Friday Night Fun and Culture: Happy 87th Birthday Chuck Berry

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GOP politician calls trans people ‘disgusting freaks’, should be put in ‘camps’

From Gay Star News UK:

Former North Carolina Republican head says all trans people should be put in mental health institutions

By Joe Morgan
Oct. 17, 2013

Todd Kincannon has called trans people ‘disgusting freaks’ and should be locked up in mental health instituions. Todd Kincannon has called trans people ‘disgusting freaks’ and should be locked up in mental health instituions.”

A GOP politician has called trans people ‘disgusting freaks’ that should be put in ‘camps’.

Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, has been heavily criticized for his rant on transgender people.

After a trans activist, Kat Haché, replied to one of Kincannon’s tweets, he launched into a tirade of slurs and hate speech.

‘There are people who respect transgender rights. And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me,’ he said.

When he started to get a negative response, Kincannon added: ‘I have plenty of compassion for trannies.

‘They should all be locked up in mental institutions and their care paid for by the state.

‘I have no problem with gays but I hate trannies. I think they are disgusting freaks, and they are. Am I evil?’

Describing gays as being ‘ok’ and female bisexuality as the ‘Mona Lisa of genital sports’, Kincannon was lambasted for being sexist and transphobic.

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America Is Not a Christian Nation and Never Has Been: Why Is the Right Obsessed With Pushing a Revisionist History?

From Alternet:

The Right has convinced itself that America is a theocratic nation and that our rights come “from God.”

By Amanda Marcotte
October 16, 2013

It’s common to hear conservatives say things like  Paul Ryan did during the campaign: “Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.” Liberals shrug most of the time when they hear such rhetoric. It sounds like an empty platitude, much like praising the troops or waving the flag, that makes audiences feel good but doesn’t actually have any real-world importance. What liberals don’t understand, however, is that what sounds like an empty platitude actually signifies an elaborate, paranoid theory on the right about sneaky liberals trying to destroy America, a theory that is being used to justify all manner of incursions against religious freedom and separation of church and state.

The Christian right theory goes something like this: Once upon a time, a bunch of deeply religious Christian men revolted against the king of England and started a new nation with  a Constitution based on the Bible. Being deeply religious fundamentalist Christians, they intended for their new society to reflect Christian values and the idea that rights come from God. But then a bunch of evil liberals with a secularist agenda decided to deny that our country is a Christian nation. Insisting that rights come from the government/the social contract/rational thinking, these secularists set out to dismantle our Christian nation and replace it with an unholy secularist democracy with atheists running amok and women getting abortions and gays getting married and civilization collapse. For some reason, the theory always ends with civilization collapse. The moral of the story is that we better get right with God and agree that he totally gave us our rights before the world ends. Insert dramatic music here.

None of this actually went down that way, but there are Christian right revisionist historians who are pushing this claim hard.  David Barton is a major advisor to all sorts of Christian right figures and he has long promoted the completely false theory that the Founders wanted something very close to a Christian theocracy. Indeed, in their desperation to make people believe what simply isn’t true, activists on the right have even gone so far as to try to push Barton’s lies about the  Founders into public school textbooks. The notion that America’s founders believed rights come “from God” goes straight back to Barton’s making-stuff-up style of “history.”

Despite the fact that liberals rarely engage them on this point, Christian right thinkers are forever ranting on about it. Rick Santorum’s speech at the Values Voter Summit this past weekend is an excellent example of the form.  He delivered an inane, inaccurate lecture about the French revolution, describing it as doomed from the get-go because the revolutionaries believed in “equality, liberty, and fraternity,” which he contrasted with the Americans who supposedly believed in “paternity,” i.e. the theory that rights come from God. Rick Santorum debated the long-dead French revolutionaries, assuming that the word “fraternity” was an attempt to avoid admitting there was a God and then blaming everything bad that happened to France since then on its secularist government.

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Revealed: NSA ‘gathering millions of email address books’

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The National Security Agency is gathering email and instant messenger contact lists from hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens worldwide, many of them Americans, The Washington Post reported late Monday.

The US agency’s data collection program harvests the data from address books and “buddy lists”, the newspaper said, citing senior intelligence officials and top secret documents provided by the fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, the Post said, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation.

The figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year, according to the report, which was published on the newspaper’s website.

The NSA declined to confirm the specific allegations in the Post report but defended its surveillance activities as legal and respectful of privacy rights.

The agency has come under fire following revelations about vast efforts to collect data on Americans, but it has mostly acknowledged the accuracy of leaks from Snowden while seeking to play down their significance.

The Snowden affair has not only complicated diplomacy but embarrassed the Internet and telecom sector, with some companies accused of betraying their customers by cooperating with government spying.

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The perfect epitaph for establishment journalism

From The Guardian UK:

‘If MI5 warns that this is not in the public interest who am I to disbelieve them?’, says the former editor of The Independent, Monday 14 October 2013

Like many people, I’ve spent years writing and speaking about the lethal power-subservient pathologies plaguing establishment journalism in the west. But this morning, I feel a bit like all of that was wasted time and energy, because this new column by career British journalist Chris Blackhurst – an executive with and, until a few months ago, the editor of the UK daily calling itself “The Independent” – contains a headline that says everything that needs to be said about the sickly state of establishment journalism:


In other words, if the government tells me I shouldn’t publish something, who am I as a journalist to disobey? Put that on the tombstone of western establishment journalism. It perfectly encapsulates the death spiral of large journalistic outlets.

Lest you think that the headline does not fairly represent the content of the column, Blackhurst, in explaining why he would never have allowed his newspaper to publish any of the documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, actually wrote:

If the security services insist something is contrary to the public interest, and might harm their operations, who am I (despite my grounding from Watergate onwards) to disbelieve them?”

Most people, let alone journalists, would be far too embarrassed to admit they harbor such subservient, obsequious sentiments. It’s one thing to accord some deference or presumption of good will to political officials, but the desire to demonstrate some minimal human dignity, by itself, would preclude most people from publicly confessing that they have willingly sacrificed all of their independent judgment and autonomy to the superior, secret decrees of those who wield the greatest power. Chris Blackhurst has obviously liberated himself from these inhibitions, though not entirely, as he infuses insincere caveats like this into his paean to the virtues of obedience: “I’m cynical about officialdom, having seen too many cover-ups and appalling injustices carried out in our name.” One would think that most journalists (particularly those who edit a newspaper called “The Independent”) would want to maintain at least a pretense of independent thought and thus refrain from acknowledging such cringe-inducing things about themselves.

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Fukushima is collapsing – the worst is coming

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Air Pollution a Leading Cause of Cancer: World Health Organization

From Common Dreams:

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances.”

Andrea Germanos

Air pollution causes cancer, the world health body declared on Thursday.

While the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had previously classified elements of air pollution like diesel engine exhaust and some metals as carcinogens, the new designation marks the first time IARC is designating air pollution as a whole a carcinogen.

“Our task was to evaluate the air everyone breathes rather than focus on specific air pollutants,” Dr. Dana Loomis, Deputy Head of the Monographs Section of IARC, which identifies environmental factors that can increase the risk of human cancer, explained in a statement.

Based on over 1000 scientific papers from studies across the world, the group now places air pollution among tobacco smoking, benzene and Gamma radiation as a known carcinogen in what is referred to as the “Encyclopaedia of Carcinogens.”

—Dr. Robert Bullard“The results from the reviewed studies point in the same direction: the risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in people exposed to air pollution,” added Loomis.

In addition to finding sufficient evidence to say that outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer, the group found a positive association to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Section. “We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”

The causes of the air pollution the IARC points to are transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking, and though there are extreme global differences in air quality, the IARC stated that the conclusions of their findings “apply to all regions of the world.”

“The WHO study confirms what many environmental justice community activists, leaders and scholars have been saying for decades,” said Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and a man considered “the father of environmental justice,” in a statement given to Common Dreams.

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