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ALISON MEARS COHEN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Seedling 0308wrp opt(Photo: Momali)International Women's Day is celebrated each year around the world on March 8. That inaugural date is linked to a women's anti-war protest in Russia known as "Bread and Peace" in the early 1900's. It was quickly replicated around Europe in the following year as women took to the streets, embracing the indisputable connection between hunger and war, expressing solidarity with women's peace movements around the world and advocating for their countries' governments to end armed conflict.

Early on rallies and protests by women were firmly established as a mechanism for building international solidarity around a feminist agenda. And the echoes of that mechanism are still reverberating today, as millions of people around the world took to the streets in January of this year (notably the largest protest in U.S. history) to remind world leaders, especially the newly elected U.S. president, that women's rights are still human rights.

Today, International Women's Day is recognized and celebrated in nearly every country—from villages to cities, from the Global South to the Global North—and has taken on a variety of hues and is realized in a variety of ways—protests, song and dance, conferences, shared meals and conversation and volunteer work.

This March 8, in honor of International Women's Day, women organizers from around the world are amplifying their voices in resistance to the structural forms of violence against the Earth, all forms of life and especially women, as a result of the unmitigated growth of industrial agriculture and international agribusiness.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 06:48

Trump Inspires White Nationalist Tweeters

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fascism 0308wrp(Photo: Nationalists on the march.)How fast is the white nationalist movement in the United States growing? Does its enhanced social media activity aid recruitment or is it more evidence of unhinged disgruntlement? A report from George Washington University's Program on Extremism comparing the use of social media by ISIS and white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups found that despite ISIS's command over social media, with Twitter as its "preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012. Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day."

Twitter accounts of groups such as the American Nazi Party, the National Socialist Movement and other groups, have seen "a sharp increase in followers, from about 3,500 in 2012 to 22,000 in 2016," an Alternative Media Syndicate report pointed out.

AMS also noted that "Donald Trump is a prominent subject among white nationalists on Twitter. According to the study, white nationalist users are 'heavily invested' in the Republican's candidacy. Tweets mentioned Mr. Trump more than other popular topics among the groups." The GWU report also notes that a six-and-a-half hour biographical video on Adolf Hitler, titled "Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told," was one of the most popular pieces of content among white nationalists.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rich Uncle 1946 Cover(Photo: Parker Bros.)America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it's rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here

The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society

These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there's no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation's poorest 90% -- the middle and lower classes, according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman. That's over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich. 

Put another way, the average 1% household took an additional $3 million of our national wealth in one year while education and infrastructure went largely unfunded. 

It Gets Worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS Household Lost $35,000 to the 1%

According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the true middle class is "the group of adults with income between the median and the 90th percentile." This group of 50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each. That's a $35,000 decline in housing and financial assets, with possibly increased debt, for every middle-class household.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Colin 0306wrp opt(Photo: Mike Morbeck)When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year during the playing of the National Anthem before NFL games to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the whole world began paying attention. When news broke that Kaepernick, should he re-sign with the 49ers or sign on with another team, will no longer kneel before games, "the cynics lined up quickly," the San Francisco Chronicle's Al Saracevic recently reported. Regardless of whether or not Kaepernick chooses to kneel, the protests he initiated have had a major impact on our nation.

First, here’s some inside football.

Last year, Kaepernick signed a deal with the 49ers allowing him to opt of his contract, and sign with another team, which he exercised this past Friday. After a sensational start to his career – leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance -- he has not been nearly as productive over the past few seasons, and, coupled with his protest – which was supported by 49er management -- other teams may be reluctant to sign him. The 49ers, now with a new coach, Kyle Shanahan, and new general manager, John Lynch, may decide that no matter how desperately it needs a quarterback -- and it needs one desperately -- Kaepernick's performance on the field, and the spotlight brought on the team by his, and a few teammates’ protests, are too much of a distraction. 

The “distraction” issue, as some of his critics charged, was put to rest this past season, when his 49er teammates voted Kaepernick the prestigious Len Eshmont Award for inspiration and courage. According to the team’s website, the Eshmont Award, is given to the teammate who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team.”

No matter what Kaepernick decides to do -- re-sign with the 49ers, sign on with another team, or hang up his cleats -- the protests definitely sparked a much-needed national conversation. And if he doesn't play another down in his life, Kaepernick has made a significant contribution helping to re-light the fire of activism among athletes; a fire started decades ago by Paul Robeson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Mahmoud Abdul Raouf, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and many others.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FrackOK 0303wrp opt(Photo: Joshua Doubek)Despite a crackdown on wastewater injection volumes, Oklahoma has once again been named the state with the highest risk of human-induced earthquakes, according to new seismicity maps released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Geologists believe that these man-made quakes are triggered by wastewater from oil and gas operations being injected into deep underground wells. These fluids can cause pressure changes to faults and makes them more likely to move.

This process has been blamed for the Sooner State's alarming rise in seismic activity. Between 1980 and 2000, Oklahoma averaged only two earthquakes greater than or equal to magnitude 2.7—the level at which ground shaking can be felt—per year.

But in 2014, the numbers jumped to about 2,500 in 2014, 4,000 in 2015 and 2,500 in 2016.

The USGS said that the decline in 2016 quakes could be due to injection restrictions implemented by the state officials. According to Bloomberg, "State regulators aiming to curb the tremors have imposed new production rules cutting disposal volumes by about 800,000 barrels a day and limiting potential for future disposal by 2 million barrels a day."

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Monsanto 0301wrp opt(Photo: Bluemoose)Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Jess Rowland may have to testify over claims that he covered up evidence that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling herbicide Roundup, could cause cancer.

A federal judge said at a hearing in San Francisco on Monday that he is likely to grant the deposition of Rowland, a key figure named in multi-district cancer lawsuits alleging that Monsanto failed to warn about the cancer risks associated with exposure to glyphosate.

"My reaction is when you consider the relevance of the EPA's reports, and you consider their relevance to this litigation, it seems appropriate to take Jess Rowland's deposition," U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at the hearing.

The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that Rowland had a "highly suspicious" relationship with Monsanto, Bloomberg reported.

Published in Guest Commentary

RHEA SUH OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FTrump 0301wrp opt(Photo: Fibonacci Blue)For all the bewilderment and chaos of President Trump's first month in office, on one point he's been all too clear: He is dead set on destroying the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health, crippling our government's ability to stand up to industrial polluters and shutting down the voice of the people in those actions that most impact our lives.

As early as this week, Trump is expected to escalate this assault with orders that could threaten our waters, public lands and hopes of leaving our children a livable world. He is reportedly poised to direct his administration to rewrite the Clean Power Plan (the single-most important tool we have for cutting the U.S. carbon pollution that's helping to drive climate change), rewrite the Clean Water Rule (putting at risk wetlands and streams that feed drinking water sources for 117 million Americans) and lift the moratorium on new coal leases on our public lands.

And let's be just as clear as to who'll pay the price for this reckless assault on our values and rights: our families, workers, communities and kids. That is not okay.

It's all according to a plan ripped straight out of the playbook of big oil, coal and gas. And, like so much else we've seen from this administration so far, it's built on the sand of state-sponsored deceit.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Bear 0227wrp opt(Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa)The House of Representatives approved a controversial bill to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects wolves, bears, coyotes and other animals on more than 76 million acres of national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The measure was passed 225-193 on Thursday on a mostly party-line vote.

Animal welfare advocates said that the resolution allows trophy hunters to go to den sites to shoot wolf pups, use painful steel-jawed traps to ensnare animals and even chase down grizzlies with aircraft.

The Republican-sponsored legislation was introduced by Alaska Rep. Don Young and was supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a number of hunting groups.

House Joint Resolution 69 (H. J. Res. 69), citing authority under the Congressional Review Act, would rescind U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules enacted in August that are meant to maintain a sustainable population of native Alaskan wildlife.

But on the House floor, Young said his measure was about overturning "illegal" Obama administration rules and ensuring the "right of Alaskans and the right of Alaska to manage all fish and game."

He claimed that special interest groups were spreading "falsehoods" and "propaganda."

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash can only survive through reader support. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and help publish reports and analysis with real integrity and independence!

OKC(Photo: Murrah Federal Building, by Leonard Brakebill)In the little over a month since Donald Trump took the White House, chaos has reigned supreme with executive orders, massive leaks, attacks on the press, a bevy of policy proposals, and the ratcheting up of the level of incidents of domestic hate across the nation. One Trump administration proposal that has slipped by relatively unnoticed has Team Trump signaling that it would de-emphasize combatting homegrown right-wing extremism and terrorism, and totally focus on fanning the flames of fear of Islamic terrorism.

Last week, after hurling ethnic slurs and questioning the immigration status of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two immigrants from India relaxing after work at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, Adam W. Purinton was thrown out of the bar. A short time later, he returned with a vengeance, firing on the two men, killing Kuchibhotia and wounding Madasani, and a 24-year-old man who tried to apprehend Purinton as he fled. "In Washington," The New York Times reported, "White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, rejected any link between Mr. Trump's policy agenda and the shooting, which many Indians believed might have been inspired by the president's harsh tone on immigration."

In early February, it was reported that the Trump administration was seriously considering removing neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the government's counter-extremism program, and concentrating on Islamic terrorists. The possible changes go against recent statistics showing that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents have increased since the first of the year and that over the past year, the number of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have grown. 

"Violent extremist threats come from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists in the United States, as well as international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. Lone offenders or small groups may be radicalized to commit violence at home or attempt to travel overseas to become foreign fighters. The use of the Internet and social media to recruit and radicalize individuals to violence means that conventional approaches are unlikely to identify and disrupt all terrorist plots," reads the current description of the program called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website. 

Published in Guest Commentary

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Migrant 0224wrp opt(Photo: Dorothea Lange)John Steinbeck's novel "Grapes of Wrath." Woody Guthrie's ballad "Deportee." Edward R. Murrow's documentary "Harvest of Shame." Every decade or so, the public is shocked by yet another discovery that migrant farmworkers are being horribly abused by the wealthy masters of the corporate food system. And here we go again.

Last November, the New York Times reported that the workers who grow and harvest the cornucopia of fruit and veggies in the rich fields of California's Salinas Valley live in a constant crisis of poverty, malnutrition and homelessness. Toiling in "America's salad bowl," they literally cannot afford to eat the fresh, nutritious edibles they produce.

The Valley is a gold mine of groceries, generating billions of dollars in sales that have enriched landowners and corporate executives and turned Salinas Valley into farm country with Silicon Valley prices. Unable to afford good food, the workers eat poorly — 85 percent are overweight or obese, and nearly six out of 10 have been diagnosed with diabetes (while many more, uninsured and unable to afford testing, go undiagnosed). Especially appalling, about a third of elementary schoolchildren in the Salinas City district are homeless. They sleep with their families in tents, abandoned buildings, tool sheds, chicken coops, or on the ground, next to the rows of crops they tend.

Allowing such abject poverty in our fields of abundance is more than shameful — it's an oozing sore on our national soul, made even more immoral by the fact that our society throws 40 percent of our food into the garbage. But outrageous treatment of farmworkers is not limited to Salinas — you can likely find it down some rural road near you. When we find it, let's act on it. Yes, donate money and time to food banks, but it's even more important for us to join with farmworkers in local, state, and national political actions to STOP this gross, un-American inequity.

Published in Guest Commentary
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