Author Archive | Good German

How We Punish People for Being Poor

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Rebecca Vallas writes at Talk Poverty:

This past weekend, I was part of a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry with New York Times reporter Michael Corkery, whose reporting on the rise in subprime auto loans is as horrifying as it is important.

In what seems a reprisal of the predatory practices that led up to the subprime mortgage crisis, low-income individuals are being sold auto loans at twice the actual value of the car, with interest rates as high as 29 percent. They can end up with monthly payments of $500—more than most of the borrowers spend on food in a month, and certainly more than most can realistically afford. Many dealers appear in essence to be setting up low-income borrowers to fail.

Dealers are also making use of a new collection tool called a “starter-interrupter device” that allows them not only to track a borrower’s movements through GPS, but to shut off a car with the tap of a smartphone—which many dealers do even just one or two days after a borrower misses a payment.

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The Resurrection of Gary Webb: Will Hollywood Give Journalist Last Word Against CIA’s Media Apologists?

The new film, "Kill the Messenger," dramatizes Gary Webb’s investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. “national security”) and their connection to L.A.’s biggest crack dealer, “Freeway” Ricky Ross. (Public domain)

The new film, “Kill the Messenger,” dramatizes Gary Webb’s investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. “national security”) and their connection to L.A.’s biggest crack dealer, “Freeway” Ricky Ross. (Public domain)

Jeff Cohen writes at Common Dreams:

It’s been almost a decade since once-luminous investigative journalist Gary Webb extinguished his own life.

It’s been 18 years since Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in the San Jose Mercury News exploded across a new medium – the Internet – and definitively linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA’s rightwing Contra army in Nicaragua. Webb’s revelations sparked anger across the country, especially in black communities.

But the 1996 series (which was accompanied by unprecedented online documentation) also sparked one of the most ferocious media assaults ever on an individual reporter – a less-than-honest backlash against Webb by elite newspapers that had long ignored or suppressed evidence of CIA/Contra/cocaine connections.

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As ISIS Slaughters Kurds in Kobani, the U.S. Bombs Syrian Grain Silos

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Ajamu Baraka writes at CounterPunch:

The U.S. is conducting a curious humanitarian war against ISIS in Syria. While Kobani, the largely Kurdish district that straddles the border with Turkey is being attacked by ISIS forces and facing the very real possibility of mass civilian killings if it falls, U.S. military spokespersons claimed that they are watching the situation in Kobani and have conducted occasional bombing missions but that they are concentrating their anti-ISIS efforts in other parts of Syria. Those other efforts appear to consist of bombing empty buildings, schools, small oil pumping facilities, an occasional vehicle and grain silos where food is stored to feed the Syrian people. Turkey also seems to be watching as the Kurds of Kobani fight to the death against ISIS.

The humanitarian concerns of officials in the U.S. with the plight of Kurds in Kobani could not be more different than what occurred in Iraq when ISIS forces made a push into Kurdish territory.

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Childhood Psychological Abuse Is Sometimes More Harmful than Sexual or Physical Abuse

By Run Jane Fox via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Run Jane Fox via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused, yet psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in treating victims, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training,” said study lead author Joseph Spinazzola, PhD, of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts. The article appears in a special online issue of the APA journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Researchers used the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set to analyze data from 5,616 youths with lifetime histories of one or more of three types of abuse: psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse or emotional neglect), physical abuse and sexual abuse.

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Screens: the New Plague

By Andrew Magill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Andrew Magill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

You’re looking at one right now!

Robby Sherwin writes at CounterPunch:

“Screens, Screens, everywhere there’s Screens, breaking up the scenery and blocking out my mind”………with a post-prescient nod to The Five Man Electrical Band and their 1971 hit, “Signs”.

I’m guilty. Let’s get this out of the way and off the table right up front. I spend too much time “connected”; Facebook, Texts, Emails, Google, I’m down with most of them but am resisting the Tweet, Ping and many of the instant gratification apps I could be indulging in.

I’m working on it. I’m working my steps.

But the phenomenon is so pervasive, so distracting, so consuming, that I see a new generation of addiction clinic models already thinking about how to profit off the detoxing of Americans from their Screens. Can it be far away that horrific accidents, caused by texting, are proven to be crimes and effective defense lawyers begin promulgating “by reason of text addiction” as a viable defense strategy?

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Schools Need to Learn the Importance of Recess

By Bruce McKay via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Bruce McKay via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Jesse Hagopian writes at the Seattle Times:

MY 5-year-old is bursting at the seams with excitement with the start of kindergarten this year. He tells me he wants to learn to tell time, tie his shoes, learn a new language, play basketball and make new friends. He attends an increasingly rare school that allows a decent amount of time for recess — something research has shown supports academics, healthy friendships and healthy bodies.

The average time Seattle students spend in recess has steadily declined over the past few years, according to a May KUOW investigative story. When the study tracking recess began four years ago, only one Seattle school reported an average recess time of 20 minutes or less per day. During the 2013-2014 school year, some 11 schools offered that sort of a recess.

What’s worse, the schools with the shortest recess times enroll disproportionately more low-income students and students of color.

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Fear Incorporated: Terrorism as Thorazine

Compared to nearly a decade and a half of war, extrajudicial killing, and occupations, we know that conventional intelligence and police work has been extraordinarily effective at preventing terrorist attacks here in the US, and it has done so at a relatively low cost. (Image: Stock / Public domain)

Compared to nearly a decade and a half of war, extrajudicial killing, and occupations, we know that conventional intelligence and police work has been extraordinarily effective at preventing terrorist attacks here in the US, and it has done so at a relatively low cost. (Image: Stock / Public domain)

John Atcheson writes at Common Dreams:

In 2003 we invaded Iraq with no real reason being offered.  Hundreds of thousands protested.

We’re in the process of doing it again, and again, no credible reasons are being offered, but no one is taking to the streets.  We are as amiable sheep, heading to slaughter.

Back in 2003, Bush, Cheney and the neocons said it was part of the “war on terror.”  But there was no link between al Qaeda and Iraq; were no WMDs; and the strategy of “fighten’ over there so’s we wouldn’t have to fight them here” never made a lick of sense.  The strategy of invade and occupy is costing us $4.4 trillion, resulting in 6,617 US troop deaths and counting, millions of civilian casualties, and causing an exponential increase in the number of terrorists.

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US Relaxing Standards for Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Sarah Lazare writes at Common Dreams:

The Obama administration has admitted that it is relaxing its standards for avoiding civilian deaths when it comes to ongoing air bombardments on Iraq and Syria.

Yahoo News reported Tuesday that Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told the news outlet that a standard imposed last year by President Obama, which requires “near certainty” that civilians will not be harmed in drone strikes, does not apply to the expanding war on Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria.

Journalist Michael Isikoff reports:

The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

Hayden added that U.S.

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Is This All Humans Are? Diminutive Monsters of Death and Destruction?

By Javier Ábalos Alvarez via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Javier Ábalos Alvarez via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

George Monbiot writes at the Guardian:

You want to know who we are? Really? You think you do, but you will regret it. This article, if you have any love for the world, will inject you with a venom – a soul-scraping sadness – without an obvious antidote.

The Anthropocene, now a popular term among scientists, is the epoch in which we live: one dominated by human impacts on the living world. Most date it from the beginning of the industrial revolution. But it might have begun much earlier, with a killing spree that commenced two million years ago. What rose onto its hind legs on the African savannahs was, from the outset, death: the destroyer of worlds.

Before Homo erectus, perhaps our first recognisably human ancestor, emerged in Africa, the continent abounded with monsters. There were several species of elephants.

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