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'We Should Be Very Worried': Philosopher Explains America's History of 'Fascist Politics' — Up to and Including Trump

October 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

We're at risk — even if we don't end up with a complete fascist state.

Jason Stanley, a Yale professor of philosophy and the author of “How Facism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,” is sounding the alarms about the disturbing trends in American political culture evident in the rise of President Donald Trump.

Though many characterize warnings about Trump's fascist tendencies to be overblown, Stanley makes a serious and compelling argument that the dangers of fascism in America are not that distant and can easily come roaring back.

“For fascist politics to take hold, we have to have a failure of our democratic culture,” Stanley explained in an opinion video with NBC News.

“Fascism is ultranationalism, where the nation is defined in racial, ethnic, religious or perhaps cultural identity, and the nation is identified with one person: the leader, who is its voice,” he continued. “Fascist politics is tactics that exploit this kind of us/them distinction. Fascist politics might not result ultimately in a fascist state. But it's important to be attendant to the dangers because in and of itself, it breaks down the democratic culture.”

While Trump is the latest and most prominent embodiment of this trend, it's nothing new in American politics, he argued.

“We should be very worried. We already have a long history of racial divisiveness in this country. And we've expanded those techiques to other groups, to immigrant groups And we can slip back very quickly — we have slipped back very quickly,” he added.

He also noted several features of Trump's Republican party that are key indicators of fascist tactics: “When conspiracy theories become the coin of politics; rallies where the leader is one with his supporters; diviiding people into the enemy versus the leader's supporters.”

Watch the video below:

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New Hampshire Judge Strikes Down Shameless GOP Attempt to Disenfranchise the Poor

October 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

SB3 was just one of multiple attempts by Chris Sununu and the GOP to restrict the vote in the Granite State.

On Monday, in a victory for voting rights, a GOP law in New Hampshire that threatened to suppress turnout in November's elections was struck down by a state judge.

Senate Bill 3, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu last year, would have required New Hampshire voters to provide documentation proving they are “domiciled” in the town where they are voting if they register to vote within 30 days of the election. Those who fail to provide the documentation would have still been able to vote, but would have to give a signature of attestation and submit the documents in the following weeks, or face investigation at their place of residence and possible penalties for voter fraud.

Voting rights groups say the bill's requirements were confusing, would increase lines at polling places, and make it impossible for the homeless to vote.

Hillsborough Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown agreed, in his ruling for the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, who filed a lawsuit along with multiple New Hampshire residents who were struggling to register to vote.

In his ruling, Brown pointed to experts who testified that the new voter registration forms required by the law “would be incredibly difficult for the average adult to read and understand,” and wrote that the plaintiffs “presented credible testimony that the negative impact of SB3 will be greater for certain groups of people.” He ordered New Hampshire to revert to the voter registration forms in use in 2016.

Sununu blasted the ruling, saying, “As the first in the nation presidential primary state, we have an obligation to ensure the integrity of our election.” ACLU of New Hampshire attorney Henry Klementowicz called the ruling “a big victory for voters in New Hampshire,” noting that “SB3 does nothing to make our elections more secure while at the same time throwing up difficult roadblocks to voting for some of the most disadvantaged populations.”

Ever since New Hampshire came under unified Republican control …read more


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You Don’t Have to Screw People Over to Survive

October 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Valerie Vande Panne, Independent Media Institute

How Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is healing people and the planet—one label at a time.

“You don’t have to fuck people over to survive” are wise words I once heard radical comic book artist Seth Tobocman chant, repeatedly. It’s also the title of one of his books. Those words have stayed with me, and I’m a bit surprised more people don’t echo that sentiment.

But one man—and his family business—does.

Dr. Bronner’s.

You might have seen Dr. Bronner’s soap for sale at your local health food store. The labels are legendary, and plenty of look-alikes have popped up, but only Dr. Bronner’s has the All One! manifesto written in tiny font on the label.

This manifesto—principles of uniting humanity—is the reason for the soap. In other words, the soap is used to sell the label, not the other way around.

“We view our commerce, Dr. Bronner’s soap company, solely in terms of promoting Dr. Bronner’s vision of a peaceful, united world across religious and ethnic divides,” says David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s and the family’s fifth-generation soap maker. His grandfather was Dr. Emil Bronner, whose manifesto is on the label.

In keeping with his grandfather’s ethos, the company caps salary at 5:1, meaning the highest-paid people in the company cannot make more than five times the lowest-paid employee.

To them, All One! means all the people who touch all of the ingredients in all of Dr. Bronner’s products are respected, throughout the supply chain, from farm to market. Dr. Bronner’s treats all with dignity, and strives to ensure they aren’t exploited.

In modern commodity markets, says David, workers and farmers have no visibility. The conditions they work in and the destructive environments they are subjected to are hidden. Children could be picking the coconuts that are used in your coconut oil, but the way the commodity market works, you’d never know it, he says. Coconut oil brokers, he adds, are exploitative. Those exploitative conditions exist in every prospect of the commodities used in everyday products.

Dr. Bronner’s practices …read more


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Glowing 'Headless Chicken Monster' Caught on Film

October 22, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Enipniastes eximia, the “headless chicken monster”

Scientists using a new underwater camera system recently captured footage of a strange creature known as the “headless chicken monster” swimming about a mile deep in the Southern Ocean near Australia.

Resembling a chicken with its head cut off, sporting tentacles and waving fins, the creature has a fancy scientific name (Enypniastes eximia), but is more commonly known as the swimming sea cucumber or Spanish dancer, in honor of those frilly fins.

Recorded sightings of the “monster” go back at least to the late 19th century, shortly after an expedition aboard the converted British Navy vessel HMS Challenger launched the modern study of oceanography, discovering some 4,700 new species of animals and plants at all levels of the ocean. In 1882, for example, scientists spotted Enypniastes eximia for the first time in Peruvian waters.

Still, this is only the second time in history the creature has been caught on film. It swims at such great depths that scientists still don’t know too much about it, including how many may exist all over the world.

They do know that despite its monstrous appearance, the swimming sea cucumber actually serves an important function by consuming, breaking down and recycling the waste of other animals on the ocean floor. Past research has found that the creatures actually glow, thanks to the presence of bioluminescent granules in their jelly-like flesh, and that their skin is so sticky it rubs off on would-be predators, leaving tell-tale glowing patches on the attackers’ skin.

The newly filmed headless chicken monster was discovered around 2,500 miles off the southwest corner of Australia by a team employing new underwater camera technology developed for commercial long-line fishing. The cameras were attached to fishing lines that can be dropped nearly two miles below the water’s surface.

“We had no idea what it was,” Dirk Welsford, the program leader for the Australian Antarctic Division and one of the researchers who spotted the creature, told the New York Times. “It looks a bit like a chicken just before you put it in the oven.”

This Chicken Lived for Two Years Without a Head (TV-PG; 1:49)

The swimming sea cucumber has been filmed once before, in the Gulf of Mexico in 2017. But it had never been seen so far south, Welsford said.

Reports of mysterious sea “monsters” go back as …read more


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Trump Official Contradicts the President's Fearmongering About 'Middle Easterners' Crossing the Mexican Border

October 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

If his lips are moving, lies are coming out.

As the pressure of the upcoming midterm elections bears down on President Donald Trump, he's lashing out in the most predictable way possible: by targetting immigrants and people of color.

He has become obsessed with the caravan of immigrants who have left Honduras seeking better opportunities further north and in the United States. Of course, he's not really interested in solving any of the problems related to why these people feel the need to leave or what a just American immigration policy would look like — he just wants to fearmonger.

And of course, he's using lies to do it.


“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,” Trump tweeted Monday. “I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!”

CNN's Jessica Schneider reported that, according to a source she spoke to, this claim was completely baseless.

“A senior counterterrorism official tells me, when I asked about this tweet from @POTUS, 'we do not see any evidence that ISIS or other Sunni terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate the southern U.S. border,'” she tweeted.

And as Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale pointed out, those actually covering the caravan completely contradict Trump's claims.

“At least four journalists travelling with the caravan have said they've seen nobody from the Middle East or heard of anybody from the Middle East,” wrote Dale. “This is nonsense piled upon nonsense, Muslim fearmongering piled upon Latino fearmongering.”

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Here Are 5 Major Trump Scandals that You’ve Already Completely Forgotten About

October 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

He's a torrent of controversy — so much so that it's hard to remember them all.

Since being sworn into office on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has been the most scandal-ridden president since Richard Nixon. In fact, those who are old enough to remember Watergate—including prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, journalists Dan Rather and Carl Bernstein and former White House Counsel John Dean—have expressed a strong feeling of déjà vu when comparing the Trump and Nixon eras. But with Trump, the scandals came much quicker in his presidency: Nixon was into his second term as president when Watergate entered the public consciousness, whereas Trump’s administration was surrounded by controversy, turmoil and chaos from the beginning. And it is difficult to keep track of Trump’s scandals because there are so many of them.

No sooner is Trump’s former campaign Paul Manafort agreeing to plead guilty to criminal charges and cooperate in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation than Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is being accused of sexual abuse by three different women—and no sooner is the controversial Kavanaugh confirmed to the High Court than one is distracted by the torture and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Trump’s anemic, pathetic response to an international scandal. With Trump’s presidency, the scandals never end.

Here are five Trump-related scandals that the public has already forgotten about.

1. Michael Flynn’s Legal Problems

In December 2017, the Trump Administration’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pled guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with Mueller’s investigation. Flynn admitted that when the FBI spoke to him, he lied about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But Flynn’s legal problems have often been overshadowed by the legal problems of other Trump associates, including Manafort,  Michael Cohen (Trump’s former personal attorney) and Rick Gates (a former Trump campaign aide and the star witness in Manafort’s first trial).

2. Trump’s Response to Hurricane Maria

On September 28, 2017, Trump boasted on Twitter that his response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was “amazing.” But many Puerto Ricans have a very different view, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín …read more


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How Henry VIII’s Divorce Led to Reformation

October 22, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Once titled ‘defender’ of the Catholic church, Henry’s personal circumstances would drive him to break his Catholic ties and found the Church of England.

King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

When Martin Luther issued grievances about the Catholic Church in 1521, King Henry VIII took it upon himself to personally repudiate the arguments of the Protestant Reformation leader. The pope rewarded Henry with the lofty title of Fidei Defensor, or Defender of the Faith.

Barely a decade later, the very same Henry VIII would break decisively with the Catholic Church, accept the role of Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolve the nation’s monasteries, absorbing and redistributing their massive property as he saw fit.

So what changed? How did the former “Defender of the Faith” end up ushering in the English Reformation?

King Henry VIII wanted out from his first marriage.

Though early signs of anticlericalism had surfaced in England by the 1520s, Catholicism still enjoyed widespread popular support. As for Henry VIII, he “had no wish and no need to break with the church,” says Andrew Pettegree, professor of history at the University of St. Andrews (U.K.). “No need because he already enjoyed substantial power over the English church and its income…And he had no wish also, because he was personally rather pious.”

But by 1527, Henry had a big problem: His first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, had failed to produce a son and male heir to the throne. Henry had also become infatuated with one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn, whose sister Mary had previously been his lover. Anne encouraged the king’s attentions, but shrewdly refused to become his mistress, setting her sights on a higher goal.

So Henry asked Pope Clement VII to grant him a divorce from Catherine. He argued that the marriage was against God’s will, due to the fact that she had briefly been married to Henry’s late brother, Arthur.

The trial of Catherine of Aragon.

Henry faced unfavorable papal politics.

Under other circumstances, it wouldn’t have been too difficult for England’s king to get a papal dispensation to set aside his first wife and marry another in order to produce a male heir. “There was a clear understanding among the princely houses of Europe that the continuation of the dynasty was the ruler’s number one priority,” says Andrew Pettegree, professor …read more


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The Crown Prince Is a Total Fraud

October 22, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

After spending the last two weeks lying about Saudi journalist
Jamal Khashoggi — claiming that he left the consulate in
Istanbul — Riyadh is lying again. He died, the regime now
insists, in a fist fight. The royal family left
unexplained the arrival and sudden departure of a 15-man squad
including a forensics specialist carrying a bone saw. More
important, where is the body, if Khashoggi’s death was

Some apologists for the House of Saud have been trashing him.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson even abandoned the pretense of
Christian principles in citing the employment value of selling arms
to the Saudis. Blaming the murder victim is ludicrous: I met him
more than once and he was a complicated figure, with connections to
the royal family and past friendliness toward political Islam.
However, he leaned in a liberal direction and pushed for greater
freedom in a region that desperately needs to overthrow Islamic
fundamentalists and licentious princes alike. Freedom House only
rates one Arab nation, Tunisia, as free, and three others as partly
free. The rest are unfree — Saudi Arabia ostentatiously

Khashoggi went into exile because the supposedly reforming crown
prince punished even modest dissent. Khashoggi died because he
dared criticize a regime which continues to oppress its own people,
suppress the slightest hint of political and religious liberty,
destabilize the Middle East, promote radical Islamism around the
world, including in America, and underwrite violent jihadists in
Syria and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia is everything that it accuses
Iran of being. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s misrule is
harming American interests.

The House of Saud is no
friend of America, and its bogus “modernizer” must go.

While running for office President Donald Trump appeared to see
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plain. There certainly were no shared
values. He called the Saudis “bullies, cowards.”
National interests occasionally overlapped, but candidate Trump
realized that the KSA demonstrated an unfortunate warmth toward
violent Islamists. He complained that the Saudis were “paying
ISIS.” And, like so many other nominal allies, he recognized
that Riyadh was determined to leave the heavy lifting to

The U.S. never should have kowtowed to the Saudi royals. Decades
ago rising energy demand allowed OPEC members to raise prices but
cheating always undermined the group’s effectiveness as a
monopoly seller. More recently new oil discovers, buttressed by
supplies from fracking, dramatically limited reduced Riyadh’s

During the Cold War a Soviet lunge into the Persian Gulf would
have dramatically impacted the world energy market. However,
prophecies of the end of Western industrial activity inflated
Soviet capabilities. In any case, the prospect of outside control
long ago vanished.

Any attempt by Riyadh to wield …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Exclusionary History of Voter Registration Dates to 1800

October 22, 2018 in History

By John Seven

In the first presidential election, only white, land-owning men were allowed to vote—and some founding fathers wanted to keep it that way.

The inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States.

When George Washington was elected as the first U.S. president in 1789, he won with a landslide, securing 69 out of 69 available electoral votes. But only a very limited part of the population had actually voted since white property owners were the only group of Americans allowed to participate in the election.

Some of the founding fathers wanted to keep it that way. John Adams warned in a 1776 letter that expanding voting rights to other parts of the population was a “dangerous” idea. “New Claims will arise. Women will demand a Vote. Lads from 12 to 21 will think their Rights not enough attended to, and every Man, who has not a Farthing, will demand an equal Voice with any other in all Acts of State,” he wrote.

Despite Adams’ misgivings, voting rights did eventually broaden—by 1856, property ownership was no longer a factor, in 1870 African Americans secured the right to vote, followed by women in 1920 and Native Americans in 1924. But a system of state-run voter registration, first established in Massachusetts in 1800, has often proven to be more of a roadblock to would-be voters than an invitation to participate in democracy.

“In some places, voter registration was designed to hinder political machines and to make it harder for people to register and to vote,” says Alex Keysarr, a historian at Harvard University and author of the book The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. “After some early quarrels, the machines generally learned how to cope with new registration rules and made sure that their people were registered and voting. But many immigrant workers, and, of course, African Americans elsewhere, were prevented from voting.”

The efforts in various states to create voter registration systems did have the stated purpose of bringing, as Keysarr says, “honest, fair, and uncorrupted elections” that voters did benefit from. But voter registration also became a battleground across the nation with vying political factions manipulating the execution of these laws to favor votes for their side.

Voter registration was set up to prevent fraud, but sometimes created it.

Throughout the states, voter registries were stalled in …read more


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The U.S.-Saudi Alliance Was in Trouble Long Before Jamal Khashoggi’s Death

October 22, 2018 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in
Istanbul has left Washington reeling — and Riyadh bewildered.
Whether Saudi leaders didn’t expect to get caught, or simply
believed themselves above reproach, they appear to have been
taken by surprise at the outpouring of

Indeed, Khashoggi’s death feels like a watershed moment in
the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Suddenly, many in Washington are
finally willing to admit that Saudi Arabia — a country they
have long treated as a friend and partner — is little more
than another murderous Middle East dictatorship. The White House
may still be supportive, but newspapers are printing criticism, think tanks are returning Saudi money, and Congress is actively considering sanctions.

This moment has been a long time coming. Khashoggi’s
murder caps years of growing dissatisfaction about the Saudi
alliance. Like a failing marriage, the United States and Saudi
Arabia have long been drifting apart. Diverging U.S.-Saudi
interests, and an increasingly reckless Saudi foreign policy have
taken their toll on the relationship, even as domestic repression
has grown inside Saudi Arabia. As Sen. Chris Murphy noted in a recent op-ed:

When I came to Congress a little more than 10 years ago, support
for Saudi Arabia was broad and bipartisan. But now… more and more
of us are wondering whether our ally’s actions are in our own
best interests.

Indeed, while some argue that the problem with the U.S.-Saudi
relationship is a conflict between American interests and values,
it’s no longer clear that American interests are well-served
by a close relationship with the Saudis. If policymakers follow
through, the dissident’s death could provide the opportunity
to — finally — distance the United States from its
toxic Saudi ally.

‘The Most Significant Reform
Underway Anywhere in the Middle

It hardly matters whether Khashoggi’s death was accidental
— part of a botched interrogation or planned abduction, or
even a fight as the Saudi government now claims
— or intentional. The brutal murder of the U.S. permanent
resident in Turkey marks a new low in U.S.-Saudi relations.

Yet Khashoggi’s murder is notable only for its brutality
and his western connections. If indeed the Saudis originally
intended to return him to Riyadh, he would be far from the first
expatriate kidnapped in this way since Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman — or MBS, as he is often known — began his
ascent to power. One royal prince even found his plane to Cairo
mysteriously diverted to Riyadh and members of his entourage
subdued by armed flight attendants.

Since …read more

Source: OP-EDS