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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

7811078716 e5ddeff985 zWhy didn't the DC Press Corps ask the hard questions in interviews with President Obama? (Photo: Marc Nozell)

 This BuzzFlash commentary was only published because of support from readers like you. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and fund more stories like it!

On January 10, President Barack Obama gave a farewell speech before 18,000 people at McCormick Place, Chicago's convention center. Some media pundits called his remarks a return to Obama's Chicago community organizer days. However, a lot of the rhetoric sounded like political pablum. Consider this, from the official White House transcript:

The peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next. (Applause.) I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. (Applause.) Because it's up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. (Applause.) Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

In a January 13 article, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) took the occasion to note that "for the eight years he was in office, President Barack Obama snubbed the Chicago press corps, ignoring repeated interview requests from local reporters in his adopted hometown."

2017.19.1 BF Koehler(Photo: lilyo)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This BuzzFlash commentary was only published because of support from readers like you. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and fund more stories like it!

The icon's day has come and gone, and -- oh, the irony -- eight people were fatally shot in Chicago on his weekend. Another eight were shot during a Martin Luther King rally and celebration in Miami.

God knows how many more died this past weekend: around the country, around the world.

An enormous wrong called human violence continues to roll across Planet Earth, but we bring less understanding to it than we had 50 years ago, when King spoke at Riverside Church in New York City and stood courageously against the war in Vietnam.

"We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation," King said in his electrifying and disturbing speech, which merged the movement for civil rights and social justice with the growing national outrage against war. "The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. . . .

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SolarFarm 0118wrp opt(Photo: US Bureau of Land Management)U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation's job growth.

"This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy," said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. "Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016."

The solar industry is particularly shining bright.

"Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector," the report, released on Jan. 13, states. "This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity." Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2916200309 fe65dc6dce zThe myth of the "heroic savior." (Photo: cranky messiah)

There is a big difference between truly assisting marginalized groups and being a charitable "savior."

The latter label characterizes many people of privilege and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) that attempt to provide solutions for individuals and groups in need -- without listening to the voices of those whom they are supposedly "helping." This is the essential message of a book recently featured as a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week: No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, by Jordan Flaherty.

In an excerpt from his book featured on Truthout, Flaherty writes:

The savior mentality means that you want to help others but are not open to guidance from those you want to help. Saviors fundamentally believe they are better than the people they are rescuing. Saviors want to support the struggle of communities that are not their own, but they believe they must remain in charge. The savior always wants to lead, never to follow. When the people they have chosen to rescue tell them they are not helping, they think those people are mistaken. It is almost taken as evidence that they need more help.

The savior mentality is not about individual failings. It is the logical result of a racist, colonialist, capitalist, hetero-patriarchal system setting us against each other. And being a savior is not a fixed identity....

Saviors adopt trendy labels such as social entrepreneur or change agent. They preach the religion of kinder capitalism, the idea that you can get rich while also helping others, that the pursuit of profit, described with buzzwords like engagement, innovation, and sharing economy, will improve everyone's lives through efficiency. However, I stand with nineteenth-century novelist Honoré de Balzac, who wrote that behind every fortune is a concealed crime. I don't believe you can get rich while doing good -- wealth and justice are mutually exclusive. The more wealth exists in the world, the less justice.

In short, the savior or charity mentality allows the "giver" to feel righteous, compassionate and fair without having to engage in the hard work of achieving those goals by listening to the needs of people whom they are allegedly assisting.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pitchfork 0118wrp opt(Photo: Robert Couse-Baker)Buckle up, friends. Most Americans are about to be detoured onto a rough and rocky back road called "Trump Way." The autocratic tycoon was unabashed on the campaign trail in promising his victory would ensure millions of people a dire future, including mass deportations of immigrants, refugee bans and frontal assaults on women. But they're not the only ominous prospects. It will surprise many of the working stiffs who voted for the blustery billionaire to learn something he didn't communicate in his hectoring, "truth-telling" speeches: His little-discussed economic agenda is filled with provisions that would permit 1-percenters to travel more luxuriously than ever in the smooth, fast lanes of life, while the middle class and the poor are flagged onto Trump Way for a hairy, four-year ride of even more downward mobility. The proposed package includes:

—Immediately seizing control of the National Labor Relations Board, turning it into a corporate bulldozer to destroy workers' rights, particularly the right to organize unions

—"Yuuuuge" new tax cuts for corporations and the super rich, busting the budget for addressing human needs

—Privatization of such basics as public education, Medicare and Social Security

—Deregulation of corporate profiteers — from Wall Street banksters to Big Oil polluters

—Eliminating the federal minimum wage

—Freeing corporations from rules that prohibit discrimination in hiring, paying, promoting and firing workers

2017.17.1 BF Talen(Photo: OccupyReno MediaCommittee)REVEREND BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Jan. 11th, in Des Moines, Iowa -- Reverend Billy Talen and his co-defendant Father Frank Cordaro were found innocent of the charge of Trespass, with possible $500 fine and 30 days in prison. In her decision, Judge Carol Coppola refused to accept the prosecution's motion to stop Talen and Cordaro from invoking the 1st Amendment in their defense. This is a reflection on the brief trial by Reverend Billy.                                   

"Your honor -- he's a professional protester!" the assistant District Attorney called out in horror. Wylie Stecklow my long-suffering pro bono lawyer standing next to me cast a wry side-long glance.

Why the demonization of protest?

Protesters supported by volunteer donations are not a new idea. We create national holidays for some of the prominent ones. Sometimes you just have to go out and ask for help! In the Church of Stop Shopping we have 200 people who give $2 each month. We call these friends "Holy Rollers."

2017.17.1 BF Buchheit(Photo: Giuseppe Milo)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The reality of the disposable American has been building up in recent years, and new evidence keeps pouring in. Now the potential exists for greater suffering under the rule of a billionaire Cabinet that is far, far removed from average workers and renters and homeowners.

First the "Upside" -- 5% of Us Are Millionaires

Depending on the source, America has anywhere from 7 million to 13.5 million millionaires -- about 5% of U.S. adults, and about a 40% increase in just six years. At the other end, 90% of us have gained NOTHING since 1997, and at least half of us NOTHING since 1980.

New Evidence of an Overall Collapse

Recent studies show America at or near the bottom among developed countries in disposable income poverty, income and wealth inequality, safety net provisions, employment, economic mobility, life expectancy, infant mortality, and the well-being of children. We've run the table. The better part of America is equivalent to a third-world country.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

5789845977 37e1a70e45 z(Image: DonkeyHotey )

 Many automakers have been using the fact that gas prices are relatively low to argue against EPA-mandated automobile fuel efficiency standards, which are scheduled to rise in the coming years. Of course, these manufacturer's resistance to the standards is a tremendously short-sighted position.

The issue of increasing fuel efficiency requirements for cars does have a consumer component, when it comes to choosing a car during times of high gas prices. However, more importantly, higher efficiency means less pollution per mile driven. Our society is dependent upon cars, and it's essential that we implement measures to increase miles per gallon, in addition to ramping up electric car sales and battery-range capacity.

We are just one week away from the dismaying transfer of power to a Trump presidency. We must find and advocate for economic, social and environmental justice to offset the coming threats.

That is why it is somewhat encouraging that according to a January 13 BloombergMarkets article:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it's keeping vehicle efficiency standards intact through the 2025 model year, shoring up a key piece of President Barack Obama's environmental legacy against a challenge by the incoming administration....

The move, completed just days before Obama leaves office, makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for President-elect Donald Trump's administration to ease off on the standards...

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rex 0113wrp opt(Photo: Rex Tillerson, by ExxonMobil)ExxonMobil was dealt a major blow on Wednesday after a Massachusetts judge ordered the company to hand in more than 40 years of climate research.

On Wednesday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger denied the oil giant a protective order that would have blocked Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's subpoenas for Exxon's internal research on climate change.

"This affirms our authority to investigate fraud," Healey tweeted after the decision. "ExxonMobil must come clean about what it knew about climate change."

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers told Reuters the company was "reviewing the decision to determine next steps."

In June, the company filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Texas to block Healey's investigation. However, a Texas judge later ruled that the court had no jurisdiction over an investigation in Massachusetts.

2017.12.1 BF Spear(Photo: Marc Nozell)STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Appearing live on television and via a livestream, President Barack Obama offered his official farewell address Tuesday evening from Chicago. He touted the climate policies he's passed over the last eight years and stressed the need for "bolder" action.

He said:

[W]ithout some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we'll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible. …

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we've halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won't have time to debate the existence of climate change; they'll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.

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