Posts tagged politics

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The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

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My Empathy or the suffering in Gaza does not make me anti-Semitic, nor does it make me pro-Hamas or anti-Israel.

My Empathy or the suffering in Gaza does not make me anti-Semitic, nor does it make me pro-Hamas or anti-Israel.

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This time, Gaza fighting is 'proxy war' for the Mideast

The conflict raging in Gaza is different this time.

While Hamas’ rocket attacks and Israel’s military actions may look familiar, they’re taking place against a whole new backdrop.

"This is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict," says CNN’s Ali Younes, an analyst who has covered the region for decades. "Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel against the Palestinians — and not even shy about it or doing it discreetly."

It’s a “joint Arab-Israeli war consisting of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia against other Arabs — the Palestinians as represented by Hamas.” As the New York Times put it, “Arab leaders, viewing Hamas as worse than Israel, stay silent.”

One of the outcomes of the fighting will likely be “the end of the old Arab alliance system that has, even nominally, supported the Palestinians and their goal of establishing a Palestinian state,” Younes says.

"The Israel-Hamas conflict has laid bare the new divides of the Middle East," says Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. "It’s no longer the Muslims against the Jews. Now it’s the extremists — the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, and their backers Iran, Qatar and Turkey — against Israel and the more moderate Muslims including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia."

"It’s a proxy war for control or dominance in the Middle East," says CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

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Fear, jingoism, religious fundamentalism

Fear, jingoism, religious fundamentalism

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Scientists Are Beginning To Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative

they’re all out to get you, all over nothing They’re painting your life in a permanent gray They’re all out to get you, but all out forgetting It takes more than tears to get rid of the stains, sometimes

Behavioral and Brain Sciences employs a rather unique practice called “Open Peer Commentary”: An article of major significance is published, a large number of fellow scholars comment on it, and then the original author responds to all of them. The approach has many virtues, one of which being that it lets you see where a community of scholars and thinkers stand with respect to a controversial or provocative scientific idea. And in the latest issue of the journal, this process reveals the following conclusion: A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.

That’s a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics—upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests; and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).

It is a “virtually inescapable conclusion” that the “cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different.”

The occasion of this revelation is a paper by John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska and his colleagues, arguing that political conservatives have a “negativity bias,” meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments. In the process, Hibbing et al. marshall a large body of evidence, including their own experiments using eye trackers and other devices to measure the involuntary responses of political partisans to different types of images. One finding? That conservatives respond much more rapidly to threatening and aversive stimuli (for instance, images of “a very large spider on the face of a frightened person, a dazed individual with a bloody face, and an open wound with maggots in it,” as one of their papers put it.)

In other words, the conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets—centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns—would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology.

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War after war the media paints the conflict as a specific race/religion/community attacking another. This perpetuates distrust and hate against anyone we see as ‘other.’ The media fails to illuminate the real political power struggles of the elite few who are using the strategic murder of innocents to increase their power and wealth. Question all you hear, and please, don’t let them ever make you hate your loving neighbor.

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poliscrutiny101:

Please be sure to SHARE this one! “On Tuesday, Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of the country’s most prized lands in the West. Th…e amendment would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state, and requires the government to transfer the excess land to the states or sell it to the highest bidder. Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.”
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/10/3458798/ted-cruz-auction-off-public-lands/

For anyone who’s still not up to speed on Ted Cruz.

poliscrutiny101:

Please be sure to SHARE this one!
“On Tuesday, Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of the country’s most prized lands in the West. The amendment would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state, and requires the government to transfer the excess land to the states or sell it to the highest bidder.
Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.”

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/10/3458798/ted-cruz-auction-off-public-lands/

For anyone who’s still not up to speed on Ted Cruz.

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Where Does $2 Trillion in Subsidies for the Wealthiest Hide in Plain Sight?

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute, takes a hard look at subsidies for investment income in a new white paper on tax reform. Stiglitz advocates taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rates as ordinary income. Under current law, the federal government will deliver an estimated $1.34 trillion in subsidies to investors over the next 10 years in the form of reduced tax rates for capital gains and dividends. Sixty-eight percent of that money will go to the top 1 percent. Stiglitz argues that there is “no justification for taxing those who work hard to earn a living at a higher rate than those who derive their income from speculation.” Stiglitz would also eliminate an expensive, but little-known, provision called “step-up in basis,” which subsidizes inherited wealth. By taking a step-up in basis, heirs selling inherited assets only have to pay taxes on the capital gain that took place since they received the asset – gains that accrued during the previous owner’s lifetime are never subject to income taxes. This tax break will cost about $644 billion over 10 years, with 21 percent of that subsidy going to the top 1 percent. For the wealthiest families, the benefits are staggering: 55 percent of the wealth in estates worth over $100 million is in the form of unrealized capital gains, meaning that these families will never pay income taxes on the majority of their earnings since the heirs will benefit from step-up in basis.

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Israel can't win this or any future conflicts by bombing Gaza

A popular colloquial definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Israel launched military campaigns in 2008 and 2012, purportedly to eliminate Hamas’ rocket-launching capabilities from the Gaza Strip. Obviously, the campaigns failed: Hamas is again unleashing a barrage of rockets and Israel is again bombarding Gaza. Israel cannot win this war, primarily because it is fighting only the symptoms of the conflict with the Palestinians — rocket launching — not the underlying causes, which are the Gaza blockade and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The range of Hamas’ rockets was about 50 miles in 2012, reaching cities such as Ashdod. Today, some rockets have traveled nearly 100 miles, targeting Tel Aviv and even Haifa. Hamas launched more than 800 rockets in the first six days — more than it did in 21 days in 2008. Israel has launched more than 1,300 airstrikes on Gaza in those first six days.

Seventeen members of the extended family of Tayseer Batsh, the Hamas police chief, were killed by one such airstrike — the largest number from one family in a single attack in the three conflicts. We don’t know how long the current conflict will last, but it could prove more punishing this time.

The heavy bombardment of Gaza only deepens the Israelis’ problem rather than solving it. Over the last 47 years, Israel has systematically created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world in the Gaza Strip. The more targets Israel destroys, the more frustration grows among the Gazans. The surviving relatives, neighbors and friends of those killed, and the rest of Gazan society, are more exasperated than ever by the Israeli blockade. Increased frustration within a besieged Gaza is what pushed things to the edge in the first place.

It is delusional to assume that when the current battle ends, both parties will return to their communities to resume normal lives. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has created two meanings of normality. The 40,000 Israeli reservists who were called up this time will, for the most part, go back to their jobs and homes when the fighting ends. But Gazans, 39% of whom are unemployed, will go back to their “normal” lives under the brutal conditions of the Gaza blockade and be at the mercy of Israel’s rules about what type and quantity of food and other basics are allowed into Gaza. The Palestinians in the West Bank will go back to their daily humiliation of roadblocks and expanding Israeli settlements at the expense of their livelihoods.

In fact, the two sides are more equal under the conditions of war than those of peace; although the Israelis are much stronger militarily and inflict more damage, both sides feel the effects of being under attack. But when the fighting ends, the Palestinians’ version of normality gives them every incentive to defy Israeli roadblocks and blockades. When the choice for Gazans is either accepting the blockade and life in what some have called the largest open-air prison in the world or fighting back, no sane person would consider anything other than the latter option.

To prevent another tragic war in the future, things must change. Palestinians mainly need two things: dignity and bread. Israel must end the occupation in general and the Gaza blockade in particular. The mistake of the 2008 and 2012 mediation efforts was that they produced cease-fires that allowed the Israelis to go back to business as usual — but left the Gaza blockade intact and perpetuated untenable conditions, which led to further and bloodier fighting.

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Some things people should know about Israel and Palestine. You can see the big versions here: Palestine, Israel Deaths, Borders IsraeliID, Gaza water

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Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater

No surprise to anyone paying attention. If anyone thinks outsourcing war to private contractors is a good idea, they can take a look.

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 [one being a 9 year old child], the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

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Anyone who’s thinking of joining the military has to watch this video. The truth from a special forces veteran of 8 US conflicts.

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