You are browsing the archive for 2018 October 23.

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Internet Blasts Trump's Weak and Bizarre Comments About Saudi Plot to Kill Khashoggi

October 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

The president issued a very bizarre, halfhearted statement condemning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. People didn't buy it.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump finally came out and blamed Saudi Arabia for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But his choice of language was notably bizarre, almost as if he was blaming them more for being caught than for actually committing the atrocity.

“They had a very bad original concept,” said Trump. “It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Very simple. Bad deal, should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up.”

In short time, Twitter was full of criticism of Trump's remark.

As if bringing home the point that he didn't really object to the crime itself that much, Trump added that he is still opposed to canceling arms deals with Saudi Arabia, something allied countries like Germany are already starting to do. Such a move, he insists, would only be “hurting ourselves.”

Trump has been very slow to react to Khashoggi's alleged murder in the Turkish consulate by Saudi officials as retribution for his criticisms of the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, which Turkish officials say followed …read more


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Border Patrol Agents Attend Private Screening of White Nationalist Film

October 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

“Killing Free Speech” connects Muslims and immigrants to gang rape and glorifies the Proud Boys. The Border Patrol's main union just endorsed it after a private screening.

On Tuesday, The Intercept reported that the National Border Patrol Council — the union representing agents of the U.S. Border Patrol — endorsed the far-right film “Killing Free Speech,” after its agents were treated to a private screening in San Diego:

The nearly hour-and-half-long video refers to Democrats as “dark and evil” and features a bevy of American and European far-right, anti-Muslim white nationalists who make a correlation between gang rapes, Islam, and immigration. The documentary also features members of the Proud Boys, a hate group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, that often aligns with white nationalists and are known for being misogynists and anti-Muslim. The Proud Boys participated in the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in mid-October several members of the Proud Boys were arrested in New York City after a violent street confrontation with anti-fascists.

In a press release, the NBPC describes “Killing Free Speech” as a “powerful spotlight on the terrifying assault on liberty in America today. A country heading down the road toward Orwellian control of information by a small but powerful cabal.” The release also invites viewers of the video to “dissect the daily propaganda used by the mainstream media who will stop at nothing to mislead the public and discredit and demonize those who risk their lives protecting America’s borders.”

The movie was directed by Michael Hansen, a Danish immigrant whose previous work, “Killing Europe,” depicts immigrants to Europe as causing a rape crisis. On his film's Vimeo page, Hansen brags about how the Border Patrol was involved in his project, saying “for the first time, Border Patrol agents agreed to be filmed to expose the media lies & smears about our agents and the crisis at the border.”

The Border Patrol has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with a recent report detailing 116 incidents between 2009 and 2004 in which agents physically or sexually abused Central American child migrants between the …read more


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'There Is No Immigration Emergency': Conservative Writer Refutes Trump's 'Cynical Ploy' to Whip Up Bigotry Ahead of Midterms

October 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

His midterm strategy is simple: lie, lie, lie.

Media outlets have followed President Donald Trump's lead in making the caravan of immigrants moving through Central America a major news story, despite the fact that it poses no real danger to the United States.

As conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot explained in a new piece Tuesday, the concerns about the caravan are part of a scheme to scare voters into voting for the GOP in the upcoming midterm elections.

“This is simply Trump’s cynical ploy to use racism and xenophobia as voter-turnout tools,” said Boot. “And Republicans are happy to go along with the self-proclaimed 'nationalist.' The GOP, my former party, used to dog-whistle to racists. Now it’s a wolf whistle.”

The fact is, there's little reason for Americans to be concerned about the caravan.

Boot explained:

There is no immigration emergency. Apprehensions of migrants along the southwestern border peaked at 1.64 million people in 2000. In 2017, there were only 303,916 apprehensions – a 81.5 percent decline. More Mexican immigrants are leaving America than arriving. The reason Trump is having a cow is because, after declining for his first few months in office, apprehensions increased in 2018, although they still generally remain below 2016 levels. Trump hasn’t built his vaunted border wall, and he hasn’t gotten Mexico to pay for it. But simply because Trump hasn’t succeeded in carrying out his fanciful campaign promises doesn’t mean we face an “existential” threat – as Newt Gingrich puts it – from dark-skinned newcomers.

And of course, all the anxiety and warnings about the caravan seem to ignore the fact that there was another caravan in April, which likewise never brought any danger to the United States.

“Conveniently enough, Trump and his amen chorus at Fox 'News' never bother to recall their meltdown over a similar caravan of refugees in April,” wrote Boot. “Did that caravan unleash marauding hordes to rape and pillage? Nope. Most of the migrants stopped well short of the U.S. border. Some stayed in Mexico; others returned home. The Border Patrol reported catching all of <a target=_blank …read more


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Who Represents You—Peacemakers, Warmongers or Fence Sitters?

October 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Medea Benjamin , Nicolas J. S. Davies, Independent Media Institute

Don’t go to the polls without this guide to voting records of incumbents.

As a foreign policy crisis explodes over the apparent Saudi assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, the failure of the U.S. Congress to assert its constitutional war powers over three years of illegal U.S. military action in the war on Yemen and booming U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners is finally coming home to roost.

The UN already reported two years ago that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, wracked by the war and its consequences, including malnutrition, diphtheria, cholera and other preventable diseases. Data already showed that more than a third of Saudi-led airstrikes were hitting schools, hospitals, markets, mosques and other civilian sites. But none of the dire warnings by UN agencies and NGOs could trigger the constitutionally required debate and decisive action by the U.S. Congress. Even now, the Trump administration is trying desperately to salvage its blood-soaked arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Yet as early voting gets under way across the country, congressional campaigns have focused mainly on domestic issues and personality politics, with almost nothing to say about the war in Yemen or other critical questions of war, peace and record military spending. The elephant in the room that none of them want to discuss is that Congress keeps handing more than 60 percent of discretionary federal funds over to a military-industrial complex whose recent wars have only succeeded in plunging half a dozen countries into intractable violence and chaos, leaving vital domestic priorities permanently underfunded.

To fill this dangerous vacuum and help voters make critical decisions at the voting booth, the CODEPINK 2018 Peace Voter’s Guide and Divestment Record has gathered data on arms industry campaign contributions from Open Secrets and the peace voting records of every Member of Congress from Peace Action, and published them all in one place for easy reference.

We invite voters to check out the Peace Voter’s Guide to see where your senators and representatives stand …read more


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The Biggest Landslide in Midterm Election History

October 23, 2018 in History

By Greg Timmons

Democrats in 1894 knew it would be bad, but they didn’t know their losses would be historic.

Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, circa 1890.

Leading up to the November midterms in 1894, the Democrats were in trouble. Democratic President Grover Cleveland, elected just two years prior, was facing a catastrophic recession, a railroad strike and an army of jobless workers demonstrating in Washington, D.C. for relief.

Party leaders knew the democrats could have a bad showing—but they did not realize just how bad it would be. In the end, democrats lost more than 100 seats in Congress in the largest single turnover of power in American history.

The Republicans taking over Congress was another big defeat for Cleveland, who had been elected for his first term in 1884 only to lose four years later to Benjamin Harrison. He was reelected in 1892 but was facing one of the nation’s biggest economic depressions, the Panic of 1893.

Traditionally, the Congressional midterms serve as a referendum on a president’s performance. Over the past 100 years only two presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush, have had their party actually gain seats in a midterm election. So why was the 1894 election so punishing for a president who had been elected twice?

A 1893 political cartoon, by Charles Jay Taylor, showing President Cleveland as a railroad engineer driving a locomotive through the ‘Business Depression Tunnel’, knocking out of the way legislators who are placing ‘Dilatory Amendments’ and ‘Teller’s Dilatory Tactics’ on the tracks, trying to derail the train.

It’s the economy, stupid.

During the Gilded Age of the late 19 century, there was ample economic growth, but much of it was dependent on high prices on basic goods. For half a decade prior, the grain market had suffered from over production, storms and then drought. In 1893, the wheat market crashed and several other commodity items followed suit.

The transportation industry was heavily dependent on the massive agricultural market and when that crashed, it was only a matter of time before financially weaker railroad companies would fall. The first was the critically overextended Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. Twelve days before Cleveland was inaugurated, the company went into bankruptcy. During the panic period, another 50 railroads would go under. Thirty steel companies would collapse in their wake.

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Photos After Death: Post-Mortem Portraits Preserved Dead Family

October 23, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Couple Holding Daughter Wearing a Pink Dress

Daguerreotype 1/6 plate, Tinted, circa 1846

View the 6 images of this gallery on the original article

In the 1800s, taking a photo of a dead body wasn’t creepy—it was comforting. In an era when photos were expensive and many people didn’t have any pictures of themselves when they were alive, post-mortem photography was a way for families to remember their deceased loved ones. This was especially true for children, whose mortality rate was much higher than it is now.

“We look at them today sort of with shock and awe, but…these photographs were taken in love,” says Elizabeth Burns, creative and operations director at the Burns Archive, where the photos from this gallery come from.

Post-mortem photography began shortly after photography’s introduction in 1839. In these early days, no one really posed the bodies or cleaned them up. A poorer family might lay a nice dress across the body of a person who died in shabbier clothes before a photographer took a picture, but there was little beautifying of the corpse. In one of the pictures in this gallery, you can even see blood coming out of the deceased person’s mouth.

Because people during this period died in their homes rather than hospitals, photographers made house calls to take these pictures. Americans kept the photos in hard cases that they might display on their mantel or keep in private. In Europe, it was more common to frame these photos and hang them on the wall. Europeans also took pictures of dead celebrities like Victor Hugo and sold them as cards.

Towards the turn of the century, parents and photographers began to pose their deceased children for these photos by fixing their hair, dressing them up or even opening their eyes. Family members and photographers would also place certain objects in the picture to symbolize life, death and the constant march of time. A drum symbolized “the beating of the drum of death, of the end of life,” Burns says. Other symbols included an upside-down watch, an hourglass or flowers.

Post-mortem photographs became less common in the 20th century as death moved into medical facilities and photography became cheaper and more accessible. Once it became common for people of different income levels to have pictures taken during their life, there was less need to capture their image in death.

…read more


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How Ben Franklin's Viral Political Cartoon United the 13 Colonies

October 23, 2018 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon was so effective it rallied the colonies and influenced politics throughout two wars.

Benjamin Franklin’s warning to the British colonies in America: “Join or Die.”

Anyone on social media knows the power of memes to drive home an argument and influence others’ views. But the tactic of using a viral image to persuade people goes back to long before the existence of the Internet or Facebook. One of its earliest practitioners was American founding father Benjamin Franklin who, in 1754, published a cartoon, “Join or Die,” depicting a snake severed into pieces that symbolized the American colonies.

Franklin’s goal was to unite the colonists to combat the French and their Native American allies, and to convince the British government to support a unified colonial government in America. He didn’t achieve that goal, but the image was so powerful and persuasive that it took on a life of its own. A few years later, in the prelude to the Revolutionary War, colonists repurposed it as a symbol of their unity against British rule.

The cartoon was a warning during the French and Indian War.

The story of the first viral image in American political history began in May 1754, when Franklin, then the publisher of a newspaper called the Pennsylvania Gazette, sought to drum up support for a unified colonial government. He wrote an impassioned editorial, in which he warned of hordes of French intruders converging on the western frontier in Ohio. “Many more French are expected from Canada,” he wrote. “The Design being to establish themselves, settle their Indians, and build Forts just on the Back of our Settlements in all our Colonies; from which Forts, as they did from Crown-Point, they may send out their Parties to kill and scalp the Inhabitants, and ruin the Frontier Counties.”

But if that horrific scenario weren’t enough to motivate his readers, Franklin also illustrated it with what he called an “emblem”—a woodcut of a snake cut into sections, with the caption “Join or Die.” The identity of the actual artist who created the image isn’t known, but the concept may have been inspired by an illustration in a book published in France in 1685, which showed a snake cut in two with the slogan, se rejoindre ou mourir (“will …read more


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This Ancient Greek Vessel is the World’s Oldest Intact Shipwreck

October 23, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

An Ancient Greek ship at the bottom of the Black Sea was digitally mapped by two remote underwater vehicles.

Off the Bulgarian coast, just over a mile beneath the surface of the Black Sea, archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the world’s oldest intact shipwreck.

Measuring some 75 feet (23 meters) long, the ship is thought to be an ancient Greek trading vessel. With its mast still standing, and its rudders and rowing benches still in place, it has lain undisturbed on the ocean floor for more than 2,400 years.

Long an important trade route between Europe and Asia, the Black Sea was particularly so in the ancient world, when Greek ships sailed from the Mediterranean carrying goods to its many colonies lining the Black Sea coast.

An Anglo-Bulgarian team from the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) discovered the intact shipwreck as part of its three-year mission to explore the Black Sea’s depths and understand prehistoric sea-level changes that still have an impact today. Using sonar as well as deep-sea diving robots, the team has turned up more than 60 wrecks, including Roman trading ships and a Cossack trading fleet dating to the 17th century.

“There are ships down there that have never been seen, apart from in murals and paintings and in books, and these are the first time they have been seen since they were afloat,” Edward Parker, CEO of Black Sea MAP, told the Guardian.

The ancient Siren Vase displaying the ship of Odysseus

Fans of classical literature and art might recognize the newly discovered vessel as the type painted on ancient Greek pottery, particularly wine vases. One famous example is the Siren Vase, now held in the British Museum; it dates to around 480 B.C. It shows the Homeric hero Odysseus strapped to the mast of his ship as it sailed past the sirens, the sea nymphs who according to Greek mythology were said to lure sailors onto the rocks with their bewitching songs.

The ship has remained so well preserved because the waters around it are anoxic, or completely devoid of oxygen. Otherwise, like most ancient shipwrecks, it would have been eroded or damaged by marine animals and bacteria over centuries on the ocean floor.

Though they removed a small piece of the ship to be carbon-dated, which confirmed its advanced age, the Black Sea …read more


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Hitler Almost Got Nukes. This WWII Hero Helped Stop Him

October 23, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Former Norwegian war hero and resistance fighter Joachim Ronneberg after receiving the Union Jack Medal for his efforts and cooperation with the British during World War II and especially at Vemork in Norway in 1943.

When World War II broke out in Norway, Joachim Ronneberg was a surveyor. A few years later, he was a hero, the leader of an almost suicidal mission to bring down the lynchpin of Nazi Germany’s nuclear program. Reuters reports that Ronneberg died on October 21, 2018. He was 99 years old.

The Norwegian’s life changed forever when Germany invaded Norway in 1940. Like many other members of the Norwegian military, Ronneberg managed to flee to Britain, where he became involved with the Special Operations Executive, a World War II organization devoted to spying on Nazi activities and sabotaging them.

The SOE trained 23-year-old Ronneberg to lead a daring, almost suicidal mission: penetrate Norway, break into a nuclear plant, and destroy its supply of heavy water, a dangerous substance that can help create weapons-grade plutonium and fuel nuclear reactions. Britain had been tracking Nazi attempts to create a nuclear bomb throughout the war, and worried that Axis forces would use such a weapon to destroy part of Europe.

How Close was Hitler to Launching an A-Bomb? (TV-PG; 3:35)

The lead-up to the operation was a feat in and of itself: Ronneberg and his team had to wait out a brutal blizzard before they could parachute into their location. They skied to the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant in Vemork, Norway on February 28, 1943.

The operation was swift and carefully calculated. Shortly after midnight, the men broke into the plant and rushed inside, ready to knock out guards with chloroform. But once inside, they found that the door their Norwegian contact was supposed to have left unlocked was impassable. Luckily, they had access to building plans supplied by a Norwegian who had designed the plant.

Ronneberg and a fellow operative made their way through a narrow cable shaft, captured a guard, set explosive devices, got out of the compound, and exploded 3,000 pounds of heavy water, the equivalent of five months of factory production. The pair skied away by cover of night. Not a single shot had been fired.

“It was marvelous,” Ronneberg recalled later. He skied over 300 miles until he reached Sweden. Then, according to plan, he took …read more


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The Administration's Fundamental Flaw on Opioid Addiction: Talk of Progress Is Greatly Exaggerated

October 23, 2018 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

The White House plans to stage an event this week celebrating
its accomplishments addressing the opioid overdose deaths crisis.
The event will come a year after the President declared
opioid-related overdoses a national public health emergency, and a
little over a week since the Senate passed and sent to the
President’s desk a bill, H.R. 6, aimed at further combatting the problem. But
Congress and the White House have nothing to boast about. The
policies in place for the past several years, and on which the new
legislation generally doubles down, have only served to drive up
the overdose rate while making patients suffer needlessly in the

Sadly, all that Congress
and the White House have to brag about is a policy that is driving
non-medical users to more dangerous drugs and causing desperate
pain patients to turn to the black market or to suicide for relief.
They should refrain from uncorking the champagne.

Last December the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported that the overdose rate increased 21% from 2015 to 2016. This month the CDC
reported provisional numbers showing another
10% increase in 2017. All of this is happening despite federal and
state efforts, using practice guidelines and prescription
surveillance programs, that have led to a drop in high-dose opioid
prescribing of 41% from 2010 to 2016, and another 16% in 2017. Those same policies have
caused heroin and illicit fentanyl (largely smuggled in from Asia employing drug
cartel infrastructure
) to become the predominant causes of opioid-related overdose
deaths as non-medical users migrated over to those cheaper and more
available drugs. Yet the new legislation provides funding to
augment and enhance prescription surveillance programs.

That’s because the opioid overdose crisis was never really about
doctors treating their patients in pain. It has always primarily
been caused by non-medical users accessing drugs through the
dangerous black market that results from drug prohibition. The
overwhelming majority of those overdose victims have multiple drugs in their system when they
overdose. The New York City Department of Health reported in 2016 that three-quarters of all
overdose deaths were either heroin or fentanyl, and 97% of those
overdose victims have multiple drugs onboard – 46% of the time that
drug included cocaine. This hardly fits the profile of a patient
receiving medical treatment for pain.

This should come as no surprise to policymakers. The National
Survey on Drug Use and Health has been reporting for years that less than 25% …read more

Source: OP-EDS