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Second Women’s March Again Brings Massive Protest Crowds Into Streets

It’s been exactly a year since the historic 2017 Women’s March, which brought millions out to protest Trump’s inauguration, flooding the streets of the nation with pink knitted hats. Millions have taken to the streets again this weekend for the Women’s March 2018, empowered by the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and fed up with Trump’s increasingly authoritarian and anti-immigrant policies, his war-mongering and his tantrum-centric presidency.

This year’s march arrived just one day after Trump’s attempt to block Planned Parenthood funding and amid a dramatic government shutdown centering on immigration. The shutdown came as Democrats and several Republicans refused to accept the border wall funding and deportation policies proposed by the Trump administration and the GOP in the federal funding bill. It marks the first successful government shutdown under a single party controlling Congress, and has become a big theme of the second Women’s March.

From Twitter:

 

Hundreds of Women’s March anniversary events are already underway or kicking off this weekend in every U.S. state. You can look up an event in your state and watch a live feed of today’s events on the Women’s March website.

The central organized 2018 Women’s March event is a Power to the Polls demonstration in Las Vegas on Sunday, focused on mobilizing national voter registration for the upcoming midterm election, which could reshape U.S. politics.

In Chicago, the turnout for the second Women’s March march had already exceeded last year’s numbers by 11:30am, with more than 250,000 people descending on downtown. In Los Angeles, a Weekend of Women movement kicked off Saturday morning with 200,000 expected attendees.

In New York City, hundreds of thousands filled more than 20 city blocks as the 2018 Women’s March kicked off at 11:30am in Columbus Circle and Central Park West, as Patch.com reports. Exact turnout is yet to be determined. Attendees interviewed by the New York Times on Saturday reported crowds that filled city blocks, though didn’t pack them quite as full as last year’s march.

Some the largest crowds of the second Women’s March are in Washington D.C., San FranciscoLos AngelesPhiladelphiaSeattleDenver, and even Rome, Italy. More than 250 additional cities and towns throughout the country and the world have also drawn large crowds.

April M. Short is a freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness and social justice. She previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. 

Hundreds of thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. during the Women’s March, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

New Ranking: Which Country Is Best For Kids? (Not The U.S.)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Norway is the best place in the world to be a kid and Niger is the worst, according to a new report by the international children’s rights organization Save the Children.

For 700 million or more kids around the world, childhood ends too soon. This is the premise that prompted a new report called the End of Childhood Index, which ranks 172 countries based on whether or not childhood has ended early for the children living there. Inadvertently, the report maps out the best and worst places to be a kid in today’s world.

Save the Children created the 44-page report using eight primary indicators:

  • Malnutrition that stunts growth
  • Under-5 mortality
  • Out-of-school children
  • Child labor
  • Early marriage
  • Adolescent births
  • Displacement by conflict
  • Child homicide

 The report dissects each of these erosions of childhood and how they each specifically impact the health and wellbeing of children. It details the ways in which millions of childhood deaths could be prevented; notes that one in 80 children is displaced due to conflict in today’s world; and describes how adolescent marriages, pregnancies and births have devastating consequences on girls’ physical and mental health.

The report’s intro reminds readers it’s “no accident” that certain children in a given nation or region eat, thrive and live into adulthood while others starve, suffer and die.

“Lost childhoods are a result of choices that exclude particular groups of children by design or neglect. Millions of children have their childhoods cut short because of who they are and where they live. There have been major gains for children in the last 25 years, but recent progress in fighting extreme poverty has often not reached those children who need it most—because of geography, gender, ethnicity, disability or because they are victims of conflict.”

The report provides the following breakdown of the ways in which hundreds of millions of children lose out on childhood globally.

You may think the U.S. ranks in the top five on the list; but think again. We’re not even in the top 20. The United States come in at 36, right below Bosnia and Herzegovina, and just barely squeezing into second-to-last place in the category for countries with, “Few children missing out on childhood.”

The U.S. is a world leader in childhood poverty, as AlterNet has reported. At least 13 million U.S. kids live in food-insecure households, meaning they do not have access to nutritious foods on a regular basis, according to the latest statistics. While the U.S. has relatively strict child labor laws, the amount of oversight of labor in general has declined in recent decades, and as the Atlantic reported in a 2014 article, the U.S. may have many more child workers than presumed.

Here is a list of the top and bottom 10 countries according to the End of Childhood Index:

Read the full report and view the full End of Childhood Index at SavetheChildren.org.

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

At Least Six People Confirmed Dead As Authorities Declare Multiple London Attacks A Terrorist Incident

12 people arrested over London attack; death toll rises to 7 (6/4/17)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Authorities have declared the attacks in London an official, organized “terrorist incident,” and BBC reports at least six people have died from vehicle and stabbing attacks.

On the evening of Saturday, June 3, a white van reportedly veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge. Simultaneously, at nearby and popular Borough Market, and three terrorists took at least six lives according to recent counts. At least 30 people were transported by ambulance to nearby hospitals, London Ambulance Service reported.

As the Boston Globe reported Saturday:

“Police said the hit-and-run on London Bridge and stabbings nearby have been officially declared a ‘terrorist incident.’ “The violence turned a summery Saturday night in an area packed with bars and restaurants into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee and lifeboats drafted to help clear the area.”

According to BBC:

“Prime Minister Theresa May described the incidents as ‘dreadful events’ and will chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee later on Sunday.

She added: ‘I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism.'”

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Red-State Blue-State Divide Is Showing Up In Tourism: Stereotypes Are Keeping Liberals From Alabama Beaches

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

People from blue states like California typically don’t think “Alabama” when looking to plan a beach getaway. And most tourists visiting Alabama’s expansive, white-sand beaches either come from Alabama or from Trump-supporting states, according to recent data. But just why that is likely comes down to undue stereotpying more than anything else.

The trend in Alabama’s beach goers doesn’t just relate to Alabama tourism, but to the deep (and seemingly deepening) divides between people across political lines in the U.S. More than half of Democrats are wary of conservatives, according to Pew Research Center data, and 68 percent of Republicans think Democrats are “harmful” to the country. The local Alabama news site AL.com explores this issue in a recent, detailed piece on Alabama tourism and partisanship.

But as political science professor Richard Fording of the University of Alabama told AL.com, those divides often exist solely in people’s heads.

“People in Alabama and California are not as different as the people in each state tend to think… There are a lot of conservatives and liberals in each state—just somewhat more of the former in Alabama and somewhat more of the latter in California,” he said.

The Alabama state tourism department would agree, and wants to change its beachgoing demographics. But as it stands, the state’s tourists are largely defined by their political preferences, as shown on a summer 2014 map created for the tourism arm of the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area of Alabama.

Kind of remind you of the 2016U.S. election map?

As AL.com reports, “Alabama residents are the top visitors to the beaches of its own state, but other states follow suit, and almost all of them backed Trump: Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The only outliers are the Clinton states of Illinois and Maryland.”

According to coastal Alabama tourism officials, the people who do visit the state’s beaches like what they find, as 97 percent of respondents to a Gulf Shores and Orange Beach query said they would return, AL.com reports.

Writing for the New York Times recently, W. Kamau Bell, a CNN host, stated, “If there ever was a time that we all should take a trip to the other parts of America and spend some time to get to know people there, it is now. So, who wants to come with me to Orange Beach?”

Bell noted that people in the U.S. might realize these divides are often just psychological, if they spent some time outside of their respective comfort zones.

“It is one of my enduring frustrations with this country,” he wrote. “People live in their part of the Union, and if they don’t travel a lot, then there is a tendency to believe that the other parts of America couldn’t possibly be as American as their part.”

Read the entire AL.com article.

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide. 

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

The North Carolina House Has Passed A Bill Protecting Drivers Who Hit Protesters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The North Carolina House of Representatives just passed a bill that could protect drivers who hit pedestrians with their vehicles during street demonstrations. State representatives approved legislation April 27 that removes civil liability from drivers if they hit pedestrians who are, “participating in a protest or demonstration.” The legislation passed in a 67-48 vote.

North Carolina became an epicenter of Black Lives Matter protests, which erupted in Charlotte after police shootings of unarmed black men.

According to an article in U.S. News by Steven Nelson, Democratic state Rep. Henry Michaux, who opposes the legislation, thinks it is likely to become law through an override vote. He thinks a lawsuit is the only way to prevent the bill from becoming a law.

Michaux told U.S. News he finds the legislation “unconstitutional” and thinks people will interpret it as an “invitation to mow down protesters or weave through parades, and he feels the motivation behind the bill may be racial.”

“Who demonstrates more than people of color?” Michaux said to U.S. News. He worries that “It would give some folks the idea,” to intentionally run over people “because you’ve got a group of black folks out here or a group of Latinos out here.”

Nelson notes that the concept behind the bill appears to have its roots in a backlash against the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. “The idea of immunizing drivers appears to have originated in North Dakota, where state Rep. Keith Kempenich proposed a similar bill in January after his mother-in-law allegedly was swarmed on a roadway by protesters opposed to construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The measure was rejected in a 41-50 vote in February,” Nelson reports.

The bill does include some language protecting pedestrians who have proper permits, and says drivers can still be found liable hitting pedestrians if the drivers’ actions are deemed “willful or wanton.”

However, that leaves a lot up to interpretation.

As Nelson reports, drivers are protected from liability for running down pedestrians “if they are exercising ‘due care.’”

If a driver hits a pedestrian who is “participating in a protest or demonstration and blocking traffic in a public street or highway,” as the bill’s language states, the driver may not be held responsible if it can be proved that he or she was “exercising due care.”

Read a detailed article on the legislation in U.S. News.

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide. 

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Economist Shows Why Escaping Poverty Is So Difficult In America

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In order to get out of poverty, you have to basically be extremely lucky for almost 20 years, according to a new bookThe Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by economist Peter Temin.

So many deep-seeded factors have lead to the economic and wealth inequality in the U.S. today (from slavery through to the new Jim Crow prisons crisis of today, to technological shifts, to globalization, corporatization and so much else) that few Americans stand a realistic chance of ever changing their economic status. Writer Gillian B. White explains this in a detail in an April 27 piece in the Atlantic, which sums up Temin’s new book.

In the book, Temin explains the problem via a concept he calls the “dual economy.” He divides the American economic system between an “FTE sector” of college educated, computer literate, high-salaried people (he estimates these make up about 20 percent of the roughly 320 million Americans); and the “low-wage sector,” (which represents the majoirty of the nation).

Temin’s estimates trace workers’ families back to before 1970, and he does the math to determines that America’s economy runs on a two-class system, in which race plays a significant role. He establishes that it would take almost 20 years of “nothing going wrong,” as White’s piece puts it, for an average person in poverty to dig their way out.

As White summarizes in the Atlantic:

“Education is key, Temin writes, but notes that this means plotting, starting in early childhood, a successful path to, and through, college. That’s a 16-year (or longer) plan that, as Temin compellingly observes, can be easily upended. For minorities especially, this means contending with the racially fraught trends Temin identifies earlier in his book, such as mass incarceration and institutional disinvestment in students, for example. Many cities, which house a disproportionate portion of the black (and increasingly, Latino) population, lack adequate funding for schools. And decrepit infrastructure and lackluster public transit can make it difficult for residents to get out of their communities to places with better educational or work opportunities. Temin argues that these impediments exist by design.”

Read the detailed Atlantic  piece here.

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide. 

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

New Google Fact-Check Tool Pushes Back Against Fake News Worldwide

Google released its new tool “Fact Check” this week. It is designed to combat fake news on the internet. The move is a clear response to the post-election outcry over the spread of false news reports, their probable influence on the 2016 presidential election and their negative affect on democracy.

When a user enables the tool, news stories Google fact-check deems questionable come with fact-checking tags in Google’s main search results as well as Google News results, worldwide. These stories are given a “fact check by…” label with a link to a fact-checking site such as Politico or Snopes, as a means of red-flagging questionable content.  breaks down how the new feature looks and works in a recent Tech Crunch article.

As Weston Williams notes in an April 7 article for the Christian Science Monitor,“Over the past few years, sites such as Google have had to walk a fine line between policing false claims and supporting basic principles of free speech online.”

As Google has come under fire for perpetuating the spread of baseless, harmful stories (like Holocaust denial articles and racist rants, among other problematic search results), the new tool appears to be Google’s attempt to navigate that line of information ethics.

The new feature is programmed to provide links to real media fact-checkers like Snopes and Politifact, next to stories it labels iffy.

However, some experts warn the tool is far from foolproof.

Andrea Forte, an assistant professor at Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics in Philadelphia, PA, questioned how much sense it makes to rely on a giant tech corporation’s scrutiny to determine which news is or isn’t factual. He told the Christian Science Monitor he believes that “depending on corporations to be responsible for educating people about credible information is not a reasonable solution.”

As Jacob Kastrenakes notes in a detailed April 7 article on The Verge, the Google fact-check tool falls logistically short in some regards as a means of improving the spread of reliable media.

“What this update won’t do is improve the search rank for fact-checking sites or bring their information to the top of the page in Google’s ‘featured snippets’ box. So while this change will help fact-checking sites stand out and have a better chance of reaching people, this doesn’t do anything to directly combat the use of Google’s platform to spread false or offensive stories.”

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide. 

Should Your Insurance Company Pay For Medical Marijuana? Judges Are Starting To Rule That Way

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Recent court rulings in Canada and the U.S. could set a new precedent for insurance companies to pay for doctor-prescribed medical marijuana. In the last few months, in consideration of the addictive potential of opiates and relatively few safety concerns over marijuana, judges in both the U.S. and Canada have ruled in favor of insurance companies covering medical marijuana for pain patients.

In January, a judge in New Jersey made a historic ruling that workers’ compensation must cover the costs of medical marijuana. After hearing testimony from Andrew Watson, a lumber worker who used marijuana for a work-related injury, New Jersey administrative law judge Ingrid L. French ruled that workers’ comp must cover the costs of Watson’s medical marijuana. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports in a detailed article on the case, this could set a new precedent for medical marijuana patients.

In 2014, Watson used cannabis obtained legally through the state’s medical marijuana program to treat intractable neuropathic pain in his left hand. He testified that it was the best treatment available for his injury and that it did not have the negative side effects of opiate painkillers.

Psychiatrist and neurologist Edward H. Tobe also testified about the well-known risks of taking opiates and the benefits cannabis medicine provided Watson. He said marijuana helped Watson reduce his opiate use, and was also likely to help him, “achieve better function.”

“Opiates can shut down breathing (whereas) marijuana cannabinoids won’t….Marijuana does not affect the mid-brain. The mid-brain is critical in controlling respiration, heart rate, many of the life-preserving elements,” Tobe said, according to an excerpt of his testimony included in the opinion Judge French issued last month.

French’s opinion states that the evidence from the court proceedings, “show that the petitioner’s ‘trial’ use of medicinal marijuana has been successful. While the court is sensitive to the controversy surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana, whether or not it should be prescribed for a patient in a state where it is legal to prescribe it is a medical decision that is within the boundaries of the laws in the state.”

Watson’s lawyer, Philip Faccenda, said Watson stopped using cannabis in 2014 because of its cost. Meanwhile, the insurance carrier continued to pay for his use of opiates to treat his pain. Faccenda argued that Watson should be reimbursed for his past medical marijuana purchases, and that the insurance company should continue paying for his medical marijuana.

French’s decision ultimately ruled in Watson’s favor, stating that the evidence convinced the court it was “reasonable and necessary” for Watson to relieve his pain using marijuana. The judge explained that she found Watson’s pain management approach “mature” and “cautious.”

“He testified that the effects of the marijuana, in many ways, is not as debilitating as the effects of the Percocet (which is how he refers to his prescriptions for Endocet or Oxycodone)….Ultimately, the petitioner was able to reduce his use of oral narcotic medication.”

As the Philadelphia Inquirerreports, “John Gearney, a Mount Laurel lawyer who writes a weekly blog on workers’ compensation cases, says the written ruling may be the first in New Jersey to address whether an insurer should pay for marijuana.”

Gearney reportedly told the Inquirer, “It’s not binding, but it’s really an important decision. There are about 50 workers’ compensation judges in the state, and they will read it and see what the judge thought when a case like it comes before them.”

A similar case took place in Nova Scotia, Canada in February, when a judge ruled that medical marijuana patient Gordon Skinner’s cannabis must be paid for by his employee insurance plan.

Skinner suffered chronic pain following an on-the-job vehicle accident. When he was denied coverage of his medical marijuana, he claimed discrimination. A human rights board ultimately determined that his prescribed medical marijuana must be covered by his insurance plan, as Keith Doucette reported for the Canadian Press. Benjamin Perryman, the chairman of the inquiry board, made his descision based on the fact that the marijuana Skinner used was prescribed by a doctor for pain managment.

“[I]t seems there is prima facie support for its medical necessity, owing to the fact that conventional prescription pain management drugs are normally eligible for coverage,” he said, according to the Canadian Press. The article notes that Deepak Anand, the executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association, thinks the ruling is likely to encourage more people to apply for coverage through their provincial human rights commissions.

Opiate overprescription and a lack of alternative options for pain patients contributes to an epidemic of addiction and overdose in the U.S. and globally, according to the CDC. Numerous pain patients in the 28 states with legal medical marijuana programs report that the federally illegal herb helps reduce their pain while causing few or no negative side effects.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Outlets Like The Atlantic And The Economist Are Selling Editorial Interviews To Lobbyists At DNC And RNC

Published with permission from Alternet.

In case you still had faith in the political media machine’s integrity, several big outlets have cleared up that misconception for you, by offering news interviews for sale at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

As Lee Fang wrote in a July 1 article for The Intercept, which broke the story:

“For high-rolling special interests looking to make an impression at the presidential conventions next month, one option is to pay a lot of money to a media outlet. Lobbyists for the oil industry, for instance, are picking up the tab for leading Beltway publications to host energy policy discussions at the convention, including the Atlantic and PoliticoFor the right price, some political media outlets are even offering special interviews with editorial staffers and promotional coverage at the convention.”

The Hill newspaper, for example, is sponsoring events at both party conventions and is promising sponsors who pay $200,000 convention interviews with Hill editorial staffers for “up to three named executives or organization representatives of your choice,” according to a brochure obtained by The Intercept. “These interviews are pieces of earned media and will be hosted on a dedicated page on thehill.com and promoted across The Hill’s digital and social media channels,” the brochure promises.

The Hill did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment, Fang wrote.

Fang’s article says The Economist and its subsidiary CQ Roll Call have similar deals on the table.

This is a new low even for big media. These news organizations are undeniably morphing into paid advertising and PR for the 1-percenter corporations and billionaires who control the political lobby.

People who care about the importance of journalistic integrity, or the checks and balances of the press—a necessary piece of any healthy democracy—should immediately boycott any news organization willing to stoop this low. This kind of behavior erases the already fuzzy line between the news media and the moneyed class’s greedy interests.

Maybe you aren’t shocked by this because this new low is simply a blatant version of what you already knew had been going on behind the scenes for years, but still, that they are so brazen about it is terrifying. What does it say about the state of the press when these well-known, long-trusted publications are straight-up going, “Hey rich people: ever wanted to buy off a journalist? Now’s your chance!”

It’s upsetting on a whole new level.

April M. Short writes and edits for AlterNet. She previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor.

Photo: Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)