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To fix Greece, get your figures straight

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 4:29 PM

By Michael G. Jacobides

Greece has been making headlines again – and for all the wrong reasons. Egged on by government propaganda, the judicial system has allowed a rather grotesque case to be made against Mr Andreas Georgiou, former president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). His alleged crime was using applicable international rules to report the Greek government’s budget deficit, which had the effect of increasing it by just under 3% to a whopping 15% of GDP. Confusing cause and effect, some hot-headed Greek prosecutors claim that Georgiou’s un-sugarcoated report caused financial and social damage, leading to the EU/IMF Memorandum. Several commentators have already pointed out that shooting the messenger is a spineless, head-in-the-sand attitude. Now we have to accept that only accurate, internationally comparable figures can begin to save Greece from its financial woes.

To be fair, there are some figures that get serious play. However, they are the short-term financial goals of the Memorandum – in particular, revenues and budget expenditures. Other figures get far less airtime, as does the suicidal way in which financial corners are cut – senseless policies leading to a spiral of contraction, contribution and tax avoidance, and corporate demise. If only we focused on the right figures, things could be so different.

First up: the debt level. Here, public discourse continues to look at the wrong numbers. The term “debt to GDP” is, strange as it may sound, misleading and counterproductive. Unlike in 2009, nearly all Greek government debt that is scheduled to be repaid in the near future has an ESM back-up facility to refinance on highly concessional terms such as very low interest rates, generous grace periods and contractually agreed-upon maturities of up to almost 50 years. Calculating the debt in “present” (i.e. today’s) value, as the leading governments and businesses that follow the international accounting rules IPSAS/IFRS do, gives a much rosier view. And that is without even calculating “net debt” – that is, deducting the significant value of government financial holdings. The paradox is that instead of communicating the advantages of the Greek government debt (which will continue to improve from already agreed-upon restructuring and reprofiling), the official line continues to be that Greece will collapse without debt forgiveness.

Secondly, very few look at the impact of the Greek government’s policies on its role as manager of taxpayers’ property, including financial assets (e.g. banking shares), non-financial assets (e.g. fixed assets), financial liabilities and non-financial liabilities (e.g. government pensions). Reporting a proper balance sheet would make it clear that the reckless negotiation tactics of 2015-16 wiped out more than €30bn in government net worth – a self-inflicted loss to the taxpayer. We need to continuously assess the government’s total management capacity, including its balance sheet and changes in its net worth, to build trust and confidence not only with creditors but also with taxpayers.

Last but not least, the Greek government continues to operate without key performance indicators in vital areas such as healthcare, education, social protection and the environment. Most of the government initiatives this year have been disastrous as they affected areas which are not measured, and for which few seem to bother. Without accurate and internationally comparable numbers, and without Key Performance Indicators on policy, Greece is like a car without a driver.

The lack of figures is even more important in a country with weak media and little investigative and professional journalism. Adding insult to injury the government just restricted non-state TV to four channels through a dubious auction process won, among others by a major state contractor and a shipping owner with shady connections. All this gives politicians a license to obfuscate and avoid reality.

It’s no surprise that Greece is falling behind with its Memorandum commitments for better data in public administration. The government has hobbled the Digital Establishment Plan of the State, with the current draft legislation providing little transparency on accountability, spending, liabilities or even how many public servants have been hired. What is surprising is that Greece’s creditors don’t seem that bothered.

Creditors now need to focus on accurate, transparent and internationally comparable data, and get serious about tracking what’s happening to the Public Administration. Without data, KPI and transparency, with media weak and the population confused and depressed from one of the most significant GDP reductions in history, Greece will find itself wading through one crisis to the next. With the right data, however, Greece could finally begin to reform itself. It’s about time.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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Hillary Clinton Has Her Own 3 A.M. Tweets For Donald Trump

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 4:14 PM

By Hilary Hanson

Donald Trump’s not the only one who can tweet in the wee hours of the morning.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unleashed a series of tweets, starting at 3:20 a.m. Saturday in an apparent knock at her Republican opponent’s early Friday rant targeting former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.

Instead of a smearing a former beauty queen, however, Clinton tweeted about the merits of national service.

It’s 3:20am. As good a time as any to tweet about national service.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 1, 2016

There are hundreds of thousands more @AmeriCorps applications than spots. Horrible! Let’s expand it from 75,000 annual members to 250,000.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 1, 2016

Too many talented young people pass up on programs like @Peacecorps because of student loans. Let’s use GOOD JUDGMENT & lighten that burden.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 1, 2016

Remember, don’t believe the haters who describe America as hopeless and broken. We should lift each other up, not tear each other down.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 1, 2016

For those few people knocking public service, hope you’ll reconsider answering the call to help others. Because we’re stronger together.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 1, 2016

During Monday’s debate, Clinton brought up Trump’s prior insults toward the Venezuelan-born Machado, who was Miss Universe in 1996. Trump allegedly called the beauty queen “Miss Piggy,” after she gained some weight, and “Miss Housekeeping,” because she is Latina.

On Friday, Trump called Machado “disgusting” in a tweet and encouraged his followers to “check out” her alleged “sex tape.”

Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an “angel” without checking her past, which is terrible!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

(Though numerous people have referred to the Twitter rant as occurring at “3 a.m.,” Trump’s tweets about Machado were actually within the 5 a.m. hour. Prior to that, he sent out a tweet complaining about the media at around 3:20 a.m.)

He also accused Clinton of helping Machado become a U.S. citizen so she could “use her in the debate.” Machado told “Inside Edition” in August that she became a citizen this year partly so she could vote against Trump.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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Nuts & Bolts: Inside a Democratic Campaign—Last-Minute Expenditures

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 4:01 PM

By (Chris Reeves)

Welcome back, Saturday Campaign D-I-Y’ers! For those who tune in, welcome to the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. Each week, we discuss issues that help drive successful campaigns. If you’ve missed prior diaries, please visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide.

We’ve spent a lot of time following what our fictional candidate, Jessica Jones, should be doing in order to win her race for a state Senate candidate. We’ve also covered the importance and plan for county and state parties looking to help Jessica win.

Now that we are in October, some states are early voting and campaign mail is hitting mailboxes. Campaigns are still taking in contributions, but they have to plan where to spend. Let’s talk about those last-minute expenditures.

In many states, the track from getting mail ready, prepped and approved by a candidate, state party or any other organization involved can take several days to weeks or more, depending on revisions that may come with mail process. Because of that, planning last-minute mail drops—unless they are cookie cutter programs you have purchased through your state or county party are difficult to jump into at the last minute.

Remember, your campaign isn’t a savings plan. Donors gave you campaign funds believing you would spend the money they gave you to win the election, not save it for a later day.

With that in mind, all campaigns have some last minute campaign expenses. Now is the time to talk about those.


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Donald Trump Doesn’t Seem To Have A Clue How To Appeal To Millennials

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 4:00 PM

By Sam Levine

When it comes to courting millennials, things haven’t gone all that well for Donald Trump‘s campaign.

First, there was the tweet featuring his children that attempted to connect with millennials but was widely mocked. Then his son Eric Trump laughably claimed that his father appealed to millennials because he was an “entrepreneurial guy” who started with very little and became successful (in fact, Trump benefitted from his father’s wealth and connections throughout his career).

This election is not about Republican vs Democrat it’s about insider vs outsider. It’s time for a change in DC! #

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 2, 2016

Trump’s campaign seems to be banking on the idea that millennial voters ― those aged roughly 18 to 34 ― will support him because he is an outsider who will disrupt established political institutions. Some 50 percent of millennials consider themselves political independents, according to a 2014 Pew Research Survey.

“Like many of my fellow millennials, I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat,” Ivanka Trump said at the Republican National Convention in July. “Sometimes it’s a tough choice. That is not the case this time.”

But beyond pointing to Trump’s outsider status, the Trump campaign seems to be doing little to directly appeal to millennials ― the nation’s largest generation and an important voting block. And the tactics it has tried haven’t been so successful.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that Trump trails Hillary Clinton among registered millennial voters 50 percent to 34 percent (though the margin was smaller when third-party candidates were added to the survey).

Trump’s campaign did not respond to repeated requests to discuss its millennial outreach efforts.

“I don’t think that Donald Trump has an appeal to millennials at all. I think they have fully rejected him. Their campaign’s outreach to millennials is a joke, it basically consists of one Instagram post if his children that one of his children put up and that’s essentially it,” Addisu Demissie, Clinton’s voter outreach and mobilization director, told The Huffington Post in an interview.

While Clinton has also struggled to win over millennials, her campaign is at least making a concerted effort to do so, with at least five staffers dedicated to millennial outreach. Last month, she gave a speech addressing what’s at stake for them in the election. Recently the campaign has dispatched several surrogates popular with young voters, including first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). On Friday, her campaign released a video featuring all of them, although the video’s title ― “Squad goals” ― tried a little too hard to be hip.

Despite the tendency to group them together, Clinton’s campaign also recognizes that millennials are a diverse generation.

“We really have to understand, and we do as a campaign, that when you’re talking to a 19-year-old college student and you’re talking to a 33-year-old mother of 3, you’re not having the same conversation,” Demissie said.

The campaign has hosted events targeting different groups within the millennial generation. These have included young professional happy hours as well as events on college campuses, barber shops, sneaker stores and “black girl magic” meetups, where women of color can come together to discuss the issues affecting them.

“In our millennial program, like in any other program, we try to go to where people are. And so, barbershops and beauty salons in the black community are where people go to talk about politics often. We leverage that and take advantage of that and make sure that we’re there too to talk about politics, to talk about Hillary Clinton,” Demissie said.

Trump, meanwhile, has struggled to connect on college campuses as several college Republican groups have refused to endorse him. The 2014 Pew survey also found that millennials are the “most racially diverse generation in American history,” which bodes badly for a campaign built around insulting minority groups. Trump has repeatedly pledged to ban Muslims from entering the United States and called Mexicans rapists and criminals.

The different approaches to millennial outreach are clear from the policies each campaign lays out on their website. Clinton’s campaign website has entire sections dedicated to fighting sexual assault on college campuses, making college debt-free and ensuring equal rights for LGBT Americans. Trump’s website doesn’t address any of these issues.

While Trump’s campaign has struggled to connect with millennials, at least they’ve bought a few Snapchat filters.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly
political violence
and is a
style=”font-weight: 400;”>serial liar
style=”font-weight: 400;”>rampant xenophobe
style=”font-weight: 400;”>misogynist
>birther who has
repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from
entering the U.S.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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Gary Tyler: Wrongly Imprisoned for Decades

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 3:28 PM

By Robert Scheer

On his KCRW show “Scheer Intelligence,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer spoke with Gary Tyler, who served over 40 years in prison after being wrongly convicted as a teenager of murdering a 13-year-old boy in 1974.

After being on death row twice during his sentence, Tyler was finally freed this spring. Before his release, he directed a passion play cast only with prisoners from Angola penitentiary in Louisiana, where he was incarcerated. The experience was made into the documentary “Cast the First Stone.”

Tyler tells Scheer how the play forever changed him and the cast of prisoners, how he maintained hope over the years that he would eventually gain his freedom, and how a group of seasoned inmates helped him survive in prison.

Adapted from

Read the transcript below:

Robert Scheer: Hello, it’s Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, my weekly podcast with KCRW. The intelligence comes from our guests and today our guest is Gary Tyler, a remarkable person who got swept up in a series of events when he was 16 years old. Attempt to integrate schools in Louisiana and the viscous white resistance to it and in the process of a turmoil one such day, a young man was shot and they hunted to see who did it and despite the available evidence, they picked on Gary Tyler, a 16 year old.

Tried as an adult, denied legal competence, this was all determined by courts later, and yet, was on death row for two years in Louisiana and through a series of court decisions invalidating – the Supreme Court – Invalidating the death penalty, he ended up serving life without possibility of parole.

However, this last April, was finally paroled after 41 and a half years in Angola Penitentiary, one of the largest and fearsome prisons in the United States, if not the world. Welcome, Gary Tyler. Let’s begin with the 16 year old who’s blamed and fingered for murder and convicted and looking at electrocution.

Gary Tyler: Thank you, Bob. On October the 7th, 1974, I was a 16 year old juvenile and that morning, there was a rumor that there was going to be an altercation blacks and white students at the school. I was earlier suspended after I departed from the bus and I was suspended three days and I left. Later I was brought back to the school by one of the deputies that felt that I was not only truant but also suspect of being one of the perpetrators that was involved in a racial conflict at Destrehan High School at the time. When he brought me back to school and found out that I was not the one that the principals and everything felt that was part of the incident, I was immediately ordered to depart from his vehicle.

Upon doing so, a decision was made between myself and the guy that I was with to catch a ride on the school buses that was going back to the community. At that time, they was ushering people on the bus, not the exact bus that was going directly to their community. We was put on a school bus and as we departed from the school, there was a shot. Many on the bus panicked feeling as though they were being shot at. Of course, the bus driver stopped. Later, he was told to park the bus on a side road and when he did that, that’s when everybody was being pulled off the school bus and was searched.

Little did we know at the time, that someone was shot and we just felt that during the time of the heyday of the racial integration at the schools that it was just one of those things that routinely that we were being harassed that we were being discouraged from going to school.

When I look – we were being deported and ordered to go in a vacant parking lot and I, of course, along with the other students, we were basically gathered in that general area. I saw my cousin, he was being harassed and pulled aside. I wanted to know what was happening and he told me that they was arresting him for having a .22 bullet around his neck. I protested. The deputy told me to come back across the ditch. As I was attempting to do so, that’s when I was stopped by another police officer. I protested and one thing led to another and I was arrested for disturbing the peace and interfering in police officer’s duty.

After everything cleared up at the school, that’s when I was, you could say, transported to the substation. They went to asking questions. When I didn’t have the answer, then that’s when they went to beating on me and like I said, for about two to three hours. I was beaten by several police officers in the substation until my mother intervened because she heard the beating in the room. She demanded that she see somebody. When they tried to transfer me to another room, then that’s when she saw what happened. I called out and told her that they was accusing me of doing something about a murder. Little did I know at the time, that someone had gotten shot. Everyone at the time was a suspect, but little did I know, later on I was the prime suspect behind it. They transported me and they charged me with first-degree murder of a 13 year old white kid at the school.

RS: As the facts emerged, first of all, you were very poorly defended and the courts were critical of that eventually –

GT: Right.

RS: You were tried as an adult, even though you were 16 and you got international attention of having been wrongfully imprisoned. You were on death row for two years.

GT: Yes.

RS: And got off death row and ended up, until this last April, being in Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana for 41 and half years. How did you get from being wrongfully accused, you’re 16 years old, you’re in this really rough prison and you’re on death row for two years. Why aren’t you crazy? Why weren’t you destroyed by this?

Many people ask me that question, a lot. Sometimes the answer that I give them, I guess it’s not enough because many of them say that despite everything that I told them, that if they were in my situation that they would be stark mad and that they would hate the world. I guess, in a way, they are right about that, but you know, for some reason a human being, they are genetically built to endure the difficulties that we find ourselves going though.

I guess, at the time, when I was in prison, I was introduced to a culture that I never thought existed. I mean, not in my mind. I could never fathom that something like this existed, period. I was sent to a prison at a very young age and a prison that, at one time, had been declared the bloodiest prison in the United State. As a child, you know we heard a lot about it. We never thought – well that was no concern of mine, because I’d never go to prison. Unfortunately, I wound up in prison. And not only on death row, but also there was an execution date set on me. May the 1st, 1976. That beared heavily on my mind.

I guess when I went to prison, I didn’t know anybody. I’ll never forget that when I went to death row, they had these doors that were slamming and prisoners shouting and hollering. It was like being introduced to an insane asylum, I guess.

When I was put on a tier, it was a short tier with 14 people. No, I take that back, there were 13 people on the tier. I was assigned cell eight. When I stepped across that threshold in that cell, that’s when the cell door slammed behind me and at that time, it was one of the most weirdest sounds I ever heard. But it was like my fate had been sealed. That now my execution date was set and I was going to set there until that day come. And it was fast approaching.

Nonetheless, then on death row, I’d gotten to know some guys that at that time, they was considered the incorrigibles. The worst of the worst in prison. That the prison administrators feared and the kept them locked up in c-cell, in which case, close cell restriction. They kept these guys monitored. They thought the worst of these guys.

For some reason, these guys when they saw me come on that tier, as young as I was, in which case, I didn’t know anybody, wasn’t familiar with the culture of prison. What they did, they formed a bond around me; they took me in. We’re talking about guys who was in prison for murdering other prisoners, who committed horrible crimes in prison. But, when they saw me, they saw their little brother, they saw their son, they saw their nephew, they even saw their neighbor’s child, and they knew that no way in the world, physically, that I’d be able to survive this environment if they didn’t step up to help me. And that’s what they did. And I contribute that to those guys, because they were able to help me to survive and gather my footing while I was in prison. They gave me the best of themselves and I guess because they knew that their lives was over with and they saw hope within me.

RS: You had some people on the outside trying to help your case, right?

GT: Right, right. I had, you know, even after 41 and half years later, those very people –

RS: Well, there’s a guy here who teaches here at USC, Bill Blum, who’s a former judge. He wrote an article about your case back in 1970.


Advocating your case. And then I look back at the record and there were famous rock groups and others who had songs about you. Your case did get some attention and publicity.

GT: Right. Yes.

But it still didn’t get you out.

No, it didn’t. What it did was that it kept my plight alive with the public. It reminded people of the injustice that not only had been perpetrated against me, that I was still in this suspended, you understand, state of injustice. It gave me hope knowing that people were out there. People who correspond with me, the letters that I’ve gotten from people, the cards, who have constantly, on an annual basis, encouraged me to hold, to stand, to be strong. And, don’t let this get the best of you that one day something good going to happen.

RS: So how did you get involved with the theater group in prison?

GT: Well, after getting out of CCR and later, the cell block, there was a guy named Herman Smith. He was over the drama club. He was looking forward to going home. He read a lot about me and he felt that he wanted to leave the organization in some capable hands. Now, I never ran no organization before in my life. The only thing I had for me is who I am and my reputation. But he felt that I would be a good addition to the drama club.

RS: So this is a guy who’s getting out of prison and he cares that the drama club continue?

Yes. Because drama club was one of the earliest organizations that was established in prison because back then, they did not have any recreational activities that was in the prison itself. When later, when the inmates was allowed to establish self-help programs, the drama club was one of the organizations that was earlier developed. And he had been the president of that organization ever since.

He singled you out. Let me ask you though, the thing that happened with the drama club, which brings us to the question of this movie that people can watch that shows about your production. First, there was a woman that helped you and then the warden who got involved.

GT: Right.

RS: And it kind of got mixed up with telling the story of Jesus and that this was supported by the local Baptist, Christian community, right? Or, Catholic community in Louisiana? How did that happen? You’d done a lot of plays with this drama club.

GT: Yes, we did numerous productions inside of the prison, matter of fact, we were one of the first prison organizations that traveled around the state, performing at universities, college, schools, and civic centers. Bring our message out. And what we did was that, we had wrote plays centered around social issues like teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, Alcoholic Anonymous, and various other things. We performed around the country, excuse me, around the state with our production. So, it kind of, like gave the guys in the organization, you understand, it gave them that experience. They was able to sharpen their acting abilities. But, you know, after so many years of performing, you had people that able to build their confidence, people that able to feel as though that they could just about do anything.

RS: Well the startling thing about, I didn’t see the play, which was performed at the prison. But the film about the play, everyone in, and we didn’t get to this part, but insisted on having women actors come over from the women prison. Every single person who made the cut, I guess you had auditions, they were all, like, stellar actors. The were professionally incredible.

What is the title, by the way?

GT: Cast the First Stone.

Yes. How did that play, that particular production come about?

It came about through one of the assistant wardens that went to Scotland. She went to Scotland on a tour and she was invited to a Passion Play and she watched it and she liked what she saw. She felt, I guess she got an idea that, that this same production could be performed in Angola. But when she came back, she went to the religious community in the prison and asked them would they be willing to do the play. And, of course, many of them had their reservation. The felt that they weren’t capable of doing it and, at the same time, my name kept coming up in the middle of the conversation.

She, at the time, she wanted the religious community because they felt that by Angola having one of the biggest faith-based program in the nation that it would have been good having graduates of the Bible college performing the play. Not realizing that those guys were not actors. Those guys were basically typical plain, just old prisoners. They did not have any acting experience and many of them kind of shoned away from it. But they kept telling her that, “You need to get Gary to do it, get Gary to do it. If anybody can make this happen, Gary can do it.”

Later she came to me and she asked me about it. Would I be willing to do this? Of course, I had my reservations. How it would look for me to do a Christian play in a prison that thrives off of Christianity. And that many of them know that I was not a man of any Christian or religious belief. And that they would vehemently be against me taking on that responsibility. But little did I know that they was the ones that kept recommending that I was the one to do the production.

RS: This is actually a good side of the impact of religion in that this warden, because he’s on your film, he’s in the film –

GT: Right.

RS: He says, “Well, you know, the other thing of just oppressing these people and beating them down and everything is not working; we got to do something else here.” And he said he was inspired that through Jesus’ message of love and understanding and openness, something other could happen, right?

GT: Right.

RS: I know you’re not, you don’t call yourself a religious person, although many of your actors are. Not all Christian.

GT: Right

RS: You have Buddhist, Muslims.

GT: Muslims, Jewish.

RS: But the fact of the matter is, this is a case where that religious impulse that was brought into the prison basically from more conservative, Southern-types ended up being a good thing, you know?

GT: Yes, of course. One thing that I’m also asked that I have to the liberty to rewrite the script. I was given the latitude to do that. What I did, in turn, was –

RS: You got to rewrite the Bible?

GT: Well, what I did was, I kind of like, you could say, compacted it a little more and took out the more practical things out of the script, you understand? We’re talking about a play that it took over three to four hours to perform. The Passion Play. And I had to do this play within 2 hours. So I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do everything in the script, so give me the liberty to change things, and I’m then going to give, you understand, you what you want.

I took some things out and I also wrote characters in the script as well as one in particular, Judas, because I felt that Judas was a pivotal character back then. We’re talking about someone who had betrayed Jesus. That’s all many people remember Judas about. I realized that what Judas did, he was destined to do that. Even though he was destined to do that very act, that it was something that was ordained from the heavens. And that we look at Judas as the betrayer of Jesus, but Judas could be setting right there next to Jesus in heaven today. Because he was forgiven by Jesus. Despite the treacherous act that he committed, he was forgiven by Jesus.

And right there, I felt that it showed redemption; it showed forgiveness and that’s why I wanted Judas, you understand, to be a pivotal role in the play itself.

RS: So let me ask you, first of all, most of the actors are African American in the play, right? Is the prison population disproportionately –

The prison population, yes, of course, disproportionately, African American.

RS: And yet, within that community, you have people who are not. You had, as I said before, different religions and different attitudes, but the interesting thing was that the ideas were ideas that everyone could grab onto and relate back to their own life. The amazing thing about watching that is you are watching and listening to a conversation that is as intelligent as you’re ever going to listen to but from people who are basically not well-educated, I assume, or not all, and have had a hard life and are in a prison and have every reason to be cynical and say, “who needs this,” and yet, you have one of the most thoughtful discussions of the meaning of life and of values and of the worth of individuals. Precisely as the image of Christ that we have was intended to convey.

GT: Right.

RS: Right. And all these notions of forgiveness. I was amazed that the warden seemed to endorse that whole approach. Were you surprised in his little speech?

GT: Yes, I was, and I felt that it was needed. It was needed to the women and men that was in the production because you know, let’s look at where we’re at. We’re talking about people who are serving life sentences, who are serving a long stretch in prison, whether it’s life or not and, they could have been doing other things. They all agreed to do this production because they felt that this gave them an opportunity to be able to give back to society. It gave them a chance to be able to show people that they were not that person that they were when they first went to prison. That they have changed. And also to be able to prove to their families that despite where they are at, that they can make the best out of a bad situation.

Of course, I was able to recruit people from all walks of life in the prison. Also, that we’re talking about some people that had disciplinary problems and I knew these guys. I knew that giving them a chance, an opportunity, I could help transform them. I like that I had opportunity to interview and audition, you understand, these guys, because I opened it up to the prison population and I was getting, if you consider the worst of the worst, and to hear these guys say, “Give me chance. Let me prove myself.” It’s like people asking society, “Give me a second chance.” So, I heard their cries and I gave them that chance. I found them to be the most committed and dedicated actors that I had in the production.

RS: Even though as you say in the movie, many of them knew they were only leaving that prison in a casket?

GT: Yes, yes.

RS: Who was Jesus in your play?

GT: Jesus was performed by a guy named Bobby Wallace, who now is out.

RS: And the performance, is it an open area in part of the prison?

GT: Yes, but it was performed in the Rodeo Arena.

RS: Tell me about the audience because it was a lot of family –

It was open to the public and the public, family members, people from various universities and schools. It was – We had a very resounding attendance from the public. Before the ladies and men stepped on that stage I was able to talk to them. I let them know that this was their moment, not mine. It was theirs. I did everything I could to help them. I gave them the best of me so now everything was in their court and it was, understand, it was their time to shine and fortunately, they rose to the occasion. They went out there and the performed like champs.

RS: When I watched the movie on the play, I had a sense – I wouldn’t say I believe any more in a heaven, a hell and an afterlife, I certainly did feel it was inspirational. I felt touched, touched. I wonder if you felt, having spent so much time with this material, whatever you think about religion, you’re dealing with the basic issues of human existence. What is the meaning of life? What is right and wrong? What do I stand for? Who am I? Did you become, were you influenced by it?

GT: Yes, of course. You’re influenced by everything that goes on in life and doing this production wasn’t any difference to me. I always felt that even though I wasn’t a religious man, that I was a spiritual man. I’m someone that I can accept anyone for who they are and what they believe in. Because I feel that to accept people for who they are, it gives you an opportunity to get to know them, to be able to appreciate them. And having to work with the men and the women of these two different prisons, what it did was that, it helped educate me. It helped gave me a profound appreciation of working with people, you understand, from various backgrounds. I can set here and tell you those very people, regardless of their belief, they have showed me that they have changed. That they are not the people they were when they first went to prison.

RS: The interesting thing about this film is it’s also a documentary. You see scenes from the play but, you also see people having arguments. You see somebody who you go visit in his cell and he’s falling off, right? He’s gotten involved with some druggers –

GT: Yes, he’d gotten in a physical altercation with another prisoner.

RS: He can’t be in the play at that time.

GT: Yes.

RS: You get a lot of this human interaction. However, I – Not however, because of that I defy anyone to watch this film and still think of people in our – This massive incarcerated population that we have in this country, the largest in the world, certainly, by far as proportional to our population, and think of them as the other. Not think of them as themselves, their own family, their own people. I think that is the great achievement of this film. That it forces you to recognize the humanity of people that we have systematically attempted to put out of sight, out of mind, and deny their humanity. I think it’s a singularly important artistic achievement. I want to thank you once again for doing this and to encourage people to check it out; it’s really profound. Thank you.

Thank you, Robert for having me here.

RS: This is Robert Scheer, another edition of Scheer Intelligence where the intelligence is supplied by my guests, in this case, Gary Tyler, 41 and a half years in prison, great director of an important play. Maybe one of the most important plays that you can see and his film version. My producers have been, Joshua Scheer and Rebecca Mooney. Technical engineers are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore, here at USC where they’ve generously supplied the studio, Sebastian Grubar. See you next week for another edition of Scheer Intelligence.

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Donald Trump Reportedly Pressured His Second Wife To Appear In Playboy

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 3:07 PM

By Sam Stein

In an apparent pique on Friday morning, Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter against Alicia Machado― the former Miss Universe winner who has become a forceful critic of the GOP presidential nominee ― accusing her of, among other things, appearing in a sex tape.

The charges, and Trump, came off as manic; not least because they were leveled at roughly 5:30 a.m. They were also hypocritical. Trump had made a cameo in a softcore porn film in 1999, titled “Playboy Video Centerfold 2000,” BuzzFeed News reported on Friday afternoon. He wasn’t naked or having sex, just breaking a champagne bottle over a car in the video’s opening scenes. Still, of the two principles in this argument only one ― the accuser ― had actually made an appearance in porn.

But the attack on Machado seemed hallow for another reason. Before running for office, Trump showed little disgust with women appearing in pornography. He bragged about watching Paris Hilton’s sex tape with his wife, Melania Trump. And while dating his soon-to-be-second wife Marla Maples in 1990, he reportedly encouraged her to appear in Playboy. Here is how the Sun-Sentinel reported it on Aug. 19, 1990:

“Donald doesn’t want Marla to look like she’s against Ivana,” says Trump’s P.R. guru Chuck Jones. “Donald wants picture approval. Donald says to emphasize her early years.”

Notably, she did resist Trump’s insistence that she accept Playboy magazine’s million-dollar centerfold offer. “Trump himself was on the phone negotiating the fee,” remembers a top Playboy editor. “He wanted her to do the nude layout. She didn’t.” (“I’m thankful for my body, but I didn’t want to exploit it,” Marla offers. “How would I ever be taken seriously?”)

And here is the article in its original format:

@LPDonovan Nifty find. Trump pressuring his future wife to pose for Playboy. Personally negotiated the fee.

— Jeff Nichols (@backwards_river) October 1, 2016

As Jezebel first reported, this wasn’t exactly a one-time intuition on Trump’s behalf. He also reportedly tried to get Playboy to run a spread on the women who worked for him.

The Trump campaign did no return request for comment.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

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Clinton, Trump And China’s Cognitive Dissonance

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 2:44 PM

By Tom Doctoroff

There are no reliable polls in China to assess the preference for the outcome of U.S. presidential election. The Chinese are conflicted but, in the end, probably prefer a Hillary Clinton victory.

The PRC is pulled between twin desires of nationalistic release and geopolitical stability. The former is emotionally charged, while the latter is rooted in a deeply-rooted pragmatic instinct.

First, nationalism. In China, individual ambition — the desire to make a mark that is acknowledged by society — is trenchant. The country’s Confucian hierarchy is fundamentally meritocratic. Billionaires form peasant backgrounds are folk heroes. Chinese have a dragons in their hearts. Te urge to surge is a primal instinct, even amongst non-middle class individuals.

However, society remains highly regimented. Social and professional ladders are blocked by factors ranging from underdeveloped institutions to a power structure built upon opaque relationships of mutual obligation (“guanxi”).

As a result, aggressive impulses are repressed. Individual identities are smothered, burdened by layers of suppressed expression. Brand China–nationalism–is seized en masse as the ultimate identity surrogate.

The Chinese, vulnerable to charismatic demagoguery, see Donald Trump for what he is — a narcissistic, non-strategic decision maker. Confounded by the combination of America’s industrially prowess and its narrow worldview, few mainlanders understand how Trump could win the nomination of a Republican party traditionally associated with free markets and pro-business policies.

But the Chinese are enjoying a frisson of schadenfreude. Most believe Tump would be a disaster for the United States, economically and geo-politically, and a short-term boon for the PRC. China’s rise during the during the Bush administration coincided with our distractions in the Middle East. Despite Trump’s anti-China rhetoric, his impulsiveness would force America to take its eye off the ball. The country’s rise — that is, the realization of Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” — would continue with fewer externally-imposed constraints. China’s strategies for international infrastructural and financial dominance through the “One Belt, One Road” framework and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) initiative would encounter less resistance by a distressed American administration.

That said, the Chinese are relentless pragmatists. Yes, the Communist Party has made untenable territorial claims in the South China Sea. True, the country’s military build up has been, and will continue to be, aggressive. In China, stability, domestic and international, is sublime. Ascent will not continue without robust international institutions, many of which are anathema to Donald Trump. No matter how successful the central government is in rebalancing the economy toward domestic consumption, exports to Western markets, which have fueled more than 60 percent of economic expansion since 1990, will determine growth rates for decades to come. China grasps the dangers of chaos on an almost primordial level. It has learned from the thirty years of economic and social disaster triggered by post-Liberation isolation that walls, at least outside cyberspace, are counterproductive. In China, there is no desire, even among reactionary military factions, to become divorced from global forces of progress.

Donald Trump represents a threat to the global international order and, hence, a threat to the well-being of Chinese families and their children. Hillary Clinton will not be loved. She’s too emotional inaccessible and tends to hector in a patronizing way proud Chinese find offensive. She also doesn’t the charisma of Obama, a savvy cool cat who conquered the conventional order to actually become the order. (Mold-breaking is tolerated in China but only as a means to an end, a tool of advancement within an omnipresent hierarchy.) And she is a more brazen proponent of American exceptionalism. But she is, above all else, a rationalist and a proponent of the existing international order. In her words, she is “afflicted with a responsibility gene.”

Hillary Clinton is China’s safe, albeit not emotional satisfying, choice. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for stability. And, in the Middle Kingdom, stability is sublime.

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40 Years of Hyde: Harmful Policy Attacking Women’s Health and Liberty Rights

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 2:19 PM

By Elizabeth G. Taylor

Comprehensive, quality health care must include all family planning services. And all people, not just the privileged, should have their health rights respected. At the moment, and for far too many moments in our country’s history, women – particularly low-income and women of color — have not been able to fully realize their liberty and health rights.

For instance, low-income women, disproportionately women of color, are routinely denied access to abortion care that women of means are not. Like too much in our health care system, and the justice system for that matter, there are some who enjoy the full benefits of liberty and others who are denied them. In this case government policy has infringed on the ability of women to control their destinies and make their own health care decisions for themselves and their families. That must change.

Medicaid, our nation’s largest health care provider, must once again include coverage of abortion care. Without such public insurance coverage, we are collectively failing our entire nation, but more so our nation’s most vulnerable, those living on insufficient incomes or mired in poverty. That’s why the National Health Law Program and many other public interest and advocacy groups have been speaking out and taking action to turn the tide on the Hyde Amendment, a congressional maneuver that greatly limits Medicaid funding for abortion care.

Forty years ago this fall, Rep. Henry Hyde pushed through a bill that banned public funding for abortion, thus denying low income women access to a full range of essential health service and undermining the genius and promise of Medicaid. Hyde, could not use the government to directly deny a fundamental liberty – to abortion, so he settled for denying access to this liberty to our nation’s most vulnerable: low-income women who qualify for Medicaid.

Susan Berke Fogel, NHeLP’s Director of Reproductive Health programs, notes often that the work we do at NHeLP is about protecting the legal health rights of low-income and underserved people, and that reproductive care is core to the quality comprehensive health care that NHeLP protects. She elaborated on this at the Coalition for Liberty & Justice Forum in D.C. this month, in a discussion about Catholic-operated health care systems that too often limit reproductive care for women because of religious dictates –another limit on women’s liberty. Indeed, the former acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dillinger has eloquently noted on several occasions the irony of conservative lawmakers who disdain so-called big government but have no qualms about interfering with personal health care decisions of women. “We hear the talks about government intrusions into health care – that this represents an extraordinary step about liberty,” Dellinger said during a panel discussion at the 2011 ACS national convention. “And I just cannot, any longer, refrain from making the observation that it is really ironic and disturbing to hear that liberty lecture come from people talking about [a] government takeover of medical care, many of whom would legislate the imposition upon women of unnecessary waiting periods, government scripted lectures, compulsory sonogram viewings, and government mandated unsafe medical procedures.”

Forty years on, and all evidence stacks up the way Justice Thurgood Marshall suspected it would when he wrote in his dissent to Harris v. McRae, the narrow Supreme Court opinion upholding the Hyde Amendment, that it would bar low-income women from their constitutional right to abortion, while women of greater means, mostly white women, would enjoy greater liberty.

At NHeLP we strive to protect and advance the health rights of low-income people. Medicaid, as pointed out in this new Commonwealth Fund survey, is popular, successful, and integral to our nation’s health care system (and states expanding Medicaid are also seeing great benefits economically with lower health costs and more health care jobs). Medicaid serves about 73 million people in our country. And yet the Hyde Amendment, which blocks Medicaid funding for most abortions, continues to greatly hobble the noble law.

Although states may fund abortion care services through Medicaid, many do not. Further, as Ann M. Starrs writes for Guttmacher Institute 60 percent of reproductive-aged women eligible for Medicaid are living in states with restrictions on funding of abortion care, and a disproportionate number of them are women of color.

What the Hyde Amendment has wrought is inexplicably bad public policy. It’s a policy that targets low-income women, limits their health rights and their constitutional rights, and either drives them into poverty or makes it increasingly difficult for them to overcome poverty. We cannot afford to hobble our nation’s women this way.

Congress does not have to remain beholden to the Hyde Amendment, and it’s far past time for it to move beyond this outdated and harmful policy.

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Obama proclaims paid sick leave ‘is not a side issue’ in weekly address

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 2:01 PM

By (Susan Gardner)


YouTube Video

… too much of our wealth is still taken by the top – and that leaves too many families still working paycheck to paycheck, without a lot of breathing room.

There are two things we can do about this. We can prey on people’s worries for political gain. Or we can actually do something to help working families feel more secure in today’s economy.

President Obama focused on the importance of paid sick leave for workers in this morning’s weekly address, pointing out that although the economy has improved under his stewardship, we still have a long ways to go to help the working and middle classes. And while he’s been stymied at every turn by the Republicans in Congress, he’s doing what he can to help—including requiring new federal contractors to provide seven days of sick leave each year to employees.

He’s closing out his presidency strong, and he closed out the weekly address strong too:

Paid sick leave isn’t a side issue, or a women’s issue, or something that’s just nice to have. It’s a must-have. By the way, so are economic priorities like child care, paid family leave, equal pay, and a higher minimum wage. We need a Congress that will act on all these issues, too, because they’d make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Americans who are working hard every day. It’s more than talk – it’s action. And that’s what you should demand of every politician who wants the privilege to serve you.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.


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Dump Chump Trump

Article posted October 1, 2016 at 1:29 PM

By William Astore What kind of a presidential candidate tweets in the middle of the night about alleged sex tapes involving a former Miss Universe winner? Indeed, what kind of a man does this?

Donald Trump is a chump. I’d call him a chimp, except it would be an insult to chimpanzees everywhere. The man has no discipline, no sense of decorum, and no compassion for others (let’s not forget his signature line, “You’re fired”). Indeed, he seems to revel in humiliating others. This was mildly amusing when he was taking on equals on the stage during the Republican primaries, but it’s disturbing in the extreme to see him bullying the little guys and gals for whom he’s supposedly a champion.

So many sane people and major newspapers have gone on record as being against Trump that there’s little I can add. Sadly, Trump’s followers seem unperturbed and undisturbed no matter his insults and tyrannical behavior.

All I can say is this: Trump is not the kind of man my father taught me to be. My dad, who fought forest fires in Oregon in the CCC, a veteran of an armored division in World War II, a city firefighter for more than 30 years until his retirement, treated people fairly and squarely. He was humble about himself and considerate to others. I can’t recall him insulting others, certainly not in the intentional and hurtful way that Trump directs at others. Trump is especially fond of attacking women or minorities or anyone he sees as vulnerable, the very opposite of my dad’s code of behavior.

Don’t get me wrong: my dad wasn’t perfect. He had his faults. But his faults were not directed at others; he didn’t try to demean or diminish other people, as Trump so obviously enjoys doing. Unlike Trump, my dad wasn’t boastful; indeed, three favorite sayings of his were: “Still waters run deep,” “Don’t toot your own horn,” and “The empty barrel makes the most noise.”

You were right, Dad. The rushing nonsense from Trump exhibits his shallowness; the man is constantly tweeting his own horn; and, like the empty vessel that he is, he makes an awful amount of noise.

Trump: Not the kind of man my father would respect; not the kind of man our country needs.

Dump chump Trump.

Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor, blogs at Bracing Views.

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