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Bernie Sanders Draws Army of 100,000 Volunteers to First Nationwide Organizing Event

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

And this is from a man who is not taking corporate PAC money and is relying on small donors.


Over 100,000 people came together for Bernie Sanders' first nationwide organizing event on Wednesday. Sanders spoke to this army of volunteers via a video livestream, telling them they are needed if he is to overcome the power of what he calls the “billionaire class” – the tight group of the wealthy and corporations that own both the economy and political system.

Sanders, unlike his opponents, is not cultivating a super PAC. He's not taking corporate PAC money, and he is relying on small donors; 81 percent of his donations in the first quarter were from people giving less than $200.

This puts him at a huge monetary disadvantage. Two billionaire brothers in Texas gave a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC $15 million, as much money as Sanders has raised in his whole campaign. But Sanders has a plan to make up the difference: people power.

At an event I attended in East Cobb County – the backyard of some of the nation's GOP power elite, such as Newt Gingrich, Tom Price, and Bob Barr – scores of people crowded into a tavern called Varner's.

“I've been a lifelong Republican, worked in Republican government 35 years,” explained one attendee who said Bernie Sanders has won her over. A common refrain at the meeting was shock and surprise that there were so many progressives in this supposedly conservative part of Georgia. But there were dozens of events across the state. One attendee at a nearby meeting in Acworth, Georgia, reported 80 attendees. Closer to Atlanta, 150 packed into a local Teamsters hall to watch the Bernie Sanders address.

There were numerous meetings just like this all over America, ranging from left-wing hotbeds like Brooklyn, New York to “a town in the Alaskan wilderness of about 1,000 residents.”

The Sanders campaign has organized itself around the principle that organizing people is the only way to take on organized money. With the massive crowds the candidate is drawing at …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why We Made "Walt Disney"

July 30, 2015 in History

July 30, 2015 3:54 p.m.

Mark Samels, Executive Producer of American Experience, has wanted to make a biographical documentary of Walt Disney for many years. As Samels says, the iconic animator’s pervasive influence on American culture made him “a perfect subject for American Experience.”

“The challenge is, Disney is both a person and a brand,” Samels says, “And for 50 years, the Disney corporation has really been controlling of his image.” In this short video, Samels explains how American Experience‘s and PBS’s trustworthy reputations paved the way for filmmakers to gain unprecedented access to the Disney archives in order to tell the in-depth story of Walt Disney — without any editorial input or oversight from The Walt Disney Company.

Walt Disney premieres September 14 and 15 at 9/8c on PBS.

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Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

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Trophy Hunting Helps Save Endangered Species

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Trophy Hunting Helps Save Endangered Species

July 30, 2015

In certain contexts, an animal can be of little use or a nuisance, as in the case of a lion or elephant running unrestrained. On the other hand, the private market has done a lot of good work in providing more sanctuary for animals through

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Jon Stewart Makes Surprise Return to Standup After Unannounced Set By Louis CK

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

Stewart accepted an invitation to go onstage at New York City’s Comedy Cellar, reports Gawker.


One lucky comedy crowd was treated to an incredible twin-billing when “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart made a surprise return to standup Wednesday night following an unannounced set by Louis CK.

Stewart accepted an invitation to go onstage at New York City’s Comedy Cellar as Louis CK tried out some new material, reported Gawker.

“Would Stewart like to go up next?” said Sean L. McCarthy, who attended the show. “Yes, it turned out. Very much so. Even if he just talked for 10 minutes, the prospect looked too juicy to pass up. Even if he was following CK. Perhaps because he was following CK. It’s fascinating to see and to know that a star goes through the same emotions before, during and after shaking off the proverbial rust of not having gone onstage as a stand-up in far too long.”

McCarthy, who writes for the Comic’s Comic website said Stewart opened by pointing it had been 20 years since he last tried standup comedy, and he closed by shouting, “I’m alive.”

Stewart, who’s stepping down next week after 17 years as host of the “Daily Show,” recently told his talk show audience that he could see himself returning to standup comedy.

“That’s how I started and that’s — I’m sure that’s how I will end,” he said. “Eighty years old, standing on stage, going ‘ah, come on!’”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Bernie Sanders: We Need Medicare for All, Not Cutbacks That Will Kill Our Seniors

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Sarah Burris, AlterNet

The 50th anniversary of Medicare is a reminder that this program needs to be stronger to meet today's challenges.


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Representative Donna Edwards joined the rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare in Washington, D.C. this Thursday with several hundred nurses, health care workers, and labor allies.

Senator Sanders touted the success of the Medicare program and the millions of seniors and disabled patients it has helped. “Before Medicare, If you were poor and old or sick, you had no options, you died or you suffered,” he said.

The familiar Sanders crusade to fix financial inequalities is a key reason Sanders says he supports a single-payer system and promised to announce legislation within the next year. “We need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman, and child,” he told the cheering crowd. “Every year, thousands die just because they can't afford to go to the doctor. No one should go into the hospital and have to file for bankruptcy when they come out.” The Sanders plan, he said, will provide healthcare through the most “cost effective way, and that is a Medicare for all.”

Recent suggestions from Republican Party presidential candidate Jeb Bush that Medicare should be phased out has lead to linguistic punches from many progressive thinkers including economist Paul Krugman, who wrote this week ”It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.”

Senator Sanders told The Hill Bush's comments are an example of how far right the Republican Party has become when their so-called moderate candidate is advocating “phasing out” Medicare.  

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, it is important that we defend this enormously important program rather than talk about ending it,” Sanders continued. “Medicare provides health care to 51 million American seniors and people with disabilities and has saved the lives of countless Americans. Further, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the finances of Medicare have been significantly improved and it is now fully funded for the next 15 years through 2030. Our goal as a nation should be to join the rest of the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Donald Trump Is Causing the 5 Stages of Republican Grief

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Marcy Wheeler, Salon

Republicans hoping to take back the White House have found a badly coiffed billionaire standing in their way.


It’s been more than a month since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for presidency. And rather than quickly self-combust, as many expected, the Donald has actually enjoyed a cresting wave of support, taking him straight to the top of the GOP field. Not even a string of high-profile flaps seem to have any impact on the man’s surging popularity.

While once thought of as a flash in the pan, Trump’s candidacy has proven to be a far bigger problem for the Republican Party than establishment figures ever expected. In coping with such a colossal headache, the Party seems to be following the Kübler-Ross model of grief – the model frequently used to describe how people come to grips with the death of a loved one.

Let’s observe:

Step 1: Denial

Most institutional Republicans still appear to still be in the denial stage: “He doesn’t really want to be President, he just wants to run and get lots of attention doing so.” “Primary polling that show him leading the GOP field, by a good margin, is just a mirage.” “His candidacy will fade like those of other novelty GOP candidates in the past, even if he started with far more name recognition and money than any of those predecessors.” “He’s not really worth $9 billion and maybe not even $3 billion.””As soon as yet another imagined dream candidate gets in the race he’ll start eating into Trump’s lead.” ”He — or an staffer – said something so offensive it will make him toxic.” Curiously, this latter form of denial always seems to focus on what Trump said, not what he did.

Step 2: Anger

It’s that series of things that Trump has said, starting with the claim that immigrants are rapists,, which Republicans (fairly) worry might damage the party brand, that has led them to start lashing out — although the response was muted, as anything short of full-blown nativism risks damaging the national prospects of GOP candidates these days.

Trump’s attack on John McCain’s service in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Walter Palmer Alone Is Not to Blame for Cecil the Lion's Death

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

The killing of the majestic lion called Cecil by Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, has been condemned throughout the world. Mr Palmer, who shot the well-known beast after it was lured away from a Zimbabwean game reserve, has expressed regret and gone into hiding.

But he is far from the only one at fault. The government of Zimbabwe has pauperised its nation and starved the country’s wildlife protection units of funds. It has also destroyed property rights and the rule of law.

I visited the Hwange National Park, Cecil’s erstwhile home, in 1995. Even then, Hwange was considered one of Southern Africa’s lesser parks. Infrastructure and accommodation were inferior to others in the region, such as South Africa’s Kruger, Namibia’s Etosha and Botswana’s Chobe. Park officials were unhelpful and sullen. The state of the park and the behaviour of its staff reflected Zimbabwe’s declining fortunes. But things were about to become much worse.

Towards the end of the 1990s, the opposition to Robert Mugabe — the dictator who has misruled the country since 1980 — grew in strength. When he lost a nationwide referendum on a new constitution at the turn of the century, Mugabe realised a defeat in the next election was likely. He decided to destroy the opposition by expropriating the commercial farmers who formed the financial backbone of the opposition movement.

Zimbabwe’s government has starved wildlife protection of funds.”

The frontal attack on the property rights of the farmers wiped out much of Zimbabwe’s export earnings and sent destructive ripples throughout the rest of the economy. Land titles became worthless and could not serve as collateral. The banking sector seized up. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe stepped in and unleashed the printing presses. What followed was the second greatest hyperinflation in history, which Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University estimated to have reached 90 sextillion (that is 9 followed by 22 zeroes) per cent in 2008.

Living standards plummeted to levels last seen in the 1950s. Average life expectancy fell from 63 years to 43. Unemployment rose to between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. The cholera outbreak of 2008 that killed thousands of people merely demonstrated the obvious — Zimbabwe was now a failed country.

Amid the human suffering, starving people resorted to killing their pets and wildlife to survive. Some animals were eaten, while others were killed for their skins. In 2008, which …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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An 'ISIS-free Zone' Is Nothing but a Road to US Mission Creep

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

The US war against Isis is being fought on autopilot, with little thought given to whether our actions will hurt or help American interests in the long-run. This weeks’ agreement between the United States and Turkey to create an ill-defined “Isis-free zone” in the north of Syria is just the latest example of this problem. Not only will it fail to reconcile the vastly different goals sought by America and its allies, it also risks mission creep, increasing US involvement in the Syrian conflict with little chance of success.

According to US officials, the joint creation of a 68-mile Isis-free zone within Syria is supposed to provide a space where coalition airstrikes eliminate Isis forces and cede control to moderate Syrian rebels focused on combating Isis. It’s still unclear precisely what form this will take, and the confusion rises to the highest levels of Washington and Ankara. Turkish spokesmen, for example, have described it as a safe zone for refugees, a description refuted by US officials.

The US’ involvement in Syria displays no strategy, no boundaries and no clear goals. The only viable long-term solution to Syria’s problems is diplomacy.”

US officials have also been clear that the agreement will not encompass a no-fly zone. Since Isis possesses no air power of any kind, the US has previously refused the demands of states like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to create a no-fly zone — similar to that put in place in Libya in 2011. A no-fly zone would prevent Assad from carrying out airstrikes, benefiting anti-government Syrian rebels, but would be extremely costly and bring the US into direct conflict with the Assad regime. Here we see a familiar conundrum: the United States says it is only engaged in fighting Isis, but its Middle Eastern allies also aim to overthrow the Assad regime.

The US refusal to impose a no fly-zone is a wise policy. There is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is monstrous, but a violent overthrow would create a power vacuum which would primarily benefit Isis, al-Nusra and other extremist groups operating in Syria. This is where US wisdom begins to wane: even without a formal no-fly zone, the creation of a US-backed Isis-free zone moves us closer to direct confrontation with the Assad regime.

Furthermore, the ambiguity around the ‘Isis-free zone’ creates a clear risk of escalation. It’s unclear, for example, whether groups engaged …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The IMF Experts Flunk, Again

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

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Steve H. Hanke

My Globe Asia column in May was titled “Greece: Down and Probably Out.” Well, it’s out. Yes, Greece descended from drama to farce rapidly.

If all goes according to plan, the left-wing Greek government will come to an agreement with the so-called troika — the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — over the details of a third bailout program by August 20th. This rescue package will probably be worth €86 billion (U.S. $94.5 billion). So, since 2010, Greece will have received three bailouts worth a whopping €430 billion (U.S. $472.2 billion). This amounts to a staggering €39,000 (U.S. $42,831) for every man, woman, and child in Greece.

Like past bailouts, the third one will fail to stop Greece’s economic death spiral. The experts from the EC, ECB, and particularly those from the IMF have been wrong about the prospects for the Greek economy since day one. The experts have failed to embrace a coherent theory of national income determination. Indeed, they have often engaged in ad hoc theorizing that has, at times, appeared to be convoluted and politically motivated. The result has been a series of wildly optimistic forecasts about the course of the Greek economy followed by wrongheaded policies.

What has been missing from the experts’ toolkit is the monetarist model of national income determination. The monetary approach posits that changes in the money supply, broadly determined, cause changes in nominal national income and the price level (as well as relative prices — like asset prices). Sure enough, the growth of broad money and nominal GDP are closely linked. The data in the following chart speak loudly to the linkage.

Greece’s monetary tune started to be played by the ECB in 2001, when Greece was allowed to adopt the euro on false pretenses. Yes, the experts at the Hellenic Statistical Authority had cooked the Greek books, and the experts at Eurostat knew the Greek data were phony. Still, Greece was allowed to enter the eurozone.

Following the Northern Rock fiasco and bank run in September 2007 and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the ECB allowed the supply of state money to grow. Then, in 2009, Jürgen Stark, the ECB chief economist, convinced the President of the ECB Jean-Claude Trichet that state money (the monetary base) was growing too rapidly and that excessive inflation was just around the corner. In …read more

Source: OP-EDS