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Social Justice Discussions For The 21st Century

Seattle To Make Companies Pay "head Tax" To Help With Homeless Problem


      I do not live in Seattle, but in the next county North. I am posting this story as a discussion starter only. We have some very wealthy companies in Seattle, as I am sure many of you know. This has caused a rapid rate of growth in real estate, which has pushed low income people out of their homes. They can't afford to live in the City any longer.

      Many people are living in their cars that work at low paying jobs. At the same time, the opioid crises has grown worse since the war in Afghanistan and heroin has become much cheaper. It is cheaper than pot. There are homeless drug addicts, as well as alcoholics, not to mention the mentally ill, living on the streets and the woods.

      What does our society do with them? Is it the responsibility of the richer corporations to help pay for the problem? What do you think?


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      Religious Violence: Where Countries Are Tinderboxes And Facebook Is A Match


          Just how prevalent is religion-based violence in the modern world? And how easy is it to stir it up with no real grounds? And how much should Facebook be held accountable for any of this? A disturbing news story addresses these questions:


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          Opinion | When Is A Church Not A Church?


              This is now technically out-of-date, since I dallied beyond income tax day to post it, but it is in fact still quite timely. Should churches/mosques/temples get special treatment, better than non-religious non-profits, say? Do they? "No" to the first; "yes" to the second. Katherine Stewart explains (and, BTW, this is exactly why American Atheists has led the way on this issue)--


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              Arab Social Experiment Draws Unexpected Result


                  An Arab did not believe that wearing a yarmulke (Jewish skull cap) in Germany could cause a violent response as some of his friends had suggested it would -- so he put one on and walked in Berlin.

                  He was soon verbally attacked and physically beaten with a belt by other Arabs who mistook him for a Jew.

                  Due to his viral on-line post of the video, the attacker has apparently surrendered.

                  Reminds me that in France the government has asked Jews to hide their identity in public in order to avoid physical attack by other civilians.

                  Europe sucks for Jews.


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                  Pope Francis Declares ‘There Is No Hell’ - Vatican Disagrees


                      Oh my goodness! We can't allow this to happen. I mean think about it, that would be the end of Christianity and a host of other religions too.

                      But think for a moment...

                      What would happen if the Pope wasn't corrected and it was announced, "there is no hell"? Would the world go into a flux of demise? Would murders increase? Theft be a huge problem? Would religious literature disappear and humans go into a frenzy of sin? Severe riots all over the world would happen?

                      Or would the world call it fake news and shun it? Or would it be the world leaders that step up to the plate and denounce the Pope and the Vatican?


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                      Op-Ed: Colleges Recruit At Richer, Whiter High Schools


                          The information offered in this opinion piece will probably come as no surprise to most of us; but a recent study points up how prevalent divisiveness, based on income and race, permeates our higher educational system even though colleges within that system insist that they are pushing for inclusivity.

                          It is also important to note, that much of the recruitment in high income areas is a result of States' policies.

                          What researchers Ozan Jaquette and Karina Salazar found, was that if a public high school was in a more affluent neighborhood, they'd receive more recruitment visits than if they were in a less affluent area.

                          I am offering a few excerpts from the Op-Ed, since printing some of the methodology, and graphs, illustrations and tables, do not come through, but the entire article, while long, is well worth a read, especially for those who are keen on equality in education.

                          I believe, that if we here in the USA are truly looking to educate our people, we should be changing the way we recruit students for our colleges. Education should not be under the auspices of "big business.

                          A recruiter for the University of Alabama speaks to prospective students at a college fair run by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island. Michael Nagle for The New York Times

                          The Researchers: Ozan Jaquette is an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Karina Salazar is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.

                          The clearest finding from our study is that public high schools in more affluent neighborhoods receive more visits than those in less affluent areas.

                          The attention public universities lavish on wealthy out-of-state schools is a response to state policy. Over the past decade, many states have cut funding for higher education, forcing public universities to become more dependent on tuition revenue. Research shows that public universities responded by enrolling more out-of-state students, who often pay two to three times more than state residents. And of course, only well-off students can afford that.

                          Some people argue that poor students and students of color are less likely to attend college because they have lower grades or standardized test scores. But we found that colleges and universities tended to avoid visiting schools in poor areas even when those schools had a large number of students who had performed well on tests.

                          Knowing which high schools receive recruiting visits is important because debates about access to higher education often focus on students’ abilities but ignore how colleges identify and prioritize prospects.

                          Colleges don’t treat recruitment lightly. It’s big business for colleges and the firms they hire.

                          A study by Meagan Holland at the University at Buffalo found recruitment visits aren’t merely an indicator of each college’s priorities; they also influence where students — and particularly first-generation students — apply and enroll. The study found that many smart kids from less affluent backgrounds are sensitive to “feeling wanted,” often attending colleges that took the time to visit.

                          The most common explanation [for inadequate diversity]is that there aren’t enough of them applying (the so-called achievement gap). Another explanation we hear is that talented students don’t apply because they don’t have the right guidance (called “under-matching”). These explanations assume that doubling the number of high-achieving students who apply would automatically double enrollment. But this treats universities as though they are passively receiving applications, when they are actually actively seeking and encouraging certain applicants over others.

                          Our data suggests universities are determined to court wealthier students over others, and they expend substantial resources identifying and reaching them.

                          There are many students from poor communities who get excellent grades but end up going to a community college because no one bothers looking for them. If colleges are serious about increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity, they should look for merit everywhere, not just in wealthy, white communities.

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                          Pundit Post

                          14 Year Black Kid Shot At For Asking Directions.


                              “The 14-year-old was walking to high school after sleeping late and missing the bus when he decided to ask a neighbor for directions.“

                              “The woman who opened the door after Brennan Walker, who is black, knocked on it started yelling at him. Then the woman’s husband grabbed a shotgun and fired it at him, Walker and police officials said.

                              “Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said in a statement that he was “personally sickened by the initial reports and they suggest behavior completely unacceptable and inconsistent with the character and values of our community.”


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                              Pundit Post

                              American Atheists Has Dismissed David Silverman


                                  American Atheists has announced that they have dismissed David Silverman from his position as President of the organization. As a strong supporter of American Atheists, a former President, a former board member, and a longtime fan of and friend of David Silverman--but one with no responsibility or inside information on this case--I want to make some comments:

                                  1. David Silverman will, I hope, remain my friend. He unquestionably has done a great deal for American Atheists and for atheists more broadly. His creative marketing and positioning efforts, his ability to organize things like the Reason Rally and a number of highly successful conventions, are unparalleled and have been immensely valuable.

                                  2. I do not know everyone on the Board of Directors or on the staff of American Atheists these days--but I know most of them. The ones I know are, without exception, people of integrity, honesty, decency, and deep knowledge. They include people who know and understand the crucial role of due process, of law and organizational responsibility, and of accountability. They include at least one person with detailed knowledge and experience of gathering and evaluating evidence, in criminal and civil matters, and they would never make decisions that endanger or injure American Atheists.

                                  3. The staff members I know--people like Pamela Whissel and Nick Fish--work extremely hard for something less than professional salaries and are truly dedicated to the organization and the cause.

                                  4. I have complete confidence in the Board in general but more specifically in the leadership of Neal Cary as chair and Kathleen Duncan Johnson as VP, and I have no doubt whatever that the decision the Board made was the best one for American Atheists and for all its members, as well as for Americans who care about atheism or church/state separation.

                                  The organization deserves your support if you are an irreligious American--and your application for the job of President if you're a dynamic, honest, organized, creative atheist.

                                  --Ed Buckner

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