You are not Alone!
37 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for March 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
3-31-16 Mapping safe toilets for transgender Americans
Mapping safe toilets for transgender Americans
For most, the act of going to the bathroom is an unremarkable part of their daily routines. However, for transgender people, fear of harassment makes this small decision a tough obstacle. In North Carolina a recent law has been introduced requiring people to only use bathrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth. Web designer Emily Waggoner was "devastated" by the new legislation, and decided to do something to help those in need of a safe location to use non-gendered bathrooms. Waggoner created a map peppered with small toilet roll icons, showing the locations of businesses that have declared their facilities safe for those who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming.
3-30-16 How Ted Cruz made a mockery of Republicans' religious freedom arguments
How Ted Cruz made a mockery of Republicans' religious freedom arguments
First he called for putting Muslims under surveillance. Then he called for greater religious liberty. Come again? The Republican Party, which has accused "liberal elites" of waging a "war on religion," last week dispatched its leading lights to the rhetorical battlefields in a religious war of its own making. On March 22, Americans awoke to the news of the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels, which should have prompted calls for solidarity coupled with rational and effective law enforcement. But for Ted Cruz — who has made religious liberty a central focus of his campaign — it was instead an opportunity to propose an unconstitutional and dangerous program for targeting American Muslims. The two Republican presidential frontrunners are engaged in a sordid one-upmanship of who can more blatantly scapegoat American Muslims. For Donald Trump and Cruz, it's an essential part of the gladiator politics that have come to define the GOP primary. Trump has said "Islam hates us" and notoriously proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. Cruz has called for all Syrian Muslims to be banned from the entering the U.S., but for Syrian Christians to be allowed in. So after the Brussels attack last week, Cruz said, "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." Uncharacteristically agreeable, Trump called the unconstitutional proposal a "good idea." (Webmaster's comment: So much for Freedom of Religion in America. Let's throw out the Constititution and have a Christian Religious State just like the Islamic Religious States in the Middle East. Hitler would have loved it.)
3-30-16 Global health group takes on gay conversion therapy
Global health group takes on gay conversion therapy
The world's largest organisation for psychiatrists - the World Psychiatric Association - has announced their opposition to the so-called practice of "gay conversion" or "reparative" therapy, declaring it unethical, unscientific and harmful to those who undergo it. Experiences like Ferguson's have led the World Psychiatric Association to officially condemn the practice of reparative therapy. "There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed," the group said in a statement released this month. "Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful. The provision of any intervention purporting to 'treat' something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical."
3-30-16 Backlash grows against N Carolina's discrimination law
Backlash grows against N Carolina's discrimination law
Eighty businesses have joined a growing backlash against a new North Carolina law ending anti-discrimination protections across the state. Bank of America, based in Charlotte, has joined dozens of major firms publicly objecting to the law. It also means transgender people must use bathrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates. Republican Governor Pat McCrory said the law was protecting privacy and based on common sense. New York, Vermont, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle have banned travel by public employees to the state as a form of protest. Signed last Wednesday, the law HB2 provides a new anti-discrimination policy that excludes protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.
3-29-16 Eyeless cave shrimp senses light and can live frozen in ice
Eyeless cave shrimp senses light and can live frozen in ice
The tiny crustacean's superpowers include "seeing" even though it's got no eyes, and living on even after being frozen alive in its icy cave habitat. Deep in the ice caves of the Shawangunk Ridge in New York state lives a tiny crustacean with unique abilities. Despite being eyeless, it can still detect some wavelengths of visible light. And it has no problem with being frozen solid during the frigid winters.
3-28-16 Governor of Georgia vetoes 'religious freedom' bill
Governor of Georgia vetoes 'religious freedom' bill
The governor of the US state of Georgia has vetoed a "religious freedom" bill after facing pressure from business interests. The bill would have allowed faith-based organisations to refuse service to gay and transgender people. Disney, the National Football League, Coca-Cola and others threatened to pull business out of the state. The veto comes as other US states enacted similar laws that limit gay rights.
3-25-16 A drug company goes septic
A drug company goes septic
“The drama at Valeant just won’t stop,” said Erik Holm in The Wall Street Journal. The embattled drug giant, once a Wall Street darling, is in the midst of a full-fledged meltdown. Over the past two weeks, Valeant has slashed its earnings forecast, warned that it could default on roughly $30 billion of debt, ousted its CEO, and accused its former CFO of “improper conduct.” All the while, Valeant shares, which rose fivefold between 2011 and 2014, have dropped off a cliff. “America hasn’t had a spectacular corporate disaster since Lehman Brothers in 2008,” said The Economist. But the implosion at Valeant checks all the boxes: shady accounting practices, a weak board, mountains of debt, and absurdly paid managers “with a mentality of denial.” Instead of focusing on developing its own drugs, Valeant relied on “buying other drug firms, cutting costs, and yanking up prices.” Investors loved the lean, profit-driven approach, but “a strategy based on squeezing customers was bound to encounter political hostility.” Federal prosecutors are now looking into the company’s practices. Valeant’s shares have dropped almost 90 percent from their August high, a $75 billion loss for shareholders.
3-24-16 North Carolina revokes transgender and gay protections
North Carolina revokes transgender and gay protections
The US state of North Carolina has enacted a law that bars its cities and counties from having their own anti-discrimination rules. Legislators pushed for the bill after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms according to gender identity. A Republican-controlled General Assembly voted on Wednesday to invalidate the ordinance. The governor, who signed the bill, called it a matter of "basic privacy".
3-23-16 The GOP needs more Mormons
The GOP needs more Mormons
With Donald Trump's massive loss in Utah on Tuesday (with 85 percent of precincts reporting, the GOP's national frontrunner has a meager 14 percent of the vote, coming in a distant third to Ted Cruz and John Kasich), Trump has finally met his match — the force in the Republican Party that can stop his populist juggernaut in its tracks. The secret to bringing the demagogue to his knees? Mormons. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make up nearly 63 percent of Utah's population, while Idaho and Wyoming (where Trump lost by large margins in earlier contests) rank second and third, respectively, for states with highest proportion of Mormons.
3-21-16 Three big reasons why U.S. men have a shorter life expectancy
Three big reasons why U.S. men have a shorter life expectancy
Guns, drugs, cars. Sounds like a formula for an action movie, but the list may explain why American men don’t live as long as men in other high-income countries. In the United States, average life expectancy among men is 76.4 years — about two years shorter than men who live in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and nine other countries. Deaths due to injuries are the reason for much of the gap, researchers report in the Feb. 9 JAMA. An analysis of U.S. and World Health Organization data revealed that deaths from injuries due to firearms, drug poisonings and auto crashes account for 48 percent of the difference in men’s life expectancies. These causes of death are less of a problem for American women, the researchers found. (Webmaster's comment: Note the comparison with other countries! Freedom and Liberty combined with American Male Stupidity have a high cost!)
3-22-16 A pedophilia scandal is engulfing the oldest Catholic institution in France
A pedophilia scandal is engulfing the oldest Catholic institution in France
Instead, on March 15, the French media descended on the pilgrimage site in southwestern France, which is hosting a conference of the country's bishops. The journalists came to grill Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who, as bearer of the ancient title "primat des Gaules," is France's most prominent Catholic cleric. As the cardinal of Lyon, France's second largest city, he runs a diocese rocked by a series of sexual abuse scandals. (The diocese of Lyons is also the oldest Catholic institution in France, stretching back to the Gallo-Roman period.) With the cicada-like clatter of clicking cameras, Barbarin declared he had "never, never, never" hid any act of pedophilia committed by his priests. Staring hard through his severe wire-rimmed glasses, Barbarin observed that none of these acts had happened under his watch. Besides, he noted, these crimes had passed the statute of limitations, so they could not be prosecuted. (Webmaster's comment: Again a Get Out Of Jail Free Card for Catholic Priests!)
3-18-16 Blind faith
Blind faith, after a religious “prophet” in South Africa decided to “challenge” a pride of feeding lions only to have part of his buttock bitten off. “I thought the Lord wanted to use me to show his power over animals,” Alec Ndiwane said from the hospital. (Webmaster's comment: Equivalent to the America's Religious Poisonous Snake Handlers who believe God will protect them but get bitten and die. Religious Nuts are Everywhere!)
3-18-16 Germany: A surge of support for the far right
Germany: A surge of support for the far right
Voters have given German Chancellor Angela Merkel “a bloody nose,” said David Charter in The Times (U.K.). The far-right, populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), running on an anti-immigration platform, gained seats in all three of the German states that held local elections this week. In the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, the party took nearly a quarter of the vote, losing only to Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats. AfD could hardly be more extreme: Its policy is to accept zero migrants, and it once proposed shooting them at the border. Ominously, the AfD’s gains came at the expense of the Christian Democrats and the other main party, the center-left Social Democrats. It’s a clear rebuke to Merkel’s acceptance last year of 1 million refugees fleeing Syria and other war zones, and her insistence on taking in even more. (Webmaster's comment: It begins again in the same country it did 85 years ago.)
3-18-16 Our failed war on terrorism
Our failed war on terrorism
“What strategy should the United States pursue to counter the problem posed by violent radical Islam?” asked Andrew Bacevich. That question has been strangely absent from the presidential campaign, aside from some nonsensical threats to carpet bomb ISIS out of existence. Terrorism is an outgrowth of the severe political and economic dysfunction of the Islamic world, exacerbated by sectarian hatreds and deep resentment of the U.S. and Israel. For more than a decade now, the U.S. has tried to eradicate terrorism by bombing, invading, occupying, and nation building. Our forces have killed hundreds of thousands of people, while suffering tens of thousands of casualties and spending trillions. And yet we have accomplished “next to nothing.” Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan are chaotic, and there are more Islamic radicals today than in 2001. To play a truly constructive role, the U.S. needs to convince young Muslims that their faith can be reconciled with modern life, and that “peaceful coexistence with the West” is possible. This approach will no doubt take “decades or even generations” to succeed. “But who really thinks more bombs will yield a better outcome?”
3-16-16 Anders Breivik: Just how cushy are Norwegian prisons?
Anders Breivik: Just how cushy are Norwegian prisons?
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, is arguing that conditions in the prison where he is held violate his human rights. Many Norwegian prisons, on the other hand, are seen by foreigners as extremely cushy. Lars Bevanger describes a system referred to by one American visitor as "prison utopia". When criminals in Norway leave prison, they tend to stay out. Norway's recidivism rate of 20% is one of the lowest in the world. By contrast in the UK it's about 45%, while in the US more than 76% of prisoners are re-arrested within five years. (Webmaster's comment: The bottom line! Rehabilitation works! Punishment, Revenge, Retribution and Retaliation does not. And we're paying for it again and again and again.)
3-14-16 The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
While many tech moguls dream of changing the way we live with new smart devices or social media apps, one Russian internet millionaire is trying to change nothing less than our destiny, by making it possible to upload a human brain to a computer, reports Tristan Quinn. "Within the next 30 years," promises Dmitry Itskov, "I am going to make sure that we can all live forever." It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. "I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it," he says. (Webmaster's comment: Science is going to beat death. It's only a matter of time.)
3-14-16 Actor's Gang: How Tim Robbins has cut reoffending rates
Actor's Gang: How Tim Robbins has cut reoffending rates
In California, six out of 10 inmates will return to prison within three years of being released. But a drama workshop run in prisons by Hollywood actor Tim Robbins appears to cut this recidivism rate in half - by giving prisoners a chance to explore their emotions, and to gain some control over them. In the Actor's Gang workshop, prisoners put on the clothes and make-up of characters from a type of theatre called commedia dell'arte - such as Pierrot, Harlequin or Columbine - and start improvising. "We demand the truth from them by asking them to play a character to express extreme emotion, we encourage them to use their imagination," says Tim Robbins. "They are playing so they can express the incredible rage they feel through these characters and they can express the intense sorrow and true fear they have, and the joy that's still there."
3-11-16 When your veins fill with ice
When your views fill with ice
The Arctic ground squirrel can survive even if its body temperature drops below the freezing point of water. We are still unravelling the mysteries of these amazing animals that freeze. For one species in particular, doing so could prove significant. Several scientists are trying to work out how the Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) became the only known warm-blooded mammal to be able to tolerate subzero body temperatures. Solving the mystery could hold the key to freezing human organs for transplant without damaging them. It might even provide a boost for the controversial field of cryonics, in which human corpses are put into deep freeze in the hope that they can be returned to life with future medical advances. (Webmaster's comment: More evidence that restoring life after being frozen for more than 100 years is likely to be possible.)
3-11-16 The GOP: Tracing the roots of Trumpism
The GOP: Tracing the roots of Trumpism
“The chickens come home to roost. Hoisted on your own petard. You reap what you sow.” The clichés abound, said David Corn in MotherJones.com, but they all come down to the same thing: The Republican Party elite created the monster that is Donald Trump, and is now watching helplessly as the bombastic New York City billionaire tears the Grand Old Party apart. For years, Republican leaders “exploited the climate of hate in which Trump’s candidacy has taken root.” They portrayed President Obama as an “anti-colonialist Kenyan” and “secret Muslim” who deliberately tried to ruin the country. They “adopted a political strategy of never-ending obstructionism,” and winked at the racism and birtherism of the Tea Party base. Now the base is wildly cheering Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants and the deportation of 12 million Hispanics, said Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post. So why do Republican leaders seem so appalled? Mitt Romney last week condemned Trump as a phony and a fraud and begged Republicans not to vote for him. Rewind to 2012, when presidential candidate Romney gleefully accepted Trump’s endorsement, even though Trump had spent months leading the birther movement. While pandering for votes, Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and other prominent Republicans have dog whistled on immigrants, Muslims, and blacks; Trump merely chose to say “plainly what they were hinting at for years”—and in doing so, “hit the jackpot.” (Webmaster's comment: And a YouGov poll finds that 20-37% of Trump supporters still support not freeing the slaves. Many Trump supporters are the dregs of humanity.)
3-11-16 Trump: Fears over his foreign policy
Trump: Fears over his foreign policy
“Is there any scarier nightmare than President Donald J. Trump in a tense international crisis with his sweaty finger on the nuclear trigger?” asked Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Nope, which is why more than 100 conservative national security experts last week signed an open letter expressing horror over the incoherent mishmash that passes for Trump’s foreign policy positions. Trump has said he “would unleash ISIS” to topple the Assad regime, giving terrorists full control of Syria, and has suggested the U.S. bomb North Korean nuclear sites. Trump says he’d be “tough,” said Benjamin Wittes in LawfareBlog.com, but when Russian dictator Vladimir Putin praised the Republican front-runner, Trump slobbered all over him like a grateful dog. Trump’s poisonous proposals to ban all Muslim immigrants from the U.S. and to kill terrorists’ families, meanwhile, would serve as “a major recruiting tool” for ISIS and other radical groups. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is advocating the murder of innocent men, women and children.)
3-11-16 It's going to get bad, real bad!
It's going to get bad, real bad!
Cleveland is shopping for riot gear. As the host of the Republican National Convention in July, the city has solicited bids for 2,000 sets of “Elite Defender” police riot suits, 26-inch collapsible batons, and thousands of interlocking steel barricades. That equipment may get heavy use if Republican leaders succeed in their desperate plan to wrest the presidential nomination away from Donald Trump at a contested convention. (See Main Stories.) A contested convention promises to be, let us say, colorful, given the atmosphere at Trump rallies: Black and Muslim protesters are routinely pushed around, kicked, and dragged away with the full encouragement of Trump, who says that such “disgusting” people deserve to be taken away “on stretchers.” If Trump is denied the nomination in Cleveland, a Trump aide warned this week, his supporters “will burn the place down.” Any further questions? Even if Trump wins the nomination outright, Peter Beinart pointed out last week in TheAtlantic.com, our country “is headed toward a confrontation the likes of which it has not seen since 1968.” The prospect of an authoritarian race-baiter in the White House will stir up real panic, and the raucous rallies of white, working-class Trumpists in every state will draw equally energetic protests from Hispanics, Black Lives Matter activists, and young leftists. What then? Katie Packer has an inkling. A Republican strategist who heads a Super PAC devoted to stopping Trump, Packer is inundated every day with dozens of emailed and tweeted threats to kill her, her family, and her dog—“the most hateful vitriol that I’ve ever encountered in 25 years of politics.” Trump, Packer says, has liberated people who “used to feel like they needed to keep quiet because what they say isn’t acceptable in polite society.” The months to come will be fascinating, dramatic, and historic. But they won’t be polite, and they won’t be pretty.
3-11-16 The Left’s fashionable anti-Semitism
The Left’s fashionable anti-Semitism
On university campuses in Europe and the U.S., said Roger Cohen, leftists are suffering from “anti-Zionism derangement syndrome.” The co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club, Alex Chalmers, recently quit over his disgust with the rampant anti-Semitism among the group’s members and liberals on campus. Prominent Labour Party leaders at Oxford, he said, now casually use the anti-Jewish slur “Zio,” and express support for Hamas’ tactics of “indiscriminately murdering civilians.’’ In the “liberation politics” of the far left, Palestinians are viewed as oppressed people of color, while Israelis are white, privileged “colonialists.” Even the Jews’ historical claim to victimhood is considered “dubious.” Now, criticism of Israeli policy in the West Bank is entirely legitimate, and Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians “should trouble every Jewish conscience.” But Jews have been present in the Holy Land for thousands of years, and the United Nations created Israel only after “murderous European anti-Semitism” led to the annihilation of 6 million Jews. Survivors migrated there because of the “conviction that only a Jewish homeland could keep them safe.” The rising tide of fashionable anti-Semitism in Europe only proves they were right.
3-11-16 School shootings are the result of teaching evolution
School shootings are the result of teaching evolution
A leading candidate for the Texas Board of Education has claimed that President Obama worked as a gay prostitute and that school shootings are the result of teaching evolution. Retired teacher Mary Lou Bruner, 68, has also called for a ban on Islam in America. “I don’t intend to apologize,” said Bruner, who will help determine curricula and the content of textbooks, “because I still believe my statements were accurate.”
3-11-16 Cruz—a religious conservative fiercely opposed to gay marriage
Cruz—a religious conservative fiercely opposed to gay marriage
Caitlyn Jenner drew fierce criticism from LGBT activists after she hailed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz as “a great constitutionalist” and offered to serve as his “trans ambassador.” Jenner, a lifelong Republican, admitted that Cruz—a religious conservative fiercely opposed to gay marriage—is “probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues,” but thinks she can bring the Texas senator around. Jenner’s comments sparked widespread outrage in the LGBT community. “We simply cannot afford to have Caitlyn Jenner supporting people who hate us,” said trans activist Cherno Biko.
3-11-16 Ban Gay-Straight Alliance formed by high school students
Ban Gay-Straight Alliance formed by high school students
Angry parents in Tennessee are calling for a ban on all after-school clubs to eliminate a Gay-Straight Alliance formed by high school students. “If we do not band together and stop this B.S.,” said one parent, “the next thing you know they will have F.I.M.A. (Future ISIS Members of America).” The school board is considering new policies for student organizations.
3-11-16 How Kenya's 'gay love' video ban backfired
How Kenya's 'gay love' video ban backfired
In a country where homosexual acts are illegal, a music video about gay love was so controversial that Kenya's media watchdog tried to ban it. But as BBC Trending reports the censors attempt to stop people watching didn't quite go as planned.
3-8-16 Mexico leader Pena Nieto likens Trump tone to Hitler's
Mexico leader Pena Nieto likens Trump tone to Hitler's
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has compared the rhetoric of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to that of German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has compared the rhetoric of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to that of German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. He added that "that's how [Italian fascist leader] Mussolini got in, that's how Hitler got in". Mr Trump, who has made the fight against illegal immigration the main plank of his campaign, outraged Mexicans last June when he called undocumented Mexican migrants "criminals" and "rapists". (Webmaster's comment: Trump says and advocates the same kinds of things that Hitler said and advocated before coming to power in 1933. Afterward that Hitler got much, much worse. If Trump wins he will try to create a dictatorship with the support of America's losers, the angry, hate-filled white lower middle-class Christians. As many as 37% of his supporters believe we should never have freed the slaves according to a YouGov poll.)
3-7-16 Five most damning films about Catholic child abuse
Five most damning films about Catholic child abuse
The clergy child-abuse scandal roiling the Roman Catholic church hasn't always been front-page news, but, over the years, it's been thoroughly recorded on film. Here's how five acclaimed documentaries or fact-based docudramas have deftly handled the explosive topic since 1992: "Deliver Us From Evil" "The Boys of St. Vincent" "Hand of God" "Sex Crimes of the Vatican" "Twist of Faith" (Webmaster's comment: Least we forget.)
3-4-16 What do chimp ‘temples’ tell us about the evolution of religion?
What do chimp ‘temples’ tell us about the evolution of religion?
Biologists working in the Republic of Guinea have found evidence for an apparent "sacred tree" used by chimps, perhaps for some sort of ritual. All hail the sacred tree. I’ve often wondered aloud in the newsroom about the possibility of finding evidence of a chimp shrine, the discovery of a place where chimps pray to their deity. Biologists working in the Republic of Guinea found evidence for what seemed to be a “sacred tree” used by chimps, perhaps for some sort of ritual. Laura Kehoe of the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, set up camera traps by trees marked with unusual scratches. What she found gave her goosebumps: chimps were placing stones in the hollow of trees, and bashing trees with rocks. The behaviour could be a means of communication, since rocks make a loud bang when they hit hollow trees. Or it could be more symbolic. “Maybe we found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating a kind of shrine that could indicate sacred trees.”
3-4-16 How they see us: Europe panics over Trump
How they see us: Europe panics over Trump
Europeans are appalled and bewildered, said Max Hastings in the Daily Mail (U.K.). It looks as if the Republican presidential nomination is going to be won by a lying, racist billionaire who wants to start “a jihad against Muslims and a trade war with China.” And because the Democratic nominee will likely be Hillary Clinton, “and a lot of people hate, hate, hate her,” Donald Trump could actually win the White House in November. Hate is the key to this election. Trump exploits the anger of the white lower middle class, and they are seething with hate. They hate “Muslims, blacks, supporters of gay marriage, advocates of abortion,” and those who want to restrict access to guns. They hate the fact that they’ve been left behind by the globalized economy. “In their bitterness and frustration, many turn to Trump, who, of course, will never tell them that he can no more reverse a historic industrial shift than turn back the ocean.” Will Americans give themselves over to “despairing and divisive rage”? Will they really elect an ignorant clown to lead them? (Webmaster's comment: Trump is the candidate for haters. Trump declares we should torture Terroists and should kill their families - so your son does a mass shooting and you, your wife, and your other children are to be killed. Also 20% of Trump supporters believe we should never have freed the slaves according to a recent YouGov poll. Trump is a fascist and many of his supporters aren't far behind. There has reportedly been a huge surge in the number of Americans searching the internet for advice of moving to Canada in the event of Trump becoming US president.)
3-4-16 Guantánamo: Does it still serve a purpose?
Guantánamo: Does it still serve a purpose?
It’s about time, said Fred Kaplan in Slate.com. “If Congress hadn’t decided long ago to resist nearly all President Obama’s initiatives,” there would be scant opposition to his plan to shut down the prison at Guantánamo Bay. The president last week proposed moving up to 56 of the 91 remaining detainees to maximum-security federal prisons in South Carolina, Kansas, and Colorado. The other 35 or so detainees would be sent to other countries. “Critics fear the move would endanger Americans”—that terrorists will somehow escape or “spread jihadist propaganda” among other inmates. But 349 convicted terrorists, including 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, already reside in U.S. maximum-security prisons—where many spend 23 hours in solitary, leaving little opportunity for “proselytizing or escape.” Let’s finally close the abusive, extralegal prison camp at Gitmo, which serves as a recruiting tool for jihadists and represents an assault “on America’s standing as a beacon of justice.”
3-4-16 Pot tourism
Pot tourism, after the number of ER visits by tourists under the influence of marijuana nearly doubled in the first year of the drug’s legalized sale in Colorado. Inexperienced users are evidently consuming too many pot brownies and other edibles.
3-4-16 Lagging on gay marriage
Lagging on gay marriage
Why can’t Italy embrace gay marriage? asked Stefano Rodotà. Just about every other European country has legalized it or at least allowed civil unions between same-sex couples. Italy hasn’t, and last year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the country was discriminating against gays and lesbians. The legislature is now trying to push through a long-stalled bill that would allow civil unions—but the proposed legislation has been gutted by amendments. A provision that would make civil unions equal to heterosexual marriages under the law has been dropped. Another, allowing gay partners to adopt each other’s children, has been scrapped. The weakened law is “proof of a fundamental backwardness that Italy is simply unable to overcome.” There have always been strong forces opposed to social progress here. After we legalized divorce, in 1971, a referendum was held to try to recriminalize it. The same thing happened when abortion became legal in 1978. This time, though, we can’t even get the law passed in the first place. At issue is “a great matter of equality, respect for people and their fundamental rights.” How depressing that Italy has made itself “a prisoner of the concerns of the church,” priding itself on being more Catholic than the pope.
3-4-16 Asylum center is a horror for everyone
Asylum center is a horror for everyone
Conditions at the Australian refugee center on the Pacific island of Nauru are so atrocious that even workers there are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, said Nicole Hasham. Australia has been detaining asylum seekers in offshore warehouses for years, as part of its policy not to allow refugees to set foot on Australian soil. Human rights groups have documented the high rates of physical and mental abuse suffered by detainees, many of them women and children. But now it emerges that even “their teachers, carers, and captors” are traumatized by their time on Nauru. One guard said that on his first day, he had to respond to an armed riot and cut down a detainee who had tried to hang himself; on his second day he saw another suicide attempt, another riot, and several sexual assaults. A different worker said that he suffered a breakdown after “seeing people slash themselves with razor blades” and performing CPR on detainees who’d tried to commit suicide. Refugees have protested their appalling conditions by sewing their lips together. Workers who quit can’t escape what they’ve seen. “There is a huge sense of survivor guilt,” said one teacher, “that I got out but I’ve left these people behind and they are still suffering.”
3-3-16 Holy Hell: Documenting 20 years inside a California cult, Buddhafield
Holy Hell: Documenting 20 years inside a California cult, Buddhafield
Twenty years inside a California cult. A new film called Holy Hell documents a spiritual community or cult, Buddhafield, that was formed in California in the 1980s which ended up leaving many of its members feeling abused and exploited. Shot over a period of 22 years, the documentary has been put together by Will Allen, a former member of the group, who was the informal house videographer.
3-3-16 Russian man on trial for 'no God' comment in internet chat
Russian man on trial for 'no God' comment in internet chat
Viktor Krasnov was reported to police by two young men who objected to his language in the dispute, on the Russian social network VKontakte in 2014. He was charged in Stavropol for having "insulted the feelings of worshippers". Such "insults" were outlawed in 2013 after the Pussy Riot case, in which two punk performers were jailed.
3-1-16 Donald Trump rally police 'ejected' black students
Donald Trump rally police 'ejected' black students
About 30 black students were ejected from a rally at their university for US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump at his request, one of the students has told the BBC. A spokeswoman for Mr Trump denied that he had requested their removal. It comes after Mr Trump refused to disavow a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader. The former leader of the white supremacist KKK, David Duke, had stated his support for Mr Trump. Earlier on Monday, a group of black students were ejected from another Trump rally, on the campus of Radford University in Virginia, after they began chanting: "No more hate! No more hate! Let's be equal, let's be great!" (Webmaster's comment: The KKK is still here and guess who they support. They want to get rid of blacks too.)