You are browsing the archive for 2018 March 12.

Avatar of admin

by admin

How Ireland Turned ‘Fallen Women’ Into Slaves

March 12, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

The interior of the now derelict Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott St in Dublin's north inner city on the day of The Irish Government has apologised to the thousands of women locked up in Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries between 1922 and 1996.   (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Images via Getty Images)

When the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity decided to sell some land they owned in Dublin, Ireland, to pay their debts in 1992, the nuns followed the proper procedures. They petitioned officials for permission to move the bodies of women buried in the cemetery at their Donnybrook laundry, which between 1837 and 1992 served as a workhouse and home for “fallen women.” 

But the cemetery at Donnybrook was no ordinary resting place: It was a mass grave. Inside were the bodies of scores of unknown women: the undocumented, uncared-about inmates of one of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene laundries. Their lives—and later their deaths—had been shrouded in secrecy.

For more than two centuries, women in Ireland were sent to institutions like Donnybrook as a punishment for having sex outside of marriage. Unwed mothers, flirtatious women and others deemed unfit for society were forced to labor under the strict supervision of nuns for months or years, sometimes even for life.

When the mass grave at Donnybrook was discovered, the 155 unmarked tombs touched off a scandal that exposed the extent and horrors of the Magdalene laundries. As women came forward to share their experiences of being held against their will in restrictive workhouses, the Irish public reacted with outrage. 

The interior of the now derelict Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott St in Dublin’s north inner city on the day of The Irish Government has apologised to the thousands of women locked up in Catholic-run workhouses known as Magdalene laundries between 1922 and 1996. (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Images via Getty Images)

When the Magdalene Movement first took hold in the mid-18th century, the campaign to put “fallen women” to work was supported by both the Catholic and Protestant churches, with women serving short terms inside the asylums with the goal of rehabilitation. Over the years, however, the Magdalene laundries—named for the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene—became primarily Catholic institutions, and the stints grew longer and longer. Women sent there were often charged with “redeeming themselves” through lace-making, needlework or doing laundry.

Though most residents had not been convicted of any crime, conditions inside were prison-like. “Redemption might sometimes involve a variety of coercive measures, including shaven heads, institutional uniforms, bread and water diets, restricted visiting, supervised correspondence, solitary confinement and even flogging,” writes historian Helen …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Just a Few Weeks in Prison Can Impair a Person’s Mind

March 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

A new study says incarcerated people show affected cognitive abilities and self-control after just three weeks.

Going to prison is bad for your health. Prison reformers have known for years that incarceration can lead to depression and suicide. A number of physical problems are related to overcrowding and inadequate health care, not to mention the enduring financial consequences and trauma of social ostracization following a prisoner's release.

Now there’s further proof that in many cases, our so-called correctional facilities actually make lives worse in a much shorter timeframe. A new study shows that prison can impair an inmate's cognitive abilities and self-control even after a few weeks.

Neurologists studied a group of male prisoners in Amsterdam and found that their sedentary, isolated lifestyles created significant negative consequences. After three months in prison, the inmates showed “significant deterioration” in both self-control and attention spans.

“When these people are placed into an impoverished environment, their cognitive abilities tend to decline faster than when they stay at home, having more responsibilities, being more active and having more meaningful social interaction,” Jesse Meijers, the author of the study, told PsyPost.

The findings are especially significant considering people who are imprisoned are already more likely than the average person to suffer from psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Some prisons house more individuals with psychological problems than many mental hospitals, and in some regions, jails have effectively replaced the psychiatric asylums of the last century.

Before they are arrested, incarcerated people are “less able than the average individual to be self-supporting, have a legitimate life with housing and income, and maintain relationships,” Meijers said. “Then, we punish these offenders by removing them from society and placing them in an impoverished environment, expecting that they will have learned their lesson afterwards.”

As this study shows, many inmates only suffer further.

“If we want to reduce the chances of re-offending, we should think about how we can improve self-control,” Meijers said.

Related Stories

Avatar of admin

by admin

Five Famous Antique Forgeries

March 12, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

The fake Bingham Family Civil War Memorial Secretary at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. (John Banks Civil War Blog

Until recently, an elaborate secretary (i.e., a desk with drawers) built to honor a Union soldier, John Bingham, stood on display in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. A detail on the secretary’s front specified where Bingham had died—Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862—and a note from one of his descendants inside described how important it had been to the family.

But the museum had to remove it from display after it realized the desk was a fake, and an elaborate one at that (it includes a music box that plays “Yankee Doodle”). A woodworker named Harold Gordon has since taken responsibility for designing the piece of furniture and falsely linking it to Bingham, who was a real soldier during the Civil War.

(Credit: John Banks Civil War Blog

Antique forgery is a common problem. But what makes Gordon’s case unusual is that he put so much time into crafting an authentic-seeming piece, says Linda Eaton, the director of collections and senior curator of textiles at the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington. “Most often,” she says, “you don’t find fakes for things that take a lot of time to make.”

Babe Ruth’s Baseball Glove

The baseball mitt that Irving Scheib claimed was Babe Ruth’s. (Credit: The Manhattan U.S. Attorneys Office)

You should think twice before you buy a signed baseball, because there are an extraordinary number of forgeries in the sports memorabilia world. In 2012, a man named Irving Scheib received two years of probation for claiming a baseball mitt he’d bought on eBay belonged to baseball legend Babe Ruth.

The glove actually was a real antique dating to the 1890s, the decade when Ruth was born. But the celebrity connection was completely Scheib’s invention.

“He created false documentation for this that linked it to Babe Ruth,” Eaton says. His first sale fell through when the buyer asked for the documents to be notarized and Scheib refused. After that, “the next person on the phone as a possible buyer was from the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

Thomas Jefferson’s Wine

A bottle of wine claimed to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

First Silicon Valley Sold You Social Media—Now It’s Trying to Sell You the Antidote

March 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Julianne Tveten, In These Times

Selling solutions to problems created by the tech industry presents a big business opportunity.

In recent months, a spate of current and former tech executives have taken to the media to evangelize variations of the same message: Social media is harming humanity. Sean Parker, who served as Facebook’s first president, warned that social media “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology,” addicting children while interfering with productivity. Chamath Palihapitiya, once Facebook’s vice president “for user growth,” opined that social media is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” After co-engineering the Facebook “Like” button and Google’s Gchat messaging system, Justin Rosenstein bemoaned the effects of his contributions.

The onslaught of techie contrition, however, isn’t a prelude to meaningful change—it’s a business opportunity.

What makes these grievances appealing is that they’re ostensibly antidotal. Over the course of roughly a decade, Facebook and other Silicon Valley social media platforms have mutated into ubiquitous forces. Approximately 70 percent of Americans use social media—a statistic that is concerning in light of admonitory reports about social media’s impact on mental health, particularly among younger users. That figures who helped develop those platforms now appear more scrupulous shows that Silicon Valley is now profiting from efforts to rectify its own ills.

Capitalizing on this notion is the Center for Humane Technology (CHT), a cohort of tech-industry veterans who purportedly seek to render technology less, as they call it, “addictive.” CHT’s plan, though scarce in detail, is multi-pronged: lobbying Congress to pressure hardware companies like Apple and Samsung to change their design standards, raising consumer awareness of harmful technologies and “empowering [tech] employees” to advocate for design decisions that command less user attention. The organization is helmed by former Google “design ethicist” Tristan Harris—who the Atlantic deems the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience”—with Rosenstein and a horde of Silicon Valley heavyweights on its advisory board.

The crisis CHT attempts to solve is structural. Social-media firms are agents of the much broader system of surveillance capitalism, wherein user data is harvested and sold to advertisers. Yet, as Maya Indira Ganesh has observed, CHT frames the issue as a matter of individual …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

The Media Need to Think Twice About How They Portray Mass Shooters

March 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Russell Frank, The Conversation

Avoid specifying the killer’s choice of weapons or quoting his writings or utterances.

The lead story on the New York Times homepage provided the overview of the latest massacre at an American school: “17 Killed at Florida School; Toll May Climb.”

A “sidebar,” or secondary story, also on the homepage, bore this headline: “Here’s What We Know About the Suspect.”

In a similar vein, the Washington Post ran a story with the headline, “Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz: Guns, depression and a life in trouble.”

The stories tell of a troubled kid who liked weapons, threatened classmates and was cruel to animals. They also feature photos of the suspect: an extreme closeup in the Washington Post, and in The New York Times a screenshot from his Instagram account that shows him brandishing a gun.

There’s no question that we are deeply curious about those who commit crimes. Our literary tradition, from the myths and tales of the ancient world, to Shakespeare, to Dostoevsky, to the latest police procedural on Netflix, indicates that we have always been fascinated by “the criminal mind,” which is, after all, not so different from our own minds. But, as a former reporter and editor who studies the media and who teaches journalism ethics, I ask the question: Can stoking this fascination cause harm?

Obsession with deviance

Who among us, after all, has not at least fantasized about inflicting bodily harm on an enemy or taking what did not belong to us? At least two considerations constrain us: law and custom. The threat of punishment and the moral injunctions against crimes against persons and property are such compelling reasons to stick to the straight and narrow that we marvel at those who stray.

So the journalistic impulse to learn what we can about a mass murderer by interviewing acquaintances and combing through his social media accounts is understandable. The question that arises with every mass shooting is whether these instant illustrated profiles of the killers do more harm than good.

Might all that attention inspire a similarly deranged person to commit a “copycat” crime? Might the photos in particular, especially …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

What It Really Means to Be 'Woke': Radical Activism Is Spiritual as Well as Political

March 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Terry Patten, AlterNet

It's about balancing the inner work of personal growth and the outer work of political activism.

The word radical means “root.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines radical as “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.” In the U.S. today, our corporate media and our hyper-capitalist public agenda have created the popular misconception that radicalism is simply another word for dangerous extremism. But what a true radical does is “cut to the root” of both political and personal reality and seeks to address the source of problems instead of their symptoms. As we barrel toward environmental and social collapse, we are in a moment that demands radicalism and offers an unprecedented opportunity for root-level solutions and fundamental change to take hold.

Harking back to the ’60s, hundreds of thousands of Westerners have “gotten radical” in one of two ways:

  1. We have gotten “woke” to what is actually happening and ceased to be diverted by what the powerful say is happening. We rejected obfuscation and denial. We “followed the money”—literally. We dared to speak the truth. We recognized bullying and corruption and refused our consent. We were “radicalized” by our recognition of systemic injustice and oppression. We saw through the false narrative we were sold about why the world is as it is. We got political.

  1. We “awakened from the dream” of our thoughts and problems into an experience of open, joyous, awake intelligence. We discovered a deeper wholeness and interconnectivity that revealed our experience of separation, contraction and conflict to be illusory. We underwent a personal radicalization when we awakened from the stories we told ourselves about who we were, how we should related to each other, and what kind of life we should strive for. We saw through the false narrative we bought into about our identity and the place we occupied in the greater scheme of things. We got spiritual.

We are now in a moment when it is time for these two ways of being radical to integrate. For those who have awakened, it is time to “get woke.” For those who …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Everything Is Bigger in Texas — Except the Illegal Immigrant Crime Rate

March 12, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Since day one of his campaign for president, Donald Trump has
linked illegal immigration with crime. Vice President Pence
recently did it as well during a visit to the
Texas-Mexico border to tout how “this administration has been
taking decisive steps to enforce our laws; secure our borders;
taking dangerous drug dealers off our — violent criminals off
our street.”

But there is no link between illegal immigration and crime
— even in a border state like Texas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety preserved the results from
immigration checks when people are arrested and convicted of
crimes, unlike other states. This allowed me to check immigration
statuses against criminal convictions and compare them to the share
of illegal immigrants in Texas’ population. The results are in a
new brief I wrote for the Cato Institute,
showing that illegal or legal immigrants are less likely to be
convicted of crimes than native-born Americans.

Let’s examine the raw numbers: In 2015, natives were convicted
of 409,063 crimes, illegal immigrants were convicted of 13,753
crimes, and legal immigrants were convicted of 7,643 crimes in

Natives were convicted of a disproportionate 95 percent of all
crimes, although they only made up 83 percent of Texas’ population.
Illegal immigrants, making up just six percent of the population,
were convicted of only three percent of the crimes. And legal
immigrants were even less crime prone, making up 11 percent of the
population but receiving only two percent of criminal

Even in a Republican-governed border state like Texas with law
enforcement officials very concerned about illegal immigration
— and with a reputation for enforcing criminal laws to the
hilt — illegal immigrants appear less crime-prone than

This holds true even for particularly violent crimes. Many
Americans are concerned about murders committed by illegal
immigrants, notably the killing of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in
2015. Steinle’s killing was a tragedy but, as the Texas crime data
shows, it is a remarkably rare one, at least in the Lone Star
state. There were 951 total homicide convictions in Texas in 2015.
Of those, native-born Americans were convicted of 885 homicides,
whereas illegal and legal immigrants face 51 and 15 such
convictions, respectively.

In other words, there were 2.9 murder convictions of illegal
immigrants in Texas for every 100,000 of them living there that
year. That’s compared to 3.9 convictions of native-born Americans
for every 100,000 natives. Once again, legal immigrants were the
most peaceful as there were only 0.51 homicide convictions for
every 100,000 legal immigrants.

Thus, homicide conviction rates for illegal and legal immigrants
were 25 percent and 87 percent below those of natives,
respectively. Per capita, there …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

7 Frontier Survival Hacks Worthy of Daniel Boone

March 12, 2018 in History

By A.J. Baime

A family of settlers building their own homestead following a move westwards to the American Frontier, circa 1830s. (Credit: Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Steven Rinella stands at a curious intersection in American culture. He’s an adventurer, a conservationist, a hunter, a TV host, a best-selling author with an MFA in writing, and a student of the history of frontier explorers like Daniel Boone. Not many figures can tell such eloquent stories about “eating questionable meat” in the wild and getting charged by grizzly bears—stories that are peppered with practical advice on how to handle yourself in the backcountry, based on the adventures of hunters from hundreds of years ago.

The 43-year old author of The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game volumes I and II and host of the television show “MeatEater” (you can see it on Netflix) has hunted game across Montana, Michigan and Alaska, among other places. His campfires have seared the meat of everything from bear and mountain lion to red stag and waterfowl.

We asked Rinella to distill his adventures and his reading on Daniel Boone into seven fundamental guidelines. Read up, then set out.

A family of settlers building their own homestead following a move westwards to the American Frontier, circa 1830s. (Credit: Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Wild Game Can Be Dangerous

What does trichinosis feel like? “Intense muscle pain,” Rinella says. “It can take a month to hit, and that’s why it is hard to figure out what is going on. The worms burrow out of your vascular system and into your muscles.” Rinella contracted trichinosis by eating undercooked bear meat in Alaska. That is a mistake he will never make twice.

Just about any omnivore or carnivore can carry trichinosis, and the way to kill the parasite is to make sure meat is cooked to 160 degrees. If you’re in the wilderness, you’re not likely to have a meat thermometer. Rinella cautions to cook meat so it’s entirely brown—not a hint of pink.

In the days of frontier people, he says, trichinosis must have run rampant. “Daniel Boone, in his hunting camp in one fall [circa the turn of the 19th century], once killed 155 black bears and prepared it to sell to markets. That was a lot of meat potentially contaminated, and people did not have the knowledge of what might have been in that meat,” he says. “I suspect people at the time had very high parasite loads.”

While trichinosis is pretty much gone from USDA-inspected grocery meat, it can …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Stormy Daniels Appears to Have the Goods on Trump

March 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Jen Hayden, DailyKos

The adult film star's attorney intimates she has texts, photos and possibly video of the president.

Adult film actress and director and likely former mistress of Donald Trump says she wants to return the $130,000 in hush money to Donald Trump and/or his attorney Michael Cohen. She wants the right to tell her story and says America deserves the truth. That offer is going to put Trump and Cohen in a bind. If they refuse the money, they acknowledge they want to keep her silent. According to Daniels’ attorney, her story includes “text messages, photos and/or videos.” From the New York Times:

Mr. Avenatti set a deadline of noon Tuesday for Mr. Cohen to answer the offer from Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to answer his offer.

Under the terms of the deal detailed in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, the contract ensuring Ms. Clifford’s silence would be “deemed null and void’’ once she returned the sum called for in her original contract.

Under Mr. Avenatti’s offer, Ms. Clifford would then be allowed to “(a) speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the President and the attempts to silence her and (b) use any publish any text messages, photos and/or videos relating to the President that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution and legal liability for damages.”

Donald Trump has attacked every person who’s ever even whispered a negative word about him—everyone except Stormy Daniels? Is it because she’s got evidence of his bad behavior? Mr. Big Mouth sure is silent about Stormy Daniels and her nonstop headlines. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) are demanding an investigation into the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen. Rep. Lieu explained on CNN this morning. Watch:


Avatar of admin

by admin

It’s Time to Talk to North Korea

March 12, 2018 in Economics

By Eric Gomez

Eric Gomez

Only days after a South Korean delegation returned from North
with a potential diplomatic opening to address the
peninsula’s slow-motion nuclear crisis,
President Donald Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un
before the end of May 2018. The upcoming summit between Trump and
Kim will be the first time that a sitting U.S. president has met
with the ruler of North Korea, and marks a major opportunity for a
reduction of tensions between the two countries that ran
dangerously high last year.

This is an important moment for the United States. The key
weakness of the administration’s approach was its lack of diplomatic engagement with North Korea
that would offer a peaceful path toward denuclearization.

Now that South Korea’s diplomatic outreach has created an
opening for U.S.-North Korea negotiations, the Trump administration would be foolish not to give
talks a chance
. However, it would also be prudent for the
United States to enter negotiations with some suspicion about North
Korean intentions and goals.

The key question hanging over North Korea’s offer to talk
is what Kim Jong-un will ask from the United States in return for
progress on denuclearization. The strategic rationale behind North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program is the insurance they offer
against regime change. Therefore, Kim will not give up his nuclear
weapons unless he is confident that his regime — and he
— will survive without them. Reassuring Kim will likely
require the United States to soften its military and economic
pressure against North Korea, which the latter refers to as the “hostile

In other words, the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea
will not be a freebie for the United States. While it is too early
to tell what specific demands Kim will make in the upcoming summit,
likely “asks” include lifting bilateral and
multilateral sanctions, withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea,
and the end of the U.S.-South Korea military alliance.

The peaceful
denuclearization of North Korea will not be a freebie for the
United States.

Trading away the U.S.-South Korea military alliance in exchange
for a denuclearized North Korea would be a bitter pill for
Washington to swallow, but such a trade-off would likely be
necessary to reassure Kim that his regime will survive without
nuclear weapons. This trade-off would diminish U.S. influence in
the region to a degree, but the risks of armed conflict between
North and South Korea would not increase as a result. Seoul’s
strong economy and steadily improving conventional military
mean that it would not be defenseless should the alliance
cease. North Korea would …read more

Source: OP-EDS