October 21, 2016


Via Curtis Kise

Who controls our schools?


The hidden costs of the longest war in American history

California finally finds some water

Richard Brenneman - For the first time in three years, two of California’s counties, Del Norte and Humboldt in the state’s northwestern corner, are officially drought-free, thanks to the storms of the last week.

Morning Line

Based on recent poll averages:
Nationally, Hillary Clinton is three points ahead of Trump, a statistical tie. This this is 5 points better than her worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 43%, Her campaign range has been 38-48%

Clinton is leading with 243 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down 32 from her best of 275 early in the campaign. Another 50 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. 92 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 84 are possible. This would still leave him 94 votes short.

More election stats

Those most anxious to see this election over with

Zachary Crockett, Vox - Don Trump is fed up.

"Is the election over yet?" he asks me over phone. "I'm ready to get my life back now."

To be clear, this is not the schismatic Republican nominee. This is a 62-year-old technician from Virginia who prides himself as a "free-loving Democrat." But today, Don has become a guilty-by-association casualty of the prominent Trump’s antics: He cannot hand over his credit card in a restaurant without being chided. He is coaxed into political debates at backyard barbecues.

Armed with one-liner retorts — "No relation"; "Not my uncle"; "I’m with Hillary" — he lives in a perennial state of verbal self-defense. Since the election, his surname has become a gadfly.

Don is not alone. According to Whitepages data, he is but one of 4,788 people in America who share the last name Trump. Zachary Crockett, Sarah Frostenson / Vox

America’s Trumps are educators, doctors, and machinists. They’re anti-liberal leftists, Christians, and immigrants. They span 46 states, from the remote reaches of Alaska to the sun-bleached shores of Florida. Most don’t bear any discernible relation to the man on the Republican ticket.

Federal judge blocks Mississippi's anti-Planned Parenthood bill

Star Tribune - A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that banned the state's Medicaid program from spending money with any health care provider that offers abortions.
U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III ruled in a lawsuit filed by two Planned Parenthood affiliates. The law took effect July 1.
Jordan said every court to consider similar laws has found they violate the "free-choice-of-provider" provision of federal law. Medicaid is paid by federal and state dollars.
Jordan pointed to a Sept. 14 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an injunction against a similar Louisiana law. The circuit handles appeals from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

October 20, 2016

On the beat in Bangor, Maine

Bangor Police Department - You didn't notice the light had turned green. You also did not notice that I had serendipitously been forced to stop directly beside you. I was going the opposite direction.

I was the guy in the black and white car. We were three feet apart. I was listening to Fleetwood Mac. My door sticker read, POLICE. You did not notice.

The cars in front of you had pulled away from the light and there you were, alone, vulnerable, head down. Were you sad? Nope, you were texting.

The folks behind you were patient, friendly, possibly missing out on the lunch special at Panda Garden. All because you did not look up.

 I am sure the message was important. I cannot question your motive for being 25 feet back from the green traffic signal. Stopped. Focused. Self absorbed.

I don't like the song "Tusk" so I was not singing along. Who could sing along with that song? So, since I was unable to move forward from my light, I continued watching you. I felt creepy, but I was stuck there as well.

 You provided the much needed entertainment that Stevie Nicks could not bring me. If it had been Supertramp, I would have been singing and might have never noticed you.

I looked down at the black siren control in my cruiser. The air horn button beckoned me. Inviting me to startle you to get you to move along. I couldn't do it. I wanted our eyes to meet organically. With no loud noise to interrupt our Chi.

When our eyes met, you were embarrassed. You knew exactly what I was thinking. You read my mind.

Yes, it is illegal to text while in traffic, even at a light. You blushed. I smiled. I mouthed he words, S-T-O-P I-T. You understood. You pulled forward and were able to get through the green light just in time for the two cars behind you to get to the red light.

We always hope for voluntary compliance. Texting while in a motor vehicle AND on the roadway is illegal. Even at a traffic light.

I hope you remember our time together.

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone, and be kind to one another.

We will be here.


Fine arts grad programs losing ground

Arts Journal - Across the country, art schools have minted a growing number of visual art MFA programs over the last 10 to 15 years. Many of them now face a challenge, as application numbers and enrollment figures are falling, according to the better part of a dozen insiders who spoke to artnet News, some of them on condition of anonymity.

“This year is the worst in memory, like perhaps in this millennium,” said one MFA program head, adding that his impression is that schools that were once getting two applications for every seat may now be getting less than one. “Selectivity rates will go down in lockstep with that decline,” said a dean at a storied Midwest art school, meaning programs that have touted their exclusivity may have less to offer, at least in that regard.

Related: Is Getting an MFA Worth the Price?

The increase in number of MFA programs has been dramatic. New York’s School of Visual Arts, for example, had just four graduate programs two decades ago. By 10 years ago, the school had doubled that number, and by five years ago that number had nearly doubled again. Today, the school hosts 11 MFA programs among its 21 graduate programs, which accommodate over 600 students (and which also include specialties in art education and art therapy). The school even has MFAs in both fine arts and art making.

ACLU sues to open surveillance cases

Boing Boing - The ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic have filed a motion demanding the release of 23 judgments from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret, closed courtroom that evaluates surveillance requests from America's spy agencies.

The ACLU says that the 23 decisions -- identified by diligent study of other court records and press reports -- contain "new or significant" interpretations of US surveillance law.
Disclosure of the opinions would shed light on how the government understands the boundaries of its spying power. Earlier this month, for example, after Reuters reported that Yahoo is secretly scanning every customer’s incoming email, anonymous officials told the New York Times that that action was based on an individualized order from the secret court. Disclosure of the order would offer insight into why the government thinks that is legal. Yahoo, for its part, on Wednesday urged the Director of National Intelligence to release and explain the court order in question.

Why workers and small businesses don't want to deal with Donald Trump

What it's like to do business with Donald Trump

Trump hit with 3500 law suits alleged non payment of contracts

No Fortune 100 CEO has given to Trump

NY Attorney General called Trump University a "straight up fraud."

Trump projects have received at least $885 million in public subsidies

Trump properties in huge tax scam case

Photo gallery of products from abroad in Trump's new hotel

More Trump funny figures

Trump vs. the law: A case file

A short list of Trump scandals

Doing business with Donald Trump

Donald Trump's own line of men's wear, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, is manufactured in China. -Salon

Trump businesses' credit score way below Clinton Foundation

Fox Business News - Debate season has brought about quite a bit of talk about how Donald Trump runs his businesses and how the Clinton Foundation gets its donor dollars. Nav, a business score education organization, decided to run business credit scores for both The Trump Organization and the Clinton Foundation.

... According to Nav, The Trump Organization, Inc.’s business credit score is a 19 out of 100 as of Sept. 23, 2016, which puts it below the national average score by more than 30 points. The Nav report said the score indicates the Trump Organization “is very likely to default on its credit payments” and that “this will make it difficult to get financing.” It puts Trump’s Organization in a “medium-to-high risk” category.

... According to Nav, the Clinton Foundation’s business credit score is a 42 out of 100 as of Sept. 23, 2016, which puts it below the national average score by about seven points. The Nav report said the score indicates the Foundation is “somewhat likely to default on its credit payments” and that “this could make it difficult to get financing and the terms may be unfavorable.” It puts the Clinton Foundation into a “medium-risk” category.


Fact checking the last debate

Christian Science Monitor

Great moments in poetry

Futility Closet

a.p. herbert

In 1961, irate at receiving a bill for an £85 surtax from the Inland Revenue, A.P. Herbert sent them a check in verse:

Dear Bankers, PAY the undermentioned hounds
The shameful sum of FIVE-AND-EIGHTY POUNDS
By “hounds,” of course, by custom, one refers
And these progenitors of woe and worry
This is the second lot of tax, you know,
On money that I earned two years ago.
(The shark, they say, by no means nature’s knight,
Will rest contented with a single bite:
The barracuda, who’s a fish more fell,
Comes back and takes the other leg as well.)
Two years ago. But things have changed since then.
I’ve reached the age of threescore years and ten.
My earnings dwindle; and the kindly State
Gives me a tiny pension — with my mate.
You’d think the State would generously roar
“At least he shan’t pay surtax any more.”
Instead by this un-Christian attack
They get two-thirds of my poor pension back.
Oh, very well. No doubt it’s for the best;
At all events, pray do as I request;
And let the good old customs be enforced —
Don’t cash this check, unless it is endorsed.

To his astonishment he received this reply:

Dear Sir,
It is with pleasure that I thank
You for your letter and the order to your bank
To pay the sum of five and eighty pounds
To those here whom you designate as hounds.
Their appetite is satisfied. In fact,
You paid too much and I am forced to act,
Not to repay you, as perchance you dream,
Though such a course is easy, it would seem.
Your liability for later years
Is giving your accountants many tears;
And ’til such time as they and we can come
To amicable settlement on the sum
That represents your tax bill to the State
I’ll leave the overpayment to its fate.
I do not think this step will make you frown:
The sum involved is only half-a-crown.
Yours faithfully,
A.L. Grove

He wrote back:

I thank you, Sir, but am afraid
Of such a rival in my trade:
One never should encourage those —
In the future I shall pay in prose.

Lots more at Futility Closet

Harvard won't pay its workers a decent wage

Take Part - An Ivy League school with a 10-figure endowment and alumni who include presidents and billionaires, Harvard University has long been considered the epitome of wealth and privilege. Like its less-esteemed peers, however, Harvard’s daily operations depend on an invisible army of clerks, administrative assistants, maintenance crews, and groundskeepers.

So when food-service workers went on strike against the university earlier this month, it cast a spotlight on the dark underside of higher education: institutions that often charge students more for tuition than they pay employees critical to their function.

Picket lines around Harvard in downtown Cambridge, Massachusetts, began when the food-service employees walked off the job on Oct. 5, after the school balked at their request for a minimum salary of $35,000. Harvard can afford it, they argue, because the university’s endowment is more than $35 billion—the largest of any private university.

It’s “the richest university in the world” and just put an additional $7 billion into its coffers, yet “Harvard is failing to provide a livable existence for its lowest-paid and hardest-working employees,” faculty member Tim McCarthy said during a rally last week. (Photo: YouTube)

Harvard isn’t alone: A survey of full-time administrative workers within the University of California system found that 45 percent of them sometimes go hungry. That includes library assistants and collections representatives who choose between paying rent and buying groceries, and many hold degrees from the same university system that pays them so poorly.

“There are graduates of the University of California, working for the University of California, and they’re still not making enough money after three, five, 10, or even 15 years [on the job] to put food on the table,” said Peter Dreier, an author and politics professor at Occidental College, who conducted the study.

October 19, 2016

Taco trucks at Trump's Las Vegas hotel

teleSUR English - The Culinary Workers Union is planning to construct a wall made of Taco Trucks outside of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas hours before Wednesday's third and final debate with Hillary Clinton.

The mostly Latino union says that Trump, who has a 50 percent share in the company, has been exploiting local hotel and casino workers and refuses to recognize their union and enter into collective bargaining. Workers have said that they get paid less than others with similar positions working on the Las Vegas strip.

Aid to poor families being slashed

CBPP - Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power this year and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 35 states plus the District of Columbia, after adjusting for inflation.  For 99 percent of recipients nationally, the purchasing power of their benefits is below the level in 1996, when the welfare reform law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. States should halt the erosion of TANF benefits and begin restoring the purchasing power lost over the past 20 years.

NAACP demands charter schools have same civil rights protections as public schools

Alternet  -The board of directors at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ratified a resolution passed this summer at its national convention calling for a moratorium on charter expansion and strengthening charter oversight. The vote came after intense lobbying against the resolution from the industry and its allies—including editorials at the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, a letter from black pro-charter legislators from California (where the sector gets almost anything it wants), and out-of-state protesters who were bussed in and interrupted the NAACP’s proceedings. 

“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” said Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP chair, in a statement after the 63-member national board vote. “Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high-quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”

“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools—as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation,” said Cornell William Brooks, NAACP president and CEO. “Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.”

There are now 6,700 charter schools across the country, educating 3 million students. The initial idea for charters was to create locally run experimental schools. However, as the industry has grown, especially since 2000, it has become dominated by corporate educational chains and franchises with ambitions to become national brands.

Morning Line: Clinton in record lead

Based on recent polls:

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is eight points ahead of Trump, the best she has done so far. This this is 10 points better than her worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 47%, Her campaign range has been 38-48%

Clinton is leading with 243 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down 32 from her best of 275 early in the campaign. Another 50 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. 108 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 68 are possible. This would still leave him 94 votes short.

October 18, 2016

What Ivana Trump said in the deposition that was later hid

New Yorker

If you think Trump is bad, check out Ben Carsen's thoughts

Daily Mail, UK - Ben Carson suggested that America is on the precipice of violent unrest thanks to the legalization of gay marriage.

The former neurosurgeon and failed presidential candidate was a speaker at the Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty on October 7, at the College of the Ozarks.

At the conference, the Seventh-day Adventist Christian told conservatives to fight against an 'ever-growing government' for their faith.

He suggested that 'there will be mass killings once again' and that 'the peace that we experience now will be only a memory'.

Rules of Thumb

Rules of Thumb - If your main parachute malfunctions and you're trying to decide whether to use your emergency chute, spit. If your spit goes up, use your emergency chute. If your spit goes down, your rate of descent is survivable.

Prigs in the lunchroom

From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, 2011 - The Department of Agriculture is proposing to limit the amount of potatoes available in school lunches to one cup a week in a not so nice example of liberal bossiness of the sort that produces little other than fewer votes for Democrats in elections.

Liberals often seem broadly unconscious of the fact that people’s politics are affected by attitude as well as by policy and telling people what they can eat or restricting a perfectly healthy food is about as dumb a political move one can come up with.

Besides, the science isn’t there for the Obama administration’s gastronomic self -righteousness.

Consider this item from Irish Central last month

|||| Obesity is now a major problem in Ireland – over 60 per cent of adults aged under 65 are either obese or overweight according to a new survey. The National Adult Nutrition Survey has also revealed that obesity rates amongst Irish men have tripled over the last 20 years. Male obesity has risen from eight per cent in 1990 to 26 per cent in men under the age of 65. Female obesity was at 13 per cent 20 years ago and now stands at 21 per cent. ||||

Since potatoes have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries, clearly they are an extraordinarily weak suspect in the rise in obesity during just the past two decades.

To the extent that potatoes are to blame it is most likely because of a change in the way they are cooked i.e. fried vs. baked or mashed. What might be called the Americanization of food can affect other items as well such as shifting from boiled meats and vegetables – another Irish staple – to fried and broiled.

But in the end we really don’t know. And one of the worst things any government can do is to pass rigid rules about things it doesn’t understand. Not only is it bad policy and bad science, it makes people mad. The people who do it come off as bossy prigs and often lose the next election.

October 17, 2016

Trump's DC hotel needs some rebranding

NY Magazine -  [Donald Trump's] 263-room five-star hotel in the historic Old Post Office building opened last month. But even with a prime location near the White House, swanky interiors, and aggressive promotion by the candidate himself, empty rooms have forced the hotel to reduce rates during a peak season. At the same time, the hotel has lost two planned restaurants, Hispanic employees are making claims of discrimination, and protesters are gearing up to do whatever they can to cause trouble for the hotel.
The Lobby.

Some of the issues even predate Trump’s presidential campaign: When the government inked a 60-year, $200 million lease with Trump in 2012, rival hoteliers took the unusual step of warning Uncle Sam that the deal could turn into yet another Trump business failure.

Those warnings look increasingly prophetic. While the break-even rate on the hotel rooms is more than $750 a night, by some estimates last weekend rooms could be had for under $500 per night — at a time when rival hotels were sold out weeks ahead of time. In his bid to win the lease, Trump promised to offer luxurious suites to lure business execs and diplomats, but many of the international elite appear to be avoiding it.

Last weekend bankers and dignitaries from around the world descended on Washington for the annual World Bank–IMF meetings. But just a few days before the conference, rooms were not only still available at Trump International, they were heavily discounted. On October 2, a deluxe room, with a rack rate of $805, could be had for as low $445 a night on Hotels.com. All other five-star D.C. downtown hotels were sold out. By Wednesday, October 5, weekend stays in the deluxe rooms were marked down to $404 per night on Trump International’s own website. The more luxurious 500-square-foot executive rooms, with a city view and marble bath, were only $484. By comparison, at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, the only available rooms were $1,139 per night, according to Hotels.com

Morning Line update: Clinton soaring

Based on the average of recent polls:

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is eight points ahead of Trump, the best she has done so far. This this is 10 points better than her worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 48%, Her campaign range has been 38-48%

Support for legal marijuana growing

The share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed. Back in 1969,84% opposed legalization.

War and peace links

War Department
How war hurts the economy
What Vietnam failed to teach us and the French
Behind the Paris killings
Backing off of hate
The good thing about war
Essays on war
Mission creep: the militarizing of America
Spooks & spies
All war all the time
The biggest threast to us: ourselves
Why is the military sacred?
A speech CSPAN didn't like
American Friends Service Committee
Veterans for Peace
War is a Crime
World Beyond War
Daniel Ellsberg
Tim Shorrock
Spy Talk
Guide to how we helped create ISIS & other terror groups

Global peace rankings

Tree Hugger - Each year the non-profit think tank Institute for Economics and Peace crunches the numbers to arrive at a ranking that measures where the most and least peaceful places on the planet are. Known as the Global Peace Index, the listing takes into consideration 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators.

It may come as little surprise, sadly, to hear that peace took a slight turn for the worse over the last year. And in fact, peace has been taking a slow dismal dip over the last decade, driven primarily by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability, according to the report. Since 2008, the world has become 2.44 percent less peaceful.

[Here are] the countries that ranked as most peaceful.

1. Iceland 2. Denmark 3. Austria 4. New Zealand 5. Portugal 6. Czech Republic 7. Switzerland 8. Canada 9. Japan 10. Slovenia

The five countries at the sad other end of the list all suffer from ongoing conflicts; Syria is at the bottom as the least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

And you may be wondering, where does the United States stand? Not in the top 10. Or even in the top 100. The U.S. comes in at spot number 103.

Cities that are encouraging cooperatives

Popular Resistance - City governments are shaping up as key actors accelerating worker co-op development. It started in 2009 when the City of Cleveland accessed a federal guaranteed loan to help finance the Evergreen Cooperatives. Since then, nine more city governments have moved to promote worker cooperatives through municipal projects, initiatives, or policies because they want to reach people and communities often left out of mainstream economic development. Other city governments including Philadelphia are considering it now.

Getting worker cooperatives to the scale of being a real market alternative will take time, energy, and the sort of experimentation we are seeing from these ten cities. A recent Imagined Economy Project report, Cities Developing Worker Co-ops: Efforts in Ten Cities, explores how city governments are thinking about their strengths in making worker co-ops structural features of local markets.

Traditional economic development, said Madison, Wisconsin’s Ruth Rohlich in the report, “isn’t helpful in creating really healthy communities, financially strong communities, in an equitable way.” Worker ownership may be a way forward, and city experiences right now will help municipalities decide how worker co-ops may become long-term features of their economic development agendas. To commit to worker cooperative development long term, the cities will need to see modest growth in jobs and business ventures resulting from their current efforts and may benefit from input and insights from worker cooperatives as they continue to adjust their sense of best practices. Cleveland and New York Leading the Way through Distinct Approaches to Worker Co-op Development

The City of Cleveland ventured into worker co-op development in response to a Cleveland Foundation initiative to set up a network of worker cooperatives connected under a corporate umbrella that planned to supply needed goods or services to hospitals, universities, or other anchor institutions. “I heard about it just in passing,” said Cleveland’s Economic Development Director Tracey Nichols quoted in the report, and the word of mouth led to the first instance of a city getting involved in worker cooperatives in a big way.


110 Republican leaders who won't vote for Trump

A third of Trump ventures were flacid

NY Times - The New York Times analyzed scores of Trump business announcements starting a decade ago, including those posted on the Trump Organization’s website and those that have been deleted but live on in web archives. The Times also combed through news reports, his personal financial disclosures and court records; interviewed partners; and interviewed Mr. Trump himself.

Of the roughly 60 endeavors started or promoted by Mr. Trump during the period analyzed, The Times found few that went off without a hitch. One-third of them never got off the ground or soon petered out. Another third delivered a measure of what was promised — buildings were built, courses taught, a product introduced — but they also encountered substantial problems, like lawsuits, government investigations, partnership woes or market downturns.

The remaining third, while sometimes encountering strife, generally met expectations — notably the television show “The Apprentice” and the purchases of numerous golf courses, including properties near Philadelphia and in the Hudson Valley.

A historian’s notes on now (written sometime in the future)

From our overstocked archives

One good way to step away from the daily news and try to figure out what’s really going on is to imagine oneself as an historian returning to this time some decades hence. What might you see as having happened in the thirty years since Reagan’s inauguration?  Here are some possibilities:

Sam Smith, 2012 - America’s imperial era was over but its leaders didn’t want to recognize it and the media didn’t want to talk about it. The only wars that America could claim to have won since World War II had been penny ante invasions of tiny Latin American countries such as Grenada, Dominican Republic and Panama. Other wars had cost America the lives of over 100,000 of its soldiers and over $2 trillion, but such facts had little impact on policy, media reporting, or action.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the level of federal, state and local unconstitutional assaults on civil liberties was unprecedented,  except during the Civil War and the two subsequent world wars.

The Constitution was no longer a controlling document but rather one from which the adhocracy in charge of America picked or ignored at will. The elite, for example, greatly preferred the commerce clause to the Bill of Rights.

America had lost its moral clout around the world.  A 2007 survey in two dozen countries found only three in which a majority viewed America’s influence as positive.

In the decade since 9/11 America  did not take one significant step to ease tensions with the Middle East or the Muslim world. Instead it relied on failed invasions,  futile sanctions and fatuous rhetoric.

The Democratic Party became more conservative than at any time since before the New Deal – relying on a few social issues like abortion and gay marriage to suggest otherwise. The last liberal Democratic presidential candidate was Walter Mondale in 1984. Presidents Clinton and Obama were the most reactionary Democratic presidents of modern times. Liberalism became a social demographic rather than a political cause.

Unlike the New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society, the three decades after 1980 were (with a few exceptions such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family & Medical Leave Act) virtually devoid of significant legislation that helped significant numbers of Americans deal with their economic or social problems. There were, however, a number of measures passed that greatly limited the civil liberties of Americans such as the Patriot  and Defense of Marriage Acts.

The closest parallel to the corruption at the top of American society during this period was that of the Prohibition Era. The biggest differences between the two eras was that during Prohibition the police and FBI were far more likely to arrest the corrupt - and that the corruption was far more costly to the American people.

The war on drugs moved into its fourth futile decade serving largely as a means of imprisoning younger poor American males, especially blacks, for whom there weren’t any jobs.It was, in a sense, a preemptive strike against a possible class based rebellion.

While it is now clear that the biggest development of the era was ecological, the media of the time gave little attention to the looming problems. One study found only about 2% of media stories at the time dealt  with the environment.

There were some improvements such as:

- Serious crime dropped to its lowest level since the 1960s.
- Cancer death rates declined
- Traffic deaths fell to their lowest level since 1949.
- Capital punishment was at a 35 year low
- Risk of dying had dropped 60% over the previous 75 years
- Suicides, infant mortality, and fatal heat disease were at their lowest since the 1950s
- Indicators for women, gays, blacks and latinos, other than economic, were all significantly improved

On the other hand:
- For first time record, a majority of Americans had lower hopes for their children.

- In the 1980s, about two thirds of corporations included health care benefits with their pensions. By 2012, only about a quarter did.

- The Congressional Budget Office said the income gap in the United States had become the widest in 75 years.

- In 1983, 50 corporations controlled most of the news media in America. By 2002, six corporations did.

- The real income of poorest Americas  dropped to its lowest level since the 1970s.

-  A record number of Americans 55 and older were still working

- Credit card debt was eight times worse than it had been in the 1980s.

- Long time unemployment was the worst since the 1940s

- A record number of homeowners were behind on their mortgages.

- There were a record number of home foreclosures.

- The real wealth of the top 1% was up over 100% while that of the poorest 40% was down nearly two thirds.

- The initial decade of the 21st century saw the first decline in family net wealth since the 1950s.

- There are were a record number in poverty

- Child homelessness was at record levels. 

While wars and the Great Depression had brought major disruptions to American life, never before had the system simply disintegrated on its own to this degree for this long. While the elite, including its media, refused to recognize what was happening, there was growing awareness by ordinary Americans of the depth of the collapse and an increasing sense that perhaps it was time to try something different.

October 16, 2016

Morning Line

Based on the average of recent polls:

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is five points ahead of Trump. This this is 7 points better than her worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 45%, Her campaign range has been 38-46%

Clinton is leading with 254 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down 21 from her best of 275 early in the campaign. Another 68 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. 152 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 17 are possible. This would still leave him 95 votes short.

Trump and the mob

A film that shows how police treat citizens as a military enemy

Early marijuana use found to affect brain function

Science Daily - In a new study, scientists in London, Ontario have discovered that early marijuana use may result in abnormal brain function and lower IQ.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the world. Previous studies have suggested that frequent marijuana users, especially those who begin at a young age, are at a higher risk for cognitive dysfunction and psychiatric illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, a Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and the Dr. Joseph Rea Chair in Mood Disorders at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, is a Canadian leader in studying both mood and anxiety disorders and the effects of marijuana.
Participants underwent psychiatric, cognitive and IQ testing as well as brain scanning. The study found no evidence that marijuana use improved depressive symptoms; there was no difference in psychiatric symptoms between those with depression who used marijuana and those with depression who did not use marijuana.

In addition, results showed differences in brain function among the four groups in areas of the brain that relate to reward-processing and motor control. The use of marijuana did not correct the brain function deficits of depression, and in some regions made them worse.

Of additional interest, those participants who used marijuana from a young age had highly abnormal brain function in areas related to visuo-spatial processing, memory, self-referential activity and reward processing. The study found that early marijuana use was also associated with lower IQ scores.

Trump links

A guide to Trump's biggest lies
Trump's corporate rap sheet
How Trump has tried (and suceeded) to avoid taxes
Trump rally thuggery stats
Thirty law suits that reveal the real Donald Trump
Trump's Mafia linked business pal comes to the fore
Variables most linked to a county's support for Trump
Trump uses foreign workers for his beach club
Trump declares war against First Amendment

Via Jim Angel

Trump sums himself up
"I really don’t even know what I mean, because that was a long time ago, and who knows what was in my head.” - Donald Trump, in an interview with NBC News, when asked about a 2002 Howard Stern interview in which he voiced support for the Iraq War. - Political Wire

196 people Trump has insulted and what he has said about them
3 in 4 young black Americans say they’d feel like fleeing the country if Donald Trump is elected
Federal judge rules Trump involved in ripping off union workers
The real Donald Trump
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How labor and blacks can work together

Portside - Labor should work alongside the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition with more than 50 organizations, to usher in a radically new economic and social order. The path won’t be easy. But recent history has shown that one of the ways to get at this new reality is through union bargaining. Consider the example of Fix L.A.

Fix L.A. is a community-labor partnership that fought to fund city services and jobs alike, using city workers’ bargaining as a flashpoint to bring common good demands to the table. The coalition started after government leaders in Los Angeles drastically cut back on public services and infrastructure maintenance during the Great Recession. The city slashed nearly 5,000 jobs, a large portion of which had been held by black and Latino workers. Not only did these cuts create infrastructure problems—like overgrown and dangerous trees and flooding—but they also cost thousands of black and Latino families their livelihoods.

Fix L.A. asked why the city was spending more on bank fees than on street services, and demanded that it renegotiate those fees and invest the savings in underserved communities.

What was the result of this groundbreaking campaign?

The creation of 5,000 jobs, with a commitment to increase access to those jobs for black and Latino workers, the defeat of proposed concessions for city workers and a commitment from the city to review why it was prioritizing payment of bank fees over funding for critical services in the first place! Bargaining for the common good

....Campaigns, like Fix L.A., that involve direct actions targeting banks, hedge funds, corporations and billionaires are effective.

This sort of organizing can be hard. In order to isolate workers from their broader communities, the other side has done a terrific job of narrowly defining the scope of bargaining as wages and benefits. In many states, labor laws prohibit public sector workers from bargaining over issues that concern the welfare of the broader community or the quality of the services they provide.

The theory of “bargaining for the common good” seeks to challenge this status quo. As articulated by Joseph McCartin of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, bargaining for the common good has three main tenets: 1) transcending the bargaining frameworks written in law and rejecting them as tools for the corporate elite to remain in power; 2) crafting demands between local community groups and unions at the same time and in close coordination with each other from the very beginning; and 3) embracing collective direct action as key to the success of organizing campaigns.

These may seem like simple ideas, but they stand in complete opposition to the way the power elite expects union bargaining to be done. Therein lies their power.

Therein also lies the opportunity for unions to partner with the Movement for Black Lives. For all of their complicated racial histories, unions are some of the largest organizations of black people in the country. About 2.2 million black Americans are union members—some 14 percent of the employed black workforce

October 15, 2016

Twitter blocking Progressive Review retweets

Twitter is blocking the retweeting of posts on the Review's blog claiming "This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can't complete this action right now. Please try again later."

Since Twitter has already published the original tweet from this site (which is automatically sent from Google Blogger) blocking a retweet makes no sense unless it is being used as a form of censorship by reducing readership.

Random thought

When I was growing up in the 1950s real men weren't meant to be conned by someone like Trump. It showed you weren't tough, smart and an easy prey. My hunch is that television advertising changed all that. America became driven by what was said, not what was done. - Sam Smith

Police arrest more pot users than for all violent crimes combined

Activist Post - Police in the United States arrest more people for the nonviolent, utterly harmless non-crime of cannabis possession than for murder, rape, armed robbery — in fact, all violent crime — combined.

A new study by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch exposes the absurdities of the war on drugs — like the fact on any given day, 137,000 people are stuck in a cage because they happened to possess a substance the government has deemed illegal — and a majority of them are stuck in jails awaiting a court date because they can’t afford to post bail.

PS: The Progressive Review has opposed the war on drugs since the 1970s

Twin Cities show how janitors can organize

Guardian - [The] fight began seven years ago when an immigrant workers’ center in Minneapolis – Centro Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (United Workers Center in Struggle) – contacted janitors at retail stores in the Twin Cities area. That workers’ center, known as CTUL, formed an organizing committee, led a three-mile protest march, held a 12-day hunger strike and sponsored a series of steadily expanding one-day strikes, which aimed to pressure retail powerhouses such as Target and Best Buy, both based in the Twin Cities, to give the janitors a voice at work.

The effort grew more ambitious, with its focus turning towards getting Target to adopt a Responsible Contractor Policy. Target adopted such a policy in 2014, requiring its contractors to comply with labor and wage laws, and the janitors’ focus then changed to forming a labor union, convinced that this was the best way to win better conditions.

Labor experts say this is probably the most successful effort to unionize retail store janitors in the US. “The retail janitorial industry has been overwhelmingly non-union – it was viewed by most people as ‘unorganizable’,” said Stephen Lerner, the former head of the SEIU’s Justice for Janitors Campaign, which unionized tens of thousands of office building janitors nationwide.

The terrible views of Pence

Population change includes doublers and decliners

IPS - While the world's population of 7.4 billion is growing at 1.1 percent per year - about half the peak level of the late 1960s - enormous differences in demographic growth among countries are increasingly evident and of mounting concern to countries and the international community.
At one extreme are the doublers: 29 countries whose populations are expected to at least double by the middle of the 21st century. At the other extreme in striking contrast are the decliners: 38 countries whose populations are expected to be smaller by the middle of the 21st century.
The doublers are all located in sub-Saharan Africa except for Iraq and the State of Palestine. The largest countries among the doublers are Nigeria (187 million), followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (80 million) and Tanzania (55 million).
Today the doublers together account for 10 percent of the world's population. By 2050, however, due to the doublers' rapid rates of demographic growth that proportion is expected to increase to 18 percent of the world's projected population of nearly 10 billion people.
The top ten countries with the projected population declines of no less than 15 percent are all located in Eastern Europe (Figure 2). The country with the most rapid decline among the decliners is Bulgaria (27 percent), followed by Romania (22 percent), Ukraine (21 percent) and Moldova (20 percent).
The largest decliner population, China, is expected to decrease by more than 2 percent by 2050, with the Chinese population peaking in less than a decade. Other large populations projected to experience demographic declines by midcentury are Japan (15 percent), Russia (10 percent), Germany (8 percent) and Italy (5 percent). Moreover, some of the decliners have already experienced population decline for a number of years in the recent past, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.