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BlackPower 0821wrp opt(Photo: Angelo Cozzi)A few years ago, in an interview with The New York Times' William Rhoden, National Football League Hall of Famer and longtime political activist Jim Brown said: "I think within the next three or four years, there'll be a major coming together of some Black athletes and entertainers to really have a platform that can bring about a whole different awareness." Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage at the beginning of the recent ESPY Awards ceremony, and made an impassioned call for an end to the violence, perhaps signaling that Black athletes were coming together to speak about racial inequities and social justice, as Brown predicted.

While it unclear what specific issues – other than violence -- the four National Basketball Association stars were talking about, their remarks, coming in the wake of the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the police killing of Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and the shooting deaths of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, their remarks were somber, eloquent, and moving.

"Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for," said Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers' star point guard. "So we choose to follow in their footsteps."

Dwayne Wade, recently traded from the Miami Heat to his hometown Chicago Bulls said: "The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough."


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

2016july17 powerofattorney2

Photo courtesy of Ecowatch

Malta has begun the process of banning glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.

Malta—the only country to actively vote against the extension of the chemical's use—has already seen 25 localities ban the substance. It would be the first EU country to ban glyphosate nationwide. Though, France is currently considering their own ban.

"Malta's position remains against the use of glyphosate and Malta voted against it without reservations," an environmental ministry spokeswoman told the Times of Malta.

Glyphosate was named a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. Since WHO's ruling, the EU has been divided on the subjects of glyphosate's use and safety. Reports from several agencies have added more confusion in respect to the impacts of glyphosate.

A November 2015 report compiled by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans." Another study conducted by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the WHO's Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) in May 2016 backed EFSA's finding.

The various studies used different criteria for the risk assessment connected to glyphosate. A general consensus on the weed-killing chemical has not been achieved.


Cross 0718wrp opt(Photo: Brest)Despite months of hand wringing, public and private condemnations, expressing support for, and endorsing, other candidates, and a close inspection of his miniscule theological underpinnings, many conservative Christian evangelicals are finding their way back to Donald Trump, as nearly four-fifths of evangelicals are now saying they will vote for Trump. According to the Pew Research Center’s recent survey, “Evangelical voters are rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Examining the results of the Pew survey, The Christian Examiner’s Gregory Tomlin wrote: “Evangelicals aren’t just warming to Trump; they’re on fire for the candidate.” Not everyone has the same view of the survey. In her report, Christianity Today’s Sarah Eekhoff Zyistra maintained that evangelicals will vote for Trump, “But they aren’t happy about it.”

The announcement of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate – which came after the Pew survey was released -- will make it even easier for multitudes of evangelicals to back the ticket. “I think he’s a very safe pick for Mr. Trump and I think he’s someone who will be embraced enthusiastically by conservatives and evangelical Christians,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., an early Trump supporter.

In a somewhat surprising development, evangelical leaders and voters appear to be slightly more supportive of Trump at this point in the campaign then they were four years ago with Mitt Romney. “Now, fully,78% of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today, including about a third who ‘strongly’ back his campaign.”

Pew pointed out that “White evangelical Protestants make up one-fifth of all registered voters in the U.S. and roughly one-third of all voters who say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.”


Gold 0718wrp opt(Photo: Agnico-Eagle Mines)Their unspoken goal is a two-class nation, with a heavily armed security force to quell resistance from the more outspoken members of the lower class. It may be somewhat of an unwitting goal, since narcissistic wealth-takers, as they build their fortunes, tend to lose their ability to empathize with others.

Barack Obama said, "We are not as divided as we seem." But those are just feel-good words. A middle class still exists, but in weakened form, as many families from the once-dominant mainstream of society continue to move up or down, mostly down. The conspirators in the breakdown of the middle class have complementary roles that allow them to divide the country as they perpetuate the myth of prosperity for all.

Congress: The Kingpins

Gun control is the most flagrant example of Congressional disdain for the middle class. Over 90% of Americans want background checks, but Congress has failed to act. The House of Representatives even rejected an amendment that would have allowed research into causes of gun violence.

The list goes on and on:

Over 90% favor laws on clean air and water, but Congress has proposed to weaken them. Almost 80% want to increase Social Security benefits. 83% want Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Nearly 90% support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. About two-thirds of polled Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes. 90% support the protection of public lands.

Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."


Racehorse 0715wrp opt(Photo: Jeff Kubina)An old cowboy aphorism offers this advice: "Speak the truth. But ride a fast horse."

I relived this truism last weekend in Orlando, Florida, where I spent two hot, muggy days wrangling over policy issues as one of the members of the Democratic Party's national platform committee. Depending on the moment and the issue, the experience was both invigorating and infuriating, with refreshing outbreaks of broad and bold democratic vision, interspersed with too many rigid, Tammany Hall tactics used to dictate corporate-friendly policies. Bernie Sanders' 40-percent minority of platform members (of which I was one) managed to "Bern" the platform with more than two dozen big and very important amendments. As a result, instead of the same old business-as-usual blah-blah of party platforms, Democrats and their nominee, Hillary Clinton, are now on public record in support of the most progressive policy agenda in decades.

More about those specific policies in a moment, but first, let's get on that horse.

The worst development at the Orlando meeting was the Clinton campaign's acquiescence to the wet dream of global corporate powers: The Trans-Pacific Partnership. The platform's draft language on this horrendous TPP trade scam actually seemed to endorse it! So Sanders' forces went all out to replace such a pusillanimous surrender with an amendment to flat-out kill TPP.

I sponsored the Sanders alternative, dubbing it "a form of political Viagra to stiffen the spine of our party." Our amendment prompted panicky parliamentary manipulations by Clintonites to doctor their language so it would be a bit less wimpy — and also to block my amendment from even being considered. But Sanders' savvy policy staff outflanked them, so we forced them to debate and vote on our proposal — in view of C-SPAN's national TV audience.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

An enormous -- and unprecedented -- amount of plastic waste and other marine debris has been washing up on Hong Kong's southern beaches in recent weeks.

Local authorities have described the filth as a "glacier of trash," and that the rubbish from one island could even be seen from space, the Epoch Times wrote. From July 1 to 9 alone, government departments collected 78,000 kilograms (about 172,000 pounds) of litter from affected areas, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Sunday, chief executive Leung Chun-ying and his team of 60 officials and workers collected about 1,350 kilograms (about 3,000 pounds) of garbage in about half an hour during a beach clean-up in South Lantau.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

This week -- as thousands of Americans urge awareness to the destruction caused by oil bomb trains -- an oil field in San Juan County, New Mexico erupted in flames Monday night, highlighting the continued and increasing dangers of the fossil fuel industry.

The fire broke out around 10:15 p.m. Monday at a fracking site owned and operated by WPX Energy, setting off several explosions and temporarily closing the nearby Highway 550. Fifty-five local residents were forced out of their homes.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 15:02

Trump vs. the World on the Climate Crisis


Glacier 0713wrp opt(Photo: Luca Galuzzi)A groundbreaking study was released today by the Sierra Club Political Committee showing Donald Trump would be the only world leader to deny the science and dangers of climate change if elected president. The data in the report shows that Trump could possibly be the only world leader not calling for urgent climate action.

"Donald Trump's failure to acknowledge basic climate science wouldn't just leave him isolated on the world stage as president, it would undermine our relationships with key allies and threaten our ability to work effectively internationally," Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director John Coequyt said.

"Trump's climate science denial would make him a global laughingstock if it wasn't so dangerous. Every single leader on Earth—from Germany to India to Somalia to Japan—recognizes that the climate crisis is happening and demands the world's attention, but Trump is sticking his head in the sand while the seas are rising."

The report shows a global consensus on climate change among world leaders and provides comprehensive research that identifies attributable, verifiable statements, quotes and actions from current world leaders, including Heads of State and Heads of Government. They all acknowledge climate science and the need for climate action. Many of the nations mentioned in the report have signed the Paris climate accord and submitted their climate plans to the United Nations.


Bullets 0713wrp opt(Photo: Thewellman)“Put those damn weapons down. I'm not going to tell you again, goddamn it. Get those goddamn weapons down.” That was the first command of one of Louisiana’s most revered figures, General Russell Honore, when he arrived in New Orleans in 2005 to direct the military recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The General’s directions have not been followed in Baton Rouge.

Since the police killing of Alton Sterling, thousands of people in Baton Rouge have been non-violently protesting day and night all over the city. There has been no arson in Baton Rouge, no looting, no burning cars, no windows broken, and no people beaten. Police report that a rock or other material was thrown at them but there is no video of such action nor have there been any arrests for such actions.

Despite these non-violent protests, around 200 people have been arrested and the police have shown a militarized and aggressive response.

When Ferguson police showed a militarized response to protestors, General Honore was again plainspoken. "Any time we have policemen pointing weapons at American citizens, they need to go through retraining." Baton Rouge police, who have a documented history of brutality, clearly need retraining.

After Ferguson, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing report on the police response to protests in Ferguson and they came up with numerous recommendations for law enforcement.   While the police have smartly pulled back from protests at the scene of the Sterling killing, many of the DOJ recommendations are being ignored in other protests around Baton Rouge.


2016july13 rottingfoodInstead of letting so much food rot in the US, why don't we feed people who need it? (Photo: Steven Depolo)

The World Hunger Education Service offers a number of revealing details about food insecurity in the United States:

In 2014, 14.0 percent of households (17.5 million households, approximately one in seven), were food insecure....

In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security....

Children were food insecure at times during the year in 9.4 percent of households with children. These 3.7 million households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children....

Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households....

To provide some context, according to Poverty USA, the poverty rate in 2014 was worse than the poverty rate prior to the 2008 economic collapse.

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