You are not Alone!
110 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for August 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
8-31-18 Trump’s ‘hell week’: Is this a turning point?
In Donald Trump’s White House, “the warning lights of growing legal jeopardy are flashing red,” said Jonathan Swan in Axios.com. Last week, a jury convicted Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, of tax evasion and bank fraud. Only hours later, Michael Cohen, formerly Trump’s personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations—facilitating unreported “hush money” payments, at the height of the 2016 campaign, to women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. Cohen declared that he committed these crimes “in coordination and at the direction” of candidate Trump. And Trump’s “hell week” was just getting started. Federal prosecutors have reportedly given immunity to longtime Trump friend David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer, who kept a safe filled with unflattering stories about Trump and his family that he’d bought and buried. Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, who has “true and deep visibility” into Trump’s financial and business dealings, also is reportedly cooperating with prosecutors. The cascade of bad news clearly rattled Trump, who raged about “rats” and “flippers.” His panic is warranted, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. We have reached “an inflection point in the Trump presidency.” Let’s take a look at what we know so far, said David French in NationalReview.com. The list of “former Trump officials who are guilty of crimes” now includes “his former campaign chair, deputy campaign chair, national security adviser, and personal lawyer.” We also know that other members of Trump’s inner circle—including his son, Don Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner—at least tried to collude with Russia in the 2016 election, and then lied about it. Sorry, but the claims by Trump and his supporters that this is all a “rigged witch hunt” are ringing hollower by the day. “No one can outrun the truth forever,” said Charles Blow in The New York Times. When Mueller finishes his work, “I predict the whole truth of Trump will shock the world, even more than it is already shocked.”
8-31-18 Trump spreads lies about white genocide
The U.S. president is using lies about South Africa to whip up racial animus in his own country, said Mashadi Kekana. As a “diversion from his legal troubles,” Donald Trump took to Twitter last week to echo a white supremacist lie: that white South African farmers are being forced off their land because of their race and are even being killed en masse. The specter of white genocide has been raised continually since apartheid ended in 1994, and now that the government is finally moving forward with plans to expropriate land from large landowners and redistribute it to the mostly black landless population, Afrikaner supremacist groups are using it to win international allies. They found one in Fox News host Tucker Carlson. His segment alleging that South Africa was seizing land from citizens “because they’re the wrong skin color” prompted Trump’s tweet. In fact, all large landowners, regardless of race, could be subject to expropriation, and most will be compensated. Furthermore, farm murders in South Africa have actually decreased, to their lowest level in more than 20 years. The government has summoned the U.S. ambassador to demand an explanation for Trump’s misinformation. But the damage is done: The Afrikaner supremacist organization AfriForum “is claiming victory.”
8-31-18 Bias: Trump claims Google rigs search results
The Trump administration this week declared it would look into regulating Google, said Tony Romm in The Washington Post. The move follows President Trump’s predawn tweets alleging the search engine giant “manipulates its search results to prominently display negative stories about him.” Trump said that search returns for “Trump News” were “RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” The call for regulations, which would “challenge protections around free speech,” may have been inspired by a Fox News segment that asserted that videos with conservative commentary were “suppressed” by Google-owned YouTube. The president’s bias accusations, which he later extended to include Facebook and Twitter, land “at a difficult moment for the tech industry,” said Adam Satariano in The New York Times. The conservative campaign against tech “has become more pointed” since Apple, Google, and Facebook removed content from right-wing conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Alex Jones. But the view that “something must be done” to rein in the influence of Big Tech has grown “across the political spectrum.” Executives from Twitter and Facebook will testify next week at a Senate intelligence hearing on their efforts to prevent foreign election interference.
8-31-18 Trump’s racial vitriol will outlive him
“The most enduring damage” left behind by President Trump will be the racial and ethnic hatred he’s “so cynically stoked and exploited,” said Fred Hiatt. Trump’s earliest realization as a presidential candidate was how easy it is to “inflame” some white Americans’ fear of increasing diversity. He’s even admitted that when “it gets a little boring” at a rally, all he has to say is “We will build the wall!” and people “go nuts.” Now, ahead of the midterm elections, Trump is warning supporters that Democrats elected to Congress will—in his words—“throw open our borders and set loose vicious predators and violent criminals.” This is a lie: Democrats do not support open borders, and as the percentage of foreign-born people in the U.S. increased from 7 percent to 13 percent between 1990 and 2013, “violent-crime rates fell 48 percent.” Yet while “Dreamers” remain in limbo, farms are desperate for workers, and “families are being needlessly torn apart” at the border, Trump continues to spread anti-immigrant vitriol as a means of “survival by distraction.” When Trump finally exits the White House, he will leave an enduring legacy: “the poison” of racial division.
8-31-18 Officer convicted
A white former police officer was found guilty of murder this week for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, Jordan Edwards, in 2017 and could face life in prison. The officer, Roy Oliver, 38, was fired from the police force days after the shooting, which he testified was done to protect his partner. Oliver and the partner had responded to a house party when gunshots rang out from somewhere outside. Partygoers raced out of the house, and Oliver retrieved his rifle. He and his partner tried to stop a car slowly backing away before Oliver fired five rounds into the car in less than one second, hitting 15-year-old Edwards in the head, killing the freshman honor roll student instantly. Edwards’ relatives sobbed and hugged when the verdict was read. Oliver is the second former police officer in Dallas County this year to be convicted of murder in connection with a civilian death.
8-31-18 Kavanaugh: An ‘illegitimate’ nomination?
It would be “insane” for Democrats to let Republicans rush Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate.com. President Trump’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen last week “all but implicated” the president “as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to violate federal campaign finance law” during the 2016 presidential campaign. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation closing in on the White House, “the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency” is in question. So Republicans—who blocked President Obama from filling a vacant Supreme Court seat for 11 months—have prioritized seating Kavanaugh “before the Trump presidency collapses in upon itself.” Kavanaugh’s nomination should be stopped for a more important reason, said Jason Sattler in USA Today. He is on record as saying presidents should be immune from subpoenas and indictments, and he believes the Supreme Court case that forced President Nixon to turn over incriminating tapes “was wrongly decided.” Kavanaugh’s “extraordinarily permissive views on executive power” make him “the worst possible nominee at the worst possible moment.”
8-31-18 Fox News
59% of Americans now approve of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia—up from 48% one month ago. 37% disapprove.
8-31-18 Gerrymanders struck down
A panel of three federal judges ruled this week that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans, threatening havoc for the November elections. The judges held that district lines—which let Republicans capture 10 of the state’s 13 seats in the House of Representatives despite North Carolina being roughly evenly divided politically—might need to be redrawn immediately, potentially forcing candidates to run in entirely new areas. “To have the election for new congressional districts, with no primaries, would be chaos,” said one influential Republican donor. The GOP-controlled state legislature could ask the Supreme Court for a stay, keeping the current map in place through November. The court, however, is split 4-4 between likely pro-Democratic and pro-Republican votes; a tie would leave the lower court’s decision in place.
8-31-18 Catholic priests
In the U.S., 6,721 Catholic priests were reported to U.S. bishops for allegedly sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2016, according to BishopAccountability.org. That represents 5.8 percent of the 116,690 priests working during that time period—and it only counts those who were officially reported.
8-31-18 Pope Francis’ role in the cover-up
“What did Pope Francis know?” asked Ross Douthat. That’s the big question now facing the Catholic Church, after a new allegation that Francis was aware of and hid the sexual crimes of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. In the “latest bomb” to go off in “an already cratered Catholic landscape,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò—a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S.—has publicly accused Francis of knowing that McCarrick had abused seminarians for years, and yet released him from sanctions and relied on him for help in the ongoing struggle between conservative and liberal Catholics. Why would Francis do this? “Francis needed allies, and McCarrick was sympathetic to the pope’s planned liberalizing push.” Since the sexual abuse scandal came to light, both liberals and conservatives in the church—including conservatives Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II—have defended predators on “their” side for as long as revelations permitted. Now it’s “apostles of liberal Catholicism” who’ve rallied to defend Francis, because he is “their pope,” and “all’s fair in the Catholic civil war.” But for the church and this pope to survive, Francis must lead a purge of all abusive or corrupt priests and bishops—“no matter how many heads must roll.”
8-31-18 Ireland: Pope Francis visits a land of waning faith
When the pope came to Ireland last weekend, said Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times, he found “a Catholic church not just falling to ruin, but in some respects beyond repair.” At the time of the last papal visit, in 1979, when a million Irish turned out to see John Paul II celebrate Mass in Dublin, everyone here still took communion; abortion, contraception, and divorce were illegal; and the church ran our hospitals and schools. But since then, we have learned of the church’s “systematic covering up and effective facilitation” of child sexual abuse by clergy, and the institutional abuse of tens of thousands of unmarried pregnant women incarcerated in Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes. It was revealed in 2014 that nearly 800 babies and children died at one such home, in Tuam, between 1925 and 1961, and many of their tiny skeletons have since been excavated from unmarked graves. Ireland now understands that the church “maintained its ‘purity’ through systematic terror.” Church attendance is way down, and in the past three years we have repealed an abortion ban and legalized gay marriage. Fewer than 130,000 worshippers turned out for Pope Francis’ Sunday Mass in Dublin, while protesters, many of them victims of clerical abuse, called for guilty priests to be jailed.
8-31-18 Muslim teen to attacker: Because of you the world knows my story
A Canadian Muslim teen who was attacked by a man on a Vancouver train has said she "forgives" her attacker. Pierre Belzan, 47, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of assault against 18-year-old Noor Fadel. "Because of you, I grew, I forgave and I began changing the world one person at a time," Ms Fadel told her attacker in court. The story made international headlines last year when a Good Samaritan stepped in to stop the abuse. She was in court on Wednesday to face her attacker and read her victim-impact statement. "You missed out on meeting someone with a big heart like me," she read. "But it's up to you now; where you take your life from this very moment. In the end, because of you I felt so much pain and betrayal and hardships in my life. "Because of you, I grew, I forgave and I began changing the world one person at a time. Because of you, the world knows my story, my resilience. Because of you, the world knows I am going to be OK." Last December, Ms Fadel, who wears a hijab, was riding the train when she says Mr Belzan threatened to kill her and all Muslims, forced her face towards his crotch and hit her. Vancouver resident Jake Taylor intervened, pushed Mr Belzan away and later accompanied Ms Fadel to a station platform to await authorities. Ms Fadel said at the time that Mr Taylor was "once a stranger now a dear friend who stood up for me no matter for my appearance".
8-31-18 Hogg’s battle for gun reform
Within hours of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, David Hogg became the face of gun control, said Lisa Miller in New York magazine. That night, the wiry 17-year-old “debate geek” appeared on Fox News, closing his interview with a call to action: “I don’t want this to be something that people forget.” He was a natural on TV—concise, combative, good-looking—and became a national leader of the “#NeverAgain” movement. But his relentless criticism of the National Rifle Association also turned him into a hated figure for gun rights supporters, some of whom claimed he was a “crisis actor” hired to stir up anti-gun sentiment. This summer, when Parkland students launched a 75-city bus tour, Hogg was usually with bodyguards in a black SUV; he receives frequent death threats. Hogg seems unfazed. “If somebody is stupid enough to try anything on us,” he says, “that will make the movement even stronger.” Hogg admits all the attention made him “narcissistic” for a time, but he’s already decided on a public career and will run for Congress at age 25, when he becomes eligible. Of the current politicians in Washington, he says, “Honestly, they all kind of suck.”
8-31-18 Not really improved
Despite record levels of consumer confidence and almost full employment, 4 in 10 American consumers are struggling to pay for basic needs. Of adults between 18 and 64 years old, 39.4 percent said they had trouble with at least one of four basic necessities—housing, utilities, food, or health care. Those in trouble include one-third of families with at least one working adult.
8-31-18 Babies needed
Faced with a graying population and a shortage of young workers, China is planning to scrap its two-child limit—reversing nearly 40 years of family-planning regulations. Beijing lifted its one-child policy in 2016, but the birth rate didn’t rise significantly. Now, officials say family size limits will be abolished in 2020. In a nod to the change, the new postage stamp for 2019, Year of the Pig, shows two adult pigs with three happy piglets. Implemented in 1979, the one-child policy was brutal, forcing women to abort a second pregnancy or face heavy fines. The results skewed the population: Mothers often terminated a first pregnancy if the fetus was female, and China today has 30 million fewer women than men.
8-31-18 Sandy Hook families v Alex Jones: Defamation case explained
The parents of a 2012 mass shooting victim can sue Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation, a Texas judge has ruled. Mr Jones sought to dismiss the suit brought by the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre. Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa allege they were harassed and forced to move after Mr Jones decried the attack that left 26 dead as a left-wing hoax. The case is one of five defamation lawsuits he is facing. Mr Jones argued that he was protected from the lawsuit by his first amendment free speech rights under the US constitution. He also sought more than $100,000 (£77,000) in court costs from the couple. But Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County, Texas rejected Mr Jones' argument and his motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to court papers. Alex Jones is the founder and host of Infowars - a far-right radio and online show that is best known as a platform for Mr Jones' conspiracy theories. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 young children and six adults dead in 2012, he repeatedly described the incident as a hoax on his show. He alleged the massacre was "completely fake", using actors and staged by the government in order to promote its agenda for nationwide gun control. Mr Jones has faced criticism before for similar claims, including his claim that the 9/11 attacks were also staged by the government. Infowars touts millions of listeners and viewers. Mr Jones has also interviewed President Donald Trump, who has repeated Infowars claims on his Twitter feed and in speeches. (Webmaster's comment: Alex Jones is a psychotic compulsive liar and should be committed to a mental institution!)
8-31-18 Hey America, you can finally choose to elect people who rely on facts
As the battle for power in the US Congress hots up it offers the best chance yet to address the lack of politicians with science backgrounds, says Shaughnessy Naughton. The battle for political power in the US is hotting up. The two main parties are stepping up pleas for support in this autumn’s midterm election, which will decide who controls Congress. There’s nothing unusual in that. But November’s vote does offer something the US electorate hasn’t really seen before: a dedicated push to get candidates with science backgrounds on the ballot paper. The motivation for this lies in the well-documented anti-science attitudes in political circles of recent years. President Trump called climate change a “hoax”. Then, he appointed pro-fossil fuel industry figures like Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke to top positions that deal directly with the likes of climate science and pollution. At the same time, he dismissed, ignored and even silenced scientists at key agencies, many of whom have spent their careers in public service. Those appointments were followed by budget proposals that gutted research funding and, of course, the disappointing announcement that the US would exit the Paris Agreement. It’s not all about the Trump administration – anti-science legislating predates his election. It includes the inquisition of climate scientists in 2015 by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and attempts by past administrations to control or silence scientists. And, to touch upon an all too timely subject, the 1996 National Rifle Association-supported ban on the Centers for Disease Control researching gun violence. For those enraged by such treatment of science and scientists, help is at hand. I started the organisation 314 Action in 2016 to recruit, train and support scientists running for office, and we have been laying the groundwork to bring evidence-based policy to the halls of power ever since.
8-31-18 Australia abuse inquiry: Catholic Church rejects call to overhaul confession
The Catholic Church in Australia has formally rejected a landmark inquiry's recommendation that priests should be forced to report sexual abuse disclosed during confession. The five-year inquiry found tens of thousands of children had suffered abuse in Australian institutions. The Catholic Church had the most cases. On Friday, Church leaders accepted most of the inquiry's recommendations. But their stance on confession may set up future conflict with governments. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said breaking the seal of confession was "contrary to our faith and inimical to religious liberty". "We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal," it said in a statement. The Church leaders said they would, however, explore other proposals - including asking the Vatican to relax rules on celibacy. The royal commission inquiry, which concluded in December, heard more than 8,000 testimonies about abuse in churches, schools and sports clubs. Its final report made more than 400 recommendations across government and other institutional sectors. The government called the abuse a "national tragedy", began a compensation scheme for survivors, and said it would give a national apology on 22 October. Religious ministers and schoolteachers were found to be the most common perpetrators. (Webmaster's comment: We don't want to talk about sex abuse by religious ministers and schoolteachers in America!) The inquiry heard they included 7% of Australia's Catholic priests between 1950 and 2010. The commissioners recommended that Catholic clerics should face criminal charges if they failed to report sexual abuse disclosed to them during confession. It also said the Catholic Church should consider making celibacy voluntary for priests because while it was "not a direct cause of child sexual abuse", it had "contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors".
8-31-18 How to pay for Medicare-for-all
Squeeze wasteful and abusive providers to provide a really good program for cheap. Medicare-for-all sounds great, but how do we pay for it? In a normal country, the answer would be simple — just raise taxes. But in the United States, health care is so outlandishly expensive that the simple solution is anything but. Where Austria or Finland would be assured that a modest tax hike could (and did) cover everyone, America has to grapple with a bloated health-care sector eating up over 17 percent of GDP — nearly 5 points (or about $1 trillion) greater than Switzerland, the second-most expensive country. As Jon Walker argues, this reality forces Medicare-for-all advocates into one of two basic choices, neither of them easy: 1. Swallow the huge costs, shove through a really big tax hike, and hope that people will understand the taxes-for-premiums swap. 2. Try to cut costs, and keep the tax increase modest, but tempt the wrath of the medical lobby. Some tax increases are certainly inevitable. But the second choice is by far the best, on grounds of both practical policy and politics. When writing a Medicare-for-all bill, it is critical for legislators to understand that traditional Democratic logrolling — in the form of policy carveouts for powerful interest groups — will create more problems than it solves. The way to make the legislation work is to isolate the sources of the most hideous and immoral waste in the health-care system and concentrate the pain on them, so as to provide a really excellent benefit for the broad population with a minimum of necessary new taxes. To explain why, let's start with the most basic question: Why is American health care so expensive?
8-30-18 The Catholic Church must confess its sins. All of them.
This is the only path to redemption. In the 16 years since The Boston Globe conducted an award-winning investigation into child abuse in the local Catholic diocese, the church has found itself in a constant and recurring crisis over sexual abuse of children and seminarians. The crisis has stretched across three pontificates, numerous countries, and has involved an ever-expanding number of priests, bishops, and even cardinals. And it's only getting worse. Over the last two weeks, we have seen why. Three responses from the church's leadership, in the U.S. and in the Vatican, paint the 2,000-year-old organization as still blind to its predicament — more caught up in politics than in resolution, and its ordained and laity more interested in fighting an ideological war than in demanding accountability at every level of the church. The latest episode of this crisis started with a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that identified hundreds of alleged abusers within the Catholic Church, and the failings of leadership to put an end to it. The report itself is damning but complex, with outright villains and others who failed to confront evil forcefully enough. Cardinal Donald Wuerl came under particular criticism for failing to act, a charge that Wuerl decided to rebut at his current assignment in the archdiocese of Washington — by publishing a website called "The Wuerl Record." The website extolled Wuerl's efforts to curtail child abuse while serving as the bishop in Pittsburgh and his "work as a longtime advocate and voice on this issue." (Webmaster's comment: It's not just in the Catholic church, it's in all churches and denominations!)
8-30-18 Pope Francis faces twin battle in Church split over sexual abuse
The crowds are quieter than they used to be. At the Pope's weekly audience in St Peter's Square, tourists and pilgrims barely filled half the piazza. It was easy to get to the front of the crowd to watch Francis go by in his Popemobile. In his address, he reflected on his recent trip to Ireland. "The meeting with eight survivors [of abuse by priests] left a deep impact," he said. The audience was a sombre reminder that the novelty of this papacy has given way to two main battles, which are now tangled into one. The first of these battles puts the Pope up against those who accuse him of not doing enough to tackle child abuse in the Church. Francis's opponents are an ad hoc coalition of abuse survivors, angry Catholics, and secular leaders who believe that the Church has too much unchecked power. The second battle sees the Pope fighting conservative Catholic critics who accuse him of diluting their faith. These critics began their fight shortly after Francis was elected in 2013. In particular, they object to his moves to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to take Communion. They are now adopting the subject of the first battle - child abuse - as a new front in their own long offensive. In the statement, the archbishop accused the Pope of failing to act in 2013 on allegations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had abused minors. The Pope's supporters vehemently question the credibility of this accusation. "The homosexual networks present in the Church must be eradicated," Archbishop Vigano wrote. "These homosexual networks… act under the concealment of secrecy and lie with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church."
8-30-18 US mid-terms: The political storm brewing in Arizona
It is sunset in Arizona and Mother Nature is cracking her knuckles as a summer storm rolls over the desert. The next afternoon, with the skies clear, protesters have gathered in Phoenix outside the Maricopa County jail. They are angry about the immigration policies of the county, the state and the nation. "There should be no borders. There should be no walls," declares Parris Wallace, who is sitting on the ground chained to three fellow protesters, blocking an entrance to the building. "We didn't even ask to come here," adds Ms Wallace, who is African American, referring to the slave trade that transported her ancestors across the ocean. "We were brought here. We were kidnapped." Nearby, a fellow protester holds up a sign which reads "No more deportations". Just a few feet away though another placard carries the opposite message: "Deport All Illegals". Mr Rocha sports a T-shirt bearing the words "Patriot Movement Arizona" and a baseball cap which reads "Border Patrol". He has a crucifix on a chain around his neck, a rifle slung over his shoulder and a handgun on his belt. What are the weapons for, I ask? "To keep them peaceful," he replies, again indicating the crowd. "If they attack me, I'm shooting them. This is Arizona!" And, indeed, America. Donald Trump began his bid for the White House by disparaging some Mexicans as criminals and rapists; he went on to suggest that an American judge of Mexican heritage was incapable of doing his job because of his race; he reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole countries"; he promised to suspend all Muslim immigration; and he tweeted that illegal immigrants would "pour into" and "infest" the US. (Webmaster's comment: We are sitting on a powder keg of white male hatred armed with semi-automatic weapons designed to kill people!)
8-30-18 Trump calls for CNN boss Jeff Zucker to be fired
US President Donald Trump has attacked CNN's president Jeff Zucker on Twitter, saying that he should be fired. President Trump said CNN's "hatred and extreme bias" towards him made the media organisation "unable to function". "Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!" he tweeted. Mr Zucker is currently on six weeks' leave from CNN to recover from having heart surgery. CNN declined to comment on the latest tweets, but directed the BBC to its response on Twitter to President Trump's tweets on Wednesday. The broadcaster also pointed out that its ratings this month - 707,000 viewers - were its second highest ever achieved for the month of August. Further, CNN highlighted the fact that comScore's Multi-Platform Media Metrix ranked CNN as number one in multiplatform visitors, mobile visitors, video starts, millennial reach and social following. In a second tweet on Thursday, President Trump also criticised NBC News. "What's going on at CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with NBC News being the worst," he said. He added that it was "good news" that NBC News chairman Andy Lack could be facing dismissal over his handling of a series of sexual harassment allegations against high-profile news presenters, as well as the hiring of former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Over the last few months, President Trump has also targeted the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In March, he accused the internet giant of ripping off the US Postal Service. In June, he said that the Washington Post was "fake news", and was bought by Amazon in a bid to help it avoid paying internet taxes. (Webmaster's comment: Trump-Hitler continues his attacks on the free press.)
8-30-18 Roy Oliver: Ex-police officer jailed for Jordan Edwards shooting
An ex-police officer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager in Texas. Roy Oliver, who is white, fired a rifle into a car that was driving away from a party in Dallas in April 2017, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. It is very rare for police officers to be convicted in shooting deaths. Oliver's lawyers say they intend to appeal against the verdict. Jordan's family say the jail sentence is too lenient. "He can actually see life again after 15 years - and that's not enough because Jordan can't see life again," his stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, said. On the night of 29 April 2017, police responded to reports of underage drinking at a house party in the suburb Balch Springs. According to police documents, Oliver's partner, Tyler Gross, attempted to stop a car full of teenagers leaving the party. He walked up to the passenger door of the car and punched the window, breaking it. Oliver then fired several times into the car - shooting Jordan, who was in the front passenger seat, in the back of the head. A jury in Texas found Oliver guilty of murder on Tuesday, and on Wednesday night, after 12 hours of deliberation, they sentenced him to 15 years in jail. This means he could be eligible for parole after seven and a half years. Prosecutors had argued for a sentence of at least 60 years. (Webmaster's comment: No forgiveness and no redemption! Throw away the key!)
8-29-18 Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico mayor derides Trump actions
The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital San Juan says President Donald Trump's response to the hurricane that devastated the US territory last year is a "stain on his presidency". Carmen Yulin Cruz's comments came a day after officials said 2,975 people had died in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria last September. The revised death toll is nearly 50 times the previous estimate of 64. "The Trump administration killed the Puerto Rican with neglect," she said. Speaking to CNN, she added: "The Trump administration led us to believe that they were helping when they weren't really up to par." The territory has struggled to repair its infrastructure and power grid since the storm, and is asking US Congress for $139bn (£108bn) in recovery funds. Ms Cruz criticised Mr Trump personally for his response to the crisis, referencing a photo op during which the president threw rolls of paper towels to a crowd of hurricane survivors. On Wednesday Mr Trump defended his administration saying: "I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico." "We have put billions and billions of dollars into Puerto Rico and it was a very tough one," he continued, adding "I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we've done." "Shame on President Trump for not even once - not even yesterday - just saying: 'Look, I grieve with the people of Puerto Rico.'" said Ms Cruz. "This will be a stain on his presidency for as long as he lives. Because rather than come here to support us, he came here to throw paper towels at us, and we will never forget and we will always remember."
8-29-18 Trump warns of 'left-wing violence' if Democrats win mid-term elections
US President Donald Trump has warned that his policies will be "violently" overturned if the Democrats win November's mid-term elections. He told Evangelical leaders that the vote was a "referendum" on freedom of speech and religion, and that these were threatened by "violent people". He appealed to conservative Christian groups for help, saying they were one vote away from "losing everything". Mid-term elections are widely seen as a test of the president's popularity. Mr Trump has been battling negative publicity after his ex-lawyer and former campaign chief were convicted earlier this month. An audio recording of Mr Trump's closed-door meeting with Evangelical leaders at the White House was leaked to US media. During the meeting, Mr Trump said the mid-term elections were not just a referendum on him but also "on your religion, it's a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment [guaranteeing basic freedoms]". "It's not a question of like or dislike, it's a question that they will overturn everything that we've done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa - these are violent people," he said. (Webmaster's comment: The majority of violence comes from Christian male white supremacists who see Trump as their new Hitler!)
8-28-18 The United States and Brazil top the list of nations with the most gun deaths
The first global analysis of firearm-related deaths tallies homicides, suicides and accidents. Gun deaths occur worldwide, but a new survey reveals the hot spots for those that occur outside of war zones. In 2016, firearm-related homicides, suicides and accidental deaths were concentrated in just six countries: the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala. Those nations accounted for about half of the estimated number of gun deaths unrelated to armed conflict. That’s just one takeaway from the first look at the global impact of interpersonal and self-inflicted gun violence on public health, published online August 28 in JAMA. Here’s the big picture: Total global gun deaths rose from 1990 to 2016 Worldwide, an estimated 251,000 people died from guns due to homicide, suicide or unintentional injury in 2016. That’s up from an estimated 209,000 such firearm deaths in 1990, the team found by analyzing data from 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016. In 2016, 64 percent of gun-related deaths were homicides, 27 percent were suicides and 9 percent were accidental deaths. The United States and Brazil are hot spots of gun violence. These two countries accounted for 32 percent of the total number of estimated deaths in 2016. In Brazil and the other top four Latin America countries, most gun deaths were homicides. The high rate of gun homicide in these countries is associated with drug and weapon trafficking, research has found. One-fourth of all global gun-related homicides in 2016 took place in Brazil. (Webmaster's comment: There is no freedom or liberty in a society filled with semi-automatic weapons!)
8-28-18 Protests as police woman who shot man teaches class on shootings
A policewoman who was acquitted of manslaughter after fatally shooting an unarmed black man is now teaching a course on such "critical incidents". The lesson, entitled "Surviving the Aftermath of a Critical Incident" has led to protests in Oklahoma where the shooting, and the class, both occurred. Officer Betty Jo Shelby - who is white - shot and killed an unarmed black father of four in 2016 in Tulsa County. She was acquitted but a jury questioned if she should be banned from policing. She was assigned to permanent desk duty after a jury ruled in 2017 that "serious consideration" must be "given to whether she be allowed to return to practicing law enforcement". Now, only two years after being acquitted over the death of Terence Crutcher, she is working as a police officer in a neighbouring county and teaching a course on the fallout after a police shooting in the very same county where she was accused of manslaughter. "My class is not about the shooting and I do not discuss the shooting," Ms Shelby said in a statement on Monday to KTUL-TV, after residents complained that she should not be permitted to teach her state-approved course in the county where the shooting occurred. (Webmaster's comment: A police woman killing an unarmed back man and now teaching other police how to get away with it!)
8-28-18 Trump attacks 'left-wing' Google search results
President Donald Trump has accused Google of rigging the search results for the phrase "Trump news". In a tweet, he accused the technology giant of prioritising negative news stories from what he described as the "national left-wing media". He said most of the stories that appeared on the results page were negative and that conservative reporting was being "suppressed". Google denied using political viewpoints to shape its search results. Mercedes Bunz, a senior lecturer in digital technology at King's College London, told BBC News it was highly unlikely that Google was deliberately ranking news according to political bias. "Google's news algorithm is optimised for actuality and proximity of an event but it is generally not optimised to look for political orientation," she said. "However, it has a tendency to rank web pages higher that a lot of people link to. "For news, this does not seem to have changed with Google's last update of its search algorithm, which was rolled out on 1 August." Google states on its support page that there are "over 200 factors" that feed into the ranking of a web page on its search engine. In his tweets, President Trump claimed that 96% of the news articles presented by Google in response to the phrase "Trump news" were from left-wing news outlets. (Webmaster's comment: Donald doesn't like the truth! Next will come his censorship threats.)
8-28-18 Can campus diversity survive without affirmative action?
One study suggests it's possible but not feasible. When it comes to campus life, the research is clear: Racial diversity matters. A meta-analysis of two-dozen studies exploring the impact of diversity among students found a positive correlation between diversity and student engagement in civic life. This relationship was especially strengthened by "interpersonal interactions with racially diverse peers." And in a 2015 amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court, the American Psychological Association, acknowledging this kind of benefit, noted how "underrepresentation of minority groups pose significant obstacles to effective education of both minority and non-minority groups." So it raised quite a few eyebrows when, in early July, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued a joint announcement withdrawing federal guidance documents (issued by the Obama administration) endorsing the use of race as a factor in college admissions. The statement reads: "The departments have reviewed the documents and have concluded that they advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution." The announcement is hardly out of step with the times — in fact, it comes amid a groundswell of public opinion against affirmative action. Over the last 20 years, California, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Washington, and Michigan have banned the use of race as a factor in admissions to public universities. There are many reasons why people oppose affirmative action based on race alone, but the main argument against it seems to hinge on it being a violation of a fundamental meritocratic ethos. In any case, polls have shown most Americans are against it. If diversity's benefits are tangible, and if Americans largely remain opposed to race-based affirmative action on anti-meritocratic grounds, is there another way to foster ethnic and racial diversity on the college campus?
8-27-18 1968 Democratic National Convention: A 'week of hate'
More than 50 years on, the Democratic Party's national convention of 1968 continues to haunt the party and cast a shadow over US politics, writes James Jeffrey. The signs before the Democratic National Convention convened in Chicago from August 26 - 29 in 1968 were never good. Anti-war protesters began arriving in the city the week before, vowing to change the party's policy toward the increasingly hated Vietnam War. They included New Left radicals, long-haired hippies and so-called Yippies, members of the Youth International Party, a radical youth-oriented and countercultural offshoot of the 1960s' free speech and anti-war movements fomenting against the US government. Some were bent on disrupting the convention by whatever means necessary, while others focused on more leftfield tactics such as holding a counter convention offering the likes of a nude grope-in for peace and prosperity, and workshops on joint rolling, guerrilla theatre and draft dodging. The force he mobilised against demonstrators included all the city's 12,000 police, supported by 6,000 armed National Guardsman and 1,000 intelligence agents from the FBI, CIA, Army and Navy. Another 6,000 US Army troops were put on standby. The International Amphitheatre hosting the convention was encircled by barbed wire and a long, high chain-link fence, while an 11pm curfew was imposed across the city. By Sunday 25 August, the day before the convention started, the city's Lincoln Park has been taken over by anti-war demonstrators waving banners and shouting obscenities about President Lyndon Johnson and chanting "Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today!" (Webmaster's comment: Hey, hey, DJT! How much hate have you spread today!)
8-27-18 US boy, 9, killed himself after homophobic bullying, mum says
A nine-year-old boy has killed himself after enduring four days of homophobic bullying at school in Denver, Colorado, his mother says. Leia Pierce told KDVR-TV that her son, Jamel Myles, revealed to her over the summer that he was gay. She said Jamel wanted to go to school and tell his classmates because he was "proud" to be gay. Denver Public Schools (DPS) say crisis counsellors have been made available to students at Jamel's elementary school. The school system sent letters to families on Friday about the additional counselling services for students. The letter, addressed to the families of Joe Shoemaker Elementary School pupils, says Jamel's death "is an unexpected loss for our school community" and offers parents signs of stress to watch for in their children. "Our goal is to partner with you in sharing this news with your child in the most appropriate way possible, with as much support as may be needed, so please feel free to reach out about how you want to handle this." DPS Spokesman Will Jones told the BBC that teachers at Shoemaker "are creating a space for students to share how they are feeling and to process their emotions". Fourth and fifth grade teachers will also be calling families individually to check on students. "Our priority right now is to look at all the concerns raised in this case, to keep all our students safe and to do a fair and thorough review of the facts surrounding this tragic loss," he said in an emailed statement. Denver police are investigating the boy's death as a suicide. Jamel's body was found at home on Thursday, Ms Pierce told local media. (Webmaster's comment: Homophobic bullying is the result of gay-hate religious instruction!)
8-27-18 ‘Replication crisis’ spurs reforms in how science studies are done
But some researchers say the focus on reproducibility ignores a larger problem. What started out a few years ago as a crisis of confidence in scientific results has evolved into an opportunity for improvement. Researchers and journal editors are exposing how studies get done and encouraging independent redos of published reports. And there’s nothing like the string of failed replications to spur improved scientific practice. That’s the conclusion of a research team, led by Caltech economist Colin Camerer, that examined 21 social science papers published in two major scientific journals, Nature and Science, from 2010 to 2015. Five replication teams directed by coauthors of the new study successfully reproduced effects reported for 13 of those investigations, the researchers report online August 27 in Nature Human Behavior. Results reported in eight papers could not be replicated. The new study is an improvement over a previous attempt to replicate psychology findings (SN: 4/2/16, p. 8). But the latest results underscore the need to view any single study with caution, a lesson that many researchers and journal gatekeepers have taken to heart over the past few years, Camerer’s team says. An opportunity now exists to create a scientific culture of replication that provides a check on what ends up getting published and publicized, the researchers contend.
8-27-18 Guns are destroying community in America
An armed society is barely a society at all "An armed society is a polite society." That's an idea gun rights advocates believe to their core. (Webmaster's comment: An absolute lie! It's a society of mass killings.) But America's latest mass shooting — at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday — shows that aphorism to be a lie. An armed society is barely a society at all. Consider where mass shootings have taken place in America in recent years: schools, nightclubs, churches, concerts. And now, a gaming tournament. Two people were killed Sunday and a dozen others injured before the gunman — possibly a tournament participant — killed himself. Horrifyingly, the attack played out over a livestream, with the gunshots and agonized screams available for everybody to hear in real time. There is no place where people gather in America that is safe from gun violence. In fact, large gatherings are becoming dangerous targets for the angry and unhinged. As that ugly realization slowly settles in, and gun advocates stand their ground in refusing any new regulations on the ability to possess and use weapons of death, there will only be one option for people concerned about their own safety and the safety of their loved ones: retreat from the public square. This isn't a totally new phenomenon. We've been collectively growing more alienated for years now. Nearly two decades ago, Robert Putnam made the case in his book Bowling Alone that Americans were abandoning community activities in favor of individual activities. In the years since, online culture has exacerbated that trend: People who live in the same town, or even the same neighborhood, can spend years interacting over Twitter or Facebook without ever bothering to have an actual face-to-face meeting. Amazingly, the participants in the Madden NFL 19 tournament had managed to fuse their online lives and their real lives, and had gathered to compete and enjoy each other's company. It should have been a grand, joyful time. But then, a gun was added to the mix, and the event became a death trap.
8-27-18 Pope keeps silent on abuse claim letter at end of Irish visit
Pope Francis has refused to respond to claims by a former Vatican diplomat who has called on him to resign. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano also accused the Pope of covering up reports of sexual abuse by a US cardinal. The pontiff was asked about the accusations by reporters on his flight back to Rome after this weekend's Papal visit to Ireland. He said he would not say a single word in response to the 11-page letter from Archbishop Vigano. "I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you," he said, when asked by a journalist about the letter, "and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves. "I will not say one word on this. I think the statement speaks for itself." The timing of the letter, released as the Pope addressed sexual abuse by priests during his visit to Ireland, has raised questions about whether Pope Francis is facing a coordinated attack from traditionalists within the Catholic hierarchy. "You have sufficient journalistic capacity to draw conclusions," Pope Francis told the reporters on board his plane. "When a little time has passed and you have the conclusions, perhaps I will talk," he added.He says the pontiff knew about allegations of sex abuse by a prominent US cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation last month. Archbishop Vigano says he told Pope Francis in 2013 that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had faced extensive accusations of sexually abusing lower-ranking seminarians and priests. The Pope "knew from at least June 23 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator"., wrote Archbishop Vigano, adding that "he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end".
8-26-18 John McCain was a war criminal!
NAPALM. The only "cooking fluid" they know is very "unfamiliar" – it is delivered through their roofs by U.S. planes. "We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot – if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene – now it sticks like **** to a blanket. But then if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (WP – white phosphorous) so’s to make it burn better. It’ll even burn under water now. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorous poisoning." McCain knew that what he was doing was wrong. Three months before he fell into that Hanoi lake, he barely survived when his fellow sailors accidentally fired a missile at his plane while it was getting ready to take off from his ship. The blast set off bombs and ordnance across the deck of the aircraft carrier. The conflagration, which took 24 hours to bring under control, killed 132 sailors. A few days later, a shaken McCain told a New York Times reporter in Saigon: "Now that I've seen what the bombs and the napalm did to the people on our ship, I'm not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam." Yet he did. "I am a war criminal," McCain said on "60 Minutes" in 1997. "I bombed innocent women and children." Although it came too late to save the Vietnamese he'd killed 30 years earlier, it was a brave statement. Nevertheless, he smiles agreeably as he hears himself described as a "war hero" as he arrives at rallies in a bus marked "No Surrender."
8-26-18 Papal visit: Pope sorry Church 'kept quiet on abuse'
Pope Francis has begged forgiveness for members of the Catholic Church's hierarchy who "kept quiet" about clerical child sex abuse. He is ending a two-day visit to the Republic of Ireland by celebrating a Mass at Dublin's Phoenix Park. The Argentine Pope asked forgiveness for the "abuses in Ireland, abuses of power, conscience and sexual abuses" perpetrated by Church leaders. It is the first papal visit to Ireland for 39 years. Earlier he said no-one could fail to be moved by stories of those who "suffered abuse, were robbed of their innocence and left scarred by painful memories", and reiterated his wish to see justice served. An estimated 200,000 people have flocked to Phoenix Park for the Mass to close the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering that is held every three years. Pope Francis has used the penitential rite of the Mass to list a litany of different types of abuse and mistreatment inflicted on Irish people by Church figures, and the cover-ups of sex crimes. On each occasion he asked for forgiveness, to a smattering of applause from the congregation. (Webmaster's comment: There should be no forgiveness and no redemption for those who physically and mentally abused and raped children! Those children's mental and physical scars will never heal. They are scarred for life!)
8-26-18 The ugly history of 'civility'
The rhetoric of civility and civilization have always been a lie to cover barbaric acts. White House officials, Republican politicians, and right-wing activists have complained in recent months about getting heckled and kicked out of restaurants and Ubers. In July, the Raleigh News & Observer reported that a local Uber driver had expelled six Republican volunteers from a ride, allegedly telling them as he pulled away, "Welcome to the resistance." The response from mainstream pundits was largely to call for civility, but there are strong historical reasons why some Americans don't consider civility an absolute virtue. White people tend to use the word "civilized" in its adjectival form. To them, it describes being polite and respecting other people's opinions and beliefs. For me, as for many other natives, "civilized" is a historical verb, recalling a bloody ultimatum imposed on us by an invading army. White people were never more "civilized" than us; they perpetuated the dichotomy of civilized versus savage to dehumanize us. Those who posit themselves as most civil are often the people with the most power and privilege, and they're also often the most forgetful of the history of this continent, which was founded in blood. I do not believe in civility, just as I do not believe in savagery. I believe in decency and see the living traumas still unresolved in my own people's history. There are remnants of distrust that go back to when my grandmother went to Indian residential school, and indigenous people still distrust the government, not only for the massacres throughout indigenous history, but also for parts of our history that are often neglected or overlooked, like the coerced and forced sterilization of indigenous women in both Canada and the U.S., which occurred as recently as 1990.
8-25-18 Papal visit: Pope shamed by Church's abuse failures
Pope Francis has said he is ashamed of the Catholic Church's failure to adequately address the "repellent crimes" of sex abuse by clergy. The Irish prime minister earlier delivered a strong warning to the Pope to take action against clergy involved in child abuse and keeping it secret. The Pope is expected to meet abuse survivors later on Saturday. The papal visit, the first to the Irish Republic for 39 years, coincides with the World Meeting of Families. It is a global Catholic gathering held every three years. The Argentine Pope's opening remarks echoed a letter he sent to the world's 1.2bn Roman Catholics this week, in which he condemned the "atrocities" of child abuse and clerical cover-ups. "I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education," the Pope told political leaders and dignitaries at Dublin Castle. "The failure of ecclesiastical authorities - bishops, religious superiors, priests and others - adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community," he said. "I myself share those sentiments." The Pope veered off his script when speaking out about abuse, saying he had set out a "greater commitment to eliminating this scourge in the Church, at any cost". (Webmaster's comment: The cure is simple. Get rid if the statue of limitations and turn the suspects of child sex abuse and coverup over to the police for investigation, charges, trials, and very long prison sentences!)
8-24-18 Lies, damned lies and favourite stats
There are lies, damned lies and statistics, the saying goes. Whatever the issue, whether it's Brexit, football or health tips, numbers can be plucked to suit each side of the argument. But while it's easy to lie with figures, it is even easier to lie without them. With statistics, once somebody puts a number in front of you, you can pick holes in it and really analyse whether it stands up or falls apart. To celebrate the power of numbers to shine a light on fake news and bogus claims, the Royal Statistical Society runs a competition for the best statistic of the year. They want people to send in the stat that captures the zeitgeist of 2018, or in some way reveals something surprising or powerful - a hitherto unseen truth. Entries need to be submitted by November 25. To get your ideas going, here are some examples. The UK's overall happiness has increased from 7.29 in 2011 to 7.52 in 2017. The UK has been ranked 19th in the world for happiness over the last two years. That's up from 23rd in 2016. Seven people per year, on average, die from attacks by British cows. In comparison, on average, six people are killed in shark attacks per year globally. Yet it is sharks, rather than cows, that are feared and often demonised in popular culture. Producers for the ITV2 show Love Island announced that more than 85,000 people applied to be on this year's Majorca-based popular reality show. This figure is 3.6 times bigger than the 23,521 UK-based students who applied to study at the universities of Oxford or Cambridge last year. The number of pregnancies per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 17 is at its lowest rate recorded since comparable statistics were first produced in 1969.
8-24-18 Report reveals horrifying abuses by Catholic priests
The Catholic Church has been rocked to its foundations by a Pennsylvania grand jury report that provides horrifying details of seven decades of sexual abuse committed by more than 300 priests who were systematically protected by church leaders. More than 1,000 child victims were identified during an 18-month investigation launched by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, the most sweeping examination yet of the American Catholic Church’s handling of sex crimes. The report describes many of the alleged abuses in shocking detail. One priest forced a 9-year-old to perform oral sex on him, then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water “to purify him.” Another was allowed to stay in the ministry after raping a 17-year-old girl and arranging for an abortion. In Pittsburgh, a group of priests used “whips, violence, and sadism” in sexually assaulting children, gave their victims special gold crosses to mark them as having been “groomed” for abuse, and created a child pornography ring. “Priests were raping little boys and girls,” the report says. “And the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.” The grand jury heard testimony from dozens of witnesses and examined more than half a million internal church documents that Catholic officials referred to as the “secret archives,” which detailed strategies for keeping the information from getting out. The church constructed a “playbook for concealing the truth,” the grand jury wrote. Tactics included using euphemisms like “boundary issues” to describe assaults, lying to parishioners about why accused priests had been reassigned to new dioceses, and leaning on local officials to stop investigations.
Postmodernism, after Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, declared in an interview that “truth is not truth.” Giuliani explained that if Trump’s version of events differs from that of other witnesses in the Russia investigation, it’s not possible to determine which is true, so there’s no need for his testimony. (Webmaster's comment: Think George Orwell's "1984.")
8-24-18 The press: We are not the enemy
I can barely believe it needs to be said, but the free press is not “the enemy of the people,” said Adrian Walker in The Boston Globe. President Trump repeatedly slanders journalists and scorns the very idea of free speech because he “will stop at nothing to silence criticism, no matter how legitimate.” Facts are his real enemy. That’s why over 350 newspapers have joined the Globe in publishing editorials extolling the need for an independent media in a free society. Trump, of course, says the #FreePress editorial campaign proves the media has it in for him, said Charles Pierce in Esquire.com, but “who cares?” If the press won’t band together to defend its “constitutionally protected job” against a corrupt, incompetent, “half-mad paranoid,” no one will.
8-24-18 Let’s hope there’s no N-word tape
Even the fiercest opponents of President Trump should hope that tapes of him saying the N-word, “if they do exist, never see the light of day,” said Jonathan Last. There have long been rumors that Trump was recorded using that word—and other offensive terms—on a hot mike during the Apprentice days. The rumor was reinvigorated when former White House staffer (and Apprentice contestant) Omarosa Manigault Newman released a secret recording of worried Trump campaign aides discussing the N-word tape as “within the realm of possibility.” Given Trump’s disdain for “the norms of decent behavior,” of course it is. Without the Access Hollywood tape, for example, who would believe that Trump would brag about “grabbing women by their genitals?” Yet that tape didn’t break Trump. Instead, “it broke the Republican Party’s willingness to insist that character matters.” The taboo on white people saying the N-word as a racial slur is one of “a handful of norms left in public life.” If Trump is heard saying it on tape, his core defenders will feel obligated to excuse it; in fact, his base will feel licensed to openly use that word and other racial slurs themselves. Thanks to Trump, that taboo, too, “will be shattered.”
8-24-18 Confederate statue falls
Protesters toppled a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina this week, calling the towering sculpture of “Silent Sam” a monument to white supremacy. Silent Sam, a bronze Confederate soldier carrying a rifle, was erected in 1913 to honor students and alumni who served and died in the Confederate army. More than 200 demonstrators gathered the evening before fall classes began, listening to speeches before using ropes to pull down the monument. The statue had been a subject of controversy on campus for 50 years, and calls for its removal intensified after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. The university spent $390,000 on security for it last year. The dismantling drew a rebuke from state officials and university chancellor Carol Folt, who conceded that the statue has been “divisive” but called its toppling “unlawful and dangerous.”
8-24-18 Children massacred
In a hideous mistake, the Saudi Arabian–led coalition fighting in Yemen bombed a school bus, killing 51 people, 40 of them children. The 500-pound, laser-guided bomb that obliterated the bus was manufactured by U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin, and the State Department had approved its sale to Saudi Arabia. Up to a third of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen over the three-year-long war have hit civilian targets, according to the United Nations, and most of the bombs dropped were supplied by American companies. “The U.S. is not investigating strikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition,” said Pentagon spokesperson Rebecca Rebarich. Saudi Arabia is supporting the Yemeni government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Stereotyping, after an 18-year-old Afghan refugee was denied asylum in Austria because he didn’t seem gay enough to be a victim of persecution. “Neither your gait, your behavior, or your clothing have even hinted that you could be homosexual,” officials said. (Webmaster's comment: Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.)
8-24-18 More Parents, Children Fearful for Safety at School
At the start of the first school year after the widely publicized school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a higher percentage of parents than usual say they fear for their child's safety at school. Currently, 35% of parents express this concern, up from 24% a year ago and the highest at the start of a school year since a 47% reading in August 1999. However, concern has been even higher when the question was asked immediately after a school shooting, such as the record 55% Gallup measured the day after the April 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. While the question simply asks about children's "physical safety" at school, which could include bullying, physical or sexual assault, and school shootings, parental concern has typically spiked in the aftermath of a high-profile school shooting. The most recent increase follows the February Parkland shooting, which took 17 lives, and another shooting in May in Santa Fe, Texas, in which 10 people died.
- 35% of parents fear for child's safety at school, up from 24% in 2017
- A near-record-high 20% of parents say their child has expressed fears
8-23-18 Trump administration 'considers funding guns in schools'
The Trump administration is considering allowing schools to access federal education funding to purchase guns for teachers, US media report. The Department of Education (DoE) is looking at allowing states to use academic enrichment funds for firearms, the New York Times first reported. The federal grant being considered for this purpose is one that does not specifically prohibit buying weapons. Congress forbids using federal funds for school safety to purchase weapons. DoE spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill told CBS News: "The department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety." "The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios," she added. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in March that left 17 people dead, US lawmakers passed a $50m (£39m) school safety bill that approved spending on metal detectors, locks and other security - but expressly forbade the purchase of guns. US media report that the DoE is now turning to Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants to serve as a way of arming teachers and school officials with federal funds. (Webmaster's comment: Turning our children's schools into war zones!)
8-23-18 US school faces backlash after black student's 'unnatural hair' criticised
A video of a schoolgirl leaving class because her braids violated school rules has generated a discussion on discrimination and the lack of understanding about black people's hair. Eleven-year-old Faith Fennidy is shown in footage posted on Facebook wiping away tears as she packs up her belongings at the Christ the King Parish School in Terrytown, Louisiana. Faith's mother Montrelle is heard asking a teacher to explain why her daughter's braids, that are tied in a ponytail, contravene school policy. "What's wrong with her hair? Her hair is fine," she says. The private school says students cannot have extensions or hairpieces, that are often used to create long braided hairstyles. In a statement to the BBC, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said the school's policy allowed only "natural hair". "This policy was communicated to all parents during the summer and again before the first day of school, and was applied to all students. "The school offered the student's family an opportunity to comply with the uniform and dress policy and the family chose to withdraw the student; the student was not suspended or expelled." are looking for another school for Faith to attend. (Webmaster's comment: American religious racists will find any excuse to get rid of black children.)
8-23-18 South Africa rejects Donald Trump's tweet on farmer killings
South Africa has accused US President Donald Trump of seeking to sow division after his tweet referring to the "large-scale killing of farmers". He said he had asked his secretary of state to look into the matter of "seizing land from white farmers". South Africa's presidential spokeswoman said Mr Trump was "misinformed". Last month, South Africa said it would go ahead with plans to amend the constitution, allowing land to be expropriated without compensation. The redistribution of land was a fundamental principle of the governing African National Congress (ANC) during its struggle against white-minority rule. But 24 years after apartheid ended, white people - who make up just 9% of the population - own 72% of the farmland held by individuals, according to government figures. Mr Ramaphosa told parliament on Wednesday that South Africa needed to speed up the pace of land reform to correct a historical injustice. However, the South Africa president said it would be done in an ordered manner and there would be no land grabbing. On the farm killings, he added: "It's absolute rubbish to say there's white genocide. There's black genocide in the USA. They're killing black people in the USA." A BBC Reality Check investigation in November found there was no reliable data to suggest farmers were at greater risk of being murdered than the average South African.
8-23-18 BlacKkKlansman: The black man who took on the Klan
Heard the one about the black cop who infiltrated the KKK? Read the true story behind BlacKkKlansman, the latest film from director Spike Lee. In October 1978 Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department, saw a classified advert in one of the city's daily newspapers. The ad invited readers interested in receiving information from the Ku Klux Klan to write to a PO box located in a nearby town. Stallworth, curiosity piqued, wrote a note to the PO box under his own name. In it he claimed to be a white man who was interested in learning more about the KKK's activities. Two weeks later he received a phone call from the local organiser of the Klan's Colorado Springs chapter, asking him why he wished to join. From these speculative beginnings sprang an audacious undercover investigation, conducted first over the phone but eventually involving face-to-face contact. It led to one of Stallworth's white colleagues impersonating him with such success he was invited to become leader of the Klan's local chapter. It also led to the exposure of white supremacists in the military, the thwarting of numerous planned cross burnings and Stallworth becoming a card-carrying member of one of America's most detested organisations. Most detested, yes. Brightest, no. At no point during Stallworth's investigation did his fellow Knights of the Ku Klux Klan suspect the man they were talking to over the phone and the man who was attending their meetings were not the same person. Their favoured method of setting their kerosene-soaked wooden crucifixes alight, meanwhile, was literally inspired by something they'd seen in a movie.
8-22-18 The drug war is a moral monstrosity. End it. Now.
America's war on drugs has failed in myriad ways — including by providing legal cover for gross sexual abuse by law enforcement. Consider the experience of C.R., a 16-year-old girl who traveled with her adult sisters on a family trip to Mexico last fall. At the San Ysidro pedestrian port in Southern California, she was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who said a drug sniffing dog had alerted in her direction. As the lawsuit C.R.'s family has since filed details, the agents demanded she undress, relinquishing even her sanitary pad, and squat "while officers probed and shined a flashlight at her vaginal and anal areas." She cried throughout the ordeal, and no drugs were found. This is rape.It does not matter that the rapists wore government uniforms. It does not matter that they were merely following orders. It does not matter that they were not acting on personal sexual impulses. They raped this girl because a dog — an easily manipulated animal motivated chiefly by a desire to please its handler — pointed at her. They raped this girl because our government has decided that its futile effort to control what Americans consume is more important than our most basic rights to bodily integrity.C.R. is not the CBP's only victim. As The Washington Post reported Sunday, the last seven years have seen at least 11 similarly disturbing lawsuits accusing CBP of grossly invasive searches of women and girls at U.S. ports of entry.
8-22-18 Chloe Grace Moretz: 'My brothers tried to pray the gay away'
Chloe Grace Moretz's new film tackles the controversial issue of gay conversion therapy - an issue that's close to home for the actress. In The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Moretz plays a teenager sent away to a Christian gay conversion camp in the 1990s. Description
8-22-18 George Church: The maverick geneticist now wants to reverse ageing
He stirred controversy with his plans to bring back the woolly mammoth. But first he's working on editing sperm – and trying out his ageing reversal techniques on dogs. HE MADE his name as a pioneer of gene sequencing in the 90s. Since then, however, George Church has also gained a reputation as something of a maverick, with his often-controversial ideas on how to apply gene editing, most notably his project to bring back the woolly mammoth. Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a prolific entrepreneur. He has also worked for decades to get more people to have their genome sequenced, and with his latest company, he hopes he has hit on a way to do just that. Why work on ageing reversal in dogs first? One of the reasons is we can make the cost much lower. The FDA approval for veterinary products is a lot faster and cheaper, and I want the world to get used to the idea that gene therapies can be inexpensive. Dogs are a really good product target, but they are also a good segue to humans because they are similar in size, they live in our environment, they eat our food, we are responsive to their emotional state. In many ways, they are like children. What do you really mean by ageing reversal? Ageing reversal is a much better target than longevity. It’s very difficult to get the FDA to approve a drug that will make you live 20, 30 years longer. The FDA requires you to prove exactly what you want to put on the label, so if you want to put 30 years of added longevity, you have to do a 30-year study. We’re saying we can achieve ageing reversal in maybe a couple of months, so then our study can be that short.
8-21-18 ICE arrests man driving pregnant wife to hospital in California
Immigration agents have arrested an undocumented immigrant who was driving his pregnant wife to hospital to give birth. Joel Arrona-Lara and his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, were on their way for a pre-scheduled Caesarean section when they were stopped in California. (Webmaster's comment: ICE, the worst gang of Trump's government brutes. They'll tear you out a surgery to arrest you.)
8-21-18 Fire the Catholic Church
It's time to replace them — nearly all of them. The Catholic Church in this country is led by villains and cowards. It would be a good thing if most, if not all, of our bishops resigned or were deposed. The report released earlier this month by a grand jury in Pennsylvania detailing alleged sexual abuse — the vast majority of the more than 1,000 victims teenaged boys abused by some 300 priests over 70 years — defies description. For someone who has long regarded himself as a traditional-minded but sane Catholic, tales of satanic sex cults to which the clergy belonged and other unspeakable blasphemies long peddled by Fr. Malachi Martin have seemed like the products of lurid, diseased imaginations. But having spent nearly a week reading slowly through all 1,400 pages of the report, I can say I was wrong. All of these things exist. When Blessed Pope Paul VI said that the "smoke of Satan had entered the Church" half a century ago, he meant it quite literally. On Sunday, virtually every American Catholic who attended Mass heard a letter from his or her bishop read aloud. Some of these letters, including the one written by my own ordinary Bishop Paul Bradley of Kalamazoo, Michigan, contained some lucid and even admirable sentences. Most did not. A typical example of such a letter was the one attributed to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the former bishop of Pittsburgh. This missive, which was rightly mocked from at least one pulpit in his own diocese (why not all of them?), did not contain a single reference to sin or God but was full of corporate buzzwords and self-serving lawyerese. Wuerl is only one disgraceful prelate. To rehearse all the evasions, elisions, prevarications, and other species of stupidity in the various clergy letters and the multitude of crimes for which they are meant to cover would exhaust the space of a short column. It is simpler to make a handful of straightforward observations.
8-21-18 An Update on Catholics in the U.S.
The release of the new grand jury report documenting sexual abuse committed by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania over the past seven decades has been another blow to the Roman Catholic Church. (Webmaster's comment: And that's in only one of the 50 states! Proportionally that would be over 7,647 priests in all states.) Over the past four years, an average of 49% of Catholics have rated the honesty and ethics of "the clergy" as very high or high, better than the 43% honesty rating among Protestants. For Catholics, this does represent a modest five-percentage-point drop from the years 2004-2005. But Protestants' views of the honesty of the clergy were essentially the same as Catholics' views in 2004-2005, meaning Protestants' views have dropped more than twice as much as Catholics' since that period. Confidence in organized religion has also fallen significantly among Protestants in recent years. In fact, until about 2015, Protestants had more confidence than Catholics in organized religion. Now, because of the drop in confidence among Protestants, Catholics have a slightly more positive view of organized religion than Protestants do. (Webmaster's comment: Many Catholic priests have an evil thing for raping children!)
8-21-18 US students topple Confederate soldier statue in North Carolina
Student protesters toppled a controversial Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday night. The statue of a Confederate soldier, nicknamed Silent Sam, has been a target of vandalism and protests for decades. Some 250 protesters also argued with a handful of counter-protesters, some in Confederate flag T-shirts, media said. Symbols for the losing side of the American Civil War have become a major flashpoint in a national race debate. Monday's action is the latest move to dismantle Confederate memorials, which critics call racially offensive, considering the history of slavery in the southern US states. Supporters argue they preserve American history. Protesters, including students, university staff and local residents, pulled down the 1913 statue using rope and buried its face in dirt, student paper The Daily Tar Heel said. "Last night's actions were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured," the university said in a statement on Twitter. "The police are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage." Protesters gathered to express their frustration at inaction by university leaders and to support a student facing possible sanctions for splashing red ink and blood on Silent Sam in an April protest. "It's time to tear down Silent Sam. It's time to tear down UNC's institutional white supremacy," student Maya Little, who faces charges, told the crowd on Monday. (Webmaster's comment: Confederate soldiers were not heroes. They fought and killed to preserve slavery. Human ownership of people which involved the rape, mutilation, and killing of slaves by the tens of thousands.)
8-21-18 Fact checkers have a Medicare-for-all problem
Tripping over themselves to attack Medicare-for-all, Fact Knowers make howling errors. Medicare-for-all: Would it save American society money? That question has been tying fact checkers in knots over the past several weeks. One recent working paper put out by the libertarian Mercatus Center unwittingly answered in the affirmative, to the tune of over $2 trillion over a 10-year period. But so far The Washington Post, The Associated Press, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and CNN have absolutely beclowned themselves trying to dispute the study's clear finding. Here's the background. Bernie Sanders has a Medicare-for-all bill that he put out last year. It would fold all Americans into an upgraded Medicare system over four years, which would now cover dental, vision, and hearing with no cost-sharing. Prescription drugs would be covered with small cost-sharing, capped at $250 per year. It would be paid for with new taxes, but offset by zeroing out insurance premiums and almost all cost-sharing. When it comes to overall spending, this would have three effects pulling in different directions. First, there would be higher utilization and thus more spending, as people who were prevented from seeking treatment due to cost could now go to the doctor. But second, medical providers would be paid somewhat less, because Medicare reimbursement rates are 40 percent lower than those of private insurance — though they are higher than Medicaid (the largest insurer in the country) and much higher than that of uninsured people who simply can't pay for the emergency treatment that hospitals are legally required to provide. Third, because they would now only have to deal with one billing system, providers would be able to dramatically streamline their administrative apparatus. A Health Affairs study of eight rich countries, for instance, found U.S. hospitals spent by far the highest faction of their budgets on administration, at 25.3 percent — while those of the Netherlands spent 19.8 percent, the U.K. spent 15.5 percent, and Canada spent 12.4 percent.
8-19-18 Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani: Truth isn't truth
President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has raised eyebrows by claiming that "truth isn't truth" during a television interview. Mr Giuliani was arguing that Mr Trump should not testify to the Russia probe, as he might be "trapped into perjury". "Truth is truth", NBC host Chuck Todd countered. Mr Giuliani denied this was the case, and said two rival versions of events were in contention. His reply seemed to echo controversial claims from Trump aides about facts. In January last year Kellyanne Conway told Todd's programme, Meet the Press, that the White House was entitled to present "alternative facts" - to which Todd retorted: "Alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods." The exchange on Meet the Press on Sunday began with Mr Todd asking Mr Giuliani whether the Trump team was stalling about a possible testimony at the inquiry led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 US election. Mr Giuliani said: "I'm not going to be rushed into having him testify so he can be trapped into perjury." He added: "When you tell me that he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth." Todd responded: "Truth is truth." Mr Giuliani said: "Truth isn't truth." The interviewer put his hand on his forehead and said: "This is going to become a bad meme!" (Webmaster's comment: Newspeak right out of George Orwell's novel "1984!")
8-19-18 Latter Day Saints church leader rejects 'Mormon' label
People should no longer use the word "Mormon" to characterise the faith, the head of the Utah-based church has said. Church leader Russell Nelson urged both followers and non-followers to stick to the official designation "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". Mr Nelson, 93, said the move had been prompted by God, who "impressed upon my mind the importance of the name". However, he added, the central text of the Church would still be called the Book of Mormon. The church's updated online guide says the terms "Mormon Church", "Mormons" and "Mormonism" are no longer acceptable. It also bans the abbreviation "LDS" as shorthand for the faith. For the followers of the church, the president is also a prophet who receives divine revelations. Among the faith's followers is 2012 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Members of the church worship Jesus Christ, but have substantial differences in belief to the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian denominations. (Webmaster's comment: God talks to him and he passes on what's important.)
8-18-18 Behind the exodus from US state schools
The number of children taught at home in the US is steadily growing. What's behind parents' concerns with the education system? As fierce national debate over controversial social justice issues spills into America's public schools, many parents are responding by pulling their children out. This is playing out in Texas especially, because even though independent-minded Texans typically don't have much time for government meddling, many nevertheless adhere to that higher form of government - religion. Hence many Texas parents are increasingly frustrated at what they perceive as religion being phased out of Texas public schools. "Religion is a taboo subject in public schools across the board," says Shannon Helmi in Austin, the Texas capital, where she has chosen to educate her four daughters privately with Regina Caeli, a homeschooling hybrid that teaches a curriculum based on the Catholic tradition. "I don't think our state educators set out to be anti-religion, rather the education provided by the state must not be biased towards any religion. The problem [is that] an unbiased approach in education is unattainable - education is based on some original source, so if our education is based on no source it's ultimately anti-source." Parents and teachers in Texas also complain about the state's public schools being made to march to the tune of an aggressive liberal agenda. The result sees Texas parents voting with their feet and embracing a plethora of alternative private schooling systems that teach the likes of Christian theologians and Greek philosophers. (Webmaster's comment: The real reason is that you can't teach religious hatred and racism at public schools, but you can at home!)
8-18-18 They fought and died for America. Then America turned its back.
How the U.S. abandoned Filipino soldiers who fought under the American flag in World War II. Patrick Ganio had lived to see his country invaded, its defenses smashed, and his comrades fall on the battlefield. But he had lived, and that was no small feat — not after the Allied surrender and the torturous march that followed, 60 miles inland from their defeat on the Bataan peninsula, all the way to the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. Battered, wounded, and starving, the soldiers who stumbled along the way were swiftly dispatched, run through with the blade of a Japanese bayonet. There would be no slowing down. To falter meant certain death. Still, Ganio had survived. In a war that claimed nearly 57,000 Filipino soldiers and untold numbers of civilians, Ganio lived to see the dawn of the Philippine liberation. He was freed, allowed to go home to his family and rejoin the fight on behalf of the Philippine resistance. By 1945, three years of Japanese occupation were at a close, and the end of World War II was mere months away. All it would take would be one final push to effectively expel the Japanese Army from the Philippine Islands. That's how Ganio found himself once again in the battlefield, this time pinched between two mountain ranges on the rugged slopes of Balete Pass. Sniper fire whistled down from the peaks, where enemy fighters had barricaded themselves inside caves and pillbox bunkers. Control over Luzon, the Philippines' main island, was at stake. Patriotism had first motivated Ganio to enlist back in 1941, fresh out of school at age 20. At the time, the Philippines were a United States territory — spoils from its victory in the Spanish-American War — and Ganio took to serving the United States military with zeal.
8-16-18 'Your word against God's': Survivors of Pennsylvania clerical abuse
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has released a grand jury report naming more than 300 clergymen accused of sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The document said hundreds of young boys and girls, as well as teenagers, were abused by clergy. Along with the report, the office of the attorney general in Pennsylvania released this video with testimony from three victims.
8-16-18 The medical lobby is already peddling lies about Medicare-for-all
Medicare-for-all is getting some real momentum behind it, with several more supporters winning congressional primaries on Tuesday night. The medical industry — drug companies, insurance companies, medical providers, and others — has thus been gearing up to preserve the fat profits they enjoy under the horrendous status quo. They've formed a group called The Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF) to run a propaganda campaign against universal health care. Their main argument is pretty clearly going to be centered around loss-aversion. "Most Americans support commonsense, pragmatic solutions that don't interrupt the coverage they rely upon for themselves and their families," PAHCF spokesman Erik Smith told The Hill. (Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman have made similar points.) But this argument is garbage. Medicare-for-all would mean vastly more people enjoying good health care, and dramatically fewer people getting kicked off their insurance overall. For starters, the status quo system leaves about 30 million people uninsured. Those people don't get to rely on the "commonsense, pragmatic solutions" of our current system, they just go without health care, or die of preventable diseases, or are driven into bankruptcy by wildly overpriced treatment. Incidentally, the first thing most medical lobby clients do to uninsured patients is bleed them of every last penny by charging them immensely higher prices than insured ones. Many can't pay, of course, meaning others end up being charged more to cover the difference. But let's examine the core of the case — the roughly half of the non-elderly population that is on employer-sponsored insurance. It is true, of course, that there would be an enormous one-time switch where those people are transferred from their current plan onto Medicare (under the Sanders bill, actually several smaller switches as the program is gradually rolled out over four years). After the program is fully implemented, private insurers would be forbidden from offering benefits that duplicate those of Medicare, effectively finishing off private health insurance since the new program would be so generous. Eventually everyone would end up switching over. But contrary to the deceptive implication of Smith that there would be some interruption in coverage — implying a period of no insurance — Medicare would kick in immediately, and permanently. More importantly, the status quo system is constantly kicking people off their insurance. Just consider the life cycle of the average person. Children typically get coverage through their parents (if they are insured, that is), now up to age 26 thanks to ObamaCare. But once that birthday is reached, they get kicked off. If they are lucky enough to have a job with insurance benefits at that point, then they can be enrolled in a new plan. But if they ever lose that job or find a new job, then they get kicked off again, and once more every time they move jobs. Even people who remain in jobs can end up switching plans, as employers often shop around for a better deal.
8-16-18 Trump's 'dirty war' on media draws editorials in 300 US outlets
More than 300 news outlets have launched a campaign to counter US President Donald Trump's attacks and promote a free press. The Boston Globe made the call last week for a nationwide denouncement of the president's "dirty war" against the media, using the hashtag #EnemyOfNone. Mr Trump has derided media reports as "fake news" and attacked journalists as "enemies of the people". And he tweeted on Thursday: "The fake news media is the opposition party." "It is very bad for our great country... But we are winning!" UN experts have warned that Mr Trump's comments about the media raise the risk of violence against journalists. The Boston Globe had pledged to write an editorial "on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press" on 16 August, and asked others to do the same. The initial positive response from 100 news organisations has grown closer to 350 with major US national newspapers and smaller local outlets answering the call, along with international publications like the UK newspaper The Guardian. Starting with the Boston Globe itself, the editorial there, headlined Journalists Are Not The Enemy, argued that a free press had been a core American principle for more than 200 years. The New York Times chose the headline A Free Press Needs You, calling Mr Trump's attacks "dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy". It published excerpts from dozens more publications beneath. (Webmaster's comment: Hitler did the same thing prior to shutting down the free press in Germany.)
8-16-18 Corona beer owner to pour $4bn into weed
Corona beer owner Constellation Brands is set to pour some $4bn (£3.15bn) into Canada's top cannabis producer, Canopy Growth, in a deal marking the largest investment in the industry to date. Last year, Constellation injected $200m into Canopy in a deal to produce a non-alcoholic cannabis-based beverage. The alcohol firm wants to capitalise on the growing legalisation of the drug. On news of the deal, Canopy's Toronto-listed stock surged 30%, while on Wall Street, Constellation's fell 6%. The two firms said the investment would allow Canopy to expand its business reach "in the nearly 30 countries pursuing a federally permissible medical cannabis programme". Canopy, which has the largest legal cannabis production footprint in the world, currently produces cannabis-based oils and soft gel caps, among other products. With Constellation's latest injection of cash, Canopy plans to expand its suite of products to include edible bars, inhalers and pre-rolled items. It also wants to develop cannabinoid-based medicines that provide a safer alternative to some mainstream treatments for pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and psoriasis. "This [deal] marks the end of the warm-up in our sector... it's fully go-time," said Canopy's chief executive Bruce Linton on an investment call. Constellation, which makes and markets beer, wine and spirits in the US, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Italy, noted that governments around the world had already signalled a significant change in attitudes towards cannabis and cannabis-based products.
8-16-18 Dozens overdose in Connecticut park near Yale
Police have made three arrests after more than 70 people overdosed in a Connecticut city. Some 52 of the 71 overdoses happened on New Haven's downtown green, next to Yale University's campus, said Fire Chief John Alston. The first three overdoses were reported on Tuesday night and the tally steadily rose throughout Wednesday, officials said. New Haven officials said the substance was K2, a synthetic cannabinoid. The incident comes in the wake of a new report that found a record 72,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2017. One man arrested on Wednesday is suspected of a connection to some of the drugs that caused the overdoses, NBC News Connecticut reported. Dr Kathryn Hawk, an Emergency Department physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, said the K2 may have been laced with fentanyl, a potent painkiller, but police have yet to confirm this. No one has died, but two individuals were in a critical condition. On Tuesday night, emergency crews responded to three overdoses in New Haven Green park. Eighteen people collapsed on Wednesday morning within a span of three-and-a-half hours, officials said. Some of the people were unconscious - others were vomiting, hallucinating or experiencing high blood pressure and shallow breathing.
8-15-18 Snapshot: About One in Four Young Adults Use Marijuana
While 13% of Americans say they "regularly" or "occasionally" use or smoke marijuana, the rate is significantly higher among the 18 to 29 age group and is higher in the West than in other regions of the country. Marijuana is most popular among 18- to 29-year-olds -- about one in four (24%) adults in this age group report regularly or occasionally using it. This is on par with an average 22% of 18- to 29-year-olds across three surveys from 2015 to 2017 who answered "yes" when asked whether they do, or do not, "smoke marijuana." In both the latest and previous questions on the topic, use of marijuana is progressively lower in each older age bracket. Meanwhile, one in five adults living in the West (20%), where all coastal states have legalized recreational marijuana, use marijuana regularly or occasionally, which is about twice as high as in the other three regions of the country.
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.