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2017.21.2 Bf berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Keeping watch on the Trump-Pence administration is a dirty job, but it’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Support Truthout and BuzzFlash in this pursuit: Make a tax-deductible donation!

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the U.S. are increasingly hopeful that they’ve got a comrade in the White House. On February 19, Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommer reported that "At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the [Trump] press conference 'was one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.'"

And, in a classic blame the victim stance that appears to come out of an Alex Jones playbook, Trump seemed to accuse his opponents of initiating anti-Semitic incidents in order to defame and disparage him.

During the one-hour and fifteen-minute presidential advertorial, Trump lashed out at Jake Turx, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, for asking what was basically a "softball" question about how Trump intended to deal with rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the U.S. Turx's question came after he "first flattered the U.S. president by using the Yiddish name for grandfather," according to Sommer.

2017.21.2 BF Buchheit(Photo: Michael Fleshman)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash and Truthout aren't supported by corporations or governments, but by readers like you. Can you chip in to keep our site online?

Yes, inequality is getting worse every year. In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just 8 men had the same wealth as the world's bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to 6. 

How to account for the dramatic increase in the most flagrant and perverse of extreme inequalities? Two well-documented reasons: (1) The poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and (2) The VERY richest individuals -- especially the top thousand or so -- continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes. 

Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they're missing the big picture. Whether it's 6 individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn't really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Colorado 0217wrp opt(Photo: Hogs555)Colorado's attorney general is suing Boulder County over its fracking ban that has been in place for the last five years.

Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and the state of Colorado are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The complaint to initiate the lawsuit was received by county officials on Feb. 14, KUNC reported.

The AG's office had been threatening Boulder County with a lawsuit for several weeks over the county's moratorium on oil and gas development in unincorporated areas. The county first adopted the temporary ban back in Feb. 2, 2012 and has extended it several times.

In a Jan. 26 letter to county commissioners, Coffman gave a Feb. 10 deadline to rescind the moratorium as it violates state law. Last May, Colorado's Supreme Court rulings on two cases prohibited local governments from preventing oil and gas development through the use of local bans. In light of the court's decisions, Coffman called Boulder County's continued ban "clearly unlawful."

Thursday, 16 February 2017 09:06

Resisting Trump: The Great American Awakening

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sunrise 0216wrp(Photo: Mmacbeth)Old wounds break open. Deep, encrusted wrongs are suddenly visible. The streets flow with anger and solidarity. The past and the future meet.

The news is All Trump, All the Time, but what’s really happening is only minimally about Donald Trump, even though his outrageous actions and bizarre alliances are the trigger.

“As the nightmare reality of Donald Trump sinks in, we need to put our resistance in a larger perspective,” Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman wrote recently, describing Trump as “our imperial vulture come home to roost.”

The context in which most Trumpnews is delivered is miniscule: more or less beginning and ending with the man himself — his campaign, his businesses, his appointees, his ego, his endless scandals (“what did he know and when did he know it?”) — which maintains the news at the level of entertainment, and surrounds it with the fantasy context of a United States that used to be an open, fair and peace-loving democracy, respectful of all humanity. In other words, Trump is the problem, and if he goes away, we can get back to what we used to be.

In point of fact, however, the United States has always been an empire, a national entity certain of its enemies — both internal and external — and focused on conquest and exploitation. Yes, it’s been more than that as well. But the time has come to face the totality of who we are and reach for real change.

I believe this is what we are seeing in the streets right now. Americans — indeed, people across the planet — are ceasing to be spectators in the creation of the future. The protests we’re witnessing aren’t so much anti-Trump as pro-humanity and pro-Planet Earth.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Barn1 0216wrp(Photo: Swroche)During the farm crisis of the 1980s, an Iowa farmer asked if I knew the difference between a family farmer and a pigeon. When I said no, he delighted in explaining: "A pigeon can still make a deposit on a new John Deere."

That's funny — except, it really wasn't. Worse, the bitter reality of the tractor joke is still true: The farm crisis has not gone away, though hundreds of thousands of farm families have. The economic devastation in farm country continues unabated as agribusiness profiteers, Wall Street speculators, urban sprawlers and corrupted political elites squeeze the life out of farmers and rural America.

Remember last year's presidential debates? Trump and Clinton talked about the needs of hard-hit working-class families, veterans and coal miners among others. But, hellloooo, where were farmers? Indeed, where was the multitude of producers who toil on the lands and waters of this country to bring food to our tables? All went unmentioned, even though economic and emotional depression is spreading through their communities, thanks to bankruptcy-level prices paid by corporate middlemen. In the past three years, farm income has declined steadily, plummeting 12 percent in just the last year. But these crucial-but-endangered food producers were totally disappeared by the political cognoscenti.

Actually, the farmer has long been forgotten in America's presidential discussion. In a New York Times op-ed, Professor A. Hope Jahren reported on the discovery she made when reading through transcripts of past debates: "Farm policy hasn't come up even once in a presidential debate for the past 16 years."

That's Bush-Kerry, Obama-McCain, Obama-Romney, and Trump-Clinton! Not one of them mentioned the people who produce our food. Jahren notes that the monetary value of farm production alone is nearly eight times greater than coal mining, a declining industry whose voters Clinton and Trump avidly courted.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 06:48

It's Open Season on Climate Scientists

MICHAEL MANN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CliSci 0215wrp opt(Photo: Alfred Palmer)I coined the term "Serengeti Strategy" in my 2012 book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. It's meant to describe how industry special interests and their patrons in power single out individual researchers or teams of scientists for attack, in much the same way lions of the Serengeti single out an individual zebra from the herd. In numbers, after all, there is strength, while individuals and small groups are far more vulnerable—and the purpose is two-fold: to undermine the credibility of wider scientific consensus and to discourage other researchers from sticking out their necks and participating in the public discourse over matters of policy-relevant science.

When it comes to attacks on climate scientists specifically, this strategy follows a familiar script. On the eve of a critical Congressional vote, hearing or climate policy summit, a late-breaking "scandal" suddenly erupts. Individual scientists are typically charged with claims of misconduct, fraud or data manipulation and soon enough, right-wing blogs, climate-denying websites and the conservative establishment media are trumpeting the accusations. In time, more objective media outlets are forced to cover the uproar, lending it credibility and oxygen, even as it is responsibly dissected.

With the public conversation hijacked, meaningful progress on climate policy is blunted and the vested interests seeking to maintain our current addition to fossil fuels prevail.

The latest example of this strategy began unfolding earlier this month when David Rose, an opinion writer for the British tabloid The Daily Mail—known for misrepresentations of climate change and serial attacks on climate scientists—published a commentary attacking Tom Karl, the recently retired director of the National Centers for Environmental Information at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a scientist for whom I have deep respect. Rose accused Karl and his co-authors of having "manipulated global warming data" in a 2015 study published in the journal Science. These charges were built entirely on an interview with a single disgruntled former NOAA employee, John Bates.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pop 0215wrp opt(Photo: White House)In a recent interview, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked what Black History Month means to him. In a thoughtful three-minute response, Popovich talked about the “monstrous advantage” that white people have, the insensitivity of President Donald Trump, and he called the treatment of Black people in America “our national sin.” Surprised and saddened by Trump’s election, Popovich has been more than willing to share his thoughts on the president, racism, and a myriad of other political and social issues.

Unless you’re a basketball fan, it is possible you’ve never heard of Popovich. If you are a fan of the NBA, however, you know his accomplishments as a coach of the San Antonio Spurs, guiding them to five NBA championships, and being named NBA Coach of the Year three times. Recently, Popovich tied, and then surpassed the NBA record for the most career wins by a coach with the same franchise, set several years ago by Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz. But Gregg Popovich’s legacy extends far beyond setting records and winning NBA championships. Gregg Popovich is a national treasure.

In a post-election piece titled “Gregg Popovich is the NBA’s most ‘woke’ coach,” (https://theundefeated.com/features/san-antonio-spurs-gregg-popovich-is-the-nbas-most-woke-coach/) The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears wrote: “In the sports world, there may not be a head coach more ‘woke’ than this 67-year-old, opinionated, sarcasm-loving, world-adoring and socially aware white man named Gregg Popovich.” Spears pointed out that “Popovich attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was a basketball star and received a bachelor’s degree in Soviet studies, [and] [h]e served five years of required active duty in the Air Force.”

2017.14.2 BF Chow(Photo: Wikimedia)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

As nearly 200,000 Northern California residents flee to higher ground over the threat of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway's failure Sunday night, a report has emerged that state and federal officials were warned 12 years ago that the earthen structure was already at risk of erosion.

The Mercury News reported that back in Oct. 2005, Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) during the Oroville Dam's relicensing process.

The environmental groups said that the dam, which California built and completed in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards and urged FERC to secure the dam's emergency spillway with concrete rather than have it remain as an earthen hillside.

Should extreme rain and flooding occur, the groups warned that the excess water could overwhelm the main concrete spillway and flow into the auxiliary spillway. Too much water could cause heavy erosion and potentially unleash flooding and threaten nearby communities.

2017.14.2(Photo: Mat Hampson)JULIA TRAVERS OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Sidd Bikkannavar, a U.S.-born citizen and scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) when trying to reenter the country from Chile late last month. Bikkannavar was in Patagonia racing solar-powered cars. He was detained by CPB in Houston without explanation and forced to unlock his NASA-issued phone.

After his passport was scanned, he was taken into a back room where other detained travelers waited on cots. Bikkannavar is a member of Global Entry, a CBP program that “allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers" upon arrival in the U.S.

Bikkannavar asked "Why was I chosen?" But, no response was given, The Verge reported.

Bikkannavar was questioned on basic information already provided by his Global Entry membership and then asked to hand over and unlock his work phone. He was reticent to unlock his phone because it was issued by a federal agency and might contain sensitive information -- NASA employees are told to protect work data. He tried to politely explain this when the CBP officer handed him an Inspection of Electronic Devices form.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PilotWhales 0213wrp opt(Photo: Ilan Adler)More than 500 volunteers flocked to a remote bay in New Zealand in response to a devastating mass stranding of pilot whales.

Around 416 pilot whales beached near the base of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay overnight, of which 250 to 300 were already dead when the whales were discovered, the Department of Conservation announced in a Feb. 10 media release.

A witness told The Washington Post that the whales were "crying and sighing" as they lay stranded on the beach.

Friday's incident was the third largest whale stranding ever recorded in New Zealand and the largest known whale stranding in the country since 1985, when 450 were stranded in Auckland, Reuters reported.

Rescuers tried to refloat the remaining cetaceans during high tide on Friday morning but only had partial success. Around 50 whales had swum out of the bay but 80 to 90 had re-stranded on the beach by the afternoon.

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