March 31, 2016

Sanctuary Cities Are Threat To Public Safety

[From article]
In the wake of the terror attacks in Belgium, news reports once again focused on how so-called “No Go Zones” in Europe create neighborhoods where communities develop that, although are geographically located within major cities, insulate themselves from their surroundings, fostering the mindset that cooperating with law enforcement is dangerous and even traitorous.
The residents eye law enforcement officers with great suspicion if not outright animosity. The situation is exacerbated because while they fear law enforcement, they may well also fear their neighbors who may take revenge against them for cooperating with law enforcement.
These neighborhoods become “cultural islands” that eschew the cultures and values of the cities and countries in which they grow -- a virtual malignancy that ultimately comes to threaten its host city and country because within this cocoon radical Islamists are shielded from law enforcement, find shelter and support and an ample supply of potential terror recruits.
These communities are inhabited by many Muslim refugees who cannot be effectively screened.
This makes assimilation by the residents of these isolated communities unlikely if not impossible and creates breeding grounds for crime and, in this era and under these circumstances- breeding grounds for terrorism.
[. . .]
Back when I was an INS agent, we had an expression- “Big cases- big problems; Little cases- little problems; No cases- no problems!” That phrase applies to all law enforcement officers.
When police or other law enforcement officers are put into a classic “no win” situation, their commonsense solution is to make their own survival and well-being their priority by minimizing their contacts with such enclaves and taking the fewest actions possible within those communities.
Not unlike the “No Go Zones” of European countries, these communities in the Unites States also tend to shield foreign nationals who may be fugitives from justice both inside the United States and in other countries. Terrorists and their supporters are able to go about their daily lives- undetected by law enforcement agencies.
Implementation of sanctuary policies in such cities greatly exacerbates the threats posed to national security and public safety- turning those cities into magnets that attract still more radicals and fugitives and terrorists who need to “fly under the radar.”
Any community that provides safe haven for illegal aliens willfully endangers the lives of it residents.
[. . .]
Incredibly, New York's Mayor Bill De Blasio, not content to simply continue the dangerous- indeed deadly sanctuary policies, has amped up the threats to New York and New Yorkers- and indeed the United States, by issuing “Municipal Identity Documents” to illegal aliens.
[. . .]

“The 19 hijackers used 364 aliases, including different spellings of their names and noms de guerre.4 As they passed through various countries, their names were recorded by governments and their intelligence and border authorities.”
Providing official identity documents to illegal aliens, whose true identities are unknown and unknowable, enables them to create new false identities and a level of credibility they are easily able to exploit as an embedding tactic. Criminals and terrorists use changes in identity the way that chameleons use changes in coloration- as camouflage that enables them to hide in plain sight, often among their intended victims.
Donald Trump has recommended that the United States, at least temporarily, bar Muslims from entering the United States.
In my judgement this solution is not realistic. While the President can order a ban on the admission of all foreign Muslims, it would be impossible to implement. Terrorists and others who were determined to enter the United States could simply lie about their religious beliefs. Aliens who enter the United States without inspection are not screened. We already have large numbers of Muslims living in the United States.
The First Amendment provides for freedom of religion and understandably, many Americans are repulsed at the thought of making religious distinctions where the admission of aliens is concerned.
A far better solution would be to beef up the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States and focus a major component of the enforcement effort on seeking to locate and apprehend illegal aliens, irrespective of religion, from countries associated with terrorism.

How sanctuary cities facilitate the growth of terror enclaves in America.
March 31, 2016

Europeans Ignore Numerous Books About Threats to Cultural Survival

Winston Churchill

[From article]
While England Slept is the title of Winston Churchill’s 1938 book documenting the failure of England to counter Germany’s rearmament. Despite the gruesome price paid for ignoring Churchill’s warnings, postwar Europe has slumbered for decades while its cultural dysfunctions have nurtured the jihadist violence erupting across Europe. Last week’s attacks in Brussels, coming four months after the Paris attacks that killed 130, suggests there are more attacks to come. According to AP, 400-600 ISIS-trained terrorists are making their way to Europe.
Europe can’t say it wasn’t warned. In 2002 Oriana Fallaci published The Rage and the Pride, a passionate defense of Western civilization and an indictment of those who appease Islamic illiberalism. Ten years ago Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept gave first-hand reports of Europe’s feckless immigration policies that fostered and appeased Muslim radicalism and violence. A year later Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe and Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan sounded the same alarms. And there are the dystopian novels of Michel Houellebecq like Platform and last year’s Submission, which link Europe’s cultural and spiritual exhaustion to the rise of homegrown jihadism and Islamization.
An even more important prophet is Bat Ye’or, whose Eurabia (2005) documented “Europe’s evolution from a Judeo-Christian civilization, with important post-Enlightenment secular elements, into a post-Judeo-Christian civilization that is subservient to the ideology of jihad and the Islamic powers that propagate it.” The result is the dhimmi mentality of Europe’s elites, which manifests in word and deed Western inferiority to Islam, and guilt over alleged crimes against the Muslim world.
[. . .]
Islam’s nature, Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna wrote, is “to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations, and extend its power to the entire planet.” Fellow Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb concurred: “Islam has a right to remove all those obstacles which are in its path.” The Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Iranian Revolution, agreed: “The great prophet of Islam carried in one hand the Koran and in the other a sword; the sword is for crushing the traitor and the Koran for guidance . . . Islam is a religion of blood for infidels but a religion of guidance for other people.”
[. . .]
As such, the jihadist imperative, despite anticolonial and nationalist rhetoric, was the foundational motivation for the military attacks on Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and today it still drives the terror campaigns against Israel waged by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO. Jihad in the name of Allah sparked the Iranian Revolution of 1979,
[. . .]
Nor has the West been spared. Jihad lay at the heart of al Qaeda’s serial attacks on the U.S. and its military in 1993 (first World Trade Center bombing), 1996 (Khobar Towers), 1998 (East African embassies), 2000 (U.S.S. Cole), and the spectacular carnage of September 11, 2001, as well as inspiring the terrorist murders in Madrid (2004), London (2005), Fort Hood (2013), Boston (2013), San Bernardino (2015), Paris (January and November, 2015), and now Brussels. And don’t forget the torture, rape, and murders perpetrated by ISIS, the latest and most successful example of modern jihadism inspired by traditional Islamic doctrine.
We know the terrorists’ Islamic bona fides because they continually tell us why they want to kill us, in speeches, internet videos, and writings filled with Koranic verses and precedents from the life of Mohammed. Yet despite this evidence, elites in Europe and the U.S. refuse to confront the religious origins of jihadism, settling for the stale environmental and psychological causes dear to the materialist mentality. Thus they continue to chant the “nothing to do with Islam” mantra, as our president did in response to the Brussels attack. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic,’” the president asserted. “No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.” The first two clauses are patently false to Koranic commands and Islamic history, and the third is a non sequitur.
But the most powerful refutation of this common delusion is the scarcity of public protests by observant Muslims against the “extremists” who allegedly have “hijacked” their faith. After each jihadist atrocity there is typically more celebratory ululation and cries of “Allahu Akbar” in the Muslim world than marches against terrorism by heretical “extremists.” There are no “million Muslim marches,” no “not in our name movements,” no large scale Muslim attendance at memorial services for the victims. Yet perceived insults to Islam or Mohammed will produce violent mobs and lethal rampages.
Nor should this surprise us, when poll after poll registers significant pluralities and majorities of Muslims who approve of violence against infidels, and support the implementation of illiberal shari’a law. The latest evidence for such support from “moderate Muslims” comes from Brussels, where the planner of the Paris and Brussels attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was hiding in plain sight in the Muslim-dominant district of Molenbeek. Yet it still took four months for Belgian police to find him, and when they moved in for the arrest, they were met with rocks and bottles from residents who knew he was there and never tipped off the authorities.
That is the reality everyone knows who wants to know. But too many in the West do not want to know, just as those enamored of Soviet communism did not want to know about the gulags and show-trials and engineered famines that killed at least 20 million. Like yesterday’s communist sympathizers, today the sleepwalkers of Europe are trapped in their ideological fever-dreams––fashionable self-loathing, guilt for colonialism and imperialism, sentimental one-worldism, and noble-savage multicultural fantasies. Worst of all, they are crippled by a refusal to appreciate and defend their political and cultural inheritance––prosperity, human rights, freedom, consensual government, and tolerance––created by their ancestors.
The character of Michel in Houellebecq’s Platform (2001) articulates the failure of civilizational nerve that has paved the way for metastasizing jihadist violence. Europe’s forbears, the jaded hedonist Michel muses, “believed in the superiority of their civilization,” and “invented dreams, progress, utopia, the future.” But their “civilizing mission,” their “innocent sense of their natural right to dominate the world and direct the path of history had disappeared.” All that is left is the dwindling cultural capital being squandered by their descendants, who have lost “those qualities of intelligence and determination,” and who exist only for the present and its material pleasures. Like like Michel, they are “decadent” and “given over entirely to selfishness.”
But at least Michel, unlike the sleepwalking European elite, recognizes that this is cultural suicide: “I was aware, however, that such a situation was barely tenable, that people like me were incapable of ensuring the survival of a society. Perhaps, more simply, we were unworthy of life.”
The terrorists of Paris and Brussels agree.

And Europe can’t say it wasn’t warned.
March 30, 2016

Omaha, Nebraska's Interfaith Council

[From article]
There is the matter of their denied -- then admitted, then hidden again -- association with known front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood in America: the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
The Tri-Faith Initiative grew out of ISNA’s interfaith programs which have a multi-pronged purpose. First and foremost, these partnerships between mosques and churches or synagogues are intended to lend a mainstream legitimacy to thoroughly radical Islamic Sharia thoughts and practices. Secondly, these relationships serve to shield Islamist apologists from scrutiny as their non-Muslim partners run interference for them in the name of “tolerance.” This phenomenon results in the third purpose: to weaken the faith of non-Muslims to better prepare them for eventual Muslim dominance, as ordered by Mohammed and Allah.
The inaugural speaker at the outset of the Tri-Faith initiative was none other than the then-President of ISNA, Ingrid Mattson, a woman who has gone on to become perhaps the most prolific producer of Islamist propaganda in the nation, through her academic positions and through interfaith projects.
[. . .]
Billing itself as a “non-denominational” Mosque, open to both Sunni and Shiite, the board and membership of this Mosque boast no Shiites whatsoever. In fact, they boast hardly any membership at all.
[. . .]
There are already two Sunni mosques and one Shia mosque in Omaha, and none of them plan to attend or become involved in the Tri-Faith Initiative.
With virtually no connections to the local Muslim community in Nebraska and Western Iowa, one might be forgiven for wondering why tens of millions of dollars are being pumped into this project to serve a group of families numbering less than fifty people.
The Muslim Brotherhood is, of course, behind all of this, but they work behind the scenes. Banned in Egypt in 1949 for their involvement in political assassinations, they have since chosen to operate through front groups, usually modeled on their original structure of a mainstream wing and a secret wing (al Genah el sirry). The mainstream wing puts on the happy face for popular consumption while the secret wing pulls the strings and does the dirty work.
[. . .]
There aren’t any road signs to “Muslim Brotherhood HQ” or membership cards that say “Member in Good Standing in al Genah el sirry,” but these organizations are well known around the world as the foremost purveyors of Islamic subversion and violence.
Al Qaeda, HAMAS, ISIS are all part of al Genah el sirry, just as CAIR, ISNA and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) are integral operations in the mainstream wing that makes the secret wing work.
Congressman Ashford, speaking about the bloody terrorist blasts in Brussels, recently pointed to Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative as a solution to such violence. As ridiculous as his statement sounds, he unwittingly tapped into the truth. The only ones who can call a halt to terrorist violence are those who fund them, organize them and give them orders – the mainstream wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Isn’t is handy that we have a significant headquarters for that wing going in right here in Omaha?

When a cable comedy show doesn’t dare to touch a Muslim Brotherhood connection.
March 30, 2016

Western Civilization Creativity, Discoveries, Inventions

[From article]
These are interesting times. The United States stands ready to espouse a collectivism that its very founders were repelled by and that its citizens fought and died to defeat. Western Europe seems compelled to surrender itself to a religio-culture that its distant ancestors epically fought to a standstill over 700 years ago and then rolled back over centuries. Cultural and national mass suicide is now the cause célèbre in the West, toasted by academics and the media alike.
Consider the old saying "By their fruits shall you know them." This holds for civilizations and societies as well as individuals. Ponder what epic, game-changing accomplishments have been served up to humanity by Islam since, say, the 1500s. An "empire" that stretched from south Asia to north Africa! Yet no diseases cured. No architectural breakthroughs. No pivotal findings in astronomy, geology, or even art or music. And the last century saw an epochal vastness of wealth come into Islamic hands via the price of oil.
[. . .]

Now contrast this with the West, be it the United States or Britain or France, Germany, Italy, etc. Ironically, the current U.S. president is perhaps one of the West's great haters, and yet the U.S. and Europe have produced, over a similar span of time, the telephone, electricity, the internet, vaccination for over a dozen ravenous diseases, aspirin, recombinant DNA, the microchip, the transistor, the skyscraper, the automobile, the lunar landing, robotic surgery, fiber optics, atomic physics, the Hubble telescope, hybrid crops, jet travel, satellite communications, artificial joints, organ transplant surgery, and on and on.
[. . .]
Free men create. Free men dream. Enslaved men simply try to survive. The enslavers of men simply suck the lifeblood of the human spirit and give nothing back. Before it is too late, it is time for all men and women to honestly look at the fruits of what they espouse, and truthfully ask themselves: what good do they offer humanity? What has collectivism in its various malignant forms ever offered us?

March 29, 2016
Human achievements from the totalitarian left
By James Mullin

Four Candidates For President of The United States

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

An appealing fact about Mr. Trump is he does not run a slick packaged campaign. He makes mistakes as real people do. But he also shows spine unlike the cuttlefish who run the government in DC. He is not a product of Harvard or Yale, another good sign.

[From article]
These four rivers all flow to a dark, gloomy place. The camps rallying behind Sanders, Clinton, Cruz, and Trump are largely composed of contemptible, vile human beings, because that's America these days.
One must recall that God is great and merciful. He's seen nations collapse into the vices of vanity and dissipation before. This election is happening in the worldly realm, which is thankfully not the eternal kingdom. God has a plan that we can't figure out by watching CNN.
[. . .]
Many people like the thought of overturning a corrupt and sclerotic government system but when confronted with the possibility of actually overturning that system, they curl up under their covers, shaking with fear, and cry out for the dysfunctional ghosts of bygone dark ages to come and protect them. Perhaps most Americans have Stockholm syndrome or haven't read Alexis de Tocqueville, or both – they are like the Romans of Cicero's time, who can survive neither the disease nor the cure.
The problem, of course, isn't Hillary or Bernie or Ted or Trump – it's we. Our national culture has deteriorated, and we Americans have become shockingly horrible people: fat, selfish, bitter, weak, lazy, fake, and mean. No tribe of malcontents ever deserved someone like Donald J. Trump more than we do, to tell us each day what losers we are. It will be a new kind of ordeal. Maybe it will be good for us. Maybe it won't.
Ted, Bernie, and Hillary will be just as lousy as we expect them to be. Trump will be lousy in new and unexpected ways. We're all floating down the river in our handbaskets toward a dark, gloomy place, but the case can be made for picking the one handbasket that isn't like the others.

March 31, 2016
Four Handbaskets Headed for Hades
By Robert Oscar Lopez

Harvard Square Au Bon Pain Closing March 31, 2016

[From article]
Yes, Au Bon Pain is leaving the Square like many of our other beloved restaurants and establishments. [. . .] It is even weirder when you realize that it has been in the Square for 32 years. You know how old 32 years is? This is before Radcliffe College fully integrated with Harvard University. The Olympics were held in Los Angeles and Ronald Reagan was president. And now, it will be gone.
If one really can't live with it, technically there is one located near Zinneken’s and another near the Charles. But neither are as easily accessible as the Harvard Square one and they close earlier than the 1 am time for which the Square establishment is known.

Au Revoir to Au Bon Pain
By Kamara A. Swaby
The Crimson

Cambridge, MA Plastic Bag Ban In Effect March 31, 2016

Think of all those delicious bacteria you will bring home with your reusable designer bags. Yummy! Then there will be drama, "You want to charge me ten cents for a bag. No thanks keep your stinkin' stuff." Free bags in Somerville, Watertown, Arlington, Belmont and Boston.

As Cambridge Bans Plastic Bags, Some Shopkeepers Skeptical
Harvard Crimson
March 31, 2016

Trump and Cruz Can Prevent Establishment Taking Control of Party Convention

Trump and Cruz Can Control Republican Convention

[From article]
The Wisconsin primary could be an axle-breaking speed bump on Donald Trump’s road to the nomination.
Ted Cruz, now the last hope to derail Trump of a desperate Beltway elite that lately loathed him, has taken the lead in the Badger State.
Millions in attack ads are being dumped on the Donald’s head by super PACs of GOP candidates, past and present. Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed Cruz. Conservative talk radio is piling on Trump.
And the Donald just had the worst two weeks of his campaign.
[. . .]
New to elective politics, Trump is less familiar with the ideological and issues terrain than those who live there. But the outrage of the elites is all fakery.
Democrats do not care a hoot about the right to life of unborn babies, even unto the ninth month of pregnancy. And the Republican establishment is grabbing any stick to beat Trump, not because he threatens the rights of women, but because he threatens them.
The establishment’s problem is that Trump refuses to take the saddle. Again and again, he has defied the dictates of political correctness that they designed to stifle debate and demonize dissent.
Trump has gotten away with his insubordination and shown, with his crowds, votes, and victories, that millions of alienated Americans detest the Washington establishment and relish his defiance.
Trump has denounced the trade treaties, from NAFTA to GATT to the WTO and MFN for China, that have de-industrialized America, imperil our sovereignty and independence, and cost millions of good jobs.
[. . .]

The unstated premise of the Trump campaign is that some among the Fortune 500 companies are engaged in economic treason against America.
No wonder they hate him.
As for Trump’s call for an “America First” foreign policy, it threatens the rice bowls of those for whom imperial interventions are the reason for their existence.
[. . .]
Yet, a loss in Wisconsin would make Trump’s climb to a first-ballot nomination steeper.
Still, if Trump goes to Cleveland, having won the most votes, the most states and the most delegates, stealing the nomination from him would split the party worse than in 1964.
The GOP could be looking at a 1912, when ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, who won the most contested primaries, was rejected in favor of President Taft. Teddy walked out, ran on the “Bull Moose” ticket, beat Taft in the popular vote, and Woodrow Wilson was elected.
[. . .]
If the nomination is taken from Trump, who will be 70 in June, he has nothing to lose. And as “Julius Caesar” reminds us, “such men are dangerous.”
Trump and Cruz, though bitter enemies, are both despised by the establishment. Yet both have a mutual interest: insuring that one of them, and only one of them, wins the nomination. No one else.
If the nomination is taken from Trump, who will be 70 in June, he has nothing to lose. And as “Julius Caesar” reminds us, “such men are dangerous.”
Trump and Cruz, though bitter enemies, are both despised by the establishment. Yet both have a mutual interest: insuring that one of them, and only one of them, wins the nomination. No one else.
[. . .]
All Trump and Cruz need do is instruct their delegates to vote to retain Rule 40 from the 2012 convention. Rule 40 declares that no candidate can be placed in nomination who has failed to win a majority of the delegates in eight states.
Trump has already hit that mark. Cruz almost surely will. But no establishment favorite has a chance of reaching it.
With Cruz and Trump delegates voting to retain Rule 40, they can guarantee no Beltway favorite walks out of Cleveland as the nominee — and that Ted Cruz or Donald Trump does.
No matter who wins in Cleveland, the establishment must lose.

Lock Out the Establishment in Cleveland!
Thursday - March 31, 2016 at 8:09 pm
Patrick J. Buchanan

Science Journalism, A Human Activity

Thorough discussion of problem areas of science reporting. Never mentioned is the lucrative system of social control sans due process protections, psychiatry.

[From article]
Last May, when This American Life acknowledged that it had run a 23-minute-long segment premised on a fraudulent scientific study, America's most respected radio journalists did something strange: They declined to apologize for the error. "Our original story was based on what was known at the time," host Ira Glass explained in a blog post. "Obviously the facts have changed."
It was a funny admission. Journalists typically don't say that "facts change"; it is a journalist's job to define and publicize facts. When a reporter gets hoodwinked by a source, she does not imply that something in the fabric of reality has shifted. She explains that she was tricked.
With science coverage, though, the situation seems to be different—which is why Glass' remark, while unusually blunt, wasn't actually wrong.
This American Life had been deceived by a political science researcher at the University of California–Los Angeles, Michael LaCour. His paper, based on falsified data, had slipped past peer review and landed in the pages of Science, the country's most prestigious scientific journal. This American Life declined to comment for this article, explaining that they might return to the incident in a future episode. But it's not hard to read the implicit what-could-we-do? shrug in Glass' statement. Science had spoken. Science had changed its mind. "Obviously the facts have changed."
The LaCour study, which focused on canvassers' ability to change voters' minds, was an especially subtle piece of fraud. It was hard to catch. LaCour had produced a result that was unusual, dramatic, optimistic, and, as Glass noted during the episode, different from 900 other similar papers that LaCour's colleagues had reviewed. No journalists—as far as I can tell—went looking for aberrations; in the end, a couple of graduate students caught him after they tried to replicate his methods.
As various commentators have observed, there's probably no field of journalism that's less skeptical, less critical, less given to investigative work, and less independent of its sources than science reporting. At even the most respected publications, science journalists tend to position themselves as translators, churning the technical language of scientific papers into summaries that are accessible to the public. The assumption is that the source text they're translating—the original scientific research—comes to them as unimpeachable fact.
There is little about the scientific method that supports these broadly accepted journalistic assumptions. Science is messy, and scientists are imperfect. And as scientific communities deal with rising retraction rates, a reproducibility crisis, continued influence from industry liaisons, new pressures on graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, a shaky peer review system, and a changing publication landscape, the need for watchdogs is stronger than ever.
[. . .]
In the United States, science reporting took its shape shortly after World War I, when the newspaper magnate Edward Scripps founded Science Service, a non-profit wire service that would deliver science coverage to American newspapers.
[. . .]

Today, most science coverage still follows a press release model. Articles focus on individual studies, as they come out. Reporters rarely return to research years down the line. Articles provide little context or criticism, and they usually frame the story within a larger narrative of human progress.
Deepening the resemblance to PR, scientific journals often provide embargoed versions of papers to select journalists ahead of publication. Among other things, that means that the journals control which outlets cover their research first.
Today, science journalists’ motivations "align very nicely with what the scientists themselves want, which is publicity for their work," says Charles Seife, a veteran science reporter and a professor in New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. "This alignment creates this—almostcollusion, that might even be unethical in other branches of journalism." In short, more than other fields, science journalists see themselves as working in partnership with their sources.
[. . .]
The publicity-journalism culture has vulnerabilities. In 2014, John Bohannon, a writer for Science magazine, and Gunter Frank, a German clinician, set out to demonstrate the low standards of science reporting by running a flashy study with awful methods, and then waiting to see who would cover it. Their study purported to show that chocolate aided weight loss. The methods failed to meet even the most basic standards of good nutrition research—they had a sample size of 15—but Bohannon and Frank found a for-profit journal willing to publish their findings. Then they sent out a press release. A number of publications, includingShape magazine and Europe's largest daily newspaper, Bild, published the results. A year after Bohannon revealed that the study was a hoax, only one of those publications has retracted their coverage, he says.
[. . .]
Covering science isn't the same as covering, say, politics, of course. Politicians are competing for a limited pool of resources. They're playing zero-sum games, and they have strong incentives to conceal and deceive. Scientists, at least in theory, have incentives that are aligned with those of journalists, and of the public. We all want to learn more about the universe. It's a beautiful goal.
[. . .]
But approaching science as an exercise in purity, divorced from other incentives, Seife says, "ignores the fact that science doesn't work perfectly, and people are humans. Science has politics. Science has money. Science has scandals. As with every other human endeavor where people gain power, prestige, or status through what they do, there's going to be cheating, and there are going be distortions, and there are going to be failures."
[. . .]
Here's the uncomfortable side of this story: A substantial portion—maybe the majority—of published scientific assertions are false.
In rare cases, that's because of fraud or a serious error. The number of scientific papers retracted each year has increased by a factor of 10 since 2001.
But even accepted research methods, performed correctly, can yield false results. By nature, science is difficult, messy, and slow. The ways that researchers frame questions, process data, and choose which findings to publish can all favor results that are statistical aberrations—not reflections of physical reality. "There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false," wrote Stanford Medical School professor John Ioannidis in a widely cited 2005 paper.
Social psychology is in the midst of a reproducibility crisis. Many landmark experiments don't hold up under replication. In general, the peer review process is supposed to control for rigor, but it's an imperfect tool. "Scientists understand that peer review per se provides only a minimal assurance of quality, and that the public perception of peer review as a stamp of authentication is far from the truth," wrote a former Nature editor in that journal in 2006.
At the same time, the conditions in which research takes place can incentivize scientists to cheat, to do sloppy research, or to exaggerate the significance of results. Simply put, science does have politics. There's intense competition for funding, for faculty jobs, and for less tangible kinds of prestige.

Meanwhile, corporations spend small fortunes trying to influence academic researchers. In recent years, there has been a profusion of for-profit journals that either don't use peer-review or have a fake peer-review process, making it harder to establish the reliability of sources.
That's an uncomfortable image of the scientific process—uncomfortable because it's so out of step with popular presentations of scientific authority. Science magazines and sections rarely cover these issues.
Science reporters don't usually look at research funding, nor do they critically evaluate the quality of the studies that they cover. Often, they lack the time or technical knowledge to dig into stories. In other cases, they may just be worried about challenging expert authority.
All communities require watchdogs though. And while they are rare, promising models of investigative science journalism do exist.
[. . .]
After an investigation that cast doubt on the effectiveness of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, the BMJ appointed its first investigations editor, Deborah Cohen, who had trained as a doctor before moving to journalism. In her role at the BMJ, she dug into the research-backed claims of sports drink makers, and she investigated the safety of a popular diabetes drug. To demonstrate how flimsy the British government's regulation of new surgical implants had become, Cohen created a fake company, with a fake hip implant, and got it approved for medical use in the European Union.
[. . .]
At Retraction Watch, started in 2010, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus track retracted papers across disciplines. Oransky describes "this ecosystem that ... likes to paint the shiny, happy, new, novel, amazing breakthrough narrative onto everything. And retractions don't fit into that narrative, because they're about when things go wrong. And nobody likes admitting it."
[. . .]

Take the use of anonymous sources. In order to check the quality of new studies, diligent science reporters will call up other people in the field and ask for their opinions on the research. In small, close-knit scientific communities, though, people have strong incentives to speak positively about their colleagues' work. After all, the person you criticize in the New York Times today may be peer-reviewing a submission of yours tomorrow.
[. . .]
then there's the money. Science journalism usually focuses on the end result, and almost never refers to finances. But funding decisions affect everything from study design to the shape of entire research programs. Often, troubling data is sitting out in the open. Charles Seife, the NYU professor, has uncovered malfeasance by cross-referencing lists of federal grant recipients with lists of doctors who receive money from drug companies.
[. . .]
And then there's the money. Science journalism usually focuses on the end result, and almost never refers to finances. But funding decisions affect everything from study design to the shape of entire research programs. Often, troubling data is sitting out in the open. Charles Seife, the NYU professor, has uncovered malfeasance by cross-referencing lists of federal grant recipients with lists of doctors who receive money from drug companies.
[. . .]
Does an institution's strength come from a sense of omniscience? Or does it come from acknowledging its faults, and showing that it can address them, even as it produces useful results?
"I think that science is robust enough of a worldview and a method for truth-finding that you can beat it up as much as you want. It's going to come out just fine," Bohannon says. "You don't have to tiptoe around that thing."

How Journalists Can Help Hold Scientists Accountable
Amid the so-called replication crisis, could better investigative reporting be the answer? Maybe it’s time for journalists and scientists to work more closely together.
MAR 22, 2016

Call To Action

[From article]
Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more. These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack. We are our own sickness.
Since the world learned of the dozens dead, hundreds injured, and hundreds of thousands affected by Monday’s attack on the NATO and European Union capital, we have seen an outpouring of what is commonly known as “solidarity”.
This word – most commonly associated with hard-left politics, trades union activism, socialism, and poseur indie rock bands – has come to mean very little in reality. In effect, “standing in solidarity” with someone now means that you have observed the situation, changed your Facebook profile picture accordingly, and patted yourself on the back.
[. . .]
Because nowadays, teddy bears are the new resolve. They symbolise everything we have become in response to our way of life being threatened, and our people being slaughtered on our streets: inanimate, squishy, and full of crap.
Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realise that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us. Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.
[. . .]
But of course, such statements are dismissed as fear-mongering, alarmist, or “out of touch with reality”. As if the data doesn’t exist, or the demographics aren’t shifting quickly enough to notice.
As if vast parts of our towns and cities haven’t become ghettos, or no-go zones, or hubs of child grooming activity, or terrorism.
As if mosques, schools, prisons, and universities aren’t used as recruiting grounds for radicals.
As if the blood of our countrymen hasn’t even been spilled at all.
[. . .]

Instead, we will now think deeply about how we can “reach out” to these populations. How we can “co-exist” and “be tolerant” of one another. As if toleration – which is actually the permittance of what is not actually approved or desired – is a healthy aspiration for a society.
It is as if we model our countries on the practice of bending over and “taking one for the team”, chastising those who fail to “tolerate” the most barbaric traditions of alien cultures.
[. . .]
We must be fearless in electing leaders who we feel will best keep us safe. It is one of the few areas of our lives in which we should be able to feel comfortable. We pay our taxes, you keep us safe.
If not, then we must arm ourselves. If our governments refuse to protect us, or even begin to use the tools with which we empower them against us: surveillance, counter-terror laws, detention, then we will need to take the law back into our own hands. We cannot be afraid of doing so. It is where our societies all sprung from.
The defence of ourselves as individuals. The defence of our families, our properties, our means of production, our communities, and our neighbours.
[. . .]
It is why arms sales to individuals has shot up since the migrant crisis in Europe. Many Germans are losing their faith in their elected leaders to protect them. The same applies in Sweden, and in Austria. Some people refuse to take being wiped out laying down. How quaint.
[. . .]
It is also time to start to make serious, wide-reaching demands of our politicians on the subject of immigration and Islamism.
When U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump said what he said about a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, the tolerance lobby went into overdrive: full condemnations across the board from politicians – including presidents and prime ministers, across the media sphere, and you will recall the House of Commons debating a petition to ban the man from the country.
Now even the most politically correct of Hollywood luvvies is asking: is he really that wrong on this?
Because Mr. Trump has thought in a cycle longer than his potential presidency: what does the Western world look like in 20, 30, 50 years? What kind of societies do we leave to our children?
[. . .]
Do we leave cities with soldiers on patrol. With “peace” signs scrawled onto bomb-struck buildings? Or do we leave them safe places, with real promise for the future. Like our parents, or at least our parents’ parents, left us.
In order to confront this question, we have to get to the root cause of the problem. There is too much immigration, or at least, not enough hand-picked immigration, into the Western world today.
People of my age had no choice that our post-war leaders felt the heavy hand of post-colonial guilt on their shoulders, and decided to open up our countries, and flood us with “diversity”.
But we do have a choice to not make the same mistakes again. And we have a duty to correct the ones that were made.
[. . .]
And yes, that does mean exactly what you think it means. It means ending mass migration. It means smashing apart ghettos and no go zones. It means repealing laws that allow for Sharia councils. It means asserting what it means to be British, or European, or American, without fearing a backlash from the political left, or the media classes who scarcely see a face my colour let alone darker.
Let them riot. Let them cry.
I would far rather be subjected to ceaseless “direct action” by the scourges of my own society than import others.
At least if my fellow countrymen are deplorable, I won’t get called a racist for pointing it out.
So put down the teddy bears, burst the balloons, and let’s start demanding again that our countries are safe and civilised. And if we can’t find people who’ll make that happen for us… let’s do it ourselves.

Enough With The Teddy Bears And Tears: It’s Time To Take Our Civilization Back
23 Mar 2016

Uber Corp. Does Not Provide Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. Talking With Disability Rights Groups

[From article]
Uber Boston, facing criticism that it offers only limited service to people with disabilities, has agreed to work with advocates on improving the accessibility of the ride-hailing service.
The Uber Boston Disability Coalition, announced Thursday, includes the Disability Law Center, the Disability Policy Consortium, and the Boston Center for Independent Living.
[. . .]
Leading the partnership is Disability Law Center executive director Christine Griffin. She hopes an Uber-like system will eventually replace the MBTA’s little-loved RIDE paratransit service, which costs taxpayers millions to operate and has faced criticism by riders who say it’s frequently late and takes wildly inefficient routes.
“I think this could really end up being a salvation,” Griffin said. “It would be cheaper and faster — and trust me, no one would mourn the RIDE if we replaced it.”
“The MBTA welcomes assistance that helps meet the transportation needs of the para-transit community,” MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an email. In November, the MBTA began a six-month pilot program to allow passengers who would otherwise hail the RIDE to take a taxi instead. There is a chance a service like Uber could join that fleet.
Griffin, whose group publicly criticized Uber last year for not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Uber seemed sincere about wanting to solve the problem. Currently, the company offers only limited service to people who use wheelchairs in certain cities.
[. . .]
The biggest challenge, Griffin said, will be bringing wheelchair-accessible vehicles into Uber’s network. The company is reluctant to purchase and operate such vans itself, Griffin said, as its business model depends on independent contractors who drive their own cars.
Uber has argued in the past that it is not legally obligated to provide services to riders with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it is a technology company that provides a service rather than a transportation company.
[. . .]
“Uber wants to solve this without changing their business model,” Griffin said. “But they’re open to a lot of ways to achieve this. I think it will be several types of solutions, not one thing.”

Uber Boston announces partnership with disability advocates
Nidhi Subbaraman and Dan Adams

Why Do People Write?

"I'm just going to write because I cannot help it."
- Charlotte Bronte

March 30, 2016

Broadway Hit Musical Restricts Auditions To Non White Actors

A scene from the musical "Hamilton."
Photo: AP
[From article]
Open auditions are being held for the hottest show on Broadway — but whites need not apply.
Already the hottest ticket in town, rap-based musical “Hamilton” put out a casting call, seeking “NON-WHITE men and women” to audition for its Broadway run and touring companies.
Producers are also looking for actors “ages 20s to 30s” who can sing and rap — but “no prior theater experience necessary,” the ad says.
The seemingly prejudicial race and age poster flies in the face of the culturally diverse cast that has helped “Hamilton” surge to success and garner stellar reviews.
The modern musical chronicles America’s founding fathers like Aaron Burr and George Washington — played by actors who are black and Latino. The show’s writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is Puerto Rican, plays the title role of Alexander Hamilton.
In a statement, “Hamilton” said its producers “regret the confusion that’s arisen from the recent posting” but defended the verbiage.
“It is essential to the storytelling of ‘Hamilton’ that the principal roles — which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George) — be performed by non-white actors,” the statement said.
“This adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a ‘bona fide occupational qualification’ that is legal.”
It also noted other shows like “The Color Purple,” “Porgy & Bess” and “Matilda” that call for “race, ethnicity or age specific casting” — but agreed to tweak the ad.
“The casting will be amended to also include language we neglected to add, that is, we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition for ‘Hamilton,’” the statement added.
Asked about the casting call, the city Human Rights Commission reiterated that discrimination based on age, race, gender, disability and “other protected categories in employment advertisements” is prohibited.
“Before determining a violation of the law, the commission would need to investigate the alleged violation, gathering information and testimony from parties involved,” an HRC spokesman said.

Whites need not apply for ‘Hamilton’ open audition
By Lia Eustachewich
New York Post
March 30, 2016 | 3:00pm | Updated

* * *

Todd's American Dispatch
Hit Broadway show celebrates diversity by excluding whites
By Todd Starnes
Published March 30, 2016

* * *

Broadway Union Takes Issue With ‘Hamilton’ Casting Call For ‘Non-White’ Performers
March 29, 2016 11:18 PM

* * *

'Hamilton' hiring practices under fire due to discrimination
Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 11:38 AM

White Votes Matter

[From article]
The only question for Republicans is: Which candidate can win states that Mitt Romney lost?
Start with the fact that, before any vote is cast on Election Day, the Democrats have already won between 90 and 98 percent of the black vote and 60 to 75 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote. Unless Republicans run the table on the white vote, they lose.
If there’s still hope, it lies with Trump and only Trump. Donald Trump will do better with black and Hispanic voters than any other Republican. But it’s with white voters that he really opens up the electoral map.
A Republican Party that wasn’t intent on committing suicide would know that. But Stuart Stevens, the guy who lost a winnable presidential election in 2012, says it’s impossible for Republicans to get one more white vote — and the media are trying to convince the GOP that he’s right.
tevens says Romney tapped out every last white voter and still lost, so he says Republicans are looking for “the Lost Tribes of the Amazon” hoping to win more white votes: “In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 56 percent of white voters and won a landslide victory of 44 states. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 59 percent of whites and lost with 24 states.”
Apparently, no one’s told Stevens about the 50-state Electoral College. The national white vote is irrelevant. Presidential elections are won by winning states. (Only someone who got his ass kicked running an eminently electable candidate might not know this.)
[. . .]
If Trump wins only the same states as Romney, but adds Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois — where Romney’s white vote was below his national average — Trump wins with 280 electoral votes. (Romney wasn’t an ideal candidate in the industrial Midwest.)
[. . .]
I haven’t even mentioned Florida, where Trump recently trounced Stuart Stevens’ dream candidate, Marco Rubio, a sitting senator — and a Cuban! — in a 20-point rout. Republican primary voters outnumbered Democratic primary voters in that election by more than half a million votes.
If Trump wins Florida, he needs to win only two or three of the 10 states where Romney either lost the white vote outright or won a smaller percentage of it than he did nationally.
Stevens’ analysis assumes that there will be no new voters — and, again, there isn’t a mammal on the North American landmass who knows less about winning presidential elections than Stuart Stevens.
It’s as if we’re only allowed to divvy up the pile of voters from 2012. Unless you voted in 2012, you can’t vote in 2016! Use it or lose it, buddy.
That’s not how it works.
Trump is saying he’ll bring in lots of new people, as he has throughout the primaries. In the Florida GOP primary, for example, Trump got nearly half a million more votes than Romney did in 2012 — about half a million new people voted. Trump may be wrong, but it’s insane to say that it’s impossible for him to bring out new voters.
[. . .]
Maybe 50 years of Third World immigration means it’s too late, and even Trump can’t win. But it’s an absolute certainty that any other Republican will lose.

It’s Only Trump

Wednesday Mar 30, 2016 4:59 PM

March 29, 2016

Drug Addicted Massachusetts Bank Executive Embezzled Substantial Funds From Orphans

Photo Credit: Matt Stone
DAY IN COURT: William R. Hartnett at his arraignment at Norfolk Superior Court on three counts each of fiduciary embezzlement and larceny of more than $250 by a single scheme.

[From article]
A former Weymouth Bank executive allegedly fed his drug habit by embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from accounts established for his young niece and nephew after their parents were killed in a car crash, authorities say.
William R. Hartnett, 45, of Weymouth, pleaded not guilty yesterday in Norfolk Superior Court to three counts each of embezzlement and larceny over $250. He was released on his own recognizance pending a June 9 pre-trial hearing and left the courthouse without comment.
[. . .]
Hartnett was vice president of retail investments and business development in 2014 when the bank’s anti-money-laundering system alerted management to “unusual” activity involving checking and savings accounts controlled by Hartnett, who was appointed sole guardian of his young niece and nephew in November 2009 — a month after his sister and brother-in-law were killed in a crash, according to a police report.
Bank executives told police that about $247,000 was withdrawn over the course of 11 months, and that Hartnett had recently returned from a drug treatment center.
“Mr. Hartnett made verbal statements to bank management, admitting that substantial sums of cash withdrawals from the custodian and trustee accounts were allegedly converted for his own personal use to fund illicit habits,” police said.
At the time, Weymouth police said they planned to seek a court order barring anyone from accessing the $54,000 remaining as of March 28, 2014.
In April of that year, the Social Security checks the children received monthly had not been deposited into their accounts, and police were investigating whether Hartnett had redirected the checks to an account at another bank.

Ex-bank exec accused of embezzling from orphaned niece, nephew
Marie Szaniszlo
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Boston Herald

U.S. Judge Speaks At Harvard University, Laments Censorship On University Campuses

Loretta A. Preska, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Southern New York

[From article]
Loretta A. Preska, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Southern New York, said she was concerned about reduced tolerance of free speech on university campuses in a lecture at Harvard Law School on Monday.
While Preska argued that there is widespread “decreasing tolerance for truly free expression and open debate,” she claimed that the issue is particularly problematic in educational settings.
“The limiting of public discourse is already occurring, and in my view, the most troublesome of those places is the place where the views of the future leaders of our country are formed: on university campuses,” Preska said.
Preska cited the establishment of “free speech zones,” or zones specifically set aside for protest, as an example of curtailed free speech on college campuses.
“A campus with a so-called free speech zone is one in which free speech is allowed in certain designated areas, but not any place else,” Preska said, adding that “these zones allow administrators to banish protesters to remote or marginal parts of the campus.”
Some colleges have also placed inappropriate restrictions on speech to prevent cyberbullying, according to Preska.
“The University of West Alabama has enacted a ban on cyberbullying, which it describes as ‘harsh text messages or emails.’ Colorado State University in Pueblo now defines harassment as anything that causes 'psychological and or emotional harm on any member of the university community,'” Preska said.
She said these policies, although noble in their intentions, are overbroad in their scope.
Using these examples, Preska emphasized that “speech should not be censored based on viewpoint, offensiveness, or anything else” because banning statements that are unpopular or not of the majority opinion undermines values promulgated by the Constitution.
“Not only was freedom of speech the progressive ideal on which our nation was founded, it remains something that distinguishes this nation from every other nation on the planet,” Preska said.
Some students also recognized that there are social pressures to sympathize with the most popular opinions.

Federal Judge Concerned Over Campus Free Speech Restrictions
Harvard Crimson
March 28, 2016

Self Treatment Using Electrical Pulses To The Brain, To Enhance Mood, Productivity

[From article]
Jamie Tyler was stressed. He had just endured a half-hour slog through airport security and needed some relief. Many travelers in this situation might have headed for the nearest bar or popped an aspirin. But Tyler grabbed a triangular piece of gadgetry from his bag and held it to his forehead.
As he closed his eyes, the device zapped him with low-voltage electrical currents. Within minutes, Tyler said, he was feeling serene enough to face the crowds once again.
This is no science fiction. The Harvard-trained neurobiologist was taking advantage of one of his own inventions, a device called Thync, which promises to help users activate their body's “natural state of energy or calm” — for a retail price of a mere $199.
Americans’ obsession with wellness is fueling a new category of consumer electronics, one that goes far beyond the ubiquitous Fitbits and UP activity wristbands that only passively monitor users' physical activity. The latest wearable tech, to put it in the simplest terms, is about hacking your brain.
These gadgets claim to be able to make you have more willpower, think more creatively and even jump higher. One day, their makers say, the technology may even succeed in delivering on the holy grail of emotions: happiness.There’s real, peer-reviewed science behind the theory driving these devices. It involves stimulating key regions of the brain — with currents or magnetic fields — to affect emotions and physical well-being. It isn’t too different from how electroshock therapy works to counter certain mental illnesses and how deep-brain stimulation smooths motion disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, recent studies have looked at the technique as a possible treatment for stroke, autism and anorexia.
[. . .]
The companies claim the stimuli they utilize are so weak that the products shouldn't be considered medical devices and subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. To date, the agency hasn't intervened.
All this has unnerved many neuroscience experts, who worry about putting something that tinkers with the brain in the hands of naive consumer masses.
Kareem Zaghloul, who runs one of the brain labs at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said that even if the devices work as advertised — which is a big if, he stressed — there are also concerns about how they account for individual variability in brain structure and whether enhancing one area of the brain could negatively affect another. No one knows the long-term consequences.
[. . .]

Sumon Pal, "Chief of Vibes" at Thync, tests a prototype Thync module at his desk at work. The module sends low-energy electrical current that works to energize or relax users. 
(Ryan C. Jones for The Washington Post)

Other scientists have issued stronger warnings. Writing in the Journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, one group of researchers argued that “‘non-invasive’ brain stimulation” may sound benign, but it comes with risks as severe as when a body is opened up in surgery. And Marom Bikson, a professor of biomedical engineering at City College of New York, emphasized that the devices are "not play things" and said consumers who use them too much could essentially risk an overdose.
Additional issues, although remote, include possible addiction or sabotage by hackers that could change a code to stimulate undesirable characteristics such as anxiety, fear and aggression.
[. . .]
Its creators claim the small, sleek piece of plastic plus electrodes either calms or energizes a person, depending on the area of the brain where its current is directed. It uses proprietary algorithms that control the tDCS currents, plus another type of stimulation called transcranial pulsed ultrasound.
Thync has been tested on several thousand volunteers, and the company has published one study, in the journal Nature, that involved 82 volunteers in the Boston area and found that a 14-minute session using Thync’s electrical waveforms resulted in stress reduction.
Response from users has been mixed, with about two-thirds of online reviewers writing about how happy they were with the product and about one-third saying they didn’t feel any effects at all.

Brain-zapping gadgets promise to make you a better you — smarter, stronger, even happier
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
March 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Illegal Alien Charged With Rape of 12-year-old Texas Girl

Jose Alejandro Najarro (pictured), 52, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.

[From article]
An illegal immigrant sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl and made her pregnant, prosecutors say.
Jose Alejandro Najarro, 52, faces charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, KXAN reported.
He asked the girl to come to his house in Kyle, Texas, to fix his TV in November last year, according to the affidavit.
There, prosecutors say, Najarro sat on a bed next to her and tried to kiss her.
He asked the girl to touch him and she refused, the affidavit states.
The girl then told officers he had taken off her clothes and sexually assaulted her.
She took a pregnancy test later on at a clinic and found it to be positive.
Officials say she is between four and five months pregnant.
The 12-year-old told police Najarro is the only person she has had intercourse with and that it happened once.
She said he offered her money to see her again but she refused.
Najarro is being held at Hays County Jail in San Marcos, Texas, on an immigration detainer in addition to the sexual assault charges, KXAN wrote.
The immigration detainer means the US Department of Homeland Security has reason to believe Najarro should be removed from the country, or that the department has begun deportation or removal proceedings in his case.

Illegal immigrant 'sexually assaulted and impregnated a 12-year-old girl' in Texas
Jose Alejandro Najarro, 52, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child
He asked the girl to come to his house in Kyle, Texas and fix his TV, court prosecutors say
The girl told officers he took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her
She took a pregnancy test at a clinic several months later and it came out positive
Najarro is held at Hays County Jail on an immigration detainer
PUBLISHED: 10:35 EST, 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:37 EST, 29 March 2016

March 28, 2016

Human Rights Watch Reveals Thousands Of Disabled Persons Held In Abominable Conditions

Suhananto, 30, sits inside a cage, where he has been locked up in a confined space for a year by his parents because he suffers from mental illness.

[From article]
This is the harrowing Indonesian village where people with mental illnesses are shackled to the floor and locked up in dark, cell-like rooms.
In Sidoharjo, Karangpatihan and Krebet, both adolescents and adults suffer from severe physical retardation, also known as 'Kampung Idiot', which is comparable to Down's Syndrome.
The horrifying images show a 40-year-old woman called Sijum with Down's Syndrome lying immobile on her back as her mother spoon-feeds her, while Saimun, 45, sits on the ground in his house, where his legs have been chained for 20 years by his parents because he suffers from mental illness.
These victims live below the poverty line and many suffer from malnutrition, visual and hearing impairment - but villagers and government officials blame incest, malnutrition and iodine deficiency as the cause for their illness.
[. . .]
This is the harrowing Indonesian village where people with mental illnesses are shackled to the floor and locked up in dark, cell-like rooms.
In Sidoharjo, Karangpatihan and Krebet, both adolescents and adults suffer from severe physical retardation, also known as 'Kampung Idiot', which is comparable to Down's Syndrome.
The horrifying images show a 40-year-old woman called Sijum with Down's Syndrome lying immobile on her back as her mother spoon-feeds her, while Saimun, 45, sits on the ground in his house, where his legs have been chained for 20 years by his parents because he suffers from mental illness.
These victims live below the poverty line and many suffer from malnutrition, visual and hearing impairment - but villagers and government officials blame incest, malnutrition and iodine deficiency as the cause for their illness. 
[. . .]
Thousands of Indonesians with a mental illness are currently shackled, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Monday.
The 74-page report, 'Living in Hell: Abuses against People with Psychosocial Disabilities in Indonesia' examines how people with mental health conditions often end up chained or locked up in overcrowded and unsanitary institutions.
Chaining up the mentally ill has been illegal in Indonesia for nearly 40 years but remains rife across the country, especially in rural areas where health services are limited and belief in evil spirits prevail, according to HRW.
[. . .]
'Nobody should have to be shackled in Indonesia in 2016 - people told us again and again that it's like living in hell,' Kriti Sharma, disability rights researcher at the group and author of the report, told AFP.
As well as shackling, the report listed a litany of other abuses the mentally ill face in Indonesia - sexual violence, electroshock therapy, and restraint and seclusion in often overcrowded, unsanitary institutions.
There are just 48 mental hospitals in Indonesia, a country of 250 million, most of them in urban areas.
Treatment options are scarce for the millions living in remote regions, leaving desperate families to turn to faith healers in the Muslim-majority nation, some of whom chain up patients.[. . .]
HRW - who interviewed around 150 people for their report, from the mentally ill to health professionals - said there are currently almost 19,000 people in Indonesia who are either shackled or locked up in a confined space, a practice known locally as 'pasung'.
At least 14 million people in Indonesia aged 15 and over are thought to be suffering from some form of mental illness, according to health ministry data.
Shackling of mentally ill people happens across Asia but is particularly common in Indonesia, with studies showing that it is due to poor mental health services in rural areas and a lack of knowledge about suitable treatments.
Families that choose not to send mentally ill relatives to faith healers sometimes take matters into their own hands.

Village of the damned: Hundreds of mentally ill patients are shackled or locked away in Indonesian village where their suffering is blamed on 'incest and malnutrition'
People ranging in age from 10 to 50 are shackled to the floor in Sidoharjo, Karangpatihan and Krebet in Indonesia
They suffer from severe physical retardation, also known as 'Kampung Idiot', which is akin to Down Syndrome
Over 400 people suffer from psychosocial disabilities in Ponorogo, East Java - and many live below the poverty line
Government officials and villagers blame incest, malnutrition and iodine deficiency as the cause for the illness
PUBLISHED: 10:27 EST, 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:28 EST, 28 March 2016

DHS Immigration Enforcement Arrests 1,000 Alleged Gang Members Nationwide

[From article]
Over 1,000 people were arrested in a nationwide operation targeting members of transnational gangs, U.S. immigration officials announced Monday.
The five-week operation, which was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division, concluded last Monday and netted 915 suspected gang members.
Most of the suspected gang members were affiliated with the gangs MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Eighteenth Street and Bloods, ICE spokesperson Sarah Rodriguez told Daily Mail Online.
'I would say this is on par with what we do in one of these gang surges,' Rodriguez said.
'We do gang enforcement all year round, but once or twice a year we do a surge, where officers drill down on gang leads that they have. It becomes the national focus for a couple of weeks,' she said.
[. . .]
Over 1,000 people were arrested in a nationwide operation targeting members of transnational gangs, U.S. immigration officials announced Monday.
The five-week operation, which was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division, concluded last Monday and netted 915 suspected gang members.
Most of the suspected gang members were affiliated with the gangs MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Eighteenth Street and Bloods, ICE spokesperson Sarah Rodriguez told Daily Mail Online.
'I would say this is on par with what we do in one of these gang surges,' Rodriguez said.
'We do gang enforcement all year round, but once or twice a year we do a surge, where officers drill down on gang leads that they have. It becomes the national focus for a couple of weeks,' she said. 
[. . .]

During the course of the operation, ICE agents seized 150 firearms, over 20 kilograms of drugs and more than $70,000. Pictured, an arrest in Houston, Texas.

Over 1,000 people were arrested in a nationwide operation targeting members of transnational gangs, U.S. immigration officials announced Monday.
The five-week operation, which was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division, concluded last Monday and netted 915 suspected gang members.
Most of the suspected gang members were affiliated with the gangs MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Eighteenth Street and Bloods, ICE spokesperson Sarah Rodriguez told Daily Mail Online.
'I would say this is on par with what we do in one of these gang surges,' Rodriguez said.
'We do gang enforcement all year round, but once or twice a year we do a surge, where officers drill down on gang leads that they have. It becomes the national focus for a couple of weeks,' she said.
Feds arrest nearly 1,000 suspected gang members in nationwide sweep
Immigration officials announced 915 suspected gang members were jailed
Another 218 people were arrested for other criminal offences and immigration violations, officials said
Most arrests were made in California, Puerto Rico, Georgia, and Texas
Of the 1,133 arrested in the five-week sweep, 894 were U.S. citizens
Majority were suspected members of MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Eighteenth Street and Bloods gangs
PUBLISHED: 09:50 EST, 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:56 EST, 28 March 2016

Woman Painter Born Without Limbs Enjoys Successful Career

Tillman (pictured) is also a twin but they were not affected physical by the birth defect.

[From article]
A California woman who doesn't have the use of her hands or arms has become a prolific artist - by painting with her mouth and feet.
Alana Ciena Tillman was born with a rare disease that has left her unable to contract or move some her joints.
Her condition is known as anthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC) and occurs in about 1 in 3,000 live births, according to the National Institute of Health.
[. . .]
She has had the condition since she was born but has never let it come in the way of her creativity.
Tillman, who is in her thirties and lives in northern California is now one of Sonoma County's premiere mouth and foot artists.
Her work spans from impressionism to pop art to street culture. Food and nature are among her influences and she says 'enjoys manipulating subjects in new and interesting ways', according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
[. . .]

But Tillman has been painting since she was aged five - instead using her mouth and feet.

Her website explains how her surroundings have also inspired her work.
She said: 'Living in northern California has inspired me as an artist. With our dynamic landscape, ocean, vineyards, lakes and mountains: it is truly something to behold.
'I've used the environment and colors from nature as the inspiration for my artwork.'
And added: 'When working with my clients; my goal is to create artwork that evokes a feeling or memory while enhancing ones space.
[. . .]
Some people may say painting with my mouth is a remarkable talent, however I want to be known for the quality of my artwork rather than how I created it.'
She explained how creativity was always encouraged in her household and added: 'I have been painting since I was 5 years old and haven't stopped since.'
Her past commissions include creating murals for children’s rooms, custom canvas works, greeting card designs, wedding invitation designs, decorative design and portraits.
Tillman is also a twin but they were not affected physical by the birth defect.
She is a member of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of America (MFPA), which helps support those affected by accident or birth defects.
The organisation aims to take care of its artists’ interests by helping them to sell their work, primarily in the form of reproductions as greetings cards, calendars and other paper products, according to the site.
It also gives financial, practical and creative help to disabled people who are interested in becoming students to support them in becoming fully developed artists and members of the Association.

An impressive 'feet': California woman has become a prolific artist despite rare birth defect that has left her without use of her arms or hands
Alana Ciena Tillman was born with anthrogryposis multiplex congenital
A condition that has left her unable to contract or move some of her joints
But Tillman has been painting since she was five - and uses her mouth and feet
Her work spans from impressionism to pop art to street culture
She says her habitat of north California also inspires her work
PUBLISHED: 17:49 EST, 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 19:32 EST, 28 March 2016

Designer Babies Made From Skin Cells and Sperm, May Eliminate Sex and Disabled Persons

[From article]
It has played a key role in the evolution of life on Earth, allowing a mixture of genetic material to be passed on from generation to generation.
But sex, which almost every animal and plant on the planet uses to reproduce, could be about to come to an end for one species – our own.
An expert on the ethics of genetics at Stanford University has claimed humans may be on the cusp of a monumental change in the way we breed, using laboratories rather than the bedroom to create children.[. . .]
Professor Hank Greely argues that couples will use genetic material from a few skin cells to create eggs which will then be fertilised using sperm samples taken from the prospective father.
[. . .]
According to The Times, Professor Greely said: 'In 20 to 40 years, when a couple wants a baby, he'll provide sperm and she'll provide a punch of skin.
'Parents will get the embryos grouped by categories. One category will very severe, untreatable, nasty diseases.
'This will affect one to two per cent of embryos. Another category will be other diseases. The theird is cosmetic – hair, eyes, shape, whether the hair goes white early.
'We don't know much about this yet, but we will. A fourth category is behavioural – I think here information will be limited.'
Professor Greely outlines his vision of the future in his book The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction.

He argues that stem cell technology already makes it possible to do much of what he has outlined.
Genetic tests are already used to pinpoint certain conditions in embryos used in IVF procedures and the growing understanding of the genome is extending this all the time.
Scientists have also shown it is possible to grow reproductive cells like eggs and sperm in the laboratory using stem cells.
Professor Greely says using a combination of cloning and stem cell technologies it may be possible to save women from the invasive procedures needed to harvest eggs for IVF.
Instead genetic material could be removed from a skin cell – taken from the woman's body – and then used to create stem cells.
These can then be encouraged to grow into eggs that can then be fertilised using conventional IVF techniques.
[. . .]
Professor Greely says parents advances in this technology is leading to what he calls 'easy preimplantation genetic diagnosis'. This will make sexless reproduction cheaper and easier than more traditional methods.
He says that while such procedures could be expensive, it could ultimately save society huge sums by effectively eliminating serious genetic diseases.
This could lead many to consider babies creating using old-fashioned sex as irresponsible.
But the technology could also bring serious ethical problems.
Many people are opposed to using genetic techniques to select 'designer babies' and compare it to playing God.

Professor Greely added: 'What if a woman decided to make eggs from herself and sperm from herself, and then transfer them to her own uterus?
'I don't think many people would do that, but it's a big world.'

Will designer babies end the need for sex? Humans could reproduce using skin samples within 20 years, claims geneticist
Eggs will be grown from skin cells instead of needing invasive procedures
Parents will be able to select disease free embryos with traits they want
It could lead to the eradication of genetic diseases, says Stanford expert
PUBLISHED: 07:09 EST, 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 07:11 EST, 28 March 2016

German Trains Establish Women Only Cars To Protect From Migrant Rapes

[From article]
A German train company will start operating women-only carriages, a move which has been met with controversy.
Several reports suggest that the new carriages, for women and women travelling with children, are a response to the sex-attacks in Cologne on New Years Eve, which was largely blamed on migrants.
Regiobahn line announced this week that the women-only carriages will be available for passengers travelling between Leipzig and Chemnitz.[. . .]
The women-only carriage will be situated between the train's two 'quiet' coaches and next to the on-board 'customer service representative' - train conductor.
Regiobahn line said in a statement that 'the local proximity to the customer service representative is chosen deliberately'.
This comes just days after the first person was charged over a sexual offense in connection with the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne. [. . .]
A 26-year-old Algerian man has been charged with sexual assault and theft, Cologne regional court spokesman Volker Koehler said Thursday.
He's accused of being in a group of around ten men who surrounded and groped a woman in the central train station, and of stealing her cellphone.
No trial date has been set. The man's name wasn't given because of German privacy laws.
More than 1,000 criminal complaints were filed over the crimes in Cologne, and several hundred of those alleged sexual crimes. Three suspects already have been convicted of theft.
A majority of the alleged attackers were reportedly migrants of foreign backgrounds, which fuelled the already heated debate on immigration in Germany and heightened tensions in the country.

German train operator begins women only carriages over fears of migrant attacks
German Regiobahn line to start operating women-only carriages
The carriages will allow women and women travelling with children
Coach has been 'deliberately' placed next to the conductor's office
See more news from Germany at
PUBLISHED: 10:59 EST, 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:59 EST, 28 March 2016

Pat Buchanan Recalls Eisenhower on NATO, Agrees With Trump

President Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who managed allied armies and won World War II

With dumbed down politicians, voters and journalists everywhere, Buchanan shows there are some with historical knowledge left. Even at prestigious Harvard University at a lecture at their Center for International Affairs (now the Center for Government and International Studies), by a NATO general, the scholars reacted with shock when I repeated what is reported here. In 1949 Eisenhower said if NATO exists in ten years it will be a failure. Here it is 65 years later and it is only getting bigger and becoming a more dangerous bureaucracy. This statement by Eisenhower is reported in every biography of the great President. Yet few today know what he said. The elitists who mock Trump will not recognize the wisdom of Ike. They mocked him also.  

[From article]
I am “not isolationist, but I am ‘America First,'” Donald Trump told The New York times last weekend. “I like the expression.”
Of NATO, where the U.S. underwrites three-fourths of the cost of defending Europe, Trump calls this arrangement “unfair, economically, to us,” and adds, “We will not be ripped off anymore.”
[. . .]
For the Donald’s ideas are not lacking for authoritative support.
The first NATO supreme commander, Gen. Eisenhower, said in February 1951 of the alliance: “If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project will have failed.”
As JFK biographer Richard Reeves relates, President Eisenhower, a decade later, admonished the president-elect on NATO.
“Eisenhower told his successor it was time to start bringing the troops home from Europe. ‘America is carrying far more than her share of free world defense,’ he said. It was time for other nations of NATO to take on more of the costs of their own defense.”
No Cold War president followed Ike’s counsel.
[. . .]
The conservative coalition that had united in the Cold War fractured. Some of us argued that when the Russian troops went home from Europe, the American troops should come home from Europe.
Time for a populous prosperous Europe to start defending itself.
Instead, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush began handing out NATO memberships, i.e., war guarantees, to all ex-Warsaw Pact nations and even Baltic republics that had been part of the Soviet Union.
In a historically provocative act, the U.S. moved its “red line” for war with Russia from the Elbe River in Germany to the Estonian-Russian border, a few miles from St. Petersburg.
We declared to the world that should Russia seek to restore its hegemony over any part of its old empire in Europe, she would be at war with the United States.
[. . .]

Recall. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. Lyndon Johnson did not lift a hand to save the Czechs, when Warsaw Pact armies crushed “Prague Spring” in 1968. Reagan refused to intervene when Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, on Moscow’s orders, smashed Solidarity in 1981.
These presidents put America first. All would have rejoiced in the liberation of Eastern Europe. But none would have committed us to war with a nuclear-armed nation like Russia to guarantee it.
[. . .]
While Trump is focusing on how America is bearing too much of the cost of defending Europe, it is the risks we are taking that are paramount, risks no Cold War president ever dared to take.
Why should America fight Russia over who rules in the Baltic States or Romania and Bulgaria? When did the sovereignty of these nations become interests so vital we would risk a military clash with Moscow that could escalate into nuclear war? Why are we still committed to fight for scores of nations on five continents?
Trump is challenging the mindset of a foreign policy elite whose thinking is frozen in a world that disappeared around 1991.

Is Trump Right About NATO?
Monday - March 28, 2016 at 8:12 pm
Patrick J. Buchanan