Americans divided on what is true & who can be trusted

A startling AP-NORC poll finds Americans struggle to identify true facts. Factors appear to include:

  • partisan division,
  • mutually exclusive prevailing media narratives,
  • absence of straight fact reporting from preferred sources,
  • social media distortions, including malicious bot-net manipulations,
  • a lack of trust in key institutions,
  • and the influence of money on elected officials.

The alarming findings point to a deeper, but very specific problem: American news and political culture is stripping Americans of the ability to think critically. The people’s right to know must supersede the privilege of power, if a society is to be free and democratic.

Fact, evidence, and truth cannot be partisan; a skewed fact is a lie, but increasing numbers of Americans lack the ability to discern whether they are accessing reporting untainted by factional or partisan bias.

Axios reports:

Democratic institutions have long functioned on trust that is vanishing before our eyes, with the institutions looking similarly vulnerable.

Digging into the numbers:

  • Even in this hyper-divided situation, only 40% of Republicans trust Trump as truthful.
  • An incredible 25% of Trump’s own supporters do not believe he is truthful.
  • Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say factual information should not be shaded by opinion. (This implies “competing views” should only be out side by side when the facts aren’t settled or the purpose is to focus on opinion.)

It is clear there is a recognition that the culture needs a reinvigoration of critical thinking; what is less clear from this survey is where to begin to reestablish a shared sense of clarity about the nature and the accessibility of both truth and trust.

Blinding of Protesters in Chile outnumbers All Prior Known Cases

The number of cases of civilians in Chile who have lost an eye, because they were shot in the head with a rubber bullet appears to outnumber all known previous cases worldwide, combined. It is being described as deliberate mutilation, and raises a very significant question: Did someone in the security services give an order for rubber bullets to be fired at the head, or specifically at the eye?

According to Bloomberg:

Rubber balls like the ones surgeons have been pulling out of faces and eyes aren’t meant to be shot directly at people but “skip-fired” 6 to 10 feet in front of a target, said Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department commander who teaches riot-control techniques around the world. The projectiles are meant to hurt without penetrating skin.

This behavior by security forces is incompatible with democracy or the rule of law. Any individual in the security services involved in this apparent plot to cause severe injury, mutilation, or death, should face prosecution. The Chilean people have an absolute right to expect public authorities will behave responsibly and never condone or accept such brutality.

Berlin Wall opened 30 years ago today

The Berlin Wall separated the city into West and East, and created tense conditions for conflict that lasted for decades. Because Berlin was surrounded by East Germany, the Wall was a kind of dual siege—cruelly isolating both West Berlin and East Germany. An estimated 200 people were killed trying to get across to the other side, to visit friends and family, or to escape from tyranny.

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Impeachment Depositions Made Public

After the White House demanded all testimony given in closed depositions before three committees in the House of Representatives be made public, House leadership agreed to release those transcripts, in preparation for open hearings in the House.

The releases made from Monday, November 4, to Friday, November 8, 2019, are linked below. Each “Committees Release” link includes links to the full transcripts. Key excerpts and files including new information are linked below.

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Federal Court orders release of Mueller Grand Jury materials

In a stunning, detailed, historically sourced, and overwhelming rebuke to the Trump administration’s arguments, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., has ordered the Department of Justice to turn over grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Bribery is Cause for Removal from Office – US Constitution

We learned last week that President Trump asked Ukraine’s president—during a call on July 25, 2019—for a personal political favor intended to smear a potential rival in the 2020 election. He apparently did this while actively blocking military aid to Ukraine, which was at the time and is now under ongoing military attack by Russian forces.

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Respect the dignity & worth of every human being

Asked by Brian Williams what he says to colleagues who are being subjected to racist attacks by a lawless President, civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis, of Georgia, said:

I tell them to keep the faith, to keep their eyes on the prize, and to never ever give up, ’cause Dr. King taught us never to hate, never become bitter, because hate is too heavy a burden to bear, to believe in peace, and the way of love, to believe in the philosophy of nonviolence, and over and over again, I say we must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being. A young Republican came up to me today and said ’John, what must we do?’ I said ’Just continue to love; it is the best way; it is the only way.’

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