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Facts are the foundation of democracy. Without a clear handle on them, we can't possibly hope to make the informed decisions on which representative government inherently rests. They're the life blood of any healthy democratic system, yet according to an increasing number of opinions, we're now inhabiting an age of post-factual or post-truth democracy. According to organs ranging from the Los Angeles Times to The Washington Post, we now have for company not principled people who rely on well-supported arguments for their political legitimacy, but liars such as Donald Trump and Fox News.
It's been an incredibly strange political year. While American politics has been imbued by anti-intellectualism for decades, the failure of both our political leaders and the electorate to care about facts, evidence, and truth has reached epic proportions with the rise of Donald Trump. Sure, there's a long history of politicians lying for their own self-benefit. Bill Clinton lied about his extramarital affairs, George W. Bush duped the country about why we invaded Iraq, and Barack Obama once promised that he would create a "public option health plan."
Beginning Election Day, Nov. 8, the US drone industry is holding a three-day convention at the former Rome Air Base and at the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse. It happens that Central New York is one of the nation's main drone research hubs. Not coincidentally our region also hosts the 174th Attack wing of the NYS National Guard at Hancock AFB. The 174th pilots hunter/killer Reaper drone robots 24/7 overAfghanistan and who knows where else. Many innocent human beings are thereby maimed or killed.
When folks normally speak of white privilege, it means a set of social advantages that white people have without even recognizing it. Peggy McIntosh famously described it as a backpack full of "unearned assets." It is the ability to move about in the world freely without concern over the assumptions that people are making about you because of the color of your skin. It is the ability to assume that your experience is universal. But white privilege is not simply a set of advantages that white people passively accumulate.
Member-owners of La Montañita cooperative in New Mexico have organized a broad coalition to "Take Back the Co-op!" In the process of trying to get their co-op back on track, they have uncovered some disturbing patterns in the national co-op landscape that raise alarm for the future health and integrity of local food co-ops all around the country. La Montañita is a 40-year-old cooperative with six stores in three cities. La Montañita's first store was established in Albuquerque, New Mexico's biggest city.
On October 19, faculty members at the 14 state universities that form the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) went on strike after state officials and the faculty union, the Association of State College and University Faculties (ASCUF), could not come to an agreement. The night before, talks between the two parties ceased when state officials made their last best offer to union negotiators. The next day, the faculty at all of the PASSHE campuses -- along with many students -- walked the picket lines, carrying signs reading off their demands. After three days, the ASCUF and state officials reached an agreement and the strike ended.
Historically, the Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC) have been times of increased surveillance, policing and attempts to close public space, chill free speech and stifle dissent. Four months before the 1968 DNC in Chicago, Congress passed the "Rap Brown Law," which made it illegal to cross state lines with intentions to incite or organize a riot. The law was used to indict protesters during the convention, leading to the "Chicago Eight," comprised of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner Bobby Seale, and the late Tom Hayden, who died October 24, 2016.
Forty-two percent of the people who came to the Calais Refugee Camp are from warring parts of Sudan and South Sudan; 32 percent are from Afghanistan. Others are from Syria, Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and more; they have crossed between six and 13 countries to arrive in Calais, with their final goal to reach the UK. In Calais, it seems they are facing the hardest border to cross.
There is no legal basis for the United States to be in Syria, either under international law or under US law. US actions in the country are in violation of international laws regarding unprovoked attacks against sovereign nations, and Congress never authorized the use of force in Syria. Yet without any legal basis at all, in October 2015, the Obama administration sent special forces to Syria. Now, the administration threatens a no-fly zone, meaning that Syria could not fly over its own airspace. Despite the complete lack of legal basis to send in troops or to impose a no-fly zone, Congress and the mainstream media are silent.
In less than two weeks, voters in this badly divided nation will decide who shall be the president of the United States for the next four years. "Will we win or lose?" is the question asked by nearly everyone. That is misleading. In the very fabric of the campaign, with its race to the bottom of vulgarity and vituperation, we have lost the vitality of our political culture, and are beginning to lose any claim we had to real democracy.