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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july22 trumpauthThe triumph of authoritarianism and scapegoating in Cleveland. (Photo: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera )

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Donald Trump asserted in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination that only he can "fix" the violence and terrorism that he says is threatening individuals in the United States. His campaign has largely been based on inciting fear of "the other" among white Americans. Now that he has lit that fire among his supporters and unleashed a hideous bonfire of hate, he is positioning himself as the authoritarian (just call it fascist) solution to the frenzied fear that he has created among his supporters.

In his remarks in Cleveland (see transcript here) Trumped promised:

I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.

The Guardian US observed, as have other news sites and journalists, that Trump is bringing back the Nixonian "law and order" code wording for keeping the nation white through hyper-aggressive policing:

In his warnings of “crime and violence” and his solemn pledge that “I am the law and order candidate," Trump sounded notes eerily similar to Richard Nixon’s campaign rhetoric in 1968.

Then, in the aftermath of consecutive summers of widespread riots across the US, Nixon ran as the candidate of “law and order...."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july20 trumpcolonialThe coronation of Trump as GOP nominee for president has its origins in white settler colonialism. (Photo: Kl801)

BuzzFlash isn't funded by ads or subscription revenue, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain us by making a tax-deductible donation now?

A 21st-century white self-proclaimed billionaire became the official 2016 presidential nominee of the Republican party on Tuesday night. Pundits have relentlessly speculated about how it came to be that a candidate so brazen in his misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, foreign policy ignorance and factlessness could succeed in obtaining the Republican nod to run for president.

There are many factors that resulted in the Trump nomination -- including the savvy use of his celebrity status and understanding of contemporary television (combined with Twitter) as an entertainment medium -- but the fact is, he is a racist carnival barker, and his racism is at the center of his rise to the pinnacle of leadership in the Grand White Party.

I was listening to the Thom Hartmann Program a couple of weeks ago. Hartmann, as I recall, had a guest on who referred to Trump's use of a technique mastered by Dick Nixon, known by the acronym FIBS. FIBS stands for a political strategy based on fear, ignorance, bigotry and sneering. That about sums up Trump, doesn't it?

However, if you had to take one element of "FIBS" and identify it as the key to Trump being crowned the GOP presidential nominee, "bigotry" would lead the list by a long stretch. Of course, bigotry evokes and is reinforced by fear, ignorance and sneering. Still, the pedestal upon which Trump's triumph rests is raw, seething, hateful racism.

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

2016july17 powerofattorney2

Photo courtesy of Ecowatch

Malta has begun the process of banning glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.

Malta—the only country to actively vote against the extension of the chemical's use—has already seen 25 localities ban the substance. It would be the first EU country to ban glyphosate nationwide. Though, France is currently considering their own ban.

"Malta's position remains against the use of glyphosate and Malta voted against it without reservations," an environmental ministry spokeswoman told the Times of Malta.

Glyphosate was named a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. Since WHO's ruling, the EU has been divided on the subjects of glyphosate's use and safety. Reports from several agencies have added more confusion in respect to the impacts of glyphosate.

A November 2015 report compiled by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans." Another study conducted by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the WHO's Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) in May 2016 backed EFSA's finding.

The various studies used different criteria for the risk assessment connected to glyphosate. A general consensus on the weed-killing chemical has not been achieved.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july15 cabbagesCabbages. (Photo: Mike Licht)

On Wednesday, I wrote that "while hunger and poverty persist in the US, half of the edible food is thrown away." That's a shocking statistic for a nation that still indulges in the self-congratulatory -- but obviously false -- myth of being the land of plenty. Those who go hungry in the United States could likely be fed with the overwhelming amount of crops, produce and restaurant food that is thrown away and left to rot. It is a stunning statistic, exemplifying both indifference and social injustice. Over the years, we have even discussed how some cities have taken a punitive attitude toward feeding the homeless, including arresting people who distribute food to those without shelter.

One group concerned about the pressing issue of feeding the hungry -- Food Not Bombs -- is making a dent in the waste of much-needed food through creative redistribution, explaining:

We arrange the collection of produce, bread and other food that can't be sold from grocery stores, bakeries, and produce markets. They put this food to the side and we pick it up at a scheduled time. This way, we build personal relationships with local food providers and are able to collect larger amounts of better quality food with more regularity.

Over the years, Food Not Bombs has been repeatedly harassed by police in a number of cities, including San Francisco, for providing free food to the homeless.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016July14 socsecurekidsSocial Security offers a safety net component for many children. (Image; Chris Potter)

The Center for Global Policy Solutions -- a think tank focusing on vulnerable populations in the US --issued a report this week, "Overlooked but Not Forgotten: Social Security Lifts Millions More Children Out of Poverty." It reconfirms the important role that Social Security plays in reducing childhood impoverishment. The executive summary of the report, which was released on January 12, confirms that Social Security is not only an economic necessity for many seniors, but it is also a critical support for more than 3 million children:

Social Security’s role in lifting millions of Americans out of poverty has been widely documented. However, the national focus on the program’s income assistance for senior citizens has obscured the fact that Social Security is also one of the federal government’s largest antipoverty programs for children. It serves more children than such discretionary programs as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

In 2014, there were 3.2 million children under age 18 directly receiving Social Security income benefits either as the surviving dependent of a parent or guardian who had died, the dependent of a disabled worker, or the dependent of a retiree. Many of these children come from the nation’s most economically vulnerable households. As a result, Social Security is often the only financial safeguard protecting them from the harmful effects of poverty.

Yet, the number of children benefitting from Social Security is commonly underestimated. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the Social Security Administration’s Annual Statistical Supplement, this paper demonstrates an undercount in the number of Social Security beneficiaries under age 18. In fact, when children who are not direct beneficiaries but live in extended families that receive Social Security are added to the official figure, the number of children who benefit from the program doubles to 6.4 million. This represents 9 percent of all U.S. children under the age of 18 and 11 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries.

The report also confirms that despite conservative efforts to reduce and privatize the Social Security program, the number of children who benefit from Social Security has fortunately increased.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july13 rottingfoodInstead of letting so much food rot in the US, why don't we feed people who need it? (Photo: Steven Depolo)

The World Hunger Education Service offers a number of revealing details about food insecurity in the United States:

In 2014, 14.0 percent of households (17.5 million households, approximately one in seven), were food insecure....

In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security....

Children were food insecure at times during the year in 9.4 percent of households with children. These 3.7 million households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children....

Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households....

To provide some context, according to Poverty USA, the poverty rate in 2014 was worse than the poverty rate prior to the 2008 economic collapse.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july11 trumphope(Image: DonkeyHotey)

She tried to deliver a knockout rebuke to Pope Francis when he questioned Donald Trump’s Christianity for wanting to build his great wall on the border; she tackled Corey Lewandowski’s manhandling of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, when he was still a member of Team Trump, characterizing Fields as a "lying attention hound"; she zigged and zagged her way around trying to explain "The " multifarious positions on abortion. The she in question is Hope Hicks.

Who is Hope Hicks and how did the twenty-seven-year-old political newbie become Donald Trump’s chief gatekeeper?

Here’s what we’ve stitched together from some determined reporting about the Greenwich, Connecticut-raised Ms. Hicks, who, outside of Trump’s kids, is the only young woman in his inner circle.

A few months back, Olivia Nuzzi, writing for GQ, made an appointment to see Hicks, hoping for a one-on-one interview with Hicks, who she dubbed Donald Trump’s “accidental” press secretary. She met Hicks, but instead of an interview with her, Nuzzi got a sit-down with The Donald himself. Hicks, who was in the room was noticeably silent.

While Hicks sat quietly, Trump was effusive in his praise, telling Nuzzi: "[S]he was able to build political experience quickly. She was very natural. She was very natural when it comes to picking it up, and a lot of people can't pick it up, because it's so fast-moving. It's faster-moving than anything else."

As Michael Sebastian pointed out recently at Cosmopolitan.com, “Although her name appears in the media often, [Hope] Hicks has kept a very low profile during the campaign, scrubbing her public social media profile and staying away from stories written about her."

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july11 filthyrichAre the wealthy sowing the seeds of their own self-destruction?  (Photo: Duncan C)

Perhaps they believe that their underground survival bunkers with bullet-resistant doors and geothermal power and anti-chemical air filters and infrared surveillance devices and pepper spray detonators will sustain them for two or three generations.

Perhaps they feel immune from the killings in the streets, for they rarely venture into the streets anymore. They don't care about the great masses of ordinary people, nor do they think they need us.

Or do they? There are a number of ways that the super-rich, because of their greed and lack of empathy for others, may be hastening their own demise, while taking the rest of us with them.


1. Pandemic (Because of Their Disdain for Global Health)

"A year ago the world was in a panic over Ebola. Now it’s Zika at the gate. When will it end?" -- Public health expert Dr. Ali Khan.

It could end with a global pandemic that spreads with the speed of the 1918 Spanish Flu, but with a virulence that kills over half of us, rich and poor alike. Vanderbilt University's Dr. William Schaffner warned us a decade ago, "You've got to really invest vast resources right now to protect us from a pandemic." Added infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Baum, "There's nobody making vaccines anymore because the profitability is low and the liability is high."

The flu is just one of our worries. It has been estimated that less than 10 percent of the budget for health research is spent on diseases that cause 90 percent of the world's illnesses. According to a study in The Lancet, of the 336 new drugs developed in the first decade of this century, only four of them were for diseases impacting third-world peoples. World Health Organization director Margaret Chan lamented the long decades of disregard for the African-centered effects of the Ebola virus: "Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay."

The super-rich had better make sure their anti-chemical air filters are also anti-viral.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july homelessvetsVeterans need more housing and assistance. (Photo: Rusty Clark)

At almost any big sporting championship, there's the moment when a baritone announcer becomes solemn, pauses and then introduces a heart-tugging spectacle honoring US military veterans. Usually the crowd roars and waves the flag, feeling a sense of both patriotism and pity for the person, wounded in action, who is brought onto the field. When the presentation is over, however, the rush of jingoistic rhetoric subsides -- as does concern about the fate of individual veterans.

One could argue that such tributes to veterans serve the consciences of those who rely on a voluntary military to assure the continuation of a prosperous lifestyle. These dazzling displays of gratitude, however, do not do much to meet the actual needs of psychologically and physically wounded veterans, as well as those in economic need.

Furthermore, the ephemeral warm and fuzzy feeling sports fans receive for "supporting our troops" by simply responding to a presentation are part of a marketing message. According to a 2015 PBS Newshour report:

The United States Department of Defense paid the National Football League more than $5 million in taxpayer money between 2011 to 2014 to honor U.S. soldiers and veterans at games, an investigation revealed this week.

Nearly $5.4 million was given to 14 NFL teams across the country, the bulk of which ($5.3 million) was supplied by the National Guard and the rest paid by the Army and Air Force, according to government records obtained by NJ.com.

But instead of purely heartfelt salutes to soldiers from hometown football teams, the halftime segments were reportedly part of paid promotions under federal advertising contracts for the military.

One might say the entire unseemly enterprise is more Hollywood production than "heartfelt."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

2016jul7 warnomoreWars are largely fought now to ensure comfort and wealth, not to liberate people. (Photo: micagoto)

In the attacks of 9/11, the US government found the ideal motivating factor to pursue wars across the globe (particularly in the Middle East): fear.

Yes, there were terrorist attacks in the United States. And those attacks were all the more affronting to those in the US because since the Civil War, this country has been largely immune to any attacks on US soil (with a couple of notable exceptions, such as Pearl Harbor). We have come to see ourselves as immune to foreign attack, whether committed by nations or non-state terrorist organizations. Unlike most of the rest of the world, we have not seen our streets and sidewalks crushed by tanks and our cities bombed into rubble.

Meanwhile, according to journalist and researcher Nick Turse, the US is expanding its military action, particularly in low-level intensity conflicts, around the world. Political figures will claim that this military warfare is necessary to protect us from state enemies and terrorists alike. However, the reality is that for the most part, the US conducts war to protect its hegemony over regions of the world that supply it with raw materials, inexpensive labor and lucrative markets for corporations.

One need not look beyond the Middle East to see an example of an entire region that was first colonized by Europe in the early 1900s. The only thing that has changed since then is that the oil-rich region was carved up into nations that are still largely under the hegemonic control of the West. When oil-rich nations such as Iraq or Libya become troublesome to the US, they are "liberated" at the costs of hundreds of thousands of civilians, soldiers and US lives to ensure the ongoing availability of fossil fuel. The "dictators" are replaced with Western-friendly governments installed by the US and nations of the European Union (particularly the UK and France).

Our wars are frequently disguised under the propaganda sloganeering of fighting terrorism and "tyranny." This "sells" much better than portraying the reality of people dying and being displaced in massive numbers to ensure that wealthy people in the West -- particularly in the US -- can continue to enjoy a prosperous lifestyle. Except on rare occasions, we have not actually initiated wars to liberate the oppressed; we have fought to enrich the wealth of those who benefit from the resources that are "liberated" to our control. Western nations don't have to administer colonial governments anymore; they just have to conduct coups, install puppet governments and preserve the appearance of creating independent free nations.

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