US Parole Activists Aim to Overhaul a Failing System

by Jean Trounstine, Truthout | Report – The United States has the shameful reputation of being the world’s largest jailer, and as the Prison Policy Initiative reported in March, 2017, 2.3 million people are currently locked up in prisons and jails. This mass incarceration continues in spite of the fact that a Brennan Center for Justice report shows that crime is down and rates remain near historic lows. Furthermore, our punishment system extends beyond the prison walls and includes destructive parole policies. “Max Out,” a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts report, details that over the past three decades, those sent to prison have been serving longer sentences. They are less likely to earn parole, the opportunity to finish one’s sentence in the community. This occurs in spite of the fact that research shows that longer sentences do not make us safer and do not prevent people from returning to prison, even as they cost more. But here’s...

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George Clooney Bursts the ‘Hollywood Elite’ Bubble BS and Trump’s ‘Gold Toilet’ Hypocrisy

by News Corpse –   The Daily Beast just published an extensive interview of George Clooney. While the article is part of the rollout for his new film “Suberbicon,” it covered a variety of other subjects. Not surprisingly, many of them were about politics and politicians. Clooney was asked about the 2016 presidential campaign and the flaws in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. He talked about race and the overt bigotry embedded in Donald Trump’s campaign. The incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, came up, along with the Confederate flag controversy. When asked whether Trump was emboldening white nationalists, Clooney responded without mincing words: “Well, think about it this way: if I was President of the United States and David Duke is praising me and the white nationalists were talking about how I was on their side, the first thing I would do is I would come out and say, ‘Fuck these guys. Anyone who believes this is not...

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Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of ‘Drug Recognition Experts’

by Jacob Sullum – A lawsuit by three sober drivers who were busted for DUI questions the pot-detecting abilities of DREs. To the untrained eye, Katelyn Ebner seems completely sober during her 28-minute roadside encounter with Cobb County, Georgia, police officer Tracy Carroll, who has pulled the 23-year-old waitress over for failing to maintain her lane as she made a left turn. But Carroll, who was designated a “drug recognition expert” (DRE) after undergoing 160 hours of special training, perceives “numerous indicators” that Ebner is under the influence of marijuana. Ebner repeatedly assures him she does not “smoke weed” or “do any of that stuff” and volunteers to prove it by taking a drug test. “You’re going to jail, ma’am,” he replies. “I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.” Carroll does not need a magical drug test, because he is a magical drug test—or so the...

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The Last, Best Hope to End Partisan Gerrymandering

by Ian Millhiser – It all comes down to crucial Justice Kennedy. The United States of America is very bad at democracy. We have a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, a malapportioned Senate where the majority party represents close to 35 million fewer people than the minority party, and a House of Representatives that — in no small part due to gerrymandering — is firmly in Republican hands. In order to regain control of the House in 2018, Democrats will need to win the national popular vote by more than 7 points. That’s not impossible, but it’s hardly a free and fair election. Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether to solve at least part of this problem. Gill v. Whitford asks the justices to hold that partisan gerrymanders violate the Constitution — a conclusion the Supreme Court has never really doubted — and, more importantly, to hold that the judiciary...

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Trump Rebuked for Lashing Out at San Juan Mayor Who Criticized Govt Aid Efforts

by Jessica Corbett – “Doesn’t matter if you’re desperate and dying—if Trump feels criticized, he will lash out,” noted one critic after the president tweeted about Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump is under fire Saturday morning for lashing out on Twitter at the mayor of San Juan, who on Friday raised major concerns about the Trump administration’s slow action and misleading commentary regarding Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico. In a series of tweets, the president purported that unidentified Democrats had told the Puerto Rican official “you must be nasty to Trump.” He also claimed “the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico” had demonstrated “poor leadership ability.” The backlash on social media was swift. Speaking to CNN on Friday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin had expressed shock at the Trump’s administration claims that Puerto Rico’s recovery from the devastating hurricane is “a good news story,” and made headlines for saying: “When you’re drinking from...

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White Folks Need to Stop Assuming We Know Everything About Race

by Jill Richardson – If you don’t understand why football players are taking a knee, take it as a sign you have more to learn. As white people across the nation criticize Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who “take a knee” for the national anthem, they ought to know something first. White people in America have no idea what life is like for black people in America. How can I make such a broad statement? How would I possibly know? For one thing, I’m white. I grew up in a mostly white town. Like many white people, I was raised to oppose racism, at least as I understood it then. I celebrated Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. I wasn’t quite sure who Malcolm X was — I’d heard the name, but we never studied him in school. I’d never heard of other black leaders like Marcus Garvey or...

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Strengthening U.S. Options on Iran

by Brian Katulis, Peter Juul, Hardin Lang, Daniel Benaim, Yoram Schweitzer, Rudy deLeon, and Alia Awadallah – President Trump’s apparent intent to sabotage the Iran nuclear agreement represents strategic malpractice at its worst. In his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York last week, President Donald Trump once again undermined U.S. power and influence in his remarks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the 2015 international agreement that cut off Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. Calling the agreement “an embarrassment,” the Trump administration threatened to decertify Iran’s compliance.1Consistent with Trump’s campaign rhetoric, such a move would contradict recent assessments by top U.S. military and intelligence officials, most of America’s closest allies, and key international organizations. It will also isolate the United States, which will be seen as not keeping its word on the global stage. A move to decertify Iran’s compliance would start the clock on a 60-day window in which the U.S....

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‘You like that?’: St. Louis Cops Savagely Beat Handcuffed Filmmaker While Wife Watched, Suit Says

by Alan Pyke – Police leaders had initially boasted about owning the streets. On St. Louis’ most restless night of protests for some time, interim police chief Lawrence O’Toole seemed to embrace a tribal us-and-them attitude toward demonstrators in his city. Hours after reporters watched black-clad riot cops chant “Whose streets? Our streets!” at dispersing protesters, O’Toole boasted to press cameras that “police owned the night,” comments which Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) would criticize days later. It all may have seemed hollow posturing and harmless banter. But a new lawsuit illustrates the very real abuses that such a domineering mentality from law enforcement can foreshadow. O’Toole’s cops allegedly beat, taunted, and repeatedly maced a handcuffed filmmaker that Sunday night, singling the Kansas City man out from a herd of arrestees to punish him physically for recording them. Drew and Jennifer Burbridge sued the city on Tuesday, alleging the kind of unprofessional, illegal...

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On This Day, Sept 30, 1955 – James Dean Dies

On this day in 1955, movie star James Dean dies at age 24 in a car crash on a California highway. Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed “Little Bastard,” headed to a car race in Salinas, California, with his mechanic Rolf Wuetherich, when they were involved in a head-on collision with a car driven by a 23-year-old college student named Donald Turnaspeed. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:59 p.m. Wuetherich, who was thrown from the car, survived the accident and Turnaspeed escaped with minor injuries. No charges were ever filed against him. James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931, in Marion, Indiana. He studied drama at the University of California, Los Angeles, before moving to New York City, where he appeared in plays and TV shows and took classes at the Actors Studio with legendary acting...

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America Held Hostage

by Neal Gabler – In terms of numbers, most Americans reject conservative policy positions. So why are Republicans in office? Of all the myths the Republicans have perpetrated, and there are a lot of them, perhaps none is more powerful or insidious than the foundational one that this is an overwhelmingly conservative country and that progressives are outliers in it, along with its pernicious corollary that conservatives are “real” Americans while liberals (and the minorities who support liberal policies) are somehow counterfeits. It is a brilliant bit of propaganda. The only problem is that it isn’t factually true, at least for those who still believe in facts. While there are more self-described conservatives than liberals, in large part, I think, because of the conservatives’ success at conflating their brand with Americanism itself, the gap has been narrowing. And in any case, party identification is just about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans....

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Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

by Robert Reich – When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost everything Obama wanted to do by arguing it would increase the federal budget deficit. But now that Republicans are planning giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they’ve stopped worrying about deficits. Senate Republicans have agreed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which means giant budget deficits. Unless Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and defense, that is.  Even if Republicans eliminated everything elsein the federal budget – from education to Meals on Wheels – they wouldn’t have nearly enough to pay for tax cuts of the magnitude Republicans are now touting. But Republicans won’t cut Social Security or Medicare because the programs are overwhelmingly popular. And rather than cut defense, Senate Republicans want to increase defense spending by a whopping $80 billion (enough to fund free public higher education that Bernie Sanders proposed in...

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The United States is Unprepared for the Next Major Earthquake

by E.A. Crunden – Mexico is a victim of geography — but so are major U.S. cities like Los Angeles. Two devastating earthquakes recently rocked Mexico in the short span of 12 days, killing nearly 300 people and leaving many more in need of aid and assistance. The dual tragedies, largely worsened by geography, left the country struggling to recover and rebuild. But as outside nations flocked to send their condolences, many experts warned that the same fate could befall a number cities in their home countries as well. The United States happens to be counted in that list. The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Tuesday originated in Puebla and topped buildings far from the site, including 75 miles away in Mexico City. At least 230 people have died so far, with many more casualties expected. That disaster came less than two weeks after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast —...

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Following Harvey and Maria, House Republicans Propose $10 Billion … for Trump’s Wall

by Gabe Ortiz – Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico is nothing short of catastrophic. “Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island,” noted Vox, with more than three million U.S. citizens facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates,damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said his panel will vote on the legislation next week. The bill also would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas. “Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s...

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Judge Rules Black Lives Matter Cannot be Sued by Police Officer and Fox News is not Happy About it

by Kelly Macias – The widespread anger and outrage this week incited by Donald Trump’s comments on the NFL protests has once again shown how hypocritical and racist so many Americans are. Americans, Republicans in particular, are all for free speech but when black people exercise it, it sends some of them into a violent frenzy.  It doesn’t matter who is doing the protesting, whether its black athletes or ordinary black citizens—they find any excuse to paint black protest as a danger to safety and democracy. This is especially true if violence occurs at a protest. Recently, a police officer in Baton Rouge tried to sue Black Lives Matter for injuries he sustained during a protest against police brutality in July 2016.  Along with suing DeRay Mckesson, an activist who attended the rally, the officer claimed that Black Lives Matter and Mckesson were responsible for inciting the violence that caused him harm. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the officer cannot sue...

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The Definition of Leadership: In Response to Racism, Air Force Lt. Gen. Gave a Speech for the Ages

by Jen Hayden – Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria is the Superintendent of U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the speech he gave, seen below, in response to a racist incident on the campus of the U.S. Air Force Prep Academy is the absolute definition of leadership. Here is the back story from the Air Force Times: Racial slurs were written on the dormitory message boards of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School earlier this week. Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs for the academy, said the slurs were discovered Monday. One cadet candidate’s mother posted a photo on her Facebook page Wednesday that shows the words “go home n*****r” written on the white board outside her son’s room. “This is why I’m so hurt!” the mother said in her post, which was at first public but then taken offline Thursday. “These young people are...

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Illinois Governor Reverses Course, Will Expand Abortion Access for Low-income Residents

by Addy Baird – It’s been a surprisingly successful week for reproductive rights. It’s been a surprisingly successful week for reproductive rights activists, after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said Thursday he would sign into law a bill that would expand taxpayer-subsidized abortions for those covered by Medicaid and state employee insurance. In April, Rauner said he would veto the bill, but reversed course after meeting with activist groups both for and against the legislation. “I believe that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in the position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose,” Rauner said at a press conference Thursday. “I also believe that no woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman would make purely based on her income.” Signing the bill is a politically fraught move for the...

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Tom Price Took Military Jets Abroad, Bringing Total Cost of Travel to More Than $1 million

by Addy Baird – The White House approved the flights. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took military jets to Europe and Asia, Politico reported Thursday evening, bringing the total cost to taxpayers of Price’s travel to more than $1 million since May. Price has been under scrutiny since Politico began reporting on his extensive use of chartered flights last week. On Thursday afternoon, Price said he would pay back the costs of his own seat on those chartered flights — just over $50,000 out of the total cost of more than $400,000. Taxpayers would be on the hook for the rest. In a White House press briefing earlier in the day Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the White House did not have a role in authorizing Price’s chartered flights. Politico reported Thursday evening, however, that a White House official had approved the flights Price took on military jets....

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On This Day, Sept 29, 1982 – The Tylenol Murders

On this day in 1982, a sick 12-year-old girl in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, unwittingly takes an Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule laced with cyanide poison and dies later that day. She would be one of seven people to die suddenly after taking the popular over-the-counter medication, as the so-called Tylenol murders spread fear across America. The victims, all from the Chicago area, ranged in age from 12 to 35 and included three members of the same family. Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, launched a massive recall of its product and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible. Investigators soon determined that the tainted Tylenol capsules hadn’t been tampered with at the factories where they were produced. This meant that someone had taken the bottles from store shelves, laced them with poison and then returned them to grocery stores and...

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On This Day, Sept. 28, 1995 – PLO and Israel Transfer West Bank, Gaza Control

1995 – Yasser Arafat of the PLO and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed an accord that finally transferred control of the West Bank. The Olso Accord of 1993 provided for the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The Palestinian Authority would have responsibility for the administration of the territory under its control. The Accords also called for the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It was anticipated that this arrangement would last for a five-year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated (beginning no later than May 1996). Remaining issues such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, security and borders would be part of the “permanent status negotiations” during this period. 1066 – England was invaded by William the Conqueror who claimed the English throne. 1781 – During the Revolutionary War, American...

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The Shady Case That Put a Nashville Man in Prison for Over 20 years

by Aviva Shen – Witnesses say police threatened them into lying about a murder they never saw. Marquise Harris was leaving his family’s apartment one morning in 1992 to catch the school bus when a police officer stopped him outside his door. His parents had already left for work, but Nashville homicide detective Bill Pridemore asked the 13-year-old to talk in private. According to Harris, the detective wanted him to say he had seen another teenager, Cyrus Wilson, shoot a man outside his bedroom window. Harris said he didn’t know anything about the alleged altercation. “Then the detective grabbed my left arm and asked me in a loud tone, do I want to spend the rest of my life in prison for someone else’s mistake,” Harris recounted in a handwritten affidavit earlier this year. Pridemore told him he had enough evidence to arrest Harris as an accessory to murder if he...

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Germany: The Rise of the Right

by Gwynne Dyer – A general trend towards the authoritarian, ultra-nationalist right in Western politics has emerged. Angela Merkel’s slogan in her campaign for a fourth term as Chancellor was terminally bland and smug – “For a Germany in which we live well and love living” – but it did the job, sort of. Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is back as the largest party, so Merkel gets to form the next coalition government. But the neo-fascists are now in the Bundestag (parliament) too, for the first time since the collapse of Nazi Germany. It’s not Merkel’s fault, exactly, but the numbers tell the tale. The CDU had its worst result ever, down from 40 percent of the vote at the last election to only 33 percent this time. And it looks like the 7 percent of the vote that the CDU lost went straight to the Alternative for Germany (AfD),...

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Mission Accomplished: Study Shows GOP-Backed Voter ID Laws Work to Suppress Turnout

by Jon Queally – “It’s certainly possible that there were enough voters deterred that it flipped the election,” says lead author study about 2016 voting in Wisconsin. Highlighting the effectiveness of such laws to decrease voter turnout, a new study out of Wisconsin shows that somewhere between 16,000 and 23,000 people did not vote in the state’s 2016 November elections due to a newly-imposed restrictive voter ID law passed in the state by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker. “Gov. Walker and his co-conspirators ought to be ashamed of what they have done.” —Analiese Eicher, One Wisconsin According to the Urban Milwaukee: Thousands and thousands of legal voters in Wisconsin were prevented from casting a ballot in the November 2016 election because of the state’s strict voter ID law, according to a study of registered voters conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Ken Mayer. The study was based on a survey...

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Milo Yiannopoulos’ Security Cost UC Berkeley $800,000

by Patrick Strickland – US university grappling with budget cuts and layoffs spends sum on security for far-right speaker’s 15-minute rally. After student organizers of the Berkeley “Free Speech Week” cancelled their events, far-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos vowed to hold a rally of his own. WATCH: Violence breaks out at opposing rallies in Berkeley campus (02:10) Yiannopoulos’ appearance at the steps of the University of California’s Sproul Plaza on Sunday was brief. After 15 minutes, Yiannopoulos’ security guards drove him off, local media reported. The university said security precautions for the event, which involved officers from eight different law enforcement agencies, cost $800,000. Along with far-right author Mike Cernovich and anti-Muslim figure Pamela Geller, Yiannopoulos addressed around 150 supporters who had gathered to hear him speak. “It feels like probably the most expensive photo op in the university’s history,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof, according to The Mercury News. The sum spent...

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Trump Tax “Hoax” Would Blow $5 Trillion Hole in Budget Over Next Decade: Analysis

by Jon Queally – ‘The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along.’ Trumpcare may be dead again (for a while at least) on Tuesday, but Republicans now want to get serious about what they call “tax reform,” but which critics are resolute in saying is just a major push to give the nation’s corporation and wealthiest individuals another massive giveaway they don’t need and certainly don’t deserve. A day ahead of the Trump administration’s scheduled release of what it says will be a “detailed” tax plan, progressive policy groups are again warning the American people not to be fooled by rhetoric as they highlight estimates showing the likely proposal will cost the government trillions of dollars in revenue over the next decade and lead the way towards massive cuts in key social programs that help insulate low-income...

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Georgetown Students, Faculty Take a Knee to Protest Sessions’ Hypocrisy on Free Speech

by KIRA LERNER & JOSHUA EATON – “We have questions for Jeff Sessions.” Georgetown Law students and faculty gathered on the campus Tuesday to protest a speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in which he blasted college campuses that he said have allowed political correctness to erode free speech. The school did not allow many of the students and faculty at Tuesday’s protest to attend the invite-only speech. “The concept of free speech is to invite both people who dissent and people who disagree,” Imani Waweru, a third-year law student and attorney general of Georgetown’s Black Law Students Association, told ThinkProgress. “The obvious message here is that those who dissent are not invited.” Georgetown’s Center for the Constitution, led by conservative professor Randy Barnett, organized Sessions’ speech. Students and faculty said they took issue with the fact that they had just one day’s notice that the controversial attorney general would speak. The issue of...

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5 Shining Examples of Trump’s Patriotism

by Luke Barnes – Taking a knee is too much for him, however. President Trump transformed himself over the weekend into a one-man litmus test on the patriotism of America’s favorite pastimes. On Friday, he said he hoped any “son of bitch” who kneels during the national anthem would get fired by the NFL owners, before tweeting on Monday that he was “o proud of NASCAR and its supporters” for not disrespecting the country. The President insisted that his comments were solely about being patriotic, and about “respect for our country and respect for our flag.” But Trump’s own history reveals a man who unabashedly ducks away from his patriotic duty when needed – and then goes on to insult those who did. Here are five notable examples: Trump developed a mysterious case of bone spurs after being drafted for Vietnam When Trump was in college from 1964 to 1968 he received...

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‘Our Momentum Is Unstoppable’: Workers Celebrate as Target Announces $15 Minimum Wage

by Jake Johnson – “Never underestimate the power of organizing.” In what is being described as a huge victory for the tens of thousands of workers across the country who have for years organized, rallied, and gone on strike for higher wages, Target on Monday announced that it plans to raise the company-wide minimum hourly wage to $11 by next month and $15 by 2020. “Five years ago, when 200 New York City fast-food workers first walked off the job for $15 an hour and union rights, nobody gave us a shot. Since then, we’ve spread this movement to every corner of the country and beyond fast-food. We did what they said we couldn’t: we won. We won in the states, in the cities, with the big politicians and with the big corporations,” Steven Suffridge, a Minneapolis McDonald’s Worker and Fight for $15 organizer, wrote in an email reacting to the news. “And...

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Extremist Roy Moore Wins Alabama Senate Primary, Dealing Major Blow to Trump

by Kira Lerner – Trump campaigned for Moore’s opponent, Luther Strange. Roy Moore, an extreme far-right Republican, won Alabama’s GOP primary on Tuesday, defeating Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) who benefited from both President Trump’s endorsement and more than $10 million from the Republican establishment. The victory by Moore, a political outsider, is also a major loss for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who did his best to keep Moore out of Washington. But the far-right former judge framed his campaign as a rebuke of McConnell, ultimately convincing more Alabama Republicans that the party needs to move away from his leadership. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in a December general election. Despite their feuds in the past, Trump and McConnell came together in their support for Strange, who was chosen to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat by Alabama’s governor earlier this year. Instead, the Republican leaders saw another defeat in...

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On This Day, Sept. 27, 1973 – VP Spiro T. Agnew Vows Not to Resign

1973 – U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew said he would not resign after he pled “no contest” to a charge of tax evasion. He did resign on October 10th. In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. He was charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and later Vice President. On October 10 that same year, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon later replaced Agnew by appointing House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to the office of Vice President. Agnew was the second Vice President in United States history to resign, the...

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GOP Concedes Their Latest Trumpcare Bill is Dead

by Addy Baird  & Amanda Michelle Gomez – Republicans don’t have enough votes. A hastily written health bill — with deep cuts to Medicaid and major hits to patient regulatory protections — ran into the same political problems as bills before it, and failed to garner enough support in the Senate. Republicans announced Tuesday the party does not have the votes to pass their latest health care bill, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, and will forgo a vote this week. Instead they will move on to tax reform, reaching for at least one legislative win before midterm elections. Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not dead, but a “matter of when,” Republicans promised. “We are going to fulfill our promise,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a press conference Tuesday. “Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson will be the alternative to Obamacare.” At the end of the press conference, a reporter asked...

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Trump’s Refusal to Send Hospital Ship Tips His Plan to Abandon Puerto Rico (UPDATED)

by DocDawg – A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. – U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Eight hundred and ninety-four feet long, 106 feet wide, and weighing 69,360 tons, USNS Comfort is a complete ocean-going medical facility with 1,000 patient beds including 80 for intensive care patients. Along with 12 operating rooms she boasts a complete dental clinic, optometry lab and pharmacy, X-ray machines, CT scanners, oxygen and fresh water production plants, capacity to store 5,000 units of blood, laundry operations, and a morgue. She’s the size of a 20th century supertanker. Indeed, she was a supertanker — the SS Rose City — until purchased by the Navy in 1987 and converted to serve her current lifesaving mission. She and her sister ship in the Pacific, USNS Mercy, are among the rare few assets of the obscenely wealth US military devoted exclusively to saving, rather than taking, lives. But today,...

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Republicans’ New Immigration Bill is so Ridiculous That it Could Take 15 Years to Become a Citizen

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – “These are kids who literally do not have a home anywhere.” Three Republican senators have introduced an immigration bill that grants a 15-year pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. It also prevents those immigrants from sponsoring their family members for legalization. Under the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation (or SUCCEED) Act — coauthored by Republican Sens. James Lankford (OK), Thom Tillis (NC), and Orrin Hatch (UT) — undocumented immigrants would be allowed to get on an eventual pathway to citizenship if they fulfill several years of criteria. For its most basic qualification, applicants must have arrived in the country before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012. “These are kids who literally do not have a home anywhere,” Lankford said during the press conference announcing the bill on Monday. That June...

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Krugman on Republicans: They were ‘lying about health care all along’ now ‘unable to govern’

by Walter Einenkel – It is a clearly untenable position that the Republican Party finds itself in with the recent release of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill. The bill is such a transparent cynical-catastrophe. This is something that is self-evident to most every American, but alas, there’s at least 34 percent of the population that thinks Donald Trump isn’t a complete failure of a human being. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote a scathing op-ed in Monday’s New York Times that explains how “Trapped by Their Own Lies,” the Republican Party is at this moment in history. He begins by wondering aloud how, after Sen. John McCain’s famous “no,” the Republican Party finds itself once again trying to push through a clearly craven, universally derided healthcare bill, that cannot be defended with any level of merit. Krugman explains that when your political party makes its entire platform about saying things with zero actionable policy ideas—to achieve political...

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Why Trump’s Trash-talking of Professional Athletes Backfired

by Sam Fulwood III – The president is out of his league. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump took a sharp, diversionary turn away from affairs of state — you know, issues such as nuclear weapons in North Korea, a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, or whipping GOP lawmakers to repeal health care laws — to bully another group with trash talk: professional athletes. It didn’t go well. Whatever motivated Trump to believe he could win a war of words with NFL and NBA players was sheer folly. Sure, Trump is adept at posting insulting and inflammatory tweets in the middle of the night. And, yes, he’s found a ride-or-die core of supporters who believe and cheer him. In fact, he tends to make incendiary comments when other news portrays him in less than flattering light. Typically, the subjects of Trump’s Twitter outbursts are staffers or sycophants who have little recourse other than silent suffering....

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Indiana Judge Blocks Anti-choice Law in Indiana, Marking a Win for Planned Parenthood

by Addy Baird – Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law. A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against an Indiana law that would have prohibited abortions sought specifically because the fetus had been potentially diagnosed with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The law also would have required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated and that abortion providers notify patients that seeking an abortion because the fetus may be disabled was against the law in the state. The restrictions were signed into law in March 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana, but Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, sued and obtained a preliminary injunction. Last year, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt suspended the law, saying it was likely unconstitutional and would violate a woman’s right to choose an abortion before the...

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Facebook’s Russian Ads May Just be the Tip of the Iceberg

by Luke Barnes – The three thousand ads seem like a suspiciously small number. After previously saying it was “crazy” to suggest Facebook helped Donald Trump become president, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that the social media giant will hand over 3,000 Russia-linked ads to Congress to help with their investigation into the Kremlin’s election interference. “I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity,” he said in a public Facebook post. “While the amount of problematic content we’ve found so far remains relatively small, any attempted interference is a serious issue.” Zuckerberg added that Facebook would continue to investigate the actions of other additional groups that may have tried to influence the election, including those in other former Soviet states. But the 470 fake accounts, and the 3,000 ads purchased for $100,000 seem like strangely small numbers for a social media site that has two billion monthly users and where three million businesses actively...

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Trump’s Threats Seen As Declaration of War by North Korea

by Julia Conley – As Americans hope for diplomatic talks, Trump’s rhetoric leads North Korea to warn it’s prepared to defend itself. President Donald Trump’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric on Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program has been perceived as a declaration of war by North Korea’s foreign minister, who said Monday that the country is prepared to defend itself if Trump follows through with what appeared to be threats of a regime change via his Twitter account over the weekend. “The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” said Ri Yong-ho on Monday. After Ri spoke at the United Nations on Saturday, Trump tweeted his latest threat regarding North Korea: Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer! 11:08 PM – Sep 23, 2017 The tweet...

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3.5 Million Americans Face Disease & Death in Puerto Rico. What the Hell is Trump Doing?

by Denise Oliver Velez – People with no drinking water. People with no food. People with no medicine. No dialysis. No insulin. No homes. Water full of feces. No fuel for generators. The mayor of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz describes the horror: Where the hell is the army, the navy, the marines?  Why is there no massive airlift in and out?  insightus @InsightusOrg As 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico face a public health crisis, hospital ship USNS Comfort remains moored in Norfolk VA home port. 9:44 AM – Sep 24, 2017 WTF is the President of the United States and the Republican controlled Congress doing? Thank you Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton  ✔@HillaryClinton President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens. https://twitter.com/samynemir/status/911401368983924736 … 12:04 PM – Sep 24, 2017 Thank you Governor Cuomo: Andrew Cuomo   ✔@NYGovCuomo Puerto Rico needs...

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Entire Healthcare System to GOP: “You think we’re f*cking with you? We are not f*cking with you.”

by Brainwrap – it’s pretty rare for the entire medical, hospital and insurance industry to agree on just about anything…and yet here we are (emphasis in the original): The following statement was jointly released on September 23, 2017 by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association regarding the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation. We represent the nation’s doctors, hospitals and health plans. Collectively, our organizations include hundreds of thousands of individual physicians, thousands of hospitals, and hundreds of health plans that serve tens of millions of American patients, consumers and employers every day across the United States. While we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care, we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable healthcare market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill does not move us closer to that goal....

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On This Day, Sept. 26, 1960 – Nixon and Kennedy Square Off on TV

1960 – The first televised debate between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy took place in Chicago, IL. The Kennedy-Nixon debates not only had a major impact on the election’s outcome, but ushered in a new era in which crafting a public image and taking advantage of media exposure became essential ingredients of a successful political campaign. They also heralded the central role television has continued to play in the democratic process. Nixon took a major hit in August when a reporter asked President Dwight D. Eisenhower to name some of his vice president’s contributions. Exhausted and irritated after a long press conference, Eisenhower replied, “If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don’t remember.” (While the remark was intended as a self-deprecating reference to the president’s own mental fatigue, the Democrats promptly used it in a television commercial that ended with...

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Desperate GOP Resorts to ‘Blatant Bribery’ in Bid to Save Floundering Trumpcare Bill

by Jake Johnson – Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy added an abundance of sweeteners to their bill in an attempt to win over skeptical colleagues. With the latest version of Trumpcare floundering after several Republicans announced that they cannot support the legislation in its current form, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are set to release on Monday yet another draft of their Obamacare repeal plan that includes extra funding for the home states of senators who have expressed deep concerns about the bill—a move Buzzfeed reporter Paul McLeod quickly characterized as “shockingly blatant bribery.” “There’s really no way around it,” McLeod added. “This is almost comically targeted to sweeten the deal for the senators voting no. What a way to go out.” According to the Washington Post, a summary of the draft that was circulating on Capitol Hill late Sunday indicated that “Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than...

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If You Haven’t Seen Dan Rather on Trump and the NFL Protests Yet, You Really Should

by xaxnar – It’s going viral, the Facebook post Dan Rather put up about Trump and the protests being carried out in the NFL and elsewhere. It’s one of the most damning dissections of what Trump is doing that I’ve seen. Here’s the post in its entirety: It’s football Sunday, and I have a pit in my stomach, and a sickening sense of deja vu. Who knows what the day will bring? I do know the source of my disquiet. It is the stench of bigotry as a demagogue stirs the potent cauldron of racial division. I want to say, this is so unnecessary. We have so many other things we should be worrying about. But of course now this is real, and it must be called out. This is an age when no one can be neutral. To remain silent in the face of race-baiting is to be complicit. And I have...

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The Return of Criminal Justice Reform

by C.J. Ciaramella – Congress failed to pass a bill reforming mandatory minimums last year; now two senators want to try again. Two senators announced on Wednesday that they will reintroduce a bipartisan bill to overhaul federal sentencing guidelines. The legislation failed to pass Congress last year, much to the disappointment of criminal justice reform groups. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, originally introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) and Dick Durbin (D-Il.) in 2015, would reduce the mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for repeat drug offenders without serious violent felonies and would broaden the “safety valve” exception to federal mandatory minimum sentences. It would also add new mandatory minimum sentences for interstate domestic abuse and for providing support for terrorists, while strengthening penalties for certain other crimes. Grassley and Durbin say they will reintroduce the bill this year, although they did not say when. “While the political landscape in Washington has changed, the same...

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‘Racist, Fascist, White Supremacist’: Former NFL Star Chris Kluwe Scorches Trump Over His Attacks on Athletes

by Shannon Barber – Donald Trump is facing seriously fierce blowback for his attacks on black athletes who choose to protest racism and police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem before games. Everyone from owners to players to players to former players are giving Trump a big middle finger during  games on Sunday, and former NFL star Chris Kluwe didn’t stay out of the fray. During an interview with CNN host Fredricka Whitfield, Kluwe, who believes he was blacklisted in the league for speaking out for LGBTQ rights, did not hold back. First, Whitfield asked: “This display of kneeling at the national anthem on a football field started a year ago with 49er’s Kaepernick and now has evolved into something else or perhaps has blossomed into the same thing but in a bigger way. Chris, what statement do you see NFL teams, owners, coaches making when they kneel, touch, lock arms...

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Puerto Rico is a Disaster, Moving Toward Catastrophe, That Demands a Massive, Emergency Response

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump has not mentioned Puerto Rico since the day after Hurricane Maria brutally scourged the US territory. After making a trip to Alabama to call any athlete who takes part in peaceful protest a “son of a bitch” who should be fired, Trump doubled, tripled … pentadekaled down on that point by tweeting 15 times about his NFL hate. He’s also slipped in half a dozen mentions of the health care bill and even managed to talk about how nice the White House looks. But three and a half million Americans, many of whom are without shelter, struggling to find clean water and food, who are living about without power, lacking communications with relatives, and still searching for loved ones they haven’t seen since before the storm—that doesn’t merit a word. Trump isn’t alone in his disdain and neglect. The grand total of time all five Sunday morning talk shows devoted...

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German Election: Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term (VIDEO)

Chancellor’s bloc secures most votes, as a far-right party enters parliament for first time in decades. “There is very leftish wing in the Greens party, and there is a very conservative, even close to nationalism, wing in the FDP,” he added. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a fourth term in office after a general election that has surged an overtly nationalist party to enter parliament for the first time in decades. Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union party secured 33 percent of the vote on Sunday, down about nine percent compared to the last election in 2013. Their main rival and current coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats led by Martin Schulz, got around 21 percent of the vote – their worst result in post-war Germany. But the biggest change to Germany’s political scene was the emergence of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as the country’s third biggest political...

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The Americans with Disabilities Act Is Under Threat

by Kristin Miller – There’s no entity in charge of ensuring that businesses comply with the ADA. The optics were bad enough when disabled Americans were being dragged out of capital buildings as they protested potential loss of benefits in the first two iterations of Republican health care bills. For the protestors it was all about Medicaid. The Senate bill did away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion which would drop millions of low-income Americans from the rolls. And the bill completely changed the way Medicaid is financed — getting rid of open-ended funding and moving toward a “per-capita” system. The new Graham-Cassidy bill under consideration needs to be voted on within the next week to get an easy pass with just 51 votes. Like its predecessors, it also halts Medicaid expansion and turns Medicaid dollars over to the states to determine spending. But disability advocates have even more reason to be distressed by the...

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What Will Happen When Paul Manafort, the First Likely Russia Domino, Finally Falls?

by Frank Vyan Walton – There is a certain portion of the population that continues to believe the investigation of links between the Trump campaign and Russia is simply a partisan witch hunt. They believe that largely because that’s exactly what they’ve been told by Fox News, Breitbart, Trump himself, and his operatives including attorney Michael Cohen, who said as much in his statement to the Senate Intelligence committee this week. I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack Democratic Party computers; and I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to create fake news stories to assist the Trump campaign or to damage the Clinton campaign. Given my own proximity to the President of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never...

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On This Day, Sept. 25, 1957 – The Little Rock Nine Enter School

1957 – 300 U.S. Army troops stood guard as nine black students were escorted to class at Central High School in Little Rock, AR. The Little Rock Nine were a group of African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas and unruly white mobs. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. The nicknamed “Little Rock Nine” consisted of Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942),...

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Watch the Stunning Contrast Between How Trump and Obama Talk About Colin Kaepernick

by Ryan Koronowski – Sometimes a year is a lifetime. The gaping chasm between the approach of the 44th and 45th presidents is hard to miss. But sometimes it’s easy to forget how different things were just a year ago. If you need a refresher, just listen to the two presidents discuss Colin Kaepernick. Donald Trump built his campaign by exploiting racial grievances and has continued this approach as president. At a rally in Alabama Friday night, Trump veered into an extended rant on the NFL, criticizing Colin Kaepernick and other players, nearly all African-American, who have taken a knee during the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!,’” Trump said. He pantomimed the owners firing the players, pretending he was actually pointing his finger and...

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