PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Eugene Debs and the Kingdom of Evil” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 04.02.2017 ☮

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.—Eugene Victor Debs, whose home is an infrequently visited museum on the campus of Indiana State University, was arguably the most important political figure of the 20th century. He built the socialist movement in America and was eventually crucified by the capitalist class when he and hundreds of thousands of followers became a potent political threat.

Debs burst onto the national stage when he organized a railroad strike in 1894 after the Pullman Co. cut wages by up to one-third but did not lower rents in company housing or reduce dividend payments to its stockholders. Over a hundred thousand workers staged what became the biggest strike in U.S. history on trains carrying Pullman cars.

The response was swift and brutal.

“Mobilizing all the powers of capital, the owners, representing twenty-four railroads with combined capital of $818,000,00, fought back with the courts and the armed forces of the Federal government behind them,” Barbara W. Tuchman writes in “The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.” “Three thousand police in the Chicago area were mobilized against the strikers, five thousand professional strikebreakers were sworn in as Federal deputy marshals and given firearms; ultimately six thousand Federal and State troops were brought in, less for the protection of property and the public than to break the strike and crush the union.”

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Larry Hamm: History is the Present” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges is joined by Larry Hamm, Chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress. They discuss the history of oppression of African Americans in the U.S. and the relentless struggle for racial equality.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Wallace Shawn: The Fragility of Empire” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges is joined by actor, playwright and essayist Wallace Shawn. You way recognize Shawn from films such as Princess Bride, but he is also a thoughtful playwright and is out with a new book, “Night Thoughts”.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton: The Uncivil War” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges is joined by Max Blumenthal, author and Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and Ben Norton, reporter for Alternet. Following the American missile attacks on a Syrian airbase in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack, they discuss the U.S. role in the Syrian conflict.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Nikhil Goyal: The Failing Education System” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses how to salvage the American education system with Nikhil Goyal, author of “Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice”. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil explores the regimentation of education spurred by the No Child Left Behind Act.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “A Nation of the Walking Dead” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 04.02.2017 ☮

 

Opioids and experiences that simulate the deadening effects of narcotics are mechanisms to keep us submissive and depoliticized. Desperate citizens in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel “Brave New World” ingested the pleasure drug soma to check out of reality. Our own versions of soma allow tens of millions of Americans to retreat daily into addictive mousetraps that generate a self-induced autism.

The United States consumes 80 percent of opioids used worldwide, and more than 33,000 died in this country in 2015 from opioid overdoses. There are 300 million prescriptions written and $24 billion spent annually in the U.S. for painkillers. Americans supplement this mostly legal addiction with over $100 billion a year in illicit marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. And nearly 14 million U.S. adults, one in every 13, regularly abuse alcohol.

But these monetary figures are far less than what we spend on gambling. Americans in 2013 lost $119 billion gambling, with an additional $70 billion—or $300 for every adult in the country—spent on lottery tickets.

Federal and state governments, reliant on tax revenues from legal gambling and on lottery ticket sales, will do nothing to halt the expansion of the industry or the economic and psychological toll it exacts on those in financial distress. State-run lottery games had sales of $73.9 billion in 2015, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. This revenue is vital to budgets beset by declining incomes, deindustrialization and austerity. “State lotteries provided more revenue than state corporate-income taxes in 11 of the 43 states where they were legal, including Delaware, Rhode Island, and South Dakota,” Derek Thompson wrote in The Atlantic. “The poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets,” he noted. Gambling is a stealth tax on poor people hoping to beat the nearly impossible odds. Governmental income from gambling is an effort to make up for the taxes the rich and corporations no longer pay.

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The Feuding Kleptocrats” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 03.26.2017 ☮

The Trump kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good and impedes corporate profit.

They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump’s appointees are busy diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected. Rex Tillerson at the State Department, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education are eating away the foundations of democratic institutions like gigantic termites. And there is no force inside government that can stop them.

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