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Reports of Voter Intimidation at Polling Places in Texas

October 27, 2018 in Blogs

By ProPublica

Election official in Dallas County says it’s the worst she’s seen in decades.

Tempers are flaring during early voting in Dallas County, Texas, and reports of voter intimidation are on the rise. The county’s nonpartisan election administrator said that the harassment — including name-calling and interrogating voters waiting in line — is the worst she’s seen in decades.

“I’ve been here for 30 years, and this harassment that’s going on, I haven’t ever seen the likes of this,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county’s election director. “I’ve seen some other things, props being used and whatnot, but nothing like this type of mentality or aggressiveness or demeaning type of actions.”

At the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas, election administrators received complaints of a partisan poll watcher looking over voter’s shoulders as they cast their ballots and questioning voters on their politics. The person was later escorted out by Mesquite Police Department officers on Monday after refusing to leave the premises, according to Pippins-Poole.

Texas law requires that any form of electioneering — including passing out political literature or advocating for or against candidates or issues — can only occur more than 100 feet outside a polling location. Within that distance, poll workers can kick people out for causing a disturbance. When the nuisance is farther away, Pippins-Poole instructs her poll workers to call law enforcement.

Poll greeters at Dallas’ Lochwood Library reported being “harassed” and “verbally abused” and described a person with a bullhorn driving by yelling about “baby killers,” according to a tweet by the Texas Civil Rights Project, an organization tracking voting-related issues in the state. Despite notifying law enforcement, Pippins-Poole said the person has not been identified and the reports of harassment are ongoing.

At the Richardson Civic Center, multiple reports emerged of a person standing beyond the 100-foot-perimeter accosting voters as they arrived to vote, calling people “bipolar” and “alligators who live in swamps.” A video posted on Twitter by the Texas Civil Rights Project shows a person pacing and yelling about similar subjects.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the incidents reported in Dallas …read more


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'While the Rest of the World Burned,' Billionaires Made More Money in 2017 Than Any Other Year in History

October 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age.”

During a year in which so much of the world faced deep poverty, the corrosive effects of austerity, and extreme weather caused by the worsening human-caused climate crisis—from devastating hurricanes to deadly wildfires and floods—one class of individuals raked in more money in 2017 than any other year in recorded history: the world's billionaires.

“No money for health or infrastructure, all the money in the world for yachts.”

—Josh ShepperdAccording to the Swiss bank UBS's fifth annual billionaires report published on Friday, billionaires across the globe increased their wealth by $1.4 trillion last year—an astonishing 20 percent—bringing their combined wealth to $8.9 trillion.

“The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age,” the UBS report notes. “That period bred generations of families in the U.S. and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy, and the arts for more than 100 years.”

UBS estimates that the world now has a total of 2,158 billionaires, with 179 billionaires created last year. The United States alone is home to 585 billionaires—the most in the world—up from 563 in 2017.

Meanwhile, according to a June report by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston, 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty and “5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

A significant percentage of the “newly created” billionaires are hardly the self-made men—and they are overwhelmingly men—of popular lore. According to UBS, 40 of the 179 new billionaires created last year inherited their wealth—a trend that has driven an explosion of wealth inequality over the past several decades.

According to UBS, this trend will continue to accelerate over the next 20 years, given that there are currently 701 billionaires over the age of 70.

“A major wealth transition has begun. Over the past five years (2012–2017), the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17 percent each year,” the UBS report concludes. “Over the next two decades …read more


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America’s 'Free Speech Crisis' Just Took a Very Dark Turn For the Worse

October 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Jim Sleeper, Salon

From the “free speech” campaign of 2015 to cry-bully Brett Kavanaugh and the bombs of October: A brief history

During the 2015-16 academic year, when explosive packages and political street violence weren't on our minds, a lavishly funded, brilliantly orchestrated “free speech” campaign drew sensation-hungry media into dramatizing the grave danger to Americans’ freedoms of expression and inquiry posed by petulant, censorious “cry-bully” college students, their coddling campus mentors and parents, and an ideology of racial and sexual “political correctness” enveloping our society.

“Free speech” crusaders roamed the campuses, taping screaming students and ballyhooing overreach by university sexual-harassment tribunals, stereotyping and smearing thousands of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter supporters and debt-staggered students of every description who were protesting responsibly against wrongs they had plenty of good reasons to be frightened and angry about.

Even overly sensitive “snowflakes” and censorious “cry-bullies” have been fairly reliable barometers of a development – the business-corporatization of American life — that’s far more dangerous to our freedoms of expression and inquiry than some students’ and professors’ overreactions to it. That’s seldom mentioned by the “free speech” crusade. Instead we’re told that the disease of political correctness has spread throughout corporate culture and the media. That’s getting it backwards, as I argue in a just-posted Los Angeles Review of Books essay on how hollow, seemingly anodyne commercial speech seeds and provokes the hostile speech that’s swirling ever more virulently all around us.

Wrong though the politically correct are to celebrate or excuse catapulting so many men into expulsion from their careers and into Orwellian silence and virtual non-personhood before accusations meet real due process, on campus or off, some corporate directors and managers have been even more wrong to do just that. #MeToo supporters shouldn’t expect much from a power shift between the sexes that at the same time tightens corporate image control and workplace control. Breaking a company’s glass ceiling while failing to reconfigure its walls and foundations can empower a Margaret Thatcher or a Carly Fiorina, but not most women or men. Maybe that’s why conservative “free speech” crusaders who’ve condemned university tribunals so loudly …read more


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Trump Ghostwriter Explains How the President is 'Obsessed' With Violence

October 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Bob Brigham, Raw Story

“He loved black people to commit violence against other black people — while he watched”

The ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s 1987 autobiography explained the racial aspect behind the commander-in-chief’s “rage” during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC.

Tony Schwartz was credited as co-author the 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” alongside the real estate developer.

“Given the time you’ve spent with him, what do you see as his relationship with the specter of violence?” MSNBC anchor Ari Melber asked. “Explain what you understand to be his fascination of violence and the way he’s infused that in his politics.”

“So when I go back to the late 1980s, his obsession were — he had two obsessions, one was with football … and the other boxing,” Schwartz recalled. “He was a huge boxing fan and boxing promoter.”

“He loved black people to commit violence against other black people — while he watched,” he explained.

Schwartz summed up Trump’s view as, “You do the violence, I’ll watch the violence. I wouldn’t go near it because it would terrify me, but I love watching it.”

“Why? Because underneath that is rage,” Schwartz concluded. “This is a man of great rage and the rage is, he’s aggrieved.”

“He’s in the business of being aggrieved, and he’s using that in these 10, 12 days leading up to the midterms in trying to bring it out in all the people that are possibly going to vote on the Republican side in this next phase,” he explained.

Watch below:


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Ricki Lake on 'Weed the People': 'It’s Not About Getting High, It’s About Children Dying of Cancer'

October 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Gary M. Kramer, Salon

“It was hard to find oncologists to talk on camera about this,” says executive producer Ricki Lake

“Weed the People” is director Abby Epstein and executive producer Ricki Lake’s timely and compelling documentary about using cannabis oil as an alternative medicine for children with cancer. The film features half a dozen case studies of babies and teens who take this form of medical marijuana to reduce tumors. It is, as one believer states in the film, “not a cure, but an extension of life.”

Weed is still classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug, and as the film explains, the government has a medical patent on marijuana, which seems hypocritical. Moreover, while in America, research on the effects that cannabis has on treating cancer have been minimal — most studies show the negative, not positive effects — in countries like Israel and Spain, there are encouraging findings about the drug’s healing properties.

“Weed the People” follows several families benefiting from cannabis treatment to track their progress. The film also showcases women on the front lines including Mara Gordon, co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s, which creates and sells cannabis oils to patients, and Dr. Bonni Goldstein a medical director at Canna Centers, who lectures on the efficacy of cannabinoid therapy.

Salon spoke with executive producer Ricki Lake about cannabis oil, its efficacy, and her new film “Weed the People.”

The film talks about a drug policy issue being a human rights issue. It is one of four documentaries you’ve produced on social issues, after “The Business of Being Born,” “Breastmilk” and the forthcoming “Sweetening the Pill.” Why have you become an advocate for these causes?

I shifted gears post 9/11. I was doing my old talk show back then and had my second son homebirthed two months before 9/11. I became a mother on my own terms, and then two months later I was back on my show where it was, “My baby daddy thinks I’m a whore!” So, I soul searched about what I cared about. I wanted to make a difference. So, I went on a journey with Abby …read more