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Yelling at Your Kids Doesn’t Work, Makes You Look ‘Weak’

The Free Press WV

In the 1960s, 94% of parents used physical punishment on their children. In 2010, just 22% of parents did. Parents have figured out that there’s a better way than spanking—and now it’s time for yelling to experience that same reckoning. Most parents today yell at their kids, and in the New York Times, Stephen Marche calls the practice “the most widespread parental stupidity around today.“ Studies have found that shouting at kids can lead to increases in anxiety, stress, depression, and behavioral problems and decreases in self-esteem. It makes parents look out of control and weak, and all it accomplishes is teaching kids to yell themselves. “Yelling, even more than spanking, is the response of a person who doesn’t know what else to do,“ Marche writes—before explaining what else you can do.

He highlights the ABCs of parenting, a process that does require advance planning:

  • A: antecedents. Instead of yelling at your children every time they leave their shoes strewn around the room, clearly explain to them what you want them to do—before you want them to do it. In this case, talk to them in the morning about putting their shoes away when they come home from school.
  • B: behaviors. Define, shape, and model the behavior you want. Put your own shoes away, and help your kids understand what to do.
  • C: consequences. When your child puts his or her shoes away, or even gets them closer to where they’re supposed to go, go over-the-top with praise, both verbal and nonverbal (touching).
“The beauty of having a system is that instead of reacting after your kids do something bad, instead of waiting for them to mess up and then getting angry, you have a conscious plan,“ writes Marche. His full explanation of the system is HERE.

Reviving the spirit of ’68

The Free Press WV

I was a hippie/bicycle delivery boy living in San Francisco when the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago 50 years ago, so I absorbed the chaos, the police riot, from half a continent away, but I knew with absolute certainty that the nation was changing and I was part of it.

We were in the violent spasm of transition. How long would it last? MLK and RFK, as they called for peace and sanity and civil rights for all, had just been assassinated. This was the God of War, turning its vengeance inward.

A year earlier I had been part of the march on the Pentagon. At one point a group of soldiers charged us as we stood on the grounds next to the building and I got clonked in the head by a rifle butt. Later, as we sat in, I felt with sudden certainty that Lyndon Johnson was going to emerge from the Pentagon and declare an end to the Vietnam War. Uh . . . that didn’t happen.

Instead, I eventually just got up and left. When I returned to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I was in college, the first thing I did was drop out. Apparently I wanted to remove myself entirely from the infrastructure or normal, middle-class existence and join others in creating something new.

As I read about the chaos in Chicago at the convention — the thousands of cops and National Guardsmen and U.S. troops storming the protesters, whacking them with their batons, throwing them into paddy wagons, as the pro-war consensus (epitomized by the grimace on the face of Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley) held tight to the reins of power — I felt myself quietly retreat back into my own life. The “movement” wasn’t going to remake America. Or rather, idealism all by itself wasn’t going to bring about the world I had envisioned with such certainty as I sat on the steps of the Pentagon.

I didn’t surrender my idealism; I didn’t turn into a cynic. But I shifted my focus to my own life and returned to school. Half a century later . . .
I gape in awe at how little has changed.

“The reality is that the war has created the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe today,” Moustafa Bayoumi wrote recently in The Guardian. “Three-quarters of the population, some 22 million Yemenis, require humanitarian assistance and protection. About 8.4 million people hang on the brink of starvation and another 7 million lie malnourished. Since 2015, more than 28,000 thousand people have been killed or injured, and many thousands more have died from causes exacerbated by war, such as a cholera epidemic that has afflicted more than a million people and claimed over 2,300 lives. At least one child dies every 10 minutes from causes linked to the war, according to the United Nations.”

Actually, something has changed — the opposite of what I had anticipated in 1967, as I sat on the steps of the Pentagon, or in 1968, as I silently cheered the protesters demanding that the Democratic Party become a party of peace.

The war in Yemen, which the U.S. is making possible with billions of dollars in weapons sales to the Saudi coalition, is barely even news. Neither are the wars — at least seven of them — in which the U.S. is directly participating, including Iraq (15 years and counting) and Afghanistan (17 years and counting). I fear the forces the antiwar protesters were confronting 50 years ago have made a shift in keeping with their deepest interests: not to “win” the wars but simply to make sure they continue.

Even Donald Trump was shocked by this: “When Trump announced . . . that he was ordering a new approach to the war,” the Associated Press reported last March about Afghanistan, “he said he realized ‘the American people are weary of war without victory.’ He said his instinct was to pull out, but that after consulting with aides, he decided to seek ‘an honorable and enduring outcome.’ He said that meant committing more resources to the war, giving commanders in the field more authority and staying in Afghanistan for as long as it takes.”

In other words, he was pulled back into line — that is, back into lyin’. Glory, glory, hallelujah. In America, clichés rule. We may bomb children, and (even more to the point) manufacture and sell the bombs that take out school buses, etc., etc., etc., but we still pull out our clichés about freedom and honor and such, stale as they may be, on a moment’s notice.

America’s journey to its Orwellian present-day reality, in which wars are endlessly expanding background noise (as opposed to news), essentially began in the tumultuous late ’60s, when peace consciousness had seized much of the nation. While LBJ did not declare the end of the Vietnam War, the war eventually did end — in defeat, dishonor and disgrace, leaving behind a shattered country (more than million dead, an environment despoiled with Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance) and countless U.S. vets spiritually and physically wounded. The American public was weary not of war without victory but of war itself. This was called Vietnam Syndrome, and it was profoundly troubling to the political status quo.

It took several decades, but Militarized America did achieve its one and only post-World War II victory. It defeated Vietnam Syndrome. Step one was eliminating the draft, which freed the public from any personal risk — and thus, any real stake — in future wars, leaving only a poverty draft to fill the ranks, and who cares about them?

Ronald Reagan was forced to fight proxy wars against the commies in Central America, but his successor, George H.W. Bush, declared a victory over Vietnam Syndrome after Gulf War I. A decade later, his son, as we know, launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which, having accomplished none of their alleged aims, nonetheless continue with no end in sight, two presidents later. Victory no longer matters. A seemingly rational mission no longer matters. Clichés and a bloated military budget are enough.

Fifty years ago, the country was in tumult about the war in Vietnam and millions of people wanted to reshape the Democratic Party into a party of peace. The War Machine, which owned (owns) both parties, held fast and tough. Billy clubs won. The media surrendered.

But we the people have not surrendered. We were outmaneuvered, gerrymandered, removed from the voting roster, but we have not surrendered. Is the spirit of ’68 coming back to life in the Trump era, as evinced by an upsurge in progressive electoral victories? The War God is ruthless and clever and will not give up. Neither should we.

Robert Koehler, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Coming Apart? Maybe Not

The Free Press WV

Day by day the Trump administration is coming apart. Revelations abound about the dysfunctions of the Trump team, about Trump’s ignorance and incompetence, and now about a “resistance” group in the White House that is actively countering Trump’s “amorality” and “erratic” leadership style. Donald Trump surely can’t last much longer. Or can he?

We might all be guilty of wishful thinking here. Yes, between Bob Woodward’s Fear and Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous’ assault on Trump’s character, you would think any normal leader would decide that enough is enough. But Donald Trump isn’t a normal leader with normal emotions. As Woodward reports, he believes in never taking a backward step, never apologizing, never showing weakness. He’s like Hitler in his bunker—except that Trump won’t commit suicide.

More importantly, Trump hasn’t been mortally wounded by any of the books about him. Nor has the anonymous op-ed really exposed new and terrible things about Trump’s character that we didn’t already know. In fact, the op-ed supports Trump in two ways. First, the writer claims that some officials are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda.” S/he acknowledges that Trump has delivered on key campaign promises beloved to both his base and Republicans in Congress: “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” What the writer, possibly a senior intelligence official, most resents is Trump’s performance in foreign affairs, such as his embrace of dictators, his trade policy, and treatment of allies—in short, his unfitness to be a commander in chief. Major defects, to be sure, but evidently not serious enough for the writer to resign in protest.

Second, Trump, with help from Steve Bannon, has consistently maintained that a “deep state” has been undermining his presidency since day one. Now along comes a “senior official” whom Trump can say proves the existence of the deep state, giving life to Woodward’s stories about other officials who have all along engaged in acts of bureaucratic sabotage. Trump’s cry of “treason” may seem credible to many.

When the smoke clears for the umpteenth time in this absurd presidency, we may find ourselves still at square one, hoping for electoral victories in November and the start of impeachment proceedings in January. We’re no closer than we were a few days ago to mass White House defections, Congressional Republicans turning on Trump, or people in “the base” suddenly realizing what a jerk they elected. Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh is a day closer to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, many children remain separated by ICE from their families, shootings continue unabated, and bad news mounts on climate change. So let’s get back to work.

Mel Gurtov, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

The Tip of the Radiation Disaster Iceberg

The Free Press WV

The World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. Claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

CHALK RIVER (Ontario), December 02, 1952: The first major commercial reactor disaster occurred at this Canadian reactor on the Ottawa River when it caused a loss-of-coolant, a hydrogen explosion and a meltdown, releasing 100,000 curies of radioactivity to the air. In comparison, the official government position is that Three Mile Island released about 15 curies, although radiation monitors failed or went off-scale.

ROCKY FLATS (Colorado), September 11, 1957: This Cold War factory produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. The accident caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.

WINDSCALE/SELLAFIELD (Britain), October 07, 1957: The worst of many fires burned through one reactor at Windscale, igniting three tons of uranium and dispersing radionuclides over parts of England and northern Europe. The site was hastily renamed Sellafield. Another large radiation leak occurs in 1981 and leukemia rates soared to triple the national average.

KYSHTYM/CHELYABINSK-65 (Russia), September 29, 1957: A tank holding 70-80 metric tons of highly radioactive liquid waste exploded, contaminating an estimated 250,000 people, and permanently depopulating 30 towns, which were leveled and removed from Russian maps. Covered up by Moscow (and the CIA) until 1989, Russia finally revealed that 20 million curies of long-lived isotopes like cesium were released, and the release was later declared a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The long covered-up explosion contaminated up to 10,000 square miles making it one of the most serious radiation accidents ever recorded.

SANTA SUSANA (Simi Valley, Calif.), July 12, 1959: The meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment just outside Los Angeles caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Arjun Makhajani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research. Released radioactive materials were never authoritatively measured because “the monitors went clear off the scale,” according to an employee. The accident was kept secret for 20 years.

CHURCH ROCK (New Mexico), July 16, 1979: Ninety-three million gallons of liquid uranium mine wastes and 1,000 tons of solid wastes spilled onto the Navajo Nation and into Little Puerco River, and nuclear officials called it “the worst incident of radiation contamination in the history of the United States.” The Little Puerco feeds the Little Colorado River, which drains to the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead—a source of drinking water for 20 million people in three states.

TOMSK-7 (Russia), April 07, 1993: In “the worst radiation disaster since Chernobyl,” Russian and foreign experts said a tank of radioactive waste exploded at the Tomsk nuclear weapons complex and that wind blew its plume of radiation toward the Yenisei River and 11 Siberian villages, none of which were evacuated.

MONJU (Japan), December 08, 1995: This sodium-cooled “breeder reactor” caused a fire and a large leak of sodium coolant into the Pacific. Liquid sodium coolant catches fire on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. Costly efforts to engineer commercial models have failed. Japan’s Monju experiment was halted in 2018 after more than 24 years of false starts, accidents and cover-ups.

TOKAI-MURA (Japan), September 30, 1999: A uranium “criticality,” which is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction, caused a “neutron burst” that killed three workers and dispersed neutron radiation throughout the densely populated urban area surrounding the factory.

Not to be slighted, deliberate contamination has also been enormous: Five metric tons of plutonium was dispersed over the earth by nuclear bomb testing, and other nuclear weapons processes; more than 210 billion gallons of radioactive liquids were poured into the ground at the Hanford reactor complex in Washington State; and 16 billion gallons of liquid waste holding 70,000 curies of radioactivity were injected directly into Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer at the Idaho National Lab.

John LaForge, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.

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