147 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for September 2017
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
9-29-17 Malaysians in a lather over laundrette for Muslims
Malaysians in a lather over laundrette for Muslims
Laundrettes offering their services to only Muslim customers have stirred up quite a debate in Malaysia, where about two-thirds of the population practise Islam. A photograph of a signboard advertising the "Muslim-friendly" laundrette in the state of Johor first started circulating on social media earlier this week. "This laundrette only accepts Muslim customers for reasons of purity," it said. "Any inconvenience is very much regretted." The owner, who did not want to be identified, told The Star newspaper: "For Muslims, it is not just about clean clothes but cleanliness as a whole. I am just providing an avenue for Muslims to do that." He also told The Malaysian Insight website that his customers had requested such a service. The website said the sign had been put up about a month ago. Many Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, expressed dismay at the news - including the state's sultan, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar, who said the royal family were "deeply appalled" by the incident. He ordered the laundrette to stop its discrimination immediately or risk being shut down. While sultans in Malaysia are largely ceremonial heads of state and do not have regulatory powers, they are the authorities on Islam and wield considerable political influence. "This is not a Taliban state and as the head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature," he told The Star. "This is Johor... and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state." The incident has stirred deep feelings in Malaysia, where the balance between respecting Islamic law and customs and ensuring constitutional freedoms is a hot topic. (Webmaster's comment: Muslims can be just as intolerant as Christians!)
9-30-17 Puerto Rico: Trump lashes out at San Juan mayor over Maria response
Puerto Rico: Trump lashes out at San Juan mayor over Maria response
Donald Trump has lashed out at Puerto Rico politicians over their criticism of US relief efforts on the island following Hurricane Maria. The category four hurricane a week ago killed 16 people on the island and left millions in need of aid. In a series of tweets, Trump said that Puerto Rican officials showed "poor leadership ability" and "want everything to be done for them". It comes after the Mayor of San Juan made a desperate plea for federal help. "We have no time for patience any more," said Carmen Yulin Cruz in a news conference. "I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives. "I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell." (Webmaster's comment: Trump attacks citizens of the United States that need help! He is one of the meanest men on earth!)
9-30-17 US health secretary Tom Price quits after plane scandal
US health secretary Tom Price quits after plane scandal
US Health Secretary Tom Price has resigned over the use of expensive private planes for official business. He previously apologised after making 26 private flights since May at a cost of $400,000 (£300,000) to taxpayers. Government officials, except those dealing with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work related travel. Three other members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are under scrutiny for using private planes while working. A White House statement said President Trump had accepted Mr Price's resignation, adding that Don J Wright had been designated as acting health secretary. Mr Wright is currently deputy assistant secretary for health. In his letter of resignation, seen by the New York Times, Mr Price said he regretted that "recent events have created a distraction" from the work of the health department. An investigation by the political news website Politico found that Mr Price's travels had cost more than $1m (£750,000). As well as the $400,000 for private flights, that figure includes the cost of military aircraft used for Mr Price's trips abroad, Politico added. (Webmaster's comment: Our white house is full of crooks led by the biggest crook of all!)
9-29-17 The NFL is not a 'safe space'
The NFL is not a 'safe space'
The Founders of this nation were a radical bunch. Only true revolutionaries would dare to enshrine freedom of speech as the very first, and most fundamental, constitutional right. Human beings don't find it natural to tolerate views we find threatening or offensive; when people upset or challenge us, our instinct is to make them shut the hell up. For people in power, that temptation is nearly irresistible. This is why the first act of every tyrant is to suppress dissent — and why the First Amendment has always been fragile, especially in times of national crisis. In the current crisis, threats to free speech are coming from both the left and the right. Leftist inquisitors have turned college campuses and insular liberal communities into "safe spaces" where "hate speech" — and even mainstream conservative ideas — are impermissible. Violators are banned, fired, and silenced by any means necessary. "Shut it down!" is these righteous censors' rallying cry. Now it is President Trump who is shouting, "Shut it down." He doesn't think African-American NFL players should be "allowed" to kneel during the national anthem as a political protest, and is demanding the league fire them. His stance requires a certain lack of self-awareness, given that Trump began his political career by saying deliberately outrageous and offensive things — insisting, for example, that former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain was no war hero, because he was taken captive (loser!), and that the then-sitting president was a foreign-born Muslim impostor with no legal right to the office. In certain countries whose authoritarian leaders Trump admires, such impertinence can get you hauled off to a gulag, or your head chopped off by a hooded executioner with a scimitar. Look: Free speech can be very upsetting. But honoring everyone's right to speak is the only hope we have of seeing anything from another point of view. Let's deal with it, and stop acting like a nation of snowflakes.
9-29-17 Quantum video chat links scientists on two different continents
Quantum video chat links scientists on two different continents
Demo of ultrasecure internet connection is a step toward global quantum communications. A telescope in Graz, Austria, received particles of light beamed down to Earth from the Chinese satellite Micius. Those photons encode a quantum encryption key used in a secure quantum videoconference. A laser on the telescope tracks the satellite’s location in the sky. Hackers, take notice: Ultrasecure quantum video chats are now possible across the globe. In a demonstration of the world’s first intercontinental quantum link, scientists held a long-distance videoconference on September 29 between Austria and China. To secure the communication, a Chinese satellite distributed a quantum key, a secret string of numbers used to encrypt the video transmission so that no one could eavesdrop on the conversation. In the call, chemist Chunli Bai, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, spoke with quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger, president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. “It’s a huge achievement,” says quantum physicist Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo in Canada, who was not involved with the project. “It’s a major step to show that this approach could be viable.” (Webmaster's comment: Notice who's taking the lead in cutting-edge technology. It's China and Europe, not the United States.)
9-29-17 Tax plan unveiled
Tax plan unveiled
President Trump and GOP lawmakers this week outlined sweeping changes to the federal tax code, proposing to slash taxes for companies and individuals while eliminating many exemptions and deductions. The plan, which Republicans characterized as a starting point for negotiations, would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent, while doubling the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. The corporate tax rate would fall to 20 percent from 35 percent, with a new 25 percent rate for pass-through businesses, which are now taxed like income. The plan could decrease tax revenue by $5 trillion over 10 years, but Republicans propose to make up more than half that by eliminating yet-to-be-specified loopholes. “People say health care was hard,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “You have no idea how this is going to be.”
9-29-17 We pay less taxes than anyone else!
We pay less taxes than anyone else!
The U.S. actually taxes its citizens less than almost any other developed nation. Of the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, only South Korea, Ireland, Chile, and Mexico collect less taxes than the U.S. as a share of GDP.
9-29-17 Retirement: How to pay for rising health-care costs
Retirement: How to pay for rising health-care costs
“Health care can be one of the biggest expenses for retirees,” said Kelli Grant in CNBC.com, “and those costs are growing.” Fidelity Investments estimates that a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 will need $275,000 to cover their health-care costs in retirement, up from $260,000 last year. Even though Medicare covers the bulk of seniors’ health-care expenses, out-of-pocket costs can add up fast. Fidelity’s calculation factors in what typical retirees might spend on premiums, cost-sharing provisions, and costs associated with Medicare Parts A, B, and D. But it’s far from the final tally, and “does not include other health expenses such as over-the-counter medications, dental services, and long-term care.” It’s a “ballpark number,” to be sure, said Katie Lobosco in Money?.com. How long you live and your general state of health can change the number enormously. But costs are expected only to rise, and younger workers who are still years away from retirement “should expect to spend a lot more.” If you’ve been thinking you might need to save more for your golden years, this $275,000 figure “should light a fire under you.”
9-29-17 GOP pulls plug on latest health-care bill
GOP pulls plug on latest health-care bill
In a major setback for one of their top legislative priorities, Senate Republicans abandoned their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this week, after key GOP lawmakers refused to back the plan. The bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would have replaced most of Obamacare’s funding with smaller block grants that states could use to create their own health-care programs. The legislation appeared to gain momentum in recent weeks, but GOP leaders scrapped a planned vote after Sen. Susan Collins of Maine came out against the legislation, joining Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky in opposition. That left Republicans with just 49 votes, one short of the 50 they needed to pass the bill under special budget reconciliation rules that expire on Sept. 30. Collins called the bill “deeply flawed,”noting that it eroded protections for people with preexisting conditions and cut more than $1 trillion from the Medicaid program between 2020 and 2036, leaving millions with reduced or nonexistent coverage. Republicans vowed to revive their repeal efforts in 2018, likely through another reconciliation bill that wouldn’t need Democratic votes. “It took 18 months for [Democrats] to pass Obamacare,” Graham said. “It’s going to take a while for us to replace it.”
9-29-17 Travel ban: Will new version survive the courts?
Travel ban: Will new version survive the courts?
The Trump administration’s latest travel ban could be its most “far-reaching” yet, said Tara Golshan in Vox.com. The White House unveiled an indefinite, more narrowly tailored version of its hotly contested policy this week, effectively barring nationals of six majority-Muslim countries—Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia—from entering the country, as well as adding travelers from North Korea and Venezuela. Severe travel restrictions will remain in place on each nation until they meet certain security standards to screen out potential terrorists. The new policy replaces the previous temporary bans and is designed to clear up many of the legal “gray areas” that got them tied up in court. It’s also “a clear reassertion of Trump’s intent to keep large swaths of the world out of the United States.”
9-29-17 Treating refugees like criminals
Treating refugees like criminals
My family came to Ireland from Nigeria to seek a better life, said Christiana Obaro, but we might as well be in prison. Though my husband, a computer engineer, provided for us very well in Nigeria, we had to flee two homes, and finally our country, because of attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram. My husband thought Ireland would be the best place to go. “They are Catholics and must be good people,” he said. “They have suffered things that have made them emigrate, too.” But we found no empathy. Ireland, it turns out, is one of the only two EU countries that shut asylum seekers away from society. “You cannot work; you cannot drive a car; you cannot do any business to make money; you cannot enter university.” You can’t leave your hostel at night or even cook your own food—authorities feed you “what they want you to eat.” My family has been languishing in a hostel here for nearly four years. Everyone is depressed. The inability to work, to provide for his four children, “shuts down the light in my husband’s eyes.” I say this to Irish leaders who are trying to control immigration: “Surely you can come up with a better, kinder way.”
9-29-17 Interior secretary accuses staff of disloyalty
Interior secretary accuses staff of disloyalty
In a speech to oil industry executives this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said nearly a third of his agency’s 70,000 employees are disloyal to President Trump. “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Zinke told the National Petroleum Council, complaining that federal workers are dragging their feet on issuing permits for mining and drilling on public lands. Zinke promised “huge” changes that would speed permits and relax regulations, possibly by moving decision-making positions in the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation from Washington, D.C., to Western states. “The president wants it yesterday,” Zinke said of the energy development permits. “We have to do it by the law.”
9-29-17 A cone of silence
A cone of silence
A cone of silence, after Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt installed a customized, $25,000 “privacy booth” in his office, so that no one—including hackers and members of his staff—could listen in on his phone conversations. Pruitt has also amassed an 18-person security detail to guard him 24/7.
9-29-17 The far right makes history
The far right makes history
German political life is “going to get ugly,” said Toralf Staud in Die Zeit. Angela Merkel won a fourth term as chancellor in national elections this week, but it was a glum victory. Support for her own center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) slumped, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) saw dramatic gains—it took a record 13 percent of the vote and will now enter the national legislature for the first time. The AfD ran its campaign around relentless opposition to immigrants in general and Muslim immigrants in particular. Its members now have a national platform on the floor of the Bundestag to spew their noxious views, including that German remembrance of the Holocaust has become a “cult of guilt,” that homosexuality is “disgusting,” and that race mixing will create a “mongrel” people. “Contempt, ugliness, and brutish language will become common in the Bundestag, but we can’t let it become normal.”
9-29-17 Protests don’t dent Duterte
Protests don’t dent Duterte
Waving signs reading “Stop the Killings,” up to 20,000 Filipinos marched through Manila last week in a so-called Day of Rage against President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal anti-drug policy. After taking office in June 2016, Duterte told police and citizens to shoot drug dealers and users on sight; since then, more than 12,000 people have been killed in anti-drug police operations and vigilante attacks. Still, Duterte remains popular. In a recent Pew Research Center poll, some 78 percent of Filipinos said they approved of the president’s handling of the illegal drugs issue, and 86 percent had a favorable view of Duterte.
9-29-17 NFL players defy Trump’s demands
NFL players defy Trump’s demands
President Donald Trump has opened another front in America’s deepening culture wars, repeatedly calling on NFL franchise owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem as a form of political protest. Speaking at a rally in Huntsville, Ala., the president said last week that the handful of players who silently knelt during the anthem—a protest begun by quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season to highlight racial injustice and police treatment of black men—were displaying a “total disrespect of our heritage.” He said he wished owners would respond by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! You’re fired.” Trump doubled down on his comments in a series of 18 tweets over the next four days, calling for a “boycott” of the NFL and criticizing players for abusing “the privilege” of earning millions for playing sports. He also withdrew an invitation to the White House for reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, after star player Stephen Curry said his feelings about Trump made it unlikely he’d attend. In response to Trump’s comments, more than 250 NFL players across the country knelt or sat for their pregame anthems, while others interlocked arms or remained in the locker room to show their support for free speech. Several owners joined the demonstrations of solidarity—some of which elicited boos from fans—with even New England Patriots chief Robert Kraft, a Trump donor and supporter, saying he was “deeply disappointed” by the president’s comments. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he was “proud” of how players, coaches, and owners responded to Trump’s “divisive rhetoric.” (Webmaster's comment: At least black people in America have the courage to stand up against tyranny!)
9-29-17 Editor’s letter
Now it is President Trump who is shouting, “Shut it down.” He doesn’t think African-American NFL players should be “allowed” to kneel during the national anthem as a political protest, and is demanding the league fire them. (See Main Stories.) His stance requires a certain lack of self-awareness, given that Trump began his political career by saying deliberately outrageous and offensive things—insisting, for example, that former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain was no war hero, because he was taken captive (loser!), and that the then-sitting president was a foreign-born Muslim impostor with no legal right to the office. In certain countries whose authoritarian leaders Trump admires, such impertinence can get you hauled off to a gulag, or your head chopped off by a hooded executioner with a scimitar. Look: Free speech can be very upsetting. But honoring everyone’s right to speak is the only hope we have of seeing anything from another point of view. Let’s deal with it, and stop acting like a nation of snowflakes.
9-29-17 Poll watch
57% of Americans disagree with President Trump and say the NFL should not fire players who kneel during the national anthem. But there’s strong partisan division on the issue. 82% of Democrats say the players should not be fired, while only 29% of Republicans think the same.
9-28-17 Highway to Heaven
Highway to Heaven
What one Canadian street could teach the world about religious harmony. A Sikh, two Muslims, a Jew, a Christian and a Buddhist walk into a room. The six men aren’t setting up a punchline, but holding a community meeting here on No 5 Road in Richmond, British Columbia. Balwant Sanghera has been planning the float for the annual Canada Day parade, and reminds everyone that they can participate. Azeem Moledina wants to talk about weekend parking. Abba Brodt would like to make the street more pedestrian-friendly. Frank Klassen is new to the area and is meeting many for the first time. All in all, it’s a pretty typical neighbourhood association meeting, filled with cups of tea and small talk. But No 5 Road is not a typical neighbourhood - the street and the surrounding area is home to about 20 places of worship: Buddhist and Hindu temples, a Sunni and a Shia Mosque, and several churches, preaching in English, Mandarin, Minnanese, Cantonese, Arabic, Hindi, and Punjabi. Sanghera, a member of the Gurdwara Nanak Niwas, or Sikh temple, likes to call it the Highway to Heaven. “I do not think there is any [other] place like this,” he says. (Webmaster's comment: Religious tolerance is possible, but what about including Atheists?)
9-28-17 Europe plans Sentinel satellite expansion
Europe plans Sentinel satellite expansion
Europe has begun the process of scoping an expansion to its Sentinel Earth observation network. Six new satellite concepts will be studied, including a constellation of spacecraft that can monitor emissions of carbon dioxide. Invitations to tender (ITTs) for the feasibility work will be sent out to industry in the coming weeks. The European Space Agency hopes to put a list of satellites for implementation before ministers in late 2019. Those platforms that are selected would launch in the mid-2020s. Precisely how many of the six will make it to the launch pad will depend on the funds available, but Esa's Earth observation director is bullish about what can be achieved. "I'm not thinking about down-selection at this stage," said Josef Aschbacher. "I'm preparing six candidates and I want to offer ministers the six candidates at our meeting in 2019. I know that's a bold proposal, but that's what I want to do and then of course in the end it will be for our member states and the European Commission to decide what they want to do," he told BBC News. As well as a CO2 mission, the so-called A/B1 studies will look at the potential of a thermal infrared sensor, a hyper-spectral imager, and three satellites that could have applications in polar regions - an L-band radar, a topography mission, and a passive microwave radiometer.
The Sentinel satellites currently funded
- Sentinel-1: Radar satellite that can see the Earth's surface in all weathers
- Sentinel-2: Multi-wavelength detectors to study principally land changes
- Sentinel-3: Similar to S2, but tuned to observe ocean properties and behaviour
- Sentinel-4: High-orbiting sensor to measure atmospheric gases
- Sentinel-5: Low-orbiting atmospheric sensor to help monitor air quality
- Sentinel-6: Future version of the long-running Jason sea-surface height series
(Webmaster's comment: And what is United States working on? Exploring ways to spy on and kill individual people from outer space!)
9-28-17 US schools crackdown on anthem protests
US schools crackdown on anthem protests
A school district in Louisiana has vowed to punish players who refuse to stand for the US national anthem, as other schools weigh in on the debate. In their decision, the Bossier Parish School Board cited "respect and reverence" for the military, a spokesperson told the BBC. A number of National Football League (NFL) players have protested after being attacked by the US president. Activists say the law bans schools from punishing non-disruptive protesters. In Louisiana, the head of Parkway High School wrote a letter on Thursday morning to parents and students vowing to suspend or remove from sports teams anyone who demonstrates while the national anthem is played. "Failure to comply will result in a loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal. Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team," principal Waylon Bates wrote. (Webmaster's comment: The whites want blacks to obey, OR ELSE! Whites still view blacks as slaves after 150 years!)
9-28-17 Race slurs on US Air Force black cadets' dorm doors
Race slurs on US Air Force black cadets' dorm doors
Racial slurs have been found scrawled on dormitory doors of five black cadets at the Air Force Academy in the US state of Colorado, officials say. The epithet, together with the words "go home", were scrawled on message boards affixed to doors facing the hallway on Wednesday night. The mother of one student posted images of the vandalism with the comment: "This is why I'm so hurt!" The academy's security forces are investigating the incident. Superintendent Lt Gen Jay Silveria said in a statement: "There is absolutely no place in our Air Force for racism - it's not who we are, nor will we tolerate it in any shape or fashion. "I've said it before, the area of dignity and respect is my red line. "Let me be clear: it won't be crossed without significant repercussions." (Webmaster's comment: The civil rights movement has failed. We'll have to do it again!)
9-27-17 Roy Moore beliefs: Things the Republican has said
Roy Moore beliefs: Things the Republican has said
Alabama firebrand Roy Moore has dealt a huge blow to the Republican leadership by winning the party's nomination for the Senate. The controversial lawyer has made headlines for a series of incendiary remarks over the years, but beat his Washington-backed opponent with ease. Here's a round-up of some of his more extreme beliefs, with some analysis from the BBC's Anthony Zurcher on why it all matters.
- Homosexuality should be illegal
- God's wrath is felt on Earth
- 'Red and yellows' don't get along
- Darwin was wrong
- Islam is a 'false religion'
- The law comes from God
- He thinks he's like Putin
- Obama might not be US-born
- He writes poetry
- A Ten Commandments sculpture is worth fighting for
(Webmaster's comment: A classical Republican. They truly do not believe in liberty, freedom, equality and tolerance. We'd better plan to leave the country before it becomes a religious state with tolerance for none but the true-believers Republican-Mandated Christian religion.)
9-27-17 Exclusive: Inside the clinic offering young blood to cure ageing
Exclusive: Inside the clinic offering young blood to cure ageing
In California, a start-up is offering blood plasma transfusions for $8000 to people who hope to turn back the clock. Is it safe, and will it work? JR is a minor celebrity in these parts. It is the fifth time this year that he has flown in from Atlanta to have the treatment. Monterey doesn’t get a lot of traffic from people like him. So it’s a bit odd that this is the epicentre of a phenomenon rocking Silicon Valley: young blood treatments. JR is one of about 100 people who have each paid $8000 to join a controversial trial, offering them infusions of blood plasma from donors aged between 16 and 25 in a bid to turn back the clock. Participants have come from much further afield, including Russia and Australia. It’s not hard to see why. After a spate of recent trials showed astonishing rejuvenation in old mice, the notion of filling your veins with the blood of the young has gone from creaky vampire myth to the latest tool in Silicon Valley’s quest to “disrupt death”. Now start-ups, universities and pharmaceutical companies are clambering to commercialise the potential of young blood. Venture capitalists and high-level hospital executives are rumoured to be partaking behind the scenes. The idea’s popularity is sparking fears of red markets and a dystopian future in which the old steal youth from the young, and no longer just metaphorically. Scratch beneath the hype, however, and we may have been looking at young blood the wrong way round. Within a few years, new insights could usher in a safer, more effective way for blood to stop the inevitable declines of ageing.
9-27-17 America's forgotten prisoners
America's forgotten prisoners
A photographer steps into a women's prison in Texas to meet those caught in the crossfire of the war on drugs. Since 1978, the population of women in state and federal facilities has surged by nearly 800 percent — double the rate of men. The vast majority of these women are serving time for non-violent drug offenses — many under mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenders enacted during President Reagan's expansion of the "war on drugs." In the 1980s, political and public hysteria over illicit drug use set the stage for the zero tolerance policies implemented by the country's police forces and judicial system. This crackdown continued through the new millennium. But with states increasingly decriminalizing marijuana, public opinion has begun to shift in support of more lenient drug policies. For a few years, it looked like the federal government would follow suit. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder, under President Obama, imposed reforms to the Justice Department's charging policies in nonviolent drug cases, moving away from mandatory minimums. But under President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has effectively rejected those reforms, returning the judicial system to the directives of the war on drugs. While men were often the main targets of the war on drugs, women, particularly women of color, were often collateral damage. Women who were unable or unwilling to provide information to the police, or those who simply lived with a husband or boyfriend involved in drug sales, were convicted of so-called conspiracy offenses and put behind bars for decades, or even life. More than three quarters of imprisoned women are mothers or sole caregivers, which sets up a destabilizing effect that can ripple through a family for generations. (Webmaster's comment: Women are easy targets for any offense and incarceration.)
9-26-17 Republican push to repeal Obamacare collapses
Republican push to repeal Obamacare collapses
A Republican plan to replace Obamacare will not be voted on this week, effectively signalling its collapse. The party leadership withdrew the beleaguered bill after a third "no" vote emerged. Susan Collins said she could not back the "deeply flawed" bill, despite a call from President Donald Trump and promises of money for her state. It was a major blow for the president and Republican leadership, who have made Obamacare's repeal a top priority. They could only afford two rebel senators to pass the bill, and were working to a deadline of the end of this week. They now turn their attention to tax reform. The party's last attempt to undo former President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law collapsed in July. Ms Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, said she objected to the Graham-Cassidy bill's sweeping cut in funding to Medicaid. One in five people in her home state depend on the programme for low income citizens and disabled children. (Webmaster's comment: The conservatives fail again! How many times is it now? I've lost count.)
9-26-17 Clinton: White House private emails 'height of hypocrisy'
Clinton: White House private emails 'height of hypocrisy'
Hillary Clinton has called reports that six Trump White House officials used private email accounts for official business the "height of hypocrisy". President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked Mrs Clinton's use of personal email while she was secretary of state during the 2016 campaign. Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner admitted to using his email while five other aides reportedly did so as well. Congress has asked the White House to provide details on the practice. Speaking to Sirius XM radio on Monday, Mrs Clinton said: "It's just the height of hypocrisy." She said the Trump administration "knew that there was no basis for all their hyperventilating" about her emails. "It is something that if they were sincere about it, I think you'd have Republican members of Congress calling for an investigation," she added. Mr Trump repeatedly called for an inquiry into Mrs Clinton's email use as his supporters chanted "lock her up" at campaign rallies. The former Democratic presidential candidate added that her use of a private server at the State Department was "a dumb mistake but a dumber scandal" and that she regretted the country "had to go through it". Mr Kushner, a senior White House adviser, has been asked to preserve all his emails.
9-26-17 White House private emails: House committee ramps up pressure
White House private emails: House committee ramps up pressure
A committee of Congress has called on the White House to provide details of any aides who have used private emails for official business. The investigation comes after Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner admitted doing so, and the New York Times reported that five other aides also used private email accounts. Mr Kushner, a senior adviser, has been asked to preserve all his emails. Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, also uses a private account, Newsweek reported. The New York Times has named the four other staffers implicated as Steve Bannon, the former chief White House strategist; Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff; and advisers Gary D Cohn and Stephen Miller. Meanwhile, Newsweek magazine says it has details of an email Ivanka Trump sent about collaboration with a business organisation, copying in two federal officials. (Webmaster's comment: Let's all now chant "LOCK THEM UP!")
9-26-17 Republicans' Obamacare repeal plan in tatters
Republicans' Obamacare repeal plan in tatters
A last-ditch effort by Republicans to repeal Obamacare is in tatters after a key senator came out in opposition. Despite a call from President Donald Trump and promises of money for her state, Susan Collins said she could not back the "deeply flawed" bill. It was a major blow for the president and Republican leadership, who have made Obamacare's repeal a top priority. The party's last attempt to undo former President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law collapsed in July. Ms Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, said she objected to the Graham-Cassidy bill's sweeping cut in funding to Medicaid. One in five people in her home state depend on the programme for low income citizens and disabled children. Ms Collins also said the bill weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions. She joins Republican Senators John McCain (Arizona) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) in rejecting the proposal. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has also withheld his support and demanded changes. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, authors of the bill, had offered to boost federal healthcare funds by 43% in Maine. (Webmaster's comment: In spite of controlling all three branches of the goverment; the presidency, both the house and the senate, and the supreme court, the total bankruptcy of the conservatives is readily apparent.)
9-26-17 Seven arrested in Egypt after raising rainbow flag at concert
Seven arrested in Egypt after raising rainbow flag at concert
Egyptian police have arrested seven people after they were allegedly seen raising rainbow flags at a concert in Cairo last week, security sources say. The seven were reportedly detained on Monday for "promoting sexual deviancy", but have not yet been formally charged. Prosecutors opened an investigation after images from the concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila - whose lead singer is openly gay - went viral. Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalised under Egyptian law. But the authorities routinely arrest people suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct on charges of "debauchery", "immorality" or "blasphemy". The advocacy group, Solidarity With Egypt LGBTQ+, said late last year that it had recorded 114 criminal investigations involving 274 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals since 2013.
9-26-17 Rapper B.o.B. raising funds to check if Earth is flat
Rapper B.o.B. raising funds to check if Earth is flat
But US rapper B.o.B. is crowd-funding the launch of satellites to see if he can get some evidence to the contrary. The rapper, whose real name is Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, has been a vocal proponent of the Flat Earth theory - the claim the Earth is, in fact, a disc and not spherical. Some proponents of the Flat Earth theory claim NASA employees guard the edge of the world to prevent people falling off. B.o.B., real name Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, performing in the Radio 1Xtra live lounge Seeking to raise $200,000 (£150,000) on the GoFundMe crowd-funding website, B.o.B refers to himself as "Flat Earth Bob". At the time of writing he had raised a little over $650, but the campaign was trending on the GoFundMe site. "I'm starting this GoFundMe because I would like to send one, if not multiple satellites, as far into space as I can, or into orbit as I can, to find the curve," he said in a video on the page. "I'm looking for the curve," he added. The curve which B.o.B refers to is a recurring theme in Flat Earthers' conspiracy theories. Adherents believe that, were the Earth actually round, then the curvature of the Earth would be more visible to the naked eye. (Webmaster's comment: Absolutely Nuts!)
9-25-17 What a surprise – the end of the world has been delayed, again
What a surprise – the end of the world has been delayed, again
The planet Nibiru was meant to wipe us out on Saturday. Undeterred by a no-show, doomsday theorists are already peddling more nonsense, warns Geraint Lewis. If you are reading this, congratulations. You have survived the latest prophesied doomsday for our poor planet. For weeks now, the darker corners of the media have been abuzz with the latest predictions that the end of the world was coming. Some suggested it would coincide with the 21 August total solar eclipse that swept across the US. Others that the apocalypse would be on 23 September, for no other reason than 33 days would have passed since the eclipse. Lo and behold, here we are. Always keen to move on, conspiracy theorists have now revised the big day to 21 October or suggested other explanations for the no-show. Prophecies of doom aren’t new. At the turning points of centuries or millennia, someone always comes out of the woodwork to claim that the end is nigh. Others predict the end of days based on how immoral and violent society has become, although, recent decades have been relatively peaceful compared with most other historical periods. Some of the most recent predictions come from numerological trickery and religious texts. In 2012, we were told that the ancient Mayans had predicted the end of the world on 21 December, when some cosmic event, such as a black hole, or a rogue planet called Nibiru (or Planet X), would hit Earth. The only true disaster was that the year inspired a pretty bad Hollywood movie, a special-effects extravaganza with little in the way of scientific accuracy. But in 2017, the doomsayers said Nibiru was back and again on a collision course with Earth. This time, the source material was the Bible, with conspiracy theorist David Meade interpreting some numerological coincidences as a prediction of Earth’s destruction. Predictably, some corners of the media lapped it up, ringing alarm bells with messages of doom and gloom.
9-25-17 US violent crimes and murders rose in 2016, the FBI says
US violent crimes and murders rose in 2016, the FBI says
The US violent crime rate rose for the second consecutive year in 2016, the FBI said in its annual crime report. The increase was driven by an uptick in several major cities, including Chicago, Baltimore and Las Vegas. The overall violent crime rate rose by 4.1%, and the homicide rate increased by 8.6%, FBI statistics show. The 2016 rate of violent crimes - defined by the FBI as assault, rape, murder and robbery - represents the largest such rise in 25 years. A total of 17,250 people were murdered in the US last year, according to the data. In his statement accompanying the report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned of a trend. "For the sake of all Americans, we must confront and turn back the rising tide of violent crime," said the top US prosecutor. The violent crime rate rose in cities of all sizes, the FBI said, as well as in suburbs and rural areas. (Webmaster's comment: And it'll get a lot higher because of Trump's empowerment of the white male supremacists, the KKK, and the neo-Nazis.)
9-24-17Trump NFL row: Defiance after US president urges boycott
Trump NFL row: Defiance after US president urges boycott
US President Donald Trump has urged a boycott of the National Football League (NFL) to force teams to punish players who protest during the national anthem. In a growing row with the sports world, Mr Trump repeated that such players should be fired or suspended. The comments have been condemned as "offensive" and "divisive". At the start of the first game since Mr Trump's remarks, many players and staff from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens knelt in London. Jacksonville Jaguars' owner Shahid Khan - who donated $1m (£740,000) to the Trump campaign - locked his arms with players in an unusual scene, as owners rarely join players on the pitch. Mr Trump's remarks can be seen as an attempt to appeal to core supporters, BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher says. Mr Trump's remarks can be seen as an attempt to appeal to core supporters, BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher says. This is a fight Mr Trump relishes, our reporter adds, because he knows his base will flock to him when he questions the patriotism of wealthy athletes. (Webmaster's comment: Protest against Trump's attack on free speech and the right to protest. There is little great about America anymore and Trump is only making it worse.)
9-23-17 He’d rather save a dog
He’d rather save a dog
An Ohio firefighter was suspended for saying he’d rather save a dog than an African-American from a burning building. “One dog is more important than a million n-----s,” Tyler Roysdon wrote on Facebook. He was immediately suspended by Franklin Township officials for “conduct unbecoming a township employee.” Roysdon’s wife said her husband had apologized, but added that everyone “is entitled to their own opinion.”
Retweets, after President Trump retweeted a video from an anti-Semitic and racist Twitter troll that shows him hitting a golf ball at Hillary Clinton and knocking her down. “This has to stop,” said former Vice President Joe Biden. “Our children are watching.”
9-23-17 Free Speech Week?
Free Speech Week?
More than 100 faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley, have called for a boycott of all classes during “Free Speech Week.” The four-day event, starting Sept. 24, will feature right-wing speakers Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter, and Milo Yiannopoulos. The faculty said students should not risk their “physical and mental safety” in such a hostile environment.
9-23-17 White House nixes refugee study
White House nixes refugee study
The Trump administration has reportedly rejected the results of a government study that found that over the past decade refugees to the U.S. brought in $63 billion more in state and local taxes than they cost in public benefits. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, who has advocated for the president to further lower the 50,000-refugee annual cap Trump put in place, argued in internal White House discussions that only the costs—not any fiscal benefits—of the refugee program should be considered, according to The New York Times, which obtained a draft copy of the report. The final report concluded that refugees consume more in benefits per capita than the average American, omitting any mention of their economic contribution.
9-23-17 NFL: Donald Trump says players protesting during US national anthem should be fired
NFL: Donald Trump says players protesting during US national anthem should be fired
US President Donald Trump says NFL players who protest during the national anthem should be fired. Last year, quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem to protest against racial injustice and police brutality. More players have since joined in by taking a knee or raising a fist during the anthem. Trump told a Republican rally in Alabama on Friday these actions showed "disrespect of our heritage". "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country." Several NFL players responded on social media, with Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron asking: "Does anyone tell Trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports?" (Webmaster's comment: The great American bully and sexual groper speaks out against free speech in America!)
9-22-17 Canada targets senior Venezuelan officials with sanctions
Canada targets senior Venezuelan officials with sanctions
Canada will impose sanctions against senior members of the Venezuelan government over their "anti-democratic behaviour". Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is among the 40 people who will have their assets frozen, and Canadians will be banned from doing business with them. Canada's foreign minister said the country "will not stand by silently" amid the country's ongoing crisis. The move follows a similar action by the United States in August. Venezuela has been hit by waves of anti-government protests this year in which more than a hundred people have been killed. US economic sanctions targeting the government were imposed after the formation of a controversial constituent's assembly at the start of last month. The assembly is filled with pro-government supporters and has assumed the powers of the opposition-held parliament. Critics say the body is a way for President Maduro to cling to power, and the US, EU, and many Latin American countries do not recognise it. (Webmaster's comment: Standing up against a new dictator. The United States and Canada need to do the same with Trump's buddy, the Turkey dictator, who comes to America and has American protesters beaten.)
9-22-17 This AI reads the news to keep tabs on US police shootings
This AI reads the news to keep tabs on US police shootings
There’s no central government database on police-related shootings in the US, but now a machine-learning system is helping record details by scanning the news. Police shootings in the US frequently make local and national headlines, but there is no government-run database of the fatalities. So people are turning to machine learning to make sure no shooting by the police goes unrecorded. Working out how many people in the US have been killed as result of police action isn’t easy. Where they do exist, official records are somewhat lacking. A 2016 study by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that police records cover half as many police-related deaths as media reports. The violent-death reporting system run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data in only 42 of the 50 states, and doesn’t focus on police shootings. So far the gaps have been filled in by newspaper-led projects notably The Washington Post, which in 2015 logged more than twice as many fatal police shootings than the FBI did. The most comprehensive database – used by The Washington Post – is thought to be Fatal Encounters, a website that lists every person killed in an interaction with police in the US since 2000. It is run by D. Brian Burghart, a Nevada-based journalist who, over the past five years, has enlisted a network of online activists to gather the details of over 22,000 fatalities dating back to 1 January 2000. (Webmaster's comment: Of course the police do not want their killings to be tracked and counted. That might mean they'd have to be arrested, charged, convicted and imprisoned for murders!)
9-21-17 Trump supersizes America’s most famous aeroplane
Trump supersizes America’s most famous aeroplane
Trump's Air Force One looks similar to the one that Obama flew. But plans for a bigger one are now under way. The US president walked down the stairs of Air Force One at an airport in Morristown, New Jersey. He gave a thumbs-up to journalists standing on the tarmac and as he walked past the cameras, he straightened the lapel of his jacket. An image-conscious businessman, he brags about the size of his hands and his ability to make a deal. For the new presidential aircraft, he wants both - a big machine that'll save the taxpayer money. Trump tweeted after the election that he wants to cut costs for the presidential aeroplane, but he's also said enviously that another head of state, the emir of Kuwait, has a bigger one. Air Force personnel are scrambling to make the new aeroplane happen - and meet the president's demands. They're looking at ways to ensure that the aircraft will be as cost-efficient as possible while at the same time embodies the heft that Trump wants. Boeing executives said last week that they'd been awarded a contract for the aeroplane's redesign. "We'll do our best to drive down costs," said Caroline Hutcheson, a Boeing spokeswoman. (Webmaster's comment: Mine is bigger than anybody's! The worlds biggest megalomanic proves it!)
9-22-17 Normalizing violent protests
Normalizing violent protests
No serious violence broke out when conservative journalist Ben Shapiro gave a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, last week, said Megan McArdle. But the bad news is that Berkeley had to spend $600,000 to lock down much of the campus, fill it with police armed with pepper spray, and erect concrete barriers to keep the leftist “antifa” away from the event. Is this what it now takes “to maintain order in the face of...a speech?” Liberals who loathe President Trump fear that he will be “normalized,” but the deep rage and contempt this president has inspired has led to the normalization of lots of other bad things, including riots and the suppression of the right to speak and peacefully assemble. The radical Left believes that some people—ranging from white supremacists to ordinary Trump supporters to even mild, anti-Trump conservatives like Shapiro—“are too dangerous to have rights” and should be prevented from exercising their First Amendment rights, with fists and clubs and thrown bottles if necessary. So now we have to spend $600,000 to keep a rather ordinary speech from turning into a bloody riot. We cannot “become inured to how outrageous this is.” This is not normal, and it’s not American. (Webmaster's comment: But nothing changes the fact that these speakers spread hate and advocate violence against non-whites!)
9-22-17 Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech
Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech
Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of "terrorist". Mr Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators. "You're a terrorist, get out of my country," one protester shouted before he was punched and dragged away. Mr Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly. In footage from the speech on Thursday, protesters are seen being pushed and punched in the head as they are ejected from the venue by suited men. It is not clear at this stage if they were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the hotel. The demonstrators, who later posted images of the clashes on social media, said their aim was to publicly condemn the president's policies in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. (Webmaster's comment: Dictators don't like protests, but Trump has praised this one.)
9-22-17 Days of protests
Days of protests
Police arrested more than 120 demonstrators this week, after protests over the acquittal of a white former police officer accused of killing a black suspect in 2011 turned violent. Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, was found not guilty in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith by a judge last week; dashcam video showed Stockley saying he was “going to kill this motherf---er” less than a minute before he shot Smith five times after a car chase. Prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car, and the only weapon found in the car had Stockley’s DNA on it, but not Smith’s. The acquittal kicked off several days of marches, alternating between large, peaceful protests during the day and smaller, violent demonstrations at night. Some demonstrators complained that police were unnecessarily aggressive. One group of officers was heard chanting “Whose streets? Our streets” while arresting demonstrators.
9-22-17 Crackdown on dissent
Crackdown on dissent
Saudi Arabian security forces arrested some 40 clerics, scholars, and activists this week in nighttime raids, hauling elderly men out of bed and confiscating computers and books. Saudi officials said those detained had received backing from foreign countries or had ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but analysts said they appear to have been targeted for their criticism of the Saudi-led embargo on Qatar. The raid is seen as an effort by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, who was named heir apparent to King Salman in June, to consolidate his power. The new leadership, said Samah Hadid of Amnesty International, “is sending a chilling message: Freedom of expression will not be tolerated; we are coming after you.”
9-22-17 LGBT student killed
LGBT student killed
Violence erupted on the Georgia Tech campus this week after a student leader was shot and killed by a campus police officer while the student was suffering from an apparent mental breakdown. Scout Schultz, 21, who led a student LGBT group called Pride Alliance, phoned police Saturday night to report an armed man stalking the area. Police arrived to find Schultz holding what appeared to be a knife. Video from the scene shows an officer commanding Schultz to “drop the knife,” with Schultz responding, “Shoot me!” After Schultz paused and took a few steps toward the officers, one of them opened fire. A lawyer for the Schultz family said the student had a history of mental illness, and three suicide notes were found Schultz’s dorm room. After a peaceful vigil attended by hundreds of mourners, several dozen protesters wearing masks clashed with police, setting fire to one police vehicle and leaving several officers with minor injuries.
9-22-17 Part of why our Medical costs are so high
Part of why our Medical costs are so high
Physicians are the highest-paid salaried employees in the U.S., earning on average $187,876 a year, according to a report from job-search platform Glassdoor. Second are pharmacy managers, at $149,064 a year, followed by patent attorneys ($139,272) and medical science liaisons ($132,842).
9-22-17 Republicans' new ObamaCare repeal bill is the perfect expression of their health-care nihilism
Republicans' new ObamaCare repeal bill is the perfect expression of their health-care nihilism
Republicans know their new ObamaCare repeal bill is a nightmare. They just don't care. Next week, Republicans in the Senate will take what may be their final chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even apart from its politics, this bill, known as Graham-Cassidy after its sponsors, is a policy nightmare. And those Republicans? Most of them barely know what's in it, and couldn't care less. As such, it is the perfect and final expression of the GOP's nihilism and cruelty on this issue. "You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters, offering an excellent summation of the Republican perspective. "But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill." Who cares what it does or how many people it will hurt?
9-22-17 Poll watch
83% of Americans believe it is either “certainly” or “probably” true that football causes brain injuries. 76% say head injuries are a major problem for the sport. Yet among that group, 74% still identify as football fans, and 44% say football is still their favorite sport to watch. (Webmaster's comment: American's love of violence has many costs.)
9-22-17 Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana
Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana
No one knows whether chronic marijuana smoking causes emotional troubles or is a symptom of them.... This dearth of evidence has a number of explanations: serious lingering reactions, if they exist, occur after prolonged use, rarely after a single dose; marijuana has no known medical use, unlike LSD, so scientists have had little reason to study the drug…. Also, marijuana has been under strict legal sanctions … for more than 30 years. – Science News, October 7, 1967.
In 29 states and in Washington, D.C., marijuana is now commonly prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. But the drug’s pros and cons remain hazy. Regular pot use has been linked to psychotic disorders and to alcohol and drug addiction (SN Online: 1/12/17). And two recent research reviews conclude that very little high-quality data exist on whether marijuana effectively treats PTSD or pain. Several large-scale trials are under way to assess how well cannabis treats these conditions.
9-21-17 Brigham Young University ends Mormon ban on caffeinated soda
Brigham Young University ends Mormon ban on caffeinated soda
Brigham Young University, the largest Mormon college in the US, has decided to begin selling caffeinated sodas. The surprise announcement marks a major cultural shift for the church-owned university which has been designated "caffeine-free" since the 1950s. Students had been advocating for the change since at least 2012 after the church revised its policy on the stimulant prized by college students. Mormons are still prohibited from consuming tea or coffee. (Webmaster's comment: Absolutely Nuts!)
9-21-17 Justin Trudeau: Canada humiliated indigenous people
Justin Trudeau: Canada humiliated indigenous people
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his United Nations platform to address Canada's historic failings regarding indigenous people. He said the country's legacy of colonialism and its lasting impact on First Nations Canadians was one of "humiliation, neglect and abuse" . Mr Trudeau took power in 2015 promising to fix the country's relationship with aboriginal peoples. But he has faced criticism over his handling of indigenous affairs. The prime minister used his 30 minutes on Thursday at the General Assembly to reaffirm his commitment to reconciliation. "Canada is not a wonderland where the difficulties others face do not exist," Mr Trudeau said. "Canada is a work in progress." He highlighted the unsafe drinking water on many First Nation reserves and the gaps in education and health between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. His government has vowed to end the boil-water advisories on First Nations reserves by 2020, but has yet to make a major dent. The Trudeau Liberals have faced criticism from some indigenous groups for green-lighting pipeline projects. The national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada has seen frustrated victims' families and high-profile resignations. (Webmaster's comment: Canada owes up to its past. When will America owe up to its past?)
9-21-17 Why court ruling on ending life support is the right decision
Why court ruling on ending life support is the right decision
It is much kinder for all involved if someone kept alive in a vegetative state is allowed to die with only their doctor’s and family’s approval, not a judge’s say-so. Should someone in a vegetative state, with no awareness of themselves or what is going on around them, be kept alive with a feeding tube for years after all hope of recovery has gone? It’s a question not many want to think about, but some families have to. Now, a judgment announced yesterday by the Court of Protection of England and Wales may make it easier for families of people in such conditions to stop artificial feeding and let their loved one die without having to go through a lengthy and distressing legal process. It might seem like this could allow significant decisions to be made too easily, or even that the court is legalising a form of euthanasia. In fact, this change is long overdue, and is in line with other Western countries, such as the US and Australia. The ruling concerns people who are left in a permanent vegetative or minimally conscious state, usually after they have received a brain injury and emerged from a coma into a state where they can breathe unaided but have almost no sign of awareness. They would die if they didn’t have a feeding tube providing nutrients and fluid. Once it is clear that someone’s condition is permanent, many families agree with doctors that their relative shouldn’t be given any medical treatments that could prolong their life. These might include antibiotics, or resuscitation if their heart stops. Often the patients die after a few years from pneumonia or other infections, but some can live for decades.
9-21-17 What is an Anunnaki? and 5 other questions for the impending apocalypse
What is an Anunnaki? and 5 other questions for the impending apocalypse
talk of nuclear war ramps up, technology spirals toward science-fiction, and natural disasters batter the globe, many people don't require a fervent belief in Christian numerology to fear that the end is nigh. In case you need convincing, though, a strange prophecy has begun to circulate suggesting that the apocalypse will begin on Sept. 23. Here's everything you need to know about Doomsday: 2017 Edition. Good ol' numerology, a favorite method of doomsday predictors. A "Christian conspiracy theorist" named David Meade claims he discovered that the world will end on Sept. 23 by combining Bible passages with astronomy — chiefly, the total solar eclipse over the U.S. in August. "Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible]," Meade explained to The Washington Post. And Sept. 23 will mark 33 days since the eclipse. Voila! A "code" in the pyramids points to Sept. 23 as well (it's unclear how, exactly). The Book of Revelations also supposedly points to Sept. 23 as the beginning of the end because it is a day when a number of celestial bodies — including the sun, moon, and constellations of Virgo and Leo — all line up. "The alignment in question will actually happen," National Geographic writes. "But the significance of the astronomy is debatable. The Biblical sign depends on the number of stars in play, and even astronomers don't agree how many stars officially make up Leo." Plus, this alignment happens for a couple days every September and October. There are a few different opinions on how we might greet oblivion. One is simply that Sept. 23 marks the day the Rapture will begin. Another says that a mysterious planet called Nibiru, also known as "Planet X," is going to crash into the Earth, The Sun reports. Humans have been predicting the end of the world since at least 65 A.D., when Seneca said the planet was poised to "burn in [a] universal fire." (Pompeii was, anyway). More recently, humans survived the Dec. 21, 2012 Mayan apocalypse unscathed.
- Why do people believe the world is ending on Sept. 23?
- Sounds iffy. Are there other signs?
- How exactly is the world supposed to end on Sept. 23?
- What is an Anunnaki?
- What do Anunnaki look like?
- Okay. So is the world actually going to end or what?
(Webmaster's comment: Here we go again! The world is going to end again for the 666th time! Rapture in 2 days according to Rapture Nuts! I'll be enjoying a good dinner and wine at Spezia's that evening. I'll bet ANY AMOUNT of money I'll be waking up on the 24th and the sun will still be shining and the Rapture Nuts will still be here.)
9-21-17 Why the Republicans' new health-care bill is a big fat lie
Why the Republicans' new health-care bill is a big fat lie
mother once told me: Never assume mendacity when stupidity is a sufficient explanation for someone's behavior. This adage is being put to the test by Senate Republicans' fourth and final bill to repeal ObamaCare. Written by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), this bill is so bad that you'd either have to be lying through your teeth or dumber than bricks to support it. Every argument that's being used to sell the bill is flatly contradicted by what's inside of it. The biggest claim made by Cassidy-Graham supporters is that the bill simply redistributes money to the states, letting local governments make decisions for themselves. "Take all the money under ObamaCare and block-grant it back to the states," Graham said. This, paired with cuts to certain ObamaCare regulations, will supposedly give everyone what they want. "A blue state can do a blue thing, a red state a red thing," Cassidy has argued. So is this right? Would Cassidy-Graham simply empower state governments to institute the best health-care system for their constituents? Not by a long shot. (Webmaster's comment: Another Conservative-Republican Lie! They have but one purpose. Reduce taxes for their rich supporters!)
9-21-17 US police shoot deaf man 'ignoring commands'
US police shoot deaf man 'ignoring commands'
A deaf man has been shot and killed by Oklahoma City police officers as he approached them holding a metal pipe. The two officers did not hear neighbours shouting "he can't hear you", before opening fire, police captain Bo Mathews said. Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was fatally shot on Tuesday evening as police were investigating a hit and run. The shooting is being investigated by city homicide detectives to determine if it was legally justified. "In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision," Cpt Mathews said, adding that Sanchez was about 15 ft (4.5m) away when both officers fired their weapons simultaneously. Eight-year veteran Sgt Christopher Barnes fired his handgun at the same exact moment Lt Matthew Lindsey fired a Taser, witnesses told police. "You can really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that'd be the threat against you," Cpt Mathews added, explaining why officers did not respond to the shouts of about a half dozen bystanders screaming that Sanchez was deaf. The 2ft (0.6m) pipe that Sanchez was holding as he sat on his porch was initially described to officers as a stick. Neighbours say that Sanchez, who was non-verbal, would use the pipe and his hands to communicate and also to protect against stray dogs near his home where he lived with his father. Sanchez's father, who drove the hit and run vehicle, later confirmed that his son was deaf. Police say the victim had no known criminal history. (Webmaster's comment: Police Standard Operating Procedure: When In Doubt Always Shoot To Kill! Never Shoot To Wound! Killing is the only thing Police understand how to do! The Police are a Clear and Present Danger to all Americans, but especially the non-whites!)
9-21-17 Melania Trump mocked online after anti-bullying speech
Melania Trump mocked online after anti-bullying speech
Melania Trump has found herself being relentlessly mocked online - after giving a speech on the dangers of cyber-bullying. The US First Lady had set out combating cyber-bullying as one of her main priorities before entering the White House - although she is not believed to have set up a defined programme as yet. Wednesday's speech to the spouses of dozens of world leaders during the UN General Assembly was another chance to set out her agenda and focus for the next few years. "No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorised, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn," she said, urging others to heed her call for action. "We must teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of the kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership which can only be taught by example," Mrs Trump said, raising more than a few eyebrows in the process, given her husband's online behaviour. Donald Trump has been accused of using his own social media accounts to bully a vast array of people. Most recently, he retweeted a GIF (an animated image) of himself hitting a golf ball at his former opponent Hillary Clinton, causing her to fall over.
9-20-17 Jimmy Kimmel attacks Bill Cassidy over healthcare bill
Jimmy Kimmel attacks Bill Cassidy over healthcare bill
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel has made a scathing attack on a Republican senator behind a new healthcare plan put forward to replace Obamacare. The late-night TV host - whose son has a congenital heart defect - accused Senator Bill Cassidy of lying "right to my face" in an earlier interview. Republicans want to abolish President Obama's law, which expanded insurance but did not curb rising medical costs. Mr Cassidy said the host "does not understand" the coverage in his bill. Kimmel became a prominent voice in the healthcare reform debate after delivering a heartfelt TV monologue in May describing his newborn son's near-fatal condition. He said his son Billy would have died if not for the star's expensive healthcare plan, which most Americans are unable to afford. "With this one, your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs - if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed." He ended his monologue saying Mr Cassidy should "stop using my name", adding "there's a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you, and its called the lie detector test. You're welcome to stop by the studio and take it". (Webmaster's comment: Right-Wingers, Conservatives and Republicans are all the same. They'll tell any lie to excuse their attack on the American people.)
9-20-17 Trump's first UN speech met with criticism from some leaders
Trump's first UN speech met with criticism from some leaders
Donald Trump's first major speech at the United Nations has been denounced by some of the member nations he singled out for criticism. The US president included Iran among "a small group of rogue regimes", and said the US would "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to do so. Iran's foreign minister said: "Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times", and not the UN. North Korea has yet to respond to the president's threat of destruction. Mr Trump's speech laid out a vision for a world filled with sovereign states which worked for the betterment of their citizens - but he spent large portions targeting what he called "rogue nations" which are "the scourge of our planet today". Washington has repeatedly warned North Korea over its weapons tests, which violate UN Security Council resolutions. On Tuesday, Mr Trump criticised North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, saying: "Rocket man is on a suicide mission." "If [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," he added. Reuters news agency said one audience member covered his face with his hands, and that loud, startled murmurs filled the hall in response. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who was observed crossing her arms, told the BBC: "It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience." (Webmaster's comment: Trump Preaches Hate! His speech should be condemned by all decent human beings!)
9-20-17 The new TrumpCare bill is the worst one yet
The new TrumpCare bill is the worst one yet
you thought TrumpCare was dead, think again. Back in July, the Republicans tried and failed to pass no less than three versions of an ObamaCare repeal bill through the Senate. But Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had already begun work on a fourth version when the third one failed. And in the last week or so, it has picked up a lot of momentum. It might even be able to pass. This makes zero sense. If anything, the Cassidy-Graham bill is the worst version yet. To understand why, let's review the two major problems that have plagued every single effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare to date. The first is policy. Either explicitly or implicitly, Republicans have always promised something better than ObamaCare: lower premiums, lower deductibles, more generous coverage. But Republican ideology also dictates that spending and regulation cuts be used to achieve this result. These are impossible positions to reconcile. Less spending and regulations can only deliver higher premiums, higher deductibles, or less coverage. The second problem is political. Senate Republicans simply have very few votes to spare. Three defectors have always been enough to kill TrumpCare. So surely the Cassidy-Graham bill offers up some hitherto unforeseen solution to these problems? Some new policy strategy to bring the moderates onboard, without driving away the hardcore right-wing ideologues? Otherwise, what's the point? But Cassidy-Graham transparently lacks any such solution. If anything, it makes the contradictions worse.
9-19-17 Scout Schultz: Protests after police shoot LGBT student
Scout Schultz: Protests after police shoot LGBT student
A protest turned violent on the Georgia Tech campus overnight after a vigil for a student activist who was shot dead by university police officers. Scout Schultz, 21, was killed after a confrontation with armed officers in which the student, armed with a multi-tool knife, advanced on police. A police car was set ablaze in the protests, while two officers were hurt and three people were arrested. Schultz's parents asked that "those who wish to protest... do so peacefully". "Answering violence with violence is not the answer," William and Lynne Schultz said in a statement, only hours after appearing at an emotional news conference to question why police used lethal force against their child. Schultz - who identified as intersex and preferred to be referred to by the pronoun "they" - was the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, and was politically active in progressive causes. (Webmaster's comment: Police Standard Operating Procedure: Always Shoot To Kill! Never Shoot To Wound! Killing is the only thing COPS understand how to do!)
9-19-17 New surge in migrants crossing US-Canada border
New surge in migrants crossing US-Canada border
More than 5,700 asylum seekers crossed illegally from the US into Canada last month, a rise of almost 80% on July, government figures show. Canada has seen a surge of refugee claimants in recent months, especially into the province of Quebec. Crossings have increased relatively steadily since January. There were 5,712 people intercepted by the Mounties last month at the Canada-US border, bringing this year's total to 13,211. In Manitoba, 80 people were intercepted after crossing the border. In British Columbia, 102 people were stopped. But the vast majority - 5,530 - crossed into Quebec in the first part of the month, where people can easily cross a ditch at the end of a rural New York state road into Canada. The influx into the predominantly French-speaking province was led by Haitians who had been living legally in the US, protected by a programme that extended temporary protection from deportation to Haitian citizens after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The Trump administration has hinted it will not extend that protection when it expires in January 2018. (Webmaster's comment: Unbelievable! People fleeing the land of Freedom and Liberty! Maybe there's not as much Freedom and Liberty here as we've been led to believe!)
9-19-17 America's coming campus conflagration
America's coming campus conflagration
The first time around, there were a variety of causes: the civil rights movement and the injustices that inspired it; the perceived immorality of the Vietnam War and the threat of conscription; growing hostility toward the supposed conformity of the ruling establishment (which included the leadership of the nation's universities) and its complicity in the country's multifarious ethical lapses; the rapid, destabilizing rise of youth culture along with its celebration of and demand for anti-bourgeois forms of entertainment (sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll). American political culture is more polarized than it has been in decades, perhaps going as far back as the Civil War. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency was both an expression of this polarization and a provocation for more of it, as we have repeatedly seen in the country at large during the 10-plus months since Trump's shocking electoral victory. That sets the broadest context for rising campus tensions. More specifically, there is Trump's distinctive style of cultural populism and alt-right conspiracy-mongering, which mocks and even flagrantly assaults (at the level of both policy and political rhetoric) the highest ideals of the university: the methodical pursuit of truth, and respect for all members of the campus community, very much including those from marginalized groups. Most colleges, from world-renowned research universities on down to community colleges serving working-class populations, welcome immigrants and foreigners as students. They also tend to see themselves as contributing to the benefit of humanity through the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge (and consequent vanquishing of ill-informed prejudices). That makes campuses places uniquely inclined to oppose everything Trump and his most vociferous supporters stand for.
9-18-17 The profound sadness of crystal therapy
The profound sadness of crystal therapy
I'm staring at one of the most bizarre and complicated charts you are ever likely to see outside the pages of a late-medieval alchemy manual. Fourteen rows of named colors are divided upon into four columns: "Energy," "Effect," "Chakra," and "Stone." To me, it reads like something out of the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. But for some people, this is a highly serious, indeed a quasi-religious document. According to The New York Times, belief in the mystical healing properties of crystals is now "practically as common as drinking green juice and practicing yoga." The fact that I have no idea what "green juice" is and am not acquainted with a single practitioner of yoga gives you a sense of how cut off some of us are from the interests and habits of wealthy educated Americans in major metropolitan areas. The basic idea for adherents of crystal therapy — "wellness" instructors, restaurant publicists, luxury nail salon entrepreneurs, someone called Adele — is that if you want to bring about a given effect, you need to harness the magical color energy sleeping inside old bits of rock. How exactly you go about doing this is largely a question of taste and convenience and, let's face it, means. Do you want to bathe in amber water or just clutch a piece of onyx while you meditate? Are you down for burning some sage and brandishing your celestite amid the griseous fumes? Can you afford enough gold to fix your solar plexus? But it all comes down to the same thing: using commercially shaped aggregates of mineral or mineraloid compounds to influence your mood and health and, who knows, maybe even your destiny. (Webmaster's comment: More Mysticism for the Ignorant of America!)
9-18-17 How sanctuary cities are protecting their schoolchildren
How sanctuary cities are protecting their schoolchildren
The day after Donald Trump was elected president there was a conspicuous drop-off in attendance across the Oakland Unified School District. Families were afraid to send their kids out into the world for fear they'd be snatched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the way to school; students had heard Trump's promise to immediately deport or incarcerate two or three million undocumented immigrants. A similar drop in attendance had happened before: Following a pair of raids by ICE in May of 2008, rumors quickly spread around the Bay Area that agents were circling public schools, waiting for the right moment to apprehend undocumented students in the middle of algebra class. The gossip turned out to be unfounded — at least when it came to ICE agents being on school grounds; two families in Oakland and Berkeley were detained when their homes were raided. Trump's presidency represents something more sinister than mere rumor. As a candidate, Trump ran on the promise of a massive deportation program that would focus not only on criminals but also on those who simply crossed the border illegally. It's one of the few campaign promises Trump is following through on: During the first three months of his presidency, 21,392 undocumented immigrants were detained by ICE, compared to 2,500 during the same period in 2016. Many of those detained have no criminal records, a stark contrast to previous administrations, which have de-prioritized detaining immigrants without a rap sheet. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is just plain mean. By his own words he hates Immigrants and Muslims. He'll do anything he can to get them all out of the United States to the glee of his supporters.)
9-18-17 Turkey's new school year: Jihad in, EVOLUTION out
Turkey's new school year: Jihad in, EVOLUTION out
Turkey's schools have begun the new academic year with a controversial curriculum that leaves out the theory of evolution and brings in the concept of jihad. For Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, the idea is for a new "education of values". Critics have denounced new textbooks as "sexist" and "anti-scientific", and complain of a major blow to secular education. "By embedding a jihadist education of values, they try to plague the brains of our little children, with the same understanding that transforms the Middle East into a bloodbath," said Bulent Tezcan of the secular, opposition CHP party. But the government has accused the opposition of creating black propaganda and trying to polarise Turkey ahead of elections in 2019. "When we say values, they understand something else. We are proud of our conservative-democrat stand, but we don't want everyone to be like us," says Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz. Textbooks explaining the idea of jihad are being rolled out in Turkey's religious vocational schools, known widely as Imam-Hatip high schools. They will then be offered to children in secondary schools as optional courses in a year's time.
9-18-17 Will Germany's new law kill free speech online?
Will Germany's new law kill free speech online?
In October a new law comes into force in Germany that will impose huge fines on social networks if they don't delete illegal content including hate speech. It's touched off a huge debate over freedom of expression and has attracted an unusual collection of opponents. The law is called Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz - NetzDG for short. It obliges the biggest social networks - those with more than two million German users - to take down "blatantly illegal" hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported. For material that's less obviously violating the law, networks such as Facebook and Instagram will have seven days to consider and, if appropriate, delete posts. Failure to meet these deadlines could lead to fines of up to €50m. Critics argue the short timeframes coupled with the potentially large fines will lead social networks to be overly cautious and delete huge amounts of content - even things that are perfectly legal. But the law's supporters, and the German government, argue that it will force social media companies to proactively deal with online incitement and hate speech. The law doesn't actually change what's considered hate speech in Germany. No new offences are created. The law simply cites sections of the German Criminal Code which details illegal speech online. The categories range from "forming terrorist organisations", to the much vaguer "defamation of religions, religious and ideological associations." In addition, German law restricts some types of speech that are allowed in many other countries. For instance, the use of Nazi symbols is banned, as are the symbols and flags of some extremist groups. (Webmaster's comment: Germany has no intention of letting the Nazi movement get a foothold. They do not want the Nazi haters to increase like they have in the United States. They already did that 70 years ago and look what happened then.)
9-17-17 St Louis police killing: Fresh protest breaks out in city
St Louis police killing: Fresh protest breaks out in city
New protests have broken out in the US city of St Louis, where a white former policeman was found not guilty of murdering a black suspect in 2011. Hundreds have marched in the Missouri city for a second day, chanting "Black lives matter!" More than 33 protesters were arrested and 11 police officers were injured in Friday night's scuffles. The defendant, Jason Stockley, 36, was cleared on Friday of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith, 24. Mr Stockley, a serving police officer at the time, was recorded saying "Gonna kill this [expletive], don't you know it" while in a car chase after Mr Smith. On Saturday evening, police were out in force as demonstrators rallied in St Louis.(Webmaster's comment: St Louis police killing are exactly the correct words. This was a deliberate murder by a COP and a total failure of our justice system!)
9-16-17 Storm over 'pride in WW2 soldiers' remarks in Germany
Storm over 'pride in WW2 soldiers' remarks in Germany
A candidate of Germany's right-wing nationalist party has said the country should "be proud of" its soldiers in both world wars and people should no longer "reproach" Germans for World War Two. Alexander Gauland's words have been met with some scorn. What pride are Germans likely to muster for the Wehrmacht? Germany is "very devoted to a discussion of its past", Andrew Cohen, a Canadian journalist and professor, tells the BBC. "I have not seen a country anywhere that is as committed to a frank and painful discussion of its history as Germany is." Making a Nazi salute or denying the Holocaust in Germany could land you in jail - alongside swastikas and other Nazi symbols they are illegal. And the country takes pains to make sure the horrors of World War Two are remembered, respectfully, with a view to preventing them happening again. Cities are full of sites dedicated to the Holocaust, from big museums and concentration camp memorials to tiny plaques in the ground, the size of cobblestones, that you may notice by chance when in the middle of something else. Some have said it is too much - a decade ago already Der Spiegel published an article decrying the "mania for commemoration" and quoting the essayist Wolf Jobst Siedler saying: "If the Germans were once the greatest sinners, they now apparently want to be the greatest penitents." The army (Wehrmacht) did not run the concentration camps - that was the role of the SS. But it committed atrocities of its own including shooting thousands of Polish people. "The mainstream approach is that the Wehrmacht was a willing instrument of the Nazi perpetrators as an institution," says Michael Wolffson, an Israeli-German historian at the University of the Armed Forces in Munich. "Many things are commemorated - resistance to the Nazis, victims such as Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals - but not the Wehrmacht." (Webmaster's comment: The Wehrmacht (the German regular arrmy) murdered 18 million russian civilians. They slaughted them wholesale! They machine gunned them into pits, bulldozed and buried them alive, burned them alive in their churches and synagogues, from thier airplanes they machine gunned fleeing rufugies and bombed peasant villages into rubble. Hitler ordered that no more than 20% of the slavs should be left alive and THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THE WEHRMACHT DID! They are still discovering mass graves in Russian and in the Ukraine. The farming landscape is full of them.)
9-15-17 Hatred for Muslims in our society
Hatred for Muslims in our society
An entire Iraqi-American family was arrested in Wichita after the father tried to deposit a large check from the sale of their home. Sattar Ali supplied verification documents while depositing the $151,000 check, but bank officials had him arrested and handcuffed. Police also detained his weeping wife, 15-year-old daughter, and 11-year-old son. “I would expect this in the 1950s,” said Ali, an engineer who moved to the U.S. in 1993, “not now.”
9-15-17 Hatred for Women in our society
Hatred for Women in our society
President Trump has nominated 42 U.S. attorneys so far to replace the 46 Obama appointees he fired. Only one is a woman, and 40 are white men. When Trump took office, there were 24 female U.S. attorneys.
9-15-17 Out-Of-Body Experiences May Be Explained By Inner Ear Damage
Out-Of-Body Experiences May Be Explained By Inner Ear Damage
An out-of-body experience (OBE) can be described as the sensation of floating above your own body and getting a bird's eye view of your surroundings. This makes for great movie sequences, but a 2017 study published in Cortex suggests the spiritually transcendent awakening thing doesn't hold much weight. It's not your third-eye opening, but rather it may be your inner ear kind of buggin' out. More specifically, it's the vestibular system, which is made up of canals in the inner ear that track your balance and location in space; it's the same system that makes you dizzy and gets you carsick. The study, conducted by researchers from Aix-Marseille Université and the Centre des Vertiges, looked at 210 patients who have reported dizziness. Of that group, 14 percent said they've had OBEs. By contrast, only five percent of the control group of 210 healthy people said they've had an OBE. Add this significant difference to the previous anecdotal notion that the vestibular system plays a role in OBEs. ere's an easy way to think about how the vestibular system may cause this effect, according to Jason Braithwaite, a psychologist at Lancaster University: Your inner ear works to give your brain an idea of where you're existing in a space. Are you in a small room? Huge room? Are you moving? Your brain always has a bird's eye understanding of your space, but you experience the world through your eyes' perspective. But them something glitches in how your brain is receiving sensory information, so your bird's eye view takes over as a default. How's that for spiritual enlightenment?
9-16-17 St Louis officer cleared in shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith
St Louis officer cleared in shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith
A white former Missouri policeman has been found not guilty of murdering a black man by shooting him five times after a car chase. A judge acquitted Jason Stockley of first-degree murder over the 2011 shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in the city of St Louis. Mr Stockley, 36, was recorded during the pursuit saying: "Gonna kill this [expletive], don't you know it." There were scuffles as protesters took to the streets after the verdict. St Louis police later said more than people had been arrested. Four officers were injured during the protests. Police fired tear gas and pepper spray after demonstrators threw rocks and water bottles. Mr Smith was a new father and engaged to be married when he was killed on 20 December 2011. Mr Stockley and his partner said they believed they had observed Mr Smith engaged in a drug deal outside a fried chicken restaurant near central St Louis. Police dashcam video and surveillance footage shows Mr Smith reversed his car into the police vehicle twice during his attempt to drive off. After a three-minute high-speed car chase, Mr Stockley told his partner, who was in the driver's seat, to ram Mr Smith's car. Mr Stockley then ran to Mr Smith's window and fired five shots, hitting him each time. St Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson wrote in Friday's ruling: "This Court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defence." Prosecutors also accused Mr Stockley of planting a gun in Mr Smith's car after shooting him. The .38 calibre revolver recovered from the Buick had Mr Stockley's DNA on it, but not Mr Smith's. (Webmaster's comment: This was a complete travesty of justice! The outright murder of blacks by white police in this country continues!)
9-15-17 Shot Minnesota security guard 'lied about black gunman'
Shot Minnesota security guard 'lied about black gunman'
A US college campus security guard accidentally shot himself and made up a story about a non-existent black gunman to hide the blunder, police say. Brent Ahlers, 25, told police in Minnesota he had been shot by an African-American with a "short Afro", according to emergency dispatch audio. Tuesday night's bogus report spawned a manhunt involving 55 officers, four dogs and a state patrol aircraft. About 1,800 students were on lockdown at St Catherine University in St Paul. Mr Ahlers called 911 on Tuesday night to report he had been shot in the shoulder by a suspicious person he confronted in a wooded area on the campus. Emergency dispatch audio said the at-large suspect was a black man wearing a navy blue sweatshirt and black jeans, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. Investigators said they were sceptical of Mr Ahlers' story, so decided not to publicise his description of the supposed gunman. After the search failed to find any suspect, Mr Ahlers admitted to police he had accidentally shot himself, said officials. Investigators say Mr Ahlers feared he would be sacked because the college did not arm its security personnel, and he had brought his own handgun to work. Police spokesman Mike Ernster told local media: "He was nervous about losing his job due to the fact that he had his gun at work, and what had occurred, so he made up the story to cover what had happened." Mr Ahlers is charged with falsely reporting a crime and is due in court on 31 October. (Webmaster's comment: In America you can blame a black for any crime. For many whites that always works.)
9-15-17 Chicago judge blocks Sessions' sanctuary city funds order
Chicago judge blocks Sessions' sanctuary city funds order
A federal judge in Chicago has blocked an order requiring cities to fully cooperate with immigration officials or risk losing some federal funding. The ruling is a fresh blow to US President Donald Trump, who has promised to end illegal immigration and so-called "sanctuary cities". The judge said it was likely Attorney General Jeff Sessions had overstepped his authority with the order. The preliminary injunction applies to more than 400 cities nationwide. In July, Mr Sessions announced that certain funding would only be awarded to jurisdictions allowing federal immigration officers into detention facilities and which gave 48 hours' notice before releasing inmates wanted by the federal authorities. It was seen as a further attempt to punish cities and other areas that are part of the "sanctuary" movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts.
What is a 'sanctuary city'?
- The term applies to cities in the US that have policies to limit the assistance given to federal immigration authorities
- Officials in those areas, including local law enforcement, are not allowed to enquire as to an individual's immigration status in the course of their duties
- It is not a legal term so the way it is implemented can vary, but the policies can be set in law or just part of local policing practices
- The idea got traction in the 1980s after Los Angeles told its police force to stop questioning people solely to determine their immigration status, in a bid to encourage immigrant communities to work with police
- More than 400 jurisdictions across the US, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Seattle, have enacted policies protecting undocumented immigrants
- Critics say these policies undermine federal law enforcement efforts and encourage illegal immigration
9-15-17 Vatican recalls envoy from US amid child porn inquiry
Vatican recalls envoy from US amid child porn inquiry
The Vatican has recalled a diplomat from Washington DC amid controversy over a child pornography investigation. US officials told the Holy See in August a member of its diplomatic corps could have violated a law related to child pornography images. Vatican prosecutors said on Friday they opened an investigation into the case and the priest in question had returned to Rome, according to a statement. As a diplomat, the priest has immunity from prosecution in the US. The US government reportedly requested the priest's diplomatic immunity be lifted, but the request was denied, according to the AP news agency. The priest, who authorities declined to identify, was a senior member of the Vatican embassy staff, the news agency reported, citing an official familiar with the case. The Vatican said it was working with investigators internationally to collect evidence in the case. The Catholic Church has faced a damaging series of repeated allegations of sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up. Pope Francis has vowed to crack down on rampant child sexual abuse claims, but has faced sharp criticism for his handling of the issue. (Webmaster's comment: Another religious leader sexually abusing and raping children! When will it end!)
9-15-17 In pictures: Olère art depicts Auschwitz horrors
In pictures: Olère art depicts Auschwitz horrors
Powerful paintings by an Auschwitz death camp survivor - David Olère - are given to the camp memorial in Poland. A Polish-French Jew, David Olère, painted Auschwitz death camp scenes after surviving the horrors there. This is a self-portrait. The Auschwitz Memorial in southern Poland has acquired 18 Olère paintings. Nazi Germany murdered about one million Jews and 100,000 non-Jews at the Auschwitz complex. Deported to the camp from Paris in 1943, Olère was forced into the Sonderkommando - a unit which collected corpses after gassing. Olère shows the cruel Nazi slogan "work makes you free" and a crematorium chimney. He died in France in 1985 aged 83. The artist's works are valued for helping to document the Holocaust. Poland's culture ministry bought the 18 works, the world's largest Olère collection.
9-15-17 Russians brag about meddling
Russians brag about meddling
Russian lawmakers are now openly boasting that their country helped elect Donald Trump. Discussing waning U.S. influence around the world, Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov said on Russian TV this week that U.S. intelligence “missed it when Russian intelligence stole the presidency of the United States.” Earlier this month, Nikita Isaev, leader of the far-right New Russia Movement, said on Russian state TV that Moscow should release its compromising material on Trump in retaliation for the U.S. closing Russian diplomatic compounds. When asked whether the Kremlin had such information on the U.S. president, Isaev said, “Of course we have it!”
9-15-17 The 2016 election: How Russia used Facebook
The 2016 election: How Russia used Facebook
“As if we needed more evidence that Facebook influenced the election,” said Christine Emba in WashingtonPost.com. Last week, the social media giant admitted that it had sold more than $100,000 in ads between 2015 and 2016 “to a Kremlin-linked ‘troll farm’ seeking to influence U.S. voters.” The ads—which Facebook refused to release—contained divisive messages on hot-button topics “from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration.” Russia’s election meddling didn’t end there, said Scott Shane in The New York Times. An investigation by the Times reveals that the Kremlin deployed “a legion of Russian-controlled impostors” to target Democrat Hillary Clinton. These impostors set up sophisticated fake Facebook accounts, pretending to be ordinary Americans with names like “Melvin Redick” and “Katherine Fulton,” and used those accounts to post thousands of anti-Clinton attacks, which Russian bots and real people then passed along on Facebook and Twitter. These efforts represent “an unprecedented foreign intervention in American democracy.”
9-15-17 The beginning of Germany's Nazism in America?
The beginnning of Germany's Nazism in America?
“In [President] Trump’s first seven months in office, the stock market boomed and the United States faced no full-blown national-security crisis. But what if the economy collapses, or the country faces a major domestic terrorist attack or even nuclear war? What if Mueller finds evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians—and Trump fires not just Mueller but also scores of others in the Justice Department, and pardons himself and everyone else involved? These are not crazy possibilities. The Constitution has held thus far and might continue to do so under more-extreme circumstances. But it also might not.”
9-15-17 Pretending that gays don’t exist
Pretending that gays don’t exist
The Nashville Statement sounds like “the death rattle” of a religious movement stuck in the 19th century, said Sarah Jones. The statement, recently issued by the Tennessee-based Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, declares unequivocally that “adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception” is in itself a sin. The 187 prominent evangelical leaders who signed the statement say God intended all human beings to be either male or female, and sex to occur only within heterosexual marriage. It’s no shock, of course, that evangelicals are opposed to homosexuality. But the Biblical literalists who issued this statement see the rising acceptance of gay people and gay marriage as a threat to their patriarchal worldview, in which women and men have “distinct roles.’’ So the statement insists that same-sex orientation—and transgender identity—are mere “psychological conditions” and are inherently immoral. No “faithful Christian,” the statement says, may disagree with this view. Millions of Christians do adamantly disagree, including the 47 percent of evangelicals under age 53 who support marriage equality. The Nashville Statement only reveals the religious right’s “deep insecurity” over its waning influence over how Americans think.
9-15-17 Moore’s war with the elites
Moore’s war with the elites
Michael Moore’s big mouth has always landed him in trouble, said Jessica Pressler in New York magazine. When the left-wing documentary filmmaker was growing up in Flint, Mich., he decided to become a priest—but was kicked out of the seminary in his second year for asking too many questions. Switching to a public high school, Moore ran for the school board as a teenager on a platform of firing the principal. He won—but was ousted by his adult colleagues when they got fed up with his frequent dramatic protests. Why is he always at war with authority? “The way I look at it, it’s because I don’t come from money,” says the Bowling for Columbine director. His battle with “the elites” continued into his film career, when Fahrenheit 9/11 and his other films were dismissed by influential critics. Moore attributes those bad reviews to his criticism of The New York Times and other liberal publications over their support for the Iraq War, and to the resentment of elites of his success. “I have a high-school education. My dad was a factory worker, my mom was a secretary. Most of them went to a good school. And they may not be where the promise of their privilege was going to take them. And so I have to listen to the sadness that exists inside them about themselves—that’s what I really hear.”
9-15-17 Charlottesville: Trump repeats 'both sides' rhetoric
Charlottesville: Trump repeats 'both sides' rhetoric
US President Donald Trump has repeated the controversial argument that "both sides" were at fault in white supremacist violence last month. "A lot of people are saying... 'Gee, Trump may have a point'," he said. Mr Trump made the comments hours before signing a resolution condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups following the violence in Charlottesville on 12 August. One woman was killed when a car ploughed into a crowd in the city. That incident had followed a far-right rally which was supported by white supremacists and neo-Nazis protesting against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War. Mr Trump faced bipartisan criticism when he first condemned violence - in which anti-racism protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed - "on many sides". On Wednesday, Mr Trump met South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who had condemned his comments in the aftermath of the violence. Mr Trump revived controversy over the issue on Thursday, when he said, after being asked about the meeting with Mr Scott: "I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa [anti-fascists], if you look at what's going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and essentially that's what I said. "Now because of what's happened since then with Antifa. When you look at really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, 'Gee, Trump may have a point.' "I said there's some very bad people on the other side also." Hours later, Mr Trump signed a resolution "rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups". The resolution, which the president said he was "pleased to sign", was unanimously passed by Congress earlier this week.
9-15-17 Trump's 'Make America Great Again' hats burned over Daca deal
Trump's 'Make America Great Again' hats burned over Daca deal
Disaffected supporters of US President Donald Trump have posted social media videos of themselves burning his "Make America Great Again" (Maga) hats. It comes after news the president was working with Democrats toward a deal to protect some young undocumented immigrants in the US. More hard-line elements of his support have criticised him for the move. On the election trail, he had promised to "immediately terminate" the "illegal executive order" known as Daca. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme was put in place to protect so-called "Dreamers" - migrants brought to the US illegally as children - from deportation. Some 800,000 young undocumented migrants are thought to be in the US, but they have been left in limbo after President Trump first announced he was abolishing the scheme and then appeared to backtrack by negotiating with his rivals. Mr Trump's campaign was spearheaded by a tough stance on immigration. This included a promise to build a US-Mexico border wall, paid for by the Mexican government. Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet led by Mr Trump's former chief-strategist Steven Bannon, accused the president of a "full-fledged cave on the issue of giving amnesty to nearly 800,000 illegal aliens."
9-15-17 Democrats embrace single-payer health bill
Democrats embrace single-payer health bill
At least 15 Democratic senators, most of them presidential hopefuls, lined up to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week as he introduced legislation that would expand Medicare into a universal health insurance program. Sanders has introduced single-payer health legislation three times before, but he has never had a co-sponsor. This time, a roster of influential senators put their names on the bill, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Democratic leaders declined to endorse the measure, saying they wanted to focus on protecting Obamacare; the bill has no chance of passing in the GOP-led Congress. Republican Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Sanders’ bill has become a costly “litmus test for the liberal left.”
A mayoral candidate in Charlotte, N.C., listed being “white” as one of her qualifications. Kimberley Paige Barnette described herself as “Republican & smart, white, traditional,” prompting GOP leaders to distance themselves from her campaign. Barnette also pledged to crack down on demonstrations, because “they scare people.”
9-15-17 Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at ‘Jew haters’
Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at ‘Jew haters’
Facebook allows organisations to target adverts at people who declare an interest in topics such as “how to burn Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong”. The investigative news organisation ProPublica reported on Thursday that it was able to use Facebook’s ad-buying service to direct adverts to almost 2300 people who expressed an interest in anti-Semitic topics. Other categories included “Jew hater” and “why Jews ruin the world.” Facebook’s self-service ad-buying system describe all of these categories as “fields of study”. ProPublica journalists paid Facebook $30 to place three adverts in the newsfeeds of users who had expressed an interest in the above. All three ads were approved within 15 minutes, although Facebook later removed the categories after ProPublica contacted the social media giant for comment. The anti-Semitic ad categories seem to have been generated because Facebook users had listed those themes as either an interest, an employer or a “field of study” in their profiles. Facebook’s ad-placing algorithms automatically turn users’ self-declared interests into advertising categories. The anti-Semitic groups had very small audiences, indicating that only a handful of Facebook users had declared an interested in those topics. There were so few potential viewers that Facebook automatically suggested that ProPublica add related interest groups, including “German Schutzstaffel”, more commonly known as the Nazi SS; and “Nazi Party”. These two groups had a combined audience of almost 6000 users.
9-15-17 Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites'
Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites'
Facebook is reviewing its ad targeting system after investigators found they could direct ads to self-described anti-Semites. Researchers at ProPublica found several ad categories for people who had declared that they "hated" Jews. Facebook said its algorithms automatically created the categories when analysing user interests. It said it would trim the number of categories available and check the list before letting advertisers see it. The ProPublica researchers found the anti-Jewish categories while conducting a larger investigation into the way Facebook targets adverts at users. To find out if the classifications were real, it bought ads that combined the three separate anti-Semitic categories with several others that were about far-right topics.
9-15-17 Swedish politician Patrik Liljeglod 'raped for his beliefs'
Swedish politician Patrik Liljeglod 'raped for his beliefs'
A Swedish politician has revealed on Facebook that he was raped by a knife-wielding attacker because of his political leanings. Patrik Liljeglod is a group leader of the Left Party, in the city of Falun. He also spoke about the assault at a council meeting on Thursday evening. "I was brutally treated and raped at knifepoint on the pretext that I was a left-wing [expletive], that people like us like this, and finally that I was a traitor," he said. Police have confirmed they are investigating the matter. Sweden's SVT said there have been no arrests so far, and the National Forensic Centre is working on the case. Mr Liljeglod said the attack happened at the end of July, when he was walking home on a summer evening. He said he would have preferred to bury what happened so deep that nobody but him would ever know, but that he felt it was his duty to speak out because the attack had been politically motivated. "I stand here because, given my deeply rooted belief that democracy is an integral part of our society, I feel that I must," he wrote. The Left Party leader said he would not abandon his agenda, but would fight even harder after what had happened. "Nothing is more important than democracy, people die for the right to democracy every day - and the right we have inherited through our parents' struggles, we have to continue fighting for," he wrote. "And we must remind those citizens who have forgotten why."
9-15-17 Tribe massacred?
Brazilian authorities are investigating the possible massacre of 10 members of one of the Amazon’s most remote, “uncontacted” hunter-gatherer tribes. A group of gold miners reportedly bragged in a bar near the Colombia border about having killed the tribe members, showing off tools and jewelry stolen from the dead. A bar patron recorded their confession and gave the audio to the police, sparking a federal investigation. The more than 100 uncontacted Amazon tribes are mostly small family bands, so if the massacre is confirmed, it could mean a significant percentage of an entire ethnic group was wiped out. Funding for indigenous affairs in Brazil has been cut by nearly 70 percent since 2014, and officials don’t have the resources to monitor the tribes.
9-14-17 Daca: Trump 'fairly close' to deal with Democrats on Dreamers
Daca: Trump 'fairly close' to deal with Democrats on Dreamers
US President Donald Trump has said he is "fairly close" to a deal with top Democrats to protect young undocumented migrants known as Dreamers. Mr Trump told journalists at the White House that the agreement would include "massive border security". The president said funding for his planned border wall was not part of the pact. Mr Trump spoke a day after talks with top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the White House. Hardline conservatives are enraged. Only last week Mr Trump stunned fellow Republicans by making a budget deal with the Democrats. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme allows some 800,000 people to remain in the US, and provides temporary permits for work and study. The Obama-era scheme was put in place to protect so-called "Dreamers" - migrants who entered the US illegally as children - from deportation. Only last week Mr Trump announced he would cancel the programme. He said he was giving Congress six months to enact a replacement plan for Daca recipients.
9-14-17 New Zealand police enlist school in cannabis crackdown
New Zealand police enlist school in cannabis crackdown
Local police on New Zealand's South Island are calling on a primary school to be on the lookout for illegal cannabis plantations. Havelock School in the picturesque Marlborough Sounds has run a police appeal in its latest newsletter - just below the cross-country race results - urging teachers, parents and pupils to be "extra-vigilant as the cannabis-growing season approaches," reports the Marlborough Express newspaper, which prints a photo of the item. The newsletter also urges readers to look out for "people in the bush who do not look like they are hunting or tramping" - a New Zealand term for hill-walking. One of the two local police officers is Spencer Kingi, who is also a parent representative at the school. He told the paper that the public play an important role as the "eyes and ears of the police" in Marlborough's remote rural locations and islands. These are ideal for hiding cannabis plantations, so the public should report any suspicious vehicles or yachts, and any cannabis-growing kit like hydroponic equipment, he says. Constable Kingi told the paper that the police are using every means, including the school newsletter, to get people involved in "reducing harm in our communities, where the supply of illicit drugs has a big impact".
9-14-17 Why Bernie Sanders' single-payer push is great policy and even better politics
Why Bernie Sanders' single-payer push is great policy and even better politics
Bernie Sanders unveiled his latest version of a Medicare-for-all plan on Wednesday, to a highly unusual level of media attention and support within the Democratic Party. A third of the party's Senate caucus have come out as co-sponsors — although, unsurprisingly, neither Chuck Schumer nor Nancy Pelosi are backing it yet — and it looks likely that more will sign on soon. The plan is extremely generous — indeed, much more so than many peer countries. But that only makes it great policy and better politics. So first, the details: The plan would be phased in over a period of four years. In the first year, traditional Medicare would be expanded to cover dental, vision, and hearing aids, as well as people over 55 or under 18, while others would be able to buy in if they wish. In the second year, the age qualification would be lowered to 45, in the third year to 35, and then in the fourth year, everyone remaining would be included. This upgraded version of Medicare would also be a lot more generous in terms of access. There would be no cost-sharing, except for prescription drugs. It is, as Paul Waldman argues, probably best understood as an opening bid — a symbolic maximal demand rather than the usual pre-compromised Democratic fare. Sanders later released a sketch of a financing plan, which lays out several options to reduce costs and raise revenue, though it does not decide which is best. A more detailed discussion will inevitably have to be part of any Medicare-for-all bill. But there are some important things to be clear about. When talking about expanded public health programs, writers and analysts tend to mention "costs" in a way that can be rather misleading. Many skeptics cite Vermont, for example, which balked at the tax increases necessary to pay for a single-payer plan in the state.
9-13-17 Bernie Sanders pitches European-style healthcare system
Bernie Sanders pitches European-style healthcare system
Less than two months after successfully stymying Republican attempts to roll back Barack Obama's healthcare reforms, Democrats are going on the attack. On Wednesday afternoon Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders followed through on a promise to introduce a universal healthcare programme that replaces the current regulated free-market insurance system with a government-run one. Titled the Medicare for All Act of 2017, the senator's bill would expand the popular Medicare insurance programme, currently available to those age 65 or older, to all Americans over the course of four years. Private insurance would still be available, but it would be supplemental. Basic medical needs, including doctor's appointments, medical procedures and prescription drugs, would be provided at no out-of-pocket costs, paid for by tax dollars (at an estimated cost of $32tn over 10 years). The plan would, in short, turn the US system of health insurance - which currently largely relies on employers providing subsidised health insurance to their workers - on its head. And this is just fine for Mr Sanders. "Under Medicare for All the average American family will be much better off financially than under the current system because you will no longer be writing checks to private insurance companies," he said in his press event marking the introduction of his bill. Mr Sanders points to healthcare systems nations like Australia, Canada, Denmark and France as examples of more efficient government-managed programmes than the current US model. Canada, for instance, spends $4,533 (£3,433) per capita on healthcare, compared to the $10,000 (£7,575) by the US. The Sanders plan also has a less-than-zero chance of becoming law in this Republican-controlled Congress. Its immediate political prospects, however, aren't why Wednesday's move is significant. (Webmaster's comment: It's about time!)
9-13-17 In Greece, a city struggles to accept its Jewish past
In Greece, a city struggles to accept its Jewish past
Walking through the bustling center of Thessaloniki, Greece, Hella Kounio Matalon points off to the distance. "Most of the properties that we see on this road are former Jewish properties," she said as she walked around Thessaloniki on a recent morning, recounting the city's Jewish history. Matalon knows that history well, partly because of her personal connection to it. During her grandparents' lifetime, the city was known as the "Jerusalem of the Balkans." And her father was among tens of thousands of Thessaloniki's Jews to be taken to Nazi concentration camps. Despite the immense influence the Jewish community had on the city, and the mass persecution it faced during World War II, Thessaloniki had done very little to embrace and memorialize its past. It wasn't until recently, under the leadership of a progressive mayor, that the city began embracing its past. "Before Mayor Boutaris, nobody knew about the Jews of Thessaloniki," said Matalon. "This is a Greek city. But it's a lucky city to be a multicultural city. It was influenced by so many people and we should be proud of it and not hiding it." The wave of change comes at an unlikely time, coinciding with the rise of Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party — currently the third largest party in the Greek parliament. As a Holocaust survivor, Matalon's father is extremely concerned about Golden Dawn. "Every time we speak about it, he compares it with the Nazi Germany because, there also, the extreme right party did not spread [immediately] before the Holocaust. … They started everything 10 years before and nobody believed that something bad would happen." (Webmaster's comment: Just like what's happening in America!)
- Thessaloniki's Jewish history
- The Holocaust
- A new beginning
9-11-17 Row over AI that 'identifies gay faces'
Row over AI that 'identifies gay faces'
A facial recognition experiment that claims to be able to distinguish between gay and heterosexual people has sparked a row between its creators and two leading LGBT rights groups. The Stanford University study claims its software recognises facial features relating to sexual orientation that are not perceived by human observers. The work has been accused of being "dangerous" and "junk science". But the scientists involved say these are "knee-jerk" reactions. Details of the peer-reviewed project are due to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. For their study, the researchers trained an algorithm using the photos of more than 14,000 white Americans taken from a dating website. They used between one and five of each person's pictures and took people's sexuality as self-reported on the dating site. The researchers said the resulting software appeared to be able to distinguish between gay and heterosexual men and women. In one test, when the algorithm was presented with two photos where one picture was definitely of a gay man and the other heterosexual, it was able to determine which was which 81% of the time. With women, the figure was 71%. "Gay faces tended to be gender atypical," the researchers said. "Gay men had narrower jaws and longer noses, while lesbians had larger jaws." But their software did not perform as well in other situations, including a test in which it was given photos of 70 gay men and 930 heterosexual men. When asked to pick 100 men "most likely to be gay" it missed 23 of them. In its summary of the study, the Economist - which was first to report the research - pointed to several "limitations" including a concentration on white Americans and the use of dating site pictures, which were "likely to be particularly revealing of sexual orientation". (Webmaster's comment: The homophobes will love this software!)
9-13-17 Egypt detains lawyer investigating enforced disappearances
Egypt detains lawyer investigating enforced disappearances
Human rights groups have called on the Egyptian authorities to release a prominent lawyer who investigates alleged enforced disappearances. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was arrested at Cairo International Airport on Sunday as he prepared to fly to Geneva to address a UN meeting. He had been due to speak about cases including that of Giulio Regeni, the Italian murdered in Egypt last year. Egypt has denied accusations that the student died in custody. However, officials have admitted that security services were monitoring Mr Regeni, a University of Cambridge PhD student who was researching trade unions. Mr Metwally is a co-founder of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared, a network of individuals whose loved ones have been subjected to enforced or involuntary disappearances. Among the cases it has documented is that of Mr Metwally's son, Amr, who went missing in 2013 shortly after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi. (Webmaster's comment: Egypt descending into dictatorship following Turkey, Venzuela, and Philippines. Trump has praised their leaders and will lead America to follow them.)
9-13-17 The hottest place ever recorded on Earth’s surface was 2370°C
The hottest place ever recorded on Earth’s surface was 2370°C
When a rock from space crashed to ground 38 million years ago, it briefly heated the impact zone to 2370°C, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth’s crust. IT IS the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth’s surface. When a space rock struck the ground nearly 40 million years ago in what is now Canada, the impact briefly heated rocks to 2370 °C. That’s halfway to the temperature at the sun’s surface. The blistering heat has been revealed by an unexpected source: gemstones. When space debris crashes into Earth, the impact creates hellishly hot temperatures in the collision zone. Such impacts when our planet was young changed its atmosphere and crust, and affected its habitability. But inferring the heat generated by these ancient meteorites is tricky. Not only did they hit Earth millions of years ago but both the meteorites and the surface rocks often vaporised in the resulting shock waves. This is a pity, since such rocks hold temperature clues. We can predict maximum temperatures – estimated to be over 2000 °C. However, a lack of physical evidence in the rock record meant it was not possible to test the most extreme predictions. “What kinds of records can survive an event capable of vaporising rocks?” asks Benjamin Black at the University of California, Berkeley. Now clues left behind in the Mistastin Lake crater in Labrador, Canada, which is 28 kilometres across, are revealing just how hot the impact site became. (Webmaster's comment: The dynamic in-depth knowledge and learning that science provides the world is amazing! Contrast that with the absolutely static knowledge in religion!)
9-12-17 Sorry, scientists. Religion is here to stay.
Sorry, scientists. Religion is here to stay.
If anything, it is science that is in danger. In 1966, just over 50 years ago, the distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: "Belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge." Wallace's vision was not exceptional. On the contrary, the modern social sciences, which took shape in 19th-century western Europe, took their own recent historical experience of secularization as a universal model. An assumption lay at the core of the social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicting that all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy. Then something closer to the opposite happened. Not only has secularism failed to continue its steady global march but countries as varied as Iran, India, Israel, Algeria, and Turkey have either had their secular governments replaced by religious ones, or have seen the rise of influential religious nationalist movements. Secularization, as predicted by the social sciences, has failed. To be sure, this failure is not unqualified. Many Western countries continue to witness decline in religious belief and practice. The most recent census data released in Australia, for example, shows that 30 percent of the population identify as having "no religion," and that this percentage is increasing. International surveys confirm comparatively low levels of religious commitment in western Europe and Australasia. Even the United States, a long-time source of embarrassment for the secularization thesis, has seen a rise in unbelief. The percentage of atheists in the U.S. now sits at an all-time high (if "high" is the right word) of around 3 percent. Yet, for all that, globally, the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious remains high, and demographic trends suggest that the overall pattern for the immediate future will be one of religious growth. But this isn't the only failure of the secularization thesis. (Webmaster's comment: Religion is here to stay? It is Science that is in danger? Not if Sioux Falls Scientists can help it!)
9-11-17 Toronto Film Festival: George Clooney 'felt sick' shooting Suburbicon
Toronto Film Festival: George Clooney 'felt sick' shooting Suburbicon
George Clooney has said he "felt sick" while directing some scenes in his new movie Suburbicon. The film's plot sees a black family move into a predominantly white suburban community in the 1950s. "The trickiest part [of shooting] was, we were in a very racially diverse neighbourhood in Fullerton, California," Clooney said. "And we had about 350 extras who were going to hurl a lot of racial slurs and say a lot of pretty terrible things." Clooney added: "Everybody who was making the film, we all just felt sick while we were doing it." Referring to the way the family is treated in the film, the director said: "These are things that happened - [neighbours] sang church hymns, they hung confederate flags over the fence, they built a fence around their house, these are things that really happened. "But it was sickening to be part of it quite honestly, so that was one of the most difficult things to shoot." The movie, which is currently showing as part of the Toronto Film Festival, was conceived during the run up to the US election of November 2016, which was won by Donald Trump. Clooney said: "We'd seen some things on the campaign trail where they were talking about building fences, and scapegoating Mexicans and Muslims, and we're always reminded that these aren't new things and new moments in our history.
9-11-17 'Anti-Semitic' gang robbed Paris Jewish family
'Anti-Semitic' gang robbed Paris Jewish family
French police are trying to find a gang who took a Jewish family hostage in their suburban Paris home, in what is seen as an anti-Semitic attack. A Jewish community leader - 78-year-old Roger Pinto - his wife and son were beaten and robbed of jewellery, cash and credit cards, their lawyer said. "You're Jews, so where's the money?" one of the gang said in the attack on Thursday night, quoted by the lawyer. The suburb, Seine-Saint-Denis, has seen previous anti-Semitic attacks. Mr Pinto heads a group called Siona, which stands for "the defence of the Jewish people and the state of Israel". Three assailants broke into the detached house, in an area called Livry-Gargan, then cut the electricity supply and took Mr Pinto's son hostage. Then they allegedly hit and tied up Mr Pinto and his wife, holding them hostage for several hours before Mrs Pinto managed to call the police. On Sunday France's Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said "the motivation for this cowardly act appears to be directly linked to their religion". The representative council for French Jewish organisations, Crif, condemned "this very violent anti-Semitic attack". And the head of France's Israelite Central Consistory, Joel Mergui, said "Roger Pinto was a victim of anti-Semitic prejudice in the banlieues [suburbs]". In recent years Jews have been targeted in previous attacks in Paris:
- Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jew, was murdered in her apartment by a Muslim neighbour in April, in the 11th arrondissement (district).
- Two Jewish brothers were cut and racially abused in a street attack in Seine-Saint-Denis in February.
- An Islamist gunman killed four people in a Jewish supermarket during the Paris attacks in January 2015, which included the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine.
- In December 2014 three armed burglars broke into a Jewish home in Créteil, southeastern Paris, and tied up a young man and his girlfriend, whom they raped. The family's lawyer said the thieves had told the victims "you Jews have got money".
- A gang kidnapped and tortured Ilan Halimi, 23, in January 2006, then left him to die near Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois station. Gang leader Youssouf Fofana was given life imprisonment in 2009.
(Webmaster's comment: Hitler's followers are back at work!)
9-10-17 When your new co-worker is a robot
When your new co-worker is a robot
At a Wisconsin factory, managers who can't find reliable workers are staffing the assembly line with machines. The workers who remain say it isn't necessarily a bad development. The workers of the first shift had just finished their morning cigarettes and settled into place when one last car pulled into the factory parking lot. Out came two men, who opened up the trunk, and then out came four cardboard boxes labeled "Fragile." "We've got the robots," one of the men said. They watched as a forklift hoisted the boxes and drove into a building where old mechanical presses shook the floor. The forklift carried the boxes past workers wearing steel-toed boots and earplugs, rounded a bend, and arrived at the end of an assembly line. The line was intended for 12 workers, but two were no-shows. Another had just been jailed for drug possession and violating probation. Three other spots were empty because the company hadn't found anybody to do the work. That left six people on the line jumping from spot to spot, snapping parts into place and building metal containers by hand, too busy to look up. In factory after American factory, the surrender of the industrial age to the age of automation continues at a record pace. The transformation is decades along, its primary reasons well-established: a search for cost-cutting and efficiency. But as one factory in Wisconsin is showing, the forces driving automation can evolve — for reasons having to do with the condition of the American workforce. The robots were coming in not to replace humans, but because reliable humans had become so hard to find. It was part of a labor shortage spreading across America, one that economists said is stemming from so many things at once. A low unemployment rate. The retirement of Baby Boomers. A younger generation that doesn't want factory jobs. And, more and more, a workforce in declining health: because of alcohol, because of depression, because of a spike in the use of opioids and other drugs. (Webmaster's comment: Many America workers are arrogant, ignorant, unskilled, lazy, drunk, drugged up, and think America owes them a living! What good are they? Why should anyone hire them?)
9-10-17 The number of starving college students is shockingly high
The number of starving college students is shockingly high
The image of the hungry college student is a familiar one, with late-night ramen meals nearly as ubiquitous as the infamous all-nighter study session. But that scene is a comparatively benign one: Many of these students are unaware they have classmates who regularly skip meals because they lack the funds to buy food. The 2017 "Hungry and Homeless in College" report from the Wisconsin HOPE Lab indicates that up to two-thirds of college students aren't eating enough food. Though schools are making college accessible to first-generation and lower-income students, scholarships are not enough. While there have been no widespread studies on the effects of food insecurity at the college level, a number of smaller studies can help paint a picture of the effects of food insecurity: among them, higher likelihood to experience stress, lower grade point averages, and an almost 10 percent reduction in the likelihood of obtaining their degree. Justice Butler is in her second stint as a student, now at Houston Community College. She attended college years ago while also juggling a full-time job. Eventually, Butler lost her job, and she soon found herself homeless, and hungry. At one point, Butler had lost 20 pounds living on the street. "Not being able to eat correctly made it a struggle. I felt tired and drained," she says. "It was hard to focus and study, but I had help from my homeless friends who encouraged me and helped me study." (Webmaster's comment: How could American education come to this state?)
9-10-17 Australia same-sex marriage vote: PM comes out for Yes
Australia same-sex marriage vote: PM comes out for Yes
Australian political leaders, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have come out in support of a campaign for same-sex marriage. More than 20,000 people gathered in Sydney to campaign ahead of a non-binding postal vote on changing Australia's marriage act. Mr Turnbull made a surprise appearance and speech at the launch of the New South Wales Yes campaign. Opposition leader Bill Shorten then addressed the crowd at the main rally. The non-binding vote to gauge support for changing Australia's Marriage Act will be sent out from 12 September, with a result expected in November. The survey will not have the power to legalise same-sex marriage but it could lead to a vote in parliament if the majority of Australians support the change. The postal plebiscite has been criticised by opponents as an unnecessary delay in resolving the debate, which they say could be settled immediately in parliament. The Prime Minister previously said he would personally be voting in favour of same-sex marriage, but has not publicly campaigned prior to the surprise speech on Sunday.
9-8-17 Muslims in the melting pot
Muslims in the melting pot
Ever since 9/11, many Americans “have come to regard Muslims with fear or suspicion,” said Jeff Jacoby. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump “fueled that animus,” calling for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, while alleging many U.S. Muslims harbor “great hatred toward Americans.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A new Pew Research Center poll reveals that Muslim immigrants “adopt American values, reject fundamentalism,” and assimilate well. A heartening 92 percent say they’re “proud to be an American,” and only 36 percent say all or most of their friends are fellow Muslims—“far less than the 95 percent” in Europe and other countries. In much of the world, there’s no doubt that Islamist fanaticism and terror are very serious problems. But 76 percent of U.S. Muslims say killing civilians for a political or religious cause “can never be justified”—compared with only 59 percent of Americans overall. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims say there is room for “multiple interpretations” of their religion. The good news here is that our tradition of freedom, religious tolerance, and pluralism continues to have great power. “Immigrants of every faith still come to America, and still turn into Americans.” (Webmaster's comment: In other words more religious Americans believe in killing others for religious reasons! That is simply EVIL! So much for the goodness of our religions!)
9-8-17 The Great Deregulation
The Great Deregulation
President Trump has embarked on the most aggressive regulatory rollback in history. The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. A climate change skeptic, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times as attorney general—nearly always in partnership with the oil and gas industry. As EPA head, Pruitt is gutting former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, moving to rescind the Clean Power Plan and undo limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, as well as lifting the ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Pruitt is also targeting basic anti-pollution guidelines. He outraged environmentalists and public health scientists by scrapping a rule prohibiting power plants from dumping toxic pollutants—including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium—into public streams, rivers, and lakes. In addition, the EPA has rescinded a proposed ban on the widespread use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on crops, despite evidence it can damage children’s neurological development. The Interior Department has rolled back a ban on coal mining on public lands, and recommended that Trump use an executive order to shrink at least three national monuments in Utah and Oregon to open up hundreds of thousands of acres to mining and drilling. The Labor Department has postponed a rule that would have minimized construction workers’ exposure to carcinogenic silica dust, while Betsy DeVos’ Education Department wants to eliminate more than a half dozen Obama-era measures designed to protect students from for-profit colleges’ predatory loan practices. During his campaign, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of special interest groups. Yet one of his first actions as president was to remove an Obama-era ethics restriction banning lobbyists from joining government agencies they had lobbied in the past two years. Trump has since hired more than 100 lobbyists from Big Pharma, health care, and the energy and finance industries—roughly two thirds of whom work in departments they once directly lobbied, according to American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal advocacy group. One lobbyist turned regulator is Michael Cantanzaro, a former representative of natural gas producer Devon Energy. Cantanzaro lobbied against a specific EPA rule limiting methane emissions from oil- and gas-drilling sites; one of his first actions in government was to help write an executive order instructing federal agencies to terminate that methane rule. “It’s happening across the federal government,” says Eric Lipton, a New York Times reporter who covers the Trump administration. “The regulated have become the regulators.”
- What’s the goal?
- Which agency is leading the way?
- What about other agencies?
- What about banking?
- What do businesses think of deregulation?
- Foxes guarding henhouses
9-8-17 The dangers of the great American unchurching
The dangers of the great American unchurching
ericans are abandoning religion in droves. That's the clear takeaway from two crucially important polls released earlier this week — one from the Public Religion Research Institute and another from the Pew Research Center. The Pew poll shows that since 2012 the share of Americans who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious" has surged from 19 percent to 27 percent, while the share of those who call themselves "religious and spiritual" has declined from 59 percent to 48 percent. That's a dramatic change for a mere five years, and it builds on longer-term trends. The PRRI poll, which is far more ambitious, places the Pew findings in a broader context, showing that white Christians now comprise less than half of the population; that the relative size of the white evangelical Protestant, white mainline Protestant, and white Catholic populations is declining rapidly; that 24 percent of the country is religiously unaffiliated; that the share of young people (aged 18-29) in that unchurched group is 38 percent; and that nearly all of the growth in the numbers of the religiously unaffiliated has taken place since the early 1990s, when their share of the population consistently averaged a comparatively paltry 8 percent. Add up the findings and assume current trends continue and we're left with a picture of the United States as a country in which established religious traditions and institutions are in sharp decline — and therefore in which culture and politics are rapidly secularizing.
9-8-17 Pope on the couch
Pope on the couch
Pope Francis has revealed that he had weekly sessions with a Jewish psychotherapist in Argentina in the late 1970s. “For six months, I went to her home once a week to clarify a few things,” the pope said. “She was a wonderful person. She really helped me.” He didn’t detail the problems that made him seek help, but at the time, Argentina was under a military dictatorship and the pope, then known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was head of the national Jesuit order. Two years earlier, two Jesuits had been arrested and tortured by the regime; critics have claimed Francis didn’t do enough to protect the men. The therapy revelation came in a new book, Pope Francis: Politics and Society, by Dominique Wolton, a French sociologist who interviewed the pope. (Webmaster's comment: The world of relgion can be an awful place.)
9-8-17 ‘Dreamers’: Will 800,000 young immigrants be deported?
‘Dreamers’: Will 800,000 young immigrants be deported?
“He’s really doing it,” said Ben Mathis-Lilley in Slate.com. After months of indecision, President Trump this week sent out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that had shielded nearly 800,000 children of illegal immigrants from deportation. Trump had once promised he would “show great heart” in dealing with these Dreamers, as they are called, and told them they could “rest easy.” Now he’s given Congress six months to either legalize DACA or kill it, leaving hundreds of thousands of young people—who came to the U.S. at the average age of 6—filled with fear and anxiety. What a callous betrayal, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. The Dreamers came to this country through no fault of their own, and DACA status was granted only to those who attended high school and passed criminal background checks. Fully 97 percent are either working or still in school, and the conservative Cato Institute estimates that deporting them would reduce U.S. economic growth by $280 billion over the next 10 years. But Trump is threatening to deport them anyway, “back to lands they barely know,” as a sop to his angry nativist supporters.
9-8-17 Military weapons: Trump reverses Obama’s ban
Military weapons: Trump reverses Obama’s ban
The Trump administration “wants to arm the police like they’re fighting a war,” said Sarah Posner in The Washington Post. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week said Trump would rescind an Obama-era ban on the federal government’s sale of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement—“weaponized vehicles, high-caliber firearms and ammunition, grenade launchers, bayonets.” President Obama barred these transfers after the militarized police response to the rioting in Ferguson, Mo.—a reaction to the police shooting of an unarmed black man—arguing it made local cops look and act like “an occupying force” in enemy territory. Now Trump has revived the program—right on the heels of his appalling response to white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., and egregious pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a serial abuser of constitutional rights. At a time of racial strife, Trump has fanned the flames, distributing weaponry intended for the battlefield.
9-8-17 ‘Hero’ nurse
A Salt Lake City nurse is being hailed as a champion of patients’ rights after she refused to allow a police officer to take blood from an unconscious man in her care. In disturbing video footage released last week, University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels can be seen calmly explaining to an angry Detective Jeff Payne that he can’t legally obtain a blood sample without a warrant or the patient’s consent. Incensed by her refusal, Payne threatens to charge Wubbels with impeding an investigation, clapping the nurse in handcuffs and dragging her out of the building as she screams “Help me!” and “I did nothing wrong!” The incident sparked national outrage over excessive police force. Payne and another officer have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, and the hospital has banned police from patient areas. Wubbels, 41, who was not charged, is considering legal action. “I stood my ground,” she said. “Any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
9-8-17 Lynchings are back in vogue
Lynchings are back in vogue
A Missouri lawmaker has called for the lynching of whoever threw paint on a Confederate statue. State Rep. Warren Love called for the unknown vandals to be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.” He later denied he was referencing the hanging murders of blacks in the South. “That’s just a Western term,” he said, “and I’m very much a Western man.”
9-8-17 Trump’s wiretap claim
Trump’s wiretap claim
The Justice Department conceded last week that it had no evidence to support President Trump’s unsubstantiated March tweets claiming that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. “Both FBI and [DOJ’s national security division] confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017, tweets,” the department said in a court filing submitted in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by American Oversight, a group advocating government transparency. Trump caused a furor when he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” At the time, an Obama spokesman called Trump’s allegations “simply false,” and then–FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers the bureau had “no information” to support the claim. (Webmaster's comment: We already knew this claim was more of Trump's bullshit!)
9-8-17 ‘Dreamers’: Will 800,000 young immigrants be deported?
‘Dreamers’: Will 800,000 young immigrants be deported?
“He’s really doing it,” said Ben Mathis-Lilley in Slate.com. After months of indecision, President Trump this week sent out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that had shielded nearly 800,000 children of illegal immigrants from deportation. Trump had once promised he would “show great heart” in dealing with these Dreamers, as they are called, and told them they could “rest easy.” Now he’s given Congress six months to either legalize DACA or kill it, leaving hundreds of thousands of young people—who came to the U.S. at the average age of 6—filled with fear and anxiety. What a callous betrayal, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. The Dreamers came to this country through no fault of their own, and DACA status was granted only to those who attended high school and passed criminal background checks. Fully 97 percent are either working or still in school, and the conservative Cato Institute estimates that deporting them would reduce U.S. economic growth by $280 billion over the next 10 years. But Trump is threatening to deport them anyway, “back to lands they barely know,” as a sop to his angry nativist supporters.
9-8-17 Texas judge blocks sanctuary cities ban
exas judge blocks sanctuary cities ban
A federal judge in San Antonio temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing a ban on “sanctuary cities” last week, dealing a blow to one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. The law, known as Senate Bill 4, would have threatened sheriffs with jail time for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities and allowed police to ask people during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S. legally. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared that the law was likely to be found unconstitutional, and would “erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe.” State officials vowed to appeal. “Because of this ruling,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, “gang members and dangerous criminals...will be set free to prey upon our communities.”
9-8-17 Banks: Wells Fargo admits to 1.4M more fake accounts
Banks: Wells Fargo admits to 1.4M more fake accounts
Wells Fargo’s sham accounts scandal is even worse than it originally appeared, said Renae Merle in The Washington Post. The bank said last week that it might have opened as many as 1.4 million more accounts without customers’ permission, 67 percent more than its initial estimates. The updated figures, now up to 3.5 million fake accounts, may still not even capture the entirety of the scandal. In its latest review, Wells Fargo examined data going back to 2009, rather than 2011, as it did initially. “Yet the bank has previously acknowledged that instances of unauthorized accounts have been found as far back as 2002.”
9-8-17 Poll watch
Americans are changing their tune on labor unions: 61% now approve of them. That’s up from 56% last year and 48% in 2009, and the highest approval for unions since 2003.
56% feel that President Trump is “tearing the country apart.” 33% believe that he is “drawing the country together.” Only 35% of Americans are “happy with how things are going in the country,” despite a fairly strong economy.
9-8-17 Gauri Lankesh was a brilliant and brave journalist. She was my friend. And they murdered her.
Gauri Lankesh was a brilliant and brave journalist. She was my friend. And they murdered her.
The rising forces of religious extremism, intolerance, and lawlessness in India inflicted a terrible casualty this week: They slayed my dear friend, Gauri Lankesh, the nation's bravest and fiercest journalist. If a country's moral health is to be judged by its capacity to handle dissenters and critics, then my birth land — and the world's most populous democracy — is in a truly dark place. Gauri was gunned down by unknown assailants outside her home in Bangalore, India's equivalent of Silicon Valley, as she stepped out of her car. Reports suggest that her assassins were lurking outside her driveway awaiting her return from work. They sprayed her small frame in a hail of bullets and sped away. Unfortunately, she is not the first Indian journalist to be murdered so gruesomely — or brazenly. It is not clear who was behind the attack, but at least three of her "spiritual" brothers who, like her, spoke out against the alarming growth of Hindu militancy and shrinking secularism have been likewise struck near their homes in the last few years. None of the murders have been solved, something that distressed Gauri to no end — not because she was overly concerned about her own safety (she always told me not to worry, "love and hugs!"), but the chilling effect such violence has on speech. (Webmaster's comment: The same is coming soon to America thanks to right-wing fascist thugs empowered by Trump anti-media rhetoric.)
9-8-17 Australians turn in 26,000 guns in national amnesty
Australians turn in 26,000 guns in national amnesty
Australians have handed in nearly 26,000 firearms in the nation's first gun amnesty since its landmark response to a mass shooting in 1996. The amnesty began on 1 July to help counter a growing terrorism threat and an influx of arms in the country. It is illegal to own an unregistered firearm in Australia. Those caught outside the amnesty period face fines of up to A$280,000 (£172,000, $225,000) and up to 14 years in jail. The current programme, running until 30 September, means Australians can surrender unregistered firearms and related items without fear of prosecution. Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the "great result" so far would make the nation safer. Police estimate there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia, with some used in organised crime as well as recent terror incidents. Mr Keenan cited the example of Man Haron Monis, the perpetrator of a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, who used an unregistered shotgun which had entered Australia in the 1950s. Australians turned in 643,726 firearms in 1996 and 1997 following the killing of 35 people in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur - the nation's worst and most recent mass shooting. he incident also led to a ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons in the country. (Webmaster's comment: Why cann't the United States do the same? Because of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white male supremacists!)
9-7-17 Can the US really nuke North Korea without starting a world war?
Can the US really nuke North Korea without starting a world war?
US defence officials are starting to signal a willingness to use nuclear weapons against North Korea on a limited scale. Unsurprisingly, that’s a bad idea. The test by North Korea this week of its biggest nuclear device yet has rattled more than the world’s seismographs. It now seems a paranoid dictator with an appalling human rights record owns the ultimate weapon. It is particularly concerning given that the explosion, 10 times the size of the country’s previous test, may well have been the nation’s first two-stage hydrogen bomb. Such a design can pulverise a city, and is easier, per kiloton, to fit onto a missile. Faced with this, some are suggesting that a pre-emptive strike would end the uncertainty and liberate the longsuffering North Koreans. US defence secretary James Mattis this week promised that “any threat to US territories (or) our allies will be met with a massive military response”. Responding to a “threat”, not just an actual attack, sounds pre-emptive. “We are not looking to the total annihilation of …North Korea, but we have many options to do so,” he added. That sounds nuclear. But on closer inspection, it doesn’t sound sensible. North Korea has developed its nuclear weapon to deter just such a massive attack by the US. That would be the one occasion it would be used by the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. If the US didn’t take out all North Korea’s nuclear weapons in a first strike – and given we don’t even know how many there are that could be difficult – its fear of nuclear attack could become self-fulfilling. (Webmaster's comment: If the United States uses nuclear weapons in a first strike against North Korea millions of innocents will die! We will forever be the most EVIL nation on earth!)
9-8-17 Negroponte: US strike on North Korea would 'wreak havoc'
Negroponte: US strike on North Korea would 'wreak havoc'
Any potential military strike by the US on North Korea would “wreak havoc” on the Korean peninsula, the former US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, has told BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur. The next people to suffer after any kind of attack on North Korea would be South Korea, said Mr Negroponte, explaining that the proximity of Seoul to the border means it is a “hostage” to North Korean weaponry. "It would just be some kind of a holocaust," said Mr Negroponte, adding that the "hostage-type situation" that exists on the peninsula is one of the fundamental conundrums of US policy towards Korea. “Political and diplomatic means of solving this must be found and that is the right approach,” he said.
9-7-17 The death rattle of the Trump evangelicals
The death rattle of the Trump evangelicals
e of the many fascinating results of the 2016 election was that despite his history of enthusiastic sinning and his transparently phony professions of faith, Donald Trump won 81 percent of the votes of white evangelical Christians, which no candidate had matched since the question has been asked in exit polls. There are multiple reasons why, but at their root lies a changing society that has many conservative Christians feeling threatened and outnumbered. Just how outnumbered? As a large new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows, a remarkable shift has taken place: White Christians are no longer a majority of Americans. If you're a millennial, that may not strike you as odd, since depending on where you live, you've probably grown up in a world where you took a good deal of diversity for granted. But if you're over 40 or so, it's positively earth-shaking. As the authors of the study note, in 1976, fully 81 percent of Americans identified as white and members of a Christian denomination. Today it's only 43 percent. That's the result of two things happening simultaneously. The first is that America's racial demographics are steadily evolving, with minority groups, particularly Hispanics, increasing their proportion of the population. In 1980 Hispanics were only 6.5 percent of the population, but today they're over 17 percent. At the same time, the population is becoming less religious. The group of religiously unaffiliated people — which includes atheists, agnostics, and those who say they don't belong to any particular faith — has been rapidly growing, and now encompasses a quarter of the population. Even more importantly, young people are much less religious in general and much less likely to identify as Christian than older people. Take a look at this striking chart:
9-7-17 Stephen Bannon rips the Catholic Church for 'needing illegal aliens' to fill the pews
Stephen Bannon rips the Catholic Church for 'needing illegal aliens' to fill the pews
There was no doubt that Stephen Bannon exited the White House last month with guns blazing, and the former adviser had no reservations skewering President Trump's Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) decision or the Catholic Church in an interview with 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose. Airing in full on Sunday, early clips from the interview aired on CBS This Morning on Thursday see Bannon dubbing himself a "street fighter" and pointedly threatening that "the guys on the far right" aren't happy with Trump's recent decision to "give the possibility of a legislative thing" to individuals known as DREAMers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. "May I remind you, a good Catholic, that Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan is opposed to what's happening with DACA," Rose challenged. Dolan has recently joined demonstrations in support of DACA, calling DREAMers "our people," and claiming that "to demonize them as threats or terrorists contradicts … the Bible, America, New York, and human decency." Bannon, though, dismissed the church entirely. "The Catholic Church has been terrible at this," he said. "The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why, because, unable to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens. They need illegal aliens to fill the churches … They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration."
9-7-17 Canada has quietly granted asylum to LGBT Chechens
Canada has quietly granted asylum to LGBT Chechens
Thirty-one gay and bisexual Chechen men and women have been granted asylum in Canada following a violent crackdown on LGTB people in the Russian republic. They are being brought to Canada as part of an under-the-radar collaboration between human rights groups and the federal government. In April, reports of abductions, detentions, disappearances, torture and deaths targeting gay and bisexual men in Chechnya began making international headlines. The Chechen government denied that security officials had launched an anti-gay purge, saying that gay men "simply don't exist in the republic". It was a claim repeated in July by authoritarian Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who denied in an interview there were gay men in Chechnya. He then told HBO reporter David Scott : "If there are any, take them to Canada". Rainbow Road executive director Kimahli Powell says "I had to chuckle when I heard that". By that time Rainbow Road, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that helps LGBT people escape persecution and violence around the world, was well into a clandestine effort to spirit gay and lesbian Chechens to Canada. The programme was kept secret until last week in order to assure the security of those they were assisting. Its full details remain vague and the Canadian government has only confirmed its role through unnamed sources.
9-6-17 The inhumanity and lies of Trump's DACA suspension
The inhumanity and lies of Trump's DACA suspension
ny of the promises President Trump made while on the campaign trail — to protect the federal welfare state, to drain D.C. of Wall Street influence — have unsurprisingly been exposed as empty vows. But when he mobilized white nationalism on his road to the presidency, Trump was telling the truth about how he'd act in office. The announcement Tuesday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be ended is but the latest example of the real consequences of Trump's hostility to immigration — and don't count on Congress to pass a fix anytime soon. DACA was implemented in 2012, via executive action by former President Barack Obama. It has allowed roughly 800,000 "DREAMers" — otherwise law-abiding young adults who were brought to the United States as unauthorized immigrants when they were children, and so named for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — to attain employment and education without immediate fear of deportation. But following Tuesday's announcement, the Trump administration will not accept any new applications for the DACA program, nor will it renew permits for people who have them once they expire. Trump appropriately delegated the announcement to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was confirmed in the role despite having once been rejected as a federal judge by the Senate because of his alleged racism. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump during the campaign, in large measure because of Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric, so it's not surprising that he was a strong voice within the administration for ending DACA.
9-6-17 Daca Dreamers: Harvey hero now faces deportation
Daca Dreamers: Harvey hero now faces deportation
Jesus Contreras helped rescue flood victims after Storm Harvey hit Texas. Now he faces deportation. (Webmaster's comment: It only matters that they ain't white. That's what this is really about.)
9-6-17 Egypt detainees subjected to 'assembly line' of torture - HRW
Egypt detainees subjected to 'assembly line' of torture - HRW
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has given a "green light" to security forces to routinely torture political detainees, Human Rights Watch says. Its new report alleges the interior ministry has developed an "assembly line" of abuse to collect information and prepare often fabricated cases. Officers beat suspects and use electrical shocks and stress positions with "almost total impunity", it says. The government has denied allegations of widespread and systematic torture. It has blamed abuses on individuals and said they are held accountable. The 63-page report released by Human Rights Watch on Wednesday says Mr Sisi, who led the military's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following protests against his rule, is pursuing political stability "at any cost". The alleged abuses, it concludes, probably amount to a crime against humanity. In the past four years, more than 1,000 protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces, at least 60,000 people are reported to have been arrested or charged, hundreds have been handed preliminary death sentences, and hundreds more have gone missing in apparent forced disappearances. (Webmaster's comment: In other words they were murdered by the police!)
9-5-17 How a nonbinding mail-in vote on marriage equality backfired in Australia
How a nonbinding mail-in vote on marriage equality backfired in Australia
Well that didn't go how conservatives had planned. If Australian conservatives thought young people would ignore a nonbinding postal survey on marriage equality, they were wrong. Under pressure from his party's vocal right wing, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Aug. 8 that a nonbinding plebiscite (or vote) of the nation's citizens will be held by mail to determine whether Australians support legalizing same-sex marriage. Notwithstanding that we already know the stance of most Australians on marriage equality — they support it, according to a number of recent polls — the option of a plebiscite had been strongly opposed by LGBT communities and marriage equality advocates. They'd pushed for a vote in Parliament that would have changed the marriage law. In early September, Australia's High Court will consider whether the planned plebiscite is unconstitutional. Critics say the postal survey is little more than an opinion poll — one designed to defer action on marriage equality and perhaps skew results in favor of older, more conservative respondents. Opponents of LGBT rights do seem emboldened by Turnbull's announcement. Laws against malicious and misleading campaign material that apply during elections and referenda do not apply in the case of a plebiscite, and some campaigners against same-sex marriage (largely members of hard-right and religious-fundamentalist groups) are virulent in their opposition, using imagery ranging from child theft to bestiality in their appeal to the public to vote "no." Many LGBT people have reported an uptick in homophobic and transphobic abuse and are expecting it only to get worse as campaigning grows in advance of the survey scheduled for counting after Nov. 7.
9-4-17 Imam in Storm Harvey fake news never visited Texas
Imam in Storm Harvey fake news never visited Texas
A man has reacted with surprise to seeing his photograph used in a fake story spread on social media that an Imam kept a mosque's doors closed to Storm Harvey victims. Ibrahim Hindy, a Canadian Imam from Toronto, identified himself in the photograph used in a story which claimed Imam "Aswat Turads" of "Ramashan mosque" near Houston refused to help flood victims and said "we are forbidden from helping infidels." Storm Harvey brought devastating floods and displaced thousands of people while many centres or volunteers offered shelter and assistance to victims. However, Mr Hindy claims he has never been to Texas and during the flooding he was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performing the Hajj pilgrimage. The story was published on 31 August on the website America's Last Line of Defense, which calls itself satirical. "[This] is a satirical publication that may sometimes appear to be telling the truth. We assure you that's not the case," it explains. It stated Ramashan mosque could have sheltered over 500 people but would not accept any non-Muslim people on the order of the Imam. Another story claimed flood refugees later stormed the mosque to find shelter. A picture of Ibrahim Hindy was used underneath the headline "Texas Mosque Refuses To Help Refugees: 'Allah Forbids Helping Infidels'". It appears to have been taken seriously by thousands of people and the site's story was shared more than 126,000 times. (Webmaster's comment: The Conservatives and Libertarians create another lie!)
9-4-17 Spiritual convictions and group identities inspire terrorist acts, study finds
Spiritual convictions and group identities inspire terrorist acts, study finds
Like the ISIS soldiers they battle against, Kurdish fighters such as these buy into sacred values and group identities that strengthen the will to fight and die for a cause, research suggests. Islamic militants and their fiercest opponents fight and die for intensely spiritual reasons, a new report finds. Islamic State (also known as ISIS) soldiers and Kurds who have fiercely battled them sacrifice themselves for sacred, nonnegotiable values, says a team led by anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. These soldiers’ will to fight also depends on identifying more closely with groups of like-minded comrades than with biological kin, the team reports September 4 in Nature Human Behavior. Atran’s findings, described in Science News last year, come from frontline interviews with ISIS fighters and members of groups fighting against them — Kurdistan’s army, Iraqi army Kurds and Arab Sunni militias. Online testing of people in Spain, where several terrorist attacks have recently occurred, found a general unwillingness to fight against ISIS. Spaniards also viewed ISIS as spiritually stronger and more dedicated to collective values than citizens of their own country are. Those results support Atran’s proposal that the fiercest fighters fuse their identities to groups with a common set of sacred values.
9-4-17 Daca: Trump 'to scrap' amnesty for young immigrants
Daca: Trump 'to scrap' amnesty for young immigrants
US President Donald Trump has decided to scrap a programme that protects young undocumented immigrants, according to reports. He will give Congress six months to draw up legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), sources quoted by US media say. The decision, first reported in Politico, is considered a compromise amid strong support for the scheme. However, the sources cautioned that Mr Trump could still change his mind. He is due to formally announce his decision on Tuesday. The Obama-era Daca programme protects hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" from deportation and provides work and study permits. According to Politico, the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president's decision on Sunday morning. Mr Ryan last week urged the president not to scrap the scheme, arguing it left many young people "in limbo". "These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don't know another home," he said. (Webmaster's comment: So much for America being a beacon of hope for the abused youth of the world. America is now going to abuse them!)
9-3-17 Mexico's Peña Nieto vows to defend 'national dignity'
Mexico's Peña Nieto vows to defend 'national dignity'
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto says he will not accept any proposal that goes against national dignity in its negotiations with the US. It was his first state of the union address since US President Trump came to power promising to build a wall on the border and make Mexico pay for it. Mr Peña Nieto's approval ratings have slumped amid concerns over drugs violence and the economy. He also defended the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Trump is an outspoken critic of the deal and initiated a renegotiation of the deal in May. Trade officials from Mexico, the US and Canada are currently holding talks in Mexico City to come up with more proposals. "The relationship with the new government of the United States, like any other nation, must be based on irrevocable principles - sovereignty, defence of the national interest and protection of our migrants," Mr Peña Nieto said in his annual address. "We will not accept anything that goes against our national dignity." (Webmaster's comment: Stand your ground. United States has bullied the world long enough!)
9-3-17 The Justice Department found no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower
The Justice Department found no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower
The Justice Department (DOJ) on Saturday announced its conclusion there is no evidence the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, as President Trump claimed on Twitter earlier this year. "Both FBI and [the DOJ's National Security Division] confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets," the DOJ reported. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory," Trump tweeted in March. "Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" While security experts note Trump Tower communications could have been swept up in foreign surveillance, the Senate Intelligence Committee in March came to the same conclusion as the DOJ. Fired FBI Director James Comey also denied Trump's claim. (Webmaster's comment: Trump lies for politcal gain just like he does for economic gain.)
9-3-17 ISS crew return to Earth
ISS crew return to Earth
The three-person crew of Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin have returned safely to Earth after 288 days in space. They were carrying out physiological and biological experiments aboard the International Space Station. (Webmaster's comment: And who provides rides for Americans to the ISS? The Russians have had to for the last 6 years because America can't do it.)
9-2-17 COP who arrested Utah nurse over blood sample put on leave
COP who arrested Utah nurse over blood sample put on leave
A US police officer who forcibly arrested a nurse for refusing to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient has been placed on administrative leave. An investigation is under way after footage of the incident at a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, emerged. It shows nurse Alex Wubbels screaming for help as she is manhandled outside and handcuffed. The hospital said she had correctly followed its policy. Blood can only be handed over without a patient's consent if they are under arrest or the police have a warrant - neither of which was the case in this incident, the University of Utah Hospital said. Salt Lake City Police Department said both the officer involved and another police department employee had been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. (Webmaster's comment: The COP should have been immediately placed under arrrest and put in jail! Enough of this administrative leave nonsense. The COPS are still protecting their own when they do crimes.)
9-2-17 Santiago Maldonado: Thousands march for missing activist
Santiago Maldonado: Thousands march for missing activist
Thousands of Argentines have marched in the capital Buenos Aires against the disappearance of a human rights activist in the Patagonia region. Santiago Maldonado, 28, went missing at an indigenous-rights demonstration in Patagonia a month ago. Human rights campaigners, union leaders and left-wing groups are calling on the government of Mauricio Macri to do more to find him. The rally was one of many protests in cities across Argentina. Witnesses say Mr Maldonado was last seen after being arrested at a protest for the rights of the Mapuche indigenous group in southern Argentina on 1 August. A community of Mapuche have been occupying land in the province of Chubut, claiming ancestral rights in a privately-owned area. On the day that Mr Maldonado disappeared, border police arrived to dismantle a roadblock that had been erected by protesters on Route 40, the main road crossing Argentina from north to south. Police deny detaining him. (Webmaster's comment: The govenment will never find him nor will anyone ever find him. He was obviously murdered by the police!)
9-2-17 Manslaughter charges dropped in fraternity hazing case
Manslaughter charges dropped in fraternity hazing case
A judge has dropped the most serious charges against members of a Pennsylvania State University fraternity implicated in the death of a student during an initiation. Timothy Piazza, 19, had been drinking heavily when he fell down basement stairs at a campus fraternity, which is a social club for young men. Involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges were all thrown out. Police had charged 18 men over their failure to seek medical attention. The students did not call an ambulance for nearly 12 hours after Mr Piazza suffered his injury. He died a day later of injuries including a fractured skull and damaged spleen. Surveillance cameras showed students slapping Mr Piazza and jumping on his unconscious body in order to wake him. (Webmaster's comment: If jumping on him damaged his spleen then the charge of involuntary manslaughter should stand!)
9-1-17 Donald Trump urged not to scrap Daca policy for young immigrants
Donald Trump urged not to scrap Daca policy for young immigrants
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has urged US President Donald Trump not to scrap an Obama-era programme that protects young undocumented immigrants. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme provides temporary residency for children brought to the US illegally. It protects hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" from deportation and provides work and study permits. Mr Trump had previously said that he planned to "terminate" the programme. The White House now says Mr Trump will announce his decision on Tuesday. Mr Ryan urged the president to allow Congress to "work" on the issue. He said that "conversations" had taken place "with the White House" and that Mr Trump also wanted to find "a humane solution to this problem". "There are people that are in limbo," Mr Ryan said, adding: "These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don't know another home." House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi said that she was "heartened" by Mr Ryan's comments and asked him to meet with Democratic lawmakers next week to discuss a "comprehensive legislative solution." (Webmaster's comment: Trump only cares about white males, their white female breeding stock and their white offspring. Don't expect him to care about dark-skinned children.)
9-1-17 Deer causes 'unbelievable' damage to Australia funeral home
Deer causes 'unbelievable' damage to Australia funeral home
An Australian funeral home has been left with "unbelievable" damage after a deer made it inside and ran around for 20 minutes, the business has said. The animal smashed a window before chasing a worker into the building in Melbourne on Thursday, according to managing director James MacLeod. Once inside, the deer damaged furniture and walls before staff managed to lock it in a room. Wildlife experts relocated the animal, which had been injured, police said. (Webmaster's comment: The devil made her do it! Ha!)
9-1-17 Antifa attack
About 100 masked members of the “antifa” movement attacked peaceful pro-Trump demonstrators last week in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. Garbed in black bandannas and hoodies, the anti-fascist group at first blended into a liberal-leaning crowd of about 2,000 people assembled for a “Rally Against Hate”—organized in response to a much smaller conservative protest, dubbed “No to Marxism in America.” The opposing demonstrations were peaceful for several hours until antifa protesters overran police barricades and descended on the right-wing marchers. In one incident, five antifa members furiously punched and kicked a conservative demonstrator, while others tossed water bottles and smoke bombs at police, resulting in 13 arrests. A number of left-leaning counterprotesters bemoaned the violence. “This is recruiting for the Right,” said one.
9-1-17 Florida’s execution of white supremacist
Florida’s execution of white supremacist
Florida’s execution of former white supremacist gang member Mark James Asay last week was the first time in modern history that the state has executed a white man for killing a black victim. Since Florida reinstated the death penalty in 1976, at least 18 black men have been executed for killing white victims there.
9-1-17 The heartland’s hatred of the media
The heartland’s hatred of the media
For most conservatives, said Rich Lowry, “the media has become what the Soviet Union was during the Cold War—a common, unifying adversary of overwhelming importance.” Donald Trump remains popular among Republicans largely because he’s “a righteous, unyielding warrior” against the primary enemy, which is not ISIS or the Taliban, but CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. “The Right’s hostility toward the media is long-standing,” and has deepened as the cultural divide between “the heartland” and the coasts has grown more pronounced. With his showman’s sense of what excites an audience, Trump made scorn of the media a centerpiece of his long-shot 2016 campaign, and “rode his mutual enmity with the media to the White House.” Many Republicans are willing to overlook the “indefensible things” Trump says as long as he stands up to the mob of “braying reporters” from New York and Washington. Trump’s constant attacks on them only lead to more negative coverage—perpetuating the cycle. This president may struggle to fulfill his campaign promises, but what counts most for his supporters is that he has “the right enemy.”
9-1-17 Transgender ban
Defense Secretary James Mattis said this week that he would establish a panel of experts to study how to implement a transgender military ban ordered by President Trump, effectively allowing transgender troops to remain for at least the next six months. The statement came days after Trump issued a formal directive—first announced in a series of surprise tweets in July—declaring that transgender service members will no longer be able to serve, reversing an Obama administration policy. Trump’s order directed Mattis to deliver recommendations on how to carry out the ban by Feb. 21, 2018. It also ordered the military to halt spending on sex-reassignment surgeries, but it gave Mattis some discretion in determining the status of active transgender troops, possibly opening the door for some to remain. Human rights groups have already begun to challenge the ban in federal court. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in Maryland this week on behalf of six transgender service members.
9-1-17 We won’t pay
We won’t pay
In response to tweets from President Trump, Mexico has reiterated that it will not pay to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. In one tweet, Trump falsely called Mexico “one of the highest crime nations in the world” and said it would pay for the wall “through reimbursement/other”; in another he threatened to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement because Mexico and Canada were “being very difficult” in the renegotiation process. The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said it would not pay for the wall “under any circumstances,” but did offer aid to Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, “as good neighbors should always do in trying times.” After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mexico sent 200 troops to Louisiana to help distribute emergency supplies.
9-1-17 Trump lifts ban on military gear for police
Trump lifts ban on military gear for police
The Trump administration this week revived a program that provides local police departments with surplus military gear, reversing an Obama-era order banning the transfers. President Obama had prohibited the transfer of armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and high-caliber weapons to local law enforcement in 2015, after clashes between police and residents in Ferguson, Mo., arguing that militarized gear gave cops the air of an “occupying force.” But Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the decision to restore the transfers, citing a rise in violent crime. The National Fraternal Order of Police hailed the move; civil rights groups said the Obama-era restrictions were critical to rebuilding trust between police and minorities. (Webmaster's comment: What they need is Hellfire Drones so they can kill anyone anywhere for any reason and claim it was a computer mistake.)
9-1-17 US police dashcam: 'We only kill black people'
US police dashcam: 'We only kill black people'
An officer in the US was caught making the comments after pulling a women over in Georgia in July 2016. (Webmaster's comment: Suspicions confirmed. It's really obvious this is a widely held view.)
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Atheism News & Humanism Articles for August 2017