Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fake News Hurts Real People - and our Democracy

This is an educational story about conspiracy theories. It gives the type of clues that tip one off to a story being fake news. One quick way to tell is: ask yourself "What is the payoff for the person or group peddling this conspiracy theory?" (Hint: if the payoff is big towards destroying a political rival or party, that is an immediate red flag to dig further, and to not be credulous.)

A quick gut check on conspiracy theories is this: Does it require a group of conspirators bigger than the national debt to hide it and keep the perps from being investigated, charged and convicted? If "yes", you can be pretty certain it is a "fake news" event, not something that really happened. I truly empathize with those who have lost touch with reality enough to believe that the government, and all the ordinary police and teachers and firemen etc., are involved in vast conspiracies and cover-ups involving Hillary Clinton, Sandy Hook massacre, and the 9/11 attack in 2001, to name a few.

The irresponsible people who are making money off these despicable lies should not be tolerated. An open society does not give criminals a license to steal the good name of other citizens, to trick naive people into committing felonies, and to interfere with our elections. They are the ones who should be brought to justice -- and that is no conspiracy!

The real people referenced in fake news stories and conspiracies are harmed, even put in danger of their lives, because of unbalanced people acting on fake news.

Last Sunday a young man, Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, fired a rifle inside a neighborhood D. C. pizzaria, terrorizing the employees and customers. He was there because a fake news story (CBS NEWS, Dec 5, 2016), led him to believe that the business was a cover for a pedophile ring. Now there is a conspiracy theory that Edgar was a plant, (Washington Post, Dec 5, 2016), sent to cover up the crimes by pretending to investigate them. Edgar has been doubly victimized by Fake News. He will be facing criminal charges for his actions.

Lucy Richards, of Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday because she believed the conspiracy news about Sandy Hook, and threatened to kill one of the bereaved parents. (USA TODAY, Dec 7, 2016). She is facing up to 20 years in prison. Len Ponzer, the parent she threatened to kill, has not only lost his child in a mass shooting, but has been terrorized by an unbalanced woman who acted on Fake News. 

For the sake of our own sanity, we need to check our credulity at the door when listening to a politician or an "alternate" news site that is spewing slander and hate at a popular figure. This is how mobs are created, who then go and lynch an innocent person, just because "someone said".

That is why we have courts, we have independent committees in Congress, we have independent law enforcement in several overlapping jurisdictions such as city police, county sheriffs, state police, federal investigators such as FBI, CIA, Dept. of Homeland Security, etc. A total loss of confidence in ALL of them at once is required to believe in any of the currently popular conspiracy theories. For a rational person, that is truly - unbelievable.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reposted: Twitter storm from Evan McMullin

 Evan McMullin @Evan_McMullin
.@briankoppelman: If Trump governs as an authoritarian like he has promised, it will be critical that Americans do the following 10 things: 

1. Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.
2. Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.
3. Watch every word, decision and action of Trump and his administration extremely closely, like we have never done before in America.
4. Be very vocal in every forum available to us when we observe Trump's violations of our rights and our democracy. Write, speak, act.
5. Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform, inspire and unite us.
6. Build bridges with Americans from the other side of the traditional political spectrum and with members of diverse American communities.
7. Defend others who may be threatened by Trump even if they don't look, think or believe like us. An attack on one is an attack on all.
8. Organize online and in person with other Americans who understand the danger Trump poses and who are also willing to speak up.
9. Hold members of Congress accountable for protecting our rights and democracy through elections and by making public demands of them now.
10. And finally, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have "malice toward none, with charity for all" and never ever lose hope!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Americans First and Patriots All

President Obama, on Nov. 9, speaking of the results of the election:

We’re not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.
 That's what the country needs -- a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion,; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other.
In the interests of working towards respecting each other, I am removing from my blog and Facebook accusations regarding questionable past behavior of our President-elect.

In the words of Hillary Clinton on Nov. 10:
 "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,"
We cannot move forward hampered by the baggage of the past. Carrying grievances does not create anything but ill will. 

I am letting go of the past, in the hopes that "there is more that unites us than divides us." This does not mean I may not advocate for action when there is legislation pending that I think would harm the country. It just means I am going to take seriously the words of two people I greatly respect - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and follow their example.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

End of the "Year of Mercy"

Sunday Nov 20 marked the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, called by Pope Francis, and opened on 29th Nov 2015. Last Sunday was the end of the Year of Mercy. Is this now the end of Mercy?
The Jubilee Year of Extraordinary Mercy is ended, but Mercy is the Name of God (Deu.4:31, Neh.9:31), and is eternal.
(Deu. 4:31; Neh. 9:31)

Read more at: is eternal. Christian living means we would "be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful"LUKE 6:36
Among the works of mercy are these:
  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Visit the sick
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive offenses willingly
  • Comfort the afflicted
In this season of Thanksgiving, we can show our thankfulness with works of mercy.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

It Really REALLY matters Who You Trust

Do you trust Fox News to always tell the truth? Do you trust all those "FWD/FWD" emails you get to be accurate? Do you have a favorite website where you believe everything?

If so, you have embraced lies, big purple lies, and black horrible lies. How do I know that? Because people will lie to promote their cause, they will lie for enough $$$, they will lie because they can, and sometimes they don't mean to lie but are relying on false information. Do you think 'your' side of politics would never lie? You are in for a bad shock if you start fact checking them.

How can anyone know if they are getting the truth? Vigilance!

Fact check controversial news and rumors at SNOPES. For example, they show how it is a totally made-up claim to say that states do not count all the votes in a Presidential election.

Are you angry because Marian Robinson, Barack Obama’s mother-in-law, will receive a $160,000 government pension for babysitting her granddaughters during Obama’s presidency? You and lots of other people have been sucker punched - that is an example of fake news.  FACT CHECK is an excellent place to make sure you aren't being played by an organization that wants to make you angry to get your vote.

Reading the first page of a Google search will reveal controversies to investigate on a news item.

Does your favorite news and views site source and link? The DAILY KOS, for example, will print only confirmed and sourced stories.

Are you careful with what you eat? Would you grill a steak you found in your mailbox? Not fact checking the news is the same as eating food from an anonymous source - only instead of possibly poisoning your body, you may be poisoning your mind.

Take care out there, and fact check.

Friday, November 11, 2016