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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.”

Published in Guest Commentary

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.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 13 February 2017 06:57

The Five Faces of Dystopia

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BigBro 0213wrp opt(Photo: Борис У.)Based on reliable news sources, his biographer, and his own writings, the most powerful man of his era has been referred to as an "egomaniac" and "narcissist," possessing a "big mouth" with an "impulsive style," unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood, preferring emotion over facts, focused on national greatness and law & order, fearful of "foreignization," prone to coarseness and put-downs in speeches, and fond of "mantralike phrases" filled with "accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future." 

Depravity

The man described above is Adolf Hitler. All of the descriptions were attributed to the Nazi leader: some of it by news media in the 1930s, some of it by modern historian and biographer Volker Ullrich, some of it by Hitler himself in "Mein Kampf." Eerily familiar to the present day. 

Racism

Donald Trump placed a painting of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, apparently feeling pleased that, in his own words, "a lot of people they compare the campaign of Trump with the campaign of [Jackson]." 

Andrew Jackson may have been our most racist president. To him, Native Americans were only 'savages' standing in the way of progress. For ten years Jackson arranged 'treaties' with Indians in the American southeast, setting up his own friends as land agents, traders, and surveyors while encouraging white squatters to take over the land. Eventually recognizing Florida as vital to "national security," he initiated raids on Seminole villages, burning down homes and forcing out residents, all in the name of the "immutable laws of self-defense." The result was a Trail of Tears that led thousands of sick and starving Cherokees across the Mississippi in the middle of winter to unfamiliar and unproductive land far from their home.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bannon 0210wrp opt(Photo: Don Irvine)Just as Karl Rove was often referred to as President George W. Bush’s brain, Steven K. Bannon just may be President Donald Trump’s brain on steroids. Were President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” – aka the Muslim ban -- and the naming of Bannon, his chief strategist, to the National Security Council, indicative of the first stages of a holy war against Islam?

As The Washington Post’s Frances Stead Sellers and David A. Fahrenthold recently pointed out, “Bannon’s past statements, aired primarily on Breitbart and other conservative platforms, serve as a road map for the controversial agenda that has roiled Washington and shaken the global order during Trump’s first two weeks in office.”

In 2014, before Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker, who at the time was the proprietor of the incendiary white-nationalist Brietbart News, became a household name as Trump’s chief political strategist, he told a Vatican-held Christian conference audience that: "We're now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism."

Speaking at the International Conference on Human Dignity -- the third annual meeting organized by the Rome-based Christian organization Dignitatis Humanae Institute – via Skype, Bannon told the gathering: "We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years."

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Dig 0208wrp opt(Photo: US Navy)Monsanto has officially broken ground on a $975 million expansion to its Luling plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The facility will manufacture dicamba, a controversial herbicide used in the company's new XtendiMax weedkiller for GMO soybeans and cotton.

Despite the company's promise to bring 120 new full-time jobs to the area, it seems many locals are unhappy with the project.

Angry online comments have flooded the Times-Picayune's coverage of the Feb. 3 groundbreaking. The newspaper's Facebook post of the story has garnered 433 shares and 114 comments so far, with many people criticizing the new plant as well as the company itself.

"120 jobs isn't worth having this toxic company in your backyard...," the top Facebook comment states. The comment was "Liked" 117 times.

"Diacamba [sic] is bad. California just won the right to label Roundup as cancer causing," a newspaper reader commented. "So excited for Cancer Alley to grow."

Published in Guest Commentary

CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cuffs 0208wrp opt(Photo: Rainerzufall1234)It's staggering to recall that one of Donald Trump's main appeals to many of his voters was a pledge to "drain the swamp" and rid Washington of corruption. In only two weeks he has, instead, begun stocking the swamp with new and poisonous creatures, making it yet more deadly, much as sugar planters did in the Caribbean importing fleur-de-lance and other poisonous snakes to discourage slaves from making new lives for themselves by escaping into the jungle.

Trump's cabinet, of course, may contain as many irreconcilable conflicts of interest as all the cabinets of the 20th century combined. Secretary of State Tillerson cannot do his job without becoming deeply enmeshed in the interest of ExxonMobil. Education Secretary DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Price, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Ross are ensnared with layers of inappropriate investments; Labor Secretary Puzder has made it clear that he wants to use his new position to reduce wages paid by his fast-food companies and only conceded on Feb. 1 that he might have to divest much of his investment portfolio to avoid future conflicts.

Trump's case for himself was "set a thief to catch a thief." He argued that he alone of recent Presidential candidates had been so deeply engaged in manipulating the federal tax code, that he alone knew how to fix it.

Well. If only.

Published in Guest Commentary

STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

WindFarm 0206wrp opt(Photo: Leaflet)Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate voted 32-13 Thursday to expand the state's renewable energy target restoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the measure in May of last year. The bill is now in effect.

The bill increases requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020, increased from 20 percent by 2022. The renewable portfolio standard (RPS), according to the Maryland Climate Coalition, will result in an additional 250 megawatts of solar energy in the state and more than 1,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in the region.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this bill is a big win for Maryland's economy. Wind power relies on a robust American supply chain that consists of 500 factories across 43 states, the wind energy organization touts, with wind energy already providing $380 million of capital investment in Maryland, and wind turbine lease payments generating up to $1 million a year in the state.

"Making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said. "From the Free State's population-hubs to majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses."

Published in Guest Commentary

BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ballot 0206wrp opt(Photo: Rama)Donald Trump's relentless insistence that three million "aliens" voted for Hillary Clinton and cost him a popular majority in November's presidential election cuts far beyond what the corporate media is willing to report. When it comes to undermining democracy in the US, Trump is once again proving that the best defense is a total attack, even if it relies on "alternative facts."

Trump's Big Lie on voter fraud has been as widely scorned as his fantasies about the size of the turnout at his inauguration. Even the normally restrained New York Times has editorialized that "what once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy."

It seems to be dawning on The Times and others that by claiming so many non-citizens voted more than once, Trump re-loads America's Jim Crow lynch laws against Black people voting. Based on these assertions, we can expect more and more aggressive attacks by the administration against the rights of non-whites and non-millionaires to a fair and honest ballot.  

Indeed, the corporate media has not yet faced the devastation of mass disenfranchisement in 2016. As reported by Greg Palast (www.gregpalast.com) and others, some thirty GOP Secretaries of State across the US used a computer program called Crosscheck to strip thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim voters from the registration rolls. These mass disenfranchisements could well have made the difference in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College while so thoroughly losing the popular vote.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pruitt 0203wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have suspended their panel's rules to force through Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The maneuver was made only one day after all 10 Democratic members of the committee announced a boycott over President Donald Trump's EPA pick. The boycott was sparked over their serious concerns of the Oklahoma attorney general's stances on climate change, pollution regulation and unanswered requests to provide official documents or emails that would shed light on his ties to the energy industry.

After temporarily suspending the committee's rules—which requires at least two minority members to meet quorum—committee Republicans unanimously approved Pruitt by a 11-0 vote at a Thursday hearing. This means Pruitt's nomination will go to the full GOP-controlled Senate, where he is likely to be approved.

Committee Democrats have called the move today by their Republican colleagues "irresponsible."

"I am disappointed that our majority has decided to ignore our concerns and those of the American people, and break the committee's rules in an effort to expedite Mr. Pruitt's nomination, but we have to stand our ground in our pursuit of the truth and in fulfillment of our Constitutional duty with respect to nominations," ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE) said in a statement.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FrackWater 0201wrp opt(Photo: Markus Schweiss)Virginia's House of Delegates voted 59-37 on Monday in favor of a bill that would allow fracking companies to keep their chemical cocktails a secret.

HB 1678 states that "chemical ingredient names, the chemical abstracts number for a chemical ingredient, or the amount or concentration of chemicals or ingredients used to stimulate a well" are exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, while fracking is not heavily used in Virginia, some energy companies have shown interest. Texas energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp. has acquired about 86,000 acres of gas and oil leases for Virginia's Taylorsville basin.

The bill was sponsored by Republican delegate Roxann L. Robinson, who introduced a similar bill last year. During Friday's debate of the bill, she argued that "by protecting that actual recipe, it will foster more efficient and more advancements in the fracking industry."

She claimed that HB1678 has since evolved into a "transparency bill" after it was amended to only cover information about chemical concentrations, not the chemicals themselves, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Published in Guest Commentary
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