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The Real Threat to Law and OrderTrump knows he has to distract...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:48am in

The Real Threat to Law and Order

Trump knows he has to distract the nation from the pandemic he has failed to control – leaving more than 188,000 Americans dead as of September 8, tens of millions jobless, and at least 30 million reportedly hungry.

So he’s mounting a tried-and-true law and order campaign.

At the Republican National Convention, Trump said: “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”

He’s right. But the anarchists, agitators, and criminals threatening Americans are not those protesting police violence. They are the highly armed and racist right-wing vigilantes, along with the conspiracy theorists and shady criminals Trump has repeatedly encouraged and surrounded himself with.

Take for example, the white gun-toting 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with killing two people and wounding a third during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin – and who, perhaps not coincidentally, occupied a front-row seat at a Trump rally in Des Moines last January. Despite the fact Rittenhouse has been charged with murder, Trump defends him, claiming he was acting in self-defense, that “they very violently attacked him.”

Or consider the pro-Trump caravan that drove into Portland, Oregon, including the neo-fascist Proud Boys – shooting Black Lives Matter protesters with pepper spray and paintballs and driving into crowds. Someone wearing the hat of a far-right group called Patriot Prayer was shot dead.

Trump’s reaction? Rather than condemn the violence, he tweeted “GREAT PATRIOTS!” in support of the pro-Trump agitators, and “big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected. The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer.” He also retweeted a claim that “this coup attempt is led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President.”  

At the Republican convention, Mike Pence lamented the death of federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, who he said was “killed during the riots in Oakland, California” earlier this year, implying Underwood was killed by protesters. In fact, Underwood was killed by an adherent of the “boogaloo boys,” an online extremist movement that’s trying to ignite a race war. Such groups have found encouragement in a president who sees “very fine people” supporting white supremacy.

The threat to law and order also comes from conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the recently-nominated Republican candidate for Georgia’s 14th congressional district and QAnon supporter, whose adherents believe Trump is battling a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex. Trump has praised Greene as a “future Republican star,” and claimed that QAnon followers “love our country.”

And from people like Mary Ann Mendoza, a member of Trump’s campaign advisory board, who was scheduled to speak at the Republican convention until she retweeted an antisemitic rant.

Clearly the threat comes from hotheaded police officers who fire bullets into the backs of Black people, or kneel on their necks so they can’t breathe. But Trump and Pence don’t bother mentioning Jacob Blake, or George Floyd or Breonna Taylor.

And it comes from Trump’s own lackeys who have brazenly broken laws to help him attain and keep power. Since Trump promised to hire only “the best people,” fourteen Trump aides, donors and advisers have been indicted or imprisoned.

You want the real threat to American law and order? It’s found in these and other Trump enablers, lackeys, and bottom-dwellers. They are the inevitable exCRESense of Trump’s above-the-law, race-baiting, me-first presidency. It’s from the likes of them that the rest of America is in true need of protection. 

Economic Update: The deepening crisis of US labor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/09/2020 - 11:22pm in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

Where does racism come from? - video

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 7:40am in

As part of a series on Marxism in the Modern World, Shabbir Lakha looks at the roots of racism and what that means for the struggle against it

How Big Money Corrupts Our Politics (And How to Fix It)Corporate...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 2:13am in

How Big Money Corrupts Our Politics (And How to Fix It)

Corporate money is dominating our democracy.

It’s difficult to do anything – increase the minimum wage, reverse climate change, get Medicare for All, end police killings, fight systemic racism, shrink our bloated military – when big money controls our politics and dictates what policies are and aren’t enacted.

The pandemic has made that clearer than ever. The CARES Act, passed in late March as our pandemic response began, quietly provided huge benefits to wealthy Americans and big corporations. One provision doled out $135 billion in tax relief to people making at least half a million dollars, the richest 1% of American taxpayers. 

This $135 billion is three times more than the measly $42 billion allocated in the CARES Act for safety-net programs like food and housing aid. It’s just shy of the $150 billion going to struggling state governments, and vastly more than the $100 billion being spent on overwhelmed hospitals and other crucial public health services.

As Americans are still suffering massive unemployment and the ravages of the pandemic, lobbyists are crawling all over Capitol Hill and the White House is seeking continued subsidies for the rich and for corporations — while demanding an end to supplemental assistance for average working people, the poor, and the unemployed.

It’s corruption in action, friends. And it’s undermining our democracy at every turn.

Ask yourself how, during a global pandemic, the total net worth of U.S. billionaires has climbed from $2.9 trillion to $3.5 trillion, when more than 45.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

Is it their skill? Their luck? Their insight? No. It’s their monopolies, enabled by their stranglehold on American democracy… monopolies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, which have grown even larger during the pandemic.

It’s also their access to insider information so they can do well in the stock market, like Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Senator Kelly Loeffler, whose husband happens to be chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Both were fully briefed on the likely effects of the coronavirus last February and promptly unloaded their shares of stock in companies that would be hit hardest.

And it’s the tax cuts and subsidies they’ve squeezed out of government.

You are paying for all of this — not just as taxpayers but as consumers.

When you follow the money, you can see clearly how every aspect of American life has been corrupted.

Take prescription drugs. We spend tens of billions of dollars on prescriptions every year, far more per person than citizens in any other developed country. Now that millions of Americans are unemployed and without insurance, they need affordable prescription drugs more than ever.

Yet even the prices of drugs needed by coronavirus patients are skyrocketing.
Big Pharma giant Gilead is charging a whopping $3,120 for its COVID drug, Remdesivir, even though the drug was developed with a $70,000,000 grant from the federal government paid for by American taxpayers.

Once again, Big Pharma is set to profit on the people’s dime. And they get away with it because our lawmakers depend on their campaign donations to remain in power.

As you watch this, Mitch McConnell is actively blocking a bill drafted by Senate Republicans to reduce drug prices — after taking more than $280,000 from pharmaceutical companies so far this election season.

Big Pharma is just one example. This vicious cycle is found in virtually every sector, and it’s why we continue to be met with politicians who don’t have our best interests at heart.

So how do we get big money out of our democracy?

A good starting point can be found in the sweeping reform package known as H.R. 1 — the For the People Act. The bill closes loopholes that favor big corporations and the wealthy, makes it easier for all of us to vote, and strengthens the power of small donors through public financing of elections — a system which matches $6 of public funds for every $1 of small donations.

The For the People Act would also bar congresspeople from serving on corporate boards, require presidents to publicly disclose their tax returns, and make executive appointees recuse themselves in cases where there is a conflict of interest.

These are just a few examples of tangible solutions that already exist to rein in unprecedented corruption and stop America’s slide toward oligarchy — but there’s much more we can and should do. 

The important thing to remember is that the big money takeover of our democracy prevents us from advancing all of the policies we need to overhaul our racist, oppressive system and create a society that works for the many, not the few.

Capitalism under the pandemic, Brexit, US-China, the Eurozone & Austerity: Oxford Political Review interview

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/09/2020 - 5:57pm in

OPR Editor-in-Chief Brian Wong and Managing Editor Nicholas Leah speak with Professor Yanis Varoufakis – a former Minister of Finance in the Greek Government, a leading economist and philosopher, Member of Parliament in Greece, and the author of several high-acclaimed books. They discuss COVID-19, Brexit, the Eurozone, Austerity, Greek/European politics and Professor Varoufakis’s new book. The interview was originally live streamed on the OPR’s Facebook page. About OPR: The Oxford Political Review is an Oxford-based publication with a global reach. OPR publishes a quarterly journal and regular articles on current affairs, political theory, and international relations, as well as conducting interviews and podcasts with prominent academics and public figures around the world.

Economic Update: The Declining Empire With Chris Hedges

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 31/08/2020 - 11:23pm in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

Trump’s 40 Biggest Broken PromisesTrump voters. Nearly 4 years...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 7:17am in

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Trump’s 40 Biggest Broken Promises

Trump voters. Nearly 4 years in, here’s an updated list of Trump’s 40 biggest broken promises.

1. He said coronavirus would “go away without a vaccine.”

You bought it. But it didn’t. While other countries got the pandemic under control and avoided large numbers of fatalities, the virus has killed more than 130,000 Americans*, and that number is still climbing.

2. He said he won’t have time to play golf if elected president.

But he has made more than 250 visits to his golf clubs since he took office – a record for any president – including more trips during the pandemic than meetings with Dr. Fauci. The total financial cost to America? More than $136 million.

3. He said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something “beautiful.”

It didn’t happen. Instead, 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance since he took office. He has asked the Supreme Court to strike down the law in the middle of a global pandemic with no plan to replace it.

4. He said he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more.

He did the opposite. By 2027, the richest 1 percent will have received 83 percent of the Trump tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans will pay more in taxes.

5. He said corporations would use their tax cuts to invest in American workers.

They didn’t. Corporations spent more of their tax savings buying back shares of their own stock than increasing workers wages.

6. He said he would boost economic growth by 4 percent a year.

Nope. The economy stalled, and unemployment has soared to the highest levels since the Great Depression. Just over half of working-age Americans are employed – the worst ratio in 70 years.  

7. He said he wouldn’t “cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”

His latest budget includes billions in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

8. He promised to be “the voice” of American workers.

He hasn’t. His administration has stripped workers of their rights, repealed overtime protections, rolled back workplace safety rules, and turned a blind eye to employers who steal their workers’ wages.

9. He promised that the average American family would see a $4,000 pay raise because of his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

But nothing trickled down. Wages for most Americans have barely kept up with inflation.    

10. He promised that anyone who wants a test for Covid will get one.

But countless Americans still can’t get a test.

11. He said hydroxychloroquine protects against coronavirus.

No way. The FDA revoked its emergency authorization due to the drug’s potentially lethal side effects.

12. He promised to eliminate the federal deficit.

He has increased the federal deficit by more than 60 percent.

13. He said he would hire “only the best people.”

He has fired a record number of his own cabinet and White House picks, and then called them “whackos,” “dumb as a rock,“ and  "not mentally qualified.”  6 of them have been charged with crimes.

14. He promised to bring down the price of prescription drugs and said drug companies are “getting away with murder.”

They still are. Drug prices have soared, and a company that got federal funds to develop a drug to treat coronavirus is charging $3,000 a pop.=

15. He promised to revive the struggling coal industry and bring back lost coal mining jobs.

The coal industry has continued to lose jobs as clean energy becomes cheaper. 

16. He promised to help American workers during the pandemic.

But 80% of the tax benefits in the coronavirus stimulus package have gone to millionaires and billionaires. And at least 21 million Americans have lost extra unemployment benefits, with no new stimulus check to fall back on.

17. He said he’d drain the swamp.

Instead, he’s brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, and he’s filled departments and agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are crafting new policies for the same industries they used to work for.

18. He promised to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

His Justice Department is trying to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, including protections for people with preexisting conditions.

19. He said Mexico would pay for his border wall.

The wall is estimated to cost American taxpayers an estimated $11 billion.

20. He promised to bring peace to the Middle East.

Instead, tensions have increased and his so-called “peace plan” was dead on arrival.

21. He promised to lock up Hillary Clinton for using a private email server.

He didn’t. Funny enough, Trump uses his personal cell-phone for official business, and several members of his own administration, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka, have used private email in the White House.

22. He promised to use his business experience to whip the federal government into shape.

He hasn’t. His White House is in permanent chaos. He caused the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history when he didn’t get funding for his wall.

23. He promised to end DACA.

The Supreme Court ruled that his plan to deport 700,000 young immigrants was unconstitutional, and DACA still stands.  

24. He promised “six weeks of paid maternity leave to any mother with a newborn child whose employer does not provide the benefit.”

He hasn’t delivered.

25. He promised to bring an end to Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear program.

Kim is expanding North Korea’s nuclear program.

26. He said he would distance himself from his businesses while in office.

He continues to make money from his properties and maintain his grip on his real estate empire.

27. He said he’d force companies to keep jobs in America, and that there would be consequences for companies that shipped jobs abroad.

Since he took office, companies like GE, Carrier, Ford, and Harley Davidson have continued to outsource thousands of jobs while still receiving massive tax breaks. And offshoring by federal contractors has increased.

28. He promised to end the opioid crisis.

Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident.

29. He said he’d release his tax returns.

It’s been nearly 4 years. He hasn’t released his tax returns.

30. He promised to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and renegotiate a better deal.

Negotiations have gone nowhere, and he brought us to the brink of war.

31. He promised to enact term limits for all members of Congress.

He has not even tried to enact term limits.

32. He promised that China would pay for tariffs on imported goods.

His trade war has cost U.S. consumers $34 billion a year, eliminated 300,000 American jobs, and cost American taxpayers $22 billion in subsidies for farmers hurt by the tariffs.

33. He promised to “push colleges to cut the skyrocketing cost of tuition.”

Instead, he’s made it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students, and tuition is still rising.

34. He promised to protect American steel jobs.

The steel industry continues to lose jobs.

35. He promised tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would spur economic growth and pay for themselves.

His tax cuts will add $2 trillion to the federal deficit.

36. After pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, he said he’d negotiate a better deal on the environment.

He hasn’t attempted to negotiate any deal.  

37. He promised that the many women who accused him of sexual misconduct “will be sued after the election is over.”

He hasn’t sued them, presumably because he doesn’t want the truth to come out.

38. He promised to bring back all troops from Afghanistan.

He now says: "We’ll always have somebody there.”

39. He pledged to put America first.

Instead, he’s deferred to dictators and authoritarians at America’s expense, and ostracized our allies — who now laugh at us behind our back.

40. He promised to be the voice of the common people.

He’s made his rich friends richer, increased the political power of big corporations and the wealthy, and harmed working Americans.Don’t let the liar-in-chief break any more promises. Vote him out in November.

The Post Office Crisis to ComeIt’s no secret Donald Trump will...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 9:16am in

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The Post Office Crisis to Come

It’s no secret Donald Trump will do anything to hold on to power. His latest strategy is to sabotage the United States Postal Service, courtesy of his handpicked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

A Republican mega donor with no postal experience, DeJoy instituted sweeping measures that have caused massive mail delays across the country. As national outrage reached a fever pitch, DeJoy announced he would delay policy changes that slow down mail delivery, until after the election. 

But the USPS is still very much under attack.

DeJoy’s statement is nothing more than empty rhetoric. He didn’t even list which policies he would postpone. One of the few policies he did mention was overtime pay, which he said would be paid “as needed,” but guess who decides what’s needed? He does.

DeJoy also needs to repair the damage he’s already done. He told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he has “no intention” of replacing removed mailboxes and sorting machines, and instructed USPS employees to not reconnect or reinstall the sorting machines.

And nothing is forcing DeJoy to follow through even on his weak promises. If the past three and a half years have shown us anything, it’s that we can never count on Trump officials to follow through on their promises.

Trump openly admitted he was sabotaging the post office to stop people from voting. Now his political stooge postmaster general is basically saying “trust me.”

Sorry, Mr. DeJoy, we don’t trust you.

Congress must step in and do four things to protect the Postal Service and the integrity of mail-in voting before it’s too late:

1. Provide needed funding for the Postal Service in the next COVID-19 relief bill.

2. Force DeJoy to repair all the damage he’s already caused, returning the USPS back to full capacity.

3. Fully investigate DeJoy‘s conflicts of interest. DeJoy still has at least a $30 million stake in his former company XPO Logistics, which directly competes with the Postal Service — putting him in a position to profit directly from any loss of Postal Service customers.

4. Pass legislation specifically blocking the Postal Service from instituting any changes that would slow mail delivery in the lead-up to November.

Trump and DeJoy will stop at nothing to sabotage the USPS and steal the election — and there’s no telling the damage Trump will wreak if he’s able to swindle a second term. 

Call your members of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and demand your representatives take these urgent steps to save the USPS and protect the election. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Tips for Teaching Online Synchronous Courses

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 3:54am in

Many of us will be teaching online synchronous courses this term, and some of us have already begun. What have you learned about doing so that you think others might benefit from knowing? And what do you want to know about it?


[map of areas affected at one point during Zoom’s outage this morning]

This morning’s widespread Zoom outage (which Zoom says is over) provides one lesson: have a back-up plan in place should your virtual meeting space fail.

I’m using Zoom this term, but I’ll plan on scheduling back-up meetings for my classes on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, which my university supports, and making sure my students know to check it if Zoom isn’t working. (I prefer Zoom to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra because I can see all of my students at once using it.)

Thinking you might livestream your lecture over YouTube in the event your virtual classroom space goes offline? Make sure you set up that functionality now, as apparently it can take 24 hours for it to become available to you after you sign up for it. (Thanks, Julia Staffel, for that tip.)

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Those who want to be able to see their students and share documents should consider setting up a second monitor to do so more easily. Zoom provides some instructions on that here.
  • Those who like to write on the board during class but find it challenging or awkward to write on the touchscreens into which their cameras are embedded might be interested in a separate digital writing surface, such as an iskn Repaper or Slate.
  • Using slides? Did you know you can share your slides as a virtual background on Zoom, so it appears on screen as if projected onto a screen behind you? Details here. (Thanks, Geoff Pynn, for this tip.)

Please share helpful suggestions and inquiries in the comments. Thanks!

Related: Six Ways to Use Tech to Design Flexible, Student-Centered Philosophy CoursesHybrid & Online Teaching: Four Helpful Workshops“Teaching Philosophy Online” Sessions.

 

The post Tips for Teaching Online Synchronous Courses appeared first on Daily Nous.

Economic Update: Is China Capitalist, Socialist or What?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 3:27am in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

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