JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
During the farm crisis of the 1980s, an Iowa farmer asked if I knew the difference between a family farmer and a pigeon. When I said no, he delighted in explaining: "A pigeon can still make a deposit on a new John Deere."
That's funny — except, it really wasn't. Worse, the bitter reality of the tractor joke is still true: The farm crisis has not gone away, though hundreds of thousands of farm families have. The economic devastation in farm country continues unabated as agribusiness profiteers, Wall Street speculators, urban sprawlers and corrupted political elites squeeze the life out of farmers and rural America.
Remember last year's presidential debates? Trump and Clinton talked about the needs of hard-hit working-class families, veterans and coal miners among others. But, hellloooo, where were farmers? Indeed, where was the multitude of producers who toil on the lands and waters of this country to bring food to our tables? All went unmentioned, even though economic and emotional depression is spreading through their communities, thanks to bankruptcy-level prices paid by corporate middlemen. In the past three years, farm income has declined steadily, plummeting 12 percent in just the last year. But these crucial-but-endangered food producers were totally disappeared by the political cognoscenti.
Actually, the farmer has long been forgotten in America's presidential discussion. In a New York Times op-ed, Professor A. Hope Jahren reported on the discovery she made when reading through transcripts of past debates: "Farm policy hasn't come up even once in a presidential debate for the past 16 years."
That's Bush-Kerry, Obama-McCain, Obama-Romney, and Trump-Clinton! Not one of them mentioned the people who produce our food. Jahren notes that the monetary value of farm production alone is nearly eight times greater than coal mining, a declining industry whose voters Clinton and Trump avidly courted.
MICHAEL MANN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. It's meant to describe how industry special interests and their patrons in power single out individual researchers or teams of scientists for attack, in much the same way lions of the Serengeti single out an individual zebra from the herd. In numbers, after all, there is strength, while individuals and small groups are far more vulnerable—and the purpose is two-fold: to undermine the credibility of wider scientific consensus and to discourage other researchers from sticking out their necks and participating in the public discourse over matters of policy-relevant science.I coined the term "Serengeti Strategy" in my 2012 book
When it comes to attacks on climate scientists specifically, this strategy follows a familiar script. On the eve of a critical Congressional vote, hearing or climate policy summit, a late-breaking "scandal" suddenly erupts. Individual scientists are typically charged with claims of misconduct, fraud or data manipulation and soon enough, right-wing blogs, climate-denying websites and the conservative establishment media are trumpeting the accusations. In time, more objective media outlets are forced to cover the uproar, lending it credibility and oxygen, even as it is responsibly dissected.
With the public conversation hijacked, meaningful progress on climate policy is blunted and the vested interests seeking to maintain our current addition to fossil fuels prevail.
The latest example of this strategy began unfolding earlier this month when David Rose, an opinion writer for the British tabloid The Daily Mail—known for misrepresentations of climate change and serial attacks on climate scientists—published a commentary attacking Tom Karl, the recently retired director of the National Centers for Environmental Information at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a scientist for whom I have deep respect. Rose accused Karl and his co-authors of having "manipulated global warming data" in a 2015 study published in the journal Science. These charges were built entirely on an interview with a single disgruntled former NOAA employee, John Bates.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a recent interview, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked what Black History Month means to him. In a thoughtful three-minute response, Popovich talked about the “monstrous advantage” that white people have, the insensitivity of President Donald Trump, and he called the treatment of Black people in America “our national sin.” Surprised and saddened by Trump’s election, Popovich has been more than willing to share his thoughts on the president, racism, and a myriad of other political and social issues.
Unless you’re a basketball fan, it is possible you’ve never heard of Popovich. If you are a fan of the NBA, however, you know his accomplishments as a coach of the San Antonio Spurs, guiding them to five NBA championships, and being named NBA Coach of the Year three times. Recently, Popovich tied, and then surpassed the NBA record for the most career wins by a coach with the same franchise, set several years ago by Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz. But Gregg Popovich’s legacy extends far beyond setting records and winning NBA championships. Gregg Popovich is a national treasure.
In a post-election piece titled “Gregg Popovich is the NBA’s most ‘woke’ coach,” (https://theundefeated.com/features/san-antonio-spurs-gregg-popovich-is-the-nbas-most-woke-coach/) The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears wrote: “In the sports world, there may not be a head coach more ‘woke’ than this 67-year-old, opinionated, sarcasm-loving, world-adoring and socially aware white man named Gregg Popovich.” Spears pointed out that “Popovich attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was a basketball star and received a bachelor’s degree in Soviet studies, [and] [h]e served five years of required active duty in the Air Force.”
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
As nearly 200,000 Northern California residents flee to higher ground over the threat of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway's failure Sunday night, a report has emerged that state and federal officials were warned 12 years ago that the earthen structure was already at risk of erosion.
The Mercury News reported that back in Oct. 2005, Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) during the Oroville Dam's relicensing process.
The environmental groups said that the dam, which California built and completed in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards and urged FERC to secure the dam's emergency spillway with concrete rather than have it remain as an earthen hillside.
Should extreme rain and flooding occur, the groups warned that the excess water could overwhelm the main concrete spillway and flow into the auxiliary spillway. Too much water could cause heavy erosion and potentially unleash flooding and threaten nearby communities.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTJULIA TRAVERS OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Sidd Bikkannavar, a U.S.-born citizen and scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) when trying to reenter the country from Chile late last month. Bikkannavar was in Patagonia racing solar-powered cars. He was detained by CPB in Houston without explanation and forced to unlock his NASA-issued phone.
After his passport was scanned, he was taken into a back room where other detained travelers waited on cots. Bikkannavar is a member of Global Entry, a CBP program that “allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers" upon arrival in the U.S.
Bikkannavar asked "Why was I chosen?" But, no response was given, The Verge reported.
Bikkannavar was questioned on basic information already provided by his Global Entry membership and then asked to hand over and unlock his work phone. He was reticent to unlock his phone because it was issued by a federal agency and might contain sensitive information -- NASA employees are told to protect work data. He tried to politely explain this when the CBP officer handed him an Inspection of Electronic Devices form.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
stranding of pilot whales.More than 500 volunteers flocked to a remote bay in New Zealand in response to a devastating mass
Around 416 pilot whales beached near the base of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay overnight, of which 250 to 300 were already dead when the whales were discovered, the Department of Conservation announced in a Feb. 10 media release.
A witness told The Washington Post that the whales were "crying and sighing" as they lay stranded on the beach.
Friday's incident was the third largest whale stranding ever recorded in New Zealand and the largest known whale stranding in the country since 1985, when 450 were stranded in Auckland, Reuters reported.
Rescuers tried to refloat the remaining cetaceans during high tide on Friday morning but only had partial success. Around 50 whales had swum out of the bay but 80 to 90 had re-stranded on the beach by the afternoon.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Based on reliable news sources, his biographer, and his own writings, the most powerful man of his era has been referred to as an "egomaniac" and "narcissist," possessing a "big mouth" with an "impulsive style," unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood, preferring emotion over facts, focused on national greatness and law & order, fearful of "foreignization," prone to coarseness and put-downs in speeches, and fond of "mantralike phrases" filled with "accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future."
The man described above is Adolf Hitler. All of the descriptions were attributed to the Nazi leader: some of it by news media in the 1930s, some of it by modern historian and biographer Volker Ullrich, some of it by Hitler himself in "Mein Kampf." Eerily familiar to the present day.
Donald Trump placed a painting of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, apparently feeling pleased that, in his own words, "a lot of people they compare the campaign of Trump with the campaign of [Jackson]."
Andrew Jackson may have been our most racist president. To him, Native Americans were only 'savages' standing in the way of progress. For ten years Jackson arranged 'treaties' with Indians in the American southeast, setting up his own friends as land agents, traders, and surveyors while encouraging white squatters to take over the land. Eventually recognizing Florida as vital to "national security," he initiated raids on Seminole villages, burning down homes and forcing out residents, all in the name of the "immutable laws of self-defense." The result was a Trail of Tears that led thousands of sick and starving Cherokees across the Mississippi in the middle of winter to unfamiliar and unproductive land far from their home.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just as Karl Rove was often referred to as President George W. Bush’s brain, Steven K. Bannon just may be President Donald Trump’s brain on steroids. Were President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” – aka the Muslim ban -- and the naming of Bannon, his chief strategist, to the National Security Council, indicative of the first stages of a holy war against Islam?
As The Washington Post’s Frances Stead Sellers and David A. Fahrenthold recently pointed out, “Bannon’s past statements, aired primarily on Breitbart and other conservative platforms, serve as a road map for the controversial agenda that has roiled Washington and shaken the global order during Trump’s first two weeks in office.”
In 2014, before Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker, who at the time was the proprietor of the incendiary white-nationalist Brietbart News, became a household name as Trump’s chief political strategist, he told a Vatican-held Christian conference audience that: "We're now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism."
Speaking at the International Conference on Human Dignity -- the third annual meeting organized by the Rome-based Christian organization Dignitatis Humanae Institute – via Skype, Bannon told the gathering: "We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH.COM
The din coming from Washington with the bombastic, pernicious arrival of the Trump spectacle has continued to keep America's longest war in the back pages of the news, if it makes the news at all. However, it is vital that we remember this war that was begun by the US and that has been raging for more than 15 years now. The original impetus was, ostensibly, to punish the Taliban government in the wake the of 9/11 attacks for harboring Al Qaeda. Yet it would be hard to define why we are there now except for the imperatives of US hegemony and military empire.
The war began on October 7, 2001. The US combat mission in the nation was declared at a formal end in 2014, but the US never really withdrew all its advisers and soldiers stationed there for "training" purposes. In addition, military contractors affiliated with the US government likely remained active in the country.
In fact, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), according to National Public Radio (NPR), confirmed that "There are still more than 13,000 NATO troops -- including 8,400 U.S. service members -- deployed to Afghanistan." McCain's opinion was that there should actually be more troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Now, it appears possible that the US will officially return to combat in Afghanistan, reaffirming that it is a war without an end in sight.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Of all the economic pain in America that Washington ought to be relieving, what group would you choose as the top priority?
Public opinion surveys consistently reveal that the great majority of us say that people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder -- the poor and the failing middle class— are the ones Congress should focus on. But, then, regular people don't run Congress -- or Donald Trump's White House.
On February 3, Trump and a blue-ribbon panel of working-class champions announced a bold new initiative to create millions of new American jobs. The panel members were genuinely thrilled that the president was acting so swiftly and decisively. Indeed, a spokesman for the group, Steve Schwarzman, praised Trump as a leader who wants to "do things a lot better in our country, for all Americans."