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Donald Trump Has an Accused Cult Leader Proselytizing on His Behalf

March 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Jacob Sugarman, AlterNet

Stefan Molyneux's message to his acolytes is as simple as it is insidious.


Eight years ago, Barbara Weed returned to her South Leamington home in the U.K. to find a message from her son, Tom. He was moving in with a friend, he informed her, and she shouldn't try to contact him. Weed hasn't had direct contact with her son since, and knows only that he's living in a foreign country. 

“It’s a pattern all too familiar for some families who’ve had a child watch [Stefan] Molyneux’s videos and listen to his podcasts,” writes Ben Collins in the Daily Beast. “At first, it’s just their kid watching videos about something controversial but familiar—The MatrixThe Martian, or Donald Trump. Then, a few months and a few more podcasts later, there’s a note on the door. After that moment, they never see their child again.”

Molyneux, a self-styled anarcho-capitalist with ties to the so-called alt-right, is among the president's most prominent proselytizers. As Collins' report makes clear, he's also an accused cult leader.

Among Molyneux's more effective tools of indoctrination is a lengthy video posted to the website UnTruthAboutDonaldTrump.com deconstructing what he contends are the media's willful misconceptions about our reality show host-cum-president. Molyneux insists he simply wants to provide a “fair assessment of the man's character,” acknowledging Trump's policies and positions are “well worth an examination, and certainly not above criticism.”

“For the first few minutes, it’s hard to disagree with him,” Collins notes. “Molyneux, slowly reading along from a PowerPoint-like text of talking points, breaks down passages from Trump’s Art of the Deal. He contends that Trump can’t possibly be as dimwitted as the media makes him out to be and convincingly argues that it all must be part of Trump’s plan…He is charismatic, open, immediately transfixing—almost enough for you to forget the video’s 73-minute run time.”

While his recordings indulge far-right grievances ranging from feminism and multiculturalism to postcolonial themes in Marvel's Black Panther, Molyneux's message to his acolytes is as simple as it is insidious: families are inherently abusive and must therefore be renounced. Molyneux calls this process “deFOOing” from one's “family …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Robert Reich: 6 Ways Millennials Will Clean Up the Mess Baby Boomers Left Them (Video)

March 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, RobertReich.org

Luckily, they're well equipped for the job.


Baby Boomers—my generation, born between 1946 and 1964—dominated politics and the economy for years. There were just more boomers than people of any other generation. But that’s no longer the case. Now, the biggest generation is the millennials, born between 1983 and 2000.

Millennials are different from boomers in 6 important ways that will shape the future.

1. Millennials are more diverse than boomers—so as millennials gain clout, expect America to become more open. More than 44 percent of millennials identify as a race other than white. And they’re more accepting of immigrants: 69 percent of millennials think that newcomers strengthen American society, compared to 44 percent of boomers.

2. Millennials are more distrustful of the political system than boomers—so as millennials gain power, expect more anti-establishment politics. A strong majority of millennials think the country is on the wrong track. Most disapprove of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Virtually no millennials—only 6 percent—strongly approve of Donald Trump, compared to 63 percent who disapprove. A strong majority—71 percent—want a third major party to compete with Democrats and Republicans.

3. Most millennials have a tougher financial road than boomers—so expect them to demand changes in how we finance higher education. According to Pew Research, millennials are the first generation in the modern era, “to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty, and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than any other generation at the same stage of life.” No surprise, then, that millennials are living at home much longer than previous generations, and getting married later.

4. Millennials view the social safety net differently than boomers—so expect them to demand that Medicare and Social Security are strengthened. As boomers move into older age, more and more of the federal budget is going into Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Many millennials even doubt Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will be there for them when they retire.

5. Millennials care more about the environment—so expect them to demand stronger environmental protection. Over 90 percent of them believe climate change is occurring, compared with …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Scientists Have Established a Link Between Brain Damage and Religious Fundamentalism

March 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Bobby Azarian, Raw Story

This explains a lot about our current political situation.


study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective.

To investigate the cognitive and neural systems involved in religious fundamentalism, a team of researchers—led by Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University—conducted a study that utilized data from Vietnam War veterans that had been gathered previously. The vets were specifically chosen because a large number of them had damage to brain areas suspected of playing a critical role in functions related to religious fundamentalism. CT scans were analyzed comparing 119 vets with brain trauma to 30 healthy …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Stephen Hawking

March 14, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking on October 10, 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey. (Credit: Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018—also known as Pi Day—at age 76. The scientist stands out for his significant contributions to the field of cosmology, the study of the origin and development of the universe. During his career, Hawking became a cultural icon who tried to make scientific concepts accessible to the wider community.

His 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, set a Guinness World Record by staying on the Sunday Times best-seller list for four and a half years. Still, the book’s discussion of concepts like time, space, black holes, and the Big Bang proved to be a bit complex for non-scientists, and Hawking liked to joke that it was the least-read, most-purchased book in history. That’s why in 2005, he published a more accessible version of the original called A Briefer History of Time.

Hawking was so well-known that during his lifetime, he appeared on TV shows like Star Trek, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In addition, actor Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in The Theory of Everything. But despite his popularity, there’s still a lot you might not know about him.

Doctors told him he wouldn’t live past his early 20s

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking on October 10, 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey. (Credit: Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, when he was only 21. ALS affects the nerve cells involved in voluntary muscle movement, decreasing a person’s ability to move and speak over time. Usually, symptoms develop after age 50, and lead to death within a few months or years.

So when doctors diagnosed Hawking with ALS at the extremely young age of 21, the predicted he would only live a couple of years. Instead, he lived for 55 more years.

“The human race,” he said, “is so puny compared to the universe that being disabled is not of much cosmic significance.”

He was a wild wheelchair driver

Hawking began using crutches after his diagnosis in the ‘60s, and resisted transitioning to a wheelchair. But once he started, he was reportedly a pretty wild driver.

“There’s an apocryphal story out there—I don’t know if it’s true—that he actually ran over Prince Charles’ toes,” says Kristine M. Larsen, a professor astronomy …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why MLK Encouraged 225,000 Chicago Kids to Cut Class in 1963

March 14, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Flyer advertising Freedom Day School Boycott, an event to protest school segregation in Chicago, Illinois, 1963. (Credit: Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Arydell Spinks had 12 children, but on October 22, 1963, seven of them missed school.

“If they miss tests scheduled for that day and are marked ‘truant,’ that’s just too bad,” wrote the Chicago Defender in an article about Spinks’ plan to keep her kids home from school.

Spinks’ children weren’t contending with stomach bugs—they were boycotting school segregation in Chicago’s public schools. They were part of “Freedom Day,” a massive, but little remembered attempt to obtain educational equity in Chicago’s fragmented school district. The protest, which was supported by Martin Luther King, Jr., involved over 200,000 children and tens of thousands of adults.

The protest was designed to call attention to segregation in Chicago schools. Nearly a decade earlier, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka had made segregated public education unconstitutional. But though Chicago schools didn’t have an overt segregation policy, they were still starkly divided between black and white students.

Flyer advertising Freedom Day School Boycott, an event to protest school segregation in Chicago, Illinois, 1963. (Credit: Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Schools in black neighborhoods were in much worse condition than those in white neighborhoods. Many schools were so crowded that students had to attend in shifts; by 1960, up to 33,000 black students only attended school for four hours a day so that their schools could accommodate all their enrolled students. Auditoriums, basements, cafeterias and even hallways became classrooms. Supplies were at a premium.

Benjamin Willis, the Chicago Public Schools superintendent, refused to address what amounted to de facto segregation. When asked why black schools were so much more run-down than white ones, writes historian John L. Rury, Willis “claimed not to know how many Black or White students were enrolled in particular schools, since the district maintained ‘no record of race, color or creed of any student or employee.’”

Willis was heralded for improving conditions in schools in majority-white areas, but schools in black areas became even worse. At the height of the crisis, class sizes were 25 percent larger in African-American schools, black students received only two-thirds of the expenditures received by white students, and many classes in black schools were crammed with over 40 students at a time.

The huge gaps between schools in Chicago was due, in part, to a discriminatory practice called redlining, which allowed for more investment in majority-white areas. In the 1930s, the Federal Housing …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Legal Immigration Has Soared as Illegal Entries Have Dwindled

March 14, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

Here’s the paradox of immigration in America right now: The
economy is roaring, and wages are rising, yet 2017 was another year
of virtually no illegal border crossings. On average, each Border
Patrol agent apprehended just 16 people all year — one every
three weeks, tied for the lowest rate since World War II. This is
down from when Border Patrol agents apprehended an average of 261
crossers per agent in 1996.

Where have the illegal crossers gone? Newly released statistics
from the Department of State give a plausible answer: They haven’t
disappeared; they’ve become legal.

The 16 apprehensions per agent in the entire year was
significantly fewer than the 21 apprehensions that each agent was
making in a month throughout the 1990s. This figure actually
overstates the agency’s current workload because so many of today’s
“apprehensions” are, in fact, asylum seekers, families and
unaccompanied children who turn themselves in to the agents.

Changes in Mexico’s
economy, border security and demographics all played a role in the
steady reduction in illegal immigration. But one factor deserves
far more attention than it has received so far: Legal entries are
becoming the norm.

Of course, many factors affect the number of border crossers.
Changes in Mexico’s economy, border security and demographics all
played a role in the steady reduction in illegal immigration. But
one factor deserves far more attention than it has received so far:
Legal entries are becoming the norm.

From 1996 to 2017, the number of temporary visas issued to
seasonal workers on farms and other industries increased tenfold,
from 23,204 to 236,695. Even while Congress has done little on
other immigration issues, seasonal worker programs have gradually
expanded.

Entries using these visas have increased twice as fast as the
number of legal documents issued themselves, meaning that each
worker is crossing back and forth legally in a way that was much
less common in 1996. This is partly because an increasing share of
the visas are going to Mexican workers who can easily criss-cross
the border. In 1996, Mexicans made just 60 percent of all border
crossing entries. In 2016, that figure was 90 percent.

While Border Patrol has tripled its manpower and constructed a
system of more than 600 miles of fences and barriers during this
period, increased security is not the primary explanation for the
reduction in illegal immigration. We know this because it hasn’t
actually worked very well. According to the Department of Homeland
Security, the agency caught only half of the people who actually
attempted to evade entry in 2014 and 2015 (i.e., not the asylum
seekers or children). The best estimate by Princeton University’s
Douglas …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Veganism Is Being Redefined in Black Communities

March 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Robin Scher, AlterNet

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More people are connecting the health implications of a vegan diet with the struggle against race-based oppression.


Food is a key part of any culture. Take the USA: Could there be a more potent symbol of all things Americana than BBQ? For many, to go against this national pastime amounts to a form of treason. Which is why it should cause little surprise to learn that a new culture has begun to take root among African Americans: veganism.

In years past, this dietary decision was largely associated with being, like, super white. In part, this could be due to the fact that avoiding all animal products is seen as a bourgeois indulgence, enjoyed by the sorts of people who like to proclaim that “All Lives Matter.” That perception is starting to shift.

“The black vegan movement is one of the most diverse, decolonial, complex and creative movements,” said Aph Ko, founder of the website Black Vegans Rock, in a recent New York Times article. And Ko should know. Back in 2015, she compiled a list of “100 Black Vegans” to highlight the fact that veganism is more than just an animal welfare-based lifestyle choice. Listed among Ko's cohorts are a diverse group of individuals such as civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, neo-soul superstar Erykah Badu, the Williams sisters, and comedian Dick Gregory.

The Times listed a number of other notable vegans: Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtics is just one of a number of professional basketball players to stop eating meat, prompting Kip Andersen (director of the documentary “What the Health”) to proclaim in an article for the Bleacher Report that the NBA should be renamed the National Vegan Association.

Animals and race

A number of factors account for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Millions of Dogs Brutally Killed Every Year in Misguided Attempt to Stop Rabies' Spread

March 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Pankaj KC, AlterNet

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Our fear of rabies has led to cruel and illogical responses. Vaccination programs are helping.


With the Chinese New Year’s start last month, the Year of the Dog is now underway. For many of us, dogs are beloved members of the family. In numerous countries, dogs are not only companion animals, but they’re also valuable community members, guarding farm animals and people from intruders and wild predators. Of the estimated 700 million dogs on the planet, an estimated 75 percent are stray or free-roaming.  And it may be a surprise to learn that up to 10 million of these dogs are brutally killed every single year, primarily in a misguided attempt to stop the spread of rabies.

Although canine rabies has been eliminated in the United States and across the developed world, this disease is still a dire global problem—a forgotten crisis. Some 59,000 people around the world still die of rabies every year, most of them children. Ninety-nine percent of human rabies cases are transmitted by dog bites.

When dogs contract rabies, they suffer a violent, distressing death. But many millions of dogs also suffer cruelty at the hands of governments and local communities fearful of the disease. The most frequent response to rabies outbreaks is mass dog culling, perceived as a cheap and easy way to control the disease. But mass culls have consistently failed to stop the spread of rabies, no matter how many dogs are killed. And such culls typically use highly cruel methods—such as electrocution, shooting, poisoning, or simply beating dogs to death.

Fear of rabies leads to the long and painful deaths of dogs who have done nothing wrong and are not infected. But this problem is one we can solve: by vaccinating the majority of dogs in …read more

Source: ALTERNET