When it comes to starting new wars, Trump’s bark is worse than his bite

Perhaps the only redeeming feature of Donald Trump is that unlike previous presidents he seems deeply reluctant to get the US involved in new wars. He also seems to want to end the US involvement in its existing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while at the same time being willing to continue and even expand specific military actions in those countries, as can be seen in the recent drone attack in Afghanistan that killed 30 farmers and laborers and injured 40 more who had been resting after work..
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Richard Stallman will not be the last clueless nerd to fall

The fall of computer scientist Richard Stallman, forced to resign his position at MIT because of his apologetics for rape and sexual abuse is now widely known. But Steven Levy says that the entire nerd culture that these people were steeped in that found their eccentricities amusing is also one that made them oblivious from seeing that their views on so many matters were utterly appalling.
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The whiners in the US and Saudi Arabia

The recent attack on the refineries in Saudi Arabia has, predictably, aroused outrage in the leadership of that country and its patron the US. The Houthi rebels in Yemen that are fighting against the Saudi-backed government have claimed responsibility for the drone attack but that does not fit with the preferred narrative of the Saudis and the US who want to paint Iran as the villain in that region in order to isolate it even further.

Donald Trump has astonishingly said that he is waiting for to hear from Saudi Arabia as to what the US should do, which makes the US military look like a mercenary force and one wonders who is the dominant partner in that alliance. But back in 2014 when Barack Obama was president, Trump was saying something quite different.


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Global student strike on climate change

This graphic pretty much tells the story of global warming.

Source: Ed Hawkins/Guardian

Students around the world staged a strike today to urge governments to take action on climate change to stop global warming. The Guardian has a live blog of the strikes. You can see photos of striking students around the world such as this one below.

Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images


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The curious origins of blackface minstrelsy

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is the latest politician to be revealed to have appeared in blackface in the past.

Less than five weeks before the federal election on 21 October, the Liberal leader’s campaign was rocked when images emerged of Trudeau wearing blackface makeup.

On Thursday, new video emerged of a third instance of Trudeau in blackface – just hours after he had apologized for wearing what he described as “racist” makeup to a costume party in 2001.

The latest images came in a short, undated video clip published by Global News in which, Trudeau – his face, arms and legs painted black – waves at the camera and sticks his tongue out.

Trudeau immediately apologized, and acknowledged that he had previously blacked up at a high school talent show, when he had sung Day-O, the traditional Jamaican song.

“I apologise profoundly,” Trudeau told reporters aboard his campaign plane. “I didn’t think it was racist at the time, but now I see, it was a racist thing to do.

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New film explores the life of an incel

I read this review of a new film Cuck that has as its central protagonist a white nationalist ‘incel’, the label that involuntarily celibate men who are resentful that women spurn them, give themselves. Incels have been blamed for some of the mass shootings that the US regularly incurs.

It’s a character study determined to provide insight into the types of racist, sexist lunatics who spread fear and hatred via the barrel of a gun and, at least as a portrait of what makes these individuals tick, it’s as timely as it is depressing—and horrifying.

Before it heads down more contrived avenues that exacerbate its dearth of surprises, Cuck crafts an authentic vision of sexually aggrieved white nationalist psychosis. The crazy person in question is Ronnie (Zachary Ray Sherman), a California twentysomething who lives at home caring for his mom (Sally Kirkland, crowing like a prejudiced, pious loon) and, more frequently still, sitting in his dark bedroom, decorated with American flags and pamphlets for the military that won’t let him in because he failed his psych test. Habitually situated shirtless in front of his laptop, pizza and soda always within reach, Ronnie watches online video after online video of right-wing commentators—including his favorite star, Chance Dalmain (Travis Hammer)—ranting about the dangers of liberalism, immigration and diversity.
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Media gatekeeping on the Palestine issue

The results of the Israeli election had, as usual, no single party winning a majority of the 120-seat Knesset and so the post-election maneuvering to form a coalition has begun. The big news that the US media has focused on was that Benjamin Netanyahu’s party got just 31 seats, behind the 33 seats of Benny Gantz’s party. But few are noting that the Palestinian party got 13 seats and came in third. Philip Weiss says that the results have unleashed an outpouring of racism on Israeli TV.
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The ‘singular they’ has arrived!

As anyone knows, referring in the third person about some one whose gender you do not know was a problem even in the days when gender was seen in purely binary terms. Repeatedly writing ‘he or she’ or ‘his or her’ gets tedious very quickly. The growing recognition and acceptance that gender was not binary but fluid initially seemed to compound the problem of the third person singular pronoun.

But as often happens, it is when a problem gets acute that people start looking for new ways to address it and the suggestion that rather than inventing a third term, we use ‘they’ in singular as well as plural form was an idea brilliant in its simplicity.
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Chess and weight loss

In my history and philosophy of science course, I used to start by asking students whether cheerleading was a sport. This aroused lively discussion because they usually had surprisingly strong feelings for and against this issue. But my real goal was to introduce them to the idea of demarcation criteria, setting up necessary and sufficient conditions that would establish whether some thing X belonged definitely to class A or definitely did not belong to class A. An important and unresolved question in the philosophy of science is the effort to identify necessary and sufficient conditions that would determine whether some theory was scientific or not, and this early exercise on cheerleading was meant to be an introduction to that more abstract question later in the semester.
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