Guest Commentary (4715)
BRIAN TRAUTMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the past eight months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota have been joined by more than 200 allied tribes and tens of thousands of non-Native activists for a nonviolent resistance campaign against Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The pipeline, which has been projected to transport at least 470,000 barrels of oil per day over 1,100 miles from the Bakken oil field to an existing hub in Illinois for delivery to refineries on the Gulf Coast, was rerouted in 2014 from north of Bismarck to the south, taking it through unceded treaty lands of the Sioux. Pipeline construction over this altered route desecrated sacred ancestral sites, and, until last Sunday, was slated to cross the Missouri River at the Lake Oahe reservoir, which would have threatened the safety of the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux and millions of people downstream.
Since April 1, individuals, groups and organizations from around the world have come together at Standing Rock to proclaim Mni Wiconi, Lakota for “water is life.” They have put their bodies and freedom on the line in support of the water protectors of the #NoDAPL effort. Veterans For Peace (VFP), on whose board of directors I currently serve, is one of these organizations. We released a solidarity statement in September. A number of our members have been actively involved in the campaign. In mid-October, I had the great privilege and honor of joining nearly a dozen of my VFP colleagues at the main resistance camp, Oceti Sakowin (the proper name for the Sioux, meaning Seven Council Fires). During my visit, I was welcomed with respect, kindness and love, and treated as a family member – a relative, a profound experience of Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota term/prayer meaning "all my relations" or "we are all related."
As of last week, DAPL construction was all but completed. It seemed nothing could stop the Black Snake, as the Native people call it (a moniker that is based on an old Lakota prophecy which speaks of a “black snake” bringing destruction and devastation). Then, last Sunday, following various legal decisions over many months that allowed the pipeline construction to continue, the easement to cross Lake Oahe was abruptly denied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The announcement came down just hours before an evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin Camp, which was issued by USACE in late November, was set to take effect. USACE added that it would be undertaking an environmental impact statement (EIS) to examine possible alternate pipeline routes. The decision was hailed by many as a significant victory for the #NoDAPL struggle.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Dr. Ben Carson, a failed presidential candidate and a retired neurosurgeon, with absolutely no other housing experience other than he lives in one, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Back in September of last year, Carson was seen as a contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, and he was rapidly gaining on Trump in the polls. Then, the bottom fell out. Perhaps it was his lackluster performances at the debates, during which he seemed to be sleepwalking. Or perhaps Carson's run was designed merely to increase his name recognition with the public. Carson eventually dropped out and threw his support to Trump. And now, he is reaping the reward.
Carson will enter office as a blank slate. This is perhaps the only area that Trump really might be "draining the swamp," only in this case he's draining it of any experience and competence.
As I wrote in September 2015, "Carson may be soft-spoken and mild-mannered in his demeanor, but he may -- and I say this carefully -- out-Trump Trump when it comes to embodying the wacky."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The president-elect stumbles over the protocols of geopolitics and war, tweeting all the way.
It's not just insane. It's awkward.
"Since 1979," the Guardian points out, "the U.S. has acknowledged Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China, with relations governed by the 'One China' set of protocols."
But here's what Donald Trump did: He took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-we. In so doing, he became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak directly to the Taiwanese leader in 37 years. Furthermore, he referred to her as the president of Taiwan, not the president on Taiwan, seemingly implying that the island province is actually an independent nation, totally freaking out mainland China -- and jolting our relations with that country big time. You don't want the wrong preposition to start World War 4.
Furthermore: "Weeks before President-elect Donald Trump's controversial phone call with Taiwan's president," the Guardian story continues, ". . . a businesswoman claiming to be associated with his conglomerate made inquiries about a major investment in building luxury hotels as part of the island's new airport development."
DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
shut down following discovery of a leak on Monday. The amount of the spill was not immediately known, but oil has leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County.A six-inch crude oil pipeline operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline Company in western North Dakota was
The site of the spill is about 200 miles from the camp where members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"It is a significant spill," Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of health, said.
"A series of booms have been placed across the creek to prevent downstream migration and a siphon dam has been constructed four miles downstream of the release point."
The Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. is part of the family-owned True companies, which also operates Bridger Pipeline LLC. Both pipelines are operated from the same control room in Casper, Wyoming. From 2006 to 2014, Belle Fourche reported 21 incidents, leaking a total of 272,832 gallons of oil. Bridger Pipeline recorded nine pipeline incidents in the same period, spilling nearly 11,000 gallons of crude.
"In general, Bridger has a poor compliance history," wrote a federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety in a 2012 order regarding a 2006 oil spill.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
All hail Augustus Trumpus! All hail the American Putin, whom none can criticize! All hail the Great All Knowing One, who reveals "realities" that are not there and finds "facts" that mere mortals cannot detect.
Once again, The Amazing Donald has demonstrated his phantasmagoric power of perception, having a new outcome in November's election that others haven't seen. Trump has been greatly perturbed by the official results, which showed that while he won the electoral college majority, he was not the people's choice. Instead, Hillary Clinton won the popular balloting by a margin of more than two million votes. Growing increasingly furious at this affront to his supernatural sense of self, the master of factual flexibility went on Twitter with an amazing revelation: "I won the popular vote," decreed our incoming tweeter in chief!
Wow, how did he turn a two million vote loss into a glorious victory? "I won," he tweeted, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
Wow again! Millions? You'd think such a massive conspiracy — with millions of illegal voters in line at thousands of precincts — would've been noticed by election officials, GOP poll watchers and the media. How did Trump find this truly incredible fact?
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTDAVID GUGGENHEIM OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Our captain watched with some consternation as an unidentified vessel, gray with no markings, headed straight toward our vessel, anchored more than 50 miles off Cuba's southern coast. Others in the crew speculated nervously about the approaching boat, never previously seen in these parts. The boat pulled alongside and two imposing figures boarded, both in olive military uniforms. A mustachioed representative of the Ministry of Interior stood beside his taller colleague whose uniform, like the boat that carried him, bore no markings at all. A sidearm hung imposingly from his belt. He turned to the captain and requested to meet with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
At that moment, Kennedy -- a leading environmental activist, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy -- was 90 feet below the surface with the rest of our group, observing a dozen or so Caribbean reef sharks tracing mesmerizing circles about us. We were carrying the flag of The Explorers Club, visiting and documenting previously unexplored coral reef ecosystems in Cuba's southern waters.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
He's not 400 pounds, as President-elect Donald Trump might characterize him, nor is he wearing pajamas and tweeting from his basement. The man, who apparently invented the notion that three-million-people voted illegally in the presidential election, is an entrepreneur, longtime Republican Party activist, and now, an accomplished provocateur. Where Gregg Phillips is getting his information from is anybody's guess. Thus far, no proof, only assertions. But that didn't stop Trump from tweeting that he "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Nor did it stop InfoWars, a conspiracy theory website run by Trump ally and radio talk show host Alex Jones, from jumping on the bandwagon. Nor did it prevent Vice President-elect Mike Pence from defending Trump's tweet on a recent edition of "This Week," ABC's Sunday morning gabfest hosted by George Stephanopoulos.
There is no denying that unless something absolutely unpredictable happens, Trump will be the next president of the United States. There is also no denying that as of this writing, Hillary Clinton is leading in the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes. Hillary's growing lead prompted Trump's tweet, which was quickly debunked by fact checkers – given a "Pants on Fire" by the Politifact web site -- derided by several news anchors, and fell into the "What the heck is he talking about" category, a classification that became all too familiar during the campaign, and threatens to be with us throughout Trump's term.
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
my trip to Disneyland last week and how everyone there was completely unified by one goal (or maybe two): To see how many rides they could go on in one day and how to have the most fun.I'm still fondly remembering
America should be so lucky as to be this united with regard to political goals as well. Politically, Americans are clearly divided along the lines of Red States and Blue States these days. But there is also a third state in American politics that's never mentioned (except perhaps by those of us being described by the Washington Post as writing "fake news"). And the third state that I'm talking about here is the Deep State.
But what is different from past American presidential elections (or selections -- in the case of George W. Bush) with regard to the 2016 presidential election is that for the first time since perhaps Truman the Deep State seems to be divided within itself too. Most of Wall Street and War Street appear to be Clinton cheerleaders -- while the rest of Wall Street and War Street seem to want Trump.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
don't pay a living wage.
The Deniers: The Middle Class Has Nothing to Worry About
Optimism is the feeling derived from sources like The Economist, which assures us that "AI will not cause mass unemployment...The 19th-century experience of industrialisation suggests that jobs will be redefined, rather than destroyed.." The Atlantic concurs: "The job market defied doomsayers in those earlier times, and according to the most frequently reported jobs numbers, it has so far done the same in our own time." And even economist Dean Baker scoffs at the tech takeover of jobs: "Large numbers of elite thinkers are running around terrified that we will have millions of people who have no work because the robots have eliminated the need for their labor...The remarkable aspect to the robot story is that it is actually a very old story. We have been seeing workers displaced by technology for centuries, this is what productivity growth is."
Perhaps most significantly for the optimists, the New York Federal Reserve found that since 2013 over two million jobs have been added in transportation, construction, administration, social services, education, protective services and other middle-wage areas.
BRUCE MULKEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As I watched the returns start to trickle in on election night with my wife Shonnie and our friend Carolyn, I kept saying, “The votes in the Democratic strongholds obviously haven’t come in yet. It’s just a matter of time before Hillary takes the lead in Florida.” But she didn’t. Not in Florida, nor in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, or Wisconsin. Given that almost all the polls had consistently shown Clinton leading, it was difficult to believe what was happening right before my eyes.
Disconsolate, I went to bed around midnight after it was clear that Donald Trump was on his way to becoming our next president. I woke up around 3:00 a.m. and fumbled around with my Kindle to see if a miracle had taken place, if some of the battleground states had flipped to the Democratic column. They hadn’t.
Let me be clear. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the North Carolina primary when hope was still alive that he could capture the Democratic nomination for president. I supported Sanders because I believed (and still believe) that he understood the necessity of addressing issues such as income inequality, lack of a living wage for many, our two-tiered justice system, institutional racism, the militarization of our police departments, world-wide militarism (800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad), government surveillance of U.S. citizens, and climate change.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
In 1966, my father held Senate hearings to investigate violent attacks by growers against pickers in the produce fields surrounding Delano, California. A young United Farmworkers organizer, Cesar Chavez, was orchestrating peaceful protests by Filipino and Chicano farmworkers against meager pay and brutal working conditions. My father only reluctantly attended the hearings. While he was sympathetic with the farmworkers' plight, he already had a full plate of issues ranging from the Vietnam War, rioting cities to starvation in the Delta and education on Indian reservations. He didn't think he had bandwidth for another cause.
"Why do I need to fly all the way to California," he complained to his aid, Peter Edelman, on the airplane out. But then something made him mad; A Kern county sheriff explained to the committee that he had imprisoned the peaceful protestors "for their own protection" to safeguard them from violent growers and their hired thugs.
The prospect of law enforcement officials deploying the states police power on behalf of lawbreaking corporations against law abiding citizens whose only crime was their poverty and powerlessness made him steam. My father despised bullies and believed in rule of law. He gaveled the morning session to a close. "May I suggest that during the luncheon period of time that the sheriff and the district attorney read the Constitution of the United States?" That afternoon, he joined the farmworkers on their picket line. Chavez became his closest political and moral ally.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The impatience across much of the media is palpable.
Oh groan. That's not going to change the election results. The consensus "truth" writhing just below the surface of the mainstream, eyeball-rolling disapproval of Jill Stein's call for and financing of a presidential vote recount in Wisconsin (and perhaps in Pennsylvania and Michigan) is that the political and media consensus has already established who the next president is. Like it or not.
And "election integrity" is apparently set in stone, here in America, the oldest democracy on the planet. We took care of that a long time ago. No matter that touch-screen voting is unverifiable and absurdly vulnerable to hacking and the struggle for power brings out the worst in people. No matter that the Republican Party -- the political party that lost the vote but won the election -- has a long history of passing voter suppression laws aimed at non-white Americans. The federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, striking down one such law in North Carolina, for instance, accused state legislators of targeting African-Americans "with almost surgical precision."
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do? Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be. Others stand still, let their eyes get adjusted to the different environment, re-orient themselves, then cautiously and sensitively, move forward. Some search out people who might be able to show the way. Post-election, a lot of people are re-assessing and searching for the best way forward. Here are some ideas on where we should be going and what we should be doing from experienced, thoughtful people who are organizing on the front lines.
One: You Were Born for This Time.
My friend, Cherri Foytlin, a mother who lives in rural Louisiana in a deeply Republican area, gives her life organizing to protect our earth, water and the rights of indigenous people. For that she has been arrested and is subject to death threats. Right after the election she wrote: “Fear no evil. Joy and Love still live, and it is up to us to build the shelter for the Hope that they provide. Lower those pointed fingers, we will need them to grasp the hammer and forge the nails. Do not give in to your righteous anxieties. Our heroes have never left us. All the good that ever was, it is still here. You were born for this time.”
Two: Join Allies.
Marisa Franco, one of the founders of Mijente, calls on Latinos and African Americans to join together with whites who didn’t go for Trump. “No one is going to build it, no one is going to give it to us. Positioning folks like the people in Arizona who built resilience and strength, positioning people who have been survivors to teach others. People in the South, in Arizona have been doing that for years,” she said. “We’ve got to build bridges across communities.”
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Betsy DeVos, Present-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Education, has, as Douglas N. Harris recently wrote in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, “sent shock waves through the educational establishment.” And that is probably what Team Trump hoped would happen and continues to happen when DeVos takes office. Several years before being tapped by Trump, Americans United’s Rob Boston observed, “DeVos’ goal is nothing short of a radical re-creation of education in the United States, with tax-supported religious and other private schools replacing the traditional public school system.”
Betsy DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist, a longtime funder of multiple right-wing causes and candidates, and an ardent supporter of school vouchers/charter schools/privatization of public schools.
DeVos, and her brother, Erik Prince – the founder of Blackwater, the private military force that received contract worth billions of dollars from the U.S. government -- are two of the four children of Elsa Prince Broekhuizen and the late Edgar Prince.
Edgar Prince made his fortune in Prince Automotive, and became one of the primary supporters of numerous Religious Right organizations and causes. Betsy DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, former CEO of Amway/Alticor and Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in a failed bid in 2006.