Guest Commentary (5077)
JOHN LaFORGE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A June 27 Pew Research Center poll says world opinion of the United States has plummeted since Donald Trump took office. Surveying people in 37 countries, 49 percent held a positive view of the United States, down from 65 percent at the end of 2016. Maybe we could cancel the fireworks this 4th of July considering the insensitive symbolism of vicariously enjoying war.
With the Pentagon's rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air smashing seven majority Muslim countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — negativity toward the United States is easy to understand. US drone attacks originating in Nevada, 7,200 miles from Iraq, and jet fighter-bomber strikes launched from supercarriers in the Persian Gulf are killing hundreds of frightened bystanders month after month. At least 25 civilians were killed in Mosul, Iraq on Sat., June 24 when US bombs destroyed four houses.
Every child killed or maimed by US-made weapons inevitably creates enemies among survivors. President Obama (pronounced "Oh-Bomb-Ah") made the point himself May 23, 2013 in a speech to National Defense University. He said drone attacks "raise profound questions: about who is targeted, and why; about civilian casualties, and the risk of creating new enemies…" And Obama warned that, "US military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies."
Whether bombing civilians only "risks" creating enemies or can be positively guaranteed always to do so, is a matter of opinion. But one need only consider the globalized, mechanized, mass US military reaction to 9/11 — and the country's demonization of whole groups and religions — to know that demands for revenge, retribution, and retaliation always follow the deaths of innocents.
JENNIFER KRILL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
a delay on two critical federal oil and gas methane pollution rules. Less than two years after the Obama administration passed new rules limiting air pollution from fracking and other oil and gas operations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are revising their rules and backtracking on promises to safeguard our health and climate.The Trump administration has announced the latest round in its attacks on clean, breathable air and a stable global climate:
The EPA and BLM rules tackle essentially the same problem under their two jurisdictions: the intentional and unintentional release of methane from oil and gas facilities. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas 86 times worse for climate than carbon dioxide. When oil and gas facilities leak, vent or flare methane (the principal component of natural gas), they are wasting taxpayer dollars and threatening our climate and our health. Oil and gas industry methane emissions reductions were a cornerstone of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, and both the EPA and BLM rules had been key in meeting our Paris climate commitments. Dismantling these safeguards is a pivotal step in the President Trump's anti-climate agenda.
Without these safeguards, oil and gas facilities will continue to operate without federal supervision, leaving nearby residents in harm's way. Right now, methane pollution from oil and gas is completely unregulated at the federal level. While methane alone does not directly impact human health, dangerous "hitchhikers" are often released with methane, including carcinogens like benzene. Oil and gas pollution is connected to higher levels of cancer, cases of asthma and respiratory problems. As a result, people living near oil and gas production are at high risk. This isn't a small subset of the population -- 12.4 million Americans live within 1/2 mile of a potentially polluting site.
MEL GURTOV FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
During the Cold War, the US military and the CIA were involved in a multitude of "indirect" interventions in developing countries. A few -- most dramatically and tragically, Vietnam -- evolved from a supporting US role to large-scale combat missions. The Pentagon typically defined these missions as "low-intensity conflicts," though they hardly seemed as such to the innocent people caught up in them. Now, just below the radar, the US military is engaged in an ever-increasing number of "advise-and-assist" missions, supplemented by major arms deals and CIA-run drone strikes, that commit the US to long-term intervention in Africa and the Middle East. And Donald Trump, unlike Barack Obama, is happy to cede operational control -- to "let the war fighters fight the war," as Stephen Bannon told CNN.
The Growing US Footprint in Africa
The US Africa Command oversees a vast array of "outposts" -- categorized in Pentagon-speak as "consisting of two forward operating sites [including the one official base in Djibouti], 13 cooperative security locations, and 31 contingency locations." Secret documents in 2015 listed thirty-six outposts "scattered across 24 African countries. These include low-profile locations -- from Kenya to South Sudan to a shadowy Libyan airfield -- that have never previously been mentioned in published reports. Today, according to an AFRICOM spokesperson, the number of these sites has actually swelled to 46, including '15 enduring locations.' The newly disclosed numbers . . . shed new light on a constellation of bases integral to expanding U.S. military operations on the African continent and in the Middle East," Nick Turse writes.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The US serves up its news in a caldron from hell, or so it sometimes seems. The fragments are all simmering in the same juice: bombs and drones and travel bans, slashed health care, police shootings, the Confederate flag.
Double, double, toil and trouble . . .
Suddenly I'm thinking about the statues of Confederate generals taken down in New Orleans, the Confederate flag yanked from the state capital in Charleston, S.C. . . . and the secret flag the authorities can't touch. Ray Tensing was wearing such a flag -- a Confederate flag T-shirt -- on July 19, 2015, while he was on duty as a University of Cincinnati police officer. That afternoon, he pulled over Samuel DuBose because of a missing front license plate. Less than two minutes into the stop, DuBose -- a dad, a musician, an unarmed black man -- had been shot and killed.
MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yellowstone region on Thursday from the Endangered Species List. The decision comes despite serious concerns in the scientific community about a declining, isolated population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities, as well as strong opposition from an unprecedented number of Tribal Nations.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears in the Greater
The Trump administration turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for consultation from dozens of Tribal Nations. States have already made it clear that without endangered species protections, immediate steps will be taken to reduce the number of bears in the area, including through trophy hunting—a move that will reverse grizzly bear recovery in the region.
This premature decision to remove endangered species protections could set grizzly recovery back by decades. It is an egregious affront to Tribal Nations that consider grizzly bears sacred, and it's bad news for the Yellowstone region's outdoor economy.
Without necessary Endangered Species protections, the survival of grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone is put in jeopardy. Inadequate requirements for healthy bear populations, combined with hostile state management practices, threaten to reverse the progress made toward bear recovery. The end result will be fewer bears restricted to an even smaller area. Grizzly bears will be killed through trophy hunts on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks instead of inspiring millions who come to the region just for a chance to see a live grizzly bear in the wild.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
North Atlantic right whales are the rarest of all large whale species and among the rarest of all marine mammal species, with only about 450 right whales in the North Atlantic.
"The loss of one whale has a huge impact for any endangered species, but in particular for the North Atlantic right whale," Sigrid Kuehnemund, the lead ocean specialist with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada, told the Globe and Mail. "Looking at this number of deaths, it will take such a devastating toll on the population. And we know that, of the whales that have been sighted, at least two are females. So, we're not just losing those whales but also the potential for those females to have calves into the future."
The six deaths—accounting for approximately one percent of the population—has been described by Tonya Wimmer, a marine biologist and the director of Marine Animal Response Society, as an "unprecedented event."
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Coal India, the world's biggest coal mining company and producer of 82 percent of the country's coal, announced the closure of 37 mines that are financially "unviable."
The sites make up roughly nine percent of the total mines operated by Coal India. The company is expected save Rs 800 crore ($124 million) from the closures.
India's energy market is undergoing a rapid transformation as it moves away from fossil fuels. Last month, the country cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
GuideStar, the world's largest charity watchdog group, has come under fire from the religious right, accused of "being an arm of the ultra-left," being overly dependent on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its designation of a number of explicitly anti-gay conservative Christian organizations as hate groups, and, of being led by a long-time anti-Trump liberal organizer.
GuideStar recently incorporated SPLC's "hate group" tag into their ratings of non-profit groups, and that infuriated the Christian Right. According to the Associated Press, "A banner prominently featured atop each group's GuideStar profile includes the law center's logo and a link to its website." Pushback by conservatives was been swift, hard-hitting, and apparently successful as GuideStar has agreed to remove the "hate group" label from 46 organizations.
The victory over GuideStar came so quickly, the Christian Right had little time to fundraise around this latest outrage!
TOM HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump is doing everything in his considerable power to insure a future of rising oceans, dirty unbreathable air, more drought in some places, far larger and hotter and deadlier forest fires, more devastating storms—hurricanes, tornadoes—and all the increased flooding, demolished homes, destruction and death that comes with it all. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Trump tweets while America roasts.
Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords now means the world shakes it head in disgust at the lack of US conscience, morals, values, common sense and basic decency. That singularly stupid move will cost the US jobs, cooperation, and good faith from all erstwhile international partners.
Reversing Obama's modest Clean Power order will gain US workers no net jobs—rather, it is a foolish pandering to those who yearn for the dirty old days of black lung disease, mine collapse, gooey acidic deposition on everything in coal mining towns, and rancid air unfit for anyone.
Meanwhile, the massive numbers of new jobs that we could be creating in solar, wind, new energy storage capacity, and all the attendant spinoff businesses will go to Germany, China, and more clever countries as we slide down to stupid. Until now, the sunny progressive states have added many new solar jobs while automation (not Obama regulation) has slashed coal jobs since 2012.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It goes far beyond Donald Trump. He's just simple-mindedly exacerbating a trend. Clear signs of deterioration have been building in our nation, some of them old and some more recent, all of them related to arrogance and greed at the highest levels. Beyond these failings there is one obvious way to begin to reverse the process.
DESTRUCTION OF FAMILIES: Losing Their Wealth, Taking Painkillers, and Dying
With American households in the bottom 90% losing an average of $17,000 in wealth in 2016, they have increasingly turned to painkillers. The U.S. consumes 80 percent of the world's opioids, with some states filling more prescriptions than there are people, and with the morbid result that drugs are now killingmore Americans than traffic accidents or gun violence.
DEGRADATION OF HUMAN HEALTH: Ignoring the Human Right to Health Care
A much-cited Princeton study concluded, "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." The best example today is health care, an essential human need that is simply disregarded by Congressional Republicans who are instead -- inexplicably, astonishingly -- proposing CUTS to Medicaid and a health plan acceptable to just 17 percent of the U.S. population.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ryan Zinke, who recently recommended a reduction in the size of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument to President Trump, is advocating for more drilling and mining on public lands and waters.Interior Sec.
The former Montana Rep. told Reuters that the development of America's protected federal lands could help the country become a "dominant" global energy force.
"There is a social cost of not having jobs," he said. "Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran."
Zinke has been tasked by Trump to review 27 national monuments across the country as part the administration's plans to expand development of public land. Reuters notes that at least six of these sites hold oil, gas and coal.
Earlier this month, the interior secretary called for a scaling back of Bears Ears despite vocal opposition from Native American tribes and environmental advocates.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What's the matter with these people? The Trumpsters in the White House and Congress, I mean.
Start with The Donald himself, a guy who can't pass a mirror without casting an adoring eye at his own reflection. What is it about him that requires the top officials of his government to humiliate themselves publically in the White House cabinet room, making them try to outdo each other in a groveling Worship-a-thon of praise for this magnificence? And what's wrong with his Cabinet members? One after another, the Vice President, Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of State and all the other supposedly-powerful luminaries of the Government of the United States of America were called upon in June's televised cabinet session to say their name, then meekly offer their smarmiest praise of Trump's integrity, agenda and manly leadership. This spectacle of forced adulation of "The Leader" was so eerily insane that even North Korea's Kim Jong Un would've been too embarrassed to orchestrate it!
Yet Trump went even further in his flight from reality. Not satiated by the string of superlatives from his cabinet of sycophants, he resorted to stroking his own ego, opening with the fanciful claim that Americans are "seeing amazing results" from his presidency. Shifting into overdrive, the chief proclaimed that "never has there been a president -- [except maybe] FDR, who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than what we've done."
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The corpses pile up like sandbags along the planet's geopolitical borders.
"Perhaps his condition deteriorated and the authorities decided it was better to release him in a coma than as a corpse."
So said an expert on North Korea recently, quoted in the New York Times following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, six days after he had been released in a comatose state from a North Korean prison. He had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor a year and a half ago because he had taken a propaganda poster off the wall in his hotel. He had been with a tour group.
Oh Lord. The shocking wrongness and horror of this young man's death -- the absurdity of his arrest, the razor slash of his tears -- is all over the news. Of course. Who couldn't identify -- with him, with his parents? He had been dehumanized. He had a future, but it got pulled away from him by uniformed lunatics, or so the news presents this tragedy: in the context of America and its enemies.
DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ENVIRONEWS ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Waterkeeper Alliance (the Alliance), sat down with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry to discuss the organization's response to the Trump Administration, which has been active in upending environmental regulations. The interview took place June 8, 2017 in Park City, Utah at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference.Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of
Kennedy began by telling EnviroNews, "We're filing just barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act." Columbia Riverkeeper, part of the Alliance based in Oregon, fired off the first lawsuit in the U.S. against EPA head Scott Pruitt on February 23, 2017, just 13 days after he was confirmed by the Senate. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle and aims to force the EPA to mitigate high water temperatures in the Columbia and Snake Rivers that killed 250,000 adult sockeye salmon in 2015.
The action continued a lengthy record of using the courts to protect the nation's waterways. Among the highlights cited in the 2016 Waterkeeper Alliance Annual Report are rulings that imposed fines for polluting the Chattahoochee and Potomac Rivers and prevented sand mining in San Francisco Bay. Other actions have resulted in protection for sea otters along the coast of Southern California and defeating the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal in Bellingham, Washington.
Kennedy said the Alliance was also working to prevent the EPA from undoing rules that protect communities and waterways from toxic coal ash waste. The Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, which represents electric generation utilities, has filed a petition that Waterkeeper Alliance says "seeks to do away with most of the EPA's environmental safeguards for coal ash." According to Waterkeeper, at least 200 coal ash waste dumps have contaminated local water sources with arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.