You are browsing the archive for 2018 October 26.

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Trump Coolly Dismisses the Idea of Giving Obama and Other Targets of Mail Bombings Courtesy Calls: 'We'll Pass'

October 26, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

The president does not want to have to talk to the people whose lives he may have endangered.

The man accused of mailing 13 pipe bombs to various Democratic politicians and public figures, Cesar Sayoc, is safely captured and awaiting trial, but the damage he has done and the rifts he has exposed in our national psyche remain.

But President Donald Trump is unwilling to do even the bare minimum to try to heal the nation. In fact, when CBS asked, he was unwilling even to commit to calling Barack and Michelle Obama, or any of the other people who were targeted with the improvised explosives.

“If they wanted me to, but I think we'll pass,” said Trump. “Thank you very much.”

He added that he did not consider himself responsible for the violent state of political rhetoric in America. “Well, I think I've been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up, because as you know, the media's been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.”

To be clear, Trump has spent a large amount of time, first on the campaign trail and then in office, calling his political opponents “evil,” and suggesting they should be imprisoned, beaten, or even shot — and he singled out by name most of the people who were targeted. Sayoc, for his part, is an avid Trump supporter and registered Republican who attended Trump's rallies and trolled Democrats online. As a matter of basic human decency, or even just protecting his credibility, Trump should want to reach out to the victims and personally disavow what was done in his name.

But the second part of Trump's response was revealing. Far from feeling responsible in any way, he considers himself and the Republican Party to be the victims …read more


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Obama Slams Republicans for Their History of Cynical Lies: 'They Didn't Care About Emails!"

October 26, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

He unloaded on the years of unfair attacks.

While speaking at an event Friday in the runup to the 2018 midterm elections, President Barack Obama let loose on Republican politicians and conservative media who dogged his entire term in office with cynical lies to whip up fears of the conservative base.

Obama pointed out that, during elections, Republicans would manufacture crises and controversies in an attempt to attack his presidency and his agenda. But once the election was passed, they could drop the issue entirely and pretend they never cared so much about it, revealing the pernicious ploy.

“In the 2010 midterms, it was: “Government bureaucrats are gonna kill your grandma!' Remember 'death panels'? Just made it up! But that was a thing. 2014: 'Ebola is going to kill all of us!'” Obama said.

And it wasn't just about him. When Hillary Clinton was running for president, they used this tactic against her as well.

“In the last election, it was Hillary's emails! 'This is terrible!' Hillary's emails! We were hearing emails everywhere. 'This is a national security crisis!'” he said.

Obama continued: “They didn’t care about emails! And you know how you know? Because if they did, they’d be up in arms right now as the Chinese are listening to the president’s iPhone that he leaves in his golf cart. It turns out, I guess it wasn't that important!” Watch the clip below:

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After WWI, Hundreds of Politicians Were Murdered in Germany

October 26, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Freikorps units taking to the streets in Berlin during unrest in the years of the Weimar Republic, circa 1923.

Shot in front of their children. Attacked with acid. Murdered while walking away. Germany’s Weimar Republic was a dangerous place for politicians and government officials—and for hundreds of them, it was deadly.

Between 1918 and the mid 1920s, Germany was rocked by murder after murder. The victims all had a connection: they were killed for political reasons. And their deaths were made possible by right-wing extremist groups that played on racism, nationalism, and economic anxiety to stoke fear and hatred. By 1922, at least 354 government members and politicians had been murdered, setting the stage for the Nazi Party, World War II and the Holocaust.

Did WWI Lead to WWII? (TV-PG; 2:18)

The wave of politically motivated murders by paramilitary terrorist groups had its roots in Germany’s defeat in World War I. Over 2 million Germans—including 13 percent of the country’s men—had died during the war. The war effort had sucked Germany’s economy dry. And with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany took on not just the responsibility for the war, but a new governmental structure, new borders, a harsh disarmament plan, and massive reparations.

The country’s leaders signed on to the treaty, but everyday Germans were appalled by its severity. As Germany limped toward a new political reality, adopting a new constitution and forming new political bodies, the country’s economy became even more precarious. Prices began to rise and inflation set in. Food shortages swept through the country; returning soldiers, traumatized and disillusioned by the war, had trouble reintegrating into society.

Against this background, Germany had to create a new government and try to reinstitute law and order. But the ministers and politicians of the newly established Weimar Republic had formidable enemies: their own people. The new republic saw pitched battles between increasingly polarized left and right-wing groups. The early government was seized by left-wing revolutionaries, and communist uprisings roiled the streets.

German Freikorps soldiers, attempting to overthrow the Weimar Republic and reinstall the monarchy, in Berlin, Germany on March 13, 1920. The flag they hold is that of the Imperial German Navy.

In response, private armies called Freikorps fought back. These groups were funded by former officers of the German army, …read more


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A Humiliated Geraldo Rivera Backpedals on Calling Mail Bombs a ‘False Flag’ Attack After Suspect Is Arrested

October 26, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

He had pushed the bogus theory the day before.

Many wingnuts in the far-right media—from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter to Townhall’s John Cardillo—were quick to claim that the series of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats this week was a “false flag” operation designed to discredit President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. But with investigators having found a suspect, veteran television journalist Geraldo Rivera is retracting his “false flag” claims.

Investigators have found a suspect in the pipe bombs: Cesar Altieri Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida resident whose angry, sometimes incoherent posts on social media praised Trump and bitterly attacked former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State/2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder—all of whom were targets.

During an October 25 appearance on Fox Business Channel, Rivera told host Trish Regan that he believed the pipe bombs were an “elaborate hoax.”

“At the risk of sounding like a far-right-wing lunatic,” Rivera told Regan, “I have to say that I believe that this whole thing was an elaborate hoax. I believe that those bombs were never intended to explode. I think those bombs were intended to further divide the American people.”

But the following day on Twitter—after Sayoc’s arrest—Rivera had a very different view.

At 1:17 PM eastern time, Rivera made it clear that he had changed his mind when he posted, “Never mind; outsmarted myself in conjuring false flag operation designed to hurt @realDonaldTrump & #GOP. Actual alleged perp 56-year old #CesarSayoc is apparently stereotype most media assumed: a middle-aged, rabid, extreme right winger w a troubled past & long criminal record.”

Rivera elaborated at 1:31 p.m., tweeting, “#CesarSayoc has long criminal history of extremist behavior-like his 2002 bomb threats-which predate @realDonaldTrump’s political career-He’s a self-started amateur extremist- He didn’t need Trump for inspiration. #Congratulations to #FBI & all those whose lives were disrupted.”

Sayoc is sometimes listed as “Cesar Altieri Randazzo” in his social media posts.

Other major Democrats who pipe bombs were sent to this week include Vice President Joe Biden and actor/director Robert De Niro, both of whom have been highly …read more


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Here's Why the FBI Director's Refusal to Say When He Told Trump About the Bombing Suspect Is So Troubling

October 26, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Christopher Wray seemed uncomfortable with the question.

Even as federal investigators were tracking down and arresting Cesar Sayoc, the suspect in a string of mail bombs sent to top Democratic figures and CNN, President Donald Trump was casting doubt on the reality of the attacks and complaining about the impact they have had on the election.

In one of Trump's tweets about the subject, he put quotes around the word “Bomb” in an apparent attempt to suggest that explosive devices might be fakes. FBI Director Christopher Wray later confirmed that the devices were not hoaxes.

The stark juxtaposition between Trump's reaction and the FBI's professional work prompted many to wonder when the president was informed in the bureau's progress. One reporter asked Wray at a press conference about the FBI's communications with the White House, but the director brushed off the question.

“I'm not going to get into our discussions with the president,” he said.

But despite explicitly refusing to comment on his communications with the president, Wray said he “received a very nice congratulatory call from the president.”

He added: “He, like every American, is and should be proud of the unbelievable work that was done not just by the FBI but by all of our law enforcement partners.”

It was a troubling sign that the director refused to answer a question that might make the president looks bad. Instead, he gave an answer that cast the president in a positive and grateful light, despite Trump's distaste for the FBI and his apparent skepticism about the attacks. As the head of a quasi-independent agency, Wray should avoid looking like he's boosting the president to help his image.

But more importantly, it's deeply concerning that the president may have been actively stoking suspicions about the reality of the attacks even as the United States' own law enforcement agencies were in direct pursuit of a serious suspect in the matter. If he was fully aware of the FBI's progress in this case and the seriousness of the matter, then it is condemnable behavior. It would mean he has a lack of genuine concern for the safety …read more


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Trump's Victim Mentality: Here Are 5 Times the President Tried to Paint Himself as the Target of Nonstop Persecution

October 26, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Donald Trump dominates the victimhood narrative.

At MSNBC, it isn’t hard to find Bush-era Republicans who are vehement critics of President Donald Trump—and one of them is Elise Jordan, who was a speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice (secretary of state under the George W. Bush Administration) and is now a Time Magazine contributor and frequent MSNBC guest. Jordan, true to form, was quite critical of the president during an October 26 appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”—asserting that Trump is promoting “victimhood culture.” In the past, Jordan explained to hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, she criticized Democrats for having a message of victimhood rather than a message of empowerment. But these days, according to Jordan, Trump dominates the victimhood narrative. And, to be sure, the president loves to paint himself as a target of endless, nonstop persecution.

Trump is great at playing the role of the bully, but he is also relentless when it comes to painting himself as a victim. Here are five examples of the president playing the victim card rather than engaging in a meaningful discussion.

1. Trump Paints Himself as a Victim of Robert Mueller

In countless Twitter posts, Trump has characterized Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia-related investigation as a Democratic “witch hunt” aimed at his presidency. One of his favorite phrases to use in connection with Mueller’s probe is “13 angry Democrats.” But Trump neglects to mention that Mueller is a lifelong Republican and a right-wing conservative who was appointed to head the FBI by none other than President George W. Bush.  

In a typical May 29 tweet, Trump tried to discredit Mueller when he posted, “The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls. There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

2. Trump Views Paul Manafort Prosecution as an Attack on His Presidency 

One can learn a lot about Trump’s tactics by reading his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal”—including his mastery of playing the …read more


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Photos Reveal Shocking Conditions of Tenement Slums in Late 1800s

October 26, 2018 in History

By Madison Horne

Photographer Jacob Riis exposed the grim and unsafe conditions of NYC immigrant tenements.

Jacob Riis worked as a police reporter for the New York Tribune after immigrating to the United States in 1870. Throughout the late 19th century, a large part of his work uncovered the lifestyle of the city’s tenement slums.

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

New immigrants to New York City in the late 1800s faced grim, cramped living conditions in tenement housing that once dominated the Lower East Side. During the 19th century, immigration steadily increased, causing New York City’s population to double every year from 1800 to 1880. To accommodate the city’s rapid growth, every inch of the city’s poor areas was used to provide quick and cheap housing options.

Houses that were once for single families were divided to pack in as many people as possible. Walls were erected to create extra rooms, floors were added, and housing spread into backyard areas. To keep up with the population increase, construction was done hastily and corners were cut. Tenement buildings were constructed with cheap materials, had little or no indoor plumbing and lacked proper ventilation. These cramped and often unsafe quarters left many vulnerable to rapidly spreading illnesses and disasters like fires.

Jacob Riis, who immigrated to the United States in 1870, worked as a police reporter who focused largely on uncovering the conditions of these tenement slums. However, his leadership and legacy in social reform truly began when he started to use photography to reveal the dire conditions in the most densely populated city in America. His work appeared in books, newspapers and magazines and shed light on the atrocities of the city, leaving little to be ignored.

In 1890, Riis compiled his work into his own book titled, How the Other Half Lives. As he wrote, “every man’s experience ought to be worth something to the community from which he drew it, no matter what that experience may be.” The eye-opening images in the book caught the attention of then-Police Commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt. Riis’ work would inspire Roosevelt and others to work to improve living conditions of poor immigrant neighborhoods.

Want more HISTORY? Read these stories:

Immigration at Ellis Island: Photos

<a target=_blank …read more


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Brazil's Bolsonaro Is No Friend of Liberty

October 26, 2018 in Economics

By Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Juan Carlos Hidalgo

The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” goes the ancient
proverb. In the case of Brazil, the prospect of the left-wing
Workers’ Party (PT) returning to power has encouraged the
markets and some liberty advocates to enthusiastically support the
candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, a far Right former army captain who is
likely to win the runoff election this Sunday. That is a big

There would be good reasons to worry about a PT victory. It was
under the party’s rule that a complex web of corruption
involving Petrobras and other state-owned companies metastasized.
The Federal Police estimates that up to $12 billion of public funds
were misappropriated, with some observers calling it “the
largest corruption scandal in history.” The purpose of the
scheme was to consolidate the PT as the country’s hegemonic
political force for years to come. The scandal implicated most of
the political establishment—including leading politicians
from other big parties—but the PT adopted the most cynical
attitude to the exposure and prosecution of malfeasance, claiming
it constituted a “right-wing coup” from
“neoliberal elites.”

This defiance was epitomized by the aborted candidacy of former
president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, who is serving a
twelve-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. He was
disqualified from the presidential race by a law that he signed in
2010, which prevents someone with a criminal conviction that has
been upheld on appeal from running for office. Still, he claimed
that his popularity—he was comfortably leading the
polls—was reason enough to let him run and that his detention
was little different from his previous jailing during the military

Populism and
authoritarianism have a terrible record in Latin America. There is
no reason to think that Brazil would be the exception under Jair

Lula was replaced at the top of ticket by Fernando Haddad, a
former mayor of São Paulo. Even though he is a moderate, the PT has
become more radical and is on a quest for vengeance against the
so-called “neoliberal elites.” Proof that the PT moved
to the far left is that its campaign platform calls for a
constituent assembly and political control of federal prosecutors
and judges. During the campaign, instead of highlighting his
moderate credentials and competent record running Brazil’s
largest metropolis, Haddad stressed that he was Lula’s

The other reason to fear the return of the PT is its utter
mismanagement of the economy, particularly during the government of
Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016). Brazil enjoyed an economic bonanza in
the Lula years (2003-2010) that lifted millions from poverty and
swelled the ranks of the middle class. Many poor Brazilians still
credit the PT for this. However, most …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Spear Points Discovered in Texas Are the Oldest Weapons Found in North America

October 26, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

One of the 15,000 year old spear points discovered in Texas.

Researchers in Texas have discovered what they believe are spear points used by human hunters some 15,500 years ago, making them the oldest weapons ever found in North America.

The newly discovered spear points pre-date the earliest known weapons made by the , may force scientists to rethink the accepted wisdom about human settlement in North America—yet again.

A Stemmed Lanceolate projectile point that dates about 15,000 years old.

Archaeologists long believed the first humans to settle in the Americas did so around 13,000 years ago, by walking from Alaska through an ice-free corridor in western Canada before heading southward. But the discovery of the Monte Verde settlement in southern Chile, which dates back at least 14,500 years, poked holes in that theory, as at that time the ice-free route through Canada didn’t exist.

The new discovery of Texas may also help rewrite the long-accepted timeline, and offer potential support for the theory that the earliest Americans may have arrived not by land but by sea, entering at various points along the Pacific Coast.

“The findings expand our understanding of the earliest people to explore and settle North America,” Waters said. “The peopling of the Americas during the end of the last Ice Age was a complex process and this complexity is seen in their genetic record. Now we are starting to see this complexity mirrored in the archaeological record.”

…read more


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Austerity Is Necessary Restraint, Not Some Problem the UK Government Must Throw Off

October 26, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Akey lesson of political messaging is to avoid aping the
language your opponents want you to use. Even worse is compounding
the error by implicitly siding with them in a dispute over the
definition of a term. Yet as Chancellor Philip Hammond and his
Treasury team finalise Monday’s Budget, they find themselves
hemmed in by such a mistake from Theresa May, the Prime Minister.
Specifically, her ill-defined party conference promise to end “austerity” in the coming

Of course, the term “austerity” has been with us
since 2010. Then, after the financial crisis led to a ballooning
budget deficit, the word became synonymous with the deficit
reduction efforts of first the Coalition government and then the
post-2015 Conservative majority.

The debate was a macroeconomic one: Labour arguing against the
extent and speed of deficit reduction, as the Conservatives
countered that “living within our means” was essential.
The public, for what it is worth, always seemed to me to have a
broader conception of austere times: recognising that the
post-crash world would see us poorer than envisaged, necessitating
public spending restraint, but also resulting in a tough broader
private economic environment.

Eight years on, the budget deficit has indeed been brought down
from near 10pc of GDP in 2009-10 to around 2pc today. That kind of
borrowing would probably stabilise debt-to-GDP for a number of
years. But with relatively slow growth expected, it would leave
debt elevated at a historically high level of around 85pc of

What’s more, the pressures of an ageing population will
hugely widen deficits and render current policies unsustainable in
the longer term. No government then, in a deficit reduction sense,
can or should claim we have seen an end to austerity, unless they
are willing to countenance ever-soaring debt in coming decades.

That’s not to say May couldn’t have started painting
a more positive picture of the future. In terms of the additional
deficit reduction required to get debt back on a downward path
sustainably, the end is achievable with a few more years of
restraint. The Prime Minister could have committed her
administration to being unashamedly pro-growth, saying that
policies from here would be geared towards rising productivity and
private wages through much-need supply-side reform.

Instead, though, the PM’s approach has been to give
succour to the Labour Party’s essential critique of the
Conservatives since 2010. By insisting she will end it, she
endorses their view that austerity, rather than being much needed
restraint, is some kind of problem we must throw off.

By saying that the Government intends to close the budget
deficit by the mid-2020s at the same time, she is also helping
redefine …read more

Source: OP-EDS