Social Articles from 2018
By Dean Baker
Posted January 23, 2018
With the Republicans having just passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut, the bulk of which goes to the richest 1 percent, it was inevitable that the generational warriors would come out of the woodwork and resume the attack on Social Security and Medicare. Generational warriors try to divert attention away from how our economy has redistributed income upwards over the last four decades, and convince a large portion of today’s workers that their real problems stem from their parents’ and grandparents’ overly generous retirement benefits.
The opening shot in this new round of generational warfare showed up earlier this month in The Atlantic Magazine. It told the classic story about how seniors are getting too much money back from Social Security and Medicare, the same thing we’ve been seeing for decades. (There is little expectation of originality if you’re in the business of promoting generational warfare.) More…
Despite Years of Recommendations, Government Still Rewards Bad Policies for Body Cameras
By Jake Laperruque
Posted January 21, 2018
In the last several years, we have seen a boom in the use of police body cameras. Departments across the country have adopted the cameras, and most of the nation’s largest cities have either begun pilot programs or full rollouts of body cameras for officers.
This has largely driven by calls for police reform and enhanced accountability, but it’s also been driven by financial assistance and other incentives provided by the federal government and body camera vendors. Unfortunately, as the use of these cameras has proliferated, serious problems have emerged from their use in a number of jurisdictions. Despite these problems, the federal government continues to reward departments and cities that operate bad body camera polices with additional grant funding.
If body cameras are to live up to their potential as an oversight mechanism meant to check abuse, rules need to be in place providing public access to body camera footage in a way that ensures accountability. More…
The Disturbing Parallels Between US Policing at Home and Military Tactics Abroad
By Major Danny Sjursen
Posted January 18, 2018
Back in the day in Iraq—I’m speaking of 2006 and 2007—we didn’t exactly need a search warrant to look anywhere we pleased. The Iraqi courts, police, and judicial system were then barely operational. We searched houses, shacks, apartments, and high rises for weapons, explosives, or other “contraband.” No family—guilty or innocent (and they were nearly all innocent)—was safe from the small, daily indignities of a military search.
Back here in the , a similar phenomenon rules, as it has since the “war on drugs” era of the 1980s. It’s now routine for police SWAT teams to execute rubber-stamped or “no knock” search warrants on suspected drug dealers’ homes (often only for marijuana stashes) with an aggressiveness most soldiers from our distant wars would applaud.
Then there are the millions of random, warrantless, body searches on America’s urban, often minority-laden streets. Take New York, for example, where a discriminatory regime of “stop-and-frisk” tactics terrorized blacks and Hispanics for decades. More…
Challenging the Footprint of US Empire
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted January 18, 2018
The United States cannot be a moral or ethical country until it faces up to the realities of US empire and the destruction it causes around the world. The US undermines governments (including democracies), kills millions of people, causes mass migrations of people fleeing their homes, communities and countries and produces vast environmental damage.
The military footprint of the United States shows it is the largest empire in world history. In our interview with historian Alfred McCoy, author of “In The Shadows of the American Century,” he describes how some of the key characteristics of US empire are secrecy and covert actions. This are some of the reasons why it is rare to ever hear US empire discussed in the corporate media or by politicians. McCoy told us this was true for some other empires too, and that it is often not until the empire begins to falter that their existence becomes part of the political dialogue. More…
Historic – Norway’s Parliament Votes to Decriminalize All Drugs
by Claire Bernish
Posted January 16, 2018
In a bid to assist addicts, rather than lock users in cages, Norway’s parliament voted last week to decriminalize all drugs — citing Portugal and its general success lowering addiction and incarceration rates, getting those who need it into treatment, and drastically reducing crime and other issues related to the illegality of substances for personal use — thus, becoming the first Scandinavian nation to do so.
The Independent reports the parties backing the measure included the Conservatives (Hoyre), Liberals (Venstre), the Labor Party (Ap), and the Socialist Left (SV) — with those voting in favor of full decriminalization directing the Norwegian government to reform its drug policies accordingly.
It wasn’t just the relative success in Portugal that motivated Norwegian politicians to act in addicts’ better interests, but Norway’s own timid experimentations with decriminalization. More…
The U.S. is Not a Democracy, It Never Was
by Gabriel Rockhill
Posted January 11, 2018
One of the most steadfast beliefs regarding the United States is that it is a democracy. Whenever this conviction waivers slightly, it is almost always to point out detrimental exceptions to core American values or foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a “loss of democracy” due to the election of clownish autocrats, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions.
The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government to its founding principles, highlighting the contradiction between the two and clearly placing hope in its potential resolution.
The problem, however, is that there is no contradiction or supposed loss of democracy because the United States simply never was one. This is a difficult reality for many people to confront, and they are likely more inclined to immediately dismiss such a claim as preposterous rather than take the time to scrutinize the material historical record in order to see for themselves. More…
Expect Even Less Freedom of Internet in 2018
by Philip M. Giraldi
Posted January 11, 2018
Users of social media have been increasingly reporting that their accounts have been either censored, blocked or suspended during the past year. Initially, some believed that the incidents might be technical in nature, with overloaded servers struggling to keep up with the large and growing number of accounts, but it eventually emerged that the interference was deliberate and was focused on individuals and groups that were involved in political or social activities considered to be controversial.
Now it has been learned that major social media and internet service providers have, throughout the past year, been meeting secretly with the United States and Israeli governments to remove content as well as ban account holders from their sites. More…
Sixteen Year Old Ahed Tamimi Offers Israelis a Lesson Worthy of Gandhi
By Jonathan Cook
Posted January 10, 2018
Eventually, colonised peoples bring to the fore a figure best suited to challenge the rotten values at the core of the society oppressing them. Ahed is well qualified for the task.
She was charged last week with assault and incitement after she slapped two heavily armed Israeli soldiers as they refused to leave the courtyard of her family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Her mother, Nariman, is in detention for filming the incident. The video quickly went viral.
Ahed lashed out shortly after soldiers nearby shot her 15-year-old cousin in the face, seriously injuring him. More…
The sad irony of Israel, a people who have suffered at the hands of tyrants so much over history, now become the tyrants.
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