The March for Science

The March for Science (you should go if you believe that science is important) is today and so we get stories like this:

That is why, Michel said, he plans to take to the streets (and play his accordion) Saturday at the March for Science in Boston, an offshoot of the main event in Washington and one of hundreds of such marches across the country that aim to celebrate science and champion its role in advancing the health, safety and well-being of society.

The marches are nonpartisan, but have generated criticism that they threaten to turn scientists into another political interest group protesting the new administration, thereby undermining the credibility of scientific research and one of the organizers’ key messages: that science is apolitical.

Science is apolitical, but when one party consistently denies the science when it goes against their beliefs it becomes political. Many, and sometimes most, Republicans don’t believe in global warming or evolution or the problem with certain pesticides (going all the way back to Rachel Carson) or how abortions are performed (and how they affect the woman–it does not cause them to be depressed). And when a man gets elected President who specifically denies global warming, wants to cut money going to all kinds of scientific research, wants to make it harder for scientists to come to the US (either to work or just to come to a conference) and cuts scientists out of the decision making process in multiple departments, then you’re going to get push-back from the scientific community.

President Trump and Republicans have made parts of science political and this should hurt them politically. It hasn’t, partially because of articles like this.

Remember the Bowling Green Massacre

The Trump administration is really pushing fear of terrorism although in his typical fashion, it’s a mess:

Dozens of typos, odd inclusions and odd exclusions are the norm in this apparently hastily assembled list. Also:

It also doesn’t include any attacks by non-Muslims (such as the recent attack on Muslims in Quebec) and includes cases where it wasn’t terrorism:

Rosie Ayliffe wrote in an open letter to President Trump that the “possibility of Mia and Tom’s deaths being consequent to an Islamic terror attack was discounted in the early stages of the police investigation,” The Washington Post reported.

“My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people,”Ayliffe wrote in the letter.

He’s pushing it so hard, that Kellyanne Conway felt the need to make up an attack:

I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.

She later admitted that she was wrong but the NY Times has decided to troll her anyway:

THE year was 2012. The place was Bowling Green, Ohio. A federal raid had uncovered what the authorities feared were the makings of a massacre. There were 18 firearms, among them two AR-15 assault rifles, an AR-10 assault rifle and a Remington Model 700 sniper rifle. There was body armor, too, and the authorities counted some 40,000 rounds of ammunition. An extremist had been arrested, and prosecutors suspected that he had been aiming to carry out a wide assortment of killings.

“This defendant, quite simply, was a well-funded, well-armed and focused one-man army of racial and religious hate,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

The man arrested and charged was Richard Schmidt, a middle-aged owner of a sports-memorabilia business at a mall in town. Prosecutors would later call him a white supremacist. His planned targets, federal authorities said, had been African-Americans and Jews. They’d found a list with the names and addresses of those to be assassinated, including the leaders of N.A.A.C.P. chapters in Michigan and Ohio.

So the closest thing to a terror attack in Bowling Green was an attack by a right wing radical, which the Trump administration no longer feels the need to counter. Good one NY Times.

Thank you Donald Henderson

The Boston Globe has a partial list of people who died in 20016. It’s a long list, they start with Muhammad Ali and Elie Wiesel, then run through a long list of high-profile names all the way through Jim Delligatti (the man who invented the Bic Mac). They even include a few scientists. They do not include Donald Henderson (although he is in the addendum in the paper):

Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a leader of one of mankind’s greatest public health triumphs, the eradication of smallpox, died on Friday in Towson, Md. He was 87.

Starting in 1966, Dr. Henderson, known as D. A., led the World Health Organization’s war on the smallpox virus. He achieved success astonishingly quickly. The last known case was found in a hospital cook in Somalia in 1977.

Now I can understand not starting with him but in some ways he was one of the most consequential men in history:

It carried off many European monarchs and buried the lines of succession to thrones from England to China. Because it killed 80 percent of the American Indians who caught it, it was a major factor in the European conquest of the New World.

Three American presidents survived it: George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. In the 20th century, before it was extinguished, it was blamed for at least 300 million deaths.

Smallpox had already been eradicated in much of the West but it was still killing 2 million people per year when the campaign started. Dr. Henderson was far from the only person working on the battle, but I would still expect a person who is responsible for saving up to 2 million people per year to get a higher profile than the man who invented the Big Mac.

Only Unions pressure anyone

It’s interesting how things work when people talk about issues where unions weigh in:

Perhaps she was honestly torn. As Michael Jonas pointed out in CommonWealth magazine, the Massachusetts senator is a longtime proponent of school choice. In her 2003 book, “The Two-Income Trap,” she endorsed a system of vouchers to support attendance at any public school.

But in a statement put out on Monday, Warren said that she will be voting no on Question 2. “Many charters schools are producing extraordinary results for our students and we should celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools,’’ she said. But, after hearing from both sides, “I am very concerned about what this specific proposal means for hundreds of thousands of children across our Commonwealth, especially those living in districts with tight budgets where every dime matters. Education is about creating opportunity for all our children, not about leaving many behind.”

Warren can play an important role in this debate. I only hope her decision really is about equal opportunity for all and not about caving in to union pressure.

The writer, Joan Vennochi, says:

When it comes to Question 2, you can put me down as “conflicted.” This campaign pits suburbs against urban communities and unions against business groups that despise organized labor. All supposedly in the name of “the children.”

and yet nowhere does she seem to question anybody who is voting Yes on Question 2 even though its backers will be spending millions to push it. It’s interesting how that works.

Pastor better than MSM at keeping Trump in line

Donald Trump was invited to speak at a church in Flint, Michigan, but started to do a political speech instead. The pastor stopped him:

Donald Trump being Donald Trump lied about it:

Donald Trump is lashing out against an African-American pastor who interrupted him Wednesday to chide him for campaigning in her Flint, Mich., church.

“Something was up,” Trump told Fox and Friends on Thursday morning, calling the Rev. Faith Green Timmons a “nervous mess.”

“I noticed she was so nervous when she introduced me,” he said. “When she got up to introduce me she was so nervous, she was shaking. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. Then she came up. So she had that in mind, there’s no question.”

“The audience was saying, ‘Let him speak, let him speak,’ ” Trump told Fox and Friends.

This despite the fact that you can clearly hear the pastor in the video above supporting Trump when the audience heckles him. What a loser.

Anyway, Trump told the press that he was going to talk about birtherism today, but:

After Donald Trump spent a mere 30 seconds addressing President Obama’s birthplace during a 30-minute event that started an hour late at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., the anchors at CNN tore into Trump and his attitude toward the press.

They really need to talk to that pastor to see how it’s done.

Some good news

Given the dystopia that Donald Trump paints for the current state of the US, it’s good to look at actual statistics to see what’s really happening:

  • Violence is way down from its peak in the 1990’s (although there is some sign that it might have increased a bit in the last year or so):

From 1993 to 2014, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 20.1 per 1,000.

Since 1993, the rate of property crime declined from 351.8 to 118.1 victimizations per 1,000 households.

The number of murders in New York City really drives this home: there were 2262 murders in 1990 and 352 in 2015. That is an astonishing drop.

The national teen pregnancy rate has declined almost continuously over the last two decades. The teen pregnancy rate includes pregnancies that end in a live birth, as well as those that end in abortion or miscarriage (fetal loss).* Between 1990 and 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), the teen pregnancy rate declined by 51 percent—from 116.9 to 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls.

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

  • The private sector has been adding jobs for the longest stretch ever:

The White House is right about the numbers. The “longest streak” claim was true in 2014, as the Washington Post’s Fact Checker found back then, and the streak has only grown. This was the 73rd straight recorded month of private sector job growth (barring revisions).

  • Drug use is down among teens (this is from June 2016):

This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders continues to show encouraging news, with decreasing use of alcohol, cigarettes, and many illicit drugs over the last 5 years—many to their lowest levels since this survey’s inception; no increase in use of marijuana among teens; decreasing use of synthetic drugs; and decreasing misuse of prescription drugs. However, the survey highlighted continuing concerns over the high rate of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use and softening of attitudes around some types of drug use, particularly a continued decrease in perceived harm of marijuana use.

For many substances, past-year use has declined to the lowest levels since the MTF survey began. This includes heroin, synthetic cannabinoids, Vicodin®, methamphetamine, amphetamines, inhalants, Ecstasy, alcohol, and cigarettes, among all ages surveyed; hallucinogens, Ritalin®, OxyContin®, bath salts, and over-the-counter cough medicines among 8th and 10th graders; cocaine among 8th and 12th graders; and prescription pain relievers (narcotics other than heroin), sedatives, and crystal methamphetamine in 12th graders (the only grade sampled for these substances). Past-year use of illicit drugs was reported by 23.6 percent of 12th graders.

There are still large problems in the US, but, in many ways, the US is in better shape than ever.

Not a terrorist

Via here, we get this:

Federal prosecutors say a Tooele County man placed a pipe bomb against the door of a BLM cabin and pushed the button on a remote detonator multiple times, with no result.

His mistake? He’d unwittingly assigned an undercover FBI agent to build the bomb.

William Keebler, 57, of Stockton, was arrested early Wednesday morning in Nephi and appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court, charged by federal prosecutors with attempting to blow up federal property at an Arizona Strip BLM facility that he had allegedly scouted with Robert LaVoy Finicum.

Charging documents say Keebler is the commander of a citizen militia group headquartered in Stockton. He was present at the April 2014 standoff with federal land administrators near the Bunkerville, Nev., ranch of Cliven Bundy, and he was an associate of Finicum, who was killed in late January by Oregon state police after he tried to avoid their roadblock in eastern Oregon amid an occupation of a federal wildlife refuge. The Tribune wrote about Keebler in December 2011, when he worked as an outfitter guiding coyote sport hunters.

Undercover FBI employees became members of Keebler’s “Patriots Defense Force,” charging documents say, and trained for an “anti-government action” where, Keebler told members, they would be “going on the offensive.”

Keebler’s group scouted the BLM office in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City as a potential target, but found it unsuitable due to the commercial and homeless activity, charging documents state.

Prosecutors allege that Keebler told the group it would target BLM facilities in “the middle of nowhere,” damaging vehicles and buildings. He asked a militia member — who happened to be an undercover FBI employee — to build an explosive device.

and this links to the Federal complaint. He didn’t want to hurt anyone … this time, but felt he might have to in the future and had the FBI agent build two pipe bombs with the second one to be used against law enforcement if needed.

So, this guy was at one armed insurrection against the US government, worked with a man who was at another armed insurrection against the US government, and was now preparing to go on the offensive against the US government. But somehow this isn’t front page news at any of the major news outlets. The Washington Post has a small article … with no comments. The Boston Globe has no articles. The NY Times has a slightly longer article, but it was just taken off the wire. the LA Times has nothing. CNN has nothing. Gee, I wonder if he’s white and Christian (Mormon)? That was a rhetorical question.

As an aside, the end of the Salt Lake Tribune article has this:

In 2001, the BLM worked with Bundy descendants to rebuild the town’s iconic white schoolhouse after it had been destroyed by arsonists.

See, we can all get along–at least the Bundy’s can get along with the BLM if the BLM is doing exactly what they want. Here’s a story:

Clay Bundy, Orvel Bundy’s son and a builder in St. George, has been among the dozens of volunteers who have been helping employees from the Bureau of Land Management to restore the school since October. The BLM owns the land the school sits on.

“Someone totally wiped away our history with one match,” said Clay Bundy.

“It’s been phenomenal participation,” he said. “We got most of the outside done on two Saturdays. We had 50, 60 people and their kids, and it was just like an old-fashioned barn raising. When you do something yourself, with your own hands, there’s a pride there.”

The schoolhouse’s walls, roof, windows and insulation have all been finished. An electrician set up a generator, which will provide electricity for the first time, and a new concrete base will anchor the building.

Clay Bundy estimates the volunteers will finish the inside of the schoolhouse by the end of spring.

BLM spokeswoman Bette Arial, who has called the schoolhouse an “oasis” where people visiting the strip can stop, reminisce and learn the region’s history, said the community will continue to keep the schoolhouse doors open to the public.

For his part, Orvel Bundy is glad to see the school being restored.

“It’s a symbol that there were people here once,” he said. “If the schoolhouse was gone, people might think that there never was a community in Mount Trumbull.”

Oh my god, one of the original pieces of Bundyville is owned by the BLM. We need to protest this. What does Clay have to say about his cousins?

Even some in the extended Bundy family have mixed feelings. Clay Bundy, a cousin of Cliven Bundy, still grazes cattle on the harsh northern Arizona land that once held the settlement commonly called Bundyville. (Officially it was Mount Trumbull.) He said he supported his cousin’s yearslong fight over grazing, and wanted to see Western states take control of the federal land in their borders. But he said Ammon Bundy should end the occupation.

“In my idea, he should pack his bags and come home,” Clay Bundy said.

See Clay is a moderate. Shouldn’t he be protesting about the BLM owning Bundyville though?

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