Medical ethicist takes scholarly look at euthanasia debate from the hospital bedside –

Medical ethicist takes scholarly look at euthanasia debate from the hospital bedside
Dr. Sandra Taylor adjusts her microphone at the conclusion of her speech on doctor-assisted suicide at the Probus Club of Perth at their monthly meeting on June 1 at the Timber Run Golf Club in Lanark village.


Medical ethicist takes scholarly look at euthanasia debate from the hospital bedside –

Medical ethicist takes scholarly look at euthanasia debate from the hospital bedside
Dr. Sandra Taylor adjusts her microphone at the conclusion of her speech on doctor-assisted suicide at the Probus Club of Perth at their monthly meeting on June 1 at the Timber Run Golf Club in Lanark village.


Resistance to Authority in Greece as Pessimism Takes Hold – New York Times

New York Times
Resistance to Authority in Greece as Pessimism Takes Hold
New York Times
LONDON — Yiorgos Kaminis has the privilege and misfortune of being the mayor of Athens, the suffering heart of bankrupt Greece, marked by both the majesty of the Parthenon and a relentless wave of graffiti hooligans, whose work he does not have the …
Greece approves reform bill, eyes bailout trancheReuters
Greece approves reform bill on eve of eurogroup meetingFinancial Times

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Skype takes on Google Hangouts with shareable chat links – VentureBeat

Skype takes on Google Hangouts with shareable chat links
Skype has finally added the one feature that makes Google Hangouts so much easier to use: shareable chat links. This means you can now use Skype to chat with anyone, not just the people in your contact list. To get started, download the new versions of …
Skype Wants More Users With Chat Invite Via Shareable Link FeatureSTGIST
Skype Catches Up With Hangouts, Adds In Shareable Link Feature To ChatsThe Tech Portal
A new, easier way to start Skype conversations – invite anyone to join Skype Blogs
Office Blogs
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Trump Takes on the World

Donald Trump speaks with reporters

(Image: Shutterstock / a katz)

It was 1972. The flamboyant rock star Alice Cooper, not quite a household name at that point in England, was booked to play London’s Wembley Stadium. Shortly before the concert date, only a couple hundred of the 7,000 available tickets had been sold.

Facing an epic failure, the redoubtable rock music promoter Shep Gordon emblazoned the side of a truck with a huge picture of Alice Cooper, naked except for a boa constrictor covering his genitals. As recounted in the recent documentarySupermensch, Gorden then instructed the driver of the truck to break down in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. Traffic was backed up for blocks. The press turned out to see what was going on. And so did the photographers.

The portrait of the unclad Cooper outraged British sensibility. The next day, newspapers were full of headlines and commentary about how degenerate American music was corrupting English culture.

Cooper immediately sold out his Wembley show.

Shep Gordon realized early on an important feature of celebrity culture. It’s long been true that all PR is good PR. But you also need to know your target audience. If parents denounce the demonic Alice Cooper, their children will surely rush out to buy tickets.

Donald Trump, the tone-deaf politician who acts as if he were a rock star, also knows his target audience.

Trump knows that if he sends mainstream politicians and establishment pundits and talking heads on TV into fits of pique, his target audience will only tighten their embrace of the rogue billionaire. The more that George Will and Megyn Kelly insinuate that the Donald is a political mayfly, destined for the briefest electoral lifespan, the more a certain segment of the voting population will rally around the self-proclaimed outsider as their preferred choice to lead the country.

After the first candidate debate, opinion polls among registered Republicans put Trump in a commanding lead over second-place Jeb Bush, 24 percent to 13 percent. Trump is also on top in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two primary states.

What attracts voters to Donald Trump may well be his celebrity status and his genius at stoking the passions of his target demographic. What might well get them ultimately to cast a vote for the noxious tycoon, however, will be his stated policies and particularly his vision of the world. It’s worth, therefore, taking a look at Donald Trump’s foreign policy, even if the exercise seems somewhat ludicrous, like analyzing Kim Kardashian’s take on macroeconomics or Eminem’s analysis of abstract expressionism.

After all, even if Donald Trump does obey the general rule of mouthy outsiders and flame out, his take on the world may well insinuate its way into the platforms of his fellow Republican candidates for president. Indeed, on some issues, the Donald has already made his mark.

Mouth Not Memo

It’s tempting to see Donald Trump through the eyes of Key and Peele, the comic duo just wrapping up their final season on Comedy Central. In perhaps their most famous sketch, the preternaturally calm President Obama gives a speech alongside his anger translator. The president can’t give voice to his real feelings of rage — against the stupidity of his political opposition, the inanity of American racism — but his anger translator can vent freely.

Similarly, Donald Trump has emerged as the anger translator for the entire Republican cadre of presidential hopefuls. They’re concerned about gaffes and polls and focus groups. Trump seemingly couldn’t care less. He has eschewed memos — too bureaucratic-sounding — in favor of his mouth, which is connected directly to his gut rather than his brain.

As such, Trump has vented his anger at the “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” that Mexico is supposedly sending into the United States (if anything, increased immigration has decreased crime rates because immigrants are less likely than the native born to commit crimes). He’s slammed China for out-competing America economically (which hasn’t stopped him from concluding his own business deals with the country). He has railed against U.S. allies like Germany (for not leading more on the Ukraine conflict), South Korea (for not bearing more costs of U.S. military operations in Asia), and Saudi Arabia (for not giving America more of a quid pro quo for all the petrodollars it makes).

“Trump’s foreign policy agenda is a distillation of other GOP candidates’ platforms, but without a filter or appreciation for nuance,” concludes Alex Christensen. “His foreign policy as president would unpredictably put relations with U.S. allies on ice and be unlikely to produce détente with others.”

Trump’s foreign policy isn’t particularly detailed (he promises full policies in September). Where it is detailed, it’s often incoherent (his proposal to force Mexico to pay for a huge wall in the American southwest has made even conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin apoplectic). And where it’s not incoherent, it’s often contradictory (he hasn’t seemed to work out whether he’s a fan or a foe of Vladimir Putin). In a tribute to Trump’s “flexibility” in The Washington Post, David Fahrenthold counted up seven different versions of the candidate’s approach to the Islamic State.

It’s White People, Stupid

But none of that matters. We don’t watch reality TV to learn things. We’re drawn to the utter spectacle of it all.

And Trump is a spectacle, a very slow-motion car crash that the press and the public rubbernecks to ogle. He’s a renegade white guy, like the Michael Douglas character in the 1993 film Falling Down, who bemoans the multicultural direction America has taken. Trump is politically incorrect, which works intermittently for a comic like Bill Maher but should spell instant doom for a politician.

But political incorrectness can work for a guy like Trump because white men are the core constituency of the Republican Party.

Sure, the party can point to Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and even Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush as evidence of its newfound commitment to diversity. But don’t be taken in by this façade — Donald Trump hasn’t been. The consummate businessman, he’s run the numbers on the primary. He knows that 95 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters are white.

That’s Trump’s target demographic. That’s Trump’s trump card.

Pissing off women, Latinos, immigrants — that’s the political equivalent of pissing off the parents of Alice Cooper fans. Outrage sells tickets. And outrage will motivate Trump’s core constituency to put up yard signs and flock to the primary polls. It won’t, however, work in the general elections. The last time the white vote played a pivotal role in the presidential elections was 2004.

Of course, it’s been difficult for Trump to play anger translator for a Republican field full of irritable and often downright irate candidates. There’s Mike Huckabee saying that the nuclear deal with Iran is “marching [Israel] to the door of the oven.” There’s Ted Cruz calling undocumented immigrants a “clear and present danger to the health and safety of all Americans.” There’s Rick Santorum, who says that President Obama “rewards everything a country does to oppose and hurt the United States, hurt our economy, hurt our ability to protect ourselves.”

Also, Trump’s anger-fueled idiocy is contagious. His competitors have begun to echo his views, particularly on immigration. As the Post reports:

In Iowa, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also began to call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, echoing a longtime Trump demand. Walker said the separation barrier between Israel and the Palestinian territories is proof that the concept could work here.

Walker also seemed to echo Trump by questioning “birthright citizenship,” the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to anyone born in this country. After a reporter asked if birthright citizenship should be ended, Walker said: “I think that’s something we should — yeah, absolutely, going forward.”

Walker wants to reproduce the Arab-Israeli conflict in U.S.-Mexico relations? He wants to change a key provision of the constitution that’s made America a proud nation of immigrants? It’s one thing for Trump to spout nonsense, and quite another for a sitting governor to give those ideas the thinnest veneer of respectability.

Digging Deeper

What makes Trump particularly dangerous are his heterodox views. He’s not a cookie-cutter conservative. Sure, he is (newly) anti-abortion, pro-Wall Street, anti-Obamacare, and pro-family (except those of the undocumented). And he courts the lunatic fringe by refusing to give up on his “birther” beliefs.

But Trump has also staked out some truly populist positions. He’s come out squarely against free trade deals and wants to get American companies to stop outsourcing their manufacturing. He’s supported a wealth tax on the richest individuals to help pay for Social Security (though it’s unclear whether he still supports his earlier proposal). He wants to rebuild American infrastructure. He complained about the undue influence of corporate lobbyists in a recent Meet the Press interview.

Trump is also wary of military interventions. He emphasizes his opposition to the Iraq war. He’s lukewarm about NATO. He doesn’t want to get into a conflict with Russia. He confided to Maureen Dowd that he can make deals with anyone, from Putin to Kim Jong Un.

But he’s not an anti-militarist by nature, as demonstrated by his vacillating position on the Islamic State — which has involved, at various times, bombing, the seizure of oil fields in Iraq, and the introduction of ground troops. Trump can be just as gung ho about intervention as the next Republican if he thinks it’s what the public wants.

Alert to public desires, Trump is all persona and no substance, and all we can do is marvel at the chutzpah of his playacting. It’s amazing that a billionaire CEO can palm himself off as a friend of the working class. It’s amazing that a consummate insider can pretend to be an authentic political outsider. It’s amazing that a guy who never fought in a war can bad-mouth former POW John McCain and not suffer any remorse or repercussions.

Put crudely, Donald Trump is the closest thing the United States currently has to an authentic European-style fascist. He’s stirred together not-so-veiled racism, crude economic populism, and male bravado into a powerful snake oil. Throw in a bit of recycled Reaganism — “make America great again!” — and you get a garbled version of good old American triumphalism. Say that last bit 10 times fast, and it comes out: Trumpism.

Given the demographics of the Republican Party these days, this Trumpism can triumph in the primaries. It can push the Republican Party to further extremes of lunacy. But unless people of conscience sit on their hands in November 2016, it won’t put Trump in the White House.

The post Trump Takes on the World appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.


South Valley ag takes drought’s brunt – Visalia Times-Delta

Visalia Times-Delta
South Valley ag takes drought's brunt
Visalia Times-Delta
That's about one-fifth more land than was forced out of production by the drought last year, researchers noted. “Feed, grain and field crops have the largest proportional cuts in irrigated acreage under drought conditions, because they hold a lower

and more »


Obama Takes Unexpected Setback On Trade Agenda As Fast Track Passes … – Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Obama Takes Unexpected Setback On Trade Agenda As Fast Track Passes
Huffington Post
The department cites forced labor problems in Malaysia's palm oil industry, and nonprofit groups have noted similar abuses in the Malaysian electronics industry. The State Department report says Malaysian "public officials … may profit from

and more »


Bird flu epidemic takes toll on health of Hormel’s Jennie-O – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Bird flu epidemic takes toll on health of Hormel's Jennie-O
Minneapolis Star Tribune
At least 29 turkey suppliers to the Hormel unit have been hit by the virus, forcing cuts in production. hide. Twenty-nine Jennie-O … The flu has disrupted the turkey industry's supply chain, and no major poultry company is feeling that more than

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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Takes Aim at Wendy’s – In These Times

In These Times
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Takes Aim at Wendy's
In These Times
During the CIW's 234-mile March for Dignity, Dialogue and a Living Wage from Fort Myers, Fla., to the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association's headquarters in Orlando, Fla., students, largely based in Florida near Immokalee, marched with the workers


It Takes a Mentor

Tax Credits/Flickr

Tax Credits/Flickr

As high school seniors start to churn out their college applications, elite campuses are trying to catch the attention of high-achieving and gifted low-income students around the country.

It may be hard to believe, but schools like Harvard University and Amherst College are opening their doors to more highly qualified high school students who grew up facing economic hardship yet can thrive in their campuses. Given the record sizes of the endowments supporting the most selective schools, these full rides won’t bust their budgets.

At $ 1.8 billion, for example, Amherst’s endowment amounts to about $ 1 million per student.

This means Harvard can turn out to be more affordable than your own state school. But the path from a poor neighborhood to an elite college, as Richard Pérez-Peña recently wrote in The New York Times, is almost impossible to travel without the support of teachers or mentors who know how to guide students through the process.

I’ve been there and I couldn’t agree more.

Many of my friends in the Albuquerque, New Mexico neighborhood where I grew up got pregnant by the time they hit 10th grade. Around two out of three of the students I grew up with dropped out of high school and at most 10 percent got a college degree. The rates are even lower when you account for race, class, immigration status, and gender.

It took Alan Marks, a seasoned educator and Stanford University graduate who has dedicated his career to helping students in my community attend college and mentoring them, to introduce me to my potential.

Marks encouraged me to take demanding college classes while I was still in high school and to participate in extra-curricular activities I felt passionate about. He recommended summer courses, invited me on trips to visit campuses, helped me study for standardized tests, and told me that I should consider applying to the top schools in the nation.

By senior year I had a 4.4 GPA, five college-level courses under my belt, and an idea of the schools I wanted to apply to. But even with his guidance, I found the application process daunting.

The first time I looked at the tuition pages for the top-ranked schools, I balked. It cost upward of $ 55,000 a year to attend them, a price tag my mom, a domestic worker, and dad, an auto body worker, could never afford to pay.

“Their financial aid packages are generous,” my mentor assured me. You won’t have to worry.”

His encouragement and unyielding support led me to four years at Amherst College for which I paid less than $ 10,000. The total was less than what I would have paid to attend one of New Mexico’s public universities for one year.

And the $ 10,000 paid for much more than four years of college classes.

Amherst’s comprehensive financial aid package paid for my tuition, fees, room and board, two round-trip flights a year, health insurance, personal expenses, and research opportunities. All I had to worry about was a minimal student contribution. I paid for that with a mix of outside scholarships, summer jobs, and negligible student loans.

Amherst, however, is one of very few schools willing to do what it takes to boost its economic diversity. Thanks, in part, to the commitment of its former president Anthony W. Marx to attract students from all walks of life, at least 20 percent of its students come from working class and poor households. Harvard, Vassar, Smith, and Pomona also enroll more low-income students than other competitive schools.

But it’s not enough for these top colleges to offer generous financial aid packages to low-income students with great grades.

More educators and mentors who work with economically challenged yet high-achieving students need to encourage and help those kids consider applying to and attending those schools. And qualified, low-income students need to know that earning a degree from a top-notch school could turn out to be within their reach.

So, as I ask high school seniors who can relate to my story, what are you waiting for? Apply to your dream Ivy League universities.

There’s nothing to lose except a great opportunity.

The post It Takes a Mentor appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Diana Anahi Torres is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.