53 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for January 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
1-14-18 Hawaii missile false alarm triggers shock, blame and apologies
Residents and visitors in Hawaii have been recalling the shock of a false missile alarm, with many saying they thought they were going to die. The alert of an incoming ballistic missile was sent wrongly on Saturday morning by an emergency system worker. Victims of the ordeal spoke of hysteria and panicked evacuations. The false alarm sparked recriminations, with state officials apologising and President Donald Trump's response called into question. It was a mistake by an employee at Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) who "pushed the wrong button" during procedures that occur during the handover of a shift. The message was reportedly sent despite an onscreen prompt requesting confirmation. Mobile phone users received the message at 08:07 (18:07 GMT): "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." The alert was corrected by email 18 minutes later but there was no follow-up mobile text for 38 minutes, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. The alert system is in place because of the potential proximity of Hawaii to North Korean missiles. (Webmaster's comment: The scary thing is that the world's biggest nuclear power, with a military and a president just itching to go to war, makes a mistake that could have easily escalated into a nuclear attack on an innocent country and the deaths of ten's of millions.)
1-12-18 Donald Trump must apologise for comments - African Union
The organisation representing African countries has demanded that US President Donald Trump apologise after he reportedly called nations on the continent "shitholes". The African Union mission in Washington DC expressed its "shock, dismay and outrage" and said the Trump administration misunderstood Africans. The US leader made the alleged remark in a Thursday meeting on immigration. But Mr Trump has denied using the language reported. He has been backed by two Republicans who were at the White House meeting, but Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said Mr Trump called African countries "shitholes" several times and used "racist" language. On Friday, Mr Trump on Friday tweeted that his language he used at the private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation had been "tough". But he added that the words attributed to him were "not the language used". It said the "remarks dishonour the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity". It added: "While expressing our shock, dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current Administration. "There is a serious need for dialogue between the US Administration and the African countries." (Webmaster's comment: All African nations should boycott the "shithole" that America has become.)
1-12-18 Trump's ambassador to Netherlands finally admits 'no-go zone' claims
Pete Hoekstra, the new US ambassador to the Netherlands, has admitted claiming in 2015 that Muslim youths had created so-called "no-go" zones in the country and were burning politicians. Mr Hoekstra, a Republican congressman appointed to the envoy's job by Donald Trump, last month denied making the claims, calling them "fake news", despite being shown video evidence. Confronted by Dutch journalists at a disastrous first press conference on Wednesday, he refused to answer questions about his comments. On Friday Mr Hoekstra finally admitted to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he had made the remarks, to a right wing gathering in the US, and said he was "shocked" by them. "That was a wrong statement. That was just wrong," Mr Hoekstra said, adding that it was "clearly that was an inaccurate statement". "That one shocked me personally ... because while you know there have been other issues in other countries in Europe, you know that has never been the circumstances here," he said. (Webmaster's comment: Another Republican caught in another lie. The United States has become a nation filled with evil!)
1-12-18 US ambassador to Panama says he cannot serve Trump
The US ambassador to Panama has quit because he says he is no longer able to serve under President Donald Trump. John Feeley, a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, said he was "honour-bound" to resign. The US Department of State, which oversees American diplomats, learned of his resignation in late December. It was not a direct response to Mr Trump's alleged use of the term "shithole" to describe Haiti and African countries. "As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies," Mr Feeley said in his resignation letter. "My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come." Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein confirmed he was aware of Mr Feeley's planned departure ahead of the president's alleged remarks on Thursday. He said the ambassador, a career diplomat who spent most of his life working on Latin American issues, was leaving for "personal reasons". Some of Mr Trump's policies have caused uproar in the region, including most recently his decision to remove residency permits for thousands of Salvadorean, Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants living in the US after natural disasters. Mr Feeley is not the first State Department official to leave their post. Elizabeth Shackelford, who worked in Nairobi for the US mission to Somalia, resigned in December. She wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that she was quitting because the US had abandoned human rights as a priority, according to Foreign Policy. (Webmaster's comment: No person with a moral conscience can serve this president or his administration.)
1-12-18 Toronto police investigate 'scissor attack' on girl's hijab
Canadian police are investigating a possible hate crime after a man tried to cut the hijab off a young girl. Khawlah Noman, 11, was walking to school with her brother in Toronto when they said a man came up behind her with scissors. Miss Noman said she screamed and her assailant ran, only to return, pull off her hood and cut her hijab. Police describe the attacker as Asian, 20-30 years old, between 5ft 7in and 5ft 8in, with a thin build. The siblings said he had black hair with straight bangs to the eyebrows, a thin moustache and black prescription glasses. He was described as wearing a black hooded sweater with the hood up, black pants and brown gloves. Khawlah sent a message to her attacker during a press conference on Friday at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School. "What you're doing is really wrong," the girl said, "you should not act like this, and especially, I'm a kid." Khawlah said that she is now "actually really scared" to walk to school. strong>Khawlah's mother told media the attack was "just not Canada." (Webmaster's comment: But it is American! Attacking Muslim women and children is the safe thing for American white supremacist males to do. They are physically much weaker than the males attacking them.)
1-12-18 Trump denies crude slur against migrant countries
US President Donald Trump has denied using crude words attributed to him about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. Reports that he had called them "shithole countries" in an Oval Office meeting generated a backlash worldwide. But Mr Trump has tweeted that "this was not the language" he used in a meeting about immigration. However Democratic Senator Dick Durban said he heard Mr Trump use "vile, racist" language. The Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico and the Wall Street Journal all reported the comments on Thursday, quoting witnesses or people briefed on the meeting. The White House did not deny them. While denying the specific comments on Friday, Mr Trump admitted to using "tough" language. Mr Trump's reported remark came as both Republican and Democratic lawmakers visited him on Thursday to propose a deal on immigration. Mr Trump was said to have told them that instead of granting temporary residency to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, the US should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" the Washington Post quoted him as saying. He was also reported to have said: "Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out." But in another tweet on Friday the president denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians". Another black lawmaker, Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, said the comments were "further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda".(Webmaster's comment: As I have already said!)
1-12-18 Voter fraud: Why Trump’s commission died
Ding, dong, the White House’s “election integrity” commission is dead, said Miles Rapoport in The American Prospect. With a tweet, President Trump last week abruptly shut down the sham commission, created to justify Trump’s “ludicrous claim” that he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. The commission was ostensibly a fair-minded investigation into voter fraud but was nothing more than “a Trojan horse for a voter-suppression agenda.” Its co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, had spent his career trying, and failing, to prove that voter fraud is epidemic; he called for strict federal voter identification laws before the commission was even created. Luckily, both Republican and Democratic election officials saw through the charade, with 44 states refusing to comply with some or all of commission’s sweeping demands for information on voters, such as their Social Security numbers. The secretive commission was also buried in a “blizzard” of lawsuits, crippling its work out the gate.
1-12-18 Voting map rejected
North Carolina must redraw its congressional map after federal judges ruled this week that it was drawn specifically to advantage Republicans—the first time a federal court has thrown out a congressional map for partisan gerrymandering. The three-judge panel gave the state’s Republican-dominated General Assembly until Jan. 24 to come up with a replacement map for the 2018 midterm elections. In a blistering 191-page opinion, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. wrote that the state legislature was “motivated by invidious partisan intent” in creating the map, with GOP leaders specifically instructing consultants to draw districts to minimize Democratic seats. Voting in the state has been split in recent statewide elections—Trump and a Democratic governor were elected on the same day in 2016—but Republicans currently hold 10 of the swing state’s 13 seats in the House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers vowed to appeal.
1-12-18 Salvadorans must go
Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been living and working in the U.S. for almost two decades will have to leave the country by next year, after the Trump administration announced this week it is ending the humanitarian program that gave them legal status. The U.S. government granted Salvadorans temporary protected status in March 2001 after two earthquakes devastated the country. The program was extended multiple times under both President Bush and President Obama, because of extreme poverty and gang violence in El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security now says that conditions have improved enough since the earthquakes for people to return home. Salvadorans who have put down roots in the U.S. must decide whether to leave the country by September 2019 or risk deportation. Salvadorans living in the U.S. with protected status have 192,700 children who are U.S. citizens, 88 percent have jobs, and nearly one-quarter own a home here.
1-12-18 DACA drama
A federal judge this week ordered the Trump administration to maintain protections for 800,000 “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, potentially upending negotiations in Congress over their fate. San Francisco–based Judge William Alsup ruled that the White House must continue to allow Dreamers to renew their deportation protections and work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while courts hear lawsuits challenging President Trump’s decision to end the program. The decision came the same day Trump presided over rare televised talks on DACA with members of Congress, designed to showcase the president’s leadership skills in response to questions about his fitness for office. Trump appeared to flip back and forth during the negotiations, alternately saying he would approve any bill to protect Dreamers and demanding that border wall funding be part of an agreement.
1-12-18 The phallic subtext of nuclear war
When President Trump tweeted that his nuclear button was “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s, said Carol Cohn, the “penis-measuring” subtext was laughably obvious. But as tempting as it is to dismiss the juvenile boasting as just another norm broken by a “president like no other,” the reality is that nuclear strategic thinking has always been laced with a dangerous hypermasculinity. When I worked with war planners early in my career, I was struck by “how removed they were from the human realities” of nuclear weapons. To make the deliberate incineration of millions of people more abstract, they hid behind “euphemistic language” laden with sexual metaphors: from “vertical erector launchers” to “thrust-to-weight ratios” to “soft lay downs” to “deep penetration.” One military adviser talked about “releasing 70 to 80 percent of our megatonnage in one orgasmic whump.” In this nearly all-male world, war planners casually discussed accepting 30 million casualties, and mocked “sissy” politicians for not having “the stones for war.” Trump’s fear of “being perceived as unmanly” appears particularly deep. But among nuclear strategists, his macho worldview is the norm, not the exception. That makes the unthinkable a bit more likely.
1-12-18 Sessions targets legal marijuana
Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw the burgeoning legal marijuana market into turmoil last week by empowering U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal laws against pot in states where the drug has been legalized. Sessions, a fierce opponent of legalizing weed, announced he was scrapping an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from filing charges in some states because marijuana activity “is a serious crime” and the hands-off approach “undermines the rule of law.” Now it will be up to each of the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively they want to pursue weed cases. Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The announcement sparked a bipartisan backlash from lawmakers in states that have legalized marijuana. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow the use of pot for medical purposes; eight states have legalized recreational sales. Altogether, the legal weed market is expected to reach $9 billion by the end of this year, with some 4,500 medical and recreational shops across the country. But Sessions’ move could slow the industry’s growth if investors become leery of the shifting legal terrain. “It’s a really scary time for us,” said Jaime Lewis, who owns a Denver-based marijuana edibles company.
1-12-18 Legalizing marijuana
61% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, up from 57% last year and 31% in 2000. 70% of Millennials, 66% of Gen Xers, and 56% of Baby Boomers approve of legalizing marijuana. 58% of those older than 75 oppose legalization.
A Kansas lawmaker who opposes legal marijuana claims the drug has a bad effect on black people. Republican state Rep. Steve Alford told a town-hall meeting that marijuana was originally banned because African-Americans “responded the worst” to cannabis, owing to their “character makeup, their genetics.” Alford later apologized.
1-11-18 US ambassador still can't answer Netherlands' questions
'This is the Netherlands. You have to answer questions.' The new US ambassador was hoping for a fresh start. Instead he faced a grilling by the Dutch press. (Webmaster's comment: Watch this lying, racist, United States ambassador to the Netherlands squirm.)
1-11-18 Trump to let states require employment for Medicaid
The Trump administration has issued new guidance that would allow states to impose work requirements on low-income healthcare recipients. Able-bodied recipients of the Medicaid health programme for the poor would be required to work, volunteer or prepare for a job through school or training. Critics argue that the move is aimed at cutting the number of people receiving government-funded Medicaid. The administration contends the policy is to promote "community engagement". "This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty," said Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today's announcement is a step in that direction," she added. She said the new policy came about at the request of 10 different states including Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana and Utah. (Webmaster's comment: It's pretty simple. Work or die!)
1-11-18 Hospital apologises for 'dumping' gowned patient in cold
Imamu Baraka filmed the moment a patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center was escorted out of hospital in only a gown. Temperatures that night were close to freezing. The hospital issued an apology and is investigating the incident. (Webmaster's comment: Throw them out into the street in their hospital gowns if they can't pay.)
1-11-18 There's a science to saving money
We'd all like to have more money. (That stuff is really useful, ain't it?). Being worried about makin' the bacon can end your marriage, skyrocket your blood pressure, and even cause your brain to malfunction. From Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter: Money is the top reason for divorce and the number one cause of stress in Americans. People are demonstrably worse at all kinds of problem solving when they have money problems on their mind. Thing is, we all make dumb money mistakes, many of which we're not even aware of. And a lot of those are due to quirks of human psychology. Luckily, Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, has a book out that explains some of the problems we're prone to when it comes to moolah and what we can do about them. The book is Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter. Let's look at some of what Dan has to say and see how we can save some shekels…
- "On Sale" signs are the devil: "Relative comparisons" mess with your head. Focus on the end price, not how good a "deal" it is.
- It's not a "bonus." Money is money: How you got the cash should not affect how you spend it. Saying that "bonus" money doesn't count feels good but being broke feels very very bad.
- Use cash more often: Make spending painful and you'll spend less. (Using cash is simpler than having a friend punch you in the face whenever you whip out your credit card.)
- "Fair" is a four-letter word: Focus on value. The plight of moral justice in the economic universe can wait until after the electrician gets your lights back on.
- Try a "Ulysses Contract": Send me the deed to your house. If you don't have more money in your savings account two months from now, I keep the deed. See? Saving is easy.
- Drop anchor: The only way to not be influenced by prices is to influence yourself ahead of time with other prices.
1-11-18 The nude pool party making waves in Canada
Thousands have signed an online petition calling for a sold-out pool party in a Canadian leisure centre to be halted. Why? Because it's a naked party which has been advertised as "all ages". The signatories are concerned that any children in attendance could be in danger. But the organisers of the event in Calgary say the petition shows a compete misunderstanding of nudist culture. The change.org petition has attracted more than 18,000 signatures, expressing concern about the event due to take place on 14 January at the Southland Leisure Centre. It calls for the event to be cancelled or made "age appropriate" - in other words, for children to be banned. The publicity has caused the City of Calgary, which runs the leisure centre, to think twice about allowing the event to take place. he event has been organised by a local naturist group, Calgary Nude Recreation. It has been advertised on the organisation's official Facebook page as well as on social media community site Meetup. It's listed as sold out and more than 180 people have indicated on social media that they plan to attend. On their website, Calgary Nude Recreation describe themselves as being a "family friendly" group and state that they hope to make to the party a monthly event. The site describes the organisation as "A group for like-minded people who enjoy being in their birthday suit! This group is family oriented and kid friendly and open to people of all ages, body types, all genders, sexual orientations, and anyone else in between." "The suggestions that it's not appropriate for kids implies there is something happening at nude events that isn't appropriate for children. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said in an email. "This is a non-sexual event. Nudity does not equal sex." The description reads: "There's an upcoming event in Calgary that really concerns some people, who are apparently unaware that they have genitals under their clothes." (Webmaster's comment: Nudist's have been meeting together along with their children for over 80 years. The only problem has been with the religious prudes who want to ban nudity. There have been virtually no reports of child sex abuse in these groups. Child sex abuse mostly happens within families and with their relatives and in secret at night in their homes.)
1-11-18 EU top court told same-sex spouses have residence rights
A senior adviser to the European Union's top court has backed a Romanian gay man's right to have his US husband live with him in Romania. EU countries should recognise the right of all spouses to residency even if they do not allow gay marriage, according to the advocate general for the European Court of Justice. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Romania. Adrian Coman and Clai Hamilton, an American, married in Brussels in 2010. EU law permits a non-EU spouse of an EU citizen to join his or her spouse in the member state where the European national resides. But the Romanian authorities refused a request for a residence permit for Mr Hamilton, saying he could not be recognised as the spouse of an EU citizen because Romanian legislation prohibits marriages between same-sex couples. The couple challenged the decision, saying it was discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation. Romania's constitutional court then referred the case to the European court (ECJ). ECJ Advocate General Melchior Wathelet said the term "spouse" included, under the freedom of residence of EU citizens and their family members, spouses of the same sex. "Although member states are free to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex or not, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his or her spouse of the same sex, a national of a non-EU country, a right of permanent residence in their territory," he said.
1-10-18 Trump blasts courts after Daca Dreamers ruling
President Donald Trump has criticised the US courts after a judge blocked him from ending protection for migrants who entered the US illegally as children. Mr Trump said the court system was "broken and unfair". In September, he rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), but San Francisco Judge William Alsup said it had to stay while litigation against Mr Trump's move continued. The Obama-era scheme protects some 800,000 people. It also provides temporary permits for work and study. Mr Trump attacked the ruling on Twitter: "The opposing side in a case (such as Daca) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts." Judge Alsup's court is the District Court for the Northern District of California. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals commonly examines appeals of rulings made in Judge Alsup's court and others. Earlier, White House press spokeswoman Sarah Sanders described the ruling as "outrageous". (Webmaster's comment: The real horror is that Trump is replacing the judges with judges that will side with him. This is exactly what Hitler did!)
1-10-18 Judge blocks Trump's move to end Daca Dreamers scheme
A US judge has blocked attempts by the White House to end a programme barring the deportation of children brought illegally to the US by parents. In September, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme. But San Francisco's Judge William Alsup ruled it must stay in place while litigation against the move continues. The Obama-era scheme protects some 800,000 people, and also provides temporary permits for work and study. In his ruling, Judge Alsup stated that "the government is hereby ordered and enjoined, pending final judgment herein or other order, to maintain the Daca programme on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission". He said the justice department's argument that the scheme was illegal was based on a "flawed legal premise". The district judge ordered the government to process renewal applications from people who had previously been covered. However, this would not be the case for those who had never before received protection under the programme.
1-10-18 Giuliana Farfalla: German Playboy cover to have transgender model
The German edition of Playboy magazine will feature a transgender model on its cover for the first time. Giuliana Farfalla, 21, will be topless, a tradition for such magazines in Germany. She is well-known after featuring in a reality TV series. Editor-in-chief Florian Boitin said Farfalla was a "beautiful example of how important the fight for the right to self-determination is". US Playboy featured a transgender model in its centrefold spot last year. Farfalla, born Pascal Radermacher in the south-western German city of Breisgau, said that early in her childhood she felt she was in the wrong body. She underwent gender reassignment surgery at the age of 16. On Instagram, Farfalla said she was "super proud" of the magazine, which will be available on newsstands on Thursday. Last year, she was a participant in the television series Germany's Next Top Model. Farfalla said she hoped the experience would encourage other transgender and transsexual people. Having Farfalla on Playboy's cover, Boitin added, was in line with magazine creator Hugh Hefner's tradition of being "resolutely opposed [to] any form of exclusion and intolerance". French model Ines Rau made history last year by becoming Playboy's first transgender Playmate.
1-9-18 Trump gives 200,000 Salvadoreans deadline to leave US
Donald Trump's administration has decided to cancel permits that allow nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador to live and work in the US. They were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after earthquakes rocked the Central American country in 2001. Salvadoreans now have until 9 September 2019 to leave or face deportation, unless they find a legal way to stay. The Trump administration has already removed TPS protection from tens of thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans. Protections for Salvadoreans were set to expire on Monday, after nearly two decades of holding the humanitarian status due to the impact of the natural disaster that killed more than 1,000 people. The latest announcement comes four months after the government said it planned to scrap an Obama-era scheme, Daca (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), that protected young undocumented immigrants, mostly Latin Americans, from deportation. Lawmakers in Congress have been given until March to decide on the fate of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers affected by the Daca decision. (Webmaster's comment: Getting rid of the non-whites one Trump ruling at a time. Making America White Again!)
1-9-18 Don't make the poor work for health care
Trump's next policy push is an ill-considered conservative fixation that will hurt the needy. e Trump administration just won't learn its lesson. Fresh off some of the most detested policymaking in American history, the White House is about to turn to another unpopular conservative obsession: Work requirements. Republicans have long argued that too many able-bodied adults are getting a free ride from the government. During the Obama years, they took specific issue with the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, the government program that provides health coverage to the poor, which they said benefited lots of adults who should have been working in exchange for help. Indeed, since Medicaid is jointly administered by the federal and state governments, states can apply for waivers to impose work requirements on the program. Nine states did, but the Obama administration always turned them down. But the Trump White House is changing course. It is reportedly finalizing guidelines for what circumstances under which they'll approve the waivers — and will quite likely announce a batch of approvals soon as well. Let's not mince words: This is a stupid and terrible policy decision. How stupid and terrible? Let's count the ways:
- A sizable majority of able-bodied adults on Medicaid already work.
- There aren't enough jobs.
- It will undercut wage growth.
- It will result in an underfunded and capricious bureaucracy.
- What about the idle rich?
(Webmaster's comment: Making the old and the sick work for minimum wages to pay for their medical care. What a nasty, hafeful, uncharitable idea!)
1-9-18 Fire and Fury: More bombshell claims from the Trump book
Donald Trump called James Comey a rat before firing him, was confused by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and trusts women more than men, according to a controversial, new book. Journalist Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also claims the president prefers to call his billionaire friends late at night. Mr Trump contends he never spoke to Wolff, dismissing his book as "full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist". But the author has stood by his account, insisting he had access and that he believes the president has no credibility. Here are 10 more explosive revelations from Wolff's purported inside portrait of the Trump White House.
- Trump doesn't know what the KKK believes in anymore
- Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were terrified by then FBI director James Comey
- Trump boasted about engineering a coup in Saudi Arabia
- Trump trusts women more than men
- Bannon tried to banish McMaster to Afghanistan
- Trump declined to nominate John Bolton because of his moustache
- Trump eats McDonald's because he's afraid of being poisoned
- The president asked for locks on his bedroom door
- Trump learned of chemical attacks in Syria from a PowerPoint presentation made by Ivanka
- The president's senior aides question his intelligence
(Webmaster's comment: More news from the nut house!)
1-7-18 Weed wars: California county fights illegal marijuana
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced prosecutors are prepared to challenge states that have legalised cannabis. But in some, like California, the battle over its production is raging on.
1-5-18 Clinton Foundation investigated by Justice Department
The US Justice Department has opened a new inquiry into the Clinton family's non-profit organisation, the Clinton Foundation, US media report. The Attorney General and FBI will reportedly investigate claims Hillary Clinton engaged in so-called "pay-to-play" politics for donations. Mrs Clinton's spokesman on Friday labelled the inquiry a "sham". He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions was doing President Trump's bidding to distract from the Russia probe. The FBI has been quietly investigating the Clinton Foundation for months, according to people familiar with the inquiry, US media report. The investigation is reportedly being led by FBI agents from Little Rock, Arkansas, where the foundation was founded. They have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, reports the Hill, a Washington DC political news outlet. Agents are said to be looking into whether policy favours were traded for unspecified donations to the foundation while Mrs Clinton was secretary of state. But figures within the Justice Department and FBI doubt any charges will be brought, the Washington Post reports. (Webmaster's comment: Trump and Jeff Sessions are now using the justice department for politcal vengence! The rule of law is being corrupted!)
In an impromptu half-hour interview President Trump gave to The New York Times on Dec. 28, he made 24 false, misleading, or dubious claims—a rate of one every 75 seconds. Among them: “I am the one that saved coal” and “I think it’s been proven there is no collusion.” In 2017, fact-checkers found, Trump made 1,950 false or misleading claims.
1-5-18 Why do US evangelicals support Trump's Jerusalem policy?
US Vice-President Mike Pence's trip to Israel has been postponed, amid Palestinian protests against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But why does the move remain popular with evangelical Christians in the US? The Reverend Johnnie Moore, a 34-year-old evangelical Christian, is closer than most to President Trump. During the election campaign, he was co-chair of Mr Trump's evangelical advisory board. He has met the president and his team "several times" - most recently last month - and speaks to the White House regularly. In July, he even posted this picture of the president at prayer. So he seems a good person to ask. When Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, did American evangelicals support him for Biblical reasons, as has been reported? Because of a belief in the Battle of Armageddon? The End Times? The second coming of Jesus Christ, and a thousand years of peace?
1-5-18 ‘Swatting’ death
Police in Wichita shot an unarmed man to death at his home last week while responding to a false report of a hostage situation phoned in by a prank caller in Los Angeles. Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two, was shot after he went outside to investigate suspicious noises, only to find his home surrounded by officers ordering him to put his hands up. An officer opened fire when Finch didn’t immediately comply, believing that he was reaching for a weapon. It’s believed to be the first fatal incident of “swatting,” in which hoaxers report false crimes in hopes of getting a SWAT team deployed to someone’s house. Some reports have suggested a dispute in the online video game Call of Duty was behind the hoax, with one player falsely listing Finch’s address as his own. Tyler Barriss, 25, who was arrested in California for making the prank call, has served jail time for false bomb threats.
1-5-18 Latin America’s rising tide of authoritarianism
Democracy had a lousy year in Latin America, said José Fernández Santillán. In May, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro “consolidated his dictatorship” by sweeping aside the elected, opposition-controlled legislature in favor of his handpicked Constituent Assembly. He calls it “communal power” in “a poor echo of the Soviets.” Bolivian President Evo Morales, meanwhile, spent his year trying to secure an unconstitutional fourth term in office. After he organized, and lost, a referendum on the matter in February 2016, Morales took the fight to Bolivia’s pliant Constitutional Court. This November, it ruled that term limits violate office-holders’ human rights. He’ll stand for a fourth term in 2019. In Honduras, President Juan Orlando Hernández had his crony-stuffed Supreme Court declare that he could ignore the single-term limit and run for re-election. After the country’s November election, authorities took weeks to count votes, leading many to believe the government was stuffing ballot boxes. Hernández has been declared the winner, but regional leaders are calling for a new election. The one bright spot was Chile, where former President Sebastián Piñera won a December election. His defeated opponent promptly congratulated him, and current President Michelle Bachelet invited him to her office for an orderly transition. We can only hope that 2018 brings us more examples of such “republican civility and respect for institutions and laws.”
1-5-18 Poland: A showdown with the EU
Democracy is in retreat in Poland, said Adam Szostkiewicz in Polityka (Poland). Less than three decades after we threw off the yoke of Communist rule, Poland again faces the possibility of a single party wielding total power over all aspects of the state—including the judiciary. The ruling Law and Justice party appears to share the Communists’ belief that “judges should serve the party and be controlled by the authorities.” Sweeping legislation passed last month will force the retirement of all Supreme Court justices ages 65 and over—a criterion met by nearly half of the court’s 86 judges, including its president, Malgorzata Gersdorf, an outspoken critic of the government. The Law and Justice–dominated legislature will then pick their replacements. It’s just the latest in a series of “authoritarian attacks on civil rights and freedoms” by this government. A TV network, for example, was recently fined for covering an opposition protest. Is democracy dying here? Or is it already dead? This judicial takeover represents an existential crisis for the European Union—one far worse than Brexit, said Bernd Riegert in Germany’s DW.com. Unlike the U.K., Poland doesn’t want to leave the union. Instead it wants to flout the bloc’s founding values—such as respect for the rule of law—while reaping the benefits of membership. And Poland’s close allies Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic want the same thing; they just haven’t gone as far yet. This year will be a turning point for the 28-nation union. If the bloc lets the nationalists get away with such flagrant rule breaking, “the EU in its present form will be at an end.”
1-5-18 Tweeting hate
The deputy leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was being investigated by prosecutors for possible incitement to hatred this week after posting anti-Muslim messages on social media. Angry that state police had issued a New Year’s greeting in Arabic as well as French, English, and German, Beatrix von Storch tweeted, “What the hell is wrong with this country?” and asked whether police wanted “to appease the barbaric, rapist hordes of Muslim men?” Twitter took down her post and a similar one by another AfD lawmaker, and suspended von Storch’s account. Her message referred to New Year’s Eve 2015, when there were mass sexual assaults in Cologne and other cities, allegedly by groups of Muslim men. The AfD is the third-largest party in the parliament.
1-5-18 Legal weed
California’s law permitting sales of recreational marijuana went into effect this week, making the state the sixth to legalize pot and creating the nation’s largest legal marijuana marketplace. Eager buyers lined up in the early hours of Jan. 1 outside dispensaries in cities, including San Diego and Berkeley, that have embraced the voters’ decision last year to legalize pot sales for adults over 21. But it could be some time before legal weed becomes widely available throughout the state, with pot sellers facing substantial bureaucratic hurdles as the state refines how to regulate sales. Many municipalities have yet to finalize their own rules for marijuana businesses, and others have banned sales outright. The new law is expected to generate at least $1 billion a year in tax revenue for the state. More than 1 in 5 Americans now live in a state where they can legally buy recreational marijuana.
1-5-18 Marijuana legalization is the next great winning issue for Democrats
Ditch the antiquated drug warrior nonsense and light up. Marijuana is under attack. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending former President Barack Obama's policy of allowing states to experiment with their own legal marijuana proposals. Instead, the issue will be left up to local U.S. attorneys, most of whom have been appointed by President Trump. At least some of the state-level experiments in fully legalized marijuana are at risk of going up in flames. Sessions is a longtime opponent of marijuana, so no one should really be surprised that he's going after legal pot. Still, it's a terrible new policy — and it opens up a big, easy opportunity for Democrats, who must ditch their antiquated drug warrior baggage and join Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in getting behind legal marijuana immediately. For one thing, legal marijuana is extremely popular, and getting more so by the minute. Gallup's poll shows support for legalization increasing from 40 percent in 2008 to 64 percent as of October 2017. It's also an excellent issue for driving youth turnout — support has increased among all age cohorts, but especially among millennials, 71 percent of whom supported legalization in October 2016.
1-4-18 How the Dead Sea Scrolls survived a war in the 1960s
Excerpt from the January 20, 1968 issue of Science News. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, rumored lost or damaged during the June war between Israel and Egypt, are safe, according to Antiquity…. On the eve of the war they were packed up and put safely in a strong room in the basement of the Palestine Archaeological Museum (Rockefeller Museum), according to a reliable authority. — Science News, January 20, 1968. The Dead Sea Scrolls made news again in 2017 when archaeologists announced the discovery of a cave with new evidence of scrolls. The cave, close to the original 11 caves that housed scrolls near Qumran in the West Bank, held several broken jars and linen like that used to wrap the scrolls. The pottery dates to roughly 2,200 years ago and is typical of the kind used to store scrolls. One large jar still held a blank fragment of hide, possibly intended to be written on. Two rusty pickaxes located near that jar suggest looters took scrolls from the cave several decades ago.
1-4-18 Trump Bannon row: 11 explosive claims from new book
Donald Trump was "befuddled" by his election win, did not enjoy his inauguration and was scared of the White House, according to a new book. Journalist Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also purports to lift the lid on Ivanka Trump's secret presidential ambitions. The book details Mr Trump's regard for media titan Rupert Murdoch, though the admiration was apparently not mutual. The White House said the book was full of "false and misleading accounts". Michael Wolff says his work is based on more than 200 interviews and that he took up "something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing" following the president's inauguration for a close-up insight into the fledgling administration. Here are 11 of the book's revelations, with commentary from the BBC's Anthony Zurcher.
- Bannon thought Don Jr meeting 'treasonous'
- Trump 'befuddled' by his victory
- Trump 'angry' at inauguration
- Trump loved 'pursuing' friends' wives
- Trump found White House 'scary'
- Ivanka hopes to be president
- Ivanka mocks dad's 'comb-over'
- White House unsure of priorities
- Trump's admiration for Murdoch
- Murdoch calls Trump 'idiot'
- Flynn knew Russia ties 'a problem'
1-4-18 Trump Bannon row: Lawyers seek to halt book's release
Lawyers for US President Donald Trump are seeking to stop the release of a book containing damaging allegations about his administration. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is due for release on Tuesday. It cites former top aide Steve Bannon as describing a meeting with a group of Russians as "treasonous". It also questions Mr Trump's fitness for office, reports his wife was crying on election night and says Ivanka Trump has presidential ambitions. The White House has disputed the book's accuracy. Mr Trump earlier said Mr Bannon - who was sacked in August - had "lost his mind" after losing his White House position. Among a number of explosive statements, Mr Bannon reportedly said, referring to a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials and Russia: "They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV." The meeting, which involved Mr Trump's eldest child Donald Trump Jr, is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his inquiry into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia to win the election. Mr Trump strongly denies any collusion took place. On his Breitbart radio show on Wednesday, Mr Bannon responded to the president's criticism by saying he was a "great man" and that he supported him "day in and day out". (Webmaster's comment: Never has our govenment had such incompetence in the White House and in the people supporting it!)
1-4-18 Trump scraps his own voter fraud commission
US President Donald Trump has scrapped the voter fraud commission he set up in May to investigate his own allegations of illegal voting. A White House statement said many US states had refused to cooperate with the commission. Mr Trump has said fraud had cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election. His rival Hillary Clinton won three million more votes overall than Mr Trump in results that were certified by the Federal Election Commission. In a statement, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had decided to dissolve the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity "rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense". Democrats had alleged the voter fraud commission is a ploy to suppress left-leaning voters. Mr Trump won the all-important electoral college vote in November 2016 by prevailing in Midwestern states; however, Mrs Clinton gathered more ballots nationwide - known as the popular vote. The Republican president has insisted he in fact won the popular vote, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally", without offering any evidence for the claim. State election officials have disputed Mr Trump's claim and many states refused to provide the commission with information for all their registered voters, including their names, addresses, political affiliation and voting history.
1-4-18 The life of a transgender boxer in Thailand
Nong Rose Baan Charoensuk is a champion Thai boxer who has racked up more than 150 wins, 30 of which have been knockouts. Rose is also transgender. Born Somros Polchareon, Rose identified as a woman at a young age. She may look different than her male competitors in the ring, wearing a sports bra, red lipstick, and braids. But Rose is a formidable Muay Thai boxer. Muay Thai is a boxing style that allows competitors to use every part of their body except their head to attack an opponent. The full contact sport runs in the family — Rose and her twin brother were actually named after a famous pair of Thai boxing brothers. Rose, who is in her early 20s, was mesmerized by the sport at an early age. She began learning fighting techniques from her uncle when she was 8 and entered a local boxing match the same year. Rose quickly outshined her siblings and becoming a local star. When she was 13, Rose realized she was attracted to boys. "It wasn't hard for me to recognize what I am," Rose told the Bangkok Post in 2015. She soon matched her looks to her gender identity, but refused to give up boxing. In Thailand, many transgender people feel they are treated as second-class citizens. There is also a stigma against transgender boxers. Opponents in rural towns often refuse to fight Rose. "They would say they didn't want to fight with a gay person, as it would be embarrassing if they won or lost," she told Reuters. "I still face those insults, but I don't care about them."
1-4-18 Canadian cannabis grower Aurora heads to Europe
A Canadian marijuana maker is set to sell cannabis in several European countries after striking a deal with Denmark's biggest tomato producer. Aurora Cannabis is partnering with Alfred Pedersen & Son to produce cannabis for medical use in Europe. The greenhouses used for tomatoes can be converted to grow the drug as both plants have similar growth needs. The joint venture will focus on selling cannabis in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Aurora Nordic Cannabis will build a production facility that can produce up to 120,000kg of cannabis annually, Aurora said. Alfred Pedersen was granted a licence to cultivate cannabis from Denmark's Medicines Agency this week. The drug has become legal in Denmark as part of a four-year trial, allowing patients with illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis to obtain cannabis on prescription. It remains illegal for recreational use.
1-4-18 Medicinal cannabis: Australia aims to become top exporter
The Australian government has said it aspires to be the world's leading exporter of medicinal cannabis. The nation plans to change its regulations to join Canada and the Netherlands in selling products beyond a domestic market. Uruguay and Israel have announced similar plans. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the move would also help local patients. Australia legalised the use of medicinal cannabis in 2016. Using the drug for recreation remains illegal. "Our goal is very clear: to give Australian farmers and manufacturers the best shot at being the world's number one exporter of medicinal cannabis," Mr Hunt said. Changing national regulations will require parliamentary approval. That could happen as soon as February with support from the Labor opposition. The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported the changes would extend of products including oils, patches, sprays, lozenges and tablets.
1-4-18 Turkey minister Soylu tells police to break drug dealers' legs
Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has been criticised for saying police should break the legs of drug dealers who are seen outside schools. The Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) and secular opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet both accused Mr Soylu of incitement to commit a crime. He pledged to take the blame for it. "If a dealer is near a school the police have a duty to break his leg. Do it and blame me. Even if it costs five, 10, 20 years in jail - we'll pay." He was speaking at a public meeting on security, at a hall in the Turkish capital, Ankara. He said the security forces' seizure of 20 tonnes of heroin in 2017 had made it a record year for drug hauls. He said Turkey must fight drug dealers just as it fights the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "What we are doing to the PKK terrorists we must also do to drug dealers - no one can poison our future. What the security officer does is my responsibility." (Webmaster's comment: Brutal physical punishment without even a trial! The Philippine government and now Turkey's government are now both operating outside the law just like Hitler did. America will be next.)
1-4-18 The forgotten Swiss diplomat who rescued thousands from Holocaust
A Swiss diplomat has been credited with leading the largest civilian rescue operation of World War Two. But instead of being applauded for saving thousands of Jewish lives, he was reprimanded and - until recently - largely forgotten, as the BBC's Imogen Foulkes reports. In a suburb of Switzerland's capital, Berne, there is a quiet street called Carl Lutz Weg. Ask people passing by, and no one seems to know much about him. Read the fine print on the street sign, though, and there is a clue: Swiss Vice-Consul to Budapest, 1942 to 1945. There are more clues at the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. It holds bound volumes containing thousands of letters, each stamped by the government of Switzerland, each with photographs of families. The Geigers: Sandor, Istvan, Eva and Janos. Or the Brettlers: Izsak, Mina and Dora. They are a record of Carl Lutz's attempts to stop the Nazis deporting thousands of Jews from Budapest to the death camps. A seasoned diplomat, Lutz had served as the Swiss consul to Palestine, then under British mandate, in the 1930s. He was transferred to Budapest in 1942. Hungary had already joined the war on Germany's side in 1941, and in 1944 the Nazis occupied the country. "After the German occupation of Budapest, the Hungarian Jewry in the countryside was in very quick succession deported to Auschwitz," says Holocaust expert Charlotte Schallié. "Lutz realised he needed to act very quickly." Ms Schallié believes that what Lutz went on to do means he can be compared to Oskar Schindler, the German who saved Jews by employing them in his factories (and who was later immortalised in the film Schindler's List).
1-3-18 Kansas 'swatting' victim's mum demands to see body
The mother of a man who was fatally shot by Kansas police after a "swatting" prank call is pleading with officials to let her view his body. Innocent father-of-two Andrew Finch was shot by Wichita Police six days ago after a video-gamer reported a fake hostage situation at Finch's home. In a letter, his mother accuses city officials of "compounding our grief and sorrow, by keeping my son from us". A man who has been jailed previously for hoax calls has been arrested. Police have said they believe the phone call was an act of "swatting" where a person makes a false report to send police to another person or fake address. "Please let me see my son's lifeless body," Lisa Finch wrote in a letter to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and Police Chief Gordon Ramsey on Tuesday. "It goes without saying that our family is devastated by what has happened," she wrote. Her letter includes a request that police reveal the name of the officer who fired the deadly shot, and that he be prosecuted. "What cannot go without saying is why Wichita City leadership is compounding our grief and sorrow, by keeping my son from us?" she adds. "I want to hold him and say goodbye. Please immediately return his body to us." (Webmaster's comment: Shoot to kill first and ask questions later seems to be the policemen's standard procedure.)
1-3-18 Trump's war on Justice
Last week, President Trump told The New York Times that when it came to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the Russia scandal, "I think he's going to be fair." This was widely misinterpreted as being at odds with the broader Republican message that Mueller is leading an out-of-control probe staffed by maniacal anti-Trump partisans. It wasn't that at all. For Trump, a "fair" investigation is one that exonerates him, just as when he whines about how he's being treated unfairly by the media, he means that they aren't praising him in the fulsome manner he believes he deserves. More than anything else, predicting Mueller would be "fair" to him was an expression of Trump's typical confidence that he'll triumph in the end. But there's a long way between here and there, and as the investigation proceeds Trump is going to ask members of his party to follow him to some uncomfortable places. At the very least, the president who promised to bring back "law and order" will want his followers to demean and discredit the Justice Department, the FBI, and any other entity that should happen to get in his way. The closer the probe gets to Trump, the more it has to be attacked. This weekend we learned that the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia began when the Australian government alerted our government that Trump flunky George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat "during a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016" that the Russians had damaging information on Hillary Clinton drawn from emails. In other words, the FBI wasn't on the case until someone from the Trump campaign forced them to look into it.
1-2-18 How Trump wields unprecedented control over America's judiciary
In less than a year, President Trump has made enough appointments to the federal courts to "reshape the judiciary." That is not an overstatement. Thanks to Republican obstruction during the last two years of Barack Obama's presidency, an unusually large number of openings on the courts greeted Trump, including the Supreme Court seat now occupied by Justice Neil Gorsuch. But aside from the obvious impact that a large number of Trump appointees will have on the judiciary, there is another way in which the president is breaking with precedent to influence judicial decision-making. Recent research in political science demonstrates that by explicitly naming judges as potential future Supreme Court nominees, Trump increases the likelihood of judges attempting to pander to his preferences in their behavior from the bench. That's what Ryan Black and Ryan Owens, professors of political science at Michigan State and Wisconsin, respectively, found in their paper, "Courting the President: How Circuit Court Judges Alter their Behavior for Promotion to the Supreme Court." Simply put, judges have career ambition, like anyone else. So, when vacancies appear higher up the chain — the federal Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, for example — judges who are believed to be candidates for promotion try to make themselves more appealing to presidents. They become more likely to vote with the president's preferences, to rule in favor of the United States, and to write dissenting opinions.
1-2-18 Trump's war on immigrants
It is both malicious and gratuitously petty. The Trump administration's malice toward immigrants isn't only evident in harsh deportation and other enforcement policies. You can also see it in the White House's acts of gratuitous pettiness. Case in point: the recent declaration that it plans to revoke the work authorization of spouses of foreign techies on H-1B visas. Unlike almost every other visa category, spouses of H-1Bs, 90 percent of whom are women, receive H-4 visas that allow them to live in the country but, until recently, not work or start a business. Spouses of diplomats, investors on E visas, and intra-company transfers on L visas have never faced such restrictions. This didn't make any sense. But it didn't matter all that much when transitioning from H-1Bs to green cards took only a couple of years. But in the last decade, average wait times have ballooned to six years. And for tech workers from China and India, wait times are now approaching two decades. This means that Chinese and Indian H-1B spouses are effectively frozen out of the U.S. labor market during their most productive years. Currently, about 1.5 million H-1B families are stuck in green card limbo land.
1-2-18 Californians can now buy marijuana for recreational use
The state already has a booming marijuana industry, on 1 January, it California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use. On 1 January, California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use. Because the state is the nation’s most populous, the move could hasten cannabis’s legalisation across the US. California banned cannabis in 1913, but penalties for using the drug have eased since the 1970s. In 1996, it was the first state to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes. Since 2016, it has been legal to grow, possess and use small amounts of the drug. The state already has a booming marijuana industry, producing as much as seven times more cannabis than is consumed there. Much of this is sold illegally in other states. According to Alex Traverso of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, around 100 dispensaries in the state were licensed to sell cannabis for recreational use on Monday. The bureau had worked over the holiday period to try to process 1,400 licence applications for marijuana-related firms. Recreational marijuana has already been legalised in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. Legal sales of the drug are expected to begin in Massachusetts later this year. “A third of the US now has legal access to marijuana for non-medical use,” says Steve Rolles of the UK drug regulation think tank Transform. “California may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, forcing the government to review federal legislation which currently rules the drug to be illegal.”
1-2-18 German AfD MPs under fire for anti-Muslim New Year's Eve messages
Two German far-right politicians are being investigated by police over anti-Muslim messages on New Year's Eve. Two German far-right politicians are being investigated by police over anti-Muslim messages on New Year's Eve. Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the AfD party, had her Twitter account temporarily suspended on Monday after posting an inflammatory message. She accused Cologne police of appeasing "barbaric, gang-raping Muslim hordes of men" after they tweeted a new-year message in Arabic. Another politician is being investigated after supporting her. Alice Weidel, one of the party's leaders, wrote on Facebook that authorities were submitting to "imported, marauding, groping, abusive, knife-stabbing migrant mobs". Police say both women may be guilty of incitement to hatred. If so, they could face fines or a prison sentence. A new German law, which came fully into force on January 1st, means social media companies have to act against hate speech. Failure to do so could lead to fines of up to €5m ($6m; £4.4m). (Webmaster's comment: Europeans are banning hate speech. Why can't we?)
1-1-18 Germany starts enforcing hate speech law
Germany is set to start enforcing a law that demands social media sites move quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material. Sites that do not remove "obviously illegal" posts could face fines of up to 50m euro (£44.3m). The law gives the networks 24 hours to act after they have been told about law-breaking material. Social networks and media sites with more than two million members will fall under the law's provisions. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will be the law's main focus but it is also likely to be applied to Reddit, Tumblr and Russian social network VK. Other sites such as Vimeo and Flickr could also be caught up in its provisions. The Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law was passed at the end of June 2017 and came into force in early October. The social networks were given until the end of 2017 to prepare themselves for the arrival of NetzDG. The call to police social media sites more effectively arose after several high-profile cases in which fake news and racist material was being spread via the German arms of prominent social media firms. Germany's justice ministry said it would make forms available on its site, which concerned citizens could use to report content that violates NetzDG or has not been taken down in time. As well as forcing social media firms to act quickly, NetzDG requires them to put in place a comprehensive complaints structure so that posts can quickly be reported to staff. Most material will have to be removed within 24 hours but networks will have a week to act on "complex cases".
1-1-18 Recreational cannabis use becomes legal in California
California has become the largest state in the US to legalise recreational cannabis use. As of 1 January 2018, adults aged over 21 can possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of the drug and can grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Opponents say the law will lead to more driving under the influence of the drug and introduce young people to drug use. But business is eyeing what could be an industry worth tens of billions of dollars in the next few years. Californians voted in favour of Proposition 64 legalising cannabis 14 months ago, in a poll that took place alongside the US presidential vote. Since then, a complicated patchwork of taxes and regulations has been drawn up to govern sales of the drug. Critics say the red tape will discourage consumers, growers and retailers from leaving the state's vast black market and only a few dozen shops have so far been approved to open. The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have yet to sanction any recreational marijuana outlets. "The first year, two years are going to be a mess," as cities agree their own regulations and supply and demand is established, Troy Dayton told AFP news agency. He is the CEO of Arcview, a company that analyses the global cannabis market. He predicted there could be "crazy fluctuation in price over the first year or two". Nonetheless, the potential rewards are huge in the US's wealthiest and most populous state. In 1996, California was the first state to legalise marijuana for medicinal use.
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