Volume XXV – Number 30

Why Mercenaries Aren’t Answer for Afghanistan
The Atlantic Magazine – July 17, 2017 – Sean McFate

Their interests are more likely profit than concern for Afghans. The fact that the idea has champions in the West Wing sends a message to the whole galaxy of private military contractors: Business may be booming once again!… The privatization of war is already underway. Denial is not a strategy to manage this growing problem.

America steals votes from felons. Until it stops, our democracy will be weakened
The Guardian – July 18, 2017 – Russ Feingold

Felony disenfranchisement bars roughly 6.1 million citizens from voting – one in 13 black Americans. Trump’s ‘electoral integrity’ commission is silent… The right to vote is the most fundamental right of any democracy, granting it legitimacy as a means of government by instilling power in the people and not in politicians. It ensures “consent of the governed” and holds government accountable to the people: not law-abiding people, or moral people, or any other qualifier, but the people.

Home care workers have our lives in their hands. They’re paid only $10 an hour
The Guardian – July 13, 2017 – Sarah Jaffe

Home care is expected to add more jobs than any other field in the coming years. Carers will look after us in old age – but do we care enough about them?

Defendants Can’t Be Jailed Solely Because of Inability to Post Bail
The New York Times – July 17, 2017 – Richard A. Oppel Jr.

The chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., issued an order on Monday that bail-reform advocates hope will be a turning point in the national controversy over requiring defendants to pay more money than they can afford in order to be set free on bail before their trials.

As Pruitt Guts Water Rules, EPA Will Allow Fracking Waste Dumping in the Gulf of Mexico
Truthout – July 18, 2017 – Mike Ludwig

Under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, a Trump-appointee with close ties to polluting industries, the EPA is working to gut environmental regulations with the explicit intent of maximizing fossil fuel production… “The Trump administration can’t just let the oil industry self-regulate, or we’re all in huge trouble,” Monsell said. “And the toxicity testing doesn’t prevent the chemicals from being dumped in the first place, and the testing requirement doesn’t even coincide with the dumping of fracking chemicals.”… “The Trump administration’s proposal to allow more pollution into America’s drinking water sources is senseless,” said John Rumpler, a senior attorney and clean water director at Environment America, in a statement. “For Congress to exempt such a move from the law is simply beyond the pale.”

Repeal-Without-Replace Even More Harmful than Failed Senate Bill
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – July 18, 2017 – Jacob Leibenluft

By reviving a version of a vetoed 2015 bill to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement, Senator Majority Leader McConnell is pursuing legislation that would cause even more people to lose health coverage, raise premiums, and inflict even worse damage to insurance markets than the latest Senate ACA repeal bill that just died in the Senate.

Strong Support for Single-Payer, Medicare-for-All Shaping Health Care Debate
The Democratic Strategist – July 12, 2017 – J.P. Green

A majority of Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. And a growing share now supports a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center… Just 5% of Americans say the government should not be involved at all in providing health insurance.

Economic Security Programs Help Low-Income Children Succeed
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – July 17, 2017 – Arloc Sherman and Tazra Mitchell

Government economic security programs such as food assistance, housing subsidies, and working-family tax credits – which bolster income, help families afford basic needs, and keep millions of children above the poverty line – also have longer-term benefits, studies find: they help children to do better in school and increase their earning power in their adult years.

Empire of Destruction, Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh
Tom Dispatch – July 20, 2017 – Tom Engelhardt

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since September 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful: rubblize and rubblization. Let me explain what I mean… While no one would deny the destructive potential of great imperial powers historically, the American empire of destruction may be unique. At the height of its military strength in these years, it has been utterly incapable of translating that power advantage into anything but rubblization.

‘There’s an Effort Around the Country to Curtail People’s Fundamental 1st Amendment Rights
FAIR – July 19, 2017 – Jim Naureckas

If anyone commits a criminal act, an act of property damage, whether that be a protestor or, frankly, a police agent provocateur, the police can now use this as license, or they wish to, to sweep up everyone else around them… It’s clear that there is an effort around the country to try, through legal means—although we would consider illegal means—to curtail people’s fundamental First Amendment rights to gather together in the streets, to be able to speak out in unified action… So while we’re faced with what is I think overt repression, both in terms of these felony prosecutions, these state laws, these court rulings, we also are faced with the fact that there are millions of people who are engaging in political protest and political organizing who have never done so before, and that’s a force that really can’t be stopped.

How Trump signed a global death warrant for women
The Guaerdian – July 21, 2017 – Sarah Boseley

With one devastating flourish of the presidential pen, worldwide progress on family planning, population growth and reproductive rights was swept away. Now some of the world’s poorest women must count the cost… Western officials who don’t want to fall out with the Trump White House are silent. Those who work at the Department for International Development do not want to criticise their colleagues at USAid, who themselves are privately wringing their hands over a policy that will undo much of their good work on behalf of women and girls.

Inside the Secret, Strange Origins of Steve Bannon’s Nationalist Fantasia
Vanity Fair – July 17, 2017 – Joshua Green

The chief strategist of Trump’s triumph reveals his strange brew of intellectual influences, including a French-Egyptian Muslim occultist guru, and his apocalyptic view of history… Adapted from “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” by Joshua Green.

To the Millions Who Have Stood Up to the Trump Administration: Thank You
Yes! Magazine – July 19, 2017 – Sarah van Gelder

After the election, millions of Americans launched a resistance that has slowed or stopped many of Trump’s awful policies. They showed up at town halls and airports. They contacted politicians and advertisers on right-wing media sites, educated themselves and their neighbors, filed to run in local elections, brought food, blessed the water, and sat down in bank lobbies and in congressional offices… We might break out of the celebrity culture, which values power grabs, wealth, and superficiality. We could humbly accept the wide range of gifts people have to offer, and acknowledge everyone who steps forward for all they do to make the world a better place.

Nearly Half of Trump Supporters Want Republicans to Work with Democrats to Improve ACA
Yes! Magazine – July 19, 2017 – Mark Trahant

More than 70 percent of the public wants bipartisan cooperation, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll says. Even 46 percent of Trump supporters say “they want to see Republicans work with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act—statistically tied with the 47 percent who would rather see Republicans continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace it.”

What the Insanity of Mass Incarceration Has Done To Us
Yes! Magazine – July 18, 2017 – Patrice Gaines

We have lived with mass incarceration for so long that we do not see that it is making even those who are supposed to be free less human—and less humane.

Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War
Global Research – July 19, 2017 – Antony C. Black

Overview of Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Book… Of the many myths that befog the modern political mind, none is so corrupting of the understanding or so incongruent with historical fact as the notion that the wealthy and the powerful do not conspire. They do. They conspire continually, habitually, effectively, diabolically and on a scale that beggars the imagination. To deny this conspiracy fact is to deny both overwhelming empirical evidence and elementary reason… if there is any lesson – or rather counter lesson – we can take from it, it is that we are doomed to repeat history only so long as we listen to those dedicated to obscuring and inverting it. In short, to those who lie to us.

“Computational Propaganda”: Armies of Cyber-Troops Manipulating Public Opinion
Global Research – July 20, 2017 – True Publica

The Computational Propaganda Research Project (COMPROP) investigates the interaction of algorithms, automation and politics. This work includes analysis of how tools like social media bots are used to manipulate public opinion by amplifying or repressing political content, disinformation, hate speech, junk or fake news.

Resurrecting the Radical Pedagogy of the Black Panther Party
Portside – July 3, 2017 – Christopher F. Petrella

the founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) believed that a learner-driven, politically relevant, and transgressive education that empowers youth to expose the existential contradictions of their own lives creates the conditions necessary for a world in which both Black and non-Black liberation is possible… From mixed-age horizontal classroom relationships between student-teachers and teacher-students, to experiential and embodied learning opportunities in the local community and the prioritization of art, resistance, and service, the BPP’s pedagogy was truly at a vanguard of a burgeoning Black freedom-centered educational movement.

Volume XXV – Number 29

Senate Bill Would Devastate Health Care in Rural America
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – July 6, 2017 – Caroline Anderson-Gray

The Senate Republican bill’s damage to rural America would extend beyond people who are or may become eligible for Medicaid. The bill’s cuts to tax credits for the purchase of individual market coverage would raise premiums for many people in rural areas, especially for older people and people living in high-cost states. Many of the 1.6 million current rural marketplace enrollees could find themselves unable to afford their high insurance premiums.

How Trump Is Dragging America’s Image Down
The American Prospect – July 9, 2017 – Paul Waldman

Other countries know they can no longer look to America as a partner or a leader in any common endeavor. Trump has made it clear that he has no interest in any initiative that doesn’t provide him and the U.S. benefits at the expense of other countries and peoples. It’s not just “America first,” it’s “America first and the rest of you can go screw yourselves.”

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says
The Guardian – July 10, 2017 – Tess Riley

The Carbon Majors Report “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute… Investors should move out of fossil fuels, says Michael Brune, executive director of US environmental organisation the Sierra Club. “Not only is it morally risky, it’s economically risky. The world is moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy and is doing so at an accelerated pace. Those left holding investments in fossil fuel companies will find their investments becoming more and more risky over time.”

In Arkansas, Women Now Need Permission From Men To Get Abortions
The Huffington Post – July 10, 2017 – Jenavieve Hatch

“Every day, women in Arkansas and across the United States struggle to get the care they need as lawmakers impose new ways to shut down clinics and make abortion unavailable,” members of the ACLU said in a statement. “We will fight politicians who not only seek to shame, punish, or burden women for making these decisions, but also try to push care out of reach.”

Ending the Ronald Reagan Lie
Common Dreams – July 11, 2017 – Jeffrey D. Sachs

Our current political travails can be traced to Reagan. In his jovial way, Reagan would quip, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” With his sneering disrespect for government, Reagan ushered in nearly four decades of tax cuts, deregulation, and rising inequality that now threaten to devour our future. Trump, Ryan, and McConnell are the scheming and vacuous politicians at the end of a long process of decline… My own belief? We will soon swing back to an era of grass-roots democracy, led especially by young people, in which public activism will trump big money in politics. Stay tuned.

Threats, bullying, lawsuits: tobacco industry’s dirty war for the African market
The Guardian – July 12, 2017 – Sarah Boseley

Revealed: In pursuit of growth in Africa, British American Tobacco and others use intimidatory tactics to attempt to suppress health warnings and regulation.

New UN Report Documents Legacy of 10-year Siege in Gaza
Informed Comment – July 12, 2017 – from IMEMC

The report calls on Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the international community to take action towards more sustainable development investments, reinvigoration of Gaza’s productive sectors, improvement of freedom of movement for both people and goods, as well as respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. “The alternative” warned Piper, “will be a Gaza that is more isolated and more desperate. The threat of a renewed, more devastating escalation will increase, and the prospects for intra-Palestinian reconciliation will dwindle – and with them, the prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine.”

How Dangerous is Trump’s Flirtation with Violence?
Informed Comment – July 11, 2017 – Ian Buruma

The act of undermining democratic institutions by abusing them in front of braying mobs is not modern at all. It is what aspiring dictators have always done… Over and over again, in societies all over the world, the civilized norms that protect us from anarchy and violence turn out to be perilously thin. Some people may be more disposed to brutality than others, but aggressive impulses can be activated with surprising ease. Petty jealousies or simple greed can swiftly turn unexceptional citizens into agents of barbarism… This is why Trump’s tweets are not just coarse playacting. Once the highest representatives of a democracy start stirring up violence, the mob takes over. The US is no exception: at that point, democracy will die.

Oil Spills Can Disrupt Entire Aquatic Food Web, New Study Shows
Ecowatch – July 12, 2017 – Lorraine Chow

“While the direct effects of oil spills on ecosystems have been well documented, this new study following the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2011 provides the first indication that oil spills can alter the nature of entire aquatic food webs,” said Peter S. Ross, editor-in-chief of AECT [the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology].

Watching the Downfall of a Presidency in Real Time
New York Magazine – July 13, 2017 – Frank Rich

The level of stupidity of the conspirators is staggering: Not the least of the week’s news is that Kushner thought he could get away with omitting this Trump Tower meeting on the government questionnaire he filed to get his security clearance.

If FCC Gets Its Way, We’ll Lose a Lot More Than Net Neutrality
Ars Technica – July 13, 2017 – Jon Brodkin

what’s almost certain is that the FCC will eliminate the Title II classification of Internet service providers. And that would have important effects on consumer protection that go beyond the core net neutrality rules that outlaw blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Without Title II’s common carrier regulation, the FCC would have less authority to oversee the practices of Internet providers like Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Verizon. Customers and websites harmed by ISPs would also have fewer recourses, both in front of the FCC and in courts of law.

Trump is ushering in a dark new conservatism
The Guardian – July 15, 2017 – Timothy Snyder

Stephen Bannon, who promises us new policies “as exciting as the 1930s”, seems to want to return to that decade in order to undo those legacies. He seems to have in mind a kleptocratic authoritarianism (hastened by deregulation and the dismantlement of the welfare state) that generates inequality, which can be channeled into a culture war (prepared for by Muslim bans and immigrant denunciation hotlines). Like fascists, Bannon imagines that history is a cycle in which national virtue must be defended from permanent enemies. He refers to fascist authors in defense of this understanding of the past.

Trump Administration Nixes Grants for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs
Rewire News – July 14, 2017 – Teddy Wilson

The elimination of the grants for teen pregnancy prevention is just the latest move by the Trump administration to reject evidence-based science and embrace ideologically driven policies designed to erode reproductive rights.

The Coup: FDR vs Trump: Understanding Fascism from Henry Wallace
Justice Initiative International – July 12, 2017 – Heather Gray

Below is an article written by Henry Wallace in 1944 for the New York Times entitled “The Danger of American Fascism“. Much of what Wallace wrote in 1944 about fascism sadly echoes of today’s government under Donald Trump. Below is a brief excerpt from Wallace’s article. Wallace says essentially that while attempting to give the impression that they were against the 1930’s fascist movements in Germany and Italy, American fascists were doing the following in their own country: “The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity… They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism.” (Wallace).

Volume XXV – Number 28

Whole Foods Market, Amazon and Inhospitable Hospitality
Portside – June 29, 2017 – Gary Herman, Union Solidarity International

The hostility to worker rights that the two companies share is the future they envision for the entire hospitality industry… The desire to pare labour costs to the bone is driving worrying developments… The good news from New Zealand and New York shows that the hospitality industry can be reformed and need not come to resemble a modern type of slavery. The demands for reasonable pay, decent working conditions, scheduled hours and opportunities for additional hours if required can be met and even mandated. This is a lesson that companies like Amazon and Whole Foods need to learn.

Stooping Lower Than Any President in History
Reader Supported News – July 3, 2017 – Dan Rather, News and Guts

This morning the President stooped lower than perhaps any President in history. He attacked two reputable TV hosts, calling them names we wouldn’t expect to hear from elementary school children.

Bombs Bursting in Air: The Weapons Business Is Booming
Truth Out – July 3, 2017 – John LaForge

Every child killed or maimed by US-made weapons inevitably creates enemies among survivors… Each explosion is guaranteed to produce enough newly minted militants to insure steady orders for more jets, bombs and missiles.

Worried About Those Global Cyber Attacks? They Were Started by Washington
The Nation – June 30, 2017 – William Greider

The notorious US spy agencies—the NSA and CIA—are in the role of Dr. Frankenstein. They invented this monster, but then they lost control over it. Their first intended target was Iran and its nuclear ambitions. But now every unprotected Microsoft computer in the world is theoretically vulnerable to manipulated shut down if it doesn’t get corrective action… What the global economy really needs at this point is a new industrial version of the Geneva Conventions—an agreement that creates new rules of industrial behavior and commerce that every nation must follow if it wants to participate in the global trading system.

Tell Donald Trump: The Paris Climate Deal Is Very Good for America
The Guardian – July 3, 2017 – Joseph Stiglitz

Moving to a green economy would increase US income today and economic growth in the future. In this, as in so many things, Trump is hopelessly mired in the past… the consequences of Trump’s actions are no laughing matter. If the US continues to emit as it has, it will continue to impose enormous costs on the rest of the world, including on much poorer countries. Those who are being harmed by America’s recklessness are justifiably angry.

The special ingredient that helps explain Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic war on Qatar
Vox – July 5, 2017 – Zeeshan Aleem

Saudi Arabia says it’s waging diplomatic war against Qatar because of its support for terrorism. But if you drill below the surface, there’s actually something else that helps explain the crisis: Qatar’s hugely valuable natural gas reserves.

Trump’s alarming environmental rollback: what’s been scrapped so far
The Guardian – July 4, 2017 – Oliver Milman

The White House, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency have dovetailed to engineer a dizzying reversal of clean air and water regulations implemented by Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the travel ban or healthcare, Trump has faced few obstacles in sweeping away what he has called “job-killing” environmental rules that address problems such as climate change, water pollution and smoggy air.

I pick up plastic waste to save it from landfill. It’s lonely but worth it
The Guardian – July 4, 2017 – Andrew Mayers

A futile gesture? Perhaps. But sometimes futile gestures are the only ones we have. And just imagine if even a small percentage of the millions of people in this country, the billions around the world, decided that other people thinking us weird was a small sacrifice to make when the world is facing the greatest peril in human history. Are we really too cool to make a stand against global warming?

No Greatness in Trump’s Call to Kill AmeriCorps
The American Prospect – July 3, 2017 – Dorothy Samuels

As Americans celebrate the ideals of democratic participation and service this Fourth of July, it is an apt moment to decry the betrayal of those values in President Trump’s proposed elimination of all funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The independent federal agency, which oversees AmeriCorps and other public service programs, would only receive the money needed to shut down operations… So how does Team Trump justify trying to end an affordable, popular, and valuable public service program? It’s largely a matter of hard-right ideology and political pressure beating out key facts and the public good—a dominant Trump World theme.

How a Small City Took On a Financial Giant—and Reclaimed Its Most Precious Resource
The Nation – July 5, 2017 – Jimmy Tobias

It was a risky gambit, fraught with political and financial peril: Missoula’s foe was one of Wall Street’s wealthiest private-equity firms, the Carlyle Group, which owned the water utility. The fight that followed was fierce, a conflict of attrition featuring allegations of fraud and duplicitous dealing. Its outcome, however, offers lessons to other communities across the country, and especially in the arid American West, that want to defend their future by controlling their most cherished resource… “It is a really good example of how cities can take back control of their water systems from corporate interests,” says Mary Grant at Food & Water Watch. “It is a really good story about a small community fighting Goliath and winning.” Other Davids in different states have taken notice too.

How power profits from disaster
The Guardian – July 6, 2017 – Naomi Klein

After a crisis, private contractors move in and suck up funding for work done badly, if at all – then those billions get cut from government budgets. Like Grenfell Tower, Hurricane Katrina revealed a disdain for the poor… This creates a disastrous cocktail. Take a group of people who directly profit from ongoing war and then put those same people at the heart of government. Who’s going to make the case for peace?

States Declare Independence From Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law – The Daily Beast – July 6, 2017 – Michael Waldman

Attorneys at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law spent days poring over statutes and rules. They found myriad examples of where it would be improper under state law to give Kobach what he wants… Perhaps all this will yield a surprise. Republican officials are now speaking up to rebut the wilder claims. Agitated voters could see the move as a threat not only to privacy but to basic democratic rights. Maybe Trump’s overreach will discredit the drive for restrictive voting laws.

America At The Dawn of Darkness
Black Star News – July 7, 2017 – Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III

Unlike the period from which The Enlightenment arose, the Dawn of Darkness won’t be known as a time where monarchs regained power. If Trump and the ultra-conservatives get their way, the “divine” of this age will be the rich, filling their coffers at the publics expense through neo-liberal policies with scant opportunity for movement between the socioeconomic classes.

The European Mirror
The American Prospect – July 5, 2017 – Robert Kuttner

Is there any way out of the dialectic of neoliberal policies producing economic backlash and support for the nationalist far right? If there is, it will likely originate in America. Ultra-nationalism as a front for corporate plutocracy is most likely to crash and burn first in the United States. Post-Trump America could mark a return to genuinely progressive politics and policies. As in the Roosevelt years, the United States could once again stand for a brand of globalism that puts the rights of citizens and working families on a par with the rights of finance.

Kobach Under Fire as Pushback to ‘Repugnant’ Voter Data Demand Swells
Common Dreams – July 4, 2017 – Andrea Germanos

Maryland delivered a sharp rebuke… “I find this request for the personal information of millions of Marylanders repugnant; it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”

The Trump Administration’s Voter-Suppression Plans Are Backfiring Badly
The Nation – July 5, 2017 – Ari Berman

In an unprecedented show of bipartisan resistance, 48 states are refusing to hand over private voter data to Kris Kobach.

Frederick Douglas: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”
Justice Initiative International – July 3, 2017 – Heather Grey, Frederick Douglas

Within the now-famous address is what historian Philip S. Foner has called “probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass’ speeches.” What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.

Trump and Christian History: Western Christian Abuses and Terrorism
Justice Initiative International – July 8, 2017 – Heather Grey

In this article I am focusing on the devastating and often violent impact of Christians and Christian doctrine in world history… the dangers of organized religion became more acute to say the least. In fact, I thought that if Bush, and now Trump, was so concerned about those who support terrorism then he probably needed to scrutinize how right-wing Christians here in the United States have supported terrorists here and throughout the world.

How We Can Transition to a “Bottom Up” Economy
Yes! Magazine – July 6, 2017 – Chuck Collins

Trumpism is only the latest appalling chapter in a dominant narrative that holds our unsustainable economy in place, including the myths that a rising tide lifts all boats and that growth is the answer… In the face of renewed calls for trickle-down economic policy—such as proposed tax cuts for the rich and transnational corporations—we urgently need a clearly articulated theory and practice of sustainable economics that works for local communities. Enter a blessing of a book, Anthony Flaccavento’s “Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change.”… He quotes Mimi Pickering, one of the founders of Appalshop, a cultural change resource center in Kentucky: “In order for people to turn away from the politics of denial that have overtaken the electorate … there needs to be a visible counter narrative about what else is possible here.”

Our Best Shot at Meeting Paris Goals? Make Energy Public
Yes! Magazine – July 5, 2017 – Sarah van Gelder

Simply put: Make energy public. Instead of privatizing city services, as some policymakers have long advocated, a new report shows that public ownership gives cities and towns the best shot at meeting renewable energy and efficiency targets. “Reclaiming Public Services: How Cities and Citizens are Turning Back Privatization,” a study by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, challenges the ideas that governments are ineffective service providers, that private companies are more efficient, and that austerity budgeting and reductions in public service are inevitable.

Volume XXV – Number 27

New poll shows majority of Americans are unaware Trumpcare slashes Medicaid
Think Progress – June 24, 2017 – Kiley Kroh

According to a new poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Friday, only 38 percent of Americans are aware of the significant cuts to Medicaid that would be delivered by the House-passed bill (the poll was conducted before the details of the Senate bill ere made public). Seventy-four percent of those polled, meanwhile, said they have a favorable opinion of Medicaid… Ironically, President Donald Trump made protecting Medicaid a key component of his campaign, vowing to “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social security without cuts” in the speech announcing his candidacy.

Poor People Aren’t Involved in Politics. Can Activists Change That?
Moyers and Company – Juned 22, 2017 – John Light

At this point, it’s well documented that the poor will in fact bear the brunt of much of what he and his administration hope to accomplish in the next few years… “The issue that I have with people who are not from the community is that they tend to bring their knowledge of the way it was where they’re from, and not understand what it’s like to work and organize in a rural community,” says Catherine Flowers, an organizer in Lowndes County, Alabama… “We’re starting to have a conversation that we should have had a long time ago, and out of this is going to come something better than what we had before,” Flowers says. “I believe that.”

For-Profit Health Care Is a Merciless Sham
Truth Out – June 21, 2017 – William Rivers Pitt

The health insurance industry, for the most part, is the Mob painted over with a veneer of legitimacy. They’re a protection racket. The Mob got people to pay by offering “protection” for your restaurant or store, and would burn it down if you didn’t pay up. With the insurance industry, your body is the store, and as all flesh is inevitably weak, your store will eventually burn down, taking your financial stability with it unless you pay the insurance middleman in full… health care in the United States is a for-profit industry, like petroleum speculation or automobile manufacture. It’s a few people making a lot of money off of sick people.

Once Passed, Medicaid Cuts Won’t Be Easily Reversed
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – June 23, 2017 – Jacob Leibenluft

Once Congress both changes Medicaid’s basic structure and enacts large annual savings, those cuts are highly unlikely to be reversed. In fact, those structural changes would create a political dynamic that could lead to even larger cuts in the future… To be sure, Medicaid has broad-based support and affects a wide range of seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. But reversing these cuts would require mobilizing support not just for a low-income program but also for the revenue increases to pay for it.

The Senate Health Care Bill Is Crueler Than You Ever Imagined
Cosmopolitan Magazine – June 24, 2017 – Nish Weiseth

Needless to say, the Better Care and Reconciliation Act is giving Americans anything but better care. It not only guts access to vital health services to the poor, elderly, disabled and more, it gives a massive tax cut to the rich and corporations. It’s like reverse Robin Hood – steal from the poor and give to the rich… This is from the party that, for generations, has positioned itself as the party of family values, and a vehemently pro-life party. With the revealing of the Senate’s health care bill, it’s become clear that they don’t actually care about people’s lives at all and certainly not the most vulnerable among us.

Thinking Dangerously: The Role of Higher Education in Authoritarian Times
Truth Out – June 26, 2017 – Henry A. Giroux

In the present moment, it becomes particularly important for educators and concerned citizens all over the world to protect and enlarge the critical formative educational cultures and public spheres that make democracy possible… Authoritarian societies do more than censor; they punish those who engage in what might be called dangerous thinking. At the core of thinking dangerously is the recognition that education is central to politics and that a democracy cannot survive without informed citizens… Democracy should encourage, even require, a way of thinking critically about education — one that connects equity to excellence, learning to ethics, and agency to the imperatives of social responsibility and the public good.

America at War Since 9/11: Reality or Reality TV?
Tom Dispatch – June 27, 2017 – Rebecca Gordon

Now that our democratic connection to the wars fought in our name has receded yet one more step from our real lives and any civilian role in war (except praising and thanking “the warriors”) is fading into the history books, isn’t it about time to ask some questions about the very nature of reality and of those wars?… The enemies may rotate, but the wars only continue and spread like so many metastasizing cancer cells. Even as the number of our wars expands, however, they seem to grow less real to us here in the United States. So it becomes ever more important that we, in whose name those wars are being pursued, make the effort to grasp their grim reality. It’s important to remind ourselves that war is the worst possible way of settling human disagreements.

Trump is right to criticize NAFTA-but he’s totally wrong about why it’s bad for America
Quartz – June 27, 2017 – Jeff Faux, Economic Policy Institute

The problem for American workers is not international trade, per se. America has been a trading nation since its beginning. The problem is, rather, the radical new rules for trade imposed by NAFTA—and copied in the myriad trade deals signed by the US ever since—that shifted the benefits of expanding trade to investors and the costs to workers.

Why are 13 men in charge of healthcare for all American women?
The Guardian – June 28, 2017 – Lucia Graves

But for many, it’s more than the substance of the bill that rankles. Specifically, it feels like a return to a kind of regressive gender politics they hoped had passed in America: a politics in which men make the decisions about what happens to women’s bodies… The moment we’re in right now is truly a pivotal one for women and women’s rights.. for every woman and everyone who cares about their access to healthcare, now is the time to fight back.

Trump‘s Red Line
Die Welt – June 25, 2017 – Seymour M. Hersh

President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack… Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. “None of this makes any sense,” one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. “We KNOW that there was no chemical attack … the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth … I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.“

Trump Administration to Rescind Clean Water Rule
Common Dreams – June 27, 2017 – Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

With each day in office, Trump is firmly cementing his place in history as the worst environmental president to ever hold office.

All of Donald Trump’s Lies
Moyers and Company – June 26, 2017 – Bill Moyers

This weekend, The New York Times performed a noble public service by publishing nearly every lie Donald Trump has told since taking the oath of office (just four months and a few days ago, but it seems like an eternity, no?). The op-ed chart of tiny but readable font fills the entire page, until at one point, in the mind’s eye, they appear to morph into termites burrowing deep into the foundation of democracy, leaving sawdust in their wake… We are using the word ‘lie’ deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naivete to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.

Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission Is ‘Laying the Groundwork for Voter Suppression’
Think Progress – June 29, 2017 – Kira Lerner and Joshua Eaton

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach confirmed in a letter Thursday that the single objective of President Donald Trump’s commission on voting is to find evidence to corroborate the president’s lie that voter fraud impacted the 2016 election. Kobach, who serves as co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, asked all 50 secretaries of state to provide him with “publicly-available voter roll data” including voters’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political party, last four digits of social security numbers, voter history, felony convictions, and other identifying information. The letter does not say how Kobach or Vice President Mike Pence, the commission chair, plan to use the information or how they will keep it secure.

The Worst Is Yet to Come With Trump, so We Must Be Ready for Shock Politics
Democracy Now – July 1, 2017 – Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein

I noticed a brutal and recurring tactic by right-wing governments. After a shocking event—a war, a coup, a terrorist attack, market crash or natural disaster—exploit the public’s disorientation, suspend democracy, push through radical policies that enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the poor and middle class… some savvy people around Trump are using the daily shocks as cover to advance wildly pro-corporate policies that bear little resemblance to what Trump pledged on the campaign trail… But here is one thing I’ve learned over two decades of reporting from dozens of crises around the world: These tactics can be resisted. And, for your convenience, I’ve tried to boil it down to a five-step plan.

American Healthcare Is in Crisis. We Must Fight for the Real Needs of the People
The Guardian – June 30, 2017 – Bernie Sanders and James E Clyburn

Ask any doctor or nurse, and they will tell you this: having reliable access to high-quality primary healthcare is a big part of what keeps people healthy. This is exactly what the more than 1,400 federally qualified community health centers and their 10,000 delivery sites in this country provide every day… while we vigorously oppose the Republican plan, it is equally important that we fight for a healthcare system that addresses the real needs of the American people, including millions of Americans who lack access to good quality primary care. The legislation we have introduced is an important step in that direction.

Five Ways the Denver Public Library Supports the City’s Homeless Population
Truth Out – July 1, 2017 – Courtney Pankrat

My work at the Denver Public Library over the past year and a half has opened my eyes to the innovative ways in which libraries can play a role in addressing the needs of a city’s homeless population.

A Presumption of Guilt
The New York Review of Books – July 13, 2017 issue – Bryan Stevenson

People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are often assumed to be guilty and dangerous. In too many situations, black men are considered offenders incapable of being victims themselves. As a consequence of this country’s failure to address effectively its legacy of racial inequality, this presumption of guilt and the history that created it have significantly shaped every institution in American society, especially our criminal justice system.

Are We in the Midst of a Mass Extinction? Five Previous Ones Give Clues
Portside – July 1, 2017 – Alex Dunhill, The Conversation

Current extinction rates are 50 times higher than expected background rates, suggesting that another mass extinction event is underway… If we can stop the biodiversity decline in the near future, we may yet escape mass extinction. But 100 or 1,000 years more of human-caused stress on the biosphere will likely tip us over the edge into oblivion.

Reclaiming Public Services
Portside – July 1, 2017 – Satoko Kishimoto, Olivier Petitjean, Lavinia Steinfort

This is an in-depth world tour of new initiatives in public ownership and the variety of approaches to deprivatisation.

There Are Good Policing Rules—Why Won’t Officers Use Them With People of Color?
Yes! Magazine – June 28, 2017 – Christopher Zumski Finke

Here’s what I learned: In 1829, a member of the British Parliament named Sir Robert Peel wrote nine principles for policing communities. They include, “the police must secure the willing cooperation of the public” and “the police should use only the minimum degree of physical force necessary on any particular occasion.” Every cop in the United States should have learned them.

Volume XXV – Number 26

The U.S. Government Has Become the Ultimate Extension of Donald Trump’s For-Profit Brand
The Intercept – June 12, 2017 – Naomi Klein

President Trump is at the center of an “unprecedented constitutional violation.” Whether it’s $270,000 in payments from a lobbying firm working for the Saudi government or praise from the Ambassador of Georgia (also a paying customer), Trump’s hotels and properties continue to rake it in from governments across the globe, from Turkey to Kuwait to India to Afghanistan to Qatar… the very idea that there could be – or should be – any distinction between the Trump brand and the Trump presidency is a concept the current occupant of the White House cannot begin to comprehend. The presidency is the crowning extension of the Trump brand.

Nuclear Weapons Ban? What Needs to be Banned Is U.S. Arrogance
Counterpunch – June 16, 2017 – Diana Johnstone

In a context of almost total indifference, marked by outright hostility, representatives of over a hundred of the world’s least powerful countries are currently opening another three-week session of United Nations talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons. Very few people even know this is happening… The United States with its nuclear arsenal is like a demented maniac with delusions of grandeur. The delusions are institutional rather than individual.

Turning Back the Clock on Hunger and Malnutrition
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – June 19, 2017 – Robert Greenstein

Will we keep pushing ahead and continue to make progress, or will we turn the clock back toward the conditions of the 1960s? That’s what’s at stake as President Trump and some in Congress propose to fundamentally alter and deeply cut the food stamp program, in part by giving states broad new authority — and strong financial incentives — to slash the program’s already modest benefit levels… Today, food stamps — which we now call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — is stronger than ever. It provides a basic nutrition benefit to low-income families and individuals, including those who are elderly or have disabilities and can’t afford an adequate diet… Rather than trap families in poverty and discourage work, SNAP provides temporary help for millions of households when they’re struggling; when their situations improve, they leave the program.

The Link Between Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings
The New Yorker – June 16, 2017 – Jane Mayer

As Rebecca Traister has written, for New York magazine, “what perpetrators of terrorist attacks turn out to often have in common more than any particular religion or ideology, are histories of domestic violence.”… Obviously, not everyone accused of domestic violence becomes a mass shooter. But it’s clear that an alarming number of those who have been accused of domestic abuse pose serious and often a lethal threats, not just to their intimate partners but to society at large… The N.R.A., with its yearly budget of three hundred million dollars, has mastered the dark art of substituting money for popular will. By spending strategically and threatening to “primary” any office-holder who deviates from its agenda, it has managed to impose an extremist agenda that seems almost unchallengeable. America now has something like eighty-eight guns per hundred citizens—the highest concentration in the world—yet, inevitably, there will be calls for more tomorrow.

Victories Against Trump Are Mounting. Here’s How We Deal the Final Blow
The Guardian – June 18, 2017 – Rebecca Solnit

The future is not written. It is ours to write. In this moment of utter turmoil, civil society must be the counter to a rogue administration, one whose victory is a surprise equaled by its myriad defeats ever since. A crisis, says one dictionary, is “the point in the progress of a disease when a change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death; also, any marked or sudden change of symptoms, etc.” This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous America. Where we go from here is up to us.

A Third of the World Now Faces Deadly Heatwaves as Result of Climate Change
The Guardian – June 19, 2017 – Oliver Milman

Global warming is a potent instigator of deadly heat, with research from University of California, Irvine this month finding the probability of a heatwave killing in excess of 100 people in India has doubled due to a 0.5C increase in temperature over the past 50 years. “The impact of global climate change is not a specter on the horizon. It’s real, and it’s being felt now all over the planet,” said Amir AghaKouchak, UCI associate professor and co-author of that study. “It’s particularly alarming that the adverse effects are pummeling the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

What Climate Deniers Want Next After Winning Paris Pullout
Ecowatch – June 19, 2017 – Lorraine Chow

[That] greenhouse gas emissions endangers public health and welfare might seem wholly unremarkable. However, the endangerment finding not only cemented a consensus within the scientific community, it also legally obligates the EPA to regulate sources of that pollutant under the Clean Air Act—including power plants, cars, trucks and other sources that combust coal, oil and natural gas. By unraveling the endangerment finding, the U.S. is legally washing its hands of climate change litigation brought by environmental groups… there could be more sinister moves at play. For one, “undoing the endangerment finding would also empower the federal government to instantly repeal all existing regulations that reduce global warming,” New Republic’s Emily Atkin noted, such as the Clean Power Plan and Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks—two of the Heartland Institute’s top five environmental policy priorities.

These are the people at the mercy of Trump’s healthcare bill
The Guardian – June 20, 2017 – Drew Philp

“The American Healthcare Act will be a disaster for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter Berns CEO of the Arc, a nationwide charity federation. “It will have a devastating impact on their lives and will frankly be a giant step backward with all the progress the disability community has made over the years.”

Jim Crow GOP Steals Another Election as Brain Dead Democrats and Media Say Nothing
Reader Supported News – June 21, 2017 – Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Not one major media outlet reported that GOP secretaries of state like Handel have been using the infamous Crosscheck program to strip untold numbers of minority and other suspected Democrats from the registration rolls. As reported by Greg Palast in THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY, Crosscheck was developed by Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach to eliminate millions of non-white voters from the registration rolls. In 2016, some 30 GOP secretaries of state used it to help put Trump in the White House… Neither the corporate media nor the corporate Democrats seem able to handle the inconvenient truth that our electoral system is, as Donald Trump says, totally rigged.

Some Reflections on the Special Election in Georgia
Reader Supported News – Dan Rather’s Facebook Page – June 22, 2017

There will be 435 Congressional races on the ballot in 2018. The Republicans can’t play this level of defense on all of them. It is a very different game, about candidate recruitment, tactical decision making and competing in races no one saw as on the radar.

Why The FBI Usually Doesn’t Label Attacks By Non-Muslims Terrorism
Huffington Post – June 21, 2017 – Ryan J. Reilly and Mollie Reilly

Under federal law, it is much easier to deploy terrorism-related charges against individuals inspired by radical Islam, because even elements like retweets can be considered material support for a designated foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. does not label domestic extremist groups as terrorist organizations, as banning Americans from supporting U.S.-based organizations would raise First Amendment issues… it’s time for the nation of reconsider what it labels as terrorism. Attorney General Eric Holder said Charleston should serve as a ”wake-up call? on domestic terrorism. People like Roof, he explained, can become radicalized on U.S. soil without the aid or influence of a foreign terror network.

This Bill Will Do You Harm
Reader Supported News – Barack Obama’s Facebook Page – June 23, 2017

Right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Race to Solar-Power Africa
The New Yorker – June 26 issue – Bill McKibben

Many Western entrepreneurs see solar power in Africa as a chance to reach a large market and make a substantial profit. This is a nascent industry, which, at the moment, represents a small percentage of the electrification in the region, and is mostly in rural areas. There’s plenty of uncertainty about its future, and no guarantee that it will spread at the pace of cell phones. Still, in the past eighteen months, these businesses have brought electricity to hundreds of thousands of consumers—many of them in places that the grid failed to reach, despite a hundred-year head start.

The United States Is Stumbling Into Another Decade of War
The Washington Post – June 22, 2017 – Fareed Zakaria

In almost every situation that U.S. forces are involved in, the solutions are more political than military. This has become especially true in places such as Syria and Afghanistan, where many regional powers with major interests have staked out positions and spread their influence. Military force without a strategy or deeply engaged political and diplomatic process is destined to fail, perhaps even to produce unintended consequences — witness the past decade and a half.

What would happen if everyone recycled?
USA Today – June 22, 2017 – Ashley May

“As a society, if everyone recycled we will have moved from a linear ‘take, make, waste’ economy to one that is more circular by keeping materials in our economy and not allowing them to waste away in landfills,” Brenda Pulley, senior vice president of recycling with Keep America Beautiful, wrote via email. “It would contribute enormous environmental, economic and social benefits across the country.”… The Bureau of International Recycling, a global recycling organization based in Belgium, believes recyclables should be recognized as the seventh most important resource, behind water, air, coal, oil, natural gas and minerals. BIR President Ranjit Baxi said recycling has not only environmental benefits, but also paramount economic ones.

A new ‘solar paint’ lets you transform your entire house into a source of clean energy
Business Insider – June 25, 2017 – Patrick Caughill, Futurism

Though the paint isn’t expected to be commercially viable within the next five years, Daeneke told Inverse he believes the end product will be cheap to produce. He also claims the paint would be effective in a variety of climates, from damp environments to hot and dry ones near large bodies of water: “Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.” … When this new material finally makes its way to consumers, it’ll join the ever-growing list of innovative technologies that are moving humanity away from fossil fuels and toward a future of clean, renewable sources of energy.

Single-payer healthcare for California is, in fact, very doable
Los Angeles Times – June 21, 2017 – Robert Pollin

The plan enjoys widespread support — a recent poll commissioned by the California Nurses Assn. found that 70% of all Californians are in favor of a single-payer plan — and with good reason. Under Healthy California, all residents would be entitled to decent healthcare without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copays. But as critics of the bill have pointed out, a crucial question remains: Is Healthy California economically viable? According to research I conducted with three colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the answer is yes.

Rev. William Barber Says GOP Voter Suppression the ‘Real Hacking’ of US Democracy
Common Dreams – June 23, 2017 – Jake Johnson, staff writer

Barber—a member of the NAACP national board of directors and a key figure in the successful effort to overturn North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered districts—argued that absent deliberate efforts by Republican lawmakers to prevent minorities from voting, a Donald Trump victory “would have never been possible.”… The only way to combat the right-wing attack on voting rights, Barber concluded, is to “build a multiracial, multicultural, multigenerational coalition committed to the common good and a democracy that works for all. This is the kind of resistance that can transform the politics that make Trump possible.”

Health Care Has Been Cut Before. Here’s What Happened
Yes! Magazine – June 23, 2017 – Simon Haeder

The consequences of those rare cases are nonetheless instructive. States were unable to continue the program without federal support or offer a valid replacement. Indeed, the programs quickly faded away. With them, millions of Americans lost access to health care… In all three previous cases, the federal government eventually renewed its financial support. However, at times it took time for a replacement program to emerge. The current changes proposed by congressional Republicans, particularly to the Medicaid program, are tremendously more consequential than anything we have previously experienced. Indeed, in scale and extent, the proposed changes are unprecedented and would significantly roll back, likely for the foreseeable future, America’s safety net.

Wage Love to End Debt’s Stranglehold
Yes! Magazine – June 21, 2017 – Sarah van Gelder

Instead of using debt to punish communities of color and the poor and justify the selling off of community assets, instead of emergency powers that take away self-rule, we should invest in all communities and defend our civic and natural legacies for future generations of all races… what waging love looks like: supporting one another in rejecting second-class citizenship and in calling instead for government to serve the needs of their citizens and to invest in a future that will work for all people.