April 2016 Archives

No Word For It

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You lose a spouse you're a widow or widower, what are you when you lose a child.

Rational Gun Control Talk

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from the Vine

culheath #70.2

In reply to: Borderlands #70

Great post...very well stated. Let me take issue with your last paragraph

"We do not have a gun problem in this country. "

I believe we DO have a gun problem and that is that there are simply too many firearms in the hands of incompetent and illegal owners. Chicago is the go to example of how banning guns does not wok. The reason it does not work is because there such lax laws in neighboring states and the guns are simply shipped in and sold for high profit. I suggest we make transporting across state lines without the proper paper work from dealer and purchaser a serious offense with a life sentence without parole penalty or even death. That wouldn't of course stop some people but it certainly would raise the cost of selling such illegal weapons sky high.

Follow that with a sweep of the highest crimes areas and confiscate every non-registered weapon found.

Also we need a national or at least state level gun registry. What does any legitimate owner have to fear from that?

"We have a mental illness, criminal element problem in this country."

I agree - and part of that mental illness includes paranoids who immediately assume a gun registry means "the government is coming to confiscate out guns".

Or that it is necessary to conceal carry all the time, everywhere. That falls under classic paranoid psychosis and that means that many people with such an attitude are already primed to defend themselves even in situations where they have misinterpreted the reality...like LEOs who overreact when misinterpreting the actions of a suspect reaching for something. It does happen. Look at Zimmerman's interpretation of what Martin was carrying in his hands that fateful night.

If we can reduce even part of the accidental and unwarranted deaths by firearms the technology of smart guns (once the tech is ready) is worth it, don't you think?

Borderlands #70.3

In reply to: culheath #70.2

Absolutely. I believe integrating smart gun technology will save lives. It will not solve most of our gun violence problems of the day but if it saves a child life is it worth it? Of course it is! And I would agree with you that there are simply too many firearms in circulation that are in the wrong hands. I'm not sure that's the guns problem however. Like you said it's the paranoid, delusional firearm owners that think everybody is out to get them to the highly mentally unstable mass shooters like the Adam Lanza's or James Holmes as well as the massive out of control criminal element we have here in our country that goes unchecked transferring and buying untraceable firearms made in countries like the Philippines. Too many of these people gaining access to firearms regardless how many gun control laws we have on the books. Tactics need to change. Attitudes and perception needs to change. The simple idea that buying a firearm makes you safer needs to change. It takes a while to become highly proficient with a firearm whether it be for defense or hunting or sport. The idea that you can pull up a firearm from a menu in a video game that allows you to proceed to murder dozens of other players for points and bragging rights is fun, but shouldn't be seen as "cool". There's this perception barrier for some people that if you outfit your firearm to look like something out of CoD you're going to be that much more prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse that is just right around the corner. I can bet that I am far more dangerous and efficient with a bolt action .308 than some untrained nutjob that spent 6k on their AR to outfit it with additions which half they wouldn't even know how to properly operate. Not saying I don't own an AR tactical platform myself, just saying there are far too many Americans who do and probably hit the range only a few times a year.

Firearms are not cool, they should not be the "go to" choice for daily conflict resolution. Firearms are a tool, they are a weapon and should be respected and approached with the mentality that if you chose to own one, you chose to become a shield for your fellow citizens. By owning one you are saying you are ready to lay your life down for your family and for strangers at a drop of a dime. That was the mentality of warriors when they picked up the sword. Firearms are nothing more than modern day swords. I'm not sure how we got so disconnected to the idea that once you pick up a lethal weapon you are making a life changing decision and you should accept the huge responsibilities that come along with it. If you cannot, put the fuc*ing sword down.

Boehner: Cruz is Satan

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What's the opposite of endorsement again?

Former Speaker Boehner Calls Cruz 'Lucifer in the Flesh'

by Carrie Dann

John Boehner is not a big fan of Ted Cruz.

john.boehne6.jpgSo much so, in fact, that the former Republican House Speaker told an audience at Stanford University Wednesday that the Texas senator is "Lucifer in the flesh" and a "miserable son of a bitch."
Asked about the 2016 presidential candidate at a forum hosted by Stanford in Government (SIG) and the Stanford Speakers Bureau, Boehner drew laughter for making a face of disgust, according to the Stanford Daily.

"Lucifer in the flesh," Boehner said, according to the paper. "I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."

It Was 40 Yrs Ago Today

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40 years ago I wrote this for Lane Hunt::

Funny BecauseTrue

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Amy Schumer's Pap-Smear Skit Shows Clueless 'Congressmen' Meddling in Women's Health Issues

As a group of older "congressmen" gather around the comedian's "vagina-y parts," Amy Schumer's brilliant sketch illustrates just how absurd, sexist and outdated politician's interventions in women's health are.

Gots to luv them bigots

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Sign of the Times

Bigots in North Carolina will get a huge surprise the next time they cross over the North Carolina, South Carolina border.

Planting Peace, the nonprofit organization behind the rainbow-colored Equality House, just posted this billboard near Hendersonville, North Carolina, perfectly calling out the state's blatant anti-LGBT politics following the recently passed House Bill 2.


And not to be outdone, here's Mississippi's entry into the


But best of all is this

Pick Up One Piece of Litter

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When Doves Cry

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Purple Reign

Orchid Mantis

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It's an orchid. It's a mantis. It's incredible -- and deadly.

Julie Leibach


Orchid mantises -- particularly juveniles -- seem aptly named.

They're predominantly white with pink or yellow accents, similar to some orchids and other flowers, and their four hind legs are lobed, like petals. But if you search for an exact floral counterpart, as behavioral ecologist James O'Hanlon did, you probably won't find one. "I spent forever looking for a flower that they look just like," he says. No luck.

As it turns out, rather than mimicking one floral species, the insect instead may embody a "generic or an average type of flower" in order to attract bees and other pollinating insects as prey.

What's more, as far as O'Hanlon can tell, it's the only animal on record that "takes on the guise of a whole flower blossom" as a predatory strategy, he wrote in a brief orchid mantis guide, appearing this past February in Current Biology. (As mantises mature, they appear -- at least to humans -- less like flowers, because their long wings extend over the thorax and abdomen, covering their legs).


Tubman on $20?

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Harriet Tubman to Replace Former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

by Halimah Abdullah

Harriet_Tubman.jpgTreasury Secretary Jack Lew will announce Wednesday that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

The long-awaited decision keeps Alexander Hamilton, one of the U.S. founding fathers, on the front of the $10 bill -- though suffragists who fought to give women the right to vote will be added to the back of the bill, the Treasury Department confirmed.

Last year, the U.S. Treasury surprised advocates who were pressing to get a woman on the $20 bill, by announcing a woman would go on the redesigned $10 bill, instead. That plan met with criticism by those who pushed for Jackson to be replaced instead.

Hamilton, who has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to a hit Broadway production, helped create the Treasury.

Tubman is famous for helping lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

The Economy of Terrorism

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Kill Them...Kill Them All

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No... seriously.

Hurrah for Trudeau

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Religion: Good and Evil

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"With or without religion, good men will do good things and evil men will do evil things, but for good men to do evil things, that takes religion"...Steven Weinberg....

Lose Your Religion, Save the World

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Arab Youth View Islamic State as Major Mideast Obstacle, Want Less Religion


This post originally ran on Truthdig contributor Juan Cole's website.

The annual Arab Youth survey conducted by pollsters Burson-Marsteller is out, reporting on 3500 interviews with Arabs 18-24 years of age in 16 countries.

Arab youth think there is too much religion in public life. Only 29% actively disagree with this sentiment. This finding tracks with the findings I reported from Pew- that the Arab Millennials are generally somewhat less observant than their parents, and in the generation gap on this issue is particularly large in Tunisia and Lebanon. Interestingly, the youth of the conservative Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman) feel more strongly against religion in public life than do Levantines and North Africans (though in N. Africa twice as many people feel there is too much religion in public life as demur.)

The single biggest obstacle these youth see to a more successful Middle East is Daesh (ISIS, ISIL)! Indeed, nearly 4 in 5 said that they were concerned about its rise. Not only does the phony caliphate attract almost no support but 80% said they wouldn't favor it even if it gave up its violence and gory spectacles. In accordance with this negative attitude toward Daesh, a plurality of the youth identified terrorism as the second biggest obstacle the region faces.

My book was widely and very positively reviewed. But one downside of coming out in July, 2014, three weeks after the fall of Mosul to Daesh, was that reviewers wanted to know why there was nothing about Daesh in it. But it was about secular-minded youth in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and that was before Daesh got a toehold in Sirte and before some radicals in the Sinai franchised themselves as Daesh. The New York Review of Books actually put a picture of Daesh fighter on the page where my book was discussed. My book was about liberal and leftist youth in a different part of the Middle East.

I was upset. Because the Daesh narrative is a relatively minor phenomenon in the region and a flash in the pan, but the generation of young Arabs I studied has already done great things and is poised to do more, and it is relatively secular-minded.

In this survey, the youth are cynical about Daesh. The leading explanation they gave for its rise is unemployment.

They are worried about rising sectarianism. And, they are more concerned with stability than regular elections. Except in Egypt, they have a certain amount of buyers' remorse for how their revolutions have turned out.

And they're worried about youth unemployment. Less than half think good jobs are available to them in their area.

But they also think Daesh is a reaction against Western military dominance in the region (i.e. a reaction against humiliation). if you put together US troop presence in the region, the US invasion of Iraq, and the Israeli troop presence in the region, about a third of respondents felt foreign military occupation provoked the advent of Daesh.

The youth see Saudi Arabia and the United States as their countries' most important allies. Other allies are the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and France. France has come up in their esteem as an ally during the past year, displacing Kuwait from fifth place.

For Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian youth, Iran is seen as a major ally. This sentiment is regional- confined to the Fertile Crescent. In contrast, most other Arabs see Iran as an enemy.

The general sentiment that the US is an ally is not found in Iraq. Nine in ten Iraqi youth see the United States as an enemy.

Mission accomplished!

Overwhelming majorities of youth want their national leaders to expand personal freedom and human rights for women. This sentiment is at 90% of respondents in Saudi Arabia.

So, not only are these youth dead set against Daesh but they have a feminist side


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Let's cut out all the shit propaganda and buzzwords.

I will ignore here additional and significant impact of moral hazard driven appalling behavior of gambling banksters that brought the ZIRP and NIRP in and focus on what it means for mainstream economy instead.

In order to answer this, one must first understand the purpose of interest rates in a capitalistic system, although this is not the economic system that we have in the US.

The interest rate, (preferably set by a market operations but in fact is highly manipulated by FED) is a cost of capital for those who want to invest it in mainstream economy in order to tap to pent-up demand supported by income of the population in different time scales. (1 yr, 2yr, 5yr, 10yr, 30yr, etc.) in the future.

Before we go any further let's define what I mean by income. I mean wage earnings, profit from mainstream economic activity, other remittances (alimony, SS etc.,) and consumer credit used/per unit of time while net income is the income minus periodic amount of obligation to pay debt/per unit of time.

I do not use a total income which would include wage earnings, profit from mainstream economic activity, other remittances, total credit used and incomes from rents, leases, retirement funds, stocks, bonds sale and other financial activity, since they are concentrated at top 5% of the income brackets and they are not immediately realizable as disposable income.

This is because an increase of income of the rich, in a society of Banana republic-like extreme inequality i.e. US society, does not translate into increased aggregated demand for mainstream economy products and services but instead boosts financial investment vehicles and marginally stimulates luxury goods demand mostly foreign.

Hence positive interest rates requires overall growth of the mainstream economy sans financial sector but mostly it requires growth of the net income of majority of people funneled into artificially or naturally instigated demand.

For about forty years now, we have income stagnation. For first 30 years, we had net income positive (people were earning less but over-leveraging with debt, pushing real GDP slightly up) and net-income negative (deleveraging) for about last 10 years pushing real GDP down.

The manipulation of official GDP numbers hides those facts but reasonable assessment of national product adjusted for real inflation indicates that US entered depression about 10 years ago and it continues. Hence desperate, ridiculous, goal seeking attempts to explain quarterly negative GDP reads by weather, or national events when heavily skewed, heuristic adjustments and changing rules stubbornly refuse to give desired results.

This is a devastating debt effect on the mainstream economy (ignored by business media) due to negative net-income growth i.e. decline of net-income and collapse of total income while financial markets volatility skyrocketed and hence collapse of total demand, although gadgetry (computer appliances) slowed the process a little for a while.

As a response to secular decline with negative outlook of overall growth of economic activity, price of the capital had to be adjusted to the negative growth (decline) of the mainstream economy and hence negative rates for deployment of capital in the future.

The FED's frantic ZIRP policies were not only concocted to save the banksters from self-annihilation, but to respond to, now global, secular mainstream economic decline.

The NIRP policy, in addition to bailing out the gambling oligarchs, is just a continuation of ZIRP and admission of the projection of long term economic collapse, and massive shrinking of US economy and associated pauperization of the society and associated dramatic fall down of standard of living of 99% of Americans in next several decades or permanently.

The clueless FED academics, serfs of Wall Street oligarchy pushing propaganda ZIRP/NIRP and monetary easing i.e. shoving money down the throats of their cronies in an absurd and futile attempt of enticing investments into dead and decaying US mainstream economy and recently global economy for that matter, with consumer base income obliterated by programmatic theft of US national treasury, defrauding American people and working people all over the world.

This is exactly this income/demand collapse that destroys global trade and global commodity demand we are experiencing now.

The NIRP means that we are doomed, US economy and global economy is not coming back and perhaps never will. The NIRP means total capitulation regarding future of the mainstream economy, it means giving up on American working people, their families and communities.

The FED erratic, nervous, incoherent, volatility instigating moves are deliberately furthering misery of US and world population as well as Oligarchs plans for human extermination when economy shrinks beyond its ability to sustain current population growth. Longevity among men in the US as well as in many other countries is in collapse for about 20 years now and it is getting worse.

In other words the privately owned FED, as I pointed out of this page few times already, is not setting any policies that are even remotely related to employment or inflation in mainstream economy, but reactively spewing public with abhorrent propaganda that insinuates millions of people to move their mostly retirement savings assets into loosing bets solely for the purpose of bailing out their shareholders (also via fees on capital flows) i.e. crony banksters and finance their wars for profit, This did not start in 2008 but has always been, one way or another, the mission of the FED.

Unless worldwide revolution against global oligarchy occurs, this process of collapse of mainstream economy will destroy last vestiges of capitalism and as evidences show already , will transform US into a digital age, 21st century, neo-feudal economic system of monopoly run by a class of rent-seeking oligarchs and courtiers of ruling elite extorting last drop of value from sweat, blood and tears of pauperized American serfs. Brace yourselves because this new old system it is already here.

The U.S. Military--What a Waste

By William D. Hartung / TomDispatch

blimp.jpgFrom spending $150 million on private villas for a handful of personnel in Afghanistan to blowing $2.7 billion on an air surveillance balloon that doesn't work, the latest revelations of waste at the Pentagon are just the most recent howlers in a long line of similar stories stretching back at least five decades.  Other hot-off-the-presses examples would include the Army's purchase of helicopter gears worth $500 each for $8,000 each and the accumulation of billions of dollars' worth of weapons components that will never be used. And then there's the one that would have to be everyone's favorite Pentagon waste story: the spending of $50,000 to investigate the bomb-detecting capabilities of African elephants. (And here's a shock: they didn't turn out to be that great!) The elephant research, of course, represents chump change in the Pentagon's wastage sweepstakes and in the context of its $600-billion-plus budget, but think of it as indicative of the absurd lengths the Department of Defense will go to when what's at stake is throwing away taxpayer dollars.

Keep in mind that the above examples are just the tip of the tip of a titanic iceberg of military waste.  In a recent report I did for the Center for International Policy, I identified 27 recent examples of such wasteful spending totaling over $33 billion.  And that was no more than a sampling of everyday life in the twenty-first-century world of the Pentagon.

The staggering persistence and profusion of such cases suggests that it's time to rethink what exactly they represent.  Far from being aberrations in need of correction to make the Pentagon run more efficiently, wasting vast sums of taxpayer dollars should be seen as a way of life for the Department of Defense.  And with that in mind, let's take a little tour through the highlights of Pentagon waste from the 1960s to the present.

How Many States Can You Lose Jobs In?

The first person to bring widespread public attention to the size and scope of the problem of Pentagon waste was Ernest Fitzgerald, an Air Force deputy for management systems.  In the late 1960s, he battled that service to bring to light massive cost overruns on Lockheed's C-5A transport plane.  He risked his job, and was ultimately fired, for uncovering $2 billion in excess expenditures on a plane that was supposed to make the rapid deployment of large quantities of military equipment to Vietnam and other distant conflicts a reality.

The cost increase on the C-5A was twice the price Lockheed had initially promised, and at the time one of the largest cost overruns ever exposed.  It was also an episode of special interest then, because Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had been pledging to bring the efficient business methods he had learned as Ford Motors' president to bear on the Pentagon's budgeting process.

No such luck, as it turned out, but Fitzgerald's revelations did, at least, spark a decade of media and congressional scrutiny of the business practices of the weapons industry.  The C-5A fiasco, combined with Lockheed's financial troubles with its L-1011 airliner project, led the company to approach Congress, hat in hand, for a $250 million government bailout.  Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, who had helped bring attention to the C-5A overruns, vigorously opposed the measure, and came within one vote of defeating it in the Senate.

In a time-tested lobbying technique that has been used by weapons makers ever since, Lockheed claimed that denying it loan guarantees would cost 34,000 jobs in 35 states, while undermining the Pentagon's ability to prepare for the next war, whatever it might be.  The tactic worked like a charm.  Montana Senator Lee Metcalf, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the bailout, said, "I'm not going to be the one to put those thousands of people out of work."  An analysis by the New York Times found that every senator with a Lockheed-related plant in his or her state voted for the deal.

By rewarding Lockheed Martin for its wasteful practices, Congress set a precedent that has never been superseded.  A present-day case in point is--speak of the devil--Lockheed Martin's F-35 combat aircraft.  At $1.4 trillion in procurement and operating costs over its lifetime, it will be the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Pentagon (or anyone else on Planet Earth), and the warning signs are already in: tens of billions of dollars in projected cost overruns and myriad performance problems before the F-35 is even out of its testing phase.  Now the Pentagon wants to rush the plane into production by making a "block buy" of more than 400 planes that will involve little or no accountability regarding the quality and cost of the final product.

Predictably, almost five decades after the C-5A contretemps, Lockheed Martin has deployed an inflationary version of the jobs argument in defense of the F-35, making the wildly exaggerated claim that the plane will produce 125,000 jobs in 46 states.  The company has even created a handy interactive map to show how many jobs the program will allegedly create state by state.  Never mind the fact that weapons spending is the least efficient way to create jobs, lagging far behind investment in housing, education, or infrastructure. 

Rest of article

The GOP Is Dead

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By Mr. Fish


Newsvine comment of the day #22

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Brad Benson Queequeg

Okay, here we go again with another psycho-babble analysis of 'Americans' as if the most diverse population on the globe is a homogenous group of non-thinking, programmed robots that share the same opinion on every subject; that lack the sophistication of all other peoples of the world; and have never made a single positive contribution to culture, cuisine or progress.

We have had this discussion before and the same fallacies that existed in your previous anti-American Screeds will not be reiterated here, since they can be found and reviewed in your archive or mine. However, your post above and our rare agreement upon some now forgotten subject from yesterday, tells me that you are brighter and better educated than I had at first imagined.

Therefore, let me begin today by declaring that I come in peace and merely wish to discuss the illogical implications of why a learned, articulate person such as yourself would denigrate a whole populace as one. But, let me take this one step at a time.

From my reading of your post above, our previous discussion regarding linguistic abilities and the fact that we determined that you were not German and probably not European, let me assume that you are South American. If not, you can correct me as necessary, however that would not change the basic thrust of the following questions.

1. Is your profound distaste for Americans based primarily and solely upon your knowledge, experience and understanding of those Americans more commonly called "Gringos" (i.e., those Americans who have exploited the peoples of Central and South America for several hundred years)?

2. Have you ever lived in the United States for any period of time and, if so, for how long and in what parts of the country? If not, have you ever visited the US in any capacity that would have given you some grounds for your overall poor assessment of 'Americans' as an homogenous group? In other words, have you actually ever "run with the herd"?

If your answer to Question 1 above is yes, then my response would be that it is totally unfair to judge us as a people based upon the actions of the "Economic Hit-men" and military incursions of a government, which has never been under control, since its inception.

Further, prior to the advent of the Internet, most people had very little access to accurate information about any other place but home and what their local papers and media told them. Finally, I would suggest that the process of un-learning what one has been taught is the secret to real knowledge and this can only come with age and experience, regardless of cultural background.

If your answer to any part of Question 2 above is yes, then my response would be that your assessment of Americans would have been largely affected by which area(s) of the US you inhabited or visited; the nature of the physical location (e.g., urban, rural, rich, poor, local history and ancestry); and upon the daily interactions, habits, conditions and moods of the assessor.

In view of your enlightened dissertations on so many philosophical concepts, I am sure you might concede that the conditions described above are circumstantial and cannot logically be construed as scientific. Therefore, it must also be true that you realize that your harsh assessments toward Americans as a group largely detract from your otherwise logical posts.

Finally, since you sometimes quote Vaclev Havel, I'll respond with some very logical words from Scottish Poet Robert Browning, whose poem, "To a Louse", contained the following wisdom: "O wad some Power the giftie gie us -- To see oursels as ithers see us!"

Putting aside philosophical arguments, I want to add that many Americans were born here. Many others, like my naturalized Colombian Girlfriend, were sent here to find a better life. Still others, like her parents and sisters, were able to come here of their own volition to find a better life. I can tell you that all of them think I'm crazy for criticizing the country of my birth. Think about it! When you speak of all of us as one, you miss the whole point of this frapping melting pot.

None of us can undo their association with the crimes of their forefathers, regardless of heritage. Nor do any of us have any real control over the current leadership of the country in which we live.

Fools around the globe believe in the illusion of 'democracy', justice and 'the rule of law'. Others are blinded by whatever 'patriotism' means in their particular land of origin. Every country has its fair share of poorly educated or 'dumb' people, but any enlightened assessment of these indigenous populations would always be governed by local conditions.

Therefore, in view of all of the above, I hope that you will tone down the anti-American rhetoric. It is never an enhancement to your argument.

Mississippi Turning

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It's almost as though conservative Christians are determined to make people despise their religion.

Why Mississippi's New Anti-LGBT Law Is the Most Dangerous One To Be Passed Yet

The law doesn't protect religious belief. It protects bigots who discriminate against LGBT people--and zealots who place their religion above the law.

By Katherine Stewart

this is religion.jpg

On Tuesday morning, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law HB 1523--the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act"--one of the most sweeping of the nation's "religious liberty" bills that are making the rounds in numerous red-state capitals this year. In the press they are often referred to as "anti-LGBT bills," because they would give legal cover to those who want to discriminate against LGBT people out of "sincerely held religious belief." Critics such as Ben Needham, director of Human Rights Campaign's Project One America, has said the measure is "probably the worst religious freedom bill to date." But there is an even more radical agenda behind these bills, and the atrocious attempt to deprive LGBT Americans of their rights is only a part of it.

According to State Senator Jennifer Branning, one of the Mississippi law's original backers, the real victims of the story are not the LGBT couples denied services but people "who cannot in good conscience provide services for a same-sex marriage." These are the true targets of discrimination, and we are invited to sympathize with the proverbial florist who balks at providing flowers at a gay wedding or the restaurant owner who refuses to serve a same-sex couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. But the text of the law also specifically protects the "sincerely held religious belief" that "sexual relations are properly reserved to" a marriage between a woman and a man. So if you are religiously opposed to other people having non-marital sex, this could be the law for you.

It is also inaccurate to think that this law is just about those who wish to refuse to perform a service. One of the more disconcerting sections of the law is that which discusses people who provide foster-care services. The government, we are told, will no longer be allowed to take action against any foster parent that "guides, instructs, or raises a child...in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief." If you want to know what that could mean, check out Focus on the Family's "spare the rod" philosophy of child rearing. On its website, the religious-right advocacy group offers handy tips on "the Biblical Approach to Spanking."

If the point were only to spare the fine moral sentiments of a few florists, why would the law's sponsors seek such a wide-ranging exemption from the laws and norms that apply to the rest of society? A helpful clue can be found in a letter that the American Family Association sent out in support of the Mississippi bill before it was passed. (The AFA has been named a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2010.) The bill, said the AFA, is crucial because it protects the AFA, and groups like it, from the "governmental threat of losing their tax exempt status."

There is a revealing irony in that statement. Tax exemption is a kind of gift from the government, a privilege. It is an indirect way of funneling money from taxpayers to groups that engage in certain kinds of activities (like charity work or nonprofit education)--and not other kinds of activities (like political activism). The AFA is right to worry about the governmental threat to their governmental subsidy. As our society views the kinds of activities they endorse with increasing skepticism, the justification for continued subsidies and privileges from the government will diminish.

The Decline in Marriage?

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Marriage Is Declining Because Men Are Pigs

By Kevin Drum

weddingrings.jpgThe seeming decline of marriage includes one major caveat: educated elites. When it comes to marriage, divorce, and single motherhood, the 1950s never ended for college-educated Americans, and for college-educated women in particular....The share of young college-graduate white women who were married in 2010 was a little over 70 percent--almost exactly the same as it was in 1950.

....It's also seemingly only Americans with four-year degrees or better who appear immune to the broader cultural and social forces eroding marriage. In 1950, white women with "some college," such as an associate's degree, were actually more likely to be married than their better-educated sisters. Today, it's the opposite. Though women with a high school diploma or less have seen the sharpest drop in marriage rates, the decline has been almost as severe--and ongoing--for women just one short rung down the education ladder, regardless of race.

Why has marriage declined in America? Here's my dorm room bull theory: it's because men are pigs.

I know, I know: #NotAllMen blah blah blah. That said, let's unpack this a bit. Basically, an awful lot of men are--and always have been--volatile and unreliable. They drink, they get abusive, and they do stupid stuff. They're bad with money, they don't help with the kids, and they don't help around the house. They demand subservience. They demand sex. And even on the one dimension they're supposedly good for--being breadwinners--they frequently tend to screw up and get fired.

In other words, marriage has been a bad deal for women pretty much forever. But they've been forced into it by cultural mores and economic imperatives, and that's the only reason it's been nearly universal in the past.

Nothing has changed much about that. It's still a bad deal for an awful lot of women, but cultural mores and economic imperatives have changed, and that means more women can afford to do what's right for themselves and stay unmarried these days.

But there's one exception to this: the college educated. Well-educated men are fairly reliable; they have good earning power; they generally aren't abusive; and they've been willing--slowly but steadily--to change their habits and help out with kids and housework. For college-educated women, then, marriage is a relatively good deal. For everyone else, not so much.

And that's why marriage is declining among all groups except the college educated. For an awful lot of women, it's just a lousy deal. They're tired of putting up with all the crap they get from men, and so they're opting out. They'll opt back in when men start to pull their own weight. There's no telling when that's going to start happening.

SpaceX Historic Success

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Debunking the Tiger Mom Theory

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How Not to Explain Success

Christopher Charbris and Joshua Hart

deflating books.jpg

DO you remember the controversy two years ago, when the Yale law professors Amy Chua (author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother") and Jed Rubenfeld published "The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America"?

We sure do. As psychologists, we found the book intriguing, because its topic -- why some people succeed and others don't -- has long been a basic research question in social science, and its authors were advancing a novel argument. They contended that certain ethnic and religious minority groups (among them, Cubans, Jews and Indians) had achieved disproportionate success in America because their individual members possessed a combination of three specific traits: a belief that their group was inherently superior to others; a sense of personal insecurity; and a high degree of impulse control.

But we also found the book frustrating. Though it contained page after page of stories about successful people and anecdotes (or stereotypes) about different groups' supposedly success-driving habits and practices (e.g., Chinese parents make their children study hard), it offered no rigorous quantitative evidence to support its theory. This, of course, didn't stop people from attacking or defending the book. But it meant that the debate consisted largely of arguments based on circumstantial evidence.

Rather than join the fray when the topic was hot but nobody seemed to have anything definitive to say, we took the time to empirically test the triple package hypothesis directly. Our results have just been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. We found scant evidence for Professors Chua and Rubenfeld's theory.

We conducted two online surveys of a total of 1,258 adults in the United States. Each participant completed a variety of standard questionnaires to measure his or her impulsiveness, ethnocentrism and personal insecurity. (Professors Chua and Rubenfeld describe insecurity as "a goading anxiety about oneself and one's place in society." Since this concept was the most complex and counterintuitive element of their theory, we measured it several different ways, each of which captured a slightly different aspect.)

Next, the participants completed a test of their cognitive abilities. Then they reported their income, occupation, education and other achievements, such as receiving artistic, athletic or leadership awards, all of which we combined to give each person a single score for overall success. Finally, our participants indicated their age, sex and parents' levels of education.


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What an incredible amount of work.

To avoid ransomware attacks it is essential that you use the security patch.

The potential attack in question is known as "ransomware," increasingly sophisticated software that can maliciously encrypt and disable everything on a computer until the owner forks over a ransom to the hackers who unleashed the code. Such ransoms can amount to hundreds of dollars.

Adobe said it was aware of reports that such an attack "is being actively exploited on systems running Windows 10 and earlier with Flash Player version and earlier." The company urged people to install the latest Flash player as soon as possible.

If you're running the Chrome browser, Internet Explorer for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 or the Edge browser on Windows 10, you'll be updated to the latest version of automatically.

Security threats surrounding Flash are nothing new; Steve Jobs famously went on a rant against Flash way back in 2010. But while the software, which helps run videos and animations on the Internet, may not be as dominant at is once was, Flash is still used by more than 1 billion people.

Panama Paper Trails...Oops

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The Panama Papers' Sprawling Web of Corruption

panamapapers.jpgThe first reaction to the leaked documents dubbed the Panama Papers is simply awe at the scope of the trove and the ingenuity of the anonymous source who provided the press with 11.5 million documents -- 2.6 terabytes of data -- revealing in extraordinary detail how offshore bank accounts and tax havens are used by the world's rich and powerful to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.

Then comes the disgust. With more than 14,000 clients around the world and more than 214,000 offshore entities involved, Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm whose internal documents were exposed, piously insists it violated no laws or ethics. But the questions remain: How did all these politicians, dictators, criminals, billionaires and celebrities amass vast wealth and then benefit from elaborate webs of shell companies to disguise their identities and their assets? Would there have been no reckoning had the leak not occurred?

And then the core question: After these revelations, will anything change? Many formal denials and pledges of official investigations have been made. But to what degree do the law and public shaming still have dominion over this global elite? A public scarred by repeated revelations of corruption in government, sports and finance will demand to know.

It took scores of reporters convened by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the recipient of the leaked cache, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with whom it shared the data, more than a year to sort through the information, and it will take governments, commissions and prosecutors a long time to determine what laws have been violated, what taxes have been avoided and what remedial steps must be taken.

The fallout from the revelations has already begun. The prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, linked in the papers to a secret account, on Tuesday became the first public official forced to resign. Britain and Germany, among others, have announced that they are investigating whether citizens named in the papers avoided paying taxes. Americans do not figure prominently in the data trove, though that should not excuse the United States government from joining in a thorough investigation.

Offshore banking is not in itself illegal, and not all those named should be presumed to have done wrong. But it is clear that the secrecy of the sort Swiss banks formerly provided and now lawyers in Panama offer is a magnet for ill-gotten fortunes and tax evaders.

The papers chronicle a global industry developed to enable an international elite enriched by corrupt or illegal means to conceal its wealth and dealings from taxation, prosecution and public wrath. They expose the questionable riches that public officials have concealed, whether in Iceland, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia have already clamped down on the media for shining an unwelcome light on the shady financial dealings of their cronies and family members.

Above all, the Panama Papers reveal an industry that flourishes in the gaps and holes of international finance. They make clear that policing offshore banking and tax havens and the rogues who use them cannot be done by any one country alone.

Lost tax revenue is one consequence of this hidden system; even more dangerous is its deep damage to democratic rule and regional stability when corrupt politicians have a place to stash stolen national assets out of public view.

Tesla Model 3 Break Out

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Tesla Says Model 3 Orders Top $10 Billion in First 36 Hours

Tesla Motors said orders for its new Model 3 electric sedan topped 253,000 in the first 36 hours -- a fast start for the company's first mass-market vehicle, which may not begin to reach customers for another 18 months or more.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that the Model 3, which is slated to go into production in late 2017, will sell at an average price of $42,000, including the price of options and additional features, which would give the initial flurry of orders an estimated retail value of $10.6 billion.

That intense interest, fanned in part by a steady stream of tweets by Musk, could help boost Tesla's stock price, which closed Friday at $237.59, up 3.4 percent. The stock has soared more than 60 percent since hitting a 12-month low in February.

The car's average selling price projected by Musk is well above the $35,000 base price. Analysts earlier had estimated the first Model 3s off the factory line in Fremont, California, could be loaded with extra equipment and sell for $50,000 to$60,000.

Tesla has undertaken a costly expansion of the Fremont plant, aiming to boost annual capacity to 500,000 by 2020, with production of the Model 3, the company's first mass-market car, ramping up slowly through 2019.

Some analysts said the company could have trouble filling all the initial Model 3 orders, which are accompanied by a refundable $1,000 deposit, until 2020.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson on Friday said the heavy influx of Model 3 orders "sets the stage for an equity offering" later this year by Tesla, much of which would go toward factory construction and product development.

Johnson had estimated Tesla could take 250,000-300,000 orders for the car by the end of June.

Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model 3, a smaller companion to the Model S sedan and Model X utility vehicle, amid considerable fanfare on Thursday night.

Some prospective buyers who placed early orders may have anticipated paying a lower price for the Model 3 after factoring in a $7,500 federal tax credit on electric cars. But that credit begins to phase out once manufacturers sell more than 200,000 EVs - a mark that Tesla, at its current sales pace, is likely to surpass next year before the first Model 3 is delivered.

Shiva's Boudoire

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A Nuclear Armageddon in the Making in South Asia


By Dilip Hiro / TomDispatch

Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades, the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It's possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might--given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors--lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration.  In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on "nuclear winter" on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad's decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

When it comes to Pakistan's strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country's leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.


Square, Site wide

In the nuclear standoff between the two neighbors, the stakes are constantly rising as Aizaz Chaudhry, the highest bureaucrat in Pakistan's foreign ministry, recently made clear. The deployment of tactical nukes, he explained, was meant to act as a form of "deterrence," given India's "Cold Start" military doctrine--a reputed contingency plan aimed at punishing Pakistan in a major way for any unacceptable provocations like a mass-casualty terrorist strike against India.

New Delhi refuses to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Its denials are hollow. As early as 2004, it was discussing this doctrine, which involved the formation of eight division-size Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).  These were to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support, and each would be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In the case of major terrorist attacks by any Pakistan-based group, these IBGs would evidently respond by rapidly penetrating Pakistani territory at unexpected points along the border and advancing no more than 30 miles inland, disrupting military command and control networks while endeavoring to stay away from locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, India has long been planning to respond to major terror attacks with a swift and devastating conventional military action that would inflict only limited damage and so--in a best-case scenario--deny Pakistan justification for a nuclear response.

Islamabad, in turn, has been planning ways to deter the Indians from implementing a Cold-Start-style blitzkrieg on their territory. After much internal debate, its top officials opted for tactical nukes. In 2011, the Pakistanis tested one successfully. Since then, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the New Delhi-based co-author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan seems to have been assembling four to five of these annually.

All of this has been happening in the context of populations that view each other unfavorably. A typical survey in this period by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of Pakistanis had an unfavorable view of India, with 57% considering it as a serious threat, while on the other side 59% of Indians saw Pakistan in an unfavorable light.

This is the background against which Indian leaders have said that a tactical nuclear attack on their forces, even on Pakistani territory, would be treated as a full-scale nuclear attack on India, and that they reserved the right to respond accordingly. Since India does not have tactical nukes, it could only retaliate with far more devastating strategic nuclear arms, possibly targeting Pakistani cities.

According to a 2002 estimate by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a worst-case scenario in an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war could result in eight to 12 million fatalities initially, followed by many millions later from radiation poisoning.  More recent studies have shown that up to a billion people worldwide might be put in danger of famine and starvation by the smoke and soot thrown into the troposphere in a major nuclear exchange in South Asia. The resulting "nuclear winter" and ensuing crop loss would functionally add up to a slowly developing global nuclear holocaust.

Last November, to reduce the chances of such a catastrophic exchange happening, senior Obama administration officials met in Washington with Pakistan's army chief, General Raheel Sharif, the final arbiter of that country's national security policies, and urged him to stop the production of tactical nuclear arms. In return, they offered a pledge to end Islamabad's pariah status in the nuclear field by supporting its entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to which India already belongs. Although no formal communiqué was issued after Sharif's trip, it became widely known that he had rejected the offer.

This failure was implicit in the testimony that DIA Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart gave to the Armed Services Committee this February. "Pakistan's nuclear weapons continue to grow," he said. "We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical [nuclear] weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident."

Strategic Nuclear Warheads

Since that DIA estimate of human fatalities in a South Asian nuclear war, the strategic nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan have continued to grow. In January 2016, according to a U.S. congressional report, Pakistan's arsenal probably consisted of 110 to 130 nuclear warheads. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has 90 to 110 of these. (China, the other regional actor, has approximately 260 warheads.)

The Rest

When Whites Just Don't Get It, Part 6

kristof.cops.jpgA Baltimore protest last April about Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal injury while in police custody. Credit Yunghi Kim/Contact Press Images

Nicholas Kristof

LET'S start with a quiz. When researchers sent young whites and blacks out to interview for low-wage jobs in New York City armed with equivalent résumés, the result was:

A) Whites and blacks were hired at similar rates.

B) Blacks had a modest edge because of affirmative action.

C) Whites were twice as likely to get callbacks.

The answer is C, and a black applicant with a clean criminal record did no better than a white applicant who was said to have just been released from 18 months in prison.

A majority of whites believe that job opportunities are equal for whites and blacks, according to a PBS poll, but rigorous studies show that just isn't so.

Back in 2014, I did a series of columns called "When Whites Just Don't Get It" to draw attention to inequities, and I'm revisiting it because public attention to racial disparities seems to be flagging even as the issues are as grave as ever.

But let me first address some reproaches I've received from indignant whites, including the very common: You would never write a column about blacks not getting it, and it's racist to pick on whites. It's true that I would be wary as a white person of lecturing to blacks about race, but plenty of black leaders (including President Obama) have bluntly spoken about shortcomings in the black community.

Toni Morrison in her novels writes searingly about a black world pummeled by discrimination but also by violence, drunkenness and broken families. In a CNN poll, 86 percent of blacks said family breakdown was a reason for difficulties of African-Americans today, and 77 percent cited "lack of motivation and unwillingness to work hard."

Frankly, the conversation within the black community seems to me to be more mature and honest than the one among whites, and considering how much of the white conversation about race invokes "personal responsibility," maybe it's time for whites to show more.

Obama's election reinforced a narrative that we're making progress. We are in some ways, but the median black household in America still has only 8 percent of the wealth of the median white household. And even for blacks who have "made it" -- whose incomes are in the upper half of American incomes -- 60 percent of their children tumble back into the lower half in the next generation, according to a Federal Reserve study. If these trends continue, the Fed study noted, "black Americans would make no further relative progress."

Most of the public debate about race focuses on law enforcement. That's understandable after the shootings of unarmed blacks and after the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that black men received sentences about 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Lead poisoning, for example, is more than twice as common among black children as among white children, and in much of the country, it's even worse than in Flint, Mich.

Three generations after Brown v. Board of Education, American schools are still often separate and unequal. The average white or Asian-American student attends a school in at least the 60th percentile in test performance; the average black student is at a school at the 37th percentile. One reason is an unjust school funding system that often directs the most resources to privileged students.

So if we're going to address systemic disadvantage of black children, we have to broaden the conversation to unequal education. There's a lot of loose talk among whites about black boys making bad decisions, but we fail these kids before they fail us. That's unconscionable when increasingly we have robust evidence about the kinds of initiatives (like home visitation, prekindergarten and "career academies") that reduce disparities.

Reasons for inequality involve not just institutions but also personal behaviors. These don't all directly involve discrimination. For instance, black babies are less likely to be breast-fed than white babies, are more likely to grow up with a single parent and may be spoken to or read to less by their parents. But racial discrimination remains ubiquitous even in crucial spheres like jobs and housing.

In one study, researchers sent thousands of résumés to employers with openings, randomly using some stereotypically black names (like Jamal) and others that were more likely to belong to whites (like Brendan). A white name increased the likelihood of a callback by 50 percent.

Likewise, in Canada researchers found that emails from stereotypically black names seeking apartments are less likely to get responses from landlords. And in U.S. experiments, when blacks and whites go in person to rent or buy properties, blacks are shown fewer options.

Something similar happens even with sales. Researchers offered iPods for sale online and found that when the photo showed the iPod held by a white hand, it received 21 percent more offers than when held by a black hand.

Discrimination is also pervasive in the white-collar world. Researchers found that white state legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, were less likely to respond to a constituent letter signed with a stereotypically black name. Even at universities, emails sent to professors from stereotypically black names asking for a chance to discuss research possibilities received fewer responses.

Why do we discriminate? The big factor isn't overt racism. Rather, it seems to be unconscious bias among whites who believe in equality but act in ways that perpetuate inequality.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, an eminent sociologist, calls this unconscious bias "racism without racists," and we whites should be less defensive about it. This bias affects blacks as well as whites, and we also have unconscious biases about gender, disability, body size and age. You can explore your own unconscious biases in a free online test, called the implicit association test.

One indication of how deeply rooted biases are: A rigorous study by economists found that even N.B.A. referees were more likely to call fouls on players of another race. Something similar happens in baseball, with researchers finding that umpires calling strikes are biased against black pitchers.

If even professional referees and umpires are biased, can there be any hope for you and me as we navigate our daily lives? Actually, there is.

The N.B.A. study caused a furor (the league denied the bias), and a few years later there was a follow-up by the same economists, and the bias had disappeared. It seems that when we humans realize our biases, we can adjust and act in ways that are more fair. As the study's authors put it, "Awareness reduces racial bias."


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