John Oliver is spot on

John Oliver covered the French presidential election last night, and explains what is at stake

It is hard to overstate the importance of this election, and the consequences if Le Pen wins. It could very well lead to the collapse of the EU, since it is highly unlikely that Germany would be able to work together with a fascist like Le Pen.

Lazy linking

Catching up on sharing interesting links – some of these might be used for posts in the future.

Seems like the far-right is spreading everywhere, including into the more niche communities, such as the furries. This has led to this article, which must be a headline writer’s wet dream (warning Daily Mail link)

Neo-Nazi furries uproar causes convention cancelation

The rise of the alt-right movement has many people nervous about the spread of neo-Nazi sympathies – and the furry community is apparently not immune to these political trends.

In shocking news, the Rocky Mountain Fur Con, the annual event that brings together furries, has been canceled after a splinter group known as the Furry Raiders came under fire for embracing ‘altfur’ symbols similar to those of Nazis and fascists.

Furries are pretty much at the bottom of the internet pecking order, but I can’t help notice that unlike many other groups that the far right has tried to infiltrate, they actually take action – in this case cancelling the convention.

My fellow FreethoughtBlogger Crip Dyke has written a great blogpost about the One Drop rule

The One Drop Rule

Shermer has had an abomination of a tweet called out by PZ Myers over on Pharyngula, and I’m sure most of you have read that. There are many good points to make about it and a number have been made there, but here I’d like to say something that hasn’t been mentioned yet over there. Here, I’d like to offer some praise for a One Drop Rule.

The One Drop Rule that Crip Dyke is praising is not the one that we generally know, but rather the inverse one – the one where minorities took in anyone who was forced out by the One Drop Rule, providing a community and a home for them.

This article is a year old, but it is important to keep sharing it, since the stereotype still exists, and forms policy in the US

A racist stereotype is shattered: Study finds white youth are more likely to abuse hard drugs than black youth

By now we can all agree that the real target of Reagan’s enduring war on drugs was never drugs, it was African Americans. But if rising incarceration rates among black youth or the utter failure to curtail drug use is not enough proof, perhaps a new study from Northwestern University on racial differences among drug users will do the trick.

According to the study’s findings recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, abuse and dependence on “hard drugs” (opiates, amphetamine, etc.) are “less common among delinquent African American youth than those who are non-Hispanic white.”

It can be debated whether the “war of drugs” is a good idea or not (though I think most of my readers will on the side of thinking it being a bad idea), but studies like this clearly shows that the law is being used to target minorities rather than doing what they are supposed to do.

 

The next link is an interesting article about mixed up identities and the slow awakening of the awareness of racial prejudice of a white woman in the US.

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity. Until I found her

A woman apparently using my name meant a nightmare of unpaid traffic fines and a criminal record. But when I tracked her down, a different story emerged

Most of the problems encountered in the article is due to the lack of a national identity in the US, where people get confused with other people all the time (something John Oliver has covered relating to credit scores), but I found it interesting how the author slowly become aware of the racial prejudice that affected her namesake(s)

I had never been to any other kind of court except traffic court (at which, both times, the police officers had flat-out lied). While I was familiar with the statistics –75.6% of arrestees for misdemeanor crimes are African Americans or Hispanic – the reality took my breath away. Like any other privileged white person living in the protected segregation of New York, who isn’t directly dealing with the New York criminal justice system, I hadn’t seen it first hand. The room was almost entirely filled with people of color, other than the judge, the court-appointed lawyer, and me. Most of them had summonses for smoking pot, one of the city’s least offensive offenses.

 

It is incredible hard to hide one’s identity on the internet, especially if you are a public person, but you’d think that the head of the FBI would be able to do so. Apparently not.

This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account

Digital security and its discontents—from Hillary Clinton’s emails to ransomware to Tor hacks—is in many ways one of the chief concerns of the contemporary FBI. So it makes sense that the bureau’s director, James Comey, would dip his toe into the digital torrent with a Twitter account. It also makes sense, given Comey’s high profile, that he would want that Twitter account to be a secret from the world, lest his follows and favs be scrubbed for clues about what the feds are up to. What is somewhat surprising, however, is that it only took me about four hours of sleuthing to find Comey’s account, which is not protected.

Going to IT conferences, where security is often covered, has left me a bit cynical about the chances of hiding, or even protecting yourself, on the internet, but it seems Comey has done some pretty basic mistakes, which a person in his position should have avoided (e.g. not making the profile private).

 

This Scandinavia and the World strip pretty much summons up Brexit.

 

Berkeley Breathed made a great April 1st joke: A merger of Berkeley Breathed and Calvin and Hobbes. This even let to a great comic strip:

April 1st comic strip

Berkeley Breathed with Calvin and Hobbes

On the tactics on punching Nazis

I am a bit late to the party, but I thought that I’d comment a bit on Richard Spencer getting punched in front of TV cameras

A lot of debate has been going since then, about whether it was acceptable to do so, and if, whether it was good tactics to do so in front of cameras.

Well, legally, it is clearly not acceptable, since it is assault. Morally, on the other hand, I personally don’t have a problem with someone literately advocating genocide and/or promoting an ideology which is based upon genocide getting punched. Some people tries to make the slippery slope argument, asking when it is OK and when it is not, implying that next step will be to punch granny because she voted for Trump. Well, no – the line is clear – if you directly promotes either genocide or an ideology based upon genocide, then it is acceptable. It might be acceptable to punch other groups, based on other clear criteria, but it doesn’t mean that anyone remotely related to the first group get punched.

And it is not like people hasn’t tried to debate Richard Spencer before.

On the tactics parts.

Some people think it might be a bad idea to punch Spencer in front of the TV cameras, as it allows him to play martyr, and others to claim that the left is just as bad as the right. I will concede that there is some truth to that concern, but I still think it is a good idea. Nazis and other white supremacists won’t go away if you play nice with them – maybe they will on an individual level, but not as a group/movement.

Every time someone has gotten rid of Nazis, it has required people to stand up to them physically.

Why should we believe that this is any different? Especially when they’ve got direct influence on the White House, and backing by senior members of the Trump staff?

No, the only way to get them to stop promoting their hate, is to show them that they are not accepted – this can be done through demonstrations, but it can also be done by the means of punching them, when a TV channel gives them a platform.

Or as I stated on Twitter, just after it happened:

So, in other words, I find the tactics of punching Nazis in front of camera effective in the sense that it will make the Nazis crawl back into the shadows, and stop them spreading their ideology. Given this, it could be argued that it is actually more effective tactics to punch Spencer in front on rolling cameras than away from the camera.

 

Lazy linking

A few links to things I have come across recently

3 Men Arrested in Plot to Bomb Kansas Aparment Complex, Mosque Following Presidential Election

Three members of a southwest Kansas militia dubbed the “Crusaders” were arrested Friday on charges stemming from a plot to attack a housing complex that houses a mosque in Garden City, Kan.

It is hardly a surprise that right-wingers are a genuine terrorist threat in the US, and it is good to see that the law enforcement are aware of this, and can stop them before they can effectuate their plans.

 

Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court on Monday

On Monday, Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood will head to court in Brisbane, Australia, following a probe at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ).

Barwood was granted bail in November, 2014 — charges included  that she “dishonestly applied for grant funds,” and fabricated research that claimed a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to The Guardian. In March, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at UQ, pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence after an institutional investigation into 92 academic papers.

It is fairly rare that scientists are facing trial after having fabricated research, probably because it can be difficult to be sure whether they actually fraudulently fabricated their result. In cases like this, where there were claims of breakthroughs in an area, giving people false hope, I think it is important for there to be a legal follow up.

 

Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying

Donald Trump’s supporters deserve to have their concerns taken seriously.

If the media and commentators in 2016 can agree on nothing else, it’s this. It’s a bit of an odd meme. I can remember literally no one in 2012 dwelling on the importance of taking the concerns of Mitt Romney voters seriously, even though they made up a considerably larger share of the population than Trump supporters. No one talks about taking the interests of Hillary Clinton supporters, a still larger group, seriously.

But Trump supporters, a smaller group backing a considerably more loathsome agenda, have received an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy, undertaken as a sort of passive-aggressive snipe at unnamed other commentators and politicians perceived to not be taking their concerns seriously.

But there’s something striking about this line of commentary: It doesn’t take the stated concerns of Trump voters, and voters for similar far-right populists abroad, seriously in the slightest.

In the primary, though, the story was, as my colleague Zack Beauchamp has explained at length, almost entirely about racial resentment. There’s a wide array of data to back this up.

UCLA’s Michael Tesler has found that support for Trump in the primaries strongly correlated with respondents’ racial resentment, as measured by survey data. Similarly, Republican voters with the lowest opinions of Muslims were the most likely to vote for Trump, and voters who strongly support mass deportation of undocumented immigrants were likelier to support him in the primaries too.

We see the same in Denmark, where we always hear about how the voters for the xenophobic Danish Peoples’ Party (Dansk Folkeparti) have a lot of concerns which we should take serious, but when you listen to what the actual supporters say, it is all about foreigners and getting rid of them.

 

More similarities

In response to my last blogpost, Dorte Toft (Danish blog) pointed out that Jonathan Bachman’s picture also had many visual similarities to the picture of Tess Asplund standing up against a neo-nazi march in Sweden. Look and compare.

Brave woman at Baton Rouge protest

 

Tess Asplund standing against neo-nazis

Note: there is a major difference between the two situations, in that the neo-Nazis in Sweden doesn’t represent the official Sweden,  but they are alike in the sense that the depict a woman standing up against injustice.

Labour politician killed in the UK

There are many ways to try to stop democracy, but one of the most effective, and worst, is to attack politicians that you don’t agree with. This is probably why this is one of the preferred methods in less than democratic countries. Unfortunately, it also happens it countries where democracy is well instituted.

We saw it when Gabrielle Giffords was attacked in the US.

Today, we saw another such case, this time in the UK, where member of parliament Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death.

Little is known so far, but it appears that the assailant is connected to Britain First, a far-right group. Jo Cox was a member of the Labour Party.

It seems unlikely that the attack was planned by Britain First, but it is not entirely impossible, as they have in the past sought out confrontations and have ties to Ulster loyalists, who committed terrorism in Northern Ireland. Even if they didn’t plan the attack, Britain First has certainly created the environment where such violence could take place, and thus share part of the responsibility for the attack.

Kent Hovind’s far-right connections

This is a re-post of the first real blogpost from my former Pro-science blog. Since Kent Hovind has started to show up in the media again, and since the Bundys have shown that far-right militias is still a concern, I thought it was also appropriate to start off this blog with this post. It was first posted February 7, 2007. It has been modified slightly to reflect the passage of time, and to compensate for dead links.

As most readers probably are aware, “Dr. Dino” Kent Hovind was convicted of tax evasion in 2006 and sentenced to 10 years in jail. In 2015 he finished serving his sentence.

Back when the trial was going on, Hovind used some pretty nutty arguments for why he shouldn’t be paying taxes. Those arguments reminded me a lot of the arguments used by the far-right Patriot movement, such as the Montana Freemen. Given the fact that Hovind has a history of promoting anti-semitic literature (as David Neiwert explains), I couldn’t help wonder what connections he might have with the Patriot movement, or even the Christian Identity movement,

Mentioning this is the comments of a post at Pharyngula, PZ Myers pointed out to me that Hovind kept referring to his “lawyer” Glenn Stoll, and that Stoll is based in Seattle, close to much of the Patriot movement.

Well, Glenn Stoll is not necessarily part of the Christian Indentity movement, but he is certainly part of the Patriot movement. He is even briefly mentioned in David Neiwert’s excellent book: In God’s Country -The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (p. 283.)

Two weeks later, Kirk – who actually lived with his wife, Judy, in the southern Seattle suburb of Tukwila – presided as the “Referee/Magistrate” of the first recorded session of “our one supreme court Common Law, Washington republic.” According to the document itself, the court was convened on Mercer Island at the home of James Gutschmidt, a Patriot who was attempting to starve of foreclosure on his property. Gutschmidt claimed in the document he was “not a Fourteenth Amendment citizen or subject … not a resident, but a Citizen as described in the Holy Bible and in the Constitution prior to the Fourthteenth Amendment.”

Sitting in as “jurors” for the case was a virtual “who’s who” of the Patriot community in the Central Puget Sound area:[….]

Glenn Stoll, a longtime associate of Don Ellwanger’s who was present during the standoff at Ellwanger’s veterinary clinic. Stoll was designated “Clerk of the Court.”1

Glenn Stoll is not a lawyer, and has an injunction order against promoting his “tax-fraud scheme”. He is also connected to the Patriot group Embassy of Heaven, who issues their own passports and other papers. Stoll have a history of trying to use Embassy of Heaven passports as proof of identification. The Embassy of Heaven and it’s leader, Paul Revere, also has a history of problems with the IRS and other authorities (as people might notice, the later link leads to a Embassy of Heaven article, that also mentions Glenn Stoll).

As I said, Stoll is not necessarily part of the Christian Identity movement, but he certainly hang out with people who doesn’t seem too far removed from them. I wrote to David Neiwert, and asked him if he knew of any connections between Stoll and the Christian Identity movement, and he responded

I can’t tell you to what extent Stoll is an Identity believer, though it wouldn’t surprise me if he is one, for reasons I’ll explain momentarily. What I can say with certainty is that he not only was a militia organizer (he set up some of the earliest meetings in Snohomish County) and Patriot true believer, he was such a devout Constitutionalist that he was involved setting up Common Law Courts modeled directly after the Freemen.
This is where a likely Identity can be found, because the CL Courts he was involved in were run mostly by John Kirk (whose name you can find extensively in IGC). Kirk attended Freemen sessions in Jordan and at times expressed a number of Identity-based ideas in association with the CL courts.

IGC refers to In God’s Country -The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest.

I think it’s fairly clear that Glenn Stoll doesn’t exactly hold mainstream views, and given the fact that he has an injunction against him, which is prominently displayed on Stoll’s company’s website (as required), Hovind can’t claim that he didn’t have a fair warning that he was going to get in trouble.

1David Neiwert was kind enough to send me the document as images, so if you want to see what such a document looks like, you can see them below.

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