129 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for June 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
6-30-18 Black US senators introduce anti-lynching bill
The three black United States senators have introduced a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime. The bill would allow lynching to be added as a hate crime charge alongside existing crimes such as murder. More than 200 anti-lynching bills have been introduced to Congress since 1918 only to be voted down, noted the bill's lead sponsor, Democrat Kamala Harris. "Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our history, and we must acknowledge that, lest we repeat it," she said. If passed, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act would make lynching punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison. Lynching is murder by a mob with no due process or rule of law. In the US south in the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of African Americans were lynched by white mobs, often by hanging. The bill is a bipartisan effort - Ms Harris and Mr Booker are Democrats while the bill's third sponsor, Tim Scott, is a Republican. "It's a travesty that despite repeated attempts to do so, Congress still hasn't put anti-lynching legislation on the books," Mr Booker said in a statement. "This bill will right historical wrongs by acknowledging our country's stained past and codifying into law our commitment to abolishing this shameful practice." According to the text of the bill, at least 4,742 people were reported lynched in the US between 1882 and 1968. It says 99% of all perpetrators of lynching escaped punishment. (Webmaster's comment: It will never pass. The white male supremacists will always want the right to lynch non-whites.)
Read: 100 Years Of Lynchings
Read: Without Sanctuary
6-30-18 Bringing Gay Pride to Africa's last absolute monarchy
Africa's last absolute monarchy is holding its first LGBTI Pride event this weekend. And anyone doubting the determination needed to undertake such an event in Swaziland, now known as eSwatini, just needed to open last week's Sunday Observer. A full-page letter accused those organising the march of promoting "paedophilia and bestiality", calling on the organisers to "cancel this gay Pride until Emaswati have decided that they will choose this unnatural behaviour". "I was so impressed by his determination, really against all the odds, to pull this off," said Matt Beard, chief executive of All Out, a "global movement for love and equality" which helped support the event. "There have not been many Prides in Africa, and this is a small country - an absolute monarchy where homosexuality is illegal - and this young guy had this vision to pull together this moment. "This will be the first time this community has been able to come together in public, to have that level of dignity and pride in themselves." However, that doesn't mean the idea of walking proudly through the streets of this tiny nation - home to just 1.1 million people - isn't slightly nerve wracking, even if the authorities have given permission for it to go ahead. "It's mixed feelings," one man - a gay preacher - told the BBC. He asked not to be named. "If they see you, they will disown you and reject you and all this stuff," he explained. "But my other side is that I am happy. We will have a stand for the church to support the LGBTI community." That support is something which has been lacking from his own experience, and those of the largely LGBTI community he already preaches to.
6-29-18 Trump: Journalists should be free from fear of attack
US President Donald Trump addressed the "horrific" shooting at a Maryland newspaper that left five people dead at a White House event. He said journalists should be able to work "free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job". (Webmaster's comment: But Trump had fake videos made showing him physically assaulting journalists he disagreed with!)
6-29-18 Trade: Harley-Davidson blames tariffs for move
Harley-Davidson said this week it plans to move some production out of the U.S. in order to avoid stiff retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union, said Damian Paletta in The Washington Post. The iconic, 115-year-old motorcycle manufacturer, which also announced plans for a Thailand-based plant earlier this year, said “it was shifting more production overseas specifically to blunt the impact” of EU tariffs on certain goods, imposed in retaliation against Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. President Trump reacted with fury on Twitter, saying the move will be “the beginning of the end” of Harley-Davidson and threatening the company with taxes “like never before.” “The U.S. casualties of Trump’s trade war are starting to mount,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. U.S. motorcycle sales are in decline, and Harley-Davidson sees the EU as a critical growth market. But after Trump’s steel tariffs, the EU raised its tax on U.S.-made Harleys to 31 percent from 6 percent—adding about $2,200 to each motorcycle. Little wonder then that the firm is shifting resources. In Missouri, a company that manufactures about half the nails in America has already cut 60 employees from its workforce of 500, and will likely lay off 200 more, because of the tariffs on Mexican steel. The list of lost jobs “will continue to grow.”
6-29-18 The school shooting contagion
Mass shootings can spread like a disease, with each massacre inspiring new rampages. Can the cycle of violence be stopped? Description
- How do shootings catch on? Researchers are finding ever more evidence that school shootings are often not isolated, random outbursts of violence but instead spread “contagiously,” with every attack “infecting” and inspiring more potential killers.
- When did this phenomenon start? The Columbine High School massacre in 1999 is considered the spark that ignited the epidemic.
- Does mental health play a role? It’s not clear. Michael Stone, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of mass shooters, said in 2015 that only 22 percent of such killers had a severe mental illness.
- Are males more susceptible? Since Columbine, 95 percent of school shooting plotters have been men or teenage boys.
- Does the media bear any responsibility? Many experts believe that the saturation coverage that follows school shootings can act as a spur to other would-be killers.
- What can be done to stop copycats? Some commentators have argued that the media should refuse to name mass shooters, to deny them the attention they desire and help contain the contagion.
- The death toll competition: Many would-be school shooters aren’t simply inspired by past mass murderers; they’re also driven by a desire to top those killers’ death tolls—as if they were playing a video game.
6-29-18 More guns than anybody!
Americans own about 46 percent of the 857 million civilian-owned firearms in the world, despite making up 4 percent of the world’s population, according to a new report from the international Small Arms Survey. The U.S. has more guns than citizens, with an estimated 120.5 guns for every 100 residents. The nation with the second-highest firearm ownership rate, war-torn Yemen, has 52.8 guns per 100 residents.
6-29-18 Immigration: Is a rational and humane compromise possible?
“It’s all a hoax, a great big hoax,” said Catherine Rampell in The Washington Post. Not the family separations at the border, or traumatized toddlers being detained like criminals in cages. “Those cruelties are all too real.” What’s fake is President Trump’s claim that the country is being “infested” with hordes of criminal “invaders” pouring like vermin over an open southern border. In reality, the number of people apprehended at the border has been steadily sinking for years, and fell to about 300,000 last year—the lowest level since 1971. Trump and other border hawks, however, believe that “even one border-crosser is too many, since most come bringing crime, drugs, and general bloodthirst.” This is also a lie. Studies show that both legal and undocumented immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born Americans. Immigrants aren’t “stealing” American jobs, either. With the unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, many employers are complaining about a shortage of workers. Nevertheless, Trump insists that the situation is so dire, extreme measures have become necessary. “Sadly, Trump’s manufactured crisis has now led to very real tragedy.” Sadly, rational responses to the immigration problem are not possible, said David Brooks in The New York Times. Serious immigration reform will involve compromises and trade-offs, including what to do about the millions of people already living in the U.S. illegally. But the minority of border hawks who control the Republican Party keep blocking any politically workable compromise while shouting “amnesty.” We all know why the hard-liners are so panicked, said Charles M. Blow, also in The New York Times. America is well on the way to becoming a majority-minority country. Among kids under 10, there are now more children of color than children who are white. Strip away all the rationales for restricting immigration and you get “white extinction anxiety.” Trump “is beloved by his base in part because he is unapologetically defending whiteness from anything that threatens it.”
6-29-18 ‘I don’t even know where she is’
Arnovis Guidos Portillo sought asylum in the U.S. with his 6-year-old daughter to escape gang violence in El Salvador, said Joshua Partlow. But he has since been deported, while his little girl has been left behind. Corral de Mulas, El Salvador—Arnovis Guidos Portillo remembers the authorities in green uniforms telling him that this would only be temporary. They told him that his 6-year-old daughter, Meybelin, should really go with them, he recalled. The holding cell was cold, he said he was told, and the child was not sleeping well. Don’t worry, he was assured, she would take the first bus, and he would follow soon. “What’s best is we take her to another place,” he recalled a U.S. official telling him. It’s a conversation this 26-year-old farmer from El Salvador has replayed for nearly a month. His daughter was taken from him on his second day in U.S. immigration custody in Texas, he and his lawyers said, and she remains somewhere in the United States. Guidos was deported last week back to this small Central American nation, where he lives in a one-room, dirt-floor shack with no electricity and two goats in the yard. He and his daughter are one of more than 2,000 migrant families who have firsthand experience with President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The decision to prosecute all those caught crossing illegally into the United States meant that parents and children were sent to separate detention centers and shelters. Although Trump ended family separations in an executive order last week, many parents are still trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare, far from their children and unsure how they will be reunited. “I would advise anyone who wants to travel to the United States with their children not to do it,” he said. “I would never want them to have to walk in my shoes.” And yet, Guidos is ready to travel again, if he cannot find Meybelin soon, even if he must retrace his recent 1,500-mile journey: crossing Mexico crammed in the back of a refrigerated cargo truck after weeks in U.S. detention with frigid rooms and scalding showers and mocking guards. Details of Guidos’ case were confirmed by court documents and his lawyers. (Webmaster's comment: The inhumanity of the United States knows no bounds!)
6-29-18 'It's been 50 days since I heard of my son'
Yessica was separated from her son after they arrived at the US border six weeks ago. She has had no contact with him since. She describes her and other women's "horrible" ordeal in a migrant detention centre in Texas.
6-29-18 The chaotic effort to reunite migrant families
The Trump administration struggled this week to reunite thousands of children separated from their parents at the border, after officials conceded they had no coordinated system between federal agencies to track and return children scattered around the country in government shelters and foster homes. Citing “a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making,” a federal judge in California ordered children under 5 to be returned to their parents within 14 days, and children over 5 returned in 30 days or fewer. Approximately 500 children recently held at CBP facilities have been reunited with their parents, but Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday his agency still held 2,047 children—only six fewer than in HHS custody a week ago, and that most could not be reunited with parents who are still in custody. The Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents over 300 parents but has located only two separated children, said “bureaucratic errors” have stymied their efforts. One legal aid lawyer in Texas said, “You wait and wait for no information.”
6-29-18 Republicans are such nice people!
75% of Democrats consider reuniting parents and children separated at the border a “high priority,” compared with 23% of Republicans and 41% of independents. 73% of Republicans think illegal immigrants should be “punished as an example of toughness.”
6-29-18 Supreme Court OKs Trump’s travel ban
The Supreme Court this week upheld President Trump’s travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, delivering a victory to the White House in its first major ruling on a Trump administration policy. The court voted 5-4 in Trump v. Hawaii, with conservative justices in the majority, rejecting arguments that Trump’s executive order exceeded his lawful powers and violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Trump has ample authority to restrict the entry of certain noncitizens on national security grounds. Roberts also rebuffed the contention that Trump’s past comments—including his call during the presidential campaign for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the U.S.—proved that the order was motivated by religious bias. “The text says nothing about religion,” Roberts wrote. The day after the ruling was issued, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. The White House hailed the court’s decision as a “profound vindication” of its immigration policies. In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor likened the decision to the Supreme Court’s infamous 1944 ruling in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Quoting President Trump’s own comments—including his assertion that “Islam hates us”—Sotomayor argued that a “reasonable observer” would see the order as driven by the president’s hostility to Muslims. “History will not look kindly on the court’s decision,” she said. “Nor should it.”
6-29-18 Jogger detained at border
A French teenager out for a jog along a Canadian beach ended up being detained by U.S. authorities for two weeks after she inadvertently crossed the border into the U.S. Cedella Roman, 19, was visiting her mother in British Columbia when she went for a run on the shoreline near Peace Arch Park—where an arch dedicated to the friendship between the two nations straddles the border—with no ID on her. Instead of shooing her back across the unmarked border toward Canada, border guards transferred her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody 140 miles away in Tacoma, Wash., where it took weeks to process her removal. “There was nothing, no sign at the border,” said her mother, Christiane Ferne. “Anybody can be caught at the border like this.”
6-29-18 SCOTUS split
In another First Amendment case, the court’s conservative bloc struck down a California law requiring “crisis pregnancy centers” to give women information about ways to end their pregnancies. These centers oppose abortion on religious grounds and urge women to pursue parenthood or adoption instead. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that while California could promote the availability of abortions through advertising, for example, the state “cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it.” And in a case accusing Texas of drawing congressional and legislative districts that disadvantage Hispanic voters, the court held that all but one of the districts in question were legitimate. The conservative justices said a unanimous ruling by a three-judge district court “erred” in finding that several of these districts were gerrymandered to preserve racial discrimination. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored a scathing, 46-page dissent, saying that the court was going “out of its way” to permit Texas to use racially discriminatory election maps.
6-29-18 How they see us: Giving up on human rights
The U.S. has added “another withdrawal to its long list of international disengagements,” said Marie Bourreau and Gilles Paris in Le Monde (France). Citing the “supposed anti-Israel bias” of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Trump administration last week declared it was quitting the 47-nation body. In announcing the pullout, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, “could not find enough harsh words” for the 12-year-old council. She called it “hypocritical” and “a cesspool of bias,” noting that the organization had passed five resolutions against Israel so far this year, “more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined.” Of course, hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder. Haley pointed out that the council’s member nations include serial human rights offenders such as Congo and Venezuela, “but was careful to avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates”—U.S. allies that are bombing and starving innocent civilians in Yemen. Surely it’s no coincidence that the Trump administration pulled out of the council just as it embarked on a brutal family separation policy that almost certainly breaks international human rights law, said The Observer (U.K.) in an editorial. It is a “grotesque betrayal” of Western values for the U.S. to treat desperate asylum seekers at the Mexican border as criminals, tear their children from their arms, and incarcerate toddlers in “baby jails.” President Trump is due to visit Britain on July 13. If he won’t change his nationalist, xenophobic policy, “he should be turned back at the border.” (Webmaster's comment: Human Rights abuses can now skyrocket in the United States without UN condemnation which was whole reason for pulling out of the council!)
6-29-18 Turkey: Empowering an autocrat
Recep Tayyip Erdogan now wields virtually unlimited power, said Umut Uras in Qatar’s AlJazeera.com. The Turkish president won re-election this week with just over 52 percent of the vote, and he will return to office with vastly increased authority. The election was the first to be held after Turkish voters last year narrowly approved a referendum that eliminated the office of prime minister and granted the next person to hold the presidency—once a mostly ceremonial role—the right to personally appoint vice presidents, ministers, high-level officials, and senior judges, and to dissolve parliament. Still, this high-turnout election “signaled for the first time that there could be a credible alternative to Erdogan.” Rival Muharrem Ince of the secularist Republican People’s Party got a respectable 30.8 percent of the vote by running against the presidency’s expanded powers. “A single person is becoming the head of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, and this is a threat to the survival of the country,” Ince warned in his concession speech. “We’re now under one-man rule.” In the meantime, no one should pretend Turkey is a friend of the West, said Ross Clark in the Daily Express (U.K.). Since the failed coup, Erdogan has orchestrated “a Stalin-style mass purge of all opposition,” sacking more than 100,000 army officers, police, and judges—half of whom are now locked up. Newspapers and radio and TV stations have been shuttered, journalists jailed, and teachers fired. And now Erdogan has dictatorial powers. Turkey can no longer “claim to be a functioning democracy.” (Webmaster's comment: This is the power that Trump wants and is working for just like Hitler did!)
6-29-18 Attacks on Roma
. Suspected neo-Nazis armed with knives, chains, and metal rods launched a savage attack on a Roma encampment outside the city of Lviv last week, stabbing a man to death and injuring at least four others—including a pregnant woman and a 10-year-old boy. The 10 suspected assailants are affiliated with the Misanthropic Division, one of many Hitler-admiring groups that have sprung up in Ukraine in recent years. Neo-Nazis have carried out at least five such attacks on Roma camps near Kiev and Lviv in the past two months, beating residents and torching their tents and possessions. Roma said that in some cases police stood by, chatting with the neo-Nazis. (Webmaster's comment: The Nazis are back!)
6-28-18 UK 'knew US mistreated rendition detainees'
The UK tolerated "inexcusable" treatment of US detainees after the 9/11 attacks, MPs have found. The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said it was "beyond doubt" the UK knew how the US handled some detainees. The ISC found no "smoking gun" indicating a policy of deliberately overlooking such cases. The chair of the parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, Ken Clarke, called for an independent inquiry into the UK's role, "to get to the truth". According to the ISC report, the UK continued to supply intelligence to allies in 232 cases where British officials knew or suspected mistreatment. Prime Minister Theresa May said British personnel had been working in "a new and challenging operating environment" which some were "not prepared" for. She added "it took too long to recognise that guidance and training for staff was inadequate", and said British intelligence and the Army were "much better placed to meet that challenge". The ISC rejected claims by intelligence agencies that the cases detailed were no more than "isolated incidents". The report added: "That the US, and others, were mistreating detainees is beyond doubt, as is the fact that the agencies and defence intelligence were aware of this at an early point." BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said the report showed there was "no evidence of direct mistreatment" by British intelligence agencies, but there were "13 cases where spies witness first-hand a detainee being mistreated by others". He added that the ISC criticises the UK's foreign intelligence service MI6, and its listening service GCHQ for playing "a role in enabling some detentions". The report adds "more could have been done" by security agencies and ministers in Tony Blair's government to try and influence US behaviour. (Webmaster's comment: United States has always tortured "suspects" and many nations know it and take part in it. Guilt or innocence is not important!)
6-27-18 Antwon Rose: Pittsburgh officer charged with criminal homicide
An officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in the US state of Pennsylvania has been charged with criminal homicide, court records show. Michael Rosfeld, 30, shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he tried to flee police on 19 June - just 90 minutes after the officer had been sworn in for duty. Mr Rosfeld turned himself in on Wednesday and was booked in Allegheny County jail. His bail was set at $250,000 (£190,000) and he is due in court on 6 July. "You do not shoot somebody in the back if they are not a threat to you," District Attorney Stephen Zappala said during a news conference on Wednesday. Mr Zappala also told reporters that lawyers will be seeking first-degree murder charges. The death of Antwon Rose is one of many high-profile cases of unarmed black men dying at the hands of white US police officers - cases that have ignited protests and civil unrest across the country. Most, however, do not result in any charges brought against the officer. Mr Rosefeld's attorney told CBS News on Friday that the officer "feels bad about what happened" and said it was "his first time ever firing his weapon as a police officer". During the 19 June incident, officers stopped Rose's car because it matched the description of one sought in connection with a nearby shooting, police said. Rose was a passenger in the vehicle at the time. (Webmaster's comment: Police are not above the law and should be severly sentenced for killing people if not absolutely necessary to protect others or themselves.)
6-27-18 Migrant separations: US judge orders family reunifications
A US judge has ordered that migrant children and their parents who were separated when they crossed into the US should be reunited within 30 days. The judge issued the injunction in a case stemming from the administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Meanwhile the policy of breaking up families at the Mexico border is being challenged by 17 US states. Democratic attorneys general from states including Washington, New York and California launched the lawsuit. More than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents since early May under the Trump administration's controversial policy, which seeks to criminally prosecute anyone crossing the border illegally. Tuesday's preliminary injunction, issued by a federal judge in San Diego, California, orders the government to reunite parents with their children aged under five within 14 days, and with older ones within 30 days. The nationwide injunction was issued as part of a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a mother who was split from her six-year-old daughter after arriving in the US last year. Judge Dana Sabraw criticised "responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government's own making". Court papers filed by the ACLU contained accounts from other parents unable to locate their children after they were separated at the border. (Webmaster's comment: But will the government obey or even acknowlege the judge's order? That is the question.)
6-27-18 Face it: We cannot trust anything Trump says
All politicians — probably all people — bend the truth, sometimes to the point of rupture. But normally, politicians try to at least leave an inch of plausible deniability, or commit lies of omission, rather than flat-out fib. President Trump doesn't do this. For whatever reason, consciously or not, Trump is breathtakingly mendacious. The Washington Post, which has documented more than 3,250 false or misleading claims Trump has made in office, noticed last week that the president "has been outdoing even himself with falsehoods in recent days, repeating and amplifying bogus claims on several of the most pressing controversies facing his presidency." At just one rally — in Duluth last Wednesday night — Trump told a whopper once almost every two minutes for an hour, per Post fact-checker Meg Kelly's tally. And it's not just the Jeff Bezos Fake News Washington Post that finds Trump less than truthful. A new Gallup poll shows only 37 percent of Americans consider Trump honest and trustworthy, and Pew Research Center just found that a 54 percent majority of American adults trust what Trump says less than past presidents. If you're uncomfortable calling Trump's constantly untruthful statements "lies" — it's a pretty shocking and discomfiting thing to say about a president of the United States, and I take no pleasure in highlighting it — there are plenty of euphemisms: falsehoods, half-truths, whoppers, fibs, inventions, fabrications, taradiddles, or the Kellyanne Conway-coined "alternative facts." But whatever your genteelism, it's time to consider the possibility that Trump is not and never will be a credible source of information.
6-26-18 Travel ban: Trump hails 'tremendous' Supreme Court ruling
US President Donald Trump has hailed a Supreme Court ruling upholding his travel ban which covers people from several Muslim-majority countries. Lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, but the US top court reversed the decision in a 5-4 conservative majority ruling. At a White House meeting to discuss Mr Trump's proposed border wall he lauded the decision as "a tremendous success". The court's reversal is viewed as a victory for the Trump administration. The ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. Mr Trump said the Supreme Court decision was a "great victory" for the nation and constitution. "We have to be tough and we have to be safe and we have to be secure," the Republican president said in Tuesday's meeting with lawmakers. "The ruling shows that all the attacks from the media and the Democrat politicians were wrong, and they turned out to be very wrong," he added. He added: "If you look at the European Union, they're meeting right now to toughen up their immigration policies because they've been over-run, they've been over-run. "And frankly, a lot of those countries are not the same places anymore." The travel ban, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect in December, has been widely criticised by refugee and human rights groups. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which said the travel ban was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority". He also rejected arguments that the ban discriminated against Muslims. (Webmaster's comment: The next supreme court decision will be to close down all Mosques and lock up all American Muslim citizens!)
6-26-18 The Supreme Court's disgraceful decision on Trump's travel ban
President Trump finally got his Muslim ban. Early in his administration, Trump officially tried to stop visitors from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. When that ban was enjoined by the courts, he issued another, which was also stopped by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and which he quickly replaced with a final version that added Venezuela and North Korea, presumably to give it a less obviously discriminatory appearance. The reaction of lower courts against Trump created the hope that the judiciary would be the check on Trump's worst impulses that Congress has not been. Today, however, these hopes were dashed by a supine Supreme Court. A bare 5-4 majority, breaking out on a straight party line with Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch providing the critical fifth vote, upheld the president's travel ban, abdicating its constitutional responsibilities with a disgraceful opinion that history will not view kindly. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids the government from treating people differently on the basis of their religion. While Trump's travel ban was neutral towards religion on its face, compelling evidence that its otherwise arbitrary selection of seven countries, five of them majority-Muslim, was motivated by religious bias is provided by Trump's own words. As the majority opinion acknowledges, Trump repeatedly expressed anti-Muslim animus as a candidate and described his first order as a "Muslim ban" after his inauguration. And as Justice Sonia Sotomayor points out in her dissenting opinion, a statement that was still on his campaign website in May 2017 Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." It's hard to imagine more compelling evidence of discriminatory intent, and Trump has never repudiated these statements.
6-26-18 US Supreme Court upholds Trump's travel ban
The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Trump administration's travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries. Lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, but the US top court has reversed this decision in a 5-4 ruling announced on Tuesday. The ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. It has been criticised by refugee and human rights groups. President Donald Trump's ban has seen several iterations. Iraq and Chad had been on previous versions, but have since been removed. The administration says that the countries on the ban "remain deficient at this time with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices. In some cases, these countries also have a significant terrorist presence within their territory". The state of Hawaii had challenged the ban and a federal judge blocked its implementation. (Webmaster's comment: A blantant ruling against Muslims by our now religiously biased Supreme Count. Unconstitutional rullings against Muslim American citizens in our country will soon now follow.)
6-25-18 Turkey election: Erdogan win ushers in new presidential era
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking on extensive new executive powers following his outright election victory in Sunday's poll. Parliament has been weakened and the post of prime minister abolished, as measures approved in a controversial referendum last year take effect. Defeated opposition candidate Muharrem Ince said Turkey was now entering a dangerous period of "one-man rule". Mr Erdogan polled nearly 53% in the most fiercely fought election in years. Mr Ince received just 31%, despite a lively campaign attracting huge crowds. Mr Erdogan, 64, has presided over a strong economy and built up a solid support base. But he has also polarised opinion, cracking down on opponents and putting some 160,000 people in jail. Congratulations have come in from around the world, though some Western leaders have been slow to react. Russian President Vladimir Putin talked of Mr Erdogan's "great political authority and mass support". In his victory speech on Monday morning, Mr Erdogan vowed to bring in the new presidential system "rapidly". The constitutional changes were endorsed in a tight referendum last year by 51% of voters. They include giving the president new powers to:
- directly appoint top officials, including ministers and vice-presidents
- intervene in the country's legal system
- impose a state of emergency
(Webmaster's comment: This is what Trump wants to do and Trump will soon follow in his footsteps! The United States will soon lose many of its freedoms.)
6-25-18 In defense of incivility
Ostracizing Trump administration officials in public isn't rude. It's necessary. Trump administration officials are having restaurant troubles. Over the weekend, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to dine with her family at a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, and the owner decided, in consultation with her employees, to refuse to serve them. This follows on the heels of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller being called a fascist in a D.C. Mexican restaurant, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen being chased out of another Mexican restaurant by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) protesters. A certain class of centrist liberal was upset by this supposed affront to civility. The Washington Post editorial board wrote that current history doesn't justify uncivil behavior, and Sanders "should be allowed to eat dinner in peace." Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that he was "appalled" at people celebrating Sanders getting kicked out. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf suggests that such incivility increases the likelihood of a Trump re-election. If there is any main wellspring of "incivility" (an extremely ill-defined word, but setting that aside), it comes from the monstrously evil actions of the Trump regime. This administration — which is full to bursting with criminals and con artists stuffing their pockets with public money — put forth a policy of snatching the children of asylum seekers and putting them in concentration camps. It is obviously motivated by a racial panic over demographic change making white people no longer the majority. Anti-immigrant hardliners like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) are not remotely subtle about this. President Trump himself is 10 times more uncivil than any DSA protester. He's a man who has boasted about sexual assault on tape, who threatens to jail his political opponents, who lies with practically every breath, who makes a mockery of deliberative democracy, and who is more publicly coarse and rude than any president since Andrew Johnson. And because he is the most powerful person on Earth, that incivility is 10,000 times more influential than any lefty protester on Earth.
6-25-18 Citizenship is the new caste system
The circumstances of your birth have never been more important. Americans read these complaints and scoff. We like to think we've transcended this kind elitism. Here in America, we prioritize content of character, not circumstances of birth. In this country, your fortunes depend on what you can do, not on some inherited pedigree. That, at any rate, is our national myth. Unfortunately, it's not really true, in this nation or any other. Democratic ideals may have swept the globe so totally that even totalitarians now pay lip-service to them, yet our world is in some respects more ruthlessly class-divided than ever. I'm not talking here about the 1 percent, or the 9.9 percent, or whatever percentage we see as inheriting systemic advantages from their well-heeled parents. I'm talking about citizenship. Citizenship represents the most significant class lottery remaining in the modern world. The cover of your passport speaks volumes about your prospects for enjoying peace, prosperity, and happiness over the course of your life. If you are the offspring of Danes, you can likely look forward to eight peaceful and happy decades, with a good education and quality medical care. Were you born in Haiti? In that case, you may get 65 years, but you'll probably spend them coping with grinding poverty (at about 1/30th the income of an average American). If you were born in North Korea, accept my compliments for even managing to read these words.
6-25-18 Roseanne Barr regrets becoming 'hate magnet'
US comedian Roseanne Barr says she regrets making herself a "hate magnet" after tweeting a racist comment which led to the cancellation of her TV show. In a tearful podcast interview with friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, she says she "never would have wittingly called any black person... a monkey". Last month, she compared ex-Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is African American, to an ape. The interview was Barr's first since her revived show was cancelled. Barr sparked an online backlash after she called Mrs Jarrett the child of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film. "I said to God: 'I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I've done wrong. I'm going to accept what the consequences are.' And I do, and I have," she said in the interview. She blamed sleeping pills for her tweet - an explanation some people do not accept. "But they don't ever stop. They don't accept my apology, or explanation. And I've made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it's just horrible. It's horrible." She said of her tweet that she "didn't mean what they think I meant". "But I have to face that it hurt people. When you hurt people, even unwillingly, there's no excuse. "I don't want to run off and blather on with excuses. But I apologise to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean. It was my own ignorance, and there's no excuse for that ignorance." Barr deleted the post and apologised, amid criticism of her and the ABC network, which airs her show. Mrs Jarrett was born in Iran to American parents. (Webmaster's comment: Barr meant exactly what she said and deserves all the backlash she is getting. She can't weasel her way out of this one.)
6-24-18 Trump calls for deportations without judicial process
US President Donald Trump has called for speedy deportations that bypass any judicial process in a tweet on Sunday. US President Donald Trump has called for speedy deportations that bypass any judicial process in a tweet on Sunday. "When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came," Mr Trump wrote. His comments come days after Mr Trump reversed a policy to separate migrant children from their parents following fierce backlash at home and abroad. More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents in May and June. As of May, all migrants who cross the US border illegally face criminal prosecution under the "zero tolerance" policy. The president did not make the distinction between economic migrants and those seeking asylum. Mr Trump has faced criticism, including from his own Republican Party, for his choice of language on Twitter. When he earlier said immigrants threatened "to pour into and infest our Country", Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tweeted back at him saying his "baseless rhetoric" was "repugnant" and dehumanised those looking for a better life. US immigration officials say 2,342 children were separated from 2,206 parents from 5 May to 9 June. (Webmaster's comment: Who needs the law anyway? We have a aspiring dictator as a president.)
6-23-18 French jogger detained after crossing US-Canada border
A young French woman who went for an evening jog along a Canadian beach spent two weeks in US immigration detention after straying across the border. Cedella Roman, 19, who was visiting her mother in British Columbia, decided to run along the beach that leads to Canada's border with the United States on 21 May. Ms Roman told Canadian media she turned on to a dirt path for a few metres as the tide rose, and stopped to take a picture before retracing her steps. She was then confronted by two US border patrol agents who arrested her for crossing into Blaine, Washington. "He started telling me that I had crossed the border illegally and I told him I really did not do it on purpose," Ms Roman told Radio-Canada (in French). 'I realised it was really serious' "I did not think they would put me in jail," she said. But to jail she did go, as the officers took her more than 220km (136 miles) south to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, a privately run immigration prison in Washington state. With no identification on her and just the clothes she was wearing, Ms Roman started to realise the gravity of her situation. "They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewellery, they searched me everywhere," Ms Roman told the Canadian broadcaster CBC. "Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit." She said she was held in a room with about 100 other people. "We were locked up all the time and in the yard there was barbed wire and dogs," she told French news agency AFP. Both sides eventually agreed she could return to Canada, but only 15 days after Ms Roman first set off on her jog. (Webmaster's comment: United States has become one of the most unfriendly nations on Earth just looking for any excuse to harm others!)
6-23-18 Sarah Sanders kicked out of restaurant because of work for Trump
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant on Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump. A co-owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, asked Ms Sanders and her family to leave as a protest against the Trump administration. Ms Sanders tweeted that "her actions say far more about her than about me". Stephanie Wilkinson said she believed Ms Sanders worked for an "inhumane and unethical" administration. She told the Washington Post that she decided to ask the Trump spokeswoman to leave the 26-seat, "farm-to-table" restaurant after talking to her staff. "Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," she said she told them. "They said yes." The incident comes days after Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was booed at a Mexican restaurant in Washington DC. Both cases come amid increasing pressure on the US government over its controversial policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border. (Webmaster's comment: Sarah Sanders is a person who speaks with a forked-tongue. She spins evil acts to make them sound good. She wouldn't know or tell the truth if it bite her on the ....)
6-23-18 How Trump drew back the curtain on America's immigration cruelty
President Trump has abruptly reversed course on his administration's vicious policy of separating migrant children from their parents. That decision came after a dizzying, circus-like week in which the president and his inept coterie of minions couldn't decide whether to admit that the policy existed, or if it did, whether it was worth defending on its own terms or instead nonsensically blaming it on the Democrats. Congress, as always, looks paralyzed by divisions inside the GOP. Hoping for relief from the bipartisan condemnation and media firestorm, the president ended that drama himself, at least for the moment, when he signed an executive order requiring children to be detained with their parents instead of independently. But President Trump may have ignited a blaze he can't put out so easily. The policy of separating parents from their children was not just endlessly cruel and morally bankrupt. It will also potentially cause catastrophic political damage to Trump and the GOP, and cause an irreversible shift in public opinion on America's immigration practices. Overwhelming majorities of Americans will eventually choose to have children, and no one is more viscerally affected by kids in emotional pain than people with babies of their own. As the father of a 9-day-old infant, I can tell you that those tapes of children wailing inconsolably inside detention centers just about broke me in a way that they wouldn't have just last month. That universal protective instinct is perhaps one reason why the president, in this instance, was not able to instantly hypnotize his entire following into supporting his policy. There was greater-than-normal pushback from other Republicans, including a damning Washington Post op-ed from former first lady Laura Bush, a letter signed by 13 GOP senators, and the spectacular tweetstorm from former top GOP campaign strategist Steve Schmidt renouncing his membership in the Republican Party, in which he skewered GOP elites for submitting to "internment camps for babies" and argued that "these complicit leaders will carry this shame through history." (Webmaster's comment: Just like the Nazi's will always carry their shame!)
6-23-18 US military plans migrant tent camps amid Trump crackdown
The US Navy is reportedly planning to build sprawling immigrant detention centres on military bases, amid a Trump crackdown at the US-Mexico border. A draft memo obtained by Time magazine outlines plans to build "austere" tent camps to house 25,000 migrants. The memo says the camps would be built on abandoned airfields in California, Alabama, and Arizona. Another camp near San Francisco is being designed for as many as 47,000 people, the memo says. A Pentagon spokesman said the military had not been asked by the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) to draw up the specific plans, but was engaging in "prudent planning... should the DHS ask for assistance in housing adult illegal immigrants". The US military said on Thursday it had been asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children. The Navy memo estimates the force would spend $233 million (£175m) to run a facility for 25,000 people for six-months. The memo gives a sense of the knock-on effect of a "zero tolerance" immigration policy being pursued by the Trump administration, in an effort to deter migrants from Central and South America from attempting to cross into the US. A decision by the administration to criminally prosecute every migrant crossing the US-Mexico border led to some 2,300 children being separated from their parents in May and June, and sparked a global wave of outrage. President Donald Trump eventually backed down in the face of overwhelming public pressure and signed an order to halt the family separations, but he insisted he remained committed to his "zero tolerance" policy. Migrant children taken from their parents are being held in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Images from one facility in a converted Walmart sparked outrage earlier this week, when they showed children held in wire mesh cages, sleeping on mats with foil blankets. (Webmaster's comment: The tent camps and wire mesh cages for children are the beginning of the Nazi style prison camps in America! In 10-15 years they will be death camps!)
6-23-18 Undocumented migrant families embark on chaotic reunion process
At least 2,300 children have been taken from their families since 5 May after entering the country without documentation at the US-Mexico border. An uncertain reunion process now lies ahead of them. President Donald Trump says he has directed agencies to begin reuniting children and parents separated after entering the US illegally. On Friday, officials said around 500 migrant children have been reunited with their families. But advocates for separated families say they have had no updates from government agencies about how the thousands of remaining children will find their parents. When families are detained for crossing the border illegally, parents and children should be given the same file number by immigration officials. This identification tool, known as an A-file number, is meant to make it easier for parents to locate their children after they are released, deported or jailed. But it becomes more complicated when parents are separated from their children prior to receiving their A-file number. Parents and children can instead end up with different numbers, making it far more difficult to reunite them. (Webmaster's comment: Many physically torn from their mother's arms and now lost, some probably forever. Is this what the Staute of Liberty now stands for?)
6-23-18 Vatican ex-diplomat sentenced to five years on child pornography charges
A former Vatican diplomat has been sentenced to five years in prison for child pornography offences. A former Vatican diplomat has been sentenced to five years in prison for child pornography offences. Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella pleaded guilty at a Vatican court, which heard that indecent images of children and a video were found on his mobile phone. He said he had suffered a personal crisis while working at the Vatican embassy in Washington DC. The priest was recalled from the US last year after authorities notified the Vatican of their suspicions. The US had asked that Capella's diplomatic immunity be lifted so he could face charges there. Canadian police later issued an arrest warrant for Capella, an Italian. The former diplomat will serve his sentence in the Vatican's small prison, and pay a fine of €5,000 (£4,400; $5,800). A prosecution witness told the court that an examination of the priest's personal devices revealed more than 40 incriminating images, including an explicit video involving a small child. The case is the latest allegation involving child sexual abuse to hit the Catholic Church. All of Chile's 34 bishops offered to resign in May following a child sex scandal and a cover up. Pope Francis has since accepted three of their resignations. Also in May, Australia convicted the archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, of concealing historic child sexual abuse in the 1970s. He has stepped aside from his duties but not resigned as archbishop. In 2013, the Holy See recalled and defrocked its envoy to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, and ordered he be tried for child sex offences. Wesolowski was found dead in 2015 before he could stand trial. A man considered the Church's third-ranked official, Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell, is due to go on trial in Australia on charges of historical sexual offences, which he denies.
6-22-18 Chileans shun church
A child sex abuse scandal that has dogged the Chilean Catholic Church for years has turned many Chileans away from the faith. The share of Chileans who identify as Catholic has plummeted from 61 percent eight years ago to 45 percent in 2017; even fewer—36 percent—say they now trust the church. That shift in support is largely a result of outrage over the case of Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of abusing dozens of minors over three decades. Pope Francis last week accepted the resignation of three bishops, including Juan Barros of Osorno, who was accused of witnessing and covering up Karadima’s abuse; 31 other Chilean bishops have offered Francis their resignation.
6-22-18 Drone footage of 'tent city' build to house children
The "tent city" in Tornillo, Texas can house up to 400 children. The BBC captured the first drone footage of the huge camp. (Webmaster's comment: The interior of the tents looks much like the interior of the barracks in the Auschwitz prison camp.)
6-22-18 Migrant children: Mum and seven-year-old reunited
After weeks apart, a mum has been reunited with her seven-year-old boy at Baltimore airport in the US. Beata Mariana Mejia Mejia and her son Darwin were separated as part of the "zero-tolerance" policy, which President Trump has since reversed. They crossed the US border in May and attempted to seek asylum after Ms Mejia said she had fled violence in Guatemala. But on arrival, Ms Mejia was taken into custody and Darwin was sent to a detention centre in Arizona. She plans to sue the US government, saying the separation violated her rights.
6-22-18 Poll watch
67% of Americans think separating children from migrants trying to enter the U.S. is “unacceptable,” including 90% of Democrats, 66% of independents, and 39% of Republicans. 36% of Republicans say it’s acceptable to separate parents and children. CBS News.
57% of Americans side with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his trade and tariffs dispute with President Trump. 37% support Trump’s actions.
6-22-18 Human rights
The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council this week in protest over the panel’s frequent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. In announcing the decision, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley denigrated the council as a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.” Haley cited the recent admission of Congo, where the government has been accused of exacerbating ethnic clashes that have led to the creation of mass graves, as well as the continued participation on the panel of countries such as Iran and Venezuela. Haley also accused the body of “chronic bias against Israel.” The Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions critical of Israel since 2006, more than for North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined. The Obama administration joined the body in 2009, a decision made under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Webmaster's comment: Expect more violations of human rights in the United States. Violating the rights of others is now an American trait. It's open season on anyone except America white males.)
6-22-18 Trump: Has the GOP become a personality cult?
The proof keeps pouring in, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com: “The Republican Party is devolving, at an accelerating speed, into a cult of Donald Trump.” In Tuesday’s primaries, at Trump’s last-minute urging, GOP voters rejected South Carolina’s Rep. Mark Sanford, a veteran conservative deemed insufficiently loyal to the president, and in Virginia they nominated Corey Stewart, a far-right white nationalist whose rabid devotion to President Trump outstrips even his love of the Confederacy. The Trump propagandists over at Fox News, meanwhile, have been plumbing new depths of Orwellian dishonesty in the service of the Dear Leader. Not only do Fox anchors daily echo the president’s baseless conspiracy theories about the Deep State and Bob Mueller’s “witch hunt,” but the network this week even attacked GOP Sen. Marco Rubio for the heresy of criticizing North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the vicious dictator upon whom Trump is suddenly “lavishing praise.” Republican voters simply shrug off blunders and scandals “that would have doomed prior presidents,” said David Weigel in WashingtonPost.com. As Republican Sen. Bob Corker put it, “It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it?” It sure is. With a staggering 90 percent of Republicans now approving of the president’s job performance, one of our major political parties is now united “not by fealty to ideas or policies but to a man.” It may already be too late, said Andrew Sullivan in NYMag.com. Trump has a cult leader’s talent for reshaping reality to conform to “his delusions,” which he insists upon “with extraordinary energy and stamina.” Many Republicans have simply lost interest in the ideas and principles that our politics used to be about, and have joined Trump in his “ludicrous reality show,” where the truth is whatever he says it is. They’re for whatever he’s for, “even if that means changing their minds on a dime.” Among Republicans, at least, Trump’s strength is growing. “The more people who call the emperor clothed, the harder it is to see him naked.” (Webmaster's comment: A cult of personality also led to the rise of Hitler in Germany.)
6-22-18 Trump: A fondness for authoritarians
“The evidence is now overwhelming that Trump cannot resist a dictator,” said Roger Cohen in The New York Times. During and after their summit in Singapore, the president lavished praise on Kim Jong Un, calling him “a very talented man” with a “great personality.” Asked about Kim’s atrocities—starving his people, executing anyone even suspected of disloyalty, and imprisoning an estimated 100,000 people in North Korean gulags—Trump said, “He’s a tough guy,” and praised his ability to keep the country under his control at such a young age. Trump added: “He loves his country very much.” When Trump went so far as to salute a North Korean general in Singapore, it occurred to me that “the president is envious of Kim” and his military dictatorship’s ability to control the North Korean press and jail people who dare challenge his authority. For the same reason, Trump has also gushed over Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Xi Jinping of China, and Vladimir Putin of Russia, while treating democratic allies like “a bunch of losers.” If there was any doubt of Trump’s envy of Kim, said Mike Allen in Axios.com, he dispelled it when he got back to the White House. In an interview on Fox News, Trump said Kim “speaks and his people sit up and pay attention. I want my people to do the same.” Later, Trump told incredulous reporters that he was “kidding” when he made that comment. Ha ha! What a dry sense of humor the president has. Whenever Trump meets with a thuggish foreign autocrat like Kim or Putin, said Mona Charen in NationalReview.com, the photos show him grinning happily. “Why is our president smiling?” He can’t mask his admiration. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is an authoritarian to the core! He can't wait to become the next Hitler!)
6-22-18 Why Roberts is afraid to rule
“The Supreme Court is now too frightened of public outcry to decide anything,” said Dahlia Lithwick. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the court’s decision this week to punt on two important partisan-gerrymandering cases involving Maryland and Wisconsin. During oral arguments in the Wisconsin case back in October, Chief Justice John Roberts openly fretted that he didn’t want the court to get involved in gerrymandering cases, because “we will have to decide in every case whether the Democrats win or the Republicans win.” The perception that the justices have partisan bias, he moaned, will “cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court.” Sure enough, the court has refused to rule on the two gerrymandering cases on technical, “standing” grounds. Clearly, Roberts is so afraid of public perception that he’d rather not decide whether it’s constitutional to create absurdly shaped election districts for blatantly partisan reasons. With the Mueller investigation and President Trump on a collision course, perhaps it is rational for the court “to save its powder” for the coming constitutional crisis. But it tells you a lot about the state of our country that the Supreme Court is so rattled it would rather not rule.
6-22-18 Affirmative action’s real victims
Asian-American students are being “penalized” for performing too well, said William McGurn. “In theory, only the white patriarchy loses from affirmative action,” but admissions policies designed to increase diversity by reducing the number of Asian-Americans are “blowing a big hole” in that assumption. Harvard has limited Asian-Americans to roughly 20 percent of its admissions for the past 25 years, despite a booming Asian-American population; if academics alone were considered, 43 percent of the university’s admissions would be Asian-American. A new lawsuit charges that Harvard illegally discriminates against Asian-Americans, just as the Ivy League “limited the admission of Jews” years ago. How? An analysis of 160,000 student records found that the university consistently rates Asian-American applicants lower on personality traits, thereby justifying their rejection. A similar prejudice is on display in New York City, where special public schools for high achievers admit students based on an exam. Asian-Americans perform exceptionally well on the test and thus are overrepresented, so Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to impose “de facto racial quotas.” That sends a “galling” message: “If you happen to be the wrong minority,” your “hard work and achievement” will be held against you.
6-22-18 Voting law defeated
A federal judge this week struck down a Kansas law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship, saying that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had failed to show evidence of widespread voter fraud. In 2011, Kansas lawmakers passed one of the strictest voting laws in the country, requiring people registering to vote to prove their citizenship with a birth certificate, passport, or other approved document. The American Civil Liberties Union sued over the law in 2016, arguing that it disenfranchised legal voters without access to the required documents. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sharply rebuked Kobach for his conduct during the trial. Robinson said Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor, flouted court rules by not disclosing evidence before the trial, and ordered him to complete six hours of legal education on the rules of evidence and procedure.
6-22-18 Weed is legal
Canada’s Senate voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this week, making Canada the second country in the world after Uruguay to fully legalize the drug. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made legalization a central plank of his 2015 election campaign. “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau said. “Today, we change that.” The federal government will regulate marijuana production, and under-18s will be prohibited from buying the drug. Anyone caught selling to minors could face up to 14 years in jail. The new legislation will come into force in October. Canada’s legal pot market is expected to be worth $5 billion.
6-22-18 Cannabis oil: what is it and does it really work as medicine?
The UK government is reviewing medicinal cannabis after two boys with severe epilepsy were withheld cannabis oil treatments. Here's everything you need to know. Cannabis is in the headlines for its potential medical benefits after the recent confiscation of cannabis oil medication from the mother of a 12-year-old British boy with severe epilepsy. The furore that ensued is shining a light on campaigns for cannabis oils to be made legal for medical reasons, and the UK government has now announced a review into the use of medicinal cannabis. Here’s what you need to know.
- What is cannabis oil? Cannabis oil is extracted from the cannabis plant Cannabis sativa.
- So can cannabis oil make you high? It depends on the THC content.
- Is it legal? That’s a complicated question. In the UK cannabidiol is legal.
- What is the evidence that cannabis oils can help treat epilepsy? Although there is some scientific evidence that THC has potential to control convulsions, its mind-altering effects mean that much of the focus has turned to cannabidiol – particularly for childhood epilepsies that conventional drugs fail to control.
- Are there any cannabis-based epilepsy drugs on the market? Not yet. In April the US Food and Drug Administration recommended the approval of a drug called Epidiolex for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
- Are cannabis-based medications available for other conditions? Yes. A synthetic version of THC called Nabilone has been used since the 1980s to treat nausea after chemotherapy and to help people put on weight.
6-21-18 Record-High 75% of Americans Say Immigration Is Good Thing
A record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities of all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S. -- up slightly from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing. The latest findings are based on a Gallup poll conducted June 1-13, a key time for immigration reform in the U.S. as the House of Representatives debates the issue. The House will vote this week on two pieces of legislation that address several key immigration policy reforms. Among them are the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally at a young age with their parents and the border wall that has been the cornerstone of President Donald Trump's immigration policy. At the same time, Trump has been under strong bipartisan pressure to amend the "zero-tolerance" policy that resulted in the separation from their parents of more than 2,000 children of migrants illegally crossing the U.S. border from Mexico in recent months. Trump bowed to the pressure on Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep children and their parents in the same location.
- Three-quarters of Americans think immigration is a good thing
- 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree
- 39% say immigration should be kept at present level, 28% say increased
6-21-18 Confusion reigns over fate of detained migrant children
The fate of hundreds of undocumented children taken from parents remains unclear a day after President Donald Trump moved to roll back his policy. He ordered on Wednesday that the children be held with their parents, who are jailed on criminal charges of crossing the border illegally. But under US law, migrant children cannot be detained more than 20 days by immigration officials. US officials have expressed mixed messages about what happens next. At least 2,300 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally since 5 May. While their mothers and fathers are held in custody pending court appearances, many of their children are being sent to holding cells, converted warehouses and desert tents. Missing are details on where exactly the families are to be detained and what might happen to them while new facilities are set up. It is unclear how long it will take for the policy to be rolled out. The New York Times reported that Gene Hamilton, a counsellor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, mentioned an "implementation phase". Mr Hamilton did not offer any other details about what border protection and human services officials would do next. If the administration wants to detain families together indefinitely, they will need Congress or the courts to change the existing rules. Undocumented children can be detained for no longer than 20 days by US immigration officials, under a 1997 court ruling. An official for a division of the US Department of Health said there would be no special effort made to reunite families already separated due to the "zero tolerance" policy. (Webmaster's comment: These children will be traumatized for years by the callousness of Americans!)
6-21-18 How Medicare for all could save the American health-care system
The American health-care Jenga tower is getting more wobbly by the minute. To fix the problem, leftists and even many liberals have been pushing Medicare for all as a reform that would finally cover everyone in the country. In response, people like President Trump, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and CNN's John Berman and Poppy Harlow have argued that Medicare for all is simply too expensive. "[S]ingle-payer will bankrupt our country," Trump has said. Meanwhile, just this week, House Republicans floated a plan to balance the budget by making massive cuts to social programs, Medicare included. This is the opposite of what we should be doing. To prevent the cancerous American health-care system from devouring the entire economy, Medicare for all — or something comparably simple and aggressive — is needed, pronto. But there is zero evidence that the United States is actually getting much of anything for all its gigantic spending. On the contrary, its health outcomes are middling to poor on most indicators, life expectancy is actually declining on average, and medical error is the third-most common cause of death — while at the same time, people are still being routinely bankrupted by medical bills due to lack of insurance, or out-of-network procedures, or even occasionally dying from lack of coverage. A number of diabetics have recently perished due to inability to afford insulin, the price of which has been driven through the roof by predatory manufacturers. In short, America is in the ludicrous position of flinging the equivalent of the entire economic output of Indonesia (population: 260 million) at its health-care system and still people are dying for the lack of $50 worth of 100-year-old commodity medications.
6-20-18 Children seized at US border will face lasting health effects
The psychological and physical effects of serious trauma are likely to impact the children being separated from their families at the US border for years. The Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration has led to families being separated at the US-Mexico border. Adults, including those seeking asylum, are criminally prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, and as a result their children are taken away from them to government-run shelters. Images and audio recordings have painted a grim picture of what it’s like inside the detention centres. 2342 children have been separated from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9, according to government officials. We don’t know how long they will be kept there, but what we do know is that the experience is likely to have long term physical and mental effects. The biggest will likely come from stress. “These families have left a country with high levels of violence and strife. That’s already traumatic, and this is adding insult to injury,” says Charles Nelson at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The child probably already has a hyperactive stress response, they’re on high alert, and now they’re in a situation with crowding, depersonalisation, uncertainty and feelings of hopelessness.” Over time, the stress response can reshape how well neural pathways and the immune system operate. “There is wear and tear on the body if these stressors continue. Stress hormone receptors in the brain start getting oversaturated, and that can become toxic to the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory,” Nelson says. (Webmaster's comment: All due to the total lack of concern for children by Jeff Session and Donald Trump!)
6-20-18 Splitting families may end, but migrant kids’ trauma needs to be studied
Faced with a growing outcry against separating migrant children from their families at the U.S. border — including this statement from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — President Trump reversed course June 20 and issued an executive order aimed at keeping detained families together. Scientists, armed with evidence that traumatic events early in life can have dire consequences, had joined lawmakers, public health advocates and concerned citizens to object to the immigration policy. In recent weeks, 2,342 children have been removed from their asylum-seeking families, many held in institutional settings such as a Walmart–turned–children’s shelter and a newly erected tent city. Traumatic events early in life have been linked to altered brain development and a wide range of poor health outcomes, including mental, emotional and social disorders, as well as an increased risk of suicide. But for reasons that neuroscientists are still puzzling over, some children are astonishingly resilient after trauma. Despite these scientific clues, it’s unclear how these forced separations will affect any given child. Existing studies of childhood trauma have focused on children in slightly different circumstances, such as institutionalized Romanian orphans. Monitoring the children separated from their families at the southern U.S. border will be important, says Julie Linton, a pediatrician in Winston-Salem, N.C., who is cochair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Immigrant Health Special Interest Group. Linton coauthored a recent AAP statement condemning the detention of immigrant children.
6-20-18 The health impact of separating migrant children from parents
Paediatric and child trauma experts are sounding the alarm that separating migrant children from their parents at the US border can cause serious physical and psychological damage. As more stories emerge about children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and the US, doctors and scientists are warning that there could be long-term, irreversible health impacts on children if they're not swiftly reunited. The head of the American Academy of Pediatrics went so far as to call the policy "child abuse" and against "everything we stand for as paediatricians". "This is completely ridiculous and I'm approaching that not as someone who's taking a position in the politics, but as a scientist," says Charles A Nelson III, a professor of paediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. "We just know the science does not support that this is good for kids." From mid-April to May this year, the US Department of Homeland Security says it has separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents, after the families crossed the border into the US. The adults are being jailed and prosecuted for illegal border crossing under a new "zero-tolerance" policy enacted by the Trump administration, while their children are moved into shelters overseen by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. May figures from the Department of Health and Human Services show children are being held an average of 57 days, but there have been reports of months-long separations and parents deported back across the border without knowing where their children are located. However, paediatric health care professionals say that just because the children are well-fed and physically safe doesn't address the risk of long-term negative impacts on their immune systems, the development of their brains and even the shape of their personalities. "The only times we do this is in a child welfare system when the child is in imminent harm," says Chandra Ghosh Ippen, associate director of the Child Trauma Research Program. "We're causing irreparable harm when it's not necessary."
6-20-18 Trump's America: Smaller, meaner, and increasingly unexceptional
The Trump administration believes the laws of human decency do not apply to it. In a profound break with the nation's ideals, the White House has made it the policy of the U.S. government to deliberately break up families seeking refuge at the southern border. This has led to the horrific practice of government-sanctioned kidnapping of over 2,000 children who have been taken from their parents and warehoused alone in detention centers, crying out for their families. In the face of an international outcry, the president doubled down, arguing that these children must bear the brunt of his xenophobic crusade against an onslaught of Mexican rapists and criminals. "They could be murderers and thieves and so much else," Trump claimed once again. "We want a safe country, and it starts with the borders, and that's the way it is." Yes, "that's the way it is" in Trump's America — a sign of how far the United States has fallen under his administration. For a country that has always thought of itself as exceptional, Trump has reshaped it into a moral mediocrity. The notion of "American exceptionalism" has been a powerful force in U.S. politics for the better part of 200 years. It's an idea that has been repurposed to suit different ideological projects, but it generally stands for the belief that America should be a beacon of liberty and democracy across the world. At a glance, Trump's flag-hugging jingoism would seem to fit this mold. His movement's various maxims — "Make America Great Again," "AMERICA FIRST!," and the latest and crudest, "We're America, Bitch" — all vow to restore the country to a supposedly bygone era of dominance and glory. But a big part of what made America truly exceptional was its tradition of serving as a sanctuary for the world's downtrodden and oppressed. (Webmaster's comment: Not anymore!) The United States has had its fair share of anti-immigrant politics, but at its best, the country promises to take in those ravaged by war, poverty, and violence and forge a community defined not by ethnic heritage or birthplace, but by a commitment to common values.
6-20-18 Fight Trump's family separation policy. Don't lose your mind in the process.
The Trump administration's policy of separating families at the nation's southern border is wildly unpopular, with roughly two-thirds of the country opposing it and a barely more than a quarter supporting it. And among the country's intellectual and political elite, opposition to the policy seems almost unanimous. However, the word "opposition" doesn't quite capture the prevailing sentiment. More accurate would be furious disgust, white-hot outrage, and sputtering indignation. Coverage of the policy and its human consequences is everywhere, serving as wallpaper online and on the editorial and op-ed pages of the nation's leading newspapers. When members of the administration offer (contradictory) accounts and defenses of the policy, the reaction is instantaneous and ferocious. People see evil, and they're rousing themselves to fight it, 24/7, promoting every story about forced separation of families, every photo of teenagers mulling about inside chain-link cages, every video of reporters trying to get inside a detention center, every heart-wrenching recording of children crying for their missing mothers and fathers. That's understandable. The policy is horrible — thoroughly heartless and blatantly cruel, using young children as a deterrent to those contemplating emigration to the U.S., treating them as bargaining chips or hostages to gain an advantage in negotiations with Congress, and making a mockery of the GOP's pretense to be a pro-family party. It's also indisputably an expression of an administration motivated by racism and an unquenchable enthusiasm to pander to racists, as the president proved yet again with a Tuesday morning tweet that claimed that Democrats favor immigration because they want foreigners to "infest our Country." For all of these reasons, family separation should be ended immediately.
6-20-18 Americans Oppose Border Walls, Favor Dealing With DACA
The majority of Americans (57%) oppose expanding the construction of walls along the nation's Southern border, a centerpiece of President Donald Trump's proposed immigration-related policies. At the same time, a large majority of Americans favor allowing immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to have a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Both proposals are included in at least one of the two Republican-sponsored bills the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote on this week. Americans also modestly oppose the idea of ending the policy of allowing immigrants who are legally in the U.S. to sponsor relatives to move to the country. Slightly more favor than oppose banning "sanctuary cities."
- 41% favor expanding construction of walls along U.S.-Mexico border
- 83% approve of allowing DACA immigrants to become citizens
- Republicans, Democrats agree on DACA, disagree on walls
6-20-18 Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen booed at Mexican restaurant
Protesters have barracked a Trump administration official as she dined at a Mexican restaurant in Washington DC. The activists heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at the eatery near the White House. The Trump administration is facing international pressure to drop its new policy of taking migrant children from their parents. They include babies and toddlers sent to three "tender age" shelters, the Associated Press news agency reports. The Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America claimed responsibility for Tuesday evening's protest against the homeland security secretary.
6-20-18 Microsoft staff demand firm ends Border Patrol contract
A letter signed by more than 100 Microsoft employees has called on it to stop working with the US Border Patrol. The call comes as the Trump administration faces intense criticism over the separation of children from their families at the Mexican border. The letter, posted on an internal message board and published by the New York Times, said the employees "refuse to be complicit”. Microsoft has shared a response penned by its chief executive Satya Nadella. "I am appalled at the abhorrent policy of separating immigrant children from their families," he wrote. "This new policy implemented on the border is simply cruel and abusive, and we are standing for change. "I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the US government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border." However, the company does have a $19.4m (£14.7m) contract with the US Immigration, Customs and Enforcement agency, known as ICE. Mr Nadella said this was to support tasks involving email, calendar, messaging and document management. In January, Microsoft posted information about how its cloud computing platform, Azure, was being used to facilitate data “security and compliance”. The post read: “We're proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.” The signees of the letter to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella demand the company ends this association with ICE, and "other clients who directly enable ICE”. Their efforts chime with the thoughts being expressed by employees at many of Silicon Valley’s top firms. On Tuesday, some of the region’s top chief executives made statements on the issue.
6-20-18 US quits 'biased' UN human rights council
The US has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a "cesspool of political bias". Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, said it was a "hypocritical" body that "makes a mockery of human rights". Formed in 2006, the Geneva-based council has faced criticism in the past for allowing member countries with questionable human rights records. But activists said the US move could hurt efforts to monitor and address human rights abuses around the world. Announcing the decision to quit the council, Ms Haley described the council as a "hypocritical and self-serving organisation" that displayed "unending hostility towards Israel". She was speaking alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who denounced the council as "a protector of human rights abusers". The UN Secretary-General António Guterres responded to the US decision to quit the council by saying he would have "much preferred" the US to remain a member. The UN's human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called the US withdrawal "disappointing, if not really surprising, news". Israel, meanwhile, praised the decision. (Webmaster's comment: The only question is what human rights of US citizens will the new authoritarian government of the United States violate next.)
6-20-18 Canada's parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.
Canada's parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide. The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold. Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September. The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug's recreational use. Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013, while a number of US states have also voted to permit it. Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001. The bill will likely receive Royal Assent this week, and the government will then choose an official date when the law will come into force. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that until now, "it's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits".
6-19-18 US migrant children cry for separated parents on audio
An audio recording in which migrant children in the US can be heard crying for their parents has been released as US President Donald Trump remains defiant over his immigration policy. Some 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents in the past few months after their families tried to cross the US border illegally. Mr Trump said he would not allow the US to become a "migrant camp". The UN high commissioner for refugees says the policy is "unacceptable". The recording was released by investigative US media outlet ProPublica on Monday, and was said to have been made from inside a US customs and border protection facility. In it, several Central American children separated from their parents and thought to be aged between four and 10 can be heard sobbing and wailing, and calling for their mother or father. One border patrol agent can be heard saying: "We have an orchestra here. What's missing is a conductor." The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has told the BBC the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy towards illegal immigration is unacceptable. "It is absolutely wrong to separate children from their families in any circumstances and particularly when people are in distress as, for example, people that are fleeing from violence and persecution, as is the case for people in Central America," he said. "So, we are advising the government of the United States that this is not the right way to handle that particular phenomenon of people seeking asylum across the border." Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border between mid-April and the end of May. As a result, hundreds of children are being housed in detention centres, including warehouses and converted supermarkets. Images from some of the border camps show children being held in caged areas separated by chain-link fencing. Officials have also announced plans to erect tent cities that will hold hundreds more children in the Texas desert where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F). (Webmaster's comment: On the audio prison camp guards can be heard teasing the children about their crying! MONSTERS!!!)
6-19-18 Sessions: Child migrant camps 'not like Nazi concentration camps'
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rejected claims US holding centres for child migrants separated from parents are like Nazi concentration camps. America's top law official told Fox News the "zero tolerance" policy was about enforcing border security. President Donald Trump is meeting Republican lawmakers later to discuss a bill that proposes to end the policy. US immigration officials say 2,342 children have been separated from 2,206 parents from 5 May to 9 June. The Department of Justice chief said: "Well, it's a real exaggeration, of course. "In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country." Mr Sessions said: "Fundamentally, we are enforcing the law. Hopefully people will get the message and not break across the border unlawfully." Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham said the detention centres were "essentially summer camps" for migrant children. (Webmaster's comment: What a joke! No SUMMER CAMP keeps children in steel and wire cages!)US First Lady Melania Trump and four of her predecessors are among critics of the policy. Laura Bush said the detention centres reminded her of internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held during the Second World War.
6-19-18 Reality Check: Who decided to take away children at the US border?
The claim: US President Donald Trump says the Democrats created a law that separates children from parents who cross the US-Mexico border illegally.
Verdict: There is no law on separating children from parents at the border, but rather a policy introduced recently by the Trump administration. The policy has led to 1,995 children being separated from families at the border between 19 April and 31 May, in addition to a further 700 children since October 2017. Changes under Mr Trump's Zero-Tolerance Policy include expediting the process to determine eligibility to remain, promptly removing those who are denied, and criminally prosecuting migrants for first-time border offences, which were previously treated as civil violations. Because the children of prosecuted migrants are not charged with any crime, they are not permitted to be jailed with their parents. But in addition to removing children from apprehended illegal migrants, children have been separated from asylum-seekers. Seeking asylum is not illegal. The president blamed Democrats for the policy. In May, he urged putting "pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children (from) their parents once they cross the Border in the US". On 16 June, he tweeted "Democrats can fix their forced family break-up at the border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!" and two days later accused the Democrats of being "weak and ineffective" with border security. There is no law that mandates separating children from parents who cross the border illegally.
6-19-18 Time to end the cruel ban on using cannabis therapy for epilepsy
Ill-conceived and outdated drug laws in the UK are denying children with severe epilepsy vital medicinal cannabis treatments. That must change, says David Nutt. The heartbreaking stories of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley highlight the ridiculous and cruel situation that parents of children with severe epilepsy are put in by the UK’s outmoded policy on cannabis medicines. Parents of both boys say cannabis oil is crucial to controlling fits but have faced official prohibition, including confiscation. Only now are government ministers talking about a rethink. This is a long-running injustice. Cannabis was a medicine in the UK until 1971 when it was made illegal by the Misuse of Drugs Act. The reason given was that cannabis was becoming a drug of misuse and that two London GPs campaigning for its recreational legalisation were prescribing it with the intent that patients smoke it for pleasure. The GPs were, quite reasonably, struck off, but the enduring ban on cannabis is problematic for two reasons. First, it failed to reduce cannabis use, because in the decades since the ban the number of cannabis users has increased over 20-fold. Second, it severely impeded clinical research. There is a lot of evidence from other countries that cannabis preparations can have a wide range of therapeutic effects, including in some forms of previously intractable epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome. The ban on cannabis has effectively stopped UK clinical research on this anti-epilepsy effect despite significant breakthroughs in UK pre-clinical research on the cannabis extract THCV – a powerful anti-epilepsy agent that has no psychoactive activity but for historical reasons falls foul of the act.
6-18-18 US child migrants: First ladies speak out on Trump separation policy
The former US First Lady Laura Bush has condemned a controversial policy that splits up families who illegally enter the country at the Mexican border. Writing in the Washington Post newspaper, she describes the separation of children from their parents as cruel, immoral and heart-breaking. Her comments follow growing controversy over President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Earlier Melania Trump made a rare statement expressing concern. Mrs Trump "hates to see children separated from their families", her spokeswoman said. She repeated her husband's call for "both sides" to work on immigration reform as a solution. However, fact-checkers point out that the policy was introduced by Mr Trump's attorney general and does not require congressional action to be stopped. In a recent six-week period there were nearly 2,000 family separations following a crackdown on illegal border crossings. Adults who try to cross the border outside of official entry points - many planning to seek asylum - are placed in custody and face criminal prosecution for illegal entry. As a result, hundreds of children and babies are now being housed in detention centres, including warehouses and converted supermarkets, and kept away from their parents. Laura Bush, wife of the former Republican President George W Bush and a Texas resident, launched an outspoken attack on the policy. "This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart," she wrote in the Washington Post. "Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert." "These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War Two, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history," she added. (Webmaster's comment: They will become child death camps! Right out of Nazi Germany! White Male Supremacists are loving it!)
6-18-18 Trump migrant separation policy: Children 'in cages' in Texas
Reporters and Democratic lawmakers have been allowed inside a detention centre that lies at the heart of a growing storm over a new US policy separating migrant children from their parents. Authorities did not allow photos or videos to be taken inside the centre, but US Customs and Border Protection later released several images. Former First Lady Laura Bush has compared it to the internment camps used for Japanese-Americans during World War Two. A Democratic congressman who visited the site said it was "nothing short of a prison". The Texas facility is known as Ursula, though immigrants are reportedly calling it La Perrera - dog kennel in Spanish - in reference to the cages used to hold children and adults who have ended up there after crossing the border from Mexico illegally. "One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips [crisps] and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets," the Associated Press reports. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley led the team of lawmakers to the site in the town of McAllen on Sunday. He hit the headlines earlier this month when he was turned away from another facility housing some 1,500 boys in a disused Walmart store. Speaking to CNN after the visit to Ursula, he said: "In wire-mesh, chain linked cages that are about 30x30 [feet], a lot of young folks put into them. "I must say though, far fewer than I was here two weeks ago. I was told that buses full (of children) were taken away before I arrived. "That was one of my concerns, that essentially, when you have to give lengthy notice, you end up a little bit of a show rather than seeing what's really going on in these centres." Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and Vermont Congressman Peter Welch expressed shock and anger over the conditions they saw! (Webmaster's comment: As should we all!)
6-18-18 'Mama, papa. I do not want to be alone.'
The Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy for border crossings has resulted in the forced separation of hundreds and parents and children. Here is one 5-year-old boy's story. en he landed in Michigan in late May, all the weary little boy carried was a trash bag stuffed with dirty clothes from his days-long trek across Mexico, and two small pieces of paper — one a stick-figure drawing of his family from Honduras, the other a sketch of his father, who had been arrested and led away after they arrived at the U.S. border in El Paso. A U.S. government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride "home." The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into "just moaning and moaning," said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow. José's separation from his father is part of the Trump administration's latest and most widely debated border enforcement policy. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crossed the border illegally, a directive that is already leading to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and channeling children into shelters and foster homes across the country. The goal, according to administration officials, is to discourage Central American families from making the perilous journey to the United States' southwest border, where they have been arriving in swelling numbers this year to claim asylum. In just the first two weeks under President Trump's new policy, 638 parents who arrived with 658 children were prosecuted, administration officials told Congress. Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, emphasized that separating families was not the aim but merely the effect of a decision to step up prosecutions of those who cross the border illegally. "We do not have a policy to separate children from their parents. Our policy is, if you break the law we will prosecute you," she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 15. She said the Trump administration is doing a better job than its predecessors in ensuring that migrant children are placed with sponsors who are carefully screened. "We can make sure that the children go to people who are actually family members and who are not traffickers and who won't abuse them," she said. (Webmaster's comment: What a crock of lies! Over 1,400 of these children have been lost. Who knows what evil has been done to them.)
6-18-18 What the Bible really says about government
The internet exploded in fury recently when Attorney General Jeff Sessions quoted the Bible to defend his policies in separating migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order," Sessions said, when defending President Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful." The passage in question, chapter 13 of the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans, reads, in part: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." Some people, mostly secularists unfamiliar with the Bible, took the passage to mean that Christians should just obey any government, no matter how awful. Other people, mainly Christians, argued that Sessions is full of it, because the Bible clearly preaches an open-door immigration policy. They're both wrong. And it's important to understand why. The Bible is a tricky text to interpret. Some people think this is because it's a grab bag of various texts from many centuries; you can make that argument, but there's no important text from human history that is straightforward to interpret, probably because otherwise, people wouldn't find them so interesting, and they wouldn't tell us interesting things about this messy reality we inhabit. The Bible is unclear, but so are Plato's dialogues, Shakespeare's plays, and the Constitution of the United States.
6-18-18 Zero-tolerance: The US policy dividing families and opinion
Lawmakers and the public gathered on Father's Day to contest the policy which splits up families at the US border.
6-18-18 Inside Tunisia's Shams Rad - the Arab world's 'only gay radio station'
Homosexuality is both illegal and widely considered to be unacceptable in Tunisia. But since the 2011 revolution, activists have seen that standing up for their beliefs can result in change. Now LGBT people are gaining confidence and are coming out of the shadows to push for equal rights. "I was the first person to annoy people in the media and speak openly about LGBT issues in Tunisia on air," says Bouhdid Belhedi, director of Shams Rad. In the Tunisian capital, Tunis, the 25-year-old shows us around an office space that has been converted into what he calls "the Arab world's first LGBT radio station". It is low budget but professional, with enough space for seven contributors. The corridors are painted in the colours of the LGBT rainbow flag. Mr Belhedi says that six months after the station was set up, it has 10,000 listeners each week across 15 countries, and is streamed online and live via YouTube six days a week. The station plays music and issues are discussed in depth but LGBT contributors don't identify themselves as sexually active on air. The Dutch embassy in Tunis is partly funding the station and after international pressure and a legal challenge, the station's parent organisation, Shams, was officially recognised. This is believed to be the first time any LGBT group has gained this status in North Africa. When the station started, Western media attention focused on the abuse Mr Belhedi was receiving. People are angry the station exists. Mr Belhedi says he has received 4,700 messages of abuse, including death threats and "even imams calling for me to be to be killed or beaten up". He has also been physically assaulted. Gay and lesbian sex is punishable by up to three years in prison in Tunisia and it was only last year that the government said it would stop forced anal examinations for people suspected of homosexuality.
6-15-18 Tent cities
The Trump administration is considering whether to build tent cities at military bases in Texas in order to house migrant children who cross the border illegally. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services plan to visit Fort Bliss, an Army base near El Paso, within the next few weeks to look at land that could be used for structures to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children. Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo are also being considered for shelters. The number of migrant children held in custody has increased more than 20 percent since April, when the Justice Department began its “zero tolerance” policy of separating children and parents at the border. The Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS is now caring for 11,200 migrant children. The agency’s roughly 100 shelters are 95 percent full.
6-15-18 Asylum crackdown
Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week made it virtually impossible for asylum seekers citing fears of domestic abuse or gang violence to enter the U.S., in a ruling that could affect thousands of migrants from Central America. Invoking a seldom-used authority, Sessions reversed a 2016 immigration appeals court ruling that granted asylum to a Salvadoran woman who’d suffered years of abuse by her ex-husband. Asylum claims should not apply to victims of “private violence,” Sessions said. The ruling could invalidate tens of thousands of pending asylum claims by women, children, and men in the U.S., who now must prove that their home country is unable or unwilling to protect them. “Women and children will die as a result of these policies,” said Michelle Brané, an immigration rights activist. Sessions said the guidelines would help immigration courts work through a backlog of 700,000 cases.
6-15-18 No more core democratic values
Conservative lawmakers have stripped Michigan’s social studies curriculum of any reference to civil rights, climate change, or “core democratic values.” State Sen. Patrick Colbeck said these phrases are “not politically neutral.” Other references removed include Roe v. Wade, the NAACP, and gay rights. Students will be taught that “the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms of others.”
6-15-18 SCOTUS upholds Ohio voter purges
The Supreme Court this week upheld an Ohio law that effectively allows the state to purge its voter registration rolls of citizens who haven’t voted in recent elections, handing a victory to Republicans who have championed stricter voting requirements. The court voted 5 to 4, with conservative justices in the majority. Federal law prohibits states from removing people from voting rolls simply for not voting, but state officials are allowed to confirm the eligibility of voters they suspect have moved. Ohio sends notices to voters who skip a single election asking them to confirm their eligibility. If they don’t respond and don’t vote within the next four years, their names are purged. Critics have argued the law unfairly affects minority and low-income voters.
6-15-18 Suicide: America’s hidden epidemic
Suicides of famous, successful people are always “transfixing,” said Andrew Solomon in NewYorker.com. When world-beaters like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain take their own lives, “it assures the rest of us that a life of accolades is not all that it’s cracked up to be,” but also forces us to wonder, “How can our more ordinary lives hold up?” The despair and hopelessness that afflicted Spade and Bourdain are far too common: We are currently living through a “catastrophic escalation” in suicide rates that afflicts every level of U.S. society. In a grim coincidence, the Centers for Disease Control chose last week to release a sobering new study on suicide, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Since 1999, suicide rates in the U.S. have risen by 28 percent. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for young people, and the 10th-leading cause of death overall, with nearly 45,000 Americans dying by their own hand in 2016. This heartbreaking week should serve as a “wake-up call” about what has become a national epidemic; we must start to treat suicide “like the public health crisis it is.” These figures are “a profound indictment of the country’s mental health system,” said Benedict Carey in NYTimes.com. “Treatment for chronic depression and anxiety—often the precursors to suicide—has never been more available and more widespread,” yet somehow help isn’t reaching the people who need it in time. There often isn’t much time, said The Sacramento Bee in an editorial. Research on people who survive suicide attempts indicates that in 70 percent of cases, less than an hour passes between the idea of killing oneself and the attempt. In 25 percent, it’s less than five minutes. Most survivors said they deeply regret their attempts, and 90 percent were alive more than 25 years later. More of these “impulsive acts” would be survived if guns—the most effective means of self-execution—weren’t so freely available.
6-15-18 Lockdown, lockdown, Lock the door/Shut the lights off, Say no more/Go behind the desk and hide.
A Massachusetts school is teaching kindergarten students a new nursery rhyme that includes the lines “Lockdown, lockdown, Lock the door/Shut the lights off, Say no more/Go behind the desk and hide.” Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper said even 5-year-olds must be prepared. “Unfortunately, this is the world we live in.”
6-17-18 New Jersey arts festival: One shooter dead, 20 injured
At least 20 people, including a 13-year-old boy, were injured in a gun attack at an all-night arts festival in Trenton, in the US state of New Jersey. Police say at least two men opened fire at around 03:00 local time (07:00 GMT) as 1,000 people were enjoying the local art, music and food. One of the suspects, a 33-year-old man, was shot dead and another is in custody, a local prosecutor said. Four of the injured, including the teenager, are in a critical condition. Angelo Nicolo was attending the event with his brother. He told US media that they heard loud popping sounds and people started running down the street. "I saw two police officers escort a guy that got shot in the leg. They bandaged him up and whisked him away," Mr Nicolo said. This was the 12th year of the Trenton Art All Night Festival, an event that raises money for local artists. It began on Saturday afternoon and was due to run until Sunday afternoon, but has now been cancelled. (Webmaster's comment: The current average mental ability of the America people has fallen below that of 7th graders. You put easy to use mass murder weapons in hands of mental 6th and 7th graders and this is exactly what you will get!)
6-15-18 Why the US is separating migrant children from their parents
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border with Mexico, a measure that has faced increasing criticism. The "zero-tolerance" policy he announced last month sees adults who try to cross the border, many planning to seek asylum, being placed in custody and facing criminal prosecution for illegal entry. As a result, hundreds of minors are now being housed in detention centres, and kept away from their parents. Over a recent six-week period, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border, figures released on Friday said. Mr Sessions said those entering the US irregularly would be criminally prosecuted, a change to a long-standing policy of charging most of those crossing for the first time with a misdemeanour offence. As the adults are being charged with a crime, the children that come with them are being separated and deemed unaccompanied minors. Advocates of separations point out that hundreds of children are taken from parents who commit crimes in the US on a daily basis. As such, they are placed in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and sent to a relative, foster home or a shelter - officials at those places are said to be already running out of space to house them. In recent days, a former Walmart in Texas has been converted into a detention centre for immigrant children. Officials have also announced plans to erect tent cities to hold hundreds more children in the Texas desert where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F). (Webmaster's comment: Many of the children will die there which is the whole idea!) Local lawmaker Jose Rodriguez described the plan as "totally inhumane" and "outrageous", adding: "It should be condemned by anyone who has a moral sense of responsibility." US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials estimate that around 1,500 people are arrested each day for illegally crossing the border. (Webmaster's comment: Government agents have been observed tearing children away from their mothers while they were breast feeding them! United States has become a nation of immoral evil as bad as Nazi Germany was!)
6-15-18 US child migrants: 2,000 separated from families in six weeks
Almost 2,000 migrant children were separated from their families at the US border over six weeks, officials say. Following a Trump administration crackdown on illegal border crossings from Mexico, adults are being detained, meaning the children with them are removed from their care. The issue is causing a growing political storm in the US. On Thursday Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to defend the "zero tolerance" approach. It means that those entering the US irregularly are criminally prosecuted, a change to a long-standing policy of charging most of those crossing for the first time with a misdemeanour offence.As the adults are being charged with a crime and detained, the children that travel with them are being separated and classed as unaccompanied minors. (Webmaster's comment: And how many of these children are then lost and being sold for child sex prostitution or sold for body parts.) The children are passed into the care of the US Department of Health and Human Services. They are transferred to government detention facilities or foster care while officials try to resolve their case. The United Nations has called on the US to immediately halt the separations. Mr Sessions said having children would not shield border-crossing migrants from prosecution. The attorney general quoted a verse from St Paul's Letter to the Romans on obeying the laws of government. Critics say that verse was once used to justify slavery. (Webmaster's comment: What the people in government and Jeff Sessions is doing is criminal and a great evil and they love doing it!)
6-15-18 Canada's Supreme Court rules LGBT rights trump religious freedom
Canada's top court has ruled in favour of denying accreditation to a Christian law school that banned students from having gay sex.. Friday's ruling against Trinity Western University in British Columbia was closely watched by both religious freedom and gay rights advocates. The university made students promise not to have extra-marital or gay sex. The Supreme Court found that protecting LGBT students from discrimination trumped religious freedom. The evangelical university opened its law school in 2013, and applied for accreditation in every province so that its students could be called to the bar anywhere in Canada. Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia law societies denied the school accreditation, on the grounds that it required all students to sign a covenant binding them to a code of conduct which banned sex outside the confines of heterosexual marriage. Lower courts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia sided with the university, but Ontario sided with the law society and upheld the organisation's right to deny the school accreditation. The case went all the way to Canada's top court, and the ruling was viewed as a key victory for LGBT rights advocates. The court found that supporting diversity in Canada's legal profession, and protecting the safety of LGBT students, was more important than the school's right to religious freedom.
6-15-18 Attorney General Jeff Sessions quotes Bible to defend immigration policies
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been criticised for citing Bible scripture to back up the Trump administration's immigration policy. At an event in Indiana, Mr Sessions was defending the practice of separating undocumented immigrant families apprehended at the border. He quoted the New Testament and said having children does not shield border-crossing migrants from prosecution. The Bible verse was once used to justify US slavery, said critics. Mr Sessions said on Thursday: "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. (Webmaster's comment: Next he will be quoting "Slaves, Obey Your Masters" from the bible.) "Our policy that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified." White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders would not comment directly on Mr Sessions' remarks, but added "it's very biblical to enforce the law". In the House, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi attacked the separations as a "barbaric" policy that "has to stop." The Trump administration policy is supported by some Republicans, but others have expressed misgivings. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Congress' highest-ranking Republican, was asked if he was comfortable with the tactics. "No I am not," he responded. "We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation. "We don't want kids to be separated from their parents."
6-15-18 US lawmaker calls immigration 'existential threat to US'
A Republican lawmaker from the US state of Arizona is facing criticism for calling immigration an "existential threat" to the country. Congressman David Stringer also said "there aren't enough white kids to go around" while speaking about racial integration in public schools. His controversial remarks drew immediate ire from both Democrats and Republicans. The Arizona Republican Party asked Mr Stringer to step down on Thursday. Mr Stringer made his comments while speaking at a Republican Men's Forum in Yavapai County, Arizona. "Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities," Mr Stringer said. "That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around." "Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this. I'm very concerned about this," Mr Stringer continued. "Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States. "If we don't do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and it will be a very different country and it will not be the country you were born into." David Schapira, Democratic candidate for superintendent of Arizona's public schools, shared a clip of these remarks on Twitter, and the post quickly went viral. "It's time to remove xenophobic radicals from elected office," Mr Schapira wrote. "We deserve leaders who understand we're a nation of immigrants." Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Lines released a statement condemning Mr Stringer's views. "In light of today's reports detailing Representative David Stringer's comments, I am calling on him to resign immediately," Mr Lines said in a statement.
6-14-18 Is research in jails the way to end wars over dietary guidance?
US researchers say studies in prisons could firm up evidence on salt intake and health. The doubters will still doubt, say Mike Lean and Alastair Campbell. The science of nutrition has been with us for a long time. So why are there so many apparent uncertainties over dietary advice today? The nutrients in our food may have inherent effects on metabolism, but proving so requires tightly controlled experiments in lab-like conditions that are difficult to conduct in groups of healthy people. Evaluating how diet influences diseases or defining the optimal diet for good health, where effects are small and long-term, can only occasionally be done under such conditions. Instead, most dietary studies involve large-scale observational research to identify associations – whether causal or not – between health and what we eat and drink, and research on the impact of dietary advice in people going about their daily lives. The problem is that adherence with dietary prescriptions is rarely perfect and many other factors can interfere to produce indecisive or conflicting results. Dietary guidelines can be issued only if the totality of evidence, including that from animal studies in which full control is possible, is sufficiently consistent. So how to provide more of the stronger, lab-like evidence? Some US researchers have come up with one possible way to resolve any remaining uncertainty about the harmful effects of dietary salt on blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. They suggest studying prisoners, whose diets and activity could be tightly controlled for long periods. Using prisoners in medical research is highly contentious, not just because of the appalling experiments on Nazi concentration camp inmates and Japan’s Chinese POWs during the second world war, but also because of inherent ethical and scientific problems. These include selection bias, uncertainties about the validity of consent in such a vulnerable group, the risks of harm from other inmates resenting their perceived preferential treatment, and the prevalence of mental health problems, concealed substance abuse and volatile behaviour among prison populations.
6-12-18 There is no constitutional right to vote. There should be.
You have no constitutional right to vote. Such a bald statement undoubtedly will come as a surprise to some readers, who may have thought that voting is pretty fundamental to a democracy. And indeed there are a variety of places where the Constitution presumes such a right. The 15th amendment forbids abridgment of that right on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The 19th forbids abridgment on account of sex; the 24th on account of failure to pay a poll tax; and the 26th on account of age if the person in question is at least 18 years old. And Article IV of the Constitution requires the United States to guarantee to every state a republican form of government, which surely means that no state can do away with voting altogether. Moreover, the United States Congress has repeatedly enacted legislation to prevent voter disenfranchisement. The best-known such law was the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, but further efforts to protect and expand the franchise were enacted through the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), which explicitly aimed to increase voter registration and generally ease participation in elections. All of these constitutional provisions and subsequent legislation appear as if they were built on a right that lies at the foundation of our constitutional order. But that is not the case. The foundation simply isn't there. While the right to vote is presumed in a variety of ways, and, if it exists, may not be infringed for a variety of reasons, the right itself is never specified as such.
6-12-18 The maligning of early Christianity
ristianity is, if nothing else, one of the most successful cultural phenomenons in all of human history, and still powerfully shapes the world. But in many ways, this is happening reactively in much of the secular West, where a major plank of the Enlightenment sought to use history to show that Christianity represented a steep decline in our history. This anti-Christianity revisionism is basically political propaganda. As George Orwell pointed out so masterfully, you can change how people think if you can change their vocabulary. A term like "the Middle Ages" is meant to imply that a thousand years of European history was basically just an ellipses between antiquity and "the Renaissance," a loaded term if there ever was one, when it was only the "rediscovery" of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy — which had been suppressed by fundamentalist Christians — that enabled the start of a "new age" of "rationality" and "free inquiry." Even if we didn't pay much attention in history class, we're all familiar with this narrative, because it's everywhere. The ancient world, we are told, was tolerant, open-minded, and believed in philosophy and free inquiry, and the advent of Christianity ruined all of that. You can find this narrative in countless works of popular culture. The latest salvo is a book by the historian Catherine Nixon whose title, The Darkening Age, speaks volumes. As a review in The New York Times puts it, Nixon casts the early Christian church as "a master of anti-intellectualism, iconoclasm, and mortal prejudice." (Webmaster's comment: And never forget the Inquisition and the 100,000 mostly women burnt alive at the stake!)
6-12-18 The vast emptiness that only religion can fill
One question (and its variants) is raised with troubling frequency: How do you make friends as an adult, and why is it so difficult? Responses can number in the thousands, but they always hit on the same themes: It is hard to make adult friends because, perhaps excepting work, you have no natural place to meet them. In youth, school provides an organic space for informal encounters with people who live near you, have a similar schedule, and share many of your interests and cultural touchstones. But as you age, that sort of regular, casual interaction declines. Meanwhile, your leisure time decreases, and your interests become more idiosyncratic. By 30, you have few opportunities to meet new people, and you aren't sure when or how you'd hang out with them even if you did. The remedies suggested are similarly uniform: Develop a hobby that can simulate the impromptu, repetitive encounters of school. Join a recreational sports league or a board games club on Meetup. Start volunteering or get involved in political activism. Whatever you do, find something that will expose you to roughly the same group of people at least once a week and eventually some of them may be your friends. Activity is the self-administered antidote to an epidemic of loneliness. This is all fine so far as it goes. These are good things to do even if you aren't on a friend-hunt. But this advice is also a strange, new product of our time. Indeed, it is a uniquely modern attempt to reverse engineer a single aspect of a social structure that used to fill this very real need for community. That structure was church. (Of course, in other places and cultures, different religions and traditions, rather than Christianity, filled this role.) (Webmaster's comment: The fear of being alone fills most people. It shouldn't. It is the state of true inner happiness.)
6-9-18 Rise of the deepfakes
New technology makes it alarmingly easy to make realistic videos of people saying and doing things they've never done. Soon, we won't be able to trust our own eyes. Here's everything you need to know:
- What is this technology? It's a sophisticated type of software that makes it possible to superimpose one person's face onto another's body and manipulate voice recordings, creating fake videos that look and sound real.
- Where did deepfakes originate? In porn, of course. Last December, an anonymous Reddit user who calls himself "deepfakes" started posting fake but realistic-looking videos of celebrities engaged in explicit sex.
- How do deep fakes work?The creator gathers a trove of photos or videos of the target — so it helps if it's a famous person — along with the video to be doctored.
- How are voices faked? The principle is the same: You feed lots of recordings of the person you want to fake into an AI program, which chops up sounds and words into discreet bits; software can then rearrange the sounds so the subject can say anything you like.
- How much trouble can this cause? Potentially, a lot. On deepfake forums, there are frequent requests for help in producing face-swap porn videos of ex-girlfriends, classmates, and teachers.
- Can deepfakes be stopped? To reduce the potential dangers of deepfakes, videos can be equipped with a unique digital key that proves their origin, or with metadata showing where and when they were captured.
- How artificial intelligence works: At the core of the deepfakes code is a "deep neural network" — a computing system vaguely modeled on the biological neural networks that make up human brains.
6-8-18 Trump’s assertion of unlimited authority
In a confidential, 20-page memo, President Trump’s legal team told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president has limitless authority over federal investigations and thus cannot be charged with obstructing justice. The January 2018 document, obtained by The New York Times, asserts that the president could at any time “terminate the inquiry” into Russian interference in the 2016 election, or pardon anyone under investigation. It also contends that Trump cannot be subpoenaed and that submitting to an interview would demean the office of the presidency, which must remain “sacred and above the fray of shifting political winds and gamesmanship.” In a stunning revelation, the letter acknowledged the president dictated Donald Trump Jr.’s misleading July 2017 statement regarding his meeting with a Russian informant at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign—something the president, his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and his attorneys had previously repeatedly denied. That statement said the meeting was primarily about “adoptions” of Russian children, neglecting to mention that Russians connected to the Kremlin had promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. “This is the reason you don’t let the president testify,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told ABC News. “Our recollection keeps changing.” Trump took his frustrations to Twitter, declaring “an absolute right to PARDON myself” and slamming the investigation as a Democrat-led “never ending Witch Hunt” that’s “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” The president also tweeted that he would have nominated someone other than Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Trump has repeatedly pressured Sessions to reverse that recusal, The New York Times reported—requests that Mueller has made part of his obstruction investigation. (Webmaster's comment: After being elected in Germany Hitler claimed the very same thing and got away with it!)
6-8-18 Shelter showdown
Video of immigration officials denying a U.S. senator entry to a Brownsville facility where migrant children are being held went viral on social media this week. Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was blocked from entering a former Walmart with blacked-out windows now serving as a shelter for children who have been separated at the border from their parents. “The attorney general’s team and the Office of Refugee Resettlement don’t want anyone to know about what’s going on behind these doors,” Merkley told a responding police officer. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the shelters, accused Merkley of grandstanding. The number of illegal border crossings was higher than usual in May, despite the Justice Department’s new “zero tolerance” policy. (Webmaster's comment: Auschwitz is back!)
6-8-18 Parkland survivor targeted
A police SWAT team descended on the home of Parkland survivor and prominent gun-control activist David Hogg this week after a hoax 911 call reported that someone was in the house with a weapon. Neither Hogg nor any of his family was home at the time; the 18-year-old was in Washington, D.C., with his mother accepting a human rights award. The call was an example of “swatting,” in which prank callers attempt to get armed officers to raid a target’s home, with potentially fatal results. Police shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man in Wichita in December after they were called to his home during a swatting incident. Hogg is anathema in certain gun rights circles for his pugnacious activism in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he graduated this week. Hogg and other student activists with the March for Our Lives movement are planning a 20-state summer bus tour to campaign for gun control laws and to register young people to vote.
6-8-18 Gay wedding cake: What the Supreme Court’s ruling means
If this decision were a wedding cake, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com, it would leave “everyone wanting more.” This week the Supreme Court released its long-awaited ruling in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Rather than tackle the central issue, though—whether a claim of “religious liberty” entitled a Christian baker to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding—the court effectively punted. In a surprisingly lopsided 7-2 decision, the justices ruled for the baker, Jack Phillips, but on the narrow grounds that members of the Civil Rights Commission had verbally disparaged Phillips’ religious beliefs when they said that “religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, including slavery.” These hostile comments, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, violated the Constitution’s guarantee that “laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.” The LGBT community and its allies should still be relieved, said Cristian Farias in NYMag.com. The religious right was seeking “a blanket shield to discriminate.” Kennedy, instead, explicitly reaffirmed “the rights and dignity of gay persons” and wrote that as “a general rule,” businesses may not deny service to gays by claiming a “religious objection.” By handing a partial victory to each side, Kennedy managed “to have his cake and eat it.”
6-8-18 Practicing Religious Hatred
72% of U.S. adults say business owners should not be allowed to refuse service to gay customers on the grounds of religious freedom. 14% say business owners do have that right. 9% say business owners have that right “only in certain situations.”
6-8-18 China to surpass the U.S.
China is on track to surpass the U.S. in spending on scientific research by the end of this year. The U.S. spends $500 billion annually on research, but China has been increasing its spending by an average of 18 percent a year, and is now luring foreign scientists and retaining Chinese who used to emigrate to the U.S.
6-8-18 Quarter pound for every man, woman, and child
Oregon has halted processing new applications for legal marijuana businesses amid signs the industry is growing too quickly. The state now has a glut of 1 million pounds of weed—or a quarter pound for every man, woman, and child. State economists warned that Oregon now has few job applicants who can pass a drug test, indicating “a broader increase in drug usage.”
Preparation, after fashion brand Louis Vuitton hired a shaman to ensure that no rain would fall during last week’s outdoor fashion show in France. (No rain fell.) The unidentified holy man from Brazil reportedly only travels by private jet and commands a six-figure fee for every act of weather control.
6-8-18 Why US suicide rate is on the rise
A new government study released reveals that suicide has been on the rise nationwide since 1999. The figures were released in the week when the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain brought the issue to the fore. But what has spurred this steady increase in American suicides? In 17 years, 30% That's how much the overall suicide rate has increased in more than half of US states in that time, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The overall rise nationwide is about 25%. It means that around 16 out of every 100,000 Americans will take their own life. Nearly 45,000 Americans took their own life in 2016 alone. According to CDC data, suicide increased among all sexes, ages, races and ethnic groups.Lead researcher Dr Deborah Stone told the BBC that the agency had been tracking the rise for some time. "Knowing the rates were increasing, we [wanted to] look at state level increases and contributing factors," Dr Stone says. "There were 25 states that had increases of more than 30% - that was a new finding for us." Nearly all of those states are in the western and Midwestern regions of the US. While there is no single factor that leads to suicide, Dr Stone says relationship issues and financial troubles tend to be top factors contributing to suicide across the country. She also notes that some western states have some of the highest rates of suicide historically, which could be related to the fact that they tend to be more rural. Rural states, she explained, are still recovering from economic downturns. People also tend to be more isolated, without access to proper care. And, these states have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.
6-8-18 Criminals can be identified from the microbes they leave behind
When a person enters a house, they leave behind a unique set of microorganisms that could serve as a fingerprint – and it seems to be accurate enough to spot individual people. The sneakiest burglars slip by unnoticed, but they leave millions of their own witnesses at every crime scene. Researchers have found that it may be possible to identify criminals based on the microbes they shed from their skin or nostrils. In 2014, Jarrad Hampton-Marcell at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and his colleagues showed that people seem to leave a unique microbial signature in their homes. This suggested that the microbes people leave behind could be useful for identifying suspected criminals like burglars. “What if we could potentially find signatures that are unique to each individual?” says Hampton-Marcell. He first visited crime scene investigators in Florida, who explained how burglars generally enter homes and how quickly local law enforcement responded. This varied from minutes to hours. Hampton-Marcell and his colleagues then arranged for 45 undergraduate students to carry out a series of mock burglaries at ten homes in Illinois and Florida, in August 2016 and March 2017. This gave the researchers a chance to look for deposits of microbes. Points of entry proved particularly fruitful. “They’re going to be using force, moving, likely shedding their microbiome,” says Hampton-Marcell. The team analysed microbes from the skin and nostrils of every “burglar”. They used a genetic marker called 16S rRNA to distinguish the various microbes. After sampling a total of 45 participants and gathering data from other studies, the team found they could group together thousands of unique sets of microbes that served as microbial fingerprints for individual people.
6-8-18 Partisan Divide on Benefit of Having Rich People Expands
The 43% of Democrats who say the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people is down significantly from six years ago, and Democrats remain much more negative than either Republicans or independents about the impact of a rich class. Roughly eight in 10 (81%) Republicans and 57% of independents say having a rich class is good for the nation, little changed from 2012. Inequality has become an increasingly frequent talking point of liberal and Democratic leaders in recent years, including the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 and the highly visible focus on the top "1%" of Americans on the socioeconomic ladder. Additionally, the 2016 Democratic presidential field included Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose major focus was espousing the need for redistributive policies in order to address widening inequality in the country. At the same time, Donald Trump ran for and won the presidency as a wealthy Republican who unabashedly praises the rich and rich people. Both factors may help explain why rank-and-file Democrats across the country have become less likely to believe a rich class has a positive effect on U.S. society. In 1990, 62% of all Americans were positive about having a rich class, and a similar percentage, 63%, held that view in 2012. Now, with a reduced proportion of Democrats saying the country benefits from having a class of rich people, the overall percentage of U.S. adults holding this view has edged down to 58%.
- 43% of Democrats say having a rich class is beneficial to the U.S.
- 81% of Republicans report the same
- Overall, 58% of all Americans agree that having a rich class is a benefit
6-8-18 US school shootings: Lullaby used to teach drills
"Lockdown, lockdown, lock the door. Shut the lights off, say no more." In Massachusetts, a class of five-year-olds are learning this rhyme - set to the lullaby "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" - so they know what to do during a school shooting. Parent Georgy Cohen spotted the poem taped to a classroom chalkboard at the school in the city of Somerville. She posted a picture online, writing: "This should not be hanging in my soon-to-be-kindergartener's classroom." However, she made clear that she didn't blame the kindergarten for its approach, tweeting: "The school is doing exactly what they need to be doing, and I am glad for it. My issue is with the political & cultural factors that brought us to this sad state. Please talk to your legislators about the need for gun reform."
The rhyme, which is written in brightly coloured pen and illustrated with cartoons, reads in full:
- "Lockdown, lockdown, Lock the door"
- "Shut the lights off, Say no more"
- "Go behind the desk and hide"
- "Wait until it's safe inside"
- "Lockdown, lockdown it's all done"
- "Now it's time to have some fun!"
Ms Cohen came across the poem while touring the school her child will attend after the summer holidays. She told the Boston Globe she found the image "jarring", adding: "When I was in kindergarten, we had fire drills. It was different - we didn't have these same types of threats." (Webmaster's comment: The world has changed in horrible ways thanks to our desire for guns designed solely to maximize killing people! Ban Them!)
6-8-18 America's immigration inhumanity
Zero tolerance policies have been spreading throughout America for the past 40 years, wreaking havoc wherever and whenever they've been tried. That's because their fundamental premise is that the cause they aim to advance is so righteous that authorities have impunity to go after minor offenses with maximal force.. It should come as no surprise, then, that the results would be deeply ugly now that the Trump administration has deployed a zero-tolerance policy against the world's most powerless people: fleeing migrants. Zero tolerance became all the rage in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan launched his War on Drugs, and the smallest drug offenses got treated like existential threats to the fabric of American society. This led to mandatory minimum sentencing laws that turned America into the incarceration capital of the world by stripping judges of any discretion in keeping sentences commensurate with the crime. The upshot has been that nonviolent drug offenders like Alice Johnson, whom President Trump granted clemency to this week after 20 years in jail, got a life-without-parole sentence. There are millions like her languishing in jail. Meanwhile, civil asset forfeiture policies, the other gift of the zero tolerance approach to drugs, handed law enforcement officials the power to confiscate any physical asset they suspected of being used in a crime without bothering to obtain convictions. Despite a massive public outcry, forfeiture spread like wildfire and became a standard part of policing — no doubt because the seized assets are lucrative for law enforcement salaries and budgets. Reagan, a Republican, invoked zero tolerance policies to fight drugs. A few years later, Bill Clinton, a Democrat, invoked them to fight guns in schools. Soon enough, schools used zero tolerance to fight every classroom ill from drugs to unruly behavior. Stories of toddlers and teens suspended, expelled, and even prosecuted for the most trivial offenses — like bringing nail clippers and scissors to school — are legion. An eighth-grade girl was booted out for giving a Midol without prescription to a friend experiencing menstrual cramps. An 11-year-old autistic, black kid who kicked a can in anger was handcuffed, charged, and prosecuted for disorderly conduct. The worst hit are poor, minority kids who can't afford expensive lawyers to fight back when expelled or charged, prompting the ACLU to dub such zero tolerance policies for minors a "school-to-prison pipeline." But none of this compares to the hideousness transpiring at the border, where this administration has unleashed zero tolerance policy against desperate migrants fleeing poverty and violence.
6-8-18 US to send 1,600 immigration detainees to federal prisons
The Trump administration has for the first time begun transferring suspected illegal immigrants to federal prisons, following additional demand for beds. The transfer of 1,600 detainees underscores the surge in detentions under the President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it was a temporary measure until other facilities could be found. Some 1,000 of the detainees will go to a single prison in California. Union leaders at prisons in California, Texas, and Washington state told the Reuters news agency they had little time to prepare for the large intake of detainees, and raised concerns about staffing and safety. ICE is enacting a policy that requires federal prosecutors to criminally charge everybody caught illegally crossing the border. Under previous administrations, first-time border crossers were usually put through civil deportation proceedings. Detainees awaiting civil hearings are usually housed in ICE detention facilities or county jails. The 1,600 detainees transferred to prisons are expected to be there for 120 days while ICE finds space in new detention facilities, a spokeswoman for the agency said. "Our federal prisons are set up to detain the worst of the worst. They should not be used for immigration purposes," Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told Reuters. "Federal prisons are for hardened criminals. They are not physically set up for immigrant landscapers looking for a job or fleeing violence." (Webmaster's comment: SUSPECTS imprisoned without any due process or hope of bail. America starts its move towards Nazi style prison camps. Who is next?)
6-8-18 Canada moves a step closer to legalising marijuana
A key legislative hurdle has been passed as Canada moves closer to legalising recreational cannabis. Canadian senators passed the Cannabis Act by 56 votes to 30 with one abstention after studying the landmark legislation for six months. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to making marijuana legal by this summer. Canada will be the first G7 nation to legalise recreational use of the drug. Medical use has been legal since 2001. The vote on Thursday sends the bill back to the House of Commons, where members of Parliament will decide whether to accept the dozens of amendments added to the legislation by the Senate. The vote had been expected to be close, and the Trudeau government moved on Wednesday to shore up support by assuring indigenous senators it would address significant concerns they had with bill. That included committing more resources to mental health and addiction services for indigenous people in Canada. Canadians will still have to wait up to 12 weeks after the bill finally becomes law before they can purchase recreational cannabis. Provinces and territories are responsible for various elements of the retail market, including how marijuana will be sold and whether users can smoke in public. They are expected to need that time to set up the new marketplace. Various estimates suggest Canadians will be able to legally buy cannabis by late August or early September. Canadians, especially the young, are among the world's heaviest marijuana users.
6-7-18 Acceptance of Gambling Reaches New Heights
Sixty-nine percent of Americans say gambling is morally acceptable, a four-percentage-point increase from last year and the highest level of acceptance in the 16 years Gallup has asked the question. The Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning sports betting on May 14, only a few days after the May 1-10 poll was completed. The law was challenged by the state of New Jersey, which has been battling for years to legalize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks. More than 20 states are now considering legalizing some form of sports betting.
- 69% of Americans say gambling is morally acceptable
- Up from 65% last year, trend low of 58% in 2009
- Views differ significantly by education, income, religiosity
6-7-18 Arizona police violently beat unarmed Robert Johnson
The Mesa Police Department in Arizona voluntarily released surveillance video footage showing a group of officers brutally beating an unarmed man. The video shows several police officers kneeing and punching Robert Johnson. (Webmaster's comment: Beating blacks is a full time police job. Notice that no one steps in to intervene!)
6-7-18 Suicide rates have shot up in almost every U.S. state
More than half of victims counted in 27 states in 2015 had no known mental health condition. Suicide rates have increased across the United States — and in dozens of states by more than 30 percent, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on public health data from 1999 to 2016. Among suicide victims counted in 2015 in 27 states, 54 percent had no known mental health condition, researchers say in the June 8 report. For those who died, circumstances surrounding their suicide included relationship or job problems, the loss of a home, legal troubles and physical health issues. These factors played a role whether suicide victims had a diagnosed medical condition or not. With suicide, “there’s no one cause. It’s a confluence of contributors at a particular stress point in time,” says clinical psychologist Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in New York City. “It’s very important to know that it’s not just mental illness; it’s many factors.” Overall, close to 45,000 Americans died by suicide in 2016. Suicide is one of three top causes of death on the rise in the country, and has contributed to a drop in U.S. life expectancy (SN Online: 12/21/07).
6-7-18 Over Four in 10 in U.S. Now Say Teen Sex Morally Acceptable
U.S. adults remain more likely to say that sex between teenagers is morally wrong (54%) rather than morally acceptable (42%). But the percentage who find it acceptable has grown by 10 percentage points since Gallup first polled on the question in 2013, including a six-point increase in the past year. Adults aged 18 to 29, whose adolescent years are not as far in their past, are the only age group in which a majority says sex between teens is morally acceptable, with 59% saying this. Older adults are less likely to agree; and adults aged 65 and older are about half as likely to find it morally acceptable (31% do).
- Moral acceptability of sex between teens up six points from last year
- Religiosity a big factor in views on sex between teens
- Most U.S. adults still approve of sex between unmarried adults
6-7-18 Why using genetic genealogy to solve crimes could pose problems
Some worry that authorities could violate people’s rights using the method. Police are using a new type of DNA sleuthing, called genetic genealogy. Already the technique has caught murder and rape suspects in California and Washington. While solving the cases has given cause for celebration, the tactics used in catching the alleged culprits have many privacy and civil rights experts worried. Closing the Golden State Killer case (SN Online: 4/29/18) and the previously unsolved double murder of a young Canadian couple (SN Online: 5/23/18) involved probing a public online database of people’s DNA and family-tree information called GEDmatch. In a May 29 opinion piece published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, bioethicist Christine Grady and colleagues argue that police should be more transparent about how they use forensic DNA searches. Meanwhile, law professor Natalie Ram and colleagues go even further in an essay in the June 8 Science, writing that eroding limits on the use of crime-solving technology “threatens our collective civil liberties and opens the door to socially and politically unacceptable genetic surveillance.”
6-6-18 What makes a white nationalist?
Race-based ideologies are gaining ground across the West. Our special report delves into the white supremacist scene in the US to ask why. What makes a racist? Pete Simi’s research among former white supremacists has shown that many experienced childhood emotional trauma and are predisposed to crime. Of the 103 people he studied:
- Half report witnessing serious acts of violence growing up
- Half report experiencing physical abuse during childhood
- One-quarter report being sexually abused during childhood
- Half report being expelled or dropping out of school
- Three-quarters report a history of physical aggression before they got involved in far-right politics
- Half report exposure to parental racism
- More than three-quarters report parental divorce
- Half ran away from home during childhood or adolescence
- Half were shoplifters or petty criminals
- Slightly less than half report a family history of mental health problems
- Two-thirds report substance abuse issues
- Two-thirds report attempting suicide
(Webmaster's comment: So what are these supposed to be, excuses? Don't turn these people into a victims. They want to hurt or kill you. They have chosen to become violent brutes and killers and they enjoy it. They had the same chances as everyone else. They have chosen what they want to be. They are not victims. The world is awash with information on what is right, but in spite of what they know is right they have chosen to be evil bastards who hate other people and enjoy hurting them.)
6-6-18 What makes a white nationalist?
Race-based ideologies are gaining ground across the West. Our special report delves into the white supremacist scene in the US to ask why. TIM ZAAL hurt a lot of people in his time: blacks, Mexicans, gays. Strung out on drugs and propaganda, he fitted the toes of his engineer boots with razor blades, all the better to kick the scum and save the white race. Zaal has since recanted, but others continue to follow in his bootsteps. After decades largely under the radar, race-based violence and extremism is back in the news. In June 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black worshippers at a Methodist church in Charleston, South Carolina. In August 2017, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saw youths on the streets giving Nazi salutes, and one counter-protestor killed, deliberately mown down by a car. It’s not just in the US. In June 2016, British politician Jo Cox was murdered by a white nationalist. Last November, tens of thousands rallied by torchlight in Warsaw, Poland, waving banners that advocated deporting refugees and making Europe white again, while chanting “Sieg Heil” – in the once-Nazi-occupied land where Auschwitz was built. For most, the motivations of such hate seem unimaginable. But pioneering work in the US is beginning to reveal its roots. What it is uncovering turns a conventional view of terrorist motivations on its head – with implications for how all societies should deal with the phenomenon. IT IS a cold night in January, and I’m eating hamburgers with Zaal in a mall restaurant at the border of Orange County and Los Angeles. A big, affable man in his early 50s, he talks easily about his life as a violent white supremacist during the 1980s and 1990s. Also at the table is Pete Simi, a sociologist at Chapman University in the city of Orange who researches white supremacist extremism.
6-6-18 Party drugs are here to stay, but they don’t have to be killers
Crack downs on psychedelic substances are failing to protect people from harm. Drug tests at festivals and nightclubs to check they are legit could be a better way. THE war on drugs has become an arms race. In an effort to outpace the law, unregulated laboratories are creating thousands of modified versions of psychedelic substances and selling them to unknowing partygoers. These chemistry experiments have consequences. Last month, two people died at the Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth, UK, seemingly as a result of taking drugs – festival organisers warned of “a dangerous high-strength or bad-batch substance on site”. Following the deaths, there have been renewed calls to have drug safety tests on-site at festivals and similar locations, to identify and inform people about the substances they have bought. “Roughly one in five drug users are being mis-sold drugs in the UK,” says Fiona Measham, a criminologist at Durham University, UK. Her drug-testing organisation, The Loop, will be operating at 10 UK festivals this year, and recently set up a facility in Bristol city centre. “The only reason that we are able to estimate this figure is because of our drug safety testing,” she says. Novel psychoactive substances are a growing problem. In 2005, there were only 16 of these substances reported in Europe, but by 2016 that had risen to 560. In response, the UK government decided to go on the offensive to tackle these “legal highs”. Instead of playing catch-up by retroactively banning drugs as they cropped up, the UK passed the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, to make all such substances illegal.
6-6-18 Take a look inside the world's largest legal cannabis farm
Canada is on the verge of legalising marijuana for recreational use. The BBC visited a huge cannabis farm in British Columbia, which the operators say is the largest facility of its kind in the world.
6-5-18 Europe and nationalism: A country-by-country guide
Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains. Some have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt. In part, this can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises, but the wave of discontent also taps into long-standing fears about globalisation and a dilution of national identity. Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism. So where does this leave Europe's political landscape? (Webmaster's comment: The forerunner to full-blown Nazism is growing all across Europe just as it is in the United States.)
- Italy: Inconclusive elections and months of uncertainty have culminated in two populist parties - the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and right-wing League - forming a coalition government.
- Germany: Formed just five years ago, in 2017 the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the federal parliament for the first time.
- Austria: A far-right party in neighbouring Austria has enjoyed even greater success than the AfD.
- France: Despite the efforts of leader Marine Le Pen to make the far-right National Front palatable to France's mainstream, she was comprehensively defeated by Emmanuel Macron for the presidency in May 2017.
- Hungary: In April, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban secured a third term in office with a landslide victory in an election dominated by immigration.
- Slovenia: Although it fell a long way short of a majority, the anti-immigrant Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) was the largest party in this year's general election.
- Poland: Another party that has condemned the EU's handling of the migrant crisis, the conservative Law and Justice party secured a strong win in 2015 elections.
- Sweden: With elections due in September, and polls showing support at record highs, the far-right Sweden Democrats will have high hopes of their best showing yet.
- Denmark: Immigration rules in Denmark are among Europe's toughest, reflecting the power of the right-wing Danish People's Party, who are the second largest party in parliament.
- Czech Republic: The Czech Republic's new Prime Minister Andrej Babis says recent elections in Slovenia and Italy show the stance of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia on immigration is spreading.
- Finland: The 2015 elections in Finland saw the right-wing Finns Party come second, although this year its candidate in presidential elections won just 6.9%.
- Netherlands: In the build-up to last year's election in the Netherlands, the anti-immigration Freedom Party of Geert Wilders had been tipped to win, but in the end came a distant second despite increasing their number of seats.
6-5-18 Same-sex spouses have EU residence rights, top court rules
The European Union's top court has ruled in favour of a Romanian gay man's right to have his US husband live with him in Romania. The country, which does not recognise same-sex marriage, had argued that the American was not entitled to the EU residency rights awarded to spouses. But the European Court of Justice said the term "spouse" was gender neutral. Adrian Coman and his American partner Clai Hamilton were married in Brussels in 2010. Following the judgment on Tuesday, Mr Coman said: "We can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant. "We are grateful to the EU Court and to the many people and institutions who have supported us, and through us, other same-sex couples in a similar situation," he said, adding: "It is human dignity that wins today." The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that member states should recognise gay marriages contracted in fellow EU states, and grant couples the same residency rights that other families enjoy. "Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State, a derived right of residence in their territory," the court said. In January, a senior adviser to the ECJ, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet, said that the term "spouse" could include - under the freedom of residence rules for EU citizens and their family members - spouses of the same sex.
6-5-18 More Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable
Forty-three percent of Americans now believe pornography is "morally acceptable," a seven-percentage-point increase from last year and the highest level since Gallup first began measuring moral perceptions of pornography in 2011.
- Highest level since Gallup began asking about it in 2011
- Partisan differences on morality of pornography wider than ever
- Younger men, nonmarried more accepting of pornography
6-4-18 3.8 percent unemployment just ain't what it used to be
This past Friday, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to an astounding 3.8 percent. For a little perspective, it's only gotten that low twice in the last 50 years: once in 2000, and also in the period from 1968 to 1970. But if you suggested to most Americans that the economy is just as healthy today as it was in 2000 or 1968, they'd probably laugh in your face. Wage growth in 1968 was significantly higher than it was in 2000. And in 2000, it was significantly higher than it is today, too. That relationship holds even after you factor out inflation. Recoveries from recessions have gotten longer and longer. Inequality is worse: The top 1 percent gobbled up around 10 percent of all national income in 1968, 15 percent in 2000, and 20 percent today. Costs of necessities have also risen, leaving the median household budget with less money today than in 1972. What happened? Well, first off, a big part of the problem is that 3.8 percent unemployment is so rare. One of the big drivers of wage growth is labor scarcity. When businesses can't just hire jobless people, they have to hike wage offers to lure workers away from competitors. Periods of significant labor scarcity also reduce inequality, since wages tend to grow fastest for the poorest workers. But in between the brief triumphal moments of low unemployment, America has gone through long periods of much higher unemployment. Those stretches destroyed Americans' incomes and livelihoods. And the brief bursts of full employment we have enjoyed in the last half century weren't nearly enough to repair the damage. Next, when we say unemployment is such-and-such percent, what we mean is a percent of the labor force, not the entire U.S. population. So who's in the labor force? Government statistics say it's anyone who has a job or has looked for one in the last month.
6-4-18 German anger over AfD chief's 'Nazi era just bird poo' remark
There is outrage across the political spectrum in Germany over a far-right leader's description of the 12-year Nazi dictatorship as "just bird poo". Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-leader Alexander Gauland made the remark in an address to the party's youth wing. Politicians in the ruling coalition and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Mr Gauland of trying to shrug off the Nazi atrocities. The AfD is Germany's main opposition party, with 94 seats in parliament. Mr Gauland, 77, said on Saturday: "Hitler and the Nazis are just bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history." The general secretary of Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, tweeted (in German): "50 million war victims, the Holocaust and total war are just 'bird poo' for the AfD and Gauland! That's what the party really looks like behind its mask of respectability." President Steinmeier said "whoever today denies that unique break with civilisation or plays it down not only ridicules the millions of victims, but also consciously wants to rip open old wounds and sow new hatred". Mr Steinmeier was speaking at a memorial event for the thousands of gay people murdered by the Nazis. (Webmaster's comment: The sanitising and resurrection of the Nazis continues.)
6-3-18 Separating kids from parents at the border
A surge in the number of migrant children separated from their parents has sparked a furor over the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings. The policy was recently announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who warned that all border violators—including those seeking asylum from Central American violence and drug gangs—would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, with their children placed in separate custody as a form of deterrence. “If you don’t like that,” Sessions said, “then don’t smuggle children over our border.” More than 700 minors, including toddlers and babies, were separated from parents at the border from October to April, and another 600 after the “zero tolerance” policy went into effect in May. “I cried. I begged,” one 28-year-old Guatemalan father said after having his 18-month-old son taken from him. When he asked where the boy was, “no one could tell me anything.” In a tweet, President Trump blamed Democrats for a “horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents.” Aides said the president meant that Democrats and the courts had created “loopholes” in immigration law that encouraged border crossings. The outrage over the separation policy was further stoked by a report that the federal government “lost” 1,475 children who had arrived at the border unaccompanied by a parent. But the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the report was misleading. It said it had “resettled” 7,635 children with family members or guardians in the U.S., called a month later to check up, and did not get responses from 1,475 guardians, some of whom may fear contact with the federal government. (Webmaster's comment: But many have probably disappeared into the human trafficking system and will suffer unimaginable fates such as being used for child sex and for body parts.)
6-3-18 Firms hoarding tax savings
“Why aren’t companies spending more?” asked Justin Lahart. The corporate tax cut was supposed to bring about “a renaissance in capital spending,” but it simply isn’t happening. The Commerce Department reported last week that orders for durable goods—long-lasting equipment such as tractors and machinery—dropped 1.7 percent in April from the previous month. Even if we exclude the drop in aircraft orders, spending on nondefense capital goods was up an anemic 1 percent. That’s shocking, “given how much money the corporate tax cut is providing companies, and how much money is being repatriated from overseas.” It’s also clearly at odds with what companies have been saying. In a survey earlier this year, corporate executives said they expected capital spending at their companies to increase an average of 11 percent over the next 12 months. “So what is going on?” It could be that the firms are about to spend more now that they know how much savings they can expect from the tax cuts. But it could also be that companies simply prefer to give the money back to shareholders via dividends and buybacks. Whatever the cause, the tight labor market “is giving companies a good reason to boost their existing workers’ productivity” via capital spending, and the tax cuts have given them the means. “Their hesitation is unsettling.”
6-3-18 The bottom line
As of 2016, the median net worth of those born in the 1980s was 34 percent lower than what past trends would predict for the group. Those born in the 1970s, the Gen Xers, were 18 percent behind.
The 160,000 or so wealthiest American families—the top 0.1 percent—held 22 percent of America’s wealth in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1963.
The number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 has dropped 25 percent this year. After reaching an all-time high of 32 in 2017, the number of female chiefs has fallen to 24. Among those departing: Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, and Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of snack giant Mondelez
6-3-18 Free speech: The NFL’s kneeling ‘compromise’
“The National Football League should be ashamed of itself,” said Jonathan Capehart in WashingtonPost.com. The NFL last week bowed down to “the moral vacuum that is President Trump” and announced a crackdown on players who kneel during the national anthem. That exercise of free speech began two years ago, when small groups of players knelt before games to protest police shootings and mistreatment of black men. The deliberately divisive Trump turned the low-key protests into a national furor last year, saying “any son of a bitch” who dares to kneel should be “fired,” and calling for a fan boycott. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s owners have caved in, unveiling a new rule mandating that “all team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.” In what was billed as a “compromise,” players who don’t wish to stand during the anthem can stay in the locker room, but any who take the field and kneel will see their team hit with stiff fines. Trump correctly saw this as a victory for his demagoguery, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com, triumphantly proclaiming that players who don’t respect the flag “shouldn’t be in the country.” This authoritarian rhetoric enthralls his base, which is offended by uppity black millionaires failing to show proper deference and gratitude. (Webmaster's comment: Censorship of black American's freedom of expression pure and simple!)
6-3-18 Roseanne dropped over racist tweet
ABC canceled its highest-rated show, Roseanne, this week, after a racist tweet by the sitcom’s star provoked outrage on social media. Roseanne Barr described Valerie Jarrett, an Iranian-born African-American who served as former President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, as if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Barr apologized for making a “bad joke,” but that failed to quell a firestorm of condemnation. Just hours after the offending tweet was posted, ABC dropped Roseanne, which averages 18 million viewers an episode. Channing Dungey, the network’s entertainment president, called the tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.” Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Co., ABC’s corporate parent, phoned Jarrett to apologize. A few hours after promising to leave Twitter, Barr returned to the site, retweeting statements by fans who blamed PC culture for her canning. “It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting,” Barr wrote, suggesting she was loopy from sleep medication. That excuse was widely mocked online, including by Ambien’s manufacturer, whose CEO said, “Racism is not a known side effect.” (Webmaster's comment: Good riddance to bad rubbish!)
6-3-18 Only in America
So many Americans are hooked on opioids that mussels in waters off Seattle have tested positive for oxycodone. Mussels naturally filter contaminants from seawater, and Puget Sound contains wastewater from Seattle’s sewage plants. Jennifer Lanksbury, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, said the mussels’ positive test shows that “there’s a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area.”
6-3-18 Germs lurking in hotel pools
As summer gets under way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a stark warning for travelers: Beware of the hotel pool. Between 2000 and 2014, nearly a third of the disease outbreaks linked to recreational water facilities occurred at hotels, inns, and lodges, the CDC reports. Cryptosporidium, or crypto, was the culprit behind 58 percent of the outbreaks with a confirmed source. This parasite, which wreaks havoc on the digestive system, is highly tolerant of chlorine and can survive for days in well-maintained pools and hot tubs. “Swallowing just a mouthful of water with crypto in it can make otherwise healthy kids and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting,” the CDC’s Michele Hlavsa tells CBSNews.com. Legionella bacteria, which can cause pneumonia, accounted for 16 percent of the reported outbreaks; 13 percent involved Pseudomonas, a group of bacteria responsible for “hot tub rash” and “swimmers’ ear.” The CDC advises people to avoid getting pool water in their mouths, to shower before swimming, and to avoid pools when sick with diarrhea.
6-3-18 The truth about weed and the brain
It may make sense to legalize marijuana, said neuroscientist Judith Grisel, but Americans are being “astoundingly naïve about how the widespread use of pot will affect communities and individuals, particularly teenagers.” The research on marijuana’s effects on the brain shows that the ingredient that causes its “high,” delta-9-THC, can indeed dampen motivation and interfere with a successful life, as well as lead to “tolerance, dependence, and craving—the hallmarks of addiction.” In particular, the research on THC’s impact on the developing adolescent brain is “inconveniently alarming.” Teens who smoke weed regularly, studies show, have reduced activity in brain circuits critical to noticing new information and making decisions; they are 60 percent less likely to graduate from high school, “are at substantially increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism,” and are seven times more likely to attempt suicide. Recent studies even show that THC can turn on or off genetic expression in a teenager’s epigenome, making young users’ children “at increased risk for mental illness and addiction” years before they are conceived. Yes, it’s true that alcohol and tobacco also have caused great damage, but let’s not pretend that marijuana is “benign or beneficial.” And let’s not pretend that legalizing weed will be without costs.
6-2-18 South China Sea dispute: Mattis says China 'intimidating neighbours'
China is deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea to intimidate and coerce its neighbours, US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said. Speaking in Singapore, General Mattis said Beijing's actions called into question its broader goals. A Chinese military official dismissed the comments as "irresponsible". Six countries have competing claims in the sea, but tensions have increased in recent years and China has backed its claim with island-building and patrols. Mr Mattis also said the issue of US troops in South Korea was "not on the table" at this month's summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The US wanted complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he added. South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo also told the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit that US forces in South Korea was a "separate issue from North Korea's nuclear issue". There are currently about 28,500 US troops based in South Korea. Mr Mattis told the security summit that Beijing had deployed military hardware including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to locations across the South China Sea. "Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapon systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion," Gen Mattis said. (Webmaster's comment: In contrast United States intimidates all the countries of the world with over 200,000 troops stationed in 177 countries in nearly 800 military bases many of which have nuclear weapons! The United States also has 11 carrier groups armed with nuclear weapons they also regularily use to intimidate other countries.)
6-1-18 Blame opioids for a fifth of young adult deaths in the United States
The drugs were behind just 4 percent of deaths in 2001 for this age group. Opioids have quickly become a major cause of death among young Americans aged 25 to 34, with one in five deaths in 2016 tied to the drugs, researchers report online June 1 in JAMA Open Network. That’s a steep rise from 2001, when opioids accounted for 4 percent of all deaths in that age group. The second-most affected age group was 15-24, for whom 12 percent of all deaths in 2016 were attributed to opioid overdoses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the younger populations “where we really see this huge contribution of opioid overdoses,” says epidemiologist and study coauthor Tara Gomes of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “We’re losing so much potential life.”
6-1-18 Family of man shot dead by sheriff's deputy awarded $4 damages
The family of a man who was shot dead by a US sheriff's deputy have been awarded $4 (£3) in damages following a wrongful death lawsuit. Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr, 30, was shot through his garage door in 2014 by the deputy in St Lucie County, Florida, in response to a noise complaint. He was found with an unloaded gun, but whether he was holding it is disputed. A jury ruled that no excessive force was used and Mr Hill was responsible for his own death because he was drunk. A judge asked the jury to decide if Mr Hill's constitutional rights had been violated and, if so, whether his family should receive compensation. After hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $1 to his mother for funeral costs and $1 to each of his three children. "It's heartbreaking," his fiancée, Monique Davis, told the New York Times. "There are a lot of questions I want to ask." "I think they were trying to insult the case," the family's lawyer, John Phillips, added. "Why go there with the $1? That was the hurtful part." The jury found that Christopher Newman, the sheriff's deputy who shot Mr Hill three times, had not used excessive force. It also ruled that Mr Hill was 99% responsible for his own death, meaning the sheriff's department is only required to pay 1% of the damages. This would leave the family with four cents. This amount is expected to be reduced to zero because Mr Hill was intoxicated, Mr Phillips says. (Webmaster's comment: The police in America have assummed the right to kill blacks without provocation. This is now a police state!)
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129 Atheism News & Humanism News Articles
Atheism News & Humanism Articles for May 2018