40 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for August 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
8-15-18 A New Mexico judge has received death threats after granting bail to five adults arrested at a desert compound.
A New Mexico judge has received death threats after granting bail to five adults arrested at a desert compound. Judge Sarah Backus said the prosecution had not convinced her the defendants were a threat to the community. Police had arrested the two men and three women at a remote compound raided in the search for a missing three-year-old boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. Officers found 11 starving children and the buried remains of a toddler in a case that has shocked the country. Judge Backus said at the hearing that while what she had heard was "troubling", prosecutors did not prove that the defendants posed a threat to the wider community. "The state alleges that there was a big plan afoot, but the state hasn't shown to my satisfaction, in clear and convincing evidence, what that plan was," she said. The prosecution argued that all five adults were dangerous and should not be granted bail, because they had trained the children to use weapons and carry out school shootings. They also said that the remains found at the site were those of Abdul-Ghani and that the other children said the boy had died during a "religious ritual... intended to cast out demonic spirits", where Siraj Wahhaj had put his hand to his son's forehead, and recited verses from the Koran. But defence lawyers accused the prosecution of treating the five suspects unfairly because they are Muslim - something prosecutors deny. Defence lawyer Thomas Clark said after the hearing that if the accused were Christian and white then "nobody would bat an eye over the idea of faith healing". "But when black Muslims do it, there seems to be something nefarious, something evil," he said. (Webmaster's comment: Planning school shootings should be considered a danger to everyone.)
8-15-18 Fraser Anning: Australia MPs condemn 'final solution' speech
An Australian senator has been widely condemned for a speech that invoked the term "final solution" in a call for immigration restrictions based on race. Fraser Anning, from the conservative Katter's Australian Party, called for migration bans on Muslims and others in his maiden Senate speech on Tuesday. Political opponents denounced his speech as "disgraceful". Mr Anning said he did not need to apologise. "Final solution" was a term infamously used by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In his speech, Mr Anning said "the final solution to the immigration problem is a popular vote". On Wednesday, lawmakers across the political divide moved to pass parliamentary motions censuring Mr Anning for his "racist hate speech", noting in particular his use of the phrase "final solution", and his "false, misleading and hurtful statements" about Muslim Australians and other immigrant groups. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Anning had made "a shocking insult to the memory" of those murdered in the Holocaust. (Webmaster's comment: The hatred continues to spread.)
8-15-18 Christine Hallquist: First transgender governor nominee picked
A former energy executive in Vermont has taken a major step towards becoming the first ever transgender governor of a US state. Christine Hallquist defeated three other candidates, including a 14-year-old boy, to win the Democratic Party nomination on Tuesday. She will now face the incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott in the general election in November. Her nomination came on a night of firsts for primary elections. A former Somali refugee won her race in Minnesota, as did a celebrated teacher in Connecticut who could now become the state's first black Democrat in Congress. Democrats are hoping for a "blue wave" in the midterm elections to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress. Ms Hallquist's nomination comes in an election year already marked by record numbers of lesbian, gay and transgender candidates. There are also a record number of female candidates in elections for governor and for the House of Representatives. This year, 43 transgender candidates have run for political office at all levels in the US. But Ms Hallquist is the first transgender person to win a major party nomination for state governor.
8-14-18 Pennsylvania priests 'abused thousands of children'
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has released a grand jury report detailing sex abuse in the Catholic Church, naming over 300 accused clergymen. The landmark grand jury investigation found more than 1,000 children had been abused by members of six dioceses in the state for the last 70 years. Officials say the probe found systematic cover-ups by the church. The report is the latest inquiry into allegations of sex abuse by Catholic clergy worldwide. After an 18-month investigation, "over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church's own records," the grand jury states in the report released on Tuesday. "We believe that the real number - of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward - is in the thousands." The document states that young boys and girls, as well as teenagers, were abused by clergy. "All of them were brushed aside by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all," the report reads. But officials warned there may be more indictments as the investigation continues. While the report names hundreds of priests, some names remain redacted due to claims that naming them violates their constitutional rights. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference on Tuesday that his office is working to remove those redactions. "Church officials routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling and inappropriate conduct. It was none of those things. It was child sexual abuse, including rape," Mr Shapiro said. Due to alleged cover-up efforts by the church's senior officials, most of the cases are too old for prosecution, the grand jury noted. (Webmaster's comment: REMOVE THE STATUE OF LIMITIONS ON CHILD SEX ABUSE! THESE EVIL BASTARDS SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH IT!)
8-13-18 US mid-term elections: Truth-seeking scientists run for office
"Scientists are not natural politicians... but they solve problems and defend principles," says Valerie Horsley. She's one of a record number of scientists who are running for office in the US in 2018.
8-13-18 Unite the Right: White nationalists outnumbered at Washington rally
White nationalists have staged a rally near the White House in Washington, but were far outnumbered by counter-protesters. About 20 far-right supporters attended the demonstration, which came a year after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead. Hundreds of chanting opponents staged their own rally nearby, denouncing white supremacy and racism. The two sides were kept apart by a heavy police presence. About 400 people had initially been expected at the "Unite the Right 2" rally but on the day nowhere near that number took part. The white nationalists were escorted by police officers to Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, and were heckled along the route by a larger group of counter-protesters chanting "shame" and "get out of my city". Tight security was in place and authorities banned all firearms from the area. After about two hours, under heavy rain, the rally ended and supporters were escorted out of the area in two police vans. A larger group of counter-protesters meanwhile gathered at Freedom Plaza, at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue that leads to the US Capitol, chanting and waving banners.
8-13-18 Medicare-for-all is cheaper
Canadians pay less in health-care taxes than Americans. And Canadians get single-payer. If Bernie Sanders had his way, you'd probably spend a lot less money on health care. The Koch-funded Mercatus Center provided accidental support for Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan recently when it published a paper demonstrating that America as a whole would save over $2 trillion in spending over 10 years by passing such a program. Yes, there would be a gigantic increase in federal spending, but it would be more than compensated by lower prices and administrative costs. For individuals, as a RAND study of a proposed New York state single-payer plan shows, taxes would go up dramatically, but premiums, deductibles, and co-pays would be zeroed out, leaving most people with more money on net. This is because the American health-care system is staggeringly wasteful. One shocking way of visualizing this is by noting we already spend more tax money on it per person than most peer nations — and then on top of that, a whole bunch more private money. If we transplanted Canada's single-payer system into America, for example, the required tax revenue would actually go down. When I made this observation on Twitter, conservatives (including several prominent commentators) spent the next several days scoffing at the idea, trying to disprove it with wildly inaccurate statistics or just straight-up refusing to understand the point being made. It's a good demonstration of the utter uselessness of conservative ideology when it comes to health care. First, let's actually look at the numbers. In 2016, Canada's single-payer system cost about $4,500 per person. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say that same year, just directly tax-supported health-care programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs health programs, and the Children's Health Care Program — cost together $1.929 trillion, or $5,972 per person. Add in the cost of the employer-based insurance tax exclusion ($268 billion) and ObamaCare tax subsidies ($48 billion), both figures courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office, and total government spending on health care rises to $2.245 trillion, or $6,950 per person. So not only does our government health spending easily exceed that of Canada, it's not even close. And that's still leaving some stuff out!
8-11-18 What do Americans really think about immigration?
Contrary to what you might assume, the most patriotic Americans don't want to close the country off to immigrants. A Gallup poll released earlier this year found 75 percent of Americans think immigration is "generally a good thing" for the country. "Patriotism," Pryce writes, is "a state of mind that makes a citizen proud of his or her country." In contrast, nationalism "may be understood as elevating America above all other nations." And xenophobia consists of hostility toward people seen as outsiders or foreigners, who are seen as threatening the health of the culture and/or the economy. Patriotism was measured by asking participants how proud they were of America "in the way its democracy works," "in the way its social security system works," and "in its fair and equal treatment of all groups in society." They responded to each on a scale of one (very proud) to four (not proud at all). Nationalism was measured by their level of agreement (on a five-point scale) with three statements: "Generally speaking, people should support America even if the country is in the wrong"; "Generally speaking, America is a better country than most other countries"; and "The world would be a better place if people from other countries were more like Americans." Participants similarly responded to three statements reflecting xenophobia: "Immigrants increase crime rates"; "American culture is generally undermined by immigrants"; and "Immigrants take jobs away from people who were born in America." Finally, they responded to a statement reflecting a very different attitude: "I feel more like a citizen of the world than of any other country."
8-10-18 Limiting immigration
The Trump administration is finalizing a proposal that would make it harder for legal immigrants who have received public benefits to become citizens or obtain green cards, NBCNews.com reported this week. The law already allows the government to block immigrants who are likely to burden government services. The proposed rules would expand that to penalize immigrants if they or members of their household have used any of a wide array of government programs, including food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, some forms of Medicaid, and certain subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Though the rules could affect more than 20 million immigrants and amount to the biggest change to legal immigration in decades, they would not require congressional approval to be put in effect. The proposal is said to be the work of Stephen Miller, the White House aide behind Trump’s most polarizing immigration policies.
56% of Americans say they believe in “the God of the Bible,” while 33% say they believe in “some higher power” or “spiritual force.” (Webmaster's comment: Which leaves 11% who believe in none of this nonsense!)
8-10-18 Pope Francis: A new death penalty teaching
As a traditional Catholic, “I have learned to wince when I hear the phrase ‘news from Rome,’” said Liam Warner in NationalReview.com. Once again, Pope Francis has broken with centuries of Church teaching—this time, to formally declare the death penalty “inadmissible” in all cases. Capital punishment, the pope argues, “attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.” This flies in the face of Catholic doctrine. Previous popes, the great Catholic theologians, and Scripture itself “testify to the righteousness of the death penalty” in certain extreme cases to alert the criminal to the depravity of his crime and to protect the common welfare from evil. Francis is undermining his own credibility, said Edward Feser in FirstThings.com. “If the Church has been so wrong for so long about something so serious, then there is no teaching that might not be reversed.” Clearly, the pope is directing his message to the U.S., said Noah Feldman in Bloomberg.com. More specifically, the pope is talking to conservative American Catholics “who take seriously the Church’s teaching against abortion but either support capital punishment or are doing nothing against it.” In the shorter term, he’s unlikely to change the minds of older Catholic conservatives, like three of the four Catholic Supreme Court justices. But generations of Catholic children will grow up being taught that the death penalty is wrong. “The Catholic Church thinks in terms of centuries and millennia. It can wait.”
8-10-18 Kids euthanized
Doctors in Belgium have killed at least three children by euthanasia in the past two years, according to a new government report. The three minors—ages 9, 11, and 17—were among 4,337 cases of euthanasia in the country in 2016 and 2017. Officials said the children all suffered from incurable terminal diseases and chose to end their lives, with parental consent. Within Belgium, those particular cases haven’t spurred much controversy. But other cases have, including several involving elderly patients who were nonterminal but in pain or distress. After a dementia patient who could not consent to euthanasia was given a lethal injection last year at the request of her family, 360 Belgian doctors and academics signed a petition demanding tighter regulations. Belgium extended the right to euthanasia to minors in 2014; it is the only country to do so.
8-10-18 The Russians are coming…again
Intelligence officials warn that Russia hasn’t stopped interfering with U.S. elections. Are we still vulnerable?
- What are the Russians doing? The Kremlin is waging a coordinated campaign to influence and disrupt U.S. elections in order to create doubt about their legitimacy and further divide and weaken the country.
- Have election systems been made secure? No. America’s outdated election infrastructure offers ample targets for hackers.
- What happened in 2016? Russian hackers targeted 21 states’ election systems during the election, including the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- How did the U.S. respond? The White House learned from the CIA in August 2016 that the Russian government was actively working to bolster Donald Trump’s candidacy and hurt Hillary Clinton.
- What’s been done since? After the election, the lame-duck Obama administration designated election systems “critical infrastructure,” giving local election officials access to Homeland Security resources usually reserved for hospitals, power plants, and financial institutions.
- What should be done? Election security experts say there are several basic steps needed to protect the vote.
- International election meddling? The United States is only one front in a worldwide campaign of Russian election interference.
8-10-18 Terrorist attacks by white supremacists
Terrorist attacks by Muslims receive 357 percent more press coverage than terrorist attacks by white supremacists and other non-Muslims, a new study has found. Description
8-10-18 3-D–printed guns: A real threat?
The age of 3-D–printed guns is coming, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson, who “has made no bones about his goal, which is to allow anyone to make as many guns as they want without government oversight,” first published downloadable instructions to create an undetectable plastic handgun using a 3-D printer in 2013. Such guns not only could be made at home by criminals or terrorists—they could be smuggled past metal detectors. The Obama administration forced Wilson to pull the files from his website, but the Trump administration reversed course earlier this year. A federal judge filed an injunction just hours before Defense Distributed began uploading the 3-D gun plans, said EJ Montini in The Arizona Republic, but “it’s too late to completely stop it.” The schematics have already been disseminated around the internet, and “it won’t be long before creating a plastic weapon will be easy and inexpensive.” Gun-control advocates shouldn’t panic, said Andrew Sellars in Slate.com. “The imagination runs wild if you think of 3-D printers like the Replicators on Star Trek,” making perfect copies, but tests have shown these plastic guns would cost thousands of dollars to assemble on sophisticated printers, and would likely break after firing a single round. Wilson’s gun blueprint is actually “little more than a political manifesto.” Strange as it may sound, “there is social value” in allowing publication of his blueprint, since it would provide Congress and the public with advance knowledge on how to respond to the threat of home-manufactured plastic guns—“legally, technically, and otherwise.” Information is not the enemy; ignorance and secrecy are.
8-10-18 The veil is a symbol of oppression
Denmark’s new ban on face veils upholds the rights of women—rights that are now under threat around the world, said Kathrine Lilleor. The ban, which went into effect last week, imposes fines of $150 to $1,500 on those who appear in public with their faces covered. It effectively outlaws the niqab (the head wrap that leaves the eyes exposed) and the burqa (the full-body sheath that has a mesh screen over the eyes) worn by a few Muslim women. These are not religious symbols, such as Christian crosses, Jewish stars of David, or Islamic crescents; nothing in Islam requires veiling. They are cultural symbols, and the culture is one that oppresses women. These garments are similar to the chastity belts that Crusaders forced on their wives before they “went to kill in the name of Christ.” (Webmaster's comment: Untrue. Women wore chasity belts when going outside the home on the road to a town or market because rape was so prevalent in medieval times.) I used to think such face-covering clothes would be shed once immigrants were exposed to our Western culture, but now, after numerous terrorist attacks in Europe, I realize that “not everyone shares our ideals of freedom.” Some Western societies are going backward, like the U.S., where the right to an abortion could soon be overturned by the Supreme Court. We can’t be so “hypocritically multicultural” that we tolerate having the abuse of women right around us.
In a sign that it will no longer tolerate Western criticism, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador after his government urged Riyadh to free detained human rights campaigners. Following the arrest of two women’s rights activists last week, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the release of one of them, Samar Badawi, as well as her brother, Raif, a blogger imprisoned for criticizing Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment. Riyadh responded by kicking out Canada’s envoy, freezing new trade deals with Ottawa, and ordering the roughly 15,000 Saudi students in Canada to return home. The Saudi central bank is selling off its Canadian bonds. Canada won’t apologize, though. “Canada will always stand up for human rights,” said Freeland. The Trump administration declined to take sides. (Webmaster's comment: America only gives lip service to Human Rights even in the United States!)
8-10-18 LGBT candidates
More than 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender candidates are running for office this year, the highest number on record. There are about 500 openly LGBT elected officials throughout the country—including one governor and seven members of Congress—which is about 0.1 percent of all elected officials.
8-10-18 US migrants: Judge orders deportation plane turnaround
A federal judge has ordered a mother and her daughter to be flown back to the United States, after learning they had been deported mid-appeal. The two were being represented in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who said they had fled "extreme sexual and gang violence". The judge said it was unacceptable they had been removed during their appeal. He reportedly also said Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be held in contempt of court for the deportation. Mr Sessions introduced tighter immigration rules in June and victims of domestic abuse and gang violence no longer generally qualify for US asylum. The mother and daughter were part of a case filed by the ACLU and the Centre for Gender and Refugee Studies on behalf of 12 mothers and children who said they had fled violence but were at risk of deportation. The government had pledged not to deport anyone in the case before Friday at the earliest, the ACLU said. But the ACLU said they had learned during Thursday's emergency hearing that the mother and daughter had already been put on a flight back to El Salvador by US authorities. Washington DC District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said that it was unacceptable that people claiming asylum had been removed while lawyers argued their case. Describing the situation as "outrageous", he ordered the pair be returned immediately, according to reports.
8-10-18 Canada shooting: Four dead including two police in Fredericton
Canadian police say a suspect is in custody after at least four people - two of them police officers - were killed in a shooting in the eastern city of Fredericton, New Brunswick. The city police confirmed the officers' deaths on Twitter. The pair have not been named, and the circumstances around the incident remain unclear. Police have advised residents of Brookside Drive to "stay in their homes with doors locked at this time". (Webmaster's comment: The United States sickness spreads!)
8-9-18 Charlottesville remembered: 'A battle for the soul of America'
On 12 August, the small, serene city of Charlottesville, Virginia will mark the anniversary of a deadly white nationalist rally that shocked the nation. The violence that day cost the life of a young counter-protester and scarred Charlottesville. An official report condemned city officials for failing to adequately prepare and police for standing by as confrontation turned to chaos. In the year since, some residents have attempted to reckon with the legacy of that weekend and the racial inequality that persists in the city. Others have sought to consign the violence of last summer to the past, in an effort to restore to Charlottesville a lost reputation as a peaceful, progressive place - 2014's official Happiest City in America. Here, in their own words, some of those closest to the events of that weekend tell the story of what happened, why it happened, and what it meant to a city and a nation. "NAZIS STARTED COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK"
8-9-18 Trump's latest immigration injustice is a malicious travesty
The Trump administration wants you to believe it's devoted to protecting American taxpayers from supposedly welfare-mooching foreigners. Don't. What President Trump is really doing is shutting the door on all but a small sliver of well-heeled immigrants — while telling the "tired," "poor," and "huddled masses" yearning to put cheap food on American dinner plates to get lost. There was a time when immigration restrictionists used to insist that they weren't motivated by nativist considerations because their beef was not with legal immigrants, but illegal ones who don't play by the rules. Trump has ripped the mask off that lie. He has slammed literally every law-abiding legal immigrant group — refugees, asylum seekers, foreign family members of Americans, low-skilled immigrants, high-skilled foreign workers on H-1Bs, their wives, foreign students, and even naturalized citizens. Still, none of that compares with what the administration is planning next. The Department of Homeland Security is finalizing rules that would make it vastly easier to brand immigrants deemed "likely" to qualify for even minimal social services a "public charge" and make it harder for them to enter the country if they are abroad — or, if they are here, obtain green cards or citizenship or otherwise upgrade their immigration status. It might not even matter if these legal immigrants personally consume these services. It would reportedly be enough that their American children or spouses do. By some estimates, 20 million immigrants may be affected.
8-6-18 Saudi Arabia suspends Toronto flights in row with Canada
Saudi Arabia's state airline has suspended its direct flights to Toronto after Canada called for the release of detained activists for civil society and women's rights. The Middle Eastern country has also frozen all trade and expelled Canada's ambassador over the "interference". Canada has responded by saying it "will continue to advocate for human rights". Those held include the Saudi-American human rights campaigner Samar Badawi, sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was "deeply concerned" by the diplomat's expulsion, but added: "Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression around the world. "We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy."Her Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir, had earlier tweeted that Canada's position was based on "misleading information", adding that anyone arrested was "subject to Saudi laws that guarantee their rights". The leading Saudi women's rights campaigner Manal al-Sharif thanked Canada for "speaking up" and asked when other Western powers would do the same. (Webmaster's comment: And where does the United States stand on Human Rights? On the side of the money of course!)
8-6-18 Australia backlash over far-right figure's TV interview
An Australian TV network has said it was "wrong" to interview a far-right figure with a criminal past, after the segment set off a widespread backlash. Blair Cottrell appeared in a one-on-one studio interview on Sky News Australia on Sunday to speak about immigration. Viewers pointed out that Cottrell was last year convicted of inciting contempt of Muslims, and that he has previously called for schools to display pictures of Adolf Hitler. Sky News Australia responded on Sunday. Cottrell is the former leader of anti-immigration group United Patriots Front. He was interviewed by Adam Giles, a programme host and former chief minister of the Northern Territory. Other presenters at the network were among those to criticise the interview. "Blair Cottrell is a far right-wing fascist who's a self confessed Hitler fan. He's boasted about using 'violence and terror' to manipulate women," tweeted one host, Laura Jayes. A regular commentator and former Australian government minister, Craig Emerson, said it was "another step in a journey to normalising racism and bigotry in our country". He said he would not appear on the network again. (Webmaster's comment: The march to bring back the Nazis continues all over the world.)
8-6-18 In pictures: Expelled for being gay
Brazilian photographer Nayara Leite has been exploring the lives of six Brazilian homosexuals who were expelled from their homes when they told their families they were gay. Leite asked them to send her a happy photograph of them as a child, which she then burnt - an act she feels reflects the rejection they had experienced. One of them was unable to provide a picture, as everything was destroyed by her family.
8-6-18 The private prison industry
The federal government was phasing out private prisons until the Trump administration took office. Why the reversal?
- When did prisons become private? What is now a $5 billion industry began at the state level. The first private prison opened in Tennessee in 1984, operated by a company known today as CoreCivic.
- Are private prisons cheaper? Studies on the subject tend to hedge on that issue, noting that differences in the public and private facilities make them hard to compare. One study of a single California facility operated by the GEO Group found a saving of 3 percent, while another found 15 percent.
- Why would they be less safe? Private prisons save money by hiring fewer guards, paying them less, and giving them less training, as well as by providing fewer educational, medical, and enrichment services to inmates. The result is less control of the inmates and more violence.
- Why was the order reversed? With the federal prison population expected to fall under sentencing-reform policies supported by both Democrats and Republicans until 2016, the need for private prisons was reduced. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions swept into office on a pledge to lock up more people by reinstating mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession and other low-level offenses.
- How so? Most people who are caught crossing the border illegally are detained and deported, but the law requires special protections for families, minors crossing alone, and those who request political asylum. The Obama administration policy was to “catch and release” most people stopped at the border; while the majority showed up for their immigration hearings, many did not.
- How much does that cost? The old system of giving migrants alternatives to detention (such as ankle bracelets, the equivalent of parole officers, or just a pledge to show up) cost just $4 a day, while housing them temporarily in local jails cost about $100. ICE pays private companies at the border $159 per inmate per day, including for detained children.
- A lack of oversight? CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, has been cited numerous times for abuses in its prisons. In 2010, the Kentucky governor ordered more than 400 female prisoners removed from a CCA prison after learning inmates were being denied medication and were sexually abused by guards.
8-4-18 Anti-semitic graffiti on Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel's house
Police in Romania are investigating anti-semitic graffiti found on the walls of the house where Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel was born. Comments painted in pink included the remark that Wiesel, who died in 2016, was "in hell with Hitler". They were quickly removed. Wiesel became famous after writing about his teenage years in Nazi concentration camps. He devoted his life to ensuring Nazi atrocities would not be forgotten. Police spokeswoman Florina Metes said officers were studying CCTV footage from the house, in northern Romanian town of Sighetu Marmatiei, where Wiesel was born in 1928. In 1944 Wiesel's family was deported to Auschwitz, where his mother and one of his sisters were killed in the death camps. His father died at Buchenwald. Wiesel's use of the term Holocaust helped cement the word's association with Nazi atrocities against the Jews. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his role in speaking out against violence, repression and racism. After his death, the head of the World Jewish Congress said he was "undoubtedly one of the great Jewish teachers and thinkers of the past 100 years".
8-3-18 Homicides Up as predicted
The number of homicides involving firearms jumped 31 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, there were 14,415 homicides involving a gun, about eight times the number of those involving a knife or other sharp object (1,781). (Webmaster's comment: Exactly what we should expect as gun ownership increases. More MEN now have guns and can now more easily express their hatred and anger by killing someone or just anyone.)
8-3-18 When cowards abuse their gun rights
If you shoot someone because he shoved you, said David French, you are a coward and a killer. Michael Drejka, a Florida man with “an odd history of initiating confrontations over parking spaces,” recently challenged a young woman whose car was parked in a handicapped spot outside a Florida convenience store. The woman’s boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, walked out of the store, saw a man yelling at his girlfriend, and shoved Drejka to the ground. Rather than retreat or call a cop, Drejka responded by fatally shooting McGlockton in the chest. Citing the state’s “Stand Your Ground” statute, the local sheriff refused to charge Drejka, which is “an inexcusably bad misstatement of the law.” The fact that Drejka needlessly initiated the confrontation renders the Stand Your Ground defense moot, and that law also requires a “reasonable” fear of “imminent death or great bodily harm.” A single shove does not justify deadly force. As a gun owner, I believe that carrying a weapon is a profound responsibility, and that armed citizens are not enforcers or cowboys. We will only damage the cause of gun rights with reckless, aggressive behavior. Allowing armed provocateurs to escape justice “discredits stand-your-ground laws and cheapens human life.”
8-3-18 Border separations: Hundreds of kids orphaned
A 4-year-old boy was alone in a Chicago detention center, asking for his father, said Alex Wagner in TheAtlantic.com. Human rights workers could find out only that his dad had been deported back to “a tiny mountain village by the river” somewhere in Honduras, 1,800 miles away. The two had come to the U.S. border seeking asylum, after a narco-trafficker threatened to kill the father after already murdering his cousin. But federal agents took the boy away, and told his father “he would have to go home.” That boy is one of more than 700 migrant children who were not reunited with their families last week, despite a court order that the Trump administration return all 3,000 children to parents separated from them under President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The 700 remaining children were deemed “ineligible” for reunification for various reasons—including 463 whose parents had already been deported. What happens to these kids now? The government didn’t have a plan for that, said Nour Malas and Alicia Caldwell in The Wall Street Journal. Federal officials spent months preparing to break up families at the border, but set up “no unified tracking system” to enable them to be reunited at some later date. Children “as young as a few months old” were sent thousands of miles away from their parents “with no means to get in touch.” This was no accident, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. Thousands of children “were effectively kidnapped and held hostage” in order to make “a political point.” The stated goal of Trump’s “xenophobic culture warriors”—Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior adviser Stephen Miller—was to “gratuitously inflict” terror and pain, to scare off future migrants seeking asylum. Someone needs to answer for this atrocity, said the Houston Chronicle in an editorial. Trump’s policy even failed as a deterrent—family apprehensions from May to June decreased by less than 1 percent. We should not forget the thousands of children and parents who suffered lasting trauma, or the 700 kids orphaned by the U.S. government. Even the reunions were heartbreaking. When an asylum seeker from Guatemala finally was reunited with his 6-year-old son after two months, the boy had a rash all over his small body. “You separated from me,” the boy told his father. “You don’t love me anymore?”
8-3-18 The price of ‘zero tolerance’
To look tough on immigration, President Trump created a “zero tolerance” crackdown that separated migrant children from their parents, said Emily Yoffe. The debacle that followed demonstrates why we should have “zero tolerance for zero tolerance.” For several decades, political leaders have embraced zero tolerance “as a response to all social ills: crime, drugs, sexual violations—even misbehaving schoolchildren.” In every case, the indiscriminate rigidity of this “deeply misguided approach” has backfired. Zero-tolerance sentencing policies on crime and drugs filled prisons with minor offenders and addicts, so that 70 million Americans—many of them black and brown—now have a criminal record. Schools with zero-tolerance policies have suspended thousands of children for using their fingers or toys to pretend they’re shooting a gun—which some schools classify as “terroristic threats.” Sex-offender registries created to stop monstrous serial predators now include 900,000 people, including some 18-year-olds who asked a 15-year-old for sex. Time after time, attempts at “cleansing society” with zero tolerance wind up punishing “the harmless and the innocent.”
8-2-18 UN experts condemn President Trump's media criticism
President Donald Trump's media attacks raise the risk of violence against journalists, UN experts have warned. In a statement, David Kaye and Edison Lanza of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called the attacks "strategic" and said they undermined press freedom and "verifiable facts". The comments follow hours after Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka distanced herself from her father's attacks. Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised the media before and during his presidency. He has declared journalists to be "enemies of the people", drawing condemnation from across the political spectrum. Earlier on Thursday, his daughter Ivanka broke from her father's remarks - prompting a tweet from Mr Trump in which he attacked "fake news" as the real threat. But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday refused to say the media were not enemies, causing a CNN reporter to walk out of the briefing. Mr Kaye and Mr Lanza said the president's assaults "increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence" in their joint statement, and were "designed to undermine confidence in reporting". Their warning follows a number of attacks from the president, his administration and his supporters over the past week. At a presidential rally in Florida on Tuesday, CNN filmed Mr Trump's supporters yelling insults and swearing at reporters covering the event. CNN presenter Jim Acosta tweeted a clip, which contained strong language. And on Sunday, the publisher of the New York Times urged the president to stop using the phrase "enemies of the people" after he launched a Twitter tirade against the media. Republican senator for Arizona Jeff Flake meanwhile has compared Mr Trump to the former USSR dictator Joseph Stalin.
8-1-18 Medical marijuana: What you really need to know
The use of medical cannabis is sweeping the world, but for many conditions it’s not clear it’s even effective. What would an evidence-based system prescribe? THEY say that to see the future, you should go to California. So when the Golden State legalised medical cannabis in 1996, we should have seen what was coming. Sure enough, where California led, others followed. Today more than half the citizens of the US have legal access to medical cannabis of one form or another, as do those of a further 44 countries. The United Nations recently convened a special meeting to assess the state of knowledge on medical cannabis, the first time it has ever looked at the drug since blanket prohibition almost six decades ago. As a report on the health effects of cannabis published in 2017 by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded, “this is a pivotal time in the world of cannabis policy and research”. The UK is the latest front line. Public controversy has led to a review of strict prohibition, and upped the likelihood that the country will join the list of those allowing the medical use of cannabis in some form. Whether that is a good idea is hard to call, not least because the term “medical cannabis” covers a multitude of possibilities. At one extreme are freewheeling US states like California and Colorado, where it is all but indistinguishable from recreational use. At the other are tightly controlled systems that closely resemble mainstream medicine. Both have their pros and cons. Which should a country choose?
8-1-18 The medical cannabis debate is a chance to put science before dogma
Neither extreme prohibition nor extreme liberalism is a sensible drugs policy – on medical cannabis and elsewhere, let’s see what the facts say. DURING the cold war, the term “domino effect” was popularised to describe how, if one country succumbed to communism, its neighbours would also topple. It is now being applied to another object of 1950s American paranoia: cannabis. Over the past 22 years, waves of reform have spread across the US, with state after state legalising medical cannabis in one form or another. The UK is the latest domino to topple, or at least shift its position. After a public outcry over two children with severe epilepsy being denied cannabis oil, last week Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that cannabis-derived medicinal products will soon be available on prescription. Exactly what this means remains hazy: health authorities have been asked to define what a cannabis-derived medicinal product is. The UK has already approved Sativex, an oral spray derived from cannabis plants, for treating muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, although the National Health Service will not pay for it because it is not considered cost-effective. The announcement is welcome progress towards an evidence-based system for regulating cannabis. New Scientist has long argued for such an approach for all drugs. Rigid prohibitionist ideology has not worked. But evidence cuts both ways – and that for the effectiveness of medical cannabis is surprisingly thin. At the same time, there are dangers in allowing medical cannabis, not least that it could lead to back-door legalisation of recreational use without proper debate.
8-1-18 The only thing Republicans truly care about
Republicans may act like they want to transform the GOP into a "workers party," pretend they care about the concerns of struggling coal miners and farmers, rail against abortion, cheer the appointment of conservative judges, and talk about fighting terrorism and deporting immigrants, but there is one thing that matters more to Republicans than anything else — and that is helping the nation's very wealthiest individuals and families become ever richer. That is the singular domestic achievement of the Republican Party in its 38-year run of dominance over American politics, and it's obviously something the party wants to push as far as it possibly can while it still clings to power in Washington. Consider: The only major accomplishment of the 115th Congress and the first two years of the Trump administration is the GOP's tax reform bill that dramatically slashed the corporate tax rate while lowering numerous other rates on individuals and businesses. And now, heading into the 2018 midterm elections the administration is looking into a second substantial tax cut to benefit the super-rich even more. Examining the administration's hopes for partially shielding capital gains (investment earnings) from taxation by indexing them to inflation gives us a window into the Republican Party's priorities, its way of thinking about government, and the likely unintended political consequences of both. All told, the potential change reveals a party increasingly desperate to boost the income and wealth of the very richest among us and displays a mixture of indifference and contempt for everyone else. Here's how:
- The GOP's top priority: richer rich people. The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania estimates that 86 percent of the benefits of indexing capital gains would go to the top 1 percent of the population.
- An extremely low GOP priority: public debt. As recently as the middle of the Obama administration, Republicans regularly railed against the deficits racked up by a Democratic president striving to prevent the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression from becoming even worse.
- The cable newsification of the party. From the president's obsession with Fox News morning show Fox and Friends, to the White House's recent hiring of long-time Fox News executive Bill Shine, to the president's appointment of CNBC on-air personality Larry Kudlow to serve as chairman of the National Economic Council, this is an administration fixated on flamboyantly right-wing media.
- The drift toward Caesarism. The Constitution gives Congress alone the power of the purse (taxation), yet the administration's proposal on capital gains would usurp it.
- America's engine of inequality. Put it all together and we see that the Republican Party's primary aim is to benefit the super-rich while showing something close to complete indifference to everyone else.
- Fuel for the left. With their modest upward tinkering with the tax code and mostly small-ball policy reforms, the Democrats since 1980 haven't done much to accelerate the broad-based trend toward growing inequality.
8-1-18 The Trump administration's dumbest idea yet
More tax cuts for the super-rich? Really? I don't know about you, but when I wake up in the morning, after dressing modestly and saying my prayers, the first thing I do is shed a couple of hot tears for the rich. Think of poor Jeff Bezos, who has watched numbers go up on a screen for eight whole months and only made $40 billion. When is the last time we had a tax cut in this country? Too long, according to Steven Mnuchin, our Goldman Sachs alumnus-cum-hedgefund gazillionaire Treasury secretary. Speaking offhandedly to a journalist at one of those Letter of the Alphabet Plus Natural Number summits — I think it might have been the G20 — in Argentina, Mnuchin mentioned a scheme he and his underlings have devised that would allow rich people to hire lawyers and accountants to decide how much money they have actually made at tax time. I wish I could say that I was exaggerating, but this is in fact the case. The plan, which Mnuchin says his staff at the Treasury is in the process of "studying," would allow taxpayers to adjust the value of assets for inflation when they sell them and are forced to pay taxes. Think about what this actually means. Blueblazer McEntreneurship, after graduating from the same expensive college his parents attended following many years of SAT preparation, worked hard and achieved the American Dream, which is to say, he invested a significant amount of his large salary into Dynamic Engagement Inc. Over the years the stock price of Dynamic Engagement — get this! — went up. Eventually he sells and pockets the no-doubt sizable difference. Imagine being able to chalk up that difference in price not to the fact that McEntreneurship put his money in the company expecting the value of his stake to increase, netting him a profit for doing absolutely nothing, but to the random fluctuations of an intangible, vaguely defined phenomenon called "inflation." The money was just sitting there in a pot and somehow when I came back there was more of it. Don't tax me, bro! (Webmaster's comment: Don't tax the rich. They don't have enough!)
8-1-18 Trump claims Americans need ID to go shopping
US President Donald Trump has been accused of being out of touch with voters after saying Americans need identification to go shopping. At a rally in Tampa, Florida, he said: "You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID." Americans do not need to present ID at supermarkets, unless to buy alcohol or, sometimes, for credit card purchases. The Republican president was arguing for tougher ID checks on voters. "You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture," he told the crowd at the "Make America Great Again" rally on Tuesday night. "In this country, the only time you don't need it in many cases is when you want to vote for a president, when you want to vote for a senator, when you want to vote for a governor or a congressman. "It's crazy. It's crazy. But we're turning it around." It is not known when the president last went to a supermarket. CNN journalist Jim Acosta tweeted: "Trump out of touch here... you don't need an ID to buy groceries."
8-1-18 Florida paramedics 'racially profiled' dying woman
Four US paramedics accused of racially profiling and failing to provide medical care to a dying woman face a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. Crystle Galloway's mother says medics assumed the Tampa, Florida, family could not afford the ambulance cost. The 30-year-old's mother drove her to hospital instead. Ms Galloway slipped in to a coma after suffering a presumed stroke, and died five days later. Hillsborough County officials have already accepted responsibility. The incident occurred early on the morning of 4 July this year, days after Ms Galloway had given birth by Caesarean section. Her mother, Nicole Black, called 911 after finding her daughter slumped in the bath, drooling from swollen lips. The ambulance crew arrived at Ms Galloway's third-floor apartment, and carried her downstairs. Ms Black told US media. "They kept asking her over and over, 'Do you want to go to the hospital? Do you want to go to the hospital?' She kept begging and telling them yes." But instead of the ambulance, Ms Black said they placed her daughter in her car. "They never took blood pressure," said Mrs Black. "They never took her temperature. They never checked any of her vitals. "They were too busy or too caught up in convincing us that she couldn't afford it. "There was reference to, 'Didn't you just have a newborn baby? Do you really want to spend $600 to go three blocks?' "'Oh, have you been drinking? Were you guys celebrating Fourth of July? Is that why your head hurts?'" Ms Black said the medics spent 12 minutes urging her to drive her daughter to hospital herself, as Ms Galloway lay on the ground "in the foetal position". (Webmaster's comment: This amounts to manslaughter and these racists should go to prison! The United States is a nation full of racists and we should punish racism severly!)
8-1-18 Row over 3D-printed firearms distracts from US gun violence crisis
Legally wrangling over whether plans for 3D-printed guns can be made available online ignores the US’s real public health crisis. Lawmakers in the US are fighting to keep blueprints for 3D-printed guns off the internet – but how worried should we be about untraceable plastic firearms? In 2013, law student Cody Wilson unveiled the Liberator, a plastic handgun produced on a 3D printer that could fire conventional ammunition. He posted the files online so that anybody could download them and, in theory, print their own pistol. Soon afterwards, he added a second design that would allow people to mill a rifle part called a lower receiver from a block of aluminium. These parts are controlled under US gun regulations and stamped with identifying serial numbers. By releasing plans for an untraceable weapon that could be produced at home, Wilson was cutting authorities out of the loop, making effective gun regulation impossible. The US Department of State demanded Wilson remove the files from the internet. They had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Wilson sued the Department of State in response. It relented last month, following a lengthy legal battle, and quietly gave permission for the files to go online from 1 August. Eight US states in turn sued the Department of State and got a temporary restraining order issued to block the release of the files. A hearing on 10 August will decide what happens next.
8-1-18 US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked
A US federal judge in Seattle has blocked the release of software that allows consumers to 3D-print firearms. Gun access advocacy group Defense Distributed published downloadable gun blueprints five days early on Friday. The firm had reached a settlement with the Trump administration in June to allow it to legally publish the plans. But eight states and the District of Columbia sued the government on Monday to block the settlement, arguing the untraceable guns were a safety risk. US District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order halting the release hours before the 1 August deadline, saying the blueprints could fall into the wrong hands. "There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm," he said. Judge Lasnik scheduled another hearing for 10 August. Although Defense Distributed had been expected to publish the blueprints on Wednesday, it uploaded files for nine types of gun to its website last week. Between Friday and Sunday, more than 1,000 people downloaded the files for building a gun apparently modelled on the AR-15 rifle - the gun used in many of America's mass shootings. The lawsuit against the Trump administration was filed in Seattle by the Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland and District of Columbia are involved. The complaint calls the 1 August release of gun blueprints "a bell that cannot be un-rung". It raises concerns about national security implications and the safety of citizens.
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