elections, the war in Ukraine and abortion.

TikTok’s algorithm tends to keep people on the app, making it harder for them to turn to additional sources to fact-check searches, Ms. Tripodi added.

“You aren’t really clicking to anything that would lead you out of the app,” she said. “That makes it even more challenging to double-check the information you’re getting is correct.”

TikTok has leaned into becoming a venue for finding information. The app is testing a feature that identifies keywords in comments and links to search results for them. In Southeast Asia, it is also testing a feed with local content, so people can find businesses and events near them.

Building out search and location features is likely to further entrench TikTok — already the world’s most downloaded app for those ages 18 to 24, according to Sensor Tower — among young users.

TikTok “is becoming a one-stop shop for content in a way that it wasn’t in its earlier days,” said Lee Rainie, who directs internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center.

That’s certainly true for Jayla Johnson, 22. The Newtown, Pa., resident estimated that she watches 10 hours of TikTok videos a day and said she had begun using the app as a search engine because it was more convenient than Google and Instagram.

“They know what I want to see,” she said. “It’s less work for me to actually go out of my way to search.”

Ms. Johnson, a digital marketer, added that she particularly appreciated TikTok when she and her parents were searching for places to visit and things to do. Her parents often wade through pages of Google search results, she said, while she needs to scroll through only a few short videos.

“God bless,” she said she thinks. “You could have gotten that in seconds.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The World’s Relationship With Nuclear Energy Is Changing

By Newsy Staff
August 17, 2022

Though the idea of nuclear energy has historically been unpopular, the debate has now changed toward a push for more of it.

After decades of shutting down nuclear plants across the country, there is now a sudden growing political movement to hit the brakes, with much of it being led by environmental scientists.

A study from Pew Research Center found that nuclear power was barely more popular than coal and oil among the U.S. public, as vast majorities of respondents were instead in favor of increasing wind and solar energy intake. Despite this, the Biden administration announced $6 billion to keep current nuclear plants operational, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is now pushing to keep the state’s last remaining nuclear plant, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, open. 

So, how has the debate around nuclear energy changed, and why are we seeing this sudden shift for a less popular energy source?

In the postwar period, nuclear power plants began springing up around the country, encouraged by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who famously made his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the U.N. But, that wasn’t enough to calm the fears of nuclear armament and attacks as the U.S. headed into the Cold War. 

Nuclear power plants depend on fuel rods where fission occurs, or in other words, the splitting of an atom. The rods are surrounded by water which helps keep them cool. The fission creates heat, which boils the surrounding water to make steam. The steam is what powers a turbine to make energy.

If, for some reason, the fuel rods get too hot, that can cause a meltdown.

In 1979, the first major accident happened at a U.S. power plant. The Three Mile Island incident was a partial meltdown of a plant in Pennsylvania, where cleanup took over 20 years. Conflicting studies haven’t conclusively determined whether the disaster led to health problems, such as a rise in cancer in the area, but the image was already set in the public’s mind. The number of nuclear plants being built and kept open plummeted.

Further high-profile disasters made a lasting impact worldwide: In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union had horrific and deadly consequences. Then in 2011, Fukushima plant meltdown only added to the list, even though there were no reported deaths. These disasters also reinforced national security concerns about plants being potential targets of terrorist groups or wartime enemies, like Russia in Ukraine.

There are a number of things that have changed in recent years: Safer technology is being developed for future facilities, and now that China and Russia have overtaken the U.S. in the number of nuclear plants, there are new concerns about being energy independent.

But, one of the biggest reasons for the recent shift is climate change.

Nuclear power is still crucial to the energy grid. It still generates about 20% of the U.S. electricity supply, and it’s the single largest non-fossil energy source in the U.S. and second globally. Advocates say nuclear is going to be essential in order to meet emission goals in the fight for climate change.

Nuclear is what’s known as a “firm” energy source, meaning it’s always able to meet demand and produce energy. Renewables, like wind and solar may also be clean, but they are limited by things like the weather or time of year. 

So, the infrastructure needed for solar and wind energy to match nuclear’s output just can’t be built fast enough to quickly replace both fossil fuels and nuclear. As a result, nuclear often just gets replaced by fossil fuels, which can be seen in cases from plant closures in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and more.

There’s no easy solution when it comes to nuclear power. And as the country races to meet its emissions goals, it seems clear that existing nuclear power plants will be part of the strategy in some way.

Back in California at the Diablo Canyon plant, the governor announced last week plans to keep the plant open for another five to 10 years. The plant’s scheduled closing date was 2025. Gov. Newsom plans to use federal funds as a loan to The Pacific Gas & Electric company, which provides energy to millions of households in California, to keep the facility running.

The U.S. isn’t alone in rethinking the plant closures. Many parts of Europe are also rethinking nuclear energy — both as countries race to meet climate goals, and as they struggle with an energy crisis spurred on by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Some of these major sudden policy reversals could unfold as early as this fall.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Why Are Fewer Americans Religious?

and Maya Saenz
August 3, 2022

Survey findings show Protestantism and Catholicism in America have seen a great drop in identification.

There are approximately 5.8 billion religiously affiliated people worldwide according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

In the U.S., Gallup data suggests three in four Americans identify with a religious faith.  

But those numbers are dropping.

2020 Gallup numbers found less than half of Americans belong to a church, mosque or synagogue, a low-point since Gallup began asking the question over 80 years ago and a shift  that researchers believe is widespread. 

Survey findings show Protestantism and Catholicism in America have seen a great drop in identification. 

Pew Research polling shows under one in five Americans identify as Catholic, a three percent decline since 2009. 

It’s not that these Americans are turning to other religions. They’re turning away from it all together. 

Experts call this growing group religious ‘nones’ — which are made up of atheists, agnostics, and those with no specific organized religion. 

America’s belief in God has dropped 6% since 2017 — to a new low of 81%, according to Gallup. 

Gallup polls show 66% of adults born before 1946 are still members of a religious organization. 

That number drops to 58% for baby boomers, 50% for gen X and just 36% for millenials.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

How New Laws Across India Are Seeking to Ban All Interfaith Marriages

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — Manmeet Kour Bali had to defend her marriage in court.

A Sikh by birth, Ms. Bali converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man. Her parents objected to a marriage outside their community and filed a police complaint against her new husband.

In court last month, she testified that she had married for love, not because she was coerced, according to a copy of her statement reviewed by The New York Times. Days later, she ended up in India’s capital of New Delhi, married to a Sikh man.

Religious diversity has defined India for centuries, recognized and protected in the country’s Constitution. But interfaith unions remain rare, taboo and increasingly illegal.

A spate of new laws across India, in states ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., are seeking to banish such unions altogether.

the idea that Muslim men marry women of other faiths to spread Islam. Critics contend that such laws fan anti-Muslim sentiment under a government promoting a Hindu nationalist agenda.

Last year, lawmakers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh passed legislation that makes religious conversion by marriage an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. So far, 162 people there have been arrested under the new law, although few have been convicted.

Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk and the top elected official of Uttar Pradesh, said shortly before that state’s Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance was passed.

Four other states ruled by the B.J.P. have either passed or introduced similar legislation.

In Kashmir, where Ms. Bali and Mr. Bhat lived, members of the Sikh community have disputed the legitimacy of the marriage, calling it “love jihad.” They are pushing for similar anti-conversion rules.

interrupted a wedding ceremony in December. The couple were taken into custody, and released the following day when both proved they were Muslim, according to regional police, who blamed “antisocial elements” for spreading false rumors.

A Pew Research Center study found that most Indians are opposed to anyone, but particularly women, marrying outside their religion. The majority of Indian marriages — four out of five — are arranged.

The backlash against interfaith marriages is so widespread that in 2018, India’s Supreme Court ordered state authorities to provide security and safe houses to those who wed against the will of their communities.

In its ruling, the court said outsiders “cannot create a situation whereby such couples are placed in a hostile environment.”

The country’s constitutional right to privacy has also been interpreted to protect couples from pressure, harassment and violence from families and religious communities.

Muhabit Khan, a Muslim, and Reema Singh, a Hindu, kept their courtship secret from their families, meeting for years in dark alleyways, abandoned houses and desolate graveyards. Ms. Singh said her father threatened to burn her alive if she stayed with Mr. Khan.

In 2019, they married in a small ceremony with four guests, thinking their families would eventually accept their decision. They never did, and the couple left the central Indian city of Bhopal to start a new life together in a new city.

“The hate has triumphed over love in India,” Mr. Khan said, “And it doesn’t seem it will go anywhere soon.”

In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, the B.J.P.-led government passed a bill in March modeled after the Uttar Pradesh law, stiffening penalties for religious conversion through marriage and making annulments easier to obtain.

The government is not “averse to love,” said the state’s home minister, Narottam Mishra, “but is against jihad.”

Members of Kashmir’s Sikh community are using Ms. Bali’s marriage to a Muslim man, Shahid Nazir Bhat, to press for a similar law in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We immediately need a law banning interfaith marriage here,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina, a Sikh activist based in Srinagar. “It will help save our daughters, both Muslims and Sikhs.”

At a mosque in northern Kashmir in early June, Ms. Bali, 19, and Mr. Bhat, 29, performed Nikah, a commitment to follow Islamic law during their marriage, according to their notarized marriage agreement.

Afterward, Ms. Bali returned to her parents’ home, where she said she was repeatedly beaten over the relationship.

“Now my family is torturing me. If anything happens to me or to my husband, I will kill myself,” she said in a video posted to social media.

The day after she recorded the video, Ms. Bali left home and reunited with Mr. Bhat.

Even though a religious ceremony between people of the same faith — as Mr. Bhat and Ms. Bali were after her conversion — is recognized as legally valid, the couple had a civil ceremony and got a marriage license to bolster their legal protections. The marriage agreement noted that the union “has been contracted by the parties against the wish, will and consent of their respective parents.

“Like thousands of other couples who don’t share same the religious belief but respect each other’s faith, we thought we will create a small world of our own where love will triumph over everything else,” Mr. Bhat said. “But that very religion became the reason of our separation.”

Ms. Bali’s father filed a police complaint against Mr. Bhat, accusing him of kidnapping his daughter and forcing her to convert.

On June 24, the couple turned themselves into the police in Srinagar, where both were detained.

At the court, Ms. Bali recorded her testimony before a judicial magistrate, attesting that it was her will to convert to Islam and marry Mr. Bhat, according to her statement. Outside, her parents and dozens of Sikh protesters protested, demanding that she be returned to them.

It is unclear how the court ruled. The judicial magistrate declined requests for a transcript or an interview. Her parents declined an interview request.

The day after the hearing, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the head of the largest Sikh gurudwara in New Delhi, flew to Srinagar. He picked up Ms. Bali, with her parents, and helped organize her marriage to another man, a Sikh. Following the ceremony, Mr. Sirsa flew with the couple to Delhi.

“It would be wrong to say that I convinced her,” Mr. Sirsa said in an interview. “If anything adverse was happening, she should have said.”

A written request for an interview with Ms. Bali was sent via Mr. Sirsa. He said she did not want to talk.

“She had a real breakdown,” he said, repeating Ms. Bali’s parents’ claims that their daughter was kidnapped and forced to marry Mr. Bhat.

Mr. Bhat was released from police custody four days after Ms. Bali left for Delhi.

At his home in Srinagar, he is fighting the kidnapping charges. He said he was preparing a legal battle to win her back, but he feared the Sikh community’s disapproval would make their separation permanent.

“If she comes back and tells a judge she is happy with that man, I will accept my fate,” he said.

Sameer Yasir and Iqbal Kirmani reported from Srinagar, Kashmir, and Emily Schmall reported from New Delhi.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Tensions Among Democrats Grow Over Israel as the Left Defends Palestinians

In 1988, when James Zogby, the founder of the Arab American Institute, pushed Democrats to include a mention of Palestinian sovereignty in their platform, party leaders responded with a clear warning, he recalled: “If the P-word is even in the platform, all hell will break loose.” Eager to stave off an angry confrontation at the convention, the issue was shelved without a vote.

Now, with violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories forcing the issue back to the forefront of American politics, divisions between the leadership of the Democratic Party and the activist wing have burst into public view. While the Biden administration is handling the growing conflict as a highly sensitive diplomatic challenge involving a longstanding ally, the ascendant left views it as a searing racial justice issue that is deeply intertwined with the politics of the United States.

For those activists, Palestinian rights and the decades-long conflict over land in the Middle East are linked to causes like police brutality and conditions for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Party activists who fight for racial justice now post messages against the “colonization of Palestine” with the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter.

With President Biden in the White House, traditional U.S. support for Israel is hardly in question from a policy perspective; he has made his support for the country clear throughout his nearly 50 years in public life. Still, the terms of the debate are shifting in Democratic circles.

had asserted that Israel had a right to defend itself. “Do Palestinians have a right to survive?” she asked in an impassioned address. “Do we believe that? And if so, we have a responsibility to that as well.”

Less than 24 hours later, on Friday, nearly 150 prominent liberal advocacy organizations issued a joint statement calling for “solidarity with the Palestinian residents” and condemning “Israeli state violence” and “supremacy” in Jerusalem.

The statement was signed not just by groups focused on Middle Eastern and Jewish issues but by groups dedicated to causes like climate change, immigration, feminism and racial justice — a sign that for the party’s liberal faction, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved far beyond the realm of foreign policy.

“The base of the party is moving in a very different direction than where the party establishment is,” Mr. Zogby said. “If you support Black Lives Matter, it was not a difficult leap to saying Palestinian lives matter, too.”

Leaders of the country’s biggest pro-Israel lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, say they are confident of their support from the White House and Capitol Hill, pointing to continued congressional backing of several billion dollars in aid to Israel annually. Before Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other liberals took the House floor on Thursday, other Democratic lawmakers offered their “unwavering and steadfast support” for Israel.

growing global anti-Semitism, while young voters struggle to reconcile the right-wing policies of the Israeli government with their own liberal values.

A survey released in the past week by the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of American Jews 65 and older described themselves as emotionally attached to Israel, compared with 48 percent of Jewish adults under 30.

closely aligned his administration with the embattled prime minister and delivered a long-sought Israeli goal of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem.

In return, Mr. Netanyahu promoted Mr. Trump among Republicans and conservative Christians in the U.S., lifting his standing with the evangelical leaders who wield so much influence over the voters who proved vital to Mr. Trump’s electoral support.

Mr. Biden devoted little attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an intractable issue that had bedeviled his predecessors. But the violence in recent days, the worst in years, has proved just how difficult that will be. And now, Mr. Biden finds his administration buffeted by conflicting forces within his coalition.

“Neglect is not a policy,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street, who would like to see Mr. Biden more engaged in the region.

As the fighting has exploded, Mr. Biden has relied on a familiar playbook: full-throated support for Israel’s right to defend itself, and no mention of the Palestinians. He has expressed regret for deaths on both sides and has voiced hopes for “restoring a sustainable calm.”

spoke against the deal to a joint session of Congress, at the invitation of Republicans. The appearance angered many Democrats, particularly supporters of Israel who oppose Mr. Netanyahu’s policies.

Ron Dermer, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, suggested in the past week that Israel should focus more on the “passionate and unequivocal” support of evangelical Christians instead of American Jews, who he said were “disproportionately among our critics.”

But many Jewish progressives say their criticism comes from a place of love and idealism. They argue that the Israeli and American governments would be wise to tune out some of the partisan language and move beyond what they call the false choice of being either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian.

“What most American Jews desire is to see Israelis and Palestinians living in dignity, in a just and equitable society,” said Rabbi Sharon Brous, the leader of IKAR, a large progressive synagogue in Los Angeles. “It is imperative that we support a third way,” she said, “recognizing the generational trauma and suffering of both peoples and creating a just and shared future for everyone.”

View Source

More in U.S. Embrace Covid Vaccines, Pew Poll Shows

Vaccine hesitancy has been a concern among U.S. public health experts for months now. But evidence increasingly suggests that as vaccination rates increase, many unvaccinated Americans are becoming more comfortable with the idea of receiving the shot themselves.

The proportion of adults in the country who intend to get vaccinated has increased significantly over the last several months, according to a survey released Friday by the Pew Research Center. Sixty-nine percent of the public now plans to get vaccinated — or already has — up from 60 percent who said in November that they intended to pursue it.

The issue has become more partisan over time, however. The new survey finds a 27-percentage point political gap, with 83 percent of Democrats saying they plan to get the vaccine or have already received it, compared to just 56 percent of Republicans.

Despite the divides, the new survey bolsters optimism that overall, Americans are increasingly open to receiving the vaccine. About 54 million people — 16 percent of the population — had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

vaccinated at lower rates in part because they face obstacles like language barriers and inadequate access to digital technology, medical facilities and transportation. Mistrust in government officials and doctors also plays a role, experts say, and is fed by misinformation that is spread on social media. President Biden has made equity a major focus of his pandemic response, saying he wants pharmacies, mobile vaccination units and community clinics that help underserved communities to help increase the pace of vaccinations.

Overall, those surveyed by Pew who say they do not plan to get the vaccine cite reasons including concerns about side effects and a feeling that the vaccines were developed too quickly. Others say they are waiting for more information about how well they work.

The Pew results echo a survey released last week from the Kaiser Family Foundation that found vaccine hesitancy declining among most demographic groups. That survey also found a significant political gap, but noted that both Democrats and Republicans were significantly more likely to say they intended to get the vaccine now than in December.

View Source