Photo of the day

From an Atlantic gallery of walls/borders around the world:

A then–recently constructed section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence crosses previously pristine desert sands at sunrise on March 14, 2009, between Yuma, Arizona, and Calexico, California. The section of barrier stands 15 feet tall and sits on top of the sand so it can be lifted by a machine and repositioned whenever the migrating desert dunes begin to bury it. 

David McNew / Getty

Is Steve King really so different from Donald Trump

Great piece from Adam Serwer:

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” King told TheNew York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

This was the most explicit expression of something that has been obvious for some time: King not only believes white people are superior to others, but supports the use of state power to preserve what he sees as white political and cultural power in the West.

As Christopher Mathias has ably documented, King’s remarks are the latest entry in a long list of similar statements, such as his declaration that “we can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies,” that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end,” and that “we need to get our birth rates up or Europe will be entirely transformed.” He has called illegal immigration a “slow-motion holocaust,” language that echoes the neo-Nazi doctrine that non-white immigration is a form of “white genocide.” Last year he endorsed a candidate for mayor of Toronto who has a history of touting white-nationalist and anti-Semitic ideas…

Hardly. While it is heartening to see that King’s antics have finally drawn a unified response of condemnation from the right, the reactions seem to miss the obvious point that there is little daylight between Steve King and the president of the United States, Donald Trump…

But don’t take my word for it. In 2014, as Trump was mulling a run for president, he made an appearance in Iowa with King, calling him a “special guy, a smart person, with really the right views on almost everything,” and noting that their views on the issues were so similar that “we don’t even have to compare notes.”

Little has changed. The president has defended white nationalists; sought to exploit the census to dilute the political power of minority voters; described immigration as an infestation, warning that it was “changing the culture of Europe”; derided black and Latino immigrants as coming from “shithole countries,” while expressing a preference for immigrants from places like “Norway”; and generally portrayed nonwhite immigrants as little more than rapists, drug dealers, and murderers at every opportunity…

It’s important that Republicans are taking racism more seriously. But that means not only rejecting backbencher congressmen like King. It means recognizing that King believes little that the man in the White House does not also believe. If the rejection of King is more than political opportunism, more than an attempt to portray the party as rejecting ideas that the president they support has embraced, then the Republican Party and the conservative movement will have to do more than censure King. They will have to reject Trumpism, and all it represents.

I think many  of these Republican politicians truly reject racism and Steve King’s views.  But when you look at how they have responded to Trump it’s hard not to see the latest condemnations of Trump as little more than political expediency.

Hands off my diet soda!!

I am so tired of all the people telling me all that diet soda (primarily the incomparable Diet Dr Pepper) is bad for me.  I swear, people want it to be bad for you.  Chemicals!!  Anyway, the latest research on artificial sweeteners:

Artificial sweeteners offer no health benefits, a large review of studies found. But it found no proof that they do any harm, either. [emphasis mine]

Researchers looked at 35 observational studies and 21 controlled trials of nonsugar sweeteners in children and adults. Some compared intake of sweeteners with no intake; others compared lower with higher intakes.

They found no convincing evidence that nonsugar sweeteners had any effect in adults on eating behavior, cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, mood, behavior or cognition. The study, in BMJ, did find a slight benefit in promoting weight loss and improving fasting blood glucose levels, but only in small studies and over short periods of time.

Eight studies in children showed similar results. Some studies found weak evidence that children who used artificial sweeteners had larger increases in blood glucose levels than those who used sugar.

The lead author, Dr. Joerg J. Meerpohl, of the University of Freiburg, said that “the goal of the work was to summarize the evidence, not to make practical recommendations,” and although they found no evidence of harm, they could not exclude the possibility, either.

In any case, he said, “There’s no need to have them in your food. There are cheaper and widely available alternatives to artificially sweetened foods. You can always have water instead of Diet Coke.”

I’m not sitting here pretending artificial sweeteners are good for you, but enough with people motivated reasoning themselves into the belief that they just have to be bad for you.  And, hey, maybe someday evidence will change on that (though this BMJ study looks pretty thorough), and I’ll be open to that.  But for now, drink your water and leave me and my Diet Dr Pepper alone.

On a quasi-related note, I love and am not at all surprised by this finding that those who know the least about GMO foods are the very ones who believe they are bad for you:

As the degree of opposition to the foods increased, knowledge about them decreased. The scientists also found that people who knew the least tended to think they knew the most.

So, yeah, I’ll stick with my diet soda with GMO food.

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