How the ’80s programmed us for war

Reagan’s “morning in America” created “Red Dawn,” and a Pentagon-fueled pop culture that trained the masses

Let’s be completely clear: I did not consciously know I was a devout militarist in 1988 at the young, impressionable age of 12. When I ordered my G.I. Joe Snowcat tank to indiscriminately fire one of its six missiles at the Cobra soldiers who so often held my LEGO city hostage, I didn’t think that if this were real, it would probably leave a smoldering pile of blood and limbs and innocent victims. All I thought was: Awesome!

When I rented Hollywood’s first PG-13 rated production, 1984’s “Red Dawn,” and I saw the teen heartthrobs protect America by racking up execution after execution, I didn’t know the movie would also become the Guinness world-record holder for violent acts depicted per minute in a film. All I did was cheer.


American conservatives love to bash Canadian health care — but U.S. corporations love it

President Donald Trump has been pushing hard, along with Republicans in Congress, to eliminate former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But as he and leaders of the Senate and House struggle to come up with some alternative health care law, they might ask themselves why large companies like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler) over recent decades have shifted roughly half their car and truck production — and the jobs that go with them — across the Detroit River into Canada.

Here’s one big reason they did it: Canada’s government-run single-payer health system, known as Medicare — to be clear, not the same Medicare as the American health care system for senior citizens — lowers those auto companies’ health care costs from more than $15,000 per worker in the United States to just a few thousand dollars in Canada, with all Canadian taxpayers, not just employees and their employers, picking up the tab.

The Lost History of Antifa

Loren Balhorn

72 years after the triumph over Nazism, we look back to postwar Germany, when socialists gave birth to Antifa.

The origins of the word “antifa” — shorthand for decentralized, militant street activism associated with its own aesthetic and subculture — might be murky to most readers. Even in Germany, few know much about the popular forms of anti-fascist resistance that coined the term. Continue reading

The U.S. has invaded Britain just once. It didn’t go well.

After midnight, the 30 men began paddling the two miles to shore. Then the wind died, and just before sunup, Capt. John Paul Jones set foot once more on Whitehaven, the first and only time American forces ever attacked the British Isles.

Jones — the Revolutionary War hero most famous for the vow “I have not yet begun to fight!” — had grown up there, on the west coast of England. He was an apprentice at sea by age 13, and captain of a merchant vessel at 21. By 23, he’d escaped British authorities who wanted him for murder. By 30, he commanded The Ranger and her crew of 140 American sailors. Continue reading

Hitler refused to use sarin during WWII. The mystery is why

Adolf Hitler gassed and killed 6 million Jews during World War II — a genocide that makes his reluctance to use sarin against his military adversaries an enduring mystery.

It wasn’t because he was less evil than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s tone-deaf statement Tuesday that “someone as despicable as Hitler” didn’t use chemical weapons the way Assad did. Continue reading

The invention of sarin was an accident. A German scientist was trying to kill bug

The enemy wasn’t Syrian rebels. It was the weevil, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards.

Ask a gardener about weevils. Or Orkin, the pest control experts, which says “they can be very destructive, and their damage is often very expensive.”

In the mid-1930s, they were a problem on German farms. The government, forced to buy expensive pesticides from overseas, turned to a scientist at Bayer — yes, that Bayer, the aspirin one — to develop a cheaper alternative. Continue reading