Muslim-American Parents of KIA Vet to Trump: Here’s the Constitution

July 28, 2016 by  
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ABC 15 Arizona | (Video News Report) | – –

“FULL: Khizr Khan son was 1 of 14 American Muslims who died serving – Democratic National Convention

Khizr Khan’s son, Humayun S. M. Khan was a University of Virginia graduate and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”

Khizr Khan son was 1 of 14 American Muslims who died serving – Democratic National Convention

When Dems ditched Workers for Professionals, they opened Door for Trump

July 28, 2016 by  
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Adam Barnett/ Thomas Frank | ( OpenDemocracy ) | – –

The Democrats ditched the working class in favour of a professional elite leaving Trump  a master of ‘resentment politics’  to hoover up their votes. An interview with Listen Liberal! author Thomas Frank.

Now that the Republican Party has chosen a coiffured gargoyle as its nominee for president, the panicked eyes of the world turn to the Democrats, who have just selected Hillary Clinton at their national convention in Philadelphia. Author and historian Thomas Frank has seen his fair share of party conventions, having covered US politics for over 25 years. I spoke to him recently about his new book Listen, Liberal and the state of the union ahead of November’s election.

“The Democrats are not a Left party,” he tells me. “In fact there really isn’t one in the US.” Frank’s book is no broadside against liberals by a weary defector, but a Left critique of the Democratic Party. He charts its mutation over recent decades from being a workers party into the party of the ‘professional class’ – the experts, bankers, academics and tech-masters, who imagine themselves the natural winners of the great American lottery.

Frank names Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as typical specimens – and since we spoke, the president has expressed an interest in working with “Silicon Valley and venture capital” after leaving office…

How is this reflected in the country’s two-party system? “They represent two different hierarchies of power,” Frank explains. “One, the Republicans, who represent business and the hierarchy of money – the Koch brothers and the 1% – and the Democrats, who represent the hierarchy of status, the professional class. One is the Wall Street Journal, the other is the New York Times.”

Does this mean there’s little to choose between the two parties? “They tend to have similar views on economic matters, but they come from different places. And they’re very different on the cultural issues – the abortion issue for example, the guns, for god’s sake. Some of these things are enormously important.”

He adds: “I would also say the Democrats are of course marginally better on things like the welfare state. But then again, as soon as I say that, as soon as those words passed my lips, Bill Clinton and welfare reform – a Republican could probably have never got that done, because the Democrats would have fought him to the death to stop something like that. But with Clinton doing it, it suddenly becomes okay.”

Frank’s book demolishes Bill Clinton’s presidency, the legacy of which is key to understanding the anger of this year’s campaign, from Donald Trump to Black Lives Matter, to Bernie Sanders supporters booing at the Democrats convention. Clinton’s dismantling of welfare, draconian criminal justice laws, job-exporting trade deals, and deregulation of Wall Street, have resurfaced as major issues in this year’s campaign – and not just because his wife is running for president.

“People look back on those years with such fondness now,” Frank says. “The things that he actually got done were awful things. I thought it was really important to go back and correct the record.”

Is Frank apprehensive about the prospect of Bill Clinton being back in the White House? “Well, unlike nearly everybody I know, I think I like Hillary more than I like Bill. I think she’ll be better than he was. But yes, of course I’m apprehensive about it.

People like me are going to be voting for Hillary because Donald Trump is so frightening

“This is the sort of quintessentially American situation that we’re in here, where it’s a two party system, and given that, you have to constantly choose someone who’s not optimal for the situation, in order to avoid something that’s really dreadful. People like me are going to be voting for Hillary because Donald Trump is so frightening.”

Trump seems to have walked out of the pages of Frank’s earlier books, Pity the Billionaire and What’s the Matter with Kansas? – a silver-spoon demagogue railing against the ‘rigged system’ he has profited from and the ‘elite’ of which he is a member. His ability to hoover up votes from the Democrats’ natural constituency is partly explained in those books – Trump has mastered the resentment politics of the ‘culture wars’ – but as Listen, Liberal makes clear, the door was left open to him by the Democrats themselves.

This is even reflected in the way liberals have responded to the book. “There’s deep suspicion of working class people among the kind of liberals I’m describing,” he says. “They don’t like working class people. They just don’t like them.” Surely that’s a bit harsh? “That’s the sense that I get from these people. That’s not the kind of party they want to be in.”

“Trump has brought everything to a head,” he adds, “the fact that he’s got these working-class supporters. There’s a lot of contempt for these people. The Trump supporters are generally thought to be figures of idiocy.”

Given this, I asked Frank about the subject of those earlier books, the conservative ‘backlash’ critique of liberalism, which portrayed liberals as snobbish, well-educated, rich, and uncaring about working-class people. Was there more truth in that critique than he might have previously allowed?

“Conservatives have been saying this about Democrats for years,” he said, “but it’s never rigorous, they don’t really follow through, they don’t do their research. And their intention is always to show that liberals are in fact socialists, and that’s just completely wrong.

“So yes, there’s some validity to the conservative critique, but it’s so scattershot and wild, and it really misses the sociological reality of who these people are.”

Things are getting worse and worse for working people, and have been for quite a while in this country

One thing conservatives paper over – or did pre-Tea Party-and-successor-Donald Trump – is how economic forces, rather than a ‘liberal elite’, are kicking people in the rump every day.

“Things are getting worse and worse for working people, and have been for quite a while in this country,” says Frank. “We call it inequality, but it’s a much bigger problem than that implies. It’s the middle class coming apart, it’s working class people being unable to afford a middle class standard of living any longer.”

“A big part of the American population is in a state of decline,” he adds. “And they know it.

“People know that the standard of living they had in 2007 is never coming back, and they are upset about it – they’re very angry. But the impulse among liberals is to deny it. To say, look, everything is fine, the sky is blue, it’s a wonderful world out there. On paper, America is doing great. So turn that frown upside down.”

Frank is merciless about the ‘Let them eat cake’ brigade, and takes a scalpel to the self-serving idea of America as a meritocracy. “What you discover when you write about the professional class is that it is profoundly unaware of itself as a class,” he says. “They act like a class, and they do all these things that social classes do, but they don’t think of themselves as a class. They think of themselves as ‘the best’. We are who we are because we’re the smartest.”

A punk rocker at heart, (he wrote this book listening to Joy Division and Iggy Pop), Frank delights in blasting those living high on the hog – an instinct that gives him, as a Kansan who went on to get a History PhD at the University of Chicago, an edge over his liberal fraternity.  

“I feel much more at home mocking professional class liberals than writing about people in Kansas,” he says. “I’m describing highly educated and prosperous people, people with every advantage, and people who are very familiar with ideas, and who nevertheless go through this pantomime with themselves. I had no trouble switching on the inner HL Mencken when I went to Martha’s Vineyard. I was completely at home mocking those people.”

As the gala of self-congratulation among Democrats continues, and will likely continue up to November and beyond, it’s worth recalling that their conceit – they who, having ditched working people, now use the threat of a President Trump to discipline those same people into voting ‘correctly’– is not just about place and position, but about moral superiority too.

“One of the rewards of being a liberal is you think you’re very virtuous,” Frank says. “Once you start digging though, this is a movement that is profoundly self-interested. They love to look in that mirror and think about how fine and noble they are. My objective is to put a crack in that mirror.”

Via OpenDemocracy

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Truthdig: “Robert Scheer and Thomas Frank Discuss DNC”

Top Five Ways to tell if a Terrorist is still al-Qaeda despite name Change

July 28, 2016 by  
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By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The leftist Beirut newspaper al-Safir comments scathingly on the name-change of the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front led by Abu Muhammad al-Julani, to the Syria Conquest Front.

Here are some reasons that the name change isn’t going to work:

1. Al-Julani got permission from 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of old al-Qaeda, to sever public ties with him because, you know, being in a command line to al-Qaeda was a PR problem for the Syrian guerrilla opposition to the Syrian regime. But if you have to get permission from al-Qaeda to change your name, then guess what? You’re still al-Qaeda.

2. In the announcement of the name change, as al-Safir points out, there was no explicit renunciation of the ties between al-Julani and al-Qaeda or of the pledge of fealty al-Julani gave al-Zawahiri. (Or I might add, any apology for having hooked up with al-Qaeda, ). He just said that a new organization has been formed that has no relations with any foreign quarter.

3. The new name is Front for the Conquest of Greater Syria. Conquest has a bad ring to it. I don’t think Syria needs to be conquered by these seedy-looking guys (and the name implies he wants Lebanon and Jordan and Israel/Palestine, too). The Huns conquered Rome. The Mongols conquered Iran. Tojo conquered the Philippines. Maybe if they had been a liberation front or a member of one it might have a less unsavory ring. As it is, it is still obvious that they want to impose their hyper-fundamentalist ideology at the point of a gun on Syrian women, Alawis, Kurds, Druze, secular Sunnis, etc. etc.

4. Al-Safir says that the attempted image change comes way too late. The Nusra Front was asked by former CIA head David Petraeus to ditch al-Qaeda and join the coalition against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), but it didn’t. As a result, it lost most international support and contributed to a loss of support for its allies. Now, the strategic and tactical situation in Syria has completely changed, since Russia began bombing last fall. Al-Qaeda and its allies have lost enormous ground in the meantime, and now even East Aleppo has been surrounded.

5. Nobody will believe you if you look like this:

Mohammad_al-Julani h/t Wikipedia.

You might be thinking the switch from a black to a white turban would do the trick. But you forgot this one:

Osama_bin_Laden_portrait h/t Wikipedia

Turkey Is Shutting Down over 130 Media Outlets; Can Democracy Survive?

July 28, 2016 by  
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TeleSur | – –

Erdogan’s political purge following the failed coup keeps on going, with the net ever widening.

Turkey is shutting down over 100 media outlets and is purging over 1,000 military personnel, it was announced Wednesday as President Tayyip Erdogan’s government continues to tighten its grip on power after a failed military coup on July 15.

In all, 131 media outlets have been shut down including television stations, newspapers and magazines. Earlier this week, the government began detaining journalists, with around 90 reporters ordered to be detained.

Nearly 50 journalists from the opposition Zaman newspaper have been issued detention orders. Zaman was shut down in March for its alleged links to the Gulenist movement, which the Erdogan administration is blaming for the attempted coup.

The military has so far dishonorably discharged 1,684 of its personnel for their alleged role in the failed coup, a government official said, according to CNN Turk. Of those discharged, 149 were either generals or admirals. Al Jazeera Turk reported that Erdogan also aims to shut down all of Turkey’s military schools.

Erdogan last week ordered the shutdown of thousands of institutions, including schools, universities and trade unions. A presidential decree ordered a state of emergency following the failed coup.

Under the state of emergency, people can be detained for up to one month without charge, which has raised concerns among human rights groups. Many are saying that Erdogan is going too far in his quest to purge the country of anti-government elements.

“The wholesale and arbitrary nature of the attacks on the Turkish media in the past week seems to reflect a desire to exact revenge and bring them into line. It is time the authorities put a stop to this,” said Reporters Without Borders.

The Turkish Interior Minister Efkana Ala has said that more than 15,000 people have been detained since the failed coup, with 8,113 people formally arrested and awaiting trial. The attempted coup left at least 265 dead and around 2,000 injured.

Via TeleSur

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Turkey closes 130 media outlets, sacks scores of generals as post-coup purge deepens”

Develop Detroit aims to spur sustainable development efforts

July 28, 2016 by  
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Growing up in Detroit was a badge of pride for Sonya S. Mays.

Not only did she feel nurtured and supported, she was gratified to call herself the product of a predominantly black community in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“I grew up in a rich, warm, loving, incredibly nurturing environment, and I don’t just mean at home,” says Mays. “I’m a public school kid. All my teachers were black.”

“I didn’t understand that I was a ‘minority,’” she adds. “Growing up here, I thought it was a gift. When I left I didn’t have this chip on my shoulder about what I could and couldn’t do.”

As CEO of the Develop Detroit housing revitalization organization, Mays is equally passionate about contributing to future residents’ sense of empowerment. By creating greater equity through affordable living, Develop Detroit plans a role for itself in making the community sustainable for long-time residents and their families.

“For me, as a black person, this was a great place to grow, and it breaks my heart that I don’t know if some of the younger generation is getting that same gift,” she says.

Develop Detroit-0667

“I didn’t understand that I was a ‘minority,” says Sonya S. Mays. “Growing up here, I thought it was a gift. When I left I didn’t have this chip on my shoulder about what I could and couldn’t do.”

While the organization won’t have a racial focus, Mays says Develop Detroit will join efforts already underway to ensure Detroiters in long-established neighborhoods maintain a community stake, including housing for their children and grandchildren.

Formed a year ago, Develop Detroit plans to announce its first projects this month, two mixed-income apartments of 50 or more housing units. Mays says specific locations and details are forthcoming, but the properties will strategically open in areas currently simmering on the revitalization front.

“These two, in particular, are located in places where if you closed your eyes and looked five years from now, you’d get some of these downtown developers who’d be looking to turn them into high-end properties,” she says. “I try to avoid using the word gentrification, but they’re ripe for that type of conversion.”

Develop Detroit is buying the buildings from two private owners, renovating and adding to the units, and will ensure some of the units are designated as affordable, among market rates, Mays adds.

“We are a startup organization that’s really trying to jump out there and start answering the question, ‘What about Detroit’s neighborhoods?’” she says.

Areas like northwest Detroit where her parents live have hit the organization’s radar, due to their potential sustainability, despite “tipping point” characteristics that could push their neighborhoods toward blight, says Mays. Her parents’ block includes 55 houses, only two of which are vacant.

“This is an area that made Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles so interesting to me,” she says. “We all suspected that the Six Mile-Livernois area could support a sit-down family restaurant, and then you get Kuzzo’s out there to really prove it.”

Develop Detroit-0676

“We are a startup organization that’s really trying to jump out there and start answering the question, ‘What about Detroit’s neighborhoods?’” Mays says.

Develop Detroit has identified a handful of areas for initial investment, generally where other community stakeholders and revitalization incentives are ongoing.

“The key for us is to pool resources and work with like-minded organizations. So when we think about where to go, that’s huge for us,” says Mays. “They don’t necessarily have to be doing housing per se, but they can be doing really great work with schools, or there might be some business development.”

A myth Mays hopes to discredit is that affordable housing in Detroit is an issue of the greatest concern to single, black mothers.

“As I’ve gotten deeper into this work I think most people would be surprised if they stepped back and really looked at just how many sectors of the country are affected by the lack of really affordable housing options,” she says. “I think that stereotype does a disservice to just how serious the affordability problem here is.”

David Alade, co-founder Century Partners, which buys and develops vacant homes in Detroit’s historic districts, expects Develop Detroit to make valuable community contributions.

“Sonya, with her wealth of experience growing up in Detroit, living here, knowing the people here, and understanding how development impacts the future of Detroit, she’s sort of the perfect person to help determine what will go into the neighborhoods that need it most,” Alade says. “There are tons of neighborhoods that have their unique histories and flavors, and I’m really excited about the prospect that folks like Sonya are delivering resources outside downtown and Midtown.”

Having worked in both the corporate sector and as an advisor to Kevyn Orr, the city’s former emergency financial manager, Mays understands the importance of current and future Develop Detroit collaborations.

“I’d like to just reiterate how important partners are to us,” says Mays. “We’re not doing this work in a vacuum and, if we’re in neighborhoods, we’re working alongside the other people who’ve been here, through and through.”

The future of mass transit in Detroit

July 28, 2016 by  
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Transit station - Photo by Ted C/FreeImages.com
Earlier this afternoon, representatives from Macomb and Oakland Counties blocked a key vote that would have allowed voters in southeastern Michigan to decide on a millage to improve mass transit in the region. This is the 27th time that funding for a regional transit authority has been blocked due to parochial interests.

There are many across Michigan who a disappointed by this news. Many are even confused since the bulk of new transit options that would have been created under this plan would have been in Macomb and Oakland Counties.

While I join the echo of disappointed Detroiters, I must admit that I am not surprised by this development. Many in the northern suburbs, particularly the more distant suburbs, have long been hostile to public funding for mass transit.

The question that I believe all Detroiters must ask now is: where do we go from here?

There are no doubt those who will simply give up. Others will attempt to appease Macomb and Oakland Counties with an even greater share of transit benefits, most likely at the expense of those who live Downriver and in Western Wayne County.

I, however, advocate for a different option. The City of Detroit as well as Wayne and Washtenaw Counties are the three entities that were eager to move forward with improving mass transit in southeastern Michigan. There are also a few communities in our northern suburbs, such as Ferndale, who are also eager to see a better transit system in place.

Bus stop - Photo by Andre Montejorge
Rather than continue down the same path that we've been on for decades - of constantly trying to convince our holdout neighbors that this is in everyone's best interests and constantly being rebuffed - I believe it is everyone's best interest for those communities who see the value in transit to move forward on our own rather continuing to spend more time and resources convincing the holdouts that they're wrong.

By moving forward without these skeptics, we could improve upon the QLine and take it to 9 Mile. Build upon the walkable communities in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Ypsilanti. Provide coordinated support to the DDOT and AATA systems in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Based on what we've seen in other parts of the country, people and business will likely flock to those parts of our region where transit is improved. (For a detailed accounting of this trend, please see Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects by Robert Cervero available for free here.)

The holdouts will likely circle behind once they see the progress and realize that they cannot extract even more from the people of Wayne County. If they don't, it's more their loss than anyone else's.

The bottom line is that I believe it is time to stop allowing a relatively small group of individuals to hold the transportation needs of more than 2.1 million Michigan residents hostage. It's time for us to move forward, with or without the holdouts.

THIS WEEKEND: "The Snowflake Man" puppet performance @ DIA

July 28, 2016 by  
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Puppet Performance:

Saturday, July 30, 2016 @ 2pm
Sunday, July 31, 2016 @ 2pm

Puppeteer Sarah Frechette combines art, science, and little-known pieces of American history to magical effect in this show featuring intricately designed Czech-style marionettes, pop-up book scenery, and a whimsical sense of humor. After the performance, audience members can create their own pop-up theater.

Watch Actor Terry Crews Tour Detroit On Celebrity Adventure Club

July 28, 2016 by  
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Klatt: “Jim Harbaugh was a Much Better NFL Coach than Nick Saban”

July 28, 2016 by  
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“All respect to Saban but those are the facts.”

FS1’s new show Speak for Yourself aims for the flaming hot taeks ala First Take and PTI, and this one from from college football analyst Joel Klatt is a scorcher.

We’ll just leave it right here:

"Jim Harbaugh was a much better NFL coach than Nick Saban was," Klatt says of the Michigan Wolverines coach. "All respect to Saban but those are the facts."

His counterpart, Jason Whitlock, tries to cite Saban’s national titles at Alabama, but Klatt will have none of it.

"His (Harbaugh’s) level of success is almost unmatched," Klatt says. "Nick was never that guy in the NFL."

Buuuuuuuuurn.

Grey Ghost Detroit restaurant celebrates its grand opening with a nod to the city’s past

July 28, 2016 by  
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In Detroit, it is easy to fall in love … with a piece of property. And that’s exactly what happened at first for John Vermiglio and Josef Giacomino, two Millennial transplants by way of Chicago and Wisconsin.

These chefs wanted their own restaurant. The coveted Ye Old Butcher Shop spot had opened up. So, like many others, they went after it. They came into Detroit for a quick two-day tour. And they liked what they saw.

Ghost 2“It took me about 48 hours to see what was happening here and there was so much opportunity,” Joe said.

So after nearly two years of talking, talking, talking and emailing, emailing, emailing, they along with their partners including John’s twin brother, got the property. They moved to the city, dived all in and worked the “front of the house” at other restaurants. They wanted their dream to be reality, to be good, to be Detroit-ish.

That is when, during those long months of working, dreaming, designing and cooking, they fell in love with the rest of Detroit. The artists. The creatives. The hard workers. The neighbors. The people. As they open their first restaurant, the long-awaited Grey Ghost Detroit, the love will continue through a story of food, cocktails and many good meals together.

There are many banner milestones in a person’s career. For a car designer, it might be when they see their first drawing roll off of the production line. For an artist, it could be their first commission or gallery show.

grey 2For professional chefs – those superstars of the food world who take fresh ingredients and turn them into something magical – it is opening your own restaurant. And that dream, which is a decade in the making, is about to happen for John and Joe.

Tonight, the duo and their partners David Vermiglio (John’s twin brother and a financial ace) and Will Lee (a drink expert who also worked at Selden Standard) are opening Grey Ghost in Midtown Detroit. John and Joe describe the restaurant as a steak house and much more.

“We are super humble to have assembled the team that we have,” John said. “We have Chef Joe from my time in Chicago; he’s a native of Wisconsin, but he and his family were willing to make the trek to Detroit.”

They’re hoping people in the neighborhood, who are visiting Detroit as well as people there for events at nearby hot spots like the new Red Wings stadium or the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will come in for dinner, drinks and good conversation.

Joe Giacomino

Joe Giacomino

The restaurant, which will be located at 47 E. Watson at Woodward Avenue, opens at 4 p.m. tonight. This is the group’s flagship restaurant and they have high hopes that their combination of skill, food knowledge and genuine excitement for Detroit and its food scene will bring people to Grey Ghost.

“We are more than thrilled with this location – it was a one in a million chance to get into this space, particularly for first-time restaurant owners,” John said. “This neighborhood (Midtown) and the city itself is booming right now, and it’s incredible to be a part of it.”

The restaurant is named after an infamous pirate-styled character who is said to have worked along the Detroit River during the time of Prohibition. While that guy’s style was subtle, said to slip along the riverfront on gray days, the style of this restaurant will be anything but quiet. This neighborhood steakhouse-style restaurant, which features “cuts and cocktails,” will be creative, approachable and respectful of both the history of the building and the city, Joe and John said.

John Vermiglio

John Vermiglio

“The building has such a history – it opened in 1919 as the Crystal Ballroom and I just found out that back in the day, my grandmother used to go there to ballroom dance,” John said. “The space is still timeless.

“It provided us a beautiful backdrop for us to echo and reflect the spirit of Detroit, which is industry. There are lots of hard lines – the original brick is still here, limestone surrounds by the doors, polished concrete floors. We peppered in modern and art décor inspired elements to soften the space and make it welcoming.

“It’s an extension of our home,” John added. “We’ll take care of them like family.”

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