Nel's New Day

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) lawyers tried to stall DDT’s problems from stealing classified documents by claiming that taking them was like having overdue library books, and President Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about preserving democracy that infuriated Republicans. More about that later while the judge decides whether to assign a “special master” for DDT but meanwhile lots of other news.

In the Alaska’s first ranked-choice election, Democrat Mary Peltola’s win by three percent came from half the people voting for GOP Nick Begich refusing to put Sarah Palin for their second choice—29 percent picked Peltola, and 21 percent didn’t vote for anyone. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), presidential wannabe, tweeted that the GOP-created ranked-choice voting process “is a scam to rig elections.” Peltola’s win was an 18-point overperformance for Democrats in a red state. In special elections since March 2021, Republicans were two percent over the estimated leaning for the winners before Roe v. Wade was overturned; after that, Democrats had an 11-percent lean.

Tony Ornato, DDT loyalist and deputy chief of staff for operations, retired two days before a scheduled interview with Inspector General investigators after stalling for two months. A top Secret Service official, Ornato may have tried to send VP Mike Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 6, 2022, so that the presidential counting of votes would be delayed. Pence refused to get into the car. Ornato also told DDT’s White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson DDT demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6 after the rally and lunged for the steering wheel when Ornato refused to drive him there. Having met with the House January 6 investigative committee twice about Pence’s location, Ornato said he will meet with the Inspector General investigators, but, as a private citizen, he cannot be required to do so with a testimonial subpoena.

The House committee has asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for an interview regarding his communications with DDT’s senior advisers, including Jason Miller and Jared Kushner, about television advertising claiming lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that Gingrich was part of the fake elector plot to persuade Pence and congressional members affecting the outcome of vote counting on January 6. Committee investigators interviewed witnesses during much of August and continue to receive many new documents while they work to recover missing texts from the Secret Service and Defense Department that the agencies wiped from phones of former and current officials.

Members are exploring identification of documents that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned in his office fireplace and other mishandling of documents. After the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Meadows made arrangements to return records to the National Archives.

The committee also interviewed some of DDT’s Cabinet secretaries including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao about their conversations after the insurrection in connection with invoking the 25th Amendment, the removal of a president on grounds of incapacitation, mental health or physical fitness. These discussions could show the serious problems of DDT’s behavior.

Former DDT White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 insurrection.

New information about Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may contribute to the January 6 investigation. She pushed state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well as Arizona to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Emails show emails to at least two Wisconsin state lawmakers appear to be pre-generated by Thomas, mirroring form letters she sent to 29 Arizona legislators asking them to interfere in the state’s slate of presidential electors. She told them to unilaterally choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors and “consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

Thomas’ push to overturn the election received scrutiny because of her husband’s refusal to recuse himself in a case about the House’s January 6 investigation. He was the only justice to publicly dissent from the Supreme Court’s move not to block a court order permitting House investigators to see DDT’s White House documents. Thomas also exchanged texts with Meadows in 2020 to persuade him in continuing the fight to overturn Biden’s win. Meadows gave these texts to the House select committee. Thomas has also openly opposed House investigation, calling on the two Republican members of the committee to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Owners of Fox network are defending itself in a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems with the position that media sources shouldn’t be punished for lying about the 2020 election. Dominion asks for $1.6 billion in damages and has moved into discovery with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro being deposed. According to the Fox argument, the First Amendment allows news organizations to lie about public figures if it’s not done knowingly and has no reckless disregard for the truth. A Delaware judge denied the motion to dismiss the suit last year and stated that the case should proceed and that “the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth.”  

On the flip side of the coin, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch’s son, is suing an Australian news outlet, accusing it of lying about Fox and its news about the election. Lachlan Murdoch contends an article calling the Murdoch family “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection and the preceding election lies caused him to be “gravely injured in his character, in his personal reputation, and his professional reputation.” Crikey, the independent outlet, had stated that if DDT is indicted, “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” The First Amendment protects the statement in the U.S., but Australia has no such protection.

The Murdochs will want to avoid discovery because opposing counsel has access to emails and other internal communication. Concern about discovery caused Fox to settle a suit with the family of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who Fox falsely accused of leaking emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election after Rich was shot and killed. In the Dominion lawsuit, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may be forced to join their hosts in being deposed. The owners claim they don’t make day-to-day decisions on programming or tell hosts what to say or not to say, but text messages prove the opposite.

A three-judge panel of the conservative 8th Circuit Court temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans children and teens. The court ruled that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” Last year, over 200 anti-trans bills were introduced in over 30 states, and many of them have passed. Lies sent about trans people include trans children receiving gender-confirming surgery. Conspiracy theorists have attacked Boston Children’s Hospital for its Gender Multispeciality Service program treating children with gender dysphoria, including a bomb threat this week.

A KKK plaque is installed at the entrance of Bartlett Hall, the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point (NY). It depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on a triptych titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.

Florida is rejecting donations of dictionaries after a freeze on new books in its libraries and classrooms so that parents have more control of school materials. In Sarasota, officials declined hundreds of dictionaries from a Venice Rotary Club’s donations. The group has donated over 4,000 dictionaries to the city’s elementary schools for almost 15 years in partnership with a nonprofit called the Dictionary Project. The law requires all “reading material” be “selected” by a certified education media specialist, but the district has none.

Texas loves God, as long as he’s straight, Christian, and English-speaking. A new law requires schools to display donated posters with “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. So parent Sravan Krishna tried to present a sign with the national motto in Arabic to a school district, and they refused after they tried to keep him from speaking. Muslims are the fifth-largest religious group in the state, and Texas has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. The law has no requirement for English, but the school board said they had enough signs. (The law also makes no requirement for the number of signs.)  In addition to presenting posters in Arabic, Krishna donated another one with “God” in rainbow colors. Although a lawyer has said that the motto must be in English, the colored one didn’t pass muster either. About 20 percent of youth in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.  

[Note the U.S. and Texas flag on the sign. According to the law, the sign must include them and only the words “In God We Trust”–nothing more.]

Despite GOP attempts to kill unions, their approval is at the highest point since 1965 at 71 percent. And just before Labor Day!

June 6, 2022

Draft for Overturning Roe – An Abuse on Religion, History

It’s June, and the U.S. Supreme Court has 33 cases yet to announce, including the possibility of overturning the almost 50-year-old Roe v. Wade permitting abortion for the first trimester and state regulation for the pregnant person’s health during the second and third trimesters. Samuel Alito’s rough draft for at least five conservative justices relies on mistaken religious, historical, scientific, and constitutional information.  

The cited religious freedom belongs only to Christian evangelicals who believe life begins at conception and fetuses are “babies.” The less religious conservative justices won’t believe constitutional “separation of church and state.” The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In theory, that line should give the same rights to Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahais, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics as to evangelicals. Christian evangelicals,  taking control of law in the U.S., believe everyone must follow strict fundamental Christianity, like Islam shariah law.

Rabbi Robert B. Barr and Rachel Smith of Congregation Beth Adam in Loveland (OH) wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer arguing that Justice Samuel Alito wants to impose a highly strict interpretation of Christianity on everyone in the United States.

“Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization proposes an alarming erosion of the vital wall that separates church from state—between personally held religious beliefs and our shared government. If the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the draft opinion, the Court will be issuing an historic, precedent-breaking opinion based on the religious beliefs held by many of the current justices. Religion will be dictating public policy.”

Their position is that freedom of religion should not be determined by Supreme Court justices. The op-ed explains:

“The establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits all levels of government from advancing or inhibiting religion. The Constitution prohibits the government from favoring one religious view over another or favoring religion over non-religion, and yet, that is exactly what this proposed opinion will do. This Court’s decision would adopt a narrow religious-based definition of when life begins and impose it on everyone in our nation. While some religions believe life begins at conception, others do not. Yet, the Court will impose one set of religious beliefs on everyone.”

According to Judaism, a fetus is “not a separate and independent life from the pregnant person.” The religion permits abortion if the pregnant person’s physical or psychological health is endangered. According to author Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Talmud declares the fetus as “mere water” for the first 40 days. Overturning Roe imposes one notion about the beginning life on everyone.

Reform Judaism permits abortion in case of rape or incest, when genetic testing determines the fetus has a disease causing death or severe disability, and the birth would be an impossible situation for the parents. Other reasons for abortion are for a single woman, age under 17, and risk to the woman’s health. This difficult decision is made by the pregnant woman with consultation with a trusted person such as a physician or rabbi.

Muslim scholars believe that a fetus is not a life until it’s “ensouled,” according to lawyer and commentator on Islamic law Abed Awad. Islamism allows abortions up to 120 days.

State lawmakers have flagrantly made it clear that they consider abortion a Chrisian issue in their drive to make the U.S. a “Christian” nation of far-right, fundamentalist views:

Louisiana: State Democratic Sen. Katrina Jackson said that “this is a God issue.” Last year, she said, “My goal in this office was to do the will of God… My concern is always, number one, that I not offend God.”

Alabama: GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said, “This legislation states as a powerful testament … that every life is a sacred gift from God.” GOP state Sen. Clyde Chambliss said, “I believe that if we terminate the life of an unborn child, we are putting ourselves in God’s place.”

Missouri: GOP State Rep. Holly Rehder gave her reason for forcing victims of rape and incest to remain pregnant: “We can do that with the love of God.”

Former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and VP Mike Pence echoed the “sacred gift from God” and “sanctity of every human life.”

Extremist anti-abortion laws forces extremist religious perspectives on state laws while all other religious perspectives are overridden. Contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers, these legislative laws will impose mandates on everyone, no matter what their religious beliefs are.

In addition to basing his decision on one decision of a minority, Alito demonstrated his weak grasp of history. He wrote:

“An unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

In early America, women could “restore their menses” until after “quickening,” the time when the pregnant person feels the fetus kicking and/or stirring which happens between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy. Shared knowledge during this time, sometimes in published health manuals, gave directions for inducing miscarriages. The Married Lady’s Companion recommended quinine, black hellebore, or juniper; Indigenous women used black cohosh roots; and Black slaves had snakeroot, cotton root, and okra along with drugs sold by traveling salesmen in New England during the mid-1700s.

In writing about “deep history,” Alito used the words of a 13th-century judge who endorsed human slavery and a 17th-century judge who sentenced witches to executions and endorsed marital rape. [Right: Matthew Hale, Alito’s 17th-century legal authority.] 

The first anti-abortion laws in the U.S. passed by some states in the 1820s and 1830s banned drugs to induce miscarriages in women, “then quick with child.” Their purpose was to punish men who tried to escape marrying seduced women by giving them abortifacients and referred only to quickening. Alito ignored this legal history, including judicial rulings that cases could not be brought for abortion before quickening. He ignored this information in an amicus brief from two major professional associations of historians in the United States, representing the views of over 10,000 scholars and teachers. Instead he used the work of only one legal writer, rejected by most scholars because it “distorts the evidence.” 

Alito references laws from the 1860s and 1870s when pregnancies were criminalized because of a small group of self-interested white, male physicians anxious about their status as both doctors and as elite men who formed the American Medical Association. Women saw their treatment as “violent” and excessive, preferring midwives, homeopaths, and other “irregular” practitioners. Male doctors who massaged women’s vulvas to calm their “hysteria” also kept abortions legal to perform them for medical reasons.

The medical men were hostile to women’s activism and middle-class women preferring to restrict their families’ sizes and accused them of wanting “fashion” and politics over motherhood. Dr. Horatio Storer, the medical leader of the anti-abortion movement, wrote that “the true wife” did not seek “undue power in public life . . . [or] privileges not her own.” He and his AMA colleagues opposed women in the medical profession and pushed the racist fear of immigrants taking over the U.S. –the 150-year-old “replacement” theory—because white women didn’t want huge families. Instead, the U.S. would be taken over by “aliens,” Chinese, and Catholics. Alito claimed the words came from just “one prominent opponent,” but Storer was the underlying force driving criminalization of abortions as state and local medical societies used his essays, data, memorials, and letters to persuade lawmakers of the necessity to criminalize abortion at all states.

Prosecuting abortion providers and sometimes women seeking abortions was combined with shaming and punishing them through humiliation investigations. Abortions went underground where it wasn’t regulated, or women performed harmful practices on themselves. Chicago’s Cook County Hospital had an entire ward for septic abortion cases until 1973 when Roe made the procedure legal.

[Information thanks to Leslie J. Reagan, a professor of history and law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and author of When Abortion Was a Crime and Dangerous Pregnancies.]

The term “opinion” when referring to Alito’s rough draft is accurate: his assertions about fetal development, abortion procedures, and international laws are disputed or are open to interpretation. Even pregnant women know he’s wrong. In the Atlantic, Chavi Karkowsky, a medical doctor in New York City and author of High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected, points out Alito’s separation from reality.

All Alito’s mistakes may not be his own: his rough draft shows an uncanny similarity to a brief by Texan Jonathan F. Mitchell for the state’s anti-abortion law allowing people to sue anyone supporting an abortion, even verbal discussions. Filed for Texas Right to Life, the brief was coauthored by Mitchell’s colleague Adam K. Mortara. The words and ideas are much alike—rejection of stare decisis, the language of the constitution disallowing the right to abortion, and the lack of reason for retaining the “contract” of Roe. Both believe that women won’t lose their autonomy without abortion because they can “control their reproductive lives.” As usual, they use the term “unborn human beings” instead of correct terminology.

The question is whether Alito will fix all these mistakes in his final draft.

December 16, 2018

‘War on Christmas’ Continues

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 7:34 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

The “War on Christmas” rolls on with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) a major perpetrator. He may be telling people “Merry Christmas,” but he cancelled the annual Christmas White House media event, inviting only “nice” commentators “nice”—especially Fox—to other White House holiday parties. Those are the ones who continue to shout “War on Christmas.”

Last year DDT and Melania had a gathering but made a brief appearance and didn’t pose for photographs. The guest list also avoided the inclusion of many black and LGBTQ reporters. Even Bill Clinton was willing to have his picture taken with journalists days after he was impeached. DDT’s relationship with the media has become increasingly frayed during the past year, especially after he pulled Jim Acosta’s press credentials and told the world that his business with Saudi Arabia was more important the torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. journalist for the Washington Post.

In their passion about the “war on Christmas,” conservatives forgot to notify the importance of rejecting “Happy Holidays” to its own religious right group Heritage Foundation. Although that political organization has typically used the winter holidays as a wedge against inclusiveness, this year’s gifts fail to represent their battle.

Conservatives—who don’t care about climate change killing polar bears—are up in arms against Starbucks for their sugar cookies decorated as polar bears. The major problem with their complaint is that the cookies disappeared eight years ago.

In Elkhorn (NE), Manchester Elementary principal Jennifer Sinclair banned a long list of Christmas traditions, including candy canes. She wrote, “Historically, the shape [of the candy cane] is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.” Her order has been reversed, and the principal is on administrative leave. Because of a high level of “concerns,” a police officer has been posted at the school.

Other signs of the GOP/DDT war on Christmas:

  • Gassing asylum seekers trying to legally come into the United States from Mexico.
  • Separating children from parents, especially with no intent to return them, and imprisoning them.
  • Killing civilians, including those in schools and hospitals, throughout the Middle East.
  • Refusing health care for low-income people after denying them a living wage.
  • Destroying the planet through ignoring renewable energy sources.
  • Depleting the world’s resources to make the wealthiest people wealthier.
  • Building white supremacy over minorities.
  • Insisting on war to build corporate profits.
  • Making dangerous decisions about the economy.
  • Putting unqualified conservative bigots on federal courts.
  • Removing women’s and voting rights.
  • Rigging elections and winning them by fraud to achieve the above.

The Vatican is also having a problem this Christmas season. Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from the Council, his international advice body, for alleged sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell, still the Vatican treasurer, will be on trial on sexual abuse charges in Australia, and Chile’s Francisco Javier Errazuriz has been accused of covering up child abuse while Archbishop of Santiago. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, also resigned from the Council leaving only six in the group. There are no plans to immediately the empty seats.

DDT’s firm Christian evangelical beliefs did not extend to reciting the Apostles’ Creed at the funeral of George H.W. Bush. He and Melania stood in stone silence while three former presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—participated in the service with their wives.

Over a month after the midterm elections, the Democrats still have no intention to “slaughter” tens of thousands of Christians, as Christian broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles warned if the Dems win. He pronounced that “they hate God. These people are against God. Every nation that has been taken over by Marxist-communists, they immediately kill the pastors. They immediately kill Christians. They immediately burn the churches.” He’s also maintained that MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, an out lesbian, will lead a coup against DDT.

“Be prepared for a mob—a leftist mob—to tear down the gates, the fence at the White House and to go into the White House and to drag him out with his family and decapitate them on the lawn of the White House.”

Matt Shea, a Republican state representative in Washington, wants to kill all people he identifies as non-believers. In his “Biblical Basis for War,” he follows “Dominionism,” also advocated by Ted Cruz’s father, that describes God as a “warrior” and demands that his holy war “kill all males” who do not submit to the document’s rules. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who gave the material to the FBI, described Shea’s document as “a ‘how to’ manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990s.” Shea won his sixth term in 2018 with 58 percent of the vote.

Conservative pastor E.W. Jackson maintains that he isn’t Islamaphobic, he is horrified that two Muslim women may be able to wear their hijabs on the floor of the U.S. House starting in January 2019. “The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” Jackson said. “We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that.”

Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted:

“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America… And you’re gonna have to just deal 😂”

The ban stating “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House” began in 1837 to break tradition with members of the British House of Commons who were required to wear hats in order to speak. The House of Commons continued its tradition until 1998; the Senate has no rule regarding head coverings.

Jackson, who lost a GOP Virginia primary for Senate in May said:

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in the First Amendment, but I’ll tell you what, I’m not voting for a Muslim to serve in any office. Me, personally, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. Period. I’m not doing it.”

DDT plans to leave for a two-week vacation at the end of the week. Isolated at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, he will have lots of time for more vicious tweets about the media and his opponents with little monitoring to help him be more rational.

Merry Christmas!

June 6, 2017

War in Middle East: DDT’s Path to Popularity?

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:51 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Many world leaders fear that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants a war to increase his popularity. What if it is true? Less than two weeks ago, he came home for a nine-day trip that included a visit to Saudi Arabia, and a senior official declared, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.” The unity doesn’t exist—especially since yesterday’s rift in the Middle East when Saudi Arabia led eight countries to isolate Qatar over its supposed support for terrorism.

One theory for Saudi Arabia’s action is DDT’s empowerment of Saudi with warmth for them and an excessive criticism of Iran. DDT worsened the situation by seeming to take credit for the problems in the Middle East through his tweets. He began with this one:

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

DDT added praise for Saudi Arabia’s actions in isolating Qatar:

“They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

The tweets were his usual early morning, knee-jerk reaction with no involvement with his administrative officials.

The action: Eight countries have severed diplomatic ties with the tiny country of Qatar, about the size of Connecticut with a population of under 2.3 million with only 12 percent of them natives and the others workers, most of them from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Five countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—started the dispute, and Libya, Mauritius, and the Maldives joined in. Countries have stopped flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital, and Saudi Arabia eliminated all land, sea and air links with Qatar. The country’s diplomats have been told to leave foreign posts from some of the countries as well as Qatari citizens.

The reason: Qatar is criticized for its reputed support of the Muslim brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group that Saudi Arabia and UAE consider a terrorist organization. Then Saudi Arabia became incensed with Qatar-owned Al Jazeera’s news story supporting Israel and Iran; both Saudi and UAE blocked access to the television network as well as other Qatari newspaper websites. According to U.S. intelligence, the news story was fake news from Russian hackers, but Qatar’s opponents didn’t believe the information. Then Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection. Qatar News Agency’s website is still offline because of hacking attempts. Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, and Saudi Arabia sees this as a problem to them as well as Iran’s nuclear program and its growing influence in the Middle East. The Saudis have accused Qatari officials of meeting with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Problems for Qatar: Almost all food in Qatar comes from Saudi Arabia which has stopped shipping to the nation, and trucks carrying food may be stranded on the Saudi side of the border. A major global airlines, Qatar Airlines must now detour around airspace above Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE at highly increased fuel costs, flight times, and ticket prices. That creates a hardship for families that live in Dubai and commute to Doha, a 45-minute flight before the barricade. Qatar is also scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and the recent action keeps supplies, workers, and possibly soccer fans from easily going in and out of the country.

Problems for Qatari neighbors—and the U.S.: The country has over a $300 billion sovereign wealth fund founded in 2005 to increase money from its natural resources. As the world largest LNG exporter with pipelines in the Gulf, Qatar could cut off supplies. The Al Udeid Ari Base, the principal U.S. regional center responsible for daily air missions and air operations coordination against ISIS is located on Qatar. The country also houses the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which manages all U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. About 11,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed there.

Demands: Saudi Arabia has not been specific about what they expect from Qatar although they have stated that they expect a stop to terrorism. They could also demand the closure of Al Jazeera, the television network that launched English-language programming.

Pentagon is trying to stop the damage: spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that the U.S. is “grateful to the Qataris for the longstanding support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.” Yes, Qatar supports groups considered terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. But so does Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. military bases in Qatar also allows it to be an intermediary between this country and theirs. For example, Qatar was instrumental in dealing with the Taliban to release U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Knowing that the U.S. needs to be good terms with all countries in the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked for the countries “to sit down together and address these differences” because “it is important that the [Gulf Cooperation Council] remain unified.”

DDT’s tweet is another of his 180-degree turns. He had never accused of Qatar promoting radical ideology before, and in fact he has praised Qatar. During his visit in Saudia Arabia, DDT said that U.S. relations with Qatar were “extremely good.” During that speech to the Saudis, DDT also said, “Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner.” On that trip DDT also met separately with the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (left), on May 21 and discussed the “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.” He told reporters, “We are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time now, haven’t we?” As for the sales to Qatar, DDT said, “That means jobs, and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”

DDT has 270,000 reasons for supporting Saudi Arabia: that’s the number of dollars that the Saudis have paid for stays at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for lodging, catering, and parking. The group paying DDT is the organization lobbying against the law that permits victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign government, meaning that Saudi Arabia could be financially responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Part of the Saudi lobbying campaign is recruiting U.S. veterans and sending them on luxury trips to Washington. DDT’s hotel is a very nice place for them to stay.

Leaders in the Western world consider the Saudi regime a danger to public security because of its dissemination of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islamism practiced in Saudi Arabia that has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. Saudi claimed that the restrictions against Qatar were caused by the nation’s support of terrorism. After George W. Bush’s war in Iraq put Shia Muslims in control, open polarization between Sunni and Shia Muslims have increasingly polarized the entire Middle East as Saudi Arabian Sunni fundamentalists exacerbate their battle against Iranian Shiites.

The current problem is said to be the worst in the region since the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed 36 years ago. Although Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, is predominantly Shia, the country has tried to stay neutral between the Saudi-Iran conflict. Sunnis want the nation to take sides with them. Qatar has also been blamed for the 2011 Arab Spring overturning regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. The dispute is the most serious to hit the region since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council 36 years ago.

When George W. Bush blew up the Middle East in the early 21st century, he knew little about its politics and culture. DDT knows less. But maybe he thinks that he can match Bush’s popularity if he just blows up the world.

April 12, 2016

Cruz Worse Than Trump

In a panic about the GOP being represented by Donald Trump, Republican establishment types have moved to the presidential candidate who they hate the most—Ted Cruz. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shifted from wanting to poison his colleague to just saying that the Republican party is “screwed up.” Part of the GOP argument is that Trump is too “liberal,” but when they complain about his actual positions, they are almost identical to those espoused by other Republicans—particularly Cruz. The GOP has temporarily picked its most mistrusted and hated senator, “a serial liar who led the 2013 government shutdown and called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a fraud on the Senate floor.”

Trump’s briefly held position about punishing women for having abortions is part of the GOP agenda. John Kasich said that individual states should decide how to punish the women. (It’s the usual GOP statement when candidates or elected officials try to weasel out of answering a question.) Cruz has a much worse position when he says farther by saying that states should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who still denies that  he wants to be president in the same way he denied wanting to be Speaker of the House, “opposes abortion, period,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During a campaign, he said that he was willing to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions.

Troy Newman, one of Cruz’ top advisers, wants to execute abortion providers, and another adviser, Kevin Swanson, wants to execute Girl Scout leaders for “promoting homosexuality.” Cruz’ “no” votes include the Paycheck Fairness Act, raising the minimum wage, and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood. All three of the GOP presidential candidates are saying, “Vote for us, and we’ll take away your rights.”

Both Trump and Cruz are competing to prove how much they hate Muslims. All eight people who Trump and Cruz appointed as advisers have connections to the Center for Security Policy, a hate group serving as the anti-Muslim movement’s premier think tank, and half of them hold ranking positions with CSP, including founder Frank Gaffney who works for Cruz. On his radio show, Gaffney called Jared Taylor’s openly racist American Renaissance website “wonderful.” Other major Cruz advisers are Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), Executive VP of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council; Claire Lopez, VP for research and analysis at CSP; Andy McCarthy, columnist for National Review and active on the anti-Muslim speaking circuit; and Fred Fleitz, Senior VP for Policy and Programs at CSP.

Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, key politician in the anti-Muslim movement; Walid Phares, anti-Muslim activist and former Lebanese Christian Militia member; and Joseph E. Schmitz, Senior Fellow with CSP. After Trump fired adviser Sam Nunberg for being too racist, Nunberg moved to the Cruz camp.

After Trump promised to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, Cruz promising to carpet bomb the Middle East. Even Fox criticized Cruz’ position, but he was still touting this solution on Easter Sunday, right after talking about salvation. As Jimmy Kimmel pointed out on his late night show, the only difference is that Cruz wants the sand to “glow.”

President Obama reported that he’s “getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about” both Trump’s and Cruz’ “suggestions” including their immigration proposals. Cruz claims that, if elected, he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. He also wants the same wall that Trump does and would triple the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Trump and Cruz also show the same positions in issues of no gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act, picking Supreme Court nominees, and costing taxes by $9.5 trillion through cutting taxes. Jimmy Kimmel shows the striking similarities his late night show.  Both men want religion in government and oppose international agreements.

In his struggle to rise from the bottom, GOP candidate John Kasich summarized their positions although he didn’t give their names:

“a ban on Muslims from entering the country, surveillance of Muslims in the U.S., dropping out of the NATO alliance, allowing nuclear weapons in Europe, and promising to repeal Obamacare ‘simply through the will of a strong man in the White House.’”

USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Cruz’ “dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan” rhetoric and tactics to those of Trump.  An analysis of the similarities between Cruz and Trump are striking with the only differentiation that Cruz varies from “generally” to “far” more conservative than Trump.

There is one major difference between Trump and Cruz: Trump backers are proud of their candidate; and Cruz backers are embarrassed by their candidate. John Nichols described Trump as “a crude xenophobic demagogue who has little respect for civil liberties or civil rights and who says terrible things about Muslims, refugees, and immigrants.” Steven Rosenfeld described Cruz as “a conniving, uncompromising, power-hungry demagogue whose policies would serve the richest Americans.” Cruz is just more tied to special interests, rigid, and connected to sleazy campaign tactics.

Cruz also has a super PAC to do his bidding. He claims that “family” is off-limits, but his super PAC started the “war of the wives” by printing a photo of Trump’s wife, causing Trump to retaliate. The difference is that the super PAC didn’t get permission to use a copyrighted photograph whereas Trump pulled his off of a tweet.

Religion is another area in which Cruz is farther away from reality than Trump. Colorado’s Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is on Cruz’ team of leaders in that state, and Cruz has bragged about the man’s endorsement. As a “preacher,” Klingenschmitt has made many videos, including his claim that God made a hurricane because he was thrown out of the U.S. Navy chaplain. His departure didn’t even come from his crazy beliefs; he violated policy by wearing his military uniform at a right-wing political rally. He lost his position on the state House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee after he declared that a viciously violent attack on a pregnant woman removing her fetus was punishment for America’s legalization of abortion. He also tried to exorcize President Obama—although not in person—and tried to cleanse a woman of the” foul spirit of lesbianism.” His objection to gays serving in the military is their “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.” Videos of Klingenschmitt’s “preaching” are here.

Much has been said about how Trump is wonderful because he doesn’t follow “political correctness,” which parents call courtesy when they’re teaching the children how to be well-behaved. Trump takes pride in not being civil while Cruz continues with his wax-face smile and speaks courteously. Yet the same vitriol comes from both their mouths—except when Cruz is worse. Asked about a comparison between him and Joe McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who destroyed tens of thousands of lives through his hearings in the 1950s, Cruz said, that it “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right.”

Robert Reich listed four reasons that Cruz is far worse than Trump: Cruz is more fanatical, more disciplined and strategic, a true believer, and a loner who’s willing to destroy government institutions to get his way.

The only virtue that the GOP can find in Cruz is, in the words of Lindsey Graham, “He’s not Trump.” No, he isn’t. He’s worse.

December 28, 2015

Christians v. Separation of Church & State

The month of December is always the Christian depiction of their being victimized because of their belief that the secular world is trying to take away their traditions—many of them pagan. Much of their myth about the “War on Christmas” centers around nativity scenes. For example, the Daily Caller complained that Nebraska was forced to remove the nativity scene from the capitol in exchange for a display from atheists. Actually, the Thomas More Society, which put up the nativity scene, waited too late to get the available space after December 18.  Seven other groups used the display to demonstrate the separation of church and state, including scale models of a church, a wall, and federal government buildings to demonstrate the separation of church and state. Instead of asking these people if they could leave up their display, the Thomas More Society preferred to go to the press.

nativity founding fathersTexas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered the removal of a nativity scene with the nation’s founding fathers kneeling over a manger that held the Bill of Rights instead of baby Jesus from the state Capitol. The small painted cutout in the basement of the Texas capitol was installed on December 18 with permission for one week, but Abbot said that there was “no obligation to approve displays that purposefully mock the sincere religious beliefs of others.”

florida festivus poleAfter two years of strife in the state about religious displays in their state capitol, Florida Prayer Network decided against putting the manger scene this year. The network’s president, Pam Olsen, should be commended for her a letter explaining that she wanted to avoid the display debate after news of mass shootings and racial tensions. The only display was a six-foot “Festivus pole” wrapped in rainbow colors.

 

 

chaz-stevens-festivus-pole-x750The person who installed the pole, Chaz Stevens of Jupiter (FL), has also received permission to display a “Festivus Pole,” topped by a disco ball, in the Oklahoma Capitol rotunda. Although dating back to 1966, the Festivus celebration became widely known after a 1997 Seinfeld TV sit com in which a character’s father described a holiday including feats of strength and the airing of grievances. Although Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Washington also accepted applications for this display, Arkansas denied a request for the Festivus pole.  [Image of Stevens thanks to The Advocate]

zombie nativiity sceneThe best nativity scene story this year may come from Sycamore Township (Ohio) where Jasen Dixon put up a manger scene featuring zombies. Last year he had to take down the display because he didn’t have a permit; this year he was told that it violated the zoning code. Full of Christianity, Fox business host Lou Dobbs said, “I think if you’re going to mock a religion, I’m thinking they should have chosen the Islamic religion.”

Other countries are either protesting government control of the Christian religion or accepting alternatives to it. Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion are registering as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods. A bonus is the possibility of a tax rebate. The law requires Icelanders to register their religion with the state, and almost three-fourths are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. The nation’s constitution has declared that this church “shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.” Over 40 other registered religious groups qualify for “parish fees” paid through the taxation system—about $80 per person for next year.

flyingThe Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created in 2005 as a protest to teaching creationism in Kansas public schools, now has approval to officiate same-gender marriages in New Zealand. Marriage equality has been legal in that country since 2013. Members of the church wear pasta strainers on their heads and have popped up with this gear on official documents in the U.S. such as driver’s licenses. [A Pastafarian holiday tree – Venganza.org]

In a demonstration of Muslims compassion, a group protected Christians. When Kenyan Al-Shabaab militants tried to separate Christians on a bus to kill them, Muslims, mostly women, told the attackers that they had to kill everyone, not just the Christians. The Muslim women gave the Christian women their hijabs and helped others hide behind bags in the bus. Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, said, “We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion.” he said.

In contrast to this act of humanity, the rampant hatred of many people in the United States caused a Christian to celebrate Christmas Day by setting fire to a Houston mosque just one hour after hundreds of worshippers filled the place of worship. The tragedy follows a series of hate-filled attacks that include other fires throughout the country which have increased since the killings in San Bernardino. Many people in the U.S. are supportive of Muslims, but leaders of one political party has announced that any of the 1.6 billion members of Islam–22 percent of the world’s population–would not be welcome in the United States if they control the U.S. government.

In another humanitarian move, one Christian college is bucking the Southern tradition of guns everywhere. While other Christian schools are banning LGBT students and suspending professors for thinking for themselves, Southern Methodist University, one of the top private colleges in Texas, has opted out of the state law allowing concealed handguns on campus. SMU students, faculty, and staff overwhelmingly supported a gun-free campus. Several other private universities in Texas, including Rice and Texas Christian University, but public universities have no choice. The law takes effect on August 1, 2016, the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting that killed 16 people at the University of Texas, Austin. The University of Texas system has over 214,000 students.

Christianity will have much more power in Arizona schools after the state’s Senate President Andy Biggs has selected Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) as chair of the Education Committee. The person in this position acts as gatekeeper for education-related decisions and legislation. As a creationist, Allen believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that the condensation trails behind jets are actually poisonous sprays to sicken the nation’s population. According to Allen, all U.S. citizens should be forced to attend religious services. She also interfered with Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark’s investigation into accusations that Allen’s son-in-law was sexually assaulting female prisoners. Biggs claimed, “She understands what Arizona students and parents need in our education system.”

(Allen has an interesting background. She won her seat for the first time in 2008 after Jake Flake, former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and the uncle of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, was bucked from a horse and broke eight ribs. He died of a heart attack two weeks later. She lost her reelection in 2012 but ran—and won—again in 2014 after state Sen. Chester Crandall was found dead after falling or being bucked from a horse. She supports uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, state funding of a militia run by the neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, anti-Semitic Holocaust denial testimony before the state senate, and elimination of health care for 280,000 with the “reason” that people should do more to take care of their health and avoid seeing doctors.)

In an op-ed piece, Allen explains that the state shouldn’t take Muslim refugees because they follow Sharia law. “Islam is a political system as well as a religious system,” she said to defend her position—highly similar to her own belief that Christianity should control law in the United States because it’s “a political system as well as a religious system.” The new commissioner to Maine’s Department of Education is also a creationist.

As Christians spread ignorance throughout public schools, one 11-year-old student is taking them to task. Brandon Silver wanted to learn about evolution, but the Palm Beach County School District, a public school district in Boca Raton (FL), follows the religious belief of creationism in its science education. Silver’s father, Barry Silver, is a lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the district on November 24, the anniversary of Darwin’s publication of “The Origin of Species.” Speaking to the school board, the 11-year-old said, “Evolution is a very important topic, and it’s the greatest scientific breakthrough ever, so I believe it should be taught.” The United States ranked 27th in the world in science scores by 2012, below Australia as well as most of Europe and Asia. Good for you, Brandon Silver!

December 20, 2015

What Christianity Teaches

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 1:25 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Around 2016 years ago, a non-Christian Middle Eastern couple needed refuge for the night. There was no room at the inn, but the innkeeper offered the travelers, one of whom was pregnant with another Man’s child, the option of bedding down in the barn. It was there that Jesus Christ was born. Or so the story goes.

The Nativity scene is an icon of current Christian celebration during December although the event most likely occurred in spring. Yet at least five states with these scenes in their capitols or governors’ mansions also refuse to accept any Middle-Eastern refugees in their boundaries. According to the story, an angel of the Lord told Joseph and Mary that they must escape to Egypt because Herod was searching for Jesus to kill him. Legislators claim that they are keeping out Syrian attackers after the Paris attacks to keep out Syrian refugees, but all the attackers were citizens of European countries.

Violence from the conservative propaganda against Islam has expanded to children.  A seventh grader in Ohio tried to resolve his argument with a sixth-grade student on the school bus by calling him a “towel head” and threatening to bring his father’s gun the next day to shoot and kill the Muslim boy. He also called the sixth-grader the “son of ISIS” and blamed him for the 9/11 attacks. The boy denied his threats, but the heated exchange had been taped.

Wheaton College has suspended tenured political science associate professor Larycia Hawkins because she said that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Hawkins tried to protest the increasing Islamophobia by wearing a hijab, but declaring solidarity with the religion was too much for officials at the evangelical Christian school. They wrote:

“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer.”

Hawkins pointed out that millions of Christians throughout history have the standard belief in a common god. Miroslav Volf, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School and author of the book Allah: A Christian Response, wrote that unnecessary divisiveness over the question creates “justification for cultural and military wars.” In 2013, Brian C. Houston, the evangelical Christian leader of one of the world’s largest Christian churches, explained that Christianity and Islam have a shared deity.

The United States has had three mass shootings by Muslims out of over 350 shootings of at least four people each during 2015. Yet one of these three tragedies caused conservatives to blame the Muslims for all the gun violence in the country. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, supports Donald Trump in keeping all Muslims from coming into the United States.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, goes father in asking all students, staff, and faculty to carry concealed guns on campus to “teach them a lesson.” By them, we’re pretty sure that he means Muslims. Falwell said that he started carrying a .25 caliber handgun in his back pocket after the mass shooting at San Bernardino (CA). Evidently, the shooting by a white Christian at the Charleston (SC) church didn’t cause Falwell any concern. Virginia has a minimum age of 21 for concealed carry, and Falwell said later that he meant only older students should be armed.

Carson-Newman University, a private Southern Baptist college in Tennessee, is the latest school to use federal permission to ban LGBT students, unwed mothers, students who had an abortion, and pregnant women. The university president said he doesn’t know why it sought the exemption to Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in education that also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. An attorney who filed the same application for a dozen other Christian schools told the president that it was a good idea. In the past 18 months, 56 schools have requested religious exemptions from Title IX. Of these 33 related to gender identity and 23 to sexual orientation have been awarded. A list of schools is available here. Eight senators, including Bernie Sanders and Oregon’s Ron Wyden, have asked for a website to publish the names of schools that discriminate so that students applying to college will be able to make informed decisions.

Of its 45 “speciality” licence plates in Alabama, only God plates are free, according to Gov. Robert Bentley, who announced that the God Bless America license plate will have no additional fee. People who want plates for autism, trees, education, breast cancer, wild turkey, etc. will still have to pay the usual $50 fee.

According to research from the University of Chicago, children from religious families are more selfish than those from less-religious families. In the the study’s dictator game,” 1,170 children are told that not everyone can participate in the game to get stickers and they must choose to keep or donate the stickers: “altruism was calculated as the number of stickers shared out of 10.” In another part of the study, children watched videos of people hurting others and then were asked to judge how mean the bullies are and what punishment they deserved. Non-religious children are less likely to hand out punishment and more inclined to be generous. Religious levels of the children were based on interviews with their parents about religious identity, practices, and morality of the children.

Tennessee GOP lawmakers want to ensure that non-Christians are made to feel excluded from any holiday parties. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and some legislators called for the “immediate resignation”  of University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and cuts in UT’s funding for diversity programs after he issued a memo recommending goals to make parties “build upon workplace relationships and team morale” as well as “an opportunity to reinvigorate individuals for the new year’s goals and priorities.” He also said that parties should be voluntary, not mandatory. While Tennessee suffers from ranking 37th in unemployment, 46th in school funding, and 17th in teen pregnancy, GOP politicians concentrate on their fantasy of anti-Christian discrimination. Ramsay has also urged Tennessee Christians to buy guns because “secularism” and “Jihadists” have joined together to target Christians.

While the GOP U.S. House postponed a vote on keeping the federal government open and deciding whether the U.S. should be at war with ISIS, it passed H.R. 564, sponsored by 36 male representatives. The entire name is “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas”:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

Less than two weeks before it celebrates the birth of Jesus, a Christian-run Kentucky homeless shelter, Emergency Christian Ministries, told all homeless women and children to leave because a “sex problem.” Billy Woodward, Emergency Christian Ministries Director, said the ban is based on teachings in the Bible because the homeless women were using the shelter as a dating or hookup service. Kentucky has the fifth-highest percentage of people in poverty, following Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Michael Long, social studies teacher at Delta Middle School in the central western part of Colorado, organized a bible giveaway in the doorway of the school library while his class met there. A child who took a photograph instead of a bible was shamed by her classmates for not agreeing with Christian beliefs. Principal Jennifer Lohrberg, supported by the district superintendent, declared that favoring one religion was according to district rules and approved by its lawyers. Other religious proselytizing at the same school during the last year included mandated attendance at a Christian religious and the use of free doughnuts as reward for attending morning prayers led by a DMS teacher.

Another school in the state, Colorado Mesa University, forced nurses graduating from the school’s program to either accept or reject a bible as they stepped down from the dais at their pinning ceremony, CMU’s graduation for nurses.  Following a discussion of the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers organization, CMU president Tim Foster said that the “tradition” will be dropped.

stormtroopersThose who saw the seventh Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, need to know that it’s based on the Bible. At least that’s what Northern Exposure actress Janine Turner claimed about Darth Vader’s black costume. “This goes back to biblical times,” she asserted, because “the Bible talks darkness and light.” She didn’t explain why the hordes of evil but poorly trained Stormtroopers are dressed in white.

And that’s the Christian teaching for the week.

December 19, 2015

Gun Myths Promote Killing Innocent People

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 8:13 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a survivor of the lax gun laws in the United States, spoke on December 14, 2015, the third anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 20 children and eight adults, about the lack of gun safety laws:

“Congress will do exactly what its members have done every week since those 20 kindergartners and first-graders were murdered in their classrooms: nothing at all. That’s cowardice, an embrace of the shameful status quo we’ve grown to expect from a Congress in the gun lobby’s grip. Many of my former colleagues are in the cold clutches of pessimism and its key ingredient: fear.”

The second reason for refusal to face gun violence is ignorance and allegiance to distorted reality about guns. Many people opposed to gun safety laws don’t believe the following information:

Feeling safer is not the same as being safer. Two-thirds of gun owners say they feel safer because they have a gun in their home, but they aren’t. Having a gun in the home increases the chances of gun-related violence there: suicides, accidental shootings, domestic disagreements, and home invaders’ taking the guns. Of the 11,000 homicides in 2012, only 269—three-fourths with handguns—were justifiable, meaning self-defense. Each of these justifiable homicides was matched with 78 gun homicides, and two accidental gun deaths. A detailed report, “Firearms Training and Self-Defense,” shows that few criminals are shot in homes. Guns in homes are typically used to intimidate people they know in the home, including spouses, other family members, and people invited into the home.

The presence of guns in the home leads to violence. Too many unstable people own guns because 22 million people in the nation—8.9 percent of the adult population—have impulsive anger issues and easy access to guns. Few of these people are subject to current mental-health care restrictions, and 3.7 million of the 22 million carry their guns in public. Research shows that the more guns people have, the more likely they are to carry them in public and have a history of anger issues. Then sudden fear responses cause serious injury or death.

“Good people” with guns will not always defeat “bad people” with guns. Researchers studying the NRA belief in the contrary found the “good guns with guns” myth to be a dangerous vigilante fantasy. Most people with guns aren’t trained to be effective law officers. They don’t know how to confront unstable people; they don’t have the physical stamina to be in a potential life-or-death fight; and they don’t possess the self-control to stop themselves from firing indiscriminately. The result is injuries or death to themselves, bystanders, or both. The report stated:

“The lack of quality initial training and repeat training over time is potentially a disaster waiting to happen.”

More guns lead to more crime and violence. Research by a team of Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University researchers found in 2014:

“Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC [right to carry] laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.”

The study also found “evidence that RTC laws increase rape and robbery.”

The deadliest weapons are very profitable.  Gun manufacturers and the NRA fan the fears of terrorism and government takeover because they make money from selling firearms—especially sem-automatic weapons that use more ammunition. Bullets accounted for almost one-third the profits–$4.6 billion sales in 2013 compared to 26 percent in 2008.

The gun culture promoted by the NRA and gun manufactures kills children.  The presence of a gun makes children less safe, programs such as Eddie Eagle are insufficient, and use of gun safes and smart guns could reduce the death toll. The presence of guns also directly increases the risk of youth homicide and suicide. Children between 5 and 14 in the U.S. are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations. In the developed world, 87 percent of children younger than 14 killed by firearms live in the United States. In the U.S., more children and teenagers died from gunfire in 2010—a single year—than U.S. troops in Afghanistan since 2001. Yet to people who oppose gun safety laws, mass shootings of children are horrific while “accidental” killings of children in the home—sometime by other young children—are sad but business as usual.

Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization. For example, most of firearm deaths in North Carolina youth were caused by legally purchased handguns. Easy access to firearms doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.

These deaths are not offset by defensive gun use. For every time a gun is used legally in self-defense at home, there are “four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” A study of adolescents in California found that there were 13 times as many threatening as self-defensive uses of guns. Many of the defensive encounters came from confrontations that became hostile because of the presence of a firearm.

Children living in states with higher levels of firearm availability also suffer from significantly higher rates of unintentional gun deaths. The vast majority of these shootings involve either family or friends. Accidental killings are significantly underreported in the official data, often being classified as homicides or suicides rather than accidents. Several states have twice as many accidental gun deaths than the official record indicated.

Many gun owners are unaware that children have handled their guns; therefore the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates not having a gun in the home for safety. The NRA ignores this evidence and continues to push laws forbidding pediatricians from talking to parents about guns and safety measures. If people insist on having guns in homes with children, laws holding gun owners responsible for the safe storage of firearms reduced unintentional shooting deaths among children by 23 percent. States where gun owners are more likely to store loaded guns, especially if they are not locked up, have a much larger share of intentional firearm deaths.

Smart guns, which can be fired only by the owner, drastically reduces the risk of accidental shootings and teenage suicides. Extreme gun advocates have fought against their sales, going as far as sending death threats for offering smart guns. A campaign spreading lies about the failure rates of smart guns has stopped the use of this effective technology that could prevent deaths. Toy guns have regulations to reduce the risk of fatal accidents, but real guns have zero federal safety standards regulating their designs.

The NRA and extreme gun advocates perpetuate a culture of fear and violence, teaching children that guns are a solution. Bullied students are bringing thousands of guns to schools, and the number of school shootings has drastically increased since Sandy Hook. Exposure to firearm violence doubles the risk that an adolescent will then in turn commit violent acts over the next two years.

Conservatives have used the mass shooting in San Bernardino to avoid the serious problem of gun violence. After every mass shooting in the U.S. by a white man following the Christian religion, conservatives leap onto the “let’s not politicize the event,” “mental illness,” “lone wolf” memes. When two Muslims go out on their own to kill people—quite successfully because guns are easy to obtain—conservatives cry out for higher media surveilling, closing down the internet, building walls around the country, and stopping all Muslims at the border from entering the nation. A man kills three people in Colorado in the name of Christianity, and he’s simply deranged. A married couple kill 14 people in the name of Islam, and they are the devil incarnate.

Extremist people in the United States are so obsessed with their guns that they will do anything to keep them. As Larry Wilmore said in his segment about this lunacy, “See something, shoot something.” That’s what every obsessive gun owner believes no matter how many people are killed—as long as the shooter isn’t a Muslim.

November 21, 2015

Christians Discriminate against Muslims in U.S.

 

Firefighter. let it burnThree Muslim-American students were murdered in Chapel Hill last February. Christian white people in the U.S. wanted to call this hate crime a matter of a parking dispute, but the three young people were lined up on the ground, kneeling, and shot in the back of their heads execution style. It was a Christian terror attack. A few days later, the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, storing religious books, was completely destroyed by fire last February because of arson. Dustin Herron, a retired Houston-area firefighter who volunteered at the time for Crystal Beach Fire & Rescue posted the following:

“Let it burn … block the fire hydrant.”

That summarizes the conservative response since the attacks in Paris.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence, who might have run for president if his state hadn’t tried to pass an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” law, told two Syrian refugee families that they cannot come to his state. He also told two religious charities, Exodus Refugee Immigration and Catholic Charities, that no other families will be allowed in Indiana. One of the families waited for three years in Jordan before the vetting process was completed.

In Rhode Island, state senator Elaine Morgan suggested segregated camps for Syrians after calling on state governments to refuse any Syrian refugees in the country. She thinks refugees are part of a plan “to spread out their people to attack all non Muslim persons.” One U.S. human rights abuse was the internment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, some of the U.S. citizens, in abusive camps during World War II.

According to the annual Hate Crimes Statistics Report, the number of the hate crimes in 2014 decreased for every minority group except Muslims. The increase of 14 percent against Muslims may be under-reported because they tend not to report these crimes. The rise of these crimes against Muslims parallels the increase in the number of hate groups formed in the U.S., most of them based on conspiracy-based and virulent anti-government leanings. Christian attacks have moved from LGBT people to Muslims.

Following the tragedy of hate in Paris last week, Christian people in the U.S. immediately responded—with more irrational hate. Gunshots at mosques and private homes, threatening phone messages, hate graffiti, Islamophobic statements at community meetings—these are only a few of the occurrences during the past week. The Islamic Center of Pflugerville (TX) was vandalized with feces and torn pages of the Quran.

In contrast to the bigoted reaction from conservatives, seven-year-old Jack Swanson took his piggy bank to the Pflugerville mosque and gave them all the contents of $20.

The day before the killings in Paris, ISIS killed 45 people and injured another 200, some of them critically, in Beirut (Lebanon). The death toll would have been much higher if a man had not thrown himself on a bomb to save his son. A terrorist group left 147 people dead and 79 injured at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya last April, a tragedy that barely grazed the U.S. news media. A terrorist bomb on an airplane between Russia and Egypt killed 224 people. Only the attacks in Paris affected people in the U.S.

The U.S. concern primarily for people in France and not those on other continents might come from experiencing human empathy for only victims similar to themselves. Studies show that individuals focus more on their “ingroup,” creating an “empathy gap” among victims in attacks. The media obsessed with the attacks in Paris but gave little attention to other attacks.

Some people in the United States see every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as connected to the Paris attacks. These facts might give a different perspective:

  • Worldwide the 1.6 billion Muslims are expected to increase by 35 percent by the year 2030.
  • By 2050 the number of Muslims in the world will match the number of Christians.
  • Only 20 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East.
  • The majority of people who follow the Islamic religion, more than 60 percent, live in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Muslims have lived in China for more than 1400 years.
  • Less than 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population is Arab.
  • Two-thirds of the U.S. Arab population is Christian, not Muslim.
  • The most common name in the world is Muhammad.
  • All Muslim women do not wear hijabs.
  • The percentage of women in government in Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, is higher than in the United States.
  • The youngest female president in the world, Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo, is a Muslim woman.
  • Muslims give twice as much to charity as Christians.
  • When Columbus came to America, he may carried a book written by Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way to the New World centuries before him.
  • Muslims may have settled in America before the Europeans did.
  • The first wave of Muslims to the U.S. was African slaves; at least 25 percent of the slaves violently kidnapped from their homes and families by white men were Muslim.
  • About six million Muslim live in the United States; about one-third are black.
  • Muslims range from highly orthodox to moderate to secular with many different interpretations of their religion.

The United States is not and never has been a Christian nation. On June 10, 1797 the United States signed a compact of friendship with the Muslim population living along the Barbary Coast. The Treaty of Tripoli was commissioned by President George Washington. It was unanimously approved by the United States Congress. It was signed by the country’s second President, John Adams. Of special importance is Article 11, which reads:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

How far will GOP politicians go in using the Paris attacks? Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) blamed the current distrust of Syrian refugees on President Obama’s handling of the 2011 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Yes, Benghazi. Again. Buck believes that the White House covered up some imaginary scandal, leading to U.S. distrust and making the Benghazi tragedy responsible for hostility toward refugees from a different country. (An aside about the recent 11-hour Benghazi hearing: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) said that Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her appearance go “as long as possible.”

States_that_have_surrendered_to_ISIS

The above map shows which states have embarrassed the people of the United States by surrendering to ISIS. All the “red states” have GOP governors except New Hampshire. Since the map was published on November 16, 2015, Oregon has joined the green section.

What problems have we had from refugees in the U.S.? Since 9/22, 750,000 people have come into the U.S. as refugees. The following chart shows the number of refugees arrested on domestic terrorism:

refugees arrested

That’s right: zero.

The people happiest about conservatives’ rejection of Syrian refugees are members of ISIS. They hoped for this reaction, and they got it. ISIS isn’t a country: it’s an idea. Propaganda spreads this idea, and ISIS has succeeded. The more conservatives spew their hatred, the more ISIS can persuade people that peace is impossible. Rejected by the U.S., people are sent into the arms of ISIS.

August 2, 2015

What Do Christians Do?

What do Christians do? One thing is individuals’ and businesses’ begging for money. Businesses refused to serve some of the population and tried to use GoFundMe websites for being bigots. Now the Duggars—19 Kids and Counting—have lost their $25-million salary after some people were upset with the oldest’s sons pedophilia. As a teenager, Josh Duggar molested five little girls and was protected from prosecution and punishment by his parents while living under the same room with four of his victims. It appears that $25 million a year isn’t enough to save money. Blaming the victims didn’t work for the Duggars, and TLC canceled the show. Instead of getting jobs, they asked fans to contribute to their YouTube account. Fortunately, ridicule made them delete their Internet begging—at least for now.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), known for rabid comments against young immigrants in the country, has decided that the Supreme Court legalization of same-gender marriage means presidential candidate Mike Huckabee “can marry my lawnmower.” I don’t know why King thinks that Huckabee might want to do this because he’s been busy wanting to shower with girls. Maybe King has a thing for his lawnmower and is trying to cover his own desire. I’m still waiting for an announcement that people are marrying their lawnmowers or potted plants or any other inanimate object.

As presidential candidates Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry show off the ultrasounds of their children as fetuses, they might want to take Pat Robertson’s warning. Asked about the safety of posting these on Facebook, Robertson cautioned about the “demons” and “evil people in the world” who may use ultrasound images to start “muttering curses against an unborn child.” Earlier he had claimed that these cultists could use any photos to curse people.

Christians work to lower education standards in the United States. The latest victim is the College Board, which issues standards for high school Advanced Placement courses. Attacks from conservatives have caused this previously venerated organization to issue a whitewashed revisionist history. Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas all introduced bills threatening to pull the course altogether, and the Republican National Committee passed a resolution accusing the 2014 AP U.S. framework of promoting “a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” These are some changes:

  • Passages explaining racial attitudes, stereotyping, and white superiority in early American history are rewritten or deleted.
  • “White supremacy” disappeared from the Europeans’ rationale “to justify their subjugation of Africans and American Indians; instead extended contact with Native Americans and Africans produced “evolving religious, cultural, and racial justifications for [their] subjugation.”
  • Removed was a line about the slave trade “leading to the emergence of racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among British colonists, which contrasted with Spanish and French acceptance of racial gradations.”
  • Also removed was the “Key concept” that read, “By supplying American Indian allies with deadlier weapons and alcohol, and by rewarding Indian military actions, Europeans helped increase the intensity and destructiveness of American Indian warfare.”
  • Implications of early European colonists’ racism and aiding in destructive Native American warfare are softened and replaced with more passive language.
  • President Reagan’s rhetoric is no longer “bellicose.”
  • “American exceptionalism” is added to the standards.
  • Sections on the Progressive Era and the New Deal now include inequality, a legacy of “regulatory agencies,” and the divisions of Progressives.
  • Instead of progressive-era journalists and reformers working to address “social problems associated with an industrial society,” the journalists “attacked” “what they saw” as corruption and inequality.
  • Removed from the document was a section that described English colonialists’ lack of “accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions” with native people and enslaved Africans that led “to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy” in English colonies.

More details here.

AP students will learn that slaves created institutions to preserve their family unit and formed communities on their own; the Free Market created the American economy; most Native Americans were killed off by the Spanish with the U.S. playing only a minor role in their genocide; and Ronald Reagan single handedly caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. The scant mention of the labor movement ignores leaders such as Eugene Debs, and the United States fought Germany and Japan in World War II all by itself with no help from other countries. Liberalism didn’t exist before the 1960s as an expression of anti-Communism and is now dying off after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The College Board has joined the trend of blaming others, making inaccurate portrayals, and destroying any historical accuracy through far-right propaganda.

pamela beckhamThe religious freedom excuse has now gone beyond denying people goods and services. A Christian woman in Ohio, 62-year-old Marilyn Perry (below), let “Jesus take the wheel” while she was praying—and driving. The result of Perry’s bowing her head while driving was a serious injury to 50-year-old Pamela Beckham (left) who was getting her grandchildren out of a car in front of Bellevue’s public library. Beckham rolled onto Perry’s windshield breaking the glass and Beckham’s neck. A Huron County judge placed Perry into an intervention program with no jail time and pays up to $10,000 for medical costs. Without prayer, vehicular assault is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a mandatory license suspension of one to five years.

Marilyn PerryPerry should know that Jesus is a bad driver. A few months ago, Pridonna Hill handed the wheel to her savior in Indiana and ran over a motorcyclist. “God told her that he would take it from here and she let go of the wheel and let him take it,” police said. Then she just kept driving.

Pastor Matthew Becker, a professor of theology at Valparaiso University, was thrown out of his church because he thinks that women should be able to serve the church and children should be taught evolution. Church president, Mathew Harrison, disagrees and ousted Becker. He had no answer for Becker’s claim that “you don’t need a certain body part to share the love of God.”

Earlier last month, Fox network radio host Todd Starnes told the Abilene Baptist Church (Augusta, GA) that “Chick-Fil-A … is the Official Chicken of Jesus, according to the Baptist Faith & Message.” No, this story didn’t come from Internet satire; he really said it.

straight parade

Almost 50 years ago, the first LGBT pride parades had 50 to 100 people, a number that has grown to tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Straight pride activist Anthony Rebello started small when he organized a Straight Pride Parade in Seattle. He invited over 2,400 people on Facebook, but he was the only one there. Not even his girlfriend showed up. He said that it was a “warm up” and plans another one next year. Rebello blamed negative attention from the LGBT community for the low turnout. If he were right, no one would have ever gone to any gay pride parade.

Much to the dismay of conservative Christian groups, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay leaders with 79 percent of its board members in agreement. The reason was not for ethical reasons: Robert M. Gates, the organization’s president, said that it was to avoid costly “simultaneous legal battles in multiple legal jurisdictions.” Not all troops have to accept gay leaders, either. Discrimination can continue if troops refuse gay leaders on the basis of religious belief. Even that doesn’t satisfy groups such as the Mormon Church that may pull all of its troops out of BSA. On the other hand, Gates may not be avoiding legal battles with his “religious freedom” excuse.

Cheers this week for a group of good Christians who visited a Chattanooga mosque in Chattanooga to pray with Muslim worshippers during the funeral procession for Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, one of four Marines fatally shot by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez on July 16. They said they wanted a show of love for the Muslim community. Mainly Baptists with at least one Presbyterian, the Christians requested that their churches not be identified because not everyone agreed with their visit.

What do Christians do? Lie, beg, discriminate, twist facts, and reject church members while the real Christians are forced to hide doing good works. At least that’s what happened last week.

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

Current

Commentary. Reflection. Judgment.

© blogfactory

Truth News

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: