BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Gutting the government has been its primary raison d'être since its' founding in 1973, and not since the early days of the Reagan administration has it been closer to realizing that goal. The clatter you've been hearing since Election Day is the sound of Heritage Foundation staffers moving out of their lavish headquarters and marching over to Donald Trump's White House. Not only has the Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.'s most influential right-wing think tank/propaganda mill, provided blueprints on all sorts of issues for the Trump administration, it was hyperactive during the transition, vetting candidates for administration positions and providing the critical list of potential conservative Supreme Court nominees. Now, it is providing loyal administration soldiers.
Once disenchanted by Trump, characterizing him as a big-government and left-wing sympathizing type of guy, Heritage, under the leadership of former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, has more than made peace with The Donald. Trump's taking on of Mike Pence as his vice president aided the process immensely.
During the transition, Heritage staffers became a "crucial conduit between Trump's orbit and the once-skeptical conservative leaders who ultimately helped get him elected," according to Politico's Katie Glueck.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
So maybe this is how the US demilitarizes, or the American public at least returns to the consciousness of the late '60s, when protests rocked the streets and people demanded an end to the savagery in Vietnam:
Donald Trump, the Fool in the Tarot deck, the harbinger of change, removes the political correctness and public relations sensitivity from US foreign policy and goes naked about conquering the world. Suddenly the US president is Julius Caesar (or maybe Caligula) with orange hair, hugging fellow tyrants, ramping up the military budget, decapitating social spending, bombing Fourth World civilians without restriction and making America great in the only way he can imagine: "fighting to win."
And Trump is so blatant he awakes the snoozing American conscience. And the awareness and the anger stirred into being become a movement, and the movement isn't mere protest over Trump's behavior but a deep and profound cry for atonement for the colonial conquest, the genocide and slavery, out of which this nation created itself, and a demand that we begin acknowledging it rather than feigning ignorance of it -- because the face of ignorance is the face of Trump -- and in this acknowledgement we begin to undo the armed insanity of its contemporary manifestation.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Women and LGBTQI employees of federal contractors will become more vulnerable under the revocation of an Obama-era regulation that provides them with more protections in the workplace. Mother Jones reported on the lamentable irony Trump revoked "parental leave and sexual harassment protections the week before Equal Pay Day," along with other rollbacks of workplace equity and justice:
[The Obama order] required companies with federal contracts to heed 14 different labor and civil rights laws, including ones aimed at protecting parental leave, weeding out discrimination against women and minorities, and ensuring equal pay for women and fair processes surrounding workplace sexual harassment allegations.
Last week, Trump revoked this order, leaving workers at thousands of companies [with federal contracts] much more vulnerable to a host of abuses from their employers -- and undoing protections meant to create more equitable workplaces for women.
GOOD reported that Trump's action will significantly weaken the workplace rights of LGBTQIA workers.
CASSIE KELLY OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Greenland's icy coastlines are withering away at a rapid pace. With ever rising temperatures in the region, scientists fear the glaciers may never grow back.
A team from Ohio State University discovered that about 20 years ago, melting on the island reached a tipping point. In this event, a layer of old snow called the firn, was frozen over and the ice sheet growth was stunted. This caused the new growth on the coastlines to halt. Combined with rising temperatures of the sea, the ice has been melting away in large sectors. At the rate it's going, the team said there will be a 1.5 inch increase in global sea level rise by 2100.
According to the study:
The find is important because it reveals exactly why the most vulnerable parts of Greenland ice are melting so quickly: the deep snow layer that normally captures coastal meltwater was filled to capacity in 1997. That layer of snow and meltwater has since frozen solid, so that all new meltwater flows over it and out to sea.
Though these findings are bad news, the researchers said there is no "immediate cause for panic." The Greenland Ice Sheet -- the second largest ice cache in the world -- is relatively intact. Associate professor at Ohio State, and co-author of the study Ian Howat, said the outer layers of ice contribute a small portion to the greater sheet, and that their melting may even be ephemeral, or seasonal to some degree.
ETHAN GOFFMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For the good of the planet, and of the United States, the international community needs to put a carbon tariff on American exports now.
The Trump administration has announced that it is backing out of Obama's Clean Power Plan based largely on the mistaken belief that climate change is not happening. This makes it impossible to fulfill American commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement signed in December 2016. As historically the largest contributor to climate change, and still the second-largest global polluter, and as the ostensible leader of the "free world," the United States has an obligation to ensure the future of the planet, a responsibility that the Trump administration is shattering.
There is little question that the results will be disastrous. Even under the Paris accords, global temperatures are still expected to rise 3°C above pre-industrial levels, three times what we have seen so far. The increase in natural disasters we've already seen is only the beginning. Understanding the need to do even more, the architects of the climate agreement called for regular meetings to toughen standards.
Contrarily, the worst effects of climate change -- which the Trump administration is pushing us toward -- will bring about 4°Cof warming, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results will be irreversible, with extreme heat waves causing massive loss of life, complete disappearance of many glaciers, utter destruction of coral reefs, permanent flooding of coastal cities such as New Orleans, New York and Miami, and much, much more. The planet will simply be uninhabitable for humans, at least in the way we know it today.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
An April 4 email from the Courage Campaign -- a California-based grassroots organization -- warns that voter suppression by Republican state legislators is still going strong:
Republicans have ramped up voter suppression tactics around the country. In Wisconsin, local officials gave false information to voters. In Arizona and Mississippi, cuts in voting hours and locations resulted in voters waiting for hours in lines before casting their votes on election day. And stringent voter ID laws in six states around the country may have deterred hundreds of thousands of voters from turning out in 2016.
What's worse is that Republicans are openly gloating that their voter suppression strategies work -- especially those designed to prevent Black Americans from voting.
Our nation was founded on the belief that the government derives its power from the people. But voter suppression laws send a loud and clear message to marginalized citizens: your voice doesn't matter. When people feel their vote doesn't matter, they lose faith in the democratic process and stop showing up. This is why it's imperative that we stop Trump's voter fraud lies from creating more harmful voter suppression policies.
It's a marked contrast, the Courage Campaign notes, to Trump's repeated claim that there was rampant voter fraud in the presidential election. "His lie would almost be funny if it weren't so dangerous," the Campaign states.
KEVIN MARTIN AND REVEREND DR. HERBERT DAUGHTRY
Fifty years ago this April 4, a year to the day before he was murdered, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called us to overcome the giant triplets plaguing our society -- racism, militarism and extreme materialism -- in his 'Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence' address at Riverside Church in Manhattan. In his speech, King decried our descent into a 'thing-oriented society.' One wonders what he would think of our current, thing-oriented president.
In the remarkable speech, co-written with the late Vincent Harding, King also exclaimed, '[a] nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.' Unfortunately that is even more relevant today, as military spending consumes well over half the federal discretionary budget, and President Trump is advocating a nearly 10 percent, $54 billion increase, equivalent to the entire annual military budget of Russia, for the Pentagon and severe cuts to foreign aid, diplomacy, social and environmental programs.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." -- Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist.
The publicity shy, Trump-supporting, secretive multi-billionaire hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer is a man you wouldn't recognize on the subway, in a supermarket check-out line, or be able to pick out of a line-up. Now, he is finally getting what he has avoided for years; the glare of the public spotlight. A rash of recent articles has unmasked the New York City-based hedge-fund phenomenon. And while Mercer is being reluctantly drawn out of the shadows, his daughter Rebekah, who chaired Mercer's super PAC, Make America Number 1, urged Trump to bring Bannon onto his campaign staff, and subsequently played an important role on Trump's transition team, may be getting over the family's aversion to the limelight.
ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
President Barack Obama's drug war legacy is paved with partially good intentions. It differed greatly between his domestic agenda and around the world. The former showed signs of bravery, challenging decades of draconian and counterproductive policy toward drug users and dealers, reducing the number of incarcerated men and women across the United States.
The latter, however, mostly continued failed ideas of the past and consisted of funding and arming some of the most repressive nations in the world, including Honduras and Mexico, worsening apocalyptic gang and drug violence. Many refugees fleeing to the US are a result of these White House directives.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Most Americans Are Getting Poorer. How "Health Care for the Rich" Is Killing Many of Them
In his report, "This is how American health care kills people," Ryan Cooper tells the heartbreaking story of 29-year-old Matthew Stewart, who required emergency surgery for hepatitis-induced liver damage, but learned that only about $10,000 of his $74,000 bill was covered by his "gold plan" insurance policy, partly because of out-of-network rules even in emergencies. Then, when his insurance provider decided to quit the insurance exchange, Matthew was left without a liver specialist, and he couldn't obtain Medicaid because his state of Texas had refused the option to carry it. His alternative of declaring bankruptcy and leaving the state would be delayed by a lengthy legal process exacerbated by the physical and mental stress of his illness. But the hospitals kept sending their bills.
Evidence for the Financial Collapse of the Great Majority of Americans
The poorest 90% of Americans lost nearly $2 trillion in wealth in 2015-16, an average of $8,500 per adult. Every sector of society lost money except for the richest 1%, whose members gained an average of $1.5 million in that single year.
Wealth is down in part because income is down. Median household income is about $2,000 less than it was ten years ago.
There's much more evidence for the decline of all sectors except the upper class. Almost three-quarters of American consumers die with debt. Anywhere from two-thirds to 80% lack the savings needed for unexpected expenses.