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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AIPACtrump 0321wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)When Donald J. Trump takes the stage at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, he’ll have lots of ‘splaining to do. In addition to support Trump is receiving from the likes of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and an assortment of white nationalists, Mediaite’s Josh Feldman recently reported on numerous anti-Semitic incidents at Trump campaign rallies including someone making a Nazi salute, a man who shouted at someone to “go to fucking Auschwitz,” and “the pastor at a Trump event who said that Bernie Sanders needs a come-to-Jesus moment.”

If protests erupt when he speaks will he start shouting “Get them out of here, get them out,” or “Go home to your mommy?” Will he urge audience members to “Take them outta here on a stretcher?” Will he tell the crowd he’ll pay their legal fees if anyone clocks a protester?

There’s a good chance a number of rabbis and Jewish organizations will stage some kind of protest – either inside or outside of the event -- and there is equally a good chance that Trump will not only profess his great love for Israel, and maybe even say something like “I love Israel and I will help make U.S.-Israeli relations great again,” and “I guarantee it will be the best relations ever.”

Theirs is also a good chance that Trump will attempt to detoxify himself and walk back remarks he’s made about being neutral on the issue of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Union of Reform Judaism recently issued a statement maintaining that Trump’s views are the antithesis of Jewish values, as he has "chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic."

Published in Guest Commentary

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AntarcticCrack 0318wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)NASA scientists fear that a growing crack in the Nansen Ice Shelf may cause it to break free from the Antarctic coast and form a massive iceberg more than twice the size of Manhattan.

“Over the course of two years, a small crack grew large enough to spread across nearly the entire width of the Nansen Ice Shelf,” NASA said in a post last week.

Ice shelves are thick plates of coastline ice that float over the ocean. This particular one, Nansen, measures about 20 miles wide and 30 miles long.

A team of scientists first noticed the crack in 2013, but two NASA scientists Christine Dow and Ryan Walker discovered in December 2015 that the crack had grown substantially. Dow and Walker were visiting the ice shelf to install GPS stations on it to track how it was affected by tides. When they flew over the area, they realized that it was no longer a small crack.

Satellite images taken when Dow and Walker returned confirmed what they saw on the ground.

“There’s a huge crack, miles long and sometimes over a hundred yards wide, which runs more or less parallel to the front of the ice shelf,” Walker wrote in a post in December 2015. “Over the winter, the sea surface freezes and traps small icebergs in the crack, producing a fascinatingly broken icescape.”

Antarctic winter is now setting in, and, as of this month, satellite imagery indicated the ice shelf was still attached. Though winter may not be enough to prevent the shelf from collapsing.

Published in Guest Commentary

DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Water 0316wrp opt(Photo: Water droplet)Earth’s oceans, lakes, rivers and streams are its circulatory system, providing life’s essentials for people, animals and ecosystems. Canada has one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, a quarter of its remaining wetlands and its longest coastline. With this abundance, it’s easy to take water for granted. Many of our daily rituals require its life-giving force. Yet do we recognize our good fortune in having clean, safe water at the turn of a tap?

Not everyone in Canada is so lucky. On any given day, more than 1,000 boil-water advisories are in place across the country. Imagine having to walk to your local church every morning to fill plastic jugs with clean drinking water for your family. Or having to drive to your town’s fire station or community center to collect bottled water. Imagine having to boil water for everything you do at home—cooking, cleaning, washing. This is the sad reality for people who live in communities with boil-water advisories, some for decades at a time.

Water problems are dangerous. In May 2000, bacteria in Walkerton, Ontario’s water supply caused seven deaths and more than 2,300 illnesses. A public inquiry blamed the crisis on flaws in the province’s approval and inspection programs, a “lack of training and expertise” among water-supply operators and government budget cuts.

In 2001, nearly half of North Battleford, Saskatchewan’s 14,000 residents became ill from contaminated water. An inquiry concluded provincial oversight was inadequate and ineffective.

Indigenous communities continue to face a widespread drinking water crisis, with people on First Nations reserves 90 times more likely than other Canadians to lack access to clean water.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

KingDavid 0316wrp opt(Photo: Paris Psalter)Despite being rhetorically chastised a bit by some evangelicals for his support of Donald Trump’s run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell Jr. – the son of the late Moral Majority leader and Liberty University founder, Rev. Jerry Falwell -- is sticking to his guns. There is no doubt that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump surprised many conservative Christian evangelical leaders, as he is one of the few major leaders supporting Trump. Others, including Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Max Lucado, often described as “America’s Pastor,” and the editorial staff of The Christian Post, have consistently criticized Trump. And while Falwell Jr., may be taking the criticism in stride, his wife Becki has lashed out at the critics.

Earlier this month, Becki Falwell posted a “pointed response to her husband’s critics on her Facebook page,” Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt reported. According to Merritt, Becki Falwell’s “comments came … after a prominent member of Liberty’s board of trustees, Mark DeMoss … publicly critique[ed] Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump. DeMoss said he had ‘been concerned for Liberty University for a couple of months now, and I’ve held my tongue.’ DeMoss also challenged Falwell Jr’s claim that Trump is similar to the late Jerry Falwell Sr., who DeMoss served as chief of staff for many years.”

Becki Falwell concluded her post by saying: “Jesus was called a friend of publicans and sinners and called the religious elite of his time hypocrites and a generation of vipers. We all need to remember what Jesus said – that he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

(Falwell responded back on Facebook: “Thank you sweetie! Glad you are on my side!”)

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Trump in New Hampshire(Photo: Marc Nozell)If Donald Trump wins the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, and if David S. Bernstein’s calculations are correct, and it will take an overwhelming and unprecedented majority of white male voters to carry him to the White House. In a story for Politico titled “Donald Trump Needs Seven of Ten White Guys,” Bernstein, a contributing editor at Boston Magazine, writes: “If Trump wins the GOP nomination, he will be testing the limits of a strategy that has long haunted the Republican Party. Since the civil-rights era, Republicans have relied heavily on white male voters to overcome a disadvantage among minorities and some subsets of women. Mathematically, that was an easier strategy a half-century ago, when white men dominated the electorate.”

According to Bernstein, Trump would need seven out of ten white male voters to win the presidency. While that number has never been achieved before, judging from who is turning out at Trump rallies – and going to the polls in primaries -- that number might not be as impossible as you might think.

Ever since Team Nixon devised the Southern Strategy, white voters have been the backbone of the Republican Party. As Bernstein points out, “In 1980, when the electorate looked very different than it does today, Ronald Reagan cruised to an easy victory by winning 63 percent of white males, according to exit polls. In 1988, George H.W. Bush took 63 percent of that group in his rout of Michael Dukakis. By 2004, however, winning 62 percent of white men barely got George W. Bush past John Kerry in a squeaker. And eight years later, Romney won 62 percent of white men — and lost to Barack Obama by 3.5 million votes.”

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBuchheitflag(Photo: Inverted US flag)A recent Gallup poll found that less people would vote for a socialist than for an atheist, a Muslim, or an evangelical Christian. Media-numbed Americans still believe that "government is the problem." Yet evidence keeps pouring in that free-market capitalism treats public safety as a profit-killer, dismisses environmental issues as irrelevant to business, and eliminates jobs to please investors.

Reports from the past six months show that the ongoing record of capitalist greed and irresponsibility has plunged to new lows.

1. Mocking Public Health and Safety

It's disturbing enough that Volkswagen and Ford and General Motors and other auto companies rigged emissions tests and took safety shortcuts to save money; and that the Southern California Gas Co. lied about its poisonous sulfur levels; and that Exxon was found to be hiding its own climate change research for four decades; and that tens of thousands of government-subsidized abandoned mines have been left to pollute our waterways.

But Monsanto, which proclaims "We are committed to long-term environmental protection," sued the State of California for trying to protect its citizens from the company's toxic materials.

2. Showing Contempt for Workers

The sharing economy has created companies that promote worker 'independence' while denying them health and retirement benefits, sick pay, overtime pay, and vacation pay. It's not a new capitalist idea. Merck and Out Magazine are among the companies that have "outsourced" employee positions to independent contractor positions, either by a mass layoff or by selling part of the company, after which former employees could be hired back at lower pay and without benefits.

Companies like American Express and AT&T have gone a step further with "individual arbitration" clauses, which effectively prohibit class-action lawsuits, the only economically feasible way for defrauded employees and customers to fight back against corporate malfeasance. Legal expert Brian T. Fitzpatrick explained, "Without a class action, if someone loses $500, they will not be able to do anything about it."

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCorncobs 0311wrp(Photo: Sam Fentress)A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto Co. by the widow of a prominent Cambria, California farmer alleging that Monsanto had known for years that exposure to glyphosate—the main ingredient in the agribusiness giant’s flagship weedkiller Roundup—could cause cancer and other serious illnesses or injuries.

The lawsuit, which seeks wrongful death and punitive damages, was filedtoday in Los Angeles federal court by attorneys Michael Baum, Cynthia Garber and Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of Kennedy & Madonna on behalf of Teri McCall.

Teri McCall claims Roundup caused her husband of 40-years, Anthony Jackson “Jack” McCall, to develop terminal cancer after he used the herbicide on his 20-acre fruit and vegetable farm for nearly 30 years.

According to a press release from the law firms, Jack McCall was admitted to a hospital in September 2015 to treat swollen lymph nodes in his neck. He found out that same day that the swelling was caused by anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare and aggressive version of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Glyphosate, which is the most widely applied pesticide worldwide, was declared as “probably carcinogenic to humans” last March by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The organization also observed that non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other haematopoietic cancers are the cancers most associated with glyphosate exposure.

Published in Guest Commentary

WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBernieClimate(Photo: NASA)The Democratic debate Sunday night discussed important issues to our food and water, including the contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and climate change. The fact that CNN allowed University of Michigan student Sarah Bellaire to ask the candidates whether or not they support fracking—bringing a real discussion about dirty fossil fuels to center stage—shows how large and influential our movement to ban fracking has become.

Bernie Sanders’ concise response after Hillary Clinton‘s long list of “conditions” that must be met in order for her to support fracking was met with thunderous applause: “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.”

Watch here.

While the Obama administration—including Clinton herself as secretary of state—has been a staunch promoter of fracking, touting industry claims about energy security and that it could be a bridge to renewables, a growing movement is forcing Democratic leaders to acknowledge that fracking is bad for our environment and public health and a disaster for our climate.

Published in Guest Commentary

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaOrca(Photo: EcoWatch)Tilikum, the killer whale at the center of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, is in deteriorating health. SeaWorld’s teams are treating him for what they believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs, the company announced on its Facebook page Tuesday.

“We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum’s behavior has become increasingly lethargic, and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate,” the company said.

The 35-year-old male orca is not responding to treatment and “a cure for his illness has not been found,” SeaWorld said.

“Since Tilikum became a part of SeaWorld’s family 23 years ago, he has received the best in marine mammal health care and life enrichment available for killer whales—including a focus on his physical health, mental engagement and social activity with other whales,” SeaWorld said. “Despite the best care available, like all aging animals, he battles chronic health issues that are taking a greater toll as he ages.”

Tilikum, whose name means “friend” in Chinook, was captured from the wild in 1983 at the age of 2, according to Reuters. He came to SeaWorld 23 years ago from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada.

Published in Guest Commentary

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCattle(Photo: EcoWatch)More than 9 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year for meat with global demand skyrocketing. Animal agriculture is putting an ever-increasing strain on world resources, particularly global water supplies, according to VICE’s two-part episode, Meathooked and End of Water, which premieres March 4 at 11 p.m. on HBO.

In Vice’s fifth episode of season 4, Isobel Yeung traveled to feedlots, farms and slaughterhouses to learn where our meat comes from and to uncover its true costs, and Vikram Gandhi traveled to the Central Valley in California and São Paulo, Brazil to find out just how severe the global water crisis has become.

In California’s Central Valley, farmers are quickly depleting the state’s groundwater as the state remains mired in a drought, despite El Niño rains. São Paulo’s drought has become so bad that water in at least one of the area’s reservoirs is below what engineers consider zero, meaning that they have to pipe the remaining water uphill just to get it to the intake pipes.

“Meat production, globally, is an environmental disaster now,” Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, said. “If we try and expand production to reach 9 billion people by 2050, it will be a complete and unthinkable disaster.”

Published in Guest Commentary
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