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The Most Harrowing Battle of the Korean War

October 30, 2018 in History

By Volker Janssen

At the Chosin Reservoir, subzero temperatures were much an enemy as communists; frozen bodies were used as sandbags.

For Robert Whited and Jean White, there was never a question that they would serve in the military. And they never doubted the merit of the war they were sent to fight in Korea.

It was this unbending faith in their service as U.S. Marines that carried both men through America’s darkest hour in the Korean War: the harrowing retreat from North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, where American forces were surrounded, vastly outnumbered and facing mass slaughter in brutally cold mountains near the Chinese border.

North Korea History (TV-14; 2:03)

It wasn’t supposed to go that way. The Korean War began in June 1950, when communist-backed troops from the north of the recently divided nation stormed into the Western-aligned south. But by the end of that summer, a coalition of South Korean and United Nations forces, led by the United States and General Douglas MacArthur, had regained territory and made significant inroads into the north. Military leaders talked of ending the war by Christmas and reuniting the nation under democratic rule.

Then, Communist China entered the conflict at “frozen Chosin,” shifting the war’s momentum again. In a surprise attack, more than 100,000 Chinese troops trapped American forces in some of the harshest, most remote territory of the region—in temperatures that regularly fell to 25 degrees below zero. In a place where it was too frigid to dig foxholes without explosives and bulldozers, combatants piled frozen bodies in lieu of sandbags. Feet froze into blocks of ice inside boots. Even bullet wounds sometimes froze, keeping soldiers from bleeding out until they went inside heated tents.

Ultimately, some American units took the brunt of the attack, allowing others to escape on a hard-fought 70-mile march to the sea. Casualties were high. And victory, seemingly in reach, evaporated, leaving the war to slog on for several more years.

The Chosin Reservoir battle has become one of the most storied exploits of grit and sacrifice in Marine Corps history. In the words of Commanding General Oliver P. Smith: “Retreat, hell. We’re not retreating. We’re just advancing in another direction.”

This is the story of two Chosin veterans and their experiences on the frigid front lines.

Click here to read more about why North and South Korea were divided.

Children of WWII, hungry to fight

Jean White.

Growing …read more


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Kanye West Just Turned His Back on Trump in the Most Public Way Possible: 'I've Been Used'

October 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

There is speculation Trump's attack on birthright citizenship might have been the last straw for him.

On Tuesday, rapper and record producer Kanye West tweeted that he was done with politics and that he feels “used”.

West has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump over the past few months, and has used his unique position as a Black supporter of the president to urge people of color to sign onto the Trump agenda — something the president desperately needs as his approval rating among African-Americans is dismally low and, by some polls, in single digits.

But West's pleas for the Black community to warm up to Trump have often been confusing. At one point, West tweeted that under Trump, we would “abolish the 13th Amendment,” the amendment that made slavery illegal. West later clarified that what he really meant was abolish the part of the 13th Amendment that makes an exception for prison labor, although why he imagined such a proposal would be on Trump's agenda is anyone's guess.

West's support for the president culminated in a bizarre, ten-minute rant broadcast from the Oval Office, ostensibly called to address prison reform, in which he denied having bipolar depression, claimed that Black people “really get caught up in the idea of racism over the idea of industry,” and said that “Make America Great Again” bothers Black people because “time is a myth.”

It is unclear what specifically led West to decide he was being “used” by Trump. But there is speculation he was offended by the right-wing youth activist group Turning Point USA's Candace Owens, who claimed on Sunday to have used a logo designed by West to sell merchandise for her “Blexit” movement (West denies any involvement with the project). He may also have been aghast at Trump's threat on Tuesday to …read more


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Fear and Trembling in the GOP: Here Are 5 Things Republicans Worry About Most with Democrats Likely to Take Control of the House

October 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Keeping control of the Senate won't save them.

With the 2018 midterms only a week away, many political analysts are still predicting that the most likely outcome for Congress will be Republicans losing their majority in the House of Representatives but maintaining a slight majority in the U.S. Senate. Pollster Nate Silver is one of them: according to analysis on his website, Democrats have an 85% chance (as of October 30) of retaking the House but only a 17% chance of retaking the Senate. Democrats, ideally, would love to obtain a majority in both branches of Congress, but even if Democrats only retake the House, they could do a lot to make life difficult for President Donald Trump. A Democratic House majority, regardless of what happens in the Senate a week from today, would result in political gridlock in Washington, DC in 2019—and Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are painfully aware of that. 

Here are five of the biggest fears, worries and anxieties that Republicans have about the possibility of a Democratic House majority—even if the GOP maintains control of the Senate.

1. Investigative House Committees Galore

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a conservative Republican who, in 2001, was appointed director of the FBI by President George W. Bush, but these days, he is very popular among Democrats. And his Russia-related investigation continues to move along, much to Trump’s chagrin and much to the delight of most Democrats. A Democratic House majority would no doubt be paying very close attention to Mueller’s probe, and they would be able to form all kinds of investigative committees that could be a major headache for the president. Trump is no doubt dreading all the subpoenas and hearings that a Democrat-controlled House could bring.

A Democratic House majority, depending on what Mueller’s probe reveals, could also vote to impeach Trump—although it would be merely symbolic without a Senate majority, as removing Trump from office via the impeachment process would also require conviction in a Senate trial. And the chances of a GOP-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell voting to convict Trump are slim …read more


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Mueller Now Investigating What Roger Stone Told Trump Campaign About WikiLeaks Document Dumps: Report

October 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

The probe into Roger Stone's ties to WikiLeaks continues.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is questioning witnesses about whether President Donald Trump's campaign received advance knowledge from adviser Roger Stone about stolen Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks:

As part of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appears to be intently focused on the question of whether WikiLeaks coordinated its activities with Stone and the campaign, including the group’s timing, the people said. Stone and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied they were in contact.

On Friday, Mueller’s team questioned Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief campaign strategist, about alleged claims Stone made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails allegedly hacked by Russian operatives, according to people familiar with the session.

Investigators have questioned witnesses about events surrounding Oct. 7, 2016, the day The Washington Post published a recording of Trump bragging about his ability to grab women by their genitals, the people said.

Less than an hour after The Post published its story about Trump’s crude comments during a taping of “Access Hollywood,” WikiLeaks delivered a competing blow to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by releasing a trove of emails hacked from the account of her campaign chairman John Podesta.

Mueller has reportedly been interested for a while in how much Stone knew about WikiLeaks' operation against Podesta, and whether he and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — a foreign national who opposed Clinton and has ties to groups linked to the Russian governmentcoordinated in any way. WikiLeaks denies this, but Stone has given inconsistent and at times damning accounts of his relationship with the group.

Stone tauntingly hinted that it would soon be Podesta's “time in the barrel” a few weeks before the cache of emails started dropping, and subsequently boasted that he had a backchannel to WikiLeaks, but he has since called that “a bit of salesmanship” and has backed off many parts of his story. He has claimed that comedian Randy Credico served as an intermediary between himself …read more


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Why the United States Has Birthright Citizenship

October 30, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

American children of Japanese, German and Italian heritage pledging allegiance to the flag, 1942.

It’s one of the United States’ best-known rights: automatic citizenship to all born within its borders. But birthright citizenship hasn’t always been the rule of the land in the U.S., and the legal concept has faced plenty of challenges over the century. Here’s the story of birthright citizenship and its challengers.

United States citizenship is rooted in this legal concept

In the U.S., children obtain their citizenship at birth through the legal principle of jus soli (“right of the soil”)—that is, being born on U.S. soil—or jus sanguinis (“right of blood”)—that is, being born to parents who are United States citizens.

Most countries in the Western Hemisphere have some form of jus soli citizenship, while Europe favors jus sanguinis citizenship. Today, the United States is one of at least 30 countries that affirm birthright citizenship, including most countries in the Western Hemisphere. “Traditionally” notes the Washington Post, “lenient naturalization laws made it more appealing for Europeans to travel to — and settle in — the New World.”

Birthright citizenship was initially limited to free white people

In 1787, the Constitution defined citizenship as open to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Soon after, the nation’s first naturalization law came into effect. The 1790 law said that “free white persons” could gain citizenship if they had lived in the U.S. for two years and had a good character. The new citizens’ children under the age of 21 were given citizenship, too.

But the new naturalization law ignored massive swaths of American society, including enslaved people and Native Americans, neither of whom were considered citizens.

American ex-slave Dred Scott (1795-1858).

Arguments about slavery challenged the concept of birthright citizenship

In 1857, as arguments about slavery roiled, the U.S. Supreme Court went a step further, finding in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that Scott, an escaped slave suing for his freedom, was not a citizen because he was of African descent. Nor could any other person of African descent be considered a citizen, even if they were born in the U.S., Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in the majority opinion.

But that definition didn’t last long. During and after the Civil War, lawmakers returned to the debate about whether black people should have birthright …read more


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Trump's Plan to Fight the Opioid Epidemic Includes a Major Giveaway to this Pharmaceutical Giant

October 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Christopher Moraff, Filter

“The push in this administration is for new drugs, things that make pharmaceutical companies rich.”

On October 24, President Donald Trump signed a package of bills into law aimed at addressing the overdose crisis, dubbed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. But critics say it might as well be called the SUPPORT Indivior Act—a reference to the maker of Suboxone (active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone) and Sublocade, the recently approved injectable version of the drug, designed to last a month. (Indivior projects Sublocade’s annual sales will eventually reach $1 billion annually.)

The pharmaceutical giant, which has been fighting the introduction of generic versions of Suboxone for years, and is also the defendant in a lawsuit alleging that it used fraudulent marketing tactics, openly celebrated the new law.

In a press release, Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter called the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act “critical in the fight against the increasing number of human lives lost to opioid overdose in the United States every year.” The legislation includes a number of measures that will directly benefit his company, particularly regarding Sublocade.

For example, over the summer Indivior blamed “friction in the new distribution and reimbursement model” covering injectables for its decision to cut its first-year revenue projections for the drug by half. The law signed by Trump rectifies some of these issues. It allows specialty pharmacies to distribute injectable medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). It also permits healthcare practitioners who are not waivered to prescribe oral versions of the drug to administer injectable OUD treatments, meaning they won’t be subject to a cap on the number of patients they can treat.

One of Indivior’s main competitors, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, has been fighting an uphill battle to get its own injectable buprenorphine/naloxone formulation through FDA approval. But for now the only other drug that would potentially benefit from the new law, the monthly injectable opioid antagonist Vivitrol, is not subject to a patient cap.

Why Is Methadone Access Being Overlooked?

Some addiction experts point out that “evidence-based treatment” for opioid use disorder is increasingly becoming synonymous with the use of buprenorphine/naloxone formulations like Suboxone, despite the fact that it’s not a one-size-fits-all …read more


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Trump Cabinet Appointee's Troubles Deepen as the Justice Department Receives Referral for Criminal Investigation: Report

October 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The inspector general's investigations are getting even more serious.

President Donald Trump's Cabinet has been rife with corruption, which has already led to the ouster of two high-profile appointees.

But while previous investigations have led to increased scrutiny of Trump Cabinet members, the latest reported development in the ongoing scandal of widespread corruption in the administration could have criminal implications. According to the Washington Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's inspector general has just referred a probe of the department head to the Justice Department.

The piece explained:

A referral to the Justice Department means that prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted. While an agency’s inspector general regularly issues reports on the findings of its inquiries, it only refers cases to the Justice Department when it has determined that there could be potential criminal violations.

A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due the sensitive nature of the matter, said the White House understands that the investigation is looking into whether the secretary “used his office to help himself.”

Some of the criticisms of Zinke's behavior are related to misdeeds other Cabinet members have been accused of. He has been accused of abusing travel funds, and the inspector general recently found that misused funds to pay for a trip his wife took.

Other allegations suggest Zinke used his official powers for personal advantage.

“One of the allegations under investigation regards the secretary’s role in a Montana land development deal backed by David J. Lesar, chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton, which Politico first reported in June,” the Post explained. “The business and retail park, known as 95 Karrow, is slated to include several businesses and would be near multiple parcels of land owned by Zinke and his wife. The deal involves land owned by a foundation now headed by Zinke’s wife, Lola, which the secretary used to run before joining the Trump administration.”

The Post reports that Zinke — along with other Cabinet members — may depart the administration after the midterm elections.

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Trump's Nationalism vs. Itself

October 30, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

President Trump
Monday night that he would use an executive order to
end birthright citizenship for children of noncitizens. This
proposal and his arguments for it highlight how
the “America First” nationalism
of the President compromises
American exceptionalism and makes America a smaller, weaker and
more divided country.

The President’s primary argument for abandoning
the historic policy
of the United States, codified in the
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, is that America is “the
only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby,
and the baby is essentially a citizen.” This is false. Canada and

about 30 other countries
have followed America’s lead on this
issue, granting citizenship at birth to anyone born in their

But the fact that the President believes that this is a valid
reason for rewriting the Constitution by executive fiat illustrates
something about his nationalist philosophy. Rather than seeking to
keep America exceptional — to use Ronald Reagan’s iconic
phrase, “the City on the Hill” — he would seek to make
America more like other countries, ones without a Constitution at

In the name of American
exceptionalism, he’d make us more like other countries, in the
wrong way.

The President’s argument is precisely the same as arguing that
because America is the only country in the world with a First
Amendment or Second Amendment, it should abolish the rights to free
speech or firearm ownership. No one who values the unique character
of the U.S. Constitution would accept this argument.

But Trump’s nationalism isn’t one built around the American
experience. Instead, he seeks to make America more like ethnic
nation-states in Europe where citizenship is built on the right

Being American isn’t about having the right parents. It’s
grounded in the experience of the individual, not their

Trump’s secondary argument was that birthright citizenship is a
“ridiculous” policy because a “baby is essentially a citizen of the
United States for 85 years with all those benefits.” As for the
benefits that they receive, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
that second-generation Americans are the most fiscally
positive of any U.S. residents, producing far more in value than
they get back.

For Trump, millions of Americans who are the children or
grandchildren of noncitizens have basically stolen their U.S.
citizenship and so should not be — and, if he got his way,
would not be — Americans. According to
the NAS
, “the citizenship status of 37.1 million
second-generation Americans living in the country (about 12% of the
country’s population), and perhaps many millions more in the third
and higher generations …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why WWII Soldiers Mutinied After V-J Day

October 30, 2018 in History

By Sam Perkins

The Allies had won the war, but thousands of U.S. troops were fed up.

In early May 1945, World War II was officially over. Victory had been declared over Japan and, as far as thousands of U.S. troops were concerned, it was time to ditch the uniforms and get home—preferably by Christmas.

The problem was, it had taken four years to get the estimated 7.6 million troops overseas and it was going to take more than four months to get them home. Beset by homesickness and boredom, the GI’s were prey to manipulation by politicians in Washington and agitators within their ranks.

During the six months, from V-J Day into January 1946, thousands took to the streets at bases around the world, protesting the delays. Soldiers carried placards mocking their commanders and defied orders in a way that would have been unthinkable six months earlier. According to historian, R. Alton Lee, author of “The Army ‘Mutiny’ of 1946” published in December 1966 in The Journal of American History, the actions of many soldiers easily qualified for the charge of mutiny.

U.S. soldiers making their way home by way of the New York harbor in June, 1945.

The War Department used a point system.

Planning for demobilization had begun long before Allied victory was declared. In September 1944, eight months before Germany’s surrender, the War Department announced that soldiers would be demobilized based on a point system that counted length of service, overseas deployment, combat duty and parenthood. Soldiers with 85 points or more were first in line to head home. Female military personnel needed fewer points. Soldiers thought the system was fair, as did the U.S. public.

Transparent though the rating system was, it hid a huge problem: Just because soldiers were eligible didn’t mean there was a ship available to take them home. Egged on by U.S. politicians, eager to score points against Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, their families, and “hotheads” in the troops, soldiers in Guam, Manila, London, Paris, Frankfurt and other bases took to the streets, organized write-in campaigns and staged publicity stunts to pressure Washington into speeding up demobilization.

Within weeks of the Japanese surrender, U.S. Congresswoman, Clare Boothe Luce (R-CT) admitted that representatives were “under constant and terrific pressure from servicemen and their families.” “Bring the Boys Back Home” became the rallying cry. Over 200 “Bring Daddy Home” groups, …read more


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Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)

October 30, 2018 in History

By Editors

On the Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead, families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration.

On the Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year on November 1-2.

Origins of Day of the Dead

The roots of the Day of the Dead, celebrated in contemporary Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage in the United States and around the world, go back some 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Aztecs and other Nahua people living in what is now central Mexico held a cyclical view of the universe, and saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life.

Read more: Human Sacrifice: Why the Aztecs Practiced This Gory Ritual

Upon dying, a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, could the person’s soul finally reach Mictlán, the final resting place. In Nahua rituals honoring the dead, traditionally held in August, family members provided food, water and tools to aid the deceased in this difficult journey. This inspired the contemporary Day of the Dead practice in which people leave food or other offerings on their loved ones’ graves, or set them out on makeshift altars called ofrendas in their homes.

Influence of Catholicism and Spanish Culture

In ancient Europe, pagan celebrations of the dead also took place in the fall, and consisted of bonfires, dancing and feasting. Some of these customs survived even after the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, which (unofficially) adopted them into their celebrations of two minor Catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, celebrated on the first two days of November.

In medieval Spain, people would bring bring wine and pan de ánimas (spirit bread) to the graves of their loved ones on All Souls Day; they would also cover graves with flowers and light candles to illuminate the dead souls’ way back to their homes on Earth. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores brought such traditions with them to the New World, along with …read more