By Dennis A. HeniganFor the first time since 2000, the Presidential election promises to be pivotal for the politics of gun control. Both for supporters of stronger gun laws, and for “gun rights” partisans, the stakes could not be higher. It was not long ago that the political death of gun control was accepted as an incontestible truth by pundits of every ideological stripe. For the Democratic Party, although much was made of the alleged impact of the gun issue on the Gingrich takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, the real turning point was the 2000 Presidential election.
By Kay WhitlockThe August 2016 announcement by the Obama administration that it will phase out or “substantially reduce” contracts with private prisons to house federal prisoners provides a master lesson in the political benefit of the magician’s art of misdirection. Hailed by many as a definitive step forward in criminal justice reform and a severe blow to the continuation of mass incarceration, the focus on private prisons hides more than it reveals. It raises false hopes, offers false promises, and points many who want transformative change in the wrong direction.
By Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizThe first international relationship between the Sioux Nation and the US government was established in 1805 with a treaty of peace and friendship two years after the United States acquired the Louisiana Territory, which included the Sioux Nation among many other Indigenous nations. Other such treaties followed in 1815 and 1825. These peace treaties had no immediate effect on Sioux political autonomy or territory. By 1834, competition in the fur trade, with the market dominated by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, led the Oglala Sioux to move away from the Upper Missouri to the Upper Platte near Fort Laramie. By 1846, seven thousand Sioux had moved south. Thomas Fitzpatrick, the Indian agent in 1846, recommended that the United States purchase land to establish a fort, which became Fort Laramie. “My opinion,” Fitzpatrick wrote, “is that a post at, or in the vicinity of Laramie is much wanted, it would be nearly in the center of the buffalo range, where all the formidable Indian tribes are fast approaching, and near where there will eventually be a struggle for the ascendancy [in the fur trade].”
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.Graduate students have been attempting to organize labor unions for decades. Until recently, those at private universities and colleges have been blocked from unionizing largely due to a Supreme Court decision from 1980, NLRB v Yeshiva University, that placed graduate students into the camp of managerial personnel and, therefore, ineligible for unionization and collective bargaining. The National Labor Relations Board has shifted the entire discussion with a decision affecting Columbia University graduate students. Just recently, Yale University students filed a petition for union recognition.
By Dennis A. HeniganThe suggestion of politically-motivated violence against public officials is terrifying on its face, but it is certainly nothing new. Indeed, Trump’s comments are a specific application of the “insurrectionist” view of Second Amendment rights that has long been a core tenet of the ideology of the National Rifle Association and the far right. According to that view, the overriding purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee the populace the arms it may need to resist government tyranny.
By José OrduñaOne convention featured the jingoistic speeches of retired generals, and ex-CIA director Leon Panetta, of protestors chanting “No more war!” being out shouted by people chanting “U-S-A!” The other convention was the Republicans’. As a Mexican immigrant naturalized as a US citizen in 2011, this is the second US general election for which I am eligible to vote.
By Steven HillSocial Security will always have somewhat of a perception problem among younger Americans. For a certain number, it will always be viewed as “money for old people who get it from the government.” For people of any age who are working and having taxes deducted from their paychecks, Social Security is a benefit for someone else—elderly retirees. But at some point in their life, those people will no longer be able to work, and, like any type of insurance, Social Security will be there to protect them with “wage insurance” from a complete loss of earned income. Social Security is self-insurance in that way, that is, protection against the risks we all face due to old age, disability, or death. That’s a point that must be brought home to every new generation of young Americans.
By Ginny GilderMarching into Opening Ceremonies is a big moment for athletes all over the world, a public, and oh-so-welcome acknowledgement of the extraordinary effort and amazing accomplishment required to land in the middle of this global phenomenon. Unquestionably, it’s the right time to extol the assembly of top athletes, to marvel over their histories and imagine what lies directly ahead in the next sixteen days of Olympic competition. But it’s absolutely the wrong time to characterize the efforts these elites have made to reach the top echelons of their various sports as some kind of sacrifice.
By Melinda ChateauvertHysteria Alert! We’re heading into another international sporting event, so the predictable, hysterical, and utterly fantastical stories about international sex trafficking are on the rise. We heard this claptrap about “sex tourism” two years ago when Brazil hosted the World Cup, when some NGOs claimed “40,000” women and girls would be involved. Time Magazine’s numbers were moderate compared to the exaggerations made by others. They claimed 250,000 children would be working the streets during the tournament—or one in every sixty-eight adolescent girls in the country.
By Suzanne KamataOn July 27, twenty-six-year-old Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee of Tsukui Yamayuri En, a care facility for the disabled in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, broke into the residential area in the early hours of the morning. After restraining staff members with zip ties, he proceeded to slash the throats of disabled residents, killing nineteen and injuring twenty-six. His motive, according to a letter that he wrote and sent to House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima, was to relieve exhausted parents and unenthusiastic caregivers of the burden of looking after the disabled.
The Reverend William J. Barber II brought the crowd to its feet with his rousing speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. His impassioned call for a moral awakening to combat divide-and-conquer politics with justice illustrates the foundation of Moral Mondays, the fusion movement he helped start to bridge America’s racial and economic divide. He writes movingly about how he laid the groundwork for this diverse movement in his book The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement. This appearance is part of Rev. Barber’s fifteen-state Revival Tour, launched in April to imbue love, mercy, and morality into politics. Here are some of last night’s highlights.
By S. Craig WatkinsOver the last few days, several people have asked me about the Pokémon Go phenomenon, especially friends who are not likely to play the game but are curious about why so many others have joined the crowd. In my own research, I’m constantly exploring how our engagement with digital media transforms our world. It is important to realize that technology, by itself, is not that significant. It is only when humans, for example, began to adopt and use technology that the social implications and consequences truly take shape. This is equally true with Pokémon Go. As the game has become a cultural sensation, a number of issues have emerged.
By Mary Frances Berry and Josh GottheimerIt’s fair to say that no one could have expected what resulted from Barack Obama’s prime-time speech at the July 2004 Democratic National Convention. Not the Senate candidate himself nor his two key aides and traveling companions, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, nor Mary Beth Cahill, the campaign manager for John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president. No one could have imagined how that seventeen-minute speech would catapult Obama into stardom and onto the national political stage and eventually into the White House itself. After all, no one had even heard of Barack Obama before he took the podium. On the morning of the speech, the Philadelphia Inquirer headlined, “Who the Heck Is This Guy?”
A Q&A with Dennis A. HeniganCertainly the horror of the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which twenty first graders and six adults were struck down, has been a key turning point in the national gun debate. The loss of those innocent young children shocked the conscience of the nation. Prior to Sandy Hook, the conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party was that advocacy of gun control was simply not worth the political risk, although this thinking was based on an exaggeration of the NRA’s actual influence over election results.
A Q&A with Atef Abu SaifI have to say that I did not write a diary to publish. I had a habit of writing sort of personal narratives now and then, to use in writing my fiction and to keep for future memoirs. I was shocked with the dialogue that took place between me and my friends (day one) at the time that the strikes started. What shocked me is our search for a meaning of what happens. All our life is a search for meaning. This search is much harder in a very uncertain context like the one in Gaza. I wrote down this dialogue while the sounds of explosions and attacks negated my wish that this was just another escalation.
By Steven Lipkin, MD, PhD with Jon L. LuomaIn the next decade, we are likely to see a new generation of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which could lead to the possibility of actually repairing genes in ART [advanced reproductive technologies] embryos affected by genetic disorders. Recent powerful basic science advances using a technique called CRISPR (pronounced “crisper,” and the acronym for the tongue twister “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”) have offered robust evidence that it’s possible to repair gene defects in embryos of several mammalian model organisms, including nonhuman primates. This is an inexpensive, remarkably effective gene-editing technique easy enough to be performed in literally thousands of laboratories around the world.
By Dina Gilio-WhitakerWhen a thirteen-year-old member of the Mississippi Choctaw Band of Indians entered into a job-training program with Dollar General, no one could have foreseen how it would turn out. Referred to as John Doe to protect his identity, the boy alleged that he’d been sexually molested and harassed by Dollar General manager Dale Townsend. Ordinarily, a case like this involving a crime on an Indian reservation would fall under federal jurisdiction, but the US Attorney’s office in Jackson failed to file a lawsuit, and the boy’s parents sued Townsend and Dollar General for damages in tribal court.
By Atef Abu SaifToday is Eid. After a month of fasting, Eid is like a long sigh of relief. The kids get up early, woken by the hymns and chanting from the minarets of all the surrounding mosques, whilst the sun is still struggling to get out of bed in the east. Normally at Eid, the kids play in the streets, excited by the pocket money they’ve just received from their parents. This is always the single largest amount of money they’ll receive all year. They rush out and buy toys, go to the fairground, fly between the heaven and earth. Eid is what every child waits for all the year. It was always a favorite moment for me when I was growing up. It’s exactly the same for my kids.
By Carole Joffe“(I)t is beyond rational belief that H.B.2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.’” So wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her concurrent opinion with the 5-3 majority in the landmark case, Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstadt.
By Amanda BeinerWhen associate publisher Tom Hallock first suggested that Beacon publish a myth-busting book about gun control, we knew we had to move quickly. The urgency of this issue put the new book on a sped-up schedule. While discussing the idea with other staff members, it seemed everyone could rattle off countless gun “myths” that pop up time and again in conversations about the epidemic of gun violence in the US. I set about researching books covering gun policy and came across Dennis Henigan’s Lethal Logic.