Tuesday, April 10, 2018

According To The Washington Post, Trump Is America's First African President...,

WaPo  |  President Trump says that in many ways, the United States’ infrastructure is like “a Third World country” and is an “embarrassment.” I don’t often agree with our Twitter warrior in chief, but the guy’s got a point. America’s roads are crumbling. Our airports are retrograde: Only four are in the global top 50, and Denver’s takes the top U.S. spot at No. 29. Sad!

This gives me an idea. If Trump thinks that the United States is truly like “a Third World country,” maybe it’s time to start treating him the same way we treat the leaders of such nations. My immodest proposal: Let’s save America from itself and the ravages of this presidency by offering Trump a big bundle of money to leave. I’m serious. There’s an African precedent for this. Let me explain.

As I said, America does resemble a developing country in many ways. It is embarrassing that one of the most powerful countries in the world still can’t get clean drinking water to citizens in Flint, Mich. Our maternal mortality rate is the worst among wealthy nations. We are awash in gun violence. Extreme poverty is so bad in parts of Alabama that some communities are testing positive for hookworm, long thought to be eradicated from the United States.

But back to Trump. Comedian Trevor Noah once said Trump, then a candidate, would be America’s first African president. He compared Trump to some of Africa’s most notorious leaders and dictators. Like former South African president Jacob Zuma, Trump blames migrants for crime. Like Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh, who claimed he had an herbal cure for AIDS, Trump has cast doubt on vaccines. As president, Trump has attacked the press, run a Cabinet mired in corruption scandals and given his children incredible — and undeserved — political power and access. That’s a familiar story in Africa: If you think Ivanka Trump is getting a sweet deal out of her father’s presidency, read about Angola’s Isabel Dos Santos, who was given the control of the country’s state oil firm and became Africa’s richest woman. Noah was right: Trump, not Barack Obama, is America’s first African president.

Confronting Concentrated, Autocratic Economic Power Is What Democrats Used To Do

Guardian |  In threatening a single business because of some personal quarrel with its CEO – apparently in order to squeeze friendlier coverage out of a newspaper that the CEO happens to own – Donald Trump has clearly violated the basic rules of democratic government. But it is also important to remember that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Amazon has been the subject of critical reporting for a number of years; anyone who reads the Guardian or the New York Times knows about the company’s alarming labour practices and its imperial economic ambitions.

Yet some critics of the president took his tweets as a signal to rally round Amazon and its chief executive. They joked about how jealous Trump must be of Bezos’s billions. They fantasised about how Bezos might contrive to humiliate the president by buying still more media properties. They clucked over Trump’s stupidity on the matter of the postal service. They snickered at his inability to understand modern internet enterprises.

Given the chance to remind the public of American liberalism’s instinctive tendency to defend cyber-oligarchs like Bezos against the claims of those it sees as uncomprehending luddites, Team Liberal jumped at it.

Along the way, they gave us a vivid reminder of why modern liberalism keeps generating – and losing to – unbelievably awful antagonists such as Trump. Put it this way: yes, Trump hates Amazon, and its chief executive, and his newspaper the Washington Post. But Trump’s blustering animosity doesn’t make Amazon an admirable company. Nor does it make the Washington Post a temple of objectivity, untainted by the capital’s culture of influence-peddling.

Take the matter of the postal service’s contract with Amazon – the cause of so much self-assured guffawing among the know-better set. Guess what? The president’s complaint here is kind of legit. While it might be technically correct that the US postal service makes a “profit” on its current arrangement with Amazon, it would also be correct to say that it could easily be making a lot more.
If you care about the postal service workforce, maybe you too might want to show some concern about the question rather than brush it off as yet more idiocy from the comb-over caudillo.

Or take the larger question of Amazon’s overwhelming and unaccountable market power, which journalists and scholars have documented painstakingly and at great length – and yet which many commentators seem to have forgotten the instant Trump started bad-mouthing Bezos. “Amazon is the shining representative of a new golden age of monopoly,” is how the Atlantic journalist Franklin Foer put it in 2014, and what he said then is even truer today.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Bet You Didn't Know That Predatory Eviction Is An American Business Model

NYTimes |  Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.

This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond.

Two years ago, Mr. Desmond turned eviction into a national topic of conversation with “Evicted,” a book that chronicled how poor families who lost their homes in Milwaukee sank ever deeper into poverty. It became a favorite among civic groups and on college campuses, some here in Richmond. Bill Gates and former President Obama named it among the best books they had read in 2017, and it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

But for all the attention the problem began to draw, even Mr. Desmond could not say how widespread it was. Surveys of renters have tried to gauge displacement, but there is no government data tracking all eviction cases in America. Now that Mr. Desmond has been mining court records across the country to build a database of millions of evictions, it’s clear even in his incomplete national picture that they are more rampant in many places than what he saw in Milwaukee.

Now We Know EXACTLY How Blacks Were Left Out Of Federal Middle Class Creation...,

NYTimes |  Critics of the Fair Housing Act have glibly attempted to dismiss attempts to end segregation as “social engineering” — as if rigid racial segregation in housing were a natural phenomenon. In fact, the residential segregation that is pervasive in the United States today was partly created by explicit federal policies that date back at least to World War I. It is now widely acknowledged that the federal insistence on segregated housing introduced Jim Crow separation in areas of the country outside the South where it had previously been unknown. It stands to reason that dismantling a system created by a set of government policies will require an equally explicit set of federal policies.

The scholar Richard Rothstein exposed the roots of this shameful process in his recent book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” He reported that the government’s first effort to build housing for defense workers near military installations and factories during World War I was founded on the premise that African-American families would be excluded “even from projects in northern and western industrial centers where they worked in significant numbers.”

The same toxic pattern prevailed under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, when the government created the first public housing projects for nondefense workers, building separate projects for black people, segregating buildings by race or excluding African-Americans entirely. Particularly telling is the fact that racially integrated communities were razed to make way for Jim Crow housing.

The federal insistence on rigid racial separation found its most pernicious expression in the Federal Housing Administration, created in 1934 to promote homeownership by insuring mortgages. As the sociologists Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton document in “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass,” the government typically denied mortgages to African-Americans, shutting out even affluent black people from the suburban homeownership boom that remade the residential landscape during the middle decades of the 20th century.

Government at all levels embraced racial covenants that forbade even well-to-do African-Americans from purchasing homes outside of black communities. Cut off from homeownership — the principal avenue of wealth creation — African-Americans lost the opportunity to build the intergenerational wealth that white suburban families took for granted. The vast wealth gap that exists today between whites and African-Americans has its roots in this era.

The argument for what became the Fair Housing Act emerged forcefully in the 1968 Kerner Commission report, which blamed segregation in large measure for the riots that ravaged the country in the 60s and called for national fair housing legislation. The housing law might well have died in committee had the country not erupted in fresh violence after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. It was signed into law a week later.

The housing act put the federal government on record as supporting open housing and prohibiting the pervasive discrimination that had locked most African-Americans out of decent accommodations and homeownership. But the version that passed in 1968 had been declawed — stripped of enforcement provisions that would have given HUD strong authority to root out discrimination. Nearly a quarter-century would pass before Congress strengthened the law. So during that time, African-Americans were left subject to the harsh discrimination the original act was supposed to preclude.

This progressive sounding law — which requires entities that receive federal money to “affirmatively further” fair housing goals — was consistently undermined by officials of both parties who had little appetite for confronting entrenched segregation.

Now We Know EXACTLY Why Black Students Were Left Out Of #NeverAgain

wlrn |  At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Black History Month Show, a student walked out on stage to read a one-page statement defending the Black Lives Matter movement.

This part of the show was not rehearsed ahead of time, it was a last-minute decision by some of the black student organizers to respond to a letter that ran in the school’s paper. 

The headline was “All Lives Matter.” In the letter, a student wrote Black Lives Matter was “ridiculous” and “they seem to be good for nothing but creating mistrust between civilians and police.”

The black students planned on submitting their rebuttal to the school paper, but they also saw an opportunity to read their response at the Black History Month Show.

“The rebuttal was pretty much saying that that the Black Lives Matter movement is a respected movement,” said Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, a junior who helped plan the Feb. 9 show.

She said she wanted to address the very real threat of police violence against black bodies.
“Just because you don't have to experience it doesn't mean that it's absurd and ridiculous,” she said.
The message wasn’t fully delivered at the assembly. A teacher had the speakers’ microphone cut off and asked the student to leave the stage before she could finish reading it.

Kyrah Simon, a junior, was watching from the audience.

“They just didn't handle it in the way that I thought would be compassionate to all the minorities,” she said of the school.

The Black Lives Matter statement was an unapproved presentation that was not rehearsed as part of the show, explained a Broward County Public School spokesperson in an email to WLRN.

“Due to the potential for disruption and breach in protocol, the student was asked to stop and leave the stage.” The email goes on to state the school “is committed to providing learning environments that foster inclusion and respect.”

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Another Musty Old War Criminal Calls Trump Fascist...,

NYTimes |  If freedom is to prevail over the many challenges to it, American leadership is urgently required. This was among the indelible lessons of the 20th century. But by what he has said, done and failed to do, Mr. Trump has steadily diminished America’s positive clout in global councils.

Instead of mobilizing international coalitions to take on world problems, he touts the doctrine of “every nation for itself” and has led America into isolated positions on trade, climate change and Middle East peace. Instead of engaging in creative diplomacy, he has insulted United States neighbors and allies, walked away from key international agreements, mocked multilateral organizations and stripped the State Department of its resources and role. Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, Mr. Trump, with his oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks, has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Mr. Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions.

At one time or another, Mr. Trump has attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and — jokingly or not — equated mere policy disagreements with treason. He tried to undermine faith in America’s electoral process through a bogus advisory commission on voter integrity. He routinely vilifies federal law enforcement institutions. He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are so often at odds with the truth that they can appear ignorant, yet are in fact calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions. Overseas, rather than stand up to bullies, Mr. Trump appears to like bullies, and they are delighted to have him represent the American brand. If one were to draft a script chronicling fascism’s resurrection, the abdication of America’s moral leadership would make a credible first scene.

Equally alarming is the chance that Mr. Trump will set in motion events that neither he nor anyone else can control. His policy toward North Korea changes by the day and might quickly return to saber-rattling should Pyongyang prove stubborn before or during talks. His threat to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement could unravel a pact that has made the world safer and could undermine America’s reputation for trustworthiness at a critical moment. His support of protectionist tariffs invites retaliation from major trading partners — creating unnecessary conflicts and putting at risk millions of export-dependent jobs. The recent purge of his national security team raises new questions about the quality of advice he will receive. John Bolton starts work in the White House on Monday.

What is to be done? First, defend the truth. A free press, for example, is not the enemy of the American people; it is the protector of the American people. Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates, and ignoring the cynical counsel: “There’s nothing to be done.”

Motives for the Skripal Poisoning Narrative and Sanctions Regime

CounterPunch |  In this episode we discuss the economic and political implications of the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. We also touch upon the long history of collaboration between Russian oligarchs and Western banks and how it fits into the larger neoliberal project pursued after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Michael Palmieri: Professor Hudson welcome back to the third episode of The Hudson report. It’s great to have you here.

Michael Hudson:It’s good to be here.

Michael Palmieri: So everyone who’s been following the news media for the last week or so has become–even if they didn’t want to be–pretty familiar with the case of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. He was once a double agent for British intelligence and recently there’s been allegations that he’s been poisoned by or attempted to be poisoned by Russian intelligence services. Although much of the coverage seems to be pretty breathless in condemning Russia for an attempted assassination. You seem to have a different perspective or perhaps believe that we should be looking somewhere else and the kind of larger implications of what this may mean. So can you start us off and kind of explain what you see to be going on here right now?

Michael Hudson: Well I was puzzled at first about the whole treatment of the affair of poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter because the treatment is so out of proportion–the reaction is so out of proportion–that it’s obvious that the issue is not about the poisoning itself. First of all there’s no evidence to show Russian involvement. But the important thing to realize is that even if there were a government assassination attempt, the reaction is entirely different things. It’s really about international diplomacy and NATO maneuvering for a military posturing and the reaction has no connection at all according to the poisoning, they’re only using the poisoning as an excuse to wrap a policy that was already thought of and sort through before the actual Skripel Gate occurred. I think anyone who’s seen James Bond movies knows that 07 can kill enemies. And the U.S. assassinates people all the time. It’s killed foreign leaders like the president Allende in Latin America and the whole wave of political terrorism that followed–killing tens of thousands of union leaders, and university professors, and land reformers, and the Obama administration targeted foreigners for drone strikes. Even when this kills large numbers of civilians as collateral damage.

No foreign country broke relations with Britain, or the United States, or Israel, or any other countries using targeted assassination as a policy. So this pretense that Russia has killed someone even without any evidence or with any trial is implausible on the very surface.

So, the question is why are they doing this with Russia? Why are they imposing sanctions and mounting a great publicity campaign? And I think the answer has to lie in looking at why are they doing this now. Timing is the key. So let’s step back a minute and note what seems to be out of the ordinary in the British and US and NATO reaction.

Saturday, April 07, 2018


aeon |  Using rotating, 3D-printed sculptures that he displays under a strobe light, the US designer John Edmark, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Stanford University, creates dynamic ‘blooms’ that look like sophisticated computer-animation exercises come to life. As Edmark explains:
[The] animation effect is achieved by progressive rotations of the golden ratio, phi (ϕ), the same ratio that nature employs to generate the spiral patterns we see in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotational speed and strobe rate of the bloom are synchronised so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5º (the angular version of phi). Each bloom’s particular form and behaviour is determined by a unique parametric seed I call a phi-nome (/fī nōm/).
For the video Blooms 2, Edmark used a camera with a very short shutter speed rather than a strobe. The result is both visually and conceptually mindbending – digital art that borrows from nature to both imitate and expand on it.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Russiagate About Petered Out, Authoritarianism Now The Indictment Du Jour...,

NYTimes |  In an email, Stenner provided figures from a recent EuroPulse survey showing that authoritarianism is stronger in the United States than it is in the European Union: In the E.U., 33 percent of the electorate can be described as authoritarian, while in the United States, it’s 45 percent.
The animosity between authoritarians and non-authoritarians has helped establish what Johnston, Lavine and Federico describe as the “expressive dimension” of policy choices:
In this view, the influence of personality on economic opinion arises not because the expected outcomes of a policy match an individual’s traits, but because those traits resonate with the social meaning a policy has acquired.
They explain further:
Citizens care less about the outcomes a policy produces and more about the groups and symbols with which a policy is associated.
Mason enlarged on this argument in her 2015 paper, “‘I Disrespectfully Agree’: The Differential Effects of Partisan Sorting on Behavioral and Issue Polarization.” Her argument is a direct challenge to those who take, as she puts it,
an instrumental view of politics, in which people choose a party and decide how strongly to support it based solely on each party’s stated positions and whether the party shares interests with them.
Instead, she writes,
Contrary to an issue-focused view of political decision making and behavior, the results presented here suggest that political thought, behavior, and emotion are powerfully driven by political identities. The strength of a person’s identification with his or her party affects how biased, active, and angry that person is, even if that person’s issue positions are moderate.
While much of this research uses the “preferred traits in child-rearing” questions to measure authoritarianism, two sociologists at the University of Kansas, David Norman Smith and Eric Hanley, observe in “The Anger Games: Who Voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, and Why?” that those questions do not capture the full scope of authoritarianism, especially the more aggressive authoritarianism that they believe drives voters to Trump.
Smith and Hanley used what they call a “domineering leader scale” to measure
the wish for a strong leader who will force others to submit. The premise is that evil is afoot; that money, the media and government authority — and even “politically correct” moral authority — have been usurped by undeserving interlopers. The desire for a domineering leader is the desire to see this evil crushed.
The domineering leader scale is based on responses to two statements: “Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our forefathers, do what the authorities tell us to do, and get rid of the ‘rotten apples’ who are ruining everything” and “What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil and take us back to our true path.”

If an aggressive, domineering authoritarianism is a prime motivator for many Trump supporters, as Smith and Hanley contend, the clash between Republicans and Democrats is likely to become more hostile and warlike.

Federico, Feldman and Weber note that
since the early 2000s, many especially acrimonious political debates have focused on threats to social stability and order — debates surrounding abortion, transgender rights, immigration, and the role of the federal government in protecting the rights of marginalized social groups.
The rising “salience of these debates,” they write, “has contributed to a growing ‘authoritarian divide’ within the United States, at least among White Americans.”

Trump has purposefully exacerbated the “many especially acrimonious political debates” now dominating public discourse, deepening not only the authoritarian divide, but the divide between open and closed mindedness, between acceptance and racial resentment, and between toleration of and aversion to change. He evidently believes that this is the best political strategy for presiding in the White House and winning re-election, but it is an extraordinarily destructive strategy for governing the country and for safeguarding America’s interests in the world.

Is Jordan Peterson Leading Young Men to Authoritarianism?

foreignpolicy |  Peterson’s philosophy is difficult to assess because it is constructed of equal parts apocalyptic alarm and homespun advice. Like the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, whom he cites as an intellectual influence, Peterson is fond of thinking in terms of grand dualities — especially the opposition of order and chaos. Order, in his telling, consists of everything that is routine and predictable, while chaos corresponds to all that is unpredictable and novel.

For Peterson, living well requires walking the line between the two. He is hardly the first thinker to make this point; another of his heroes, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, harking back to the ancient Greeks, suggested that life is best lived between the harmony of Apollo and the madness of Dionysus. But while Peterson claims both order and chaos are equally important, he is mainly concerned with the perils posed by the latter — hence his rules.

In his books and lectures, Peterson describes chaos as “feminine.” Order, of course, is “masculine.” So the threat of being overwhelmed by chaos is the threat of being overwhelmed by femininity. The tension between chaos and order plays out in both the personal sphere and the broader cultural landscape, where chaos is promoted by those “neo-Marxist postmodernists” whose nefarious influence has spawned radical feminism, political correctness, moral relativism, and identity politics.
At the core of Peterson’s social program is the idea that the onslaught of femininity must be resisted. Men need to get tough and dominant. And, in Peterson’s mind, women want this, too. He tells us in 12 Rules for Life: “If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men.… If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter.” “Healthy” women want men who can “outclass” them. That’s Peterson’s reason for frequently referencing the Jungian motif of the hero: the square-jawed warrior who subdues the feminine powers of chaos. Don’t be a wimp, he tells us. Be a real man.

This machismo is of a piece with Jung but also a caricature of Nietzsche’s philosophy, particularly the thinker’s Übermensch (superman), who escapes the stultifying effects of a culture in decline. “I am no man,” Nietzsche once claimed. “I am dynamite!” Dynamite, from the Greek dunamis, meaning “power.” That is what Peterson’s acolytes are after. It is no accident that one of his video lectures is titled “How to Rise to the Top of the Dominance Hierarchy.”

Thursday, April 05, 2018

We Won't Engineer Superhumans Any Time Soon...,

aeon |  A paper published in Nature Genetics in 2017 reported that, after analysing tens of thousands of genomes, scientists had tied 52 genes to human intelligence, though no single variant contributed more than a tiny fraction of a single percentage point to intelligence. As the senior author of the study Danielle Posthuma, a statistical geneticist at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, told The New York Times, ‘there’s a long way to go’ before scientists can actually predict intelligence using genetics. Even so, it is easy to imagine social impacts that are unsettling: students stapling their genome sequencing results to their college applications; potential employers mining genetic data for candidates; in-vitro fertilisation clinics promising IQ boosts using powerful new tools such as the genome-editing system CRISPR-Cas9.

Some people are already signing on for this new world. Philosophers such as John Harris of the University of Manchester and Julian Savulescu of the University of Oxford have argued that we will have a duty to manipulate the genetic code of our future children, a concept Savulescu termed ‘procreative beneficence’. The field has extended the term ‘parental neglect’ to ‘genetic neglect’, suggesting that if we don’t use genetic engineering or cognitive enhancement to improve our children when we can, it’s a form of abuse. Others, like David Correia, who teaches American Studies at the University of New Mexico, envisions dystopian outcomes, where the wealthy use genetic engineering to translate power from the social sphere into the enduring code of the genome itself.

Such concerns are longstanding; the public has been on guard about altering the genetics of intelligence at least since scientists invented recombinant DNA. As long ago as the 1970s, David Baltimore, who won a Nobel Prize, questioned whether his pioneering work might show that ‘the differences between people are genetic differences, not environmental differences’.

I say, dream on. As it turns out, genes contribute to intelligence, but only broadly, and with subtle effect. Genes interact in complex relationships to create neural systems that might be impossible to reverse-engineer. In fact, computational scientists who want to understand how genes interact to create optimal networks have come up against the kind of hard limits suggested by the so-called travelling salesperson problem. In the words of the theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman in The Origins of Order (1993): ‘The task is to begin at one of N cities, travel in turn to each city, and return to the initial city by the shortest total route. This problem, so remarkably simple to state, is extremely difficult.’ Evolution locks in, early on, some models of what works, and hammers out refining solutions over millennia, but the best computer junkies can do to draw up an optimal biological network, given some input, is to use heuristics, which are shorthand solutions. The complexity rises to a new level, especially since proteins and cells interact at higher dimensions. Importantly, genetics research is not about to diagnose, treat or eradicate mental disorders, or be used to explain the complex interactions that give rise to intelligence. We won’t engineer superhumans any time soon.

Social Inequality Leaves An Outsized Genetic Mark

nautil.us |  In humans, the profound biological differences that exist between the sexes mean that a single male is physically capable of having far more children than is a single female. Women carry unborn children for nine months and often nurse them for several years prior to having additional children.1 Men, meanwhile, are able to procreate while investing far less time in the bearing and early rearing of each child. So it is that, as measured by the contribution to the next generation, powerful men have the potential to have a far greater impact than powerful women, and we can see this in genetic data.

The great variability among males in the number of offspring produced means that by searching for genomic signatures of past variability in the number of children men have had, we can obtain genetic insights into the degree of social inequality in society as a whole, and not just between males and females. An extraordinary example of this is provided by the inequality in the number of male offspring that seems to have characterized the empire established by Genghis Khan, who ruled lands stretching from China to the Caspian Sea. After his death in 1227, his successors, including several of his sons and grandsons, extended the Mongol Empire even farther—to Korea in the east, to central Europe in the west, and to Tibet in the south. The Mongols maintained rested horses at strategically spaced posts, allowing rapid communication across their more than 8,000-kilometer span of territory. The united Mongol Empire was short-lived—for example, the Yüan dynasty they established in China fell in 1368—but their rise to power nevertheless allowed them to leave an extraordinary genetic impact on Eurasia.2

A 2003 study led by Chris Tyler-Smith showed how a relatively small number of powerful males living during the Mongol period succeeded in having an outsize impact on the billions of people living in East Eurasia today.3 His study of Y chromosomes suggested that one single male who lived around the time of the Mongols left many tens of millions of direct male-line descendants across the territory that Mongols occupied. The evidence is that about 8 percent of the male population in the lands the Mongol Empire once occupied share a characteristic Y-chromosome sequence and a cluster of similar sequences differing by just a few mutations. Tyler-Smith and his colleagues called this a “Star Cluster” to reflect the idea of a single ancestor with many descendants, and estimated the date of the founder of this lineage to be 1,300 to 700 years ago based on the estimated rate of accumulation of mutations on the Y chromosome. The date coincides with that of Genghis Khan, suggesting that this single successful Y chromosome may have been his.

Star Clusters are not limited to Asia. Geneticist Daniel Bradley and his colleagues identified a Y-chromosome type that is present in 2 to 3 million people today and derives from an ancestor who lived around 1,500 years ago.4 It is especially common in people with the last name O’Donnell, who descend from one of the most powerful royal families of medieval Ireland, the “Descendants of Niall”—referring to Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary warlord from the earliest period of medieval Irish history. If Niall was real, he would have lived at about the right time to match the Y-chromosome ancestor.

Star Clusters capture the imagination because they can be tied, albeit speculatively, to historical figures. But the more important point is that Star Cluster analysis provides insights about shifts in social structure that occurred in the deep past that are difficult to get information about in other ways. This is therefore one area in which Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA analysis can be instructive, even without whole-genome data. For example, a perennial debate among historians is the extent to which the human past is shaped by single individuals whose actions leave a disproportionate impact on subsequent generations. Star Cluster analysis provides objective information about the importance of extreme inequalities in power at different points in the past.

Race Is A Social Construct, But I'm Desperate To Make It A Genetic One...,

NYTimes |  In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument. That year, the geneticist Richard Lewontin published an important study of variation in protein types in blood. He grouped the human populations he analyzed into seven “races” — West Eurasians, Africans, East Asians, South Asians, Native Americans, Oceanians and Australians — and found that around 85 percent of variation in the protein types could be accounted for by variation within populations and “races,” and only 15 percent by variation across them. To the extent that there was variation among humans, he concluded, most of it was because of “differences between individuals.”

In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of “biological race.” Instead, it was argued, race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries.

It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true, as Dr. Lewontin wrote, that human populations “are remarkably similar to each other” from a genetic point of view.

But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy. The orthodoxy maintains that the average genetic differences among people grouped according to today’s racial terms are so trivial when it comes to any meaningful biological traits that those differences can be ignored.

The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations. The concern is that such research, no matter how well-intentioned, is located on a slippery slope that leads to the kinds of pseudoscientific arguments about biological difference that were used in the past to try to justify the slave trade, the eugenics movement and the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews.

I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among “races.”

Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades. These advances enable us to measure with exquisite accuracy what fraction of an individual’s genetic ancestry traces back to, say, West Africa 500 years ago — before the mixing in the Americas of the West African and European gene pools that were almost completely isolated for the last 70,000 years. With the help of these tools, we are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Monetized American Mcdonalds-Fiend Sex Addict Tweeter

rightweb |  Last August, shortly after John Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and Steve Bannon was fired as the president’s chief strategist, John Bolton complained that he could no longer get a meeting with Donald Trump.

Just three months later, however, on the eve of Trump’s belligerent address to the United Nations, Bolton was once again in direct contact with the president. How did this turnabout take place? The reconnection was reportedly arranged by none other than Sheldon Adelson, the Trump campaign’s biggest donor.

Politico reported that the most threatening line in Trump’s UN speech—that he would cancel Washington’s participation in the Iran nuclear deal if Congress and U.S. allies did not bend to his efforts to effectively renegotiate it—came directly from Bolton and wasn’t in the original marks prepared by Trump’s staff.
The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict [restricting Bolton’s access to Trump], reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Bolton urged Trump to include a line in his remarks noting that he reserved the right to scrap the agreement entirely, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.
Some analysts have suggested that Bolton, an anti-Iran uber-hawk, has the visit to Washington of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to thank for his imminent elevation. But Adelson, a huge supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, likely played a critical role in Bolton’s ascendancy.

Demonetized Iranian Vegan Muslim Sexbot Youtube Shooter

Time |  Here’s what to know about suspected YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam.

Aghdam, a 39-year-old Southern California resident, worked for her father’s electrical company and at one time operated a business called Peace Thunder, NBC News reports. She was listed on Facebook as an artist, NBC adds.

Aghdam, who was found dead by law enforcement officials Tuesday, wore glasses and a scarf and carried a “big huge pistol,” according to a YouTube employee who witnessed the incident from a second-floor window.

San Bruno police said they found Aghdam, who died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, at 12:53 p.m. in a courtyard area inside the YouTube complex.

Little is known about her motive, according to law enforcement officials. San Bruno police said there is no evidence that the shooter was previously acquainted with any of the victims.

Aghdam was an animal rights activist, according to the Associated Press, who participated in a 2009 protest with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Oceanside, Calif.

She was also a prolific YouTube user, posting videos on a range of topics from multiple accounts, according to a report by NBC’s Bay Area Investigative Unit. In a video posted in January, Aghdam alleged that the company “discriminated and filtered” her videos to reduce their number of views; she also published rants attacking the company on her personal website. A photo posted on her Facebook page last February also shows her standing on a street corner with a sign that reads “YouTube Dictatorship” and “Hidden policy: Promote stupidity discrimination, suppression of truth,” NBC News reports.

Aghdam’s father, Ismail Aghdam, said that he told police earlier this week that Nasim was “angry” at YouTube and “hated” the company. Aghdam had reported his daughter missing on Monday, and early Tuesday morning was informed that she had been found sleeping in her car in Mountain View, about an hour from YouTube’s San Bruno headquarters. Ismail said he warned the police that she might be headed toward YouTube.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Deleted, Suspended, Demoted: Censorship, Silicon Valley-Style

truthdig |  Those who challenge the dominant corporate narrative already struggle on the margins of the media landscape. The handful of independent websites and news outlets, including this one, and a few foreign-run networks such as Al-Jazeera and RT America, on which I host a show, “On Contact,” are the few platforms left that examine corporate power and empire, the curtailment of our civil liberties, lethal police violence and the ecocide carried out by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries, as well as cover the war crimes committed by Israel and the U.S. military in the Middle East. Shutting down these venues would ensure that the critics who speak through them, and oppressed peoples such as the Palestinians, have no voice left.

I witnessed and was at times the victim of black propaganda campaigns when I was a foreign correspondent. False accusations are made anonymously and then amplified by a compliant press. The anonymous site PropOrNot, replicating this tactic, in 2016 published a blacklist of 199 sites that it alleged, with no evidence, “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were progressive, anti-war and left-wing. They included AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot charged that these sites disseminated “fake news” on behalf of Russia, and the allegations became front-page news in The Washington Post in a story headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during the election, experts say.” Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg wrote in that article that the goal of “a sophisticated Russian propaganda effort,” according to “independent researchers who have tracked the operation,” was “punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.”

To date, no one has exposed who operates PropOrNot or who is behind the website. But the damage done by this black propaganda campaign and the subsequent announcement by Google and other organizations such as Facebook last April that they had put in filters to elevate “more authoritative content” and marginalize “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information” have steadily diverted readers away from some sites. The Marxist World Socialist Web Site, for example, has seen its traffic decline by 75 percent. AlterNet’s search traffic is down 71 percent, Consortium News is down 72 percent, and Global Research and Truthdig have seen declines. And the situation appears to be growing worse as the algorithms are refined.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post and the founder and CEO of Amazon, has, like Google and some other major Silicon Valley corporations, close ties with the federal security and surveillance apparatus. Bezos has a $600 million contract with the CIA. The lines separating technology-based entities such as Google and Amazon and the government’s security and surveillance apparatus are often nonexistent. The goal of corporations such as Google and Facebook is profit, not the dissemination of truth. And when truth gets in the way of profit, truth is sacrificed.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN have all imposed or benefited from the algorithms or filters—overseen by human “evaluators.” When an internet user types a word in a Google search it is called an “impression” by the industry. These impressions direct the persons making the searches to websites that use the words or address the issues associated with them. Before the algorithms were put in place last April, searches for terms such as “imperialism” or “inequality” directed internet users mostly to left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites. Now they are directed primarily to mainstream sites such as The Washington Post. If you type in “World Socialist Web Site,” which has been hit especially hard by the algorithms, you will be directed to the site—but you have to ask for it by name. Searches for associated words such as “socialist” or “socialism” are unlikely to bring up a list in which the World Socialist Web Site appears near the top.

There are 10,000 “evaluators” at Google, many of them former employees at counterterrorism agencies, who determine the “quality” and veracity of websites. They have downgraded sites such as Truthdig, and with the abolition of net neutrality can further isolate those sites on the internet. The news organizations and corporations imposing and benefiting from this censorship have strong links to the corporate establishment and the Democratic Party. They do not question corporate capitalism, American imperialism or rising social inequality.

As Trump and Bezos Lock Horns - Only Shareholders Get Hurt...,

NYTimes |  “There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon,” he said. “Not one penny.”

(Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment or to provide an interview with Mr. Bezos.)

Mr. Bezos holds conference calls with The Post’s leadership every other week to discuss the paper’s business strategy but has no involvement in its news coverage, Mr. Baron said. During his occasional appearances at The Post’s building, Mr. Bezos sometimes stops by a news meeting “just to thank everybody,” Mr. Baron said.

“I can’t say more emphatically he’s never suggested a story to anybody here, he’s never critiqued a story, he’s never suppressed a story,” the editor said.

“Frankly, in a newsroom of 800 journalists, if that had occurred, I guarantee you, you would have heard about it,” he added. “Newsrooms tend not to like those kinds of interventions, particularly a newsroom that’s as proud as The Washington Post. “If he had been involved in our news coverage, you can be sure that you would have heard about it by now,” Mr. Baron added. “It hasn’t happened. Period.”

Mr. Bezos’ hands-off approach extends to The Post’s coverage of Amazon. During a town hall-style meeting held before his deal for The Post was completed, he told the paper’s employees that they should cover him as they would any other business executive and treat Amazon no differently from any other company, Mr. Baron said.

“He’s reiterated that to me any number of times,” he said. “He doesn’t get involved. I’ve never heard from him on any story that we’ve written about Amazon, and we’ve had any number of them that are critical.”

By Monday morning, it seemed that Mr. Trump had found a new target.

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” the president tweeted, responding to negative reports over the weekend about the Sinclair Broadcast Group. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.” 

Extremely Dangerous to Democracy Or Just Plain Funny?

NYTimes |  On local news stations across the United States last month, dozens of anchors gave the same speech to their combined millions of viewers.

It included a warning about fake news, a promise to report fairly and accurately and a request that viewers go to the station’s website and comment “if you believe our coverage is unfair.

The script came from Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country’s largest broadcaster, which owns or operates 193 television stations. The company is seeking a $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media, a move that’s being held up by regulators over antitrust concerns.

Last week, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a copy of the speech and reported that employees at a local news station there, KOMO, were unhappy about the script. CNN reported on it on March 7 and said Scott Livingston, the senior vice president of news for Sinclair, had read almost the exact same speech for a segment that was distributed to outlets a year ago.

Mr. Burke’s video — along with a similar one created by ThinkProgress, the left-leaning news outlet — spread quickly on social media over the weekend, leading to prominent criticism of Sinclair. Peter Chernin, a media investor and longtime president of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, called it “insidious.” David E. Price, a Democratic North Carolina congressman, called the video “pro-Trump propaganda” on Monday.

Piggybacking on the attention, House Democrats resurfaced a letter, dated March 22 and signed by 38 lawmakers, that called for the Tribune merger to be rejected.

President Trump responded to scrutiny of the broadcaster on Monday in a tweet.

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” he said.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Why Only Fools Jumped Full-On The Bitcoin Bandwagon...,

It took a minute to figure out that TOR is the antithesis of what it claims to be - and is in fact nothing other than a surveillance honeypot.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me....,

anonhq |  To some Bitcoin is the Free Market’s answer to crony capitalism, communism, the endless inflation of fiat currencies and all that is wrong with the world. To others, it is a worthless digital creation – numbers on a screen with no backing, a bubble with no value beyond what arbitrarily imagined number a savvy Crypto “Expert” would tell you.

In between, you have those that view Bitcoin as a Ponzi scheme – but one worth cashing in on while the getting is good; those who use it as a deflationary store of wealth, akin to a prized Picasso but more liquid; and those who see the rise of other cryptos that could do what Bitcoin does – but better, and dethrone Bitcoin with a one true cryptocurrency to break the banks.

There is one last school of thought, the conspiracy theorist of conspiracy theories so to speak; What if Bitcoin is, in fact, a creation of the NSA?

It would seem that Satoshi cannot claim credit for being the first to come up with the idea; a document titled “How to make a mint: The cryptography of anonymous electronic cash” was written in 1997 and authored by none other than Laurie Law, Susan Sabett and Jerry Solinas of the “National Security Agency Office of Information Security Research and Technology”.

Satoshi mined the genesis block of the bitcoin blockchain in January 2009, some 12 years after the paper was written. Interestingly, Tatsuaki Okamoto is cited frequently in the paper, though beyond the apparent similarity to Satoshi Nakamoto it probably doesn’t mean anything.

The paper describes signature authentication techniques, methods to prevent the counterfeiting of cryptocurrencies via transaction authentication, and mentions terminology common to current cryptocurrencies such as “tokens”, “coins”, “Secure Hashing” and “digital signatures” years before Bitcoin.

It should be noted that the paper appears to be directed towards banks, and that it does not include mining or a p2p blockchain authentication system, but given the decade between conceptualization and implementation these features may have evolved. If nothing else Satoshi must have gotten some inspiration from the paper.

The NSA also invented the hash function that Bitcoin is predicated on, SHA-256. Thanks to Edward Snowden’s leaks, we also know that the NSA has inserted backdoors into its encryption standards before. With so many poring over the open-source code though, it is unknown if the NSA could really get away with a backdoor.If the NSA came up with the idea years before Satoshi did, and Bitcoin is dependent on an NSA hash, the theory goes that at the very least the NSA has some stake/ control over/ ulterior motive regarding Bitcoin. On the other hand, the US government created TOR and the Internet; if the NSA had a finger in its creation, perhaps this is another experiment that “got away” from the government…

Be Careful Phuxxing Around With Mysterious Technology of Unknown Origin....,

NYTimes |  Worried about someone hacking the next election? Bothered by the way Facebook and Equifax coughed up your personal information?

The technology industry has an answer called the blockchain — even for the problems the industry helped to create.

The first blockchain was created in 2009 as a new kind of database for the virtual currency Bitcoin, where all transactions could be stored without any banks or governments involved.

Now, countless entrepreneurs, companies and governments are looking to use similar databases — often independent of Bitcoin — to solve some of the most intractable issues facing society.

“People feel the need to move away from something like Facebook and toward something that allows them to have ownership of their own data,” said Ryan Shea, a co-founder of Blockstack, a New York company working with blockchain technology.

The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has said the blockchain could help reduce the big internet companies’ influence and return the web to his original vision. But he has also warned that it could come with some of the same problems as the web.

Blockchain allows information to be stored and exchanged by a network of computers without any central authority. In theory, this egalitarian arrangement also makes it harder for data to be altered or hacked.

Investors, for one, see potential. While the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have plummeted this year, investment in other blockchain projects has remained strong. In the first three months of 2018, venture capitalists put half a billion dollars into 75 blockchain projects, more than double what they raised in the last quarter of 2017, according to data from Pitchbook.

Most of the projects have not gotten beyond pilot testing, and many are aimed at transforming mundane corporate tasks like financial trading and accounting. But some experiments promise to transform fundamental things, like the way we vote and the way we interact online. “There is just so much it can do,” said Bradley Tusk, a former campaign manager for Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who has recently thrown his weight behind several blockchain projects. “I love the fact that you can transmit data, information and choices in a way that is really hard to hack — really hard to disrupt and that can be really efficient.”

Mr. Tusk, the founder of Tusk Strategies, is an investor in some large virtual currency companies. He has also supported efforts aimed at getting governments to move voting online to blockchain-based systems. Mr. Tusk argues that blockchains could make reliable online voting possible because the votes could be recorded in a tamper-proof way.

“Everything is moving toward people saying, ‘I want all the benefits of the internet, but I want to protect my privacy and my security,’” he said. “The only thing I know that can reconcile those things is the blockchain.”

Keisha Will Get to the Bottoms of Atlanta's Epic Fustercluck

gizmodo |  City officials in Atlanta, Georgia are still trying to recover 10 days after a ransomware attack on municipal computer systems hit at least five out of 13 departments, knocking out some city services and forcing others to revert to paper records.

Per Reuters, over a week has passed since the SamSam ransomware began spreading throughout city computer systems, with a $51,000 ransom payment demanded by the hackers going unpaid. While the recovery began last week, large stretches of computer systems remain encrypted by the attackers. Three city council members were sharing a single old laptop over the weekend as they tried to reconstruct records, with councilman Howard Shook telling the news agency the situation was “extraordinarily frustrating.”

According to the Reuters report, numerous local officials have found their file systems corrupted, with tags like “weapologize” and “imsorry” appended to document titles. Though the ransomware was not able to corrupt everything—just eight out of 18 computers in the auditors’ office were affected, for example—it sounds like much of the information may be unrecoverable:
“Everything on my hard drive is gone,” City Auditor Amanda Noble said in her office housed in Atlanta City Hall’s ornate tower.
City officials have not disclosed the extent to which servers for backing up information on PCs were corrupted or what kind of information they think is unrecoverable without paying the ransom.
Atlanta police returned to taking written case notes and have lost access to some investigative databases, department spokesman Carlos Campos told Reuters. He declined to discuss the contents of the affected files.
The SamSam ransomware is particularly advanced and “infiltrates by exploiting vulnerabilities or guessing weak passwords in a target’s public-facing systems,” then uses techniques like the Mimikatz password recovery tool to seize control of the rest of a network, according to Wired. That means attackers don’t need to launch social engineering attacks or trick users into running malware for it to spread, and SamSam can easily spread via “remote desktop protocols, Java-based web servers, File Transfer Protocol servers, and other public network components.”

The city was just beginning to implement some of the recommendations of a cybersecurity audit released in January that found “the large number of severe and critical vulnerabilities identified has existed for so long the organizations responsible have essentially become complacent and no longer take action,” per CBS. The audit said that “departments tasked with dealing with the thousands of vulnerabilities do not have enough time or tools to properly analyze and treat the systems,” leading to a “significant level of preventable risk exposure to the city.”

“Ransomware is dumb,” Parameter Security founder Dave Chronister told Wired. “Even a sophisticated version like this has to rely on automation to work. Ransomware relies on someone not implementing basic security tenets... Not to be harsh, but looking at this their security strategy must be pretty bad.”

This Century's Fight Is The Fight Against Parasitism

TechCrunch |  There’s a new playbook for oppression today. Instead of outright totalitarian rule, you construct the appearance of democracy, while controlling it by subtly — in some cases perhaps not even consciously — restricting the options available to individual voters; by controlling a tiered system of “representative” electors behind the scenes; or by simply outright stuffing the ballot box. (There can be much sound and fury about the distinctions between the available candidates, but if you’ve done your job correctly, and made democracy as awful as possible, in general only establishment candidates or easily manipulated narcissists will ever be nominated.)

Then you give your people enough freedom to thrive; to create, to disrupt, to innovate. And you siphon as much as you can of that created wealth.

You don’t give them enough to actually seriously challenge the establishment, of course; to, say, remake the system so that the siphoned wealth goes to its poor and oppressed people instead of its silent, invisible masters. That is a red line that must not be crossed. But the beauties of this system — call it parasitism — is that it is very rare to encounter a challenger who cannot be co-opted. It vampire-squids enough wealth for its upper-tier members and their families to live lives of extraordinary, gilded luxury, without the unpleasant threat of being assassinated or deposed that comes with outright fascism or totalitarianism.

These parasitic systems couldn’t exist without today’s technology. They are mostly networked, not hierarchical. They watch, they adapt, and they distract. They construct shell corporations that shuttle gobs of money around the globe like 747s. And they very rarely need to resort to violence, because, like the Borg, and like capitalism itself — from which it is distinct, although there are places where it has been so successful that people rarely recognize any difference — parasitism usually has the capacity to absorb all those who confront it.

I’m not saying fascism and totalitarianism are things we should be completely unworried about. They’re out there, they’re real, and they’re terrifying. But there are playbooks for how to fight them. Parasitism, though, seems almost unstoppable. Presumably the solution is a technological one; let’s hope it’s discovered soon.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

The U.S. Govt Fixed The Negroe's Unenviable Position In America

theatlantic |  The reality, however, is that the government is uniquely responsible for creating slums, which King viewed as “a system of internal colonialism not unlike the exploitation of the Congo by Belgium.” In the 1930s, the government-sponsored Home Owners’ Loan Corporation introduced the private-sector to redlining when it produced color-coded maps of urban areas; black neighborhoods were marked in red, which indicated that they were the riskiest areas to insure mortgages. Consequently, white residents received virtually all loans from the Federal Housing Administration between 1934 and 1962. “But for this kind of government policy, we would not have the segregated patterns that we have today,” Rothstein said.

The FHA was so determined to keep African Americans out of white neighborhoods that it provided methods for doing so in its underwriting manual, which stated that “natural or artificially established barriers will prove effective in protecting a neighborhood and the locations within it from adverse influences … [which] includes prevention of the infiltration of business and industrial uses, lower class occupancy, and inharmonious racial groups.” As Rothstein writes in his book, the FHA favored areas that built highways through and between neighborhoods to keep them separated on the basis of race. In one instance, the FHA refused to guarantee loans for homes in a Detroit development adjacent to a black neighborhood unless the developer built a wall to keep the black neighbors out. “The reason federal agencies are on the hook in the first place is that they created the segregated and unequal society that we have today,” Katherine O’Regan, a former HUD official, said.

As Rothstein told WHYY’s Terry Gross, the FHA rationalized their segregation tactics on the faulty premise that home values would depreciate if African Americans moved into—or near—white neighborhoods. But this was not the case. “The reality is that when African Americans moved into white neighborhoods, the property values went up simply because African Americans were willing to pay more for housing than whites since their supply was so restricted,” Rothstein told me. In fact, property values only declined when real-estate agents scared homeowners into selling their properties at a low price by telling them that black and brown residents were moving into their neighborhood—a practice known as blockbusting. (The realtors would then proceed to resell those homes to African Americans at higher prices.)

Part of the reason that fair and open housing, of all of King’s legacies, has had such difficulty gaining traction is that homeowners are particularly sensitive about losing control of their neighborhoods. “A lot of civil rights was about making the South behave and taking the teeth from George Wallace,” Walter Mondale, who co-authored the Fair Housing Act, said in an interview for ProPublica. “This came right to the neighborhoods across the country. This was civil rights getting personal.”

Today, many homeowners still operate under the same unfounded notion that the FHA used to promote its racist housing policies. “I think that there is a perception that people of color are inferior neighbors, and that they bring down the value of a neighborhood,” said Cedric M. Powell, a law professor at the University of Louisville. Throughout the nation’s history, there has been a persisting racist notion that blackness cheapens the value of society, while only whiteness can enrich it. That begins to explain why white residents continue to resist integration; the mere perception of black residents in a neighborhood stirs worry of declining housing prices. It also explains why establishments don’t want black customers; why Hollywood executives don’t want black actors; why white voters don’t want black representatives; and why the president wants immigrants from Norway instead of Haiti. In that sense, the struggle for fair housing is no different than any other struggle in America: It poses a threat to white wealth, a threat of a more equal society.