Nefarious Activity

February 9, 2017


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

Well, they confirmed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. No surprise there. Even got one Democrat. Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, appoints the state attorney general, Luther Strange (actual name!!) to fill the U.S. Senate seat, which means that Bentley can also appoint a new state attorney general. And I’m sure this part is pure coincidence:

The appointment comes two months after Strange asked an Alabama House committee to pause an impeachment probe of Bentley, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser. Strange said at the time that his office was doing “related work” though he never publicly elaborated on what it involved or when the work would be completed. 

On that abysmal draft executive order for “religious liberty” that we oppose (you know, the blank check to the Religious Right): Even if Trump doesn’t sign it, the states are busy with their own many, many versions of the same thing

On the silencing of Elizabeth Warren by the old men in the Senate (who by the way declined to silence any of her male colleagues who read the exact same letter), Lindsey Graham says, “The bottom line is, it was long overdue with her.” Melissa McEwan tweets, “THERE’S the Lindsey Graham I knew and loathed all those years.”  

Homeland Security wants to require refugees and visa applicants from the singled-out Muslim-majority countries to hand over their social media account passwords. To be fair, the Trump administration didn’t invent this idea. Ars Technica reports:

The Obama administration had considered—but passed on—demanding social media passwords from visitors entering the US. However, the Obama administration did adopt a plan to ask the millions of tourists entering the country each year to reveal their “online presence,” such as social media identities. The government announced the plan in June in a bid to give the DHS “clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections.” 

You know who is not happy with Trump’s attacks on judges? His Supreme Court nominee

You know who is happy about the Muslim ban? ISIS

Arjun Singh Sethi warns of the fallout that could result from Trump labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization”:

Anti-Muslim groups will now double down on their favorite smear tactic: They will declare that the Brotherhood is taking over the country and accuse prominent Muslims, their organizations and allies of being conspirators. Just as the Red Scare of the 1950s saw the chimerical specter of worldwide communism everywhere, accusations alone will have the power to destroy reputations and chill lawful activity, including freedom of worship, association, expression and charitable giving.

Sean Spicer keeps bringing up a terror attack in Atlanta that never happened.

Anderson Cooper debunks the White House’s insistence that several real terror attacks weren’t covered by the press with a series of examples of him actually reporting on those terror attacks

EJ Dionne thinks Bannondorf could potentially undermine Pope Fluffy, and cause a divide in the Catholic Church like the one he’s helped create in our politics. 

Hrishikesh Joshi at National Review profiles the struggles of ex-Muslims, speaking in particular to ExMNA’s Sarah Haider.

Peter Hotez writes grimly in the New York Times about the resurgence of anti-vax/autism misinformation:

It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America. … As a scientist leading global efforts to develop vaccines for neglected poverty-related diseases like schistosomiasis and Chagas’ disease, and as the dad of an adult daughter with autism and other disabilities, I’m worried that our nation’s health will soon be threatened because we have not stood up to the pseudoscience and fake conspiracy claims of this movement. 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom releases a report on the violations of religious freedom imposed on religious minorities in India. 

The parents who beat their son to death for leaving the Word of Life Christian Church, and badly injured their other son, will get prison time. 10 years for the dad, 5 for the mom. 

Edzard Ernst, give us some clarity on alt-med:

Proponents of alternative medicine often try to justify the use of unproven or disproven treatments by saying: ‘I don’t care how it works, as long as it is helpful.’ This may sound reasonable but, on closer scrutiny, turns out to be fallacious and wrong. Moreover, it is dangerous because it promotes quackery. The use of such therapies in clinical routine cannot be justified and is not in the interest of patients. 

We needed that. 

Vermont is once again the least-religious state in the nation, but Maine is creeping up on you hippies! 

Archaeologists find another Dead Sea Scroll cave, with no scrolls. 

Hey guys! Let’s check in with Rebecca Rosen find out what it’s like to juggle six kids AND a full-time career pretending to be psychic! And THEN find out how YOU TOO can enhance YOUR psychic powers! Yes, you!

A satire piece at The Gauntlet, about a college atheist who takes a religion class, made me wryly snicker a bit.   

Bill Nye will begin saving the world on Netflix this April. 

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