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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Deut 0816wrp optFun with homophobes and the Bible. (Photo: Joe Wolf)What could be more Trump-esque then for a controversial, homophobic, climate change denying, anti-Catholic pastor, who once claimed that mothers do not belong in state office, to lead a White House Bible Study Group. Meet Pastor Ralph Drollinger. You might never have heard of him, but it's time to pay attention to Drollinger, who is leading, what he says, is the first White House Bible study among executive cabinet members in at least 100 years.

"It's the best Bible study that I've ever taught in my life," Drollinger told CBN News' Jennifer Wishon in an exclusive interview. "They are so teachable; they're so noble; they're so learned." Amongst regular attendees are Health Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Vice-President Mike Pence is also a regular participant and Drollinger pointed out that "Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh. [He] has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that's not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation."

The Donald himself has not yet attended any of the sessions, but he apparently receives a copy of Drollinger's weekly teaching.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017 05:15

How War Pollutes the Potomac River

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DAVID SWANSON AND PAT ELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Flotilla 0816wrpPeace flotilla. (Photo: David Swanson)The Pentagon's impact on the river on whose bank it sits is not simply the diffuse impact of global warming and rising oceans contributed to by the U.S. military's massive oil consumption. The U.S. military also directly poisons the Potomac River in more ways than almost anyone would imagine.

Let's take a cruise down the Potomac from its source in the mountains of West Virginia to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay. The journey down this mighty waterway details six EPA Superfund sites created by the Pentagon's reckless disregard for the fragile ecosystem of the Potomac River watershed.

The U.S. Navy's Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, 130 miles north of Washington, is a critical source of contamination in the Potomac River. The on-site disposal of explosive metals and solvent wastes contaminates soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. The groundwater and soil along the river are laced with explosives, dioxins, volatile organic compounds, acids, laboratory and industrial wastes, bottom sludge from solvent recovery, metal plating pretreatment sludge, paints, and thinners. The site also has a beryllium landfill. An active burning area is still used for waste disposal, sprinkling chemical dust over the river. It's not good.

 

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

childmindThe United States is not caring for all of its children. (Photo: Todd Huffman)

Make your voice heard! Readers like you are the sustaining force behind BuzzFlash and Truthout -- show your support by making a one-time or monthly donation today.

Question One. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent or 46 million people are living in poverty in the US. How many of those people living in poverty are children?

 

A. 4 million

B. 8 million

C. 12 million

D. 14 million

 

Question Two. What percentage of children live in a poor family in the US?

 

A. 5 percent

B. 10 percent

C. 15 percent

D. 20 percent

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

James0814 wrp optJames O'Keefe (Artwork: Donkey Hotey)James O'Keefe, the discredited purveyor of criminal activities and pseudo journalism, who has been involved in undercover stings of ACORN, Democratic politicians, and other progressive/leftist enclaves, may be at it again. In a recent email, Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), pointed out that "a group of right-wing imposters … assumed fake identities to attempt a 'sting' operation on our staff." While the undercover operation has O'Keefe's Modus Operandi written all over it, and two of the stingers have longtime ties to O'Keefe, it is unclear as of this writing whether the right-wing provocateur is involved.

The elaborate sting against LCV appears to indicate that merely denying climate change is not enough for right-wing groups; targeting environmental groups hoping to bait staffers into some inappropriate and scandal-worthy revelations is the latest tactic.

In a Press Release dated August 9, and titled "LCV TARGETED BY RIGHT WING OPERATIVES USING FAKE IDENTITIES" (their caps) the organization explained that it "recently discovered" it had been targeted by "extreme right-wing groups [that] used fake identities in order to meet with LCV staff and supporters–presumably in an effort to bait them into statements that could be doctored or taken out of context to undermine our work."

The League of Conservation Voters "has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, 'could be associated with' O'Keefe and have past ties to him, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer recently reported.

SHANE QUINN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

REV0814 wrp optThe writing on the wall. (Photo: Alan Levine)Some anniversaries are widely observed in the West: Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Holocaust Memorial Day, the September 11 atrocities, and so on. Yet there are other undesirable anniversaries that have been largely disappeared.

1. US-backed forces overthrow Goulart in Brazil (1964)

Considering its vast size and abundant natural resources, Brazil should long have been one of Latin America's richest countries. Instead, it has been something of a horror story, as Brazilians have been repressed and brutalized across decades by military dictatorships. Brazil's plight strikes a common theme across a region of the world in which the great superpower, the United States, has sought to continually control. Brazil had especially come under the unblinking eye of the empire during the 1960s. US president Lyndon B. Johnson was hell-bent in ensuring such a massive country did not become "the China of the 1960s". Johnson was referring indiscreetly to Mao Zedong, a Communist revolutionary whose influence in China continued to rise.

US concern about Brazilian sympathies increased in the early part of that decade. In September 1961, left-wing nationalist Joao Goulart became the nation's democratically elected president, spreading panic in the liberal Kennedy administration. Goulart began implementing structural reforms in the South American country, that would help integrate the general population into society. The United States was loathe to sit helplessly by as this movement came within "our hemisphere", as President John F. Kennedy described it.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Dollar 0811wrp optAlan LevineThe self-described "Geniuses of Wall Street" are being stupid. Again.

In 2007, their stupid schemes and frauds crashed our economy, destroying middle-class jobs, wealth and opportunities. Far from getting punishment, however, these financial scofflaws were bailed out by their Washington enablers — so the moral lesson they learned was clear: Stupid pays!

Sure enough, only a decade later, here they come again! Rather than investing America's capital in real businesses to generate grassroots jobs and shared prosperity, Wall Street is siphoning billions of investment dollars into speculative nonsense — such as high-profit securities "secured" only by rickety bundles of subprime auto loans.

Car dealers, eager to goose up sales, have been hawking new vehicles to lower-income people, offering quick credit approval. Banks — eager to hook more people on monthly car payments — have been approving these subprime car loans without verifying the buyer's ability to pay. Then, a Wall Street bank's investment house buys up thousands of these iffy individual loans, bundles them into multimillion-dollar "debt securities," and sells them to wealthy global speculators. Last year alone, banks sold $26 billion-worth of these explosive bundles of car loans.

This is just another paper-shuffling con game, a repeat of Wall Street's subprime mortgage scam a decade ago. It generates fast, easy money at the start for superrich speculators and greedy banksters — but as more and more low-income buyers are unable to make their car payments, defaults build up and the whole financial bubble pops.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

nycsubwayWhy shouldn't the rich be taxed to improve public transportation? (Photo: Josh Hallett)

When Elizabeth Warren was running for her Massachusetts Senate seat in 2012, she made the telling point that corporations are subsidized by government services. They benefit from public education, highways and other government-run programs, while also securing tax breaks. In urban areas, one of the most significant government financial outlays that aids businesses is mass transit, which is paid for by the public through tax expenditures and user fees. In significant-size cities, private enterprise would be dramatically curtailed if public transportation became unreliable and insufficient.

New York City, which is highly dependent upon its public train system, is currently experiencing a breakdown of its subway infrastructure, including mechanical failures and power outages, among other serious problems. These issues have developed after many years of deficient funding for repairs. As a result, riders are not infrequently facing long delays in getting to and from work.

New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has an idea for a long-term boost to the ailing mass transit system. According to NBC Channel 4 in New York,

The mayor of New York City wants to tax the wealthiest 1 percent to fund repairs and improvements to the beleaguered subway system….

"Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn't exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement," de Blasio said in a statement Sunday. 

The tax would increase the top income tax rate from about 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for married couples who make more than $1 million and individuals making more than $500,000, city officials said. It would affect about 32,000 of New Yorkers filing taxes in the city, or just less than 1 percent, officials said.

"Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra," de Blasio said.

De Blasio says the plan would generate about $800 million a year.

 

 

Not only does he have no patience with a military stalemate in Afghanistan -- "we aren't winning, we're losing" -- but he can't stand the fact that the shattered country's mineral wealth isn't in our hands.Not only does Trump have no patience with a military stalemate in Afghanistan, but he can't stand the fact that the shattered country's mineral wealth isn't in our hands. (Photo: US Army)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so.

The necessity for fundamental change in humanity's global organization is not only profound, but urgent.

Trump's latest outburst about North Korea's nukes -- threatening that country "with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before" -- creates a comic book Armageddon scenario in the media, except, of course, his power to launch a nuclear war on impulse is real.

What this makes clear to me is that no one should have the authority -- the power -- to declare any war whatsoever. The fact that this is still possible, so many decades into human awareness of war's utter insanity, reveals the paradox that civilization remains economically tied to its own destruction.

Thursday, 10 August 2017 06:45

How Do We Get Our Voting Rights Back?

If enough states constituting a majority of the electors -- 270 -- sign on, it would guarantee the presidency goes to the candidate winning the most popular votes nationwide.If enough states constituting a majority of the electors -- 270 -- sign on to the National Popular Vote bill, it would guarantee the presidency goes to the candidate winning the most popular votes nationwide. (Photo: Keith Ivey)PATRICIA JACKSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Voter suppression is cloaked in many forms. Rev. William Barber, of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, understands voter suppression, "Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America's elections." In 2013, the conservative-led Supreme Court eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and opened the gates for states to enact their own voter suppression laws. In a 5-to-4 vote, the Court gave nine states, mostly in the South, the power to change their election laws without prior advance federal approval. The approval clause in the act countered "Jim Crow" state and local laws. Since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, a total of 34 states have laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. It takes us back to the "Jim Crow" days.

Additional voter suppression came with closures of early voting, the elimination of voting places, breakdowns in voting machines, and long waiting lines. On election day, 2016, states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina had 868 fewer polling places. Thirty-two new voter identification laws were in force by 2016, the first presidential election after the major change in our Voting Rights Act. Prior to the 2016 election, Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, expressed concern. "We are concerned that this year (2016) is going to be the worst year ever when it comes to voter suppression at the polls for Arab-Americans, Muslim Americans and those perceived to be either Arab or Muslim."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

guamcoatofarmsGuam is at the center of a nuclear standoff, but its US citizens cannot even vote for president. (Photo: Seal of Guam)

Guam made worldwide news on Wednesday when North Korea threatened to envelop it in fire in response to Donald Trump's threat to attack North Korea with "fire and fury." Guam is a US territory that serves as a massive military base. It has about 160,000 US residents who are American citizens. However, even though they are currently the focus of North Korea's destructive missile threats, people born on Guam are not able to vote in US presidential elections unless they move to a US state.

Thus, even though Guam may today be ground zero for a US nuclear standoff, its people have no say in electing a president who may make the decision to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on North Korea. In turn, North Korea is threatening a return nuclear strike on Guam.

According to an August 9 article in the Los Angeles Times,

It wasn't the first time the island has been on the receiving end of Pyongyang's threats. There was similarly ominous talk from North Korea in 2013, making specific note that Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, among other Pacific territories, lay within target range.

Still, many residents were worried about the unpredictability of North Korea's leader, and by the warnings of "enveloping fire" emanating from Kim's capital.

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