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Month: August 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Wayne Dyer, self-help guru and advocate of positive thinking, dies at 75

Dr. Wayne Dyer, a self-help guru whose wrote the best-seller ?Your Erroneous Zones? as a guide to better living, has died at 75. Dyer was promoted by Oprah Winfrey and several other celebrities.

While self-help advice is typically harmless and may be advantageous to some people, the disturbing role of Dyer was to suggest that positive thinking and psychic surgery could heal.

Dyer was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009, but claimed to have been healed via the power of positive thinking and ?psychic surgery? by an unconventional Brazilian doctor.

?It?s a remote surgery,? Dyer told Winfrey in 2012. ?It was 12,000 miles from where I was. I don?t know what happened. These are entities. They don?t have any form. These are just spirits that enter his body.?

?This sounds crazy,? Winfrey said ? though she later interviewed the doctor. Dyer agreed. But he had a thought.

?Here?s a line from Jesus: ?With god all things are possible,?? he said. ?What does that leave out? ? Nothing. So it doesn?t leave out this either.?

Source: Wayne Dyer, best-selling self-help guru and friend of Oprah, dead at 75 ? The Washington Post

Total nonsense, and possibly dangerous for those who would forego conventional treatments for spiritual-based treatments. His Brazilian ?doctor? was João Teixeira de Faria, better known as ?John of God.? Here is more on his ?psychic? treatments that Dyer used.

Mind Body Spirit magazine listed Dyer as one of the 10 most spiritually influential people in the world.

Wayne-Dyer

There has been no official cause of death listed but it would be reasonable to assume his condition was the cause. Psychic surgery does not heal anything, let alone leukemia. Positive thinking, however, can help you better face death though. Several notables say that Dr. Dyer has embarked on his next spiritual journey.

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Rare sea creature spotted for the first time in 30 years

Today?s creature we bet you never heard of is? allonautilus.

One of the ?rarest creatures in the world? has been spotted for only the third time ever off the coast of Papua New Guinea by a US biologist.

Source: Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World?s ?rarest? creature spotted for only the third time ever ? World

Peter Ward, a professor of biology at the University of Washington in the US, first saw Allonautilus scrobiculatus in 1984.

But the animals are threatened by extinction thanks to illegal fishing and mining operations.

?As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct,? Mr Ward told the University of Washington news.

The Allonautilus scrobiculatus are considered ?living fossils? (not a great term) because the species date backs about 500 million years, pre-dating the dinosaurs. [A living fossil is a living species (or clade) of organism that appears to be similar to a species otherwise known only from fossils, typically with no close living relatives. ? Wikipedia. The term suggests the animal has not evolved or changed at all and that is incorrect. The organisms are clearly distinguishable from their ancestors.] An important note: There are two genera of this kind of animal. Nautilus is the type genus, Allonautilus described here, is a close relative. The family, Nautilidae, are molluscs, and share a distant relative with ammonites, extinct shelled creatures that were food for mosasaurs and other large predators of the dinosaur era when these types of organisms were far more common.

Allonautilus scrobiculatus

We can capture a picture of this rarity, in the ocean. Still no Bigfoot. That should tell you something.

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Convicted ?psychics? admit it was all a scam

Several psychics that are in jail admit that they were scamming people. In other news, water is wet. But, there are several more interesting threads to this story that I encourage everyone to read in its entirety.

Source: The Secret to the Psychic Trade? It?s in the Parole Board Transcripts ? The New York Times

Celia Mitchell, 38, was pointedly asked that exact question last year: ?What is the psychic business? Is it real, or a bunch of baloney??

She answered, ?It?s a scam, sir.?

?The whole thing is a scam??

?Yes.?

It?s not unusual these days for convicted psychics to sit for interviews before the parole board and request an early release. They promise never to do fortunetelling again or look for ?marks? again. Isn?t that the typical sentiment for convicted criminals?

Two woman both named Sylvia Mitchell, Celia Mitchell, Priscilla Kelly Delmaro, and Betty Vlado are highlighted in the story that is informed from the transcripts of their hearings. The board examiners appear annoying and silly, asking if the psychics can predict if they will be let go. That?s uncalled for.

What is briefly mentioned is the fact that many of these women, including the queen of jailed psychics, Rose Marks, have come from the Roma culture, known as ?gypsies?. They were not allowed to receive a normal course of education and were taught to do psychic readings to support their families. While Marks used this as an excuse, it didn?t wash, obviously. But it does show that there are many facets to the problem of the psychic trade including what the women feel forced into doing. Also sad are the people who pay them that are looking for life coaches and personal help because they can?t find it in their own personal circles. It?s a complicated problem that does not excuse the crime. But to fix it completely will be difficult, more difficult than just throwing those who get caught in jail for a while.

There are many different flavors of psychics ? some run storefronts, reading tarot cards and palms. Others target very wealthy people and become their confidant. Then there are those who most certainly believe they have powers even though they do not. They even fool themselves.

People who truly believe in psychic powers claim that these women in jail, these scammers, are not representative of the rest of those calling themselves psychic. Well, we have yet to find that such divination techniques or claims to talk to the dead are actually true. So, odds are your favorite psychic is not a TRUE psychic, but just another scammer or personally delusional. Be skeptical or be taken.

Tip: David Wood

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Turkey?s president approves interim cabinet

As expected, July elections in Turkey moved Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the prime minister's office to a new role as president. His place as the strongman of Ankara was increasingly unchallenged, in spite of the tragedy of the deaths of hundreds of miners in Soma, to say nothing of the continuing crackdowns on protesters, his clampdowns on traditional and social media, lavish spending on a new presidential palace, his sharpness towards the EU and Erdogan's plain statement that he had no intention of holding to presidential neutrality.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved an interim government that will give a pro-Kurdish party cabinet posts for the first time.

Ali Haydar Konca will serve as EU affairs minister and Muslum Dogan as development minister in the new cabinet formed by formed by Prime Minister Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Both men are lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples? Democratic Party (HDP), whose strong showing in parliamentary elections last June helped deprive Erdogan?s Justice and Development Party (AKP) of the parliamentary majority it had held since 2002.

The caretaker cabinet will govern until snap parliamentary elections are held on November 1.

President Erdogan called new parliamentary elections earlier this week after a deadline passed for forming a government with the opposition.  He said he had no intention of giving Turkey?s opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the second-placed Republican People?s Party, the chance to form a coalition government.

Erdogan has championed a more powerful presidency, and opponents accused him of trying to derail efforts to create a coalition alliance so that he could give the AKP the chance to win back its majority and rule alone.

Source: VOANews.com

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Paid Leave This Week: What It’s Like to Have Cancer and a Baby While Working at Amazon

Ex-Amazon employee says she was pushed out after returning from maternity leave and cancer treatment. In an essay on Medium, the company?s former editorial director Julia Cheiffetz described her own Amazon horror story after being diagnosed with cancer six week?s post-childbirth. Her plea to Jeff Bezos: “Reevaluate your parental leave policies.”

The latest new perk in the employee-benefits arms race: Management consultants at Accenture will now have the option of working for local clients for their first year as new parents?letting them skip the weekly plane trips away from home. 

Life as a working mother is hard?unless you live in Sweden. That?s the conclusion of a new study by a sociologist at U.T. Austin, comparing the experiences of middle-income working mothers in the U.S., Sweden, Italy, and Germany.  

Finally, a UPS for breast milk. Milk Stork, a new Palo Alto-based start up, will deliver pre-paid milk shipping supplies for breastfeeding moms on business trips?for the steep price of $99 a day. 

This is what progress on paid sick leave looks like. Over the last nine years, 10 million more workers have gained access to paid sick leave, thanks to state and local legislation. 

Family Values @ Work

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Trend News Agency: Turkey Strengthening “Gas” Positions

August 28th, 2015 5:14pm Posted In: Press Notes

Turkey, in view of the recent processes and developments, is becoming increasingly important force on the world?s energy map.

Although the country has no large oil and gas fields, the geographical location and the right policies, have given Turkey an opportunity to become a major energy hub and an important figure for both suppliers and consumers of hydrocarbons.

Read the full article HERE.


 Natural Gas Europe welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact editor@minoils.com  

Kindly note that we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.

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Why Is Donald Trump Winning Over Evangelical Voters?

As Donald Trump has enjoyed an astonishing lead in a packed Republican primary field, a vexing question has gone unanswered: Why are evangelicals, those most desired of conservative voters, fond of Trump? There isn?t a single Republican in the mix who isn?t openly courting the evangelical vote. Ted Cruz kicked off his campaign at Liberty University, a project of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell; Scott Walker sang a couple bars of Nothing but the Blood when asked whether God had ordained his run during the varsity GOP debate on August 6th. For the old guard there is Mike Huckabee, whose orbicular, paternal presence recalls the booming televangelists of the Reagan era.  

And yet, with all of these perfectly serviceable choices, evangelicals still appear curiously interested in Trump, whose Christian bona fides add up to exactly nothing, especially when bona fide is translated literally as good faith. Despite multiple marriages and an openly lecherous attitude towards younger women; a humorlessness made even less tolerable by a short temper; and a shameless set of appetites untouched by temperance and other virtues, evangelicals appear to favor Trump over their other options. A July poll placed evangelical support for Trump at 20 percent; Walker trailed at 14, Huckabee at 12, and Cruz at an anemic 5.

What should be immediately apparent from these numbers is that evangelicals are not, in fact, all rushing out to vote Trump. In fact, among various polls, only twenty-something percent of them have registered any interest in Trump, with the remainder of their votes split among the other sixteen GOP options. As Philip Bump recently pointed out in the Washington Post: At this point, the evangelical vote is not really dissimilar from the general Republican vote?there really is no obvious evangelical pick. The curiosity of evangelical attention to Trump isn?t so much a question of how the belligerent billionaire captured the most sought after voting bloc in the Republican game (he hasn?t), but why any evangelical would have even the vaguest inclination toward him whatsoever.

The first and most obvious point to raise is that evangelicals are not all the same, as Pew found in 2007, when analyzing changes in evangelical approval ratings for George W. Bush. Though they constitute a voting bloc, the definition of ‘evangelical’ is somewhat mutable, and the population it encompasses is quite varied. By the end of Bush?s tenure in 2008, almost everyone was dissatisfied with him, but young, white evangelicals lost patience much more quickly and intensely than their older white counterparts. After having been among the president?s most ardent supporters, giving him an 87 percent approval rating in 2002, young evangelicals positively rated Bush at only 45 percent by 2007. Older evangelicals, meanwhile, approved of Bush at a peak rate of 80 percent in 2002, which declined to 52 percent in 2007, a significant but less sharp drop than the evangelical whippersnappers. At the time Pew thought the departure between the two age subsets within the evangelical population signaled an opening for Democrats to appeal to young evangelicals; what it really seems to have suggested is youthful dissatisfaction with the Republican party establishment.

Which, again, is nothing new. The evangelical-Republican alliance has always been a marriage of convenience, and it has been convenient primarily for Republicans. Evangelicals, being sensible observers of the world, have complained about this for some time. In 1988, televangelist Pat Robertson ran in the Republican primaries against George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole, citing an ultimate dissatisfaction with Reagan?s presidency. ?Reagan had been a good president, Robertson acknowledged,? Daniel K. Williams writes in God?s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right, ?but he was not conservative enough.? Which is to say: some evangelicals were disappointed that Reagan had failed to undo the court?s ruling in Roe v. Wade, and had cooperated to some extent with the United Nations, which Robertson and his ilk viewed as a prototype of an apocalyptic one-world government. Robertson vowed to do better by evangelical principles, though evangelical leaders never supported his run, just as they haven?t supported Trump?s.

And Robertson lost. None of this meant that the contingent of evangelicals who agreed with Robertson about the Republican establishment voted Democrat or not at all; according to Bush campaign advisor Doug Wead, George H. W. Bush won the 1988 election with a greater percentage of evangelical support than his son would earn in 2000. Robertson?s brief run demonstrated that evangelicals were and are canny enough to know when their votes are being treated as a foregone conclusion, and when their priorities are being ignored. They are wary, in other words, of lip service.

Which Trump is notably not providing. Everything that might register as an obvious lack of affinity with evangelical values?his inability to name a favorite Bible verse, his open Christmas-and-Easter attendance patterns, his ranking of the Bible as only a smidgen better than his own book?might be coming off as a sight better than the same old GOP pitch. Before joining his campaign, Trump?s national co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote in an email that ??[Trump] left [him] with questions about [Trump?s] moral center and his foundational beliefs,? adding that Trump?s ?comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal.?? And it might be, but Trump is brazenly straightforward about the whole affair, routinely supplying very little religious window dressing for what is primarily a revanchist campaign against the un-American, the un-patriotic, and the effeminate.

Meanwhile, Trump?s competitors for evangelical attention have compromised their credibility with Christian voters. In September of last year, Ted Cruz inexplicably took pot shots at Middle Eastern Christians gathered to protest violence against their countrymen because, in Cruz?s view, they were not sufficiently supportive of Israel. Mike Huckabee has busied himself making off-color remarks about the Holocaust and ingratiating himself in the most public way possible with the Duggar family, now marred by a child sex abuse cover-up scandal along with confessions of infidelity. Trump, for all his filthy dealings, has at least never painted his deeds with a veneer of Christian righteousness.

There are likely other things that account for Trump?s modest popularity among evangelicals: He has been a thoroughgoing antagonist of President Obama, who is in some evangelical imaginations the anti-Christ; he has a certain machismo, which appeals to evangelicals disgruntled with the ?feminized? state of our culture; he?s somehow fused issues of religious liberty in America (think lawsuits over wedding cakes) with issues of religious persecution abroad (think ISIS slaughtering Christians and Yazidis).

All of these appeals might draw the stray evangelical vote here or there. But if I had to surmise which subset of the evangelical category Trump has struck a chord with, I would guess it would be that intransigent Robertson crowd, the evangelicals who are perpetually dismayed with the Republican establishment Trump is now confounding. Does this mean they won?t fall in line when the eventual Republican nominee is chosen? Probably not. But between then and now there is plenty of time for cathartic polling.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig is a staff writer for The New Republic.

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Liberals Are Wrong to Separate Race from Class

After shutting down a Bernie Sanders speech at a Seattle rally for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Black Lives Matter activist Marissa Johnson declared to MSNBC?s Tamron Hall that she was motivated by a desire to hold liberal candidates accountable.

This is more than understandable. Despite boosting progressives? expectations, President Obama has continued to prosecute a shadowy global ?war on terror,? undermined public education by promoting charter schools, and reneged on promises to organized labor for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and to the American public for a truly universal health care system.

All this has certainly made clear the importance of holding putative liberals to their rhetoric, even for someone as young as Johnson, whose progressive political awakening only dates back to Trayvon Martin?s murder in 2012 at the hands of sociopathic vigilante George Zimmerman.

On some level, then, Johnson?s circumspection about Sanders and Gov. Martin O?Malley (no word on Clinton) could be considered encouraging, even if her decision to hijack the Sanders rally falls somewhere between arrogant (she represents no constituency to speak of) and politically misguided?many black lives, including both of my grandmothers?, have benefited greatly from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for decades.

If we could chalk up Johnson?s actions in Seattle to youthful hubris, this incident could be easily dismissed. However, as the interview on MSNBC continued, Johnson laid out a problematic perspective that has spread through the universe of activists, political operatives, and pundits plugged into Black Lives Matter.

Johnson cast Sanders?s perspective as that of ?basically a class reductionist.? She went on to say, ?[Sanders] never really had a strong analysis that there is racism and white supremacy that is separate than the economic things that everyone experiences.?

The horizontal organization of Black Lives Matter ensures a diversity of perspectives among participants and even branches. Nevertheless, the now-commonplace claim at the heart of the recent Black Lives Matter protests against Sanders is that white liberals have long reduced racism to class inequality in order to deflect attention from racial disparities.

This is not just wrong, but the formulation?which ultimately treats race as unchanging and permanent rather than a product of specific historical and political economic relations?undermines both the cause of racial equality in general and pursuit of equitable treatment in the criminal justice system in particular.

Indeed, Sanders is more likely to draw links between economic inequality generally and racial disparities in employment, housing, wealth and incarceration than President Carter, the Clintons, or even President Obama.

However, liberals have actually tended to divorce racial disparities from economic inequality for longer than Marissa Johnson, the founders of Black Lives Matter, or even I have been alive. Daniel Patrick Moynihan?s The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, for example, traced the ultimate source of the high rates of black poverty and unemployment (which were roughly twice that of whites?) to what some today would call systemic racism.

According to Moynihan, however, ?the racist virus that … afflicts all of us? set in motion a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and dependence that all but ensured that neither economic opportunity nor anti-discrimination policies alone would be able to close the income and employment gap between blacks and whites.

By the late 1980s, Moynihan?s dystopian vision?which presumed that African-American poverty had taken on a life of its own, making it nearly impervious to economic intervention?had become liberal orthodoxy.

While centrist liberals like Presidents Clinton and Obama have encouraged conversations about race and have been willing to concede that racism can undercut the life chances of blacks and Latinos, they are more likely to trace poverty and inequality to the habits, attitudes, and culture of the poor than to the disastrous effects of labor or trade policies or even the health of a particular sector of the economy.

Sanders is thus more likely to draw attention to the linkages between racism and class exploitation than the sitting Democratic president or other presidential contenders, not because he is a liberal?like centrist liberals Carter, the Clintons, or Obama?but because he is, by today?s narrow standards, a leftist.

Situating Sanders?s leftism in the proper historical frame is key to understanding the myopia that shapes some Black Lives Matter activists? criticism of him. The Sanders program?Medicare for all, a living wage, the right to collective bargaining, fair trade policies, free public higher education, etc.?sounds a lot less like the dictatorship of the proletariat than New Deal labor-liberalism.

And it?s New Deal?era black politics specifically?and what followed?that demonstrates the fundamental problem with the tendency of some activists, like Johnson, to treat race as ?its own thing,? distinct from class inequality.

Many contemporary activists, broadly defined, are quick to dismiss as racist deflection any attempts to view racial disparities through the lens of class inequality, but in the 1930s and 1940s mainstream African-American civil rights leaders?among them Lester Granger of the National Urban League, Walter White of the NAACP, John P. Davis of the National Negro Congress, and of course A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP)?frequently argued that precisely because most blacks were working class, racial equality could only be achieved through a combination of anti-discrimination policies and social-democratic economic policies.

But by the 1950s, the anticommunism of the Cold War had a chilling effect on class-oriented civil rights politics, setting the stage for analyses of racism that divorced prejudice from economic exploitation?the fundamental reason for slavery and Jim Crow. Indeed, this was the era in which racism was recast as a psychological affliction rather than a product of political economy.

As McCarthyism receded by the end of the 1950s, however, mainstream black civil rights leaders once again identified economic opportunity for all?decent-paying jobs and social-democratic policies?as essential to racial equality.

The black organizers of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (it is telling that ?Jobs and Freedom? are no longer part of collective reflections of the march), Randolph and Bayard Rustin?both of them socialists?were very clear about this.

Randolph?who more than twenty years earlier used the threat of a march on the nation?s capital to wrest the Fair Employment Practices Committee, a workplace anti-discrimination board, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt?asserted his continued support for a Fair Employment Practices Act, or what would eventually be known as affirmative action.

Still, even as Randolph was motivated by disparities in unemployment and income, he stated explicitly that anti-discrimination measures alone would do little to redress black poverty and unemployment which, he said, had less to do with racism or discrimination (which were certainly alive and thriving in 1963) than automation, mechanization, and deindustrialization.

One has to wonder if those who think Sanders got what was coming to him at Netroots Nation and in Seattle would today cast Randolph (Negro American Labor Council), along with Rustin, Whitney Young (National Urban League), Roy Wilkins (NAACP), John Lewis (SNCC), James Farmer (CORE), and Martin Luther King Jr (SCLC) as vulgar class reductionists.

This is why the March on Washington demands included not just anti-discrimination measures, but a full-employment economy, jobs programs, and a minimum-wage increase. Randolph and Rustin would go on to ally with economist Leon Keyserling to draft the 1966Freedom Budget For All, which laid out a plan for social-democratic policies addressing black poverty by confronting its ultimate source?the erosion of well-paying jobs for low-skilled workers that had once served as the pathway to the middle class for white people.

To be sure, black Americans did not share in the fruits of those jobs on an equal basis with whites between 1940 and 1953, and racism had a lot to do with that. But it should be noted that this period witnessed the biggest expansion in economic growth?meaning the racial income and employment gap closed substantially?that African Americans had ever seen.

Regardless, these well-paying jobs for low-skilled workers were not going away after 1954 because of racism; they were disappearing, as Randolph et al, argued, because of deindustrialization.

Even during the debates over affirmative action in the early 1960s, mainstream black leaders were clear that anti-discrimination measures alone were insufficient.

Most had initially supported the anti-discrimination bill put up by Sen. Hubert Humphrey (S-1937), which was wedded to a comprehensive jobs program. That, however, was deemed too ambitious and swept aside in favor of what we got: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

From Richard Nixon forward, the view that racism is inextricably linked to economic exploitation began a steady slide into oblivion, both because of the conservative turn in American politics generally and the limits of Black Power ideology that, ironically, meshed with the conservative turn.

The growing acceptance of the view that racism was distinct from economic inequality and capitalist exploitation set the stage for underclass ideology and ultimately the paradox of the Clinton presidency. Clinton, though popular with black voters, did quite a bit to undermine the material wellbeing of black Americans.

NAFTA (outside of construction, blacks are overrepresented among trade unionists, and trade unionists are overrepresented within the black middle class), the Omnibus Crime Act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, and HOPE VI (the federal housing initiative that demolished public housing for the poor in favor of private, upscale ?mixed income? developments, which ultimately displaced poor residents to the four winds) all had a disproportionately negative impact on blacks because they targeted poor and working-class people.

But despite the fact that these policies likely hurt African Americans more than any other racial demographic, Bill Clinton was and remains very popular with black people because he went to African-American churches and had black friends. This framework only works if one sees racism and economic marginality as two separate things?the worldview endorsed by Marissa Johnson and a host of liberal pundits, from Salon to MSNBC.

For that matter, President Obama?s ?Race to the Top? and Mayor Rahm Emanuel?s war on the Chicago Teachers Union have had a disproportionately negative impact on the African-American middle class because teachers are a vital part of the black middle class. And since the same can be said of public-sector employees generally, any official who calls for cuts to the public sector like Gov. Scott Walker is undercutting the black middle and working classes.

Sanders is therefore no more a class reductionist than the black leaders of the modern civil rights movement. And frankly, he and others who call for viewing racial disparities through the lens of neoliberal class warfare are often less guilty of deflection than those who suggest that racism and class exploitation occupy distinct terrain.

In separating the problem of police brutality from political economy, many activists?like, ironically, the liberal as opposed to left approach to racial inequality?not only undercut the opportunity for broader political alliances and perhaps some meaningful victories, but sidestep the same crucial point about police brutality that both liberals and conservatives look past.

Shortly after Michael Brown?s murder at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson, conservative radio talk show personality Michael Medved questioned the merits of the protests in Ferguson, MO by arguing that the majority of victims of police brutality are white, even if blacks are overrepresented. In Medved?s view, black whiners and guilty white liberals have exaggerated the pervasiveness of police misconduct, deflecting attention from the real problem African Americans face: so-called black-on-black crime.

While most people killed by police are indeed white, Medved?s claims proceeded from a narrow racialist framework that not only misrepresented the issues, but exhibited a similar disregard for political economy that some Black Lives Matter activists have displayed when discussing police brutality.

Specifically, there have been many publicized instances in which whites have been victims of police brutality or even egregious acts of prosecutorial misconduct (known as ?railroading?). Of course, the white victims of blatant misconduct and abuse are disproportionately poor and working class.

Examples include: James Boyd, the unarmed white homeless man murdered by Albuquerque police last March; Ryan Keith Bolinger, the unarmed white high school graduate and state fair groundskeeper killed by police in Des Moines, IA this June; and Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin?the teenaged trailer park residents known as the West Memphis Three?who were convicted on bogus evidence in a set of horrific murders before finally being released from prison in 2011 after more than eighteen years.

While black victims of police brutality obviously run the class gamut, the reality is that African-American victims of police excess are likewise disproportionately poor and working class.

According to some Sanders critics, the Sandra Bland tragedy makes clear that race is not reducible to class. As Thegrio.com?s Joy Reid asserted on a July 21 appearance on MSNBC?s The Ed Show, ?being gainfully employed … in Texas did not stop [Sandra Bland] from winding up dead.? Reid?like fellow guests Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson and former Ohio State Sen. and friend to the Clintons Nina Turner?questioned the relevance of O?Malley?s and Sanders?s focus on economic inequality to black Americans.

While there is no denying that a job did not insulate Bland from police misconduct, abuse of power, or even negligence on the part of corrections officers, it is worth considering here that the purpose of race in origin and its ongoing function today was and is to denote one?s socioeconomic status as well as one?s value as a laborer. From the start ?negro? and eventually ?colored? were essentially shorthand for highly exploitable laborers who, by the second third of the nineteenth century, were deemed to possess distinct, innate traits that made them uniquely suited to perform ?bad jobs??the most obvious example being slave labor.

Eventually, and this includes today, those alleged traits were also what made African Americans uniquely ?qualified? for mass unemployment and incarceration. For people we might call racists, ?black? and ?African American??despite changes in nomenclature?remain shorthand for ?poor person? and/or ?bad worker? today. Thus even in the mind of the average racist, race and class are inextricably linked.

One result of this reality is that irrespective of black people?s individual accomplishments?and this is one of the things that makes the Bland case seem especially tragic?African Americans are often treated by ?less than enlightened? workers in the criminal justice system, prospective employers, supervisors, school administrators, etc. in much the same way that poor white people are: as morally disreputable, intellectually suspect, and potentially dangerous.

If one views the excesses and failures of the criminal justice system solely through the lens of race, then victims of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct tend to be black or Latino. However, if one understands race and class are inextricably linked, then the victims of police brutality are not simply black or Latino (and Latinos outnumber blacks in federal prisons at this point) but they tend to belong to groups that lack political, economic, and social influence and power.

From that vantage point, the worldview expressed by Johnson and others misses the mark and falls into the same trap that, ironically, liberals have offered a stratum of credentialed black Americans for decades: opportunity within a market-driven political and economic framework that disparages demands for social and economic justice for all (including most black people) as socialist, communist, un-American, or even class-reductionist.

Originally published at Jacobin, a print and online magazine that offers socialist perspectives on politics and economics.

Touré F. Reed is an associate professor of history at Illinois State University.

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Don?t eat toad

Folk remedies can go terribly wrong.

A 70-year-old man in Shanghai was sent to hospital after eating three boiled toads believing it to be a folk remedy for his skin disease, Jiefang Daily said yesterday.

The man, surnamed Gao, had a skin disease for many years. He was told eating toads could help clear toxins in the body and was an effective treatment for skin diseases, the report said.

Source: Man in hospital after eating 3 boiled toads | Shanghai Daily

In July 2013, a woman also in Shanghai died after eating toad soup. She had cancer but the toad toxins killed her. It seems plausible that this happens more often and we don?t hear about it. Dogs are often victims of the bufotoxin when they eat the toads. There are several types of toxic substances found in different toads? skin and glands. So poisoning can occur even by just handling some toads.

Some toads are used as aphrodisiacs. Death can result.

Consumption of toads for their aphrodisiac effect is a common practice in Laos, China and in some parts of India. Toad secretions from parotid and skin contains toxin similar to cardiac glycosides. It results in bradycardia and cardiac dysfunction leading on to death in some cases. We report a case of toad poisoning in a young previously healthy male.

Source: An interesting case of cardiotoxicity due to bufotoxin (toad toxin). ? PubMed

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Republicans Come to Terms with Their Worst Trump Nightmare

The tenor of Republican Party rhetoric has darkened. Until recently, most Republican candidates and strategists regarded Donald Trump?s presidential campaign as something ephemeral?a flash in the pan; a storm to be waited out. Now they are openly contemplating the possibility that he could win, or at least ride his steady support all the way to the Republican nominating convention next summer, leaving havoc in his wake.

Consider:

  • On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said, “If Donald Trump is the nominee, that?s the end of the Republican Party.?
  • Also on Tuesday, Graham?s home state of South Carolina?the first southern state to hold a primary?announced that it would require candidates to sign a pledge promising to support the Republican presidential nominee in the general election, and not launch an independent candidacy. Trump has thus far refused to make such a promise.
  • After a Monday focus group brought Trump?s appeal to the Republican grassroots into sharp relief, GOP pollster Frank Luntz had a mini anxiety attack. ?You guys understand how significant this is?? Luntz asked reporters. ?This is real. I?m having trouble processing it. Like, my legs are shaking.?

As much as Trump himself is an outgrowth of the reckless way conservatives have stoked the resentment of the Republican Party base, his durability is also an outgrowth of an electoral process conservatives have shaped aggressively. Even if Trump?s ceiling of support is around 30 percent, it?s enough to ride out the primary process?and retain the lead?in a fractured field where almost every candidate has a wealthy patron or two.

In a better-controlled environment, Trump would be a less potent force. As the frontrunner, though, he?s steering the policy debate in ways that have Republican donors and strategists deeply spooked. As Greg Sargent writes at the Washington Post, ?his willingness to say what other Republicans won?t has forced out into the open genuine policy debates among Republicans that had previously been shrouded in vagueness or imprisoned within party orthodoxy.?

Right now, Trump has his hand on the third rail of Republican politics. He?s arguing that wealthy people shouldn?t get a pass on paying regular federal income taxes. ?The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. You know the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys, but I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing, and it?s ridiculous, okay??

For almost any candidate, promising to reduce taxes on rich people is the price of admission into the Republican primary. Trump, by contrast, is poised not only to survive this apostasy, but to singe any of the more orthodox rivals who challenge him.

Senator Marco Rubio?s tax plan represents the most pointed contrast to Trump?s middle-class populism. Rubio proposes not just to lower the top marginal income tax rate, but to completely zero out capital gains taxes. To escape scrutiny for offering such a huge sop to the wealthy, Rubio plans to fall back on his origin story?as the son of a bartender who worked at a hotel financed by investors, Rubio can elide the typical criticisms of trickle-down economics, by claiming to be a direct beneficiary of it. This might be an effective diversion against a Democratic politician promising to increase people?s taxes, but against a rapacious developer like Trump, it falls completely flat. Trump would love nothing more than for a career elected official like Rubio to lecture him about the impact tax rates have on investment and growth. Trump has managed to survive in the business world at a number of different capital gains tax rates, whereas Rubio has struggled to stay afloat, and racked up high levels of credit card debt, in the working world.

If Trump were running an insurgent candidacy against Rubio and one other viable Republican, a supply-side platform would fare pretty well. Republican base voters aren?t as doctrinaire about taxes as Republican elites are, but they still support cutting taxes by a significant margin. In a smaller field, Rubio might be the standard bearer. Instead, the standard bearer claims to want to raise taxes on the rich. And much to the dismay of just about everyone else in the Republican Party, he isn?t going anywhere.

Brian Beutler is a senior editor at The New Republic.

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