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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.

2017.26.1 bf chow(Photo: J Troup)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

In a political era where "alternative facts" are used in place of actual facts, several government bodies have been tweeting doses of reality in defiance of President Donald Trump and his many controversial stances. That is, until someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. notices and forces them to delete their social media missives.

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota really lived up to its name after tweeting out several posts about climate change Tuesday afternoon, countering the president and most of his administration's notorious skepticism of climate science.

"The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm," the first post read.

A second tweet read, "Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate".

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

13318663515 6f28038139 z 1(Photo: jaroh)

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What does Donald Trump stand to gain from repeatedly telling lies? For the answer, we can look to the Bush administration's propaganda campaign surrounding the invasion of Iraq: If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth to your followers, and even to some people who are more independently minded. After all, look at how the media and much of the public were persuaded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- when even internal CIA intelligence reports were indicating that was not the case.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that Trump and his staff claimed that his inauguration crowds were larger than the DC Women's March and President Obama's inauguration, and that he keeps on repeating the claim despite evidence to the contrary. When Trump doubles down on charging that there were up to 3 million illegal voters in the last election and calling for a Department of Justice investigation, he is reinforcing a lie -- using the mantle of "justice" to further disseminate his prevarication. Of course, the fact that Hillary Clinton beat Trump by about 3 million popular votes in the election gets lost in the maelstrom of coverage over Trump's brazenly untrue illegal voter assertion. In The Hill, Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley wrote that Trump's assertion was a "baseless claim that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election." They noted that some Congressional civil rights leaders fear that the lie and pending investigation may be manipulated to use as an excuse for a further crackdown to keep legitimate non-Republican voters from the polls.

In a CNBC commentary, John Barry Ryan notes that Trump is facilitated in his lying by a base of supporters that is predisposed to believing him.

Thursday, 26 January 2017 06:46

Why So Many People Loathe Congress

2017.26.1 BF Hightower(Photo: Photos by Clark)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Uncle Sam wants you!

Not the symbolic Uncle Sam, but Sam Johnson. Although he's been a member of Congress more than a quarter of a century, it's unlikely you've ever heard of him. He's a lawmaker who holds a congressional seat, but just sits in it, achieving so little that he's unnoticeable.

But look out! Johnson has suddenly leapt into action. And we all need to take notice, because this Texas Republican has unveiled what he calls his "Plan to Permanently Save Social Security."

To get you to support the plan, Uncle Sam wants you to believe that this successful and very popular retirement program is "going bankrupt." He knows that's a lie, but he hopes it's a big enough lie to panic you into doing anything to save the program. Then to make his particular plan easy to swallow, he coats it with another lie, claiming that he's merely "modernizing," "updating" and "ensuring" the benefits and solvency of Social Security, which a big majority of Americans count on to avoid living out their golden years in stark poverty.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

31706098183 351a70b9e2 zU.S. Customs and Border Protection Headquarters in Washington DC  (Photo: Mobilus In Mobili )

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

The Guardian US, in an article following the historic Saturday march in Washington, DC, recounted the experience of a group of Canadians -- with two French nationals -- traveling in two cars to join the protest. The paper interviewed Montrealer Sasha Dyck:

Border agents first told the two French citizens that they had been denied entry to the US and informed them that any future visit to the US would now require a visa.

“Then for the rest of us, they said, ‘You’re headed home today’,” Dyck said. The group was also warned that if they tried to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.”

Dyck described it as a sharp contrast to 2009, when the research nurse made the same journey to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration. “I couldn’t even get in for this one, whereas at the other one, the guy at the border literally gave me a high five when I came in and everybody was just like, ‘welcome’. The whole city was partying; nobody was there to protest Obama the first time.”

Meanwhile a January 21 CNN article recounted the experience of Canadian Joseph Decunha at a New York immigration checkpoint while driving with friends to Washington, DC, for the march.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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PipeOil 0125wrp opt(Photo: Pipeline)An oil pipeline has leaked about 200,000 liters, or 52,834 gallons, of crude onto an aboriginal community in the oil-rich province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

This is the province's largest pipeline breach since July's disastrous 225,000 liter (59,438 gallon) Husky Energy Inc spill, in which some oil entered the North Saskatchewan River and cut off drinking water supply for two cities.

The latest spill happened on reserve lands of the Ocean Man First Nation. Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle told Reuters that a local resident smelled the scent of oil for a week, located the spill and brought it to her attention on Friday.

While no homes were affected, the spill is about 400 meters (1,320 feet) from the local cemetery, Big Eagle said.

The Saskatchewan government was informed of the spill on late Friday afternoon, but the public was only notified of the spill on Monday.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Heritage 0125wrp opt(Photo: Amantio di Nicolao)During the Trump transition, staffers from The Heritage Foundation were quite active developing policies and pointing out potential nominees for government positions. That was only foreplay. Not since those halcyon days of the George W. Bush administration have folks at the Heritage Foundation been this giddy. If you are looking to understand where the underpinning of the Trump Administration's deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, Obamacare repeal and replace alternatives, climate change denial, and privatization agenda will be coming from, look no further than the Washington D.C. based Heritage Foundation, America's most influential right-wing think tank.

Almost every day for eight years, The Daily Signal, Heritage's e-mail newsletter, sounded the alarm about the Obama administration's misdeeds and the wrongheadedness of liberal policies.

Now Heritage, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has pivoted to providing a broad-based agenda for Team Trump. Take Monday morning January 23rd for example. The Daily Signal's "Morning Bell's" headlines are bountiful and revelatory: "Trump Nominees Face 'Unprecedented' Democrat Obstructionism"; "Relief Is on the Way: What Trump's Obamacare Executive Order Will Do"; "Obama's Legacy Is a Weaker and More Divided America"; "How Obamacare Will Cost Native American Tribes Millions of Dollars"; "EPA's Top Priority Should Be to Eliminate Bogus Global Warming Models"; "Trump Should End Government Funding of NPR's Biased News."

Although Trump never seemed to be The Heritage Foundation's candidate of choice, nevertheless it appears that it has embraced him seamlessly. Perhaps most attractive to the Foundation was that Trump was an empty slate; devoid of political convictions or policy prescriptions. As the Huffington Post's Matt Fuller pointed out in August, "[F]or the Heritage Foundation ― and its cousin political operation, Heritage Action for America, which can more actively engage in political activities ― Donald Trump presents a rare opportunity: a politician without policies."

Tuesday, 24 January 2017 06:46

Al Gore's Prediction Comes True

2017.24.1 BF Chow(Photo: Center for American Progress)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

When An Inconvenient Truth was released more than 10 years ago, the most criticized scene of Al Gore's climate change documentary was the flooding of downtown New York City from sea level rise and storm surge.

Well, as the former vice president explains in the first official clip of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, that prediction came true.

The new film, which premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, is a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2006 documentary. It follows Gore's efforts around the world to influence international climate policy and galvanize support for the climate change movement.

DR. REESE HALTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Gulls 0123wrp opt(Photo: Someone35)In last eight years, nearly 70,000 birds have been killed in the New York City area to make the skies safer for air travel.

On Jan. 15, 2009, three minutes after takeoff from New York City's La Guardia Airport, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and lost all engine power. Remarkably, pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched the aircraft onto the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan. All passengers and crew, 155 people, escaped with only a few serious injuries.

It was the most successful ditching in aviation history known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."

Since then, the following birds have been eradicated by government agencies: 28,000 gulls, 16,800 European starlings, 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 4,500 mourning doves and approximately 1,800 Canada geese.

In the five years before the Hudson River emergency landing, there were 158 bird strikes per year. In the six years following the accident, 299 air strikes were recorded per year, according to statistics amassed by the Associated Press.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Commentaries like this one aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain Truthout and BuzzFlash by making a tax-deductible donation?

War 0123wrp opt(Photo: German Federal Archive)Donald Trump said, "I’m going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna mess with us."

Simple-minded but deadly thinking at the top derives from influential groups and individuals who think we have to KILL to keep the rest of the world in line. The compliant mainstream media scares us into accepting wars and drone killings overseas, military-style defenses on our own streets, surveillance of our private lives. For the war-happy leadership of America, certain realities are better left unsaid, or at most reported quickly and quietly.

1. Terrorist Acts in the U.S. Were More Common 40 Years Ago

Terrorist acts are deadly, but the panicky reports of mainstream news sources scare us more than they should, as when a FOX reporter called ISIS "the single biggest threat in [America’s] 200-year history."

This graphic derived from the Rand Corporation's terrorism database shows that the frequency of terrorist acts was greatest in the 1970s and 1980s. CNN notes that "There were literally hundreds of terrorist bombings, shootings and hijackings in States during the 1970s."

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