Nearly Half of College Kids Go Hungry—Even With Jobs and Financial Aid - October 20, 2016 - 3:00pm
Click here for reuse options! Students are facing food insecurity despite assistance programs.

Between balancing school, work, and a social life, students have more than enough to think about without worrying where their next meal is coming from. However, a new, expansive study on student food insecurity published Wednesday found that despite receiving student loans and maintaining paying jobs, nearly half of all college students lack a sufficient food resource.

The report, Hunger on Campus, released by a coalition of student groups including the University Food Bank Alliance and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, found food insecurity to be especially prevalent among students of color. Fully 57 percent of African American students reported food insecurity, compared with 40 percent of non-Hispanic white students. The report surveyed 3,765 students in 12 states, including 26 four-year universities and eight community colleges. The study authors define food insecurity as “the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food,” and they found the analysis remained consistent with prior studies that revealed 48 percent of students were food insecure.

“We have all these students who work, who get financial aid, they’re applying for food stamps, they’re doing all the things they need to do to get by, and they’re still struggling,” James Dubick of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness told TakePart. “The most important thing we can do in the short term is to help expand student benefits that already exist.”

"Three in four food insecure students received some form of financial aid," according to the report. The report’s authors also found that more than half of food-insecure students were employed while enrolled in a full course load.

“Food insecurity really is a reflection of other financial problems,” Dubick said. “I think it reflects the overall demographics of the country.”

In a closer look at some of the students surveyed, 64 percent of food-insecure students also suffered from housing insecurity. Empty stomachs also led to empty seats, as over half of students reported additional financial issues that led them to miss classes, or that they were unable to purchase needed textbooks. At the University of Massachusetts Boston, more than three-quarters of students surveyed reported that food insecurity was having an impact on their academic performance.

Experts are advising campuses to bring in antihunger services such as food pantries—advice campuses such as California State University, Long Beach, have heeded. The university opened a campus pantry this fall in partnership with a local charity.

“When we looked around, we found colleges and universities are coming up with very creative ways to address the problem,” said Dubick. Oregon State University and Humboldt State University have made efforts to lessen food insecurity by accepting food stamps at on-campus stores, and new smartphone apps such as Catered Cupboard have been developed to increase students’ awareness of food access on campuses.

“When you have all these students who are doing the right thing but still can’t afford basic things like food, clearly something is broken,” Dubick said.

This article was originally published on TakePart. Reprinted with permission.

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How Our Broken Bail System Punishes Domestic-Abuse Survivors—and Empowers Abusers - October 20, 2016 - 1:58pm
Click here for reuse options! A teenage abuse survivor is in prison, while a known abuser walked free to kill his wife. Something's very wrong.

Last May, in Ohio, 14-year-old Bresha Meadows ran away from home. She told her relatives that she was scared for her life, “because her father was beating her mother and threatening to kill the whole family.” Her mother, she reported, had suffered many injuries at the hands of her father, including broken ribs, punctured blood vessels and black eyes. In July, Bresha allegedly shot her father, killing him. Bresha’s aunt, Sheri Latessa, told Democracy Now that Bresha was acting to protect her mother, telling her “Now, mom, you’re free.”

There’s a name for this kind of violence: it’s called “battered child syndrome” and it usually occurs in response to years of extreme physical or psychological abuse. In fact, studies show that 90 percent of all such violence is committed by children who have suffered abuse at the hands of the parent over a long period of time.

Bresha Meadows’ alleged actions fit the description of battered child syndrome down to the last detail. The parent is killed in a non-confrontational situation, often while sleeping, without a violent struggle. Prosecutors and outsiders, who don’t know about the abuse, interpret these actions as cold, calculating and amoral. But many of these children believe that killing the abusive parent is the only way to end the abuse and free themselves — and in Bresha’s case, her mother — from a life of constant fear.

Bresha is currently incarcerated for her actions, held at the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center in Ohio. A petition for her release has garnered more than 18,000 signatures. On Oct. 5, Bresha was put on suicide watch by detention center officials. Prosecutors are considering trying her as an adult, and she could face life in prison.

Now a second scenario. In August, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, Kevin Ewing cut off his ankle bracelet and took his wife hostage at gunpoint. Earlier in the summer, Ewing kidnapped, held and tortured his wife for 12 days, branding her with a metal rod, pistol-whipping her, and keeping her bound and tied in a closet. He repeatedly threatened to kill her, and then himself. The second time around, he did it.. Ewing shot his wife three times, and then shot himself — just as he had warned.

Records show years of abuse, with many instances documented by the police. Tierne Ewing, Kevin’s wife, secured a protection-from-abuse order in 2001, which Kevin repeatedly violated. Two criminal cases were filed against him, one of which put him in jail for seven months. Community members, including those in their church community, knew of the abuse and had tried to intervene. One of them told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the abuse and violence “had been going on her entire adult life.” Just three days before he killed his wife, Ewing was released on a $100,000 bond after spending three days in the Washington County Jail.

What are the laws and policies that make it possible for 47-year-old Kevin Ewing to be released long enough to make good on his threat against his wife, while 15-year-old Bresha Meadows is incarcerated and faces trial as an adult?

Joanne Smith, executive director of Girls for Gender Equity, a New York-based advocacy organization, argues for trauma-informed support for survivors of domestic violence like Bresha Meadows.

In an interview, Smith told Salon that the criminal justice system failed this young woman at multiple points. “The Bresha Meadows case teaches us that the very system set up to support survivors has failed them and is now punishing them for taking actions into their own hands,” she said. “The system is reactionary instead of preventive. When Bresha’s grades dropped in school, that was a sure sign that something was wrong. She then ran away from home and reported the abuse but was asked about the abuse in front of the abuser, her father.”

One key element of our criminal justice system is the way in which bail is determined and set. Bail practices are notoriously skewed toward punishing low-income people, who are disproportionately people of color. Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute, notes some of the inherent challenges in a system that doesn’t take into account the risk faced by survivors of domestic violence.

In most places, Burdeen says, the bail-bond system overlooks previous instances of domestic violence. She and her organization advocate for a risk-assessment system in which a person’s risk to others is taken into consideration when setting bail. Victims are not necessarily notified, she says, when an accused abuser is being released from custody. Furthermore, she argues, “The setting of a money bond sometimes poses a false sense of security.”

Advocates like Burdeen are making the case that each arrested person who seeks to post bond should be assessed on the risks they pose to others, and that these risks should be measured by an actuarial risk assessment tool. This process would allow courts to decide whether or not to detain someone before trial. After two years of testing such a risk assessment formula, last year the Laura and John Arnold Foundation introduced its public safety assessment in 30 jurisdictions, including states like Arizona and New Jersey and cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh. This approach is supported by other nonprofit institutions, including the Open Society Foundation, which has has a pre-booking diversion program that promotes alternatives to jail for drug use, and the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which has focused on changing the way jails are used in 20 key jurisdictions. These changes include strategies to reduce the number of arrested people who are sent to jail and increased use of evidence-based tools such as risk-assessment processes.

One significant question remains unanswered: Will such risk-assessment programs mitigate some of the racial bias, and other kinds of implicit bias, that disproportionately target poor people of color and result in increased incarceration and unfair bail and sentencing policies? Former Attorney General Eric Holder told the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2014 that while information gathered in some risk assessment tools, like education levels, socioeconomic backgrounds and neighborhood, can be useful in some areas of law enforcement, he cautioned against using such data to determine prison sentences. Such assessments, Holder said, “may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society.” Whether this is true for bail-setting policies is a slightly different, but related question.

There is currently a robust debate about the impacts of these programs, and data is coming in from cities, states and municipalities around the country. The fact remains, however, that the criminal justice system as it stands has incarcerated Bresha Meadows and let Kevin Ewing walk out of jail.

Bresha’s case also draws attention to the damage that pretrial detention can cause. As noted in the Department of Justice’s Ferguson Report, some court systems fail to give credit for time served before trial. For a teenager like Bresha, the impact of that could be devastating.

Trina Greene Brown, founder of Parenting for Liberation, expressed concern in an interview that Bresha was “being re-traumatized while incarcerated.” If her case stays in juvenile court, Bresha could be remanded to detention until age 21 if she is convicted of murder. “If her case is moved to adult court,” Brown said, “she could face life behind bars.”

Bresha Meadows’ case goes a long way toward illuminating the disparities in the criminal justice system, showing us who is considered innocent until proven guilty and who is criminalized without due process. Brown observes that the system failed Bresha twice. “Bresha’s case reminds us that the criminal justice system is unjust when it comes to black girls. This system was never established to save and protect black girls. It has failed Bresha and many other survivors of color … who were not provided proper protection, forced to defend themselves, then punished.”

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Hillary Clinton Is an Actual Feminist: She Met Trump's Misogyny Head on, Without Apology - October 20, 2016 - 1:51pm
Click here for reuse options! Instead of going cautious and playing it safe, Clinton leaned hard toward feminism in the final debate with Trump.

Hillary Clinton frequently gets characterized as an overly cautious politician, afraid to go out on a limb and swift to scurry towards some ill-defined “middle” at the first sign of conflict. Part of that reputation is due to people’s mistaking her for her husband. But part of it is her own fault, as she tended to take that approach in the 2008 Democratic primaries, leaving it to Barack Obama to portray himself as more liberal, even though Clinton was actually somewhat to the left of her primary opponent.

In Wednesday night’s debate—thankfully the last of this endless election season—Clinton proved her detractors wrong. Her opponent this time, Republican Donald Trump, is an obnoxious misogynist who literally bragged during the debate that he didn’t even apologize to his wife after a tape came out featuring him bragging about sexually assaulting women. Despite this, Trump continues to poll well with more than 40 percent of voters.

A more skittish politician would see that and assume the country is still incredibly sexist and not ready for a strongly feminist message and try to find some middle-ground way to tiptoe around the issue of women’s equality.

Clinton did the opposite. Faced with a misogynistic pig with a long record of belittling and objectifying women, Clinton leaned into the idea that voters want a feminist in office. (After all, the last president they elected is one!) Despite decades of pressure from the media to step back, soften her voice, be more submissive and bake more cookies, Clinton made absolutely sure that the debate-watching audience could not doubt her commitment to feminism.

“In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights,” Clinton reminded audiences. Younger voters may not know how controversial that was at the time. But if that statement seems obvious now, it’s in no small part because Clinton had the ovaries to say it out loud then on a prominent international stage.

It took more than a year to get here, but finally Clinton got to be in a debate in which she was directly asked about abortion rights, and she offered a full-throated defense of reproductive rights.

She even reminded audiences that Trump doesn’t just oppose abortion rights but also access to reproductive health care generally: “Donald has said he’s in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood. I will defend Planned Parenthood.”

When moderator Chris Wallace tried to reframe the issue in terms of “late-term” abortion, a vaguely defined term, Clinton was quite clear exactly why women get these relatively rare abortions.

“I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy,” she said.

In response, Trump, who seems to take many of his talking points from the Breitbart comments section, demonized women who receive medically necessary abortions by saying, “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”

Clinton did not recoil, though, and defended the honor of women whose tragedies are being used for demagoguery against women’s rights.

“You should meet with some of the women that I have met with, women I have known over the course of my life. This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make,” Clinton said solemnly.

“I’ve been to countries where governments either forced women to have abortions, like they used to do in China, or forced women to bear children, like they used to do in Romania,” she added, tying the anti-choice politics of this country to the anti-choice policies of more oppressive governments.

Another feminist hot topic came up later, in connection with the release of a tape with Trump’s bragging about sexual assault — and all the women who have since stepped forward and claimed they have been on the receiving end of the very behavior he bragged about.

“At the last debate, we heard Donald talking about what he did to women,” Clinton said, in full lawyer mode. “And after that, a number of women have come forward saying that’s exactly what he did to them.”

She continued, “Now, what was his response? Well, he held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for them to be assaulted.”

Clinton went on to offer some quick feminist analysis, saying, “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.”

To be clear, any male politician who had an opponent such as Trump would likely make the same arguments. But as a woman and a feminist, Clinton was in a perfect position to really dig into this issue. When she said this really is something all women have experience with, it doesn’t feel abstract, as it would for a male politician. She has direct personal experience with this. She has the war stories to back this up.

Just last week it happened to her, when Trump made comments disparaging her looks. Hell, it happened in this debate, when Trump called her a “nasty woman” for daring to sound smarter than him on policy issues—not that it’s all that hard.

What can I say? As a fellow feminist, I’m proud of Hillary Clinton. She could have played it safe, offering minimal defenses of women’s rights but shying away from touchy subjects like abortion, sexual harassment and abuse. She’s ahead in the polls, so the temptation to play not to lose must have been sky-high.

Instead, Clinton sees the opportunity at this moment, when the country is mesmerized by this snarling and snorting misogynist, to not just win an election but push for feminist gains in the culture at large. She is not content to offer some pablum about how Trump’s words and deeds are inappropriate but has chosen to speak more broadly about how sexual harassment and sexist chatter about women’s bodies is used to put women in their place and reinforce male dominance. She may not use feminist buzzwords, preferring plain language that can reach all audiences, but her point is unmistakable.

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7 Sex Tips for Uncoordinated People - October 20, 2016 - 1:27pm
Click here for reuse options! Nobody orgasms when they feel uncomfortable.

Being uncoordinated is quite awkward when it’s coupled with raging libido. Welcome to my world.

You’re horny, but you never really know how to execute anything with grace. You always look (or feel like you look) like a deranged duck in lingerie, trying to give a lap dance or a blow job. Nobody orgasms when they feel uncomfortable.

I’m a gal who’s first to admit she’s uncoordinated. I don’t have great balance, pretty limited hand-eye coordination, and very weak depth perception. All of these things make having sex an especially difficult task for me. 

Being a sex writer, there are many “hands-on” assignments that I’ve had to get through, despite this lack of coordination. In my personal life, I stick to the moves I know are tried and true — the ones that won’t leave me with an elbow in the eye or a broken hip.

Also, being a sex writer AND an uncoordinated woman, I have accumulated plenty of sex tips for fellow uncoordinated people. Embrace your quirks so everyone can get off!

Here are seven of my absolute favorite, tried and true ways to keep sex fun and simple:

1. Stay the f*ck away from shower sex.

For real, shower sex sucks major monkey dong anyway, so you’re not missing anything. Seriously, I hate it so much I even wrote a whole piece devoted to said hatred. It’s hard to manage for even the most acrobatically-inclined individuals so you shouldn’t feel bad about skipping it.

If you are uncoordinated, shower sex is a one-way ticket to the ER. There is soap everywhere and it is SLIPPERY. Trying dangerous sex games is no fun when it ends in bruises and a possible broken tailbone.

2. Don’t get so fancy with the blow jobs.

Blow jobs are hard work. They do not call those fuckers a job for nothing. Since they are already labor intensive and you, my friend, are uncoordinated, don’t get fancy with your technique. You don’t have to simultaneously rub his balls while you deep throat or whatever. 

Keep it CONSISTENT. The only thing you should be worrying about coordinating is your hand to your mouth, which you move in the same direction. That’s all there is to it. Your partner will not GAF.

3. Missionary is your safe space.

Missionary is your go-to position when you’re uncoordinated. Why? Because you don’t have to do anything but lie there, moan, and chill. 

Cowgirl is fun and everything, but it’s a huge cardiovascular workout and takes a lot of coordination... which you don’t have, remember?

When you’re not feeling overly ambitious and don’t want to try 90 positions, just stay in missionary. It’s a classic.

4. Bring in a vibe.

Bring a vibrator into the bedroom so you don’t have to worry about rubbing your clit, or your partner's clit, while you’re having sex.

This takes the pressure off of having to concentrate on more than one thing . Some people might be intimidated by a vibe in the bedroom. Don’t date those people. The vibe does the work for you, you just have to put it in the right place. Simple as can be.

5. If you’re going to give a lap dance, you better already know your moves.

When it comes to dancing like a sex kitten, I wind up looking like a drunken horse. Does that sound a bit familiar?

If so, you need this tip. Know your dance moves! Stick to two or three basic moves that you feel comfortable with. Maybe it’s a hip rotation, maybe it’s a body roll. You do you.

I enjoy leaning on the bed, to twerk while standing. I don’t have to get into a full crouch and risk losing my balance, and if I DO lose my balance, I’d just fall on the bed and pretend it was part of the “act.”

6. Instead of sex standing up, have him/her stand, and lie on the bed.

Much like shower sex, sex standing up is fucking complicated and annoying. If BAE wants to do it so badly, have him or her stand up while you lie back on the bed, on your stomach or back, whichever you prefer.

Your partner gets to stand and you get to chill and relax. You orgasm instead of falling over. It’s a win for everyone.

7. Wear what makes YOU feel sexy to distract yourself.

Another fun side effect of being generally uncoordinated is being AWARE of that fact that you’re generally uncoordinated. To alleviate some of the inevitable accompanying anxiety, wear something that makes you feel your hottest.

It doesn’t matter if it’s lingerie, leather, or a pair of blue jeans, as long as it’s what makes you feel your best. If you feel sexy inside, it will reflect on the outside. Sex should be fun and carefree, not a stress case.

Go forth and orgasm responsibly! 

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A Century of Anti-Abortion Attacks - October 20, 2016 - 1:23pm
Click here for reuse options! One hundred years after Margaret Sanger opened the nation’s first birth-control clinic, Republicans are still attacking Planned Parenthood.

Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth-control clinic 100 years ago this week, on October 16, 1916.

In her time, Sanger was a controversial figure, even among feminists, and she often ran afoul of the law in her quest to promote women’s health and birth control. She remains a subject of contention because anti-abortion activists and Republican candidates, including Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, have escalated their attacks on her and on Planned Parenthood, the organization she founded. But Sanger’s pioneering work has been heralded by women’s rights activists in this country and around the world.

In a speech last week at Virginia’s Liberty University, Pence—a fervent abortion foe—said: “A Trump-Pence administration will defund Planned Parenthood and redirect those dollars to women’s health care that doesn’t provide abortion services.”

Pence added that he longs “to see the day that Roe v. Wade is consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood Votes (the group’s super PAC) and Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, have teamed up to broadcast a new 30-second digital spot targeted to women voters in North Carolina, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, three key swing states. The ad shows Trump telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, while text on the screen proclaims: “When it comes to health, politicians shouldn’t make decisions for us."

The ad then segues to an image of Trump with the following text: “Donald Trump wants: Roe v. Wade overturned, abortion banned, Planned Parenthood defunded.”

Margaret Sanger in 1922. Underwood & Underwood - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division/Public Domain

It concludes: “Donald Trump is too dangerous for women."

Republicans have accused Sanger and Planned Parenthood of racism. Last year, 25 House Republicans campaigned to have a bust of the pioneering family planner removed from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. GOP senator and erstwhile presidential contender Ted Cruz, of Texas, issued a statement saying that Sanger didn’t belong there because of her “inhumane life’s work,” and because she “advocated for the extermination of African Americans.”

Another GOP presidential candidate, Ben Carson, stated during the primary that Sanger “believed that people like me should be eliminated.” He later explained that he was “talking about the black race.” This echoed the statement in 2011 by yet another Republican contender, Herman Cain, that Sanger’s original goal for Planned Parenthood was to “help kill black babies before they came into the world.” Cain also accused the group of “genocide” against African Americans.

Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne (a registered nurse), and Fania Mindell opened their first clinic in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Mindell helped translate for the clinic’s clientele of primarily immigrant Jewish and Italian women. They rented a small storefront and distributed flyers written in English, Yiddish, and Italian advertising the clinic’s services. Sanger smuggled in diaphragms from the Netherlands, but she couldn’t recruit doctors to make sure they properly fit her patients. Although doctors were allowed to provide men with condoms as protection against venereal disease, providing women with contraception was illegal.

So Sanger and her sister provided the services. The first day the clinic opened, they saw 140 people. Women—some from as far away as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts—stood in long lines to avail themselves of the clinic’s services. After nine days, New York’s vice squad raided the clinic, and Sanger spent the night in jail. As soon as she was released, she returned to work. Again, the police came, and this time they forced her landlord, a Sanger sympathizer, to evict them.

Following the eviction, Sanger, her sister, and Mindell were arrested for “creating a public nuisance” and went on trial in January 1917. Sanger was convicted, but the judge offered her a suspended sentence if she agreed not to repeat the offense. She refused. Offered a choice between a fine or days in jail, Sanger chose the latter. She appealed the decision, but a year later the New York Court of Appeals upheld her conviction. Nevertheless, the judge ruled that physicians could legally prescribe contraception for general health reasons, if not exclusively for venereal disease.

Planned Parenthood grew out of Sanger’s work to promote family planning, including the original birth control clinic. Today, the organization not only runs women’s health clinics that offer birth control and abortion services, but it has also been a leading force in mobilizing opposition to national and state efforts to restrict abortion.

As a result of its health and advocacy work, Planned Parenthood has been targeted by abortion and birth control opponents. For years protesters have gathered outside Planned Parenthood clinics, hoping to embarrass and frighten its patients into not using its services. In 2011, the House of Representatives passed, by a 240 to 185 margin, an amendment sponsored by Pence, then a congressman from Indiana, to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. During the Senate debate on the measure, Arizona Republican Jon Kyl claimed incorrectly that abortion constitutes “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” (In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, abortion accounts for less than 3 percent of its services.) The Senate rejected that particular measure passed by the House, but GOP pledges defund Planned Parenthood have continued.

Sanger was born Margaret Higgins in 1879, the sixth of 11 children in a working-class family in Corning, New York. Her father, Michael Higgins, a stonemason, was a freethinking atheist who gave his daughter books about strong women and encouraged her idealism. Her mother, Ann, was a devout Catholic and the strong and loving mainstay of the family. When she died of tuberculosis at age 50, young Margaret had to take care of the family. She always believed that her mother’s many pregnancies had contributed to her early death.

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

In a speech last week at Liberty University in Virginia, vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said he longs “to see the day that Roe v. Wade is consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs." Here, Pence speaking at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona.

Sanger longed to be a physician, but she was unable to pay for medical school. She enrolled in nursing school in White Plains, New York, and as part of her maternity training delivered many babies—unassisted—in women’s homes. She met women who had had several children and were desperate to avoid future pregnancies. Sanger had no idea what to tell them.

Soon after her 1902 marriage to architect and would-be painter William Sanger, she became pregnant, developed tuberculosis, and had a very difficult birth, followed by a lengthy illness and recovery. The young family moved from New York City to the suburbs for Margaret’s health, but two babies and eight years later, Sanger insisted that they return to the city.

In New York the Sangers were part of a progressive circle that included journalists John Reed and Lincoln Steffens, labor leader William “Big Bill” Haywood, and anarchist Emma Goldman. Goldman had been smuggling contraceptive devices into the U.S. from France since at least 1900, and greatly influenced Sanger’s thinking. Sanger joined the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World, working with other radicals to support labor strikes.

Sanger also returned to nursing, working as a visiting nurse and midwife at community nurse Lillian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side. There, again, women repeatedly asked her how to prevent future pregnancies. In those days, poor women tended to resort to dangerous methods to end pregnancies, including the use of knitting needles. After one of Sanger’s patients died from a self-induced abortion, she decided her life’s mission would be fighting for the right of low-income women to control their destinies and improve their health through family planning.

After visiting France to learn more about contraceptive use, Sanger returned to the United States and launched a newsletter, the Woman Rebel, in 1914, with backing from unions and feminists. As Sanger and her friends sat around her dining room table addressing newsletters, they brainstormed about what to call their emerging movement for reproductive freedom. From that conversation, the term “birth control” was born. Encouraging working-class women to “think for themselves and build up a fighting character,” Sanger wrote that “women cannot be on an equal footing with men until they have full and complete control over their reproductive function.”

Sanger began writing on women’s issues for the Call, a socialist newspaper. She expanded her columns into two popular books, What Every Mother Should Know (1914) and What Every Girl Should Know (1916), and later wrote an educational pamphlet called Family Limitation that would sell ten million copies in 13 languages.

In 1873, Congress had passed the Comstock Law, which made illegal the delivery or transportation of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” material, and banned contraceptives and information about contraception from the mail. When postal officials refused to allow the Call to be mailed with the offending column, the paper responded by leaving empty the space where Sanger’s article would have appeared, except for the title: “What Every Girl Should Know—NOTHING!” Then-U.S. Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock seized the first few issues of the Woman Rebel from Sanger’s local post office, but she got around him by mailing future issues from different post offices. Thousands of women responded to the newsletter, anxious for information on contraception.

Sanger’s next project was an educational pamphlet, Family Limitation, that described clearly and simply what she had learned in France about such not always effective birth-control methods as the condom, suppositories, and douches. She had planned to print 10,000 copies, but demand from labor unions representing copper and cotton mills was so great that she scraped up enough money together to print 100,000 copies. Over the years, the pamphlet’s distribution reached ten million, and it was translated into 13 languages. In the 1920s in Yucatán, Mexico, feminists distributed the pamphlet to every couple requesting a marriage license.

The first issue of Woman Rebel, published in March 1914. New York University/Public Domain

But before she could distribute Family Limitation in the United States, Sanger had to go to court for the “crime” of distributing Woman Rebel. With very little time to prepare her defense and faced with a seemingly hostile judge, she jumped bail and fled alone to England. While in Europe, she visited a birth-control clinic in Holland run by midwives, where she learned about a more effective method of contraception, the diaphragm, or “pessary.”

After a year in exile, Sanger returned to the United States in 1916. By then, Comstock had died, and Sanger had hopes that enforcement might wane and she might not have to stand trial. A well-publicized open letter to President Woodrow Wilson, signed by nine prominent British writers, including H. G. Wells, praised Sanger and her work. She gained more sympathy when newspapers reported that her five-year-old daughter, Peggy, had died suddenly of pneumonia. In the face of public pressure, the government dropped the case, though the Comstock laws remained on the books.

It was those laws that got Sanger in trouble after she opened the Brooklyn birth-control clinic in 1916. While running the clinic, she continued writing and advocating for reproductive health rights. In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, the precursor to Planned Parenthood. In 1923, Sanger founded the Birth Control Clinic Research Bureau, the first legal clinic to distribute contraceptive information and to fit diaphragms under the direction of women doctors.

It wasn’t until 1936 that a federal district court in New York City ruled that the U.S. government could not interfere with the importation of diaphragms for medical use. In 1952, Sanger would help found the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She spent the end of her career raising money for research, in efforts that contributed to the development of the birth control pill.

Feminist and progressive reformers were divided over Sanger’s crusade for birth control. Alice Hamilton, Crystal Eastman, and Katharine Houghton Hepburn (mother of actress Katharine Hepburn) supported Sanger, but others, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Carrie Chapman Catt, argued that birth control would increase men’s power over women as sex objects.

In 1930, with the support of the prominent black activist and intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, the Urban League, and the Amsterdam News (New York’s leading black newspaper), Sanger opened a family planning clinic in Harlem, staffed by a black doctor and black social worker. Then, in 1939, key leaders in the black community encouraged Sanger to expand her efforts to the rural South, where most African Americans then lived. Thus began the “Negro Project,” with Du Bois, Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and other black leaders lending support.

Sanger explained that the project was designed to help “a group notoriously underprivileged and handicapped … to get a fair share of the better things in life. To give them the means of helping themselves is perhaps the richest gift of all. We believe birth-control knowledge brought to this group is the most direct, constructive aid that can be given them to improve their immediate situation.”

Sanger viewed birth control as a way to empower black women, not as a means to reduce the black population. And according to Hazel Moore, who ran a birth-control project in Virginia in the 1930s under Sanger’s direction, black women were very responsive to the birth control education offered by the “Negro Project.” At the same time, a number of Southern states began incorporating birth-control services unevenly into their public health programs, which were rigidly segregated, providing poorly funded health services to African Americans.

To the detriment of her reputation and to the cause of reproductive freedom, Sanger was also drawn to aspects of the eugenics movement. In the 1920s, some scientists viewed eugenics as a way to identify the hereditary bases of both physical and mental diseases; others, however, viewed it as a means to create a “superior” human race. But eugenics and contraception did not go hand in hand. The Nazis opposed birth control or abortion for healthy and “fit” women in their effort to promote a white master race. In fact, Nazi Germany banned and burned Sanger’s books on family planning.

Race-based eugenics was practiced in the United States as well. Blacks were used as unwitting subjects for medical experiments, such as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972. Poor and especially black women were frequently sterilized in hospitals, often without their knowledge. Many of the eugenics movement’s leaders were racists and anti-Semites who promoted involuntary sterilization in order to help breed a “superior” race.

But Sanger was not among them. Her primary focus was on freeing women who lived in poverty from the burden of unwanted pregnancies. She embraced eugenics as a means of blocking individuals from passing down mental and physical diseases to their descendants, whatever we may think of that practice today. In a 1921 article, she argued that “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

Public Domain/Sanger and her sister Ethyl Byrne, on the steps of a courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, during a trial accusing Sanger and others for opening a birth control clinic on January 8, 1917.

These words are certainly troublesome, but Sanger always repudiated the use of eugenics on specific racial or ethnic groups. She believed that reproductive choices should be made by individual women. Neither Sanger nor Planned Parenthood sought to coerce black women into using birth control or getting sterilized. In the 1920s, when anti-immigrant sentiment reached a peak and some scientists justified restricting immigration on the grounds that some ethnic groups were mentally and physically inferior, Sanger denounced such stereotyping.

Even so, over the years Sanger’s flirtation with eugenics has provided fodder for attacks from across the political spectrum. As several of her biographers have documented, a number of racist statements have been falsely attributed to Sanger. Anti-abortion activists and politicians continue to repeat the bogus accusations against Sanger and Planned Parenthood, to score political points with conservatives.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, less than one in ten of all 1,800 clinics that perform abortions are located in predominantly African American neighborhoods, and only about 110 of Planned Parenthood’s 800 clinics are in areas where blacks make up more than 25 percent of the overall population. Planned Parenthood establishes clinics based on where medical needs, health-care shortages and poverty rates are highest. They offer birth control, STD screenings, antibiotics, paps smears and education in breast self-examinations. They also safely terminate pregnancies, protecting women from the hazards of self-induced abortion.

In 1961, Estelle Griswold, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, opened a clinic in New Haven with Dr. C. Lee Buxton, a physician and professor at Yale’s medical school. They were arrested in November 1961 for violating a state law prohibiting the use of birth control. Their case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1965 ruled in Griswold v Connecticut that the law violated the right to marital privacy. The case established couples’ right to birth control and women’s right to privacy in medical decisions, which paved the way for Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that recognized a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the Republican Party embraced family planning and abortion. Prescott Bush, a Republican Senator from Connecticut and father and grandfather to the two Bush presidents, was Planned Parenthood’s treasurer in the late 1940s. Senator Barry Goldwater, the GOP’s 1964 presidential candidate, supported Planned Parenthood; his wife was a board member of its Phoenix affiliate. In 1968, while President Richard Nixon advocated federal funds for family planning, then-Congressman George H. W. Bush, of Texas, argued that “we need to make family planning a household word.”

After Roe v. Wade, however, Republican operatives and religious conservatives joined forces to promote a “family values” agenda that challenged the political and cultural victories of the women’s and civil rights movements. Since then, conservatives have consistently sought to restrict abortion rights. In recent years, that effort has escalated into a fervent crusade, including state-level ballot measures that limit abortion access and daily vigils outside clinics. The movement’s most extreme wing has engaged in clinic bombing and even encouraged (and in some cases carried out) the assassination of those who work at abortion clinics.

In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. received Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award in Human Rights. Accepting the award, he wrote: “There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. … Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision.”


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Trump's Refusal to Accept Election's Legitimacy Is No Surprise - October 20, 2016 - 1:15pm
Click here for reuse options! Stealing the election? Hell, what really irks Republicans is that they think Democrats have stolen their country.

Donald Trump’s Jeezus-Christ-Did-He-Really-Say-That Moment on Wednesday night—saying he wouldn’t guarantee that he’d accept the result of the impending presidential election—didn’t come out of the blue. Herewith, two explanations.

Explanation One (the short one): People seem to have forgotten Trump’s answer to the very first question at this year’s very first prime-time presidential debate, which featured the ten highest-polling Republican presidential candidates. The moderator asked the debaters to raise their hands if they’d pledge to back the eventual Republican nominee, whoever that was going to be. Nine hands went up. Trump’s did not. By suggesting he might oppose the nomination of anyone but himself, leaving open the possibility he might run as an independent candidate, the conventional wisdom was that he’d hurt himself, possibly fatally, with the Republican electorate (certainly, with the studio audience, some of whom booed).

Clearly, he didn’t. To millions who were to vote for him in the forthcoming GOP primaries, he’d shown he was different, an outsider, a change agent. He refused to play by the conventional rules. And he won.

Surely, this must have been one of the things that informed (more precisely, misinformed) his answer Wednesday night. He’d not played by the rules once, and—all that matters to him—he’d won. His base had loved it; they’d love it again. That there were larger considerations this time around—acknowledging the legitimacy of the next president, of our electoral system, of some of the more fundamental tenets of a democratic republic—well, maybe those mattered a little, but not very much.

What a relief!Far more importantly, by insisting the election is rigged, Trump won’t have to acknowledge that he lost, something that could shatter his self-image. In the mind of Donald Trump, there’s nothing worse than being a loser. By avoiding conceding, by claiming that the election was stolen and fixed, then he won’t really be a loser after all.

Explanation Two (the longer one): The imperatives of Trump’s fragile psyche are his and his alone, but they complement the fears that haunt the entire Republican Party. What the GOP fears is not losing elections as such—at least, no more than any political party fears losing them—but losing control of the nation to a party they fear will take America irrevocably away from them.

Democrats are cosmopolitan. Democrats are feminist. Democrats are less religiously observant. Boomer Democrats did terrible things in the 1960s. The Boomer Democrats who governed in the age of Reagan (that is, Bill Clinton) governed just enough in the spirit of Reagan to sign trade agreements and legislation deregulating Wall Street that destroyed the livelihoods of millions of white workers (for Trump Republicans, if not their fellow GOP-niks, this was, quite understandably, a signal betrayal).

Above all, Democrats aren’t white—not all white, anyway, as the Republicans have increasingly become. Democrats in power—Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and soon, it appears, Hillary Clinton—are bad enough, but their unforgivable sin is that they signal the rise of a new America in which not just the old rules but the old protagonists—white men—are shoved aside.

That’s a warped or at least overstated perception, but it’s the perception that right-wing media outlets constantly feed their viewers and listeners (see, for example, the War on Christmas). To be sure, the Democrats can justly claim to champion family values. Hence their support for paid family, sick, and parental leave; for affordable college, and for same-sex marriage. Still, these aren’t the families of traditional patriarchy, and Trump is far from the first conservative populist whose image is at least partly that of the authoritarian father (Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh got there first).

The Republican response to the rise of this new, post-patriarchal, post-white America is three-fold. The first element is voter suppression, raising the oh-so-false alarm of voter fraud as the basis for enacting laws intended to keep minorities from voting (and in case those minorities still insist on exercising their franchise, sending out “poll watchers” to intimidate them). The second element comes into play when voter suppression fails to deter Democratic victories: Claiming that the victory was the result of fraud. Trump is merely the latest in a succession of Republicans to use the voter-fraud myth both to discourage minority voting and question the legitimacy of Democratic victories. The Republican attack on ACORN—largely based on the “reports” of scam artist James O’Keefe—were intended to suggest that Obama’s victory was at least partly the result of fraud, and hence the Obama presidency itself was illegitimate.

But what’s become so threatening about Democratic victories and Democratic administrations? Republicans didn’t challenge the legitimacy of the two Democratic presidents—Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson—who enacted landmark legislation more disruptive of the old order than anything that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama got through Congress, or that Hillary Clinton has proposed. They didn’t challenge the legitimacy of Democratic presidents who won narrowly: Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter.The third element of the response to rise of the new America, then, is to bring down Democratic presidents by any means possible. That meant funding fulltime operations to find something on Bill Clinton, culminating in his impeachment for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office; that mean floating the preposterous tale that Obama had been born in Kenya and refusing to compromise with any proposal coming from his White House, even refusing to consider a vote on his Supreme Court nominee; and now it means that Donald Trump can say that Hillary Clinton should not even have been allowed to run and can refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of a presidential election should that election end in his defeat.

When Roosevelt, Johnson, or even Carter governed, however, there were still liberal Republicans and conservative (and Southern) Democrats. Since then, the Republicans lost all their liberals and became rooted in the white South; a whiter, righter party is hard to imagine. What’s really not legitimate to this Republican Party—as is clear from its voter suppression, its mythology of voter fraud, and its treatment of Obama and both Clintons—isn’t so much elections as it is the new America the elections bring to power: traditionally subordinate people espousing alien values, who couldn’t possibly prevail at the polls absent fraud or conspiracy, and whose leaders, therefore, can’t possibly be legitimate.

Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of next month’s election, then, only took the Republicans’ existential phobia one step beyond what has become their widespread belief and common practice. Trump’s own fearful dread of losing probably compelled him to go despicably where no presidential candidate had gone before. But he couldn’t have gone there if Republicans weren’t just as terrified of losing their (real or imagined) country.


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Keith Olbermann Demands Trump Withdraw After His Treasonous Debate Performance - October 20, 2016 - 1:10pm
Click here for reuse options! The "moral equivalent of treason."

The presidential debates may be over, but Donald Trump's debate against America's democracy is just beginning. 

"Trump made a statement [Wednesday night] in front of tens of millions of Americans that should, by itself, end not just his candidacy for but also his eligibility to be president," GQ correspondent Keith Olbermann opened. 

Olbermann stressed that while this statement has been treated as something new and shocking, coming from arrogant and delusional Donald Trump, it is neither.

"Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election," presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace reminded Trump Wednesday night.

"Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing," Wallace continued. "I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?"

Trump did not.

"I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time," Trump said in response. 

That's when Olbermann concluded Trump lost the election. 

"If Trump still had a chance, it vanished right then. And then if he had a chance to regain perhaps some dignity to not pull down his supporters and his party with him, he blew that as well," Olbermann said. 

Wallace, in all fairness, gave Trump a chance to back away from the statement.

"There is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the prides of this country, is the peaceful transition of power," Wallace reminded Trump.

"No matter how hard-fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, the loser concedes to the winner," Wallace continued.

"[I'm] not saying that you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner," he added, "but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together, in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?" Wallace asked Trump.

Trump wouldn't budge.

"What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time, I'll keep you in suspense," Trump said. 

Olbermann was vehement.  

"Burn in hell," the GQ correspondent said, adding that Trump's words were the "moral equivalent of treason [that] this time slipped past no one, not the moderator, not Fox News, not even No one." 

"Donald Trump is not invested in democracy. Donald Trump is not invested in our constitution. Donald Trump is not invested in America. Donald Trump is not invested in preventing people from being killed on the streets after an election—like this were a third-world police state," Olbermann said.

Olbermann then had a not-so-simple request for Republicans. 

"Compel him to withdraw now," he demanded. 


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Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway Is Already Auditioning for Her Next Gig - October 20, 2016 - 11:26am
Click here for reuse options! What's up with Conway's latest bizarre tweet?

Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway must be making a covert cry for help, as nothing short of desperate confusion could explain a tweet she sent in the middle of the third presidential debate.

During a discussion about his stance on immigration reform, Conway’s boss, the Republican presidential nominee, made the baffling decision to throw out a Spanish term to describe undocumented immigrants.

“We’ll get them out, secure the border and once the border is secured at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace:

After Trump’s “bad hombres” comment caused a ruckus on social media, Trump’s campaign manager took to Twitter to retweet a compliment and back-handed diss to her boss:


--- >

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 20, 2016


"Bad hombres" = Trump being Trump
Trump's other answers = Conway-esque

— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 20, 2016




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What You Need to Know About Debate Fact-Checks: Donald Trump Lies. A Lot. Tremendously. Big League - October 20, 2016 - 11:12am
Click here for reuse options! The man can barely speak without lying.

Throughout the presidential campaign, from the primaries to the general election, Donald Trump has been a special kind of liar. So why would things change during the third and final debate of the campaign? Trump continued to lie an astonishing amount, according to fact-checks. He repeated his many-times-debunked claims to have opposed the invasion of Iraq and to have been endorsed by a government agency. He claimed that the stories of women who say he’s sexually assaulted them have been largely debunked, which they haven’t, and that he hasn’t said they weren’t attractive enough for him to sexually assault anyway, which he has definitely said. He made a series of outlandishly false statements on the Middle East. But as much as the content of his lies is important and eyebrow-raising, their frequency is maybe more noteworthy. 

So let’s look at a couple key numbers:

  • NBC News fact-checked 36 statements from the debate, 29 of them by Donald Trump. They found 25 of them to be some variation on false or wrong, with an additional “half right.”
  • The New York Times fact-checked 29 statements, 18 of them by Trump. Classifying the statements red, yellow, or green, Trump got two greens, seven yellows, and nine reds. By contrast, Clinton got eight greens, two yellows, and one red.

Every politician will get something wrong sometimes, or give an overly self-flattering account, or fail to parse their words in a way that makes fact-checkers happy. But Trump goes way, way beyond that. Every. Single. Time. He cannot make a public statement without lies, big and small, it seems. There’s something wrong with the man, and it would be something very wrong in a president.


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Even These Extremely Partisan Republicans Disavow Trump's Refusal to Accept the Election Results - October 20, 2016 - 10:51am
Click here for reuse options! When Laura Ingraham abandons you, you may have gone too far.

Criticism continues to mount against Donald Trump for his refusal to say he would accept the results of the election, if he loses. But while some of his more unhinged supporters, like Sarah Palin, insist Trump's accepting the legitimacy of the election would betray those who "died" for freedom, other prominent Republicans are despondent over their nominee's response last night.

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Graham, who's been a staunch critic of the Republican nominee since the primaries, slammed Trump for his coy refusal to say he'd accept the results of the election outright. In a statement, Graham said he has "confidence in our democracy and election system," adding Trump "is doing the party and country a great disservice by continuing to suggest the outcome of this election is out of his hands and 'rigged' against him."

"If he loses, it will not be because the system is 'rigged' but because he failed as a candidate," Graham added. 

Laura Ingraham

The conservative commentator and strident Trump supporter also took issue with the Republican nominee's suggestion that he may not accept the outcome, tweeting "there is no other option."

He should have said he would accept the results of the election. There is no other option unless we're in a recount again.

— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 20, 2016

But Ingraham's criticism of the candidate stopped there. Like many Trump apologists, she argued "many of Clinton's supporters questioned the legitimacy of George W. Bush's presidency for 8 years after the recount," which of course isn't the same thing as a candidate outright refusing to accept the election results.

Steve Schmidt

Schmidt, a Republican strategist, told MSNBC Wednesday that Trump's remark was "a disqualifying moment," adding "it's a clear and present danger to our constitutional order, to the republic."

“It’s unprecedented in this history of the country," he continued. "Constitutional officers like Paul Ryan are now at an hour where they’re called to step forward, to exhibit political courage, to put the country first and to communicate very clearly that we have legitimate elections in this country and that is how we choose our leaders.”

Michael Steele

Steele, who served as the first black chairperson of the Republican National Committee, criticized Trump on Twitter, writing "his answer inflicts serious damage to his campaign," adding "in the end the American people want to know if you can be a good loser."

Charles Krauthammer

Speaking with Fox News Wednesday night, the conservative commentator called Trump's refusal to accept the election a "terrible mistake."

"This is political suicide," he added.

Krauthhammer said while Americans want change, "they don’t want a radical that will challenge the foundations of the Republic."

"Yes, you criticize conditions," he continued. "You’re going to change Washington, etc. But you don’t challenge the legitimacy of an election and hold up the prospect of actual nonacceptance. And when he did that, I think it was a terrible mistake.”

Hugh Hewitt

While Hewitt, a conservative commentator, thought Trump "won 14 of 15 rounds," he said the Republican candidate "hit himself on the head" with his "rigged election" talk.

"It is outside the norm of American political rhetoric to express a contingent acceptance of the result," Hewitt said.

“The contingent nature of his commitment to the results is unsettling to many people," he observed.

Republican National Committee

RNC communications director Sean Spicer seemed to throw cold water on the notion of a contested election, insisting "this won't be an issue" because Trump is going to win the election.

“But regardless, you know, we’re going to accept the results and the will of the people,” Spicer said, insisting Trump will “accept the results of the election 100 percent.”

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Sarah Palin Posts Nonsensical Rant in Support of Trump's 'Rigged Election' Claims - October 20, 2016 - 10:18am
Click here for reuse options! Palin has lots of exclamation points!!!! and CAPITAL LETTERS in her Facebook post about the DEBATE!

Sarah Palin is still supporting her boy Donald Trump, even if he didn't invite her to his convention all those months ago, and even if he did essentially threaten the rule of law during Wednesday night's debate.

Shortly after the debate, during which Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the election, Palin took to Facebook to come down firmly on the side of his dangerous "I'll keep you in suspense" assertion. "Trump's answer was right!" she exclaimed in her post. "What reasonable person would preemptively accept any and all hypothetical questions and conditions of any hypothetical election?"

Okay, just all candidates for office ever, just saying. And we don't know if they count as reasonable, but both Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump have said they will accept the will of the people.

But Palin's hero is, of course, right about everything! More of her post:

When Trump is pressed on this, it harkens back to all the GOP primary candidates who screamed at Trump to support the Republican nominee - no matter what - and Trump initially responded that he could, depending on fair treatment. That is WISE and INSIGHTFUL! Trump got screwed in that deal when he eventually pledged to support the nominee and then some of his fellow candidates turned tail and refused to reciprocate when Trump won.

Trump learned - why give opponents permission and incentive to act unfairly and cheat? It's shortsighted to commit to accepting the outcome of a race REGARDLESS of unscrupulous cheaters. How totally unfair that would be to the American voter!

Trump gave potential cheaters fair warning that we'll not give them any quarter. We'll hold them accountable. They'd better be on their toes. Cheaters will not win.

Of course Trump will accept the legitimate outcome of a legitimate election! What the heck is so hard to understand about that?

H/t: RawStory


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Why Trump Terrifies the Republicans Who Created Him and His Movement - October 20, 2016 - 9:35am
Click here for reuse options! Some of Trump's debate responses just proved how dangerous he really is.

In the aftermath of the final presidential debate, Republican leaders and elected officials will no longer be able to shirk their responsibility to curb Donald Trump — who has become a clear and present danger not only to their party but to this country. He isn’t dangerous because he soiled the GOP brand once more, because he mocks and taunts other Republicans, or because he is so likely to lose and take some of them down with him.

No, Trump is dangerous because he refused to agree that he would accept the election’s outcome if he loses, inviting a violent reaction by his supporters — and because he sided with the Russian Federation against U.S. intelligence and military leaders over their alleged interference in this election. Even his running mate Mike Pence has found these bizarre positions insupportable.

What Trump’s startling debate responses showed was not merely his vacuum of proper temperament and judgment — personality defects that are all too well known by now — but his casual lack of respect for basic American institutions and traditions. His casual dismissal of profound concerns over Russian incursions against US citizens, despite the briefings he has received from American intelligence officials, was stunning. He accepted the denials by Russian officials and implied that his own country’s services are lying.

Frantically as he waves the flag, spouting nationalism and xenophobia, Trump’s “patriotism” is now exposed as a ruse. Although he pretended to denounce interference in American elections “by any country,” at the urging of moderator Chris Wallace, he has encouraged the suspected Russian intrusions into this process all along — and reaffirmed that position last night.

No doubt many Republicans have been troubled by Trump’s shadowy and compromised relationship with the regime of Vladimir Putin. His strange pronouncements about Ukraine, Syria, and other foreign issues, seeming to justify or whitewash aggressive Russian policies, are far outside the American mainstream in either party.

But he went further still when he renewed his refusal to accept the election’s results. For all his obsequious blather about Putin, nothing could be more pleasing to the Russian boss than this grotesque attempt to discredit American democracy. Putin and the oligarchs who surround him often argue that the United States is “hypocritical” in advocating democracy, transparency, and human rights, because our own practices are imperfect. When a major party presidential candidate disparaged our system as “corrupt” and “rigged” before an audience of millions, he delivered an extraordinary propaganda victory to the Kremlin.


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'Election Prophet' Nate Silver Tells Colbert Who Will Win—Says Trump Is Bluffing - October 20, 2016 - 8:47am
Click here for reuse options! "You have been surprisingly accurate over the last few elections with one exception... who is that candidate you got wrong?"

"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert had quite the introduction for fivethirtyeight founder Nate Silver Wednesday night. 

"My next guest is the seer of seers, sage of sages, the prognosticator of prognosticators, and election prophet extraordinary," Colbert announced before bringing Silver on the show.

Of course, the host couldn't help but start off with the question everyone asks Silver. 

"Who will win?" he asked the election prophet.

Silver doesn't have high hopes for Trump and believes we'll soon be done hearing about him

"Let's put it like this. Clinton came in with about a 7-point lead [tonight] before the [final presidential] debate and the polls showed... the scientific and the unscientific polls showed Clinton winning the debate," Silver told Colbert, adding "It's as though she was ready in the football game and Trump threw a pick-6, so it's not looking too good for Donald J. Trump."

But Colbert wasn't letting his guest off the hook so easily.

"Here's the thing," Colbert told him. "You have been surprisingly accurate over the last few elections with one exception, with one candidate, who is that candidate you got wrong?"

Silver knew where the conversation was headed

"We evolved. We were skeptical," he told the host.

"Who did you get wrong, what was his name?" Colbert teased.

"Donald J. Trump," Silver admitted. 

Stephen was still shocked.

"Why did you get him wrong?" Colbert wanted to know. 

"We had silly ideas and didn't look at the polls," Silver explained. "The polls were pretty accurate in the GOP Primary and had him ahead the whole way. A couple of states like Iowa where he was supposed to win, he didn't."

Now, the GOP's big problem is pretty simple.

"He only has about 38% of the vote. Clinton has 45% of the vote," Silver said, although admittedly there are some undecideds left.

"I don't think he did a good job of persuading them tonight," said Silver, though Colbert believes it's not "more information" the Ken Bones of America need but "more medication." 

Aside from who will win, the most pertinent question for Americans is: Will our democratic system be accepted by this election's loser?

"What are the odds this is over on November 9?" Colbert asked Silver. "Because Trump says, 'Yeah, I'll let you know,'" he explained, referring to comments made by the GOP nominee when asked by moderator Chris Wallace in the debate.

Silver thinks it's safe to say Trump's bluffing.

"Trump has occupied so much space in my head for a year and a half and a lot of Americans' heads.... I can't swear, but people might have a certain reaction to tell him maybe to be quiet, to shut up [after the election]," Silver predicted.

And even though "Trump doesn't generally respond to those requests," as Colbert pointed out, historically he will. 

"People are so exhausted by this election," Silver reminded the host, adding that accepting election results is a non partisan issue.

"Look even Al Gore, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, who all lost the elections by relatively narrow margins, probably narrower than Trump [will], they stood down," he said. 

We'll see.


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Colbert Rips Trump's Insane Refusal to Say He'd Accept the Election Results - October 20, 2016 - 7:58am
Click here for reuse options! "What I'm saying is I'll tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense."

"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert really doesn't want democracy to "end on a cliffhanger," a possibility Trump flirted with during Wednesday's final presidential debate. For those who missed it, Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace about his "rigged" election claims and whether or not he would accept the election results on November 9. 

After reminding Trump that the peaceful transfer of power is the hallmark of our democracy and constitution, Wallace asked: "Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?"

Trump's reply: "What I'm saying is I'll tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense."

Colbert, and the rest of the civilized world, was taken aback, and played a clip of Hillary Clinton with a similar reaction during the debate. 

"That's horrifying," Clinton said, to which Colbert responded "Thank you!"

The crowd went wild. 

"I guess we're all going to have to wait until November 9 to find out if we still have a country; if Donald Trump is in the mood for a peaceful transition of power or if he's going to wipe his fat ass with the Constitution," Colbert continued after mocking the fact that the constitutional wallpaper behind Clinton coincidentally contained the phrase "rig."

But there's one person working on the Trump campaign that Colbert does pity. After all, it can't be easy.

"With Trump's controversial statements about not accepting the results of the election, I do not envy his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway... I'm beng told we have footage of her taking questions from reporters in the spin room," he joked before playing a clip of a fight scene from the movie "Kill Bill."


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What's New: Turkey's Attack on Rojava – A Threat to Radical Democracy in Mesopotamia

Socialist Project - October 20, 2016 - 2:00am
When the strategic Syrian town of Manbij was liberated from ISIS in August Western media described an atmosphere of jubilance and relief. More than 250 fighters from the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) and their multi-ethnic partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces gave their lives in this American-backed operation.
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Life in the shadow of the world’s biggest mining company

New Internationalist - October 20, 2016 - 1:02am
Brazilians come to London to hold UK mining giant BHP Billiton to account, one year after deadly Samarco dam disaster. (Credit: (c) the contributor) Life in the shadow of the world’s biggest mining company Liam Barrington-Bush October 20, 2016

Is BHP Billiton worthy of a London Stock Exchange listing? Those who have experienced the company first hand say how they think the mining giant stacks up as a neighbour in Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia. Liam Barrington-Bush reports.

The London Stock Exchange presents itself as a financial home to responsible corporations, setting a high-bar for entry and expecting top form from those who land a listing in Paternoster Square. But the reality of making London your financial base doesn’t always seem to equate to the best-behaviour mark that the LSX claims.

The world’s biggest mining company – BHP Billiton – has found itself under scrutiny in country after country, being implicated in forced community displacements in Colombia, insufficient clean-up efforts in the aftermath of a tailings dam breach which killed 20 people in Brazil; and water contamination in Indonesia. Representatives from the local struggles against the company’s operations have come to London to protest the mining giant’s Annual General Meeting. This is what some of them had to say about life next door to the London-listed company’s various operations:

RELATED: ‘We are slowly being killed by this mine’

Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret is a Brazilian Franciscan brother working with communities affected by mining. For more than 30 years, he has been involved in the struggle for agrarian reform in Brazil. He is a member of the Churches and Mining Latin America Network board, coordinator of Franciscan Solidarity and Ecology Action and a member of Franciscans International, a NGO at the UN.

‘The Fundão dam breach in Minas Gerais in November 2015 led to the destruction of all forms of life and means of survival in the region. The mud covered everything, resulting in 20 deaths (including that of an unborn child after the mother miscarried after being injured by the flood) and unmeasurable destruction to the environment.

It also destroyed biodiversity, caused the sedimentation of the river and the destruction of many precious water sources, which now find themselves submerged in mud. Not only this, but the plants and vegetation along the river bed were also lost.

We have seen whole communities levelled, where the people have lost everything, without receiving sufficient compensation. Instead of reparations for the victims of the destruction, we have seen Samarco act in their own corporate interests and capture those of governments, who seem to exist to do the bidding of transnational corporations.

What all this has made clear, is the eminent risk of mining. We know BHP employs a high-risk type of tailings dam. We know that their methods cannot be sustainable. In Minas Gerais it is irrefutable today that mining kills.’

Luz Ángela Uriana Epiayú is a Colombian human rights defender, artisan and mother of six living in the Wayúu indigenous reservation of ‘Provincial’ in the La Guajira region. She lives with her family two kilometres from Cerrejón, the largest open-pit coal mine of Latin America and one of the biggest suppliers of UK-burnt coal. Cerrejón is co-owned by London trio BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore.

‘Since I began to understand the difference between right and wrong I have not known a single positive memory about Cerrejón. I remember the company came to our community promising us the world, but they never actually sat down and spoke to us.

When I was a child, they gave us toys. Now I am thirty years old and those toys were the last benefits the company brought to my life.

At night, we don’t sleep, as the constant hum of the huge machines don’t let us. We cannot live in any sort of peace. But beyond the noise pollution, the mine contaminates the environment. The air we breathe is polluted.

This in turn generates health problems and illnesses in our communities. There are many sick children and adults, too, including my two-year-old son. Their illnesses are due to the pollution caused by the mine, which also contaminates the water. So between the water they contaminate and the water they take for their operations, there is hardly any drinking water available for us in the already drought-prone region.

And these realities are made much worse by the lack of basic healthcare in the area. These are the consequences we face with having Cerrejón – and BHP Billiton – as neighbours.’

Arie Rompas is an environmental activist and executive director of WALHI Central Kalimantan. WALHI is a grassroots organization that works on environmental and human rights issues and is a member of Friends of the Earth (FOE) International. He has been working since 2003, advocating and strengthening communities to fight for the rights deprived of them by transnational investment and government policy.

‘I came to London to tell people that BHP Billiton is leaving a terrible legacy at the IndoMet coal project which the company has been developing in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. My family come from the precise area where the company is mining and I have seen the impacts with my own eyes.

They are destroying what is left of the forest where the indigenous Dayak Murung people live and upon which they rely for their livelihoods and cultural traditions. The company paid criminally-low levels of compensation for the lands they have taken away and now they are polluting our rivers. They must be held accountable for all this.’

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Call Me a Nasty Woman, Thank You Very Much - October 19, 2016 - 11:48pm
Click here for reuse options! The more Trump makes this election all about himself, the more women of America will choose to make it about themselves.

Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself. At the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas Wednesday night, after calling Hillary Clinton a liar, a thief and a criminal, he buckled under a crack she made about his character. Discussing her plan for changing the ceiling on taxable income for Social Security, she noted that even Trump would only have to pay an incremental increase under her plan, “assuming he can’t figure out a way to get out of it.”

“Such a nasty woman,” Trump interjected.

And with that, every smart woman who’s sought to make her way in the world summoned a memory.

Maybe it was a schoolyard memory of a boy she bested in an argument. Maybe a memory of a coworker telling her some guy at the workplace had said that about her after she made a forceful defense of an idea. Maybe some random guy on the street who felt rejected after she ignored his order to smile on command.               

Note that Trump didn’t simply say, “that’s unfair,” or maybe, “that’s nasty.” It was important to label Hillary Clinton, the person, in a gendered way. His opponent is not merely “nasty," she is “a nasty woman,” something far more horrifying. 

Because, in his estimation, women are always supposed to be nice to Trump. It’s their duty, and his right to expect. Grab ‘em by the pussy, and expect them to be nice. Walk in on them in their dressing rooms, and expect them to be nice. Tell a radio shock jock it’s okay to call your daughter “a great piece of ass,” and expect her to be nice. It’s his birthright, after all, to have all women, everywhere, be nice to him, regardless of what he says or does to them. Surely, all of the women in his life are nice to hime—but they all report to him, in one way or another.

I’ve been called nasty simply for arguing politics with a man at a party. Nasty for trying to keep a know-nothing at a workplace from doing something that would have harmed the company. Nasty for challenging brogressives on their support of a neo-libertarian. But I digress….

Yet if Trump can turn even a question about the Supreme Court to an answer about how he felt treated by an individual justice (Ruth Bader Ginsburg said mean things about me!), why can’t I make this debate all about me?

I’ve been grabbed by the pussy, rated on my appearance, walked in on while dressing, had my rights abridged by the law, my former status as a menstruator mocked, and my intelligence insulted when I was deemed—physical flaws notwithstanding—too hot to be smart. And you know what? So have a lot of other women; women who vote.

The more Trump makes this election all about himself, the more women of America will choose to make it about themselves. And in that event, Trump clearly loses. Not that he’ll necessarily accept the outcome.

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Trump Crosses a Red Line in Third Debate, Refuses to Say Whether He Would Accept Election Results - October 19, 2016 - 11:23pm
Click here for reuse options! Third debate was filled with disdain for Clinton and for voters.

Donald Trump told Americans Wednesday night they would have to wait and see if he would recognize the results of the presidential election, suggesting in 2016’s last debate there may not be a peaceful transition of power if Hillary Clinton were declared the winner on November 8.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said, when pressed by debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, before reciting one of the Republican Party’s big and thoroughly debunked lies on voter fraud. “If you look at your voter rolls, you will find millions of people there that are registered that shouldn't be registered to vote.”

Trump then abruptly pivoted and declared that Hillary Clinton “shouldn’t be allowed to run—she is guilty of a serious crime… in that respect, it is rigged.”

Wallace ignored the smear and again asked Trump if there would be a peaceful transition of power.

“I will tell you at the time,” Trump replied. “I will keep you in suspense.”

That outburst and Clinton’s response was indicative of much of what unfolded in the final debate of the presidential campaign. Trump started the evening sounding composed and serious, but slowly began to unravel, interrupting Clinton and insulting her, repeatedly calling her a liar, getting red-faced and jumping erratically from topic to topic in his answers.

Clinton’s response to Trump’s declaration that he would not abide by the officially announced election results—unless, of course, he wins—was to point out the pattern in his boasting and excuses that Americans have seen time after time in the past year: if Trump does not get his way, he accuses the process of being rigged against him.

"Well, Chris, let me respond to that, because that's horrifying," she said. "You know, every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him."

Clinton said Trump accused the FBI of rigging its conclusion that Clinton’s use of an email server did not rise to a prosecutable offense; he accused the Republicans running the Iowa caucus and the Wisconsin primary of rigging those votes against him; he accused the federal judge overseeing the fraud suit against Trump University of rigging the process against him because he was of Mexican descent; he even accused the Emmy awards of being rigged when his TV show didn't win three years in a row, to which Trump interjected, "Should have gotten it," prompting audience laughs.

She then quoted President Obama, who on Tuesday told Trump to "stop whining” and said his thin-skinned temperament and his refusal to respect the electoral process, show he is unfit to be president. “It just shows you're not up to doing the job," Clinton said. "And let's—you know, let's be clear about what he is saying and what that means. He is denigrating and talking down our democracy."

There were plenty of other exchanges during the debate, where at times it seemed that Trump was more controlled than in past debates and attacked Clinton in so many ways she could only respond to a few of them, while making points she wanted and attacking him. When Trump was asked why nine women had come forward to accuse of him of groping or touching them sexually in uninvited ways, he said they were all lying—and ludicrously accused the Clinton campaign of fabricating the accusations.

“Those stories are all totally false,” he said. “I didn't even apologize to my wife, who's sitting right here, because I didn't do anything. I didn't know any of these—I didn't see these women.”

The debate covered much of the same ground as past debates, with Clinton and Trump giving very different assessments of America’s problems and what solutions were needed. It opened with Wallace asking what kind of justices they’d appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court; Trump said he’d appoint an anti-abortion majority to overturn Roe v. Wade, while Clinton said she wanted the court to uphold reproductive rights, LGBT rights, campaign finance reform and put ordinary Americans ahead of wealthy interests and corporations.

It continued with immigration; Trump said he would build a wall on the Mexican border, but backed away from his pledge to deport 11 million undocumented migrants and their 4 million citizen children. Clinton not only said she favors comprehensive immigration reform like former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, but that Trump’s mass deportations would require a police state that raids homes, schools and businesses.

When the arguing drifted to Russia, Clinton said the recent Wikileaks release of stolen e-mails from her campaign showed that Russia’s intelligence agencies and its dictator, Vladimir Putin, were siding with Trump “because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States.” That prompted Trump to lose his composure and start yelling that she was “the puppet.”  

She calmly continued, saying, “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that… Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”

Trump started interrupting her, saying, “You have no idea.” Clinton continued that 17 military and civilian intelligence agencies have reached the same conclusion, to which he interrupted, “Our country has no idea.” She replied, “you doubt 17 military and civilian…” He replied, “Yeah, I doubt it, I doubt it.” Clinton pressed on, “Well, he'd rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us. I find that just absolutely…"

That exchange ended with both speaking simultaneously. The rest of the night continued in the same vein, with Trump accusing Clinton and Obama of causing virtually everything wrong in the country and the world, and Clinton doing her part to say why her proposals were grounded in reality, would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and were designed to expand the middle class.   

The debate ended in a way that perfectly encapsulated the campaign Americans have had to endure for more than a year. Clinton, in her remarks, took the high road, and said she was hoping to be the president of all Americans and stand up for average people against the country’s most powerful interests, while helping to create jobs and solve many problems.

“I have made the cause of children and families really my life's work. That's what my mission will be in the presidency,” she said. “I will stand up for families against powerful interests, against corporations. I will do everything that I can to make sure that you have good jobs, with rising incomes, that your kids have good educations from preschool through college. I hope you will give me a chance to serve as your president.”
And Trump, as has been the case, painted a dark and apocalyptic picture of America falling apart, and demeaned many of the institutions that traditionally have been part of the GOP’s base. He called the military depleted. He said illegal immigrants were getting treated better than veterans. He called for law and order, and said American inner cities were cauldrons of violence and despair and he “will do more than she can in 10 lifetimes.”

“All she's done is talk to the African Americans and to the Latinos, but they get the vote, and then they come back, they say, we'll see you in four years,” Trump said. “We are going to make America strong again, and we are going to make America great again, and it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and that's what you get when you get her.”

Trump needed a game-changing performance to stop what has been a slide in almost every nationwide poll since the last debate 10 days ago. While he is likely to have stopped some of that bleeding among core supporters and far-right-wingers—by sticking by his pledges to build a wall along the Mexican border, saying he would appoint anti-abortion federal judges and cut taxes for the wealthy and businesses—there was little in Trump’s performance that would attract new or undecided voters.

Trump is now polling in the low 40s, which means in a election where perhaps 125 million people vote, he will receive upwards of 50 million votes. Trump signaled that he is likely to tell those people the White House is being stolen from him. How that plays out politically remains to be seen, but you can bet he is not going to leave the public stage.

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Eminem Shreds Donald Trump in Pitch Perfect New Track Called 'Campaign Speech' - October 19, 2016 - 4:50pm
Click here for reuse options! "You should be afraid of this dang candidate," Eminem raps in new diss track.

On Wednesday, the legendary rapper Eminem took aim at the Trump campaign with a new diss track, entitled "Campaign Speech." The 8-minute track includes attacks on the Presidential nominee, "Consider me a dangerous man/ But you should be afraid of this dang candidate/ You say Trump don't kiss a** like a puppet?/ 'Cause he runs his campaign with his own cash for the funding?/ And that's what you wanted?/ A f*ckin' loose cannon who's blunt with his hand on the button/ Who doesn't have to answer to no one?/ Great idea!" 

Eminem also blasts Trump's supporters in the track:

"Run the faucet / I'm a dunk a bunch of Trump supporters underwater / Snuck up on 'em in Ray-Bans in a gray van with a spray tan."

Additionally activist track references Trayvon Martin, Colin Kaepernick, David Hasselhoff, Robin Thicke, Stacey Dash, Vivica Fox, among others.

But Eminem and Donald Trump were once on great terms. The year was 2004 and Trump was a surprise guest to Eminem's release party of his Encore album. The event also celebrated the rapper's launch of Shade 45, his channel on SiriusXM. 

"When the Shady Party called and told me there's going to be a convention, I said it's got to be a really big one—and it's got to be right here in New York," Trump said at the time. "Because this is the best city anywhere in the world. Am I right? Of course I'm right. I'm always right — I'm Donald Trump, I'm always right. I know a winner when I see one, and Donald Trump is telling you right now, Slim Shady is a winner. He's got brains, he's got guts, and he's got Donald Trump's vote!"

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