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How a Town Took on a Racist Billionaire Politician and Won

March 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

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Proto-Trump Carl Paladino is the centerpiece of Field of Vision's new documentary “Adversary.”


It’s an age-old question: how do you fight a bully? Or perhaps yet more timely, how do you topple a bullying racist billionaire politician?

The new Field of Vision documentary Adversary zooms in on a town doing its best to answer this question. Buffalo is home to Carl Paladino, who amassed his enormous fortune by putting up buildings all over town and across western New York state. Formerly a Democrat who gave generously to the party, by the mid-aughts, Paladino became a Republican and an active voice in the Tea Party movement. The real estate developer self-funded a run for New York governor in 2010, with longtime Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone serving as adviser and with anti-Obamaism as his primary platform. The New York Times wrote an almost poignant paean to Paladino’s “combative style,” highlighting his “outsize, impulsive and even outrageous behavior.”

“Buffalo media trip over themselves to get access to Paladino,” wrote Western New York political site WNYmedia at the time, apparently underestimating the scope of Paladino's free ad potential, ”because practically everything he says has the potential of being hugely controversial.” 

In the midst of his gubernatorial bid, that same outlet leaked emails from Paladino that included pornography, bestiality, racist Obama jokes, and at least once, the N word. Despite, or perhaps because of those revelations, the candidate defeated all GOP takers in the primary and rose to the top of the Republican ticket.

If this story sounds uncannily like that of another septuagenarian plumbing the political depths, that’s because Paladino and Trump are two of a kind. (The former would go on to co-chair the latter's campaign in New York.) But in the general election, Paladino lost to the widely unliked establishment Democrat.

Three years after that loss, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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6 Questions for A.G. Sulzberger, the New Publisher of the New York Times

March 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Andrew Bacevich, TomDispatch

Will the Times continue to go to bat for ill-fated wars?


Dear Mr. Sulzberger:

Congratulations on assuming the reins of this nation’s — and arguably, the world’s — most influential publication. It’s the family business, of course, so your appointment to succeed your father doesn’t exactly qualify as a surprise. Even so, the responsibility for guiding the fortunes of a great institution must weigh heavily on you, especially when the media landscape is changing so rapidly and radically.

Undoubtedly, you’re already getting plenty of advice on how to run the paper, probably more than you want or need. Still, with your indulgence, I’d like to offer an outsider’s perspective on “the news that’s fit to print.” The famous motto of the Times insists that the paper is committed to publishing “all” such news — an admirable aspiration even if an impossibility. In practice, what readers like me get on a daily basis is “all the news that Times editors deem worthy of print.”

Of course, within that somewhat more restrictive universe of news, not all stories are equal. Some appear on the front page above the fold. Others are consigned to page A17 on Saturday morning.

And some topics receive more attention than others. In recent years, comprehensive coverage of issues touching on diversity, sexuality, and the status of women has become a Times hallmark. When it comes to Donald Trump, “comprehensive” can’t do justice to the attention he receives. At the Times (and more than a few other media outlets), he has induced a form of mania, with his daily effusion of taunts, insults, preposterous assertions, bogus claims, and decisions made, then immediately renounced, all reported in masochistic detail. Throw in salacious revelations from Trump’s colorful past and leaks from the ongoing Mueller investigation of his campaign and our 45th president has become for the Times something akin to a Great White Whale, albeit with a comb-over and a preference for baggy suits.

In the meantime, other issues of equal or even greater importance — I would put climate change in this category — receive no more than sporadic or …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Mandatory Drug Tests at Work Are Fundamentally Racist

March 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

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Black people are more likely than white people to be fired for failing a drug test.


Mandatory drug testing is not only an annoying, expensive waste of company and employee time; a new Detox.net survey shows that their impact and implementation can also be racist.

Stark racial disparities are apparent in the 1,500-plus person survey. African Americans are much more likely to face repercussions for failing a drug test than white people; the study shows that 9.2 percent of blacks reported being reprimanded or even fired for failing a drug test. That’s more than double the number of whites who reported the same, just 4.4 percent.

According to the survey, 97.6 percent of military service members were tested for drugs at some point in their careers. The other most frequently drug-tested workers were those in manufacturing and transportation jobs and warehousing, at 94.4 percent and 94.3 percent, respectively. People working in health care, utilities and telecommunications were also drug-tested more than 90 percent of the time.

The list of industries that most frequently drug-test their employees looks like a list of industries built of the labor of people of color—a suspicion confirmed by a cross-reference against Bureau of Labor Statistics’ labor force data from 2017. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.3 percent of the U.S. population is black and 12.5 percent is Hispanic. Black and Hispanic Americans make up nearly 30 percent of the military, 39 percent of transportation and warehouse workers and 30 percent of health care workers, three of the most frequently drug-tested sectors.

The survey did not say why industries with disproportionately high numbers of workers of color choose to drug-test their employees.

It is not news that drug testing is a potentially racist practice. The above pattern fits …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Scenario as Crazy as Trump: President Fires Mueller and Orchestrates Own Impeachment to Grab More Power

March 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Democrats could be baited while House Republicans would control the impeachment process.


Could this be the future? Imagine this: President Trump and House Republicans strategically push to impeach Trump and clear him of everything Russia-related and otherwise before November’s elections, in order to increase their control over the national political narrative, bait and upstage Democrats, and drive their base to vote in record numbers.

There are hints this gambit could be in the works. One hint is the Republican-run House Intelligence Committee probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia predictably found nothing—a conclusion special counsel Robert Mueller seems likely to reject. Another hint is Trump reshuffling his Russia-related legal team to replace lawyers, like John Dowd, who showed some respect for Mueller’s inquest, with more combative partisans (and Fox News regulars) such as Jay Sekulow and former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova.

Yet another hint comes in the apparently contradictory statements from the likes of Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-TX, who on one hand says Mueller should be fired, and on the other hand, says if Trump did so, it might trigger his impeachment.

“Mueller should be fired. He should never have been appointed and he should never have accepted,” Gohmert said Wednesday, The Hill reported. Gohmert “clarified that he thinks the president should not actually fire Mueller, because Republicans in Congress might impeach him if he did so.”

This twisted utterance could be just another blast from a muddled-thinking Republican. But there are a series of steps Trump and Paul Ryan could take, however risky they first appear, that could easily end up fortifying Trump’s lock on power—because every step of the way the political odds are in his favor. Ponder these steps.

1. Trump fires Mueller. Before firing Mueller, he’d have to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation. Firing both men would not just set in motion calls for his impeachment, but would preempt further legal actions by Mueller against Trump’s campaign team, including his family. It increases the odds that the report Mueller files with the Justice Department remains secret, as most of what is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Eisenhower’s 1955 Mass Deportation Uprooted Over a Million Mexican Immigrants

March 23, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Mexican farm laborers going to California to work on garden crops.  (Photo by William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

July is scorching in Mexicali. The Mexican city just across the border from Calexico, California, averages 108 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, but temperatures often swell into the 120s.

In 1955, thousands of disoriented people roamed the city’s streets as the sun bore down on them. They had just been dumped there by American immigration officials—snatched from their lives and jobs in the United States and thrown into a city where they didn’t know anyone.

These Mexican immigrants had been caught in the snare of Operation Wetback, the biggest mass deportation of undocumented workers in United States history. As many as 1.3 million people may have been swept up in the Eisenhower-era campaign with a racist name, which was designed to root out undocumented Mexicans from American society.

The short-lived operation used military-style tactics to remove Mexican immigrants—some of them American citizens—from the United States. Though millions of Mexicans had legally entered the country through joint immigration programs in the first half of the 20th century, Operation Wetback was designed to send them back to Mexico.

With the help of the Mexican government, which sought the return of Mexican nationals to alleviate a labor shortage, Border Patrol agents and local officials used military techniques and engaged in a coordinated, tactical operation to remove the immigrants. Along the way, they used widespread racial stereotypes to justify their sometimes brutal treatment of immigrants. Inside the United States, anti-Mexican sentiment was pervasive, and harsh portrayals of Mexican immigrants as dirty, disease-bearing and irresponsible were the norm.

Mexican farm laborers going to California to work on garden crops. (Photo by William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

During Operation Wetback, tens of thousands of immigrants were shoved into buses, boats and planes and sent to often-unfamiliar parts of Mexico, where they struggled to rebuild their lives. In Chicago, three planes a week were filled with immigrants and flown to Mexico. In Texas, 25 percent of all of the immigrants deported were crammed onto boats later compared to slave ships, while others died of sunstroke, disease and other causes while in custody.

It’s not clear how many American citizens were swept up in Operation Wetback, but the United States later claimed that 1.3 million people total were deported. However, some historians dispute that claim. Though hundreds of thousands of people were ensnared, says historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez, the number of deportees …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Wartime Propaganda Helped Recruit the ‘Hidden Army’ of Women to Defeat Hitler

March 23, 2018 in History

By Allison McNearney

History Flashback takes a look at historical “found footage” of all kinds—newsreels, instructional films, even cartoons—to give us a glimpse into how much things have changed, and how much has remained the same.

During World War II, it was a common sight in the U.S. to see brightly colored posters warning that “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships,” imploring men to “Defend Your Country,” and encouraging women to join the effort at home as “We Can’t Win Without Them.” These paper relics continue to intrigue us today, but what many overlook is that they are vestiges of the U.S. propaganda machine.

It took just over two years—and a deadly push from the Japanese—for the U.S. to join World War II. But once Roosevelt had committed the country to fighting on the side of the Allies, he needed to make sure every citizen was on board. He needed an information campaign.

The result was a thriving government department dedicated to propaganda. Along with radio and the visual arts, films produced in collaboration with Hollywood were created to emphasize the successes—and only the successes—of the Allied soldiers fighting abroad. They also targeted American women who the country desperately needed to join the workforce.

Videos like this one from 1944—the 25th film produced by the U.S. War Department— encouraged women to give up their frivolous pursuits, like shopping, and engage in making warplanes and ammunition instead. The films featured overly dramatic plots, like a captured Adolf Hitler expressing his regrets, and a poor old maid getting saved from loneliness by a newfound dedication to the cause (and their new “family of ten million to look after”). What American gal could resist the call of Uncle Sam?

Propaganda Hour with Uncle Sam

On June 13, 1942, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9182, which established the Office of War Information (OWI)—the government division responsible for all wartime propaganda. Elmer Davis, a former journalist and CBS radio host, ran the OWI, which oversaw all of the radio, film, news reporting, and visual art created to buoy the war effort—or at least the public perception of the war effort—both abroad and at home.

“The propaganda was run by an old newspaperman,” Paul Fussell, a WWII veteran and author of the memoir Doing Battle said. “He ran the propaganda thing just the way Goebbels did in Germany. And nothing was ever said that reflected ill of the war effort or the troops …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Armed Protection in Schools Is an Obvious First Step to Preventing School Shootings

March 23, 2018 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

In the midst of a nationwide debate about school shootings, and
only days before the “March for Our Lives” will take place in
Washington, D.C., another school shooting happened this week at
Great Mills High School in Maryland. This time, however, the script
was a little different: the shooter was stopped by an armed School
Resources Officer.

The shooter entered the school with a Glock semi-automatic
pistol and was confronted by the SRO moments after he shot two
students, a boy and a girl. According to reports, the girl and the shooter had a prior
relationship, so it is possible that the intent was a targeted
killing rather than massacre. Or, the shooter could have intended
to keep going. The boy was shot in the thigh and recovered, but,
unfortunately, the girl, Jaelynn Willey, was taken off life support on Thursday.

This event underscores and oft-repeated but still misconstrued
truism: adding more armed protection to schools is a reasonable and
proportionate response to school shootings. Such policies are
likely to save more lives than any gun-control policy that has even
a moderate chance of being passed—whether raising the age
limit for purchasing rifles, banning “assault weapons,”
banning “high-capacity” magazines, or something else.
And while you’re free to complain about the members of
Congress who block purportedly “common-sense” gun
control, they’re there now and they’ve proven to be
quite resilient. Protecting our schools is vitally important and
something needs to be done now, not 20 years from now.

In other contexts,
increasing security around potential targets would not be a
controversial move.

That could mean many things, from increased police presence at
schools, to arming teachers, to keeping guns in locked boxes
accessible to a few trained staff (as is happening in Ohio), to private security
services. Each of these has benefits and drawbacks. Increased
police in schools tends to lead to the “criminalization of typical teenage
misbehavior
.” Arming teachers can lead to accidents, as
happened last week in California. Private security guards
can harm the educational experience by making schools seem more
like prisons. Choices and trade-offs will have to be made.

In other contexts, increasing security around potential targets
would not be a controversial move. If a serial night burglar or
rapist were stalking your neighborhood, the reasonable first
response would be to secure your home, perhaps through extra locks,
a security system, or, if you’re comfortable, a gun. Broader
preventative measures would come next—such as changes to
police policies, gun control, or trying to address the social roots
of criminal …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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No, This Tiny Mummy Isn’t an Alien

March 23, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

In a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The Invaders,” a woman’s cabin is besieged by tiny, humanoid aliens who immediately begin shooting her with little guns. The woman follows one up to a miniature spaceship and destroys it while he’s inside. Then, viewers see the label on the ship: “U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1.”

Turns out, that “alien” was actually a human—which is also the case with a mysterious six-inch mummy found in Chile.

Rumors of a tiny alien unearthed in the Atacama Desert have circulated for 15 years, because the details of the mummified skeleton seemed like something out of science fiction. It had an enlarged cranium and oversized eye sockets, like the Greys, a popular type of alien in movies, TV, and books. And, similar to the trope of aliens as “little green men,” the half-foot-tall skeleton was much smaller than the average human, and even had ten ribs instead of the typical 12, reports the New York Times.

But a little green man this was not. DNA analysis has since confirmed it was a female skeleton genetically linked to the local population that was buried about 40 years ago. Although the skeleton’s tiny bones were as mature as a six-year-old’s, it was more likely a fetus who was stillborn or died shortly after birth, reports National Geographic. Moreover, researchers have discovered that the skeleton had a previously undocumented bone disorder, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Genome Research.

This tiny skeleton, found in Chile’s Atacama Desert, was thought to be potential evidence of extraterrestrial life, but its true origins are also bizarre. (Credit: Bhattacharya S et al. 2018)

Ata, as the skeleton is known, has been in the spotlight before. In 2013, a UFO conspiracy theory film, Sirius, teased Ata in its trailer and stated ominously in a press release that the film would reveal “paradigm shifting physical evidence” about the skeleton. It was a bizarre promotional strategy, considering the film interviewed a scientist who had studied Ata’s DNA, and concluded that the skeleton was unambiguously human.

That scientists was Garry Nolan, an immunologist at Stanford University and co-author of the recent paper about Ata’s bone disorder. Nolan found that Ata had mutations in seven genes related to human growth. But her skull shape and rapid development in her tiny bones is …read more

Source: HISTORY

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German Populists Shut Out: Establishment Parties Risk Terminal Decline

March 23, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The grassroots revolt against the Social Democratic
establishment in Germany failed when two-thirds of party members
backed the not-so Grand Coalition (GroKo) with Germany’s
conservatives. For the third time in four terms the once proud
Marxist party, which traces its lineage back to Wilhelmine Germany
and the “iron” chancellorship of Otto von Bismarck, will play
secondary coalition partner. Some party members wonder if the SPD
will survive.

The status of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social
Union (sister parties that act in tandem) may prove to be little
better. Although the bigger vote-getter, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
coalition gave up substantial policies and positions to win SPD
agreement. Many expect her to make way for new leadership before
her term ends.

Critics of the centrist governing cartel have been emboldened.
The populist Alternative for Germany received almost 13 percent of
the vote last fall and will become the official opposition. Also
invigorated are the other opposition parties.

The most important question is whether the continuing breakdown
of the two traditional governing parties will spark their renewal
or continued decline. Since the first GroKo in 2005, the governing
cartel has hemorrhaged votes. Just five years ago the SPD-CDU/CSU
collected two-thirds of the vote. Last fall that total was barely a
majority.

After the 2005 election, in which Merkel’s promises of serious
economic reform lost most of the CDU/CSU’s early electoral lead,
she moved sharply left, embracing much of the SPD’s agenda. The
nominal conservatives got credit for governing to the center-left,
leaving the Social Democrats as a marginal political
afterthought.

That trajectory seems likely to continue. There are some signs
of life emerging in the major parties, but that may reflect
fratricidal rather than beneficial competition.

The SPD debacle led to an unseemly, public squabble over
positions and destruction of the party leader’s career. Also
notable is Chancellor Merkel’s diminished stature. Although she has
dominated politics since becoming chancellor in 2005, the “safe
hands” campaign lost its potency as her conservative parties
slumped to their worst result since 1949.

She ended up concluding another coalition pact, but only by
making substantial concessions to the Social Democrats. Thomas
Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Fund called the agreement
“one big giveaway, freebies for all,” leaving “a left-liberal feel
to it.” At the party conference approving the pact one member
complained about giving the AfD “one million of our voters.”

The changed debate reaches beyond the Bundestag. The traditional
social consensus is fraying. Noted the American Foreign Policy
Council’s Wayne Merry, “the official poverty rate among unemployed
Germans is the highest in the EU, while German television views
routinely see elderly and unemployed citizens fed by soup kitchens
while migrants receive priority for housing, training …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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On World Water Day, New Campaign Kicks Off to Bring Clean Water to the Oil-Contaminated Upper Amazon

March 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Alexander Zaitchik, AlterNet

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An ambitious project seeks to provide clean water to rural indigenous communities devastated by Big Oil.


A quarter-century after the United Nations designated March 22 World Water Day, its observance is more urgent than ever. Around two billion people consume unsafe water every day; close to a million die each year from related contamination and disease. Another 700 million—most of them women—travel hours by foot to the nearest water source. Global freshwater demand, meanwhile, is expected to spike a third by 2050, as climate change and pollution put further strains on supply.

Clean water shortages don't always conform to stereotype—the problem of mega-city shantytowns and famously arid deserts. This century's water crisis is a hydra-headed beast that reaches far into the last place you'd expect to find it—in that lushest of biomes, the Amazon rainforest.

How is this possible? In a word, oil. Since the 1970s, the petroleum industry has spilled billions of barrels of crude and related pollutants in the rivers and forests of the Upper Amazon. In much of Ecuador and Peru, traditionally abundant groundwater sources—rivers, streams, and lagoons—are contaminated beyond use. Nowhere is this truer than northeastern Ecuador, sometimes called the “Amazon Chernobyl,” a region that was contaminated over the course of three decades by the U.S. oil firm Chevron (then known as Texaco).

For years after the poisoning of their water sources, the four ancestral nations of the region—the Kofan, Secoya, Siona and Waorani—did not understand why so many people, especially the young, were getting sick, and dying of cancer and strange illnesses. During a visit to the region several years ago, a Kofan elder named Emergildo Criollo explained to me that the concept of toxic pollution had no meaning in their cultures prior to …read more

Source: ALTERNET