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War of the Billionaires: George Soros Takes on Donald Trump
Billionaire George Soros, the subject of countless conservative conspiracy theories, funds the opposition to President Trump's agenda.
The fact that billionaires influence politics is hard to dispute. Our current President is a billionaire and Trump’s cabinet is stocked with billionaires and millionaires. His candidacy was significantly boosted by the support from the billionaire Mercer family, who’s had a close relationship with Trump’s chief advisor Steve Bannon. They are also the co-owners of Breitbart News, a leading pro-Trump news organization which was instrumental in his rise and has been staunchly supporting his agenda. Other famous billionaires behind Trump include Silicon Valley’s iconic venture capitalist Peter Thiel, the legendary investor Carl Icahn, and Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Let's not forget, of course, the conservative funders David and Charles Koch, brother billionaires who are often portrayed by liberals as nefarious conspiratorial operators (who, nonetheless, did not back Trump).
The left also has its share of billionaire supporters, like Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Walmart heiress Alice Walton. And then there’s George Soros. To say that Soros is a controversial figure is an understatement. In fact, there is no billionaire who has been maligned by either side as much as George Soros, seen by the many on the right as nothing less than an embodiment of evil supposedly behind every liberal cause on the planet.
Soros has become the nexus of countless conservative conspiracy theories. He has been blamed for controlling voting machines the U.S., funding protests like the Women’s March, inciting the Ferguson riots, funding Black Lives Matter, meddling in the affairs of European countries, creating the refugee crisis, helping the Muslim takeover of the West and pretty much being both a world-dominating neo-Rothschild and a Nazi at the same time.
George Soros (now 86) is one of the world’s most successful investors and richest people, worth $25.2 billion as of early 2017. Outside of the money Soros gives directly to liberal politics, much of the right’s hatred of him is aimed at his philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which was established to aid countries transitioning from communism. It’s main mission now is to support human rights and democracy, something it purports to do in over 100 countries. Among its accomplishments, the Foundations count their work supporting the growth of democratic governments and societies in most countries of the former Soviet Union, a fact that does not sit well with Russia, which sees Soros as interfering in its spheres of influence.
While Foundations, with a budget of nearly a $1 billion, work around the world, their funding of liberal projects and organizations in the U.S. makes them an obvious target for attacks from the right. So does OSF’s support for reforming American policy on immigration, criminal justice, drugs and discrimination.
It’s also notable that Soros himself reportedly spent $27 million to oppose George Bush’s 2004 re-election and $13 million in support of Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: Soros Fund Management Chairman George Soros (C) attends a meeting with finance and development ministers, international partners and the presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea about the ongoing efforts to recover from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa during the World Bank- International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings April 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. The World Bank announced that it would provide an additional US$650 million over the next year to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to recover from the social, economic and health impact of the Ebola crisis. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Another source of right-wing controversies and unproven theories lies in Soros’s past. One such issue involves Soros, who is Jewish, being accused of being a “Nazi collaborator”.
A naturalized American citizen, Soros was born in 1930 in Hungary, going through the Holocaust as a teenager. To save him from the Nazis, his father decided to conceal his identity, posing George (then 14) as a godchild of a Hungarian government employee, whose job it was to document the confiscation of property from Hungarian Jews. The fact that he was present during such events, even though Soros vehemently denied being actively involved, has been seized upon by such personalities as Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck, and countless online trolls, to accuse Soros of somehow helping the Nazis. There is no evidence that the teenage George did anything more than try to hide his identity in an environment where an estimated 500,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in 10 months.
What has Soros been involved in lately? If some congressional Republicans are to be believed, he is trying to change (and destroy) Europe. As reported by Politico, representatives Chris Smith (NJ) and Senator Mike Lee (UT) led an effort to send letters to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, accusing Soros’s Open Society Foundations of pushing a “progressive agenda” for the purpose of invigorating the left. The letters very much parrot the views of nationalist right-wing European politicians, supported by the Kremlin.
In particular, the Republicans accuse Soros of using his organization to meddle in the politics of Macedonia, where a crisis centering on abuse of power, involving illegal wiretapping, forced the prime minister Nikola Gruevski to resign. He promptly blamed Soros-related organizations.
Gruevski’s sentiment was echoed by the far-right (and pro-Russian) Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán who also blamed Soros for “causing trouble” and influencing Hungarian politics with his money.
In the United States, after Trump’s win, the Open Society Foundations announced a $10 million initiative aimed at supporting communities potentially targeted by “hateful acts” related to the Trump agenda - immigrants, the LGBT community, Muslims and others. Soros is also supporting the Democratic Alliance, a significant donor coalition which is looking to fund numerous groups to combat Trump's policies.
If you're wondering where Soros stands on Trump personally, here's how he described the President at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos:
"I have described him as an impostor and a con man and a would-be dictator," said Soros. "But he's only a would-be dictator because I'm confident that the Constitution and the institutions of the United States are strong enough. ... He would be a dictator if he could get away with it, but he won't be able to."
It’s safe to say, the right’s lack of love for Soros is likely to continue and intensify.
The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
Philosopher Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" predicts the future of human societies.
- Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" says that intelligent life on Earth will eventually form a "singleton".
- The "singleton" could be a single government or an artificial intelligence that runs everything.
- Whether the singleton will be positive or negative depends on numerous factors and is not certain.
Want to Retain American Jobs? Stop Blaming Globalization<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="oxK8j1xN" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="2cf425d7b91ed2a6fc4fe19d065f3408"> <div id="botr_oxK8j1xN_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/oxK8j1xN-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/oxK8j1xN-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/oxK8j1xN-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
- One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."