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

87 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for November 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source

11-30-16 You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait.
You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait.
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, America has failed to become a health care nirvana. Premiums have continued to rise, though at a slower rate than before the law was passed. Likewise, overall health spending is still increasing, though it has slowed. There are still people without insurance, though 20 million more have coverage because of the law. And, believe it or not, you can still get sick and even die. Now that Republicans are about to take control of the entire federal government, they have an answer to these shortcomings of the ACA: They're going to make things much, much worse. You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait. Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) will be his secretary of health and human services, making him the administration's point person on health care. This was a clear signal of Trump's intentions, so far as he has them. Price, a hard-right conservative with an ardent hatred of the ACA, will now be the second most important player in shaping whatever form "repeal and replace" takes, after House Speaker Paul Ryan. (And yes, that includes Trump himself, who has amply demonstrated that he neither knows nor cares a whit about the details of health care policy; he'll sign whatever they put in front of him.) Price has his own health care plan, which as Sarah Kliff explains, "would replace the law with a plan that does more to benefit the young, healthy, and rich — and disadvantages the sick, old, and poor." While his plan probably won't be adopted in full by Congress, he and Speaker Ryan are in agreement about many things. Here's some of what they're inclined to do:

  • Roll back the ACA's expansion of Medicaid, which would immediately toss over 10 million Americans off their health coverage.
  • Cut funding for Medicaid and make it a block grant, allowing states to more easily cut benefits and throw people off their coverage.
  • Remove the ACA's iron-clad guarantee of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions; in some cases you might avoid getting charged enormous premiums only if you were lucky enough to have never had a lapse in your coverage, and in other cases you'll be shunted to a "high-risk pool," which is likely to be shockingly expensive.
  • Allow insurance to be sold across state lines, which will produce a race to the bottom as states with the weakest regulations attract insurers.
  • Allow the return of bare-bones policies that are cheap but provide little more than the illusion of coverage.
  • Phase out Medicare in favor of giving seniors vouchers with which they can try to buy private insurance.

11-30-16 Seeing reason: How to change minds in a ‘post-fact’ world
Seeing reason: How to change minds in a ‘post-fact’ world
We all skew evidence-based information to fit our beliefs – figuring out when and why could show us how to restore the delusion-busting power of facts. IN NOVEMBER, Donald Trump defied the pollsters to be elected the 45th US president. A few months earlier, UK voters decided to end their country’s 43-year membership of the European Union. Throughout Europe populist movements are prospering. In every case, opponents have cried foul: these campaigns, they argue, win support by distorting or flagrantly disregarding the truth. Politicians spin and politicians lie. That has always been the case, and to an extent it is a natural product of a free democratic culture. Even so, we do appear to have entered a new era of “post-truth politics”, where the strongest currency is what satirist Stephen Colbert has dubbed “truthiness”: claims that feel right, even if they have no basis in fact, and which people want to believe because they fit their pre-existing attitudes. In recent years, psychologists and political scientists have been revealing the shocking extent to which we’re all susceptible to truthiness, and how that leads to polarised views on factual questions from the safety of vaccines to human-caused climate change. The fact is that facts play less of a role in shaping our views than we might hope for in a species whose Latin name means “wise man” – and the problem seems to be getting worse. By figuring out when and why we have a partial view of factual information, however, researchers are starting to see how we can throw off the blinkers.

11-30-16 Generation clean: Why many young adults choose to stay sober
Generation clean: Why many young adults choose to stay sober
Younger people are drinking less – or not at all – despite booze getting cheaper, and it’s pitting health experts and the alcohol industry against each other. WHILE baby boomers may be parsing the evidence to see if an evening glass of wine could be good for them, young adults are quietly turning away from alcohol. Sure, a hardcore still binge heavily, but more and more are choosing to be teetotal, and those who do drink are, on average, doing less of it. That has public health experts toasting their good luck. If this lifestyle takes hold, there could be many health benefits, from fewer accidents and less alcohol-fuelled violence, to reduced incidences of cancer and liver and heart disease in decades to come. So what is spurring young people to shun alcohol, and will it continue? The move away from booze was first seen in those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, the generation known as millennials. The post-millennials (or generation Z) are continuing and even deepening the trend. This is in spite of the fact that alcohol is broadly less costly than it has been in decades. Indulging in drunkenness from early adulthood – once a rite of passage – is in decline across many developed countries. In the UK in 2002, roughly two-thirds of people aged 16 to 24 drank the week before. By 2014, that was down to less than half.

11-30-16 Booze ruse: Can a drink now and then really boost your health?
Booze ruse: Can a drink now and then really boost your health?
New Scientist distils the evidence for claims that a bit of alcohol can protect your heart, stave off dementia and be counteracted by a bout of exercise. WE RAISE a glass to celebrate, sip wine to unwind, knock back a few beers while catching up with friends. Alcohol plays a central role in socialising in many cultures, especially at this time of year. In December, consumption is 41 per cent higher in the UK than during the other months. Yet the warm glow of a holiday tipple may be tempered by a growing awareness of alcohol’s harms. Drinking can increase your risk of cancer, stroke and liver disease. It exacerbates the harms of smoking, can undermine your immune system, impair your judgement and make you more likely to have risky sex, injure yourself or hurt someone else. Each year, alcohol-related crime costs the UK a whopping £11 billion, and the country’s National Health Service spends £3.5 billion treating alcohol-related medical issues. That’s not to mention the £7.3 billion hangover in lost workdays. So far, so clear. Booze is bad. But what about the steady trickle of findings that suggest, in moderate amounts, it may have some benefits? There is the seductive story of red wine staving off dementia, and the finding that regular drinking decreases your risk of heart disease and premature death. Do these stories stand up? In other words, can we really raise a glass to our health?

11-30-16 You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait.
You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait.
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, America has failed to become a health care nirvana. Premiums have continued to rise, though at a slower rate than before the law was passed. Likewise, overall health spending is still increasing, though it has slowed. There are still people without insurance, though 20 million more have coverage because of the law. And, believe it or not, you can still get sick and even die. Now that Republicans are about to take control of the entire federal government, they have an answer to these shortcomings of the ACA: They're going to make things much, much worse. You think health insurance is a hassle now? Just you wait. Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) will be his secretary of health and human services, making him the administration's point person on health care. This was a clear signal of Trump's intentions, so far as he has them. Price, a hard-right conservative with an ardent hatred of the ACA, will now be the second most important player in shaping whatever form "repeal and replace" takes, after House Speaker Paul Ryan. (And yes, that includes Trump himself, who has amply demonstrated that he neither knows nor cares a whit about the details of health care policy; he'll sign whatever they put in front of him.)

11-30-16 Same-sex marriage and the paradox of Australia's PM
Same-sex marriage and the paradox of Australia's PM
Australia's prime minister has long supported same-sex marriage, but does he possess the influence - or the will - to make it happen? The BBC's Greg Dunlop investigates. When Malcolm Turnbull ascended to power in 2015, many Australians hoped the new prime minister would take action to legalise same-sex marriage. A year to the day later, he introduced a parliamentary proposal for a national vote. The bill was ultimately doomed to fail. Mr Turnbull had inherited the plebiscite idea from his predecessor, Tony Abbott, and it faced opposition from the start. Those people argued the vote was unnecessary, expensive and would expose gay and lesbian couples to abuse. They wanted a free vote in parliament. But the new leader enshrined the plebiscite as an election pledge, aware changing tack would divide his conservative party. "It is an issue of conscience for millions of Australians," Mr Turnbull would later say in defence of the bill. "From the bottom of my heart - our society would be stronger if more people were married." In August, a survey of 5,500 LGBT Australians by lobby group Just Equal found that 85% opposed holding the referendum. Three months later, the bill was defeated in the Senate.

11-29-16 Republicans are going to nationalize vote suppression
Republicans are going to nationalize vote suppression
On Sunday, the president-elect tweeted that "in addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Trump is, of course, lying. Behind the seemingly pointless attempt to stir doubt about his victory is a more sinister motivation, which is to call into question the legitimacy of any and all institutions of American public life and democracy. But while Trump is throwing up a cloud of confusion, there are serious policy changes afoot. Now that they have control of Congress and the executive branch, Republicans will be nationalizing vote suppression. They haven't made any grand announcements to that effect yet. But you can bet that it's coming, for one important reason: 2016 taught them that vote suppression works. For years, Republican state legislatures have been passing laws to make it harder for certain kinds of people — the kinds likely to vote for Democrats — to register and vote. But the effort kicked into high gear after 2013, when a conservative majority on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, lifting the requirement mostly Southern states had to demonstrate that changes to their voting systems didn't discriminate against minority groups. Immediately, Republican state legislatures swung into action, passing voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting, and laws curtailing who can register voters. In 2016, 14 states had newly passed voting restrictions in place. One survey of around half the counties that had been removed from federal oversight found that they had eliminated a total of 868 voting locations since the ruling. (Webmaster's comment: They only want whites voting, and most preferably white males.)

11-28-16 California mosques targeted by hate mail
California mosques targeted by hate mail
A US civil rights group has called for more police protection after several mosques in California received letters calling Muslims "vile and filthy". The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the handwritten and photocopied letters also praised President-elect Donald Trump. The letters - signed only by "Americans for a Better Way"- warned that Mr Trump would "cleanse America". There is no indication that Mr Trump is in any way connected to the hate mail. He has not publicly commented on the issue. During his electoral campaign, Mr Trump suggested banning Muslims from entering the US. CAIR said the letters had been sent in recent days to mosques in San Jose, and Long Beach and Claremont in the Los Angeles area. The letters were addressed to the "children of Satan", the civil rights group said.

11-28-16 The media's astonishing fixation on a tiny band of white nationalists
The media's astonishing fixation on a tiny band of white nationalists
The other day I looked up and saw a former co-worker on CNN. He was shouting "Hail Trump… Hail victory!" and receiving the stiff-armed Nazi salute from some of his racist friends. It was Richard Spencer, who was holding the latest of many recent conferences for his white nationalist pals in Washington, D.C. This one attracted by far the most attention, because Spencer had successfully attached himself and his "alt-right" movement to the cause of Donald Trump — at least in the media's eyes. In this Spencer was helped by one of Trump's most senior advisers, Breitbart boss Steve Bannon, who said that his populist web portal was a platform for "alt-right" views, by which Bannon seems to have meant the larger constellation of right-wing populists and trolls, and not straight-up Nazis. At the conference, Spencer gave a valedictory speech cheering the success of his movement and its ability to land on the front page of USA Today. But really, Spencer has been inescapable all year.

11-27-16 Is international justice doomed?
Is international justice doomed?
Russia just announced it's joining South Africa in withdrawing from the ICC. Is international justice doomed? Here's everything you need to know: It's the one place in the world where genocide can be prosecuted. Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Criminal Court weighs evidence of the worst crimes on the planet: crimes against humanity, including genocide and systematic torture. The ICC is a court of last resort to bring the world's monsters to justice, and it hears a case only if the state where the atrocity occurred is unable or unwilling to convene a fair trial — either because a conflict has decimated the justice system or because the accused is in power. There is no jury; instead, a panel of judges decides each case. Over 14 years, just four people have been convicted: three Congolese warlords and one Malian extremist. The court began operating in 2002, but its roots go back to the end of World War II. After the Nazi concentration camps were liberated and the Allies held war-crimes trials in Nuremberg and Japan, international leaders began discussing ways to ensure that such hideous crimes could not happen again. In 1948, the newly formed United Nations adopted the Genocide Convention and the year after that the Geneva Conventions, which lay out wartime rules for the treatment of wounded soldiers, prisoners of war, and civilians. But there was no court that could prosecute offenders, and many atrocities went unpunished. Then, in the 1990s, two horrifying events rekindled calls for an international court: the Yugoslav civil wars, which brought concentration camps back to Europe, and the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were slaughtered in just 100 days. An appalled U.N. set up special tribunals to try war crimes for both those conflicts, and the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the court, was signed in 1998. From the beginning, though, the court suffered a crisis of legitimacy.(Webmaster's comment: Every nation wants the right to commit war crimes including the United States. We will never allow an International Court to try and sentence our leaders and military personel for their deliberate mass murder of innocent civilians, and neither will anyone else allow the same for their people. The United States plotted and tried to murder Fidel Castro 637 times. What are the chances of any charges being brought against any of those responsible do you think?)

  • What is the ICC?
  • How did it come to be?
  • What hampered it?
  • Is that charge true?
  • Who has quit the ICC?
  • Will the court survive?
  • Kenyatta's ill-fated indictment

11-27-16 100 Women 2016: My sham marriage
100 Women 2016: My sham marriage
In China, the pressure for young women to get married is huge. So what do you do if you are a gay woman? Ou Xiaobai, a 32-year-old living in Beijing, describes how a marriage of convenience helps her please her family and preserve her freedom. I want to protect and be with my girlfriend for my entire life. And that's why I married a man in 2012. At that time I was living a happy life with my girlfriend in Beijing. But I was under constant pressure from my family - who lived in Dalian - to get married. Ironically my situation would have been easier a decade ago. Then there was less awareness of homosexuality and therefore less suspicion. My parents kept asking me if I was seeing anyone. And the situation got worse after my father passed away, because my mother - concerned that I didn't seem to have settled down with anyone - started coming to live with me for a few months every year. Realising there was no way that I could avoid the issue, I went to my friends for help - and that's how I got to know about "marriages of convenience". I met my husband through a friend. He is a very nice man. Just like me and my girlfriend, he has been with his boyfriend for many years and has not come out.

11-27-16 Marijuana advocates sceptical about Canada path to legal pot
Marijuana advocates sceptical about Canada path to legal pot
Canada will soon introduce legislation to legalise recreational marijuana. Pot advocates are not as happy as you might think. The Cannabis Culture dispensary in downtown Toronto gets a steady stream of foot traffic around noon on a weekday. But Marc Emery, who helped set up the franchise that flouts Canadian drug laws by selling pot to anyone over 19, is annoyed. The dispensary had been raided the day before by Toronto police. "It's the government's intention to legalise it. So why is the government still arresting people?" he asks. r Emery is just one of many owners of illegal marijuana storefronts that have mushroomed in cities across Canada after the federal Liberals were elected in 2015. The Liberals have committed to legalising recreational marijuana in Canada and plan to introduce marijuana law reforms on the sale, cultivation and distribution in parliament next spring.

11-26-16 The rise of legal weed in America
The rise of legal weed in America
A majority of the U.S. population now has access to legalized cannabis in some form. What's the track record so far? Here's everything you need to know: There have been some huge upsides, as well as serious downsides. In Colorado, the booming new cannabis industry has created more than 18,000 full-time jobs and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity. The state tightly regulates weed sales: Adults over 21 can possess only 28 grams, and marijuana plants are tagged with a radio-frequency ID chip so that they can be tracked. Products are tested for potency and contaminants, and are sold in child-resistant containers. "There are a certain number of folks, like myself, who were pretty reticent about [legalization] to begin with," says House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Democrat. "[But] the sky didn't fall." Legal-weed states have experienced a significant jump in marijuana-related DUIs. In Washington state, a record 745 drivers who were pulled over on suspicion of DUI in the first six months after legalization tested positive for THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, compared with 1,000 over the entire previous year. At the same time, the number of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for THC rose by 48 percent between 2013 and 2014, when legalized marijuana hit the market. Hospitalizations for overdoses are also up. "Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug," says Peter Kissinger, CEO of the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety.

  • Where is weed legal?
  • What's happened in states that legalized weed?
  • What are the downsides?
  • Why are hospitalizations up?
  • Is overall weed use up?
  • Will it be legalized nationally?
  • Weed baths and bacon brittle

11-25-16 Ex-big pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana
Ex-big pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana
John Stewart used to run the pharmaceutical company behind the narcotic painkiller OxyContin. Now he is banking on medical marijuana. Mr Stewart does not know which is more controversial these days, OxyContin or pot. He guesses the average person would give "a bigger negative" to the powerful and controversial painkiller that has been linked to the opioid overdose and addiction epidemic in the US and Canada. "There is a lot of anti-opioid sentiment," he says, delicately. "And certainly based on the social disruption that we've seen it's understandable." In the US, an estimated 1.9 million Americans were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers in 2014. Accidental overdoses from prescription painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2012. In 2014, drug overdoses were the leading accidental cause of death south of the border, driven by prescription opioids.

11-25-16 The group that wants to 'out' liberal professors
The group that wants to 'out' liberal professors
A new website has been set up in the US with the aim of naming and shaming left-wing professors for being biased. But some academics are fighting back with humour, poking fun at the project. Professor Watchlist is on the lookout for teachers who "discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom." The website was set up by Turning Point USA, a group for young conservatives founded by 22-year-old Charlie Kirk, who argues that American campuses have become hostile to Republicans. "We essentially argue for free markets and free people… college campuses across the country are the most treacherous terrain imaginable," he told the Republican Party convention earlier this year. "The only way we're going to take back the youth of this country is to storm them and that is how we're going to make America great again." (Webmaster's comment: And stopping Free Thinking is their objective! Also to spread fear and hate!)

11-25-16 The crippled International Criminal Court
The crippled International Criminal Court
It’s the one place in the world where genocide can be prosecuted. Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Criminal Court weighs evidence of the worst crimes on the planet: crimes against humanity, including genocide and systematic torture. The ICC is a court of last resort to bring the world’s monsters to justice, and it hears a case only if the state where the atrocity occurred is unable or unwilling to convene a fair trial—either because a conflict has decimated the justice system or because the accused is in power. There is no jury; instead, a panel of judges decides each case. Over 14 years, just four people have been convicted: three Congolese warlords and one Malian extremist.

11-25-16 Outing LGBT students
Outing LGBT students
Texas lawmakers want to require public school teachers and counselors to “out” LGBT students to their parents. The proposed “right to know” law would compel schools to tell parents any information about students’ “psychological or emotional well-being.” LGBT activist Steve Rudner said that the law would hurt vulnerable kids. “If your kid is gay, and can tell his teacher, but hasn’t told you,” Rudner said, “then you are the problem.”

11-25-16 Segregated safe space
Segregated safe space
A group of University of Michigan students is calling on school officials to create a segregated safe space for African-Americans in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Students 4 Justice said Trump’s election means that they “now have their lives at risk,” and that the campus police can no longer protect them because “the police, as a union, has endorsed Trump.”

11-25-16 Marijuana dispensaries
Marijuana dispensaries
There are now more marijuana dispensaries in Colorado than there are Starbucks coffee shops.

11-25-16 Mailing weed
Mailing weed
Mailing weed, after a report from the U.S. Post Office Inspector General revealed that postal employees are stealing most of the marijuana that is found while being illegally shipped through the mail. After suspicious packages are quarantined, they’re stored in unsupervised and unlocked areas.

11-24-16 Gay rights: 20 years of key US milestones
Gay rights: 20 years of key US milestones
"It's easy to forget now, when we've come so far... just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago." That's how President Barack Obama introduced comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, before awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday. He said her bravery in coming out as gay helped "push our country in the direction of justice". DeGeneres came out in 1997 at a time when gay rights had not made such great strides. Civil partners were not eligible for benefits, same-sex marriage was illegal and sodomy laws were in place in several states. So what did DeGeneres do? What cultural and political events have happened to change American attitudes towards the gay community?

  • Milestone 1: Ellen DeGeneres, 1997
  • Milestone 2: Goodridge vs Department of Public Health, 2004
  • Milestone 3: "Brokeback Mountain", 2005
  • Milestone 4: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", 2011
  • Milestone 5: Gay marriage legal, 2015

11-24-16 Storm over local ban on French gay safe-sex posters
Storm over local ban on French gay safe-sex posters
French judges are considering a controversial decision by several conservative mayors to take down HIV-awareness posters featuring gay love. The campaign, launched by the socialist government, shows men embracing, with safe-sex slogans underneath. At least 10 mayors have decided to remove the posters, questioning the campaign's morality but denying homophobic motives. Health minister Marisol Touraine said she would fight back via the judiciary.

11-23-16 Can Trump outlaw gay marriage?
Can Trump outlaw gay marriage?
Donald Trump has said he does not agree with marriage between people of the same sex. So, could he change the right of all Americans to marry? (Webmaster's comment: The Ruler and his Hencemen will do everything they can to get rid of all LGBT rights. All LGBTs would be rounded up and put in concentration camps if they could get away with it, and eventually they will do that, just like Hitler did.)

11-22-16 How the fear of death makes people more right-wing
How the fear of death makes people more right-wing
A string of terror attacks across the globe have shaken the world's most powerful nations to their core. As a result of these tragic events, and the fear-mongering from politicians hoping to exploit them, many feel that an existential threat is nigh. To make matters worse, a highly influential and experimentally verified theory from social psychology predicts that, as long as an existential threat looms, the world will grow ever more divided and increasingly hostile. Terror management theory (TMT) explains how and why events that conjure up thoughts about death cause people to cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews — siding with those who share their national, ethnic, or political identity, while aggressively opposing those who do not. Consequently, sharp increases in deadly terror attacks around the world serve to create a sweeping psychological condition that sets the stage for waves of far-Right nationalist movements that encourage prejudice, intolerance, and hostility toward dissimilar others. Europe's nationalist surge, Brexit in the United Kingdom and the presidency win for Donald Trump in the United States are just the most recent demonstrations of TMT, first proposed by social psychologists in the 1980s and derived from cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker's Pulitzer Prize-winning work of philosophy and psychology, The Denial of Death (1973).

11-22-16 Hail Trump: White nationalists mark Trump win with Nazi salutes
Hail Trump: White nationalists mark Trump win with Nazi salutes
White nationalists have been caught on camera celebrating Donald Trump's victory with what appear to be Nazi salutes. It happened at a conference in Washington of the alt-right – a radical far-right group that has dramatically risen in prominence in the last year. While the president-elect has distanced himself from endorsements from far-right groups, supporters of such views have been emboldened by his win.

11-22-16 The science of good parenting
The science of good parenting
Every parent asks it at some point: What is going on in my kid's brain? And if you don't understand kids it can be hard to give them what they need to thrive. Lately the trend has been helicopter parenting and trying to get them ready as soon as possible for an increasingly competitive world. But is that what 3-year-olds need? Or what 10-year-olds need? What about 15-year-olds? Turns out those three all require very different things. Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the leading experts on raising kids right. Her new book is The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children. As a mother and grandmother, she's well aware that just because we've all been kids doesn't mean we always know what they need from us. In fact, much of what's required can be downright contradictory.

So what does the science say about what's going on in kids' brains and what they need from you as they grow up?

  • Gardener not carpenter: Your job is to provide a safe space to grow, not to systematically build Frankenstein.
  • Under 6, they need play: Having an imaginary friend who happens to be a dragon named "Larry" is a good thing.
  • School-age kids need teaching: Help them build skills. Cooking, good. Bartending, not so good.
  • Teenagers need apprenticeships: They need to learn how to learn without you. And that means real world experience.

11-21-16 Think Again: Here's a solution to tackle mass shootings in America
Think Again: Here's a solution to tackle mass shootings in America
Named and famed: should the media stop naming the perpetrators of mass shootings? This personal view comes from by Dr Pete Blair of Texas State University, who argues one solution to mass shootings could be to refuse to report the killer’s name.

11-19-16 Ottawa hate crime attacks investigated
Ottawa hate crime attacks investigated
Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa are investigating a series of hate crimes in which three Jewish centres, a mosque and a church were daubed with swastikas and racist graffiti. Police believe the attacks are linked. They hope to identify the perpetrators from video footage. A solidarity event took place at an Ottawa synagogue on Saturday. Statistics show attacks against Canadian Muslims more than doubled between 2012 and 2014. No group has so far said it was behind the attacks. As well as the mosque and the Jewish centres, the church targeted has a majority black congregation.

11-19-16 Trump election: US Jewish activist vows solidarity with Muslims
Trump election: US Jewish activist vows solidarity with Muslims
The Jewish head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-bigotry group, has vowed to register as a Muslim if Donald Trump creates a database of Muslim Americans. The idea of a Muslim database arose in November 2015, when Mr Trump told a reporter he would "certainly implement that. Absolutely". Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said: "If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim". His comments came at the group's Never Is Now conference on anti-Semitism, held in New York.

11-19-16 'Campus hysteria' lawmaker abruptly ends interview
'Campus hysteria' lawmaker abruptly ends interview
An Iowa lawmaker who started a campaign to punish universities assisting students upset about the election abruptly hung up on a Canadian radio presenter mid-interview. Iowa State Representative Bobby Kauffman, a Republican, has proposed legislation targeting "post-election campus hysteria". Carol Off, host of the programme As it Happens, asked him to give some examples of where this was happening. Instead, Mr Kauffman hung up the phone. The bill would cut funding to Iowa universities that spend tax dollars on grief counselling for students upset about the election. Mr Kauffman told the Des Moines Register that offending schools would receive a budget cut equal to twice the amount they spent on the services. "I find this whole hysteria to be incredibly annoying. People have the right to be hysterical … on their own time," he told the newspaper. The bill, which he nicknamed "suck it up, buttercup," has received widespread media attention. It would also create new criminal penalties for protestors who shut down state highways.(Webmaster's comment: These laws are nothing compared to what laws are going be passed and enforced!)

11-18-16 After election, protests and a spike in hate crimes
After election, protests and a spike in hate crimes
Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. continued to take part in daily protests—some of them violent—against the election of Donald Trump this week. In New York City, as many as 25,000 protesters converged on Trump Tower, bearing signs reading “Not my president” and “Show the world what the popular vote looks like”—referring to Hillary Clinton’s lead of about 1 million votes, by the latest count. At least 350 people were arrested in Portland, Ore., Oakland, and other cities as some demonstrations turned violent, with protesters smashing vehicles and throwing burning projectiles. President-elect Trump at first attacked the “very unfair” demonstrations, but backtracked amid criticism he was undermining the constitutional right to protest. “Love the fact that small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country,” Trump later tweeted. The divisive election also prompted a surge in racist and anti-Muslim incidents reportedly carried out by pro-Trump supporters. The Southern Poverty Law Center logged more than 300 hate crime complaints around the country following the election, and said the spike was worse than after 9/11. Nazi and racist graffiti was scrawled on buildings in Philadelphia and other cities, and a Maryland church was vandalized with the words “Trump Nation Whites Only.” In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Trump said he was “saddened” to hear reports that his supporters were harassing minorities. “If it helps,” Trump said, “I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’”

11-18-16 Hate crimes against Muslims
Hate crimes against Muslims
Hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. rose 67 percent in 2015, according to a new FBI report. The bureau’s Uniform Crime Report, which catalogs data about assaults, vandalism, and other crimes motivated by race, religion, and other factors, documented 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes—up from 154 in 2014.

11-18-16 Racist row over first lady
Racist row over first lady
The mayor of the tiny West Virginia town of Clay resigned this week after she commented favorably on a racist Facebook post that called first lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels.” The offensive remark was made by another local official, Pamela Ramsey Taylor, who wrote after the election that “it will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady back in the White House”—a reference to Donald Trump’s wife, Melania. “I’m tired of seeing a ape in heels,” added Taylor, to which Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling replied, “Just made my day Pam.” Their comments were soon deleted but were captured in screenshots and shared by thousands on social media. Taylor was fired from her job. Whaling apologized and resigned soon after, saying that she hadn’t intended to be racist and was “referring to my day being made for change in the White House.

11-18-16 Drawing parallels
Drawing parallels
Drawing parallels, after a California high school teacher was suspended for a lesson in which he compared the rise of Donald Trump to that of Adolf Hitler. “Everything I talk about is factually based,” said Frank Navarro, a 40-year veteran teacher. “If I’m wrong, show me where I’m wrong.”

11-18-16 Israel Chief Rabbi Amar condemned for 'gay death penalty' comment
Israel Chief Rabbi Amar condemned for 'gay death penalty' comment
Israeli political and community leaders have called for a top Jerusalem rabbi to be fired after he said Jewish law prescribed the death penalty for gays. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar told Israel Hayom newspaper homosexuality was a "cult of abomination", which the Torah "punishes... with death". Several members of parliament have written to the prime minister to complain. Rabbi Amar has previously been criticised for similar past remarks. Last year he was rebuked for saying most people were "disgusted" by homosexuality, and calling Jerusalem's annual gay pride parade "an embarrassing phenomenon".

11-18-16 Legalizing marijuana
Legalizing marijuana
Recreational use is now fully legal in eight states plus Washington, D.C., after voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine approved marijuana ballot initiatives last week. On Election Day, voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota brought the tally of states with legal medical marijuana to 28. Though cannabis is still illegal under federal law, Election Day was widely considered a tipping point for the legalization movement. A recent Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans now approve of legalizing marijuana, and there is a growing bipartisan consensus that the $1 trillion war on drugs has failed. Criminalizing the use and sale of drugs has sent millions of nonviolent criminals to prison—a disproportionate number of them black—and empowered violent drug cartels. At the same time, there is growing scientific research showing that casual cannabis use by adults is fairly safe—less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Another major factor propelling legalization is that states can tax it and get a big boost in revenues. As one pro-legalization ad in Colorado put it: “Jobs for our people. Money for our schools. Who could ask for more?”

  • Where is weed legal?
  • What’s happened in states that legalized weed?
  • What are the downsides?
  • Why are hospitalizations up?
  • Is overall weed use up?
  • Will it be legalized nationally?
  • Weed baths and bacon brittle

11-18-16 Girl with terminal cancer wins right to be cryogenically frozen
Girl with terminal cancer wins right to be cryogenically frozen
The girl, who had a rare form of cancer, had taken legal action in the hope that she could be brought back to life in the future. A terminally ill 14-year-old girl who wanted her body to be frozen in the hope that she could be brought back to life won a historic legal fight shortly before dying. Her divorced parents had become embroiled in a dispute relating to whether her remains should be taken to a specialist facility in the United States and cryogenically preserved. The girl, who lived in the London area with her mother and had a rare form of cancer, had taken legal action. She had asked a High Court judge to rule that her mother – who supported her wish to be cryogenically preserved – should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body. (Webmaster's comment: She's being preserved at Alcor, same place I will be.)

11-17-16 Trump election: The other Mike Pence
Trump election: The other Mike Pence
Mike Pence has been tweeting a lot of criticism of Donald Trump. Not Mike Pence, the vice-president-in-waiting - but the owner of the name on Twitter. The @mikepence account is owned by a 49-year-old programmer who has little in common with the other Pence or the future president. Instead, he describes himself as a "software developer, writer, and speaker". "Not a Christo-fascist politician," he adds. During the election campaign, he referred to Mr Trump as "orange Hitler" while asking people to vote for Hillary Clinton. And after the result, he wished Trump-Pence supporters well with their "fascist paradise".

11-17-16 New Zealand quake: Preacher under fire over homosexuals claim
New Zealand quake: Preacher under fire over homosexuals claim
A New Zealand preacher is facing a backlash after saying that earthquakes could be caused by homosexuality. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck South Island last week, killing two people. Brian Tamaki, leader of the Destiny Church, posted a sermon on Facebook claiming such disasters were caused by sin, and referencing gay marriage. An online petition calling for the church to be classed as a hate group and lose its tax-free status has been signed by 100,000 people. The sermon was given at Mr Tamaki's church in Auckland on Sunday, before the quake. But it was later posted on Facebook and labelled as a "prediction" by the preacher.

11-16-16 U.S. Public Opinion on Four Key State Ballot Measures
U.S. Public Opinion on Four Key State Ballot Measures
In addition to electing Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president and keeping the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, Americans last week in several states voted to keep the death penalty, legalize marijuana, increase their minimum wage and implement several gun control measures. The sections below review state voting results and how the outcomes fit more broadly into American public opinion on each issue.

  • Americans Support the Death Penalty: According to Gallup's latest research, 60% of Americans are in favor of the death penalty for persons convicted of murder.
  • Four More States Legalize Marijuana Use: Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana use, while Arizonans rejected a similar bill. In Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota, voters passed initiatives making it legal to possess marijuana for medical purposes. 60% of Americans support Marijuana legalization.
  • Majority Support Stricter Gun Laws: Americans strongly support the idea of universal background checks, including 86% who said yes to the idea in an October 2015 Gallup survey.
  • Minimum Wage to Increase in Several States: Voters in Arizona, Washington, Maine and Colorado all voted to increase their minimum wage by 2020.

11-16-16 What Trump means for climate change, health and nuclear weapons
What Trump means for climate change, health and nuclear weapons
How will the surprise election of Donald Trump impact the most important science and technology issues facing the US – and the world – today? Unless Donald Trump was lying about his proposed climate policies, we are on course for more than 3 °C of global warming. The big triumph of the recent Paris climate agreement was that all countries, not just rich ones, pledged to limit their emissions. Poor countries are supposed to receive $100 billion per year by 2020 to help them achieve this, but many rich nations are already failing to deliver the promised funds. With Trump saying he will move to block US climate funding, that money is now even less likely to appear. That will give many countries a legitimate reason not to deliver on their Paris pledges. What’s more, these commitments don’t go far enough. The Paris agreement says we must limit warming to at most 2 °C relative to pre-industrial times, but we won’t meet that target even if all countries stick to their current pledges. The deal was only ever intended to be a starting point, with countries regularly reviewing and improving their action plans. The trouble is that there is no way to enforce this. Although the ratcheting-up part of the agreement is legally binding, in practice it depends entirely on trust and reciprocity: “I’ll do it if you do it.” If the US fails to deliver on its promises – and it is already not doing enough – there is no chance other countries will scale up their actions to stick within the 2 °C limit.

  1. Climate change: “The US is the world’s second biggest emitter of CO2, so we need it to slash emissions as fast as possible“
  2. Abortion: “What will women with unwanted pregnancies do? It won’t quite be a return to widespread backstreet abortions“
  3. Nuclear Weapons: “Trump has said he would be ‘very, very slow on the draw’ but has refused to rule out using nukes“
  4. Healthcare: “If Trump’s campaign promises are acted on, the fate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act is bleak“
  5. Surveillance: “Don’t build a surveillance state, because you don’t know who will end up in charge of it“

11-16-16 US healthcare still lags far behind other developed nations
US healthcare still lags far behind other developed nations
Despite gains made after Obamacare, the US still ranks at the bottom for many measures of health and access to medical care when compared with 10 similar countries. The results of the latest check-up on US healthcare are in, and the numbers don’t look good. A survey from the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation in New York City that focuses on health issues, compared health in the US against 10 other countries, including the UK, Australia and Germany. By many measures, the US fell short. “US adults are sicker and have the highest rates of material hardship,” says Robin Osborn, who led the survey. “Despite gains made under the Affordable Care Act, Americans still struggle to afford care and face greater financial barriers to care than adults in the other countries.” Osborn and her colleagues conducted telephone surveys with at least 1000 people from each country in the study from March to June of this year. They found that the health of those in the US still trails behind that of people in developed countries around the world. When asked if they had two or more chronic health conditions, 28 per cent of US participants said they did – more than in any other country. They were also among the most likely to say that their health affected their ability to work full-time or perform daily activities.

11-16-16 Hundreds of hate attacks recorded in US since election
Hundreds of hate attacks recorded in US since election
A US hate-attack monitoring group has documented 437 cases of intimidation and abuse towards minorities since the general election a week ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) told the BBC that evidence of a nationwide surge in such incidents is "anecdotal but not a fantasy". The nonprofit group said many of the attacks were linked to supporters of President-elect Donald Trump. It comes after the FBI reported a 67% rise in anti-Muslim bigotry last year. Senior SPLC fellow Mark Potok said it has created an online form for victims to report hate attacks. It added that it was also monitoring social media and news reports of hate incidents.

11-16-16 LGBT protester on why vice president scares her more than Trump
LGBT protester on why vice president scares her more than Trump
LGBT protester Audre Jankowski tells the BBC's World Have Your Say why Vice President-elect Mike Pence scares her more than Donald Trump. (Webmaster's comment: Mike Pence will have you mentally corrected using physical means if necessary. Mike Pence does not care about human rights!)

11-16-16 Trump's deportation figures: Are they true?
Trump's deportation figures: Are they true?
Donald Trump has said he will deport or jail two to three million illegal immigrants as soon as he becomes US president. Mr Trump says he will target criminals. We check whether there really are this number of undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions. (Webmaster's comment: It's more like only 800,000, but Donald Trump doesn't care about facts.)

11-15-16 Marijuana use weakens heart muscle
Marijuana use weakens heart muscle
.Young, male, healthy pot smokers at high risk of stress cardiomyopathy. Marijuana use may double the risk of developing stress cardiomyopathy, a temporary weakening of the tip of the heart. Marijuana use is associated with an almost doubled risk of developing stress cardiomyopathy, a sudden life-threatening weakening of the heart muscle, according to a new study. Cannabis fans may find the results surprising, since two-thirds believe the drug has no lasting health effects. But as more states approve recreational use, scientists say there’s a renewed urgency to learn about the drug’s effects. An estimated 22 million Americans — including 38 percent of college students — say they regularly use marijuana. Previous research has raised cardiovascular concerns: The drug has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack immediately after use, and a 2016 study in rodents found that one minute of exposure to marijuana smoke impairs the heart’s inner lining for 90 minutes, longer than tobacco’s effect.

11-12-16 Three days of hate in Donald Trump's America
Three days of hate in Donald Trump's America
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Over the next few days, a rash of racism, sexism, abuse, and hatred spread across the country. Many of the following stories were collected by activist Shaun King; more can be found on his Twitter timeline. Here is a look at the first three days of Donald Trump's America. And be warned: The language and images below are highly upsetting. Sadly, they are all too real.

(Webmaster's comment: IT'S BEGUN! All the 60 MILLION HATERS in America believe they now have a license to openly verbally abuse and physically attack muslims, hispanics, blacks, chinese, women, and other non-whites and non-christians!)

11-12-16 Australia Prime Minister 'not welcome' at Mardi Gras parade
Australia Prime Minister 'not welcome' at Mardi Gras parade
Australia's prime minister has been told he will not be welcome at next year's Mardi Gras parade because of his handling of the gay marriage issue. Organisers passed a motion on Saturday not to invite Malcolm Turnbull, who was the first sitting prime minister to attend the last gay pride event. Mr Turnbull, a supporter of marriage equality, backed his party's calls to allow a national vote on the issue. But the stance has angered some who fear a vote would be divisive. Currently, same-sex couples can have civil unions or registered relationships in most Australian states but they are not considered married under national law. Cat Rose, who put forward the motion at the Mardi Gras parade's annual general meeting, accused Mr Turnbull of using last year's event as a "media opportunity". Since then, she added, he had been "nothing but a conduit for homophobes wanting to derail marriage equality through a vindictive plebiscite".

11-11-16 Trump’s election stokes fears of future NSA surveillance abuses
Trump’s election stokes fears of future NSA surveillance abuses
When he takes office, Donald Trump will be handed the keys to the US – and a powerful suite of tools to spy on the people who live there. The US is just weeks away from handing over massive surveillance powers to a man who has expressed enthusiasm for the idea of spying on those he sees as adversaries. It’s common knowledge that the US collects massive amounts of data on phone and internet communications involving both its own citizens and people abroad. The National Security Agency (NSA) can read text messages, track social media activity and hack into your computer’s webcam. Since Edward Snowden’s revelations on spying in 2013, US president Barack Obama has been criticised by privacy activists for not doing enough to curb such programmes. Now, his failure to act threatens to turn into a cautionary tale with a dark moral: don’t build a surveillance state, because you don’t know who will end up in charge of it. During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump railed against Apple when the tech giant resisted unlocking the iPhone of one of the perpetrators of the mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. In July, he invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton and publish her deleted emails. He has also spoken in favour of allowing the surveillance of mosques in the US, as New York City did after the 9/11 attacks, and of asking Muslims to register in a federal database and authorising the NSA to collect metadata. “I tend to err on the side of security,” he said last year.

11-11-16 Eliminated polling places
Eliminated polling places
North Carolina eliminated 27 polling places for this election, and cut hours at other sites, producing long lines that required voters to wait hours. Other ­Republican-controlled states freed of Voting Rights Act restrictions also dramatically cut the number of polling places, including Texas (403 poll closures), Louisiana (103), Alabama (66), and Arizona, which closed 140 of its 200 sites. (Webmaster's comment: The beginning of the End of Democracy. Only the right "white" places get to vote.)

11-11-16 How they see us: President Trump vs. the world
How they see us: President Trump vs. the world
The American people have chosen “the path of racism, hatred, and intolerance,” said El Universal (Mexico) in an editorial. During Trump’s vicious campaign, Mexico and Mexicans were his punching bags, and “nothing good can be expected during his administration for the millions of Mexican nationals who live in the U.S.” Those who supported Trump, a bare half of Americans who voted, long to return the U.S. “to the days of white supremacy.” We can only hope they fail. “Now more than ever, the rest of the world must stand as a dam” against a coming flood of ugliness.

11-11-16 Sued for calling out homophobia
Sued for calling out homophobia
You’re no longer allowed to call gay marriage opponents homophobic, said Alexandre Hervaud. But what if that’s exactly what they are? The Court of Appeal has ruled that Laure Pora, the former head of the AIDS advocacy group Act Up–Paris must pay $2,300 in damages and legal fees to the anti–gay marriage group Appeal for All. Pora and Act Up supposedly insulted the organization by calling its members homophobes, a ruling that has outraged gay rights activists. “We cannot accept that the Court of Appeal is denying us a way to describe and denounce the political speeches of our opponents,” Act Up said in a statement. Civil rights lawyers are equally dismayed. Attorney Caroline Mécary says the court was treating Appeal for All as a private citizen rather than as a political organization. She points out that when a French politician called far-right leader Marine Le Pen a fascist, he was not convicted of slander, because “the court said the term was not an insult when used between political opponents on a political issue.” The same logic should apply in this case, because marriage equality is a civil rights issue. If this ruling stands, the “emblematic figures of the struggle for equal rights” could be targeted and silenced with an avalanche of defamation lawsuits.

11-11-16 Redefining ‘do no harm’
Redefining ‘do no harm’
A patient recently implored me, “If my heart stops, doctor, just let me go,” said physician Haider Javed Warraich. When I asked why, he replied, “Because there are worse states than death.” Indeed, while medical advances offer immense benefits and have extended human life, they have also “changed death into dying,” transforming terminal illness into long, anguished months or years of disability and pain. For good reason, many patients now fear prolonged hospital treatment “more than death itself.” That’s why Colorado this week joined five other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing physician-assisted suicide—even as “the group most vehemently opposed to it hasn’t budged: doctors.” Doctors’ resistance is grounded in the Hippocratic oath, which tells us to “do no harm.” But modern doctors must reassess what that means. Isn’t it harmful to subject dying patients to invasive treatments and artificial life support that cannot save them, and can only prolong their suffering? With strict safeguards in place, “assisted suicide can help give terminally ill patients a semblance of control over their lives as disease, disability, and the medical machine try to wrest it away from them.”

11-11-16 Divine intervention
Divine intervention
After a Buffalo woman filed a federal lawsuit to stop last week’s presidential election because both candidates’ characters fell “far below” a presidential standard. Louise Nolley said she got “an OK from God” to try to save the country.

11-11-16 Blasphemy fight
Blasphemy fight
Violence erupted in Jakarta last week after 150,000 protesters marched through the streets and demanded the arrest of the city’s minority Christian governor for insulting Islam. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was named as Jakarta’s acting governor in 2014 and is now running for election in his own right. After conservative imams declared that the Quran forbids Muslims from voting for non-Muslims, Ahok said those clerics had lied. A video of his remarks then appeared online, in which Ahok appeared to insult the Muslim holy book, leading tens of thousands of Indonesians to protest in Jakarta. Demonstrators clashed with riot police, hurling stones and setting vehicles on fire. A few days later, police said that the online video, uploaded by radical clerics, had been doctored.

11-11-16 Marijuana reform wins big in ballot initiatives
Marijuana reform wins big in ballot initiatives
Marijuana advocates won major victories in ballot initiatives across the country, as voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada this week voted to legalize the recreational use of the drug, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved medical marijuana. Arizona rejected a proposal on recreational weed, and a vote in Maine was too close to call. Together, the results were the nearest the U.S. has come to a national referendum on marijuana, which remains illegal for all uses under federal law. “These votes send a clear message to federal officials that it’s time to stop arresting and incarcerating marijuana users,” said Rob Kampia, head of the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group. Tougher gun control was on the ballot in four states. Voters in California approved a proposition that will outlaw high-capacity magazines and require background checks to buy bullets. Washington State voted to give authorities the power to temporarily seize firearms, with a court order, from people deemed a threat. A proposal requiring universal background checks for private firearms sales was approved in Nevada and narrowly voted down in Maine.

11-10-16 Trump wants to halt healthcare for 20 million poor US citizens
Trump wants to halt healthcare for 20 million poor US citizens
Vast swathes of the population will lose their medical insurance If the next president proceeds with plans to repeal Obama’s healthcare scheme. It will be back to the bad old days for 20 million Americans if US president-elect Donald Trump follows through on his election promises to repeal Obamacare. The scheme, formally known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), provides health insurance to many who had previously gone without. And depending on which programme Trump replaces it with, tens of millions more could lose out. “If the campaign promises are acted on, the fate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act is bleak,” says Nadereh Pourat at the University of California in Los Angeles. “The greatest impact is loss of health insurance coverage by about 20 million who gained it through Obamacare.” Most of those losing out would be poor Americans. “Undoubtedly, the people harmed most by any dismantling of the act are those who gained coverage under the law, mainly lower-income individuals and those with pre-existing conditions,” says Benjamin Sommers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, whose study earlier this year revealed the scale of health benefits arising from Obamacare. “The evidence is quite clear that the ACA has been very successful at expanding health insurance, reducing the per cent of the population without coverage to its lowest rate in history,” he says. “All this is potentially at risk given the election result.” Even more people in the US could suffer if Trump carries through on proposals to alter how federal money is allotted to subsidise healthcare.

11-10-16 The Dutch prison crisis: A shortage of prisoners
The Dutch prison crisis: A shortage of prisoners
While the UK and much of the world struggles with overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands has the opposite problem. It is actually short of people to lock up. In the past few years 19 prisons have closed down and more are slated for closure next year. How has this happened - and why do some people think it's a problem? "If somebody has a drug problem we treat their addiction, if they are aggressive we provide anger management, if they have got money problems we give them debt counselling. So we try to remove whatever it was that caused the crime. The inmate himself or herself must be willing to change but our method has been very effective. Over the last 10 years, our work has improved more and more." Sometimes it is better for people to stay in their jobs, stay with their families and do the punishment in another way." says Angeline van Dijk, Director of the prison service. He adds that some persistent offenders - known in the trade as "revolving-door criminals" - are eventually given two-year sentences and tailor-made rehabilitation programmes. Fewer than 10% then return to prison after their release. In England and Wales, and in the United States, roughly half of those serving short sentences reoffend within two years, and the figure is often higher for young adults.

11-10-16 Scouts and Guides grow up to have better mental health at age 50
Scouts and Guides grow up to have better mental health at age 50
Want to protect your child against anxiety and mood disorders? Attending Scouts or Guides – but not other volunteer or Church groups – seems to help. Being a member of the Scouts or Guides during childhood is linked to a lower risk of mental illness in middle-age. That’s according to a study by Chris Dibben at the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues. They analysed data from a long-running study of almost 10,000 people across the UK who were born in November 1958. They found that 28 per cent of the study’s participants had been involved in the Scouts or Guides, and that these were 15 per cent less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders at the age of 50 than their peers who didn’t join. “It is quite startling that this benefit is found in people so many years after they have attended Guides or Scouts,” says Dibben.

11-10-16 The psychology that explains how Trump’s divisive rhetoric won
The psychology that explains how Trump’s divisive rhetoric won
How did Donald Trump's nationalist mantra that the US was becoming second-rate take such a strong hold in the American psyche, wonders Chris Simms. “How could this happen?” seems to be the question on almost everyone’s lips. Republican Donald Trump has surfed his wave of divisive and racially charged rhetoric right into the White House. Like the Brexit vote in the UK, it’s a key moment that has left some people feeling ashamed of their country. Millions, if not billions, of people around the world were hoping that US citizens would reject Trump. But that didn’t happen, and in a way, we are all responsible. The outcome is not about the intelligence of voters, it’s about emotional arguments and outlook on life. Generally, when a politician gets into office, he or she has judged the prevailing mood correctly. And the mood in many parts of the world is nationalistic and pretty ugly. To win voters to his cause, Trump tapped a vein of nationalism that social science calls honour culture (see “Reputation is everything: Unearthing honour culture in America“, and “An excess of honour could help explain the appeal of Trump“). His key message has been that foreign countries are doing better than the US and this makes the country look weak.

11-9-16 An excess of honour could help explain the appeal of Trump
An excess of honour could help explain the appeal of Trump
The same culture that drives honour killings in Pakistan and elsewhere could be a powerful but hidden factor in US politics. DIGNITY or honour? Those two words seem to describe a binary divide in the sorts of human cultures that exist in our world. To a rough first approximation, dignity cultures value people for themselves while honour cultures do not. They are instead driven by an overriding concern for reputation and a sense of duty to retaliate when it is damaged, sometimes even to the point of killing a daughter or sister who is seen to have brought the family into disrepute. When honour killings happen in the West, people tend to rationalise them as the product of an alien culture. And, indeed, such killings are most frequently seen in communities that have close family ties to places like Pakistan, where a strict honour culture still holds sway. But social psychologists have now shown that honour culture is also strong among white people in southern US states, where it is linked to social problems including high rates of murder and domestic and sexual violence.

11-9-16 Reputation is everything: Unearthing honour culture in America
Reputation is everything: Unearthing honour culture in America
High murder and suicide rates among whites in the US south may have the same root cause as honour killings in Pakistan and India, says a Southern researcher. MUBEEN RAJHU pleaded with his sister, Tasleem, to end her relationship with a Christian man because it brought shame on the family. Then he put a bullet in her head. “I had to do it,” Rajhu told a reporter earlier this year. “There was no choice.” Many of his neighbours in Lahore, Pakistan, agreed: Rajhu deserved praise for doing the right thing, they insisted. Most of us cannot fathom the kind of thinking that condones “honour” killings, when fathers and brothers murder loved ones, typically women, in the name of reputation. We tend to associate this strict code of honour with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia, and with extreme religious beliefs. But Ryan Brown thinks it is more familiar than you might think. Brown, a social psychologist at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, studies “honour cultures” – ones characterised by a deep concern for reputation and a sense of being duty-bound to retaliate against anything perceived as a slight. His research in the US south shows that it is alive and well among millions of people there, and potentially in other Western countries too. He also argues that honour culture is an important cause of all kinds of problems, from elevated murder rates to a reluctance to address mental health issues. Can he be right?

11-9-16 A new world order is defying the science of polling – what now?
A new world order is defying the science of polling – what now?
Pollsters who said a Trump victory and Brexit were unlikely need to start counting the voices of newly engaged voters. Some serious wounds need licking in the world of predicting elections. Only yesterday, the majority of pollsters were predicting a Hillary Clinton presidency with a probability ranging from around 70 per cent all the way to 99 per cent. Now, Donald Trump has emerged victorious. “This failure of polling was the largest in a presidential election year in decades. It’s going to take some time to sort out what went wrong,” says Sam Wang, whose poll analysis blog Princeton Election Consortium gave Trump only a 1 per cent chance of success. So why didn’t anyone see it coming?

11-9-16 US election: California voters approve marijuana for recreational use
US election: California voters approve marijuana for recreational use
Voters in California, Nevada and Massachusetts have endorsed the recreational use of marijuana in state-wide polls. The votes, which took place alongside the presidential election, legalise the growth and consumption of cannabis for those over 21 years old. Results in Maine are not yet know, while Arizona rejected legalising recreational use. People in Florida and North Dakota, meanwhile, legalised medicinal use. The drug will be an option in the management of conditions including cancer, Aids and hepatitis C. California said the taxes on the sale and farming of cannabis would support youth programmes, environmental protection and law enforcement.

11-9-16 Not just Trump: How America voted on drugs, porn, guns, pay and the death penalty
Not just Trump: How America voted on drugs, porn, guns, pay and the death penalty
When the UK voted in June's EU referendum, people ticked one of two boxes - leave or stay. When the US went to the polls this week, voters were faced with a much longer process. They voted on a range of issues, not just whether they wanted Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to move into the White House. These are known as state initiatives and are different on voting papers in each state in America. Voters had to make decisions on more than 20 key issues. In Texas there were more than 50. There were votes across the US on the death penalty, drug laws, minimum wage and whether porn actors should wear condoms in films. Here's how things turned out and how things will change in many states.

  • Marijuana will now be legal in several states
  • The death penalty is going nowhere
  • Low-paid workers could be the first to benefit
  • You won't see any more condoms in US porn
  • Assisted suicide is now legal in six states in America
  • Firearm laws are being tightened
  • Los Angeles will tackle homelessness

11-8-16 Australia senate stops gay marriage vote
Australia senate stops gay marriage vote
The Australian government's proposal to hold a national vote on legalising same-sex marriage has been defeated in the upper house of parliament. The government said a non-binding ballot, or plebiscite, was the quickest way to amend the Marriage Act. Same-sex couples can have civil unions or registered relationships in most Australian states but they are not considered married under national law. Opinion polls indicate that most Australians support same-sex marriage. However opposition parties and many supporters of same-sex marriage argued a plebiscite would be expensive and could unleash a divisive campaign. Instead, they say parliament should make the decision itself. The proposal's defeat in the senate means the issue will be taken off the agenda at least until the next term of parliament.

11-7-16 US election: The German comparing Trump's campaign to Hitler's
US election: The German comparing Trump's campaign to Hitler's
A man who compared the Donald Trump campaign to Adolf Hitler's in the 1930s says he is glad to have started "one of the more civilised discussions" on the US presidential debate. The tweeter, who says his name is Johan Franklin, posted a note to Americans on Friday from "the people of Germany" asking "what could possibly go wrong?" if they vote for the "guy with the loud voice", who "threatens to imprison his opponents". The note along with the the hashtag #beentheredonethat, went viral within hours. It prompted memes equating Hitler with Trump but there was also criticism that the comparison was inflammatory. Mr Franklin, a German citizen who works in San Diego, California, defended his "Dear America" note to the BBC. "I know the Hitler comparison was pretty crude," he said. "It didn't have much to do with Trump himself, rather that, regardless of what he said and did, he continued to gather people behind him. "I got frightened when trying to talk to Trump supporters within my circle of friends and colleagues and I started to see parallels to what my grandparents and other folks back home told me about what happened in Germany back in the 1930s."

Been There, Done That!

11-7-16 This election is God's judgment on us
This election is God's judgment on us
Conservatives tell themselves to present themselves as "optimistic." Religious people in America tell themselves to be "winsome." I'm a religious conservative and I've tried all that. I've made the idea of God's chastisement of our nation into a fun joke in another column at the beginning of this ugly spectacle. But the hour is at hand. And it's my duty to be honest with you. I'm not joking. This isn't a metaphor or hyperbole. I'll give you all the technical and historical knowledge I have. We can discuss history and analyze policy options all day. But if you want my answer for what is actually going on in this election, I suspect we are experiencing God's wrath. (Webmaster's comment: Another the "end of the world is coming" scenario. The world has been going to end every year for the last 1,500 years but it's never happened has it. And there's a Christian religious nut around every corner just wanting to burn people at the stake to save the world and appease God's wrath. You support christianity at your own peril. It's a cult of death from the dark ages!)

11-4-16 The clan leader of white male Americans
The clan leader of white male Americans
“Trump has appealed to white identity more explicitly than any national political figure since George Wallace. But whereas Wallace was marginalized first within the Democratic Party, and then within national politics, Trump has increasingly been accommodated. Yes, Trump was often fiercely denounced by rivals and insiders in the earlier part of the campaign. But since effectively securing the nomination, that criticism has quieted. Trump is running not to be president of all Americans, but to be the clan leader of white Americans. Those white Americans who respond to his message hear his abusive comments, not as evidence of his unfitness for office, but as proof of his commitment to their tribe.”

11-4-16 Endorsements
Endorsements
Endorsements, after the official newspaper of Ku Klux Klan announced its support for Donald Trump, lauding him as the “nationalist” candidate who will restore America as a “White Christian Republic.” Trump’s campaign rejected the KKK’s support, saying he “denounces hate in any form.”

11-4-16 Religious right rises
Religious right rises
Rio de Janeiro has elected an evangelical bishop as mayor, part of a wave of right-wing victories in local elections across Brazil. Marcelo Crivella, nephew of the billionaire founder of the influential Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, beat his left-wing opponent by nearly 20 percentage points in the vote’s second round. Crivella, 59, faced an uproar during the campaign over past comments in which he described homosexuals as evil and the Catholic Church—of which some 80 percent of Brazilians are members—as demonic. But the former bishop successfully tapped into growing voter anger over a corruption scandal that has dogged the main political parties, and promised to bring law and order and basic sanitation to Rio’s poorer neighborhoods. The left-wing Workers’ Party, which dominated Brazil’s politics for 13 years, lost every mayoral race it ran in this week.

11-4-16 Justices consider transgender rights
Justices consider transgender rights
The Supreme Court agreed last week to weigh in on one of the most contentious cultural disputes of the year by accepting the case of a transgender student who wants to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school. Gavin Grimm, 17, was born female but identifies as male, and used the boys’ bathroom at Gloucester High School until the local school board required students to either use the bathroom corresponding with their “biological sex” or a private bathroom if they had “gender identity issues.” A federal appeals court ruled the school’s policy unlawful in April, and the U.S. Department of Education warned that schools would lose federal money if they discriminated against transgender students. Courts are split on how to deal with the issue, and states like North Carolina have passed laws requiring people to use public bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

11-3-16 US election 2016: 'Vote Trump' church arson 'a hate crime'
US election 2016: 'Vote Trump' church arson 'a hate crime'
The mayor of a town where a black church was daubed with "Vote Trump" and set on fire says the incident is being "investigated as a hate crime". The fire was, which badly damaged the 111-year-old church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on Tuesday night. Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons described it as a "hateful and cowardly act" and "a direct assault on people's right to freely worship". Police have not named any suspects, but the FBI have joined the investigation. (Webmaster's comment: The violence by haters has begun!)

11-3-16 Volkswagen appoints expert to examine Brazil torture claims
Volkswagen appoints expert to examine Brazil torture claims
Volkswagen (VW) has commissioned an expert to examine if the German carmaker allowed the arrest and torture of employees in Brazil under the country's former military regime. Professor Christopher Kopper of Bielefeld University will research claims VW collaborated with the military government from 1964 to 1985. A group of former employees filed a law suit against the company last year. Some claim they were arrested and tortured at a VW plant in Brazil. VW has previously investigated its own role in the use of slave labour in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. The company was set up in 1937 by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, the Nazi trade union organisation. During the war, VW made vehicles for the German army using more than 15,000 slave labourers from nearby concentration camps. In 1998, survivors file a lawsuit against VW, which set up a restitution fund. (Webmaster's comment: American cooporations are moving their operations oversees. Why? They can pay the employees a lot less as well as avoid workplace employee treatment rules, workplace safety rules, and toxic waste dumping rules. The savings are enormous but the human rights violations are without end.)

11-2-16 Artificial intelligence needs smart senses to be useful
Artificial intelligence needs smart senses to be useful
True intelligence, Meghan Rosen notes in this issue’s cover story "Robot awakening" (SN: 11/12/16, p. 18), lies in the body as well as the brain. And building machines with the physical intelligence that even the clumsiest human takes for granted — the ability to sense, respond to and move through the world — has long been a stumbling block for artificial intelligence research. While more sophisticated software and ultrafast computers have led to machine “brains” that can beat a person at chess or Go, building a robot that can move the pieces, fetch an iced tea or notice if the chessboard has turned into Candy Land has been difficult.

11-2-16 For robots, artificial intelligence gets physical
For robots, artificial intelligence gets physical
To work with humans, machines need to sense the world around them. By giving robots physical intelligence, researchers hope to build machines that can work alongside humans. In a high-ceilinged laboratory at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., a gleaming white robot stitches up pig intestines. The thin pink tissue dangles like a deflated balloon from a sturdy plastic loop. Two bulky cameras watch from above as the bot weaves green thread in and out, slowly sewing together two sections. Like an experienced human surgeon, the robot places each suture deftly, precisely — and with intelligence.

11-2-16 What is it like to be a bot? The strange world of telerobotics
What is it like to be a bot? The strange world of telerobotics
Telepresence technology may soon give us new insight into one of philosophy's most intriguing questions. Not Like Us is Aviva Rutkin's monthly column exploring the minds of intelligent machines – and how we live with them. “What is it like to be a bat?” the philosopher Thomas Nagel wondered in 1974. You’d flap around, echolocating, eating bugs, hanging out upside-down in someone’s attic. But something essential about the experience was off limits to his imagination. “I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task.” Nagel’s famous essay considered a sticky problem: what is the relationship between our body and our mind? How could we ever comprehend a state of being that isn’t just our own? The question of what it’s like to be someone, or something, else, has continued to tantalise. Now, research into making telerobotics happen may offer a weird and cool possibility – that of beginning to understand, if only a little, the experience of entities that are not at all like us.

11-2-16 This Native American trans pageant is reviving an ancient tradition
This Native American trans pageant is reviving an ancient tradition
Sage Chanell had always dreamed of playing the female role in her tribe's stomp dance. It's a ceremony that women more or less run, using shells on their legs to keep time while men chant. Playing an opposite-gender role is not an option. As a not-yet-out transgender Shawnee woman in the 1990s, Chanell was too scared to challenge her tribe's rules. Instead, she discreetly held shells in her hands and chanted along with the boys. But this May, on a makeshift stage at a retreat center in Nacogdoches, Texas, her worries melted away. Wearing a fall-colored Seminole patchwork skirt, ruffled shirt, and moccasins, the 30-year-old triumphantly stomped onto the stage at the Miss International Two Spirit competition, her legs covered in shells. In a headdress framed by ribbons, she moved her feet in an intricate pattern, in a rhythm she knows by heart.

11-2-16 Shanghai's sacred spaces
Shanghai's sacred spaces
China's religious communities are starting to peek out from under the shroud of communism. China's ruling Communist Party sanctions only five religions. And although the constitution allows for freedom of religion, practicing anything other than Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism is technically breaking the law. But in Shanghai, the second most populous city in China, a myriad of religious communities are quietly thriving. British photographer Liz Hingley spent three years exploring Shanghai's spiritual landscape, unearthing vibrant communities of people practicing Islam, Hinduism, Russian Orthodoxy, and Judaism. Such displays of belief would never have been possible 50 years ago. During Mao Zedong's brutal Cultural Revolution, religious practice was violently suppressed; temples and churches were burned to the ground, and centuries of religious writings, artworks, and architecture disappeared into the ashes. But since the communist leader's death 40 years ago, China's atheist government has made some room for religious diversity.

11-2-16 Amnesty International's Moscow office 'sealed by authorities'
Amnesty International's Moscow office 'sealed by authorities'
Amnesty International's office in Moscow has been sealed off by the city authorities, say members of staff. Arriving for work on Wednesday, they found official seals placed across the office entrances, the locks had been changed and the power was cut off. The human rights group says it was given no warning but hoped there was "a simple administrative explanation". It has in the past complained of harassment by the authorities in Russia. "Given the current climate for civil society work in Russia, there are clearly any number of plausible explanations, but it's too early to draw any conclusions. We are working to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible and very much hope there is a simple administrative explanation for this setback to our work.

11-1-16 Why the biggest losers of the 2016 election will be immigration hardliners
Why the biggest losers of the 2016 election will be immigration hardliners
The election won't be a referendum on Trump. It will be a referendum on Trumpist nativism. Elections market-test the appeal of ideas. Thanks to Donald Trump, this election is market-testing the idea of anti-immigration restrictionism. And if polling trends hold, this idea will be a big loser on Nov. 8. Trump has wavered on many things, but not on his obnoxious anti-immigration stance. In fact, as Cato Institute's Alex Nowrasteh notes, Trump is the "dream candidate" of America's anti-immigration faction. He took the substance of his platform from the Center for Immigration Studies, among the nation's chief nativist outfits, and National Review Online — and he boasts the bombastic presentational style of Ann Coulter. CIS's Mark Krikorian, a regular contributor to NRO, has opined that no other candidate "has as sound and as well thought-through an immigration plan" as Trump. And Coulter, with typical restraint, has called Trump's plan the "greatest political document since the Magna Carta." Their enthusiasm for Trump is understandable. Other than a few disagreements on whether undocumented immigrants should be mass deported by Uncle Sam or forced to self-deport via harsh interior enforcement, Trump's immigration plan is exactly what NRO and CIS have pushed for years. Trump opposes "amnesty" of any kind. So do they. Trump wants to build a "big beautiful wall" on America's southern border. So do they. Trump wants a surge in the already "surged" border enforcement. So do they. Trump thinks that the Syrian refugee program is a Trojan horse for ISIS and should be scrapped. So do they. Trump wants to significantly limit family-based immigration. So do they. Trump wants to cut back on legal foreign workers because they allegedly threaten American jobs and wages. So do they. Trump wants to end birthright citizenship. So do they. And on and on and on. (Webmaster's comment: At the base of the Statue of Liberty is engraved what it stands for "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Many Americans are now rejecting this in favor of racism, intolerance and bigotry.

11-1-16 What is Standing Rock and why are 1.4m 'checking in' there?
What is Standing Rock and why are 1.4m 'checking in' there?
More than 1.4 million people have "checked in" on Facebook to support protesters fighting against a new oil pipeline in Standing Rock, a Sioux Native American reservation in North Dakota. Activists say the Sioux Indians are under threat as the pipeline could contaminate the tribe's water source. Protesters are worried police might be tracking them on social media, igniting concerns over digital privacy.

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87 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for November 2016

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for October 2016