A series of terrorist bombings took place in Brussels, Belgium early this morning just days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving member of the group that perpetrated the attacks in Paris last November. This is a breaking story.
At least 26 people are dead and more than 100 wounded, after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour, Belgian officials say. Two blasts hit the international airport; another struck a metro station. Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting “serious and imminent attack.”
“What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a midday news conference Tuesday. He added that there were many dead and many injured.
Citing Minister of Social Affairs and Health Maggie De Block, Belgian media say 11 people died in the airport attack. Transit and other officials say 15 people died at the metro station. Those same sources say there were 81 injured at the airport and 55 hurt in an attack on a train near the Maelbeek station.
French President Francois Hollande says, “terrorists struck Brussels, but it was Europe that was targeted — and all the world that is concerned.”
Obviously, the number of dead and injured could go up as authorities learn more. See live tweets with photos at the link.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – MARCH 22: Passengers are evacuated from Zaventem Bruxelles International Airport after a terrorist attack on March 22, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. At least 13 people are though to have been killed after Brussels airport was hit by two explosions whilst a Metro station was also targeted. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
Three explosions rocked Brussels on Tuesday morning, killing more than two dozen people and injuring an untold number of others, according to local authorities and reports from the ground. While the cause of the blasts—two at the city’s airport and then one in its subway system about an hour later—remain unknown, officials are treating them as acts of terrorism. The carnage comes only days after Belgium police arrested Salah Abdeslam, the man believed to be the sole remaining survivor of the 10 men who carried out the terrorist attacks in Paris this past November that killed 130 people.
The latest update says “several of the apparent attackers may still at large.”
Jef Versele, from the Belgian city of Ghent, was making his way to check-in for a flight to Rome at Brussels Airport Tuesday morning when he heard a loud noise emanating from several floors below him.
“At first I was not aware that it was a bomb,” he told CNN. “I had the idea that an accident had happened in a food court or something like that.”
The explosion set off a panic, with people screaming and running through the terminal, before it was followed by a second explosion, “which was in my eyes much more powerful than the first one.”
The second blast, which blew out windows at the airport and brought ceiling panels down, left people collapsed on the floor and triggered even greater panic.
“It was quite a mess,” he told CNN.
He said although he was two floors above the source of the explosions — at least one of which was a suicide bombing, according to Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw — many people around him were injured by the blast. He said there about 50 to 60 injured on his level of the airport, while the scenes on the lower levels were worse.
“A lot of people were on the floor. They were injured,” Versele said. “I think I was lucky, I was very lucky. I think I have a guardian angel somewhere.”
President Obama will address the Cuban people directly Tuesday, delivering a speech that will be televised live on state television.
The address in Havana’s newly renovated Gran Teatro, before an audience of invited guests of the U.S. and Cuban government, is the keystone event in Obama’s two-and-a-half-day visit to the island. His top advisers said it represented his best chance to outline his vision of the future to ordinary citizens here, and to Cuban Americans at home.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Monday the speech was “important because it’s the one chance to step back and to speak to the Cuban people, and all of the Cuban people,” including “Cubans in the United States.”
One of Obama’s overarching goals in fostering a diplomatic thaw with America’s longtime adversary, Rhodes said, was “reconciliation of the Cuban American community to Cubans here on the island.”
Still, even the speech’s setting spoke to the ongoing challenge the United States faces when it comes to engaging in a public dialogue in Cuba. American officials had originally hoped to do the address in an open-air setting, which would have allowed more ordinary citizens to attend. Instead, the national theater accommodates roughly 1,000 people, and the two governments evenly divided the tickets.
And even as the president seeks to highlight how his approach to Latin America has paid dividends, a series of blasts at Brussels’s airport and a metro station Tuesday served as a powerful reminder that terrorism overseas continues to threaten global stability. The apparently coordinated strikes have killed at least 26 people.
Back in the USA, Arizona is holding a presidential primary today and there will be caucuses in Idaho and Utah. (In Idaho, the Republicans have already voted.) On the Democratic side, Arizona, with 75 delegates, is the biggest prize.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with supporters at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni MARIO ANZUONI / Reuters
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Guadalupe Arreola can’t vote in the Arizona primary Tuesday because she is undocumented, so she has spent the last few weeks encouraging Latinos who can to vote for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. On Sunday, she hosted a phone bank at her house. More than 50 people showed up.
“There are people who still don’t know Bernie Sanders, and I want to raise awareness of who he is,” said Arreola, whose daughter Erika Andiola is Sanders’ Latino media spokeswoman.
Martin Hernandez said he likes Clinton’s stance on a number of issues important to Latinos, including healthcare and immigration. An organizing director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99, hesaid he especially likes that that she seems to understands the needs of Latino workers.
“I want somebody in the presidency who is going to help workers, especially those in our immigrant community,” he said. “They are the ones who face the most abuse. Many of them are underpaid and their rights are violated by their employers.”
Arreola and Hernandez represent the split that exists among Latino Democrats in Arizona on whether Sanders or Clinton should be the Democratic nominee for president. Both candidates have the backing of prominent Latino leaders, some of whom have appeared in television and radio ads being broadcasted across the state.
I’m not sure if NBC is just trying to make the primary look close or not. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Clinton is leading Sanders in Arizona 53-23, but FiveThirtyEight says there hasn’t been enough polling for them to project a winner. From everything I’ve heard, I think Hillary will win Arizona, and Sanders could win the Iowa and Utah caucuses.
Horrifying photo of Donald Trump at a rally in Salt Lake City.
However, there’s a wild card in Utah, according to Al Giordano (from privately distributed newsletter). He says that more and more Mormon women are voting Democratic, and it’s possible they could caucus for Clinton. Mormons absolutely hateand fear Donald Trump, so Giordano argues that it’s even possible that Utah could turn blue in November if Trump is the GOP nominee.
So far in 2016, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have proven to be one of the most stubbornly anti-Trump constituencies in the Republican Party — a dynamic that will likely manifest itself in Utah’s presidential caucuses next week.
National polling data focused on Mormon voters is hard to come by, but the election results speak for themselves. Even as Trump has steamrollered his way through the GOP primaries, he has repeatedly been trounced in places with large LDS populations.
In Wyoming, the third-most-heavily Mormon state in the country, Trump was able to muster just 70 votes in the low-turnout Republican caucuses there — losing to Ted Cruz by a whopping 59 points.
In Idaho, the country’s second most Mormon state, Trump lost the primary by 18 points.
And in the Mormon mecca of Utah, the most recent primary poll has Trump in third place — more than 40 points behind Cruz and 18 points behind Kasich.
The pattern holds at the county level as well. As New York Times data journalist Nate Cohn illustrated, the larger the proportion of Mormons in a given county, the worse Trump has generally performed in the primary contest there.
First, the state’s adopted son, Mitt Romney, went gunning for Trump for weeks on end, and eventually revealed that he was backing Ted Cruz in the upcoming caucuses. Utah is adjacent to Idaho and Wyoming, where Trump has seen two of his biggest losses so far, both to Cruz. In a poll from Y2 Analytics released over the weekend, Trump comes in third, 42 points behind Cruz. (If Cruz wins more than half of the votes in the state, he gets all of the state’s 40 delegates.)
What’s even more remarkable, though, is that another poll suggested that Trump would lose to either Democrat in Utah in the general election. Utah is, of course, one of the reddest states — if not the reddest state — in the country. “Any matchup in which Democrats are competitive in the state of Utah is shocking,” Brigham Young University’s Christopher Karpowitz said to the Deseret News about that result.
Why? Mormon voters, of course; but polling (see lots of graphics at the link) show that people of any religion who are regular church-goers are more likely to be anti-Trump.
What may be prompting the stiff resistance to Trump, then, isn’t just that Utah is home to a lot of Mormons — it’s that those Mormons are more religious and that religious voters are more likely to view Trump with hostility.
The good news for Trump is that most of the states with the largest groups of regular churchgoers have already voted. Most are in the Bible Belt, as you might expect — a region where Trump did very well. Political beliefs are more complicated than they might appear at first glance. Sort of like religious ones.
It’s an interesting wild card, and something to keep an eye on. I’d certainly expect Jewish voters to be frightened by Trump’s strong-man campaign.
So . . . lots of things happening around the world today. What stories are you following? Dakinikat will post a live blog this evening for us to discuss primary and caucus results.
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It’s time to break through the Overton window and speak truthfully about Donald Trump. This awful man is a national emergency. The extreme language he has been using in his campaign for President is damaging our country both domestically and internationally.
Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS and other extremists, including right wing groups here in the U.S. His words have already inspired violence and could lead to more attacks on Muslims, African Americans, and Latino-Americans. He is an embarrassment that all Americans should reject–but many won’t.
Trump can no longer be viewed as just a clown or a blowhard jerk. He is dangerous.
What if Trump somehow wins the Republican nomination? What if he actually wins the general election and his fascist ideas become White House policy? He has to be stopped. But how?
(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from theCenter for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.
Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” –Donald J. Trump
The hatred being spewed by Donald Trump and his advisers is what is “beyond comprehension.” It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to look at the latest news for fear there will be more ugly hateful reports on the latest speeches and statements by this evil man.
Fortunately, some Republicans are finally speaking out against him, although not very forcefully. Republicans are probably the only people who can stop this man, but they are going to have to get organized very quickly if they really hope to do it. Two Republican reactions:
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants to America “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Ryan, who has been Speaker of the House for less than six weeks, had previously eschewed weighing in on presidential politics. He did so Tuesday after an announcement late Monday that Trump would no longer be participating in a Republican National Committee fundraiser later this week.
“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said in the RNC lobby on Capitol Hill. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and defend the constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast vast vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism and freedom, democracy and individual rights.”
State Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said Monday that Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States is “un-American.” ….
Horn, who has been a frequent critic of Trump in recent months, said:
“There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position (as party chairwoman) is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”
All well and good.
But two top Trump supporters in New Hampshire said the controversial Republican presidential frontrunner is right.
State Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Steve Stepanek of Amherst said Horn should resign her post for criticizing Trump because she is not being neutral in the presidential primary.
Following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘scall for a ban on all Muslim immigrantson Monday, newspapers and digital media outlets around the world responded with tired Nazi comparisons. In particular, the Philadelphia Daily Newsand the Times of Israelpaired their stories with images depicting Trump giving what looks like the infamous Nazi salute.
The Times of Israel‘s image selection was especially noticeable for two reasons, the first being that it was taken fromTrump’s speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last week. The New York real estate magnate, standing before the crowd of conservative Jewish voters, is seen giving what looks an awful lot like Adolf Hitler‘s trademark stance.
Excuse me? “tired Hitler comparisons?” Who else should Trump be compared to based on his language and stated policies? The Philadelphia Daily News put a photo of Trump as Hitler on its front page. From Business Insider:
The tabloid’s cover directly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, using a photo of the Republican presidential front-runner with his arm raised to look like a Nazi salute. The front-page headline further used a “furor” pun to compare Trump to the German führer.
Philadelphia police, the FBI, and the city’s Human Relations Commission launched investigations Monday after a worker at a North Philadelphia mosque found a severed pig’s head outside its door.
Surveillance video outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, on Germantown Avenue near Jefferson Street, showed a red pickup truck drove past the building twice just before 11 p.m. Sunday.
The first time it crept along slowly near the curb. On its second pass, the video shows, someone extended an arm from the passenger window and tossed something that rolled to a stop near the mosque’s front door.
An employee found the bloodied animal head there around 6 a.m. Monday. Pigs are considered insulting to Muslims who observe halal dietary laws.
Police and the FBI confirmed they were reviewing the incident, though they said it was too early to discuss potential charges.
“We’ve got to be involved,” said Officer Pete Berndlmaier of the 26th District, who gathered information at the scene. “If they get away doing something like that, they are going to up the ante.”
No kidding. Just as Donald Trump keeps “upping the ante.”
Donald Trump went on a series of rhetorical rants on Tuesday morning, saying he does not mind comparisons to Adolf Hitler and tussling with morning show anchors about his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, calling his approach more akin to what Hitler’s American contemporary did during World War II.
“You’re increasingly being compared to Hitler. Doesn’t that give you any pause at all?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican poll leader on “Good Morning America,” displaying an image of the Philadelphia Daily News’ punning Tuesday front-page headline “The New Furo
In response, Trump said no, invoking what he termed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese many years ago” during World War II. “This was a president that was highly respected by all,” Trump said, remarking upon the Democratic president’s actions during the war. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”
Yes, and Ronald Reagan approved reparations for Japanese Americans. But apparently Trump thinks one terrible mistake justifies his own ghastly policies.
And get this: Trump wants to shut down the internet to stop jihadists from communicating with each other!
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just said the US should consider “closing up” the internet to curb radical extremism. Trump, a man that routinely claims everyone in charge of the US is stupid, believes that as president he could just call up Bill Gates to help him shut off the internet. Trump floated the idea at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina tonight as a way to stop ISIS “jihadists” from recruiting Americans to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The idea is so dumb it almost has us, too, at a loss for words.
“We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet,” Trump said. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”
Trump may be ignorant. He may even be stupid. He’s also very dangerous.
What stories are you following today?
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Today I thought I’d give you some long, interesting reads to fill what I hope is a nice quiet day for you! Some of these are related to the holiday we celebrate today. You’ll notice that I’ve put up some photos of what it meant to be worker back in the day including pictures of child labor which was made illegal with the help of Union activism. No Labor Day celebration would be complete without a generous selection of Pete Seeger tunes. Check the bottom and listen to this American Treasure!
This Labor Day, while you’re enjoying the three-day-weekend, take a moment to celebrate the heroes of the union movement. These noteworthy people left behind a legacy that we enjoy today, from the end of child labor to the more humane treatment of farm workers.
My next selection is from the UK Guardianand explains why the US middle class started really losing ground during the Dubya years. This is especially true of wages.
Until recently, an examination of the labour market relied on the annual publication of average wages. That is how the story of flat wages for the many and super-returns for the few over such a long period has emerged. Each calculation of average wages is a snapshot of all the people in the workforce. Unfortunately, millions of people quit the labour market during the year and others join. It is not the same cohort, and not just at the outer margins.
Robert J Shapiro, a former economic adviser to Bill Clinton who now runs the Sonecon consultancy in Washington, grabbed the opportunity to look at the raw census data when the US statistical office published it a few years ago.
He tracked the median incomes of average households as they travelled through the decades, checking on the progress of men versus women, Hispanic people versus black and white people, college graduates and different age groups. The report presents us with a more nuanced picture of the workforce and how it has fared.
He found that the 1980s boom, which gained traction in the middle of the decade, boosted the wages of all but the oldest group of workers. So large, steady income gains characterised the average household whether they were headed by men or women, or by people with high school diplomas or college degrees, whatever their ethnicity.
As Shapiro said: “This evidence contradicts the narrative told by those who track the value of aggregate income from the 1970s to present the claim that most Americans have made little progress for decades.”
The momentum dissipated in the first Bush presidency between 1989 and 1993 and accelerated again in the Clinton years before running out of steam in the early 2000s
Then came the downturn. The second Bush era, under George W, was painful for almost all but twentysomething college graduates, who even survived the 2008 crash with barely a scratch, and was worst for those without a high school diploma. Shapiro says the least educated saw their incomes “devastated” after 2001.
“Across the three younger age-cohorts, the median income of households headed by people without high school diplomas fell an average of 1.9% per year as they aged through the 2002-2007 expansion; and over the entire period from 2002 to 2013, their median incomes fell by an average of 1.8% year as they aged,” the report says.
Between 2010 and 2013, households where the main earner had been aged 25 to 29 back in 1982 suffered even more if they quit education before going to high school. They lost 7.1% in income in each year as vast numbers either took a cut in pay, in hours or were made unemployed.
The rise and fall of the average workers’ wages documented in the report chimes with the business cycle and the trend in Europe, which followed a similar trajectory.
The average German worker made income gains through the same period before a deregulation of the labour market under the Social democrat Gerhard Schroeder brought about an effective freeze in wages from 2003.
In the UK, the chancellor at the time, Gordon Brown, reacted to the downturn by switching on the government spending taps. He introduced tax credits as an income top-up to offset the trend for flat or falling real wages. It was a policy that insulated British workers from a trend that clobbered Americans and to a lesser extent German workers.
Retelling the economic story of the 1980s, Shapiro says the US benefited from a mix of Reagan’s expansionary policies in defence and infrastructure and the collapse of commodity prices after the inflationary oil shocks of the 1970s.
George Bush senior was forced to cope with the borrowing hangover from the Reagan years before Clinton assumed the presidency.
Another Guardian article explains how US and British policy in Iraq and Syria actually grew and predicted and WISHED for the rise of ISIS.
A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts – and effectively welcomes – the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria.
Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the Pentagon report goes on, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”.
Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isn’t a policy document. It’s heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.
That doesn’t mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it – as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.
The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.
In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.
The right music can evoke powerful emotions seemingly out of the blue, but under the influence of LSD the musical experience is enhanced even further. This according to the Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme whichtested this long held assumption under a modern placebo-controlled study for the very first time.
Ten healthy volunteers listened to five different tracks of instrumental music during each of two study days, a placebo day followed by an LSD day, separated by 5–7 days. After listening to each track, participants were asked to rate their experience on a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the nine-item Geneva Emotional Music Scale (GEMS-9). According to the participants’ subjective ratings, LSD enhanced the emotions they felt while listening to the instrumental tracks, particularly those described as “wonder”, “transcendence”, “power” and “tenderness”.
This article from The Atlantic on how universities are helping student protect themselves from ideas and philosophies they don’t want to hear was really quite astounding to me.
Among the most famous early examples was the so-called water-buffalo incident at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, the university charged an Israeli-born student with racial harassment after he yelled “Shut up, you water buffalo!” to a crowd of black sorority women that was making noise at night outside his dorm-room window. Many scholars and pundits at the time could not see how the termwater buffalo (a rough translation of a Hebrew insult for a thoughtless or rowdy person) was a racial slur against African Americans, and as a result, the case became international news.
Claims of a right not to be offended have continued to arise since then, and universities have continued to privilege them. In a particularly egregious 2008 case, for instance, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis found a white student guilty of racial harassment for reading a book titled Notre Dame vs. the Klan. The book honored student opposition to the Ku Klux Klan when it marched on Notre Dame in 1924. Nonetheless, the picture of a Klan rally on the book’s cover offended at least one of the student’s co-workers (he was a janitor as well as a student), and that was enough for a guilty finding by the university’s Affirmative Action Office.
These examples may seem extreme, but the reasoning behind them has become more commonplace on campus in recent years. Last year, at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, an event called Hump Day, which would have allowed people to pet a camel, was abruptly canceled. Students had created a Facebook group where they protested the event for animal cruelty, for being a waste of money, and for being insensitive to people from the Middle East. The inspiration for the camel had almost certainly come from a popular TV commercial in which a camel saunters around an office on a Wednesday, celebrating “hump day”; it was devoid of any reference to Middle Eastern peoples. Nevertheless, the group organizing the event announced on its Facebook page that the event would be canceled because the “program [was] dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment.”
Because there is a broad ban in academic circles on “blaming the victim,” it is generally considered unacceptable to question the reasonableness (let alone the sincerity) of someone’s emotional state, particularly if those emotions are linked to one’s group identity. The thin argument “I’m offended” becomes an unbeatable trump card. This leads to what Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at this magazine, calls the “offendedness sweepstakes,” in which opposing parties use claims of offense as cudgels. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further.
Since 2013, new pressure from the federal government has reinforced this trend. Federal antidiscrimination statutes regulate on-campus harassment and unequal treatment based on sex, race, religion, and national origin. Until recently, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights acknowledged that speech must be “objectively offensive” before it could be deemed actionable as sexual harassment—it would have to pass the “reasonable person” test. To be prohibited, the office wrote in 2003, allegedly harassing speech would have to go “beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive.”
But in 2013, the Departments of Justice and Education greatly broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include verbal conduct that is simply “unwelcome.” Out of fear of federal investigations, universities are now applying that standard—defining unwelcome speech as harassment—not just to sex, but to race, religion, and veteran status as well. Everyone is supposed to rely upon his or her own subjective feelings to decide whether a comment by a professor or a fellow student is unwelcome, and therefore grounds for a harassment claim. Emotional reasoning is now accepted as evidence.
If our universities are teaching students that their emotions can be used effectively as weapons—or at least as evidence in administrative proceedings—then they are teaching students to nurture a kind of hypersensitivity that will lead them into countless drawn-out conflicts in college and beyond. Schools may be training students in thinking styles that will damage their careers and friendships, along with their mental health.
Also from The Atlanticis this great article by Economist Jared Bernstein on how the poorest among us are not getting the help they need. We’re beginning to find out how the Welfare Reform of the 1990s has been as big of a failure as the Drug Wars of the 1980s.
People who pay attention to poverty, including the poor themselves, know one thing all too well: Over the past few decades, anti-poverty policy in this country has evolved to be “pro-work.” This means that if you’re a low-income parent who’s well connected to the job market, the government will help you in a variety of ways. But, if you’re disconnected from the job market, public policy won’t help you much at all.
How do people in that second group survive?That’s a question that Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, a sociologist and a social-work professor, answer in their new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. It is, as the title suggests, a devastating portrait of families struggling to get by on impossibly low incomes.
A few of their strategies: availing themselves of charities and public spaces (like libraries), selling food stamps for cash (illegal, and they typically get just 60 cents on the dollar on the street), relying on relatives (who can be as hurtful as helpful), selling scrap metal or aluminum cans, selling plasma (which involves considerable angst as to whether a person’s blood’s iron levels are sufficiently high, especially difficult around menstruation), receiving some public support (housing vouchers, nutritional support, disability payments), occasionally holding a job, and—the most common strategy of all—just going without.
Check out these astounding pictures of a small town in California that’s running out of water if you’d like to be stimulated both visually and mentally. This is from Mother Jones who is one of the Labor Leaders we should be celebrating today.
Glance at a lawn in East Porterville, California, and you’ll instantly know something about the people who live in the house attached to it.
If a lawn is green, the home has running water. If it’s brown, or if the yard contains plastic water tanks or crates of bottled water, then the well has gone dry.
Residents of these homes rely on deliveries of bottled water, or perhaps a hose connected to a working well of a friendly neighbor. They take “showers” with water from a bucket, use paper plates to avoid washing dishes, eat sandwiches instead of spaghetti so there’s no need to boil water, and collect water used for cooking and showers to pour in the toilet or on the trees outside.
East Porterville is in Tulare County, a region in the middle of California’s agriculture-heavy Central Valley that’s been especially hard hit by the state’s historic drought. More than 7,000 people in the the county lack running water; three quarters of them live in East Porterville. The community doesn’t have a public water system; instead, residents rely on private wells. But after years of drought, the nearby Tule River has diminished to a trickle and the underground water table has sunk as more and more farmers rely on groundwater. Last week, I spent a few days interviewing residents in the town, also known as “ground zero” of the drought.
Happy Labor Day!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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How could I have slept until 10AM? I can’t believe it. I’ve been waking up really early ever since the time change, which was ages ago. This will be a quickie post, because I have to get ready to go somewhere this afternoon.
Before I get to the latest political news, I wanted to share this weird story I came across a few days ago in The Daily Mail. Please let me know if you think it’s for real or some kind of bizarre mass hypnosis.
A mysterious noise from the sky is continuing to baffle people all over the world – as well as giving those who hear it sleepless nights.
Sounding like a trumpet or a collective from a brass section of an orchestra, a selection of videos shot from the Canada to Ukraine, via the U.S., Germany and Belarus show strange goings on above us.
And the eerie sounds have been continuously heard at all different times and locations for almost a decade.
The first video posted on YouTube recording the unusual, unearthly sounds, was in 2008 when a user recorded the strange sounds in the sky from Homel, in Belarus.
That same year another anonymous user shared the ‘ear-deafening’ sounds that they insisted ‘were not a hoax,’ from a quiet neighbourhood believed to be in the U.S.
Kimberly Wookey from Terrace, British Columbia in Canada first captured the alien sound in June 2013, and since then she has managed to capture several recordings of the noise with her most recent being on May 7 this year.
There are several examples of recordings of the strange sounds at the Daily Mail link. I looked on YouTube, and dozens of these recordings have been posted. Of course the end-timers are going to think these are trumpets from heaven sounding the last days. Someone in New Jersey thinks it’s a UFO.
Is this going to be another crop-circles-type mystery/hoax? Anyway, I love strange stuff like this, so I thought I’d share and see what you think.
The State Department is sharing new details about the deadly fighting in Ramadi, Iraq, last Sunday, saying the city fell into ISIS hands after the militant group set off 30 suicide car bombs in the city center, 10 of which each were comparable in power to the Oklahoma City truck bomb of 1995.
The explosions took out “entire city blocks,” said a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters at the State Department Wednesday on condition that he not be named. The vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs, were able to gain access to the city center after an armored bulldozer plowed through T-wall barricades lining the city’s critical government buildings, the official said, adding that the same bulldozer was later used as a power VBIED, itself.
Soon after the bombs went off, the Iraqis deployed a reinforcing column into the city center, but they were forced to retreat after coming under heavy enemy fire, the official said. That retreat led to a larger exodus of Iraqi security forces and the civilian populations, leaving the streets looking “barren,” according to this official.
ABC also has video at the link. A little more:
The State Department and the Pentagon insist the fall of Ramadi does not closely resemble that of Mosul in 2014, when, after only a week of fighting, Islamic State forces were able to take over the entire city as ISF forces abandoned the posts, equipment and even their uniforms.
The State Department official argued that Ramadi has been fiercely contested for 18 months, as both sides controlled equal parts of the city. It wasn’t until the critical government center fell this weekend that ISIS was able to lay claim to the entire provincial capital.
But the official admitted that, in this case, the Iraqi forces did leave some U.S.-made weapons behind. The official suggested that if the enemy attempts to commandeer any of the bigger weapons, they would be killed in airstrikes.
The capture of Ramadi last weekend by Islamic State fighters is a significant setback for U.S. strategy in Iraq and shows that, nearly a year after the extremists overran Mosul, the United States still doesn’t have a viable plan for protecting the country’s Sunni areas.
The collapse of the Iraqi army in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, was in some ways a replay of the Mosul debacle in June 2014. The Shiite-dominated Iraqi military, though trained and retrained by the United States, appeared to lack the leadership or will to fight off a relatively small but ferocious onslaught of Sunni insurgents.
The Ramadi defeat exposed the sectarian tensions that underlie this war. Among the urgent questions: Are Shiite regular army troops ready to fight and die to protect Sunnis, or will their lines collapse in Sunni areas, as happened in Mosul and now Ramadi? If the tougher Iranian-backed Shiite militias are sent instead to do the job, will the Sunni population see them as a Shiite occupation army — setting the stage for a generation of sectarian revenge killing?
Gee, do you think maybe Bush and Cheney might have made a mistake when they attacked Iraq based on questionable intelligence?
Charles Pierce sees a replay of much tragic events in the more distant past:
It goes back to the “Bloody Shirt” campaigns in the decades after the Civil War. However, at least in those campaigns, the people waving the bloody shirt were doing so at people who actively had committed treason against the government of the United States and were attempting (with too much success) to win at the polls what they’d lost on the battlefield. More recent uses of the techniques sadly have been designed to cover the ass of bellicose mistakes, and worse, all over the world. Which means the “bloody shirt” begins to slide toward the Dolchstosslegendeof post-WWI Germany. And that never is a good thing.
In our current situation, we are seeing the beginnings of the kind of rhetoric that poisoned our politics for decades after the collapse of South Vietnam. In fact, there was a lot of that going around in 2006, when it became plain that the Iraq invasion had been sold on moonshine by a cabal of geopolitical fantasts and Dick Cheney….
The only way for the people who shook their moneymakers for the war in 2002 to justify their continued place in our politics is to use ISIL to replace the aluminum tubes and hope that enough people don’t notice what a grotesque fast shuffle this is. That will clear the way for the candidates on the Republican side — Rubio, Graham, Jeb (!), and, most recently, Chris Christie — who want to revive the old neocon hoo-rah while distancing themselves from its savage consequences. It looks very much like “Who lost Iraq?” may replace the disastrous decisions of the Avignon Presidency in this campaign, and that a good chunk of the Republican field will be perfectly happy to allow that to happen. For all the talk of the president’s fecklessness from the chickenhawk choir, what those candidates are about right now is the worst kind of cowardice.
Jesus. When will it ever end?
Talking Points Memo discusses a recent survey of voter attitudes.
Researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan dug up some surprising results after posing the question: How much do lawmakers really know about their voters’ political views?
“Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points,” David Broockman and Christopher Skovron wrote in a study for the Scholarly Strategy Network originally published in 2013.
To investigate the question, the duo surveyed thousands of state legislators and compared their perceptions of voters to people’s actual views, derived from a large body of public opinion data.
Their conclusion: “legislators usually believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are.”
On three issues — universal healthcare, same-sex marriage, and welfare — lawmakers’ assumptions about what their constituents believed were “15-20 percent more conservative, on average,” than the actual base of public support for such issues.
Most striking, both liberal and conservative lawmakers assume their voters are much further to the right than they actually are.
I’m not surprised, but it’s good to see intuition backed by empirical research.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is topping the headlines today. The Obama administration announced this morning that it will send military troops to deal with the situation. Reuters Reports:
The United States announced on Tuesday that it would send 3,000 troops to help tackle the Ebola outbreak as part of a ramped-up response including a major deployment in Liberia, the country where the epidemic is spiraling fastest out of control.
The U.S. response to the crisis, to be formally unveiled later by President Barack Obama, includes plans to build 17 treatment centers, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters.
The World Health Organization has said it needs foreign medical teams with 500-600 experts as well as at least 10,000 local health workers, numbers that may rise if the number of cases increases, as it is widely expected to.
Liberia is where the disease appears to be running amok. The WHO has not issued any estimate of cases or deaths in the country since Sept 5 and its Director-General Margaret Chan has said there is not a single bed available for Ebola patients there.
Liberia, a nation founded by descendants of freed American slaves, appealed for U.S. help last week.
A U.N. official in the country said on Friday that her colleagues had resorted to telling locals to use plastic bags to fend off the killer virus, for want of any other protective equipment.
Medecins Sans Frontieres, the charity that has been leading the fight against Ebola, said it was overwhelmed and repeated its call for an immediate and massive deployment.
The president’s decision to enlist the U.S. military, whose resources are already under strain as it responds to conflicts in the Middle East, reflects the growing concern of U.S. officials that, unless greater force is brought to bear, the epidemic could wreak havoc on the continent….
Global health experts and international aid groups who have been urging the White House to dramatically scale up its response praised the plan as described. They have said charities and West African governments alone do not have the capacity to stem the epidemic.
The U.S. military, with its enormous logistical capability, extensive air operations, and highly skilled medical corps, could address gaps in the response quickly.
“This is a really significant response on the military side,” said Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a book about the first Ebola outbreak in 1976 and another on the global public-health system. “This is really beginning to seem like a game-changer.”
But much depends on how quickly personnel and supplies can get there.
“The problem is, for every single thing we’re doing, we’re racing against the virus, and the virus has the high ground right now,” she said. “I would hope this would reduce transmission, but it’s all about how fast people can get there and get the job done. If it takes weeks to mobilize, the strategy won’t even be within reach.”
For the past week or so, we’ve been talking quite a bit about the NFL’s domestic violence problem, and in recent days, we’ve focused on Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson’s indictment for beating and injuring his four-year old son. Yesterday we learned that Peterson was also investigated in 2013 for causing head injuries and scars to another four-year-old son from a different mother but was not charged. According to ABC News, Peterson has five children, only one of who lives with him.
As is usually the case with abusers, Adrian Peterson was also a victim in his childhood. Sadly, based on his public statements, Peterson has not yet accepted that what his parents did to him was wrong, and he has continued the cycle of violence with his own children. In fact, he has even praised his parents for the whippings they administered. From ABC News:
Adrian Peterson’s apology for the “hurt” he inflicted on his young son when he punished the boy with a switch was the result of the respect Peterson had for similar discipline his parents had applied to him.
The football star even praised his parents’ tough discipline in his statement today, saying that it prevented him from being “one of those kids that was lost in the streets.”
“I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man,” he said in a statement.
PALESTINE, Texas — David Cummings and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson still talk about the frequent whippings Peterson’s father administered — and one whipping in particular.
Cummings says he and Peterson were leaving football practice while in middle school when Peterson’s father, Nelson, was waiting near the parking lot.
School officials had called Nelson Peterson to report that Adrian had been disruptive in class, recalled Cummings, who played football and basketball with Adrian Peterson during their youth and through high school.
“His dad asked what happened, and Adrian told him,” Cummings said.
With that, Nelson Peterson unstrapped his belt and whipped Adrian Peterson in front of more than 20 students, Cummings said.
Imagine how humiliating that must have been! But Peterson had to suppress his anger at this mistreatment in order to survive in his violent family. Peterson also experience severe childhood trauma, according to ABC News.
When Peterson was 7, he witnessed a drunk driver fatally hit his 9-year-old brother while he was riding his bike. More recently, Peterson’s half brother was fatally shot in Houston in 2007 shortly before the NFL draft.
He told USA Today that when he was 13, his father was sentenced to 10 years in jail after selling crack cocaine for a drug ring and getting caught on drug laundering charges. Visits to the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution and regular letters kept the pair close, but family friends remembered his father Nelson as “a firm disciplinarian.”
USA Today interviewed Peterson’s childhood friend David Cummings about the corporal punishment their parents used when they were growing up.
David Cummings, one of Peterson’s longtime friends in their hometown of Palestine, Texas, tookUSA TODAY Sports on a tour of the wooded area near their homes. Switch heaven. Or, depending on your perspective, switch hell.
“It wouldn’t be a shock to be seen anywhere to get a switch,’’ he said.
But the prime spot were the two trees in the frontyard of Cummings’ family home, across the street from the split-level red brick home where Adrian spent many weekends with his father and grandmother. During the tour, Cummings tugged a branch off the one of the trees and sized it up.
“You’re going to get a bruise from it more than likely,’’ he said.
Oh, and Cummings said they gladly found their switches in light of the alternative: get whipped with a stinging, leather belt.
Unfortunately, Peterson has carried the cycle of violence into the next generation, inflicting abuse on his own children. He needs serious therapy, but first he needs to break the denial and admit that what he experience is child abuse and it is wrong.
When I saw the news that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had been arrested for whipping his young son with a switch, I immediately thought of a 1998 feature story by Washington Post writer Deneen L. Brown. It’s called “A good whuppin?” Editors at The Washington Post thought of it, too. When I did a search for Brown’s story after the Peterson arrest, I happily discovered that her feature story is now on the newspaper’s website.
Better than anybody else I’ve seen, Brown gives a history of corporal punishment in African-American communities. She also does a good job explaining how stories of a “good whuppin'” become the best-told stories of our adulthood.
But there’s another reason the story has always lodged in my head: In doing her research about this kind of punishment, Brown talks to a chair of the department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University who says that black people did not bring this kind of punishment over from Africa. He asserts that black people learned it here.
“There is not a record in African culture of the kind of body attack that whipping represents,” that scholar told Brown for her 1998 report. “The maintenance of order by physical coercion is rare in Africa.”
The belief is that black people began whipping their children out of fear that the overseers and masters would whip them worse. If so, it’s easy to empathize with parents who made that choice. But if those parents inflicted the same punishment that the slave master would have inflicted, how is that punishment a good thing? Is there a difference between a hateful beating and a loving one? Does the latter feel less painful than the former? Does the skin heal differently?
There’s much more. Read it all at NOLA.com.
Here are a few more links to check out, if you’re interested. I need to wrap this up before it gets too late or WordPress decides to wipe out this post again.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.