Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Doesn’t Have To ‘Look At His Heart’ To Know Trump Is Racist

The Democratic senator said the president is “trying to stir up as much hatred and dissension in this country as possible.”
By David Moye
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything, it seems ― except for calling President Donald Trump a racist.

At a time when Trump is being widely condemned for his racist Twitter tirade against four congresswomen ― and even though he has used the name “Pocahontas” as a slur against Warren on multiple occasions ― the Massachusetts Democrat declined to directly call the president a racist.

But she willingly described his words and deeds as racist.

When CNN’s Manu Raju asked Warren on Tuesday if she considered Trump to be racist, the Democratic presidential candidate sought to change the subject to the bigger issue: how Trump’s actions affect the country at large.

“I just think what the president has said is appalling, and he’s trying to stir up as much hatred and dissension in this country as possible,” Warren said, according to Mediaite. “Because it serves his political ends. He thinks if he can set American against American, that somehow he prospers. But I’ll tell you this, the United States suffers.”

Raju asked her again: “Is the president a racist?”

“Look at his remarks,” Warren replied. “He’s made racist remarks, and he’s been racially hateful to people. That’s what matters.”

Raju pressed on, perhaps feeling that the senator was beating around the issue.

She responded that the journalist didn’t need a direct answer from her when there is tons of evidence from Trump himself.

“I don’t have to look at his heart ― that’s not the point,” Warren said. “He behaves ― look at what he’s done, it’s racist. What he’s done over and over and over ― it’s not the first time.”


Manu Raju

@mkraju
 Elizabeth Warren to us on whether she thinks Trump is a racist: "I don't have to look at his heart ... Look at what he's done. It's racist, what he's done over and over andmbedded video

Say it loud Senator  Warren ...the Cheeto Blimp is going town.
HeHe

Monday, July 15, 2019

President Trump defends racially charged Twitter attack

 
US President Donald Trump has redoubled his attack on four Democratic congresswomen, accusing them of "hating our country".
"If you are not happy, if you are complaining all the time, you can leave," he told a heated news conference outside the White House.
On Sunday Mr Trump called on the women, who are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, to "go back". He was widely accused of racism and xenophobia, which he denied.

Mr Trump first sparked a furore in a series of tweets on Sunday in which he said the women "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe".
"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how," he wrote.

He did not explicitly name the women, but the context made a clear link. The three US-born women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar, who came to the US as a refugee aged 12 - all called the president racist and were backed by members of the Democratic Party. Ms Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx in New York, about 12 miles (19km) away from the Queens hospital where Mr Trump was born.

What did Trump say?
"These are people that in my opinion hate our country," President Trump told reporters on Monday.
"As far as I'm concerned if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave. You can leave right now. I don't know who's going to miss 'em," he said, to applause from some in the audience.
Asked by a reporter if he was concerned that his tweets had been seen by some as racist, Mr Trump said he was not.
"It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me," he added.

Mr Trump lashed out particularly at Ms Omar, saying she "hates Israel" and "hates Jews", as well as suggesting she supported the jihadist group al-Qaeda.
"I don't know, I never met her, I hear the way she talks about al-Qaeda," Mr Trump said.
"Al-Qaeda has killed many Americans. She said, 'you can hold your chest out, when I think of America, when I think of al-Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.'"

US media reported that Mr Trump's false accusations probably refer to a 2013 interview where Ms Omar was discussing a college terrorism class. She did not praise al-Qaeda in the interview. Ms Omar instead recalled a class in which "every time the professor said 'al-Qaeda', his shoulders went up".
Ms Omar went on to point out that you do not say "America" or "England" with that same intensity, adding "but you say these names [of terrorist groups] because you want the word to carry weight. You want it to mean something".
   
 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left), Rashida Tlaib (centre) and Ayanna Pressley (right)
  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left), Rashida Tlaib (centre) and Ayanna Pressley (right) accused the president of racism

On Monday, Republican Senator Susan Collins said in a statement the tweets were "way over the line" and should be removed, while Republican Congressman Will Hurd, who is African American, described the comments as "racist and xenophobic".  But Republican Congressman Andy Harris defended Mr Trump, "Clearly it's not a racist comment. He could have meant go back to the district they came from, the neighbourhood they came from."
Really??? What a disgrace .... the way Republicans give Trump a free pass on every offense he commits. Telling people of colour to go back to where they came from cannot be regarded as anything other than a blatant evocation of a well-worn lexicon of racist language and sentiment that's as old as the hills.

But usually politicians who want to play the race card reach for the "dog whistle" - a political nudge and a wink that tells their supporters that they share their views but they cannot easily be voiced in a liberal democracy without alienating people whose support they will need. President Trump, however, has pushed the boundaries on racially charged language ever since he became a candidate.

Remember how Mexicans were Rapists and Drug dealers, how there were "good people" on both sides of the argument when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, and how the President didn't see why America should allow more people in from "shithole" countries in Africa.
So what is his strategy? Keeping his core support fired up is unquestionably part of it. And exploiting divisions within Democratic ranks which have had racial overtones in recent days is another reason for his actions.
But in many ways, we should not be surprised by this President ratcheting up the political heat in this particular way. After all, it's a short intellectual step from the economic nationalism in the idea of America First, to a nationalism that sees a threat from the enemy within.

Despite criticism, President Trump launched another Twitter tirade on Monday morning, calling on the women themselves to apologize - to him and "the people of Israel".
Mr Trump has also accused Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of racism, after she said the president's campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, was "about making America white again".
"That's a very racist statement," Mr Trump said. "I'm surprised she'd say that."
 
Nancy Pelosi
 Nancy Pelosi says a resolution condemning the president's comments is forthcoming

In a letter to Democrats on Monday, Mrs Pelosi announced a resolution in the House to condemn the "disgusting attacks".
And on the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called out conservatives, saying:
"My Republican friends, he's not backing off. Where are you?"
Also on Monday, Mr Trump's attorney general William Barr delivered remarks at a Department of Justice forum on battling anti-Semitism, where he condemned "identity politics" and said he was "deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes and political violence" in the last decade.
Kudos to Mr Barr if he is sincere and not just paying lip service. Lest we forget the support he threw behind Trump when the Mueller report came out and the very limited access he allowed the public to have to the facts.

In his initial Twitter thread, Mr Trump did not specifically mention a link to recent news events, but immigration at the southern border was a dominant topic in US news at the weekend.  On Friday, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Ms Tlaib and Ms Pressley testified to a House committee about conditions in a migrant detention centre they had visited. They expressed horror about alleged mistreatment happening "under American flags".
The president replied by tweeting that children's detention centres had had "great reviews" and the adult male areas were "loaded up with a big percentage of criminals".
This is not the first time Mr Trump has been accused of racism. For years, he made false claims that former President Barack Obama was not born in the US - propagating the racist "birther" conspiracy.

Mr Trump and his father Fred Trump were sued by the Department of Justice in 1973 for discrimination against African Americans in their renting practices. They settled the case without admitting guilt in 1975 but were accused again by the justice department in 1978 of an "underlying pattern of discrimination" against black tenants.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Losing sight of honor compassion and concern for humanity .... in exchange for one man's vanity

 
 
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Crowds are massed around the Reflecting Pool as Donald Trump speaks
 
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Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for the “Salute to America”
 
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People march in the Independence Day parade in Washington DC on 4 July 2019
 
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 GOT YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT YET??

Monday, July 01, 2019

Japan whaling: Why commercial hunts have resumed despite outcry

A humpback whale
 
Compliments of The BBC:                           
Japan has resumed killing whales for profit, in defiance of international criticism. Its last commercial hunt was in 1986, but Japan has never really stopped whaling - it has been conducting instead what it says are research missions which catch hundreds of whales annually. 
Now the country has withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which banned hunting. It sent out its first whaling fleet on 1 July, with permits to catch 227 whales. The first whale - a minke - was brought back to shore that day.

Isn't whaling banned?

Whales were brought to the brink of extinction by hunting in the 19th and early 20th Century. By the 1960s, more efficient catch methods and giant factory ships made it obvious that whale hunting could not go unchecked.
So in 1986, all IWC members agreed to a hunting moratorium to allow whale numbers to recover.
Conservationists were happy but whaling countries - like Japan, Norway and Iceland - assumed the moratorium would be temporary until everyone could agree on sustainable quotas. Instead it became a quasi-permanent ban.
 
A protester sits on a Japanese flag cove
There is a long history to anti-whaling protests

But there were exceptions in the moratorium, allowing indigenous groups to carry out subsistence whaling, and allowing whaling for scientific purposes.  Tokyo put that latter clause to full use. Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year, saying this was to monitor stocks to establish sustainable quotas. Critics say this was just a cover so Japan could hunt whales for food, as the meat from the whales killed for research usually did end up for sale.

Why is Japan restarting whaling now?

In 2018 Japan tried one last time to convince the IWC to allow whaling under sustainable quotas, but failed. So it left the body, effective July 2019.  Whaling is a small industry in Japan, employing around 300 people. About five vessels are expected to set sail in July.
The whaling "will be conducted within Japan's territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone", Hideki Moronuki of the Japanese fishing ministry said in June.

This means Japan will no longer hunt whales in the Antarctic, as it did under its earlier research program. The catch cap of 52 minke whales, 150 Bryde's whales and 25 sei whales is also lower than the 333 cap set for last year's research hunt.
Like other whaling nations, Japan argues hunting and eating whales are part of its culture. A number of coastal communities in Japan have indeed hunted whales for centuries but consumption only became widespread after World War Two when other food was scarce.
From the late 1940s to the mid-1960s whale was the single biggest source of meat in Japan but since become a niche product again.

Is Japan's plan legal?

"Within its 12 mile coastal waters, Japan can do whatever it wants," Donald Rothwell, professor of international law at the Australian National University, said.
Beyond that, in its 200 miles (322km) exclusive economic zone and of course the high seas, the country is bound by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Article 65 of said convention mandates that "states shall co-operate with a view to the conservation" of whales and "shall in particular work through the appropriate international organizations for their conservation, management and study".
 
Illustration of whale hunting in the 1840s
Traditional whaling often resulted in a drawn-out death for the animal

Having left the IWC, Japan is no longer part of any such international organization and that "directly raises questions issues whether or not Japan would be consistent with the convention," Mr Rothwell explains.
It's not clear if any country would try to bring Japan to court over this - in its defense, Japan might argue that for years it did try to co-operate within the IWC without any results.
Even if there were to be a ruling or injunction against Tokyo, there'd be no mechanism to enforce it.

What environmental impact will Japan's whaling have?

The ministry will allow for the hunting of three species: minke, Bryde's and sei whales.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, minke and Bryde's whale are not endangered. Sei whale are classified as endangered but their numbers are increasing. So in terms of numbers, Japan's commercial whaling will have only a minimal impact. In fact, some defenders of whaling argue that whale meat has a smaller carbon footprint than pork or beef.
 
Whale sushi made with sliced minke meats and blubber, at a sushi shop
Is eating whale meat more ethical than commercially farmed pork or chicken?

Conservationist groups like Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd remain critical of Japan's resumption of whaling but say there are no concrete plans yet to tackle the country over this.
Japan "is out of step with the international community", Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement, urging Tokyo to abandon its hunting plans.

Besides the question of stock sustainability, a key argument against the hunt is that harpooning whales leads to a slow and painful death.  Modern hunting methods, though, aim to kill whales instantly and it backers say the near-global anti-whaling sentiment is deeply hypocritical., compared to, say, industrial meat production.
But even if Japan does defy the criticism and stick with whaling, there's a good chance the contentious issue will gradually die down by itself. Japanese demand for whale meat has long been on the decline and the industry is already being subsidised. Eventually, commercial whaling might be undone by simple arithmetic. No more demand for whale meat. Hopefully that happens before there are no more whales.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Canadian artist fired for Trump cartoon

  
A publishing company in New Brunswick, Canada, has terminated its contract with cartoonist Michael de Adder after a drawing he did of President Donald Trump standing over the bodies of two drowned migrants went viral on social media.
The drawing, which was posted on de Adder's Twitter account on June 26, shows Trump standing beside a golf cart, golf club in hand, looking down at the bodies of a father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross from Mexico into Texas. Trump asks, "Do you mind if I play through?"

Here's the story behind this viral border crisis photo

The illustration is based on the searing photo of Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, lying face down in the muddy waters of the Rio Grande, which has sparked outrage and become a focal point of the debate over asylum-seekers.
 
De Adder announced his termination from the newspapers owned by Brunswick News Inc. on Twitter.
"The highs and lows of cartooning," he wrote. "Today I was just let go from all newspapers in New Brunswick."
De Adder said he was "not a victim" and that this was "a setback not a deathblow."
The New Brunswick native also said that he was still drawing cartoons for other publications, but was hurt that he would no longer be doing so in his four local outlets.
"I just need to recoup a percentage of my weekly income and get used to the idea I no longer have a voice in my home province," he wrote.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

..The Roving Reporter : FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO MAY NEVER HAVE EXISTED

In our present age of choking, overpowering, ubiquitous information, it's easy to search for the biography of a celebrity or politician because history is better preserved now than ever before. Everything you never wanted to know about Britney Spears' hairstyle history, for example, you can find out. And then you can never forget it.

Alas, it was not always this way. The facts about many historical famous people weren't written down until years — sometimes decades or even centuries — after they allegedly lived. Given this amount of time, the evidence of the person's existence itself may have completely deteriorated, and the legends themselves might have borne little resemblance to what actually happened. But we're habitual creatures who like good stories, so we just keep on telling the same ones, facts be damned. Here are some famous people whose names you will recognize but who may never have existed at all, at least in their popular form.

MULAN

When Disney introduced Western children to the legend of Mulan, she was already a big deal in Chinese literature. The tale of a warrior's daughter dressing as a man and fighting in her ailing father's place is a timeless bit of badassery and girl power. But the evidence of her existence is scarce to say the least.

A book about women in Chinese history mentions Mulan might've been a made-up figure partly based on Wei Huahu, an actual female warrior from ancient China. It's unknown, however, if Huahu ever fought in men's clothing. As for Mulan herself, the earliest known reference to her was in the ancient ballad "The Battle of Mulan." But the song doesn't specify when she lived, gives few details of the actual battles she fought, and didn't give a full name for her outside of "Mulan." Pretty vague!

Then there's a text (translated as Exemplary Women of Early China) written by Liu Xiang around 18 BC, and packed with over 120 biographies of famous women from ancient China. Mulan, despite supposedly being a major deal, has no biography. Granted, she supposedly lived several hundred years after Xiang first published his book, but there's a section at the end for "supplemental biographies." No one has ever added Mulan, even though what she did was quite exemplary indeed.

BY GRUNGE STAFF
 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Surely the great William Shakespeare was real, right? He has writings — lots of them — and we have portraits of the man. How could he be phony? Amazingly, quite easily. Many people are convinced "William Shakespeare" was a pen name, and whoever wrote those stories might be lost to history.

As recapped by PBS, there was a guy named William Shakespeare, but we know little about him. We don't know where he learned to write, and his will mentions no plays or sonnets. Maybe the real Shakespeare didn't write much more than a grocery list. If so, it's unclear who the "real" Shakespeare is. Plenty of candidates have emerged over the years — like Francis Bacon, Ben Johnson, and Christopher Marlowe — but these possibilities haven't stuck. 

There's another legitimate possibility in the obscure Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. According to J. Thomas Looney, a schoolteacher who uncovered a great deal about the man, Vere wrote poetry that reads much like what the Bard wrote. According to this theory, Vere used an assumed name because, as nobility, he didn't want to be associated with a low-brow art like playwriting. Then, when he died, his followers published his plays under the pen name of some random, dead commoner named William Shakespeare.

ROBIN HOOD

The legendary English folk hero Robin Hood is well-known for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, residing in Sherwood Forest with his gang of outlaws, and wooing Maid Marian. The stories are certainly fictitious, but was Robin Hood a real person or simply based on one? It's impossible to say if any one individual inspired the legend's creation. The stories are either totally invented, or are a combination of elements taken from different historical sources.

Identifying a single person as the basis for the famous outlaw becomes even more difficult given that, as the stories began to grow in popularity in the 13th and 14th centuries, random English outlaws began to call themselves Robin Hood. Nevertheless, some historians speculate that Robin Hood was based, in part anyway, on nobleman Fulk FitzWarin, who rebelled against King John (one of Robin Hood's foes). FitzWarin's life was later turned into its own medieval tale, Fouke le Fitz Waryn, which holds some similarities to the Robin Hood stories. If he was the basis, then a name change was a good decision. The name Fulk FitzWarin doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of villains.

CONFUCIUS

To quote Confucius: "If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." That's deep … and deeply problematic. Research suggests that dishonest children become successful adults and that highly successful adults lie. That's a whole lot of wrong there, Confucius.

Of course, if Confucius never existed, then the quote's been misattributed, meaning the words can't accord with the truth. Thus, in being wrong, the quote would be right, which sounds super wrong. And the Confucian confusion doesn't end there. Experts believe he was born in Lu, China, and created the Ru School of Chinese thought. But depending on which document you read, Confucius comes off as an unflinching idealist, an ambitious politician, or a fifth-century B.C. superhero. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy cautioned that even The Analects, the go-to resource on Confucius, suffers from striking inconsistencies and improbabilities.

In fact, many claims attributed to Confucius are arguably apocryphal. Fittingly, the guy described as China's Socrates raises more questions than he answers.

WILLIAM TELL

William Tell is a Swiss folk hero best known for child endangerment. Tell allegedly lived in Switzerland during the early 14th century, when the Hapsburg dynasty of Austria ruled the land. As the story goes, an Austrian official placed a hat on a pole in city of Altdorf and commanded every Swiss subject to remove their caps as they passed by it. One day, Tell, a local peasant who was accompanied by his son, refused to do so. In response, the Austrians forced Tell to shoot an apple off his son's head at 120 paces or face execution. Tell loaded his crossbow and skillfully shot the apple. He then went on to lead a small revolt against the Austrians — presumably after buying his son some new pants.

Tell is essentially the Swiss version of Robin Hood and, much like the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, he probably never existed. The apple story is extremely similar to a Viking folktale, which most likely was imported to Switzerland at some point and used by Swiss patriots as a rallying cry against their Austrian rulers.

SUN TZU

Sun Tzu's The Art of War has long been revered as the preeminent guidebook on how to properly wage war. So who better to advise than someone like Tzu, an ancient Chinese military leader and warrior who knew how to fight and win? He also knew how to motivate his charges, reportedly beheading two men popular with the king, just to show the other courtesans nobody was safe from punishment and discipline.

But now, people wonder if Sun Tzu was real at all. As History explains, scholars currently know nothing about where The Art of War came from, only that it would randomly appear — usually on sewn-together bamboo slabs — for whatever military person or scholar needed it. There's no record of "Sun Tzu" promoting himself as the author, and even the story of him beheading those poor courtesans is unsourced and quite possibly a myth. 

It stands to reason "Sun Tzu" is a pen name, and Art of War's contents are cobbled together from generations of Chinese military lessons, theories, and strategies. Considering how people worldwide are still reading and learning from it, thousands of years after it first appeared, it's clearly solid advice. It just probably didn't come from the mind of one cruel military genius.

SYBIL LUDINGTON

Sybil Ludington is remembered for having been forgotten, an unsung heroine from the Revolutionary War eclipsed by a lesser contemporary. Known by many as the female Paul Revere, Ludington legendarily rode 40 miles alone in the rain over difficult terrain to warn New York Yankees that the British were coming for more than crumpets. At just 16 years old, she braved the dangers of tea-swilling troops and lurking lawbreakers, sounding the alarm from Putnam County to Dutchess County in New York's Hudson Valley. And it was 1777, so there was no 7-Eleven to save her from a snack attack. 

According to that account, history should laud Ludington more than Revere because she traveled double the distance he did under dismal conditions. But tell that to history and it might call you a filthy liar due to lack of reliable sources. As per Smithsonian Magazine, the first mention of Ludington's ride didn't appear until 1880, more than a century after it supposedly happened. That's no small oversight, considering that women of the age (understandably) wanted to vaunt their own contributions to American independence.

Nowadays, Ludington's face features on stamps and in coloring books. She has become a mascot for feminists and anti-Communists as well as a bogey-woman for certain political factions. She's as real or fake as people need her to be to make a point, much like history itself. 

HOMER

Homer is the Greek poet who wrote two of the books that your English teacher forced you to read in high school — the mythological epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. Despite the popularity and importance of these epics, their author remains shrouded in mystery. For one thing, Homer almost certainly wasn't the originator of these tales, which likely preceded him by about 1,000 years. He was simply the first to write them down. As for the poet himself, some say Homer was blind, while at least one author argues that Homer was actually a woman.

Some historians believe that Homer was not a single person, but rather a group of Greek scholars. In the end, we will probably never know the answer, but the legacy of Homer's works will continue, both in the nuclear plant and beyond.

KING ARTHUR

Unless you've been living under a rock — a heavy one — you're probably familiar with the Arthurian legend. Even if you haven't read the stories, you likely saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail at least once in college, or maybe you heard the bad reviews about the 2017 King Arthur movie, pictured above. In any case, the British king is said to have claimed the sword, Excalibur, from the Lady of the Lake and found the aforementioned Cup of Christ. These fantastical stories are clearly a mishmash of folklore, but was the Arthur of legend based on a real man? The first tales of Arthur appeared in the ninth century and chronicle his battle against the invading Saxon armies, so it's likely that the individuals — if they existed — who served as the basis for Arthur lived sometime before then.

Some historians suggest the Roman military commander Lucius Artorius Castus as a possible candidate. The King Arthur movie from 2004, starring Clive Owen, follows this line of reasoning and depicts him as a Roman soldier. Others suggest Riothamus, king of the Britons during the fifth century. In any case, we're reasonably confident that the historical Arthur — whoever he was — didn't have easy access to two hollowed-out coconuts.


MARY MAGDALENE

For seemingly forever, much of mankind has celebrated three major Marys: the Virgin, the Poppins, and the Magdalene. The first birthed a divine baby. The second brandished a magical umbrella. And the third knew men biblically for pay. Or did she? Most people know Mary Magdalene as the penitent prostitute who came to Jesus and atoned for her fleshly indiscretions. But as the BBC observed, there is zero scriptural justification for that belief.

The Bible never described Magdalene as a sinner, let alone a play-for-pay pal. As far as the Good Book is concerned, she was a good woman who did Christ a solid by washing his feet. Plus, she saw his resurrection, which sounds pretty important. The Independent, on the other hand, raised a more radical possibility: that Magdalene married Jesus. A 1,500-year-old text called "The Lost Gospel" claimed that Jesus and his favorite foot-cleanser actually became Mr. and Mrs. Christ and had a kid together. In this alternate history, the Virgin Mary is Mary Magdalene and not Jesus' mom.

So how did the apparent mix-up happen? The BBC posited that Magdalene got conflated with a different biblical Mary (the sister of Martha) and an unnamed prostitute. Smithsonian Magazine similarly postulated that the Bible's five different Marys and three carnally wayward women (who are all nameless) caused confusion. Mary Poppins thankfully doesn't have that problem.

POPE JOAN

Pope Joan supposedly became pope in 855 AD, a time when most women weren't allowed to do anything at all. But then, two years later, she got pregnant and was either murdered or banished that day, depending on the storyteller. It's an amazing tale, both from a feminist and historical perspective.

Except that may be all it is: a tale. According to ABC News, there's lots of debate about whether Pope Joan ever existed. Believers point to hundreds of documents detailing her life, and Renaissance poet Giovanni Boccaccio placing her #51 in his book 100 Famous Women. Plus, St. Peter's Square sports carvings of a woman wearing a papal crown while giving birth. That sounds very Joan.

The Catholic Church's official stance is that she's an urban legend, and legitimate scholars back them up. Professor Valerie Hotchkiss, of Southern Methodist University, believes Joan's story comes largely from a single book: History of Emperors and Popes, by a monk named Martin Polonus. However, Polonus might not have added Joan — somebody else possibly edited her in after his death. From there, other monks blindly added the story into their manuscripts, because it sounded good and they didn't think enough to fact-check it. True or not, we can all agree it's a great story.

PYTHAGORAS


Pythagoras' influence on mathematics can't be overstated, though high school students stumped by the Pythagorean Theorem might argue otherwise. But there's a growing movement of people who don't see Pythagoras as a mere bane of freshman geometry class — they see him as a work of fiction.
Story of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 1, Pythagoras never wrote anything that we know of. Everything we know about the man comes from outside sources like his followers, known as Pythagoreans (like Hulkamaniacs, only way dorkier). There's even doubt that his mathematical breakthroughs came from him or his followers. As told by M.F. Burnyeat, he didn't discover his own theorem, and celestial spheres weren't seriously thought about until decades after he died.

Then there's the Book Of Dead Philosophers, which states even classical scholars think Pythagoras is a made-up famous person. That's because of his lack of writings and also an ancient Italian cult called Pythagoreans. They might well have invented Pythagoras as a figurehead "leader" to justify wacky, fanatical beliefs like "A-squared + B-squared = C-squared." Also, that odd numbers are male and even ones are female. If Pythagoras was real, he was clearly an odd duck.

JOHN HENRY

John Henry has been immortalized in folk music since the 1800s. His "Ballad of John Henry" tells the story of an ex-slave working on the railroad who could wield a hammer with the best of them. He challenged a steam drill to see who could work faster, and he won, though he soon died from sheer exhaustion. The greatest heroes die in the end, and Henry's story has ascended to near-myth because of it.

Thing is, though, he might actually be a myth. As NPR explains, John Henry is almost certainly a "tall tale," though one based on "historical circumstance." There were obviously men working on railroads back in the 1800s, and steam drills were eventually introduced as a way to speed up labor and reduce costs. More than likely, the rail workers disapproved of a machine taking their jobs, so the idea of outworking a machine was an inviting one.

ST. CHRISTOPHER

St. Christopher is one of those jack-of-all-trades saints. He's the patron saint of travelers and fruit dealers. Followers adore him, and his talisman is a popular item among believers and tourists alike. There's just one issue: He may not have been a real saint, or even a real person.

As explained by the LA Times, many scholars are convinced he wasn't real. At the least, they feel that were he real, everything saintly about him is based on pure myth. Instead of someone who accepted Christ and converted 40,000 pagans to Christianity before being martyred, he might have been just a regular guy who, after being captured by the Romans and drafted into their military, converted to Christianity and was murdered for it. Those from the local church called him Christopher since they didn't know his real name, and Christopher meant "bearer of Christ" so it worked.

The issue of his existence is so controversial that, in 1969, the Vatican "kicked [him] off the universal calendar," meaning his feast day was no longer required, and you only had to venerate him if you really wanted to. But he was never de-sanctified because, according to Professor David Woods of University College Cork, Christopher "has a genuine historical core." We may never know.

KUNTA KINTE

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Roots, Alex Haley poignantly wrote: "In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage." His own ancestral hunger led him to Juffureh, Gambia, where his great-great-great-great grandfather Kunta Kinte (depicted above) was purportedly born. Per Haley's own description, Kinte lost his freedom in 1767 when he was enslaved by British captors. Bondage didn't break his spirit, however. After arriving in America, Kinte repeatedly defied his oppressors, escaping multiple times.

About 200 years after Kinte's kidnapping, the TV miniseries Roots became an instant classic. According to CNN, the broadcast marked a watershed moment in American perceptions of slavery. It also deeply impacted Gambia, where an island was named after Kinte and his birthplace became a tourist attraction. These are effects are real, but there's a really strong chance that Kinte isn't.

You might already know that Haley's Roots had a strained relationship with the truth and got pretty chummy with plagiarism, but it's worse than you might think. As the Washington Post reported, journalist Mark Ottoway ripped Roots' avowed historicity to shreds, dismissing Kinte's backstory as highly implausible. Haley's single source of information was a demonstrably unreliable villager. And at the time Kinte was supposedly enslaved, his village was already a British trading post where Gambians worked alongside, not against, slavers. Unless Haley's chronology was way off, a real-life Kinte would have likely remained free. Whatever Haley hungered for, it wasn't accuracy.

LYCURGUS

Lycurgus is famous as the lawgiver who shaped much of ancient Sparta's legal policy. Someone had to come up with these laws, so why not Lycurgus, a guy well-versed in doing so? Well, maybe Lycurgus was just a mascot.

According to Britannica, several writers and historians from the fourth century BC and prior wrote of Lycurgus, though rarely did they agree on specifics. Herodotus, for example, wrote that his policies were shaped by what Crete did. He also said Lycurgus belonged to the Agiad house, one of two Spartan houses that controlled the nation's royalty. Meanwhile, a historian named Xenophon believed his ideas came from the Dorians after they invaded Laconia and turned the Achaean people there into serfs. By Xenophon's time, many people believed Lycurgus was part of Sparta's other ruling house, Eurypontid, and was king regent there. Basically, his origin story is more muddled than Wolverine's.

It gets even more confusing because some scholars believe a guy named Lycurgus really existed and really played a role in introducing sweeping reform to quell a major serf revolt in the seventh century BC. But the famous Lycurgus who basically shaped Spartan law by himself, many believe, wasn't real, he was just used as a catch-all figure for ancient Greeks to name-check when discussing politics, as they were apparently wont to do. It's certainly easier than rattling off the many hundreds of names who played an actual role.

LAO DAN

The founder of Taoism, ancient Chinese philosopher Lao "Laozi" Dan is a revered figure indeed. Those who do so, however, may be looking up to a made-up master.

According to GB Times, there's a ton of confusion regarding Lao Dan, including his name. Some believe Lao Dan was his real name, while others think scholar Sima Qian — among the first to write of Dan — confused stories he heard about Laozi with that of another philosopher, Li Er.  According to this theory, he mistakenly combined the names to come up with Laozi, or Lao Dan. But Laozi was also a term of respect for Laoist teachers, complicating the matter even further.

Then there's his writings. Supposedly, Dan wrote the Tao Te Ching, but reading it's like reading the same book by several different authors. There are many shifts in tone, style, and content, and we currently have little proof the book's language was even used when the book was supposedly published. Likely, then, Laozi's writings were written long after Lao Dan supposedly lived and died, and probably several people cobbled "his" life-affirming teachings together into one semi-coherent package. 
It's like if all the stories in Chicken Soup For The Soul were credited to one guy named Bill.



Do you believe it or not ???

The Roving Reporter