Category Archives: Video

Intolerance surges in the UK, Cameron blamed

Hate crimes and other forms of overt bigotry are surging in the United Kingdom, and while the sharpest increase targets Muslims, other victims include people of color, the LGBT community, and the perennial targets of European intolerance, the Roma [previously].

One key reason for the rise was the venomous sentiment whipped up by winguts in their successful campaign for the Brexit, the successful referendum leading to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.

But Britain’s Prime Minister comes in for his share of the blame as well.

The rise in bigotry has drawn fire in a special report from the  Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance [ECRI].

First, a video report from RT:

Cameron responsible for rise in xenophobia & racism abuse in UK – watchdog

Program notes:

A report condemning “considerable intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration” was published by the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Tuesday. David Cameron was singled out, in particular, for describing asylum-seekers arriving from the Middle East and North Africa as a “swarm.”

More on the report from EurActiv:

In a report, the Council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) condemned “considerable intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration”.

“It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians,” said ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund.

“The Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.”

In a shock referendum result, Britain voted on June 23 to leave the 28-nation European Union.

Pro-Brexit supporters campaigned heavily on immigration, and the need to regain control on Britain’s borders, in a referendum battle fought against the background of Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.

Numbers, and assignment of blame

In the following excerpt from the report, note in particular the role in inciting intolerance played by the The Sun, a British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the same loathsome corporation that owns Fox News.

From the report:

According to  the  Home  Office,  there  were  52,528  hate motivated  criminal offences recorded by the police in the year 2014-2015. These include offences of hate  speech  and  violence.  Of  note, 42.930  (82%) belonged  to  the  category  of race  hate  crime;  5,597  (11%)  were  sexual  orientation  hate  crimes;  3,254  (6%) were  religious hate  crimes;  and  605  (1%)  were  transgender  hate  crimes.  There was an overall increase of 18% compared with 2013-14; the largest increase was in relation to religious hate crime (43%).

When broken down further according to type of offence, the data show that 59% of  all hate-motivated  offences in  2014-15  were  public  order  offences (the  vast majority involving public fear, alarm or distress, 30% related to violence against the person and 7% to criminal damage and arson. ECRI was not able to access any data on offences of incitement to hatred recorded by the police.

In addition to reported hate crime, a survey to measure unreported hate crime is conducted  annually.  The  Crime  Survey  for  England  and Wales  is  a  face-to-face victimisation  survey  in  which  persons  aged  16  and  over  are  asked  about  their experiences of crime in the past 12 months. The latest survey data revealed that there are an estimated 222,000 hate-motivated criminal offences on average per year, of  which 106,000  relate to  the  race  strand.  On  comparison  with  the  police figures  above,  it  appears  that  approximately  only  one  in  four  hate-motivated offences is recorded  by  the  police. This may  indicate  deficiencies  in  police recording  of  hate-motivated  offences and unwillingness  of  hate  crime  victims  to report such crime.

Hate speech in political discourse

In  its fourth  report,  ECRI  recommended  that  the  authorities  take  particular  care, when  developing  and  explaining  policies,  to  ensure  that  the  message  sent to society as a whole is not one likely to foment or foster intolerance and it urged the authorities to take measures to tackle the exploitation of racism in politics. In this context,  ECRI  welcomes the  Report  of  the  All  Party  Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, published  in  October  2013,  and  its  2015 General  Election Update, as  good  examples of  politicians actively  encouraging  responsibility to combat racism in political discourse.

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Saturday Night Live: Alec Baldwin trumps Trump

A thing of beauty, from Saturday Night Live:

VP Debate Cold Open – SNL

Program notes:

Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) interrupts an encore presentation of the vice presidential debate between Tim Kaine (Mikey Day) and Mike Pence (Beck Bennett) to address the vulgar comments he made in 2005.

Headline of the day: Just call him a grope addict

From the New York Times:

Trump Bragged About Groping Women: ‘They Let You Do It’

  • Donald J. Trump was caught on tape bragging in vulgar terms about making sexual advances toward a married woman, and aggressively kissing and groping others.
  • House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he was “sickened” by the comments and disinvited Mr. Trump from a joint event on Saturday.

Trump was captured by a live mic in conversation with then-Access Hollywood and current Today co-host Billy Bush, cousin of Dubya and nephew of George H.W. Bush during preparations for a Trump guest appearance on Days of Our Lives.

Here’s the unredacted tape via The Daily Conversation:

Donald Trump Caught On Tape: I Grab Women “By The Pu**y”

Program notes:

A “hot mic” catches Donald J. Trump bragging in vulgar terms about making sexual advances toward a married woman, aggressively kissing and groping other women, and boasting that “when you’re a star they let you do it.”

The remarkable recording, obtained by The Washington Post, was made in 2005. Trump, the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, was captured on an open microphone that he apparently did not know was recording his conversation with Billy Bush, then the host of “Access Hollywood,” with whom he was sitting on a bus.

And, just for the record, that’s sexual battery he’s bragging about.

At least it would be in California, according to Sex. 243.4 (e) (1) of the California Penal Code:

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person,
if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is
for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or
sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery. . .

Studies reveal music’s big impacts on growing brain

We’ve always been passionate believers in the value of music and art ecducation starting at the earliest years.

Gowing up in Kansas in the 1950s, we were the beneficiary of musical education that started in elementary school, where we participated in both singing and band programs, acquiring a love of music that has lasted throughout these last seven decades.

Our paternal grandmother was an elementary school teacher in Abilene, Kansas, and music was a critical part of her daily teaching. After her death in 1959, we received a letter from one her colleagues, telling us that one of her students had written that he still found inspiration in songs he had learned in her first and second grade classes.

The pupil was Dwight David Eisenhower, then serving as President of the United States.

Music and fine arts programs slashed as testing rises

But today, in classrooms across the country, education is music and the fine arts has fallen prey to a combination of budget cuts and the relentless imperative of the standardized test, a regime designed to turn out cogs in the machine rather than well-rounded, independent-minded individuals.

As the journal of the National Education Association reported in 2014:

Across the nation, the testing obsession has nudged aside visual arts, music, physical education, social studies, and science, not to mention world languages, financial literacy, and that old standby, penmanship. Our schools, once vigorous and dynamic centers for learning, have been reduced to mere test prep factories, where teachers and students act out a script written by someone who has never visited their classroom and where “achievement” means nothing more than scoring well on a bubble test.

“NCLB [No Child Left Behind] has corrupted what it means to teach and what it means to learn,” explains NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Teachers have to teach in secret and hope they don’t get into trouble for teaching to the Whole Child instead of teaching to the test.”

A Google search for the words “music education elementary schools eliminated” turns up more than a million hits, a tragic litany of stories reporting slashed programs across the nation and throughout much of the Western world.

Musical training improves standardized testing scores

Ironically, music education actually improves children’s test scores, as the Children’s Music Workshop notes:

Music education programs increase children’s cognitive development. Also, research shows that “preschoolers who took daily 30 minute group singing lessons and a weekly 10-15 minute private keyboard lesson scored 80 percent higher in object assembly skills than students who did not have the music lessons,” as reported in a 1994 study by Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw at the University of California, Irvine (Harvey, 1997). It is clear that music education programs dramatically stimulate a child’s learning capacity, as shown in drastic increases in the scores of children who participated in music programs. Music education programs can begin as early as preschool and should continue for the greatest results.

When music education is sustained throughout the elementary years, children continue to learn better through the clear connections between music and other areas of study. For instance, a 1999 study presented in Neurological Research reveals that when second and third-grade students were taught fractions through basic music rhythm notation, they “scored a full 100% higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner.” This study shows that the students who learned about the mathematical concept of fractions related their music knowledge of the relationships between eighth, quarter, half and whole notes in order to fully understand the material.

Students in music programs consistently score better on tests, as also exemplified in the 2001 study compiled by Music Educators National Conference, which exhibits that “SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework/experience in the arts.” It is obvious that when students have experience in music education in both the elementary and high school level, they perform considerably better in other important subjects as well. Music education programs in the elementary school level are necessary for the future success of students in all subject areas.

Musical training reshapes the brain

A major study by scientists from Harvard and McGill University and published in the Journal of Neuroscience [open access] used brain imaging to map changes in children’s brains resulting from musical study concluded with this summary:

M]usical training over only 15 months in early childhood leads to structural brain changes that diverge from typical brain development. Regional training-induced structural brain changes were found in musically relevant regions that were driven by musically relevant behavioral tests. The fact there were no structural brain differences found between groups before the onset of musical training indicates that the differential development of these brain regions is induced by instrumental practice rather by than preexisting biological predictors of musicality. These results provide new evidence for training-induced structural brain plasticity in early childhood. These findings of structural plasticity in the young brain suggest that long-term intervention programs can facilitate neuroplasticity in children. Such an intervention could be of particular relevance to children with developmental disorders and to adults with neurological diseases.

And yet another study proves the power of music. . .and dance

And now comes yet another study revealing the direct impact of education in music and dance on the brains of growing children.

From Concordia University in Montreal:

Endless hours at the barre. Long afternoons practising scales. All that time you spent in piano lessons and dance classes as a youngster may have seemed like a pain, but new research now confirms what your parents claimed: it’s good for mind and body.

In fact, a recent study published in NeuroImage ($35.95 to access] by a team* of researchers from the the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research, proves that dance and music training have even stronger effects on the brain than previously understood — but in markedly different ways.

The researchers used high-tech imaging techniques to compare the effects of dance and music training on the white matter structure of experts in these two disciplines. They then examined the relationship between training-induced brain changes and dance and music abilities.

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Legal marijuana leads in cross-country polling

From the Los Angeles Times:

In California, a post-debate SurveyUSA poll of 751 likely voters found that Proposition 64, which would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, is supported by 52 percent of the electorate and opposed by 41 percent, with 6 percent undecided. This is a lower margin than some other recent polls there, which have pegged support at 60 percent or more.

Across the country in Massachusetts, the marijuana legalization measure there enjoys 53 percent support among likely voters, according to a recent WBZ-UMASS Amherst poll of 700 likely voters. Forty percent oppose it, while another 7 percent are unsure. That’s also a turnaround from an earlier poll of 900 registered voters, which found only 41 percent supported the measure.

Up the coast in Maine, a late September poll of 505 likely voters found 53 percent support for the legalization measure, 38 percent opposed to it and 10 percent undecided. This number has been fairly stable since the spring.

A poll fielded last week of 500 likely voters in Nevada found the legalization measure there leading with 57 percent support, compared to 33 percent opposing it. That number is sharply at odds with a Review-Journal survey of 800 likely voters, fielded at the exact same time, which found the legalization measure leading by just 1 percentage point, well within the margin of error.

What more to say?

We’ll leave the last word to the Rainy Daze and their 49-year-old hit:

That Acapulco Gold

Marilyn Waring: Economics as if people mattered

Marilyn Waring is one of the world’s most remarkable economists, a former New Zealand legislator — the youngest-ever national lawmaker when elected in 1975 — who brought a government down over her opposition to nuclear weapons, then went on to earn her doctorate in political economy.

She won her degree with a revolutionary thesis on the  a thesis on the United Nations System of National Accounts, the system of valuing a national economy solely on the financial value of tangible goods produced.

That system was devised by British economist John Maynard Keynes to engineer the British Empire’s participation in World War II, and ignored, among other things, all of the household labors of women, labors which, literally “kept the home fires burning.”

Waring’s critique forced the U.N. to revise its accounting system, and as Bloomberg reported three years ago:

Waring gained international prominence with “If Women Counted,” also published as “Counting for Nothing.” Praised by the feminist Gloria Steinem and the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, the book lambasted national accounting systems as sexist for excluding unpaid women’s work. Canada’s National Film Board in 1995 made it into a documentary called “Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics.”

While Waring wasn’t the first to criticize the exclusion, her book drew attention for its thorough and persuasive analysis, said Joann Vanek, a former director of social statistics at the UN.

“She demystified the national accounts,” Vanek said. “Many feminists had taken pot shots at national accounts, but Marilyn went into the body of it and disaggregated the specific assumptions that were made and how that really shaped what ended up being a bias against women.”

Waring’s knowledge and outspokenness made the critique credible, Vanek said. “She was unafraid. These guys, these national accountants, are somewhat oracle-type figures, and she would confront them.”

In 1993, the UN revised the system of national accounts to recommend that all production of goods in households for their own consumption be included in the measurement of economic output, a definition excluding childcare, elder-care, cooking and cleaning.

But Waring’s critique is much broader, and is superbly outlined in a just-re-released 1995 documentary from the National Film Board of Canada:

Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

Program notes:

In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. Waring maps out an alternative vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.

Drugs to kill physical pain may also dull empathy

As we posted back in May, a new study indicates that one of the most common painkillers we consume to ease the pains of daily life may kill another sort of pain, the angst we feel when we encounter the pain and anxieties most of us feel when encountering  others undergoing crises.

We shouldn’t be surprised, given that some of the same brain regions [bilateral anterior insula, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, brainstem, and cerebellum] are involved [open access] in both the experiencing of our own pain and our response to the pain felt by others.

A 2006 Franco-Canadian study [open access] found that people born with a congenital insensitivity to pain [CIP] were also less empathetic to pain in others.

As the authors concluded, “In the absence of functional somatic resonance mechanisms shaped by previous pain experiences, others’ pain might be greatly underestimated, however, especially when emotional cues are lacking, unless the observer is endowed with sufficient empathic abilities to fully acknowledge the suffering experience of others in spite of his own insensitivity.”

The authors noted that the learned ability to recognize facial cues may result in an empathetic response, a skill sociopaths appear unable to master.

Other research [open access] reveals that “empathy with feelings of the others, and self-experience of this feeling state recruit shared neural networks, suggesting a simulation of the other’s state in the brain of the empathizer.”

The brain regions in question [open access] are the bilateral anterior insula, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, brainstem, and cerebellum.

Another study [$35.95 for full access] reveals that for professionals whose work might be impaired by too much empathy for suffering in another [physicians in the case of the study] can learn to dampen their natural emotional response, concluding that “physicians’ down-regulation of the pain response dampens their negative arousal in response to the pain of others and thus may have many beneficial consequences including freeing up cognitive resources necessary for being of assistance.”

And that brings us to a talk by University of California, Santa Barbara neuropsychologist Kyle Ratner, via University of California Television:

Can Acetaminophen Influence How We Perceive Other People?

Program notes:

The popular over-the-counter medication, acetaminophen, is generally used to reduce fever and pain. However, a growing body of research suggests that the drug has broader psychological effects. Experimental social psychologist Kyle Ratner discuss his research examining the effects of acetaminophen on social group biases in person perception.

While the studies have focused on one painkiller, we suspect that other, similar drugs may act in similar ways.