8-30-19 Understanding the mechanics of hatred
BBC journalist Allan Little explores how hatred has been whipped up and disseminated throughout history.
8-30-19 Trump: Has ‘the One’ gone off the deep end?
“Seldom in presidential history has more nonsense been expressed with greater concision,” said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. During a half-hour informal press conference last week, President Trump called himself “the Chosen One” to lead the U.S. in its trade war with China—and then looked heavenward. He accused the prime minister of Denmark of rudely “blowing off the United States” because she refused to sell him Greenland, repeated the anti-Semitic slur that Jews who don’t vote for him are disloyal to Israel, and branded himself “the least racist person ever to serve in office.” He also “joked,” alarmingly, about “being in office 10 or 14 years from now.” Every week, Trump slips further into “an alternate version of reality.” The president seems to be “unraveling.” His tirade on the South Lawn “was a new, strange, and somewhat frightening level of antic,” said Rick Wilson in the New York Daily News. Last week, Trump also called his own Federal Reserve chairman a “bigger enemy” than China’s president, then tweeted that private American companies were “hereby ordered” to stop doing business with China. “When an elected official declares himself to be ‘the Chosen One’ or agrees that he’s the ‘King of Israel’ and ‘the second coming of God’”—all of which Trump has recently done—“it’s not time for a re-election campaign” but a “quiet stay with the nice men in white coats.” Since Trump isn’t going anywhere for now, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post, it’s high time for ousted Trump aides Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, Daniel Coats, and H.R. McMaster “to make plain their concerns about the president’s fitness for office.” Voters deserve to be told what these men know all too well, which is that Trump is “nuts,” and getting more so all the time.
8-30-19 No obstacles
President Trump has ordered aides to find a way to construct hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border before the 2020 election, telling them he’ll pardon them if they break laws to get the job done, The Washington Post reported this week. Current and former officials say Trump waved off concerns about invoking eminent domain, saying “Take the land,” and ordered officials to disregard environmental rules, assuring them, “Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you.” A White House official said Trump was joking about the pardons. Citing loud chants of “Finish the wall!” at his rallies, Trump said he must make good on his campaign promise, and that construction of 500 miles of fencing must be done by Election Day. So far, only 60 miles of replacement barriers have been erected. Trump reportedly insists that the new steel barriers be painted black and topped with sharpened tips.
8-30-19 Immigration: Locking up families indefinitely
Family separation apparently isn’t cruel enough, said Jonathan Blitzer in NewYorker.com. In one of its most “alarming” attempts yet “to whittle away the legal rights of immigrant children,” the Trump administration last week announced new rules that would allow the indefinite detention of entire migrant families. It’s a blatant attempt to circumvent the 1997 Flores Agreement, which requires that children be held in the “least restrictive conditions” possible for no more than 20 days before they have to be released to a relative or guardian. Trump’s proposed changes must be approved by a California-based federal judge who oversees Flores cases, and survive legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed this week by 20 blue states. The administration’s motives in nullifying Flores are clear, said Raul Reyes in CNN.com. Officials said that indefinitely detaining all the migrants who apply for asylum, including the kids, would deter other Central Americans from coming. “When all else fails,” in other words, “lock up children.” Holding kids hostage for months is no act of compassion, said Leah Hibel and Caitlin Patler in The New York Times. “Numerous studies have made it clear: No detention center is healthy and safe for children.” Violence and sexual assaults have occurred in these border facilities, and at least six detained children have died in the past year. Being held in detention camps can “stunt child cognitive, social, emotional, and language development,” and cause post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Faced with all this harrowing research, “the government should be working to comply with Flores,” instead of using children as pawns to punish their parents.
8-30-19 How they see us: Trade war ripples across the globe
When the world’s two biggest economies start slugging each other, everyone gets hurt, said Nile Bowie in Asia Times (China). Singapore, for example, is caught squarely in the crossfire of the trade war between the U.S. and China. Take the Singapore-based company Hybrionic Pte, which makes electronic circuits used in cars, phones, and hearing aids. The firm exports its products to the U.S., but it manufactures some of its components in China. Its “business has been drastically impacted by the U.S.-China trade war” and hit hard by tariffs. That’s typical of Singapore’s electronics sector, which shrank by 24 percent in July. Some companies plan to pull out of China and relocate manufacturing in the Philippines or Malaysia, but for now they see dwindling sales—and shrinking profits. Those planned relocations are why U.S. President Donald Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is an empty one, said Adam Behsudi and Finbarr Bermingham in the South China Morning Post (China). Sebastien Breteau, CEO of Qima, a Hong Kong company that inspects goods for the U.S. market, said its data show that those jobs are going to other Asian countries with low production costs. “The winner is not going to be the U.S., and it’s not going to be China,” Breteau said. The winners are “going to be Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and very likely Mexico and Bangladesh.” But don’t bet on many U.S. firms actually leaving China, said Hu Weijia in the Global Times (China). General Motors now sells more cars in China than in the U.S. If GM loses the Chinese market, “the country’s auto supply chain will shrink, and mass unemployment will result.” American businesses surely know that “a decision to give up the Chinese market is just suicide.”
8-30-19 Reinforcing stereotypes about Jews
Is Donald Trump “a philo-Semite or an anti-Semite?” asked Yair Rosenberg. That question came to the fore last week when the president said American Jews who vote for Democrats and against him are “disloyal” to Israel—“an inversion of the traditional dual loyalty trope,” which accuses Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to their home countries. Trump is actually telling Jews that their primary loyalty should be to Israel. As president, he has told American Jews at gatherings that Israel is “your country” and Benjamin Netanyahu is “your prime minister.” Throughout his life, Trump has demonstrated that he believes “all the anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews.” He has said he wants people with yarmulkes counting his money and openly depicts Jews as aggressive lawyers and shrewd businessmen who know how to buy political influence. Yet Trump sees these stereotypes as “admirable,” because he has “always stood solely for his own naked self-interest” and thinks everyone should operate that way. This kind of philo-Semitism by a U.S. president, however, is “deeply dangerous.” It reinforces “the beliefs of bigots” that Jews are rich, powerful, and more loyal to Israel than to the U.S. That kind of love the Jews can do without. At some point, these stereotypes will be “weaponized” against us.
8-30-19 The minimum wage
The minimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped employees is less than $5 per hour in 36 states. About 4.4 million U.S. workers rely on tips to make a living, two-thirds of them women, and many have to frequently work double and triple shifts to make ends meet.
8-30-19 A new way to exploit the servant class
A new underclass of servants is emerging in America, said Derek Thompson. “Wealth work,” or jobs that “cater to the whims of the wealthy,” is one of the country’s fastest-growing industries. “Between 2010 and 2017, the number of manicurists and pedicurists doubled, while the number of fitness trainers and skin-care specialists grew at least twice as fast as the overall labor force.” The work generally falls into two basic categories. There are full-time retail and service jobs at places like salons and spas, and there’s the “Uber for X” economy of contracted workers performing driving, delivery, and other on-demand tasks. In both, there are avenues for exploitation. Perhaps today’s servants might be treated better than the nannies and maids of the 19th century who “had little to no recourse, not even in name, to the protection of the law.” But modern wealth work is also much more impersonalized than it used to be, with relationships between classes “managed through an app.” “The workers of the new servant economy don’t live with their employers, but rather sleep many miles away where they can afford a bedroom.” The new economy “spreads a once intimate job across hundreds of drivers, delivery people, and spa workers” and makes them ever more invisible and alienated.
8-30-19 Fox News host Tucker Carlson
Fox News host Tucker Carlson has lost at least five advertisers in the past two weeks after calling the threat of white supremacy “a hoax” in the aftermath of the El Paso mass shooting. Carlson, who has also said immigration makes the U.S. “poorer and dirtier,” has gone from a high of 36 paid ads per episode in October 2018 to 15 in August 2019.
8-30-19 Alex Housden
Alex Housden, a news anchor at KOCO 5 TV in Oklahoma City, who told her stunned African-American co-anchor, Jason Hackett, that a baby gorilla in a video segment “kind of looks like you.” Housden later tearfully apologized.
8-30-19 ‘The 1619 Project’: A true picture of American history?
White supremacy wasn’t a stated principle of our founding, said Eric Levitz in NYMag.com. But it’s undeniable that the economic expansion of early America was fueled by the forced labor of black slaves, whom whites insisted were inferior creatures designed by God for servitude. The 1619 Project’s great triumph is in how it draws the “genealogical lines” between that openly racist system and its legacy in modern America, including the vast chasm between average white and black family wealth, “the huddled masses in its prisons,” and the abandonment of black inner cities. Indeed, the legacy of slavery can be “found in every nook and cranny of the American experience,” said Jeet Heer in TheNation.com. For a century after the Civil War, whites literally stole land from freed slaves, enacted Jim Crow laws that stripped blacks of nearly all rights, used lynchings and violence to terrorize them into submission, and even excluded blacks from New Deal and post–World War II programs designed to build middle-class wealth. Without the persistent, heroic efforts by African-Americans to force America to live up to the promises in our Constitution, the Times series points out, our democracy “might not be a democracy at all.” The battle isn’t won yet, said Ellis Cose in USA Today. Almost every week, angry “white supremacists with guns” who long to restore America’s historic racial hierarchy are slaughtering their fellow citizens. It is deeply irresponsible to pretend that “the past does not matter—or that it no longer influences who we are.”
8-30-19 Patriotism, belief in God, having children
Among voters 55 and over, 79% list patriotism as a “very important” value; 67% cite “belief in God”; and 54% list “having children.” Among voters 18 to 38, 42% say patriotism is very important; 30% say belief in God; and 32% say having children. They rank tolerance for others, financial security, and self-fulfillment more highly.
8-30-19 There's no such thing as a 'gay gene' finds largest study of sexuality
It’s time to throw out the idea of a “gay gene”. According to the largest ever genetic study of sexual behaviour, there are probably a large number of genes that collectively influence sexuality, each with tiny effects. Previous studies have identified individual genes that may influence how sexual orientation develops in boys and men. But studies like this have always been relatively small. Most human traits seem to be influenced by hundreds or thousands of genes, each with a small effect. So genetic studies need to include genomes from at least hundreds of thousands of people to capture them. “Research in the past has not had anywhere close to the amount of data necessary,” says geneticist Robbee Wedow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Wedow and his colleagues collected data from two huge sources: the UK Biobank, which holds the genomes of 500,000 people aged between 40 and 70, and 23&Me, a company that has sold consumer genetic tests to over 5 million people. Both organisations ask the genomes’ owners to complete questionnaires, including on their sexual behaviour. This gave the team genetic data and information on the corresponding sexual behaviour for around 477,000 people. “This is an enormous leap in terms of sample size,” says John Perry at the University of Cambridge, who co-authored the study. First, the team looked at the similarity of the genomes of people who said they had sex with a person of the same sex. This helped them estimate how much of sexuality is linked to genetics – if a trait is largely determined by genetics, you would expect people with that trait to have similar genomes. The team found that around a third of the variation in this behaviour can be explained by a person’s genes.
8-30-19 There’s no evidence that a ‘gay gene’ exists
Instead, a combo of small genetic factors and environmental influences affects partner choice. Publication of the largest-ever study of the roles of genes in homosexual behavior is fanning the debate over whether being gay is due to genes or environment. First reported at a genetics conference in 2018, the study found five genetic variants associated with having a same-sex sexual partner (SN: 10/20/18). But those variants, called SNPs, don’t predict people’s sexual behavior, researchers report in the Aug. 30 Science. “There is no ‘gay gene’ that determines whether someone has same-sex partners,” says Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the University of Helsinki. Family studies have suggested that genetics account for about 32 percent of heritability of homosexual behavior. But each SNP, or single nucleotide polymorphism, has a very small effect on whether someone has ever had a same-sex sexual partner, the new research found. Taking into account all the SNPs measured in the study, including those that weren’t statistically significantly associated with same-sex behavior, explained only 8 to 25 percent of heritability of same-sex behavior. When considering just those five statistically significant SNPs, that number drops to much less than 1 percent. But those variants could point to biological processes that are involved in choosing sex partners, the researchers say. For instance, one variant identified in the study has been linked to male-pattern baldness, and another to the ability to smell certain chemicals, which may affect sexual attraction. “The study is a big step forward because of its huge size,” says J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who has worked on sexual orientation genetics but was not involved in the work. It included more than 470,000 people, dwarfing previous research.
8-29-19 Equality bill: Why you can still be fired in US for being gay
In May the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed sweeping new civil rights protections for LGBT Americans. The Republican-controlled Senate has yet to act, however, and supporters of the legislation - including pop star Taylor Swift - are getting frustrated. The Equality Act, as it's called, expands workplace, education and public accommodation protections that currently prohibit discrimination based on race, gender and disability to include sexual preference and gender identity. The federal law would nationalise legal safeguards that are currently afforded to varying extent in only 22 states and the District of Columbia. In the remaining states, it is legal for individuals to be refused employment, housing or business services because of their sexual preference or gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign, which has been a champion of the bill, points to the story of Carter Brown, who was outed as transgender at his workplace. He was harassed by co-workers and subsequently fired. Because he lives in Texas, which does not have protections for sexual identity, he had no legal recourse. "If the Equality Act had been in place during my employment, it would have been illegal for my employer to engage in harassment and fire me because I was transgender," Brown told a congressional committee. "My family would not have had to shoulder the burden of my loss of income and worry about my emotional health." While accepting an MTV Video Music Award for her pro-LGBT song on Monday, Swift - who has become an outspoken critic of the president's - said the Equality Act "basically just says we all deserve equal rights under the law". She added that the White House had not responded to her Change.org petition with more than half a million signatures calling for passage of the legislation. She paused and pantomimed tapping a watch on her wrist.
8-30-19 Germany eases citizen rules for WW2 refugee descendants
Germany has enforced two decrees to help families of people who fled the Nazis to take up German citizenship, after a challenge by British descendants of Jewish refugees. Although anyone deprived of citizenship by the Nazis is entitled to have it restored, hundreds of applicants have fallen foul of exemptions in the law. Germany's interior minister said it had to live up to its responsibilities. The UK's planned exit from the EU has led to an increase in applications. As recently as 2015, only 43 descendants of Nazi refugees had applied for German citizenship, but that number swelled to 1,506 in 2016, Germany's DPA news agency reports. Most, but not all, are of Jewish heritage. Earlier this month, the BBC spoke to several people who had fought for German citizenship for years. Sally Morgan said she had been rejected because her request was based on her mother being German, and not her father. For years, a child born to a married couple could only apply if their father was German, not their mother. The law was changed but only dated back to 1953. Jacqueline Boronow-Danson had tried for five years to obtain citizenship but said she had been turned down as she was adopted. Jewish descendants challenge German government Under under Article 116 of Germany's Basic Law, anyone who had their citizenship taken away during the 12 years of Nazi rule from 30 January 1933 to 8 May 1945 "on political, racial, or religious grounds may have their citizenship restored". But there were several exclusions. Some applicants were turned down because they had lost their citizenship before officially having it removed by the Nazis under the Reich Citizens Act of 25 November 1941.
8-29-19 The hidden links between slavery and Wall Street
This month marks 400 years since enslaved Africans were first brought to what is now the United States of America. Slavery was officially abolished in the US in 1865, but historians say the legacy of slavery cannot be untangled from its economic impact. On a hot August day, 25 people are gathered around a small commemorative sign in New York's financial district. Their tour guide explains that this was the site of one of the US' largest slave markets. Just two streets away from the current site of the New York Stock Exchange, men, women and children were bought and sold. "This is not black history," says Damaris Obi who leads the tour. "This is not New York City or American history. This is world history." It is also economic history. Stacey Toussaint, the boss of Inside Out Tours, which runs the NYC Slavery and Underground Railroad tour, says people are often surprised by how important slavery was to New York City. "They don't realise that enslaved people built the wall after which Wall Street is named," she says. By some estimates, New York received 40% of US cotton revenue through money its financial firms, shipping businesses and insurance companies earned. But scholars differ on just how direct a line can be drawn between slavery and modern economic practices in the US. "People in non-slave areas - Britain and free US states - routinely did business with slave owners and slave commerce," says Gavin Wright, professor emeritus of economic history at Stanford University. But he says the "uniqueness" of slavery's economic contribution has been "exaggerated" by some. Slavery thrived under colonial rule. British and Dutch settlers relied on enslaved people to help establish farms and build the new towns and cities that would eventually become the United States. Enslaved people were brought to work on the cotton, sugar and tobacco plantations. The crops they grew were sent to Europe or to the northern colonies, to be turned into finished products. Those finished goods were used to fund trips to Africa to obtain more slaves who were then trafficked back to America. This triangular trading route was profitable for investors. To raise the money to start many future plantation owners turned to capital markets in London - selling debt that was used to purchase boats, goods and eventually people.
8-29-19 Ilhan Omar reveals racist threat to shoot her at state fair
A US Democratic lawmaker has publicised a racist threat that she would be killed at the state fair by "a very capable person with a very big 'Gun'". Ilhan Omar, a Muslim representative from Minnesota, said such anonymous messages are why she now has security guards. She spoke as US Senate candidate Roy Moore tweeted: "President Trump was right, she should go back to Somalia". Alabama Republicans have called for Ms Omar's expulsion from Congress. "I hate that we live in a world where you have to be protected from fellow humans," Ms Omar, who came to the US as a Somali refugee aged 12, wrote on Wednesday. "But until deranged people like this stop threatening my life and the lives of others, I have to accept the reality of having security." Conservatives have repeatedly lashed out at Ms Omar over her stance on Israel, accusing her of anti-Semitism. Ms Omar has also faced censure from her own party over comments on US-Israel relations, but has denied charges of being anti-Semitic. She has apologised in the past for stoking stereotypes of Jews in her remarks against lobbyists. A resolution urging Alabama's congressional delegation to begin expulsion proceedings over Ms Omar's rhetoric on Israel was approved by the state's Republican party over the weekend, AL.com reported. Ms Omar hit back on Tuesday: "I was elected with 78% of the vote by the people of Minnesota's 5th District, not the Alabama Republican Party." She added a jab at Mr Moore, alluding to allegations by three women that he made sexual advances towards them when they were teenagers.
8-28-19 Greta Thunberg: Why are young climate activists facing so much hate?
From the first protest by a single student, the school climate strike movement has been a lightning rod for criticism. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired the now-global movement, has become a primary target. On Wednesday, the 16-year-old arrived in New York after completing her voyage across the Atlantic aboard an environmentally friendly yacht. She faced a barrage of attacks on the way. "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August," Arron Banks, a businessman and prominent Brexit campaigner, tweeted. While Mr Banks said the tweet was a joke, many were outraged. Ms Thunberg is not the only eco-activist under fire, though. Four young climate campaigners told the BBC of the abuse they have been subjected to. One was compared to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels while another said she had been racially abused. These environmentalists have asked difficult questions of politicians, and been ruthlessly derided for doing so. With hostility heightening, why are young climate activists facing so much hate? Since Ms Thunberg's first solo vigil outside Sweden's parliament in August 2018 media attention and criticism have gone hand-in-hand. At first, they were told to stay in school. These students were not on strike, one British Conservative MP tweeted, they were truants. Then there were claims that young climate activists were merely the puppets of adults. In February a far-right Dutch lawmaker said students were being influenced by teachers with a political agenda. When Ms Thunberg travelled to the UK in April, several right-wing media outlets wrote polemics against the teen. One of them, an editorial by the website Spiked, mocked the "apocalyptic dread in her eyes". There were sustained attacks by Germany's far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party ahead of the EU elections in May. Posts about Ms Thunberg and climate change spiked on the party's Facebook page, an investigation, led by Greenpeace Unearthed, found. Weeks later, before her address to the French parliament in July, some far-right and conservative MPs hurled insults at the teen, calling her the "Justin Bieber of ecology" and a "prophetess in shorts". Those who have resorted to personal attacks on the activist appear to be "retreating into various forms of denial", Nigel Thomas, professor of childhood and youth at the University of Lancashire, says. Given the seriousness of scientists' climate warnings, some "may feel threatened by a teenager who has clearly understood and faced up to the trouble we are all in". So far, she has shown restraint, staying mostly above the fray. Her tweeted response to Australian political blogger Andrew Bolt, who described her as "deeply disturbed", was an exception. Instead, Ms Thunberg tends to focus her ire on political leaders. Her brand of environmentalism, however, does not appeal to everyone. In particular, those who "don't like being told what to do" and feel children "don't have the right to say these things", Richard Black, the director of the environmental think tank the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, said. (Webmaster's comment: She has more courage and more truth in her little finger than all the ignorant people attacking her! Having no answer to her arguments these total imbeciles are exposed for what they really are! Those who would rule by bullying and force, not by logic and reason!)
8-28-19 Trump has taken the GOP's 'Kansas experiment' national — with predictable results
It did not take long after former Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed the state's historic 2012 tax cuts — hailed at the time as "one of the largest income tax cuts in Kansas history" — into law for it to become apparent that critics of the so-called "Kansas experiment" had been correct, while proponents of the legislation had been spectacularly and unambiguously wrong. Advocates had promised enormous growth and a plethora of new jobs, but over the next few years the Kansas experiment went exactly as critics had anticipated: economic growth lagged behind other states (and the national average), the state budget collapsed, and Kansas gained fewer jobs than its northern neighbor, Nebraska, which has about a million fewer people. Within a year of the bill's passage, state revenues plummeted by about 10 percent, creating a massive deficit that led lawmakers to cut spending in infrastructure, Medicaid, education, and other areas. The state's public school system was shattered, its roads and bridges deteriorated as money from the "highway fund" was transferred to pay for growing budget shortfalls, and the state's credit rating was downgraded, raising borrowing costs as debt piled up. By 2017, the state's Republican (and Democratic) lawmakers had no choice but to repeal many of the tax cuts after five years of fiscal and economic devastation, ultimately overriding Brownback's veto of the repeal legislation. If what happened in Kansas from 2012 to 2017 was truly an experiment meant to prove or disprove certain theories about fiscal policy, then it was an unequivocal triumph for opponents of supply-side economics. And if proponents were seriously interested in the truth, they would have at the very least begun to question the central claims that have guided Republican fiscal policy for the better part of the last 50 years.
8-27-19 Why are people in the USA living shorter lives?
While most of the world’s population can look forward to living longer, white people in the United States without a college degree are living shorter lives due to an epidemic of drug abuse and alcoholism. Nobel economist Sir Angus Deaton says these "deaths of despair" are driven by inequality. (Webmaster's comment: They are mostly white suprematists who grew up being taught they would be entitled because they were white, that they would not have to work hard to make a living.)
8-27-19 Opioid crisis: Johnson & Johnson hit by landmark ruling
Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma's opioid addiction crisis, a judge in the US state has ruled. The company said immediately after the judgement that it would appeal. The case was the first to go to trial out of thousands of lawsuits filed against opioid makers and distributors. Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths in the US from 1999 to 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2000, some 6,000 people in Oklahoma have died from opioid overdoses, according to the state's lawyers. Earlier this year, Oklahoma settled with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for $270m and Teva Pharmaceutical for $85m, leaving Johnson & Johnson as the lone defendant. During Oklahoma's seven-week non-jury trial, lawyers for the state argued that Johnson & Johnson carried out a years-long marketing campaign that minimised the addictive painkillers' risks and promoted their benefits. The state's lawyers had called Johnson & Johnson an opioid "kingpin" and argued that its marketing efforts created a public nuisance as doctors over-prescribed the drugs, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in Oklahoma. Johnson & Johnson vigorously denied wrongdoing, arguing that its marketing claims had scientific support and that its painkillers, Duragesic and Nucynta, made up a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma. Judge Thad Balkman, of Cleveland County District Court in Norman, Oklahoma, said prosecutors had demonstrated that Johnson & Johnson contributed to a "public nuisance" in its deceptive promotion of highly addictive prescription painkillers. "Those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans. The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans," he said in his ruling. The payment would be used for the care and treatment of opioid addicts, he said. The outcome of the case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in about 2,000 opioid lawsuits due to go to trial in Ohio in October, unless the parties can reach a settlement. (Webmaster's comment: There is no limit to corporate executive greed!)
8-26-19 Nuclear weapons and hurricanes don't mix, NOAA advises
Using nuclear weapons to destroy hurricanes is not a good idea, a US scientific agency has said, following reports that President Donald Trump wanted to explore the option. The Axios news website said Mr Trump had asked several national security officials about the possibility. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the results would be "devastating". Mr Trump has denied making the suggestion. Hurricanes typically affect the US east coast, often causing serious damage. It's not the first time the idea has been considered. Following reports of Mr Trump's suggestion, the hashtag #ThatsHowTheApocalyseStarted has been trending on Twitter. Mr Trump asked why the US couldn't drop a bomb into the eye of the storm to stop it from making landfall, news site Axios said. The NOAA says that using nuclear weapons on a hurricane "might not even alter the storm" and the "radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas". The difficulty with using explosives to change hurricanes, it says, is the amount of energy needed. The heat release of a hurricane is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Even though the mechanical energy of a bomb is closer to that of the storm, "the task of focusing even half of the energy on a spot in the middle of a remote ocean would be formidable", it adds. "Attacking weak tropical waves or depressions before they have a chance to grow into hurricanes isn't promising either," says the NOAA. "About 80 of these disturbances form every year in the Atlantic basin but only about five become hurricanes in a typical year. There is no way to tell in advance which ones will develop." (Webmaster's comment: Trump is INSANE!)
8-25-19 LA policeman who said sniper shot him 'made it up'
Authorities in Los Angeles say a sheriff's deputy who claimed he had been shot by a sniper actually cut two fake bullet holes in his uniform with a knife and made the whole thing up. Police launched a massive manhunt last Wednesday after Angel Reinosa called in to say he was pinned down by gunfire. "I'm taking shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad, I'm hit in the right shoulder," said a frantic Mr Reinosa. "My shirt's ripped to the right. I think it's from the apartment window." Mr Reinosa has been relieved of his duties and is facing a criminal investigation. Police launched a massive manhunt, focusing on the apartment building cited by Mr Reinosa. A SWAT team and armoured vehicles blocked off roads around the building and officers searched through the night for the alleged sniper. The deputy was taken to hospital. "He is doing great, thankfully," Sheriff's Captain Todd Weber said at the time. "The wound was minor and he's been treated and he's doing well, in high spirits." The only problem was, there was no wound. Mr Reinosa has now admitted fabricating the sniper fire and using a knife to cut two fake bullet holes in the shoulder area of his shirt. It was not immediately clear why it took so long to notice that Mr Reinosa had not suffered any wounds. "There were many things that didn't add up," said Sheriff's Captain Kent Wegener, adding that the deputy's account of events "didn't make a whole lot of sense". He said the deputy had "failed to provide information regarding his motivation for this act". (Webmaster's comment: The police can be just as crooked as anybody else.)
8-25-19 Is the US still Asia's only military superpower?
US pre-eminence in the Pacific is no more. For a long time experts have been speaking about China's rapid military modernisation referring to it as "a rising power". But this analysis may be out of date. China is not so much a rising power; it has risen; and in many ways it now challenges the US across a number of military domains. This is the conclusion of a new report from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia. It warns that US defence strategy in the Indo-Pacific region "is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis" and that Washington might struggle to defend its allies against China. "America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific", it notes, "and its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain." The report points to Beijing's extraordinary arsenal of missiles that threaten the key bases of the US and its allies. These installations, it asserts, "could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict". China is not a global superpower like the United States. Indeed it is doubtful if its military ambitions extend that far (though this too may be changing as it slowly develops a network of ports and bases abroad). For now its global reach depends much more on the power of its economy. China lacks the "proselytising zeal" - the sense of over-seas mission, that over the twentieth century saw the US strive for global dominance. It also has nothing like the soft-power pull of the United States - no equivalent to blue jeans, Hollywood or burgers - to encourage people to share its values. Indeed according to many indices Washington's raw military punch still greatly out-weighs that of Beijing. Washington's nuclear arsenal (and indeed Moscow's) is significantly larger than that available to Beijing. The US still retains a technological edge in key areas like intelligence collection; ballistic missile defence; and the latest generation warplanes. The US can also rely upon a deeply entrenched network of alliances both in Asia and through Nato in Europe. China has nothing like this kind of alliance system. But it is fast eroding Washington's technical edge. And in any case what matters to China is Asia and what it sees in expansive terms as its own back-yard. Two key factors - focus and proximity - mean that in Asia, China is already a superpower to rival the US. (Webmaster's comment: Why does the United States need to be a global superpower? To intimidate other nations to allow our corporations to rape their nations of their resources.)
8-24-19 Facebook’s ad data may put millions of gay people at risk
Millions of gay people living in countries where homosexuality is outlawed could be put at risk by Facebook’s advertising practices. This is because the firm allows advertisers to target people on the basis of their interests, including sexual ones. Ángel Cuevas Rumín at Charles III University of Madrid, Spain, and his colleagues analysed the list of options available for targeting adverts on Facebook. They found that about 2000 of the options would be classed as “sensitive” information under Europe’s recent GDPR data protection law. These include a person’s politics, race or sexuality. Some two-thirds of Facebook users in the 197 countries and states the team looked at were tagged with at least one such preference, accounting for a fifth of the overall population. In Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality can be punished with death, the team found in February that 540,000 people were labelled as having an interest in homosexuality. The team revisited that number in August and it had nearly doubled to 940,000 people. Overall, Cuevas’s team found that there were more than 4.2 million people tagged as interested in homosexuality living in countries where homosexuality is illegal. These people could be targeted using Facebook’s ad tools. While there is no suggestion that anyone has been identified or killed as a result of this practice, such information could be used to identify people and collect information on them. For example, an advert directed at a particular group could offer a prize to people if they enter their personal details. Facebook says that just because someone shows an interest in something doesn’t mean they have that attribute. You could like a page about gay men, for example, without being a gay man yourself. However, there is likely to be overlap between the two groups.
8-23-19 Gun shy
President Trump phoned National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre this week and reportedly assured him that universal background checks for gun sales are “off the table,” reversing the public stance he took after 31 people were shot dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In the wake of those shootings, Trump said, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks.” He reportedly told LaPierre on Aug. 7 that people “will love us” for enforcing background checks on all gun purchases, including private transactions—a bill House Democrats had already approved. Yet the NRA pressured Trump to oppose that bill, and he’s since adopted their talking points, saying, “It is not the gun that pulls the trigger, it is the person holding the gun.” He also blamed mental illness for gun violence, despite having rolled back Obama-era regulations making it more difficult for the mentally ill to buy guns.
8-23-19 Why so many US 'mass shooting' arrests suddenly?
In the last three weeks US authorities have arrested at least 28 people accused of threatening acts of mass violence. What's behind this surge and could they all be convicted? The threats ranged from posts on social media and video gaming sites to verbal comments to colleagues and friends. In at least two cases, suspects sent text messages to ex-partners. Hoards of weapons were also found in some cases. The FBI won't say what is behind the steep bump in apprehensions, some carried out by that agency, others by local police. It's not clear if it marks a growth in threats or simply a rise in awareness and tip-offs. But former FBI boss Andrew McCabe said on Friday there was undoubtedly a "renewed awareness" focused on the sort of threats that a few months ago might have been ignored by investigators mindful of the right to free speech as enshrined in the US Constitution. The first amendment offers broad protection of free speech, even if that speech is racist or of a violent nature. Prosecutions in the US are further complicated by the second amendment which safeguards the right to bear arms. So what can be done to stop a shooter before they strike? More than two dozen people are reported to have been arrested for making threats to carry out mass violence since the 3 August shooting in El Paso. Many of the alleged plots foiled by US law enforcement included plans to target specific minority groups. But without any federal penalties in place for acts of domestic terrorism - like those that exist for international terrorism - the charges varied - false threats, terrorist threats, illegal possession of weapons and disorderly conduct. It's unclear how these various cases will fare at trial. For charges asserting threats of violence, the threats must be highly specific, accompanied by evidence of imminent danger.
8-23-19 Stopping shootings: Norwalk, Conn.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Youngstown, Ohio; Chicago; Memphis
Five men were arrested in separate incidents over the past two weeks for plotting mass violence. In Ohio, James Reardon, 20, threatened to shoot up a Youngstown Jewish community center. Reardon attended the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia and spoke of wanting “a homeland for white people.” In Florida, authorities found 400 rounds of ammunition in the apartment of Tristan Wix, 25, who had sent a text saying he wanted to “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever.” After Brandon Wagshol, 22, of Connecticut expressed interest on Facebook in committing a mass shooting, police found military-style gear at his home. Thomas McVicker, 38, allegedly told a friend he planned to shoot up a Memphis church. And Farhan Sheikh of Chicago posted about plans “to slaughter and murder” anyone at an abortion clinic. He told FBI agents he was joking.
8-23-19 Attack by white nationalists
After the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, 68% of Americans say they are worried there will be another attack by white nationalists. 62% now support banning the sale of assault weapons, and 89% support expanding background checks for all gun sales. However, 45% are worried about government overreach in restricting gun rights.
8-23-19 Attend services fully armed
Some U.S. churches are arming and training their congregations to fight back against an active shooter. Fellowship of the Parks church in Fort Worth encourages off-duty police officers to attend services fully armed and has recently hired the company Sheepdog Defense Group to train congregants in active-shooter defense. “Ten years ago, this industry was not a thing,” said SDG founder David Riggall. “I mean, ‘sanctuary’ means a safe place.”
8-23-19 No yelling, shouting or protesting
When President Trump held a rally at a Royal Dutch Shell petrochemical plant outside Pittsburgh last week, the union gave workers two choices: Attend the rally and get paid time and a half or take the day off without pay. “No yelling, shouting, protesting, or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event,” one contractor told its workers at the site in a memo.
8-23-19 China is winning the trade war
Look past the rhetoric and you’ll see America is losing the trade war with China, said Shawn Tully. President Trump said that Chinese manufacturers would reduce prices to absorb the cost of his tariffs. They haven’t. On the contrary, in 2018, U.S. domestic prices rose “one-to-one with tariffs levied in that year,” according to one new study. Consumers paid every dollar of those tariffs. But at least the government collected that levy and could “cycle it into the economy by funding anything from aid to farmers” to infrastructure. Now, though, companies looking to save on the 25 percent tariffs have gone to costlier, less efficient producers in other countries, such as Mexico and Bangladesh. The companies overpay by as much as 20 percent, consumers still take a hit, and the government gets nothing. By contrast, look at China. “Instead of slapping one-size-fits-all tariffs across vast categories of goods, Chinese President Xi Jinping is targeting only products the country can’t buy at comparable cost elsewhere.” China has imposed a 28 percent levy on soybeans from the U.S., because it can get them from Brazil and Argentina. But the duties on airplanes, cars, and pharmaceuticals remain below 3 percent. “At the same time, China has lowered tariffs on every other country,” making it even harder for U.S. manufacturers to compete.
8-23-19 Immigration: Don’t give us your ‘wretched’
Sorry, Emma Lazarus, it’s time for a rewrite, said Zak Cheney-Rice in NYMag.com. Her 1883 poem, “The New Colossus,” inscribed at the Statue of Liberty’s base, famously reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—a “welcoming” message on behalf of a nation of immigrants. But last week, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced a new rule barring green cards to legal immigrants who get any public assistance—even Medicaid—and proposed an update: “Give me your tired and your poor…who can stand on their own two feet.” Cuccinelli clarified that when Lazarus wrote “wretched” masses, she was thinking of “Europeans” who weren’t really all that poor. In other words, nonwhite people from “s---hole” countries need not apply. Cuccinelli is ignoring his own lineage, said Dave Goldiner and Laura Nahmias in the New York Daily News. His great-grandfather was a dirt-poor Italian laborer who arrived “with no education and little or nothing to his name.” All that separates the Cuccinellis from today’s black and brown immigrants “is time.” When Lazarus wrote her poem, said Esther Schor in The New York Times, the “wretched” immigrants were Eastern European Jewish refugees, who streamed into New York Harbor amid fears that an “army of Jewish paupers” who didn’t speak English would burden America. Lazarus argued through her poem that “aiding the poor and oppressed of all lands was the mission of America.” The ethnicity and skin color of immigrants may have changed since 1883, said Daniel Fried in CNN.com, but their spirit is the same. “Immigrants who walk 2,000 miles to reach our southern border” and “take jobs in poultry plants at minimum wage or less,” are quite capable of “standing on their own two feet.”
8-23-19 Deportation as a death sentence
The Trump administration is deporting thousands of legal immigrants back to countries “they barely know,” said Chris Gelardi. Jimmy Aldaoud, a 41-year-old Michigan man, recently died from untreated diabetes just months after he was deported to Iraq, where he “had no language skills, no luggage from home, no place to live, and no family connections.” Aldaoud, who was severely mentally ill, had never even been to Iraq. He was born in Greece to Iraqi Christian refugees, who brought him to the U.S. as a baby. His mental illness led to homelessness and multiple arrests, giving the Trump administration an excuse to ship him overseas. Such heartlessness is now official U.S. policy. ICE considers about 120,000 immigrants who came here as refugees “deportable” if they have any crime on their record, including selling marijuana and drunk driving. Deportations to Somalia, Cambodia, and Eritrea are soaring, as people who’ve spent decades in the U.S. are sent to countries where crime and political repression are rife. In March, a 30-year-old deportee died in a restaurant bombing in Mogadishu. An Eritrean deportee was so distraught he killed himself en route to his native country. There will be many more Jimmy Aldaouds.
8-23-19 Israel: Banning U.S. lawmakers from visiting
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made himself “Donald Trump’s poodle,” said Eric Yoffie in Haaretz. His own ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, had announced last month that two American Muslim congresswomen, Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, would be allowed to visit this country despite their support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. But then the U.S. president tweeted that it would “show great weakness” if Israel let in the lawmakers—two of his favorite foes—and Netanyahu quickly “played the shameless sycophant” and rescinded his permission. That’s because Netanyahu is deeply in debt to Trump, said Chemi Shalev, also in Haaretz. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively ceding the divided city to Israel, and he recognized our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, once part of Syria. Netanyahu simply couldn’t ignore his plea now—especially not a month before an Israeli election. But it’s an ugly look for Israel. Trump’s rage against the lawmakers has more to do with “a long line of incidents proving his animus toward dark-skinned foreigners” than with their anti-Semitism. Yet this ban is already backfiring, said Orly Azoulay in Yedioth Ahronoth. Had the two lawmakers made their trip, Americans would have heard about “the poor conditions” in the Palestinian territories—something the foreign press routinely reports. But now Americans are having a whole conversation about “the deterioration of democracy in Israel” and whether our nation “is worthy of the massive financial support it receives”—some $3.8 billion a year in military aid alone. The BDS movement is getting priceless exposure, and “the word ‘apartheid’ is back in the political discourse.”
8-23-19 America’s original sin
The first enslaved people arrived in Virginia 400 years ago this month. How did slavery shape our country?
- Who brought in the first slaves? Sometime in late August of 1619, more than a year before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, an English privateer ship named the White Lion carrying between 20 and 30 Africans in chains landed at Point Comfort in Virginia. The crew traded the human cargo to colonists from nearby Jamestown in exchange for food.
- How were these people treated?: At first, the Africans were considered indentured servants, not slaves, because many of them had been baptized Christian when they were seized. They were forced to work in the tobacco fields, laboring in the hot sun alongside about 1,000 white indentured servants.
- What changed? Whites gradually imposed a rigid racial caste system that locked Africans and their descendants into perpetual status as lesser beings with no rights. By the 1650s, many enslaved Africans were held to service for life.
- Why did slavery spread? It made slave owners rich. In this pre-industrial era, Southern planters growing labor-intensive crops like tobacco, rice, and indigo had an insatiable need for human toil, and slaves were cheaper than indentured servants.
- How did slavery affect the U.S.? Slave labor was critical to the economic success of the American colonies and the early republic. Enslaved workers even built the Capitol and the White House in Washington, D.C.
- Slavery’s imprint on the present: The abolition of slavery did not end white supremacy. Wealthy white Southerners lost most of their wealth right after the Civil War, but regained most of it by re-establishing the region’s aristocracy and oppressive racial hierarchy.
“Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on nonwhite people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor.”
8-23-19 Greenland: Trump’s biggest deal yet?
“Donald Trump wants to buy Greenland, because of course he does,” said Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star. The real estate mogul turned president has been talking about it to his staff for months. “If only they had tittered, the world might have been spared this.” But instead Trump’s sycophants resorted to their customary “Right as usual, Mr. President” or “Do you know that Nuuk doesn’t have a single decent hotel?” As a result of their cowardice, Trump really is talking publicly about making an unsolicited offer to purchase a glacier-covered expanse of emptiness owned by Denmark and inhabited by just 56,000 hardy Inuits. “We’ll talk to them about it,” Trump said. “Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen immediately pushed back, insisting, “Greenland is not for sale.” Here to America’s north, we sincerely hope the Danes stand firm. For surely, “after buying Greenland, Trump will turn his eye on Canada.” (Webmaster's comment: Trump would destroy the Inuits and their culture and the island itself in a drive for more American corporate executive profits.)
8-23-19 White supremacy gangs in the US: How and why people join
In 2016, CCTV footage of a young black man, Larnell Bruce, being run over and killed by a man shocked America. His killer, Russell Courtier, was a member of a white supremacist gang. Why do people join these gangs and what does it take to get in one? Journalist Mobeen Azhar travelled deep into the heart of America’s far right movement to find out.
8-23-19 Hail Satan?: The Satanists battling for religious freedom
Everything you know about Satanism is wrong. At least that's what a new documentary about the Satanic Temple could be about to prove. Despite the similarity of the name, the Temple is different to The Church of Satan, established in 1966 by chat show circuit celebrity Anton LaVey in San Francisco, California. Human sacrifice? Wrong. Blood drinking? Wrong. Black Mass? Well, sort of right. The Temple was founded in 2013 with a mission statement "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will". Hail Satan? directed by US film-maker Penny Lane, follows the Temple's attempts to curtail what they see as the encroachment of Christianity on US life through its growing political influence. That creeping theocracy results in a monument to the Ten Commandments being offered pride of place at the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City. The Temple's response is to ask for a space for their own statue of the Satanic deity Baphomet in a bid to restore some kind of cosmic religious balance, all the while preaching a doctrine in support of social justice and human rights. "We want people to evaluate the United States being a Christian nation," the Temple's spokesman Lucien Greaves says in the film's trailer. "It's not". "I had heard about the Satanic Temple when they were doing their campaign in Oklahoma," says Lane. "I thought it was a very funny joke from afar, that they were sort of pretending to be Satanists, but I discovered they had at that point 50,000 members. "The more I looked into it, the more rich and confusing and provocative and interesting it became." The film follows the eloquent, intelligent Greaves as he and his fellow Satanists encourage people to give blood, collect socks for the homeless, clean public beaches (using small pitchforks - a cute touch) and hold Satanic after-school clubs for children who are taught about the Temple's tenets which include: 1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason. People are fallible. 2. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
8-22-19 Fake news is 'reinforced by false memories'
A study into false memories highlights the risks of "fake news" spreading via social media. Volunteers were shown fabricated news reports in the week before Ireland's 2018 abortion law referendum. Nearly half of them subsequently claimed to have had prior memories of at least one of the made-up events detailed. And many failed to question their false recollections even after being told the articles they had read might be fake. The 3,140 participants had been more likely to have created false memories if the reports had lied about the side they had opposed, the study added. The peer-reviewed work supports prior research into the phenomenon. But its authors say it is the first time the problem has been tested in relation to a real-world referendum at the time it was being held. One of academics told BBC News it highlighted how difficult it could be to "undo" spurious memories once they had been created. "Memory is a reconstructive process and we are vulnerable to suggestion distorting our recollections, without our conscious awareness," Dr Gillian Murphy, of University College Cork, said. "The implications for any upcoming elections are that voters are vulnerable to not just believing a fake news story but falsely recalling that the [made-up] event truly happened." Facebook used to display red warning flags alongside news stories third-party websites had judged to be fake news. But it ditched the strategy after saying it could entrench deeply held beliefs rather than calling them into question. Instead, it and other social networks now aim to limit the spread of fake stories, provide wider context and shut down state-backed propaganda accounts. Even so, one UK-based fact-checking charity said more needed to be done. "These findings are concerning and link to previous studies showing how once something is in our memory, it is harder to correct it," said Amy Sippitt, research manager at Full Fact. "That's why it's important to tackle the causes of bad information to prevent it from arising in the first place." The danger of fake news leading to false memories has been known about for years.
8-22-19 US moves to abolish child migrant custody limits
Migrant families who cross the southern border of the US illegally could be detained indefinitely under a new regulation announced by the Trump administration. It replaces an agreement that set a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody. The move, announced by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, is due to come into effect in 60 days. Mexico has expressed concern and said it would consider legal action. The Mexican foreign ministry said the detention of children and adolescents "could be prolonged indefinitely, given the continuing delay in attending to migration cases". Other legal challenges are also expected. Homeland security officials believe that time limits on the detentions of migrant families have driven the surge of Central Americans crossing the border into the US this year. They argue that the new regulation will counter the belief that bringing children into the US is "a passport" to being freed from detention after a short period. "Today the government has issued a critical rule that will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system," said Mr McAleenan. "This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress and ensures that all children in US government custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) condemned the policy, saying: "The government should not be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn't be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer." It comes as the White House seeks to enact a "public charge" rule that would prohibit legal migrants from accessing social services such as food aid. The Trump administration has also recently moved to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants. (Webmaster's comment: The children can now be sold into the American human trafficking system and used as sex slaves. Who would ever know!)
8-22-19 California hotel employee 'prevents mass shooting'
California police say a hotel worker may have prevented a mass shooting after the worker reported that a disgruntled colleague had threatened to shoot staff and guests. Acting on the tip-off, officers arrested a 37-year-old man who was found to have high-powered weapons and ammunition at his Los Angeles home. It comes amid a wider FBI effort to prevent such shootings. That followed attacks in El Paso and Dayton that killed 31 people. Since then US authorities say they have foiled a series of alleged plots to carry out attacks, some of which would have targeted minority groups. The FBI has reportedly instructed its field offices to conduct threat assessments and has also urged the public to report threats or suspicious activity. Rodolfo Montoya made the threat to someone he worked with at a Marriott hotel near Long Beach airport, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said. "Thank God that employee decided to bring that information forward," he told reporters. Police said they seized multiple firearms including an assault rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and tactical gear from his home in Huntington Beach. The assault rifle and high-capacity magazines were illegal in California, a statement said. Early investigations revealed that Mr Montoya was upset over "human resource issues", police said. He had "clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident," Chief Luna said.
8-22-19 The false prophet in the White House
On Tuesday, the president of the United States accused Jews of disloyalty and stupidity, a congresswoman of anti-Semitism, Democrats of planning to abolish the Second Amendment, and a former employee of "gross incompetence." He also suggested that Russia be readmitted into the G7 and cancelled a trip to Denmark because its prime minister wouldn't let him buy Greenland. The day will go down in history as — to quote George Conway — "Tuesday." The next morning, President Trump logged onto Twitter and attacked the prime minister of Denmark, attacked the chair of the Federal Reserve, attacked "The Fake News LameStream Media," attacked "the politically correct Automobile Companies," and thanked and quoted a guy comparing him to Jesus Christ. The guy is Wayne Allyn Root, a radio talk-show host and a self-described "Jew turned evangelical Christian." A couple of hours later, Trump referred to himself as "the chosen one." Many people are saying this. Trump is beloved, even worshipped, by people who love Jesus and abhor Mexicans named Jesús. At CPAC in February, Mike Lindell, the Jesus-loving CEO of My Pillow, said, "I see the greatest president in history. Of course he is. He was chosen by God." Last year, Candace Owens tweeted: "I truly believe that @realDonaldTrump isn't just the leader of the free world, but the savior of it as well." In April, Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted: "Only God could deliver such a savior to our nation." That same month, former congresswoman Michele Bachman said, "We will, in all likelihood, never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes." Judging by the way things are going, we may never see another president again in our lifetimes. In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) presciently warned, "We're liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark."
8-21-19 YouTube has become such a garbage fire it is time to dump it for good
To make the internet a better place we could start by switching off the world’s biggest video sharing site amid claims its algorithms magnify fringe views, says Annalee Newitz A FEW years ago, the biggest complaint about YouTube was that if you left it running, you would eventually find yourself watching Psy’s Gangnam Style music video for the 40,000th time. How I long for the days when all we had to worry about was too much bouncy K-pop. Now, YouTube’s algorithm leads us in the opposite direction, autoplaying ever more marginal videos rather than more popular ones. As a result, according to a two-year investigation by the New York Times YouTube has been one of the major forces pulling fringe politics and conspiracy theories into the mainstream. To make matters worse, allegations that children were forced to perform for camera has led to the closure of at least two popular YouTube channels in the US And this is on top of recent accusations from YouTube employees, denied by the company, that it won’t enforce its content rules for prominent YouTubers, allowing some channels to get out of control. Put simply, YouTube is a garbage fire and it is high time to throw the whole thing away. Let me make one thing clear. I love DIY video. Nothing is more delightful than watching people yell about anime, explain the origins of the universe, melt giant cubes of cheddar with red hot nickel balls (look it up) and dance to, well, anything. The problem is that YouTube, which is owned by Google, is doing more than allowing people to share fun stuff. It is working hard to sculpt its users into the ideal audience for video adverts. And the ideal audience is one that can’t look away. Ever. This is where the algorithm that chooses your next video comes in. Sometime in 2016, someone seems to have realised that the average human would spend more time on YouTube if the platform could recreate the psychological experience of seeing a horrific auto accident When the video you want to watch is over, YouTube will autoplay another that is the same, just more so. And so on, until you are watching somebody in a hockey mask explaining how aliens are controlling the cheese economy, and Brexit is the only defence.
8-21-19 President Trump: 'I am the chosen one'
Telling reporters he is the first US president to take on China over trade, Donald Trump looks up to the sky and strikes a man-of-destiny tone.
8-21-19 US moves to abolish child migrant custody limits
Migrant families who cross the southern border of the US illegally could be detained indefinitely under a new regulation announced by the Trump administration. It replaces an agreement that set a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody. The move was announced by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and is due to come into effect in 60 days. It is expected to face legal challenge. Homeland security officials believe that time limits on the detentions of migrant families has driven the surge of Central American families crossing the border into the US this year. They argue that the new regulation will counter the belief that bringing children into the US is "a passport" to being freed from detention after a short period. "Today the government has issued a critical rule that will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system," said Mr McAleenan. "This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress and ensures that all children in US government custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability." What does the new regulation do? It aims to replace a decades-old court agreement - known as the Flores settlement - that both limited how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they must receive. A 2015 legal ruling on this issue specified that children should be held for no more than 20 days. Under the new rules, the government could send families caught crossing the border illegally to family residential centres for the duration of their their immigration cases.
8-21-19 Trump accuses Jewish Democrat voters of 'great disloyalty'
US President Donald Trump has said Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party show "either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty". The remark drew sharp criticism that Mr Trump had used an anti-Semitic trope that accuses Jews of 'dual loyalty'. The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the president was trying to "weaponise and politicise anti-Semitism" for political gain. The remark followed attacks by Mr Trump on two Democratic congresswomen. The president has repeatedly accused Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib of anti-Semitism. Under pressure from Mr Trump, Israel last week blocked Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib from entering the country. The two women, who are prominent critics of the Israeli government, had been due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel later agreed to let Ms Tlaib make a "humanitarian" visit to her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, but she declined, saying she could not comply with the "oppressive conditions" being imposed. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Trump said: "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." The remark was denounced by a number of Jewish American groups, which said it called on an established anti-semitic trope that accuses Jews of being more devoted to Israel than to their own countries. "If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being 'loyal' to him, then Trump needs a reality check", Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, wrote on Twitter. Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, said "charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews", while the American Jewish Committee described the remark as "inappropriate, unwelcome and downright dangerous".
8-21-19 Texas school district sued for colouring in teen's hair
Parents of a teenager who had his hair style filled in with a black marker pen have filed a civil rights suit against the Texas school district. In April, a 13-year-old identified as JT came to Berry Miller Junior High School with an M shaved on his head. The school principal, along with two colleagues, "took the jet-black Sharpie and started colouring JT's scalp" without his consent, the suit says. The haircut allegedly violated the school's dress code policy. At the time, according to CBS News, the code mandated that hair "must be neat, clean and well-groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed". But the lawsuit says that the teenager felt "extremely degraded" after the incident, which it alleges was racist. "The haircut did not depict anything violent, gang-related, obscene or otherwise offensive or inappropriate in any manner," the suit reportedly says, noting that a fade haircut "is common with African American youth". JT's parents have filed their complaint against Pearland Independent School District, as well as Principal Tony Barcelona, disciple clerk Helen Day and teacher Jeanette Peterson. All three school officials allegedly laughed as they used the permanent marker to colour JT's scalp. But the lawsuit notes that the pen "made the design more prominent", and says his parents would have had the haircut changed had they been notified.
8-21-19 How the police protect themselves from prosecution
f justice delayed is justice denied, the justice accomplished in Monday's firing of New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who in 2014 killed Eric Garner with a chokehold while he begged for his life, was constricted to the smallest possible measure. As Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said to reporters Monday, "Yeah, Pantaleo, you may have lost your job, but I lost a son." Coming as it does five years after Garner's death, this termination is remarkable in two senses. Measured against normal employment standards — the sort that would apply to me and probably you or indeed almost anyone, even those in dangerous roles — it is remarkable that the firing took this long. A man is dead. An unarmed man who stood accused of pennies' worth of tax evasion is dead. A man who, per the video of his final moments, posed no threat to the officers harassing him. Were his killer anyone but a police officer, were Pantaleo clad in any other uniform as he squeezed the breath out of Garner, it is impossible to imagine he would have remained employed. Ordinary people whose moments of poor behavior or ill judgment have gone viral have lost their jobs over much less. An offensive joke or an uncouth tweet is enough to get you the boot. If your on-the-job conduct killed a man, you would not continue to be on the job. And yet measured against the employment standards police in America enjoy, it is remarkable Pantaleo's termination happened at all. "Growing up, many of us were taught that we should hold people in power to a higher standard. Yet, so very often, protections for police officers cut precisely the other way," Jonathan Blanks, a research associate in the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice, told me. "Officers violate people's rights, sometimes even killing them, and they are not held accountable for their lethal mistakes. They aren't prosecuted for killing unarmed people if they can convince a judge or prosecutor they were scared; they are often not fired or even reprimanded for their error; and even when there is a wrongful death settlement, boilerplate language explicitly denies that the municipality or the officer accept any blame for the incident." There are many reasons for this disparity. One, as detailed earlier today by my colleague Joel Mathis, is the bargaining power of police unions, which in addition to more reasonable tasks busy themselves with keeping cops employed even after gross misconduct. But unions aren't the sole factor here.
8-19-19 Eric Garner: NY officer in 'I can't breathe' death fired
The New York City police officer involved in the high-profile 2014 chokehold death of an African-American man has been fired. Daniel Pantaleo was sacked over the death of Eric Garner, whose dying words "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for protests against police brutality. A state grand jury declined to press criminal charges. After a lengthy civil rights investigation, federal prosecutors said last month they would bring no charges. The decision, based on the recommendation of a police department disciplinary judge, was announced by New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill on Monday. Mr Pantaleo was suspended while awaiting the commissioner's decision. In explaining his decision, Mr O'Neill said mobile phone video of Garner's death clearly shows the officer used a chokehold, which is banned by the New York Police Department (NYPD). "It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer serve as a New York City police officer," Mr O'Neill said. "Had I been in Officer Pantaleo's situation, I may have made similar mistakes," he continued." None of us can take back our decisions," he said, adding: "Especially when they lead to the death of another human being." Mr Pantaleo's lawyer said he would appeal against the commissioner's decision to fire him. (Webmaster's comment: The choke hold was illegal and the officer used it! That's murder and the officer should be charged with MURDER!)
8-20-19 The unjust power of police unions
To hear Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch tell it, New York's rank-and-file are the real victims in the Eric Garner case. On Monday, Officer Daniel Pantaleo was fired from the New York Police Department. An administrative judge earlier this month ruled that Pantaleo was reckless when he used a chokehold to subdue Garner in the summer of 2014. Garner's death was caught on viral video, as were his complaints that he couldn't breathe as police brought him down. Pantaleo's firing, after five years of investigations and inaction by city leaders, struck many observers as long overdue. After the firing was announced, though, Lynch went before the news media to express his rage and victimhood. "Our police officers are in distress, not because they have a difficult job, not because they put themselves in danger, but because they realize they are abandoned," he lamented. Lynch even seemed to hint that New York officers should stage a work slowdown in response to the firing. So much for "protect and serve." If there was a chance that Pantaleo's firing might offer some measure of healing in the Garner case, Lynch's news conference effectively wrecked it. It was an ugly but unsurprising moment. Police unions like the PBA are great at protecting the jobs of rogue and subpar officers. That leads them to resist accountability in matters like Eric Garner's death, which means they are often destructive to the necessary task of building trust between those officers and the communities they serve. This isn't just a New York issue. In 2017, The Washington Post reported that more than 1,800 officers in the nation's largest departments had been fired for misconduct over the previous decade — and that thanks to protections offered by union contracts, more than 450 officers got their jobs back. In Philadelphia, a 2013 report revealed that 90 percent of officers fired for cause — for cases involving matters as seemingly clear-cut as shoplifting and sexual misconduct — had been restored to duty after arbitration, usually with full benefits and back pay.
8-20-19 The Family: 'Raised in a doomsday cult, I entered the real world at 15'
For the first 15 years of his life, Ben Shenton lived in a doomsday cult that thought the world would soon end. Instead the police arrived one day and plunged him into a new and unfamiliar world… the real one. Tucked away in their home on the shores of Australia's Lake Eildon, behind heavy foliage and barbed wire, seven children in matching outfits and bleached blonde haircuts were finishing their morning hatha yoga practice when they heard a commotion on the stairs. Suddenly uniformed police officers stormed into the room and gathered the children up. Moments later they whisked them away from the five-acre compound, into a new reality that would take 15-year-old Ben Shenton years to fully understand. Up to that moment in August 1987, his world had been shaped by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, a glamorous and charismatic yoga instructor who, in the late 1960s, had persuaded her followers to join a cult she called The Family. Members believed that Anne was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that when the world ended they would be responsible for re-educating the survivors. Ben and the other children were told that Anne was their mother. She taught them to avoid outsiders and if any approached them - on the shore of the lake perhaps - to follow the mantra Unseen, Unheard, Unknown. "It was very much a thing of: you do not tell any outside person who is not a sect member anything," Ben says. "If I had any interaction with them, I would check through what I said to make sure that I hadn't revealed anything." Members of Anne's inner circle, known as "aunties", helped looked after Ben and the other children. They woke at 5am in dormitory-style rooms and followed an unchanging routine: yoga, meditation, lessons, yoga, meditation, homework, bed. Though there were only a handful of children when the police arrived in 1987, there had once been 28 of them.
8-19-19 US man arrested over alleged threat to Ohio Jewish centre
Police in the US state of Ohio have arrested a man they believe threatened to carry out a shooting at a Jewish community centre. James Reardon, 20, posted a video online of a man firing a gun with a caption identifying the centre in Youngstown, north of Pittsburgh. A search of his home revealed several weapons, body armour and a gas mask, police said. A shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year left 11 people dead. James Reardon was arrested in New Middletown, near Youngstown, on Saturday and charged with menacing and harassment. He is due to appear in court on Monday. Investigators said the alarm was raised when a post appeared on Instagram showing a man firing a gun with the caption: "Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as white nationalist Seamus O'Reardon." New Middletown Police Chief Vince D'Egidio said they believed Seamus O'Reardon was a pseudonym for James Reardon. "He was implying that he was going to be identified as the shooter of the Jewish centre. That kicked off a very intensive investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation," he said, quoted by WKBN-TV. Security at local Jewish facilities was increased and the FBI was contacted, Chief D'Egidio added. As well as a cache of weapons, the search of the suspect's home also uncovered white nationalist material, police said. After the arrest, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation issued a statement thanking law enforcement agencies for their swift action. The attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh, last October was believed to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history. Two more men - one in Florida and another in Connecticut - were arrested after sending messages related to potential mass shootings, CNN report.
8-19-19 How online extremists are shaping the minds of white teens
A mother expressed her concern about extremist content poisoning the minds of boys as they use the internet, in a post that went viral. She thinks there are warning signs parents should heed. In an age where anyone can access just about anything on the internet, white boys in the US seem particularly at risk from dangerous radicalisation online. Many mass shooting suspects in the US have three things in common: They are young, white and male. The suspect behind the El Paso shooting that killed 22 people in Texas is believed to have posted a racist manifesto online. Police investigating a deadly attack in Dayton the following day said the gunman was influenced by a "violent ideology", although no motive has been disclosed. The dangers of the internet are not a novel talking point for parents and teachers, but these most recent tragedies have sparked renewed debate over what families can - and should - do when it comes to raising white boys in America. "The red flags started going up for us when, a year or so ago, [our kids] started asking questions that felt like they came directly from alt-right talking points," says Joanna Schroeder, a Los Angeles-based writer, media critic and mother of three. She tells the BBC one of her two sons began to argue "'jokey'-toned alt right positions", asking questions like why black people could "copy white culture but white people can't copy black culture". She began learning about how other boys their age were sharing sexist and racist memes - likely spreading from online forums. Last week, Ms Schroeder's Twitter thread about parenting white boys in a world rife with easy access to extremist viewpoints by monitoring their social media and teaching empathy became a widespread talking point, amassing nearly 180,000 likes, 8,500 comments and shares across social platforms.
8-19-19 Why Democrats shouldn't be afraid to talk about socialism
t a packed rally in New Hampshire last week, Donald Trump did not shy away from boasting about his prospects in the 2020 reelection. "You have no choice but to vote for me," the president proclaimed to the crowd. After all, he said, "we have a group of socialists and communists to beat" — referring to the crowded Democratic presidential field. "We will never, ever be a socialist nation," Trump confidently added. Trump's line of thinking is hardly unique. Ever since the election of self-avowed democratic socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Talib to Congress last year, Republicans and Democrats alike have gone into a red-baiting fervor. The conventional wisdom — pushed not only by Trump but by establishment Democratic think tanks, presidential candidates, and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is that socialism is so unpopular, even with Democrats, that it will torpedo any campaign tarnished with the dreaded s-word. The problem is, that may not be true. In fact, according to new polling, it's quite the opposite. If Democrats want to win control of Washington in 2020, running on socialism may provide just the answer. Tucked in a July poll taken by The Economist and the polling firm YouGov was a simple question: "Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable view of socialism?" The response from Democratic voters was resounding: 52 percent had a favorable view of socialism, compared to only 29 percent with an unfavorable view. Moreover, even when the question was framed in terms of moving away from capitalism and towards socialism, Democrats' favorability to socialism was a net positive, by a margin of 23 points. This was no fluke — a Fox News poll taken a few days later showed nearly the exact same findings. And polling going back years has validated a clear trend: far from fearing socialism, Democratic voters are hungry for more of it. While this certainly challenges the notion that socialists are but a marginal group within the Democratic Party, it alone does not address centrists' chief concern: that socialism is a losing vision in a general election. (Webmaster's comment: The Democratic Socialist governments in Europe have fewer mass shootings, fewer homicides, less violent crime, fewer rapes, less child sex abuse, lower health care costs, longer life spans, lower maternal mortality rates, lower birth mortality rates, the list of better than in America is endless.)
8-19-19 American cities need to phase out cars
Cars are both inefficient and incredibly dangerous. On August 12, a man named Umar Baig was driving illegally in Brooklyn — speeding his Dodge Charger down Coney Island Avenue far, far above the speed limit of 25 miles per hour. At the intersection with Avenue L, he ran a red light, and smashed directly into the side of a Honda SUV. The collision was so violent that Baig's car lifted the Honda completely off the ground for a split second in the process of flinging it at high speed across the oncoming lanes of Coney Island Avenue — where the SUV crushed a cyclist named Jose Alzorriz, who had just pulled up to wait for the red light Baig blew through. Bystanders lifted the car off him, but Alzorriz later died of his injuries. (A pedestrian and the Honda's driver were also injured, but not fatally). This was the 19thcyclist killed by a car in New York City so far in 2019, in addition to 69 pedestrians — as compared to 10 and 107 respectively in the whole of 2018. For reasons of safety and basic urban functionality, it's time to start banning private automobiles from America's urban cores. The basic problem with cars in a dense urban setting like New York is that they go too fast and take up too much space. Dense cities are enormously more energy efficient than sprawling suburbs or exurbs because apartment buildings and row houses are far more efficient to heat and cool than single-family homes (due to shared walls), larger enterprises can take advantage of efficiencies of scale, and because lots of people packed into a small area enables highly-efficient mass transit. New Yorkers emit only about 2.3 tons of carbon dioxide per person, as compared to 45 tons from residents of Flagstaff, Arizona. A car-centered transportation system is simply at odds with the logic of a dense city. For commuters, cars take up a huge volume of space being parked at home and at work. On the road, a lane of highway traffic can transport about 3,000 people per hour under perfect conditions, while a subway can easily manage 10 times that — and many do even better. And while subways can be delayed, conditions are rarely ideal on the highway — on the contrary, every day at rush hour most are jammed to a crawl with too many cars, or slowed by some gruesome accident. What's more, the terrible toll of injuries and deaths inflicted on New York's cyclists and pedestrians this year is simply what happens when one allows cars to roam free in cities. It is highly risky to allow huge, heavy steel cages capable of high speeds to be flying around crowds of delicate human bodies. It takes only a slight error or moment of inattention to get someone brutally killed.
8-18-19 Far-right group Proud Boys rallies in Portland, Oregon
Far-right group Proud Boys marched in Portland, Oregon, as counter-demonstrators organised a rally against their presence in the city. The stated aim of the far-right gathering was to press for the Antifa (anti-fascist) movement to be declared a domestic terror organisation. President Donald Trump has said the situation was being closely watched by his administration, and indicated that naming Antifa "an organisation of terror" is being considered. The city has been under heavy police guard amid fears of violence. (Webmaster's comment: They got this exactly backwards. The Proud Boys are the terrorist group not the anti-facists.)
8-16-19 White House sets new hurdles for legal immigrants
The Trump administration moved aggressively this week to cut legal immigration with a new rule making it harder for immigrants already here lawfully to become permanent residents if they use public benefits. Starting Oct. 15, green card applicants could be rejected if they’ve turned to public benefits for more than 12 months of any 36-month period. That includes any of a wide array of programs, including most forms of Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing assistance. Immigrants could also be denied if officials determine they’re likely to use such benefits in the future. White House aide Stephen Miller was a driving force behind the new rule, with the anti-immigration hard-liner reportedly telling officials to prioritize it above everything else. The policy could reduce the number of people who receive green cards and visas by half, with the government estimating that the status of roughly 382,000 immigrants could be immediately affected. Defending the rule, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty was meant for “Europeans” and suggested that it should carry a disclaimer. “Give me your tired and your poor,” Cuccinelli said, “who can stand on their own two feet.” “The idea that if someone has ever used a public benefit then they won’t ever become a contributing member of society is absurd,” said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. Almost 1 in 6 Americans used food stamps during the Great Recession. “The immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island a century ago did not, for the most part, come here on private yachts or in first-class berths,” said Joel Mathis in TheWeek.com. But they and their descendants strengthened the nation. Today’s immigrants are no different. Their children are just as likely as any other U.S. adults to be homeowners, and more likely to be college graduates. Somewhere, Emma Lazarus is weeping.
8-16-19 Trump: The impact of his immigration rhetoric
“A really exceptional work of obscenity, like a really exceptional work of beauty, exceeds the ability of its viewers to fathom what they just saw,” said Graeme Wood in TheAtlantic.com. And the photo of a grinning President Trump flashing a thumbs-up while standing next to a baby orphaned in the El Paso mass shooting is truly, exceptionally obscene. Two-month-old Paul Anchondo, whose parents both died shielding him from a white nativist hunting Mexicans with a military-style rifle, was actually brought back to the hospital Trump was visiting because five wounded adult survivors refused to meet with our anti-immigrant president. So, the White House conscripted a powerless infant as a prop in a photo op. Words fail. “Ghoulish and surreal might serve,” said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate.com. The child’s parents are dead because a white nationalist “spouting Trumpist talking points about ‘foreign invaders’” took that racist rhetoric seriously. If Trump were a normal man, let alone a normal president, he would have been somber when meeting that orphaned child, and moved to compassion and critical self-reflection. But not our reality-TV president. All he cares about is getting attention and credit, so he turned that fraught encounter into another opportunity to preen and mug for the camera. “It took a tiny baby to reveal how small Donald Trump really is.” That comparison is “idiotic,” said Bret Stephens in The New York Times. The Dayton shooter had been obsessed with mass shootings for years, and his victims included six black people and his own sister. They “did not fit any political or ethnic profile.” The El Paso shooter’s mostly Hispanic victims, however, “were the objects of his expressly stated political rage.” The Right’s attempt to equate the Dayton and El Paso murderers “is a transparently self-serving effort to absolve the president of moral responsibility.” Like the shooter, Trump uses the word “invasion” to describe immigration, invoking the word in more than 2,000 campaign ads. When Trump asked, “How do you stop these people?” at a rally in Florida earlier this year, someone in the crowd shouted “Shoot them!” The mob cheered and Trump grinned. We’re told to take Trump seriously, but not literally. The El Paso shooter, it seems, “didn’t get that memo.” “We will likely never know how much the El Paso shooter was influenced by rhetoric like Trump’s,” said Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux in FiveThirtyEight.com. But we do know that Latinos “have become more insecure and fearful about their place in the country.” A recent Pew survey found that more than half of Hispanics say their lives have become more difficult since Trump was elected. As an immigrant from Brazil, said Fernanda Santos in The New York Times, “I felt safe in America”—until recently. That has changed under Trump, even though I am a naturalized citizen. Shortly after the election, a man screamed at me to “Speak English!” while I was on the phone outside a coffee shop. I started carrying my passport card in my wallet just in case. But I know that a piece of paper can’t truly protect me, or my mixed-race daughter, because we have brown skin, which now makes us “invaders.” For the first time since I arrived here 21 years ago, I don’t feel like a proud American immigrant. I feel “like a target.”
8-16-19 ICE raids: Why not charge the employer?
ICE’s cruelhearted immigration sweep last week in rural Mississippi is a “win for corporate exploitation,” said Adrian Carrasquillo in NewRepublic.com. About 600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided six chicken-processing plants and arrested 680 suspected unauthorized workers—one of the largest operations in ICE history. Agents bound the workers’ hands and took them away on buses, “leaving children sobbing and wives tearfully saying goodbye to husbands through chain-link fences.” Some kids returned from school to find that their dad and mom were both in federal custody. Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11, pleaded for her father’s release. “Government, please show some heart,” she said. “He’s not a criminal.” But once again, “the cruelty is the point.” Not charged was her father’s employer, poultry giant Koch Foods, which actively recruits undocumented immigrants and pays them pitiful wages to cut, debone, and package chicken under miserable, sometimes dangerous conditions. We should “expand the number of work visas” to address massive labor shortages in low-skill fields. If farms and meat producers used only American workers, “we would all pay much more for meat, fruit, and vegetables.” The raid on the chicken plant underlines President Trump’s “profound hypocrisy” on immigration, said Raul Reyes in CNN.com. His own company “has a history of using illegal labor” at its golf courses and construction sites. Nationwide, just a handful of employers of illegal immigrants were successfully prosecuted in the past year. Arresting migrants is nothing but a distraction, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. The number of people coming to or crossing the border is soaring, and the “big, beautiful wall” hasn’t materialized. By any measure, Trump’s immigration policy is “a complete and utter failure.”
8-16-19 Let more in
57% of Americans approve of letting Central American refugees into the country, up from 51% in December.
8-16-19 Don’t repeat the war on terrorism
Should the federal government mount “a war on terrorism” against white nationalists? asked Max Abrahms. After the El Paso massacre and other acts of domestic terrorism by white nationalists, some on the Left are calling for a “massive, post-9/11–like counterterrorism response”—this time, against far-right Americans. The impulse is understandable. The U.S. has poured resources into fighting Islamist terrorism while largely ignoring extremists at home, even though white supremacist terrorism has “historically made up the lion’s share of attacks.” But “in this climate, we run the risk of bouncing from a longtime underreaction to a sudden overreaction.” In the emotional aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. invaded a country with no connection to the attack, tortured and imprisoned suspects without trial, and approved a massive secret surveillance program tracking nearly every phone call in the U.S. and abroad. In the process, we arguably created more terrorists and gave rise to ISIS. White nationalism is a real threat, but it would be a mistake to have the FBI surveilling and rounding up Americans who have discussed “offensive—even reprehensible—political visions” on the internet. Without expressed intent to commit acts of violence, ignorance and bigotry are not crimes.
8-16-19 Background checks
Congressional Democrats raced to advance several gun control measures this week, prioritizing universal background checks for gun sales—a move President Trump endorses. The proposal, which already passed the House, would close a loophole by requiring private gun sellers, not just licensed dealers, to screen buyers for criminal records, mental illness, and other factors that would bar them from gun ownership. Trump says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “wants to do background checks,” adding, “I think a lot of Republicans do.” Yet McConnell has been noncommittal on gun reform measures and did not agree to hold a vote on the House bill when the Senate returns from a six-week recess. Democrats have also proposed “red flag” laws, restricting high-capacity magazines, and banning assault weapons—the last of which has support from nearly 200 House Democrats, but faces strong Republican opposition.
8-16-19 Mass shootings
Since a white supremacist killed nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015, mass shootings (when four or more people are killed) have occurred every 47 days on average. Before the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, the pace was roughly once every six months.
8-16-19 Making sure victims don’t survive
Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed a huge tax on the most damaging kinds of ammunition, explaining: “Guns don’t kill people, bullets do.” Recent mass shootings have proved that the late senator “was onto something,” said Francis Wilkinson. In his “sick” manifesto, the El Paso shooter lovingly explains his choices of an AK-47–style semi-automatic weapon and the “8m3 bullet,” which has a cult following because it expands and fragments when it hits human flesh—causing catastrophic wounds. In publications such as the NRA’s official journal, Shooting Illustrated, “bullet talk is as revealing a window on American gun culture as gun talk.” In one ammo review, the writer gives his “thumbs up” to Hornady-brand bullets’ ability to penetrate thick clothing and expand inside the body, causing “deep wound cavities.” When this kind of ammo is paired with semi-automatic rifles, which fire bullets at triple the velocity of most handguns, the effects are “especially gruesome and lethal.” Surgeons who’ve treated victims of assault-rifle mass shootings say organs are so badly shredded that there is “nothing left to repair.” Why are we selling “hyperlethal” guns and bullets designed and marketed to make sure shooting victims can’t possibly survive?
8-16-19 Bombing stopped
An avowed white supremacist was charged this week with plotting to firebomb a synagogue or gay bar in downtown Las Vegas. Prosecutors say Conor Climo, 23, used racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic slurs on an encrypted online message board with white supremacist “lone wolves” who’d pledged to commit acts of terror and violence. FBI agents searched the home of Climo, who worked as a security guard, finding bomb-making materials, an AR-15 assault-style weapon, and a bolt-action rifle. Climo’s arrest came after he discussed plans to build a “self-contained Molotov” cocktail with an undercover agent and an FBI informant, saying, “I’m more interested in action than online s---.” In 2016, Climo drew headlines when he patrolled his neighborhood in battle gear while carrying an assault rifle, a knife, and four ammunition magazines. He’d broken no laws in the open-carry state.
8-16-19 Pre-emptive raid
Prosecutors charged Justin Olsen this week with threatening to assault a federal officer after the 18-year-old praised mass shootings and endorsed attacks on Planned Parenthood. After months of monitoring Olsen, who amassed an online following posting as “ArmyOfChrist,” the FBI says it rushed to arrest him after recent shootings. Agents searched his father’s home, where Olsen lives, finding 300 rounds of ammunition on a stairway and thousands more in a “gun vault” in his father’s room, along with about 15 rifles and shotguns and 10 semi-automatic pistols. “Don’t comply with gun laws, stock up on stuff they could ban,” Olsen allegedly wrote on online message boards. He praised the Oklahoma City bombing and said the lesson of the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Texas, was “shoot every federal agent on sight.” Olsen says his posts were “hyperbolic” and “only a joke.”
8-16-19 Mosque attack foiled
An alleged white supremacist wearing a helmet and body armor opened fire in a near-empty mosque outside Oslo last week, only to be tackled to the ground by a worshipper who happened to be a retired Pakistani air force officer. “He started to fire toward the two other men,” said the ex-officer, Mohammad Rafiq, 65. “He put his finger inside my eye, up to here, full finger inside my eye.” Rafiq and two other worshippers subdued the suspect, Philip Manshaus, 21; Manshaus appeared in court two days later with two black eyes. The shooter is believed to have killed his 17-year-old stepsister before attacking the mosque. Manshaus wrote on social media that he had been “chosen” by the Christchurch killer, who massacred 51 people at two New Zealand mosques, and he praised the recent El Paso shootings, in which 22 were killed.
8-16-19 Nazi collaborators honored
Top Polish officials this week honored a partisan group that collaborated with the Nazis and battled the advancing Soviets toward the end of World War II. Most Polish partisans fought fiercely against the Nazis for the duration of the war, and usually it is those units that receive state honors. President Andrzej Duda’s presence at the Warsaw ceremony—marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the group, the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade—is part of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party’s pitch to far-right voters ahead of October’s elections. Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, rejected an invite to the event, saying such “ceremonies insult the memory of all Polish citizens killed in the fight against Germany.”
8-16-19 Give more power to the President?
43% of Republicans now think the nation’s problems could be addressed more effectively if presidents “didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts”—up from 14% who thought so in 2016. Overall, 66% of Americans say it is too risky to expand presidential power in order to deal with the country’s problems.
8-16-19 Trade: A retreat on new China tariffs
President Trump abruptly suspended plans to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports, to avoid hurting the holiday shopping season, said Josh Zumbrun in The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. has already imposed tariffs of 25 percent on about $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. Angered by the slow progress of negotiations, Trump had threatened a 10 percent levy on consumer goods like smartphones, laptops, toys, and video games starting Sept. 1. But the president retreated Tuesday, saying he would offer a reprieve “for Christmas season.” If all the tariffs planned for September and December are put into effect, they will cover “nearly everything the U.S. imports from China.” The president “finally acknowledges his tariffs could hit consumers,” said Heather Long in The Washington Post. His statements Tuesday were “a noticeable change from his insistence that the Chinese are paying the full cost.” The truth is, up till now, “many U.S. companies opted to absorb a lot of the added costs” of tariffs that had mainly affected component parts. But a tariff on “finished goods like shoes and iPhones” that businesses had already committed to importing would likely be felt by consumers. Suspending the September tariffs eases the immediate burden, but “does little to mitigate the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s trade policy.”
8-16-19 The top line
Twenty-five families now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth. The world’s wealthiest family, the Waltons of Walmart, have grown their fortune by $39 billion to $191 billion since June 2018—an increase of $4 million every hour.
8-16-19 Black homeownership
The homeownership rate among African-Americans was 40.6 percent in June, which is 33 points lower than the white homeownership rate. Black homeownership is at its lowest rate since 1960, largely because people lost so many homes to the predatory lending policies that led to the 2008 financial collapse.
8-16-19 Heavy emphasis on slavery
White visitors to former slave plantations are objecting in travel-site reviews to the tours’ heavy emphasis on slavery. One reviewer who toured the McLeod Plantation in South Carolina complains of being “subjected to a lecture aimed to instill guilt.” Another writes that “we didn’t come to hear a lecture on how the white people treated slaves.” (Webmaster's comment: So what did you come for? To see how wonderful slavery was for whites?)
8-16-19 Billy Graham Rule
A former North Carolina sheriff’s deputy is suing the police department, claiming he was fired for following the “Billy Graham Rule.” Under the Graham Rule, now also associated with Vice President Mike Pence, men decline to be alone with women other than their wife. Manuel Torres, 51, said his “sincere religious belief” motivated his refusal to ride with female trainees in a patrol car, so he should not have been fired.
8-16-19 Why US lags behind on graphic cigarette warnings
The US wants to put graphic images on cigarette packets - the first change to health warnings on tobacco products in 35 years. Other countries have long used such shock tactics to discourage smokers, so why does the US lag behind? (Webmaster's comment: Because of Greed, Money and Profits!) Grisly images of cancerous tumours and diseased lungs and feet. Stark warnings that smoking can cause everything from blindness and bladder cancer to strokes and stunted foetal growth. If the US Food and Drug Administration gets its way, these mandatory health warnings will feature on cigarette packets from 2021. Those disturbing images - which are shown further down this article - would mark the first change to labels since 1984. The FDA proposed a similar move nine years ago, but it was ultimately blocked in court by tobacco firms on the grounds of free speech. The pictures may be an unwelcome addition for smokers in the US, but in many parts of the world such images are already part of the price of buying a packet of cigarettes. If approved, new warnings from the FDA will feature "photo-realistic" colour images depicting the health risks of smoking. "While most people assume the public knows all they need to understand about the harms of cigarette smoking, there's a surprising number of lesser-known risks that both youth and adult smokers and non-smokers may simply not be aware of," said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharples in a statement. The graphic warnings will cover the top half of the front and back panels of cigarette packages and at least 20% of the top area of cigarette advertisements. "The diseases embedded in these images will improve public understanding of the negative consequences of cigarette smoking," said Mitchell Zeller, head of the FDA's tobacco division.
8-16-19 Truck driven into protesters at US immigrant detention centre
A truck has been driven into protesters blocking the entrance to an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centre in the US state of Rhode Island. The demonstrators were protesting against the treatment of migrants in ICE detention. One of the protestors said that after the truck was driven at them, correctional officers went on to pepper spray demonstrators.
8-16-19 Greenland: Trump warned that island cannot be bought from Denmark
Greenland has said it is "not for sale" after President Donald Trump stated that he would like the US to buy the world's biggest island. The president is said to have discussed the idea of purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, during dinners and meetings with advisers. But Greenland's government dismissed the idea, saying: "We're open for business, not for sale." Mr Trump's plans have also been quickly dismissed by politicians in Denmark. "It must be an April Fool's Day joke...but totally out of [season]!", tweeted former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which first reported the news, said Mr Trump had spoken about the purchase with "varying degrees of seriousness". Sources quoted in other media differed over whether the president was joking or seriously hoping to expand US territory. Officials in Greenland have insisted that the island is not on the market. "Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We're open for business, not for sale," the foreign ministry said in a statement shared on social media. Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen repeated the comments in a separate statement. "Greenland is not for sale, but Greenland is open for trade and cooperation with other countries, including the USA," he said. Greenland MP Aaja Chemnitz Larsen was also among those to dismiss the president's interest. "No thanks to Trump buying Greenland!", she wrote on Twitter, adding that a "better and more equal partnership with Denmark" was the way forward. Poul Krarup, editor-in-chief of Greenland's Sermitsiaq newspaper, told the BBC he "couldn't believe" Mr Trump's remarks. "Greenland is an independent area in the Danish kingdom and must be respected as such," he said. But he said he thought the chances of Mr Trump's reported ambitions being realised were unlikely. "We'd like to cooperate with the US, no doubt about that, but we are independent and we decide who our friends are."
8-15-19 Donald Trump's moment of crisis
The moment of crisis has finally arrived for President Trump. Does anybody think he is prepared to handle it? This week, the stock market sank more than 800 points on fears that a recession is in the offing. Across the Pacific Ocean, China's confrontation with Hong Kong protesters appears to be coming to an inflection point — with results that could reverberate throughout the world economy. And in India, a decades-old stalemate over control of Kashmir seems to be ending badly and dangerously. This isn't just a moment of crisis. It's moments, plural. So far, Trump has reacted precisely as you'd expect. Which is to say, badly. He's blaming the pending recession on the Federal Reserve. Publicly, he's shrugging at the conflict in Hong Kong — "I hope it works out for everybody," he said. But privately, he's reportedly deferential to the possibility of a Chinese military crackdown and offered a "personal meeting" with Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve the matter. As for Kashmir, Trump has already withdrawn his offer to mediate that crisis. Most of this leadership — if you can call it that — has taken place on Twitter. None of it seems to be working. If the president has a real plan to deal with these events, it is not readily apparent. Instead, Trump is acting as he always has, relying on an unshakeable belief in his own personal charm and negotiating skills to solve long-intractable issues — "I alone can fix it" was his unforgettably hubristic campaign promise — and blaming everybody but himself when things go badly.
8-15-19 Philadelphia shooting: Mayor calls for gun control
The mayor of Philadelphia has joined growing calls for gun control after a shootout in his city left six officers injured as they served a drug warrant. "Our officers need help," said Mayor Jim A gun battle broke out between police and a gunman on Wednesday, leading to a seven-hour stand-off. The suspect reportedly carried a semi-automatic rifle and several handguns. Mr Kenney called out politicians for their failure to address the gun crisis and confront the National Rifle Association's powerful gun rights lobby. "It's aggravating, it's saddening," Mr Kenney said. "If the state and federal government don't want to stand up to the NRA and some other folks, then let us police ourselves." He added: "Our officers deserve to be protected and they don't deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and an unlimited supply of bullets." US President Donald Trump also weighed in on the shooting, tweeting Thursday morning that the Philadelphia shooting suspect "should never have been allowed on the streets". "Long sentence - must get much tougher on street crime!" he wrote. The male suspect, named by US media as 36-year-old Maurice Hill, was taken into custody on Wednesday. The Philadelphia police officers were serving a warrant at a home in Philadelphia's Nicetown-Tiago neighbourhood when the gunman opened fire at about 16:30 local time (20:30 GMT). (Webmaster's comment: We need to ban all semi-automatic weapons and weapons with over a 6 shot capacity!)
8-15-19 Israel bars Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting
Israel is blocking two US Democratic lawmakers and prominent critics of Israel from visiting. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week. Both have supported the boycott movement against Israel, but Israeli law allows supporters of the campaign to be banned from visiting. President Trump earlier tweeted it would show "great weakness" if the pair were allowed entry. On Thursday, Mr Trump took to Twitter to urge that they be blocked from visiting, adding that "they hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds". The two US lawmakers have yet to comment on the decision. Israeli law blocks entrance visas to any foreigner who calls for any type of boycott that targets Israel - either economic, cultural or academic. The law attempts to suppress the "boycott, divest, sanction" movement, which has drawn growing support across Europe and the US. Israeli officials had earlier said they would make an exception for the elected US officials, before backtracking. According to US media, their trip was meant to begin on Sunday, and would include a stop at one of the most sensitive sites in the region - a hilltop plateau in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. They also planned to visit Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron. The trip to the West Bank was planned by Miftah, an organisation headed by Palestinian peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi. Ms Tlaib was planning to stay for two extra days to visit her grandmother, who lives in a Palestinian village. (Webmaster's comment: They do not hate the Israeli people, just the Israeli government.)
8-15-19 YouTube: LGBT video-makers sue claiming discrimination
A group of YouTube video-makers is suing it and parent company Google, claiming both discriminate against LGBT-themed videos and their creators. The group claims YouTube restricts advertising on LGBT videos and limits their reach and discoverability. But YouTube said sexual orientation and gender identity played no role in deciding whether videos could earn ad revenue or appear in search results. A group is hoping a jury will hear its case in California. The legal action makes a wide range of claims, including that YouTube: 1. removes advertising from videos featuring "trigger words" such as "gay" or "lesbian" 2. often labels LGBT-themed videos as "sensitive" or "mature" and restricts them from appearing in search results or recommendations 3. does not do enough to filter harassment and hate speech in the comments section. It was filed by a group of video-makers from the US, including: 1. singer Bria Kam and actor Chrissy Chambers, who run a joint YouTube channel with more than 850,000 subscribers 2. Amp Somers, who produces sex education videos 3. Chase Ross, who documents his experiences as a transgender man 4. Lindsay Amer, who produces LGBT-themed educational videos. The legal action also claims Google refused to let the creators of a show called GNews! advertise their programme, because it contained "shocking" content. In a phone call heard by BBC News, one Google ad representative told the programme's producers that "sexuality content about the gays" broke its advertising rules.
8-14-19 Is rich people's excessive income about to strangle the economy?
There is an economic warning sign which has gone off before every recession going back to the 1960s (and only delivered one false positive). It's called a yield curve inversion — and it just happened on Wednesday. Gulp. Now, this doesn't guarantee a recession, of course. Even going back that far, we're only talking about a sample size of seven. But it certainly suggests there's a decent likelihood of another downturn happening soon. And while there would be many factors behind it if it does happen, there is one big one that can't be ignored: Rich people have too much dang money. Briefly, the classic yield curve inversion is when the yield (that is, the interest that is paid to bond buyers) of a 10-year U.S. government bond goes below that of a 3-month bond. This is quite odd — typically investors receive a higher return for a longer-term loan, because they are taking on a greater risk — and it tends to indicate that investors are fleeing to safety, trying to lock in a half-decent return on their money before everything goes pear-shaped. (Incidentally, stocks were in the toilet Wednesday morning.) However, as James Mackintosh points out at the Wall Street Journal, in most previous inversion events other types of bonds inverted too — the 10-year under the 5-year, and the 30-year under the 10-year — which hasn't yet happened. As Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal supposes, it might just be a bond market signal that the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates. At any rate, it is definitely the case that the U.S. economy is rather wobbly, along with most of the rest of the world. The eurozone — which never fully recovered from the Great Recession — is struggling, and regional keystone Germany is actually in recession. Trump's flailing trade war with China seems to have done little except harm both countries, and a bunch of bystander nations to boot. Another thing Trump and the GOP have done is dump a giant pile of money on rich people with tax cuts, further exacerbating U.S. income inequality (which was already horrible). And all other things being equal, greater inequality means a weaker, more vulnerable economy.
8-14-19 Biologists have a problem with homosexuality – they should get over it
Studies that reduce human sexuality to two neat categories – gay and straight – are bad science and stoke societal prejudice, says neuroethologist Andrew Barron TWO things are clear about human sexual orientation. First, it is biological; second, it is complex. Sexual behaviour, identity, attractions and fantasies don’t line up neatly. Consistently, biologists fail to recognise this. In their 1948 book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred Kinsey and his collaborators showed how male sexuality varies smoothly, from a majority identifying as completely heterosexual to a minority who identify as gay. Men “do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual”, wrote Kinsey. “The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats.” He concluded the same for women five years later. Biologists often look for factors related to sexual orientation, be they genetic, hormonal or in the brain. It is easier to search for differences between two starkly different groups, so the smooth variation in sexuality Kinsey described collapses to an artificial binary: heterosexual or homosexual, or sometimes heterosexual or non-heterosexual. How the boundaries of these categories are drawn varies wildly. In some studies, “homosexual” means anyone who identifies as mostly or entirely gay or lesbian; in others, anyone who has had any type of same-sex experience. Bisexual people are either lumped in with gay and lesbian people in a non-heterosexual category or excluded for being “inconsistent”. Women can also be excluded, as female sexuality is often considered too variable. Why does this all matter? As Rebecca Jordan-Young discussed in her book Brain Storm a decade ago, by distorting sexual orientation to fit what we assume it is, we risk editing out the most informative data points – and drawing false conclusions.
8-14-19 Everyone will eventually turn on Trump. Even Steve Doocy.
It's too soon to say when Donald Trump's presidency will end, but it's not too soon to say how it will end. It will end in disgrace. And when it does, Trump's defenders will turn on him. Some already have. On Sunday, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's former communications director, said that Republicans should "replace the top of the ticket in 2020." Former White House aide and Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault never had a bad word to say about Trump when she worked for him. Trump said he hired her "because she said GREAT things about me." But after she left the White House, she said Trump was "mentally impaired" and accused him of saying the N-word. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, said he was "mesmerized" by Trump when he worked for him. It wasn't until after Cohen quit working for Trump and was sentenced to prison — as a result, in part, of lying for Trump — that he ceased to be mesmerized and instead became disgusted. In congressional testimony, he called Trump a "racist," a "cheat," and a "conman." Trump's sycophants are as loyal as he is — which is to say, not at all. In The Art of the Deal, Trump counted Roy Cohn as a friend, calling him "a truly loyal guy." After Cohn contracted AIDS, Trump "dropped him like a hot potato," according to Susan Bell, Cohn's longtime secretary. That's the kind of friend Trump is — the kind you don't want. The people who are loyal to Trump are loyal not because they like him as a person but because they have something to gain from him. In an interview with The New York Times, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) admitted that he embraced Trump "to try to be relevant." So far, his plan has worked superbly — Graham has a recurring slot on Hannity. Once Trump is gone, however, Graham will no longer need the man he once dismissed as "the world's biggest jackass." He will find someone else to latch onto, and he will forget about Trump just as he forgot about John McCain.
8-14-19 Trump official revises Statue of Liberty poem to defend migrant rule change
A top US immigration official has revised a quote inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in defence of a new policy that denies food aid to legal migrants. The head of Citizenship and Immigration Services tweaked the passage: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". The official added the words "who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge". He later said the poem had referred to "people coming from Europe". Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration's acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced on Monday a new "public charge" requirement that limits legal migrants from seeking certain public benefits such as public housing or food aid, or are considered likely to do so in the future. The new regulation, known as a "public charge rule", was published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on 15 October. The rule change is intended to reinforce "ideals of self-sufficiency", officials said. Critics argue that it will prevent low-income US residents from seeking help. On Tuesday, Mr Cuccinelli was asked by NPR whether the 1883 poem titled The New Colossus at the Statue of Liberty on New York's Ellis Island still applied. "Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus's words etched on the Statue of Liberty, 'Give me your tired, give me your poor,' are also a part of the American ethos?" asked NPR's Rachel Martin. "They certainly are," Mr Cuccinelli responded. "Give me your tired and your poor - who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge." "That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge [law] was passed - very interesting timing," he added. The actual passage reads in part: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Webmaster's comment: Trump's attempt to rewrite history!)
8-14-19 ICE office shootings in Texas blamed on ‘political rhetoric’
Bullets fired at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Texas were a "targeted attack" against federal employees, the FBI has said. Several shots were fired at around 03:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Tuesday at the offices in San Antonio. Two neighbouring buildings came under fire, but no injuries were reported, the FBI said in a statement. The FBI said it was "reviewing surveillance footage" as part of its investigation into the shootings. No arrests have been made and investigators are looking for suspects, according to US media reports. In a statement, ICE blamed the shootings on "political rhetoric" and "misinformation" about the Trump administration's detention policies. ICE under the Trump administration has been heavily criticised for its treatment of undocumented immigrants held at detention centres near the US-Mexico border. "This disturbing public discourse shrouds our critical law enforcement function and unnecessarily puts our officers' safety at risk," said Daniel Bible, ICE's director for San Antonio. The shootings were called "cowardly, brazen, violent acts" by Christopher Combs, head of the FBI's San Antonio operations. Mr Combs said those responsible for firing the shots "did some research" because they "knew what floors ICE was on, and they hit those". "All of the shots that we have found are on the floors where ICE had offices," Mr Combs said, calling the incident "a very targeted attack". Although no one was injured, Mr Combs said "we could be here today talking about the murder of a federal official" had the bullets "gone two inches in another direction". (Webmaster's comment: ICE is really bad, but this is not the answer!)
8-13-19 Trump wants to make immigration white again
On Monday, Emma Lazarus wept. Lazarus, of course, was the poet who celebrated that the United States welcomes the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of other lands. But on Monday, the Trump administration unveiled a new immigration policy that upends that tradition. The poor are no longer welcome. Instead, the immigrants with the best chances at getting past the gatekeepers and settling in America going forward will be rich, credentialed, and white. Under the new policy, federal authorities will use "aggressive" wealth tests to reject residency or citizenship for an immigrant "because he or she is likely at any time to become a public charge" — receiving food stamps or other taxpayer-funded welfare state benefits. And officials can make that determination by considering the migrant's "age; health; family status; assets, resources, and financial status; and education and skills." In other words, the best way to avoid deportation under this new policy is to not be poor. This is a betrayal of America's historic promise: The immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island a century ago did not, for the most part, come here on private yachts or in first-class berths. They came here to build new lives for themselves, and in the process, helped build their new country. In practice, the new rule almost certainly means that more European migrants will go to the front of the line, and people of color will go to the back. According to the Pew Research Center, Mexicans comprise the largest group of migrants to the United States, but they are the group that most often arrives without a high school education. Migrants from Europe are the least likely to do so. And the Social Security Administration has found that first-generation immigrants from Europe and Japan "have initial earnings approaching or exceeding" other groups, including their U.S.-born counterparts. That's the kind of information immigration officials will use to determine who is economically viable — and thus ostensibly worthy of residency in the United States — and who is not. It seems unlikely that the racial component of this is an accident. Trump, after all, once famously lamented the influx of migrants from "shithole countries" and pined for more arrivals from Norway. It was not difficult to understand what he meant. Rule-making on explicitly racial grounds would be vulnerable to a legal challenge, however. Which makes wealth a useful — if dubious — proxy. Administration officials tried to make the new rule sound reasonable. "The benefit to taxpayers is a long-term benefit of seeking to ensure that our immigration system is bringing people to join us as American citizens, as legal permanent residents first, who can stand on their own two feet, who will not be reliant on the welfare system, especially in the age of the modern welfare state which is so expansive and expensive," said Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
8-13-19 Support for Allowing Border Refugees Into U.S. Edges Up
Americans are slightly more likely now (57%) than in December of last year (51%) to support allowing refugees from Central America into the U.S. Among the three main U.S. partisan groups, Democrats remain most supportive of allowing the refugees entry, with the current 85% approving similar to the 82% recorded in December. The largest increase in support has been among Republicans, from 14% in December to 24% now. Approval among independents increased slightly from 52% in December to 58% today. (Webmaster's comment: The atrocities being committed by ICE and supported by Trump are driving the increase of support for immigrants.)
- 57% approve admitting Central American refugees, up from 51% in December
- Support for allowing refugees entry up among Republicans, independents
- 39% say the situation at the U.S. border with Mexico is a "crisis"
8-12-19 Trump targets legal migrants who get food aid
US President Donald Trump's administration is to make it more difficult for poorer legal migrants to extend their visas or gain permanent resident status (a green card). The rule targets migrants who rely on public benefits, such as food aid or public housing, for more than a year. Their applications will be rejected if the government decides they are likely to rely on public assistance in future. The rule change would reinforce "ideals of self-sufficiency," officials said. The new regulation, known as a "public charge rule", was published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on 15 October. Immigrants who are already permanent residents in the US are unlikely to be affected by the rule change. It also does not apply to refugees and asylum applicants. But applicants for visa extensions, green cards or US citizenship will be subject to the change. Those who do not meet income standards or who are deemed likely to rely on benefits such as Medicaid (government-run healthcare) or housing vouchers in future may be blocked from entering the country. Those already in the US could also have their applications rejected. An estimated 22 million legal residents in the US are without citizenship, and many of these are likely to be affected. Civil rights groups have said the move unfairly targets low-income immigrants. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has said it will sue the Trump administration to stop the regulation from taking effect. But the White House said the current system favours immigrants with family ties rather than those who "are self-sufficient and do not strain our public resources". (Webmaster's comment: Trump and his racist lackeys will do anything they can to harm immigrants, legal or otherwise.)
8-12-19 Religion and Drinking Alcohol in the U.S.
Americans who attend religious services weekly are less likely than others to drink alcohol, reflecting the centuries-old connection in American history between religion and the perceived immorality of drinking. As my colleague Lydia Saad recently pointed out in her annual review of Gallup's trends on drinking, the percentage of Americans in general who say they "have occasion to use alcohol" has remained remarkably steady over the years that Gallup has tracked the measure. The percentage of U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) who say they consume alcohol has averaged 63% since Gallup first asked the question in 1939 and is at 65% this year. That leaves 34% who say they are total abstainers, roughly the same as the average of 36.5% measured since 1939. Being a total abstainer (or a "teetotaler," the colorful term that originated in the temperance movement to describe those who don't drink any alcoholic beverages) varies modestly by a number of traditional demographic variables. Older adults, women, those with lower levels of education, blacks and Hispanics are more likely than others to abstain. But one of the most significant predictors of drinking alcohol, and my interest in this column, is religion. Using an aggregate of our last six years of asking Americans about their drinking habits, we find a basic inverse linear relationship between drinking and church attendance. Those who attend weekly -- the devoutly religious -- are clearly in a class of their own when it comes to abstention. Half of this group are total abstainers, well above the national average and particularly higher than the 29% who are total abstainers among those who never attend church. Also, among the group of Americans who admit to drinking at least occasionally, highly religious Americans drink less frequently and are less likely to report drinking too much on occasion.
8-12-19 China, Not U.S., May Be the Land of Opportunity for Children
Aug. 12 marks International Youth Day, which this year focuses on efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all the world's youth. This analysis is one of two that looks at how people around the world view opportunities for children in their countries to learn and grow. The U.S. has deficits other than trade to worry about with China. Since the early days of the global economic crisis, China has led the U.S. by as much as 20 percentage points on Gallup's question of whether most children in their respective countries have the opportunity to learn and grow every day. In 2018, 92% of Chinese adults said most children in their country have these types of opportunities, while 74% of U.S. adults said the same. The two countries are the world's largest economies, but you wouldn't know that based on how people in each country answer this question. Among 20 of the world's biggest economic players, the U.S. has the largest GDP, but it ranks 14th on that short list in terms of the opportunities Americans perceive for children in the U.S. China's overall GDP is second-largest in the world, but it ranks third on the opportunities that its adults see for children in China. China's rising literacy rate -- which increased from 65.51% in 1982 to 96.36% in 2015 -- and its higher math and science scores than the U.S. on the OECD PISA (a global assessment of mathematics, reading and science skills) may lend support to why so many Chinese might see the situation so positively for their nation's children. It might also help explain why Chinese adults are highly satisfied with the quality of the educational system or the schools where they live. In 2018, 70% -- a new high -- said they were satisfied with the quality of their local educational system, compared with 64% of Americans.
8-12-19 Google's hate speech-detecting AI appears to be racially biased
Artificially intelligent hate speech detectors show racial biases. While such AIs automate the immense task of filtering abusive or offensive online content, they may inadvertently silence minorities. Maarten Sap at the University of Washington in the US and his colleagues have found that AIs trained to recognise online hate speech were up to twice as likely to identify tweets as offensive when they were written with African-American English or by people who identify as African American. This includes Perspective, a tool built by Google’s Counter Abuse Technology team and sister company Jigsaw to spot online abuse. Perspective assigns toxicity ratings to text, and is used by organisations including the New York Times to moderate online discussions. AIs that detect hate speech are trained on datasets of text that have been manually categorised by humans as being innocuous or offensive. Sap and colleagues studied two commonly used datasets of text that are used to train hate-speech detecting AIs. These totalled more than 100,000 tweets, which humans had manually annotated with labels such as “hate speech”, “offensive”, and “none”. The team found a significant correlation between tweets that were written with African-American English (AAE), a dialect spoken primarily by black people in the US, and the likelihood of their being labelled by a human as toxic. This may be because certain slang words that are used inoffensively in AAE vernacular are sometimes insulting when used in other contexts, such as white people talking about black people. They then trained two AIs on these tweets – the worst-performing falsely categorised 46 percent of inoffensive AAE tweets as offensive. Testing the AIs on bigger datasets, including one of 5.4 million tweets where the authors had self-identified their race, the team found that tweets by African American authors were 1.5 times more likely to be labelled as offensive.
8-11-19 Why do evangelicals oppose gun control?
For those who profess to follow the Prince of Peace, the support for sensible gun control regulations might seem like a proper Christian response to the ongoing slaughter of innocent Americans. There certainly isn't anything in the Bible that says solutions to mass violence must be limited to "thoughts and prayers." Yet, in the wake of the deadly attacks in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton that left more than 30 dead, conservative religious leaders instead are doubling down on what they argue is their "God-given right" to bear arms, a message the NRA has been all-too-happy to promote. And there's no sign that the Republican Party's evangelical base is wavering on the matter. In fact, in their steady opposition to gun control, we see the same fears and fantasies that have long motivated the politics of the religious right. That fantasy begins with the belief that guns aren't the problem. Instead, the nation's gun violence epidemic is a matter of the sinful human heart and the problem of evil, something that stricter gun laws can never solve. "The tragic shootings we've seen in El Paso and Dayton prove the reality of evil," Robert Jeffress, the Dallas megachurch pastor and friend of Donald Trump, tweeted the morning after the attacks. "Laws are important to help regulate evil but they can never eliminate evil — only Christ can transform a person's heart." Of course, this laissez-faire ethos has never guided how the religious right chooses to handle other issues like, say, pornography. But by invoking the evilness of humanity, such leaders provide a theological gloss to the "guns don't kill people; people kill people" argument that has long overshadowed our national conversations about gun violence. If anything, gun violence has provided a useful opportunity to inveigh against the issues the religious right does want to regulate. That tendency has been on full display this past week. On Fox News the day after the El Paso and Dayton attacks, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick argued that video games and social media, not guns, were to blame for mass shootings before he concluded that it was all a natural result of the nation's secularization. "As long as we continue to only ... look at God on a Sunday morning, and kick him out of the town squares and our schools the other six days of the week, what do we expect? What do we expect," Patrick grumbled, repeating the long-held view among many religious conservatives that the Supreme Court's outlawing of school prayer in the 1960s, rather than the weakening of gun laws and the proliferation of firearms in more recent decades, is the root cause of this rampant violence. (Webmaster's comment: Absolute nonsense! The evangelicals just want the right to kill anyone that does not believe as they do!)
8-11-19 The Hunt: Universal Pictures cancels film release
Universal Pictures has pulled the release of The Hunt following a series of mass shootings and criticism from US President Donald Trump. The Hunt, a satirical film in which liberals hunt Trump supporters and kill them for sport, was due to be released on 27 September. Marketing of the film had already been put on hold following the El Paso and Dayton shootings. Universal said the decision was made after "thoughtful consideration." The Hunt's storyline is intended to reflect the divided nature of US politics. One trailer for the film was pulled by ESPN. It was said to open with the sound resembling an emergency broadcast signal. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the liberal characters refer to their prey as "deplorables", a term used by Hillary Clinton to describe some of Mr Trump's fans in the run up too the 2016 elections.A statement from Universal said: "We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film." (Webmaster's comment: This film was obviously designed to inflame white supremacists and white nationalists. It will incite them into an intense rage and more killing.)
8-11-19 What do US Democrats want to do about guns?
For the first time in nearly two decades, Democratic presidential candidates are talking seriously about new federal gun control regulations. But is it a passing moment spurred by recent tragedy or the sign of shifting political ground? This weekend, the Democratic presidential hopefuls who have been criss-crossing Iowa were supposed to be celebrating the state's, well, Iowa-ness. Nearly every candidate in the 24-person field had scheduled an appearance at the state fair - an event that draws millions to capital city Des Moines - to sample pork on a stick, view the life-sized cow sculpture made of butter and stand on hay bales to give their stump speech to sometimes curious and often bemused onlookers. Also on the schedule was the annual "Wing Ding Dinner" in the northern town of Clear Lake - another of the state's quirky must-attend functions, where hundreds of party faithful pack a steamy old ballroom to listen to presidential hopefuls make their five-minute pitches to voters. Then the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton happened, claiming the lives of 31 Americans - and adding to the list of roughly 40,000 in the nation killed annually by gun violence. In a flash, the aperture of the Democratic race narrowed, and instead of a generic weekend of campaigning, the focus over the past few days here in Iowa has been on gun violence and what these two dozen presidential aspirants think they can do about it. Before the Wing Ding dinner, eight candidates and their supporters joined a crowd outside for a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of El Paso and Dayton. "This is one of those moral moments in our nation that's going to define the character of our country," he said. "And this is a week where I will not let the slaughter of our fellow citizens just disappear within the next media cycle."
8-11-19 Don't expect me to be 'grateful'
As an immigrant, I've been told to "go back" more times than I can count. I won't, because I love America. In June, I published a book — This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto — arguing that immigration is a form of reparations. It drew forth a fusillade of hatred — on Twitter, in my inbox, under the rocks of 4chan and Reddit — suggesting that I return to India. One reviewer on Amazon called for me to be "skinned alive" and to go back to my "turd-world country." Someone else tweeted, "This cockroach needs sent back to whatever s---hole he crawled out of."Meanwhile, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax, in a speech at the National Conservatism Conference, said I had argued that "immigrants should not join the mainstream or try to preserve and protect what makes America great, but should just take over from the 'white power structure.'" I've said no such thing, of course. Wax accused immigrants like me of being culturally inferior: "Most inhabitants of the Third World don't necessarily share our ideas and beliefs ... Our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites." I've been told to "go back" ever since 1977, when I enrolled in an extravagantly racist all-boys Catholic school in Queens, N.Y. — birthplace of President Trump, who recently became the biggest, loudest mouthpiece for this line of rhetoric when he tweeted that four congresswomen of color should "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." The idea is, white Americans get to decide who is allowed to come in and what rules we are to follow. If you come here, don't complain. Be grateful we took you in. "Go back" is a line that's intended to put immigrants in our place — or rather, to remind us that our place in this country is contingent, that we are beholden to those who came here earlier. To this I say: No, we are not. I take my place in America — an imperfect place — and I make it my own; there's a Constitution that protects my right to do so. I will not genuflect at the white American altar. I will not bow and scrape before my supposed benefactors. I understand the soul of this nation just as well, if not better, than they do: a country that stole the futures of the people who are now arriving at its borders, a cacophonous country, an exceptional country, but one that seems determined to continually sabotage its journey toward a more perfect union. Nobody powerful ever gave the powerless anything just because they asked politely, and immigrants don't come hat in hand. I am an uppity immigrant. I am entitled to be here. Deal with it.
8-10-19 Missouri Walmart panic caused by armed man testing gun rights
A man who sparked panic by walking into a Walmart with a rifle and body armour told police he was testing his right to bear arms in public. Dmitriy Andreychenko entered the shop heavily armed, days after a mass shooting at another of Walmart's stores. "I wanted to know if that Walmart honoured the second amendment," the 20-year-old told police after his arrest. Prosecutors have charged him with making a terrorist threat. If found guilty, the charge could result in a four-year prison sentence and a fine of $10,000 (£8,300), Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson said in a statement. On 8 August, Mr Andreychenko entered the store "armed with an AR style rifle slung across his chest", police said, wearing a ballistic vest and recording himself. Both the rifle and a handgun he carried were loaded. He told police he did not expect the reaction his walk generated. "This is Missouri, I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out," he said, according to police filings. Days before, 20 people had been killed in a Walmart in El Paso by a gunman carrying an automatic rifle. The police statement also revealed that his wife, Angelice, had told him "it was not a smart idea". "She told him that people were going to take this seriously due to recent events... she told him he was just an immature boy," it said. (Webmaster's comment: This idiot wants the right to walk amongst us one trigger pull away from a mass killing. Lock him up!)
8-10-19 Man charged in Las Vegas over bomb-making materials
A Las Vegas security guard has been charged after bomb-making materials were found in his home and he promoted white supremacist ideologies online, the Department of Justice says. Conor Climo, 23, had been discussing attacking a synagogue and "conducting surveillance" on a bar he believed catered to the LGBT community. A notebook was found allegedly containing plans for attacks. In 2016, he made local news for walking the streets with an AR-rifle. "If there is possibly a very determined enemy, we at least have the means to deal with it," he said at the time. Mr Climo was charged with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, which the US Department of Justice stated was being used for the component parts of a destructive device. Investigations found the security guard had been in contact with white supremacists. "Climo was communicating with individuals who identified with a white supremacist extremist organization using the National Socialist Movement to promote their ideology," a statement by the Department of Justice said. "He discussed attacking a Las Vegas synagogue and making Molotov Cocktails and improvised explosive devices, and he also discussed conducting surveillance on a bar he believed catered to the LGBTQ community." A notebook found in his house contained sketches of timed explosive devices. Mr Climo - who could get up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine - also attempted to recruit a homeless man to carry out "pre-attack surveillance" on at least one Las Vegas synagogue and other targets, the statement said. (Webmaster's comment: White supremacists are a threat to us all.)
8-9-19 American carnage in Texas and Ohio
The nation was thrust into a fraught national reckoning on guns, white nationalism, and domestic terrorism this week, after at least 31 people were killed and dozens more wounded in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. In El Paso, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius shot and killed 22 people and wounded 26 others with a semi-automatic rifle inside a crowded Walmart before surrendering to police. Just before driving from an affluent Dallas suburb to commit the shooting, the gunman posted a racist manifesto on 8chan, a message board frequented by white supremacists, in which he said the attack was a response to the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and “open borders,” and the Democrats’ attempt to “enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.” This was an echo of President Trump’s frequent rhetoric about the influx of Central American migrants at the border, but the shooter said he’d developed his anti-immigrant views before Trump. President Trump visited Dayton and El Paso in the aftermath of the shootings, where he faced protests for his opposition to gun control and his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), a Hispanic congresswoman who represents the El Paso area, said Trump was “not welcome” in her city. “Words have consequences, and the president has made my community and my people the enemy,” Escobar said. White nationalist terrorism “is a serious and growing reality,” said the Los Angeles Times. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 73.3 percent of all extremist-related deaths in the U.S. over the past decade have been linked to right-wing terrorists like the El Paso shooter. In a televised speech he read off a teleprompter, President Trump belatedly called on Americans to condemn “white supremacy” and “hatred.” He “should start with himself.” Trump has been “fanning the flames of division and fear” for years, and while the El Paso gunman may have learned to view Hispanic immigration as an infestation of vermin from online cesspools, Trump has legitimized that bigotry and brought it into the mainstream. There are “disturbing parallels” between radical Islam and white nationalism, said Jonathan Last in TheBulwark.com. Just like followers of ISIS and other Islamist terror groups, white supremacists are obsessed with purity and use social media to spread their agenda, radicalize others, and celebrate terrorist acts. Imagine how the country would have responded if the El Paso shooter had labeled himself a “jihadist,” said David French in National Review.com. Law enforcement needs the resources and the mandate to pursue “racist radicals” with the same intensity as ISIS. “It’s time to declare war on white-nationalist terrorism.” That will never happen while Trump is in office, said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. The Trump administration has slashed millions of dollars in funding dedicated to monitoring and combating white supremacist terrorism while signaling to Justice Department employees that such efforts would be unwelcome. A former FBI supervisor has said agents feel “reluctant” to investigate groups and individuals that “the president perceives as his base.” Meanwhile, Trump has done more than anyone to mainstream white nationalist tropes, and he “probably couldn’t bottle up the hideous forces he’s helped unleash even if he wanted to.” It’s not just Trump, said Adam Serwer in TheAtlantic.com. Right-wing media increasingly traffics in white nationalist talking points. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson—who declared this week that the threat of white supremacy is a “hoax”—regularly depicts the browning of America through immigration as a dire threat. Laura Ingraham has told viewers that Democrats “want to replace you” with illegal immigrants, a version of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory embraced by the El Paso shooter. America, we have a serious white supremacy problem.
8-9-19 How they see us: Inciting terrorism against Mexicans
The carnage in El Paso was inevitable, said Leo Zuckermann in Excélsior (Mexico). Donald Trump came to political prominence by questioning the citizenship of then–U.S. President Barack Obama. Trump launched his own presidential campaign in 2015 by slandering Mexican immigrants in the U.S. as criminals and rapists. In office, he has demonized Muslim lawmakers and Central American asylum seekers. It is no accident that his “racist and xenophobic speech has empowered white supremacists,” like the one who killed 22 people at a Texas Walmart last week. Eight of the victims were Mexican citizens, including Elsa Mendoza Márquez, 57, a schoolteacher from across the border in Ciudad Juárez. Thanks to President Trump, white nationalists “are no longer in the catacombs, but present in the public arena.” Trump sows hate at his rallies, encouraging the mob to chant against illegal immigrants. At a rally in Florida in May, he even laughed when a supporter suggested shooting migrants. No one should be surprised when someone actually opens fire on Hispanics. Mexico is treating this as “an act of terrorism” against our citizens, said Roberto Gil Zuarth in El Financiero (Mexico). It wasn’t just another American mass shooting. The killer drove some 650 miles from his home outside Dallas to the border city of El Paso, specifically to kill Mexicans—and he was spurred to this slaughter by Trump’s “hate speech.” Our foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, says the government might seek the killer’s extradition, but Mexico has no legal standing to do so. Instead, we need to mobilize “unprecedented international pressure” against America’s “official racism.” Trump’s entire “political shtick is pivoted on the white nationalist notion that white Americans find themselves in a do-or-die struggle with nonwhite immigrants.” He uses dehumanizing terms, calling Hispanic migrants “invaders,” and the El Paso killer echoed those terms. Remember, when Rwandan Hutu politicians called the Tutsi ethnic minority cockroaches, “it started a genocide that resulted in the deaths of upwards of 1 million people in that country.” The U.S. is “in the midst of a domestic white nationalist terrorism crisis,” and the president is only fueling it.
8-9-19 Guns: Will any new laws make a difference?
The epidemic of mass shootings in America is really not a “complicated problem to puzzle out,” said David Frum in TheAtlantic.com. In statements after last weekend’s back-to-back massacres by young men armed with weapons of war, President Trump and other Republicans variously blamed the phenomena on mental illness, video games, declining religiosity, “hatred,” and “evil.” But these same problems exist in other developed nations—and yet it’s only in America that citizens are shot to death en masse with numbing regularity. The Japanese, for example, spend far more per capita on video games but average fewer than 10 gun deaths a year, compared with our 40,000. What’s different about our country? Simple: This is the only developed nation where “it is not only legal, but easy and convenient, to amass a private arsenal of mass slaughter.” That needs to change, said the New York Post in an editorial, starting with a reimposition of an assault-weapons ban. We can’t stop all disaffected young men from venting their rage on innocent civilians. But at least we can take away the “murder machines” that let them rack up such horrific body counts. This grieving nation shouldn’t expect much change, said Jill Lawrence in USA Today. Republicans don’t dare jeopardize their “political identities as the people who let you keep your guns—any kind you want, as many as you want, with magazines as big as you want.” Such “absolutism” may no longer be a political winner, said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. The once-powerful NRA is riven by scandal and is losing its clout, while Republicans are worried that their “slavish opposition” to gun control is alienating millions of suburban moderates. A growing number of Americans are frightened and utterly disgusted by the carnage, and will no longer settle for politicians’ “thoughts and prayers.”
8-9-19 Why GOP officials are quitting
“A contagion has been spreading through the House Republican caucus,” said Matt Ford. In just the past two weeks, seven incumbents have announced they wouldn’t run for re-election in 2020, making it 11 so far this year. The biggest blow came when Texas’ Will Hurd “joined the exodus.” Often described as a future star within the party, Hurd—the lone African-American Republican in the House—is a moderate who represents a border district that is heavily Hispanic. In explaining why he’s leaving, Hurd included a strong criticism of the GOP’s current direction, saying, “Every American should feel they have a home in our party.” Under President Trump, that is undeniably no longer true, as he writes off people of color, educated women, and diverse suburbs and seeks to appeal solely to rural, mostly working-class whites. More House members are expected to retire; they are tired of having to turn a blind eye to Trump’s divisive rhetoric and erratic behavior, and know that if they don’t, they will be attacked and driven out of the party for disloyalty. “This is not a sustainable dynamic.” As long as Trump’s worldview dominates the GOP, the party will continue to shrink.
8-9-19 The shameless violence of French police
“Where’s Steve?” That phrase appeared in graffiti all over the city of Nantes for a month, says Pascal Riché. It was also a Twitter hashtag (#OuEstSteve). It refers to 24-year-old Steve Maia Caniço, who—along with 13 other late-night revelers at a music festival on the banks of the Loire—was attacked in June by police hurling stun grenades, and fell into the river. Steve couldn’t swim; his body washed away and was found only last week. It’s a shocking case, but far from unique. This sort of police brutality has become commonplace since the Yellow Vest protests started late last year. Officers routinely charged at demonstrators and blasted them with tear gas, causing numerous injuries and the death of an elderly woman. At a peaceful climate change rally in Paris recently, activists shouting “Go easy, officers, we’re doing it for your children” were also sprayed with tear gas. Yet far from being held to account, officers involved in such incidents get promoted. President Emmanuel Macron denies the abuses, saying it’s wrong to use the term “police violence.” How different from the student riots of 1968, when there were no deaths, not least because Paris’ police chief warned that to hit a fallen demonstrator was to “strike yourself.” Today’s cops have no such scruples. “Brutality is a choice.” (Webmaster's comment: Too often chosen by police in the United States also.)
8-9-19 Europe: A world without arms control
Russia and the U.S. are “shedding no crocodile tears” over the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, said François Ernenwein in La Croix (France). Signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the INF banned both countries from developing, possessing, and deploying all ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges from 300 to 3,400 miles. Such missiles have short flight times and are hard to detect; in the 1980s, the U.S. and the USSR each deployed hundreds of the weapons to Europe, ready to vaporize cities on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain. The INF was a great breakthrough for peace, but Moscow and Washington now consider it a Cold War relic. Russia has been “mocking it for years,” building and developing the 9M729 cruise missile, which has a range of 1,250 miles. President Donald Trump used that breach to justify America’s withdrawal from the INF in February—a pullout that took effect last week. But Trump has other reasons for wanting to scrap the pact. Beijing wasn’t a party to the original deal and so has been free to assemble an arsenal of midrange nukes. With the INF dead, Trump can now “modernize the American arsenal to contain China’s ambitions” in the Pacific. Why isn’t the European Union shrieking in protest? asked Christoph von Marschall in Der Tagesspiegel (Germany). The INF treaty was the result of protests across Europe by “millions of people” who didn’t want to see their cities incinerated. But now “a new generation has grown up that no longer takes seriously the threat of nuclear war.” Such complacency will be our undoing. The U.S. is already mulling stationing midrange missiles in Japan or South Korea, said the Global Times (China). But any Asian nation that welcomes American missiles will be standing against China and Russia, “directly or indirectly, and will draw fire against itself.” Japan and South Korea depend on China for trade, and it will “be their nightmare if they follow the U.S. to start a new cold war.” China can afford to build “a super weapons arsenal”—and, if provoked, we will do it.
8-9-19 The bigots creating ‘gay-free zones’
Having largely fulfilled its pledge to bar Muslim migrants from the country, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has found a new way to fire up supporters: gay bashing, said Ewa Siedlecka. The new focus began as a backlash to Warsaw’s liberal mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, who wants LGBT issues to be addressed in school sex education classes. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski called the plan an “attack on the family,” denouncing “LGBT ideology” as a threat to Polish identity. Now 30 cities and districts controlled by the party have declared themselves LGBT-free zones. The bigots aren’t prevailing everywhere: When the right-wing weekly Gazeta Polska included “LGBT-free zone” stickers in a recent issue, a distribution company refused to deliver the magazines, saying the stickers fueled discrimination. Enraged government supporters are calling this a “violation of free speech.” That’s pure bunk—it’s doubtful Law and Justice supporters would champion a magazine’s right to distribute “Catholic-free zone” stickers. If anything is being violated, it’s Poland’s anti-discrimination laws. Still, it’s futile to hope that government-appointed prosecutors will act. If they’re willing to turn a blind eye to far-right marchers singing “Zionists will be hanging from the trees instead of leaves,” as they did two years ago, then they won’t do much about this, either.
8-9-19 Reagan: Was he really a racist?
Conservatives have always insisted that their hero, Ronald Reagan, “didn’t have a racist bone in his body,” said Josh Levin in Slate.com. But last week, a recording emerged of Ronald Reagan talking about black people “behind closed doors,” and it wasn’t pretty. In the tape of a 1971 phone call with President Nixon, then–California Gov. Reagan angrily complains about watching Tanzanian officials dancing in celebration after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China. “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan tells Nixon, who “cackles” in response. In a subsequent call, a giddy Nixon described Reagan’s rant about African “cannibals” and said that the governor “spoke for racist Americans.” Black people would tell you otherwise, said Renée Graham in The Boston Globe. Reagan popularized the “vile stereotype” of poor black women as “welfare queens,” and he exploited it “to attack housing benefits, aid to children in poverty, and food stamps programs.” His disdain for AIDS victims was disastrous for straight black women as well as gays, and he was similarly blind to the racially skewed consequences of his War on Drugs. By launching his 1980 presidential campaign with an ode to “states’ rights” in Mississippi, Reagan clearly proved he was willing to tap into “white fear and resentment.” That cynical Republican strategy has a direct lineage from Nixon to Reagan to Donald Trump. The Gipper’s 1980 campaign slogan, after all, was “Let’s Make America Great Again.” (Webmaster's comment: And don't forget Reagon supported appartheid in South Africa!)
8-9-19 Blaming evil
The massacre in El Paso was not the product of inexplicable forces. At a time when Americans agree about little, it's safe to say that mass shootings, and those who perpetrate them, are evil. "He's just an evil person," Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso said of the white nationalist who killed 22 people and wounded 26 more. "Unspeakable evil," agreed Sen. Ted Cruz. "We are outraged and sickened by this monstrous evil," intoned President Trump, in describing both the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. But what, precisely, do people using this word mean? As Megan Garber points out this week at The Atlantic, blaming abstract "evil" serves to suggest that America's ongoing massacres are inexplicable and unpreventable. It absolves gun laws. It frees from blame the political leaders and cable TV hosts who have fueled white "replacement" fears and dehumanized the very "invaders" the El Paso gunman used his assault rifle to exterminate. "Evil, used as a talking point, both throws up its hands and washes them," Garber says. The best definition of evil I've heard comes from Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco, who has devoted much of his life to its study. Evil, he has concluded, springs from "the absence of imaginative sympathy for other human beings" — a choice not to care about their suffering. The potential for evil in all of us can be activated, Delbanco says, when people come to believe that inflicting pain and death on others serves a higher purpose, such as establishing ISIS' caliphate or preserving the white race's dominance. In El Paso, witnesses said, the gunman stalked his prey with cold fury, shooting two children, many grandparents, a couple who shielded their baby with their bodies, and several weeping people who pled with him, "Por favor. No." In his manifesto, the gunman said that only mass killings can repel "the Hispanic invasion of Texas" and "remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc." His acts were evil, but not inexplicable.
8-9-19 Are researchers asking the right questions to prevent mass shootings?
Learning how to thwart such events may be more effective than analyzing culprits’ backgrounds. Two decades ago, two students opened fire at Colorado’s Columbine High School, killing 12 of their classmates and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves. In the aftermath, psychologist James Garbarino interviewed one of the shooters’ parents and brother, in hopes of understanding why a troubled young man would carry out such carnage. But Garbarino came up empty. “It’s very hard to see how any one thing led to the Columbine event,” says Garbarino, of Loyola University Chicago. In fact, 20 years after that shocking tragedy, there is still no established science to predict who might become a mass shooter (SN: 4/14/18, p. 14). And the attacks keep happening. In the last week alone, there have been several mass shootings in public, including especially deadly attacks in El Paso, Texas, on August 3 and in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4, that left 32 people dead, including the Ohio gunman. The killings have renewed speculation about why certain young males, for the most part, decide to spray bullets across crowded spaces. But scientists are also now thinking more broadly about the issue. Some say testing a range of public policy approaches to see which best prevent mass public shootings, rather than exploring motives for homicidal rampages, offers the most potential. A preventive research program on public shootings would search for practical policy prescriptions aimed at cutting imminent attacks short. Researchers need to focus on identifying ways to stop mass shootings before they happen, says Philip Cook, a professor of economics and sociology at Duke University. Mass shooters often communicate threats to others in person or online shortly before acting, researchers have found. So, studies of how best to respond to such threats on social media or in daily life could help to refine proposed “red flag” laws aimed at taking guns from those deemed dangerous, Cook says. (Webmaster's comment: Every White Suprematist and White Nationalist is a danger to everyone. Their answer to all social issues is killing!)
8-9-19 Death by deportation
If you have Type 1 diabetes and cannot get insulin, you will eventually develop a condition called ketoacidosis. Your cells are unable to access the sugar in your blood, and so your body reverts to digesting its muscle and fat in a backup metabolism process — essentially, you start to starve because you can no longer process normal food. This in turn leads to a steady buildup of toxic acidic byproducts in the blood, which makes you deathly ill. You become severely dehydrated as your body attempts to dilute its sugar-saturated blood with all available water, and you gasp for breath as it tries to lower your blood's acidity by reducing the blood concentration of carbon dioxide (which is slightly acidic). Without treatment, you eventually develop cerebral edema, fall into a coma, and perish. It's a gruesome, agonizing way to die. And it's almost certainly what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inflicted on a Detroit man named Jimmy Aldaoud by deporting him to Iraq, despite the fact that he was not born there, never lived there, had no money, spoke no Arabic, had both severe mental illness and diabetes, and indeed had been living in the U.S. since he was six months old. After living on the street for two and a half months, where he said he had been throwing up for lack of insulin, he died. But that's just one example this week of the reign of racist terror being carried out by a Trump administration that places high priority on inflicting gratuitous cruelty on any minority person that falls into its clutches. In Mississippi, ICE goons also conducted some of the largest workplace raids in the agency's history Wednesday, rounding up 680 chicken plant workers whose only crime was suspicion of being an unauthorized immigrant (and possibly brought down as a result of a $3.75 million sexual harassment settlement recently paid by the plant's owner). Buzzfeed's Hamead Aleaziz has a heartbreaking account of workers calling their families in terror as they realized the secret police were upon them.
8-9-19 Rainbow Caravan: The long journey to LGBT freedom
Two years ago, a "rainbow caravan" of gay men and trans women from Central America and Mexico arrived in the US to seek refuge. This is the story of their journey - and what happened next. "Are you ready?" says the voice behind the smartphone, which pans along a queue. Six gay men and 11 transgender women stand together in single file, clutching their papers. Just metres ahead are the revolving grilled gates of the US-Mexico border. Each member of the group looks nervous, and each has dressed for the occasion. One of the trans women, in a lacy white dress and diamanté tiara, exhales deeply and looks up at the ceiling. One of the gay men, wearing a checked shirt and smart black trousers with bleached blond hair gelled firmly into place, takes an anxious glance at a guard standing behind them. Together they have formed a caravan, an informal group of people, travelling together for safety as is common for people fleeing dangers across Central America. Theirs is the "first Rainbow Caravan", as they branded it. This side of the gate is in Nogales, Mexico. The other is in Nogales, Arizona. The two Nogales, as they are called, are "united by love", according to the local motto, but the Rainbow Caravan is not expecting a warm welcome. Among the group is Joselyn, a trans woman from Nicaragua, and Jerson, a gay man in his twenties from Honduras. The camera cuts as they step into the unknown.
8-9-19 ICE raids: 300 people released amid outrage over Mississippi arrests
US immigration officials say they have temporarily released about 300 people who were arrested in a massive raid in Mississippi on Wednesday. Democrats and rights groups have condemned the arrests as "cruel". Nearly 700 workers from seven agricultural processing plants were arrested for allegedly not having proper documentation to be in the US. Pictures emerged of children crying after being separated from their parents. Officials say they took steps to ensure any children were properly cared for. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said "approximately 680 removable aliens" had been detained during the operation, which saw agents arriving in buses to question and arrest workers at the plants. President Donald Trump had announced an immigration crackdown in June, saying "millions of illegal aliens who [had] found their way into the US" would be removed. ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the BBC that, of the 680 people arrested in Wednesday's raids, more than 300 had been released with notices to appear before immigration judges. "They were placed into proceedings before the federal immigration courts and will have their day in court at a later date," he said in an emailed statement. Those who were not released will be moved to an ICE detention facility and held there, Mr Cox said.
8-8-19 ICE raids leave some children separated from parents
Almost 700 people were detained in a series of immigration raids in the US state of Mississippi. Some children were taken to a local gym after they came home to find their parents gone. (Webmaster's comment: These children have a high likelyhood for being sold into human trafficking slavery by ICE male brutes!)
8-8-19 The farming out of state violence
Authoritarian figures rarely rely on state power alone to accomplish their draconian ends. They often also mobilize the very thing that legitimate rulers are supposed to stop: private violence. That is precisely how the Jim Crow South maintained its regime of racial apartheid after the abolition of slavery limited the scope of formal state action. And now President Donald J. Trump is dipping into that ignominious tradition to activate the white nationalists in his base to advance his border control objectives. Trump did not pull the trigger in the El Paso carnage that killed 22 people — and counting — but it's hard to deny that he has helped foment the atmosphere in which the trigger was pulled. Trump kicked off his presidential run by calling Mexican rapists and criminals of course. And in his rallies he teasingly encouraged his supporters to "rough up" dissenters who protested his incendiary rhetoric. Far from cooling such language after getting elected, he ramped it up. He has repeatedly referred to immigrants as an infestation and painted a lurid picture of an out-of-control southern border under attack by "invaders" that border patrol agents are powerless to stop because, as he laments, "we can't let them [the agents] use weapons." As New York's Eric Levitz points out, the unmistakable message to "trigger happy patriots" in all of this is that "we can't use weapons" but "perhaps you should." That, of course, is precisely what the 21-year-old El Paso shooter, who explicitly billed his attack as a "response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas," did. Although he took matters much further than Trump intended with his inflammatory rhetoric, the same cannot be said for border militias steeped in white supremacist ideology that have increasingly been doing for Trump what Trump can't do for himself. For months now a slew of militia outfits in border states have taken it upon themselves to patrol the southern border more aggressively than the government, constrained by due process and other concerns, can. "Having the most powerful person on Earth echo their hateful views may even give extremists a sense of impunity," points out Louisiana State University's Nathan P. Kalmoe.
8-8-19 US immigration: ICE arrests nearly 700 people in Mississippi raids
US immigration officials have arrested almost 700 people after a series of raids in the state of Mississippi. The co-ordinated operations targeted workers at seven agricultural processing plants who allegedly did not have proper documentation. Videos and photos showed agents arriving in buses to question and arrest the people. Some children were taken to a local gym after they came home to find their parents gone. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said "approximately 680 removable aliens" had been detained. US President Donald Trump announced an immigration crackdown in June, saying "millions of illegal aliens who [had] found their way into the US" would be removed. The raids took place just hours before Mr Trump arrived in the majority Latino city of El Paso to mark a mass shooting which left 22 people dead. About 600 ICE agents arrived at the chicken processing plants, owned by five different companies, in the towns of Bay Springs, Canton, Carthage, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastopol. The agency's acting director, Matthew Albence, told the Associated Press news agency it was one of the largest enforcement operations against undocumented immigrants. Friends and family looked on as officers surrounded plants and began to arrest the workers. One video posted on Facebook showed people gathered outside a Koch Foods plant in Morton. A child - daughter of one of the detained women - can be heard weeping uncontrollably as people are loaded onto a bus. "Her mum is in there," a woman tells a police officer. "Her mum is her only legal guardian." The crying girl asks the officer, "Please, can I just see my mother, please." The child was eventually allowed to see her mother before she was taken away. (Webmaster's comment: The male brutes at ICE at work!)
8-8-19 US mass shootings: Trump visits Dayton and El Paso
US President Donald Trump has visited two cities reeling from mass shootings but the trip saw protests and feuds with local politicians. Mr Trump called for unity in the wake of the attacks in Texas and Ohio and spent Wednesday visiting emergency responders and survivors. But criticism over his rhetoric and lack of action on gun control did not go away. In El Paso, Texas, some protesters carried signs saying "racist, go home". There were similar scenes in the other city he visited, Dayton, in Ohio. Supporters of President Trump also took to the streets. In total 31 people died in the attacks in El Paso and Dayton, which took place within hours of each other. Mr Trump and his wife Melania were met at the airport by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo before being driven away. They spent more than an hour at the city's University Medical Center talking with staff and victims before travelling to the emergency operations centre. Some protesters along the route held placards reading "Go home. You are NOT welcome here!" and "Trump hatred, racism not welcome here". The Democrat congresswoman who represents El Paso, Veronica Escobar, refused to meet him, saying his "racist and hateful words & actions" had caused pain to her community and her country. She and Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso native, attended a rally where Mr O'Rourke said the president was "vilifying" immigrants. Mr Trump has mocked Mr O'Rourke's "phony nickname" and told him to "be quiet" before the trip. The El Paso shooting, which left 22 people dead, is being treated as a possible hate crime. Much of the city identifies as Hispanic and the suspect is thought to be the author of a text posted online which said "this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas". The text echoed some of the US president's language, with Mr Trump having frequently used the term "invasion" to describe the situation on the US-Mexico border.
8-8-19 US mass shootings: Trump visits El Paso
US President Donald Trump has visited emergency workers and survivors of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. The president shared a video on twitter of his visit to the hospital. Hispanic people were targeted in an apparent hate crime when a gunman in El Paso shot dead 22 people on Saturday. Mr Trump himself has been accused of stoking hatred against Hispanic people.
8-7-19 President Trump to visit mass shooting sites amid criticism
Donald Trump is to visit the sites of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas amid warnings he will not be welcome. The attacks in Dayton and El Paso left 31 people dead. The US president spoke out on racism and hatred following the shootings but has been accused of stoking the same sentiments he sought to condemn. The Democratic congresswoman who represents El Paso said she would not meet him, urging him to understand that his words "have consequences". "I refuse to join without a dialogue about the pain his racist and hateful words & actions have caused our community and country," Veronica Escobar tweeted. The El Paso shooting is being treated as a possible hate crime. Much of the city identifies as Hispanic or Latino and the suspect is thought to be the author of a text posted online which said "this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas".The text echoed some of the US president's language, with Mr Trump having frequently used the term "invasion" to describe the situation on the US-Mexico border. Remarks by Mr Trump and others which linked the shootings to mental illness have also been criticised. Ms Escobar is not the only one to suggest Mr Trump faces a cool reception in El Paso. Beto O'Rourke, a native of the city and Democratic presidential challenger, said Mr Trump "has no place here". Both he and Ms Escobar have said they will attend a community event intended to honour those who died and "confront white supremacy". El Paso's Republican Mayor, Dee Margo, said it was his "formal duty" to welcome Mr Trump but added he would "continue to challenge any harmful and inaccurate statements made about El Paso". (Webmaster's comment: Trump is not going to sleeze his way out of this one!)
8-6-19 Racist words and acts, like the El Paso shooting, harm children’s health
U.S. pediatricians are tackling racism as a public health issue that can take a lifelong toll. Just days before 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, allegedly by an anti-immigrant gunman, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that racism was harming children’s overall health. Among the people fleeing the shooting at a Walmart on August 3 were young families with children shopping for back-to-school supplies. “Two young parents who sacrificed themselves to shield their 2-month-old infant … were within the age group of young people I serve,” says pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Maria Trent of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who sees patients up to age 25. The shooting, she says, highlighted two key risks to children’s health and well-being in the United States: gun violence and racism. “Older children and adolescents around the country hear the news, listen to adults talking and see this on their social media feeds,” says Trent, who coauthored the Academy’s new policy statement. “They need grown-ups to be able to assure them that they are safe — and to know that it’s actually the truth.” The stress of being targeted by, or even just witnessing, racist words and actions can take a lifelong toll on children and adolescents, the Academy warned on July 29 in a statement that marked the end of a decade-long deliberation on the issue. “The evidence to support the continued negative impact of racism on health and well-being ... is clear,” Trent and her colleagues write. This is the first time the Academy has explicitly focused on racism. Trent spoke with Science News about the statement, and how pediatricians can respond. Her answers have been edited for length and clarity. (Webmaster's comment: But our nation is not a safe place any longer, and people of all ages need to know that! There are murderous White Supremacists and White Nationalists all over the place.)
8-6-19 Child Holocaust witness reveals lucky escape aboard The Lost Train
Mirjam Lapid-Andriesse was 10 years old when she was taken from her home in the Dutch city of Utrecht and placed in an Amsterdam "ghetto" with her family in April 1943. As a child, she was unaware of the gravity of what wasunfolding around her. More than 100,000 Jews from cities and towns across the Netherlands were being gathered up to be deported during World War Two, mainly to death camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor. The victims included thousands of children. Only 5,000 people survived. "I was a little girl during the war, so my memories are child memories, not political," she tells the BBC. "I was the youngest of four children, two boys and two girls. I remember we were taken from the ghetto by train to the Westerbork transit camp in June 1943." Mirjam, now 86, was speaking on the day that Dutch state-run rail company NS began accepting applications for its compensation programme over its historical role in helping the Nazi occupiers transport Jewish families. (Webmaster's comment: 76 Years later compensation? It comes 76 years to late for those who survived. Most of them have died of old age so there will be few to compensate! This delay was deliberate!) Now living in Israel, Mirjam recalls her memories of life in Utrecht, the Amsterdam ghetto and the Westerbork camp. "In the beginning it affected the adults more, but then it affected us," she says. "We couldn't go to the swimming pool or the cinema, we had to hand over our bikes and we weren't allowed to go to public schools - so I actually lost three years of schooling." Despite this, she considers her family to be very fortunate, compared with others. "Out of the six of us, five of us survived. Only our father died - so we were lucky." Mirjam's father, Herman, died from severe undernourishment and exhaustion on 24 February 1945, just six weeks before her family was liberated.
8-6-19 Obama urges Americans to reject leaders who stoke hatred
Former US President Barack Obama has called on Americans to reject language from any of their leaders that feeds hatred or normalises racism. Mr Obama did not name anyone but his rare comments came after President Donald Trump sought to deflect criticism that his anti-immigrant rhetoric had fuelled violence. In a speech on Monday, Mr Trump condemned hatred and white supremacy. He was speaking after 31 people died in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. While in office, Mr Obama fought unsuccessfully to restrict gun ownership. He told the BBC in 2015 that his failure to pass "common sense gun safety laws" had been the greatest frustration of his presidency. He has refrained from commenting on Mr Trump's controversial rhetoric regarding migrants but on Monday issued a statement. "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalises racist sentiments; leaders who demonise those who don't look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people," he said. "It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it's time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much - clearly and unequivocally." During his presidential campaign Mr Trump said Mexican immigrants included drug dealers, criminals and rapists. More recently, he caused widespread anger by suggesting that four US congresswomen of colour "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came". He denied his comments were racist.In a statement from the White House on Monday, Mr Trump called for mental health gun control reforms; the death penalty for those who commit mass murder and more bi-partisan co-operation over gun laws. "Mental illness and hate pull the trigger, not the gun," Mr Trump said. (Webmaster's comment: But you put the instruments of mass killing in their hands!)
8-5-19 El Paso shooting: Has US neglected fight against white extremism?
US authorities are investigating the shootings in El Paso that left 22 people dead as a possible case of "domestic terrorism". How big a threat is this kind of terror and how is the US combating it? Police believe the white suspect, Patrick Crusius, drove hundreds of miles across Texas to a Hispanic-majority city to carry out his attack. He is believed to be the author of a document posted minutes before the shooting which said the attack was "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas". In a statement, the FBI said the attack "underscores the continued threat posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes". It also said it was concerned that "US-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence". Last month, the FBI said this kind of violence was on the rise and most of it was motivated by some form of white supremacist ideology. Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 killings in 2018, making it one of the worst years in terms of right-wing violence since 1995, according to researchers with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organisation that monitors hate crimes. Approximately three-fourths of killings by extremists have been carried out by those affiliated with white supremacist groups, according to the ADL researchers. The violence inflicted by individuals linked to right-wing groups, whether through their online connections or ideological affinity, was making grim national and international headlines long before El Paso. One woman was killed at a synagogue in Poway, California, in April, while 11 people died in an attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year. Analysts say these killers share a common ideology, one of violence, bigotry and hate, and are fuelled by people they meet in online communities such as 4chan and 8chan, places where they have been able to discuss freely white nationalism and other virulent forms of racism. (Webmaster's comment: It's white brute males that are the dangerous ones. President Trump has called white supremacists "good people.")
8-5-19 What will happen to doctors and hospitals under Medicare-for-all? It's complicated.
Wealthy paper-pushers and specialists will take a hit, but others will benefit. Advocates of Medicare-for-all often pin the blame for America's dystopian health care nightmare on insurance companies and Big Pharma, and for good reason. They are the clear villains in many awful stories of people being forced to jump through flaming hoops to get necessary care (if they can get it all), or having to pay through the nose for lifesaving drugs. But there is another major culprit behind America's health-care problems: the providers. American health care is ridiculously expensive in large part because many doctors and hospitals charge outrageous prices. Reining in this price-gouging will be key to any successful health care reform — though it won't be all bad for the medical profession. The American Prospect's David Dayen lays out the problem here. In brief, the prices of American medical services are the highest in the world by far, which provides extremely high salaries for doctors (especially specialists) and nurses. The salaries of top executives at provider companies are higher still, as are the corporate profits. Health care cost bloat is quite literally devouring the American economy — we spend nearly 5 percentage points of GDP (or about $1 trillion) more than the second-most expensive country, for middling-to-poor health outcomes, and providers account for a great deal of that. Naked greed is the reason why so many provider groups — like the American Medical Association, or the American College of Radiology — have signed up with the lobbying group Partnership for America's Health Care Future to oppose any kind of reform. The public only gets glimpses of this, like when they make the mistake of walking into the emergency room and get hit with $238 charges for eyedrops. Or they have the pleasure of being uninsured, and suffer with charges ten times the cost of care. Or they learn that the anesthesiologist at the hospital in their insurance network was randomly out of network, and now they have to pay a surprise bill. As I explain in detail here, given the chaos and opacity of health care billing, it is virtually impossible to know where precisely all the waste is (indeed, hospitals themselves don't know in many circumstances). But that spending is coming from somewhere, and arithmetic dictates that a lot of it is the fault of providers. However, it must be noted that reform wouldn't be all bad for providers. In particular, Medicare-for-all would allow hospitals to hugely consolidate their administration, as they would no longer need to fuss around with lots of different private insurance systems. A whole bunch of paper-pushers would get laid off, but everyone else would have a much easier time. All the billing procedures would be the same, a doctor could refer a patient to any other doctor without worrying if they're in network, and so on. That's why Canadian hospitals spend only 12 percent of revenue on administrative overhead, as compared to 25 percent in American ones.
8-5-19 Trump: US must condemn white supremacy
President Donald Trump has condemned "racism, hatred and white supremacy" in an address following mass shootings that left 29 dead in Texas and Ohio. He called for mental health gun control reforms, the death penalty for those who commit mass murder and more bi-partisan co-operation over gun laws. "Mental health and hate pull the trigger, not the gun," Mr Trump said, speaking at the White House on Monday. He did not express support for gun control measures proposed in Congress. "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy," Mr Trump said on Monday. "These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America." (Webmaster's comment: Yet he has promoted hatred of immigrants and Muslims!) The president outlined a number of policies, including more co-operation between agencies and social media companies, mental health laws, and changes to the culture of glorification of violence. He called for red flag laws that would allow law enforcement authorities to take away weapons from individuals believed to be a threat to themselves or others. Mr Trump said government agencies must work together and identify individuals who may commit violent acts, prevent their access to firearms and also suggested involuntary confinement as a way to stop potential attackers. He also said he directed the justice department to propose legislation to ensure those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty.
8-5-19 Texas Walmart shooting: El Paso mourns its shattered innocence
The US border city of El Paso is in shock after a gunman apparently drove hundreds of miles to commit an atrocity there. "I've never been scared of being Hispanic ever before, but now I am," says Ivonne Diaz, 31, bursting into tears. "I can't believe this has happened. El Paso is a city of immigrants and we have always fought for each other." At 10:30 on a Saturday in August, there is no more ordinary activity than heading to the supermarket. Thousands of people were at the Walmart in El Paso that day. The car park at the border town was full of cars bearing US and Mexican number plates, their drivers and passengers picking up back-to-school supplies or just some bread and milk. Maybe a few beers for the weekend. And then gunshots rang out, killing 20 people. The shockwaves have been reverberating all weekend."I'm just worried for the list of names to come out," says taxi driver Carla Karam. "Everyone will have known someone. We all know each other - it's a city of six degrees of separation." What strikes you here is the friendliness. Strangers are welcomed with open arms - literally in some cases, with hugs being given to journalists along with bottles of water. Cynthia Chavez, 41, says: "I'm so sad and don't know how we're meant to explain this to our kids. In El Paso, we're the type of people who, if you come to town, we will welcome you with open doors and make you feel part of this town." Danielle Novoa, 30, who was with her husband, her twin sister and 10-month-old son, says they were heading to the store and were half an hour away when they heard what had happened. "We knew right away it wouldn't be someone local. There's no way any citizen could live or think that way. "Being Latina, in a huge Hispanic community, there were times I would think: 'Hey, we could be a target because of how things are now in other states.' But then I never really thought it would happen to us. "We feel so safe walking out the door in El Paso. But now, we'll be thinking: 'Am I OK to go out and get a gallon of milk? Some diapers for the baby?'"
8-4-19 El Paso and Dayton: Two mass shootings - Will anything change?
It's become a familiar refrain after every mass shooting in the US. Will this time be different? Will outrage over the violence compel political action, as it has done in the UK after Dunblane, Australia after Port Arthur and, most recently, New Zealand after Christchurch? Among gun control activists, there is a certain amount of resignation whenever a new incident splashes across the headlines. If public sentiment did not force action after the 2012 Newtown shooting, when 26 people - including 20 young children - were killed in a Connecticut school, then nothing will ever change. If the double tragedy of El Paso and Dayton ends up being different, however, here are a few possible explanations. Recent mass shootings in the US have been attributed to a variety of causes - disaffected youth (Parkland and Santa Fe), mental illness (Annapolis), workplace conflict (Virginia Beach) and family discord (Sutherland Springs). The deadliest such incident in modern US history, the 2017 shooting at a music concert in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives, still has no attributed motive. In this case, however, all evidence indicates that the El Paso shooting was a calculated political act drawn from the white nationalist rhetoric that has become increasingly prominent in modern US politics. In that way, it's more akin to last October's Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which prompted discussions about rising anti-Semitism in the US, or the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, which served as a jarring display of the strength of the modern white supremacist movement. Although the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, has yet to be conclusively tied to the racist manifesto posted on the internet shortly before the attacks, the facts point in one direction. He did not launch this attack in his home town. He drove at least eight hours, from north Texas to within miles of the US-Mexico border, and opened fire in a shopping area frequented by Hispanics. Law enforcement says they are treating the case as an episode of "domestic terrorism". (Webmaster's comment: White Nationalism and White Supremacism are breeding grounds for hatred and violence. SHUN members in these groups!)
8-4-19 Dayton shooting: Nine confirmed killed, gunman also dead
Nine people have been killed and at least 26 injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio - the second US mass shooting in 24 hours. Police confirmed they killed the gunman at the scene within a minute of him opening fire. The shooting began at 01:07 local time (05:07 GMT) in the Oregon district of the city centre. The local mayor said the gunman wore body armour and came carrying extra ammunition. Nan Whaley told reporters she was "amazed" by the quick response of the officers which she said prevented further deaths, but also stressed it would be a "very, very difficult time" for families of victims. "As a mayor, this is a day that we all dread happening," she said. "What's very sad is I've got messages from mayors across the country - it's sad that we've all gone through it." The incident came only hours after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas which left at least 20 people dead. The Gun Violence Archive, which categorises mass shootings as four or more people shot or killed, says there have been 251 so far this year. (Webmaster's comment: As I've said the White Nationalists-White Supremacists are on a killing ramage. They are core Trump supporters!)
8-4-19 Texas Walmart shooting: El Paso attack 'appears to be hate crime'
A shooting at a supermarket in the US state of Texas that left 20 dead could have been a hate crime, officials say. A 21-year-old white man was arrested at the Walmart store where the attack took place in the city of El Paso, near the US-Mexico border, on Saturday. A document, apparently posted shortly before the attack and believed to have been written by the man, espoused white nationalist and racist views. The tract called the attack a response to "the Hispanic invasion of Texas". The man lived in Allen, in the Dallas area, about 650 miles (1,046km) east of El Paso, according to police, who were still interviewing him. It is not yet clear how long before the attack he had gone to the city. Officials have not offered a precise motive for the attack, which also left 26 injured, but El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said investigators were looking into a document that could indicate a "potential nexus to a hate crime". He appeared to be referring to a text posted on 8chan, an online message board frequently used by the far right, which describes a "cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion", alluding to Hispanic people in the US. The four-page document, reportedly posted some 20 minutes before police received the first emergency call, also expresses support for the gunman who killed 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. The man - named by US media as Patrick Crusius - opened fire with an assault-style rifle and surrendered after being confronted by officers outside the store, police said. "We're going to aggressively prosecute it both as capital murder but also as a hate crime, which is exactly what it appears to be," Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters. He called it "one of the most deadly days in the history" of the state. (Webmaster's comment: Only the beginning of a White Nationalist-White Supremacist killing ramage!)
8-4-19 The Second Amendment has failed America
Enough. No more. Stop. The gun massacres in America are now coming so quickly, one after another, that it's impossible to process our grief and anger before the next one occurs. There is a sickness in our land, and it cries out for an immediate, righteous, and even radical response. It's possible you went to bed Saturday night, like I did, upset and angry about the news that a 21-year-old man besotted with white supremacy and armed with an assault rifle opened fire in El Paso, Texas, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens more. How could you know that, by the time you awoke, another mass shooting — this one in Dayton, Ohio — would be making headlines? Early reports suggested there were multiple casualties in Ohio, and video from the scene showed a massive response by local police and medics. And all of this happened just days after another young man, a 19-year-old who was also obsessed with white supremacy and armed with an assault rifle, opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, killing three people. God help us. Scratch that. (Webmaster's comment: Praying Does Has Not Worked And Will Not Work!) It's time that we help ourselves. And we can start by understanding and declaring that the Second Amendment is a failure. It's not just a failure because guns are used so widely, and to such ill effect. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a failure because the right to bear arms — the right it so famously defends — is supposed to protect Americans from violence. Instead, it endangers them. As the conservative National Review noted last year, "supporters of a right to bear arms have rooted their arguments in a murky pre-constitutional right to self-defense." The right to bear arms is based on an old understanding in English common law: If somebody attacks you, you have the right to protect yourself. There's nothing controversial about that, is there? The language of self-defense was made explicit in D.C. vs Heller, the 2008 Supreme Court ruling cementing individual gun rights. "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." But in reality, guns are used far more often on offense, by bad guys who have easy access to deadly firepower in unthinkable quantities. Data shows that people who own guns legally are more likely to kill themselves than they are to kill an intruder. People who own guns legally are more likely to kill a family member — on purpose or accidentally — than they are to kill an assailant. And people who own guns legally don't actually use those weapons in self-defense all that often. "The average person [...] has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense," a Harvard University researcher told NPR last year.
8-4-19 Transgender influencers are changing Brazil's advertising industry
Transgender influencers are being signed up by advertisers in Brazil looking to reach new audiences. Thiessa, whose YouTube videos have amassed 35 million views, says she and others can help reach the kinds of customers that traditional TV stars cannot. But, for trans influencers such as Lucca Najar, not all brands are welcome.
8-2-19 Domestic terrorism white supremacist
The FBI has arrested about 100 people on domestic terrorism charges so far this fiscal year. FBI Director Christopher Wray says most of the arrests were related to “white supremacist” activity.
8-2-19 Festival shooting
A 19-year-old who’d promoted white supremacy fatally shot three people and injured 12 others at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival this week. Police responded within one minute of Santino William Legan opening fire and killed the shooter as festivalgoers at the 100,000-visitor event sought escape routes. A motive wasn’t initially clear, although Legan had urged Instagram followers to read Might Is Right, a novel admired by white supremacists. Legan appears to have gotten into the festival with an AK-47–style rifle by cutting through a fence. He had legally purchased the gun in Nevada less than three weeks earlier, but likely broke California law by bringing it home to the state. The dead include a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a 2017 college grad. During the attack, someone asked, “Why are you doing this?” Legan replied, “Because I am really angry!”
8-2-19 The opioid crisis
“From 2006 to 2012, roughly 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills crisscrossed America. What the opioid crisis illustrates is not that there are a few bad apples in the pharmaceutical industry, but that the country’s entire health-care system is driven by profit at the expense of public health and safety. Drug manufacturers, pharmacy chains, drug distributors, and insurance companies got rich while people, especially people lower down the income ladder, suffered—and the Drug Enforcement Administration, through neglect or incompetence or a mix of both, watched it all happen.”
8-2-19 Automakers: ‘No thanks’ to deregulation
Four of the world’s biggest automakers have dealt “a significant blow to Washington’s attempt to roll back” Obama-era fuel-economy rules, said David Fickling. Last week, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW struck a deal with California that requires tighter fuel economy standards, closer to Obama administration rules than the lenient regulations proposed by President Trump. Additional states representing a third of the U.S. car market tend to follow California’s standards, so more companies are likely to join in. Two decades ago, U.S. regulations “could more or less define the shape of the world’s car market.” But that has been changing. Japan, Canada, Europe, and even China have all been upgrading their standards “to reduce the toll of vehicle pollution.” The proposal from Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency would make the U.S. the odd one out. Carmakers now depend on “unified platforms and modular designs” to sell their vehicles worldwide. They want to minimize the complexity of their global supply chains and can’t afford to make “bespoke vehicles for each market.” Maybe 20 years ago Washington could have successfully managed to “grab hold of the industry’s steering wheel.” But these days, the U.S. alone just isn’t significant enough for the car companies to change course.
8-2-19 Food stamps: Cutting 3 million recipients
“The Trump administration is kicking 3.1 million people off food stamps,” said Dylan Matthews in Vox.com. Since House Democrats wouldn’t approve of cuts, the White House is altering a rule that helps needy people receive benefits from the program “more easily and quickly.” Currently, those who apply for other forms of public assistance can be automatically enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. This policy has enabled states to provide food stamps to people who have more than the federal limits of $2,250 to $3,500 in savings. Advocates say many of the working poor suffer from “food insecurity” despite having jobs and some savings; not knowing if they’ll be able to eat breakfast or dinner results in chronic stress and illness that winds up costing taxpayers more in the end than SNAP would. The charge of widespread abuse is a lie, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. The Congressional Research Service has found that SNAP’s fraud rate is only 0.57 percent. The Republican myth about undeserving food-stamp freeloaders is largely based on a stunt by Minnesota millionaire Rob Undersander, who collected about $5,300 over 19 months in SNAP benefits to make a point. But the only thing Undersander proved is that “a determined individual can commit fraud on the U.S. government. That’s not news.” There is a perverse irony in Trump’s SNAP cuts, said David Super in The New York Times. The money saved will help offset a nearly $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich. Once again, the burden of paying for the profligacy of our elected leaders falls “on those least able to afford it.”
8-2-19 Supreme Court accepts wall construction
The Supreme Court authorized the Trump administration last week to use $2.5 billion in defense funds to rebuild fences on the U.S.-Mexico border while litigation over the spending is ongoing. In a 5-4 decision, the Court’s conservative justices reversed lower court orders to freeze construction in Arizona, California, and New Mexico. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents one set of plaintiffs, said it would seek an expedited hearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump declared “VICTORY” on Twitter after the Supreme Court decision. The legal battle is not finished, but in a one-paragraph ruling, conservative justices appeared skeptical of lawmakers’ and advocates’ standing to challenge the spending and hinted they would side with the Trump administration.
8-2-19 Fury over Trump pact
Guatemalans say their government was bullied into signing a “safe third country” agreement with the U.S. last week. Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart signed the pact—which requires asylum seekers who pass through Guatemala to seek asylum there instead of in the U.S.—only after President Trump threatened the country with high tariffs, a travel ban, and a tax on U.S. remittances. Now human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas is asking Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to undo the pact, because international law states that any treaty “that has been obtained under threats is null.” Racked with gang violence and poverty, Guatemala is not considered safe. More Guatemalans were detained at the U.S. southern border last year than any other nationality.
8-2-19 Children taken
The Trump administration separated 911 migrant children from their parents over the past year, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union told a federal judge this week, arguing that the actions violate a court order halting Trump’s “zero tolerance” separation policy. Although a judge said in June 2018 that children could still be separated at the U.S.-Mexico border if their parents posed a danger to them, the ACLU claims border officials are exploiting this “loophole” for “unjustified reasons.” In one example, a father was deemed “neglectful” and separated from his sick infant daughter because agents said he did not change the sleeping girl’s wet diaper. Another child was removed because a parent had a 20-year-old misdemeanor conviction. Roughly 20 percent of the new separations affected kids under 5, compared with about 4 percent last year.
8-2-19 Baltimore: Why Trump called it ‘disgusting’ and ‘infested’
Guess who just spent three days sending a torrent of angry, “racist tweets,” said Timothy O’Brien in Bloomberg.com.. Yes, that’s right—it was the President of the United States. Reportedly upset by Rep. Elijah Cummings’ strong criticism of how people are being treated at border detention facilities, President Trump this weekend targeted the 68-year-old African-American chairman of the House Oversight Committee with a “racially charged salvo of alternately bigoted, hostile, and inaccurate insults.” Cummings himself is a “racist,” Trump tweeted without explanation, and his majority-black Maryland district, which includes Baltimore, is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Human beings obviously do live in Baltimore, said Charles Blow in The New York Times, but “rendering nonwhite people as subhuman” is a favorite trope of our blatantly racist president. Before and after he was elected, Trump has repeatedly used the degrading adjective “infested” to describe places where black and brown people live. As with his call for four nonwhite U.S. congresswomen—three of them U.S.-born—to “go back” to their “crime-infested” countries of origin, Trump’s rant against the “disgusting” city of Baltimore reveals how deeply, and sincerely, white supremacy is “fused to his sense of the world.” Oh, please, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. Trump’s visceral “association of African-Americans with crime and filth” isn’t limited to Baltimore. It dates back to his real estate days, when denying apartments to blacks “was the basis of the Trump business model.” More recently, as Michael Cohen testified before Congress, Trump while driving through Chicago remarked that “only the blacks could live like this.” For the first time, we have a U.S. president who routinely enjoys “disparaging parts of his own country” as “disgusting hellholes.” Trump is “not even trying to be everyone’s president,” said Zachary Wolf in CNN.com. Trump’s “whole strategy” for 2020 is to “use race to divide the country” and hope angry whites turn out in sufficient numbers to re-elect him.
8-2-19 Slurs on tape
Ronald Reagan phoned President Nixon in 1971 to vent about African “monkeys” in the United Nations, as heard on tapes recorded by Nixon and revealed this week. Reagan, then the Republican governor of California, was responding to the Tanzanian delegation dancing after the U.N. voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China instead of the U.S.-backed Taiwan. “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan said, drawing a big laugh from Nixon. Nixon then called Secretary of State William Rogers to recap Reagan’s complaint, saying the governor had a “strong feeling” after watching “these cannibals on television.” Nixon’s presidential library acquired his infamous Oval Office tapes, but Reagan’s slurs were withheld, apparently to protect the 40th president’s privacy. Former Nixon library director Tim Naftali persuaded the National Archives to release them. “It was worse than I expected,” he said.
8-2-19 Eric Garner: Chokehold cop 'should be fired', says US judge
A US judge has ruled that a New York police officer should be fired over the death of an unarmed black man whose dying words were "I can't breathe". Policeman Daniel Pantaleo was accused of using a banned police chokehold on Eric Garner in July 2014, after he resisted arrest for selling cigarettes. Mr Pantaleo does not face any criminal charges related to the death, which was caught on mobile phone video. It is now up to the police commissioner to decide whether to fire him. The death of 43-year-old Garner, after he was stopped for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on the street, became a rallying cry for activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. On Friday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that Mr Pantaleo had used a chokehold - which is banned by the police department - despite his repeated denials that the strangle move had not been employed. An NYPD statement after the judge's recommendation was revealed said that Mr Pantaleo has been suspended "effective today, as is the longstanding practice in these matters when the recommendation is termination". A statement from the city's police union blasted the recommendation, calling it "pure political insanity". The judge "trampled" on the officers "due process rights in order to deliver the result that the grandstanding politicians and protesters demanded", wrote Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association. (Webmaster's comment: The officer commits murder and the worst he gets is fired?)
8-2-19 Will populism take root here too?
Trump-style nationalism is coming to Canada, said Meagan Campbell. Maxime Bernier of the right-wing People’s Party of Canada has unveiled a campaign platform for the October parliamentary elections studded with proposals to put Canadians first. Bernier has promised to build a fence along the border with the U.S. to keep out illegal immigrants. He pledges to slash the intake of legal immigrants and refugees to some 150,000 a year, far below the 350,000 target of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party. Bernier says he will also outlaw what he calls “birth tourism”—in which pregnant foreigners give birth in Canada to secure their child citizenship—and require aspiring immigrants to submit to in-person interviews “to assess the extent to which they align with Canadian values.” Bernier is quick to say that his agenda isn’t racist; indeed, he says racists are not welcome in his party. It’s just that “we cannot be the welfare state of the planet,” he insists. Before he revealed his new anti-immigrant proposals this week, Bernier’s libertarian-leaning party was polling at 3 percent, but the new stump speech is bringing shouts of “Amen!” and “Thank you, Maxime!” His pitch is the polar opposite of Trudeau’s slogan, “Diversity is our strength.” Which one will Canadians embrace?
8-2-19 Living on the streets
West Coast cities have booming economies but neighborhoods that are filled with homeless people. Why?
- How bad is it? A tragic paradox is on display in Los Angeles and San Francisco: Their economies are vibrant, and legions of wealthy young professionals spend small fortunes on food, cars, and other consumer goods. Yet in some neighborhoods, people live as if in Third World slums.
- What’s driving the problem? Homelessness is a complex phenomenon with many causes, including mental illness and drug addiction. But the primary factor in California is the skyrocketing cost of housing.
- Are there other factors? The cities’ temperate climates make it possible for people to live outdoors. Spending nights on the street can be nearly impossible during New York City’s cold winters, which helps explain why just 5 percent of the city’s homeless population is unsheltered.
- What is the impact of drug use? Drug abuse can be either a cause or a consequence of homelessness. Some people lose jobs and homes because of addiction, while others land on the street first and become drug abusers to blot out the shame and misery of their lives.
- What can be done? Municipalities already are spending a lot of money on the problem. Private and public organizations in the Seattle metro area spend $1 billion each year fighting homelessness—nearly $88,000 for every homeless person.
- The era of ‘hostile architecture’: Business owners in Los Angeles are adopting aggressive tactics to keep the homeless away from camping out near their front doors. Some are putting large arrays of cactus plants, thorny rosebushes, and even metal spikes on the sidewalks.
8-2-19 How to survive a tornado
- Find shelter. If you’re on the road, don’t just pull over. Seek out a sturdy building.
- Forget the windows. You can’t save a house in the path of a tornado by opening doors and windows. That only makes you more vulnerable to flying debris. Instead, retreat to the basement or the center of the first floor. Interior walls add shielding.
- Skip the overpass. Parking under an overpass is a popular move that can actually heighten risk because the overpass can create a wind tunnel. Some motorists leave their cars to climb into ditches, but the car is probably safer. Choose a ditch only if you have no shelter.
- Don’t just stop. Tornadoes travel only up to 70 mph, so you can outrun it on a highway when you know its direction. If winds get too strong, though, pull over, keep seat belts fastened, leave the car running so air bags can deploy, then get low to avoid flying debris.
8-2-19 Stock markets drop on new Trump China tariffs
US stock markets have fallen for a second day following a decision by Donald Trump to impose new tariffs on a further $300bn of Chinese imports. The three main US indexes all dropped in opening trade, following sharp falls in Europe and Asia. The US President's move came after the latest round of bilateral talks showed little sign of a breakthrough. The 10% tariffs, due to take effect on 1 September, effectively tax all Chinese imports to the US. In the US, the Nasdaq index was the biggest faller in early trade, down 0.8%. The technology companies listed on the index are seen as particularly vulnerable to tariffs on Chinese goods because many source components from China or produce their there. The US indexes had already fallen sharply on Thursday when Mr Trump made the surprise announcement, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a further 0.5% in early trade on Friday while the S&P 500 dropped 0.4%. In Europe, the UK's FTSE 100 index was down 1.8%, Germany's Dax index dropped 2.3% and the Cac 40 in France fell 2.4%. Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei index had fallen more than 2%. The tariffs are likely to target a wide range of goods, from smartphones to clothing. A spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry warned the country would retaliate against the US for imposing duties. "If the US implements the tariff measures, China will have to take necessary counter-measures to resolutely defend the core interests of the country and its people."
8-2-19 Ronald Reagan: No defence for 'monkeys' remark, says daughter
The daughter of the late former US President Ronald Reagan has said there is "no defence" for racist comments he made in a 1971 phone conversation. Newly unearthed tapes reveal Reagan - then Governor of California - described UN African delegates as "monkeys". His daughter Patti Davis condemned the remarks in a newspaper article. "There is no defence, no rationalisation, no suitable explanation for what my father said," she wrote. Ms Davis wrote in an article for the Washington Post that she was preparing to defend her father before she heard the tapes, but was appalled to hear what the former president said. "I can't tell you about the man who was on the phone," she writes. "He's not a man I knew." The recently unearthed recordings first appeared in The Atlantic. Reagan made the comments in a conversation with then-President Richard Nixon. He was referring to Tanzanian delegates at the UN, who had just sided against the US in a vote to recognise China and expel Taiwan. Reagan - a supporter of Taiwan - called the president the next day, telling him: "To see those... monkeys from those African countries - damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!" Nixon can be heard laughing loudly after the comments. Patti Davis said the tapes shocked her. "I wanted to immediately go back in time to before I heard my father's voice saying those words." Her father, she wrote, stood up against segregation when he played football in college and later on when he was in office, when given membership to "a ritzy country club in Los Angeles". "He turned it down because the club didn't allow Jews or African Americans." Regardless, she wrote that the words she heard "will stay with me forever", and said her father if alive "would have asked for forgiveness" if he had heard the recording.
8-1-19 Trump's former top adviser: tariffs backfiring on US
US President Donald Trump's trade war with China is backfiring and impacting the US economy, according to his former chief economic adviser. The tariff battle has had a "dramatic impact" on US manufacturing and capital investment, Gary Cohn told Radio 4's Today programme. The trade war was "a very convenient excuse" for China to slow down its overheated economy, he added. Mr Cohn, a free trade advocate, resigned from the Trump administration in March 2018. The 59-year-old former president of Goldman Sachs bank was an unusual hire for Mr Trump because he was a Democrat in a Republican administration. He also focused on economic internationalism, while the president was set on economic nationalism. Mr Cohn served as director of the National Economic Council in the Trump administration from January 2017 to April 2018, announcing he was resigning after Mr Trump decided to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminium. "I think the Chinese economy is driven by credit and credit availability," Mr Cohn told the BBC's Today programme. "Credit and credit availability is determined by the central government. And they can turn it on and they can turn credit off.""I think the Chinese economy was going to slow down with or without a trade war," Mr Cohn said. The idea that tariffs would solve trade imbalances between the US and China was a "long-time view" of Mr Trump's, Mr Cohn added.