Young Americans shifting US towards becoming less religious nation – Harriet Sherwood Tuesday 3 November 2015 16.31 EST


Growing numbers of ‘millennials’ who are unaffiliated or atheists are causing vast changes in the American religious landscape, report says

Catholic church

Declining levels of religious belief and practice among the generation of Americans born in the last two decades of the 20th century is shifting the US towards becoming a less devout nation, a major new survey has found.

The growing proportion of “millennials” – young adults now in their 20s and 30s – who do not belong to any organised faith is changing America’s religious landscape, says a report by the respected Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 35,000 people.

The religiously unaffiliated or “nones”, who include atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”, have grown to 23% of the US population, compared to 16% at the time of the last comparable survey in 2007.

But three out of four Americans still have some religious faith, mainly Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And 89% of US adults say they believe in God – including a significant proportion of “nones” – making America more religiously inclined than other advanced industrial nations.

Youth largely equates with a lack of religious activity, says the report. One in four millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of those adults born before or during the second world war. Only 38% of adults born after 1990 say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 67% of those born before 1945.

Overall, 55% of American adults say they pray daily, 53% say religion is very important in their lives and 50% attend a religious service at least once a month. Significantly, more women (64%) pray on a daily basis than men (46%).

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/03/young-americans-shift-religious-landscape-less-devout

 

WHATSAPP’S CO-FOUNDER ON HOW THE APP BECAME A PHENOMENON – CADE METZ 10.26.15. 7:00 AM


When Facebook shelled out a stunning $19 billion for WhatsApp in February of last year, few here in the US had heard of the tiny Silicon Valley startup. The move surprised even the small coterie of journalists who so closely cover the Bay Area tech scene. This was because WhatsApp doesn’t do much PR—and because its eponymous smartphone app was predominantly used overseas.

But, oh, how it was used overseas. Facebook shelled out $19 billion because the app—a way of sending text messages over the Internet, without paying the typically high SMS fees that wireless carriers charge to send texts across their private networks—had reached a similarly enormous 450 million people across Europe and the developing world, including India and Africa. Sure, the app was simple. But it met a real need. And it could serve as a platform for building all sorts of other simple services in places where wireless bandwidth is limited but people are hungry for the sort of instant communication we take for granted here in the US. One simple messaging app could provide voice calling, video calling, instant payments, and more.

“It’s an amazingly powerful communication tool, distributed to populations that frankly have been reamed for years by SMS charges, and it has changed all that,” David Soloff, who used WhatsApp to help bootstrap his company, Premise, told us shortly after Facebook acquisition was approved last fall. “This is a profound thing.”

Now, a year after regulators approved the Facebook deal, WhatsApp is used by more than 900 million souls, which places it among the most popular apps on earth. Facebook is used by more than 1.5 billion, but few others even come close. And indeed, WhatsApp has added voice calling to its service, with more additions undoubtedly on the way. What may be most impressive, however, is that the company has done all of this with such a small staff. One of the most popular apps on the planet is run by a company that employs about 50 engineers.

And yet, the US media still has little to say about WhatsApp. The app is still mostly an overseas phenomenon—and the company still does little PR. In the one story they participated in—a profile in Forbes that appeared the day of the Facebook acquisition—company co-founder Jan Koum was unapologetic in saying he considers PR and press a drag on the company’s time. “Marketing and press kicks up dust,” said the Ukraine-born Koum, who founded the company alongside an old Yahoo colleague named Brian Acton. “It gets in your eye, and then you’re not focusing on the product.”

But in the wake of the company’s one-year anniversary with Facebook, Acton agreed to answer some questions, though only by email. The result is below, edited (slightly) for clarity.

 

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/10/whatsapps-co-founder-on-how-the-iconoclastic-app-got-huge/

Michael Green: How we can make the world a better place by 2030 – Filmed September 2015 at TEDGlobal>London


Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. Meeting at the UN in September 2015, they agreed to a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030. Social progress expert Michael Green invites us to imagine how these goals and their vision for a better world can be achieved.

Here’s a look inside the Facebook app that only famous people can use – James Cook Sep. 18, 2015, 7:00 AM


oscar selfie ellen degeneresEllen DeGeneres/APFacebook Mentions is where all the famous people hang out.

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Facebook released a little-known app that, until recently, could be used only by famous people verified by the social network.

It’s called Facebook Mentions.

Mentions is a better way for influential people to “keep in touch with their fans,” according to the company. It’s accessible only to verified Facebook users, a privilege that was previously reserved for celebrities, sports stars, and musicians. Users are verified if they have a blue tick next to their name.

Since journalists can now be verified too, we downloaded the app to see what it does and how it differs from regular Facebook.

White Fright – By Reihan Salam Sept 4 2015


Does Donald Trump represent the ascendancy of white nationalism on the American right?

Is this the face of white nationalism? Donald Trump in New York, Sept. 3, 2015. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Fear of “white nationalism” is very much in vogue. To Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, the rise of Donald Trump is a predictable consequence of the fact that the Republican Party is “the home of an often angry and resentful white constituency,” which fears that discrimination against whites is a growing problem. Evan Osnos of the New Yorker, in a similar vein, seeks to explain the Trump phenomenon by viewing it through the lens of radical white nationalists, who warn that white Americans face cultural genocide as their numerical majority shrinks. Ben Domenech, publisher of the Federalistargues that Republicans face a choice: They can build their coalition around a more inclusive libertarian vision, the path that he prefers, or they can follow Trump and redefine themselves as the defenders of white interests in a bitterly divided multiracial society.

Does Donald Trump represent the ascendancy of white nationalism on the American right? I’m skeptical, for a number of reasons. While anti-immigration rhetoric is certainly a big part of Trump’s appeal, it is also true that he fares particularly well among the minority of Republican voters who identify themselves as moderate or liberal. As a general rule, moderate and liberal Republicans are more favorably inclined toward amnesty and affirmative action than their conservative counterparts. Moreover, as Jason Willick of the American Interest has observed, the leading second-choice candidates are Ben Carson, the black neurosurgeon, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom are senators of Cuban descent, the latter of whom played a leading role in crafting immigration reform legislation. Granted, it could still be true that Trump is benefiting from white racial resentment. It’s just not clear to me that Trump is anything more than Herman Cain with an extra billion or so dollars in the bank and over a decade’s worth of experience as host of one of network television’s most popular reality shows.

Nevertheless, I believe that white identity politics is indeed going to become a more potent force in the years to come, for the simple reason that non-Hispanic whites are increasingly aware of the fact that they are destined to become a minority of all Americans. According to current projections, that day will come in 2044. Non-Hispanic whites will become a minority of eligible voters a few years later, in 2052. According to States of Change, a report by Ruy Teixeira, William H. Frey, and Robert Griffin, California and Texas are set to join Hawaii and New Mexico in having majority-minority electorates in the next few years, and several other states will follow in the 2030s.

Why does it matter that in the near future, non-Hispanic whites will become a minority in one state after another? The most obvious reason is that non-Hispanic whites might lose their sense of security. They will be outnumbered and outvoted. If they remain wealthier than average, as seems likely, they might fear that majority-minority constituencies will vote to redistribute their wealth. Over time, they might resent seeing their cultural symbols give way to those of minority communities—which is to say the cultural symbols of other minority communities.

In a 1916 essay in the Atlantic, Randolph Bourne, at the time one of America’s leading left-wing intellectuals, attacked the melting-pot ideal, in which immigrants to the United States and their descendants were expected to assimilate into a common culture. He saw instead America evolving into “a cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cultures, from whom the sting of devastating competition has been removed.” Instead of forging a common American identity, the country he envisioned would be one where members of minority ethnic groups preserved their cultural separateness.

To fully realize this ideal, however, it was vitally important that Anglo-Saxon Americans not assert themselves in the same way as the members of other ethnic groups. Why? Because if Anglo-Saxon Americans were to celebrate their identity as a people with longstanding ties to their American homeland, it would implicitly discount the American-ness of those from minority ethnic backgrounds. For Bourne, and for those who’ve advocated for his brand of cultural pluralism since, it is the obligation of Anglo-Saxon Americans, and other white Americans with no strong ties to a non-American homeland, to be post-ethnic cosmopolitans. But what if being a post-ethnic cosmopolitan is not actually that satisfying?

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/09/donald_trump_and_white_nationalism_does_the_candidate_s_rise_represent_the.html

‘You Stink’: Rally in Beirut – Vice News Published on Aug 31, 2015


Protesters gathered in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square on Saturday under the rallying cry “You stink!” — a reference to the city’s ongoing waste management crisis — a slogan which has since expanded to represent the population’s frustration with the government’s failure to provide basic services, including water and electricity.

Watch: Quick Hit: Thousands Join ‘You Stink’ Rally in Beirut – http://bit.ly/1JsjH7I

I’m black, but I’m uncomfortable around black people – DANIELLE SMALL SUNDAY, AUG 23, 2015 05:00 PM PDT


I’m black, but I’m uncomfortable around black people

It happened. I failed the “black” test. My hair stylist and I were chatting while she was taking a break from retightening my locs. I made a funny quip, and she extended her palm so that we could partake in the standard Black American handshake. In what was most likely the longest three seconds in the universe, I stared at her hand in befuddlement, trying to figure out what she was doing. By the time I realized that this was the handshake, it was too late. I tried to recover with some weird amalgamation of a fist bump and a high five, but the damage had been done. I had revealed myself to be the Carlton to her Fresh Prince.

I replayed the scene over and over in my head during my walk to the train. How could I have been so oblivious to an obvious cultural norm? This set off a mini existential crisis where I came to one of my greatest philosophical epiphanies: I’m uncomfortable around black people. This is a peculiar realization being that I am also a black person.

But you see, my stylist embodies a certain Harlem black cool I’ve always been told (by white people) that I lack. Every time I walk into the black barbershop where she does hair, I feel like I’m going to be “found out.” In my mind when other black people see me, they’re thinking: “She may look black, but she’s not black black, if you know what I mean.”

Where does this discomfort come from? And why do I think of Blackness as a test I am doomed to fail?

Like most psychological problems, it all began in my childhood, specifically the eight years I spent living in all white towns in rural Wisconsin. If there was one phrase I heard more than “nigger,” it was “You’re not black.” Talk about irony.

Sometimes it was phrased as a “compliment,” meaning you’re one of the good black people. But other times it was meant so white people, whose sole interaction with black culture came through the distorted lens of racist media, could assert their own twisted version of blackness over me.

“I’m blacker than you because I know more Tupac songs than you.”

“You’re not black. Your lips aren’t even that big.”

“You’re not even that black. Look, my ass is fatter than yours.”

“I know so many white girls that can gangsta walk better than you.”

“You’re not black, you can’t even dance!”

It didn’t surprise me that Rachel Dolezal truly thought she was black. I’ve long known that, for many white people, being black is simply checking off a list of well-worn stereotypes.

I always brushed off those comments, because I knew I was black enough to be called “nigger.”  I was black enough that white people stared at me everywhere I went in those lily-white towns. And I was black enough to be accused of stealing during shopping trips.

But if you hear something enough, it can seep into your unconscious and start to guide your decisions. Somewhere along the way I started believing that I wasn’t black enough, whatever that meant. This is the clusterfuck of all realizations: Racism made me uncomfortable around my own people. Ain’t that some shit?

Article continues:

http://www.salon.com/2015/08/24/im_black_but_im_uncomfortable_around_black_people/