You are not Alone!
140 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for October 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
Gunman opens fire at US synagogue
A gunman has entered a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and opened fire, police report.
US mail bombs: Cesar Sayoc charged after campaign against Trump critics
A 56-year-old man has been arrested in Florida in connection with a mail-bombing campaign aimed at critics of US President Donald Trump.
Kentucky grocery gun shootings were 'possible hate crime'
The fatal shootings of two African-Americans at a grocery store near Louisville, Kentucky are being investigated as a possible federal hate crime, US officials say.
IT HAS BEGUN! THE EVIL IS NOW UNLEASHED! WHO WILL BE NEXT! The white supremacists are now actively attacking Jews, Liberals and News Media, and Blacks as encouraged by Trump and his hate-filled supporters!
10-30-18 Birthright citizenship is America's deepest heritage. It must be protected.
President Trump just opened another front in the war that defined his candidacy from the start. Not the decision to send troops to the southern border to deter a caravan of Central American migrants from entering the United States, but his call to eliminate birthright citizenship. It's a radical move that would profoundly reshape the very definition of "American." And rather than trying to ward off that change by waving around the 14th Amendment — which enshrines birthright citizenship in the Constitution — like a totem, it's worth explaining why. Defining citizenship by place of birth — jus soli — rather than only by blood descent — jus sanguines — feels distinctly American. But that birthright, contrary to President Trump's assertion, isn't America's alone. Unconditional or nearly unconditional birthright citizenship is a feature of most countries of the so-called New World, including Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and all the countries of Central America. The obvious reason: The overwhelming majority of the population in these countries traces its descent to settlers and immigrants, people who came from elsewhere, and who already had some other nationality. If "Americans" are a people at all, it's because we are in this place together, and have made a collective identity here together. The peoples who have a rationale to restrict membership to those with the proper lineage are groups like the Cherokee Nation or native Hawaiians, who were here first, and who want to preserve a communal identity in the absence of territorial control. "Americans" are not such a group. (Webmaster's comment: Another attack on our Statue of Liberty which says: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!")
10-31-18 Trump’s birthright plan: The legality, politics and history
President Donald Trump says he plans to end "birthright citizenship" in the US by executive order. Can he do that? In an interview with Axios, President Trump claimed that he was working on an end to birthright citizenship, the 150-year-old principle that says anyone born on US soil is an American citizen. "It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Mr Trump said. "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order." Mr Trump claimed that such an order was currently in the works, and not long after, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted: "I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President @realDonaldTrump." The president's comments have ignited a furious debate about whether or not the president has the unilateral power to do such a thing, and whether the underlying premise - that birthright citizenship is exploited by undocumented immigrants - has any merit. The first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US constitution establishes the principle of "birthright citizenship." "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that 60% of Americans opposed ending birthright citizenship, while 37% were in favour. (Webmaster's comment: You cannot override the Constitution with an Executive Order! That is Bullshit!)
10-31-18 Pittsburgh shooting: Trump visits synagogue amid protests
US President Donald Trump has offered condolences at the Pennsylvania synagogue where 11 Jewish worshippers were shot dead at the weekend. He was joined by First Lady Melania Trump, his daughter and son-in-law at the Tree of Life temple in Pittsburgh. Hundreds of protesters gathered on the street chanting slogans against the president. The visit came as mourners attended the first funerals for victims of the massacre. The Trumps were greeted on Tuesday by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who led them inside the temple, where the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history unfolded on Saturday. At a memorial outside, Mrs Trump placed a flower and the president laid a small stone on a marker for each of the victims. Critics accuse Mr Trump of fomenting a surge in white nationalist and neo-Nazi activity through divisive rhetoric which has seen him criticise immigrants and Muslims in particular. Some Jewish figures and Pittsburgh's Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto opposed the presidential visit. More than 70,000 people signed an open letter from Pittsburgh-based Jewish leaders saying that President Trump was "not welcome" in the city unless he "fully denounces white nationalism". The top four Republican and Democratic congressional leaders declined a White House invitation to join Mr Trump in Pennsylvania. Members of Pittsburgh's Jewish community were among about 2,000 demonstrators who held a protest, according to Reuters news agency. As the president was driven through Pittsburgh, some bystanders made obscene gestures to his motorcade and thumbs-down gestures, reports AP news agency. As Mr Trump arrived at the synagogue, demonstrators chanted "President Hate, leave our state" and "Words have meaning".
10-31-18 Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row
A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarised the nation. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws. Demonstrations against the verdict are being held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan. Clashes with police have been reported. The Red Zone in the capital Islamabad, where the Supreme Court is located, has been sealed off by police, and paramilitary forces have been deployed to keep protesters away from the court. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, who read out the ruling, said Asia Bibi could walk free from jail in Sheikupura, near Lahore, immediately if not wanted in connection with any other case. She was not in court to hear the ruling, but reacted to the verdict from prison with apparent disbelief. "I can't believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really?" AFP news agency quoted her as saying by phone. The trial stems from an argument Asia Bibi, whose full name is Asia Noreen, had with a group of women in June 2009. They were harvesting fruit when a row broke out about a bucket of water. The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean. Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response. She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation. (Webmaster's comment: Don't move to or visit Pakistan!)
10-30-18 Canada's last witch trials: Women accused of fake witchcraft
A law against pretending to practise witchcraft will soon be repealed in Canada. But that hasn't stopped local police from prosecuting those who use the "dark arts" to bilk people for thousands of dollars. Two Canadian women have been charged with pretending to practise witchcraft, breaking a little-known law in Canada's criminal code that could soon be out the door. The first charge was levied against Dorie "Madeena" Stevenson, a fortune teller from Milton, Ontario on 18 October after a months-long investigation. She is accused of defrauding a client of C$60,000 ($45,700; £35,700) in cash and property. A week later, Toronto psychic Samantha Stevenson was also arrested in a similar but unrelated investigation. Police allege she convinced a man the only way to get rid of "evil spirits" in his home would be to sell it, and transfer the proceeds into her account. The accused often advertise themselves as a psychic or religious healer, and demand large sums of money to help remove curses or evil spirits from clients, police say. "What we typically see is a tendency for perpetrators to take advantage of persons when they are in their most vulnerable state," wrote Det Sgt Dave Costantini of Halton Regional Police, in a press release. "Victims are manipulated into believing something bad will happen to them unless they remit cash. We even see incidents where victims are required to make purchases and remit these purchases in order to be cleansed. "When victims cannot be squeezed any longer, the perpetrators rely on the victim's embarrassment in not contacting police." The charges could lead to Canada's last witch trials, as the section of the law banning pretending to practise witchcraft will soon be repealed. (Webmaster's comment: Don't believe in anything claiming to be supernatural!)
10-30-18 Young people’s memories improved when they stopped using marijuana
A new study suggests that some brain impairment can be reversed. Taking a monthlong break from pot helps clear away young people’s memory fog, a small study suggests. The results show that not only does marijuana impair teenagers’ and young adults’ abilities to take in information, but that this memory muddling may be reversible. Scientists have struggled to find clear answers about how marijuana affects the developing brain, in part because it’s unethical to ask children to begin using a drug for a study. But “you can do the opposite,” says neuropsychologist Randi Schuster. “You can get kids who are currently using, and pay them to stop.” For a study published October 30 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Schuster and her colleagues did just that. The team recruited 88 Boston-area youngsters ages 16 to 25 years old who reported using marijuana at least once a week, and offered 62 of them money to quit for a month. Participants were paid more money as the experiment went along, with top earners banking $535 for their month without pot. The money “worked exceptionally well,” says Schuster, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. Urine tests showed that 55 of the 62 participants stopped using marijuana for the 30 days of the experiment. Along with regular drug tests, participants underwent attention and memory tests. Tricky tasks that required close monitoring of number sequences and the directions and locations of arrows revealed that, over the month, young people’s ability to pay attention didn’t seem to be affected by their newfound abstinence. (Webmaster's comment: More evidence that marijuana fries your brain.)
10-30-18 People who gave up smoking cannabis had a memory boost within a week
Cannabis use really does weaken your memory. People who gave up smoking the drug saw their cognitive abilities improve after just a week. Though cannabis has a reputation for making people less mentally sharp, it’s hard to know if the drug causes the problems or if people who smoke it have a worse memory to begin with. The only definitive way to find out is a randomised trial, where some people who don’t normally smoke cannabis take it up for months, but this wouldn’t ever get past an ethics board. So Randi Schuster at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston hit on the idea of a trial that asks existing users to stop and compares them with a control group who continue. Schuster’s team recruited 88 people aged between 16 and 25 who used cannabis at least once a week. Two-thirds of them, chosen at random, were incentivised with cash to quit for a month, with regular urine tests to keep everyone honest. At the start of the trial and once a week they took various mental tests. The quitters scored significantly better in memory tasks in the first week, and stayed at that level for the rest of the month. Those who continued using cannabis only improved their scores slightly over the month, probably because they were getting used to the tests, says Schuster. Brain-scanning studies have shown that regular cannabis users have lower amounts of a receptor in the brain that binds chemicals in the drug. This receptor is normally found at high levels in the hippocampus, part of the brain involved in memory, says Tom Freeman at the University of Bath, UK, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It makes sense that this is where we are going to see the impairments.”
10-30-18 The right's deadly anti-Semitism problem
There is a deadly outbreak of anti-Semitism in America. On Saturday, a gunman opened fire on the congregants of the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, a Pittsburgh suburb. The alleged culprit, a 46-year white man, killed 11 congregants and wounded six more people, including four police officers. Witnesses reported that the murderer shouted "All Jews must die!" in the process. It was the deadliest single act of anti-Semitic violence in American history. As usual, people looked for motivating factors afterwards. In this case, they did not have to look far. The alleged killer was apparently obsessed with racist anti-refugee rhetoric and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — things that are increasingly winked at, tolerated, and even promoted at the very highest levels of conservative politics, up to and including Fox News and President Trump. The American right has a severe anti-Semitism problem, and the results speak for themselves. Just before the shooting, the suspected killer apparently posted the following on Gab, a Twitter-style social media site often utilized by racists: "HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in." This is a reference to the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, a group founded to help all refugees in memory of the Holocaust, when most nations, including the United States, turned away most Jewish refugees. The word "invaders" is almost certainly a reference to the refugee caravan making its way up through Mexico, which was another subject of obsessive hatred for the suspect. The logic of the shooting, apparently, was to kill Jews at random to stop them from helping refugees enter the United states. This logic follows the implications of the racist hatred that conservative media and Republican politicians from Trump on down have been whipping up against the refugee caravan this month — and it has not stopped since the shooting. On Monday, Trump baselessly warned that the caravan was full of "Gang Members," while Fox News' Brian Kilmeade speculated that it might be filled with diseases. Additionally, Trump, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), and numerous Fox News hosts have spread the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews — specifically George Soros, who was the target of a different right-wing terrorist attack recently — are somehow masterminding the caravan. A few days before the shooting, a guest on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show referred to the "Soros-occupied State Department," a conspiracy theory about secret Jewish control of government that comes straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as Josh Marshall points out. This puts the infamous "Jews will not replace us" chant from the fascist hate mob in Charlottesville last year (where, let us not forget, leftist protester Heather Heyer was murdered in cold blood) in new light, as Paul Krugman explains. The racist conspiracy theory here is not that Jews themselves will displace whites, but that they will secretly connive to bring in so many immigrants and refugees that whites will become a minority population.
10-30-18 Why are right-wing populists winning everywhere?
The global march of right-wing populism has claimed yet another country. This time, it's Brazil, where a once obscure former army captain Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency by a decisive margin. Bolsonaro's candidacy bears obvious similarity to other notable right-wing populist candidates. Brazil has struggled with persistently high crime, and its established parties have been rocked by a wide-ranging corruption scandal that sent its popular former president, Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, to prison; Bolsonaro's central campaign themes were restoring order and ending corruption. The thrice-married Bolsonaro also professed an in-your-face masculinism that should also feel familiar to observers of President Trump and Vladimir Putin and alt-right circles on the internet. And Bolsonaro's campaign took advantage of social media in a way that establishment candidates around the world continue to struggle to replicate. But while it's easy in retrospect to explain Bolsonaro's extraordinary rise, and to note similarities between him and far-right phenomena around the world, it's also worth pointing out how different political, economic, and cultural conditions have been across the various countries in which right-wing populists have come to power. That very diversity should make us wary of concluding too quickly that we fully understand the political changes that are rocking the globe. Right-wing populist and nationalist governments are in power in Russia, Turkey, India, Israel, Hungary, Poland, and the United States, and they share power with left-wing populists in Italy. Established right-wing parties in Britain, Canada, and Australia are busily adapting to the populist trend. Japan's Shinzo Abe has taken his conservative Liberal Party in a notably nationalist direction. And with Angela Merkel announcing her intention not to run for re-election, and her party anxiously watching the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany, it's likely her conservative coalition will also begin sounding right-wing populist themes.
10-30-18 Journalists of color were right about Trump. Why didn't we listen?
Why America's newsrooms must employ more minority writers. Jamelle Bouie tried to tell us. So did Nikole Hannah-Jones. Jelani Cobb spoke up, as did Vann Newkirk II, Adam Serwer, and Jenée Desmond-Harris. Back in 2016, these journalists of color all used their platforms to send a warning about the racist undertones of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy. All too often these writers were dismissed as alarmists, or as race-obsessed practitioners of "identity politics." But as the events in Pittsburgh last weekend and those in Louisville last week have demonstrated, these writers were absolutely right. This country needs more minority journalists in its newsrooms. And we Americans need to do a better job of listening to them. Is this really an issue? After all, the writers I've named here work or have worked for places like The New York Times, Slate, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic — all of them prestige publications. Most of them have widespread followings on social media. Hannah-Jones was named a MacArthur Genius in 2017. But you don't have to look much beyond the surface to detect a real problem with minority representation in newsrooms. A 2017 survey showed that just one in six American newsroom employees are racial minorities — and the situation is even worse for women of color. That's not good enough: America needs these voices. Journalists of color can and often do point out America's blind spots. Paging through Bouie's 2015 and 2016 dispatches for Slate, one is struck by their stubborn prescience, informed by a deep familiarity with this country's history and a refusal to view that history through rose-colored glasses. "We can't just dismiss Trump as entertainment," Bouie wrote in 2015, when many pundits were doing just that. Like segregationist politician George Wallace, Bouie wrote, "Trump is an eruption of the ugliest forces in American life, at turns authoritarian, like the Louisiana populist Huey Long, or outright fascistic, like the Second Ku Klux Klan. And like all of the above, he's brought the background prejudice of American life to the forefront of our politics, and opened the door to even worse rhetoric and action."
10-30-18 US mid-terms latest: Trump vows to end birthright citizenship
The US mid-term elections in one week's time will help define the rest of Donald Trump's presidency. Americans will vote for members of both chambers of Congress, as well as for governors in 36 out of 50 states. Between now and then, we'll bring you updates and all the best analysis every weekday in this round-up. Today's edition includes a musical dispute and a deeper look at an historic race. Curbing illegal immigration was one of the main campaign promises Mr Trump made when he ran for president. The issue remains high on his agenda and, in an interview with Axios, Mr Trump made one of his most hard-line immigration pledges yet. The president vowed to end the automatic right to citizenship for children born in the US to non-citizens. Currently, all children born in the US get citizenship under the constitution. "We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States," he said. "It's ridiculous. And it has to end." In fact a number of countries, including Canada and Mexico, offer birthright citizenship. (Webmaster's comment: Another lie from our FAKE NEWS President!)
10-30-18 US sending 5,200 troops to border with Mexico
The Pentagon is sending over 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico as thousands of Central American migrants walk towards the US in a caravan.. General Terrence O'Shaughnessy said Operation Faithful Patriot would focus on Texas, Arizona and California. President Donald Trump earlier said the "invasion" of migrants would find the US military waiting for them. He also told Fox News that "tent cities" would be built to house migrants seeking asylum in the US. "If they apply for asylum, we're going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place. We're going to hold them, we're going to build tent cities, we're gonna build tents all over the place," he said in an interview on Monday. There are already 2,100 National Guard members at the border, sent after a previous request by Mr Trump in April. (Webmaster's comment: So much for the wording on the Statue of Liberty; "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!")
10-30-18 Danish PM hits back at White House living standards report
Since becoming president, Donald Trump has often criticised Nordic countries. But now Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has responded after a White House report found living standards in Nordic countries were "at least 15 percent lower" than in the US. Writing on Facebook, Mr Rasmussen said Denmark "would win every time" in a competition with the US. "Our children can get an education - no matter who you are and where you come from," he wrote. "We can get to the hospital and get help if we get sick... And if you become unemployed, run into problems or otherwise need a helping hand, then the community is ready to seize and help one back on the right track." He defended the high rate of taxes in Scandinavian countries, saying, "We get so much in return." The only area where the US outperforms Denmark, Mr Rasmussen added, was in praising its own achievements: "Maybe we should just get better at bragging more about everything that we actually do really well?" This is not the first time the White House has criticised Nordic countries. Last year, Swedes - including the country's former prime minister - took to Twitter after Mr Trump talked about a terror incident that hadn't happened during a campaign rally. (Webmaster's comment: The Nordic countries also have less than 1/4 the murder, domestic violence, rape, and child rape rates of the United States. Plus lower material death and child mortality rates and healthcare costs. And higher education rankings in reading, science, and mathematics. The United States is truly a substandard country!)
10-29-18 Stacey Abrams: The Deep South woman vying to make history
A battle for the governor's mansion in the US state of Georgia features a woman vying to become the first black American female to run a state. Knots of people clustered outside Hendershots coffeehouse wait for a black SUV to arrive from Atlanta 70 miles away. The crowd untangles into a line of supporters wrapped around the exposed brick building, as evening sets upon the college town of Athens, Georgia, on an October autumn day. A blend of parents, professors and older residents, adorned in campaign buttons and clutching signs, interrupt groups of eager students standing outside the trendy live music venue. "Remember to vote!" they say. It's a scene reserved for national politicians or pop stars breezing through town, but the whirring sounds of chatter and intermittent chants are for Stacey Abrams, a 44-year-old lawyer and former state legislator, who is deadlocked in a contentious race with Georgia's secretary of state, Republican Brian Kemp. The race is emblematic of two narratives reverberating throughout the US in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump. Mr Kemp, a self-described "politically incorrect conservative", echoes the brand of Trump Republicanism that focuses on tax cuts, protecting gun rights and "rounding up criminal illegals" in his truck - as noted in one of his early political ads. The competing narrative is that of Ms Abrams, a progressive female candidate of colour who has appealed to minority voters, a group on which she has focused much of her campaign. In fact, of the nearly 945,000 Georgia residents who have already cast an early vote, about 30% are black, a markedly higher rate than the 2014 mid-term figures. Experts point out that North Carolina and South Carolina have not yet seen a similar increase among black voters, which could underscore just how energised Ms Abrams' base may be. And more Georgians are registered to vote than ever before - 6.9 million out of the state's 10.4 million residents.
10-29-18 The revenge of the deporables
Making America Hate Again! It may have been politically ill-advised and numerically imprecise for Hillary Clinton to declare at a fundraiser in September 2016 that roughly half of Donald Trump's supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables" characterized by irredeemably "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic" views. But it was undeniably true. This was obvious at the time, and it's even more so now, after the horrifying events of the past week — including the mailing of a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and the single deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history. Every president is elected by a distinct electoral coalition, and the coalition that elected Trump included an unusually large number of people with virulently illiberal, extreme right-wing views — the kind of people who normally find both major-party nominees far too blandly centrist to inspire much enthusiasm. Trump spoke to these voters. His championing of "birtherism," his denunciation of Mexican "rapists," his denigration and fear-mongering about Muslims, and his attacks on "globalist" bankers convinced these extremist voters that Trump shared their fears of the country becoming less white, less Christian, and less willing to defend its identity as a white, Christian nation against various invaders, including Muslims, immigrants from Latin America, blacks, and Jews. Along with his substantive message, Trump spoke to these voters with what one might call his habits of mind — his hostility to bedrock liberal norms and institutions (including a free press), his indulgence and encouragement of conspiracy theories, and his refusal to distance himself from far-right people and ideas.
10-29-18 Jair Bolsonaro: Far-right candidate wins Brazil poll
Far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro has won a sweeping victory in Brazil's presidential election.. The former army captain won 55.2% of the vote against 44.8% for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers' Party. Mr Bolsonaro's pledge to fight crime and corruption following a string of scandals have won him mass support. However critics are worried by his praise of Brazil's former dictatorship, and by his comments on race, women and homosexuality. In one infamous incident in 2015 he told a fellow lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. For supporters, he is a politician who they say will bring much needed change to the country - a swing to the right after four elections won by the left. For the past four years, Brazil has been consumed by a criminal investigation - known as Operation Car Wash - that has uncovered massive corruption. Dozens of business and political leaders have been jailed. Among them was former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was barred from standing in the election. The 63-year-old leads the Social Liberal Party (PSL), an anti-establishment group that combines social conservatism and pro-market policies. Mr Bolsonaro is a deeply polarising figure whose controversial remarks earned him the nickname of "Trump of the Tropics". He has in the past defended the killing of opponents to the country's former military regime and said he is "in favour of dictatorship".
10-27-18 America is broken. Where are the leaders to fix it?
It was a bris, for God's sake. God help us all. That's the detail that sticks out in the aftermath of America's latest mass shooting, this one in Pittsburgh. Friends and family had gathered at the Tree of Life Synagogue to celebrate and welcome a new life into their community. It should've been a joyous moment, a sacred moment. But in America these days, every sacred moment is just a second away from transforming into something profane and evil. So it happened Saturday morning in Pittsburgh: A man with a gun walked into the celebration, reportedly yelled "All Jews must die!" and pulled the trigger. A beautiful moment turned bloody. Again. As of this writing, eight people are reportedly dead. And the first thought that occurs, after wiping away the increasingly familiar shock at news of another massacre, is this: America is broken. Saturday's massacre, after all, took place during a week in which violence seemed to be seeping up from every corner. A Florida man — seemingly obsessed with President Trump — was arrested Friday, charged with sending pipe bombs to an array of Democratic leaders, as well as to CNN. Less noticed in the frenzy over the pipe bombs, but equally important: A man walked into a Kentucky grocery store on Wednesday and killed two black customers, reportedly telling one survivor: "Whites don't kill whites." And why did he choose a grocery store for his crime? Because he had been unsuccessful a few minutes before in gaining entry to a predominantly African-American church nearby. News of the pipe-bombing attempts — as well as President Trump's recent celebration of an assault on a reporter — has produced a lot of hand-wringing among politicians and pundits. The country is on a precipice, we've been told: We're on the verge of slipping into a wave of political violence that may prove difficult to end. We must step away. "Political violence, once unleashed, is nearly impossible to contain," I wrote Thursday. "It creates more suffering than solutions. And once the cycle starts, we don't know where it ends. We're awfully close to crossing that cultural tipping point, but we can still make better choices. It's not too late." Two days later, all of that remains true — except for the last sentence: Maybe it is too late. Maybe we have stepped across the precipice. Maybe it's going to get worse before it gets better.
10-27-18 Do American prisoners have free speech?
Prisoners' rights are in jeopardy all across the country. "One of the biggest concerns we have as inmates is that our voices are being suppressed," prisoner Eugene Ross, 41, told a meeting at the Thompson Center in Chicago. Ross, who was arrested as a juvenile and is serving life without parole, was speaking to a press conference organized to demand the return of the weekly debate club at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois. The conference was organized by the debate club's adviser, Katrina Burlet, and Bill Ryan, co-founder of the prison newsletter Stateville Speaks. Addressing reporters from prison via his sister's cell phone, Ross was protesting the prison administration's decision to suspend the club without official explanation after the club held a public debate on March 21st about the virtues of parole. Soon after addressing the press conference, Ross inadvertently gave a live example of how prisoner's voices are suppressed: His phone call was cut off, and, as he tells it, 20 minutes later the assistant deputy director and a group of correctional officers "came to my cell door and extracted me from my cell and took me to solitary confinement." Ross says he remained in solitary overnight, and was released back into the general population the following day. It was only because people who had heard his press conference barraged Stateville with calls, Ross says, that he was released from solitary so quickly. Worrying about free speech in prison will strike some readers as an oxymoron. Prison is a place expressly designed to restrict people's freedom. Convicted criminals are punished for their crimes by having their movement restricted and their actions monitored. When people have so little freedom anyway, restrictions on freedom of speech might seem relatively inconsequential. In fact, it's because prisoners are so unfree that freedom of speech for them is especially important. Prisoners can often be punished and abused with impunity; they have little recourse to protect themselves from unjust treatment. "There's no one who can share about how bad prison is better than the people who are in there," says Stateville debate coach Katrina Burlet. "So I think that their voices should be heard in every forum possible."
10-26-18 Caitlyn Jenner: Trump 'relentlessly attacking' trans people
Transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner has ended her support for President Donald Trump over his record on trans rights. The ex-Olympic athlete and reality TV star said she had "remained hopeful" that she could work with Mr Trump's administration. But in a column for the Washington Post on Thursday, she admitted her position had been a "mistake". "The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president," she wrote. The president has faced strong criticism in recent days after the New York Times reported the government was considering officially defining gender as biological and fixed. The change would rescind previous policy which eased trans recognition and would instead define gender solely by the genitalia people are born with. In her column, Ms Jenner accused the president of using the trans community as "political pawns". "The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community," she added. "He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity." Last year, Ms Jenner told the BBC that she had been "really upset" by some of the president's policies, including his decision to revoke Obama-era guidance which allowed transgender students to use school toilets matching their gender identity. "It doesn't make me regret my vote yet, but it is very disappointing and I have been very verbal about that," she said at the time. The same year, Mr Trump also reinstated a ban on transgender people serving in the military which had been lifted by former President Barack Obama. He later signed a more limited directive after federal judges ruled the initial ban was probably unconstitutional.
10-26-18 ‘Mobs’: The rise of political violence
President Trump just endorsed “political violence against journalists,” said Adam Serwer in TheAtlantic.com. At a Montana rally last week, Trump praised GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte for picking up a reporter, slamming him to the ground and punching him last year—an assault to which Gianforte pleaded guilty. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my guy,” Trump said, pantomiming the wrestling move. Wait…haven’t Trump and his supporters been complaining that Democratic protesters were acting like a “violent mob”? Yes, but “one of the core principles of Trumpism is that the rules only apply to others.” The rallygoers cheered and laughed while Trump gloated over the journalist’s beating, said Jack Holmes in Esquire.com. “These were the laughs of people who relish cruelty,” who feel “power coursing through their veins” now that their party is “explicitly pledging to meet its opposition with violence.” Trump was absolutely wrong for laughing about Gianforte’s body slam, said Debra Saunders in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but liberal mobs are not imaginary. Last week, a progressive activist was arrested on suspicion of battery against the campaign manager for the Nevada GOP gubernatorial candidate. Liberals have used “intimidation tactics” to harass senators who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, with one unhinged woman recently demanding that Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana “apologize to my children for ruining their lives.” The reality is that there are truly violent elements on both the Right and the Left now, said Noah Rothman in Commentary.com. There have been violent confrontations between proto-fascists and left-wing demonstrators in Chicago, Sacramento, St. Paul, Berkeley, Portland, Ore., and most recently New York City, where a far-right group called the Proud Boys battled antifa protesters in the streets last week. Incidents of political violence are rapidly becoming “part of the political landscape,” with extremists trying to ignite a cultural civil war. Each brawl brings us closer to “the precipice of the abyss.”
10-26-18 Trump’s ‘nationalist’ campaign on the caravan
President Trump returned to fear of illegal immigration as his central theme as he campaigned for Republicans in tightening midterm races, portraying a caravan of more than 7,000 Central American migrants heading toward the U.S. as an invasion force filled with criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners.” The caravan began with 160 migrants setting out together from Honduras last month, their journey publicized by left-wing Honduran politician Bartolo Fuentes to bring attention to the gang violence and lack of jobs in his country. The caravan swelled as word spread on social media that the would-be migrants were seeking asylum in the U.S. The caravan is currently in southern Mexico, more than 1,000 miles from the U.S. border. “That is an assault on our country,” President Trump said at a rally in Houston. “In that caravan you have some very bad people.” Trump unleashed an escalating barrage of evidence-free attacks on the caravan, although he admitted to reporters that he has “no proof” that the procession includes potential terrorists from the Middle East. The president also falsely claimed that Democrats may have paid for the march, that they want to give illegal immigrants cars, and that Californians were “rioting” in opposition to the state’s sanctuary-city policy. For the first time, Trump declared himself a “nationalist,” despite the term’s historic association with far-right politics and nativism. “Really, we’re not supposed to use that word,” Trump said. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? Nationalist! Use that word.”
10-26-18 Democrats’ messaging failure
Democrats are failing to meet the challenge posed by Donald Trump, said David Brooks. In his norm-shattering presidency, Trump has embraced “ethnic nationalism,” made immigrants the enemy, and undermined “the postwar international order” of democratic Western nations once led by the U.S. And how are Democrats responding to the “cultural, moral, and ideological” challenge Trumpism poses? By trying to make the midterm elections a referendum on coverage of pre-existing conditions. Health care is a valid issue “in normal times,” and for decades Democrats have offered voters more federal spending and better benefits. But it’s an inadequate response to Trump’s successful division of the country into warring “cultural tribes.” Where is the strong counternarrative to Trump’s relentless Us vs. Them messaging? Where is the defense of America’s traditional ideals and an invitation to all Americans to reunite behind a common cause? When Democrats do make a moral argument, it’s the social justice claim that whites and men are oppressors of minorities, women, and LGBT people—which only drives more heartland voters into Trump’s camp. Today, culture—and a desire for respect—“is more important than economics.” Democrats can’t beat Trump until they come up with a more compelling story than his.
10-26-18 Stopping non-white voters
Since the Supreme Court ruled parts of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional in 2013, jurisdictions with a history of systemic racism, whose elections used to be subject to federal supervision, have shut down almost 20 percent more polling stations per capita on average than the rest of the country.
10-26-18 Bolsonaro to jail critics
The far-right candidate who is widely expected to win Brazil’s Oct. 28 presidential runoff vowed in a menacing speech this week that if elected he will purge his leftist rivals. “Either they go overseas, or they go to jail,” Jair Bolsonaro said. “These Red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.” The 63-year-old former paratrooper has alarmed critics with his nostalgia for Brazil’s 1964–85 dictatorship. Meanwhile, Folha de São Paulo reported that right-wing Brazilian business leaders were behind a campaign to bombard users of WhatsApp, Brazil’s most popular social media platform, with fake news about Fernando Haddad, the leftist candidate who will face Bolsonaro in the runoff. Haddad trails Bolsonaro in polls by double digits. (Webmaster's comment: Another dictatorship on its way!)
10-26-18 Harvard: Affirmative action on trial
“No wonder Harvard fought tooth and nail” to keep its admissions practices secret, said Bret Stephens in The New York Times. In “the most significant legal battle over affirmative action in recent years,” Harvard University was dragged into court last week by a lawsuit accusing it of violating Asian-Americans’ civil rights “by using vague measures of personality to hold down their chances of admission.” The plaintiffs cite as evidence a 2013 internal Harvard document showing Asian-Americans would account for 43 percent of the freshman class if only academic performance were considered. At the time, Asian-Americans constituted just 19 percent of admissions. To keep their numbers down, admissions officials consistently diminished Asians with “hoary stereotypes about having ferocious work ethics but not much else.” It’s the same excuse Harvard and other universities once used to exclude Jews. This lawsuit isn’t really about Asian-Americans, said Jeffrey Toobin in NewYorker.com. It’s part of “the American conservative movement’s legal and political assault on people of color.” The conservative activist shepherding the suit, Edward Blum, has made a career of attacking policies designed to help African-Americans, including the 2013 Supreme Court case that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Blum’s real target is “the consideration of race in any decision by a university or a government.” After a failed lawsuit against the University of Texas for discriminating against whites, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com, Blum concluded that Asian-Americans would prove to be more sympathetic victims, “even if whites will wind up being the principal beneficiaries.” Should this case make it to the conservative-dominated Supreme Court, “it will likely mean the end of affirmative action in higher education.” (Webmaster's comment: Asian-Americans are smarter and should be treated as such.)
10-26-18 Probably A Liar
ust 25% of Americans believe that Brett Kavanaugh was telling the entire truth during his testimony in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. 39% think Kavanaugh was mostly honest but hiding something, and 31% believe he was mostly lying. 77% of Republicans approved of his confirmation, while 74% of Democrats disapproved.
10-26-18 United Kingdom: Jihadist preacher is back on the streets
A British “hate preacher” is out of jail and “more determined than ever to spread his toxic Islamist propaganda,” said Tom Kelly in the Daily Mail. Anjem Choudary, 51, was found guilty in 2016 of inspiring British Muslims to join ISIS through online lectures and messages, and sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Thanks to mandatory parole rules for well-behaved inmates, Choudary was released last week after serving just half his time. Security experts have warned that “the Pied Piper of jihad” could inspire more terrorist attacks, and so the Ministry of Justice has drawn up draconian conditions for the remainder of his sentence. The London-born Choudary has surrendered his passport and will spend at least the next six months at a probation hostel; he will wear an electronic monitor and have a curfew; he can’t travel outside of London, use the internet, preach, or speak to the press. Still, he was trained as a lawyer and is sure to seek ways around these restrictions. Those who knew him in prison say he became “far more extreme and aggressive” while locked up and now sees himself as a martyr. At least the British Muslim community is shunning Choudary, said Martin Evans in The Daily Telegraph. The ex-preacher will be allowed to attend services at one mosque, subject to government approval. But when he submitted a list of his preferred mosques, nearly all the imams said he would not be welcome. It’s clear that the Muslim community holds Choudary “in as much contempt as everyone else.”
10-26-18 The veil doesn’t come from God
Why does Islam put the burden of modesty on women? asked Nikhat Sattar. In many Muslim nations, including in parts of Pakistan, women “are restricted to the most horrific cage-like garments” so they won’t provoke sinful desires in men. But in the Quran, “modesty and shyness are basic requirements for men and women equally.” In fact, the Quran gives instructions to men first, telling them to lower their gaze and refrain from staring at or harassing women. Only in a later verse does the Quran tell women to be similarly modest. And “nowhere does God enjoin men to enforce laws related to modesty upon women or to restrict them in any way.” Instead, each person is responsible for his or her own actions. One passage describes how, when a beautiful woman came to the Prophet Mohammed with a complaint, another man began staring at her but the Prophet turned his own face away. Notably, he did not ask the woman to veil her face. It is not, therefore, Islam that is to blame for the repression of women, but rather patriarchal customs in some Islamic cultures. Isn’t it time for “the focus of societal development and moral training to shift toward boys and men”? If men want to be the “moral police,” let them police themselves.
10-26-18 Far right insists on smoking
The far-right Freedom Party of Austria joined the government last year, pledging to return power to the people, said Michael Völker. Brash party leader Heinz-Christian Strache said that any time 250,000 people signed a petition demanding a national referendum on an issue, they would get one. Well, guess what? This month nearly 900,000 people—about 14 percent of the electorate—signed a petition asking for a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Strache, though, is an avid smoker, and he won’t allow a referendum. In fact, a smoking ban had been passed by the previous center-left government in 2015 and was set to take effect last May. But then we had an election in 2017 in which the center-right Austrian People’s Party won the most seats but fell just short of a legislative majority. Strache offered to join a coalition with the People’s Party, on one condition: that the ban be overturned. People’s Party leader Sebastian Kurz is “a resolute nonsmoker” who supported the ban, but “if a coalition partner was so easy to buy off, who was he to say no?” The pact was made, Kurz became chancellor, and the law was scrapped. And now when Austrians want a smoking referendum, their voices are being silenced. Strache’s hypocrisy is monumental: “If it doesn’t suit his interests, the people don’t count.”
10-26-18 China lights the way
Natural lighting, after China announced plans to launch an artificial moon into orbit above the city of Chengdu in 2020. The satellite will have a reflective coating that will direct the sun’s rays down onto the city at night, making streetlights unnecessary.
10-26-18 Cutting transgender protections
The Trump administration is preparing to narrow the definition of gender under Title IX, stripping transgender people of numerous legal protections, The New York Times reported this week. The proposal would define sex as “immutable” and determined by a person’s genitalia at birth, reversing changes under the Obama administration that let people choose how they identify under federal rules. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in education and the definition will influence other federal programs. “I want to protect the country,” Trump said in defense of the proposal, which ignited protests under the slogan #WontBeErased. Dr. Lisa Hollier, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, urged the White House “to keep discrimination and political interference out of our nation’s health.” An estimated 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender.
10-26-18 There are sensible arguments to be made in favor of legalization, not least the fact that prohibition has utterly failed.
When Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana last week, our northern neighbor lit up in celebration. Thousands of pot fans stood in line for hours at the country’s more than 110 new weed stores, eager to be a part of history. Ian Power, 46, told the Associated Press that he didn’t intend to smoke the gram of weed he’d bought in the first minutes of legalization. “I am going to frame it,” Power said, “and hang it on my wall.” The experience of buying legal pot almost brought tears to the eyes of 29-year-old Marco Beaulieu. “I have never,” he said, “felt so proud to be Canadian.” Demand was so great that many marijuana stores sold out their supplies, angering those who waited in line. “Maybe [stores] should be buying it by the truckload rather than the palletload,” said disgruntled customer John Matheson. There are sensible arguments to be made in favor of legalization, not least the fact that prohibition has utterly failed. More than 50 percent of Americans over 18 say they’ve smoked weed at least once. So long as the drug is banned, otherwise law-abiding citizens will be criminalized and organized crime will harvest tens of billions of dollars a year from sales. But decriminalizing marijuana doesn’t mean we have to accept, as many pot advocates claim, that it is a harmless substance. Research shows that heavy, long-term weed use can seriously damage cognitive functions—concentration, short-term memory, perceptual reasoning—and permanently affect teenagers’ developing brains. Researchers say about 9 percent of weed users become addicted to it, with a higher percentage becoming dependent. A new study found that three U.S. states that have legalized marijuana—Washington, Oregon, and Colorado—have 5.2 percent more car accidents than their neighboring states. Canadian potheads may be celebrating now, but their buzz will not come without a cost.
10-26-18 No pot for you
Marijuana is now legal in Canada, but South Korean tourists better not toke up. “Weed smokers will be punished according to the Korean law,” said narcotics unit officer Yoon Se-jin, “even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal.” South Koreans who are caught partaking in Canada could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Most likely, only those trying to smuggle drugs back into South Korea will be prosecuted, but tourists would be wise not to post pictures on social media of themselves enjoying Canadian weed. Last week, the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver posted a message asking that Japanese nationals in Canada respect Japanese law and eschew marijuana.
10-26-18 The cruelty of imprisoning the homeless
Hungary’s heartless government has just criminalized poverty, said Vera Kovacs. As of last week, when a constitutional amendment sponsored by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party went into effect, Hungary’s homeless can be thrown into prison for sleeping on the street. But where else are they supposed to go? There are some 30,000 homeless people in this country, and only 10,100 beds in shelters. With no safe place to stay, the most vulnerable Hungarians “will have to hide more, making it increasingly difficult for street social workers to find them and offer them vital services.” Some people believe that the homeless prefer prison in winter to the street, because at least there they are warm and fed. As a social worker, I know that’s simply not true. The homeless lose all their possessions when they are jailed—everything they own, everything they keep in a tent or shopping cart. Instead of banning the homeless, the government should invest in affordable housing and more shelter beds. But Fidesz won’t: It created the problem by slashing social benefits and failing to appoint a housing minister. Now it is spending resources on punishment rather than aid, hoping to drive the poor out of sight. Hungarians must stand up and denounce this policy as inhumane.
10-26-18 The Norwegian who thwarted the Nazi A-bomb
On a February night in 1943, Lt. Joachim Ronneberg and a squad of Norwegian resistance fighters parachuted onto a snow-covered plateau in German-occupied Norway. They had been tasked by British intelligence with destroying a secret Nazi project at a hydroelectric plant 50 miles west of Oslo. Ronneberg and his men were told only that German scientists were distilling something called heavy water. Eleven days after making landfall, Ronneberg led his eight fighters down a steep gorge, across a frozen river, and up the other side into the plant, sneaking past Nazi guards. Once inside, Ronneberg crawled through a ventilation duct and placed explosives with 30-second fuses next to a row of pipes. The squad heard the dull thud of the blast as they raced past German barracks. It was only at the war’s end that Ronneberg learned that heavy water had been a critical ingredient in Hitler’s efforts to build an atomic bomb. If the raid had failed, he said, London could have ended up “looking like Hiroshima.” The derring-do of Ronneberg and his team was celebrated in the 1965 movie The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas, said The Times (U.K.). Yet Ronneberg scoffed at Hollywood’s loose approach to the facts, saying the film “should never have been made.” He became a journalist with the Norwegian state broadcaster after the war and looked back fondly on the raid. “It was,” Ronneberg said in 2013, “the best skiing weekend I have ever had.”
10-26-18 When America's verbal violence turns real
the pipe bombs sent through the mail this week to two former presidents, a former presidential nominee, a former vice president, a former attorney general, a former CIA director, a sitting member of Congress, an outspoken actor, and a wealthy philanthropist and activist — all of them Democrats and/or staunch critics of President Trump — had exploded, killing or maiming their targets, this would have been hands-down the single most audacious act of domestic political terrorism, and potentially the single most ambitious act of political assassination, in our nation's history. Thankfully, none of the bombs exploded. No one was maimed or killed. And so the entire incident has become just the latest in an endless series of polarizing but merely performative political gestures that will most likely disappear down the memory hole a week or a month from now, succeeded by the next outrage and provocation, and then the next, and then the one after that. Nearly two years into the reality-show era in American politics — a time when the nation's public life has been transformed into a multimedia spectacle in which trolling increasingly takes the place of citizenship — the country is led by a virtual tyrant and tottering on the verge of a virtual civil war. Together we are testing whether the nation can avoid a collective nervous breakdown, as sweeping gestures of outrage and denunciation, calls to incivility and violence, talk of imminent violence, absurd conspiracies, and outright nonsense fly in every direction every single day, encouraged and participated in by everyone from the president on down to unknown freelance (and possibly foreign-funded) provocateurs on social media platforms. That mailed bombs have now been added to the churning cauldron of anger and vituperation makes perfect sense — just the latest plot twist in the unfolding phantasmagoric national drama streaming on the supercomputers each of us carries around with us in our pockets and purses. (Webmaster's comment: Trump advocates violence against the media so he is certainly partly to blame!)
10-26-18 Baby penguin with two 'gay' dads hatched in Sydney
Same-sex penguin couple Sphen and Magic have hatched their first foster chick at Sea Life Sydney. It's being called Baby Sphengic (for now) and will live in the pebble nest its dads built.
10-26-18 India's Sabarimala: Over 2,000 arrested for blocking women from temple
Police in India have arrested 2,200 people for protesting against the entry of women into a prominent Hindu temple in the southern state of Kerala. Hundreds clashed with women to prevent them from entering the Sabarimala shrine last week, despite a historic Supreme Court ruling. Violent protests were also held in different parts of the state, defying the police's appeal for peace. The temple has historically been closed to women of "menstruating age". A senior police officer told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi that the protesters, including both men and women, have been arrested for rioting and unlawful assembly. "We have arrested those who prevented women from entering the temple and also those who violently protested against the court's order. We hope that this will act as a deterrent when the temple reopens in November," the officer said. The temple only opens for brief brief periods throughout the year. Massive protests meant that very few women attempted to enter the temple last week and those who tried were forced to turn back. Protesters believe that the ruling goes against the wishes of the deity, Lord Ayappa, himself. They say that the ban on women entering Sabarimala is not about menstruation alone - it is also in keeping with the wish of the deity who is believed to have laid down clear rules about the pilgrimage to seek his blessings. According to the temple's mythology, Lord Ayyappa is an avowed bachelor who has taken an oath of celibacy, hence the ban on the entry of women. Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals. While most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, the Sabarimala temple was unusual in that it was one of the few that did not allow women in a broad age group to enter at all.
10-25-18 Migrant caravan: What is it and why does it matter?
For more than a week, thousands of migrants from Central America have been trudging north towards the US. They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The journey poses a host of dangers, such as dehydration and criminal gangs, but many of the migrants say they feel safer travelling in numbers. Here's what you need to know about the latest, and largest, migrant caravan. On 12 October, in the crime-ridden Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, a group of 160 people gathered at a bus terminal and prepared to set off on the dangerous journey. They had been planning the trek for more than a month, in an attempt to escape unemployment and the threat of violence in their home country. Most previous migrant caravans have numbered a few hundred people, but after a former politician posted about the plan on Facebook, news of it quickly spread and the numbers swelled. By the time the group set off in the early hours of 13 October, more than 1,000 Hondurans had joined. They have since crossed into neighbouring Guatemala and then Mexico, with thousands more people joining along the way. Most of the migrants say they are seeking a new life and better opportunities in the US or Mexico. Others say they are fleeing violence in their home country and intend to apply for asylum. Honduras, which has a population of about nine million, has endemic problems with gang violence, drug wars and corruption. The wider region has one of the highest murder rates in the world. "It's our dream to reach the United States, we want to give our children a better future and here [in Honduras] we can't find work," one mother of two told local newspaper El Heraldo.
10-24-18 US watchdog: Agencies 'unaware' of child separation policy
US government agencies were blindsided by the White House's policy to separate families caught illegally crossing the border, reports a government watchdog. The Government Accountability Office discovered the agencies tasked with enforcing the policy in April "did not plan" for an influx in jailed children. The "zero tolerance" policy saw nearly 3,000 migrant children separated from parents before it was suspended. The report comes as a caravan of nearly 7,000 migrants seek refuge in the US. The new findings were released to the public on 24 October, though the report had been published on 9 October. Congressional investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) interviewed officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They found that these agencies had not planned for the increase in children separated from parents or guardians as a result of the "zero tolerance" policy, because they were unaware the policy was forthcoming. "These officials told GAO that they were unaware of the memo in advance of its public release," the report - which was requested by House Democrats - states. "Prior to April 2018, DHS and HHS did not have a consistent way to indicate in their data systems children and parents separated at the border." In April and July, border officials and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) were able to update databases to mark separated children, according to the report. However, GAO notes that it is too soon to know if those changes "will consistently indicate when children have been separated...or will help reunify families". As of 10 September, 437 children remain in ORR custody "for various reasons, such as ineligibility for reunification", GAO reported.
10-24-18 US white supremacist leader Robert Rundo arrested in California
The leader of a white supremacist group based in California has been arrested and charged with inciting riots. Robert Rundo, co-founder of the Rise Above Movement, was arrested at LA International Airport on Sunday. Three others have also been charged, one of whom remains at large. The four are accused of travelling to events across California and to one in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year that led to the death of a woman and shocked the nation. Earlier this month, four other members of the Rise Above Movement were charged with attacking counter-protesters at the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville in August 2017. A woman died after a man drove into a crowd of counter-protesters. The New York Times says Mr Rundo, 28, had crossed into Mexico and was "brought back" to the United States to be arrested at LA airport. Fellow Rise Above Movement members Robert Boman, 25, and Tyler Laube, 22, were arrested on Wednesday while Aaron Eason, 38, remains at large. The US Attorney's Office alleges they acted with "intent to incite, organise, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots". Three of the four, including Mr Rundo, are accused of attacking counter-protesters and journalists at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach, California, in March. Mr Rundo is alleged to have assaulted two protesters, while Mr Laube allegedly punched a journalist in the face. Mr Rundo travelled to Europe earlier this year with two of those already charged in the Charlottesville case to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler.
10-24-18 America's demoralizing caravan politics
If you want to understand why politics is devolving into a demagogic spectacle that is endangering liberal democratic government throughout so much of the world — from the U.S. to Brazil, Italy, Poland, Hungary, and beyond — you could do worse than study the way the story of the migrant caravan has unfolded in American political culture over the past week. The caravan itself — the way it's being portrayed in the media and manipulated by the president and his party, and the response to all of it on the part of the Democrats — encapsulates everything that's going wrong with politics in 2018. Let's take a look at three of the guilty parties here.
- The charlatan-demagogue in the White House Roughly 7,000 people (most of them Hondurans fleeing poverty and violence in their home country) are walking north through Mexico toward the southern American border over 1,000 miles away. This, says President Trump, constitutes a national emergency. Never mind that the caravan adds up to just 0.7 percent of the roughly 1 million people who will immigrate to the United States this year — or that there is zero evidence for Trump's race-baiting claims that "unknown Middle Easterners" are "mixed in" with the caravan.
- The self-defeating open-borders activists The migrant caravans that now regularly make their way to the U.S. from the south are normally organized by a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), which explicitly calls for open borders and the free movement of people without restrictions. Though the group apparently didn't directly organize the current caravan, it has provided logistical support, with affiliated activists in Honduras, Mexico, and the United States pushing its open-borders position.
- The paralyzed Democrats praying the issue goes away The Democratic Party as a whole doesn't favor open borders, but a growing share of the party is much further to the left on the issue than was typical just a decade ago. The result is a party deeply divided — sympathetic to the migrants, convinced that immigration is good for the country, but also terrified of being portrayed by the president as welcoming throngs of potentially dangerous and destabilizing outsiders to the country without restriction. That's one reason why so many Democrats appear flummoxed about how to respond to the caravan and so prefer to say nothing at all, hoping the story will just miraculously vanish between now the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
10-23-18 Bible Museum says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake
A US Bible museum has removed fragments of what it believed were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls from display, after tests suggested they were forgeries. The Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC, sent five of its 16 fragments for analysis in Germany. But results showed "characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin", the museum said. Costing $500m (£386m), the museum was opened by Evangelical Christian and billionaire Steve Green in 2017. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a set of ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. The first of the scrolls were found in caves in Qumran on the western shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. They were reportedly first discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for lost sheep. The tests were ordered after biblical scholars who examined 13 of the museum's previously unstudied fragments said there was a "high probability" that a number of them were modern forgeries. The museum's chief curatorial officer, Jeffrey Kloha, said that he had hoped the "testing would render different results". However, he added: "This is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artefacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency." It is not the first time the museum's owners have faced controversy. Last year, Mr Green's company the Hobby Lobby paid a $3m fine (£2.3m) and returned thousands of items after the US Department of Justice accused it of smuggling artefacts from Iraq.
10-23-18 Has nationalism killed compassion in America?
Trump's despicable response to the migrants seeking refuge in America is nationalism at its worst. There's been some heavy lifting lately, in the non-Trumpist precincts of our politics, to rescue the idea of "nationalism" from the clutches of President Trump and his alt-right followers. Lest liberals and progressives be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater, we're reminded in books and essays that nationalism has its uses — forming the glue that provides us with social cohesion and a welfare state, among other goods. These "nice-guy nationalists" make good points. There's just one problem: America's best-known nationalist is the president. And he's not much interested in social cohesion. "You know what I am? I'm a nationalist," Trump declared Monday night in Texas. "Okay? I'm a nationalist." To get a sense of what this means in Trump's hands, it's good to take a look at the so-called "migrant caravan" currently marching north from Guatemala to the United States border. From the accounts of people on the ground, it appears this caravan is composed largely of people fleeing deprivation and violence in their home countries. It's the sort of thing you or I would do if our families were similarly endangered; ardent nationalists have decided to treat these fleeing families like an invading military. "An assault!" Trump told told the Texas rally. "Migrant hordes," writer Rod Dreher blogged at The American Conservative. Even The Associated Press got in the act, calling the caravan a "ragtag army of the poor" in a tweet that was later deleted. But the people forming the caravan are not an army. They aren't seeking collectively to capture land or dislodge governments. They are merely individuals seeking a better life and traveling in the direction they think most likely to help them find it.
10-22-18 Migrant caravan: 'Our strength is greater than Trump's threats'
Thousands of people travelling from Central American nations to try to enter the US have resumed their journey from southern Mexico to the US border. On Sunday, the migrant caravan reached the town of Tapachula, approximately 37km (23 miles) from Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. The Mexican authorities had earlier tried to stop them at a border bridge. But some managed to cross into Mexico illegally by boat over the Suchiate river. "We have sunburn. We have blisters. But we got here. Our strength is greater than Trump's threats," migrant Britany Hernández told AFP news agency. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned the migrants to turn back, threatening to close the US border and cut aid to countries allowing the caravan to pass. In tweets on Sunday, he said efforts were being made to "stop the onslaught of illegal aliens". He also suggested the caravan was politically motivated. "The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party. Change the immigration laws NOW!'" he said. Limiting illegal immigration was one of the main campaign promises Mr Trump made when he ran for president. His Republican Party is facing mid-term elections on 6 November and could be unseated by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Immigration is the most important issue facing the US, say 15% of all voters. While Mr Trump would not be in favour of allowing thousands of Central American migrants to enter the US, the caravan is exactly the kind of issue that would energise his supporters. A group of about 1,000 Hondurans set off on foot from a bus terminal in the crime-ridden Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on 13 October in an attempt to escape unemployment and the threat of violence. (Webmaster's comment: Trump would probably machine gun women and children to stop them from escaping the violence in their country. So much for the Statue of Liberty.)
10-22-18 #WeWontBeErased: Outcry over memo proposing US transgender change
There has been an outpouring of anger in the US from politicians, celebrities and human rights groups over a report alleging the US policy on gender recognition could be changed. A report in the New York Times on Sunday said a government memo proposed officially defining gender as biological and fixed. The change would rescind previous policy which eased trans recognition. Instead, it would define gender solely on the genitalia people are born with. (Webmaster's comment: What about thiose who are born with both?) The administration of former President Barack Obama adopted a definition of gender in federal policy which made it easier to allow individual choice and self-determination. The change sparked a number of complex and long-running legal challenges in conservative states, in areas like the use of toilets. The Trump administration has previously tried to roll back transgender recognition in areas such as the military and in schools - but it has not commented on the latest report. It is feared the changes allegedly being proposed could effectively "define out of existence" Americans who currently identify as transgender - a community who are said to number at least 1.4 million people. Transgender and gender non-confirming people have been sharing their personal stories and response to the report using the hashtag #WeWontBeErased. The news report published by the New York Times on Sunday said a memo the newspaper had seen from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed establishing a legal and fixed definition of sex under Title IX - a federal civil rights law that outlaws gender discrimination. The report alleges that the department argues the current lack of clarity allowed civil rights protections to be wrongfully extended to some individuals during the Obama administration. The proposed change would instead mean people's sex would be legally fixed as either male or female by their genitalia.
10-22-18 US mid-term elections: The Republican who changed his mind over guns
Not long ago Republican Phil Scott was one of the most popular governors in America, poised for a comfortable re-election in November. Then, after a possible school shooting was discovered by police in Vermont, he decided to support sweeping gun-control legislation - and has reaped a political whirlwind. The Vermont governor stands at a lectern in front of the state capitol building in Montpelier on a grey, blustery April day earlier this year. His wife and various politicians, officials and dignitaries stand behind him. Before him, a motley crowd. Some are cheering; others are angry - and loud. He's talking about gun control, a subject that touches raw nerves across the US, even in serene, bucolic Vermont. Perhaps especially in Vermont. "On February 16," he begins to a crescendo of jeers, "I was in my office preparing for the day ahead, when everything changed." He relates how he received an affidavit that morning detailing the arrest of 18-year-old Jack Sawyer, who law enforcement officials said was in the midst of plotting a mass shooting at a high school in Fair Haven, a small town in the western part of the state. A friend of Sawyer's had informed police of his plans - and how he praised the attack at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers just days earlier. "That's fantastic," he texted her. "I 100 percent support it." He called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre - which shocked the American public and prompted teen-led anti-gun protests across the nation - "natural selection taken up a notch". The police searched Sawyer's car and found a shotgun, ammunition, a gas mask and books on the 1999 high school shooting in Columbine, Colorado, in which 13 students died. He also kept a diary titled "The journal of an active shooter", in which he listed those at his former school who he wanted to kill. When police spoke to Sawyer, he confirmed that he was planning an attack and said it was his intention to surpass the record of 32 fatalities at the Virginia Tech University shooting in 2007. "As I read the 13-page affidavit," Mr Scott tells the assembled crowd in Montpelier, "I was alarmed to learn just how close we came to the same tragic fate the people of Parkland faced." After concluding his speech to a cacophony of applause and more boos, he turns to a desk set up for the occasion and signs a package of sweeping new state-level gun-control rules.
10-21-18 New York witches place hex on Brett Kavanaugh
The occult turned partisan on Saturday as a coven of New York witches placed a hex on US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Dozens attended the event at Brooklyn's Catland Books, which was also streamed online. Organisers said the event was "an act of resistance and resilience". A Catholic priest and exorcist in California, Father Gary Thomas, planned to counter the spell by saying prayers for the justice at Mass. "This is a conjuring of evil - not about free speech," Father Thomas told the National Catholic Register. Dakota Bracciale, co-owner of Catland Books and one of the organisers of the event, said they would not share details or specifics of "the spells", but told the BBC the hex was "aimed at exposing Brett Kavanaugh for what he truly is, to cause him harm and see him undone". Mr Kavanaugh's appointment to America's top court was confirmed despite him facing sexual assault allegations, something he denies. Asked when the spells were expected to take effect or when they anticipated seeing the results, the organisers said "as soon as possible", adding: "There's not a firm timeline on these things." They went on to say that part of its purpose was to provide "camaraderie, fellowship and support during tumultuous times". (Webmaster's comment: Appeals to any supernatural force or being makes no difference. You can chant or pray and it makes no difference. All these people are no better than dark age savages.)
10-20-18 Migrant caravan: 'May God soften Trump's heart'
Thousands of mostly Honduran migrants are stuck at the Mexico-Guatemala border hoping to make it to the US. President Trump has warned them that he will shut down the southern US border so they cannot enter. This is the second large-scale caravan of Central American migrants this year. (Webmaster's comment: Remember Trump DOES NOT SUPPORT the wording on the Statue of Liberty! "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!")
10-20-18 DNA differences are linked to having same-sex sexual partners
The specific genes involved in mate choice aren’t yet known. For some people, choosing a same-sex partner may be in their DNA. In a large study of more than 490,000 men and women in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden, researchers discovered four genetic variants that occur more often in people who indicated on questionnaires that they had had same-sex sexual partners. Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard reported the results October 19 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. Two of the variants were specific to men’s sexual partner choice. The other two influence sex partner choice for both men and women. Collectively, the DNA differences explained only 8 to 12 percent of the heritability of having same-sex partners. “There is no gay gene,” Ganna said, “but rather non-heterosexuality is influenced by many tiny-effect genetic factors.” The new study is an advance over previous attempts to find “gay genes,” says J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was not involved in the new work. The study’s size is its main advantage, Bailey says. “It’s huge. Huge.”
10-19-18 How they see us: Arms sales trump human rights
Pity poor Donald Trump, said Yevgeny Shestakov in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia). The last thing the U.S. president wants to do is alienate the rich Saudi princes whose purchases of Trump properties help prop up his personal finances. But evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia assassinated dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—a U.S. resident with American children—inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. That’s why, in a CBS interview this week, Trump “was forced to announce” that “severe punishment” would follow if Saudi responsibility for Khashoggi’s death is proved. But what punishment? Trump has ruled out canceling arms sales, saying that would hurt American jobs, and he likely doesn’t want to anger Riyadh by imposing personal financial sanctions on Saudi princes. The future of U.S.-Saudi relations is now in Ankara’s hands. He has to hope that Turkey will simply “close the case.” The Khashoggi affair “has forced Washington into a dilemma between its two most important and most difficult allies in the Middle East,” Turkey and Saudi Arabia, said Daniel-Dylan Böhmer in Die Welt (Germany). A Saudi political murder in Istanbul “would not only be a diplomatic affront but also an implicit attack on Turkey’s internal security.” But look! Ten days after Khashoggi disappeared, Turkey suddenly agreed to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been imprisoned for two years on espionage charges the U.S. insisted were bogus. Why the sudden breakthrough? Trump claimed the timing was “pure coincidence” and “added almost imploringly, ‘Really!’” Yet it’s likely that Turkey freed Brunson as part of a deal that would see Trump pressure Saudi Arabia to admit its culpability in Khashoggi’s murder. It’s quite clear that Trump doesn’t care whether other countries murder their citizens, said the Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) in an editorial. No longer do we see the U.S. “as a bastion of democracy, a defender of freedom, democratic values, and a promoter of human rights the world over.” Trump has flat-out admitted that business deals—specifically, arms sales to a country that drops bombs on Yemeni children—are more important than human rights.
10-19-18 A confident Trump unleashes on 60 Minutes
In a combative interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, President Trump this week insisted that the cause of climate change was unknown, defended his immigration policy, and hinted that his defense secretary could soon be forced out. Appearing much more self-assured than his last time on the program, shortly after being elected—“He is truly president. And you felt it,” interviewer Leslie Stahl said afterward—Trump gave little ground to critics. He passed up a chance to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, claiming he’s tough with Putin in private and saying he has “good chemistry” with North Korea’s leader. The president backed off calling climate change a “hoax,” but speculated the climate would “change back.” Trump, who mimicked Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford at a recent rally, said that whether Blasey Ford was telling the truth was no longer important. “It doesn’t matter,” Trump said. “We won.” Trump confirmed two reports about developments in his administration. Asked whether Defense Secretary James Mattis will be departing soon, Trump said, “He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves.” Trump used to affectionately refer to the retired four-star general by his nickname “Mad Dog,” but has reportedly taken to calling Mattis “Moderate Dog.” He told Stahl, “I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth.” Trump also confirmed that the White House is considering reinstating the policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. Insisting he’s been treated unfairly on that issue, Trump told Stahl, “I’m president, and you’re not.”
10-19-18 Building an insect army
The Pentagon could soon get some six-legged recruits, reports The Washington Post. A program funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is examining whether insects can be deployed to protect crops such as corn and wheat from a drought, a natural blight, or an attack by a biological weapon. The bugs in question—aphids, leafhoppers, and whiteflies—naturally spread viruses among plants. DARPA wants to know if these viruses can be customized, using gene editing, to have a specific effect on struggling plants. A virus could turn off certain genes in a wheat crop, for example, to slow its growth rate during a drought. The researchers insist the project, titled “Insect Allies,” has solely peaceful aims. But a group of skeptical scientists and legal academics have warned that the technology could be used “to develop biological agents for hostile purposes.” Silja Voeneky, a professor of international law at Germany’s University of Freiburg, questions why DARPA is even experimenting on insects. “They could use spraying systems,” she says. “To use insects as a vector to spread diseases is a classical bioweapon.” (Webmaster's comment: And that's exactly what the United States intends to do!)
10-19-18 California wants no part of President Trump’s America. Their battle is likely headed for the Supreme Court.
- How is California resisting? With nearly 40 million residents and the fifth-largest economy in the world, California is big enough to be its own country, and in many ways it has started to act like one. Gov. Jerry Brown and an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature currently enjoy one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S., a booming clean-energy sector, and a $9 billion budget surplus.
- What are they fighting over? Basically everything. Many disputes concern whether the Trump administration has ultimate authority to repeal or cease enforcing regulations involving student loans, net neutrality, birth control, farming safety, transgender rights, and banking protections, to name a few.
- Why is California so important? The state’s huge economy gives it outsize influence over national policy, especially environmental protections. With more than 35 million vehicles registered in California, auto companies can’t afford to make one fleet of cars complying with federal rules and another fleet following stricter standards in California.
- How has Trump responded? The president visited California in March and spent much of his trip inspecting prototypes for a wall along the southern border, seemingly to troll the majority of Californians who vehemently oppose his signature proposal. “The place is totally out of control,” Trump said during his trip.
- Isn’t the GOP for states’ rights? Yes, but Republicans argue that California is actually fighting to defend the federal overreach of previous Democratic administrations. Many of the state’s lawsuits seek to force the federal government to continue a program or regulation, whether it’s protecting wetlands, requiring oil and gas operators to reduce methane emissions, or providing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
- How will this end? After California failed to stop the Federal Communications Commission from repealing net neutrality laws, the state passed its own strict standards last month, which the Justice Department immediately sued to prevent. “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” Sessions said.
- How did California turn so blue? The state hasn’t always been a liberal bastion. Richard Nixon represented California in the U.S. Senate, and Ronald Reagan served two terms as governor before running for president.
10-19-18 The Senate: Is it undemocratic?
Americans are living under “minority rule,” said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. This is supposed to be a democracy, with a majority of votes deciding which party’s candidates take office. But a president “who lost the popular vote by 3 million ballots” recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court; Kavanaugh in turn was narrowly confirmed by a GOP-controlled Senate “representing just 44 percent of all Americans.” For that injustice you can thank the Electoral College and the Senate—two institutions that create “huge disparities of representation.” The Constitution gives each state two senators, regardless of population, which means that California’s 40 million residents get the same Senate representation as Wyoming’s 580,000 residents. “That is absurd,” said Dan Kennedy in WGBH.org. The Framers wanted to prevent a “tyranny of the majority,” but didn’t expect a minority controlling every branch of government, leaving “the majority out in the cold.” The Senate’s anti-majority bias has a racial impact, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. While large states such as California, New York, and Florida are racially diverse, smaller states tend to be “overwhelmingly white.” As a result, the Senate gives black Americans only 75 percent the representation of whites, while Hispanics get just 55 percent. Since it’s unlikely small states will ever surrender their disproportionate power, granting statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—collectively home to 4 million people, more than 90 percent of them black or Hispanic—could make the Senate and the country “a fairer place.”
10-19-18 GOP winning legal battle over voting restrictions
A series of restrictive voting policies backed by Republicans were upheld by state and federal courts last week—rulings that could potentially affect the outcomes of several close midterm elections. In Arkansas, the state’s highest court upheld an anti-voter fraud law requiring voters to show photo ID before voting. In Ohio, a federal judge rejected an attempt by a voting rights group to stop the state’s purge of repeat nonvoters from its rolls, which critics say disproportionately affects minorities and the poor. The U.S. Supreme Court also upheld a North Dakota law that requires voters to present an ID with their residential address listed, not a P.O. box. Tribal activists said the law discriminates against Native Americans, many of whom live on reservations and don’t have conventional addresses. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s narrow 2012 win was credited to Native Americans; she is currently running for re-election. In Georgia, a coalition of civil rights groups last week sued Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and Republican nominee for governor, for suspending 53,000 voter applications—70 percent of them from African-Americans. They were suspected of failing a 2017 “exact match” law, which requires every detail on a voter application to precisely match the information on file at other state agencies. A missing letter or hyphen can cause an application to be frozen or rejected. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is virtually tied with Kemp in polls, accused her Republican rival of trying to “tilt the playing field in his favor.” Kemp said Abrams “wants illegals to vote in Georgia.”
10-19-18 White Male Privilege
Of the 114 Supreme Court justices in history, 111 have been white and 110 have been male. Every justice seated in the past 30 years received a law degree from Harvard, Columbia, or Yale.
10-19-18 ‘Proud Boys’ wanted
After members of the “Proud Boys” far-right men’s group beat up protesters outside a Republican event in Manhattan, police this week asked for the public’s help finding nine people involved in the brawl. The violence followed a speech by Gavin McInnes, who founded the organization of men who describe themselves as “Western chauvinists” and are aligned with neo-Nazis. Upon leaving the event, about 30 Proud Boys members encountered masked “antifa” protesters and a melee ensued. Surveillance video captured Proud Boys members pummeling the protesters and shouting slurs. Police arrested three antifa protesters that night, but none of the Proud Boys; New York’s police commissioner said the officers were outmatched, with “just two or three cops on scooters.” Police are now seeking charges of “riot or attempted assault” against the nine wanted Proud Boys members. (Webmaster's comment: Notice the police focus on arresting the Democratic protestors, not those physically assaulting them. And they make excuses for not doing so.)
10-19-18 Only in America
A white St. Louis woman has been fired for harassing a black man as he tried to enter his apartment building. Tenant D’Arreion Toles, 24, videoed Hilary Brooke Mueller blocking his path into the building and demanding he show her proof he lived there. Mueller’s employer, a real estate company, promptly fired her, saying it “never will stand for racism or racial profiling.”
10-19-18 Nationalism shouldn’t be dismissed
In the U.S. and throughout the world, “a nationalist backlash” is shaping our politics, said John Judis. Nationalism has been seized mostly by the political right, with overt racial and anti-immigrant messaging, but liberals are making a mistake in dismissing the valid concerns that have fueled these movements. In recent decades, globalization has benefited multinational corporations, China, and the developing world, but its benefits “have sailed over the heads” of middle-class Americans. Free to seek cheap labor outside the U.S., companies have enjoyed “a race to the bottom” on wages, taxes, and regulation, hollowing out the middle class and leaving America filled with desolate, “left-behind” factory towns. Unfortunately, President Trump has laced his version of nationalism with overtly racist, anti-immigrant appeals, but his “policies have not been without merit.” He’s right to challenge China’s ongoing theft of U.S. technology and other intellectual property and its protectionist trade policies, and to champion America’s manufacturing industries and their workers. “A common national identity is essential to democracies,” providing the glue that keeps them together. Liberals dismiss the surge of nationalist feelings at their own peril.
10-19-18 American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment
Just two years ago, the private prison industry was in serious trouble, in part because of the work of Shane Bauer, said Gabriel Thompson in the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2014, the young journalist had gone undercover as a guard in a Louisiana prison, and after his 35,000-word exposé was published in Mother Jones and he shared his findings with federal officials, the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out privately run federal prisons. “Change seemed to be on the horizon.” But then the White House changed hands, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the decision, and with the surge in the detention of undocumented immigrants, “the private prison industry is booming once again.” If you care to learn what that means for the prisoners, detainees, and underpaid guards most affected, “American Prison is the place to begin.” “Bauer brings a unique perspective to incarceration,” said Aram Goudsouzian in Nashville Scene. Before applying for work as a prison guard in Louisiana, he had spent two years in an Iranian prison after he and two other American hikers wandered off course into Iran and were arrested and charged as spies. He arrived home wanting to investigate how U.S. prisons treated inmates. When he landed a job at a medium-security facility run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), “Bauer saw scenes that came straight out of hell.” In his four months on the job, he witnessed a dozen stabbings. Inmates set protest fires and made constant threats. One mentally ill prisoner starved himself down to 71 pounds before committing suicide. And the $9-an-hour, poorly trained guards responded—when they responded at all—with pepper spray and anger of their own. American Prison shares many of the conversations Bauer secretly recorded while inside, and “the sheer number of forehead-slapping quotes from Bauer’s superiors and fellow guards is alone worth the price of admission,” said Nate Blakeslee in The New York Times. Still, Bauer places most of the blame for the deplorable conditions in corporate-run prisons on the pressure to generate profit, a feat usually accomplished by slashing costs on niceties like inmate counseling and dependable cell locks. Not much is likely to get better in private federal lockups now that the industry has been given a pass on past failures. But at Bauer’s old place of employment, some things have changed. LaSalle Corrections, the company that replaced CCA, no longer accepts payment from the state of just $34 a day per prisoner. “LaSalle agreed to do the job for $24.”
10-19-18 Bakers can refuse gay slogans
Britain’s highest court has correctly ruled that a person cannot be compelled to say something against his or her religion, said Fionola Meredith. The Belfast bakery Ashers, which is owned by evangelical Christians, had refused to bake a cake for LGBT activist Gareth Lee decorated with the slogan “Support gay marriage.” Ashers didn’t refuse service to Lee because he is gay—that would have been a clear act of discrimination. The bakers would have refused to make that same cake for a straight person. “Their objection,” said Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, “was to the message on the cake, not to the personal characteristics of Mr. Lee.” And that’s why it’s perfectly OK for them to refuse his request. Don’t get me wrong: I support gay marriage. But think of the precedent had the court ruled otherwise. Any business could be forced to promote “political or religious ideas with which they profoundly disagree.” A feminist-owned bakery could be required to make cakes that declared abortion murder, or a Muslim printer compelled to silk-screen T-shirts with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Discrimination against people is banned, but discrimination against ideas is allowed, even vital, in a free society. “We have the liberty to refuse to have the beliefs of others imposed upon us by an authoritarian arm of the state.” (Webmaster's comment: Buy the cake without the slogan and put your own slogan on it!)
10-19-18 Weed now legal
Canadians stood in line for hours outside weed dispensaries and then lit up celebratory joints on sidewalks after their country legalized the recreational use of marijuana this week, fulfilling a 2015 election pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This is awesome,” said Tom Clarke, an illegal weed dealer turned pot store owner. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.” Each province is setting its own rules for sales. Quebec, for example, has only government-run dispensaries, staffed with cannabis counselors who can advise customers on which strain to pick to induce relaxation or euphoria. In some provinces, including Alberta and Ontario, online sales will be allowed.
10-19-18 Trump is glorifying violence against journalists. This is a national disgrace.
In free, democratic countries, government leaders don't threaten journalists. (Webmaster's comment: But Hitler did the same damn thing on his road to becoming a dictator!) Two things seem ever-more certain as Donald Trump's presidency continues: First, Trump's anti-media rhetoric is going to get a journalist killed, or at least badly injured. Second, Trump doesn't care. We're long past the point of debating whether to take Trump's antagonizing rhetoric about the media seriously or literally. After a year of "enemy of the people" talk, and in a week in which the world outside the Oval Office mourned a journalist murdered by an evil, oppressive regime, Trump decided on Thursday that the best way to appeal to his supporters at a Montana rally was to praise a congressman best known for assaulting a reporter. "Any guy who can do a body-slam, he's my guy," Trump said of Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who pleaded guilty in June 2017 to doing just that to a journalist from The Guardian. The journalist's offense? Trying to ask a question of Gianforte, then a candidate. How did Trump's audience respond to his celebration of violence? With applause. Journalists will be the ones to scream loudest about Trump's latest comments, and maybe that's the point: By baiting the media, Trump invites the kind of criticism that lets him turn to his supporters and say, "The media is so unfair. See how much they attack me? They're attacking you, the deplorables, when they do that." It's time for journalists to push back. They aren't just defending a free press, or the right to criticize those in power. It's clear they must also defend their very lives and safety.
10-19-18 Trump hails body slamming Congressman Greg Gianforte in Montana
US President Donald Trump has praised a Republican congressman who assaulted a journalist last year with a "body slam", referring to him as "my guy". "Greg is smart," Mr Trump said of Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, adding "By the way, never wrestle him". "Any guy that can do a body slam... he's my guy," he said to cheers and laughter at a rally in Montana. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Guardian newspaper have called on Mr Trump to apologise. This latest praise from Mr Trump is unlikely to improve his relationship with the media, which he has previously labelled the "enemy of the people". He said he had feared that the 2017 assault could have hindered Mr Gianforte's chances of winning the special congressional election that followed. Mr Trump told supporters: "I said wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him - and it did". After praising Mr Gianforte, Mr Trump also mimicked a person being thrown forcefully to the ground. The president's controversial remarks come as Turkish officials continue to investigate the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Webmaster's comment: Trump advocates violence against people who disagree with him. He advocates breaking the law!)
10-19-18 When amoral becomes immoral
A foreign policy that embraces tyrants and excuses the murder of dissidents. Morality is such an encumbrance. Once any shame is shed, dilemmas dissolve; everything gets so much easier. Take the quandary presented by Saudi Arabia. For decades, U.S. presidents have resorted to extreme realpolitik in order to treat the Saudis as a valued ally — a status bestowed on the sheikhs by the billions of barrels of oil under their sands, and the broad influence their enormous wealth has purchased. The oilmen of the Bush family treated the Saudis like cousins, even after 9/11; President Barack Obama irritated the Saudis with talk of human rights and democracy, but in the end backed their brutal war against Yemen and offered to sell them $115 billion in arms. President Trump has taken realpolitik to a new level. Virtually no one believes the Saudi royals' risible claim that they didn't know about the 15-member Saudi hit team that murdered and dismembered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But the president says it's possible "rogue killers" committed this atrocity. "The king firmly denied any knowledge of it," Trump helpfully explained. Problem solved. Punishing the Saudis for kidnapping and executing a journalist living and working in the U.S. would be highly inconvenient. Trump has sold millions of dollars of real estate and hotel rentals to the Saudis, wants the U.S. to sell them billions more in weapons, and needs their help (and their oil) in his struggle to subdue Iran. If King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman insist they had nothing to do with Khashoggi's regrettable demise, why quibble? Trump's eagerness to swallow the Saudi cover story prompted Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, to say this week: "At some point, an amoral foreign policy becomes an immoral foreign policy." Just think, though, how many "great deals" we can cut with Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, and other murderous tyrants if we dispense with morality and human rights entirely.
10-19-18 US opens Catholic church sex abuse probe in Pennsylvania
The US justice department has opened an investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in the state of Pennsylvania over alleged child sex abuse. It follows a state grand jury report that found at least 1,000 children had been abused by over 300 "predator priests" in six dioceses over 70 years. The August report came after an 18-month-long investigation into the dioceses in Pennsylvania. The US attorney in Philadelphia has begun issuing subpoenas. Federal prosecutors are now investigating whether priests or other clergymen committed federal crimes, the Associated Press reports, citing two people familiar with the inquiry. US Attorney William McSwain has requested documents from secret archives, confidential files and historical records, including finances, insurance coverage and clergy assignments, according to the Associated Press. A number of dioceses in Pennsylvania confirmed they had received subpoenas with Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton saying they would co-operate with the inquiry. Pennsylvania is home to over three million Catholics. The state is believed to have the highest number of grand jury investigations into child sex abuse in the church nationwide, according to US media. Following the 14 August grand jury report, Pope Francis condemned the "atrocities" of child sex abuse and clerical cover-ups. Only two priests were charged as a result of the investigation as most of the cases were too old for prosecution. In a letter to all Roman Catholics, he called for an end to the "culture of death" in the Church. (Webmaster's comment: There should be no statue of limitations on child sex abuse. It is simply a male attempt to let males get away with child sex abuse.)
10-19-18 Sabarimala: The Indian god who bars women from his temple
The Sabarimala temple in the south Indian state of Kerala this week opened its doors to women of all ages for the first time after a historic Supreme Court ruling. However no women devotees have yet entered as violent protesters have blocked their way. Two women - journalist Kavitha Jagdal and social activist Rehana Fathima - managed to reach the main temple premises on Thursday. More than 100 policemen protected them from stone-throwing protesters as they walked the last 5km (3-mile) stretch to the temple. But they had to return after a stand-off with devotees metres from Sabarimala's sanctum. The protesters have also included many women - they have participated in rallies, blocked roads and checked vehicles heading towards the temple to see if any women of a "menstruating age" - deemed to be those aged between 10 and 50 years - were trying to enter. The temple attracts millions of devotees from across the country every year. Part of the violent opposition to the Supreme Court order to reverse the temple's historical ban on women is because protesters feel the ruling goes against the wishes of the deity, Lord Ayappa, himself. Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals. But while most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, the Sabarimala temple is unusual in that it was one of the few that did not allow women in a broad age group to enter at all. Hindu devotees say that the ban on women entering Sabarimala is not about menstruation alone - it is also in keeping with the wish of the deity who is believed to have laid down clear rules about the pilgrimage to seek his blessings. Every year, millions of male devotees trek up a steep hill, often barefoot, to visit the shrine. They also undertake a rigorous 41-day fast, abstaining from smoking, alcohol, meat, sex and contact with menstruating women before they begin the journey.
10-19-18 Cannabis in Canada: Shortages, fines and Girl Guide cookies
As Canada became the second country to legalise marijuana on Wednesday, some areas faced their first major challenge as supply failed to meet demand. Customers queued for hours. Some retailers sold out on the first day, and shortages continued on Thursday. Online shoppers also faced delays as the new law came into effect, with high volumes affecting websites. Customers were warned to expect shipping delays of up to five days, as a postal strike looms next week. But the change was also lucrative: more than C$660,000 ($506,000; £387,000) was reportedly spent on the first day in Nova Scotia, one of Canada's smallest provinces. Shortages were reported in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, and in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Queues were still present at many outlets on Thursday, as customers turned away on the first day came back to try again. Traders weren't the only ones to take advantage of legalisation. Nine-year-old Girl Guide Elina Childs manage to raise C$120 by selling cookies to customers outside a cannabis shop in Edmonton, Alberta. There are still some restrictions on cannabis use and it did not take long for the first penalties to be issued, with one driver in Manitoba receiving a fine of C$672 for smoking in a vehicle.
10-18-18 Republicans' Saudi Arabia derangement
They just can't quit this brutal dictatorship. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman may have miscalculated when it came to the missing (and presumed butchered) Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. New details keep coming out, most recently an alleged recording of Khashoggi being beaten, tortured, and beheaded. Many former regime apologists have turned on bin Salman, who's looking more and more guilty of ordering the apparent assassination by the day. Elites from both parties have long had close ties to the Saudi regime, going back decades. But while practically every Democrat bigwig has at least expressed concern about the Khashoggi story, many Republicans have actually doubled down on their support. It's a good demonstration of how deep the moral corruption has gone in the GOP under Trump, and the extent to which their foreign policy "thinking" is dictated by foreign lobbying. One way Republicans have argued Saudi Arabia's case has been to just give in completely to seething cultural grievance and make excuses for Khashoggi being slaughtered. The Federalist, which has become the prime source for fire-eating anti-anti-Trump coverage, suggests the entire thing might be a Turkish operation. Meanwhile, the website's co-founder Sean Davis discovered that Khashoggi reported on the Arab fighters who joined the Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets back in the 1980s, some of whom went on to found al Qaeda. He's quite obviously suggesting (helped along by Donald Trump, Jr.) that Khashoggi was a terrorist sympathizer who got what was coming to him. (Webmaster's comment: A reporter was murdered by the Saudi government and Trump and all his Republican lackeys are looking for any excuse for the murder so we can continue making big arms sales.)
10-18-18 Cannabis in Canada: How it went down on Legalisation Day
Across the country, Canadians queued for the chance to buy recreational cannabis legally for the first time. The end of prohibition on Wednesday was marked by parties, park hangouts and non-stop media coverage. But some worried that legalisation would increase use, especially amongst youth, and create new safety problems. The shift in policy was a watershed moment for the country, which is now one of only two nations in the world where marijuana is legal. The first person in Canada to buy marijuana legally was Ian Power, who was first in line in the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador when the clock struck midnight. "It's been my dream to be the first person to buy the first legal gram of cannabis in Canada, and here I finally am," he said. Across the country, and hours later, Alex Smith was among the many leaving the BC Cannabis Store with a brown paper bag in hand. The province-run retail store in Kamloops, located in an unassuming strip mall, is currently the only legal store in British Columbia. Provincial officials boasted about its clean "west coast casual" interior and range of products. Mr Smith called the experience of shopping there "a little surreal". "For my entire adult life I've been a closet pot smoker, trying to hide it because I do tend to run in circles that don't consume cannabis that often," he told the BBC. "Now that it's legal - and actually going into a storefront like this - I felt almost relieved but also justified in smoking pot. It's OK now, in the government's mind at least." (Webmaster's comment: Now every one in Canada can be a Pot Head! What an glorious achievement!)
10-17-18 Trump's Stormy Daniels complex
This sexcapade has shown us Trump at his worst — and his weirdest. Another day, another important national conversation about the president and pornography. The good ole U.S. of A., land of the free and home of the brave, purple mountain majesties and all that. Give me your tired, your poor, your 72-year-old TV billionaires yearning to — actually, let's not, okay? Earlier this week a federal judge rejected the defamation lawsuit brought by Stormy Daniels against President Trump. This was always going to happen. Defamation cases are hard to win in this country and almost impossible when they involve two or more public figures. While it is true that in theory the president is not immune from private actions, the path leading, à la Clinton v. Jones, from the Daniels suit to a Lewinsky scandal was always a tangled one at best. The real danger for Trump was simply that the hush money payment arranged by Michael Cohen to cover up Trump's alleged affair with a porn star would be considered an illegal federal campaign contribution and thus grounds for the former's impeachment at the hands of a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. This still seems likely. Trump responded to the judge's dismissal with a syntactically defective tweet — what else — in which he coined another of his famous nicknames, "Horseface," for Daniels. If you are like me, you might have asked yourself why he went out of his way to commit adultery with a woman whose countenance reminds him of a mammal of the family Equidae. Was he ashamed of himself afterward for this reason? Perhaps this explains why he went to such extraordinary lengths to hush up something that his supporters, predictably, laughed off as soon as it became public.
Imagine this thing kissing and slobbering all over you! Yuk!
10-17-18 Why is President Trump letting the Saudis push him around?
America's moral authority isn't at stake in Saudi Arabia. Its practical authority is. President Trump famously hates to look weak. So why is he letting Saudi Arabia push him around?. The alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi intelligence agents would seem to provide ample justification for a harsh rebuke, if not something stronger. Khashoggi was an American resident, and he appears to have been killed within the Saudi consulate in Turkey. A more blatant violation of diplomatic norms would be hard to imagine. If the Saudis can just get away with that, the White House would seem to be saying they can get away with anything. And at first, that's precisely what the administration seemed to be saying. Trump's initial concern was that sanctions would sabotage American arms sales. His deeper interest is the desire to preserve a united regional front against Iran. And, to be fair to the president, there's a long tradition of American obsequiousness toward the Saudi kingdom: President George W. Bush didn't break with them over 9/11, nor did President Barack Obama over their support for ISIS. Across the decades, the Saudis have proven extraordinarily adept at navigating a changing world, and at soothing Washington's sensitivities. There isn't much soothing going around this time, though. The Saudis initially refused to even take seriously international concerns about Khashoggi's fate. And as the conversation turned to sanctions, the kingdom's swaggering Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman leveled pointed threats to retaliate by turning off the oil spigot and sending the world economy into recession. (Webmaster's comment: So the Saudis can murder someone in another country and get away with it if they buy enough weapons from the US?)
10-17-18 Trump threatens to cut aid to Honduras over migrants
President Donald Trump has threatened to cut financial aid to Honduras over a large group of migrants heading towards the US border. In a Tweet posted on Tuesday, Mr Trump said the country's president was told funds would be cut "immediately" if the group was not stopped and returned. Honduras has a long history of poverty and corruption. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The group of at least 1,500 migrants grew rapidly in size over the weekend. Mr Trump later also warned Honduras's neighbours, Guatemala and El Salvador, that their governments could face their funds being cut if they allowed the migrants to pass through their countries on their way north. About 160 people originally set off on Friday from San Pedro Sula, a notorious Honduran crime hotspot. They pushed across the border into Guatemala on Monday, despite a heavy police presence and government order attempting to block their route. Shortly after Mr Trump's tweet, it was reported that Bartolo Fuentes, one of the caravan's organisers and a former Honduran legislator, had been detained by Guatemalan authorities to be deported back to Honduras. This is the second time Mr Trump has threatened Honduras's aid over migrants, in April saying it was "in play" over another group. (Webmaster's comment: So much for the words engraved on our Statue of Liberty!)
10-17-18 Kiah Morris: Vermont's only black woman lawmaker on why she quit
Kiah Morris, the only black woman in the Vermont legislature, shocked the US state when she resigned last month, citing ongoing racial harassment. Even in one of the most progressive states in America, she says white supremacy and a toxic political discourse are serious, unacknowledged problems. Kiah Morris was puzzled. Why did friends on social media keep sending her links to a Saturday Night Live comedy video? Then she watched it. In the sketch, which aired the last weekend of September, a group of Southern neo-Confederates discuss resettling in place with "no immigrants and no minorities - an agrarian community where everyone lives in harmony because every single person is white". One member, played by actor Adam Driver, raises his hand. "Yeah, I know that place," he says. "That sounds like Vermont." The studio audience laughs as the Vermont jokes continue, but for Ms Morris the lines had a bite. "It was funny," she says. "But it was sad." In 2014 Ms Morris became only the second black female member ever elected to the Vermont state legislature. Four years later, in the midst of a re-election race, she resigned from public office after repeatedly being the target of racial harassment. She received death threats. Her property was vandalised. She found swastikas painted on the trees near her house. She obtained a restraining order against a repeat online harasser, but the threats continued. For Ms Morris, racism in Vermont - long considered a bastion of liberal values - was no joke. "There were individuals in the community and throughout the state that we were finding were parts of white supremacist groups," she says. "Because we were so progressive and because we have been working so hard on so many issues of equality, we just sort of fell asleep and didn't pay attention to that." (Webmaster's comment: Racism in the United States is running rampant encouraged by our nation's leaders and it's going to become violent and deadly!)
10-17-18 Six in 10 Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws
Sixty-one percent of Americans favor stricter laws on the sale of firearms, down modestly from March, when 67% said this shortly after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Feb. 14. The current reading is similar to the 60% measured last fall after the Las Vegas mass shooting. Along with March, it reflects the highest percentage to favor tougher firearms laws in two or more decades.
- 61% of Americans favor stricter gun control, down from 67% in March
- 87% of Democrats, 31% of Republicans support tougher gun laws
- 28% of Americans support a handgun ban
10-17-18 Head of anti-homophobia group assaulted in Paris
The president of a French gay association has been beaten in what he said was a homophobic attack on the streets of Paris. Guillaume Mélanie, president of Urgence Homophobie, said he was leaving a restaurant in the centre of the city when the attack happened. He suffered a broken nose and went to hospital for treatment. The story prompted an outpouring of support and condemnation of frequent such attacks in the French capital. Last week, two young women sitting on a public bench were insulted with homophobic slurs before being attacked. Earlier in October, two men who had been kissing in the city were set upon, both receiving injuries which required hospital treatment. And in late September, comedian Arnaud Gagnoud was attacked by six people for hugging another man while leaving a play. Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo tweeted her support to Mr Mélanie, saying "this series of homophobic acts calls for a collective outburst". "It is out of the question to resign ourselves to this violence," she tweeted to him. "We will do everything to ensure that everyone is free and sees their rights respected in Paris." Mr Mélanie was attacked near the Etienne Marcel station in Paris' second district - somewhere he considered it a "very gay-friendly" neighbourhood, he told French broadcaster BFMTV.
10-17-18 Canada becomes second country to legalise recreational marijuana
The first recreational cannabis to be legally bought in Canada was purchased at midnight on Wednesday (02:30 GMT) on the eastern island of Newfoundland amid queues of hundreds of people. Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 2001. But concerns remain, including about the readiness for police forces to tackle drug impaired driving. Information has been sent to 15m households about the new laws and there are public awareness campaigns. Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. They are responsible for setting out where cannabis can be bought and consumed. This has created a patchwork of more or less restrictive legislation across the country.
10-16-18 Half-hearted cannabis legalisation move leaves patients in limbo
Medical cannabis is to be available in the UK from November, but tight restrictions will drive patients to alternative sources, says Henry Fisher. Any government looking to regulate medical cannabis has to chart a careful course between implementing a system that it is too permissive, to the extent that it is simply a facade for non-medical use, and one that is too restrictive, resulting in a system that fails to provide for patients. In a policy shift that will legalise the sale of medical as of November, the UK government has chosen to steer far closer to the second option. Cannabis not produced for medical use in humans remains a class B, schedule 1 substance, prohibited under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. Cannabis-based medicinal products, however, will become schedule 2 medicines, with one major exception: In a bid to prevent confusion for police going about their everyday business, smoking cannabis will remain illegal, regardless of its origin. Those prescribed cannabis will not be permitted to medicate themselves with the aid of a flame. This legal wizardry has created a new alchemical transmutation: medicine will mystically change into an illegal narcotic at the point that it is combusted and inhaled. Getting the medication in the first place won’t be easy. Only specialists can prescribe the medication, following a referral from a GP. For the UK’s regulations to lead to even modest levels of patient access, a huge programme of education among healthcare professionals will be required.
10-16-18 Legal cannabis in Canada: Should pot convicts get amnesty?
As Canada legalises recreational cannabis, what happens to the 500,000 people with existing criminal records for pot possession?
10-16-18 'Anti-white' racism: Australia senators blame 'error' for vote
The Australian government has said that an "administrative error" prompted 23 of its senators to vote for a motion which stated "it is OK to be white". The motion by Pauline Hanson, leader of the anti-Islam One Nation party, also condemned "anti-white racism". It was defeated 31-28 in a vote on Monday. Critics noted that the phrase "it's OK to be white" has been associated with trolls and white supremacist groups. PM Scott Morrison said the level of government support was "regrettable". Responding to a backlash on Tuesday, the government said its senators had misunderstood the motion due to an internal "process failure". A senior minister, Christian Porter, blamed an "early email" sent by his staff without his knowledge. It had told senators to support the motion. "The associations of the language were not picked up. Had it been raised directly with me those issues would have been identified," he said in a statement. Among those to support it were Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Deputy National leader Bridget McKenzie. Political opponents dismissed the motion as another stunt by Ms Hanson, who last year hit the headlines for wearing a burka. (Webmaster's comment: Any skin color is OK!)
10-15-18 Trump and the end of American ideals
What the president admitted on 60 Minutes. If you watched President Trump's interview with Lesley Stahl on Sunday night's 60 Minutes, you may have noticed that he gave two answers to the question of what America would do if it's proven — as widely believed — that the Saudis murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident and frequent contributor to The Washington Post. Trump's first answer was the same answer just about any president would've given: "We would be very upset and angry if that were the case." The second answer — and probably the more honest one — was also the same answer most presidents would've given, but almost never in public: He talked about military contracts. "I tell you what I don't want to do," Trump told Stahl. "Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these com — I don't want to hurt jobs. I don't want to lose an order like that." In other words: America is making too much money off of Saudi Arabia to let something so trifling as the murder of a journalist upend the relationship. There's nothing new about that — the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia and its royal rulers has always been transactional. What is new is this American president, who can barely be bothered to espouse his country's traditional humanitarian and democratic ideals. Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. Trump might be a prolific liar, but he's not actually much of a hypocrite. He wears his vice — and now America's — squarely on his sleeve. Some people might call this "the end of America's innocence," but that phrase has been used so often that it's cliche, a description of our collective reaction to everything from the assassination of JFK to the country's loss in Vietnam to the attacks of 9/11. In truth, America hasn't been that innocent: This country supposedly originated on the ideas of liberty and democracy, but was built largely on the backs of slaves and for decades has undone the expressed will of citizens in countries ranging from Chile to Iran. America's innocence was always a myth.
10-15-18 Cannabis in Canada: Who wins and who loses under new law
Canada is about to become the second nation to fully legalise recreational cannabis. When prohibition comes to an end on 17 October, Canadian adults will be able to purchase and consume the drug from federally licensed producers. Canada is about to become the second nation to fully legalise recreational cannabis. When prohibition comes to an end on 17 October, Canadian adults will be able to purchase and consume the drug from federally licensed producers. The country has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, particularly among young people. Canadians spent an estimated C$5.7bn ($4.6bn; £3.5bn) in 2017 alone on combined medical and recreational use - about $1,200 per user. The bulk of that spending was on black market marijuana. Uruguay was the first country to legalise recreational marijuana, although Portugal and the Netherlands have decriminalised the drug. Here's a look at some of the consequences of this sweeping transition in Canada - and the potential winners and losers. Lawyers - winners. Landlords - losers. Global brands - winners. 'Craft' cannabis producers - losers? Cannabis researchers - winners. Justin Trudeau - winner. Canada's cities - losers?
10-14-18 Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero canonised
Pope Francis has conferred sainthood on murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero at a ceremony in the Vatican. He praised the cleric - an advocate for peace during El Salvador's civil war - for sacrificing his own safety to be "close to the poor and his people". Óscar Romero was killed by soldiers while giving Mass in 1980. His killers have never been brought to justice. Pope Francis also canonised Pope Paul VI, known for making reforms to the Catholic Church in the 1960s. The bestowing of a sainthood onto Archbishop Romero has long been called for by Catholics in the region, the BBC's Will Grant reports.
10-14-18 Canada cannabis legalisation: ‘We know the world is watching
For many Canadians, the idea of legal cannabis once seemed a pipe dream. But from 17 October, Canada will become the first G7 country to give recreational cannabis the green light. It's following a trail first blazed by Uruguay in 2013. "It's becoming a serious industry," says one entrepreneur. Supporters say legalisation will bring new medical advances and help stamp out drug-related crime. But some critics argue that long-term use can harm people's health. Others worry about how it will be policed. So who are some of the so-called "ganjapreneurs" riding this new legal high? Vinay Tolia ran his own hedge fund before becoming chief executive of Flowr this year. He co-founded the cannabis producer with Tom Flow, an industry veteran who sold his last firm, MedReleaf, for more than $2.5bn (£1.9bn). Vinay says getting into the legal cannabis industry is "the right thing to do from a social level". "You can objectively see that the drug policies have been a failure," he says. "And why not study it? There are tonnes of medicinal benefits waiting to be discovered that are going to be hugely beneficial to a lot of people." Flowr runs an 84,000-sq ft facility in British Columbia where it grows plants under highly controlled conditions. By managing humidity, airflow and other factors in a sterilised setting more akin to a pharmaceutical lab, Flowr says it can mass produce cannabis that's of a consistent, high quality. "There is a lot of painstaking care in making the right plant," says Vinay. "[Cannabis] is very sensitive. You can have the same strains in two different rooms with a slightly different temperature and get completely different chemical compositions." Flowr has also teamed up with gardening industry giant Scotts Miracle-Gro, opening a research facility to study pot genetics and how the plant can affect users.
10-13-18 Australia to stop religious schools rejecting gay students
Australia's prime minister has promised to ban religious schools from discriminating against gay students. Scott Morrison said new legislation would "make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality". Some Australian states allow such schools to turn away gay students. The issue has been hotly debated in the country after recommendations of a report on religious freedom were leaked earlier this week. The report, commissioned after same-sex marriage was made legal last year, suggested that procedures for non-state schools to reject gay students should be made consistent nationwide, raising the possibility of allowing such rejections across Australia. On Wednesday Mr Morrison, who leads the centre-right Liberal-National coalition, said the proposals - which included some safeguards for gay students - would be considered "carefully and respectfully". But on Saturday he made clear that religious schools would not be allowed to discriminate under new legislation. "Given recent misreporting, we have an opportunity here to bring forward a simple amendment to end the confusion," he said. State schools are already banned from discriminating against students on the basis of their sexuality.
10-12-18 Editor’s letter
When the Nazis occupied Hungary, one of their first orders of business was to round up the Jews. A notably moving account of this period comes in a book called Masquerade, written by Tivadar Soros—the father of the philanthropist George Soros. The elder Soros, a lawyer in Budapest, tells the story of how the Nazis summoned the Jewish lawyers in alphabetical order. The first day, it was those whose last names started with A–C. By the end of the week, they reached G. Tivadar did not wait to find out if he was prominent enough to make the list when they reached S. He and the 14-year-old George went into hiding—George’s mother and brother hid separately—and survived the war. Those who thought they had no choice but to queue up in alphabetical order did not. I thought of that story this week. In Brazil, the world’s thirdmost populous democracy, Jair Bolsonaro, a proud admirer of the country’s former military dictatorship, won the first round of presidential voting. A prominent Saudi dissident seems to have been brazenly kidnapped and dismembered. Soros himself has been in the news, too. (See Talking Points.) A man who for years was hated by the hard left for opposing communism in every form is now a bogeyman for the hard right; fringe groups spread false stories of how this Holocaust survivor collaborated with the Nazis. With repressive regimes rising around the world, the march of autocracy has the aura of inevitability—an impression dictators and would-be dictators encourage, just as the Nazis fostered the illusion that there was no choice but to line up for deportation and execution. But the rise of autocracy is not inevitable. Bad as this week has been for democracy, it’s a good week to note the lesson of Masquerade: That even in the darkest times, there are always choices, alternative paths of justice and sanity for those who have enough wits about them not to wait patiently for their name to be called.
10-12-18 Kavanaugh squeezes onto the Supreme Court
Justice Brett Kavanaugh heard his first arguments on the Supreme Court this week after one of the most bitterly contested confirmation battles in American history. The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh shortly after receiving the results of a limited FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against him made by California research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, who knew the judge in high school, and former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez. Senators were allowed to review a single copy of the report inside a secure room on Capitol Hill. The results were enough to persuade undecided Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine to cast their vote for Kavanaugh, as well as Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the only Democrat to vote “yes.” The vote, which took place amid screams of “Shame!” from protesters in the gallery, was the narrowest confirmation vote since 1881. At a swearing-in ceremony at the White House, President Trump apologized to Kavanaugh “on behalf of the nation” for the pain he and his family endured throughout the confirmation process. “You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent,” Trump said. Democrats, meanwhile, complained that the narrow FBI investigation ordered by the White House was too limited and rushed, with the bureau ignoring testimony offered by several of Kavanaugh’s former college classmates who said they’d witnessed him behaving belligerently after heavy drinking. “I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness,” said Kavanaugh, whose confirmation cements the court’s conservative majority. “I will seek to be a force for stability and unity.” (Webmaster's comment: The sexual predators are now running the show.)
10-12-18 Nowhere to go
A federal official said the release this week of hundreds of migrant families from government custody marked “the start of a dam breaking,” as immigrant detention centers reach capacity. At one site in Arizona, hundreds of migrants seeking asylum were released without warning or instructions on where to go, how to find relatives, or how to travel to court hearings, NBC News reported. Some of the migrants have gotten shelter, aid, and even Greyhound bus tickets from local churches, which were warned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to expect a flood of releases. “You’ll start to see this all across the southern border soon,” said a Department of Homeland Security official. More than 12,700 parents and children were apprehended crossing the border in August, triple the number a year earlier.
10-12-18 Canada politician says crucifix 'not religious symbol'
The newly-elected premier of Quebec in Canada has raised eyebrows by saying a crucifix hanging in the provincial legislature is not a religious symbol. François Legault's remarks come despite his government plan to ban civil servants from wearing items of clothing such as hijabs and the Jewish skullcap. The policy has been widely criticised as it targets minority groups. A 2008 report said the crucifix which has been hanging in the legislature since 1936 should be removed. But the Quebec government refused to implement its findings. The debate over religious symbols in Quebec public life has been a perennial issue for the past decade. In 2014, the Parti Quebecois proposed a so-called Charter of Values bill, that would ban all public servants from wearing "ostentatious" religious symbols or clothing. Many decried the bill as Islamophobic and anti-Semitic, but proponents said the law was meant to promote secularism and separate Church and state. Since winning a majority in last week's election, Mr Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec party has renewed the call to ban all religious symbols, and has even said he would consider firing teachers who refused to comply with the ban. "We have to understand our past," Mr Legault said. "In our past we had Protestants and Catholics. They built the values we have in Quebec. We have to recognise that and not mix that with religious signs." His willingness to ban religious symbols - whilst refusing to take the crucifix down from the legislature - has drawn much criticism. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is from Quebec, said the state had no right to tell women who wear the hijab what they can and cannot wear.
10-12-18 A day in a U.S. hospital
Pioneering U.S. physicist Leon Lederman sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 in 2015 to pay medical bills, it was revealed following his death last week. A day in a U.S. hospital costs an average of $5,220, compared with $765 in Australia or $424 in Spain.
10-12-18 We are not America’s enemy
How seriously should we take the Trump administration’s hysterical anti-China rhetoric? asked the Global Times. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence “slandered China” in a speech at the right-wing Hudson Institute last week, accusing Beijing of all manner of sins. Pence lambasted China’s trade policies and military spending, even the defense of our sovereignty in the South China Sea. He claimed that our government is persecuting the Uighurs, a minority Muslim people in western China. And he insisted, with no evidence whatsoever, that Beijing was interfering in the U.S. midterm elections. These ridiculous allegations are a clear attempt to help President Trump “get rid of Russiagate by shifting attention from Russian interference to Chinese meddling.” For its own domestic political purposes, the Trump administration is setting up China as an enemy. But the complicated relationship between China and the U.S. can’t be so easily defined. We are neither enemies nor friends. It’s up to China, then, to be the adult in this relationship. Beijing will have to “stay poised and avoid being misled by the aggressiveness of the U.S. government.” After all, the “brutal and lose-lose” trade war that the U.S. is conducting will inevitably hurt ordinary Americans, who in turn will punish their leaders. The U.S. won’t dare push us too hard—“out of fear of China’s countermeasures.”
10-12-18 Journalists strangled, shot, blown up
A Bulgarian TV journalist was brutally raped, beaten, and strangled to death while out jogging last week, said Bulgaria’s FrogNews.bg in an editorial, and authorities are trying to pretend it had nothing to do with her reporting. Viktoria Marinova, 30, an anchor of the news show Detector and the ex-wife of TV magnate Svilen Maximov, was investigating the alleged embezzlement of European Union funds by Bulgarian firms at the time of her murder. But Interior Minister Mladen Marinov insisted that her killing must be a random sex crime, noting that Marinova, a former beauty queen, ran every day on the same route, and that the killer apparently lay in wait for her. A 21-year-old Bulgarian man with a criminal record, Severin Krasimirov, was arrested this week for the murder; police said the crime was not linked to Marinova’s work. But the louder officials make these claims, the more we will suspect that this courageous journalist was killed “to muzzle her investigations.” Bulgaria is a dangerous place to be a reporter, said Jennifer Rankin in The Guardian (U.K.). The press freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders says both “corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs” are widespread there, and that physical attacks and death threats against journalists by crime groups “are especially common.” If Marinova was killed because of her work, she’s part of a gruesome trend, said Francesco Battistini in Corriere della Sera (Italy). Malta’s most famous investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was blown up last year in a targeted car bombing. In February, Slovak reporter Jan Kuciak was shot to death in his home, along with his fiancée, while working on a story about the links between the Calabrian mob, the ’Ndrangheta, and local businesses. And now Marinova. Surely it is not “pure chance” that all three had been investigating corruption involving the misuse of EU funds? It’s bad enough when suspected mob hitmen go around murdering journalists, said Yahya Bostan in the Daily Sabah (Turkey). When a national government does it, we’re in a new realm of terror. Jamal Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalists, fled his country last year during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on dissent. He continued to criticize brutality in his native land for publications such as The Washington Post, and last week went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to file paperwork for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman. Khashoggi, 59, never came out. Turkish officials say they have proof he was murdered in the consulate, and his body dismembered and removed. The Saudis insist Khashoggi left the building on his own, yet they refuse to release video footage from the exits. If Saudi Arabia really had a journalist murdered at a diplomatic mission in a foreign country, “it deserves to be designated a rogue state.” Being a reporter has suddenly become a far more perilous profession.
10-12-18 Pope accepts Donald Wuerl's resignation as Washington DC archbishop
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Washington DC archbishop Donald Wuerl, who has been criticised for his handling of sexual abuse cases. Cardinal Wuerl had offered to resign when he reached 75 in 2015, but the Pope did not take up the resignation. Cardinal Wuerl was recently criticised in a report on sexual abuse cases when he was bishop of Pittsburgh and admitted to lapses in judgement. The report said he had allowed accused priests to be reassigned or reinstated. Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "The Holy Father's decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. "It permits this local Church to move forward. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologise and ask for pardon." Donald Wuerl will reportedly retain his title of cardinal and continue in his role until a successor is found. The Archdiocese of Washington released a letter in which Pope Francis praises Cardinal Wuerl for not trying to justify his actions in the handling of sexual abuse cases even though he had sufficient evidence to do so. "Your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defence. Of this, I am proud and thank you," Pope Francis says in the letter. Bishops are asked to submit their resignation at 75, but continue in their role until the Pope chooses to accept it. Allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy worldwide continue to affect the Church. In August, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a grand jury report detailing sexual abuse. It named over 300 accused Catholic clergymen. The investigation found more than 1,000 children had been abused by members of six dioceses in the state over 70 years. Officials said the probe found systematic cover-ups by the Church of victims that included young boys and girls, as well as teenagers. The report criticised Cardinal Wuerl for his role in concealing the abuse. In July, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former Washington DC archbishop and a high-profile Catholic leader, resigned amid allegations that he sexually abused children and adults for decades. (Webmaster's comment: Notice that priests raping children gets them NO JAIL TIME!)
10-12-18 Colin Kaepernick: NFL quarterback calls for further protests against racial injustice
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick called for further protests against racial injustice, after he received a prestigious award for his contributions to black history and culture. Kaepernick, who has not played since the 2016 season, was the first player to kneel during the US national anthem. Other players followed suit, leading to criticism from President Donald Trump. "It is our duty to fight for them and we're going to continue to fight for them," Kaepernick, 30, said. Receiving the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University, he added: "I feel it's not only my responsibility but all of our responsibilities that - as people who are in positions of privilege, in positions of power - we continue to fight for them, uplift them, empower them. "If we don't, we become complicit in the problem." Players who refused to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner have said the protests were a reaction to police brutality against African Americans and racial inequality. Kaepernick has been without a team since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017. He has filed a grievance against NFL team owners he claims conspired not to hire him because of his protests and has become the face of a new Nike advertising campaign.
10-12-18 Solitary confinement is torture
"God! what darkness here!" cries Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio, speaking alone to the audience from the underground cell in which he has been imprisoned. Beethoven's youthful Jacobinism has not aged well, but many of the causes that animated his politics are as worthy now as they were in his own era. This is true not least of his evident horror of solitary confinement, which he shared with Dumas, Dickens, and many other 19th-century worthies. It is the moral seriousness of the uncompromising revolutionary that makes the famous "Prisoners' Chorus" among the most stirring moments in the history of Western art music. I was recently surprised to find myself thinking that Justice Sonia Sotomayor has done something worthy, politically if not aesthetically, of the great composer. Sotomayor deserves a nation's gratitude for her statement issued Tuesday following the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case of prisoners — one now dead — who had been held in solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary. "A punishment need not leave scars to be cruel and unusual," Sotomayor wrote. "To deprive a prisoner of any outdoor exercise for an extended period of time in the absence of an especially strong basis for doing so is deeply troubling — and has been recognized as such for many years." According to filings, the men were allowed to leave their cells for only one hour five days a week in order to visit an "exercise area," apparently in keeping with state regulations concerning prisoners' right to be outdoors. This is what the state believed compliance looked like. One of the petitioners in the case spent 11 years living in such conditions. He died in May, three years after his release. "While we do not know what caused his death," Sotomayor wrote, "we do know that solitary confinement imprints on those that it clutches a wide range of psychological scars."
10-12-18 I smoke weed. I'm still a responsible parent.
I don't want to shock you, but more than half of the 55 percent of American adults who use some form of cannabis are parents. Of that half, 16 million have children under the age of 18. Let me repeat that: Many cannabis users are parents. With. Young. Children. Many pot-smoking parents, even if they live in a state where weed is legal, feel the need to remain anonymous, so you may not know about the legions of them because stigma still abounds. I hereby exit the weed closet and admit that I am a parent who occasionally enjoys cannabis. But before you call social services, please hear me out. We all know that alcohol is a part of parent culture. Hell, it's a part of the culture. Sunday barbecues go with beer. Mom's night out is at a local wine bar. Weddings, birthdays, baseball games — you name it, Americans like to drink. And most people would agree that it's OK for a parent to have a glass of wine, or even two, while parenting. Obviously, not while driving one's kids to art class. Obviously, not with breakfast. Obviously, not to any kind of excess, since that's unhealthy for everyone, and potentially dangerous. But in moderation, it's okay. I think the same is true for cannabis. Adults can consume it responsibly and still be good parents. They can hold down jobs, pay bills, feed and house their families, and provide emotional support. They can teach their kids the social, self-care, and intellectual skills life requires and they — we — shouldn't be stigmatized.
10-11-18 Matthew Shepard to be interred 20 years after brutal murder
Matthew Shepard was savagely killed in Wyoming in 1998 at the age of 21 and went on to became a symbol on anti-gay violence in the US. After being robbed by two men, he was repeatedly beaten and tied to a fence in near freezing conditions. A cyclist found him after 18 hours. Six days later he died. His parents cremated the body and kept the ashes, worried that a final resting place would be vandalised. But now he will finally be laid to rest. The remains will be interred inside the crypt of Washington National Cathedral on 26 October, his family says. (Webmaster's comment: Living in fear even after death. What a hate filled nation!) The University of Wyoming student was openly gay. On 7 October 1998, he was lured from a bar in the city of Laramie by two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. They both confessed to telling Shepard they were gay and offering him a ride home with the intent to rob him. They became angry when Shepard made a sexual advance, they said, and drove the student to an isolated area outside town. There, the attackers tied him to a wooden fence and repeatedly struck Shepard's head with a handgun. The cyclist who found him first mistook the student for a scarecrow. Shepard was taken a local hospital and then moved to a better facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. His skull was so badly fractured by the beating that doctors said surgery was not an option. He died on 12 October. Henderson pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. McKinney was also given a life sentence after being found guilty.
10-11-18 Police called on Atlanta man for 'babysitting while black'
Corey Lewis was leaving a Subway sandwich shop in the US state of Georgia on Sunday with the two children he was babysitting, when a woman approached him in a Walmart car park. The woman asked if the children were OK, and requested to speak to them. When Mr Lewis refused, the woman followed him home and called the police. Mr Lewis is black. The children were white. The incident in suburban Atlanta has recharged the debate about racial profiling in America. Mr Lewis documented parts of the experience in a series of Facebook Live videos which have been viewed more than 600,000 times. In the videos, Mr Lewis says: "It's 2018. I can't step out into the community without being profiled. "I am being harassed and followed... because I have got two kids that don't look like me." He also said that the children were "scared" by the woman following them. In the final video, Mr Lewis is questioned by a police officer by the side of the road. Mr Lewis described the incident as an example of "babysitting while black" and suggests that the only reason the woman contacted the police was because of his skin colour. The videos were met with anger online, with many people commenting that it was "disgusting" and "terrible" that the police were called. Many people used the hashtag #BabysittingWhileBlack to express their anger. (Webmaster's comment: The woman should be arresting for racism and for threatening children and their babysitter! They were under his care.)
10-11-18 Trump's bogus attack on Medicare-for-all
His stunningly disingenuous op-ed in USA Today reveals the true nature of conservatism. President Donald Trump took to the pages of USA Today on Wednesday to gin up fear among senior citizens about nascent proposals by some progressives to open up Medicare to all Americans. Nearly every sentence of Trump's screed was overrun with egregious factual inaccuracies and tired old tropes about "socialized medicine" turning the United States into a Latin American basket case. But setting all that aside, Trump's op-ed reveals the core of modern conservatism: It's all about preserving privileges and dignity for those who already have them, and denying them to those who don't. The heavy-handed message from Trump's op-ed is that seniors should fear giving Democrats political power because Democrats want to "end Medicare as we know it." Expanding our current Medicare-for-retirees program to a Medicare-for-all program, Trump asserts, would somehow endanger health care for current Medicare beneficiaries. Trump's argument is a restatement of Republican talking points. As The Washington Post's Dave Weigel points out, Republican congressional candidates in competitive races across the country are purporting to be the true protectors of Medicare against imagined left-wing schemes to bankrupt health care for seniors. As Weigel characterizes the attack: "It's a zero-sum game, Republicans say, and Democrats want Medicare recipients to lose their benefits." These attacks are dripping in bad faith. The Republican Party is supposedly the party of small-government conservatism, opposed in its bones to the very existence of government programs like Medicare. It's the party of Ronald Reagan, who warned that guaranteed health care for seniors would extinguish freedom in America, and the party of Paul Ryan, who spent his career dreaming of gutting Medicare through mass privatization and benefit cuts.
10-11-18 Germany's AfD sparks outcry at far-right child informer plan
German justice minister Katarina Barley has sharply condemned an online scheme launched by the far-right AfD party to get schoolchildren to inform on teachers who are politically partial. The far-right party entered parliament for the first time this year, becoming the biggest opposition party. Its informant site started in Hamburg and is likely to be launched elsewhere. Ms Barley said it was "a method of dictators" and one union leader likened it to a "tool from the Middle Ages". Comparisons have also been drawn with spying practices by the Nazis in World War Two and afterwards by the Stasi security service in communist East Germany. In the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann said the idea was "completely wrong and harmful to democracy". Currently riding second in opinion polls in Germany, AfD is hoping to enter the Bavarian state assembly for the first time when elections are held on 14 October. (Webmaster's comment: Turning in your parents and teachers and other adults for "crimes against the state" was a tactic used by the Nazis and Communists.)
10-11-18 Medicinal cannabis will be available in the UK from next month
The UK Home Secretary has announced that doctors will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis from next month following a specially commissioned review. Doctors in the UK will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients from 1 November, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced. Javid had decided to relax the rules about the circumstances in which cannabis products can be given to patients, after considering expert advice from a specially commissioned review. The new regulations apply to England, Wales and Scotland, and follow several high-profile cases, including that of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, children with epilepsy whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil. Alfie’s mother, Hannah Deacon, was one of many campaigners to welcome the move. “Today is a momentous day for every patient and family with a suffering child who wish to access medicinal cannabis. We urge the medical world to get behind these reforms so they can help the tens of thousands of people who are in urgent need of help,” she says. Mike Barnes, the medical cannabis expert who secured the first long-term licence for its use for Alfie, says: “This announcement has transformed the position of the UK in this exciting and developing field.” He added that some of his medical colleagues were unsure about the benefits, but that “compared to many pharmaceutical drugs, whole plant medical cannabis products are remarkably safe and, as recent high-profile cases have shown, can produce dramatic improvements for patients.”
10-10-18 Delivered from evil: Humans aren’t always corrupted by power after all
The Stanford prison experiment was the classic demonstration of how power can bring out the worst in us. But now it seems it was more about showbiz than science. IN A darkened auditorium in September 2008, I sat in the audience awaiting the start of a presentation entitled “The psychology of evil” by social psychologist Philip Zimbardo. Suddenly, the doors at the back of the theatre burst open, lights flashed and Santana’s song Evil Ways blared from the speakers. A man with slicked-back black hair and a devilish pointy beard danced up the aisle towards the stage, snapping his fingers in time with the music. Zimbardo’s flamboyant entrance was startling, given the nature of the talk. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Zimbardo’s knack for performance is one of the reasons his Stanford prison experiment is one of the most famous psychological studies of the 20th century, alongside research into obedience carried out by his high-school classmate, Stanley Milgram. Eschewing conventional academic reporting, Zimbardo’s first account of the experiment was a sensational piece that appeared in a supplement of The New York Times, showcasing his skill as a storyteller. The article kicked off by detailing how, one sunny morning in Palo Alto, California, in 1971, police swooped on the homes of nine young men. They were bundled into squad cars, taken to the police station, charged, then blindfolded and transported to the Stanford County Jail, where they met their guards. The “jail” was actually a set-up in the basement of a building at Stanford University. The prisoners were one half of a group of volunteers, the other half being assigned the role of guards. In what Zimbardo described as “a gradual Kafkaesque metamorphosis of good into evil”, these seemingly well-adjusted young men became increasingly brutal as guards. They “repeatedly stripped their prisoners naked, hooded them, chained them, denied them food or bedding privileges, put them into solitary confinement, and made them clean toilet bowls with their bare hands”, Zimbardo wrote. “Over time, these amusements took a sexual turn, such as having the prisoners simulate sodomy on each other.” The prisoners, humiliated and victimised, suffered such emotional distress that Zimbardo, playing the role of all-powerful prison superintendent, terminated the two-week experiment after just six days.
10-10-18 Should history's greats be held to today's standards of offense?
The trouble with reassessing history's heroes. Twitter's teapot held a new tempest Sunday, this one brewing over astronaut Scott Kelly's approving quote of Winston Churchill. Within half a day, buffeted by digital waves of outrage, Kelly retracted his words, tweeting that he did "not mean to offend by quoting Churchill" and pledging to educate himself "further on his atrocities." Was Churchill a "grotesque racist and a stubborn imperialist, forever on the wrong side of history" — or a stalwart defender of freedom against the evil of Nazism, a man prone to the errors of his age but admirable nevertheless? The same historical record undergirds both assessments, and their divergence raises questions larger than Churchill's legacy alone: Should history's greats be held to today's standards of offense? Is the past to be interpreted via the present's ethical lens? If we know something to be wrong now, can we blame our ancestors for failing to know it then? Christopher Columbus, whose federal holiday fell on Monday, was weighed and found very much wanting (eyewitness accounts and the man's own journals detail unspeakable cruelty). But what about the more complicated cases? Should we honor someone like Thomas Jefferson, the slave-owning advocate of universal human rights? What do we make of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s alleged infidelity and plagiarism? Or Martin Luther's gross antisemitism, or the rank sexism rampant among classic philosophers and theologians? Or — well, you can find any number of lists of other important historical figures who don't conform to the present-day ethical consensus. (Webmaster's comment: And don't forget the slave owner George Washington who took teeth out of slaves to replace his own and raped slave children to improve the breed of his stock! Slaver owners were monsters and racists destroyed millions of innocent people's lives. THERE WAS NO EXCUSE.)
10-9-18 What is ‘problem internet use’ and is it really a problem?
Researchers are calling for recognition of mental health problems caused by excessive gaming, gambling and social media, but lumping these together may not be right.
- What is “problem internet use”? The usual suspects: excessive online gaming, gambling, porn, social media use or being cyberbullied.
- Anything can be done to excess, so are these really mental illnesses? Gambling addiction has long been recognised as a real problem. Just as people can get hooked on going to physical casinos, now they can on online versions.
- How about the other issues? This is where using the term “addiction” gets contentious. It has connotations of drugs like heroin, which cause brain changes so people need increasing amounts to get the same high.
- But isn’t gaming addiction now a thing? Yes, the World Health Organization is in the process of adding a new mental health condition called “gaming disorder” into its official diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases.
- Surely being cyberbullied is unequivocally bad? But those who experience cyberbullying are usually being bullied in real life too – it’s not that the internet is causing more bullying.
- So is there anything to be worried about at all? Henrietta Bowden-Jones, who heads the UK’s National Problem Gambling Clinic, says she has started fielding calls from parents whose teenagers are spending many hours per week on gaming, to the detriment of their schoolwork and outside interests.
10-9-18 France decorates couple who found Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie
France's most famous Nazi-hunting couple, Serge Klarsfeld and his wife Beate, have received top honours from President Emmanuel Macron. Serge Klarsfeld, 83, received France's highest award, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, while Beate, 79, received the National Order of Merit. The pair began their mission to catch Nazis and bring them to justice after they married in the 1960s. Amongst those they discovered was the notorious war criminal Klaus Barbie. He was a former officer in the Gestapo, Nazi Germany's secret police, whose crimes in France led to him to become known as the "Butcher of Lyon" He was in charge of deporting Jews and others to death camps. After the war he fled to Latin America and was living in Bolivia when the Klarsfelds revealed his whereabouts in 1971. After being extradited to France in 1983. he was given a life sentence in 1987 and died in prison in Lyon in 1991. The Klarsfelds also tracked down members of France's collaborationist Vichy regime including René Bousquet, Jean Leguay and Maurice Papon. Mr Klarsfeld escaped the Nazi Holocaust in Romania when his family moved to France. The daughter of a German soldier, Beate left Germany in 1960 and married Serge in Paris in 1963. The couple dedicated their lives to the pursuit and the prosecution of former Nazis by what they have described as both "legal and illegal" measures, forcing French people to confront the truth of their compatriots' widespread complicity in Nazi crimes. "Neither could have succeeded without the other," their daughter Lida once said, according to AFP news agency. The Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, was amongst those who attended the ceremony in the Elysee Palace on Tuesday,
10-8-18 The partisan hackery of the Supreme Court
The mask has finally slipped, and the Supreme Court has once and for all been revealed as nothing but a partisan political machine. There is no better evidence than Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court, decided by a 50-48 vote on Saturday. This is a serious blow to the fortunes of many Americans — but particularly women. The Supreme Court is now all but assured a conservative majority for many years to come, and Kavanaugh and Co. are highly likely to continue the current trend in conservative jurisprudence of allowing any restriction on abortion that is not a straight-up ban. If there's a silver lining to be found, it's that Kavanaugh's elevation to the court, in spite of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, and a demonstrable pattern of lying under oath, may finally destroy the Supreme Court's last vestiges of nonpartisan legitimacy. Even setting aside the pile of assault allegations, nominating an enraged right-wing extremist — which is exactly what Kavanaugh revealed himself to be in his hearing on Sept. 27 — makes the conservative game on the courts clear. They want to abuse the power of judicial review to strike down liberal laws and enshrine conservative ones as inherently constitutional. The sooner liberals grasp this reality, the better. Let's just consider the past couple decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence. First with Bush v. Gore, they installed their preferred partisan candidate in the presidency, with logic so twisted the decision itself said it should not be cited as precedent. Then with Citizens United v. FEC, they allowed near-unlimited corporate election spending, unleashing a flood tide of dark money propaganda that is drowning American democracy. Then in NFIB v. Sebelius, they blew a giant hole in the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, by dusting off an ancient theory that Congress isn't allowed to coerce states into expanding welfare by threatening to withhold other subsidies. Then in Shelby County v. Holder, they gutted the Voting Rights Act, in a decision that did not even bother to cite the Constitution at all.
10-8-18 Naysayers rise to the top because we naturally treat them as leaders
Openly negative and critical people are often elected leaders, perhaps because we perceive their disregard for social niceties as a sign of power and independence. Negative, critical people often ascend to positions of leadership because their disregard for social niceties makes them seem powerful, research suggests. Eileen Chou at the University of Virginia explored people’s attitudes towards “naysayers” – those who express negative, critical views, and “cheerleaders” – those who express positive, supportive views. Across 11 experiments, she found that naysayers were considered more powerful and suitable for leadership roles than cheerleaders. In one experiment, students were asked to read positive and negative restaurant reviews. They rated the author of the negative review as appearing more powerful, independent and able to express their real opinions about the restaurant. In another experiment, students were placed in groups and asked to review an artwork. Each group contained two actors, one with critical views and the other with appreciative views. The students rated the critical actor as appearing more dominant and in control, and were more likely to elect them as leader of their group. A third experiment asked online volunteers to read real quotes from past US presidential candidates. Without knowing who said them, the participants rated negative quotes like “these are very difficult times and challenges for America” as signalling greater power and leadership potential. Despite these leadership endorsements, the participants rated naysayers as being less likeable than cheerleaders. But this appeared to be offset by their respect for the naysayers’ courage to go against the grain.
10-8-18 Homeless in US: A deepening crisis on the streets of America
They seem to be almost everywhere, in places old and new, no age spared. Sleeping on cardboard or bare ground, the homeless come together under bridges and trees, their belongings in plastic bags symbolising lives on the move. Many have arrived on the streets just recently, victims of the same prosperity that has transformed cities across the US West Coast. As officials struggle to respond to this growing crisis, some say things are likely to get worse.. Vibrant Portland, Oregon's largest city, has long lured many. It is the City of Roses, of pleasant climate, rich culture and progressive thinking. It is also an innovation hub, part of what is called Silicon Forest, and new residents have moved here in these post-recession years attracted by its high-tech companies and their well-paid jobs. But the bonanza, unsurprisingly, has not come to everyone. Booming demand in an area with limited housing offers quickly drove the cost of living up, and those who were financially on the limit lost the ability they once had to afford a place. Many were rescued by family and friends, or government programmes and non-profit groups. Others, however, ended up homeless. The lucky ones have found space in public shelters. Not a few are now in tents and vehicles on the streets. "Even though the economy has never been stronger," Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, said, "inequality [is] growing at an alarming rate and the benefits from a [growing] economy are increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands... We have increasing disparity all across the United States, and that's definitely impacting people." His city is indeed not alone. Homelessness has increased in other thriving West Coast cities that are destinations for young, well-educated workers, like San Francisco and Seattle, where the blame has also largely fallen on rapidly rising costs and evictions.
10-8-18 Is Brazil candidate Jair Bolsonaro the Trump of the Tropics?
Few Brazilians feel indifferent towards Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate who has made it into the run-off of the presidential election. Ever since he announced he was running for president, there have been rallies for and against the controversial former army captain. These divisions look set to deepen now that he will face his Workers' Party rival, Fernando Haddad, in the second round on 28 October.. Jair Bolsonaro likes to court controversy. The 63-year-old has made provocative statements on issues ranging from abortion, race, migration and homosexuality to gun laws. He has portrayed himself as the defender of a Brazil of decades past, suggesting that the country should return to the hardline law-and-order tactics of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. Some media have started calling him the "Trump of the Tropics" comparing his populist style and social media presence to that of the US leader. His presidential rival Ciro Gomes even went as far as dubbing Mr Bolsonaro a "little tropical wannabe Hitler". Mr Bolsonaro had already been doing well in opinion polls when he was stabbed by a lone attacker on 6 September but the intense media attention which followed was new even for him. Even though he was confined to a hospital bed following the attack, preventing him from returning to the campaign trail, he kept rising in the polls. (Webmaster's comment: The move towards dictatorships is spreading accross the world from the United States!)
10-8-18 Three people had their brains wired together so they could play Tetris
Three people played a game of Tetris using brain-reading caps. This is the first time several people have collaborated through brain-to-brain communication. Using only their thoughts to communicate, three people wearing brain-reading caps worked together to play a game of Tetris. This is the first instance of more than two people collaborating through brain-to-brain communication. “Our experiment can be regarded as the first proof-of-concept demonstration that multiple human brains can consciously work together to solve a task that none of the brains individually could,” says Rajesh Rao at the University of Washington in Seattle. In the experiment, three people combined minds to play a game of Tetris. Two of the team were tasked with sending information about the state of the game to the third player who actually decides which moves to make. The two people sending information wear electroencephalography (EEG) caps to record the brain signals produced by their thoughts, and the receiver wears a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) cap that delivers the information to their brain. The senders can see the entire game board, and so have to tell the receiver whether to rotate the block or not. The receiver only sees the current block, not the state of play. The senders communicate with the receiver by focusing their attention on one of two flashing LED lights on either side of a computer monitor, which had the words YES and NO on either side of the screen. Where they focus their attention can be extracted by processing signals from the visual cortex. To pass this information to the receiver, their occipital lobe – the brain’s visual processing centre – is stimulated magnetically when the senders thought ‘yes’, causing the receiver to see a flash of light.
10-7-18 The gay black American who stared down Nazis in the name of love
The incredible story of Reed Peggram. Italy at the end of 1944, the Negro 92nd Infantry Division of the United States Army discovered two gaunt men who claimed they had escaped from a Nazi concentration camp. One man was thin and blonde with a "scholarly appearance." The other had brown skin, a slight build, and an erect carriage. After two years behind barbed wire, they said, they had fled the camp and gone on an incredible journey to reach the American lines: swimming in lakes, hiking through the snow-covered Apennines, and taking shelter in barns, caves, woods, and the homes of friendly partisan supporters. They claimed they dodged bullets and ate leaves to survive; they said they bore witness to the slaughter of women and babies. Their names were Reed Peggram, an African-American, and Gerdh Hauptmann, his Danish friend, and they were "ragged and near collapse from hunger and fatigue." Freelance war correspondent Max Johnson, writing for the Negro newspapers Call and Post, New York Amsterdam News, and Baltimore Afro-American, reported this curious find. The headlines that accompanied his stories were purposefully provocative: "Negro Escapes German Camp in Italy," "Two Scholars Flee Concentration Camp," "How Boston Lad Studying in Denmark Escaped Nazis," and "Boy Friends Scorn Bombs, Come Out OK." Although he reported their claims, Johnson was skeptical of Peggram's tale, not even believing that he was an American citizen, since his "accent was decidedly British." Another correspondent noted that Peggram claimed to have a bachelor's and master's from Harvard, that he spoke English flawlessly, along with four other languages, and that despite his ordeal, it was not his physical suffering that upset him most. "One of my greatest losses was my diploma from Harvard," Peggram said. "They don't issue duplicates. But I still have my Phi Beta Kappa key."
10-7-18 Brett Kavanaugh confirmation: Victory for Trump in Supreme Court battle
President Donald Trump's controversial nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has been sworn in following weeks of rancorous debate. The Senate earlier backed his nomination by 50 votes to 48. Mr Kavanaugh had been embroiled in a bitter battle to stave off claims of sexual assault, which he denies. But after an 11th-hour investigation by the FBI into the allegations, enough wavering senators decided to support the nomination. His confirmation hands Mr Trump a political victory ahead of key mid-term elections in November. Before the vote, hundreds of people protested against Mr Kavanaugh's nomination at the US Capitol in Washington. During the vote, other protesters shouted "shame" from the public gallery and Vice-President Mike Pence had to call for order to be restored. Mr Kavanaugh's appointment is for life and he will strengthen conservative control of the nine-judge court, which has the final say on US law. The 53-year-old was sworn in on Saturday evening in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath, and retired justice Anthony Kennedy - whom Mr Kavanaugh is replacing - administered the judicial oath. Protesters had gathered outside the court and at one point some ran up the steps and banged on its ornate doors. Other demonstrators climbed on the nearby statue of justice. (Webmaster's comment: Another sexual predator is placed in charge of our government! Women should brace themselves for being screwed.)
10-6-18 The invisible descendants of Canada's indigenous tribes
About a decade ago, Rick Desautel, an American descendant of the Sinixt tribe of Canada, decided to challenge a declaration by the Canadian government — that the Sinixt in Canada were officially extinct. The declaration had come after the last Sinixt member in British Columbia passed away in 1956. As a result, Sinixt descendants like Desautel who regularly crossed the U.S. border into Canada lost their rights to traditional land claims in that country. "One of the big things that I wanted to get was the invisibility of me erased," Desautel says, "so I can come back here and have some input on things that are happening in this country to save a lot of this history that's still here." Desautel lives on the reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville in northeast Washington state. In 2009, he crossed the border into Canada to shoot an elk to be used for Sinixt ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. His wife, Linda, helped him quarter and haul the elk out. She said her husband figured they could just strap it on her back. "I'm just thinking to myself, 'Holy criminy, what the hell you doing to me, trying to kill me?' But, we got it out," she says. But Desautel wasn't a resident of Canada and he didn't have a hunting license, so the hunting trip was illegal. For him, it was also a protest. "I knew for a fact that if somebody didn't start this, it never going to get going," Desautel says. "So, when I was asked if I wanted to start this, I said, 'Sure, I'll come up here and kick up a little dust and see what happens here.'" On March 27, 2017, a court in British Columbia acquitted Desautel of charges related to illegal hunting. According to the judge, Desautel was exercising an aboriginal right that stretches back thousands of years.
10-6-18 The GOP will rue the Kavanaugh confirmation
Saturday, the Senate voted narrowly to destroy the Supreme Court of the United States by confirming the profoundly compromised and nakedly partisan Judge Brett Kavanaugh with a 50-48 vote. The drama, such as it was, really ended by mid-afternoon Friday as the critical senator announced in an incredibly long and self-aggrandizing floor speech that she would vote yes, proving that the best way to get what you want in the world is lying shamelessly to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in an hours-long, private conversation. Kavanaugh joins a court whose swing seat was stolen in 2016, whose popular legitimacy is in tatters, whose every 5-4 decision in the coming years will be regarded as corrupted by a majority of Americans, and whose place in the American political system will never be the same. The combination of bad faith and procedural manipulation by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies during this process is unlikely to ever be forgotten by any Democrat currently breathing air as a sentient adult. Kavanaugh was a dreadful nominee from the word go, a lifelong partisan hack whose grubby, enthusiastically beer-crusted fingers were all over nearly every embarrassing national spectacle between the late 1990s and his ascension to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2006, including The Starr Report, Bush v. Gore, and the widespread and illegal use of torture as part of the war on terror. Senate Republicans were so terrified of this sordid, extremely well-documented history that they refused to release the majority of Kavanaugh's long paper trail to the Senate Judiciary Committee, preferring instead an unprecedentedly opaque and rushed process designed to steward him to this very moment of narrow victory. It was, in fact, such a disaster that the American Bar Association has now reopened its investigation into Kavanaugh's fitness to be a judge.
10-5-18 Kavanaugh: Who is more likely to be telling the truth?
We’ll never know for sure what exactly happened between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford in the summer of 1982, said Nathan Robinson in CurrentAffairs.org. But last week’s dramatic Senate testimony did prove one thing: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is a “serial liar.” Kavanaugh insisted that he “never attended” an event like the informal drunken gathering where he allegedly assaulted Blasey Ford. But Kavanaugh’s own calendars show that he went to a friend’s house for “skis”—that is, “brewskies,” or beer—on a weeknight with two of the boys Blasey Ford said were present. Kavanaugh portrayed himself as a studious virgin, admitting to occasional excessive drinking on weekends, yet his high school yearbook lists him as treasurer of the “Keg City Club,” includes his boast, “100 Kegs or Bust,” and refers to him as the “biggest contributor” to the “Beach Week Ralph Club,” a reference to vomiting (“ralphing”). There are also sexually suggestive references to the “devil’s triangle,” a sexual encounter between two men and one woman, and the “Renate Alumni”—boys who claimed they’d had sex with a girl named Renate. Asked about these references, Kavanaugh dissembled, claiming, for example, that the sneering Renate boast was “clumsily intended to show affection.” Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford both spoke “with passion and clarity.” But only one of them told blatant falsehoods. Why? Both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh probably think they’re telling the truth, said Katie Herzog in TheStranger.com. Naturally, a traumatic event like the one Blasey Ford described would stick with her for life. But in the toxic “bro” culture of an elite prep school, Kavanaugh and his buddy Mark Judge likely viewed their actions of pinning a younger girl to a bed and clumsily feeling her up as a bit of drunken fun that didn’t lead anywhere. “When Kavanaugh says the attack never took place, that’s because for him, it did not.” For her, it was a lifelong trauma; for him, it was “less than nothing.” He may even not remember it.
10-5-18 Kavanaugh: Was his display of anger justified?
Brett Kavanaugh may or may not have assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a high school gathering in 1982, said Greg Weiner in The New York Times, but the “injudicious temperament” he displayed at last week’s hearings should nonetheless doom his nomination. The “eruption of Mount Kavanaugh” began with the judge’s opening statement—a vindictive, spluttering diatribe against a conspiracy of Democrats and “left-wing opposition groups” who blackened his name as payback for President Trump’s election and to get “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” With sneering sarcasm, Kavanaugh demanded that Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Amy Klobuchar share details of their own drinking habits before answering their relevant questions about his high school debauchery. “Veering from fury to sniveling sobs,” Kavanaugh came across as an “angry brat” and entitled, self-pitying frat boy, said Roger Cohen, also in the Times. His falsehood-riddled testimony blurred into one long “primal scream for threatened white male privilege.” Only men are considered more credible when they display volcanic anger, said Lili Loofbourow in Slate.com. Only conservatives could find Kavanaugh’s extraordinary tantrum “not just acceptable, but corroborating.” Had the soft-spoken Blasey Ford showed even a hint of anger over what Kavanaugh allegedly did to her, the Right would have read it as proof of her “pathology and brokenness,” and dismissed her accusations as “hysterical.” Kavanaugh actually did himself no favors by dropping his apolitical umpire’s mask, said Laurence Tribe in The New York Times. He not only displayed “a strikingly injudicious temperament” but also revealed himself as a rank partisan with deep “personal animosity toward liberals.” If he’s confirmed, what happens when one of those “left-wing opposition groups” he denounced comes before the Supreme Court? Will he use his new power to take his revenge? “What goes around,” a bitter Kavanaugh said in warning to Democrats, “comes around.”
10-5-18 The FBI’s Kavanaugh investigation
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court hung in the balance this week as the FBI conducted an investigation into the sexual assault allegations against him, at the insistence of wavering Republican senators. After hearing emotional testimony from both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the judge of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said the issue of who was telling the truth “is tearing the country apart,” and that he could not vote for Kavanaugh without further clarification from the FBI. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Flake in backing an investigation. But House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would call for a vote as soon as the FBI concluded its expanded background check. “The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” McConnell said. President Trump ordered the FBI to conduct an investigation into the allegations from Blasey Ford as well as from Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a college party. But the FBI reportedly was not given authority to look into Kavanaugh’s drinking habits in high school and college or whether he told the truth during his Senate testimony. Initially, the White House provided the bureau with a list of only four witnesses to question; after backlash from Democrats, the White House clarified that the FBI could interview anyone agents felt necessary, as long as the investigation wrapped up within one week. Ramirez’s attorney, John Clune, said she provided more than 20 names to the FBI, but there’s no indication that the FBI has contacted any of them. “We have great concern that the FBI is not conducting—or not being permitted to conduct—a serious investigation,” Clune said. The FBI’s report was due be sent to the Senate after The Week went to press. (Webmaster's comment: This "investigation" is a shame. It's only purpose is to white wash Kavanaugh! Get ready for Republican's gross violations of human rights!)
10-4-18 Brett Kavanaugh accusations: Are young men in America scared?
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that it was a "difficult" and "scary" time for young men in the US and mocked a woman who says she was assaulted by his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Mr Trump was expressing support for Mr Kavanaugh as the FBI investigates claims of sexual misconduct by several women, including Christine Blasey Ford, against the judge. The remarks come a year after the #MeToo movement toppled prominent Hollywood figures and thousands of women shared their experiences of sexual harassment. Donald Trump Jnr has also said he is more worried about his sons than his daughters. Is the president right? Do young men feel under threat, and have any changed their behaviour and views in the past 12 months? Drake King, an 18-year-old student from Tennessee, told the BBC that he did not feel scared as a young man in college. "I feel comfortable with this social change - it helps me realise what I've been doing wrong as a man. Self-reflection is something that most people need," he says. Explaining how he felt he had acted disrespectfully towards women in the past, he believes the guidelines on what is and isn't OK are now clearer: "It helps to have someone tell me what I am doing wrong." The feeling that #MeToo was a learning experience for young men is echoed by 21-year-old Ohio student Parker Smith. "Genuinely listening to these perspectives has led me to reflect on my own. #MeToo has helped make me more cognisant of how I handle myself. "#MeToo has led me to do a better job of listening, which has, in turn, prompted me to be more self-reflective and aware of how women perceive my own actions and those of other men." (Webmaster's comment: It's all part of the blame the women for their own rapes movement!)
10-5-18 Supreme Court: Legitimacy on trial
For years, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been deeply worried about “preserving the court’s legitimacy,” said Ronald Brownstein in TheAtlantic.com. That makes the bitter partisan battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination Roberts’ “worst nightmare.” When hit with allegations of sexual misconduct, a visibly furious Kavanaugh accused Senate Democrats of “colluding to sink his nomination.” As he railed about the Clintons and future political payback, he sounded like “a Republican operative in robes.” If you look back, every conservative on the court has arrived “in a manner that lacks legitimacy,” said Erwin Chemerinsky in Prospect.org. Clarence Thomas lied about sexually harassing female subordinates. John Roberts and Samuel Alito were appointed following the court’s blatantly partisan intervention in the 2000 election on behalf of George W. Bush. Republicans confirmed Neil Gorsuch after refusing even to consider President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland. The court’s conservative bloc was created through “Republican power plays.” Nonetheless, “a legitimacy crisis” may be coming, said Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux in FiveThirtyEight.com. Polling suggests “the public has slowly become more disillusioned with the Supreme Court,” with Gallup recently finding that only 37 percent of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the court. The Kavanaugh battle is likely to bring that figure lower. In the past, when the court ruled on politically charged issues like segregation and suffrage, most Americans grudgingly accepted their rulings. In coming years, that may no longer be true.
10-5-18 “What goes around, comes around.”
Perversely, whichever party loses the Kavanaugh battle may actually benefit. This year’s congressional elections—and possibly the fate of the Trump presidency—will be largely decided by turnout. Turnout will depend on whose narrative of fear and resentment is stronger: Is it now open season for #MeToo feminists and liberals to destroy conservative, white males with unverified allegations? (“Think of your sons. Think of your husbands,” Trump urged a cheering rally in Mississippi this week, as he gleefully threw more kindling on the fire.) Or have Republicans closed ranks around privileged men who consider it their birthright to harass and assault women amid mocking laughter? Many women are saying the events of recent weeks have left them “incandescent” with rage. What goes around, comes around. Another karmic debt is coming due.
“Vice President Mike Pence is setting himself up to replace his boss if Trump leaves office early or does not seek re-election. Pence would never admit this. He plays the part of unctuous toady so fully that the conservative writer George Will called him ‘America’s most repulsive public figure.’ But don’t be fooled. He has seeded the federal government with his loyalists and is building his own nationwide political organization. He is acting, in fact, as if he is on a mission from God. Some may laugh, but many conservative Christians believe that God is merely using Trump to prepare the way for a so-called true man of faith.” (Webmaster's comment:The coming of the Christians Only United States of America! All others must be purged! We are looking to become a Religious Dictatorship like those in the middle east!)
10-5-18 Kids crowd tent city
Hundreds of migrant children in government custody were moved this summer from foster shelters to a tent city in West Texas, The New York Times reported this week. More than 1,600 kids, mostly ages 13 to 17, have passed through the camp, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso—many of them awakened and transported to the camp in the middle of the night. Air-conditioned tents are lined with bunks. There’s no school, and access to legal services is limited. When the tent city opened in June, government officials insisted it was a temporary response to the influx of detained migrant children, who now number 13,000, the largest population ever. In September, the Tornillo camp’s capacity was expanded from 400 to 3,800 children, and some may stay there for months. Unlike privately run foster shelters, the camp is not subject to guidelines from state welfare authorities. (Webmaster's comment: The American atrocities continue!)
10-5-18 White supremacists charged
Four men were arrested this week after being identified as “among the most violent individuals” at the “Unite the Right” rally last year in Charlottesville. Authorities said the four California men, ages 24 to 34, are members of a militant white supremacist group and flew to Virginia last August to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They’re charged with conspiracy to riot and with violating the federal riots statute after physically assaulting counterprotesters during a torchlit march and at a rally the following night. Prosecutors say the attacks were caught in photos and video. Previously, James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with killing Heather Heyer, 32, when he plowed his car through a crowd of counterdemonstrators. He pleaded not guilty to 30 counts. The four men were presented with charges in California courts this week and could each face 10 years in prison.
10-5-18 Laquan McDonald: Chicago officer convicted of killing teen
A white police officer who killed a black teenager four years ago in Chicago has been found guilty of second-degree murder. Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, seconds after arriving on the scene, saying he feared for his life as the 17-year-old had a knife. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, but has been convicted of the lesser charge. Chicago was braced for protests. The 20 October 2014 shooting sparked outcry. Van Dyke was also found guilty on all 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm - one count per shot fired. The jury found him not guilty of official misconduct. His bail was revoked and he was taken into custody following the verdict. Van Dyke now faces a minimum of six years in prison and a maximum of over 15 years, with the possibility of probation. The jury of eight women and four men - one African-American, seven white, one Asian-American and three Hispanic - started deliberations on Thursday afternoon. Three other Chicago officers were charged last year with allegedly conspiring to cover up the fatal shooting, and they will be tried later this year. Mr Van Dyke was arrested in 2015 after dashcam footage appeared to show him fatally shooting Mr McDonald as he moved away from officers, contradicting official accounts. He was the first Chicago officer to be charged with first-degree murder since 1980. According to prosecutors, Mr McDonald was holding a knife with a 3in (7.6cm) blade when he was stopped by police. Police said he had slashed a tyre on a patrol car, resulting in a stand-off between the teenager and officers. Van Dyke was not among the first officers to arrive - the officer who reached the scene first told prosecutors he saw no need to use force on Mr McDonald. Prosecutors say Van Dyke proceeded to open fire on Mr McDonald less than six seconds after he exited his patrol car, and he was the only officer to use his weapon. (Webmaster's comment: Using any excuse to kill blacks was part of the job!)
10-5-18 Retail: Amazon’s $15 minimum wage
Amazon responded to a drumbeat of complaints this week by raising the pay of its U.S. workers to at least $15 an hour, said Laura Stevens in The Wall Street Journal. The increase, which will mean raises for more than 250,000 Amazon employees, including many warehouse workers, kicks in Nov. 1. Amazon’s “sheer size and market dominance” have made it a target of politicians on both right and left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders. “We listened to our critics,” said CEO Jeff Bezos. The move will create goodwill, but it also reflects a strong economy with low unemployment, which is driving businesses to hike wages. The Amazon raise will put pressure on the whole retail business, said Tonya Garcia in MarketWatch.com. Many retailers have raised salaries and offered bonuses in recent years as part of an effort to retain staff and lure new recruits, but few have reached the $15 an hour rate that “advocates deem a living wage.” Stocks of firms including Costco, Walmart, and Target went down over investor fears that higher labor costs could cut into profits. But boosting wages alone might not help Amazon hold on to employees: It has also been criticized for “grim working conditions” in its warehouses, where “the issues go beyond compensation.” (Webmaster's comment: Amazon will attract the best workers leaving the other companies with the leftovers.)
10-5-18 Brett Kavanaugh: First test vote due on Supreme Court nominee
The US Senate is preparing to take its first vote on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The vote - called "cloture" - is being seen a test of support for the embattled nominee who has faced sexual assault allegations from several women. All eyes are on four swing senators. Republicans have a 51-49 majority. Mr Kavanaugh's confirmation in the final vote on Saturday would tilt the country's top court in favour of conservatives for years to come. The nine-member panel has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules and justices are appointed for life. As the senate began its deliberations on Friday morning, the party divisions were laid bare in the opening remarks from representatives of both parties. Hundreds of protesters against Mr Kavanaugh were arrested in Washington, DC, on Thursday, including comedian Amy Schumer. The protest was on the day that the FBI delivered the report of its inquiry into the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), constituents have placed close to 40,000 calls to various senators, urging them to vote against the judge. (Webmaster's comment: If he wins there will be a big market for sterilized coat hangers!)
10-5-18 Brett Kavanaugh: Hundreds arrested in Supreme Court protest
Hundreds of protesters against US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been arrested in Washington, DC. Comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski were among 302 people held for demonstrating against the nominee. They protested after an FBI report which Republicans say exonerates him of sexual assault claims, with Democrats complaining it is too limited. The first test vote on the nominee is due in a few hours. The likelihood of Judge Kavanaugh winning a full Senate vote on Saturday appeared to increase after two Republicans whose backing will be essential gave a positive account of the FBI inquiry. But the confirmation is not a certainty, with several senators undecided and one at risk of missing a vote because he is attending his daughter's wedding. If confirmed to the lifetime position on America's highest court, the 53-year-old is expected to help conservatives dominate the nine-member panel, which has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules. (Webmaster's comment: Demonstrators arrested for simply protesting. One of the first signs of a Nazi state!)
10-5-18 'Why not?': Transgender candidate busts stereotypes in Brazil
At a women's volleyball game on a Monday night in São Paulo, the stands are packed and those in attendance are decidedly rooting for the away team. A large portion of the audience has come to see one of the away team's players in particular, Tifanny Abreu, the first transgender woman to play in Brazil's premier female volleyball league. She may also become Brazil's first transgender lawmaker in its national Congress. Under the campaign slogan "Why not?", she is running for the lower house in the general election on 7 October, defying those who think that a transgender woman cannot make it into the highest legislative body. "Tifanny you're my hero in life and in sports!" a teenage boy says as she leaned over the barrier and got cheek-to-cheek for a selfie. Ms Abreu says that she has gone through some "very tough moments" and suffered a lot of prejudice. "I don't want my nieces and nephews, or any young people in Brazil, to go through what I went through," she says of her motivation to run for Congress. "People like me need to occupy spaces in national politics in order to govern in LGBT people's interests and also to reverse the stigma about trans people." André Luiz Santos, a student from São Paulo, has come to see Ms Abreu play. "As a homosexual myself, Tifanny represents my causes, like criminalising homophobia. I never imagined I'd be able to vote for a transgender candidate," he says.
10-4-18 Trump has never paid a price for his misogyny. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins could change that.
These two GOP women hold a lot of power in the Kavanaugh vote. Let's not mince words: President Trump is aggressively, gleefully sexist. He demonstrates his disrespect and contempt for women — especially minority women — on a regular basis. And he's not going to stop, or even slow down, unless he's made to pay a price. But there's good news. Now that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has scheduled votes on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, women — two Republican women in particular — have in their grasp the power to make Trump finally pay. Let's set the scene first: Even by his usual misogynistic shock-jock standards, Trump was in rare form Tuesday night at a rally in Mississippi. He stunned even the usually supportive souls at Fox & Friends by taunting Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. As the crowd of supporters applauded and laughed, Trump made fun of Ford's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was a new low. On Wednesday, White House officials said Trump was "just stating facts" without mockery, but no one — even the president's Republican allies — was buying it. Even Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the judiciary committee, washed his hands of it. Here's where the Republican women come in. Two of them — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — hold Kavanaugh's fate in their hands. And they were upset by Trump's mocking of Ford. (Webmaster's comment: The male response to a rape. Attack the accuser! Defend the male!)
10-4-18 Anti-smoking ads traumatized me for life
Maybe we shouldn't be showing these terrifying ads to children. Like many people my age, I grew up on a diet of television that was definitely far scarier than I should have been watching at age, oh, 11. Are You Afraid of the Dark? Goosebumps. Courage the Cowardly Dog. But the most terrifying things on TV, by far, were the anti-smoking ads in between shows. Imagine the withered lungs of a smoker gasping on your television. Or what happens to blood when tobacco is inhaled. Or a more metaphorical horror — like a fish hook looped through a cheek, or a small demonic man yanking at a mouth. Whatever approach the ad took, it was bound to be deeply and weirdly and uniquely horrifying, and I could never jump to the remote to turn it off in time. There is ample evidence that scaring the daylight out of children and preteens (and adults) in this manner works. For one, I've never tried a cigarette. For another, the medical journal The Lancet discovered that a 2013 ad by the CDC might have ultimately caused some 100,000 Americans to give up smoking permanently. But setting aside the public good that comes from discouraging tobacco use, anti-smoking ads are all kinds of messed up. Sometime around 1997, when Rachael Leigh Cook famously destroyed a kitchen in the nightmare fodder that was "This is Your Brain on Drugs," a particularly effective aesthetic for public health announcements took off. Anti-smoking advertisements began to take cues from horror films, using unnatural or murky lighting, distorted sounds, and jarring or disgusting images to make a lasting impression, particularly on young viewers. Being one once myself, I can attest that whenever such an advert would come on after a cereal or Lego commercial, you couldn't help but stop, pay attention to the TV, and, disoriented, wonder, what is this…? (Webmaster's comment: Let's not expose our children to the ugly truth. Let a few of them die instead!)
10-3-18 Republicans deplore Trump mocking Brett Kavanaugh accuser
US President Donald Trump is facing criticism from fellow Republicans after he mocked a woman who says she was assaulted by his Supreme Court nominee. Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, both key votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, spoke out a day after Mr Trump's remarks at a Mississippi rally. Mr Flake called the president's comments "appalling", and Ms Collins said they were "just plain wrong". Last week Mr Trump called Christine Blasey Ford a "compelling" witness. Mr Flake - who joined a committee vote in favour of the judge so long as an FBI investigation was held - told NBC's Today show he wished the president had not spoken out. "There's no time and no place for remarks like that," he said on NBC's Today show. "To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It's just not right. I wish he hadn't had done it." Mr Flake of Arizona is a closely watched swing vote as Republicans can potentially only afford one defection if they are to confirm their nominee. Ms Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, has not yet said whether she will vote for Judge Kavanaugh either. CNN quoted her as saying on Wednesday morning: "The president's comments were just plain wrong." Prof Ford's lawyer, Michael Bromwich, described Mr Trump's words as "a vicious, vile and soulless attack" on her. "Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well?" he added. On Tuesday, Mr Flake said he was "very troubled" by the tenor of Judge Kavanaugh's "partisan" testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. (Webmaster's comment: She was sexually attacked and to protect the man the Republican nation attacks her!)
10-3-18 Finland school poster sparks migration row
A Finnish school has become embroiled in an argument with a nationalist MP, who accused it of "encouraging hatred" over an immigration-themed project. Laura Huhtasaari tweeted a photo of a school poster captioned "Finland or Death", featuring a migrant boat and prominent Finnish politicians. The poster has prompted a heated debate over whether it was appropriate for a social studies project. The MP's picture featured on the poster but so did the students' names too. The three 15-year-olds from Tampere in southern Finland designed the poster as part a city-wide event to highlight social issues. They chose immigration as their theme, depicting migrants in a cramped boat facing a choice of who to turn to. To the left of the boat, under the name "Suomeen" (to Finland), the students stuck photos of President Sauli Niinisto and Greens MP Pekka Haavisto, while Ms Huhtasaari and her party leader Jussi Halla-aho are displayed to the right of the boat under the caption "to Death". As the debate surrounding the poster intensified, a security guard was posted outside the school on Wednesday in response to the children's names and their school being made public, Finnish media reported. (Webmaster's comment: The students got it right, but the right-wing Finnish nationalists don't like the truth.)
10-2-18 US arrests four Charlottesville Unite the Right 'rioters'
Four men have been arrested and charged with inciting riots at last year's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, Thomas Gillen and Cole White are part of the southern California-based Rise Above Movement, described by prosecutors as a white supremacist group. The four travelled to the town to "commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot", the criminal complaint said. The trial could start by year's end. All four face up to a maximum of 10 years in prison if found guilty, according to authorities. The complaint said the men had previously attended rallies in Berkeley and Huntington Beach, where they are said to have attacked protesters. Authorities identified them through footage of violence against counter-demonstrators. US attorney Thomas Cullen said at a news conference the men were arrested in California and transported to Charlottesville. A joint effort by PBS television's Frontline programme and the ProPublica journalism group provided information helpful to the investigation, he said. The four men are being charged under federal laws on rioting, rather than hate crimes - although Mr Cullen said there could be further charges. Mr Cullen also said the men's own "extensive" social media use showed their actions at the rally, as well as in California beforehand. One person died and 19 others were injured in August 2017 when a car rammed a crowd of people opposing the far-right rally in Charlottesville. (Webmaster's comment: These men have deliberately chosen to physically hurt innocent people. 10 years is not enough!)
10-2-18 US ends diplomatic visas for UN same-sex partners
The US has announced it will deny diplomatic visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees. The change went into effect on Monday, giving partners currently in the US until 31 December to leave, get married or otherwise change their visa. This rule has applied to heterosexual domestic partners since 2009. Currently, 25 countries have recognised same-sex marriage. Homosexuality remains illegal in 71 countries. The new Trump administration policy update was circulated in a United Nations (UN) memo. The memo states: "As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status." G-4 visas are granted to employees of international organisations and their immediate families. According to the State Department, "only a relationship legally considered to be a marriage in the jurisdiction where it took place establishes eligibility as a spouse for immigration purposes". In a 12 July note to the UN, the US Mission to the UN lauded the change as a step towards equality, saying "same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", US media report. But critics have called the move unfair to homosexual partners, given a large number of countries do not recognise same-sex marriage. Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power decried the policy, calling it "needlessly cruel and bigoted". (Webmaster's comment: Vice-President Pence is behind this. By law he wants to strap all gays down and use electroshock to cure their being gay!)
10-2-18 How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online
Low-cost smartphones and cheap mobile data mean Indians are now hungrily consuming content over the small screen. And this is opening up a new world of creative freedom for the country's entertainment industry. Film director Krishna Bhatt says the internet has given her "the power to show exactly the story I want to tell". She has made two web-based shows. One of them, Maaya 2, centres around a lesbian love story - a subject that would have been very difficult to get into cinemas or on television in India. "To show lovemaking in a theatre I will have to go through 10,000 censor rules," says Ms Bhatt. "My kisses will get cut based on very stupid things. You're not allowed to show something like that even on TV." While films and television series are governed by strict censorship rules in India, web-based shows have been largely unregulated - so far at least. "If you can give everything you want to give without anybody breathing down your neck, it's like a new sense of freedom, it's like independence," says Ms Bhatt. "That's what digital does for you." Indian prime-time TV is largely dominated by family dramas that often go on for years, featuring thousands of episodes. This not only limits opportunities for other shows to get on air, but also restricts the kind of stories that can be told. So actors, writers and directors are enjoying new-found freedoms that online gives them.
10-2-18 Girl’s racist poem sparks row in southwestern Germany
A poetry competition has been hit by controversy after the daughter of a far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician took part. Fourteen-year-old Ida Marie Müller, daughter of Nicole Höchst, performed a poem widely condemned as racist in front of an audience of 100 spectators in Speyer, southwestern Germany. The poem included a reference to a stabbing carried out by an immigrant. Despite receiving the loudest applause, organisers disqualified the girl. AfD is an anti-immigration party that entered parliament in Germany for the first time in 2017, winning 12.6% of the vote and more than 90 seats. The competition was part of an anti-racism initiative for teenagers hosted by the Speyer Youth Council, reports the Junge Freiheit newspaper. (Webmaster's comment: Immigrant hatred is spreading through all our cultures!)
10-1-18 President Trump and the evangelical lust for power
Why do the religiously devout so readily kneel before this profane charlatan?. "I was raised in an evangelical congregation, and today still consider myself a Christian," says filmmaker Christopher Alan Maloney in the opening sequence of In God We Trump. "But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't imagine my Sunday School teacher or youth pastor casting their vote" for someone like President Trump. I could say the same, except I have actively avoided wondering how some of those beloved figures from my childhood voted in 2016. It is one thing to hear that infamous statistic, that 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted backed Trump, and to consider it from the broad, socio-theological view of analysis. It is another thing entirely to confront the possibility that the people who shaped your own ethics, not by their words alone but by their very lives, could have discarded that example at the ballot box. For many current and former evangelicals, this enthusiasm for Trump has been an apocalypse — literally, a revealing. It has fostered disillusionment and a low hum of grief. "The inner conflict I can never quite reconcile these days," mused author D.L. Mayfield on Twitter, is how "a community now revealed to be obsessed with power introduced me to Jesus, the one who willingly lays down his life and pursues the poor, the sick, and the oppressed." If I have escaped much of this conflict, it is only because previously established distance — theological, political, geographic — chanced to put me farther from the bomb when it went off. And so the question Maloney’s documentary explores — how and why American evangelicals could so enthusiastically back a politician who incarnates the ethical failings they decry — is a nagging one. It has been endlessly examined since the election, and this cottage industry has yet to show signs of dying off. This new contribution to the conversation meditates in synecdoche, hearing as much from experts as from ordinary people, former evangelicals still shell-shocked over how their people helped President Trump win.
10-1-18 Thought police: Spotting cyber criminals before they break the law
Hackers regularly purchase malware online for carrying out cyber-attacks, but a new system could automatically spot those considering doing so before they do it. The internet can seem a lawless place. But a new technique for automatically identifying potential cybercriminals could help police intervene before people do something illegal. Big cyberattacks like the NotPetya ransomware that hit countries around the world in 2017 grab the headlines. But cybercrime is a constant problem, with many smaller attacks carried out by people with little technical know-how using malware traded online. Building and selling these cyberweapons has become an easy money-spinner for criminal organisations. The perceived lack of policing online and the ease with which malware can be downloaded mean that the use of hacking tools that let you carry out cyber attacks is now spreading even among school children, according to at least one study. Alice Hutchings, Sergio Pastrana and their colleagues at the University of Cambridge want to identify individuals who may be thinking of buying such malicious software and intervene to stop them from doing something they may regret. (Webmaster's comment: Only stop them after they start breaking the law and THEN MAKE THEM REGRET IT. Only that way they will learn to not do it again! These little punks need a lesson they will not forget!)