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Donald Trump Jr. Liked a Tweet Perpetuating a Pro-Gun Myth About Mental Health and Mass Murders

March 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Mehreen Kasana, AlterNet

His stance on antidepressants demonizes those with mental health problems.


On Thursday night, Twitter users noticed something odd. President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., liked a tweet linking antidepressants to mass murder. While Trump Jr. did not write the tweet, the seeming endorsement through an approving “heart” was enough to tell Twitter users the direction of his thoughts.

The original tweet was posted by ex-”Saturday Night Live” celebrity Rob Schneider, who said, “Why doesn't CNN or New York Times, Fox News report the fact that ALL THESE MASS MURDERERS WERE ON ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS?” At the end of his furious, all-caps tweet, Schneider threw in a hashtag: “#BigPharmaOwnsMedia.” Ever since, the SNL comedian's hashtag seems to have encouraged other Twitter users to tweet it as well. The hashtag cloud is getting quite a few entries at the moment.

It isn't clear if Schneider was talking about the Parkland shooter, who used an AR-15 to gun down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Among the slain were students and faculty members, including a geography teacher and a coach. One of the shooter's relatives said he might have been on antidepressants, but law enforcement agencies have yet to confirm this observation.

Even if Schneider wasn't talking about the Parkland shooter, the implications of his remark are dangerous and demonizing to those with mental health problemsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30 million Americans use antidepressants once at least every 30 days, and rely on prescribed medication to combat depression on a monthly basis. And it goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of these Americans do not commit murderous shooting sprees.

The notion that antidepressants are key in pushing a person to commit violence is more frequently peddled on the far right, which often turns to this false explanation to make sense of mass murders. The fact that guns are easily accessibile or that lax gun laws make violence more possible are routinely ignored.

It may be disturbing to see the president's son openly endorse such a fallacious assertion, but this isn't the first time Trump Jr. has given a thumbs-up …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How to Prevent More Billionaires from Happening

March 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet

How did we end up with an infestation of billionaires?


Imagine a society with no billionaires.

Numerous countries have tried to accomplish this, but nearly every time they do, the United States intervenes, sometimes covertly like Reagan did in Central America with the contras, and sometimes overtly and explicitly, as JFK did with the attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

We love and defend our billionaires and multimillionaires; after all, we have more of them than any society in the world. The result is that our political system has been corrupted to third-world levels, our middle class has been reduced to servility and deep indebtedness, and a UN representative who recently visited the American South was shocked to find infant mortality, lifespans and hookworm infestations as bad as in some of the world's poorest nations.

And this is the official policy of the United States.

Bill Gates, arguably one of our more benign billionaires, was recently on TV proudly noting that he and his wife have given away “more than $40 billion.” Without specific government programs allowing monopolistic behavior and extending government intellectual property protections for extended periods (something Jefferson fought against unsuccessfully), Gates would merely be a multimillionaire.

Does society benefit from having billionaires? And if not, why do we “allow” (and in fact, openly promote) such wealth accumulation, and where did this all begin?

Prior to the agricultural revolution, roughly 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, virtually all of our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. As Peter Farb (Man’s Rise to Civilization), Marshall Sahlins (The Original Affluent Society), Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) and others have documented over the years, their societies were broadly equal and egalitarian. They were what we’d today call “communist,” in that the community was the first priority and individual accumulation of wealth was entirely subordinate to the needs of the community.

Potlatch societies across North America prior to Columbus, tribes across Africa (the San are most famous; see the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy), and even European tribes were very much based on the idea that the purpose of organizing into a tribe or community was to benefit …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Want Sustainable Clothing? It's Time to Meet Regenerative Fiber

March 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Valerie Vande Panne, AlterNet

Let’s bring the textile industry—and fashion—home.


Do you know where your clothing came from? Not the store, the label or the brand, or from China, India or Vietnam—I mean, do you know who made your clothing? Do you know what your clothes are made from? Or where the fiber in your clothing came from—the cotton, polyester or acrylic?

Chances are, you don’t. And that’s a problem. It’s difficult for people to have respect for an item—or the person who created it—when they don’t know where the item came from or how it was made in the first place.

For instance, did you know your athletic gear is probably made from plastic? And that 94 percent of U.S. drinking water has plastic lint from our clothing in it? You’re literally washing the plastic from your yoga pants into our water systems. Polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex—it’s all plastic. Ninety-eight million tons of oil was used in the textile industry in 2015. By 2050, that number is expected to be 300 million.

And cotton is no easy solution, using 16 percent of the world’s insecticides. Pesticides can then become concentrated in the cotton, as in tampons, or returned to the food supply via cottonseed.

When Bena Burda, founder of organic apparel company Maggie’s Organics, learned about the harms of cotton, she was horrified. She was working in the organic food industry and thought, “This is ridiculous. How can we not know this?”

Regenerative fiber is a movement to return the entire system of clothing, from agriculture to product and back again, to within 250 miles of where one lives. It's a solution to the large-scale, global exploitative textile system and has components rooted in the local, community-based economy, with local farmers cultivating organic fibers—wool, cotton, alpaca, hemp—and developing the processing required to bring it from field to fabric, fabric to product.

Fashion—as most of us know it—is exploitative and unsustainable, says Anna Canning, communications coordinator of Fair World Project, an organization that advocates for policy solutions like a living wage.

“You have a lot of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Midwife at Auschwitz Delivered 3,000 Babies in Unfathomable Conditions

March 2, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Adolf Hitler visiting troops near Lodz, 1939. (Credit: Heinrich Hoffmann/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Auschwitz is best known as a place of death—a hellish extermination camp, the largest of its kind, where at least 1.1 million people are thought to have been murdered. So it’s strange to think of the camp as a place of life as well.

It was, though—thanks to a woman named Stanislawa Leszczyńska. During her two-year internment at Auschwitz, the Polish midwife delivered 3,000 babies at the camp in unthinkable conditions. Though her story is little known outside of Poland, it is testament to the resistance of a small group of women determined to help their fellow prisoners.

Leszczyńska’s desire to help others is what landed her in Auschwitz in the first place. She was born in Lodz in 1896 and spent her early years in relatively peace—marrying, studying for her midwife’s certificate, having children.

Adolf Hitler visiting troops near Lodz, 1939. (Credit: Heinrich Hoffmann/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

In 1939, everything changed when the Nazis marched into Poland. Suddenly, Leszczyńska lived in an occupied country, and her city—home to the second largest number of Jews in Poland—became home to a ghetto. More than a third of the city’s population was cramped into a tiny area and forced to work for the Nazis.

Horrified by the conditions in the ghetto, Leszczyńska and her family, including her four children, decided to help. They smuggled false documents and food to Jews inside the ghetto as part of a growing Polish resistance.

In 1943, the family’s work was discovered and they were interrogated by the Gestapo. Though Leszczyńska’s husband and oldest son managed to escape, the younger children and their mother were arrested. Leszczyńska was separated from her sons, who were sent to different camps to do forced labor, and sent to Auschwitz with her daughter, a medical student. Her husband kept fighting the Nazis, but was killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944. She never saw him again.


Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz, 1944. (Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

When she arrived at the camp, Leszczyńska found a German doctor and told him she was a midwife. He assigned her to work in the camp’s “maternity ward,” a set of filthy barracks that was less a place to care for pregnant women than a place to usher them into death.

Most pregnant women at Auschwitz were simply sent to the gas chambers. Women who found out they were pregnant …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Kushner's Company Got Hundreds of Millions in Loans After White House Meetings With Top Execs: Report

March 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

“Disappointing. Corrupt. And yet, entirely predictable.”


Jared Kushner's rough week got a little worse on Wednesday, when the New York Times reported that the family real estate company of President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser received millions of dollars in loans from two financial firms after Kushner met with their top executives at the White House.

The new report outlines Kushner's meetings with Joshua Harris, co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, as well as Michael Corbat, chief executive of Citigroup, before each lender gave millions in loans to Kushner Companies, of which Jared Kushner remains a part owner.

Harris reportedly came to the White House multiple times to advise the Trump administration on infrastructure policy and to discuss with Kushner the possibility of a position in the administration. In November, Apollo lent Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance a Chicago skyscraper.

And after Corbat met with Kushner last spring, supposedly to discuss financial and trade policy, Citigroup lent the Kushner Companies and another partner $325 million to finance Brooklyn office buildings, according to the Times report.

Kushner business ties

While representatives for all three businesses denied any wrongdoing, and a spokesman for Jared Kushner's attorney insisted that the senior adviser to the president “has taken no part of any business, loans, or projects with or for” Kushner Companies since starting his position in the Trump administration, the report has raised concerns among ethics experts, including former White House legal counsel and current chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Norm Eisen:

 

 

 

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Robert Mueller Is Just Getting Started

March 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may finally be getting to the biggest issues—and getting closer to the president.


Despite all the guilty pleas among people associated with the Trump campaign and the growing pile of evidence about Russian interference in the 2016 election, members of the press have pushed a narrative that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could only go after President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. After all, that was the heart of the case against former President Richard Nixon back in the day. (He was never shown to have known about the “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate.) And for some, it seems inconceivable that Trump could possibly have colluded with a foreign government — possibly because he's too unorganized and inept to have pulled it off.

As it turns out, Mueller can walk and chew gum at the same time. He's lately been questioning witnesses about just what Trump knew about all this Russian interference and when he knew it. He's been inquiring specifically about whether Trump knew about the hacking of Democratic emails in advance and whether or not he might have had a hand in their “strategic release.” NBC reported:

Mueller's investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

Setting aside the fact that his campaign was crawling with Russian contacts, that he vetted no one and that his campaign manager was millions of dollars in hock to a Russian oligarch, it's not as if Trump's own behavior during the campaign wasn't suspicious.

Obviously, the first thing was his uncharacteristic unwillingness to criticize Vladimir Putin, a privilege he has extended to no one else but members of his own family to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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When Native Americans Were Slaughtered in the Name of ‘Civilization’

March 2, 2018 in History

By Donald L. Fixico

A group of Native Americans look at a sailing ship in the bay below them. (Credit: Corbis/Getty Images)

On a cool May day in 1758, a 10-year girl with red hair and freckles was caring for her neighbor’s children in rural western Pennsylvania. In a few moments, Mary Campbell’s life changed forever when Delaware Indians kidnapped her and absorbed her into their community for the next six years. She became the first of some 200 known cases of white captives, many of whom became pawns in an ongoing power struggle that included European powers, American colonists and indigenous peoples straining to maintain their population, their land and way of life.

While Mary was ultimately returned to her white family—and some evidence points to her having living happily with her adopted Indian tribe—stories such as hers became a cautionary tale among white settlers, stoking fear of “savage” Indians and creating a paranoia that escalated into all-out Indian hating.

A group of Native Americans look at a sailing ship in the bay below them. (Credit: Corbis/Getty Images)

From the time Europeans arrived on American shores, the frontier—the edge territory between white man’s civilization and the untamed natural world—became a shared space of vast, clashing differences that led the U.S. government to authorize over 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people. By the close of the Indian Wars in the late 19th century, fewer than 238,000 indigenous people remained, a sharp decline from the estimated 5 million to 15 million living in North America when Columbus arrived in 1492.

The reasons for this racial genocide were multi-layered. Settlers, most of whom had been barred from inheriting propearty in Europe, arrived on American shores hungry for Indian land—and the abundant natural resources that came with it. Indians’ collusion with the British during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 exacerbated American hostility and suspicion toward them.

Even more fundamentally, indigenous people were just too different: Their skin was dark. Their languages were foreign. And their world views and spiritual beliefs were beyond most white men’s comprehension. To settlers fearful that a loved one might become the next Mary Campbell, all this stoked racial hatred and paranoia, making it easy to paint indigenous peoples as pagan savages who must be killed in the name of civilization and Christianity.

Below, some of the most aggressive acts of genocide taken against indigenous Americans:


The …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Watch Terrified Men Learn to Deal With Women in the Workforce During WWII

March 2, 2018 in History

By Annette McDermott

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers staged a surprise attack on the United States, destroying a large portion of the Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. The very next day, a previously reluctant U.S. Congress declared war, and by the end of January, the first American troops were landing on European shores.

America’s entry into World War II helped turn the tide for the Allies, but the quick mobilization also created a vacuum on the home front. At the same time that the country needed to ramp up industrial production to supply the American military machine, it was also sending hundreds of thousands of men who had previously filled this labor force overseas to fight. At home, the American bigwigs left in charge looked around and realized there was only one solution—they needed women to come to their rescue.

And women did. While men fought on the frontlines, it was the Rosie the Riveters back home who filled the labor gap, making the bombs, airplanes, and other industrial products fueling both the war effort and home life. But this influx of women in traditionally male-dominated workplaces created a new set of challenges…at least, for the men in charge. How were these managers supposed to supervise this puzzling new species on their factory floors? Luckily for them, the U.S. Office of Education Training Film came to the rescue with retrospectively hilarious—and cringeworthy—educational videos like this one from 1944 that offered advice on how to deal with the “problems” women workers presented.

Calling All Women

When women were asked to sign on to factories, they responded in droves. Women were already a part of the work force, of course, but the war effort pulled in those from middle and upper class backgrounds who had previously stayed in the home, as well as those who had lost their jobs during the Great Depression. Over six million women joined the workforce by the end of the war, and by 1945, they made up almost 37 percent of the workforce, up from only 27 percent in 1940.

Their contributions were crucial to the war effort. In just the aircraft industry, women made up 65 percent of all employees. Dorothy McCann, who worked in an aircraft factory in Baltimore, told the Washington Post in 2014, “It was something …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Early Women’s Rights Activists Wanted Much More than Suffrage

March 2, 2018 in History

By Rebecca Edwards

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Credit: GraphicaArtis/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.

This may sound odd coming from a scholar of women’s history and a newly minted legislator, but I think we’ve heard enough about women’s suffrage.

When New York State recently marked the 100th anniversary of its passage of women’s right to vote, I ought to have joined the celebrations enthusiastically. Not only have I spent 20 years teaching women’s history, but last year’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C. was one of the most energizing experiences of my life. Like thousands of others inspired by the experience, I jumped into electoral politics, and with the help of many new friends, I took the oath of office as a Dutchess County, New York legislator at the start of 2018.

So why do women’s suffrage anniversaries make me yawn? Because suffrage—which still dominates our historical narrative of American women’s rights—captures such a small part of what women need to celebrate and work for. And it isn’t just commemorative events. Textbooks and popular histories alike frequently describe a “battle for the ballot” that allegedly began with the famous 1848 convention at Seneca Falls and ended in 1920 with adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For the long era in between, authors have treated “women’s rights” and “suffrage” as nearly synonymous terms. For a historian, women’s suffrage is the equivalent of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”: a song you loved the first few times you first heard it, until you realized it was hopelessly overplayed.

A closer look at Seneca Falls shows how little attention the participants actually focused on suffrage. Only one of their 11 resolutions referred to “the sacred right to the elective franchise.” The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, protested women’s lack of access to higher education, the professions and “nearly all the profitable employments,” observing that most women who worked for wages received “but scanty remuneration.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Credit: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

Emancipation for Women

Most of all, the Declaration protested coverture, the legal doctrine that treated a married woman’s possessions, wages, body and children as property of her husband, available for him to use as he pleased. Coverture gave husbands total control—from finances and place of …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Bigfoot vs. USA-1: The Birth of Monster Truck Madness

March 2, 2018 in History

By A.J. Baime

Bigfoot #1 was a modified 1974 Ford F-250 that began its career at local mud runs and truck and tractor pulls. (Image courtesy of Bob Chandler)

In the late 1970s, Bob Chandler was just another car guy, the owner of Midwest Four Wheel Drive Center in St. Louis, Missouri. “I had a pickup truck that I put product on,” he recalls. “Big tires, big axles. I always wanted it bigger. It was a vicious cycle.” Friends joked that Chandler liked to press hard on the accelerator. They called him Bigfoot, so he painted the name on the side of his truck, a 1974 Ford F-250 he had purchased new. One day a promoter called, offering to pay Chandler if he would bring Bigfoot to a local event.

“I thought, God,” he recalls, “it’d be great to get paid for a change.”

In the summer of 1979, Chandler, then 38 years old, met Everett Jasmer, a former drag racer and fellow truck fan, at a four-wheeling event in Minnesota. They hit it off. Both had four-wheel-drive shops, and both were trying to build the biggest and best truck, so they could promote aftermarket truck parts for their small businesses. One difference: Chandler’s truck was a Ford, while Jasmer, then 36, was a hardcore Chevy guy. His ride was a 1970 Chevy K-10 that he bought used in 1974.

Bigfoot #1 was a modified 1974 Ford F-250 that began its career at local mud runs and truck and tractor pulls. (Image courtesy of Bob Chandler)

Like Chandler, Jasmer had named his truck. He recalls having “a vision” while mowing his lawn. In the 1960s, Chevrolet had created red, white and blue license plates for their pickup trucks as a marketing campaign, with “USA-1” on them. Jasmer had one hanging on the wall in his den. He put the plate on his 1970 truck and from then on, that was its name.

At the time, there was no such thing as a monster truck. All that was about to change. The friendship between Chandler and Jasmer was about to spawn a national phenomenon and a billion-dollar industry. It all started with a phone ringing in Chandler’s shop in 1979.

Take This Job and Shove It

Chandler: I got a call from Greg Blackwell, a movie producer. He saw a picture of my truck in a magazine. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in putting my truck in his movie. It was Take This Job and Shove It [a comedy starring Robert Hays and Barbara Hershey]. I said, sure. When he hung …read more

Source: HISTORY