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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

5789845977 37e1a70e45 z(Image: DonkeyHotey )

 Many automakers have been using the fact that gas prices are relatively low to argue against EPA-mandated automobile fuel efficiency standards, which are scheduled to rise in the coming years. Of course, these manufacturer's resistance to the standards is a tremendously short-sighted position.

The issue of increasing fuel efficiency requirements for cars does have a consumer component, when it comes to choosing a car during times of high gas prices. However, more importantly, higher efficiency means less pollution per mile driven. Our society is dependent upon cars, and it's essential that we implement measures to increase miles per gallon, in addition to ramping up electric car sales and battery-range capacity.

We are just one week away from the dismaying transfer of power to a Trump presidency. We must find and advocate for economic, social and environmental justice to offset the coming threats.

That is why it is somewhat encouraging that according to a January 13 BloombergMarkets article:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it's keeping vehicle efficiency standards intact through the 2025 model year, shoring up a key piece of President Barack Obama's environmental legacy against a challenge by the incoming administration....

The move, completed just days before Obama leaves office, makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for President-elect Donald Trump's administration to ease off on the standards...

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rex 0113wrp opt(Photo: Rex Tillerson, by ExxonMobil)ExxonMobil was dealt a major blow on Wednesday after a Massachusetts judge ordered the company to hand in more than 40 years of climate research.

On Wednesday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger denied the oil giant a protective order that would have blocked Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's subpoenas for Exxon's internal research on climate change.

"This affirms our authority to investigate fraud," Healey tweeted after the decision. "ExxonMobil must come clean about what it knew about climate change."

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers told Reuters the company was "reviewing the decision to determine next steps."

In June, the company filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Texas to block Healey's investigation. However, a Texas judge later ruled that the court had no jurisdiction over an investigation in Massachusetts.

2017.12.1 BF Spear(Photo: Marc Nozell)STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Appearing live on television and via a livestream, President Barack Obama offered his official farewell address Tuesday evening from Chicago. He touted the climate policies he's passed over the last eight years and stressed the need for "bolder" action.

He said:

[W]ithout some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we'll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible. …

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we've halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won't have time to debate the existence of climate change; they'll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.

2017.12.1 BF Koehler(Photo: Heath Cajandig)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense's focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future."

Lurking behind this perky little PR blurb, from the F-35's own website, is the void into which the soul of the human race has disappeared.

This is war consciousness: locked into place, awash in money. The deeply flawed F-35, the most expensive military weapons system in history, is ultimately projected to cost over $1 trillion, but no matter: "It will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future."

What does that mean? It sounds like an ad for the nextStar Trekmovie, but it's U.S. foreign policy -- or, more accurately, the defining assumption of nationhood: We will always be at war with someone. It's the quintessential self-fulfilling prophecy. When we spend trillions of dollars "preparing" for war, by God, we'll find an enemy.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2557176287 1b9161ff03 zPublic waterworks should not be managed by corporations. (Photo:[cipher] )

One of the rare areas on which Trump and Democrats appear to find some common ground is a goal of achieving infrastructure upgrading and modernization in the United States. However, Trump is more interested in enriching private contractors than meeting public need.

As Michelle Chen wrote in a December 2 article for The Nation:

Trump wants private investors to basically direct $1 trillion in infrastructure projects nationwide through a “revenue neutral” financing plan, which banks on financing from private investors, allegedly to control deficit spending (which the GOP generally deems wasteful, while promoting tax breaks as a wiser redistribution of public funds into corporate coffers). To draw some $167 billion to jumpstart the $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure plan, Washington would grant a giant tax break “equal to 82 percent of the equity amount.” The goal isn’t fixing bridges so much as fixing the corporate tax codes to promote privatization and unregulated construction with virtually no public input.

Right after the election, some Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, talked about working with Trump on issues such as an overhaul of our national infrastructure. However, if the Democrats allow the project to become a corporate profit center -- instead of focusing it on publicly planned initiatives for the common good -- they will have no one to blame but themselves.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

6289639278 e6336deb12 zConvert Obamacare enrollees to Medicare? (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

As Republicans continue to push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it's crucial that we discuss progressive alternatives that would ensure access to insurance for as many people as possible. In an opinion piece in The Hill, Robert Hockett, Edward Cornell professor of law and public policy at Cornell University, proposes that those committed to repealing Obamacare need not look far for a replacement. Just let Obamacare enrollees and eligible individuals enroll in Medicare:

[Republican] Congressional leaders have said that their first order of business upon reconvening this week is to repeal and, at some point, replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the 2010 legislation that President Obama often is said to regard as his signature achievement....

The impediment...which the leadership and the president-elect alike have noted, is that as yet there is no agreement on what should replace the ACA. Simply throwing millions of newly insured Americans off of their plans would cause hardship among working Americans on a nearly unprecedented scale....

Why not, in the very same legislation that repeals Obamacare, instantly entitle all who lose their insurance coverage under the ACA immediately to enroll in Medicare?

Medicare is probably the most popular health insurance in the United States. Even Tea Party senior citizens have issued a definitive demand at rallies: "Don't touch my Medicare!"

In June of 2016, CNBC predicted -- based on an Urban Institute study -- that 24 million people would lose health insurance coverage if Obamacare were repealed and not replaced.

CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

House 0111wrp opt(Photo: Public Domain)Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books.

The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency -- say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive -- must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect.

To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating pollution from electrical generating facilities, net neutrality rules protecting the internet from monopoly, restrictions on predatory lending and energy efficiency standards for appliances.

If the REINS Act had been in effect, it unlikely that the Tea Party dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 06:36

Searching for Integrity in Trumplandia

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpTower 0111wrp opt(Photo: New York City Mai)It's about time America has a president who will stand up to those greed-headed corporate executives who keep hauling our middle-class jobs out of country. Bring those jobs back home, Donald Trump bellowed, or I'll slap you with a huuuge tariff when you try to sell your foreign-made products here.

Great stuff, Donnie. And to prove you mean business, I know just the CEO you should target first: Her name is Ivanka. Yes, your daughter!

Ivanka's multimillion-dollar line of clothing and accessories are sold through major national retailers, ranging from Macy's to Amazon, and she pitches her Ivanka Trump-branded dresses, handbags, boots, blouses, etc. to America's working women. Yet, practically all of her products are made on the cheap in factories anywhere but America, with most coming from the low-wage bastions of China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Imagine the message it would send to runaway corporations and the integrity it would establish for The Donald if he slapped his first tariffs on Ivanka's goods!

But neither Daddy Trump nor his daughter wants to discuss the embarrassing conflict between his political bluster and her ethic of runaway capitalism. Instead, she's tried to dodge the issue by saying it doesn't matter, since she'll "separate" herself from the business if she becomes a White House advisor.

Nice try, Ivanka, but the stench of hypocrisy will only grow nastier if you're at your father's side while he castigates and punishes other corporations that have absconded from America. The only way to salvage even an iota of moral virtue is to repatriate the manufacturing of your brand-name apparel. And bringing those middle-class jobs home to the good ol' US of A would also make a powerful political statement.

2017.10.1 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If Trump pulls the appointment to head the National Endowment for the Arts from the same barrel of deplorables he has used for many of his administration’s other nominees, we may see Phil Robertson, the patriarch of Duck Dynasty, Scott Baio, or one of the other "celebrities" that supported Trump, heading up the agency. Regardless of who Trump picks, there’s a good chance that there will be another battle over funding the agency.

During Republican administrations, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) tends to be on the chopping block. With Trump in the White House, and Congress in the firm control of the GOP, it may once again be facing significant opposition to its mission and its funding. Even before the highly-respected Meryl Streep delivered a blistering, heartfelt and thoughtful take down of Donald Trump, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony last weekend, it was a pretty safe bet that she would not be on Team Trump’s short list to head up the NEA, although she would make a great candidate for the job.

"There was one performance this year that stunned me -- it sank its hooks in my heart," Streep said. "Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3622561994 322baa7a0a zThere are 24 states whose governments are controlled by Republicans as compared to only 6 such Democratic states. (Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM)

BuzzFlash recently reported on how the reactionary threat in many statehouses is growing.

We noted the fact that 24 states have both Republican-dominated legislatures and GOP governors. Meanwhile, only 17 states have Democratic governors and only 13 statehouses are controlled by Democrats.

These numbers provide an indicator of the right-wing tidal wave -- largely in Southern and small states -- that continues to advance Republican control of states, in part due to state-level gerrymandering after the 2010 election. After the 2016 elections, the Republicans reached a percentage of representation at the state level that is the highest since its founding as a political party.

This high water mark for Republicans on the state level has serious implications. A January 5 article in The Hill reveals the continued efforts of GOP-controlled states to prohibit various progressive laws at the local level, particularly in cities. This is an accelerating strategy to stifle grassroots progressive victories:

After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas.

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