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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4709584426 90ed99b6f0 zSurplus Humvees are among the army gear given away to police departments through the Pentagon's 1033 program. (AFPMB)

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Last month, The Marshall Project reported:

When you think of a federal sting operation involving weaponry and military gear, the Government Accountability Office doesn’t immediately jump to mind. The office is tasked with auditing other federal agencies to root out fraud and abuse, usually by asking questions and poring over paperwork.

This year, the agency went a little more cowboy. The GAO created a fictitious law enforcement agency — complete with a fake website and a bogus address that traced back to an empty lot — and applied for military-grade equipment from the Department of Defense.

And in less than a week, they got it.

The equipment was obtained, according to The Marshall Project, from

the obscure 1033 program, which dates back to the Clinton era. Any equipment the U.S. military was not using — including Humvees, grenades, scuba-diving gear and even marching-band instruments — was available to local cops who could demonstrate a need.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

dojemblemShould we rename the DOJ, the Department of White Nationalists? (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Before the abomination of Trump supporting a neo-Nazi race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, his Department of Justice signaled earlier this month that it was going to put a high priority on achieving a goal of white nationalists: ending affirmative action at colleges and universities.

Such a priority on the part of Department of Justice (DOJ) is consistent with creating a nation that guarantees more white privilege, according to New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb:

[The recent] leak of the Department of Justice memo announcing its plan to mount a legal challenge to affirmative action in university admissions … has the possibly intentional effect of reminding conservatives why they should defend Jeff Sessions from Trump’s attempts to replace him as Attorney General. But its significance extends beyond the factional G.O.P. infighting. The memo became public one day before Trump’s endorsement of a Senate bill that would curb legal immigration to the United States. (At a press briefing, Stephen Miller explained the move in terms that recalled the language of the racialist Immigration Act of 1924.) These two initiatives, along with the constant talk of building a border wall and the Administration’s fulminations about trade deficits, point to an over-all endeavor to create a kind of racial protectionism, to socially engineer a world in which whites -- the unheralded disadvantaged class in America -- once again have a deck stacked in their own favor.

The DOJ, according to The New York Times, is going to aggressively investigate and suppress affirmative action through a special unit devoted to the project.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

roberteleeparkRobert E. Lee statue that hopefully will be removed from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo: Bob Mical)

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Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." If morality bends toward justice, it was perverted by rioting white nationalists brandishing tiki torches in defense of a Robert E. Lee statue and white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Tuesday, August 15, Donald Trump returned to where he had started on Saturday, blaming "both sides ... many sides" for the deaths and injuries in and surrounding Emancipation Park, where the Lee statue is located. According to the Tuesday news conference transcript, Trump extended the false equivalency of blame for the violence even further than on Saturday, saying:

You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent…. No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now....

What about the alt-left that came charging at ‘em. Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Not only did he manufacture acts of violence from those who were peacefully protesting racism and white supremacy, he also created a term that he will now likely use -- along with his white nationalist allies: "the alt-left." This will facilitate the media's tendency to report from a perspective of false equivalencies. "There are two sides to every story," many news producers and editors argue. Now Trump has made it easy for the press to describe alt-right and alt-left forces "clashing" at white nationalist mob actions.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

childmindThe United States is not caring for all of its children. (Photo: Todd Huffman)

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Question One. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent or 46 million people are living in poverty in the US. How many of those people living in poverty are children?

 

A. 4 million

B. 8 million

C. 12 million

D. 14 million

 

Question Two. What percentage of children live in a poor family in the US?

 

A. 5 percent

B. 10 percent

C. 15 percent

D. 20 percent

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

nycsubwayWhy shouldn't the rich be taxed to improve public transportation? (Photo: Josh Hallett)

When Elizabeth Warren was running for her Massachusetts Senate seat in 2012, she made the telling point that corporations are subsidized by government services. They benefit from public education, highways and other government-run programs, while also securing tax breaks. In urban areas, one of the most significant government financial outlays that aids businesses is mass transit, which is paid for by the public through tax expenditures and user fees. In significant-size cities, private enterprise would be dramatically curtailed if public transportation became unreliable and insufficient.

New York City, which is highly dependent upon its public train system, is currently experiencing a breakdown of its subway infrastructure, including mechanical failures and power outages, among other serious problems. These issues have developed after many years of deficient funding for repairs. As a result, riders are not infrequently facing long delays in getting to and from work.

New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has an idea for a long-term boost to the ailing mass transit system. According to NBC Channel 4 in New York,

The mayor of New York City wants to tax the wealthiest 1 percent to fund repairs and improvements to the beleaguered subway system….

"Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn't exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement," de Blasio said in a statement Sunday. 

The tax would increase the top income tax rate from about 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for married couples who make more than $1 million and individuals making more than $500,000, city officials said. It would affect about 32,000 of New Yorkers filing taxes in the city, or just less than 1 percent, officials said.

"Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra," de Blasio said.

De Blasio says the plan would generate about $800 million a year.

 

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

guamcoatofarmsGuam is at the center of a nuclear standoff, but its US citizens cannot even vote for president. (Photo: Seal of Guam)

Guam made worldwide news on Wednesday when North Korea threatened to envelop it in fire in response to Donald Trump's threat to attack North Korea with "fire and fury." Guam is a US territory that serves as a massive military base. It has about 160,000 US residents who are American citizens. However, even though they are currently the focus of North Korea's destructive missile threats, people born on Guam are not able to vote in US presidential elections unless they move to a US state.

Thus, even though Guam may today be ground zero for a US nuclear standoff, its people have no say in electing a president who may make the decision to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on North Korea. In turn, North Korea is threatening a return nuclear strike on Guam.

According to an August 9 article in the Los Angeles Times,

It wasn't the first time the island has been on the receiving end of Pyongyang's threats. There was similarly ominous talk from North Korea in 2013, making specific note that Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, among other Pacific territories, lay within target range.

Still, many residents were worried about the unpredictability of North Korea's leader, and by the warnings of "enveloping fire" emanating from Kim's capital.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

sleepapneatrainUnder the Trump administration, riding a train could be lethal. (Photo: lOaD sToNe0

When you ride a train, be aware that, due to the Trump administration rolling back a key regulation, that a train may be operated by a drowsy engineer who could fall asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, this life-threatening action received little coverage, and was largely drowned out by the ongoing Trump farces. The Associated Press reported yesterday:

U.S. officials are abandoning plans to require sleep apnea screening for truck drivers and train engineers, a decision that safety experts say puts millions of lives at risk.

The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said late last week that they are no longer pursuing the regulation that would require testing for the fatigue-inducing disorder that's been blamed for deadly rail crashes in New York City and New Jersey and several highway crashes.

The agencies argue that it should be up to railroads and trucking companies to decide whether to test employees. One railroad that does test, Metro-North in the New York City suburbs, found that 11.6 percent of its engineers have sleep apnea.

The article noted the real risks of allowing trains to be driven by sleep-deprived drivers.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

evangelicalberkThe evangelicals cannot get enough of Trump. (Photo: cthoyes)

Neither daily lies, hyperbolic rhetoric, wild tweeting, the Russian scandal, politicizing the Boy Scouts, nor endless White House chaos, has dissuaded Donald Trump’s ultra-loyal conservative Christian evangelical from wholeheartedly embracing the president. As Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin recently pointed out, Christian conservatives "have not let religion or values get in the way of their support."

These days, the president’s Christian base are one heck of a happy bunch: Tony Perkins, head of the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, has been a guest at the White House so many times, he might just as well move in; Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, claims he has found the fighter he has been yearning for; and, for Richard Land, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, it’s all about "unprecedented access" and having an "impact on policy."

Last month, about two dozen evangelical leaders, including Perkins, Land, Reed, mega-church preacher John Hagee, "prosperity gospel" preacher and longtime Trump ally Paula White, Gary Bauer, Robert Jeffress, Rodney Howard-Browne, Land, and Tony Suarez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, prayed with Trump during a day-long "listening session" with the Office of Public Liaison. Johnnie Moore, a former senior vice-president at Liberty University, told CBN News that "It shows a substantive relationship between the evangelical community and this administration."

Over the past several weeks, Trump has been feeding his conservative base what they want: an aggressive re-launching of the culture wars. "We’re under siege. You understand that," Trump told the audience at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering in Washington. "But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

medicareforallMedicare-for-All may be closer than many persons think. (Photo: Molly Adams)

Before the establishment of Medicare, many persons more than 65 years of age who weren't wealthy dealt with a harrowing reality. When they became seriously ill or required a costly procedure, they possibly faced bankruptcy due to lack of health insurance or high deductibles and co-pays. Many also confronted having to go without health care because of costs, sometimes leading to a painful death because of the exorbitant price of medical care without insurance. In fact, the lack of a government health insurance program for the elderly led to seniors being among the poorest age groups in the nation.

This past Sunday, Medicare celebrated its 52nd anniversary. National health care coverage in the United States for seniors had been an elusive goal until the program was launched in 1965. For years, efforts to pass Medicare were thwarted by charges that we still hear today against the Affordable Care Act and proposals for single-payer health care. Government health care insurance for the elderly was called "communist" medicine and accused of being "un-American." Despite his ability to get Social Security enacted in 1935 and launch other government-administered New Deal programs, President Franklin Roosevelt was not able to overcome vigorous opposition to government health coverage for seniors, and was unable to get it passed out of Congress.

It took the determined and wily President Lyndon Baines Johnson, in the post-Kennedy assassination environment, to persuade both houses of Congress to make Medicare -- long a seemingly impossible dream of many advocates -- a reality.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

scalesofjustice33The scales of justice are tipping conservative due to the GOP's fast-paced Senate confirmations of federal judges. (Photo: Chris Potter)

Ever since I founded BuzzFlash in 2000, I have written occasional commentaries on how the Republicans are equally tenacious in appointing right-wing federal judges when they control the Senate process as they are in opposing liberal or moderate nominees when there is a Democratic president.

One can point to the nixing of the Merrick Garland appointment to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) under Obama as an example of GOP obstructionism. With Mitch McConnell as the coordinator of the effort, no hearings were even held on Garland and only a few courtesy calls with a few Republican senators were allowed. Garland, Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is regarded as a moderate and respected by the likes of arch-conservative Orrin Hatch.

However, the Democrats did not shine a spotlight on the unfairness of the Republicans, which led to what would have been Garland's seat going to ultra-right-wing jurist Neil Gorsuch, who was fast-tracked to the SCOTUS in the first months of the Trump administration.

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