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Thursday, 02 February 2017 08:06

Is Trump's United States Our United States?

2017.2.2 BF Hightower(Photo: AnubisAbyss)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

32477520531 9036c96038 z 1Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Plagiarism? (Photo :Victoria Pickering )

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.

Thursday, 02 February 2017 06:51

​Trump Is Number One at Creating Enemies​

2017.2.2 bf koehler(Photo: Gage Skidmore)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.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FrackWater 0201wrp opt(Photo: Markus Schweiss)Virginia's House of Delegates voted 59-37 on Monday in favor of a bill that would allow fracking companies to keep their chemical cocktails a secret.

HB 1678 states that "chemical ingredient names, the chemical abstracts number for a chemical ingredient, or the amount or concentration of chemicals or ingredients used to stimulate a well" are exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, while fracking is not heavily used in Virginia, some energy companies have shown interest. Texas energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp. has acquired about 86,000 acres of gas and oil leases for Virginia's Taylorsville basin.

The bill was sponsored by Republican delegate Roxann L. Robinson, who introduced a similar bill last year. During Friday's debate of the bill, she argued that "by protecting that actual recipe, it will foster more efficient and more advancements in the fracking industry."

She claimed that HB1678 has since evolved into a "transparency bill" after it was amended to only cover information about chemical concentrations, not the chemicals themselves, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Shadow2 0201wrp(Photo: Timitzer)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Stephen Miller is a 31-year-old who appears to have fit seamlessly into the inner circle at President Donald Trump’s White House. If you look closely during Trump’s executive order signing ceremonies, you’ll likely find the pre-maturely balding Miller lurking in the background, sometimes standing next to Steve Bannon or Reince Priebus. He’s one of a cadre of previously unknown ultra-conservative nativist provocateurs whose history includes mentoring by the alt-right’s Richard Spencer, connections to the Breitbart media operation, being communications director for Senator Jeff Sessions, and who, during the presidential campaign was a consistent rev-up-the-crowd guy at Trump rallies. Now, he is the senior adviser to the president for policy, a high-powered position, as evidenced by his significant contribution – along with Steve Bannon -- to the executive order on immigration that resulted in a firestorm of criticism and huge demonstrations at airports across the country.

In what seems like eons ago, in a June 2016 profile of Miller, Politico’s Julia Ioffe maintained that he was “a deeply unsettling figure, even to many in his own party.” “His nine-year career working for some of the most politically fringe figures on the Hill — he also worked for Michele Bachmann and helped David Brat in his primary defeat of Eric Cantor — was preceded by a trail of writings and provocations that go all the way back to high school, one that has raised the eyebrows of even conservative Republicans.”

According to a more recent piece by The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak, Miller “is as versatile as he is polarizing. A consistent theme in his life is knowing how to poke his political opponents in the eye, and he has seemed to revel in the feeling—from his childhood, to his college years, to the presidential-campaign trail.”

2017.31.1 BF Chow2(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Two major pipeline spills were reported the same week that President Donald Trump signed orders to move the Keystone XL (KXL) and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines forward. The recent breaches highlight the dangers of unreliable fossil fuel infrastructure in North America.

The president signed executive orders on Tuesday. One a day later, about 138,600 gallons of a diesel mix spilled from a broken pipeline in Iowa.

The pipeline is owned by Oklahoma-based Magellan Midstream Partners, which recently reached an $18 million settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, involving three pipeline spills in Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.

On Monday, reports emerged of a Tundra Energy Marketing Ltd-owned pipeline that spilled 52,830 gallons of crude oil onto aboriginal land in Saskatchewan, Canada. The spill happened on reserve lands of the Ocean Man First Nation.

2017.31.1 BF chow(Photo: Mike Mozart)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

California could become the first state to require Monsanto to label its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, as a possible carcinogen following Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan's tentative ruling on Friday.

The tentative ruling regards the agrochemical giant's Jan. 2016 lawsuit against California's Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). In Sept. 2015, the OEHHA issued plans to list glyphosate as a possible cancer threat under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. The OEHHA made the decision following the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)" in March 2015.

In its lawsuit, Monsanto claimed that the listing was unconstitutional because the OEHHA delegated law-making authority "to an unelected and non-transparent foreign body that is not under the oversight or control of any federal or state government entity."

However, California lawyers argued in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the IARC's scientific determinations are "the gold standard in carcinogen identification."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

32526771855 f1e4ccf6f8 zDonald Trump signing one of his recent executive orders. (Photo: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann)

 On January 30, President Trump signed an executive order that will make the United States less safe by rolling back regulations that protect the public. The best way to describe Trump's regulatory strategy is one step forward, two steps backward.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, has written an analysis of the action, in which he states:

The idea that two rules should be eliminated for each one adopted has no rational basis. Rules should be considered on their own merits. Existing rules were adopted through a deliberative notice-and-comment process, subject in many cases to challenging litigation. Absent a showing that they are no longer justified, there’s just no rationale for why they should be eliminated to clear the way for new ones.

CNBC notes the appropriate concern of critics of the action:

Critics of Trump's economic and regulatory agenda have raised concerns that his administration will reduce protections for consumers and the environment in an effort to help businesses. Many of the specific regulations Trump has criticized relate to environmental protection.

Monday, 30 January 2017 07:27

What It Means to Live in a Breitbart Nation

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bannon 0130wrp opt(Photo: Steve Bannon, by Don Irvine)Steve Bannon's openly declared war on the mainstream media may be the kind of hot-button news that drives headlines, but his new role on the National Security Council gives the former Goldman Sachs executive-turned-head of the ultra-right xenophobic and misogynistic Breitbart News, and the architect of Trumpism, unimaginable power. In an executive order, possibly written by Bannon himself, President Trump made it clear that Bannon could "join the government's most senior members during any meeting of the principal committee, led by national security advisor, Michael Flynn," The New York Daily News reported.  

Bannon, according to Raw Story's David Edwards, "personally overruled a decision by the Department of Homeland Security not to include green card holders in the president's temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries," a ruling that set off a firestorm of protests at airports across the country. 

“Whatever else he is, Steve Bannon is a smart guy, and he had to know that this would produce turmoil at airports around the country and widespread condemnation from the press,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum wrote. “In cases like this, the smart money is usually on incompetence, not malice. But this looks more like deliberate malice to me. Bannon wanted turmoil and condemnation. He wanted this executive order to get as much publicity as possible. He wanted the ACLU involved. He thinks this will be a PR win.”

Earlier in the week, Banning pointedly told The New York Times' Michael Grynbaum that: "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." Bannon then added, "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is president of the United States." 

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Davos 0130wrp opt(Photo: Remy Steinegger)In-between cocktail parties at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, billionaires tried to solve global inequality and climate change. Most of the attendees had arrived by private jet, which can burn as much fuel in an hour as an average car does in a year. 

America's actions impact everyone in the world. But that doesn't seem to matter to the super-rich elite who inexplicably get to make our decisions for us. They are not only far removed from ordinary people, but they're also out-of-touch with the world around them, insulating themselves in fortified estates and bubbles of wealth like in Davos. 

Only the most insensitive among us could fail to care about the people in Madagascar described by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

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