Thursday, May 24, 2018

Last Call For The Drums Of War, Con't

I say "North Korean summit", you say "high-level diplomatic meeting with Pyongyang", let's call the whole thing off.

President Trump has notified Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he has canceled their much- anticipated meeting, which was set for June 12
In a letter dated Thursday to Mr. Kim, the American president said he would not attend the summit due to “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” 
He was referring to recent comments from a North Korean official who described Vice President Mike Pence as “ignorant and stupid.” 
“Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you,” Mr. Trump concluded.

The letter is pure Trumpian hogwash.

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. l was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

It's kind of funny for somebody other than the North Korean leader to be the childish, petulant little pissant in this oft-repeated scenario over the last couple decades where that denuclearization summit never happens, but there you are.

Sadly, this is where we are now. America under Trump is very much an untrustworthy, unreliable, and unstable nuclear rogue state that's far more of a global threat and even more dangerous than the North Koreans are.

The prospect of a diplomatic miscalculation leading to deadly shooting war before the end of the year just became exponentially more real with two belligerents facing off rather than just one, yes?

Everything I said 12 weeks ago is still 100% true.

The Evolution Of Weaponized Ignorance

In the Trump era, where science is the enemy (but only where it disagrees with "Christian" Dominionist theocracy) and we're all living in the religious "Handmaid's Tale" hell where everything and everyone should submit to white guys awesomeness, the dismantling of America's public education system continues a to play a huge part in all of that.

That brings us to Arizona, where the state is now removing evolution from schools.

In Arizona, the state's superintendent of public instruction has led a campaign to remove evolution from the state's science education standards. Diane Douglas has taken the standards, written by educators, and selectively replaced instances of the word "evolution" with euphemisms like "change over time." The alterations come less than a year after Douglas publicly advocated for introducing religious ideas into biology classrooms. Arizona residents still have roughly a week to submit comments on the changes.

Most states develop educational standards that define their expectations for what students should know at different stages of their time in school. These standards then govern things, from the mass purchase of textbooks to the design of instructional plans by individual teachers. For large states like California and Texas, the decisions involved in the formation of educational standards can dictate the structure of textbooks that are released nationwide, as publishers try to develop one book that they can sell everywhere. 
Arizona doesn't have this level of influence, but it has more than a million students enrolled. The science standards would govern the textbooks that could be available to them, how they'll be instructed, and the content of any standardized testing they receive.
The new standards were developed by a team of more than 30 educators, after which they were submitted to the Arizona Department of Education. And that's where things started to go wrong. According to some of the teachers that wrote these standards, the state normally edits for clarity and grammar and makes changes to document formatting. The changes that were put in place this time were far more substantial. 
For example, the original standards instructed students to "Gather and communicate evidence on how the process of natural selection provides an explanation of how new species can evolve." That was changed to providing evidence on "the processes by which a species may change over time in response to environmental conditions." Instead of being expected to "Obtain, evaluate, and communicate evidence that describes how inherited traits in a population can lead to evolution," students are now asked to discuss how they can lead to "biological diversity." Similarly, the instruction to "Gather, evaluate, and communicate multiple lines of empirical evidence to explain the mechanisms of biological evolution" was altered to mechanisms of "change in genetic composition of a population over successive generations." 
Evolution wasn't gone entirely; in any cases where it remained, the references were changed so that it was discussed as the "theory of evolution." Even though evolution is both a fact and a theory, this language is often favored by those who hope the public views "theory" as taking its common meaning as conjecture, rather than its scientific meaning as a well-supported and validated explanation for observations. 
Evolution wasn't alone. The standards' lone reference to the Big Bang was also altered, from "Analyze, interpret, and critique supporting evidence for the Big Bang theory and the scale of the Universe" to focus on evidence for "theories related to the scale and expansion of the Universe." 
The changes were enough to cause the Department of Education's director of K-12 science education to resign.

In an increasingly dangerous time of weaponized ignorance in America where the Holocaust is being glossed over to the point where it's being forgotten and where lessons on slavery in the US are now more concerned with making white students and parents feel good rather than portraying the hard truth, the country is careening down the path of revanchist gaslighting, the core of which remains a regime and political party wholly dedicated to the pursuit of white supremacy in all its gruesome forms.

In other words, this is the Stupid I an here to be Versus.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The NFL is trying to head off any kneeling controversies this fall with new league rules requiring all players to stand if on the field for the national anthem, and precisely nobody on the left or the right is happy about it.

At their spring meeting on Wednesday, NFL owners caved to President Donald Trump’s relentless criticism of players protesting racial inequality and police brutality during the national anthem, approving a new policy to fine teams if players or staff refuse to “stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

According to a new rule unanimously approved by owners (San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York abstained from voting)*, team personnel are no longer required to stand on the field during the national anthem. In other words, the league would like players who plan to protest to do so in the locker room, out of sight—or else likely face the backlash from their organizations.

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. He noted: “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.”

The league’s new rule is aimed at stopping a movement that began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick’s silent kneeling during the anthem set off a wave of demonstrations and activism among players and drew the ire of the president, who criticized owners for not punishing players.

At a league meeting in October, owners seemed hellbent on figuring out how to prevent Trump from blasting the league again. “The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, according to audio obtained by the New York Times. Kraft, whose Kraft Group contributed $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee, called the president’s rhetoric “divisive” and “horrible.”

The new policy allows teams to come up with their own rules for players who fail to comply, leaving open the possibility that teams could fine players, coaches, and other personnel for not abiding by the rule. At least one owner, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney II, says he thought that other types of protests, like raised fists or linked arms, could also fall under the league’s new policy.

The NFL players’ union noted in a statement that it wasn’t consulted before the policy was put into place, and that it would “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

The new policy is already a disaster.

The New York Jets say they won't enforce the rule, Jets owner and chairman Chris Johnson says he'll pay any fines for players that kneel and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York abstained from the vote saying he wants to hear more from players.  The players weren't consulted at all and the players' union is furious.

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’ NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

“Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

At a brief press conference after the release of the statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said there was “incredible engagement” with players about the anthem issue and said any response to the union would come in direct conversation with them. He was also asked who would be the arbiter of what it means to “show respect” and said the “general public has a very good feel” for what that is without delving into a detailed discussion of what that might mean beyond kneeling.

It's a mess.  Trump and the deplorables will "claim a win" and they right will continue to attack black NFL players and those who support them, and this policy is tantamount to First Amendment censoring, so the NFL really does deserve what's coming to it.  I don't feel bad for the billionaire owners at all, they literally voted to do this to themselves.

It was never about the "disrespecting the flag".

"Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

Guy in the White House suggesting that residence and citizenship be taken from those people for protesting is something authoritarian dictators do, and yet this will slide right by as Trump continues to push us towards a fresh new hell where the majority of Americans agree with him and that maybe he should follow through.

Maybe the players union can put a stop to this, maybe they can't, but if Commissioner Roger Goddell could have made the worst possible policy here, he did it this week.


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