Donald’s People

For all of his buffoonery about “telling it like it is,” Donald Trump is the most politically correct and cowardly candidate in the presidential race. If he actually had the strength to articulate uncomfortable and inconvenient truths, he would turn his favorite word—“loser”—not on full-time professionals in the press, but on his supporters.

The New York Times recently ran a report on “Trump geography,” seeking to solve one of the most bizarre mysteries of modern political history: Why do people support Donald Trump, and who are these people?

Journalists found that in the counties where Trump is most dominant, there are large numbers of white high school dropouts, and unemployed people no longer looking for work. An alliance with the incoherent personality cult of Donald Trump’s candidacy correlates strongly with failure to obtain a high school diploma, and withdrawal from the labor force. The counties also have a consistent history of voting for segregationists, and have an above average percentage of its residents living in mobile homes. Many conservatives, and even some kindhearted liberals, might object to the conclusions one can draw from the data as stereotyping, but the empirical evidence leaves little choice. Donald Trump’s supporters confirm the stereotype against them. The candidate himself even acknowledged the veracity of the caricature of his “movement” when he made the odd and condescending claim, “I love the poorly educated.” His affection for illiteracy and ignorance did not extend to himself or any of his children, all of whom have degrees from some of the best universities in the world…

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-loves-poorly-educated-and-they-love-him-right-back

Human Rights Hypocrisy: US Criticizes Cuba

In advance of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 20, there is speculation about whether he can pressure Cuba to improve its human rights. But a comparison of Cuba’s human rights record with that of the United States shows that the US should be taking lessons from Cuba.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains two different categories of human rights – civil and political rights on the one hand; and economic, social and cultural rights on the other.

Civil and political rights include the rights to life, free expression, freedom of religion, fair trial, self-determination; and to be free from torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention.

Economic, social and cultural rights comprise the rights to education, healthcare, social security, unemployment insurance, paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, reduction of infant mortality; prevention, treatment and control of diseases; and to form and join unions and strike.

These human rights are enshrined in two treaties International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The United States has ratified the ICCPR.

But the US refuses to ratify the ICESCR. Since the Reagan administration, it has been US policy to define human rights only as civil and political rights. Economic, social and cultural rights are dismissed as akin to social welfare, or socialism.

The US government criticizes civil and political rights in Cuba while disregarding Cubans’ superior access to universal housing, health care, education, and its guarantee of paid maternity leave and equal pay rates.

Meanwhile, the US government has committed serious human rights violations on Cuban soil, including torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention at Guantanamo. And since 1960, the United States has expressly interfered with Cuba’s economic rights and its right to self-determination through the economic embargo.

The US embargo of Cuba, now a blockade, was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Cold War in response to a 1960 memo written by a senior State Department official. The memo proposed:

“a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the [Castro] government.”

That goal has failed, but the punishing blockade has made life difficult in Cuba. In spite of that inhumane effort, however, Cuba guarantees its people a remarkable panoply of human rights.

Healthcare

Unlike in the United States, healthcare is considered a right in Cuba. Universal healthcare is free to all. Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients in the world at 6.7 per 1,000 people. The 2014 infant mortality rate was 4.2 per 1,000 live births – one of the lowest in the world.

Healthcare in Cuba emphasizes prevention, rather than relying only on medicine, partly due to the limited access to medicines occasioned by the US blockade. In 2014, the Lancet Journal said, “If the accomplishments of Cuba could be reproduced across a broad range of poor and middle-income countries the health of the world’s population would be transformed.” Cuba has developed pioneering medicines to treat and prevent lung cancer, and prevent diabetic amputations. Because of the blockade, however, we in the United States cannot take advantage of them.

Education

Free education is a universal right up to and including higher education. Cuba spends a larger proportion of its GDP on education than any other country in the world. “Mobile teachers” are deployed to homes if children are unable to attend school. Many schools provide free morning and after-school care for working parents who have no extended family. It is free to train to be a doctor in Cuba. There are 22 medical schools in Cuba, up from only 3 in 1959 before the Cuban Revolution.

Elections

Elections to Cuba’s national parliament (the National Assembly) take place every five years and elections to regional Municipal Assemblies every 2.5 years. Delegates to the National Assembly then elect the Council of State, which in turn appoints the Council of Ministers from which the President is elected.

As of 2018 (the date of the next general election in Cuba), there will be a limit of no more than two five-year terms for all senior elected positions, including the President. Anyone can be nominated to be a candidate. It is not required that one be a member of the Communist Party (CP). No money can be spent promoting candidates and no political parties (including the CP) are permitted to campaign during elections. Military personnel are not on duty at polling stations; school children guard the ballot boxes.

Labor Rights

Cuban law guarantees the right to voluntarily form and join trade unions. Unions are legally independent and financially autonomous, independent of the CP and the state, funded by members’ subscriptions. Workers’ rights protected by unions include a written contract, a 40-44-hour week, and 30 days’ paid annual leave in the state sector.

Unions have the right to stop work they consider dangerous. They have the right to participate in company management, to receive management information, to office space and materials, and to facility time for representatives. Union agreement is required for lay-offs, changes in patterns of working hours, overtime, and the annual safety report. Unions also have a political role in Cuba and have a constitutional right to be consulted about employment law. They also have the right to propose new laws to the National Assembly.

Women

Women make up the majority of Cuban judges, attorneys, lawyers, scientists, technical workers, public health workers and professionals. Cuba is ranked first in Save the Children’s ‘Lesser Developed Countries’ Mother’s Index. With over 48% women MPs, Cuba has the third highest percentage of female parliamentarians in the world. Women receive 9 months of full salary during paid maternity leave, followed by 3 months at 75% of full salary. The government subsidizes abortion and family planning, places a high value on pre-natal care, and offers ‘maternity housing’ to women before giving birth.

Life Expectancy

In 2013, the World Health Organization listed life expectancy for women in Cuba at 80; the figure was 77 for men. The probability of dying between ages 15 and 60 years per 1,000 people in the population was 115 for men and 73 for women in Cuba.

During the same period, life expectancy for women in the United States was 81 for women and 76 for men. The probability of dying between 15 and 60 per 1,000 people was 128 for men and 76 for women in the United States.

Death Penalty

A study by Cornell Law School found no one under sentence of death in Cuba and no one on death row in October 2015. On December 28, 2010, Cuba’s Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of Cuba’s last remaining death row inmate, a Cuban-American convicted of a murder carried out during a 1994 terrorist invasion of the island. No new death sentences are known to have been imposed since that time.

By contrast, as of January 1, 2016, 2,949 people were on death row in state facilities in the United States. And 62 were on federal death row as of March 16, 2016, according to Death Penalty Information.

Sustainable Development

In 2016, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading global environmental organization, found that Cuba was the only country in the world to have achieved sustainable development. Jonathan Loh, one of the authors of the WWF report, said, “Cuba has reached a good level of development according to United Nations’ criteria, thanks to its high literacy level and a very high life expectancy, while the ecological footprint is not large since it is a country with low energy consumption.”

Stop Lecturing Cuba and Lift the Blockade

When Cuba and the US held talks about human rights a year ago, Pedro Luis Pedroso, head of the Cuban delegation, said:

“We expressed our concerns regarding discrimination and racism patterns in US society, the worsening of police brutality, torture acts and extrajudicial executions in the fight on terror and the legal limbo of prisoners at the US prison camp in Guantanamo.”

The hypocrisy of the US government in lecturing Cuba about its human rights while denying many basic human rights to the American people is glaring. The United States should lift the blockade. Obama should close Guantanamo and return it to Cuba.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/human-rights-hypocrisy-us-criticizes-cuba/5515069

Related: Che’s son says, “Let’s see.”

Days ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba, the oldest son of revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara has expressed mixed feelings about the historic visit.

He will be the first sitting president to visit the island nation in nearly nine decades.

Camilo Guevara spoke to the Guardian about the implications of the trip, which begins Sunday, and expressed some optimism, calling it “historic and very important.” He also said that Obama “appears intelligent and sensitive towards the major problems of humanity.”

But he qualified by noting that Obama “was supported by corporate America.”

He also said that his father “felt that we could also transmit ourselves outwards … Maybe we can influence the U.S. in a positive way,” he said.

“But the U.S. is an empire,” he added. “Their nature is not to set the table and invite you for a feast. History shows us that every time they set a table, you have to accept you might be poisoned or stabbed in the back. But let’s see.”…

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/18/che-guevaras-son-obamas-historic-cuba-visit-lets-see

What’s Uncle Sam’s Largest Asset?

Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset in Uncle Sam’s financial accounts?

  • A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
  • B) Total Mortgages
  • C)Taxes Receivable
  • D) Student Loans

The correct answer, as of the latest quarterly data, is…

http://wolfstreet.com/2016/03/11/uncle-sams-largest-asset-student-loans-haunt-us-for-years/

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught In Schools

“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O’Connor’s haunting rendition of “Skibbereen,” which includes the verse:

… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old
Skibbereen.

By contrast, Holt McDougal’s U.S. history textbook The Americans, devotes a flat two sentences to “The Great Potato Famine.” Prentice Hall’s America: Pathways to the Present fails to offer a single quote from the time. The text calls the famine a “horrible disaster,” as if it were a natural calamity like an earthquake. And in an awful single paragraph, Houghton Mifflin’s The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People blames the “ravages of famine” simply on “a blight,” and the only contemporaneous quote comes, inappropriately, from a landlord, who describes the surviving tenants as “famished and ghastly skeletons.” Uniformly, social studies textbooks fail to allow the Irish to speak for themselves, to narrate their own horror.

These timid slivers of knowledge not only deprive students of rich lessons in Irish-American history, they exemplify much of what is wrong with today’s curricular reliance on corporate-produced textbooks…

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44458.htm

Dept Of Education Study: Graduates In The US Look Like Other Countries’ High School Dropouts

american-idiot

The US Department of Education just released the results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), and they are perilously disappointing.

PIAAC is a cyclical, large-scale study of adult skills and life experiences focusing on education and employment. Nationally representative samples of adults between the ages of 16 and 65 are administered an assessment of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology rich environments, as well as survey questions about their educational background, work history, the skills they use on the job and at home, their civic engagement, and sense of their health and well-being. The results are used to compare participating countries on the skills capacities of their workforce-aged adults and to learn more about relationships between educational background and employment and other outcomes.

When comparing the most recent results of US adults and those in other countries, America looks terrible.

In spite of being only one quarter the size of them, the United States spends nearly the same amount of money on video games as China. One would think since Americans spend tens of billions annually on video games, they would naturally be technologically savvy. However, the results of the PIAAC study show that is simply not the case. In fact, the average American citizen comes in dead last for being able to perform simple technological procedures.

“Clearly, we have some work to do in this country,” says Peggy Carr, the acting commissioner of the government’s National Center for Education Statistics.

When it comes to basic technological skills like using email, buying and returning items online, using a drop-down menu, naming a file on a computer or sending a text message — Americans rank dead last.

But it’s not just daily technology tasks that Americans fail at accomplishing, they also scored terribly in math and literacy.

According to study, Americans with a high school diploma performed about the same as high school dropouts in other countries.

So what’s the problem? Is it lack of spending in the education department? No.

The United States spends more money on education than any other country in the world, yet the average high school graduate can’t even compete with dropouts in other countries. In spite of the ever increasing DOE expenditures, US students continue to trail their rivals on international standards tests…

http://www.activistpost.com/2016/03/dept-of-education-study-graduates-in-the-us-look-like-other-countries-high-school-dropouts.html