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8 Ways to Fix America’s Messed-Up Presidential Elections
Ted Rall: Presidential campaigns could be improved — streamlined, made more relevant to more voters and their worries, and likelier to result in better outcomes—and it wouldn’t require revolutionary change, just common-sense reforms. ... Amend Article II of the Constitution. The requirement that only “natural born” citizens over age 35 may run for president ought to be abolished. ... Give presidential debates back to the League of Women Voters. ... Level the campaign financing playing field. ... Make voting simultaneous and easier. ... Abolish the Electoral College ... Make it easier for third parties to run by loosening ballot-access rules. ... Visit Website ]
Mar 12, 2019, 3:17pm

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It’s International Women’s Day. Women Around the World Are Striking.
Liza Featherstone: This year’s International Women’s Day (or at least, the website international women’s day dot com) is sponsored by MetLife, Amazon, McDonald’s and other companies that have apparently decided that its official slogan is #BalanceforBetter. I’m not sure that’s even proper English — for better what? — but in any case, the buzzword “balance” always makes me reach for the snooze button. The socialist feminist doesn’t want “balance.” She wants to upset this whole rotten applecart of a capitalist system. ... That’s always been the animating passion behind International Women’s Day. Capitalists can hashtag all they like, but International Women’s Day has radical roots. ... In 1909, the Socialist Party in the United States called for a National Women’s Day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike, and the following year, German socialist feminist Clara Zetkin proposed the idea for International Working Women’s Day.... Visit Website ]
Mar 8, 2019, 3:02pm

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Prisons don’t work; let’s stop pretending otherwise
J Layne Proctor: Data and analysis compiled across disciplines have long argued prisons are inherently inhumane and contribute to, rather than mitigate, the concerns they are charged with addressing. ... The rate at which incarceration has increased over the past 50 years is one this country’s greatest shames, a testament to institutionalized racism and xenophobia, to our failures to confront socioeconomic inequality, and to our endemic willingness to warehouse people considered threats to public safety and personal property rather than fostering accountability or solving the underlying problems that reproduce criminality. ... Angela Y. Davis diagnosed this disconnect between knowing what prisons are and a relative lack of intervention to improve or replace this system as, in part, negligence on the part of our collective imagination. ... Why our imaginations fail is perhaps not as important as whether we are able to revitalize them — and then start acting together and with greater focus to end a multigenerational crisis... Visit Website ]
Feb 27, 2019, 3:01pm

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Bill McKibben: Climate Change Is Scary—Not the Green New Deal
It’s very clear that conservatives have one plan for dealing with the popularity of the Green New Deal: scaring the hell out of people. ... Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, the man who led the drive to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, said the other day that the Green New Deal was a “back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto.” ... “It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, ‘upgrading all existing buildings’, and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups.” ... All of which sounds good not just to me, but to most people: Polling for the Green New Deal is through the roof, especially among young people... Visit Website ]
Feb 15, 2019, 3:31pm

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Peter Jackson’s Cartoon War
Chris Hedges: When director-producer Peter Jackson’s World War I film, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which miraculously transforms grainy, choppy black-and-white archival footage from the war into a modern 3D color extravaganza, begins, he bombards us with the clichés used to ennoble war ... Military life is a form of servitude, prolonged exposure to combat leaves you broken, scarred for life by trauma and often so numb you have difficulty connecting with others, and the last thing war does is make you a man. ... Our own generals and politicians, who nearly two decades ago launched the greatest strategic blunder in American history and have wasted nearly $6 trillion on conflicts in the Middle East that we cannot win, are no less egotistical and incompetent. The images of our wars are as carefully controlled and censored as the images from World War I... Visit Website ]
Feb 11, 2019, 1:56pm

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Disarmament, Not Low-Yield Nukes
Robert C. KoehlerL: When the issue is nukes, and what to do with them, I think the first mistake we make is to put them into too narrow of a context, within which they seem “necessary” (because others have them) and “usable” (just in case, you know, a really evil country or terrorist organization starts threatening us) and there’s no larger sense of how to be alive and what survival actually means. ... And once nuclear disarmament is deemed out of the question, or “unrealistic,” the nuclear playing field remains wide open. ... that cruel paradox of national defense: that possession of humanity’s most powerful weapon doesn’t mean you can use it. Nukes have no purpose other than to prevent their use by others who possess them... Visit Website ]
Feb 2, 2019, 11:26am

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Police Make More Than 10 Million Arrests a Year, but That Doesn’t Mean They’re Solving Crimes
Alice Speri: In an effort to better inform conversations about criminal justice, a team of researchers from the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit research and policy organization, took more than two years to combine eight different federal databases into a tool that allows users to analyze arrest trends ... That data shows that of more than 10.5 million arrests made every year, the bulk are for noncriminal behavior, drug violations, and low-level offenses. ... the report’s most revealing finding, however, is that such aggressive enforcement doesn’t seem to do much to improve public safety or solve crime. ... “We have this myth that if we didn’t have the police, crime would be out of control, when the reality is very little crime is reported to the police, and even less is solved by the police. There’s just no reason to equate police with public safety in this way.”... Visit Website ]
Jan 31, 2019, 2:08pm

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The way forward for US government workers in the fight against the shutdown
The anger of US government workers locked out or forced to work without pay is growing, but neither the AFL-CIO nor the government employee unions has called for independent action by workers to fight the shutdown. ... Government workers should form democratically elected rank-and-file committees independent of the unions. These committees should coordinate with federal workers across the country and link up with other sections of workers coming into struggle in the US and internationally .... This will lay the basis for mass demonstrations and strikes as part of a political mobilization... Visit Website ]
Jan 23, 2019, 12:27pm

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Women Now Run the Military-Industrial Complex. That’s Nothing To Celebrate.
Dean Spade and Sarah Lazare: Major media outlets are fawning over the fact that women are taking over top positions in the country’s largest weapons companies and in U.S. defense and intelligence agencies. ... Feminism ... is increasingly being co-opted to promote and sell the U.S. military-industrial complex: a profoundly violent institution that will never bring liberation to women—whether they are within its own ranks or in the countries bearing the greatest brunt of its brutality. ... “Sure, it's great that you have a woman at the head of Raytheon, but what about the women who those bombs are being dropped on?” ... The impacts of war—such as reduction in basic services, electricity, and access to food and water, loss of family members, and increased rates of illness and disability—all increase women’s vulnerability to assault and worsen the conditions of women’s labor... Visit Website ]
Jan 19, 2019, 12:32pm

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4 Reasons Corporate Media Refuse to Talk About What Matters
Thom Hartmann: Ever since the media began, in a big way in the 1980s, to ignore actual news and go for highly dumbed-down or even salacious stories, many of us who work in the media have been astonished by this behavior by the network and cable news organizations and the major newspapers. ... They used to report the details of policy proposals in great detail ... But since the Reagan era, the networks have largely kept their coverage exclusively to personality, scandal, and horse race. ... Reasons - 1. The End of the Fairness Doctrine ... In 1987, Ronald Reagan ordered his FCC to cease enforcing the Fairness Doctrine. This much-misunderstood regulation required radio and TV stations, in order to keep their licenses, to “pay” for their use of the public airwaves (the property of We the People) with actual news. It was called “broadcasting in the public interest.”... Visit Website ]
Jan 10, 2019, 4:18pm

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Beauty—The Forgotten Recipe For Happiness
John de Graaf: Harvard philosopher Elaine Scarry contends that beauty awakens generosity, gratitude, tolerance, a passion for justice and many other positive traits. Our sense of beauty seems connected to harmony and what we consider beautiful may be an evolutionary development—we are attracted to landscapes and designs that seem life supporting or life affirming, while those—like oil spills, strip mines, etc. appear life threatening, in a visceral way—as wounds on the body of the earth. ... As with people, physically attractive landscapes can be deceiving—that lovely golf course may be a non-native monoculture, kept alive by high concentrations of fertilizer, pesticides and precious water. That’s why ecologist Aldo Leopold said things are right when, along with beauty, they preserve and enhance the integrity and stability of the environment... Visit Website ]
Jan 7, 2019, 11:09am

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An Elephant's Personhood on Trial
Brandon Keim: Forty-seven years ago, the Asian elephant now known as Happy was one of seven calves captured—probably in Thailand, but details are hazy—and sent to the United States. She spent five years at a safari park in Florida, time that in the wild would have been spent by her mother’s side. Then she was moved to the Bronx Zoo in New York City. There Happy remains today, and since the death of an elephant companion in 2006, she has lived alone, her days alternating between a 1.15-acre yard and an indoor stall. ... Should Happy be considered, in legal terms, a person? ... Making that case is an advocacy group called the Nonhuman Rights Project. ... and in October petitioned a New York state court to order Happy’s release. She wouldn’t be returned to the wild, but would be transferred to a sanctuary in California with more space and the company of other elephants ... Elephants, attest scientists who filed affidavits in Happy’s case, are highly self-aware, are emotional, make choices, and have a rich sense of both past and future... Visit Website ]
Dec 29, 2018, 3:51pm

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The Postal Worker’s Christmas
Sarah Anderson: Every year on Christmas Eve, my extended family gathers for a meal that can be served at the last minute, whenever we’re ready to eat. This tradition of cold salads, ham balls and cookies goes back to my mom’s childhood. ... My mother’s father was a North Dakota postal employee, so on Christmas Eve, she never knew when he would get home. He was determined to keep working, my mom would tell us, “until every Christmas package that could be delivered would be delivered.” ... On Dec. 4, a Trump task force on the postal system followed up with recommendations for partial privatization and other changes that would reduce services and raise delivery prices, particularly for rural communities. ... Rural communities would also be more likely to lose their local post offices. The task force wants to get rid of a law prohibiting the closing of rural post offices solely because they’re running a deficit.... Visit Website ]
Dec 23, 2018, 11:39am

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Google’s Earth: how the tech giant is helping the state spy on us
Yasha Levine, The Guardian, UK: We knew that being connected had a price – our data. But we didn’t care. Then it turned out that Google’s main clients included the military and intelligence agencies. ... Uber, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Tinder, Apple, Lyft, Foursquare, Airbnb, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Angry Birds – if you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, you can see that, taken together, these companies have turned our computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast corporate-owned surveillance net-work. Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk to, and who we see – everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for value. ... As it turns out, the same platforms and services that Google deploys to monitor people’s lives and grab their data could be put to use running huge swaths of the US government, including the military, spy agencies, police departments and schools... Visit Website ]
Dec 20, 2018, 12:07pm

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Can Socialism Save Democracy?
Theo Horesh: A consensus is emerging on the left that capitalism produces inequality, which leads to oligarchy, which undermines democracy, and paves the way to fascism; and only socialism can save democracy, because it can break the oligarchy, which will restore equality, so democracy can function effectively. ... It is a simple argument that is easily over applied, for modern democracy has always come coupled with markets. But it is an important argument that needs to be taken seriously, for inequality has threatened democracy, by fracturing the citizenry and producing oligarchy, since at least the time of Aristotle. ... If socialism is going to save democracy, it needs to bring about equality without snuffing out freedom, and it needs to respect the role of markets without letting them dominate society... Visit Website ]
Dec 14, 2018, 12:23pm


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