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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Billboard 0321wrp opt(Photo: Djsasso)OK, people, we need to discuss billboards. Yes, we really must.

Billboards must be living creatures, for they appear to propagate, spreading everywhere, growing to enormous size, shouting corporate messages at us — and even watching and tracking us with their digital eyes.

Now, though, rather than billboards becoming human, we humans are becoming billboards. Literally. For the love of money, the National Basketball Association is transforming its chief human assets — i.e., basketball players — into advertising placards that run, dribble, leap, twist and dunk.

While individual golfers and racecar drivers have long splattered themselves with their sponsors' logos, NBA teams are now planning to become the first major U.S. sports teams to sell ad space on their players' game-day jerseys. Chintzy? Well, yes — but not cheap. Team owners expect brand-name corporations to pay at least $100 million to have their logos plastered on the chests of basketball stars.

Calling this a "stylistic move," the mammon-worshipping owners say the ads will be modest — each just a two-and-a-half inch patch displaying the corporate brand of, say, Budweiser, Bank of America, Hooters or Viagra. The ad size seems small, but ESPN's high-definition TV cameras will focus on them and show them to viewers hundreds of times in every game. And, of course, to squeeze ever-more cash out of each human billboard, both the owners and advertisers will steadily expand the commercial space to cover the entire uniform.

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."

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

March21 democracy1Advocating for democracy makes one a political target. (Photo: SUXSIEQ)

A mid-April pro-democracy protest in Washington, DC had been planned for months -- but that didn't stop the right-wing Trump-friendly Breitbart website from declaring, "Anti-Trump groups threaten largest disobedience action of the century." The article posted on March 16 insinuated that the the Democracy Spring mobilization in April -- and by implication, Democracy Awakening activities -- were created to target Trump. The charge was quickly picked up by the right-wing media choir, including The Drudge Report and World Net Daily.

Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening are actually two separate initiatives that are converging together in DC on April 16. Democracy Spring will begin as a walk to DC, starting at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on April 2. Its goals -- promoting a full, participatory democracy -- are similar to those of Democracy Awakening. Both mobilizations are primarily aimed at getting big money out of politics, allowing full voting rights for all Americans and ending obstructionism in confirming a Supreme Court replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Margrete Strand-Rangnes, executive vice president of Public Citizen --  a non-profit citizens rights advocacy group that is playing a key role in organizing Democracy Awakening -- told BuzzFlash that she was baffled by the Breitbart article that spuriously connected Democracy Spring to an anti-Trump initiative. She was concerned that the accusations would ultimately skew public perception of the separate and combined actions of Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening.

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.

EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

March18 liesWhy do US politicians get away with so much lying? (Photo: jaroh)

How can so many politicians in the US get away with blatant lying? After all, although the corporate media is not great at fact-checking, there are a number of sites, such as PolitiFact, that at least try to establish the truth (although one can argue that the site is not immune to bias).

Donald Trump keeps the lies coming quickly -- frequently composing them in just the few seconds it takes to tweet. It seems as if no one is vetting his Twitter account. Then, often, just a few more seconds or minutes pass before he slyly tries to qualify the original lie. As Mark Twain said, " A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

The use of lies in political campaigns -- particularly presidential campaigns -- is bi-partisan.

The tactic of the "artful smear" that Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of -- but has employed herself several times in the primary campaign (the auto bailout accusation against Sanders, the claims that he would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, etc.) -- generally works because the refutation of a lie by someone running for the presidency almost inevitably gets less coverage than the original false charge. This is particularly true in a high-speed digitalized age in which presidential candidates seek to roll out fresh news items and attacks each news cycle. A well-placed lie spouted during a debate, for example, can be propelled into ongoing coverage in a later news cycle.

2016.17.3 bf chow(Photo: Thomas Hawk)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Portland, Oregon is suing Monsanto over contaminating the city's waterways with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a highly toxic group of chemicals that endangers human health and the environment.

Portland City Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday authorizing city attorney Tracy Reeve to sue the biotech giant.

"Portland's elected officials are committed to holding Monsanto accountable for its apparent decision to favor profits over ecological and human health," Reeve said in a statement. "Monsanto profited from selling PCBs for decades and needs to take responsibility for cleaning up after the mess it created."

2016.17.3 BF hightower(Photo: Job Garcia)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you take the word f-r-e-e and rip the "r" out of it, what do you get? Two things, actually: One, instead of "free" you get "fee" -- and then you get mad.

This is happening to millions of airline passengers who're discovering that the advertised price of a ticket is not the half of it. Beaucoup fees have been added, charging us for items that previously were (and still should be) free. People's rage-ometers zing into the red zone when they see that these fees-for-former-freebies will often more than double the cost of a trip.

Like diabolical bankers did years ago, top executives of airline corporations have learned to goose up prices and profits, (as well as their own pay) by nickel-and-diming customers. Only their fees are way more than nickel and dimes. For example, if you schedule a flight, but something comes up and you have to change the time, day, or destination of your trip -- BAM! -- airlines zap you with a $200 fee. Basically for nothing! Computers quickly make the change, costing the corporation a mere pittance, but rather than graciously accommodating your need and making you a satisfied customer, they pick your pocket and make you angry.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016March17 godDo sanctimonious politicians invoke the idea of God so elected officials can perpetuate injustice under the cloak of piety? Just asking. (Photo: Visit W3Schools)

As we grit our teeth throughout this harrowing and bizarre presidential campaign (which effectively began more than two years ago), Donald Trump's narcissism and demagogic strategies have dominated on the Republican side. Nonetheless, almost all of Trump's opponents (present and past) have followed the GOP tradition of sanctimoniously evoking God as a stamp of righteous approval from the heavens. This year, there has been some surprise that evangelicals have voted in large numbers for Trump. That is because Trump represents a greed-driven lifestyle, spotty church attendance and a religion of money worship. 

Given Trump's bombastic vanity, it's not surprising that he asserts that he believes in God, but has never asked for God's forgiveness - a central element of almost every Christian denomination. After all, this is a man who -- although not Catholic -- denounced the pope as disgraceful.

Nonetheless, many of Trump's supporters bestow him with the mantle of God's and Christ's support, including Jerry Falwell JrThe Daily Beast reported in January that when Trump visited Liberty University, founded by Falwell Jr's father, Trump omnipotently pledged "to make God great again":

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university president and son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, introduced Trump to the crowd and left no doubt about his feelings for the golden-haired mogul. 

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.

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!”)

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