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Cone 0705wrpA melted ice cream cone. (Photo: Steve Snodgrass / Flickr)


The summer of 2018 is shaping up to be one for the record books. Locations across the Northern Hemisphere have recorded their hottest temperatures ever this past week, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. While the Post points out that no single heat record can be linked to climate change, this summer's high temperatures follow a trend of record-setting years and open a window into what will be the new normal if we don't act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Records were set across the U.S. as people prepared to kick off summer with outdoor Fourth of July celebrations. Denver tied its record of 105 degrees Fahrenheit on June 28, but while temperatures soared across the nation, it was the usually mild New England that broke the most records. On July 1, both Mount Washington, New Hampshire and Burlington, Vermont tied and set their highest low temperatures of 60 degrees and 80 degrees respectively, according to the Washington Post.

Thursday, 05 July 2018 05:52

Yes, Trump Is a Racist


trumpracistjpgThe cult leader of a racist backlash. (Gage Skidmore)

Nitpickers may argue that Donald Trump uses race as a strategic political tool to energize his base, but that he is not necessarily racist. However, that is a difficult concept to accept. Trump himself is indignant when he is called out as racist. He has stated, for example, "No, no, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you."

Nonetheless, when you are president of the United States, if you implement racist policies and make racist statements, you are making a choice to be a racist. Personal denials are not sufficient to scrub away being the ignoble champion of white supremacists. After all, Trump's signature political slogan of "Make America Great Again" is a barely disguised appeal to "Make America White Again." One can interpret this appeal is to assure Trump supporters that he advocates for a time when a white patriarchy was the basis of politics, economics and societal structure in the US.

A July 4 CNN article by Chris Cilizza presents stunning evidence that many Americans agree that Trump is prejudiced:

A new Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result: 49% of people said they believe President Donald Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not.


6773079251 f53e06d4f6 z Debra Sweet/Flickr

The US Supreme Court recently ruled in NIFLA v. Becerra that a California law requiring that women who walk into fake reproductive health care clinics be informed of the full range of reproductive medical options and how to access those services violates the First Amendment.

We agree that opponents of abortion have the right to speak out against abortion. However, if they are going to set themselves up as medical clinics, they have an obligation not to deceive their patients, and that is exactly what they do. 

Since the 1960s, anti-choice fake clinics have been luring women seeking reproductive health care at their facilities under a deceptive guise. The sole purpose of these fake clinics, in reality, is to shame women out of having abortions. Today, more than 2,700 fake clinics nationwide far outnumber legitimate women's health clinics providing medically sound reproductive health services.   


293920852 92daf107c2 z [email protected] /Flickr /Flickr

Each day, we are confronted with yet another harrowing story detailing the sufferings and discrimination against the Latino community. Immigrant Central American children seeking asylum, wrenched from their mothers and fathers, are flown thousands of miles away or held at "tender age" facilities in pen-like cages. Even after President Trump signed an executive order to supposedly end family separation, it is unclear if and when these more than 2,300 children will be reunited with their parents. 

Then there is the recent report that found 4,645 Puerto Ricans were killed during Hurricane Maria last year. The report's contrast with the official death toll of 64 exemplifies the Trump administration's horrendous indifference to Puerto Ricans' plight. Let's not forget Trump himself equated Latino people with animals, essentially dehumanizing them. The US has a long history of structural and institutional discrimination against Latinos, African Americans and other marginalized groups -- a history that is now repeating itself. 

As proud American Latinas, we are outraged by this relentless, constant and vicious attacks against nuestra gente (our people), whether they be citizens, green card holders or undocumented immigrants.


trumpcivilityCivility rots from the Trump head down. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

It is dismaying to read how the mainstream corporate media covers an alleged "lack of civility" in US politics as though it were a two-sided issue. In what has come to be the hallmark of the mass media, the issue is not presented as ferreting out the truth. Instead, the media feel obliged to present the issue as though both Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault.

That perspective is preposterous. We have a president who began his campaign calling Mexican refugees "rapists" and "criminals," and still refers to them as an "infestation" of evil-doers. Trump crudely ridiculed his opponents in the Republican primary as he galloped his way through coarse and vulgar statements and tweets. He even encouraged his followers at times to beat up individuals who protested him at rallies. He bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. He mocked a reporter with disabilities, referred to Megyn Kelly's period, ridiculed women by attacking their looks, claimed people who opposed him are dangerous to the United States, and boorishly and stridently uses Twitter to denounce people and movements for reasons of political strategy.

Unfortunately, these are just a few examples of Trump's crudity. He dominates news coverage with a shocking, denigrating or sensational accusation almost every day, and often several times a day. As candidate and then head of state, Trump, as a playground bully, has singularly led political discourse into the gutter.

Stew 0702wrpVolunteer at a soup kitchen. (Photo: Neil Moralee / Flickr)


Deniers like Nikki Haley refuse to admit that mass poverty exists in their prosperous nation. That would reflect poorly on their capitalist beliefs. But if the skeptics would look at the half of America they don't care to see, the stark display of destitution might shock them. At least until they invent an excuse to remove it all from their minds.

The U.S. poverty rate in 2016 was between 12.7 and 14.0 percent. But the poverty threshold is based on an outmoded formula from the 1960s. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the threshold should be THREE TIMES HIGHER today. And it could be even higher if the true nature of poverty is considered.

Trump 0702wrpDonald Trump at CPAC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr) 


As the nation awaits the outcome of the Mueller investigation into possible criminal collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russia, the specter of Trump using his presidential pardon power to pardon his team members, and even himself raises serious questions about the administration of justice in the United States. But would such use of presidential pardon authority even be valid? Analysis of the act of pardoning itself may have something useful to add to the legal debate.

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution seems to support unlimited presidential pardon power with just one exception. It states, “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” However, with a bit of imagination, it is not hard to find a counterexample to this broad-brush interpretation of the Constitution. For example, it would be absurd to claim that a president validly pardoned a petitioner for a particular crime if he had been hypnotized by the petitioner into signing the pardon. The Constitution does not say anything about such a possibility, but it would be absurd to suppose that, therefore, the Founding Fathers intended such a “pardon” to be valid. It is more reasonable to suppose that they would have denied that such an act satisfied the conditions of a valid pardon in the first place. This should give pause that presidential pardoning power is unlimited except for cases of impeachment.

Friday, 29 June 2018 06:54

A Wall Won't Fix Immigration

Border 0629wrpTrump visiting border wall prototypes, March 2018. (Photo: US Customs / Wikipedia)


The wailing in our country about the "invasion of immigrants" has been long and loud. As one complainant put it, "Few of their children in the country learn English...The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages...Unless the stream of the importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious."

That's not some diatribe from one of today's Republican congress critters. It's the anxious cry of none other than Ben Franklin, deploring the wave of Germans pouring into the colony of Pennsylvania in the 1750s. Thus, anti-immigrant eruptions are older than the U.S. itself, and they've flared up periodically throughout our history, targeting the Irish, French, Italians and Chinese among others. Even Donald Trump's current proposal to wall off our border is not a new bit of nuttiness — around the time of the nation's founding, John Jay, who later became the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, proposed "a wall of brass around the country for the exclusion of Catholics."

Luckily for the development and enrichment of our country, these past public frenzies ultimately failed to exclude the teeming masses, and those uproars now appear through the telescope of time to have been some combination of ridiculous panic, political demagoguery and xenophobic ugliness. Still, this does not mean that the public's anxiety and simmering anger about today's massive influx of Central and South Americans coming illegally across our shared border is illegitimate. However, most of what the politicians and pundits are saying about it is illegitimate.


lifelineiphoneThe FCC is about to give the shaft to the poor who receive subsidies for phone and internet service. (Photo: Esther Vargas)

Because of the corporate media focus on Trump, his tweets and sensational actions and statements, it is a challenge to keep up with the dismantling of the social safety net. There are so many destructive actions being taken not just by Congress, executive orders and regulatory agencies that go largely unnoticed in the press. Take for example the pending vote by a Republican-dominated Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to severely cut the Lifeline program that provides a modest $9.25 subsidy for Phone and Internet service to Americans who fall below the poverty line.

This subsidy is indeed a lifeline to those at the bottom of the economic ladder. As FreePress noted in an email, "The rollback, proposed by FCC Chairman Pai and supported by the GOP majority, would devastate millions of people across the country and make it that much harder for poor people to connect with their families, access educational and economic opportunities, or even make lifesaving calls for help." The severe reduction in the program would also make it harder for disaster victims of limited means to communicate their needs.

As the Free Press website points out, the disaster scenario is epitomized by the impact of vastly reducing the Lifeline program as it would affect Puerto Rico.


37368748214 e8bf658740 z anokarina/Flickr

One of the noteworthy developments rising out of  Donald Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy toward migrants from Central America and Mexico, is that it has re-weaponized talk of a birth dearth – sometimes referred to as "Demographic Winter" -- of white people in the US. During a recent appearance on "The Laura Ingraham Show," Pat Buchanan, a longtime leading culture warrior, pointed out that the biggest problem facing the US and European countries is the birth dearth of white people. 

"This is the great issue of our time," Buchanan said. "And, the real question is whether Europe has the will and the capacity, and America has the capacity to halt the invasion of the countries until they change the character -- political, social, racial, ethnic -- character of the country entirely."

He continued: "You cannot stop these sentiments of people who want to live together with their own and they want their borders protected." 

As The New York Times' Charles Blow recently pointed out, "Make no mistake here, Buchanan is talking about protecting white dominance, white culture, white majorities and white power."

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