Guest Commentary (5119)
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Well, new research suggests that fish are not just accidentally gobbling up our plastic trash—they could be actively seeking it out because they like how the debris smells and are confusing it for their natural prey.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, presents "the first behavioral evidence that plastic debris may be chemically attractive to marine consumers."
"These chemical cues may lure consumers, such as anchovy, into regions of high plastic density and activate foraging behaviors, thus making it difficult to ignore or reject plastic items as potential prey," the paper states.
As New Scientist explains from the study, when plastic enters the ocean, the debris gets quickly covered by algae and releases an odor similar to krill, the natural prey for certain fish such as anchovies. The smell of the plastics then sets off the anchovies' foraging and feeding behavior.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
And so we return to the Korean War, when North Korea was carpet-bombed to the edge of existence. The American media doesn't have a memory that stretches quite so far back, at least not under present circumstances. One commentator at MSNBC recently explained, for instance, that the tiny pariah nation "has been preparing for war for 63 years!"
That would be since, uh, 1954, the year after the war ended. But the war wasn't mentioned. It never is. Doing so would disrupt the consensus attitude that Kim Jong-Un is a nuclear-armed crazy and that North Korea's hatred of the United States is just . . . hatred, dark and bitter, the kind of rancor you'd expect from a communist dictatorship and certified member of the Axis of Evil.
And now Donald Trump is taunting the crazy guy, disrupting the U.S.-maintained normalcy of global relations and putting this country at risk. And that's almost always the focus: not the use of nuclear weapons per se, but the possibility that a North Korean nuke could reach the United States, as though American lives and "national security" mattered more than, or were separate from, the safety of the whole planet.
Indeed, the concept of national security justifies pretty much every action, however destructive and horrifically consequential in the long term. The concept justifies armed small-mindedness, which equals militarism. Apparently protecting national security also means forgetting the Korean War, or never facing the reality of what we did to North Korea from 1950 to 1953.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What could be more Trump-esque then for a controversial, homophobic, climate change denying, anti-Catholic pastor, who once claimed that mothers do not belong in state office, to lead a White House Bible Study Group. Meet Pastor Ralph Drollinger. You might never have heard of him, but it's time to pay attention to Drollinger, who is leading, what he says, is the first White House Bible study among executive cabinet members in at least 100 years.
"It's the best Bible study that I've ever taught in my life," Drollinger told CBN News' Jennifer Wishon in an exclusive interview. "They are so teachable; they're so noble; they're so learned." Amongst regular attendees are Health Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Vice-President Mike Pence is also a regular participant and Drollinger pointed out that "Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh. [He] has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that's not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation."
The Donald himself has not yet attended any of the sessions, but he apparently receives a copy of Drollinger's weekly teaching.
DAVID SWANSON AND PAT ELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Pentagon's impact on the river on whose bank it sits is not simply the diffuse impact of global warming and rising oceans contributed to by the U.S. military's massive oil consumption. The U.S. military also directly poisons the Potomac River in more ways than almost anyone would imagine.
Let's take a cruise down the Potomac from its source in the mountains of West Virginia to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay. The journey down this mighty waterway details six EPA Superfund sites created by the Pentagon's reckless disregard for the fragile ecosystem of the Potomac River watershed.
The U.S. Navy's Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, 130 miles north of Washington, is a critical source of contamination in the Potomac River. The on-site disposal of explosive metals and solvent wastes contaminates soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. The groundwater and soil along the river are laced with explosives, dioxins, volatile organic compounds, acids, laboratory and industrial wastes, bottom sludge from solvent recovery, metal plating pretreatment sludge, paints, and thinners. The site also has a beryllium landfill. An active burning area is still used for waste disposal, sprinkling chemical dust over the river. It's not good.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Question One. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent or 46 million people are living in poverty in the US. How many of those people living in poverty are children?
A. 4 million
B. 8 million
C. 12 million
D. 14 million
Question Two. What percentage of children live in a poor family in the US?
A. 5 percent
B. 10 percent
C. 15 percent
D. 20 percent
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
James O'Keefe, the discredited purveyor of criminal activities and pseudo journalism, who has been involved in undercover stings of ACORN, Democratic politicians, and other progressive/leftist enclaves, may be at it again. In a recent email, Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), pointed out that "a group of right-wing imposters … assumed fake identities to attempt a 'sting' operation on our staff." While the undercover operation has O'Keefe's Modus Operandi written all over it, and two of the stingers have longtime ties to O'Keefe, it is unclear as of this writing whether the right-wing provocateur is involved.
The elaborate sting against LCV appears to indicate that merely denying climate change is not enough for right-wing groups; targeting environmental groups hoping to bait staffers into some inappropriate and scandal-worthy revelations is the latest tactic.
In a Press Release dated August 9, and titled "LCV TARGETED BY RIGHT WING OPERATIVES USING FAKE IDENTITIES" (their caps) the organization explained that it "recently discovered" it had been targeted by "extreme right-wing groups [that] used fake identities in order to meet with LCV staff and supporters–presumably in an effort to bait them into statements that could be doctored or taken out of context to undermine our work."
The League of Conservation Voters "has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, 'could be associated with' O'Keefe and have past ties to him, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer recently reported.
SHANE QUINN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
September 11 atrocities, and so on. Yet there are other undesirable anniversaries that have been largely disappeared.Some anniversaries are widely observed in the West: Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Holocaust Memorial Day, the
1. US-backed forces overthrow Goulart in Brazil (1964)
Considering its vast size and abundant natural resources, Brazil should long have been one of Latin America's richest countries. Instead, it has been something of a horror story, as Brazilians have been repressed and brutalized across decades by military dictatorships. Brazil's plight strikes a common theme across a region of the world in which the great superpower, the United States, has sought to continually control. Brazil had especially come under the unblinking eye of the empire during the 1960s. US president Lyndon B. Johnson was hell-bent in ensuring such a massive country did not become "the China of the 1960s". Johnson was referring indiscreetly to Mao Zedong, a Communist revolutionary whose influence in China continued to rise.
US concern about Brazilian sympathies increased in the early part of that decade. In September 1961, left-wing nationalist Joao Goulart became the nation's democratically elected president, spreading panic in the liberal Kennedy administration. Goulart began implementing structural reforms in the South American country, that would help integrate the general population into society. The United States was loathe to sit helplessly by as this movement came within "our hemisphere", as President John F. Kennedy described it.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The self-described "Geniuses of Wall Street" are being stupid. Again.
In 2007, their stupid schemes and frauds crashed our economy, destroying middle-class jobs, wealth and opportunities. Far from getting punishment, however, these financial scofflaws were bailed out by their Washington enablers — so the moral lesson they learned was clear: Stupid pays!
Sure enough, only a decade later, here they come again! Rather than investing America's capital in real businesses to generate grassroots jobs and shared prosperity, Wall Street is siphoning billions of investment dollars into speculative nonsense — such as high-profit securities "secured" only by rickety bundles of subprime auto loans.
Car dealers, eager to goose up sales, have been hawking new vehicles to lower-income people, offering quick credit approval. Banks — eager to hook more people on monthly car payments — have been approving these subprime car loans without verifying the buyer's ability to pay. Then, a Wall Street bank's investment house buys up thousands of these iffy individual loans, bundles them into multimillion-dollar "debt securities," and sells them to wealthy global speculators. Last year alone, banks sold $26 billion-worth of these explosive bundles of car loans.
This is just another paper-shuffling con game, a repeat of Wall Street's subprime mortgage scam a decade ago. It generates fast, easy money at the start for superrich speculators and greedy banksters — but as more and more low-income buyers are unable to make their car payments, defaults build up and the whole financial bubble pops.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so.
The necessity for fundamental change in humanity's global organization is not only profound, but urgent.
Trump's latest outburst about North Korea's nukes -- threatening that country "with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before" -- creates a comic book Armageddon scenario in the media, except, of course, his power to launch a nuclear war on impulse is real.
What this makes clear to me is that no one should have the authority -- the power -- to declare any war whatsoever. The fact that this is still possible, so many decades into human awareness of war's utter insanity, reveals the paradox that civilization remains economically tied to its own destruction.
PATRICIA JACKSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Voter suppression is cloaked in many forms. Rev. William Barber, of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, understands voter suppression, "Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America's elections." In 2013, the conservative-led Supreme Court eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and opened the gates for states to enact their own voter suppression laws. In a 5-to-4 vote, the Court gave nine states, mostly in the South, the power to change their election laws without prior advance federal approval. The approval clause in the act countered "Jim Crow" state and local laws. Since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, a total of 34 states have laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. It takes us back to the "Jim Crow" days.
Additional voter suppression came with closures of early voting, the elimination of voting places, breakdowns in voting machines, and long waiting lines. On election day, 2016, states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina had 868 fewer polling places. Thirty-two new voter identification laws were in force by 2016, the first presidential election after the major change in our Voting Rights Act. Prior to the 2016 election, Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, expressed concern. "We are concerned that this year (2016) is going to be the worst year ever when it comes to voter suppression at the polls for Arab-Americans, Muslim Americans and those perceived to be either Arab or Muslim."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Emboldened by the presidency of Donald Trump, and railing against the removal of memorials to the Confederacy, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Alt-Rightniks, bloggers, podcasters, shock jocks, militia types, and KKK members are going to gather in Charlottesville, Virginia's Emancipation Park (formerly called Lee Park) for a "Unite the Right" rally, on Saturday, August 12. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the rally possibly "the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States." David Straughn of Black Lives Matter told a local TV station that "The Unite the Right rally … is just the tip of the iceberg of the white supremacy" movement.
According to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, "Earlier this year, … the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell the statue of Robert E. Lee." White nationalist groups, including the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, challenged that decision in court, resulting in a circuit court judge issuing a six-month injunction temporarily stopping the removal.
The event is not the first of its kind. According to itsgoingdown.org, "On Saturday, May 13th, a coalition of neo-Nazi groups organized a daytime march in Charlottesville, VA, which essentially was a protest of a local cultural festival."
There are many organizations involved in organizing the event and amongst the most notable speakers listed on a promotional flyer are: Richard Spencer, Matt Heimbach, and Mike Enoch [Peinovich].
KEN LEVY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
$1.3 million, which is collectively more than 20 percent of all income, 40 times what the bottom 90 percent earn, and 81 times what the bottom 50 percent earn. Even worse, the top 0.1 percent earn 198 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.Since 1980, the rich have gotten much richer. The top 1 percent earn an average annual income of
For decades, as the left increasingly protested this obscene inequality, the right shut them down by accusing them of stoking "class warfare" and promoting communistic "redistribution of wealth." Equality of opportunity, they always said, does not guarantee equality of results. In a capitalist system, people more or less get what they deserve. If they choose to work hard, they'll make more; if they choose to be lazy, they'll make less. So stop begrudging the top 1 percent their millions and billions. They just worked -- and still work -- a lot harder than the bottom 99 percent.
There are at least two flaws in this ideology. First is the right's notion that wealth is a reliable result and indicator of merit. While many people are born into wealth, many more people are born into poverty. Likewise, while many lazy, less talented people make high incomes, many more hardworking, highly talented people have to work several low-wage jobs just to get by. What supposed "self-made men" fail to realize is just how significant a role luck played in their -- and everybody else's -- lives.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Neither daily lies, hyperbolic rhetoric, wild tweeting, the Russian scandal, politicizing the Boy Scouts, nor endless White House chaos, has dissuaded Donald Trump’s ultra-loyal conservative Christian evangelical from wholeheartedly embracing the president. As Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin recently pointed out, Christian conservatives "have not let religion or values get in the way of their support."
These days, the president’s Christian base are one heck of a happy bunch: Tony Perkins, head of the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, has been a guest at the White House so many times, he might just as well move in; Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, claims he has found the fighter he has been yearning for; and, for Richard Land, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, it’s all about "unprecedented access" and having an "impact on policy."
Last month, about two dozen evangelical leaders, including Perkins, Land, Reed, mega-church preacher John Hagee, "prosperity gospel" preacher and longtime Trump ally Paula White, Gary Bauer, Robert Jeffress, Rodney Howard-Browne, Land, and Tony Suarez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, prayed with Trump during a day-long "listening session" with the Office of Public Liaison. Johnnie Moore, a former senior vice-president at Liberty University, told CBN News that "It shows a substantive relationship between the evangelical community and this administration."
Over the past several weeks, Trump has been feeding his conservative base what they want: an aggressive re-launching of the culture wars. "We’re under siege. You understand that," Trump told the audience at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering in Washington. "But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever."
REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It always starts with the vulnerability of risking arrest. The activism is the purest citizenship. We enter Trump Tower. We walk through the submachine guns and dogs, the body armor and the golden name of the white supremacist president that hovers in space above the door.
We are only doing what tourists do. Ta-Nehisi Coates would say that we are walking into The Dream. Trump Tower’s public area, where we are welcome as long as we show signs of being willing consumers of The Dream, is a 5 story high vertical mall, with gold-plated escalators zig-zagging upwards. The hanging garden of Trump. Fake plants on gold pillars! We walk across the threshold of The Dream carrying the intention to subvert it and replace it with our Earthalujah!
Let’s call The Dream what it is – The Nightmare. We have here in this building in concentrated form exactly what most Americans have everyday – the complex of responses to state-sanctioned violence on behalf of race and property and profit. We feel the manufacture of fear, the itching-the-imagined-wound of Trump nation. As we walk by the silent staring Secret Service we feel the fantastic imagination made by American fear – the conspiracy theories, the deadly tribalism of police, the scandal of alternative love, the remake of everyone everywhere into a monstrous "Other."
Our destination is on the 5th floor. There is a legal never-never-land called a "Privately Owned Public Space" or POPS, and the upshot is that in 1979 Trump agreed in exchange for height variances to keep a garden open to the public. And by the time we get to the glass door of the garden we are ready to shout. We have such a need to re-establish our own body. It is real and direct. We’ve been coming back here a lot since the election, releasing our personal arts in this garden, our songs, outlandish costumes, dancing, lecturing with the lurid statistics of species extinction and climate chaos.