You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 06.

Avatar of admin

by admin

A Year Has Gone by, But Trump Is Still Here and Even More Dangerous

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Jefferson Morley, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!

Trump's political survival depends on neutralizing any institution that challenges his power.

The friends who surrounded President-elect Donald Trump a year ago have become his enemies. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, once a stalwart ally, is a “liar,” say Trump’s lawyers. Former campaign strategist Steve Bannon, once a political guru, has “lost his mind,” according to the president.

The president is not just threatening North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with “fire and fury.” The phallically obsessed Trump now boasts, via Twitter, that his nuclear “button” is “much bigger“ than Kim’s.

The real estate mogul in the Oval Office does not just advocate a massive tax cut for the wealthy (as both President Bushes and President Reagan did). He signed a bill that blatantly benefits himself and his family through the special treatment of real estate income under new “pass-through” rules.

The president is not just saying Democratic charges of collusion with the Russians are a “hoax.” He is mobilizing his supporters to denigrate, undermine and “purge“ the FBI. He has normalized the idea that law enforcement should be weaponized against political criticism.  

Trump is not just talking about prosecuting journalists. He is taking legal steps to silence them. On Thursday, a White House attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to publishing company Henry Holt demanding it stop its plans to publish Michael Wolff’s bombshell book, in which Bannon is quoted as saying the Trump campaign’s meetings with Russia were “treasonous.” (In response, Holt moved up the release date.)

The new year has brought a palpable sense to Washington that Trump craziness has reached new heights—or lows.

“We’re rushing toward the breaking point,” writes liberal Washington Post pundit E.J. Dionne.

“When it comes to Trump and the world, it’s not better than you think,” writes centrist Politico editor …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Take It From the Insiders: Silicon Valley Is Eating Your Soul

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By John Harris, The Guardian

Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive power of tech. Will we listen?

One source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the present and future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring, and is in retreat.

If you want a sense of how much has changed, picture the president of the US tweeting his latest provocation in the small hours, and consider an array of words and phrases now freighted with meaning: Russiabotstroll farmsonline abusefake newsdark money.

Another sign of how much things have shifted is a volte-face by Silicon Valley’s most powerful man. Barely more than a year ago the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, seemed still to be rejoicing in his company’s imperial phase, blithely dismissing the idea that fabricated news carried by his platform had affected the outcome of the 2016 US election as a “pretty crazy idea”. Now scarcely a week goes by without some Facebook pronouncement or other, either updating the wider world about its latest quest to put its operations beyond criticism or assuring us that its belief in an eternally upbeat, fuzzily liberal ethos is as fervent as ever.

The company has reached a fascinating point in its evolution; it is as replete with importance and interest as any political party. Facebook is at once massively powerful and also suddenly defensive. Its deeply questionable tax affairs are being altered; 1,000 new employees have been hired to monitor its advertising. At the same time, it still seems unable to provide any answers to worries about its effects on the …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

The Faces of Trump’s Immigration Crackdown in 2017

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Gus Bova , Texas Observer

Since January, federal agents have hunted down immigrants they would have previously ignored, in places they would have previously avoided.

Five days into his presidency, Donald Trump issued a pair of executive orders that put America’s entire undocumented population on the table for deportation. The cold, bureaucratic language .

Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez

Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez


Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, a 23-year-old who’s cognitively disabled from a traumatic brain injury, may have been the first “Dreamer,” or young immigrant allowed to work and live legally in the country under DACA, to be deported under Trump. On February 17, according to his lawyers, Bojorquez was walking to a taxi station in Calexico, California, when a Border Patrol agent stopped him. Bojorquez, who came to the U.S. at 9 years old and was an agricultural worker, had reportedly left his work permit and wallet in a friend’s car. His attorneys say agents walked Bojorquez into Mexico and left him there that night.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have denied that account, claiming agents first found him trying to cross illegally into California on February 19, after which he was deported back to Mexico. After nine months living with relatives and an aborted lawsuit against the feds over his deportation, Bojorquez tried yet again to cross illegally on November 6 and was captured. He was later booked into jail on a felony charge of being a deported immigrant found in the country, and he was denied bail on November 16, according to court filings.

Other DACA holders have faced detention, including a Washington man falsely accused of gang membership and a Mississippi woman detained after speaking at a rally. Trump is set to cancel the program in March, and the nearly 700,000 DACA holders await Congressional action.

Irvin Gonzalez

Irvin Gonzalez El Paso County

Irvin Gonzalez  EL PASO COUNTY

On February 9, Irvin Gonzalez, a 33-year-old transgender …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

The Fallout of Police Violence Is Killing Black Women Like Erica Garner

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Christen A. Smith, The Conversation

Police violence is like a nuclear bomb. The initial impact only causes a fraction of the deaths to come.

The sting of the premature death of 27-year-old Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, is still fresh.

On Christmas Eve, Erica Garner suffered a massive heart attack which caused extensive brain damage. She died on Dec. 30. This latest loss emphasizes something we have known: Black women are dying from the trauma of police violence and this issue must be grappled with before more die.

When I heard the news of Erica Garner’s heart attack, a wave of familiar shock and pain ran through me. I immediately recognized the correlation between her heart attack and her father’s death because I had seen it before.

As an anthropologist who studies the impact of police violence on black communities in Brazil and the United States, I was familiar with many stories like Erica’s. My research examines the ways that police violence kills black women slowly through trauma, pain and loss.

Some may find this idea startling. Let me explain.

Trauma, Pain and Loss

In the wake of the deaths of black people at the hands of the state – from the police to the prison system – the living are often weighted with a sadness that is too heavy to bear, and in the weeks and months following the initial death of a loved one, they become sick and many die prematurely.

When we think of police lethality, we typically consider the immediate body count: The people that die from bullets and baton blows. The death toll gives the impression that black men are the disproportionate victims of police killings. But these numbers do not reveal the slow death that black women experience. The long-range trauma police brutality causes can be as deadly as a bullet. The pain of loss kills with heart attacks, strokes, depression and even anemia.

This is not to say that black women do not also die from the immediate physical effects of police abuse. The work of researchers like Andrea Ritchie and Kimberle Crenshaw, and black women’s organizations like Assata’s Daughters and Let Us Breathe Collective clearly demonstrate that they do. But …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

How White Nationalists Hide in Academia

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Shane Burley, Truthdig

Fascist ideologues are hijacking academic courses.

Even in the world of academia, a punchy headline can be everything.

As subaltern analysis heads from the margins to the center of critical discourse, the kind of post-colonialism that was previously centered on a college campus has been popularized across the left. Within a popular culture shifting to decolonization ideas, someone at the Third World Quarterly likely knew a title like “The Case for Colonialism” was going to gain some traction. The paper, penned by controversial Portland State University faculty member Bruce Gilley, argued that Western colonial expansion into the Global South, specifically Africa, was a net positive, and that the 20th century liberation struggles were a catastrophe that should be reversed. Ignoring the mountains of scholarship that outlines the brutal cruelty of colonial exploitation, slavery and genocide, Gilley has taken an avenue that is popular amongst the academic segment of the radical right: transvaluation. With a mind towards defending white settler colonialism, Gilley did not deny the tragedies, he just decided they were worth it.

While it was shocking to many that a respected Routledge-published journal like Third World Quarterly would publish something so bizarrely angled, there is a precedent for this type of academic literature. While the academy is often viewed as the vanguard of intellectual leftism (a claim that has some merit), this perception hides the fact that far-right — and often openly fascist — political actors also have found a place in the classroom.

Racial Science

In the wake of World War II, and the advancements in the physical and social sciences, the idea of race as a meaningful category had not only been largely abolished, but the cruel consequences of racial pseudo-science were undeniable. This did not completely end this false scholarship, however, but it forced a certain coded language that justified racist thinking while abandoning the cultural baggage that open racialism often carries.

Started in 1937 when “racial hygiene” was still a popular concept, the Pioneer Fund was created by industrialist Wickliffe Draper to support scientific research that validated ideas on eugenics, racial segregation and immigration restriction. Their journal, the Mankind …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

How the Republicans Can Get Debt under Control

January 6, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Until I came to work in the US, I had little understanding of
the federal government’s long-term fiscal challenge.

The UK’s long-term debt outlook was only too familiar, and
pretty frightening — mainly because it concerned an ageing
population interacting with pay-as-you-go state pension and
healthcare systems. But there was, at least in the near-term, a
consensus of sorts for fiscal restraint and reducing the
debt-to-GDP ratio.

Not so in America. Sustained budget deficits under George W
Bush, followed by the financial crisis and subsequent Obama
stimulus, had seen debt held by the public explode from 32.6 per
cent of GDP in 2002 to 77 per cent in 2016 — a level only
previously touched following World War II.

While that debt spike fell quickly due to military spending cuts
and high growth, projections now show that debt-to-GDP levels will
rise rapidly in the coming decades. The Congressional Budget Office
(CBO) projects the deficit will widen to 5.2 per cent of GDP even
by 2027, ballooning public debt further to 91.2 per cent of

In the two decades following that, debt is expected to climb
even further to 150 per cent of GDP on unchanged policies, driven
both by surging Social Security and Medicare spending and debt
interest payments. This ignores any deficit-widening effects of the
recent tax cuts.

The trick is to find the
sweet spot between rules being strict and transparent enough to
have real consequences, and being flexible enough to ride out
recessions and unforeseen circumstances.

Most people realise status quo policies are unsustainable. But
so far, Congress has been reluctant to act. Hooked on borrowing,
it’s far easier to sustain programs knowing the costs are
spread across future generations. Entitlements, the key driver of
debt, seem untouchable, in part because the American public
consider these to be “earned rights”. Meanwhile, the
ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans on the size
and scope of the state has paralysed previous attempts to strike a
grand bargain to ease the debt path.

Yet delaying action only worsens the long-term outlook. Getting
the debt-to-GDP ratio back to a historic norm of 40 per cent by
2047 will require permanent spending cuts equivalent to 3.1 per
cent of GDP (15 per cent of federal spending, excluding debt
interest). Putting off such restraint until 2028 would require
annual cuts of 4.6 per cent of GDP thenceforth to achieve the same

It is welcome, then, that House speaker Paul Ryan tasked a
Congressional Republican working group late last year with
proposing budget reform to constrain federal debt. The so-called
“debt ceiling” has clearly been a failure, with
significant economic costs, and many Republicans yearn …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Man Who Fought to Liberalize Communist Yugoslavia

January 6, 2018 in Economics

By Luka Nikolic


By: Luka Nikolic

Yugoslavia was a communist country from the end of World War II until its bloody breakup in 1991. In the years directly following the war, it was as brutal as any communist regime — it repossessed property and jailed or killed whoever uttered a word against Marxist ideology. However, in the decades after the 1940s — especially in the 70s — it was the most liberal communist country in the world. In sharp contrast to the Soviet Union, this Balkan state enjoyed a dose of economic freedom that the average Russian could only dream of. Yugoslavia managed to serve as a buffer zone between the bitter opponents of the Cold War and was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Yugoslav passport was the most prized possession in the world during the 1970s, costing around $10,000 on the black market. Even Milton Friedman commented on the situation in the country in the late 70s in Free to Choose:

Even two communist countries, Russia and Yugoslavia, offer a similar, though less extreme contrast. Russia is closely controlled from the center. [...] Yugoslavia started down the same road. However, after Yugoslavia under Tito broke with Stalin’s Russia, it changed it course drastically. It is still communist but deliberately promotes decentralization and the use of market forces. [….] The inhabitants of Yugoslavia are not free. They have a much lower standard of living than the inhabitants of […] Western countries. Yet Yugoslavia strikes the observant traveler who comes to it from Russia, as we did, as a paradise by comparison.

Many falsely attribute the divergence from communism to Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito, as he famously broke with Stalin in 1948. Yet it was not Tito whose idea was to back away from the Soviets entirely, nor was it his idea to liberalize Yugoslavia. This was the work of a man that has been largely forgotten today and his name was Konstanin “Koča” Popović. He was a writer, a general, a politician, and ultimately a communist turned liberal.

Konstanin Popović was born in Belgrade in 1908 to a rich industrialist family, but moved to Switzerland at the outbreak of the First World War. Growing up in Geneva he was exposed to Western values. However, upon arriving in Paris to study at the Sorbonne, he quickly became influenced by leftist movements and became a communist. He entered the Spanish Civil …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Here's What Happened When I Tried to Rescue Piglets From a Factory Farm

January 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Jenny McQueen, AlterNet

One piglet is now safe at a sanctuary, but we had to leave the rest behind in pig purgatory.

For a city girl, I've had a lot of experience with pigs. I've visited with them in sanctuaries, given belly rubs (they love those), introduced little children to them, rescued and cared for young piglets, witnessed distressed, overheated, freezing, and/or thirsty young pigs in slaughter trucks, and experienced the hellish conditions inside a pig breeding and pig growing facility.

Reading about the injustices meted out to food animals turned me into a vegan and then an animal rights activist. This was the 1990s, before I’d even met any farmed animals.

So what's the truth about how pigs live on farms?

The industry provides an adorable illustration of “This Little Piggy” in a sweet-looking children’s booklet, “Pig Tales Fun Book.” It shows piglets suckling from their mama on the grass, a vet on hand, kids playing among the pigs. The pigs are enjoying their freedom in an idyllic setting. It's an artistic rendering that the kids can color. What fun.

The reality, however, is quite different. This is from my direct experience, in Canada, a developed country.

From the outside, there are neat buildings, a clean white shed, surrounded by pristine fields. Workers park their cars and leave civilization to enter a secret world of suffering and injustice to their charges—hundreds, perhaps thousands of pigs. Their offices and kitchen area look like any workplace. Open the door to the pigs’ area and your senses and emotions are assaulted.

Pigs have sensitive noses. Their cousin, the truffle hog, is prized for sniffing out precious truffles. But pigs enduring life inside an industrial farm are in absolute purgatory. Shine a flashlight into the air and it's thick with particles. I wore silver jewelry and it was tarnished just from being exposed for a few hours. The cacophony of hundreds of pigs in distress, some screaming to escape, is deafening, as are the sounds of machinery—automatic feeders, automatic air extraction. Working in this environment must be awful for the humans, too. …read more