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Thread: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    A good example of how the prison bulls rob us of any dignity we have left:

    Calls For Maine's Governor To Resign Grow After Voicemail Is Made Public


    Maine Gov. Paul LePage is under fire for a series of racial slurs and a profanity-laced voicemail threatening a legislator, who's a Democrat. Maine Republican leaders are refusing to censure him.

    STEVE INSKEEP:

    Long before Donald Trump ran for president, the state of Maine elected Paul LePage. The governor is known for his blunt statements. It's part of his image. But some of his latest words have left Maine lawmakers urging him to quit or else seek mental health treatment. A trigger was a threatening obscenity-laced voicemail to a lawmaker. On that voicemail, LePage urged the lawmaker to make the recording public, which he did.

    STEVE MISTLER, BYLINE: It took an angry voice message punctuated with two gay slurs to awaken Maine politics from its traditional pre-Labor Day slumber.


    PAUL LEPAGE: You little son of a [expletive], socialist [expletive]. You - I need to just freaking - I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you.

    MISTLER: Governor LePage followed his message to a Democratic lawmaker by telling two reporters that he fantasized about a duel and pointing his weapon right between the legislator's eyes. And boom, the governor rocked Maine's political landscape, generating headlines across the country.

    SARA GIDEON: This kind of behavior is not normal behavior. It is not just not what we expect of our governor; it's also not what we expect of any human being who is functioning normally in society.

    MISTLER: Assistant House Leader Sara Gideon says a political intervention is needed. She says the governor is unfit for office and should resign. Some Republican lawmakers who have shown deference to the governor are increasingly uneasy. State Senator Amy Volk wondered whether the governor suffers from, quote, "substance abuse, mental illness or just ignorance."

    Those statements marked the first time elected officials gave voice to the whispers sometimes used to explain LePage's conduct. On Tuesday, a crowd of about 500 people heard speakers question the governor's mental well-being during a rally urging him to step down. During the rally, Pastor William Barter spoke as if the state of Maine was in an abusive relationship.


    WILLIAM BARTER: There are many sensible people in Maine of all parties now asking the question, should we break up with our abuser?

    MISTLER: It was an ironic metaphor since LePage himself has said he was abused as a child. LePage's tenure as governor has been a six-year odyssey of the impolitic, from crude sexual references about a Democratic senator to his granting an audience to anti-government extremists who suggested the public execution of two Democratic legislative leaders. But LePage weathered those controversies, winning re-election just two years ago. And he quashed an impeachment effort earlier this year. He cleared a key hurdle yesterday, when House Republicans announced the controversy wasn't enough to censure him.

    LePage has offered mixed messages about his plans. Yesterday, he signaled he was contemplating resigning. But later in the day, he paraphrased Mark Twain, tweeting that, quote, "reports of his political demise are greatly exaggerated." Democrats here are sticking to their call for resignation. They cited LePage's repeated and false assertion that black and Hispanic drug dealers are the enemy and primarily responsible for the opioid epidemic. But Democrats here have limited control over LePage's fate. While some new Republicans have emerged to express their dismay, it's unclear if they have the collective desire to get rid of him.
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 08-31-2016 at 05:06 PM.

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    Another victim of the real conspiracy:

    Brazil's Senate To Vote On Whether To Remove Suspended President


    President Dilma Rousseff was suspended 3 months ago on charges she manipulated the federal budget to cover government debts ahead of an election. The Senate votes Wednesday on whether to remove her.

    STEVE INSKEEP:

    Senators in Brazil spent the whole night talking. They are giving speeches before voting today on whether to remove Dilma Rousseff, the president, permanently from power. This has been a trial - an impeachment trial. It's been dramatic. It's been grueling. The president herself testified for 14 hours straight on Monday. The question is whether this is enough to keep her in power.

    LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO

    INSKEEP: What's it like to watch this trial hour after hour?

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's extraordinary. As you can imagine, this is an historic moment for Brazil. And it's just something that has been going on for months and months and months. And this is now the end-game. Yesterday, the final case by the prosecution and defense were made to the senators. And there was this surreal moment, Steve, where one of the prosecutors, Janaina Paschoal, who was advocating Rousseff's impeachment, she burst into tears in her closing argument. She asked for Rousseff's forgiveness because she did not mean to cause Rousseff pain. And she concluded with this statement.


    JANAINA PASCHOAL: (Through interpreter) I hope one day she understands that I did this for her grandchildren.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm not sure she will understand that, but she was not alone in her tears. The defense lawyer, Jose Eduardo Cardoso, also wept openly after giving his defense. Then, 66 senators spent almost the whole night giving their speeches. They were speaking out in favor and against Rousseff. And that broke down, generally speaking, between those who are left of center, like Rousseff, or from the right of center. And here is right-leaning Senator Aecio Neves, who ran against Rousseff and lost in 2014 in the presidential elections, giving his speech before the vote.


    AECIO NEVES: (Through interpreter) The consequence of these illegal acts with the loss of the credibility of the country, the deepening of the economic crisis with its effects on the daily life of Brazilians. The most perverse consequence of the acts of the president of the republic are the 12 million unemployed in our country.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: And then, Senator Humberto Costa, from Rousseff's Workers' Party, had this to say.

    HUMBERTO COSTA: (Through interpreter) This is a coup disguised as an impeachment whose objective is to remove from power a democratically elected leader.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: So high drama, Steve. Those are the two arguments - either she sank the country through fiscal trickery, or she's the victim of a conspiracy.

    INSKEEP: What does the president say?

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, lots, actually. As you mentioned, she spoke for 14 hours on Monday - sometimes emotionally - about her experience as a left-wing guerrilla who was tortured under Brazil's dictatorship. She said she's an honest politician, in marked contrast to many of those who are sitting in judgment of her. Some 60 percent of the congress in Brazil has been implicated in some sort of criminal wrongdoing, if you can imagine. You know, one senator who spoke in favor of her impeachment yesterday has been already condemned by the supreme court of Brazil to four years in prison for corruption, and yet he is still in office and able to vote on this matter. So, you know, very, very odd situation and certainly one that is causing a lot of tongues to wag in Brazil.

    INSKEEP: So part of her defense can be, whatever I did, I've risen above the standards of the people judging me. OK, is that going to be enough to save her?

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, it's not. You know, the pro-impeachment votes top 60. It's estimated only 54 were needed. We'll have to wait for the official tally, but it's a foregone conclusion at this point.

    INSKEEP: How much do people talk about this on the streets?

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, my gosh, it's something that everyone is talking about. Everyone is glued to the television sets. Every restaurant that you go into, every cafe has this on live. However, the reaction on the streets has been muted. We haven't seen large protests. We only saw one in Sao Paolo yesterday - about 500 people. It did get violent, but it was small compared to the massive protests, the historic protests that we saw happen that were seeking her ouster. So she's not really going out with a bang, but kind of with a whimper in many ways. Yes, she has her supporters, Steve, but even the people who wanted to remain in power who think that this was indeed a coup had trouble naming something that she herself had accomplished. You know, everyone sees her instead as sort of the embodiment of continuity, someone who pursued the leftist policies of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He basically appointed her as his anointed successor. But most of the analysts that I spoke to say she wasn't up to the task. She just didn't know how to govern.

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    Administrator Harley's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Bomm View Post
    However, the reaction on the streets has been muted. We haven't seen large protests.
    Really!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ‘Temer out!’ Pro-Rousseff protests rage across Brazil denouncing impeachment (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    01 SEP 2016



    Supporters of Dilma Rousseff staged mass protests following the impeachment of the country’s first female president. As Michel Temer took charge of the country, pro-Rousseff rallies took place in at least ten states, with some resulting in violence.

    READ MORE: ‘Coup against democracy’: Bolivia, Venezuela & Ecuador recall ambassadors over Rousseff impeachment

    The greatest act of civil disobedience took place in Sao Paulo, where protesters clashed with police on Avenida Paulista, in the downtown area; in Rio de Janeiro, where activists gathered in Cinelandia square; and in Brasilia, where activists rallied in the Praca dos Tres Poderes square.

    The Pro-Dilma demonstrations and those against the effective president, Michel Temer, also took place in Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Norte, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Ceara, Parana and Para.

    The biggest standoff took place in Sao Paulo where for a third-day a coalition of leftist groups continued staging protests that end up in clashes with authorities and rival groups. Organized through the use of social media, the Brazil Popular Front and People Fearless movement managed to mobilize thousands for the rally.

    Scuffles with police in Brazil’s largest city took place as the pro-Rousseff rally was met with equal support by the pro President Michel Temer demonstration.

    As the pro-Temer camp celebrated Rousseff’s impeachment with cakes and champagne in front of the headquarters of the Federation of Sao Paulo State Industries (FIESP), a pro-Rousseff group gathered near Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP). Clashes with police followed.

    According to police, at around 8:30pm local time, the pro-Rousseff camp began to “set fire to piles of garbage and attacking police with stones” forcing military police to intervene with tear gas. The statement added during clashes at least one officer was wounded and taken to a hospital.

    As scuffles continued protesters trashed shops, bank windows and attacked several bus stations. Some protesters even managed to vandalize police vehicles, Globo reports. They also attacked police lines with firecrackers.



    In downtown Rio a protest organized by Frente Brasil Popular and trade unions seen more than five thousand people gather in Praca Floriano Peixoto Square (Cinelandia) to protest the impeachment vote by the Senate on Wednesday.

    Shouting “out Temer” the activists held up signs against the new president that was sworn into office until 2019. Activists believe the impeachment was nothing short of a coup.



    The protesters walked to the door of the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN) yelling pro-Rousseff slogans. Along the way, the crowd was accompanied by police as the march went on to close two of Rio’s main roads. Protesters began to disperse by 9:00pm after occupying the square in front of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj).

    READ MORE: Brazil Senate votes 61-20 to impeach President Rousseff for breaking budget laws

    Thousands have also cheered on Rousseff in Brasilia where the Brazilian Senate voted 61-20 to impeach Rousseff over corruption allegations, following three days of debates. As Michel Temer was officially sworn in as Brazil’s new president, crowds in Praca dos Tres Poderes square condemned the lawmakers’ decision to oust the democratically elected president.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't know. Maybe they might wanna rethink their plan?

    Harley

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    I'm really confused about which conspiracy does what but I do know that all of them maintain we can't allow the conspirators' minions to care about one another. This article evidences another example of how caring is detrimental to civilization.

    How Domestic Violence In One Home Affects Every Child In A Class

    GABRIELLE EMANUEL
    Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students
    Bear vs. Girl

    Every Monday morning at Harvie Elementary School, in Henrico County, Va., Brett Welch stands outside her office door as kids file in.

    "The first thing I'm looking for are the faces," says Welch, a school counselor. She's searching for hints of fear, pain or anger.

    "Maybe there was a domestic incident at the house that weekend," says Welch. "That's reality for a lot of our kids."

    And a reality for a lot of kids in the U.S. While it's difficult to get an exact number, researchers estimate that between 10 and 20 percent of children are exposed to domestic violence each year.

    New data quantifies what many teachers and school counselors already know: While such violence often takes place outside of school, its repercussions resonate in the classroom.

    It hurts not only the kids who witness the violence, but also their classmates. The harm is evident in lower test scores as well as lower rates of college attendance and completion. And the impact extends past graduation — it can be seen in lower earnings later in life.

    "It's a sad story," says Scott Carrell, economist at the University of California, Davis, who has studied this for over a decade.

    But, he says, there's one thing he and his colleagues – economists Mark Hoekstra and Elira Kuka – found that can improve the situation "not only for that family but for all the child's classmates." What was it? Reporting domestic violence when it happens.

    Violence At Home. Disruption At School.

    Brett Welch says she's noticed that kids who act out at school often come from tough home situations.

    "Instead of asking for help, they'll start being disruptive," Welch explains.

    "They'll ask to go to the bathroom for the 15th time. And when they can't, they'll raise their voices. It can get to the level of throwing a chair – but that's very rare."

    Kids who witness domestic violence are more likely to get in trouble at school and have behavioral problems, including being aggressive and bullying their classmates.

    Welch says she understands why: School is "where they can feel powerful because they are completely powerless at home."

    She often works with those kids one-on-one or in small groups. She wants them to have at least one relationship where "they feel listened to and they feel respected and they know someone cares. That can change everything for them."

    Around the country there aren't enough counselors like Welch to go around. Not all states require elementary schools to have counselors. And even where they are required, there can be large caseloads. Sometimes one counselor covers multiple schools and oversees more than 1,000 students.

    Welch is stretched so thin she's only at Harvie Elementary two days a week. But a kid may need Welch's support at any time — and mornings in particular are key.

    The first 10 minutes after a student arrives at school in the morning is a critical window, Welch says. If she's able to catch them and make them feel heard, "it can completely change their day" — and it can change their classmates' days, too.

    Influence On Classmates

    If one kid is having a hard day, Brett Welch says, it influences the rest of the children in the classroom.

    "It takes the teacher's attention, it interrupts learning and it interrupts the flow of the day." She says she can see the impact on classmates' academic work.

    Scott Carrell's data confirms what Welch has observed.

    He links lots of academic metrics – like test scores, discipline infractions and college graduation rates — with court records on whether a parent has filed a restraining order.

    Now, domestic violence and restraining orders happen in all the schools Carrell examined. But they were 10 times more likely to happen in the school serving the poorest population compared with the school serving the wealthiest population. So to make sure he wasn't just seeing the effect of poverty, Carrell came up with a clever solution.

    He looked at siblings – who come from the same family and go to the same school – but one sibling has a classmate who's struggling with domestic violence and the other sibling doesn't.

    Examining lots of sibling pairs and crunching almost two decades worth of data, Carrell found that your classmates – and whether or not they come from a home with domestic violence – influence how well you do in school and beyond.

    Measuring harm in dollar figures, Carrell looked at wages when the students grew up. He found that: "exposure to an additional disruptive peer throughout elementary school leads to a 3 to 4 percent reduction in earnings at age 24 to 28."

    Carrell says that number adds up quickly — because, in a class of 25 kids, that's a 3 or 4 percent drop in wages for each person. Plus, if your classroom has multiple children from troubled homes, the tests scores get lower and lower and the wages drop gets bigger and bigger with each additional disruptive child.

    Carrell argues this has implications for how to make schools and classrooms fair. He says, ideally, we would avoid concentrating disruptive kids in the same classroom or the same school.

    And Carrell says his biggest takeaway is that "society has a vested interest in helping those families that are struggling with domestic violence. The more we can help other households, the better off our children will be."

    What can be done to improve things?

    Carrell and his colleagues found one thing that, they say, really helps: parents reporting the domestic violence.

    After reporting it, "things get better."

    Carrell says there are three things that might account for this: First, the violence in the homes may have stopped. Second, another adult has decided to make some positive changes in the child's life. Third, people like Brett Welch get involved.

    Reporting domestic violence forces the school to pay attention, and often that means the school counselors get involved.

    Welch talks to students about finding safe places in their homes. She works on anger management. She helps kids improve their emotional vocabulary.

    Vickie Fahed, a kindergarten teacher at Harvie Elementary, says she can see Welch's impact on a child. When Fahed has angry or disruptive children, she sends them down the hallway to see Welch.

    "The child comes back so relaxed and so at peace," Fahed says.

    When that child is at ease, the whole class can focus. And that translates into higher test scores and better graduation rates for the child and their classmates.

    All this is great — at least on Mondays and Thursdays, when Welch is here.

    "You can tell when she's not here in this building," says Fayed. "It's a big difference. We're like: 'Okay, she's not here today? Okay, wait till tomorrow.' "

    On the days Brett Welch is in the building, she stands by the door as students leave.

    "You tell them that you love them because you do," Welch says. "And because maybe that's what they need to be able to get through whatever they need to get through at home."

    And, both Brett Welch and Scott Carrell say, if the child's home life gets better, things will get better at school — for that child, and for their classmates.

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    This one I read and then completely discarded as just another attempt to convince me I deserved to be locked up. I say b.s.

    The Clinton Health Rumors Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon. Here's Why

    DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN - square 2015

    Even trying to discredit the idea that Hillary Clinton is in poor health may make the problem worse.

    Recently, I wrote about why many believe Hillary Clinton is in poor health. As a result, readers sent me tweets providing more "evidence" — this time, that her eyes point in different directions.

    Truth B. Told @TruthBT2016
    @titonka #Fraud Here is the Seizure. Here are her eyes. #WheresHillary #HillarysStools #HillarysPillow #DNCLeaks


    @TruthBT2016 @titonka #HillarysDysconjugateGaze right eye straight, left eye pointing down.

    To be clear, there is no evidence that Clinton in in failing health. But this belief in entirely unfounded narratives isn't new; American politics has spawned a variety of out-there theories adopted by people on both sides of the aisle — that Sept. 11 was an inside job, for example, or that President Obama was born in Kenya.

    There's no hard evidence for these stories, but sizable shares of the American public have believed them. It turns out that it's really hard to change people's minds once they believe a piece of misinformation — even when there's better, contradictory data. In fact — and troublingly for those of us who write about these things — even refuting these rumors in a news story (yes, like we have done) can backfire and make people believe them more.

    In addition, political science research has found that some of the most immovable forces in American politics — polarization, low trust and opportunistic politicians — seem destined to keep these evidence-free ideas in Americans' heads.

    How misinformation gets lodged in our brains

    To understand why it's so hard to get our minds to unlatch from some of these ideas, it helps to know why people latch on in the first place. Here's a quick rundown of the possibilities that political science and psychological research have uncovered:

    Low trust. Here's a factor that makes obvious sense. Various studies have shown that a lack of trust, whether in other people or governmental figures, is associated with a willingness to believe conspiracy theories, as Slate outlined in 2013. In a 2015 study, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Colorado State University likewise found that low trust in a variety of areas (in government, the media, law enforcement, and other people) is correlated with a person's willingness to believe conspiracy theories — and in particular, theories that make the other party look bad.

    It's not hard to see how people who don't trust the government also buy into theories about cover-ups and shadowy plots: "if they believe the world is a trustworthy place, they are less able to convince themselves that political rivals are engaging in nefarious, secretive plots," the authors of that 2015 study wrote.

    (However, the causality may flow in both directions here; another recent study from researchers at Boston University showed that exposure to conspiracy theories made people more likely to distrust the government.)

    Motivated reasoning. This is a bit of jargon for the idea that people will interpret new information in a way that confirms their existing worldviews and identities — even when that information contradicts how they think. For example, when a new study shows evidence of climate change, a climate change skeptic might shrug it off as a bad study, a fluke or a hoax.

    So it's not terribly surprising that if you identify strongly as a Democrat, you'd be more likely to believe misinformation that paints Republicans in a bad light, and vice versa. This is also tied to low trust — if you firmly believe the government is untrustworthy, you might be more willing to believe that it faked a moon landing, for example, even if evidence says otherwise.

    During the George W. Bush presidency, far more Democrats than Republicans believed that the U.S. government was covering up information about the Sept. 11 attacks. Likewise, surveys have shown that a large share of Republicans believe President Obama is Muslim — in one 2015 survey, it was 43 percent, compared with 15 percent of Democrats.

    Even worse, the trend of increased political polarization — like the U.S. has been experiencing for decades — may further boost the motivated reasoning effect, according to a 2013 study.

    As people dig in to their positions and identify thoroughly with a particular side, that can make changing misguided beliefs all the harder; our beliefs become linked to who we think we are. As Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan — one of the foremost researchers in the field of why people believe misinformation — put it in a 2016 paper, beliefs "seem to be closely linked to people's worldviews and may be accordingly difficult to dislodge without threatening their identity or sense of self."

    Party identification. Low trust is associated with a readiness to believe conspiracy theories with Democrats and Republicans alike, but the same may not be true for political knowledge. The 2015 study that found that low trust is associated with belief in misinformation also found that high-knowledge conservatives were more likely to believe unfounded theories, while the same wasn't true of liberals.

    If that's true, then "it means that conservative politicians and pundits can more readily rely on conspiracies as an effective means to activate their base than liberals," the authors wrote.

    Importantly, however, this may be a function of current politics — that is, at a time when a Democratic president has been in office for nearly eight years. Right now, in particular, Republicans far more than Democrats believe they are the "losers" in politics, as Kyle Saunders, one of the study's authors, pointed out in an email.

    That may be one reason for the discrepancy in their willingness to believe in conspiracy theories about Democrats — after all, people who believe their team is losing are also more likely to feel angry and frustrated at the government, as the Pew Research Center has found. And, likewise, it might square with the fact that conspiracy theories against Republicans were common while Bush was in office.

    Repetition. Simply talking about a rumor — even when you're correcting it — can make people believe it more. In one study last year, MIT political science professor Adam Berinsky presented subjects with news stories about Obamacare "death panels" and the idea that elderly patients would be forced to discuss euthanasia with their doctors.

    The stories came in a few different types: Some simply mentioned the rumor, but others mentioned the rumor along with refutations from a nonpartisan source like the American Medical Association or a Democratic or Republican politician.

    He found that GOP refutations were the most effective — a Republican senator saying, "No, there is no euthanasia clause in the ACA" would seem to change people's minds more than the American Medical Association. Meanwhile, hearing the rumors alongside a correction from a nonpartisan or Democratic source may have even raised the number of people who accepted the rumors.

    Not only that, but he also found that asking people to recall the entire articles weeks later — even articles containing refutations — made them more likely to believe the rumors than if they were asked to recall a minor detail from the articles. That is evidence of what psychologists call "fluency" — the notion that people will find a more familiar idea more believable.

    (This means covering particularly loud rumors becomes a dilemma for journalists: Covering it could spread misinformation, but not covering it means not explaining a story to your audience. The best answer, Nyhan wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review, is to label conspiracy theories for what they are, and not give them more room than necessary.)

    So how do you get misinformation out of people's heads?

    The above list provides a few clues to how people's false beliefs could be reversed ... and it isn't promising. For his part, Berinsky says that he feels he has been "largely unsuccessful" in figuring out how to get people to give up their unfounded beliefs.

    One less-than-encouraging trend: Trust in government — as well as a variety of institutions, and even in other people — has plummeted in recent decades. Reversing that kind of a seismic shift in the national psyche could be next to impossible.

    Likewise, if polarization does make motivated reasoning worse, that's another big problem. Polarization among congressional members is at its highest point since at least the late 19th century, and polarization among Americans has also grown drastically, a result of an array of factors that seem difficult, if not impossible to reverse: self-sorting; segmented media; the political issues that are important; and the party realignments of the 1960s and '70s.

    However, there are a few lessons here: For example, getting the right person to do the fact-checking can make all the difference. Berinsky pointed to McDonalds' decision years ago to get rid of Super Size fries, amid widespread demand for more healthful fast-food options.

    "If a business is selling french fries and they're telling you french fries aren't good for you, that's a really credible source," Berinsky said.

    That means a Democrat denouncing Sept. 11 "truthers" or John McCain telling a town hall attendee that Obama is not a Muslim would probably be more effective corrections than if a nonpartisan source had made them.

    So when former Speaker of the House (and Trump supporter) Newt Gingrich warned Fox & Friends hosts against trusting TV-doctor diagnoses ...

    ... that might have served to shake a few #HillaryHealth believers.

    Journalists can also learn a few useful things from these studies. Repeating a rumor too much can make it stick, for example. Furthermore, using graphics in a fact check seems to make it stick more easily, as Nyhan has found.

    The broader picture

    Political conspiracy theories are nothing new in the U.S. — just look to Richard Hofstadter's classic 1964 essay on the "paranoid style in American politics" for proof. He lists our country's long history of believing in shadowy forces — in the 1700s and 1800s, conspiracy theories about Masons and the Illuminati were common, for example.

    Still, there's some evidence — if anecdotal — that the problem is getting worse. In a December article on conspiracy theories, Vox's Dave Roberts pointed to a quote from Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, as reported by Ryan Lizza:

    "The overwhelming majority of [Rep. Nunes's] constituent mail is now about the far-out ideas, and only a small portion is 'based on something that is mostly true.' He added, 'It's dramatically changed politics and politicians, and what they're doing.' "

    Belief in rumors and conspiracy theories appears shallow, but widespread — it's not that there are a lot of Americans who fear chemtrails, wear tinfoil hats, and believe that mysterious cigarette-smoking men are hiding the truth about UFOs. In that 2015 paper, Berinsky presented subjects with seven rumors, and found that only 5 percent of subjects believed all seven. However, each subject believed 1.8 on average.

    "It's not that there are some people who believe a lot of crazy things," Berinsky has said. "There are a lot of people who believe some crazy things."

    All this means politicians can usually rely on at least some people to believe and spread misinformation. That means some exploit that power (and will continue to do so). Reversing all this misinformation? That ... well, that could take a while.

    "All in all, this would appear to be a difficult cycle to break as identities have become even more hardened over time," Saunders said. "Things can change, and the feedback loop can be escaped, but it will be a long, slow process unless dramatic change occurs on the American political landscape."

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    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    On one of my library privilege days I read an article concerning voter fraud in the United States. It claimed the below article was true. I laughed out loud when I read that:
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    Among the conservative talking points that refuse to die is the idea that there is widespread voter fraud in America. The most recent warning about the scourge of illegal voting came from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who recently claimed "the fact is voter fraud is rampant."

    That's simply not true, as many new outlets reported. (See here, here, and here). According to Politifact, there were just 85 prosecutions for voter fraud in Texas from 2002 to 2015, and not all of them led to convictions. That's a paltry number considering that more than 42 million ballots were cast in the state's general elections from 2002 to 2014.

    The reality is that voter fraud—which includes a range of offenses from impersonating another voter to casting more than one vote—is extraordinarily rare. And the tsunami of voter ID laws, address requirements, and sloppy purges of voter rolls has made it much harder for Americans—particularly minorities and poor voters—to cast their ballots.

    Here are some selections from our reporting on the voter fraud myth and the impact of anti-voter-fraud laws:

    • The rate of fraud in US elections is close to zero.
    • UFO sightings are more common than voter fraud.
    • So is getting struck by lightning.
    • Florida’s aggressive efforts to root out voter fraud before the 2000 election erroneously purged 12,000 names from the voter rolls—of the 12,000, 44 percent, more than 4,700 voters—were African American. That was more than enough votes to change the outcome of that year's presidential election.
    • Native Americans are fighting a slew of high-stakes legal battles over voting rights; many of the lawsuits are linked to rules that were designed to prevent voting fraud.
    • Voter ID laws are among a host of hurdles that minorities face when they cast a ballot.
    • A national voter ID card could end the debate on voter fraud, but both parties hate that idea.
    • GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz's Iowa chairman spent $250,000 to stop people from voting.
    • Interestingly, a conservative activist inadvertently demonstrated how hard it is to commit voter fraud.


    Despite all that nonsense there is an effort to do this:

    White House Considers Steps To Protect Voting Systems From Hackers

    BRIAN NAYLOR
    Given the threat of cyber attacks, the Obama administration may designate U.S. election systems as "critical infrastructure." But not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

    ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

    The Obama administration is weighing steps to protect the nation's voting systems from hackers. That comes with word this month that at least two state voter databases in Arizona and Illinois may have been compromised. One step the administration is considering is declaring election systems part of the national critical infrastructure. But as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

    BRIAN NAYLOR: There are some 9,000 state and local governments that run elections. The federal government is not involved. Still, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says there is a vital national interest in protecting the election process, and therefore...

    JEH JOHNSON: We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid.

    NAYLOR: The federal government has designated 16 such critical infrastructures which also include food production and transportation. It means they are considered vital to national security, economic security or public health and that the federal government will work with the owners and operators to help strengthen them from physical or cyber threats.

    In the case of voting systems, any federal involvement would likely be an advisory role, says former Homeland Security official Bruce McConnell.

    BRUCE MCCONNELL: This just puts them in the position to give advice and assistance. It doesn't give DHS any regulatory authority.

    NAYLOR: But there is some skepticism about Washington's motives when it comes to the election system. Brian Kemp is Georgia's secretary of state.

    BRIAN KEMP: I think it would give the opportunity for the federal government to stick its nose under the tent, if you will, of state election systems. So that's a big concern that I have.

    NAYLOR: Kemp, a Republican, says he's open to sharing information with other states and Washington to better secure election systems but that running elections should remain a local responsibility.

    KEMP: The Constitution was set up to give the states this power. There's value in having the states doing that because you have multiple systems and multiple jurisdictions. And you know, elections is not a one-size-fits-all operation that I believe to be run by the federal government.

    NAYLOR: California's Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, says he understands that concern but does see value in having some federal input.

    ALEX PADILLA: I think there's a lot to be gained here. Nothing is more critical for maintaining the integrity of our democracy than the public's confidence in our voting systems and in the election results. So if the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice or any other federal agencies can help us fulfill that, I certainly welcome the dialogue.

    NAYLOR: Whether or not the nation's voting systems are critical infrastructure, Joe Hall with the Center for Democracy and Technology says they certainly are neglected infrastructure.

    JOE HALL: The voting systems out there in general are 10- to 15-, 20-year-old computer systems, which means they can't really protect themselves in the modern sort of risk and threat environment that they're in right now. And because of that, they are quite vulnerable.

    NAYLOR: The positive side is that few voting machines connect directly to the internet, but there are other ways of hacking them. It's unclear when any designation of voting systems as critical infrastructure might occur. The White House says an active discussion is underway. But a Homeland Security official says such a designation would not take place before this upcoming election.
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 09-04-2016 at 06:41 AM.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    This is not an example of white privilege and I have plenty of proof when I look around me. I'm on death row but I do on rare occasions interact with those on other cell blocks, so when I see mostly societal others, old, destitute, handicapped, women, and children (they're the worst) I recognize that we do indeed belong here...we are all of us, simply worthless by virtually all measures.

    Brock Turner Freed From Jail After Serving Half Of 6-Month Sentence

    Brock Turner was released from county jail Friday.

    Three months after he received a lenient punishment for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford University, Brock Turner left the Santa Clara County Main Jail on Friday morning. He served half of a six-month sentence that drew a furious public response.

    Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was widely criticized for levying the six-month jail sentence rather than a six-year prison term prosecutors had sought. And the judge's comments that day — "A prison sentence would have a severe impact on [Turner]. I think he will not be a danger to others." — fueled talk of race and privilege both in America's criminal justice system and on its college campuses.

    Persky, who's a Stanford graduate, was later removed from a new and unrelated sexual assault case; last week, his request to be reassigned to civil court was granted.

    It's common for California inmates to be released early for good behavior. Turner's release this morning attracted protesters; member station KQED describes the scene:

    " 'He's gone. We're done with him. He belongs in prison,' said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith after Turner, separated by barricades and sheriff's deputies, walked a gauntlet of media and protesters to a waiting white SUV.
    "Sandra Pfeiffer was one of a small number of demonstrators who watched Turner leave jail.
    " 'Other people get locked away for a very long time. Why did he get out after 90 days?' said Pfeiffer, who said she is a rape survivor. 'Why? Why? It doesn't make sense.' "
    Smith also voiced her support for a recently approved bill that's poised to become law in California, one that requires a prison sentence — not a stint in county jail — for anyone who's convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated person.

    Turner, 21, is expected to return to his native Ohio to live with his parents. Once there, he'll be required to register as a sex offender.

    After Persky's decision to impose the six-month sentence made headlines, an online petition calling for his removal from the bench drew more than 1.3 million signatures.

    The case also highlighted the intensely disparate effects and views of sexual assault. Turner's father was quoted as saying his son was being punished for "20 minutes of action," as NPR's Richard Gonzales reported.

    The victim in the case, who wasn't a student at Stanford at the time of the assault, read a statement in court in which she said in part, "I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect."

    The victim also wondered how the case would have been handled if her attacker had been a different person:

    "If I had been sexually assaulted by an un-athletic guy from a community college, what would his sentence be? If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be?"

    The case put a new spotlight on the fight against campus rape as well as on Stanford University.

    One week after Turner's sentence was announced, the school was found to have five federal complaints about its handling of sexual violence — the most cases under review of any school on the list published by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Turner's case was not on the list; it was handled by the criminal justice system, not by Stanford.
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 09-03-2016 at 10:11 AM.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    Yesterday was a routine day on the cell block, save one redeeming interlude, yesterday was library privilege day, awarded for good behavior typically. Fast forward to the library's bank of lounges and despite all appearances I'm not sleeping, I'm actually, with my eyes closed, ruminating on conspiracies, conspirators and their minions. I'm thinking that Minions are usually low on the conspirator hierarchy but from experience I know that the higher ups consider minions essential but curious creatures. They have no mission, no clue, and are motivated in whole by self-serving interests. Yet, they perform a vital function for the cause, they are the tools that turn the screws of the machinery. As I awoke, oops, I meant as I lazily opened my eyes and began perusing the old, well worn racks of books, periodicals, and newspapers, Carl Jung's synchronicity performed its ethereal magic. I spotted an article that was a perfect example of what I had been thinking:

    Allegations Reveal How Roger Ailes Ran Fox News By Projecting Power

    DAVID FOLKENFLIK - square 666

    Roger Ailes ran Fox News by projecting power rather than trustworthiness. NPR takes a renewed look at the network in light of this summer's revelations.

    ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

    Now a look at what drove former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. After a former anchor filed a lawsuit against him this summer, other revelations came fast - accusations of sexual harassment, women paid to walk away and critics intimidated. Finally, Ailes was forced out in July. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik.

    DAVID FOLKENFLIK: For years, Fox News has had towering posters at its headquarters bearing a slogan that's also a common refrain on the air.


    UNIDENTIFIED NEWSCASTER: You're watching the most powerful name in news, Fox News.

    FOLKENFLIK: I promise you've never heard The Washington Post or ABC News describe itself that way. Many people talk a lot about Fox's conservative ideology, and many think that the harassment scandal is all about sex. But to understand how the place operated under Ailes, you cannot overlook the projection of power.

    GABRIEL SHERMAN: He saw himself as literally saving the country, that he was the only force standing up to the liberals and President Obama.

    FOLKENFLIK: This is Ailes' biographer, Gabriel Sherman.

    SHERMAN: And this is the way he spoke about himself. And so when you talk about that, you see your news network as the tool or the mechanism to exert that power.

    FOLKENFLIK: Power works in many ways. Take how women are presented on Fox.

    JANE HALL: On Fox, I felt, when I looked at it, I was uncomfortable at the way that I saw a number of these women dressed.

    FOLKENFLIK: Jane Hall was a media critic and commentator on Fox News for a decade.

    HALL: They were professional women, but they were dressed in clothing that really sexualized them.

    FOLKENFLIK: In lawsuits filed against Ailes, the Fox News hosts Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros said Ailes would ask them to twirl around, to dress suggestively, essentially to perform for him. Fox News' female bookers, producers and on-air personalities have told NPR that many women were urged to select their outfits from those provided by Fox - always short dresses or skirts, never pants, necklines that plunge, hair extensions and false eyelashes. Television is a visual medium that prizes looks. Jane Hall says this is different. She has studied depictions of women in media.

    HALL: I know that if you have a fully clothed man and a woman less clothed, that's a power situation, and you're communicating that the man has the power, the man has the authority.

    FOLKENFLIK: Fox introduced glass top tables for its female hosts and a specialized leg cam - a camera that lingered on the physique of certain women there.

    HALL: I didn't know at the time I was there that there was such a thing as a camera that focused on women's legs, so that's really reprehensible.

    FOLKENFLIK: Some women at Fox were expected to identify attractive younger colleagues to be introduced to Ailes. This should not have come as a surprise. In his 2014 book, Gabriel Sherman reported two previous instances of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes. One occurred 35 years ago. Shelley Ross was invited to lunch by Ailes to talk about working for a late-night program on NBC.

    SHELLEY ROSS: It was a very big deal.

    FOLKENFLIK: The offer, Ross says, was contingent on something that stopped her cold - the demand she enter into what Ailes called a sexual alliance.

    ROSS: He clearly was looking for something, some work relationship that was meaningful to him.

    FOLKENFLIK: Ross refused, but ultimately took the job after Ailes apologized profusely. Ross later became a senior news executive at ABC and CBS. She says Fox News should give a full, public account of what happened. This summer, two dozen women have talked to a law firm investigating sexual harassment claims against Ailes at Fox. Former Fox News booker Laurie Luhn alleges that Ailes filmed a private sexual dance she performed at his request. She says Ailes let her know he'd keep the recording to ensure her loyalty. In 2011, Fox paid Luhn more than $3 million after she alleged years of sexual extortion. Again, Shelley Ross.

    ROSS: For every person like Roger Ailes, there are enablers around him.

    FOLKENFLIK: Fox staffers sifted through employees' phone records, text and emails on company equipment to see what was being said about Ailes and to whom. Several Fox News staffers told me they feared their phones were being tapped, too. Ailes had cameras installed to monitor news rooms and corridors, and he set up a war room to discredit Gabriel Sherman, too.

    SHERMAN: He had reason to be paranoid. We now know that he was a man who was bent on keeping his history of sexual harassment secret from the world.

    FOLKENFLIK: Fox News' top lawyer, Dianne Brandi, is denying the latest allegation that she had a private investigator acquire the phone records for a reporter for a liberal press watchdog called Media Matters. That, too, would have legal implications. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 09-05-2016 at 09:50 AM.

  10. #9
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    Race confuses me. Not because I am color blind, or culturally tone deaf. I think it has more to do with how I came up.

    At the age of 6 I was dropped into a the mix in a foreign country. Didn't know anyone. Didn't speak the language. Didn't know the customs. Zero. They wouldn't take me in school because I didn't speak the language.

    My parents looked around for a teacher (they took classes themselves), and their teacher gave them the best advice; "Toss him out in the yard with the rest of the locals. He's the perfect age to pick it up on his own." Bingo! In 4 months I had learned enough Spanish to get into school. A year later, my speech, including accent, was indistinguishable from the any local's.

    By then I was in 1st grade. At my school nobody got out of 1st grade until they could speak, read, and write in both Spanish & English. The notion that anyone was incapable of this, never crossed anyone's mind. By the way... no one was held back (God bless you Mrs. Wilson).

    I was in a class of 24 kids. 21 Chilenos, a German girl, a dutch girl, and me, "El Gringo" (I am dead center in the picture).


    And that was how it was. I was "el gringo". I was always last to pick picked for teams. I got hit with more spit wads than anyone else... sucker punched just for fun. In any disagreement in school, if the teacher was Chilean, it was my fault. If the teacher was an anglo, in order to make sure no one cried something about race, it was still my fault.

    I could count on about 2 fights a week, before school, because I was the white kid. Continued until I figured out how to beat the snot out of the toughest one.

    My parents were often stolen from, because everyone knows Gringos are rich. Most of the stores they shopped at had two prices; one for Chilenos, one for Gringos.

    We found that we had about a 2-block radius around our home. Inside it, we were mostly safe. You never went outside it alone. Traveling in pairs didn't always work, either. Sometimes we'd still get chased home by gangs of up to 15 local kids, throwing rocks bottles, whatever.

    I remember occasionally being spit on by complete strangers (usually adults), for no other reason than the color of my skin.

    My parents were taught that, whether walking, or driving, if you saw someone injured, or in need of help, what ever you do, you never stop to help. Reason? Because, as soon as the police arrive, you would find yourself immediately accused of being the cause of it all. After all, rich gringos paid higher bribes to be let off than locals.

    It goes on, but you get the idea. This was a constant part of my life until I was 11.

    So, the idea that "You don't know what it's like", is lost on me.

    Through it all, I always struck by one thing: How incredibly ignorant the people doing all this appeared to me, be they child, or grown up. I vowed to myself that I would never allow anyone to be able to look upon me, the way I saw those people.

    I've kept that vow. One of the first things I noticed, when we came back to the states (Nov. 1960), was the fact that there was the same thing going on here between the whites, and blacks. I was too young, when we left, to even know the US had a race problem. Besides, my parents always treated everyone the same. To me, they were the "Standard" for how you treat people.

    The next thing I noticed awakened me a bit more. The people here, carrying on towards blacks, they displayed the exact same kind of ignorance as the folk I'd seen in Chile. What it pointed out to me, if in a rather negative way, was how much people are the same, all over. I re-took my vow.

    I built from this point, up. What it turned into was a rabid belief in the notion that "people is people". How you treat them reflects on you. You cannot control how they treat you, but you can have an influence. You do that by treating them as genuine equals. They'll catch on, or they won't. That reflects upon them.

    In the US, we appear to be obsessed with whites. This is an incredible, complete miss on the problem. You might as well try to treat blood poisoning, in someone's arm, by trimming their fingernails.

    In this life, I have lived in two countries. I have worked, and taught in at least five. I have worked for Anglos, Germans, Chinese, Jews. I have worked, on a daily basis with Techs from Japan, India, Taiwan, Germany, the UK, + others. i can tell you that the notion whites are the only racists, or that it'll stop when we are "cured" is the biggest pile of crap I have ever heard of. Some observations:

    * To the Japanese, I was "Gai Jin" (barbarian). Some of the techs I had to work with wouldn't even speak to me.
    * To the Chinese/Taiwanese, I was "Guay Lo" (round eye). Again, sometimes beneath talking to. Mostly I was a "necessary evil" for doing business in the US, as I spoke the language.
    * Germans usually treated me as if I was a complete moron. They considered their level of technology incomprehensible to a yank's brain (even more so when they happened to be wrong).
    * And the blacks... Jeezus! #1, A good portion of them begin with the assumption that all whites are racist. I often wonder when, if ever, it'll dawn on them that this in itself is an incredibly racist point of view. Lost in the shuffle is dealing with the fact that the Moors raided Europe for slaves, long before whites repaid the visit. Or that it was blacks who later captured blacks to sell to the white slavers.

    The sad truth, that no one seems to consider in all this, is that things like "affirmative action", a hand up, reparations, and any notions along those lines, does absolutely nothing but perpetuate differentiating the races. In short, it accomplishes nothing. Or worse

    You don't achieve racial equality, by picking out "favorites", making them flavor of the month. You stop racism two ways:
    1. By refusing to allow it, in any form.
    2. You STOP doing it!

    Nothing else will do.

    Here is one of the most intelligent observations I've ever heard, on the matter:
    "The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    Or as my Mom would often say, when I was trying to get a scab off my skin... "Dont pick at it! It'll never heal!"
    Last edited by Fredkc; 09-03-2016 at 01:17 PM.
    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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  12. #10
    Senior Member Adam Bomm's Avatar
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    Re: Reflections from a Death Row Inmate Incarcerated on a Prison Planet

    Amen, my brother, that is what I'm talking' bout'


    Quote Originally Posted by Fredkc View Post
    Here is one of the most intelligent observations I've ever heard, on the matter:
    "The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    Or as my Mom would often say, when I was trying to get a scab off my skin... "Dont pick it! It'll never heal!"
    We always fall apart at your last statement.

    You sound like my brother. Do you have any idea how painful benign neglect can be?
    Last edited by Adam Bomm; 09-03-2016 at 01:16 PM.

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