Welcome to CounterPoint

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”  ― Isaac Asimov

Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science but Genetic Engineers Often Are

Opponents of GMOs, including organic farmers, are routinely being called anti-science. But it isn’t organic farmers who prevent independent university researchers from accessing their seeds. Nor do organic farmers ignore scientific evidence of rising pesticide use and human harm. Organic farmers do work with universities to improve their ethods, however; and they want more money for organic research.

The scientific evidence shows that the widespread adoption of genetically engineered crops in the US has led to: 1) an increase in pesticides used in agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program; 2) development of herbicide resistance in over 20 weed species; 3) insecticide resistance in target pests, including corn rootworms; 4) increased residues of pesticides in foods, including Roundup, a probable human carcinogen; 5) loss of biological diversity, including Monarch butterflies, and 6) massive increases in seed costs for farmers (Huber, 2011).

 
So, asks Elizabeth Henderson, who are the real anti-scientists?

Read the rest at INDEPENDENT SCIENCE NEWS

Could Facebook Rig the 2016 Election?

Facebook occupies a remarkably large role in people’s daily lives. In the United States, 72% of online adults have a Facebook account, and these users spend as nearly as much time on the site per day (39 minutes) as they do socializing with people face-to-face (43 minutes). The scope of the social network’s power also extends to media—particularly digital media—where 40% of all news traffic in the U.S. now originates on the site. The sheer size and scope of Facebook might not be as alarming if it were an unfiltered conduit of information, like Twitter for example. Contrary to popular belief, however, Facebook is highly curated and filtered content pipeline. The social network’s role in dictating the American news diet means their ability to tilt an election has never been greater.

Source: THE ATLANTIC

Has convenience turned you into a monster?

Welcome to the new economy, where convenience is king. It’s no wonder these kinds of services are popular – they give us just what we need, when we need them. They make fast lives possible. But is convenience turning us into monsters?

A high minimum wage, guaranteed medical leave for workers, and paid overtime are all issues young progressives have taken vocal positions on. But in an environment shaped by on-demand apps, workers are considered independent contractors or free agents, and job protections are eliminated. It’s a system that heavily favors the corporation over the laborer.

Strangely enough, however, progressives aren’t just giving their tacit approval to the sharing economy by spending their money with companies like Uber. They’re straight up coming out against protecting the workers involved. A survey from Pew found that Americans who use ride-hailing and home-sharing services are against regulating them. The people who use these services tend to be younger, and they tend to identify as Democrats.

The conclusion is obvious: we young progressives are hypocrites. We want corporations put in check, except when those corporations provide us a convenient service. We are against the exploitation of workers in theory, but in reality, we couldn’t care less about Uber drivers or about what they have to say about the weather during an awkward 15-minute drive.

Read the rest at THE GUARDIAN

Virginia school discipline is ‘widespread, discriminatory,’ study says

Virginia disproportionately suspends African-American boys and those with disabilities for issues that are often minor, frequently entangling children in the law enforcement system.  

Virginia, the state that leads the nation in the school-to-prison pipeline, also disproportionately suspends African-American male students and those with disabilities from school for issues as minor as a sarcastic tone, a cell phone, or too many unexcused absences.

“Suspended Progress,” a report released today by the Legal Aid Justice Center, says that the fix would be for school administrators to shift away from so-called zero tolerance policies, which often mandate punishment for even slight infractions, in favor of working with families and installing more preventive and supportive discipline.

In Virginia, students do not have a right to alternative education during suspensions or expulsions, meaning they fall further behind with each day of punishment.

Virginia’s “pipeline” is among the worst, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which analyzed schools’ law enforcement-referral rates in 2015. The state’s students werereferred to law enforcement at a rate of almost 16 per 1,000, the study found, compared to 6 per 1,000 nationwide. Across the country, black and special-needs kids tend to be referred more than others.

In total, Virginia public schools issued 126,000 out-of-school suspensions to approximately 70,000 individual students, according to Thursday’s report, compiled by the JustChildren (JC) program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond. Those suspensions and expulsions were given to black boys and children with disabilities at a disproportionately high rate, the authors report.

Read the rest at CSMONITOR

Big Pharma Seeks to Capitalize on Pain-Reducing Compound Derived From Cannabis

The medicinal properties of cannabidiol (better known as CBD), a compound found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant species, are quickly drawing the attention of scientists, plant-medicine lovers, dietary-supplement companies, venture capitalists,professional athletes and Big Pharma — not to mention people living with serious, chronic medical conditions. Insiders predict the burgeoning market will be as profitable as the NFL.

Today, if you run a search on PubMed.gov, a medical research database, you’ll find more than 1,500 academic articles on cannabidiol.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has no euphoric properties whatsoever, and carries no street value. What it does offer, however, are a host of health benefits. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, CBD has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation and also has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antidepressant properties.

Read the rest at TRUTHOUT

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