We Brought the Sickness With US

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One of the most fascinating aspects of popular interpretation of American History, especially among the Christian nation believers, is the assumption that everything started fresh, that American history started when we got here and is not connected to anything that happened before. This leads to a dangerously simplistic and naive perspective that ignores and denies previous social reality.

Like many, I was taught that the Puritans left England, then Holland, because they were persecuted for their religion. Actually, while they were suppressed in England, that could hardly be called "persecution"; and they left Holland because they saw their children acculturating and did not like that. And the settlers who made Virginia a success - not the original incompetents - were refugees from the English Civil War,  in other words, the losers in that conflict.

We did not start fresh.

Albion's Seed demonstrates convincingly that we brought our cultural traditions and perspectives with us, mostly from 4 specific regions in England: The Puritans into New England, the Quakers into Pennsylvania, the Cavaliers into Virginia and further South, and Borderlanders (mostly from the border between England and Scotland) through Pennsylvania into the Appalachians, Kentucky and Tennessee. While each of these four cultures adapted, the survival of cultural traditions remained strong and pervasive.

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'Throw the Bums Out' in 2014? It Doesn't Look Good

If the hatred of one side cancels out the other, is what needs to give the idea that either party is currently on the right path? (Photo: USA Today)

If the hatred of one side cancels out the other, is what needs to give the idea that either party is currently on the right path? (Photo: USA Today)

A polarized and disenfranchised electorate is fueling Congressional gridlock, but can the country stand it much longer?

Published on Thursday, January 2, 2014 by Common Dreams - Jon Queally, staff writer

What's the worst thing about the current 113th Congress which has been marked for accomplishing next to nothing legislatively in 2013, elevating the phrase "partisan gridlock in Washington, DC" as the most notable topic of political discussion of the year?

The worst part is that the squabbling and dysfunction are likely to continue through to the 2014 midterm elections and likely beyond.

At least that's the finding of an analysis published in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that shows—even though numerous polls reflect a consistent and "unprecedented level of contempt for Congress"—that a majority of voters "dislike members of the other party most" which in turn means that "any partisan shift in November's election will be modest."

And because political gerrymandering has been so scientifically executed in recent years, without a radical shift in public thinking or a populist groundswell capable of overwhelming the status quo, the idea that one party will vastly overpower the other seems unlikely, according to a focus group study conducted in Ohio, a state often cited as representing national political trends.

As the LA Times reports:

... selective [public] outrage works against the sort of throw-the-bums-out election that would produce wholesale, across-the-board upheaval in the House. After several elections that produced considerable turnover, including Republicans' 63-seat gain in 2010, the likeliest outcome in 2014 is a comparatively modest partisan shift.

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Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism

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From infiltration to spying to mass hacking, new report exposes corporate espionage against social justice organizations

Published on CommonDreams.org - Sarah Lazare, staff writer

A chilling report released Wednesday unveils the well-funded and shadowy world of corporate espionage of social justice organizations, through infiltration, intrusion, spying, wiretaps and more.

According to the study by the Center for Corporate Policy—a project of the Ralph Nader-affiliated Essential Action, today's 'Pinkerton Thugs' are staffed by former law enforcement, CIA, NSA, FBI and military employees, funded by some of the biggest-name corporations in the world, and backed by highly-secretive investigative firms that operate as spy agencies for the private sector.

Titled Spooky Business, the 53-page study pieces together nearly 20 years of information exposing this hidden wing of the private sector, which its author Gary Ruskin says "is just the tip of the iceberg." While targets run the gamut, from anti-war to workers' rights groups to environmental organizations, they appear to have one thing in common: they are perceived as a threat to the corporate bottom-line.

"The key finding of the report is that corporations are conducting espionage against nonprofit organizations," said Ruskin in an interview with Common Dreams. "This is entirely veiled in secrecy and is a threat to an active citizenry, democracy, and the right to privacy."

Numerous case studies show that multinational corporations, trade associations and big banks have attempted to or actively conducted acts of espionage. This includes (but is not limited to) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON.

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Children Locked Up For Life: 10 Shockers About America's Prison System

Children Locked Up For Life: 10 Shockers About America's Prison System
Twice as many people rot in prison for crack use than for violent crimes. Children are being locked up for life. What's wrong with our criminal justice system?
November 7, 2013 |

Even if we already know the statistic, hearing it is pretty chilling: one out of every 100 Americans is behind bars, by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. Things get even more terrifying when we look at the impact of the criminal justice system on particular marginalized communities.One in three African-American males born today will likely spend some time on the inside. With terms like the prison-industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline now part of our daily political lexicon, we know that things are bad.

But exactly how bad are they? Here are 10 reasons why our criminal justice system is even more obscene than you thought.

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Four Tibetans Shot Dead as Protests Spread in Driru County

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Three Tibetans from Sengthang village and one Tibetan from Tinring village were killed when the Chinese opened fire on protesters in the week.

The shooting deaths in Driru county on Tuesday were the first reported fatalities since the authorities began a crackdown on Tibetans protesting against orders to fly the Chinese flag from their homes.

Additional paramilitary forces have been sent to Driru from Lhasa and from Nagchu, and some have also been sent from the Karmo region.

Driru is now flooded with Chinese paramilitary police, and Tibetans are being stopped from traveling.

Today we find out if the international community is prepared to robustly scrutinize China's human rights record in Tibet.

As UN Member States gather at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to take part in China's Universal Periodic Review. The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council under which each member state undergoes an evaluation of its commitments and progress on human rights. At China's first review in 2009, all recommendations from member states related to "ethnic minorities" were summarily rejected.

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