Eleanor J. Bader

How to Replace Neoliberalism With a Caring Economy

In her timely book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, Naomi Klein calls on us to resist President Trump and the turn to reactionary-right politics in the US. She also reminds us that, even if we succeed, we will still be left with the conditions that gave rise to Trumpism in the first place. We've got to do more than resist Trump. She calls us to change the neoliberal paradigm that has guided (or rather, misguided) public and private life for the last four decades in the United States and much of the rest of the world. This is no small challenge, but without a new way forward, life will become increasingly unlivable. 

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Staggering Eviction Data Brings the Heartbreaking Stories of American Inequality Into Focus

When Princeton University sociology professor Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, was published in 2016, no one knew exactly how many people were threatened with eviction—or actually lost their homes—each year. We still don’t.

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Huge Organizing Effort, '40 Days of Action' Launching to Fight Poverty

The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the recently launched Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of three kids in a family she describes as deeply committed to improving life for the excluded and marginalized.  

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Why Depression Is Rampant in Our Times

When British journalist Johann Hari was 18 years old, he became so depressed he went to his family physician for treatment to end his despair. Hari’s mom had suffered from depression throughout his coming of age, and he had seen numerous television programs report that low mood was inherited, innate, carried in one's genes.

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Former White Supremacist Leader - Here's How to Stop Hate Groups from Spreading

For almost 23 years, Christian Picciolini has been making amends—to his parents, to his children, and to the people he hurt as a leader of America’s white supremacist movement. He tells his story in the recently released White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out (Hachette Books). The book is simultaneously horrifying and redemptive. 

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What We Mean When We Say 'Trainwreck': A New Book Speculates About the Human Propensity for Trash Talk

There’s a well-known truism you’ve probably heard which reminds us regular folk that celebrity has its price. Still, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of digging to reveal that the price varies depending on gender. Predictably, disparities abound. Take the recent split between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. Despite Heard’s allegation of domestic abuse, most media outlets found a different focal point for their marital dissolution stories: Heard’s bisexuality. From there, media outlets ranging from TMZ to People Magazine to the Guardian raised a collective eyebrow and expressed shock that the May-to-December romance had lasted at all. In short order, Heard was dubbed a gold-digging careerist while Depp sauntered off, secure in his fame and fortune. Meanwhile, the purported abuse got scant mention. In the months since the divorce was finalized, gossip hounds have raced to the scene each time Heard has fraternized with another women and have written, spoken, tweeted and photographed her every encounter for our entertainment.

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Outrage: Some Universities Get Taxpayer Dollars Despite Banning Women Who Have Had Abortions

Six months after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Dr. Randall O'Brien, president of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, told the local CBS affiliate that "in a changing world, we want to reaffirm who we are, who we intend to be, and establish our identity as a religious school, a Christian school."

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Paddles, Stun Guns and Chemical Sprays: How U.S. Schools Discipline Students

"Brian was a regular kid," longtime communications professional Kathy Parrent says, "a boy who liked to make everyone in our third grade classroom laugh. One day he said something smart-alecky, and our teacher grabbed him by the collar, lifted him up, opened up the coat closet, threw him in and locked the door. The rest of us sat in stunned horror, terrified. Brian immediately began banging and screaming, 'please, please, let me out,' but the teacher kept him in there for what felt like an eternity."

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Matthew Desmond Will Change the Way You Relate to America's Poverty Crisis

When Harvard sociology professor and 2015 MacArthur award-winner Matthew Desmond was growing up, money was tight. “Sometimes the gas got shut off and Mom cooked dinner on top of our wood-burning stove,” he writes in Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. “She knew how to make do.”

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"It's Time for the Reproductive Justice Movement to be Proactive"

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

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Young Christians Are Fleeing Evangelicalism - And Here's Why

The results of a five-year study of the Millennial Generation—people born between 1982 and 1993—are in. Thanks to the Barna Group, a 30-year-old, California-based, Christian research firm, we now know that conservative evangelical churches are losing formerly–affiliated “young creatives:” Actors, artists, biologists, designers, mathematicians, medical students, musicians, and writers.

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Men Step Up to Support Women's Rights and Fight Violence ... Stars and Regular Guys Say They Are Ready to Show Up

In the immediate aftermath of the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial, many men, both prominent and not, spoke out against sexism, misogyny and what has become known as "rape culture."

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It Wasn't Bad Sex, It Wasn't a Mistake, 'It Was Rape': Film Grapples with Society's Dark Side

Jennifer Baumgardner’s latest project, a 60-minute documentary film called It Was Rape, opens with a warning: If the movie serves as an emotional trigger, “please take care of yourself, even if it means leaving the theater.” The reason for this heads-up is that sexual violation is an abysmally common crime. According to a 2011 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six US women and one in seven US men have been raped at least once. These numbers make the film’s admonition especially poignant since it is likely that audiences everywhere will include people for whom rape is not a theoretical issue, but a lived reality.

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Women's Incarceration Rate Soars By Over 600 Percent as They Face Abuse Behind Bars

Allowing male guards to oversee female prisoners is a recipe for trouble, says former political prisoner Laura Whitehorn. Now a frequent lecturer on incarceration policies and social justice, Whitehorn describes a culture in which women are stripped of their power on the most basic level. "Having male guards sends a message that female prisoners have no right to defend their bodies," she begins. "Putting women under men in authority makes the power imbalance as stark as it can be, and results in long-lasting repercussions post- release."

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Reading A Queer-Eyed, Radical "On the Road" for the New Millenium

Sister Spit, the on-again/off-again traveling roadshow that has brought queer female poets and storytellers to bars, community centers, college campuses, and independent bookstores in Europe and the 50 states, is an antidote to the LGBTQ mainstream. Participants—largely young lesbians, transwomen, transmen, and those who defy gender classification—have nothing to say about wedding bells, non-traditional nuclear families, or serving in the military.

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Combatting Anti-Gay Bullying Through Young Adult Fiction

A recent survey of 10,000 self-described LGBT youth aged 13-17, conducted by researchers working with the Human Rights Campaign, confirmed what we already knew:  Nearly half of those questioned said that they did not feel accepted by their communities. In fact, more than 60 percent told interviewers that they anticipated having to leave their hometowns in order to lead full and fulfilling lives.

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Why Is Autism So Drastically on the Rise? An Environmental Horror Story

If horror is your genre, environmental writer Brita Belli’s The Autism Puzzle, is the book for you. Her terrifying look at the chemicals we eat, drink and breathe is guaranteed to make your hair stand on end.

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Women Have Been Fighting Misinformation and Oppression of Their Bodies for Decades

As a young girl I often heard my mom whispering about “woman problems.” The barely audible phrase sounded mysterious, and the fact that she would not explain what it meant made it all the more alluring.

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Why Young People Are Fleeing Conservative Evangelicalism

The results of a five-year study of the Millennial Generation—people born between 1982 and 1993—are in. Thanks to the Barna Group, a 28-year-old, California-based, Christian research firm, we now know that conservative evangelical churches are losing formerly–affiliated “young creatives:” Actors, artists, biologists, designers, mathematicians, medical students, musicians, and writers.

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Why Is the Federal Government Supporting Evangelism?

When progressive pro-choicers think about enemies of reproductive justice, Blue Dog Democrats and the Republican Party come to mind. Of course, these forces merit our constant scrutiny on both the state and federal levels. At the same time, we’re missing the boat if we don’t also look at the many government-sanctioned institutions that are training the next generation of evangelical leaders to become what they call “Champions for Christ.”

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Thought Police

Within days of September 11, the police and FBI were besieged with tips informing them that several suspects -- including one who fit Mohammed Atta's description -- had used public libraries in Hollywood Beach and Delray Beach, Florida, to surf the Internet. Shortly thereafter, a federal grand jury ordered library staff to submit all user records to law enforcement.

The order began a pattern of government requests for information about citizens' reading material that has increased dramatically since last October's passage of the USA Patriot Act, which amended 15 federal statutes, including laws governing criminal procedure, computer fraud, foreign intelligence, wiretapping, immigration and privacy. The act gives the government a host of new powers, including the ability to scrutinize what a person reads or purchases.

According to a University of Illinois study of 1,020 libraries conducted during the first two months of 2002, government sources asked 85 university and public libraries -- 8.3 percent of those queried -- for information on patrons following the attacks. More detail is unknown since divulging specific information violates provisions of the legislation.

"The act grants the executive branch unprecedented, and largely unchecked, surveillance powers," says attorney Nancy Chang, author of "Silencing Political Dissent," "including the enhanced ability to track e-mail and Internet usage, obtain sensitive personal records from third parties, monitor financial transactions and conduct nationwide roving wiretaps."

In fact, a court can now allow a wiretap to follow a suspect wherever he or she goes, including a public library or bookstore. That's right: Booksellers can also be targeted. What's more, the government is no longer required to demonstrate "probable cause" when requesting records. "FBI and police used to have to show probable cause that a person had committed a crime when requesting materials," says Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

"Now, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act," Finan continues, "it is possible for them to investigate a person who is not suspected of criminal activity, but who may have some connection to a person [who is]. Worse ... there is a gag provision barring bookstores or libraries from telling anyone -- including the suspect -- about the investigation. Violators of the gag order can go to jail."

Members of Congress, as well as librarians, booksellers and ordinary citizens, have expressed outrage and concern over the Orwellian reach of the law. On June 12, the House Judiciary Committee sent a 12-page letter to the Justice Department requesting hard data on the number of subpoenas issued to booksellers and libraries since last October. Two months later, on August 19, Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Bryant responded. The figures are "confidential," he wrote, and will only be shared with the House Intelligence Committee. The Judiciary Committee told Bryant the response was unsatisfactory. Finan reports that everyone is "waiting to see what the committee will do next."

Meanwhile, the ABFFE has joined a coalition of booksellers and libraries to denounce Section 215. They have also signed onto a Freedom of Information Act request for information on both the number and content of subpoenas issued. To date, there has been no response to their entreaty; though such responses are required by law, they can often take months or even years to complete.

But community activists, librarians and publishers have joined forces to publicize the threat that the act poses to free speech, privacy and civil liberties. The American Library Association, a national alliance of library staff, issued a statement in early 2002 affirming their position: "Librarians do not police what library users read or access in the library. Libraries ensure the freedom to read, to view, to speak, and to participate."

Though the ALA has agreed to cooperate with federal requests within the framework of state law, it has warned local branches not to create or retain unnecessary records, and trained staff to read subpoenas carefully before providing unnecessary information.

Despite this modicum of defiance, everyone agrees that Section 215 has begun to exact a toll. "Right after 9/11, Americans seemed eager to learn more about the world," says Larry Siems, director of International Programs at the PEN American Center. "They were reading, buying and checking out books on Islam. ... But the administration's overall approach discourages people from seeking information. It is counterproductive. We end up with a society that is more isolated, less able to respond to the rest of the world."

In addition, he states, the Constitution guarantees that Americans have the right to read books, write books, and express their opinions. Even when the ideas expressed are unpopular -- even when they're downright unpatriotic or seditious -- the government should not be in the business of prohibiting them. Indeed, he cautions, the distinction between acts and ideas is imperative.

Finan and Chang agree, and they are doing their best to ensure that the Patriot Act fades away in October 2005, when it is set to expire. "At the very least," Finan concludes, "we want changes in sections like 215, to exempt libraries and bookstores from scrutiny."

Clinic Crisis

"Roe v. Wade will never be repealed. Right to Lifers need to concentrate their entire efforts ... on the preservation of the offense of the life movement -- the local crisis pregnancy center," an opinion column in the largest-circulation Christian newspaper in the country, the Christian Times, counseled in February.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are anti-choice "clinics" that promise free pregnancy tests and counseling, but deliver wildly inaccurate information about the emotional and physical risks of abortion to the women who visit them. Largely marketed to the poor and the young, CPCs pretend to be bona fide medical centers, complete with staff in white uniforms, but are rarely staffed by trained personnel.

Instead, they lure in the unsuspecting and show them videos featuring emotionally traumatized women to bolster their claim that abortion "hurts women." Located throughout the 50 states, they currently outnumber legitimate family planning and abortion clinics by 4-to-3. And that's not even the worst of it.

Thanks to a provision in the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the federal government will spend $102 million in fiscal year 2002, and $135 million in 2003, on abstinence education -- the teaching of chastity before marriage and fidelity thereafter. While many groups have offered their pedagogical prowess to the feds, dozens of conservative and religious organizations and CPCs have been granted approximately $20 million a year since 2001 to do the job.

Abstinence money now allows CPC staff to lecture in public schools. Says Elizabeth Cavendish, legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL): "This reflects a growing trend. The government is trying to strengthen the provider arm of the anti-choice movement. CPCs are no longer sitting passively and waiting for women to come into their offices for pregnancy tests."

CPCs link abortion to breast cancer, depression and physical illness, among other graphically described problems, and can greatly distort or exaggerate its effects. Stephanie Mueller, former director of public policy at the National Abortion Federation (NAF), a provider network, says that clinics have to train staff to deal with the damage wrought by CPCs. "If a woman comes into a clinic and says she's afraid she'll die or bleed to death from an abortion, or if she says she's scared she'll be unable to have children in the future, we ask if she's been to a crisis pregnancy center. Over the 30 years that CPCs have existed, we've learned to identify women who've been emotionally traumatized and have developed counseling methods to help them."

This, of course, has not fazed conservative lawmakers. Heartbeat International, a "life-saving ministry" with affiliates in 47 states and 19 countries, was awarded nearly $1 million in federal funding for CPCs in Arizona, Ohio and Tennessee. Likewise, CPCs have received funds to bring "the message of sexual purity" and "abstinence until marriage" to Colorado and Michigan. What's more, Delaware, Missouri and Pennsylvania now make direct appropriations of state funds to local CPCs.

Other localities have found different, but equally effective, ways to support crisis pregnancy groups. During the past several years legislators in nearly half the states have proposed bills to allow drivers to purchase "Choose Life" license plates for a surcharge -- ranging from $20 and $50 -- earmarked for CPCs. Although Florida is the sole state with an operative program -- to date it has raised more than $650,000 for centers -- five others, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina, have passed "Choose Life" bills. All four are presently stayed by litigation. Nonetheless, the legislation remains popular; this year alone, 24 proposals were considered by 14 states.

"Ironically, the arguments that have been most successful in stopping these bills have had nothing to do with abortion," says Cristine Nardi, staff attorney at NARAL. "In one state the police argued that they were afraid the tags would provoke road rage. In some states, people have said that if you're going to sanction this message you also have to sanction a pro-choice viewpoint. This tactic tends to shut the antis up and stops their efforts."

NARAL has also argued that money should not go to organizations that provide inaccurate information or that are unlicensed to practice medicine. But Nardi concedes that states are eager to support CPCs. As of April, she says, 30 bills geared to bolstering the centers were pending in 16 states.

Several attempts have been made to rein in the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers. Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated 24 state CPCs, reaching an agreement with one and continuing to pressure others. False or misleading CPC practices have also been challenged in Texas, Massachusetts and California. In each instance, the centers have been forced to disclose the nature of their operations to both callers and walk-in visitors. "We think it's basic," says Mueller. "Government should not fund groups that give women misleading information."

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