A great ad during the debate

During the Democratic debate yesterday, I was surprised to see an ad on CNN by the Freedom From Religion Foundation featuring Ron Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s son, who introduced himself as an “unabashed atheist” and said that the FFRF is the nation’s largest organization of atheists and agnostics and that it seeks to keep church and state separate.

I liked the ad and loved his final words because you don’t hear things like that on mainstream TV very often.

How some of the tax plans compare

Economist Gabriel Zucman has compared what the average tax rates will be depending on your income, based on the various plans offered by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and under Donald Trump. It should come as no surprise that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren go easy on the bottom 99% and start taxing the richest 1% very heavily, with Sanders really socking it to them. Joe Biden and Donald Trump tax the 99% more than the other two plans, tax the top 1% a lot less, and greatly reduce the tax rates of the top 400 individuals.

My reactions to the Democratic debate

Last night, twelve Democratic candidates debated for three hours. I watched almost all of it with a bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters at a pizza parlor. My capsule reactions were that Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Tulsi Gabbard came out of it looking more positive. Sanders and Warren refrained from attacking each other and instead emphasized their commonalities on the issues of Medicare for All and imposing very high wealth and income taxes to fight the obscene levels of inequality that exist in the US and is still growing.
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Great job, US police and immigration services!

I have to say, if the US were trying to alienate as many people as possible, its immigration and police services are doing a magnificent job. The world is already pretty much aware of the utter cruelty and inhumanity with which undocumented immigrants and refugees are treated when they arrive at the borders. We also know the racism of Donald Trump in the way he openly disdains countries that are the home of people of color. But it seems that even people from the favored European countries who happen to stumble into the arms of US police and the immigration system are subject to abuse.
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Film review: Official Secrets (2019)

I just saw the above film and it is excellent. It is based on real life events and tells the story of Katharine Gun, a fairly low-level intelligence analyst working for the GCHQ (the British equivalent of the NSA with all its evils) who, during the push by the Bush-Cheney regime to get support for its plans to attack Iraq in 2003, comes across a memo sent by a top official in the NSA to the GCHQ asking for help in getting dirt on the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in order to ‘pressure’ them (i.e., blackmail) to vote in favor of the second UN resolution to go to war with Iraq since it was felt that the 2002 resolution was a weak legal footing on which to wage war.
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National Weather Service being undermined again

John Oliver looks at how the Trump administration is trying to limit the services provided by this very important agency because the private sector cannot compete with it. It is doing so by trying to appoint the head of a private weather company AccuWeather to head the NWS. So much for the claims that the private sector can do things much better than the government can. This comes after the earlier failure in 2005 of another attempt to prohibit the NWS from giving its information away for free.

The problems with free speech absolutism

These days we seem to see a proliferation of hate speech, the tone being set by the petulant man-child who is currently president of the US, who lashes out at everyone he doesn’t like or who opposes him on anything, using the most incendiary rhetoric. This has given encouragement to all the bigots who see his words and actions as giving them a license to let loose too. The ghastly video below, seemingly cribbed from a scene in the film Kingsman: The Secret Service that shows Trump murdering various journalists, media organizations, and political rivals, was shown at a conference of Trump’s supporters at the Trump National Doral Miami resort and is an example of what is being supported and promoted by those at the very top. (Violence advisory.)

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The Great Paradox of Science to be released on November 20!

I am pleased to say that my book will be released next month and can now be pre-ordered. You can read more about the book and order it here.

As you can see from the flyer below, you can get a 30% discount from the list price of $34.95 if you order from the publisher and use the promotional code so that the cost becomes $24.47. Barnes & Noble is giving a discount of 35% so the cost drop even lower to $22.86. The book will eventually be available at all retailers in print and digital formats.

Oxford University Press will start shipping out copies starting November 20, other retailers in the US on December 18, and in the UK on January 1, 2020. I have no information as yet about the rest of the world but I assume it should be around the same time as the UK.