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California Police Caught Helping Out Neo-Nazis, Continuing a Longstanding American Tradition

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

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White supremacist policing is a part of our history.

After violence erupted in 2016 between neo-Nazi groups and anti-racist activists in Sacramento, the head of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party went on a well-known racist radio program to gloat about the number of attacks his group had carried out.

“They got one of ours, but we got six of them,” Matthew Heimbach proudly announced, according to the SPLC. “Six antifa on the way to the hospital.”

A year and a half after what is now grimly called the 2016 Sacramento riots, lawyers for anti-fascist activists involved in the protest say they’ve turned up documents proving investigating officers are working on behalf of the racist attackers. A report from the Guardian finds that court papers document “officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity” while also seeking “the prosecution of activists with ‘anti-racist’ beliefs.” Three anti-fascist counter-protesters, Yvette Felarca, Mike Williams and Porfirio Paz, are looking to have felony charges dismissed, citing a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists” by prosecutors and law enforcement.

California Highway Patrol records show TWP member Derik Punneo was asked by officers to review audio and pictures of antifa activists in order to help identify them by name. Law enforcement investigators reassured Punneo that they are “pretty much going after [the anti-racist activists],” but that they would be treating him “as a victim.” As Heimbach alluded in his radio appearance, multiple people were stabbed during the Sacramento incident, and police records indicate Punneo was carrying a knife at the rally. The friendly police interview took place when Punneo was brought in for unrelated domestic violence charges.

While they attempted to identify antifa protesters, CHP officers helped Traditionalist Worker Party members avoid public identification. CHP officer Donovan …read more


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A Fish Who Barely Sleeps Could Help Turn Humans Into All-Night Party Animals

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science

This blind Mexican cave fish might make you quite jealous.


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Related Stories

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‘Clueless’ Conservative Actress Stacey Dash Is Considering a California Congressional Run

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Bob Brigham, Raw Story

Do we really need another washed-up celebrity in Washington?

Former Hollywood actress turned conservative political pundit Stacey Dash is contemplating a run for office.

Dash, who rose to prominence with the 1995 Gen-X coming-of-age movie Clueless, was fired by Fox News as a correspondent.

Dash’s Twitter profile says she lives in Los Angeles, which could be tough political turf for the conservative commentator.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, while pushing Donald Trump’s candidacy, Dash said it was “21st-century Nazism” that black voters backed President Barack Obama.

Also in 2016, Dash made headlines for transphobic comments after sayings trans people should “go in the bushes.”

In 2015, Dash demanded woman should “stop making excuses“ for getting paid less than male counterparts.

This history has some mocking the potential political campaign.

“The former Fox News correspondent has been lambasted for her views on Black History Month, a failed Oscars sketch during the 2016 ceremony and for forgetting her roots as a video vixen and former actress in black cinema,” Blavity noted. “But many of her detractors want her to reconsider because there really isn’t a need for more washed-up celebrities in Washington D.C.”

“When it comes to politics and dealing with the black community, very few people are as clueless and divisive as Stacey Dash,” The Grio noted.

“The notorious self-proclaimed devil’s advocate and the queen of problematic opinions recently took to Twitter to ask her followers how they would feel if she put her extensive expertise in media trolling to use in the political arena: she’s talking Congress, people,” BET noted.

This is …read more


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Sorry, Russia Is Not the Biggest Threat to Our Elections—Facebook and YouTube Are

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Silicon Valley algorithms help spread conspiracy theories peddled by sloppy American journalists.

Americans who care about democracy and voting should stop jumping to conclusions about Russians hunkered down in Moscow cyber-bunkers, and instead look at what’s happening on these shores as shoddy journalists and Silicon Valley’s content curators are doing Vladimir Putin’s work for him.

Last week, a mini-drama played out in the world of American elections, Russian interference and vote-hacking conspiracies that was a microcosm of the same online dynamics that tilted and force-fed American voters seven times as much Hillary-hating propaganda on YouTube as comparable anti-Trump content.

This snapshot reveals that little has changed in the misinformation engines driving the attention economy. This is the frail state of American democracy today, where the most powerful content curators, opportunistic partisans, poorly informed journalists—and yes, overseas adversaries—are funneling and amplifying “divisive, sensational and conspiratorial” content, as one authoritative report put it, further undermining already shaky public confidence in voting.

“Russia probably realizes, despite what a lot of people in the progressive community and other communities probably think, it’s really hard to change the outcome in a race; to change it [the count] to what they might want to occur,” said a former Justice Department lawyer who now advises state election officials. “That [theft] would require a lot of Americans engaged in an active conspiracy here on the ground; thousands of people.”  

“But for less money and risk, they can get us to do their job for them,” he said. “They can get us to doubt our own election system; to doubt the machinery of American democracy. And they have been enormously successful in that. And I think the NBC piece [this week] is part and parcel of that. When you talk about, hysterically, risks that everyone has known about for nearly a year, and you don’t talk about all the work that’s been done since then, you don’t interview a single election official, you’re basically trying to put people into a state of hysteria about how their vote is not going to count. That’s really damaging. That’s going to undermine our …read more


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America Dumps Its Fracking Waste in My Ohio Town

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Alison Stine, OtherWords

My county is poor and remote. Fracking companies think they can abuse it.

My southeastern Ohio town in the Appalachian foothills is a small, rural place where the demolition derby is a hot ticket, Walmart is the biggest store, and people in the surrounding villages must often drive for 30 minutes to grocery shop.

We hold the unfortunate distinction of being the poorest county in the state: an area that is both stunning — with rolling hills, rocky cliffs, pastures, and ravines — and inaccessible, far from industry.

It’s here, at the Hazel Ginsburg well, that fracking companies dump their waste. Trucks ship that sludge of toxic chemicals and undrinkable water across the country and inject it into my county’s forgotten ground.

My step-grandmother, the daughter of a Kentucky miner, used to tell me stories of washing her clothes in polluted red water, downstream from mines. Coal companies exploited employees like her father, paying him in company scrip and keeping him poor and exploiting the land.

That kind of abuse continues. It’s just changed shape. The Ginsburg well has a long history of violations, so many that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources ordered it shut.

It was not.


Athens, Ohio (David Wilson / Flickr)

It’s a pit well, which looks like an old swimming pool, covered by a tarp. No sign indicates the presence of chemicals, just a “no trespassing” sign. Allegedly, a guard will snap your picture if you stop or turn your car around. The well is located in a residential area, with houses — some with swing sets — just down the road.

In 2012, Madeline ffitch (whose last name is spelled lowercase and with the double ff) was arrested there. Her arrest was part of an action by a local anti-fracking group, Appalachia Resist. The then 31-year-old’s arms were locked into cement-filled plastic drums just before the gates, blocking the entrance.

Two years later, Christine Hughes, co-founder of the local Village Bakery, was arrested protesting against another well site, as were seven others. My town called them “the Athens 8” and they were hailed as heroes.

Ffitch and her young …read more


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Law Professor: The DOJ’s Latest Sudden Resignation Is an 'Ominous Sign' and Troubling to Russia Investigation

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Bob Brigham, Raw Story

Is Trump further attempting to obstruct justice in Mueller’s investigation?

After Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the third-highest-ranking official in the Department of Justice, abruptly resigned on Friday, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law Steve Vladeck worried about President Donald Trump further attempting to obstruct justice in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Writing in a new opinion piece for NBC News, Prof. Vladeck analyzed how “Brand’s departure raises questions about who will succeed her and what her departure (and her replacement’s selection) might portend for the future of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Associate AG Brand’s unique position within the Department of Justice, and the Vacancies Reform Act of 1988, may have significant ramifications.

“The reason why all of this matters is because the associate attorney general is the designated successor to the Justice Department’s second-highest ranking official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And it is Rosenstein, thanks to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who authorized Mueller’s investigation in the first place — and who is the only government official with the legal authority to directly fire Mueller and otherwise terminate his investigation,” Prof. Vladeck explained. “In other words, Rosenstein is the crucial fulcrum between the political leadership of the Trump administration and the quasi-independent special counsel. The president cannot directly interfere with the special counsel’s investigation without going through — or getting rid of — Rosenstein.”

“Thus, for those worried that the president might try to prevent the Russia investigation from running its course, Brand’s resignation reduces the number of Senate-confirmed officials who would have to agree with the president (or whom the president would have to fire) to bring about that result,” Prof. Vladeck concluded.

He noted, “the more officials who have to be forced out before the president can achieve a particular result, the greater the political costs. And so with every presumably voluntary departure of someone like Brand, the political costs of direct presidential interference with the Russia investigation may well go down.”

“But even if Brand’s departure ends up having no bearing on …read more


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John Kelly Is Enabling Trump's Tyranny

February 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Darkest side of the Trump agenda: Kelly reveals his true colors and ICE seeks to join the intelligence community.

There's been a lot of news the last couple of days about White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose protective embrace of staff secretary Rob Porter in the face of multiple charges of domestic violence seems to have finally led official Washington and the media to grapple with the fact that the retired general is not the upstanding man of integrity everyone insisted would straighten out the chaotic and unprincipled White House. This was actually obvious long before Kelly was named to the post and he has demonstrated it many times since he moved to the West Wing.

Among other things, Kelly was instrumental in pushing President Trump to blow up a bipartisan DACA deal and earlier this week told an interviewer that some immigrants who were eligible for the DACA program had been “too lazy to get off their asses” and apply. Kelly brings out the worst in Trump, not the best (whatever that may be) — they are too much alike in their throwback attitudes about women, immigrants and people of color. All the flowcharts and discipline in the world can't make up for that. That Kelly would protect an abuser is the most unsurprising thing in the world. It's his main job.

Kelly's attitudes weren't exactly a secret before he went to the White House to babysit Trump. any of us were actually slightly relieved to see him leave his former post as the secretary of Homeland Security, where his hardline anti-immigrant attitudes were being implemented in ways that had direct effects on people's lives. Unfortunately, DHS, and particularly Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is still eagerly carrying out his mission. ICE officers were reportedly giddy with excitement at the election of Donald Trump, who promised to let them “take the gloves off” and go after any undocumented workers and their families they choose. His promise to crack down on sanctuary cities had them over the moon.

This presents a contrast with the FBI and members of the …read more


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Brexit Has Reached the Point of No Return

February 10, 2018 in Economics

By Alasdair Macleod


By: Alasdair Macleod

The actual negotiations could easily run right up to the deadline in March 2019, when Britain is due to leave. If no agreement is forthcoming by that date, both sides might agree to extend negotiations, but that only seems likely if there is a good prospect of an agreement. Otherwise, Britain leaves and falls back on WTO trading rules, or does away with tariffs altogether. This is seen by the EU negotiators as a threat to Britain, believing it is Britain which is running out of time. Therefore, if Britain wants a trade deal, she must make it clear that a no-deal option is attractive to her. And, be it clearly understood, the negotiations only cover a minor part of the UK’s overall economy.

It’s Much Ado About Not Much Trade

WTO tariffs apply to physical goods, involving only £143bn exported from the UK’s £2,000 billion economy to the EU, and imports from the EU of a larger £235.5bn. Excluding agricultural products of some £5bn (net of spirits), average trade-weighted tariffs on goods imported into the EU from non-member states without a trade agreement is only 2.3%.[i] Therefore, the EU’s external tariffs which will be applied to UK non-agricultural goods exports to the EU involves only 7.5% of the UK’s GDP, and is a tax on EU citizens amounting to roughly £2bn. Is this really worth arguing over, and paying massive divorce fees?

The larger issue is services, and here we must differentiate between services sold to consumers, such as retail investments, and wholesale services, such as capital market operations, commercial lending, legal services, architectural services, etc. The retail services involved are not material, and in any event are easily distributed through locally-incorporated subsidiaries in Dublin and Luxembourg. Wholesale services are generally excluded from trade agreements for practical reasons.

Therefore, if a trade agreement is not forthcoming, the cost to British business as a whole is not as material as the Remainers and lobbying businesses have it, and certainly less than the implied cost of normal currency volatility on cross-border settlements. One should conclude that the absence of a trade agreement costs considerably less than the UK Government paying money to the EU for an implementation period.

The Current State of the Brexit Debate

It is becoming clear that the Remainers are driven by little more than a desire to prevent change while distrusting free markets. Nick Clegg, who was Deputy Prime Minister in …read more


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Frederick Douglass at 200: Still Bringing the Thunder

February 10, 2018 in History

By Yohuru Williams

Framed daguerreotype portrait of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. (Credit: J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/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.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham…your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

…Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?… There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

…At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

—Frederick Douglass, excerpt from his ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ speech, delivered July 5, 1852

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth, it becomes more important than ever to take a deeper look at this titan of American history. His name sits in the pantheon of Black History month figures, but too often, we are served up just the celebratory highlights of their lives, minus the messy parts. In Douglass’s case, the escaped slave became one of the nation’s most powerful voices against human bondage—arguably the most influential civil- and human-rights advocate of the 19th century.

But perhaps his greatest legacy? He never shied away from those messy parts.

Because even as he wowed 19th-century audiences in the U.S. and England with his soaring eloquence and patrician …read more


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How Entrepreneurs Wouldn't Let a Beloved Car Brand Die

February 10, 2018 in Economics

By Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna


By: Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna

Aston Martin, “the noble company that’s been at death’s door more times in its long history than most”, in the words of one elegant British sporting journal, is going through one of the very best periods of its storied 105-year history, with a public offering being organized to crown a profitable run that has saved the day—yet again. In 2016, the carmaker, now based at sleek new Warwickshire digs a far cry from the leaky-roof “cottage” where it was camped out most of its life, hit record profits when just a year prior the company had reported close to $100 million in losses. Following an astute game plan to launch a new car every nine months for the next five years, the strategy led to the creation of DB11, its first all-new model for a decade and called the most powerful production car the company has ever built. It won the Car Design Award for 2016 and helped double revenues in the first quarter of 2017. Enigmatic Aston Martin, it appears, is finally back on track.

The turnaround is the latest episode in the Great Entrepreneurial Saga that is the course of Aston Martin’s wild ride through seven bankruptcies between 1924 and 2017. More entertainingly, it is the story of the derring-do businessmen-adventure hunters who swooped in with deus ex machina timing to save the sexy company at each crisis milestone armed with more panache than the dapper spy associated with the car’s alluring mystique. “Maybe we should wait for more data points”, opined the New York Bureau Chief of The Automobile, one the UK’s best written reading pleasures. “But as far as I’m concerned, the car is the most important data point. This one makes me think it is saved.”

Those beautiful cars: once upon a time hand-made (requiring 1200 hours of labor each); the seven coats of paint (requiring 40 hours each), the long wheelbases, the fine Italian bone structure…It’s been a costly venture and the company’s victory lap is deserved. Yet none of it would have happened had a handful of risk-taking romantics decided to abandon or debase what to them was the gold standard of engineering.

Born in 1913 by Mssrs. Bamford and Martin on a borrowed English engine (Coventry-Simplex) and a borrowed Italian chassis (Isotta Franschini), Aston (the name of a racing hill) Martin was steered over the course of its luxuriously bumpy ride …read more