You are browsing the archive for 2018 March 03.

Avatar of admin

by admin

House Campaign Committee Tries to Push a Progressive Out of 2018 Primary

March 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Establishment Dems are urging a black pastor in Pennsylvania to get out of the race.


The Democratic Party’s Washington-based insiders overseeing their 2018 efforts to win back a U.S. House majority are trying to undermine another progressive candidate—this time it's Greg Edwards, an African-American pastor running in Pennsylvania’s 7th district.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, is pressuring Edwards to get out of the race, according to reports by progressive groups working with Edwards and the Washington Post, which said DCCC officials were asking local Democrats if they thought Edwards could be persuaded to run for a state senate seat instead. Pennsylvania’s congressional districts were just redrawn by the state Supreme Court after Republicans were found to have violated their state constitution, which apparently prompted the DCCC’s intervention, according to the Post.

But the optics for the DCCC are terrible, and seem to confirm a deepening pattern. Only a week ago, the DCCC posted opposition research (usually used to attack opponents) about a Texas progressive congressional candidate, Laura Moser, on its website. That effort backfired, helping Moser to raise nearly $80,000 in days, and now she's coming in second in pre-election polls for Tuesday’s primary, which would position her for a runoff election.

“I wouldn’t have done it,” Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman, told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” series, referring to the DCCC's attack on Moser.

But the DCCC is its own sphere inside the larger party universe. It's a creature of House incumbents, and its biggest task is re-electing officeholders and trying to win 24 more seats needed for a majority. While that purview makes it inherently centrist, the DCCC apparently has little intention of heeding the chairman’s message, even as Perez takes steps to break with the past and partner with grassroots organizations.

The effort …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Glenn Greenwald vs. James Risen: Two Leading Journalists Are in a 'Ferocious' Debate on Russia

March 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Jefferson Morley, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Which leading leftist journalist is more credible on Trump and treason?


In the annals of leftist discourse, last week’s debate between Glenn Greenwald and James Risen over the Trump-Russia investigation was akin to a heavyweight boxing match. While both men work for the leftish Intercept and have Pulitzer Prizes on their walls, their styles are radically different.

Greenwald, it seems, was born in a courtroom and (per Groucho Marx) was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. In argument, he is a relentless attacker and counterpuncher, drawing on an inexhaustible well of hard fact and high dudgeon.

Risen, a former New York Times reporter targeted by the Bush and Obama administrations, seems to have grown up in a newspaper office with the journo-mantra, “Just the facts, ma’am” inscribed in his DNA. He is cautious, even plodding, in his rhetorical pugilism, exuding a reporter’s high ambition to avoid even the smallest of errors.

Greenwald and Risen’s civil conversation, skillfully introduced by Jeremy Scahill, clarifies the two distinct ways that the American left has responded to the avalanche of news reporting on Trump’s dealings with Russia, as well as the recent indictments handed down by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

As Scahill notes, this is a “ferocious debate,” not only in the offices of the Intercept and Twitter, but on the American left in general. While Risen and Greenwald agree on some key issues, their views are, in some respects, fundamentally at odds. History will prove one of them is more right than the other, which is why their debate matters.

In general, Greenwald is skeptical of the narrative of Trump collusion and complicity, while Risen discerns an emerging fact pattern that may point to presidential treason.

Who’s right? Who makes the stronger case? If I were confined to Twitter hell—that overheated sandbox …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

How Racism Can Harm Your Health

March 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Roberta K. Timothy, The Conversation

Health impacts from racism are often dismissed or kept silent.


Witnessing and hearing stories about racism can impact your health. The feelings evoked can make you ill if not processed.

The recent news of Tina Fontaine’s trial and the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, a white farmer accused of killing a young indigenous man, Colten Boushie, of the Red Pheasant First Nation are examples of the Canadian legal system’s commitment to the Indian Act and colonial dominance.

This ongoing colonial dominance has a transgenerational trauma impact on the health of Indigenous and colonized peoples.

Two recent examples that indicate the kind of violence black people experience: A school that allowed police to shackle a black six-year old girl’s wrists and ankles; a children’s aid system that put a child refugee from Somalia into foster care yet never applied for his Canadian citizenship, so years later he received deportation orders to a country where he does not speak the language.

The impact of this colonialism and anti-black racism on the health of black and indigenous peoples is elongated and insidious. We navigate systems, structures and communities that perpetuate abhorrence towards us in all aspects of our lives.

Experiencing and fighting such systems for justice for our children, ourselves and our community members have devastating effects on our health.

As a health and human rights researcher, therapist and professor who has explored the deep implications of racism, I would like to share some insights into the impacts of racism on our health.

My hope is that by doing so I create dialogue and encourage communities to continue to voice their experiences of violence and racism — in order to demand changes and ultimately create more supports.

Violence is a continuum

Health indicator statistics of Indigenous communities report increasing disparities between Indigenous and settler populations. Systemic racism affects Indigenous population’s health in various ways, this includes limited healthy food choices, inadequate living conditions and substandard health care. The infant mortality rate within Indigenous communities is almost 12 times that of settler communities.

The statistics, usually presented by state authorities, come without context or …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Even McKinsey Gets It: High Wages Improve Economic Performance

March 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Marshall Auerback, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Economic stagnation is the outcome of conscious policy choices.


After a year-long analysis of seven developed countries and six sectors,” global management consultancy company McKinsey has “concluded that demand matters for productivity growth and that increasing demand is key to restarting growth across advanced economies.” Which means—surprise, surprise—higher wages for the workforce. The report by James Manyika, Jaana Remes and Jan Mischke was published in the Harvard Business Review. Their analysis marks a shift from the prevailing paradigm of the past several years in which poor productivity growth was viewed as largely a function of supply-side factors such as excessively “rigid” labor markets (hence the call to make it easier to hire and fire workers, and reduce unionization), insufficiently low tax rates (hence the drive to reduce corporate tax rates), a largely unskilled labor force (hence the push for more H1-B visas for Silicon Valley jobs), and too little global competition (hence the need for more, not less free trade).

If deficient demand (and a concomitant commitment to full employment) is not considered relevant as far as productivity goes, the policy framework is very different. Fiscal policy is diminished because there is little point in “wasting” limited financial resources on fiscal stimulus, higher real wages, or a restructuring of the private debt overhang. And economic inequality doesn’t even factor into the equation at all. Rising inequality, growing polarization and the vanishing middle class have all been seen as unfortunate, but inevitable byproducts of globalization, rather than drivers of slow potential growth.

By contrast, the McKinsey analysis leads to a very different policy outcome—one that places demand management and full employment at the heart of macroeconomic policy-making. In fact, there is a historical basis to support the authors’ view that demand does matter when considering the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Israel Plans a New War in Syria—but Not for the Reasons It Claims

March 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Gareth Porter, Truthout

What's the real motive behind the escalation of Israel's presence in Syria?


Israel is beating the drums of war again, this time over Syria. On February 10 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out the most aggressive Israeli use of force in Syria thus far. After having bombed a drone base in retaliation for an alleged incursion by an Iranian drone, Israel retaliated for the shooting down of one of its fighter planes by hitting the main Syrian command-and-control bunker and five Iranian communications facilities.

Israel has been laying the political groundwork for a military escalation in Syria since mid-2017. That's when Israeli officials began to repeat two interlinked political themes: that Iran must be prevented from establishing permanent bases and implanting its proxy forces in the Syrian Golan Heights, and that Iran is secretly building factories in Syria and Lebanon to provide Hezbollah with missiles capable of precise targeting.

But the evidence suggests that the reasons publicly avowed by Israeli officials are not the real motive behind the escalation of Israel's air attacks and ground combat presence in Syria.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer has vowed that Israel would not permit Iran or Hezbollah to establish permanent bases anywhere in Syria, but no convincing evidence of any such permanent base has come to light — only an aerial photo of a site that was admitted to be a Syrian army facility with several vehicle storage sheds. However, the Syrian army is definitely planning such bases in Golan. In January, Syrian army forces backed by Hezbollah troops captured a key military post at Beit Jinn near both the Lebanese and Syrian borders in the Northern Golan.

A portion of Golan is currently occupied by Israel, which took it from Syria in 1967. It was annexed by Israel in 1981 and populated with Israeli settlers roughly equal in numbers to its original Syrian population. Israel has expressed the fear that Syria's recent moves could threaten Israel's occupation in Golan. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot declared in January that Israel “can't ignore the fact that Hezbollah, the Shiite militias and Iran perceive themselves on the winning side in Syria, together with Bashar Assad, and share his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Why Putin Is Obsessed with America's Missile Defense

March 3, 2018 in Economics

By Eric Gomez

Eric Gomez

In a speech before Russia’s Federal Assembly, Vladimir
Putin unveiled several new nuclear-weapons systems. The speech
comes less than a month after the release of the Trump
administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which named Russia as a
primary strategic competitor of the United States and called for
new low-yield nuclear weapons to counteract
Russia’s alleged (and highly disputed) “escalate to
deescalate” strategy.

The timing of the NPR and Putin’s speech gives the
impression that the new Russian capabilities are a reaction to
American nuclear policy. Instead, Putin stated that the new nuclear
weapons were meant to counter U.S. missile defenses, which have
steadily expanded since the George W. Bush administration withdrew the United States from the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002.

The United States has long said that its missile defenses are
not meant to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent, and the
limited size and poor accuracy of current missile-defense systems
should reassure Russia. But it is readily apparent that
Russia—and China—is not mollified by such
assurances.

If American policymakers
want to avoid a new arms race with the Russians, then it would be
wise of them to not dismiss Russian concerns as merely propaganda
as they make missile-defense policy.

As policymakers in Washington contemplate further expansion of
missile defense to counter the pressing threat posed by North
Korea, it is important for them to appreciate that missile-defense
policy doesn’t just impact its intended target.

Many of the nuclear capabilities Putin discussed in his Federal
Assembly speech feature technical characteristics that help them
penetrate or circumvent U.S. missile defense systems.

The unnamed nuclear-powered cruise missile was perhaps the most
eye-popping new capability. Putin described it
as
, “A low-flying low-visibility cruise missile armed
with a nuclear warhead and possessing practically unlimited range,
unpredictable flight path … [that] is invulnerable to all
existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons.” A
nuclear propulsion system aids in missile defense penetration by
increasing the missile’s range and ability to maneuver.
Increased range allows the missile to take flight paths that are
not covered by missile defense radar, and maneuverability reduces
the likelihood of a successful intercept.

Another new capability that makes use of maneuverability to
evade missile defenses is a hypersonic glide vehicle known as
the “Avangard.” The Avangard is
carried atop a ballistic missile. After the missile reaches outer
space the HGV is released and falls back to earth, but not on a
ballistic flight path. Instead, it “glides” towards its
target and is capable of changing direction in flight, which helps it avoid
missile-defense radar coverage …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Italy’s Electoral Graveyard

March 3, 2018 in Economics

By Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi

Last year, when Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential
elections over Marine Le Pen, markets and international observers
experienced universal relief.

The election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote shook political
establishments and shocked pollsters. But Trump and Brexit could be
regarded as minor nuisances compared with a truly nationalist
candidate, Le Pen, gaining power to sabotage the eurozone. You may
have your reservations about the European Union, but France’s
quitting it would have triggered events that could have made the
2007-08 financial crisis look mild.

The problem with the Italian elections this Sunday is that there
is no Macron around.

A disparate group of
populist parties could win the election – and then struggle in
office.

Italy is a country of 60 million people, and the third largest
economy in the eurozone. After World War II it quickly became an
industrial powerhouse, astonishing observers all over the world.
But back then the fiscal pressure through taxation was 11 percent
of GDP, and public spending 15 percent of GDP. Since then,
government spending has grown inordinately, producing an enormous
public debt: 132 percent of GDP (compared with 96.5 percent in
France, 99 percent in Spain, and 68 percent in Germany), which
costs Italian taxpayers 65 billion euros a year in debt
service.

The country’s economic performance has been meager for
years now. Twenty-five years ago Italy’s GDP per capita was
92 percent of Germany’s, 137 percent of Spain’s, 95
percent of France’s; now it is 75, 81, and 107 percent,
respectively. In 2017, Italian GDP grew 1.5 percent and industrial
production was up by just 4.9 percent.

Dismal growth has fed insecurity. As many as 5 million Italians
have a living standard below the poverty line. Demographics suggest
that Italians may need immigrants, as Italy’s fertility rate,
one of the lowest in the European Union, has declined every year
since 2010 and in 2016 was 1.34 children per woman. But with little
economic growth, hostility toward immigration has grown stronger
and stronger, fed by the perception that the pie is not big enough
for all.

All of this may explain Italians’ resentment and rage
toward their ruling classes. But Italians are also great savers,
with a homeownership rate over 70 percent, and public debt held 60
percent domestically. This would suggest a need to temper their
rage with some prudence.

Most likely, though, on Sunday they will not. Prudence is not
really on the menu of the political parties vying for election. It
is highly probable that so-called populist parties will win,
together, over 50 percent of the votes.

While the label “populism” is sometimes loosely
applied, we may use it to define …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

1960s Unrest Was The Impetus For The First Gun Age Limits

March 3, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Second Amendment Sports, a gun shop in Tucson, Arizona, 2016. (Credit: Didier Ruef/Cosmos/Redux)

The U.S. Constitution only provides age requirements for two things: holding political office and voting. It says you can be a House representative at 25, a senator at 30, and a president or vice president at 35. The 14th and 26th Amendments both dealt with the voting age, with the latter setting it at 18. But other than that, there are no guidelines about how old you need to be to do anything else, like smoke, drink, marry, drive—or buy a gun.

The debate over guns in particular has become more fervent since 17 people died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. The revelation that the 19-year-old gunman used an AR-15 he bought legally in Florida has reinvigorated a decades-old debate over whether assault weapons should be banned.

It’s also highlighted a seemingly nonsensical aspect of federal gun law. Licensed arms dealers can’t sell handguns to anyone under 21, yet they can sell AR-15s, which are classified as rifles or long guns, to anyone 18 and older. In other words, the Stoneman Douglas shooter was too young to buy a handgun at a store, yet old enough to buy something more deadly.

Second Amendment Sports, a gun shop in Tucson, Arizona, 2016. (Credit: Didier Ruef/Cosmos/Redux)

These inconsistencies can be traced back to 1968, the first year the federal government set age limits for gun purchases. Before then, regulation for non-machine guns was mostly left to states. It’s not clear whether states had formal age restrictions for guns, but gun access in some states may have followed the “age of majority,” i.e. the age at which you were considered a legal adult. The age of majority is often tied to the age when you start voting, and for most of U.S. history, it was 21, says Akram Faizer, a law professor at Lincoln Memorial University.

But then the 1960s brought the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as a feeling among some Americans that increased law and order was needed to quell unrest, especially among young people. In response to these factors, the Gun Control Act of 1968 established the first federal age limits for buying guns from licensed dealers: 18 for long guns and 21 for handguns. The distinction was due to the fact …read more

Source: HISTORY