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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pulpit 0922wrp optPulpit Rock, Colorado Springs. (Photo: Bret Maverick)What's been happening politically and culturally this year in Colorado's second largest city is inspiring. Progressive/populist organizing to build grassroots movements to counter plutocratic rule and govern in the people's interest now have a model of success in one of the least likely places.

Since the 1990s, Colorado Springs has been shaped by an inordinate number of right-wing institutions. Yet, the Springs also is home to a hardy band of progressives, including environmentalists, unionists, women's champions, scrappy entrepreneurs, LGBTQ activists, students and teachers, a sizeable immigrant population, social justice church groups and some sensible libertarians.

With Bernie Sanders bringing new, highly energized voters into play, young people who had previously evinced zero interest in the old Democratic-Republican duopoly were rallying behind Bernie's grassroots populism. His revolutionary call to rein in America's corporate oligarchs also sparked a fire in older, working-class people, including Repubs and none-of-the-above folks who'd given up on the idea that either party gave a damn about people like them. A shift was occurring in Colorado Springs' political zeitgeist — one that might open a path for new alignments and a progressive-populist movement.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

GrahamCassidy.jpg23Most insurance companies know that Graham-Cassidy should not replace Obamacare (Image: Center for American Progress Action Fund)

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How can a zombie piece of legislation that will end up in the premature deaths of many Americans and cause increased financial hardship to others -- among just some of its flaws -- re-emerge yet again?

That is a good question.

Trump and the Republicans are clamoring that insurance companies are going broke because of Obamacare. Then why aren't these insurance companies jumping on the "repeal Obamacare" bandwagon? It is a bit breathtaking to find out that even the greedy health insurance industry opposes the Graham-Cassidy bill -- which would have to be passed by September 30.

A September 20 New York Times article succinctly states in its headline, "Insurers Come Out Swinging Against New Republican Health Care Bill." It declares:

The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market.

In the face of the industry opposition, Senate Republican leaders nevertheless said they would push for a showdown vote next week on the legislation, drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

The health insurance industry, the New York Times story notes, is joined by plenty of allies in its opposition:

Senate Republicans are already under pressure from 11 governors -- including five fellow Republicans and a pivotal Alaskan independent -- who this week urged the Senate to reject the last-ditch repeal effort.

The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.

Trump's newest Environmetal Protection Agency pick, Michael L. Dourson, has massaive ties to some of the chemical industry's biggest names.Trump's newest Environmetal Protection Agency pick, Michael L. Dourson, has massaive ties to some of the chemical industry's biggest names. (Photo: TexasGOPVote / Flickr)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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From Scott Pruitt to Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump has notoriously appointed a slew of individuals with serious conflicts of interests with the departments they oversee.

The latest is Michael L. Dourson, Trump's pick to head the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the government's chemical safety program. Media reports reveal that the toxicologist is under intense scrutiny for his extensive ties to the chemical industry and a resumé dotted with some of the biggest names in the field: Koch Industries Inc., Chevron Corp., Dow AgroSciences, DuPont and Monsanto.

After working as a staff toxicologist for the EPA from 1980 to 1994, Dourson founded and ran the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment(TERA), a nonprofit research group that has been paid by chemical corporations to research and write reports that downplay the health risks posed by their products, the New York Times reports. TERA has since been renamed as the Risk Science Center at the University of Cincinnati, where Dourson is a professor.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 06:32

Reclaiming the Truth About Vietnam

American soldiers on patrol during the Vietnam War in 1965.American soldiers on patrol during the Vietnam War in 1965. (Photo: manhhal / flickr)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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"From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces."

OK, I get it. Soldiers suffer, soldiers die in the wars we wage, and the commander in chief has to, occasionally, toss clichés on their graves.

The words are those of Barack Obama, five-plus years ago, issuing a Memorial Day proclamation establishing a 13-year commemoration of the Vietnam War, for which, apparently, about $65 million was appropriated.

Veterans for Peace calls it money allocated to rewrite history and has begun a counter-campaign called Full Disclosure, the need for which is more glaring than ever, considering that there is close to zero political opposition to the unleashed American empire and its endless war on terror.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

14068005575 d18b05b51d zThe income divide, as revealed in a Census Bureau report, is a legacy of racism. (Image: US Government)

 

Last week, the Census Bureau released an alarming report. Although the mainstream corporate media generally highlighted results that showed median income for American families has risen at a good clip the past year, the gap between the median incomes for white people and people of color remains at a staggering level. According to ThinkProgress,

New Census Bureau data shows an increasingly optimistic picture for white Americans -- but far less so for Americans of color, many of whom still face stark income disparities.

Released Tuesday, the numbers appear to show good news across the board in several key areas. Median household income in the United States in 2016 was $59,039 -- a more than three percent rise from 2015 and the highest ever recorded....

But the figures also show a grim reality. While white families now earn an average income of around $65,041, that picture is far less rosy for other racial demographics. Hispanic families earn around $47,675 -- considerably lower than the over-arching average, $59,039. Worse off are Black families, who earn a median of $39,490, more than $25,000 less than their white counterparts.

The Census Bureau told ThinkProgress that no reason could be given for the gaps, and Census Bureau commentary could only be offered on the figures and trends. But experts and economists highlighted the data on social media, pointing to the numbers as a disconcerting sign that the figures reinforce income inequality in a damning way, one that also cuts along gendered lines. Janelle Jones, an economic analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, noted on Twitter that “earnings actually DECREASED for black women and Latinas” while they rose for white women (women of all races are still out-earned significantly by their male counterparts).

It's worth taking a moment to reflect on the fact that not only is there a persistent income gap between whites and people of color, but that women of color have actually seen a decline in income. That's a startling inequitable fact.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SolarPark 0920wrp opt(Photo: Activ Solar)The Dubai government has awarded a $3.9 billion contract to construct the 700-megawatt fourth and final phase of the world-record-holding Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The project also includes the construction of an 850-foot-tall solar tower that receives focused sunlight, the world's tallest such structure once complete.

The contract was awarded to a consortium of China's Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power, who bid a Levelized Cost of Electricity of 7.3 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour—a record low price for concentrated solar power (CSP).

"Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world," Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA, said.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mine Safety and Health Administration emblemMiners should be concerned about a loosening of job safety standards under Trump. (Image: US Government)

Donald Trump is continuing to appoint horrific nominees to oversee regulatory agencies that impact workers and the economy. To understand the extent of the damage, take a look at the "Policy Watch" of the Economic Policy Institute's (EPI) Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages. The institute closely follows the Trump administration's appointments and regulations, looking at whether its actions "help working people or only benefit the wealthy few," according to its website. Thus far, the White House appears determined to install individuals who have backgrounds that violate workers' rights instead of protecting them.

For example, many coal miners in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky voted for Trump, but the president is giving them the shaft when it comes to overseeing their safety. The Economic Policy Institute describes David Zatezalo, Trump's nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA):

Zatezalo formerly served as chief executive of Rhino Resources, a coal company that had numerous clashes with MSHA officials during the Obama administration. Following the Upper Big Branch mine disaster on April 5, 2010, MSHA stepped up its enforcement efforts, and identified a number of health and safety violations at Zatezalo’s company….

MSHA [which is in the Department of Labor] carries out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and mine worker deaths have decreased dramatically since then. However, to date in 2017, twelve miners have died on the job, and 25 died in 2016.

In a news alert email, EPI refers to Zatezalo as one of the Trump-appointed "foxes guarding the henhouse."

JOSEPH GERSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NoNukes 0920wrp optHanging in the window of the Hard Rock Café in Bangkok. (Photo: Daniel Grosvenor)On September 20, in a formal UN ceremony, the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty will be opened for signatures. The treaty further stigmatizes nuclear weapons and seeks to outlaw their use, threatened the use, development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession or stockpiling nuclear weapons, transfer and deployment.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could unconditionally celebrate the negotiation of the "ban" treaty? It emerged from the righteous anger of most the world's nations at the nuclear powers' refusal to fulfill their Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) obligation to engage in good faith negotiations for the elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Who wouldn't want to celebrate 122 governments -- more than half of the UN member states -- having the gumption to insist enough and no more?

The nuclear weapons states and their allies -- that's who! Governments, militaries and elites who use preparations for and threats to use nuclear weapons to bolster their power and privilege. Men and women who practice international relations in the tradition of mafia dons. Those who profit from and have their fingers on the nuclear triggers.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

OccMonsanto 0919wrp opt(Photo: Daniel Lobo)Two years ago, the debate over glyphosate's link to cancer took a surprising turn when the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) infamously rejected the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer's March 2015 classification of the weedkiller as a possible carcinogen.

However, new reporting from the Guardian reveals that the European agency's recommendation that the chemical is safe for public use was based on an EU report that directly lifted large sections of text from a study conducted by Monsanto, the manufacturer of glyphosate-based Roundup.

The particular sections cover some of the biggest questions about glyphosate's supposed health risks, including its links to genotoxicity, carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity.

The revelation comes as the European Union debates whether it should extend its licensing of the world's most popular herbicide. As it happens, the EFSA provides scientific advice to the EU and plays a key role in the authorization of thousands of products that end up in Europe's food chain, including genetically modified organisms, pesticides, food additives and nanotech products, according to Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit watchdog group.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

HealthPig 0919wrp opt(Photo: 401kcalculator.org / Flickr)Believe it or not, we can get Congress to enact a new program providing good quality, lower-cost health care for your family and (what the hell, let's think big here) for every man, woman and (especially) every child in our society.

Step One: eliminate every dime of the multimillion-dollar government subsidy that now covers platinum-level health insurance for all 535 Members of Congress and their families. Let those laissez-faire ideologues who have saddled us with an exorbitantly-expensive, dysfunctional and (let's admit it) sick system of medical profiteering experience what they've wrought, without any government pampering. This includes shutting down their "Office of the Attending Physician," a little-known spot of pure, 100 percent socialized medicine conveniently located in our U.S. Capitol to provide a full range of government-paid doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who give immediate, on-the-spot attention to these special ones. A seriously sick child, a car wreck, a cancer diagnosis — and suddenly the civilized idea of Medicare for All will start making sense even to anti-government, you're-on-your-own Republican ideologues.

Well, you might say, they still won't feel the pain, because they're one-percenters, pulling down $174,000 a year each from us taxpayers, meaning they can afford to buy decent health insurance. Ah, but here comes Step Two: put all of our congressional goof-offs on piece-rate, pay-for-performance salaries. Why pay them a flat rate whether they produce or not? For example, American babies are more likely to die in their first year of life than babies in Poland, which provides universal health insurance for all of its people. So, every year that the U.S. Congress fails to provide health coverage for every American family, the members should get their pay docked by a third. Pay them only when they deliver for the people, not for their ideological purity.

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