Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices | Democracy Now!

Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices | Democracy Now!

In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. “They were terrified of the antiwar voice,” Donahue says. [includes rush transcript]

via Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices | Democracy Now!

America’s True History of Religious Tolerance | History | Smithsonian

America’s True History of Religious Tolerance | History | Smithsonian

The much-ballyhooed arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England in the early 1600s was indeed a response to persecution that these religious dissenters had experienced in England. But the Puritan fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did not countenance tolerance of opposing religious views. Their “city upon a hill” was a theocracy that brooked no dissent, religious or political.

Four Quakers were hanged in Boston between 1659 and 1661 for persistently returning to the city to stand up for their beliefs.

Throughout the colonial era, Anglo-American antipathy toward Catholics—especially French and Spanish Catholics—was pronounced and often reflected in the sermons of such famous clerics as Cotton Mather and in statutes that discriminated against Catholics in matters of property and voting. Anti-Catholic feelings even contributed to the revolutionary mood in America after King George III extended an olive branch to French Catholics in Canada with the Quebec Act of 1774, which recognized their religion.

Future President James Madison stepped into the breach. In a carefully argued essay titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” the soon-to-be father of the Constitution eloquently laid out reasons why the state had no business supporting Christian instruction. Signed by some 2,000 Virginians, Madison’s argument became a fundamental piece of American political philosophy, a ringing endorsement of the secular state that “should be as familiar to students of American history as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” as Susan Jacoby has written in Freethinkers, her excellent history of American secularism.

Madison also made a point that any believer of any religion should understand: that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion. “Who does not see,” he wrote, “that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Madison was writing from his memory of Baptist ministers being arrested in his native Virginia.

via America’s True History of Religious Tolerance | History | Smithsonian

Fox News’ Smear Campaign Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Working

Fox News’ Smear Campaign Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Working

Fox News is, of course, far from alone here. Ocasio-Cortez has now supplanted Nancy Pelosi as the go-to bogeyman and punching bag for the conservative press, no matter how absurd the depths they must sink to to make it so. (One standout example: a long, rambling March 2 New York Post hit piece that bashed Ocasio-Cortez for hypocrisy because she a) rides in cars and planes, and b) failed to compost a sweet potato peel and threw away two plastic garbage bags in an Instagram cooking video.)

But there is a payoff—and the Gallup poll is the manifestation of Fox News’ successful propaganda campaign. For, in this latest poll, only 22 percent of Republicans now had no opinion or hadn’t heard of Ocasio-Cortez, a mark notably lower than the 32 percent of independents and 29 percent of those from her own party who said the same. Last fall, Gallup (10/5/18) found 43 percent of Republicans had no opinion.

Tellingly, the number of Republicans who rated her unfavorably increased by 21 percentage points—from 52 percent to 73 percent—which happens to be the exact same percentage of Republicans who formed an opinion of her between the fall and winter. That is some powerful convergence.

via Truth Dig Fox News’ Smear Campaign Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Working

Billionaires May Pose the Single Greatest Threat to American Democracy

Billionaires May Pose the Single Greatest Threat to American Democracy

The USW membership eligibility statement is an assertion of inclusion. All working men and women qualify. They can all join. They can all attend local union meetings at which members call each other “brother” and “sister.” This practice creates artificial, but crucial, bonds between them. This solidarity gives the group strength when facing off against massive multinational corporations and demanding decent pay and dignified working conditions.

To erode that solidarity, some billionaire hedge fund owners and multinational CEOs work to divide workers. These wealthy .01 percenters separate people by cultivating hate. Some are the same billionaire sugar daddies of alt-right hate sites like Breitbart and more conventional hate media outlets like Fox News. Investigative journalist Jane Mayer wrote a book about their efforts titled Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

This hate-mongering sets workaday people against each other. That weakens them politically. And it contributes to false-fear–provoked violence.

Look, the labor movement is far from perfect. A couple of decades ago, African-American USW members had to sue steel corporations and the union to secure equal opportunity. Clearly, we haven’t always lived up to our principles. But the goal of brotherhood and sisterhood among all workers is a noble one that must be strived for. We all sweat together to support ourselves and our families. We all come to each other’s aid when a fellow worker’s home burns down or child falls ill. We stand shoulder to shoulder to demand a just portion of the profits created by our labor.

via Truth Dig Billionaires May Pose the Single Greatest Threat to American Democracy

Texans Receive First Notices of Land Condemnation for Trump’s Border Wall

Texans Receive First Notices of Land Condemnation for Trump’s Border Wall

The week before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Yvette Salinas received a letter she had been dreading for years: legal notice that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to build a border wall on her family’s land in Los Ebanos. The 21-page document, entitled a “Declaration of Taking,” is addressed to her ailing mother, Maria Flores, who owns the property with her siblings. The letter offers Flores $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If she chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain. “It’s scary when you read it,” Salinas says. “You feel like you have to sign.”

via Texas Observer Texans Receive First Notices of Land Condemnation for Trump’s Border Wall

Housing Exploitation Is Rife in Poor Neighborhoods – CityLab

Housing Exploitation Is Rife in Poor Neighborhoods – CityLab

It is a mistake, Desmond and Wilmers argue, to see slums as a byproduct of the modern city, rundown areas that occur by accident. Instead, they contend that the slum has long been a “prime moneymaker” for those who profit from land scarcity, racial segregation, and deferred maintenance. “If labor exploitation is understood to be getting paid less than the market value of what one produces,” they write, “we can extend this definition to the housing market by operationalizing exploitation as being overcharged relative to the market value of what one purchases, paying more for less.”

They define housing exploitation as the amount of rent paid relative to the market value of that housing, and measure this exploitation as the ratio of annual rents from rental housing units over their combined property value. The level of exploitation rises as the ratio of rent to property value grows. (The study methodology accounts for the costs of upkeep and maintenance.) Desmond and Wilmers make use of two key sources of data: a large-scale national survey of rental properties, and a detailed set of surveys of renters and rental properties in Milwaukee.

Ultimately, they find consistent evidence that the poor, and especially the minority poor, experience the highest rates of housing exploitation. In their most basic formulations, they find that renters in high-poverty neighborhoods experience levels of exploitation that are more than double those of renters in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty. Neighborhoods with a poverty rate of less than 15 percent have an exploitation rate of 10 percent—meaning that rents cover 10 percent of the actual cost of that housing. (In other words, the actual cost of that rental housing can be paid off in 10 years.) But in high-poverty neighborhoods, those where 50 to 60 percent of residents live in poverty, the exploitation rate is 25 percent, meaning that 25 percent of the value of the property is paid back in a single year of rent.

via Housing Exploitation Is Rife in Poor Neighborhoods – CityLab

More Children Were Shot Dead in 2017 Than On-Duty Police Officers and Active Duty Military, Study Says

More Children Were Shot Dead in 2017 Than On-Duty Police Officers and Active Duty Military, Study Says

The number of children killed by guns has risen at an alarming rate and to epidemic proportions in the past two decades, according to researchers.

More children were shot dead in 2017 than on-duty police officers and active duty military, a study published in The American Journal of Medicine showed.

The team at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine assessed the most recent data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and found that 38,940 children aged between 5 to 18 years old died in circumstances involving a firearm between 1999 and 2017.

Some 6,464 deaths involved children between 5 to 14 years of age, amounting to 340 deaths annually on average. A further 32,478 children between 15 to 18 years old died, or 2,050 per year on average between 1999 and 2017.

via Newsweek More Children Were Shot Dead in 2017 Than On-Duty Police Officers and Active Duty Military, Study Says

Petitions calling for New Zealand prime minister to win Nobel Peace Prize gain over 20,000 signatures | TheHill

Petitions calling for New Zealand prime minister to win Nobel Peace Prize gain over 20,000 signatures | TheHill

More than 20,000 people have signed petitions calling for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her response to a pair of mosque shootings that killed 50 people.

A change.org petition to the United Nations had gained more than 20,000 signatures as of Sunday morning. A French petition calling for the prime minister to win the prestigious annual award had nearly 3,000 signatures.

“If a Nobel Prize for Peace could be given to a spontaneous statement for wisdom and courage, rather to a person, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deserves it,” a message on the change.org petition reads.

via Petitions calling for New Zealand prime minister to win Nobel Peace Prize gain over 20,000 signatures | TheHill

All Republicans Vote No On Bill That Would Have Blocked Foreign Funding In 2020 – The Intellectualist

All Republicans Vote No On Bill That Would Have Blocked Foreign Funding In 2020 – The Intellectualist

Democrats included provisions to thwart foreign donors from influencing U.S. elections in their anti-corruption bill.

The sweeping anti-corruption, democracy reform bill passed by Democrats in the House last week included measures to prevent foreign money from influencing future elections, but every single House Republican voted against the bill.

via All Republicans Vote No On Bill That Would Have Blocked Foreign Funding In 2020 – The Intellectualist

Russia Gives US Red Line on Venezuela

Russia Gives US Red Line on Venezuela

At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

via Strategic Culture Russia Gives US Red Line on Venezuela

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