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‘You could use Old Faithful to pitch Viagra’: Our national parks are now for sale to corporate donors

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The National Park Service is opening the door to corporate sponsorship by expanding the definition of philanthropy.

Corporate sponsors won’t be able to place advertising or marketing slogans at the 411 national parks, but they will be allowed to prominently display their logos and gain naming rights for some features in return for their gifts, reported the Washington Post.

Proposed new rules — which are set to go into effect later this year — will allow corporations to design and build park buildings and operate them over the long term, and some donors will be granted naming rights to park programs, positions and endowments.

Jeff Reinbold, the park service’s associate director for partnerships and civic engagement, proposed the new rules in March to respond to donors who perceive the government as too slow to complete deals.

The public will be allowed to make donations, as well, either through crowdsourcing or online fundraisers — which could potentially lead to “Boaty McBoatface”-style shenanigans.

But the new rules will also allow corporations that are in litigation with the Interior Department, the park services’s parent agency, to donate as long as the disputes don’t involve a national park.

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The park service faces an $11 billion backlog in maintenance projects, with little indication that Congress will boost funding.

Critics say the corporate partnerships will commercialize national treasures and even threaten their existence.

“You could use Old Faithful to pitch Viagra,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “Or the Lincoln Memorial to plug hemorrhoid cream. Or Victoria’s Secret to plug the Statue of Liberty.”

He said corporate gifts could be traded for access to natural resources.

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“A telecom company could say, ‘Nice mountain, we’ll make a generous donations for the right of way,'” Ruch said.

The new rules for park managers include a shift away from protecting environmental resources toward fundraising.

“Does that become a major part of the job?” said John Garder, budget and appropriations director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Can the park service say, ‘This person’s doing an awesome job protecting bison, but they’re not raising enough money?’”

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A historian explains why 2019 marks the beginning of the next 74-year cycle of American history

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A century ago, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. argued that history occurs in cycles. His son, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., furthered this theory in his own scholarship. As I reflect on Schlesinger’s work and the history of the United States, it seems clear to me that American history has three 74-year-long cycles. America has had four major crisis turning points, each 74 years apart, from the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to today.

The first such crisis occurred when the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to face the reality that the government created by the Articles of Confederation was failing. There was a dire need for a new Constitution and a guarantee of a Bill of Rights to save the American Republic. The founding fathers, under the leadership of George Washington, were equal to the task and the American experiment successfully survived the crisis.

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Self-preservation fuels the Democratic base’s lurch to the left — before the rich take it all

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In 2016 all the corporate news media outlets, NPR included, predicted that Trump would lose. They just did not recognize the discontent in America’s rust belt because the economic dislocation that had, and continues to define life there, was just not part of their personal frame of reference.

They thought the country was several years into a recovery and the national aggregate unemployment data they had commissioned confirmed it. But nobody lives or votes in the aggregate. And it wasn’t until Trump flipped the 200 counties that Obama had carried twice, that the corporate news media started paying some attention.

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Experts discuss the distorted impeachment debate at a propaganda forum — and how real debate can untangle it

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“Would you be upset if the Democratic nominee called on China to help in the next presidential election?” That’s the concrete question we should ask ourselves about Robert Mueller's report and the issue of impeachment, according to University of California, Santa Cruz, social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis, speaking at a recent Zócalo Public Square event, “Is Propaganda Keeping Americans From Thinking for Themselves?

This was a week before President Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, apparently welcoming foreign interference in the 2020 election. Impeachment wasn’t the ostensible subject of the event — which also featured Texas A&M historian of rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca and UCLA marketing scholar and psychologist Hal Hershfield — but it was never far from mind.

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