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The warming in the Arctic, which is heating up at least twice as fast as the rest of the planet, "will have profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world," Taalas saidView from the Polar ice rim on September 2, 2009. (Photo: United Nations Photo)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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The United Nations announced Thursday that 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño event kicking up global annual temperatures.

Last year's average surface temperatures -- driven by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions -- was 1.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times, putting the world on course to breach the internationally agreed "1.5°C" temperature barrier to avoid dangerous climate change set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Significantly, the Paris agreement could be negatively impacted by President Donald Trump and his administration's rash of anti-environmental policies. Trump, who famously denies climate change and wants to promote US fossil fuels, plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan that limits power plant emissions and intends to withdraw the US from the landmark climate accord.

2018.23.1 BF HightowerCEO and founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos (Photo: Mathieu Thouvenin)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The hustlers claim that job incentives are a sound investment of our tax dollars, because those new jobs create new taxpayers, meaning investments soon pay for themselves. Hmmm ... not quite. In fact, not even close.

Last year, Good Jobs First tracked the 386 incentive deals since 1976 that gave at least $50 million to a corporation, and then it tallied the number of jobs created. The average cost per job was $658,427. Each! That's likely far more than cities and states can recover through sales, property, income and all other taxes those jobholders would pay in their lifetimes. Worse, the rise of megadeals in the past 10 years has made the job-incentive argument mega-ridiculous: -- New York gave a $258-million subsidy to Yahoo and got 125 jobs -- costing taxpayers $2 million per job.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

GunFlag 0122wrp opt(Photo: katesheets / Flickr)During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump pledged over and over again that he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep the "rapists" out, and, at the same time, he would keep America safe from "radical Islamic terrorism." Both those promises were aimed at stoking up fear and loathing against immigrants and Muslims. It certainly stirred up his base. To my knowledge, Trump, who falsely claimed to know nothing about the white supremacist David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, turned a blind eye to terrorism perpetrated by extremist right-wing groups.

Trump's blind eye notwithstanding, terrorist acts committed by extreme right-wing groups and individuals continues to be a clear and present danger.

In late-August, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), issued a report titled Domestic Terrorism: An Overview, which maintained that while it was important in the post-9/11 period to focus on terrorist attacks emanating from outside the country, "domestic terrorists—people who commit crimes within the homeland and draw inspiration from U.S.-based extremist ideologies and movements—[and] have killed American citizens and damaged property across the country," should not be overlooked.

Monday, 22 January 2018 06:32

Revolution by Drone

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Drone 0122wrp optPhoto: Andrew Turner / Flickr)When average Americans were oppressed in the 18th century, they knew where the plutocrats lived, and they didn't have military-style police forces holding them back. The Stamp Act drove the New York masses to ransack the houses of Governor Cadwallader Colden and the British major who was pointing army artillery toward the local town. Another mob looted the house of pro-English aristocrat Thomas Hutchinson, carrying away his fine furnishings and emptying his wine cellar in part of what the British called a "war of plunder" to take away the "distinction of rich and poor." 

That doesn't happen today. The super-rich are safely ensconced in their gated estates with private security forces and 9-foot walls and surveillance systems and sniper posts. But now they have good reason to fear the future. We all do. The too-rapid evolution of intelligent machines, with the ability to make decisions that can impact human life, is bringing us closer to a man-made epidemic that we won't be able to control. As armed drones become tinier and cheaper and smarter and more readily accessible, they could launch the modern revolution of the undervalued human being.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Trumpy 0119wrp opt(Portrait: DonkeyHotey / Flickr)It's difficult to find any other reasons for President Donald Trump to fire, without explanation, the remaining members of the council advising him on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, other then he is indifferent to the health needs of minority communities, LGBTQ Americans, and that he is once again playing to his white conservative Christian evangelical base.

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA),which was established in 1995, makes national HIV/AIDS strategy recommendations —setting out how health officials should respond to the epidemic.

David Kilmnick, the president of the LGBT Network, criticized the dismissals. "We have finally made significant progress in trying to end the epidemic once and for all and the irrational and immature moves by Trump will only set us back," he said in a statement.

Oddly enough … or maybe not so oddly enough … in September, Trump issued an executive order "continuing 32 advisory committees — including the council on H.I.V. and AIDS — whose operating authorities had been set to expire," The New York Times reported late last year.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

tomcottonjpg13Tom Cotton should not be a public servant if has contempt for his constituents. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) is a reliable supporter of Donald Trump. He recently was one of two senators who implausibly claimed, during a meeting on DACA, that Trump did not use a highly derogatory and profane term about majority non-white nations. In short, Cotton almost certainly lied to provide the president with cover for wanton bigotry. Charles Pierce writes of Cotton and Trump in the January 16 Esquire: "The two of them share an instinct for vicious, self-serving political utilitarianism, an overweening ambition far beyond their actual talents, and a casual disinterest in the truth if it conflicts with expedience."

It is not, therefore, surprising that Cotton and Trump share an intolerance toward those individuals and groups that disagree with them. Of course, it is one of the most basic assumptions of democracy that constituents can communicate their concerns and criticisms to their representatives through a variety of means, such as emails, letters, the telephone and protests. This ability for constituents to express their views is one of the most vital ingredients in a robust democracy.

However, Cotton -- a Tea Party favorite -- apparently doesn't believe that such communication is welcome, when it comes to those who take issue with his positions. The Arkansas Times reported on January 18 that Cotton's Washington, DC office has been issuing cease-and-desist letters to some of his Arkansas residents, warning them not to contact Cotton.

Protestors carry signs as they demonstrate against proposed cuts to Medical and Medicare outside San Francisco city hall on September 21, 2011 in San Francisco, CaliforniaProtestors carry signs as they demonstrate against proposed cuts to Medical and Medicare outside San Francisco city hall on September 21, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo: AUCD)JOHN GEYMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Medicaid was enacted in 1965 under the Lyndon Johnson administration as a social insurance program to provide lower-income Americans with the health care they need. Since then it has been solidly supported by all subsequent administrations as a social contract within our society, as a matter of fairness and necessity. As poverty and inequality have increased in more recent years, it has become a mainstay assuring necessary medical care for some 74 million Americans, covering more than one in five Americans, almost one half of births, 39 percent of children, and about two-thirds of nursing home and long-term care, and more than one-quarter of mental health services. It has been described as "the backstop for America's scattershot health care system."

Not anymore. The Trump administration is out to shrink the program by whatever means, now including administrative actions by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that bypass action by Congress. Seema Verma, Trump's appointed head of CMS, did just that in Indiana during Michael Pence's governorship. She has recently released a 10-page memo detailing how states can apply for waivers that can rein in their Medicaid programs, even in states that expanded Medicaid since 2010 under the Affordable Care Act. Through these waivers, states can exclude able-bodied adults from coverage unless they are working at least 20 hours per week. Children and disabled people are excluded from the work requirement. Ongoing reports will be required documenting that Medicaid recipients are working. If they fail to comply with these requirements, they can be locked out of coverage entirely. These new reporting requirements will greatly increase the bureaucracy involving Medicaid.

Thursday, 18 January 2018 07:08

The Wisdom of Mass Salvation

The US has enormous power, but so what? Such data is almost never addressed in the mainstream media -- certainly not in the context of disarmament.The US has enormous power, but so what? Such data is almost never addressed in the mainstream media -- certainly not in the context of disarmament. (Photo: Cowboy George)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Incoming! Incoming!

Uh . . . pardon me while I interrupt this false alarm to quote Martin Luther King:

"Science investigates," he says inThe Strength To Love, "religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals."

These words stopped me in my tracks on MLK Day. They seemed to fill a hole in the breaking news, which never quite manages to balance power with wisdom, or even acknowledge the distinction.

Our relationship to power is unquestioned, e.g.: "In the United States itself, there are around [nuclear] 4,500 warheads, of which approximately 1,740 are deployed," Karthika Sasikumar writes at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. "Even more worrying, around 900 of these are on hair-trigger alert, which means that they could be launched within 10 minutes of receiving a warning (which could turn out to be a false alarm). . . .

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

donaldtrump334Trump's standing on the world stage is plummeting. ( Gage Skidmore)

Yesterday, Donald Trump tweeted out his personal awards for alleged "fake news" -- a term by which he means any news coverage that is critical of him or that he doesn't like. It's his way of keeping his base sufficiently misled and the mass news media off balance.

However, it would be hard for Trump to apply his "fake news" label to a just-released international Gallup Poll that reveals that the US's standing in the world has plummeted under his presidency. Germany is now, according to the poll, the "top-rated global power. The poll reveals that respect for US leadership has dropped 40 points in Canada and 28 points in Mexico (the two other major economic powers in North America). That's quite a plummet in a little less than a year.

CNN summarizes the findings in a January 18 article,

The Gallup poll puts global approval of US leadership at just 30%, slightly behind China on 31% and only three points ahead of Russia. Germany is now the top-rated global power in the world, with an approval rating of 41%, according to the survey.

The US rating is down nearly 20 points from the 48% approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama's administration, Gallup said. It's also four points lower than the previous low of 34%, seen in the final year of George W. Bush's presidency.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Zinke 0117wrp optInterior Secretary Zinke. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)Nearly all members of the National Park Service advisory panel abruptly quit on Monday in protest of the Trump administration's policies, which they say have neglected science, climate change and environmental protections.

"From all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside," the head of the panel, Tony Knowles, wrote in a letter of resignation addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees management of the country's national parks and monuments.

The letter was signed by nine of the panel's 12 members. The bipartisan panel was appointed by former President Obama. The terms of the members who quit were due to expire in May.

The advisory board, first authorized in 1935, advises the director of the National Park Service and the interior secretary on matters relating to the National Park Service and the National Park System.

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