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Students Who Survived the Florida Shooting Are Stepping onto the National Stage to Demand Gun Control

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By April M. Short, AlterNet

Five teenagers invite the nation to march with them to end mass shootings.

Seventeen people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Their peers and family members want this mass shooting to be the last one, and in order to drive that aim home, they are organizing the March for Our Lives, set for March 24 in Washington D.C. 

On a crowded podium the day after the shooting, Stoneman Douglas 12th-grader Emma González spoke to a crowd at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, surrounded by victims' family members and other shooting survivors. She recalled cowering in a closet for hours while she heard gunfire rain down on her friends. She shamed lawmakers for taking money from the NRA and refusing to take action on gun violence. 

“Every single person who is up here today, all these people, should be at home grieving, but instead we are up here because if all our government and president can do is send 'thoughts and prayers,' then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” González said. “We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn't just a mental health issue. He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife!”

González is organizing a national protest effort alongside fellow students David Hogg, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky and Jacqueline Coren, all of whom attend Stoneman Douglas and were there the day of the shooting. Their goal is to pressure legislators to implement stronger firearm regulations, and ideally, to restrict access to automatic and semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 that enabled the accused gunman to massacre people at the school last week.

“We are going to be the last mass shooting,” Emma González said to a roaring crowd at the gun control rally. “Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That's gonna be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook. And it's all going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members, …read more


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Are Dead Children The Price of Freedom?

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Christian Christensen, AlterNet

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These are troubling days in the United States.

There is a sickness eating at the body and soul of my home country, and it is on full view for the world to see.

When the news broke on Valentine’s Day that 17 people—mostly young students—had lost their lives in Parkland, Florida, one could be forgiven for being numb. Of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in US history, six have come after 2012. Of those six, three have occurred in the last 5 months, including the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives, the deadliest in US history.

While these events attract the headlines and outrage, the vast majority of gun deaths in the United States are not as a result of mass shootings. Over the past five years, there have been, on average, 12,500 firearm-related homicides per year. This number does not include accidental deaths or suicides.

Let’s put that number into perspective. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 took 3,000 lives. At an average of 12,500 deaths a year, 200,000 people in the United States have been murdered with the use of a firearm since those attacks 16 years ago. That’s equal to 67 September 11 attacks. That’s equal to filling New York’s Madison Square Garden to capacity, killing everyone inside, and then repeating that process 9 more times. That’s equal to killing every single person in Salt Lake City.

200,000 people.

The most common question asked on this side of the Atlantic is: “Why can’t they see what these weapons are doing to their country?”

To answer this question, one needs to understand two things about the United States: the economics of fear, and the depths of paranoia many have about government intrusion into everyday life.

Since 1989, gun rights groups in the US have …read more


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Robert Reich: The Meaning of America

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

We are forgetting the ideals on which our nation was built.

When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big …read more


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John Oliver's 6 Big Lessons on How to Report on Donald Trump

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Rachel Leah, Salon

The late-night comic has some sound advice for us.

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” returns to HBO Sunday, Feb. 18, for the British comedian's fifth season, after a brief hiatus. Though, as he tells a room full of reporters at the network's Bryant Park headquarters Monday, he and his team never stopped working.


It's certainly an eagerly anticipated return, as Oliver has become one of the leading and most celebrated voices in late night. Unsurprisingly, “Last Week Tonight” has been renewed for two additional seasons, through 2020.

While most of the late-night hosts do a good job of holding the Trump administration accountable in inventive and hilarious ways, with the weekly show format Oliver gets to go deeper and beyond the daily circus acts taking place in the White House. His investigative, yet unconventional reporting style and deep dives into often un-sexy topics has earned the show millions of weekly viewers, eight Emmys and the dubbing of “The John Oliver effect,” meaning once “Last Week Tonight” covers an issue, interest in it soars.

In a sharp gray suit, lavender shirt and eggplant tie, Oliver points to the fifth season's advert, with his glasses off, face pressed into his desk, one hand rests on top of his cellphone, perhaps mid-scroll, and his other hand signals that he just needs a moment. Naturally, on top of the image, it reads: “Everything is fine.” Oliver tells the room of journalists, that's how he feels all the time, even before this presidency, but especially now.

But save the usual sarcasm and biting jokes at the state of the world that keeps everyone in the conference room belly-laughing, Oliver has a lot to say about how to report on President Donald Trump. Given the daily onslaughts on the media from the White House, the crusade against facts, and the labeling of any dissent or critique as “fake news,” these lessons are critical and welcomed.

Number 1: There are other valuable things to report on besides Trump. 

“There's other things happening in the world, it can be hard to remember that, just because he's so all-consuming,” Oliver said, adding that of course, “There is some stuff you …read more


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Florida Student Survivors Announce 'March For Our Lives': Here’s a Time to Talk about Gun Control

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Charlie May, Salon

“This is about the adults. We feel neglected, and at this point, you’re either with us or against us.”

Surviving students of the Valentine's Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida, have set a date for lawmakers, and everyone else in the country to discuss gun control: March 24.

“People keep asking us, what about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn't come?” 11th-grader Cameron Kasky told ABC's “This Week” on Sunday. “This is it.”

“This is about the adults. We feel neglected, and at this point, you're either with us or against us,” Kasky said.


“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control, and we can respect that. Here’s a time: March 24, in every single city,” he continued.

The demonstration set for next month in Washington D.C. is to be called the “March For Our Lives” Kasky explained Sunday, seated next to four of his classmates Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin.

In the wake of last week's tragedy that claimed 17 lives, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been the leading voices in calls for action from lawmakers, and have boldly expressed frustration over a nation gridlocked on the issue of guns, as Salon has previously reported.

“We’re going to be facing this with trepidation and determination, and we have an incredible support system around us. We are going to be the difference,” Gonzalez said on CNN.

“This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats,” Kasky added. “Any politician on either side who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this. “At the end of the day, the NRA [National Rifle Association] is fostering and promoting this gun culture.”

Many have said that mass shootings in America have …read more


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'Scared' Trump Blamed FBI for Shooting to Deflect from the Russia Probe Says Ex-FBI Official

February 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Raw Story

“He’s scared out of his mind and playing with the parents of America.”

Appearing on AM Joy, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi harshly criticized Donald Trump for attacking the FBI over the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, in an attempt to deflect attention away from Friday’s bombshell indictments of 13 Russians accused of meddling in the election that put Trump in the White House.

During a panel discussion, Figliuzzi was asked about a Sunday morning tweet from the president which implied that the FBI “missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter” because “[t]hey are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

“Frank, I’ll go to your reaction to the President of the United States blaming the FBI, in essence, for the massacre at Parkland,” host Joy Reid prompted.

The former FBI official appeared furious at the suggestion.

“Joy, let’s distill down what that late night tweet really says after some cheeseburger induced coma after 11:00PM last night,” Figliuzzi explained. “The president puts this squarely on FBI. Here’s what he’s telling parents of America, ‘hey, our gun violence problem would go away if the FBI would just leave me alone.’ That is what he’s saying.”

“He’s saying the FBI is spending too much time on the Russian threat while he is spending zero time addressing the gun violence threat,” he continued. “He’s choosing to ignore what the FBI actually does for a living. He’s choosing to ignore the fact that the local police visited this guy 39 times in response to 911 calls. Social services for the county had to do an assessment of this. Everyone in the school saw the warning signs and indicators, yet he decides not to address the mental health issues, not to propose solutions on making it easier to deny an assault weapon purchase because you have mental health issues.”

“Instead he ‘s defending himself from the FBI,” the disgusted FBI man stated. “Why? He’s read the 32-page indictment Mueller issued on Friday and he knows there’s electronic intercepts of Russian officials. He’s scared out of …read more