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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatrumpbackLooming over the United States is the possibility that the nation may elect its first Snake-Oil-Salesman-in-Chief. (Photo: Tony Webster)

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A few years back, taking advantage of his brand identity and the emergence of for-profit educational corporations, the current leading GOP presidential candidate established Trump University.  Donald Trump announced the "academic" venture, which offered no degrees or transferable credits, with his usual bombastic flourish at a news conference in 2005.

However, the unaccredited "university" became increasingly tainted by charges of fraud, profiteering, and courses that were allegedly often just high-pitch sales session for other Trump University and Trump organization products. The attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman - who called Trump University a scam - filed a lawsuit against Trump and The Trump Organization in 2013, according to an article last year in The Washington Post:

Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Trump and the institution, accusing both of charging more than 5,000 people big money to supposedly learn Trump’s successful real estate techniques but failing to deliver. The suit says Trump U — often using high-pressure sales tactics and telling students that the next, more expensive seminar would reveal important secrets — earned about $40 million from students and seeks to the money recovered.

Last year [2014], a judge found Trump personally liable for the university’s violation of New York education laws, and this past April, and a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled in April that the case would have to resolved at a trial.

Meanwhile, a class-action suit was filed in California by a former Trump University student named Art Cohen who said he spent more than $36,000 on courses that failed to deliver the top-notch education the university had promised. A judge in that case ordered both sides to complete “fact discovery” by Aug. 10, according to a Courthouse News story.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaMitchMc(Photo: Gage Skidmore)Antonin Scalia is gone. The nastiest and noisiest of right-wingers on the Supreme Court is dead.

But he can't be any more brain dead than Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate. In a blatantly partisan ploy to prevent President Obama from nominating a successor to Scalia, McConnell has cited a historical precedent dictating that presidents who are in the last year of their term do not name new justices to the high court. "Therefore," he babbled, "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

What a silly old squirrel McConnell is! Article II of the U.S. Constitution plainly states that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the Supreme Court." Note that the Constitution says the president "shall" do this — as a duty to the nation. Nothing in the founding document suggests that this power and duty is voided in an election year. In fact, 13 Supreme Court nominations have been made in presidential election years, and the Senate took action on 11 of them. McConnell's assertion is bogus (and silly), for history and the Constitution clearly back Obama.

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Ironically, one who would have nailed McConnell for such a slapstick political perversion of plain constitutional language is Scalia himself. He practiced what he called "originalism" in his official judgments, insisting that the Constitution must be interpreted only by the words in it and only by the original meaning those words had for the founders when they wrote them into the document.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatrumppunchIn openly espousing thuggish violence, Trump is unleashing a firestorm. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Donald Trump is a demagogue who is unleashing the barely restrained violence that simmers under the "grievances" of many Americans who benefit from white supremacy. About that, there is no doubt.

Trump has frequently condoned, praised and even incited physical attacks on protesters at his rallies. The Guardian US reports on a weekend appearance in Nevada, in which Trump continued to ratchet up his incitement of mob rage. A heckler interrupted Trump, and the frontrunner for the GOP nomination responded with direct references to violence:

"You know what they used to do with guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks," [Trump] said.

Noting the protester was smiling as he was escorted out, Trump quipped: "I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell you that." It was a remarkable comment from a presidential candidate who appears to be building a momentum that could soon be unstoppable

In a nation awash in violence - particularly gun violence - in which predominantly white males engage in mass and domestic shootings, Trump is providing an authoritative license for resentful white men to act violently. Just replace "I'd like to punch him in the face" with "her" instead of "him," or "them" instead of "him," or "shoot" instead of "punch." Given Trump's open racism toward non-whites, you could also place Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans or other groups that he has defamed in the context of this sentence. This is the fury that Trump is letting loose.

2016.23.2 bf durst(Photo: DonkeyHotey)WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Q. Has the issue of Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court turned a mite political?

A. You could say that. You could also say that flight simulation wind- tunnels are tough on comb-overs.

Q. How long after the first Italian US Supreme Court Justice’s death did it take to get ugly?

A. Within a short-time of the discovery of the body, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to keep the seat vacant until after the November presidential election. Probably took longer for a family of five to order dessert at Applebee’s.

2016.23.2 BF Chow(Photo: DonkeyHotey)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Looks like the extremely wealthy and politically influential Koch Brothers are waging a multimillion dollar war against the burgeoning electric vehicle(EV) market, notably frustrating none other than EV titan Elon Musk.

In an effort to strike back at record-breaking EV sales, the fossil fuel industry is allegedly funding a new organization that will spend $10 million a year to push petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies on EVs, refining industry sources told the Huffington Post.

According to HuffPo, a Koch Industries board member and a veteran Washington energy lobbyist will be involved in the purported EV-squashing initiative.

Monday, 22 February 2016 11:46

Bundy Boys Bagged By Federal Grand Jury

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCliven(Photo: Gage Skidmore)It took nearly two years, but Nevada’s Cliven Bundy and four others “were indicted by [a] federal grand jury … on 16 felony charges related to the armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in the Bunkerville, Nev. area on April 12, 2014,” according to a Press Release issued by the Department of Justice Attorney’s Office, District of Nevada.

Back in 2014, Bundy and his family rallied hundreds of armed like-minded folks to his side in a face off against government agents causing the out strategized and out-smarted U.S. Bureau of Land Management to back down and withdraw. “The BLM's mistakes are now playing into the government's theory in the extortion and assault case against Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, according to Kathleen Bliss, a former longtime federal prosecutor,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently reported.

"Prosecutors are using this to show the conspiracy," said Bliss, who prosecuted organized crime and domestic terrorism cases. "This wasn't just a group that kind of showed up and got together. They definitely had a system in place, and they were organized to meet a certain goal."

As I wrote in late-April 2014, “While many following his story wondered what this government-disdaining Nevada-based rancher -- who has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land and who marshaled armed militia forces to engage in a standoff with federal agents -- was all about, America's right wing, especially the crew at Fox News, and conservative radio talk show hosts, were quick to brand Bundy a courageous leader of a New Sagebrush Rebellion.”

Bundy’s instant hero status quickly faded when the New Sagebrush Rebellion hero started spouting such racist views about African Americans that even his most confident conservative media admirers forsook him.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBuchheitChalkboard2(Photo: M. Rehemtulla)Latoya and Jalesa, both 26, grew up on the west side of Chicago, attending Calhoun Public School during the day and stepping across the street to Marillac Social Center for after-school programs. They lived in a tough neighborhood. Latoya said the summer gunshots came as often as the sound of ice-cream truck bells in the suburbs. But everyone knew each other on those two blocks; kids walked together, to and from school and in the evenings. Parents -- most of whom had gone to Calhoun -- also knew each other, often through volunteer work at the social center. 

In 2013 Calhoun was one of 50 schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was shut down despite a committee recommendation that it remain open. Jalesa and Latoya, who still work at the center as they pursue other career interests, said the children are scattered now. Most of them take buses to a variety of public and charter schools outside the once-intimate neighborhood. Some have to walk a few blocks, some have to cross busy streets. None of them gather together before and after school, as they used to do on the grounds of Calhoun. 

K-12 Education is Getting Worse

A shocking new OECD report says that among developed countries the U.S. has the highest percentage of youths ages 16-19 with low numeric skills, and the 3rd-highest percentage with low literacy skills. 

SAT scores in 2015 were the lowest since the test was revised in 2005. Math scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders dropped for the first time since the tests were first administered in 1990.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAlGore(Photo: Erik Charlton)Al Gore is truly optimistic about the future of humanity and our ability to address climate change. He admitted to the TED2016 audience in Vancouver on Wednesday that “every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.” But he maintained, “I am extremely optimistic. We are going to win this. We will prevail.”

The former vice president began his talk by highlighting the extent of the problem. He flashed images of flooding in Miami, Chile and India, fires in Australia and ice melting in the Arctic. Greenhouse gas emissions are trapping energy in Earth’s atmosphere at a rate “equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year,” Gore said, quoting climate scientist James Hansen.

“It’s a big planet, but that is a lot of energy,” Gore added.

Despite all this, Gore remains hopeful, arguing humans can and are changing. “Some still doubt we have the will to act,” Gore said. “But I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource.”

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaascaliachinAntonin Scalia: the late Supreme Court justice and chief pitch man for the charlatan notion of "originalism." (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Those who lost a loved one when Supreme Court Antonin Scalia passed away - particularly his family - deserve our compassion as he is mourned and buried.

However, when it comes to his professional legacy, Scalia left a corrosive trail of rulings and opinions that have been devastating to the principles of democracy and the legal concept of equal justice under the law. We have opined many times over the years about Scalia's pernicious court influence and voting, often based on the most absurd of arguments and defiance of both the Constitution and common sense.

Scalia's ability to wrap up partisan right wing extremism in lofty sounding legalese earned him praise for being "brilliant" from both the right and, not infrequently, left (even if liberals and progressives scorned his conclusions). However, that's like declaring a rotten fish was savory because it was wrapped in a sacred text.

It would be too lengthy to recount all of our columns that revealed how Scalia repeatedly smashed the Constitution and its amendments with a wrecking ball while burnishing the image of a venerable legal scholar. Scalia's University of Chicago law professor background came with a briefcase filled to the gills with hokum.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaivankatrumpProfits trump promises to US workers as Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, manufacture a large segment of their fashion lines in China. (Photo: Marc Nozell)

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Yes, Donald Trump actually does have a few written position statements on major issues other than his bombastic, snarky and not infrequently vulgar soundbites. On his home website you can find, for instance, his stance on "reforming the U.S.-China trade relationship to make America great again." He holds out the promise to US workers displaced by the movement of their jobs to China that a Trump presidency will bring the jobs home:

The most important component of our China policy is leadership and strength at the negotiating table. We have been too afraid to protect and advance American interests and to challenge China to live up to its obligations. We need smart negotiators who will serve the interests of American workers – not Wall Street insiders that want to move U.S. manufacturing and investment offshore. [Last sentence has been italicized by BuzzFlash.]

In September of last year, we posted a BuzzFlash commentary noting that "[Donald] Trump manufactures his clothing line in China and Mexico while bashing them for 'stealing' US Jobs." We embedded a 2012 video clip - that you can still view by clicking through to the essay - in which David Letterman challenges Trump to move his fashion apparel jobs back to the United States. In response, Trump just mumbled and shrugged. His official campaign position on China compared with his own offshoring of jobs to that nation exposes him as a full-fledged faux-populist billionaire hypocrite.

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