This was originally published on Liberal America on August 20, 2017.
Yes, there are people out there who believe that the earth is flat. To the rest of us, the solar eclipse happening on August 21 is a phenomenon that occurs because of the Earth’s rotation.
For the flat-Earthers, the eclipse is proof that our planet is flat. Mic went down the rabbit hole and interviewed some flat-Earthers to see what their theories are on what causes the eclipse.
One truther named Charlie Flowers says:
“The sun is a light. They’re all lights. The sun and the moon are the same size and they spin above us and it’s a battery. It’s a battery system. The moon is the negative and the sun is the positive.”
They believe that the Earth is spinning west to east. Another flat Earth-truther Walt Johnson, says:
“If you take an object — a ball or quarter — and a flashlight, and you go to the wall and you start shining, trying to make the shadow smaller than the quarter, it never happens. The moon is 2,000 miles wide. The path of totality is 70 miles wide. … You cannot make an object cast a shadow smaller than itself. There is no way to do it.”
Also, they believe that telling eclipse-viewers to use caution when looking at the Sun is a NASA ploy to keep people from knowing what is truly going on with this phenomenon. These theories proudly ignore established science in favor of personal beliefs. They believe that because the Earth looks flat to us, that it must be flat.
Here is a strange video from the conspiracy theory corner of YouTube. It looks at various scientific animations of the eclipse and claims that they are all wrong. Then, it cites a Bible verse explaining why the Earth is flat:
This was originally published on Liberal America on August 21, 2017.
In January, James Owens, who struggled with mental illness and addiction, lost his life to a police bullet. His grieving nephew said:
“(He) was gunned down like a wild animal in his own home. He was supposed to be protected. He wasn’t provided without that assistance.”
There was a rally of about 200 people in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday about police violence against the mentally ill.
Many of the people in attendance had friends or loved ones who suffered the same fate as Owens.
Police were called when Owens was suffering from a bad reaction to new medication. Owens became agitated and began acting erratically. Police tasered him first, then when that didn’t work, they shot him.
The march was organized by Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing four families who had members shot and killed by police.
“Only 13% of NYPD officers have been trained how to deal with emotionally disturbed people. That is unacceptable for the people of New York. One hundred percent of police officers must be trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people.”
“When a family calls 911 for help they don’t want to see their loved one killed by police.”
At the beginning of August, 5,653 out of the 23,000 cops on patrol have received special training on how to deal with the mentally ill.
A cousin of one person killed by police said:
“They’re here to protect us and to have someone reach out to you because their son is having an issue or their mentally ill child isn’t taking their medication. You’re not expecting them to come in and gun your child down.”
Police everywhere should be receiving training on how to deal with the mentally ill because they are they are the ones who are called in when these situations arise. There has got to be a better way to handle these situations.
This was originally published on Liberal America on August 21, 2017.
A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would require President Donald Trump to undergo a mental health evaluation to make sure he is stable enough to stay in office.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on Friday. The bill calls for Vice President Pence and members of the President’s Cabinet to remove him if the results are unfavorable.
The move would invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the Vice President and a majority of the President’s Cabinet to remove the President if he is deemed unfit to carry out his duties.
She said in a statment:
“Does the President suffer from early stage dementia?”
“Has emotional disorder so impaired the President that he is unable to discharge his duties? Is the President mentally and emotionally stable?”
Lofgren pointed out that Trump has not released a “serious” medical evaluation to the public. She doesn’t think that the bill will pass, but she expects it to spark conversation. She also added that Trump should get the evaluation if he cares about the country.
Lofgren isn’t the first person to suggest using the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump.
In June, Rep. Jamie Raskin led a group of 25 House Democrats to co-sign a bill to oust Trump using the 25th Amendment. Raskin said:
“I assume every human being is allowed one or two errant and seemingly deranged tweets. The question is whether you have a sustained pattern of behavior that indicates something is seriously wrong.”
Articles and op-eds on the 25th Amendment have sprung up all over the Internet since President Trump took office. Also, the hashtag #25th Amendment began trending on Twitter this summer.
“If it was a physical ailment, you would be getting the advice of doctors. The same thing should be true to take a look at his stability here.”
This was written by Zoe Grey and originally published on Mean Left Hook Politics on August 19, 2017.
A monument to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was vandalized with tar and feathers this week.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway monument sits along U.S. 60. Local authorities are investigating the incident. This was the second Confederate Monument defaced in Arizona this week. It is also the most recent in a string of vandalism of Confederate monuments across the country.
The debate over what to do with Confederate monuments has ramped up after the violence in Charlottesville over the past weekend.
This contrasts what he said during the campaign. He said that they should be in museums instead.
Mesa resident John Rogers told the local news:
“Somebody had to put a little thought into it, but this is going to cost a lot of money to clean up.”
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey doesn’t want the monuments removed, but he condemned the vandalism:
“Vandalizing these monuments is not productive. This will not lead to the civil discourse and debate that we have been calling for.”
“It is a short-term action that does not help the long-term goal of having these offensive monuments removed from state property.”
Arizona was not a state during the Civil War, but the Confederacy claimed southern portions of it during the war.
Police found a glove at the scene that was collected for evidence. Police also took samples of the feathers and tar for testing as well.
This was originally published on Liberal America on August 15, 2017.
Is your partner a Trump supporter? Do you cringe every time you see them in that “Make America Great Again” hat?
It’s not necessarily about President Trump himself. However, it is about values. If you have different political views, then your values are likely different. This is never good for a relationship.
Your values are your ideals. They determine how you live and how you view the world. According to political science researchers, people who voted for Trump have authoritarian personalities. They are likely to condemn, reject, and punish people whom they see as violating “traditional values.” When they feel threatened, they respond aggressively to outsiders.
In contrast, those who oppose Trump value liberty, tolerance, and diversity. Those values systems are ultimately at odds with each other, which is not good for a relationship.
The election of President Trump has strained many relationships over the last year. One woman wrote to Slate’s Dear Prudence saying her husband’s Trump support “reveals something about my husband’s character that I didn’t know.”
Men who vote for Trump are what we call “soft misogynists.” They may like and even claim to love women on the outside, but if you scratch the surface, they don’t see women as quite equal. Any man that is okay with “grab them by the pussy” is at least a tiny bit misogynistic, whether he means to be or not.
This may seem a bit extreme to some. Some say this breaking up with someone or treating them differently over their political views is a form of intolerance itself. This may make everyone seem like a bigot, though. Where does it end? Does condemning the KKK or white nationalists make you a bigot?
If it does, then count me in. I’d rather be a bigot than support these awful people.
This was originally published on Liberal America on July 11, 2016.
We have a problem with guns in this country. We have more guns and more gun deaths than other country. Last month, we had the horrific massacre at the Orlando nightclub. That was just one of 1,000 shootings that have occurred since the Sandy Hook shootings. You would think that this would give lawmakers motivation to regulate guns more, but it hasn’t. Just to show you how ridiculous this is, here are some things that we actually regulate more than guns in this country from Liberals Unite.
1. Kinder Eggs
These little beauties are Kinder Eggs; they are hollow, chocolate eggs with a small toy inside. They are banned in this country because they could be a choking hazard. You can face a $2,500 fine per egg for bringing them into the United States.
Walter White wannabes have been using Sudafed and other cold medicines to make crystal meth for decades, so now you have to show an I.D. to buy cold medicine, and they keep your information on file in case you buy too many boxes.
The United States has placed tons of restrictions on women who want to obtain abortions. We have laws specifically targeted to abortion providers. One extremist state is trying to outlaw all abortions; Oklahoma is trying to pass a bill to make abortions illegal in all circumstances. Corpses have better bodily autonomy than live women. Missouri, among other states, has a waiting period for abortions; there are not any waiting periods for guns there. The chart above shows the proximity to an abortion clinic in every state.
You have to be 21-years-old to buy alcohol. You must present an I.D. to do so at a restaurant or bar. Some states have restricted hours when you can’t buy it. To be fair, Walmart and other 24-hour stores do only sell guns during certain hours, but there are many counties here in the south that don’t sell alcohol at all.
Terrorists on the no-fly list can get guns, but you’d better not pack a water bottle on your carry-on.
You have to buy a license for a pet, but you don’t have to buy one for a gun. If you want to conceal carry, then that requires a license. Some cities have laws banning “aggressive” breeds. You can get a gun, but you’d better not carry that unregistered Rotweiller around. To adopt a bunny, you have to prove that you have a home for it. You are told to buy another bunny to keep the one company. With all pets, you should commit to taking care of the pet for its entire life.
Strip clubs have strict regulations. Some states are trying to raise the minimum age for a stripper from 18 to 21. You are not supposed to record them. Men are not allowed to take out their genitals during the lap dance, or touch them.
Many states require you to register to vote. Some states make you do it 30 days beforehand, and you have to show an I.D. to vote. However, you can buy a gun the same day you want one in most scenarios.
9. Other Medicines
In addition to the Sudafed, there are other very regulated medicines. Opioid painkillers are highly regulated. The doctor can’t call in the prescriptions, you have to go to the office and get the paper prescription. There are many psychiatric medicines that are regulated as well. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, others) are also regulated; you must show an ID when picking those prescriptions up. Twenty-six states require an identification when picking up prescriptions.
Many adults needing Adderall have a hard time getting it:
“In Texas, Adderall is a controlled substance so no refills are allowed with a pharmacy and a new RX form has to be written and signed by my PCP on a State of Texas issued RX form.”
Also, on prescriptions for controlled substances, doctors need to very carefully print your name and address. In some cases, the pharmacy won’t fill it if anything is even slightly off.
10. Letting Your Children Play Outside
Obviously, children are more regulated than guns. You might be surprised to learn that a woman in Florida actually got in trouble for letting her son play outside. He was taken away for it.
11. Hunting And Fishing Licenses
You have to supply your Social Security Number (SSN) to apply for hunting or fishing licenses, but not for buying a gun. States are allowed to deny licenses to those who haven’t been paying child support. Most states do not require a SSN or a driver’s license to purchase a firearm.
12. Selling Lemonade
In Iowa, there are more restrictions on food and drink vendors than guns:
“Technically, food vendors in some parts of the state need a business permit and food license to sell food, even from a residential location. Gun vendors don’t need state licenses to sell guns, and inspections by police are not allowed.”
13. Food Stamps
In Arkansas, it takes longer to qualify for food stamps than to get a gun:
“The approval process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) in Arkansas normally runs 30 days, though it can be expedited in seven. The background check to buy a gun from a licensed dealer can be completed in minutes, or at most three days.”
14. Cutting Hair
In Arizona, you have to have a license and a full 1,500 hours of instruction before you can cut someone’s hair:
“Arizona is one of three states (Vermont and Alaska are the others) that do not require residents to have a permit for a concealed weapon. To cut hair, however, one needs to get a barber’s license and fulfill 1,500 hours of instruction.”
15. Marriage Licenses
It costs more to get a marriage license than a gun permit in Indiana:
The application for a four-year handgun license is $10. The application for marriage when at least one person is a state resident is $18. Out-of-state residents must pay $60 for a marriage license application.
16. Becoming A Substitute Teacher
In Florida, you must submit fingerprints to be a substitute teacher, but not to buy or carry a gun.
States have more stringent laws on fireworks than guns. Every county has different ordinances, but it is still easier to get a gun. There was an incident involving fireworks in 2010:
“A recent attempt to harm innocent lives provides a frightening example of how legally purchased… fireworks can cause dramatic harm and even kill. [Faisal] Shahzad purchased fireworks at a Pennsylvania chain store, transported the fireworks to Connecticut and created a bomb-like device that he transported into New York City with the intent of killing and causing havoc in a busy tourist area.”
If Shahzad had purchased a gun and ammo, he would’ve been able to do that legally.
This was originally published on Liberal America on June 8, 2017.
Trigger Warning: Disturbing content.
Michelle Carter, the woman who texted her boyfriend urging him to kill himself, goes to trial this week. She has waived the right to a jury trial, so her sentence will be decided by a judge directly.
Conrad Roy III killed himself in July of 2014. She sent him text messages such as:
“If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it.”
He died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside of his pickup truck nearby. Carter is being charged with involuntary manslaughter.
This case raises many questions. Can she be charged with murder if she wasn’t even with the victim? Can a person be found guilty of murder just based on what she said in text messages?
The prosecutors have dozens of text messages urging Roy to kill himself. The prosecutor’s opening statement said Carter played a “sick game” with Roy’s life. Carter was seeking the attention of being the “grieving girlfriend.”
Carter first urged him to get help. Then, she brainstormed ways for him to commit suicide. Carter even got impatient urging him to get the generator for the carbon monoxide. She kept telling him to quit pushing it off and just do it already. Here are some of the messages from the day that he did it and the days before his body was found:
On July 11, 2014, the day before Roy died:
CARTER: “ … Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don’t know much about the pump and with a generator u can’t fail”
On July 12, 2014, a day before Roy’s body was found:
CARTER: “So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing”
CARTER: “I’m just confused like you were so ready and determined”
ROY: “I am gonna eventually”
ROY: “I really don’t know what I’m waiting for. . but I have everything lined up”
CARTER: “No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. It’s always gonna be that way if u don’t take action”
CARTER: “You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it”
CARTER: “Do u wanna do it now?”
ROY: “Is it too late?”
ROY: “Idkk it’s already light outside”
ROY: “I’m gonna go back to sleep, love you I’ll text you tomorrow”
CARTER: “No? Its probably the best time now because everyone’s sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one’s really out right now because it’s an awkward time”
CARTER: “If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it”
CARTER: “And u can say you’ll do it tomorrow but you probably won’t”
With the stream of undeniable texts, it is no surprise that she waived a jury trial. I don’t think I could sit at a table with 12 astonished faces staring at me wondering what kind of a monster I was for encouraging another human being to end his life.
Do you think she feels remorse? Or are the tears just for the cameras?
When he was campaigning, President Donald Trump campaigned hard among white Christian voters. An overwhelming number of the people who voted for him identify as Evangelical Christians.
As the Washington Post reported:
“White evangelicals are the religious group that most identifies with the Republican Party, and 76 percent of them say they are or lean Republican, according to a 2014 survey. As a group, white evangelicals make up one-fifth of all registered voters and about one-third of all voters who identify with or lean toward the GOP.”
So, I guess it’s no surprise that Trump quickly moved to relax restrictions on churches’ political activities.
This push toward religion is likely to piss off a growing portion of the American population: atheists. One study found that up to 20 percent of the American population is not religious.
Another survey found that roughly a third of Americans feel warmly towards atheists, while another third of Americans believe that an atheist should be banned from becoming president.
The stigma surrounding people who don’t believe in God is crushing the freedom of belief in this country. We are supposed to have freedom of religion, but it doesn’t always apply to atheists.
As an atheist, I think we should fight back against Trump’s Evangelicals and the religious policies he is trying to enact. The repeal of the Johnson Amendment goes directly against the Constitution under the guise of “religious freedom.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is suing the Trump administration over this new executive order. This allows churches and other religious organizations to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-exempt status.
This is the kind of fighting back I like to see. Churches shouldn’t be allowed to get involved in politics, especially since they don’t pay taxes.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, an executive director with the FFRF, said:
“Trump is communicating to churches that his administration will not enforce the Johnson Amendment. The IRS needs clear direction that it must enforce the law equally.”
This is the kind of fighting that I like to see.
Here is Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, on why he couldn’t vote for Trump in the election:
This was originally published on Liberal America on May 16, 2017.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has closed down comments on their website after a flood of comments regarding the issue of net neutrality. They explained it by saying someone created multiple distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks in order to “slow down” actual site users. Except, actual information security and cybersecurity experts cast numerous doubts on the FCCs claims.
Since then, the FCC claims it needs a period to “reflect” on the comments they’ve gotten, and that’s why public commenting is now closed.
That just sounds nuts! Can’t they just not read the comments for a while? Can’t they build a system to save the comments for later? They’re the FCC!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a website where it will help you write a letter to the FCC and they will make sure the organization actually gets it regardless of the closed comments
From the FCC’s statement on the matter:
“Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC. While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these DDoS events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments. We have worked with our commercial partners to address this situation and will continue to monitor developments going forward.”
John Oliver reported on the issue last week on Last Week Tonight where he urged people to go to the FCC website and comment in favor of net neutrality.
The FCC Director Ajit Pai gave a speech about net neutrality during which he denied that net neutrality is even in danger. He said:
“Nothing about the Internet was broken in 2015. Nothing about the law had changed. And there wasn’t a rash of Internet service providers blocking customers from accessing the content, applications, or services of their choice.”
He conveniently forgot the time that AT&T forced iPhone users to sign up for more expensive mobile data plans in order to use FaceTime. He also forgot the time that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile blocked Google Wallet so that users would go to their mobile payment programs. These kinds of things could keep happening if net neutrality rules are taken away from us.
This was originally published on Liberal America on May 5, 2017.
Trigger Warning: There are mentions of graphic scenes and content.
A girl in Central Georgia attempted suicide via Facebook live. Luckily, Facebook users who recognized her called the police, and they were able to save her life. When the deputies found her, she had consumed pills and placed a plastic bag over her head.
She streamed her plans over Facebook before consuming the pills. The police received a call from a “concerned adult” about 20 minutes after the video began. The deputies came in through the bathroom window and found the girl unconscious on the floor. Luckily, she is doing okay now and will go home soon.
Bibb County Sargent Linda Howard told NBC News:
“This is our first case like this. It was likely a cry for help. When you’re doing something like that live, you’re hoping someone will stop you … Deputies on the scene were happy they were able to save her and bring her back to her family.”
Howard also urged teens to speak up if they are concerned for a friend. Don’t just ask your friend if they are okay or tell them not to do it. Call 9-1-1. Your local police and sheriff’s deputies are there to help.
Sheriff David Davis told the newspaper:
“It’s a good thing that the people watching this called it in. Those people did the right thing.”
Davis also said:
“… We are a voyeuristic society. It’s really troubling that you have things like this, to have access to people being able to put something up live, as it happens. … We see more often that it ends in regret.”
This comes after we have experienced a string of violent videos posted via Facebook Live. Facebook announced this week that they are hiring an additional 3,000 people on top of the 4,500 people they already have to review videos posted on Facebook Live. They hope to get these videos taken down sooner in the event of something bad being posted.