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Mush 1008wrp opt(Photo: United States Department of Energy)A hard rain is falling on the tin roof of Trump Tower this morning, and many across the land call it a joyful noise. Paul Ryan has kicked Donald to the curb, an ever-increasing number of Republicans are calling on him to drop out, and if he actually summons the courage to show his face at the Town Hall on Sunday, he will know the trials of Sisyphus before he reaches the far shore.

I can summon no smiles today, however. While I am pleased this dangerous man's campaign has absorbed what appears to be a mortal blow, it does not change the fact that he happened, he happened to all of us, and nothing will ever be the same again. "Do what you want to them" and "Grab them by the pussy" have entered the political lexicon. Our children will read those lines in their History textbooks someday. My daughter will see that and rightly ask, "Why?"

Why? The phenomenon of the angry Tea Party voter is only a partial, facile explanation. The truth is harder: The media did this, with our help. They knew who this guy really was - everyone in the industry knew - and still they protected and coddled him for a year because he makes for good television. Geraldo Rivera is on Fox News at this moment tsk-tsking about how unsettling this must be for the Trump family. His concern is as ersatz as fake rain on a movie set. This recording did not fall out of the sky; someone has been safeguarding it as their retirement fund for 11 years, and someone else knew, which means everyone knew.

He was who the industry wanted, and they arranged to get him, and get him they did with our active assistance. Their ratings have never been higher, because we are the yeast that makes this rotten bread rise. Admit it: At some point you tuned in with the thought in your head, "I wonder what he said today." Millions and millions have done just that. I sure did, and I accept my portion of responsibility. If a Trump falls in the forest and no one watches, does it tweet? The media gambled on people watching, they won, and here we are.

Friday, 07 October 2016 07:48

Is the Media to Blame for Climate Inaction?


Heat 1007wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)For years climate reporting had two strands: climate science got more alarming as we got closer and closer to exceeding various warming thresholds, and climate diplomacy and public policy were a relatively unbroken saga of disappointment and delay.

The media flocks to bad news, conflict, grid-lock, failure. Both strands of the pre-2014 climate story nourished this appetite. Since 2014, however, the climate story grew more complex, hopeful—but harder for the media to summarize. Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to grow at an alarming rate; projections of the risks of these concentrations become steadily graver, more bad news. So this week we were told that the planet was hotter than it has been in the last 100,000 years.

Current climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to avoid catastrophe—which causes concerned observers to argue that the world is not taking the problem seriously.

But on the solutions front, progress is accelerating. Climate diplomacy and public policy are not only galloping ahead at an unprecedented speed, their pace is increasing. We are in danger of not realizing that.

The media doesn't know how to cover a story that is headed in two directions, so it's unlikely that this week will be reported as a huge turning point in the fight for climate protection—but it was.

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout

SamanthaBeeFeb2011 1Samantha Bee (Photo: Justin Hoch)

 In the middle of a Full Frontal segment on last month's bombings in New York and New Jersey, Samantha Bee launched into an excoriating attack on NBC "tacitly condoning a race-baiting demagogue." It's not just that NBC gave Trump a years-long platform on "The Apprentice" to position him as a credible authoritarian business leader. NBC even featured Trump, while running as a candidate for the GOP nomination, as host of "Saturday Night Live" on November 17, 2015.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon has treated Donald Trump as a guest on "The Tonight Show" as an affable, playful potential president, even tousling his hair as if he were a friendly Golden Retriever. The YouTube clip of Fallon "messing" up Trump's hair -- as Trump plays the affable foil -- has received more than 8 million views, not to mention the vast audience across the United States who watched the original "The Tonight Show" farce. Yes, NBC terminated Trump's association with "The Apprentice" after he began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists," but the network didn't terminate its association with him on other programming. It is still making money off of showcasing him to voters, expecting him to draw in big audiences (and increased advertising profits) whenever he appears on NBC.

When Trump was in his full birtherism bloom, accusing President Obama of not being a citizen, the station was fine with having Trump continue to enhance his brand on The Apprentice.  It didn't take x-ray vision to see that birtherism was both a real and symbolic movement to discredit Obama as an American because he is Black. Thus, NBC was fine with having Donald Trump, who was a leader in perpetuating a racist attack on the president of the United States, hosting "The Apprentice."


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

About 95 metric tons of oil leaked into the North Sea on Sunday from BP's Clair platform, and it will be left in the ocean. BP says the oil is moving away from land and dispersing naturally, but the spill is a reminder that accidents happen as more oil development is eyed for the Arctic.

In what BP called a "technical issue," oil was released into the North Sea, located about 46 miles, west of the Shetland Islands. BP shut down the oil rig and said it is investigating the accident.

The oil company said it had conducted five aerial surveys with three more planned for Tuesday to monitor the oil slick.

"It is considered that the most appropriate response remains to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action have been prepared and are available, if required," BP said.


Racism may well be the biggest crime in the criminal legal system. If present trends continue, 1 of every 4 African American males born this decade can expect to go to prison in his lifetime despite the fact that the Census Bureau reports that the US is 13 percent Black, 61 percent white and 17 percent Latino.  

When Brown v Board of Education was decided in 1954 about 100,000 African Americans were in prison. Now there are about 800,000 African Americans in jails and prisons: 538,000 in prisons and over 263,000 in local jails. Black men are nearly six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are 2.3 times as likely, according to the Sentencing Project.

Why? Because our country has dramatically expanded our jails and prisons and there is deep racism built into every step of the criminal legal system. Some think the criminal legal system has big problems that need to be reformed. Others think the racism in the criminal legal system is helping it operate exactly as it has been designed to incarcerate as many black and brown people as possible.

Here are 18 examples of racism in parts of different stages of the system. Taken together, the racism in each of these steps accelerates the process of incarceration of African American and Latino males.


octvotingrightsVoting rights are being taken in away en masse, denying the most fundamental right of US citizenship. (Photo: Lauren Shiplett)

 On September 15, I wrote a commentary about how the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed a lawsuit to prevent Georgia from implementing an onerous "voter registration verification process." From the title, it may sound sounds like a benign vetting process, but is actually one of the many laws and regulations that Republican-controlled legislatures and governors have been using to place obstacles in the place of non-Republican voters.

This particular voter suppression strategy in Georgia requires voters to show that all the data on four pieces of official state and federal identification match before they are allowed to vote. It sounds harmless enough, but remember that there is virtually no individual voter fraud in the United States involving the casting of a ballot by a person isn't eligible to cast one. There are, however, plenty of instances of voter suppression: denying eligible people the right to vote, along with the possible hacking of vote-counting software, manipulation of final vote counts after the polls close and more.  

Requiring a process such as a four-ID-card data match to be able to vote can be directly traced back to the post-slavery efforts to keep Black people from voting. It provides the opportunity to deny large numbers of people the chance to vote, while not holding other groups of people to the same ultra-stringent requirements.

I offer my wife's ID card situation as an example of the insidious nature of the Georgia regulation. Her legal name is Teresa, but she goes by the name of Terry.  Sometimes she includes her middle name on IDs; sometimes she doesn't. Her passport has her full formal name listed, while her driver's license has her name as Terry. This means that, were she to live in Georgia, she might not be able to vote.  Exactly how consistently such a regulation -- and other non-Republican voter suppression laws -- are applied has not yet been the subject of large scale studies. However, one could speculate that primarily white suburban and rural districts are perhaps less "rigorous" in enforcing voter obstruction laws.

As we've mentioned, there are a multitude of laws and regulations aimed at making it difficult for non-Republicans to vote in Republican-run states. There are, of course, many issues on which the two major parties work as a duopoly, but -- in general -- Republicans in Congress and state legislatures try to prevent people of color and others who are likely to vote Democratic or for a third party from casting a ballot. In general, Democratic legislatures and elected officials in the federal government are for broader suffrage.


praying in hell 1 opt(Photo: Courtesy of Rev. Billy Talen)Last summer, in Prospect Park near our Brooklyn home – two park workers sprayed a fire hydrant near a playground where our daughter Lena climbs monkey-bars for hours on end.   I walked up to the truck and saw Monsanto boxes ripped open in the back of their pickup.  One of the workers was pouring RoundUp into a white plastic barrel. That was the one who talked to me. His voice had a raw, low sound like he was saying confession. He began to recite a list of the organic herbicides that he wished he was using but wasn't.

The nano-commons around and within our bodies and our children's bodies is a dumping ground for corporate poison.  Some of us are vaguely aware of this molecular-level world. We have read a few summary sentences at the top studies that link Monsanto's RoundUp to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and other cancers, endocrine and immunity disruptions and birth defects.

The pollution that we cannot touch, see or smell does show itself this way: illness in ever-younger victims.  We have found from our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed with dozens of cities and towns – that the location of spraying is frequently near ball-fields, schools and park playground. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to glyphosates and the "inert" chemicals in the RoundUp mix, which help the toxin bind to target plants. Target plants!

The Glyphosates of Monsanto are banned throughout much of the world, like Bayer's Neonicotinoids. The mass-killing of beloved honeybees and songbirds by that powerful neuropath, a more lethal version of nicotine – has aroused a nightmare in the public mind. And now here comes Neonicotinoid and Glyphosate, the Big Merger. The communities that make these two famous toxins are joining up, the older company buying the newer one, in the biggest cash buy-out in history. Bernie Sanders called the merger, "A marriage made in Hell."


TrumpSimper 0921wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)There was a time – and it wasn’t all that long ago -- when “compassionate conservatism” was a bellwether term for conservatives. While some conservatives argued that they were always compassionate, Team George W. Bush made a special effort to emphasize the meme in the 2000 presidential election, going so far as to use it as a campaign slogan. In reality, however, “compassionate conservatism” never really translated itself into public policy – save for a deeply flawed faith-based initiative -- as such issues as income inequality, poverty, gay rights, and racial inequities, never rose to preeminence in the eight years of Bush – and fact were the subject of regressive policies. Nevertheless, in the late nineties, and early two thousands, “compassionate conservatism” was on the table as a political slogan. This of course was before the Obama administration, the Tea Party, the alt-right, and Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. In 2016, “compassionate conservatism” has morphed into “cutthroat conservatism.”

Over the past several decades, especially since the founding of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, and its subsequent rise as a powerful political force, conservative Christian evangelicals have played a significant role in presidential elections. While many on the Religious Right were less than satisfied with either Senator John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012 and stayed home, those that did turn out to vote, basically closed ranks around both candidates.

The Pew Research Center pegs the number of born-again evangelical Christian American at around the 60 million mark.

This year, however, has witnessed a sort of breaking of the ranks amongst conservative evangelical leaders over whether to support Trump, and concomitantly encourage the troops to work for his election. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the nation’s most high-profile evangelical college, was an early and enthusiastic Trump supporter. Popular evangelist Paula White and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family are also on board the Trump train. On the other side, Michael Farris, a longtime conservative activist and home schooling advocate, isn’t convinced, and has steadfastly refused to endorse Trump, despite receiving a personal visit from Pence.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

octoberdicap33 copy

                      Photo courtesy of EcoWatch.

During an hour-long sit down about climate change at the inaugural South by South Lawn (SXSL) with President Obama and leading climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe on Monday, Leonardo DiCaprio made a clear dig at climate change deniers.

"The scientific consensus is in, and the argument is now over," the Revenant actor and environmental activist said in his opening remarks. "If you do not believe in climate change you do not believe in facts or science or empirical truths, and therefore in my opinion, you should not be allowed to hold public office."

Even though DiCaprio did not name names, the comment has been interpreted as an attack on Donald Trump, who believes climate change is "a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese" (even though the Republican presidential candidate denied what he actually said at last week's presidential debate)

The Oscar winner was at the White House to promote his new Fisher Stevens-directed documentary Before the Flood, which highlights the perils of a warming planet.

As The Guardian observed, Stevens said he plans to screen the film at college campuses and swing states such as Florida, where Marco Rubio is running for his Senate seat again.

"Rubio is a climate change denier, and we want to get these deniers out of Congress, to make them understand the Paris [climate] accords are important and that we need to do more," Stevens said.

Back at the SXSL stage, DiCaprio pressed the president to grade the global response on climate change thus far. While Obama said he was hopeful about some progress such as the Paris Agreement, more fuel-efficient cars and investment in clean energy, Obama warned that "obstructionist politics" are an obstacle in combating rising emissions.

"Climate change is happening even faster than five years ago or 10 years ago," Obama said. "What we're seeing is the pessimistic end of what was possible, the ranges that had been discerned or anticipated by scientists, which means we're really in a race against time. We can't put up with climate denial or obstructionist politics for very long, if we want to leave for the next generation beautiful days like today."


Bradley 1003wrp opt(Photo: Brody2786)Just before Election Day in November 1982, according to most polls, Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, appeared poised to become governor of California. Despite leading in the polls, Bradley lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian. Instead of becoming the first African American governor of California, Bradley became the namesake of something called The Bradley Effect.

The Bradley Effect -- also known as The Wilder Effect -- proposed that voters that said they would vote for the African American candidate were either too embarrassed, or ashamed for fear of being labeled racist, to admit to pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for a Black man as Governor.

According to Ballotpedia, “A related concept is social desirability bias, which describes the tendency of individuals to ‘report inaccurately on sensitive topics in order to present themselves in the best possible light.’ According to New York University professor Patrick Egan, ‘Anyone who studies survey research will tell you one of the biggest problems we encounter is this notion of social desirability bias.’ Some researchers and pollsters theorize that a number of white voters may give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation.”

While most of the above appear to apply particularly to elections where African Americans are facing off again white candidates, this year’s presidential election may contain some of those same dynamics. Some pundits are claiming that a Bradley Effect-like situation might be in play with voters who support Donald Trump, but are un-willing to admit it to pollsters.

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