicted Mr Jones.

6-11-17 Trump Mexico: Merkel says walls no answer to migration
Trump Mexico: Merkel says walls no answer to migration
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said building walls will not solve problems caused by immigration, during a visit to Mexico City. Mrs Merkel did not mention US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to erect a barrier across the Mexican border. She said history showed that migration pressures were resolved only when empires got on well with their neighbours. Mrs Merkel grew up in communist East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain. Addressing a panel discussion with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, she said: "Obviously the main reason for people leaving must be addressed on site first, which means that putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem." Mrs Merkel suggested the key to managing large-scale migration was to improve living standards and opportunities in affected areas. (Webmaster's comment: The new voice of reason in the West.) In another counter to Mr Trump, Mrs Merkel backed Mexico's free trade position ahead of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) between Mexico, the US and Canada. Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised the agreement, and threatened to withdraw from it if he cannot renegotiate it in America's favour. (Webmaster's comment: Trade agreements should benefit all members equally. Why should America get any special favours? It deserves nothing more than anyone else gets.)

6-11-17 Texas toddlers die 'after left intentionally in car for 15 hours'
Texas toddlers die 'after left intentionally in car for 15 hours'
Two young sisters have died in Texas after their mother allegedly left them in a car for 15 hours in temperatures of up to 32C (90F). Amanda Hawkins, 19, left the girls, aged one and two, in the car at 21:00 on Tuesday (03:00 GMT Wednesday) to visit friends nearby, police said. Her daughters cried during the night but she ignored them, a sheriff said, and returned only at noon the next day. Ms Hawkins has been charged with two counts of child endangerment. Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said it was the worst such case he had seen in 37 years on the force. (Webmaster's comment: This story, and the following two, are the leading stories in foreign news about the United States and they form the image the world now has of America. All thanks to the new politcal climate created by Trump!)

6-10-17 'Body slam' Republican congressman Gianforte to plead guilty
'Body slam' Republican congressman Gianforte to plead guilty
A Montana congressman who "body slammed" a journalist is intending to plead guilty to assault next week, the state's attorney has said. Greg Gianforte is accused of attacking a reporter from the UK's Guardian newspaper a day before his election. He has donated $50,000 (£38,000) to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as part of an apology. Mr Gianforte will plead guilty on Monday to a criminal charge of misdemeanour assault, AP reports. It carries a maximum penalty is a $500 fine and a six-month jail term. Gallatin county attorney Marty Lambert told AP the congressman had requested the court hearing after reaching a civil settlement this week. Alicia Acuna, a reporter from Fox News who witnessed the attack, said Mr Gianforte grabbed reporter Ben Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground", before he began "punching" Mr Jacobs. Mr Gianforte won the special congressional election in Montana, just hours after he was charged with assault. President Donald Trump praised the victory during an official trip to Italy, calling it a "great win in Montana". (Webmaster's comment: A great win for violence in America. Another result of the "hate the news media" campaign unleashed by the president.)

6-10-17 Kansas shooting suspect Purinton charged with Olathe hate crime
Kansas shooting suspect Purinton charged with Olathe hate crime
A man accused of shooting dead one Indian man and injuring another at a bar in the US state of Kansas faces hate crime and firearms charges, the justice department says. Adam Purinton is accused of killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounding Alok Madasani at the bar in the city of Olathe in February. Mr Purinton also allegedly shot a bar patron who tried to intervene. The attack drew worldwide condemnation and shocked the Indian-US community. Mr Purinton was charged in February with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Federal prosecutors announced Friday that the 52-year-old was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly targeting two of the victims "because of their actual and perceived race, colour, religion and national origin". (Webmaster's comment: Another example of American white male supremacy beliefs unleashed by the new politcal climate.)

6-9-17 When regulators do too little too late
When regulators do too little too late
Two decades after the FDA approved mass-market opioids, morgues are running out of room. In Ohio, coroner's offices are running out of room to store bodies, so they've brought in refrigerated trucks. Deaths from overdoses of opioids, heroin, and synthetic painkillers have soared about 50 percent in just a year. The casualties are piling up in every state: Overdoses killed about 60,000 Americans in 2016, The New York Times reported this week. It's hard to put the scope of this ongoing, man-made disaster in proper perspective: Drugs are killing nearly twice as many Americans as gun violence. Terrorism? Not even close. We're losing people to overdoses at a rate equivalent to 20 9/11 massacres every year. In a lawsuit filed last week against five pharmaceutical companies, Ohio joined more than a dozen other states and cities that have charged that drugmakers deliberately used a deceptive marketing campaign to turn powerful opioids into a mass consumer product. Purdue Pharma, it's been shown, told doctors the risk of addiction to OxyContin was "less than 1 percent." When companies and industries lobby against regulations, they invariably call them "job killing." Undoubtedly, some regulations are needlessly cumbersome and costly. But the failure to regulate can also be a killer — of people, not jobs. In the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration didn't challenge the claims of drugmakers that opioids were safe and rarely addictive — a decision that effectively legalized heroin-in-a-pill. Today, two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids, and at least one million more are shooting up cheaper, easier-to-buy heroin and fentanyl. Our kids, parents, and neighbors are dying in droves; courts, police, drug-treatment agencies, and morgues are overwhelmed; entire communities have been hollowed out, as if by a plague. Two decades into a legally created epidemic, lawsuits and the FDA have finally reined in the sale of prescription painkillers. But for hundreds of thousands of people and those who loved them, the reckoning has come too late. This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

6-9-17 Parents eye Austrian asylum in Italy vaccination dispute
Parents eye Austrian asylum in Italy vaccination dispute
A group of German-speaking parents in northern Italy are so angry about a new requirement to get their children vaccinated that they plan to seek asylum in nearby Austria. The 130 families live in Alto Adige - also known as South Tyrol - a region that was part of Austria before 1919. Last month the Italian government ruled that children must be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can enrol for state-run schools. Cases of measles have risen in Italy. The highly-contagious sickness is fatal in some cases. Some other European countries, including France and Romania, have also seen more measles cases this year. In some parts of Europe, including Italy, vaccination rates have dropped below those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). (Webmaster's comment: The absolute STUPIDITY of those who don't want to vaccinate their children is beyond belief!)

6-9-17 Paris: Does Trump’s America still lead the world?
Paris: Does Trump’s America still lead the world?
Mark your calendars, said Simon Reich in; “June 1, 2017, was the day that America’s global leadership ended.” President Trump’s decision last week to exit the international Paris climate-change accord signed by nearly 200 countries sent a clear message to the rest of humanity: America now stands alone. By spurning the pleas of our Western allies and the United Nations, Trump has severely damaged our nation’s hard-won reputation “as the world’s indispensable nation.” Along with Trump’s recent pointed failure to reaffirm America’s commitment to defending fellow NATO members from attack, the Paris pullout may be remembered as a “watershed moment” marking the decline of U.S. global prestige and influence. To satisfy his xenophobic base, “Trump has turned the U.S. into a rogue nation,” said David Horsey in Other world leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel are “quite literally laughing at him” and no longer take “this ludicrous man” seriously. The job of leading the “beleaguered free world” probably falls to Merkel, while “the authoritarian regime in China will now be playing an even larger role in the world economy.”

6-9-17 China’s plan to run the world
China’s plan to run the world
The People’s Republic is investing trillions to build railways, ports, and telecommunications in other countries. Why? China wants to make the 21st century into the Chinese Century, and its “One Belt, One Road” initiative is the key. It’s a staggeringly massive development project spanning dozens of countries—the most ambitious global engineering endeavor the world has seen since the Roman Empire. The overland “belt” part entails highways, railways, and all their supporting infrastructure, including power and the internet, across multiple land routes from western China through Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe. The maritime “road” part consists of new ports, ships, and sea routes from southern China across the Indian Ocean to Africa and through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. If all these projects bear fruit, trade along these routes will exceed $2.5 trillion a year. Already, China has invested $1 trillion in the project, and 68 governments and international organizations have agreed to participate. China is “attempting to provide an ideological and moral alternative to the United States, the West, and liberalism,” said Dan Garrett, a former Pentagon intelligence analyst. The goal is “to return China to its formal (imperial) glory as the center of the world.” China is also taking the lead on solar and other forms of renewable energy, investing more than any other nation—$88 billion last year alone. Already, six of the world’s 10 biggest suppliers of solar panels are Chinese, including the top two. Last week it completed the world’s largest floating solar array, built on the site of a flooded former coal-mining town. It expects to add 2.6 million jobs in the industry every year through 2020. This year it also plans to create the world’s biggest emissions trading system. Now that the U.S. has abandoned the Paris climate accord, “the world is looking for a climate champion,” said Nicholas Stern of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “In China, it has one.”

  • What is the plan?
    • China wants to make the 21st century into the Chinese Century, and its “One Belt, One Road” initiative is the key. It’s a staggeringly massive development project spanning dozens of countries—the most ambitious global engineering endeavor the world has seen since the Roman Empire.
  • How did it come about?
    • Since the 1970s, China’s strategic philosophy had been Deng Xiaoping’s slogan “Hide your brightness, bide your time.” But in 2013, newly elected President Xi Jinping announced that China’s moment had arrived: It was time “to achieve the Chinese Dream of great rejuvenation.”
  • Why now?
    • In the past 35 years, China has reduced the percentage of its population in extreme poverty from 88 percent to less than 2 percent.
  • How does this affect the U.S.?
    • The Chinese have invited the U.S. to participate. But they see President Trump’s “America First” protectionist policies as a great opportunity to replace the U.S. as the driving engine of global trade.
  • What has been built so far?
    • One state-owned company, China Communications Construction Group, has already built 95 deepwater ports, 10 airports, 152 bridges, and 2,080 railways in various Belt and Road countries.
  • Will these countries benefit?
    • And there are social concerns: China’s own rapid development has been built on seized land and forced displacement of millions of people, and it may export that model.
  • Leading on renewables:
    • China is also taking the lead on solar and other forms of renewable energy, investing more than any other nation—$88 billion last year alone. Already, six of the world’s 10 biggest suppliers of solar panels are Chinese, including the top two.

6-9-17 Depicting God as a black woman
Depicting God as a black woman
A Chicago artist is being called “a disgrace” for depicting God as a black woman. Harmonia Rosales’ Creation of God shows a white-haired black woman reaching down from the clouds to touch the hand of a younger black ­woman—a variation on Michel­angelo’s Creation of Adam. On Twitter, critics objected to the race of the deity, calling Rosales’ work blasphemous and “disgusting.”

6-9-17 Coroner’s offices are running out of room to store bodies
Coroner’s offices are running out of room to store bodies
In Ohio, coroner’s offices are running out of room to store bodies, so they’ve brought in refrigerated trucks. Deaths from overdoses of opioids, heroin, and synthetic painkillers have soared about 50 percent in just a year. The casualties are piling up in every state: Overdoses killed about 60,000 Americans in 2016, The New York Times reported this week. It’s hard to put the scope of this ongoing, man-made disaster in proper perspective: Drugs are killing nearly twice as many Americans as gun violence. Terrorism? Not even close. We’re losing people to overdoses at a rate equivalent to twenty 9/11 massacres every year. In a lawsuit filed last week against five pharmaceutical companies, Ohio joined more than a dozen other states and cities that have charged that drugmakers deliberately used a deceptive marketing campaign to turn powerful opioids into a mass consumer product. Purdue Pharma, it’s been shown, told doctors the risk of addiction to OxyContin was “less than 1 percent.” When companies and industries lobby against regulations, they invariably call them “job killing.” Undoubtedly, some regulations are needlessly cumbersome and costly. But the failure to regulate can also be a killer—of people, not jobs. In the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration didn’t challenge the claims of drugmakers that opioids were safe and rarely addictive—a decision that effectively legalized heroin-in-a-pill. Today, 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids, and at least 1 million more are shooting up cheaper, easier-to-buy heroin and fentanyl. Our kids, parents, and neighbors are dying in droves; courts, police, drug-treatment agencies, and morgues are overwhelmed; entire communities have been hollowed out, as if by a plague. Two decades into a legally created epidemic, lawsuits and the FDA have finally reined in the sale of prescription painkillers. But for hundreds of thousands of people and those who loved them, the reckoning has come too late.

6-9-17 Murder capital
Murder capital
Latin America is the most murderous region in the world, with 43 of the world’s 50 most violent cities, according to a new report. Mexico’s Citizen’s Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice ranked the murder rate in cities with 300,000 or more residents, excluding those, such as Aleppo or Raqqa, that are in combat zones. Caracas was the deadliest city, with 130 homicides per 100,000 people, followed by Acapulco, Mexico, and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Four of the top 10 were in Venezuela, which is undergoing a wave of lawlessness; the drug war is blamed for most of the murders in other cities. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 8 percent of the global population but 33 percent of all homicides.

6-9-17 Gay prime minister
Gay prime minister
Ireland’s ruling Fine Gael party has elected the gay son of an Indian doctor and an Irish nurse as its new leader. Leo Varadkar, 38, also a medical doctor, will be the country’s youngest prime minister—and the first member of an ethnic minority, the first openly gay person, and the first physician to hold the position. Bright and charismatic, Varadkar has been in parliament for only 10 years and came out as gay in 2015, the same year that Ireland legalized same-sex marriage. While he is socially progressive, Varadkar’s economic policies are conservative and some Irish media have labeled him a Thatcherite. Most, though, hailed his election as historic. “His mum cried. His dad beamed. Ireland changed,” wrote Miriam Lord in The Irish Times.

6-9-17 Poll watch
Poll watch
President Trump’s approval rating dropped from 42% to 36% in just a few days. 57% of Americans disapprove of his performance.
72% of Americans agree that “given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming.” But the environment ranks low on most Americans’ list of national priorities: Only 4% think it is a bigger issue than health care, the economy, terrorism, immigration, education, and crime.

6-8-17 Comey just revealed the severity of Trump's threat to America
Comey just revealed the severity of Trump's threat to America
Former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, revealing the shocking extent of President Trump's meddling into the investigation into his subordinates and his ties with Russia. Trump himself explained that he fired Comey over the investigation. This scandal is so obscure and multifaceted that it's hard to keep track of just what the allegations are, and which potential implications are most credible. But the basic political truth revealed is simple: Donald Trump is trying to undermine the democratic structures of the United States. Boiled down to its essential framework, Comey's story goes like this. After the election, Trump made repeated, personal contact with the FBI director in an attempt to suborn his professionalism. In a private dinner with the president, Comey got the strong sense that Trump was trying to "create some sort of patronage relationship," and he repeatedly tried to buffalo Comey into promising "loyalty." Comey was extremely uncomfortable with this, trying to say he would only promise honesty, but eventually agreed to "honest loyalty" to end the conversation. Disturbed, Comey immediately began creating a paper trail of memos documenting every aspect of his meetings with Trump. (Webmaster's comment: Trump wants a dictorship and he is following the Nazi playbook. See America's Dark Future?)

6-8-17 Number of Potential Migrants Worldwide Tops 700 Million
Number of Potential Migrants Worldwide Tops 700 Million
After cooling off in the wake of the Great Recession, worldwide, people's desire to migrate permanently to another country showed signs of rebounding between 2013 and 2016. Gallup found 14% of the world's adults -- which translates to nearly 710 million people -- saying they would like to move to another country if they had the opportunity. This is up from 13% -- or about 630 million adults -- between 2010 and 2012. (Webmaster's comment: North Americans desire to migrate is 10%. That's over 30 million people! Given our poltical climate this is fully understandable. We're livng in society with racism and white supremacist undertones.)

  • U.S. still No. 1 desired destination
  • Germany more attractive to potential migrants
  • United Kingdom less so

6-8-17 Malaysia drops gay 'prevention' category from video competition
Malaysia drops gay 'prevention' category from video competition
Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws. The Malaysian government has removed a category on "preventing" homosexuality from a sex education video competition for young people, following an outcry among activists. They had said it could increase hatred and violence against LGBT people. The health ministry has replaced the "gender identity disorder" category with one on gender and sexuality. The contest for 13- to 24-year-olds is offering prizes of up to $1,000 (£780) for the best videos. The other categories are sexual health and sex and the internet. Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws and is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment.

6-8-17 Muslim 'safe space' plan sparks row in Australia
Muslim 'safe space' plan sparks row in Australia
A proposal by an Australian Islamic group to allow "safe spaces" for young Muslims to discuss "inflammatory" issues has sparked a row. The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) said such forums enabled young people's opinions to be "respectfully and intelligently debated and challenged". But State Premier Daniel Andrews said he was "very troubled" by the idea of a space where people "could be radical". Victoria was rocked by a suspected terror attack earlier this week. Gunman Yacqub Khayre killed a man, wounded three police officers and took a woman hostage during a siege at an apartment building on Monday night. He was later shot dead by police. Australia has prevented a number of extremist attacks on home soil in recent years, and has been on alert amid fears over the return of Australians fighting for Islamist militant groups in Syria.

6-7-17 Mozambique police warn bald men after ritual attack
Mozambique police warn bald men after ritual attack
Bald men in Mozambique could be the targets of ritual attacks, police have warned, following the recent killing of three bald men for their body parts. Two suspects have been arrested in the central district of Milange, where the killings occurred. "The belief is that the head of a bald man contains gold," said Afonso Dias, a police commander in Mozambique's central Zambezia province. Albino people have also been killed in the region for ritual purposes. (Webmaster's comment: There is no end to barbarian beliefs in the world!)

6-6-17 Sacked Florida employee shoots five ex-colleagues in head
Sacked Florida employee shoots five ex-colleagues in head
A disgruntled US employee walked back into the factory that fired him and fatally shot five ex-colleagues, before killing himself, police say. John Robert Neumann, 45, was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and hunting knife when he entered the business near Orlando, Florida, on Monday morning. The US army veteran was sacked in April, police say. There is no suggestion he was a member of a subversive or terrorist organisation, they add. (Webmaster's comment: Let's tell it like it is! Angry white males make up the majority of multiple murder attacks in America. They are the major Terrorists!)

6-6-17 Racial 'disparity' in police respect
Racial 'disparity' in police respect
California police officers speak less respectfully to members of the public who are black than to those who are white, researchers studying body camera footage say. Scientists developed a way to measure levels of respect, based on the officers' language during routine traffic stops in Oakland City. The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It aims to use bodycam footage to help improve police-community relations. While bodycam footage has been used as evidence in criminal cases - including some where complaints have been made against police - the aim of this study was to turn this continuously gathered footage into data and use that to track and improve everyday policing. (Webmaster's comment: More evidence of the rampant racism in Amreica!)

6-6-17 US warning over its UN Human Rights Council role
US warning over its UN Human Rights Council role
The US says it is considering what part it will play on the UN's Human Rights Council, highlighting what it calls a "biased" stance on Israel. UN ambassador Nikki Haley said it was "hard to accept" that resolutions had been passed against Israel, a US ally, but none were considered on Venezuela. She also said not enough had been done to criticise Iran, a "country with an abysmal human rights record". Mrs Haley was making her first address to the council in Geneva. "The United States is looking carefully at this council and our participation in it. We see some areas for significant strengthening," she said. "Being a member of this council is a privilege and no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table. (Webmaster's comment: Yet the United States is a Human Rights Council member whose police murder blacks with impunity, supports rampant racism, supports overt hatred of Muslims, hatred of Jews and hatred of Hispanics, and violence against their persons and property, and ignores the sexual predation of women and children by white males! The United States is a major HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATOR!)

6-5-17 Trump to privatise air traffic control
Trump to privatise air traffic control
US President Donald Trump wants to privatise air traffic control operations, creating a not-for-profit company to oversee functions now handled by the federal government. The White House on Monday said the plan would modernise the US system, reducing costs and delays. The idea has circulated in Washington for years without moving forward. But officials say that with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, it is time to try again. "We're proposing to take American air travel into the future, finally," Mr Trump said. Monday's announcement was the first to come during a week in which the administration hopes to focus on policy changes they say will improve US roads, bridges and airports. (Webmaster's comment: But it will be for the profit of those involved and it will be a Profit First, Safety Second organization like most large private enterprizes in America!)

6-5-17 To escape the caste system, Hindus are turning to Christianity
To escape the caste system, Hindus are turning to Christianity
It's Sunday morning in the Indian city of Banaras. In a humble concrete and sheet-metal church, worshippers gather for the weekly service. But this is no regular church. There is no spire. There are no ringing bells. The regular vocabulary of praise for Christ is tailored to this Hindu-Indian congregation. Jesus is depicted not on the cross, but sitting in the lotus position with the palm of his hand outstretched, just like Krishna. Members of the congregation sit not in pews, but cross-legged on the ground. The hymns are set to tabla and harmonium, just like Hindu vedas. India has for a long time prided itself on being a multi-faith, secular nation. But in many parts of the country, there is a battle for souls taking place. In a nation that has seen Hindu nationalism popularized through the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu conversions to Christianity are forcing a discussion on the role of caste and religion in modern India. Conversions to Christianity among the Hindu population is an especially contentious trend. (Webmaster's comment: From the frying pan into the fire!)

6-5-17 Tennis and politics clash on Australian Open centre court
Tennis and politics clash on Australian Open centre court
There's no question that Margaret Court is one of the greatest players in tennis history. But what is being questioned are her comments against the country's LGBT community. They have triggered a debate on whether she still deserves to have her name adorning the country's most famous tennis arena. Court has won more Grand Slam tournaments than any other player. But her career post-tennis has seen her become a Christian minister and one of a particularly conservative brand. Australia's Margaret Court is the world's most successful female tennis star. And so it seems only appropriate that the country's most famous tennis arena is named after her. But the now 74-year-old is embroiled in controversy. She's a Christian pastor, vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage. The row started when she wrote an open letter to Qantas last month, criticising the airline for its support of same-sex marriage. She said she would boycott Qantas and in subsequent interviews on the issue has added more fuel to the fire with statements suggesting that transgender children were the work of "the devil" and that tennis was "full of lesbians"."Her vitriol is not just an opinion," Navratilova wrote in an open letter. "She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too)."

6-4-17 Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition
Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition
A story of torture, betrayal and persecution is captivating Mexicans almost 500 years after it happened. The dramatic life and death of the Carvajal family in 16th-Century Mexico is in the spotlight after a decades-long search for a national treasure came to an unexpected happy ending. Luis de Carvajal "The Young" came to Mexico - then known as New Spain - with his large, well-to-do family during the early colonisation of the Americas. His family governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple him from power. The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practising Jew, a crime punishable by death in the times of the Spanish Inquisition. Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith. When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him. Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico's underground Jewish community. When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just 30 years old. Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jewish people, historian Alicia Gojman explains. His captors forced him to listen as those "heretics", which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him. (Webmaster's comment: Another proud moment in Christian history! They would love to bring the Inquisition back and get rid of all us evil people who think differently. It would be the punishment we so richly deserve! Many Christians are not nice people.)

6-2-17 Majority in US Still Say Religion Can Answer Most Problems
Majority in US Still Say Religion Can Answer Most Problems
A slim majority of Americans (55%) say religion can answer all or most of today's problems. Although this percentage has declined substantially over time, it has been relatively stable over the past year and a half and is up from the all-time low of 51% in May 2015. In 1957, a time of greater religious commitment in the United States, 82% of Americans said that religion could answer all or most of the day's problems. As recently as 2002, 66% of U.S. adults expressed the same sentiment. But the measure has declined since then, reaching 51% -- the all-time low -- in May 2015. However, Americans' views on religion's relevance in answering problems have since stabilized in the 53% to 55% range. The broad trend aligns with declines in church attendance and fewer Americans saying they believe in God or a creationist viewpoint. Meanwhile, the 34% of Americans who today say religion is "largely old-fashioned and out of date" is up from 7% in 1957 and near the all-time high of 35% for this view. The remaining 10% of Americans today have no opinion on whether religion can solve today's problems.

  • 55% say religion can answer all or most of today's problems
  • 71% of Republicans believe this, 47% of Democrats
  • Protestants, weekly churchgoers most likely to agree

(Webmaster's comment: There is absolutely no evidence that any religion or a belief in any God has ever solved anything!)

6-3-17 France's Emmanuel Macron: Birth of the anti-Trump?
France's Emmanuel Macron: Birth of the anti-Trump?
Emmanuel Macron has just won the rare distinction of being the most re-tweeted French person in history. In less than 24 hours, his Trump-defying message "make our planet great again" was shared more than 140,000 times, easily ousting the previous record-holder, the rather less high-minded TV presenter Cyril Hanouna. One fifth of the re-tweets were in the US. It is proof yet again that what we witnessed from the Elysee on Thursday was a master class in communications. In giving his TV reaction to the US president, not only did Macron break brazenly with longstanding convention, according to which French presidents never speak publicly in English, but he even had the chutzpah to subvert the US leader's personal campaign slogan. "Make our planet great again" was a provocation dressed up as a call to virtue. As a catchphrase for the faithful, it was irresistible. By tweeting it, Macron took one more step down his road to investiture as that long-awaited international figure: the anti-Trump.

Emmanuel Macron: ''Make Our Planet Great Again''

6-3-17 The gloves are off.
The gloves are off.
The moment seemed too surreal to believe.Ten days ago, on the eve of a special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat, GOP nominee Greg Gianforte was being pressed by a reporter. Ben Jacobs of The Guardian wanted his response to the Congressional Budget Office's report showing the devastation that would be caused by the House-passed bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.Gianforte did not answer the question. Instead, he grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him to the ground. Then he began punching the reporter, yelling, "I'm sick and tired of you guys. ...Get the hell out of here!" Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault. The next day, Montana's voters elected him to Congress. Welcome to Donald Trump's America. It's an America where the social norms that stitch our society together – the unwritten rules of common decency and civilized behavior that have been built up over generations – are unraveling before our very eyes. Trump's racially charged, xenophobic campaign, coupled with his attacks on so-called political correctness, not only energized the white supremacist movement but gave people a license to act on their worst instincts – their anger, their prejudices, their resentments. It's getting ugly out there. And the ugliness isn't likely to subside any time soon. The president has "unearthed some demons," U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina, told the Washington Post. "I've talked to a number of people about it back home. They say, 'Well, look, if the president can say whatever, why can't I say whatever?' He's given them license." The gloves are off.

6-3-17 Malaysia gay 'prevention' competition seeks videos
Malaysia gay 'prevention' competition seeks videos
The Malaysian government is encouraging young people to make videos about "preventing" homosexuality by offering cash prizes. A competition launched on the health ministry's website offers up to $1,000 (£780) for the best videos tackling "gender confusion". The entries should explore prevention and control; issues and consequences; and how to get help, said the site. It is open for 13- to 24-year-olds, and has been condemned by LGBT groups. The competition, which closes at the end of August, has three main categories: gender confusion, sex, and sex and the internet. The competition website cited gay and lesbian people, transgender people and tomboys as examples of people who suffered from "gender confusion". "The very fact that they lump LGBT people under a category called 'gender confusion' shows that the authorities are very much confused themselves," activist Pang Khee Teik told AFP news agency. "It is mind-blowing that a government agency wants the whole country to be sucked into its confluence of confusion," he said.

6-3-17 South Africa opposition party suspends Helen Zille over colonialism tweets
South Africa opposition party suspends Helen Zille over colonialism tweets
South Africa's main opposition party has suspended its former leader after she tweeted that colonialism was not all bad. The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) said Helen Zille's remarks undermined its reconciliation project. The party is holding a disciplinary hearing on the case. The anti-Apartheid activist could face expulsion. Her tweets led to a storm of criticism in March. It is feared they have affected the party's electoral chances. Ms Zille, a major political figure in South Africa, has not yet commented on the decision. She will retain her elected post as premier of Western Cape province, a DA stronghold and the only province not governed by the African National Congress. (Webmaster's comment: Another indication the world is heading back towards the dark ages.)

6-2-17 A Florida cop asked for an injured man's immigration status before helping him
A Florida cop asked for an injured man's immigration status before helping him
A police officer in Florida demanded to know if an injured cyclist was an illegal immigrant before offering assistance. "You illegal? Speak English? Got ID?" the Monroe County sheriff asked Marcos Huete as he was lying next to his bicycle after being hit by a pickup truck. Huete, who is from Honduras, was issued a $75 fine for causing the accident, hospitalized, and later detained by border officials. (Webmaster's comment: Hatred of immigrants, legal or othewise, empowered by Trump! The sheriff should be fired, arrested, tried, convicted and jailed.)

6-2-17 How they see us: Europe loses faith in America
How they see us: Europe loses faith in America
Is this the end of the Western alliance? asked Tom Peck in Independent? German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to think so. During his first European trip last week, President Trump repeatedly spurned America’s longtime allies. At a NATO meeting in Brussels, he harangued other member nations for not spending enough on defense and failed to affirm Article 5, the alliance’s mutual-defense clause. Trump even physically shoved aside the Montenegrin prime minister as NATO leaders gathered for a photo, displaying the “diplomatic grace of an orangutan.” Then at a meeting with senior European Union officials, he called Germany “bad, very bad” for selling cars to the U.S.—never mind that most of those cars are made in U.S. plants by U.S. workers. When Trump was back on American soil, Merkel spoke out. “The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” Merkel told an election rally in Munich. She added that while Europe would remain “friendly” with the U.S. and post-Brexit Britain, “we have to fight for ourselves.” It’s now clear that the era of 1945 to 2016, “when the Western nations of the world were reliable partners, dependent on one another,” is gone.

6-2-17 Troop surge will only backfire
Troop surge will only backfire
More U.S. airstrikes will result in more dead Afghan children—and more support for extremists, said Maseer. President Trump’s new strategy in Afghanistan appears to be to boost U.S. troop numbers and to give them greater latitude to call in airstrikes. That means the Americans “are going to repeat their past crimes by attacking women, children, and other innocent people.” It’s already happening. Last week, after the Taliban clashed with Afghan security forces in the eastern Nangarhar province, a U.S. aircraft responded by bombing civilians instead of the insurgents, killing at least two children and three women. In another air raid in the same province, one man lost three of his children, including a baby, and all his livestock. “After that, nothing was left for us,” he said. Afghan officials welcome increased U.S. involvement in the war, so they remain “silent about these crimes.” We’ve been down this road before. As more civilians die at American hands, grieving survivors will throw their support behind the Taliban instead of the government in Kabul. “They will take up arms to take revenge.” If the government is genuinely committed to stability in Afghanistan, it should “ask its strategic allies to stop these barbaric acts and crimes.”(Webmaster's comment: The American military has always practiced terrorizing civilians in order to win a conflict! It has never worked. It has only stiffened opposition. Vietnam was a prize example!)

6-2-17 Good Samaritans killed
Good Samaritans killed
An Army veteran and a recent college graduate were fatally stabbed on a light-rail train in Portland last week when they intervened as an alleged white supremacist yelled anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, has been charged with the aggravated murder of Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23. Christian was allegedly hurling abuse at two female passengers, one of whom wore a Muslim head covering, when the strangers jumped in to help. The suspect stabbed both men in the neck and slashed another passenger, who has since been released from the hospital. The attack caused shock waves in Portland, and the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, called on federal authorities to revoke permits for an upcoming “Trump Free Speech Rally,” organized by a conservative group, on a downtown government plaza. At a previous rally held by the same group, Christian was photographed giving a Nazi salute.

6-2-17 Racism in the US: Is there a single step that can bring equality?
Racism in the US: Is there a single step that can bring equality?
Aleem Maqbool has been travelling the US for years reporting on race. He examines paths to healing that have been discussed in his travels.

6-2-17 “You illegal? Speak English? Got ID?”
“You illegal? Speak English? Got ID?”
A police officer in Florida demanded to know if an injured cyclist was an illegal immigrant before offering assistance. “You illegal? Speak English? Got ID?” the Monroe County sheriff asked Marcos Huete as he was lying next to his bicycle after being hit by a pickup truck. Huete, who is from Honduras, was issued a $75 fine for causing the accident, hospitalized, and later detained by border officials. (Webmaster's comment: A police officer refusing to help an injured person is a crime! Just another symptom of our new politcal climate empowered by Trump!)

6-2-17 Travel ban ruling
Travel ban ruling
A federal appeals court refused to reinstate President Trump’s travel ban last week, ruling that the revised order “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals based its 10-3 decision on Trump’s repeated promises during the 2016 campaign to implement a “Muslim ban.” The revised order cites national security in its restrictions on travel from six majority Muslim countries, but in a 205-page ruling, the court’s majority said they “remain unconvinced” that the order’s primary purpose is anything other than “to exclude persons from the U.S. on the basis of their religious beliefs.” In a dissent, Judge Paul Niemeyer predicted that the Supreme Court—which is expected to ultimately decide the case—would “shudder” at the 4th Circuit’s decision, which he said transformed criticism of a candidate’s “campaign statements into a constitutional violation.”

6-2-17 Where he really stands
Where he really stands
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has broken with a nearly two-decades-long bipartisan tradition of hosting an event commemorating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Since 1999, Tillerson’s five Republican and Democratic predecessors have hosted either an Iftar dinner to break the fast during Ramadan, or an Eid al-Fitr reception at the end of the month long holiday. Tillerson declined to host the former last week, when Ramadan began, and has failed to schedule the latter, usually planned weeks or months in advance.

6-1-17 Gay vultures become parents in Amsterdam zoo
Gay vultures become parents in Amsterdam zoo
A Dutch zoo says two male vultures in a long-standing relationship have become parents after successfully hatching an egg. Staff gave the gay griffon vultures an abandoned egg, which they cared for in their nest for two months. Zoo keeper Job van Tol said the two fathers are "a very tight couple" and are doing the job perfectly. "We have had them for some years. They always build a nest together, bond and mate together," he told the BBC. "But, as two males, the one thing they could not do was lay an egg." So when staff discovered a lone egg that none of the other vultures would adopt, they first cared for it in an incubator, and then decided to place in the male couple's nest. Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo said the new parents are very protective of their fast-growing chick, which is now 20 days old, and they have been breaking up its food to make it manageable to eat.

6-1-17 Noose found at US African-American museum
Noose found at US African-American museum
The noose is synonymous with the extrajudicial hangings (5,000 LYNCHINGS) of mainly African-Americans in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Police are investigating after a noose was found in an exhibit on racial segregation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Museum director Lonnie Bunch said it "has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity". It is the second noose found at a Smithsonian museum in four days. The looped rope is synonymous with the extrajudicial hangings, or lynchings, of mainly African-American people in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Another noose was found hanging from a tree in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on Friday, steps away from the National Mall footpath which legions of tourists pass by each day. US Park Police are investigating the incidents. "Today's incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face", Mr Bunch wrote in an email to staff. "We will continue to help breach the chasm of race that has divided this nation since its inception," he added. (Webmaster's comment: American's racism is alive and well and empowered by today's politcal environment coming up to the surface of the American culture again!)

6-1-17 Martina Navratilova says Margaret Court is 'a racist and a homophobe'
Martina Navratilova says Margaret Court is 'a racist and a homophobe'
Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova has renewed her call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed - describing the Australian as a "racist and a homophobe". Court, 74, has said she would not fly on Qantas "where possible" in protest at its support of same-sex marriage. She then told a Christian radio station "tennis is full of lesbians". In an open letter, Navratilova said: "We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour." The 60-year-old addressed her letter to the Margaret Court Arena, one of the main show courts at the Australian Open. She said: "It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. "Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too)." In 1990, Court said Navratilova was a poor role model for young tennis players because of her homosexuality. Navratilova said she had forgiven Court for those comments, but had only just been made aware of remarks the Australian made about South Africa's apartheid regime. In 1970, Court said: "South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States."

6-1-17 Los Angeles homeless numbers jump 23% in a year
Los Angeles homeless numbers jump 23% in a year
34,189 homeless in LA city, 57,794 homeless in LA county, 564,708 homeless in America! The number of people homeless in the US city of Los Angeles has soared in the past year, a new report shows, despite efforts to combat the problem. The homeless population in the city grew 20% while the numbers for the wider Los Angeles County were even higher at 23%, the figures revealed. Experts say soaring rents and a high cost of living are major factors. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn described the figures as "staggering". "Homelessness in LA County has grown at a shocking rate," she said in a statement. "Even as work is being done to get thousands of people off the street and into housing, more and more people are becoming homeless. It is clear that if we are going to end the homeless crisis, we need to stem the overwhelming tide of people falling into homelessness." The city of Los Angeles has long been known as the homeless capital of America and a special agency, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), was set up in 1993 to find a solution. In 2015 authorities declared a public emergency as the numbers sleeping rough soared. City officials committed $100m (£77m) to tackling the problem. (Webmaster's comment: The "Greatest Country in the World" is crashing with a collapse of the America culture to follow, probably to become a Christian Religious State like the Muslim Religious States in the Middle East.)

6-1-17 India judge mocked for saying peacocks don't have sex
India judge mocked for saying peacocks don't have sex
Social media users are ridiculing a judge after he said the peacock was chosen as India's national bird because "it's considered pious" and follows "life-long celibacy". Judge Mahesh Sharma told TV channels that "the peahen gets pregnant" only by "swallowing the tears of the peacock". He made the remark to back his observation that cows should replace the tiger as the national animal because "it's also holy". Experts have rejected his claims. Mr Sharma told reporters in the northern Indian city of Jaipur that he believed people revere both peacocks and cows because of their "divine qualities". He added that he had recommended that the government should immediately declare the cow as the national animal. But social media users vehemently disagreed. (Webmaster's comment: But somehow in India this man became a judge. Unbelievable!)

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