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here are the 10 greatest hoaxes of all time

there really is a sucker born every minute.

the year 2014 featured one of the banner scientific hoaxes of recent history, the delightful triple-breasted lady. tampa, florida’s alisha jasmine hessler thrilled the breast lovers among us with tales (and accompanying photos) of her enhanced silhouette. according to hessler, 21, who renamed herself jasmine tridevil, she searched far and wide and finally found a plastic surgeon willing to add a third breast to her already ample duet. the truth came to light when, in order to recover a stolen bag from the airport, hessler was forced to declare the contents, which included a three-breasted prosthesis. the website smoking gun blew the whole scam wide open, and we were left to carry on in our now less magical world. unicorns and tridevils aren't what they seem.

but hers was not the first, and will surely not be the last hoax perpetrated on the believing american public. even those who believe only in the miracles of science are apt to fall for the occasional scientific-sounding hoax. and when the will to believe is strong enough, and there's money to be made, no amount of debunking bogus claims shakes the willing suckers among us. here are 10 of the greatest hoaxes of all time.

1. piltdown man

the search for the missing link has gone on ever since charles darwin articulated the process of evolution. if man evolved from ape, then where is the link between the two? in 1912, it was announced that at last the missing link was found. it was named eoanthropus dawsoniby charles dawson, the amateur geologist who dug up the skull in piltdown, england. the great minds of the time all agreed that the skull was authentic, and proof of the link between man and monkey. it wasn’t until 40 years later, in 1953, that fluorine testing revealed otherwise. the skull was modern (probably less than 50,000 years old), not ancient, and it was actually constructed from the jaw of an orangutan, a human cranium and filed-down chimp teeth. interestingly, some believe the actual perpetrator of the hoax was not charles dawson, but sir arthur conan doyle, creator of sherlock holmes. it seems doyle was a member of dawson’s archeological society, and a frequent visitor to piltdown. the plot thickens….

2. crop circles

in the 1970s, mysterious crop circles began appearing overnight in wheat fields all over england—elaborate designs, perfectly circular, intricate and beautiful. observers were convinced they were too intricate, too perfect, to have been made by human means, and that they were signs of alien beings trying to communicate with us. the circles remained mysterious, catnip to ufo believers and supernatural enthusiasts. finally, in 1991, doug bower and dave chorley, a couple of pranksters, admitted to creating the crop circles using simple ropes, hats and wire as their only tools.

3. clever hans

in the early 1900s, in germany, a man named wilhelm von osten, a math teacher, phrenologist, and bit of a mystic, owned a horse named hans, who was apparently quite the genius. in free performances countrywide, hans could answer math questions, spell words, understand german, and perform other dazzling stunts that convinced people hans was an animal prodigy. ask clever hans what 2+9 equals and hans would tap his hoof 11 times, to the wonder of his audience. further, hans could answer the questions in spoken or written format. but in 1907, a psychologist named oskar pfungst, after extensive study, showed that hans was not actually answering questions, but was responding to the body language of his audience. the horse observed that as he tapped his hoof to answer 2+9, the audience was noticeably tense until he reached 11, at which point people relaxed, tipping off the perceptive horse to stop tapping. von osten never accepted the fact that his horse couldn't really count, and he continued to show off hans until von osten died in 1909.

4. alien autopsy

in the 1990s, ray santilli revealed black-and-white film footage that shocked the world. purported to be an actual autopsy of an alien being recovered from a 1947 crash of a flying saucer near roswell, new mexico, the footage was supposedly taken by a military cameraman (who wished to remain anonymous, according to santilli). the authentic-looking footage sparked a debate that continues today, despite the fact that it was admitted to be fake. in 1995, fox tv broadcast the footage in a tv special it repeated twice, each time to huge ratings. in 2006, however, santilli admitted the footage was not real, but was a “restoration” of footage he claimed to have seen in 1992. the original footage, he said, degraded and was unusable, forcing him to recreate it. it was actually the director of the tv special who first suspected the footage was fake, but fox prevented him from discussing it publicly for fear of hurting ratings. the alien in the “restored” film was apparently a cast, the skull containing sheep brains, raspberry preserve and chicken guts.

5. the turk

in 1770, wolfgang von kempelen unveiled the amazing “schachturke," or chess turk, to the empress maria theresa of austria. the chess turk was an automaton, a robot that could play chess and perform amazing chess tricks like the knight’s tour (in which the knight is moved around to occupy every square on the chessboard exactly one time). for the next 84 years, until it was destroyed in a fire, the turk toured europe and the americas, where the robot defeated all challengers, including benjamin franklin and napoleon bonaparte. it turned out, however, that the turk might have been amazing, but, like the wizard of oz, he needed the man behind the curtain. the automaton was secretly controlled within by a succession of chess masters who provided the human brains behind the none-too-bright turk. still, the machine was impressive enough on its own merits that it continued to tour even after the hoax was revealed in the 1820s.

6. the war of the worlds

on the evening of oct. 30, 1938, a news broadcast went out over the radio that shook the nation. alien spacecrafts from mars had landed in new jersey, and martian invaders were on the move, attacking humans as the u.s. army fought back. the broadcast was not real, of course, and in fact it was identified at the beginning as a radio play of the famous h.g. wells novel, the war of the worlds. unfortunately, it was so realistic that people who tuned in after the beginning believed it was really happening. mass panic and frenzy ensued, and many across the nation were convinced the end was near. the next day, the new york times front page headline screamed, “radio listeners in panic, taking war drama as fact. many flee homes to escape ‘gas raid from mars.'" you just can’t buy publicity like that. the long and storied career of orson welles, who was the mastermind behind the broadcast, was born.

7. the fiji mermaid

in 1822, samuel barrett edes bought a mermaid from some japanese sailors for the exorbitant sum of $6000. the mummified remains were of a creature half-human, half-fish, with animal hair covering the human half and fish scales on the bottom. edes brought the creature back to england where it was exhibited, passed on to his son, and later sold to moses kimball in 1842. kimball, sensing a way to cash in, brought his mermaid to new york, where he showed it to p.t. barnum. barnum knew a moneymaker when he saw one. he rented the mermaid for $12.50 a week to exhibit to the public. through an elaborate scheme he devised to deceive the press and the public, barnum eventually got the fiji mermaid exhibited in the american museum of natural history. though thought to be lost in a fire, harvard university’s peabody museum of archaeology and ethnology claims to hold the original specimen. it was long ago shown to be a fake, not a mermaid at all, but a baby monkey sewn to a fish.

8. the stone age tasaday tribe

in 1971, a stone age tribe was “discovered” in the philippines by manuel elizade, jr. known as the tasaday, the tribe was small, isolated and completely ignorant of modern society. still using stone age tools, they were hunter-gatherers unfamiliar with agriculture. the news caused a sensation in the press and scientific community. unfortunately it was a lie. in 1986, closer investigations, made possible by the end of the marcos dictatorship, showed that the tasaday were not quite what they seemed. they traded with nearby farmers, wore blue jeans and t-shirts and even spoke a local dialect. it seems the tribe agreed to the hoax in return for cigarettes and free clothes.

9. the cardiff giant

in 1869, a giant was discovered on a farm. uncovered while digging for a well, the 10-foot petrified giant seemed to verify passages in genesis that talked of giants walking the earth. the discovery was a sensation, and crowds flocked to see the petrified man. it turned out that the cardiff giant was a fake. the brainchild of a binghamton, new york tobacco dealer and atheist named george hull, the cardiff giant was born from a conversation he overheard between evangelical ministers about giants roaming the earth. he commissioned a remarkably realistic statue made out of a gypsum stone that had blue veins running through it that looked similar to human veins. he had the statue buried on his cousin’s farm and had it “discovered” six months later. p.t. barnum sought to purchase the giant, but was outbid by a banker named david hannum. though attributed to barnum, it was actually hannum who, in reference to the crowds showing up to see the giant, coined the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

10. beavers on the moon

in 1835, the new york sun newspaper published a series of articles about the discoveries of astronomer john herschel, who with the aid of a new and powerful telescope was able to study the moon more closely than ever before. herschel, it was reported, observed an entire idyllic moon civilization including people with wings, unicorns, plants, and, curiously, beavers. the outrageousness of the story spoke for itself, and the paper’s rivals declared it a hoax almost immediately. however, some things never die, especially, lunar beavers. the story was reprinted in papers all over the world and a play was even staged based on the series. sensing an opportunity for extra cash, the new york sun created a separate pamphlet to sell, as well as lithographic prints of the moon civilization. it took five years for the hoax to finally be put to rest, when the author of the article, richard adams locke, finally fessed up. he claimed he was merely satirizing religion’s encroachment on the domain of science.

 

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dear liberal america: the fbi is not your friend -- and it never has been

the love and kisses tour of j. edgar comey has put a smiling face on an agency known for hardball and duplicity

have you been watching the roundelay of appearances former fbi director james comey has made this week on his tour to promote his book, “a higher loyalty: truth, lies, and leadership”? on tuesday, he was on the "the late show with stephen colbert" on cbs, the same day his book was released. colbert did everything but ruffle his hair, sharing a paper cup of red wine with him, seeming to commemorate the beverage comey poured for himself aboard a private government jet returning to washington on the day he was fired on may 9, 2017. colbert teased him. comey demurred. hilarity ensued.

thursday night he was on the "the rachel maddow show" on msnbc, an appearance that was promoted in advance like she had scored a visit from beyonce. maddow’s interview with comey was subdued and actually appeared to reveal a few nuggets of news, but comey spent a lot of time answering questions with a frown and a painfully reluctant, “that’s another one i can’t answer.” 

maddow got down in the weeds with him about the russia investigation and rudolph giuliani’s recent appearance on the trump legal team, and pressed him on his relationship with attorney general loretta lynch.

but what she didn’t do was question comey closely on why he had taken the time to trash clinton as “extremely careless” in handling her emails, and why he had announced, less than two weeks before election day, that the fbi was looking into new clinton emails found on huma abedin’s and anthony weiner’s laptop. (comey waited until nov. 6, just two days before the election, to announce that the new email investigation was as big a bust as the last one.)

 

  i get it that democrats seem to be caught in a bind with comey. on the one hand, he trashed their candidate for president in 2016 and probably contributed to her defeat. on the other hand, trump has turned him into a martyr to the russia investigation democrats are hoping will bring him down. besides, at least he’s not a lying orange lunatic with a tequila sunrise on his head.

what i don’t get is the love affair that seems to have bloomed between democrats and the fbi. every other time comey opens his mouth, he spews meretricious nonsense about the unimpeachable nobility of his former place of employment, and i’m open-mouthed watching liberals lap it up.

doesn’t anyone have an fbi file anymore?

i do.

i have a very strong memory of the bad old days of the fbi, which were memorialized recently in harper’s magazine in a quote attributed to john ehrlichman, nixon’s domestic policy adviser. the nixon white house “had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people," ehrlichman told harper’s reporter dan baum. “we knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. we could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”

you want to know who they used to do this? the fbi. i was one of those they disrupted and vilified during the time they used the cointelpro program against people they considered to be hippies or radicals or in some way threatening to the established order. some years ago, i filed a freedom of information act request for my fbi files and received a package of about 200 pages of heavily redacted pages. a fairly large number of them described a time during 1970 and 1971 when the fbi had me under so-called mail cover, which gave them the authority to open and inspect my mail, as well as wiretaps and, for a time, physical surveillance.

  

what had i done to deserve this full-on fbi scrutiny? i’d gotten in a big passel of trouble at west point, that’s what. what was the nature of the trouble? well, along with three other cadets, i filed formal complaints with the department of the army seeking to end the regulation at west point that required all cadets to attend church every sunday morning, that’s what i did. i was singled out as the “ringleader,” labeled a radical, and no less a figure than alexander m. haig, then the deputy commandant of cadets at west point, accused me of being “beyond communism.”

haig, who went into the nixon white house in 1969 as the top aide to henry kissinger on the national security council, attached a letter to my army 201 personnel file warning any future commander i might be assigned to that i was a “known communist” and not to be trusted. that did it. i was unceremoniously run out of the army in 1970, chiefly because of my past at west point. the key thing to pay attention to here is what it took to put me under fbi surveillance. i had the temerity to take the position that having the federal government force cadets and midshipmen to attend church was unconstitutional. whoa! that and a box of leaflets and about three hippies was obviously enough to bring down the government, huh?

i took up residence in new york city and went to work for the village voice in 1970. by that time, i was already on the fbi radar, having been wiretapped and surveilled during my time in the army. it wasn’t readily apparent at first that i was under surveillance. there weren’t any mysterious clicks on my phone, and the mail i received didn’t appear to be tampered with. but by early 1971, one of the other guys who filed a complaint against compulsory chapel attendance was also in trouble in the army because he had testified in federal court in a case seeking to overturn compulsory church at the academies. he was later called in for questioning by military intelligence, and the nature of the questions he was asked indicated that the subject of phone calls and mail between us were known to the officer who was questioning him. he drove from his army base to new york that weekend and told me what was going on.

  

a month or so later, i visited him at his apartment near the army base where he was stationed. he introduced me to another officer he had become friendly with, a lawyer in the jag corps, the army’s military law branch. the trouble was, i had known him about a year earlier when he had a different name and was a second lieutenant in the infantry. he had been a military intelligence agent assigned to watch me, and now he was there to keep an eye on my friend.

a few months after that, i was on my way to cover a democratic party fundraiser for the mcgovern campaign in the apartment of a wealthy campaign donor on central park south. i had some time to kill, so stopped off at the lion’s head, the writer’s bar next to the old village voice offices on christopher street. when i got on the 6th avenue subway to go uptown, i saw a guy i had noticed down the bar from me at the lion’s head. i thought i’d seen him at the head before, but he wasn’t a regular, and i didn’t think much of it. he got off at 57th street when i did, but i still didn’t think much of it. maybe he lived in midtown. not everyone who drank at the lion’s head lived in the village.

but when i saw the same guy standing across 59th street as i came out of the apartment building later that night, i began to suspect something was up. so instead of heading straight for the subway, i went into the plaza hotel through a door on 59th street and wandered through the lobby, pretending to look at glass cases displaying jewelry and handbags from shops on 5th avenue. i exited through the inner doors of the 5th avenue entrance and took a quick left and stood against a wall between the inner and outer doors to the hotel, out of sight of the lobby. the guy i had seen at the lion’s head and on the subway and standing across 59th street rushed through the hotel’s inner doors. as he passed through the outer doors looking wildly left and right, i came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. “here i am,” i said, grinning at him. he tried his best not to look surprised and expressed confusion, as if he didn’t understand what i was saying. “i’m going back to the lion’s head, in case you lose track of me,” i said. then i headed for the subway.

  

the incident at the plaza hotel doesn’t appear in my fbi files, but i suspected i was being followed several other times that year, and evidence of mail cover and heavily redacted summaries of wiretapped conversations were there. the fbi’s interest in me petered out in 1972. they had bigger fish to fry that year.

in june, the gainesville eight were indicted for conspiring to violently disrupt the republican national convention in august. seven of those charged were members of the vvaw, the vietnam veterans against the war. all were acquitted a year later by a jury that took only four hours to reach a decision after a month-long trial. the only real evidence the government had been able to produce to prove the violent intentions of the group was a box of wrist-rocket slingshots that had been provided to the vvaw by one of the fbi agents assigned to infiltrate the group. it was a perfect end to yet another of the fbi’s attempts to disrupt, intimidate and disgrace groups on the left, from the black panthers to the moratorium, to practically invisible communist party splinter groups like the socialist workers party that met in dingy lofts along lower broadway in new york and plotted to bring the happy ways of socialism to the masses.

the fbi has come a long way from its cointelpro days in the 1970s, and presumably, so have its directors, including james comey. but it’s worth remembering that in 2005, when he was deputy attorney general, comey signed off on a justice department memo justifying the use of 13 “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding and up to 180 consecutive hours of sleep deprivation. by 2013, during his confirmation hearings, comey had seen the light and declared that in his personal opinion, waterboarding was torture.

  

that’s always the problem with people who see the light, isn’t it? they open their eyes so selectively. at the height of the so-called war in iraq, comey thought waterboarding was just peachy. when he wants the fbi top job six years later, he discovers that it’s torture. in 2016, comey is so worried about what people will think of the fbi’s investigation of hillary’s emails that he finds it necessary to tell us how sloppy she was, even while he admits she didn’t do anything illegal. he’s a little more selective about the fbi’s criminal and counterintelligence investigation into the trump campaign and russia, however, declining to tell us about it until two months after trump had taken office.

think about that the next time you’re watching j. edgar comey spinning and grinning his way through another softball interview on some cable tv show. there were two people running for president in 2016. one of them he was really, really upset with because she had been so “careless” with her emails. the other one he was ok with, until suddenly he wasn’t. he might not have a tequila sunrise perched on his head, but he sure can act like he does.

 






here are the 10 greatest hoaxes of all time

there really is a sucker born every minute.

the year 2014 featured one of the banner scientific hoaxes of recent history, the delightful triple-breasted lady. tampa, florida’s alisha jasmine hessler thrilled the breast lovers among us with tales (and accompanying photos) of her enhanced silhouette. according to hessler, 21, who renamed herself jasmine tridevil, she searched far and wide and finally found a plastic surgeon willing to add a third breast to her already ample duet. the truth came to light when, in order to recover a stolen bag from the airport, hessler was forced to declare the contents, which included a three-breasted prosthesis. the website smoking gun blew the whole scam wide open, and we were left to carry on in our now less magical world. unicorns and tridevils aren't what they seem.

but hers was not the first, and will surely not be the last hoax perpetrated on the believing american public. even those who believe only in the miracles of science are apt to fall for the occasional scientific-sounding hoax. and when the will to believe is strong enough, and there's money to be made, no amount of debunking bogus claims shakes the willing suckers among us. here are 10 of the greatest hoaxes of all time.

1. piltdown man

the search for the missing link has gone on ever since charles darwin articulated the process of evolution. if man evolved from ape, then where is the link between the two? in 1912, it was announced that at last the missing link was found. it was named eoanthropus dawsoniby charles dawson, the amateur geologist who dug up the skull in piltdown, england. the great minds of the time all agreed that the skull was authentic, and proof of the link between man and monkey. it wasn’t until 40 years later, in 1953, that fluorine testing revealed otherwise. the skull was modern (probably less than 50,000 years old), not ancient, and it was actually constructed from the jaw of an orangutan, a human cranium and filed-down chimp teeth. interestingly, some believe the actual perpetrator of the hoax was not charles dawson, but sir arthur conan doyle, creator of sherlock holmes. it seems doyle was a member of dawson’s archeological society, and a frequent visitor to piltdown. the plot thickens….

2. crop circles

in the 1970s, mysterious crop circles began appearing overnight in wheat fields all over england—elaborate designs, perfectly circular, intricate and beautiful. observers were convinced they were too intricate, too perfect, to have been made by human means, and that they were signs of alien beings trying to communicate with us. the circles remained mysterious, catnip to ufo believers and supernatural enthusiasts. finally, in 1991, doug bower and dave chorley, a couple of pranksters, admitted to creating the crop circles using simple ropes, hats and wire as their only tools.

3. clever hans

in the early 1900s, in germany, a man named wilhelm von osten, a math teacher, phrenologist, and bit of a mystic, owned a horse named hans, who was apparently quite the genius. in free performances countrywide, hans could answer math questions, spell words, understand german, and perform other dazzling stunts that convinced people hans was an animal prodigy. ask clever hans what 2+9 equals and hans would tap his hoof 11 times, to the wonder of his audience. further, hans could answer the questions in spoken or written format. but in 1907, a psychologist named oskar pfungst, after extensive study, showed that hans was not actually answering questions, but was responding to the body language of his audience. the horse observed that as he tapped his hoof to answer 2+9, the audience was noticeably tense until he reached 11, at which point people relaxed, tipping off the perceptive horse to stop tapping. von osten never accepted the fact that his horse couldn't really count, and he continued to show off hans until von osten died in 1909.

4. alien autopsy

in the 1990s, ray santilli revealed black-and-white film footage that shocked the world. purported to be an actual autopsy of an alien being recovered from a 1947 crash of a flying saucer near roswell, new mexico, the footage was supposedly taken by a military cameraman (who wished to remain anonymous, according to santilli). the authentic-looking footage sparked a debate that continues today, despite the fact that it was admitted to be fake. in 1995, fox tv broadcast the footage in a tv special it repeated twice, each time to huge ratings. in 2006, however, santilli admitted the footage was not real, but was a “restoration” of footage he claimed to have seen in 1992. the original footage, he said, degraded and was unusable, forcing him to recreate it. it was actually the director of the tv special who first suspected the footage was fake, but fox prevented him from discussing it publicly for fear of hurting ratings. the alien in the “restored” film was apparently a cast, the skull containing sheep brains, raspberry preserve and chicken guts.

5. the turk

in 1770, wolfgang von kempelen unveiled the amazing “schachturke," or chess turk, to the empress maria theresa of austria. the chess turk was an automaton, a robot that could play chess and perform amazing chess tricks like the knight’s tour (in which the knight is moved around to occupy every square on the chessboard exactly one time). for the next 84 years, until it was destroyed in a fire, the turk toured europe and the americas, where the robot defeated all challengers, including benjamin franklin and napoleon bonaparte. it turned out, however, that the turk might have been amazing, but, like the wizard of oz, he needed the man behind the curtain. the automaton was secretly controlled within by a succession of chess masters who provided the human brains behind the none-too-bright turk. still, the machine was impressive enough on its own merits that it continued to tour even after the hoax was revealed in the 1820s.

6. the war of the worlds

on the evening of oct. 30, 1938, a news broadcast went out over the radio that shook the nation. alien spacecrafts from mars had landed in new jersey, and martian invaders were on the move, attacking humans as the u.s. army fought back. the broadcast was not real, of course, and in fact it was identified at the beginning as a radio play of the famous h.g. wells novel, the war of the worlds. unfortunately, it was so realistic that people who tuned in after the beginning believed it was really happening. mass panic and frenzy ensued, and many across the nation were convinced the end was near. the next day, the new york times front page headline screamed, “radio listeners in panic, taking war drama as fact. many flee homes to escape ‘gas raid from mars.'" you just can’t buy publicity like that. the long and storied career of orson welles, who was the mastermind behind the broadcast, was born.

7. the fiji mermaid

in 1822, samuel barrett edes bought a mermaid from some japanese sailors for the exorbitant sum of $6000. the mummified remains were of a creature half-human, half-fish, with animal hair covering the human half and fish scales on the bottom. edes brought the creature back to england where it was exhibited, passed on to his son, and later sold to moses kimball in 1842. kimball, sensing a way to cash in, brought his mermaid to new york, where he showed it to p.t. barnum. barnum knew a moneymaker when he saw one. he rented the mermaid for $12.50 a week to exhibit to the public. through an elaborate scheme he devised to deceive the press and the public, barnum eventually got the fiji mermaid exhibited in the american museum of natural history. though thought to be lost in a fire, harvard university’s peabody museum of archaeology and ethnology claims to hold the original specimen. it was long ago shown to be a fake, not a mermaid at all, but a baby monkey sewn to a fish.

8. the stone age tasaday tribe

in 1971, a stone age tribe was “discovered” in the philippines by manuel elizade, jr. known as the tasaday, the tribe was small, isolated and completely ignorant of modern society. still using stone age tools, they were hunter-gatherers unfamiliar with agriculture. the news caused a sensation in the press and scientific community. unfortunately it was a lie. in 1986, closer investigations, made possible by the end of the marcos dictatorship, showed that the tasaday were not quite what they seemed. they traded with nearby farmers, wore blue jeans and t-shirts and even spoke a local dialect. it seems the tribe agreed to the hoax in return for cigarettes and free clothes.

9. the cardiff giant

in 1869, a giant was discovered on a farm. uncovered while digging for a well, the 10-foot petrified giant seemed to verify passages in genesis that talked of giants walking the earth. the discovery was a sensation, and crowds flocked to see the petrified man. it turned out that the cardiff giant was a fake. the brainchild of a binghamton, new york tobacco dealer and atheist named george hull, the cardiff giant was born from a conversation he overheard between evangelical ministers about giants roaming the earth. he commissioned a remarkably realistic statue made out of a gypsum stone that had blue veins running through it that looked similar to human veins. he had the statue buried on his cousin’s farm and had it “discovered” six months later. p.t. barnum sought to purchase the giant, but was outbid by a banker named david hannum. though attributed to barnum, it was actually hannum who, in reference to the crowds showing up to see the giant, coined the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

10. beavers on the moon

in 1835, the new york sun newspaper published a series of articles about the discoveries of astronomer john herschel, who with the aid of a new and powerful telescope was able to study the moon more closely than ever before. herschel, it was reported, observed an entire idyllic moon civilization including people with wings, unicorns, plants, and, curiously, beavers. the outrageousness of the story spoke for itself, and the paper’s rivals declared it a hoax almost immediately. however, some things never die, especially, lunar beavers. the story was reprinted in papers all over the world and a play was even staged based on the series. sensing an opportunity for extra cash, the new york sun created a separate pamphlet to sell, as well as lithographic prints of the moon civilization. it took five years for the hoax to finally be put to rest, when the author of the article, richard adams locke, finally fessed up. he claimed he was merely satirizing religion’s encroachment on the domain of science.

 

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here are 11 easy ways you can help save the planet this earth day

it's not too late. little changes can make a difference.

little changes can make a big difference it's not too late. ... our planet and the life on it—are desperate for as much data as possible, and regular folks can help them out. your kids can join in, too. vote for science-based policy yes, you can and should make ...






enoch powell and the concerning popularity of his racist speech

it's been 50 years since british shadow defense secretary enoch powell gave his "rivers of blood" speech on april 20, 1968.

it has been 50 years since british shadow defence secretary enoch powell gave his "rivers of blood" speech on april 20, 1968. to mark the half-centenary, the bbc broadcast his speech for the first ...






hbo's bill maher explains why donald trump is uniquely dangerous

maher said that trump makes him think differently about previous presidents.

on the friday's episode of hbo's "real time," bill maher succinctly explained why president donald trump is a uniquely dangerous commander in chief who merits strong opposition.

one of maher's guests, the psychologist and writer jordan peterson, asked whether the other panelists were worried that opposition to trump might pull the country apart.

"if he was just a regular republican president with republican policies, i'd say you have a point," maher said. "but what is so alarming is the assault on democratic norms."

he continued: "things like: threatening to put people in jail, threatening to put journalists in jail. wanting military parades. praising dictators. wanting to be a dictator. ... i try to impress this upon the people who are too young to remember a lot of presidents and a lot of elections how incredibly different this is from anything that came before."

"i never much liked the other republicans who were in office," maher concluded, "but i have a renewed respect them. george bush and mitt romney would not have tried to pull this s**t."

watch the clip below:

 

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cnn's anderson cooper says jeff sessions' warning could portend another 'saturday night massacre'

the washington post reported that the attorney general told the white house he may resign if rod rosenstein is fired.

attorney general jeff sessions told the white house he may have to resign if deputy attorney general rod rosenstein is fired, according to the washington post.

cnn's anderson cooper and chief political analyst gloria berger agreed the development was "fascinating."

"it's sort of a shot across the bow to the president," berger said. "what it seems to say is that if you fire him, it could cascade. not only with sessions, but perhaps within the entire department of justice."

"this reporting certainly underscores political consequences," cooper said. "it is sort of a potential saturday night massacre."

the "saturday night massacre" refers to the time president richard nixon tried to order his attorney general to fire the special prosecutor looking into watergate. both the attorney general and the deputy attorney general resigned rather than comply with the order.

watch the clip below:

 

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texas charter school asked students to list 'positive aspects' of slavery

"what the hell is this revisionist history lesson trying to achieve here?!?"

an enraged father was in disbelief when he saw his eighth grader's homework assignment. the student was given a paper with two columns to fill out by listing the "positive aspects" and the "negative aspects" of life as a slave.

the worksheet was titled: "the life of slaves: a balanced view."

"what the hell is this revisionist history lesson trying to achieve here?!?" asked father roberto livar in a furious facebook post.

roberto's child, manu, attends the san antonio, texas charter school great hearts monte vista, cnn reported.

the school has now come out and distanced itself from the assignment.

"to be clear, there is no debate about slavery. it is immoral and a crime against humanity," superintendent aaron kindel said in a statement.

he continued: "our review of the situation found this incident to be limited to one teacher at just one campus. it was a clear mistake and we sincerely apologize for the insensitive nature of this offense. we want to thank the parents who voiced their concern and brought this to our attention."

the teacher who gave the assignment has been put on leave, the school said, and the textbook it relates to is under review.

the assignment is part of a larger problem in the united states. since the civil war, there had been a concerted effort to whitewash history and obscure the horrendous human rights abuses that were ubiquitous at the start of the nation and inherent in the institution of slavery. presenting "slavery" as something with both positive and negative aspects is part of this effort to downplay the grievous misdeeds of the united states.

 

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new york times still can't admit it botched a major trump story before the election

the article said the fbi saw no clear link between trump and russia. we now know there were several.

eight days before the 2016 presidential election, the new york times ran a story throwing cold waters on burgeoning conspiracy theorists. its headline read: "investigating donald trump, f.b.i sees no clear link to russia."

as we now know, that story was deeply misleading and inaccurate. but the timeshas still not addressed how it got things so wrong. 

the story notes that the fbi had started an investigation into potential collusion between russia and the trump campaign during the summer of 2016, but it says there was no "conclusive or direct link between mr. trump and the russian government." 

but we now know the probe began with a pretty definitive link: trump campaign staffer george papadopoulos made contact with a man claiming to be a russian agent who said he had hacked emails related to hillary clinton.

the story also claims that while the russians were trying to interfere in the 2016 election, the fbi did not believe the russians were trying to help trump. however, as former fbi director james comey said in an interview with the new yorker, the bureau had already had concluded that the kremlin wanted trump to win.

dean baquet, the executive editor of the times, told the washington post"i think the headline was off but if you read the story i think it was not inaccurate based on what we knew at the time."

but the story was inaccurate, as we now know, and the timesshould be willing to own up to that fact.

the paper continually does extraordinary reporting, and it has produced many essential stories as the trump-russia saga has unfolded. utilizing anonymous sources is a difficult business, and yet the timesfrequently employs them to great effect. but errors in this kind of reporting are inevitable, and when they happen, it's the paper's responsibility to explain why they happened and what went wrong.

 

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trump campaign lashes out at dnc lawsuit alleging russian collusion

the committee has decided to take the claims about trump's connections with russia to court.

after the democratic national committee announced a lawsuit friday against wikileaks, the russian government and president donald trump's campaign alleging a conspiracy, a spokesman for the trump campaign dismissed the legal effort as a "scam."

“this is a sham lawsuit about a bogus russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent democratic party," said trump campaign manager brad parscale.

but the lawsuit actually has some precedent. the dnc sued president richard nixon's campaign in 1972 for the famous watergate break-in, and it eventually won a large cash settlement in the case.

some are hopeful, too, that the legal process demanded by the lawsuit could force the trump campaign to make some crucial campaign documents public.

many important records may have already been obtained by special counsel robert mueller, whose russia investigation not officially related to the lawsuit. but the dnc's efforts may be a path to reveal any connections between the trump campaign and russia that may otherwise remain secret.

trump continues to insist that there was no "collusion" between his campaign and russia, despite the fact that campaign aide george papadopoulos and donald trump jr. have both admitted to coordinating with alleged russian agents to obtain damaging information about hillary clinton.

 

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fox news' laura ingraham is being sued for allegedly discriminating against a former employee

it's bad news for ingraham, who recently faced an advertiser boycott.

a former employee of fox news' laura ingraham is suing the host for workplace discrimination, saying she was treated unfairly and wrongly terminated because she was pregnant.

karolina wilson, who worked as ingraham's personal assistant, told her story to the washington post.

she says that she loved her job at fox news, but ingraham's behavior toward changed when wilson got pregnant. 

according to the account she gave to the post, wilson felt ingraham's attitude toward her became "hostile" after she was pregnant. and as soon as wilson returned from maternity leave, she says she was fired. wilson says she was given three more weeks at the company, but during that time, she wasn't given any private space to use her breast pump.

wilson says the treatment violated washington, d.c.'s pregnant workers fairness act and its family and medical leave act. an attorney for ingraham denies wilson's claims.

in recent weeks, ingraham faced an advertiser boycott after she mocked parkland shooting survivor david hogg for getting rejected from a few colleges.

 

 

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big banks are raking in record profits thanks to trump's supposedly 'middle-class' tax cuts

republicans misled voters about what the bill would do.

when president donald trump and the republican party pitched their bill to overhaul the american tax code, they promised voters that their plan was aa "middle-class tax relief." as the law goes into effect, though, most americans are seeing little benefit, while the big banks are raking in record profits.

according to new analysis by the associated press, six big wall street banks made an additional $3.59 billion dollars so far this year thanks to the tax law.

financial analyst james shanahan told the ap:“if there was one significant factor quarter for the big banks that i follow, it was taxes."

this is no surprise. the tax law was designed mainly to slash taxes for business, dropping the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

the bill also cut individual tax rates, but those changes benefit the rich the most the poorest the least. meanwhile, health insurance costs continue to rise, which can easily wipe out the meager wage increases middle- and low-income people may get from the tax law.

at a time of growing inequality and the rising power of corporations, the gop decided to take the tax code and skew it even more toward those who already have a disproportionate share of wealth in the society. record profits0 from the banks are only the most recent evidence of this change.

 

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conservative pages are still making racist russian propaganda posts go viral on facebook

the images include content from banned accounts.

conservative and pro-trump facebook pages, most affiliated with fake news websites, are recycling memes created by the russian troll companies like the internet research agency (ira), which the social network has banned from its platform. media matters found 24 posts dating back to december 2017 from 11 right-wing pages that contained memes bearing watermarks from russian troll-run social media accounts. ten of these posts have earned over 20,000 interactions, with the two most popular crossing 70,000. these 28 posts appear to be russian propaganda because they contained watermarks of logos from russian troll-run accounts like south united, most of which pushed racist and anti-immigrant propaganda.

propaganda from the russian troll account secured borders, which has used violent language to push anti-immigration misinformation related to illegal voting, crime, and welfare, has showed up on conservative pages multiple times. memes from two other anti-immigration russian troll accounts, stop all invaders and heart of texas, have also been recently reposted by conservative pages. a pro-gun meme from heart of texas was posted by the blue badge-verified page chicks on the right and by the page cold dead hands which, according to its “about” section, pertains to a pro-gun texas-based nonprofit group. propaganda from the pro-confederate russian account south united has also been reposted by conservative facebook pages with memes featuring the confederate flag. other russian troll accounts pushed on facebook include the pro-gun account defend the 2nd, a law enforcement account called back the badge, and a conservative account being patriotic.

most pages posting such russian propaganda are connected to or run by fake news and hyperpartisan sites. they include:

 

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roger stone says trump treats michael cohen like 'garbage'

a new report shows that the president's attorney may have good reason to turn against him.

roger stone said president donald trump treats his attorney michael cohen like "garbage," according to a new report from the new york times. the report says that cohen and trump have a much more unpleasant relationship than one might assume, suggesting that the attorney may have good reason to turn on the president.

stone is not the only person making such claims. the times  reporters said six people described a troubled relationship between the two men.

over their years-long professional relationship, trump has "treated mr. cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired," the report says.

this information is important because it could have significant legal consequences for the president. 

last week, cohen's office was raided by federal agents, and it has been reported that he is now under criminal investigation. if investigators find evidence of wrongdoing by cohen, they may use the threat of jail time to persuade him to become a witness in any potential case against the president.

were cohen completely loyal to the president, trump would have less to worry about. but if there's any lingering resentment from a history of mistreatment between the two, all bets are off.

given that some of the president'sadvisers are telling him to be concerned that cohen might flip, this seems like a live possibility. don't be surprised if in the coming weeks or months cohen joins the ranks of those who have pled guilty and become cooperators with special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation.

 

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hbo's bill maher explains why donald trump is uniquely dangerous

maher said that trump makes him think differently about previous presidents.

on the friday's episode of hbo's "real time," bill maher succinctly explained why president donald trump is a uniquely dangerous commander in chief who merits strong opposition.

one of maher's guests, the psychologist and writer jordan peterson, asked whether the other panelists were worried that opposition to trump might pull the country apart.

"if he was just a regular republican president with republican policies, i'd say you have a point," maher said. "but what is so alarming is the assault on democratic norms."

he continued: "things like: threatening to put people in jail, threatening to put journalists in jail. wanting military parades. praising dictators. wanting to be a dictator. ... i try to impress this upon the people who are too young to remember a lot of presidents and a lot of elections how incredibly different this is from anything that came before."

"i never much liked the other republicans who were in office," maher concluded, "but i have a renewed respect them. george bush and mitt romney would not have tried to pull this s**t."

watch the clip below:

 

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cnn's anderson cooper says jeff sessions' warning could portend another 'saturday night massacre'

the washington post reported that the attorney general told the white house he may resign if rod rosenstein is fired.

attorney general jeff sessions told the white house he may have to resign if deputy attorney general rod rosenstein is fired, according to the washington post.

cnn's anderson cooper and chief political analyst gloria berger agreed the development was "fascinating."

"it's sort of a shot across the bow to the president," berger said. "what it seems to say is that if you fire him, it could cascade. not only with sessions, but perhaps within the entire department of justice."

"this reporting certainly underscores political consequences," cooper said. "it is sort of a potential saturday night massacre."

the "saturday night massacre" refers to the time president richard nixon tried to order his attorney general to fire the special prosecutor looking into watergate. both the attorney general and the deputy attorney general resigned rather than comply with the order.

watch the clip below:

 

related stories






texas charter school asked students to list 'positive aspects' of slavery

"what the hell is this revisionist history lesson trying to achieve here?!?"

an enraged father was in disbelief when he saw his eighth grader's homework assignment. the student was given a paper with two columns to fill out by listing the "positive aspects" and the "negative aspects" of life as a slave.

the worksheet was titled: "the life of slaves: a balanced view."

"what the hell is this revisionist history lesson trying to achieve here?!?" asked father roberto livar in a furious facebook post.

roberto's child, manu, attends the san antonio, texas charter school great hearts monte vista, cnn reported.

the school has now come out and distanced itself from the assignment.

"to be clear, there is no debate about slavery. it is immoral and a crime against humanity," superintendent aaron kindel said in a statement.

he continued: "our review of the situation found this incident to be limited to one teacher at just one campus. it was a clear mistake and we sincerely apologize for the insensitive nature of this offense. we want to thank the parents who voiced their concern and brought this to our attention."

the teacher who gave the assignment has been put on leave, the school said, and the textbook it relates to is under review.

the assignment is part of a larger problem in the united states. since the civil war, there had been a concerted effort to whitewash history and obscure the horrendous human rights abuses that were ubiquitous at the start of the nation and inherent in the institution of slavery. presenting "slavery" as something with both positive and negative aspects is part of this effort to downplay the grievous misdeeds of the united states.

 

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the march for science is being transformed by indigenous knowledge

this year’s march may be smaller, but the movement of scientists who are advocating for scientific integrity is growing.

the march for science this year is set for april 14. last year’s march drew tens of thousands who marched to protest the trump administration’s war on science. 

since then, a corresponding march for indigenous science has grown into a burgeoning movement of its own, one aimed at increasing the visibility of indigenous science and traditional ecological knowledge as valid and valuable forms of scientific knowledge.

“indigenous science holds a wealth of knowledge and is a powerful paradigm by which we understand our place in the living world. it is essential to the problems we face today and yet has been historically marginalized by the scientific community,” plant ecologist robin kimmerer (potawatomi) said in a statement about last year's march.

following the success of the march for science, indigenous organizers began “working to transform the march to a movement,” ethnobotanist rosalyn lapier (blackfeet/métis), and chairperson of the national march for science, said.

lapier, kimmerer, scholar-activist kyle powys whyte (potawatomi), and ecologist melissa nelson (anishinaabe) co-authored a declaration to endorse the march for science while at the same time celebrating indigenous science as crucial to answering scientific questions.

it is a powerful document, and well over 1,800 native american and indigenous scientists, scholars, and their allies added their endorsements to the declaration. the document declares that original peoples have long memories, centuries-old wisdom, and deep knowledge of this land, and their knowledge is an important form of empirical scientific inquiry that’s fundamental to the well-being of people and planet.

“i would like to see the march for indigenous science serve as a national scale movement that recognizes native people's efforts over decades to reform u.s. sciences and empower indigenous sciences,” said whyte. “the movement can articulate a national scale agenda that includes many different needed efforts for increasing diversity in the sciences, from creating safe places to practice indigenous sciences to energizing young indigenous persons to work in science fields.”  

the declaration joined other indigenous science organizations that have endorsed and officially partnered with the march for science, including the american indian science and engineering society, the national coalition of native american language schools and programs, and sacnas (society advancing chicanos/hispanics and native americans in science).

these organizations, and the canadian-based evidence for democracy, have gone on to mobilize indigenous participation in the march across north america.

ecologist corey welch (northern cheyenne), a sacnas board member, is speaking at the national march in washington, d.c.

“indigenous peoples were always scientists,” welch said. “their lives depended on it. they knew what plants to eat, how to harvest game, and other practices that continue on today.”

welch said that although some tribes have lost these practices, “they continue on in memories and in stories.”

there are many cases in which traditional practices, informed by millennium of traditional ecological knowledge, have contributed to modern scientific knowledge, said welch.

the deadly hantavirus outbreak in 1993 in the four corners region of the southwestern united states provides one example of this, welch said. that outbreak had perplexed the scientists searching for the origin of the virus. their answer finally came from navajo elders who had predicted the outbreak based on weather patterns.

the elders explained that similar outbreaks in 1913 and 1933-34 had followed a period of heavy rains and then bumper crops of pinyon pine nuts. the community stored the pinyons in their homes and hogans, which attracted deer mice infected with the virus. the elders and traditional medicine people warned people to isolate their food supplies, and to burn any clothing exposed to mouse feces and urine.

welch also described a tradition of tribes in the puget sound region of washington state returning salmon bones to their streams. when scientists learned about the practice, they discovered that salmon carcasses release nitrogen, needed to improve salmon habitat.

“the carcass of one salmon infuses a creek with nitrogen 100 meters in both directions,” welch said.

today, biologists return salmon bones to streams they are preparing for the reintroduction of salmon.

tribal nations in western washington have also pinpointed for scientists areas that have experienced earthquakes and landslides in the distant past, conveyed to them through the oral traditions of their ancestors, passed down for generations.

and these are just a few examples.

sacnas has arranged for a number of native and indigenous speakers at satellite marches across the country, all committed to engaging the power of both western and indigenous science.

astrophysicist ximena cid (yaqui) will speak in los angeles. environmental scientist marco hatch (samish) is speaking in seattle. neuroscientist micah jasey savin (lakota) will give a talk in san diego. molecular geneticist matt anderson (tsalagi or cherokee) is yet another speaker.

more than a million scientists and supporters around the world joined the march for science in 2017. it was a celebration of science, but its genesis began with concerns raised by scientists—many of whom were scrambling to archive scientific data before the trump administration could scrub it from government websites—about the change in public policies to discredit scientific consensus and restrict scientific discovery.

this year’s march may be smaller, but the movement of scientists who are advocating for scientific integrity is growing.

the success of last year’s march has laid the groundwork for scientists to mobilize voter registration, raise awareness through their vote for science initiative, fund grassroots science advocates with a community grants program, and organize a summit for science advocates, organizers, and communicators, lapier said.

editor's note: a previous version of this article stated that rosalyn lapier is speaking at the national march in washington, d.c. this is incorrect. 

 

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earth day is a reminder that humans have the power to change our planet

we're entering a new epoch.

for nearly 50 years, earth day has provided an opportunity for people across the globe to come together and rally in support of the natural world. while the specific challenges have varied, the goal has remained more or less the same: to protect the rich, biological world that the current generation has inherited from being overwhelmed by the influences of humanity.

while there have been many notable successes since this day of celebration began in 1970, the overall trajectory has not been uplifting.

today you can travel to the furthest part of the arctic ocean, to the highest point of the caucasus mountains, to the remotest spot in the australian outback and find the unmistakable signs of human activity. chemical and industrial traces are now present in every pinch of soil and every drop of water. transported by high-altitude atmospheric winds, millennia-old patterns of precipitation, and the tire treads of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, the imprints of humanity reach all corners of earth.

these kinds of global impacts demand a fundamental shift in the relationship between humans and the surrounding world. despite the efforts of those who have marched passionately and religiously on earth day, we live in the age when “pristine nature” has permanently blinked out of existence.

awesome powers

many are suggesting that humanity should mark this moment by declaring that the planet has entered the new epoch of the anthropocene. the fact that our species has left its mark in every remote bay, on every mountaintop, and across every continent is certainly a cause for reflection. but it might also be seen as a dubious form of branding to celebrate the mess our species has created by naming the next epoch in our honor.

more urgent than getting the name right, however, is the need to think very carefully about where to head from here. for the most noteworthy aspect of the emerging epoch is not the fact that human influence has reached every corner of the entire planet. it is the fact that, as earth day approaches 50, technologies are coming online with unprecedented capacity to remake the natural world.

nanotechnology, synthetic biology and climate engineering have the potential to transform an already tainted planet into an increasingly synthetic whole. such powerful technologies do not just mark a new period in earth’s ongoing history. they create the real possibility of what i call a “synthetic age.” from the atom to the atmosphere, key planetary processes have the potential to be reconfigured by earth’s most audacious species.

by shrinking common materials down to the scale of billionths of a meter, nanotechnologists can make available new forms of matter with highly unusual and extremely valuable properties. using new techniques for editing and assembling dna, synthetic biologists can fabricate whole genomes, which they can insert into bacterial hosts to hijack their operation. ecosystem engineers are on the point of redesigning targeted species by sending genetic traits through wild populations, using tools known as gene drives. climate engineers are preparing to field test technologies that can reduce the amount of short-wave solar radiation entering the atmosphere to cool global temperatures.

what makes these sorts of technologies and practices different from anything that has come before is not how far they reach geographically, but how deeply they go “metabolically.” they mark the beginning of a new period of earth’s history in which humanity starts to take control of the processes responsible for giving the planet its shape. the biological, geological and atmospheric forces that have sculpted the world over countless epochs start to become the products of human endeavor. responsibility for some of the formative processes of the biosphere falls increasingly into human hands.

de-extinction and out-designing evolution

take the prospect of recreating the genomes of extinct species as an example.

the gene-reading techniques developed during the human genome project, the gene-synthesis methods being refined at places like the j. craig venter institute, and the genome-editing practices now available through crispr-cas9 are together on the cusp of making it possible to recreate close proxies of the genomes of species long ago extinguished from the earth.

in mammals, it may not be long before a rebuilt genome can be inserted into the evacuated nucleus of an egg cell from a related species and implanted into the womb of a surrogate parent. a primitive version of such a technology was used for the (extinct) pyrenean ibex in 2003 leading to the mildly disconcerting occurrence of the birth of the world’s first extinct mammal.

in the event, the celebration of the resurrected ibex was cut short by lung deformities, which led to its death within minutes. it is not yet clear whether these types of genetic imperfections can be avoided in future. some are optimistic that they can. if the technical obstacles are overcome, a genetically manipulated pyrenean ibex or even a whole new ibex – call it synthetic ibex version 2.0 – could be fashioned from the genes of the extinct animal to occupy the niche that had been left behind.

if de-extinction becomes possible, phenomena once uniquely responsible for shaping the biological world would move out of the natural realm and into the human domain. there would be a genuine alternative to the processes of inheritance, mutation, genetic drift, reproductive isolation and natural selection that were the grist for darwin’s evolutionary mill. as harvard chemist george whitesides said, it would be “a marvelous challenge to see if we can out-design evolution.”

important choices

earth day’s annual celebration of the natural world provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on such practices and to note how they put the whole idea of “nature” into question. it is not just that no part of the natural world will be untouched anymore. the natural world – and the processes that have formed it – might increasingly be replaced by synthetic substitutes.

the exact contours of this synthetic age are far from determined. there is still the opportunity to pause and to decide that certain physical, biological and atmospheric processes should remain free of human design. some species might be deliberately left to continue their evolutionary odyssey unmolested. some landscapes might be selected to remain entirely in the hands of ecological and entropic forces.

so let’s not miss a unique opportunity. on this earth day, recognition of the dawning of a new epoch is appropriate. but it is important not because the planet’s fate has already been sealed. it is important precisely because it provides an opportunity for a more conscious and self-reflective decision about the world humanity will choose to create.

the conversation 

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watch an ohio racist malfunction when reporter asks which side won the civil war

history is no friend to racists appealing to nationalism.

an ohio man apparently decided his collection of lawn jockey ornaments wasn’t racist enough, so he placed afro wigs on them and set them among his confederate flag displays.

louie jones jr. lives in the lindale home with his father, and he said the display has been up for years without complaint, reported wxix-tv.

the lawn jockeys are joined by a black-faced figurine eating a slice of watermelon and a dark-skinned mannequin with an afro wig and large, garishly painted red lips.

“in no way, shape, or form should anybody think that it’s racist,” jones insisted.

the homeowner’s friend tammy helped him explain the demonstration, which she told fox 19 reporter maytal levi had started with the confederate flags and had grown to include the racist caricatures.

“they went up, a few of them at one time, and then a couple more were added, but the flags have always flown,” tammy said. “that’s for our country.”

jones said he was proud to display numerous confederate flags, which he calls the “rebel flag,” alongside the lawn jockeys and a single u.s. flag.

“it’s not racist, it’s for the war that we won, you know,” jones said.

tammy clarified that her friend meant the civil war, and the tv reporter seemed to genuinely confuse jones when she asked if he believed the north or south had won the civil war.

“we, as in the north,” jones said, after a pause, and then turned to stare at passing traffic.

then it was the tv reporter’s turn to be confused.

“that flag would be the wrong flag to fly,” the reporter said.

tammy quickly interjected.

“um, in some people’s eyes,” tammy said.

ohio remained with the union during the civil war, and clermont county, where jones lives, contains 33 historical sites on a self-guided freedom trail that includes 19 approved to the national underground railroad network to freedom.

the village of lindale is about a five-minute drive from the birthplace of ulysses grant, the union general who negotiated the confederate surrender and was later elected 18th president.

tammy explained that the lawn jockey ornaments were intended to honor “the first blacks that played the baseball game,” and then she tried to explain the mannequin.

“like, the mother of the baseball players, basically,” tammy said.

jones said his family has been threatened over the display, but he had little explanation to anyone who believes he hates black people.

“everybody hates everybody, you know?” jones said. “it just depends on what you hate and what you like. it ain’t got nothing to do with race, we ain’t racial.”

 

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