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Why the 25th Amendment Route for Dumping Trump Will Probably Remain a Fantasy

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

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As Trump's presidency begins its second year, talk of the 25th Amendment is back on the table—but it's just talk.

Democrats and Republicans who are desperate to end Donald Trump’s presidency are looking with renewed interest at the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which provides a path for the vice president, Cabinet and Congress to remove a president if he is deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

“The 25th Amendment is back on the table,” blared “D.C. pundits are contemplating it. Cable news shows are talking about it. And in a recent television interview, Michael Wolff…has much of the free world agonizing over the possibility that President Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be chief executive.”

“If we’re being specific, what we’re talking about is Article 4 of the 25th Amendment,” echoed “Thanks to author Michael Wolff, whose recently published Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has rocketed to the top of bestseller lists, we’re talking about Article 4 once again.”

Is this a serious possibility or an escapist fantasy? Beyond a rash of articles that recite histories of incapacitated presidents, medically and mentally, what would it look like today if we acted on the 25th Amendment? What likelihood exists that the executive branch and Congress would seize the chance?

In short, it's a tantalizing but legally unfounded and politically impractical remedy, constitutional scholars say. But it is understandably appealing as Trump's second year begins.

“Who’s to say where our political melodrama will end?” author Jon Meacham asked in Time. “It’s highly unlikely, but this unprecedented presidency could lead to unprecedented constitutional ground: the invocation of the boring-sounding yet world-shaking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment—a provision that enables the Vice President, with a majority of members of …read more


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Doctors Aren’t Asking Most Gay Patients the Right Sexual Health Questions

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

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A survey finds doctors aren’t spending enough time with patients in the first place.

You’re supposed to be able to tell your doctor anything. But how are patients supposed to know what to tell their doctors if the doctors don't ask the necessary questions in the first place? When it comes to sexual health screening, many doctors either missed the class in medical school that was supposed to teach them to ask patients about sexual health questions, or their lack of attention to sexual health is a conscious choice. Bespoke Surgical recently conducted a study of 1,000 Americans of various ages and sexual identities to hear what they’ve been asked by their doctor on the topic. The results suggest few doctors are asking

There are some outliers here that should be noted, but first, take a second to note how low these numbers are overall. Over half of heterosexual respondents said they were never asked about basic sexual health questions like HPV and STD exposure—a number that’s surprising, especially since 79 million Americans have HPV, a condition that can lead to cancer in both men and women. In general, it seems like doctors aren’t asking patients the right questions about sexual health.

But consider the shocking numbers revealed in the chart above. Of the physicians who saw homosexual patients last year, only 13 percent asked their patients if they had received the PrEP HIV prevention drug. Nearly half of all gay and lesbian respondents said their doctor had not asked them about HPV/Gardasil, anal pap smears, PreP/Truvada, or prior STD exposure. Only 40 percent of patients gay, straight and bi said they were asked if they used any kind of protection during sex.

When they do ask the right questions, the survey suggests doctors …read more


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'Completely Racist': Edwidge Danticat on Trump's 'Sh*thole Countries' Remark Targeting Africa, Haiti

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Trump’s remarks have been condemned across the globe.

International condemnation of Donald Trump is growing after reports the president used an expletive during a meeting about immigrants from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador. While meeting with lawmakers, Trump reportedly said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” Trump also reportedly said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

Earlier Friday morning, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made–a big setback for DACA!” Trump’s remarks come weeks after The New York Times reported Trump had also disparaged Haitians and Nigerians during a closed-door meeting in June. Trump said Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” if they came to visit the U.S. As for Haitians, Trump said they “all have AIDS.” Trump’s latest remarks come just after his administration announced it is ending temporary protected status for up to 250,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the U.S. since at least 2001.

Last year, the Trump administration announced it is also ending temporary protected status for tens of thousands of Haitian, Nicaraguan and Sudanese immigrants living in the United States. Trump’s remarks from Thursday have been condemned across the globe. We speak to Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat as Haitians mark the eighth anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

International condemnation of Donald Trump is growing, after reports the president used an expletive during a meeting about immigrants from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador. While meeting with lawmakers, Trump reportedly said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re s—hole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” Trump also reportedly said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

Earlier this morning, Trump wrote on Twitter, quote, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was …read more


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Is the War on Christmas Really a Proxy War for White Supremacy?

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Chauncey DeVega, Salon

A sociologist explains how Christmas became a battlefield and how white men lost the American Dream.

The war on Christmas is a myth. Yet so many Republicans, Donald Trump voters and other conservatives are apparently obsessed with it. Why is this?

Today's conservative movement is masterful in its ability to use emotional appeals to manipulate its public with the goal of achieving and maintaining political power. As Richard Hofstadter observed more than five decades ago, American conservatives are also anti-intellectual and especially prone to believing in conspiracy theories.

Movement conservatism also has a deep disdain for facts. Empirical reality is an obstacle and inconvenience that stands in the way of advancing a political worldview that operates more like a religion than an ideology based in reason and fact.

Republicans and the conservative movement also command Fox News and a right-wing echo chamber that function as one of the most effective propaganda operations in modern history. Republican voters have literally been conditioned and trained by their news media and other trusted voices to believe things that are not true.

There is the power of weaponized religion in the form of right-wing Christianity, whose adherents believe that they are oppressed in America by liberals, gays, Muslims, atheists, “secularists” and any other group identified as an enemy other. Of course this is not true: white Christians are the most powerful and dominant group in American society. But again, the allure of Christian fascism — and contemporary American conservatism — is rooted not in reason but rather in fantasy.

There is another dimension to the “war on Christmas” and the broader right-wing obsession with the culture wars. Both are examples of white identity politics and a deep desire (and effort) to maintain the cultural and political power of white right-wing Christians over all other groups. In many ways, the war on Christmas is actually a proxy war for white supremacy.

How is white supremacy advanced by the right-wing “culture war” narrative? How are Donald Trump and the Republican Party using the “war on Christmas” to advance their goals? Why are so many white Americans attracted to such fictions? …read more


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Hospital Staff Dumped a Mentally Ill Patient Out In Freezing Weather Only Wearing Hospital Gown

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By April M. Short, AlterNet

Sadly, patient dumping is not a new thing.

This week, on a night with temperatures that dropped below freezing, hospital personnel at the University of Maryland Medical Center dumped a disenfranchised 22-year-old woman out onto the curbside, clad in nothing but a hospital gown. No shoes. No underwear.

Imamu Baraka, a psychologist who was leaving work nearby, noticed the hospital staffers throwing the woman, reportedly named Rebecca, out in the cold. Aghast, he took out his phone to film the incident. The footage shows Rebecca as she stumbles over to a nearby bench, coughing and shivering and visibly disoriented. The psychologist keeps filming as he confronts the hospital staff, asking for a manager, and checks on the shivering woman.

Baraka posted the video on Facebook and it has since gone viral, with almost 3 million views just days since it was uploaded.

 He said he started recording because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“I had no choice but to give this young lady a voice in this moment,” Baraka said to Associated Press. “

Gene Sperling, who was a national economy advisor to both Clinton and Obama, tweeted that those responsible for the incident should be charged with “attempted murder.”


The incident has also bolstered the arguments of advocates for a single payer health care system, who argue patient dumping is a symptom of an underfunded, unbalanced healthcare system. 

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, said following the incident that the only solution to this kind of treatment of patients is to “implement single-payer, Medicare for All or Americans continue to suffer/die.”

As noted in a recent LA Times article:

“The Commission on Civil Rights’ report found insufficient regulatory oversight as well as a lack of funding to adequately treat the population contributed to patient dumping.

The commission called for reforms to …read more


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Protectionism Is About Much More than Nationalism

January 13, 2018 in Economics

By Ángel Manuel García Carmona


By: Ángel Manuel García Carmona

Freedom fighters around the globe are aware of the rise of new and serious attacks against free trade. There are bilateral agreements that “harmonize” regulations and may favor crony capitalism, European agrarian policy tariffs that protect farmers, alt-right and populist nationalists claims against delocalization of companies, and so on.

This short list of examples, reminds us though that protectionism is not only an issue of populist nationalist parties that stem from rivalry among nation states and fear of foreign “enemies.” They do not necessarily stem from nationalistic concerns, but may simply be a result of ordinary special interst politics as with the Common Agricultural Policy which which subsidizes European farmers to produce crops which are often grown more cheaply in developing countries.

Unfortunately, many people continue to be unaware of the multitude of lesser cases of commercial protectionism, based on regulations that are designed to benefit guilds or some specific type of commercial interest.

What Is Prtectionism?

A protectionist measure has the aim of shielding a business or indistry from the spontaneous changes in the market that could affect it.

Unhampered markets, as Mises pointed out in The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, rely on market “democracy” because consumers and companies are free to exchange products and services. Thus, each market action is a referendum on the value of each business or industry.

There is no top-down effect, but pure spontaneity built on voluntary actions. However, consumers can change their minds about any specific business at any time. The reasons are diverse: there may be a more cutting-edge product offered elsewhere. Consumers may perceive quality to be higher with competitors. New entrepreneurs may be able to offer lower prices. Some companies may response to these challenges with new innovations of their own. Though others may prefer to do nothing mroe than demand government “protection.”

Business “guilds” — to use a European term — have evolved from the status of pre-Christian Roman mutual aid networks to groups of people dedicated to the same craft who seek government-granted monopolies. These government-granted favors gant them a reprieve from teh discipline of the marketplace.

This is the way it works:

First, consumers might become keen on services like BlaBlaCar, AirBnb, Uber, Chicfy, Amovens, SocialCar and Cabify. These services provide what consumers perceive to be less expensive, and often higher-quality, services.

But taxi drivers and hotel owners feel threatened by …read more


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Now's a Great Time to Stop Meddling in Haiti

January 13, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


By: Ryan McMaken

Earlier this week, President Trump allegedly disparaged Haiti, describing it as “sh*thole.” The response has been what you might expect. It's been a torrent of demands for apologies from the Trump administration and commentary on how “troubling” Donald Trump's views are.

Upon hearing of such comments supposedly directed at Haitians, a well informed person might be tempted to think “if only this were the worst thing a US president has inflicted upon the Haitian people.”

But, as is typical for the American left and the mainstream media, uttering mean words is the worst thing a politician can do. Actively meddling in another country's internal affairs and undermining its elections? Well, that's no big deal — unless you're Russia, of course.

Indeed, anyone who has any familiarity at all with the history of US-Haiti relations knows that the US has a long, well-established habit of intervening in the island nation — often in a brutal manner.

For more than a century (beginning in 1915) the United States has indulged in various invasion, massacres, coups, and other interventions designed to keep Haiti in the shadow of the United States and appropriately subservient as desired by American statesmen.

In just the last 25 years, the United States has sent American military forces to the island twice — in 1994 and 2004 — and continues to repeatedly undermine Haitian political institutions every time the nation attempts an election.

If Haiti is as awful as Donald Trump (allegedly) says it is, Trump could do some good by directing the state department, CIA, and all other federal institutions to take a hand's off approach to the island nation. Until then, unfortunately, the United States continues to share the blame for the destruction and corruption of Haitian institutions.

A History of Occupation

As Edwidge Danticat recounts in the NewYorker:

On July 28, 1915, United States Marines landed in Haiti on the orders of President Woodrow Wilson, who feared that European interests might reduce American commercial and political influence in Haiti, and in the region surrounding the Panama Canal. The precipitating event was the assassination of the Haitian President, Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, but U.S. interests in Haiti went back as far as the previous century. (President Andrew Johnson wanted to annex both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Twenty years later, Secretary of State James Blaine unsuccessfully tried to obtain Môle-Saint-Nicolas, a northern Haitian …read more


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Oprah Will Not Save Us—We Have to Save Ourselves

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Ilana Novick, AlterNet

The Golden Globes speech wasn't a campaign announcement; it was a call to arms.

Despite the post-2016 surge of activism—the protests and the calls to Congress that have been the only silver lining in this cesspool of a presidency—the reaction to Oprah Winfrey's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes suggests liberals have yet to give up on their dream of an avenging angel. It was not a campaign announcement; it was a call to arms.

Unfortunately, in this Trumpian age of lowered expectations, when a sane adult gives a rousing speech at an awards ceremony, most people are not inspired to lace up their shoes and do some organizing, as Oprah’s friend President Obama said in his farewell address. Instead of doing the work ourselves, we are inspired to tell a celebrity to run for office.

Oprah is not running, at least according to her best friend Gayle King, who should know, more so than the news anchors, pundits and perhaps even Oprah’s longtime partner Stedman Graham. She was not declaring her own presidential run, nor even a foray into politics. Oprah was doing exactly what she has been doing for the last 30 years: giving her seal of approval, this time for activism.

With the same determined enthusiasm she has used for lavishing her audience with free cars and her book club recipients with massive sales, she recounted seeing Sidney Poitier win a Best Actor award at the 1964 Oscars: “I'd never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people's houses.”

She also praised the press, which she “values more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times,” before highlighting the eight activists actresses brought as their dates, including Tarana Burke, the original founder of the #MeToo movement; Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Rosa Clemente, a former Green Party …read more


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Why Does the Corporate Media Include the Perspective of White Nationalists in the 'Immigration Debate'?

January 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, FAIR

A prime example of the dangers of false balance.

President Trump’s far-right immigration policies have US corporate media reaching to the white nationalist fringes of the faux-think tank world to provide “both sides” coverage on the topic.

The Center for Immigration Studies has, since January 2017, taken an outsized role in American media as Trump’s go-to defender for his overtly white nationalist immigration policies. There’s one problem with this: The Center for Immigration Studies is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hate group with a long, documented history of nativist and white nationalist leanings. Over the past month alone, leading papers like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal have boosted and normalized CIS, using them to “balance” out their stories on Trump’s anti-immigrant initiatives:

  • “‘There were no safeguards [in the spousal program] to make sure they weren’t displacing or undercutting US workers,’ said Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies, which backs limits on legal as well as illegal immigration.” (Wall Street Journal, 12/14/17)
  • “‘The parents that would undertake this perilous journey to the United States would be less likely to do it if they knew they would be separated from their kids,’ said Andrew R. Arthur, a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to reduce immigration.’” (Washington Post, 12/21/17)
  • “Mr. Trump ‘has taken the handcuffs off,’ said Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, an advocacy group that favors more limits on immigration.” (New York Times, 12/23/17)
  • “‘As a practical matter, it just kind of swept those cases under the rug,’ said [Andrew] Arthur, now a fellow at Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for immigration restrictions.” (Washington Post, 1/5/18)
  • “‘We can help people closer to where their homes are,’ said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restrictions on legal and illegal immigration. ‘That makes it much easier for them to go home if conditions permit.’” (Wall Street Journal, 1/7/18)
  • “But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restrictions on immigration, said the Trump administration was correctly abiding by the original intent of the …read more

    Source: ALTERNET