Guest Commentary (5218)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Since Donald Trump's election, white supremacist organizations have been working overtime on college campuses across the country, organizing rallies, spreading propaganda, gaining publicity, and creating assorted platforms to recruit students. According to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, (ADL), college campuses have become a major battleground for white supremacists, as there has been "an alarming increase in white supremacist propaganda … during the 2017 fall semester."
While white supremacists have been targeting campuses for several years, they "failed to get any real traction until the fall semester of 2016," the report pointed out. "Since then, propaganda efforts have increased dramatically."
As the Washington Post recently reported, "Pamphlets and stickers proclaimed war against diversity and stoked racial division": 'Fighting for White Working Families';'Take back what is rightfully ours'; 'Preserve your heritage, take up the fight.'"
"The propaganda delivers a range of messages: it may promote a white supremacist group, or trumpet the urgent need to 'save' the white race. Frequently, the propaganda attacks minority groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants, and the LGBT community."
GAR SMITH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump's wrecking-ball approach to governing has left Washington in a shambles. Instead of presiding as a caretaker, Trump has proven to be more comfortable in the role of an undertaker.
One would hope the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be spared. If only. Under Trump, the nation's premiere health protection agency has been given an unsettling new task: to promote acceptance of the greatest looming threat to human life -- nuclear war.
Under Trump, the CDC was recruited to host a January 16 press briefing on the "Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation." The intent appeared to be normalize the prospect of nuclear war by offering US families a checklist they could use to eke out a living in the smoking rubble of a post-nuclear landscape.
As it turned out, this attempt to put a positive spin on the specter of nuclear annihilation didn't happen. Instead, a real-life outbreak of influenza put the plan on hold, and the CDC opted to substitute an event boosting the "Public Health Response to an Influenza Pandemic."
CHARLES DERBER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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President Trump is a bully -- and anti-Trumpists denounce him for it. But their critique only endears Trump to his base because many of them love his bullying.
More surprising, though, is that hidden bullying norms pervade our society and ruling institutions. They explain why many of Trump's base embrace his bullying, but also illuminate the unrecognized bullying of millions of other voters, including prominent anti-Trumpists in the media and leaders of our society.
How do we know that Trump voters are bullish on his bullying? On January 17, 2018, The New York Times asked their readers who were Trump supporters why they still backed him. Here are typical responses:
Steven Landis from Hampton Bays, New York: "…it's better to be feared than loved. My hope is for our enemies to fear Donald Trump and for his domestic opponents to realize he's on their side." This reveals a cultural belief in success through intimidation rather than love, and a normalization of bullying values. This man likes Trump because he makes people afraid.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Move over Alt-Reichsters: A new "New Right" is looking to make headway among the disenchanted, embittered and disgruntled young right-wingers, and nerdy trollsters disillusioned with the alt-right. While Mike Cernovich's "Night For Freedom," was supposed to be light on offensiveness, and heavy on mainstreaming – which included adherence to a strict dress code -- when a gaggle of right-wing provocateurs and social media personalities show up, offensiveness remains the coin of the realm.
As People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch recently reported, "The self-described 'New Right' -- a Trump-loving, anti-feminist, anti-'social justice warrior' online movement that has branded itself as separate from the explicitly white supremacist alt-right -- held a party in Manhattan … in its latest attempt to move its efforts into the real world and to find an identity beyond its shared disgust for 'political correctness' and support for President Trump."
The event, which was attended by some 650-+ people paying between $139 to $999, depending on how close ticketholders might get to the headline speakers,was organized by Mike Cernovich, who is described by Right Wing Watch as "a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who has disavowed the alt-right and attempted to distance himself from his former support for the movement."
JOHN SCHLOSSBERG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. "el lobo." The legal action comes on the heels of USFWS' November release of its long-anticipated
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), names Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. The complaint asserts the USFWS, an ancillary arm of the Interior Department, turned a deaf ear to its own scientists' recommendations for the minimum number of wolves and the amount of habitat needed for recovery and removal from the endangered species list.
"This recovery plan was designed by politicians and anti-wolf states, not by independent biologists," said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. "It's an affront to the ESA and Congress' directive [is to] make decisions solely on the best available science."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Michelle Bachelet signed a decree Monday to create five new national parks and expand three others, following a pledge made last year with Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the president and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to dramatically expand national parkland in the South American country.Chilean President
More than 10 million acres of new national parklands will be created in Chile, approximately three times the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite combined, or about the size of Switzerland. Bachelet said that would increase national parklands in Chile by 38.5 percent.
The expansion includes 1 million acres of land donated by Tompkins Conservation, in what is believed to be the largest private donation of land ever from a private entity to a country.
The decree included the creation of Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park, the conservation organization's two flagship projects, while expanding others to help create the "Route of Parks," a 17-park route spanning more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn in the continent's southern tip.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last June, after Democratic candidates had lost four straight special Congressional elections (Rob Quist in Montana, James Thompson in Kansas, Archie Parnell in South Carolina, and Jon Ossoff in Georgia), the US's purveyors of conventional political wisdom simultaneously jumped to the conclusion that the policies and message of Democrats were just too progressive for our nation of moderate-right voters. The Washington cognoscenti expressed dismay that, despite Trump's dismal public approval ratings and the nationwide surge of "Resist!" campaigns, the hapless Democratic Party was still unable to score any electoral victories. "Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?" queried a June headline in The Atlantic. "Democrats just went 0-4. When will they win?" asked a cynical CNN reporter. "It is a bit surprising that Democrats haven't managed a single victory yet," declared a University of Wisconsin election expert. "Panic is setting in on the left," exclaimed a Vox headline.
No, not really. The professional political observers are like cats watching the wrong mouse hole. They are so fixated on the minutia of Washington-centric politics that they're missing the much bigger story of transformative political changes that have erupted in every region of the country. Far from panicking, America's political left is organizing, strategizing, mobilizing ... and WINNING. Coalitions of local progressive activists (newly energized by an infusion of dynamic, creative young people and people of color) came together after the 2016 election. They recruited and trained candidates from their own ranks; methodically knocked on doors, having thousands of front-porch conversations with voters on basic issues; mobilized supporters for intensive election-day turn-out drives; and elected scores of audaciously populist mayors, council members, legislators, and other officials.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On January 23rd an overcrowded smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Aden in Southern Yemen. Smugglers packed 152 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia in the boat and then, while at sea, reportedly pulled guns on the migrants to extort additional money from them. The boat capsized, according to The Guardian, after the shooting prompted panic. The death toll, currently 30, is expected to rise. Dozens of children were on board.
The passengers had already risked the perilous journey from African shores to Yemen, a dangerous crossing that leaves people vulnerable to false promises, predatory captors, arbitrary detention and tortuous human rights violations. Sheer desperation for basic needs has driven hundreds of thousands of African migrants to Yemen. Many hope, upon arrival, they can eventually travel to prosperous Gulf countries further north where they might find work and some measure of security. But the desperation and fighting in southern Yemen were horrible enough to convince most migrants that boarded the smuggling boat on January 23rd to try and return to Africa.
Referring to those who drowned when the boat capsized, Amnesty International's Lynn Maalouf said: "This heart-breaking tragedy underscores, yet again, just how devastating Yemen's conflict continues to be for civilians. Amid ongoing hostilities and crushing restrictions imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, many people who came to Yemen to flee conflict and repression elsewhere are now being forced yet again to flee in search of safety. Some are dying in the process."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Franklin Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has for years hoped to inherit his father's mantle as "America's Pastor." Instead, as the years go by, and his disturbing comments mount up, he's creeping closer and closer to occupying the space left by the death of Fred Phelps, the anti-gay zealot from Topeka, Kansas.
Graham is a mean-spirited Christian nationalist, and one of the most consistent voices arguing that Christians in this country are being persecuted, victimized and "excluded from the public square." Over the past few years, he has carved out a well-deserved reputation as one of America's leading religious-based Islamophobes. These days, he is also one of those conservative evangelical Christian leaders that appears to be able twist themselves into a pretzel in their defense of the sexpisodes of President Donald Trump.
Last week, for example, they spent a fair amount of time bending over backwards in defense of Trump's pre-2016 election $130,000 payoff to keep secret the 2006 sexual encounter he had with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. The affair happened while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, and just a few months after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. Now, Graham has decided to warn America that there are forces in this country that are not above staging "a coup d'etat" against Trump.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
skyrocketed from 25,000 to 26,000 in just seven trading days, prompting Donald Trump to bluster, "Our economy is booming, investments and jobs are pouring back into the country...We ARE Making America Great Again." Certainly the richest 1% are feeling great. But the stock market is feeding the nation's runaway inequality, boosting the financial wealth of a privileged few while doing NOTHING for the middle and lower classes. The biggest losers are among the MOST VULNERABLE Americans, the people who seem to be reviled by the Republicans in Congress.
Children: While Stocks Doubled, 18% More Kids Fell Into Poverty
This is shocking and shameful. The U.S. has taken nearly half of the world's new wealth since the 2008 recession, and the stock market more than doubled from 2008 to 2014 (and tripled by 2017), but the number of children living below the federal poverty threshold increased by 18 percent from 2008 to 2014.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For white Christian conservative evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, President Donald Trump represents the kind of "muscular" Christianity they've been yearning for. The fact that Trump's bullying and moral turpitude is part of the package doesn't seem to bother them in the least.
In the wake of revelations of the latest Trump sex-related scandal – the pre-2016 election payoff to a porn star involved with Trump to buy her silence -- Graham and Perkins are claiming that Trump is a "changed man," and they're willing to grant him a "mulligan."
Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham, and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,claimed that Trump is a "changed person." Perkins, the head of the Washington, D.C. lobbying group, the Family Research Council told Politico "We kind of gave him— 'Alright, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.'"
"If this behavior were occurring today, right now, as he is president of the United States, I can assure you that my support and the support of Evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly," Perkins told CNN. "But we're talking about something that occurred ten years ago, among a number of things that occurred with this president, prior to being president."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Got a problem? Simplify and project.
When you have a country to govern and you have no idea what to do -- and, even more to the core of the matter, you also have a crony-agenda you want to push quietly past the populace -- there's a time-proven technique that generally works. Govern by scapegoat!
This usually means go to war, but sometimes that's not enough. Here in the USA, there's been so much antiwar sentiment since the disastrous quagmires of the last half century -- Vietnam, the War (To Promote) Terror -- we've had to make war simply part of the background noise. The military cash bleed continues, but the public lacks an international enemy to rally against and blame for its insecurity.
Creating a scapegoat enemy domestically has also gotten complicated. Thugs and punks -- predatory (minority) teenagers -- shoulder much of the responsibility for keeping the country distracted, but in this era of political correctness, politicians have to be careful. Thus the Trump administration has turned to the immigrants. Not all of them, of course -- only the ones from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In particular, it has turned to . . . the illegals!
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
The deadline is two years ahead of his predecessor Francois Hollande's goal of shutting down France's coal-powered plants by 2023.
France only produces around 1 percent of its energy from coal-fired stations, as the country is 99 percent dependent on hydrocarbon imports. However, the move from the world's fifth largest economy shows it is determined to be a leader on climate issues and sends a signal to other nations.
MICHAEL SEIFERT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Claudia is a teacher and a soccer coach. Jessica works for child protective services. Juan married his childhood sweetheart and now is raising children who will soon have their own sweethearts. Marilu helps people fill out applications and prepare for their interviews for naturalization as US citizens.
Like most everyone else in my community, they have love/hate relationships with their bosses, worry about getting sick (no insurance), but spend more time anticipating possible vacation trips. They consider themselves religious. All of them have pretty good jobs, but small bank accounts. They are my friends and they are lovely and alive, and have been, until recently, mostly hopeful about their lives.
They are also people whose presence in the United States is "unauthorized." They all were brought to the US as children and have been unable to get their immigration status regularized (for a quick view into how crazed a process that is, you might read this article).
The "mostly" qualifier of their hope is, in large part, due to their decision a short time ago to trust the United States of America, and enroll in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.