Guest Commentary (5008)
TOM H. HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Trump budget—pure profit for Pentagon corporate contractors. The Trump tax “reform”—massive tax cuts for the rich. Really? We are going to stand for this?
Compared to last year, if his corporations truly paid the going corporate tax rate, Trump would “richly benefit,” in multiple ways when his proposed cuts kick in. His corporate tax burden would be cut by at least 4.9 percent—millions of dollars—and his personal taxes would likely be cut even more massively, although since he alone amongst modern presidents has refused to let the American people see his returns, we cannot pin a number on his projected undeserved gains.
This is the textbook definition of corruption.
Fortunately for him, the Senators are wealthy too and love these ideas, as are most of the members of the House of Representatives. Corrupt Congress, corrupt president—and somehow the white male voters generally suppose this will all work out for them, since a reported 96 percent of his voters say they would vote for him again (and white males voted for him in overwhelming numbers, with white males without a college education voting for him a 72 percent rate).
MICHAEL SEIFERT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
About a month ago I was part of a group of people assaulted by a guy who used the National Anthem as a weapon.
About a hundred of us were standing in line, waiting to offer our testimony before the Texas House of Representatives’ State Affairs’ Committee. We were part of more than a thousand people gathered that day, determined to testify on the multiple ways that Senate Bill 4, the Texas "anti-sanctuary cities" bill, was a curse, a pox, and a bad law. The law would authorize, indeed, would require local police officers to act as immigration agents.
We were chatting easily in the hallway, enjoying the remarkable hospitality of fellow traveller, when an older fellow, an American flag bandana tied around his forehead, swaggered up the hall. His name tag identified him as a member of the Fredericksburg Tea Party. The man stopped about fifteen away, scowled at the group for a long moment, and then launched into the Star-Spangled Banner.
To give him credit, he was brave to attack us with such a clumsy weapon. This is a tune with some impossible high notes -- and it goes on forever and ever. It seems to me that it would be just plain hard to express passionate anger for that long a time, but this guy apparently had a lot of bile to fuel his effort.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah's residents of an impending attack. One leaflet read:
"Our forces of legitimacy are heading to liberate Hodeidah and end the suffering of our gracious Yemeni people. Join your legitimate government in favor of the free and happy Yemen."
And another: "The control of the Hodeidah port by the terrorist Houthi militia will increase famine and hinder the delivery of international relief aid to our gracious Yemeni people."
Certainly the leaflets represent one aspect of a confusing and highly complicated set of battles raging in Yemen. Given alarming reports about near famine conditions in Yemen, it seems the only ethical "side" for outsiders to choose would be that of children and families afflicted by hunger and disease.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.
The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have calculated that, on average in 2014, the middle class received more of the safety net than the lower class. Specifically, the 40% of American adults with incomes just below the top 10% received more in safety net government transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, Veterans’ benefits, etc., but excluding Social Security) than the bottom 50% of Americans (Figure 11).
Even MORE STUNNINGLY, according to the same authors, when Medicare and Social Security are both included the richest 10% on average received approximately as much in government transfers as the poorest 50% (Figure S.13).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Meet Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania, a member of President Trump’s transition team, and a longtime loyal combatant in the nation’s drug wars.As a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, he steadfastly went after drug offenders, and, if as expected – and as CBS News has reported – Marino is appointed Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy” (ONDCP), it appears we’re headed for more ill-conceived and misguided drug policy initiatives, more wasted money, and greater imprisonment for minor drug offenders.
As a Congressman, according to the Portland Mercury’s Vince Sliwoski, Marino, who represents Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District, “voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendments, which prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute state-compliant medical marijuana actors.”
He also “voted against allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients….[a]nd he opposed measures to ease federal restrictions on hemp and cannabidiol (CBD).”
The Seattle Weekly’s Meagan Angus recently reported that Marino “supports forced inpatient hospitalization for any non-dealer, nonviolent person who pleads guilty to possession to receive constant ‘treatment’ until a doctor thinks they are fit to re-enter society.”
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Journalism, which is supposed to help make sense of our turbulent world, can't seem to make sense of itself.
In addition to "news" (which involves reporting on stuff that's real) we're now getting "fake news" (stuff that's completely made up). But wait -- the barons of corporate news are adding to today's tumultuous state of journalism by putting out feeds of "BS news" (stuff they know is untrue but reported as fact, because it advances their political agenda).
For example, the mighty Washington Post keeps publishing a load of BS to denigrate our US Post Office. The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, "The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The American will to wage war -- endless war, pointless war, total war -- is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity.
This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have ever freer rein in the Trump administration to expand the war games of the 21st century. There is a quiet determination among those who serve the god of war -- or so it seems -- to engage in, and presumably win, a nuclear war.
This, at any rate, is the conclusion one could draw from an essay that ran last month in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, by Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie and Theodore A. Postol, who point out how the US military has circumvented the global nuclear disarmament movement by increasing the accuracy -- and thus the "kill power" -- of the missiles it still holds onto, in the process intensifying the threat the United States poses to Russia (as the beloved Cold War returns) and minimizing the security of, oh Lord, mutually assured destruction.
ANDREW LICHTERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 26.The U.S. Air Force has announced
Although such tests are conducted routinely, the timing of this one may not coincidental; the U.S. military sees nuclear delivery system tests as "distinct messaging opportunities". U.S. Air Force, Doctrine Annex 3-72, Nuclear Operations, May 2015. Regardless of the timing, it is clear that the message intended for North Korea (and the rest of the world) is that the United States has nuclear weapons, and is prepared to use them. In the past, U.S. officials have said so outright. Prior to a similar test in early 2016, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told reporters "That's exactly why we do this... We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal ... that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary." David Alexander, "U.S. test-fires ICBM amid tensions with Russia, North Korea," Reuters, Feb 26, 2016.
It also is hard to see the difference between the intentions behind North Korea's displays of its nuclear and missile capabilities and those of the United States—aside from the fact North Korea has far more to fear, given that the United States has military and nuclear forces that far exceed those of North Korea, and that are exercised frequently close to North Korea's shores. Each of the 400 Minuteman III missiles currently in service carries a nuclear warhead 20 or more times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945. The U.S. also deployed nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers on several occasions following North Korean nuclear or missile tests, even conducting flyovers in South Korea. see Tara Copp, "US sends 3 nuclear stealth bombers to Pacific," Stars and Stripes, March 9, 2016; Choe Sang-Hunjan. "In Show of Alliance, American Forces Fly B-52 Bomber Over South Korea," The New York Times, January 10, 2016.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana took control of public schools in New Orleans and launched a nearly complete transformation of a public school system into a system of charter schools. Though there are spots of improvement in the New Orleans charter system, major problems remain.New Orleans is the nation's largest and most complete experiment in charter schools. After
Many of these problems were on display in New Orleans when the NAACP, which last year called for a moratorium on charter schools until issues of accountability and transparency were addressed, held a community forum in New Orleans on charters. The New Orleans hearing, which can be viewed here, featured outraged students, outraged parents, and dismayed community members reciting a litany of the problems created by the massive change to a charter school system. The single most powerful moment came when a group of students from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools took the podium and detailed the many ways the system has failed and excluded them from participating in its transformation.
"We really wanted to share what happens in our schools" writes 18 year old Big Sister Love Rush in an article on the challenges the students face. "How the few permanent teachers we have work so hard for us, how so many classes are ran by short term substitutes, how food runs out at meal times, and how we worry if our school's reputation is good enough to support us in getting into the college or careers we want. We shared how we face two hour commutes to and from school, are forced to experiment with digital learning with systems like Odyssey, are punished for having the wrong color sweater, or how we worry about being able to attend a school that will give us the education we need."
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Opendata.epa.gov -- the US government's largest civilian-linked data service, storing crucial information on climate change, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice -- could face shut-down this Friday, according to people familiar with the plan.
"Last week, after numerous conversations with the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Information (OEI), and various technical contractors who support them, we were notified that funding is not available to continue operation US EPA's flagship Open Data Web service," wrote open data scientist Bernadette Hyland -- the CEO and co-founder of 3 Round Stones, a platform for publishing data on the web -- in a Medium post on Sunday.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTSTEFANIE SPEAR OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Tens of thousands of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday by taking to the streets in a historic day of action for science and truth. A massive March for Science took place in Washington, DC, and more than 600 sister marches took place in other cities around the world.
"We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and our prosperity," Bill Nye, honorary co-chair of the March for Science, told the crowd in DC.
Saturday's March for Science was the perfect launching pad to a week of action that will culminate in the Peoples Climate March in Washington, DC, on April 29. As Ploy Achakulwisut, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science at Harvard University, put it, "the Science March is about respecting science, the People's Climate March is about acting on it."
RHEA SUH OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In his first three months on the job, Trump has acted again and again to undo half a century of bipartisan progress in protecting our rights to clean water, air and lands. He's moved to part ways with longstanding American values of conservation in the public interest. And he's betrayed the covenant we've forged with our children to leave them a livable world.
That's not a plan to put America first. It's about putting industrial polluter profits first―and putting the rest of us at risk.
Presidents don't get to roll back generations of hard-won gains with the stroke of a pen. Working with his fellow Republicans in Congress, Trump has already killed rules to protect coal communities from mountaintop demolition that destroys forests and streams. And he may expose more public lands to the ravages of coal mining.
Much of what he's ordered, though, can be halted, slowed or turned back around―in the court of public opinion or in a court of law. To do that, we'll have to stand together and give real voice to truth against a president intent on using the full powers of his high office to try to eliminate the tools we need to protect our families and communities from ongoing harm.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In high school, I had a girlfriend who was involved in student government and all sorts of good works. While she paid attention to all that was happening in those years of the early '60s, she essentially was a moderate — certainly not some movement rebel. Or so we thought... until one lazy, Sunday afternoon. As we aimlessly "cruised the drag" of our small town in a '54 Chevy, we were paused at a red light across from a root beer stand where some teens were hanging out. Suddenly, my "moderate" girlfriend lunged halfway out of the backseat window and shouted "Wake up and piss, kids, the world's on fire!"
I stared at her wide-eyed and whopperjawed, wondering where that came from.
I've thought of that moment recently as I've seen instance after instance of the innate rebelliousness of the American people erupting across the country in surprising ways, unexpected numbers, and with astonishing intensity. No need to wonder where this comes from, however. The outbursts are a spontaneous, rapidly expanding mass rejection of Trumpism.
Our Twitter-president plays to his most frenzied partisans with his daily rata-tat-tat of executive orders and public fulminations — firing at refugees, federal judges, Chuck Schumer, the media, Nordstrom, the EPA, Mexico's president, Elizabeth Warren, laws that protect consumers from Wall Street greed, Sweden, Arnold Schwarzenegger and... no telling who's next. But while some delightedly squeal at his wild moves, many more see Trump as not merely unpresidential, but bull goose bonkers! And dangerous — recklessly using the enormous power of the presidency as a personal cudgel to attack, stigmatize and seriously harm individuals, entire religions and races, the Bill of Rights and our nation's basic values of tolerance, fairness and opportunity for all. In a twist of ironic justice, The Donald's deep darkness has sparked a prairie fire of mass opposition, raging political activism and movement organizing for the long haul.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The 10,000-page study found that the three pesticides under review—chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion—pose a risk to roughly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. The evaluations were compiled by federal scientists over the last four years and were expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used.
But lawyers representing Dow and two other makers of the organophosphates sent letters to the heads of three cabinet agencies last week, asking that the study be "set aside" and saying that the results are flawed.
"Our government's own scientists have already documented the grave danger these chemicals pose to people and endangered species," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unable to win on the facts, Dow is now adopting the same disgraceful tactics honed by the tobacco industry and the climate deniers to try to discredit science and scrap reasonable conservation measures that will protect our most endangered animals and plants."