August 14, 2017 in 2,465 words

Boulder Weekly joins ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the U.S. has experienced an increase in media reported incidents of discrimination and hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 hate incidents in the first 10 days following Donald Trump’s election alone. A hate incident is an altercation motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Since then, hate crimes have drawn the national spotlight to Oregon, Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, New York and Florida and nearly everywhere in between. Children have experienced anti-immigrant bullying at their schools and many people of color have had the words “Go home” shouted at them as they navigate their daily lives. Jewish cemeteries around the country have been desecrated while Jewish Community Centers have received an increasing number of bomb threats. And swastikas, the age-old symbol of hate, have been showing up with more regularity in many cities, including Boulder and Longmont. Elsewhere in Colorado, Boulder Weekly has been reporting on threats and vandalism at mosques and refugee centers following President Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Even though such incidents are increasing around the country, the national data concerning these hate crimes is sorely lacking. While the FBI is required by law to track these hate incidents, the Bureau is largely dependent upon the reporting of other law enforcement agencies in order to track such crimes — many of which don’t report or track such incidents.

According to nonprofit, investigative news organization ProPublica, at least 120 federal law enforcement agencies don’t contribute data to the national tally, and an Associated Press investigation uncovered that roughly 17 percent of city and county law enforcement agencies in the country haven’t reported a single hate incident in the last six years. Furthermore, the data the FBI does track only accounts for incidents reported to law enforcement and we know that most hate incidents are never reported. As a result, FBI data shows only 5,000-6,000 such incidents each year, while the Bureau of Justice Statistic (BJS) — which works from surveys that account for crimes that went unreported to law enforcement — reported an average of 250,000 incidents of hate crime victimization each year from 2004 to 2015. BJS also estimates that between 2011 and 2015, 54 percent of hate incidents weren’t reported to the police. This inconsistency has created a black hole when it comes to having an accurate picture of hate in America.

John Oliver Accuses Trump of ‘Feeding’ the Charlottesville Nazis

The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host didn’t hold back Sunday night.

THANKS to HBO and Last Week Tonight for making this program available on YouTube.

This weekend, the nation was fixated on the horrifying display of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group of neo-Nazis held court armed with tiki torches, military cosplay, guns, clubs, and an outrageous sense of entitlement.

The preppy fascists were said to have congregated on the University of Virginia campus to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. They came to instigate outrage, and violence. And when all was said and done, a suspected white nationalist was arrested for allegedly plowing his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 people.

“It was truly a weekend of horrifying images. We saw Nazi flags and marchers carrying torches—tiki torches, by the way, because nothing says ‘white nationalist’ like faux Polynesian kitsch,” said John Oliver.

The Last Week Tonight host opened his program Sunday evening by addressing the events in Charlottesville—including President Donald Trump’s rambling, insufficient reaction to the tragedy, with the commander in chief refusing to denounce white nationalists, slipping in President Barack Obama’s name, imploring Americans to “cherish our history” (see: Robert E. Lee’s statue), and condemning hate “on many sides.”

The Statues of Unliberty

Eight Confederate leaders are honored with sculptures in the halls of Congress.

A statue of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens on display in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building

Members of Congress publicly condemned the white nationalists who’d gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. “The views fueling this spectacle are repugnant,” House Speaker Paul Ryan declared on Saturday. “I wholeheartedly oppose their actions,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged her fellow Americans to support diversity and “reject hate,” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the march and rally were “against everything the flag stands for.”

But the protesters weren’t waving the stars and stripes. America’s resurgent white-nationalist movement thrives on the power of imagery and symbolism, especially the symbols of the Confederacy. And right in the United States Capitol, there’s a collection of monuments to their cause.

Thanks to segregationist Southern state legislatures in the early 20th century, eight statues of Confederate leaders currently reside in the National Statuary Hall Collection on Capitol Hill. They include Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens, and Lee, whose Charlottesville monument was the focal point of this weekend’s strife. These bronze and marble figures, standing in the center of American democracy, pay tribute to the same authoritarian forces that congressional leaders eagerly denounced.

UAE bans Japanese Kikkoman soy sauce due to alcohol content

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change tells restaurants to dispose of products

Restaurants in the UAE have been told to throw out Japanese-made Kikkoman soy sauce due the brand having alcohol in some of its products.

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said “several samples of the product with different production dates violated the rules”, a news release read.

“The decision came based on the results of tests conducted by specialised accredited laboratories, which confirmed that several samples of the product with different production dates violated the rules”, the ministry added.

The sale of alcohol is controlled in the UAE and only available from special licensed outlets and licensed hotels and bars, sold under certain conditions.

Officials said Kikkoman sauce that was specifically produced in Japan was being targeted, suggesting that was the type that contains alcohol. The food manufacturer has production plants and offices in the US, Netherlands, China, Canada, Singapore and Taiwan. The ministry did not elaborate.

Poop is becoming a new fuel source

Surprisingly Odorless

Surprisingly, this idea doesn’t stink.

A Kenyan company is taking the excess fecal waste from residents in Nakuru and transforming it into a usable fuel source for cooking and heating.

Truck loads of feces are transported into the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company’s processing plant, where they are emptied into vats and dried for two to three weeks. The dried chunks are heated in a kiln at high temperatures to burn off any harmful gases and increase the amount of carbon, making the feces more flammable. This step also makes the feces powder odorless.

After the material leaves the kiln, it is ground into a fine mixture and combined with molasses in a rotating drum to make briquettes, which look like round lumps of coal. These briquettes are sold for 50 US cents per kilo. Customers say that the fuel burns longer and with less smoke than charcoal and firewood.

Goldfish turn to alcohol to get through winter in icy ponds

During the winter, goldfish and their relatives can have a blood-alcohol concentration beyond the legal limit for drink driving.

Goldfish can happily survive on alcohol when oxygen is unavailable

Scientists have figured out how goldfish produce alcohol to survive when trapped beneath the icy surfaces of frozen lakes and ponds.

Unlike most vertebrates which die within a few minutes without oxygen, goldfish and their wild relatives crucian carp are able to survive for months in oxygen-free water.

Biologically speaking, the fish convert their anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol which diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water.

The researchers from the Universities of Oslo and Liverpool have discovered the unusual molecular mechanism behind this unique ability.

They have pinpointed sets of proteins which are normally used to produce energy by channelling carbohydrates towards their breakdown within a cell’s mitochondria.

While one set of those proteins is very similar to what other species of vertebrate possess, the second set is uniquely activated by the absence of oxygen.

“I miss optimism”: The “Family Guy” creator wants to bring back hopeful science fiction

U.S.S. Orville

“It can’t all be “The Hunger Games.'”

Apocalyptic nightmares are already all around us, but the science fiction genre today is still doubling down on dystopia, sending TV-watchers and filmgoers further into the abyss of our inevitably dismal future. But one Hollywood player wants to put an end to that, and he’s starting by creating a new series that aims to return to the optimistic side of sci-fi.

Seth MacFarlane, creator of the popular animated series Family Guy, is writing, producing, and starring in a new television show on Fox called The Orville, a Star Trek-inspired comedic drama set aboard a starship 400 years in the future. MacFarlane, a noted space enthusiast who helped produce the award-winning docuseries Cosmos (hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson), said he yearned to return to the days of Star Trek, when the sci-fi genre demonstrated the amazing things humanity could achieve when it worked together.

“I miss the forward thinking, aspirational, optimistic place in science fiction that Star Trek used to occupy,” MacFarlane told a group of TV critics and reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour last week. MacFarlane said that a lot of dystopian science fiction is great and very entertaining, but not everything should be a nightmare scenario.

From Ancient Greece to Barroom Pastime, This Pro Team Epitomizes the Evolution of Arm-Wrestling

The traveling Willamette Valley High Rollers are out to prove their sport is real, and that it’s not just for stereotypical strongmen, either.

In a crowded casino conference room in Lincoln City, Oregon, two figures step onto a brightly lit stage. On the left is Will Dinwiddie, a gym owner and trainer with a stocky build, peppered beard and tattoos that sprinkle down his forearm like toile wallpaper. On the right is Isaac Saeidi, a brewery chef from Louisiana with shiny black hair and semi-rimless glasses. They approach a padded table displaying rectangular “” stickers. With a nod to each other the two men position their right elbows on the tabletop and clasp hands.

A referee repositions the ball of fists so that it stands evenly between them. “Don’t move,” he tells them. “Don’t move!”

Cheers of encouragement erupt from the crowd of about a hundred, which includes the pair’s teammates, the Willamette Valley High Rollers. They’ve seen the two battle countless times at practice. But this is a sanctioned tournament.

“Get ready,” the ref calls. The opponents brace themselves. “Go!”

The sport of arm wrestling is more than just a drunken test of strength between two guys in a bar. It’s a sport that dates as far back as ancient Egypt – tomb paintings depicting a primitive form of the game have been unearthed. Modern rules were formalized in 1962 with the founding of the World’s Wristwrestling Championship in Petaluma, California.

Sticky situation: Mexico City’s sisyphean battle with chewing gum

Streets across the world are littered with gum, and although many cities have tried and failed to eradicate these sticky circles, Mexico City continues to wage this seemingly unwinnable war

The remnants of 20 years’ worth of chewing gum on a wall in Seattle, which was removed in 2015 – though gum began to be left there again soon after

Each night dozens of trucks carrying 15 people depart from Mexico City’s downtown to Francisco I Madero Avenue, the most famous pedestrian street in the capital. Armed with 90C vapour guns called Terminators, the group begins the laborious task of combing the street looking for small, black circles fastened to the ground.

It takes them three days, working in eight-hour shifts, to go through the 9,000 sq metre avenue. By the end, they have removed a total of 11,000 pieces of chewing gum.

There’s a sense of resignation among the workers. Many are single mothers who commute an hour and a half from the city’s outskirts to perform this tedious work until 5am. “It gets boring,” says one of the most experienced.

The war on gum is waged in cities worldwide. The Wall Street Journal denounced gum as a “black plague” on New York City almost a decade ago, and cities from Seattle to Singapore have made eradicating it a central part of their urban philosophy.

Holy smoke! The church of cannabis

High hopes: members of the congregation in the Church of Cannabis

It started, naturally, with a group of friends smoking a joint. Steve Berke, a graduate of Yale University, was temporarily living in an old church in Denver, Colorado. His estate agent parents had bought the 113-year-old building with the plan to turn it into flats. He and Lee Molloy, as well as a few friends, had just moved from Miami to capitalise on Colorado’s lucrative marijuana market. But then, in the words of Lee: “We started having these stupid, fantastical conversations. What if we kept it as a church?” So Steve convinced his parents to give him the building and, nine months later, on 20 April 2016 – 4/20, as it’s known in the United States, the unofficial pothead’s holiday (because it’s 4.20pm somewhere, right?) – the International Church of Cannabis opened its doors with its own chapel, theology and video game arcade.

From the outside all appears normal: red-brick towers, blocky turrets, a classic city church in an otherwise leafy suburb of Denver. But there are giveaways. The three front doors and arched window facade have been spray-painted with silver galaxies and bright, happy-face planets. The work of legendary painter and graphic artist Kenny Scharf, who has exhibited in the Whitney and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, it looks more like the backdrop for an illegal 90s rave than your typical parish church. But it’s indicative of the coup that Elevation Ministries, the non-profit company that Steve and Lee co-founded to set up the Church of Cannabis, has managed to pull off.

“That mural would probably buy you next door’s house,” Lee says, letting me in. But they got it for the price of an air ticket for Scharf, a few days’ skiing and the loan of a jacket. People love fantastical ideas.

Holy crap! George Washington totally predicted President Donald Trump and fake news! It only took under 300 years for Washington’s warnings to come true which, given that America is just a little bit older than his farewell address, is probably record timing. We’d tell Trump to stick that feather in his cap if the implications weren’t so terrifying.

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Maybe. Not?