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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july11 trumphope(Image: DonkeyHotey)

She tried to deliver a knockout rebuke to Pope Francis when he questioned Donald Trump’s Christianity for wanting to build his great wall on the border; she tackled Corey Lewandowski’s manhandling of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, when he was still a member of Team Trump, characterizing Fields as a "lying attention hound"; she zigged and zagged her way around trying to explain "The " multifarious positions on abortion. The she in question is Hope Hicks.

Who is Hope Hicks and how did the twenty-seven-year-old political newbie become Donald Trump’s chief gatekeeper?

Here’s what we’ve stitched together from some determined reporting about the Greenwich, Connecticut-raised Ms. Hicks, who, outside of Trump’s kids, is the only young woman in his inner circle.

A few months back, Olivia Nuzzi, writing for GQ, made an appointment to see Hicks, hoping for a one-on-one interview with Hicks, who she dubbed Donald Trump’s “accidental” press secretary. She met Hicks, but instead of an interview with her, Nuzzi got a sit-down with The Donald himself. Hicks, who was in the room was noticeably silent.

While Hicks sat quietly, Trump was effusive in his praise, telling Nuzzi: "[S]he was able to build political experience quickly. She was very natural. She was very natural when it comes to picking it up, and a lot of people can't pick it up, because it's so fast-moving. It's faster-moving than anything else."

As Michael Sebastian pointed out recently at Cosmopolitan.com, “Although her name appears in the media often, [Hope] Hicks has kept a very low profile during the campaign, scrubbing her public social media profile and staying away from stories written about her."

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july11 filthyrichAre the wealthy sowing the seeds of their own self-destruction?  (Photo: Duncan C)

Perhaps they believe that their underground survival bunkers with bullet-resistant doors and geothermal power and anti-chemical air filters and infrared surveillance devices and pepper spray detonators will sustain them for two or three generations.

Perhaps they feel immune from the killings in the streets, for they rarely venture into the streets anymore. They don't care about the great masses of ordinary people, nor do they think they need us.

Or do they? There are a number of ways that the super-rich, because of their greed and lack of empathy for others, may be hastening their own demise, while taking the rest of us with them.


1. Pandemic (Because of Their Disdain for Global Health)

"A year ago the world was in a panic over Ebola. Now it’s Zika at the gate. When will it end?" -- Public health expert Dr. Ali Khan.

It could end with a global pandemic that spreads with the speed of the 1918 Spanish Flu, but with a virulence that kills over half of us, rich and poor alike. Vanderbilt University's Dr. William Schaffner warned us a decade ago, "You've got to really invest vast resources right now to protect us from a pandemic." Added infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Baum, "There's nobody making vaccines anymore because the profitability is low and the liability is high."

The flu is just one of our worries. It has been estimated that less than 10 percent of the budget for health research is spent on diseases that cause 90 percent of the world's illnesses. According to a study in The Lancet, of the 336 new drugs developed in the first decade of this century, only four of them were for diseases impacting third-world peoples. World Health Organization director Margaret Chan lamented the long decades of disregard for the African-centered effects of the Ebola virus: "Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay."

The super-rich had better make sure their anti-chemical air filters are also anti-viral.

GWENDOLYN WU OF TAKEPART ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Styrofoam 0708wrp opt(Photo: Acdx)San Francisco residents will soon have to drink their to-go cups of coffee out of something else, because those soft Styrofoam cups will be no more.

The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ban last week on the sale of polystyrene foam, popularly known by the trademarked name Styrofoam. Foam packing, cups and mooring buoys will be prohibited starting Jan. 1, 2017.

"I just passed the toughest anti-Styrofoam law in the country and we did it unanimously," Board of Supervisors President London Breed wrote on her Facebook page after the vote. "This is a huge step for our environment and health. San Francisco is on our way to leading the country on environmental policy—again!"

Breed spearheaded the latest ban, extending a 2006 ordinance that ordered prepared-food merchants to stop using all polystyrene containers. Plastic foam products for crafts and insulation will not be affected by the ban.

"The reason why this was passed is that it's not practically recyclable, causes a unique harm in the environment and there were better alternatives," Jack Macy, commercial zero waste senior coordinator for San Francisco's Department of the Environment, told TakePart.

Polystyrene disintegrates slowly in landfills, taking centuries to break down entirely. There are a few polystyrene recycling centers in San Francisco, such as GreenCitizen and Recology, but they can only make a small dent in the 25 billion polystyrene to-go cups Americans throw away annually.

Algae blooms in Lake Erie(Photo: NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and other herbicides, is being connected to Lake Erie's troubling algae blooms, which has fouled drinking water and suffocated and killed marine life in recent years.

Phosphorus -- attributed to farm runoff carried by the Maumee River -- has long been identified as a leading culprit feeding the excessive blooms in the western Lake Erie basin. Now, according to a new study from chemistry professor Christopher Spiese, a significant correlation has been established between the increased use of glyphosate to the percentage of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) in the runoff.

Thursday, 07 July 2016 07:07

The Illusion of Security

image 2016 07 07(Photo: Gerard Van der Leun)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Please be gentle."

The story is too easy to believe. At the Memphis airport, a confused, nervous teenager sets off the metal detector -- possibly because she has sequins on her shirt -- and is told she needs to come to a "sterile area." Armed guards show up to escort her. She's terrified.

This happened a year ago. The girl, then 18, is Hannah Cohen. She was flying -- at least that was the idea -- back to Chattanooga with her mother, Shirley Cohen, who had just passed through the checkpoint and was waiting for Hannah when, according to a lawsuit the family recently filed, a TSA horror story began.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 14:26

Zero-Waste Markets Hit the US

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fillery 0706wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Zero-waste markets are coming to the U.S. While very popular in Europe, this trend in grocery shopping isn’t as well known in North America.

The Fillery, brainchild of Sarah Metz, is “a place where one fills empty containers with goods, such as grains, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, spices, oils and the like,” according to the shop’s KickStarter page. Customers can bring their own reusable containers to the shop or purchase compostable ones to place their products in.

“We aim to improve the health of our community in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and the environment by offering alternatives to the plastic entombed, chemical laden options which are ubiquitous in both pantries and landfills worldwide,” reads the KickStarter page.

Metz’s motivation for The Fillery came after a self-realization, she wrote in her KickStarter bio.

After lots of experimenting with recipes from my extensive library of cookbooks (thanks, mom!), I’ve acquired a cabinet full of ingredients that will likely go bad before I finish them. A few days ago, I counted 10 types of flour in my cupboard. I see at least four problems with this: 1. food waste is a huge problem. 2. packaging waste is a huge problem 3. it is expensive, and 4. it takes up too much space in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Combine this with my frustration in trying to find conscientiously sourced, responsibly packaged, healthy groceries nearby, and you have my motivation for The Fillery.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Prison 0606wrp(Photo: Andreas Bohnenstengel)Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE) and 8 individuals filed a class action voting rights challenge for 70,000 people in Louisiana saying they are illegally prohibited from voting. The VOTE suit charges that the Louisiana legislature wrongfully and unconstitutionally passed a law disallowing people convicted of felonies from voting if they are on probation or parole. 

VOTE’s suit points out that the Louisiana Constitution only prohibits people who are “under an order of imprisonment” from voting and that this was intended only to prohibit people actually in prison or escapees from voting. The VOTE suit further notes that the Louisiana state constitutional convention voted down an attempt to restrict voting for people on probation.  

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 70,000 people in Louisiana who are probation or parole. The US Department of Justice reports over 41,000 people in Louisiana are on probation and over 27,000 are on parole. It was filed in Baton Rouge and names the State of Louisiana, the Governor and the Secretary of State as defendants.

VOTE is an organization that began in 1987 as the Angola Special Civics Project, a group at the Louisiana Penitentiary run by prisoners who had become paralegals. VOTE, now run by Norris Henderson, was officially created in 2003 when it focused on voter registration for pre-trial detainees and people convicted of misdemeanors. Henderson is a nationally recognized expert in human rights for prisoners and ex-offenders.   

VOTE has registered thousands of people to vote. It educates the public about the collateral consequences of convictions that inhibit successful reentry. VOTE has partnered with Tulane Medical School to provide medical care for people leaving prison and has partnered with other organizations to win several recent victories including Ban the Box and a new public housing policy.

image 2016 07 05 1(Photo: Roberto Raimondo)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The concept of "freedom" is at the very least ambiguous, and, at the most, destructive to those being deceived by false patriotism. The people who benefit from the uncontrolled pursuit of money push the concept of individual freedom on the rest of us, making us feel unpatriotic if we disagree. "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself," once blathered Milton Friedman, whose economic theories made America the most unequal developed nation. However we interpret the concept, we may not be as "free" as we're led to believe. 

Is Our Nation Really "Free"? 

According to the watchdog organization Freedom House, in terms of political and civil liberties the U.S. is tied for 44th freest country, after UK, Chile, Japan, Portugal, and most of the Scandinavian nations. The organization's 2016 synopsis states: "The United States received a downward trend arrow because of the cumulative impact of flaws in the electoral system, a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process, legislative gridlock, the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of racial discrimination and other dysfunctions in the criminal justice system."

image 2016 07 05(Photo: Gage Skidmore)ELLIOT D. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted an image of a red Star of David next to a picture of Hillary Clinton with hundred dollar bills in the background, with the caption "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" superimposed on the Star of David. A few hours later, amid strong condemnation from social media respondents, Trump deleted the image and reposted the same image except with a circle replacing the original Star of David. Unequivocally, the message is that Clinton is in the pocket of rich Jews, a stereotypical image that was harnessed by Hitler himself to build a "justification" for sending millions of Jews to their slaughter. So where was the media in covering the story? Unfortunately, the great corporate watchdog has sanitized the story, having failed to learn from history.

During the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power, the U.S. media helped to paint a positive image of this demagogue. Not unlike corporate media’s soft pedaling of Trump, coverage of Hitler's campaign played up the support he had from the German people, based on the numbers attending his campaign speeches, while playing down his hateful demagoguery. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, an article appeared in the New York Times stating, "There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt -- the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler." The Christian Monitor even touted the virtues of Nazism, proclaiming that it had a "capacity for organization unequaled in our times by any except the Bolshevik leaders."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

2016July1 monsantoroundupIs Monsanto's roundup causing cancer in humans? (Photo: SAIF*ANU)

Monsanto has been staring down an increasing number of cancer lawsuits ever since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) infamously classified Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015.

One such plaintiff, Yolanda Mendoza, is now speaking out about her personal injury and product liability lawsuit against the chemical titan.

Three years ago, Mendoza was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was only in her mid-thirties. When asked how she felt about the worrisome diagnosis, she recalled to CBS News, “[I felt] that I ­­was going to die. I had only like a few days.”

The mother of three explained to CBS that she would walk around her one-acre property with a backpack sprayer containing the controversial weedkiller and believes the product led to her illness.

After a five-month battle with the disease and intense chemotherapy, Mendoza’s cancer is in remission. But she now finds herself facing another giant: Monsanto.

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