A sign on scrubland marks one of America’s largest slave mutinies. Is this how to remember black heroes?

10 days ago

The Stono rebellion of 1739 was the biggest slave rebellion in Britains North American colonies but it is barely commemorated unlike Confederate leaders

The slaves met on a Sunday morning, close to the Stono river. Plantation owners tended to go to church on Sundays, and would leave them unattended.

A man named Jemmy had collected them together. Described in reports as an “Angolan” who could read and write, Jemmy had talked the men through his scheme the night before.

There were about 20 men in total. They marched to Hutchenson’s Store, 14 miles west of Charleston, South Carolina, and killed two white humen. They then loaded up on handguns and gunpowder, and headed south.

Jemmy was leading them towards the then-Spanish territory of Florida, where “hes having” heard slaves could live as free men.

The humen marched from the store to a home belonging to a white man named Godfrey. They burned the house to the ground and killed Godfrey, his wife, and his son and daughter.

When the slaves arrived at the home of a man called Lemy they killed him, his wife, and their child. They did spare a human named Wallace, who owned a tavern. He was considered a kind slave owner. But every other home they passed they torched.

It was 9 September 1739, and Jemmy was resulting what became known as the Stono rebellion- one of the most important slave insurgencies in what was then the North American colonies.

The humen would not make it to Florida. They wouldn’t even come close.

In the 1700 s, and on through the 1800 s, Charleston was one of the most prominent hubs for the slave trade in North America. At one point 35 -4 0% of slaves entered the US through the city, and it served as a base for trading slaves once they had arrived.

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A white man sells black slaves at a sale in Charleston, South Carolina. At one point 35 -4 0% of slaves entered the US through the city. Photograph: Popperfoto/ PPP

But walk around Charleston today and the most visible monuments and memorials are not to people like Jemmy and his Stono rebels. The major monuments are to the Confederate leaders who declared their secession from the United States and opposed a war over their right to own slaves.

The same is true for cities and countries across the country. There are more than 700 monuments to the Confederacy in the US, the majority in the south. Including park and school names, street and bridge names and public holidays, the Southern Poverty Law Center says there are more than 1,500″ symbols of the Confederacy” in public spaces across the country.

There are signs recently that times are changing. Statues of Confederate leaders like Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis have been removed in New Orleans and Baltimore, with other cities exploring how to take down similar structures.

In 2015, after Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, finally removed the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

But the fight to erect monuments and memorials to those enslaved- or who fought enslavement- has proved just as difficult as the battle to remove those Confederate symbols.

***

As Jemmy and the working group stimulated their style south-west, more slaves joined the Stono rebellion. Their number had swelled to about 100 men before the latter are spotted, by chance, by South Carolina’s lieutenant governor, William Bull.

Bull rounded up a militia, and they tackled the slaves in the middle of a field near the Edisto river, a winding stretch of water that satisfies the Atlantic Ocean 50 miles north of the South Carolina-Georgia border. A battle ensued.

Accounts from the time say the slaves fought bravely, but the latter are outnumbered and their foes were better armed. The majority of the rebels were slaughtered. Some were taken back to plantations and returned to slavery. About 30 escapeds, but were later rounded up and killed.

The plantation owners mounted some of the slaves’ heads on sticks along the main road, as a warn to others.

Jemmy and his humen had stimulated it just 15 miles.

There were uprisings over the next two years, although historians are divided on how much they were inspired by Stono. None were on the same scale, and none were successful.

Slavery continued in the North American colonies, and continued when the US became an independent country in 1776. It would be 1865- more than 120 years after the mutiny in Stono- before the 13 th amendment to the constitution was ratified and slave ownership was ultimately stimulated illegal.

Slaves
Slaves of the Confederate general Thomas F Drayton at Magnolia plantation, Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1862, a few miles south-west of where the Stono rebellion was crushed more than a century earlier. Photograph: UniversalImagesGroup/ Getty Images

Today the only marker of the failed rebellion is a small sign by the side of US Highway 17, simply past the Stono river.

It is not easy to spot. Vehicles and trucks rumble through this part of South Carolina at 60 mph, intersecting the marshy field of the Stono river before reaching the small town of Rantowles.

The sign is on a grass verge, opposite a gas station and underneath an advertisement billboard currently promoting a Chevrolet and Ford car dealership. There is a corrugated metal building behind it which sells arcade games and pinball machines.

There is no layby to pull into , no place to stop. Even with an idea of where the sign was, I flashed past it before I’d seen it. It took a screech of the brakes and a hard right turn to pull into the arcade store car park and take a closer look.

The marker was erected in 2006 by the Sea Island Farmers Cooperative, and appeared as if it has been forgotten in the 11 years since then.

The white background was streaked with clay. The paint of the small black lettering, which devotes a pithy summary of the rebellion, was flaking, and the black border was faded and cracked.

It was hard not to think of the contrast with the gleaming Confederate commemorations which loom over streets in downtown Charleston.

On a sunny Wednesday at the end of September the grass at the base of the signpost was long and scorched. Wading through it, I could eventually read the 50 -word tribute to the enslaved men who had induced their bid for freedom.

” The Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in British North America, began nearby on September 9, 1739 ,” it reads.

” About 20 Africans raided a store near Wallace Creek, a branch of the Stono River. Taking guns and other weapons, they killed two shopkeepers.

” The rebels marched south toward promised freedom in Spanish Florida, waving flags, beating drums, and wailing’ Liberty !'”

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The Denmark Vesey monument in Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina. Vesey attempted to lead a slave rebellion. Photo: The Washington Post/ Getty Images

The largest insurrection of the time may well be doomed, but over the next 100 years more men sought their own version of autonomy. Eighty-three years after Jemmy and his humen attempted their revolt, Denmark Vesey, a former slave himself, was planning his own large-scale Charleston rebellion.

Around 1800, when he was in his early 30 s, Vesey had won $1,500 in a cash lottery. He use some of the money to buy his freedom from his owner, and hoped to use the rest to procure his wife’s freedom, but her proprietor refused to sell her.

Over the next 20 years Vesey, who had been born into bondage in the then-Danish colony of St Thomas, built up a carpentry business and became a prominent figure in the emerging African Methodist Episcopal church- the church Dylann Roof would target two centuries afterwards.

Vesey maintained relationships with enslaved men, and became increasingly determined to change the state of affairs in South Carolina.

” He’s a man who by that time period was in his 50 s, mid-5 0s. He’s an old man ,” said Curtis Franks, museum curator at the Avery Research Center for African American history and cultural activities in Charleston.

” It was this heightened sense of importance because of where he was in his life to do what he could do to bring about an end to the institution of slavery .”

In 1821 Vesey and other churchgoers began to plan a rebellion. By some accounts thousands of men were prepared to join the cause, both in the city and out into the countryside- even as far as the Stono river where their predecessors had assembled almost a century earlier.

The humen planned to attack an arsenal facility in downtown Charleston on 14 July 1822, seize weapons, then hijack ships and sail to Haiti, where slaves had subverted French colonialists two decades earlier. Had they built it, Vesey and his companions would have been able to live freely on the island, a thousand miles south-east.

They didn’t make it.

The plot was uncovered days before they were due to ten-strike. After a brief trial Vesey and 34 others were hanged, 38 more were deported.

Franks was part of a group of people who wanted to erect a statue of Vesey in Charleston. He insured it as an important counterpoint to the existing monuments that exalt Confederate politicians and leaders.

The group got the backing of some members of the Charleston city council, which at the time was evenly split between black and white people, and of the city’s mayor.

Nevertheless, it took virtually 15 years for Franks and another to get their memorial to Vesey and his would-be rebellion.

They faced opponent in the press, Franks said, and on talk radio. Adversaries vilified Vesey as a terrorist- dismissing the hypocrisy of the memorials to people who initiated a civil war- and one proposed site was blocked after residents protested.

Monument
The monument to John C Calhoun in Marion Square in Charleston. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

The group had wanted the Vesey statue in the downtown area, where tributes to the former US vice-president John C Calhoun, a hardline defender of bondage who referred to it as a” positive good” in an 1837 speech, are unavoidable.

The main street running east to west through downtown is named after Calhoun. That street perimeters the south of Marion Square, where a giant Calhoun statue glares down at passersby.

” In a sense it could offer a counter to the Calhoun piece ,” Franks said. This more visible representation of the darker parts of Charleston’s past would not just honour the history of black Americans, Franks said, but also offer something to the people who travel to the city each year.

” There are black folk throughout the country who are visiting Charleston. And they’ve done their work, they’ve done their read. And they understand the importance of this physical space to this country, and to the world.

” So they’re coming with great expectations, and they get here and that read, that preparation doesn’t meet or match what they find when they get here ,” Franks said.

” You look around and you see all this other stuff that is Confederate .”

The plan to place the Vesey statue there did not pan off. The city of Charleston does not own the park- it leases it from the Washington light infantry, a military organisation that fought on the Confederate side in the civil war.

It was years before a site was agreed on. Franks’s group did not get their downtown locating, but were granted a site in Hampton Park, a couple of miles north.

Franks drove me out to see the statue in September. The monument has Vesey standing on top of a plinth, a Bible in one hand and a container of carpenter’s tools in the other. He has his back to the open green space of the park, facing instead a paved semi-circle with two benches designed for contemplation.

The tale of the Vesey statue shows how divisive the legacy of slavery remains today.

***

This battle to accurately represent both side of Charleston’s history is not lost on locals. I took a cab from the Vesey statue to downtown, and the driver, Jamal Middleton, was aware of the struggles Franks and others from the Avery center had faced.

” It’s the largest monument to anything that has to do with ending bondage or evolution or freeing slaves ,” Middleton said of the Vesey memorial.

” And it’s placed in an area where it would be almost difficult to find unless you know where it is .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Women of America: we’re going on strike. Join us so Trump will see our power

14 days ago

The lean-in variety of feminism wont defeat this administration, but a mobilization of the 99% will. On 8 March we will take to the streets

The massive womens marches of 21 January may mark the beginning of a new wave of militant feminist struggle. But what exactly will be its focus? In our view, it is not enough to oppose Trump and his aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies. We also need to target the ongoing neoliberal attack on social provision and labor rights.

While Trumps blatant misogyny was the immediate trigger for the huge response on 21 January, the attack on women (and all working people) long predates his administration. Womens conditions of life, especially those of women of color and of working, unemployed and migrant women, have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years, thanks to financialization and corporate globalization.

Lean-in feminism and other variants of corporate feminism have failed the overwhelming majority of us, who do not have access to individual self-promotion and advancement and whose conditions of life can be improved only through policies that defend social reproduction, secure reproductive justice and guarantee labor rights. As we see it, the new wave of womens mobilization must address all these concerns in a frontal way. It must be a feminism for the 99%.

The kind of feminism we seek is already emerging internationally, in struggles across the globe: from the womens strike in Poland against the abortion ban to the womens strikes and marches in Latin America against male violence; from the vast womens demonstration of last November in Italy to the protests and the womens strike in defense of reproductive rights in South Korea and Ireland.

What is striking about these mobilizations is that several of them combined struggles against male violence with opposition to the casualization of labor and wage inequality, while also opposing homophobia, transphobia and xenophobic immigration policies. Together, they herald a new international feminist movement with an expanded agenda: at once anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-heterosexist and anti-neoliberal.

We want to contribute to the development of this new, more expansive feminist movement.

As a first step, we propose to help build an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights on 8 March. In this, we join with feminist groups from around 30 countries who have called for such a strike.

The idea is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions. These actions are aimed at making visible the needs and aspirations of those whom lean-in feminism ignored: women in the formal labor market, women working in the sphere of social reproduction and care, and unemployed and precarious working women.

In embracing a feminism for the 99%, we take inspiration from the Argentinian coalition Ni Una Menos. Violence against women, as they define it, has many facets: it is domestic violence, but also the violence of the market, of debt, of capitalist property relations, and of the state; the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women; the violence of state criminalization of migratory movements; the violence of mass incarceration; and the institutional violence against womens bodies through abortion bans and lack of access to free healthcare and free abortion.

Their perspective informs our determination to oppose the institutional, political, cultural and economic attacks on Muslim and migrant women, on women of color and working and unemployed women, on lesbian, gender nonconforming and trans women.

The womens marches of 21 January have shown that in the United States, too, a new feminist movement may be in the making. It is important not to lose momentum.

Let us join together on 8 March to strike, walk out, march and demonstrate. Let us use the occasion of this international day of action to be done with lean-in feminism and to build in its place a feminism for the 99%, a grassroots, anti-capitalist feminism a feminism in solidarity with working women, their families and their allies throughout the world.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Ex-Trump adviser says phone may have been tapped, without offering proof

14 days ago

Carter Page writes to congressional examiners to describe fear, which he suggests would support Donald Trumps claim Trump Tower was wiretapped

A former foreign policy consultant to Donald Trump has written to congressional examiners claiming, without evidence, that his mobile phone may have been tapped last year.

Carter Page, a businessman, suggests this would support the view that the Trump campaign headquarters at Trump Tower in New York was under surveillance, since he works nearby and was a frequent visitor there.

The president has asserted in a series of tweets that Trump Tower was wiretapped by Barack Obama just before the election but did not explain his basis for the allegation, eventually calling for the House and Senate intelligence committees to investigate.

Page, like Trump, has challenged US policy towards Russia and called for warmer relations between the two countries. He visited Moscow last July and December and has not denied gratifying the Russian ambassador to the US during last Julys Republican convention, where the Trump campaign successfully lobbied to fell anti-Russia language from the party platform.

In a letter addressed to Richard Burr and Mark Warner, chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Page notes media reports that secret court orders were issued last October to allow the FBI to conduct surveillance of US persons in an investigation of possible contacts between Russian banks and the Trump Organization.

Having spoken in favor of some of Mr Trumps policies on other Fox News Group programs during the 2016 campaign as a campaign surrogate and given the peaceful relationship I have had with Russian citizens since my years in the US Navy, it may be understandable why I would be an related political target if such sick activities had indeed been committed as alleged in the previously cited media reports, he writes.

For your datum, I have frequently dined in Trump Grill, had lunch in Trump Caf, had coffee sessions in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, attended events and spend many hours in campaign headquarters on the fifth floor last year. As a sister skyscraper in Manhattan, my office at the IBM Building( 590 Madison Avenue) is literally connected to the Trump Tower building by an atrium.

Page continues: So if prior media reports may be believed that surveillance was indeed undertaken against me and other Trump advocates, it should be essentially deemed as a proved fact that the American people concerns that Trump Tower was under surveillance last year is entirely correct.

He says he keeps his cellphone on at all times except when flying, partly because of a a chronic medical condition that requires permanent access to a particular app.

In what is presumably a reference to the recent publication of documents by WikiLeaks demonstrating the CIA maintains the technical capability to hack customer devices, Page adds: All of this is particularly relevant following recent accusations surrounding surveillance techniques.

The Senate committee will examine Russias interference in the election, which intelligence agencies concluded was carried out to hurt Hillary Clintons campaign, and potential links between Russia and Trumps associates. The panel has asked about a dozen individuals and organisations, including the White House, to conserve relevant materials.

The FBI is also carrying out its own separate investigation. Trump has repeatedly denied any knowledge of improper contacts and the White House has complained about a fake narrative being recycled.

Page, an petroleum and energy industry consultant who has spent significant time in Russia, told the Guardian he would be more than happy to testify to the Senate committee. He admitted that he had no proof that his phone was put under surveillance but denied he was attempting to put up a smokescreen, turning his flame instead on the Clinton campaign.

My phone appears clean to me, he wrote in an email. More to the point and if they were indeed doing a J. Edgar Hoover-style political attack based on my faiths , nothing Ive ever written or said on it could be maybe construed as breaking any U.S. Law … as per the false proof and concocted allegations of the Lying Crooked Hillary campaign.

Over the past year the Trump campaign and administration have issued conflicting statements over its relationship with Page.

Adam Jentleson, senior strategic adviser at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has argued , referring to one of Pages trips to Moscow , the change to the RNC platform and the first batch of DNC emails from WikiLeaks : Two weeks in July 2016 prove why Page could be such an important piece of the puzzle.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Bikers for Trump: ‘He’ll get my election because he’s off his goddamn rocker’

15 days ago

Ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Adam Gabbatt went to the Chop Shop Pub in Seabrook and found out that the locals dont mince words when asked why theyre rooting for The Donald

Theres a guy here whos not like us.

It is Super Bowl night at the Chop Shop Pub, a biker bar in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Bill The Boss Niland is addressing the crowd over a microphone. They call him the Boss because he is the boss of the bar.

He talks funny, Bill continues.

The clientele look at each other, wondering who this interloper could be. Im standing near the front. Im curious too. I look over my shoulder.

His names Adam, Bills says. He is talking about me. He calls up here and says: Do we have any bikers here?

This is true, I did.

Well, do we?

There are cheers and calls of: Yes!

The Boss drawn attention to me. Hes with the Guardian, he says. He has a thick New England accent and it definitely sounds like Gahhhhhdian.

I wave. There are a couple of cheers.

Im at the Chop Shop to mingle with some bikers ahead of Tuesdays primary. New Hampshire has the second most motorcycles per capita of all 50 nations, so I would be remiss not to expend some time with the biker demographic. The bar is a one-story house with a small fish pond in the entryway region. There are nine gnomes all over the pond and several goldfish in the pond. There is also a skull in it.

Outside

Bill Niland outside the Chop Shop Pub in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Photo: Kim Hebert for the Guardian

Introduction over, Bill puts the microphone down. The TV volume is turned up for the Super Bowl. A human with a long greys ponytail leans over.

Any politician who thinks weve got to be disarmed needs to be strung up and killed. Write that.

The humen name is Bobby King. Bobby has an interesting voting history. He usually votes for himself, as a write-in nominee. He is yet to win an election. There was a three-year period where someone else had his election, however.

And I voted for my daughter from when she was 10 to 13.

Bobby, 49, is at the bar with his girlfriend, Cherie. They have been dating for five years, although Bobby says it has been on and off. Cherie is noted in the biking community for her ability to fall asleep on the back of Bobbys motorcycle. It is a large motorcycle, an Ultra Classic.

Its the biggest Harley. Its like a fucking Winnebago. I think its got three bedrooms, two bathrooms, that kind of thing.

This election there is one candidate, Bobby says, who might convince him to extend his referendum beyond his immediate household. That candidate is Donald Trump.

Trump is the only one whos going to have my vote because hes off his goddamn rocker, Bobby says. Hes right, build a goddamn wall. Hes got the right ideas.

A big sandwich arrives and Bobby starts feeing it. I go to buy another drink because bottles of beer are$ 1 each before 6.30 pm and it is currently 6.29 pm. Lady Gaga has just finished singing The Star-Spangled Banner and video games is about to start. Everyone stood up for “the member states national” anthem, facing a US flag on the wall. There is another US flag on the ceiling, and US flag bunting draped along the bar.

Hank

Hank( far left ), Bill( centre left) and friends at the Chop Shop Pub. Photo: Kim Hebert for the Guardian
Things got a little hazy, later on.

I get chatting to a woman wearing a leopard-print scarf and grey leather boots. I ask her what her name is.

Its Cooky, she says. With a Y, because Im not a food.

Cooky, 65, explains her political faith. She likes Trump. She likes Trump because he will create jobs and safeguard our borders, hes gonna have good taxation scheme and hes self funding so nobody can buy him.

The other thing I believe Donald Trump would be good for is the veterans and Ive read up on him and he is very generous and has helped a lot of people.

But he doesnt boasting that about himself, Cooky adds, of a man who has spent the past week boasting about how he has helped veterans.

Cookys husband Paul likes Trump too. Everyone likes Trump here.

He has a big heart and at his age he realizes that were going in the wrong direction, Paul says. Paul is wearing a New England Patriots sweater. He depicts me a picture of his motorcycle, a Harley Electra Glide. Its a big motorcycle.

You press a button and the windshield goes up and down, Cooky says. The Electra Glide also comes equipped with a heated seat and heated handlebar grips. The pair like to blast music out of the Electra Glides speaker system as they ride. They like country music, but also the Cure and Depeche Mode.

We start talking about the Cure but my introduction from the Boss has built me quite popular, and a man called Rick Sargent is hovering. He is another Trump supporter, although he is concerned what might happen should the businessman become president.

If Trump gets in office I candidly think hell be assassinated, Rick says. He doesnt offer a great deal of proof for his theory but he certainly says it with conviction.

Political insiders are frightened shitless of someone like him get in there, Rick says, gravely. And accurately. He says he will vote for Trump in the primary, to send a message that something needs to change.

Its getting towards the end of the second quarter by this time and people have been buying me drinkings for some time. Its getting lively in the Chop Shop.

The Boss comes over and puts a plastic Viking helmet on my head. I have my picture taken with a former marine called Hank , noted for his bushy brown beard. A human called Timothy invites me to come back in the summer for a bar crawl. I construct three new Facebook friends.

I take the Viking hat off but am told only Bill can decide when someone can stop wearing the Viking hat. Theres a shop in the corner of the bar selling Chop Shop merchandise. A woman helps me try on a skull ring, which is far too big for what she describes as my little hands.

Im sitting on a stool, still wearing the Viking helmet, trying to describe the bars interior in handwriting that I will be able to read the next day when a man called Bubba simply Bubba comes over.

Its a really nice place, he says of the Chop Shop. Its like a big family.

Bubba is a Trump supporter: Hes bringing a point of view that isnt common in politics.

Also appealing is the concept that Trump is a businessman, hes not a career politician. Everyone likes that. Bubba says some other things too, but the generosity of the Chop Shop household is beginning to take its toll, and when I look back at my notes it looks like Ive been drawing pictures of a rough ocean.

I go looking for Bill and find him in a back office wearing a top hat. He offers no explain for the top hat. He says he is known for wearing it and I am about to ask why when my phone rings. Its a cab driver I called 20 minutes ago. Hes outside and hes angry that I am nowhere to be seen.

Bill bodyguards me out of the bar and I get in the taxi. Its only then I realise a) I never even asked Bill who he is going to vote for, and b) I didnt say goodbye to any of my new, Trump-supporting biker friends.

Oh, and c) at some phase I managed to shed the Viking hat.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How will educational status affect the US election result?

16 days ago

White voters without a college degree partially make up Trumps support base, while Democrats increasingly rely on non-white voters and people with degrees

The longer an American has stayed in school, the more likely he or she is to register to vote and to cast a ballot on election day.

At one extreme, in the 2012 presidential election just 21.6% of adults who left school before ninth grade voted. At the other, according to statistics from the Census Bureau, 74.7% of adults who had an advanced degree voted. Though the precise numbers may not be known, observers are aware of the link between education and voting its one of the clearest correlations in political behavior research.

Educational

Its generally assumed that an education for those who are able to afford it improves civic engagement: that educated people feel they have a greater stake in society and feel it is worth their time to vote. In terms of shaping outcomes in 2016, though, its not just turnout that matters the way educational status tends to align with party inclination counts too.

Again, the results are pretty clear. The Democratic party is preferred by college graduates, even though as recently as 2002 that was not the case. Thats partly because non-white Americans now make up a larger share of the college population, and those voters are less likely to be Republican.

This election has been dominated by headlines about the non-college educated white Americans who form Republican nominee Donald Trumps support base. In 2012, about 55% of that demographic group showed up to vote, and 60% voted Republican.

Educational
Photograph: Pew Research Center

To understand how those people might affect this election, consider a few different hypothetical scenarios:

1. Non-college educated whites are no less likely to be Republican in 2016 and 100% of them show up to vote which, lets face it, would never happen. According to polling analysis site FiveThirtyEights calculations, Hillary Clinton would still narrowly win, by two percentage points.

2. Non-college educated white people are no more likely to vote, but 98% of those who do vote, vote for Trump which, again, is never going to happen. Trump would win by a landslide of 27%.

3. Now consider a more realistic final hypothesis. Non-college educated white people become a little more Republican and a little more likely to vote lets suggest that turnout rises to 65% from 55% and Republican vote share rises to 70% from 60%. Trump would win the White House with 52% of the national vote.

All of these scenarios, however, assume that nothing else has changed since 2012 that other educational groups like college graduates and other racial groups show up in the same numbers, with the same voting intentions, as they did four years ago. Clearly, that wont be the case. This election has repeatedly shown that no party can afford to rest on its laurels about whom it can count on to vote.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Rise in lip reduction procedures and labiaplasty driven by pursuit of ‘normal’

17 days ago

White European beauty ideal partly motivates women to seek out procedures, experts said, as breast augmentation is still the most popular cosmetic surgery

Lip reduction procedures in the US have increased dramatically, according to figures released today from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Last year, there were 3,547 lip reduction surgeries, representing a 283% increase from 2015.

The procedure is much more popular among African-American and Hispanic women according to Debra Johnson, a practicing plastic surgeon and president of the ASPS. Some people have overly endowed lips, Johnson explained, so lip reduction is a way to bring them into a more normal range (the irreversible procedure can be carried out for less than $1,000).

However, there is no objective definition of normal lip size, so individuals use social cues to decide whether to get surgery. As Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University explains: The standard of beauty and acceptability in America is a white standard.

Dr Germaine Awad would agree. The professor of educational psychology at the University of Technology has written about how female African American college students define beauty. When asked why lip reduction has become so popular, Awad said: The only thing that I can think would be a possible reason for this is the notion of striving toward a white European beauty ideal.

But its ironic, Awad added, because lots of other women are increasing the size of their lips. There were 28,430 lip augmentation procedures last year according to ASPS numbers.

After lip reduction, labiaplasty (cosmetic surgery which reduces the outer lips of the vulva) had the second highest year-on-year growth. A total of 12,666 labiaplasty procedures were carried out in 2016, a 39% increase on the previous year. That trend, too, is partly driven by societal depictions of normal.

What does a normal vulva look like?

Though lip reductions have increased far more than any other cosmetic procedure, they are nowhere near as common as other procedures. For every lip reduction carried out in 2016, there were 82 breast augmentation surgeries. Other reasons for going under the knife include liposuction (235,237 procedures in 2016) and nose reshaping (223,018 surgeries).

Boobs up, butts down – breast augmentations rose 4% in 2016 while buttock lifts declined by 11%.
Boobs up, butts down – breast augmentations rose 4% in 2016 while buttock lifts declined by 11%.

But even higher are non-surgical procedures which have been steadily increasing for years. In 2016, there over 7m Botulinum Toxin procedures in the US (commonly referred to by the brand name Botox). In 2000, that number was 786,911. Small amounts of this acutely lethal toxin are often administered to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Stripparaoke: the new nightlife tendency that combines- yes- stripping and karaoke

20 days ago

You can tell theres something a little different about Devils Point Strip Club in Portland, Oregon from the get-go.

Buzzy, horned neon signs beckon in guests with satanic, come-hither appeal. A various kinds of subterranean rocknroll vibe pervades everything from artwork selections to the shadowy red-bulb lighting. Among performers, there are more facial penetrates than not. It feels refreshingly authentic; Ive logged a significant number of hours in exotic dancing joints, but Devils Point is the first where Ive heard Nina Simone crooning as I strolled in the door.

An elevated level of convenience is especially important here, where Sunday nights are home to the weeks most popular event: stripparaoke.

This titillating portmanteau experience is exactly what it sounds like, blending two heavy-drinking, wee-hours-of-the-morning amusement favourites into one massive demonstrate.

Dancer

Dancer Toxic tries on one of the masks she sometimes wears during performances. Photo: Leah Nash for the Guardian

Shon Boulden, co-owner of Devils Point, sports a thick blue knit beanie, a full beard and a genial nature. He looks like a poster boy for Oregonians.

We started stripparaoke back in about 2005. We were basically only having a regular slow Sunday night. Since we had only three or four girls running, we decided to do karaoke. We originally called it Karaoke Sabbath. Eventually we just took both terms, crammed them together, and it became stripparaoke. It ran from our slowest night of the week to our busiest night of the week in three or four years.

Each Sunday, the club fills up with songbirds itching to show off their sing chops as a dancer twerks, twiddle and glides up and down the pole. Unlike many strip clubs, which have a dancing corral in the center of the space carved out for performances, Devils Point is set up like a live music venue. The stage is suspended by giant, faux-chain-link ropes, and those singing stand in a designated backstage place as a dancer get down upstage.

Its a symbiotic relationship when you go up there, theres an energy exchange that happens, said Vincent, a dancer who has been working stripparaoke night for only over a year. Runway-model height with cascading, pitch black hair, Vincent puts on some of the most alluring and elegant performances. Typically youre doing your own thing. Its so different when another person is up there. A plenty of people are receptive to being goofed around with. Then there are others who are hardcore, who feel like: Im singing, dont distract me! Karaoke people get truly passionate about it.

The

The impetus towards being both body-positive and sex-positive was assuredly at the forefront of the event. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

The combined performance quickly becomes more theatrical and burlesque-like than any run-of-the-mill strip club reveal, with a huge bin of backstage props at dancers disposal.

Toxic, a karaoke enthusiast who has been dancing at stripparoke for a few months, agrees that the intersection between professional dancer and amateur performer always gets the crowd running. I did choir most of my life, so Ive always been really musical. If person forgets the words, Ill step in and assist, and well make it a duet. The mob that comes in here, they want to have fun, she giggles, platinum blonde hair shimmying over a Clueless T-shirt thats been shredded and scissored to look more punk. Its actually kind of nice not to have to be the sole center of attention. When you interact with the singers, people get excited.

Devils Point has become the mothership for stripparaoke nationally, as the concept has picked steam in cities from San Diego to New Orleans.

Ive find other stripparaokes pop up around, but its really cool that were the original. We filed for the federal trademark on the name stripparaoke and got it about a year ago. I havent is sending out any cease and desists, because I dont think a club doing stripparaoke in Arkansas is going to impact us, genuinely, Shon chuckles. We are interested in franchising it in some way, though.

Started

Started in 2005, it has become their most popular evening with the dancers utilizing props and interacting with the singers. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

In New Orleans last autumn, a stripparaoke-like event resulted for the first time during a citywide arts festival, billing itself as ScumBash: Live Band Stripper-oke. Coordinated by a pair of well-known bartenders, the late-night reveal proved to be markedly different than a typical night in Portland, with two dancers set up go-go style like booty-shaking Doric columns on either side of a vocalist as guitars shredded in the background.

We want to have a really good diversity of shapes and sizings and race and gender, Mark Schettler, a ScumBash co-organizer, told me in the days leading up to the event. Having that balance is really important to us.

The impetus towards being both body-positive and sex-positive was assuredly at the forefront of the event, with a wide swath of pasty-, wig- and thong-donning men and women strutting their stuff in tandem as aspiring rockers let loose on Come Together by the Beatles and Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

While it remains to be seen if ScumBash will return for another year, every Sunday at Devils Point seems to be stronger than the one before. The event is, curiously, particularly popular with Canadians, who make up 30 -4 0% of the crowd on any dedicated night.

The KJ there are currently bringing in a lot of top 40 makes, so people are actually singing the Weeknd and Drake, said Sean. I like to see the old-school stuff, like the theme to Ghostbusters.

Weird

Weird isnt merely encouraged its celebrated. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

Proper song selection is even more imperative at stripparaoke than during a typical karaoke set; one incorrect move and a dancer could be left trying to make a gut-wrenching rendition of Unbreak My Heart at least somewhat appealing.

Sometimes people pick ballads and they dont think about someone having to perform to it. We get Disney sungs sometimes. During Christmastime, I had to strip to person singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and I was like, oh God, so many weird memories are being made to this song right now! Vincent giggles.

In a situation where weird isnt only encouraged its celebrated people can still surprise.

Every year now we do a stripparaoke tournament, and the win last year was dressed up as Meatloaf, Shon recollects. He sang I Would Do Anything for Love and one of the girls put on a chefs attire and pretended to cook him. It was amazing.

Stripparaoke is, at its core, performance art.

Im from Kansas and I started dancing there, and strippers there do not do pole tricks and all the crazy acrobatic shit that we do here, Brodie chuckles. Clocking in now for five and a half years, she has become something of a stripparaoke expert and a mentor for newcomers. While Brodie is modest when discussing her own abilities, her performance is akin to a three-ring circus of contortionist bendings, high-wire balancing and barbell-lifting strength. Im really nerdy and I was into theater in high school, so Sunday nights are a lot of fun for me.

Indeed, afterward into the night, a woman climbed onstage to sing the crowd-pleasing classic Africa by Toto. Never missing a beat, Brodie crawled on stage on her hands and knees wearing a giraffe mask.

Karaoke is fun and great, but to add performances in with it and particularly in Oregon where we have more strip clubs per capita than anywhere in the US the naked girls, the debauchery it attains it that much better, Sean muses.

While I have yet to ascend the stage and try my hand at stripparaoke glory, I can only hope than when the time comes for me to belt out my go-to song( Convoy by CW McCall) either Brodie, Toxic or Vincent will be on hand to play along by my side as a burlesque truck driver, calling out orders over a CB radio as she gale her style down the pole.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Flint’s water crisis: what went wrong

23 days ago

After the water supply was found to contain high levels of lead, proof is mounting that officials ignored or neglected indicators of a growing crisis

Lee and Ernie Perez knew something was amiss when their three cats started throwing up after drinking water.

In 2014, the longtime residents of Flint, Michigan, were dealing with the same situations that had consumed most of the town. The problems began in April that year, after the city switched its water source and started pulling water from a local river as a cost-saving measure. Almost immediately, residents levied complaining about the smelly, discolored and disgusting fluid that was now flowing into their households.

So the Perezes shut off their taps. They started buying bottled water to cook, drink and bathe. Their three cats, along with a feral feline who lived outside, switched over, too.

They all get bottled water, Lee Perez said.

More than a year later, the Rust Belt city of 100,000 is still reeling from the effects of a water supply that was observed last fall to have been poisoned with extremely high levels of lead. Just this week, officials reported that they witnessed a spike in Legionnaires disease a severe form of pneumonia after Flint began utilizing the water from the Flint river that proved problematic. While causation is still unknown, scientists analyzing the water problem predicted a spike in the disease.

And the evidence is mounting that federal, nation and local officials dismissed or neglected indicators of a growing water crisis.

As early as October 2014, there were problematic signs. A local General Motors engine plant stopped employing water from the Flint river because parts were becoming rusted, but officials however continued to reassure residents the water was safe to drink a decision deemed unconscionable by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton this week.

Tests also uncovered elevated levels of chemical compounds in the water supply that can lead to liver or kidney issues. Nonetheless, officials downplayed residents fears, saying confidently that the water was safe to drink.

In February, arising as a result of independent examines began to trickle out. One from a coalition that included residents, Virginia Tech researchers, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan indicated the highly corrosive Flint river was leaching lead off water pipes before flowing into households across the city of 100,000; another, from a local pediatrician, depicted an increase in Flint children with elevated levels of lead.

Officials vehemently disputed the research until, in October, governor Rick Snyder admitted the situation was far graver than he initially understood and announced a $12 m plan to transfer Flint back to its previous furnish with the towns of Detroit.

Snyder also appointed a task force to analyse what caused the crisis. Last month, different groups released a scathing report that placed blame principally on the states environmental department from failing to properly treat the Flint river to officials belittling responses to public outcry. The federal government is also investigating what happened.

Flint

Flint resident Andrew Watson falls to the floor in tears and a resident holds a jug of contaminated water as Flint police stand guard at the city council chamber doorways. Photo: Jake May/ AP

In the meantime, residents are left are seeking to cope with the gravity of a manmade public health debacle. And they want answers.

Well, he shouldve done it a long time ago, resident Barbara Cowan said of Snyders response, while she was picking up a occurrence of water on Thursday that is now being distributed by the National Guard and the Red Cross.

He ignored it, she continued. Hes[ choice] to ignore it, because he didnt live in Flint.

Completely unacceptable

On Thursday, the Perezes joined a apparently never-ending stream of residents that flowed into the citys no . 5 firehouse, where Red Cross volunteers have been handing out cases of bottled water to anyone in need. The water resource centre, one of five currently operating in the city, has been busy: The previous day, Red Cross personnels at the site handed out virtually 700 cases of water, said volunteer Peggy Zuehlk.

But even with clean water to drink, the Perezes still had additional concerns.

The cats dont puking anymore, but the couple says they still dont feel comfortable showering in whatevers coming through their pipes.

The itch, its just unbelievable, Ernie Perez, 73, said of the effects the water has on his body. Its not an itch like you got a little mosquito bite or something.

Lee jumped in: Its like a hot prickling needle thats all over your body. And as seniors, we cant take that. Adding to their exasperation is the hefty cost for unusable tap water in Flint, which has some of the highest water rates in the country.

We flush our lavatory, said Lee Perez, and we pay $109 a month.

Snyder ordered the National Guard on Tuesday to assist the nation at the water resource sites established across Flint, where residents say they are still struggling to grapple with current realities that lead-contaminated water flowed into their households for months.

The state has also requested additional assistance from the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Late Thursday, Snyder asked Barack Obama to declare the area surrounding Flint in a state of emergency to expedite the response to the growing water contamination problem.

Low exposure to lead, a powerful neurotoxin, can produce long-term health effects, particularly in young children in the form of behavioral problems or lower IQ. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Whats now known is that nation environmental officials improperly applied federal regulations to ensure water is treated properly. The governor-appointed task force said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality( MDEQ) department bears primary responsibility for what happened in Flint.

That task force found that water from the corrosive Flint river leached lead off household tubes and flowed into the system because Flint hadnt been required by the state environmental body to use corrosion control to treat the water. The report also found that the tone and substance of the state environmental divisions public statements were completely unacceptable, the report said.

Its unconscionable what happened, Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, who helped lead a squad that tested water samples of virtually 300 homes in the city, told the Guardian last autumn of the states decision to not require Flint to use corrosion control to treat the river. Edwards also predicted, based on our prior research there would be higher levels of Legionella, due to the lack of corrosion control.

Between June 2014 and November 2015, there were 87 occurrences in Genesee County, where Flint is situated, of which 10 resulted in death, according to the state, although it is not yet known whether the disease is linked to the water.

In early July, in response to the release of an internal Environmental Protection Agency memo raising very concerned about Flints water source, state officials downplayed concerns.

Let me start here anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax, spokesman Brad Wurfel said at the time .

Later that month, Snyders then-chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, wrote an email saying Flint residents arent get the benefit of the doubt over water issues.

Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level examines they are receiving from( MDEQ) samples, Muchmore said in the email obtained by Edwards. These folks are frightened and worried about the health the effects and they are basically get blown off by us( as a nation was about to not sympathizing with their predicament ).

Red

Red Cross volunteers have been handing out cases of bottled water to anyone in need. Photo: Rebecca Cook/ Reuters

Officials responded to Muchmore by saying theres nothing to worry about in Flint. Snyders spokespeople have said Muchmores statements reflect how the governors administration was engaged with the community.

But MDEQ should have had a more accurate assessment of the situation, according to the auditor generals report released in December. The report noted that MDEQ officials were aware in March 2015 that Flints lead water level were already above enforcement action thresholds set by the EPA.

Observers have also pointed their finger at the EPA for its handled with the situation.

Henry Henderson, midwest director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA has authority for the purposes of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to take emergency actions in crises like in Flint.

Its become painfully obvious that every level of government, including but not limited to the EPA havent felt no importance about this matter at all, Henderson said, have been shockingly lackadaisical,[ and] have constructed inappropriate statements in public in terms of the safety of the situation, which is now being wildly unsafe.

The EPAs regional administrator told the Detroit News this week that federal officials chose to implore the MDEQ to respond to the situation, rather than take action itself, despite knowing for months that Flint wasnt properly use corrosion control to treat its water.

Henderson said the administrator, Susan Hedman, could be disingenuous or simply remarkably ignorant about her responsibilities and her power to affect those responsibilities. Federal law approves EPA administrators to take action to deal with issues like the Flint water crisis, he said.

In an email obtained by the Guardian, dated 20 August, from EPA program manager Jennifer Crooks to three MDEQ officials, she asked for a transcript of a letter sent to Flint notifying the city of high result levels.

Flint has sure get a lot of attention over the past year; Im going to stay positive, Crooks wrote. And say that I hope this all dies down once they connect to the Karegnondi pipeline( in 2016 ).

A quest for cheaper water

The water problems stemmed from a decision to use the Flint river as a more affordable water supply. The policy was aimed at easing the financial uncertainty looming over the city, where more than 40% of the predominantly black population lives below the poverty line. Flint has been throttled for decades by a depleted taxation base as manufacturing chores moved elsewhere a problem compounded by a subsequent spike in violence that has routinely placed the community high on the listing of violent US cities.

But it is the citys lead-tainted water disaster that has left residents and activists asking questions about how this could have happened.

The governors office declined to answer questions about what role it played in the decision-making process that led to Flint use the local river as its main water source, but what is clear is that the lead-contamination crisis took place while the city was under the control of Snyder-appointed emergency managers.

In late 2011, as Flints finances continued to worsen, Snyder appointed an emergency fiscal director with vast powers to oversee the citys finances and efficiently rendered local elected officials powerless. In the intervening months, state and city officials began discussing the most affordable water alternative for Flint.

By March 2013, it was decided Flint would join a new water system and leave Detroit, with the hope of obtaining more affordable rates for residents. Though Flint was still for the purposes of the control of situations of emergency manager, that month city council members overwhelmingly approved a resolution to join a new regional water system in 2016.

But there was a problem: the Detroit water system, realizing Flint was set to leave, increased the citys rates and gave it a one-year notification to renegotiate a short-term contract until 2016, or find a different water supply. Without Detroit, Flint would need a temporary water source until the new regional system came online.

Governor

Governor Rick Snyder speaks during a news conference in Flint about the water crisis. Photo: Jake May/ AP

As late as February 2014, possibilities for Flint to use Detroits system in the interim was still on the table. The following month, however, then-Flint emergency administrator, Darnell Earley, wrote a letter to Detroit water officials obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which broke the story of Flints lead water crisis saying he expects that the Flint Water Treatment Plant will be fully operational and capable of treating Flint River.

In that case, there will be no need for Flint to continue purchase water to serve its residents and business after April 17, 2014, wrote Earley, whos now the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools.

Hes trying to save face

On Thursday, outside a water resource centre near downtown Flint, Larry Ross said elected officials from the top down carry responsibility.

I believe that the governor, the country, and the powers that be, I think itd be safe to say there was a cover-up. I think they were trying to take the cheapest way out as far as restoring this water condition, Ross said. If it wasnt for “the member states national” exposure, I think they wouldve left things the style they are.

A line snaked out the door and continued to grow as residents tried to stay warm in frigid January temperatures. Motorists double-parked their vehicles throughout the firehouses lot, leaving little room to navigate. Observing nearby, Flints fire chief, David Cox Jr, said the chaotic scene illustrated the plight of the city.

Anytime that truck is delivering its going to get crazy out here, said David Cox Jr, the citys fire chief. And this to be one station; its like this everywhere at all fire stations.

Residents say theyre grateful to see the influx of supplies and assistance. But Lee-Anne Walters, the Flint mother who first reached out to EPA officials in early 2015 with concerns about her tap water, said Snyders response still leaves much to be desired.

Last year, Walters son, Gavin, was diagnosed with lead poisoning and has since developed speech impediments, she said. When Edwards, the Virginia Tech researcher tested her water, the results were astounding: one test returned a outcome that Walters water was filled with 13,200 proportions per billion( ppb) of result, substantially higher than levels deemed safe by the EPA.( At 5,000 ppb, water is considered hazardous waste .)

I still feel like hes trying to save face to save his career rather than try to save the person or persons, Walters said of Snyders response to the crisis.

The announcement this week that city officials will begin shutting off water to residents with unpaid bills is very likely cause additional growl, amid the ongoing controversy.

But the chief fear for now remains obtaining clean water.

While Ross and others waited their turn to pick up a jug and instance of water, a volunteer emerged from the door and wailed: Everybody listen up, for the first time we have water testing kits everybody should be walking out of here with a water testing kit, even if you just came for water.

As more residents started filling inside, the volunteer tried to offer a silver-lining: At least its not snowy today.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Chosen Wars review: examine of American Jews uncovers familiar schisms

23 days ago

Steven Weisman determines contention and dispute at every stage of Jewish American history including modern-day politics

On election day 2016, Hillary Clinton won more than 70% of the Jewish election. But that number tells only part of a narrative. In some predominately Orthodox Jewish precincts, Donald Trump’s numbers were straight out of the rust belt or the deep south.

As in the rest of the electorate, religious commitment and educational attainment shaped how Jews voted. In the overwhelmingly religion Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Trump took 68% of the vote. In New Jersey’s Lakewood Township, he won with a 50 -point margin. By contrast, the island of Manhattan was a sea of Democratic blue.

The political cleavages that mark the broader American scenery existing between America’s Jews. Just as Jews were to be found on both sides of slavery, secession and the civil war, they are again combatants in a political skirmish. Think of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.

Welcome to The Chosen Wars, a narrative of the Jewish journey in the different regions of the American scenery. Steven Weisman, who covered politics and economics at the New York Times for a one-quarter of a century, marshals an impressive array of facts to argue that the competing tugs of separatism and assimilation have been present ever since Jews landed in the New world in the 17 th century, that even among the devout the broader culture affected religious practice, and that Jewish communal participation has ebbed and flowed with time.

As Weisman frames things,” Jewish belief in the Jewish people’s own unique identity … has been so strong that it remains a foundation of Jewish life in the United States .” He also acknowledges that identity” has always been and is very likely be one of contention and dispute “. Things are alloyed.

The book chronicles how the constitution’s establishment clause led to the laity’s domination within the synagogue. Most notably for Weisman, a schism within a Charleston shul triggered a landmark lawsuit and decision. Unlike Europe, the civil authorities would not pick sides even when asked. Ultimately, a South Carolina appellate court ruled in 1846 that the judiciary must avoid” questions of theological dogma, depending on speculative religion, or ecclesiastical rites “.

In other words, they would let the Jews duke it out among themselves.

At hours they actually did. Weisman describes an actual riot that have broken out on Rosh Hashanah 1850 in Albany, New York, over the nature of the Messiah. The police were called and the congregation scattered, but not before the synagogue chairwoman taunted the rabbi, Isaac Wise, saying:” I have $100,000 more than you .” Yet it was Wise’s rejection of a personal and national Messiah that shaped Reform Judaism. It represented a break from 2,000 years of tradition.

The book also examines how Darwin and criticism impacted attitudes toward the Bible, divine authorship taking a make. Emil Hirsch, a Reform Rabbi and professor at the University of Chicago, declared:” Modern scholarship has spoken, and its voice cannot be hushed .”

To put things in context, even those more traditionally minded were forced to respond or adjust to science.

On the one hand, within the Hasidic movement the dominant mantra remains:” If you are still troubled by the theory of evolution, I can tell you without anxiety of contradiction that it has not a shred of evidence to subsistence it .”

On the other, within Orthodoxy’s more modern circles there was a retreat from taking the creation narrative and Genesis’s timeline literally. A “day” came to be read as eons, and the Divine Hand could be found guiding the Descent of Man.

Said differently, distinctions are now being drawn between the ” historical credibility of biblical narrative “ and its ” theological truths “.

Donald
Donald Trump receives a gift at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters

Weisman dedicates Orthodoxy its due as a force to be reckoned with. From Long Island’s Five Towns to the Upper East Side, and in the Young Israel of New Rochelle and Scarsdale, the denomination is no longer acting like a poor relation.

The Chosen Wars occasionally loses sight of relevant skirmishes within American Protestantism. Weisman does a deep diving on the battle waged from the pulpit on bondage and secession but constructs no reference to its antecedents. In a sense, 19 th-century Jews arrived late to that party.

In 1700 Samuel Sewall, a Massachusetts businessman and magistrate, penned The Selling of Joseph, which served as a theological rebuttal to the contention that blacks were inferior in the eyes of God, and that their plight as slaves was preordained as the purported descendants of Ham and Canaan, Noah’s cursed son and grandson.

Sewall, a magistrate during the Salem witchcraft trials, contended that” Joseph was rightfully no more a Slave to his Brethren, than they were to him: and they had no more Authority to Sell him, than they had to Slay him “. Against that backdrop, the” Curse of Ham“, invoked in a New York synagogue in the run-up to the civil war, sounds like a recapitulation of an earlier argument posited by slavery-sympathetic southern clergy.

Weisman is optimistic about the future of American Jewry. But if the Puritan ultimately succumbed to the temptations of the figuratively precluding forest, there is no reason to presume Jews will be much different. After all, Jewish immigration to America was about fleeing from the Old World and living the American Dream , not founding a City on a Hill.

Looking at America’s religion scenery, “nones” are now the single most important subgroup among millennials. Among America’s Jews, the narrative is not much different. Three in 10 reject denominational identity. Outside the Orthodox community, the Jewish birthrate is below “the member states national” median. American Jewry will probably endure, but its demographics stand to be different: from the looks of things, more religious but less educated, affluent and influential.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Suspects in New Mexico child abuse raid ‘had supernatural beliefs’

24 days ago

Family member says the five adults apprehended leave behind the children in November after believing they were in need of an exorcism

The estranged household of 11 malnourished children rescued from a squalid New Mexico compound have called the discovery of the children’s conditions” heartbreaking, sad and embarrassing for the rest of the family “.

The children, ranging in age from one to 15, were discovered last week in a raid of a partially underground rural New Mexico compound and turned over to nation child welfare workers.” They were skinnies, their ribs demonstrated, they were in very poor hygiene and very scared ,” Taos county Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told ABC News Radio .

Five adults, who were all either parents or aunts and uncles to the children, were initially arrested in the raid, and all five have been charged with 11 countings of child abuse. The two men apprehended, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Lucan Morton, face additional charges related to child abduction and harboring a fugitive.

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A file photo released by the Taos county sheriff’s office on 3 August indicates an aerial view of a rural compound in Amalia, New Mexico. Photo: AP

An immediate family member of the children, who did not want to be identified by name, told the Guardian that the five adults absconded with them from the Atlanta area in November after developing fringe supernatural beliefs and becoming isolated from family and friends.” I feel like it constructed them lose their intellects and that’s why they left ,” the family member said.

The raid was prompted by a months-long search for a now four-year-old child, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who went missing in Atlanta, Georgia, in November. According to social media posts by the boy’s mother, his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, disappeared with the child after saying he was taking him to the park.

In a tearful Facebook Live video in January, Hakima Ramzi pleaded for the return of her son, who she said had physical and psychological disabilities.

According to the family member who spoke with the Guardian, these health difficulties pushed the faction of the family to skip town – believing that the son was being possessed by jinns, or evil spirits, and in need of an exorcism ritual.

Abdul-Ghani was not among the 11 children found at the compound, but authorities said they” reasonably believe” he was there as recently as a few weeks ago.

The family member said at this point the family is focused on the search for Abdul-Ghani, which continues, and holds out hope that he will be found.

I am” definitely trying[ my] best to stay confident and optimistic that we will find him”, the member said.” I have to , not just for him, but for his mother as well. It’s really hard to see her through these months and see how much pain she’s in. She wants her son back .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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