Area 51

Neil deGrasse Tyson  “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson


Climate Change – Global Warming

Climate change is a change in global weather patterns over an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Scientific evidence for warming of the global climate system is undeniable and broadly accepted by the world’s scientists. Human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as global warming. The National Aeronautical and Space Administration maintains a global library on the subject and studies the causes and effects of pollution on our environment.

Holocaust

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews. The victims included 1.5 million children and represented about two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe. Some definitions of the Holocaust include the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to about 11 million. Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany, German-occupied territories and territories held by allies of Nazi Germany. From 1941 to 1945, Jews were systematically murdered in the deadliest genocide in history, which was part of a broader pattern of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazi regime.

Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing (also fracking, fraccing, hydrofracturing or hydrofracking) is a technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid for the purpose of extracting oil and gas. Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial in many countries. The potential environmental impacts, include risks of ground and surface water contamination, air and noise pollution, the triggering of earthquakes, and the consequential hazards to public health and the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency issued the “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report)”  which found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources. In September of 2016 a 5.6-magnitude earthquake caused by fracking activities shook at least six states. In response the state of Oklahoma shut down 37 disposal wells over a 725-square mile area.

Evolution

Evolution is change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. In the mid-19th century, Charles Darwin formulated the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection, published in his book On the Origin of Species (1859). For example, hundreds of years of selective breeding by humans has resulted in the artificial “evolution” of dogs into many different breeds. In humans, Lucy, is a 3.18 million-year-old specimen of Australopithecus afarensis—or southern ape of Afar—and is among the oldest, most complete fossil skeletons ever found of any adult, erect-walking human ancestor. Other discoveries in evolutionary biology have made a significant impact not just in the traditional branches of biology but also in other academic disciplines, including biological anthropology, and evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary computation, a sub-field of artificial intelligence, involves the application of Darwinian principles to problems in computer science. And no, the earth is not 6000 years old.

Hate Groups

A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, nation, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other designated sector of society. In the US, two private organizations that monitor intolerance and hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). They maintain lists of what they deem to be hate groups, supremacist groups and anti-Semitic, anti-government or extremist groups that have committed hate crimes. The SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” includes any group with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people – particularly when the characteristics being maligned are unchangeable, like skin color. Recently the term alt-right, short for “alternative right,” has come into usage. This vague term encompasses a range of people who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of forms of conservatism that embrace implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy. The alt-right is described as “a weird mix of old-school neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, anti-globalists, and young right-wing internet trolls — all united in the belief that white male identity is under attack by multicultural, “politically correct” forces.”

Crime

According to the FBI, since the presidential run and election of Donald trump hate crimes have risen 6%. That figure has been fueled by attacks on Muslims. Conversely, despite claims by Trump, violent crime has declined over the last 30 years.

Civil Rights

One of the most troubling and misguided ideas is that gay and lesbian people can be converted. Conversion therapy has been widely debunked and outlawed in some states. Further, false claims that transgender people have a mental illness has no scientific basis. According to Duke University’s Dr. Deanna Adkins, a pediatric endocrinologists, “there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia. This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time, sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.”

American Civil War

The American Civil War was fought in the United States fought from 1861 to 1865. The Union faced secessionists in eleven Southern states grouped together as the Confederate States of America. The Union won the war, which remains the bloodiest in U.S. history. The primary catalyst for secession was slavery, especially Southern political leaders’ resistance to attempts by Northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Another explanation for secession, and the subsequent formation of the Confederacy, was white Southern nationalism. Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson writes that, “The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries.”

Russian Cyberwarfare

Cyberwarfare by Russia includes denial of service attacks, hacker attacks, dissemination of disinformation and propaganda, participation of state-sponsored teams in political blogs, internet surveillance using SORM technology, persecution of cyber-dissidents and other active measures. According to investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, some of these activities have been coordinated by the Russian signals intelligence, which is part of the FSB and was formerly a part of the 16th KGB department, but others have been directed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Military of Russia. In 2016, the release of emails from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton through the DC Leaks website, likely linked to a Russian persona, were said by private sector analyst’s and US intelligence services to have been of Russian origin. Analysts including FireEye, ThreatConnect and Kaspersky Lab suggested that the hacking group responsible was Fancy Bear, a team suspected to be operated by or aligned with the Russian GRU. Also, in December of 2016, Republican and Democratic Senators on the United States Armed Services Committee called for “a special select committee to investigate Russian attempts to influence the presidential election.” In January of 2017 all 17 national security agencies declared that Russian hacking of the US election, the US government and private enterprise was deliberate and widespread.

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