You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 25.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Men, Here’s One Easy Way to Avoid Being a Sexual Harasser at Work

January 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Don't be this guy.


Workplaces across the country are on high alert for sexual harassment as the #MeToo movement takes down one office predator after another. Sexual harassment awareness in the workplace is a hotter topic than ever, spawning nuanced conversations about what is and isn’t appropriate at work. No one wants to be accused of making their coworkers feel uncomfortable. For men, this can be tricky terrain. While some men know to be careful when making comments about a woman’s hair or outfit, some other areas are not so clear-cut. One easy way to avoid being the creepy guy at work: don’t rate your coworkers’ appearances.

Believe it or not, it’s an incredibly common conversation in American workplaces. A recent Cosmopolitan survey found that 43 percent of men have seen coworkers rate women's hotness at work. And 53 percent of men say they’ve overheard coworkers make inappropriate sexual comments to or about the women they work with. Rest assured, “rating hotness” is definitely a male thing. Surveys have found that men are much less likely to think that ranking people’s attractiveness on a 1-10 scale is sexist.

If the occasional, offhand “I’d tap that” or “check out the [insert body part] on her” to a buddy at work doesn’t seem like big deal, consider the frequency with which women hear these conversations taking place. The same survey says 32 percent of women have seen male colleagues rate women's appearances at work. For men who aren’t aware, know that even overhearing these conversations on the way to lunch can make some women extremely uncomfortable, can create a “boy’s club” atmosphere at work, and can detract from the professionalism of a workspace. These women aren’t being oversensitive; they simply expect a work environment …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Progressive Activists Ambush Joe Manchin Before Vote to Confirm Big Pharma Executive

January 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The Democratic senator from West Virginia struggled to defend his decision.


/* ><!–*/

/*–><!*/

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 55-43 to confirm Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the nation’s largest federal agency with a $1.1 trillion budget that includes purchase and delivery of medications for an array of federal health programs, including Medicare.  

Hours before, progressive activists from Social Security Works, Public Citizen, Credo Action, People’s Action, Other 98, and UNITE HERE delivered 300,000 petitions to three senators urging them to reject Azar’s nomination, primarily because he was a senior executive with Eli Lilly, which was known to price-gouge medications needed by vulnerable populations.

The petitions were delivered to the Capitol offices of Democratic senators Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Tom Carper.

Six Democrats—Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heitkamp of North Dakota, Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama—voted in favor of Azar's confirmation.

During the delivery, Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson confronted Sen. Manchin on his support for Azar. He and other activists pressed Manchin, to no avail, about industry price-gouging on medications that treat opioid addiction.

As Social Security Work’s Facebook page noted, “Someone that was involved in the pharmaceutical industry that caused the opioid epidemic so that they could PROFIT can not be trusted to solve the problem. C'mon Senator Manchin we know you know better.”

A video of their exchange is below, followed by a transcript.

Alex Lawson: “There’s Sen. Manchin, right there, himself. Senator, can we deliver these petitions to vote no on Alex Azar this afternoon when he comes up?”

Sen. Manchin: “Oh, okay. Well, I’m going to vote for Alex because I’ve got a commitment to fight the opiate epidemic that’s killing my state.

Alex Lawson: “Alex Azar, when he was at Eli Lilly, worked in collusion with other pharmaceutical companies to skyrocket the price of insulin. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Is This the Wreck of the Last U.S. Slave Ship?

January 25, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

More than 50 years after the international slave trade was outlawed in the United States, an Alabama plantation owner bet a friend that he could smuggle in a group of slaves from Africa aboard an 86-foot sailboat named the Clotilda.

But in July 1860, on their way back to Alabama with some 110 enslaved men and women from West Africa, the boat’s captain and crew started to worry that the authorities were on to them. After unloading their captives under cover of night, they ditched the Clotilda, setting it ablaze on the banks of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

Now, a reporter in Alabama may have found evidence of their illicit voyage for the first time—thanks to the cold weather system that produced the notorious “bomb-cyclone” in January 2017. To find the possible location of the wreck, Ben Raines of AL.com relied on historical records—including the journal of the vessel’s captain, William Foster, and a newspaper interview given 30 years later by the expedition’s financier, Timothy Meaher—as well as the memories and family lore of local residents.

As it turned out, the extremely low tides produced by the cold front that hit the Eastern Seaboard had revealed what appeared to be the burned-out wreckage of a ship alongside a swampy island in the delta, a few miles north of Mobile. When he saw the iron spikes and charred wood poking out of the mud, “I just had this overwhelming feeling,” Raines said in a video accompanying his article. “That’s the final resting place of the Clotilda.”

Ever since Meaher boasted about his scheme to a newspaper reporter in 1890, the fate of the Clotilda has stood out as an intriguing chapter in the history of slavery in the United States. It’s even more important in Alabama, where the slaves brought from what is now Benin, in Africa, aboard the Clotilda settled in Mobile after emancipation, in an area that became known as “Africatown.”

Unlike the vast majority of African Americans, the descendants of the men and women who made their trans-Atlantic voyage aboard the ship (a group that reportedly includes the musician Amir “Questlove” Thompson, of the Roots and Tonight Show fame) can pinpoint exactly how and when their ancestors came to the United States.

Historian Sylviane Diouf explored the story of the Clotilda in depth in her 2007 book Dreams of Africa in Alabama, but numerous searches for the slave ship itself had …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

As Mueller Closes In, Paranoia Spreads in the White House

January 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Jeff Sessions tries to purge FBI of Comey’s influence, while right-wingers spread outrageous conspiracy theories.


For those of us who follow the news through the mainstream media, Tuesday was a busy day for the Russia investigation. It started with Monday's late-breaking story from Axios, reporting that FBI Director Christopher Wray had threatened to quit after Attorney General Jeff Sessions exerted pressure on him to purge the agency of people the White House considers tainted by association with former director James Comey. Sessions even asked White House counsel Don McGahn what to do and was reportedly told to back off, since firing yet another FBI director wouldn't be a good look for the Trump administration.

The people the White House would like gone, notably FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former chief legal counsel James A. Baker, may be witnesses to Trump's suspected obstruction of justice. That makes this a bigger story because it piles on even more suspicion about that possible crime. Apparently, special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at more than just the Comey firing and the Michael Flynn coverup. He may be concerned that the president and his staff are still seeking to obstruct justice.

Look at what Trump said in public last November:

The saddest thing is that because I'm the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I look at what's happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren't they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier? I'm very unhappy with it, that the Justice Department isn't going. I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated by it.

Trump has also been furiously defaming Comey, McCabe, Baker and others at the FBI on Twitter for months, which lends credibility to the assumption that Sessions is acting as the president's personal henchman and trying to purge the FBI of anyone who might be a witness in the obstruction case.

When asked to comment on the report …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Neoliberalism Is Taking a Steep Toll on an Entire Generation's Mental Health: Study

January 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Jacob Sugarman, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Research finds our economic system has made us more judgmental of each other and ourselves.


Are you a millennial prone to self-criticism? Is your sense of worth inextricably bound to your professional standing and achievements? Do you suffer from acute social anxiety or are otherwise fearful of being judged by your peers?

The source of your unhappiness may not be chemical or emotional but a product of our economic system. According to a study from Psychological Bulletin, neoliberalism is producing generations of young people who are increasingly demanding, both of each other and themselves.

So what is neoliberalism, anyway? Despite what the pundit class might have you believe, it's more than a glib pejorative for the policies of corporate Democrats and the GOP, although both parties have embraced a neoliberal model to varying degrees. Mike Konczal offers the following definition at Vox:

“'Neoliberalism' encompasses market supremacy—or the extension of markets or market-like logic to more and more spheres of life. This, in turn, has a significant influence on our subjectivity: how we view ourselves, our society, and our roles in it. One insight here is that markets don’t occur naturally but are instead constructed through law and practices, and those practices can be extended into realms well beyond traditional markets.”

As Meagan Day points out in Jacobin, meritocracy and neoliberalism often go hand in hand. If the whole of society can be reduced to a series of market transactions, then individuals become commodities in direct competition with one another.

“Since the mid-1970s, neoliberal political-economic regimes have systematically replaced things like public ownership and collective bargaining with deregulation and privatization, promoting the individual over the group in the very fabric of society,” Day notes. “Meanwhile, meritocracy—the idea that social and professional status are the direct outcomes of individual intelligence, virtue, and hard work—convinces …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Here Are the 10 Worst Attacks on Workers From Trump’s First Year

January 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Economic Policy Institute

Since taking office, President Trump has overseen a string of policies that will harm working people and benefit corporations and the rich.


January 20th marks the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Since taking office, President Trump has overseen a string of policies that will harm working people and benefit corporations and the rich. Here we present a list of the 10 worst things Congress and Trump have done to undermine pay growth and erode working conditions for the nation’s workers. 

1) Enacting tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy over the average worker

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) signed into law at the end of 2017 provides a permanent cut in the corporate income tax rate that will overwhelmingly benefit capital owners and the top 1%. President Trump’s boast to wealthy diners at his $200,000-initiation-fee Mar-a-Lago Club on Dec. 22, 2017, says it best: “You all just got a lot richer.”

2) Taking billions out of workers’ pockets by weakening or abandoning regulations that protect their pay

In 2017, the Trump administration hurt workers’ pay in a number of ways, including acts to dismantle two key regulations that protect the pay of low- to middle-income workers. The Trump administration failed to defend a 2016 rule strengthening overtime protections for these workers, and took steps to gut regulations that protect servers from having their tips taken by their employers.

3) Blocking workers from access to the courts by allowing mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts

The Trump administration is fighting on the side of corporate interests who want to continue to require employees to sign arbitration agreements with class action waivers. This forces workers to give up their right to file class action lawsuits, and takes them out of the courtrooms and into individual private arbitration when their rights on the job are violated.

4) Pushing immigration policies that hurt all workers

The Trump administration has taken a number of extreme actions that will hurt all workers, including detaining unauthorized immigrants who were victims of employer abuse and human trafficking, and ending Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers, many of whom have resided in the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

How the Challenger Disaster Changed NASA

January 25, 2018 in History

By Amy Shira Teitel

The space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift off. (Credit: Bruce Weaver/AP Photo)

By January of 1986 America was already bored with spaceflight.

It was, in part, NASA’s own fault. The government agency had debuted the space shuttle program five years earlier with an aggressive public-relations message that the reusable vehicles would make access to space both affordable and routine. Projected frequency: more than 50 flights a year.

But had space flight become…too routine? Even as the shuttle undertook fewer than one-tenth that many flights, excitement quickly waned. Television coverage slacked. Missions—to conduct research, repair satellites, and build the International Space Station—failed to ignite popular imaginations the way a moon landing had. For many Americans, shuttle flights carried little of the bravado and romance of the Apollo era.

The launch on January 28, 1986, was different. The sun had been up for less than an hour and air temperatures were a few notches above freezing when the crew of STS-51L boarded the orbiter Challenger that Tuesday morning. All around the country people were getting excited—in large part because the seven-person crew’s included Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher and mother of two chosen to fly as part of NASA’s Teacher in Space program. As a civilian, she was PR catnip: infinitely relatable and proof that space was now truly open to average Americans, not just hot-shot fighter jocks. Kids nationwide would watch the launch live and know that no dream was beyond reach.

The space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift off. (Credit: Bruce Weaver/AP Photo)

But 73 seconds after Challenger’s launch, that dream quickly became a nightmare. Challenger disappeared as white vapor bloomed from the external tank. Spectators were stunned. Teachers scrambled to get their kids out to recess. And images of the grotesque, Y-shaped explosion dominated the news cycle for days to come. For the first time in its history, NASA had lost a crew on a mission—with the nation watching.

More than three decades later, the image of that explosion remains as iconic as Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon. Challenger not only taught America a lesson about faulty O-rings and hubris; it forever changed our relationship with spaceflight and our tax-funded space agency. We’re now in a new era where private companies, eyeing Mars, are starting to shift the spaceflight spotlight away from government efforts. Will these billionaire dreamers avoid the mistakes of the past? Whoever participates in the next space wave can learn a lot from …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Stunning New Fossil Suggest Humans Left Africa Far Earlier Than We Thought

January 25, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The Misliya Cave. (Credit: Rolf Quam)

An international team of scientists has discovered a Homo sapiens fossil in Israel that is somewhere between 175,000 and 200,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil ever found outside Africa.

The discovery of the upper jawbone fossil in Misliya Cave on Mount Carmel, the coastal mountain range on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, suggests that modern humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously believed. Before this, the oldest modern human fossils found outside Africa have been estimated to be between 90,000 and 120,000 years old.

For the new study, published this week in Science magazine, researchers led by Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University used three independent dating techniques to estimate the age of the jawbone, which belonged to an adult and includes several teeth. They also analyzed the fossil using micro-Computed Tomography (CT) scans and used 3-D virtual modeling to compare it with other hominin fossils found in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Through this analysis, they found that while the teeth are larger than those of most modern humans, all the jawbone’s anatomical details match up neatly with those of our species.

The Misliya Cave. (Credit: Rolf Quam)

The Misliya discovery lends support to at least one other recent study that used DNA to establish a possible earlier migration date for modern humans out of Africa. Earlier studies have also suggested that modern humans may have interacted—and potentially interbred—with archaic human groups such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans.

“Misliya is an exciting discovery,” said Rolf Quam, an associate professor of archaeology at Binghamton University-State University of New York (SUNY) and a co-author of the new study. In addition to providing clear evidence for an earlier migration from Africa, he said, the find “means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges.”

The evidence Quam and his colleagues discovered in Misliya indicates that the cave’s ancient inhabitants could produce and control fire, hunt large game and make and use stone tools—and relatively sophisticated ones, at that. Alongside the fossilized jawbone, the scientist found tools made in a style known as the Levallois technique, which involves striking a piece of flint to create sharp, flat stone flakes, which can then be used as tools.

The stone kit found in Misliya Cave resembles ones found with the …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Can Double-Entry Bookkeeping Save the World?

January 25, 2018 in Economics

By Edward W. Fuller

pacioli.jpg

By: Edward W. Fuller

Jane Gleeson-White’s bestselling Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance is firmly entrenched as the leading primer to accounting history. This extremely popular and well-written book begins by arguing that accounting was the world’s first communications technology. The first accounting system dates from 7000 BC and the first complex accounting systems date from 3500 BC. The earliest accounting systems were not kept in writing, but with tokens shaped to resemble specific property. The early accountants realized that, rather than making tokens, they could simply draw the tokens’ shapes on tablets. Thus, accountants invented writing to record private property.

Gleeson-White traces the early history of accounting to the pivotal invention of double-entry bookkeeping in northern Italy around 1300 AD. She argues Roman numerals stunted the development of accounting. Double-entry bookkeeping could only emerge after 1200 when Fibonacci (1170–1249) popularized in Europe the Hindu-Arabic numerals and arithmetic we all use today. For the author, the “economic boom” of the crusades and the popularization of Hindu-Arabic numerals in Europe explains the invention of double-entry in Italy around 1300.

The book’s main character is Luca Pacioli (1446–1517), a Franciscan monk and mathematician born near Florence. Although he did not invent the approach, Pacioli published the first systematic treatise on double-entry bookkeeping in 1494. Pacioli’s famous 27-page accounting treatise makes him the father of double-entry accounting. Gleeson-White justifiably devotes a significant portion of the book to the life of Pacioli and his famous treatise.

After treating Pacioli, the author briefly traces the movement and development of double-entry bookkeeping across Europe and into the New World. She argues that the concept of capitalism came from double-entry bookkeeping. She then explains how her “economic hero,” John Maynard Keynes, used the double-entry method to develop national income accounting. She criticizes the role of accounting in recent accounting frauds and financial crises. Finally, Gleeson-White ends the book by arguing double-entry bookkeeping is destroying the planet and a new form of “green accounting” is desperately needed to save the earth.

Unfortunately, Double Entry is a highly problematic primer to accounting history. It must be stressed that the author has an extremely dim view of accounting. For example, “[accounting] tools cannot be trusted to convey the true state of the business at all. … [Accounting] numbers are arbitrary, illusory.” Again, “accounting measures are fundamentally arbitrary and go largely unchallenged.” The book’s polemical tone makes for an …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

How the Tet Offensive Shocked Americans into Questioning if the Vietnam War Could be Won

January 25, 2018 in History

By Matthew Dallek

An American tank of the 9th Division among the ruins of a Saigon street after the Mini-Tet offensive in 1968. (Credit: Tim Page/CORBIS/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.

From the time U.S. combat troops began shipping over to Vietnam in 1965 to fight the spread of communism, Americans weren’t quite sure what to make of the war playing out in jungles and rice paddies halfway across the world. But in the eyes of millions of Americans, one thing seemed likely: It was only a matter of time before the United States, a global superpower with vastly superior military might, would prevail.

Then came Tet.

It was 2:45 a.m., on Jan. 30, 1968—the day Vietnam celebrated the lunar new year—when Viet Cong troops raced through a three-foot hole they had blown in a wall protecting the United States Embassy in Saigon. Thus began the Tet Offensive, in which thousands of communist-backed Viet Cong fighters waged a series of major assaults on big cities, provincial hamlets and regional capitals across U.S.-backed South Vietnam—more than 100 locations in the first 24 hour alone. In addition to the bloody fighting in the Embassy courtyard, they waged fierce attacks on strategic targets such as the presidential palace, Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport and the city of Hue, once a seat of emperors. In subsequent days, more waves of the offensive followed.

Launched 50 years ago this week, Tet was in some key respects a military bust for the Viet Cong. American and South Vietnamese troops quickly regrouped, fended off the attackers (the embassy invaders were quelled within hours) and ultimately killed as many as 40,000 enemy soldiers. The Viet Cong’s “regular units were decimated and would never completely recover, and its political infrastructure suffered crippling losses,” wrote Vietnam War historian George Herring.

Nonetheless, they wouldn’t fold. The Vietnamese had a long history of resisting outside forces—most recently French colonials. So the war ground on, beamed nightly into American living rooms on the evening news. Tet became a turning point—not militarily on the ground, but in terms of politics, policy and public opinion back in the United States.

Tet would become a political disaster for President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, overshadowing his considerable domestic policy successes in attacking poverty, creating social safety nets and codifying civil rights. The offensive sowed profound doubts about the war’s course—exposing the truth that, in spite of the presence of some 500,000 American military personnel in Vietnam, …read more

Source: HISTORY