80 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for January 2017
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
1-31-17 Trump’s travel ban is already stopping scientific collaboration
Trump’s travel ban is already stopping scientific collaboration
Scientists inside and outside the US have had their plans disrupted by Donald Trump’s travel restrictions, and some fear it could lead to a brain drain. On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that denies Syrian refugees entry to the US, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocks citizens of seven countries from entering the US for at least 90 days. Those affected by the travel ban include scientists, some of whom are speaking out about how the order will affect their work and the broader scientific community. “While one can understand security imperatives, a broad ban that restricts movement of widely defined groups can hold back important scientific progress; progress that can solve some of our most urgent problems,” says one professor at a leading US university. A dual citizen of one of the countries on the list, he says he will probably have to cancel academic and research trips scheduled for the next few months, as well as a planned visit to see his mother. The countries targeted by the ban are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all of which have majority Muslim populations. A professor at a university in the New York area says his department includes some Iranian PhD students. “Luckily, they were in the US when the executive order hit, so they’re ok for now,” he says. “They’re worried, though, that they can’t leave the country to visit family, friends, loved ones, partners, etc. As I understand it, they would not be able to get back in to the US since they are visa holders, and not permanent residents.” (Webmaster's comment: This ban has nothing to do with American safety. No one from any of these "Muslim" countries has even performed an act of terroism in the United States. But thousands of white male christian supremacists here in America have!)
1-31-17 Completely paralysed people use thoughts to say they are happy
Completely paralysed people use thoughts to say they are happy
Many assume that people “locked-in” by ALS have a low quality of life, but a non-invasive device that can read “yes” and “no” thoughts has found the opposite. Paralysed people have communicated with their families by thought alone, thanks to a technique that learns to recognise brain activity associated with “yes” or “no”. The method is non-invasive and has enabled completely “locked-in” people to describe their lives as “wonderful”. The four people involved in the study all have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a degenerative disorder that causes people to stop being able to control their muscles, until they are unable even to move their eyes. It has been impossible to know what such completely locked-in people are thinking. “It is assumed that being cut off from communication is one of the worst states a human can be in,” says Niels Birbaumer at the Wyss Center in Geneva. To find out, Birbaumer and his colleagues have combined two devices that record brain activity. The first, called NIRS, measures blood in active brain regions by passing a beam of light through the head. Alongside this, the team used EEG electrode caps to record brainwave activity, to tell if a person was awake or asleep. The group trained their device to recognise the brain activity associated with “yes” and “no” by posing simple statements. “We might say, ‘your name is this, you did that in your past’,” says team member Ujwal Chaudhary at the University of Tübingen. It took up to three weeks to train the device to detect “yes” and “no” with 70 per cent accuracy.
1-31-17 Democrats should shut down the government until Trump reverses his Muslim ban
Democrats should shut down the government until Trump reverses his Muslim ban
President Donald Trump's immigration executive orders — and let's call them what they are: a Muslim ban — represent the first of many constitutional crises that are going to unfold in the Trump era. For Democrats, this has to be a line in the sand: Any and all cooperation with Republicans has got to end, at least until the executive orders are reversed and heads roll for the hell the Trump administration put refugees, immigrants, and their families through this weekend; ideally, all cooperation would cease for the next four years. President Trump's executive orders on Friday suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for four months and banned citizens of seven Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for three months. It also indefinitely shut the door on Syrian refugees entirely. Protests erupted all over the country on Saturday and Sunday; at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, a protest planned for only 150 people soon exploded into over 1,000 before it was shut down by airport authorities. And on Saturday night, the ACLU won a nationwide temporary injunction against the order from District Court Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn; judges in Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia also ruled against the order. In an unprecedented move, however, Trump and his administration simply decided not to comply with the judge's order. (Webmaster's comment: Like I've said this is exactly what Hitler did. He simply ignored the law and proceeded to do what he wanted. We are already entering the new American dictatorship.)
1-31-17 Way more migrants are now sneaking across the U.S.-Canada border
Way more migrants are now sneaking across the U.S.-Canada border
The number of people sneaking into Canada from the U.S. and asking for asylum has gone way up. Canadian border officials are spotting a noteworthy trend: The number of people sneaking in from the United States and asking for asylum has gone way up. One popular route leads into Quebec. Families lug suitcases "over a little ditch," as one resident described it, to avoid passport checkpoints. This past year, 1,222 people entered Quebec illegally and requested refugee status — almost five times the total in the previous year, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. The tally in November alone was higher than the whole of 2015. The authorities won't say whether Donald Trump's November election win has anything to do with the surge. "We can't speculate on that. We can't speculate on the motives," says Jacqueline Roby, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency. But some migrant rights advocates say that Trump's promises to get tough on immigration, coupled with Canada's reputation for welcoming refugees, could be factors. He sees them travel in family groups, with suitcases and strollers, often with stickers from the nearby airport in Plattsburg, New York. He says most of the women wear traditional Muslim headscarves. (Webmaster's comment: Fleeing the new anti-Muslim American dictatorship already. They are very wise. Within 4 years it would be the work-prison camps for Muslim men, women and children.)
1-31-17 Boy Scouts of America to let transgender children join
Boy Scouts of America to let transgender children join
Transgender children who identify as boys are to be allowed to join The Boy Scouts of America for the first time. The organisation, which was founded in 1910, previously only allowed children registered as male on their birth certificate to join their ranks. The change comes after a transgender eight-year-old was asked to leave the Scouts in New Jersey last year. But The Boys Scouts of America said the decision was made following discussions nationally on gender identity. In a statement, The Boy Scouts of America - one of the largest youth organisations in the US - said: "For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. "However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state."
1-30-17 AI tracks your every move and tells your boss if you’re slacking
AI tracks your every move and tells your boss if you’re slacking
Big Brother comes to the workplace. An AI system monitors employee behaviour to detect when they might pose a security threat and track productivity. Think government surveillance is excessive? Wait until you hear what your employer might be up to. Companies are increasingly using technology to monitor employees in the workplace, with artificial intelligence making it possible to track individuals’ behaviour in great detail. Start to slack off, or show signs of going rogue, and an algorithm could tattle to your boss. One company offering such services is London-based start-up StatusToday. The company was recently included in a cybersecurity accelerator run by British intelligence agency GCHQ, which offers technical expertise and helps to secure investment. StatusToday’s AI platform relies on a regular supply of employee metadata, including everything from the files you access and how often you look at them to when you use a key card at a company door. The AI uses this metadata to build up a picture of how companies, departments and individual employees normally function, and flag anomalies in people’s behaviour in real time. The idea is that it could detect when someone might pose a security risk by stepping outside of their usual behavioural patterns. “All of this gives us a fingerprint of a user, so if we think the fingerprint doesn’t match, we raise an alert,” says Mircea Dumitrescu, the company’s chief technology officer. (Webmaster's comment: 1984 is coming. Your every move will be monitored.)
1-30-17 Higher unemployment linked to more shootings at schools
Higher unemployment linked to more shootings at schools
An analysis of 381 shootings at US schools and colleges since 1990 found a link between gun violence and several measures of economic insecurity. Gun violence at US schools peaks during periods of high unemployment, according to a study that looked at the link between shootings and economic insecurity. The root causes of the US’s gun violence problem are difficult to unpick. Federal funding for research on gun violence has effectively been banned since 1996. Research on the issue is also hampered by a lack of comprehensive data sources. For this study, the researchers drew on six datasets to compile a list of 381 shootings at US schools and universities from 1990 to 2013. Any shootings on school premises – including accidental shots – that involved staff or students as perpetrators, victims or bystanders were included. The highest rates of school shootings occurred during two periods in the data: 1992-1994 and 2007-2013, and coincided with periods of increased unemployment. Gun violence was also correlated with two other economic metrics: low consumer confidence and the foreclosure rate – the frequency of homeowners failing to keep up their mortgage payments.
1-30-17 It took Obama 936 days to reach majority disapproval ratings. It took Trump 8.
It took Obama 936 days to reach majority disapproval ratings. It took Trump 8.
President Donald Trump is the fastest U.S. president to ever reach majority disapproval ratings since Gallup began keeping track, the Los Angeles Times reports. Trump is approved of by 45 percent of the country, with 48 percent disapproving of him over his first several days in office. It took Trump just eight days to reach majority disapproval. By comparison, it took former President Barack Obama 936 days, and former President George W. Bush 1,205 days to hit the same low.
Days until achieving MAJORITY disapproval from @Gallup
- Reagan: 727
- Bush I: 1336
- Clinton: 573
- Bush II: 1205
- Obama: 936
- Trump: 8 days
(Webmaster's comment: I think Americans don't like him much!)
1-30-17 Quebec City mosque shooting: Six killed, eight wounded
Quebec City mosque shooting: Six killed, eight wounded
Six people have been killed and another eight wounded in a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, police say. Shots were fired at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday night, where more than 50 people had gathered for evening prayers. One suspect was arrested at the scene and another was arrested nearby. Police do not believe there are other suspects at large. The Canadian authorities are treating the shooting as a terror attack. "We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. "Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country." (Webmaster's comment: Hate Crimes spreading out from America.)
1-30-17 Trump executive order: White House stands firm over travel ban
Trump executive order: White House stands firm over travel ban
The Trump administration is standing firm over its ban on immigration from seven countries despite court rulings and mass protests against it. In a statement, President Trump said visas would once again be issued once "the most secure policies" were in place, and denied it was a Muslim ban. The move has been widely condemned. Sixteen state attorneys general have said the order is unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders. Mr Trump's executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival - even if they held valid US visas or other immigration permits. It is not known how many others were turned away at airports overseas as they tried to board flights to the US. (Webmaster's comment: More Hate Crimes against Muslims are just around the corner. LGBTs you're next!)
1-30-17 Trump travel ban attacked at Screen Actors Guild awards
Trump travel ban attacked at Screen Actors Guild awards
Hidden Figures was the surprise winner of the top prize at this year's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, which was dominated by anger over Donald Trump's policies on immigration. Several winners attacked Mr Trump's ban on immigration from seven countries. The tone was set by host Ashton Kutcher, who began the evening by greeting "everyone at home and everyone in airports that belong in my America". "We're in a really tricky time in our country and things are very inexcusable and scary," said Emma Stone as she won the best actress prize for La La Land. Mahershala Ali, meanwhile, spoke about his Muslim faith as he accepted the best supporting actor prize for Moonlight. Mr Trump's executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Julia Louis-Dreyfus called the immigration ban "a blemish" and "un-American" as she won best comedy TV actress for Veep.
1-30-17 Trump executive order: Oscars chiefs dismayed by US entry ban
Trump executive order: Oscars chiefs dismayed by US entry ban
Oscars organisers have said it is "extremely troubling" that the makers of an Iranian film nominated for an Academy Award may be barred from entering the US. The Salesman, from director Asghar Farhadi, is nominated for best foreign-language film. Lead actress Taraneh Alidoosti has said she will boycott the ceremony. This year's Academy Awards take place on 26 February, during the 90-day order banning Iranian nationals from the US. An Academy spokeswoman said: "As supporters of film-makers - and the human rights of all people - around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran A Separation, along with the cast and crew of this year's Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin." The Academy said it celebrates film-making "which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences". (Webmaster's comment: In a few short days America has become a pariah across the world and to it's own people. What will it be after 100 days?)
1-27-17 US scientists can look to Canada for ways to fight a crackdown
US scientists can look to Canada for ways to fight a crackdown
The Trump administration seems to want to rein scientists in, just as Canada did until recently – and it's there we should look for lessons in fighting back. Freedom, said the British writer George Orwell, is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear – such as, he suggested, that two plus two makes four. Empirical facts can be especially unwelcome to political establishments that want to provide their own “alternative” facts. During his first week in office, President Trump launched orders to gag scientists in federal agencies, and raised the possibility that political officials may now need to clear empirical findings before they can be published. Canadian scientists, who endured a decade of repression under an ideologically similar government, could usefully advise their American colleagues. The Trump crackdown became apparent last week, when the new administration hit the Environmental Protection Agency with a freeze on all contracts and grants. According to Trump staffers, all existing information published by the EPA would also be examined, and the release of new work put on hold pending possible case-by-case scrutiny. Agency staff have also been barred from updating its social media accounts or talking to the press without clearance from the top. The EPA isn’t the only target. The Department of the Interior’s Twitter accounts were shut down after its National Park Service retweeted a comparison of Obama’s and Trump’s inauguration crowds. The Department of Health and Human Services was ordered not to communicate with external officials – including members of Congress – and cancelled a major meeting on health and climate, apparently to avoid trouble. Similar caution may have led the Department of Agriculture to remind staff to get clearance before talking to the press, and its research division was briefly told not to issue public statements.
1-29-17 Trump executive order: US judge temporarily halts deportations
Trump executive order: US judge temporarily halts deportations
A US judge has issued a temporary halt to the deportation of visa holders or refugees stranded at airports after President Donald Trump issued an order barring entry to them for 90 days. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a case in response to the order issued on Friday. It estimates that 100-200 people are being held at airports or in transit. Thousands of people have been protesting at US airports over Mr Trump's clampdown on immigration. His executive order halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival - even if they held valid US visas or other immigration permits. Defending his move, Mr Trump early on Sunday tweeted: "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW." On Saturday, amid protests and court challenges, he told reporters the order was "working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over." (Webmaster's comment: Yet none of the people from these countries has ever taken part in a terrorist attack in the United States. This is a blantant ban on the Muslim religion however, since it excludes Christians from the ban and thus it is unconstitutional! This is a nation's leaders pandering to the haters in its population in all their ugliness!)
1-29-17 US immigration order: Families split as Trump ban enforced
US immigration order: Families split as Trump ban enforced
"It is terrifying how everything has changed", an Iranian woman said, as she waited for her husband at Logan Airport. (Webmaster's comment: The world is now beginning to view the United States as a third world nation. A nation ruled by the arbitary whims of it's rulers and not by law.)
1-29-17 US refugee ban: Canada's Justin Trudeau takes a stand
US refugee ban: Canada's Justin Trudeau takes a stand
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a stand on social media against the temporary US ban on refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mr Trudeau underscored his government's commitment to bringing in "those fleeing persecution, terror & war". The US Department of Homeland Security said the entry ban would also apply to dual nationals of the seven countries. However, Mr Trudeau's office says Canadian dual nationals are exempt. "We have been assured that Canadian citizens travelling on Canadian passports will be dealt with in the usual process," a spokeswoman for Mr Trudeau said in an emailed statement. US President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Mike Flynn "confirmed that holders of Canadian passports, including dual citizens, will not be affected by the ban," the statement said. Canada's Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is a dual national who arrived as a Somali refugee.
1-28-17 Trump executive order prompts Google to recall staff
Trump executive order prompts Google to recall staff
Google has recalled travelling staff members to the US after an executive order from President Donald Trump restricting entry for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. Syrian refugees are banned from entry until further notice, the order says. Nationals of six further countries, including Iran and Iraq, will be banned from entering the US for 90 days. The entire US refugee admissions programme is suspended for 120 days, and a lower cap on numbers introduced. On Saturday several Iraqi passengers and a Yemeni national were prevented from boarding a flight at Cairo airport bound for New York, despite holding valid visas for the US. The American Civil Liberties Union says it has filed a suit challenging the executive order. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also says it will file a lawsuit. Google has told the BBC it is concerned about the order and any measures which could block great talent from the US. The new restrictions will have a major impact on technology companies that hire skilled staff from all over the world on special H1-B visas. There have been reports that "green card" holders, who are legal permanent residents of the US, being prevented from getting on flights. However, green cards are not specifically mentioned in the executive order, and so the status of green card holders remains unclear. CAIR advised non-US citizens, including permanent residents, from the seven countries to plan to delay all international travel for at least 90 days. Mr Trump said the measures detailed in his executive order would "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US". But rights groups say there is no link between Syrian refugees in the US and terrorism.(Webmaster's comment: This is outright religious persecution, is unconstitutional, and should be opposed by all Americas. Many of us will be next.)
1-27-17 Europe: A warning from history on Trump?
Europe: A warning from history on Trump?
Germans and Austrians do not make Hitler comparisons lightly, said Gerfried Sperl in Der Standard (Austria). But we have noticed that foreigners are finding parallels between President Trump and the Hitler of the early 1930s, before the Nazi leader set in motion the machinery of mass murder. American historian Timothy Snyder, for example, has pointed out that like Hitler, Trump is extraordinarily talented at manipulating the press, and also like him “holds truth to be entirely irrelevant.” Of course, Trump is not a new Hitler. But he did “skirt National Socialist ideas” in his inaugural address last week. That speech was a “religiously charged battle prayer, in which neither democracy nor human rights existed.” Instead, Trump paid homage to patriotism, which was to be defended with blood. Perhaps those parts of the address were written by the president’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who recently told The Hollywood Reporter that Trump’s term would be as “exciting as the 1930s” and usher in “an economic nationalist movement.” Who could listen to those words “and not think of the Nazi era?” In fact, Trump’s inaugural address sounded “remarkably similar” to Hitler’s first address as German chancellor in 1933, said Boris Reitschuster in HuffingtonPost.de. A Russian sociologist, Igor Eidman, compared the two speeches and found that Trump hit all the same themes as Hitler: first describing the country as a horrorscape of poverty and violence, then blaming the crisis on selfish, sellout leaders, and finally promising that henceforth “the people” alone would rule. Obviously, it would be “irresponsible and stupid” to conclude from this speech that Trump will follow Hitler’s path. But it would be “just as irresponsible” not to notice the similarities and heed the lessons. Even Pope Francis seems concerned, said Antonio Caño and Pablo Ordaz in El País (Spain). During an interview last week, the pontiff said it was too early to judge the new U.S. president. But after being asked if he was worried about the rise of populism in the U.S. and Europe, he immediately referred to Germany in 1933. The country was in chaos and searching for “someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says, ‘I can, I can,’” said Francis. “Hitler did not steal power. He was elected by his people and then destroyed his people.” (Webmaster's comment: Seems I'm not the only one thinking Trump is the new Hitler. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck!)
1-27-17 Turning a blind eye to neo-Nazis
Turning a blind eye to neo-Nazis
Germany is giving dangerous rein to neo-Nazis, said Heribert Prantl. Last week, the Constitutional Court rejected a request by all 16 German states to ban the racist, extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD), a direct successor to a party founded by Nazis. The party is white supremacist and anti-Semitic, wants to get rid of parliamentary democracy, and seeks territorial expansion into neighboring countries to create a “greater Germany.” Its adherents have been accused of setting refugee centers on fire. The court acknowledged all that but declined to outlaw the party, saying the NPD had such a low level of support as to be all but irrelevant. The ruling defies belief. Yes, the NPD is anticonstitutional and “desires to abolish our society’s fundamental order and values,” but because it gets few votes it can just go right ahead? To take such a risk shows a perilous naïveté. “A democracy that only moves to defend itself once things get very dangerous is unable to defend itself” at all. Perhaps the court will ban the NPD in a few years, once it gets an approval rating of, say, 15 percent. By then, of course, it will be too late. By refusing to send “a signal that it opposes aggressive right-wing populism,” Germany has effectively endorsed it. (Webmaster's comment: They are back! In Europe, in Asia, and in America!)
1-27-17 Here's everything President Trump did in his first week
Here's everything President Trump did in his first week
(Webmaster's comment: Read it and Weep!)
1-27-17 Only in America
Only in America
A California high school canceled performances of the acclaimed Jean-Paul Sartre play No Exit because it features a lesbian character. Buchanan High School administrators say they received complaints from parents about the show’s strong language and adult themes. “It’s not what they expected their children to see,” an official said. The show’s student director, Jared Serpa, said parents shouldn’t shield teens from “reality” and “the fact that people are different.”
1-27-17 Ethics controversy
Republican lawmakers in South Dakota this week moved to use emergency rules to overturn an independent ethics commission put in place by voters in November. The commission was created as part of a campaign finance reform law known as IM-22, which passed with 52 percent of the vote. Along with establishing the ethics commission, the law imposes tougher limits on gifts that lobbyists may give to lawmakers. Republicans, who hold 80 percent majorities in both state chambers, said the ethics law would create “de facto criminals out of every elected office holder.” An emergency bill to repeal the measure has already passed the state House of Representatives, and Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he would sign the repeal bill if it landed on his desk. Lawmakers have also debated a bill that would double the number of signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot in South Dakota.
1-26-17 The world just ticked a bit closer to Doomsday thanks to Trump
The world just ticked a bit closer to Doomsday thanks to Trump
Donald Trump's first days as US president confirms our choice to move the symbolic Doomsday clock forward, says Raymond Pierrehumbert. It is now 30 seconds closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock, the symbol maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to show the state of threats to human civilisation. Now set at two and a half minutes to midnight, the only time the setting has been more dire was in the 1950s when the clock stood at two minutes to midnight in the depths of the Cold War. The clock was introduced in 1947 (set at 7 minutes to midnight) as a graphic indication of how close we were to nuclear Armageddon because of the advent of atomic weapons. In 2007, the calculus of doom was expanded to include the existential threat posed by human-induced climate disruption. While colleagues assessed new nuclear worries, it was on climate that I reviewed the events of 2016 to help set the clock as a member of the bulletin’s science and security board. In many ways last year was shaping up as a promising one for progress on the climate problem. Notably, the successful conclusion of the Paris agreement for the first time set emissions targets out to 2030 embracing virtually all the nations of the world. These may be enough (if honoured) to keep global emission rates roughly flat between now and then – a major step forward compared to exponential growth – but that will not be enough. In view of the millennial-scale duration of the effects of carbon dioxide emissions on climate, in the years past 2030, emissions need to fall to essentially zero, and they must do so relatively quickly. It is not clear how that will happen. Still, it was progress. But then came the nightmare November election of Donald Trump as US president, giving him control of the White house with no real prospect of checks and balances from either house of the US Congress House or the Supreme Court. Once the initial shock wore off there was a lot of naive and wishful thinking about the chances that he would pivot from his stance as a candidate, and govern more pragmatically than he campaigned. (Webmaster's comment: We elected Hitler's grandchild and we expect him to be NICE! America will be moved back to the 1950's, if not back to the 1850's. Make no mistake. He means to eliminate all civil rights except for white ayran males.)
1-26-17 Trump administration clampdowns on research agencies worry scientists
Trump administration clampdowns on research agencies worry scientists
Chaos, confusion reign over how far-reaching, long-lasting directives are. Days of conflicting reports and leaked documents have hit federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency hard, leaving scientists worried about access to unbiased scientific information. Just days into the Trump administration, alarm bells are ringing in the scientific community amid confusing and whiplashing reports of gag orders and funding freezes at the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies. Various on-again, off-again directives range from putting a hold on tweeting (mostly still on) to banning the sharing of data and fact sheets to a stop on research grants and contracts (now lifted). Given the administration’s apparent skepticism about the role of science in guiding policy, it’s no surprise that this maelstrom of rumors, leaked documents and conflicting reports has left many anticipating the worst. The EPA provides a case study. On January 23, an EPA employee leaked that agency staff were instructed to put a freeze on all grants and contracts, which delegate and fund state efforts such as water quality testing and air pollution monitoring. A broad ban was also placed on communications, including speaking engagements, press releases, and posting to EPA blogs. (Webmaster's comment: Don't you get it! Any science which does not support Trump's (Hitler's) official propaganda will no longer be allowed!)
1-26-17 Madeleine Albright and Big Bang actress 'ready to join Muslim registry'
Madeleine Albright and Big Bang actress 'ready to join Muslim registry'
A former US Secretary of State and a Big Bang Theory actress have both vowed to register as Muslim if Donald Trump creates a database of Muslim Americans. Politician Madeleine Albright and Mayim Bialik said they "stand ready" to register, in defiance of the new President. "I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish," Ms Albright - the first woman to be named Secretary of State - tweeted on Wednesday. "I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity." The tweet gained tens of thousands of likes. Her comments come as rumours continue to circulate about an executive order which would announce extreme vetting, a refugee ban and a ban on arrivals from seven countries, said to include Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
1-26-17 Trump starts a 'sanctuary city' war with liberal America
Trump starts a 'sanctuary city' war with liberal America
Mr Trump's border wall announcement will make most of the headlines today, given that it was a central focus of his presidential campaign and has increased diplomatic tension with the Mexican government. His plan to target US "sanctuary cities", however, likely sets the stage for a much tougher, uglier domestic political fight. More than 400 jurisdictions across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle - major cities in left-leaning states that did not vote for Mr Trump - have enacted policies protecting undocumented immigrants within their boundaries. Officials in these designated areas, including local law enforcement, are not allowed to enquire as to an individual's immigration status in the course of their duties. Candidate Trump pledged to end this practice, and on Wednesday he put some teeth into his promise - authorising the federal government to withhold funds from cities that do not co-operate with immigration officials or comply with federal law. His executive order frames the issue as one of national security. "Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States wilfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States," it reads. "These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic." The US government has often used the power of the purse to compel states and localities to bend to its will on matters like highway speed limits, educational policies and setting a minimum drinking age.
1-26-17 Donald Trump says he believes waterboarding works
Donald Trump says he believes waterboarding works
US President Donald Trump has said he believes waterboarding works, stating "we have to fight fire with fire". Mr Trump said that while radical groups beheaded people in the Middle East "we're not playing on an even field". But Mr Trump also said he would consult Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo and "if they don't want to do it that's fine". They have both indicated opposition to reintroducing the interrogation method, widely considered a form of torture. US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, questioned on the waterboarding remarks at a news conference on Thursday, reiterated that torture is illegal. Former CIA director Leon Panetta told the BBC it would be a "serious mistake to take a backward step" on torture. (Webmaster's comment: Hitler has been reborn and his name is Trump!) (Webmaster's comment: Also see the following article on this website.)
1-25-17 The neuroscience of interrogation: Why torture doesn’t work
The neuroscience of interrogation: Why torture doesn’t work
"Enhanced interrogation" may get someone to talk, but there's no evidence that it's the truth. A new book cross-examines the true consequences of torture.“IF YOU torture the data long enough,” the saying goes, “it will confess to anything.” Although this is a problem for scientists, the stakes are higher for torturers. If tortured people really will tell you anything, how do you know when they are telling the truth? Why Torture Doesn’t Work has a specific origin, says its author Shane O’Mara, professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. In 2009, he read an article about the release of the “Torture Memos”, legal documents prepared for the US federal authorities on the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, binding in stress positions, and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Morality aside, O’Mara wanted to know if there was credible science that showed torture worked. The answer, it turns out, is no. The reality is that “the intelligence obtained through torture is so paltry, the signal-to-noise ratio so low, that proponents of torture are left with an indefensible case”. Advocates defend torture with an “ad hoc mixture of anecdote, cherry-picked stories and entirely counterfactual scenarios”, he says. Controlled studies on the effectiveness of torture would be morally abhorrent. But there is a lot of information on the psychological and physiological effects of severe pain, fear, extreme cold, sleep deprivation, confinement and near-drowning. Some studies, such as those on the effects of sensory deprivation, used healthy volunteers. Others were conducted during the training of combat soldiers.
1-25-17 Trump will send in the 'Feds'
Trump will send in the 'Feds'
...if the murder rate in Chicago doesn't stop rising. (Webmaster's comment: Trump will declare war on Americans. How many innocent will die? As many as he feels is necessary to keep us in line! HITLER DID THE SAME DAMN THING WITH HIS STORM TROOPERS IN GERMANY!)
1-25-17 Donald Trump: 'We will build Mexico border wall'
Donald Trump: 'We will build Mexico border wall'
Donald Trump has said a "big day" is planned on national security, including an announcement to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico. The new Republican president is expected to sign several executive orders on immigration and border security this week. They are likely to include the "extreme vetting" of people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa. This would restrict refugee access. Mr Trump tweeted: "Big day planned on national security tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!" (Webmaster's comment: Within 100 days the Great Evil will be in total control of our country! America will descend into the days before civil rights!)
1-25-17 The plunder of the American prison system
The plunder of the American prison system
ss incarceration is expensive in America — as might be expected from a system that oversees a similar fraction of the population as the Soviet gulags. But how much does it cost? Until today, nobody had attempted to estimate the cost of every part of this system. Enter the Prison Policy Initiative. A new paper by Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy makes the first systematic attempt to add up every part of the cost of mass incarceration. The total is eye-popping: $182 billion, every year. As is well-understood at this point, mass incarceration was partly caused by racialized panic over the great crime wave during the second half of the 20th century. But this report details another cause — the political economy of incarceration. One major reason so many people are in prison is that the constitutional basis of the criminal justice system has been mostly abandoned in favor of self-interest. The Prison Policy Initiative's estimate is, of course, rather rough, as Wagner and Rabuy admit upfront. The reason is poor data. Sources on some factors are sketchy or out of date, as with food and utilities. Others, like the cost of the court system, do not break down the total into civil and criminal fractions, and so the authors were forced to guess based on other work. However, on the whole, the estimate is as good as can be done at this stage — and Wagner and Rabuy are careful to hedge on the side of caution, so it's almost certainly an underestimate if anything. (As an aside, I should note that it is a moral atrocity that we don't have up-to-date data on these questions. The government ought to be maintaining and releasing such data on an annual basis.) So how do the costs stack up?
1-23-17 McCain rips Trump for withdrawing from TPP
McCain rips Trump for withdrawing from TPP
President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is already drawing rebuke from his own Republican Party. Shortly after it was announced Monday that Trump had signed the executive order, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement calling Trump's move a "serious mistake." McCain warned the decision to withdraw from the 12-nation deal would "have lasting consequences for America's economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region." "This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation," McCain wrote, instead advocating for a "positive trade agenda" that will ensure American workers and companies stay "competitive" in the Asia-Pacific region. (Webmaster's comment: China will now dominate the entire trade of the Pacific Rim ensuring its rise as THE global economic power. Thanks to the stupidity of Trump!)
1-23-17 Virtual out-of-body experience reduces your fear of death
Virtual out-of-body experience reduces your fear of death
After a near-death experience, people often describe floating out of their bodies. Recreating the sensation with VR can make people less anxious about dying. An illusion that mimics near-death experiences seems to reduce people’s fear of dying. Mel Slater at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and his team have used virtual reality headsets to create the illusion of being separate from your own body. They did this by first making 32 volunteers feel like a virtual body was their own. While wearing a headset, the body would match any real movements the volunteers made. When a virtual ball was dropped onto the foot of the virtual body, a vibration was triggered on the person’s real foot. This technique is similar to the “rubber hand illusion”, making people feel that a body is their own, even though they know it can’t be. Once the illusion was established, the volunteers watched as their viewpoint changed – they appeared to float away from the virtual body, observing it from above. This time, when balls were dropped on the virtual body, only half the volunteers were given a vibration. Those that did receive one still felt connected to the body.
1-23-17 Model Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals she is intersex to 'break taboo'
Model Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals she is intersex to 'break taboo'
A top fashion model has revealed that she is intersex, saying that she hopes speaking out will help break a taboo. Hanne Gaby Odiele, 29, was born with undescended testicles, which were removed when she was 10 after doctors warned that they could cause cancer. Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics. According to the United Nations, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world's population. Ms Odiele, originally from Belgium, was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). "It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo," she told USA Today in an interview. "At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this." At 10, Ms Odiele had surgery to remove her testes.
1-23-17 When forgiving and forgetting is a bad thing
When forgiving and forgetting is a bad thing
Rushing to forgiveness can be worse than holding a grudge, researchers say. In the summer of 2015, less than a week after Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina — a crime for which, he was recently sentenced to death — the relatives of his victims arrived at his first court appearance with a surprising message: forgiveness. "We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive," said one woman whose brother was killed in the attack. Another, whose mother was among the deceased, expressed similar sentiments: "You took something very precious from me," she said, "but I forgive you." And a few days after that, writer Roxane Gay published a moving op-ed in The New York Times explaining why she did not. "I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness," she wrote, "but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice." Together, these two reactions — both powerful, both valid, diametrically opposed to each other — raise an important question about the slippery concept at their center. Forgiveness, clearly, is a highly personal choice, speeding healing for some and precluding healing for others. But what does it even mean to forgive, anyway? (Webmaster's comment: Consciously chosen evil is beyond redemption or forgiveness. To forgive is to support the evil that was being done. In the words of Lisbeth Salander "Don't turn him into a f______ victim. He nearly killed you. He was a killer and a rapist and he enjoyed it. He had the same chances as everyone else. You choose who you want to be. He wasn't a victim. He was an evil m_____f_____ who hated women.")
1-23-17 Why the Women's March on Washington was the perfect way to needle Donald Trump
Why the Women's March on Washington was the perfect way to needle Donald Trump
Protests invite generalizations, and I was about to irresponsibly philosophize about what Saturday's historic Women's March means — specifically, what it teaches us about American self-portraiture — when I stumbled on this photograph of the new president and his wife. Surrounded by a truly unreasonable number of roses at the inaugural luncheon on Jan. 20 — a day that ought to have brought them some joy — they look the very picture of unhappiness. This is Adam and Eve sulking outside of Eden. This is every marriage gone wrong, every midlife crisis, every spiritual void that leads a soul to snatch something they'll wake up in the night regretting. So I stopped short, because that image with its blue dress and red tie crystallized so much of what happened in America this weekend. It provoked the crowds of people in red hats who gathered in Washington, D.C., one day and the crowds of people in pink hats who gathered there — and all over the country and the world — the next. Is there anything true worth saying about a country that produced both those spectacles and this portrait of a man and a woman caught off guard, slathered in wealth, their misery on exhausted display in a rare moment when they forgot about the cameras? There is. The Trumps may not be "relatable" in the strictest sense — their gold-encrusted habitat was always intended to alienate and impress — but that photograph captures, in its own small way, the country they now represent: divided, afflicted by comfort, addicted to outrage, bitterly convinced they've been wronged. They are, above all, camera-conscious and camera-ready. (Webmaster's comment: This is just like the Vietnam war. It's just the beginning. He's not going to be able to make a single misstep without generating mass protests.)
1-21-17 Pope Francis warns against rise in populism
Pope Francis warns against rise in populism
Pope Francis has warned against a rise in populism and the dangers of allowing political crises to usher in dictators like Hitler. He made the comments as Donald Trump was being sworn-in as US president in a wide-ranging interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais. The Pope condemned the use of walls and barbed-wire to keep foreigners out. But he said it was too early to judge the new US leader, saying "we'll see what Trump does". Mr Trump has caused controversy with his comments on Mexican immigrants and his plans for a wall to keep them out. (Webmaster's comment: He must be reading this website.)
1-21-17 Protesters from Canada, UK, 'turned away at US border'
Protesters from Canada, UK, 'turned away at US border'
A handful of protesters heading down to the massive women's rights rally in Washington say they were turned away at the US border. A few also report being questioned before reluctantly being allowed into the US. Hundreds of Canadians travelled to the US to participate in the Women's March on Washington. Thousands more are taking part in companion rallies planned in cities across the country. Sasha Dyck will be marching in Montreal after he and seven others were turned away by US officials at the Lacolle border crossing between the province of Quebec and New York State. The 34-year-old Montrealer say they told border agents they were heading to the Washington rally. "We were told to pull aside, cars were searched, we were fingerprinted and photographed, they confiscated our phones and asked us to unlock them," he told the BBC. "They asked us a few questions, about whether we there to disrupt or anything like that but mostly had to stew for about two hours and then they told us: 'You're going home, going back to Canada.'" He said they were not given a reason for being turned away. He also said two companions who were French nationals were told that for any subsequent trips to the US they would need visas. "I had a feeling they didn't like the look of us, just thought we would be a hassle, that it would be easier to turn us back," he said.
1-21-17 Donald Trump protests attract millions across US and world
Donald Trump protests attract millions across US and world
Millions of protesters have taken to the streets of cities in the US and around the globe to rally against the new US President Donald Trump. Larger numbers of demonstrators than expected turned out for more than 600 rallies worldwide. The aim was principally to highlight women's rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration. The biggest US rally was in the capital Washington, which city officials estimated to be more than 500,000-strong. This far exceeded the 200,000 that had originally been expected by organisers of the Women's March on Washington. By most estimates, it also surpassed the crowd at Friday's presidential inauguration. The protesters in the nation's capital heard speeches from Scarlett Johansson, Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem and Michael Moore among others. A planned march to the White House proved impossible as the entire route was filled with demonstrators. Interim DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told Associated Press: "The crowd stretches so far that there's no room left to march."
1-21-17 Trump inauguration: Two Americas in 24 hours
Trump inauguration: Two Americas in 24 hours
In the space of 24 hours, Washington was the scene of two Americas. President Trump's supporters came feeling they've just taken their country back. The protesters on the women's march feel they have just lost theirs. It is that stark. The mood at the march was determinedly cheerful, there were men, children and lots and lots of women. Grandmothers teaching their granddaughters the political ropes. But the underlying message was clear - liberal America has just been shoved out of power. These marches were enormous and they came out in cities across the country to repudiate not just Donald Trump, but his whole world view. They didn't just protest about women's issues, there were also signs addressing his positions on climate change, healthcare and Muslims. The polls show us that Mr Trump is the most unpopular new president in American history.
1-21-17 Donald Trump protests: Washington leads global rallies
Donald Trump protests: Washington leads global rallies
Hundreds of thousands are gathering for a "Women's March on Washington", part of a global day of protests against new US President Donald Trump. The rally is one of more than 600 expected worldwide on the president's first full day in office. The aim is to highlight women's rights, which protesters believe to be under threat from the new administration. Mr Trump has taken his first steps, signing an executive order targeting his predecessor's health care scheme. On Saturday morning, protesters swarmed streets and metro stations in the US capital, heading for the National Mall, where speeches have started ahead of an afternoon march to the White House. Organisers had originally sought a permit for 200,000 people but say they now expect as many as half a million, possibly dwarfing Friday's inauguration crowd, the Washington Post reported. Celebrities such as Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Schumer, Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, Patricia Arquette and Michael Moore are expected to attend. (Webmaster's comment: And where are the men. This sexual pedator would think nothing about molesting your wife or daughters yet you stay at home out of fear of being seen defending women's rights. What a bunch of cowards!)
1-20-17 The Trump White House will be an orgy of looting and corruption
The Trump White House will be an orgy of looting and corruption
Brace yourself, America: The Trump administration is going to be an epic disaster — an orgy of looting, corruption, and austerity. Let's examine his budget plan first. During the campaign, Trump flirted with left-leaning fiscal ideas, saying he wouldn't cut Social Security and Medicare. But thus far he is going in the exact opposite direction. Last year the Republican Study Committee came up with an ultra-conservative plan to slash federal spending by $8.6 trillion over 10 years. But Trump's initial budget has cuts of $10.5 trillion.The details aren't worked out yet, but The Hill reports that all manner of government agencies would be gored or killed off altogether. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be killed. Several offices designed to help minorities would be gone. Research and scientific spending would be sharply rolled back and several agencies dedicated to climate change and renewable research would be abolished. But more fundamentally, the scale of these proposed cuts is simply staggering. The military, debt payments, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid account for just about three-quarters of federal spending. It is literally impossible to get that scale of cuts without cutting deeply into some of those programs. And when you dig into the budget proposed by the Heritage Foundation, which the Trump plan is based on, it turns out everything but defense is getting slashed — Social Security by 8 percent, Medicare by 41 percent, all domestic discretionary spending by 41 percent, and Medicaid by 47 percent. And with Republicans in charge of most state governments, huge austerity at the state level is also coming.
1-20-17 The press: Trump’s war on journalism
The press: Trump’s war on journalism
The “reign of King Trump” has begun, said Robert Reich in Salon.com, and if there’s anything tyrants hate, it’s “the free press.” Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump wore his disdain for the “disgusting” and “dishonest” media as a badge of honor, and at a surreal news conference last week, he dashed any hope that this was just a pose. To applause from a sycophantic cheering section of his aides, now-President Trump told lie after lie, simply ignored any questions he didn’t want to answer, and verbally attacked CNN’s Jim Acosta because his network reported—correctly—that intelligence officials had warned Trump of widely circulating rumors that Russia has blackmail information on him. Then Trump press secretary Sean Spicer admitted the new administration is planning to move the White House press corps out of its long-standing West Wing office to a nearby building, and dilute the 50 real journalists with dozens of fringe bloggers and right-wing talk-show radio hosts who openly support Trump. Journalism was already in a “weakened state” because of the slow collapse of the newspaper industry, said Jay Rosen in PressThink.org. Now we have the swearing-in of an authoritarian president who calls all unflattering stories “fake news” and relies on “whipping up hatred” against reporters and news organizations. For the press, “winter is coming.”
1-20-17 Airbrushing civil rights history
Airbrushing civil rights history
Americans across the political spectrum look back on the civil rights movement “with historical reverence,” said Elahe Izadi. Schoolchildren of all races memorize Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; conservatives invoke the movement “as a model for their own activism,” while civil rights activists “are viewed as national heroes.” But in their day, King and his fellow activists were viewed by most white Americans as dangerous troublemakers. When Southern mobs attacked Freedom Riders who were protesting bus segregation in 1961, a Gallup poll showed 61 percent of Americans disapproved of the protesters. In a 1966 Harris survey, 85 percent of whites said mass demonstrations and sit-ins “would hurt the advancement of civil rights.” Why? Most whites reflexively side with authority and the status quo over minorities who demand equal treatment. For that same reason, fewer than one-third of white Americans approve of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has protested police shootings and mistreatment of black civilians. Many whites flatly deny that police discriminate against blacks, and portray the protesters as dangerous thugs. When Americans look back at the BLM movement a half-century from now, will they paint a rosier picture? (Webmaster's comment: Most white males want to rule and will resist with violence any challenge to that rule.)
1-20-17 Damning police report
Damning police report
The Chicago Police Department routinely violates civilians’ civil rights, uses excessive force, and discriminates against minority residents, according to a blistering report released last week by the Justice Department. During the 13-month study, federal investigators found that officers regularly shot unarmed suspects in the back; dropped off young people in rival-gang neighborhoods, endangering their lives; and used a Taser on an unarmed, naked 65-year-old woman with a mental illness. Some officers also posted racist comments and pictures of dead black men on social media. The report could lead to a consent decree that would institute new police training and practices in the city. The Trump administration has spoken out against such decrees, saying they prevent police from doing their job. The report came amid a surge in violence in Chicago, where murders are at a 20-year high.
1-20-17 Only in America
Only in America
An Indiana lawmaker is pushing a bill to make it illegal for state residents to change genders on birth certificates, which could make it impossible for transgender people to get driver’s licenses and other key documents. Republican Rep. Bruce Borders said that gender change “is perception overwriting the truth,” and that officially recognizing it would justify someone who “feels 45, not 56,” to change his birth date.
1-20-17 'I'm a transgender woman - ask me your invasive questions
'I'm a transgender woman - ask me your invasive questions
A transgender woman who offered people the chance to ask "invasive questions" on an internet forum has been overwhelmed by the response. Gwen, 24, from Pennsylvania, hosted an "ask me anything" (AMA) session on the online community site Reddit. She received almost 2,000 questions and comments, mostly from "supportive and respectful people". "I figure very few of you know trans people in your everyday lives and might be afraid to ask questions at the risk of offending someone, so I thought I'd give you all the opportunity to learn from someone who will answer your invasive questions," she said. One Redditor wrote: "I think you just won over half of Reddit right there." Another said: "You're very beautiful, and I'm glad you found the happiness that you were searching for. Thanks for sharing with us." These are some of the questions she was asked.
- When did you first know you wanted to be female?
- Do people treat you differently?
- How did your body change with HRT?
- When did you first feel like you were really a woman?
- What was it like coming out to friends and family?
- Will you have the op?
- What do you wish people understood about you?
1-19-17 Jewish centres across US evacuated after hoax bomb threats
Jewish centres across US evacuated after hoax bomb threats
The FBI is investigating a second wave of threats to Jewish facilities across the US in the last month. On Wednesday, 27 Jewish community centres in 17 US states reported receiving hoax bomb threats. The telephone calls prompted evacuations, but no explosives were found or injuries reported. No one has claimed responsibility for any of the calls, which first targeted 16 Jewish community centres in nine US states on 9 January. (Webmaster's comment: Hate Crimes have increased and spread outward from just immigrants and Muslims into the rest of our American communities since Trump's election empowered the Haters and help spread their white ayran superiority thinking. Hitler's intellectual heir takes office on Friday. Within his first term all Muslims will be rounded up and placed in (safety) (work) (correctional) (prison) camps. Their treatment there will be appalling, but who cares, they're only Muslims! LGBTs, Atheists, and Jews will follow. Physical correction of their "problems" will be probably employed there such as FGM and sterilization to protect the pure white ayran race from being diluted.)
1-19-17 LGBT dance party staged outside incoming US vice-president Mike Pence's house
LGBT dance party staged outside incoming US vice-president Mike Pence's house
LGBT activists who aren't happy about Mike Pence becoming US vice-president have staged a dance party protest outside his house. Hundreds of people dressed in glow sticks and rainbow colours danced to Beyonce, Whitney Houston and The Bee Gees. They took to the streets at Mr Pence's temporary home near Washington DC. He will be sworn in as US vice-president on Friday. They may have been protesting, but the mood on Wednesday night was celebratory, with dancers of all ages dressed in tutus, gold jumpsuits and wearing face paint. Mr Pence's previous record on LGBT issues mean that many within that community aren't happy about him becoming the second most powerful man in the US. He is against same-sex marriage and was opposed to giving legal rights to LGBT students in Indiana who wanted to use the bathroom of the gender they identified most with. In the past, he's also supported gay conversion therapy and as governor of Indiana, signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act despite fears it could lead to the discrimination of LGBT people.
1-18-17 Killing ObamaCare will literally kill people
Killing ObamaCare will literally kill people
the GOP repeals ObamaCare, Americans will die. Lots of them. Nonetheless, Republicans are laying the groundwork to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health reform law, which has delivered health insurance to well over 20 million people. So let's speak plainly: You simply cannot scrap this law without negatively affecting the health of far too many of these 20 million people. It is indisputable that killing ObamaCare will actually kill people. (Don't believe Republican claims that they'll replace ObamaCare with something terrific. They won't.) None of this is to say that ObamaCare is awesome. It isn't. The insurance provided on the ObamaCare exchanges is pretty lousy for many people. Many of the exchanges have not attracted enough young people, the deductibles and premiums are too high, the subsidies are too stingy, the provider networks are too narrow, and it seems to be getting worse over time. The basic structure of the exchanges — a jerry-rigged device "trying to use markets to distribute something that, at the end of the day, we don’t want distributed according to market forces," as James Kwak writes — is patently rather silly. Yet as Jordan Weissmann argues, neither are the exchanges close to actual collapse. Millions of people are getting relatively decent insurance, and millions more have coverage that's at least better than nothing. More importantly, the majority of the coverage increase under ObamaCare has come from Medicaid expansion. This part of the law is an unqualified success, at least in the states where the expansion took hold. The bottom line is clear: ObamaCare is imperfect, but it is far better than nothing. So what happens if Republicans repeal ObamaCare and replace it with nothing? What toll of misery and death shall be collected? (Webmaster's comment: Remember the capitalist objective is to bankrupt the medical patient and strip them of all their wealth before they die. All hail free enterprise and the rich! Protecting the wealth of the rich and getting more of it has been the only objective of capitalism since Adam Smith "justified it." The life and death of others is simply not relevent.)
1-18-17 Obama leaving with high approval rating
Obama leaving with high approval rating
Two new polls show President Barack Obama leaving office with one of the highest approval ratings for any departing US president. Separate polls conducted by The Washington Post/ABC and CNN/ORC both found Mr Obama with 60% approval. A majority approve of his economic policy, but polls show a deep divide between Democrats and Republicans. The nation's first African American president will hold his final press conference later on Wednesday. Only Presidents Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton have handed over the White House keys with higher favourability ratings.
1-18-17 Moth with 'golden flake hairstyle' named after Donald Trump
Moth with 'golden flake hairstyle' named after Donald Trump
A tiny moth with a very recognisable "hairstyle" has become the first creature named after the soon-to-be 45th president of the United States. The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi was discovered in California by researcher Vazrick Nazari, of Ottawa, Canada. The name was inspired by the striking golden flakes covering its head, which he likened to Donald Trump's famous mop. (Webmaster's comment: They should have picked a new species that was mostly nothing but a BIG MOUTH.)
1-16-17 These 8 super-rich men hold half the world's wealth
These 8 super-rich men hold half the world's wealth
If you need a startling statistic to put into perspective the growing gap between the world's rich and the world's poor, consider this: Just eight people hold half the world's wealth. That's the take-home message from a new report from anti-poverty organization Oxfam, which found that the money amassed by these super-wealthy individuals equals that of the world's 3.6 billion poorest people. The eight richest people, all men, are listed below, in order of net worth:
- Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, $75 billion
- Amancio Ortega Gaona, Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, $67 billion
- Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion
- Carlos Slim Helú, Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion
- Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, $45.2 billion
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, $44.6 billion
- Lawrence Ellison, founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion
- Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg L.P., $40 billion
(Webmaster's comment: These rich capitalists could easily finance the shortfall of funds caused by the Republicans cutback of funds for Planned Parenthood, but that will never happen. Planned Parenthood spends maybe 1.5 billion at most. A drop in the bucket compared to the 426 billion these guys are sitting on. How could they ever live with that much less? Greed Rules!)
World and business leaders are meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, and Oxfam released the report in an attempt to urge these leaders to do more about the growing income gap. "It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. "Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy." In 2015, a similar report found 62 people held as much wealth as the bottom half. (Webmaster's comment: No system of Free Enterprize and Liberty and Democracy and Freedom justifys this! No person can EARN this much no matter how hard they work.)
1-13-17 Trump plans to fire the head of the D.C. National Guard in the middle of the inauguration
Trump plans to fire the head of the D.C. National Guard in the middle of the inauguration
The head of the Washington, D.C., National Guard will be fired effective the same moment Donald Trump is sworn in as president, on Jan. 20 at 12:01 p.m, Talking Points Memo reports. The thousands of National Guard troops overseeing inauguration festivities will effectively lose their commander midday: "My troops will be on the street," Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz told The Washington Post. "I'll see them off but I won't be able to welcome them back to the armory." Schwartz, 65, said he did not know why he was being dismissed. Unlike other states, the National Guard chief in D.C. is appointed and dismissed by the president directly. "The timing is extremely unusual," Schwartz said, adding that he would "never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle." While bizarre, the decision might not be a total surprise; the president-elect previously ordered that all of President Barack Obama's ambassadors leave their posts by Inauguration Day. (Webmaster's comment: I hope this is nothing ominous, but given Trump's many behavioral simularities to Hitler it would wise to keep a close eye on developments during that day.)
1-13-17 Trudeau reaffirms support for immigration and Canadian Muslims
Trudeau reaffirms support for immigration and Canadian Muslims
Speaking about the differences between US and Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphatically reaffirmed his support for feminism, immigration and Muslim nationals. (Webmaster's comment: Obviously young, smart, and a decent human being! The difference between him and our new Fuhrer is the difference between day and darkest night.)
1-13-17 Press regulators need to act when scientific facts are denied
Press regulators need to act when scientific facts are denied
Journalists do not deserve the backing of press regulators when they deny facts such as those on anthropogenic climate change, says Phillip Williamson. Ocean acidification is an inevitable consequence of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s a matter of fact. We don’t know exactly what will happen to complex marine ecosystems when faced with the additional stress of falling pH, but we do know those changes are happening and that they won’t be good news. UK journalist James Delingpole disagrees. In an article for The Spectator in April 2016, he took the sceptical position that all concerns over ocean acidification are unjustified “alarmism” and that the scientific study of this non-problem is a waste of money. He concluded that the only reason that the study of ocean acidification was ever funded at all was because there was insufficient (and decreasing) evidence for global warming and it acted as a “fallback position”. Having had the role of science coordinator for the UK Ocean Acidification research programme and being involved in relevant national and international projects for around 10 years previously, I know such claims – which Delingpole presented as facts – to be false. I also spotted a range of other errors and inaccuracies in his piece. Having first gone to The Spectator with my concerns, in late August I submitted a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). The key issues were whether or not due care had been taken to avoid publication of inaccurate information, and whether comment and conjecture had been clearly distinguished from fact.
1-12-17 Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny
Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny
Limits on ability to study drug hamper efforts to weigh public health benefits, concerns. Cannabis plants such as this one yield marijuana and other substances that deserve expanded study for possible medical benefits, a large research review recommends. But negative physical and psychological effects of cannabis products can’t be ignored, the report says. Marijuana’s medical promise deserves closer, better-funded scientific scrutiny, a new state-of-the-science report concludes. The report, released January 12 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C., calls for expanding research on potential medical applications of cannabis and its products, including marijuana and chemical components called cannabinoids. Big gaps in knowledge remain about health effects of cannabis use, for good or ill. Efforts to study these effects are hampered by federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule 1 status makes it difficult for researchers to access cannabis. The new report recommends reclassifying the substance to make it easier to study.
1-12-17 'Populist leaders' encourage rights abuses, Human Rights Watch says
'Populist leaders' encourage rights abuses, Human Rights Watch says
The HRW report accuses Donald Trump of making "appeals to racism". The rise of "populist leaders" in the US and Europe is endangering human rights and encouraging abuse by autocrats, Human Rights Watch has said. The organisation's annual world report voiced concern about US president-elect Donald Trump "after a campaign fomenting hatred". It also highlighted the rise of political parties in Europe that scapegoat those fleeing persecution. The report said the post-war human rights system was at grave risk. It named Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, and China as countries where strongman leaders present themselves as the guarantors of prosperity and security, rather than accountable government and the rule of law. Introducing the report, the group's executive director Kenneth Roth said Donald Trump had rejected the basic principles of dignity and equality in his pre-poll rhetoric. He said the Trump campaign's proposals amounted to torture, mass deportations, and a curb on women's rights and press freedom. "Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism," he added. "They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. "In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny."
1-12-17 Trump Organization handover plan slammed by ethics chief
Trump Organization handover plan slammed by ethics chief
Journalists were not allowed to examine documents handing control to Mr Trump's sons. The director of the US Office of Government Ethics has criticised Donald Trump's plan to hand control of his business empire to his sons before his inauguration on 20 January. The plan does not match the "standards" of US presidents over the last 40 years, Walter Shaub said. A Trump lawyer said earlier the new trust would face "severe restrictions" on new deals. But Mr Shaub said the plan would not remove conflicts of interest. "Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture," he said, referring to a process whereby Mr Trump would sell off his corporate assets and put the profits into a blind trust run by an independent trustee. At a news conference on Wednesday, lawyer Sherri Dillon said that management of the Trump Organization would be transferred to a trust controlled by Mr Trump's sons Don and Eric and chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. The Trump Organization is an umbrella company for Donald Trump's hundreds of investments in real estate, brands and other businesses. (Webmaster's comment: As I have already said Trump has no intent of obeying any laws. The first steps to establishing a dictatorship are well underway.)
1-12-17 Trump: Obamacare repeal and replace to go 'simultaneously'
Trump: Obamacare repeal and replace to go 'simultaneously'
President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as soon as his health secretary pick is confirmed. In his first news conference since July, Mr Trump said he would submit a plan to repeal and replace the 2010 law "essentially simultaneously". Senate Republicans have started a process to repeal parts of the law. They voted 51-48 overnight to instruct key committees to draft the corresponding legislation. But there seems little consensus on what would replace Obamacare. Mr Trump's remarks clash with congressional Republicans' plan to repeal the law, but delay the process to pass legislation on a substitute for up to three years. The president-elect said he would like to see President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, also known as Obamacare, repealed and replaced "probably the same day, could be the same hour". (Webmaster's comment: Trump also plans to gut Medicare and Social Security by turning them over to the private sector and the stock markets. So after the rich strip retirees of their savings and healthcare, and after the next stockmarket crash, the rich will really have all the money and the rest of us will really have virtually none. You think the great depression was bad, you haven't seen nothing yet.)
1-12-17 The gay sex assault sketch that divided Nigerians
The gay sex assault sketch that divided Nigerians
In a country in which same-sex sexual activity is illegal and LGBT rights do not exist, a sketch by a Nigerian comedian depicting a gay man who is about to be sexually assaulted has sparked a heated debate. In the video, a gay man, played by well-known actor and comic Ogusbaba, is seen lying in bed at home looking at his mobile phone when a visitor comes to the door. The visitor is enthusiastically welcomed in - but has unexpectedly brought two heavies along with him, who confront Ogusbaba's character about his sexuality and use threatening language towards him. As the video draws to a close the gay man is held down on a bed while the other three men threaten to sexually assault him. The video - which emerged at the end of November last year - was recently reposted on a gossip page on Facebook. There it went viral, and has been viewed more than 390,000 times. Ogusbaba insists that the skit "is just to make my fans laugh and to promote my tour." "I have my own views about LGBT people," he tells BBC Trending. "It's strictly personal, I have nothing against them."
1-11-17 Preventing Big Cannabis: How to nip marijuana lobby in the bud
Preventing Big Cannabis: How to nip marijuana lobby in the bud
A powerful lobby could be an unintended consequence of legalising the drug. Could Canada's regulatory approach ensure public health comes before profit? CANNABIS is going legit. This year, Canada will become the latest country to join a small but growing number of regions where it is legal to smoke marijuana. But some fear that this global trend could lead to the plant’s growers and sellers taking control of the market to maximise profits and recruit new users, and fighting any controls on its sales and marketing techniques. One worry is that, left unchecked, the cannabis industry might become as rich and powerful as the tobacco and alcohol industries did in the last century. “The marijuana industry is where tobacco was in about 1890,” says Stanton Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco. “Tobacco went on to develop immense political power, hire lawyers and lobbyists and dominate regulators.” Canada offers an alternative approach, one in which public health is at the forefront. Under plans published last month, cannabis would be as tightly regulated as tobacco or alcohol. Is this enough to halt the rise of Big Cannabis? In the West, the case for legalising cannabis has been gaining ground for some time. It has long been the most widely used recreational drug, yet in most parts of the world it is criminalised. This ruins lives, wastes police time and fills jails.
1-11-17 The filth they breathe in China
The filth they breathe in China
How China's poisonous air and water is literally killing millions of Chinese people. nter has returned to northern China. And so has the country's trademark, deadly smog. The central government recently declared its first-ever national red alert for air quality, with pollution levels hovering over 12 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization. Indeed, China's unprecedented growth has come at a horrific social cost that is just beginning to get serious attention. The political leadership of China, like Japan and South Korea before it, put economic growth far above environmental protection or health concerns, and the country now faces a catastrophically polluted countryside. Nearly all aspects of China's environment are affected, and the true economic and health effects are only now becoming apparent. Pollution in China is at an unsustainable level. The cost in lives and the cost of cleaning up China's ruined rivers, lakes, skies, and soil are staggering. Just as significant will be the economic cost of changing the way business is done in China to prevent further environmental destruction. The lack of industrial regulation, the burning of dirty coal, and the rapid growth in private ownership of cars have combined to create one of the world's worst air pollution problems. On one of my first trips to Beijing, as our plane touched down in the early afternoon, the sky looked as though it was dusk, a phenomenon universally noted by visitors. The rarity of sunny and blue sky is avidly remarked on by everyone from shopkeepers to government officials — the latter, of course, off the record. (Webmaster's comment: This is what Trump's gutting the EPA will get you!)
1-10-17 Brazil: Clash of cultures over Amazon dams
Brazil: Clash of cultures over Amazon dams
Indigenous groups and river dwellers are battling the government and big corporations over the huge dams being built to meet Brazil's energy needs. The Belo Monte hydroelectric dam is the world's fourth largest dam, capable of generating 11,000 MW of energy, and more are planned. (Webmaster's comment: It doesn't matter that these are the indigenous peoples' lands. They are doomed in the name of profits for the rich, energy and food for the rest of us!)
1-10-17 Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules
Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules
Switzerland has won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obliging Muslim parents to send their children to mixed swimming lessons. It said authorities were justified in giving precedence to enforcing "the full school curriculum" and the children's "successful integration" into society. The ECHR acknowledged that religious freedom was being interfered with. But judges said it did not amount to a violation. The case was brought by two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, who refused to send their teenage daughters to the compulsory mixed lessons in the city of Basel. Education officials, however, said that exemptions were available only for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls had not reached at the time. In 2010, after a long-running dispute, the parents were ordered to pay a combined fine of 1,400 Swiss Francs ($1,380, £1,136) "for acting in breach of their parental duty". They argued that such treatment was a violation of article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In a statement, the ECHR said the refusal to exempt the girls had interfered with the right to freedom of religion. But it also said the law involved was designed to "protect foreign pupils from any form of social exclusion" and Switzerland was free to design its education system according to its own needs and traditions. Schools, it said, played an important role in social integration, and exemptions from some lessons are "justified only in very exceptional circumstances". (Webmaster's comment: If the education system is supposed to be coeducational them religion should take a backseat, PERIOD! This is no longer the dark ages!)
1-8-17 The US Air Force's commuter drone warriors
The US Air Force's commuter drone warriors
In the past, soldiers went off to war and left their families behind. But drone pilots commute to work - and to war - each day. Vin Ray was given rare access to the only US Air Force base devoted entirely to flying drones, where he discovered the pilots' strange double life. Obviously, the drive itself is simple. But the psychological journey is altogether different. Imagine. Between six in the evening and six in the morning you might collect your kids from school, pick up some groceries on the way home and help make dinner. But between 6am and 6pm you have a licence to kill. (Webmaster's comment: And if make a mistake and kill innocent people there is no danger, no repercussions. You talk it over with a psychiatrist who convinces you that you must put it in your past and must go on for the good of yourself, your family and your nation. Eventually you'll be killing "bad" and "undesirable" American citizens in America with drones for the "good of your family and the nation." Probably within the next 8 to 16 years - 2 to 4 presidential terms. Citizens will have no defense against drones with Hellfire missiles. Guilt or innocence will make no difference. Being a suspect will be sufficent to merit a drone Hellfire missile attack just as it is sufficent now for non-Americans.)
1-6-17 Texas Republicans fuel new row with transgender toilet bill
Texas Republicans fuel new row with transgender toilet bill
Top Republicans in the US state of Texas have unveiled a bill that would ban transgender people from using the toilet of their choice. The Texas Privacy Act follows similar legislation in North Carolina that sparked protests and business boycotts. The Texas bill would force transgender people to use toilets in schools and other public buildings according to the gender on their birth certificate. "It's the right thing to do," said Lt Gov Dan Patrick as he set out the plan. "The people of Texas elected us to stand up for common sense, common decency and public safety." Public bathrooms have become a flashpoint in the battle over transgender rights in the US. Like other conservative Republicans, Lt Gov Dan Patrick, who holds the second highest position in Texas government, has argued that the bill in necessary to protect women from being attacked by men in public toilets. But that argument has been rejected by opponents, who say legislation should be used instead to target sexual predators. North Carolina's law, which went into effect last year, caused companies, entertainers and sporting events to pull out of the state, potentially causing it to lose billions in revenue. Despite that fallout, lawmakers in at least two other states, Virginia and Kentucky, have also introduced similar bills.
1-6-17 The battle over voter ID
The battle over voter ID
The evidence suggests it is extremely rare. In the 2016 election, state officials found a few dozen suspected incidents of voter fraud among the 137.7 million votes cast. All previous research conducted on voter fraud has reached the same conclusion: A tiny, insignificant number of people attempt to impersonate other voters in order to cast ballots. In a comprehensive study, the investigative journalism organization News21 identified just 2,068 incidents of alleged election fraud among the hundreds of millions of ballots cast in all U.S. elections between 2000 and 2012. A 2014 study by Loyola Law School in Los Angeles unearthed only 31 instances of voter impersonation among the more than 1 billion ballots cast in all U.S. elections since 2000. Richard Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine, says that data from this and previous elections show that Trump’s claim of millions of illegal votes is “obscenely ludicrous.”
- How common is voter fraud?
- So why is voter fraud a hot-button issue?
- Has that ever been investigated?
- Do Democrats disagree?
- Do these laws depress turnout?
- Voting laws under Trump
1-6-17 Misinformation: Why facts are now irrelevant
Misinformation: Why facts are now irrelevant
Here’s some unsurprising yet depressing news, said Catherine Rampell in WashingtonPost.com. “Many Americans believe a lot of dumb, crazy, destructive, provably wrong stuff.” Recent polls have found that nearly half of Donald Trump voters still believe the “bizarre theory” that Hillary Clinton helped run a child sex slave ring in a Washington, D.C., pizza joint, and 52 percent are certain Trump won the popular vote. (He lost by 3 million votes.) Liberals aren’t much better. About half of Clinton supporters “believe that Russia tampered with vote tallies to help elect Trump”—which is simply not true—while many still think, against all credible evidence, that vaccines cause autism. Sadly, it seems that “the facts of political life are now subject to partisan interpretation,” said Juan Williams in TheHill.com. One survey found that 67 percent of Trump voters say unemployment grew during President Obama’s term in office, even though it shrank from 7.8 percent to 4.6 percent. For a democratic system “based on the consent of voters who are fully informed,” the epidemic of willful ignorance is deeply troubling.
1-6-17 Talking points
Black males made up 34 percent of the unarmed people killed by police, though black males are 6 percent of the population.
In the U.S., respondents believed that one in every six people is a Muslim. It’s actually one in 100.
1-5-17 Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence
Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence
Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.
Source: Mass Shooting Tracker
School shootings: There were 64 school shootings in 2015, according to a dedicated campaign group set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in 2012. Those figures include occasions when a gun was fired but no-one was hurt.
Source: Everytown for Gun Safety Research
All shootings: Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide]. Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.
Source: Gun Violence Archive
How the US compares: The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 - the most recent year for comparable statistics - was nearly 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1.
Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.
The home front: So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.
According to figures from the US Department of Justice and the Council on Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died on average annually in firearm incidents in the US between 2001 and 2011.
In the same period, an average of 517 people were killed annually in terror-related incidents. Removing 2001, when 9/11 occurred, from the calculation produces an annual average of just 31.
Buy More Guns and Kill More Americans.
It's An American Right.
Of Course Not, But it Seems To Be What Many Americans Do!
1-5-17 US Congress just made it easier to ditch science for politics
US Congress just made it easier to ditch science for politics
Two new bills could undermine safety and other regulations by giving politicians license to ignore evidence that runs counter to their ideas. The US Congress is back in session, and it seems they have had enough of experts, too. The new Republican-led House of Representatives votes this week on two bills that would effectively toss out evidence-based reasoning from the process of deciding which regulations to enforce. If passed, the bills could undermine everything from rules about clean water to the Endangered Species Act. “It’s replacing a science-based process with a political process,” says Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Supporters of the bills are talking about cutting through bureaucracy and increasing transparency, but the provisions could effectively give Congress licence to shut down or ignore research around regulations. In the US, before a regulatory agency can write regulations, it must first analyse the problem and figure out several plausible ways to address it. These must meet scientific standards like peer review. This kind of substantial scientific analysis underpins all the basic public health and safety protections including clean air, clean water, clean drinking water, and environmental protections. “What Congress is saying is, OK, that’s all well and good, but we don’t have to care about any of that – we’re just going to vote on whether we like it,” says Rosenberg. “This diminishes the role of science in our public policy process.”
1-5-17 What does the future hold for Guantanamo?
What does the future hold for Guantanamo?
These are uncertain times at Guantanamo Bay. Not only for the detainees but also those who guard them. After eight years in which President Obama has tried - and failed - to close the detention facility, what will President Trump mean for its future? The first detainees arrived at Camp X-Ray 15 years ago in the early months of what was then called the "War on Terror". I first visited a few weeks later and watched the men in orange jumpsuits in steel cages in the hot Cuban sun. Guantanamo had been chosen partly because it was not US soil and so avoided coming under regular US law. The camp then had a thrown together feel - the Bush administration was improvising and no-one was sure how long it would last. The next time I visited - two years later - Camp X-Ray had been replaced by the more permanent structure of Camp Delta. Guantanamo was here to stay. Its numbers grew - around 700 at its peak. But on his second day in office eight years ago President Obama promised to close the facility and the pace of transfers increased. On my visit a few weeks ago, I found much of the Camp eerily empty, a lone iguana roaming around the barbed wire. But closing Guantanamo was a promise President Obama could not keep, partly because Congress blocked the transfer of any detainees to the US. (Webmaster's comment: America's very own torture and death camp. Trump will love filling it and then making more room in it by killing off it's inmates, guilty of anything or not.)
1-4-17 Donald Trump says Guantanamo Bay releases must end
Donald Trump says Guantanamo Bay releases must end
US President-elect Donald Trump says there must be no further releases of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. He said those left were "extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield". President Barack Obama had vowed to close the jail during his tenure and has transferred out many prisoners. Around 60 inmates remain and the White House said later on Tuesday it expected more transfers before 20 January. Mr Trump had opposed Mr Obama's closure plan during the presidential election campaign. Last February he said: "This morning, I watched President Obama talking about Gitmo, right, Guantanamo Bay, which by the way, which by the way, we are keeping open. "Which we are keeping open... and we're gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we're gonna load it up." (Webmaster's comment: American's very own torture and death camp. Trump and Hitler would be proud! Our nation's leaders will be beyond redemption!)
1-4-17 Ellen DeGeneres bans Kim Burrell after homophobic comments
Ellen DeGeneres bans Kim Burrell after homophobic comments
Ellen DeGeneres has said Kim Burrell will not appear on her show after the gospel singer made homophobic comments. Burrell referred to "the perverted homosexual spirit" during a sermon at a church in Houston, Texas. She had been due to sing with Pharrell Williams on The Ellen DeGeneres Show later this week. But the talk show host, who is a well-known advocate of gay rights, tweeted: "For those asking, Kim Burrell will not be appearing on my show." (Webmaster's comment: Like I've said on my billboards, "Shun the Haters, Cast them Out!")
1-4-17 Marijuana brands aim for high-end retail in Canada
Marijuana brands aim for high-end retail in Canada
With retailers jockeying for position before cannabis is fully legalised in Canada, "seedy" so-called head shops could soon be a thing of the past.
1-3-17 Germany sees 'overwhelming' sales of Hitler's Mein Kampf
Germany sees 'overwhelming' sales of Hitler's Mein Kampf
A Nazi-era copy of Mein Kampf: It was Hitler's manifesto for conquest and racial intolerance. The German publisher of a special annotated edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf says sales have soared since its launch a year ago. About 85,000 German-language copies of the anti-Semitic Nazi manifesto have been sold. Publisher Andreas Wirsching said "the figures overwhelmed us". He is director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich. At the end of January the IfZ will launch a sixth print run. The book contains critical notes by scholars. Unlike the Nazi-era editions, the IfZ's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has a plain white cover - without a picture of Hitler. The swastika and other Nazi symbols are banned in Germany. The IfZ edition of Mein Kampf includes copious notes by scholars providing context. Mr Wirsching told the German news agency DPA that the IfZ was planning a shorter, French-language edition. "But two-thirds of our commentaries will be translated" for it, he said. The first print run in Germany in 2016 was 4,000 copies. (Webmaster's comment: He's back in spirit and in many countries and in many leaders and in America!)
1-3-17 Kim Burrell: Gospel star defends homophobic comments
Kim Burrell: Gospel star defends homophobic comments
Gospel singer Kim Burrell has said she makes "no excuses or apologies'' for a sermon at a US church where she referred to gay people as perverted. The singer, due to sing with Pharrell Williams on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week, was taped at the Love & Liberty Fellowship church in Houston. She referred to "the perverted homosexual spirit" in her sermon. In a later video, Burrell said "I love you and God loves you but God hates the sin in you and me." "I never said all gays were going to hell. I never said 'LGBT'... I said 'SIN'," she added in the Facebook Live broadcast. "To every person who is dealing with the homosexual spirit, that has it, I love you and God loves you but God hates the sin in you and me. Anything that is against the nature of God. "I make no excuses or apologies. My love is as pure as it comes." She said "enemies" had posted only a portion of her original speech. (Webmaster's comment: Empowered by the election of Trump the homophobes will now be coming be coming out in droves!)
1-3-17 China: Limited victory for man in transgender dismissal case
China: Limited victory for man in transgender dismissal case
A transgender man has won his case for unfair dismissal at a court in China. Mr C, who was born a woman but identifies and dresses as a man, was working at a health centre in Guiyang last year when he was fired. The court said he had been illegally dismissed, but said there was not enough evidence to rule he had been fired due to discrimination against transgender people. Mr C told AFP news agency that he was "quite happy" with the outcome. But he said that the court's decision to reject discrimination as the cause showed that "legislation in this field requires greater attention". Mr C had only worked at the Ciming Health Check-up Centre for a week when he was told to leave. He says it was because he wore men's clothing. A news report at the time quoted a manager as saying that his appearance "really didn't fit our standards". The court awarded him a month's wages, reports said. Mr C took the case to court after losing a complaint at a labour tribunal.
1-2-17 How fertiliser helped feed the world
How fertiliser helped feed the world
It has been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, and without it almost half the world's population would not be alive today. A hundred years ago two German chemists, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, devised a way to transform nitrogen in the air into fertiliser, using what became known as the Haber-Bosch process. But Haber's place in history is controversial. He is also considered the "father of chemical warfare" for his years of work developing and weaponising chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War One. Plants need nitrogen: it is one of their five basic requirements, along with potassium, phosphorus, water and sunlight. In a natural state, plants grow, they die, the nitrogen they contain returns to the soil, and new plants use it to grow. Agriculture disrupts that cycle: we harvest the plants, and eat them. From the earliest days of agriculture, farmers discovered various ways to prevent crop yields from declining over time: by restoring nitrogen to their fields. Manure has nitrogen. So does compost. The roots of legumes host bacteria that replenish nitrogen levels. That is why it helps to include peas or beans in crop rotation.
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