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This Is How They Broke Our Grandmothers…

 

From Church and State

Once, there were witches. No. There were never witches. Not in the way men said, anyway.

Once, there were many Indigenous polytheist and animist faith traditions in what is now Western Europe. Their customs supported varying levels of respect and authority for women. They had holy women, woman healers, and woman leaders.

Once, there was a church that was a kingdom, built on the body of the Roman Empire, which itself was built on the abduction and rape of the Sabine women. This church was a principality in truth, ruled by princes who had a lust for land and gold that was almost as insatiable as their burning hatred for women.

They converted heads of state and demanded tithes of members, while leaving most local governance alone. They created a very early, very ephemeral transnational empire that required little in the way of personnel or men under arms, and was mainly concerned with governing what’s often classed as the private sphere.

Eventually, the church’s client states had a problem keeping their peasants in line, because the church and the aristocracy wanted to steal all the land and privatize it for themselves through enclosure of the commons.

As Sylvia Federici explains in her book, Caliban and the Witch, secular authorities eventually hit on the popular strategy of giving everything that women had to men, including the women themselves. Civil servants didn’t forget to account for the economic value of women’s work; rather, it was explicitly written out of economic accounting — declared to have no value during the enclosure era. Male tradesmen coordinated boycotts of female competitors and of men who worked with them. Women who persisted in trying to engage in public trades were harassed, called “whores” or “witches,” or were even assaulted without repercussion.

Eventually, to be a woman in public alone was very nearly synonymous with being presumed a witch or prostituted woman. Violence against women was both normalized and sexualized. Women were increasingly driven into prostitution if no man supported them or if they were pushed outside of polite society through accusations of misbehavior, unsanctioned relationships, or sexual abuse. In the sex trade, upstanding men in their communities could torture these women at will, their victims the only party subject to legal sanction.

In order to do their part in solving the problem of the revolting peasantry and acquire their own share of the former commons, the church stepped up to bless this destruction of women’s rights and independence with the seal of divine approval. Their priests invented witches. That is, they invented women who worshipped and had sex with the Devil, who then gave them ludicrous powers — what feminist historian Max Dashu calls “diabolism.” The church further asserted that everything that wasn’t approved as Christian was diabolism.

Again, there weren’t any witches as the church defined them. The pornographic, diabolist image described in the Malleus Maleficarum didn’t refer to any existing persons. For the most part, it didn’t even refer to things that are possible, in spite of the fact that some Indigenous spiritual and women’s health practices were included as evidence of witchcraft.

“Witches” were just women. That’s what men meant, in their own words.

Florida Christians Want to Kill Women Who Have Abortions…

 
 

Women’s Rights in Light of the Bible

 

From Church and State

Abolish Abortion Florida, an evangelical Christian group, is calling for a ballot measure in 2018 that would treat all abortion providers and receivers as complicit in first degree murder, making them eligible for the death penalty. (Source: Friendly Atheist)

Abolish Abortion Florida – a Christian-run political group aimed at ending legal abortion in the United States – wants women who obtain abortions to be punished. That is, they believe any woman who obtains an abortion should receive the death penalty.

The push to kill women for exercising control and choice over their bodies follows similar (yet less deadly) calls earlier this year by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to punish women for abortion. His campaign’s newest advisor wants to ban abortion in all forms – even in cases of rape, incest, and when necessary to save the woman’s life.

Based on the GOP’s focus on abortion this election it should come as no surprise the next logical step for Christian conservatives is to literally kill the women who want to choose what happens to their bodies.

Basing their reasoning in the notion that abortion is actually murder and would hold accountable not just those who perform abortion but those who obtain them, Abolish Abortion Florida is pushing for a 2018 state ballot measure (that would immediately be struck down assuming the Supreme Court isn’t stacked with Scalia-style judges) making all of those involved criminals with the possibility of being put to death.

According to a press release from the anti-choice organization:

I Am What I Am…

 

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From The Humanist

In 1970 Ernie Chambers was elected to represent North Omaha’s 11th District in the Nebraska State Legislature as an independent, and was reelected each term for the next thirty-four years, becoming the longest serving state senator in Nebraska’s history and its first African-American senator. In his decades in office, Chambers (dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved sweat-shirt) has spearheaded the move to abolish corporal punishment in schools, to afford equal state pensions to women, and to switch to district-based voting to give nonwhite citizens a fair shot at election to public office.

A term-limit amendment passed in 2000 forced Chambers out of office for four years starting in 2008. He ran again in 2012 and won handily. This gave him the opportunity to reintroduce legislation to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska, which he’d done every year he was in office starting in 1976, when the Supreme Court ended a moratorium on the practice. On May 27, 2015, the Nebraska legislature voted 30-19 to override the veto of Gov. Pete Ricketts, thereby making Nebraska the first traditionally conservative state to eliminate the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.

On May 28, 2016, Chambers was honored with the American Humanist Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual conference in Chicago. The following is adapted from his acceptance speech.


I HAVE ALWAYS always been only what I am. I’ve never tried to pretend to be anything that I’m not. I don’t cheese up to people. I don’t accept things from people. When I run for office, I refuse all donations. I will not campaign. Some people want me to campaign, and when they point out that there is opposition, I say there has always been opposition. But what’s more important to me than anything else is my self-respect. If I’m not elected, it doesn’t diminish me. What I believe campaigning should consist of is how I behave when I’m in the middle of the battle. What do I say? What do I do? If what I say and do aren’t satisfactory, don’t vote for me. I don’t have any proprietary ownership of that office.

How Fish Oil Is Made…

 

foFrom Nourishing Traditions

Why We Need Fish LIVER Oil, Not Fish Oil

Twenty years ago, no one had heard about omega-3s—we may have thought they were a type of car or a variety of Greek column. Now omega-3 (omega-3 fatty acids, that is) is a household word, considered good little guys that we can’t get enough of. As usual, however, the truth is more nuanced.

Omega-3 fatty acids caught the public eye in a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions (published 1996), which argued that the American diet provided an excess of omega-6 fatty acids with very little omega-3, and that human beings need to obtain these two essential fatty acids in a balance of something like 2:1, 3:1 or perhaps even 4:1—but not the 20:1 that comes with a diet based on industrial seed oils. The total of omega-6 plus omega-3 should not exceed about 4 percent of total calories—that’s less than a tablespoon from all sources in a diet of two thousand calories. (The other fats should be a combination of saturated and monounsaturated, with no set limit on either.)

The proposed solution in Nourishing Traditions  was to avoid all industrial fats and oils (which tend to contain mostly omega-6 fatty acids, and damaged ones at that), eat liberal amounts of natural fats like butter, egg yolks and meat fats (which all contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, even if not pasture fed), add a small amount (emphasis on small) flax oil to salad dressings, and choose organic vegetables, wild fish and pasture-raised animal products over those that are conventionally raised—because the omega-3 levels tend to be higher in foods that are naturally raised.

But omega-3s found themselves in the headlights with the publication of The Omega Diet: The Lifesaving Nutritional Program Based on the Diet of the Island of Crete (published 1999, now out of print) by Artemis P Simopoulos and Jo Robinson.

Unlike Nourishing Traditions, The Omega Diet exudes political correctness, promoting a “Mediterranean Diet” low in red meat (because “saturated fats contribute to heart disease by raising cholesterol”) but rich in vegetables, legumes and sea food, with a grudging inclusion of cheese and eggs.

Trump in Exile…

 

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From Sam Harris

It is a cliché, of course, to claim that a presidential election is the most important in living memory. But we arrived at that point in the 2016 campaign many months ago, when both sides declared their opponent unqualified for office. Unfortunately, this time the cliché is true, and one side is actually right. A choice this stark proves that there is something wrong with our political system.

Hillary Clinton is a terribly flawed candidate for the presidency, and this has allowed millions of otherwise sane Americans to imagine that she is less fit for office than Donald Trump is. Much depends on a majority of the electorate seeing through this moral and political illusion in the weeks ahead.

To consider only one point of comparison: We have now witnessed Donald Trump bragging about his sexual predations in terms that not even Satan himself could spin to his advantage. He has admitted to repeatedly groping women, kissing them on the mouth without their consent, and invading the dressing rooms of teenage pageant contestants to see them naked. Every day, more women come forward confirming the truth of these confessions. Trump has even said that he would have sex with his own daughter, were she the offspring of another man. He talks about his libido as only a malignant narcissist can: as though it were a wonder of nature, a riddle no mortal can solve, and a blessing to humanity.

Deep Time…

 

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From John Michael Greer

An Afternoon in Early Autumn

I think it was the late science writer Stephen Jay Gould who coined the term “deep time” for the vast panorama opened up to human eyes by the last three hundred years or so of discoveries in geology and astronomy. It’s a useful label for an even more useful concept. In our lives, we deal with time in days, seasons, years, decades at most; decades, centuries and millennia provide the yardsticks by which the life cycles of human societies—that is to say, history, in the usual sense of that word—are traced.

Both these, the time frame of individual lives and the time frame of societies, are anthropocentric, as indeed they should be; lives and societies are human things and require a human measure. When that old bamboozler Protagoras insisted that “man is the measure of all things,” though, he uttered a subtle truth wrapped in a bald-faced lie.* The subtle truth is that since we are what we are—that is to say, social primates whow have learned a few interesting tricks—our capacity to understand the cosmos is strictly limited by the perceptions that human nervous systems are capable of processing and the notions that human minds are capable of thinking. The bald-faced lie is the claim that everything in the cosmos must fit inside the perceptions human beings can process and the notions they can think.

(*No, none of this has to do with gender politics. The Greek language, unlike modern English, had a common gender-nonspecific noun for “human being,” anthropos, which was distinct from andros, “man,” and gyne, “woman.” The word Protagoras used was anthropos.)

It took the birth of modern geology to tear through the veil of human time and reveal the stunningly inhuman scale of time that measures the great cycles of the planet on which we live. Last week’s post sketched out part of the process by which people in Europe and the European diaspora, once they got around to noticing that the Book of Genesis is about the Rock of Ages rather than the age of rocks, struggled to come to terms with the immensities that geological strata revealed. To my mind, that was the single most important discovery our civilization has made—a discovery with which we’re still trying to come to terms, with limited success so far, and one that I hope we can somehow manage to hand down to our descendants in the far future.

The thing that makes deep time difficult for many people to cope with is that it makes self-evident nonsense out of any claim that human beings have any uniquely important place in the history of the cosmos. That wouldn’t be a difficulty at all, except that the religious beliefs most commonly held in Europe and the European diaspora make exactly that claim.

MAD Magazine took John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and rewrote the lyrics to honor one of the most despicable men in the world…

 

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Michael Moore: Trump Is Not The Only Grabber Who Must Go…

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From Michael Moore

The rats are quickly jumping from the sinking ship of Trump. But not so fast, dear Republican senators and congressmen. Trump may have verbalized his misogyny, sexism and abuse of women into an open microphone, but over the past decades you – YOU – have LEGALIZED it. He may talk of “grabbing” sexual organs, but YOU have created laws that legally grab control over women’s bodies. Trump may brag about his power over women; YOU, the Republican legislators (and your backers, the Christian Right and rich businessmen), have made sure women aren’t paid the same as men, don’t have paid maternity leave, or can’t get easy access to birth control.

Trump has been called “disgusting” for his remarks. But you, by actually blocking women’s equal rights, you’ve been rewarded for your misogyny with re-election, campaign cash and future lobbying jobs. You think by disowning Trump now that we, the people, are going be grateful to you. But we know that Trump is only the natural result of a Republican culture that has viciously fought the women’s agenda for years. Trump hasn’t destroyed your party; he’s your end game, the grim reaper from the seeds you have sown, showing up now to preside over your demise. Defeating Trump, or pushing him to drop out, is NOT what will make this right for the majority of us Americans. Like any good doctor, we need to remove the cancer from its source, and that source is you.

Don’t try to make Mike Pence out to be some sane, better alternative. This guy was behind the legislation to require women who have an abortion to hold an actual funeral for the fetus! The rest of you have tried to kill Planned Parenthood and many other things that make life a bit easier for women.

Trump bragged to Billy Bush about his “grabbing pussy.” But those of you who are the elected officials, who have spent this weekend decrying Trump with your crocodile wails of “shame” and trying to distance yourselves from him, YOU are the ones who’ve been “grabbing” women the legal way by passing laws that, in effect, assault them. It is an assault to pay women less. It is an assault to block day care for all. It is an assault – and a form of gender apartheid – when only 20% of Congress is women, the majority gender.

As far as I’m concerned, there are 54 Trumps in the US Senate and 237 Trumps in the House. You can’t make this look good by removing your endorsement from Trump. Yes, Trump has to go — but so do you, all of you. Starting with the election on November 8th, we need to show up at the polls and remove as many of you as possible. This abuse of women stops now. I believe that most women and many men are going to determine their vote with this one thought, thanks to you and Trump:

“YOU’RE EITHER WITH WOMEN, OR YOU’RE AGAINST THEM.”

And if you’re against women, you’re over. There’s a fourth wave of feminism afoot now — and you are going to be its first casualties.

Or, as I prefer to see it, its first victory.

Thank you for letting the American public see your true (orange) face. I’m glad you “grabbed” our attention and mobIlized the masses against you. The only thing sweeter than seeing the lot of you gone would be a 50-state sweep for Hillary.

GOP, RIP?
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History of Religion In Three Minutes…

 


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Kurt Vonnegut: Hooray For Our Team…

 

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From A Man Without a Country (2005)

Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what’s really going on.
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People are so afraid. Take the man, with no address, who wrote me:

If you knew that a man posed a danger to you—maybe he had a gun in his pocket, and you felt that he would not hesitate one moment to use it on you—what would you do? We know Iraq poses a threat to us, to the rest of the world. Why do we sit here and pretend we are protected? That is exactly what happened with al-Queda and 9/11. With Iraq, though, the threat is on a much larger scale. Should we sit back, be little children that sit in fear and just wait?

I wrote back:

Please, for the sake of us all, get a shotgun, preferably a 12-guage double-barrel, and right there in your own neighborhood blow off the heads of people, cops excepted, who may be armed.
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“Socialism” is no more an evil word than “Christianity.” Socialism no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve.

Adolf Hitler, incidentally, was a two-fer. He named his party the National Socialists, the Nazis. Hitler’s swastika wasn’t a pagan symbol, as so many people believe. It was a working person’s Christian cross, made of axes, of tools.

About Stalin’s shuttered churches, and those in China today: Such suppression of religion was supposedly justified by Karl Marx’s statement that “religion is the opium of the people.” Marx said that back in 1844, when opium and opium derivatives were the only effective painkillers anyone could take. Marx himself had taken them. He was grateful for the temporary relief they had given him. He was simply noticing, and surely not condemning, the fact that religion could also be comforting to those in economic or social distress. It was a casual truism, not a dictum.

When Marx wrote those words, by the way, we hadn’t even freed our slaves yet. Who do you imagine was more pleasing in the eyes of a merciful God back then, Karl Marx or the United States of America?

Killing People and Breaking Things: U.S. Special Operations Command Details Dismal U.S. Military Record…

 

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From TomDispatch

Winning: it’s written into the DNA of the U.S.A.  After all, what’s more American than football legend Vince Lombardi’s famous (if purloinedmaxim: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”?

Americans expect to be number one.  First Lady Michelle Obama recently called the United States the “greatest country on Earth.” (Take that, world public opinion, and your choice of Germany!) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went even further, touting America as “the greatest country that has ever been created.”  Her rival, Donald Trump, who for political gain badmouths the country that made him rich and famous, does so in the hope of returning America to supposedly halcyon days of unparalleled greatness.  He’s predicted that his presidency might lead to an actual winning overload.  “We’re going to win so much,” he told supporters.  “You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please, Mr. President… don’t win so much’… And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again… We’re gonna keep winning.’”

As Trump well knows, Americans take winning very seriously.  Look no further than the U.S. gold medal count at the recent Rio Olympics: 46. The next highest total?  Great Britain’s 27, almost 20 fewer than those of the country whose upstart rebels bested them in the eighteenth century, the nation’s ur-victory.  The young United States then beat back the Brits in the early 1800s, and twice bailed them out in victorious world wars during the twentieth century.

In the intervening years, the U.S. built up a gaudy military record — slaughtering native tribespunishing Mexico, pummeling Spain — but the bestwas yet to come.  “Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world,” boasted President Barack Obama in this year’s State of the Union address.  In this he echoed his predecessor, George W. Bush, who, in May 2001, declared that “America today has the finest [military] the world has ever seen.”

Fast Growing Numbers of Young Adults Religiously Unaffiliated…

 

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Colin Kaepernick on Terence Crutcher and ‘Racism Disguised as Patriotism’

 

cKaepernick lands on the cover of Time magazine

From The Nation

A new generation of athletes and sports fans are learning that courage is contagious.

In recent weeks, everyone from Beltway pundits to the online bigot brigade have tried to turn Colin Kaepernick into a caricature. He’s been reduced to his afro, his socks, or a T-shirt he wore depicting Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. By turning him into a joke, his opposition hopes they won’t have to reckon with the substance of his message or the fact that the protests are spreading.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick is not backing down. In recent comments following the police killing of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, he disproves anyone in the media who still claims he’s being unserious or just looking for attention:

There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country and people don’t like to address that and they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is. You have players across this country, not only in the NFL but soccer and NBA and high school players, they don’t like to address this issue that people of color are oppressed and treated unjustly. I don’t know why that is or what they’re scared of, but it needs to be addressed.

Kaepernick also spoke about the killing of Terence Crutcher, saying, “This is a perfect example of what this is about. It will be very telling about what happens to the officer that killed him.… It’s very interesting to me how the situation that happened [Monday], they shot and killed a man and walked around like he wasn’t a human being. People are getting killed and not being treated as human beings. No one went and checked on him, no one tried to resuscitate him, nothing. They walked around, went about their business and made up lies to cover up their murder that they just committed. That’s not right, and they should be in prison.”

The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump…

 

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From The New Yorker

Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, / As, to be hated, needs but to be seen,” the poet Alexander Pope wrote, in lines that were once, as they said back in the day, imprinted on the mind of every schoolboy. Pope continued, “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, / we first endure, then pity, then embrace.” The three-part process by which the gross becomes the taken for granted has been on matchlessly grim view this past week in the ascent of Donald Trump. First merely endured by those in the Republican Party, with pained grimaces and faint bleats of reluctance, bare toleration passed quickly over into blind, partisan allegiance—he’s going to be the nominee, after all, and so is our boy. Then a weird kind of pity arose, directed not so much at him (he supplies his own self-pity) as at his supporters, on the premise that their existence somehow makes him a champion for the dispossessed, although the evidence indicates that his followers are mostly stirred by familiar racial and cultural resentments, of which Trump has been a single-minded spokesperson.

Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.”

How the Christian Right’s Sex Hang-Ups Turned Zika into a Bigger Crisis

 

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Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger 1916

From Valerie Tarico

God may have created the Zika virus, but the Religious Right has turned it into a devastating epidemic of brain damage.

Zika could have been an ordinary epidemic like the ever-changing influenza that emerges each winter and spreads across the Northern Hemisphere with sad but rare complications. But the Religious Right’s antagonism to birth control and abortion (and honest conversation about sex in general) has transformed the Zika epidemic into a nightmare that will devastate lives for an entire generation.

In the absence of pregnancy, Zika isn’t usually a big deal. Only one in five people who contract Zika experience symptoms, and those who do mostly feel like they’ve gotten the flu. This is not to say Zika never does lasting harm to adults, just that—like the flu—those cases appear to be rare.

The difference, as most people now know, is that getting Zika while pregnant is really, really bad. The virus attacks the fetal nervous system, eating brain structures that have already developed and blocking development of others. Even babies that look normal may be damaged for life. Unlike the flu, when it comes to Zika, pregnancy prevention or timing is everything.

Three Ways to Rapidly Safeguard Families 

Bill Moyers: We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People…

 

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From Bill Moyers

Saving the soul of democracy

Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter — small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives’ rebellion.”

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism.

Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service. Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, social security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers.

The housewives argued that Social Security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery. They also claimed that “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.” So they hired a high-powered lawyer — a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee — and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news.

The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives’ rebellion.

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism. It took me awhile to put the housewives’ rebellion into perspective. Race played a role, of course. Marshall was a segregated, antebellum town of 20,000, half of whom were white, the other half black. White ruled, but more than race was at work. Those 15 housewives were respectable townsfolk, good neighbors, regulars at church (some of them at my church). Their children were my friends; many of them were active in community affairs; and their husbands were pillars of the town’s business and professional class.

This Is What A Trump Scam Looks Like…

 

From Jacob Bricca
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Thom Hartmann: Here’s What FDR Said About The Big Lie Technique That Trump Is Using Now…

 


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Can Cooperative Businesses Save Communities?…

 

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From Resiliance

Nearly a decade after the beginning of the Great Recession, the economic recovery has been concentrated in a few sectors and a few places, mostly fields in technology and in coastal cities. Many Americans have been left behind in jobs with stagnating wages, while rising housing costs prevent them from moving. To stabilize their communities and rebuild the household wealth lost in the financial crisis, many Americans—particularly those in once decaying inner city neighborhoods—are turning to the model of co-operative businesses, which emphasize joint ownership by workers and democratic management.

James Razsa, a 32-year-old resident of the traditionally blue-collar Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, is one of them. He’s a founding partner of Democracy Brewing, a co-op brewery currently raising money to start production.

“I’ve done a lot of unpleasant jobs,” he said. “Starbucks was where I started to understand that a lot of my co-workers were living in poverty. We were taking $2,000 in profit a day and sending it to people who had never been there.”

Starting a co-op was a way to have the best of both worlds, he said. He gets to do a job he loves and be a business owner.

Razsa isn’t alone, either.

The number of worker co-operatives in the United States has been growing for two decades, according to the Democracy at Work Institute, and employee-ownership advocacy organizations such as the Democracy Collaborative and the Surdna Foundation report surging interest since the financial crisis.

Labor Day Time To Build Worker Power…

 

Low Wage Protest

From Popular Resistance

Private-sector workers who are members of a union have fallen from 1 in 3 workers in the 1950s to about 1 in 20 today. Politics is about power and the loss of organized worker power has meant a loss in political power for all workers and a loss of wealth, income and benefits.

In recent years, there have been strong signs that labor is getting more organized and militant in fighting for worker rights. They have linked worker issues to other issues, e.g. racial injustice, climate change and creating stronger communities; and are showing signs of resurrection.

Recent years have seen aggressive attacks against workers: pension funds are raided, health benefits are cut or ended, the right to collective bargaining is destroyed and social services are cut. This  is dramatic and needs to be reversed. Thankfully, there are strong signs of the revitalized worker movement that we need to see, understand and build on, because workers are in an economic crisis.

The Economic Crisis Confronts the Every Day Life of Workers

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report this month that shows the wealth divide has reached new levels of disparity. The CBO found that the wealthiest top 10% of families with incomes of at least $942,000 now hold 76% of the total wealth and averaged $4 million in wealth. There was not much left for the rest of the population and the remainder of the top half of the population took most of it, 23%, which left only 1% of wealth for the bottom 50%. That bottom 50% can barely pay their bills, has no money for emergencies, no savings, can’t afford to send their children to college and are trapped with great insecurity and no upward mobility . In fact, the bottom 25% of people in the US are, on average, in debt $13,000, the bottom 12% are $32,000 in debt.

Meet the Farmworker Who Helped Win Rent Control in California’s Wine Country…

 

Gervacio Pena Lopez Climate Workers

From YES!
Thanks to Will

When Gervacio Pena Lopez migrated to Sonoma County 30 years ago, he just wanted to find work to support his family. Since then, he has won victories for domestic and day laborers.

After his single mother suffered an injury, Gervacio Pena Lopez left school in Mexico and made four attempts to enter the United States in search of work to support his family. He eventually found a job pruning grapes in Sonoma County, California. It was punishing labor that earned him $3.35 an hour and left him so exhausted he chose sleep over meals.

Today, he is a landscaper, laborer, and board president of the Graton Day Labor Center, a worker-led day organization that advocates for the rights of domestic and day laborers. He has studied liberation theology, marched with the United Farm Workers, taken on the powerful wine industry, and fought for rent control—and won.

For Pena Lopez, who is Mixteco and whose grandparents farmed, farmworkers bring millennia of traditional ecological knowledge, passed down intergenerationally, about how to live in balance with the land and each other. Yet, indigenous and immigrant workers regularly see their skills devalued, their knowledge discounted, and their labor exploited.

Brooke Anderson of Climate Workers and Davin Cardenas of the North Bay Organizing Project recently sat down with Pena Lopez in Sonoma County, California.

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Sage of Ojai

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Ojai, California is nestled in the radiant mountains just south of Santa Barbara. I say “radiant” because famous there is what they call their “pink moment” when every evening at sunset, all the mountains and valley are covered with a rich and bright “pink” color that is gorgeous to witness.

Ojai has a reputation of being one of the artistic and cultural centers of the United States. Many of the creative giants of the world beat a path to the “Sage of Ojai” Krishnamurti, a mystical genius who pointed their lives in a new direction: Joseph Campbell, Joan Halifax, Julian Huxley, Thomas Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Lennon, David Bohm (Nobel in physics), Jonas Salk, Charlie Chaplin, and too many more to name.

In my 18 years of my Sunday Symposium I have for some strange reason not spent an entire session on this “sage of Ojai” though often quoting him.

Based on my own life experiences, at 90 years old, I soon realized

America Needs To Listen To What Colin Kaepernick Is Actually Trying To Say…

 

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From Dave Zirin

There has been a lot of analysis — both thoughtful and noxious — of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit down during the national anthem in the past few days. Unfortunately, there has been less conversation about the politics behind his action.
Instead of reckoning with the substance of his critique, much of the media coverage has fostered an abstract discussion about patriotism and etiquette — centering the question of whether he has the “right” to protest rather than examining what it is he’s trying to say.

As Charles Modiano breaks down brilliantly, this is the wrong approach:
“Colin Kaepernick’s deliberate act of protest to sit out the national anthem caught the nation’s attention, and this initial sentence framed most media headlines: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” But the meat of Kaepernick’s cause actually came two sentences later: ‘There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder’.”

Hold it right there: “Getting away with murder.” That is the story.

Kaepernick makes it clear that his action was connected to the movement against police violence. But a closer examination of his 18-minute press avail on Sunday reveals even more about his motivations and thinking. The transcript itself contains the most effective defense against the legions trying to distort or delegitimize his actions.

In The Good Old Days (Featuring Donald Trump)…

 

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Say No To the Savior Complex…

 

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People with privilege often engage with the world as saviors, and leave devastation behind. The world does not need more heroes, we need systemic solutions to racism, patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.

Award-winning journalist Jordan Flaherty brings us inside the dark and politically twisted mind of the savior. Starting with Brandon Darby, an FBI informant whose rise within radical circles showed how movements are susceptible to a particular style of political heroism, Flaherty introduces us to would-be liberators and the damage they cause. We meet the young and idealistic college graduates who join Teach For America and displace unionized African American teachers. We hear anti-sex-work crusaders and the marginalized women their programs put behind bars. We see Red Cross coffers grow at the expense of local communities who consistently do more with less. And we also see a growing response to these dynamics: grassroots and street-based uprisings like those in Ferguson, Missouri, creating accountable movements focused on real, systemic change.

Insightful and unsparing, No More Heroes is an indispensable tool for social justice activists, reminding us that charity is not solidarity: saviors need not apply.

Jordan Flaherty has produced news and documentaries for Al Jazeera’s Fault LinesThe Laura Flanders Show, and Democracy Now. He is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on television and radio shows including Anderson Cooper 360CNN Headline News, and News and Notes on NPR. He is author of Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six.
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GENE LOGSDON: A Quiet Revolution Coming to a Farm Near You

 

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From Our Archives
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

When farmers started telling me that they were getting rid of their machinery and putting their entire farms into pasture, I thought, “Yeah, right.” But when they led me around their farms more or less by the nose to prove it, I became a believer. After five years of experimentation, I, like thousands of farmers now, know that meat, milk, eggs and other farm products can be raised without annually cultivated crops, sometimes even without barns. In most American climates, grazing animals need only a wood lot or windbreak for shelter, will harvest grass and legumes themselves for their feed, and will control most weeds and spread their manure for fertilizer for free.

At the Bruce and Lisa Rickard farm near Mount Vernon, Ohio, there are about 25 beef cows and calves, 600 head of sheep and not a stalk of corn or soybeans. The only barn is a shearing shed. “Eventually,” Bruce said, “we think we can perfect rotational grazing to the point where we can graze year-round and get rid of the haying machinery, too.” “You can dynamite all those stupid silos, too,” added Bob Evans, a lifelong cattleman near Gallipolis, Ohio. With improved plants, he has proved that he can raise beef on pasture year-round.

Ingersoll: What Infidels Have Done…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

One hundred years after Christ had died suppose some one had asked a Christian, What hospitals have you built? What asylums have you founded? They would have said “None.” Suppose three hundred years after the death of Christ the same questions had been asked the Christian, he would have said “None, not one.” Two hundred years more and the answer would have been the same. And at that time the Christian could have told the questioner that the Mohammedans had built asylums before the Christians. He could also have told him that there had been orphan asylums in China for hundreds and hundreds of years, hospitals in India, and hospitals for the sick at Athens.

Here it may be well enough to say that all hospitals and asylums are not built for charity. They are built because people do not want to be annoyed by the sick and the insane. If a sick man should come down the street and sit upon your doorstep, what would you do with him? You would have to take him into your house or leave him to suffer. Private families do not wish to take the burden of the sick. Consequently, in self-defence, hospitals are built so that any wanderer coming to a house, dying, or suffering from any disease, may immediately be packed off to a hospital and not become a burden upon private charity. The fact that many diseases are contagious rendered hospitals necessary for the preservation of the lives of the citizens. The same thing is true of the asylums. People do not, as a rule, want to take into their families, all the children who happen to have no fathers and mothers. So they endow and build an asylum where those children can be sent—and where they can be whipped according to law. Nobody wants an insane stranger in his house. The consequence is, that the community, to get rid of these people, to get rid of the trouble, build public institutions and send them there.

Sam Harris: What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

 

(RNS1-sept9) In Sam Harris’ new book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion,” the usually outspoken critic of religion describes how spirituality not only can, but must, be divorced from religion if the human mind is to reach its full potential. For use with RNS-HARRIS-BOOK, transmitted on Septemeber 10, 2014, Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster Publicity

From Sam Harris

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

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Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

Inciting Wars the American Way…

 

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From AntiWar.com

The New York Times took notice recently of the role that so-called “think tanks” play in corrupting U.S. government policy. Their review of think tanks “identified dozens of examples of scholars conducting research at think tanks while corporations were paying them to help shape government policy.”

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, while their investigation demonstrates well that the US is even more corrupt, though its corruption is better disguised, than the many foreign countries whom we routinely accuse of corruption, it failed to identify the most egregious form of corruption in our system. That is, those think tanks that are constantly engaged in the sort of activities which the DOD identifies as “Information War” when conducted by foreign countries who are designated by the US as an enemy at any given moment.

Those are activities using disinformation and propaganda to condition a population to hate a foreign nation or population with the intent to foment a war, which is the routine “business” of the best known US think tanks.

There are two levels to this information war. The first level is by the primary provocateur, such as the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the smaller war instigators found wherever a Kagan family member lurks. They use psychological “suggestiveness” to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the US population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover.

Once that fear and paranoia is instilled in much of the population, it can then be manipulated to foment a readiness or eagerness for war, in the manner that Joseph Goebbels understood well.

The measure if success of such a disinformation and propaganda effort can be seen when the narrative is adopted by secondary communicators who are perhaps the most important target audience. That is because they are “key communicators” in PsyOp terms, who in turn become provocateurs in propagating the false narrative even more broadly and to its own audiences, and becoming “combat multipliers” in military terms.

It is readily apparent now that Russia has taken its place as the primary target within US sights. One doesn’t have to see the US military buildup on Russia’s borders to understand that but only see the propaganda themes of our “think tanks.”