This is great - both the first part and the second part. (It doesn't actually go in the direction you expect,... which makes it even better, of course.)
Whither Trumpism? - Goodbye economic nationalism, hello even more racism.
18 minutes ago
“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily”, page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”
I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website.
Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.
It is increasingly difficult to find any unifying theory or rationale behind the Supreme Court's election and election financing decisions other than the goal of securing the electoral interests of the Republican party. That sounds harsh. But a simple process of elimination leaves little other conclusion. States rights, originalism, deference to legislatures, various constructions of democratic theory and a lot else are controlling except when they're not controlling. Most of the decisions line up with the conservative jurisprudence espoused by the Court's conservative semi-majority. Except when they don't. Cases are plucked out of the lower courts long before the high court has any obligation or need to intervene. The new case which will review the 'one person, one vote' rule which has been reining law for half a century would likely diminish the voting power of cities vs rural areas, minorities vs whites and Democrats vs Republicans, if decided on behalf of the plaintiffs. In other words, why not?
The prevailing images of protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over police killings of black men were of police in riot gear, handcuffed protesters, tear gas and mass arrests. The main images of a fatal gun battle between armed bikers and police in Waco, Texas, also showed mass arrests — carried out by nonchalant-looking officers sitting around calm bikers on cellphones.
The firefight in Waco is raising questions about perceptions and portrayals of crime in America, considering the vehement reaction that the earlier protests got from police, politicians and some members of the public.
Unlike in Ferguson and Baltimore, where protests went on for days, there was no live news coverage of the Waco shootout. And yet the incident at a Texas restaurant hasn't been used as a bridge to discuss other issues about families, poverty and crime, media critics, columnists and civil rights activists say.
They complain that there appears to be little societal concern about the gunplay at a restaurant in Texas, whereas politicians — including President Barack Obama — described violent looters in Baltimore as "thugs," and the media devoted hours of television and radio airtime to dissecting social ills that affect the black community. ...
Civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. said only minority communities get blamed for violence, while no one blames white families or white communities for fatal violence by white men, characterizing such events instead as "isolated incidents."
Coleman noted that protests, some violent, that flared up around the police killings of black men, most of which involved an overwhelmingly black crowd, were called "riots" while college and professional sports championship celebrations and losses that turned violent, most of which involved an overwhelmingly white crowd, are not.
"But when you look at Ferguson, or you look at a Baltimore, when you look at these sorts of incidents, we have a tendency vis-a-vis the media to actually question why it happened to the victim, and we go further and then we impute liability on the entire community and sort of do this systematic victim blaming of black America," he said.
As the GOP has quickly settled into a new consensus that the decision to invade Iraq was - at least in retrospect - a mistake, it has come with a willful amnesia bordering on a whole new generation of deceit about exactly what happened in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. To hear Republican presidential candidates tell it, Americans believed Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction which justified and necessitated the invasion. Since he didn't, there was no reason to invade. The carnage and collateral effects we've seen over the last dozen years only drives home the point: knowing what we know now, the invasion was a mistake. We wouldn't do it again.
While it's welcome to see the would-be heirs of President Bush, including his own brother, acknowledging the obvious, this history is such a staggering crock that it's critical to go back and review what actually happened. Some of this was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. Some was only obvious to reporters covering the story who were steeped in the details. And some was only obvious to government officials who in the nature of things controlled access to information. But in the tightest concentric circle of information, at the White House, it was obviously all a crock at the time.
While it is true that "WMD" was a key premise for the war, the sheer volume of lies, willful exaggerations and comically wishful thinking are the real story.
Let's start by reviewing some essential history and the several categories of willful lies that paved the ground for war.
First, it is true that US intelligence agencies believed well before President Bush even entered the White House in January 2001 that Saddam Hussein likely continued to possess or be developing some chemical and possible biological weapons capacity, as he had prior the Gulf War in 1991. Other Western intelligence agencies believed the same. But the nerve gas that Saddam used against Kurdish civilians in the 1980s never posed any imminent threat to the United States or really any direct threat to the United States mainland at all. These junior WMDs were a real issue. And that is why there was a broad consensus in favor of re-instituting the inspections regime that had been in place into the 1990s.
It was from this kernel of truth that the Bush administration and numerous neoconservatives policy experts and propagandists spun up a web of lies and willful exaggerations that goaded the country - already traumatized and angry after the 9/11 attacks - into war.
It is very important to remember that before we invaded, Saddam Hussein actually did allow inspectors back into the country, thus undermining the key argument for following through with the threat of invasion in the first place. But the critical point is that we didn't invade Iraq because we had "faulty" intelligence that Iraq still had stockpiles of sarin gas. The invasion was justified and sold to the American public on the twin frauds of the Iraq-al Qaeda alliance and the Saddam's supposedly hidden nuclear program. As much as the White House and the key administration war hawks like Vice President Cheney tried to get the Intelligence Community to buy into these theories, they never did. And to anyone paying attention, certainly anyone reporting on these matters at the time, it was clear at the time this was nonsense and a willful deception.
The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.
To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. ...
Even as their numbers decline, American Christians – like the U.S. population as a whole – are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Non-Hispanic whites now account for smaller shares of evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics than they did seven years earlier, while Hispanics have grown as a share of all three religious groups. Racial and ethnic minorities now make up 41% of Catholics (up from 35% in 2007), 24% of evangelical Protestants (up from 19%) and 14% of mainline Protestants (up from 9%).
As the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated continue to grow, they also describe themselves in increasingly secular terms. In 2007, 25% of the “nones” called themselves atheists or agnostics; 39% identified their religion as “nothing in particular” and also said that religion is “not too” or “not at all” important in their lives; and 36% identified their religion as “nothing in particular” while nevertheless saying that religion is either “very important” or “somewhat important” in their lives. The new survey finds that the atheist and agnostic share of the “nones” has grown to 31%. Those identifying as “nothing in particular” and describing religion as unimportant in their lives continue to account for 39% of all “nones.” But the share identifying as “nothing in particular” while also affirming that religion is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them has fallen to 30% of all “nones.”
Wyoming doesn’t, of course, care about pictures of geysers or photo competitions. But photos are a type of data, and the new law makes it a crime to gather data about the condition of the environment across most of the state if you plan to share that data with the state or federal government. The reason? The state wants to conceal the fact that many of its streams are contaminated by E. coli bacteria, strains of which can cause serious health problems, even death. A small organization called Western Watersheds Project (which I represent pro bono in an unrelated lawsuit) has found the bacteria in a number of streams crossing federal land in concentrations that violate water quality standards under the federal Clean Water Act. Rather than engaging in an honest public debate about the cause or extent of the problem, Wyoming prefers to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. And under the new law, the state threatens anyone who would challenge that belief by producing information to the contrary with a term in jail.
Why the desire for ignorance rather than informed discussion? The reason is pure politics. The source of E. coli is clear. It comes from cows spending too much time in and next to streams. Acknowledging that fact could result in rules requiring ranchers who graze their cows on public lands to better manage their herds. The ranching community in Wyoming wields considerable political power and has no interest in such obligations, so the state is trying to stop the flow of information rather than forthrightly address the problem.
For being the “most despised and distrusted group in America”, we do fairly well. Atheists tend to be better educated and a bit more well off than many believers; I can walk down an upscale suburban street and not get hassled by the police or shot. Ask a black atheist or a woman atheist which aspect of their identity is most likely to get them discriminated against, and it usually won’t be their atheism.
So back off on the persecution theme, already. Leave that to the Christians.
In November 1898, white supremacist forces in Wilmington, North Carolina planned and executed the only coup d’etat in American history, overthrowing the city’s democratically elected Fusion Party officials and installing their own officials in their stead. Over the subsequent days, in a similarly and concurrently orchestrated series of events, rampaging mobs, featuring both white Wilmingtonians and members of militias from around the state, attacked and brutalized the city’s African American community, murdering many residents, forcing most of the others to abandon their homes and community, and burning much of it to the ground.
Members of that African American community tried to tell the rest of the nation what was happening, as exemplified by an anonymous woman who wrote a desperate plea to President McKinley requesting federal protection (her letter went unanswered). But it was instead the white supremacists whose version of the story became the nationally accepted one, a process that began immediately and culminated a few weeks later when Alfred Waddell, a former Confederate officer and one of the supremacist leaders, wrote “The Story of the Wilmington, N.C., Race Riots” for the popular publication Collier’s. Waddell’s story, accompanied by H. Ditzler’s cover illustration of marauding armed African Americans, led to the designation of the coup and massacre as a “race riot,” a description that has continued to this day.
The decades after Wilmington saw many more such massacres: Atlanta in 1906, Springfield (Illinois) in 1908, East St. Louis (also Illinois) in 1917, Chicago in 1919, Tulsa in 1921, and Detroit in 1943, among others. While there were certainly unique details in each case, the fundamental story remained the same: rampaging white mobs destroying business and homes and brutalizing citizens of the cities’ African American communities. In Tulsa, as in Wilmington, the mob mounted a machine gun on a vehicle and rolled it through the streets, firing at will. And in each case, in both the contemporary national media coverage and the subsequent historical accounts of the massacres, they were consistently (if not indeed solely) described as “race riots.”