You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 12.

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I Went With Johnny Cash to Folsom Prison

January 12, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Country singer Johnny Cash posing outside the Folsom Prison before his performance. (Credit: Dan Poush/AP Photo)

The gates of Folsom State Prison closed behind Gene Beley. It was 1968, and it was the first time the 28-year-old had ever been to state prison.

“When you walk through there and they shut that door,” he says, “you realize that many men who have that happen never see their freedom again. It’s pretty daunting.”

Unlike the people he met inside, though, Beley wasn’t there to do time. The young reporter for the Ventura Star-Free Press was there to see country music star Johnny Cash perform for the prisoners.

It turned out to be a historic day. Cash’s January 13, 1968 performance at the California prison wasn’t just galvanizing—it revived Cash’s flagging career, produced a hit album, and has become the stuff of music legend. And Beley, who was one of just a handful of non-prisoners to witness the concert, still feels its reverberations today.

At the time, he says, Cash wasn’t exactly a beloved celebrity. “You know, John was really on the skids,” he remembers. Cash had made a string of bad headlines for doing everything from smuggling pills across the Mexico border to trespassing. He had struggled with drug use, conducted an open affair with June Carter (he ultimately divorced his first wife and remarried), and had even been targeted by hate groups. As a result, newspapers hated him—and he distrusted reporters.

Nevertheless, the Reverend Floyd Gressett, one of Cash’s closest friends, invited Beley and his colleague, photographer Dan Poush, to cover the concert. Only one other reporter, Robert Hilburn, attended.

Country singer Johnny Cash posing outside the Folsom Prison before his performance. (Credit: Dan Poush/AP Photo)

Beley recalls being surprised that Cash was close to a minister. “It seemed so incongruous,” he says.

In fact, Gressett was the reason Cash would perform at Folsom Prison in the first place. The minister also counseled state prisoners, and asked Cash if he’d be interested in meeting some of them. Cash, who had written “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1953, was intrigued by the thought of meeting inmates—and performing his song at the prison that inspired it. In November 1966, he put on a show at Folsom, and in 1968 he decided to return to record an album.

Before the concert, Beley went to Cash’s parents’ home. There, he met John …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How the Fashion Industry Rips Off Independent Designers

January 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Emily C. Bell, AlterNet

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Small designers use social media to call out big brands.


As shoppers make 2018 wardrobe goals and begin perusing the post-holiday sales, keep in mind that some of the trendiest pieces are actually copies of other designers' work

While the environmental costs and human rights abuses of fast fashion are well-documented, another impact now cast to the forefront is the industry’s impact on small designers. Big brands, especially those in fast fashion, have been ripping off designs for years.

As founder of The Fashion Law blog Julie Zerbo explained, there are two traditional types of fast-fashion copying. In the first, “Fast fashion retailers tend to copy… big names, big design houses that we all know… they take designs that people know and so they would otherwise be interested in buying but can’t necessarily afford them.”

But beyond the flow of runway looks to chain store merchandise, there's another type of copying.

“The other one, and this is maybe the more unfortunate one, is when they copy independent designers or small designers, purely because they have less resources to spend on legal counsel than the big design houses that have lawyers on staff,” Zerbo said.

Last month saw yet another example in this latter category. Modcloth (now owned by Walmart) was condemned for selling a T-shirt featuring a feminist design without the permission of the artist, Deva Pardue. She took to Twitter to call them out:

The original print looks like …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Michael Boldin: How Decentralization Could Work

January 12, 2018 in Economics

By Michael Boldin, Jeff Deist

Michael Boldin on Mises Weekends

By: Michael Boldin, Jeff Deist

Michael Boldin from the Tenth Amendment Center joins Jeff Deist to discuss the philosophical, electoral, and logistic realities standing in the way of creating a more politically decentralized America. Beyond thorny questions about federal land, federal entitlements, and “national defense,” there are a million small ways to move power away from Washington. Both conservatives and progressives claim to want just that—so what holds us back? Michael, a onetime progressive, has the strategic and practical answers for liberty-minded people.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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What Has QE Wrought?

January 12, 2018 in Economics

By Ron Paul

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By: Ron Paul

[Editor's Note: Watch Ron Paul deliver this Special Report here.​]

The Great Recession began in 2007. It didn’t take long for the money managers to recognize its severity, and that a little tinkering with interest rates would not suffice in dealing with the economic downturn. In Dec. 2008, the first of four Quantitative Easing programs began which did not end until Dec. 18, 2013. Some very serious consequences of this policy of unprecedented credit creation have set the stage for a major monetary reform of the fiat dollar system. The dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world will continue to be undermined. This is not a minor matter. As our financial system unravels, the seriousness of it will become evident to all, as the need to pay for our extravagance becomes obvious. This will make the country much poorer, though the elite class that manages such affairs will suffer the least.

By the time the QE’s ended, the Central banks of the world had increased their balance sheet by $8.3 trillion, with only $2.1 trillion worth of GDP growth to show for it. This left $6.2 trillion of excess liquidity in the banking system that did not go where the economic planners had hoped. Central banks now own $9.7 trillion of negative interest yielding bonds. The financial system has been left with a bubble mania, financed by artificial credit and unsustainable debt. The national debt in 2007 was $8.9 trillion; today it’s $20.5 trillion. Rising interest rates will come and that will be deadly for the economy and the Federal budget.

This inflationary policy is generated by the belief that there is no benefit in allowing the needed economic correction to the problems generated by the Fed to occur. The correction is what the market requires, not the resumption and acceleration of the dangerous inflationary policy that caused the bubble economy. It’s like giving a case of beer to an alcoholic to calm his nerves as he attempts to stop drinking. It should not surprise anyone that perpetuating a problem won’t solve the problem.

The obsession with a QE monetary policy has created a bubble economy of enormous size which one day will burst. The warning signs are everywhere, yet ignored. Political demands control policy; not common sense or sound economics. All major decisions are bipartisan and guarantee a …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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British Royals Hid Crown Jewels From Nazis in a Cracker Box

January 12, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Restored footage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, featured in 'A Queen is Crowned'. (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

During World War II, the British royal family’s most precious gems were buried underground at Windsor Castle to protect them from discovery by the Nazis, a new documentary reveals.

With Britain under air attack from the mighty German Luftwaffe, King George VI ordered palace staff to remove the most valuable of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London and hide them in case of an invasion. They were stashed in an innocuous tin box that had previously contained biscuits.

According to the Times (U.K.), the removal and hiding of the jewels has long been rumored. The most likely hiding place was believed to be Windsor Castle, the royal residence in England’s Berkshire county, though others suggested the gems might have been spirited out of the country to Canada and kept in a vault, hidden in a cave in Wales or in a secret tunnel under a Devonshire prison.

But the details of the operation were kept so secret, it turns out, that not even Queen Elizabeth II—at the time a teenage princess—knew the whereabouts of the priceless gems. She learned the juicy details during the filming of an upcoming BBC documentary, when royal commentator Alistair Bruce spoke to her about a set of letters recently unearthed by Oliver Urquhart Irvine, the royal librarian and assistant keeper of the queen’s archives.

Restored footage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, featured in ‘A Queen is Crowned’. (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

In the letters, Sir Owen Morshead, then the royal librarian, described to Queen Mary (mother of King George VI) how he had removed the most precious jewels from the Imperial State Crown, the royal headgear worn by the sovereign while addressing the state opening of Parliament. Made for George VI’s coronation in 1937, the impressive crown is set with 2,868 diamonds and various colored stones, including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

Morshead pried the Black Prince’s Ruby (believed to have been given to Edward, Prince of Wales, by a Spanish king in 1367 and later worn by Henry V in his helmet during the Battle of Agincourt) and the St. Edward’s Sapphire (which goes back to Edward the Confessor, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon king) from their clasps, and hid them in a tin box previously containing Bath Oliver biscuits. The hard, dry crackers, still popular among Britons, were created by a Regency-era physician …read more

Source: HISTORY

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A Toxic Mix of Tech, Trump and Media Has Created a Monster That's Constantly Traumatizing Us All

January 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Betty Teng, AlterNet

How the internet era and the age of Trump create constant re-traumatization.


Parts of this article appeared in the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (St. Martin's Press, 2017). This material is reprinted with permission from the author and publisher.

I’m a trauma therapist in New York City. I work with adult survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse, and I see in my patients’ struggles with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) the impact of living in a period when the social media era has met the apotheosis of Donald Trump. For those who have been previously subjugated, the volatility and chaos coming from the White House via the internet are particularly overstimulating. With their already high anxiety levels and vulnerable senses of security, my patients can be particularly destabilized by the present social and political climate, which can prevent them from cultivating the mental stability essential for healing from trauma. From worries about what will happen to their health care coverage to concerns about race relations and the fears of nuclear war, survivors of trauma—who desperately need to rebuild an internal and external sense of safety—can lose ground the moment their newsfeeds buzz.

This is a problem, not only for my patients, but for many of us. It manifests as a kind of deep-seated fear, anxiety and/or preoccupation with the news online. Recognizing a common thread between this and how all kinds of media impact my patients, I see trauma survivors as canaries in the coal mine of the internet, their sensitivities markers of the potential toxicity of such exposure. Whether we are previously traumatized or feel newly so, the internet era—which now feeds the age of Trump—can spur us to engage in a series of subtle, if significantly destabilizing, behaviors. We would be well served to raise our awareness about such provocations and how they can stir us, so that we can do our best to control them rather than having them control us.

Media's Impact on the Traumatized

“I almost didn't come today,” my patient …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's Attacks on Press, Judiciary Have Stopped Being Funny

January 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

His disdain for an independent judiciary has only become more fervent as president.


Donald Trump held his little televised negotiation pageant on Tuesday, in an attempt to prove he hasn't lost his marbles. Since he didn't robotically repeat the words “no collusion” over and over again, he received some good reviews from the media in the immediate aftermath. On Wednesday he undid all that with another early morning tweetstorm, as well as a photo op with his cabinet in which, instead of talking about the agenda as planned, he whined about the media and forgot to address any issues. His “stable genius” tour collapsed in less than 24 hours.

But it's not wise to chalk all this up to Trumpian craziness and forget about what he's saying. He is still the president of the United States, the most powerful job on the planet, and he's backed by a party that is increasingly willing to cater to his whims to keep him happy. He was not a happy president on Wednesday morning:

In the first, he once more demeans the justice system, calling it broken and unfair because it issued a ruling he doesn't like. Recall that <a target=_blank href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/alternet/~https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-ban-federal-judges-political-ruling-immigration-travel-restrictions-a7569341.html" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What If Everything We Thought We Knew About Inequality Was Wrong?

January 12, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

In economics, it is often said that when the United States
sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. This might be even
truer of political narratives or campaigns.

In recent years, the UK has imported some of the worst aspects
of university student culture from the States. The concept of the
living wage became a goal for campaigners here following US
cities’ actions in the mid to late 2000s. But perhaps the
biggest story shipped in from America has been the tale of vast and increasing income inequality.

Never mind that on most measures the income distribution is no
more unequal today in the UK than it was over 30 years ago. The US
debate brought a new target: the top 1pc. It is widely propagated
that they have been motoring away from the rest, capturing most of
the gains from growth over four decades.

The work of economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez has been
critical here. Assessing income using income tax data, they
previously suggested that in the US, the income share of the top
1pc had increased hugely from 9pc in 1960 to 20.3pc in 2015. For
the UK, they currently estimate the rise was less pronounced but
still striking, going up from 9pc in 1960 to 14.5pc in 2013.

A dominant political
narrative might be almost entirely the product of misleading and
inconsistent data.

Now, I’m sceptical that aggregate snapshot inequality
statistics tell us anything much useful in the first place. For a
start, the top 1pc itself changes over time. And given
that Walter Scheidel’s historical work suggests the only
means of substantially slashing inequality have been mass
mobilisation wars, communism, plagues and state failure, the cures
may be somewhat worse than the disease.

But a new paper by economists Gerald Auten and David Splinter
implies the conventional US narrative about the 1pc has been wrong
all along. They show that tax returns may be a misleading source
from which to judge trends, since they are strongly influenced by
the pertaining tax code.

In the US, major reforms to business taxes in 1986 coupled with
large cuts to top individual income tax rates from the Eighties
onwards reversed incentives for business owners to operate as
corporations and retain earnings inside the company, rather than
paying out dividends or higher executive salaries.

The big increase in top incomes following the Eighties changes
was then, to a large extent, a statistical phenomenon, driven by a
bigger incentive to report income.

About 40pc of the increase in the top 1pc’s share of total
income occurred just prior to or after …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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See a Gorgeously Updated Image of Martin Luther King, Jr. With His Family

January 12, 2018 in History

By Dan Jones and Marina Amaral

Martin Luther King, Jr. at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda, 1956. (Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In May 1956 the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. posed for a set of photographs at home with his young family in Montgomery, Alabama. It had been an eventful few months in the 27-year old pastor’s life.

The previous year King had finished his PhD at Boston University, and moved with his wife Coretta more than a thousand miles south to Montgomery. There they set up in a modest, white-panelled house, a perk of King’s new job as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The couple soon made it a family home, and on November 17th Coretta gave birth to their first child, Yolanda (pictured here as a baby).

Martin Luther King, Jr. at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda, 1956. (Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

But ten weeks later, at 9.15 p.m. on January 30th 1956, the Kings’ house was bombed. King was out when the bomb went off, and neither Coretta nor Yolanda was hurt. Still, the message was clear. The bombing was retaliation for King’s role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an organized refusal by black residents to ride the city’s buses, which had grown out of the seamstress Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white commuter.

The Photograph

The portrait deliberately projects a moment of happy intimacy between three people joyful even under the threat of death. Who took this photograph is no longer known; it has been colorized with reference to later pictures of the family. The casually dressed Dr. King seems a world away from the careworn figure of the 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement reached a crescendo and he assumed an intense position of national importance.

King in 1956

From his pulpit King had begun to preach a doctrine of non-violent protest, civil disobedience and mass demonstration against discriminatory “Jim Crow” laws, which segregated whites and blacks everywhere from schools and shops to bus seats and water fountains.

There could be few more dangerous places to preach this doctrine than Montgomery, which had briefly been the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War and where, ninety years on, white supremacy and racist ideology still thrived.

When this photograph was taken, many of King’s greatest moments still lay before him: the Birmingham protests, the March on Washington, a Nobel peace prize, his tireless opposition to the Vietnam War. And, of course, his death. On April 4th 1968 …read more

Source: HISTORY

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For Martin Luther King Jr., Nonviolent Protest Never Meant ‘Wait and See’

January 12, 2018 in History

By April Reign

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.leading marchers as they begin the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march from Brown's Chapel Church in Selma, Alabama. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

History Reads is a weekly series featuring work from Team History, a group of experts and influencers, exploring history’s most fascinating questions.

On January 15, the United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 50 years on from his assassination in 1968. The intention behind the holiday is to commemorate this great man’s life, and recommit to his call to fight for justice everywhere. Many will spend Monday as a day of service to others, staying true to his words that “everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.”

The words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are well-known and often quoted. Most remember the speech he gave at the March on Washington in 1963, when he uttered those iconic words of American aspiration: “I have a dream…”. He is also remembered for his urge to use nonviolence as the most effective form of protest (even when violence was threatened against him and his family), and his strong desire to bring about equality and civil rights for African Americans during the civil-rights movement.

However, less attention is paid to the words he spoke in the latter part of his life. In the year he died, he had just launched the Poor People’s Campaign, which appealed to impoverished people of all races, and sought to address the issues of unemployment, housing shortages and the impact of poverty on the lives of millions of Americans, white and black. By then, King’s language had become stronger and more assertive, urging direct action to bring about change. For King had never meant nonviolent protest to mean “wait and see.” In fact, he made very clear that rebellions have their place in America. Just a few weeks before he died, in a packed high school gym just outside Detroit, constantly interrupted by a rowdy right-wing crowd picketing his appearance, King had these radical words to say:

“…it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to …read more

Source: HISTORY