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Jul
31

Newser reports Space Station’s New Experiment: Aging Whisky

Jul
30

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly accused Black Lives Matter organizers again on Tuesday of being more political operatives than demonstrators, while also scoffing at Jay-Z and Beyoncé for donating money to groups affiliated with the movement.

“Do you think they know that [they are] giving money to an anarchistic group like this that wants to tear down the country and is talking about genocide, and really really extreme things,” O’Reilly told Washington Times reporter Kelly Riddell. “You think they have any idea what they’re doing?”

As he did last December, O’Reilly accused the demonstrations of being orchestrated by “agitators,” noting a remark by co-founder Patrisse Cullors over the weekend that they would stage protests at next year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I don’t know whether this crew, Black Lives Matter, have any constituency other than the radical left, the real fringe nuts that run around the country saying crazy things,” O’Reilly said.

Riddell told the host that the demonstrators should be taken seriously in the wake of their protest during the Netroots Nation conference earlier this month, which prompted an apology from Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley for using the phrase “all lives matter” — typically seen as a way to downplay police violence against black Americans.

“He didn’t have to issue an apology,” O’Reilly said of the former Maryland governor. “He chose to. But that’s O’Malley’s fault for even going to the Netroots convention.”

“I mean, Hillary Clinton has been there before,” she replied. “A lot of liberal activists go to this on a yearly basis.”

Riddell also referred back to her report this past January stating that groups affiliated with the movement had received donations either directly from progressive billionaire George Soros’ Open Sources Foundation, or affiliated groups.

According to her, a number of organizations under the #BlackLivesMatter “umbrella” benefitted from the funding, and followed narratives set out by “think tanks.”

“They believe fundamentally that it’s social policy and ‘The Man’ and the professional political class that is out to get them with unjust policies,” she said. “That basically all of their social woes, all their economic woes can be based on unfair policies.”

Watch the segment, as posted online on Tuesday, below.

Credit: Raw Story

Jul
29

Newser reports University of NH: Don’t Use Words Like ‘Rich,’ ‘American’

Jul
28

Republican insiders are complaining that the right-wing media “is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections,” according to a new Harvard report.

New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes, a Joan Shorenstein fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, spent nearly four months researching how the conservative media is increasingly influencing the Republican Party. She found “unanimity among establishment Republicans — many of them conservatives by the definition of anyone but purists — that rightwing media has become a big problem for the party, and their readiness to talk about it, was something of a surprise to this reporter of three decades’ experience in Washington.”

Since its founding in 2004, Media Matters has documented the increasingly extreme rhetoric and policy positions of conservative media. But party Republicans are now complaining that conservative commentators, many of whom are lining their pockets with big salaries, are making it difficult for Republicans to govern and win national elections.

Dave Schnittger, a longtime former top aide to House Republican leaders, told Calmes that conservative media are loudest in opposing actions “that leaders have to get done as part of governing,” such as meeting basic fiscal deadlines.

Another top Republican aide, who asked for anonymity, complained of the conservative media: “There’s no money, ratings or clicks in everyone going along to get along.” Calmes added, “Asked whether he could offer examples of legislative outcomes affected by conservative media, this Republican all but snapped, ‘Sure. All of ’em.’ Does he worry more broadly then about the small-d democratic process? ‘Yeah, absolutely. Because the loudest voices drown out the sensible ones and there’s no real space to have serious discussions.'”

When it comes to national issues, Republicans fret that the conservative media has pushed the party “far to the anti-government, anti-compromise ideological right.” Republicans pointed to the conservative media being “on the wrong side of history” and at odds with public opinion on “gay rights, insurance for contraceptives, climate change, and budget policy.” They also complained that right-wing pundits have destroyed Republicans’ ability to help pass comprehensive immigration reform.

One Republican Senate aide claimed that it’s “the conservative media pushing us to take these positions, these extremist positions. And of course there are those who are more than willing to take them because it gets them press. It’s a vicious cycle: The shows want ratings — they’re a business. The members want publicity. So it’s just this unholy alliance.”

The conservative media’s influence on the Republican Party has become a key story during the 2016 presidential primary season. Fox News has an unprecedented media role in the process, as it is hosting the first Republican debate and using polling to cap the number of debate participants at 10. Candidates competing to get into the debates are now frequently appearing on the network’s airwaves, and their allies are spending big money on advertising to reach Fox’s conservative audience.

Perhaps one of the most disruptive forces in the primary, Donald Trump, has enjoyed a cozy relationship with Fox News. Fox has promoted Trump’s antics so much that Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has reportedly fought with chairman and CEO Roger Ailes over the channel’s coverage of the divisive Republican candidate.

Credit: Media Matters

Jul
27

Newser reports Satanic Statue Gets New Home in Detroit

Jul
26

Newser reports Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day? Not So Fast

Jul
25

Newser reports Lager Is About to Get a Lot More Interesting

Jul
24

Fox & Friends stoked fears that faith-based loan accommodations for some Muslims in Seattle might fund terrorism and go against “American values,” despite the fact that faith-based financing is widely practiced around the world and available to all religions.

Seattle’s mayor and community leaders released a list of recommendations this month to bring more affordable housing to the city. To increase home ownership, the committee suggested bank lenders explore ways to extend loans to Muslim residents who follow Sharia law, which prohibits the payment of interest on loans.

Fox & Friends decried the recommendation as “funding terror” on July 23. Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone alleged, “Critics over the years have voiced concerns that this would allow Muslim extremists a new way to use the U.S. financial system to launder money,” and an on-screen graphic read:

Co-host Steve Doocy later worried that the loans amounted to “discrimination” in favor of Muslims, while network analyst Peter Johnson, Jr, said that it “opens up a lot of questions” such as concerns about “legitimatizing a law that is really inimical to American values.”

But faith-based financial accommodations are not specific to Islam — Christian denominations benefit from them as well — and options for Sharia-compliant loans are increasingly common.

Catholic and Christian denominations such as Lutherans similarly benefit from financial instruments that accommodate their religious beliefs, such as faith-based mutual funds. As The Wall Street Journal reported:

Faith-based mutual funds typically screen out stocks of companies that violate the tenets of a given religion or religious denomination. A Muslim fund is likely to screen out companies related to pork production, for example, while a Catholic fund can avoid a maker of contraceptives.

[…]

In looking at faith-based funds, be aware that the stock-picking methods vary widely from fund to fund. And potential investors should avoid making assumptions about a fund’s screens or its stance on a moral issue based solely on its expressed religious affiliation, says David Kathman, a senior mutual-fund analyst at Morningstar Inc.

For example, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a nonprofit investment firm, doesn’t screen funds based on religious principles, but donates a portion of its profits to charitable causes. Interested investors should study a fund’s prospectus, information on its website and recent shareholder reports.

The Ave Maria mutual fund group, a Catholic fund family, uses negative screens based on a narrow set of moral issues important to its investor base, says George Schwartz, president of the funds. Following rules set by an advisory board, the funds avoid investing in companies that make contraceptives, conduct embryonic stem-cell research or contribute corporate funds to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of abortions and contraceptive services, Mr. Schwartz says. The funds also screen out companies involved with pornography and other adult entertainment, among others, he says.

Shariah-compliant financing makes up “more than $1.6 trillion in assets worldwide” and is continuing to grow, according to USA Today. Like other faith-based accommodations, it simply allows for payment through other methods besides interest.:

Big and small investors are increasingly dipping their toes in the world of Shariah-compliant financing, a sector that has grown to more than $1.6 trillion in assets worldwide over the past three decades. It’s one that analysts see as having the potential for even greater growth as the Muslim population grows in the U.S. and Europe.

Earlier this month, Luxembourg issued a $254 million, five-year Islamic bond, known as sukuk. Meanwhile, Hong Kong last month completed its first sale of Islamic debt raising $1 billion. That came after Britain in June became the first Western nation to issue sukuk, an Arabic word that roughly translates as “certificates.”

Sukuk act much like traditional bonds, delivering payments to investors until maturity. To comply with Sharia, the bonds have to be tied to some sort of physical asset. Instead of interest, investors are being rewarded with a share of the profit derived from the asset.

Goldman Sachs and HSBC are among western financial service behemoths that have introduced sukuk in recent years. And in the U.S. for the last decade, a number of banks have been arranging for mortgages and auto loans for their Muslim clients that are permissible under Islamic law.

Fears of “discrimination” and terrorism stand in stark contrast to Fox News’ handling of other faith-based accommodations — the network had no problem championing Christian corporation Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration that sought a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. But in this case, Islam is involved, and Fox has a long history of pushing anti-Muslim rhetoric and hyping fears about Islam.

Credit: Media Matters

Jul
23

Newser reports Maine’s Latest Lobster-Flavored Export: Beer

Jul
22

Newser reports Scientists: Here’s What Fat Truly Tastes Like

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