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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,504

Journal Archives

How Trump's presidency shifted social norms to make racism acceptable. Can that be undone?

Trump unleashed the poison of racism — and new research suggests it will linger for years
New research reveals how Trump's presidency shifted social norms to make racism acceptable. Can that be undone?


(Salon) ew research by a pair of social psychologists suggests that Donald Trump's presidency unleashed racial animus and white supremacist ideology in ways that will shape American society for years or decades to come.

The study by Benjamin C. Ruisch of the University of Kent in England and Melissa J. Ferguson of Yale, published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Human Behaviour, is entitled "Changes in Americans' prejudices during the presidency of Donald Trump." The authors summarize their findings this way:

In 13 studies including over 10,000 participants, we tested how Americans' prejudice changed following the political ascension of Donald Trump. We found that explicit racial and religious prejudice significantly increased amongst Trump's supporters, whereas individuals opposed to Trump exhibited decreases in prejudice.

Ferguson and Ruisch explain this by referencing the power of "social norms," which, they say,

do not exert a uniform effect on people's attitudes. Rather, adherence to social norms occurs largely along group boundaries: People primarily assimilate to norms that are held by 'social reference groups', that is, individuals and groups that they personally respect and admire. In the highly polarized political landscape of the United States, this translates into the prediction that Trump's counter-normative behaviour should not have uniformly affected the attitudes of all Americans. Rather, it should have increased expressions of prejudice primarily amongst those who view him positively, that is, his supporters.


It was never accurate to describe Trump's voters as predominantly belonging the "white working class," with which mainstream news media became so obsessed. In reality, the average Trump voter in the 2016 Republican primaries had a household income of $72,000, substantially above the national median at the time. Moreover, researchers have shown that Trump's followers who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, were more likely to be from suburban communities experiencing "demographic change" than from economically disadvantaged working-class communities. ...............(more)


Amtrak, Penn Station Partners begin Baltimore Penn Station construction

Amtrak, Penn Station Partners begin Baltimore Penn Station construction
The full historic preservation and state-of-the-art redevelopment of the city’s main transportation hub is now under way.

March 1, 2022

Construction has commenced at Baltimore Penn Station with Amtrak and Penn Station Partners, the Baltimore-based global development team leading the transformation of the city’s main transportation hub, installing scaffolding, fencing and materials around the station exterior.

“Amtrak and the Penn Station Partners team are returning Baltimore’s Penn Station to a much-needed state of good repair by making vital core and shell improvements to polish the station’s appearance and increase overall functionality,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Strategy, Planning and Accessibility Dennis Newman. “Once it is fully renovated and repurposed, Penn Station will serve as the prominent anchor for all future development that springs up on the adjacent properties while remaining the lively beating heart of the vibrant surrounding neighborhoods. We appreciate the support of Baltimore and the surrounding community during this transitional period as we work together to improve and preserve this treasured landmark.”

Essential core and shell improvements, tentatively scheduled to start in Summer 2022, include masonry repairs, existing window refurbishment, a new roof, new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems as well as updated elevators, stairs and ramps.

“Watching this scaffolding go up and seeing this transformation start to unfold right before our eyes is an exciting development and a signal to everyone who passes through here that Penn Station’s best days are yet to come,” said Tim Pula, vice president of community development for Beatty Development Group. “We thank Amtrak and all of our local, state and federal partners for their continued collaboration and support. Together we will realize the full potential of this station not only as a major transportation hub and gateway to Baltimore City, but as an anchor for the equitable and socially responsible future growth of the surrounding neighborhoods.” .....................(more)


It's time to confront the Trump-Putin network

It’s time to confront the Trump-Putin network
Rebecca Solnit

A stunning number of Trump’s closest associates had deep ties to the Kremlin. The significance of this cannot be overstated
Wed 2 Mar 2022 06.22 EST

(Guardian UK) In 2014, the Putin regime invaded Ukraine’s Crimea. In 2016, the same regime invaded the United States. The former took place as a conventional military operation; the latter was a spectacular case of cyberwarfare, including disinformation that it was happening at all and promulgation of a lot of talking points still devoutly repeated by many. It was a vast social-media influencing project that took many forms as it sought to sow discord and confusion, even attempting to dissuade Black voters from voting.

Additionally, Russian intelligence targeted voter rolls in all 50 states, which is not thought to have had consequences, but demonstrated the reach and ambition of online interference. This weekend, British investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr said on Twitter, “We failed to acknowledge Russia had staged a military attack on the West. We called it ’meddling.’ We used words like ‘interference.’ It wasn’t. It was warfare. We’ve been under military attack for eight years now.”

As she notes, Putin’s minions were not only directing their attention to the United States, and included pro-Brexit efforts and support for France’s far-right racist National Front party. The US interference – you could call it cyberwarfare, or informational invasion – took many forms. Stunningly, a number of left-wing news sources and pundits devoted themselves to denying the reality of the intervention and calling those who were hostile to the Putin regime cold-war red-scare right-wingers, as if contemporary Russia was a glorious socialist republic rather than a country ruled by a dictatorial ex-KGB agent with a record of murdering journalists, imprisoning dissenters, embezzling tens of billions and leading a global neofascist white supremacist revival. In discrediting the news stories and attacking critics of the Russian government, they provided crucial cover for Trump.

In her 2019 testimony to House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, former National Security Agency staffer Fiona Hill declared, “Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified. The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart; truth is questioned; our highly professional expert career Foreign Service is being undermined. US support for Ukraine, which continues to face armed aggression, is being politicized. President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter US foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance.” ................(more)


Metro Detroit eateries, liquor shops, cooks show support for Ukraine through food, drinks

(Detroit Free Press) If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that local culinarians share an unspoken unifying ethos: Food is a tool for good.

In the midst of consecutive global crises, chefs, restaurateurs and various food entrepreneurs across disciplines have turned to their crafts to help overcome life’s challenges in the best way they know how — through hot meals and sweet treats.

Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Southeast Michigan food and beverage establishments are raising funds for Ukrainian refugees, for Polish resources acting as safe havens and for Ukrainian children impacted by the war.


Christine’s Cuisine

Known for its menu of American and Ukrainian classics, Christine’s Cuisine in Ferndale is joining the ranks of eateries supporting Ukraine. On Wednesday, March 2, Christine’s will donate all proceeds to the Ukrainian Relief Fund. Your purchase of soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees will directly benefit those impacted by the war.


From March 25-27, Frame, a multi-concept restaurant in Hazel Park, will host Slavic Solidarity, an immersive dinner experience, featuring five courses of Ukrainian staples. Frame Resident Chef Michael Barrera has curated an inspired menu of dishes, such as borscht, a beet soup, and Chicken Kyiv served with celery root and frisee. ..............(more)


Why Russia should fear the coming insurgency in Ukraine

Why Russia should fear the coming insurgency in Ukraine
All the key ingredients for a powerful insurgency now exist in Ukraine. If the battle turns to brutal urban warfare, Russia is in 'big trouble'.

By Adnan R. Khan
March 1, 2022

(Maclean's) Over the first week of its war with Russia, Ukraine’s military has demonstrated remarkable competence and bravery, in part due to the training it has received from NATO countries, including Canada. The expected Russian military juggernaut, meanwhile, has been massively underwhelming, suffering successive battlefield defeats and failing to the achieve the air superiority it was expected to quickly win.

But as the fighting moves into Kyiv, and other major cities like Kharkiv, the war is expected to shift gears. Urban warfare is the bane of any conventional army. No proven doctrine exists to tackle the complexities of fighting a war in the maze of city streets, where the local population is motivated to resist. And Ukrainians are deeply motivated—both by a president who has risen to the challenge of wartime leader and an international community that has rallied behind them in unprecedented ways.

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are lining up at recruitment centres to join the fight. Meanwhile, in Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere, leaders have suggested that citizens who wish to join the fight are welcome to do so, even encouraged.

This is looking like the start of an insurgency. .................(more)


One NATO Ally Can Easily Block Russian Warships from Joining the Battle

(Slate) On Sunday, Turkish leaders labeled Russian’s invasion of Ukraine a war, a rhetorical shift that sets the stage for Turkey limiting warships transiting the Turkish Straits and entering the Black Sea. Speaking on CNN Turk, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that “the situation in Ukraine has transformed into a war” and Turkey “will implement all articles of Montreux transparently.” Çavuşoğlu was referencing the 1936 Montreux Convention, an international agreement that governs the transit of all vessels and airplanes through the Turkish Straits, a strategic chokepoint that links the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. As the Russia-Ukraine conflict rages, the Montreux Convention has taken on increased importance as a potential regulator of warship traffic into the conflict zone. If Turkey formally invokes Montreux’s wartime provisions, Russian warships will generally be prohibited from entering the Black Sea. This would play a small but substantive role in de-escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions.

The 1936 Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits (commonly referred to as the Montreux Convention, after the city in Switzerland where it was negotiated) is a 1936 international agreement that governs the transit of the Turkish Straits for merchant vessels, vessels of war, and aircraft. Negotiated in the shadow of an expansionist Nazi Germany, the Convention includes 29 Articles and three technical annexes that address which warships may enter the Black Sea. It has played an important role in demilitarizing the Black Sea for the past 85+ years. It does so by limiting the size of vessels that may enter the Black Sea, imposing notification requirements on warships transiting the Turkish Straits, and restricting how long non-Black Sea powers can deploy their warships in the Black Sea. Since its inception, Montreux has played an important role in enforcing a rules-based international order in the Black Sea and Turkish Straits.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the “Constitution of the Oceans”, governs transit passage through international straits around the world. Article 35 clarifies that UNCLOS does not apply to “long-standing international conventions in force.” The upshot: Montreux Convention’s restrictive provisions, and not UNCLOS, govern the Turkish Straits, which enjoy a truly unique legal status in international transit governance.


If the conflict escalates, the rights of parties other than Ukraine and Russia will also depend on whether other states are adjudged to be co-belligerents. This could cut in one of two ways: if Turkey is not a belligerent but other states join the fight, their access would be compulsorily restricted under Article 19. But if Turkey itself were to join as a belligerent, or if the conflict escalated to the extent that Turkey did feel credibly threatened, Articles 20 and 21 would give Turkey discretion over the passage of warships – including the right to deny return passage to “vessels of war belonging to the State whose attitude has given rise to” Turkey’s belief in imminent danger of war. .................(more)


Nuclear winter, crop failures and fallout: What nuclear war would do to civilization

Nuclear winter, crop failures and fallout: What nuclear war would do to civilization
Food shortages, ozone depletion, exacerbated climate change — and a relatively unscathed Southern Hemisphere


(Salon) At the time this article is being written, Russian President Vladimir Putin is escalating his invasion of Ukraine with no end in sight. Because Russia has nuclear weapons, experts agree that it is possible they will be used during the war — perhaps on a smaller scale, perhaps on a larger one, say, with a NATO country like the United States. As Putin becomes increasingly desperate to recreate the Russian empire and destroy the liberal world order, there is no telling what he might do to save face and salvage what remains of his geopolitical ambitions.

If that happened, what would that mean for the rest of the world? The answer is both complicated (it depends to an extent on where you live) and terrifyingly simple — it would be an apocalyptic scenario right out of the most dire Biblical prophecy or dystopian science fiction story.

And the conflict doesn't need to culminate in a literal world war to have an effect on your life.

Even a comparatively smaller nuclear conflict, such as one that "merely" incinerates a few cities, would instantly plunge the world's economy into chaos. Globalization has resulted in a worldwide web of supply chains that are extremely vulnerable to disruption — this is already being seen with COVID-19 and climate change — and any goods that linked to supply chains in affected areas would grind to a halt. That, however, would be the least of humanity's problems. As smoke from the destroyed areas rises into the atmosphere, the entire planet will soon be choked to its breaking point under a blanket of soot. The Sun will not be able to reach vital crops, leading to dire food shortages, and survivors will be left inhabiting a state of constant winter.

Hence the term "nuclear winter." ................(more)


Putin takes aim at his enemies, and smacks himself in the face

Putin takes aim at his enemies, and smacks himself in the face
‘It looks very much as though Vladimir Putin has scored what in the soccer world they call an own goal.’

By Star Editorial Board
Mon., Feb. 28, 2022timer3 min. read

(The Toronto Star) We’re seeing history written before our eyes in Ukraine and Russia. No one knows how it will turn out in the end, but at this point, five days into the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state, one thing stands out:

It looks very much as though Vladimir Putin has scored what in the soccer world they call an own goal. He took aim at his supposed enemies, and smacked himself in the face.


* Instead of crushing Ukraine with overwhelming might, his forces are bogged down as Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike put up a heroic resistance.

* Instead of dividing the West, he has given it common purpose in opposing his naked aggression. Ukraine’s example has stiffened the spines of western nations that were dithering about how far they were prepared to go in standing up to Putin.

* Instead of rolling back NATO, he’s now seeing more countries rushing to join it, for fear they might be next on Putin’s hit list.

* Instead of flexing his economic and energy leverage over Europe, he’s seeing the ruble collapse and sanctions beginning to bite. Russia is now an international pariah.

* And instead of unifying his own people, he’s seeing demonstrations against the Ukraine war breaking out in Moscow, St. Petersburg and dozens of other cities. Decent Russians are appalled by their government’s actions.

Of course, we know all this may be short-lived. If Putin has to choose between being humiliated and unleashing a truly devastating attack on Ukrainian cities, there’s little doubt which way he will go. ............(more)


Australia: Stranded people and horses wait on the Court Street bridge at Woodburn as floodwaters ris

Why Vladimir Putin has already lost this war

(Guardian UK) Less than a week into the war, it seems increasingly likely that Vladimir Putin is heading towards a historic defeat. He may win all the battles but still lose the war. Putin’s dream of rebuilding the Russian empire has always rested on the lie that Ukraine isn’t a real nation, that Ukrainians aren’t a real people, and that the inhabitants of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv yearn for Moscow’s rule. That’s a complete lie – Ukraine is a nation with more than a thousand years of history, and Kyiv was already a major metropolis when Moscow was not even a village. But the Russian despot has told his lie so many times that he apparently believes it himself.

When planning his invasion of Ukraine, Putin could count on many known facts. He knew that militarily Russia dwarfs Ukraine. He knew that Nato would not send troops to help Ukraine. He knew that European dependence on Russian oil and gas would make countries like Germany hesitate about imposing stiff sanctions. Based on these known facts, his plan was to hit Ukraine hard and fast, decapitate its government, establish a puppet regime in Kyiv, and ride out the western sanctions.

But there was one big unknown about this plan. As the Americans learned in Iraq and the Soviets learned in Afghanistan, it is much easier to conquer a country than to hold it. Putin knew he had the power to conquer Ukraine. But would the Ukrainian people just accept Moscow’s puppet regime? Putin gambled that they would. After all, as he repeatedly explained to anyone willing to listen, Ukraine isn’t a real nation, and the Ukrainians aren’t a real people. In 2014, people in Crimea hardly resisted the Russian invaders. Why should 2022 be any different?

With each passing day, it is becoming clearer that Putin’s gamble is failing. The Ukrainian people are resisting with all their heart, winning the admiration of the entire world – and winning the war. Many dark days lie ahead. The Russians may still conquer the whole of Ukraine. But to win the war, the Russians would have to hold Ukraine, and they can do that only if the Ukrainian people let them. This seems increasingly unlikely to happen. ........(more)


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