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Thursday, 02 February 2017 06:51

​Trump Is Number One at Creating Enemies​

2017.2.2 bf koehler(Photo: Gage Skidmore)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001."

As Donald Trump sets out to "protect America," I dedicate the words of his explosively controversial proclamation banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, to one of his supporters: Alexandre Bissonnette, the white nationalist Canadian who shot up a mosque in Quebec City a few days ago, murdering six people and injuring eight others.

Bissonnette is the latest native-born lost soul who figured out how to combine a simmering hatred for a preselected "enemy" with guns and ammo and set out to save the world. He won't be the last. He's part of a burgeoning North American tradition of mass murder that is fed by racism, war, fear and guns -- a tradition the American government happily exploits but is clueless on how to address effectively.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FrackWater 0201wrp opt(Photo: Markus Schweiss)Virginia's House of Delegates voted 59-37 on Monday in favor of a bill that would allow fracking companies to keep their chemical cocktails a secret.

HB 1678 states that "chemical ingredient names, the chemical abstracts number for a chemical ingredient, or the amount or concentration of chemicals or ingredients used to stimulate a well" are exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, while fracking is not heavily used in Virginia, some energy companies have shown interest. Texas energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp. has acquired about 86,000 acres of gas and oil leases for Virginia's Taylorsville basin.

The bill was sponsored by Republican delegate Roxann L. Robinson, who introduced a similar bill last year. During Friday's debate of the bill, she argued that "by protecting that actual recipe, it will foster more efficient and more advancements in the fracking industry."

She claimed that HB1678 has since evolved into a "transparency bill" after it was amended to only cover information about chemical concentrations, not the chemicals themselves, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Shadow2 0201wrp(Photo: Timitzer)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Stephen Miller is a 31-year-old who appears to have fit seamlessly into the inner circle at President Donald Trump’s White House. If you look closely during Trump’s executive order signing ceremonies, you’ll likely find the pre-maturely balding Miller lurking in the background, sometimes standing next to Steve Bannon or Reince Priebus. He’s one of a cadre of previously unknown ultra-conservative nativist provocateurs whose history includes mentoring by the alt-right’s Richard Spencer, connections to the Breitbart media operation, being communications director for Senator Jeff Sessions, and who, during the presidential campaign was a consistent rev-up-the-crowd guy at Trump rallies. Now, he is the senior adviser to the president for policy, a high-powered position, as evidenced by his significant contribution – along with Steve Bannon -- to the executive order on immigration that resulted in a firestorm of criticism and huge demonstrations at airports across the country.

In what seems like eons ago, in a June 2016 profile of Miller, Politico’s Julia Ioffe maintained that he was “a deeply unsettling figure, even to many in his own party.” “His nine-year career working for some of the most politically fringe figures on the Hill — he also worked for Michele Bachmann and helped David Brat in his primary defeat of Eric Cantor — was preceded by a trail of writings and provocations that go all the way back to high school, one that has raised the eyebrows of even conservative Republicans.”

According to a more recent piece by The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak, Miller “is as versatile as he is polarizing. A consistent theme in his life is knowing how to poke his political opponents in the eye, and he has seemed to revel in the feeling—from his childhood, to his college years, to the presidential-campaign trail.”

2017.31.1 BF Chow2(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Two major pipeline spills were reported the same week that President Donald Trump signed orders to move the Keystone XL (KXL) and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines forward. The recent breaches highlight the dangers of unreliable fossil fuel infrastructure in North America.

The president signed executive orders on Tuesday. One a day later, about 138,600 gallons of a diesel mix spilled from a broken pipeline in Iowa.

The pipeline is owned by Oklahoma-based Magellan Midstream Partners, which recently reached an $18 million settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, involving three pipeline spills in Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.

On Monday, reports emerged of a Tundra Energy Marketing Ltd-owned pipeline that spilled 52,830 gallons of crude oil onto aboriginal land in Saskatchewan, Canada. The spill happened on reserve lands of the Ocean Man First Nation.

2017.31.1 BF chow(Photo: Mike Mozart)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

California could become the first state to require Monsanto to label its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, as a possible carcinogen following Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan's tentative ruling on Friday.

The tentative ruling regards the agrochemical giant's Jan. 2016 lawsuit against California's Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). In Sept. 2015, the OEHHA issued plans to list glyphosate as a possible cancer threat under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. The OEHHA made the decision following the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)" in March 2015.

In its lawsuit, Monsanto claimed that the listing was unconstitutional because the OEHHA delegated law-making authority "to an unelected and non-transparent foreign body that is not under the oversight or control of any federal or state government entity."

However, California lawyers argued in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the IARC's scientific determinations are "the gold standard in carcinogen identification."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

32526771855 f1e4ccf6f8 zDonald Trump signing one of his recent executive orders. (Photo: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann)

 On January 30, President Trump signed an executive order that will make the United States less safe by rolling back regulations that protect the public. The best way to describe Trump's regulatory strategy is one step forward, two steps backward.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, has written an analysis of the action, in which he states:

The idea that two rules should be eliminated for each one adopted has no rational basis. Rules should be considered on their own merits. Existing rules were adopted through a deliberative notice-and-comment process, subject in many cases to challenging litigation. Absent a showing that they are no longer justified, there’s just no rationale for why they should be eliminated to clear the way for new ones.

CNBC notes the appropriate concern of critics of the action:

Critics of Trump's economic and regulatory agenda have raised concerns that his administration will reduce protections for consumers and the environment in an effort to help businesses. Many of the specific regulations Trump has criticized relate to environmental protection.

Monday, 30 January 2017 07:27

What It Means to Live in a Breitbart Nation

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bannon 0130wrp opt(Photo: Steve Bannon, by Don Irvine)Steve Bannon's openly declared war on the mainstream media may be the kind of hot-button news that drives headlines, but his new role on the National Security Council gives the former Goldman Sachs executive-turned-head of the ultra-right xenophobic and misogynistic Breitbart News, and the architect of Trumpism, unimaginable power. In an executive order, possibly written by Bannon himself, President Trump made it clear that Bannon could "join the government's most senior members during any meeting of the principal committee, led by national security advisor, Michael Flynn," The New York Daily News reported.  

Bannon, according to Raw Story's David Edwards, "personally overruled a decision by the Department of Homeland Security not to include green card holders in the president's temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries," a ruling that set off a firestorm of protests at airports across the country. 

“Whatever else he is, Steve Bannon is a smart guy, and he had to know that this would produce turmoil at airports around the country and widespread condemnation from the press,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum wrote. “In cases like this, the smart money is usually on incompetence, not malice. But this looks more like deliberate malice to me. Bannon wanted turmoil and condemnation. He wanted this executive order to get as much publicity as possible. He wanted the ACLU involved. He thinks this will be a PR win.”

Earlier in the week, Banning pointedly told The New York Times' Michael Grynbaum that: "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." Bannon then added, "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is president of the United States." 

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Davos 0130wrp opt(Photo: Remy Steinegger)In-between cocktail parties at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, billionaires tried to solve global inequality and climate change. Most of the attendees had arrived by private jet, which can burn as much fuel in an hour as an average car does in a year. 

America's actions impact everyone in the world. But that doesn't seem to matter to the super-rich elite who inexplicably get to make our decisions for us. They are not only far removed from ordinary people, but they're also out-of-touch with the world around them, insulating themselves in fortified estates and bubbles of wealth like in Davos. 

Only the most insensitive among us could fail to care about the people in Madagascar described by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3915102132 30858c9743 z(Photo: Aaron David Aznar)

Trump's strategy of creating an alternative reality based on "alternative facts" has apparently helped catapult a 67-year-old book that takes place in a totalitarian state, George Orwell's 1984, to the top of the charts. On January 25, USA Today reported:

George Orwell's tale of a sad, grim future, the book 1984, has experienced a recent resurgence, climbing to the top of Amazon.com's bestseller list of books....

It's in such demand that publisher Penguin has ordered a 75,000-book reprint, CNN reported.

The book's plot, as Penguin puts it, features the omniscient Big Brother, mind-erasing, a new language and thought process in a post-nuclear-war world. The publisher said Orwell's "vision of an omni-present and ultra-repressive state is rooted in the ominous world events."

Sounds familiar, huh? The current administration has forbidden climate change information on agency websites (including the White House's site), banned tweeting by government departments that send messages inconsistent with Trump administration policy (as it did with the National Park Service and other government departments last weekend), and ordered government scientists not to discuss their research work publicly. These are just a few examples of information suppression. By forbidding facts and research contrary to administration policy to reach the electorate, the Trump administration attempts to grant credibility to its lies, through repetition and the forced absence of real information.

 

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Presser 0127wrp opt(Photo: Cherie Cullen)There's a new media sheriff in Washington, D.C. and his name is Sean Spicer. "The mainstream media isn't the only game in town anymore," Spicer, a former communications director and strategist for the Republican National Committee and now White House press secretary, told Fox News in a recent interview. At what was called his first briefing – which was really his second, having read an incendiary and factually inaccurate message about crowd size at the inaugural and then storming off – Spicer made it clear that the mainstream media will not be treated as deferentially as it has by previous administrations.

Which, when translated, means that such purveyors of misinformation and what Kelly Anne Conway has called "alternative facts," such as the New York Post, the city's ultra-conservative newspaper, and Newsmax, will not only get called on for questions, but will receive priority treatment.

At a subsequent news briefing, Spicer called on LifeZette, Breitbart, and The Heritage Foundation's The Fred Lucas.

According to The New York Times, Spicer has said "that he would provide access via Skype to journalists working for news organizations 'who may not have the convenience or funding to travel to Washington.' He has previously pledged to find space for talk-radio hosts and conservative bloggers."

"The order in which [Spicer] called on people suggests it is a new day when it comes to who this White House considers being priorities in terms of being called on," CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out.

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