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AlterNet’s 'Real News' Media Awards That Expose Trump as the Horrible Person He Is

January 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

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Here and there, the news does its job.


Donald Trump’s assault on the free press, and thus the First Amendment, reached its anti-climax with his 2017 Fake News Awards on Wednesday. For a man who launched his political career with the racist birther lie, and who had at last count told over 2,000 lies in his first year as president, it was supposed to be yet another chance to bathe in pettiness and vengeance. Instead, the website crashed for an hour and then revealed a bunch of stories the accused media outlets had already corrected. Because that’s how the profession of journalism necessarily works.

Trump’s dumb, propagandistic grandstanding is meant to undermine and discredit an institution that, in the absence of any other obvious checks on his power right now, is desperately needed. In recognition of that fact, it seems worthwhile to hand out another set of awards to the press, in honor of things done right.

Here are the winners of AlterNet’s Real News Media Awards, which expose Donald Trump as the horrible person and terrible leader he is.

1. Forbes: Trump Redirected Charity Money for Sick Kids to His Own Pockets

In late 2016, the Daily Beast reported the “Eric Trump Foundation [paid] hundreds of thousands over the last 10 years to host lavish fundraising events at Donald Trump’s golf courses.” A few months later, Forbes waded even further into the deep end and found that the Trump Organization had collected more than $1.2 million from a handful of charities, including Eric Trump’s. The analysis also uncovered that the Donald J. Trump Organization—which has a recorded history of shady dealings—”used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.” What’s more, people who donated to the Eric Trump Foundation expecting those funds …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Shocking Infanticide Trial That Exposed Sexual Harassment in 1868

January 19, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony, founders of The National Woman Suffrage Association, 1881. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

When Susan B. Anthony took the stage at New York’s Cooper Union on the night of December 1, 1868, the activist—already famous for helping organize the first groups of American women’s rights agitators—could spot some of the suffrage movement’s leading lights in the audience. There was Horace Greeley, the influential abolitionist who had taken up the suffrage cause. There was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anthony’s friend and partner in agitating for votes for women. And there were scores of other influential women who worked and marched and demanded the vote.

But Anthony wasn’t there to fight for the ballot—she was there to demand the release of a convicted murderer from prison. As she took the stage, she told the audience about the case of Hester Vaughn, a woman tried and convicted of murdering her own baby. But Vaughn wasn’t a cold-blooded murderer, Anthony insisted, she was yet another victim of a system that denied women their basic human rights.

At the time, the story of a poor, unmarried domestic servant was an unlikely cause célèbre. But Vaughn became the centerpiece of a shocking infanticide trial that exposed sexual harassment, gender inequality and the limited legal rights of women—issues that attracted the sympathy of the leaders of the growing women’s rights movement.

It all started in 1868, when a dead baby was discovered in the apartment of Hester Vaughn, an English immigrant working as a domestic servant in Philadelphia. Vaughn had come to the United States to meet her fiancé, a man who was in fact married to another woman and abandoned Vaughn after she arrived in America.

Five years later, the unmarried Vaughn became pregnant by a man she refused to publicly identify. At the time, single mothers were doomed to life as social outcasts, and Vaughn gave birth to the baby alone and in secret in her apartment. But the infant soon died, igniting a sensational trial in which she was accused of murder.

In court, Vaughn testified that she had been seduced by her employer and then fired from her job for falling pregnant. Vaughn claimed that soon after giving birth she had fallen on the child, startled when her landlady entered …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Ryan McMaken: Are We Getting Poorer?

January 19, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken, Jeff Deist

Mises Weekends with Jeff Deist

By: Ryan McMaken, Jeff Deist

By every measure extreme poverty in Third World nations is decreasing rapidly. But what about the US and the West? Economist and mises.org editor Ryan McMaken joins Jeff Deist for a wide-ranging discussion of what makes people rich, and how economists should measure wealth. This great discussion explains the decline of real incomes and savings rates in the West, the moral hazards created by central banks, and how a happy combination of technology and market innovation often manages to outpace rapacious governments. Is deflation, horribly mischaracterized by economists, the real source of wealth in a society? And should we judge our personal finances in terms of net worth or lifestyle?

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science

January 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Martha Rosenberg, CounterPunch

Pharma pushes its questionable psychiatric drugs on cash-hungry museums.


Do you overeat? Did your boyfriend just break up with you? Does no one return your emails? Do you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning? If so, you may be suffering from mental illness! Mental illness is a highly stigmatized, life-long condition, which millions do not even realize they have and only a pharmaceutical drug can fix, claims Big Pharma and its operatives.

Few marketing gambits have been as successful as Pharma’s elevation of everyday symptoms into “mental illness.” The campaign has enabled Pharma to aggregate “patient” groups to petition lawmakers, insurers and Medicaid and Medicare for payment of high-priced psychiatric drugs. It has allowed groups like the Pharma-funded Active Minds and NAMI to infiltrate college campuses and proclaim the ups and downs of growing up and college life are “mental illness”––thus growing the market. And now it has even infiltrated Boston’s Museum of Science.

Last spring, an exhibit called Many Faces of Our Mental Health debuted at the museum, taking Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill message to museum-goers and the general public. Visitors to the exhibit “might gain new insights and better understand the complex nature of mental health,” said the press release. They might “reflect on how mental health affects their own lives or the lives of friends and family.” Hey, they might have a mental illness, too!

Funders of the exhibit included the Pharma-backed NAMI and the Sidney R. Baer Jr. and Sidney A. Swensrud foundations, both of which stress screening and early intervention for childhood “mental illness.” Both mechanisms are widely seen as a way to grow the market for psychiatric drugs. In fact, the Baer Foundation funds the Pharma-funded Joan Luby, who not only finds mental abnormalities in toddlers but also thinks they are present in “late preterm” babies!

There is no biological test for mental illness—whether depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder—and until recently, depression and anxiety were not even considered mental illnesses. Now, television drug ads, faux patient groups and faux public service announcements and online quizzes have produced a groundswell of self-diagnosed “mentally ill” people. Pharma-funded patient groups like …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Game-Changer in Florida Politics With National Implications Is on the Verge of Making the 2018 Ballot

January 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

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Restoring the voting rights of more than 1.5 million people would change Florida's electorate and justice system.


A grassroots campaign to amend Florida’s constitution to restore the voting rights of upwards of 1.5 million Floridians who have been convicted of non-violent felonies and completed their sentences is poised to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

By Wednesday, the Florida Department of State has certified more than 745,000 petition signatures of the 766,000 needed to get on the ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment also has to meet signature thresholds in 14 legislative districts and has done so in 12 of them, campaign organizers said.

“In total, we submitted well over 1.1 million petitions to the supervisors of elections offices all across the state, from Pensacola to Key West,” campaign manager Jackie Lee said on a conference call Tuesday. “And all the petitions, we think, where we needed to verify, were also all in by December 29th, to ensure that we could make the ballot. We all know they needed to be verified by February first. So because of all of your hard work, we had them in on time. We’re… actually even excited to submit a couple right after that date because they kept on coming in from all around the state.”

The felon rights restoration effort is one of America’s most important electoral initiatives in 2018. More than 10 percent of Florida’s voting-age population, 1.7 million residents, have lost their voting rights under the nation’s most punitive felon disenfranchisement law—a statute that has its roots in the Old South’s racist Jim Crow culture.

“This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation,” the legal petition states. “The amendment would not apply …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's Ideas May Force the Introspection 'Davos Man' Needs

January 19, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

President Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos
next week.

On the face of it, the annual jolly for worldwide business and
political elites at a ski resort in Switzerland looks an
unwelcoming environment for the President. “Davos Man” is seen by
many as the manifestation of the globalist agenda Trump denounces.
The biggest acclaim at last year’s jaunt, after all, went to
President Xi of China, as he outlined a robust defense of free trade days
after Trump’s inauguration extolled protectionism.

But there’s an argument to be made that on other issues, Trump’s
likely opinions will provide the shake-up the Forum needs.

Rich people blowing company cash in an expensive resort to
bloviate their political views and contemplate the musings of “very
important people” is in itself not particularly interesting. But
when politicians, businessmen, lobbyists, commentators and
regulators get together committing to “improving the state of the
world,” there are reasons to be concerned.

The first is that by design elites and vested interests dominate
the conversation.

As an example, last year the forum contained business voices
denouncing Brexit, with major banks and other established
international companies lamenting potential impacts on supply
chains and their commercial activities. Totally unrepresented were
British consumers, who pay higher prices for external goods because
of EU-level tariffs, and small businesses and yet-to-exist
enterprises, which disproportionately bear the costs, or don’t
exist, due to EU regulations.

Indeed, it should not surprise us given the aligned interests of
participants that Davos Man is so prone to groupthink on the issues
of the day. A look back at the conference of 2006 shows little to
no discussion of global systemic financial risks, but concern about
bird flu being the next Black Death.

And who can blame them? Financiers, industrialists and
regulators at Davos on any given year are generally success stories
under current policies, and see near-term concerns as threats to
their position, and arguably ignore larger systemic problems on the
horizon.

Elites, by definition, have done well out of the status quo.
They have wealth and power that they seek to preserve. It should
not surprise us then to see the World Economic Forum now pushes
articles about how to “deal” with supposed populism. Conventional
elite wisdom worldwide is social democratic — that political
fissures have arisen because of economic anxieties and
inequalities.

So the lazy “solution” is for more government investment or more
redistribution to keep the populists at bay. It just so happens
bigger government will inevitably mean politicians dealing with and
buying goods and services from existing major businesses – the very
sort that appear at the World Economic Forum every January.

Perhaps the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump's Dysfunction Drives Shameless Republicans Toward the Abyss

January 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Jefferson Morley, AlterNet

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As the porn-star loving president flubs his lines, women and independents are fleeing in droves.


It's hard to say who is more ludicrous: President Trump sowing chaos as he tries and fails to run the government, or his Republican enablers reaping a harvest of humiliation with the sh*t(hole)-eating grin of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“It’s not causing us problems at all,” Ryan said at a news conference Thursday after Trump’s tweet on the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program sabotaged Republican plans to avert a government shutdown. (Three hours later, the White House announced Trump opposed the position he had just taken.)

When Trump described Haiti and unnamed African nations as sh*thole countries,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) boldly rose to his (non-) defense. The president actually said “sh*thouse,” Cotton explained.

When Trump criticized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last week, which his administration was seeking to renew, only to reverse himself two hours later, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly denied the president had made his job more difficult.

“It's not more difficult,” Kelly said with a straight face. “It's a juggling act.”

That Trump is often ignorant of his party’s policy positions will surprise no one. That Republicans will humiliate themselves by mouthing obvious lies to stay in the good graces of a man who apparently paid off a porn star to conceal their affair, is slightly more surprising, especially when voters are fleeing their party.

‘Electric Shock’

The surprise victory of a Democratic candidate in a western Wisconsin state legislative district that backed Trump by 17 points in 2016 is only the latest sign that voters aren’t amused by the “juggling act” of Trump and his enablers.

“This special election hit the Wisconsin GOP like an electric shock,” Charlie Sykes, a former conservative radio host in Wisconsin told …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How I Came to Protest in Front of the White House I Had Worked In

January 19, 2018 in History

By Alyssa Mastromonaco

National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland addressing a demonstration on the Mall in Washington. D.C. in 1997. (Credit: Karin Cooper/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

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

The first time I heard the word feminist was in 1988, when I was in 6th grade. I was a good student with the absolute best, best friend. She was a feminist, and had decided so at age 12. We would talk about it, and I agreed with everything she said. But for some reason, the label felt separate from me; my friend was the feminist one, and I was an able and funny sidekick. I have no idea why I saw it that way. I’m from a very small town, and feminism seemed exotic. Something people talked about on TV.

But then I saw something on TV that changed my perspective. While I was growing up, it was an unspoken rule in our house that the news was on in my house from 5:00-7:00 PM, and I’d often watch at home alone while my mom dropped my sister at ballet class. One day, a few years later, I tuned in to see a woman named Patricia Ireland talking about women’s rights. I don’t remember anyone before her captivating me the way she did. She seemed so unafraid. As the President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) she told The New York Times in 1992, “I want it all. I want to do everything. I don’t see why I can’t have my cake and eat it too.”

National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland addressing a demonstration on the Mall in Washington. D.C. in 1997. (Credit: Karin Cooper/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Well, I thought at first: What would she have to be afraid of? And then I listened to what she was actually saying. Slowly, I began to realize that, beyond the boundaries of this small town—and probably much more within the boundaries than I realized at the time—there was a lot to be afraid of. She spoke with strength and conviction about things that seemed so much like common sense, that initially I didn’t believe they needed saying at all. But they did.

And they still do.

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March, the worldwide protest that took place on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The idea began as a couple of Facebook events posted in the hours after the shock of …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How Transgender People in the South Are Helping Each Other Get Health Care

January 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Lewis Wallace, Scalawag Magazine

Facing discrimination, trans people in Tennessee and Kentucky have developed a buddy system for doctor’s visits.


This article has been updated to reflect the Trump Administration's announcement to defend health care workers who deny transgender patients medical care on religious grounds.

RJ Robles was sick, and unsure what to do. Robles had suffered from excruciating stomach pain for two days, and they knew it wasn’t something they ate. But, Robles said, “I found myself, just like any other trans person, avoiding the ER.”

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It was nighttime, in Nashville, Tennessee, where Robles (who goes by they/them pronouns) had moved from Chicago for school. Even though they were hesitant to brave at the hospital, they texted Kale Edmiston, founder of the Trans Buddy program at Vanderbilt University. Kale met RJ at the hospital, “and just held my hand throughout the whole night at the ER and was super present with me, let the nurses know about my trans status and identity.”

Edmiston told the nurses and doctors what Robles’ pronouns were, and pushed the doctor to listen carefully to Robles and take their condition seriously. Edmiston, who describes himself as “pragmatic and stubborn,” stayed at the hospital all night, making sure doctors were respectful and patient with Robles. The attempt to preempt a transphobic encounter helped. Robles was eventually sent home, doped up on painkillers (Edmiston drove them), and referred to a specialist who diagnosed them with irritable bowel syndrome.

Robles says they avoid emergency rooms for the same reasons a lot of transgender people do: there’s the cost, first off. But there’s also the potential for confrontation, discrimination, or abuse. 

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid, has seen significant declines in the numbers of people without insurance, but its Medicaid program doesn’t cover gender-affirming surgeries or hormones. In KHJN’s 2014 survey, one in five trans Kentuckians said they were without insurance. Most who had insurance said their insurance wouldn’t cover trans-related care, and three in five surveyed made under $30,000 a year. In other words, trans Kentuckians are highly likely to be unable …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Sound Economics Birthed the Video-Game Era

January 19, 2018 in Economics

By Chris Calton

joystick.PNG

By: Chris Calton

In 1962, the first version of Spacewar! was completed. Technically, this wasn’t the first video game ever created, but it was probably the first one that really mattered, as it serves as the beginning of the long line of advances in video game technology that continues into the present day.

The invention of the game is generally credited to Steve Russell, who was the primary programmer. But the development of the game was the product of a handful of programmers working with an early computer known as the PDP-1. The original version of the game employed two “ships” – really just shapes on a screen – that could shoot a missile (a dot) at the other ship. It was a two-player game, and the goal was to destroy your opponent.

But the programmers made their code available to anybody who asked for it, and innovation in the game flourished. A gravity simulation was developed by another programmer who added a sun that would pull on the ships, creating a new obstacle for players to contend with. Another programmer altered the randomly placed dots on the screen that represented stars so that they actually reflected the real-world constellations and even mirrored each star’s respective brightness. A hyperspace option was added by yet another programmer, providing a new strategic element to the game.

But perhaps the most important innovation came from another techy named Nolan Bushnell. While he attended college at the University of Utah, he was employed by an amusement park to work their arcade room. In the days prior to electronic games, this meant mechanical pinball games, rather than the modern arcade games that Bushnell was about to invent.

Like any computer geek in the 1960s, Bushnell was enthralled by Spacewar! which he was able to play on the PDP-1 owned by the University of Utah, and he wanted to bring the game to the arcade so non-computer geeks could play for a quarter. The problem was that the PDP-1 that the game ran on did not come cheap. “I realized you could make a whole lot of quarters if you could put a computer with a game in an arcade,” Bushnell said, in reflecting on the idea in 2013,1 “And …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE