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

36 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for November 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source


11-16-18 If we really wanted our citizens to vote
Other countries have election turnouts of 90 percent. We could, too. For a nation that prides itself on our pioneering role in democratic self-rule, we are not very good at elections. More than a week after the midterms, we still do not know who won several disputed House, Senate, and gubernatorial races. In this election, nearly half the eligible voters — about 115 million people — cast ballots, which is the highest-percentage turnout for a midterm since 1914. For this surge in enthusiasm, we can, of course, thank President Trump, who is demonstrating even to disengaged citizens why politics matters. But compared with most Western democracies, a 49 percent turnout is pathetic. Based on the 2016 presidential election, we rank 26th out of 32 developed democratic nations in turnout. Belgium had an 87 percent turnout in its last election; Sweden, 83 percent; Australia, 79 percent. Why the huge disparity? Those democracies actively encourage citizens to vote, rather than putting myriad obstacles in their path. If we truly wanted 80 percent turnout in the U.S., it wouldn't be hard. Democracies with high rates of participation automatically register all citizens to vote. In the U.S., more than 50 million of our citizens — about 1 in 4 — haven't registered and weren't eligible to cast ballots on Election Day. Countries that believe in democracy don't hold elections on Tuesday, when most people are working; they cast ballots on Saturday or Sunday, or make Election Day a national holiday. Curiously enough, some Americans contend that we are better off if certain citizens do not participate in our democracy. Thomas Paine, a Founding Father and revolutionary advocate of self-rule, would disagree. "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all others are protected," Paine wrote. People who can't vote, he said, are like "slaves," whose fate is determined by others. If we want to call ourselves a democracy, we can and should do better.

11-15-18 Why is Canada running out of marijuana?
Cannabis retailers in Canada began to run low on supplies from the very first day of legalisation a month ago. How long are shortages expected to continue as the new market for recreational cannabis finds its feet?. In the early days of legalisation, James Burns was confident his company had enough product on the shelves of its five new cannabis retail stores, even though they only received half of their order from the provincial supplier. Now, he has had staff refreshing the government supply website in the early hours to snap up scarce new stock as soon as it's available, and is considering restricting store hours. "While there was product to order we were very comfortably getting a large amount of it," says Burns, the CEO of Alcanna, a company that owns a chain of private liquor stores in Canada and the US and, now, cannabis stores in the province of Alberta. "But obviously, when there's literally none there, it doesn't matter how big you are, there's just none there. If the government warehouse is empty, it's empty. There's nothing you can do." Since the first day recreational cannabis was legalised in Canada, there have been shortages. Newfoundland's Thomas Clarke was one of the very first retailers to sell the drug legally in Canada at the stroke of midnight on 17 October. He says he sold out that day and was out-of-stock for nearly a week. Clarke has since been able to get product onto shelves but says he can't order exactly what he needs from the provincial supplier. "They're dictating to me numbers and quantities and products that they have to send me, so I definitely don't get to get everything I want," he says. "But I've had just enough to not run out."

11-15-18 National Book Awards: Isabel Allende warns of 'dark time'
Chilean writer Isabel Allende has warned that "the values and principles that sustain our civilisation are under siege". Speaking at the National Book Awards, the author of The House of the Spirits spoke out about the rise of "nationalism and racism" in politics. She was handed a lifetime achievement prize at the ceremony in New York. "This is a dark time, my friends," Allende said during her acceptance speech. "A time of nationalism and racism; of cruelty and fanaticism. A time when the values and principles that sustain our civilisation are under siege. "It's a time of violence and poverty for many; masses of people, who are forced to leave everything that is familiar to them and undertake dangerous journeys to save their lives." Allende was born in Chile, but spent 13 years living as a political refugee in Venezuela before moving to the United States. In 1982 she published her debut novel, The House of the Spirits, which brought her literary acclaim. She dedicated her award to the "millions of people like myself who have come to this country in search of a new life."

11-15-18 Denmark withholds aid to Tanzania after anti-gay comments
Denmark is withholding 65m krone (£7.5m; $9.8m) in aid to Tanzania after "unacceptable homophobic comments" from a senior politician, a minister says. Development minister Ulla Tornaes did not name the official but said she was "very concerned" by the comments. Last month, Paul Makonda, commissioner for the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, called on the public to report suspected gay men to the police. He said he would set up a surveillance squad to track down gay people. The government said at the time that Mr Makonda was expressing his personal opinion, not government policy. Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Correspondents say statements against gay people have increased since President John Magufuli's election in 2015. In 2017, the country's deputy health minister defended a threat to publish a list of gay people. "I am very concerned about the negative development in Tanzania. Most recently the totally unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner," Ms Tornaes said on Twitter. "I have therefore decided to withhold DKK 65m in the country. Respect for human rights is crucial for Denmark." Denmark is Tanzania's second biggest aid donor. Ms Tornaes has also postponed a planned trip to the east African country, Danish broadcaster DR reported. Mr Makonda - a staunch ally of the president - said last month that he expected international criticism for his stance, but added: "I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God." (Webmaster's comment: He is just as sick as our Vice-President Pence.)

11-14-18 Migrant caravan: Hundreds reach Tijuana on US border
Hundreds of Central American migrants travelling through Mexico to seek asylum in the US have reached the Mexican border city of Tijuana. The group of 400, who include LGBTQ migrants, broke away from the larger caravan of 5,000 people in Mexico City. US Defence Secretary James Mattis said he would go to the US-Mexico border on Wednesday, his first visit since thousands of troops were deployed. Larger groups are expected to arrive at the border in the coming days. The 5,000 migrants, who say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, have largely been making their journey on foot. The splinter group, which reached Tijuana on Tuesday, did so aboard a fleet of buses. They joined a smaller group of about 80 migrants who reached the border city on Sunday. Many of the smaller group are LGBTQ, media reported, who say they parted ways with the main caravan after weeks of what they call discriminatory treatment by local residents and fellow travellers. Undeterred by a harder US stance against them, the migrants have said they will continue the journey so that they can claim asylum. The journey began from the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras on 13 October - which means some will have walked abut 4,800km (2,983 miles). Because the route poses a host of dangers, such as attack by criminal gangs, many of the migrants say they feel safer travelling in numbers. Most previous migrant caravans have numbered a few hundred people, but after a former politician shared news of the planned caravan on Facebook, news of it quickly spread. More than 1,000 Hondurans were the first to leave, and thousands more people have joined them from neighbouring Guatemala and then Mexico. (Webmaster's comment: Trump would like to gun them all down and many white supremacists, nationalists, conservatives and republicans would cheer him on! Just wait and see what they all say publicly!)

11-13-18 FBI: Spike in US hate crimes for third year in a row
Hate crimes in the US rose by 17% in 2017, the third straight year that incidents of bias-motivated attacks have grown, according to the FBI. Law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes last year compared with 6,121 in 2016. The rise in hate crimes is attributed to an increase of about 1,000 police departments that are now choosing to report these incidents, the FBI says. The report found the surge especially affected black and Jewish Americans. Of the reported attacks in 2017, 2,013 were aimed at African Americans and 938 were against Jewish Americans. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker called the report a "call to action" and condemned the offences as "despicable violations of our core values as Americans". According to the report, 59.6% of incidents were motivated by bias against race, ethnicity or ancestry. Crimes motivated by a victim's religion constituted 20.6% of attacks, and crimes against a person's sexual orientation made up 15.8%. The FBI definition of a hate crime is a "criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity". The 2017 data notes that about 5,000 of the crimes were directed against people through intimidation or assault. Around 3,000 were targeted at property, which includes vandalism or burglary. Crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs were not counted prior to 2015. Crimes against Jewish Americans saw a notable increase of 37% over 2016. Jews have long been the highest targeted religion, as the acting attorney general noted in his statement. The new report comes a month after 11 Jews were killed by a gunman that burst into their synagogue in Pittsburgh as they prayed, marking the deadliest attack against Jews in US history. The suspect was charged with dozens of federal hate crimes. Crimes against African Americans constituted 2,013 crimes, marking a 16% increase over the previous year. Muslim individuals were the target of 18.7% of religiously motivated hate crimes, which was a drop of 6% from 2016.

11-13-18 China may have developed a quantum radar that can spot stealth planes
A company claims to have created a quantum radar that can detect stealth aircraft and see through the radar jamming used to hide warplanes. Defence giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation displayed the prototype at the Zhuhai air show last week. Stealth aircraft avoid detection by redirecting most of a radar system’s radio waves, which usually reflect off their surface and reveal their location. In theory, a quantum radar can overcome this by using two streams of entangled photons. These are pairs of photons that have a weird connection so a change to one affects the other, even if they are miles apart. The first photon stream is sent out, like a standard radar beam, and bounces off objects in the sky. The second stream remains inside the system. Because the photons are entangled, the returning photons can be matched with those in the stay-at-home stream, so all background noise can be filtered out. This includes deliberate interference, such as radar jamming or spoofing signals put out to confuse radar. What is left is a clear image of the target, with no extraneous signal. “Without being able to take the lid off what has been shown here, we can’t be sure if this is an elaborate hoax,” says Alan Woodward at the University of Surrey, UK. But China has form with quantum technology, having surprised the world with the speed at which it developed the first quantum satellite communications. If the quantum radar is real, it would be the first of its kind. This technology would significantly reduce the ability of stealth aircraft, such as some bombers, to remain undetected, says Justin Bronk at UK defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute. Although not necessarily grounding operations, it could make them more dangerous. (Webmaster's comment: So much for American military technological superiority!)

11-13-18 CNN sue Trump over Jim Acosta's credential suspension
CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration after the White House suspended the credentials of one of its senior journalists. Its chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, had his press "hard pass" revoked last week hours after he got into a testy exchange with Mr Trump. The network alleges this violates its and Acosta's constitutional rights. The lawsuit, filed in Washington DC on Tuesday, names the president and other senior aides as defendants. Among those named is Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who cited unacceptable conduct for the revocation of Acosta's pass. In a Twitter thread after the incident, Ms Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job" - referring to a White House intern who had tried to get the microphone away from him during a news conference. Acosta strongly denied any wrongdoing, labelling the White House's accusation "a lie". The press secretary later shared a zoomed in clip of the incident, which experts have suggested was doctored to alter its speed. In the aftermath, the White House Correspondents' Association, which represents the press corps at the presidential residence, urged the administration to reverse the decision. "We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process," CNN said in a statement. "While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials." (Webmaster's comment: Press censorship by our aspiring dictator!)

11-13-18 Somalia journalists risk their lives to report the truth
Journalists in Somalia face a constant battle with misinformation and propaganda. But, unlike in many other parts of the world, they often pay with their lives for their commitment to seeking the truth. (Webmaster's comment: Coming here to the United States soon!)

11-13-18 Wisconsin school students' Nazi salute photo provokes uproar
A photo of mostly white US students laughing as they make a Nazi salute has triggered outrage. More than 50 boys from Baraboo High School in Wisconsin were pictured making the "Sieg Heil" gesture. The school district and local police have launched an investigation into the image, which was reportedly snapped before a junior prom. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum condemned the photo. One of the boys in the picture made an OK sign with his thumb and forefinger, a gesture that has been adopted by white power groups. An anonymous Twitter account reportedly run by students at the school shared the photo, saying: "We even got the black kid to throw it up." One non-white student appears in the picture, though he is partly obscured. Some of the teenagers in the photo, which the BBC is not using because of concerns about the boys' ages, did not make any gesture. One of the students, Jordan Blue, told CBS News why he refused to participate in the salute. "It did not represent my morals, and I could not do something that I didn't believe in," the teenager said. (Webmaster's comment: One more small step towards a Fascist state! Check Out - Fascism: A Warning, By Madeleine Albright)

11-12-18 Outcry after police shoot African-American security guard 'hero'
An armed security guard at a bar in suburban Chicago was killed by police as he detained a suspected gunman, according to officials and witnesses. After gunfire erupted around 04:00 local time on Sunday, Jemel Roberson, 26, chased down an attacker and knelt on his back until police arrived. Moments after police came on the scene, an officer opened fire on Roberson, who was black, killing him. Friends say Roberson was a musician who had dreams of joining the police. "The very people that he wanted to be family with took his life," Patricia Hill, the pastor of Purposed Hill church in Chicago, told WGN-TV. Roberson worked as a gospel musician at several nearby churches, and also had found work at Manny's Blue Room in Robbins, Illinois, where the shooting occurred. Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's office, said police were called to the scene after a fight broke out in the bar and four people were shot. Witness Adam Harris told Fox32 that Roberson, who was armed with a legally owned firearm, then chased down and caught one of the attackers. "The security guard that got killed, he caught somebody and had his knee on him the whole time," Mr Harris said. "Just waiting on the police to get there. I guess when the police got there, they probably thought he was one of the bad guys, cause he had his gun on the guy and they shot him." "Everybody was screaming out 'security, he was a security guard'", Mr Harris added, "and they still did their job and saw a black man with a gun and basically killed him". "He was protecting the club and holding a suspect down," Mr Harris told CBS. (Webmaster's comment: Our police seem to have a blood lust for killing blacks given any excuse. They'll be justifying killing this one!)

11-12-18 #ThisIsOurLane: Doctors hit back at pro-gun group NRA
When America's powerful pro-gun group told doctors to mind their own business, the response was swift, furious and viral. "Unless you've had someone's heart stop beating in your hands, you don't get to tell those of us who have what is and is not our 'lane'," trauma surgeon David Morris, 42, told the BBC. The National Rifle Association's tweet on Wednesday sparked anger. It came just hours before a gunman killed 12 people in a California bar. "Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane," the NRA tweeted. The personal stories and blood-splattered photos posted on social media in response by doctors and surgeons were shared hundreds and thousands of times, fuelling another debate about the reality of gun violence in the US. Dr Morris was one of many using Twitter to hit back at the NRA, joining 70,000 others using the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane. "People need to see the reality of what we deal with. Too often, we get stuck on the same old philosophical arguments about gun violence," Dr Morris, who is based in Utah, explained to the BBC. Guns send 8,300 children to hospital each year in the US, the majority of whom die, while the number of violent gun deaths in America is greater than the Middle East, once armed conflict-related casualties are factored out. He was deliberately vague about the details behind the photograph of his bloodied scrubs "because it is representative of countless times that this has happened to me and every other person who works in trauma". Doctors like him are not anti-gun or anti-NRA, he suggests. "We are anti-violence. Violence is the real problem; guns are simply a vector. What we hope for is the opportunity to study the problem and apply sound scientific methodology to making things better."

11-12-18 Trump's asylum order is a dastardly assault on the rule of law
This isn't just a moral abomination. It's an attack on the law the president swore to uphold. President Trump's last-minute fearmongering campaign against the Central American migrant caravan may have fired up his base, but it failed to win swing voters. And his despicable ad depicting these helpless people fleeing violence in their own countries as an invading horde full of "cop killers" badly backfired. Republicans who embraced this message fared poorly at the polls. But instead of backing off, the president is doubling down on his plan to gut the nation's asylum laws. This is almost certainly a lawless and unprecedented use of his executive powers. Nonetheless, he has just issued a presidential proclamation that will pretty much suspend America's asylum program as we know it. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act allowed anyone — regardless of whether they entered the country legally or illegally — to request asylum upon arrival. But as part of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy," over the summer it started slapping asylum seekers found entering between ports of entry rather than actual ports as required with criminal charges. However, that did not affect their asylum petition. They could be fined or punished for trying to enter the country illegally. But if they could convince border agents that they had a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries, they were still entitled to a hearing by a judge who would make the final call on whether they could stay. But Trump apparently wasn't content with simply criminalizing asylum seekers for minor transgressions. He wants to turn them away by any means necessary. The president is pretending that the approaching caravan is some kind of national emergency that gives him the power to issue a proclamation — effective immediately without going through the usual notice and comment period that normal regulations require — that'll basically bar anyone found trying to enter between ports from even applying for asylum, much like criminals and terrorists are currently barred. Instead, they would be put in "withholding" proceedings where they could petition to stay in America temporarily but, unlike asylum seekers, wouldn't be able to obtain green cards. And to even get this mercy, they would have to meet a higher bar and prove a "reasonable" (not just a "credible") fear of persecution or violence in their native countries. All of this is an elaborate ruse to subvert existing laws and strip asylum seekers of the rights and privileges that a duly elected Congress extended to them. And the notion that asylum seekers are flocking to the United States in such overwhelming numbers that they represent a national emergency justifying a presidential proclamation is total BS that should trouble all "rule of law" conservatives. Trump has hyped the 7,000-strong caravan. But if past experience is any indication, a very small fraction of these people will actually even reach the U.S. border. Indeed, Mexico has already offered asylum to some 2,000 and many more are simply quitting because the long journey is too difficult for kids and families. More to the point, these people have formed a caravan not to storm the United States but to avoid being harassed by drug cartels looking for mules.

11-12-18 Medical cannabis: Death sentence prompts Malaysia to re-think harsh laws
A death sentence given to a young man selling cannabis oil to the ill has stirred debate in Muslim-majority Malaysia about its ultra-tough drug laws. The case has prompted calls for the country to become the first in Asia to legalise medical marijuana - but long-held stigma and a mostly conservative population means change could come slowly. Yuki describes smoking her first joint as a turning point in her life. She is willing to risk being thrown in jail rather than give up a drug that she says has worked for her unlike any other. She first turned to what Malaysians call ganja at 29, after a frustrated Google search in pursuit of something that might help ease chronic, crippling pain from hypokalaemia - or low blood potassium. Beleaguered by a litany of health problems, including diabetes, she decided to try the drug. It was the early 2000s and public discussion of medical cannabis use was non-existent in Malaysia, a country with some of the world's harshest drug laws. Cultivating a single cannabis plant at home can land you in prison for natural life, while possession of more than 200g is almost certain to result in a death sentence. But Yuki, now 41, was desperate to try it. She bought some marijuana and asked her husband to roll her a joint. "All the pain was gone so finally I could sleep, I slept like a baby," she said. When she woke up the next morning, she felt her appetite coming back and devoured a meal of curry and rice. She then smoked another joint, and for the first time in a long time, felt up to doing house chores. "I had two growing kids at that time, one was nine years old, the other was 11. The two of them needed my attention but I could not give it to them because I was so sick," she said. After years of using opiates to deal with pain caused by her various medical problems, she felt liberated. More than a decade later, and after several arrests - including one episode in which her entire family, including the children, were held in a jail cell - Yuki has put herself at the forefront of a campaign to reform Malaysia's drug laws. She says she's not scared - for her "it's either cannabis or die".

11-11-18 Meet the women trying to break the Vatican glass ceiling
"Who are we to put limnits on God?". The role of women in the Catholic Church is being reassessed after a Synod held in October launched new proposals for churches and diocese across the world. But women weren't allowed to vote in this Synod, and some are now not just asking for votes – they’re asking for shared ministry, or women’s ordination.

11-9-18 Biblical Basis for War, Obey Biblical Law
A Washington state lawmaker has circulated a memo calling for the U.S. to become a Christian theocracy in which nonbelievers are killed. Republican Rep. Matt Shea’s memo, “Biblical Basis for War,” envisions a Christian army seizing territory and killing “all males” in areas that refuse to “obey Biblical law.” Shea blamed the “counter-state” for revealing his plans; the local sheriff sent the memo to the FBI. (Webmaster's comment: Beyond Belief!)

11-9-18 Watch Out for Catholic Bishops
More than 130 Catholic bishops in the U.S. have been accused of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their diocese during their careers, nearly a third of American bishops. Of those, at least 15 have been accused of committing abuse themselves.

11-9-18 Driven by anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-government, or racist ideologies
White supremacists and other members of far-right movements were responsible for 71 percent of extremist-related deaths in the United States between 2008 and 2017; Islamic extremists were responsible for 26 percent. The number of terrorist incidents in the U.S. has tripled since 2013, with most of them being driven by anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-government, or racist ideologies.

11-9-18 Make America Great Again
We are better than this! Fourteen employees of an Idaho elementary school have been suspended for wearing Halloween costumes that depicted stereotypical Mexicans facing a border wall. Some of the teachers and staff wore sombreros, ponchos, and fake moustaches while others dressed as segments of a wall marked with the slogan “Make America Great Again.” “We are better than this,” said the district superintendent.

11-9-18 Birthright citizenship: Can Trump eliminate it?
President Trump thinks he can change one of the most fundamental parts of our Constitution “with the stroke of a pen,” said Garrett Epps in TheAtlantic.com. American citizenship has been the birthright of everyone born in the United States since the 14th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War. But as part of his anti-immigrant crusade, President Trump is now threatening to sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship for anyone whose parents are not citizens. An authoritarian order of that kind would leave millions of people born here in legal limbo. The Constitution plainly states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are American citizens. Nevertheless, the idea “has crawled slowly from the fever swamps of the far right into the center of our discourse.” Trump’s argument may be radical, said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com, but “he is the president” and “his words have weight.” Just by putting birthright citizenship on the table, Trump has emboldened some Republicans to echo him; a conservative Supreme Court tilted by Trump appointees might decide to revisit the issue. Even from a conservative perspective, however, said Lyman Stone in TheFederalist.com, ending birthright citizenship would be a mistake. “If you think it’s hard to assimilate immigrants now,” imagine a permanent underclass of millions of people born in America with no legal rights, no allegiance to this country, and no country to return to. They’d resent and despise the U.S. for turning them into stateless nonpersons. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”

11-9-18 The border: Why Trump called in the troops
Let’s all take a step back and think about the “vertiginous absurdity” of this moment, said David Roberts in Vox.com. President Trump has deployed more than 5,000 U.S. troops on American soil at the Mexican border, in an attempt to drum up hysteria over a caravan of 4,000 Central American migrants who are fleeing drug-gang violence and poverty. U.S. troops can’t be used for domestic law enforcement, so they will have no contact with the migrants; instead, the Pentagon says, they’ll be providing logistical “support” for the U.S. Border Patrol, such as maintenance work. Nevertheless, Trump says that he could ultimately send as many as 15,000 troops, which would be more than the number of Americans stationed in Afghanistan. The caravan, still weeks away from reaching the border, has shrunk from 7,000 to 4,000 people, and continues to dwindle. Those who make it here plan to legally apply for asylum. “Where is the emergency?” This may be “reality television for Trump,” said Rex Huppke in the Chicago Tribune. “But it’s real life for the soldiers.” Every military operation entails hardship and risk. “Vehicles crash. Soldiers get injured operating heavy machinery. There’s psychological distress, illness, and heat exhaustion.” Over a recent 12-year period, nearly 4,600 active-duty personnel were killed in accidents. Soldiers and their families bravely accept these risks, but the commander in chief should not to ask them to sacrifice for no reason. Instead, Trump is “treating men and women who have volunteered to fight and die for this country like toy soldiers.”

11-9-18 Hotel chain settles ICE case
Motel 6 agreed this week to pay $8.9 million to settle a lawsuit accusing hotel employees of providing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with the private information of Latino guests. The hotel agreed to not share guests’ personal information without a warrant, subpoena, or threat of a “significant crime.” Last year, the Phoenix New Times reported that ICE made at least 20 arrests at Motel 6 locations on tips from employees. According to the suit brought by eight guests, one plaintiff was detained for over a month after being arrested outside a Motel 6. In the settlement, Motel 6 will pay up to $5.6 million to guests placed in immigration removal proceedings, up to $1 million for those interrogated, and up to $1 million for those whose information was shared, as well as plaintiffs’ legal fees. (Webmaster's comment: The attack on immigrants continues!)

11-9-18 Census count on trial
A highly anticipated trial began this week concerning the Trump administration’s planned citizenship question on the 2020 census. The plaintiffs, a collection of states and cities, along with immigration advocacy groups, argue the question is designed to depress census responses among immigrants. Cities including New York and Philadelphia argue it would cost them congressional seats and billions in federal funding. An expert for the plaintiffs cited census data predicting 5 to 12 percent of noncitizen households would not participate if asked about citizenship. The Trump administration had said that the Justice Department suggested the change to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But on the eve of trial, plaintiffs released the deposition of a former assistant attorney general saying that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is close to Trump, insisted that the question be added. (Webmaster's comment: The attack on immigrants continues!)

11-9-18 In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family
Every town seems to have a family like the Bogles—and maybe that should tell us something, said Alice Lloyd in The Weekly Standard. In Fox Butterfield’s perversely pleasurable new book about the sources of criminal behavior, a Texas-born con artist named Elvie Bogle and her sons and grandsons provide “almost abusively vivid” evidence that certain families breed lawbreakers. Butterfield eventually identified 60 convicts in the Bogle family tree, and he gained the confidence of enough of them to be able to share their favorite tales about swindles, robberies, car thefts, and kidnappings—even a heist of salmon from a fish hatchery. The Bogles aren’t simply colorful outliers, though. Butterfield cites studies indicating that 5 percent of all families account for perhaps half of all crimes, and 10 percent for two-thirds. But identifying a cycle of criminality is one thing; “the questions get thicker when it comes to how to stop it,” said Eric Spitznagel in the New York Post. Should criminals have their children taken away, as has been done in Italy? Or what about simply providing incentives to released prisoners to encourage them to move away from home and attempt fresh starts elsewhere? Though Butterfield doesn’t have all the answers, “he has found a seam in an uncrackable problem,” said Philip Martin in the Little Rock, Ark., Democrat-Gazette. And he ends with “a note of uplift”: the story of a granddaughter of Rooster’s who, thanks in part to parents who shielded her from contact with her extended family, became not long ago the first Bogle to earn a college degree.

11-9-18 A ban on ‘sexual health’
The State Department is considering a proposal that would bar U.S. diplomats from using the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexual education,” reported Politico.com. Those terms have been used for years in domestic and international government communications but would be replaced under this proposal by phrases such as “reproduction and the related health services.” Several social conservatives at State and other agencies are reportedly pushing the change. The ban could impair relations with the U.N. and complicate funding requests from groups focused on women’s reproductive rights. The State Department has already removed mentions of access to contraception and abortion from human rights reports.

11-9-18 Big Pharma keeps ripping you off
“I have type 1 diabetes. Without insulin, I will die,” said David Lazarus. “You could charge me whatever you like. If I have the money, I’ll pay it.” That, in a nutshell, is the problem with the drug industry. We’re the only developed country that has no system to ensure drug prices are reasonable, and leaves patients to fend for themselves. Pfizer said in July that it would reconsider its strategy of regular price increases as a “goodwill gesture” while the president rolled out a plan to cut drug costs. Four months later, the Trump pharma plan is still wishful thinking. And Pfizer has seen an increase in quarterly profit of 45 percent. “These guys are rolling in cash.” And what about that promise of limiting price increases? Pfizer’s CEO, Ian Read, says that come January, it will be “business as normal.” Meaning that “Pfizer will once again reach as deeply as possible into people’s pockets.” While the industry refuses to give desperate customers a break, it has poured more than $216 million into lobbying this year. So it’s hard to imagine Congress passing legislation that would cut into drug makers’ profits. And the industry knows that Trump’s talk about drug prices is all bark and no bite. Pfizer and other drug companies plan to keep gouging sick people, and they don’t care what anybody thinks of that.

11-9-18 Next to legalize weed?
Mexico’s Supreme Court effectively overturned the country’s ban on recreational marijuana use last week, calling it unconstitutional in a pair of rulings. The high court ruled that pot prohibition violates adults’ fundamental right to personal development, which lets them decide which recreational activities to pursue, and that it isn’t justified by marijuana’s effects. Similar judgments were reached in three other cases from 2015 to 2017, and under Mexican law five decisions on a related subject set a binding precedent. Marijuana technically remains illegal in Mexico, but the rulings mean users are unlikely to be prosecuted. It’s now up to the Mexican Congress to rework the law to comply with the court; it could aim for full-scale legalization or legalize possession of weed but not sales.

11-9-18 The fear we all live with
"No one is safe in America." I've thought about it in movie theaters and in bars, at concerts and in airports. I've thought about it in my office, at baseball games, and when I walk past schools and places of worship. I've thought about it in restaurants, at yoga, and in the crowded second-story cafeteria where I went to vote on Tuesday. I think about it even when I am not consciously thinking about it — the way I instinctively look for an exit in a room, the way I get nervous when pressed in a crowd. This week, it happened on a Wednesday. Eleven people at a college bar in Thousand Oaks, California, were killed by a gunman armed with a legally purchased Glock 21; a responding officer, who had planned to retire next year, was also shot dead. Twelve days earlier, a man opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people attending an infant's bris. Ten months earlier, 17 people, many as young as 14, were killed at their school Thirteen months earlier, 59 people were killed at an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas. Nothing has been done to prevent these mass shootings from continuing. And at this point, it feels fair to expect that nothing will be done. America has decided that gun violence on a previously unheard of scale is a side effect of the freedoms that come with living in this country — never mind that such events are unheard of in any other developed nation. What this has done to our collective psyche is already astonishing: mass shootings, which no one should ever have to worry about, are on Americans' minds frequently, sometimes daily. There is still an impossibly small chance of dying in a mass shooting, but that chance is not zero. It is still more likely than dying in a tornado, from a heat wave or a rattlesnake bite, or from being hit by a bus. While the overarching category of gun violence is far more of an epidemic than mass shootings specifically, the latter still happen at a rate where we now have an unimaginable new distinction: "two-time mass shooting survivors." In Thousand Oaks, several of the people at the bar during the shooting had already survived the attack in Las Vegas. "There's people that live a whole lifetime without seeing this, and then there's people that have seen it twice," Chandler Gunn, who had friends in the bar, told The Daily Beast. The fear we all live with is very real. There is no logic to where mass shootings happen. Thousand Oaks is considered one of the "safest cities" in America; Parkland, Florida, was also an "affluent" neighborhood. "[D]ay-to-day statistics can't neatly forecast mass shootings, which are seemingly random and can happen anywhere," writes The Atlantic, adding to the pervasive fear that it could be here next. This terror is shaping our psyche. The anxiety of being in a "random mass shooting" is Americans' fastest growing fear, jumping from a concern held by 16 percent of adults in 2015 to one held by 42 percent in 2018 (the study was taken in June 2018, before the Pittsburgh or Thousand Oaks shootings). In a survey of 5,000 readers in 2015, The New York Times reported that Americans already thought about shootings frequently, and even went over scenarios of how they would respond in their heads: "I would say I think about the possibility of a shooting in my life regularly," said a 15-year-old high school student in Oregon. A 23-year-old told the paper: "I work in San Francisco and the thought comes up every single time I'm on the bus or train." A 68-year-old in Nashville said she felt particularly vulnerable at church: "I want to be ready to run when I hear the first shot," she said, adding, "No one is safe in America."

11-9-18 US proposes rule banning asylum for illegal migrants
Migrants who cross the southern US border illegally will temporarily be denied asylum under a new rule, US President Donald Trump has said. Mr Trump has signed a proclamation barring migrants who enter illegally from asylum for up to 90 days. The president can stop migration in the "national interest", a statement said. Rights groups have called the move "illegal." Immigration was a major focus in Mr Trump's mid-term election campaign. The proclamation, which goes into effect on Saturday, triggers regulations adopted by immigration officials on Thursday. "I just signed the proclamation on asylum - very important," the president told reporters on Friday before leaving for Paris. "People can come in but they have to come in through the points of entry." Before the mid-terms, President Trump frequently denounced a caravan of thousands of Central Americans making their way north through Mexico. He ordered troops to the border and declared the migrants to be an "invasion". Without offering evidence, Mr Trump repeatedly suggested the caravan was politically motivated. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen first announced the changes on Thursday. The joint statement said presidents have the power to "suspend the entry of all aliens" and to impose "any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate on them" if they are judged to be "detrimental" to US interests under the Immigration and Nationality Act."Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility," the statement said. The rule will not apply retroactively. The ban is expected to last 90 days or until the US reaches an agreement with Mexico to turn back asylum-seekers, according to the proclamation.

11-9-18 Mental health in Nigeria: Hauwa Ojeifo's 24/7 helpline for women
'People think you can pray things away' Hauwa Ojeifo set up a mental health helpline for women in Nigeria after suffering from depression herself. People seeking support can go to the She Writes Woman walk-in centre or call its 24/7 helpline. Hauwa has been recognised by the Queen for her achievements.

11-7-18 Marijuana may change the decision-making part of teen brains
A new rat study hints at damage during adolescence. Marijuana use during teenage years may change the brain in key decision-making areas, a study in rats suggests. “Adolescence is a dangerous time to be insulting the brain, particularly with drugs of abuse,” study coauthor Eliza Jacobs-Brichford said November 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Jacobs-Brichford and colleagues gave adolescent male and female rats a marijuana-like compound. Afterward, the researchers found changes in parts of the brain involved in making decisions. Normally, many of the nerve cells there are surrounded by rigid structures called perineuronal nets, sturdy webs that help stabilize connections between nerve cells. But in male rats that had been exposed to the marijuana-like compound in adolescence, fewer of these nerve cells, which help put the brakes on other cells’ activity, were covered by nets. Drug exposure didn’t seem to affect the nets in female rats. “Males look more susceptible to these drugs,” said Jacobs-Brichford, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

11-4-18 Why the migrants still come
Crouched low in the brush along the riverbank, Border Patrol agent Robert Rodriguez watched the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, waiting. A norteño ballad drifted from a radio somewhere on a nearby farm, and two pigs cooled themselves at the water's edge, wading to their bellies. For a moment, one of the border's busiest places for illegal crossings looked placid. Then a raft appeared. Within seconds it was in the water, a teenage guide steering the current while his boss, an older man, stood watch on the bank. In less than a minute, the teenager delivered a woman and a boy to the U.S. side and they climbed out, shoes sinking in the wet silt. Rodriguez stepped onto the path to stop them, but the woman and the boy did not run. They wanted to be captured. This is how it works now. The era of mass migration by Mexican laborers streaming into California and the deserts of Arizona is over. Billions spent on fencing, sensors, agents, and drones have hardened the border and made it tougher than ever to sneak into the United States. The migrants coming today are increasingly Central Americans seeking asylum or some form of humanitarian protection, bearing stories of torture, gang recruitment, abusive spouses, extortionists, and crooked police. They know the quickest path to a better life in the United States is now an administrative one — not through mountains or canyons but through the front gates of the country's immigration bureaucracy. Last year, U.S. immigration courts received nearly 120,000 asylum claims from migrants facing deportation, a fourfold increase from 2014. Those filings have pushed the number of pending cases before U.S. immigration courts to more than 750,000, collapsing the system and upending President Trump's sweeping promises to lock down the border.

11-2-18 A nation in need of repair
Hate is ascendant, but decency has not surrendered. When the white nationalist accused of killing 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue last week arrived at an emergency room with several bullet wounds, he shouted, "I want to kill all the Jews!" The doctor and the nurse waiting to treat Robert Bowers at Allegheny General Hospital were Jewish; the hospital's president, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, belongs to the Tree of Life congregation Bowers attacked. They tended to Bowers as they would any patient. "We're here to take care of sick people," Cohen said. "You do what you think is right." Cohen made a point of talking to Bowers, to see what kind of person could turn an AR-15 on grandfathers and grandmothers and two disabled men. He saw not a monster, but "a very lost guy" who'd listened to the "noise" telling him that white, Christian America was being invaded by Jews, by a caravan of Central Americans, by foreign vermin. "Words mean things," Cohen said. "Words are leading people to do things like this." This feels like a pivotal time for our country. There are bombs in the mail, blood in the temple, and bigotry and division in the air. How many more lost, seething souls like Bowers and accused Florida bomb-maker Cesar Sayoc are out there, becoming radicalized by the "noise" coming from the White House, the TV, and the internet? What happens after the election, when partisan conflict will almost surely intensify? Amid the ugliness, it is easy to forget that our country is filled with decent, principled people like Jeffrey Cohen and his staff — people who hate no one, and who struggle every day to do what is right even when it hurts. I'm not Jewish, but I am moved by the concept of tikkun olam — the rabbinical teaching that we each have a duty to "repair the world." Our world is badly in need of repair. Our wounds need tending. We need more healers, and less hate.

11-2-18 San Francisco 49ers cheerleader kneels for US anthem
A cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers appeared to kneel during the US national anthem at an NFL game on Thursday, echoing recent player protests. The woman, who has not been identified, was pictured kneeling before the team's game against the Oakland Raiders. The 49ers are the former team of Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the anthem as a protest back in 2016. His aim was to highlight police brutality against African-Americans. While the rest of the cheerleading squad held pom-poms aloft in unison during the Star-Spangled Banner, one woman knelt down and put her hands on her hips. If confirmed, it would be the first time an NFL cheerleader has protested in this way, although five members of a college team in Georgia did so last year. NFL protests began in 2016, when Kaepernick - then the 49ers' quarterback - refused to stand for the anthem. Similar demonstrations spread to other teams, with some choosing to link arms in solidarity rather than kneel. But the action proved controversial, drawing criticism from fans and from US President Donald Trump. He has called players who "disrespect" the US flag "sons of bitches" and called for them to be sacked. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017 and is now suing the National Football League, arguing that team owners deliberately froze him out because of his activism. (Webmaster's comment: Probably half the white men in the United States want to "persuade" her not to do this by beating the **** out of her. That's the best argument they can mentally come up with, Physical Abuse! And the only one they understand.)

11-1-18 US mid-terms: What are the claims of voter suppression?
Claims of voter suppression have erupted ahead of the mid-term election in the US, with critics saying tougher identification and registration requirements in several states are designed to limit participation. There have been allegations of voter suppression in previous elections but the claims now are more severe, experts say. Many states, the majority of them governed by Republicans, have put in place new legislation, saying they are needed to prevent rampant voter fraud. (Webmaster's comment: LIES and FAKE NEWS!) Opponents to the measures say such a threat is extremely low and argue that their true goal is to prevent specific groups - such as minorities, who tend to favour Democrats - from voting. "They're occurring in places where Republicans currently have partisan control but they're concerned they might lose it," says Vanessa Williamson, a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC, who has written about the topic. "It's indisputable that these choices are strategic for several reasons because often enough, local and state election officials have said out loud the intention of removing certain demographics from voting rolls." Since the 2010 election, 24 states have introduced new restrictions. But ahead of the November vote, attention has mainly focused on three states for different reasons.

11-1-18 Samsung agrees to payouts after worker deaths
The death of a 23-year-old former Samsung worker has led to the company agreeing a major compensation deal. Hwang Yumi died en route to hospital in 2007 after developing leukaemia. Her father led a campaign to shame the company into making payouts for other cases of the disease, miscarriages and other ailments linked to chemicals used at its South Korean factories. Those affected - and workers' children with related ailments - will receive up to 150m won (£102,907) per illness. Hwang Sang-ki - a taxi driver - set up the Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (Sharps) with the help of local labour activists in November 2007. It organised sit-in protests at various Samsung sites to pressure the company into the deal. It alleged there was a link between the working conditions Samsung maintained and diseases, which also included brain tumours and multiple sclerosis. "It is truly deplorable that the issues of workers having fallen ill and died from on-the-job chemical exposure remained unsolved for more than 10 long years," said Hawang Sang-ki in July, when the technology company first said it would abide by terms that were subsequently drawn up by a third-party mediator. As of June 2018, Sharps said, it had identified 319 other victims, 117 of whom had died. (Webmaster's comment: This is mass murder and the company executives should be charged as murderers.)


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Atheism News & Humanism Articles for October 2018