July 11, 2017 in 2,740 words

Redneck Revolt: the armed leftwing group that wants to stamp out fascism

There are several commonalities between the far left and the far right – including a disdain for liberals – but the biggest divide is on the topic of intolerance

The cookout offered free food, a face-painting booth and a “protest sign-making station” – a pile of cut-up cardboard boxes, paint markers and rolls of packing tape. A group of neighborhood boys, each no older than 12, gathered around. They wanted signs to tape to their bicycles, so they could ride around and “tell Trump” what they thought of him.

One grabbed a piece of cardboard and wrote in big letters: “TRUMP’S A BITCH.”

Max Neely quickly stepped in.

“I’m not sure you should use that word,” he said, his voice taking on a fatherly tone. At 6ft2in, he towered over them. “That word isn’t very respectful to women, and there are a lot of women around here today that we should be respecting. Maybe you can think of another word to use.”

The boys conferred. Eventually, they settled on a different, less offensive protest sign – at least in Neely’s eyes. “FUCK TRUMP,” it read, followed by four exclamation points.

A 31-year-old activist with long hair and a full bushy beard, Neely had a full day of political activism ahead of him: Donald Trump was in Harrisburg to mark his 100th day in office with a speech at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. In other parts of the city, the liberal opposition were also readying themselves: organizations such as Keystone Progress, Dauphin County Democrats and the local Indivisible group planned to march in protest.

What If It’s All True?

For months, President Trump and his aides have insisted that any suggestion of collusion with Russia was bogus. But if the Trump campaign was eager to receive information from the Russian government, what else might have happened?

For months, rumors, innuendos, and allegations about collusion between the Trump campaign, the Trump administration, and the Russian government swirled around Washington, sometimes in great gushing floods, other times in lazy rivulets. Time and again, Donald Trump and his allies denied it. They said there was no contact before the election. They said that any meetings that were held were routine, or that campaign officials might not have known they were meeting with Russian officials. They pinned any misbehavior on low-level staffers and failed disclosures on honest oversights.

The most far-fetched claim of all was that the Trump campaign could have colluded with the Russian government. Donald Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin could be explained away by his admiration for authoritarians, his ignorance of foreign affairs, and an opportunistic chance to hurt both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Apparent Russian hacking targeting John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee made sense given Putin’s hatred of Clinton and desire to disrupt the American election. But the notion of actual attempts to work together seemed implausible to even many of Trump’s harshest critics—a liberal fever dream at best, a return to McCarthyist red-baiting at worst.

Yet with Donald Trump Jr.’s release of self-incriminating emails on Tuesday, the nation learned that the wildest of fantasies was all too real: Granted the chance to take what he believed to be damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian government official, provided because the Kremlin wished to aid his father, Trump Jr. eagerly seized the opportunity. “If it’s what you say I love it,” he wrote to an intermediary. Not only that, but he brought along his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The disclosure of the emails raises a host of questions: Did anyone tell Donald Trump, and if so, when? (The White House and Trump’s attorneys both say he did not attend and was not aware.) Did lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya actually hand over any incriminating information at the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower? (Both she and Trump Jr. say she did not.) Why release documents that, according to some analysts, already implicate Trump Jr. in a federal crime? And why do it now?

Conservatives bet on risky plan that could tank Obamacare markets

Critics say it could price sick people out of coverage.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s, right, plan is being co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, left.

Ted Cruz’s plan to give insurers freedom to sell plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations may be conservatives’ last best chance to salvage the stalled Senate health care bill.

But it might also send Obamacare insurance markets into a death spiral.

It’s a free market approach to health insurance that appeals to many conservatives. The plan, which is being co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, got a shout out Sunday on Fox News from Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs.

But health care finance experts warn it could further destabilize the troubled Obamacare marketplaces, potentially causing them to collapse as premiums skyrocket and healthier customers flee — accomplishing the demise of Obamacare in practice rather than legislatively.

That’s because healthy people who aren’t worried about running up big medical bills could opt for cheap, skimpy plans that potentially wouldn’t cover big-ticket items like hospitalizations and treatment for mental health issues. Those with significant health problems, meanwhile, would likely stay in plans that meet Obamacare’s coverage rules. That would make the risk pool inherently unbalanced, leading to much higher premiums for those individuals.

6 WTF Mike Pence Stories You’ll Wish We Were Making Up

Because of how Donald Trump can dominate the entire media with nothing but a handful of dumb tweets, things fall can through the cracks. Like his selection of Michael Pence as a running mate, which lasted maybe half a news cycle before we collectively figured there were bigger fish to fry than the cod-like governor of Indiana.

But Indiana ain’t just cornfields and basketball. It’s the crossroads of America (surrounded by cornfields and basketball courts), and we shouldn’t have been so quick to brush aside its governor. Since a lot of people are desperately searching for a lamp to rub to wish Trump away, we thought it’d be worth putting together some facts about the man who’d probably take his place if shit goes down. And boy do we have some bad news.

#6. Pence Fucking Hates Mulan

After a “soft launch” at a political career, Pence decided to try something different and went into talk radio. It was a convenient way to stay in politics without actually having to assist the public. He described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” — all the hate without the sweet release of an early heart attack. We could use this space to go into detail about how sharp and measured Pence may have appeared over the radio, and clips do exist of him speaking fairly eloquently to his echo chamber, but it’s a much more interesting character study to delve into the time he got mad at Disney for their “liberal” portrayal of women in the military in Mulan. So what was Pence’s exact problem with the movie? is it the gender identity issues? No, Tumblr has more opinions on that than Pence could have even dreamed of. Is it the commercial association the film had with McDonald’s? Clearly, he never tried that Szechuan Nugget Sauce. Is it that he doesn’t respect women the same way that he does men? Yup, there we are:

Playing a Republican crowd favorite, Pence donned the officer and a gentleman persona, saying he wants to keep women out of the military for their own safety. Look, ladies, male soldiers are going to keep sexually harassing and assaulting women. That will never change. Which is why Pence was worried that Mulan would inspire young princesses to serve their country and and turn brave heroes into sex offenders. He even refers to how Bambi ruined the debate on deer hunting in America. Seriously, what kind of maniac watches Bambi and is on the side of the hunters?

Regardless of his ridiculous positions on ancient Chinese familial dynamics and the importance of honor in service, Pence used that radio show to keep his name in the news across Indiana, and it didn’t take long before Hoosiers were listening to him on over 20 stations statewide for several hours a week. So when he ran for Congress again in the ’00s, he had a well-known position on every issue, name recognition across the state, and a media savvy that was hard to match in a state like Indiana. Finally, he had a real victory under his belt, but the ridiculousness of his career wasn’t even close to finished.

Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn

Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.

Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eschews the normally sober tone of scientific papers and calls the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” that represents a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”.

Prof Gerardo Ceballos, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who led the work, said: “The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.”

Previous studies have shown species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than for millions of years before, but even so extinctions remain relatively rare giving the impression of a gradual loss of biodiversity. The new work instead takes a broader view, assessing many common species which are losing populations all over the world as their ranges shrink, but remain present elsewhere.

Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says?

Why it’s so hard to talk about the worst problem in the world

The nighttime Earth whizzes by the International Space Station in a photo taken in October 2016.

No one knows how to talk about climate change right now.

I don’t have an idea about where to begin, and I write about it professionally. On the one hand, the natural consequences of climate change seem increasingly severe and devastating. Just in the past two years, I’ve written about how global warming will probably cause more mega-droughts in Arizona and New Mexico; how dangerously sweltering summer days are three times likelier to occur today than they were in 1900; and how even slightly warmer oceans will destroy the Great Barrier Reef.

On the other hand, a strategy for addressing climate change is coming together. The cost of solar and wind energy are plunging worldwide; carmakers are promising to take more of their fleet electric, and the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from human activity has stabilized over the past three years. Decarbonizing will be an arduous and difficult global project—but technological development and government policy are finally bringing it into the realm of the possible.

But on the other, other hand, the Trump administration is methodically and successfully undermining the substance of American climate policy. It has spread untruths about climate science, abandoned the Paris Agreement, and stricken dozens of climate-focused EPA rules from the law books. Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor who has observed climate diplomacy for 30 years, told me that this is one of the most dispiriting moments he can remember—and that he believes Earth is now doomed to warm by more than two degrees Celsius.

Losing your sense of smell may help you lose weight—and it has nothing to do with taste

Fresh-Smelling Research

Without a sense of smell, mouse brains are duped into using more energy.

When Andrew Dillon, a cell biologist at the University of California Berkeley, set out to study the effect of the sense of smell on weight in mice, he assumed that he’d find that mice without a sense of smell would enjoy food less, eat less, and therefore weigh less. Scientists have known that smell shapes the way we tastes things—usually for the better—so without it, mice eating even a scrumptious, high-fat diet would enjoy it less.

He was right—kind of. The results of work he and his team published on July 5 in the journal Cell Metabolism show that adult mice without a sense of smell did weigh about 16% less than those with their sniffers intact. But the reason came out of left field: It was because somehow, without a sense of smell the rodents burned more energy from fat.

“I was convinced they were just eating less,” he told the LA Times. “When it became clear they weren’t, I thought, ‘Wow, this is incredibly interesting.’”

The team of researchers studied normal adult mice, and then a group of adult mice who had been genetically modified to lose their smelling abilities after a whiff of a chemical in a lab. They fed both groups of mice either regular diets or high fat diets for three months. On the regular diet, mice without a sense of smell weighed only slightly less, but on the high fat diet, the difference was much more pronounced. Furthermore, when overweight mice had their own sense of smell removed, they started losing weight, too.

Union workers in Michigan are blaming goats—not robots—for taking away their jobs


Just another day on the job.

People have been worrying about the future of work for 500 years. But at Western Michigan University, those worries are currently being fueled not by advances in technology and automation, but by goats:

A battle is brewing at Western Michigan University this summer between a group of hungry goats and a labor union.

The 400-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has filed a grievance contending that the work the goats are doing in a wooded lot is taking away jobs from laid-off union workers.

That’s from the Battle Creek Enquirer, a local Michigan paper, which reports that Western Michigan is using 20 goats to clear poison ivy and other weeds from about 15 acres of land. Cheryl Roland, a spokeswoman for the university, told the Battle Creek Enquirer that this is the second summer the university has enlisted goat landscapers as a “solution to stay environmentally friendly.” The goats arrived on campus June 2. Nicholas Gooch, a university horticulturist in charge of the project, said they are ahead of schedule in their landscaping efforts.

The gulls are alright: How a lesbian seagull discovery shook up 1970s conservatives

Queer Science

One of the first discoveries of homosexuality in animals ruffled more than a few feathers.

The year was 1972, and George and Molly Hunt, a pair of married scientists, were headed out to a small island off of Santa Barbara, California, to initiate what would be a few months of research on the behavior of seagulls living there. George couldn’t stay long. He was teaching a class at the University of California-Irvine that spring semester, and had to return to Orange County; he would come back to the island every 10 days or so. But Molly stayed, camping out with a small group of students from the university, who did field work every day.

Early in the semester, Molly called George. She’d found a pair of female seagulls nesting together. They were even raising young together, just like any other seagull couple.

Female-female pairs? George didn’t believe her. “I poo-pooed it at first,” he says today. “I asked her, are you sure these were both on the same nest?” Molly insisted. “She was duly outraged that I questioned the care with which she did her science,” George remembers. Molly, it would turned out, was right. There were lesbian seagulls in California.

The discovery, published in 1977, triggered a controversy that shook the core of conservative Christianity and right wing of US politics. “At the time it was, I believe, the first published work on homosexuality in any wild animal,” George says. “The extreme right was very distressed.”

Ed. Gotta work a whole lotta days the next couple of weeks. I’ll put stuff up as i find time. So… More tomorrow. Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?