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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Migrant 0224wrp opt(Photo: Dorothea Lange)John Steinbeck's novel "Grapes of Wrath." Woody Guthrie's ballad "Deportee." Edward R. Murrow's documentary "Harvest of Shame." Every decade or so, the public is shocked by yet another discovery that migrant farmworkers are being horribly abused by the wealthy masters of the corporate food system. And here we go again.

Last November, the New York Times reported that the workers who grow and harvest the cornucopia of fruit and veggies in the rich fields of California's Salinas Valley live in a constant crisis of poverty, malnutrition and homelessness. Toiling in "America's salad bowl," they literally cannot afford to eat the fresh, nutritious edibles they produce.

The Valley is a gold mine of groceries, generating billions of dollars in sales that have enriched landowners and corporate executives and turned Salinas Valley into farm country with Silicon Valley prices. Unable to afford good food, the workers eat poorly — 85 percent are overweight or obese, and nearly six out of 10 have been diagnosed with diabetes (while many more, uninsured and unable to afford testing, go undiagnosed). Especially appalling, about a third of elementary schoolchildren in the Salinas City district are homeless. They sleep with their families in tents, abandoned buildings, tool sheds, chicken coops, or on the ground, next to the rows of crops they tend.

Allowing such abject poverty in our fields of abundance is more than shameful — it's an oozing sore on our national soul, made even more immoral by the fact that our society throws 40 percent of our food into the garbage. But outrageous treatment of farmworkers is not limited to Salinas — you can likely find it down some rural road near you. When we find it, let's act on it. Yes, donate money and time to food banks, but it's even more important for us to join with farmworkers in local, state, and national political actions to STOP this gross, un-American inequity.

Thursday, 23 February 2017 08:14

Costa Rica Has the Right Idea: No Military​

2017.23.2 BF Koehler(Photo: Pixabay)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash can only survive through reader support. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and help publish reports and analysis with real integrity and independence!

"This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Dwight Eisenhower gave the world some extraordinary rhetoric -- indeed, his words have the sting of ironic shrapnel, considering how little they have influenced the direction of the country and the world in the last six decades.

"These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953," he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors nearly 64 years ago. "This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: Is there no other way the world may live?"

2017.23.2 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Sharon Graphics)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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It is reprehensible to decide that the alt-right white supremacist provocateur Milo Yiannopolos is a suitable guest for your program, but Bill Maher went one step ignobly further by bringing him on and then staging a bromance in prime time. Coming on during the post-monologue, pre-panel part of Maher's HBO "Real Time" show, the host treated Yiannopolos as a fellow martyr to the cause of free speech. Maher's current claim, that Yiannopolos' appearance on Maher's program hastened his downfall, rings hollow to this longtime viewer. What I took away from Maher's conversation with Yiannopolos was Maher sympathizing with Yiannopolos over the rowdy reception he received on the UC Berkeley campus, which caused his appearance to be cancelled.

Instead of honing in on any of Yiannopolos' offensive views about LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, liberals, immigrants, Black people and other minorities, Maher spent a good part of the conversation trashing liberals for not allowing Yiannopolos (birth name: Milo Hanrahan) to speak at a public forum.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Keeping watch on the Trump-Pence administration is a dirty job, but it’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Support Truthout and BuzzFlash in this pursuit: Make a tax-deductible donation!

Nye 0222wrp(Photo: Ed Schipul)Last year, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson feuded with rapper B.o.B. over his belief that the world is flat. About a year later, Tyson's friend and science educator Bill Nye is contesting professional basketball player Kyrie Irving's own "Flat Earth" claims.

It all started when the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard appeared on a recent "Road Trippin' with RJ and Channing" podcast hosted by teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and discussed conspiracy theories.

"This is not even a conspiracy. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat," Irving insisted, as USA Today detailed about the Feb. 17 show.

"For what I've known for as many years and what I've come to believe, what I've been taught, is that the Earth is round," he continued. "But if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move, and the fact that—can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what's going on with these planets?"

He seemed to double down on these claims in a later interview with Sports Illustrated. Even when the All Star athlete was asked if he's seen photos of our round Blue Marble, Irving responded, "I've seen a lot of things that my education system said was real that turned out to be completely fake."

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Keeping watch on the Trump-Pence administration is a dirty job, but it’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Support Truthout and BuzzFlash in this pursuit: Make a tax-deductible donation!

ICE 0222wrp(Photo: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement)Resistance to unjust government action is the duty of all people who care about human rights. 

As Dr. King reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

It is now clear that Latinos and Muslims are Trump’s first target for government actions.  The orders just released put ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and US Customs and Border Protection on steroids.  These new policies also will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ , as well as Black and Muslim communities.

Here are ten recent examples of how people are directly resisting.

2017.21.2 Bf berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Keeping watch on the Trump-Pence administration is a dirty job, but it’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Support Truthout and BuzzFlash in this pursuit: Make a tax-deductible donation!

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the U.S. are increasingly hopeful that they’ve got a comrade in the White House. On February 19, Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommer reported that "At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the [Trump] press conference 'was one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.'"

And, in a classic blame the victim stance that appears to come out of an Alex Jones playbook, Trump seemed to accuse his opponents of initiating anti-Semitic incidents in order to defame and disparage him.

During the one-hour and fifteen-minute presidential advertorial, Trump lashed out at Jake Turx, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, for asking what was basically a "softball" question about how Trump intended to deal with rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the U.S. Turx's question came after he "first flattered the U.S. president by using the Yiddish name for grandfather," according to Sommer.

2017.21.2 BF Buchheit(Photo: Michael Fleshman)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Yes, inequality is getting worse every year. In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just 8 men had the same wealth as the world's bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to 6. 

How to account for the dramatic increase in the most flagrant and perverse of extreme inequalities? Two well-documented reasons: (1) The poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and (2) The VERY richest individuals -- especially the top thousand or so -- continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes. 

Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they're missing the big picture. Whether it's 6 individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn't really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Colorado 0217wrp opt(Photo: Hogs555)Colorado's attorney general is suing Boulder County over its fracking ban that has been in place for the last five years.

Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and the state of Colorado are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The complaint to initiate the lawsuit was received by county officials on Feb. 14, KUNC reported.

The AG's office had been threatening Boulder County with a lawsuit for several weeks over the county's moratorium on oil and gas development in unincorporated areas. The county first adopted the temporary ban back in Feb. 2, 2012 and has extended it several times.

In a Jan. 26 letter to county commissioners, Coffman gave a Feb. 10 deadline to rescind the moratorium as it violates state law. Last May, Colorado's Supreme Court rulings on two cases prohibited local governments from preventing oil and gas development through the use of local bans. In light of the court's decisions, Coffman called Boulder County's continued ban "clearly unlawful."

Thursday, 16 February 2017 09:06

Resisting Trump: The Great American Awakening

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sunrise 0216wrp(Photo: Mmacbeth)Old wounds break open. Deep, encrusted wrongs are suddenly visible. The streets flow with anger and solidarity. The past and the future meet.

The news is All Trump, All the Time, but what’s really happening is only minimally about Donald Trump, even though his outrageous actions and bizarre alliances are the trigger.

“As the nightmare reality of Donald Trump sinks in, we need to put our resistance in a larger perspective,” Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman wrote recently, describing Trump as “our imperial vulture come home to roost.”

The context in which most Trumpnews is delivered is miniscule: more or less beginning and ending with the man himself — his campaign, his businesses, his appointees, his ego, his endless scandals (“what did he know and when did he know it?”) — which maintains the news at the level of entertainment, and surrounds it with the fantasy context of a United States that used to be an open, fair and peace-loving democracy, respectful of all humanity. In other words, Trump is the problem, and if he goes away, we can get back to what we used to be.

In point of fact, however, the United States has always been an empire, a national entity certain of its enemies — both internal and external — and focused on conquest and exploitation. Yes, it’s been more than that as well. But the time has come to face the totality of who we are and reach for real change.

I believe this is what we are seeing in the streets right now. Americans — indeed, people across the planet — are ceasing to be spectators in the creation of the future. The protests we’re witnessing aren’t so much anti-Trump as pro-humanity and pro-Planet Earth.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Barn1 0216wrp(Photo: Swroche)During the farm crisis of the 1980s, an Iowa farmer asked if I knew the difference between a family farmer and a pigeon. When I said no, he delighted in explaining: "A pigeon can still make a deposit on a new John Deere."

That's funny — except, it really wasn't. Worse, the bitter reality of the tractor joke is still true: The farm crisis has not gone away, though hundreds of thousands of farm families have. The economic devastation in farm country continues unabated as agribusiness profiteers, Wall Street speculators, urban sprawlers and corrupted political elites squeeze the life out of farmers and rural America.

Remember last year's presidential debates? Trump and Clinton talked about the needs of hard-hit working-class families, veterans and coal miners among others. But, hellloooo, where were farmers? Indeed, where was the multitude of producers who toil on the lands and waters of this country to bring food to our tables? All went unmentioned, even though economic and emotional depression is spreading through their communities, thanks to bankruptcy-level prices paid by corporate middlemen. In the past three years, farm income has declined steadily, plummeting 12 percent in just the last year. But these crucial-but-endangered food producers were totally disappeared by the political cognoscenti.

Actually, the farmer has long been forgotten in America's presidential discussion. In a New York Times op-ed, Professor A. Hope Jahren reported on the discovery she made when reading through transcripts of past debates: "Farm policy hasn't come up even once in a presidential debate for the past 16 years."

That's Bush-Kerry, Obama-McCain, Obama-Romney, and Trump-Clinton! Not one of them mentioned the people who produce our food. Jahren notes that the monetary value of farm production alone is nearly eight times greater than coal mining, a declining industry whose voters Clinton and Trump avidly courted.

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