On This Day, Aug 23, 1939 – The Hitler-Stalin Pact

On this day in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact, stunning the world, given their diametrically opposed ideologies. But the dictators were, despite appearances, both playing to their own political needs. After Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain had to decide to what extent it would intervene should Hitler continue German expansion. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, at first indifferent to Hitler’s capture of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia, suddenly snapped to life when Poland became threatened. He made it plain that Britain would be obliged to come to the aid of Poland in the event of German invasion. But he wanted, and needed, an ally. The only power large enough to stop Hitler, and with a vested interest in doing so, was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool to Britain after its effort to create a political alliance with Britain and France...

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Trump Halts Research on Mountaintop Removal’s Health Effects

by Samantha Page – Budget cuts are already being felt. A study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has been suspended after the Department of the Interior told the group it was reviewing grants in advance of budget cuts. The two-year project, “Potential Human Health Effects of Surface Coal Mining Operations in Central Appalachia,” began this year when an ad hoc committee of public health, mining, and earth science experts was brought together to “conduct a study to examine the potential relationship between increased health risks and living in proximity to sites that have been or are being mined or reclaimed for surface coal deposits,” according to a project description. Total funding for the project was $1 million over two years. It is not clear when — or if — the project will continue, according to a press release posted Monday on the...

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No, Affirmative Action Isn’t Keeping White Students Down

by Jessicah Pierre – Enrollment rates are still higher for whites than blacks or Latinos. Now is the worst time to roll back affirmative action. There’s a saying: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” I thought of that when I heard about the Trump administration’s recent moves against affirmative action. According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Session, is looking for lawyers to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” Well, that’s the point of affirmative action, right? When President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order on affirmative action in 1961, the intent was to counteract discrimination that minorities faced in the job hiring process. Since then, many colleges and universities have instituted similar standards to make sure women and students of color are given a fair shot at receiving a...

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Will Trump Pardon Notorious Sheriff Arpaio? Trump Rally Raises Tensions in Phoenix

by Andrea Germanos – “Trump pardoning Arpaio would be an official presidential endorsement of racism,” says the ACLU. The people of Phoenix, Arizona are mobilizing ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the city on Tuesday—a week after he defended white supremacists—amid speculation over whether he will announce at the rally a presidential pardon for Joe Arpaio, the notorious former sheriff of Maricopa County. Thousands are expected to show up to protest the president’s visit, with a number of events planned including the Puente-organized “White Supremacy Will Not Be Pardoned” evening rally. The local human rights group said on its Facebook page: “we want to send a very clear message that we will not pardon white supremacy the way has done so with #Charlottesville and now with Joe #Arpaio.” Trump told Fox News last week that he is “seriously considering a pardon” for 85-year-old Arpaio, who was convicted last month by a federal judge of criminal contempt for violating a 2011 court order...

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Big Pharma Can Be Beaten: This Union Proved It

by Fran Quigley, Truthout | Report – When Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sat down at the Culinary Health Center in east Las Vegas on June 15 to sign the nation’s toughest-ever drug pricing law, Bonnie Sedich was thinking of her daughter Mary. Mary had Type 1 diabetes, and she had struggled to afford insulin as its cost rose by over 300 percent in recent years. Sedich thought about the still-unpaid bills for the credit cards that she and her husband maxed out trying to help Mary buy medicine. And she thought about Mary’s last grim months of life, partially paralyzed by a stroke and tortured by other diabetes complications, before dying in November at age 51. Bonnie Sedich’s grief was still raw when she talked to Nevada legislators earlier this year about the need to rein in the price of insulin, a 95-year-old drug likely manufactured at a cost of a few dollars...

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Trump Administration Prepares to Rob Women of Free Birth Control Provided by Health Insurance

by Kelly Macias – Here we go … again. Republicans are hyper-obsessed with women’s bodies and our reproductive choices and they don’t hesitate to let the whole world know it through asinine statements and backward legislation. Unfortunately, they’ve been somewhat successful at limiting our reproductive rights at local levels. In Texas, with their latest law which bans insurance coverage for abortions with no exceptions, they’ve managed to raise their hatred of women to an art form. Now it looks like the GOP is continuing its assault on family planning with an upcoming rule that would eliminate free birth control through insurance providers. The Trump administration is preparing to roll back the Obama-era free birth control mandate, a move legal groups say would be unconstitutional and subject to a court challenge. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the rule will be very similar to a draft version leaked in May, which would vastly expand the number and types of businesses eligible for an exemption from Obamacare’s...

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Breitbart Defends White Supremacists on Bannon’s First Week Back

by Aaron Rupar – The site Bannon once called “the platform for the alt-right” is still amplifying bigots. During Steve Bannon’s first full weekday back running Breitbart, the website he once called “the platform for the alt-right” published a defense of the VDare Foundation, a white supremacist organization that cancelled a conference scheduled to take place in April 2018 after a Colorado Springs resort owner warned they couldn’t ensure attendees’ safety. The piece, written by openly xenophobic former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, claims the resort owners’ decision — which came in response to pressure from local officials — shows that “the left does not need to show up and disrupt an event, they can merely threaten to do so and city officials run for cover like cockroaches.” Tancredo, who works as a regular Breitbart columnist, doesn’t mention that VDare is a white supremacist organization. According to Media Matters, VDare’s website has run articles under...

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The American People Deserve More Answers on Afghanistan

by Michael Fuchs, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh – Eight months into his term, President Donald Trump is finally paying attention to the ongoing Afghanistan War, where thousands of U.S. soldiers are currently fighting. Trump’s new plan seems a lot like the old ones, with even less detail about how the war—or American involvement in it—will end. For 16 years, America has been fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and trying to help stabilize the country. America’s longest war has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. troops and 1,136 allied troops, with tens of thousands wounded. In addition to the loss of life, combat in Afghanistan has cost the American taxpayer an estimated $841 billion (if the fiscal year 2018 budget request is met) in defense costs alone. The Afghanistan War has shaped the lives of an entire generation of American service members and their families. The rest of America—and, until now, President Trump—have seemed to hardly realize...

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Secret Service Officially Can’t Afford to Pay Agents Thanks to Trump’s Constant Golf Trips

by John Prager – Donald Trump has been wasting taxpayer dollars on his personal vacations, protection for his giant golden tower in New York, security at his golf clubs, and pretty much everything else you can imagine ever since he assumed office, but if you needed an example of how bad things are…we can’t even afford to pay the Secret Service agents protecting him anymore. CNBC reports that more than 1,000 agents have “already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year” thanks to the “crushing workload” Donald Trump has brought them. The Secret Service has a big job with the Trump family. Not only do they have to protect him as he jaunts from golf course to golf course, but they are also forced to protect his sniveling children on their business trips both in the United States and abroad. “The...

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On This Day, Aug 22, 1968 – Czechs Protest Against Soviet Invasion

In the streets of Prague and in the United Nations headquarters in New York City, Czechs protest against the Soviet invasion of their nation. The protests served to highlight the brutality of the Soviet action and to rally worldwide condemnation of the Soviet Union. On August 21, 1968, more than 200,000 troops of the Warsaw Pact crossed into Czechoslovakia in response to democratic and free market reforms being instituted by Czech Communist Party General Secretary Alexander Dubcek. Negotiations between Dubcek and Soviet bloc leaders failed to convince the Czech leader to back away from his reformist platform. The military intervention on August 21 indicated that the Soviets believed that Dubcek was going too far and needed to be restrained. On August 22, thousands of Czechs gathered in central Prague to protest the Soviet action and demand the withdrawal of foreign troops. Although it was designed to be a peaceful...

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How to Fight White Supremacy: Charlottesville, SPLC Offer Blueprints

by Sher Watts Spooner – The rise of white supremacy in the United States, with Donald Trump as its head cheerleader, has heightened tensions across the country. The “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the killing of Heather Heyer when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, has spurred marches, vigils, and actions nationwide to counter the hate speech of the white supremacist crowd. But many feel lost, wondering about the most effective methods of fighting racial hatred. Racial bias and hatred are nothing new in this country, but since the rise and election of Donald Trump, white supremacist groups have become emboldened to spew their specific brands of hate both online and in person. They are using any excuse to target minorities of any kind. The removal of statues honoring Confederate Civil War leaders is just the latest spark igniting publicity-seeking actions, often by heavily armed participants. What...

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Dick Gregory Took Us All on a Strange and Powerful Trip

by Nick Gillespie – Comedian, civil-rights activist, food guru, and conspiracy theorist made America a better, more-thoughtful place. The comedian and activist Dick Gregory has died at the age of 84. Talk about a career that’s virtually impossible to categorize. From avant-garde joke teller to civil-rights figure to diet guru to conspiracy mongerer, he lived a full life that in many ways mirrors all the twists and turns of American life over the past 50 or 60 years. He was relentlessly pessimistic about the state of the country even as he inspired his audience to work for change. I found him interesting because he was always out there on the horizon, lighting a path—albeit often one not particularly grounded in facts—that many of us would be following down soon after. Born in St. Louis in 1932, Gregory ran track for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale on a scholarship, got drafted, and eventually...

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Trump Disbands U.S. Climate Advisory Panel Providing Critical Data for Coastal Protections

by Dartagnan – On Sunday, Trump abandoned the coastal United States in their efforts to prepare and plan against the effects of climate change, specifically denying them information to assess the impact of sea level rise on new construction and the means to prevent tidal incursion into roadways, businesses, and private homes that make up coastal communities. In yet another move that indicates the White House does not take the threat of climate change seriously, the Trump administration has disbanded a federal advisory panel that worked to translate the government’s climate data into actionable insight for policymakers and the private sector… The Board of the Committee for Sustained Climate Assessment was made up of 15 persons representing private and public corporations, utilities, climate researchers and local public officials. Its purpose was to interpret federal data—the same data relied upon by the Department of Defense in formulating our national security policy—for private and public construction...

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University of Texas at Austin Removes its Confederate Statues Overnight

by Kelly Macias – If America is the land of opportunity, then it could surely be said that it’s a country filled with people who are opportunists. While opportunists are generally known for taking advantage of a situation to gain some benefit without regard to ethics or morals, every once in a while even the most calculating ones can do the right thing. Politicians, who are the most notorious opportunists out there, have used the violence in Charlottesville to seize the moment when it comes to removing Confederate monuments. Last week, Baltimore removed its monuments in the middle of the night and other cities are planning to follow suit. And the University of Texas at Austin also joined the club, removing several of its Confederate statues from campus on Sunday night. Workers began removing the statues of Robert. E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan from the university’s main plaza late Sunday night. The news was delivered to the campus community via...

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Serious Questions About Trump’s Mental Fitness for Office Grow

by Kerry Eleveld – Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein tweeted last week that “important Republicans” and higher ups in the intelligence and military communities had been “increasingly saying in private that @realDonaldTrump is unfit to be president.” That was on Tuesday. By Thursday, GOP Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, questioned Donald Trump’s fitness aloud with a quote that ricocheted around Washington at lighting speed. The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful… By Sunday, CNN’s Brian Stelter devoted an entire segment to mounting questions about Trump’s mental suitability to function as leader of our nation. “Is the president of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? “And if he is unfit, then what?” Stelter asked on the program Reliable Sources. Bernstein appeared on the...

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Opioid Use Now Tops Tobacco Use in the U.S.

by Julie Fidler – More opioid prescriptions in Tennessee than residents. A survey released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that more people in the U.S. use opioid painkillers than tobacco, highlighting the tragic opioid crisis gripping the country. A federal review published in the spring showed that opioid prescriptions in the U.S. decreased for the 1st time in 2 decades, which suggests that doctors are finally starting to heed warnings about the drugs’ addictive properties. However, that decrease has not translated into fewer deaths. The SAMHSA report illustrates just how widespread the problem remains. The problem is especially severe in Tennessee, where there are more opioid prescriptions written than people actually living in the state. There are 1.18 opioid prescriptions per every resident of Tennessee. More people died from overdoses in the state in 2014 than from car crashes or shootings. Source: CDC Nationally, 37.8% of American adults...

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Marcellus Williams Faces Execution Despite New Evidence

by Yarno Ritzen – Marcellus Williams is due to be executed on Tuesday despite new DNA evidence supporting his claim to innocence. On Tuesday night, the US state of Missouri is planning to execute Marcellus Williams despite a new report from a DNA expert that his lawyers argue supports his claim to innocence. In 2001, Williams, who is now 48, was convicted of the 1998 killing of Lisha Gayle. But his lawyers say new DNA evidence could exonerate him. The Missouri Supreme Court, however, has refused to review that evidence. Williams’ lawyer, Kent Gipson, has described the Supreme Court’s decision as “baffling”. “We petitioned the court to look at the new evidence on August 14th, and less than 24 hours later they decided based on the court files that the execution should go ahead anyway. This is unprecedented,” Gipson told Al Jazeera. Williams, who has always claimed he is innocent,...

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The Lies on Afghanistan Trump Will Now Tell

by Matthew Hoh – There has never been progress by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, unless you are asking the U.S. military contractors or the Afghan drug barons, of whom an extremely large share are our allies in the Afghan government, militias and security forces, there has only been suffering and destruction. American politicians, pundits and generals will speak about “progress” made by the 70,000 American troops put into Afghanistan by President Obama beginning in 2009, along with an additional 30,000 European troops and 100,000 private contractors, however the hard and awful true reality is that the war in Afghanistan has only escalated since 2009, never stabilizing or deescalating; the Taliban has increased in strength by tens of thousands, despite tens of thousands of casualties and prisoners; and American and Afghan casualties have continued to grow every year of the conflict, with U.S. casualties declining only when U.S. forces began to...

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On This Day, Aug 21, 1935 – The Swing Era Begins With Benny Goodman’s Triumphant Palomar Ballroom Performance

The sound of swing, which utterly dominated the American popular-music scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s, instantly evokes images of tuxedo-clad Big Bands and dance floors crowded with exuberant jitterbugs dancing the Shag and the Lindy Hop. While the roots of swing music clearly lie in earlier forms of jazz—and particularly in African-American jazz performance styles—swing as we know it may just have been born at a specific time and in a specific place, with an electric performance by one particular Big Band for one particularly enthusiastic audience. The time and place was August 21, 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, California, where Benny Goodman and his band emphatically opened the Swing Era with an exuberant performance witnessed by thousands of young fans in the live audience and millions more tuning in to a live radio broadcast. Benny Goodman had been a successful featured soloist...

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Fukushima Plant Is Releasing 770,000 Tons of Radioactive Water Into the Pacific Ocean

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – When Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a triple-core meltdown in March 2011 as the result of devastating earthquake, most people had no idea this was only the beginning of a nuclear disaster that has arguably become the single worst industrial accident in human history. Keeping the three core meltdowns cool has been an ongoing challenge that has yet to be met. As fresh water is pumped over the cores, it is then stored on site in massive tanks. The Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, then has to figure out what to do with that water. Recently, TEPCO announced that it would dump 770,000 tons of radioactive tritium water into the Pacific Ocean. The announcement infuriated local fishermen and environmental groups across Japan. According to Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist and winner of the 2015 Rachel Carson prize, their outrage and alarm...

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