In These Times

By the Numbers: A Look at Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture

(Editor’s note: An analysis of farm-level records from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture and its Agricultural Resource Management Survey confirms that, since 1987, almost all cropland has shifted to larger farms. Meanwhile, consolidation in many livestock sectors—due in part to “the continued development of confinement feeding practices”—has resulted in operations that use less pasture and rangeland than they did in the past. The study also finds that “family farms”—officially defined as “a farm in which the person primarily responsible for day-to-day operating decisions also owns the majority of the farm business"—still dominate the industry. The following summary is drawn from a larger USDA report, available at the bottom of this post.)

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Can We Have ’90s Roseanne Back, Please?

Roseanne’s white working-class populism seems somehow suspended in time. Set for a revival on ABC this spring, the hit 1988-to1997 sitcom sat, politically, somewhere alongside Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs and Bruce Springsteen’s entire discography. In the late 1980s it wasn’t impossible to imagine some combination of Springsteen, Barr and Parton galvanizing the white working class toward solidaristic ends, within the confines of something like Jesse Jackson’s multi-racial Rainbow Coalition.

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Farmworkers Fight Back Against Sexual Violence Only to Be Accused by Wendy's of 'Exploiting' #MeToo

The fast food giant Wendy’s provoked outrage on Wednesday when its spokesperson accused the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)—a farmworker organization that has spent decades fighting sexual abuse and modern-day slavery—of “exploiting” the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

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Trump's Quiet Meeting With Saudi Arabia and Israel Could Lead to Collision With Iran

This article was produced in partnership with Foreign Policy In Focus.

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How a Scrappy Campus Union Saved Tennessee From Privatization

Taking the podium in her freshly pressed, light-blue work uniform, Doris Conley looked out onto the faces of the Memphis City Council.

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Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: An Investigative Reporter Talks Glyphosate

Editor’s Note: In the following interview, for Acres U.S.A., Tracy Frisch interviews Carey Gillam about her first book: Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. Gillam, a “Kansas-based journalist turned glyphosate geek” has been a reporter for over 25 years, 17 of which were spent with Reuters covering, among other topics, economic policy, corporate earnings and commodities trading. In that time, Gillam’s reporting specialized on corporate agribusiness and the agrichemical industry. The public health deceptions she’s since uncovered are numerous. Two years ago she became Research Director with U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit consumer group that “pursues truth and transparency in America’s food industry.”

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The VA Is the Closest Thing We Have to Single Payer - Now Trump Wants to Privatize It

Aaron Hughes, who was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 and 2004, now has a serious, very rare lung condition. But he told In These Times he gets “really outstanding care” at the nearby Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. “The doctors are at the top of their class,” he said.

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'A Living History Lesson': Teachers Reflect on the Massive West Virginia Strike

Charleston, W. Va.—The teachers’ strike in West Virginia ended Tuesday after the Republican-controlled West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates voted to pass a 5 percent pay raise bill for public employees that Republican Gov. Jim Justice later signed into law.

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This Is the Best Chance Yet to Stop the U.S. War on Yemen - Where Are the Major Human Rights Orgs?

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the most powerful human rights organizations in the world, are declining to endorse a political push to end U.S. participation in the catastrophic Saudi-led war on Yemen.

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The Lesson From West Virginia Teachers: If You Want to Win, Go on Strike

For many years now, observers have been ringing the death knell for the U.S. labor movement. West Virginia teachers haven’t just pumped life back into that movement—they’ve reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the key to building power and winning is for workers to withhold their labor.

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First Silicon Valley Sold You Social Media - Now It’s Trying to Sell You the Antidote

In recent months, a spate of current and former tech executives have taken to the media to evangelize variations of the same message: Social media is harming humanity. Sean Parker, who served as Facebook’s first president, warned that social media “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology,” addicting children while interfering with productivity. Chamath Palihapitiya, once Facebook’s vice president “for user growth,” opined that social media is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” After co-engineering the Facebook “Like” button and Google’s Gchat messaging system, Justin Rosenstein bemoaned the effects of his contributions.

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YMCA Childcare Workers Just Went on Strike - Here’s Why

When Vivian Clark got a job with a Chicago-area Head Start program 15 years ago, it seemed like the “stepping stone” her family had been waiting for. Her son, then aged 9, had already gone through the federally funded preschool program when Clark was offered a job as a part-time administrative assistant for a Head Start program administered by the YMCA. In addition to providing early education and social services for low-income children, many Head Start agencies have expanded their focus into providing education and job opportunities for parents, often as employees of the program.

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These Teachers Refuse to Be Weaponized

The call to “arm the teachers”’ started as another stink bomb President Donald Trump lobbed into the crowd at a conservative rally. But somehow, the concept cycled through the 24-hour news loop and, within a few hours, became a ubiquitous meme. Now, the morally repugnant idea of gun-toting teachers in America’s schools has taken center stage in the nation’s macabre debate on gun safety.

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The Technology Being Used to Control Workers by Tech Companies Is Freakishly Dystopian

You’ve been fired. According to your employer’s data, your facial expressions showed you were insubordinate and not trustworthy. You also move your hands at a rate that is considered substandard. Other companies you may want to work for could receive this data, making it difficult for you to find other work in this field.

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This Former NFL Player Is Running on a Progressive Agenda to Flip a Red District in Texas

When it comes to Texas, for many years national political pundits have focused on one question: When will the state turn blue? This year, a number of Democrats are running in the Lonestar State, from Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Ted Cruz for a U.S. Senate seat, to several candidates vying for House seats considered newly up for grabs.

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When They Call You a Terrorist

The following is an excerpt from the new book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele (St. Martin's Press, January 2018), available for purchase from Amazon and IndieBound. This excerpt was previously published on In These Times:

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Why the United States Needs a Whole New Operating System

Here’s one final New Year’s resolution: let’s stop lying to each other.

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Trump’s Hometown Teaches a Lesson in How to Resist His Workplace Immigration Crackdown

During the early morning hours of January 10, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided 98 7-Eleven convenience stores across the United States, demanding that managers provide paperwork for their employees. ICE ultimately arrested 21 workers, but publicly declared that they were just getting started. “This is what we’re gearing up for this year, and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters,” acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Derek Benner told the Associated Press. “It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small. It’s going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there.”

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Is Your Pension Fund Plundering Puerto Rico?

While investigating the holders of Puerto Rico's $74 billion in public debt, In These Times stumbled across a hidden conflict: State and local pension funds across the rest of the United States are complicit in a bid to drain money from Puerto Rico’s pension funds.

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The Next Steps for the Women’s March? Moving a Progressive Agenda

At the 2018 Chicago Women’s March, Mujeres Latinas en Accion community leader Frances Velez marched with members of the longstanding Latina empowerment organization, sporting glittery eyeliner and holding a sign that read, “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds!”

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Amid Freezing Classrooms, Baltimore’s Teachers Fight to Democratize City’s Schools

When a photograph of bundled-up students in a frigid Baltimore classroom recently spread on social media—with temperatures in schools as low as the mid-30s—the city became a focal point of public attention. But two organizations of Baltimore teachers say such situations, far from isolated, are the latest examples of why educators are pushing to radically democratize the city’s school system.

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'You’re Taking Our Homes': Ben Carson Shouted Down by Angry Chicago Residents

Frustrated by government inaction in addressing the nation’s growing housing crisis, protestors interrupted Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson’s visit to the department’s Chicago offices on Monday. One protestor, Debra Miller, interrupted Carson’s speech during a morning meeting, shouting at the secretary: “You’re taking homes from people like me!”

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Florida Prisoners Are Preparing to Strike Against Unpaid Labor

People incarcerated throughout the state of Florida are planning a January 15 work stoppage to protest their conditions, and they say they are prepared to continue the protest for more than a month.

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A Brief Case for Prison Abolition

pris•on ab•o•li•tion

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Can the Community Rights Movement Fix Capitalism?

Editor’s Note: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit public interest law firm that works to advance democratic, economic, social and environmental rights over those of corporations. In its own words, the organization “assists communities across the United States to challenge the unjust and harmful economic system we live under.” Thomas Linzey, a frequent Rural America In These Times contributor, is CELDF’s co-founder and executive director. In the following essay he discusses strategy—what works and what doesn’t when it comes to accelerating systemic change.

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What #MeToo Can Teach the Labor Movement

My first #MeToo memory is from the kitchen of the Red Eagle Diner on Route 59 in Rockland County, N.Y. I was 16 years old, had moved out of my home, and was financially on my own. The senior waitresses in this classic Greek-owned diner schooled me fast. They explained that my best route to maximum cash was the weekend graveyard shift. “People are hungry and drunk after the bars close, and the tips are great,” one said.

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#MeToo In the Fields: Farmworkers Show Us How To Organize Against Sexual Violence

Lupe Gonzalo works in the tomato fields of Immokalee, Fla., worlds apart from the Hollywood celebrities whose #MeToo testimony is exposing widespread sexual violence and toppling powerful men. Yet, Gonzalo says that it is women like her, “with no platform and no voice, invisible and vulnerable,” who bear the brunt of workplace sexual assault—and who offer lessons in how to band together to defeat it.

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This Florida Stealth Offensive Against Unions Could Preview GOP Onslaught in 2018

Florida Republicans are pushing a bill designed to deal the state’s unions a death blow. House Bill 25, which was introduced by Longwood state Rep. Scott Plakon, would decertify any union in which 50 percent of the workers don’t pay dues, thus preventing them from being able to collectively bargain. Despite the fact that unions negotiate for the benefit of all their workers, no employee is forced to pay dues in Florida, because it’s a “Right to Work” state.

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The Self-Help Guru Who Shaped Trump’s Worldview

Taking stock of the first official year of Trump in power means withstanding a multifront assault on reality. Presented in a relentless barrage of Make America Great Again hyperbole, the president’s crushing failures are magically transformed into unprecedented successes, and all expressions of dissent become the work of petty ingrates, ideological fabulists and privileged elites. His signature initiatives—the shameful tax bill and the mercifully stalled Obamacare repeal—become historic windfalls for the very middle- and working-class constituencies they deliberately set out to beggar, to say nothing of how Trump and his apparatchiks have disfigured basic and hitherto settled facts of history, such as the notion that the Civil War was fought over slavery.

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Farmworkers Say 'Us Too,' Demanding Freedom From Sexual Violence

Ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) hit midtown Manhattan on Monday to face down the suits with chants of “Exploitation has got to go!” CIW was there to demand humane working conditions on their farms.

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How SWAT Team Expos Are Militarizing Police Departments Across the Country

Last week, the Florida SWAT Association hosted the “35th Annual SWAT Round-Up International Competition and Vendor Trade Show” in Orlando. The event brought together law enforcement and military personnel from around the world to compete against each other, train in new tactics and technologies, and buy new weapons from arms dealers. At a time when Florida residents are acutely aware of the need for climate disaster and emergency preparedness, this use of resources to further escalate policing tactics is not only wasteful, but demonstrates the increasingly dangerous power of defense industry “solutions.”

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