MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.
The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
Rover has accrued 104 violations since construction of the $4.2 billion project in started in March.
NADIA STEINZOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Usually when elected officials work on budgets, their aim is to reduce deficits and fund government programs. But then there's the Pennsylvania Senate -- which recently loaded a budget and revenue bill with provisions to gut environmental protections and help the oil and gas industry.
With support from Governor Wolf, the deal would take authority over oil and gas permit decisions away from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and, in a blatant power grab, give it to the legislature instead. Private contractors hand-picked by drillers would review permit applications. Permits would be fast-tracked regardless of the environmental risks posed and the omission of required information by operators. Public funds would support private projects to expand gas infrastructure and consumption.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On May 10th of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin titled "White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence." The report aimed "to provide new insight into the targeting preferences of white supremacist extremists and the state of white supremacist extremism violence in the United States." Based on an assessment of white extremist violence between the years 2000 to 2016, the report declared that "lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist (WSE) movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year."
What the report did not anticipate were "United the Right" rallies like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia, where many tentacles of the white nationalist movement held a well-organized, violent and coordinated display of strength.
Rallies of white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, militia members, alt-right supporters, and neo-Nazis, similar to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and the injuring of nearly two dozen other counter-protesters, will almost assuredly be coming to your town or a town near you.
On Monday, after two days of equivocating about the perpetrators of the violence and hate, President Donald Trump finally condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. Barely twenty-four hours later, at a Trump Tower press conference, the previous day's carefully constructed remarks -- tread off a teleprompter -- were swept away by a return to his essence; a bigoted, narcissistic, combative, uninformed leader giving succor to white nationalists.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It could be argued that the greatest American pillaging is the transfer of taxpayer funds into the bloated military, or a greed-driven private health care system that deprives human beings of essential medical care. But the conversion of American technologies into low-taxed plutocratic profit may be the most flagrant attack on the middle class.
It can also be argued that the products of the technological companies have enriched and energized our lives in numerous ways, and that the high-tech job market has never been better. But the rest of us pay dearly for all the technological benefits, much more than just the hundreds of dollars for phones and phone service. We have lost middle-class jobs and middle-class wealth. We have lost our share of the national productivity that is the direct result of 70 years of taxpayer input into the technologies that have enriched fewer and fewer people.
Corporate Tax Cuts: Are They Kidding?
Donald Trump and the Republicans want a lower corporate tax rate. But many of the largest U.S. companies have paid ZERO federal income taxes in recent years, and overall the corporate world pays anywhere from 13 to 19 percent, about half the 35 percent statutory rate that they so often complain about.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just days after last November's election, jubilant members and top staffers of the notorious corporate front group, American Legislative Exchange Council, gathered for a celebratory lunch and planning session at the group's DC headquarters. But rather than looking toward Congress and the newly Republicanized White House, these schemers were drooling over so many right-wing state governments. "There's a sea of red," gushed an ALEC official, asking with delight, "What are we going to do with these new legislatures?"
Corrupt them, of course. ALEC — funded and run by such multinational giants as AT&T, Exxon Mobil, the Koch brothers and Walmart — essentially functions as a hush-hush escort service. Since 1973, it's been hooking up high-dollar corporate customers with on-the-make state lawmakers willing and eager to sponsor special interest bills. In closed-door sessions convened by ALEC, state officials and corporate lobbyists make legislative whoopee, generating "model bills" that the participating legislators carry back and introduce almost simultaneously in their multiple states.
For the last few years, ALEC has provided a major, nationwide burst of energy that's powering state preemption laws. Its strategists realized that their corporate backers' long legislative wish list (including holding down wages and freeing corporations to pollute water supplies) is repugnant and socially destructive. Preemption, however, provided a way for lawmakers to shift attention from the appalling substance of their corporate agenda to an arcane process debate about state-local governance. This back-alley channel lets corporations and the right-wing fringe outlaw or repeal progressive responses by our communities, nullify our elections and overturn court decisions favoring local people.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Well, new research suggests that fish are not just accidentally gobbling up our plastic trash—they could be actively seeking it out because they like how the debris smells and are confusing it for their natural prey.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, presents "the first behavioral evidence that plastic debris may be chemically attractive to marine consumers."
"These chemical cues may lure consumers, such as anchovy, into regions of high plastic density and activate foraging behaviors, thus making it difficult to ignore or reject plastic items as potential prey," the paper states.
As New Scientist explains from the study, when plastic enters the ocean, the debris gets quickly covered by algae and releases an odor similar to krill, the natural prey for certain fish such as anchovies. The smell of the plastics then sets off the anchovies' foraging and feeding behavior.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
And so we return to the Korean War, when North Korea was carpet-bombed to the edge of existence. The American media doesn't have a memory that stretches quite so far back, at least not under present circumstances. One commentator at MSNBC recently explained, for instance, that the tiny pariah nation "has been preparing for war for 63 years!"
That would be since, uh, 1954, the year after the war ended. But the war wasn't mentioned. It never is. Doing so would disrupt the consensus attitude that Kim Jong-Un is a nuclear-armed crazy and that North Korea's hatred of the United States is just . . . hatred, dark and bitter, the kind of rancor you'd expect from a communist dictatorship and certified member of the Axis of Evil.
And now Donald Trump is taunting the crazy guy, disrupting the U.S.-maintained normalcy of global relations and putting this country at risk. And that's almost always the focus: not the use of nuclear weapons per se, but the possibility that a North Korean nuke could reach the United States, as though American lives and "national security" mattered more than, or were separate from, the safety of the whole planet.
Indeed, the concept of national security justifies pretty much every action, however destructive and horrifically consequential in the long term. The concept justifies armed small-mindedness, which equals militarism. Apparently protecting national security also means forgetting the Korean War, or never facing the reality of what we did to North Korea from 1950 to 1953.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What could be more Trump-esque then for a controversial, homophobic, climate change denying, anti-Catholic pastor, who once claimed that mothers do not belong in state office, to lead a White House Bible Study Group. Meet Pastor Ralph Drollinger. You might never have heard of him, but it's time to pay attention to Drollinger, who is leading, what he says, is the first White House Bible study among executive cabinet members in at least 100 years.
"It's the best Bible study that I've ever taught in my life," Drollinger told CBN News' Jennifer Wishon in an exclusive interview. "They are so teachable; they're so noble; they're so learned." Amongst regular attendees are Health Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Vice-President Mike Pence is also a regular participant and Drollinger pointed out that "Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh. [He] has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that's not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation."
The Donald himself has not yet attended any of the sessions, but he apparently receives a copy of Drollinger's weekly teaching.