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America's dark side: We've grown numb to Trump's madness and evil

October 1, 2020 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

What pops into your head when you hear the number 1,000 in a political-military context? Having studied German military history, I immediately think of Adolf Hitler’s confident boast that his Third Reich would last a thousand years. In reality, of course, a devastating world war brought that Reich down in a mere 12 years. Only recently, however, such boasts popped up again in the dark dreams of Donald Trump. If Iran dared to attack the United States, Trump tweeted and then repeated on Fox & Friends, the U.S. would strike back with “1,000 times greater force.”

Think about that for a moment. If such typical Trumpian red-meat rhetoric were to become reality, you would be talking about a monumental war crime in its disproportionality. If, say, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shot a missile at an American base in the region and killed 10 U.S. military personnel, Trump is saying that, in response, he’d then seek to kill 10,000 Iranians — an act that would recall Nazi reprisals in World War II when entire villages like Lidice were destroyed because one prominent Nazi official had been killed. Back then, Americans knew that such murderous behavior was evil. So why do so many of us no longer flinch at such madness?

If references to “evil” seem inappropriate to you, keep in mind that I was raised Catholic and one idea the priests and nuns firmly implanted in me then was the presence of evil in our world — and in me as a microcosm of that world. It’s a moral imperative — so they taught me — to fight evil by denying it, as much as humanly possible, a place in our lives, even turning the other cheek to avoid giving offense to our brothers and sisters. Christ, after all, didn’t teach us to whip someone 1,000 times if they struck you once.

Speaking of large numbers, I still recall Christ’s teaching on forgiveness. How many times, he asked, should we forgive those who offend us? Seven times, perhaps? No, seventy times seven. He didn’t, of course, mean 490 acts of forgiveness. Through that hyperbolic number, Christ was saying that forgiveness must be large and generous, as boundless as we imperfect humans can make it.

Trump loves hyperbolic numbers, but …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump is the “single largest driver” of coronavirus misinformation in the world: study

October 1, 2020 in Blogs

By Igor Derysh


President Donald Trump is responsible for nearly 38% of coronavirus misinformation in traditional media around the world, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University.

The study looked at what the World Health Organization has termed the “infodemic” of misinformation about the new coronavirus across 38 million traditional media articles published between Jan. 1 and May 26 in English-language media around the world.

“We found that media mentions of U.S. President Donald Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation made up by far the largest share of the infodemic,” the study said, noting that Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall misinformation conversation.

“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around COVID,” Sarah Evnega, the study’s lead author and director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, told The New York Times. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

The researchers looked at 11 topics of misinformation, including conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus. But the most widespread topic was “miracle cures,” including Trump’s hype of hydroxychloroquine and his suggestion that disinfectant could be used as a coronavirus treatment, which accounted for more misinformation mentions than all of the other topics.

The number of articles about “miracle cures” skyrocketed from fewer than 10,000 to more than 30,000 after Trump suggested people inject themselves with disinfectant in April.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the former deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who now serves as vice dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Times that misinformation was “one of the major reasons” that the United States had lagged behind other countries in containing the virus.

“There is a science of rumors. It’s when there is uncertainty and fear,” he said, adding that consistent public health messaging was key to any successful strategy.”

This is what we need to save lives,” he said. “If it’s not done well, you get far more infections and deaths.”

Overall, the findings were a mixed bag. The study found that less than 3% of traditional media articles included misinformation, but only 16.4% of the articles including fact-checking, “suggesting that the majority of COVID misinformation is conveyed by the media without question or correction.”

All …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Greenland's rapid melting could wreak havoc with the ocean and cause drastic consequences

October 1, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

The ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, the world’s largest island, is on pace to start melting faster than it has in the past 12,000 years. The rate of melting is so fast that one scientist told Salon the potential consequences could be analogous to those of the 2004 global warming-themed disaster movie, “The Day After Tomorrow.”

The study — which was published in the scientific journal Nature and co-authored by researchers from the United States, Canada and Denmark — attempts to reconstruct the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) during the Holocene epoch, or the period of the last 11,700 years.”

Given the short-term nature of the observational record, it is difficult to assess the historical importance of this mass-loss trend,” the authors explained. “Unlike records of greenhouse gas concentrations and global temperature, in which observations have been merged with palaeoclimate datasets, there are no comparably long records for rates of [Greenland Ice Sheet] mass change.”

After studying the southwestern portion of Greenland Ice Sheet, the scientists predicted “mass loss of between 8,800 and 35,900 billion tonnes over the twenty-first century.” They note that the rate of ice loss is higher than it has been at any point in the past 12,000 years.

“Our results indicate, with high confidence, that the rate of mass loss from the [Greenland Ice Sheet] will exceed Holocene rates this century,” they wrote.

One likely consequence of this is that the global mean sea level will rise to dangerous levels. At the current rate at which it is melting, the Greenland Ice Sheet has contributed to a global sea level increase of 0.7 millimeters each year. If the scientists’ models are correct, however, global mean sea level could increase by between 2 and 7 millimeters each year. As global sea levels rise, human populations that reside along coasts will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding and other extreme weather conditions. In the United States alone, almost 40 percent of the population lives in densely populated areas that could be endangered by rising sea levels, including major cities like Boston, New York, Baltimore and Miami. Worldwide, eight of the planet’s 10 largest cities are near a coast.

Another problems with the accelerating melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is the impact it will have on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A wave of panic is overtaking Trump and the GOP as their fortunes look increasingly grim

October 1, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

President Donald Trump’s supporters hoped his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night would give his campaign a boost. But many pundits have argued that while Trump’s unhinged ranting and raving during the debate probably didn’t hurt his support among true MAGA diehards, it didn’t win over many swing voters who were on the fence. And two Washington Post opinion columnists, Never Trump conservative Jennifer Rubin and liberal Greg Sargent, are emphasizing that Trump has only made things worse for himself this week and that a mood of desperation and panic is evident in the Republican Party.

Tuesday night’s debate was followed by a MAGA rally in Minnesota, where Trump once again attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar. Trump’s campaign is hoping that he will be able to flip Minnesota, which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won in 2016. But according to Sargent, the Minnesota rally only underscored how dysfunctional Trump’s reelection campaign is. Trump reignited his racist attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar, trying to pull out the same bag of tricks that snagged him a Midwest victory in 2016, but it doesn’t look like it’s working this time around. Sargent explained:

Trump spent months on a “law and order” strategy to galvanize his core White supporters while frightening White suburbanites back to him. That failed.

Then, at the debate, Trump kept it up, falsely insisting Biden wouldn’t utter the words “law and order,” winking to right-wing extremists and white supremacists, and again rallying supporters to intimidate the opposition’s voters.

Yet Republicans believe this is failing for him, reports the New York Times. His racist backlash politics and threats of voter intimidation risk further alienating “women, moderates, suburban voters and people of color,” as the Times puts it. The people outside what he calls “our country.”

Republicans fear this approach is putting Trump and his party on track to a big loss. But as his Minnesota rally showed, he remains absolutely committed to winning only in this fashion.

Rubin, similarly, views Trump’s hysterical anti-Democrat rants as acts of “desperation.”

“In his desperation to discredit his opponent and an election that he looks likely to lose — potentially by a margin too large for him to plausibly scream ‘Fraud!’ — President Trump’s lies and outbursts are getting …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Republican official was just forced to debunk Trump's bogus claim of vote-selling in West Virginia

October 1, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

President Donald Trump has claimed that a postal worker in West Virginia was “selling” voting ballots. But West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, has refuted the president’s claim — and a postal worker who did plead guilty to attempted election fraud in that state, according to the Associated Press, wasn’t selling them.

During the raucous, chaotic presidential debate on Tuesday night, Trump referred to the case of Thomas Cooper — a postal worker who, AP notes, “pleaded guilty, in July, to attempted election fraud and injury to the mail after changing five ballot requests from Democrat to Republican. He also altered three other ballot applications by circling the word ‘Republican’ in a different color ink than what was used on the forms, Secretary of State Mac Warner said in a written statement.”

Cooper, according to AP, did admit to an illegal act, but Trump mischaracterized his actions. No ballots were sold, and Warner said that the attempted fraud was a “unique circumstance where a postal carrier altered absentee ballot applications, not ballots.”

Referring to ballots in West Virginia, Trump said, “They’re being sold. They’re being dumped in rivers.” And Trump has claimed, “There is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,” but Warner wanted to assure West Virginia residents that the state is not being plagued by rampant voter fraud and that the Cooper case was an isolated incident.

“Voters should be confident that this election will be safe, secure, and fair,” Warner stressed.

Trump’s claims about rampant voter fraud in West Virginia are also being disputed by the state’s two U.S. Senators: Republican Shelly Moore Capito and centrist Democrat Joe Manchin.

“A lot of states are going to go all mail-in,” AP quotes Capito as saying, “and I think it undermines the election to plant those seeds of doubt.” Manchin, in a written statement, said, “There is no widespread voter fraud in West Virginia, and any claim to the contrary is false.”

If Trump loses to former Vice President Joe Biden in November, it is most unlikely to be because of West Virginia. A WPA Intelligence poll released earlier this year found Biden trailing Trump by 35% in that state. And in 2016, Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by 42% in West Virginia.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the Black Codes Limited African American Progress After the Civil War

October 1, 2020 in History

By Nadra Kareem Nittle

The black codes effectively continued enslavement for African Americans by restricting their rights and exploiting their labor.

When slavery ended in the United States, freedom still eluded African Americans who were contending with the repressive set of laws known as the black codes. Widely enacted throughout the South following the Civil War—a period called Reconstruction—these laws both limited the rights of Black people and exploited them as a labor source.

In fact, life after bondage didn’t differ much from life during bondage for the African Americans subjected to the black codes. This was by design, as slavery had been a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and the former Confederate states sought a way to continue this system of subjugation.

“They may have lost the war, but they’re not going to lose power civically and socially,” says M. Keith Claybrook Jr., an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. “So, the black codes were an attempt to restrict and limit freedom.”

Losing the Civil War meant the South had little choice but to recognize the Reconstruction-era policies that abolished slavery. By using the law to deny African Americans the opportunities and privileges that white people enjoyed, however, the one-time Confederacy could keep these newly liberated Americans in virtual bondage.

READ MORE: The First Black Man Elected to Congress Was Nearly Blocked From Taking His Seat

A Loophole in the 13th Amendment

Black Codes (TV-PG; 1:22)

WATCH: Black Codes

White planters in these states denied Black people the chance to rent or buy land and paid them a pittance. The 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment prohibited slavery and servitude in all circumstances “except as a punishment for crime.” This loophole resulted in Southern states passing the black codes to criminalize activities that would make it easy to imprison African Americans, and effectively force them into servitude once more.

First enacted in 1865 in states such as South Carolina and Mississippi, the black codes varied slightly from place to place but were generally very similar. They prohibited “loitering, vagrancy,” Claybrook says. “The idea was that if you’re going to be free, you should be working. If you had three or four Black people standing around talking, they were actually vagrant and could be convicted of a crime and sent to jail.”

In addition to criminalizing joblessness for African Americans, the …read more

Source: HISTORY