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Trump Fans Accuse NPR of ‘Taxpayer Funded Partisan Advocacy’ After It Tweets Out the Declaration of Independence — Again

July 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

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It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s the Fourth of July, which means it’s time, once again, for patriotic displays of deep-rooted American traditions. Across the nation, citizens will gather to celebrate the birth of the nation with fireworks and apple pie; and they will watch, once again, as Donald Trump supporters accuse National Public Radio of inciting a treasonous uprising against the president by tweeting out the Declaration of Independence.

As per it’s own annual tradition, NPR last year tweeted out the Declaration of Independence line-by-line—a seemingly innocuous tribute to the nation’s founding document, which outlined the thirteen original colonies’ intention to separate from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Defenders of the president attacked NPR for “calling for a revolution” by tweeting phrases like “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Many patriots remembered last year’s MAGA-snafu, and pulled up front row seats to this year’s explosive fireworks display:

Some, however, did not get the memo:

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'I Can't Afford That': Trapped and Injured by Subway Car, Woman Begged Bystanders Not to Call Ambulance Due to Expense

July 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Julia Conley, Common Dreams

“In the face of a grave injury, a series of calculations follow…This discord, between agony and arithmetic, has become America's story, too.”

As Americans across the country celebrate Independence Day with parades, barbecues, and fireworks displays, the story of a woman begging bystanders not to call an ambulance after she was injured in an accident went viral this week—with universal healthcare advocates pointing to the incident as clear evidence that a Medicare for All system would bring gravely-needed relief to all Americans.

The woman's leg became trapped between a subway car and platform on Friday night in Boston. Surveillance footage showed other passengers rushing to help the woman, who sustained a deep wound on her leg. A Boston Globe journalist who happened to be on the platform reported that the woman told the crowd she wouldn't be able to afford a hospital bill if they called an ambulance.

Another bystander told CNN, “She made it a point to say 'you don't understand, I have terrible insurance.'” The woman was eventually convinced to go with emergency medical technicians who arrived at the scene.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded access to healthcare, noted the New York Times editorial board on Monday, it has left many Americans with inadequate coverage and struggling to pay high deductibles and medical bills.

study conducted by the Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2016 found that 20 percent of insured Americans have trouble paying for medical care. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they had used up all or most of their savings to pay doctor's and hospital bills.

Ambulance rides are behind many of the exorbitant, unexpected hospital bills that Americans struggle to pay. A Kaiser Health News report found last year that with private companies taking over ambulance services in many towns and cities, patients often face thousands of dollars in bills even for a brief ride to a hospital.

A system in which private emergency service consulting forms can charge a patient hundreds of dollars for services like providing oxygen and bandaging wounds is only part of the grave problem caused by a medical system that is driven by profit, wrote the Times editorial board.

“In the face of …read more


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Before You Can Be With Others, First Learn to be Alone

July 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Aeon

If we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think.

In 1840, Edgar Allan Poe described the ‘mad energy’ of an ageing man who roved the streets of London from dusk till dawn. His excruciating despair could be temporarily relieved only by immersing himself in a tumultuous throng of city-dwellers. ‘He refuses to be alone,’ Poe wrote. He ‘is the type and the genius of deep crime … He is the man of the crowd.’ 

Like many poets and philosophers through the ages, Poe stressed the significance of solitude. It was ‘such a great misfortune’, he thought, to lose the capacity to be alone with oneself, to get caught up in the crowd, to surrender one’s singularity to mind-numbing conformity. Two decades later, the idea of solitude captured Ralph Waldo Emerson’s imagination in a slightly different way: quoting Pythagoras, he wrote: ‘In the morning, – solitude; … that nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company.’ Emerson encouraged the wisest teachers to press upon their pupils the importance of ‘periods and habits of solitude’, habits that made ‘serious and abstracted thought’ possible.

In the 20th century, the idea of solitude formed the centre of Hannah Arendt’s thought. A German-Jewish émigré who fled Nazism and found refuge in the United States, Arendt spent much of her life studying the relationship between the individual and the polis. For her, freedom was tethered to both the private sphere – the vita contemplativa – and the public, political sphere – the vita activa. She understood that freedom entailed more than the human capacity to act spontaneously and creatively in public. It also entailed the capacity to think and to judge in private, where solitude empowers the individual to contemplate her actions and develop her conscience, to escape the cacophony of the crowd – to finally hear herself think.

In 1961, The New Yorker commissioned Arendt to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi SS officer who helped to orchestrate the Holocaust. How could anyone, she wanted …read more


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Thomas Paine’s Truth-to-Power Message in 1776

July 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Jeff Biggers, YES! Magazine

Paine’s writing was as uncompromising as a modern blog with the edgy wit and precision of a Twitter thread.

At age 37, Thomas Paine carried more baggage than most travelers who had immigrated from England. Even before our nation came into being, he embodied the words of novelist Alfredo Véa: “America is best seen through the eyes of an immigrant.” A trail of debts and bankruptcy nagged him, the legacy of dismissals from government appointments as a tax collector, a failed career as a stay-maker and shopkeeper, and two childless marriages that had unraveled. His first wife died tragically in labor with her first child; his second marriage dissolved into a loveless business arrangement that collapsed, as well. The couple separated, Paine sold off his possessions to avoid debtor’s prison, and then he disappeared into London, haunting the taverns, attending lectures on science and philosophy, and plotting his departure to the New World. There was a genius about Paine, who had been esteemed by fellow excise men and welcomed into the political parlors, that could not find a door of opportunity in England.

Paine had arrived at the Philadelphia docks in 1774 on a stretcher in a virtual coma, having fallen ill from typhoid on the ship from England. A letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, who had briefly met him in London, ensured his safe passage to a house of recovery. Within a short time, Paine turned his own personal reinvention in the upheaval of the colonies into a reinvention of America’s destiny, as well. After a floundering attempt to tutor children, he found work at a new magazine.

Paine, of course, did not emerge out of a vacuum of rebellion. His adopted home of Philadelphia struggled over its own power shift to an emerging radical faction. In the years after the Stamp Act of 1765, according to historian R. A. Ryerson, as various factions squabbled over tactics, a new resistance movement came of age in Philadelphia. Drawn from a broader assortment of mechanics and laborers, movement leaders felt that “neither the city’s merchants as a body, nor any …read more


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'Why Can't the US Just Simply Invade?' Officials Say Trump Pushed U.S. Military Overthrow in Venezuela

July 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Jon Queally, Common Dreams

“Happy Independence Day. Our f*%king madman in the White House really wants to go to war in Venezuela.”

Surrounded by his top military aides in a White House meeting less than a year ago, the Associated Press on Wednesday reports that President Donald Trump wanted to know why the U.S. military couldn't “just simply invade” the country of Venezuela.

Based on the account of “a senior administration official familiar with what was said,” AP reports that the president's comments “stunned” those at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have now left the administration.

From AP:

In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

While some of those around him continued attempts to ignore or dissuade the president, reportedly Trump could not let the idea go and AP cites “two high-ranking Colombian officials” who confirmed that he brought the idea of a military overthrow up with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a closed-door meeting in August of 2017.

A month later, during a dinner with other Latin American leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, the reporting says that Trump—despite warnings not to do so—once more brought up the subject.

“The U.S. official said Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn't play well,” AP reports, “but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, 'My staff told me not to say this.' Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they …read more


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How to Avoid the Looming China-U.S. Confrontation

July 4, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump refers to his Chinese counterpart as a
friend, but the Trump administration’s policy toward the
People’s Republic of China is decidedly unfriendly. A
burgeoning trade war is only the most obvious challenge to Beijing.
Washington recently has confronted the PRC over territorial claims
in the South China Sea, policy toward North Korea, and aggressive
action against Taiwan.

The possibility that the planet’s two most important
nations, with overlapping and sometimes conflicting interests,
might clash in Asia is hardly surprising. But as China’s
commerce and influence expands, the competitive arena is becoming
the entire globe. Washington is even watching Chinese activities in
the Western hemisphere with concern.

Echoes of the post-1949 debate over who “lost China”
are being heard in Washington. Earlier this year Kurt Campbell and
Ely Ratner, both former U.S. government officials, asked how so
many Americans got China so wrong. “All sides of the policy
debate erred,” they wrote: “free traders and financiers
who foresaw inevitable and increasing openness in China,
integrationists who argued that Beijing’s ambitions would be
tamed by greater interaction with the international community, and
hawks who believed that China’s power would be abated by
perpetual American primacy.”

Washington and Beijing
need to get their relationship right before more serious
controversies arise.

Foreign Affairs continued the debate this month with comments
from several analysts. Wang Jisi, President of Peking
University’s Institute of International and Strategic
Studies, noted the understandable confusion of Chinese officials
about current U.S. policy, but offered some words of hope. Despite
the serious deterioration in relations, “two larger
principles should prevent a head-on confrontation.” One is
that both Beijing and America remain committed to order rather than
disorder. The other is that there remain important areas of
potential cooperation. He is right in both cases, but even so it
will be difficult to keep relations civil and productive.

Americans who advocated extensive engagement with the PRC
expected it to prosper, even if they underestimated the rate of
growth. However, Beijing has turned its growing economic might into
a weapon to impose domestic policies on foreign companies,
including American ones. Most dramatic has been the demand that
airlines and hotel chains reconfigure their websites to treat
Taiwan as part of China rather than as an independent state.

The spread of Confucius Institutes across American colleges
spurred fears that schools will compromise their independence to
keep the money flowing. The New York Times recently
reported on exiled Chinese lawyer Teng Biao
warning of “China’s Long Arm.” Teng accused the
American Bar Association of dropping a book project critical of
Beijing to safeguard its activities in the PRC (the ABA claimed …read more

Source: OP-EDS