How bad are Americans when it comes to knowledge of their own history and system of government? Well, going by a recent Newsweek poll, it’s not pretty.
They’re the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.
And when it comes to international affairs, Americans fall far behind Europeans in depth of knowledge. No surprise there. Unlike real news organizations like the BBC and CBC, American television news rarely reports on anything of international significance unless a 1000 or more locals (or at least 2 Americans) have died in an act of nature or unless the U.S. is waging a war in that country. Seriously, if one got all their news from Fox, they’d be hard-pressed to name a country in the world other than the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan. OK, and Japan. The same can be said of MSNBC, CNN and the major networks.
In the 17th century, Galileo did his best to enlighten the masses by informing them that Earth was not the center of the universe. If he was around today, he’d be trying to tell Americans that the U.S. is not the center of the universe. I have no doubt that he’d be treated no differently now for his heretic beliefs than he was by the Catholic Church 400 years ago. Getting the truth out is always a difficult matter when up against a lifetime of ignorance. Continue reading…
CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has a bone or two to pick with Fox News, which reported today that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan Ministry of Information as human shields, in a successful bid to block a coming, second attack on a compound in Tripoli, supposedly controlled by Qaddafi.
“[T]his allegation is outrageous and it’s absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here,” Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. “You don’t expect it from the other journalists.”
Fox claims their own correspondent, Steve Harrigan, declined to accept the invitation from the Libyans for fear of being used as a propaganda tool, and perhaps a human shield. But Robertson claims Fox did indeed send an employee on the trip — not a regular news guy — and that Harrigan has been asleep on the job since hostilities began. Continue reading…
Critics lash the tech giant for approving an app that claims to convert gay users to heterosexuality.
Exodus International, an iPhone app created by a Christian group of the same name, claims that homosexuality is a choice — and promises that the app’s users will gain “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus.” Apple approved the Exodus International app, rating it four out of five stars which indicates “no objectionable content,” although the app calls homosexuality “satanic.” That decision spurred a backlash from gay-rights groups, who want the app taken off the market. Should Apple comply?
Apple needs to dump this app now: The “hateful and bigoted” Exodus app certainly qualifies as “offensive material,” says nonprofit Truth Wins Out, which organized a petition drive against Apple. Every reliable medical organization has denounced so-called “reparative therapy” for homosexuality, and it’s “particularly galling” that Exodus is marketing its app to young people, given the wave of recent LGBT suicides. Apple bans racist content; why the “double standard”? “Gay rights petition: Demand that Apple remove ‘ex-gay’ iPhone app”
Indeed, Apple is being terribly inconsistent: Famously “stringent,” Apple self-righteously blocks even slightly pornographic apps to “protect our minds from filth,” says Jennifer Scott at IT Pro. And yet, “homophobia seems to pass muster.” For a supposedly “forward-thinking company” to approve such a “horrific app… sickens me to the core.” “Apple, homophobia is worse than porn ok?”
It may be distasteful, but Apple shouldn’t censor this app: “At the risk of putting myself at the center of a firestorm of disapproval,” says Victoria Pynchon at Forbes, I have to say this isn’t hate speech. It’s “simply the expression of religious beliefs with which I, and many other people, disagree.” While countless Americans — and many liberal churches — are rejecting such anti-gay ideas, it’s not the job of Apple or any other company to “serve as our national gatekeeper” and silence such religious stances, no matter how outrageous. “The internet, freedom of speech, and the anti-gay app”
Nearly 70 years after Recy Taylor was raped by a gang of white men, leaders of the rural southeast Alabama community where it happened apologized Monday, acknowledging that her attackers escaped prosecution because of racism and an investigation bungled by police.
“It is apparent that the system failed you in 1944,” Henry County probate judge and commission chairwoman JoAnn Smith told several of Taylor’s relatives at a news conference at the county courthouse.
Taylor, 91, lives in Florida and did not attend the news conference. Family members said she was in poor health and was not up to traveling to Abbeville or speaking with reporters. But her 74-year-old brother Robert Corbitt, who still lives in town, was front and center and said he would relay the apology to his sister.
“What happened to my sister way back then … couldn’t happen today,” he said. “Boy, what a mess they made out of it. They tried to make her look like a whore and she was a Christian lady.”
Taylor, who is black, told The Associated Press in an interview last year that she believes the men who attacked her are dead, but she would still like an apology from the state. The AP does not typically identify victims of sexual assault but is using her name because she has publicly identified herself. Continue reading…
Even though the state is supposedly broke, top officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s team were able to scrape together enough money to give a state job to the woman identified as Sen. Randy Hopper’s girlfriend.
Anything for a political ally.
Valerie Cass, a former Republican legislative staffer, was hired Feb. 7 as a communications specialist with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. She is being paid $20.35 per hour. The job is considered a temporary post.
Cass previously had worked in the state Senate and for the GOP campaign consulting firm Persuasion Partners in Madison. She also was paid for campaign work for the state Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner before that.
“Ms. Cass’ name was among many forwarded to DRL by the Governor’s Transition Team as potential candidates for positions with the department,” said David Carlson, the agency’s spokesman.
But who exactly recommended her for the post?
Cullen Werwie, spokesman for the governor, confirmed that it was Keith Gilkes, Walker’s chief of staff. She was then interviewed by the Department of Regulations and Licensing’s executive assistant and deputy and hired by Secretary Dave Ross, a Walker cabinet member.
An internal staff directory lists Cass as working in the secretary’s office as the assistant to the executive assistant.
Werwie said Gilkes did not recommend her as a favor to the first-term lawmaker, who voted for the governor’s controversial budget-repair bill earlier this month. Continue reading…