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Fox News' Shep Smith Smacks Down His Network's Lies About the Migrant Caravan: 'There Is No Invasion'

October 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“No one is coming to get you,” he told his viewers. “There is nothing at all to worry about.”

In the late afternoon, before the screaming heads of Fox News primetime appear, there's an hour of peace and decency on the network as host Shep Smith reports the news.

On Monday, Smith cut through the nonsense and demagoguery coming from much of the rest of the network and, most prominently, from President Donald Trump, about the migrant caravan in Central America. Trump and his allies on Fox have been stoking fears about the caravan in a clear and desperate effort to rile up voters in the runup to the 2018 midterm elections, despite the fact that there's little reason to fear the group.

And Smith made that very clear.

“Tomorrow, the migrants, according to Fox News reporting, are more than two months away, if any of them really come here,” he explained. “But tomorrow is one week before the midterm election. Which is what all of this is about. There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about.”

His calm and reassuring demeanor was a startling contrast to that of opinion show host Laura Ingraham, who just last week literally called the caravan an “invasion” on Fox News.

“When they did this to us, got us all riled up in April, remember?” he continued, referring to a previous caravan Trump had similarly bloviated about. “The result was 14 arrests. We're America, we can handle it. But, like I said, a week to the election.”

Watch the clip below:

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This Fox News Guest Just Tried to Spread Vicious and False Smears About Immigrants — And No One Stopped Him

October 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Former ICE agent David Ward went full-blown racist when describing threats from the migrant “caravan”.

President Donald Trump is desperate to make political hay out of the Honduran migrant “caravan” making its way toward the United States, believing it to be his last hope of turning out his base in a midterm election that is not going his way. He has called the migrants an “invasion,” and his administration is deploying 5,200 troops to meet them at the border.

On Monday, David Ward, a former agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went on Fox News to support the border deployment, calling the military a “tremendous asset at the ports of entry.” He then justified the whole operation with a racist conspiracy theory.

“We have these individuals coming from all over the world that have some of the most extreme medical care in the world,” said Ward. “And they're coming in with diseases such as smallpox and leprosy and TB that are going to infect our people in the United States.”

It is extremely unlikely that the migrants will be carrying smallpox, given that the smallpox virus is extinct in the wild. Furthermore, contrary to longstanding xenophobic myths about disease-ridden migrants, many parts of Central America actually have higher vaccination rates than the United States.

But not only did these falsehoods go unchallenged, they are standard fare in right-wing media. “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade has echoed the same worry, saying, “What about diseases? I mean, there's a reason why you can't bring a kid to school unless he's inoculated.”

In reality, migrant caravans have occurred frequently for decades and are not a border crisis. The current one is still a thousand miles from the border, will take months to reach us, might disperse as it moves north (already it has shed about 4,000 people from its high of 7,200, including 1,700 who are trying to seek asylum in Mexico), and even if it does make it to the border, it would still be smaller than the average 4,300 asylum seekers who come …read more


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Alt-Right Around the World: Here Are 4 Countries Where the Authoritarian Forces Have Been Spreading Their Messages

October 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

It's a troubling trend for the world.

After winning a double-digit victory in Brazil’s presidential election on October 28, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro received a phone call from an ardent supporter: President Donald Trump. On Twitter, Trump posted, “Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!”

It was an example of the American alt-right cheering for the Brazilian alt-right. Steve Bannon (former White House chief strategist under Trump) has also been an enthusiastic Bolsonaro supporter, as have the staff of Breitbart News. For all its isolationist America-first rhetoric, the American alt-right has been finding common ground with extremists and authoritarians in other countries—including Bolsonaro, who the Brazilian press has dubbed “The Trump of the Tropics” because of his extreme nationalism, racist remarks, overt misogyny and history of praising dictators.

Here are four countries where the American alt-right has been openly supportive of white nationalists and authoritarians—and in some cases, has been networking with them.

1. France

When centrist/neoliberal Emmanuel Macron defeated white nationalist and National Front leader Marine Le Pen by 65-34% in France’s 2017 presidential race, it was characterized as a landslide rejection of racism and bigotry. Le Pen lost by 31%, but here’s the frightening part: about one in three French voters supported her—which would be sort of like David Duke winning one-third of the vote in a presidential race in the United States. Unfortunately, the National Front isn’t going away, and Steve Bannon sees the obvious parallels between Trump’s presidency and the French white nationalist/anti-immigrant movement that Le Pen is leading.

Bannon, in fact, spoke at a major National Front gathering in France on March 10, declaring, “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger—and they get weaker.”   

2. Brazil

Many immigrants and people of color felt like they …read more


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Devin Nunes' Aggressive Defense of Trump in the Russia Probe Has Put His Typically Safe Seat at Risk

October 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

He'd have been better off working on behalf of his constituents, rather than the president.

He has been President Donald Trump's loyal soldier in the fight against the Russia investigation — but it could cost him bigly in the midterm elections.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes won his House of Representatives seat for the 22nd District in California by a whopping 35 points in 2016. But now, as the 2018 election approaches, the election is much more precarious than it should be, as NPR's Tim Mak reported.

Mak notes that recent polls put the race much closer than his previous win, with one recent survey finding his opponent below by only 5 points. While it still seems quite likely that Nunes will win, this will definitely be one race to watch if Democrats have an unexpectedly big win in November and there's any sign of a systematic polling error underplaying the party's chances. Compared to 2016, Nunes will be much more nervous on election night than he might have expected.

Nunes can thank his unblinking support of Trump. As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes led the much derided and prematurely closed investigation in the chamber of Russia's interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign. The California Republican made it clear from the start that he intended to shield Trump from scrutiny and deflect blame on to others, which has led to his absurd crusades against the Obama administration, Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, and others within the Justice Department.

As Mak noted, the nationalization of local races can hurt Nunes. Though he's become a hero for Trump fans, his prominence as the president's champion in the House hardly endears him to his district.

Mak reports:

“He's made a decision he can pretty much do what he wants and ignore local concerns…if he just nationalizes this whole race,” said Liz Mair, a Republican who runs the Swamp Accountability Project and is opposing Nunes as part of her organization's effort to protect Mueller's Russia investigation.

California grows half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables eaten in America, most of it grown in the state's …read more


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These 5 Far-Right Extremists Insisted the Terrorist Mail Bomb Campaign Aimed at Democrats Was a ‘False Flag’

October 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Some have jumped to the knee-jerk conclusion that a potentially deadly mail bomb campaign aimed at Democrats was a “false flag” or “fake news.”

Looking at the political messages covering Cesar Altieri Sayoc’s van, it is obvious that the Florida resident hates Democrats as vehemently as he adores President Donald Trump. Sayoc, who was arrested on Friday, October 26 on suspicion of mailing a series of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, covered his van with pro-Trump messages along with messages expressing his total hatred of Hillary Clinton and others who pipe bombs were mailed to. But to hear some wingnuts tell it, the pipe bombs—which Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin accurately described as a “coordinated attempt at mass assassination”—were nothing more than a “false flag” operation carried out by Democrats in order to make Republicans look bad.

The bombs aimed at Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Maxine Waters, investor/philanthropist George Soros, actor Robert De Niro and other Democrats were a blatant example of domestic terrorism. But many ideologues are so deeply racist that they cannot conceive of terrorist attacks being carried out by those who are not Muslims or people of color. And not surprisingly, some of them have jumped to the knee-jerk conclusion that a potentially deadly mail bomb campaign aimed at Democrats was a “false flag” or “fake news.”

Here are five of the far-right pro-Trump wingnuts who have insisted that a campaign of domestic terrorism aimed at Democrats must be a “false flag” operation or a hoax.

1. Rush Limbaugh

After the news broke that prominent Democrats had been targeted for a campaign of domestic terrorism, Rush “OxyContin” Limbaugh asserted that a “Democratic operative” was behind the attacks because “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing.” But even after Sayoc’s arrest, Limbaugh maintained that a false flag operation was being carried out for the purpose of discrediting Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterms. The veteran AM talk radio host insisted, “None of the stuff on that van—the stickers and the decals—very little of it looks faded, meaning it doesn’t …read more


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What Happened When WWI Paused for Christmas

October 29, 2018 in History

By A.J. Baime

‘Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!’

On Christmas Eve 1914, in the dank, muddy trenches on the Western Front of the first world war, a remarkable thing happened.

It came to be called the Christmas Truce. And it remains one of the most storied and strangest moments of the Great War—or of any war in history.

British machine gunner Bruce Bairnsfather, later a prominent cartoonist, wrote about it in his memoirs. Like most of his fellow infantrymen of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was spending the holiday eve shivering in the muck, trying to keep warm. He had spent a good part of the past few months fighting the Germans. And now, in a part of Belgium called Bois de Ploegsteert, he was crouched in a trench that stretched just three feet deep by three feet wide, his days and nights marked by an endless cycle of sleeplessness and fear, stale biscuits and cigarettes too wet to light.

“Here I was, in this horrible clay cavity,” Bairnsfather wrote, “…miles and miles from home. Cold, wet through and covered with mud.” There didn’t “seem the slightest chance of leaving—except in an ambulance.”

Then the singing started

At about 10 p.m., Bairnsfather noticed a noise. “I listened,” he recalled. “Away across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices.” He turned to a fellow soldier in his trench and said, “Do you hear the Boches [Germans] kicking up that racket over there?”

“Yes,” came the reply. “They’ve been at it some time!”

The Germans were singing carols, as it was Christmas Eve. In the darkness, some of the British soldiers began to sing back. “Suddenly,” Bairnsfather recalled, “we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again.” The voice was from an enemy soldier, speaking in English with a strong German accent. He was saying, “Come over here.”

One of the British sergeants answered: “You come half-way. I come half-way.”

An illustration of soldiers fraternizing on Christmas Day 1914, drawn by World War I British soldier and cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather.

Fraternization ensued

What happened next would, in the years to come, stun the world and make history. Enemy soldiers began to climb nervously out of their trenches, and to meet in the barbed-wire-filled “No …read more


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Why Sir Walter Raleigh Was Beheaded

October 29, 2018 in History

By Una McIlvenna

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), English aristocrat, writer, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer.

He was a celebrated soldier, a hero on land and sea. He was responsible for the first ever English colonies in the New World. And he wrote poetry that ranks with some of the finest in early modern England. Yet at the age of 54 Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for treason. What caused the downfall of this beloved Renaissance courtier?

For a court favorite, Raleigh actually spent quite a bit of his life locked up in the Tower of London. The first time, in 1592, it was because he’d secretly married his lover, Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton, a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I. Bess was already pregnant, which explained both the marriage and the secrecy. Enraged by their plotting behind her back, Elizabeth dismissed Bess and imprisoned both of them in the Tower.

Sir Walter Raleigh placing his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth I can keep her feet dry.

Much popular history, including the film, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, has tried to explain this punishment by imagining that the queen was in love with Raleigh. However, this is no evidence for this. Rather, Elizabeth’s anger was justified: for young nobles like Bess who were sent to the royal household the monarch became a kind of surrogate parent, expected to supervise their upbringing and encourage lucrative marriages with other influential nobility. For the couple to ignore the queen’s prerogative here was scandalous.

Nevertheless they were soon released and in a few short years Raleigh had regained the queen’s favor. She awarded him a royal charter to explore the ‘New World’ of the Americas and allowed him to organize the first English colonies in Virginia, named flatteringly after the Virgin Queen herself. That these colonial experiments were an unmitigated disaster, resulting in the ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke, did not dissuade Raleigh and his backers from believing that fortunes lay in the Americas.

He was convinced that El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, was to be found in northern South America, and made a reconnaissance trip to Guyana in 1595. On his return he wrote a fantastical account of it as a paradise rich for the taking, where gold could be plucked easily from the ground, and where the natives were eager to be ruled over by the English. …read more


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WWI Inventions, From Pilates to Zippers, That We Still Use Today

October 29, 2018 in History

By Christopher Klein

Small inventions made life easier during—and after—the war.

Now a fashion icon, the trench coat first gained popularity among British officers during World War I because of its functionality. The water-resistant overcoats proved superior to the standard wool coats in repelling the rain and chill of the trenches—from which the garment gained its name.

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

While World War I redrew political borders and introduced modern weaponry such as poison gas, machine guns and tanks, it also spurred the development of practical innovations. From Pilates to Kleenex to drones, these World War I innovations now permeate everyday life.

Winston Churchill (right), as 1st Colonel commanding the Royal Scots Fusiliers, seen wearing a trench coat, 1916.

1. Trench Coats

Now a fashion icon, the trench coat first gained popularity among British officers during World War I because of its functionality. “They were different in cut and weight than the heavy overcoats worn by enlisted men,” says Jonathan Casey, director of the archives and Edward Jones Research Center at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The water-resistant overcoats proved superior to the standard wool coats in repelling the rain and chill of the trenches—from which the garment gained its name. They also featured flaps and rings for securing weapons and map cases. Within months of the war’s start, London retailers such as Burberry and Aquascutum were advertising trench coats to the British public.

Government poster from 1918 showing Uncle Sam turning clock to daylight saving time.

2. Daylight Saving Time

Come November, most Americans gain an extra hour—and then lose it again the following March. Although the idea of shifting time dated back centuries, Daylight Saving Time was first implemented in Germany in April 1916 as a wartime measure to conserve coal by having an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. Weeks later, the United Kingdom and other European countries followed suit. The United States implemented Daylight Saving Time in 1918.

A World War I blood transfusion kit including connecting tubes, needles and a glass storage jar.

3. Blood Banks

Doctors rarely performed blood transfusions prior to World War I. However, following the discovery of different blood types and the ability of refrigeration to extend shelf life, Captain Oswald Robertson, a U.S. Army doctor consulting …read more


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Do Voucher Regulations Reduce Anticipated Voucher Program Participation and School Quality?

October 29, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Lindsey Burke, Patrick J. Wolf

Corey A. DeAngelis, Lindsey Burke, and Patrick J. Wolf

What happened in Louisiana? The first experimental evaluations in the world to find negative effects of a
private school choice program on student achievement were of the
Louisiana Scholarship Program. Education policy scholars have been
debating what went wrong in the bayou for over three years now.
Some researchers have argued that Louisiana’s
onerous regulations deterred the best private schools from
participating in the program. Others instead have claimed that the program would
have done even worse without the quality-enhancing regulations in
place. Of course, both theories are plausible. But which theory is
supported by evidence?

Our just-released study is the first experimental
evaluation of the effects of various regulations on the willingness
of private school leaders to participate in voucher programs.

Costly regulations tend
to reduce the quantity and quality of private schools that elect to
participate in school choice programs.

We randomly assigned a hypothetical voucher program
participation offer to 3,080 private school leaders in Florida in
2018. Specifically, we randomly assigned one of three different
regulations — or no additional government regulation at all
— to each of these private school leaders and asked them
whether they would participate in the voucher program the next
year. Because regulations increase the costs of program
participation, we expected each regulation to reduce the likelihood
that private school leaders would be certain to participate the
following year.

Relative to no regulations, our most conservative statistical
models find that open-enrollment mandates reduce the likelihood
that private schools are certain to participate in a choice program
by about 17 percentage points, or 70 percent. State standardized
testing requirements reduce the likelihood that private schools are
certain to participate by 11 percentage points, or 44 percent. We
find no evidence to suggest that the prohibition of copayment
affects anticipated program participation overall. Our main results
suggest that private school leaders are most concerned about
maintaining their specialized missions.

It appears that regulations tend to reduce private school
participation in voucher programs overall. But that finding alone
doesn’t explain why the Louisiana experiment found negative effects
on student test scores. Although the Louisiana program includes all
three regulations in our study, those requirements could have
prevented a lot of low-quality private schools from participating
in the program. But do regulations increase average quality levels
of participating private schools? Or are they more likely to deter
higher-quality private schools from participating in school choice

Because we had access to two proxies for private school quality — tuition
levels and enrollment trends — our analysis is …read more

Source: OP-EDS