MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Almost 60 organizations have called on the Walt Disney Company to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group that is a member of the campaign, stated in a news release:
The Walt Disney Company should join other Fortune 500 companies, such as Apple, Pacific Gas & Electric and CVS, that have stopped funding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for political, policy and moral reasons, almost 60 non-profits wrote in a letter to Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger today. The groups commend Disney for its public commitments to action on climate change and for refusing to depict casual tobacco use in most of its Disney-branded films. However, with its membership and financial support of the Chamber, Disney is helping to bankroll an organization that actively opposes climate change remedies and promotes making a profit from tobacco.
"It becomes tough to take Disney's commitments to public health and the environment seriously when Disney continues funding the pro-tobacco and anti-environmental agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," said Daniel Dudis, director of Public Citizen's Chamber Watch project. "The Chamber's views do not represent those of Disney, or presumably most of Disney's customers or shareholders. We think it of the utmost importance for companies like Disney to stop funding the Chamber agenda."
Apple, Exelon, CVS, General Mills, Unilever and several other companies have already left the organization due to its reactionary policies, as noted.
RHEA SUH OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In his first three months on the job, Trump has acted again and again to undo half a century of bipartisan progress in protecting our rights to clean water, air and lands. He's moved to part ways with longstanding American values of conservation in the public interest. And he's betrayed the covenant we've forged with our children to leave them a livable world.
That's not a plan to put America first. It's about putting industrial polluter profits first―and putting the rest of us at risk.
Presidents don't get to roll back generations of hard-won gains with the stroke of a pen. Working with his fellow Republicans in Congress, Trump has already killed rules to protect coal communities from mountaintop demolition that destroys forests and streams. And he may expose more public lands to the ravages of coal mining.
Much of what he's ordered, though, can be halted, slowed or turned back around―in the court of public opinion or in a court of law. To do that, we'll have to stand together and give real voice to truth against a president intent on using the full powers of his high office to try to eliminate the tools we need to protect our families and communities from ongoing harm.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In high school, I had a girlfriend who was involved in student government and all sorts of good works. While she paid attention to all that was happening in those years of the early '60s, she essentially was a moderate — certainly not some movement rebel. Or so we thought... until one lazy, Sunday afternoon. As we aimlessly "cruised the drag" of our small town in a '54 Chevy, we were paused at a red light across from a root beer stand where some teens were hanging out. Suddenly, my "moderate" girlfriend lunged halfway out of the backseat window and shouted "Wake up and piss, kids, the world's on fire!"
I stared at her wide-eyed and whopperjawed, wondering where that came from.
I've thought of that moment recently as I've seen instance after instance of the innate rebelliousness of the American people erupting across the country in surprising ways, unexpected numbers, and with astonishing intensity. No need to wonder where this comes from, however. The outbursts are a spontaneous, rapidly expanding mass rejection of Trumpism.
Our Twitter-president plays to his most frenzied partisans with his daily rata-tat-tat of executive orders and public fulminations — firing at refugees, federal judges, Chuck Schumer, the media, Nordstrom, the EPA, Mexico's president, Elizabeth Warren, laws that protect consumers from Wall Street greed, Sweden, Arnold Schwarzenegger and... no telling who's next. But while some delightedly squeal at his wild moves, many more see Trump as not merely unpresidential, but bull goose bonkers! And dangerous — recklessly using the enormous power of the presidency as a personal cudgel to attack, stigmatize and seriously harm individuals, entire religions and races, the Bill of Rights and our nation's basic values of tolerance, fairness and opportunity for all. In a twist of ironic justice, The Donald's deep darkness has sparked a prairie fire of mass opposition, raging political activism and movement organizing for the long haul.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The 10,000-page study found that the three pesticides under review—chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion—pose a risk to roughly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. The evaluations were compiled by federal scientists over the last four years and were expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used.
But lawyers representing Dow and two other makers of the organophosphates sent letters to the heads of three cabinet agencies last week, asking that the study be "set aside" and saying that the results are flawed.
"Our government's own scientists have already documented the grave danger these chemicals pose to people and endangered species," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unable to win on the facts, Dow is now adopting the same disgraceful tactics honed by the tobacco industry and the climate deniers to try to discredit science and scrap reasonable conservation measures that will protect our most endangered animals and plants."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to a Prison Policy Initiative analysis, "More than 191,000 driver's licenses are suspended every year for drug offenses unrelated to driving."
However, the Drug Policy Alliance reported this month that an effort is underway in Congress to repeal the onerous federal law that has caused this destructive process in a number of states: U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke (D-TX-16) has introduced bipartisan legislation with Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI-3), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Mia Love (R-UT-4) that would repeal a 26-year-old federal law that mandates states to automatically suspend driver's licenses for anyone convicted of a drug offense or risk losing federal highway aid money.
Since this mandate was adopted in 1991, 38 states [and the District of Columbia] have opted-out, demonstrating that the policy is counterproductive.
A 2015 Boston Globe article describe the hardships the law has caused:
The 26-year-old law was designed, in part, to deter drug use.
There's little evidence it has served as a deterrent. However, it has left tens of thousands of former convicts struggling to find work and do other basic things, like get to the grocery store. On a snow-encrusted day last winter, [Edwin] Melendez had to bundle his infant son to his chest and set out to the hospital on foot when he feared the boy was catching pneumonia.
JOHN LAFORGE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You have to hand it to the nuclear industry for socializing costs and privatizing profits. Last year, lobbyists for operators of dirty, deadbeat old reactors won massive public subsidies -- bailouts -- in New York and Illinois that will keep decrepit, retirement-age reactors from shutting down.
Instead of turning off the rattle traps -- and investing public funds in renewables – state-sponsored electric ratepayer handouts in the two states will total $10 billion over 12 years. Remember Reagan's mythical "welfare queens"? These utilities are welfare gods, propping up decrepit reactors by buying entire state legislatures that in turn legalize monthly electric bill increases.
In New York, the FitzPatrick reactor (Entergy Corp) and Nine Mile Point station (Exelon Corp) join the Ginna reactor in foisting rate hikes on customers, giveaways that will keep the failed reactors spewing "allowable" radioactive emissions to the air and water indefinitely.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sometimes our tame and compliant media upchucks a piece of truth. For instance:
"American officials had predicted that the missile strike would result in a major shift in Assad's calculus, but the US attack appeared to be symbolic in reality.Within 24 hoursof the strike, monitoring groups reported that warplanes were again taking off from the bombed Shayrat air base, this time to attack Islamic State positions."
This paragraph in a Washington Post story refers, of course, to the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles Donald Trump earned such plaudits for launching against Syria on April 7. Suddenly he was our commander in chief, waging war -- or, well . . . waging "symbolic reality," whatever that means, at a cost (for the missiles) of maybe $83 million and change.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The advocacy organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is attempting an innovative method of challenging the Trump administration's denial of climate change: It has filed a lawsuit against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, demanding that he produce one shred of evidence that climate change is not primarily caused by humans. PEER is simultaneously pursuing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Pruitt to produce documents supporting his claims that global warming is "natural."
As quoted in a PEER news release announcing the actions:
"This lawsuit tells Mr. Pruitt to put or shut up – produce his evidence or stop spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science,” stated PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco who filed suit after EPA failed to produce the requested materials within FOIA’s statutory deadlines. “His confirmation as EPA Administrator does not entitle Mr. Pruitt to ignore existing agency research and proclaim his own set of alternative facts....”
“Mr. Pruitt spoke on television in his official capacity and must do so in a manner that honestly represents EPA’s scientific findings,” added Carlesco, noting that any other EPA employee would be subject to disciplinary action for presenting personal views as official policy. “Even if Mr. Pruitt is presenting his personal opinion, he must specify that he is not speaking for the agency – a disclaimer he did not make.”
In fact, Reuters reports that the EPA's own ombudsman is investigating a falsehood recently spewed by Pruitt.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Women's organizations are excoriating him. Advertisers are bailing on him. The president is defending him. Glenn Beck says he "deserves the benefit of the doubt." Viewers are flocking to him. Religious Right leaders are silent. So it has gone since the beginning of the month when The New York Times' Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt reported that Bill O'Reilly, the host of the Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" – the No. 1 program in cable news – had paid out $13 million to five women "in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him."
And, to add one more excruciatingly odd factoid to the above, O'Reilly's new book, called Old School, co-authored with Bruce Feirstein, and a defense of traditional family values, is #1 on The New York Times' "Combined Print and E-Book Best Sellers" list. The book is also doing quite well at Amazon, where, as of Sunday, April 16th, it is #10 in Books, #1 in Books, "Nationalism," "Public Affairs & Policy," and "Conservatism & Liberalism."
According to The New York Times' Alexandra Alter, Old School: Life in the Sane Lane (Henry Holt and Co.) "includes advice on how men should treat women respectfully, not as sex objects."
The "Product Description" at billoreilly.com, offers the following: "Those crusading against Old School now have a name: Snowflakes. You may have seen them on cable TV whining about social injustice and income inequality. You may have heard them cheering Bernie Sanders as he suggested the government pay for almost everything. The Snowflake movement is proud and loud, and they don't like Old School grads."
LAWRENCE WITTNER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Political parties on the far right are today enjoying a surge of support that they have not experienced since their heyday in the 1930s.
This phenomenon is particularly striking in Europe, where massive migration, sluggish economic growth, and terrorism have stirred up virulent nationalism, hatred of immigrants, and Islamophobia. Trumpeting these sentiments, parties like France's National Front (led by Marine Le Pen), Britain's United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, led by Nigel Farage), Netherlands' Party for Freedom (led by Geert Wilders), Italy's Northern League (led by Matteo Salvini), Austria's Freedom Party, Alternative for Germany, and others have become major political players.
Only one of these rising rightwing parties is usually referred to as fascist: Greece's Golden Dawn. Exploiting Greece's economic crisis and, especially, hatred of refugees and other migrants, Golden Dawn has used violent nationalism and the supposed racial superiority of Greeks to become Greece's third-largest party. Its spokesman, Elias Kasidiaris, is known for sporting a swastika on his shoulder and for reading passages from the anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to parliament. The party also employs gangs of black-shirted thugs who beat up immigrants.
Although the other far right parties strive for greater respectability, they also provide reminders of past fascist movements. Addressing a Northern League rally, Salvini wore a black shirt while supporters waved neo-Nazi symbols and photos of Benito Mussolini. Alternative for Germany has revived words and phrases once employed by the Nazis.