You are browsing the archive for 2017 December 29.

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Top 10 U.S. Drug Policy Stories of 2017

December 29, 2017 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Let's put the year to bed.


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Tens of thousands died of drug overdoses, hundreds of thousands were arrested for drugs, yet marijuana is seeing boom times. As we bid adieu to 2017, here are the year's drug policy highlights.

1. The Opioid Crisis Deepens, With Overdose Deaths at an All-Time High

The country's opioid crisis showed no signs of abating in 2017, with the Centers for Disease Control estimating 66,000 overdose deaths this year, up from 63,000 in 2016. To be clear, only about two-thirds of fatal drug overdoses are linked to heroin and prescription opioids, but opioid overdoses surged in 2016 by 28%. It's too early for final data on 2017 overdoses, but there is little reason to doubt that opioids were driving the increase this year. The high levels of overdose deaths have led to a fall in US life expectancy for the past two years, only the third time that has happened in the past century.

2. Fentanyl Is Killing More and More People

The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and its analogs are implicated in an increasingly large number of opioid overdose deaths. While deaths involving prescription opioids are decreasing, fentanyl-related deaths have increased by an average of 88% a year since 2013. Illicitly imported fentanyl from labs in China or Mexico is mixed with heroin with lethal results: Half of the increase in heroin-related overdose deaths is attributable to heroin cut with fentanyl, the CDC reported in September. There were nearly 20,000 deaths attributable to fentanyl and other illicit opioids in 2016; the 2017 numbers are likely to be even worse.

3. Key Federal Drug Policy Positions Remain Unfilled, and Kellyanne Is in Charge

The Trump administration has not nominated anyone …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

America's Imperial Decline Might Be Our Last, Best Hope to Salvage Our Democracy

December 29, 2017 in Blogs

By Jacob Bacharach, AlterNet

Painful as it will be, it's a necessary precondition to creating a more just country.


When the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution asking nations not to build any more diplomatic missions in Jerusalem only to be drubbed 128-9 in the General Assembly, which voted on a similar non-binding resolution last week, America’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, loudly proclaimed that the United States would be “taking names.” Her warning fell on deaf ears, although the U.S. and Israel did manage to cajole that titan of geopolitics, Guatemala, to come around to the American view.

The whole pitiful episode merely confirmed what the Trump administration has made readily apparent: Haley, like the president, has internalized the same impossible tale conservatives have been selling to Fox News grandmas for decades now: that the U.S. is a font of beneficent foreign aid; that the State Department outspends the Pentagon; and that billions and trillions in cash flow ever outward from our vaults and into the greedy hands of ungrateful minor nations that would sink without it. They think, in other words, that we have leverage where we do not.

When the UN announced a reduction in its budget for next fiscal year—something commonplace and long in the works—the U.S. government crowed that this was its doing. No one cared. But in an odd way, combative and stupid as they are, Trump and his circle intuitively grasp something that the mandarins of America’s post-war foreign policy consensus either won't or can't: that the institutions the United States built in order to camouflage and maintain its worldwide empire are increasingly unresponsive to the imperial will. In this respect, their strident nationalism is partially, if accidentally, correct. We ain’t what we used to be.

While our commuter trains leap from their aging tracks, tactical victories in the so-called war on terror produce not a glimpse of distant victory but only the enervating glimmer of a long-strategic defeat. The already barely tolerable oligarchy of late 20th-century capitalism has given way to a high-tech feudalism of the darkest speculative fiction, ruled by a tiny …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Bob Murphy on the Culture Wars

December 29, 2017 in Economics

By Jeff Deist, Robert P. Murphy

Mises Weekends with Jeff Deist

By: Jeff Deist, Robert P. Murphy

Our final show of the year features a talk given by Dr. Bob Murphy at a recent Mises Institute event in Orlando. His topic is the culture wars– and if you think America is divided now, just wait until we have another crash like '08. But Bob is ready with a prescription: less politics & smaller polities. It's time to stop hating each other and start reducing the political power wielded over us, as Bob conveys in his own unique and humorous style.

Listen to Jeff's talk from the event here.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

How a Postal Strike Became a National Emergency for Richard Nixon

December 29, 2017 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Post Office workers on strike at Tenafly, 1970. (Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

In early 1970, National Guardsmen were spotted walking from door to door in neighborhoods throughout the United States. They weren’t conducting a military operation or helping clean up after a natural disaster—they were delivering the mail in the midst of a postal strike that almost brought the United States to a halt.

The eight-day strike of some 150,000 letter carriers in 30 cities took the nation by surprise, but for many in the U.S. Postal Department (forerunner of today’s USPS) it was a long time coming.

At the time, pay raises for postal workers were almost unheard of: After 21 years on the job, noted The New York Times, a letter carrier would only earn $2,266 more than their starting salary. Though unionized, postal workers were forbidden from negotiating for pay raises due to cost of living. There was no chance to earn overtime, and many workers had to find a second job to make ends meet.

To top it off, life as a letter carrier was unforgiving. The work was physically demanding, and even experienced employees had no idea how many hours they would work. They waited in break rooms for long periods, hoping to be called for a few hours of delivering the mail. By 1970, their turnover rate was 23 percent.

Post Office workers on strike at Tenafly, 1970. (Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Tensions boiled over when Congress proposed raising their own salaries by 41 percent in early 1970—but only offered postal employees a 5.4 percent raise. Furious letter carriers in New York called a meeting of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers union on March 17, 1970 to demand a strike.

But the union refused to strike. Union leaders agreed there were legitimate problems, but pointed out that it was illegal for federal workers to strike. (It still is.) Members took a vote. It was close—1,555 for a strike, 1,055 against. However, a group of pro-strike workers led by Vincent Sombrotto defied their union and decided to stop work the next morning.

This “wildcat” strike—one that goes against the wishes of the union—meant that Sombrotto and his colleagues lacked official support for their actions. But they had many supporters elsewhere: other discontented letter carriers from coast to coast.

As letter carriers took to the streets of Manhattan and stopped delivering mail, others joined in. Thirty other cities’ workers walked out, too, and soon <a target=_blank …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Evangelical Christianity Is Facing a Political Crisis: It Will Need More Than a Makeover

December 29, 2017 in Blogs

By Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


The Christian faith was the real loser in the Roy Moore campaign.


Ok, evangelicals do have a brand problem—but they also have a major product problem.

Bible-believing born-again Christians, aka evangelicals, have had a brand problem since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority sold the born-again movement to the Republican party in exchange for political power a generation ago, forging the religious right.

The Republican party has been using Christianity’s good name to cover bad deeds ever since, all the while tapping evangelical media empires and churches as communications and organizing platforms to bring ordinary believers along with the merger. Having become true-believers themselves, Evangelical leaders have offered themselves up as trusted messengers for this New-and-Improved political gospel project.

And it has worked.

Born-again Christians haven’t given up their core beliefs: that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, Jesus died for their sins, and folks who don’t accept this gift will burn forever in Hell. Rather, most white evangelicals (and a number of blacks and Hispanics) have appended parts of the Republican policy agenda and the underlying conceptual framework to this list. Religious beliefs and political beliefs have become, for many evangelicals, indistinguishable objects of devotion, beyond question. Political tribe and religious tribe now have the same boundaries.

When I outlined evangelicalism’s brand problem in early 2016, few of us had any idea how bad it could get. Now the world associates the term Evangelical with the Trump election—over 80 percent of evangelicals gave him their vote—and with the candidacy of theocrat, Roy Moore, who despite credible allegations that he pursued and pawed young teens while an assistant district attorney, received comparable support from white Alabama evangelicals.

In the aftermath of Moore’s campaign and (merciful) defeat, the minority of Evangelical Christians who found him horrifying are doing some public soul searching—well, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

What #MeToo Can Teach the Labor Movement

December 29, 2017 in Blogs

By Jane McAlevey, In These Times

If we focus on the power analysis, the answer is staring us in the face.


My first #MeToo memory is from the kitchen of the Red Eagle Diner on Route 59 in Rockland County, N.Y. I was 16 years old, had moved out of my home, and was financially on my own. The senior waitresses in this classic Greek-owned diner schooled me fast. They explained that my best route to maximum cash was the weekend graveyard shift. “People are hungry and drunk after the bars close, and the tips are great,” one said.

That first waitressing job would be short-lived, because I didn’t heed a crucial warning. Watch out for Christos, a hot-headed cook and relative of the owner. The night I physically rebuffed his obnoxious and forceful groping, it took all the busboys holding him back as he waved a cleaver at me, red-faced and screaming in Greek that he was going to kill me. The other waitress held the door open as I fled to my car and sped off without even getting my last paycheck. I was trembling.

Although there were plenty of other incidents in between, the next time I found myself that shaken by a sexual assault threat, I was 33 and in a Manhattan cab with a high-up official in the national AFL-CIO. He had structural power over me, as well as my paycheck and the campaign I was running. He was nearly twice my age and size. After offering to give me a lift in the cab so I could avoid the pelting rain walking to the subway, he quickly slid all the way over to my side, pinned me to the door, grabbed me with both arms and began forcibly kissing me on the lips. After a determined push, and before getting the driver to stop and let me out, I told the AFL-CIO official that if he ever did it again I’d call his wife in a nanosecond.

These two examples underscore that behind today’s harassment headlines is a deeper crisis: pernicious sexism, misogyny and contempt for women. Whether in our …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Is Argentina's Peronist Nightmare Finally Over?

December 29, 2017 in Economics

By Federico Fernández

argentina.PNG

By: Federico Fernández

The beginning of the 21st century found Argentina in the midst of a storm.

In 2001 the country was submerged in a deep recession which spiraled into a political crisis after the mid-term elections of October. By the end of that year, the administration led by Fernando de la Rúa fell and more than a decade of populist policies followed.

The ’90s looked nothing like the early 2000s. After the fall of the Berlin wall, the whole of Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, experienced the so-called “neoliberal wave”. In Argentina, neoliberalism meant a series of economic reforms. For instance, the privatization of highly inefficient state monopolies — such as the one in telecommunications.

It also meant the reduction of public employees, and a relative opening of the economy. But the key issue was a monetary regime named “convertibility.” The currency board implemented by the then minister of finance, Domingo Cavallo, almost immediately stopped a chronic and decades long inflationary problem which had evolved by 1989 into hyperinflation.

By the end of the ’90s the inconsistencies of the economic program were causing imbalances, huge deficits, and unemployment. In 1998 the economy entered a prolonged period of recession. President de la Rúa came to power running a conservative campaign — promising to maintain convertibility and price stability but also to boost the economy and fight rampant corruption.

At the same time, Hugo Chávez was elected in Venezuela. The message of Chávez was diametrically opposed. It would be soon clear that the exhausted neoliberalism was going to be replaced — across the region — by a new wave of populism.

The seeds of neopopulism in Argentina were planted by President Eduardo Duhalde. An obscure figure from the province of Buenos Aires, he arrived to the presidency thanks to a parliamentary procedure just two years after losing the elections to Mr. de la Rúa. Many claim that both Mr. Duhalde and the Peronist party were conspiring against the government and eventually provoked its collapse.

The Duhalde administration will be remembered for two decisions. The first was the abolition of the convertibility regime. Leaving the convertibility regime was one of the most traumatic events in the country’s history. Parity with the dollar had created a de facto dollar economy, since Argentines tended to distrust the peso. Politicians knew this. They also knew that it would be too hard to honour people’s contracts and savings in dollars. So they must have cried “Eureka” when somebody came …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Balancing Historical Accuracy and a Gripping Story Is a Challenge. ‘The Post’ Nails It

December 29, 2017 in History

By Heather Ann Thompson

Ben Bagdikian, who helped publish the Pentagon Papers. (Credit: Arleen Ng/Oakland Tribune via AP)

In 2006 I walked into a dim and dusty backroom of an old courthouse in upstate New York and my heart stopped. Before me stood a wall of shelves on which thousands of pieces of paper had been haphazardly crammed—countless documents related to the Attica prison uprising of 1971 that government officials had been trying to keep hidden for decades.

Clearly the clerk that had temporarily moved these papers here hadn’t a clue what secrets they might reveal. But I did, and this scared me.

With these documents, not only would I be able, finally, to name the members of law enforcement who killed scores of unarmed prisoners and guards in cold blood back in 1971 but, as important, I would be also be able to reveal which government officials had worked so hard to cover up those murders.

That is, I suspect, also how New York Times journalist Neil Sheehan and Washington Post reporter Ben Bagdikian felt that same year as they stared at thousands of pages of a top secret report on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967—the so-called Pentagon Papers. They too must have been stunned and fearful as they looked at the mountain of evidence, provided by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, indicating that our nation’s top elected officials had severely abused their power, defended the indefensible and misled the American public.

Ben Bagdikian, who helped publish the Pentagon Papers. (Credit: Arleen Ng/Oakland Tribune via AP)

And thanks to an extraordinary new film, The Post, viewers will get a glimpse into the moment when Bagdikian’s paper decided to publish Ellsberg’s stolen documents, even under threat of imprisonment, after the New York Times had been banned by the courts from printing further stories on their blockbuster scoop.

When I arrived at the theater to see this particular film, I must admit, I felt some butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Of course it isn’t unusual for historians like me to worry before seeing movies about important historical events: It is hard to imagine how that complexity might be captured in a mere 90 minutes. That, however, was not what was making me grip my seat a little tighter.

As a historian who consults on films, I know that the best writers, producers, and directors work very hard not just to render an event cinematically gripping, but also to make sure that it is portrayed accurately. My jitters stemmed instead …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Uniqueness of Western Law

December 29, 2017 in Economics

By Richard Storey

magna.PNG

By: Richard Storey

“When accordingly it is inquired, whence is evil, it must first be inquired, what is evil, which is nothing else than corruption, either of the measure, or the form, or the order, that belong to nature.” ~Augustine of Hippo

The study of Western Civilization has been all but eradicated. This was no accident but, rather, an aggressive policy of leftist academe which has used exclusionary tactics to dominate and pervert the culture and purpose of our universities since the 1960s and 70s.1 But, for us students, driven underground, Western history is the greatest treasure trove of almost every faculty. Not least of these is natural law.

This unique philosophy of law so encapsulated the spirit of the West that the late Surya P. Sinha described law as ‘the most central principle of [the] social organization’ of Western civilization alone. “This fact explains that most…theories about law have issued from the Western culture’.2 Sinha even declared law itself to be a non-universal phenomenon of the West, other civilizations developing little more than ‘principles of moral life which are not law.”3

The story of natural law is a fascinating one; Ricardo Duchesne draws from decades of definitive scholarship on the uniqueness of the West to crystallize the “essential message” from across the social sciences: “the rise of the West is the story of the realization of humans who think of themselves as self-determining and therefore accept as authoritative only those norms and institutions that can be seen to be congenial with their awareness of themselves as free and rational agents.”4 Being at the heart of Western civilization, yet lost to history and shrouded in confusion, I would like to clarify the environment in which natural law developed and the consequences of its loss.

I will discuss:

  • The Indo-European, cultural origins of natural law;
  • The Roman, statist confusion of natural law; and
  • The Church’s rightful title as successor in this tradition.

The Origins of Natural Law

I propose that natural …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE