Bill Berkowitz

100,000 U.S. Prisoners Are Trapped in Isolation Units

There are nearly 100,000 people being held in solitary confinement today in America’s prisons. They are locked up in cramped, often windowless cells for nearly 24 hours a day. They eat alone. They exercise alone in small fenced-in areas known as cages or dog runs. They are almost completely segregated from the mainstream population and there are no programs available to them. Most aren’t allowed to make phone calls to loved ones. And they are often subject to extreme and excessive punishment, euphemistically called “cell extractions.” Robert Hillary King, an Angola 3 member who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, has called this isolation a matter of “moral depravity.”

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What Have We Got Here? Looks Like Some U.S. Libertarians Are Supporting Overthrow in Venezuela

If you've never heard of the Atlas Network, the Intercept's recent story, "Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians are Remaking Latin American Politics," will certainly be an eye opener. The Atlas Network aims to rid Latin America of leftist-led governments, limit the organizing wherewithal of unions, and liberal and progressive movements, and reshape Latin America in ways the Koch brothers, and like-minded U.S.-based right-wing billionaires support.

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Craig Hodges: Fighting Against Racism as an NBA Player

To go, or not to go? That could be the question the NBA champion Golden State Warriors will have to grapple with if they are invited to Donald Trump's White House. More than two decades ago, Craig Hodges, a member of the NBA champion Chicago Bulls, delivered a letter protesting the mistreatment of poor people and people of color to President George H.W. Bush during the team's 1991 visit to the White House. Vilified for being so bold, Hodges was recently asked by Dave Zirin, on his Edge of Sports podcast, for his thoughts on a possible visit by the Warriors. Hodges suggested that the Warriors should consider going, and take the opportunity to deliver a message about inequality and social justice. If they don't go, Hodges said, they should be clear about why they decided not to go.

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How the Christian Right Is Using Junk Science to Attack Transgender Rights

While North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ HB2 law – its so-called bathroom bill -- Target stores’ policy of allowing transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity, and public schools across the nation are working to accommodate transgender children, the religious right has placed transgender rights in its crosshairs. Dr. Paul McHugh, a former director of Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Psychiatry and University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has over the years become the go-to guy for the Religious Right’s anti-trans attacks.

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Trump's Single Biggest Donor, Robert Mercer, Has a Merciless Political Agenda

"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." —Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist

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Will Silicon Valley Assist in Developing Trump's Deplorable Muslim Registry?

During the Republican Party's primary campaign, Donald Trump proposed the creation of a national registry for America's 3.3 million Muslims. His proposal created quite a stir. Trump supporters were enthusiastic; opponents were horrified. Moral, legal, and ethical questions were raised. Questions were also raised about how such a registry might be built, and who would do the work?

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How Republicans Intend to Kill Obamacare

There are standard dictionary definitions of the word reconciliation – “the restoration of friendly relations” and “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another” among them – and then there is the Congressional process called Reconciliation. The former suggest comity, the latter is the process by which debate is closed down and a budget bill can be passed through the Senate. With Republicans holding a 52 to 48 advantage over Democrats (including two Independents), Reconciliation is how Republicans intend to overturn the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

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Family Research Council's Starkly Anti-Gay Ken Blackwell Leading Trump's Domestic Transition Team

Hillary Clinton may have made a huge rhetorical gaffe when during the campaign she labeled more than half of Donald Trump's supporters as occupying a "basket of deplorables." That term, however, may be much more applicable to some of the people heading up Trump's transition team. As proof that Trump intends to consummate his affair with conservative Christian evangelicals, he has named Kenneth Blackwell, the senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council -- an organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – to head his domestic transition team.

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When the Election Is Over, It Will Not Be Done

They're stoked by bitterness, anger, and the unbearable color of others, and they're buying into Donald Trump's trope that the election, indeed society, is rigged against them. At his rallies, they love to wear obscene-laced t-shirts, and when Hillary Clinton's name is mentioned, they come alive with chants of "Lock her up." They revile fact checking and are disgusted, not by Trump's predatory behavior and despicable comments about women, but by the way the media has reported it. And, when the election is over, and Trump has moved on to attempting to build a multi-media empire, or perhaps to an all-expenses-paid Dacha in the Russian countryside, his supporters will be holding a bag of steaming anger.

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Will Closeted Trump Voters Pull a Bradley Effect?

Just before Election Day in November 1982, according to most polls, Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, appeared poised to become governor of California. Despite leading in the polls, Bradley lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian. Instead of becoming the first African American governor of California, Bradley became the namesake of something called The Bradley Effect.

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Will Kaepernick's Protest Against Racism Spread to Baseball?

One of the unforeseen results of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a stand against racism and police brutality, by at first sitting, and later taking a knee, during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games, is that other athletes in other sports are being asked to comment.

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Paleoconservative Pat Buchanan Stirring Revolution Pot If Trump Loses

By now, one would think that Pat Buchanan would have long ago been relegated to the trash heap of history. Buchanan, a senior advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and who was once considered the go-to guy for paleoconservatives, seemed to have faded in importance from those heady days when he co-hosted CNN’s Crossfire, and gave the rousing and incendiary culture war speech at the 1992 Republican Party convention.

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Riding Trump's Wave, Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke Runs for Senate

Immediately after Donald Trump's acceptance speech, David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and an early Trump supporter, tweeted: "Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders! Fair Trade! Couldn't have said it better!"

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Compassion-Challenged Christian Right’s Reaction to Orlando Murders

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell took to Pat Robertson’s airwaves and blamed gays, pro-choice activists, and liberals in general, for the terrorist attacks. Over the years, Christian right leaders have blamed gays and lesbians for not only destroying the traditional family, but for hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and pestilence. Now, in the days following the early Sunday morning terrorist attack on the Orlando gay nightclub, there hasn’t been that kind of knee-jerk bombast from major Christian Right organizations or leaders. Instead, benign neglect seems to be their settled-on modus operandi; express condolences and move on as quickly as possible. Despite this approach, some fringe Christian anti-gay pastors haven’t gotten the memo, as they continue to spew incredibly hateful comments. 

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Watch out for Trump Becoming the ​'Law-and-Order'​ Candidate

With demonstrations outside and inside of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies erupting, and sometimes turning violent, Team Trump, ever on the lookout for a game-changing strategy, may see these incidents as an opportunity to brand The Donald the “Law and Order” candidate. Picture Trump kicking off the final months of the campaign with: "We'll give you the greatest amount of law and order that you've ever seen. There will be so much winning law and order that you might get tired of things being so quiet." 

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Evangelical Leaders May Embrace Trump the Sinner

We recently wrote about the dilemma facing conservative evangelical Christian leaders over Donald Trump candidacy. Will they actively support Trump, and encourage their supporters to vote for him? Will they stay home? Will they support a third party candidate? Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Frederick Clarkson, a senior fellow at the Massachusetts-based Political Research Associates, two longtime observers of, and writers about the religious right maintained that when push comes to shove, most of the movement's leaders would eventually come around. Well, on June 21, dozens of religious right leaders will be coming around to New York City for a meet-up with "the Donald."

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Meet the Richest, Most Controversial Operative in Republican Politics

This article was originally published in Truthout.

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Why Are Evangelicals Fighting Over Ted Cruz's Religious Beliefs?

The long and winding road to the Republican Party's presidential nomination is getting rockier for conservative Christian evangelical leaders as they continue to reckon with some major-league divisive issues. When Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, endorsed Donald Trump, evangelical leaders Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Max Lucado, often described as "America's pastor," began speaking out against Trump. The editorial board at The Christian Post, so unnerved by the possibility of Trump heading the GOP's ticket, launched a major anti-Trump broadside.

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Hillary Bashing by the Right: Crafty, Cruel, And Commoditized

The Supreme Court’s game-changing Citizens United decision grew out of the Hillary-bashing industry.

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Why You Need to Understand Evangelical Christianity's Outrageous and Influential Far-Right Fringe

Here's a simple question: Have you ever heard of Christian Reconstruction, Rousas J. Rushdoony, or one of his most influential works, The Institutes of Biblical Law? Probably not. Christian Reconstruction is a religious belief system set out by the late Rushdoony, which maintains that every aspect of society – church, state, family, economy — should be based on Biblical law. It is evangelical Christianity's right-wing fringe, yet its tentacles reach deep into the clown car that is the Republican Party's field of presidential candidates.

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"Good Christian" and Child Molester Josh Duggar Shows His Moral Hypocrisy Yet Again

A day after Josh Duggar’s name showed up as one of the 37 million cheating spouses to allegedly have Ashley Madison accounts, he issued the following statement: “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.”

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Right-Wing Reactionaries Are Trying to Take Over the World of Science Fiction

If you think America's culture wars are only taking place over such hot-button issues of health care, gay rights, abortion, and/or religious freedom, think again. Unbeknownst to those of us who are neither regular readers of speculative fiction nor follow it in the blogosphere, for a short time awhile back it looked like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) might fall into the hands of an ultra-conservative culture warrior. It didn't. However, culture war battles – particularly as related to gender and social justice issues – have found a new front; the prestigious Hugo Awards,

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Elliott Abrams, Enabler of Massacres in Latin America, Is Back Shilling for War With Iran

I am thinking about Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative former advisor to both the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, and a great line from a song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks has popped into my head: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" In a strange way, it is almost comforting to read Abrams' recent accusations in The Weekly Standard that President Barack Obama, with his advocacy for the Iran nuclear deal, is "feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism." In critiquing the president's speeches on the issue, Abrams wrote: "The president ... must know that he is here feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism that accuses American Jews of getting America into wars."

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Why Is the Mainstream Media Running Away From Max Blumenthal's New Book About Israel?

Max Blumenthal is a spot-on, tenacious journalist. He has a bevy of enthusiastic supporters, and a host of virulent pro-Israel "no matter what" critics. He has become a lightning rod for conservatives. Is it possible for right-wingers and AIPAC adherents to speak about his work without either blowing a carotid artery; or attacking him personally, huffing and puffing about his being "anti-Semitic," a self-loathing Jew, an anti-Israeli propagandist, and a bullying anti-Zionist? It doesn't appear it is.

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Many of Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Advisors Should Be Brought Before the International Criminal Court

It is still extremely early in 2016 presidential politics, but, with the race for the Republican Party nomination under way, we may be getting a not-so-sneaky preview of how former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intends to navigate his way around the minefield of foreign policy decision-making by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and brother, President George W. Bush. While he still has to sit around the Thanksgiving table with his family, Jeb understands that it is of utmost importance that he offers his own foreign policy vision. Stay tuned for what appears to be the mother of all-political flip-flopping, back flipping, and political U-turns; moonwalking that would make the late Michael Jackson stand up and smile.

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Billy Graham's Son Is One of America's Most Dangerous Islamophobes

Why should you be interested in the ongoing prattling of the Rev. Franklin Graham? Let me count the ways: 1) He’s the son of Billy Graham, the world-renowned evangelist, and that gives him access to a multitude of media platforms; 2) He desperately wants to inherit his father’s unofficial title of “America’s Pastor”; and, 3) He is considered a highly respected player in the world of conservative Christian evangelicalism.

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Are You Living in a "Bible-Minded City?"

Ever wonder what makes a city bible-minded? According to an annual list put together by the American Bible Society (ABS) and the Barna Group (a Christian-based polling outfit), a Bible-minded city is made up of "Individuals who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded."

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Indiana Cop Creates “Breathe Easy, Don’t Break the Law” T-Shirts

Following a nationwide wave of demonstrations demanding justice in the murders of several unarmed black youth and black men, and following the assassination of two New York City police officers, police across the country are displaying the kind of behavior and attitudes that substantiates concerns about police actions.

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Kansas Governor's Plan to Balance Runaway Budget: Sell Sex Toys

With tax revenues in the toilet, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s administration has hit upon a unique revenue-generating idea. According to the Kansas City Star and a myriad of other news sources, the state is selling thousands of adult novelty items, from lingerie to handcuffs, in an online auction due to the failure of a chain of erotic stores to pay state sales, income, and withholding taxes in Kansas.

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Meet Brave Abortion Provider Dr. Willie Parker

Meet Dr. Willie Parker. He is one heck of a courageous man. Chances are you've never met anyone like him.

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Meet the Frackers: Right-Wing Billionaire Brothers’ Biblical Ambitions

This article originally appeared on Truthout.

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