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

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

11-30-18 St Louis police charged for beating black undercover officer
A US federal jury has charged three Missouri police officers with attacking a black officer working undercover whom they mistook for a protester. DAfter texting about how they wanted to rough up protesters, they brutally beat their police colleague with a riot baton, Thursday's indictment says. It happened during protests in St Louis in 2017 after a white officer who killed a young black man was acquitted. A fourth officer has also been charged for helping cover-up the incident. The undercover officer has been named in court only as LH, but he was identified by the St Louis Post-Dispatch as Luther Hall, a city police officer with 22 years of service. He was beaten so badly that he eventually needed surgery to his neck and spine and could not eat for days because of the injuries to his face, including a 2cm hole above his lip, the Post-Dispatch reported. The three officers - 35-year-old Dustin Boone, 27-year-old Christopher Myers and 31-year-old Randy Hays - face charges including deprivation of constitutional rights, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The fourth accused officer, 25-year-old Bailey Colletta, faces charges of lying to investigators. Prosecuting US Attorney Jeff Jensen said in a statement: "These are serious charges and the vigorous enforcement of civil rights is essential to maintaining public trust in law enforcement."

11-30-18 Afghanistan war: US strike in Helmand killed 23 civilians, UN says
A US airstrike in Afghanistan on Tuesday killed as many as 23 civilians, with most victims women and children, the UN says. The strike on a compound in Helmand province was called in during a joint operation between Afghan and US forces. Investigators said up to 10 children and eight women may have been killed. US forces say they are investigating. Civilian casualties from aerial attacks have surged since the US announced a new Afghan strategy last year. President Trump committed more troops to America's longest war and significantly boosted the number of strikes targeting Taliban and Islamic State group positions in August 2017. The rules of engagement were also loosened, allowing more bombings. The US-led Nato mission in Afghanistan said that Tuesday's helicopter strike took place amid a firefight between US-advised Afghan special forces and Taliban fighters in Garmser district. Nato said the Taliban had been using the building that was hit "as a fighting position", and accused the militants of continuously using civilians as human shields. A local resident who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation told the BBC that Taliban fighters were indeed near the building that was hit by the US strike. He said the youngest victim was about six years old, but this could not be verified. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded 649 civilians casualties (dead and injured) as a result of aerial attacks in the first nine months of this year, the highest number in any any year since systematic recording began in 2009. In April, an attack by the Afghan Air Force - which is trained and equipped by the US - killed 30 children in north-eastern Kunduz province at a graduation ceremony. (Webmaster's comment: The United States killing of innocent civilians continues!)

11-30-18 The slow-motion collapse of the American health-care system
Neglect and complexity are killing tens of thousands of people America is in sad shape. Despite the strongest economy in at least 20 years, life expectancy has declined on average for the third straight year — which has not happened since World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic. This is driven mostly by an appalling rate of suicide, which has increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2017 to the highest level in half a century, and the rate of drug overdose, which has increased by a staggering 356 percent over the same period. There are certainly some cultural and economic factors here, particularly the very high rate of firearms ownership in rural areas (which makes suicide attempts more deadly), and the social dislocation from de-industrialization (where overdoses are concentrated). But another is America's bloated, Kafkaesque nightmare of a health-care system, which is slowing collapsing before our very eyes. Let's examine two facts. The first is the typical cost of health care for a family of four on an average employer-sponsored plan, taken from a Milliman Research Report. It has increased almost $5,000 just from 2014 to 2018, to $28,166. Note the median household income in 2017 was $61,372, and health-care costs have exceeded income growth by a long shot for decades. The second is what is being bought with that increased money. Despite the huge increase in spending, the answer is less health care for everything except prescription drugs. As this chart from the Health Care Cost Institute details, skyrocketing costs have pushed people away from treatment — especially inpatient care, which declined by nearly 13 percent from 2012 to 2016. The American health-care system is a hellish tangle of bureaucracy, the various (often-deadly) inefficiencies and injustices of which would take several shelves full of books to describe. But these two trends paint a decent broad-strokes picture of what's happening: Americans are paying more for less. We are pitilessly soaked for health care — worse than any other country, by far — and getting steadily less actual treatment for our money.

11-30-18 Why I left the Catholic Church
Three months ago, I announced I was leaving the Catholic Church. My reason was that the latest revelations in the church's interminable sex abuse scandal had revealed "a repulsive institution — or at least one permeated by repulsive human beings who reward one another for repulsive acts, all the while deigning to lecture the world about its sin." Let's just say subsequent events haven't led me to regret the decision. That would include Wednesday's news that the offices of the cardinal-archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who also happens to serve as president of the United States Catholic bishops' conference, were raided by "dozens of local and federal law enforcement officers … looking for evidence in a clergy sexual abuse case." A couple of weeks ago, the story was the Vatican's decision to nix plans by the American bishops to devise some kind of response to the scandal — on the grounds that it's mostly just a conspiracy drummed up by troublemaking right-wing clerics and laypeople. A week or a month from now, the story is bound to be something arising from the dozen or so investigations underway by the Justice Department and attorneys general around the country. It's hardly surprising that writers deeply devoted to the Catholic Church would reject the reasons for my decision to leave the church. The former editor of Commonweal Paul Baumann responded by suggesting that my reaction is too extreme and driven by the error of expecting too much of the church. Matthew Schmitz, a senior editor of First Things, made a related point in the Catholic Herald, implying that I and others have chosen to bolt the church precisely because it (rightly) sets its moral standards very high — and that this decision is ultimately a betrayal of our duty as Catholics to "cling" to Christ while "tending" to his wounds, and those of his church. While putting off his full argument for a future occasion, The New York Times' Ross Douthat pronounced my choice to leave the church "a terrible mistake." Going further, Austin Ruse took to the pages of the conservative Catholic magazine Crisis to say, in effect, good riddance: better for apostates to leave the church than to doubt its divinity and rot it out from the inside. As I say, the response was unsurprising, even perfectly understandable. Though I do wonder whether any of these apologists for the church quite grasps why I left the church — and why so many others are likely to make the same move over the coming months and years.

11-30-18 Trump denial syndrome
Critics of the 45th president are routinely accused of suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” said E.J. Dionne. But in the past week, we’ve seen proof that “those who feared Trump’s despotic inclinations were neither deluded nor alarmist.” After the CIA concluded that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump simply waved this horrific crime away as unimportant. “Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t!” the president said. Punishing Crown Prince Mohammed might cost us some arms sales and other investments, Trump explained. He did not, of course, mention the Saudis’ lucrative purchase of Trump Organization properties and ongoing rental of hundreds of Trump hotel rooms. To make matters worse, we also learned last week that our authoritarian president wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, but was stopped by then–White House counsel Donald McGahn. Nothing is more autocratic than locking up your political enemies. “The syndrome we most need to worry about is denial”—the refusal of Republicans to face how much damage Trump is inflicting on our constitutional democracy.

11-30-18 Chaos on the U.S.-Mexico border
Border Patrol agents used tear gas to repel about 500 migrants who stormed a border crossing near San Diego this week as President Trump moved to restrict their ability to claim asylum in the U.S. The chaos ensued after 7,400 members of a caravan that departed Central America on Oct. 19 began massing in Tijuana, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the U.S. With only about 60 asylum claims being processed daily and food scarce in their tent city on the Mexican side, a group of frustrated migrants marched on the border barriers to demand entry. When they were blocked by Mexican federal police, scuffling broke out, and some migrants scaled the wall while others pried holes in fences and sprinted through traffic. Some hurled rocks and bottles at border agents, four of whom were struck, although none was seriously injured. Border agents fired volleys of tear gas over the border to drive the migrants back, with women and children caught in the choking fumes. “We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” said Ana Zuniga, a 23-year-old from Honduras, who was carrying her 3-year-old daughter. Democrats and immigrant rights groups condemned the Trump administration’s handling of the situation, accusing border agents of overkill. “These children are barefoot, in diapers, choking on tear gas,” said California Gov.–elect Gavin Newsom. “That’s not my America.” Trump doubled down, threatening to close the border with Mexico “permanently” and defending the use of tear gas, which was used about once a month by border agents during the Obama administration. “They were being rushed by some very tough people,” Trump said. “Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”

11-30-18 Shoddy screening
The Trump administration waived FBI background checks for thousands of workers supervising teens at a migrant detention center, the Health and Human Services inspector general reported this week. Initially intended for just 400 children when it opened in June, the camp has now expanded to house 2,300. None of the 2,100 staffers employed there was required to participate in the FBI’s rigorous fingerprint background check. Instead, the inspector general said in a memo, the tent city is screening staff with a private contractor, “heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called the decision “absolutely appalling.” The government also exempted the facility from mental health staffing requirements.

11-30-18 Click here to report your neighbor
The Indonesian government is encouraging Muslim citizens to denounce one another for heresy, said Karina Tehusijarana. The Jakarta prosecutor’s office launched a cellphone app last week that makes it easy to report someone for “misguided or heretical” beliefs. Called Smart Pakem, the app includes a list of forbidden beliefs and banned organizations as well as a directory of fatwas issued by Indonesia’s top clerical body. There’s also a form for reporting infractions, so you can zap your accusation directly to the prosecutor’s office. Human rights activists warn that the app could lead to persecution. While Indonesia does protect freedom of worship for certain recognized minorities, such as Christians and Hindus, it doesn’t protect followers of smaller Islamic sects, like the Ahmadiyah, who are considered heretics by the country’s highest Islamic council. In answering that criticism, the Indonesian government said groups reported through the app would not be “destroyed immediately,” but merely investigated, and it reiterated that Indonesian law authorizes such oversight. Activists say the law will have to be changed. If the government wants “a peaceful climate,” said Choirul Anam of the National Commission on Human Rights, “it should not criminalize differences in beliefs.” (Webmaster's comment: Coming soon in our govenment?)

11-30-18 Betrayed Catholics must act
Catholic clergy can no longer be trusted to fix the church’s sex abuse problem, said Tim Roemer. “The laity must act.” This much became clear after a Pennsylvania grand jury revealed hundreds of children to be “victims of both sexual abuse and a cover-up by high-level” priests, spurring investigations of the church in at least six other states. It became clearer still when Pope Francis recently ordered U.S. bishops to delay implementing any sex-abuse reform proposals. These betrayals compel faithful Catholics to act to save our church. First, the laity should demand, via petition, that the church turn over all pertinent records to law enforcement, and support—not oppose—revising statutes of limitations to enable prosecution of past abusers. Lay leaders should get involved in overseeing clergy assignments, and develop “better screening procedures” for priests. We should consider allowing clergy to marry and women to be ordained as priests. Most importantly, Catholics should withhold donations until the clergy hear us and respond. Those of us in the pews need to “stand up, make our voices heard, and demand results.” The safety of our children and the fate of our church are at stake.

11-30-18 The reporter who survived Jonestown
Forty years ago, Charles Krause lay on the tarmac of a remote airstrip in Guyana, pretending to be dead, said Caitlin Gibson in The Washington Post. A foreign correspondent at the time, Krause had traveled with California Rep. Leo Ryan and his entourage to visit the cult compound known as Jonestown. Ryan and four others were gunned down—and Krause was shot in the hip—before nearly 900 Peoples Temple followers were forced to drink a cyanide-laced punch. Krause, now 71, had spent time with Peoples Temple members days before they were killed. “Some of the things that were going on there were actually good,” Krause says. Many of the cult members “believed it was a socialist community and a place where different races and religions could be together.” He’s brooded for years about “the real lessons of Jonestown,” which he has distilled to this: “These people followed someone who led them to destruction. They believed in this guy. He took their money. And then he betrayed them, and then he led them to their deaths. I wish we had learned to be more cautious about following people who promise things and then betray the trust that people have given them.”

11-30-18 ‘Good guy with a gun’ killed
Police offered multiple explanations this week for why Emantic Bradford Jr. was fatally shot by an off-duty officer following a shooting at a shopping mall Thanksgiving night. While shoppers scrambled for cover after two people were shot, Bradford’s family says, the 21-year-old pulled out a gun he was licensed to carry before he was shot by the officer working security. Police initially cited Bradford as the suspect, then said he was killed for “brandishing a handgun.” Bradford’s family says that the Army veteran was in fact trying to prevent more people from dying. The shooter, meanwhile, remains at large. Gun control advocates said Bradford’s killing offers further evidence that shootings can’t be stopped by a “good guy with a gun,” as the National Rifle Association’s theory goes, especially if that good guy is black.

11-30-18 U.S. suicide rate rose 18 percent
The global suicide rate has dropped 29 percent since 2000, apparently because of improvements in the quality of life. The U.S. suicide rate has risen 18 percent since 2000, mostly because of the decline in quality of life for white, middle-aged men without college degrees.

11-30-18 Holocaust compensation
The state-owned Dutch railway company NS has agreed to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors and the relatives of victims who were transported to Nazi concentration camps on the company’s trains. During World War II, NS cooperated with the occupying Nazi regime to transport some 107,000 Jews to a transit camp at Westerbork, where they were loaded onto trains bound for the Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps. Only about 5,000 survived. NS earned $2.8 million in today’s money for transporting Jews; it’s unclear how much it will pay out.

11-29-18 Drug and suicide deaths rise as US life expectancy drops
Life expectancy in the US has dropped once again, thanks in part to rising suicide and drug overdose rates, according to new government reports. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found nearly 70,000 more Americans died in 2017 than 2016, with rising rates of death among 25- to 44-year-olds. Thursday's reports revealed synthetic opioid-related overdose death rates rose by 45% on average, nationwide. The suicide rate is also the highest it has been in decades. Americans can expect to live just over 78 years and six months on average - a 0.1 year drop from 2016, according to the report released on Thursday. "Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide," said CDC director Robert Redfield in a statement. "Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable." The top 10 leading causes of death - including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and suicide - were the same as in 2016, accounting for the majority of deaths. Only cancer death rates decreased by 2.1%, while the rates for most other causes increased. US women continue to outlive men, and the death rate did decrease among 45- to 54-year-olds. Between 2016 and 2017, mortality rates also decreased for black women, and there was no significant change in rates for black men and Hispanic Americans. Life expectancy in the US began dropping in 2015. Monaco and Japan currently have the longest life expectancies in the world at 89 and 85 years. The UK's life expectancy is around 80 years. As the US grapples with an opioid crisis, overdoses claim more and more lives, the CDC report found. The age-adjusted death rate has gone up 16% per year since 2014. Drug overdose deaths accounted for 70,237 deaths last year - nearly 10% higher than in 2016 - with a significantly higher rate of death among men, compared to women.

11-28-18 Overseas students turn away from US
The number of new international students enrolling at United States universities and colleges went down by almost 7% last year, according to official data published this month. It's the second year in a row that the number of new international enrolments in the US has declined, denting a market worth $42bn (£33bn) to the US economy last year. Prof Simon Marginson, of Oxford University, an expert on trends in international students, says there is "little doubt" this downturn is related to the Trump administration. He says it's a combination of the anti-immigration messages putting off applicants and the tightening of the student visa system. The International Institute of Education, which gathers the annual data, asked potential recruits about reasons for not studying in the US, and found a mix of politics, practicalities and cost. The visa application process was the single biggest disincentive - but also frequently cited was the "social and political environment in the US". The high cost of tuition was mentioned but so too was "feeling unwelcome in the US" and concerns about "physical safety in the US". The biggest falls are from places such as India, South Korea, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. But there's also been a decline in numbers going to US universities from the UK, Germany and France. What's really striking about the fall in enrolments is that it's the reversal of a pattern of growth that has lasted for decades. (Webmaster's comment: You can not elect a wannabe Facist to US president without there being consequences!)

11-28-18 Racism against black people in EU 'widespread and entrenched' (Webmaster's comment: It's even worse in the united States!)
People of African descent are facing "widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion" across the European Union, a study suggests. Race-related violence, discriminatory police profiling, and discrimination in the search for jobs and housing were commonplace for many, the EU's agency for fundamental rights (FRA) said. Finland had the highest rates of race-related harassment and violence while the UK had amongst the lowest. The FRA urged countries to take action "It is a reality both shameful and infuriating: racism based on the colour of a person's skin remains a pervasive scourge throughout the European Union," FRA director Michael O'Flaherty said in the foreword to the report. The Being Black in the EU surveyed nearly 6,000 people in 12 EU countries - including France and Germany - between 2015 and 2016. About 30% of the overall respondents said they had experienced some form of racial harassment in the five years before the survey. This ranged from 63% of respondents in Finland to 21% in the UK and 20% in Malta. Five percent of those surveyed said they had experienced racist violence, including by police officers. The highest rates of racist violence were recorded in Finland (14%), Ireland and Austria (both 13%). The lowest rates were observed in Portugal (2%) and the UK (3%). The majority said they did not report the incidents because they either felt it would not change anything or because they did not trust or were afraid of the police, the report said. (Webmaster's comment: In the United States police are likely to shoot unarmed black people!)

11-28-18 He Jiankui defends 'world's first gene-edited babies'
A Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world's first genetically edited babies has defended his work. Speaking at a genome summit in Hong Kong, He Jiankui said he was "proud" of altering the genes of twin girls so they cannot contract HIV. His work, which he announced earlier this week, has not been verified. Many scientists have condemned his announcement. Such gene-editing work is banned in most countries, including China. Prof He's university - the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen - said it was unaware of the research project and would launch an investigation. It said Mr He had been on unpaid leave since February. Prof He confirmed the university was not aware, adding he had funded the experiment by himself. Prof He announced earlier this week that he had altered the DNA of embryos - twin girls - to prevent them from contracting HIV. On Wednesday, Prof He spoke at the Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong for the first time about his work since the uproar. He revealed that the twin girls - known as "Lulu" and "Nana" - were "born normal and healthy", adding that there were plans to monitor the twins over the next 18 years. He explained that eight couples - comprised of HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers - had signed up voluntarily for the experiment; one couple later dropped out. Prof He also said that the study had been submitted to a scientific journal for review, though he did not name the journal. He also said that "another potential pregnancy" of a gene-edited embryo was in its early stages. But he apologised that his research "was leaked unexpectedly", and added: "The clinical trial was paused due to the current situation." (Webmaster's comment: A brave new world thanks to a brave CHINESE scientist!)

11-28-18 CRISPR scientist says another woman is pregnant with an edited embryo
He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world’s first genetically-edited babies, says another may be on the way. Speaking at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing at the University of Hong Kong today, He said that “there is another potential pregnancy”, but that it is still at an early stage. The Associated Press news agency revealed on Monday that He claims to have edited a number of human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR to make them resistant to HIV. Two were then implanted into a woman’s womb, and she allegedly gave birth to the resulting twin girls this month. He told the packed audience that he was “proud” of his achievement. He said that the father of the girls – who is HIV positive – had lost hope for life before enrolling in the trial. “[Now the father is] saying ‘I will work hard, earn money and take care of these two daughters’,” He said. After his talk, He was questioned by summit delegates about why he had conducted the trial in secret without consulting his global peers or authorities in China. He responded that he had run the idea for the trial past at least four experts, including one professor from the US and one from China, but did not name them. He also said that the university where he works – the Southern University of Science and Technology – was unaware that he had used the research money allocated to him to fund his HIV CRISPR trial. He is currently on unpaid leave at the university. Speaking at the summit after He, David Baltimore from the California Institute of Technology said: “I think there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community because of a lack of transparency.”

11-27-18 Chinese scientists raise ethical questions with first gene-edited babies
Researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to alter a gene involved in HIV entry into cells. A Chinese scientist’s surprise announcement on the eve of an international human gene-editing summit that he has already created the world’s first gene-edited babies has led to swift condemnation. Jiankui He is expected to discuss his work November 28 in Hong Kong at the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing. But in an interview with the Associated Press, and in a video posted November 25, He announced that twin girls with an edited gene that reduces the risk of contracting HIV “came crying into this world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago.” That announcement sparked outrage from many researchers and ethicists who say implanting edited embryos to create babies is premature and exposes the children to unnecessary health risks. Opponents also fear the creation of “designer babies,” children edited to enhance their intelligence, athleticism or other traits. He, on unpaid leave from the Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen since February, objects to the term designer baby. “Call them ‘gene surgery babies’ if one must or better yet ordinary people who have had surgery to save their life or prevent a disease,” He and colleagues wrote in a perspective published online November 26 in the CRISPR Journal. But in the video, He said that he realizes his work will be controversial, and he’s willing to take the criticism. Some families need the technology to have healthy children, He said, adding that enhancing intelligence or changing hair or eye color are “not things loving parents do” and should be banned.

11-27-18 Migrant caravan: Trump defends tear gas on Mexico border
US President Donald Trump has defended the use of tear gas on a crowd of migrants, including children, trying to cross the US-Mexico border on Sunday. Border agents were forced into action because they were "being rushed by some very tough people", Mr Trump said. Critics have accused the Trump administration of a draconian response, while Mexico has demanded the US investigate its use of tear gas. Mexico says it has deported nearly 100 migrants who attempted to enter the US. Sunday's confrontation broke out after a migrants' march in Tijuana spiralled out of control, with hundreds of migrants attempting to breach barriers separating Mexico from the US. US Customs and Border Protection, which polices the border, said its personnel had been assaulted and hit by stones. Women and children were among those trying to protect themselves from tear gas fired by the authorities, sparking condemnation from activists and some politicians. Speaking in Mississippi, Mr Trump said the border agents were right to use tear gas. "Here's the bottom line: Nobody's coming into our country unless they come in legally." He added that the gas used was "very safe" and was a "very minor form" of tear gas. However, this was disputed by some journalists at the scene, who said the tear gas was painful even from a significant distance away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tear gas can cause a burning sensation in the eyes and mouth, shortness of breath, and burns or rashes. Prolonged exposure can lead to blindness or breathing problems. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of tear gas in war, but allows it for domestic law enforcement purposes. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has defended the use of tear gas, saying border agents were entitled to "self-defence". However, Mexico's foreign ministry sent the US government a diplomatic note expressing its concern about the use of non-lethal weapons, and calling for a full investigation.

11-26-18 Alabama police offer new explanation for shooting wrong man
Alabama police say a black man mistaken for an active shooter during a mall shooting had "heightened the sense of threat" by drawing his own firearm after shots rang out. Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, 21, had "brandished a gun" as police responded to Thursday's incident at the shopping centre near Birmingham, they said. Police initially said Mr Bradford was the gunman, before retracting that statement on Friday. The actual suspect remains at large. Protesters and Mr Bradford's family have demanded transparency from police. Hoover Police Department said on Monday: "We can say with certainty Mr Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene." Mr Bradford had a permit to carry a weapon, according to his family. Under Alabama gun law, it is not illegal to carry a gun in public, but the shopping centre where the shooting happened prohibits firearms on its premises. The police department extended its sympathies to Mr Bradford's family, saying he was "shot and killed during Hoover Police efforts to secure the scene in the seconds following the original altercation and shooting". The tragedy unfolded on the evening of the US Thanksgiving holiday when a gunman shot and wounded an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl at the Riverchase Galleria Mall in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. It happened just before the Black Friday sales outside a footwear retailer and, according to, may have been over some trainers. As people fled, witnesses reported many people had their own guns out, according to NPR. When police arrived on scene, a uniformed officer saw Mr Bradford with a firearm and shot him to death, believing him to be the gunman. Police initially praised that officer as a "hero". But on Friday evening they said their earlier report was "not totally accurate". The updated police statement said: "New evidence suggests that while Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim." The family's lawyer, Ben Crump, said on CNN that an officer "made a decision within milliseconds to shoot [Mr Bradford] in his face". "If you're black and you're a good guy with a gun, the police does not see you as a good guy. They just see you as a criminal and they shoot and kill you." (Webmaster's comment: The police will find any excuse to kill blacks!)

11-26-18 Migrant caravan: Mexico to deport group which stormed US border
Mexico will deport Central American migrants who attempted to storm the US border, its interior ministry said. The group, part of the migrant caravan heading towards the US from Central America, was rounded up after trying to cross the border "violently" and "illegally" on Sunday. Video footage shows dozens of people running towards the border fence near the city of Tijuana. US border officers used tear gas to repel them. On Monday US officials confirmed that 42 people who managed to cross on Sunday had been arrested. US President Donald Trump also reiterated a threat to close the border completely. Tension has been running high on the US-Mexican border since the arrival of almost 7,500 migrants over the past weeks. The migrants, who are mostly from Honduras, but also from Guatemala and El Salvador, say they are fleeing the threat of violence in their home countries and looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. They have travelled in large groups, dubbed "caravans", for more than 4,000km (2,500 miles) from Central America and most want to reach the United States, where they say they plan to ask for asylum. Among them are many families with young children. President Trump has vowed to keep each migrant on the Mexican side of the border until courts have decided their cases, meaning some face a long wait. They have been spending the past two weeks in temporary shelters in the Mexican border city of Tijuana and in Mexicali, 180km to the east along the border. A group of at least 500 migrants joined a march from their shelter in Tijuana towards the border on Sunday. Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete said the migrants had asked for help to organise the demonstration but were then reportedly encouraged by some of the movement's leaders to split into different groups so they could make a run for the border and try to cross into the US. The march started peacefully with migrants carrying pro-immigration banners and shouting: "We aren't criminals! We are hard workers!". But once they managed to get past the security cordon, the march quickly turned into a dash for the border, BBC correspondent Will Grant reports. (Webmaster's comment: Tear down the Statue of Liberty. Americans no longer support what it stands for!)

11-26-18 Tension and tear gas at the border
An immigration conflict comes to a violent head. lot of things went wrong Sunday at the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana. A small group of migrants who want asylum in the U.S. rushed the barriers in an apparent bid to cross illegally. A few tried to breach the border fence. And some reportedly even threw "projectiles" at American border officials. These were all bad ideas. Awful, terrible ideas. But the response of American officials was somehow even worse: They fired tear gas at the migrants, and in the process, they tear-gassed children. The enduring image of the day is that of a woman dragging a couple of young girls — both clad in shirts, diapers, and little else — as a gas canister explodes behind them. "We ran," one woman told The Associated Press, "but when you run, the gas asphyxiates you more." Did this have to happen? No, certainly not. It's true that the people who rushed the border did something stupid and wrong, and they will pay for it: Mexico's Interior Ministry said it would deport nearly 500 migrants who were involved in Sunday's incident. That's both punishment and tragedy; those migrants will be returned to homes they fled in their effort to escape violence and poverty. "DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness," said Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. But let's not forget that Sunday's incident followed a few weeks in which the Trump administration appeared increasingly ready — maybe even eager — to respond with violence to the stream of Central American migrants hoping to head north through Mexico and into the U.S. Trump sent troops to the border, and reportedly sought to give those troops permission to use force to protect Border Patrol personnel. This moment was ripe for provocation — and a few wrongheaded folks took the bait. There are a handful of questions Americans need to be asking if they're to judge this incident properly: What are the rules governing force at the border? What rules govern launching tear gas across the border, into a neighboring country? Does the presence of children affect how those rules are to be implemented? It may be that border officials responded properly and proportionately. But that doesn't change the fact that they tear-gassed children. In the immediate aftermath of Sunday's incident, this fact seems most palpable. It is impossible to ignore. And indeed, wherever you find a debate about America's immigration policy, it seems you'll also find instances of children being treated badly by American officials.

11-26-18 Slow your roll on legal weed
. Legalized weed is on the rise in the Americas. Recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada. Mexico may soon follow suit. Here in America, 10 states and D.C. now permit recreational use for adults over 21. Another 23 states have legalized medical pot. Even Republicans are coming around to the benefits. War on drugs diehards may soon need to flee to Europe to escape the sickly-sweet scent. Who'd have predicted that a decade ago? Two-thirds of Americans now support legalizing pot. The percentage of pro-pot Americans has more than doubled since 2000. It's one of the most stunningly rapid transformations of public opinion in modern American history. So, allow me to offer an unpopular opinion: Pot is bad. I know, I know. It can be hard to get worked up about a little grass. There are so many other frightening things to worry about, and most people seem to have bought into the argument that recreational pot will basically be fine, because after all, it's a lot less bad than alcohol (which still does a great deal of harm to society). Psychologically, the pot-vs-alcohol comparison is soothing. Most of us have lived with legal booze for our entire lives. It's not alarming to see beer at a ball game or wine at a dinner party. Perhaps pot will be similar, except less harmful because it's less addictive, less life-threatening, and less likely to fuel violent rage. Middle-class moms like me will go on fussing about sex and drugs, but maybe we just need to pour ourselves a glass of chardonnay and relax. Well ... I can't. Because marijuana really does bring with it some worrisome possibilities. Pot seems to affect the development of the adolescent brain, which may be a relevant consideration all the way through a person's mid-20s. At least in the short-term, pot impairs memory, executive function, and motor skills. Chronic cannabis use can in some instances trigger psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And it is addictive, even if moderately less so than some other drugs. All of these connections are controversial and (to date) understudied, so it's hard predict just how bad the problem is. Realistically though, that just underscores how alarmed we should be over this brave new world of weed.

11-25-18 Alabama police admit killing wrong man after mall shooting
Protesters have demanded answers after Alabama police admitted killing a man who they wrongly suspected of shooting two people in a shopping mall. Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, 21, was shot dead at the mall in Hoover. But on Friday, authorities said Bradford was probably not the gunman, and the actual perpetrator remained at large. Around 200 demonstrators marched in the Riverchase Galleria on Saturday demanding answers from the police. "Where is the bodycam footage -- why we ain't seen it yet?" one protester said to CBS News. The policeman who killed Bradford has reportedly been placed on administrative leave. According to FBI data, a disproportionately high proportion of police shootings in the US involve black people. Black people are much more likely to be shot by police than their white peers. An analysis of the available FBI data by Dara Lind for Vox found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force. The disparities appear to be even starker for unarmed suspects, according to an analysis of 2015 police killings by the Guardian. Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police. (Webmaster's comment: 39% of black people killed by police are unarmed!)

11-24-18 Migrant caravan: Humanitarian crisis develops in Tijuana
The mayor of the Mexican border city of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis as it struggles to cope with an influx of migrants, all hoping to cross into the US.

11-23-18 Trump asks US court for review of transgender military ban
President Trump's administration is asking the US Supreme Court to consider its proposed restrictions on transgender military members. It is requesting that the top court review lower court rulings blocking a military ban on transgender people. Federal courts have prevented the military from implementing a policy barring some transgender Americans from service. The administration wants the court to hear the dispute this term. The president announced on Twitter in 2017 that the country would no longer "accept or allow" transgender Americans to serve in the military, citing "tremendous medical costs and disruption". The administration has since limited the policy to transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria. Following legal challenges, judges in federal courts in three jurisdictions - Washington state, California, and Washington, DC - have refused to lift injunctions issued against the president's original ban to allow the updated policy to be enforced. The US government is appealing those decisions. On Friday, the Trump administration filed petitions to the Supreme Court asking for its "immediate review" of the constitutional challenges to the ban. "And absent this Court's prompt intervention, it is unlikely that the military will be able to implement its new policy any time soon," it said. The petitions ask for the top court to consolidate the cases for decision and consider the dispute during its current term, which ends in June or July 2019.

11-22-18 Trump renews threat to close Mexico border over migrants
Donald Trump has threatened to close the whole US-Mexico border, including halting trade with Mexico, if the arrival of migrants from central America there leads to disorder. He also said he had given troops at the border the go-ahead to use lethal force if needed. (Webmaster's comment: We said he would and now he has. Trump has authorized MURDER!)On Monday the US briefly closed a busy crossing to install new barriers. Thousands of migrants are at the border after travelling more than 4,000km (2,500 miles) from Central America. They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Mr Trump has deployed about 5,800 troops to the border and has previously described the migrants as an "invasion". "If we find that it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control," he told reporters. "The whole border. I mean the whole border. Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars," he added. On Thursday Mr Trump also warned that the US government could shut down next month if no more money was provided for a wall between the US and Mexico. "Could there be a shutdown? There certainly could and it will be about border security, of which the wall is a part," he said.

11-23-18 Sandra Parks: Anti-gun student, 13, killed by stray bullet
"We are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence..." Two years ago, 11-year-old Milwaukee schoolgirl Sandra Parks wrote these words in an award-winning essay about the murders in her city. On Monday night, aged 13, she was shot by a stray bullet fired into her home. Her frantic family called 911, but Sandra died at the scene. The girl's mother, Bernice Parks, told police she had gone to bed early while her children watched TV. She woke to the sound of gunshots shortly before 20:00, and found her daughter bleeding on the floor. "She said, 'Momma, I'm shot. Call the police,'" Ms Parks told TV station WITI. "I looked at her. She didn't cry. She wasn't hollering. She was just so peaceful... She didn't deserve to leave this world like that." Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett described the situation as "insanity", telling reporters: "Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house, and she's dead. A 13-year-old, on Thanksgiving week, on a school night, in her bedroom, and she died." Mr Barrett speculated that the shooter may have wanted to "settle a score, express anger, try to scare someone", saying on Tuesday: "All we know is that a 13-year-old died last night in her bedroom."

11-22-18 Migrant caravan: Troops 'unarmed' at US-Mexico border, Mattis says
US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said military police at the border with Mexico will be unarmed and will not have the power to carry out arrests. "They don't have guns in their hands, there is no armed element going in," Mr Mattis told reporters on Wednesday. He said the military deployment along the Mexican border was to help protect border officials from possible threats. A convoy of almost 3,000 Central American migrants has arrived at the Mexican border city of Tijuana. They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. But President Donald Trump has described the caravan of migrants hoping to cross into the US as an "invasion", and deployed about 5,800 troops to the southern border to "harden" it. On Wednesday, Mr Mattis told reporters that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had not requested that troops use "lethal force", adding: "Relax, don't worry about it." He said troops, armed with batons and shields, may be given powers to temporarily detain migrants for "minutes, not even hours", but not the authority to arrest them. (Webmaster's comment: A baton in the hands of strong man can easily kill a person by breaking their skull! And they will!)

11-21-18 Caravan jeered
In stark contrast to the many Mexicans who fed and sheltered thousands of Central American migrants on their journey northward, some Tijuana locals this week protested the arrival of the caravan at the city on the U.S.-Mexico border. A few hundred demonstrators chanted “Out Hondurans, we don’t want you here” and “Tijuana first,” and waved Mexican flags. About 3,000 migrants have arrived so far, and another 7,000 are expected to come. “No city in the world is prepared to receive this avalanche,” said Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum, who wore a “Make Tijuana Great Again” cap. Because U.S. border guards can process only about 100 asylum claims a day at the Tijuana–San Diego crossing, the migrants will likely remain in the city for months.

11-21-18 A courtroom loss for immigration hard-liners
A federal judge blocked President Trump’s attempt to automatically deny asylum to migrants who cross the southern border illegally, saying the policy “irreconcilably conflicts” with federal law. “Failure to comply with entry requirements,” San Francisco–based Judge Jon Tigar said, “should bear little, if any, weight in the asylum process.” The temporary restraining order will extend to Dec. 19, when Tigar has scheduled another hearing. The new asylum directive follows a midterm campaign in which Trump directed his ire at a caravan of several thousand Central Americans who plan to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. The White House has long complained that migrants exploit the asylum system, and this ruling is the latest in a series of courtroom defeats for Trump’s immigration policies.

11-21-18 The church-state divide
The church-state divide, after Texas pastor Ed Young warned that God will punish America for voting Democrats back into power in the midterm elections. The Democratic Party is “basically godless,” said Young, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

11-21-18 ‘Master race’ official resigns
A Kansas county commissioner bowed to intense pressure and resigned this week after referring to “the master race” at a meeting. Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp, who is white, listened to a presentation last week on road-development options from Triveece Penelton, who is black. Klemp rejected the proposal, explaining to Penelton, “I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you because we’re part of the master race.” The term is widely associated with white supremacy, though Klemp added that he and Penelton were members of the master race because they both have “gaps” in their teeth. Fellow commissioners called on Klemp to resign, as did outgoing Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer. Yet Leavenworth County Administrator Mark Loughry said Klemp has joked “on several occasions over the past year” that fellow gap-toothed people are “members of the master race,” arguing that the quip was simply “misconstrued.”

11-21-18 Poor Judgment
A University of Texas biology teacher was suspended from her class after she called police on a black student who had put her feet up on a desk. Senior lecturer Anita Moss called the cops even though the student took her feet down, saying she had been “disrespectful,” and officers removed the student from the class. A university investigation concluded that the teacher had used “poor judgment.”

11-21-18 History
History, after the Texas Board of Education voted to change what students are told about the causes of the Civil War. Students will be taught that slavery played a “central role,” instead of being one of three factors along with “states’ rights” and “sectionalism.”

11-21-18 CNN gets a pass
The White House restored CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass this week, after a federal judge ruled that revoking Acosta’s access violated his right to due process. Although the Trump administration appeared to back down from its legal fight with CNN, Trump said if Acosta “misbehaves” again, “we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.” The standoff began a day after the midterm elections, when Acosta persistently followed up with Trump about immigration policy. The White House released a doctored video that made it seem as though Acosta karate-chopped the arm of an intern reaching for the microphone. After a judge sided with CNN, the White House issued a list of rules for press conferences that limit reporters’ ability to ask follow-up questions, saying it would keep the option of revoking the passes of rule breakers.

11-21-18 Parents Disavowed Her
Emily Scheck, 19, was left with only $20 to her name when her parents disavowed her after they discovered she was gay. A cross-country runner at Canisius College in Buffalo, Scheck barely had enough money for food. A teammate launched a GoFundMe campaign for Scheck, but Scheck faced another hurdle: NCAA rules ban donations to amateur athletes, forcing Scheck to choose the money over her eligibility to play college sports. After an outpouring of public pressure, the NCAA relented, letting Scheck keep her donations and keep competing. As for her parents, Scheck says, “I hope to someday have a relationship again.”

11-21-18 US-Mexico border vigilante: 'They are invaders'
Security has been stepped up along the US border with Mexico, where thousands of migrants from Central America have arrived hoping to seek asylum. North of the border, some are strongly opposed. The BBC's Aleem Maqbool spoke to border vigilante Ken Lester, who described the migrants from Central America as "invaders".

11-21-18 US judge blocks Mississippi 15-week abortion ban
A US judge in the state of Mississippi has overturned an abortion ban that would have prevented women from getting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Republican Governor Phil Bryant enacted the ban in March, but the law was temporarily blocked in a lawsuit filed by the state's last abortion clinic. On Tuesday Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the ban "unequivocally" violated women's constitutional rights. Under current state law, women are allowed abortions until 20 weeks. In his decision, Judge Reeves criticised the state for seeking a legal battle with abortion rights advocates in an effort to revisit Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion nationwide, in federal court. "The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fuelled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade," he wrote. "This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature." The judge also pointed to medical consensus about when the foetus becomes vital, which typically begins at 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling means a similar 15-week ban will not be allowed to pass in neighbouring Louisiana, as that law was dependent on the outcome of Mississippi's ruling, the Clarion Ledger newspaper reported.

11-21-18 The colonization of space
Humanity is inching closer to establishing colonies on other worlds. Is it really feasible? (Webmaster's comment: Human beings will not do well in space. We are designed by evolution to survive and breed in a one g, low radation environment. 1/6 g on the moon and 1/3 g on Mars, and high radiation at both locations, will make successful raising of healthy children impossible. Their bodies will not grow as they should.)

  • What’s the timeline? The best guess is that humanity will set up shop on the moon or Mars or both sometime in the 2030s. NASA says it will develop the ability to establish a lunar colony within six years, but currently has no such plans. Russia says it will establish a lunar outpost by 2030.
  • Why would we do it? There are lots of practical reasons for a moon base. Private companies could mine the trillions of dollars’ worth of gold, platinum, rare Earth metals, and helium-3 under the lunar surface.
  • Where will we go first? The moon is a logical first step. It takes only a few days to get there, and such proximity allows for near-real-time communications and robotic remote control.
  • Can humans live on Mars? In theory. Mars has plenty of water, but it is concentrated in polar ice caps, atmospheric vapor, briny soil moisture, and subterranean lakes. The challenge is accessing it—and making it potable.
  • How much would it cost? A lot. NASA estimates it could pull off its lunar station for $10 billion, or roughly the cost of an aircraft carrier. As for Mars, any figure is purely hypothetical, since the necessary technology doesn’t exist.
  • What are the environments like? The airless moon is not very hospitable. Daytime lunar temperatures reach 250 degrees Fahrenheit in direct sunlight, and at night dip to minus 250. Mars is comparatively balmy, getting into the 60s during the day and around minus 81 at night. Mars has about 38 percent of Earth’s gravity—better than the weightless environment of space, but still potentially damaging to colonists’ muscles, bones, and brains.
  • A different breed of humans If humans do colonize space, there’s a chance they’ll come to act—and even look—different from earthlings. Cameron Smith, a Portland State University anthropologist, speculated that isolated colonies could develop unique languages and cultures—and perhaps evolve new biological traits—in as few as 300 years.

11-20-18 How Twitter bots get people to spread fake news
One tactic of automated accounts is to target people with many followers. To spread misinformation like wildfire, bots will strike a match on social media but then urge people to fan the flames. Automated Twitter accounts, called bots, helped spread bogus articles during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election by making the content appear popular enough that human users would trust it and share it more widely, researchers report online November 20 in Nature Communications. Although people have often suggested that bots help drive the spread of misinformation online, this study is one of the first to provide solid evidence for the role that bots play. The finding suggests that cracking down on devious bots may help fight the fake news epidemic (SN: 3/31/18, p. 14). Filippo Menczer, an informatics and computer scientist at Indiana University Bloomington, and colleagues analyzed 13.6 million Twitter posts from May 2016 to March 2017. All of these messages linked to articles on sites known to regularly publish false or misleading information. Menczer’s team then used Botometer, a computer program that learned to recognize bots by studying tens of thousands of Twitter accounts, to determine the likelihood that each account in the dataset was a bot. Unmasking the bots exposed how the automated accounts encourage people to disseminate misinformation. One strategy is to heavily promote a low-credibility article immediately after it’s published, which creates the illusion of popular support and encourages human users to trust and share the post. The researchers found that in the first few seconds after a viral story appeared on Twitter, at least half the accounts sharing that article were likely bots; once a story had been around for at least 10 seconds, most accounts spreading it were maintained by real people.

11-20-18 An exploding meteor may have wiped out ancient Dead Sea communities
Archaeologists at a site in what's now Jordan have found evidence of a cosmic calamity. A superheated blast from the skies obliterated cities and farming settlements north of the Dead Sea around 3,700 years ago, preliminary findings suggest. Radiocarbon dating and unearthed minerals that instantly crystallized at high temperatures indicate that a massive airburst caused by a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere instantaneously destroyed civilization in a 25-kilometer-wide circular plain called Middle Ghor, said archaeologist Phillip Silvia. The event also pushed a bubbling brine of Dead Sea salts over once-fertile farm land, Silvia and his colleagues suspect. People did not return to the region for 600 to 700 years, said Silvia, of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque. He reported these findings at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research on November 17. Excavations at five large Middle Ghor sites, in what’s now Jordan, indicate that all were continuously occupied for at least 2,500 years until a sudden, collective collapse toward the end of the Bronze Age. Ground surveys have located 120 additional, smaller settlements in the region that the researchers suspect were also exposed to extreme, collapse-inducing heat and wind. An estimated 40,000 to 65,000 people inhabited Middle Ghor when the cosmic calamity hit, Silvia said. (Webmaster's comment: Probably the source of the Biblical ‎Sodom and Gomorrah story.)

11-20-18 US migrant caravan: Trump's asylum ban halted by judge
A US federal judge has blocked an order issued by President Trump to deny the possibility of asylum to migrants crossing the southern border illegally. US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued the temporary restraining order after hearing arguments by civil rights groups. Mr Trump signed the order earlier this month in response to a caravan of migrants moving towards the border. He cited national interest concerns but was opposed by civil rights groups. Thousands of migrants from across Central America have been travelling north for weeks towards the US-Mexico border. They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. In the run-up to the US mid-term elections, President Trump said many of the migrants were criminals, called the caravan an invasion, and ordered troops to the border. He also repeatedly suggested it was politically motivated. Judge Tigar, in his ruling, said current legislation made it clear that any foreigner arriving in the US "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" could apply for asylum. He said Mr Trump's proclamation on 9 November was an "extreme departure" from prior practice. "Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Judge Tigar added. He was responding in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights. They argued that Mr Trump's ruling was illegal. The judge's restraining order comes into immediate effect and remains in place until a court hearing in December to decide on the case.

11-20-18 Transgender women in India: 'This is how we survive'
Transgender people in India were granted legal status in 2014 but many face discrimination and struggle to find work. According to activist Dr Santosh Kumar from the transgender rights group Rista, there are an estimated five million transgender people in India, commonly known as hijra - a definition that also includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, eunuchs and transvestites. While some businesses are becoming more inclusive, activists feel more needs to be done.

11-19-18 St Michaels: Alleged gang sex assault shocks Canada
Six teenage boys from an elite school have been charged with gang sexual assault after videos of alleged hazing incidents surfaced online. St Michael's College School, a private Catholic all-boys school in Toronto, expelled eight students last week in connection with the incidents. Police say they are investigating at least four separate assaults, two of which were sexual in nature. The school has been accused of turning a blind eye to hazing and bullying. The school received a bomb threat on Monday morning, just as police were giving a press conference on their investigation. Six teenage boys have been charged with assault, gang sex assault and sex assault with a weapon. Their identities have been withheld because they are minors. Canadian media first reported on the expulsions last week. CityNews says it saw two videos of alleged hazing incidents. In one of the videos, a male student is naked from the waist down in a locker room, and appears to be sexually assaulted with a broom handle. In another video, a male student sits in a bathroom sink in his underwear, while other students slap him and splash him with water, CityNews reported. Police say the videos meet the definition of child pornography. Dominic Sinopoli, who heads Toronto police's sex crimes unit, told media on Monday anyone in possession of the video should "delete it". Mr Sinopoli says he believes there are more videos and more victims, and is urging people to come forward if they have additional information. Meanwhile, St Michael's is initiating an independent investigation into the incidents. "We want to come out of this as leaders in understanding how to frame a culture so this doesn't occur," principal Greg Reeves told CBC News. (Webmaster's comment: Catholic schools train their male students early in the art of sexual assault!)

11-19-18 Anti-vaccine community behind North Carolina chickenpox outbreak
A North Carolina school with a large anti-vaccine community is at the heart of the state's largest chickenpox outbreak in decades, officials say. On Friday 36 students at Asheville Waldorf School were diagnosed with the disease, the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper reported. The school has one of the state's highest rates of religious exemption, allowing students to skip vaccination. US health officials say vaccinating is far safer than getting chickenpox. "This is the biggest chickenpox outbreak state health officials are aware of since the vaccine became available," a North Carolina Department of Health spokesman told the BBC in an emailed statement. Out of the Waldorf School's 152 students, 110 have not received the vaccine for the varicella virus, known to most as chickenpox, the Citizen-Times found. And 67.9% of the school's kindergarten students had religious immunisation exemptions on file in the 2017-2018 school year, according to state data. The primary school is fully co-operating with local health officials and is compliant with all North Carolina laws, a spokesperson for the school told the BBC. "We find that our parents are highly motivated to choose exactly what they want for their children. We, as a school, do not discriminate based on a child's medical history or medical condition." Buncombe County, home to the city of Asheville, with a population of over 250,000, has the highest rate of religious-based immunisation exemptions in the state. Local health officials are closely monitoring the situation, according to the county's health department. "We want to be clear: vaccination is the best protection from chickenpox," County Medical Director Dr Jennifer Mullendore said in a statement. "When we see high numbers of unimmunised children and adults, we know that an illness like chickenpox can spread easily throughout the community- into our playgrounds, grocery stores, and sports teams." North Carolina law requires certain immunisations, including chickenpox, measles and mumps for kindergarteners, but the state allows for medical and religious exemptions. (Webmaster's comment: THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN RELIGIOUS IGNORANCE DECIDES. SICK CHILDREN.)

11-19-18 Migrant caravan: Angry protests in Mexico's Tijuana
Hundreds of demonstrators protested in the Mexican city of Tijuana over the arrival of Central American migrants hoping to seek asylum in the US. Some 400 migrants made it to the border city last week after travelling mostly on foot as part of a larger caravan. Anti-migrant protesters clashed with both police and pro-migrant demonstrators on Sunday.

11-19-18 Chinese erotic novelist jailed for 10 years for gay sex scenes
A Chinese writer has been given a 10 year sentence for writing and selling a novel which featured gay sex scenes. The writer, identified as Liu, was jailed by a court in Anhui province last month for producing and selling "obscene material". Her novel, titled "Occupation", featured "male homosexual behaviour... including perverted sexual acts like violation and abuse." But her lengthy jail term has sparked protest across Chinese social media. According to the Beijing News, Liu - better known by her online alias Tian Yi - has now filed an appeal to the court. Pornography is illegal in China. On 31 October, Liu was sentenced to jail by the People's Court of Wuhu for making and selling "obscene material" for profit, according to local news site Wuhu news. However, details of the hearing only emerged on Chinese media outlets this week. Police officials were first alerted to her novel after it started to gain popularity online. But many social media users argued that the sentence she received was excessive. "10 years for a novel? That's too much," said one social media user on Weibo. Another referenced an incident in 2013, where a former official was sentenced to eight years in prison for raping a four year old girl. "Those found guilty of rape get less than 10 years in jail. This writer gets 10 years," another Weibo user added.

11-18-18 Jonestown: Rebuilding my life after surviving the massacre
Sunday 18 November is the 40th anniversary of the notorious Jonestown massacre where more than 900 people died at a settlement run by Christian cult leader Jim Jones. Ahead of the anniversary, one survivor - Laura Johnston Kohl - spoke to the BBC about how she narrowly escaped death, and how she and others have rebuilt their lives in the decades since. Growing up in Washington DC in the 1950s and 1960s, Laura Johnson was no stranger to activism. By 1970, when she joined the Peoples Temple in California aged 22, she had already been tear-gassed protesting against the Vietnam war, worked with the Black Panthers and attended the famous 1969 Woodstock festival. "My life was in turmoil, I had a failed marriage and I was looking for a place to be political in a safer environment after a series of bad decisions," she recalls. She attended a few meetings at the group's headquarters in Redwood Valley in northern California and was soon won over by their ideals of benevolence and racial equality. Jim Jones, a charismatic Christian preacher, had set up the People's Temple as a racially-integrated church group in Indianapolis in 1956 before relocating to California a decade later. Jones spoke of an impending nuclear apocalypse, and believed his separatist "apostolic socialist" community could thrive in the aftermath. The group, although religious, was founded on socialist ideals - providing healthcare and other social services for its diverse members. "It was the community I was looking for - I was looking for equality and justice, and there were people of all backgrounds and races," Laura says. "In 1974, the cult leader Jim Jones said he wanted us to find a place away from all the drugs and alcohol in America," she recalls. (Webmaster's comment: Instead he found them a place to be killed by poison and bullets.)

11-17-18 Is there any hope for resolving society's deep disagreements?
What happens when you can't agree on the facts? Consider how one should respond to a simple case of disagreement. Frank sees a bird in the garden and believes it's a finch. Standing beside him, Gita sees the same bird, but she's confident it's a sparrow. What response should we expect from Frank and Gita? If Frank's response were: "Well, I saw it was a finch, so you must be wrong," then that would be irrationally stubborn — and annoying — of him. (The same goes for Gita, of course.) Instead, both should become less confident in their judgment. The reason such a conciliatory response to a disagreement is often desired is reflected in ideals about open-mindedness and intellectual humility: When learning of our differences with fellow citizens, the open-minded and intellectually humble person is willing to consider changing his or her mind. Our disagreements on a societal level are much more complex, and can require a different response. One particularly pernicious form of disagreement arises when we not only disagree about individual facts, as in Frank and Gita's case, but also disagree about how best to form beliefs about those facts, that is, about how to gather and assess evidence in proper ways. This is deep disagreement, and it's the form that most societal disagreements take. Understanding these disagreements will not inspire optimism about our ability to find consensus. Consider a case of deep disagreement. Amy believes that a particular homeopathic treatment will cure her common fever. Ben disagrees. But Amy and Ben's disagreement doesn't stop here. Amy believes that there is solid evidence for her claim, resting on the basic principles of homeopathy, which claims that pathogenic substances dissolved almost indefinitely in water can cure diseases, as well as testimony she got from experienced homeopaths whom she trusts. Ben believes that any medical intervention should be tested in randomized controlled studies, and that no sound inferences are to be drawn from homeopathic principles, since they are shown to be false by the principles of physics and chemistry. He also believes that apparently successful treatments reported by homeopaths present no solid evidence for their efficacy. Some of our most worrying societal disagreements are deep disagreements, or at least they share certain features of deep disagreements. Those who sincerely deny climate change also dismiss the relevant methods and evidence, and question the authority of the scientific institutions telling us that the climate is changing. Climate skeptics have insulated themselves from any evidence that would otherwise be rationally compelling. One can find similar patterns of selective distrust in scientific evidence and institutions in social disagreements over the safety of vaccines and genetically modified crops, as well as in conspiracy theories, which are extreme cases of deep disagreements.

11-17-18 Sabarimala: Why has a Hindu temple divided India's women?
It's been more than a month since India's Supreme Court revoked a ban on women aged between 10 and 51 entering a prominent Hindu temple in southern India. Yet no women have been able to enter so far. The Sabarimala temple in Kerala state officially opened its gates on Friday evening, the start of the annual pilgrimage season. The temple had also opened for a few hours twice after the court verdict. But ever since the ban was repealed, tens of thousands of protesters, including many women, have blocked roads, attacked female devotees and vandalised property in a bid to stop women from entering the shrine. They say that they are protecting their deity in accordance with an age-old belief that women of a menstruating age are a threat to his celibacy. A debate around this has been raging in the rest of the country as well. (Webmaster's comment: And we thought Christianity was a dark age religion.)

11-17-18 Jim Acosta row: Donald Trump threat over reporters' behaviour
Donald Trump has threatened to walk out of future press briefings if reporters do not act with "decorum". The US president was speaking after a Washington DC court ordered the White House to return CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press pass after it was revoked by the US Secret Service. Mr Acosta's press pass was taken after he clashed with the president during a news conference earlier this month. Mr Trump played down the ruling, saying it wasn't "a big deal". But, he said, "people have to behave", adding his staff were "writing up rules and regulations" for the press to abide by, including sticking to the agreed number of questions. "If they don't listen to the rules and regulations we'll end up back in court and will win," Mr Trump said. "But more importantly, we'll just leave, and then you won't be very happy." "You can't take three questions and four questions and just stand up and not sit down," he added. "Decorum. You have to practice decorum." Speaking outside the court earlier in the day, Mr Acosta praised the decision and told reporters "let's go back to work". The judge said the White House decision likely violated the journalist's right to due process and freedom of speech. The ruling forces the White House press office to temporarily return Mr Acosta's "hard pass", the credential that allows reporters easy access to the White House and other presidential events. Mr Acosta's lawyer called the ruling "a great day for the first amendment and journalism". (Webmaster's comment: Being able to ask questions of the President is the constitutional right of all of us.)

11-16-18 Media: Trump targets an old enemy
Last week marked “an outrageous ramping up” of President Trump’s attack on the press, said Jane Merrick in A noticeably testy Trump lashed out at three black journalists, deriding one, a PBS reporter, for a “racist”question when she asked if he had emboldened white nationalists. Earlier in the week, Trump accused CNN’s Jim Acosta of being a “rude, terrible” person after Acosta pressed him with questions about the Central American migrant caravan—then followed up by revoking Acosta’s White House pass. To justify the punishment, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders distributed a video of an intern reaching for Acosta’s microphone, sped up to look as if Acosta “karate-chopped” her arm. “Disseminating lies and smears” against a journalist “evokes George Orwell’s 1984.” Trump is threatening to bar more reporters, said Erik Wemple in, including CNN contributor April Ryan, whom he called a “loser.” This form of censorship is a truly “authoritarian gesture.” There are two beneficiaries of “the vicious cycle of Trump fighting the press,” said Alexandra DeSanctis in Trump and the press. Acosta is delighted to be at the center of attention, and journalists who’ve rushed to his defense are eager to take up the cause of the Resistance. Trump, meanwhile, will continue to seek out clashes with self-righteous reporters, which help the White House “bolster its narrative of a hostile, disingenuous press corps.” It won’t work for Acosta to turn himself into a “self-important martyr,” said Bre Peyton in His “badgering and sexist behavior” were caught on tape, so “when Trump calls him ‘fake news,’ it’s much easier now for the American people to get behind the message.” Trump was just sour over Democrats’ success in the midterm elections, said Jack Shafer in “Hungry to spend his fury on someone or something,” he turned to a familiar punching bag. Trump treats journalists “as if they were his employees,” and he probably fires Acosta “daily in his mind.” When it comes to the press pass, however, the law is on Acosta’s side. A federal judge in 1977 ruled that the Nixon administration violated a reporter’s rights by barring him from the White House. Now CNN has invoked that precedent in a lawsuit demanding Acosta’s credentials be reissued. Trump can bully and duck reporters all he wants, but he “can’t fire CNN.”

11-16-18 How they see us: Trump seeks no friends in Europe
U.S. President Donald Trump sulked and scowled his way through ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I this week, said Guillaume Errard in Le Figaro (France). Before he even disembarked in France, Trump had fired off an angry tweet lambasting his host, French President Emmanuel Macron, for saying Europe needed its own army. At a reception with Macron the following morning, the U.S. president insisted the two were still friends, “but the stage had been set.” Skipping an appearance to honor U.S. war dead because of a little rain, Trump “had nothing on his schedule” all afternoon until a dinner gala at the Musée d’Orsay, and even there, he sneaked in through the back, avoiding the other guests. The next day, rather than walk in the rain down the Champs-Élysées with some 60 other world leaders, Trump kept dry and aloof by being driven to the Arc de Triomphe for the ceremony. As a final “swipe at Macron,” he skipped the French president’s Peace Forum and went to a cemetery for American soldiers instead, calling that outing his best moment of the trip. This is yet another sign that the U.S. and European Union are headed for “divorce,” said Sylvie Kaufmann in Le Monde (France). Trump has already pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate treaty and the Iran nuclear deal—two pacts European leaders worked hard on—and he never misses a chance to bash NATO members for failing to spend enough on their militaries. Most distressing in this breakup, though, is the realization that Trump “no longer shares Europe’s values”: human rights, democracy, and a free press. And it’s not just Trump—it’s the Americans who elected him, said Stefan Kornelius in Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). This is a president “who has unleashed the mob, who lies and instigates on a mission of destruction.” His America “would rather call a few thousand Latino refugees an invasion than allow the FBI to investigate the thousands of homegrown, violent right-wing extremists and anti-Semites.” America won’t be a partner for Europe until it exorcises its demons.

11-16-18 Mass shootings: Sign of a damaged culture
“Another week, another mass shooting,” said Tiana Lowe in The site of the massacre this time was a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a Marine veteran murdered 12 people—including an armed police officer responding to the attack—before turning his handgun on himself. Some speculated that the shooter, 28-year-old Ian David Long, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a 4½-year military stint that included a combat tour in Afghanistan. But “his problems clearly predated his service”: In high school, he allegedly assaulted a female track coach. We’re all part of “the American shooting lottery” now, said Adam Gopnik in Some survivors in Thousand Oaks had also escaped the Las Vegas shooting last year that killed 58 people and wounded some 850 more; one man, Telemachus Orfanos, survived Las Vegas only to be murdered in the bar. “Americans may soon start congratulating one another on how many near misses they have endured, with ‘Missed Me!’ bumper stickers and ‘I Survived My Third Gun Massacre This Year and All I Got Was This T-Shirt’ T-shirts.” Just hours before this latest slaughter, said Dr. Judy Melinek in, the National Rifle Association had the gall to warn the American College of Physicians, which had voiced alarm at gun carnage, to “stay in your lane.” My lane? As a forensic pathologist, I have performed more than 300 autopsies on firearms victims and have faced dozens of heartbroken kin. Every day, my medical colleagues pull bullets out of men, women, and children. Doctors “didn’t choose this fight,” but we are in a “unique position to understand the scale of human suffering caused by guns.” More gun control wouldn’t have stopped this tragedy, said David French in The NRA has already “been thoroughly routed in California,” and the state’s strict firearms control regime “exceeds even the dreams of most national Democrats.” The real reason we keep seeing mass shooting after mass shooting—in states with strict gun laws, and lax—is because such massacres are a contagion. Each new atrocity lowers the threshold for the next, with “more people considering committing mass murder as a way of addressing their grievances.” We need to figure out why our nation “is generating an excess of broken, damaged people” willing to inflict horrific pain on their neighbors and friends. “Until then, we’ll spend our days yelling at each other about policy proposals” that really won’t help.

11-16-18 More Hate Crimes
Reported hate crimes rose 17 percent in the U.S. last year to 7,175, according to the FBI—the third consecutive year the numbers have increased. Anti-Semitic hate crimes climbed by 37 percent last year, and anti–Hispanic and Latino crimes went up by 24 percent.

11-16-18 All-time high
The number of people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hit an all-time high of 44,631 last month, about 4,000 more people than Congress has allotted funding for. Faced with a similar funding shortfall earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security moved $100 million from other areas of its budget—including the Federal Emergency Management Agency—to ICE.

11-16-18 Heroic guard killed by cops
Jemel Roberson successfully apprehended a shooter this week at a suburban Chicago nightclub where he worked as a security guard, only to be fatally shot by police. After an early-morning shooting left four injured, an armed Roberson, 26, pinned the gunman on the ground outside as he waited for police. A white officer fired multiple shots at Roberson, who was black. The officer, a seven-year veteran of the Midlothian Police Department, is on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Roberson’s family sued the officer and the village of Midlothian, calling the shooting “unprovoked” and “unreasonable.” Illinois State Police say that some witnesses claim Roberson received multiple orders to drop his gun and get on the ground. He had a 9-month-old son, and Roberson’s partner is pregnant with their second child.

11-16-18 Taking personal responsibility
Taking personal responsibility, after Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey blamed God for the fact that he missed two field goals and two extra points during this week’s game. “My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ makes no mistakes,” Parkey said. “For whatever reason, that was the day I was supposed to have.”

11-16-18 Ex-Dallas Cowboy Jeff Rohrer to wed same-sex partner
A former Dallas Cowboys football player will make history this weekend when he becomes the first ever NFL player to marry a man. Jeff Rohrer, a former linebacker for the Texas American football team, publicly came out as gay on Wednesday. "If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately," Rohrer told the New York Times. "It was a different world back then. People didn't want to hear that." Rohrer, 59, will marry his partner of three years, Joshua Ross, 36, who grew up near the Texas stadium where Rohrer used to play throughout his professional sports career in the 1980s. Three decades later, Rohrer has gone on to become a successful director of TV commercials. His partner is a famous skin-care expert and aesthetician from West Hollywood, who appeared on last season's reality TV programme, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. LGBT sports website Outsports reports that 11 NFL players have come out as gay - no-one during their professional career. Only eight ever played in a regular season game. "I've given at least five people heart attacks with this news," Rohrer told the Times. "But for the most part, many of my closest friends, including some of my former teammates with the Cowboys, could not have been more happy and supportive."

11-16-18 Voters know they need higher wages
Voters in Arkansas “aren’t dumb,” said the Texarkana Gazette. Sure, they might be “reliably red,” but when they hear the “same old” conservative argument that raising the minimum wage would create job losses and higher prices, they aren’t buying it. What voters see are their own daily struggles. “And they know that despite the soaring economy, high corporate profits, and rising executive compensation, not much has trickled down for them.” That’s why Arkansas voters passed a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage, to $8.50, in 2014. And why they did it again last week, with 68 percent of Arkansans voting to bring it up to $11 an hour by 2021. Another red state, Missouri, did the same, with residents hiking the minimum wage from $7.85 an hour to $12 by 2023. The initiatives will boost earnings for 300,000 workers in Arkansas and 677,000 in Missouri. Citizens had to turn to ballot initiatives because legislators merely pay “lip service” to their constituents. “Both business and lawmakers failed to pay attention to—or worse, just didn’t care about—the very real struggles of low-income Arkansans.” The lesson here is that if workers are ignored, they can take their case directly to the public.

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 limits 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 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, 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, 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 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 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.)

98 Atheism News & Humanism News Articles
for November 2018

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for October 2018