Black Lives Matter group will not endorse any presidential candidates for 2016 election

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The Black Lives Matter network will skip a presidential endorsement but keep up its political activism by confronting candidates about the treatment of African-Americans in the United States, one of the group’s founders says.

In an Associated Press interview, Alicia Garza discussed the organization’s refusal to settle on a preferred candidate in the 2016 race to succeed President Barack Obama and pledged to press ahead with protests and interruptions during the campaign.

“Sometimes you have to put a wrench in the gears to get people to listen,” said Garza, who spoke at the 7th Annual Black Women’s Roundtable Policy Forum last week.

The Black Lives Matter movement traces its roots to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012, and gained national ground after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Since then, deaths of other unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement officers have inspired protests under the “Black Lives Matter” moniker.

Some are affiliated with the original network founded by Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, Garza and their allies. Some are not, although they use the slogan.

While the Black Lives Matter groupwill not officially endorse any candidate, Garza said any member of the group is free to do so on their own. Corey Williams/AP

While the Black Lives Matter groupwill not officially endorse any candidate, Garza said any member of the group is free to do so on their own.

Black Lives Matter activists grabbed headlines when they disrupted a Seattle rally last month right before Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, was about to speak. Others claiming to represent Black Lives Matter have met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush.

The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of African-American lawmakers in the House and Senate, also was focusing on criminal justice and police reforms during its annual legislative conference this weekend.

The Democratic National Committee acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement at its Aug. 1 meeting in Minneapolis with a resolution saying it “joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black lives matter’ and the ‘say her name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African-American men, women and children.”

The network said the resolution would not get its endorsement, and Garza reaffirmed that the official Black Lives Matter organization will not endorse any political party or candidate this election cycle.

The group said in the future it may endorse candidates or even run candidates of their own. Pictured is Renda Writer, a muralist expressing his support for the movement one word at a time on a Detroit art gallery exterior wall. Corey Williams/AP

The group said in the future it may endorse candidates or even run candidates of their own. Pictured is Renda Writer, a muralist expressing his support for the movement one word at a time on a Detroit art gallery exterior wall.

“Black Lives Matter as a network will not, does not, has not, ain’t going to endorse any candidates,” Garza said. “Now if there are activists within the movement that want to do that independently, they should feel free and if that’s what makes sense for their local conditions, that’s fantastic. But as a network, that’s not work we’re engaged in yet.”

In the future, the organization may become more involved with candidates and parties, and even run candidates, she said, but added that “we’re not there yet.”

“It’s too early in the development of the network and it’s too early in the genesis of the movement to rally around anyone in particular who hasn’t demonstrated that they feel accountable to the Black Lives Matter movement or network,” said Garza, who also works with the National Domestic Worker Alliance.

“What we’ve seen is an attempt by mainstream politics and politicians to co-opt movements that galvanize people in order for them to move closer to their own goals and objectives,” she said. “We don’t think that playing a corrupt game is going to bring change and make black lives matter.”

Source: http://nydn.us/1MH9oC7

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Scientists reduce belief in God by shutting down the brain’s medial frontal cortex

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New research involving a psychologist from the University of York has revealed for the first time that both belief in God and prejudice towards immigrants can be reduced by directing magnetic energy into the brain.

Dr Keise Izuma collaborated with a team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to carry out an innovative experiment using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a safe way of temporarily shutting down specific regions of the brain.

The researchers targeted the posterior medial frontal cortex, a part of the brain located near the surface and roughly a few inches up from the forehead that is associated with detecting problems and triggering responses that address them.

In the study, half of the participants received a low-level “sham” procedure that did not affect their brains, and half received enough energy to lower activity in the target brain area. Next, all of the participants were first asked to think about death, and then were asked questions about their religious beliefs and their feelings about immigrants.

The findings, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, reveal that people in whom the targeted brain region was temporarily shut down reported 32.8% less belief in God, angels, or heaven. They were also 28.5% more positive in their feelings toward an immigrant who criticised their country.

Dr Izuma, from the University’s Department of Psychology, said: “People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems. We wanted to find out whether a brain region that is linked with solving concrete problems, like deciding how to move one’s body to overcome an obstacle, is also involved in solving abstract problems addressed by ideology.”

This interest in the brain basis of ideology led the team to focus on religion and nationalism.

Dr Izuma added: “We decided to remind people of death because previous research has shown that people turn to religion for comfort in the face of death. As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death.”

The investigators asked participants to respond to both negative and positive emotional aspects of religion and of nationalism. Specifically, they rated belief in the Devil, demons, and Hell, in addition to God, angels, and heaven. All potential participants were pre-screened to make sure that they held religious convictions before beginning the experiment.

With regard to nationalistic ideology, the participants read two essays ostensibly written by recent immigrants. One essay was extremely complimentary toward the United States, and the other essay was extremely critical.

The investigators found that the magnetic stimulation had the greatest effect on reactions to the critical author.

“We think that hearing criticisms of your group’s values, perhaps especially from a person you perceive as an outsider, is processed as an ideological sort of threat,” said Dr Izuma.

“One way to respond to such threats is to ‘double down’ on your group values, increasing your investment in them, and reacting more negatively to the critic,” he continued.

“When we disrupted the brain region that usually helps detect and respond to threats, we saw a less negative, less ideologically motivated reaction to the critical author and his opinions.”

Dr Colin Holbrook, from UCLA and the lead author of the paper, added: “These findings are very striking, and consistent with the idea that brain mechanisms that evolved for relatively basic threat-response functions are repurposed to also produce ideological reactions. However, more research is needed to understand exactly how and why religious beliefs and ethnocentric attitudes were reduced in this experiment.”

The scientists say that whether we’re trying to clamber over a fallen tree that we find in our path, find solace in religion, or resolve issues related to immigration, our brains are using the same basic mental machinery.

Source: http://bit.ly/1PlCcSz