Questioning assumptions, left and right - We lead off with a pair of recent books, one striving desperately to undermine our confidence, and the other trying just as hard to snap us out of our fu...
23 hours ago
Two teenage sisters in rural India were raped and killed by attackers who hung their bodies from a mango tree, which became the scene of a silent protest by villagers angry about alleged police inaction in the case. Two of the four men arrested so far are police officers.
Villagers found the girls' bodies hanging from the tree early Wednesday, hours after they disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, police Superintendent Atul Saxena said. The girls, who were 14 and 15, had gone into the fields because there was no toilet in their home.
Hundreds of angry villagers stayed next to the tree throughout Wednesday, silently protesting the police response. Indian TV footage showed the villagers sitting under the girls' bodies as they swung in the wind, and preventing authorities from taking them down until the suspects were arrested.
Police arrested two police officers and two men from the village later Wednesday and were searching for three more suspects. ...
The family belongs to the Dalit community, also called "untouchables" and considered the lowest rung in India's age-old caste system.
India tightened its anti-rape laws last year, making gang rape punishable by the death penalty, even when the victim survives. The new laws came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi that triggered nationwide protests. ...
Last month, the head of Uttar Pradesh state's governing party, the regionally prominent Samajwadi Party, told an election rally that the party was opposed to the law calling for gang rapists to be executed.
"Boys will be boys," Mulayam Singh Yadav said. "They make mistakes."
Uttar Pradesh officials initially appeared caught off guard by the reaction to the attack on the two girls, and [Chief Minister Akhilesh] Yadav on Friday mocked journalists for asking about it.
"You're not facing any danger, are you?" he said in Lucknow, the state capital. "Then why are you worried? What's it to you?"
So here's brave Todd Kincannon, chairman of the Election Commission of Simpsonville, South Carolina [and, formerly, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party], stepping up in 140 characters, to defend his freedom against the onslaught of grieving parents. ...
No idea how my son will die, but I know it won't be cowering like a bitch at UC Santa Barbara. Any son of mine would have been shooting back.
Having a glass of wine (or three) on a date and then retiring to the bedroom for some consensual sexing is not unknown in the liberal, feminist circles long-derided by the conservative media. So imagine my confusion when I read National Review writer and self-appointed expert on what “feminists” think, A.J. Delgado, argue that feminists “define rape as including any sexual activity in which the woman is not sober, claiming that consent is never truly given if one has had a few drinks.”
So sure is she of this assertion that she fails to cite any of the “prominent scholars and activists” that have offered this definition. I want to know who they are, so I can avoid drinking with them.
It is true that “radical feminists” such as the Department of Justice have argued that rapists often use drugs and alcohol to facilitate rape. Partially, they believe this because rapists themselves admit to it. Delgado seems to assume that there’s a lot of drunken sex that the man believes was consensual, but is later told that he’s being charged with rape. But researcher David Lisak found the opposite was true: Rapists deliberately seek out very drunk women or deliberately get women very drunk in order to rape them.
Surveying over 2,000 men on college campuses about their sexual history, Lisak found that about 1 in 16 of them admitted to raping someone (so long as you didn’t call it rape). Most of the admitted rapists said yes to this question: “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated [on alcohol or drugs] to resist your sexual advances?” (Emphasis mine.)
In other words, it’s not the drugs or alcohol that made it rape. It’s the lack of consent. Women aren’t being brainwashed into thinking they were raped. They are being educated about the fact that the guy who forced himself on them while they were too drunk to fight back really meant it.
Delgado proudly explains that she is not an outsider to the world of either sex or alcohol, smugly writing, “I am fairly certain that a statistically significant amount of sex — including very enjoyable sex — happens under the influence of alcohol.” As a hands-on expert, then, she should know that there’s a big difference between having had a few and being too wasted to express yourself, fight back, or even understand what’s going on. (It’s not just rapists either. Other criminals, such as muggers, know drunk people make easy marks because they can’t fight back.)
At the start of the “Women and Colorado’s Future” debate, the moderator explained that it would be like a dating game, where a panel of four women could interview the three “bachelors” — former Congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, and Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The fourth candidate, ex-congressman Tom Tancredo, did not attend.
The moderator invited the women to join the stage, saying, “It’s so much more ornamental if the four of you would be on the stage with the four of us.” Theme music from The Dating Game TV show played as the panelists took their seats.
But the three candidates ... had no specific policy proposals regarding women’s issues and barely mentioned women, a voting bloc that has come to decide statewide elections over the years and one that increasingly has turned away from the Republican Party. ...
The event was titled “Women and Colorado’s Future.” But in the hour and a half the event ran — commercial breaks featured “swinging 1960s” theme music for the “Dating Game” television show — the candidates treated the debate as if there were no particular theme they were expected to address.
Moderator John Andrews, a former state senate president and the director of the university’s conservative Centennial Institute, and four conservative women panelists asked few of the kinds of questions that will dominate debate in the general election.
There was nothing of note said about the heated subject of women’s health — about efforts in Washington and state capitols around the country including in Denver to shutter reproductive health and abortion clinics, to defund Planned Parenthood, to restrict access to contraception at state clinics, about the hardline anti-abortion “personhood” proposal likely to land on Colorado voter ballots this year — nothing on domestic violence policies and protections, university campus sexual harassment and assault, equal opportunities at school and in the workplace, discriminatory insurance policies, affordable day care, or even in any depth gender disparities in pay — the subject this week of national headlines after the firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. ...
Asked who they would name as a women in history they most respected (“other than your wife or your mother”) the candidates’ answers fell flat.
Beauprez talked about one of his bank employees. Kopp talked about a woman who supports his campaign. And Gessler said he admired Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony, which had the ring of a school-room response but from a student who may not have done all the homework. He said Helen Keller overcame hardship but never played the victim. He didn’t mention that the progressive-era American icon worked to win expanded voter rights, that she was an ardent socialist, a staunch supporter of worker rights, a fervent pacifist and a champion of birth control.
The answer suggested the ideological bind at work in the effort to court the women’s vote. The voting record in Colorado demonstrates that most women don’t take the position championed by Kafer at the debate. They embrace the role policymakers can play in bettering their lives in gender specific, even biologically inflected, ways. ...
In Hellen Keller’s day, women couldn’t vote. No amount of tax breaks or reduced fees on businesses would have granted them equal representation.
House Republicans are pushing to restrict a low-income food aid program to children in "rural" areas, a surprising move that has Democrats and nutrition advocates crying foul.
The proposal, included in the House agriculture budget approved by a subcommittee this week, scales back an anti-hunger school lunch demonstration program set up in 2010 to feed "children in urban and rural areas" during the summer months when they're on break.
As first reported by Politico's David Rogers, the GOP bill brings down the $85 million in funding to $27 million and limits the program to only rural kids in Appalachian counties. ...
But it isn't lost on Democrats that their constituents -- many of whom are struggling in poverty -- mostly reside in urban areas while rural areas tend to be packed with GOP voters. The Appalachian region is also more white (83.5 percent) than the United States overall (63.7 percent), according to the Appalachian Regional Commission -- and much more so than urban areas, which have a disproportionately high share of minorities.
Before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) fibbed and told a story at CPAC about free school lunches that turned out to be false, the meme had been long in the making as a conservative rallying cry about the evils of liberal ideology.
It was adopted in the Senate primaries by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who suggested in December that school kids "maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria" if they want to avail of free lunches. (Kingston, who is struggling in a three-way race with two ultraconservative opponents, was later found to have expensed nearly $4,200 in meals to his congressional office.) ...
The National School Lunch Program, which provides federal assistance for public and private schools to offer lunch to children, has been around since 1946. It feeds 17.5 million kids with free or reduced-cost lunches every school day. The lunch is free if their household earns below 130 percent of the federal poverty line, and cheaper if it's between 130 and 185 percent of poverty. It aims to address a real problem: three out of five teachers report that kids in their classrooms regularly come to school hungry, and a majority says the problem is getting worse, according to a survey by the advocacy group No Kid Hungry. ...
A parallel story that is aggravating conservative sentiments is First Lady Michelle Obama's effort to make kids healthier by overhauling nutrition standards for school lunches. Not only has it prompted howls of outrage from radio host Rush Limbaugh, it has motivated three Republican congressmen to introduce legislation that requires the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture to abide by the same nutrition standards. ...
It is a testament to the power of the idea among conservatives that Ryan's tale was not only second-hand from a state official in Wisconsin but also fictitious. He ended up apologizing for "failing to verify the original source of the story."
Giuseppe Ferrari, from GRIS, a Catholic research group that organised the conference, said there was an ever growing need for priests to be trained to perform exorcisms because of the increasing number of lay people tempted to dabble in black magic, paganism and the occult.
“We live in a disenchanted society, a secularised world that thought it was being emancipated, but where religion is being thrown out, the window is being opened to superstition and irrationality,” said Mr Ferrari. ...
About 250 priests were trained as exorcists in Italy, but many more were needed, the conference organisers claimed.
Pope Francis has frequently alluded to the Devil in his homilies and addresses since being elected to succeed Benedict XVI last March.
In a homily this week, he said that the Devil was behind the persecution of early Christian martyrs, who were murdered for their faith. The “struggle between God and the Devil” was constant and ongoing, he said.
"The government." Rione breathed a single, soft laugh though her expression didn't change. "You speak of 'the government' as if it were a single, monolithic beast of huge proportions, with countless hands but only a single brain controlling them. Turn that vision around, Admiral. Perhaps you should consider how things would be if the government was in fact a mammoth creature with a single tremendous hand but many brains trying to direct that hand in its powerful but clumsy efforts to do something, anything. You've seen the grand council at work. Which image seems more appropriate to you?"
His name is Mike Adams, the self-proclaimed Health Ranger, and his central hub—what amounts to his personal blog and general store—is NaturalNews.com, which offers a potpourri of offbeat theories about politics, science and health.
Adams site is the cyberspace version of the water cooler gathering spot for crackpot conspiracy theorists of the far left and right. His byline: “never trust official stories”.
Adam’s latest crusade: the world’s governments are covering up the fact that the doomed Malaysian Airlines jetliner was pirated safely to a desert hideaway by Iranian hijackers, and is now being refitted into a stealth nuclear bomb.
In recent months, Adams has claimed that high-dose Vitamin C injections, which he conveniently sells, have been shown to “annihilate cancer” (doctors warn high doses of vitamin C can be dangerous); that measles and mumps are making a comeback because vaccines are “designed to fail” (he’s an anti-vaccine campaigner); and that fluoridated water causes mental disorders. He is also an AIDS denialist, a 9/11 truther, a Barack Obama citizenship ‘birther’ and a believer in ‘dangerous’ chemtrails.
But his most heated attacks—and the ones that generate the most traffic and business on his websites and what has made him a oft-cited hero of anti-GMOers—are directed at conventional agriculture, crop biotechnology in particular.
In a recent screaming but typical headline, Adams claimed that research at his Natural News Forensic Food Labs—another of his bizarre websites—has turned up unequivocal evidence that corporations are intentionally engineering “life-destroying toxins” into our food supply, with genetically modified corn as one of the chief ‘weapons against humanity.’ ...
Adams is quite open about his business model: play on fear to make as much money as possible. To dispel any doubts about his real motivations, in 2008, he bragged publicly in his self-published book, The 7 Principles of Mindful Wealth, that his operating philosophy was “Getting past self-imposed limits on wealth… Karma doesn’t pay the rent. Good karma isn’t the recognized currency in modern society: Dollars are!”
"Do you believe that the justice system that we have inherited from the Syndicate Worlds needs to be fixed, Madam President?"
"Offhand, no," Iceni said. "It delivers punishment quickly and surely. The guilty do not escape. What would I fix?"
"The purpose of a justice system isn't to punish the guilty, Madam President. Punishment is easily administered. The reason a justice system exists is to protect the innocent."
Iceni stared at Marphissa in astonishment. "Where did you learn that?"
As one of those rare contrarian climate experts, he's often asked to testify before US Congress and interviewed by media outlets that want to present a 'skeptical' or false balance climate narrative. He's also a rather controversial figure, having made remarks about "global warming Nazis" and said,
"I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government."
9) Do We Look that Stupid? How do scientists expect to be taken seriously when their "theory" is supported by both floods AND droughts? Too much snow AND too little snow?
This question is a bit like asking, "Do I look fat?". Do you want an honest answer?
The warming of the atmosphere, happening especially at high latitudes, reduces the temperature difference between higher and lower latitudes. This tends to make storms move more slowly. This results in storms dumping more precipitation in localized areas, which causes more flooding in those areas and droughts outside of them. Higher temperatures also increase evaporation, exacerbating droughts and adding more moisture to the air for stronger storms. A climate scientist should understand these concepts.
You may have noticed some patterns in these questions. Most are based on false premises and are trivially simple to answer. These 'top ten good skeptic arguments' are frankly not very good or challenging. They also reveal a very one-sided skepticism, although to his credit Spencer did also list 10 'skeptic' arguments that don't hold water. These are glaringly wrong arguments like 'there is no greenhouse effect' and 'CO2 cools the atmosphere,' that some contrarians nevertheless believe. Interestingly, Spencer discusses the science disproving the 10 bad arguments, but there's no scientific discussion supporting his 'good' arguments.
From reading and answering Spencer's questions, we learn that the basic science behind how we know humans are causing global warming and that it's a problem are quite well-established. There are some remaining uncertainties, like how much warming is being offset by aerosol cooling, but overall we have a very strong understanding of the big picture. For quite a while now we've understood the Earth's climate well enough to know that we can't continue on our current high-risk path.
When will we stop using these trivially wrong contrarian arguments as an excuse for climate inaction? Now that's a tough question to answer.
Noting that he had traveled to Asia recently, Obama said: "The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days. I think they're still searching for their table."
The president saved his sharpest jabs for another cable news network. "The Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but as usual they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News!"
He added: "Let's face it, Fox. You'll miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya."