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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fence 0324wrp opt(Photo: Ladin)President Trump has been demeaning and degrading immigrants since he announced his candidacy for the presidency, and he has continued to do so right up through his first two months in office. After more than a year of his vicious blathering about the criminality of immigrants and building a border wall, a recent report by The Sentencing Project found that Immigrants, regardless of legal status, or country of origin, do not have higher crime rates than native-born citizens, verifying that even in this age of Trump-initiated fake news and Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” facts can triumph over fiction.

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As the Executive Summary to The Sentencing Project’s report titled “Immigration and Public Safety” (http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Immigration-and-Public-Safety.pdf) pointed out: In addition to his anti-immigrant rhetoric, Trump has “linked immigrants with crime through an Executive Order directing the Attorney General to establish a task force to assist in ‘developing strategies to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime,’ and by directing the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to assist and publicize victims of crimes committed by immigrants.”

The Sentencing Project’s report was written by Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., Research Analyst, and Josh Rovner, Juvenile Justice Advocacy Associate, at The Sentencing Project, with research assistance by Casey Anderson and Jessica Yoo, Program Associates at The Sentencing Project:

2017.23.3 BF Hightower(Photo: mal3k)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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A decade ago, some barons of the media establishment designated themselves the US's official arbiters of political truth. One of their tools is PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times and several other major newspapers, which issues an award for the year's most outrageous falsehood. Last year's election was infested with so much disinformation and dishonesty, however, that PolitiFact's 2016 Lie of the Year was not a single prevarication, but that cluster bomb of whoppers collectively branded "Fake News."

Just as troubling as fake news is the media's systematic omission of grassroots news that people could really use. What's missing is real news of the ordinary Americans in practically every zip code, who are finding innovative solutions to big problems that the elites do nothing about. Uplifting local actions are blooming throughout our land, yet most people are unaware of them or the results: that people and communities everywhere are breaking the corporate chains that shackle them. Here are a few examples.

2017.23.3 BF Koehler(Photo: Defence Images)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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We committed a quiet little war crime the other day. Forty-plus people are dead, taken out with hellfire missiles while they were praying.

Or maybe not. Maybe they were just insurgents. The women and children, if there were any, were . . . come on, you know the lingo, collateral damage. The Pentagon is going to "look into" allegations that what happened last March 16 in the village of al-Jinah in northern Syria was something more serious than a terrorist takeout operation, which, if you read the official commentary, seems like the geopolitical equivalent of rodent control.

The target was "assessed to be a meeting place for al-Qaeda, and we took the strike," a spokesman for the US Central Command explained. The strike involved two Reaper (as in Grim Reaper) drones and their payload of Hellfire missiles, plus a 500-pound bomb.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Hawking 0322wrp opt(Photo: Jim Campbell/Aero-News Network)Professor Stephen Hawking could one day realize his dream of space travel thanks to Virgin founder and space-enthusiast Richard Branson.

"I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space," Hawking told host Piers Morgan of "Good Morning Britain" on Monday. "I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately."

Branson's spaceflight company aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists. However, the venture has faced a number of delays, including a fatal explosion in 2007 during a ground test and test flight crash in 2014. (Might I suggest that if Branson cannot offer the stars to Hawking, maybe Elon Musk's SpaceX can?)

"My three children have brought me great joy—and I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space," Hawking said.

The 75-year-old theoretical physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21.

2017.21.3 BF Kelly(Photo: Takver)CASSIE KELLY OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that carbon dioxide levels in 2016 broke records for the second year in a row with an increase of 3 parts per million (ppm).

The measurements are coming from the Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii and were confirmed by NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. The numbers show that the rate of CO2 in the atmosphere is now at 405.1 ppm, the highest it has been in more than 10,000 years. Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said the findings are accurate and disturbing.

"The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age," Tans said in a press release. "This is a real shock to the atmosphere."

2017.21.3 BF Chow(Photo: Daniel Ullrich)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Germany is embarking on an innovative project to turn a hard coal mine into a giant battery that can store surplus solar and wind energy and release it when supplies are lean.

The Prosper-Haniel coal mine in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia will be converted into a 200 megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir that acts like a giant battery. The capacity is enough to power more than 400,000 homes, Governor Hannelore Kraft said, according to Bloomberg.

Founded in 1863, the Prosper-Haniel coal mine produces 3,000,000t/y of coal and is one of the few active coal mines remaining in Germany. But the mine is slated for closure in 2018, when federal subsidies for the industry dry up.

Kraft said that the miners in the town of Bottrop will remain employed at the site as it converts to its new function.

Pumped-storage facilities are not a new idea, as such systems are already in operation around the world. However, this is the first time that a coal mine will be used as part of the infrastructure.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cook 0320wrp opt(Photo: Dave LaForest)For more than three months, an underwater pipeline has been spewing hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of processed natural gas per day in Alaska's Cook Inlet, possibly threatening critically endangered beluga whales, fish and other wildlife.

The 8-inch pipeline, owned and operated by Hilcorp Alaska, is leaking more than 210,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The gas is 99 percent methane and provides fuel for four platforms in Cook Inlet.

A notice from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) revealed that Hilcorp knew about the leak as early as December but did not report the leak until Feb. 7 after a helicopter spotted gas bubbling to the surface of the water.

PHMSA said that the natural gas discharge could pose a risk to public safety, the environment and marine mammals and has given Hilcorp until May 1 to permanently repair the line or shut it down.

But conservation groups warn that waiting until May could allow the release of another 16 million cubic feet of gas. Seven groups have submitted a letter to the Trump administration urging for an immediate shutdown of the 52-year-old pipeline.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Coin 320wrp opt(Photo: US Mint)Before taxes on the rich are cut and social programs decimated, uninformed conservatives should consider who really benefits from U.S. tax laws and assistance programs. 

The Wealthiest Americans Pay Very Little Tax On Their Full Income

When ALL forms of taxes and income are considered, poor Americans pay higher tax rates than the richest 1%. 

The analysis starts with state and local taxes, which are often ignored by apologists for big-income tax cuts. According to The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the state and local tax rate for the poorest 20 percent of individuals is DOUBLE that of the top 1 percent (10.9 percent vs. 5.4 percent). New data from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman allows us to go further: When unrealized capital gains are included in the wealth-building of the richest 1%, the OVERALL tax rates plunge for the super-rich, causing the poorest Americans to pay the highest rates. 

What is the justification for adding unrealized capital gains to one's income? The 16th Amendment gives Congress the power "to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived." Thus, under an original definition of income developed by the American economists Robert M. Haig and Henry C. Simons in the 1920s and still utilized by financial economists, an increase in the value of a stock or other asset would be subject to taxation even if it's not sold. 

With this more accurate guide to income measurement, the real tax rates paid by the 1% can be calculated. Details can be found here. The bottom line is that poor Americans pay about 25 percent in total taxes, while the 1% pays anywhere from 18 to 23 percent.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Church 0317wrp opt(Photo: kirkenorge)Since President Donald Trump's immigration policy gave law enforcement officials unprecedented power to aggressively target immigrants in the country illegally, the nation's immigrant communities have been living in fear, from the threat of arrest, detention and deportation.

Department of Homeland Security documents "revealed the broad scope of the president's ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations," The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon reported late last month.

"The message is: The immigration law is back in business," said a gleeful Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restricted immigration. "That violating immigration law is no longer a secondary offense."

One area where enhanced law enforcement appears to be having a profound effect is on church attendance. In a piece titled "Trump's Policies Are Keeping Hispanics Away from Church," Christianity Today's Kate Shellnutt reported that "America's Hispanic churches [are] feel[ing] the impact of President Donald Trump's immigration initiatives in their pews each week."

"These new guidelines create anxiety and concerns about the future of the members of our church and their families," the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance (HBPA), a coalition of Hispanic Southern Baptist pastors, recently stated.

2017.16.3 BF Hightower(Photo: Gage Skidmore)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Trump & Company claim they have a sweeping mandate from voters to remake America -- but wait, it is just a magic trick -- almost half of the electorate chose not to vote in last November's presidential election.

Here's another fact: Those of us fighting for populist justice are stronger than we've been in decades. But how can that be, since Trump is in the White House? Because the vast majority of people agree with the ideals, issues and ideas of progressive populism, not with Trumpism. Even most of his supporters were not voting for what they're getting -- a plutocratic/autocratic agenda that'll steamroll the working class and poor.

Trump was not elected on issues, but on anger. Yes, many white supremacists, misogynists, nativists and xenophobes did turn out to support his raw bigotry, but a lot of Trump voters simply heard him speaking one truth repeatedly: The system is rigged by and for the elites. That group of voters was filled with a deep, seething fury created by corporate, political, and authoritarian elites who've been flattening the majority of people for years, then callously stepping over them as if they don't exist. That's true -- so the riggees, furious at being flattened by the corporate and political powers, saw Trump as a great big bois d'arc stick they could grab to thump the whole smug establishment upside its collective head.

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