Scientists Are Running For Office Because They ‘Want Reality to Be Fact-Based’

Apr 25, 2017

By Maddie Stone

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The first time Philip Stoddard, a professor of biology at Florida International University, ran for mayor of South Miami, he admits he had no idea what he was doing.

“My neighbors tricked me into it,” Stoddard, a thin man with graying hair and a matter-of-fact way of speaking, told Gizmodo. “I was invited over to someone’s house to find out who the candidate would be, to run against the ten year incumbent. And I discovered it was me.”

“I had no idea how to run a campaign,” he added.

But Stoddard soon learned that what he lacked in political experience he made up for in other ways. He studied hard and was quick to master new skills. Years of teaching college kids helped him to break down complex topics for lay audiences, and build stories out of disparate information. Most of all, he impressed would-be voters with his dogged, almost naive, commitment to facts.

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27 comments on “Scientists Are Running For Office Because They ‘Want Reality to Be Fact-Based’

  • Following on from the “March for Science”, we now have a “March for Climate and environment”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39759505

    Thousands of people have taken part in protests around the US against the Trump administration’s attitude towards climate change.

    The People’s Climate March was timed to coincide with the symbolic 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

    In Washington, a sea of protesters marched from Congress to the Washington Monument past the White House.

    However, Mr Trump was not there. Instead, he was marking the milestone 100 days at a rally in Pennsylvania.

    Organisers of the march are critical of Mr Trump’s attitude towards climate change.

    Mr Trump has called climate change a hoax, and has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

    They are also angry with the rollback of Obama-era environmental protections.

    Reverend Leo Woodberry, of South Carolina, told a press conference ahead of the march: “We’re going to rise up and let them know that we’re sick and tired of seeing our children die of asthma.

    “We’re sick and tired of seeing people with cancer because of coal ash ponds. We’re sick and tired of seeing sea-level rise.”

    Celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio and former Vice President Al Gore, were expected to march as well.

    The sweltering heat has not deterred them.
    Their signs read “The seas are rising and so are we“;
    “Make America think again”; and “There is no planet B.”




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  • Meanwhile, “out of touch with reality”, Trump has gone off to bask in his little delusion bubble, surrounded by his gullible ignoramus cheerleaders, while railing against critics, misrepresenting protesters, and babbling nonsense about “fake news”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39760283

    US President Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on the media during a rally marking 100 days in office.

    He told supporters in Pennsylvania that he was keeping “one promise after another”, dismissing criticism as “fake news” by “out of touch” journalists.

    Mr Trump decided to skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner – the first US leader to miss the event since an injured Ronald Reagan in 1981.

    Mr Trump’s approval ratings hover at around the 40% mark – believed to be lower than any other president at the 100-day marker.

    At the rally in Harrisburg, the president said the media should be given “a big, fat, failing grade” over their coverage of his achievements during his first 100 days and told the cheering crowd he was “thrilled to be more than 100 miles from Washington”.

    Ah! – The self-deluding wonders of psychological projection and Dunning-Kruger self-evaluations!

    He quipped that at the same time “a large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling themselves” at the correspondents’ dinner “that will be very boring”.

    I realise that Trump finds understanding the reality of complex issues “boring”, so he does not bother studying them! –
    .. . . Much easier to be spoon fed simplistic nonsense from Faux and Dimbart! – It saves all that “tedious thinking activity”, which limits time available for playing golf and socialising!

    Addressing the journalists and celebrities at the dinner in Washington, **Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason defended his profession, saying it was “our job to report on facts, and to hold leaders accountable”.

    A concept and process which seems alien to Trump and his entourage of yes-men with their “alternative facts” and denials of professional expertise and scientific evidence!



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  • He’s a cowardly POS Trump isn’t he? Too scared of getting booed by the crowd to pitch the first baseball, too vain and pompous to sit through the roasting he knew would be coming his way at the WH correspondent’s dinner. A scared, stupid, low information, sociopathic, egotistical rich kid who’s so far out of his depth doing this job. I’m sure at least some of his aides must have told him how bad he’d look if he chickened out of the two events above but to no avail it seems. The cowardly lion fake president.



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  • This looks like more knee-jerk anti-environmental bravado and climate change denial hype, for Trump’s gullible supporters and disreputable sponsors.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39753223

    Trump executive order aims to allow Arctic drilling _ 28 April 2017

    Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at reducing restrictions on oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic in order to “unleash American energy”.

    The US president said it would create “thousands and thousands” of jobs, despite a downturn in the oil market.

    It could undo a ban put in place by Barack Obama in order to protect swathes of the ocean from development.

    As he signed the order, called the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, Mr Trump said: “Our country’s blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, but the federal government has kept 94% of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production.

    “This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.”

    It is debatable how much income might be generated by a reversal of Mr Obama’s order. Worldwide prices for oil have dropped in recent years, with a review by news agency Reuters finding the amount of money oil companies spent in the central Gulf of Mexico’s annual lease sale dropped by more than 75% between 2012 and 2017.

    Meanwhile, environmental groups have already said they will challenge Mr Trump.

    David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a non-profit conservation group, said: “The Trump administration’s hasty move today toward expanding offshore oil drilling … defies market realities and is as reckless as it is unnecessary.”

    It also looks like more fantasy “Trumponomics” rather than economics!

    Wrecking the climate and probably wrecking a few fishing industries as well, in support of more stranded assets of obsolete fossil carbon burners, makes no economic sense!



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  • Cowardly Lion (#5)

    Not really. The message of the movie The Wizard of OZ, opposed to the book, was that the lion, scarecrow, tin-man, already possessed the qualities they thought they lacked. (The rest was spot on, as always, A.S.)

    Trump will remain unaffected by the demonstrations of outrage over his anti climate-science positions and attempted legislation; he is not an enlightened or reasonable man, is recalcitrant and stupid, a bad, villainous man, and, along with his cabinet, has a mania for short term profits. They are, as I said, monsters – all of them. And these are, as Hedges said, agents of destruction. One march won’t do it, or two or three.



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  • P.S. I heard that Trump reads the comments on this site regularly, so maybe he is teachable and will get his act together. He tweeted, this morning, at 5:00am, the following:

    Donald J. Trump‏
    @realDonaldTrump

    …healthcare plan is on its way. Will have much lower premiums & deductibles while at the same time taking care of pre-existing conditions! Dawkins site / cfi has gotten to me. That Arkrid really lays it on thick, and Alan4D’s facts are indisputable. I also agree with Dan about innate qualities.

    (Kidding. —Dan)



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  • Dan #8
    Apr 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Trump will remain unaffected by the demonstrations of outrage over his anti climate-science positions and attempted legislation; he is not an enlightened or reasonable man, is recalcitrant and stupid, a bad, villainous man,

    Trump may be unaffected, but the congress which has to approve his budgets and which has members coming up for re-election, may not be so unaffected!! 🙂

    and, along with his cabinet, has a mania for short term profits.

    Congressmen in the USA of Trump, could well take their potential personal unemployment seriously!



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  • Alan4discussion #9

    Apr 30, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    …congress which has to approve his budgets and which has members coming up for re-election, may not be so unaffected!!

    Hmm. That’s true, Alan. But how many Republicans were assumed to be out there in the march? three? It’s not like the health care issue, is it? I personally have met precisely zero Republicans who even cared whether climate change was man-made. And I have talked to dozens of Republicans. Fatalists, thick, indoctrinated, angry, impervious, as stubborn as unconscious cattle, a bunch of asses…. Unable to learn anything from what they regard as “the other side.”



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  • Alan4discussion #3
    Apr 30, 2017 at 7:59 am

    US President Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on the media during a rally marking 100 days in office.

    One of the memorable themes of the campaign year was whether to take Trump seriously but not literally or literally but not seriously. The question at the root of this was does he actually believe his own lies and is therefore delusional or are they quite deliberate malicious falsehoods. It’s interesting as regards his behaviour to the press that we are now hearing multiple reports that behind the scenes it’s all actually quite cordial with the news outlets he lambasts whenever he’s on camera. In other words it’s purely for his base and he lies quite deliberately to the American people and the people of the world.

    I could actually find it slightly more forgiveable if it were the other way round. A mentally ill person is to be pitied and hopefully treated but it seems we are seeing a man who has not the slightest qualm about lying with the utmost deliberation to the people whose trust he is supposed to hold. As such we can now be sure that there is, and never will be, any reason to believe anything he ever says in future.

    I think there is some evidence now that the media have taken this on board a bit and are ceasing to pay quite as much attention to every tweet and every bizarre statement. It is more or less accepted that it is pointless looking for any truths in what Trump says because those are buried like needles in a haystack.

    The enormous scale of Trump’s lying, and exactly what it stems from, has baffled and confused us all for a long time now although in a way whether it’s delusional or deliberate perhaps makes little difference. As it now seems to be quite deliberate we are in the extraordinary position of having perhaps the least trustworthy person on the planet in the most powerful position on it.

    Previous presidents have obviously varied in their competence to a considerable degree. Previous presidents have also varied in their honesty. Carter perhaps towards the top of that latter list in modern times and Nixon and George W Bush at the bottom of it. I think it unlikely we will ever again see someone who scores zero on both counts though but still got elected.

    I have finally achieved some sort of closure to the maelstrom of bafflement and confusion that Trump has engendered in most of us. When you look back over his business career, the multiple failures and litigations, the campaign of continual promises but zero substance and now the first 100 days of almost complete ineffectuality in office the answer becomes more clear. Trump is only good, and indeed at this he is very good, at just one thing. Lying about how good he is. No matter how poor the results he just tells you they were great. If those hearing that are of sufficiently low intellect and low information then they don’t bother to find out, or perhaps even want to know, what the truth is.

    The problem this engenders in rational people is we find it very hard to understand how anyone could lie so blatantly about things that are public knowledge. It’s such an alien behaviour to honest people is does weird things to our heads. We look for hidden meanings and deeper truths but of course there are none to be found. We look for rational explanations for irrational behaviour but again there are none to be found. He is simply a compulsive and pathological liar and there is little more to be said.

    I did find it interesting in my researches into this sort of behaviour that there is evidence that lying and getting away with it or profiting from it acts on the brain somewhat like an endorphin or a drug. It becomes addictive and then the person needs to do it more and more often and about bigger things. The bigger the lie the greater the high and it may be that Trump now needs it so badly he can no longer tell the truth about anything or perhaps even want to.

    The extraordinary conclusion from this is that if posed any question, the answer to which will neither hurt him unduly or profit him unduly then Trump may actually choose to deliberately lie to trigger the portion of his brain that is addicted to doing this and that we might have a better chance of knowing the correct answer if we take the opposite of what he says. That is profoundly scary with a person in a position of such power but it seems that this is what we are stuck with for the next four years.



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  • I wouldn’t trust a politician that didn’t lie sometimes.

    Four years, Arkrid! Four! You make it sound like it’s right over that little hill down yonder.



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #11
    Apr 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    One of the memorable themes of the campaign year was whether to take Trump seriously but not literally or literally but not seriously.
    The question at the root of this was does he actually believe his own lies and is therefore delusional or are they quite deliberate malicious falsehoods.

    I think it is much simpler than that!
    He simply does not care if statements are true, providing he sees them as serving his own interests!

    If it serves his interests in manipulating the current audience he sees it as “true” – for the present! Anything which debunks his claims, he labels false!
    Any suggestions of his, he labels “great”, and anyone who goes along with his objectives and preconceptions, he labels “good” and “talented”!

    People who are gullible enough to believe this crap, he gathers into cheering crowds at rallies and pretends they represent the population at large!

    With the White House now filled with bought stooges, corrupt millionaires, Trump family members, and gross incompetents as departmental heads, I wonder how that “Swamp-Draining” is getting along? 🙂
    It looks like so much swamp has been drained into Trump’s administration, that the White House is now filled to capacity and is overflowing with “swamp”, – to such an extent that some bogged down cabinet members are spilling out and being replaced, under the watchful eyes of the non-fake media! 🙂



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  • The corporate media sucks!! It’s virtually bankrupt. Ha-ha. It really is part of the problem. (I like Maddow and a few others.) I just saw Pence on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. I wouldn’t want to be Chuck Todd. That guy has no personality, no character, no ability to ask tough questions. He’s a nothing. Perhaps – to be fair – he’s constrained. They’re all constrained.

    I felt like hitting my TV with a baseball bat.

    Todd: VP Pence, why doesn’t Trump reach out more to people who didn’t vote for him?” (Softball question, of course.)

    Pence: I think he does….. (Next prepared question.)

    Todd: What about the deficit? These tax proposals….

    Pence: We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world bla bla bla (Todd then tries to seem persistent, asks a boring little follow-up.)

    Todd: But won’t it raise the deficit? (Who cares about the F-ink deficit, Todd? Ask him a real question! Grill the phony asshole!)

    Pence: Well maybe in the short term, but we really need to grow this economy bla bla bla

    Todd: Thank you, Mr VP.

    Pence: My pleasure.



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  • The problem with the press in the USA is like everything else it’s all about ratings, money and access. The white house press corps are terrified of being banned so they don’t ask tough questions. The tv news programs want the guests to keep coming back for more interviews. Add in the fact that everything in the USA is violently partisan and so right wing programs don’t ask republican guests anything hard and similar with left wing programs like MSNBC for Democrat guests.

    In the UK we have a few things that differentiate us from American media. Our BBC is funded from tv licenses that householders have to buy to legally watch television rather than advertising so it is not dependent on ratings or adverts of which it has none. Yes, that really means tv programs with zero ad breaks. Secondly the politics here is more or less all about the issues rather than partisanship. Religion is also simply not an issue and you all know I’ve made the case many times that religion is at the root of the partisanship that corrupts American politics. I might also suggest that we have a history of British tv interviewers who hold people’s feet to the fire and don’t let them just slide out of answering tough questions.

    Robin Day was a famous interviewer of the 1950s though 1980s who became known as the Grand Inquisitor. David Frost might be better known to Americans because of his famous Nixon interview. Nowadays we have Jeremy Paxman. In 1997 he asked the former Secretary of State, and soon to be leader of the Conservative party, Michael Howard, the same question 12 times in succession as Howard tried to slide round answering it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwlsd8RAoqI

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/paxmans-most-combative-interviews-watch-3479885

    We also have Prime Ministers question time every week in parliament where the leader of the country has to stand and get grilled by the opposition on camera and explain himself. The American president in comparison is barely accountable for his actions either politically, legally or in the media.

    Americans have a mantra about how they lead the world with their shining light of democracy. The greatest democracy the world has ever seen. In truth America barely has a functioning democracy by other country’s standards. It’s more an autocracy or at best a plutocracy than a democracy. It’s infested and corrupted by religion, money, partisanship and bat shit crazy legislators and the media which actually once did have a spine many years ago is now almost totally ineffectual at holding politicians to account.



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  • Arkrid

    “…religion is at the root of the partisanship that corrupts American politics.”

    Not so sure about that. Could you elaborate on that? (“Partisanship” is not always a bad thing either.)



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #15 Add in the fact that everything in the USA is
    violently partisan and so right wing programs don’t ask republican
    guests anything hard and similar with left wing programs like MSNBC
    for Democrat guests.

    I don’t have possibility to watch their program but if this is so, it doesn’t surprise me. Members of right wing politics are united in their ill agenda (and wheels of propaganda have to rotate 😉 … there are lots and lots of brains to wash and to shed fear around). Seems to me taht left wing members are are not so partisan, and are prone to understandings with others.
    It would be stupid to speak of croatian tv stations (national which is paid from housholds and a few privates) because this is a totalitarian state and almost all tv program is brainwashing and in service of nationalism, (read nazism) and church. But I watch more RAI (Italian national tv) and although they are financed from tv licence that housholdes pay for, thay also have more and more fights (in programs) to have an clear answer from a politician (but it is still far, far less in the hands of politics than croatian tv) . I am glad that BBC is still nurture this tradition of common sense to insist on answers (and that political system is alowing them to do so 🙂 ).

    I am angry that politicians act more and more as they have no responsibilities toward people. Well, they act that way because they think they do not answer to population, right? But our (population) common sense is telling us “answer me because I have right to know since I am paying your salary. You are my employee, and you can not avoid answers. And if you think you do not have to answer and be transparent about your acts, than I have to release (sorry do not know correct word) you from this job you are supose to do for me”.

    Of course common sense doesn’t have chance in this. Politicians are often (if not always) paid from someone else (some mogul) in which business they also have a part. I often think that there must be created law that if politicians avoid ansvers or lie to population they would be released form their job imediately (not after 4 years or if their boss tell them to go) and would be banned from any jobs in politics for the rest of their lives, and there would have to be some prison sentance imposed for that. Any steps in legal and social system they have acheived by lying would have to be aborted, and similar. Because they are making private decisions on whole society. Of course politicians are not the ones to make those laws … it is hard to expect from the people within the system to change the system. 🙁



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  • Dan #16
    May 1, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Arkrid

    “…religion is at the root of the partisanship that corrupts American politics.”

    Not so sure about that. Could you elaborate on that?

    I have done, and at length, several times in the past so no, not again from scratch. Given how this site is organised I couldn’t tell you where to look though.



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  • The word is out. Arctic summer sea ice projected to be gone in 20 years. Trump is a damned fool, has his head up his ass. Christ-loving Pence is about as honest as Trump and cares only about short-term corporate profits. I hate this administration with its agents of destruction, and I would just love to see the look on a Trump supporter’s face if his kid with a “pre-existing”, life-threatening condition were to lose his health insurance. (Then I’d like him get the insurance his child needs. But not after he votes for a Democrat.) The same satisfaction as seeing a matador get gored or a sadistic kid get his hand bitten by the animal he is tormenting, etc. Pathetic country.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/21/arctic-will-be-ice-free-in-summer-next-year

    “Why should we be concerned about an Arctic that is free of ice in summer?”

    “People tend to think of an ice-free Arctic in summer in terms of it merely being a symbol of global change. Things happen, they say. In fact, the impact will be profound and will effect the whole planet and its population. One key effect will be albedo feedback. Sea ice reflects about 50% of the solar radiation it receives back into space. By contrast, water reflects less than 10%. So if you replace ice with water, which is darker, much more solar heat will be absorbed by the ocean and the planet will heat up even more rapidly than it is doing at present.”



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  • Arkrid/Dan

    Clicking on a user’s name above any of their comments will bring up all their past posts.

    Alternatively, for a more targeted search, your best bet is probably the Google site search facility – to search this site for all posts by Arkrid Sandwich that contain the words religion and partisanship, just enter the following into your web browser:

    site:www.richarddawkins.net “Arkrid Sandwich” religion partisanship

    Hope that helps.

    The mods



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  • He seems not too bad. But these organizations – and I contribute to some of them – are always asking for money, and never seem to accomplish anything on a large scale. Am I wrong? There are exceptions. I give to the ACLU and Amnesty International and to The Disabled Veterans Association, and they need the funds and they get things done (I think); in general I worry that I am just throwing my money away. I didn’t give a dime to the DNC and they were relentless. (CFI may ultimately be an exception too; I hope so, but how are we to know? I just got my new card and pen, btw!) The problem with contributions – and this applies to paying taxes too – is that the money goes “up the arm and out the ear,” as Mailer once said. We have no way of knowing where and how the funds are spent. He suggested a tax for corporations that goes directly to the needy and that can be verified beyond a doubt; this may be agreeable to some of these super-rich folk; maybe some of these shame-ridden Christians will be open to a tax like that and be able to sleep a little easier at night, and feel a little less dread about meeting their maker too. (I am assuming that a lot of these people do actually worry about that.)

    Reagan seems not too bad at all; he seems to be on the right side of most social issues, but I don’t know much about the man. He may be “fiscally conservative”, or may not be.

    I’m not sending the Freedom from Religion foundation any money.

    What we need, in addition to the lesser problem of a clear idea of where our contributions are going, is massive resistance, lawsuits galore, and a federal judge or two or three to challenge this religious “liberty” order; we need someone to go through the Constitution with a fine tooth comb if need be and stop this madness ASAP.

    It’s almost too much to bear.



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  • Reality and the physics of the Universe is not impressed with Trump climate change denials or Trumponomics!

    However there seems to be one argument which could persuade Trump that climate change and rising seas are real, but he is unlikely to live long enough to see it!

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-climate-change-mar-a-lago-florida-flooded-sea-level-rise-global-warming-winter-white-a7677596.html

    Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida estate to be submerged by rising sea levels due to climate change

    Experts presented evidence at Senate hearing

    Donald Trump once said climate change was a “hoax” invented by the Chinese but the phenomenon could be responsible for flooding his own Florida properties.

    Environmental experts lined up to testify at a senate hearing on climate change this week, just four miles from Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, arguing that water could rise so high by the end of the century that the President’s own resorts would be damaged.

    According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the President’s so-called Winter White House would be partially submerged if sea levels rose by three feet in the next 83 years.

    “Today we sit at ground zero of the impacts of climate change in the US,” said Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

    His state has already suffered multiple cases of serious flooding.

    “And while there are still some who continue to deny climate change is real, South Florida offers proof that it is real and it’s an issue we’re going to be grappling with for decades to come.”

    Data from NOAA would not just affect the President, but millions of residents who live along the east coast as sea levels could rise by as much as five feet.

    A recent study published in journal Nature found that sea levels could rise by six feet by 2100 due to ice melting in the Antartic, and the President’s golf course at Doral, Florida, and several of his Sunny Isles Beach properties – along with two million homes – would be underwater.

    The studies come as the newly-appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has rolled back former President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants, ending the former administration’s so-called “war on coal” – an industry which provides far fewer jobs than in tourism or renewable energy.



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  • Alan4discussion #3
    Apr 30, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Meanwhile, “out of touch with reality”,
    Trump has gone off to bask in his little delusion bubble,
    surrounded by his gullible ignoramus cheerleaders,
    while railing against critics, misrepresenting protesters,
    and babbling nonsense about “fake news”!

    Ah! The delusion bubble with a cheering herd of believing sheeple supporters – who also believe in the denial of science, denial of reason, and the magical supernatural unreality of false or psychotic claims!

    That looks familiar!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39904846

    Pope Francis was greeted by crowds of hundreds of thousands as he made saints of two shepherd children at the Fatima shrine complex in Portugal.

    “We declare the blissful Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto saints,” the pontiff said to loud applause.

    It is 100 years since the two – and a third child – reported seeing the Virgin Mary while tending sheep. The third is also on the way to sainthood.

    Some 500,000 worshippers gathered in the town of Fatima, north of Lisbon, for the ceremony on Saturday, the Vatican said in a statement.

    Roman Catholic pilgrims converged on the Fatima Sanctuary from countries as far away as China, Venezuela and East Timor.

    The town’s local bishop first read out the request for the two “little shepherds” to be canonised before the Pope declared them both saints of the Catholic Church.

    This should also ensure on-going income from the pilgrim tourist trade, which is a centuries long established source of church income!



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