July 6, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 PM


2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images (Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia,  July 5, 2019, CNN)

At least one other social media group with an apparent nexus to Customs and Border Protection has been discovered to contain vulgar and sexually explicit posts, according to screenshots shared by two sources familiar with the Facebook pages.

The secret Facebook group, "The Real CBP Nation," which has around 1,000 members, is host to an image that mocks separating migrant families, multiple demeaning memes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and other derisive images of Asians and African Americans.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 PM


Proud Boys' D.C. Free-Speech Rally Goes Off With a Whimper: They were outnumbered by counter-protesters and served up a muddled message. (Will Sommer, 07.06.19, Daily Beast)

Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes took the stage in fake handcuffs meant to symbolize the effect of online censorship on his politics. He then attempted to wrench the handcuffs off himself to prove that he could overcome his social media bans--but could not manage it and had to be helped by someone else on stage. After the rally, McInnes claimed that was all part of his plan. 

McInnes went on to praise the fighting prowess of the all-men's Proud Boys group that he founded but claims to no longer lead. McInnes compared the Proud Boys to German soldiers fighting waves of Soviet troops in World War II. 

"That's how it feels to fight antifa," McInnes said, referring to left-wing antifascist demonstrators participating in the counterprotest.  

After a week of people whingeing about attacks on his SS?

Posted by orrinj at 1:07 PM


Free speech doesn't mean speech free from all consequences, despite what some conservatives argue: The "alt-right" claims that they are martyrs and dissidents in need of more government protection than anyone else feels particularly absurd in 2019. (Scott Lemieux, 7/06/19. nEW rEPUBLIC)

In a variant of Palin's theory that the First Amendment entails the right not to be criticized, the "Rally For Free Speech" seems premised on the idea that the First Amendment guarantees you the right to say whatever you want on any platform of your choice, whether or not the platform agrees to host those sayings. The lifetime bans given by Twitter to figures such as Loomer and Yiannopoulos loom large in these arguments.

To deal with the easiest question first: None of these people have had their First Amendment rights violated by being banned by social media platforms. The First Amendment constrains only the government, not corporations or private individuals. By definition, "big tech" cannot violate the First Amendment. Only government censorship can violate the constitution, and none of the would-be martyrs are even claiming to be victims of censorship by the state.

Not only is the government not suppressing their speech just because Twitter is preventing them from using its platform, they also have access to a major public space at the nation's capital where they can publicly claim that their speech is being suppressed to their heart's content.

To be more generous than the people making this argument deserve, however, it is true there are principles of "free speech" that go beyond the First Amendment. If you're an ordinary worker and your boss fires you for seeing a bumper sticker for a candidate he doesn't like on your car, your ability to speak your mind has been chilled -- although, unless you work for the government, your First Amendment rights have not been violated. If a ubiquitous social media site such as Facebook or Twitter were to ban, say, all registered Republicans (though the headliners of the rally are hardly representative of all Republicans) or all people with blonde hair from their sites, this would raise troubling free speech concerns (although they would be perfectly within their legal rights under current law).

But it should also be obvious that the idea that social media sites are required to host literally anything or anybody is absurd -- and nobody really believes that they are. Virtually nobody would suggest that Facebook or YouTube acted wrongly or threatened free speech by taking down footage of the New Zealand mosque shootings, for example. Facebook bans nude images -- even though mere nudity is never considered obscene under the First Amendment -- without generating campaigns suggesting that the practice bans free speech (though the policies often result in protests). Platforms make choices about what content they'd like to host and what content they won't allow.

Free speech also doesn't mean you have unfettered access to the particular forum of your choice. Liberty University doesn't violate my right to free speech if it refuses to invite me to give a speech urging Roe v. Wade to be upheld. Similarly, social media platforms are allowed to decide that their site's standards do not permit the dissemination of hate speech. Laura Loomer is free in the United States to speak as much anti-Muslim bigotry as she pleases, but when this bigotry violated the terms of Twitter's site, it was permitted to deny her access, and it did not violate her free speech rights when it does so. If anything, social media sites should be more aggressive, not less, in refusing to disseminate hate speech.

Posted by orrinj at 1:03 PM


America's Once and Future Concentration Camp: Postcards from a homeland outpost where Native Americans, Japanese-Americans, and now lone migrant children have been enemies of the state. (MATT FARWELL, July 3, 2019, New Republic)

Fort Sill is now where all United States soldiers and Marines in the artillery community, known since the time of Napoleon as "the King of Battle," come to learn or hone their craft--that is, how to precisely fire massive cannons so their shells kill a far-off enemy that they can't see. They learn how the King of Battle kills targets--people--based on guidance from forward observers. Approaching the cemetery, there is the distant, occasional percussion of small arms gunfire from the training ranges, and--depending on the day--an arrhythmic heartbeat of artillery thumps, the type that you can feel in your chest and sinuses as a small and thundery pressure differential.

On the map, the Beef Creek Apache Prisoner-of-War Cemetery--one of three Apache POW interment sites on the post--is tucked in between a helicopter landing zone and a rock dump, along a mosquito-filled waterway that flows down from the north Arbuckle Range, what the Army calls a "dudded artillery impact area"--an off-limits practice range where unexploded shells are presumed to remain stuck in the ground. On the road, the cemetery lies just past a sign that reads "Landfill & Rubble Pit, 1.5 miles."

A father of 12 named Kanesaburo Oshima was shot dead in spring 1942 trying to scale the camp's barbed wire while crying "I want to go home, I want to go home."
There have been many ways to get stuck at Fort Sill over the years, as the cemeteries attest. Before the announcement that lone undocumented children would be stuck here, there were the newly inducted soldiers, heads shaved for basic training, who all left eventually for far-flung postings and deployments. Before that, there were 707 Japanese-American civilians held prisoners on the post by the U.S. during World War II; one, a Hawaiian father of twelve named Kanesaburo Oshima, was shot dead in spring 1942 attempting to scale the camp's barbed wire while crying, "I want to go home, I want to go home."

In the throng of protesters assembling outside the Fort Sill gates after I arrived was Satsuki Ina, who was born in captivity in a similar California camp where her family had been held during the war; now 75, Ina told the assembled reporters why the protest was so important to her. "We are here," she said, "to say: 'Stop repeating history.'"

Posted by orrinj at 10:13 AM


Now you see it: Our brains predict the outcomes of our actions, shaping reality into what we expect. That's why we see what we believe (Daniel Yon, 7/06/19, Aeon)

One challenge that our brains face in monitoring our actions is the inherently ambiguous information they receive. We experience the world outside our heads through the veil of our sensory systems: the peripheral organs and nervous tissues that pick up and process different physical signals, such as light that hits the eyes or pressure on the skin. Though these circuits are remarkably complex, the sensory wetware of our brain possesses the weaknesses common to many biological systems: the wiring is not perfect, transmission is leaky, and the system is plagued by noise - much like how the crackle of a poorly tuned radio masks the real transmission.

But noise is not the only obstacle. Even if these circuits transmitted with perfect fidelity, our perceptual experience would still be incomplete. This is because the veil of our sensory apparatus picks up only the 'shadows' of objects in the outside world. To illustrate this, think about how our visual system works. When we look out on the world around us, we sample spatial patterns of light that bounce off different objects and land on the flat surface of the eye. This two-dimensional map of the world is preserved throughout the earliest parts of the visual brain, and forms the basis of what we see. But while this process is impressive, it leaves observers with the challenge of reconstructing the real three-dimensional world from the two-dimensional shadow that has been cast on its sensory surface.

Thinking about our own experience, it seems like this challenge isn't too hard to solve. Most of us see the world in 3D. For example, when you look at your own hand, a particular 2D sensory shadow is cast on your eyes, and your brain successfully constructs a 3D image of a hand-shaped block of skin, flesh and bone. However, reconstructing a 3D object from a 2D shadow is what engineers call an 'ill-posed problem' - basically impossible to solve from the sampled data alone. This is because infinitely many different objects all cast the same shadow as the real hand. How does your brain pick out the right interpretation from all the possible contenders?

All "progress" in science thrusts us farther back on the reality that all we "know" we know by faith. Post-modernism=Pre-modernism.

Posted by orrinj at 10:04 AM


Will a Trump Tweet Sabotage a Popular Bipartisan Bill to Restore Tribal Lands? (ALI TAL-MASON, JULY 05, 2019, Slate)

Last month marked the 85th anniversary of the passage of the FDR-era Indian Reorganization Act. It is now up to Congress to make this milestone a happy one. Hailed by supporters as the "Indian New Deal," the IRA was enacted in 1934 to revitalize Indian tribes by reinstating their homelands and tribal self-government. With its emphasis on restoring tribal sovereignty, culture, and land, the IRA is a staple of American Indian law and policy.

The heartbeat of the IRA is a provision that authorizes the Department of the Interior to acquire lands in trust for Indian tribes, largely exempt from state and local regulation. Trust lands provide resources and housing, and create eligibility for vital federal programs. A decade ago, however, in the 2009 decision Carcieri v. Salazar, the Supreme Court crippled the Interior Department's ability to properly administer the IRA's fee to trust provision. Two House bills presently before the Senate aim to change that.

On May 15, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 312 and H.R. 375, bipartisan measures designed to ensure that all federally recognized Indian tribes are treated equally under the IRA. Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole's H.R. 375 is critically needed to correct the damage caused by the Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Carcieri. That ruling quashed the Narragansett tribe's land trust in Rhode Island by effectively reinterpreting the IRA to apply only to tribes that were federally acknowledged at the time of its enactment in 1934. The court's finding that the Narragansett tribe was not "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934, an issue that was not even briefed by the parties, countermanded more than 70 years of agency policy, congressional mandates, and the court's own standard of review. In addition, it ignored that federal acknowledgment can only be obtained if a tribe proves that it "has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900." H.R. 375 is a Carcieri fix that reasserts that the IRA applies to "any federally recognized Indian Tribe."

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Bill Keating's H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, meanwhile, is a narrowly tailored Band-Aid bill that restores the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's reservation lands in Massachusetts and reinstates an Interior land trust decision that was invalidated by a Carcieri challenge. It exemplifies the lengthy, costly, and circuitous route federally recognized tribes must now follow post-Carcieri to try to secure their trust lands.

However, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's plans to build a casino near the Rhode Island border are opposed by the same c[***]no interests that benefited from the Carcieri decision. Just before the House vote on H.R. 312, seemingly out of nowhere, President Donald Trump weighed in and tweeted--invoking the racial slur that he devised as a nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren--that Republicans should not vote for it: "Republicans shouldn't vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren."

Posted by orrinj at 10:02 AM


Long-Term Smoking Might Change Your Personality (Lacy Schley | July 5, 2019, Discover)

The paper outlines a series of five different long-term studies -- four in the U.S. and one in Japan -- that collectively surveyed about 15,500 people. Experts at a handful of different universities started the projects to track a whole host of things over time, like physical and mental health, relationships, behavior, etc. But for the purposes of this paper, the authors were only interested in the link between personality and smoking.

In each of the different studies, participants, who ranged in age from 20 to 92 years old, filled out a questionnaire that asked them about their smoking habits. The surveys included questions meant to assess where the participants fell on a spectrum of five personality traits, often called the Big Five: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. Then, anywhere from four to 18 years later (depending on the studies), the same participants filled out the same survey again. Researchers flagged those who had quit smoking since their first survey and put them into their own "smoking cessation" group.

The results showed that, overall, people who smoked were more likely to report becoming less extraverted, open, agreeable and conscientious over the years, while also becoming more neurotic.

Posted by orrinj at 10:00 AM


California Borrowed $3 Billion for Embryonic Stem Cell Research in 2004. It Hasn't Cured a Single Patient (WESLEY SMITH   JUL 5, 2019, LifeNews)

Back in 2004, the university-biotech complex and its camp followers in the media and Hollywood convinced California voters to borrow $3 Billion to establish the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Its purpose was to pay for embryonic stem-cell and human-cloning research over which the federal-government imposed funding restrictions.

The campaign promised cures, and sold itself as a way to defy Bush's modest embryonic stem-cell federal-funding restrictions. Fifteen years later, the money is running out -- and whaddya know? It turns out the promises were mostly hype -- as many opponents of Proposition 71 warned at the time.

Using fetal cells was always ideology, not science.  It was supported only because it was anti-moral.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Russian state TV hosts mocked Trump's July 4th event as 'low energy' (Ellen Ioanes, 7/05/19, Business Insider)

Russian state media mocked President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" July Fourth event, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The hosts of Rossiya 1's "60 Minutes" program, Yevgeny Popov and Olga Skabeyeva, both scoffed at the footage of tanks rolling into Washington, DC, ahead of Trump's military extravaganza.

"The greatest parade of all times is going to be held today in Washington, that is what our Donald Trump has said. The American president announced he would show us the newest tanks," Popov said.

Popov told the audience that, "these are Abrams and Sherman tanks, used during World War II and withdrawn from service in 1957."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump Is Falling Almost 1 Million Jobs Short Vs. Obama (Chuck Jones, 7/05/19, Forbes)

Trump entered office on January 20, 2017, and starting with February 2017 he has been President for 29 months. Total job growth during that time has been 5.613 million or 194,000 per month with those results being helped by the tax cut.

Working back from January 2017, Obama's last month in office, there had been 6.423 million jobs added or 221,000 per month. The difference for the 29 months is 810,000 more jobs or 27,000 more per month than Trump.