Category Archives: Politics

Headline of the day: Desperate times, measures


Plus today’s Graphic Representations.

First, the headline. . .

You knew it was coming, via Agence France Presse:

Trump ready to drag Bill Clinton sex scandals into US campaign

  • Donald Trump indicated in a new interview that he’s ready to drag ex-president Bill Clinton’s sex scandals into the White House campaign, after Democrats lashed out at the billionaire’s Twitter rant against a pro-Hillary ex-Miss Universe.
  • Trump told The New York Times that he believes talking about the sex scandals that stained the career of Hillary’s husband Bill would turn female voters away from her.
  • “She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” Trump told the Times in an interview posted late Friday.

And now for those graphic representations. . .

First up, and from the Charlotte Observer:

Kevin Siers: Trump’s new tweets

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Next, from the Sacramento Bee:

Jack Ohman: My Three Wives. . .

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The Chattanooga Times Free Press seeks an explanation:

Clay Bennett: The Donald

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Next up, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Witch-shaming

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Followed by the cover of the upcoming New Yorker:

Barry Blitt: “Miss Congeniality”

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From the Indianapolis Star, a look at the other side:

Gary Varvel: Hillary, Trump and women

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And our final Graphic Representation,, via the Washington Post, a preview of the the cover of the December issue of the magazine so instrumental in reshaping popular culture in the 1960s and beyond:

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And to close, a Quote of the Day

From Undernews:

“Donald pulled me aside at his wedding,” Stern said in comments that had not resurfaced until now. “He said, you know I am getting remarried, but Howard, vagina is expensive. I will never forget those words. The guy is right. Those were the exact words!”

Brazil’s coupsters ramp up privatization push


The key tenet of neoliberalism is really quite simple: All services provided by democratically elected governments should be privatized for the sake of corporate profits, a move enhanced by insidious campaigns to discredit their own governments.

And has been so successfully conducted in other nations, the U.S. included, Brazil’s unelected neoliberal government, put in power by a legislative coup against the elected government, continues to rush forward with measures to sell off the national commons.

teleSUR English covers the latest and most drastic move:

The interim government of Michel Temer in Brazil announced Thursday it will privatize 34 state companies in strategic areas around the country.

“We are opening 34 opportunities for licensing in the areas of ports, airports, roads, railways, energy, oil, gas,” said Temer.

“With this, we are opening and universalizing the Brazilian market, in the belief that to combat unemployment and make the country grow it’s necessary to encourage the industry, services, agricultural businesses, besides restoring confidence, because there was a time when confidence in the country was lost,” said the coup president.

The Investment Partnership Program is in charge of the privatization plan for these industries, run by Wellington Moreira Franco, a politician specialized in privatizations during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The airports located in Florianopolis, Salvador, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre are also part of the privatization program.

Cops arrest Arkansas legislator for taking a video


A video, it turns out, which he was legally entitled to record thanks to legislation passed with the legislator’s help.

We’ve been a longtime supporter of the right of citizens to videotape police officers engaged in confrontations with their fellow citizens.

After all, it’s the citizens themselves who are paying police salaries, and police are engaged in a public function.

But that didn’t stop cops in Little Rock from arresting the 79-year-old black man.

Here’s a lengthy Little Rock police car cam video of the arrest, posted by Ean Bordeaux:

Ark State Rep. John Walker arrested for filming LR police

Program notes [excerpted]:

Arkansas State Representative John Walker was arrested on Monday morning, Sept. 26, 016.

Little Rock police were in the process of arresting a stopped driver for theft of property around 11:30 a.m. at 9th and Commerce streets.

Walker, 79, walked into the scene of the traffic stop and began filming the incident. The arrested driver asked what Walker was doing, to which Walker responded, “I’m making sure they don’t kill you.”

After escorting the driver to the patrol car in handcuffs, police found that the passenger of the stopped call also had an outstanding arrest warrant.

As the police were arresting the passenger, Walker and another individual approached the scene in a “antagonistic and provocative manner.” Officers repeatedly told both individuals to stop and stay away from the scene.

Walker told the police he was not going to leave and instructed the police to arrest him. Police obliged and charged him with interfering with government operations. The other individual was also arrested.

At the station, Walker informed the jailers that he only wanted to file a complaint “against the white officers.”

And the story, from the Intercept:

An Arkansas State representative who helped pass a state law protecting people who film police was arrested Monday while filming Little Rock police as they put a black man in handcuffs after a traffic stop.

The charges against Rep. John Walker have been dropped, but his colleague, fellow civil rights lawyer Omavi Shukur, faces charges for obstruction of government relations.

Officer Jeff Thompson wrote in his police report: “I ordered Walker several times to leave or be arrested. Walker replied ‘arrest me’ at which point I did.”

Police on Wednesday released dashcam video of the incident. “I’m just making sure they don’t kill you,” Walker told the man who had been pulled over, according to the police report.

More from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

In one of the videos, Walker can be heard off-camera talking to officer Jason Roberts, a downtown patrolman who was one of four officers who conducted the traffic stop. Shortly after Walker and Kushukuru arrive and start recording, Roberts asks Walker what he’s doing. Walker identifies himself as a state representative and says Little Rock is his district.

“I’m just here as an observer,” Walker says.

Roberts then tells Walker that he has a right to observe. He explains that four officers were on scene because he and officer Thomas Thompson, both veteran patrolmen, were training two rookie officers.

In the video, Walker can be heard saying that he intends to film every instance in which multiple police officers arrest a black man. He then references the Little Rock police killings of two black men, Eugene Ellison, 67, and Deon Williams, 26. Officers shot Ellison to death inside his apartment in 2010. Williams was carrying a handgun when he fled a traffic stop, and officers fatally shot him in 2013.

“There have been too many killings,” Walker says in the video. “The killings on 12th Street. The killings on Asher Avenue.”

Roberts, who is white, then accuses Walker of trying to provoke the police. He says in the video that officers did not know the race of the men they pulled over when they initiated the stop. In a police report, Walker’s behavior is described as “antagonistic and provocative.

If there was ever evidence for the need of Walker’s legislation, this is it.

Chart of the day II: Americans hunger for third party


From Gallup:

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Philippine president likens himself to Adolf Hitler


Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president who has launched a vigilante massacre of drug dealers [previously], raised the stakes today in his deadly campaign, likening himself to history’s most-loathed murderer.

And it’s not just drug sellers he hopes to massacre; it’s their customers as well.

From the Guardian:

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president, appears to have compared himself to Hitler, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in his bloody war on crime.

During a press conference in his home city of Davao, the former prosecutor told reporters that he had been compared to a “cousin of Hitler” by his critics.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

>snip<

Duterte has spent his first three months in office running a campaign to kill all involved in the rampant drugs trade, including alleged addicts, causing outrage from rights groups and foreign governments.

More than 3,500 alleged drug dealers and addicts have been killed, about a third of them in police operations but the majority by armed vigilante militias. Duterte has publicly encouraged civilians to kill addicts and said he will not prosecute police for extrajudicial executions.

“You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he said during the press conference early on Friday.

The rest-less society: No time for relaxation


In his remarkable 1883 work The Right to be Lazy, French radical socialist Paul Lafargue made a telling observation:

“Cannot the labourers understand that by over-working themselves they exhaust their own strength and that of their progeny, that they are used up and long before their time come to be incapable of any work at all, that absorbed and brutalized by this single vice they are no longer men but pieces of men, that they kill within themselves all beautiful faculties, to leave nothing alive and flourishing except the furious madness for work.”

Certainly the drive to work longer hours has come to dominate American labor, as longer hours are the only way to to maintain life in a consumer culture.

From the Hamilton Project:

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And there’s another question, posed by Harvard Business Review Senior Editor Sarah Green Carmichael in a 19 August 2015 essay:

Is overwork actually doing what we assume it does — resulting in more and better output? Are we actually getting more done?

There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output. In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more.

Considerable evidence shows that overwork is not just neutral — it hurts us and the companies we work for. Numerous studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and her colleagues (as well as other studies) have found that overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease. Of course, those are bad on their own. But they’re also terrible for a company’s bottom line, showing up as absenteeism, turnover, and rising health insurance costs. Even the Scroogiest of employers, who cared nothing for his employees’ well-being, should find strong evidence here that there are real, balance-sheet costs incurred when employees log crazy hours.

If your job relies on interpersonal communication, making judgment calls, reading other people’s faces, or managing your own emotional reactions — pretty much all things that the modern office requires — I have more bad news. Researchers have found that overwork (and its accompanying stress and exhaustion) can make all of these things more difficult.

Today’s workers hunger for the right to be lazy

And now comes another study revealing the deep craving of the working class for more leisure, a validation of Lafargue’s central argument.

From the University of Durham:

Over two thirds (68 per cent) of the public would like more rest, according to the world’s largest ever survey on the topic.

The results of the survey, led by Durham University researchers, also revealed that nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents said they need more rest than the average person, while 10 per cent think they need less.

Rest and well-being

More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness, and the results were unveiled during BBC Radio 4’s programme The Anatomy of Rest.

The survey found that those who felt they needed more rest scored lower in terms of well-being. Similarly, those who responded saying they think they get more rest than average or don’t feel in need of more rest, had well-being scores twice as high as those who wanted more rest. This suggests that the perception of rest matters, as well as the reality. 

Dr Felicity Callard, principal investigator on the project and social scientist in the Department of Geography,said: “The survey shows that people’s ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related. We’re delighted that these findings combat a common, moralizing connection between rest and laziness.”

Five most restful activities

The survey asked people to choose the activities that they find the most restful. The results show that the top five most restful activities are those often done alone:

  • Reading (58 per cent)
  • Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
  • Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
  • Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
  • Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)

Dr Felicity Callard continued: “It’s intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one’s own. Perhaps it’s not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others.”

Continue reading

Troikarchs steal still more of the Greek commons


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party swept into power last year with a promise to end the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the financial overlords of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.

Their vow has provd as hollow as the political vows of countless other politicians, and in the two years since, Greece has sliced pensions and health care to pay the banksters, as the country continues to record massive unemployment and deepening misery.

And now Tsipras has done it again, surrendering to their latest demands with yet another round of cuts and selloffs of the national commons, although many of his own party voted in opposition.

From Deutsche Welle:

The reforms were passed by a narrow 152-141 majority vote in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, after 152 parliamentary members of the ruling Syriza-Independent Greeks coalition approved the reform bill. Only one member of the coalition voted against the bill, along with all opposition members.

The reforms will see public assets transferred to a new asset fund created by Greece’s creditors. Assets include airports and motorways, as well as water and electricity utilities. The holding company groups together these state entities with the country’s privatization agency, the bank stability fund and state real estate. It will be led by an official chosen by Greece’s creditors, although Greece’s Finance Ministry will retain overall control.

The reforms sparked significant backlash among demonstrators and public sector workers.

Ahead of the vote, protestors outside of the parliament in Athens chanted, “Next you’ll sell the Acropolis!”

Greece’s public sector union criticized the reforms, saying that the transfer of public assets paved the way for a fire-sale to private investors. “Health, education, electricity and water are not commodities. They belong to the people,” the union said in a statement.

Workers at Greece’s public water utility companies in Athens and Thessaloniki walked out on Tuesday to protest the reforms. “They are handing over the nation’s wealth and sovereignty,” George Sinioris, head of the water company workers association said.