‘Racist’ Gandhi statue removed from University of Ghana

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Men removing the Gandhi statue Image copyright Emmanuel Dzivenu/JoyNews

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the famed Indian independence leader, has been removed from a university campus in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

University of Ghana lecturers began a petition for its removal shortly after it was unveiled in 2016 by India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee.

The petition said Gandhi was “racist” and African heroes should be put first.

In the wake of the row, Ghana’s government at the time said the statue would be relocated.

Lecturers and students told the BBC that the statue, originally located at the university’s recreational quadrangle, had been removed on Wednesday.

The university confirmed this, saying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was responsible.

Law student Nana Adoma Asare Adei told the BBC: “Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [his alleged racism], I don’t think we should have his statue on campus.”

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th Century. He is best known for leading non-violent resistance to British colonial rule in India.

However, as a young man he lived and worked in South Africa, and although he has inspired people throughout the world his comments on black Africans have been controversial.

In his early writings he referred to black South Africans as “kaffirs” – a highly offensive racist slur. He also said that Indians were “infinitely superior” to black people.

Lecturers and students at the University of Ghana pose in celebration after statue is removed (12 December 2018) Image copyright Emmanuel Dzivenu/JoyNews
Image caption Lecturers and students celebrated in front of the newly empty plinth after the statue was removed

From the BBC

Posted By The NON-Conformist

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Man at center of North Carolina election fraud probe turned in hundreds of absentee ballot requests

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The man at the center of an election fraud investigation in a North Carolina congressional race turned in nearly half of the requests for absentee ballots in a single county, records released Tuesday by the state’s elections board show.

Leslie McCrae Dowless, a veteran political operative in Bladen County who was convicted of insurance fraud in 1992 and was connected to questionable absentee ballot activity in another election, is at the center of a probe into unusual activity in the county.
Dowless worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris, a Baptist minister who tallied 905 more votes than Democratic businessman and retired Marine Dan McCready.
Dowless personally turned in 592 of the 1,341 total absentee ballots requested in Bladen County. Only 684 absentee ballots were ultimately cast in the county. Dowless did not return CNN’s request for comment. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer.
The state’s Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement last week refused to certify Harris as the winner as it investigates potential misconduct. If the nine-member board determines the election was tainted enough to cast doubt on its outcome, it can order another election.
The probe appears to focus on Bladen and Robeson counties, which each had unusually high rates of absentee ballot requests and unreturned absentee ballots.
In Bladen County, officials kept records of who turned in absentee ballot requests in person. Those records were made public by the state elections board late Tuesday afternoon.
The board also released envelopes of 184 absentee ballots in Bladen County they received back as return to sender mail because it was undeliverable. These ballots were requested in some form but the addresses designated were undeliverable.
Both Bladen County and Dowless have been at the center of controversy over absentee ballots before. In 2014, Dowless worked for Jim McVicker, who was narrowly elected sheriff amid allegations of absentee ballot misconduct. McVicker did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday and his office said he was unavailable.
In 2016, Dowless — this time as a winning candidate in a race for the Bladen Soil and Water Conservation District — claimed absentee ballot irregularities. The state board of elections dismissed his complaint.
In recent 9th Congressional District elections, absentee ballots have tipped in favor of the candidates employing Dowless.
In 2016, Todd Johnson, a Republican who had hired Dowless as he opposed Rep. Robert Pittenger in a primary, won 221 of the 226 absentee ballots cast in the district — even as Johnson finished third in the primary. Johnson did not respond to requests for comment Monday and Tuesday.
This year, Harris won 437 absentee ballots in Bladen County to Pittenger’s 17, though there was no allegation of ballot tampering in that race. Harris won 420 absentee votes in the general election in Bladen County to McCready’s 258.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her office and the State Bureau of Investigation have launched criminal investigations into what appear to be voting irregularities in Bladen County in 2016.
Freeman told CNN she opened the investigation this February based on information forwarded by the state elections board. The same information was sent to Bladen County District Attorney Jon David, she said, but he requested that Freeman take the lead in the probe.
“That investigation is ongoing and encompasses now those 2016 and 2018 election cycles and focuses on what appear to be absentee ballot irregularities,” Freeman said.
She said the probe, which includes reviewing documents and interviewing witnesses, currently focuses on Bladen County but may expand beyond it. She also said she is in communication with federal authorities, but did not offer more details.
Dowless is also at the center of allegations that absentee ballots were tampered with. A set of 161 ballots obtained by CNN showed that nine people individually signed as “witnesses” on at least 10 absentee ballots. Many of those nine are loosely connected to Dowless, a review of social media accounts and public records showed.
North Carolina requires witnesses to sign absentee ballots. Usually, those witnesses are family members or friends. But a CNN review found three witnesses signed more than 40 ballots each, another signed 30 and three other people signed more than 10 apiece.
One of those people, Ginger Eason, told CNN affiliate WSOC that Dowless paid her between $75 and $100 per week to pick up finished absentee ballots. She said she handed them to Dowless and isn’t sure what happened after that.
Lacy Allison, a voter in Bladenboro, told CNN on Tuesday that Lisa Britt, a Dowless associate, had filled out an application for an absentee ballot for him. Allison said Britt had told him she’d bring it back for him to sign — but he never saw her again.
He shared Britt’s phone number with CNN, but when reached, Britt said she had no comment.
Emma Shipman, a Bladen County resident who filed an affidavit with the state elections board, said Tuesday that she’d had no interest in voting and wasn’t sure why an absentee ballot had arrived — but that she gave it to a woman who came to her door offering to help fill it out and turn it in.
Shipman said she doesn’t know who she voted for.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said.
In a sworn affidavit submitted to the elections board by North Carolina Democrats, one man says he spoke to Dowless in April and that Dowless told him he was working on absentee ballots for Harris and McVicker this year and had more than 80 people working for him.
Harris’ campaign acknowledged it had received a subpoena for documents from the state elections board.
“I want to emphasize — again — that the campaign was not aware of any illegal conduct in connection with the 9th District race; however, the campaign intends to cooperate with all lawful investigations of the conduct of the election and, like everyone else, is awaiting the outcome of the investigation by the State Board,” said John Branch, an attorney for the Harris campaign, in a statement.
By Eric Bradner, Adam Levy, Drew Griffin and Curt Devine/CNN
Posted by The NON-Conformist

How George H.W. Bush exploited racism to win the Oval Office

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Vice President George H.W. Bush, left, and Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis before their presidential debate in Los Angeles in October 1988. (Lennox McLendon/AP)

In the wake of former president George H.W. Bush’s death, media outlets are filled with eulogies and assessments of his legacy. As that plays out, some liberals have raised one of the ugliest parts of Bush’s record — his use of the case of Willie Horton to attack Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-Mass.) during the 1988 presidential campaign. In response, some conservatives have leaped to Bush’s defense.

So for those of you who are too young, or for whom the memory has faded, I thought it might be useful to clear up some facts and to consider what that episode really tells us about Bush, the Republican Party, and American politics more generally.

Here’s the background: William Horton was a convicted felon in Massachusetts when Dukakis was governor. The state had a furlough program — begun by Dukakis’s predecessor — that, as a reward for good behavior, would allow some inmates to leave prison for a few days at a time and then return. On one such furlough, Horton ran, eventually breaking into a couple’s home where he assaulted the man and raped the woman. The story was the subject of a multipart series in a small Massachusetts newspaper. After the controversy, Dukakis shut down the furlough program.

During the 1988 primaries, the Massachusetts furlough program was brought up by Al Gore, but was barely noticed. When the Bush campaign got a hold of it in the general election, however, they knew they had something powerful. As Bush campaign strategist Lee Atwater said, “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.”

And you could have searched the nation and not found a crime more perfectly made to harmonize so purely with a couple of centuries’ worth of racist ideology and propaganda about black men, crime, violence and sexual threat. Here, you had a big dangerous black convict not only raping a white woman, but doing it while her fiance lay helpless on the floor.

And for the cherry on top, here is something almost no one remembers, something that gives more dimension to the barely concealed subtext of the political attack: No one ever referred to William Horton as “Willie” before Republicans started doing it in 1988. He referred to himself as William, court documents call him William and, in the many articles about his Massachusetts case before 1988, he is always referred to as William. Once Republicans — including George H.W. Bush — started telling the story, somebody decided to rename him “Willie.” (For more on this, you can refer to my old mentor Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s 1992 book “Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy.”)

More from Paul Waldman/WAPO

Posted by The NON-Conformist

GM to slash 14,700 jobs in North America

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General Motors
By TOM KRISHER and ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writers

General Motors will lay off 14,700 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.
The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won’t be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. They will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.
Plants without products include assembly plants in Detroit; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario. Also affected are transmission factories in Warren, Michigan, as well as Baltimore.
About 6,000 factory workers could lose jobs in the U.S. and Canada, although some could transfer to truck plants.
___
General Motors is closing a Canadian plant at the cost of about 2,500 jobs, but that is apparently just a piece of a much broader, company-wide restructuring that will be announced as early as Monday.

A person briefed on the matter told The Associated Press that the plant being shuttered in Canada is just the beginning as GM prepares for the next economic downturn, shifting trade agreements under the Trump administration, and potential tariffs on imported automobiles.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement hasn’t been made public.
In the fall, the Detroit automaker offered buyouts to 18,000 white collar workers, but it has yet to say how many accepted, or if it’s close to meeting the staff reduction goals it set to better withstand leaner times.
The Monday closure of GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ontario, was confirmed late Sunday by an official familiar with the decision. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly ahead of the announcement.
GM needs to reshape the company as it shifts its focus to lower emitting hybrid vehicles, technology that is not at the forefront at the Canadian plant.
Too many GM factories are devoted to making slow-selling cars and the company can no longer afford to keep them all operating without making some tough decisions. But the political atmosphere might limit realistic choices for the Detroit automaker.

Industry analysts are already plotting out possible targets for GM, including its sprawling Lordstown plant in northeastern Ohio. The car produced there is also is built in Mexico. The once-bustling factory already has lost two of its three shifts and 3,000 union jobs since the beginning of last year.
But moving that car, the Chevrolet Cruze, south of the border brings the risk of provoking a backlash from President Donald Trump. And GM also isn’t sure whether he’ll make good on threats to impose 25 percent tariffs on vehicles imported from Canada and Mexico.
What’s more, the Cruze plant just outside Youngtown is in a Democratic and labor stronghold, where Trump won over a surprising number of voters two years ago by reaching out to what he called America’s “forgotten men and women.”
At a rally near the plant last summer, Trump talked about passing by big factories whose jobs “have left Ohio,” then told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are “coming back. They’re all coming back.”
Altogether, GM has five car factories with plenty of unused capacity in Kansas City, Kansas; Lordstown; and Detroit-Hamtramck, Lansing, and Orion Township, Michigan.

GM opened its factory in Oshawa, near Toronto, in 1953. The plant is used to make the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans as well as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
A GM spokesman declined to comment. GM had been expected to close plants because of struggling sales.
Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, said in a prepared statement that it does not have complete details of Monday’s announcement, but it has been informed that there is no product allocated to the Oshawa plant past December 2019.
“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the union said in a statement on its website.
“Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors (Monday) and will provide further comment following the meeting.”
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said he had not spoken to anyone from GM. Jennifer French, who represents Oshawa in the provincial legislature, said she finds the news “gravely concerning.”
“If GM Canada is indeed turning its back on 100 years of industry and community — abandoning workers and families in Oshawa — then this is a callous decision that must be fought,” she said in a statement.

By TOM KRISHER and ROB GILLIES/Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Demands for Runoff Debate So Ridiculous, Viral Story Crashes Local Paper’s Website

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U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and candidate Mike Espy will engage in a debate on Nov. 20, 2018, marking the first time Mississippi U.S. Senate candidates have done this in 10 years. Photos by Ashton Pittman

Photos by Ashton Pittman, Jackson Free Press

When a sitting U.S. senator up for reelection asks that neither the press nor the public be allowed to attend a debate with her opponent, that kind of thing tends to generate attention.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who is trying to hold on to her seat in a runoff against Democratic challenger Mike Espy, faced an onslaught of criticism after the Jackson Free Press revealed her lengthy list of demands for Tuesday night’s debate.

While Espy communications director Danny Blanton told the newspaper, “We supported having an audience, and we advocated for the media to have access to the studio,” two unnamed sources said that the senator “demanded there be no audience or outside press allowed.”

She won that battle—according to the paper, just “the debate moderator, panelists, and the production team will be allowed in the auditorium”—but those weren’t her only requests that were granted.

As the Free Press reported:

A notepad was going to be at the podium for candidates when they stepped onto the stage at the start of the debate, but the Hyde-Smith team wanted the notepad sooner. The candidates will instead be given notepads about an hour before the debate begins. Hyde-Smith’s team originally asked that she be allowed to bring in “a binder” but was denied, the source said.

“They have restricted this debate so much that if she bombs, it will be a miracle,” the source said.

At one point in tonight’s debate, the candidates were going to be given the chance to directly ask one another a question. The Hyde-Smith campaign, however, did not like that idea. Instead, they asked to submit the question ahead of time and for the moderator to ask the questions on the candidates’ behalfs.

More from Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl who is from Mississippi and says send her lameness(she needed crib notes to debate) back home…come on black people VOTE send Mike to the Senate!

Is the Air Coming Out of Housing Bubble 2.0?

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Peter Schiff put it pretty bluntly in a podcast last week. We don’t have a booming economy. We have bubbles. And it looks like the air is starting to come out of some of those bubbles. We see signs of trouble, particularly in interest rate-sensitive sectors such as real estate. As just one example, home sales in California have hit the lowest level in a decade. And it’s not just California. We’re seeing declines in many of the “most splendid housing bubbles” in America. Even more troubling is that we’re seeing these tremors and interest rates aren’t historically high.

Yet.

But they are rising quickly. According to an article in Wolf Street, they may soon hit 6% and that could be the real tipping point.

Mortgage rates have eclipsed the 5% level. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) and a 20% down-payment rose to 5.17% for the latest reporting week. That marks the highest rate since September 2009.

The next stop is 6%. As Wolf Street notes, that was the mortgage rate in December 2008.

Of course, rising rates are by design. The Federal Reserve has nudged the rate upward, and it is also shedding Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. Here’s the impact we’ve seen since the beginning of the year, according to Wolf Street.

  • The 30-year mortgage interest rate has risen 95 basis points, or nearly 1 percentage point (from 4.22% to 5.17%).
  • The 10-year Treasury yield has risen 71 basis points (from 2.46% to 3.17%)
  • The spread between the two has widened from 176 basis points on at the beginning of January to 200 basis points now.

In other words, mortgage rates are climbing faster than the 10-year Treasury yield, now that the Fed has begun the shed mortgage-backed securities. This is expected. It’s part of the QE unwind – it’s part of the Fed exiting the mortgage market and pulling its support out from under it.”

Keep in mind, 6% is still historically low.

Here’s another disturbing piece of the puzzle. Home prices have risen precipitously and have eclipsed levels seen just prior to the housing bust. Average home prices nationwide have surged 11.5% above the crazy peak of housing bubble number one. In a nutshell, we’re looking at housing bubble 2.0.

As Wolf Street notes, even at relatively modest 5% mortgage rates, we’re seeing an impact on the housing market with significant pressure building on the margin, “with some potential buyers being locked out and others scared off as they’re finding today’s inflated home prices don’t mix well with even slighter higher mortgage rates: What was barely affordable for them, with a good amount of stretching, has become unaffordable.”

Wolf Street predicts the real pain will kick in as the mortgage rate approaches 6%. And that is likely less than a year away at the current rate.

Six percent will block enough potential buyers from buying at current prices to where sellers will have serious trouble selling their homes unless prices drop enough. The cure for this market will be lower prices – even if it means rising defaults and considerable problems among mortgage lenders, particularly the non-bank lenders (the “shadow banks”) that have very aggressively moved into the mortgage market over the last few years. Quicken Loans has now become the largest mortgage lender in the US, ahead of Wells Fargo. These shadow banks are less regulated and have taken more risks than the banks. The Fed is already worried about them but worrying is all it can do since it doesn’t regulate them.”

This is just one sector of the economy, but it’s indicative of what’s going on more broadly. While the mainstream touts the “economic boom,” there is underlying rot that rising rates are about to expose. As Peter said, the housing market is a leading indicator of the impact of rising interest rates.

If the US economy is really going to stay strong and if interest rates are going to keep rising, how is it possible that the economy can continue to stay strong with high interest rates when the economy, or the strength of the economy, is predicated on debt?”

by SchiffGold

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Republican Tax Cuts Were a Political Failure. What Does That Mean for a Party That Agrees on Little Else? The GOP needs a new theory of government.

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When Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of last year, they expected it to be the centerpiece of their midterm campaign. “This was a promise made. This is a promise kept,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said at a news conference celebrating the bill’s passage. “If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Judging by last week’s midterm results, Republicans may need to update their résumés.

The tax law permanently cut corporate tax rates and reduced individual income taxes through the middle of the next decade while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion. Republicans initially talked it up, tying it to a wave of corporate bonuses for workers. But the party quickly abandoned that argument in congressional races across the country. Polls found support dwindling, even among Republicans, while the already strong opposition increased among Democrats. A Gallup survey found that a majority of Americans said they saw no increase in their take-home pay.

On election day, voters confirmed their feelings. Not only did they hand control of the House to Democrats, many of whom had run against the law, but exit polls conducted by NBC News showed that 45 percent of voters said the tax law had no impact at all on their household finances, while 22 percent said they had been hurt by it. Just 28 percent said it helped.

There are reasons for these feelings: Although the tax cuts have provided a boost to the economy, they have performed more like a short-term, deficit-financed stimulus than a permanent reorientation toward economic growth and higher wages. Republican claims that the law would prove deficit neutral have not come true. And while it is possible to defend most of the individual components of the tax bill—even Obama administration economists argued for a somewhat lower corporate tax rate—it is more difficult to defend soaring deficits, or the decision to treat individual rate cuts as temporary in order to game congressional budget scoring rules.

Yet even if you believe the law on balance was good, or at least good enough, policy, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it was an abject failure as a political gambit—that it failed to connect with a majority of Americans. This presents something of a problem for a party that is united by few other issues and has focused on tax cuts to the exclusion of the rest of a domestic policy agenda. What does the party of tax cuts do when tax cuts no longer sell?

For the moment, at least, the answer turns out to be: Push for more tax cuts.

Even as polling shows that voters were largely indifferent to last year’s tax bill, Republicans have touted dubious follow-ups. House Republicans passed a second round of tax reductions that made the law’s individual rate cuts permanent. As expected, the Senate ignored the bill, but if it passed, it would have increased the original law’s already considerable impact on the deficit. President Donald Trump spent the weeks before the election advertising a new middle-class tax cut that was no more real than the fake Trump steaks he touted on the campaign trail. The Republican Party became enthralled by fantasy tax cuts that would never become law, even as the ones they had already passed were leading them to electoral defeat.

The GOP’s devotion to tax cutting, imaginary or otherwise, is especially notable given that the midterm elections were largely fought on substantive policy grounds. Although Trump’s character and temperament undoubtedly influenced the election, voters were focused on pocketbook issues—jobs, the economy, education, and health care.

Health care, in particular, dominated many races, with Democrats charging that Republicans didn’t support Obamacare’s pre-existing conditions regulations while GOP candidates insisted that they did. In some cases, their claims were defensible in a narrow technical sense, since most Republicans voted for Obamacare repeal bills that kept some but not all of the health law’s pre-existing conditions rules. Even still, their answers were designed to obscure more than to reveal. Republicans obfuscated about their health care ideas because, following the failure of last year’s repeal bill, they don’t really have any.

Yet as it turned out, health care was what voters cared about. CNN’s exit polls found that it was the single most important issue in the election, with 41 percent listing it as their top concern. Health care voters preferred Democrats by a wide margin. It is more than a little ironic that the health law that cost Democrats the House in 2010 probably helped Republicans lose their House majority in 2018.

When the tax law passed year, a senior White House aide contrasted Republicans with Democrats, telling The Daily Beast, “Taxes are our issue. Health care is theirs.” Republicans have almost entirely ceded that policy ground.

To become a vital force in American governance, and to compete in elections that revolve around anything other than immigration or support for the president, Republicans will need to develop clear, easy-to-articulate positions on the array of domestic policy issues that matter most to voters—particularly health care, education, and entitlements—and actually talk about them during campaigns, even, perhaps especially, when the temptation to focus on culture war issues arises.

For Republicans, that will probably mean focusing on reforms that make government programs work more efficiently rather than on new benefits and new programs. It will mean abandoning the current GOP conception of deficit-financed tax cuts as costless handouts to voters in favor of an understanding that taxes are a price we pay for government.

But smart white papers and clever talking points alone won’t be enough. The GOP needs more than a suite of new policy ideas; it needs a general theory of government—an animating idea about what the state is for, what it should do, and how, exactly, it should fund all of those things.

Because if Republicans don’t make an effort, Democrats will. They already are. Not only are the party’s likely 2020 presidential contenders rallying around Medicare for All, whatever that turns out to mean, but they are rolling out big-picture plans to expand a slew of benefits and programs. Republicans have united around opposition to these programs, but have yet to figure out what they stand for instead, which amounts to a defense of the status quo.

Since the Reagan administration, the Republican Party has been in the business of selling tax cuts, but the political effectiveness of that approach now appears to be waning. Which means that McConnell may have inadvertently been right: To compete in today’s most salient political arguments, Republicans will indeed need to find another line of work.

By Peter Suderman/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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