You are browsing the archive for 2018 March.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Big Week for the Russia Probe: Promises of Pardons and a Suspected Russian Spy

March 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Was John Dowd dangling pardons before Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn? And how important is Konstantin Kilimnik?


Until Wednesday it was a weirdly slow news week in this high-energy Trump era, with no more than a few desultory tweets from the president and almost no public appearances. The most obvious reason for Trump's unwillingness to address the press was that the Stormy Daniels story had dominated the news cycle and he didn't want to have to answer questions about that. Trump also got bad news this week on the emoluments lawsuit that alleges he's improperly profiting from his Washington hotel as president. Or maybe he's just come down after his manic run of the past couple of weeks.

On Tuesday, Trump's silence took on a more ominous tone, however, when senators on both sides of the aisle sent letters to various members of the Justice Department, more or less begging them not to cooperate with any move to shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. For no obviously discernible reason, Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del., authors of a bill introduced more than a year ago to protect Mueller, issued a joint statement urging Trump “to allow the Special Counsel to complete his work without impediment, which is in the best interest of the American people, the President, and our nation.” Later, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the eight other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter to five DOJ officials asking them to commit to protecting Mueller.

Blumenthal went on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show and explained:

Meanwhile, the reasoning behind the letters to the Justice Department was spelled out in this Slate article by Blumenthal and historian Rick Perlstein, looking to the Watergate precedent.

A couple of stories have broken over the last couple of days …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Oldest Human Footprints in North America Discovered

March 30, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

One of the prints discovered, beside a digitally-enhanced image that more clearly shows toe impressions and an arch indicating that this is a right footprint. (Credit: Duncan McLaren)

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known human footprints in North America. Specifically, they’ve discovered footprints from three ice-age humans who walked the shores of a Canadian Island approximately 13,000 years ago.

Researchers believe that the 29 clay footprints, found under the sand on Calvert Island in British Columbia, belonged to two adults and one child. And the variety of footprints seems to indicate that these people were doing more than just stopping on their way to somewhere else.

One of the prints discovered, beside a digitally-enhanced image that more clearly shows toe impressions and an arch indicating that this is a right footprint. (Credit: Duncan McLaren)

“In addition to the 29 individual footprints, we found evidence of other partial footprint-like depressions, but over-trampling had rendered them only barely discernible,” researchers wrote in a paper published in March 2018 in the journal PLOS One. “For this reason, many could not be recorded in detail or with confidence and are not included in the total number of tracks discovered.”

The footprints are rare evidence of human activity in North America during the Pleistocene Epoch, which began about-two-and-a-half million years ago. Previously, researchers have uncovered artifacts with a similar date range to the footprints at Charlie Lake Cave in British Columbia, as well as the Vermillion Lakes in Alberta, Canada.


The excavation site that revealed the prints. (Credit: Joanne McSporran)

This discovery adds new information to the theory that early people in North America crossed over from Siberia via “Beringia,” a land bridge that once stretched over the Bering Strait to Alaska. In particular, it suggests that some of these travelers may have used boats to travel among islands in the Northern Pacific.

So far, no evidence of ice-age boats have been found in this region. The oldest boat ever discovered was found in the Netherlands and is only 10,000 years old, meaning it was built about three millennia after the Calvert Island dwellers left their footprints. If researchers find evidence that the people who made footprints on the island did travel there by boat, it would significantly move back our estimate of when humans first began to roam …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

7-Year-Old T. Rex Found in Montana is a ‘1 in 100 Million’ Discovery

March 30, 2018 in History

By Martin Stezano

Paleontologists excavating in Montana’s famous Hell Creek Formation have uncovered the score of a lifetime—one of the most preserved and complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever found.

Although digging up remains of a T. rex in the area is not an uncommon feat, what makes this find unique is the quality of the fossil, and the age of the dinosaur in question. According to Kyle Atkins-Weltman, an assistant fossil preparator at the Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas, there have been fewer than five “decently complete juvenile T. rexes” discovered in the formation, which has produced a massive cache of dinosaur fossils since it was first excavated by famed paleontologist Barnum Brown in the late 1890s.

Just how rare was it? As Atkins-Weltman told Live Science, “This is a 1-in-100-million specimen.”

The young dinosaur, which is believed to have been 6 to 8 years old when it died, was originally discovered by Kris Super, an assistant student preparator from the Natural History Museum in June of 2016, but his team didn’t have time to unearth the entire skeleton, so they couldn’t say for certain what kind of dinosaur they’d found. The following summer, they returned and realized just how extraordinary their discovery had been.

There are still many questions that remain to be answered about this discovery. Is it really a young T. rex, which lived during the last 2 million years of the Cretaceous period, from about 67 million to 65 million years ago. Or could it be another example of the controversial—and potentially bogus—Nannotyranus (a small genus of the tyrannosaurid family first catalogued in 1946)? With a specimen this complete, perhaps the answers will soon be revealed.

VIDEO: Dinosaurs: Known as the “king of the tyrant lizards,” T-Rex was one of the largest carnivores of all time.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Easter During WWII Featured ‘Hitler Eggs’ With Moustaches

March 30, 2018 in History

By Allison McNearney

By Easter 1941, news coverage in the United States was beginning to reflect the ominous beat of war drawing closer to the country. The traditional Easter celebrations—the 5th Avenue Easter parade in New York City, visits to the blossoming cherry trees in D.C., and coverage of the Easter observations and style of the president and first lady—may have proceeded as usual, but echoes of the terror facing the world could be seen in things as minor as Easter egg decorations that year. Even in a neutral U.S., nobody would give up the chance to smash a hard-boiled Hitler!

Paramount News, the media organization responsible for this 1941 Easter report, would eventually be called on to join the national war effort. They lent their talents to the Office of War Information, which was formed in the summer of 1942 and was responsible for all international and domestic propaganda during World War II. But until then, they continued releasing their own coverage of world events, whether those in the government liked it or not.

Paramount Takes on the News Biz

In 1927, Paramount Pictures jumped into the world of journalism by creating a news division. For the three decades that it existed, Paramount News would produce biweekly newsreel dispatches like this account of Easter in 1941 that were often shown in cinemas before the regularly scheduled entertainment began.

While Paramount would come to collaborate with the government to produce domestic war propaganda and dispatches from the frontlines, not every politician was thrilled with their news coverage in the lead-up to war. In 1940, Senator Burton Wheeler from Montana accused the movie industry of campaigning for war.

According to a January 15, 1941, New York Times piece, the editor of Paramount News wrote a letter to Wheeler disputing the accusations, writing, “I stand on our record. Paramount News has consistently presented and will continue to present both sides of all controversial topics vital to the interests of the American people. May I remind you of our treatment of the Supreme Court controversy of two years ago, in which you were featured in our screen reporting? This is but one example, characteristic of our policy.”

A Basketful of Easter Traditions 

Even with war on the horizon, expert Easter egg decorators were channeling cheekiness when it came to their craft, as seen in the Hitler and United States Navy eggs featured in this news report. …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Jesse Jackson on M.L.K.: One Bullet Couldn’t Kill the Movement

March 30, 2018 in History

By Yohuru Williams

U.S. National Guard troops blocking off a street while striking Memphis sanitation workers march by, wearing placards reading, 'I Am A Man' on March 29, 1968. King was killed on the eve of a second march to support the sanitation workers. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/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.

Early in the evening on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, a single bullet felled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the 39-year-old leader of America’s long-simmering civil-rights struggle. Known for his advocacy of nonviolent resistance to racial injustice, King was instrumental in rolling back national laws dictating segregation and discrimination; and in 1964, he became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

King, who had come to the city to support a sanitation workers’ strike, was under significant stress, both from aggressive government surveillance and from fellow civil-rights leaders at odds about what a national agenda should look like—and how best to pursue it. High on Dr. King’s list: spotlighting the plight of America’s poor.

One of the people with King the day he was killed was a 26-year-old rising figure in the movement named Jesse Jackson, Jr. In the last 50 years, he himself has become a national civil-rights icon, who has worked tirelessly to topple the vestiges of racism and inequality in America and across the globe. In a wide-ranging interview with HISTORY, Rev. Jackson offered his recollections on the assassination, its tumultuous aftermath throughout 1968—and how the movement struggled to push forward with King’s dream of racial and economic equality.

VIDEO: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: A look at the life of iconic civil rights leader.

HISTORY: Dr. King’s assassination came in the midst of preparation for the Poor People’s Campaign, a massive demonstration to highlight the issue of poverty in America. What were the internal arguments within his organization, the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), around this planning?

Jesse Jackson: We were trying to think strategically about how to gain traction. And so we had the staff meeting in January with whites from Appalachia and the Smoky Mountains, Native Americans from the reservations, blacks from the deep south, Latinos from south of this country, Chavez’s group, some Jewish allies from New York led by [activist] Al Lowenstein, and labor. [The discussion was] on how to begin to go city by city and come by bus, by train, by plane—[to] come to Washington and set up Resurrection City, a poor people’s camp between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

And so that …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Let's Tackle Poverty in the US and UK by Making Sure Policies Don’t Hit Poor in the Pocket

March 30, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Ask mainstream politicians in the UK or the US what can be done
to alleviate poverty, and the answers will probably be predictable
and unimaginative.

Progressive politicians will talk up the need for more
redistribution, minimum wage hikes, government job schemes and
subsidies for services, with childcare nowadays a favoured
priority. Conservatives will advocate targeted tax cuts and welfare
reform to encourage people to earn their way out of poverty.
So-called moderates will split the difference.

All implicitly agree the primary way to help the low paid is
through raising their incomes, either by government transfers, wage
mandates, shifting service funding responsibility to taxpayers, or
increasing the returns to working. But there’s good reason to think
this “income-based” consensus on poverty alleviation has
had its day.

Income is still extremely important, of course. Money matters to
human well-being. Progressives are correct that giving the poor
money or stuff makes their lives easier, and helps reduce poverty
for a large number of recipients (as are conservatives correct that
means-tested benefits disincentivise earning more money).

But what really matters is what people can afford with their
income. And it’s here where the political focus on income-based
solutions has left a huge blind spot which undermines anti-poverty
efforts — for government policies in other areas raise the
cost of living for poor people by increasing the price of essential
goods and services. This not only makes the poor worse off, but in
itself leads to demands for vast amounts of intervention and
redistribution.

Rather than instinctively
proposing new spending and regulations, our politicians should
instead adopt a “first do no harm” approach that unpicks
interventions that increase prices in the first place.

The poorest 20pc of households in the UK see close to 60pc of
their spending go on housing, food, clothing, transport and
utilities; in the US, on slightly different definitions, it’s 68pc.
Those with children see higher spending on clothing and footwear,
and childcare for those with infants can be hugely expensive too.
Families in inner-successful cities face much higher rents (and
often receive higher housing benefit or subsidies).

In all these sectors, government policies push prices
structurally higher. Land use planning laws in the UK and around
major US cities are a key driver of high house prices and rents.
Childcare regulation such as stringent staff-child ratios and group
size limits have been shown to raise prices, without improving
child outcomes. Significant tariffs are imposed on food imports at
an EU-level, and in the US sugar subsidies, milk marketing orders,
and ethanol mandates make food more expensive.

Highly regressive trade barriers on clothing and footwear
likewise raise the costs of dressing ourselves, and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

North Carolina Prisons Finally Banned This Barbaric Practice Used on Pregnant Inmates

March 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Brendan Gauthier, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Many states still require women prisoners to be shackled during childbirth.


North Carolina became the 19th state to prohibit or restrict the shackling of pregnant inmates during childbirth this week, after its director of prisons, Kenneth Lassiter, signed legislation banning the practice.

The new policy is an apparent response to pushback from a coalition of advocacy groups, including the Atlanta-based SisterSong, which sent a letter last month to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety on behalf of inmates from the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women who were shackled while in labor. The coalition said two unnamed women were shackled “in spite of the concerns of medical staff and the fact that it was in violation of NC Department of Public Safety written policies and legal precedent.”

Though further information about the two inmates has yet to surface, the letter prompted an internal review that ultimately led to the change in policy, which further bans the use of handcuffs or other restraints “during the mother's initial bonding with her newborn, including nursing and skin-to-skin contact,” according to the News & Observer.

In 2006, the UN Committee against Torture found the practice of shackling pregnant inmates during childbirth to be in violation of Article 16 of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The American Medical Association condemned the “barbaric practice that needlessly inflicts excruciating pain and humiliation” at its annual meeting in 2010, urging states to model new anti-shackling legislation on New Mexico’s, which bans “restraints of any kind” unless a pregnant inmate poses a flight risk or an immediate threat to herself or others.

“I am unaware of any cases of women or girls in labor attempting to escape. If I did, I …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

One No-Brainer Way to Bring Gun Deaths Down

March 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Aniqa Raihan, OtherWords

Closing the “boyfriend loophole” would save lives without putting guns in classrooms or taking them off store shelves.


It’s now been over a month since 17 teenagers were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, culminating in a march that brought 

And though the story of the battered wife is not an unfamiliar one, a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania found that over 80 percent of intimate partner violence incidents reported in 2013 involved current or past dating partners, while current and past spouses accounted for less than 20 percent of incidents.

As Americans continue to get married later and less frequently, the nationwide population of unmarried adults will grow, which is why closing the boyfriend loophole should be a top priority for lawmakers across the country.

Oregon’s new law makes it the 24th state to officially close the loophole, but there’s still much work to be done. The federal law prohibiting gun ownership for abusers doesn’t actually outline a mechanism for them to hand over weapons they already own.

Twenty-seven states require convicted abusers and those subject to protective orders to relinquish their firearms, but only half of those specify whom the weapons should be given to. And just four require law enforcement to proactively remove guns from offenders rather than wait for them to be turned in.

Meanwhile, 13 states have no laws at all to prevent domestic abusers from owning or buying new guns. Six of those states are in the top 10 with the highest rates of gun deaths.

Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Dan Donovan (R-NY), along with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), have introduced legislation to close the boyfriend loophole on the federal level. But that alone won’t be enough to ensure that abusers don’t have access to deadly firearms.

We need thoroughness and uniformity across state lines. We need specific systems to remove weapons from dangerous people, including laws allowing law enforcement to seize weapons found while responding to reports of intimate partner violence.

We need legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to report offenders for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

And, of course, we need universal background checks on all gun sales, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

John Bolton: Warmonger… and Now, Kingmaker?

March 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Jefferson Morley, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


The new national security adviser has doled out $14 million to Republican candidates in the last five years.


For John Bolton, warmongering abroad and partisan politics at home go hand in hand. As Bolton has advocated waging war on Iran and North Korea in recent years, he has built an empire of political influence with two political action committees that spread his hawkish views and support like-minded Republican candidates.

Since 2013 the Bolton PAC and Super PAC have raised more than $23 million and spent more than $14.1 million on Republican candidates and causes, according to FEC records. While previous national security advisers such as Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger have become political stars in the Republican Party, none has played the role of kingmaker that Bolton aspires to.

Such partisanship breaks with the tradition of the national security adviser as an honest broker of policy proposals coming from the military, the foreign service and the intelligence agencies. The job requires reconciling conflicting views before issues require the president to intervene.

“The obvious question is whether John Bolton has the temperament and the judgment for the job,” tweeted Richard Haass, former NSC official and head of the Council on Foreign Relations. Former president Jimmy Carter says Bolton’s appointment is a “disaster for our country.”

Another question is whether his donors will have outsized influence over U.S. policy. Bolton’s biggest backer is Robert Mercer, the New York financier and Trump supporter. Mercer has given Bolton $5 million, including $1 million in two $500,000 payments in late 2017.

Another big Bolton booster is the Falic family of Florida, which donated $175,000 since 2013. The Falics, who own a chain of duty-free shops in airports around the world, are also one of the biggest funders of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Mitt Romney Is a Monster

March 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

So much for the #NeverTrumpers: Weeks after denouncing intolerance, Romney says he’s more Trumpy than anyone.


I am probably more tolerant of #NeverTrump conservative pundits than a lot of liberals, simply because I think many of them are ruthlessly effective at taking apart their political opponents. In the Trump era, I figure we need all the rhetorical firepower we can get. While I'm not going to forget their role in bringing us to this moment or write paeans to their great moral awakening, if they are willing to put their dark talents to work to help in this national emergency I'm not going to stand in their way.

Likewise, I'd be willing to cut GOP elected officials who criticize the president some slack — if they ever backed up their words with action. It's not as if they don't have any power. All it would take right now is three senators switching parties, even unofficially, to put the Senate in Democratic hands and at least apply the brakes to this slow-motion train wreck. (Why not lame ducks John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of Arizona, and Bob Corker of Tennessee, for example? They literally have nothing to lose.) I'll give McCain, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, plaudits for refusing to sign on to the Obamacare repeal. I welcome McCain's curmudgeonly complaints in other matters. But they've all voted in lockstep with the president on everything else, despite their harsh criticisms of him, so their protestations of independence are pretty weak tea.

Even Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is obviously angling for the permanent McCain Sunday-show slot, is mealy-mouthed in his criticism. And there are effectively no GOP House members who aren't marching over the cliff behind the president.

According to Bob Corker, this is because the voters just love Trump so darned much:

The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature. People who tell me, who are out on [the] trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t …read more

Source: ALTERNET