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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Racehorse 0715wrp opt(Photo: Jeff Kubina)An old cowboy aphorism offers this advice: "Speak the truth. But ride a fast horse."

I relived this truism last weekend in Orlando, Florida, where I spent two hot, muggy days wrangling over policy issues as one of the members of the Democratic Party's national platform committee. Depending on the moment and the issue, the experience was both invigorating and infuriating, with refreshing outbreaks of broad and bold democratic vision, interspersed with too many rigid, Tammany Hall tactics used to dictate corporate-friendly policies. Bernie Sanders' 40-percent minority of platform members (of which I was one) managed to "Bern" the platform with more than two dozen big and very important amendments. As a result, instead of the same old business-as-usual blah-blah of party platforms, Democrats and their nominee, Hillary Clinton, are now on public record in support of the most progressive policy agenda in decades.

More about those specific policies in a moment, but first, let's get on that horse.

The worst development at the Orlando meeting was the Clinton campaign's acquiescence to the wet dream of global corporate powers: The Trans-Pacific Partnership. The platform's draft language on this horrendous TPP trade scam actually seemed to endorse it! So Sanders' forces went all out to replace such a pusillanimous surrender with an amendment to flat-out kill TPP.

I sponsored the Sanders alternative, dubbing it "a form of political Viagra to stiffen the spine of our party." Our amendment prompted panicky parliamentary manipulations by Clintonites to doctor their language so it would be a bit less wimpy — and also to block my amendment from even being considered. But Sanders' savvy policy staff outflanked them, so we forced them to debate and vote on our proposal — in view of C-SPAN's national TV audience.

image 2016 07 14 1(Photo: Hillary Daniels)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

An enormous -- and unprecedented -- amount of plastic waste and other marine debris has been washing up on Hong Kong's southern beaches in recent weeks.

Local authorities have described the filth as a "glacier of trash," and that the rubbish from one island could even be seen from space, the Epoch Times wrote. From July 1 to 9 alone, government departments collected 78,000 kilograms (about 172,000 pounds) of litter from affected areas, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Sunday, chief executive Leung Chun-ying and his team of 60 officials and workers collected about 1,350 kilograms (about 3,000 pounds) of garbage in about half an hour during a beach clean-up in South Lantau.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016July14 socsecurekidsSocial Security offers a safety net component for many children. (Image; Chris Potter)

The Center for Global Policy Solutions -- a think tank focusing on vulnerable populations in the US --issued a report this week, "Overlooked but Not Forgotten: Social Security Lifts Millions More Children Out of Poverty." It reconfirms the important role that Social Security plays in reducing childhood impoverishment. The executive summary of the report, which was released on January 12, confirms that Social Security is not only an economic necessity for many seniors, but it is also a critical support for more than 3 million children:

Social Security’s role in lifting millions of Americans out of poverty has been widely documented. However, the national focus on the program’s income assistance for senior citizens has obscured the fact that Social Security is also one of the federal government’s largest antipoverty programs for children. It serves more children than such discretionary programs as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

In 2014, there were 3.2 million children under age 18 directly receiving Social Security income benefits either as the surviving dependent of a parent or guardian who had died, the dependent of a disabled worker, or the dependent of a retiree. Many of these children come from the nation’s most economically vulnerable households. As a result, Social Security is often the only financial safeguard protecting them from the harmful effects of poverty.

Yet, the number of children benefitting from Social Security is commonly underestimated. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the Social Security Administration’s Annual Statistical Supplement, this paper demonstrates an undercount in the number of Social Security beneficiaries under age 18. In fact, when children who are not direct beneficiaries but live in extended families that receive Social Security are added to the official figure, the number of children who benefit from the program doubles to 6.4 million. This represents 9 percent of all U.S. children under the age of 18 and 11 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries.

The report also confirms that despite conservative efforts to reduce and privatize the Social Security program, the number of children who benefit from Social Security has fortunately increased.

image 2016 07 14(Photo: WildEarth Guardians)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

This week -- as thousands of Americans urge awareness to the destruction caused by oil bomb trains -- an oil field in San Juan County, New Mexico erupted in flames Monday night, highlighting the continued and increasing dangers of the fossil fuel industry.

The fire broke out around 10:15 p.m. Monday at a fracking site owned and operated by WPX Energy, setting off several explosions and temporarily closing the nearby Highway 550. Fifty-five local residents were forced out of their homes.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 15:02

Trump vs. the World on the Climate Crisis

STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Glacier 0713wrp opt(Photo: Luca Galuzzi)A groundbreaking study was released today by the Sierra Club Political Committee showing Donald Trump would be the only world leader to deny the science and dangers of climate change if elected president. The data in the report shows that Trump could possibly be the only world leader not calling for urgent climate action.

"Donald Trump's failure to acknowledge basic climate science wouldn't just leave him isolated on the world stage as president, it would undermine our relationships with key allies and threaten our ability to work effectively internationally," Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director John Coequyt said.

"Trump's climate science denial would make him a global laughingstock if it wasn't so dangerous. Every single leader on Earth—from Germany to India to Somalia to Japan—recognizes that the climate crisis is happening and demands the world's attention, but Trump is sticking his head in the sand while the seas are rising."

The report shows a global consensus on climate change among world leaders and provides comprehensive research that identifies attributable, verifiable statements, quotes and actions from current world leaders, including Heads of State and Heads of Government. They all acknowledge climate science and the need for climate action. Many of the nations mentioned in the report have signed the Paris climate accord and submitted their climate plans to the United Nations.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bullets 0713wrp opt(Photo: Thewellman)“Put those damn weapons down. I'm not going to tell you again, goddamn it. Get those goddamn weapons down.” That was the first command of one of Louisiana’s most revered figures, General Russell Honore, when he arrived in New Orleans in 2005 to direct the military recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The General’s directions have not been followed in Baton Rouge.

Since the police killing of Alton Sterling, thousands of people in Baton Rouge have been non-violently protesting day and night all over the city. There has been no arson in Baton Rouge, no looting, no burning cars, no windows broken, and no people beaten. Police report that a rock or other material was thrown at them but there is no video of such action nor have there been any arrests for such actions.

Despite these non-violent protests, around 200 people have been arrested and the police have shown a militarized and aggressive response.

When Ferguson police showed a militarized response to protestors, General Honore was again plainspoken. "Any time we have policemen pointing weapons at American citizens, they need to go through retraining." Baton Rouge police, who have a documented history of brutality, clearly need retraining.

After Ferguson, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing report on the police response to protests in Ferguson and they came up with numerous recommendations for law enforcement.   While the police have smartly pulled back from protests at the scene of the Sterling killing, many of the DOJ recommendations are being ignored in other protests around Baton Rouge.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july13 rottingfoodInstead of letting so much food rot in the US, why don't we feed people who need it? (Photo: Steven Depolo)

The World Hunger Education Service offers a number of revealing details about food insecurity in the United States:

In 2014, 14.0 percent of households (17.5 million households, approximately one in seven), were food insecure....

In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security....

Children were food insecure at times during the year in 9.4 percent of households with children. These 3.7 million households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children....

Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households....

To provide some context, according to Poverty USA, the poverty rate in 2014 was worse than the poverty rate prior to the 2008 economic collapse.

image 2016 07 12 1(Photo: Jasperdo)JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Despite mass protests, it didn't take more than a few meetings with Dutch Shell Oil executives for President Obama to approve offshore drilling in the pristine Arctic waters. He quickly approved offshore drilling from Virginia to Georgia, the first president in history to allow the oil industry to drill off the Atlantic coast. Had it not been for wealthy coastal home owners that rose up in anger, the Atlantic would rapidly resemble the Gulf of Mexico, including oil catastrophes and all the illnesses that petroleum chemicals have caused, ranging from skin diseases to cancer as a result. Shockingly, Obama didn't hesitate to approve fracking in the Gulf of Mexico at the time that BP's Macondo well exploded two miles beneath the crust of the ocean's floor in 2010, as Truthout journalist, Mike Ludwig, revealed in his investigative report. And to add insult to injury, President "climate change" Obama didn't hesitate to approve of far more dangerous deepwater drilling in the Gulfthat makes BP's operational negligence look like child's play, according to investigative reporter Antonia Juhasz’s shocking revelations. 

image 2016 07 12(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In early June, in a piece titled "Watch Out for Trump Becoming the 'Law-and-Order' Candidate" I wrote: "Picture Trump kicking off the final months of the campaign with: 'We'll give you the greatest amount of law and order that you've ever seen. There will be so much winning law and order that you might get tired of things being so quiet.'" The police shootings in Dallas has apparently moved up the timetable for bringing the "law and order" meme into play.

In a speech to veterans in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Monday, July 11, Donald Trump, reacting to the police shootings in Dallas, declared himself the "law and order" candidate. He then went on to maintain that he is the "candidate of compassion."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016july11 trumphope(Image: DonkeyHotey)

She tried to deliver a knockout rebuke to Pope Francis when he questioned Donald Trump’s Christianity for wanting to build his great wall on the border; she tackled Corey Lewandowski’s manhandling of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, when he was still a member of Team Trump, characterizing Fields as a "lying attention hound"; she zigged and zagged her way around trying to explain "The " multifarious positions on abortion. The she in question is Hope Hicks.

Who is Hope Hicks and how did the twenty-seven-year-old political newbie become Donald Trump’s chief gatekeeper?

Here’s what we’ve stitched together from some determined reporting about the Greenwich, Connecticut-raised Ms. Hicks, who, outside of Trump’s kids, is the only young woman in his inner circle.

A few months back, Olivia Nuzzi, writing for GQ, made an appointment to see Hicks, hoping for a one-on-one interview with Hicks, who she dubbed Donald Trump’s “accidental” press secretary. She met Hicks, but instead of an interview with her, Nuzzi got a sit-down with The Donald himself. Hicks, who was in the room was noticeably silent.

While Hicks sat quietly, Trump was effusive in his praise, telling Nuzzi: "[S]he was able to build political experience quickly. She was very natural. She was very natural when it comes to picking it up, and a lot of people can't pick it up, because it's so fast-moving. It's faster-moving than anything else."

As Michael Sebastian pointed out recently at Cosmopolitan.com, “Although her name appears in the media often, [Hope] Hicks has kept a very low profile during the campaign, scrubbing her public social media profile and staying away from stories written about her."

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