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Library Allows Young Readers to Work Off Late Fees By Reading More

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Adorable little boy, sitting in a book store, looking at books

In today’s technology-obsessed world, getting kids to read more actual books is certainly a worthy goal. Libraries in Los Angeles are trying a new program to ensure young readers log more hours devouring books.




Los Angeles County is working with local schools to ensure that all students are signed up for library cards. Additionally, they are eliminating late fees for readers younger than 21 years old. As a book-obsessed kid who often racked up my fair share of library late fees, this is a perk I definitely could have used!

The new rules go into effect immediately, but is not retroactive for those who had past fines. But, the county is offering a smart solution for those children, too. They will now be able to pay off their balances by simply reading more!

View image on Twitter

 




They’re letting kids eliminate $5 of fees for every hour of reading they do at the library. “You tell them you’ll read and they’ll sign you in and you start,” Leilany Medina, a fifth-grader at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary in East L.A., explained to the Los Angeles Times. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.” Medina is so invested in her reading habit that she hopes to become a librarian herself one day.

Administrators hope that the policy will encourage kids to use the library more, and in turn, read more. “When charges accrue on a young person’s account, generally, they don’t pay the charges and they don’t use the card,” Darcy Hastings, the L.A. County’s assistant library administrator for youth services, said. “A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services.”

kids reading books photo
Flickr | PersonalCreations.com

So far, the policy seems to be having the intended effect. According to Aleah Jurnecka, children’s librarian at East L.A. Library, at least 100 students a week opt to read off their debt. She says the policy is also appreciated by parents.

What a great idea! Hopefully other library systems will follow suit.

Article originally appeared in Simply Most 

Oregonians Are Going Nuts Over Pumping Their Own Gas

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A new gas pumping law passed in June of 2017 is now causing a shakeup on social media. The law, which allows people in towns of under 40,0000 to pump their own gas, is inspiring rage, confusion, and quite a bit of trolling from people in other states. Here’s a selection of the best reactions to the law, all inspired by a poll from a Medford Oregon CBS station. We’re not sure which we enjoy more, the hissy fits or the trolls.

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Study: Average American Breaks 3 Laws A Day

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“Outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention.”
If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.




An article in the Economist (July 22, 2010) entitled “Too many laws, too many prisoners” states,

Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan.

By contrast, in 1970, less than one in 400 Americans was incarcerated. Why has the prison population more than quadrupled over a few decades? Why are you, as an average person and daily felon, more vulnerable to arrest than at any other time?

There is a simple answer but no single explanation as to how the situation arose or why it continues to accelerate out of control. The answer: a constant flood of new and broadly interpreted laws are criminalizing entire categories of daily life while, at the same time, the standards required for arrest and conviction have been severely diluted. The result is that far too many people are arrested and imprisoned for acts that should not be viewed as criminal at all or should receive minimal punishment.

In some cases, the violated laws are so obscure, vague, or complicated in language that even the police are ignorant of them. In other cases, outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention.




Some Sample Cases
(Note: the following examples are selected to illustrate the wide range of criminalization that is occurring and so their circumstances differ significantly from each other. Nevertheless, they share certain factors: the criminalization of harmless, trivial acts; the enforcement of unreasonable rules; the severity with which any noncompliance is punished; the indifference to the human devastation wrought by law.)

In 2005, while a passenger in his family car, Anthony W. Florence was mistakenly arrested for a bench warrant on traffic tickets he had already satisfied; the proof of payment he carried was to no avail. During seven days in jail, Florence was strip-searched twice, even though the guards admitted they had no reasonable suspicion of contraband. He was otherwise deprived of rights; for example, guards watched him shower and forced him to undergo a routine delousing.1

Eventually released, the attempt to get justice has taken Florence years. On October 12, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Florence v. Burlington, et al., in which the question is “whether the Fourth Amendment permits a jail to conduct a suspicionless strip search of every individual arrested for any minor offense no matter what the circumstances.”2

According to his lawsuit, Florence is joined by people who were similarly treated after being arrested and jailed for such crimes as “driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal, and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.”Download PDF

In 2003, “three pickup trucks” with “six armed police in flak jackets” pulled up to 66-year-old George Norris’s house in Texas.

Norris was detained for four hours while they ransacked his home and confiscated 37 boxes of possessions without offering a warrant or an explanation. In March 2004, Norris was indicted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species for “smuggling” the orchids he had ordered and paid for to run a side business. Norris was thrown into the same cell as a suspected murder and two suspected drug dealers.3




The Economist reports,

Prosecutors described Mr. Norris as the “kingpin” of an international smuggling ring. He was dumbfounded: his annual profits were never more than about $20,000. When prosecutors suggested that he should inform on other smugglers in return for a lighter sentence, he refused, insisting he knew nothing beyond hearsay. He pleaded innocent. But an undercover federal agent had ordered some orchids from him, a few of which arrived without the correct papers. For this, he was charged with making a false statement to a government official, a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Since he had communicated with his suppliers, he was charged with conspiracy, which also carries a potential five-year term.

Unable to pay legal bills, Norris pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 months. For bringing prescription pills into prison, he was thrown into solitary confinement for 71 days. But “[t]he prison was so crowded … that even in solitary he had two room-mates.”

In 2000, a poor kid from foster care named T.J. Hill thought he had found a path to success when he received a wrestling scholarship to Cal State Fullerton. School did not work out, and he was arrested in 2006 for possession of psilocybin (mushrooms).




He was put on five years’ probation with a suspended imposition of sentence. In other words, if he completed his probation successfully, he would not have a criminal record.4

In November 2008, he left the state and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Although the original charge was minor and no further illegal activity occurred, T.J. was jailed on $100,000 bail to prevent flight risk. His family has spent thousands on legal fees. Now well known for his volunteer work with children, even police officers are hoping T.J. escapes more jail time. As one of them said, “He’s a good guy. He’s changed lives.” Whether he will be allowed to continue doing so or will become dehumanized through a senseless, brutal imprisonment waits to be seen.

Such stories abound. Most share characteristics with the foregoing three. For example, the criminal activity being punished is trivial and violates no one’s rights. The crimes are mala prohibita rather than mala en se. The first refers to crimes that exist only because rules were passed to control people’s nonviolent behavior, like the buying of orchids; the second refers to crimes that exist because the acts are intrinsically wrong, like rape. Another characteristic shared: the punishments are extreme and any attempt to correct them is often ruinously expensive in terms of time and money. But the ultimate punishment is usually the police record that follows these “criminals” for life, shutting off worlds of opportunities.




Ask yourself, How different am I from Florence, with his paid-up-but-still-punished traffic tickets? Or from Norris, who accidentally purchased a harmless but illegal flower? Or from T.J. who made a mistake by breaking a malum prohibitum law against drugs?

If something similar happens to you or your children, do you want the lives of those you love to be destroyed by clerical error, understandable ignorance, or a youthful mistake? With every passing law, that prospect becomes more probable.

What Path to Justice?
Even thinking about how to shift a government system toward freedom or justice can be exhausting. The penal system is particularly daunting because its raw brutality seems to leave no room for reason. Fortunately, the best approach may be to address the penal system’s precursors: the legislatures that create laws, the law enforcement and judiciaries that impose them. Without fundamental change at the early stages, effective change at the final stage of imprisonment is unlikely.

“The penal system is particularly daunting because its raw brutality seems to leave no room for reason.”
Libertarianism has evolved sophisticated theories of what constitutes a proper justice system and how to implement it. One of the most popular theories is based on restitution, rather than retribution or punishment. Restitution is the legal system in which a person “makes good” on a harm or wrong done to another individual and does so directly; if you steal $100, then you pay back $100 and reasonable damages directly to the victim of your theft. You do not pay a debt to society or to the state by going to prison. You do not undergo “punishment” other than the damages assessed. You make your victim “whole” — and, perhaps, a bit more for his trouble.

Court Rules Bakers Must Pay $135,000 for Not Making Gay Wedding Cake

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A husband-and-wife baking team must pay a $135,000 fine for declining to make a cake for the wedding of two women, Oregon’s second-highest court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a decision by a state agency that led to the fine and forced Aaron and Melissa Klein to close their bakery.




The court ruled that baking wedding cakes is not “speech, art, or other expression” protected by the First Amendment. The judges said the state did not “impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to the free exercise of religion” because it compelled the Christian bakers only to comply with “a neutral law of general applicability.”

Oregon law prohibits businesses from refusing service because of a customer’s sexual orientation, as well as because of race, gender, and other personal characteristics.

“We are very disappointed in the court’s decision,” Michael Berry, deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday. “I think that punishing people for their religious beliefs is … not American, and it’s wrong.”

“It does not matter how you were born or who you love,” one of the lesbians, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, said in a written statement following the ruling. “All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. Oregon will not allow a ‘Straight Couples Only’ sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.”

Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush, argued the Kleins’ case. Gray told the three judges that the state violated the two bakers’ rights to free speech, religious freedom, and due process.




The Kleins had owned and operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Oregon.




After the Kleins declined in 2013 to make a cake for the wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, citing their Christian religious beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, they also faced protests that eventually led them to shut down their bakery.

In July 2015, an administrative judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins violated state law by discriminating against the Bowman-Cryers on the basis of their sexual orientation. The judge ordered the Kleins to pay the $135,000 for physical, emotional, and mental damages to the two women, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

John Stossel Exposes How Bias the New York Times Really Is

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Just how deceitful and bias has the NY Times been this year? Well, John Stossel demonstrates just how bad it’s really been.






What are you thoughts? Do you think the Times is even worth reading anymore?

How a Nonprofit Is Rescuing Food Waste by Turning It Into Soup for the Poor

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A Cincinnati chef named Suzy DeYoung was once a caterer who had first hand experience with how vendors, restaurants, and even grocery stores pick-and-choose the prettiest produce to make meals. The amount of food waste Americans create is staggering, and as a chef DeYoung knew that an ugly vegetable could make as good a meal as the most pristine and spotless one. That’s just not what her high-end customers wanted. DeYoung told Fast Company that she had to pass by a lot of good food to make a pretty plate.




“That always kind of haunted me and I hated that,” she explained.

In her hometown of Cincinnati, the waste seemed particularly egregious. Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate is nearly double the national average. Knowing this statistic and the amount of food being regularly thrown out, DeYoung decided to do something about it and started a nonprofit called La Soupe. La Soupe collects leftover produce from grocery stores and farmer’s markets, then turns them into soup that can be frozen and distributed to hungry families.




In 2016, La Soupe collected 125,000 pounds of produce, which prevented it from taking up space in a landfill. They distributed 800 quarts a week with the help of 47 agencies around city who participate in La Soupe’s programming during the school year, but estimate on their website that they’ve given out 95,000 servings overall.

It takes 200 volunteers to collect all their ingredients, in a similar system to what’s popular with food banks. They use an app that makes it easy for the company’s donating, like Kroger, Jungle Jims, Crosset, and Sugar Creek, to tell La Soupe what they have to be picked up. Then the volunteers sort what needs to be used first, so it doesn’t spoil, and if anything is truly inedible it gets fed to local farm animals.

But why soup? Well, it’s delicious, obviously, but it also an extremely cost effective meal.

“You can stretch it, meaning if all you have are potatoes and onions you can make a lot by adding water versus just giving somebody a potato,” explained DeYoung. 




It’s also easy for families to heat up to eat, who may be too busy or not have the skills to cook a more complicated meal. But they do have a program for families that want to learn. Cincinnati Gives A Crock is a class they offer that teaches students in schools and community centers how to use a crockpot, and how to make a soup of their own. The great thing about soup is that almost anyone can learn to make something hearty and healthy—and you’ll never know if the carrot was shaped super weird before it went in the blender.

Article originally published in Green Matters

Cop Steals Life-Savings from Innocent Musician

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Phil Parhamovich is a musician from Madison, Wisconsin. Over the years, he saved up $91,800, only to have it seized by Wyoming Highway Patrol during a routine traffic stop near Cheyenne.
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to take and keep cash, cars and other property without ever charging someone with a crime.




Phil was never accused of, or charged with, a crime. Yet, he found himself in the fight of his life to recover the money that belonged to him.
Luckily, Phil reached out to the Institute for Justice (IJ), and together we got back Phil’s life savings. But the fight is far from over; Phil’s story only highlights the urgent need to end civil forfeiture.
An Unjust Practice 
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to take and keep cash, cars and other property without ever charging someone with a crime. Before that fateful March day, Phil had never heard of civil forfeiture. He was just a musician driving through Wyoming to a show in Salt Lake City. Phil had big plans for his life savings, which he brought with him for safekeeping.
He wanted to put a downpayment on a historic music studio in Madison where bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage recorded albums. Phil had dreams of opening up the recording studio to other bands and living in an apartment above.
But Phil’s dream of owning the music studio came to a halt during a windy drive on I-80. Battling famous Wyoming wind, Phil was having a hard time staying in his lane. He was soon pulled over by Wyoming Highway Patrol for failing to signal a lane change. During the stop, the trooper detained Phil in the patrol car and aggressively questioned him about details of his trip. The questions were not even related to the reason for pulling Phil over.




The trooper then circled Phil’s minivan with a drug-sniffing dog. After what appeared to be coaching with a tennis ball, the dog alerted to the van and provided the trooper with an excuse to search it. Neither the trooper nor other officers assisting him found anything illegal during the search. All they could find were Phil’s life savings stowed away inside a music speaker. Carrying cash is not a crime. But Phil had no way of knowing that. So, when the trooper implied that carrying cash was illegal, Phil—scared that he could be arrested—told the trooper that the money did not belong to him.
Seizing on this opportunity, the officers provided Phil with a way out. If he were to sign a pre-printed waiver form “giving” Wyoming law enforcement the money that they just found, he would be free to go. Bizarrely, the waiver stated: “I . . . the owner of the property or currency described below, desire to give this property or currency, along with any and all interests and ownership that I may have in it, to the State of Wyoming, Division of Criminal Investigation, to be used for narcotics law enforcement purposes.” At least two states—Texas and Virginia—have banned law enforcement from using such roadside waivers to pressure motorists to sign away their property.

Hours after IJ announced it was representing Phil, a state judge ordered the government to give back Phil’s money.




One of the officers told Phil that if he signed the form, he would be free to go. And so, on the side of the road and with no attorney present, Phil signed the waiver. The officers wrote Phil a $25 ticket for not wearing his seatbelt and sent him on his way.
The Upside-Down World of Civil Forfeiture 
Four days after the traffic stop, Phil tried to revoke the waiver and get his money back, explaining what happened and asking to be notified of any court hearings. But Wyoming officials never sent Phil a notice regarding the court proceedings, even though they knew exactly where he lived and how to contact him.
This is the upside-down world of civil forfeiture: it creates a perverse incentive for law enforcement to seize and keep as much property as possible. And even though Wyoming passed modest reforms last year, law enforcement found a way to dodge these reforms through the use of roadside waivers.
Continued on next page

Ben Carson Just Admitted The Truth About the War on Drugs (VIDEO)

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(REASON) Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was a typical modern Republican drug warrior during his presidential run in 2016. As Tom Angell at the Marijuana Moment site reminds us, the former neurosurgeon supported medical marijuana but was quick to discuss the alleged IQ damage the drug can cause, believed it could be a “gateway drug” to more harmful practices, and insisted he would, if elected president, enforce federal anti-pot laws even in states that had legalized.




In a speech last week at the Manhattan Institute, Carson showed he recognizes the drug war causes direct, unwarranted harm to America’s poor, encouraging those of us who like to believe even politicians can be persuaded by arguments spread by libertarians (and others) about the deleterious effects of the drug war on America.

In a talk lamenting that “in many communities there are more black males incarcerated than there are in college,” Carson acknowledged “the war on poverty sometimes conflicted with the war on drugs, which often dealt harshly with non-violent offenders, taking men away from their families, and disproportionately affecting minority communities.”




Carson does not, alas, have direct authority to help end government law enforcement policies regarding marijuana and other drugs that have those bad effects. But it is heartening to see the truth seep through the higher levels of the Trump administration. Let’s hope Jeff Sessions might be listening.

Video of the speech, given last week at the Manhattan Institute at a symposium called “Prospects for Black America.” The relevant line, in the context of a critique of aspects of post-Great Society policy, starts around 12:40.

How to Avoiding Arguing in Bad Faith in 13 Steps

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It is easy to assume the worst in people when discussing politics, philosophy, religion, or any other heated topic in person or online. This type of blatant cynicism leads to hostile interactions that needlessly interfere with the quest for truth. So, in an attempt to shift the narrative in online and personal communication, a couple members of the Reddit community put together a great list on “how to avoid arguing in bad faith.” Read it and let us know in the comment section what you think. Certain points were edited for clarity.




Thus begins the list of things to avoid:


Number 1: Asserting with certainty things that are open to question. For instance, “I know Jesus is god and any claim against that is untrue,” or the contrary “I know Jesus is not god and any claim against that is untrue.

Another instance would be, “Government officials always have our best interest in mind,” or the contrary “Government officials are all evil.”

Number 2: Responding to objections to these assertions with mere repetitions and/or restatements without giving consideration to the objections. For instance, saying “I have considered your claims and don’t think they have any merit,” without providing why they are without merit, is not arguing in good faith).

Number 3: Outright dismissal of provided evidence. Demands for more evidence that fits whatever magical conditions they have in mind that’s ‘good enough’ for their hyperskepticism.

Number 4: A refusal to explicitly state what you would deem acceptable evidence.

Number 5: Demanding that others spend time educating you when a half hour on Wikipedia will do the job just as well.




[Ed Note: If you're going to tell someone to go away and do some reading before coming back, it's probably best if you actually tell them what to read. Unless they're trolling, linking them to a source would be considerate. This also helps to decrease the likelihood that they'll spend the next half hour reading a straw man of the concept you want them to understand. (And remember the burden of proof!)]

Number 6: Any variation on “You’re wrong because I’m right!” or “My way or the highway.” Note that “You’re wrong because of x, y, and z” is not prohibited. You can call someone wrong, but you have to back yourself up with why they’re wrong.

Number 6a: Refusing to even entertain the possibility that other people’s take on a situation may be valid and that there is not necessarily ONLY ONE valid way to tackle a problem/view an issue.

Number 7: When multiple people are saying that there is something seriously wrong with your point (or even just how you’re presenting your point), you don’t assume that EVERYONE ELSE is wrong or not understanding your Super Intelligent And Reasonable Point. In these cases it is most likely that: 1) You are lacking critical evidence/using bad evidence to form your “reasonable” argument, or 2) Failing to understand a critical perspective (or perspectives) that either contradict your evidence or show that there are more valid options than just your argument. In other words: You need to be able to demonstrate that you are willing to consider yourself wrong and entertain the possibility that, even IF you’re right, others CAN ALSO be right. Not everything is a binary 1 or 0/yes or no/right or wrong type situation.

Just as a personal aside, something I have learned through the various fights I’ve had on the internet: It is often better to be fair than to be “right”. What this means is that, even if you think the person you’re arguing with is WRONGITY-WRONG-WRONG, it is often less productive to double down on your point (because I’m RIGHT and they’re WRONG!) and instead to do things like ask questions and try to understand why they’re taking the position they do. Not only does this allow you to better tailor your arguments to them (instead of just doing the equivalent of shouting I’M RIGHT YOU’RE WRONG I’M RIGHT YOU’RE WRONG WRONG WRONG), but it also leaves open the possibility to find out that there were things that they were “right” about.

Obviously “fair” doesn’t mean “must listen to anyone who spouts any kind of bullshit no matter what”. When it’s an argument you’ve heard over and over and over and over and over again, the next person who makes it is 99% of the time already coming from a perspective you understand. Like, when gamers use gendered slurs in games (or on gaming blogs) I don’t need to ask them why they think that it’s ok to do that (although, depending on the person/situation, it can be useful), because I’ve heard every argument under the sun. So if/when I decide to engage, it’s not a “right or fair” deal, but rather a “do I want to make a point for the lurkers or try and get this person to understand where I’m coming from?” decision.




Number 8: Do not assume that your argument is “objective”. Recognize that you are a human being who brings your own biases into a conversation and even when your argument is supported by facts that does not mean that it is objective. Facts can be objective; the conclusions that we draw for them can’t be.

Number 8a: “Objective” is not another way of saying “correct” and “subjective” is not another way of saying “incorrect”. It is probably most helpful to look at “objective” as observations that are value neutral (“water is wet”) and “subjective” as the conclusions we draw from our observations (“water should be a basic right because people will die without it”).

Number 9: Don’t use claims of “logic” or “reason” to shield yourself from criticism. Just because YOU think that your argument is “logical” or “reasonable” (or, conversely that another person or persons’ argument is “illogical” or “unreasonable”) does not mean that your assessment of the situation is correct.

Number 10: Coming to a thread with the attitude (stated or implied) that you will be attacked by the mean forum goers is toxic to productive discussion. It is also a pretty common trolling tactic, where the troll “predicts” that they will get shit for daring to disagree with the community, proceeds to engage in several bad faith tactics, and then jumps in with “SEE, JUST LIKE I PREDICTED!” when they are called out by the community and/or banned. They use this to justify their original position on the community, and will sometimes point to the thread as “evidence” while commiserating with their buddies about how horribly they were treated.

Number 11: Communication involves two people. This means that what you intend to say is not always what you end up actually saying to the person or people listening to you. When you’re told that you’re coming across in a certain way, DO NOT assume that the listener(s) are the ones having the communication fail (this is especially true if multiple people are saying that they heard “x” when you thought you said “y”). In this case it is best for you to try and figure out where the disconnect happened (rereading arguments and asking for clarification–understanding that no one is obligated to give it to you– are good ways of doing this) and then figure out how you can communicate in a mutually understandable way.

Number 12: Do not hide behind vague, all-encompassing ideologies. [Ed note: Do not defend or condemn ideologies if you are not certain what those ideologies are.]

I have seen two cases of this, one from a self-identified conservative and another from someone who claimed not to be a conservative but was still defending it. In the former case, there wasn’t even a discussion, just bloviating about how there’s so many liberals here and will the poor conservative be accepted. In the latter case, the defender of conservatism was forced to create a fairy-tale construction of history just to defend the basic conservative ideology, and paid absolutely no mind to how conservative politicians have always been against any form of social justice where specific issues are concerned; they’ve just “moderated” their language as their privileges have been eroded.

Number 13: You are more likely to have positive interactions with people if you learn the standards and conventions of the community before posting, especially if it’s on a thread where hostilities have already occurred. Lurking is a great way to do this, but learning the “flavor” of the community is not enough. When watching people communicate with each other, try to see what kinds of words/phrases get positive responses versus which ones get negative responses.

The basic idea is: Think of your internet conversations and forums you like as a dinner party. When you go to a dinner party it’s with the expectation that you will be respectful to your host(s) and their guests. Coming to the party with a bad attitude, being rude to the guests, insulting the host, or shitting all over the house (even if you’re being perfectly polite to everyone!) are all things that will get you thrown out of a party. If you wouldn’t do them there, don’t do them here.

No, Donald Trump Did Not Ban Words at the CDC, Says CDC Director

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(PBS)U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald on Sunday addressed a report that President Donald Trump’s administration had banned the CDC from using seven words or phrases in next year’s budget documents.




The terms are “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “evidence-based” and “science-based,” according to a story first reported on Friday in The Washington Post.

But Fitzgerald said in a series of tweets on Sunday said there are “no banned words,” while emphasizing the agency’s commitment to data-driven science.




“CDC has a long-standing history of making public health and budget decisions that are based on the best available science and data and for the benefit of all people—and we will continue to do so,” she said.

A group of the agency’s policy analysts said senior officials at the CDC informed them about the banned words on Thursday, according to the Post’s report. In some cases, the analysts were reportedly given replacement phrases to use instead.

But in follow-up reporting, The New York Times cited “a few” CDC officials who suggested the move was not meant as anoutright ban, but rather, a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget by eliminating certain words and phrases.




A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, said the reported decree on banned words was a misrepresentation.

“The assertion that H.H.S. has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” Matt Lloyd, an agency spokesman, said in a statement. “H.H.S. will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. H.H.S. also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

But some in the scientific community said that forbidding certain words could help change the direction of policies at the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency.

“If you are saying you cannot use words like ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity,’ it’s a clear statement that you cannot pay attention to these issues,” said Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, to the Associated Press.