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DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pipeline 1207wrp(Photo: Oil pipeline)A six-inch crude oil pipeline operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline Company in western North Dakota was shut down following discovery of a leak on Monday. The amount of the spill was not immediately known, but oil has leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County.

The site of the spill is about 200 miles from the camp where members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"It is a significant spill," Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of health, said.

"A series of booms have been placed across the creek to prevent downstream migration and a siphon dam has been constructed four miles downstream of the release point."

The Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. is part of the family-owned True companies, which also operates Bridger Pipeline LLC. Both pipelines are operated from the same control room in Casper, Wyoming. From 2006 to 2014, Belle Fourche reported 21 incidents, leaking a total of 272,832 gallons of oil. Bridger Pipeline recorded nine pipeline incidents in the same period, spilling nearly 11,000 gallons of crude.

"In general, Bridger has a poor compliance history," wrote a federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety in a 2012 order regarding a 2006 oil spill.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 07:40

Jim Hightower: Augustus Trumpus

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Caesar 1207wrp(Photo: Julius Caesar, by Georges Jansoone)All hail Augustus Trumpus! All hail the American Putin, whom none can criticize! All hail the Great All Knowing One, who reveals "realities" that are not there and finds "facts" that mere mortals cannot detect.

Once again, The Amazing Donald has demonstrated his phantasmagoric power of perception, having a new outcome in November's election that others haven't seen. Trump has been greatly perturbed by the official results, which showed that while he won the electoral college majority, he was not the people's choice. Instead, Hillary Clinton won the popular balloting by a margin of more than two million votes. Growing increasingly furious at this affront to his supernatural sense of self, the master of factual flexibility went on Twitter with an amazing revelation: "I won the popular vote," decreed our incoming tweeter in chief!

Wow, how did he turn a two million vote loss into a glorious victory? "I won," he tweeted, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

Wow again! Millions? You'd think such a massive conspiracy — with millions of illegal voters in line at thousands of precincts — would've been noticed by election officials, GOP poll watchers and the media. How did Trump find this truly incredible fact?

Published in Guest Commentary

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

RedState 1205wrp opt(Photo: Angr)I'm still fondly remembering my trip to Disneyland last week and how everyone there was completely unified by one goal (or maybe two): To see how many rides they could go on in one day and how to have the most fun.

America should be so lucky as to be this united with regard to political goals as well.  Politically, Americans are clearly divided along the lines of Red States and Blue States these days.  But there is also a third state in American politics that's never mentioned (except perhaps by those of us being described by the Washington Post as writing "fake news").  And the third state that I'm talking about here is the Deep State.  

But what is different from past American presidential elections (or selections -- in the case of George W. Bush) with regard to the 2016 presidential election is that for the first time since perhaps Truman the Deep State seems to be divided within itself too.  Most of Wall Street and War Street appear to be Clinton cheerleaders -- while the rest of Wall Street and War Street seem to want Trump.

"We like everything Trump's doing," they complain, "but he's just doing it too soon!  America isn't quite ready for our brand of all-out fascism quite yet.  They still need a few years to be programmed and trained."  Or else beat into submission.  "Clinton has the kinder and gentler touch."
Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Robot 1205wrp opt(Photo: FANUC 6-axis welding robots)The simplistic response to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment is that we've experienced this before, during the Industrial Revolution and beyond, and that the "market" will eventually provide plenty of jobs. The reality is that tens of millions of Americans will have to accept food service and retail and personal care jobs that don't pay a living wage.

The Deniers: The Middle Class Has Nothing to Worry About

Optimism is the feeling derived from sources like The Economist, which assures us that "AI will not cause mass unemployment...The 19th-century experience of industrialisation suggests that jobs will be redefined, rather than destroyed.." The Atlantic concurs: "The job market defied doomsayers in those earlier times, and according to the most frequently reported jobs numbers, it has so far done the same in our own time." And even economist Dean Baker scoffs at the tech takeover of jobs: "Large numbers of elite thinkers are running around terrified that we will have millions of people who have no work because the robots have eliminated the need for their labor...The remarkable aspect to the robot story is that it is actually a very old story. We have been seeing workers displaced by technology for centuries, this is what productivity growth is."

Perhaps most significantly for the optimists, the New York Federal Reserve found that since 2013 over two million jobs have been added in transportation, construction, administration, social services, education, protective services and other middle-wage areas.

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 02 December 2016 07:04

Talking the 2016 Post-Election Blues

BRUCE MULKEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sad 1202wrp opt(Photo: Tellmeimok)As I watched the returns start to trickle in on election night with my wife Shonnie and our friend Carolyn, I kept saying, “The votes in the Democratic strongholds obviously haven’t come in yet. It’s just a matter of time before Hillary takes the lead in Florida.” But she didn’t. Not in Florida, nor in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, or Wisconsin. Given that almost all the polls had consistently shown Clinton leading, it was difficult to believe what was happening right before my eyes.

Disconsolate, I went to bed around midnight after it was clear that Donald Trump was on his way to becoming our next president. I woke up around 3:00 a.m. and fumbled around with my Kindle to see if a miracle had taken place, if some of the battleground states had flipped to the Democratic column. They hadn’t.

Let me be clear. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the North Carolina primary when hope was still alive that he could capture the Democratic nomination for president. I supported Sanders because I believed (and still believe) that he understood the necessity of addressing issues such as income inequality, lack of a living wage for many, our two-tiered justice system, institutional racism, the militarization of our police departments, world-wide militarism (800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad), government surveillance of U.S. citizens, and climate change.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fist 1130wrp(Photo: Genusfotografen)When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do?   Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be.  Others stand still, let their eyes get adjusted to the different environment, re-orient themselves, then cautiously and sensitively, move forward.  Some search out people who might be able to show the way.  Post-election, a lot of people are re-assessing and searching for the best way forward.  Here are some ideas on where we should be going and what we should be doing from experienced, thoughtful people who are organizing on the front lines. 

One:  You Were Born for This Time.

My friend, Cherri Foytlin, a mother who lives in rural Louisiana in a deeply Republican area, gives her life organizing to protect our earth, water and the rights of indigenous people.  For that she has been arrested and is subject to death threats.  Right after the election she wrote: “Fear no evil.  Joy and Love still live, and it is up to us to build the shelter for the Hope that they provide.  Lower those pointed fingers, we will need them to grasp the hammer and forge the nails.  Do not give in to your righteous anxieties.  Our heroes have never left us.  All the good that ever was, it is still here.  You were born for this time.” 

Two:  Join Allies.

Marisa Franco, one of the founders of Mijente, calls on Latinos and African Americans to join together with whites who didn’t go for Trump. “No one is going to build it, no one is going to give it to us. Positioning folks like the people in Arizona who built resilience and strength, positioning people who have been survivors to teach others. People in the South, in Arizona have been doing that for years,” she said. “We’ve got to build bridges across communities.”

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 06:56

Betsy DeVos' Plan to Destroy Public Education

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Eraser 1130wrp opt(Photo: Prosavage2600)Betsy DeVos, Present-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Education, has, as Douglas N. Harris recently wrote in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, “sent shock waves through the educational establishment.” And that is probably what Team Trump hoped would happen and continues to happen when DeVos takes office. Several years before being tapped by Trump, Americans United’s Rob Boston observed, “DeVos’ goal is nothing short of a radical re-creation of education in the United States, with tax-supported religious and other private schools replacing the traditional public school system.”

Betsy DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist, a longtime funder of multiple right-wing causes and candidates, and an ardent supporter of school vouchers/charter schools/privatization of public schools.

DeVos, and her brother, Erik Prince – the founder of Blackwater, the private military force that received contract worth billions of dollars from the U.S. government -- are two of the four children of  Elsa Prince Broekhuizen and the late Edgar Prince.

Edgar Prince made his fortune in Prince Automotive, and became one of the primary supporters of numerous Religious Right organizations and causes. Betsy DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, former CEO of Amway/Alticor and Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in a failed bid in 2006.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 28 November 2016 08:08

Understanding This New Age of Fascism

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Nationalism 1128wrp opt(Photo: Maerz1848)Anyone attempting to understand the roots of what is now being called the “alt-right” should run out to your favorite independent bookstore and grab hold of a copy of Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream. Published in 2009, and written by Leonard Zeskind, it remains a seminal history of the white supremacist movement, now being reimagined as the “alt-right.”

"While the white nationalist movement has splintered organizationally over the last few years, it is best to think of this phenomenon as something akin to a broken thermometer, where the mercury continually reconfigures itself into silver beads smaller and larger," Zeskind has written.

Drew S. Days III, Professor of Law, Yale University, and former U.S. Solicitor General called Blood and Politics “not only a brilliant account of the origins, modes of operation, collaborations, and internecine disputes of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denier, and anti-Semitic groups in America, but alerts us to the fact that despite—or perhaps because of—significant improvements in race relations and changing demographic patterns, we are likely to witness a resurgence of their activities.”

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 28 November 2016 06:56

Donald Trump Shatters the Arc of Justice

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpPence 1128wrp opt(Photo: Ali Shaker/VOA)Maybe this much is true. Donald Trump, pseudo-president-elect, loser of the real election, charismatic stump-speech populist whose actual ability to govern may well be non-existent, has inflicted significant damage on America’s political infrastructure.

This is scary, of course, but not necessarily a bad thing. I say this even, or especially, if he manages to assemble a far right, white-nationalist-friendly cabinet and inner circle and start attempting to implement some of the promises he made on the campaign trail. If the Trump pseudo-presidency is “normalized” and we-the-people and the media shrug our shoulders at the rebuilding of Jim Crow Nation — the Wall, the Muslim registry and God knows what happens next — then yes, this is a disaster and moving to Canada is a viable option. But if Trump, instead, is the reincarnation of Bull Connor, someone who makes a dark, hidden ugliness suddenly clear to the public at large, then his rise to power may be the harbinger of profound, positive change.

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe,” abolitionist Theodore Parker wrote more than 150 years ago, prefiguring the words of Martin Luther King. “The arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

But the arc doesn’t bend by itself.

Published in Guest Commentary

JUDY WICKS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

Protectors 1121wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)This Thanksgiving, I'm going to Standing Rock with a delegation of more than 50 people from across the U.S. to cook and serve dinner for 500 Water Protectors, as a small way to give back to Native Americans on our national day of thanks.

Looking back on history, Native Americans saved the lives of newly arrived Europeans in what is now Massachusetts by sharing their harvest in the winter of 1620. The Wampanoag, who had lived in the region for some 12,000 years, taught the settlers to grow native crops. The Wampanoag were not the only tribe to be generous. In the earliest days, many tribes throughout the Americas helped new settlers survive.

The foods the natives shared with settlers were not just growing wild. They were cultivated over many generations by native people who had a deep connection to the land. Today, many vegetables and fruits in our diet were first cultivated by Native Americans, including foods found on the Thanksgiving table—potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and cranberry. The turkey many enjoy on Thanksgiving Day was first domesticated by Native Americans.

Published in Guest Commentary
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