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  1. Bernie Sanders’ top operatives formed “Our Revolution” after he lost the 2016 primaries to keep his army organized and motivated — and potentially prepare for another presidential run in 2020.

    But an extensive review of the Sanders-inspired group depicts an organization in disarray — operating primarily as a promotional vehicle for its leader and sometimes even snubbing candidates aligned with Sanders. Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor — despite possessing Sanders’ email list, the envy of the Democratic Party — and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own.

    The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator's grass-roots movement is failing in its mission. The problems have also fueled doubts about Sanders’ organizational ability heading into 2020, even after his out-of-nowhere near-march to the nomination two years ago. Critics of the Vermont independent had been worried he’d have a juggernaut-in-waiting to fuel a second presidential campaign, but that anxiety has faded after watching Our Revolution the past year and a half.

    “Our Revolution is going through growing pains,” acknowledged Jane Kleeb, the group’s treasurer, while arguing that progress is being made. “Creating a grass-roots organization is different from running a presidential campaign.”
    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/0.../bernie-sanders-democrats-2018-599331
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2018-05-22)
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  2. In general, Donald Trump is notoriously uninterested in policy details. It has long been obvious, for example, that he never bothered to find out what his one major legislative victory, the 2017 tax cut, actually did. Similarly, it’s pretty clear that he had no idea what was actually in the Iran agreement he just repudiated.

    Let me be upfront here: There’s something fundamentally obscene about this spectacle. Here we have a man who inherited great wealth, then built a business career largely around duping the gullible — whether they were naïve investors in his business ventures left holding the bag when those ventures went bankrupt, or students who wasted time and money on worthless degrees from Trump University. Yet he’s determined to snatch food from the mouths of the truly desperate, because he’s sure that somehow or other they’re getting away with something, having it too easy.

    But however petty Trump’s motives, this is a big deal from the other side. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that new work requirements plus other restrictions proposed by House Republicans would end up denying or reducing nutritional aid to around two million people, mostly in families with children.
    In each case, it was about ego rather than substance: scoring a “win,” undoing his predecessor’s achievement.

    But there are some policy issues he really does care about. By all accounts, he really hates the idea of people receiving “welfare,” by which he means any government program that helps people with low income, and he wants to eliminate such programs wherever possible.

    Most recently, he has reportedly threatened to veto the upcoming farm bill unless it imposes stringent new work requirements on recipients of SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, still commonly referred to as food stamps.

    The thing is, it’s not just Trump: Conservative hatred for food stamps is pervasive. What’s behind it?

    The more respectable, supposedly intellectual side of conservative opinion portrays food stamps as reducing incentives by making life too pleasant for the poor. As Paul Ryan put it, SNAP and other programs create a “hammock” that “lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”
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    But this is a problem that exists only in the right’s imagination. Able-bodied SNAP recipients who should be working but aren’t are very hard to find: A vast majority of the program’s beneficiaries either are working — but at unstable jobs that pay low wages — or are children, elderly, disabled or essential family caregivers.

    Oh, and there’s strong evidence that children in low-income families that receive food stamps become more productive and healthier adults, which means that the program is actually good for long-run economic growth.

    some of the biggest victims of Trump’s obsession with cutting “welfare” will be the very people who put him in office.

    In the end, I don’t believe there’s any policy justification for the attack on food stamps: It’s not about the incentives, and it’s not about the money. And even the racial animus that traditionally underlies attacks on U.S. social programs has receded partially into the background.

    No, this is about petty cruelty turned into a principle of government. It’s about privileged people who look at the less fortunate and don’t think, “There but for the grace of God go I”; they just see a bunch of losers. They don’t want to help the less fortunate; in fact, they get angry at the very idea of public aid that makes those losers a bit less miserable.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/op...gion&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region
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  3. With his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has committed his most irresponsible act in foreign policy to date.

    The move—which Trump took against the urgings of European heads of state, Israeli security officials, dozens of current and former diplomats, his own secretary of defense, and even the conservative chairman of the House Armed Services Committee—can only be attributed to one or more of three motives: a misunderstanding of the deal’s terms, a need to torpedo yet another one of President Obama’s accomplishments, or a desire to weaken or destroy the government of Iran.

    Trump claimed in his televised speech today that Iran is cheating on the deal, but his own intelligence directors have said there is no evidence of this claim whatsoever. The International Atomic Energy Agency has certified Iran’s compliance 10 times since the deal was signed. Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified to a Senate committee last month that, after reading the 140-page agreement three times, he was struck by how “robust” the deal’s verification provisions were.


    This is the main problem with pulling out of the deal, the problem that has made even many critics of the deal urge Trump to stay in: Once the deal is undone, Iran has no obligation to keep hosting the inspectors. It is a long-established fact that Iranian scientists know how to build an atomic bomb. (The trove of 15-year-old documents that Netanyahu theatrically revealed last week—and which Trump cited as the basis for his charge that Iran is cheating—was, in that sense, nothing new, and contained nothing suggesting that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon now.) The deal gives international inspectors intrusive powers to ensure that those scientists aren’t acting on their know-how. Without the deal, they have no such powers. The Iranians once did have a secret nuclear program; without the deal in place, they can restart it, without notice by outsiders.

    And the U.S. withdrawal from the deal means the deal is very likely dead. Reimposing sanctions on Iran would also entail reimposing “secondary sanctions” on banks and other enterprises that do business with Iran. Most foreign companies, faced with the choice of forgoing deals with Iran or ending deals with the United States, would choose the former. (Russia and China might prove exceptions, in which case Trump’s move would benefit them.)
    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2...thdrew-out-of-spite-or-ignorance.html
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  4. China’s goal is now to displace the American barbarians and correct historic humiliations imposed by those who dethroned China from its rightful position at the center of the world.

    China’s recent spectacular land grab in the South China Sea is a fait accompli, given China’s superior power in the area and its assertion that the region is a core national interest. Arbitrators for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea issued a 500-plus-page decision against China and in favor of the Philippines in a dispute over the definitions of islands versus rock formations; they concluded that Chinese arguments had no legal basis. But as French explains in sobering detail, China has unilaterally determined to claim much of the sea as its own. The country rejected the arbitration tribunal, knowing that its growing surface naval power and nuclear submarine capability support a highly uneven contest. Oil rigs have been established in contested waters, while artificial “islands” constructed from coral reefs are serving as military bases just miles from the Southeast Asian coastline. Similarly, China’s projection of economic might through the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and One Belt, One Road initiative, which intends to bind a huge swath of Asia to China economically via new land infrastructure and consolidated control of the seas, generates “a kind of fatalism or resignation about the futility of trying to defy it.”

    China intends to evict the United States from Asia in order to restore its dominance over what it considers its historic spheres of influence. Unfortunately, Washington is poorly prepared to deal with a China that strategizes in terms of the symbolic undercurrents and sensitivities illuminated so dramatically by both French and Allison.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/bo...-destined-for-war-graham-allison.html
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  5. By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to "normalize" them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It's time we recognize this as a crisis.
    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics...858/drugging-of-the-american-boy-0414
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-04-10)
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  6. you know, for somebody who actually has read the indictment in its entirety, and, actually, the Russian reporting that is almost entirely repeated in the indictment, it’s really hard to square that with the way that it’s been portrayed as, you know, a sophisticated, bold effort. I think H.R. McMaster is correct in saying, yes, there’s “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian meddling, but to call it bold, to call it sophisticated and to imply that we now know that it actually had an influence on the outcome of the election is absurd. It was not bold. It was not sophisticated. And it—we don’t know, and probably never will know, whether it had any impact.

    creating a cacophony, creating confusion, creating the sense that nothing means anything anymore is definitely important, right? But that is different from saying that their goal was to sway the outcome of the election and that we can say with any amount of certainty that that worked and that’s how we got Trump.

    AMY GOODMAN: And it’s also served another purpose, for example, when it comes to these large megacorporations, like Facebook and Twitter. They’ve been hauled before Congress, before the British Parliament, and they’re saying, “How could you have allowed this to appear?” And in the end, they’re being pressured, basically, these corporations, to censor what is out there.

    MASHA GESSEN: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that the agenda of holding Facebook accountable publicly is such a bad agenda. You know, I think that a conversation about what Facebook is—is it a public resource, even though it’s a privately owned corporation? Is it a media company? It is certainly not just a platform, as Facebook has claimed repeatedly. I think that is a really important question. I just think it’s been asked in the wrong way, right? It’s been asked—you know, when we saw Senator Al Franken badgering the Facebook lawyer and screaming, you know, “They were Russians! You know, how could you not see that these ads were bought for rubles?” Well, why are we starting at a place where we assume that selling advertising for rubles, that there’s something necessarily sinister and horrible about it? Right? And that is—I don’t think that moves forward a conversation about how something that has de facto become a public resource, but is privately owned, functions in society.
    https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/23/masha_gessen_did_a_russian_troll
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-24)
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  7. Experts and law enforcement officials have identified security measures they believe can make that difference, and many schools have worked to implement them since the 1999 Columbine school massacre, but like all soft targets, no educational facility is ever 100 percent safe.

    Though it may be hard to tell sometimes, schools are actually safer than they used to be. Of the 17 shootings at schools this year prior to Wednesday, several involved accidental discharges or gunshots hitting inanimate objects. One was a mass casualty event similar to the one in Florida.
    http://wjla.com/news/nation-world/man...s-but-experts-see-no-simple-solutions
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  8. But the cultural generation gap is also a product of the specific eras during which the different groups were raised and became adults. Conceived during the prosperous post−World War II period, the baby boomers brought a rebellious, progressive sensibility to the country in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond. With the help of the programs of the Great Society, they became the most well-schooled generation to date and the epitome of America’s largely white, suburban middle class, with which most of today’s adults now identify.

    Yet the baby boomers also came of age at a moment when the United States was becoming more insular than it had been before. Between 1946 and 1964, the years of the baby boom, the immigrant share of the U.S. population shrank to an all-time low (under 5 percent), and the immigrants who did arrive were largely white Europeans. Growing up in mostly white, segregated suburbs, white baby boomers did not have much interaction with people unlike them. Although baby boomers have been interested in righting domestic wrongs, such as racial discrimination, and bursting glass ceilings, they are now joining seniors in voicing sharp resistance to America’s new racial change. A 2011 Pew Research Center poll shows that only 23 percent of baby boomers and seniors regard the country’s growing population of immigrants as a change for the better and that 42 percent see it as a change for the worse. More than one-half of white baby boomers and seniors said that the growing number of newcomers from other countries represents a threat to traditional U.S. values and customs.

    The Pew survey found marked differences between baby boomers and millennials—who are known for their racial inclusiveness—with regard to agreement that the following are changes for the better: that more people of different races are marrying each other (36 percent versus 60 percent), that the population of Hispanics is growing (21 percent versus 33 percent), and that the population of Asians is growing (24 percent versus 43 percent).

    Underpinning the generational divide are shifts in what demographers call old-age dependency and child dependency, which now have a distinct racial dimension. By 2020, the old-age dependency ratio for whites will exceed the child dependency ratio, and for the two decades that follow, white seniors will outnumber white children. That stands in marked contrast to the position of Hispanics, whose youth dependency will remain well above 45 through 2040, even as the old-age dependency ratio inches up to 21.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/12037...w-why-post-white-america-already-here
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  9. As far as those policies already implemented, Galvin pointed to an apparently wide gulf between the commonwealth’s policy for counting college students compared to the Trump administration’s newly enacted policy for counting such students.

    According to Galvin, Massachusetts prefers to count college students during the spring while they’re still in school for census purposes, but said the Trump administration would rather stretch that count into the summer–when most college students in Massachusetts have returned home and therefore the numbers of students counted would be significantly lowered.

    In regards to policies being considered, Galvin noted, “a suggestion from the United States Justice Department to the Department of Commerce that a question be inserted into the census” regarding the respondent’s citizenship status.

    Asking such a question would likely not be illegal, but, Galvin said this proposal would almost certainly result in respondents refusing to follow through with their census forms entirely. He explained, “Everyone knows that under the federal code, everyone should be counted whether they’re citizens or not. So by putting that in there, they are clearly deterring people who might not be citizens from being counted.”
    https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/...ver-sabotaging-census-for-blue-states
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-08)
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  10. “More New Yorkers have died from opioid overdoses than car crashes and homicides combined in recent years,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, announcing the lawsuit. “‘Big Pharma’ helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions.”
    https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/more...s-cities-suing-big-pharma-over-opiods
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