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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

US Capitol west side copy33US Congress (Photo: Martin Falbisoner)

I noted in a January 31 commentary that President Trump signed an executive order that took "two steps backward in public protection regulations." His action requires that executive branch agencies can only create a new regulation by eliminating two existing ones. Many of the regulations that may now be on the chopping block are key protections of civil, human and environmental rights. Furthermore, remember that a new regulation could be pro-corporate, and it might replace two regulations that benefit the public good.

In thinking about regulations in the age of Trump, it is also essential to remember that Congress initiates its own regulations -- and acts of deregulation. Public Citizen, a national advocacy agency for the public good, points out in an email, as one example, that Congress can repeal recently enacted executive branch orders, noting:

As a result of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Americans could lose dozens of important health, safety, pocketbook and environmental protections established during the final six months of the last administration. The CRA allows Congress to strike down recently issued rules -- with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster -- and blocks agencies from ever again issuing “substantially similar” standards without express authorization from Congress....

Two rules already have been struck down: the stream protection rule and the overseas drilling anti-corruption rule. More are at risk of repeal every week. In practical terms, Congress will have 60 legislative working days – until sometime in May or June – to torpedo rules finalized after June 13, 2016.

In short, that means the Republican-controlled Congress that has made deregulation (with a few pro-corporate exceptions) a priority, and it has nearly half a year to annul many of the important regulations that were put in place during the last six months of the Obama administration.

2017.9.2 BF Koehler(Photo: Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation Management Command)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. Boy, you think our country's so innocent? You think our country's so innocent?"

We have carnage and we have irony.

The speaker is the president, of course. It's Super Bowl Sunday and here he is, generating another eyeball-popping headline as he dares to compare American "collateral damage" over the years with (as a chorus of shocked critics exclaimed) Vladimir Putin's remorseless homicides. This happened during a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly last Sunday, after O'Reilly had challenged Trump's coziness with Russia and called Putin a killer.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska summed up the outrage thus: "There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Dig 0208wrp opt(Photo: US Navy)Monsanto has officially broken ground on a $975 million expansion to its Luling plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The facility will manufacture dicamba, a controversial herbicide used in the company's new XtendiMax weedkiller for GMO soybeans and cotton.

Despite the company's promise to bring 120 new full-time jobs to the area, it seems many locals are unhappy with the project.

Angry online comments have flooded the Times-Picayune's coverage of the Feb. 3 groundbreaking. The newspaper's Facebook post of the story has garnered 433 shares and 114 comments so far, with many people criticizing the new plant as well as the company itself.

"120 jobs isn't worth having this toxic company in your backyard...," the top Facebook comment states. The comment was "Liked" 117 times.

"Diacamba [sic] is bad. California just won the right to label Roundup as cancer causing," a newspaper reader commented. "So excited for Cancer Alley to grow."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

EWarren 0208wrp opt(Photo: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, by Tim Pierce)Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) refused to allow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) to criticize Trump Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). In fact, he invoked a rarely used Senate rule to force Warren to end her remarks prematurely, while she was reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King. MSNBC reports:

Warren quoted from a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote in opposition to Sessions, an Alabama Republican, during his attempted confirmation for a federal judgeship 30 years ago.

The letter said that Sessions, who was then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, had used the "the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge."

McConnell and other Republicans said Warren violated Senate rules. The rule, No. 19, says senators cannot "directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."

MSNBC adds, "The Senate voted along partisan lines, 49-43, to admonish Warren." Thus, Warren was silenced and rebuked for speaking truth to power through the words of a great civil rights leader. In effect, McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate were also sanctioning Coretta Scott King.

CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cuffs 0208wrp opt(Photo: Rainerzufall1234)It's staggering to recall that one of Donald Trump's main appeals to many of his voters was a pledge to "drain the swamp" and rid Washington of corruption. In only two weeks he has, instead, begun stocking the swamp with new and poisonous creatures, making it yet more deadly, much as sugar planters did in the Caribbean importing fleur-de-lance and other poisonous snakes to discourage slaves from making new lives for themselves by escaping into the jungle.

Trump's cabinet, of course, may contain as many irreconcilable conflicts of interest as all the cabinets of the 20th century combined. Secretary of State Tillerson cannot do his job without becoming deeply enmeshed in the interest of ExxonMobil. Education Secretary DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Price, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Ross are ensnared with layers of inappropriate investments; Labor Secretary Puzder has made it clear that he wants to use his new position to reduce wages paid by his fast-food companies and only conceded on Feb. 1 that he might have to divest much of his investment portfolio to avoid future conflicts.

Trump's case for himself was "set a thief to catch a thief." He argued that he alone of recent Presidential candidates had been so deeply engaged in manipulating the federal tax code, that he alone knew how to fix it.

Well. If only.

2017.7.2 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Taber Andrew Bain)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

To paraphrase a remark attributed to Jesus, "Render unto Trump the things that are Trump, and unto Falwell the things that are Falwell's." And like that, President Donald Trump will be rewarding Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. for his early and earnest endorsement. According to Falwell, the administration has indicated that it will be tapping him to head up at least one and possibly two as yet to be created Department of Education task forces dealing with higher education. It appears that Falwell's goal will be to transform the Department of Education, an agency of which Falwell has been consistently critical. Falwell, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he had a "notebook full of issues," and he appears to be particularly interested in reigning in Title IX, dealing with student aid, and possibly pushing one of his pet causes; allowing guns on campus.

"I've been in conversations with [presidential adviser] Steve Bannon and others, and the president is forming some education task forces that I've been asked to head," said Falwell, who apparently turned down an invitation by Team Trump to head up the Department of Education.

Len Stevens, Liberty's spokesman, indicated that Falwell "will push to stop regulations coming out of the Education Department, especially those that apply to colleges and universities," CNN reported. CNN's Dan Merica pointed out that "Falwell has been particularly interested in curbing rules that require schools to investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination in education."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2017.7.2 BF Karlin(Photo: Nate Bolt)

In a February 3 article on Truthout, Spencer Sunshine reported on a Trump administration plan that is circulating to roll back the monitoring and prevention of domestic white terrorism:

The Trump administration's reported new plan to change a federal program which combats violent "extremism" into a project focused exclusively on "radical Islam" looks like another step toward demonizing Muslims -- while adding to concerns that the administration will actively empower open white supremacist groups. Reuters reports that multiple inside sources say the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant program will be being renamed either "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism."

Almost every year, the white supremacist movement is the political movement that kills the most Americans. (In the rare year that they don't come in first, they come in second.) But, for many years now, the federal government has refused to focus resources on violent far-right groups. Instead, efforts have been poured into surveilling the Muslim community at large -- even going so far as to entrap Muslims in order to arrest them.

Sunshine later notes:

Ignoring far-right movements seems to be a longstanding federal strategy

2017.7.2 BF Chow(Photo: Gerald Simmons)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill to curtail the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to address climate change.

The "Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017" (HR637) would amend the Clean Air Act so that:

"The term 'air pollutant' does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride."

The bill was introduced by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and has already racked up 114 Republican co-sponsors. Palmer is a climate denier who once said that temperature data used to measure global climate change have been "falsified" and manipulated.

STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

WindFarm 0206wrp opt(Photo: Leaflet)Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate voted 32-13 Thursday to expand the state's renewable energy target restoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the measure in May of last year. The bill is now in effect.

The bill increases requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020, increased from 20 percent by 2022. The renewable portfolio standard (RPS), according to the Maryland Climate Coalition, will result in an additional 250 megawatts of solar energy in the state and more than 1,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in the region.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this bill is a big win for Maryland's economy. Wind power relies on a robust American supply chain that consists of 500 factories across 43 states, the wind energy organization touts, with wind energy already providing $380 million of capital investment in Maryland, and wind turbine lease payments generating up to $1 million a year in the state.

"Making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said. "From the Free State's population-hubs to majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses."

BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ballot 0206wrp opt(Photo: Rama)Donald Trump's relentless insistence that three million "aliens" voted for Hillary Clinton and cost him a popular majority in November's presidential election cuts far beyond what the corporate media is willing to report. When it comes to undermining democracy in the US, Trump is once again proving that the best defense is a total attack, even if it relies on "alternative facts."

Trump's Big Lie on voter fraud has been as widely scorned as his fantasies about the size of the turnout at his inauguration. Even the normally restrained New York Times has editorialized that "what once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy."

It seems to be dawning on The Times and others that by claiming so many non-citizens voted more than once, Trump re-loads America's Jim Crow lynch laws against Black people voting. Based on these assertions, we can expect more and more aggressive attacks by the administration against the rights of non-whites and non-millionaires to a fair and honest ballot.  

Indeed, the corporate media has not yet faced the devastation of mass disenfranchisement in 2016. As reported by Greg Palast (www.gregpalast.com) and others, some thirty GOP Secretaries of State across the US used a computer program called Crosscheck to strip thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim voters from the registration rolls. These mass disenfranchisements could well have made the difference in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College while so thoroughly losing the popular vote.

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