Monday, April 25, 2016

World Malaria Day 2016

Per the CDC we saw a 40 year high in new malaria cases in the United States in 2013; this is in spite of malaria being supposedly eliminated from within our borders. Part of the problem with malaria and other insect borne disease is of course the creep northward of previously unseen species that are disease vectors for malaria and other illnesses, due to global warming.

It would be nice to believe that we are approaching the eradication of malaria, except that we aren't.

It is true that we have made, world-wide, tremendous strides in reducing the disease, but we are now on the third wave of medication resistant versions of the disease, and we have begun to lose ground again. The best coverage of the problem, along with potential solutions and funding, can be found here at the very excellent site, Project Syndicate's coverage here.

So please stop for a moment and take note of this old, long-standing plague on mankind, and consider that we have the means and the opportunity to do something about it now, while it is relatively small and slow, but we have to have the awareness and the political will to do so.

Friday, April 15, 2016

If you don't support the Constitution for everyone, you don't support the Constitution

image courtesy of Imagine magazine
NOT an actual photo of
TN State Rep. Jeremy Durham
It has long been my contention that conservatives give lip service to the Constitution, but do not in practice support the content in that Constitution.

The continuing hypocritical efforts of conservatives, particularly those who are southern evangelicals, demonstrate equally a desperate desire to regulate the lives of others, demanding conformity to their own beliefs, while not themselves behaving consistently with those beliefs.  We have the interference in the lives of other people, while not managing one's own very well, in the example of Tennessee's own state representative Jeremy Durham, pervert for Jesus.

Evangelical Tennessee State Rep Jeremy Durham Is 'Banished' From Capitol Complex After THIRTY FOUR Women Accuse Him Of Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Lawmakers in Tennessee have 'banished' a state representative by moving his office at the state Capitol complex after more than three dozen women have accused him of inappropriate behavior. Rep. Jeremy Durham's office is being moved to the ground floor of a building across the street from the Capitol, House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Thursday. According to Attorney General Herbert Slatery's memorandum to Harwell, he is investigating Durham's 'pattern of conduct' toward women after 34 current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and interns allege that he made sexual comments, used his position to obtain personal contact information from women, try to meet women alone, involve alcohol in his interactions with women and inappropriate physical contact with them while working at Legislative Plaza, CBS News reported.
I have to wonder if Jeremy Durham will have any office when the next election cycle comes around in Tennessee, not even one across the street.  But then again, by promoting the anti-LGBT bathroom harassment bill, he might get in good with those other pervy and ignorant conservative Evangelicals again.  They go in for a lot of forgiveness so long as one conforms and grovels sufficiently, as we have seen in the past.
The establishment clause of the Constitution requires no preferential treatment of religion. That is simple enough, yet conservatives tend as a group, over and over, to attempt to replace democracy with theocracy.

We see it in the mediocre legislators of Tennessee who are persisting in trying to give preferential treatment to the Bible.  Thurs. (April 14th) Gov. Haslam vetoed an attempt to make the Bible the official book of the frankly mediocre at best state of Tennessee.

But the conservative religious extremists in government are hell-bent on pushing this through anyway, and don't give a tinker's damn about the provisions of religious freedom in the Constitution.

From the Raw Story:
The lawmakers who sponsored the measure vowed to hold a vote that would overrule Haslam’s veto. A simple majority in each legislative chamber would overrule his decision.
“According to polling, 62 percent of all Tennesseans favor making the Holy Bible the state book in order to recognize its significance from a historical, economic and cultural standpoint,” the House sponsor, Representative Jerry Sexton, said.
“Senator (Steve) Southerland and I are prepared to move forward with a veto override and we plan to do exactly that.”
Because Tennessee is, apparently, not dumb enough or second rate enough without that next step?  Seriously, this is a state legislature which has far more important and far more legitimate issues with which to properly concern itself than forcing their religion on people.

It made an interesting cab ride recently where my driver, whom we'll call Tom, knowing I do research especially fact checking, asked me if it were true, as he had heard on right wing talk radio (an occupational hazard of cab driving apparently) that four out of the five first presidents had been either ordained as clergy or held a degree in religion of some kind, and therefore that was the reason we have "In God We Trust" on our money and "under God" in the pledge of allegiance.  And no, none of those first five presidents were particularly religious; in fact George Washington is on record as never having taken communion and rarely attended church, and the other four were Deists.

We have been stuck (for the moment) with "In God We Trust" and "under God" because President Eisenhower (I DO like Ike, as Republican presidents go) made a deal with a group in politics known as 'the family', the same bunch of people who started the National Prayer Breakfast.  They are the same group who tried to get the death penalty for being LGBT in Uganda with pseudo-science.  So, we have the family influence continuing in politics, pushing an extreme form of religion, after their early success; but we also got the Interstate Highway Program which dramatically contributed to our success post WW II. 

I'd call that a barely fair tradeoff of good (the highway system) for evil (crackpot religious conservatism).


Monday, April 11, 2016

Why would Muslims be antagonistic? Why AREN'T they?

Several stories have caught my attention in the past few days. 

One was the news that between 2000 and 2014, hate crimes against Muslims had increased 800%, even as hate crimes overall - at least, those that were reported - were declining.

Another story was the news from the WaPo that the perpetrator and planner of the terrorist attacks in Paris had been arrested, through the direct action and cooperation of a Muslim woman cooperating with authorities (and her husband).  Without this help, it is not certain that the lead Paris terrorist or the related Belgian terrorists, who targeted Brussels in lieu of further attacks on Paris.  As noted in the WaPo piece, one woman helped authorities, while another woman, one alienated by her surrounding culture, helped the terrorists, if only marginally.
“It’s important the world knows that I am Muslim myself,” the woman said, citing that as a reason for being willing to speak to The Post. “It’s important to me that people know what Abaaoud and the others did is not what Islam is teaching.”
And then there were the assorted stories where conservative candidates for President, and their assorted official advisers, advocate EXACTLY the kind of thinking that ENCOURAGES hate crime attacks on Muslims, and DISCOURAGES the very essential cooperation of Muslims to combat terrorism.  That ranges from fear peddling false stories about sharia law in cities like Minneapolis, to banning Muslims (except a few rich personal friends of Drumpf) from entering the country.

We have Ted Cruz wanting to turn Muslim neighborhoods into heavily patrolled police states, not unlike the Nazis did with Jews. Cruz claims when pressed that he would work with Muslim community leaders, but his tone and intent give no basis for those communities or their leaders to work with him.   And we have Donny Drumpf advocating that along with torture for Muslim prisoners, and the killing of their families, which would be a human rights violation.

I doubt law enforcement would be willing to cooperate.  As noted by anti-terrorism expert in the city of New York, site of the 9/11 attack (among others) :
Both de Blasio and Bratton pointed out that the NYPD has more than 900 active Muslim officers.
“I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty,” Bratton said. “They serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator [Cruz] has never seen.” [or Trump/Drumpf either -DG].

I don't know about you, but that certainly would not motivate me to cooperate with authorities, and that kind of antagonistic proposals would certainly provoke the opposite response.   This is an insult to all of the Muslims, and there are many, who have put their lives in danger to defend this country against all threats, including terrorism.  This is an insult to the many Muslim members of law enforcement as well, who protect this country, as noted by authorities in cities like New York, scene of the 9/11 attacks. 

As noted by alternet:
Of course, the claim that Muslims pose a greater threat is patently false. There is a long and disturbing history of domestic terrorism committed by people of Christian backgrounds, from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Charleston church massacre. A report released last year by the New America research group found that, since September 11, 2001, non-Muslim domestic terrorists posed the greatest security threat.

We have insanely false statements made by the Cruz campaign advisers and supporters. One example would be Clare Lopez, who made inflammatory false claims on St. Cloud radio, unchecked by a crackpot right wing radio host and hate monger.

From the City Pages:
Clare Lopez told her lie on something called "Ox in the Afternoon," a St. Cloud-based radio show, where she implied that Minneapolis was setting itself up for a Brussels-style terrorist attack by giving over control of the streets to religious law. "In Minneapolis, for example," Lopez said, "places where police don't go, because they know they'll be attacked, have been attacked in the past, and places where police know Shariah is being practiced." Once Clare had established the underlying lie, she expanded. "Now, Americans might not know this, but, under Shariah, honor killing, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, underage and polygamous marriage, are all part of Shariah. Those are all part of Shariah." Lopez went on to imply that Minneapolis was, by allowing the made-up stuff she just talked about, making itself vulnerable to a homegrown terrorist attack. "Because we have, like Europe, like Western Europe, allowed in, and invited in, populations of Muslim migrants and refugees, who do not have the same worldview — the same principles, the democratic, constitutional principles that we live by in this country — their worldview is completely different than all of that. Because we've invited them in and allowed them not to assimilate, we are inviting the same kind of problems here that we're seeing in places like Brussels, Belgium, and Paris, France."
This reminds me of the shallow and simplistic thinking we saw from the right to protect the US from an epidemic of Ebola, recommendations which the science and medical communities argues were the worst possible responses (like banning travel from Africa) combined with unconstitutional actions against Americans. These are people, whatever level of education they have attained, who respond with emotions, with feelings, not with rational thought, reason or logic. These right wingers endanger us all, both inside and outside our borders.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The last gasp of the Leith NoDak takeover attempt by Craig Cobb, Trump supporter

In the 2016 election cycle, no surprise, given the pandering to white supremacists by Donald Drumpf and his family, Craig Cobb is a supporter.  Last October Nightline did an interview with Cobb.

Cobb is delusional if he thinks the problems people have with him are in any way discriminatory or contrary to his first amendment rights.  It is a sadly conservative phenomenon when those who attempt to victimize others then claim THEY are the victims when it doesn't go well.  It is endemic among conservatives.

Trump-Loving Racist Craig Cobb Repeatedly Calls Nightline Anchor Byron Pitts N-Word During Interview

While recently doing a story about known White Supremacist Craig Cobb, ABC producer Jasmine Brown and anchor Byron Pitts were subject to hateful tirades and now the story has been brought to life through a produced video by timesXtwo.

 “He is very much in love with Donald Trump,” adds Brown. She continues to describe a line of Cobb’s saying, “I would almost rather talk to a Jew, because then at least they would be intelligent.”



The final closing of the book on the attempted white supremacist takeover by Craig Cobb in the tiny town of Leith, North Dakota took place last week, just as TPT was running the documentary of the takeover on public television. 

It is worth watching the independent documentary Welcome to Leith here.

From KVRR:

North Dakota Officials Close Craig Cobb Investigation

BISMARCK, N.D. - State officials have closed their investigation into ten human rights complaints filed by white supremacist Craig Cobb.

Cobb alleged discrimination because of his white supremacy religious views.
The Department of Labor and Human Rights rejected all of the complaints, including one Cobb filed against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who's running for governor.
Cobb and one of his crazy side-kicks, an Ichabod Crane lookalike named Kynan Dutton, were arrested and spent some time in jail for terrorizing the town of Leith before making a plea deal.

Had Cobb and his confederates been smarter and had more money, they might have pulled off their town takeover.  This kind of neo-Nazi intimidation is not a smart way to try to take over a town; you can count on push back.  Meet your not-so-friendly neighborly Trump supporters, and those with whom they choose to associate under the 1A..