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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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Chris Hedges: The Lie of Patriotism

from truthdig:

The Lie of Patriotism

Posted on Apr 3, 2016
By Chris Hedges

BALTIMORE—When Rory Fanning, a burly veteran who served in the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2004, appeared at the Donald Trump rally in Chicago last month he was wearing the top half of his combat fatigues. As he moved through the crowd, dozens of Trump supporters shouted greetings such as “Welcome home, brother” and “Thank you for your service.” Then came the protest that shut down the rally. Fanning, one of the demonstrators, pulled out a flag that read “Vets Against Racism, War and Empire.”

“Immediately someone threw a drink on me,” he said when I interviewed him on my teleSUR show, “Days of Revolt.” “I got hit from behind in the head three or four times. It was quite the switch, quite the pivot on me. Questioning the narrative, questioning Donald Trump’s narrative, and I was suddenly out of their good graces.”

Nationalists do not venerate veterans. They venerate veterans who read from the approved patriotic script. America is the greatest and most powerful country on earth. Those we fight are depraved barbarians. Our enemies deserve death. God is on our side. Victory is assured. Our soldiers and Marines are heroes. Deviate from this cant, no matter how many military tours you may have served, and you become despicable. The vaunted patriotism of the right wing is about self-worship. It is a raw lust for violence. It is blind subservience to the state. And it works to censor the reality of war.

“A lot of soldiers who’ve come back from war see themselves as anything but a hero,” Fanning said. “To throw that term around loosely is dangerous. It’s a way to manipulate soldiers. It buys their silence.”


“We’re sold the idea of—we’re going to liberate people, we’re fighting terrorism. Then we realize we’re the ones terrorizing people,” Hanes said. “That torments you psychologically. I’ve lost a few friends to suicide.” .................(more)


American Roads Are So Terrible Computer Software In Self-Driving Cars Can’t Even Find The Lanes

What does it take to make a CEO lose his cool? Just ask Volvo’s North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, who lost it while the automaker’s semi-autonomous prototype refused to drive itself during a press conference at an auto show in L.A.

As he and Mayor Eric Garcetti sat in the car, Kerssemakers exclaimed that “It can’t even find the lane markings!” and “You need to paint the bloody roads here!”

What’s this mean? Well, simply put, it means that years of neglect is finally paying its painful dividends, and serves as yet another reminder that we’re not the global power we think we are. After all, what kind of power can’t even afford to keep its own infrastructure up?


An estimated 65% of the United State roads are in poor condition, according to the United States Department of Transportation. The United States possesses a transportation infrastructure system that’s rated 12th in the World Economic Forum’s 2014-2015 global competitiveness report.

And much of the problem is partisanship, beginning with Tom Delay, who in 1995 declared that no Republican can support a bill that Democrats support. As it stands, the U.S. — to repair our crumbling surface roads — will need to spend a whopping $847 billion dollars. ..................(more)


Christian Universities Increasingly Apply for Exemptions From Anti-Discrimination Rules

Christian Universities Increasingly Apply for Exemptions From Anti-Discrimination Rules

Saturday, 02 April 2016 00:00
By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | News Analysis

Six months after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Dr. Randall O'Brien, president of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, told the local CBS affiliate that "in a changing world, we want to reaffirm who we are, who we intend to be, and establish our identity as a religious school, a Christian school."

O'Brien was gleefully explaining that the 165-year-old college, established as Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary in 1851, had just been granted a US Department of Education (DOE) exemption from Title IX regulations, in effect allowing the university to continue to collect federal dollars for scholarships and sports programs despite banning unmarried, pregnant students; women who have had abortions; single mothers; and LGBTQ people from attending classes or working on campus.

This was not Carson-Newman's first foray into regulating the behavior of students, faculty or staff, or in imposing a set of religious restrictions on those connected to it. Far from it. Prior to obtaining the Title IX exemption last December, the campus code of conduct prohibited "lewd, obscene or vulgar language" or expression that is contrary to "Christian values and principle," and barred students and staff from engaging in or advocating engagement in "sexually immoral acts, including sexual relations outside of marriage."

But the Title IX exemption was different from these provisions because it involves money: federal dollars in the form of Pell grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants and subsidized student loans. It also allows Carson-Newman to continue to receive government funding for its athletic programs -- despite its overt intent to discriminate against the aforementioned groups of people in admissions, retention and hiring. .............(more)


It’s time to get rid of the Democrats' special class of entitled and unelected ‘superdelegates’

Michael Winship, Moyers & Company
01 Apr 2016 at 12:57 ET

Last week, our suggestion that Hillary Clinton call for the resignations of her pals Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz got a big response. But a few people misunderstood what we were saying.

Some thought Bill Moyers and I were calling for Clinton herself to step aside (we weren’t). Others thought we somehow believed Clinton actually had the power to fire Emanuel (of course she doesn’t). Wasserman Schultz is a different story; the demand for her resignation as DNC chair grows by the day and Clinton doubtless will have a voice as to whether she stays or goes (on top of which, for the first time since she entered the House of Representatives, Wasserman Schultz’s Florida congressional seat is being challenged in a Democratic primary by attorney and former Bernie Sanders advisor Tim Canova).

Using the rhetorical suggestion that she and Rahm take a hike – each of them a symbol of the current tone-deaf and corporate-enslaved state of the Democratic Party — was a way of easing into the idea that the party’s elite is as clueless about the disillusionment of the party’s traditional base as the GOP establishment has been about Donald Trump’s ascent. At their peril, the muckety-mucks of both parties ignore the anger and resist the demand for change that have fueled not only Trump but the Bernie Sanders phenomenon as well, albeit the Sanders movement is as progressive as Trump’s is brutish.

One of the more troubling aspects of the Democrats and their nomination process is something we touched upon in last week’s piece: the 712 or so “superdelegates,” about 15 percent of the total (and 30 percent of the majority needed to win the nomination) who will cast ballots at the July convention in Philadelphia. They include President Obama and Vice President Biden, 239 Democratic members of the House and Senate, 21 sitting governors, 437 Democratic National Committeemen and women, and a category referred to as “distinguished party leaders” – former presidents and veeps, ex-congressional leaders and erstwhile presidential nominees. ...........(more)


The South Isn’t The Reason Schools Are Still Segregated, New York Is

(HuffPost) New York City didn’t experience school desegregation in the 1960s and ‘70s like other metropolitan areas. Unlike in Little Rock, Arkansas, the National Guard was never brought in to make sure black students could safely enter an all-white school. Unlike closer hubs, like Boston, resistance to school desegregation never escalated to a citywide crisis. New York never saw a large-scale integration program, and it was never ordered by courts to make its schools more racially balanced.

But the largest school system in the country still had a devastating impact on one of the most controversial causes of the civil rights movement.

In historian Matthew F. Delmont’s new book, Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation, he explains how New York City drove the rhetoric and resistance that allowed school desegregation to falter nationwide. In the late 1950s, years before any serious action was taken to desegregate most schools, New York City parents created the language that would lead opposition to racially mixed schools. This language — which emphasizes the importance of neighborhood schools and opposition to citywide busing — remains the weapon of choice for communities who fight integrated schools today.

The Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education made formal school segregation illegal in 1954. Schools in northern cities, like New York, weren’t segregated by law, but discriminatory housing patterns fostered racial divides all the same. It wasn’t until years after Brown that serious efforts were made to desegregate schools, and New York resisted these attempts early and often.

In 1959, for instance, a few hundred black and Puerto Rican students were getting bused to white areas in Queens to break up hubs of racial isolation. It was a small-scale, one-way busing program, but parents went on the offensive. Hordes of white mothers held protests and wielded signs reading “bussing creates fussing” and “neighborhood schools for all.” Parents emphasized the hardships their children would face if they had to get bused to schools outside their community and the importance of maintaining neighborhood schools as a way to foster community ties. Similar protests continued throughout the next several years.

Because these protests took place in the nation’s media capital, the demonstrators’ rhetoric spread far and wide. The demonstrations got legislators’ attention, too. In the 1960s, a New York legislator helped craft the language in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “that essentially blocked the federal government from having a role in pursuing school desegregation cases in the north,” Delmont said. ................(more)


The Racist Agenda Behind the Now-Dead ‘Friedrichs’ Supreme Court Case

(In These Times) The Supreme Court has voted 4-4 on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and thus the case is—for now, at least—dead. We should all breathe a sigh of relief: Friedrichs would have made it harder for public service workers—nurses, teachers, firefighters and more—to negotiate good wages and benefits. The two groups that will lose the most are women and African Americans.

If the case’s plaintiffs would have won, our economy, already tilted sharply in favor of the super-rich, would have become even more imbalanced. Public sector workers would have received all of the benefits of union membership without having to pay anything for the cost of representation that unions are required to provide by law. “Right to work” would have become the law of the land in the public sector.

Behind Rebecca Friedrichs, the teacher from California who was one of 10 plaintiffs in the case, is the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which actively sought out potential plaintiffs to bring suit against the teachers union—just as it aggressively recruited white students on college campuses to bring anti-affirmative action lawsuits against their universities, most notably in Hopwood v. Texas and Gratz v. Bollinger. CIR is also on record in opposition to hate-crime legislation, voting rights and the Affordable Care Act—while championing the cause of payday lenders, which prey on poor communities and communities of color around the country.

CIR has received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group that funds and studies eugenics, the racist “science” of breeding superior human beings. The foundation also supports anti-immigration groups that share its hate-group classification. ............(more)


 Half of the Abortion Clinics in Ohio Have Closed. And Kasich Is a ‘Moderate’?

(The Nation)  In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Ohio Governor John Kasich is definitely what Saul Bellow called a “contrast gainer.” He doesn’t make nasty dick jokes or relish attacks on protesters or insult the other candidates with stupid nicknames, much less insult their wives or talk about blood flowing from women’s wherevers. To the apparent astonishment of his colleagues in Ohio and Washington, who recall an intemperate shouter and player of political hardball, he comes across as genial, warm and not crazy. Not crazy is good! It hasn’t garnered him many votes—for Republican primary voters crazy is the best—but it’s won him plenty of goodwill from the shell-shocked media. Imagine: He believes in climate change, he accepted the Medicaid expansion, and he’s spoken of his concern for the unfortunate, the “people in the shadows.” That’s more than enough to make him accepted at 538.com as a possible “moderate backstop” (Nate Silver), “consummate moderate” (Clare Malone) and “moderate Republican who talks down to other Republicans” (Harry Enten), not to mention at The Washington Post (“a moderate, or, worse, a RINO”) and ABC. The New York Times, while acknowledging he is “no moderate,” praised him as a compromiser and “not an extremist” in an editorial urging Republicans to vote for him in the Iowa primary. In advance of next week’s Wisconsin primary, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has endorsed him, mentioning his independence, leadership, pragmatism, and experience. It’s as if someone has to play the calm-centrist-conservative role now that Jeb Bush, the original actor in the part, has left the stage.

 But come on, pundits and editors. Do moderates defund public education and blast public-sector unions? And since when does moderate mean “one who does everything in his power to destroy women’s reproductive rights”? When you call him a moderate, what you’re really saying is that these issues doesn’t count when you’re filling out your scorecard. To focus on his attack on women’s health: Are we all so used to the notion that over a million women a year should be forced to give birth, no matter what, or seek illegal procedures? Is Texas the new normal?

Actually, Ohio under Kasich is a lot like the Lone Star State. Since becoming governor in 2011, Kasich has signed every anti-abortion measure placed before him—17 so far. He signed a bill that severely limits abortion access after 20 weeks and approved a ban on state-funded rape-crisis counselors’ referring clients to abortion services or even informing them of their right to end their pregnancy, even though he claims to support a rape exception. He signed a requirement that patients have (and pay for) an unnecessary ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat and be asked whether they want to listen to it (after they’re read a mandatory script written by anti-choice state legislators). He appointed to the state medical board the head of Ohio Right to Life, Michael Gonidakis, who is not a doctor. (But then neither is Richard Hodges, director of the state department of health, who is a former turnpike inspector.) In February, he signed a bill depriving Planned Parenthood of $1.3 million in state and federal funding, including funds for a program to curb infant mortality. Pro-life! ...............(more)


How Can Portland Brace for Its Population Boom?

from Bloomberg:

How Can Portland Brace for Its Population Boom?
What innovative light rail means for a thriving city

Mar 30, 2016 - 12:00 PM

The secret is out on Portland, Oregon. Drawn by its natural beauty and high quality of life, new residents are flocking to the City of Roses, leading to a 5.2 percent growth rate that makes it the 15th-fastest growing metro area among the country’s 50 largest, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With another 400,000 people projected to join the population of 2.35 million over the next 20 years, Portland is feeling the pinch.

“Frankly, this puts an incredible burden on the transit system, and rail has been a key part of supporting that growth,” says Neil McFarlane, General Manager at TriMet, the agency that oversees the city’s popular mass transit system. “Finding the right partners, and working diligently with those partners, is crucial to managing that.”

It’s crucial to innovating, too. In 1996, TriMet and Siemens delivered the country’s first low-floor light rail car, easy-to-access rolling stock that eliminated the need for elevated platforms and saved cities countless infrastructure dollars in the process. Last fall, when TriMet added the 7.3-mile Orange Line to its Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) system, they partnered with Siemens to focus on user-friendly design improvements.

TriMet sought the input of its riders, and their crowd-sourced ideas can be found throughout Siemens’ redesign of the S70 light rail vehicle. These are highlighted by a roomier center car that maximizes legroom, additional wheelchair accessibility, larger windows and a smart HVAC system that automatically adjusts cooling based on the number of riders in the car. ..............(more)


A Fukushima on the Hudson?: The Growing Dangers of Indian Point

from TomDispatch:

A Fukushima on the Hudson?
The Growing Dangers of Indian Point

By Ellen Cantarow and Alison Rose Levy

It was a beautiful spring day and, in the control room of the nuclear reactor, the workers decided to deactivate the security system for a systems test. As they started to do so, however, the floor of the reactor began to tremble. Suddenly, its 1,200-ton cover blasted flames into the air. Tons of radioactive radium and graphite shot 1,000 meters into the sky and began drifting to the ground for miles around the nuclear plant. The first firemen to the rescue brought tons of water that would prove useless when it came to dousing the fires. The workers wore no protective clothing and eight of them would die that night -- dozens more in the months to follow.

It was April 26, 1986, and this was just the start of the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the worst nuclear accident of its kind in history. Chernobyl is ranked as a “level 7 event,” the maximum danger classification on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. It would spew out more radioactivity than 100 Hiroshima bombs. Of the 350,000 workers involved in cleanup operations, according to the World Health Organization, 240,000 would be exposed to the highest levels of radiation in a 30-mile zone around the plant. It is uncertain exactly how many cancer deaths have resulted since. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s estimate of the expected death toll from Chernobyl was 4,000. A 2006 Greenpeace report challenged that figure, suggesting that 16,000 people had already died due to the accident and predicting another 140,000 deaths in Ukraine and Belarus still to come. A significant increase in thyroid cancers in children, a very rare disease for them, has been charted in the region -- nearly 7,000 cases by 2005 in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

In March 2011, 25 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, damage caused by a tsunami triggered by a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake led to the meltdown of three reactors at a nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. Radioactive rain from the Fukushima accident fell as far away as Ireland.

In 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency had, in fact, warned the Japanese government that none of the country’s nuclear power plants could withstand powerful earthquakes. That included the Fukushima plant, which had been built to take only a 7.0 magnitude event. No attention was paid at the time. After the disaster, the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power, rehired Shaw Construction, which had designed and built the plant in the first place, to rebuild it.

Near Misses, Radioactive Leaks, and Flooding

In both Chernobyl and Fukushima, areas around the devastated plants were made uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. In neither place, before disaster began to unfold, was anyone expecting it and few imagined that such a catastrophe was possible. In the United States, too, despite the knowledge since 1945 that nuclear power, at war or in peacetime, holds dangers of a stunning sort, the general attitude remains: it can’t happen here -- nowhere more dangerously in recent years than on the banks of New York’s Hudson River, an area that could face a nuclear peril endangering a population of nearly 20 million. .........(more)


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