CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump's main appeals to many of his voters was a pledge to "drain the swamp" and rid Washington of corruption. In only two weeks he has, instead, begun stocking the swamp with new and poisonous creatures, making it yet more deadly, much as sugar planters did in the Caribbean importing fleur-de-lance and other poisonous snakes to discourage slaves from making new lives for themselves by escaping into the jungle.It's staggering to recall that one of
Trump's cabinet, of course, may contain as many irreconcilable conflicts of interest as all the cabinets of the 20th century combined. Secretary of State Tillerson cannot do his job without becoming deeply enmeshed in the interest of ExxonMobil. Education Secretary DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Price, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Ross are ensnared with layers of inappropriate investments; Labor Secretary Puzder has made it clear that he wants to use his new position to reduce wages paid by his fast-food companies and only conceded on Feb. 1 that he might have to divest much of his investment portfolio to avoid future conflicts.
Trump's case for himself was "set a thief to catch a thief." He argued that he alone of recent Presidential candidates had been so deeply engaged in manipulating the federal tax code, that he alone knew how to fix it.
Well. If only.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
To paraphrase a remark attributed to Jesus, "Render unto Trump the things that are Trump, and unto Falwell the things that are Falwell's." And like that, President Donald Trump will be rewarding Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. for his early and earnest endorsement. According to Falwell, the administration has indicated that it will be tapping him to head up at least one and possibly two as yet to be created Department of Education task forces dealing with higher education. It appears that Falwell's goal will be to transform the Department of Education, an agency of which Falwell has been consistently critical. Falwell, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he had a "notebook full of issues," and he appears to be particularly interested in reigning in Title IX, dealing with student aid, and possibly pushing one of his pet causes; allowing guns on campus.
"I've been in conversations with [presidential adviser] Steve Bannon and others, and the president is forming some education task forces that I've been asked to head," said Falwell, who apparently turned down an invitation by Team Trump to head up the Department of Education.
Len Stevens, Liberty's spokesman, indicated that Falwell "will push to stop regulations coming out of the Education Department, especially those that apply to colleges and universities," CNN reported. CNN's Dan Merica pointed out that "Falwell has been particularly interested in curbing rules that require schools to investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination in education."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a February 3 article on Truthout, Spencer Sunshine reported on a Trump administration plan that is circulating to roll back the monitoring and prevention of domestic white terrorism:
The Trump administration's reported new plan to change a federal program which combats violent "extremism" into a project focused exclusively on "radical Islam" looks like another step toward demonizing Muslims -- while adding to concerns that the administration will actively empower open white supremacist groups. Reuters reports that multiple inside sources say the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant program will be being renamed either "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism."
Almost every year, the white supremacist movement is the political movement that kills the most Americans. (In the rare year that they don't come in first, they come in second.) But, for many years now, the federal government has refused to focus resources on violent far-right groups. Instead, efforts have been poured into surveilling the Muslim community at large -- even going so far as to entrap Muslims in order to arrest them.
Sunshine later notes:
Ignoring far-right movements seems to be a longstanding federal strategy
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill to curtail the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to address climate change.
The "Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017" (HR637) would amend the Clean Air Act so that:
"The term 'air pollutant' does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride."
The bill was introduced by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and has already racked up 114 Republican co-sponsors. Palmer is a climate denier who once said that temperature data used to measure global climate change have been "falsified" and manipulated.
STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
voted 32-13 Thursday to expand the state's renewable energy target restoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the measure in May of last year. The bill is now in effect.Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate
The bill increases requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020, increased from 20 percent by 2022. The renewable portfolio standard (RPS), according to the Maryland Climate Coalition, will result in an additional 250 megawatts of solar energy in the state and more than 1,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in the region.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this bill is a big win for Maryland's economy. Wind power relies on a robust American supply chain that consists of 500 factories across 43 states, the wind energy organization touts, with wind energy already providing $380 million of capital investment in Maryland, and wind turbine lease payments generating up to $1 million a year in the state.
"Making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said. "From the Free State's population-hubs to majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses."
BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump's relentless insistence that three million "aliens" voted for Hillary Clinton and cost him a popular majority in November's presidential election cuts far beyond what the corporate media is willing to report. When it comes to undermining democracy in the US, Trump is once again proving that the best defense is a total attack, even if it relies on "alternative facts."
Trump's Big Lie on voter fraud has been as widely scorned as his fantasies about the size of the turnout at his inauguration. Even the normally restrained New York Times has editorialized that "what once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy."
It seems to be dawning on The Times and others that by claiming so many non-citizens voted more than once, Trump re-loads America's Jim Crow lynch laws against Black people voting. Based on these assertions, we can expect more and more aggressive attacks by the administration against the rights of non-whites and non-millionaires to a fair and honest ballot.
Indeed, the corporate media has not yet faced the devastation of mass disenfranchisement in 2016. As reported by Greg Palast (www.gregpalast.com) and others, some thirty GOP Secretaries of State across the US used a computer program called Crosscheck to strip thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim voters from the registration rolls. These mass disenfranchisements could well have made the difference in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College while so thoroughly losing the popular vote.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have suspended their panel's rules to force through
The maneuver was made only one day after all 10 Democratic members of the committee announced a boycott over President Donald Trump's EPA pick. The boycott was sparked over their serious concerns of the Oklahoma attorney general's stances on climate change, pollution regulation and unanswered requests to provide official documents or emails that would shed light on his ties to the energy industry.
After temporarily suspending the committee's rules—which requires at least two minority members to meet quorum—committee Republicans unanimously approved Pruitt by a 11-0 vote at a Thursday hearing. This means Pruitt's nomination will go to the full GOP-controlled Senate, where he is likely to be approved.
Committee Democrats have called the move today by their Republican colleagues "irresponsible."
"I am disappointed that our majority has decided to ignore our concerns and those of the American people, and break the committee's rules in an effort to expedite Mr. Pruitt's nomination, but we have to stand our ground in our pursuit of the truth and in fulfillment of our Constitutional duty with respect to nominations," ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE) said in a statement.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Who are we?
Are we the great US of courage, spunk, openness, inclusion, opportunity and democratic promise -- as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms and Emma Lazarus' sonnet engraved on the Statue of Liberty?
Or are we the sad US of fear, cowardice, bigotry, xenophobia, intolerance and autocracy -- negative traits emanating from the darkness of Donald Trump's miserable dystopian view of our society, which has now resulted in him unilaterally imposing a contemptible and chaotic ban on immigrants from seven Muslim nations.
The Donald and his thuggish regime of demagogic nativists from the far-right fringe are hoping we're the timorous US. They shout that the people voted for the fair-haired strongman, and now they expect him to save them from bloodthirsty terrorists sneaking into US from Muslim nations. But wait -- first of all, the majority of us did not vote for him. So spare us the lie that you have a "mandate" to discriminate.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Maybe Donald Trump's Secretary of Education appointment Betsy DeVos thought she was just following the Trump inner circle standard.
After all, First Lady Melania Trump gave an inspirational speech at the Republican convention. Unfortunately for Mrs. Trump, her remarks were exposed to be largely the work of Michelle Obama: The remarks were plagiarized in large chunks. Melania Trump, ironically, pulled the words from a speech Michelle Obama gave at another convention: the 2008 Democratic Party gathering in Denver.
Trump surrogates defended Melania Trump at the time of her 2016 speech. According to CNN, Trump staffers twisted common sense into a pretzel to defend the current First Lady's theft of language. CNN quotes the current White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicier -- whose first public act in his position was to lie about the inaugural crowd size -- implausibly defending the plagiarized passages:
Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's chief strategist, [at the time of the 2016 Republican convention] invoked "My Little Pony" in defending the speech in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"Melania Trump said, 'the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.' Twilight Sparkle from 'My Little Pony' said, 'This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now,' " Spicer said.
Apparently, Betsy DeVos also took up the "My Little Pony" logic, in her responses to senators' questions in the lead-up to her confirmation hearing.
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.