You are browsing the archive for 2018 December 11.

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Trump's latest racist attack on immigrants echoes Nazi propaganda

December 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

There are deeply pernicious trends in the president's rhetoric.


In a disturbing continuation of his years-long effort to stoke paranoia and visceral hatred of immigrants, President Donald Trump employed a false and malicious rhetorical attack Tuesday that has been echoed by both Fox News and Nazi propaganda.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump suggested falsely that a border wall could help reduce the non-existent problem of disease outbreaks across the border.

“One of the problems that people don't talk about, you have a tremendous medical problem coming into our country…communicable disease,” Trump said. “Tremendous problems. People don't want to talk about it.”

This line has been repeated on Fox News, where one contributor baselessly asserted that immigrants were bringing in a range of diseases including smallpox — which has, of course, been eradicated in the wild.

But the whole line of attack is just not true. While there can be cross-border concerns about public health issues, there's absolutely no reason to believe that there's a serious threat of infectious diseases coming into the United States.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that this is so,” Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, told Politifact when Trump made a similar claim over the summer. “No study or survey shows this. There is no outbreak or bump in disease attributable to immigrants.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that there can be some transmission of disease across the border. But as Snopes pointed out, this is largely because of authorized border crossings, not the undocumented immigrants that Trump is always bemoaning. (And the best way to fight the spread of these illnesses is vaccination, which Trump has also spread baseless fears about, not a useless border wall.)

Snopes also noted that when undocumented immigrants do experience outbreaks of infectious disease, it is often because of the terrible conditions they are held in by the government when confined. So while Trump argues fighting undocumented immigration is about preventing diseases, it can actually increase the spread of disease. Snopes explained:

In short, while detained …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Nancy Pelosi just insulted Trump's 'manhood' after fiery Oval Office debate: reports

December 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump is threatening to shut down the government over border wall funding.


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insulted President Donald Trump Tuesday, according to multiple reports, about one of the issues he's most sensitive about: his manhood.

After a fiery debate with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office in front of cameras, Pelosi made the pointed remarks behind the scenes.

Trump's big sticking point in the debate is his demand for funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. It was a key campaign promise of his — though importantly, he repeatedly insisted that Mexico and not American taxpayers would fund the wall. Trump has dropped that part of the promise since it has proved — as any informed person could have predicted — impossible.

He repeatedly equated paying for the wall with having border security, even though the risks from the border remain relatively low. Even many advocates who favor greater border security believe a larger wall would be pointless.

“It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him,” Pelosi reportedly said in a closed-door meeting with colleagues, according to Politico and the Washington Post. “This wall thing.”

Of the off-the-rails debate with Trump, Pelosi reportedly said: “I was trying to be the mom… It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Only Major U.S. Warship Lost During WWI Sank in NY Waters—Now We Know Why

December 11, 2018 in History

By Eric Niiler

In July 1918, the 15,000-ton armored cruiser USS San Diego sank off Long Island, New York, losing six sailors from a crew of 1,200 after a mysterious explosion struck the vessel.

The ship was returning home after escorting U.S. troop and cargo ships across the perilous North Atlantic passage to Europe, defending convoys against marauding German U-boats and transforming the course of the conflict by delivering 10,000 doughboys a day to the Allied Powers.

Now it had been felled just eight miles from New York Harbor.

San Diego remains the only major U.S. warship sunk in World War I. Until now, the cause of the explosion was a mystery. Some experts thought that a German saboteur had smuggled a bomb on board. Others were convinced that a torpedo fired by a German U-boat was to blame, even though lookouts never saw the tell-tale bubble trail left on the water’s surface.

But now military historians and scientists have finally confirmed an initial Navy court of inquiry finding that a German-laid underwater mine sank the warship.

Deconstructing History: U-Boats (TV-PG; 1:59)

A team of U.S. military and oceanographic experts presented the results of a two-year investigation on December 11, 2018 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C., bringing to a close a century of debate.

“We believe the U-156 [U-boat] sunk the USS San Diego and used a mine to do so,” said Alexis Catsambis, a maritime archaeologist at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

The scientific data gleaned from the investigation backs up reports at the time that a U-boat had been patrolling the area. In fact, the U-156 had been spotted by other ships and was one of Germany’s most successful, sinking a total of 44 Allied ships in only 13 months of sea patrols.

After a refueling stop in Portsmouth, N.H., the 1,180 crewmembers of the San Diego were a few hours away from a night on the town. Some had already changed into their spiffy white liberty uniforms as the ship approached the entrance to New York Harbor. As the armored cruiser passed eight miles south of Fire Island, a powerful explosion hit just below the midpoint of the ship.

Captain Harley Hannibal Cristy gave the order to abandon ship after only 15 minutes and it only took less than a half hour for the 500-foot ship to capsize on its side …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Lawmakers humiliate themselves by peppering Google CEO with embarrassingly uninformed questions

December 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

These are the people who are supposed to make the country's laws.


Cybersecurity, online privacy, and the role of massive internet companies in our lives are key issues the government will have to tackle in the years to come. But if Tuesday's congressional hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai is any indication, the prospect for future progress on these pressing topics is not bright.

At the hearing, instead of focusing on key issues like abuse of consumer data or the ever-increasing risks of internet-based crimes and warfare, many members of Congress revealed their complete lack of understanding of the industry they are supposedly overseeing and their petty focus on the imagined “bias” against right-wing viewpoints.

Perhaps the most ridiculous example of this phenomenon was when racist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) complained that his daughter saw a negative ad about him on her iPhone.

“How does that show up on a 7-year-old's iPhone who's playing a kids' game?” King asked.

“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company,” Pichai said, to devastating effect.

King tried to recover, saying the phone might have been an Android, but he had already humiliated himself. He had no details about what he was talking about and had no reason to think the CEO of Google was the person he should be directing his question to. It's also not clear why there's a problem in the scenario described at all — a 7-year-old might be playing a game that adults can also enjoy that could feature political ads. 

Others pursued similarly embarrassing lines of inquiry.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), for example, complained that it was hard to find positive news reports about the GOP's failed Obamacare replacement bill in 2017. Pichai noted that this is hardly evidence of Google's personal biases, as negative news about Google executives, too, often shows up in search results.

But Chabot also didn't seem to consider the fact that the reason so many of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Kellyanne Conway reveals that John Kelly will stay on longer as chief of staff as Trump scrambles to find a replacement

December 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump has denied that few want the job.


It seems President Donald Trump just can't get rid of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, no matter how much he loathes him.

Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, announced Tuesday that Kelly will be staying on past the end of the year, despite Trump's previous remarks saying he will be gone before then, as the Washington Post reported. Conway said he will be staying until Jan. 2 “at least” and added, when asked, that Trump may choose to keep him on even longer.

“I know they both love this country and want there to be a transition to the next leader here,” she said.

When Trump first announced Kelly's ouster — in an apparent burst of spite — he said he would announce the chief of staff replacement in a day or two. But those plans were scrapped with Kelly's presumed replacement, vice presidential Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, posted on Twitter that he didn't want the job.

Since then, numerous reports have suggested that top candidates — including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Direct Mick Mulvaney — withdrew themselves from consideration. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has been one of the few people openly vying for the job, though it's not clear how serious this proposition is.

Trump has pushed back on the idea that he's struggling to find a replacement for Kelly. But the fact that his original timetable was scrapped and Conway now says Kelly could stay on indefinitely hardly strengthens his argument.

Of course, in the Trump White House, everything is up in the air — even after it's been announced. Kelly could be out by the end of the week and Conway herself could take his place. We never know what's going to happen until it happens — and sometimes, not even then.

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Why Bibles Given to Slaves Omitted Most of the Old Testament

December 11, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

When slavery was legal, its proponents often justified it with the Bible; specifically, a verse that tells servants to obey their masters. There were also a lot of verses that abolitionists could and did use to argue against slavery. But you wouldn’t find those in the heavily-reacted “Slave Bible.”

Most of the Old Testament is missing, and only about half of the New Testament remains. The reason? So that the enslaved Africans in the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua couldn’t read or be read anything that might incite them to rebel.

The Slave Bible was actually titled Parts of the Holy Bible, selected for the use of the Negro Slaves, in the British West-India Islands.

It’s not clear who exactly directed these changes. British planters in the Caribbean had long been weary of missionaries, and could’ve demanded that they only teach enslaved people certain parts of the Bible. But some missionaries may have also believed that it was only appropriate to teach enslaved people excerpts that reinforced their enslaved status.

Whoever the Slave Bible’s editors were, “they’re really highlighting portions that would instill obedience,” says Anthony Schmidt, a curator at Washington, D.C. Museum of the Bible, which has a copy of the Slave Bible on display. There are only two other known copies.

The Slave Bible on display as part of an exhibition at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

The first Slave Bible was published in 1807, three years after the Haitian Revolution ended. That revolution was the only slave revolt in history in which enslaved people successfully drove out their European oppressors to formed a new nation, and it increased American and European paranoia that the people they oppressed would one day rise up against them.

The Haitian Revolution could have been a motivation for publishing a Bible without the part where Moses tells the Pharoah to “Let my people go.” Missionaries and planters may have thought that Christianity—at least, certain parts of it—would protect against revolutions by teaching enslaved people to respect their masters.

In this context, Schmidt says the British may have thought that teaching enslaved people Biblical lesson about obedience and accepting one’s fate would help them “be better slaves.”

Slavery in America (TV-PG; 3:01)

The Slave Bible doesn’t include Moses leading the Israelites to freedom, but it does include Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt. In the U.S., some sermons aimed at enslaved people …read more

Source: HISTORY

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'It was glorious': Internet cheers Pelosi and Schumer for standing their ground against Trump's 'petulant tantrum'

December 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

By the end of the meeting, Schumer had baited the president into bragging: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”


Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer gave President Donald Trump an earful in the Oval Office — and social media users loved it.

The incoming House Speaker and the Senate Minority leader met Tuesday with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and the pair of Democratic lawmakers blasted the president for threatening a government shutdown over his proposed border wall.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session — it would be done,” Trump said.

“So go do it,” Pelosi responded.

By the end of the meeting, Schumer had baited the president into bragging: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

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Millions Stolen from JFK Airport In the Infamous 'Lufthansa Heist'

December 11, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

On December 11, 1978 half a dozen masked robbers raided the Lufthansa Airlines cargo building at JFK Airport in New York, making off with more than $5 million in cash ($21 million in today’s dollars) and almost $1 million in jewelry. To this day, the Lufthansa heist, as it is known, is considered one of the greatest in U.S. history.

The plan was dreamed up by Peter Gruenewald, a Lufthansa cargo worker at JFK Airport. Gruenewald knew that Lufthansa regularly flew large amounts of unmarked cash from Europe—the U.S. currency exchanged overseas by American tourists and servicemen—to JFK. Typically, this money would immediately be transferred to American banks via Brink’s trucks. However, delays sometimes caused the cash delivery to arrive after the last of the trucks had left for the day, which meant it was stored at the airport until the next business day—and vulnerable to theft.

Gruenewald took his plan to fellow cargo worker and friend Louis Werner, in the hopes of putting it in motion. Unfortunately for Gruenewald, Werner saw the robbery as an opportunity to get out from under a mountain of personal gambling debt and double-crossed his friend. He took Gruenewald’s plan to a big-time bookmaker in the area, Martin Krugman, who took the idea to his buddy, infamous mobster-turned-movie-consultant Henry Hill.

As depicted in the famous movie Goodfellas, Hill was part of a crew of gangsters run by James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. After years of earning money through nefarious deeds, Jimmy’s crew had become closely associated with the Lucchese crime family, and had amassed a solid reputation in the seedy world of organized crime. Burke and Hill took over the planning for the robbery. Jimmy’s crew was very familiar with JFK. Whenever they needed easy cash, the airport was an easy mark. The crew regularly hijacked trucks from JFK, often taking two or three trucks per week from there for quick money. Whether they were filled with televisions, clothes or food, they knew how to move merchandise to make extra cash.

Burke and Hill assembled a team for the robbery and waited for the word from his inside man, Werner. At about 3:00 A.M. on December 11, a black van loaded with the masked men pulled up to Lufthansa’s storage area. The men entered the building while the getaway van was brought to the back. They burst in, wielding guns, rounding up the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Germany declares war on the United States

December 11, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day, Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States, bringing America, which had been neutral, into the European conflict.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor surprised even Germany. Although Hitler had made an oral agreement with his Axis partner Japan that Germany would join a war against the United States, he was uncertain as to how the war would be engaged. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor answered that question. On December 8, Japanese Ambassador Oshima went to German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to nail the Germans down on a formal declaration of war against America. Von Ribbentrop stalled for time; he knew that Germany was under no obligation to do this under the terms of the Tripartite Pact, which promised help if Japan was attacked, but not if Japan was the aggressor. Von Ribbentrop feared that the addition of another antagonist, the United States, would overwhelm the German war effort.

But Hitler thought otherwise. He was convinced that the United States would soon beat him to the punch and declare war on Germany. The U.S. Navy was already attacking German U-boats, and Hitler despised Roosevelt for his repeated verbal attacks against his Nazi ideology. He also believed that Japan was much stronger than it was, that once it had defeated the United States, it would turn and help Germany defeat Russia. So at 3:30 p.m. (Berlin time) on December 11, the German charge d’affaires in Washington handed American Secretary of State Cordell Hull a copy of the declaration of war.

That very same day, Hitler addressed the Reichstag to defend the declaration. The failure of the New Deal, argued Hitler, was the real cause of the war, as President Roosevelt, supported by plutocrats and Jews, attempted to cover up for the collapse of his economic agenda. “First he incites war, then falsifies the causes, then odiously wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy and slowly but surely leads mankind to war,” declared Hitler-and the Reichstag leaped to their feet in thunderous applause.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Edward VIII abdicates

December 11, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. On the evening of December 11, he gave a radio address in which he explained, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” On December 12, his younger brother, the duke of York, was proclaimed King George VI.

Edward, born in 1894, was the eldest son of King George V, who became the British sovereign in 1910. Still unmarried as he approached his 40th birthday, he socialized with the fashionable London society of the day. By 1934, he had fallen deeply in love with American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was married to Ernest Simpson, an English-American businessman who lived with Mrs. Simpson near London. Wallis, who was born in Pennsylvania, had previously married and divorced a U.S. Navy pilot. The royal family disapproved of Edward’s married mistress, but by 1936 the prince was intent on marrying Mrs. Simpson. Before he could discuss this intention with his father, George V died, in January 1936, and Edward was proclaimed king.

The new king proved popular with his subjects, and his coronation was scheduled for May 1937. His affair with Mrs. Simpson was reported in American and continental European newspapers, but due to a gentlemen’s agreement between the British press and the government, the affair was kept out of British newspapers. On October 27, 1936, Mrs. Simpson obtained a preliminary decree of divorce, presumably with the intent of marrying the king, which precipitated a major scandal. To the Church of England and most British politicians, an American woman twice divorced was unacceptable as a prospective British queen. Winston Churchill, then a Conservative backbencher, was the only notable politician to support Edward.

Despite the seemingly united front against him, Edward could not be dissuaded. He proposed a morganatic marriage, in which Wallis would be granted no rights of rank or property, but on December 2, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin rejected the suggestion as impractical. The next day, the scandal broke on the front pages of British newspapers and was discussed …read more

Source: HISTORY