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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

grandcanyon32The Trump administration wants to allow uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. (Photo: Tony Hisgett)

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service released a recommendation Wednesday to lift former President Obama's uranium mining ban in the watershed of the Grand Canyon.

The move was made in response to President Trump's sweeping "energy independence" executive order in March to ease regulatory burdens on energy development.

“This appalling recommendation threatens to destroy one of the world's most breathtakingly beautiful regions to give free handouts to the mining industry," said Allison Melton, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration's willingness to sacrifice our natural treasures to polluters knows no bounds. But this reckless, shortsighted proposal won't be allowed to stand."

Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director with the Grand Canyon Trust, had similar sentiments.

"The Forest Service should be advocating for a permanent mining ban, not for advancing private mining interests that threaten one of the natural wonders of the world," Reimondo said. "The Grand Canyon and the people and communities that depend on it cannot be left to bear the risks of unfettered uranium mining, which is what will happen if the moratorium is removed."

Rally in front of the Supreme Court on October 3, 2017, while oral arguments for Gill v. Whitford take place inside.JOHANNES EPKE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In October, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to Wisconsin's 2011 unabashed partisan gerrymander of their state assembly map. Most of us agree that letting one political party or the other draw election maps explicitly to benefit themselves is wrong, just as we agree that allowing unlimited money to flow into our elections is wrong. What most people don't know is how gerrymandering and dark money are mutually perpetuating pieces of an intentional strategy by billionaires and big business to keep Americans politically sidelined.

The story of Gill, in which super PACs spent millions in Wisconsin leading up to 2010 to win Republicans the state legislature and control redistricting for the next decade, is a perfect opportunity to shine a light on how these pieces fit together.

Redistricting happens every 10 years after each census. In 2002, after the 2000 census, the Republican State Leadership Committee launched a project called REDMAP (REDistricting MAjority Project) with the specific goal of controlling the 2010 redistricting in key states. 

Thursday, 02 November 2017 07:31

When Bureaucracy Takes Precedence Over Humanity

What’s taking place in the case of Rosa Maria, the 10-year-old undocumented girl with Cerebral Palsy, is institutional racism, aggravated in the Trump era by an uptick in border patrol aggression.What's taking place in the case of Rosa Maria, the 10-year-old undocumented girl with Cerebral Palsy, is institutional racism, aggravated in the Trump era by an uptick in border patrol aggression. (Photo: Peg Hunter / Flickr)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash relies on support from readers like you. If you value our commentary and analysis, please click here to make a donation.

Basically, it's kidnapping.

Were the Border Patrol agents wearing MAGA hats when they grabbed Rosa Maria Hernandez as she left her hospital room?

"It's a shocking case -- the most outrageous case I've ever seen. Is it a preview of things to come?" ACLU attorney Michael Tan said to me about the incident, shortly after the civil-rights group filed suit against the federal government demanding the 10-year-old child's release from a detention facility in Texas, 150 miles from her home in Laredo. 

Rosa Maria, who has cerebral palsy, was arrested at a children's hospital on Oct. 25, the day after she had emergency gall bladder surgery. She's been at the detention center for a week now, under the bureaucratic "care" of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which wants to ship her back to Mexico.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

socialsecuritycardThe rich should pay their fair share of Social Security taxes. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Anyone who thinks that Social Security payments allow a lavish income for recipients is lost in fantasy. In June 2017, The Motley Fool reported  that "the average person who signed up for Social Security in the past year was awarded $1,413.08 per month in benefits."

Depending on whether a person also benefits from a spousal Social Security income, they're receiving a check that puts them just barely above the poverty level for a single person or solidly above the poverty level for two people receiving Social Security. Included in this average Social Security payment are costs associated with Medicare -- which is not without required expenses, despite the common perception that it provides "free" care. In short, Social Security checks for the average retired working class person are generally just enough to get by on, as long as there are no medical or other emergencies.

Meanwhile, as an article by Sam Pizzigati on Inequality.org underscores, when it comes to paying for Social Security, working class taxpayers are handing over a much more significant portion of their income than are wealthy taxpayers. The tax cuts proposed by President Trump and those being considered by Congress would do nothing, as Pizzigati points out, to end the gift to the rich that stops Social Security taxes being assessed for incomes above $127,200. Earners up to that level have a 6.2 percent tax for Social Security deducted from their earnings.

PAT ELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Recruiters 1101wrp opt(Photo: Debra Sweet / Flickr)More than a hundred mothers have contacted me over the years, alarmed at the relationships their teenaged children were developing with military recruiters at school. They wanted to know what they could do about it. They were angry, and they were worried.

The fact these women reached out to me and other counter-recruitment activists demonstrates the degree of alarm they experienced. They feared their vulnerable children would enlist against their wishes. They were terrified their child would be killed while they stood by. This was the driving force of their resistance.

Several mothers told me they deeply resented the presence of military recruiters in their child's school and they described the influence recruiters were having over their child's thinking and behavior. They talked about difficult relationships they had with their children. Some said their child had forged close relationships with recruiters at school for over two years. These moms were certain their sons were going to enlist because their boys knew the pain it would inflict on their mothers.

In America, only a few are willing to risk public scorn for their opposition to the U.S. military or war in general. However, many of these mothers were hostile, like cornered prey protecting their young.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 07:38

Peace in Afghanistan From the Ground Up

KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mothers 1101wrp optAfghan mothers. (Photo: Afghan Peace Volunteers / Kathy Kelly)On a recent Friday at the Afghan Peace Volunteers' (APV) Borderfree Center, here in Kabul, thirty mothers sat cross-legged along the walls of a large meeting room. Masoumah, who co-coordinates the Center's "Street Kids School" project, had invited the mothers to a parents meeting. Burka-clad women who wore the veil over their faces looked identical to me, but Masoumah called each mother by name, inviting the mothers, one by one, to speak about difficulties they faced. From inside the netted opening of a burka, we heard soft voices and, sometimes, sheer despair. Others who weren't wearing burkas also spoke gravely. Their eyes expressed pain and misery, and some quietly wept. Often a woman's voice would break, and she would have to pause before she could continue:

"I have debts that I cannot pay," whispered the first woman.

"My children and I are always moving from place to place. I don't know what will happen."

"I am afraid we will die in an explosion."

"My husband is paralyzed and cannot work. We have no money for food, for fuel."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

kellyjohnWhite House Chief of Staff John Kelly thinks there could have been a "compromise" about slavery. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

Former General John Kelly, White House chief of staff, recently managed to besmirch the wife and mother of Sergeant La David Johnson, along with defaming Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-California), taking Trump's side in an undignified attempt to discredit a Gold Star family. Kelly attempted to bolster Trump's claim that the president didn't dishonor Johnson in a bungled condolence phone call to Johnson's wife. It was clear at that point that Kelly was not going to be a bland general trying to rein in chaos in the White House; he was going to be a public Trump enabler.

This past Monday, Kelly doubled down on his backing of another one of Trump's egregious stances that statues honoring Civil War figures were part of the nation's history -- dedicated to men who should be respected for their heritage, bravery and convictions. This Trump stance came to the fore after the infamous rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, organized by hate groups rallying around a Robert E. Lee statue. On August 17, Trump tweeted, "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments."

An October 31 ThinkProgress article reported,

During an interview on the debut edition of Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News show Monday night, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and openly expressed sympathy for the Confederate cause.

Asked about a Virginia church’s decision to remove a plaque honoring Lee, Kelly said, “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man....”

MILO SHIFRA KESSELMAN GIOVANNIELLO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cops 1031wrp opt(Photo: Andrew Chang / Flickr)Last week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) hosted their annual conference and exposition in Philadelphia, bringing together more than 10,000 law enforcement officers, major arms suppliers and weapons distributors. The IACP, an organization of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, has long been responsible for promoting police practices that systematically violate the civil, constitutional and human rights of Black people and other people of color.

At the conference, companies profiting from the Trump administration's intensified targeting and surveillance of communities of color had the opportunity to present their newest tactics and tools. One such company was ELTA North America, the US subsidiary of an Israeli defense manufacturer and one of four companies selected to build aprototype of Trump's wall on the US/Mexico border.

The IACP conference bills itself as offering "gentler, reformist" policing methods through workshops like "Community-Police Relations and Public Trust." But for a long time, groups representing the communities most directly impacted by police violence have said these presentations are a dangerous farce, aimed at promoting the illusion that policing can be made less harmful through better training or by recruiting different individuals, when in fact the system of policing is designed to target and control communities of color. That weekend, there were powerful demonstrations and teach-insorganized byPhilly for REAL Justiceand other Philadelphia-based groups in opposition to the conference, bringing the message that the only way to end police violence is to abolish policing.

JOHN GEYMAN, MD FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CuteHealth 1031wrp optSeattle health care rally. (Photo: SEIU 775 / Flickr)The Democratic Party, as is the case with the Republican Party, has its own civil war going on as it looks to the upcoming election cycles in 2018 and 2020. Its division over how to proceed on health care shows how wide the divide is among Democrats.

Democratic centrists, so involved in defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against the Republicans, are riding high on their success so far in avoiding its repeal, but shouldn’t take too much of a victory lap since the GOP has no replacement plan, especially after more than seven years. Meanwhile, the centrists are pushing aside the efforts of progressive Democrats to place universal health care through single-payer Medicare for All on the party platform. This continuing wide gulf across the Democrats’ political spectrum will delay real health care reform, weaken their impact on health care, and could easily lead to losses by Democrats in the upcoming elections.

These examples of disunity among Democrats on health care are alarming, even after their loss of more than 1,000 seats nationwide last year and Trump winning the White House.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

BillNyeBill Nye, the Science Guy ( NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

As the former host of PBS's Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Nye taught a whole generation of kids about the wonders of science. But in his new documentary, Nye laments how his life's work could be upended by an emerging war on science. (Just think of Trump's stack of climate change skeptics in his cabinet).

"We're living in this extraordinary time where people are anti-science," Nye tells famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over a glass of wine, adding that scientific innovation helped propel the U.S. as the world's preeminent industrial nation.

Bill Nye: Science Guy intimately follows Nye's journey from beloved children's television host to scientific commentator and his role as the CEO of the Planetary Society, a space exploration nonprofit sending a solar-powered spacecraft into the cosmos.

We also get a rare look into his personal life and his family's affliction with Ataxia, a neurological condition that affects coordination, balance and speech. Nye, who does not have signs of the disease, explains how it's one of the reasons why he has never married or had children.

As the former host of PBS's Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Nye taught a whole generation of kids about the wonders of science. But in his new documentary, Nye laments how his life's work could be upended by an emerging war on science. (Just think of Trump's stack of climate change skeptics in his cabinet).

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