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Conservative Media Group 'Pressured' Its Employees to Be More Pro-Trump During the 2016 Election: Report

May 9, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The report falls in line with a consistent pattern of right-wing outlets forcing commentators to embrace the president.


Multiple employees for the conservative company Salem Media Group, a major player in the talk radio world, were pressured to deliver commentary more favorable to President Donald Trump and less critical of his actions during the 2016 campaign, according to a new report from CNNMoney. The report continues a pattern of recent stories showing conservative outlets rewarding pro-Trump commentators and marginalizing voices who are critical of the president.

One former host for Salem, Elisha Krauss, spoke to CNNMoney on the record about her treatment. She was ultimately terminated after what she says were multiple conversations with company executives explicitly telling her that she must offer more positive coverage of Trump.

Outlets of all stripes have ideological dispositions and values, of course, and it's no surprise that outlets often promote certain partisan viewpoints. But Krauss said that Salem creates a “facade” of having a range of opinions in their coverage while explicitly guiding their commentators toward a message favorable for the president. It also may appear to be presenting its hosts as contributors of original opinions while forcing them to toe the company line.

In one email obtained by CNNMoney, a Salem executive chastised two employees critical of Trump for covering Melania Trump's plagiarized convention speech in 2016. He suggested that such stories do nothing to “advance the cause.”

The report comes after a mass firing at the conservative site RedState in which critics said the outlet was purging itself of anti-Trump voices. RedState is among Salem's web properties.

Many observers have also raised concerns about the conservative bent of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has reportedly been forcing the local TV news stations it controls to air pro-Trump propaganda. 

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Vanessa Trump Love Letters Reveal Details of Past Relationship with Latin Kings Gang Member

May 9, 2018 in Blogs

By AlterNet

The now-released suitor says he misses her.


Page Six has revealed that Vanessa Trump, soon-to-be-divorced wife of Donald Trump Jr., had a lengthy romance with a member of the Latin Kings street gang that began when she was in high-school.

The publication published excerpts of love letters she sent to Valentin Rivera after he began an 16-month sentence for assault.

“I can’t wait till that year because a lot’s going to happen. My 18th birthday, you’ll be back in my arms, my prom, and I want to get pregnant and have a baby with you after January,” one letter says. “I want to get pregnant so the baby is born after I graduate since it takes 9 months.”

Their relationship is said to have lasted for five years, ending after it was revealed that Trump had an affair with actor Leo DiCaprio, according to Page Six.

“Vanessa was my first love, she even gave me a photo album full of pictures of her, and us together, with a note saying, ‘this is so you can remember me when I become famous,” Rivera said to the publication. “You know, she was right, she did become famous — but the Vanessa people see with Trump isn’t the Vanessa I knew.”

The reformed Rivera, who left his gang life behind and started a family, said to Page Six, “I hope she finds happiness in the next chapter of her life.”

A spokesperson for Trump declined to deny the veracity of the letters and claims. Instead, the spokesperson accused Page Six of sensationalizing “'stories' from high school.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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America Helped Start Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

May 9, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Part of a display at the Atoms for Peace exhibit in the United States, 1955. (Credit: Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

For several decades now, the U.S. has sought to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But ironically, the reason Iran has the technology to build these weapons in the first place is because the U.S. gave it to Iran between 1957 and 1979. This nuclear assistance was part of a Cold War strategy known as “Atoms for Peace.”

The strategy’s name comes from Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech, given before the United Nations General Assembly in 1953. In it, he suggested that promoting the non-military use of nuclear technology could discourage countries from using it to create nuclear weapons, or “Atoms for War.”

The speech came only eight years after the invention of the atomic bomb, at a time when the U.S. was anxious to keep these new and frightening weapons from proliferating around the world. Strange as it sounds, President Eisenhower viewed his “Atoms for Peace” strategy partly as a form of arms control.

“He thought that sharing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes would reduce the incentives of countries to want to make nuclear bombs,” says Matthew Fuhrmann, a political science professor at Texas A&M University and author of Atomic Assistance: How “Atoms for Peace” Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity. For example, countries can use nuclear technology to generate electricity through nuclear power plants or produce radioisotopes for medical purposes.

AUDIO: Eisenhower on Atomic Energy On December 8, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations on the peaceful use of atomic energy.

“The alternative, of course, was to just try and set up an international embargo that would restrict the transfer of any nuclear technology to any state that didn’t already possess it,” Fuhrmann says. However, Eisenhower feared an embargo would “make other countries want the technology more,” possibly increasing “their resolve to eventually get it and maybe use it for more sinister purposes.”

There was also another dimension to “Atoms for Peace.” Nuclear technology was something valuable and new, and it conferred a certain status on countries that had it. The U.S. viewed providing other countries with the technology as a means of gaining influence over those states and achieving political goals. To that end, the U.S. provided nuclear assistance<span style="font-weight: …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Over 30,000 Nursing Home Patients Threatened with Eviction Under Louisiana Medicaid Cuts

May 9, 2018 in Blogs

By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

These cuts are inhumane.


Cuts to Medicaid programs in Louisiana could lead to more than 30,000 senior citizens being kicked out of nursing homes. People with developmental disabilities and those receiving home care will also be affected, and the loss of residents could lead some nursing homes to close, threatening many jobs.

The Louisiana House has voted on a budget that would make $538 million in health care cuts, including to Medicaid programs specifically helping disabled and elderly people:

The proposed budget eliminated the Medicaid Long Term Care Special Income Level Program, which enabled those with incomes of greater than $750 a month and less than $2,250 a month to receive Medicaid, according to Jim Tucker, CEO of CommCare Corp., a nonprofit that operates 12 nursing homes.

That program provides health services for about 80% of nursing facility residents, according to the Louisiana Nursing Home Association.

Tucker, a former House Speaker in Louisiana, said the new proposed guidelines would cap income eligibility at $750 a month or less.

No more than $750 a month or you’re on your own, old people!

“Worried over calls from Broadway Elder Living Center advising that #Medicaid support for my 90 y/o father (a Korean War vet) and my 86 y/o mother may get cut off,” David Grabert wrote on social media on Tuesday.

“Mom called me crying over this unconscionable threat to losing nursing home care desperately needed,” Grabert wrote.

The state Senate has yet to pass this budget, so now is the time for Louisiana’s senior citizens, their families, nursing home workers, and anyone who doesn’t want to see tens of thousands of nursing home patients kicked out to fend for themselves to give their state senator a call.

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Source: ALTERNET

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'Far Too Much Incriminating Information': Former FBI Official Explains Why Trump Likely Won't Speak to Mueller

May 9, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“As every day passes, it becomes less and less likely that the president will consent to sitting down for an interview with Mueller.”


Special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to interview President Donald Trump as a part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, but new developments in the case suggest that Trump may do whatever he can to avoid answering questions on the matter, according to a former FBI official. 

Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, made the comments Wednesday afternoon to MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace on her show “Deadline: White House.”

Wallace asked whether the latest report from Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti, which accused Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen of receiving large payments after the election from companies, including one backed by a Russsian oligarch, would affect Trump's willingness to testify.

“What we've learned from Avenatti makes it far less likely that the president's ever going to sit down with Mueller,” Figliuzzi said. “There's far too much incriminating information out there to jam him up.”

Betsy Woodruff, a reporter for the Daily Beast, agreed.

“As every day passes, it becomes less and less likely that the president will consent to sitting down for an interview with Mueller. I think part of the reason Giuliani has done this kind of flamboyant media effort over the last few weeks is because he's trying to shift this from being a legal question to a political and political affairs question,” she said.

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Students Say Wisconsin School Threw Their Lunches in the Garbage Because They Didn’t Have Enough Money

May 9, 2018 in Blogs

By Brad Reed, Raw Story

Making matters worse, student says superintendent appears to have lied about it.


Students at in the Stanley-Boyd school district in Wisconsin say that school staff members have taken to throwing their lunches in the garbage because they don’t have enough money on their school lunch accounts.

Local news station WQOW reports that the Stanley-Boyd school district recently has been trying to crack down on giving out lunches to students whose accounts have hit $0.

However, some students and parents say that school staff members have gone too far by taking away lunches that students were already in the middle of eating and then tossing them in the trash.

Stanley-Boyd Superintendent Jim Jones tells WQOW that “no employee at the district has physically taken a lunch and thrown it in the garbage,” but students and parents who talked with the station said that just wasn’t the truth. “I guess I would have to call him a liar because he says straight up that he’s never done that and his staff doesn’t do it, and that’s not true because we as students have seen it happen,” one student tells WQOW. “So this special needs student sat down and was eating lunch he grabbed his tray and said you don’t have any money in your account and dumped his tray in the garbage and he did not offer him an alternate food option.”

Parent Denise Hoffstatter, meanwhile, tells the station that one school administrator admitted to her that a school employee did trash a student’s lunch — although they insisted that it only happened once and “it was some nachos.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Steps That China and the U.S. Must Take to Facilitate Peace in Korea

May 9, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

There is a pervasive sense of relief in East Asia, the United
States, and throughout the world regarding the dramatic reduction
in tensions between the two Koreas. Encouraging signs emerged
already with the cordial atmospherics at the Winter Olympics in
February, but recent developments have greatly accelerated that
process. The sight of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
stepping across
the de facto border at the Demilitarized Zone
was especially powerful symbolism. Even more important in terms of
substance, was the
agreement
that Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in
signed at their April summit meeting vowing to end the state of war
between the two Korean states.

There is considerable speculation about why the easing of
tensions is taking place and the significance of the change.
Hardliners in the United States and Japan remain highly suspicious
of Kim’s moves. They contend that he is taking advantage of a
gullible South Korean leader and is simply trying to
buy time
while North Korea continues to build its nuclear
arsenal and ballistic missile systems. Such skeptics caution the
Trump administration not to be taken in
by Pyongyang’s new charm offensive. Even
more moderate observers
note that Pyongyang has not yet made
truly substantive concessions.

The initial steps that
Kim and Moon have taken are encouraging, and they provide the
foundation for a lasting peace on the Peninsula.

Other analysts are more optimistic
that a fundamental change in North Korea’s policies is taking
place. Some contend that Kim has concluded that his regime
will not survive
if he continues to engage in provocative
actions-especially regarding the nuclear issue. The Trump
administration’s extremely hardline positions, including deploying
more U.S. air and naval forces to Northeast Asia, along with the
president’s threatening rhetoric,
so the argument goes
, convinced Kim and the rest of the North
Korean leadership that a course correction was imperative or
Washington might launch air and missile strikes.

Other experts who believe that prospects for peace are now real,
speculate that Kim may want to improve the current security
environment so that he can
pursue economic reforms
along the lines China adopted in the
late 1970s. Some analysts give
China considerable credit
for the onset of détente between the
two Koreas. Much of that speculation involves the
mysterious meeting
between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim
during the latter’s sudden trip to Beijing with a North Korean
economic delegation in late March.

The initial steps that Kim and Moon have taken are encouraging,
and they provide the foundation for a lasting peace on the
Peninsula. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The First Birth Control Pill Used Puerto Rican Women as Guinea Pigs

May 9, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

An undated photo of Margaret Sanger (1883-1966). (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

It came in a brown bottle, marketed as a safe way for married women to treat menstrual disorders. But the contents of that little brown bottle were as potent as a bomb. Inside was Enovid, the world’s first birth control pill.

Soon, Enovid would usher in a new era of sexual autonomy for women. It was marketed as a safe, clinically tested way to take control of reproductive health. But few women who took it then, or since, realized how complicated its birth really was.

The pill had a bright future, but its past—one intertwined with eugenics and colonialism—was fraught. Its clinical trials took place not in the mainland United States, but in Puerto Rico, where poor women were given a strong formulation of the drug without being told they were taking part in a trial or about any of the risks they’d face. Three women died during the secretive test phase—but their deaths were never investigated.

An undated photo of Margaret Sanger (1883-1966). (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

The pill’s history starts with one of the most influential figures in the birth control movement, Margaret Sanger. Outspoken and fearless, Sanger was willing to defy the law on behalf of women’s reproductive rights. In 1916, she opened the nation’s first birth control clinic and was arrested for distributing information on contraception and put on trial for breaking a New York law. The trial that followed is now considered a watershed moment for birth control in the United States, and inspired physicians and researchers to begin seeking better ways to help women plan and prevent pregnancies.

Sanger thought that women would never be free until they had the ability to control their own bodies. But her views on birth control were also rooted in philosophies that would raise raise modern eyebrows. Historians contest a longstanding myth that Sanger thought non-white people should be prevented from procreating, but they agree that Sanger supported eugenics, a theory that “undesirable” populations could be reduced or eliminated by controlling their breeding.

In Sanger’s case, that “undesirable” group was “the mentally and physically defective.” Using eugenic language of the era, Sanger argued that birth control could help wipe out …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Trump Leans on Distortions to Explain Iran Deal Withdrawal

May 9, 2018 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

President Trump’s decision to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal was
supported less by a threat from Iran than by a misrepresentation of
what the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) achieves.

The big picture: Many of the reasons Trump laid
out for withdrawing from the JCPOA today were inaccurate. The deal
does not pave the way for Iran to “reach the brink of a nuclear
breakout”; in fact, it extended Iran’s nuclear breakout time from
about a month to more than a year. It also rolled back Iran’s
existing program, kept it under strict limitations and included a
pledge from Iran that it would never seek a nuclear weapon.

Although Trump said the JCPOA imposed “very weak limits on the
regime’s nuclear activity,” it actually represented the most
intrusive inspections regime in the world,
as attested to
by IAEA Director Yukiya Amano.

Trump has isolated the
U.S., undermined non-proliferation and increased the risk of
another disastrous war in the Middle East.

Trump depicted Iran as implacably in pursuit of nuclear weapons
and likely to dash for a bomb as soon as the deal’s “sunset”
provisions come due. However, Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons
program many years ago, opting against isolation from the
international community and the global economy and reducing the
risk of preventive attacks by the U.S. or its allies.

What’s next: Iran and the rest of the P5+1 may
try to salvage what’s left of this deal without the U.S., but it
won’t be easy. Iran will see much less economic benefit and be
incentivized to avoid the deal’s restrictions, possibly
circumscribing inspections, rebuilding its uranium stockpile and
shortening its breakout time.

The bottom line: Per the IAEA, the U.S.
military and intelligence community and the other parties to the
agreement, Iran was in full compliance with its end of the bargain.
By abrogating the deal, Trump has isolated the U.S., undermined
non-proliferation and increased the risk of another disastrous war
in the Middle East.

John Glaser is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Obamacare Is Still with Us, and Getting Worse

May 9, 2018 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Speaking at a campaign-style rally in Michigan last week,
President Trump declared Obamacare dead. “Essentially, we are
getting rid of Obamacare… . Some people would say, essentially,
we have gotten rid of it.”

Um, no. Whatever those mysterious “some people” might think, not
only is Obamacare still with us, but its problems are getting
worse.

What the president was likely referring to was the health-care
law’s much-despised individual mandate, the requirement that every
American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, which was
repealed as part of the tax-reform bill. But while the mandate was
always the most unpopular part, it was never the structural heart
of the Affordable Care Act.

In many ways, Obamacare’s original sin is its requirement that
insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions without charging
them premiums commensurate with their costs. By trying to shoehorn
people who are almost by definition uninsurable into the
traditional insurance markets, Obamacare undermined and
destabilized those markets — risking what actuaries call an
adverse-selection death spiral, in which the sick are increasingly
likely to purchase insurance, while the healthy drop out of the
market. The individual mandate was a costly and ineffective attempt
to deal with this problem by forcing young and healthy people to
buy overpriced insurance, thereby offsetting the losses insurers
were suffering on covering the old and sick. Other troublesome
aspects of Obamacare, from subsidies to the government-designed
standard benefits package, flow naturally from this point.

President Trump didn’t
quite fly onto an aircraft carrier beneath a ‘Mission Accomplished’
banner, but his declaration of victory is every bit as
premature.

Repealing the individual mandate was, on the whole, a good
thing, because mandating that Americans buy a specific
government-designed product is deeply antithetical to the concept
of individual liberty that is the heart and soul of the American
experiment. But by repealing the mandate without reforming or
repealing the rest of the health-care law, Republicans have
probably sped up the law’s downward actuarial spiral.

One undeniable aspect of the clearly misnamed Affordable Care
Act is that it has driven up premiums, which have roughly doubled
since the law’s inception. A study by McKinsey and Company for the
Department of Health and Human Services found that as much as 76
percent of premium increases since 2010 can be traced to
Obamacare’s regulations. While subsidies offset some of those
increases, that merely shifts the increased costs to taxpayers. Now
premiums are set to rise even more sharply. Already we are seeing
insurers submit requests for premium increases running as high as
91 percent in Maryland and 64 percent in Virginia, the first states
where 2019 rate requests have been made public.

And …read more

Source: OP-EDS