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2016.18.8 BF Koehler(Photo: Brian Ragsdale)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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It's the smallest thing in the world. Does the tennis ball land inside the line or outside? But somehow, as I watched this 60-second YouTube clip of an Australian tennis match last January, and heard an explosion of joyous approval surge from the crowd, I could feel the planet shift.

Or at least it seemed that way for an instant.

In the clip, a tennis player named Jack Sock tells his opponent, Lleyton Hewitt, whose serve has just been declared out, that he should challenge the call. A little humorous disbelief bounces around the court, but eventually Hewitt says, "Sure, I'll challenge it." A judge reviews the tape and declares that the serve was in . . . and the crowd lets loose an enormous cheer.

I felt like I could hear the stunned amazement in it. Hurray for integrity! Hurray for . . . what? It was different from the usual hoots and hollers of "our guy wins" or the polite acknowledgement of "nice play."

Hurray for integrity?

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpPeace 0817wrp opt(Photo: CPAC)An old saying asserts that falsehoods come in three escalating levels: "Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Now, however, we've been given an even-higher level of intentional deception: Policy speeches by Donald Trump.

Take his recent highly publicized address outlining specific economic policies he would push to benefit hard-hit working families. It's an almost-hilarious compilation of Trumpian fabrications, including his bold, statesmanlike discourse on the rank unfairness of the estate tax: "No family will have to pay the death tax," he solemnly pledged, adopting the right-wing pejorative for a tax assessed on certain properties of the dearly departed. Fine, but next came his slick prevarication: "American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death." Workers? The tax exempts the first $5.4 million of any deceased person's estate, meaning 99.8 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing. So Trump is trying to deceive real workers into thinking he's standing for them, when in fact it's his own wealth he's protecting.

What a maverick! What a shake-'em-up outsider! What an anti-establishment fighter for working stiffs!

Oh, and don't forget this: What a phony!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 08:46

Taking the Wind Out of Trump's Energy Policy

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Coal 0817wrp opt(Photo: Decumanus)Black letters against a yellow background. Black letters against white. White letters against black. On yard signs. On T-shirts. On baseball caps. All with the same message: “Trump Digs Coal.”

Donald Trump says there are “ridiculous regulations [on coal] that put you out of business and make it impossible to compete.” He says if he is president, he would reduce those regulations. Those regulations that Trump doesn’t like are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect miners and the public.

In speech after speech in the coal-producing states, he has said, “We’re going to get those miners back to work . . . the miners of West Virginia and Pennsylvania . . .  [In] Ohio and all over are going to start to work again, believe me. They are going to be proud again to be miners.”  He also says the voters in coal-rich states “are going to be proud of me.”

As expected, his comments are met by extended cheers. However, other than splashing rhetoric to get votes, he doesn’t say how he plans to put miners back to work, nor does he address the issues of the high cost to create “clean coal,” or that a president doesn’t have absolute power to reduce federal legislation. But his words sound good to the mining industry in Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, the top five states in coal production.

coal miners during a sit-in(Photo: Raúl Villalón)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

With the renewable energy sector growing leaps and bounds in the U.S., many critics -- ahem, Donald Trump -- argue that a transition to clean power would lead to the displacement of workers in the fossil fuel industry.

Admittedly, these naysayers are not exactly wrong. Coal workers are genuinely worried as mines close and high-profile coal companies declare bankruptcy. Coal jobs are indeed on the decline, with the total number of employees at U.S. coal mines dipping to 74,931 employees in 2014, a decrease of 6.8 percent from the year prior.The Obama Administration's carbon cutting policies that takes direct aim at coal plants, alongside a drop in natural gas prices are only fueling these concerns of job security.

But what if the coal industry could adapt?

In a new study published in the journalEnergy Economics, researchers from Michigan Technological University and Oregon State University found that a "relatively minor investment in retraining" would allow mostcoal workers to switch professions to the booming and job creating solar energy sector.

2016.16.8 BF Chow(Photo: Kate Ter Haar)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A New Jersey native and mother of two has set off on a two-month paddling journey from Chicago to New Orleans to raise awareness about water quality issues.

Blue Frontier Ocean Explorer Margo Pellegrino set off via the Sanitary Canalon her 20-foot outrigger canoe on Aug. 10 from the Lincoln Park Boathouse in Chicago.

This downstream-upstream challenge will first take her from the Windy City into the Mississippi. Then, she'll traverse upstream on the Illinois River into Kentucky Lake and onto the Tennessee River and the Tenn-Tom Waterway. From Mobile, Alabama, she will paddle into the Mobile Bay and head west into New Orleans.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BPat 0815wrp opt(Photo: Bbsrock )y now, one would think that Pat Buchanan would have long ago been relegated to the trash heap of history. Buchanan, a senior advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and who was once considered the go-to guy for paleoconservatives, seemed to have faded in importance from those heady days when he co-hosted CNN’s Crossfire, and gave the rousing and incendiary culture war speech at the 1992 Republican Party convention.

As The Australian’s Nikki Savva recently wrote, Buchanan “ran against the first George Bush for the Republican nomination, promising to build a wall or dig a giant ditch along the border between the US and Mexico. So it’s not a new idea. The same people cheering Trump now applauded Buchanan then — it’s just their numbers have grown.” Now, thanks to Donald Trump’s candidacy, and the band of white nationalists supporting him, Buchanan is in full pundefocating mode.

According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, Buchanan, the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority,” is all in with Trump’s claim that if he loses it will be because the election is rigged. And, furthermore, according to Buchanan, Trump’s loss could signal the beginning of a revolution in America.

In a WND column headlined “Yes, The System Is Rigged,” Buchanan – whose column is syndicated in a number of mainstream newspapers -- maintains that if the election “ends with a Clintonite restoration and a ratification of the same old Beltway policies, would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?”

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Woody 0812wrp opt(Photo: Al Aumuller)In 1950, Woody Guthrie signed a lease for an apartment in a Brooklyn building owned by Fred Trump (the father of Donald Trump). Earlier this year, Will Kaufman, a Professor of American Literature and Culture, University of Central Lancashire, visited the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Woody Guthrie Archives (http://woodyguthriecenter.org/archives/), to do research.

Kaufman pointed out that “Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of Fred Trump’s buildings and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings.” Kaufman maintained that Guthrie’s writing -- which haven’t yet been published – “should be, for they clearly pit America’s national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire.” Particularly in light of Donald Trump declaring last year that his “legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”

Guthrie had dealt with racism and inequality in several songs, recognizing that racism wasn’t only manifested in the South. According to Kaufman, “songs such as ‘The Ferguson Brothers Killing,’ … condemned the out-of-hand police killing of the unarmed Charles and Alfonso Ferguson in Freeport, Long Island, in 1946, after the two young black men had been refused service in a bus terminal cafe.”

The song “Buoy Bells from Trenton,” “denounced the miscarriage of justice in the case of the so-called ‘Trenton Six’ – black men convicted of murder in 1948 by an all-white jury in a trial marred by official perjury and manufactured evidence.”

Guthrie, a strong and active supporter of the great Paul Robeson – an underappreciated African American icon -- “stood shoulder to shoulder with Robeson, Howard Fast and Pete Seeger against the mobs of Peekskill, New York, where American racism at its ugliest had inspired 21 songs from his pen (one of which, ‘My Thirty Thousand,’ was recorded by Billy Bragg and Wilco).”

2016.11.8 BF Mulkey(Photo: Newtown grafitti / Flickr)BRUCE MULKEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's in times such as these that I am compelled to acknowledge my own racism. For though I was raised by white liberal parents who early on supported Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement during the Sixties, I grew up in America, in fact, in the South, and thus I unconsciously took on common beliefs and attitudes prevalent in the dominant cultural paradigm about people whose skin was darker than mine. "White people are smarter." "Black people are better athletes." Etcetera. And though I've become conscious of those beliefs, I have not rooted them all out and will need to work to do so throughout my entire life. At the very least, however, I can notice when my mind makes snap judgments and recognize them for the falsehoods they are.

It's in times such as these that I am compelled to acknowledge how I've benefited and continue to benefit from white privilege. From attending high school in my youth in a new building with relatively current textbooks while black kids on the other side of town were all segregated into one old building with hand­me­down books from the white schools to currently walking down the streets of Asheville at any time of day or night without fear of being harassed by the police, I have benefited from white privilege.

Nuclear protesting at the White House(Photo: Jesse / Flickr)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Donald Trump is a reckless fool. But the U.S. defense establishment is M.A.D.

And herein lies one of the darker problems with the Trump candidacy, and the reason why so many establishment conservatives are awkwardly distancing themselves from America's leading narcissist -- if not running screaming into the night in fear for their lives (and everyone else's).

Trump as commander in chief? Trump with his finger on the button?

When the subject of nukes has come up in interviews, he has come across as creepily naïve. For instance, according to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Trump allegedly hounded a foreign policy expert with the question: "If we have them, why can't we use them?"

And when Chris Matthews, in another interview, scolded Trump for even suggesting that maybe -- maybe -- launching a nuclear attack might be necessary someday, he shot back: "Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?"

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Chains 0810wrp opt(Photo: André Karwath)Some corporations engage in such abusive consumer rip-offs that they're just plain evil. But then there are some profiteers that dig even deeper into the dark void of their corporate souls to achieve the ultimate status: TRULY EVIL.

Consider the gang of debt collection firms that are thugglishly and lawlessly rampaging across the country ruthlessly abusing consumer rights and common decency. Susan Macharia, a California administrative employee, is one of thousands of middle-income and low-wage workers each year who get robbed by these relentless money grabbers. Out of the blue, she got a rude call in January from a collector demanding she pay $10,000 for a credit card debt she ran up in 2003.

Only, Ms. Macharia had no such debt. In fact, as she told the New York Times, she didn't even have a credit card until 2013. Yet, the collection agency declared that it had a copy of a 2006 court judgement for non-payment filed against her, addressed to her California residence — so, pay up, or else! But wait, she lived in Atlanta in 2006, not California. Nonetheless, ignoring facts, the callous collection outfit got a court to rubber stamp an order to let the creditor garnish Macharia's paycheck, effectively stealing $800 a month from her.

"I couldn't sleep," she told the Times, "and I lost so much weight because I couldn't eat. There was so much stress. And I knew I hadn't done it!" Luckily, however, a group named Public Law Center took her case, went straight to the company she supposedly owed, and showed its executives the obvious errors in the collection agency's debtor file. Embarrassed, the company called off its attack dogs and returned the money it had taken from her paychecks.

Few are so fortunate, however. This collection firm and hundreds like it are still marauding across the land, with some 3,000 people a month filing formal complaints that they're being hounded mercilessly for debts they do not owe. It amounts to legalized highway robbery.

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