Guest Commentary (4565)
GEORGE LAKOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There is a lot being written spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.
Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.
KICK KENNEDY OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 1988, my then Hyannis Port neighbor the late Kurt Vonnegut wrote a prescient letter to the Earth's planetary citizens of 2088 for Volkswagen's TIME magazine ad campaign. His seven points of advice are perhaps more relevant today than at any time in human history. We should keep this advice in mind this election year and adopt Vonnegut's recommendations while we still can.
Here's his letter:
Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088:
It has been suggested that you might welcome words of wisdom from the past, and that several of us in the twentieth century should send you some. Do you know this advice from Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'This above all: to thine own self be true'? Or what about these instructions from St. John the Divine: 'Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment has come'? The best advice from my own era for you or for just about anybody anytime, I guess, is a prayer first used by alcoholics who hoped to never take a drink again: 'God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.'
Our century hasn't been as free with words of wisdom as some others, I think, because we were the first to get reliable information about the human situation: how many of us there were, how much food we could raise or gather, how fast we were reproducing, what made us sick, what made us die, how much damage we were doing to the air and water and topsoil on which most life forms depended, how violent and heartless nature can be, and on and on. Who could wax wise with so much bad news pouring in?
KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The goal of the new ordinance is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags, decreasing the number of plastic checkout bags used every year. San Diego goest through roughly 700 million plastic bags a year, with only 3 percent of them being recycled, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
"The vast majority of plastic bags we see are entangled in the brushes next to our rivers and streams," said Kristin Kuhn, community engagement manager for San Diego Coastkeeper. "After every rain event, these bags clog and choke our city's already damaged waterways."
The city's ban would require grocery stores and other food retailers to charge at least 10 cents for each paper bag or for a sturdier bag, which often cost more.
"Stakeholders have worked tirelessly with local jurisdictions throughout the state to find a solution that makes sense for both the environment and businesses," said Sophie Barnhorst, policy coordinator for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "A ban on plastic and a charge for paper has the potential to achieve maximal environment gain with minimal business disruption."
San Diego's ban—which drew wide support from advocacy organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation's San Diego County chapter and San Diego Coastkeeper as well as the chamber of commerce—makes it the 150th municipality in the Golden State.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A few years ago, in an interview with The New York Times' William Rhoden, National Football League Hall of Famer and longtime political activist Jim Brown said: "I think within the next three or four years, there'll be a major coming together of some Black athletes and entertainers to really have a platform that can bring about a whole different awareness." Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage at the beginning of the recent ESPY Awards ceremony, and made an impassioned call for an end to the violence, perhaps signaling that Black athletes were coming together to speak about racial inequities and social justice, as Brown predicted.
While it unclear what specific issues – other than violence -- the four National Basketball Association stars were talking about, their remarks, coming in the wake of the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the police killing of Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and the shooting deaths of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, their remarks were somber, eloquent, and moving.
"Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for," said Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers' star point guard. "So we choose to follow in their footsteps."
Dwayne Wade, recently traded from the Miami Heat to his hometown Chicago Bulls said: "The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough."
KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Photo courtesy of Ecowatch
Malta—the only country to actively vote against the extension of the chemical's use—has already seen 25 localities ban the substance. It would be the first EU country to ban glyphosate nationwide. Though, France is currently considering their own ban.
"Malta's position remains against the use of glyphosate and Malta voted against it without reservations," an environmental ministry spokeswoman told the Times of Malta.
Glyphosate was named a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. Since WHO's ruling, the EU has been divided on the subjects of glyphosate's use and safety. Reports from several agencies have added more confusion in respect to the impacts of glyphosate.
A November 2015 report compiled by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans." Another study conducted by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the WHO's Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) in May 2016 backed EFSA's finding.
The various studies used different criteria for the risk assessment connected to glyphosate. A general consensus on the weed-killing chemical has not been achieved.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite months of hand wringing, public and private condemnations, expressing support for, and endorsing, other candidates, and a close inspection of his miniscule theological underpinnings, many conservative Christian evangelicals are finding their way back to Donald Trump, as nearly four-fifths of evangelicals are now saying they will vote for Trump. According to the Pew Research Center’s recent survey, “Evangelical voters are rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
Examining the results of the Pew survey, The Christian Examiner’s Gregory Tomlin wrote: “Evangelicals aren’t just warming to Trump; they’re on fire for the candidate.” Not everyone has the same view of the survey. In her report, Christianity Today’s Sarah Eekhoff Zyistra maintained that evangelicals will vote for Trump, “But they aren’t happy about it.”
The announcement of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate – which came after the Pew survey was released -- will make it even easier for multitudes of evangelicals to back the ticket. “I think he’s a very safe pick for Mr. Trump and I think he’s someone who will be embraced enthusiastically by conservatives and evangelical Christians,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., an early Trump supporter.
In a somewhat surprising development, evangelical leaders and voters appear to be slightly more supportive of Trump at this point in the campaign then they were four years ago with Mitt Romney. “Now, fully,78% of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today, including about a third who ‘strongly’ back his campaign.”
Pew pointed out that “White evangelical Protestants make up one-fifth of all registered voters in the U.S. and roughly one-third of all voters who say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.”
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
empathize with others.
Barack Obama said, "We are not as divided as we seem." But those are just feel-good words. A middle class still exists, but in weakened form, as many families from the once-dominant mainstream of society continue to move up or down, mostly down. The conspirators in the breakdown of the middle class have complementary roles that allow them to divide the country as they perpetuate the myth of prosperity for all.
Congress: The Kingpins
Gun control is the most flagrant example of Congressional disdain for the middle class. Over 90% of Americans want background checks, but Congress has failed to act. The House of Representatives even rejected an amendment that would have allowed research into causes of gun violence.
The list goes on and on:
Over 90% favor laws on clean air and water, but Congress has proposed to weaken them. Almost 80% want to increase Social Security benefits. 83% want Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Nearly 90% support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. About two-thirds of polled Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes. 90% support the protection of public lands.
Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
An old cowboy aphorism offers this advice: "Speak the truth. But ride a fast horse."
I relived this truism last weekend in Orlando, Florida, where I spent two hot, muggy days wrangling over policy issues as one of the members of the Democratic Party's national platform committee. Depending on the moment and the issue, the experience was both invigorating and infuriating, with refreshing outbreaks of broad and bold democratic vision, interspersed with too many rigid, Tammany Hall tactics used to dictate corporate-friendly policies. Bernie Sanders' 40-percent minority of platform members (of which I was one) managed to "Bern" the platform with more than two dozen big and very important amendments. As a result, instead of the same old business-as-usual blah-blah of party platforms, Democrats and their nominee, Hillary Clinton, are now on public record in support of the most progressive policy agenda in decades.
More about those specific policies in a moment, but first, let's get on that horse.
The worst development at the Orlando meeting was the Clinton campaign's acquiescence to the wet dream of global corporate powers: The Trans-Pacific Partnership. The platform's draft language on this horrendous TPP trade scam actually seemed to endorse it! So Sanders' forces went all out to replace such a pusillanimous surrender with an amendment to flat-out kill TPP.
I sponsored the Sanders alternative, dubbing it "a form of political Viagra to stiffen the spine of our party." Our amendment prompted panicky parliamentary manipulations by Clintonites to doctor their language so it would be a bit less wimpy — and also to block my amendment from even being considered. But Sanders' savvy policy staff outflanked them, so we forced them to debate and vote on our proposal — in view of C-SPAN's national TV audience.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
An enormous -- and unprecedented -- amount of plastic waste and other marine debris has been washing up on Hong Kong's southern beaches in recent weeks.
Local authorities have described the filth as a "glacier of trash," and that the rubbish from one island could even be seen from space, the Epoch Times wrote. From July 1 to 9 alone, government departments collected 78,000 kilograms (about 172,000 pounds) of litter from affected areas, the South China Morning Post reported.
On Sunday, chief executive Leung Chun-ying and his team of 60 officials and workers collected about 1,350 kilograms (about 3,000 pounds) of garbage in about half an hour during a beach clean-up in South Lantau.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
This week -- as thousands of Americans urge awareness to the destruction caused by oil bomb trains -- an oil field in San Juan County, New Mexico erupted in flames Monday night, highlighting the continued and increasing dangers of the fossil fuel industry.
The fire broke out around 10:15 p.m. Monday at a fracking site owned and operated by WPX Energy, setting off several explosions and temporarily closing the nearby Highway 550. Fifty-five local residents were forced out of their homes.
STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
groundbreaking study was released today by the Sierra Club Political Committee showing Donald Trump would be the only world leader to deny the science and dangers of climate change if elected president. The data in the report shows that Trump could possibly be the only world leader not calling for urgent climate action.A
"Donald Trump's failure to acknowledge basic climate science wouldn't just leave him isolated on the world stage as president, it would undermine our relationships with key allies and threaten our ability to work effectively internationally," Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director John Coequyt said.
"Trump's climate science denial would make him a global laughingstock if it wasn't so dangerous. Every single leader on Earth—from Germany to India to Somalia to Japan—recognizes that the climate crisis is happening and demands the world's attention, but Trump is sticking his head in the sand while the seas are rising."
The report shows a global consensus on climate change among world leaders and provides comprehensive research that identifies attributable, verifiable statements, quotes and actions from current world leaders, including Heads of State and Heads of Government. They all acknowledge climate science and the need for climate action. Many of the nations mentioned in the report have signed the Paris climate accord and submitted their climate plans to the United Nations.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
the first command of one of Louisiana’s most revered figures, General Russell Honore, when he arrived in New Orleans in 2005 to direct the military recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The General’s directions have not been followed in Baton Rouge.“Put those damn weapons down. I'm not going to tell you again, goddamn it. Get those goddamn weapons down.” That was
Since the police killing of Alton Sterling, thousands of people in Baton Rouge have been non-violently protesting day and night all over the city. There has been no arson in Baton Rouge, no looting, no burning cars, no windows broken, and no people beaten. Police report that a rock or other material was thrown at them but there is no video of such action nor have there been any arrests for such actions.
Despite these non-violent protests, around 200 people have been arrested and the police have shown a militarized and aggressive response.
When Ferguson police showed a militarized response to protestors, General Honore was again plainspoken. "Any time we have policemen pointing weapons at American citizens, they need to go through retraining." Baton Rouge police, who have a documented history of brutality, clearly need retraining.
After Ferguson, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing report on the police response to protests in Ferguson and they came up with numerous recommendations for law enforcement. While the police have smartly pulled back from protests at the scene of the Sterling killing, many of the DOJ recommendations are being ignored in other protests around Baton Rouge.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The World Hunger Education Service offers a number of revealing details about food insecurity in the United States:
In 2014, 14.0 percent of households (17.5 million households, approximately one in seven), were food insecure....
In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security....
Children were food insecure at times during the year in 9.4 percent of households with children. These 3.7 million households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children....
Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households....
To provide some context, according to Poverty USA, the poverty rate in 2014 was worse than the poverty rate prior to the 2008 economic collapse.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite mass protests, it didn't take more than a few meetings with Dutch Shell Oil executives for President Obama to approve offshore drilling in the pristine Arctic waters. He quickly approved offshore drilling from Virginia to Georgia, the first president in history to allow the oil industry to drill off the Atlantic coast. Had it not been for wealthy coastal home owners that rose up in anger, the Atlantic would rapidly resemble the Gulf of Mexico, including oil catastrophes and all the illnesses that petroleum chemicals have caused, ranging from skin diseases to cancer as a result. Shockingly, Obama didn't hesitate to approve fracking in the Gulf of Mexico at the time that BP's Macondo well exploded two miles beneath the crust of the ocean's floor in 2010, as Truthout journalist, Mike Ludwig, revealed in his investigative report. And to add insult to injury, President "climate change" Obama didn't hesitate to approve of far more dangerous deepwater drilling in the Gulfthat makes BP's operational negligence look like child's play, according to investigative reporter Antonia Juhasz’s shocking revelations.