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True help for unemployed miners and other West Virginians would mean tackling climate change head-on, embracing renewable energy and re-training people to work in the emerging industries.  But Trump is a champion only for himself … and his golf courses and hotels.True help for unemployed miners and other West Virginians would mean tackling climate change head-on, embracing renewable energy and re-training people to work in the emerging industries. But Trump is a champion only for himself. (Photo: Matt Johnson)ROB BYERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Earlier this spring, I was asked a question about my late father, who had been a coal miner in the 1970s and ’80s. It had to do with a familiar romantic storyline:  

Did he feel at home underground? Was it a calling that tugged at him during the layoffs, a longing to get back to the job he loved?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Hell, no.

Best I could tell as a kid, he hated it. It was back-breaking, dangerous, cold, dusty, dirty. He did it for the same reason miners do it today – because it was the best-paying job around for a man with a high-school education.

As a coal miner’s son, you might think I would be proud of all the attention miners are getting nowadays from President Trump and the media. You’d be wrong, though. Actually, I find the whole thing pretty demeaning, as the coal miner is used as a political pawn and an excuse to trash the planet.

 When it's state-sanctioned, we rally around it, glorify it, worship it. No matter it produces the same results. No matter it always comes back to haunt us, one way or another.We're not going to bomb evil out of existence or control it with authoritarian laws, travel bans or walls. We're not going to control it by dehumanizing "the other." (Photo: J_P_D)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them . . ."

These words are also part of the geopolitics of murder -- these words of light and hope, alive and pulsing amid the bullet casings, the blood and wreckage, the shattered lives. They were the dying words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, one of the two people stabbed to death last week on a commuter train in Portland, Ore., after they had intervened to stop a man's tirade of racial slurs -- "go back to Saudi Arabia! -- directed at two teenage girls on the train.

As incidents of mass murder -- sometimes called terrorism, sometimes just called, with a shrug, drone strikes or bombing runs -- continue to erupt across the planet and dominate the news, I stroke these words, and the soul of awareness we are so blind to. We're not going to bomb evil out of existence or control it with authoritarian laws, travel bans or walls. We're not going to control it by dehumanizing "the other."


scalesofjustice33In a surprising move, the Supreme Court lets the scales of justice tilt toward voting rights in North Carolina. ( Chris Potter)

In the tumultuous media scrum to cover the feckless showmanship and destructive behavior of Donald Trump, many positive developments on other fronts become lost in the maelstrom of the chronicles of Trumpism. One of those developments was a Supreme Court action on May 15 that let stand the striking down of a draconian North Carolina voter suppression law.

Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, which works to combat racial discrimination, commented on the Supreme Court development in a news release:

The Supreme Court’s move [on May 15] now renders North Carolina’s law null and void, and brings to close a long and protracted battle over a law deemed one of the most egregious voter suppression measures of its kind. We are pleased that the Supreme Court has left in place the 4th Circuit’s decision finding North Carolina’s draconian voter suppression measure unlawful because it discriminated against minority voters with 'almost surgical precision.'

The Lawyer's Committee also provided some background to the law that is now null and void:

The battle over North Carolina’s law reflects the fallout from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder which gut a core provision of the Voting Rights Act.


Whistle 0607wrp optA pea whistle. (Photo: Richard Wheeler)I need one of you to help me. It might get dangerous. It may get us in trouble. But we're running out of time. We must act. It's our patriotic duty.

From the time you opened this letter to the time you get to the bottom of it, there's a decent chance that our president will have violated the constitution, obstructed justice, lied to the American people, encouraged or supported acts of violence or committed some horrible mistake that would've ended any other politician's career (or sent you or I to jail). And just like all the times he's done so in the past, he will get away with it.

Donald Trump thinks he's above the law. He acts like he's the above the law. He's STATED that he's above the law. And by firing Sally Yates, Preet Bharara and James Comey (3 federal officials with SOME authority to hold him accountable) he's taken the first few steps to make it official.

And yet, we keep hearing the same reaction to President Trump that we heard with candidate Trump after every new revelation or screw up: "He's toast!" "He can't survive this!" "He's finished!"

Make no mistake—Donald J. Trump has NO intention of leaving the White House until January 20, 2025. How old will you be in 2025? That's how long he plans to be your president. How much damage will have been done to the country and the world by then?

And that is why we must act.


Pills 0607wrp optVariations on a common tablet design. (Photo: Ragesoss)The just-released Trump fiscal-2018 budget proposal is devastating news for 77 million poor and lower-income Americans. As the third largest domestic program in federal spending (behind Social Security and Medicare), it has been on the chopping block of the Republican agenda for some time. Enacted in 1965, this joint federal-state program has been a crucial part of a safety net for health care over its 52-year history for eligible  children and adults, the blind and disabled, seniors, and about 16 million adults who have gained eligibility since 2010 through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Trump budget would cut Medicaid spending by $834 billion and cover 14 million fewer people by 2026, while giving the wealthiest Americans a $600 billion tax cut, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Federal spending on Medicaid would be phased out through block grants to states, with the expectation that states pick up the slack for their vulnerable populations. The current federal-state share of Medicaid funding varies considerably by state—from 74 percent federal in Mississippi to 50 percent in California and New York.

The recently passed House bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would implement per-capita caps on federal spending on Medicaid in 2020. As an alternative to caps, states could opt to accept block grants any time after 2019, which would give states more flexibility on who would be covered, what services would be provided, and how providers would be compensated. Four Republican governors—from Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio—immediately wrote to House and Senate leaders that “the House bill provides almost no new flexibility for states, does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states.

The AHCA has moved on to the Senate, where many call it dead on arrival. A 13-man working group—no women, despite the AHCA’s one-year cut in funding for Planned Parenthood—has been tasked with crafting the Senate’s own bill. Major controversies will surround such issues as reversal of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion (supported by many Republican governors), possible higher premiums for older Americans, waivers that allow states to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or for such essential benefits as hospital care, contraceptive services and maternity care, work requirements for eligibility, and time limits on coverage.


enduringfreedomUS soldiers patrolling in Afghanistan. (Photo: DVIDSHUB)

We are nearing the 16th year of the Afghan War, which began on October 7, 2001, with the US military invasion of the country. The assault was jingoistically dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom. Today, the longest war in US history still has no end in sight.

Alarmingly, according to the New York Times, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster are urging President Trump to initiate a new surge of troops. This would add thousands more soldiers to the 8,400 who are still currently serving there, should Trump approve the plan.

In a commentary in Consortium News, James W. Carden writes:

In his 2014 book Restraint: A New Foundation for US Strategy, [Barry] Posen correctly observes that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan are "probably unachievable." After all, "despite much US and NATO instruction" Afghanistan’s "military, and police remain poorly trained, inadequately armed, sometimes corrupt, and only intermittently motivated."

What to do? Send in more troops, as per Mattis and McMaster? No: the wisest course of action would be for the U.S. to moderate its goals, which, according to Posen, "means ratcheting down the US counterinsurgency, nation-building project in Afghanistan at the earliest possible time."

Pruitt claims we are making progress on emissions reductions while not acknowledging his 14 lawsuits against the EPA, attempting to undermine that progress.Scott Pruitt claims we are making progress on emissions reductions while not acknowledging his 14 lawsuits against the EPA, attempting to undermine that progress. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Scott Pruitt took to the Sunday shows today in a troubled attempt to spin the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, amid a firestorm of international and domestic criticism.

In his appearances this morning, Pruitt was hammered for admitting that he and Trump never discussed climate change, criticized for his support of the declining coal industry and slammed for dodging questions about Trump's acceptance of climate science. The Trump administration has misrepresented academic studies, the reality of the Green Climate Fund, India and China's commitments, and much more. Distorting everything from climate science to the Sierra Club's own strong support of the Paris agreement, Pruitt's appearances are littered with the same kind of deceit that marked his Senate testimony, where he lied about everything from using personal email for government business to climate science.

Whether by coming together in the People's Climate March or by taking distributed initiatives throughout thousands of communities, the people of this country are demonstrating their demand that we protect our home planet and their resolve to build a sustainable future.Whether by coming together in the People's Climate March or by taking distributed initiatives throughout thousands of communities, the people of this country are demonstrating their demand that we protect our home planet and their resolve to build a sustainable future. (Photo: Elizabeth Stilwell)DANA DRUGMAND FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord is decisively a mistake, but it is should not be characterized as the end of the world or as an indication that climate action in the US is dead. If anything, it may catalyze a surge of grassroots, sub-national resolve to tackle the greatest challenge of our time. We've already seen seeds of resistance sprouting in the era of Trump, from the Women's March to the backlash against the Muslim ban, and we can expect the same response to the new administration's hostility towards climate action and clean energy. Here are five reasons we should not despair over the Paris announcement:

1) Clean Energy Is Unstoppable

In the US and around the world, the clean energy economy is accelerating, creating millions of jobs while slashing consumer energy bills. This is the next industrial revolution. Although Trump's decision gives other nations an edge in this revolution, it won't stop the clean energy boom here. That train has already left the station. Solar power now employs more Americans than coal, oil and gas, with solar adding jobs at a rate 17 times faster than the economy as a whole. Solar is also the cheapest form of new electricity, and energy efficiency is the most cost-effective investment overall. No presidential proclamation can reverse this trend.


tsunamihazardThe Trump administration would imperil people from escaping the devastating effect of tsunamis. (Photo: hansol)

The Trump administration budget proposal would put large numbers of people at risk by reducing funds for Tsunami warnings, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) -- an advocacy group representing staff members of government agencies that are responsible for preserving the environment. A recent PEER news release states:

Proposed budget cuts by President Trump would compromise the timeliness and accuracy of tsunami forecasting and warnings, thereby putting thousands of coastal residents at needless risk.... The budgetary reductions unveiled last week would also negate key provisions of the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act which Trump signed into law on April 18th.

According to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration experts, the cuts will significantly reduce warning time of an incoming tsunami to coastal populations, especially in Alaska and Hawaii. In addition to eliminating over 60% of the staff for the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center (from 40 positions to only 15), the Trump budget would terminate funding for three separate tsunami detection systems:

  • Land-based seismic sensors;

  • Coastal water level sensors; and 

  • Deep-ocean buoys (the Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis or DARTs).

A PEER fact sheet details the impact of the proposed reduction in tsunami forecasting and advance alert funds. In particular, it warns against the termination in funding for seismic sensors, noting, "Eliminating these seismic sensors will dramatically decrease the lead time (from about 25minutes on average, to 0) for the most vulnerable Hawaiian, and Alaskan coastal populations,because over 90% of the casual ties occur on the closest coasts to a Tsunamigenic Earthquake."


Scale 0605wrp optA Pan Balance scale with weights. (Photo: Mauro Cateb)The vast inequality that's rending our society is not a natural, inevitable or accidental phenomenon — it's caused intentionally by policy-decisions that corporate and political officials make, often in tandem.

Every now and then, we commoners get a glimpse of inequality in the making, as we did recently when the GOP Boss of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan rammed the awful Trumpcare bill through that chamber. Without allowing any public testimony or even getting an analysis of its cost, Ryan browbeat and cajoled the Republican majority to hold their noses and pass this gob of plutocratic wretchedness. Their bill was so bad that, at most, a mere 17 percent of Americans support it.

The public's distaste for Trumpcare is well-deserved, for it's an inequality machine: It strips at least 23 million people of health coverage; it lets insurance corporations either refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions or to gouge them with extreme price increases; and it lets states eliminate the requirement that insurance policies must at least cover such essential health needs as cancer treatment and maternity care.

And, in a flagrant example of directly widening inequality in America, the Republicans' bill slashes $880 billion out of the Medicaid budget, which provides health care for the poor, the elderly and the disabled. That's not just a cut in dollars, but in people — 14 million needy families would lose their access to healthcare.

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